Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Video and thoughts from Widgety Goodness 07

So finally, I get a chance to share with you some stuff about Widgety Goodness. And it's all good.
I even shot (badly) some video on my Nokia N73, so you can get a sample of some (not all) of the speakers.
Here's some stand-outs for me:
1. Yahoo's Susan Mernit (coiner of the phrase Widgety Goodness) via video. What's next for widgets? Your ID/own data being migrated and embedded in widgets. She reminded us that web2.0 really means "we are the operating system".
2. Freewebs Chris Cunningham: "Widgets teach those who try them about engagement marketing, they require new engagement metrics - not CTR or PI.
"Widgets are pull, display ads are push. Widgets are about brand advocacy."
Chris (who I shared a cab with, and thanks for the lift!) says widgets need both a value utility AND and personal outcome.
And he points out that the widget is simply the lastest version of the increasing dominance of personal voice as we've moved from CRM, through corporate blogs to widgets today - and who knows tomorrow?
3. Open Intelligence Agency's Russell Davies: His presentation was more performance than lecture - and a fine illustration of adding value with imagery/sound/humour which is kind of his point. I have video of Russell. I don't wholly agree with his perspective. For example, he discusses (just before the video clip starts) the idea of the uncanny valley - the notion that as robotics become more and more human they start off kind of cute and end up kind of freaking us out. And he takes this idea and applies it to advertising messages. When they have the nirvana of complete knowledge about us what they serve us freaks us out. It makes us feel uncomfortable - cue nightmare visions of the Minority Report kind.
But I think you only end up there if the world remains a command and control, centre-out one. If you apply edge-in, community-focused approaches to the same dilemma I believe you end up less freaked out, more helped out. Russell gets 10 mins or so to state his case on video - so I thought it fair enough to make a counter-case?
The other thing I didn't get was his belief that ads that add value to products (eg the soft porn of perfume ads which transform a £3 bottle of liquid into a £50 fantasy fulfilled) were irreplaceable. I think this plays to the world as it is.
But when we're all involved in the conversation, when we're all involved in the co-creation, is anyone going to pay £47 for an image constructed for them and broadcast at them? So while I get his 'right now' point - and his premise that a widget can't do the job of fooling someone that a £3 bottle is worth £50, I don't think its a sustainable long-run position as the networked world disrupts. The networked world reveals the huckster.
Anyway - enjoy his presentation - I certainly did.

4. The widgetizers panel: Steve Bowbrick stuck an enduring image in our heads - The Darwinian Disco (not really sure why it's a disco, other than the alliteration...). Anyway, the notion is that the website building universe is Newtonian - massive, relatively slow-moving giants. The widgety world is more like little animals (warning - mixed metaphor ahead!) scurrying about in the undergrowth, swinging from tree to tree, adapting fast - or dieing. Websites are lumbering dinosaurs. (mixed metaphor over now... and relax).
5. Google's Matthew Trewhella: If only from an insight into the Gadgety Goodness of Google - and OpenSocial. See video.

6. Techlightenment's Ankur Shah on what Facebook teaches us about viral widgets. Watch the video, but the big take-away from me came in the q&as (and I'd put the camera down by then).
Ankur was challenged about the 'ownership' of data implied by how some of his widgets worked. But he calmly explained the data is only used when it is functional for the user. ie it only knows who and what you are while you are interacting with it. The data is not farmed/owned/kept/stored. This is a model of data usage (ie permission to use when the user allows) which I expect to become the norm.

Interesting stats:
Facebook accounts for 80% of widget consumption right now. The top 20% of Facebook widgets account for 80% for usage.

I went down to Brighton the night before the event to catch up with organiser Ivan Pope - and ended up joining in the co-creation of the conference in a tiny way - by stuffing T-shirts into goody bags into the evening! By the way Ivan - if you've got a spare medium...

Ivan's vision was to pull together some brilliant thinkers and case studies on the explosion that is widgets to try to work out what the uses of widgets are to real businesses.

His team pulled it off in double-quick time, too, and its success means Ivan is busily putting together the next Widgety Goodness, this time in New York in the summer of 08 (disclosure: Ivan has asked me to be part of the advisory panel for that event and to speak at it - so I hope to be playing a larger part in the co-creation of the next one).

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