Tag Archives: cloud computing

1. Clouds and Crowds (2009 Trends)

17 Feb
OK, I know this has been a favourite subject of mine for a while but…
  • The cloud is…distributing, accessing and publishing everywhere and sharing with everyone – including and especially yourself on all your devices
  • Your machine does very little, it contacts the net and displays information/applications in the most appropriate fashion to the device at hand.
  • It is WiFi enabled interactivity broken out into the real world
  • Mobile to be dominant platform for connecting to net worldwide (already is in Japan)
  • Even voice calls powered by internet & SMS/Texts become IM clients
  • More access means more people sharing information, entertainment and functionality
  • Stronger connections between people than with brands. Brands must try to facilitate these connections. Show don’t tell.
  • Bluring between the product, social element, interactive film, site, app etc.
  • The Crowd is…people shaping products/services and trialing them digitally – active engagement & opensource. People using technology to share and take control.

Next…2 Further Convergence

Back to…2009 Interactive Trends

2009 Interactive Creative Trends

17 Feb

Predicting trends can be notorious woolgathering for creative and strategy folk, often coming across as a mix of someone guessing the end of a detective thriller while taking a peak at page 400 in a choose your own adventure novel. But when you’re confronted with the annual “What’s next?” question it is a chance to alchemise some of the gold you’ve been thinking about into the base metal of Keynote slides.

Over the last month I’ve been sharing some thoughts about Interactive Creative – plus things we’ve been playing with and developing, as well as great stuff other people are up to – with our clients and other colleagues in the industry, and its been good to get some insight into what they think is going on.

Obviously the forthcoming “Second Great Depression” and the potential of +3million unemployed people is the elephant in the room.  Interactive can’t live in isolation and 2009/2010 is going to be extremely challenging; every day sees more pessimistic news that tends to render any predication optimistic.

Despite this there is the potential for great work to break through and enter popular culture/social currency – to effect real change. As the economic pressures increase and budgets get tighter, then the old faithful building-block plans of tired techniques can no longer be justified as effective. It becomes more vital that we create work that is not another microsite contribution to the marketing web.

The new work does require a confidence and realisation of how the web really works, and it is this work that I’ve been calling Brand Reality Creative. It is the work that will hopefully be the norm when we emerge back to growth in 2011/12.

But before I post again about Brand Reality Creative I thought I’d share some of my notes/slides about 2009 Interactive Creative Trends. Like I said, Interactive can’t live in isolation so I’ll start with some of the things from the “real” world…

  • Consumers trading down
    • But using brands & technology to provide access to the things and habits we traded up to during the age of excess. GDP down 3% and consumer spending down 2.6% as employees are “much more cautious” – stats and understatement from Ernst & Young Item Club
  • Cheap is in (not frowned upon)
    • Loyalty is not abandoned but based on rewards and value exchange rather than brand image
  • Home as sanctuary
    • Home entertainment, nostalgia and trust, “staycations” (a dreadful word that hints at local breaks rather than expensive trips), back to basics and security
  • Room/need for playfulness
    • As a relief but not excessive due to “the guilt & hangover”
  • Firmware/software updates
    • Not expensive hardware upgrades which can be put off but cheaper and more fun
  • Technology a source of escape
    • Fun and interactivity embraced by marketing as the added value rather than expensive extra features/materials. Playfulness means being hands on and having control…
  • People want to retrench & be in control
    • They see the trouble we are in as being caused by “other elites”, the bankers, politicians, and hedge-fundes they do not understand

In light of these wider world trends here are the 7 Philosophies/trends/technologies (and some examples of how they are already happening) that I think seem to offer the most hope and potential…

Seven Interactive Creative Trends for 2009

  1. Clouds and Crowds
  2. Further Convergence
  3. Play is social in the mainstream
  4. Sitting back with broaderband
  5. The semantic web & social periphery
  6. On is off/Off is on
  7. Augmented Reality/Digital Magic

The detail follows over the next day (and I promise I’ll fill in all the example links and pictures this time…soon)

Next… 1 Clouds and Crowds

The Cloud – distributed creativity, information and access

14 Oct

The Cloud is about distributing, accessing and publishing everywhere and sharing with everyone – a principle embodied by many a creative project or social media tool or site. So far so Web 2.0. Where it differs is that the audience for accessing, publishing and sharing everything includes you yourself, on any and all your devices – especially mobile ones.

It is this proliferation of places and devices that is in turn contributing to the increased importance and influence of the information itself over the older organising technologies and access methods. We will have control rather than the applications, technologies and devices.

Cloud computing means your machine does very little except contact the internet and display information in the most appropriate fashion to the device and purpose at hand – everything is taken from applications and storage in cyberspace2. This new world of the Cloud is the world enabled by WiFi rather than the old cumbersome, expensive copper wires and fibre-optics. It is not a fiction or a future, it is now – but it has happened quite quickly. In 2006 William Gibson was still using WiFi as a “science fiction trope” in his novel Spook Country. It was exotic. Now it is commonplace. In the last 18 months, through competition between the companies like Orange or the Carphone Warehouse, we’ve already seen that access everywhere is real – indeed I can detect 14 wireless networks, not all secure, when I’m sitting on my sofa at home.

So interactive has finally broken out and is in the real world, not just in the window that sits on your desk tied down by wires. But as we begin to interact in different places, we start interacting in different ways. Now interactive in reality is about the new ways of manipulating – with the emphasis on manipulate – information, services and entertainment.

So what is the reality? How does the Cloud intersect with the real world? How is it being implemented right now? Well, first we need a quick caveat from the world of ET and Mr Spielberg.

Eliot: He’s a man from outer space and we’re taking him to his spaceship.
Greg: Can’t he just beam up?
Eliot: This is reality, Greg.

“This is reality, Greg”, implies that reality is about limits, that the fantastic doesn’t happen, that the real world is dull. Interaction design and digital technology frequently confront this issue. In fact Digital in the real world is both fantastic and dull, sometimes at the same time. At the very least it starts as fantastic, but soon becomes the norm – it alters the way we see things and relate to each other.

One click sharing is an accepted norm but the places we can share with and our identities within them are multiplying. The Cloud aims to make the experience seamless and manageable.

Digital in the world away from the desktop is not an overnight jump to flights of fantasy – to Minority Report, Tricorders and jetpacks – but equally it is not totally mundane. Designers have been exploring it from the beginning of Interaction design, with greater and lesser degrees of success.


Bill Gavers’ Emotional Key Table and Picture Frame, MIT Tangible Media Group’s Prof Hiroshi Ishii’s original TUI diagram. MIT Tangible Media Group focuses on seamless couplings between physicality and virtuality.

From emotional tables that respond to the force with which you throw your keys down at the end of the day and recommend the appropriate drink, to Ars Electronica 2003’s Teleklettergarten, a building sized “keyboard” that enabled an anonymous collective of programmers and climbers to transform the “largely cerebral act of programming into a physical experience”, the move from Graphical User Interface to Tangible User Interface offers advantages for marketers beyond entertainment and being a replacement for a mouse – it changes the way people relate to their data and introduces a new playfulness.

We already have well-integrated touch technology on consumer electronics, from Apple’s multitouch devices (iTouch, MacBook Pro, the new Mac operating system), games consoles (Nintendo DS and Wii) and now even PCs and notebooks. HP has now released the TouchSmart, a desktop system with a touch interface, and in July 2008 Dell released a module to turn its Latitude XT Tablet computer into a full-blown touch-operated system. All these devices have been designed for use on the move and in the Cloud.

Aerie Networks vision of the mobile internet and broadband - circa 2002

Aerie Networks vision of the mobile internet and broadband - circa 2002

When you are not sitting at a desk, when you are moving in the Cloud, then the keyboard, large screen and mouse are not appropriate. Interacting with the Cloud in the real world these days means using devices like the iPhone or Samsung’s Omnia. It is not a hologram in the palm of your hand, or the CG silver surfer of the BT Cellnet’s brave new world of WAP. It is Blackberry in Orange Shops and Argos selling Laptops for the first time because they see them as a volume product; even Acer has released its Aspire One “netbook”. The Cloud is Google’s open-source web-based software and Apple’s MobileMe service – a service that is “not up to Apple’s usual standard” but still manages to achieve a 700% increase in traffic and users.

People have been proclaiming the year of mobile since the afore-mentioned ads of the early 21st century but the real uptake has happened quietly in the background. When ICM Research finds that 45% of UK mobile phone owners browse the web daily this shows that people are already interacting with the Cloud, and their number will only increase now that network operators have finally enabled ‘all you can eat’ data plans. Indeed, network operators are currently investing heavily in Cloud based services/applications and even mobile TV as future revenue streams.3

By 2013 Jupiter Research estimates that 2.1 billion mobile users will be using handsets to pay for goods downloaded directly to their phones – from ringtones, music, and games to gig tickets and TV shows. So the real future of mobile content lies in useful applications or assets that can embody social “bragging rights”.

As the semantic web evolves and becomes a digital reality then it will cross over into the real world via people’s need to interact with the Cloud. Geolocation services such as Yahoo’s FireEagle, a service that bridges the gap between traditional and mobile computing, or The Geode project for Firefox already aim to meet this need, and as they cross over into social networks to become “social compasses” they will only get more useful and more widely adopted. Only then will the potential for real world contextual creative opportunities combined with the newly accepted manipulative technologies come together to make reality more like fantasy. Then creative can start to challenge the limits of “reality, Greg”.

Continued…The Crowd – Cloud linked collaborative communities, creativity and tools

2. It is even a possible future for Nicholas Negroponte’s XO laptop – the OLPC project – that aims to bridge the digital divide and enable the real Crowd. The whole OLPC project could effectively live in the Cloud.
3. It will take until analogue switch off in 2012 to leave room for the UHF frequency needed, but in the States the average subscription length is 2.5 months – people leaving as soon as they join – so this passive Cloud model may need deeper examining.

The Semantic web – humanising information is more important than how you store it

14 Oct

“The semantic web provides a common framework that allows data to be shared and reused across application, enterprise and community boundaries” (W3C). It is a future where computers can understand the meaning of information as well as its format or type and can then serve it accordingly. It is smarter, personalised and almost infinitely granular.

In the semantic web there will be unique machine and human understood addresses for each piece and type of information. There will be countless numbers of distinct addresses available, so each thought, image, and word will have a unique address. A side effect of this is that as the number of these “web” addresses increase then they will lose their relevance to marketing – the old “broadcast model of interactive” based around a slick microsite will become less effective. Traditional Browser-based web page access will become less and less dominant as information becomes more important and accessible than the old traditional data pots, pages and directories used to organise it.1 The first steps are already being seen with the beta release of Google’s Chrome – the browser that aims to have “one box for everything” and acknowledges that “what we really need [is] not just a browser, but a modern platform for web pages and applications.” Google has consolidated the separate search box, employed by Firefox, IE and Opera, into the main address bar. The simplification has removed the usual menu items of File, History, Bookmarks and so forth, which are now are accessible through the address bar, by a dynamic keyword search. The result is a cleaner, more intuitive interface and the browser becomes a smarter, dynamic helper.

The future of advertising and marketing is at the new intersection of entertainment, information and utility. Advertising and marketing will live in, and function as, applications by which we access, filter and pull information towards us wherever we are located at any moment in time. This notion of smarter, anywhere and anytime access to information, entertainment and utility finds its current and near future realisation in the concept of the Cloud.

Continued…The Cloud – distributed creativity, information and access

1 Flo Heiss, The way things go

Clouds, Crowds and Brand Reality Creative – distributed creativity and information, collaborative tools and ideas.

6 Oct

This is a whitepaper on near, medium and long term interactive creative and strategy that I wrote at the end of the summer in response to a “what should we be doing/thinking next?” question from several clients. It covers my belief that the semantic web leads to the need for a new way of approaching creative and content challenges – that the old “objective correlative” way of advertising and marketing has to evolve to a “Brand Reality Creative” approach which will hopefully be a step beyond “Brand Utility”. The paper can be downloaded here or found on my website  (http://www.davidjcarr.com/clouds_crowds_whitepaper.pdf) and I will post a blog-friendly version shortly.

In fact it starts here…