A Bit of Digital Inspiration

It is a great time to be alive if you love technology.  In fact it is a great time to be alive even if you don’t love technology because the folks that do love it keep pushing the envelope which means the early and late majority get to revel in the benefits.

Innovation and user-centric design are pervading business.  Entrepreneurs are spinning visions of new solutions.  The media realizes tech innovation stories bring viewers.

And everyone is producing fantastic videos to showcase what could be next.

Here is a quick selection of amazing videos as examples.

Corning – A Day Made of Glass 2

The first A Day Made of Glass was a fantastic look at the future of display technology back in 2011.  It has had more then 25m views which definitely demonstrates the power of visionary content.  Even though Corning has gone more product-centric since, the sequel is worth viewing if you missed it because it puts technology into daily life — like the best science fiction.


Tesla – Wireless Charging

Tesla is of course synonymous with innovation but wireless charging for automobiles?  This is fantastic in the original definition of the word.

Kickstarter Entrepreneurs – Kerv Payment Ring

Another great source of inspiration are the entrepreneurs pitching ideas on Kickstarter or other crowdfunding sites.  Consider this payment ring from the UK.  Kerv hit its kick starter goal and is working through production.


Microsoft Halolens 

And of course no post about Digital Living can be complete without considering augmented and virtual reality.  Having been to Redmond a year ago to do a number of these demos, it is impressive and mind reeling to consider how it can be applied.


Catharine Taylor – Social Media Insider’s last column

Wow, The Social Media Insider retires!  It is hard to believe we worked together in 1999 at Organic but I remember it.

This column does a great job of putting all of that time in perspective.  Incredible to think that in just 2008 MySpace was still the largest social network….

Congratulations on 6 years of a great column!



The Social Media Insider Says Goodbye

Let’s put it right out there: After close to eight years and almost 400 columns, the Social Media Insider is calling it quits, at least for now. Wow, seeing that in writing seems strange. But, as practically anyone alive knows, every now and then it’s time to shake things up, and now is that time for me.Even though I’ve been preparing to write this last column for about a month, what to do with it has been a head-scratcher. So this morning, I did what many a tapped-out columnist, at a loss for more words, would do: I went back to the beginning, my very first Social Media Insider column, written on Feb. 20, 2008.

To put that time in perspective, MySpace was still the biggest social network, though clearly waning, Facebook was still the young upstart with 100 million users; today it has about 1.4 billion. Twitter was just under two years old, with about one million users; today the company reports 284 million monthly active users. Instagram? It would be more than two years until its first photo was uploaded, by co-founder Kevin Systrom.

More –


Did Mobile Video Kill the TV Star? MWC 2014 Panel

Had the opportunity to speak at the Mobile Media Summit at Mobile World Congress event in Barcelona.  It was a fun panel with some good questions from the audience.  I wrote up a more glib review of it for JWT on our blog, below.

Did Mobile Video Kill the TV Star?

March 3, 2014 • by 


John Baker has worked in interactive marketing for almost 20 years. He is now the President of dotJWT, a global program dedicated to driving digital growth for companies acquired under the JWT umbrella.

Earlier this week I was asked to speak on a Mobile Media Summit panel at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

The subject was Did Mobile Video Kill the TV Star?

No question the Buggles had it right: Video Killed the Radio Star. When television emerged as the dominant broadcast medium in the 1950s,the radio guys were fighting with one arm tied behind their back.You need a hell of a voice to enrapture people when they are being seduced by super charismatic people working full screen video with bright smiles and perfectly timed hair flicks.

But mobile video? With its smaller screen and distracted audience? Can mobile video take down the Kardashians, Jeremy Clarkson and Yang Mi?

 – See more at: JWT.com/blog

Agile Marketing – at 10,000 feet!

Love this.  In the lounge I put some rough notes I had taken with Evernote onto a Google Doc and sent an email to Steph who is a writer.

45 minutes later at 10,000 I opened Google Drive on my iPad and opened the doc to do a few more edits.  10 mintues after that the doc started to go wild as Stephanie stepped in and worked her magic.  So much fun.

Oh, Microsoft…



Really, if you wonder why people get frustrated and stop using your services, consider how often you discontinue them.  As a company you are showing the attention span of a gnat amped up on Jolt cola.

First it was Live Sync turning into Windows Live Mesh and now SkyDrive.  Really?   Take a look at this Wikipedia entry and the opening line says it all.  And this all happened in about 5 years?

Windows Live Mesh (formerly known as Live MeshWindows Live Sync, and Windows Live FolderShare)[2] was a free-to-use Internet-based file synchronization application by Microsoft designed to allow files and folders between two or more computers be in sync with each other on Windows (Vista and later) and Mac OS X (v. 10.5 Leopard and later, Intel processors only) computers or the Web via SkyDrive.[3] Windows Live Mesh also enabled remote desktop access via the Internet.

Windows Live Mesh was part of the Windows Live Essentials 2011 suite of software. However this application has been replaced by SkyDrive for Windows application in Windows Essentials 2011


I love entrepreneurship and being able to build and launch new services, but I’d swear I heard somewhere that brands require continuity and stability…


WPP Stream – An Amazing Unconference

Just came back from WPP Stream 2012 and am in the process of writing it up for distribution inside JWT.  

How do you write up an unconference?

Mark Read wrote it up this way for the Huffington Post.  And in the piece he calls out some of the items that make the event so strong.  

In fact it is the culture it has built and the structure it has developed that work together intrinsicly.  

The culture at Stream is one of participation and ideas.  Given that everyone is from different organizations, how people react and engage is based on the thinking not the titles.  The fast running schedule reminds everyone speed is important and changes up the day from full conference events in the Big Top and smaller group activities, and they all occur with the constant backdrop of the bar for coffee or drinks.  Free standing demonstrations of new technology and games provide additional opportunities for serendipidous meetings.

How do the events drive collaboration and demonstrate digital culture?

  • Big Boards – The Big Boards are the schedule of Discussions that occur in smaller meeting spaces throughout the conference.  The Discussions are proposed by the attendees and put up on the boards as soon as they are opened.  Because there are a lot of Discussions, this also pushes leaders to promote their events to get attendance.
  • 30 Second’s of Promotion – As part of the opening session, everyone that wants to lead a Discussion is given 30 seconds to pitch it to the full audience.  Like the digital economy this adds the sense that speed and succintness is as critical as standing out as you promote your idea.
  • Midnight Cooking Madness – The unspoken element of the conference is that in effect it runs from 8 am to 2 am.  Asking people to contribute a recipe from their country or family, and asking them to “serve” it to the full conference in a trade show environment brings out personalities, increases opportunites for small interactions and ensures the bar stays open until 2 am.
  • Ignite – The opportunity to talk about any subject is classically TED.  Adding Tim O’Reilley’s mechanic of a set number of slides on a timed rotation brings discipline and rhythem.  15 slides, 15 seconds a slide equals 4 minutes per presenter which even with transition time makes 10 ideas in a hour easy. Buzz Feeds Ignite Presentations.
  • Gadgethon – Technology is critical to digital culture, and as a proxy, gadgets are as well.  Two minutes, open session, demonstrate whatever you find interesting.
  • The Pitch – Clearly nothing drives marketers like a competition around ideas.  Allowing ad hoc teams to form up drives collaboration, new connections and generates solid ideas for charitable causes. 

Overall the key themes that come out are Connections between people that don’t work together as frequently, a focus on Ideas based in strong points of view, and respect that if asked, peopel will Promote themselves in a public forum.  These are all fundementally digital concepts that have been carried on since the Clue Train Manifesto and before.  

The gadgets are interesting but they change. The discussions are critical but the content is trendy.  What makes the conference so strong is the culture of the conference is the culture of digital start-ups across the globe.

Product Extension – Muppet Band-aid AR App

With digital technology there are lots of times when an idea is strong enough that it can be a real product extension, not just a piece of marketing. 

At JWT New York, the team has worked with Band-aid for years, and has a team that is focused on mobile technololgy.  Put the two together — and a few calls to Disney — and you get a new way to build on an existing partnership.

Now the question is can we take this to be an “enterprise solution” with all of the extensions in advertising, retail and the full digital eco-system?



Band-Aids and Muppets Aim to Soothe Child’s Scrapes



SOME leading brands of wound treatments were themselves bloodied by the economic slump, as consumers switched to cheaper store brands.

The Band-Aid Magic Vision app makes Kermit appear to emerge from a Muppets Band-Aid to serenade and console an injured child.

Store brands accounted for 39.4 percent share of the domestic market in adhesive bandages, gauze and first-aid tape in the 52 weeks that ended April 15, a gain of 2.2 percent from the year before, according to the SymphonyIRI Group, a market research firm.

Over the same period, the market share of Johnson & Johnson, with its Band-Aid brand adhesive strips and Johnson & Johnson brand gauze and tape, slipped 2.2 points, to 45 percent. (Band-Aid has about a 33 percent share, and the J.& J. brand has the remaining 12 percent.)

Because adhesive bandages are more popular in households with accident-prone children, Band-Aid has long licensed such characters as Barbie and Spider-Man to appeal to youngsters. Now the brand is introducing a marketing effort tied to Muppets characters and centered on that most charged of moments: when children have just skinned knees or elbows.

Band-Aid Magic Vision, a free app for iPhones and iPads, is linked to Muppets Band-Aids that already are widely available.

– More at NYTimes.com –

Digital Culture – death to generic biz speak

One of the topics we are constantly discussing is making advertising more authentic. A real POV, a big ideal, a non-manufactured reason for a brand or a company to talk sincerely to its customers.

The same challenge is there for managers. If the digital culture has developed a universal bullshit detector for advertising, we apply it everywhere. And the top place is management memos. When you create these communications working with comms folks, lawyers and 15 managers with 15 opinions, it is easy to understand why the human tone is lost, but the reality is the lack of damage by being bland and mundane is actually more damaging.

Look at the new CEO of Yahoo’s first global communication below. It is identikit corp speak and shows once again how far yahoo has come from an owner managed, entrepreneurial venture like Virgin or Facebook.


Thank you for all of the feedback, support, and comments since our all-hands meetings in Sunnyvale on Monday and NYC on Wednesday. I’m fired up and I hope you are too. I believe in the power of what we’re doing. We have an incredibly talented team, unparalleled strengths in key areas and most importantly, I see the purple pride building everywhere. Let’s move forward quickly with conviction and confidence.

We have a lot to do. The most pressing thing I heard from you is the desire to clearly define our vision and strategy. I promise you we will be transparent and plan to articulate this in the coming weeks. Right now, we’re identifying the most critical priorities and initiatives, clarifying the scope and charter of teams, ensuring we’re positioned to build on successes quickly and effectively, and focusing on Q2.

An new form of dissent: SOPA

If you think of all of the types of civil dissent — marches, protests, sit-ins, occupies — this one is a new one for the mix.   Given the mess of a piece of legislation going through Congress, it is great to see the tech and internet industry mobilize a bit.

Self induced denial of service?

It is clearly effective since every major media outlet has picked up the story and generally put in on page 1, err, the homepage, err, the top of their feed.  Given how easy it is to contact your members of congress online, it isn’t surprising a change to Tumbler resulted in 80,000 calls to representatives.  Be interesting to see wikipedia’s response rates.

Of course as a reader of Cory Doctorow and supporter of the Electronic Freedom Foundation, it has to be said the issue is a complicated on.  Forcing DNS edits, allowing persecution of host sites and removing of links definitely seems like classic bad work in Congress.

And just at a time when the industry is making buying videos and magazines easy enough to provide real revenue and the ad industry is getting organized to turn the digital pennies everyone is complaining about into digital dollars that can support publishers as well as independent artists.



What happens if you take a file system and add time as a dimension?


I’ve just been reading an article in the WSJ about David Gelernter, a professor at Yale that published a book called “Mirror Worlds” in 1991.  In it he talks about lifecasting, which is effectively what happens when a series of objects are organized according to time.  As the article points out:

A lifestream is a way of organizing digital objects—photos, emails, documents, Web links, music—in a time-ordered series. A timeline, in essence, that extends into the past but also the future (with appointments, to-do lists, etc.). Facebook, with its “wall” constantly updated with postings by you and your friends, is a lifestream. Twitter’s feed is a lifestream. “Chatter,” developed by Salesforce.com for internal use by client companies, is a lifestream.

And this of course has implications for the future:

Web browsers will become stream browsers. Users will become comfortably accustomed to tracking and manipulating their digital objects as streams rather than as files in a file system.

There is no question being rid of the “file system” wouldn’t be a such a bad thing, but it will require people to give up on their property instinct. 

Think about music, although it developed through live music — ie “experiences” — it shifted to owning albums and CDs.  Music collections defined people.  Of course radio was available and what station you listened to also showed your style, the real focus was the collection.  The act of finding the music, buying it, listening to and sharing albums, and displaying it. 

With “personalized radio stations” and services like Spotify that focus shifts to curated playlists instead of collections.  Aside from the impact on music stores, it actually shifts how people think about ownership.  People are asked to revel in the demonstration of skill of putting together a great playlist of say 1920s early jazz, but there is no property there.  It is the shift from being an art collector to being an art curator.

Now of course being released of the burden of managing harddrives full of photos, documents and presentations would probably be welcome.  And if you take the concept to objects we all lease our cars, rent our houses and replace the random objects we lug around with us with temporary displays that demonstrate our personality at the moment. 

All nice but don’t we have 3,000 years of being taught the importance of property ownership?