Convention 2020 study

Quick link to a study I was invited to join alongside a diverse bunch of people, to explore the future of conventions in 2020. This comes at a moment I am deploying growing efforts to get more involved in the meetings industry, after finding out that designing events is – as weird as it seems – a true passion of mine 😉

Leading industry players including ICCA and IMEX have signed up as project sponsors and contributors to Fast Future Research’s Convention 2020 strategic foresight study.

The research programme is designed to take a wide ranging and strategic perspective on the future of live events, venues and meeting destinations. A TrendWiki has also been set up, allowing people to enter their own views on the ideas, trends and issues that will shape the future of events. Full details can be found on the at


User generated [unpredictable, lurching] future

This gut feeling I have had for a while, that we haven’t fully understood the impact of the new technologies and will soon start to notice less productive side effects, is reinforced by Bruce Sterling’s latest State of the World address.

you’ve treated your future as an “unpredictable lurching thing…” and now you’re all morose about that… You and your generation CREATED that situation! Ever heard of “disruptive innovation,” “disintermediation,” “offshoring,” “small pieces loosely joined,” “de-monetization,” “plug and play” “the network as a platform”? Of course you’ve heard of all that crap, because you’ve been tub-thumping it your entire adult life, but what the hell did you think that was all about? Did you think you were gonna bend every effort to virtualize reality, and then get a gold railway-retirement watch and a safe place to park the cradle? Guys with stacks of gold bars and working oil wells don’t have any stability now! Much less guys like you, who move their fingers up and down on keyboards for a living.


Technologies might have disrupted (rich countries’) social organizations a bit beyond what would have been productive course. We now face some of the problems we created (and naively wished for?). Time to put technology back in its place, something I have been preaching for a while, unfortunately without yet having found a solution to apply it to myself.

Marc Laperrouza – in my opinion one of the best specialist of technologies in China – has a blogs on Lift Think. He shares his thoughts on the Google/China story:

Google is threatening to stop censoring search results and even to leave the Chinese market alltogether – the first action almost automatically leads to being forced to close operations.

One can easily imagine that if Google’s chief legal officer decides to take the affair public, it is probably because the firm is not able to get the necessary assurance from the Chinese government that such attacks would end – else why risk leaving what promises to be one the fastest growing market in the near future.

A number of things are surprising. First, officially, the threat comes after a series of cyber-attacks that hit more than 30 companies. Google’s response thus seems mismatched. Second, the US government got involved rather rapidly by making a public statement.

At the end of the day two questions remain. First, can China do without Google? Domestic companies would be thrilled to have the number 2 search engine leave its 30% market share for grabs. For sure, the pressure to innovate will diminish but the creativity of Chinese firms should compensate. The reason for Baidu’s dominant market is that the firm understand its market better. Second, can Google do without China? Analysts don’t seem to leave the idea too much (the share dropped by 1% solely on the news of the threat). More importantly though, Google can not afford to have the integrity of its data compromised, not for a company which plans to become the repository of all your personal information all over the world.


Be sure to also check Marc’s talk at Lift08 on Mobile in Asia.

Conférence TechnoArk 2010

We have five speakers coming to the Conférence TechnoArk 2010 on Jan 29th to talk about Digital Spaces, among them former Lift speakers Matt Jones and Fabien Girardin. 230 participants are registered and you can buy one ofthe remaining tickets here (50/150chf).


Matt Jones 
Design director à BERG London
Matt Jones travaille dans le domaine de la conception de produits et services numĂ©rique depuis 1995. Il a Ă©tĂ© le directeur crĂ©atif du site BBC News puis a rejoint Nokia entre 2003 et 2007 d’abord au dĂ©partement prospective puis comme directeur de l’expĂ©rience utilisateur des tĂ©lĂ©phones de la sĂ©rie N. En 2007, il a fondĂ© la start-up de partage d’informations de voyage et de gĂ©olocalisation Dopplr, qui a Ă©tĂ© rachetĂ© par Nokia Ă  l’automne 2009. Il a rejoint ensuite le studio de design BERG Ă  Londres qui conçoit des interfaces originales et des objets communicants.
De part sa formation originelle en architecture, il s’intĂ©resse depuis longtemps aux problĂ©matiques des nouveaux espaces numĂ©riques, oĂč comment la ville est transformĂ©e par les services mobiles et gĂ©olocalisĂ©s.
Bruno Marzloff
Sociologue et directeur du cabinet Chronos
Bruno Marzloff est sociologue et anime depuis dix ans le Groupe Chronos, laboratoire des mobilitĂ©s innovantes, qui rassemble une quinzaine de grands comptes autour des enjeux des mobilitĂ©s urbaines et des organisations du temps de la ville. Il est Ă©galement copilote du programme Ville 2.0 avec la Fing et membre du comitĂ© scientifique de l’OTEN (Observatoire des Territoires NumĂ©riques). Il est l’auteur de plusieurs ouvrages. Le dernier porte sur “Le 5e Ă©cran” (FYP Editions).

Zbigniew Smoreda
Sociologue au laboratoire des sciences sociales Ă  Orange Labs.
Il travaille sur les technologies d’information et de communication saisies par le prisme de la sociologie de communication, des rĂ©seaux sociaux et de la mobilitĂ©

Blog de Zbigniew Smoreda

Fabien Girardin
Ingénieur, chercheur et co-fondateur de Lift lab
Fabien Girardin mĂšne des Ă©tudes sur la co-Ă©volution des technologies mobiles avec les pratiques humaines dans le contexte urbain. Il a obtenu un doctorat en informatique et communications numĂ©rique Ă  l’UniversitĂ© Pompeu Fabra Ă  Barcelone, Espagne. Dans son parcours acadĂ©mique, il fut affiliĂ© au Senseable City Lab du Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) pour mener le dĂ©veloppement de mĂ©thodes d’analyses de donnĂ©es spatio-temporelles gĂ©nĂ©rĂ©es par la prĂ©sence d’infrastructures logicielles.
Blog de Fabien Girardin

Ulrich Fischer
Responsable du projet Walking The Edit
DĂšs les annĂ©es 90, alors Ă©tudiant en sociologie et ethnographie Ă  BĂąle, Ulrich Fischer dĂ©marre sa relation avec le monde des images Ă  travers la photographie argentique. Il collabore pendant plus de 10 ans au sein du collectif du CinĂ©ma Spoutnik. En 2000, il obtient le 1er prix de l’Ecole SupĂ©rieure d’Art Visuel de GenĂšve. Entre 2000 et 2002, il participe au jury de la sĂ©lection de la compĂ©tition internationale du festival Viper, Ă  BĂąle, dont il devient le coordinateur en 2002. Depuis le dĂ©but des annĂ©es 2000, il donne des stages et workshops liĂ©s Ă  la technique, suit les travaux de diplĂŽme de l’ECAL en tant qu’intervenant extĂ©rieur et intervient ponctuellement dans des jurys. Actuellement il est en charge de la recherche menĂ©e au sein des Masters de CinĂ©ma – le projet WALKING THE EDIT dĂ©marre en janvier 2008; des premiers rĂ©sultats ont Ă©tĂ© prĂ©sentĂ©s milieu 2008. Les rĂ©sultats de la recherche ont Ă©tĂ© prĂ©sentĂ©s publiquement en Ă©tĂ© 2009.

Diversity in mobile usage

More reading on “connected people”, the theme of our upcoming Lift10 conference. The Economist details some of the differences between cultures when it comes to mobile phones, their place in users’ lives, the differences in etiquette and expectations, type and length of usage, etc. A strong reminder that there is no such thing as a “user”, but almost as many habits and norms as there are cultures, regions or generations.

Japan is a crowded place with lots of rules. Harried teenagers, in particular, have few chances for private conversations and talking on the phone in public is frowned upon, if not outlawed. Hence the appeal of mobile data services. [
] In 2002 the average Japanese mobile user spoke on it for 181 minutes each month, about the global norm. By early 2009 that had fallen to 133 minutes, then only half the world average. [

Others are quiet, too. On average Germans—who are fond of saying that “talk is silver, silence is golden”—spend only 89 minutes each month calling others for Handy-based conversation. [

In contrast, Americans won’t shut up. Their average monthly talk-time is a whopping 788 minutes, though some of this is a statistical illusion because subscribers also pay for incoming calls. Yet talk is cheap: there is no roaming charge within the United States. Americans are often in their cars, an ideal spot for phone calls, especially in the many states where driving and talking without headsets is still legal.

The chattiest of all are Puerto Ricans, who have by far the highest monthly average in the world of 1,875 minutes, probably because operators on the American island offer all-you-can-talk plans for only $40, which include calls to the mainland.

Link (thx Nico)

Works at a desk. Takes no exercise. Poor expectation of life

A British educational clip from the 1960s on food and weight. Brutal by our politically correct standards, with quotes like “Mr Brown, also very much overweight. Works at a desk. Takes no exercise. Poor expectation of life.”

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As Mark Frauenfelder notes on BoingBoing, “most of the obese children in the video look like average kids today”.

“U.S media were underperforming before the Internet”

Swiss journalist and entrepreneur Philippe Mottaz comes back to the blogosphere with a review of a book called The curse of the Mogul. The internet has been accelerating the exposition of malpractices and flawed offerings (referred below as “the magic”) that had been doomed for a long time.

[…] back in 2003 [the] Viacom’s CEO is trying to explain to the Google founders how advertising works in television. By and large, it’s fairly simple: backed by the ratings collected twice a year during a couple of weeks called the “sweeps”, you tell your advertiser that his commercial his going to be seen by x number of people in primetime. If he wants the slot, he’ll have to shell out a few millions dollars. Will he ever know precisely how many people have actually seen the commercial? No, admits Karmazin, but this is precisely the name of the game. […]

For Google operates precisely on the very opposite model. When you advertise on Google, […] you will know how many people watch your ad, how many people clicked on it, how many people transacted based on the add. High-tech vs. high-touch, algorithms and hard evidence vs. approximation and spin. As Brin and Page are finishing their explanation, Karmazin blurts out: “You’re fucking with the magic!” […]

“The Curse of the Mogul” might be one of the most illuminating book about the media in years, […] debunking quite a few myths, the biggest one certainly being that it is the rise of the Internet that might be the single most important reason for the downfall of the newspapers. Knee and his colleagues show quite clearly that the U.S media conglomerates were underperforming already before the Internet. Obviously, the case got worse because of the disruptive power of the net, but equally because of the blindness  – if not downright incompetence – of the moguls, so used to deal in “ magic “ that they never quite could understand the perfect storm that was building around them. The authors do not hesitate to convict the mogul of using “sham” attitudes to lure investors as opposed to what ought to be sound economics and good business.

The curse of the Moguel review by Philippe Mottaz: Part 1, Part 2

As the conclusion to this post, let me share a word taken from Philippe Mottaz’s website: “When speaking about traditional media, I do not believe in the death of print, or radio, or TV, I prefer to talk about the death of death”

More on the “Google Generation”

I have posted some links on generations lately (see “Enter the Millennials“, “About youth“) ahead of the upcoming sessions on the matter at Lift10. Here comes further information from a University College London study, on the now called Google Generation, those born after 1993 and referred below as the “young people”:

  • the information literacy of young people, has not improved with the widening access to technology: in fact, their apparent facility with computers disguises some worrying problems
  • internet research shows that the speed of young people’s web searching means that little time is spent in evaluating information, either for relevance, accuracy or authority
  • young people have a poor understanding of their information needs and thus find it difficult to develop effective search strategies
  • as a result, they exhibit a strong preference for expressing themselves in natural language rather than analysing which key words might be more effective
  • faced with a long list of search hits, young people find it difficult to assess the relevance of the materials presented and often print off pages with no more than a perfunctory glance at them
  • young people have unsophisticated mental maps of what the internet is, often failing to appreciate that it is a collection of networked resources from different providers

This graph on article discovery strategies is also interesting:

Generations and information research

Link (thx Bruno G)

Chattable TV

I’m pretty sure this will turn (really) big and go mainstream very soon. Probably a small window of opportunity for startups to launch now, and be bought by the big TV networks 1-2 years down the road.

Watching TV Together, Miles Apart
For the lonely couch potato, help is on the way.

Simple technology, including video chatting services like Skype, is making it possible for far-flung friends to watch shows together, even if they can’t share the same bowl of popcorn.

Emma McCulloch and Jennifer Cheek, for example, used to meet to watch “Dancing With the Stars” together, but that ritual ended when Ms. Cheek moved to Hawaii.

So the women decided that Ms. McCulloch, who lives in San Mateo, Calif., would save the “Dancing With the Stars” finale on her digital video recorder and wait until the show was seen in Hawaii. Then, they would get on Skype to video chat while they watched the show.


Update: bonus link (in French), La moitié des ados regardent la télé en surfant sur le net (Half of teenagers watch TV surfing the net).