Andreas of Politnetz, who had organized the event (thank you for that!), managed to find two very interesting guys to present: Moritz Zumbühl, CEO of the Feinheit agency and candidate for the Green Party in Zurich as well as Stefan Krattiger, a successful, young politician (how do you translate Gemeinderatspräsident?) of the Social Democratic Party from the Bernese Oberland both talked about their experience with the Net.
While Moritz Zumbühl was quite skeptical about the power of Social Media in general (except Facebook, as he stressed), he stated that he heavily relies on E-Mail (again). The only problem being the obtaining of E-Mail adresses. But he was able to show some interesting cases in which mailing helped to get a campaign off the ground. At the same time he is convinced that in Switzerland there is not yet a way to successfully bypass mass media when you want to get your word out big time.
Stefan Krattiger talked about his campaign to become Gemeinderatspräsident (president of his local town council). Amongst other things he started chatting up young people from his town via Facebook and managed to mobilize them. They would not have voted otherwise and eventually carried him to victory.
Both, however, were not convinced that online Social Media will be successfully used by Swiss parties in the near future. Too fragmented and decentralized is the national party landscape.
Amazee's second year has been an exciting one, and while things have cooled down a bit, the Amazee team is already heating up for a promising year to come:
Beginning of January we are going to release Amazee’s very first Customized Solution, based on Amazee's technology framework. The platform (believe me, it is stunning!) has been built in close collaboration with our client and will no doubt become a leading benchmark on the intersection between Web 2.0 and Corporate Social Responsibility.
In February we will release another Customized Solution and a strongly revamped Amazee. We’ve collected lots of user feedback, drafted wireframes and done loads of usability tests: The result will be a more explorative start page, a much easier project set-up and editing process, and more goodies we’re currently working on with our colleagues from FHNW. If you would like to get a sneak-preview and contribute to the last fine-tunings don’t miss the UX Chuchi on 2 February in Europe's tech hub Zurich!
Besides all the innovation and development work, we’ll be travelling the road, promoting Amazee as one of the leading enablers and think-tanks for eParticiation. And last but not least we’ll engage on Amazee more than ever: For example in Switzerland's StartupCamp, Web Monday Zurich, UX Chuchi, Marketing Chuchi, Business Chuchi, Politforelle, UX Book Club, Give Swiss Tech a Name, Zurich Web Café and the Amazee works for you project. Don’t miss them and all the new projects to come. For any news, stay tuned to this blog or follow us on Twitter.
2010 will be a good one! We wish you lots of success.
Okay, the headline is a big exaggerated, of course a conference like the current United Nations Climate Change Conference, or COP15 as it is also known, must be held, but I seriously am of the opinion that a conference like this will not save the World.
It is perfectly clear that over the next years and decades drastic measures have to be taken in order to avert a climatic catastrophe that will probably change the way we (and all other beings, for that matter) live on this planet forever. No serious scientist will argue against this.
Yet politicians from all over the Globe are just messing about. Back in their respective home countries everybody stressed the importance of COP15 and then shows up basically empty-handed in the Danish capital. It doesn't surprise me, however.
Over the years, I have become somewhat of a passionate pessimist about these kinds of conferences. They either end with no agreement at all or with an agreement that does not have any effect whatsoever except that it shows that everybody was able to agree on playing it safe.
The problem with a conference on something like climate change, human rights or any social or ecological matter, in general, will hardly ever yield any tangible results since there is nothing like a strong international union to stand up for the cause.
When talking to Greg about Copenhagen briefly, he quoted his father who says: "Countries know no friends, they only know interests." Nicely put, and it's probably not even something one with a decent sense for the realities of this World can argue against.
However, what the nations' leaders fail to see at COP15 that it is in the genuine interest of humankind to get both feet on the ground, and that it is about high time to do so. Because saving the planet is not in the interest of one single nation, but rather in everybody's interest.
Therefore, I say: no nation, no government, no politician will or can ever stop climate change, not Germany's Angela Merkel, not the Chinese regime, not President Obama. And I don't even want them to. I wouldn't mind if they did find an agreement, but on the other hand, I am certain that it does not depend on them.
All around the World the most encouraging signs of the will to clean out this mess we are diving into head-on are not coming from national institutions, but rather from regional ones, cities, states, local initiatives. Not although, but exactly because the administrators here wield power over smaller entities, they are able to generate change.
And this is exactly what we need to see. Big entities are practically immovable, the smaller ones are where the action is at. And the smallest entity in the hierarchy is the single person. In my eyes, we shall not look to our governments to take responsibility for us.
We need to get active ourselves. Relying on the World's leaders only makes things worse, because we are denying our part in this: We are responsible for climate change and each and every single one of us needs change now. Start today! If they can't do it, we will have to. If we can't, then noone can.
This is why I believe that Copenhagen is not important.
Last night we held another round of the Marketing Chuchi, one of the almost famous startup events where we grill one of our own by scrutinizing the routines and helping them tighten the screws. This time it was Oona's turn to burn.
She got a lot of steam, but she could very well take it. As a representative of Wuala, the online storage service, she has experienced a lot of change at her workplace over the last months because of Wuala's merger with LaCie, the French hard drive manufacturer.
As a matter of fact, it resulted in very little change for the Marketing part, the main difference being that they now have to attend more business fairs. Some of the major changes were a redesign of the Wuala logo (which Oona said had reminded American customers of Arabic language!) to represent a more serious side towards more professional customers.
The overall findings of the evening were that Wuala will have to be aware that there is a difference between privacy and security, which it needs to exude in order to appear more serious. Which one of these two would be more important to the user, we couldn't agree on, however.
Find all the pictures of last night's Chuchi at flickr.
I am sitting in the auditorium of the Museum of Natural History in Geneva as I'm writing this. Today sees the first installment of a TED conference in Switzerland. TED X Geneva is one of a string of independently organized conferences which comprise what one would expect from a real TED conference: (mostly) fresh and inspiring talks on Technology, Entertainment and Design. All of the speakers are somehow related to some Swiss scene, business or institution.
In my eyes, the conference is well-balanced, some techie stuff (which still was interesting for the clueless guy that I am), and some ideas from the "social" sector (sustainability, humanity, that sort of stuff). On the Tech side, I was especially awed by Jan-Mathieu Donnier and his presentation about his business: 360° 3D video imagery (please check out his Streetview site, an alternative take on Google's project). Pretty mindboggling input, just like the gesture-based computer interface Frederic Kaplan introduced. Quite complementary was the talk by François Bugnion about the birth of the Red Cross and the Geneva Convention.
My favorite talk so far, however, was Louis Palmer's tale of his trip around the Globe in the Solar Taxi. He talked about the reaction to his voyage in different countries: China was very welcoming and interested in solar energy while Australia didn't really seem to bother. And in Japan he wasn't even allowed on the road: Swiss license plates are obviously not compatible with Japanese traffic rules. But his trip around the World was a huge success and now he is putting together a global race – for solar-powered vehicles, of course. I filmed the talk, you can watch it here. The visual side isn't so high-quality, but the sound is good.
These are just some of the talks held here today, the live presentations are rounded off with all-time faves from the TED archives like this classic Hans Rosling presentation (be sure to watch it till the end, it's well worth it). My intermediate conclusion: TED X Geneva is well-organized and well-executed, with a lot of interesting people attending. A lot of output will be coming from it (judging from the sheer mass of Tweets during the conference) and I would really like to see another TED X session being held in Zurich.
The day after: The rest of the story after I have slept it over. The afternoon in Geneva went down in similar fashion with more talks on sport and its rehabilitatory power for refugees, matter and anti-matter (of which I understood only about half (probably the matter part)), motorbike travels through Asia and TED itself. Last up was Xavier Rosset who talked about his 300 days alone on a remote island in the Tonga archipelago. And this talked summed up pretty well what TED is all about: Without the people surrounding us, we are nothing. Life is about interaction, not about sheer survival.
One of the really cool things about this TED conference was meeting all the different people, everybody with a very distinct background, often completely different from my own. Talking to these people with their goals and ideas can be quite inspiring, since they offer new scopes and angles on things.
So, what can be improved? All in all, I though TED X Geneva was pretty well organized. For the next conference, however, I would include less videos (max. two), or maybe TED should offer videos which have not yet been shown on the TED site to conference organizers. Also, some of the talks were limited in quality by the visual presentation. Either it was completely missing where there should've been some illustration or it was all bullet points and little visuals. And some talks could've been shorter for what the speakers had to say. Apart from that, chapeau to Yves Bennaïm and his team of organizers.
What are your thoughts on TED X Geneva? What are you taking out of it? What did you like especially, what could you do without?
During the afternoon, Peter Hogenkamp of Blogwerk announced that there will be a TED X Conference in Zurich on March, 2nd, 2010 (see also in the commentaries). Put a big red X into your calendars!
(An alternative take at the logo.)
Michael and I just got back from the first Social Media Gipfel (Social Media Summit), organized by Marcel Bernet of Bernet PR and Peter Hogenkamp of Blogwerk. The short résumé: It was time well spent, despite having to get up even earlier than we already do.
The long résumé: The Social Media Gipfel has a lot of potential. Zurich has witnessed the rise of a lot of Web-related events lately, from the well-established Web Monday to the Internet-Briefing to the Web Tuesday, to the various Chuchis and the Politforelle; however, a meetup with presentations revolving around the hardly fathomable topic of Social Media was still missing from the Web afficionado's agenda.
So, Marcel and Peter stepped to the plate and delivered well. The first meeting took place at the NZZ bistro, and despite the early time (7:30), well over fifty people attended. Interestingly those there were not the same as those you might encounter at other meetups. Two presentations were held, the first by David Schärer of ROD Communications AG. He talked about their "Slow down – Take it easy" campaign which aims at reducing traffic accidents by promoting a chill way of driving. Quite a laid-back campaign with a lot of drive: an artificial character called Franky Slowdown is the face of "Slow Down" and stirs the masses on Facebook and is now entering the Swiss charts with the band Da Sign & The Opposite. According to David Schärer it takes a face and some earnest activity on a site like Facebook (and, of course, some freshness) to make a successful campaign. All in all, pretty common sense, but nicely condensed by David.
Second up was Chris Leduc, who, together with two colleagues, started the Twitter account @railservice, which is growing wildly popular in Switzerland. It provides valuable information to public transportation travellers in a fresh, friendly, and occasionally funny way. The special twist here: It is not (yet) backed by the Swiss Rail, SBB. All three initiators are working in public transport themselves and were just fascinated with Twitter, as Chris told. At the Social Media Gipfel, he met with a representative of SBB for the first time to talk about their initiative. Patrick Comboeuf, Director of e-business at SBB, showed a lot of understanding (bordering on well-contained enthusiasm) for @railservice and hinted at the problems of just making this an official service (Will it be a competition to the pay-per-call service of the same name by SBB, for example?). It quite quickly became clear that the attendees were with the young Chris, and Michael and I decided to support @railservice in the best way we can. More on this soon to come.
For those who have missed the first Social Media Gipfel: You better come next time! The next dates are set for Feb., 3rd, April, 04th and June, 6th. Marcel and Peter are always glad for input and volunteers to present. Feel free to contact them, you'll find all details on the Social Media Gipfel website.
Dania had been working on this for a loooong time now, yesterday it finally happened: The Zurich Web Scene gathered for its Web Monday at the Google offices. The building is famous (bordering on legendary) for its insane interior architecture – fancy a sample?
How about a relaxation room with diwan beds and aquariums, a arcade room with table tennis, foosball, and air hockey (how Eighties is THAT?), a room which is literally a jungle, discarded ski-lift gondolas everywhere as retreats for making a phone call in quiet, a bar that serves as a Tech helpdesk? Oh, and did I mention the free food for every Google worker, including yummy ice-cream by a brand that starts with B & J? Doesn't sound half bad, no wonder that well over a hundred Websters wanted to attend the evening. They even came from as far away as Germany, and they witnessed three cool and interesting presentations.
After a few welcoming words from Rupert Breheny of Google Joaquin Cuenca Abela of Panoramio presented their case and how they got acquired by Google. The essence: It is all about your network. If you work together successfully, it is likely that those in your network who worked with you will also succeed on other projects. Next followed a short presentation by Andreas Hoffmann, a UBS representative. He introduced a competition to find a social media strategy for his bank (and for its customers) – the grand prize being 5,000 Swiss Franks for the three best ideas. You'll find more on this in the Web Monday magazine soon.
The last presentation of the night was held by Dr. Manfred Vogel and his team of the University of Applied Sciences Northwestern Switzerland (FHNW). He talked about the Master studies at his institution and the Swiss Universities can help startup businesses get their products on track. This was rounded off with two case presentations, which included Amazee and Galaxy Advisors.
The usual networking afterwards was cut short by Rupert's announcement that there will be tours of the house. So, the friendly Google staff took small groups 'round the truly amazing offices, before we had to return to the snow and cold again ...
In 40 years from now (2050) 85% of the world’s 9 billion human beings will be living in developing countries, 70% in cities, and you and I will probably get really old. To share and discuss the “Grand Design” for all the evolving sustainability challenges, Germany’s Nachhaltigkeitsrat invited the public to its 9th annual conference that took place yesterday in the bcc in Berlin. Next to the the big shots like Angela Merkel, some MPs, renowned scientists and CEOs that added a good load of prestige to the already very professional event, there also was a wealth of micro-entrepreneurs that were invited to present their innovations boosting sustainability in one or the other way (“Mission Sustainability”).
Here some interesting bits and bites... Björn Stigson (president of the WBCSD) presented a SWOT Analysis of Germany’s Sustainability Strategy. The analysis resulted from an official peer review on Germany's policies for sustainable development: Strengths: “Sustainability” has deep roots in the German culture (excluding most immigrants as Pekka Haavisto stated), there is a national sustainability strategy, Germany has lots of institutional competences and a strong technology base; Weaknesses: Germany lacks the concrete vision and the ability to speed up change (Where’s the roadmap for 2050?), there’s no long term energy plan and a weak coordination between ministries, the federal government, the Länder, businesses and NGOs; Opportunities: There’s a global demand for sustainable products and a strong position to start contributing; Threats: Increased global pressure; dependency on imports of energy and other key materials, major demographic challenges (ageing population).
From my colleague Thomas Haberland I learned that the average African consumes 10 kg of natural resources per day. The average European 45 kg, and the average North American 90 kg... - and yes, lots of other facts that are not in line with a sustainable development. So much for the top-down view on our little earth.
Looking at the bottom-up side I had to to smile about this wonderful and simple service helping to better harness existing natural resources; mostly apples: Mundraub.org is a platform (built on Wordpress and Google Maps) that allows its users to mark public (or legally and freely accessible) trees where fruits can be picked. Less windfall can indeed be one of million little steps to a sustainable society (part of the mundraub team: Justin Buckley, Katharina Frosch and Mirco Meyer)
Here we go, some impressions from yesterday's wonderful UX Book Club Meeting. I guess I haven't laughed as much in the last few weeks as in these 3 hours of our UX self-help group meet-up. Not because of Josh Porter's book Designing for the Social Web (recommended, follow @bokardo), but much more because of Pascal's lively visualizations of the goal-conflicts between Coders and UX Designers. Wonderful! Conclusion of the evening: The experience is the product.
Yesterday I had the pleasure to present Amazee and IDHEAP's research on eParticipation and eDemocracy at Switzerland's 3rd eGovernment Symposium in Berne (yes, Amazee has a science arm!). The perfectly organized event featured a wealth of interesting people and eGovernment initiatives. But it also exposed why Switzerland is lagging behind when it comes to the development of a cutting-edge eDemocracy ecosystem: Swiss Federalism ("Kantönligeist"), strong focus on eAdministration and (still) little innovation in the area of eParticipation as well as a very limited integration of Switzerland's Web 2.0 entrepreneurs (I had the strong feeling that Matthias Stürmer from Liip, Ana Maria Moreira and I were the only three participants representing the dynamic social media and open-source world). However, the awareness for most of the shortcomings were there (freely translating Mark Muller, cantonal councilor of Geneva's french statement: "It's time for Switzerland to get the Turbo going". Amazee agrees - and is looking forward to help make Switzerland the number one. One of the cool things to look forward to is definitely the roll out of the SuisseID by May 2010 (allowing for online authentication = verified identity).