AniBlurbs (Column)

Anibal's thoughts on Online Marketing Strategy, Service Design, Tech, Innovation, Business and more…

David Merill Offers Glimpse on Future of mLearning With Shiftables (VIDEO)

A very evocative TED presentation by David Merill on an innovative way to interact with computers.  (For those reading this in a feed reader such as iGoogle or Netvibes, please check out the video after the jump.)

It should go without saying that these Shiftables could be an amazing leap ahead for innovative educational tools & programs, and that the endless opportunities don’t merely lie in the smart cubes themselves, but are only limited by the possibilities of the software that powers them.

The iPhone and Wii have proven what revolutionary, intuitive control methods can achieve with regards to mainstream product penetration and adaption in niche market segments, in ways that were previously unimaginable (i.e. Smart Phones and Game Consoles).

Now, scientists like Merill and the R&D wizzards at Microsoft Labs are charging through and will hopefully do the same for mLearning.

What do you think about these kind of innovations? Will we see them implemented along with the OLPC and the future vision of Microsoft Office Labs to offer the next quantum leap in education? And when will we see this happen? As soon as 2012? Or will we have to wait untill 2019?

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Siri Challenges The Way We Interact Online, Enter Web3.1?

“Users’ online lives are becoming more complicated and getting out of control for mainstream users. What if there was an easy way for normal users (non-power users) to ask the Internet to help them.”

This, in a nutshell, is the elevator pitch from US start-up Siri on their secretive CALO (Cognitive Assistant that Learns and Organizes) project.
Together with DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) they’re working on a new, revolutionary web interface, geared not towards the digerati, but the mainstream.

“The CALO project is building an automated assistant to help manage and improve your life. The technology spans all aspects of interaction–natural language processing, speech recognition, and planning and reasoning capabilities–and interfaces with all kinds of systems, such as email and contacts…”

Siri co-founder and Vice President of Engineering, Adam Cheyer. For more, see CNET.

(Credit: SRI International)

(Credit: SRI International)

If we zoom in a little further on this announcement and take in the background info, we can actually see that Cheyer is actually referring to the Semantic Web or Web 3.0; a place of “Virtual Warmth” where Intelligence at the Interface allows the internet to pro-actively make recommendations to the user, much like a personal assistant:

The interfaces we use to interact with the world’s information are getting smarter. Web portals gave us someone else’s idea of the content we should see. Then came search engines, which let us tell the system what we want, one query at a time. We are about to see the next wave -intelligence at the interface- in which the system knows about us, our information, and our physical environment. With knowledge about our context, an intelligent system can make recommendations & act on our behalf.”

(Credit: Tom Gruber)

(Credit: Tom Gruber)

Source (via CNET): Tom Gruber.

Siri itself claims to have her business model and partners in place and is committed to success, though it is common knowledge that that hasn’t stopped other revolutionary tech-driven initiatives from failing in the past: in the end consumers must be convinced and budged to re-learn their online habits AND download and purchase the software.

At this point it seems Siri is ready to release its (possibly) Disruptive Technology during the first half of 2009, and they’ve got some impressive pedigree on board allowing them to become the biggest Nightmare Competitor since Google: their payroll includes engineering and strategic wizards from internet and tech giants/godfathers such as Xerox PARC, Google, NASA, Motorola and Yahoo!.

Microsoft have already revealed some of their amazing achievements with their Surface Computer (interface, see the video above) & their Sphere, and scientists and digerati alike admit that the way we humans interact with the screen (The Office-trashcan-directory-folder Analogy) is anti-natural and the main reason non-power users such as my grandmother still don’t know how to send me an e-mail to stay in touch

[And let’s not forget the major leaps in productivity we could enjoy from innovations like these; the various office suites such as Open, Microsoft Office and Google Apps are said to be “productivity packages” but I suggest you’d take a stroll into any office anywhere in the world and witness for yourself how counterproductive most professionals are using it, even now in 2008!]

As the social divide grows between tech/web savvy people and those whom are not, I believe that ventures such as these -looming recession notwithstanding- could give a major and much needed boost to not only internet usage and web-app uptake by the mainstream, but to (new forms of) education as well: we really need a more democratic way of spreading (access to) knowledge.

Hopefully these developments shall be one of the many small steps in making the web a truly leveraging force for education, productivity and true interconnection worldwide.

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Thinking Big About Solutions to Worldwide Poverty (BLOG ACTION DAY 2008)

Coming up with One Big Idea to resolve the issues of Poverty, Child Starvation or any other (in)directly linked anthropocentric crisis such as Global Pollution, Global Warming or the Energy Crisis –Peak Oil– for that matter requires consensus: Is there a problem? And if so at what scale? Consensus.

Professor Hans Rosling‘s infamous presentations at TED back in 2006 and 2007 shook up our Western beliefs of developing and underdeveloped countries, if not challenge the very definition of what we should label as a developing country in the first place, based on the correct context of data. Consensus on the data upon which one can act.

Up until recently (2006) Pluto was known as a planet, nowadays its part of a different celestial class of its own, thousands of scientist worldwide went through several heated debates before consensus crystallized out of the fog of intellectual war.

Just as there had to be worldwide consensus to recognize the scale and possible implications of the root-rot in our global financial systems before tackling that challenge head-on, the same consensus and sense of urgency has to be developed towards Poverty and the other great issues of our time.

But where to start?

First of all I don’t believe that we’re ever going to have this global consensus -at least not with regards towards Poverty, for one simple reason: the very human nature of not acting unless the Danger is imminent and tangible. (The Global Financial Crisis forced our governments to act aptly and directly, because in light of the gargantuan consequences there simply was no other option.)

We shouldn’t attribute this to culture, greed or unwillingness, but to biology and more specifically our inner brain: A small genetic gift from our Prehistoric ancestors, which also seems to be the key to many addictions like drugs, smoking or drinking too much liquor. So, one might argue that we don’t have a software problem, but that ours is more akin to a hardware glitch so to speak.

Yet I do believe that in spite of all the above, we’re not excused of acting. Warren Buffet has once stated that we’ve all picked a lottery ticket at birth and so we should be happy and thankful to be born on the right side of the fence, in the right timeframe: Nothing should be taken for granted.

Whichever worldview you hold, you’re inherently part of an ecosystem and thus you profit -roughly speaking- from trade rights, education, infrastructure, communications, municipal services, place of birth, local history and the like. Not all of this stands on itself and not all of this can be accounted towards just paying taxes; If there’s anything the Financial Crisis has reaffirmed it’s that we’re part of a global village and what we’ve taken so far should be given back in some way or the other…

So in my humble attempt to join and contribute to the global poverty discussion on over 9.000 websites and blogs worldwide today, facilitated by, here’s my part of the solution:

Free Education Through Free Internet Access.

Poverty has many, many causes, but if there’s one thing we can have consensus on, it’s that there’s a significant correlation between low education and poverty: I’m cutting some very rough, sharp corners here, but arguably one could state that education leads to knowledge, leads to opportunity. Not to say that access to education in and of itself is the full solution, but we should at least enable the poor regions in the world to gain access to the levering power of the web, now more than ever.

Just as the economy of the free web has proven to us that you can gain more by giving and sharing unconditionally, the same democratizing effect could apply to underdeveloped regions.

What can we do?

Google has partnered with HSBC to to deliver free internet access to the unconnected world by way of satellite already and they’re running their Project 10^100 contest, so if you happen to have an actionable idea waiting to get funded for a jumpstart, that would be a great start.

The BlogActionDay website has (links to) many more ideas aching to be implemented. Some are free, others are awaiting a micro-contribution; some idea’s are larger than life, whilst others take a more smaller approach. And while we’re at it: Let’s not forget to address poverty in the West too; we mustn’t assume that everyone living in the Developed World is living at acceptable standards and so here too there’s a lot to be done, starting with efforts to create worldwide consensus on Hidden Poverty as well.

Let’s create a Wiki of sorts where thought leaders from around the world can contribute and facilitate ideas to tackle poverty. And since all major social issues require an holistic approach to achieve sustainable results: Let’s give the underdeveloped those much needed 100 Dollar Laptops with free unlimited Wireless Internet access so they can learn, grow and contribute to the solutions themselves and then let’s use that community platform to tackle the Energy Crisis and Global Warming, together!

[This column is dedicated to the cause of Blog Action Day 2008: Poverty on the 15th of October 2008.]

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TNO toetst mediacompetenties aan nieuwe ontwikkelingen

Net via een nieuwsbrief van TNO terechtgekomen bij dit artikel op de website inzake media en innovatie:

“De wereld van media en communicatie is sterk in ontwikkeling. Dit proces heeft invloed op de mensen die werkzaam zijn in deze sector. TNO heeft de veranderingen in de sector in kaart gebracht, de gevolgen daarvan en waar de innovatiekansen liggen voor de marktpartijen. Door technologische innovaties, vergaande digitalisering, nieuwe kanalen, en mobiele toepassingen zullen de kennis en vaardigheden van de werknemers mee moeten veranderen. Dat gaat niet vanzelf.”

Nu een toch wel gerenommeerde partij als TNO haar gewicht hierachter gooit, ben ik erg benieuwd wat hiervan het effect in zowel onderwijsland als het bedrijfsleven zal zijn…

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Nog een les Nieuwe Marketing: Over bezoekers & conversie

Hoewel het gebruik van CTR alleen als een KPI om het succes of falen van een (Online) campagne aan op te hangen inmiddels achterhaald is; blijft het desondanks wel een meeteenheid waarmee je -indien het samen met de juiste data en veel common sense ter hand genomen wordt- effectief een campagne/project/website kunt bijsturen, dan wel aanpassen.

De voorhoede schuift gelukkig en eindelijk steeds meer af op een Cost-per-Lead model en het waarderen van kwaliteit  t.o.v. kwantiteit. Online Marketing maakt veel zaken meetbaar en dus accountable, maar hoe wij vervolgens uit al die data (ondubbel)zinnige feiten trachten te filteren, blijft meestal een black box voor buitenstaanders en marketeers van de oude stempel.

In navolging van het artikel waarin ik, verwijs naar een aantal inspirerende voorbeelden van Guerilla Marketing & Advertising, nu dan een zeer toegankelijke artikel op Marketing Facts welke, zeer helder en correct de basics uiteenzet van een onderdeel van Online Marketing, zonder open deuren in te trappen.

In dit geval gaat het over het analyseren van traffic en het meten van conversie op je website, waarbij puntsgewijs de gebruikte technieken en de voor- en nadelen daarvan op een heldere wijze uiteen worden gezet. In de reacties onderaan de post worden gelukkig nog wel een aantal kanttekeningen en waardevolle toevoegingen geplaatst, aangezien het stuk zelf niet helemaal volledig was over de werking (en de merites van het toepassen) van bepaalde meetmethodes  en technieken.

Bonus: Het kost minder dan zeven minuten om het door te nemen en je leert niet alleen direct en concreet iets meer over de werking van het internet, maar vooral ook wat de toegevoegde waard kan zijn van Online / Nieuwe Marketing.

“Statistiek: de wetenschap waarmee verschillende experts met dezelfde cijfers tot heel verschillende conclusies kunnen komen.”
– Evan Esar (1899-1995), Amerikaans humorist

[ Mind you, e.e.a. heb ik gepost mede naar aanleiding van het Marketing Onnline onderzoek dat bevestigd heeft dat marketeers over het algemeen niet bekend zijn met de ins en outs van Online Marketing. ]

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