November 2010

So I guess Tron was the pretty much the first film to tell of how a person went into a digital world completed a quest and then returned to the real world. If you know of any other others let me know.

For the launch of our client’s ePrint product we played with this concept firstly using architectural mapping to create an augmented reality display at the South Bank . We then tried to create play with some of the TRON: Legacy imagery to create a visual experience that could be both printed and posted onto the web.

The idea was to highlight how the web is not just encroaching into the external world  but creating links back and forth using wireless printing and posting to social networks. The ‘outernet’ is a phenomena still in it’s infancy but it is certainly fun to investigate. _ABU9234, 9234

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You can’t have missed the furor surrounding Wikileaks’ publishing of security cables. The thing is, do we – the public – benefit from this? Yes, there may be a certain amount of justification and interest around the close relationship and extravagant gifts exchanged between Putin and Berlusconi, but how is it of benefit to publicise the fact that Arab leaders are privately urging an air strike on Iran? In such a volatile environment, is transparency always preferable? For security and intelligence services, where do you draw the line between disclosure and the need for confidentiality? Do we believe that every element of government should be conducted in public view?

Wikileaks has made the cables available to the Guardian and four other news organisations: the New York Times, Der Spiegel in Germany, Le Monde in France and El País in Spain. All five plan to publish extracts from the most significant cables, but have decided neither to dump the entire dataset into the public domain, nor to “publish names that would endanger innocent individuals”. WikiLeaks also says it also initially intends to post only limited cable extracts, and to redact identities. Thing is, are any of these organizations qualified to assess what will or will not trigger reaction or endanger individuals/groups/economies? What is their basis for assessment and judgement? Will all media conform to the same restrictions?

  • The cables show the extent of US spying on its allies and the UN; turning a blind eye to corruption and human rights abuse in “client states”; backroom deals with supposedly neutral countries; lobbying for US corporations; and the measures US diplomats take to advance those who have access to them
  • This document release reveals the contradictions between the US’s public persona and what it says behind closed doors – and shows that if citizens in a democracy want their governments to reflect their wishes, they should ask to see what’s going on behind the scenes.
  • Every American schoolchild is taught that George Washington – the country’s first President – could not tell a lie. If the administrations of his successors lived up to the same principle, today’s document flood would be a mere embarrassment. Instead, the US Government has been warning governments — even the most corrupt — around the world about the coming leaks and is bracing itself for the exposures.[Wikileaks]

So the US does work behind closed-doors that contradicts public policy. Is this unique to the US or is it activity that’s mirrored by governments world-wide? The fact that this is US only means, to a certain extent, we’re listening to one side of a phone call, hearing one opinion. Would it have been safer if Wikileaks put out similar missives gleaned from UK, Chinese, French, Italian, Russian and Indian embassies? Would we have seen vastly different practices?

Personally, I don’t agree with the leak. Maybe I’m paranoid, but I still believe there’s a need for confidentiality and breaching it here has the potential to unsettle far more than US diplomatic communications processes.

You can read the Guardian splash, here, if you haven’t already.


There’s a lot of talk about ‘the Outerweb’ right now. It’s a great term and way of looking at what augmented reality, or “AR” might mean but I think it goes beyond this, and the clever people at TrendOne have encapsulated this as “the explosion of the internet into the real world.”

They go beyond a definition that refers to technology (mobile devices, in-windshield displays, etc.) that can overlay information from the Web on top of objects in the real world and look at how connections are occurring between devices data, video and social networks.

They highlight a contact lens technology that allows you to visualize the social networks another person may be accessing on their mobile device in quite scary manner. This is not just pointing your Phone up at a building, and getting an overlay of information about the building but rich levels of data links and connection between the digital and real world. This idea of an outernet is in truth a speculative idea right now. Indeed the idea of a web of things and the principles of the semantic web have been talked about for a long time without really happening.

Yet I feel there are a number of developments converging that will make the Outernet more likely; firstly the widespread deployment of the next generation of protocol IPV6 and it’s potential functionality is a major enabler, and importantly it’s ability to enable the mass connection of mobile devices.

Secondly the prevalence of video images again largely via mobile computing devices will make the connection of images with data highly desirable.

Lastly, and perhaps the biggest driver, is the spread of local based services, and social networks such as Four Square that connect to locations and the hyper local connections that are emerging in many urban areas. Added together these trends could well make the Outernet the next big thing.

So the term “outer Web” means the extension of the information outside the normal confines of broadband networks and into the real world, mainly via the screens of wirelessly-connected mobile devices. The outernet then is this idea taken further to include the connections and networks between computing devices within this mashed up world in many way shadowing the difference between the worldwideweb and the Internet itself.

What’s your call Outerweb or Outernet?

There’s a joke which does the rounds in my house quite regularly stemming from my housemate’s exclamation that she ‘sees the world through media eyes’. This punchy statement was made without a hint or irony but a lot of innocence, as a 16 year old after her first ever media studies lesson. Since then, it has been held up as point of ridicule which she frequently cringes at. My point is that whilst I wouldn’t want to be quite so Nathan Barley about it, working in PR I feel I do have an awareness of a brand’s attempts to target consumers. As a result, whilst I’m genuinely interested in advertising and PR campaigns, I can be a tad cynical about the impact they will have on me as a consumer and can’t remember the last time I was consciously aware of an advert affecting my behaviour. That was until last week, when I went out and bought something, inspired purely by seeing an ad campaign.

It was a humble packet of the mint with the hole, the Polo. Polo hadn’t launched anything new, it hadn’t rebranded, it hadn’t done anything to alter the product I’ve bought and enjoyed in the past. But I was compelled to switch from my usual chewing gum, to a packet of the mints.

The campaign which caught my attention was very simple, centred on the question ‘Are you a sucker or a cruncher?’ A little Googling uncovers that this campaign is the first big advertising push Polo has done for 10 years and is targeted at medium to light buyers which make-up 80% of their customer base. The campaign was ‘designed to focus on emotional reasons for buying the brand by re-establishing its quirky, fun and playful personality rather than the rational thought process of the need for fresh breath’.

I’d have to say that they achieved this. I was compelled to buy a packet because of the element of participation the campaign suggests. Was I a sucker or was I a cruncher? I wanted to find out.

A bit more searching uncovered a Facebook presence to back up the campaign. Fan pages were built to form communities of‘suckers’ and ‘crunchers’, each attracting around 28,000 fans. The pages show a relatively good level of engagement and are very active, but out of curiosity I thought I’d see how my usual breath freshener of choice faired on the old ‘book. Wrigleys Extra has over 140,000 fans.

But does this matter? From my point of view, the campaign succeeded at its most fundamental level of changing my buying habits. But the people behind the campaign wanted to rebuild an emotional attachment and building a community around the brand is an important route to making this work long term. Only Polo’s sales figures will really be able to answer this, but in this case did an old school tactic of simple advertising trump more modern routes to success? My guess would be that in the short term yes, but once the current ad campaign ends, the lack of a sizeable community of online fans to carry on the conversations may prove a disappointment.


When Ray Wang explains the thinking behind the newest analyst firm on the market, a few words are frequently used:

Disruption –  Experience – Research

These areas are at the crux of what Constellation Research is about and are probably the reasons why I believe that they will automatically be listed as a Tier One firm – something that is critical if they are to survive.


Ray clearly states that they will partner with their clients to:

Guide buyers through a dizzying array of disruptive business models and technologies

The words that jump out at me here are ‘buyers’ and ‘disruption’.  This firm has a focus on end users – this is nirvana for vendors and something that many peers in the industry aspire to have in their client base. The objective is to have 70% buy-side business which considering they are starting day 0 with this number at 60% makes me believe that this isn’t wishful thinking.

The focus on disruptive technologies is prudent – whereas there are hundreds of analysts covering every aspect of technology, Ray has pragmatically realised that there is a need to bring order to chaos and advise people on trends, buyers’ POV and  technology in an independent and objective fashion.

Their disruptive and innovation coverage will be:

Cloud Mobile Analytics and game theory Unified communications and video
Next Generation Government Internet of things Legacy optimization


The team that Constellation Research brings to the table are nothing short of magnificent. Each player in their own right can stand out amongst the crowd as a leader in their field with a decade or more of experience who are not afraid to make tough calls.

It’s the collection of individuals brands that are important to Constellation as people will instinctively ask for advice from those analysts they trust. The issue of ‘contributing analyst’ is something that plays heavily on my mind – does a customer that goes to Phil Fersht get Horses for Sources or Constellation? It seems that this is all worked out via ethics and integrity policy which sounds good but I’ll be interested to see how easy this will be for clients to navigate.

I look forward to seeing how this group of analysts will push the edges on the research agenda.


Ray left Altimeter on good terms and cited the main reason for his departure was a drive to focus on syndicated research. In an environment where I have traditionally seen more focus lean towards free research, it is interesting to see a firm who are going back to the traditional focus on paid content.

Constellation states that they will engage via open and syndicated research models:


The planned coverage areas are:

  • Big data and semantic web
  • Clean tech
  • Cloud security
  • Digital marketing transformation
  • Mobile development
  • Strategic HCM
  • Industry verticals
  • BFSI
  • Energy
  • Retail
  • Technology
  • Interactive ad networks

No doubt more areas will follow as disruptive influences take their course but at least for now their agenda seems smart.


Without doubt, Ray’s departure from the superstar analyst firm to setup one that focuses on syndicated research brings its own disruptive forces to an increasingly shrinking analyst market. Fundamentally a research house, Constellation has brought together leaders in the field who like to write and advise buyers.

This firm will not be include bright young graduates, box counters or be a replica of the Enterprise Irregulars. Instead it sets out to be what made Giga, all those years ago, a unique and special firm.

Good look to Constellation Research.

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