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Preview: Musings of a mobile marketer

Musings of a mobile marketer



I am Helen Keegan, a veteran of mobile marketing, advertising and media since 2000. This is my diary and musings about mobile since 2004. I am part consultant and part events organiser in London, Barcelona & beyond (Swedish Beers & Heroes of the M



Updated: 2017-11-16T16:10:26.785+00:00

 



Thursday Thoughts

2017-11-16T16:10:26.796+00:00

I'm half-way through NaBloPoMo. It's harder than you think to write a blog post every day. It shouldn't be that difficult, but sometimes it just is. Sometimes, the words just don't come very easily. Sometimes you start a post and it's not the right time to publish it or you need more info or time to work on it before publishing. Today is one of those days. I have a couple of posts in draft that need a lot more work than just commenting off the top of my head. So today, I'm going to share some links with you and things I'm thinking about at the moment instead. You'll have to wait for the meatier posts!Terence Eden's testcard set up for Shambala FestivalUse a Test SlideTerence Eden, a fellow member of the NaBloPoMo club, has written today with some very simple top tips on presentations with the main point being about using a test card at the beginning of your presentation. It's a genius idea actually on a couple of levels. By using a test card, if you happen to have to test your AV when some or all of the audience is in the room, it's neutral in content and, Terence says 'easily ignorable'.I would add that for those of us of a certain age, it will bring back lovely nostalgic feelings and may put me in a more receptive frame of mind to hear from that speaker. It also occurs to me that brands and companies that have nifty graphics, could put together a similar type of testcard using their own graphics. You can read more of Terence's presentation tips here and he's made his testcard available on github too.Free university coursesQuartz magazine has been keeping track here of the 800 or so universities globally that are offering free or partially free online courses. And in the last quarter, 200 universities released 600 more courses to the general public. That's an incredible resource and goes some way to democratising education.I don't know about you though, but I find online courses really challenging. My attention wanders, I find it hard to be disciplined about it and I miss the collaborate nature of working with other students, or at least having that personal contact. I think there's also something to be said about going to a specific place to do something. There's something intentional about that that helps me, at least, with the learning process.But with university fees on the rise in the UK and the cost of living increasing, the demand for cheaper ways to get the same level of education has to increase. I'm no fan of university fees or the debt that lumbers the student in for many years to come. There is an emotional burden that comes with that alongside the financial one. So the future for some kind of online learning looks healthy but maybe the format needs to evolve. Or maybe I just need to get my head down and do one of these online courses. If I can do a daily blog post this month, then I can surely manage to complete one of these courses. Maybe that'll be my next challenge...Digital DisruptionApparently 50% of companies don't care about digital disruption. And 10% of them don't think this will affect them at all according to this post by friend and fellow mobilist, Monty Munford. He's citing some new research from Dell EMC. This chimes with a conversation I had with a friend a couple of days ago. He's recently left a large oil company and the main reason for his departure was their utter lack of acknowledgement of the digital world in which we live and the changes required to adapt to that. It's not so much about the nuts and bolts of the software requirements, but the culture change within the organisation. The latter point is so important and the one that so many organisations are missing.There are plenty of businesses that are rely much more on word of mouth and personal contacts than anything else. And that's absolutely fine. And absolutely right for them. Not everyone needs an all singing all dancing website or mobile app. And some industries may not be affected as quickly as others by the ubiquity of digital. However, internal processes, monitoring and management are increasingly digital or algorithmic and[...]



Love Theatre Day is Today!

2017-11-15T15:05:41.200+00:00

Action shot from the fabulous School of RockBlimey, I nearly missed this. I've just discovered that it's #LoveTheatreDay and if there's one thing I do love, it's the theatre. I was even at the theatre last night to see Son of a Preacher Man in Wimbledon - great performances and music, the writing - not so much, enjoyable nevertheless. But I digress. What is this #LoveTheatreDay thing, I hear (some of) you ask?This is an initiative run by Mar Dixon in association with The Stage newspaper according to this article. It's a social media initiative to encourage us to celebrate theatre around the world on Twitter and other social media platforms, hence the hashtag and it's happening today - Wednesday 15 November 2017.There are three themes throughout the day:1. #Backstage between 10am and midday to go behind the scenes and see parts of the theatre you would never normally get to see. I guess we've missed that one, but you can check the hashtag for what happened. I love backstage. There's a certain smell to it. It's very hard to describe. It's a nice smell and I'm guessing it's a mixture of wood, workshops and people, but it's unique to a theatre and unmistakable if you've ever experienced it.2. #AskATheatre between 3pm and 5pm where you can talk direction to the creative teams about their shows and ask the questions you've always wanted to.3. #Showtime between 7pm and 10pm when people will show what they're seeing at the theatre and what happens off stage during a show.This campaign is for theatres, performing arts organisations and the general public to celebrate what they love about theatre and to encourage more people to go to the theatre. I think it's a great idea. And one that just wouldn't work without mobile phones. The ability to take pictures, write down our thoughts, record video and audio and distribute it easily and quickly to a wide audience is amazing. This certainly couldn't have happened 10 years ago. Technically, we could do all these things, but the uptake wasn't big enough to reach the mainstream. But today, it's a whole other story. One thing to be grateful for with the ubiquity of the technology.There is something special about the theatre that keeps drawing me back and anything that encourages other people to enjoy that special something is a good thing in my book. So check out the hashtags, take pictures and share your stories from backstage, off-stage and in the audience and have a great #LoveTheatreDay.The Safety Curtain from The Ashcroft Theatre in Croydon.Day 15/30 NabloPoMo [...]



Mobile Campaign Best Practices 2017

2017-11-14T23:49:34.494+00:00

I've always been one for best practice. We don't see enough of it enough of the time unfortunately, especially when it comes to mobile advertising. The amount of time we're spending on mobile devices at any time is not decreasing any time soon and so it should follow that the ad spend follows the eyeballs to mobile screens. It's not quite the case yet. But as an industry, the more we can inject creativity into campaigns and best practice into targeting and running those campaigns, the better chance mobile will have and the sooner the ad dollars will cross over.Global mobile ad spend is estimated to grow from $108.9 bn in 2016 to $143.5 bn in 2017. However, according to my friends at On Device Research, most of that cash is wasted on ads that are ineffective that consumers don't engage with and don't recall. That's a lot of money to waste...It's not all bad news though, as the top 20% of mobile ads in terms of ad recall record an average uplift between the exposed and control group of +20% points. The remaining 80% of mobile ads achieve an average percentage point uplift of just +3%. Similarly the best performing 20% of mobile ads in terms of purchase intent are six times more effective than the remaining 80%. So there are clearly some advertisers and their agencies getting it right.So what are these key things that they're getting right?Logo presence on every frame is crucialA human presence can engageProduct shots catch the eyePlacing branding at the top of the creative boosts ad recallBe cautious with dual branding as it can distract and confuseA single clear message beats a text heavy ad overloaded with informationVideo grabs the user’s attentionInject a little humour in to your creativeA bit of interactivity hold’s the user’s attentionIf you want to drive purchase, then unsurprisingly having a strong call to action helpsThere's a bonus point to consider too and that's emotion. If you can connect emotionally with the consumer, you will do better.ODR tells me that the top performing adverts adhere to six of these principles on average yet few advertisers adhere to these rules. I'll be honest, this is pretty much advertising 101 for any visual channel, be that print, outdoor or TV with the exception of the interactive points around video and interactivity which specifically apply to digital.The bad news from the UK's High Streets has seen October retail sales fall at their sharpest rate since the height of the recession in 2009. That suggests there will be a tough run-up to Christmas. We don't yet know what the knock-on effect to the digital ad market remains to be seen but this time of year typically sees robust ad spend and mobile can have a great impact.Typically, Q4 campaigns outperform the rest of the year when it comes to unprompted and top of mind awareness. This is perhaps no surprise since well known household names tend to advertise heavily in this quarter. These brands will always have high baseline levels of awareness anyway so although they'll get a boost in Q4, it is not as much as some of the lesser known brands can achieve.That said, the team at ODR have noticed that Q4 mobile ad campaigns are underperforming in terms of boosting ad recall. This is likely down to even higher ad clutter than usual and being bombarded with a greater quality of brand communications overall. That means you might struggle to recall specific ads compared to quieter times of year.That means that best practice is needed even more than ever, especially if you don't have the same kind of budgets that the big guns have.If you need some inspiration of some good campaigns, then it's worth tracking ODR's quarterly winners on most effective ads. This one from Blis for B&Q for Father's Day ticked 7 of the boxes from the Best Practice list.You can get the full mobile creative best practice guide here (it's free and includes some nice examples for each point). And if you're wondering about how On Device Research measures brand effectiveness, you can find out more about their[...]



On this day...

2017-11-13T23:51:21.576+00:00

I'll be honest, I was struggling a bit to think about what to write today. So for some inspiration, I thought I'd take a look at what I and fellow mobilists were writing about on this day in previous years. In doing that, I was reminded of the Carnival of the Mobilists. It started in 2005 and the idea was that a blogger would do a write up of the week's writing about mobile. If you were a blogger, you could submit your article to be considered for inclusion. In this way, readers could discover more blogs and writers could attract more readers and followers. And it worked I got to know many other bloggers as a result and it was a good discipline to read beyond your normal remit.So let's take a look back at what we were thinking and writing about back in November of years past.November 2006. Rafe Blandford, writing his All About Symbian blog back then, wrote CoTM #52. Links include thoughts on Ajax, java and flashlite. Youth trends are covered. There's an review of the Opera Mini browser (we had smaller screens and less capability back then, remember). There's also a review of the Nokia E70. And of course there's talk about advertising, this time embedding them in ringtones. Check it out.November 2007 and it's Mark Hooft's Ubiquitous Thoughts turn to host CoTM #99. His specialism is mobile learning which he looks at but he also covers Google's Open Handset Alliance which was the previous week's big mobile announcement. He also talks about mobile marketing - needing simplicity and also a link to Jan Chipchase and thoughts about design based on what you know about your consumer. Check the links here.Mark Hooft also hosts CoTM #149 in November 2008. There's been a US Election and Barack Obama is the President. There's been a conference about Handheld Learning in the UK and the Mobile 2.0 event in San Francisco. Round-ups of both are included. Money and the economy is a key theme this week also. We were right in the midst of the credit crunch at the time. Survival was key, and arguably, still is key. More here.November 2009 and it's CoTM #200 at Jamie Wells' MobileStance.com The main theme in this week is Google buying Admob for $750m. Wow, 8 years ago. Time really does fly. Anyway, there's lots of chat as to why it's a good thing (or not) and why Google got a bargain. There's also some good thoughts about the uptake of mobile banking. And some other stuff too. Check out the edition here.In November 2010, Andy Favell of MobiThinking takes the helm. He must have had a reorganisation of his website as it's dated December, but according to Volker Hirsch, this was from mid-November 2010. Here's that week's Carnival. There are some interesting posts covered with topics including mobile music, network operators struggling to own the social graph, thinking about branding and marketing on mobile, mobile commerce and fragmentation and the legal issues around films on iPhone.In stepping back in time for this post, I'm astounded about how much good writing and thinking about mobile was going on back then. But also sad to remember that at least two of the prolific contributors to the carnival have now passed on - Judy Breck of Golden Swamp and just last month, Carlo Longino of Mobhappy and TheFeature. I'm also sad to see some of the blogs linked to are no more, including the site that used to be the home of Carnival of the Mobilists. I think the history of our industry is important. We need to know where we've come from to help us work out where we're going and where we don;t want to revisit. Hey ho. Such is life.Until tomorrow.Day 13/30 NaBloPoMo [...]



Complex writing is good for you (or why I'm writing every day this month)

2017-11-12T18:27:10.872+00:00

There isn't a lot of routine to my home life. I'm not rigid when it comes to meal times (although I do like to cook from scratch). I'm not a morning person at the best of times so work related tasks drift into the evening, especially now that the weather is cold and miserable. My work tends to come in fits and starts - it's the well-known feast or famine scenario. I think that suits my personality most of the time but not necessarily all of the time.In very busy times, or particularly stressful times, I can and do adopt a more regimented routine and I've used the Fabulous app successfully to help me with that. One of the tasks that it has you doing every day is a to do list. They recommend strongly that you write this down by hand and not on a computer or phone. There's something about the act of writing by hand that is perhaps more mindful than typing. And maybe it connects to the brain differently. I'm not sure. Either way, when I've done this routine, it does work and has helped me maintain focus and manage a heavy workload. Writing by hand is also a key part of the famous book, The Artist's Way. A friend recommended the book to me some years ago. I've never managed to work through the whole thing as it takes commitment and I'm not quite ready to commit to being an artist (What is my media? Will my work be good enough? How will I pay the bills? And lots of other questions immediately spring to mind. And yes, I know that's what the book can help you answer!). One of the key tasks of The Artist's Way is to write your morning pages, by hand, stream of consciousness style, until you have written at least 3 sides of paper. This can be about anything at all but it's a recognised way of dealing with whatever is on your mind at the time whether that's what the weather's doing or because you've had a run-in with someone. There are times when I've started the process and done a few days or a couple of weeks, but never stuck with it. And once I've dropped the ball on it, I've never picked it up. Oliver Burkeman writes more about how he used them and how they're being used by business people too.Despite my penchant for Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, I have held on to this blog over the years and still see long form writing as important. That's one of the reasons why I committed to doing the NaBloPoMo thing this November by writing a blog post every day. I think it's healthy for me to write something every day, partly down to the routine and discipline of it but also because it helps me think things through in more depth.  It turns out that complex thinking is inextricably intertwined with writing. According to this article from TES, if you discourage extended writing, you can damage deeper thought. And if we need anything right now in this age of instant gratification and algorithms making decisions for us, it is deeper thought! So on day 12 of this NaBloPoMo experiment, I'm reassured that I might just be on to something.Day 12/30 NaBloPoMo  [...]



Are Smart Meters as smart as they like to think they are?

2017-11-11T20:23:26.189+00:00

My energy company in the UK has been bugging me at every turn, by email, post, notes through the door, random people knocking on my door, to persuade me to have a smart meter installed and to get me to book an appointment. This is part of a government initiative to have smart meters installed in every home in the country between 2015 and 2020.The thinking behind these smart meters is sound. It allows a household and an energy network to better understand its energy usage and in turn, access different energy tariffs based on usage patterns and may help the nation use less energy by the energy companies being able to plan better and individuals to take more control over their consumption. It's part of the vision and thinking about what smart cities will look like in the future.All the blurb makes it sound like having one of these meters is compulsory. The consumer ends up paying for the cost of the installation over time in their energy bill. Hmm. Not so keen on that extra expense thank you very much.I checked. It is NOT compulsory to have a smart meter installed in the UK, not now, not ever. You can get on installed at any time in the future if you change your mind. You don't need to be forced into it by your energy supplier. There's more about it on the OFGEM site here (that's our energy regulator for readers from outside the UK).The trouble is that British energy suppliers don't have a good reputation, especially when it comes to anything technology related. Their websites are clunky, unintuitive and often inaccurate. I know from friends working at large agencies how painful the process has been to rollout any kind of digital technology with energy company clients. Their culture and organisational structure has exacerbated this and made things worse. That's not to say they don't have helpful, intelligent people working for these companies. They do, but not nearly enough of them and with, I'm guessing, inadequate leadership and inadequate ways of innovating or putting the customer first.My instinct with the rollout is to not have a smart meter installed. I don't want to be spied on. I don't want the hassle of a workman or woman in my house fiddling around. I don't want an algorithm deciding to switch off anyone's access to energy. And I certainly don't want to have my system vulnerable to hacking. That last one is probably the clincher for me. So many of our large companies and corporates suffer data breaches. I can't trust them with my personal data so I'm definitely not ready to trust them with managing my 'smart' energy supply.I also  don't want to have to think about my energy supply except that I get it and the bills are paid. I'd rather we had a simpler pricing structure so the we can forget about it and not have to worry or check that they're on the right tariff. And the bottom line is that I just don't trust them that they're getting this right.I've read too many reports in the news of massive billing issues of people being overcharged hundreds of pounds (often those who can least afford it), people being cut off inexplicably, of units failing and giving wildly inaccurate readings so I have to question why there is this insistence on rolling out a system that is clearly flawed.In case my mind has been made up as a result of #fakenews, I did a straw poll of my friends, both techie and non-techie, and what they thought about it. The feedback was overwhelmingly negative from both camps.The techies had real concerns over personal data and how they would (mis)use it and just couldn't trust them with it, worries about security and hacking and also the lack of ability to implement and manage. Non-techie friends were also very worried about personal data tracking and the vulnerability to hacking but also the health concerns around the radio waves they're emitting.I think there's also a question around the units they're using, the cost of the programme when there are other, cheaper [...]



Tis the Season

2017-11-10T15:09:50.989+00:00

It's most definitely that time of year. I was out in Central London last night and stumbled across the opening of the Carnaby Street Christmas lights replete with free cocktails (too strong, tasted synthetic, threw mine away), DJ, a steel drum band and discounts in shops, bars and restaurants in the area. I've never seen it that busy so they were clearly doing something right. My friend and I tried to eat in one of the many local restaurants, but by the time we got there, the wait time was more than 45 minutes so we wandered further into Soho and found somewhere else.But it's not just Christmas Lights that signal the festive season. It's the battle of the Christmas TV ad. I do love a good Christmas advert. One that tells a story, that is a short film and doesn't oversell the brand they're advertising.I haven't seen a clear winner yet unlike previous years, and there have been no tear-jerkers yet, but there are some contenders nevertheless.Very - Get more out of Giving allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/nvEvpfRnMLk?rel=0" width="560">Debenhams, You Shall Find Your Fairytale Christmas starring Ewan McGregor allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/fyNhzFYP3ts?rel=0" width="560">M &S Paddington Bear and the Christmas Visitor (I have a soft spot for Paddington!) allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/KfaSxIkLslE?rel=0" width="560">Argos, Ready for Take Off allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/WNqm-sgz86Y?rel=0" width="560">The Vodafone Christmas Love Story with Martin Freeman. Parts 1 - 3 are great. Am eagerly awaiting part 4. Will he get the girl? allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/hoOIb0PeIvQ?rel=0" width="560">And of course, it wouldn't be Christmas without an entry from John Lewis with Moz The Monster allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/Jw1Y-zhQURU?rel=0" width="560">Although these may not be as strong as previous years efforts, they're still beautifully crafted with high production values. Please can we see more of that all year round whether that's on digital or on TV?Day 10/30 NaBloPoMo [...]



The 25 Most High Tech Cities in the World

2017-11-10T00:43:30.942+00:00

The Shard. London's tallest building.A Facebook friend posted this article today from the World Economic Forum about the world's most high-tech cities. I don't think there are many surprises in there and London comes up as the number 3 behind San Francisco and New York. That's good to know as a Londoner and working in and around tech.The article makes for interesting reading and highlights the tech strengths of the cities it lists. It's great to see how well represented Europe is. There's also good representation in the USA and Asia. Cities in Africa, Australia and South America don't make the top twenty five.The article also reiterates that world populations are becoming ever more urban. It's something I'm aware of. It's certainly happening in the UK. The regions are suffering as London grows. The tension between London and the rest of the country also grows. As someone who regularly spends time in the regions as well as London, I can feel the difference. It's like I'm living two lives sometimes. My London life and my Midlands life.  I note this quote from the article:'In less than 35 years, the World Health Organization (sic) estimates that two-thirds of the world population will be living in urban areas (PDF) . That's an additional 2.5 billion people. The cities that will flourish the most are those that rely on cutting edge technologies and create opportunities for people to develop new ones.'How the world will sustain another 2.5 billion people, I really don't know. I imagine we'll have to learn to live in smaller homes and using a smaller environmental footprint. As for transport to get that extra 2.5 billion people moving around - be that country to country or a commute to work, that's a whole load of extra traffic fumes unless we move to cleaner energy sources. I rather like breathing. And having spent time in hospital with breathing difficulties, I know first-hand how debilitating it is and how particles in the air are really bad news for our lungs.As for the comment about cutting edge technologies... that's making me go 'hmmm'. What's important is to make sure that things work surely? We need reliability and consistency of service and things working and not just cutting-edge technology. We need to be able to roll services out and not have them in isolation. We need, I hate to use the cliche, but 'joined-up thinking'. We absolutely need to make things better and we need innovation to drive that. And we definitely need to experiment. We probably don't do enough of that as start-ups, entrepreneurs and investors are usually chasing the money above all else. We also need a population who are educated and have the skills to drive this forward. That's a huge challenge to know what and how to teach our children, teens and young people when their lives will be so vastly different in a short space of time and we're educating them for jobs that don't even exist yet.I'm thinking we're possible now in a post-app world with the rise of AI, machine learning and robots. And that has major implications when it comes to privacy, security, ethics and unintended consequences. I don't think success is limited to being cutting edge.Counting up, I've spent time in 10 of the top 25 cities, albeit a few of them before the massive growth of tech in the last 15 years or so. How about you?Day 9/30 NaBloPoMo [...]



Showing up

2017-11-08T18:05:05.719+00:00

Woody Allen famously said that 80% of success was simply showing up. The older I get, the truer I think that sentiment is. And as Martin Bihl points out, it's certainly true of advertising. And I would say, it's (sadly) especially true of how online and mobile advertising currently works. A lot of advertising works simply by being there when your competitor isn't.I'm consistently disappointed with the dismal quality of a lot of advertising, the volume of advertising messages via all channels and the desperation of ad networks to sell their inventory, of ad agencies wanting to buy eyeballs and of advertisers clutching at straws to make us buy something we really don't need. As an early mobile marketing pioneer, I'm also frustrated at the lack of innovation when it comes to mobile advertising in particular. We have all these wonderful, unique qualities to a mobile phone in terms of location, convenience, uniquely personal, and many other sensors and we just use them for analytics that then drives more dismal advertising to our screens, whatever screen that may be. Where are the new ways to connect with customers beyond pushing them a bunch of unwanted messages? Where are the nifty ways to improve on customer service to help us retain customers? There has to be a better way than sending relentless 'buy me' emails, surely?When I started at ZagMe with Russell Buckley 17 years ago, and my younger and less experienced of life, really thought we could change the advertising world for the better by being more relevant, increasing the quality of advertising whilst decreasing the volume of it. I guess greed, desperation and a lack of imagination got in the way and, instead we have the online advertising model of advertising shoehorned on to a tiny screen.Martin's post on the topic of advertisers showing up is well worth a read and he says it much better than I can. Check it out here.It's not all bad though. We are seeing some quality TV adverts on our screens in the UK. The current Warburton's advert, Pride and Breadjudice, with Peter Kay is a particular favourite of mine.  allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/4uCeeVl_He4?rel=0" width="560">Day 8/30 NaBloPoMo [...]



Children, their mobile habits and the new Monqi phone

2017-11-07T17:52:54.295+00:00

It's weird to think that a mobile phone has been a major part of my communications life for the last 17 years. It's weird to look back at how I used to communicate and what my attitude was to telephony and technology. It's also weird to note how my chosen methods of communication have largely switched from voice to digital text based - email, blogging, social media, messaging. It's even weirder to think that some people have never used a 'dial' on a phone, think that it's perfectly normal to have a video call or to share photos that disappear moments after you've taken them. Nevertheless these things have happened.I had a press release land in my inbox this morning. It's to promote a new smartphone, Monqi, aimed at children and parents being sold exclusively at Carphone Warehouse. The phone has a tracking app and parental controls. Their marketing team have put together quite a cute video showing a Granddad being taught how to use his smartphone by his grandson. It's a couple of minutes and it does give us a glimpse into the technology generation gap. allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/ZEtbLtEJHWU?rel=0" width="560">The press release goes further about their research and tells us by the age of 14, the average child will have sent more than 35k texts, 30k WhasApp messages and spent more than three sold weeks on video chat. The teenager will also have spent the equivalent of six months looking at their phone during that period, averaging 135 minutes use a day. Young people also spend over an hour a day browsing social media sites. They also expect a quick response to everything - typically within 15 minutes.This does beg the question around what the long-term effects might be of such heavy phone use. I'm also wondering what behaviours or activities it's replacing. And for sure, parents need to be monitoring this and also their own behaviour as most of these habits are inherited by children from parents and other adults. Both adults and children in the survey said they were spending over two hours a day on their phones, with adults admitting that was too long. With children getting their first smartphone on average by the age of 10, and parents routinely using tablet devices and phones to keep their toddlers amused, these screen habits start young and die hard. I think we could all do with trying to find the right balance between screen time and other activities.Other stats from the results revealed that 60%of  under-14s said their phone is the first thing they check in the morning and last thing at night. 40%  youngsters said they would feel 'lost' without their smartphone for a day with only 7% believing they would feel 'free' or 'relieved' without it.Young respondents said the best thing about their smartphones was being able to stay in contact with friends and family, and playing games. That last one I have trouble with. There's not a lot of difference between some mobile games and the psychology behind a slot machine. The mindless manipulation of a screen with the reward being bright shiny lights and some noise.Psychologist Dr Becky Spelman commented on the findings: "The survey found that children invest a great amount of importance in the ability to stay connected – checking their smartphones before bed and as soon as they wake in the morning.“Some parents may be alarmed by this, comparing their children’s experiences to their own childhood when technology was not as prevalent.“Panic is not the solution, nor is denial. It is inevitable that your child will use technology, so it’s your job to help them navigate the digital waters safely, and set boundaries.""The survey also found that there are benefits to kids having a smartphone - parents can track their child’s location and have peace of mind knowing that[...]



Maps, Open Data and the Call for Cleaner Air

2017-11-06T08:00:22.175+00:00

Screenshot of the Clean Air Merton Map of Air Quality results across Merton, London.Those of you who know me personally, know that I've suffered with allergic rhinitis (that's hay fever triggered by more than just pollen) since I was a child. After a hiatus from symptoms in my teens and early twenties, a spell working in fashion retail in Knightsbridge with our store doors open all day and the relentless stop-start traffic outside caused my allergic rhinitis to return with a vengeance and it has never yet relented. This summer, during the heatwave week when NOx levels were exceptionally high in London I suffered, what I now know was an asthma attack. I had a worse one a few weeks later and ended up in hospital in the urgent care unit hardly able to breathe. Both attacks probably triggered by air pollution. This isn't trivial. That second asthma attack was very frightening indeed. I read someone describing an asthma attack as feeling like you're drowning in air. That pretty much sums it up.Reading around the topic of asthma and pollution, I discovered that my local area is a hotspot for pollution and registered twice the legal levels of NOx in recent tests. It's a busy main road, there's a roundabout and lots of traffic lights and there's a lot of traffic that stops and starts causing much of the pollution. There are roads just like that all over London and up and down the country. I knew that parts of London had problems with air pollution, but I didn't realise how close to home it is. Air pollution is an issue which respects no boundaries.As a result, I'm all for having cleaner air to breathe and luckily for me there are people already working towards this in my local area from several different community groups. They've teamed up and shared their air quality results with those of the council and mapped them on Google Maps. It makes for interesting reading. You'll need to be looking at Wimbledon, Mitcham and Morden to see the results. The black markers are over the legal NOx levels, the yellow markers are not far off the legal levels and the blue markers (there are only 2 of them across the borough) are well below the legal levels.That's pretty depressing. The area where I live has lots of green space. I live within walking distance of Figge's Marsh, Mitcham Common, Ravensbury Park, Morden Hall Park, Tooting Common and Beddington Park. Yet still we're suffering. The picture will be similar up and down the country.Mitcham Cricket Green Community & Heritage has lots of action points to improve air quality in Merton and one hopes that both normal citizens as well as those in authority in local government and business take note and take action.The good news is that this data is  open data and therefore public which means anyone can see it and contribute to it. A big thank you to the contributors and administrators. This is important work and necessary to help us understand the impact we are having on our own environment. If we know what we're dealing with, we can find solutions. Let's all work towards having cleaner air to breathe.Day 6/30 NaBloPoMo [...]



Big questions for Big Tech

2017-11-05T09:00:06.516+00:00

I've been participating in a discussion on a friend's Facebook page in the last few days. He's frustrated about the content he sees on Facebook, is blaming it on the algorithms and as a result wants to quit Facebook save for keeping a profile live so that he can be messaged by friends and family.Fair enough, you might say. I know more than a few people who 'don't do Facebook'. I respect their reasons although it makes including them in a conversation tricky when they're not there. It's like trying to have a conversation with your mates in the pub and one of them is not with you.I pointed out that one of the reasons I use Facebook is that I'm able, to a certain degree at least, to customise what I do and don't see. I do tell Facebook about the adverts I do and don't like. I turn people and pages off and on as I see fit. I've turned off nearly all mainstream news sites - the constant barrage of war, pestilence and famine is overwhelming when there's very little I can do about it and it was just making me feel depressed.But there is a bigger discussion point and that's how Facebook polices the content shared on its service, especially in light of the allegation of Russian manipulation of voters in the US election - specifically by manipulating Facebook and the distribution of fake news content there.I know fake news goes on. I do check my sources more often than not. I rarely take things as read when a friend posts a headline. Equally, I try to understand the bias, left or right, of TV and print media too. That takes time and effort. And most of the time, most of the people can't be bothered to do that or don't know that they could or should be doing that.But coming back to the Russian fake news manipulation thing... that is actually a very big deal. It raises questions of ethics, what should and shouldn't be allowed to be published and how it's policed. This video from Professor Galloway is definitely worth a couple of minutes of your time. allowfullscreen="true" allowtransparency="true" frameborder="0" height="315" scrolling="no" src="https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fl2inc%2Fvideos%2F10155248990734315%2F&show_text=0&width=560" style="border: none; overflow: hidden;" width="560">h/t George Nimeh of Nimeh & Partners.See also this article from the FT 'Ukraine says it warned Facebook of Russia fake news in 2015'.Day 5/30 NaBloPoMo 2017 [...]



The Future of Blogging and Communications - some thoughts

2017-11-04T19:01:29.666+00:00

I went to an interesting panel discussion on Thursday evening in London at WeWork near Old Street. It was organised by the #BlogClub team and the session was entitled 'How will AI and other disruptive forces affect and impact the world of blogging and communications?' The panel was led by Andy Bargery and the panellists were Katie King (CEO of Zoodikers and future author of a book on AI and Marketing for Publishers Kogan Page) Katie on Twitter, Lucy Hall (blogger at www.lucyshall.com) Lucy on Twitter, and Minter Dial (co-author of 'Futureproof- How To Get Your Business Ready For The Next Disruption'), Minter on Twitter. As I've previously done quite a bit of work and thinking around the topic of AI, I was interested to revisit it with a different audience - i.e. not tech experts but writers, both professional and amateur. This made for an interesting evening and provoked me into thinking more deeply about the topic again.ChatbotsOne of the first things to be brought up was Chatbots. I've not had a great experience with Chatbots if I'm brutally honest. I've had a play with the Pizza Express one and the Dr Oetker one. Both crashed on me and both were nothing more than a weak IVR (interactive voice response) in a text format. They both took too long to interact with and what they achieved could have been done much more quickly via a webform or a bunch of tick boxes. The Pizza Express ones have been a bit cuter as it included some animation and video, but ultimately, they're not *that* clever. At least, not yet. Both of these chatbots were on Facebook Messenger.Robot writingThe discussion moved on to automated writing. The ai-writer.com website was mentioned more than a few times and heralded as 'the future'. There have been robot poets in China, a Japanese robot fiction author who got through the first round in a literary contest, and this year, Google invested in AI to write local news. And I know that data driven news content like sports results, stocks and share information and weather is already automated so it's not so far-fetched to think that anyone who writes for a living may find themselves out of a job in the near future.But let's not get too carried away with this. I tried ai-writer.com and it was pretty ropey. Check my previous post for an example article or try it for yourself here. Or take a look at Vic Keegan's Shakespeare's Monkey website (pictured above) which has been running for years and years and still it hasn't created anything worthy of a single line of Shakespeare. I realise that Vic's experiment is based on randomness whereas ai-writer's aim is specifically to generate content for blog writers - your only input is the blog title to generate the content.Let the tools help you not replace youThat's not to say that there are AI tools out there that are very useful indeed, especially to a writer. Google Search being the most obvious one. Even things like AI Writer may have their uses to link to useful resources. There are other tools out there to help you plan your writing, do research for you and help you with readability, translation, distribution, and more. However, where creativity of any kind is a requirement, the human brain still wins out.Nevertheless, there are a myriad of servers out there generating fake news and pictures and  automating content (that looks little better than gibberish) in order to either manipulate the public in the former and to make cash from advertising in the latter case. I won't touch on all the automated marketing tools, click fraudsters and fake (robot?) eyeballs out there at the moment who make this scenario even worse - I'll save that for another time. It's a big top[...]



Here are some easy to sew Christmas presents (written by ai-writer.com)

2017-11-04T17:36:48.814+00:00

(This post has been generated wholly by http://ai-writer.com. I've done this as an experiment.)Just afternoon and a few basic sewing skills are enough to turn a couple of homeless socks into a cozy psine-and what's better than a puppy for Christmas? [0]DIY Gifts To Sew For Friends - quick and easy sewing designs and free designs for the best ideas and gifts - Creative step-by-step guides for beginners - nice home decoration, accessories, kitchen appliances and do-it-yourself do-it-yourselfers. [1]Made from recycled fabric strips and padded buttons, the floral clips are an easy workmanship and a fashionable Christmas present. [2]Do-it-yourself clothes, DIY clothes, sewing patterns, fast crafts, tutorials, DIY tutorials. [3]Ideal sewing tutorials for beginners with easy patterns to make great Christmas presents for friends and the whole family. [4]Ideal sewing tutorials for beginners with free patterns to make great Christmas presents for friends and the whole family. [5]Let yourself be inspired by your PDF and prepare a great Christmas gift in the form of small handmade gifts (materials for Christmas! [6]Christmas projects include gingerbreads, cones and a modern Christmas wreath, as well as simple projects that can be gifts, such as felt frames for buttons and picture frames that are ideal for children to give to their grandparents. [7]Do it yourself Kitchen sewing projects - Folding pot holder - Easy sewn Tutorial and models for towels, napkins, napkins, aprons and fresh Christmas gifts for friends and family - Rustic, modern and creative home furnishing ideas! [8]DIY Gifts To Sew For Friends - quick and easy sewing designs and free designs for the best ideas and gifts - Creative step-by-step guides for beginners - nice home decoration, accessories, kitchen. [9]List of handmade tailoring projects, including Christmas stockings, decorations, cushions, gifts and table-top races. [10]Ideal for the child to be able to renovate a Christmas tree once and for all (today you probably won't even want to give it as a gift, right? [11]Made of fabric remnants, this is close to zero cost, but this makes it will be an incredibly sweet and funny DIY gift for a child or adult, depending on the material chosen. [12]Package your sweet fragrant vintage glass jar bombs with a custom plate to make the presentation even more unique. [13]For the bookmark, you'll need to cut out two slightly smaller pieces of paper, as you can see from the video and stick them together. [14]Instead, reuse it as a personalized stocking for someone special on your gift list, and then fill your stockings with some little wrapped surprises. [15]DIY Sewing Projects for the Kitchen - Guide and design for towels, napkins, aprons and cold Christmas presents for friends and family - Rustic, Modern and Creative (Sewing by instant gifts). [16]Christmas sock stitched lean sewn: A fourth fat of the main fabric (format) A fourth fat of fabric lining (work white smooth fabric is fine) A small amount of contrast fabric for Bracelet Calza A small amount of button ribbon A. [17]For an aromatic, beautiful and easy to use gingerbread, apply the orange and grapefruit cloves and place them on cake racks or decorative platters with the addition of greenery. [18]Customise the fabrics to match the style of the recipient and give the bag as a gift on its own or fill it with a few little surprises to make your holiday real. [19]Create a thematic gift basket for newlyweds, students or new homeowners, you can create a basket with a few inexpensive discounted items. [20]The computer and scanner are all you need to turn your favourite collector stamps (such as stamps) into printable designs that you can use to turn cheap shoppers' boards[...]



Security, the Internet of Things and The Future of Humanity

2017-11-03T16:49:41.678+00:00

I don't know about you, but security issues with digital devices, websites and apps both worry me and render me feeling a bit lost and as if we're always going to be fighting a losing battle with hackers and fraudsters. There are stories in the news every day about a data hack with consumer data being stolen, being locked out of personal accounts, having our laptops being held to ransom and more. It's very worrying as to how vulnerable we can be. And this isn't necessarily through any fault of our own.As a consumer, we have little control over what happens on the server of the service we're accessing. So even if we're taking care with out passwords and login details, if the server is hacked, we're still vulnerable. Add to that the plethora of connected devices on the market such as routers, health trackers, Amazon Fire Stick, Google Home, Smart Meters and you see the problem is even bigger than just dealing our phones, tablets and laptops. Much of or town and city infrastructure is also connected such as the Oyster Card system on London's Underground, connect street lighting and traffic lights, CCTV cameras, speed cameras and much more besides. This part of the technology industry is only going to get bigger.Fortunately, there are some very smart people working very hard indeed to help keep us and our digital lives safe. One of those people is David Rogers, my go to guy on all things mobile security. He writes in a post he's written today,"We know that regular software updates, whilst a pain to establish and maintain are one of the best preventative and protective measures we can take against attackers, shutting the door on potential avenues for exploitation whilst closing down the window of exposure time to a point where it is worthless for an attacker to even begin the research process of creating an attack." That makes me feel marginally better about the tedium of seemingly endless updates to apps and software. It also shows us how important it is to keep these things up to date.But keeping these things up to date, secure and safe is not a trivial task. It's complex and you're likely dealing with a supply chain rather than a single company. I imagine it could be quite daunting for a start-up or a small company.If you're a developer of software or hardware or commission software or hardware or are generally interested in these things, especially in relation to the Internet of Things, then you would do well to have a gander at David's post, 'The Future of Humanity Depends on Us Getting Security Right with Internet of Things' and check his list of resources and further reading. He really is expert in this area. And I don't think he's underplaying it when he says that the future of humanity depends on it. With all the connected equipment in hospitals, schools, banks, energy companies, airports, transport networks and more, these are all vital and largely invisible parts of our lives. It's only when they don't work that we feel it and the impact can be truly dreadful, and indeed, life threatening.I, for one, am reassured that there are lots of people in different areas of the business looking at this, not in silos, but together to come up with the right solutions and to keep coming up with solutions as this area evolves and grow. And if you're a youngster thinking about what career you might go into, I'd say that you'd be fairly sure of a solid and lucrative career by specialising in cyber security.(Day 3/30 NaBloPoMo done.) [...]



Rodelinda - a tale of obsession

2017-11-02T20:47:09.048+00:00

I was fortunate to go to the opera last night to see Rodelinda by Handel at The Coliseum.As I've previously mentioned, I'm no opera buff which is partly why I'm drawn to going to the opera so I can learn more about it and why and how it stands the test of time. It's certainly out of my comfort zone. I don't enjoy it in the same way I enjoy a musical like School of Rock or a play like Ink (I've seen both recently and both are excellent by the way and well worth seeing). But I do get enjoyment from opera most of the time. And this was one of those times.I've never heard of Rodelinda and I had no idea that Handel even wrote any operas which shows you where my level of knowledge is. I'm familiar with The Messiah and Zadok the Priest but not much else by Handel. I don't even know very much about Handel as a composer so I was intrigued as to what I would be watching. At the very least I knew it would be good as it's the ENO, but whether I would like it is another matter.I needn't have worried. This production is very enjoyable indeed with beautiful singing, stunning set and great acting.Director Richard Jones has brought the story of Rodelinda forward to Fascist Italy and brings attention to the obsessional element of the story. The King of Milan, Bertarido, is deposed and sends word that he has died with a view to returning in disguise to save his wife, Rodelinda, and son, Flavio. Meanwhile Grimoaldo has seized the thrown and has designs on Roselinda for his wife. Garibaldo, one of Grimoaldo's allies, has designs on the throne himself and plots with Eduige to do so. Eduige complies as she's furious with Grimoaldo for making a play for Roselinda when he's already betrothed to her. Unulfo is working for Grimoaldo but secretly helping Bertarido.The common theme that I took from the opera is that of obsession. Grimoaldo is obsessed by Roselinda. In this production he has secret cameras set up to follow her every move whilst she is imprisoned. He spends his days lusting after her and working out ways to win her for himself. Eduige is obsessed by Grimoaldo. She wants him for herself because she wants the power he already has and the power he has taken in usurping the throne. Bertarido's obsession is his wife, and to a lesser extent, his son. Garibaldo is obsessed with power. He will go to any lengths to get it, including violence. Unulfo is secretly obsessed by Bertarido which means he's happy to double cross his boss, Grimoaldo. Roselinda is tormented by her grief at losing her husband, Bertarido.All this obsession results in circular thinking, plots and subterfuge and violence and threat of violence and unintended consequences. It shows the audience how skewed we become when consumed by obsession of any kind. The story is more gripping than I was expecting - much enabled by the set and 1940s setting and the intense atmosphere it portrayed.What was surprising was how the very old but beautiful style of music was juxtaposed with the modern setting but still worked really well. The orchestra were using instruments of the day and that even included recorders (who knew that the recorder could sound so beautiful!). The singing is also of its day. The good guys (Bertarido and Ufulfo) are countertenors and are hitting high notes as high as the female singers. And it was very beautiful and full of emotion and was definitely masculine despite the high register. What also worked well was the repetition of phrases in the singing. This added to the intensity of the scenes and accentuated each one's obsession. What I also loved about the production was the wit in both the translation of the libretto and the acting in some of the scenes. Ther[...]



Swedish Beers (Not Tears) on Tuesday 21st November

2017-11-13T14:38:58.192+00:00

Well, it's the 1st November which means that it's the first day of NaBloPoMo and my commitment to post something here every day in November.Usually, I'd have plenty of time to think about that, but today I've been running around all day struggling to get much time at my laptop at all. And despite my penchant for all things mobile, as a touch typist, it's much easier to write at a proper keyboard than trying to punch something in on a phone on the bus or tube.That said, I do have something to announce today. That's the next Swedish Beers bash in London on Tuesday 21st November. This next edition is the Swedish Beers (not Tears) in memory of Carlo Longino, one of our mobile industry stalwarts who died last month at the age of 39 after a 2 year battle with lymphoma. I first met Carlo via this blog, funnily enough. He was writing for The Feature for Nokia and also with Russell Buckley at Mobhappy. We were among the first ever bloggers about mobile technology and we regularly commented on each others posts and participated in the Carnival of the Mobilists. We also exchanged emails and then met in person for the first time at the first Swedish Beers party in Barcelona in 2006 and remained firm friends thereafter.I know that Carlo was very keen to encourage people to donate both blood and blood platelets. Apparently hospitals are often running very low on blood platelets and not that many people know about donating them. I certainly knew nothing about that until Carlo and his wife, Alex, started talking about it. So whether you knew Carlo or not, please do go and find your nearest place to donate blood or blood platelets and do it! You never know when you or a friend, colleague or family member will need it.It would also be lovely if you're based in London and knew or knew of Carlo to join us in raising a glass in his memory on Tuesday 21st November. And if you didn't know him but work in the mobile industry, please come along and join us too. We'll be chewing the mobile fat and doing some fundraising for Bloodwise on the night too. I've set up a Justgiving page to that end so feel free to add your donation there.RSVP is required for Swedish Beers so please do that over on eventbrite. allowtransparency="true" frameborder="0" height="307" hspace="0" marginheight="5" marginwidth="5" scrolling="auto" src="//eventbrite.co.uk/tickets-external?eid=39476358852&ref=etckt" vspace="0" width="100%">Powered by EventbriteUntil tomorrow... [...]



Aaaarrrggghhh 5 months...

2017-10-27T15:00:05.503+01:00

I can't believe I haven't written anything here since May. I've certainly thought about it and had things to write about, but for one reason or another, life got in the way and my lowly blog got neglected. And that's a shame because I still think there's a place for longer form content on the web.

It's time to rectify this, so to really challenge myself, I'm going to attempt NaBloPoMo - National Blog Posting Month. The idea behind it is to post something every day during the month of November. It's similar to NaNoWriMo where writers attempt to write a novel in a month. But since I don't think I have a novel in me to write right now, I'll get on with writing things on my blog. I also challenged myself to write and publish 50 blog posts this year and I'm woefully behind. Writing 30 posts in November would certainly help me catch up and stand a reasonable chance of completing my challenge. 

So wish me luck and hope you follow me on my blog journey next month. And thank you to Terence Eden for posting about his NaBloPoMo writing on Facebook which reminded me to get on with it. Of course, he's already pre-written a whole bunch of posts so has a head start on me. Best get my writing cap on!

P.S. if you fancy doing it too, there's some info here from Blissful Lemon and a chance to join the blogroll. It also helps with the accountability thing.(image)



Tips on buying discount theatre tickets in London

2017-05-22T18:05:55.263+01:00

The Olivier Theatre from the back of the Circle for Peter PanOver the last few years, I've rekindled my love of theatre. Some of you know that my love of theatre started in my early teens where I strutted my stuff on-stage and backstage for amateur and professional productions at the Swan Theatre in Worcester. I attended Swan Youth Theatre every week and performed in as many shows as I could as well as volunteering in the coffee shop, making costumes and being a dresser. It was something I considered doing as a career but was put off through a mix of family pressure and personal circumstances.When I moved to London, I gave up all the acting. I simply didn't have time for either rehearsals or performances since I was working in retail with unsocial hours. I didn't go to the theatre at all for a very long time. I couldn't face it. I wanted to be on the stage rather than being in the audience and it just left me frustrated. Plus it was (is) expensive to go to shows in the West End and the salary of a retail manager (as I was at the time) simply didn't stretch to West End theatre tickets.In the last few years though, I've started going to the theatre again and have gained much enjoyment and brain food from it and have been to all kinds of performances from the tiny to the huge, from mainstream to borderline bonkers and everything in between. I have a few thespian friends, mainly from my youth theatre days and some of them are in high enough places that I get the occasional complimentary ticket to see a show that they're in or are directing. I've also discovered several ways of enjoying the theatre in London without breaking the bank. Here's the lowdown.1. Day SeatsThis can be a great option for seeing shows in the West End. Many of the London theatres offer heavily discounted seats for the same day when their box office opens in the morning. Typically, they keep the front row available for day seaters, but sometimes they'll offer up other unsold seats as well. For the very popular shows, you'll need to get up early and queue. For others, you can rock up just before the theatre opens and you'll be rewarded with your tickets. Sometimes, if you're passing a theatre, it's worth popping in to see if they have a day seat available for that night. You can get lucky like that from time to time - I managed to get a ticket for 1984 for £10 just 40 minutes before curtain up. And if you're on your own, it's even easier as there are often the odd single seats available which are harder to fill as most people attend with a companion.Before you head off to grab your day seats, it's well worth reading what TheatreMonkey has to say about it. There you can find all the London theatres listed and what their current policy is about day seats, including availability and pricing. It's a fantastic resource and well worth doing your homework so you can work out what show to try for. Check it out here.2. TodayTix AppThis is an app and website where you can access the equivalent of day seats but in a digital format. For some shows, there's a daily lottery that you can enter to win a day seat at a fixed price, for others, there are 'rush seats' available for that day or the next at a substantial discount, and for others, discounted seats are listed for the current week. Just this week, they've announced that you can now book up to 30 days ahead so you can do some forward planning rather than needing to be spontaneous.The app is free to download on both Android and iOS or you can access on http://todaytix.com/. When you sign up, please use my code SMZER and you will ge[...]



Ugly Lies the Bone, Virtual Reality and The Power of Theatre

2017-05-09T17:56:26.234+01:00

Much as I'm interested in new technologies, Virtual Reality (VR) has never been my thing. I suffer from vertigo from time to time and, from what I've read, VR experiences can trigger it. I already struggle with 3D movies (I rarely go to a 3D version of a film these days), and I really don't like sweeping film sequences as if in flight. I have to look away from the screen. So I'm not a natural fit for VR.On the business side, beyond entertainment (immersive films and entertainment), I've also not seen a compelling reason for VR, yet it's one of those technologies that won't go away, has been invested in heavily and was ubiquitous at this year's Mobile World Congress. Admittedly, it was fun watching a colleague walk the plank off a virtual sky scraper, but that's a gimmick or a game and isn't going to be for everyone. So it's fair to say, I'm a VR naysayer. Or at least I was.I'm now beginning to see some exciting uses for VR in terms of well-being. I, and several thousand others were moved by Tribemix's work with dementia patients by using Virtual Reality to take them back to places where they felt safe and could escape their dementia, even if only for a short while. I think it's extraordinary how the mind can be fooled and that you can immerse yourself in an alternate reality so readily. allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/N3ywcoqR4Co" width="560">Which leads me to the fabulous play I've just seen at The National Theatre - Ugly Lies the Bone. It's the tale of Jess, a US war veteran who was badly injured in Afghanistan and spent 14 months in hospital and is in constant pain. She moves back to her home town in Florida to live with her sister and as part of her pain management, she uses guided VR to help her overcome some of her physical and mental limitations.I'm fascinated at the prospect that something non-invasive and non-pharmaceutical like VR might be used to heal and to manage chronic illness or chronic pain. That has to be better than pumping people full of drugs.The play explores Jess's return to her hometown, and her rebuilding relationships with her sister and ex boyfriend and trying to establish a new life for herself. Jess also immerses herself into a VR experience and the audience also experiences it through some of the most stunning visuals I've ever seen on the stage. They're so good that they almost take away from the writing and performances. The tight cast do not disappoint. The relationship dynamics are really interesting as others, and Jess herself adjust to the disfigurements she suffered and to the triggers that send her back to the moment the bomb went off in Afghanistan that sent her on this painful journey.The play is life-affirming, fascinating and beautiful. Go see it while you can! It may help you see another side to virtual reality beyond nerds gaming in darkened rooms. More about the play and how to book tickets on The National Theatre website.In both the film and theatre examples above, the power of storytelling and the power of theatre is clear to me. Theatre has the power to take us somewhere else entirely, and in turn, that can be a fabulous healing experience. [...]



New comScore report: Mobile's Hierarchy of Needs

2017-04-11T13:27:22.541+01:00

I just got an email from comScore announcing the release of a new global report, ‘Mobile’s Hierarchy of Needs’. They tell us that this new report traces the global evolution of smartphones and tablets as they’ve become consumers’ primary digital tool, revealing specific behaviours for which these platforms are important to their daily lives. Data from 9 markets (USA, Canada, UK, Spain, Italy, Brazil, Mexico, China and Indonesia) demonstrates audience and consumption trends, along with regional differences in digital landscapes.Key insights revealed in ‘Mobile’s Hierarchy of Needs’ include:Mobile devices account for more than 60% of all digital minutes in all 9 markets, led by app usage.The share of consumers abandoning desktop altogether varies dramatically by geography – from just 7% in the UK, to 70% in Indonesia.Messaging apps such as WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, WeChat, QQ Instant Messenger and Line account for nearly 1 in 7 minutes in certain markets and led to a decline in standard SMS messaging.I thought it was worth a look. You can download the report here: Mobile’s Hierarchy of Needs report.They have a bunch of other free whitepapers you may also find useful, including this recent one about Mums in the UK and their online behaviour, especially on smartphones. [...]



Heading to Barcelona next week for Mobile World Congress?

2017-02-22T13:11:47.213+00:00

I'll try and keep this one short as I know you have a busy schedule but I wanted to alert you to a few things that are going on that you may or may not know about.Win an expo ticket for Mobile World Congress courtesy of Trustonic - enter before 15:00 GMT Thurs 23 Feb. You can do that here.Fancy showing off what you're doing to an enthusiastic crowd on Sunday afternoon at NUMA? I have a few demo slots left. If you would like one of those, please register for a demo ticket here. There is no charge to demo. Anyone else who wants to come, please add yourself to the waiting list. I hope to release the last batch of tickets tomorrow. And if you fancy sponsoring the event and connecting with 200 mobilists, let me know.Last call for sponsors for Swedish Beers on Wednesday night. I have a super roster of sponsors this year led by DigitasLBi and joined by Headforwards, x-Mobility, 51 Degrees, ZZZ.co.uk and Inspiring Interns. There's space for one or two more if you'd like to join them. Get in touch if you'd like to sponsor at start-up or co-sponsor level. The 12th annual ladies lunch is on Monday 27 Feb. Tickets available here for Euro 32.Further events are listed at http://mobileheroes.net. It's probably easiest to view by day: Sunday | Monday | Tuesday | Wednesday | ThursdaySee you in Barcelona!Quick links for registration [...]



Win an expo pass for Mobile World Congress courtesy of Trustonic!

2017-02-21T15:29:28.685+00:00

Our lovely friends at Trustonic have FIVE free tickets to give away to this year's Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. Each ticket allows access to the exhibition and special seminars only for the full four days of MWC. This ticket does not give access to any of the conference sessions but it can be upgraded for an additional cost when you register.You can enter the competition here.About TrustonicTrustonic is a leading player in mobile device and application security. Almost a billion devices have Trustonic security embedded at the manufacturing stage, providing smart devices with an embedded root of trust and a hardware-protected environment for secure storage and processing. Trustonic also offer application-level security across multiple platforms, including smartphone (iOS and Android) and IoT. Trustonic is exhibiting at this year's MWC. Find them in Hall 6 - 6140.Contest rules and instructionsContestants enter by simply leaving their name and contact details on this entry form and answering a simple question about Trustonic. There is no charge to enter the competition.At the end of the contest period five (5) random winners will be selected to each receive one (1) ticket to attend Mobile World Congress Exhibition on Monday February 27 to Thursday 2 March 2017.The contest will run from Tuesday 21 February 2017, 15:00 GMT until Thursday 23 February 2017, 15:00 GMT. Winners will be notified by email or telephone.This contest is open only to entrants who are 18 years of age or older at time of entry. Employees, consultants, officers and directors of the Sponsor, their parents, affiliates and subsidiaries, participating advertising and Contest agencies and prize suppliers (and members of their immediate family and/or those living in the same of household of each) are ineligible.Good luck! [...]



76 Mobile Predictions for 2017

2017-01-09T15:43:41.938+00:00

It's a New Year and that means predictions will be coming out of the woodwork wherever you look. The mobile sector is no exception and I took part this year to add my 2p to this report from Tune '76 Mobile Predictions for 2017'.I'm afraid my response wasn't terribly imaginative compared with the others, but here it is:The first point "Mobile usage is ubiquitous in Western markets" refers to the point that 'mobile' is a given. If your site doesn't work on mobile, then you're doing more than missing a trick, you're missing out on traffic, sales and brand equity. Mobile is truly the centre of a large part of our digital lives. The time we spend grazing content, playing games, chatting with friends, taking and sharing photos, is largely done on a mobile device in the Western markets that I'm familiar with.My second point, "The big platforms will get bigger. Out of the big four – GAFA (Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon), Apple may suffer, but only a little," is an observation that just as the rich seem to get richer, the largest organisations get larger and richer too. And in the mobile world, and particularly Western markets, GAFA are the big winners. I don't see them losing momentum in the near future. Of the four, I think Apple may stumble a bit in comparison to its glory years of late. But they have so much money in the bank, they'll work it out in the end, I'm sure. For other, more erudite predictions, check out the rest of the list here. [...]



47% of jobs will disappear in the next 25 years according to Oxford University

2017-01-09T15:36:09.612+00:00

Having spent some time researching the impact of new technologies on the work we do in the last couple of years, there is much in this article from BigThink that resonates.We will, no doubt, lose jobs. Others will replace them but not at the same rate as the loss, I suspect.I believe blue collar workers will fare better. That workforce has always had to adapt and is likely better prepared for change than their white collar counterparts.Those working in legal services, accountancy, medicine will all see their jobs change drastically as more and more aspects of their jobs are taken over by software. Computers are already better at diagnosing cancer, standard contracts can be dealt with by a virtual lawyer. Even music for adverts can be written effectively by software and much faster and much cheaper than a human musician. So even the creative industries aren't necessarily safe.  Companies are on a constant mission to create efficiencies and to save money so they can create the most value for their shareholders. They wouldn't be doing their job properly if they weren't.In the short term, robots and software will be colleagues rather than a total replacement and that will present its challenges. What will your relationship be with your robot co-worker, for example? For some this will be a blessing as it means less human interaction. (Many of my friends prefer online shopping for this reason). For others, a curse as they miss having people around them for company. I already have friends who freely admit they have a relationship with Amazon Echo's Alexa and if you haven't watched the film, Her, you should! It is entirely possible to have a relationship with a robot. On my visit to San Francisco last year, I found myself talking to a house robot as if it were a pet cat. Turns out it was Kuri and it has been a hit at this year's CES.Longer term, the picture probably doesn't look as rosy. Regardless, change is afoot. That means we need to learn adaptability, flexibility and how to share the resources we have without demonising 'the poor' or putting students into debt learning things that will be obsolete by the time they graduate. It's a difficult topic to address as it impacts absolutely everything from what infrastructure we need, how we find meaning in life and what we do with our time. Lots to think about as this future gets ever nearer. [...]