Adblocking: a cat-and-mouse game built on trust

Adblocking is a hot topic these days. A never ending cat and mouse game between advertisers and consumers in which ingenious developers are constantly finding new ways of avoiding or trying to avoid advertising pressure. What Adblocking is showing us too is a lack of trust on the part of consumers. Who else but Doc Searls, one of the co-writers of the celebrated Cluetrain Manifesto was in better position to raise the subject? This is exactly what he did at our late September meeting in Prague*. Once more, consumer trust ranked high on the agenda.

“Adblocking is becoming a big deal and it’s even one of the biggest downloads and even more so in certain countries like Germany and Austria” Doc said in his introduction to the subject. “This has grown and grown and journalists are describing it as a War now”. Even better, Apple has made this decision to add adblocking in the IOS 9 SDK. You will then be able to block whatever you want. “Immediately after this change” Doc said, “Adblockers became the most popular apps on the store”. 

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Doc Searls talking about Adblocking in front of the panel of ODR experts at the Prague September meeting organised by Youstice

Adblocking: Apple knows before consumers they really need it

“It’s very easy for the Press to describe this as an Apple vs Google feud” Doc added “but the point is somewhere else”. Doc’s argument is that Apple is making it easy for consumers, because “they know what the customers want even before they know themselves what they want”. Apple has indeed taught us to expect the unexpected, offer products we don’t need apparently, and then once the object has been created we suddenly realise we are craving for it.

One of the interesting things about the Adblock controversies is that it emphasises that our world works through advertising. “But online, the junk-mail world has taken over and this isn’t what we were expecting” Doc added. Things have gone out of control. The publishing world acts as if they didn’t understand what is happening. To them, this is how the world works and that’s that but “we, as consumers, we have never signed up for this”.

Why do we need trust in business?

Lea Whing has an interesting point to make on this. when Doc Searls mentions trust, what are we hearing? “Are we only interested in trust because this is what will trigger consumer purchase?” She asked wittily, “or is it because people need it? If so, what do customers really need?”

Read more

The real Internet of Things seen by Web pioneers

This weekend is a very special one. On October 18-19th, 2014 quite a few pioneers from all over the world will gather to debate about what the real Internet of things really is about and other subjects which are all listed per below. They are all being invited by Youstice, the leading start-up which is revolutionising customer relationship management all over the world [disclosure: Youstice is our client]. Here are the invitees of this meeting, amongst whom we find Ether Dyson (1st head of ICANN and one of the first persons I saw on Channel 4 in 1994 talking about the Internet) and Doc Searls (one of the co-writers of the obligatory cluetrain manifesto still available at http://cluetrain.com). I will keep you posted at visionary marketing and LinkedIn about the outcome of these discussions and what we have learnt from these pioneers of the Internet about the Internet of things and a few other subjects.

Stay tuned!

Prague, Czech Republic

 

PARTICIPANTS:

 

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Esther Dyson
  • Yang Jianzheng (China) 
  • Yann Gourvennec (France) : CEO and founder of Visionary Marketing.
  • Yoshi Hayakawa and Megumi Ohkubo (Japan) 
  • Zbyněk Loebl (Czech Republic) : CEO at Youstice.
  • Also for Youstice: Karina Ludz, Patric Illigen and Rado Bonk

 

 

TOPICS OF DISCUSSION:

 

Delegates who proposed the topics will introduce them briefly as an introduction to the discussion.

 

·         Terms and policies individuals assert.

·         The real Internet of Things.

·         Is it safe to buy from this retailer in that country? What should be considered?

·         The relationship between the collaborative economy’s focus on positive social impact and mutuality and how that creates untapped or under-tapped opportunities for ODR.

·         Implications for ODR of the many new services for online personal buying assistants (both automated and live) that we are seeing in e-commerce?

 

Passwords: This Necessary Evil [infographics]

computer-large-newPasswords are ubiquitous. We all use them and despite the fact that we keep grumbling that they aren’t good enough, we still rely on them in order to protect our most precious information like bank account details, personal and electronic commerce details and such like. What I learned today while looking at Ken Peterson’s infographics is that passwords, as it were, aren’t a new invention. They were created with WWII for cyphers and were adapted in 1972 to become the classic passwords as we know them. Yet, however important, passwords are still misused by users who use the same passwords for multiple sites (73%), use the same passwords for all their sites (33%), or even use the word “passwords” and other niceties as a secret code. all sources for stats are quoted at the end of the picture.

A Free Yet Legal Copy of Microsoft Office on Your Tablet With Cloudon

Let’s make the most of the summer with a bit of light reading and what I would call the application of the week: cloudon. I have selected a number of applications which I find particularly good or changed my way of working, or of entertaining myself, unless it’s both. This week, I will dwell on the cloud on iPad application, which I find really extraordinary, and I really wonder whether these guys are making money out of this and how. Is this the latest mystery of the new economy?

We will start with a visit to the application website in order to confirm that the application is available both for android and iOS. The application is available for both iPhones and iPads, and I will focus on the iPad version here in this blog post.

Step number 1: once the location has been installed, fire it up. First and foremost you will have to fine-tune the settings so they have access to your online cloud discs: four spaces are available with cloud on, which you can use concurrently. As far as I’m concerned, I have set up Google drive and Skydrive (by Microsoft’s, by far my preferred, because I was one of the first users, so that I have access to 25 GB free of charge). I left dropbox and box on the side for the moment by can you back to it later and at them to my final if I so wish. All that is needed to complete this setup is to let cloud on access your online disc by clicking the button “authorise”.

Step number 2: once your online disc has been selected (here I chose Skydrive), the folder structure of your disk is then displayed to you, and you can choose the list or icon formats from the top menu.

Step number 3: Once I’ve changed the display to icon mode which I find more convenient, I can then select the folder in which I have stored all the draft pieces for my blog. I call it “blog posts”.

Step number 4: I then select the relevant blog piece in word format. I can see on the screen but it was last changed on 24 June at 7:39 AM.

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Step number 5: once you’ve clicked on the right file, it is then downloaded from the Internet. It is subsequently displayed, see the following screen grab, directly on my tablet into a Microsoft word window, more or less identical to the one I have on my PC (in fact it is a simplified version of Microsoft Word 2010, similar to the one you can find Skydrive itself). The greatest weaknesses that I spot in this application, is in my minde the relative slowness of download of the file (even more so if the file is really big like the entirety of our forthcoming book typescript for instance). My hunch is that we will see performance improving significantly within the next few months if this kind of applications remain in the future. As a matter of fact, what we are witnessing here is more than just another application but the implementation of something which I have described many times on this blog, which is called “ubiquitous computing” and was invented, I mean the concept, by the late Mark Weiser in the late 1980s. The missing link though is connectivity, as always, even though enormous headway has been made in the past few years. My guess is that it will take another 2 to 3 years, maybe 5, before we enjoy seamless connectivity coverage, with the kind of comfort that I experience while sitting behind my PC, connected via Ethernet on my 100 Mbs fibre access.

Step number 6: I can then write directly into the file which is editable in real time ; in order to prove this I have underlined a word by clicking at length on it, which triggered the contextual Microsoft menu which everybody knows. This the tablet equivalent to the right click of the mouse on a computer

Step number 7: then click the icon on the top bar which represents a compass on the top right-hand side of the screen, and this will open the menu which will make it possible for you to create a new file: either a spreadsheet (maybe not the most convenient type of file for tablets), a wordprocessing Word document, or a PowerPoint presentation. I decide to choose the latter…

Step number 8:  I then rename this new file which will be saved directly  in the original folder.

Step number 9:  an empty PowerPoint file will then be opened , which I will be able to populate exactly as if I were on my computer,  with a simplified version of PowerPoint 2010. This is a simplified version,  but yet, it is very usable, and it caters for basic Microsoft templates for instance. in order to create a presentation with a personalised template, I recommend that you use a presentation which you have created beforehand (with no content preferably ) in order to make the most of all the available screen layouts. This will save you a lot of time and will make it unnecessary for you to spend hours twiddling page templates on the tablet which is not very convenient.  You can then focus on adding text but also clipart, images, video etc. It is in fact very easy for you to modify an existing PowerPoint presentation and even create one directly from the tablet, and then synchronise the file directly on your computer , or vice versa.  I remind you that, with Skydrive, you do not need to own a local version of Microsoft PowerPoint, because it is available online too. Personally, being a teacher and benefiting from the special teacher/student price for Microsoft Office, I still think that owning a local Microsoft license is preferable.

Beyond the fact that this application is nice and convenient and mostly free of charge, one may ask oneself a few questions. On the one hand, what will be the business model of Microsoft in the next few years ? I could actually bet on the fact that access to software will be increasingly “cloudified”, namely from the moment that connectivity is really improved and made seamless and ubiquitous. from then on, I really wonder whether software which you either install or download is a model which will survive for very long .  This, however , is the model on which Microsoft thrived for so many years. Besides,  I really have a few questions about the business model of cloudon itself; I mean beyond its potential acquisition by Microsoft one day.

I also found it very strange that cloudon has had little coverage on the Web since 2012 , even though a great number of downloads have already been  performed  by users . I would be surprised if the Palo Alto company decided to remain silent , and maybe one day , what Geoffrey Moore calls the early majority will catch up with the “visionaries , dreamers and doers”. Wired pointed out  rightfully  that  the application’s limits came from the fact that the data was stored on the cloud, which rendered the display a little blurry but usable anyhow. this is a valid remark, but I couldn’t find that problem with PowerPoint, which I found to be the most useful application of the three.

There are a few limits with regard to the use of this application in presentation mode, but in our case I would recommend a more specialised application which I will describe in a forthcoming blog post.  As Wired pointed out, it is still very difficult to use such applications in order to create a presentation from scratch and the use of cloud on is , probably for today, limited to minor edits.

My hunch is that the self-proclaimed “visionaries” of Palo Alto shall not be deterred.

Time will tell…

The love-hate relationship of Governments with “cyberspace”

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A few weeks ago I started contributing to the innovation generation blogs, an initiative sponsored by Alcatel. Here is my first piece entitled: Governments Ease Into Cyberspace.

In October 2012 I took part in the Conference on Cyberspace, an event put together by the Hungarian government on behalf of the international community. The conference hall was packed with ministers, dignitaries, and ambassadors, as well as a few business people like myself. My pitch was about the importance of the digital economy, and I learned that approaches can differ greatly depending on countries.

The conference title is eye opening. I hadn’t heard the term “cyberspace” since the beginning of the 1990s. Today, 81 percent of the UK population is using the Internet; we all spend our days in cyberspace, so it doesn’t need to be called that anymore. My hunch is that governments still perceive the digital economy as something on the side that they need to embrace — maybe reluctantly. I also know of too many businesses that still see the Internet in that manner. They are the ones that won’t be there in a few years.

[the digital economy and the public sector are, sometimes, worlds apart]

Developing markets are where things will happen and are already happening. Tunisia, Morocco, Egypt, India, and even Albania are among those showing the most progress. The effort Albania is putting into digitizing schools and government institutions and procedures is amazing. The country went from nothing in 2005 to a situation where “all possible government services are pushed online” in the words of Genc Pollo, its innovation and ICT minister.

Similarly, India’s conference representative showed determination and poise. In India, information technology and the Internet are clearly seen as big opportunities, not just for business, but also for national development. Yet I couldn’t get the same feeling of passion from the more developed countries’ presentations. Western economies have a lot to worry about at a time when industrialization is faltering and the digital economy already weighs so much.

My peers on the panel about the digital economy and growth agreed with me that there is a serious disconnect between politicians and business people. This is not a matter of scorn or disregard. What it means is that we are not on the same wavelength. Most policy makers wish to foster growth and seduce innovators and entrepreneurs. Unfortunately, the language they use is often incomprehensible to the business community.

Living and breathing open data
Governments speak of open data as a goal, but we have lived and breathed open data for years (more than a decade, in fact, for many of us on that panel). Sharing information has always been a staple of Internet marketing. Our Websites must contain what Vincent Flanders calls “addictive content.”

The European journal ePractice said in a 2011 report that governments are coming to grips with this, but too often the rubber doesn’t meet the road, due to “the closed culture within government, which is caused by a general fear of the disclosure of government failures.” Not only can citizens benefit from open data, but businesses can, too, by proposing services and applications based on such data.

Control and ownership is probably one of the most difficult issues for government authorities. All governments want to embrace the openness of the Web and its promise of a porous global economy. At the same time, an unfiltered democracy in which all expressions are allowed is a serious challenge. There was a precedent for that debate with the eG8 forum that took place in Paris in 2011.

It’s hard to tell whether the Conference on Cyberspace will change the way governments and their citizens use the Internet or if our efforts to promote the digital economy will prove successful. It also seems that the Web grew organically from day one. Then citizens, governments, and businessmen embraced it and broke a few laws en passant. Then regulations were put in place, and all moved to the next thing. This chaotic yet pragmatic way of enforcing innovation has proven very efficient. I’m certain it will remain the case.