Calling All Customers

Reposting a bit from Doc Searls about the upcoming VRM working in Boston.  Hope to see folks there!  -cfc

VRM East Coast Workshop 2009 is coming up soon — on 12-13 October, at Harvard Law School in Cambridge, MA. It’s hosted by the Berkman Center and ProjectVRM at the Center.

As with earlier VRM workshops, it’s a free unconference, organized on the open space model.
Participants choose the topics, move those topics forward in open
discussion, and share progress with the whole group at the end of each
day.

You can get a sense of the energy in a VRM gathering from photo galleries here, here, here, here and here.

Sign up for the workshop here.

For those of you not familiar with VRM, the letters stand for Vendor
Relationship Management, and it’s about the tools that developers and
friends are creating to provide individuals with tools of independence
form organizations that wish to control them — and better means for
engaging with those organizations. In other words, it’s about blowing
up silos and walled gardens, and creating a better system: one in which
individuals are the collection centers for their own data, and the ones
controlling what gets done with that data.

Chatting about Scanaroo on ComputerAmerica

computer_america

Click here to listen

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to chat for an hour with Craig Crossman on ComputerAmerica
about Scanaroo.  ( ComputerAmerica is the nation’s longest running
nationally syndicated radio talk show on computers and technology and
is heard on both the Business TalkRadio Network and the Lifestyle
TalkRadio Network, weeknights at 10PM Eastern time, by about 1.5MM
listeners.)

The conversation with Crossman was a really good time. We covered
all sorts of different things around the history of Scanaroo, including:

  • What was the genesis behind developing Scanaroo?
  • How will Scanaroo help customers?
  • How will mobile devices and applications like Scanaroo affect business?
  • Is this just for loyalty cards?
  • What has the market’s reaction been thusfar? How many users?
  • How is it being promoted?
  • What’s next for Scanaroo?

All in all, a highly enjoyable conversation. Take a listen.

Sept 23 – David Weinberger Network Age Briefing: Is The Web REALLY Exceptional?

  • Network Age Briefing: “Is The Web REALLY Exceptional?”
  • September 23, 2009 — 10:00am PDT / 1:00 pm EDT
  • Web and chat: http://tobtr.com/s/699836
  • Call-in Number: (347) 945-6578

225px-DavidWeinberger_treesOn September 23, I'll be chatting with Berkman Fellow Dr. David Weinberger on the topic of "web exceptionalism."  I'm really hoping you can join us.

“Exceptionalism is the perception that a country, society, institution, movement, or time period is ‘exceptional
(i.e., unusual or extraordinary) in some way and thus does not conform
to normal rules or general principles. Used in this sense, the term
reflects a belief formed by lived experience, ideology, perceptual frames, or perspectives influenced by knowledge (or lack thereof) of historical or comparative circumstances.” (source: Wikipedia)

Join us for a thought-provoking Supernova Network Age Briefing with David
Weinberger on September 23 at 1pm EDT / 10am PDT to discuss “Is The Web
REALLY Exceptional?”  On August 28 of this year, David wrote:

“We hear “Internet” and we think an
infrastructure of cables and radio signals, when in fact the Internet
is a set of protocols that can be implemented over anything from copper
wires to carrier pigeons.”

But then he goes on to say:

“In fact, I find myself
understanding issues ever more frequently in terms of traditional
structures becoming networks or taking on the properties of networks.
E.g., news is a network, not a set of stories. Businesses ought to view
themselves more and more as networks. Expertise is a property of a
network. Leadership is a property of a network. Markets are networks
within which conversations take place, natch. Networks are very much
becoming our new paradigm.”

So, it appears we’re at a crossroads.  Is the web just more of the
same, just another communications medium, that happens to be in a
trendy, well-funded wrapper?  (Remember, there was a time when
Citizen’s Band – CB – radio was going to change broadcasting, too.)  Or
are the web, and the Network Age, truly “exceptional?”

Join us!

Want to know about future Network Age Briefings? (We do them about once a week.)  Here's the link.

Scanaroo takes cards out of wallet, and onto phone

Had a chance to sit down for a great chat last week with Mark Noack and Lars Howlett from the Half Moon Bay Review, our local weekly.  Looks like they ran it today.  We met at the local Peet's, and then took a little stroll over the local Ocean Shore ACE Hardware store.  Thanks, guys…looking forward to chatting again soon!  Here's a link to the article. -cfc

Local techie designs iPhone app

'Scanaroo' takes cards out of wallet, and onto phone

By Mark Noack [ mark@hmbreview.com ]
Photo: Lars Howlett, HMB Review

Hmbreview It was a common scenario: Christopher Carfi was about to make a
purchase at the Ocean Shore Hardware on Main Street, but he didn't have
his rewards card necessary to get a discount.

No problem. Carfi
whipped out his trusty iPhone, clicked through his applications, and
brought up a picture of his rewards card, barcode and all.

“You've got your card on your cell phone?” asked cashier Charisse Sarandria, amused.Carfi, a Half Moon Bay resident, not only
uses his smart-phone to store and organize his personal cards, and he
also designed a program that made it possible. “Scanaroo” — his program
for capturing and storing all the clutter that clogs wallets,
particularly business cards and store “rewards” or loyalty cards. The
program is available for the iPhone for 99 cents.

“When
you have more than six cards in your wallet, this comes in really
handy,” he said. “If you look 18 months from now, this’ll be
commonplace.”

The 42-year-old tweets, he blogs, he designs iPhone programs — Carfi is a textbook techie.

In
2002, he founded Cerado, a technology consulting company, and has
worked primarily in advising large companies on how to utilize the
latest tools to interact more profitably with customers.

Carfi
got a bit of an epiphany from the sitcom “Seinfeld.” He recalls an
episode in which the ill-fortuned character George Costanza tries to
squeeze another wad of paper into his bloated wallet overflowing with
various cards. The wallet can’t hold it all, and all of his cards and
money explode out into the city streets.

Carfi says his ardent
belief in technology as a means to help people couldn’t be encapsulated
in a better anecdote. He says the guiding principle of technology is to
bring customers more tools for making educated purchases, and steering
his company to design smart-phone applications seemed like the best way
to join that wave.

Scanaroo is one of the seven-person company’s
first forays into cell-phone software. It isn’t a revolutionary
application; in fact, an iPhone user could take pictures of wallet
cards herself and reference them as regular picture files for the same
purpose. Carfi’s program simply gives an easier, organized, and secure
format to do that.

“The benefit is simplicity and organization,” Carfi said. “We’ll be continuing to improve Scanaroo and support new features.”

Cerado
plans to continue developing more iPhone applications and porting over
Scanaroo to the other smart-phone devices, such as the popular
Blackberry.

For now, Cerado says he hopes his small, 99-cent
application takes off among his fellow technophiles. So far his company
has reported a few hundred downloads.

As the program gains
speed, Carfi says it’s only a matter of time before someone tries to
punch a hole in an iPhone to get a free Subway sandwich.

TOMORROW: Why Twitter and Facebook Should Forget About China

Reposting a great description of the Supernova Network Age call that's scheduled for for 4pm PDT Tuesday, originally posted by Elliot Ng.  Hope to see/hear you all there!  -cfc

When is the call?

  • The call is on Sept 15, 2009 at 4:00 pm Pacific Daylight Time US / 7:00 pm Eastern Daylight Time US.
  • In China, the call is on Sept 16, 2009 at 7:00 am Beijing time / in Korea, 8:00 am Seoul time.

How do I access the call via web or phone?

What's the briefing about?

CN Reviews is partnering with Wharton School’s Supernova Group to host a conference call on Sept 15 (U.S.) / Sept 16 (China, Korea) about social networks and emerging trends in China’s consumer internet.  Kaiser Kuo, Benjamin Joffe,
and other leading China-based consumer internet executives will share
about a vibrant, social, and rapidly evolving consumer internet that
most Westerners don’t hear that much about.  They will also share some
of the barriers to success that Western companies will face.  The call
is provocatively called “Why Twitter & Facebook Should Forget About
China” and was inspired by a recent Mobinode post with a similar title by tech blogger Gang Lu.

Professor Kevin Werbach’s Supernova Conference
is one of my favorite conferences of the year, because it brings
together a diverse group of people together–public policy makers,
computer scientists, social scientists, economists, entrepreneurs, and
participants from leading technology companies–to do some out of the
box thinking about what Werbach calls “The Network Age.“ 
In addition to the Conference, Werbach hosts a series of conference
calls about various “Network Age” topics.  I suggested to Kevin that we
do a call on China’s internet, and he agreed to host it and let me
moderate it.

Supernova LCD screen at Wharton West

What we will cover:

Most Western coverage of the Internet focuses on the narrative of
censorship and control, but misses the vibrant social nature of what is
now the largest internet market of the world.  In the West, the
internet started in business/academia/government, fulfilling mostly
functional & utilitarian needs.  But in China, the internet started
as a consumer phenomenon, focused on entertainment and communications. 
Also, like most of the developing world, China’s internet has developed
hand-in-hand with the growth of mobile, Internet-connected devices –
about 25% of total internet users access the internet NOT on a PC but
via a mobile device.  Some potential questions we’ll cover:

  • Tencent – how this Chinese internet company achieved a dominant, $1
    billion revenue position and at HKD $207 Billion (about USD $26
    Billion) now exceeds Yahoo!’s market capitalization of $20 Billion.
  • QQ as an example of a mobile, social application – different from the West.
  • Virtual goods, casual gaming, and the nature of social exchange on QQ and other social networks.
  • The upstarts and the copycats – RenRen (Xiaonei), Kaixin001, and the rest.  Casual gaming and what is powering the growth.
  • Opportunities in mobile applications – China Mobile’s mobile application ecosystem.
  • The growth of video – Youku, Tudou, 56.com, and segmentation of the video market in China.
  • Why Facebook and Twitter should forget about China

Who is on the call?

  • Kaiser Kuo – (Twitter: @kaiserkuo)-Kaiser
    Kuo is an American-born writer, rock musician, technology watcher and
    cultural commentator. In 2007, he joined the leading advertising agency
    Ogilvy as their director of digital strategy for China, but left in
    early 2009 to devote more time to writing and to his advisory work for
    several Chinese Internet startups, including consulting work for
    China’s leading Internet video site, Youku.com. He currently also
    serves as digital strategy director, Team Nokia, for ad agency
    Wunderman. Previously, he served as China bureau chief for the Silicon
    Valley-based magazine Red Herring, and worked as a freelance technology and business writer for such publications as TimeChina Economic ReviewAsia Inc., and TelecomAsia. He has worked extensively in China-based Web and mobile startups. He is a frequent guest on CCTV-9 program Dialogue,
    where he has debated issues ranging from Internet vigilantism to
    Feng-shui. Kaiser has been the anchor columnist for the popular
    English-language magazine that’s Beijing and its successor, The Beijinger,
    for almost eight years, contributing the monthly satire column called
    “Ich Bin Ein Beijinger.” An anthology of 61 of his columns was
    published in a volume of the same title in June, 2009. Kaiser is a
    graduate of the University of California at Berkeley and holds an MA in
    East Asian Studies from the University of Arizona. He was co-founder
    and lead guitarist of one of China’s most successful rock bands, Tang
    Dynasty, and continues to be active in Beijing’s rock scene as lead
    guitarist of Chunqiu. He lives in Beijing with his wife and two young
    children. Kaiser is currently working on a new book on people-to-people
    relations between China and the United States in the Internet age.
  • Benjamin Joffe (Twitter: @benjaminjoffe @plus8star; Plus8Star)
    – Benjamin Joffe founded the digital strategy company +8*
    (www.plus8star.com) after being part during the past 9 years of Japan’s
    mobile revolution, Korea’s Internet boom as well as China’s mobile
    crash and web 2.0 revival. +8* works with large companies (Adidas,
    Microsoft, Nokia), investors (MIH, leading investor in Tencent) and
    startups (IMVU, Baihe.com) to bring them proven and innovative service
    concepts and business models from advanced Asian markets.  Benjamin is
    a regular keynote at industry events (Ad:Tech, GSP East, Asia Venture
    Capital Forum, eComm, etc.), he was selected among China’s Top 100
    Mobile Industry Influencers in 2007 and 2008 and co-founded Mobile
    Monday in Beijing, the leading mobile industry forum in China with over
    3,000 members.
  • TBD - I’ll be updating this post with another participant who is an operating executive in a leading social media company in China
  • George Godula (Twitter: @web2asia)- George Godula, Shanghai resident for 4 years, is co-founder of Web2Asia
    a full-service market entry partner for Western Internet companies in
    China, Japan and Korea. The company additionally incubates and invest
    in local start-ups in the region. George is also the Managing Director
    of the international direct marketing agency MH | direkt’s
    Asian subsidiary.   George is an active member of the Asian web scene
    and co-founder & organizer of several established events and
    conferences such as of the pan-Asian web conference Open Web Asia.
    He also runs the monthly Shanghai Lunch 2.0  and together with partners
    CBN and CNReviews organized the China 2.0 Bloggertour in 2008 that for
    the first time introduced leading international bloggers and
    journalists such as Robert Scoble, Shel Israel, Techcrunch, Mashable,
    The Next Web and CNet Asia to Chinas biggest Internet companies and
    hottest start ups. Recently George and Web2Asia started working with
    FoundersFund to organize the Geeks on a Plane East Asia tour
    (http://www.geeksonaplane.com), which took Silicon Valley investors
    & entrepreneurs through the tech sectors of Tokyo, Beijing and
    Shanghai. George frequently speaks at conferences about Web 2.0 in Asia
    and publishes in online blogs such as Techcrunch or VentureBeat.
    George holds a Master’s Degree in International Business
    Administration, Marketing and Economics from Innsbruck
    University/Austria and Handelshögskolan in Göteborg/Sweden. He is an
    Austrian national and speaks German, English, French, Swedish, Spanish
    and basic Mandarin.
  • Elliott Ng, moderator – (Twitter: @elliottng)
    – Elliott Ng is a Silicon Valley based entrepreneur and occasional
    angel investor/advisor to Chinese internet startups.  Companies Elliott
    has co-founded have created value for venture investors via
    acquisitions and one NASDAQ IPO, valued at $400 million.  He is
    currently co-founder of UpTake, a new travel search engine, and founder/blogger of CNReviews, a blog about China’s business, technology, and what’s interesting about China.

SXSW Panels: Please Vote!

The SXSW Interactive festival in Austin takes a community-based approach to its programming.  Their panel conversations are sourced from conference attendees, and the panels are voted on by folks like us.  As such, I've suggested two panels for SXSW 2010, and would love your help, if you think they sound interesting.  All you need to do is click on the links below, and click the little "Thumbs Up" icon when you get to the Panel Picker.  That's it!  Here they are:

Short description and links (please vote for each, if you're so inclined)

Will The Smartphone Change Retail The Way The iPod Changed Music?
http://bit.ly/5EFbl


Is The iPhone The Future Of Personal Data?

http://bit.ly/1sPe

Longer Descriptions

Panel Suggestion #1: Is the iPhone the Future of Personal Data?

Abstract:
Your profile is on Facebook. Your resume is on LinkedIn. Your browsing
preference are on Google. Your purchases are with your credit card
company. Today, your information is held in dozens, if not hundreds, of
data silos, none of which are under your control. With exponentially
growing storage capacity, tens of thousands of applications, and
double-digit annual smartphone market growth, is personal data going to
move out of the cloud and into our pockets? Will our our iPhones and
BlackBerries and Pres become the center of our digital information
lives, the way that our wallets were back in the paper age? Or in the
Facebook age, is the existing model so entrenched (and perhaps so
efficient), that the organizations that currently hold our data will be
unable or unwilling to give it up?
Questions Answered:

  1. Can we control our own digital information?
  2. Will Facebook, Google and financial institutions always control our data?
  3. Would personal data control reduce identity theft, or exacerbate it?
  4. Is the individual the "right place" to integrate our data?
  5. Will customers trust their mobile phones as a storage medium?
  6. What social changes will be required to think about "me" as the custodian of my own information?
  7. How does this intersect with other "data portability" efforts?
  8. What are the right pieces of information to integrate? Search? Health data? Financial? Everything?
  9. Who really owns our data today?
  10. How much of our digital lives will live in our pockets, versus in the cloud?

Panel Suggestion #2: Will The Smartphone Change Retail The Way The iPod Changed Music?

Description:
In
each of the past three decades, the movement from centralized control
to distributed networks has radically reformed an industry. In the
1980s, the PC moved computing power from the shamans in the data center
to everyone's personal desktop, and in the process reformed and created
the computing industry. In the 1990s, the the MP3 unlocked music for
millions. In the 2000s, blogs (which Jay Rosen presciently called "the
little First Amendment machines") transformed news and media by
enabling individuals to do what only could be done historically by
huge, centralized organizations.
As we move into the 2010s, mobile is the fundamentally enabling
technology that will empower networked individuals. Basic technologies,
when moved out into the network, have completely reformed computing,
music and media over the past three decades. Will mobile be the spark
that radically changes they way we search, shop and connect with the
retail establishments we frequent everyday? Or have fifty years of
advertising and marketing formed us in such a way that the current
model is the optimal way for customers to interact with vendors and
each other?
Questions Answered:

  1. Is mobile the same type of disruptive influence as the MP3, networking and blogging?
  2. Is retail the next industry to be radically broken down and reformed, like media was in the 2000s?
  3. How will peer-to-peer networking affect retail?
  4. What will the entrenched players do?
  5. What are the new types of businesses (or business models) that mobile will enable in retail?
  6. What happens when we carry all of our loyalty cards in our phones, instead of our wallets?
  7. When will we stop doing the same old things with mobile? (e.g coupons => MOBILE coupons … yawn)
  8. Who will be the new types of industry players?
  9. Will other mobile providers catch up with the mindshare of the iPhone?
  10. What new mobile apps are on the horizon?

Thanks again.  Seeya in Austin.

Coming up on 9/9: Is it possible for organizations to let go and still maintain control?

Ok, I'm really excited about this one, as a part of the work I've been being with Kevin Werbach and the team over at http://www.supernovahub.com .

On September 9 at 11:30am PDT / 2:30pm EDT, join us for a
conversation on how the Network Age enables organizations and leaders
to let go while still maintaining control. Scheduled participants
include Altimeter Group’s Charlene Li, Deborah Schultz, Jeremiah
Owyang, and Ray Wang.

Here are the details and backgrounds of the participants.

Web and chat: http://tobtr.com/s/682282

Call-in Number: (347) 945-6578

When: Wednesday September 9, 2:30 pm  EDT / 11:30 am PDT

Charlene Li is the founder of the Altimeter Group and the co-author
of the bestselling book “Groundswell: Winning In A World Transformed by
Social Technologies”

Deborah Schultz architected the Procter & Gamble Social Media
Lab to study the impact of the social web on customer relationships and
the business benefits of “open innovation” and is a member of P&G’s
Digital Advisory Board.

Jeremiah Owyang has more than a decade of experience counseling
companies on how to leverage emerging technologies to communicate with
customers. He was the online community manager at Hitachi Data Systems
and director of corporate strategy at PodTech and joined Altimeter
Group from Forrester Research where he advised and created research for
interactive marketers.

Ray Wang was named “Analyst of the Year” in both 2008 and 2009 and
has held posts with PeopleSoft, Oracle, Personify, Deloitte, and Ernst
& Young and Forrester Research.

Seeya there!