René Seifert

Entrepreneur, Global Citizen, Flat World, Internet, Web 2.0, Innovation, Start-Up

Archive for the 'Media' Category

New Venture: MillionMiles Media launches aMillionLives.com

For more than half a year I have been really busy creating something new. Today, I am proud to announce that I started a new venture MillonMiles Media Ltd. and we just went live with our really cool flagship site aMillionLives.com. And, yes, we have a Facebook Fanpage, too, where I like if you like ;-) In case you want to read our „official press release“, it’s here for download.

aMillionLives.com

Let me explain here on my blog in a bit more of a conversational tone what we are up to. We are global publishing network writing stuff that matters for our life, in particular the various lives of each of us. You might be familiar with Edward de Bono’s concept of the various hats we should put on during decision making. Similarly, on a broader perspective in one’s life somebody might be a teacher by profession, have a family with a lovely wife raising two kids. But there is more to life than the obvious on the surface: This human being might be an avid guitar player, enjoys going for a hike in the mountains and really love his food. That same person will find help, advise and entertainment for his various lives like in a magazine as a teacher, spouse, parent, musician, naturelover and foodie. Check out our overview of all the lives we are writing for.

aMillionLives.com

Here’s the deal with „global“ for our publishing network. I’ve been living and working in various continents for the last years where I dare to say that I have a fairly good understanding how to assemble a business that brings together the best pieces from each part of the world. Our company is incorporated in London (U.K.), a big chunk of our operation runs out of Bangalore (India) with an international team, the design for aMillionLives.com has been done in Poland, our writers hail from India, the Philippines. Our users as we know from our logfiles appreciate our content from all over the world, the U.S. running with 60 % at the forefront.

aMillionLives.com

Where does the name MillionMiles Media (MMM) come from? Two simple explanations: I was looking, no surprise, for something that sounds somehow cool and has „Media“ at the end. If you check out every freaking word on this earth in combination with „Media“ at the end, the domain is taken by some filthy domain-grabber. So extending the query to two prefix-words, landed me with MMM. Second, I liked it because last year with all my travelling I had crossed the mark of a million miles in my frequent flyer programme.

aMillionLives.com

Yep, that’s my news of the day. Happy about every feedback, good or bad, sympathetic or just pathetic. If you like our Fanpage on Facebook or moreover, place a link from your blog or site to aMillionLives.com, I’ll include you in my evening prayers – hands duly folded. Promised.

My personal Farewell: Michael Jackson’s „This is It“

It was a movie I just had to see. So I took the opportunity during my journey through Switzerland for a cinema-adventure last night in Zürich’s newly built Siehlcity. Watching „This is It“ was a bit of my personal farewell for an artist I had always adored throughout my youth and whom I came closer at one occasion than I ever thought.

It was in 1998 that I was head of marketing of Bavaria’s popular radio station Bayern 3 and Michael Jackson was about to come to town. Young and creative as our station used to be, we sat together and cooked up an idea how to make this visit very special – both for Michael and ourselves. So we came up with the „Michael Jackson Welcome Party“ in front of the Hotel Bayerischer Hof where MJ always used to stay. At that time my boss, now a good friend of mine, Rainer Tief spearheaded the initiative, my role lay in proper execution. As we announced this „party“ on-air, reaching more than a million listeners a day, we rightly expected a huge turn-out, so we had to organize everything to the T.

I negotiated with the City of Munich to circumnavigate a streetcar whose rails went straight through the venue, have sufficient police in place, make the hotel management comfortable with the idea (which they were not at all in the beginning), organize a broadcasting van and get our brand-banners and promotion teams in place. We did not get any commitment from MJ’s management about his involvement, so the square crammed with fans and us radio-guys just stood there and waited.

Then all of a sudden a motorcade rolled up, Michael jumped out of his black limousine, visibly delighted about this warm welcome, when our Bavarian brass band started to play one of his great hits. Michael Jackson has a blast, he wouldn’t stop parading the little sealed-off area for his security up and down, shake hands with his fans. He passed my location in maybe one meter distance and I was surprised that he was taller than he looked on TV and not surprised that his face in close-up looked like a mask.

My colleagues and me were all in arms about this gig, Michael went up to his room when he suddenly demanded a microphone in order to speak to his fans. We were well prepared, let the management hand him over a mic with the logo of our station when Michael appeared on the window and asked „stop the filthy press from spreading all these lies.“ This came at a time when the rumours of having inappropriate contact with underage boys started to spread.

Be it as it was, this is not the moment to be apologetic or raise accusations. I believe everything in this matter has been said. Certainly, if you take the time to watch the very worthwhile interview-documentary „Living with Michael Jackson“ (part 1 to 9 on YouTube), one can’t resist he impression that MJ was a complete weirdo who till his end never left Neverland Ranch – as a metaphor for constructing his own little dream world which did not bear much resemblance with reality.

Yet, as an artist I saw him twice live in concert in my native town Munich. Before and after I have never witnessed a singer, dancer, performer and entertainer like him who would create a „reality distortion field“ during his two hour show and leave the audience in a collective state of awe. His last appearance in „This is It“ gives you a glimpse of his undiminished abilities.

I had to remind myself every little now and then during the movie that this man dancing and singing on stage was 50 years old. In spite of his age and 10 years of concert-pause, he expelled the same grace and elegance in his dance-moves as he did when I saw the video „Billie Jean“ for the first time. Interesting also to see how MJ treated his team with a lot of respect and himself with uncompromising, humble perfectionism

This footage material from his rehearsal, which was never supposed to see the light of day to this extent, is an amazing last legacy of the greatest entertainers I will have witnessed in my lifetime. With „This is It“ the final curtain falls not just on the star and the human being behind the „King of Pop“, but for me personally marks a dignified good-bye to someone I have grown-up with.

RiP, Michael.

Inauguration: Wipro Netbooks for Vatsalya – connected

We could only get here together. Today was with fullest honesty one of the happiest days of my life. When I started to conceive this project, I had a remote idea of how the picture of its accomplishment would look like. It would look like this.

Highlight: The Girls' first access to the Netbooks

All the pictures of the inauguration here on my Flickr-set. Today we solemnly celebrated in the traditional Indian way the inauguration of something new. This novelty felt like two well crafted pieces of a puzzle came together to form a harmonious whole. One the one side, the phenomenal preparation of the Vatsalya team with setting up the room, installing broadband internet connection and putting tables with chairs in place. From the other side the delivery and installation of the Wipro netbooks. Plug and play. And it just worked. Connected to the internet, connected to view through this window of the word. From Bangalore to anywhere. Therefore, to symbolize these limitless possibilities, I set Wikipedia in English as the home page on each of the 12 browsers.

Hand-Over of Netbooks: Vatsalya Orphanage

We started out in the afternoon with some more technical installation by Sumanth and Arvind. Thanks for taking time out and supporting us with your technology expertise.

Run-up to the Inauguration

It was a special pleasure for me to have my good friend Dirk Schornstein back in Bangalore, also one of the donors for the charity, who couldn’t resist the call from his first visit in December last year when the girls told him for good bye “Come back, Uncle!”. He kept his promise and brought a present which the girls had wished for: The entire collection of Harry Potter in the children’s edition.

Run-up to the Inauguration

Indians truly understand how to elevate such an event onto a spiritual level so that it is perceived and will be remembered as something special. The girls started to get more and more exited …

Run-up to the Inauguration

… when at 4.30 pm we cut the ribbon …

Cutting the Ribbon: Wipro Netbooks for Vatsalya

… and lit the holy light with offerings to the God Ganesha, prayers and chanting by the children.

Lighting the Fire: Inauguration

Then nothing could stop the girls, always in groups of 12, to sit down on the chair in front of the computers and put their little fingers for the first time in their lives onto the touchpads and see the pointer move on the screen in front of them. I will never forget their genuine joy and curiosity.

Highlight: The Girls' first access to the Netbooks

I am extremely happy to share these impressions with everybody who contributed to this project, dedicated money, time and moreover trust. In the hope not to forget anybody:

  • The 28 donors around the world who laid the indispensable financial ground.
  • The Vatsalya-team, my dear neighbour and almost sister Shashi as well as the entire board of the association who relentlessly pushed ahead from their side.
  • Wipro for the generous discount of the netbooks and its exemplary professionalism and reliability in each and every step of the process.
  • Petra (=”Petzi”) who did invaluable research work with project coordination along with her husband Jürgen.
  • And last, but not least, the 50 girls from the Vatsalya Children’s Home. Your yearning for a future provided me the momentum forward.

To all of you: This is your day. Thank you.

One week of Friends and Food in California

Posting these foodie-fresh memories from a week in the Bay Area after a short connecting stop in Munich from the airport lounge. As always it’s been tremendously inspiring being over there, once for the Search Engine Strategies (SES) Conference in San Jose, then the weekend in one of my favourite cities San Francisco. Here, by the way the picture set on Flickr (please forgive the many conference-slides).

San Jose

As it goes, an event or a city by itself has some value or charm respectively. However, what really matters is getting together with the right people who are inspiring, honest and fun, such that you really enjoy having food with them. And in that respect this visit was absolutely phenomenal, kind of “social media delivered” – in real life on your plate. Most of the people, admittedly, Germans. But never mind. We seem to be welcome:

Walk through San Francisco

So we had at the conference the “German Stammtisch” with Marcus Tober, Horst Joepen and Andi Schwabe when we decided to skip the second event-party with an estimated male-geek ratio of 94 % and rather head for San Francisco for dinner. The side effect: male-geek ratio of stunning 100 %! Still we felt that the trip was deserved, as I dare to use the rare expression of food being “disgusting”, what it truly was at the SES with one and the same selection of abysmal junk food every day served on plastic plates with plastic cutlery.

Glad that the guys followed my recommendation to go to Morton’s in Post Street where you’ll get the biggest, largest and most obscene steaks in this world. Best is having them “Medium Rare Plus” and given the size of the meat being frugal with the side dishes like mashed potatoes. Also a must at Morton’s is the warm chocolate cake which has to be ordered together with the main dish as it takes time to create. When arrives with its inner core being warm it literally melts in your mouth to “death by chocolate”. It tastes as if invented by and for little angels.

Dinner with German Stammtisch in San Francisco

After the conference, on Friday if first headed south on Highway 101 to the Gilroy Factory Oulet to meet my former boss from Lycos, now friend Dirk Lüth who just moved over to the Valley with his family to start an exciting company in the Enterprise 2.0-space. Always held Dirk in highest regard for his smart, focused and at the same time easy-going manner.

Dirk Lüth and Me at Gilroy Factory Outlet

Not saying this, because he bought me lunch in this really honest American restaurant-chain Applebee’s. Overall, I can really recommend this factory outlet to find great deals on otherwise expensive brands.

When I “moved over” to San Francisco, I enjoyed as always staying in the stylish Clift Hotel with its unique Bar “Redwood Room“. On Friday, Thomas Bindl took me along with his travel companion Billy Brüggemann to meet his SEO-friends Frank Watson from New York and Todd Malicoat from San Francisco. We were headed to Tataki in Pacific Heights. Sushi in this little cosy place was really good there. After that I went straight back to the hotel where I fell into a deep jetlag-coma-sleep – no Propofol required.

On Saturday, I met my tall German friend Sören Stamer for lunch who got married to his charming American wife, Heidi, recently and moved to SFO a few weeks ago. We had some solid salad with shrimps & crab at Pier 23 where we passionately discussed the economics of abundance in the digital age and the value of this ever-scarce thing called human attention.

Lunch with Sören Stamer at Pier 23

The evening started with a sundowner with a breathtaking panorama on the Bay Bridge from the 39th floor at Marriott’s “The View” with Marcus Tober and Jens Brechmann.

Sundowner in "The View"

For dinner, I followed the advise of Sören to check out a really cool place “Blowfish Sushi”. The taxi ride there turned out to be an unexpected highlight when the Jamaican taxi driver made it a point to explain how “2 out of 3 men in San Francisco are gay” and therefore he was “having sex with elder ladies between 50 to 60 years who are desperate, because they can’t get anyone” and who after the accomplished act wrote him a cheque. “And if they don’t write me a cheque, I never come back to them.”

Blowfish Sushi in South of Mission turned out to be a unique hit, both from the deco with wild Manga-comics on the walls, but equally from the creative standpoint of the chef. The restaurant really managed to re-invent sushi, yet still respecting its very roots. So one would get sushi-rolls with fish, meat, vegetables, yummy dressing and altogether spiced up.

Blowfish Sushi in San Francisco

While Marcus and Jens headed back to the hotel, I went for a final drink to Rickhouse, a new bar in the Financial District to catch up with Auren Hoffman after the Menorca TechTalk. Auren’s parents were in town and so he proved to be a good boy for first heading out only when they were in bed and second to get home not to late so that his Mum wouldn’t worry ;-)

Yesterday, on a lazy and sunny Sunday, I finished my trip with a visit to the International Orange Spa in Fillmore Street. The therapist did a phenomenal job in providing a heavenly massage. Best prerequisite for meeting Heidi & Sören, who happen to the same place for yoga, for Oysters at the Ferry Building.

Embarcadero in San Francisco

Then it was time to head to the airport, upgraded myself with eVouchers to First Class where the food-festival continued. But more importantly, enabled me to have a night of good sleep in the plane before continuing my trip back to India. And I am sure, they will have something little to eat for me there as well …

Global India Meeting in Munich: Reception and Gala Dinner

It’s been an honour to participate a new high-calibre event about India, the Global India Business Meeting. Even more so as the event takes place in my hometown Munich which is on top of that highlighting India’s State of Karnataka in whose capital Bangalore I have been living for the last 5 years. Somehow my little personal „globalisation delivered“. The organizer is Horasis („The Global Visions Company“) chaired by Frank Richter whom I met for the first time some 9 months back for a breakfast in the legendary Taj Mahal Hotel in Mumbai.

Frank Richter, CEO Horasis and Host

The quality of conversations was stunning yesterday during the reception an Munich’s Residence, followed by a gala dinner in the “Emperor’s Hall”. (Here‘s the entire picture set on Flickr from last night’s event. )

Gala Dinner in the "Emperor's Hall" at the Residence

In his dinner speech Anand Sharma, the Indian Minister for Commerce and Industry, pointed out how far we’ve come with globalization where India in the meanwhile is investing more in Germany than Germany in India with 123 Indian companies being present in Germany.

Gala Dinner in the "Emperor's Hall" at the Residence

At the same time he emphasized the challenge of his country to produce inclusive growth where the 7 % GDP increment would benefit also the majority of people in his country who are still living at the poverty line. Mr. Sharma made it a point to transcend this necessity to all countries in the world that are facing similar fundamentals as India.

During dinner I had a mind-tickling conversation with my table-neighbour Gunjan Sinha, serial entrepreneur from India who has been living in the Silicon Valley for the last 20 years.

Gunjan Sinha, my table neighbour at Gala Dinner

His latest company Metric Stream is into providing a software-solution that allows for a 360-degree bottom-up approach in risk management for companies. So we spoke a lot about my currently favourite topics of the predictable, the unpredictable, the Black Swan (beneficial or catastrophic) and how little even big companies are nowadays are able to think, let alone act within these categories.

During coffee I talked to Infosys’ CEO Kris Gopalakrishnan about the recession and how it’s impacting his company (“it been tougher but we are still hiring”) and about his predecessor Nandan Nilekani’s move into the Indian Government to introduce the digital National Identity Card. “That hasn’t been easy for us, but given the importance of the cause for the nation, it is the right decision”, Mr. Gopalakrishnan said. Here a picture at the end of the evening with him, my friend Suhas Gopinath from Bangalore and me (no, I am not standing on anything ;-)

Kris Gopalakrishnan, Rene Seifert and Suhas Gopinath

MenorcaTechTalk: Lasting Impressions from the Farm

Back in India, the mental dust has settled after those four days of amazing conversations on Martin Varsavky’s farm for the MenorcaTechTalk. Besides being hyper-inspiring with plenty of take-away value to be put into action, I found it at least as interesting as a sort of „social experiment“.

Menorcatechtalk: Day 2 ending

Bring around 60 fantastic people together on a farm, have almost no structure (apart from the „official“ 4-hour session on Friday afternoon), have bikes and a quad ready for usage, let people hang out on the pool, take them on the sailing boat and see what happens.

Menorcatechtalk: On the Boat

Even more so, put people – who would usually stay in chic hotels – and have them share a simple but honest room and then see what happens.

Menorcatechtalk: Shared Room

Interestingly, much more than if you met the same people over the same period of time on a conference where you get conversations of the type “I am the XYZ from soandso and we are the number 1 in thisandthat). In Menorca, it was quite different, because people open up in a completely new way on the personal level, which then also transcends to the “professional conversations”, or even more so, makes the distinction between the two obsolete. (By the way, my entire picture-set under Creative Commons-license here on Flickr.)

Menorcatechtalk: Open Session

On another note, the event confirmed my discovery that dressing-down is directly proportional to better results in a team-setting. (Maybe investment bankers should also relax and start coming in shorts and flip-flops to work to prevent them from final extinction …) Martin is in that context clearly “leading by example” himself with our host’s take on the event on his blog.

Menorcatechtalk: Open Session

It certainly helped that this brief formal part allowed every participant who wished to give a maximum 5 minute-talk which had to conclude with a tangible problem. This kind of anchoring allowed the other participants afterwards to start a meaningful conversation about how to solve the problem whereby the communication usually took extremely interesting and unpredicted routes.

Picture courtesy of Rodrigo SEPÚLVEDA SCHULZ

I introduced my latest project “OLPC for the Vatsalya-Orphanage” asking for sharing of experience how to structure charity in general as well as best practises in fundraising, performance-metrics and how to avoid the traps of diluting focus and/or as over-investing. Very concretely, I got three very interesting contacts referred where I started to interact with. (And by the way, two days back, I was able to close the round of funding.)

One of the most mind-blowing presentations came from Isaac Shpantzer who presented a new technology, which allows for the transmission of broadband internet via laser. Yes, laser. The concept: A laser-beam in the blue spectrum (therefore also suitable during daylight) is beamed vertically into the sky and carries the digital information where the 1s and 0s are transformed through some “language” into light.

Menorcatechtalk: Open Session

Because of the earth’s atmosphere, the laser beam begins to scatter. Now: Whoever is located in the line of sight of the upper part of the laser (where it scatters) and has a signaling-device installed e.g. behind his window is able to exchange data. The technology is fully bi-directional and allows for a dedicated bandwidth per household of up to 100 MBit/sec. If only 50 % of this concept became feasible at reasonable economics, I bet that it will fundamentally impact the backend-infrastructure of internet-connectivity.

Besides such food for thought, the food for real was absolutely stunning with an ever changing variety of dishes over the days. (I could still kick myself that I had to leave too early on Sunday and miss the Asado.) But for sure, I got a fair share of this paella:

Menorcatechtalk: La Paella

Thank you very much Martin and Nina, for your kind invitation and putting this event with lasting impressions together. The atmosphere, the networking, the fun and especially the bonding were unparalleled. Thanks also to Matias and Eva for the perfect organization and their ever-sunny-mood for – as a Germany proverb goes – “herding a sack of fleas”.

Glad to be a TEDster: India Event in November

Last week got the lucky mail that I got accepted to TED, in my opinion one of the finest organizations these days to make a change for the better to our world. Under the claim “Ideas worth Sharing”, smart minds with a good heart get together to discuss concepts that are often extremely bold, yet possible to achieve only through a joint effort. Projects which are independent from governmental politics and for profit interests, from their approach moreover deeply democratic. Whoever decides to buy into an idea and support it, can do so. If many do so, chances are that that the bold objective might turn into a new reality.

So far I have watched the many TED-talks (Technology, Entertainment, Design) “free to the world” mostly on the treadmill in the gym through my iPod Touch, always inspired by the rigor of reason applied to the concepts, its fabulous storytelling and admiration of the creative human mind. Hence, I feel deeply humbled and honoured to be able to participate in that crowd live. The first event I will take part in is – suprise, surprise – TED India, in fact from November 4th to 7th 2009 in Mysore, around 80 km northwest from Bangalore on the legendary Infosys campus.

TED India

What I also liked are the terms of participation which one has to opt-into and which couldn’t be any clearer:

I understand that those who attend TED do so in a spirit of curiosity, open-mindedness, respect and tolerance, thereby enabling constructive conversation and allowing TED speakers to be more open than they might otherwise be. I confirm that I will respect these values, and will abide by the conference rules. I also understand that the atmosphere at TED is appropriate for high-level relationship-building, not salesmanship. I confirm I will not use my TED attendance to aggressively pitch my company, organization, products or services to other attendees.

It reminds me a bit of our non-solicitation policy at the Entrepeneurs Organization (EO). There is nothing more damaging to building a trustful relationship that if you have to suspect that the person opposite is only talking to you with a hidden agenda for the sake of selling you his crap.

Till then, I will continue watching the talks on my iPod as well as developping a little project further which I actually picked up from TED. Happy to make an announcement soon here on my blog. Else, please let me know if you are coming to TED India as well so we can connect already ahead of the event along the lines of the conference’s motto “The Future beckons”.

Kulturempfehlungen.de ist live

Web 2.0 macht vor keiner Nische halt. Jetzt wird auch die Hochkultur davon überrollt bzw. davon aufgerollt, und zwar mit einer neuen Plattform Kulturempfehlungen.de

kulturempfehlungen.de

Wie der Name schon suggeriert, dreht sich alles um Kultur, und zwar in der ganzen Spannweite von Musik, Literatur und Film. Wie ich auch gut unterrichteten Kreisen erfahren habe, wird demnächst auch Kunst, Design, Architektur und Bühne hinzukommen.

Eine erste Vorauswahl wird von der Redaktion getroffen, dann macht die Community weiter und kann CDs, Bücher und Filme bewerten und empfehlen.

Leadership Forum: How NASSCOM just doesn’t get 2.0

After the gala dinner “Salaam Mumbai” on Friday night, I made my way to the airport and had a relaxed night flight with Swiss Airline to Zürich where incidentally Rattan Tata was two seats away from me. The landscape here couldn’t pose a bigger contrast to the previous three days in hot and humid Mumbai. On the snow covered slopes of St. Moritz (Switzerland) I found some time and focus to reflect on the conference.

Piz Nair (3057 m) in St. Moritz

These three days at the NASSCOM India Leadership Forum 2009 have – like my previous two attendances – been tremendously inspiring with phenomenal speakers like John Chambers (CEO of Cisco) as the starter and management guru C.K. Prahalad for the grand finale. Moreover, and that’s what I love deeply in Indian culture, if you know on Day 1 some people, on Day 3 you will know many people thanks to the cordial introductions which those some will make for you to the many. The strong impression which the evening events left on me, is the result of a long-term effort putting these choreographies for the shows with all the awards and dancers together. All fine, and I am quite sure I will attend next year again, that’s for the red cross in the calendar February 9th to 11th 2010.

Yet, and that’s where it really loses me, that in spite of the professional organization of the event, India’s IT-industry association NASSCOM simply doesn’t get it what this beast Web 2.0 or Communication 2.0 or Innovation 2.0 or however you want to name it, is about. Ironically, the two top-speakers I mentioned above where teaching and preaching how it works, what it means and how it positively impacts the outreach of an organization. Specifically, C.K. Prahalad mentioned in his talk that he sees a huge opportunity to consult companies in “social architecture”. NASSCOM should be the first customer.

So in my perception, NASSCOM is still stuck in the mindset: “Uuups, there is this something called Facebook, Twitter, Web 2.0 – and we have to do something with it.” The result: Applying the old mindset (which again Prof. Prahalad was pointing out as the biggest obstacle) onto these platforms and forcing the existing command & control structures of its organizations on these platforms. And it just hurts, because it just doesn’t work this way and thereby gets stuck in the old format (sorry for the blurred quality of the pic).

C.K. Prahalad: Impediments for Innovations

Examples:

  • NASSCOM is running “a blog”, hu-ha-hu a blog, how fancy does this sound with a few “bloggers” writing for it here and identifying themselves on the event with a badge “NASSCOM – I’m blogging” plus some through the audacity to have their hair grown over the tip of their ears. Nothing to object, but this has nothing at all to do with blogging. What NASSCOM in fact does, it hires a few people as editors, thereby controlling the message and pushing it “out to the world”. I wonder if the world cares when the oracle has spoken. (When I got the offer by Avinash Raghava from NASSCOM to “get an account also write for us”, I politely declined. I prefer to write what I think on my own blog.)
  • NASSCOM in on Twitter, check out what came out in the last three days of the conference under http://twitter.com/nilf2009: It’s nothing but pushing one-directionally micro-links of these same messages out. Moreover, using the account name NILF2009 carries a fundamental and obvious flaw: It terms that NASSCOM easily understands, it’s simply not “scalable” as for 2010, 2011 etc. there have to be a new accounts over and over again with losing all the old followers and starting from zero. If I was a cynic, I could argue: With the 36 follower at the time of writing no harm done. Note by the way, the absence of NASSCOM’s interest in conversing by only following back 10 people.

NILF 2009 Twitter

  • NASSCOM has set up a community “Emerge” of its own using CollectiveX to have its members and the delegates respectively interact on that platform beyond the face-to-face meetings. So far absolutely a right move. Yet, it stops exactly there as the old mindset dictates that one must own, control and monopolize the conversation. This platform is not bad at all, but it is not exactly the comfort that Facebook offers. So where is the Facebook-group of the conference where there are not just the better features for interaction, but more importantly where EVERYBODY is already around. When I asked new acquaintances on the conference after receiving their business cards if they were on Facebook, in 80 percent the answer was “yes”.
  • NASSCOM is taping all of the keynotes and most of the panels on video. Why in this world is there no channel on YouTube to put these treasures out? The same applies to the presentations where NASSCOM-president Som Mittal mentioned at the very end that most of them will be available for download. Thank you very much, had I known that before I would have not written my fingers off with taking notes. Just see this slide from John Chamber’s presentation on YouTube’s impact on his organization.

Cisco YouTube-Usage

  • NASSCOM, and that brings me to the last point, is acting in an era of connectedness entirely disconnected in all the separate, distinct and isolated silos of activity. The moderately talented moderator who regularly stumbles in just presenting what the presenter is going to present is of little help either in that context. Where are these closed feedback loops of someone qualified on stage continuously bring the pieces together?

But let’s take a step back and not get stuck in doing the same mistake of bashing single flaws here and simple formats there, but re-draw the big picture of what this all is about: It’s about providing the delegates with a profound and sustainable experience of the event in terms of learning, connecting and participating. Beyond that, the message should get out of the “echo chamber” and travel as far and as fast as possible to anybody who could be a relevant stakeholder. As part of a communication strategy, NASSCOM perfectly includes the press in the process. But here the story ends. Where NASSCOM entirely fails, is getting real word-of-mouth out by engaging into a CONVERSATION. A conversation by definition requires at least the same amount of listening as much as of talking yourself.

Attend a conference of O’Reilly like the upcoming Web 2.0 Expo in San Francisco next month (I will be there, too) and you see how it can be done differently by pulling all levers and connecting them. Attendants can twitter questions upfront which the moderator will use for his interview, he will suggest tags for pics and videos which will be uploaded etc. Furthermore, the conference organizers will invite impartial bloggers equal to traditional press which will, of course, write on their own blogs. The official conference-bloggers would read them, link to them, comment, retort, put things straight or, clearly, ignore trolls who are just out there for parasitic attention.

Or, visit the DLD-Conference in Munich where I moderated two panels a fortnight ago: There is a dedicated video-channel with all the panels. Also, from the organizers’ communication team someone will constantly watch what is being twittered in order to make improvements of the event “on the fly”.

Overall, if NASSCOM is serious about its efforts to move up the value chain towards products, it would require some colourful “Gondalization”, named after my friend Vishal Gondal from Indiagames, who won this year’s NASSCOM India Innovation Award for evangelizing his service in a novel way. Vishal was not the only one to wear an orange T-shirt in the dark ocean of seriousness. What is more, he has fully understood how Communication 2.0 works, he is a real blogger who has a tremendous network to leverage upon. This includes that NASSCOM would have to deal with posts like his Why Wipro, Infosys and TCS are “The Axis of Evil” for Indian start-up space which has garnered 120 comments. One of the major properties of Communication 2.0 is the ability to let go and have the network do the work from amplifying to correcting the message.

CIMG4308

It’s not about if Vishal in right in all he writes, or if I went too far with criticism in this post. That would be missing the point which John Chambers got so right as the bracket for this keynote: “If you agree in all I say, I have failed.” But listening to it from a position of equals is the starting point for a true conversation.

“Slumdog Millionaire”: Best Fiction ever set in India

It couldn’t have been more authentic. After sitting sitting in Bangalore’s well organized INOX-cinema at Garuda Mall, it was after midnight that I stepped out of the theatre and into the empty streets of Bangalore. For the first time in 5 years that I watched any Indian movie, after seeing Slumdog Millionaire, I had this feeling of “this is so real.”

Sure, the narrative is fiction, I loved the book by Vikas Swarup already, but the way the movie is set into India is a cinematic and cultural masterpiece. The director Danny Boyle has accomplished the herculean task of studying Mumbai, India and their people in such detail before coming up with this perfect representation.

When I wached the scenes set in Mumbai with its buzzing streets, crowds of people, views of the Dharavi slum which I had seen so many times for real, it sent a shiver down my spine. Yes, torture at Mumbai’s police is commonplace. Yes, there are sleazy underworld dons, of bigger and smaller calibre, like depicted in the film. And yes, the way how the characters interact, from the game-show to the streets reminds me of watching uncountable conversations in my host country.

It’s together with Gandhi the best movie ever set in the subcontinent which appeals to a global audience. Well deserved that it has won aleady acclaimed awards and has been nominated for 10 Oscars.

Exactly that, conversely, could be the reason that the movie has been received with criticism from the incumbent Indian movie industry, more commonly known as “Bollywood”. Especially, its Godfather, Grand Seigneur and Eternal Hero Amitabh Batchan has his own view:

If Slumdog Millionaire projects India as a third-world, dirty, underbelly developing nation and causes pain and disgust among nationalists and patriots, let it be known that a murky underbelly exists and thrives even in the most developed nations. It’s just that the Slumdog Millionaire idea, authored by an Indian and conceived and cinematically put together by a westerner, gets creative global recognition.

Deep down in such a statements lies Bollywood’s innate inferiority complex. Although churning out more films per year than Hollywood, the international community has still refused to acknowledge the outcome as serious cinema. If you ever watched one, then you will certainly not be surprised. Apart from the colourful dancing scenes, which by themselves tend to raise eyebrows, if one had one wish it would be having one’s brain temporarily amputated. Only then it would be no issue to follow the non-existent plot over 3 hours and suffer from characters who are their own caricatures – at best.

Therefore, receiving such a remark from Mr. Bachan, should prove to be the ultimate accolade for one of the best movies. It is in some way also a piece of art which drives globalization forward and is set in an environment which even 5 years ago would have been considered irrelevant for broader appeal. If you’ve never been to India, the movie will for sure delight you. If you’ve visited India before, the experience will in addition evoke memories with oscillating emotions.

(Not sure if I can keep up writing this week, will be off to Mumbai tomorrow for the Nasscom Leadership Forum, fly directly to Zurich and hope to stand on the skiing-slope of St. Moritz on Saturday noon. Have a great week, anyway.)

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