Brainstorming @ Google

Yesterday was the final day of the workshop in New York. This part of the workshop was executed in the office of Google (well, part of it). Many people were excited to go to this place, including myself. Don’t know exactly why that is. Could be that Google represents the ‘new’ business model regarding the interaction company/employee, or because we use it everyday?

What I do know is that Google pays a lot of attention to the well-being of the employee, or I should I say ‘well-feeling’ since so many candy bars freely available might hinder your well-being at a certain moment. They give the employees the idea that ‘work’ and ‘play’ can be combined, no doubt hoping that the employees are more productive and/or make longer working days. The latter is no doubt the case, although I also believe that New Yorkers in general make their fair amount of hours on the workspace.

The offices are well designed, combing modern elements with the old elements of the building. There is food everywhere, varying from candies to sushi. People may eat and drink for free. There is writing on the walls and it all looks a bit campus-like. Which is intentionally, so I’ve heared.

After the meeting we had a short tour around the premises (thanks Lisa, I know you’re reading this).

For the last day Kevin Colleran, Director of Media Sales and Employee Number 8 at Facebook joined the team of Experts. Kevin had some interesting facts about Facebook (now number 1 social network in the world, having 92 million subscribers and growing with some 400,000 per day) and a jaw-dropping presentation of one of the new features (see later post). I did a short interview with Kevin, and hopefully I can put that online as soon as possible (needed to borrow somebody else’s camera. Mine broke, remember?)

After a good dinner in what was for me the most chique Chinese restaurant I’ve ever been in we spent some time absorbing cocktails in a dito club somewhere high up on a terrace overlooking the city. Well deserved for all the people involved I think.

Afya Serengeti Project – episode 2

I am glad to announce the second episode of the video series The Afya Serengeti Project. As you probably know, the Afya Serengeti Project deals with the prevention of rabies in and around the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania. This research group, lead by Sarah Cleaveland, has demonstrated that rabies, a terrible and lethal disease that can affect all mammals (yes, including people), can be prevented when you vaccinate all the dogs in the area. So, it’s about saving lives!

The video series gives you an impression how this vaccination team works. In this second episode Kaneja Ibrahim, one of the team members, shows us around the so called CDP House or Disease House. Here the team resides during the vaccination campaigns. Get to know them a little better and see what impact this work has on their personal lives, but also how dedicated they all are to make rabies a memory.

Hello from the Big Apple!

We usually start our US New Media trip with the intention to meet some celebrities. Last year we met Ryan and the Dorkman, kind of celebrities in the new media space, this year we wanted it to upper it a notch. So I met Leonardo DiCaprio in the plane. I was thinking to do a short interview with him about new media (after all, he was using a MacBook Pro) but I was too busy preparing myself for the upcoming workshop. Sorry Leo, may be next time.

I won’t dive too much into my first impressions of this amazing city called New York (we are not a traveling blog) but let me say that I think Peter Stuyvesant did a pretty lousy job giving the city away to the English in 1664. I can see why the workshop about innovation in communication is held in this trendy place.

It’s now 11 pm and I look back to an inspirational first day. We started off by introducing ourselves to the group. The group is split into two, a group of end users (the target audience) and a group of people who know a thing or two about digital media (the experts). What followed was a mapping of the digital media the young women are using on a daily basis (yes, I did take some notes since some of it was new to me) and other available tools brought in my the experts.

Obviously I can’t go into details about the outcome of these sessions but in general I observed that some of the new tools like Twitter for example were completely unknown and not seen as very relevant, and that reading books which they buy -of all places- in a bookstore (“since you can wander around there”) is still very popular. So may be this generation is not completely lost after all? ;-).

When you look at the overview, it’s really amazing what a modern human being has to deal with on a daily basis to get all the information he or she wants. We identified 19 media touch points, and I’m sure this list is not complete. 

In the second half of the day we brainstormed about ideas based on these digital media touch points, trying to relate that to the marketing of a pharmaceutical product. These ideas were later presented to the target group who could score the ideas. Interesting to see that augmented reality was scored quite high.

Like I said, it was inspirational. It’s a special experience to be in a group and talk about digital/new/social media where everybody is on the same level. A lot of geeky talk about new iPhone apps, the newest and coolest website technologies but also about the social implications of social media on society and the never ending discussion about privacy and the internet (always interesting if someone from Google participates in the discussion).

Gave a lot, learned a lot. A fair balance of this first day. Tomorrow we’re heading to the Google offices for the final part of the workshop. Need to buy a new camera too, since I realized that the internal mechanism can not handle a 1 meter drop on a wooden floor…

US, here we come!

Passport, credit card, ticket, some clothes, camera, mic… It seems that I’m set to start one of the most interesting trips in my career as a New Media entrepeneur. First I fly to New York where I participate in a small expert group discussion of one of our clients to brainstorm about the use of new (social) media in the marketing of one of their products. They have collected a truly remarkable group of people and it is the intention to come up with some innovative concepts. The session will be moderated by CScout, a company specialized in trendwatching. Google is one of the participants as well, and to create a ‘stimulating’ environment we’re going to have one day of the session in the Google office… (I wanna have a step too!)

Next I stay a few days in New York to buy some hardware …I mean, do some sightseeing.

On Monday I fly to Vegas for the annual Podcast and New Media Expo. René will arrive the next day and before Mieke arrives on Wednesday we’ve already been in all the exciting attractions (sorry Mieke, but we’ll go twice if we have to).

The big thing starts on Thursday, all the way through Saturday. The program really looks compelling and we claim sponge Bob our hero again (yes, we do absorb the most knowledge when we’re sitting on the first row).

After the New Media Expo René hurries home to dive into the dipers again, and Mieke and I are heading East to visit some of the most beautiful places on Earth (apart from Boxmeer, that is). This however has nothing to do with new media, so we just call it ‘holiday’…

Keep an eye on our blog since we intend to post a lot, or follow me on Twitter.

Bye for now!

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