What we read this week (2 Dec)

Russell Davies & the post-digital, Gidsy could change things, why we are surprised about our lack of surprise about the future, a prototype worth a 1000 ideas, a retrospective on Zuck’s apologies are just a few of the things we read this week & highly recommend.

Quotes of the week

The best advice I could possibly give you, and forgive me if this seems glib, is to work. Work. Work. Work. Every day. At the same time every day. For as long as you can take it every day, work, work, work. Understand? Talent is for shit.

Barry Moser

A digital strategy is a plan to engage and empower networks of people, connected by shared interests, to satisfy a measurable business objective.

Bud Caddell

Articles of the week

What we read this week (25 Nov)

Payment isn’t the future of NFC, Facebook is ruining sharing, privacy online is hard (so here are a few pointers), the US are building a firewall and Amber Case shares her mind-blowing tech setup. Enjoy!

  • Why payment isn’t the future of NFC
    Janne Jalkanen knows a things or two about NFC. Before becoming the CTO of the up and coming Finnish startup Thinglink, he worked for Nokia and was there known as ‘The Godfather of NFC’. Here he muses about why mobile payment is by far not the most interesting way to use NFC and what he hopes for that will come out of this technology. (➟ Instapaper)
  • CNET: How Facebook is ruining sharing
    Molly Wood share a very good analysis of the new “frictionless” sharing mechanisms in Facebook. They might not be such a good idea after all, and it’s obvious already that they make us more hesitant to click on links inside the social network. (➟ Instapaper)
  • Facebook is Gaslighting the Web. We Can Fix It
    Anil Dash with a scathing analysis of Facebook’s content sharing policies: Facebook has moved from merely being a walled garden into openly attacking its users’ ability and willingness to navigate the rest of the web. The evidence that this is true even for sites which embrace Facebook technologies is overwhelming, and the net result is that Facebook is gaslighting users into believing that visiting the web is dangerous or threatening. (➟ Instapaper)
  • Debating Privacy in a Networked World for the WSJ
    Researcher Danah Boyd shares indepth insights into the way privacy works online, and gives pointers for companies to get it right. (➟ Instapaper)
  • NYTimes: Firewall Law Could Infringe on Free Speech
    Rebecca MacKinnon, founder of Global Voices, summarizes the damage the so-called Stop Online Piracy Act would have – a bill discussed in the US House of Representatives that would emulate China’s system of corporate “self-discipline,” making companies liable for users’ actions. The burden would be on the Web site operator to prove that the site was not being used for copyright infringement. The effect on user-generated sites like YouTube would be chilling. (➟ Instapaper)
  • The Setup of Amber Case
    True geeks that we are, we love to learn how our peers set up their technology infrastructure. UseThis asked UX Designer and Cyborg Anthropologist Amber Case about her tech setup, and it’s absolutely fascinating. Mind=blown. (➟ Instapaper)
  • HBR: The Question That Will Change Your Organization
    Polly Labarre with a great reminder why questions rule. (➟ Instapaper)
  • Everything is a service
    Service is kinda big these days, nothing new here. But Dave Gray of Dachis Group has written a big article, connecting a lot of dots and giving a great overview about the change in our economy. (➟ Instapaper)
  • HBR: What I Learned Building the Apple Store
    Ron Johnson, CEO of J.C. Penney and former senior VP for retail at Apple, about how you don’t need Apple products to be successful in retail. (➟ Instapaper)
  • On Systems and Strategy
    Clay Parker Jones, another brilliant mind at Undercurrent, “explores the features of adaptable systems and puts forward four key things that will help you design strategies that don’t suck.” He looks at a lot of real world systems and how their creators try to fail proof them (sometimes without success). (➟ Instapaper)
  • Luddite legacy
    Technology is now killing jobs faster than it’s creating new ones. And more and more, the machines don’t even need workers to operate them. The only way to create new jobs today is to go for the things that “make people human”. (➟ Instapaper)

Btw. we really like what Evernote has done with Clearly, a Chrome extension that, similar to Readability, allows you to read content on the web in a much more comfortable fashion. If you read the articles above in Chrome, we highly recommend using Clearly.

What we read this week (18 Nov)

While we retreat for a few days of strategic planning, brainstorming and relaxation, we have a long list of fantastic reading material for you. Enjoy!

Cyborgs, identities & asking the right questions

We’re all cyborgs, says our friend Sami Niemelä in a talk he gave at Playful Conference in London the other day. Some thoughts on how human and machine identities, and why we can’t find answers just yet.

Our friend and former CoCities speaker Sami Niemalä (of Nordkapp fame) gave a talk at Playful. Sadly we had to miss it, but he posted his slides online:

I love the way he dives into the discussion if (and how) we qualify as cyborgs. More importantly, though, he shows nicely how the future isn’t the polished thing it was expected to be back in the olden, black-and-white days. Instead it’s gorgeously broken and bursting full of weirdness (tweeting plants are just the top of the iceberg).

As he points out, designing machines and household appliances to behave in a human way (if that’s even desirable) is hard:

Should every single thing at your house have needs and feelings? Would you like to have an emo couch or the more rational one. Is this a question you want to think about?

We’re still figuring out the right questions

This is something we need to think about much, much more. While we in the industry are experimenting with certain types of behaviors, and the industry as a whole is going through various stages of learning, it’s important that we remember that we won’t solve any of these questions. In fact, I believe we’re nowehere near a point where we can even try to answer any of these questions, and are rather at a point where we’re still trying to figure out the right questions.

And we see this popping up all over the place: Sami collected a few great examples of weirdness and Uncanny Valley in his presentation. We’ve been discussing software agents that (seem to) emulate human behaviors like Foursquare check-ins, Retweets and (re-)blogging with David Bausola. (He builds some of those software agents. They’re called Weavrs. I set up a few to experiment, and they’re roaming the web freely, which is fascinating to no end.)

Identities

Speaking of identities. While software, services, products have long since started to develop identities that at least emulate human behavior, we haven’t even figured out how to project real human identity on the web.

Above, you see a talk by Christopher Poole, aka moot, founder of 4chan and its tamer brother Canvas. At Web 2.0 Summit, he explored the different ways that the big services like Facebook and Google approach identity. And he (rightfully, I think) smacks them left and right:

Google and Facebook would have you believe that you’re a mirror, but in fact, we’re more like diamonds.

The current model on the web is to assume that you have one identity, and that you just need to be able to share different bits of information with different groups. But our online identities should be multi-faceted, since that’s how it works in the physical world as well. As Chris Poole states, it’s not about who we share to (as Google+ assumes with Circles, and Facebook with lists), but who we share as. Am I posting this as a friend, coworker, son?

This is a hugely complex topic; yet, it’s one of those big questions that we need to work out. In our work, when we talk to clients, we often don’t have simple answers for these questions. (In fact, if anyone claimed they had simple answers, I’d be seriously suspicious.) What we try, though, is to work out the right questions, and then take it from there.

We produce more data, more and different data trails; we can access big data & aggregated data; increasingly personal data, too. When you look at building a service or product, make sure to look at the different aspects & contexts of data and identities, of how your thing might be used in different contexts. And allow for plenty of experimentation – you might not yet be asking the right questions. We’ve been exploring this cluster of topics and data trails (ranging from web data to city data to body data and beyond) in various formats, from Cognitive Cities Conference to talks and workshops at PICNIC and WINnovation, and we’ll keep digging. Follow this blog and our tweets for upcoming workshops.

What we read this week (9 Sep)

Every week, we filter a few of the most relevant articles about the digital business for you. Here’s our hand-selected reading list for the weekend. Enjoy!

It seems like last week’s first test round of our reading list hit a sweet spot. So we’ll try and do this on a weekly basis for a little while and see how it goes. Please do let us know if it’s helpful for you. I present to you a small selection of the most relevant things we read this week:

Enjoy your weekend reading!

Every week, we filter a few of the most relevant articles about the digital business for you. You can see all our recommendations (including the archives) at “What we read this week“.

What we read this week

There’s a lot to read out there, every day, every week. It’s part of our job to dig in and find the most relevant discussions. Thus I present to you an eclectic mix of some of the must read articles about what’s happening in the digital business.

There’s a lot to read out there, every day, every week. It’s part of our job to dig in and find the most relevant discussions. So we figured we might as well surface some of them to give you an at-a-glance overview of what we find relevant for our business. And thus I present to you an eclectic mix of some of the must read articles. If you have the time to read only a few articles this week about what’s happening in digital businesses, these are a good start.

I’m curious to learn if this is a useful format for you. Let me know!