A La Carte Internet Means No Internet

A La Carte Internet, does that mean anything to you? Is the free and open Internet a thing of the past? When I asked Benedetta to write a story up about Net neutrality, I was mostly thinking about a potential two-speed Internet. What she discovered when researching the subject was that very few people cared about this. It is as if no one cared about their own right to free speech and free enterprise. Now what is happening and was revealed by the Wall Street Journal last night, is another kind of threat, where the Internet is directly manipulated by authoritarian Governments so as to show, or rather hide, certain websites to transform the free network which we know and love into some sort of A la Carte Internet. Much more of a threat than anything we had ever imagined.

To an extent, what we are witnessing in some Middle Eastern countries and namely Egypt, where already 500 websites have been blocked, is not really new. China banned Facebook nearly 10 years ago and believe it or not, not many voices have been heard to pinpoint the fact that the largest country in the world was walling off the free Internet and at the same time, freedom of speech. Instead, we hear songs of praise for the new Chinese behemoths whereas in fact as all Chinese Internet companies are vetted by the ever more powerful government, and have been able to grow because of steps that were taken to stifle competition in the country and namely preventing American companies from stepping in (let me tell you, they are not alone).

A la carte Internet - WSJ
WSJ warns us agains an A la Carte Internet designed by dictators

The irony is, as Sir Tim Berners-Lee rightfully pointed out not so long ago, that these very American Internet companies — even though we love them — might also a threat to the free Internet and certainly open innovation. Not because they are “wicked”, but because they are now part of a de facto monopoly. Voices are heard here and there about dismantling Google and other companies which made the Internet what it is today, not to mention Facebook.

An A La Carte Internet means no Internet at all

To sum up, there are three major threats surrounding the preservation — not to mention further development — of the free Internet : one is the oligopoly which concentrates so much of the power of the Internet in the hands of a few businesses and is fought — somewhat clumsily most of the time — by the European Union. A second threat is made of the so-called two-speed Internet advocated by some, namely in the US but also in Europe (therefore promising a “faster Internet” which is a way of slowing down the information superhighway we have grown to love and build upon throughout the years). A third one, probably the least auspicious, is made by censorship as shown in the following WSJ piece. It is really high time that Europeans — and people around the world — wake up and read Benedetta’s article if we do not want to be imposed this A la Carte Internet because an A la Carte Internet means no Internet at all. Read more

Skiing Connected: Digital is a Must On and Off the Slopes at Ski Resorts

The snow is here. The mountains put on their beautiful white coats.  It’s time for the ski season. Before, the ski vacation checklist was limited mainly to the equipment: skis, jackets, gloves, boots. Today everything is different. The list also includes: tablets, laptops, and primarily smartphones: It is out of the question to travel without technology! Only 4% of French people go entirely offline when on holiday, and 81% of Americans admit that their smartphone is their number one travel accessoryPeople will always wish to go skiing, and the snow industry has a bright future, but no one wants to be cut off from the world while on a mountain. We are entering the era of skiing connected

We are living in the era of immediacy and sharing. As skiers, we want everything to be done in this way to make our vacation a unique customer experience. There is a real revolution in behavior. The resorts have understood the stakes and the interest for their image and notoriety: Today, for more than 80% of [French skiiers], Wi-Fi access is a selection criterion when choosing a ski resort.  Also, 31% of people in America only select a hotel if it offers free Wi-Fi. Every year, resorts are investing more in IoT and connected infrastructures. Resorts have even implemented something called smart station – a new technology that is available to facilitate the lives of holidaymakers and ensure their comfort.

skiing connected

Skiing Connected: Wi-Fi for all and everywhere

The primary objective of the ski resorts is simple: to offer access to Wi-Fi to everyone everywhere, whether through optical fiber or radio links, a free Wi-Fi central point, or an individual pocket wifi. All amenities at ski resorts are created to satisfy the customer. (e.g., since 2015 the resort of Les Gets [has offered] its holidaymakers a pocket Wifi system enabling them to stay connected everywhere, even when on holiday)A customer’s satisfaction starts with internet access. Nowadays, we want to be able to share everything immediately. The resorts have understood this need have acted to improve. There are more and more photo points installed in front of the most beautiful photo spots of different ski areas. The photo points ensure beautiful photos and selfies for skiers, that of course – thanks to the connected structures – can immediately be shared for our greatest happiness.

Skiing Connected
The photo points are set up so you can use your self-timer, stand in front of the Grande Motte Mont Blanc gold and smile!

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Fighting Infobesity With Chris Lewis [ Too Fast To Think ]

Too Fast To Think Chris Lewis: infobesity

Infobesity is all around us and it’s killing creativity. So is, in a nutshell, what one coud say of Too fast to think, the latest book written by Chris Lewis. Chris is an ex-journalist, and the founder and CEO of one of the largest independent communications companies in the World (Lewis employs 700 people in 27 countries). I met Chris virtually over Skype a few weeks ago and I had a chat with him about his book, infobesity, our quest for information and our ability – or inability – to process it and foster innovation. In this insightful video interview, and in his book, I found many lessons which could be useful to you, with regard to your own usage of digital and possibly the way one could try and manage multitasking employees. Above all, you will learn that thinking too fast, may be a really bad idea.

Too fast to think, too slow to edit

I can’t be blamed for thinking too fast, Chris will have to give me credit for that . I interviewed him on January 19, 2017 and it took me nearly 3 weeks to edit this video and a few more hours to compose this blog post. This is without taking into account the fact that 2 months were necessary for us to synchronise our diaries. That being said, I really enjoyed Chris’s point about what he called the “conceit of speed”. One is thrown into a world where communications has never been so easy and plentiful but this only gives us the illusion of communications. And speed. That takes us back to the organisation of our interview I should say.

So we take refuge in our phones and our screens but what is left of our ability to converse and truly socialise? (To that effect I also point you to a video interview of Simon Sinek which is dedicated to millennials but applies to all of us).

Too Fast to think buy the book: infobesity

Tools should be our servants and infobesity is making it hard for us to think

“Tools should be our servants, we should not serve [them]” (this quote of Chris’s should be passed on to my students and without doubt it will).

My video interview with Chris Lewis, CEO (Oops! Sorry, “Grand Enchilada”) of Lewis 

At the heart of Chris Lewis’s thinking there is the fact that infobesity is all around us. An endless flow of RSS feeds, headlines and breaking news to which he himself confesses being a slave. Looking for examples of bad habits in information consumption he admits that he embodies it (“you are looking at it” he said facetiously). He’s a “news junkie and a workaholic” and therefore, he can easily describe what affects our inability to analyse and, as he rightfully puts it, “connect the dots”.

Information overload, he went on, means we are trying to keep up, and as a consequence, his conclusion is that today’s “level of ideas and conceptualisation is diminishing” and that “information overload and infobesity are beginning to erode our fundamental inate ability to solve problems”.

That doesn’t bode too well. So what should we do about it? Read more