What we read this week (20 Jul)

Our articles of the week talk about brands in science fiction, startups in the Philippines, mobile vs mobility, predicting violence with algorithms, and empathizing with machines.

Quotes of the week

The invisibility of something [doesn’t imply] its lack of being.

Werner Herzog

What if the “posthuman” isn’t being a cyborg but instead being a cell in a giant’s body, helping to enable a vast consciousness that you’re never aware of and that is never aware of you?

Alan Jacobs

Articles of the week

  • The New Yorker: A Word From Our Sponsors
    Science Fiction got it right again. It’s interesting to consider, in light of brand power struggles at the London Olympics, what impact marketing and corporate culture are having on everyday life. This is a good example of how speculative fiction can bring us to question such situations and ask ourselves: do we want that?
  • SGEntrepreneurs: The Philippine startup scene: Asia’s best kept secret?
    An in-depth article on the current state of the startup scene in the Philippines, particularly the cultural and economic factors that influence the choice of field for new companies.
  • David Armano: The Future Isn’t About Mobile; It’s About Mobility
    Throwing yourself out there isn’t enough anymore – this also applies to the mobile web ecosystem. David Armano recommends that we get acquainted with patterns in modern digital behavior and advises us to learn how to differentiate between mobile and mobility.
  • LA Times: Computer analysis predicted rises, ebbs in Afghanistan violence
    A group of friends, who happened to be computer experts, decided to make something out of the endless data on war in Afghanistan released by WikiLeaks in 2010. Based on the data they extracted by using simple code, they managed to predict fluctuations in the country’s violence.
  • Olivia Rosane: the ROOMBA whirrs for thee
    Reading through the @SelfAwareROOMBA Twitter feed has an uncanny effect: you begin to empathize with a machine. (A vacuum cleaner, no less.) Olivia Rosane does a beautiful job of analyzing the mechanics that cause us to experience genuine emotion in response to tweets from this lonely and perceptive character, and how a Twitter feed comes to take on a personality we can identify with.

We’ve put this week’s reads into a Readlist for your mobile perusal. Enjoy!

Week 43

What we think about competition vs collaboration. Also featured: a military tent, the future of urban mobility, user feedback and a tourist recommendation.

We often get surprised looks when we mention who we work with, or plan joint projects with. Aren’t these guys your competition? is a question we hear very regularly. Usually our answer is: Not really. Let me explain.

Many of those that might be perceived as our competitors are rather collaborators, partners or friends. (Sometimes all of the above.) Maybe we work together, with us focusing on strategy, our partner on execution; maybe we bring the experience with Social, the other with Change Management; or maybe both sides just have very different, but compatible networks.

Actually, there aren’t even that many direct competitors for us: We’re in a fairly specialized niche, and we’re only three people. (Ok, we’re also pretty confident when it comes to our skills and experience.) There is overlap with potential competitors in many areas, but as often as not we work with them directly. Examples? The big agency networks all offer strategy, they all offer Social Media. So we’re competitors, right? Right? Quite the opposite is true. Since we’re much smaller and much more focused, we work a lot for these same large agencies. Another scenario: We’re the lead for a client project, and that project goes beyond strategy and into execution. So we get others on board, too – maybe a freelancer, maybe another agency.

What else?

We built a presentation deck to explain what it is we’re doing for those who don’t know us as well, and we asked a few trusted folks for feedback. Thank you all! My mind was blown by the level of feedback (both in depth and detail) we got, and it was tremendously helpful. Personally, I feel almost humbled by the time & effort put into the feedback, and it served as a great reminded how essential it is to get “user feedback” early on. Our presentation looks very different now than even a week or so ago. We’re almost ready to release it to the public.

In other news, I spent a day in a military tent. (Yes, that’s right.) While the rain was drumming against the roof, we discussed the future of urban mobility & connectivity for a car brand, brainstorming with some members of the Platoon network. To me it’s endlessly fascinating to see how car manufacturers in general are re-aligning themselves with the market out there: At least in the urban areas of industrialized countries, less and less people choose to own cars. (It’s different in many emerging economies.) Car manufacturers are pivoting from producing big chunks of metal to becoming urban mobility providers. There are huge opportunities here. Car sharing, e-mobility and parking spot finder apps are only the very beginning of a larger shift. And it’s going to be interesting to watch that space.

Where to find us this week

Johannes will be in Bremen Tuesday and Wednesday, Igor and I are going to stay in Berlin.

ps. On a personal note, Igor and I recently went on a tour through the Bundestag complex. I had been before, but I have to say I was impressed all over again. If you are interested in politics and architecture, and are planning a trip to Berlin, go to their website and pre-arrange a group tour to skip the long lines, and make sure to bring a camera.

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