#NEXT thoughts – even during summer holidays!

Thanks again to Christoph Salzig and the pr://IP-Team for this superb summer garment. A souvenir from the amazing #NEXT-Conference which accompanies me through the Swedish summer.

And all that because I couldn’t help telling them that my colleague Anton at Twingly is still wearing his conference wrist band… . Which is admittedly quite pretty! Mine adds to the decoration of the bookshelf at home, where I collect all kinds of conference and event passes.

Thanks again, and hope to be with you NEXT year as well!

Some more great memories of the conference (THX Anton for the pictures!):

Last but not least #next 11 pics & videos!

This post is only a collection of the sources where one can find awesome pictures and the videos of all sessions as soon as they are uploaded.

Videos here – hope to see more uploaded soon!

Pictures on Flickr: Anton’s here , Paula’s, Karin’s , Luca’s and everything else on Flickr!

Blogposts! On Twingly, of course. They count over 300 posts around the conference so far!

Twitter? On Liveboard, of course!

Want more Analytics? Then check out Buzzrank!

And this is what NEXT says about the response in general.

Data Love this year, so what’s #next12?

Will we ever really own our personal data?

At NEXT last week I listened to the for me most compelling panel on the international stage – “The personal data economy and what it all means”.

I went there because I saw a chance to finally enjoy the typical German whining about privacy and data protection live. To listen to the ones that want their data online protected but then check in as much as possible on Foursquare and other location based services in order to earn points in that game, at the same time disclosing where they are at that very point, and where they have been. Paradox? Yes. But that’s how it is.

However, I was wrong, no whining about data protection, but actually putting thoughts forward that got me thinking – all week, actually, which is kind of unusual.

The ones who  got me thinking, were Fabio Sergio and Johan Stael von Holstein.


Johan and Fabio listening to the other speakers on the panel

Fabio was generally all positive about today’s sharing possibilities, that i.e. instead of paper copies of pictures one can now share these globally on the private blog or in other places with loads of people. Of course it would be good to give people control about their data, to make them aware of what their data is being used for etc. in order to create the necessary trusted environment, so that people share more.  (Update: His speech here!)

I would agree with Fabio, I also appreciate all services online where you can keep in touch with people far away – LinkedIn, Facebook, Xing and all other networks and services where you can connect changed the world and the way of doing business and keeping friendships alive. They also created more chances to get to know new people all around the globe, and I am not talking online dating here, although that is included.

Now, the thing that always bothered me about these services, despite its definite advantages, is that your rights for the content once uploaded to your account are limited. I.e. Youtube does not let you take any videos away (experienced that last week when uploading the wrong one, only solution was to make it private), and Facebook has the rights on your pictures. Which is one of the reasons of why I joined Facebook as late as in February 2010.

However, did I have a choice to avoid Facebook? Nope, all friends, colleagues, former colleagues, family and even business friends are there. So it there was a definite advantage in joining Facebook, and I really enjoy using it, but somehow it bogs me that in theory and practically Facebook can do with my stuff whatever they want. Plus I get “personalised” ads that are not the least interesting to me.

Johan had these thoughts (and a lot more), too, and he offers a solution to this dilemma. With MyCube.com he wants to start a new community where you have control over your data and content, where you, apart from many other things, as far as I could judge it by looking at the closed beta version, can buy and sell content like pictures etc. to other community members. MyCube even offers an internal currency, cubes, for that. (Update: his speech here)

The reason of founding MyCube was Johan’s desire to control his data, that he even can monetise his content instead of other platforms doing it without his knowledge and him getting no revenue whatsoever. Plus he only wants recommendations (and ads?) based on his interests, from his friends within a community he trusts. Because “he is not a bloody consumer” as he put it, he knows what he wants and why and refuses to look or even react to ads that would potentially fit his needs, but that he isn’t interested in. (Footnote: I object on the consumer part, every one of us is a consumer in some way, whether we like it or not, even Johan. It is a matter of definition of what a consumer actually is.)

Good thinking!

However, will it not be damn hard to convert the many million Facebook users to MyCube users? I am signed up for the beta version and I intend to follow MyCube’s development, but I am not that sure that my friends will sign up for it, once I will be able to invite them. To change the habits of people is quite a challenge, to put it mildly. Plus, not all of us are as strong individuals like Johan that share the same needs, lots of people just don’t (want to) bother what happens to their data, they don’t even think that what they post could be worth anything. That is the real challenge of MyCube, changing the mindset of people in order to make it a success.

A question I asked Johan when taking part in the interview Joe Morgan did with him was “Who guarantees me that you won’t be doing the same with our data like the others?” together with “How will you make money?”. The answer was that we will learn that on the official launch date in June…

When signing up to the beta version now, I did not find any button to delete my profile again, not that I wanted to, but it is always good to find such a thing when one is told that one has full control over ones data…  Therefore I hope this is just a temporary flaw and that a delete-button will be added in the open beta or alpha version.

However, that discovery did not entirely convince me that I will have any more control over my data and what I post in MyCube than in any other social network or community. Let alone the fact that everything you post somewhere online can potentially end up anywhere. And a case in my circle of friends shows that if someone wants to get to your data, they will do it.

There is no water tight security online, and we all are aware of that, even though we refuse to admit that. And therefore we will never own anything that we put up on the net completely. There will always be risks that someone just takes your stuff, if you lucky, you find out and if you are even more lucky, you will be able to do something about it. Depending on how much it matters to you.

Therefore I will also in future, no matter where and on which portal, only post details that I would tell anyone. And since I am an open-minded person, there is already a lot to find.

To get back to the panel with Fabio and Johan – I enjoyed listening to these totally controversial opinions on the same stage! And I will definitely follow with interest MyCube’s development.  Should you already be there and wonder how to test it, search for me, connect, and then we maybe can wade this new space together.

P.S.: Who else thought that there is a bit of a similarity in looks between these two? No offense to anyone of them, honest! However, what they do have in common (whether they or anybody else likes it or not!) is that they are both extremely good at selling their ideas and that they are pretty clever.

#NEXT11 – Thoughts simply!

I still feel extremely honoured to have been a part of the crowd of official bloggers around NEXT and to get a chance to experience the conference that way.

Like some of you might know, me being one of the official bloggers was not necessarily because I have an influential blog, far from it I’d say, but I could help with connecting the organisers of NEXT with some of Scandinavia’s most influential bloggers. A definite advantage of being a Twinglian, one knows quite a few of the cool girls and guys or at least where to find them ;). And my impression was that not only Djure Meinen, who was our “blogger daddy” for these two days and during all the weeks before the event, enjoyed their company!

Views from Paula Marttila, Heidi Harman, Henriette Weber and Anton Johansson you find on their blogs, here linked to their names.

So what did I think of NEXT? I had my plans obviously, and mostly I could follow these and mostly did not get disappointed either, on the contrary, sometimes the sessions where even better than expected. But in general, since I hadn’t been there before, I had no expectations whatsoever really. OK, when you look at the prices then one thinks there should be something great, but previous experiences showed, that this never really is an indicator for whether a conference is actually going to be useful or nice or none of it or something else.

I liked NEXT. A lot. Why? Several reasons.

In the past I have been a regular visitor of different kinds of conferences, all of these aiming at different people, and ultimately not really being comparable with each other. Therefore I don’t join these primarily for the talks and sessions, but mainly for networking and learning about the industries and their challenges. I can do a great deal of that online, obviously, but hey, reading about it or actually having a chance to exchange thoughts and ideas with people is so much more valuable and inspiring than sitting in front of the screen, isn’t it?.

NEXT not only gave the chance for catching up with people, but also offered the possibility for attending sessions I was interested in without having to do much compromising. The long lunch break, plus half an hour breaks between the different tracks gave plenty of room for planned or spontaneous chats. And so NEXT proved to be unexpectedly valuable for new business contacts (didn’t expect any, since that wasn’t the primary reason for me being there). It was easy to connect with people, everyone seemed in a relaxed, open and actually happy mood. And isn’t that exactly how a conference should be?

So, what created this open atmosphere? Mainly the layout of the venue, which in itself admittedly is not the shiniest one, but it is amazing what one can transform it to by putting the people into its centre with help of an incredibly good organisation.

The rooms where the different sessions took place were all connected by one big middle central space where there was almost always some kind of food and drinks, so people were naturally led together. And not the less important, there was enough staff at the food & drink counters, so that nobody had to wait really long to get served. So nobody had to get stressed with being the first one at the buffet cos otherwise nothing’s left, a usual conference scenario that I experienced in the past often enough, and which is never to be underestimated in terms of influencing the whole atmosphere, if you ask me. And the food and drink offers were great! No heavy stuff, light and healthy food! Good choice! This is probably the first conference where I did not put on a kilo more… Thanks 🙂 !

The days weren’t too long either, plus there was the great come-together for everybody at the end of day one. Really nice music, but admittedly too loud  for having more good talks over a beer. The alternative I’d see here would be a nice live jazz band, not too loud, so that both dancing as well as chatting would be options to pursue.  Something tells me that a cool jazz band would just suit that environment perfectly… Something to investigate for #next12 maybe?

Then there were a few critical voices about the quality of speakers and level of talks. Not unexpected, since you never ever will meet everyone’s expectations. I thought that there were really good sessions there were, at least in the international and the commerce track (these were the ones I followed in particular), and I actually learnt something new, which does not happen that often at events like this.

I liked a lot the attempt of making the conference really international, I felt kind of “home” there, if you understand what I mean.

Pep Rosenfeld was as a perfect host for that track – with clear words like “If you don’t understand English, you’re wrong here and if you don’t find the NEXT-wifi you’re at the wrong conference” 😉 The sidekick to Dominique Strauss-Kahn was priceless, and I enjoyed the brief “he didn’t just really say that, did he”-silence of most people in the room before at least a few started to laugh or giggle. Clash of cultures? Yes, but a good one and in a fun way. More of that NEXT time, please!

Well, but I also visited sessions where I thought “what a waste of time and pity” because the speaker did read an about 20 pages long seemingly aimless powerpoint presentation (ever heard of Guy Kawasaki? No presentation over 10 slides and PLEASE do not read these but make them illustrate what you have to say – and have something to say actually). Or, there was a basically really great session in the commerce track where all speakers held their talks in German, yet they were presented in English…. Hmmm, if you have like 5 translators sitting behind the panel like you i.e. have at WAN/IFRA, than that makes sense. But otherwise, what’s the point?

On the other hand I didn’t really bother that much about these instances. I simply left the (to me!) boring stuff, went to another track instead, or simply went back to the middle and had a good chat with someone until the next track started. And languages are no problem for me either, since I’m quite blessed with being able to converse in four of them fluently. Mixing them to the surprise of my conversation partners is quite normal, worst case addressing them in the wrong language (well _I_ understand 😉  ) Anyhow, one of them always works out, so I never judge tracks by language. But it is of course a real pity for both,  audience and speaker, if he or she is not comfortable conversing in another language. Speakers limit themselves because they cannot make their points the way they usually would. An uncomfortable feeling speaker cannot convince and there is a risk to leave a confused audience that got a totally wrong impression of that person. In that case one should have the possibility to stick to ones mother tongue, or maybe in the international panel translators in the background could indeed be an option in the future.

All in all, the conference offered sessions for everyone at almost every level, which was also needed, considering the different backgrounds of the people I met. And if it wasn’t for the sessions, the people, visitors as well as speakers were more than worth popping by for.

However, one suggestion I have, though. Make the blogger-lounge either prettier, or merge it with the speakers lounge in the first place. That was a so much was brighter and nicer place than the actual blogger lounge. If you want to write something cool, then the environment has to be somewhat inspiring and comfortable simply. Bloggers don’t just disappear in their “dark cave” writing their more or less critical reviews… You might have guessed that, having met them ;). Therefore it was great that we were allowed/ wanted as well in the speakers lounge.

Also, there should be a proper blogger meet-up before and/or during the event. There were 80 of us in our Facebook-group and conversations were rolling nicely online, but at the conference I hardly managed to meet the ones that I helped inviting, not to mention the ones I wanted to meet, especially the ones from other countries. What Nicole Simon initiated with meeting up the afternoon/night before was a marvellous thing to do, and it should be made early enough a proper part of the program. So that one can plan it in travelwise as well. This online community simply has to continue offline on at least the same level in order to be valuable for both, bloggers and NEXT.

In terms of a program for bloggers, one could also try to have a loose strategy to cover the event at its best in all the different blogs across all the countries where we were coming from. With no intention whatsoever of telling people about what to write, one could simply check with each other about who is interested in which tracks, and what the different areas of interest are. Paula for example followed the entire elevator pitch and I look forward to reading her post about it (so you intend to write about it of course, Paula! 😉 ).

I think bloggers need many more possibilities to meet and  exchange thoughts with each other. That definitely happened, but probably not to the extend it could have happened in order to benefit promoting NEXT with help of awesome reports in blogs all across Europe even more. Anyway, these were two awesome days!

That much for my first NEXT11 impressions, there will be a bit more during next week.

P.S.: By the way, this is how one finds out how many smokers there are at an event… 😉 I know, I’m a bloody non-smoker…

Elevator Pitch – My favourites! #next11

Obviously it is not that easy to say “this is the best start-up to my mind” when one hasn’t even been listening to what they have to say…

But then again one sees if a start-up does something original or just copies (and improves) an already existing service. Which can also be needed at times of course!

Anyway, I think Mike Butcher & Co in the jury did already a great job choosing the 12 finalists of the elevator pitch. I say that because when I first looked at the long list of everybody in there, I quickly got bored with quite a number of not at all exciting ideas. Saying that is of course damn easy, especially if one,  me definitely included, never even tried to come up with an own or even innovative business idea.

Judging others is always done very easy, but not in this case, I noticed. However, these are my 3 favourites among these 12, and I hope that their presentation will take them one step closer to winning the competition! They are in no particular order!

1. Trust You If this solution works, they would be loved by a huge number of shopping sites and their users! And it seems to work, their social semantic search, having listened to their presentation.

2. StoryTude As a pretty frequent traveller, I often see things on my way, wondering if there would be any stories connected to these. This could be a great travel companion, allowing one to discover lots of stories that lie off the normal tourist path, which I usually avoid anyway. Plus – no travel guides in paper needed anymore!

3. JoinBox Yes, please – one login for everything from everywhere. But as secure as only possible, please! After all I am German and naturally worried about the protection of my personal data… 😉

Good luck to ALL finalists!

#NEXT11 – rough plans for Day 2

Probably having survived a happy night out with all other official bloggers at NEXT, I will hopefully appear in time after a good breakfast (don’t you dare letting me down, hotel…) for the first session I want to see:

11am The personal data economy – and what it all means
Since I started working at Twingly a bigger part of not only the professional life started happening online. I really cannot tell you with how many sites I signed up since then, I only know that my Google-results get less digitally active friends go like “Wow, didn’t know you are that active online! Incredible what one finds out about you! And you even blog!!” (yeah, even that, guess what… 😉 ). Yet I am not afraid of people finding out about me on the net, simply since I know that if someone really wants to know more about you, they will do. Regardless how much you share on the web. Anyway, looking forward to this session about personal data online, with “secure” shop logins and what else there might be to come. Our life will be increasingly digital, whether we like it or not – personally I can see this development in comparison to my parents. Both over 70, they never ordered anything on the web, no trips, books or DVDs. Totally alien to them, yet I wouldn’t know what to do without it. Lots of facets this topic has!

13:30 Data vs Creativity? Bullshit!
This is the one I will most likely listen to – if I don’t take a panel-break and meet people instead.  Why this panel? Well, I’d agree that one does absolutely not exclude the other. Often it is when looking at the raw material that one gets inspired to create things. No matter whether it is data or knitting material.

15:30 Buttons, Behavious, Robots and Toys. What happens when we put data in things
Finally – this seems to be a proper inspiring session with lots of geek shit! Just the right thing for finishing a day and get home with new inspiration! Even though this isn’t the last session of the day. But for me it might be, since I’d like to take the opportunity to talk to a lot of people as well!

Then I will have a lot of time to spend, since I will also take the night train back to Sweden! Departure some time after 10pm, if I remember correctly…

So maybe there are some of you still hanging out and about I could join?

Preparing for #NEXT11 in Berlin! Looking at Day 1

Time simply goes too fast! Heard myself saying that before, yes…

Anyway, there are only like 10 days left to the NEXT conference in Berlin, the number of tweets slowly increases, and I still don’t have a clue, what I want to see. Time to change this!

The program grew immensely and now even the 12 finalists  for the elevator pitch had been chosen!

But let’s start with the program!

These are the things that I would if anyhow possible not like to miss!

Day 1 / 17th of May

Arriving by night train at 5 past 6 in the morning, I will definitely make it to the opening at 9 am – in a decent shape I hope, otherwise I might need to use any available shower facilities at Berlin Hauptbahnhof ;).

11:00 – 12.30 If Content is King then Data is Queen
And as we know, Queens are often even more important than kings… This session looks very useful, since it seems to pick up the daily challenges monitoring companies but also every one else doing some kind of monitoring of topicsm, brands etc.  is exposed to. So I hope to get some more insight on that which will help me further to understand the needs of our data customers better.

13:30 – 15:00 The Click is dead, stop loving it – start loving IT
This session I am particularly interested in because I still meet a lot of people in media who are interested in exactly that – the click. And the more or less direct turnover right behind it. In their dreams at least. Only a few people already realised that their online strategy in total, with seeking communication with their clients at the heart of it, which will bring them the much desired ROI. Problem with that is, though, the measurement. New ways have to be applied in order to see what went into it and what a company gets out of it. In sympathy and customer satisfaction (better: enthusiasm!) which will then increase the ROI. A whole new game that has to be mastered by still a lot of companies. Will be interesting to listen to the speakers’ experiences!

15:30 / 17:00 Will Data Business Models rule the world? 
I shop more and more online, don’t you? Plus, at Twingly we feel the increasing demand of (blog)data for all kinds of businesses – everybody wants to know what people talk about their products and brands. Nothing new, but it seems, that almost everybody is now aware of what is said on the web. Again, let’s see what the speakers’ experiences and plans are!

This will be my first NEXT ever and I don’t know how it was with the program in previous years, but it seems quite thought through! There is space for chats and meetings between the sessions and a really nice long lunch break. So it seems I might actually manage both, listening to the panels I picked and meeting lots of interesting people!

Really looking forward to it!!