gapingvoid is interested in start-up culture, because changing business for the better is what we’re about; that’s what Social Object Factory is about. We live and breathe it; we help everyone from lone entrepreneurs, to mid-sizers, to Fortune 500’s do the same. Check out our work here.
We create art that helps companies kick ass, end of story.
The big news for us this week was, we were part of the Path 3.0 launch that just happened at SXSW.
Basically, we designed a bunch of e-stickers for the new store they built inside the app. It was a fun gig that will hopefully get our work in a different, new context. From The Next Web link above:
The stickers have been put together in collections called ‘packs’ that run $1.99 and contain a dozen or more stickers. Two packs are free with the latest update and Path says that it has worked with artists like David Lanham, Hugh Macleod and Richard Perez to make more packs that you can snag via the shop.
Very cool. Jason and I visted the their offices in San Francisco last week for the first time, just before the launch.
What struck me was how the dining tables were the most architecturally dominant part of the space. By far the largest room in the office.
There’s a reason why families have always eaten together, down the ages (and you could call a startup a ‘family’, of sorts). Sharing food is one of most important and inclusive rituals.
The “friends gathered round” idea seems to be an apt metaphor for Path itself…
Congrats to the Path team for the new launch, very exciting!
[P.S. Dave Morin, the founder and CEO of Path is also a good friend and long-time customer of gapingvoid, he’s bought a ton of art from us over the years. We also met for the first time last year at Techcrunch Disrupt. Thanks for bringing us in, Dave!]
[This is what we have so far. Jason (our CEO) wrote most of it. We feel we’re on the cusp of something, now we just need to make it more real for other people. Feedback welcome, thanks. Exciting!]
Business is language. Business is about communication.
Art is is the undiscovered UX of business.
We live in incredible times.
Every single person on this earth has the capacity to make a difference… the
ability to lead, and leave their mark.
Every business is driven by forces far more powerful and profound than money.
We help businesses discover and articulate their purpose,
We help people make a difference,
We help leaders inspire.
We help businesses kick ass.
We create social objects that transform organizations, start conversations,
and spread ideas at lightning speed.
We live in incredible times. And as long as there is one person on this earth who does not agree, there is still work to be done.
Any Company/Cause/Political Party/Religion that communicates more clearly and concisely stands a better chance at winning. Art bridges this communication gap.
It is perceived as more genuine, More honest, less varnished.
Well conceived art gets attention organically
Art allows you to have conversations that you couldn’t otherwise have.
Art is a lever for action.
Art creates connection.
Art is shorthand to communicate complex issues.
Art creates community.
Art connects with a different part of the brain.
Art is Visual. Visual communications are 10x more effective than written communication.
Give a gift basket and be remembered for a week, give a print and be remembered forever.
We want to transform the world of business by transforming the world of office art.
Most people believe that the act of decorating the walls of their office is seemingly one that is decided by taste: The colors of the art on the wall need not clash with the furniture, carpet or CEO’s aesthetic sensibilities.
In reality, act of decorating the walls of your office is a critical business and we believe, a moral decision. It can either set the stage for greatness and innovation, or set the stage for perpetuating the dreary, gloomy and monotonous world that is your business. It has nothing to do with aesthetics, and everything to do with purpose. The purpose and beliefs of your business.
If you could steer the course of your business by simply making a different decision about what hangs on the walls, why wouldn’t you?
Many business leaders do not realize that environment influences everything at work: Job satisfaction, problem solving, creativity, contentment and effectiveness.
You want positive outcomes? Then start with positive work spaces. Your office environment is the compass that guides how people view what they do and how they live their work life.
If you understand what your beliefs are, what your core values are, and how you want people to view why you do what you do, then you should shout those beliefs and values from every available space in your office.
Let the walls talk, guide and ground. Let inspiration hang in the air and have your people breathe and be surrounded by the bright glow of the goodness that your business represents.
The idea of deciding what wall coverings hang on your walls, isn’t about décor.
It is about purpose, culture, and values. Inform your culture, motivate your teams and send a message to the world that will have astounding impact every day of the year.
Earlier this month the team and I attended Techrunch Disrupt in San Francisco, a most awesome event for the tech and startup community, where I got some awesome “Live-Tooning” done… 75 cartoons in three days, or something like that. Phew!
Techcrunch kindly set me up in a front-row seat (in an live audience of three thousand), giving me a great view of all the action on stage– I was only a few feet away throughout.
We also had a booth in the trade show area, a nice focal point to meet and greet people, exchange business cards etc.
Thanks to Techcrunch for so graciously having me along… On a personal note, a few thoughts:
1. I’ve done a lot of public speaking for events over the years, but I much prefer “Live-Tooning”. There are a lot of internet-celebrity-rockstars out there doing the public speaking circuit already (including some very good friends of mine), but very few Live-Tooners. Gary Vee and Seth Godin might be masters at what they do, but they can’t do what I can do; it’s good to have one’s own niche that nobody can touch.
2. I heard a rumor while in San Francisco that Techcrunch is now making more money off their events than they are off their blog. That may or may not be true; that being said, it’s increasingly obvious to anyone paying attention that people are willing to pay real money to mix with real people, especially people that they inherently want to meet… far more than they are willing to pay for online content [Of course they are!].
In other words, EVENTS are a bigger and bigger deal in the marketing mix than they ever were. Give geeks a message in the pages of a magazine, they mostly ignore it. Give the geeks a good time and the opportunity to do some good business, they pay attention. Noe of this is rocket science…
3. It was great seeing the Techcrunch team doing so well. Transitioning from private ownership to being owned by AOL over the last year or two wasn’t easy (I’ll spare you the details), but it looked to me like they made it to the other side fine n’ dandy, and now have their new groove on. Rock and Roll.
4. We expect to see “Live-Tooning” becoming a bigger and bigger deal for gapingvoid over the next year or two, for the reasons just stated. Best of all, it’s something we really enjoy doing. It gets us out of the office meeting a ton of interesting people, and gets the team a ton of new inputs and interesting conversations. Plus we get to travel to fun cities and meet new people. Very cool. [Feel free to ping me at “hugh at gapingvoid dot com” if you’re interested in hiring us, Thanks].
I remember my first really big Internet “A-Ha!” moment like it was yesterday.
It was about a decade ago, just after the DotCom crash, around the same time I first heard about blogging.
I had just heard from somewhere that Salon.com, one of the first big-time magazines to launch exclusively online (that was still a big deal in those days) had blown through $60 million setting itself up, before the crash. Was it ever expected to make back its investors’ money? Of course not.
Then I heard from somewhere that Arts & Letters Daily, a blog that appealed to the same kind of reader as Salon, had been set up for a couple of grand; I think $10K was the number.
People would tell me at the time that yeah, of course Salon was more expensive. It had an office in San Francisco and a big staff of proper journalists. It had all the overhead of conventional magazines, minus the paper and printing press. A&L Daily was just an aggregator blog that pointed to interesting bits and pieces across the web.
Yes, that was true, but as a random, semi-educated dude looking for a place that offered me something interesting to read on a regular basis, I preferred A&L Daily to Salon.
As far as I could see, A&L Daily was not only a better product, it was offering its better product for ONE SIX-THOUSANDTH the cost of Salon. For 0.0166% the overheads.
The idea that media could now be viably made for not just pennies on the dollar, but MICRO-PENNIES, hit me like train. BAM!
So I started blogging. The rest is history.
Ten years later, my only disconnect would be, with this amazing opportunity that hyper-cheap media offers us, why are so many of us squandering it?
While others Twitter or Facebook or Foursquare for hours on end about what hipster food truck they’ve just been to or what dumb TV show they just watched, my young cartoonist friend, Austin Kleon is using social media to transform his life and career (and the lives and careers of others).
This is a totally different league of Internet use I’m talking about. And Austin is just one example. So am I. So is John T Unger or Willo O’Brien of Willotoons fame. I could give hundreds of others.
The Internet has given you a HUGE, life-changing opportunity that simply didn’t exist a generation ago. Don’t waste it. A life just surfing the net for hipster-friendly dumbass stuff is no less a waste of a life than sitting in front of the television.
The way to use the Internet is to be more like Austin or Willo or John. Use it seriously.
The Internet changed my life. Totally, utterly transformed it. Of course it did. In a very short period of time. A couple of years, tops.
And then there’s also my Internet-famous rockstar friends: Those who, similar to myself, somehow managed to create these interesting, web-enabled, prosperous, functioning little online micro-empires of their own. Internet mavens like Robert Scoble, Doc Searls, Mike Arrington, Seth Godin, Brian Clark, Sonia Simone, Loic Le Meur etc etc.
If you read gapingvoid, chances are you know what I’m talking about. You’re probably one yourself, or if you’re not, you’re probably aspiring to be more like that. At the very least, you’ll probably have a few friends like that.
In other words, this “Internet-Transformed Life” is not something alien to you. You GET it. It’s around you all the time.
And heck, even of you’re not one of these so-called rockstar folk, your life has still been transformed utterly, whether you’re aware of it or not. You may not be “Internet-famous”, but try imagining your life without it. Try going a year without Facebook or Google or Twitter or even even email and Internet access. Imagine going without it while still holding down your current job and getting your bills paid.
I’m guessing that would be difficult.
It certainly would be impossible for me. I don’t even want to think about it.
Hey, guess what? This state of affairs is permanent. It’s never NOT going to be transformative, it’s never NOT going to be changing everything and utterly central to fulfilling your needs. Certainly not in our lifetimes.
The Internet is here to stay, and it’s constantly re-inventing itself, and the world that surrounds it.
And yet we still take it for granted, even after all it’s done for us. It’s only been available en masse for little over a decade and already it’s no big deal. Twitter and Facebook? Dude! That’s so 2007!
It’s a mistake to think like that. So blogging is past-tense. Same with Facebook or Twitter. Who cares? The Internet is SO MUCH BIGGER and long-term than any of that. That’s like comparing a bottle of Perrier with the Pacific Ocean.
If the Internet doesn’t seem new and fresh to you, you’re doing something wrong, end of story. You are basically extinct, end of story.
That’s my advice to any adult, regardless of age, class, race, nationality or gender.
Keep it new. Keep it fresh. By any means necessary.
There, I’ve said my piece. Thanks for listening.
[PS: This blog post is dedicated to my old friend, the wonderful Doc Searls, legendary co-author of The Cluetrain, the first person to REALLY open my eyes to all this. Thanks, Doc!]
2. In his book, “Delivering Happiness”, Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh speaks of in great length about “The Loft”, a place where all his friends used to hang out and party, and how this sense of “meaningful gathering” went on to inform the core values of his now-famous shoe company.
9. The Beatles playing those early gigs at The Cavern Club in Liverpool.
10. The famous tech blogger, Robert Scoble talking about his job working in a discount camera store, back when he was a kid.
11. How a bunch of young, angry social misfits start a small nightclub, the Cabaret Voltaire, in 1916 Zurich [at the height of World War One] and in the process invent Dada, one of the 20th Century’s most influential art movements.
“The Apple/Google Voice fiasco just got more interesting. Toktumi, a startup that lets small businesses build office-caliber phone systems with their mobile phones and computers, just had its application Line2 approved by Apple — nearly three months after it was originally submitted. The powerful service allows business employees to assign two phone numbers to their iPhone: one that they can give to family and friends, and another that can be given to business contacts, with features that allow for call filtering and a professional-grade voicemail system. But it’s also notable for its many similarities to Google Voice, an application that Apple has kept out of the App Store for months now.
“The story so far: late last July, Apple abruptly pulled all third party Google Voice applications from the App Store, explaining that they somehow were duplicating the iPhone’s native functionality. Later that day, we broke the news that Google’s official Google Voice client had been barred from the App Store, sparking a media storm and a FCC inquiry into Apple’s rationale for the ban.”
It’s basically a second line for your phone– your iPhone, in particular.
I’ve never been much of a VoIP geek, so why did I get involved?
It was a simple little factoid that got my interest:
The Line2 service costs $14.95 per month. Not a huge amount, but costly enough when you consider that Google Voice is free. Line2 has a first month trial offer, which allows you to try it out for free. After that, they start charging. Fair enough.
So how many people start signing on at $14.95, once their free trial expires? Five percent? Ten percent? That’s what I was guessing…
Nope. Thirty percent.
Thirty percent! I thought that was huge. They must be doing something right etc.
The second reason is purely intellectual. As many bloggers have been spouting on for a while now (including me), we are in the early days of the largest communication revolution in the history of the planet. VOIP is in the forefront of this revolution, so getting involved should give me a front row seat. And we cartoonists need interesting stuff to keep our brains occupied etc.
I have no idea where this is going; I’m just along for the ride. Hopefully a Smarter Conversation will come out of it in the end. Watch this space. Rock on.
The kind folks at Dell recently gave me a new Mini to try out. Here are my notes.
1. It’s inexpensive, light, small, and fun to use. I call it my “coffee shop computer”- it’s good for traveling, it’s good for surfing the web, writing docs and sending emails from Starbucks. It’s good for very basic programs– Mozilla, Skype, etc, it’s not designed for something heavy like Photoshop. It all depends on what your needs are. I use it as an on-the-go alternative to my main computer, not a replacement for it. The small keyboard I found a bit fiddly at first, but I soon got used to it. Now I’m fine with it. I like it A LOT more than I thought I was going to. I own four computers– it turns out this is the one I now use the most, without question.
2. Before this came along, my main workhorse was a Mac laptop. I toted that everywhere. Now I just leave it my office. Macs are great computers, don’t get me wrong, but they’re expensive and with the exception of the Macbook Air, a lot heavier to lug around than the Mini. Because of the price, the prospect of losing a Mac on the road is a lot more daunting than losing a Mini. Last month when I flew to Amsterdam I just took the Dell Mini along with me– I left the Mac behind– and got on just fine.
3. Of all the computers I’ve ever owned, this by far has gotten the most attention from random members of the public. People come over to me all the time when I’m out and about, amazed that a proper computer could be so small. It gets the most attention from women– they like that a computer could fit in their handbag. They like the prospect of not having to lug something larger and heavier around with them.
4. As Dell is a client of mine, I find it encouraging that they could come up with something that credibly competes with Macbook Air on its own terms, rather than just making a cheaper, less elegant version of the latter. Before I got the Mini, I was thinking of buying a Macbook Air. I no longer am.
5. From what I know about the iPhone and the Blackberry [i.e. quite a bit, but nothing too extreme], I’d much rather surf the web with the Mini, than with a phone. Sure, the Mini doesn’t fit into my jeans pocket like a phone can, but it does fit easily inside my denim jacket’s inside pocket. That’s not a bad compromise.
6. A lot of the time I simply don’t feel like schlepping my backpack around. I have this much smaller bag that I use most of the time, just big enough to carry around some pens, a small notebook and blank business cards to draw cartoons on. The Mini is small enough to fit into that, which I’m REALLY pleased about.
7. All in all, I’m very happy with it. I think Dell might have a wee hit on their hands with this one. Good news.
8. I was under no obligation from Dell to blog about the computer. They didn’t ask me too, nor did they even drop any subtle hints my way. I certainly wasn’t planning on blogging about it, but I mentioned on my Twitter feed a few times that I had a new Mini, and a lot of people started asking me questions. In order to answer them properly, I decided a blog post was in order.
9. Would I buy one myself with my own money, had Dell not be so generous? Sure. Having used it for just over a month, I now can’t imagine not having it around. Rock on.
With a starting weight of 2.28 lbs.[i], digital nomads will value the Inspiron Mini’s durable design, with sealed keyboard and reliable solid state drive (SSD) memory storage. A bright 8.9‑inch glossy LED display (1024x600) presents most web pages with no left-right scrolling, and the keypads are large and easy to navigate.
About the same time that I first started seeing this term being used a lot from them, their Digital Nomads blog appeared on the scene. So I guessed something was up. I figured the blog is not just some crazy side project from some renegade Dell employees, this fits in to a much larger corporate strategy. Like I said in a recent blog post:
The Digital Nomads blog is what I call “indirect marketing”. People aren’t supposed to read it and go, “My, what a lovely blog. I think I’ll go out and buy me a couple of brand new Dell laptops”. This is more of an “Alignment” play. In other words, by “aligning” themselves more with the digital-nomad crowd, they hope it’ll help them in time to create products that are more compelling and relevant to them. If you were in the computer business, you’d want to have the same alignment. “The Porous Membrane” etc. The good news is, Alignment plays can be extremely effective. The bad news is, they take FOREVER to gather momentum.
So the last time I was in Round Rock visiting their bright & shiny offices, I asked around. My hunch seems to have been proved correct. This is the alignment they’re going after. I was also delightfully surprised to learn that they have no intention of trademarking, or attempting to trademark the phrase, “Digital Nomad”. They want to be aligned with it; they don’t want to “own” it. A small distinction, but a noteworthy one. To try to own it would rob the idea of all its meaning and power.
Yeah, I know, “Digital Nomad” is not the only term one can use to describe a web-enabled worker. There are others. There are also differences of opinion as to what “Digital Nomad” actually means. Are we talking mere tele-commuters, or is there some even bigger sociological trend going on? Depends who you ask. I’ve been a blogger and a digital nomad long enough to know how blurry the edges get sometimes. Rather than worry about THE definitive semantics, frankly, I’d rather worry about how to use this brave new world in order to make money, more quickly and easily than the generation before me.
In conclusion: Dell wants to align itself with the “Digital Nomad” crowd. Groovy. If I were them I’d do the same.
OK, fine. So now the next question is, what needs to happen to make all this more likely? Do they carry on doing what they’ve always done, or is there some FUNDAMENTAL change in their culture going to be required? And if so, how costly and painful will that be for their people, their customers and their shareholders? I’m not saying they’re necessarily doing anything wrong so far, I’m just curious, that’s all. Change is the only constant etc.
[ON A MORE PERSONAL NOTE:] Over the last few weeks I’ve been having a grand ol’ time getting to know the company better. So far it’s been an interesting experience. I’ve met some really smart, passionate people. The only problem for me initially has been, they’re a big company; it’s hard for somebody new on the scene to know where to look to find the interesting stories going on. Design? Tech? Marketing? Operations? Finance? Who’s making the secret sauce?
But then again, I’ve been a digital nomad for most of the last decade. So suddenly, with their Digital-Nomad-Alignment schtick, I see a glaringly obvious fit between my interests and theirs. Problem solved. Easy. Rock on.
I’m writing this from an outside table at Jo’s Cafe on South Congress Avenue, Austin, Texas.
I spent part of the morning having a good look at Digital Nomads, the new Dell blog. It seems Lionel Menchaka, one of my pals over at Dell is helping to run it. Also, I find to my delight that my old buddy, the uber-smart, uber-creative Phil Torrone, is also a contributor. So yeah, I’m hoping to see great things come out of the enterprise.
A “Digital Nomad” is roughly defined as someone who, thanks to the internet, can and does work anywhere he or she likes. Thanks to the internet, last February I was able to move from London, England to Alpine, Texas without changing jobs, so I guess it’s not surprising that this new Dell blog caught my attention. Here are some random thoughts, in no particular order:
1. Though the blog was created by Dell, it seems they don’t want the blog to be all “about” Dell. I think that’s a smart move. As I’m fond of saying, if you want to be boring, talk about yourself, if you want to be interesting, talk about something other than yourself. Of course, in the comments there were a few “This is just a cynical marketing ploy by Dell to sell more laptops” remarks. This is to be expected, I suppose. If Dell tries to have a conversation online, some bloggers are going to have a problem with it. If Dell says nothing, some of the very same bloggers are going to have a problem with it. I call this, “Having Your Cake And Eating It 2.0″. I find this phenomenon increasingly common in the blogosphere. Maybe it was always thus, maybe once I was better at not noticing it.
2. I remember when I had a god-awful office job I had to commute to every day, how appealing the idea of being “digitally nomadic” appealed to me. You mean I can hang out in cafes all day and still get paid? No more commuting? No more paying high, big-city rents? How cool is that?!! But being a digital nomad has a dark side. There’s something unhealthily addictive about being “Always on”, “Always online”, “Always connected”. Reading Clay Shirky, it seems than whenever Society takes huge cultural shifts, mass addiction sets in as a coping mechanism. Clay pointed out that in 19th Century England, the addiction of choice was drinking gin. In postwar United States, the addiction of choice was long hours vegged out in front of the TV. In today’s world, I’m guessing our new mass addiction of choice– the Internet– means not even being able to go to the bathroom without bringing along your laptop. They call it “Crackberry” for a reason.
3. Yes, the Digital Nomads blog is “marketing”. Then again, so is the sentence preceding this one.
4. The Digital Nomads blog is what I call “indirect marketing”. People aren’t supposed to read it and go, “My, what a lovely blog. I think I’ll go out and buy me a couple of brand new Dell laptops”. This is more of an “Alignment” play. In other words, by “aligning” themselves more with the digital-nomad crowd, they hope it’ll help them in time to create products that are more compelling and relevant to them. If you were in the computer business, you’d want to have the same alignment. “The Porous Membrane” etc. The good news is, Alignment plays can be extremely effective. The bad news is, they take FOREVER to gather momentum.
5. The blog is still in its early days. I can see it still struggling, like all new blogs do, to “find its voice” [Hey, if a blog can find its voice in under twelve months, I consider that good going]. Of course, it’s going to have the same problem that ALL corporate blogs do i.e the problem of balancing BOTH the needs of the perennially kvetchy, perennially skeptical, perennially dissatisfied blog-reading public, and the commercial interests of the company. Harder than it looks. The fact that they are giving it a go AT ALL I find encouraging.
6. As someone who has been lucky enough to actually become a professional digital nomad, not just dream about it just happening one day, I can honestly say that yeah, it’s a tremendous privilege. Big-city wages with small-town overheads is a damn good business model, and I simply could not do it without an internet connection. I also believe that yes, there’s a lot of people out there who are not really digital mavericks, though they would very much like to be some day. With these folk in mind, I guess my advice to Dell would be, forget about trying to get the digital mavericks to read your blog. If your stuff is any good, they will happily come of their own accord. Instead, ask yourselves what can YOU do to help MORE people become digital mavericks, themselves. If you play a tangible part in shaping this part of their lives, they will love you and your products forever. And recruit their friends to your cause. It’s all good. Rock on.
[“Possible Cloud Portrait”. Click here to enlarge/download/print etc.]
You hear a lot of talk about “The Cloud” nowadays.
The premise is simple. In the future, we won’t have or even need all our data or software programs on our own computers, they’ll be floating around somewhere on somebody else’s servers, accessible via the internet. A vast, interconnected “nebula” of other people’s data and servers, hence the word, “Cloud”.
Big players in this game so far include some familiar names like Sun, Microsoft, Amazon, Google, etc etc.
The way I’m seeing the future commonly talked about, is all this data and programs spread all over the networks of all these companies, relatively proportional to their current market caps. Some folk have their stuff with Sun, some with Amazon, etc.
But nobody seems to be talking about Power Laws. Nobody’s saying that one day a single company may possibly emerge to dominate The Cloud, the way Google came to dominate Search, the way Microsoft came to dominate Software.
Monopoly issues aside, could you imagine such a company? We wouldn’t be talking about a multi-billion dollar business like today’s Microsoft or Google. We’re talking about something that could feasibly dwarf them. We’re potentially talking about a multi-trillion dollar company. Possibly the largest company to have ever existed.
I imagine many of my friends who work for the aforementioned companies know all about this, and know how VAST the stakes are.
Windows vs Apple? Who cares? Kid’s stuff. There’s a much bigger game going on… And for some reason, its utter enormity seems to be a very well-kept secret, at least to non-combatants like myself.
[UPDATE:] My friend James Governor, who consults in this world, left the following comment below:
Totally agree Hugh. As I said on on my blog recently: “Customers always vote with their feet, and they tend vote for something somewhat proprietary — see Salesforce APEX and iPhone apps for example. Experience always comes before open. Even supposed open standards dorks these days are rushing headlong into the walled garden of gorgeousness we like to call Apple Computers.“
The players you mention will continue with The Great Game, but there is room for a new entrant (The Hun In The Sun).
I have always had this sense that there is no longer any room for artificial monopolies, that the market will provide a self-correcting mechanism. But I have always been wrong on this. We can argue about why this is so, but not about the fact. Microsoft, Google and Apple are facts.
Open standards, open platforms and open source are ways to prevent this happening. Ways to guarantee that history won’t repeat itself. But this needs coherent communal action, something that is hard to achieve in emergent environments.
[PS: That “Power Laws” link is highly, highly, highly recommended reading. Just so you know.]
[Microsoft Surface, which I saw last time in Paris.]
In my recent post, I talked about Microsoft’s “next being idea” as thus:
Whatever TV becomes in the next century, Microsoft wants to own it. Or at least, own a huge chunk of it. And that battle will be fought and won [or lost] sometime in the next decade.
Then an anonymous commenter quite rightly pointed out: “Sorry but the real battlefield is mobile phones (compare growth of mobile phones vs. desktop vs. TV and you will see my point)…” To which I replied:
Anonymous, yeah, phones is another big one. Of course, I did say, “Whatever TV becomes”, and you could argue that maybe the TV and the phone will evolve into a third ubiquitous thing.
And then lets not forget other household items– fridges, tables, AC units and the like.
Which explains why seeing the new Microsoft Surfaces table in Paris the other month, when Steve Ballmer made his big announcement about Microsoft entering the ad game on a major scale, got me thinking.
Why did it appear then and there? During that announcement? I knew something was up, but at the time could not find the words for it. Until now.
Here’s what I’m thinking. Though I’m not techie, technology obviously plays big part of my life. Mainly through interfacing with my  laptop [a Macbook],  my MP3 music player [an iPod],  and a telephone [Nokia]. I don’t own a TV, but I could see one day owning  Apple TV or an Xbox, i.e. something for the living room. And then when I’m working in an office, there are  the company servers; something I know very little about.
So basically, when people like me interact directly with computers, it’s mostly via these 5 main objects. Laptop, iPod, cellphone, the living room entertainment TV thing, and the office servers.
But remember, Microsoft Surface is just in its infancy. Right now it’s just about $30K coffee tables. But give it ten years, it could be something much more cheaper and ubiquitous. Instead, we could be surfing the net not just on TV screens, laptops and hand-held devices, but on cocktail tables in bars. Or the mirror in our dressing room. Or bathroom tiles in the shower. On vacuum cleaners. Or even on the sides of Coke cans.
People my age, when they think of TV, they think of a nice big box in the living room. Some of us are just beginning to think of TV in terms of something we watch on our computers.
But something on the side of a Coke can?
You may intelligently argue the iPod beats the Zune. You may intelligently argue that Gmail beats Outlook Express. You may intelligently argue that Sun’s open source servers run better than Microsoft servers. And you may also intelligently argue that Mcrosoft’s new advertising plan won’t beat out AdSense. Not everybody may agree with, but hey, as long as you can hold your own, nobody’s going to accuse you of being stupid, either.
But let’s see what happens with Surfaces, bathroom tiles and Coke cans, before we consign Microsoft to the dustbin of history. And let’s see what their competitors come up with as well, in the meantime. Microsoft’s “Software + Services” may not be a big idea for some. “Software + Services + Surfaces + Advertising” is a far more interesting an idea to me.
[YouTube: Jeff Han’s seminal demo at TED, via Chris Lehman.]