Thursday, 31 October 2013

The power of boredom

I have a low boredom threshold. This used to be a problem. I'd wander aimlessly as a little boy desperate for some stimulation. Never satisfied with my own company school holidays were often a chore as I yearned to be with friends all day every day.

Now I have the internet of course.

I remember reading somewhere though that kids being bored was a good thing. And that parents should resist the urge to constantly entertain them or fill every waking hour with activities. The mind in a state of boredom is forced to overcome the impasse by being creative. Solving the ultimate mind game.

My most rewarding solution is to write. Often with no real idea what topic I'll cover. Like now. The urge to pen something without knowing what will come out is stimulating by itself.

To that end whilst my seven year old daughter was bored at the dinner table the other night, rather than resorting straight to her tablet and the array of mind numbing games I encouraged her to write a story saving it to Evernote as she went.

Below is what she created. Please excuse the typos, she's only seven after all.

This is a story about a boy and a girl who didn't have a family. 

Once in a small igloo there was a girl who lived with her brother and the were very lonely without a friend or relatives just brother and sister together.

The girl was called Rebecca and the boy was called Dominic. They lived in the north pole where It was very cold and It was a hard life there because the igloo kept on falling down.

Rebecca soon got fed up with the igloo and was convinced that they have to move to a different country and see if they  could find some one who can look after them.

Rebecca said that they should leave just that minute " your  totally right Let's go and see if we can find a Better place for us to live and be happy all our life." Said dominic.

They set out thinking all about the people who were going to be looking after them and hoped that they could be able to find somebody who is  very nice.

Chapter 2! !!!! 
They were very nervous about this but they did it they walked all across  country's not be able to find there way.
When they got to a country Rebecca said "
"Right now Let's look in this small house and see if we could find someone who can look after us."

Dominic nocked at the door a little noise came from the house! It came nearer and nearer and then a little , old women in a tiny apron and that was very wrinkley stept out the door.

Rebecca and dominic were amazed ! "I think it's time to run" Said dominic  wait said Rebecca she  might be nice I'll ask her if she can look after us.   Dominic you you say something to her ok would you  spare some time to look after us ? No go away" The door slammed shut.  There was silence for a very long time. "

Oh that didn't go well said Rebecca no it did not i think we're going to have to go and find someone else who might be able to look after me and you.

They set out again looking for another home to live in. Soon they came to a big house. Rebecca said that they should leave "Dominic we should go " but by the time Rebecca had said that Dom Burch his  knick name was all ready opening the ginormous door" wait" Said Rebecca suddenly they heard big stomps and and a booming voice" if you have come to complain about the people in my land then shoo ." We have come to see end if you can look after us. Said dominic. 

Chapter 3!!!!!!!!!!
"You need to be looked after Yes we do oh well come in I have a empty place in my heart and you two could end it all   so you  can look after  us? Yes thank you thats the first time eny one has ever said that to me really really .

So you will look after us ? Yes of course I will.  What shall we do first

Let's play a game a game yes have you ever been looked
after? no really really. Oh right  Well I'll teach you some things that you need to know.

(To be continued...)

Sunday, 27 October 2013

The day Youtubers took over the world

Last week I witnessed a once in a life time event. It was a seminal moment in my fifteen year career.

It confirmed a hunch I've had for some time. PR has changed forever. The power has firmly shifted. And there's no turning back.

No longer is the mainstream media in pole position.

The new kids on the blocks are native to the digital age.

They are young, confident, professional and on the cusp of not only rewriting how brands must now manage their media relations, but they are also redefining the cult of celebrity.

Gone are the days of the manufactured star. That's not to say they won't continue in some form or other. But the new stars are real, authentic, what you see is what you get.

Their fans, followers or friends are just like them - in many cases quite literally like them.

They are accessible and open. They interact and engage. They actually care.

They flourish because of, not in spite of, their normalness.

They're not perfect. They're not always the most beautiful.

They are certainly not polished, or made up, or lit in such away as to mask their blemishes or flaws. There is no behind the scenes glimpses because there is no behind the scenes. Everything is up front.

And their influence is growing and growing and growing. 

As a result we're now at an interesting cross roads.

Truth is some people arrived at that junction a long time ago and the rest of us are just catching up.

We're slowly realising what has been happening right under our eyes in full view we just weren't looking.

But even those who claim they get it, that they understand the brave new world, when you pick away at it you realise they can't let go of what they are used to.

They are still wed to the world they / we grew up in. TV and press. Gossip and gander. Fake reality and falsehood and the awful self loathing it often created. They want to poach these digital natives and use them (literally use them) to prop up the world they are from.

No doubt some will be tempted. Ego will kick in and cloud their better judgement. But in my view the ones who don't cross the divide will conquer. Will win out.

In the new world of real stars connecting with millions of others like them, and I mean millions, national broadcasting is no longer the preserve of ITV or Sky.

YouTubers are now in charge of their own destiny. Content is still king. Yet the content is unscripted.

Yes it's often vanilla. Yes it's only relevant to a cohort of the population. But in the next five years that cohort will be the majority. They will be the young families with toddlers. They will be the ones with a voice. With an audience. With a tribe of like minded influencers.

The wave they are riding now signals a tsunami coming that could wash away the structures of mainstream media, rip up how we're governed, and sweep in a more inclusive, more healthy and more sustainable relationship between what we see and what is actually real.

The cynics will say that's all a load of bollocks. And even if I'm right it could still all go pop.

The media moguls may move in and gobble them up one by one.

My hope though is those days are gone. I look forward to telling my grand kids what those days were like and how odd they really were. 

Friday, 4 October 2013

Mind bending fun in Silicon Valley

What a week it's been over here in the San Francisco / Bay Area.

Every time I visit I get blown away by the endless opportunities, the innovation, the sense of excitement and if I'm honest the coolness of being at the centre of the digital universe right now.

Silicon Valley is a melting pot of great ideas, extremely bright people and big investors who are prepared to go big or go home.

Perhaps it never really went off the boil, but either way it feels supercharged at the moment.

Every day a new start up comes onto the scene or an incumbent like Google launches a new product.

Nothing stands still for long.

Just when you thought traditional TV was dying along comes a group of smart college kids to save the day, ripping up the rule book once again.

The culture of doing cool stuff that matters (a Google mantra we heard about yesterday) resonates strongly with me. It's infectious. You feel like you can change the world for the better out here.

It was also fascinating to hear a little about Google X - the top secret team behind the Google car, Google Glass and Google Loon.

Their mission is to solve a big problem with a radical solution and break through technology.

Designed to launch businesses not just come up with ideas they operate with a longer time line than most companies.

The Google car has been five years in the making and is probably five years from launch. The Google X team want to make money, they just don't know when. That's my kind of team.

So what have I seen and learnt this week?
Here are my top ten:

1. Digital watermarking could be game changing in retail. Watch this space. And that space. In fact just hold your phone up to just about anything in the future. Boom.

2. Want to find something in a store or in a museum or anywhere for that matter?  Analysing changes in the magnetic forces of the earth will help. Bit Star Trek that one.

3. Facebook is growing up. They appear to be maturing and have a real confidence in who they are and what they can deliver. Measurement and ROI are at the heart of how they now interact with advertisers. Custom and lookalike audiences are changing everything.

4. Twitter is about to explode (in a good way) with some really exciting developments up its sleeve. Sorry, not saying more than that in case I get in trouble. Coming soon though.

5. Cisco is far more innovative and leading edge than I'd ever assumed. They bent my mind yesterday in their innovation lab in San Jose. Goes to show the original tech firms are still in the game.

6. Toothpick ball run sculptures of San Francisco that took 37 years to build are cool. And meeting the inventor at the Exploratorium was super cool.

7. Baseball isn't boring. In fact it beats going to cricket or football. There you go I said it. Shoot me now and take away my passport.

8. Jake Bugg is really good for his age etc (damming praise) but not after drinking 12 beers and suffering from extreme jet lag.

9. The weather in San Francisco in October is perfect.

10. I absolutely love it out here but I miss my wife and kids and pet dog Max and am looking forward to getting home. I'm not looking forward to the ten hour flight in British Airways economy class. Every day low cost baby - it's the Asda way :)