By Amazee Labs 15th April 2011 Events

The second day of re:publica XI started of with an interesting overview over "The Internet of Elsewhere" by Cyrus Farivar. He talked about the state of the Internet in various nations like South Korea (technically highly developed, with a broadband penetration of over 90 per cent), Senegal as an example of an emerging African nation on the Web, Estonia as a very highly developed European country with Internet readily available in public space and Iran (with a lot of monitoring, censorship and deception, as one might have expected).

Zahi Alawi, of Deutsche Welle radio, then spoke about the "Facebook Revolution". A lot of what he recounted has been heard before: That at first the rulers in Arabian countries did see Social Media sites like Facebook merely as a dating site and not as politically dangerous, for example. Or that when the Internet was shut down in Egypt, the TV stations (namely Al Arabiya and Al Jazeera) took over. Alawi: "The people took to the streets even without the Internet. The Internet was merely a place for exchange and for the transmittance of information." Nevertheless, the revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt can in his eyes be called a "Digital Revolution".

I spent the rest of the day in a couple of fun sessions, the first being a discussion panel about "historic" shitstorms and the pondering about the question if shitstorms can ever achieve something productive. After lunch, Gunter Dueck spoke about "The Internet as an OS for society", a hugely funny, witty and intelligent talk about the shift from pure knowledge to actual skills which define one's position in society. You can watch his presentation (minus the first few minutes) in German on Youtube.

After a presentation by the Awesome Foundation Berlin had to be cancelled due to their no-show, we from the Awesome Zurich chapter got a chance to fill the gap – we did a short impromptu discussion round about sponsoring awesomeness. The day was rounded off by probably the funniest panel of this year's re:publica, a wild, alcohol-fuelled rumpus by Artur and Hendrik of German electro trash label Audiolith about the music business. Nonsensical bulldung, but in a very funny way.

Image: re:publica 2011, CC (More pictures can be seen here and here.)

By Amazee Labs 13th April 2011 Events, Fun

I am back in Berlin for the re:publica XI conference, for another round of exciting exchange of ideas and, networking with other Webster mates.

This year, it seems that there is a strong focus on political and societal shifts induced by Digital Media. After a keynote on Design Thinking (Design is too important to leave it to Designers!) which called for a strong focus on a human(istic), sensible interaction design, the sessions I saw were very much about what happened in the Arab World over the last months and how citizen-made media has changed the game of news broadcasting.

Gabriella Coleman of the NYU retraced Anonymus' origins on the 4Chan network and stressed that over the years there has been a shift from a massive trolling movement ("The offensive Internet") to a serious challenger of what the activists behind Anonymous perceive as evil institutions.

Another interesting panel entitled "Modern revolutions are digital revolutions" discussed the shifts in the Arab World and tried to draw parallels to civil society movements towards political change in Sub-Sahara Africa. Ludger Schadomsky of Deutsche Welle argued that Social Media's role in the Arab revolution(s) must not be overemphasized, as Al Jazeera has probably played a more pivotal role. Hence, traditional media (as well as telecommunications providers) will still be a target of dictatorial governments when it comes to exercising control over communications channels. – Also the panelists argued that there is still a pivotal lack of civil society in Sub-Sahara African countries that prevents widespread, sustainable political change towards more democracy.

Solana Larsen of Global Voices then spoke about media consumption and how mass media fails to cover developments in world politics that are happening in non-Western countries time and again. Global Voices tries to keep track of things happening in the regions of the World which are not regularly highlighted by global news coverage. For example, Global Voices bloggers from the respective regions have writing about the developments in Tunisia or the Ivory Coast, long before mainstream media have picked up on the events unfolding. Next up, according to Solana is Gabon.

Tomorrow, more of the same.

Image by re:publica 2011, CC

By Amazee Labs 14th March 2011 Events, Business

180 corporate reps and PR pros gathered at tonight's event on "Social Media in Switzerland", hosted by Zurich Financial Services. Barbara Kunert presented the outcome of her master thesis, followed by a lively panel discussion on corporate use of Social Media, moderated by @marcelbernet. The summary goes:

54% of the Swiss companies monitor the web. The insecurities with regard to the use of Social Media are gigantomanic. Only a minority of the interviewed organizations has a Social Media Strategy, not to mention the use of Social Media. If yes, Facebook is trump. Compared, Twitter still carves out a miserable existence, despite its better suitability for professional, quality-oriented communication. Only 11.1% of the corporate and PR representatives in the hall declared Twitter relevant for their daily jobs (again, I'm writing about an event of a PR association!).

Monica Glisenti, Head Corporate Communications at Migros, seemed to be the most battle-hardened participant in the panel: Migros is aware of the unstoppable paradigm shift in corporate communications ("Es duet so oder so."). When it comes to their battle fields, it mostly is the diffuse, low-level interaction they have to get involved in (flames, blames, social mobbing, you name it). According to Monica Glisenti, her team members require "a new emotional robustness".

Now, off to the buffet. Before I leave you: Recommended by Barbara Kunert: Kodak's Social Media tips

By Amazee Labs 9th March 2011 Events

This week, the Info Society Days 2011 are taking place at the Expo in Bern. Gregory and I have visited on Monday (since Bern is only an hour from Zurich by train), he went back today. The Info Society Days discuss issues relating to the Internet and digital media in general, in three forums: eEconomy, eGovernment and eHealth. While the first only took up one day (Monday), there are two days each reserved for the latter two.

I have blogged about the eEconomy forum for the organizers of the Info Society Days on Monday, you can read my full blog post (in German) here. Gregory has presented in one of the "Solutions" sessions on Monday afternoon and is again taking the stage as I write this. His topic is Social Media in enterprises as well as in public administration – I'll see to it that you can view his presentations here.

So, from my experience on Monday, hot topics in Switzerland at the moment seem to be smart mobile devices (for mobile Internet access), Cloud Computing and Social Media. From what we've understood at Amazee Labs in dealing with Swiss enterprises and public administration alike over the past months and years, there is still a lot to be done in this country. People are eager to learn and to understand, but they are very hesitant to take the lead. This also reflected during the eEconomy forum on Monday.

One of the more interesting initiatives presented in Bern is the eEconomy Board, set up by a couple of large corporations as well as public institutions. Trying to read the audience's sentiments, I felt like there is massive potential in Switzerland to turn the country into one of the World's leading nations in embracing digital possibilities, but nobody really wants to make the first move and take the risk of failing.

As for the conference itself, it is worthwhile checking out, but there are a few things which can be improved: Even though tickets ranging from almost 500 to close to 700 Swiss Francs are relatively affordable in comparison to other professional conferences, it is way to expensive for the regular digital geek. Why not introduce some "blogger tickets" at a rate of 100 to 150 CHF? Also, there needs to be free accessible WiFi next year! Although I have been blogging and twittering from the conference and others are also doing so for the rest of the week, I feel like the Info Society Days could be pushed a little further via Social Media. Maybe we'll be able to help the organizers with this in 2012. Because the content of the conference really deserves to be acknowledged!

(Image by Daniel Fuchs.)

By Amazee Labs 21st February 2011 Events

Saturday evening, we are all settling into the "Brasserie" at the Basel train station – another StartupCamp Switzerland (SCS11) is history. Another year of planning for the Camp team, another day of intense workshops, presentations and of course, networking.

So, how was it? Maye I'll give you the numbers first: About 160 attendees made it to Basel's University of Applied Science, who have hosted the Camp for the third year in a row; they saw 20 presentations, workshops and discussions, ate 200 muffins and cupcakes (and lots more) for lunch and one lucky Upstart (who could it be but our Michael?) won an iPad, sponsored by one of the Camp's Gold sponsors, IPS. Oh, and speaking of food: There has been a lot of talk of the SCS11 becoming a Gourmet Camp, with Rahel's Sweet Temptations' Muffins, local catering for lunch, Traktor organic smoothies, mySwissChocolate's new hot chocolate drinks and myMuesli's breakfast cereals. Oh yes, we weren't exactly starving.

Talking now about this past Saturday, everybody in the office agrees that this year probably saw the best quality in presentations so far. Take the "Dirty Tricks" session for example. Gregory observed:

"The session included the mean repertoire of borderline business activities, e.g. buying up thematically related Facebook groups and bombarding the members with your content (rumor has it that one group of 100'000 users went for 100$) or doing constant, but cheap usability testing using Amazon's mechanical turk. The session concluded with the election of the dirtiest entrepreneur in the room. In comparison Amazee felt like an angel."

Gregory also saw our CTO's photography introduction:

"Michael gave an intro in how to use a DSLR camera; from aperture to ISO and catching the emotions to to totally unconventional methods to take photographs - we did it all in 45 minutes!"

I myself attended a discussion panel with our Dania, Marc Bernegger of Amiando, Dominik Grolimund of Wuala, Amir Suissa of DeinDeal and Myke Naef of Doodle talking about growing pains of a Startup. Naturally the panel focussed on human resources and who to hire when and why and when and who to fire. Although this kind of discussion always makes me feel kind of uneasy, it was interesting to see how the debatees talked about their insights openly. It seems that there is no Golden Rule for hiring (or firing), but it also became quite apparent that Startups do encounter similar problems. In my eyes, Dania did a really good job by insisting on the human/philanthropic aspects of keeping a small team closely knit.

My personal highlight (and no doubt a lot of others' highlight) was the drawing workshop of Roland Stahel of Echt Praktisch. He does illustrations and is convinced that it is oftentimes better to visualize than to drown in words. And he says it's okay if you can't draw. That established, he gave out paper and pens and everybody got down to it. It was a fun presentation with even funner drawing action. Well played, Roland!

In one of the last sessions, I presented my opinions on Social Media and Community Management (for Startups). Others will have to talk about this, but you can see my presentation below.

(I know the speaker notes don't show, I'm working on it.)

If you want to reread the Twitter timeline for SCS11, please click here. Pictures of the event are up in the Camp's flickr pool – if you are on flickr and have uploaded images, please drop them there, also. I haven't come across too many reviews yet, here is one from Clemens aka Hofrat (in German). Lukas Fischer of Netnode has uploaded his presentation about the Lean Startup (another popular session, it seemed) to Slideshare. Silvio Krauss of Basel's Startup Academy has also uploaded his presentation to Prezi.

How did you like it? What did you learn? Have you written about SCS11? Let us know in the comments! – And yes, of course there are hints that there might actually be a fourth StartupCamp in 2012. Stay tuned!

By Amazee Labs 2nd February 2011 Events, Business
Today the 7th Social Media Gipfel took place in Zurich with the topic "Tourismus im Mitmach-Web" (which roughly translates into "Tourism in Web 2.0"). It was the first event with the new Blogwerk CEO Andreas Von Gunten, who replaces replaced Peter Hogenkamp today.
Marcel Bernet, co-founder of Social Media Gipfel, welcomes the audience
The first speaker was Lukas Hammer, Head of Marketing and Sales with Lucerne Tourism. He pointed out that 90% of the customers follow the recommendation of friends and families. For that reason Social Media is the perfect tool to spread positive feedback of customers and make Lucerne more attractive to everyone.
Some facts:
  • ca. 9400 Fans on Facebook (site active since March 2010)
  • ca. 6000 of them in the USA
  • 70% women
  • Average age 45-54 years
The second speaker was Andreas Stöckle, General Manager Radisson blu Frankfurt. On the basis of some case studies he showed us how smoothly Social Media can be used to promote the services of a hotel. Since rating platforms seem to be important for customers, why not ask them to rate their stays on these sites (if they where happy)? And, if someone even writes a blog post about his/her stay in the hotel, leave a link to to this post on Facebook. This gives other Fans a more authentic impression.
Often Social Media is just a part of a campaign. Last year Radisson blu started the "Greatest Holiday in the World" campaign (not online anymore) with prizes of 365 stays. User had to describe why they should win this competition and find supporters for that on Facebook. The whole campaign was assisted by print products.
Some facts about the campaign:
  • more than 10'000 participant
  • more than 750'000 votes
  • Average age 45-64 years
Lessons learned:
  • different needs and reaction in different countries
  • period of time should be short
  • be aware of cheaters
Once more it was a very interesting event with many inside views and first hand information. I am looking forward to the next edition on 6 April.
By Amazee Labs 1st February 2011 Events

Last night another Web Monday took place in Zurich. With about 150 attendants it was the biggest Web Monday event to date and shortly had the hosts of Tamedia asking themselves where to seat so many people. But everything ended well, with (almost) everyone sitting down in the souterrain conference room in one of Switzerland's largest media houses.

After Christoph Tonini had kicked the round of presentations off with a short history of Tamedia and an introduction to their various fields of business (online is growing like mad!), Peter Schüpbach of FashionFriends talked about his company and how private sales can turn into a wow experience. – He frankly admitted to stealing the wow strategy from Zappos, but of course, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. And it seems to work for FashionFriends: They have loyal customers, a magnificent turnover rate, they sell out massive amounts of brand couture in minutes and they have employees who don't mind to engage in drinking once a week.

The last two presentations of the evening were held by Markus Schulte of Olmero, an enterprise in the contracting business. He introduced us to Renovero, a kind of online exchange for craftsmen services. Here you can check out prices for different services, with enhanced transparency (if I remember correctly. Correct me, if I'm wrong.). Last, but certainly not least was Hervé Flutto of cofundit.com, who presented his funding platform, on which founders and investors are brought together. For me, personally, this was the most convincing talk of the night, if you are in need of money for your young business, especially if you are looking for a gap funding, this might be a place to check out.

After the speakers and extensive question time we all were invited up to the Press Club on top of the Tamedia building, a rather exclusive treat, as we've been told. There, with drinks and some finger food, the networking continued for quite a while. For us Amazeeites, it was a great chance to finally meet Kathryn and Andrew who had just arrived in Switzerland this weekend. Our feelings that Kathryn will be a great addition to our team were confirmed, I think it's safe to say.

There are two blog entries on the Web Monday already, one by Kathryn herself in English and then another one by Nick Weisser of Openstream in German. Last night, Walter Schärer live-blogged the event in four blog posts. You can re-read what's been happening here. As usual, you can find pictures from the event in our flickr stream. If you have taken pictures yourself, please let us know in the comments. If you have uploaded them to flickr, why not tag them with "wmzh" and dump them into the Amazee pool? – Also, Roland Stahel of Echt Praktisch has visualized three of last night's talks, you can find his awesome superdoodles on flickr as well. – For all updates on future Web Mondays, check out the corresponding group on Amazee.

(click to enlarge)

By Amazee Labs 21st January 2011 Events

Last night the first Marketing Chuchi of 2011 took place at the Doodle offices. Their Chief Corporate Communicator, Tilman Eberle, gave the crowd of about twenty Marketeers some insight into how the online scheduling service does business. He mainly focussed on ad and sales campaigns the company had conducted over the last year.

The main points that got stuck in my mind: Never only talk about your product. You need to tell a bigger story (in Doodle's case it's the story of how much time is wasted on organizing meetings, or how complicated office workflows can be without a good scheduling tool). – Don't wait for the press to write something about you, write something for the press which they can then work with. – Always make sure you pitch to the right person: Target somebody who has written about your product before, or about a competitors product, or about your field of business activities. – And if you can barter a deal with a media company, go for it. This allows you to operate with even the smallest budget. – People from the Aargau are nicer than the people of Zurich.

I am sure this is by far not everything Tilman talked about, but as usual, it was a very insightful night. The next Marketing Chuchi will take place on February 17, 2011, at the Wuala office in Zurich's Köchlistrasse 15. You can sign up here, if you'd like to attend! – Also, you can find a handful of pictures from last night in our flickr account. And last, but certainly not least, Roland Stahel of Echt Praktisch sketched some of Tilman's thoughts and uploaded them to flickr as well. Awesome!

By Amazee Labs 22nd December 2010 Drupal, Events

All over the World the Drupal community will celebrate the coming of Drupal 7 on January 7, 2011. Being one of the leading Drupal-loving agencies in Switzerland, we naturally want to join into the geeky merriness.

Thus we have decided to throw a release party for Drupal 7 in our office in Zurich! Of course the event has to start at 7 (p.m.). There will be beer and some snacks. Also, we might have a short talk about the latest Drupal version, or maybe we will try to hook up with the party animals from other countries' communities, we'll see.

If you want to join the fun, the discussions and the nerdy talk, this is where you'll find us:

Amazee Labs
Newton (2nd floor, the last wing on the right)
Technoparkstrasse 1
8005 Zurich

Let us know if you are coming by leaving a comment or sign up here. We're looking forward to having you!

(Drupal cake picture by charlesc, CC.)

By Amazee Labs 8th December 2010 Events

Last Monday it was the 18th Web Monday to take place at the wonderful Hub Zurich. Presentations came from The Hub (working space for socialpreneurs), 28msec (XQuery in the Cloud), Spontacts (connecting likeminded people for leisure activities) and Rolf von Behrens on the fascinating future of social interfaces and personal data stores. Thanks to @Schnitzel for the atmospheric pics.

Michel from the Hub Team (above)

William from 28msec

Christoph from Spontacs

Rolf von Behrens from Swisscom

Philipp from the Silicon Valley Association

Tao from Getyourguide

Hyonjoo from Google

More pictures over here ...

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