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What you might read about 2010 in 12 to 24 months

After about a decade of discussion and failed initiatives the "online identity" issue was finally solved when Microsoft bought Twitter. Since then 80% of the internet population uses their Twitter-name to log on to their e-mail, the online version of Microsoft Office and all other websites based on Microsoft technology. "@myname" has become the new universal way to identify people, and now we can use online banking applications with it, consult healthcare data and get access the popular events such as the MTV awards.

Shortly thereafter Microsoft rolled out the first real behaviour-based promotion campaign for Axe, the popular deodorant by Unilever. A sharp target group was defined: single heterosexual males aged between 16 and 32 with an average household income of +- 32% around the median of the their country. Those who live within a 50 kilometer radius of a shop that carries Axe in their assortment were by means of Twitter involved in the biggest sampling action ever. The campaign was a huge success, 100 million consumers were thrilled and had themselves spoiled by Axe.

Shortly after the campaign went live, President Obama expressed his concern about the privacy aspects of these new marketing techniques. To avoid that Microsoft would abuse their newly acquired power, they were forced to sell 25% of their shares at a reduced price to the United Nations, which means they acquire total control over the company.

In the meantime a once leading worldwide media group has sold the majority of their shares to Microsoft in an ultimate attempt to avoid bankruptcy. All publications were migrated to a new digital media-store that is only accessible through Windows-based tablet computers and e-readers.

Facebook continued their succes and were the only real online power standing up to the Microsoft-Twitter tandem. But success took its toll. The company was forced to open up their databases to the European Union after a terrorist attack whereby European President Herman Van Rompuy only just escaped from death. The "European Defence Agency" invested in startup company Attentio and uses their technology to permanently monitor potentially dangerous activities on Facebook.

Now that privacy online seems to have totally disappeared, the geek-community is looking for ways to stay in contact online but out of sight of Big Brother. Read more about the result of this quest in upcoming articles ...

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Macbook + iPhone + Steve Ballmer + Flickr = FUN

Last week Jo Caudron presented at a Microsoft seminar, and his Macbook remained on stage when Steve Ballmer made his presentation. Frederik Temmermans made picture with his iPhone and put it up on Flickr ... Viewed 216,970 times and counting :)

Check out the comments on Flickr ...

By the way, I saw Steve Ballmer too in Louvain La Neuve (the afternoon session), and I really like the guy. A big gorilla yes, but with loads of drive and a passionate speaker. I never got to asking my question but I do wonder whether Microsoft will manage to be successful in the advertising world (which is one of the three pillars of their strategy). After all they are a software company in the first place (quote from Steve Ballmer), and advertising is all about people.

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Mix07 - Rounding up day 1

The afternoon sessions were a mixture of demo's, presentations and discussions. The most remarkable event (which I missed as Jo and I were writing a press release about "ONE Agency launching a stunning new Radio player for VRT" near the swimming pool) was Dave Winer fundamentally disagreeing with David Hachez after he misunderstood his remark. David thinks (and I agree) thinks there should be an easy way to switch between podcasts while listening (some kind of hyperlinks) but Dave though he wanted to listen to two podcasts at the same time. A clash between generations ... is Dave Winer a digital immigrant after all? (isn't everybody who is over 21 of age).

In the evening the Belgian crowd went out for "MEAT", huge steaks at Morton's Steakhouse. I ate the best steak ever in my life (see picture)! It was a lot of fun once again, with loads of pictures being taken. There are a number of group pictures but I did not bring my camera so to the guys who made pictures >> send them, post them, comment them, Flickr them, whatever.

And the phone ... it's getting better by the minute. All the pictures here were taken with the Blackjack. I finally decided to do the sync-ing through "The Missing Sync" and that seems to work quite OK. Although some items (particularly the ones for which I aborted the sync) have switched to "Idle" mode which means I can't use that item anymore. And the pictures synced well until a few minutes ago :( But the phone itself ... it's a beauty. If you have a Windows Mobile 5 phone you should check out the Live Search client. It actually works (e.g. Find a strip club near the hotel (theoretical example) > show satelite pic and map > get directions including traffic info.

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Mix07 - Opening Keynote: Silverlight

The day started with Ray Ozzy (Chef Software Archichtect) and his friends launching Silverlight, Microsoft's alternative for flash.

If you want know all about Silverlight, there's loads of info online.

What remember is that it's cross browser/cross platform from day one. Proof is that I installed the plugin for Firefox on my Mac during the speech and it works seamlessly. Although I must say the install process is a bit too complicated (download, extract, install, restart browser).
Second is the attention they give to video. Extremely high quality streaming (up to HD), watching video sync-ed with friends over the web and chatting about it, uploading user generated movies (out of the box), etc. Looks like a strong competitor for Flash media server.

Go download the plugin (beta):
Check out some demo's (although they do not seem to work, maybe due to low bandwidth in the room here): (works, but not really spectacular) (THIS ONE YOU WANT TO SEE) (doesn't work) (doesn't work)


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Mix07 - Pre conference day

(Chris Hoet in action)
Pre-conference here in Las Vegas, an easy day with some introductory sessions in the morning and I chose sports for the afternoon. So we learned some baseball basics and had fun carting.

First Highlight of the day:

We all (well, I guess the EMEA crowd) got a cell phone (Samsung Blackjack, a Blackberry lookalike) with the Agenda for the coming days. Cool! So I spent every minute in between sport activities configuring the phone. It's windows mobile and I'm getting the hang of it already. Chris pointed me towards Windows Live search, we installed it and indeed it has amazing possibilities. Withing a minute I had an map + satellite picture on my screen of the hotel and it's surroundings.
I also installed the Gmail client but it doesn't seem to connect with Gmail.

Second (and even bigger) highlight is a surprise Blog dinner with Dave Winer. I wonder what this is going to be like. On one hand I'm thrilled to meet this celebrity of modern time media in real life. But on the other hand I wonder what I will get out of it that may mean something to my customers and the things I'm working on daily.
Anyway, you can expect a report here (need to get a shower now).

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Going to MIX07 and Switching to Vista on my MacBook

Tomorrow I'm heading for Las Vegas for Mix07, together with my colleague Jo. We were invited by Microsoft in Belgium (but we pay part ourselves) and of course we're very excited. I just tried to make sense of the programme but I lost my login somewhere along the way,so the sophisticated conference planner is not an option. Still, here's a list of keynotes and speeches I'l looking forward to:

Ray Ozzie, Chief Software Architect, Microsoft Corporation
Robert Bach, President, Entertainment and Devices Division, Microsoft Corporation
Scott Guthrie, General Manager, Microsoft Corporation
Michael Arrington, TechCrunch (YES, I'm a fan of Mike!)

Breakout sessions (way too many):

"ZAP!, WHAM!, KAPOW!": Windows Presentation Foundation and the Next Generation of Online Comic Book Reading
Speaker(s): Nathan Dunlap - IdentityMine, Robby Ingebretsen - IdentityMine

Booyah! Designing and Developing Line-of-Business Applications That SIZZLE
Speaker(s): Nathan Dunlap - IdentityMine, Darren Laybourn - Microsoft, Josh Wagoner - IdentityMine

Broaden Your Market with Windows Live
Speaker(s): Paul Elliott - Microsoft, Keiji Kanazawa - Microsoft, Kitty Leung - Microsoft, Dave Nicholson - Zopa

Building a Real, Money-Making Business Application Using Microsoft Virtual Earth
Speaker(s): Matt Goyer - Redfin, John Pope - TripHub, Aric Weiker - Microsoft

Building Rich, Interactive E-commerce Applications Using ASP.NET and Silverlight
Speaker(s): Ori Gershony - Microsoft, Mark Townsend - Microsoft

Creating a Domain Communication Experience on Windows Live
Speaker(s): Arnold Blinn - Microsoft, Brian Goldstein - Microsoft, Duane J. Schau - Indiana University, Alan Walsh - Indiana University

Experience: A Star to Sail Your Ship By
Speaker(s): Jesse James Garrett - Adaptive Path

Fumbling towards AGENCY 2.0
Speaker(s): Clement Mok

Interactive Advertising on the Windows Media Center Platform
Speaker(s): Dan Poling - Microsoft, Matthew Rechs - Schematic

Making Money with RSS
Speaker(s): Walter VonKoch - Microsoft

Next Design 3.0, Making Sense of Design Now
Speaker(s): GK VanPatter - NextDesign Leadership Institute, Elizabeth Pastor - NextDesign Leadership Institute

The Art, Science, and Business of Killer Content Experiences
Speaker(s): Roger Black - Danilo Black, Kevin Gjerstad - Microsoft, Robert Larson - New York Times, Wayne Reuvers - LiveTech

The Emotion of Customer Experience
Speaker(s): Lou Carbone - Experience Engineering

Using Windows Live Services in Your Own Web Applications
Speaker(s): Brian Arbogast - Microsoft, Eddie Dombrower -, Mike Presz -

Windows Live Messenger: Show Me the Money
Speaker(s): Glenn Allison - Microsoft, Todd Biggs - Microsoft, Morrie Eisenberg - imtLabs, Imran Qureshi - imtLabs

I feel like preparing for a geek orgy. And yes it's all Microsoft, but I'm really interrested to hear from insiders in Microsoft what these guys are thinking of for the future.

But will I dear to enter Microsoft territory with a MacBook? Of course, but as a positive gesture to my hosts I'm switching to Windows Vista (on my MacBook via VMWare) for a week. As I'm doing a lot of my stuff online (see post about office tools), and as you can simply drag-and-drop files from one window to another, I don't see much trouble switching. And who knows, I may just switch forever ;)

Proof of my switch is in the image above, notice also the designer laptop-stand I made for my home office. The stylish white box contains all connections, adapters, cables, etc. Keeps my desk clean and my laptop ergonomically placed in front of me.

Last promise (need to go prepare my suitcase): I'll blog frequently about my MIX07 so you can all enjoy with me.

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Praga Khan & Windows Vista in Second Life

Life (especially health) has been a bit hard on me the last few days, but here I'm back with some great news.

We (ONE Agency) are taking care of the streaming in Second Life of the concert of Praga Khan at the occasion of the launch of Windows Vista. Work has been going on for some time and it's been an interesting collaboration with the PR Agency and Microsoft (more specifically the unbeatable Miel).

We now have screens ready in multiple locations (thanks to Miel's many inside contacts) and we're gearing up the technology to be able to host up to 2000 viewers in Second Life only. The ambition is to go over 300, but we want to make sure that whatever happens, we're ready to accommodate all interested viewers.

So, get your avatar ready and be there on Tuesday January 30th at one of the locations:
Strawberry Estate (including a real virtual atomium!)
and probably also on Crayonville Island.
For a full list of locations, check out the panels in Second Life.



Shel Israel & Rick Segal in Brussels

The Belgian Microsoft crowd (especially Kris) was once again so nice to bring together a number of bloggers, this time to meet Shel Israel (together with Robert Scoble author of "Naked Conversations") and Rick Segal (a blogging VC from Canada). I suggest you go buy and read the book yourself, it's a pleasant read and full of useful information.

Here are some highlights/quotes I noted:

- Get ready for Shel's next book: "Global Neighbourhoods", it's got to do with politics I think.

- "In the blogosphere you get passionate response, because it are the passionate people that blog."

- Second Life:
Rick sees "Second Life" mainly as an entertainment platform where people can escape from the real world and enjoy games, sex, gambling, etc. I'd like to add music and video to that list. Interesting to note is Starwood's initiative to build a virtual hotel in Second Life. The commercial rationale is simple: soon every hotel site will have link to it's Second Life version for you to choose the room you want. However, in general Rick does not see much of a long term advertising effect from Second Life. One more notable initiative he talked about was somebody using Second Life as a therapy for kids with autism.

- Blogs, sites, forums:
Very relevant quotes from Shel about tools: "The revolution is in the conversation, not in the tool." and "It's not about what we use, but about what we say."
... much clearer is difficult :)

- Mainstream media (MSN) versus blogs:
Traditional mainstream media can not cater to the individual interests of people. Every individual has a passion he or she wants to talk about and people want to be emotionally attached to news. So the conclusion is obvious ...

- Companies afraid to allow blogging:
Microsoft has proved that it can survive blogs without a formal policy, even better, they gained a lot from it. But most (all) companies are afraid to let their employees blog. What rules do we need? Companies are responsible for their values, products, offering, ethics, etc. Simply askbloggers to user their common sense, and if you make up some rules, have them made by people already blogging. DON'T LET THE LEGAL GUYS IN THE ROOM!

- Should all companies start a blog?
Blogging is not always the right channel, think before you start. Don't just do blogs, but ask yourself (or your customer) the right questions first: "What do you want to do?", "What is your objective", "Are you prepared to listen", etc. Then decide how to join the conversation. It could be a blog, it could be that you just listen and respond through comments when relevant.

But remember ... The conversations are already going on, so you'd better join it!

Evert-Jan from Duval-Guillaume taped the whole conversation, if we get it on line somewhere I'll post a link to it later.



Testing Microsoft's answer to YouTube

Microsoft (the MSN part) is testing Soapbox, a YouTube like video site. It seems to work quite fine, except for some 'stops' when looking at a video (but maybe that's my bandwidth falling short). The navigation is more intuitive then YouTube but it looks like it was designed 10 years ago, AND it has the horrible MSN-blue background ... yuck.

Access is invitation-only at this point, but syndicating movies seems to work OK. This YouTube spoof should be appropriate for the occasion:
Video: YouTube Stoners