Last night the 15th Web Monday took place in the Startzentrum in Zurich Binz. "You've created a monster", one of the visitors said to me, reflecting, as many others, on the long way the Web Monday has come. I've said it before, but I'll say it again: It is simply astonishing how this event has turned from a small meetup of the Geeks and Freaks into a venerable occasion which no Swiss Webster seems to want to miss. Of course we hope, the Web Monday is a cute and cuddly kind of monster!
Last night the attendees were in for three presentations about Switzerland's prestigious digital identification project SuisseID, the University graduates' job platform JobZippers and Nearshoring in Eastern Europe.Christian Weber of the SuisseID project talked about the positive effects of digital identification for the individual as well as for the economy. However, Web activists (though not present yesterday) have been critical of such authentication methods, fearing that it might endanger the open Web.
It remains to be seen how widely accepted SuisseID (which also runs a group on Amazee) will be and what can be done with it and if it will develop into a political playing field, but being the positive people we are, we assume that it can greatly enhance societal participation in the online environment.
Peter Vogel then talked about "his" baby JobZippers, an international job platform for College and University graduates. From what we heard it seems pretty promising, as long as they manage to keep their users on the platform, once they have found a job. If you are still doing your studies, why not check them out?
Finally Franco Dal Molin ran the Web Monday crowd through a quick presentation regarding Nearshoring in the Ukraine. His company Ciklum works with IT personnel from the Eastern European country and says his customers have made many positive experiences. In contrast to working with hired workers from, let's say India, there is less anonymity, because one can fly there in two hours and easily meet the rented co-workers, they are tailored to the customers needs and share a similar culture.
Afterwards everybody enjoyed a nice Swiss summer evening and a chat on the roof terrace. If you have missed out on this Web Monday, your next chance is coming right up: The next one is on August, 9th. You can sign up in Amazee's Web Monday Zurich group, the attendance, of course, is free of charge. If you would like to present or host a Web Monday event, please get in touch with the group admin Dania.
Yesterday evening the Amazee team joined the well populated Politforelle to listen to Julien's, Dave’s and Steffi’s presentation of the evolving politools projects. politools is an academically backed association aiming to increase political participation in Switzerland and beyond. Better known than their own name is their core product smartvote. Since 2003 the tool helps Swiss citizens lay back and easily find their candidates using an online questionnaire. In 2007 an amazing 1million users or about 15% of all Swiss citizens used smartvote to find the best matching national councils. Now that's about when Twitter launched or in other words a looong time ago - the team is busy overhauling their baby to Web 2.0 standards. Additionally we're likely to see the rollout of smartvote's little brother smartmonitor. It's supposed to be launched in the course of the 2011 national council elections and will provide transparency on the voting profile of political candidates, network analyses and more. Thanks to Feinheit for hosting, thanks to Politnetz for moderating!
Last night, our good friends over at Wuala hosted another Marketing Chuchi, complete with beer, spring rolls and ice-cream (thanks to Oona for organizing it all!). The star of the night was Philip who was presenting some findings of his master thesis. He had been working on Web and Social Web strategies for small and medium sized enterprises.
His general insights were that hardly any enterprises seem to have a real strategy, rather he got the impression (although he didn't put it that way) that most enterprises are toying around on the Web, especially with Social Media and thus go through a learning by doing process. His open presentation quickly turned into an all-out discussion by the small crowd on how to measure success in Social Media usage as a Marketing tool and how to monitor your customers' behavior.
As usual, different opinions collided head-on, but in a very well-spirited manner. It seems that there are few benchmarks and many different approaches on how to handle your customers online, but we all agreed that there is no way any enterprise, whether it sells socks or telecommunications products can ignore what is happening on the Web and must take control of the conversations happening there.
Yesterday I (Michi) was at the Webtuesday, not only to join the interesting discussions and presentations, but also to give my own short presentation, it was Lightning-Talk Time! Liip AG was so nice and hosted us for the presentations.
It started with Silvan Mühlemann from Tilllate.com, he presented in a funny way how to track very different statistics about a development team, especially when the times are hard. A very nice idea and I think the coffee machine producers should definitely consider to track the amount of coffee a single developer is consuming! ;)
The second talk was given by Jordi Boggiano, he is working at Liip and gave us a short overview about the jQuery Object named $, which is very powerful, because of function overloading (More infos at Wikipedia - Attention Tech Stuff!).
The third talk was given by me, and it was all about Twitter and the project unhash.it. Because there is more to say about this, I'll write a separate post about unhash.it at some other point in time.
The fourth talk was not exactly a talk, instead we had a Skype call with Kai, who is at the time at the WWDC in San Francisco and showed us some impressions from the Conference, especially the very nice App Wall from Apple.
The fifth and last talk came from Urs Lang, he developed a new approach for a template engine, where the designer does not need to understand PHP, but can create webforms and listings from the database. A nice idea, but unfortunately not for Amazee, because it is designed for small websites only.
Yesterday kooaba hosted the 11th UX Chuchi and put their iPhone App "Paperboy" up for discussion. kooaba is a leading company when it comes to image recognition systems, but this time it wasn't about testing their software regarding this core functionality. Instead, we tried to focus on the usability of their product (and just took the image recognition and matching as granted).
UX Chuchi at kooaba (Pic by Michi and his Fish eye). Find more pics @Flickr
As usual, a person with no previous experience regarding the respective product had to go through some common tasks with the audience watching every single move and click. Valerie from Ginetta has kindly played the guinea pig this time while Memonic's Toni guided the discussion. And as always – beside a lot of excellent functionality – we also found some processes which could be improved a lot from a usability point of view. It would go beyond the scope of this blog post to discuss all findings, so here's just one interesting topic we discussed – which might also be of general interest:
After the successful recognition of a newspaper page one can choose from quite a variety of possibilities whether to share, to explore or to store the page (cp. figure 1). As I understood, kooaba's idea is it to show the user all the available possibilities at once and therefore not having him click too many times. But what might be cool for the advanced user is a mere overkill for the rather inexperienced one, as the reaction of the participants has evidently shown. So why, for example, not work with only three simple buttons and display more options only when clicking one of them (cp. figure 2)? What do our estimated blog readers think?
We at Amazee totally love getting up early. Seriously (nudge nudge)! Thus, the Social Media Gipfel (Summit), which takes place every two months in Zurich's NZZ Bistro, is exactly our thing. Your early dose of coffee, croissants and Social Media Marketing.
On today's menu: Christian Lüdi of Swiss International Air Lines and Mathias Kienholz of Swisscom. Christian startet things off nicely with a presentation on how he works the Social Media accounts of Swiss and how the Swiss Marketing team managed the recent wrath of the icelandic volcano Gods. Pretty soon it became apparent to them that a Social Media Emergency Campaign was exactly what was needed, in this case.
What played into Swiss' hands was that this crisis was not self-made, but out of their control and customers were somewhat more understanding. Many people travelling with Swiss requested information via the company's Twitter & Facebook accounts instead of having to wait for hours in the information hotline queue.
The situation proved that communication via Social Media can be a lot quicker than via a classic Homepage setup, and moreover, another social aspect came into play: travellers were helping each other via Social Media! The question remains, however, if a self-inflicted crisis situation can be handled in the same way if customers are not as understanding.
Another quick case study exemplified the importance of answering up to single customers, as they can easily become a beacon into whole communities (in this case it was a handicapped traveller).
Mathias Kienholz, Head of the "Codex" project at Swisscom subsequently talked about a joint project with various publishing and bookstore stakeholders to develop (yet another) digital reading device. Although the technology seems to be well-conceptualized, the venture was met with much scepticism, the central arguing point being: Why do we need another gadget?
The general opinion seemed to be that the digital publishing business requires a good deal of innovation fast and that many are actually willing to read texts and even books on digital devices; but not if they are restricted to a closed system of devices and stores to buy from.
Thanks again to Marcel Bernet and Peter Hogenkamp for putting the event together once more. The next dates for the Social Media Summit are September, 1st, and November, 3rd. In order to receive updates on how to get in, follow @smgzh on Twitter and sign up for the mailing list here. Our own Michael was official photographer of the event, you can find his pictures on flickr. Videos of the talk will be uploaded on Youtube, watch out for notifications on this via said channels.
On a side note: Swiss will be tweeting their first direct flight from Zurich to San Francisco live today on their Twitter account. Be sure to wear some flowers in your hair!
After a short introduction round with an impressive bunch of visitors from the private and the governmental sector, Niels, Michel and Hagen gave us an overview of The Hub Zurich's plans. With roots in London, the young Hub network is rapidly spreading all over the world (to places as far as Zurich and Kabul!).
The goal of The Hub is to gather socialpreneurs (= people who aim to solve social challenges with an entrepreneurial approach) in locally organized office spaces. Or in other words: Provide a fruitful ecosystem for socialpreneurs to share and drive their ideas from intent to action - kind of a physical Amazee.
The Hub Zurich is going to be incorporated as an association and placed in Zurich's brand new Viadukt. Grand opening is scheduled for January 2011. Among the first sponsoring partners are prominent organizations like the WWF - however, some more cash will be required to get the nascent hub to blossom. If you would like to contribute, sponsor or profit - here on Amazee you can stay tuned and contact the founders and their community of changemakers.
Yesterday was Wuala's turn to get its usability chuckholes uncovered in the UX Chuchi. From the folder color, to sharing principles, to finding the right positioning between a social sharing platform and an online backup platform - we discussed it all; and while everybody agreed that less functionalities would do, nobody really wanted to commit to eliminating his favourite parts of Wuala! Next to suffer the heat of the UX catharsis: Koaaba. RSVP just over here
This afternoon I was in Fribourg to moderate a round table discussion at the Swiss Innovation & Trend day organized by the Haute Ecole de Gestion de Fribourg. The event featured 300 participants and 3 main presentations: Nils Müller, CEO TrendONE, gave an inspiring talk on how our life could look in 2021: hyperwired, hypercompetitive and badly addicted to the web.
Elmar Mock, CEO Creaholic, and co-inventor of the Swatch was the person to give us a look into a life full of innovations. His core point was that the process of innovation takes three mental - mostly contradicting - stages: Gas, liquid, solid.
Martin Broderick, Marketing Manager at Google, gave us an insight into G's culture of innovation: think big, search for iteration - not instant perfection, speed matters, share everything, focus on the user, hire the best, work in small teams and flat hierarchies, keep things transparent, and more... it was a rich and inspiring day - thanks to HEG Fribourg for the perfect organization.
Yesterday the 14th Web Monday took place. IBM was our host and really spoiled us with a great location and apero, thanks a lot to Sid and his team!
We had a great variety of speakers:
Siddhartha Arora, our host, presented IBM's Global Entrepreneur Initiative, which aims to help start-ups capture new business opportunities. Under this new program, IBM provides access to its research community, sales, marketing and technical skills. We were the first to hear about this initiative in Switzerland, as the IBM Switzerland marketing machinery hasn't started communicated the initiative yet. Interested startups can already apply here.
Amir Suissa presented his brand-new start-up DeinDeal, which has been launched a couple of weeks ago. DeinDeal is a group buying website that offers a daily coupon for the best deals in your town with savings of up to 70% on restaurants, wellness, beauty, sports and culture. Amir told us in more detail what DeinDeal is and clarified that it is just another copycat of the highly successful GroupOn model from the US. Copycat or not - we wish them lots of success!
Till Quack from Kooaba held a very interesting presentation on the history and future of visual search and presented two tools in more detail: Paperboy and ShootingStar. These help you explore, share and remember things you see by recognizing your snapshots.Last but not least Mark Melnykowycz presented his art work: in his group "Web Portraits Zurich" he creates cool images and portraits of the people involved in the web and startup scene around Zurich and Switzerland. Here some impressions! Join the group if you want to be one of the next models!