Blog Action Day 2011

I missed this one last year. But this time I’ve had a few invitations one of which came from VSO. So I had to remember this time around. The theme for this year is food and Vietnam, where VSO sent me as a volunteer, has still a fair amount of food shortage.

That’s actually not accurate. There is no actual food shortage as the country is one of the top rice exporters. There is definitely no access to food though for a fair number of people. In fact outside of the cities the poverty levels can easily reach 17%. And poverty brings with it a lack of food because there is not enough money in the household. Even child malnutrition is still high and the VN government looks to nursery schools to fill those little tummies.

But one would expect there to be these sorts of stats in a developing country such as Vietnam. It’s not so great to see people not getting enough food in countries such as the USA which one considers to be a developed world power. Surely the USA can make sure its citizens get sufficient food?

But it doesn’t seem to be the case. More Americans are unable to feed themselves than one can imagine. In 2010 48.8 million Americans lived in food insecure households of which 16.2 million were children. (Stats: Feeding America).

That’s a frightening statistic. This is the country whose budget for the Department of Defense was $680 billion for the 2010 fiscal year.

Even just a small portion of this budget moved towards feeding the starving people of the USA could make a difference.

There is an unwillingness world wide by governments to look after their people. Which is truly bizarre considering that that is exactly what they are voted in for by the very same people. Elected governments are supposed to look after their citizens. That is the only reason why they are in government. Yet they don’t. Not even close. In fact they almost seem to do the opposite. Cameron for instance, the Brit Prime Minister seems to be actively working against his folk.

Or you have Obama bailing out the banks and insurance companies, the motor industry and anybody else with their hand out while ignoring 48.8 million people who do not have enough food.

At the end of the day the world makes enough food to feed its people. It’s just that food gets priced so high that more and more people cannot afford to pay for it. Money making schemes for a few wealthy farmers and GM seed makers. Water that gets diverted to serve greedy industrial cities, land that gets taken away for big factories so that small holding farmers are left with nothing to farm. And the list goes on. The little guys, the Davids of this world, are constantly squashed by Goliath. And nobody is protecting them. Least of all their governments.

So the call for food, the fight to ensure every person has enough to eat, those kind of boil down to governments that do not govern for their people. That govern to help a handful of wealthy folk become even wealthier.

Have you noticed the number of non-governmental organisations that have mushroomed in the past years? NGOs only have a function, a task to fulfill, because our governments are letting us down, us the people. Why should there be a Feeding America NGO? Why is the government not feeding its own people. Surely that is what government is all about.

That’s the bottom line isn’t it.

What I will miss about the English

It’s just over a week and I will be wending my way to Hanoi for my volunteering position at an NGO working with disabled young people. It’s quite a jump in terms of my life direction and I spend more time wondering what on earth got into me to do this, than being all confident about the move.

Got to change that attitude, for sure! What else is changing is that this blog will be more focused on my experiences in an Asian country and people with disabilities and less on commenting on the world and it’s strange workings.

It’s been such a quick three and a half years that I have lived in the UK. In this short time I have had some quirky experiences with the English. And I’m going to miss it. Somehow it has felt a real home even though the African in me is ever present.

In fact one of the first things I had to learn was that the English spoken in South Africa is quite a different animal to the one used in England. Sometimes I even thought that there was no relationship at all between the two! Many misunderstandings later it dawned on me that the words and expressions often meant quite different things. Slow learner, I am!

But besides the many misunderstandings one of the things I truly love about the English is their use of the language. And the humour, both at themselves and anybody within reach, is often priceless.

One of the funniest I have seen was a conversation via TMS and posted on the BBC site that was going on during one of the Ashes Tests. The Ashes is a long time feud. read cricket competition, between Australia and England. This is not a game. This is outright war. And it is played with the passion a war deserves.

The discussion was around the excuse this one person had for lambasting the Australians. And he used a whole string of philosophers and their writings to excuse his pleasure (or Schadenfreude) at seeing the Australians being beaten. With other words he reasoned it was ok to gloat. It was a great dialogue and had me chuckling for hours.

What else will I miss? The English spirit of caring! They would groan if one were to point out that they are warm and generous people, open to having a chat and a laugh. The English think of themselves as reserved and unsocial. On the contrary. I have found them to be most welcoming and ready to participate.

And they love to dress up and play theatre. Even the guides around an old prison or park will consider themselves on stage and put on a great performance. It is truly the home of Shakespeare where all the world’s a stage. It’s such fun.

How about this one. Not many English people will agree with this fact. The country really works well. Sure I might be looking at it from a South African perspective where not much run by government actually runs.

In Cape Town, not rural South Africa, I have waited in line reaching outside the building to renew my driver’s license. I had less than thirty people in front of me. The wait was over three hours. I got in line just after six in the morning that is two hours before opening time so that my wait would not be the whole day.

There would be pickets outside 10 Downing Street if that were to happen here! I got my UK driver’s license. There was nobody in the queue ahead of me and it was posted to me and I received it within four days of my application. And it GOT to me by post. The postal system works here….

And talking about government employees makes me think of tolerance – there isn’t any of that to be had in South Africa. In fact government and tolerance don’t go together in SA. Especially when the citizen happens to have a white skin. A touch of reverse apartheid is a regular occurrence.

The English are unbelievably tolerant. It’s not just with respect to race but with all people of differences. Great support for gay and lesbians, religions, unbelievable system of caring for disabled folk and many efforts to look after the elderly and more. And always generous to donate to some cause. The UK gave the most, by far, per capita for the Tsunami victims in Asia. Totally indicative of the people.

The public transport is amazing. I have a choice of at least ten different buses and routes to get from the city centre to close to my home. I got a free bus card because of my age! I have free medical and dental health care should I wish it. Sure I have the benefit of an EU passport. But I have never lived in Germany.

One of the busiest railway stations around is Clapham Junction. Ask any person working on the platforms where to catch a train to any insignificant place and they can tell you at a drop of a hat what platform to go to. A bus driver in Birmingham could tell me what stop I needed for a training centre and he apologised that he had to think a bit. He didn’t normally drive that route!

The place works.

I’m going to miss the English dress sense, or one might think the lack thereof. Will miss the pubs, although not the pub food. Didn’t frequent them often, but when I did they were great fun. In retrospect, I should have gone more regularly.

My choir. The Brighton City Singers. No audition required, all welcome, don’t need to be able to read music, just come and have fun. It’s given me the opportunity to sing in the Royal Festival Hall! At the choir’s picnic on the Hove Lawns I played catcher in the baseball game. Couldn’t walk for a few days – it was worth it. It doesn’t get any better.

The U3A meetings and the amazingly affordably priced field trips to a string of great places I would not have thought of visiting. The bridge group, where I met many lovely people, was always great fun. And I could have participated a lot more if I had had the time.

The orchestras, choirs, music festivals both pop and classical are wonderful. There is support by government and the lotto of the history of castles, places, parks, historical monuments. Sure it costs to get into everything. But then the upkeep of these wonderful old churches and buildings is astronomical.

The list of good stuff goes on. It’s a great place!

Now it’s a matter of saying good-bye to wonderful friends and acquaintances and getting on that flight in Heathrow. Thank goodness for email and Skype to keep in touch with folk. Nevertheless they will be sorely missed.

Oh. One more thing! Back to fundraising. So anybody want to help a bit towards covering the costs that VSO has to pay for my volunteering, please check the Just Giving button on the right hand side of this blog. All amounts, of whatever size, sooo welcome. Thank you.

Vodafone – like a bull in a china shop

Beware the power of social media. Social media is about sharing, caring and communicating in a two way process. For big companies who are used to pushing their message, in some instances down the consumer’s throat, social media can be a very frustrating space to play nicely in.

Vodafone has just had its and its ad agency’s fingers burnt, quite badly. Their campaign in Germany has created a backlash that they could not have anticipated. If they had, they might have approached social media with more caution.

This is what the true social media gurus warn against all the time. Be careful. Do not push your message, listen and take part. But do not manipulate the game.

Here are the basics of the scenario and for German speakers here. Vodafone hired, as part of a larger campaign, the service of one fairly well known blogger and one not so well known one to promote their Generation Upload offering. Problem was, the entire campaign was founded on the old advertising principle of telling customers what’s good for them.

It was supposed to be a campaign incorporating all the Web 2.0 bells and whistles, social networking, including Twitter, bloggers and hopefully viral as well. What it ended up being was a disaster which has not as yet played out to its full potential.

Some of the errors. The TV spot approached the message as if it were selling washing powder. The associated corporate blog is boring and talks at the consumer rather than with, and the copy supposedly submitted by the – young baby owning mom – hired blogger is tedious and unashamedly sales focused.

Add to that a not so well received launch press conference where more English was used than German, known as Denglish, to try and sound with it and cool and the traditional media was also alienated.

As one critic says, there isn’t much positive to say about this campaign.

The fall out is what is the most interesting. It may be safely presumed that this had not been anticipated. Of course it’s not a first for a bad campaign. But it could be the first, at least in Germany, where a campaign has such a severe fall-out.

A quick definition of social media is content generated by individuals, also known as user generated content, in contrast to media generated by newspapers, TV, radio et al. It is content generated for free for the free use of other people in comparison to the high cost of content generated by other media for the mostly paid for use.

Paying for two bloggers, one high profile one, to contribute to a media campaign as the supposed ‘representatives’ of social media isn’t going to work. See above definition of user generated content.

And that’s exactly what has happened. The German blogosphere has gone bezerk about the sell-out of the two bloggers, Sascha Lobo and Ute Hamelmann. And as only the internet can provide, because people can be anonymous, the anti comments have been anything but polite.

The social media backlash, that is the user generated content world, has demonstrated again, this time in magnified manner that when talking to people be careful. Trying to manipulate your audience can be dangerous. The online commentary and vilification of Vodafone’s campaign has created a huge wave.

For the company who wants to take the short cut route and buy a mouthpiece, read blogger, that already has a reputation and online following this is a warning. Be careful who you use. Do they really have the trust of their followers. Secondly be sure to allow them their authentic voice.

It just goes back to the fact that marketers need to be extremely careful when entering the social media space. The approach must be different to traditional advertising campaigns.

And finally a word of warning to companies eying social media. There are very few marketers who really know how to handle this new congregation of consumers. The ad agency Scholz & Friends wasn’t clever enough. How many more so-called social media experts are pretending they are? Caution is advised.

You could have so much more time for sex

There! That got your attention. Didn’t it. But then they say sex can sell anything, even cars. Maybe GM should have more sexy girls. Buy a car and get one free. Or use an article writing service and get one free. Ah right, probably not.

But that’s not the purpose of this post, to speculate about General Motors and sexy girls. It’s about having more time whether it’s for sex or for knitting your favourite cardigan.

If you are like me, an internet marketer, then you spend hours in front of the computer trying to write articles because you know this is something that needs to be done for most successful internet businesses.

I say most, because the porn industry relies on images of course. Words are not that important. I mean how many times can you write aaah and oooh? Kind of kills the ‘romance’ bit. If one can call it romance.

Alright. Enough of the sexy references! I think I’ve made my point here.

The real point I want to make is that as an internet marketer you should consider an article writing service. It will free your time up considerably so that you can do other more worthwhile things. Either make more money or have some fun.

So go here to check it out. You have a few days of free articles just to try them out. Thereafter it costs you less than one Tall Latte from Starbucks to get 20 articles per month.  And how much more time for the fun bits of life such as…..

Did I mention that I write them? Just to reassure you, there are no sexy ones. Just good ones for good business.

Go here right now to try it out.

Give the cat a break

Some poor techie writer is getting himself all wound up about the fact that a cat has half a million followers on Twitter. It’s really quite sad when some folk take themselves too seriously.

But it’s par for the course isn’t it. A new tool, gadget, software app or trend comes around and the early adopters jump on it like a rash of measles. (wonders if the example is appropriate)

These early adopters use said new tool with great glee and feel privileged to be the evangelists of this new thing. They promote it and persuade their friends and foe to join and in general they imagine that this new tool belongs to them. After all they discovered it first.

As the tool ages and matures other users also join and at the beginning the new members are like good little sheep and mostly follow what those early geeky adopters have decided this tool should be about.

And the faithful followers follow along listening to the evangelists.

However, as with all good things, it all changes.  The party starts to disintegrate and form splinter groups and all sorts of weird and wonderful new uses are invented for this new thing.

Initially the early adopters/evangelists can stifle this kind of bad behaviour by pouring scorn on these mavericks and making them outcasts. After all this wonderful thing of theirs has to stay as it was when first discovered.

But that’s not the nature of any thing. Time will change everything. Sometimes it changes so much it dies off and sometimes it changes into something even more useful and fun. Seldom does anything stay the same.

With other words, it’s actually fun to see a cat get a twitter following of 500 000. In fact it puts some fun back into what has been threatening to become a seriously boring and tedious social media tool.

Relax Mr TechCrunch writer. You can still do your own thing on Twitter. You can still be your own serious self. But do allow others to follow a cat sprouting seriously inane and sometimes humorous tweets. After all there is that fab website that is all about cheezy cat pics and fabulous captions.

Drones R Us

What has the internet done for people? Besides the information overload, it’s also delivered another benefit. It has provided the multitude of voice-less, powerless people an opportunity to flex their muscles, make a difference, voice an opinion, be heard.

Why could this be so important? Could it be that people living in the present moment have the feeling that they do not count anymore, they are insignificant and that their existence is irrelevant?

That sounds really depressing doesn’t it. But let’s have a look at whether there is any substance to that statement and if yes how this could have come about.  If we look at the first time that we are integrated into society, school, one already sees that the process of creating voiceless people is started at a young age.

Education provided by schools is based on a process of learning material in order to pass examinations.  The better the exam results, the better the school. There is not much difference in the practice of education at University level.

Once at work, procedures and processes are set down and the average worker’s day is dictated to by manuals written by faceless manager. It boils down to having to perform a series of pre-set task. No thought is required or encouraged.

Outside the work environ it’s not much different. Try to interact with any of the companies that we do business with or we are customers of. Gone are the days of managers who actually deal with customers and instead welcome to call centres manned by staff who don’t even speak your language.

So much of our time is spent dealing with automated processes whether shopping, consuming our entertainment, traveling, managing our health and much more that we start to feel sidelined and alienated. When last did you deal with somebody in authority, somebody who would listen to your concerns, take responsibility and actually deliver a personalised solution?

So how does the internet provide a voice to the voiceless? The best example of this was the recent success of the Obama win to become the next President of the USA.  In terms of participating, active people that became part of the Obama community, appropriately also called here are some staggering stats.

Obama and his team collected a couple of 100 million Dollars in funds, 2 million volunteers, 10 million e-mail addresses, 5 million mobile phone numbers and 4 million names of donors.  That’s some participating community. And how appropriate was Obama’s rallying cry of ‘Yes we Can’?

The internet has allowed these millions of people to participate, voice an opinion, take action, be part of something meaningful and feel that they can make a difference and have the power to create change.  That rallying cry of Obama’s fell on fertile ears.

Would this concept be something marketers could take note of when approaching the web? After all the internet is the communication tool where the consumer has total control over what they consume, watch, interact with.  And it is an area where marketers are still flapping around wildly trying to find their feet.

Could it be that online campaigns that treat the consumer with respect, provide him with a voice, take his statements and opinions seriously, react to suggestions and in general permit him to be heard and taken notice of -  that this might actually work? Couldn’t possibly be, could it?

Making money on the web

It seems that effective monetising of websites may still be a hit and miss affair.  In an interesting article on Brand Republic the discussion is about a video site called Hulu.

According to projected ad revenue figures Hulu will be earning as much if not more advertising revenue in 2009 than YouTube will. What is particularly noteworthy is that  Hulu had 6m US visitors in September compared to YouTube’s 83m. This is a huge difference in visitor numbers.

Hulu, founded in 2007 by News Corporation and NCB Universal streams free professional content such as TV shows as well as movies and clips.  At this stage this service is only available in the USA.

YouTube on the other hand has predominantly user-generated content, although the company is endeavouring to address this by signing with Freemantle to create four dedicated video channels and with MGM to be able to offer a back catalogue of  TV shows and selected movies.

With such a discrepancy of numbers of eyeballs between Hulu and YouTube, it seems strange that there should be such small differences in predicted ad revenue for 2009. The reason behind this seems to be that advertisers are reluctant to place their ads on a site that has such vast quantities of user-generated content.

In this instance the overwhelming amount of traffic seems to have little influence on ad revenue. In the more traditional media, such as newspapers, the number of audited readers determines the ad rate that may be charged.  There are of course other factors that also influence rates, but circulation figures are the most important indicators.

It seems the internet plays to its own tune.  Numbers are not it. Reputation is far more important. The danger with user-generated content are issues such as content and technical quality, copyright infringements or videos close to achieving a pornography label. These are just a few problem areas for user-generated content.

It will take some time before this medium will be understood fully by the marketing community. In the meantime it will certainly be a case of trial and error, with some spectacular successes and even more dramatic failures.

Old and still raring to go

Just recently I have come across some age defying people. And it has again made me wonder why the current young generation living in the developed world is so intent on sidelining the older folk. What’s with that, I wonder? It never used to be like that.

The first one was during an evening of playing bridge. I haven’t played bridge since my University days. Those days we would sit in the student refractory, or ref it was called, playing cards for hours.  It was the area where one could get food and was mostly a common room space for students not living in a residence or halls as it is called in the UK.

We would sit there and play bridge all day. Every now and then somebody would have a lecture to attend and we would pick straws to see who would go and make notes for everybody else to copy. It was a great time and we certainly enjoyed the card game.

Many many years later I joined our local branch of the University of the third Age. The U3A is a really nice idea. Older people get together and share their expertise. Bridge playing is one of the fun activities available. So I signed up. My bridge playing skills are very rusty, to put it mildly.

However, last week, I ended up playing bridge in a foursome – as one does in bridge – where one of the four had just turned 100 years old. And boy, could she play. Much better than I could. Her bidding was spot on and when it came to playing she remembered exactly what cards had gone down.

In fact, she was excellent. Not only that, she is physically still well able to move around and does her own shopping. As I was driving home I thought to myself, I could have another forty plus years of active, intelligent life. Did that put a new perspective on things, or what!

Today something else came to my notice, along the same lines. It’s a blog called Margaret and Helen. It’s basically two people chatting to each other. They are voicing their opinions, talking about issues that affect and interest them. And they don’t mind calling a spade a bloody spade.

What is different about these folk is that the two girls involved are in fact senior citizens. These are the ones that the developed world is writing off as invisible. Or at least invisible until they need some help. Groan, how inconvenient..

The Helen part of Margaret and Helen is 82 years old. Helen and Margaret have been friends for sixty year. Helen’s grandson taught her how to run a blog. And the blog stats are 760, 420 hits. Since starting this article last night, the hits have gone up to 771, 876  and increasing at a rate of 1 000 every time I check the numbers. Alright people. How many of you clever young bloggers can boast that kind of stat.

Here we have two examples of amazing older folk.  These are people who are alive and well and participating in life. So why is our current younger generation so intent on ignoring the older people, I wonder.

Maybe, somewhere along the line, the media has decided that young is good, young sells more advertising space, young is more appealing, only young is worth considering. Out of all of that list, don’t forget to add the number one reason.  Only young people have disposable income worth targeting with advertising.

Aren’t we losing out on a whole bunch of people who could contribute to society? As an aside to all those clever young marketers, the baby boomers that means folk born between 1947 and 1965 have over $1 trillion in disposable income available – annually.

It is such a short sighted way of approaching the whole situation. After all, by sidelining these older people, you end up having to support them. Why not rather bring them back into the community, make them part of it, give them a purpose and focus again.  By that I mean back into the mainstream community and not just arranging their own senior communities.

If that were to happen it would not surprise me that the number of people suffering from old age diseases such as dementia would decline and society would become a lot more balanced again.  Each age we pass through has something to offer to the other ages. Why don’t we reap the benefits of these offerings rather. We’ll all be the richer for it.

We are living in a free love society

In a rather illuminating article in the latest Trendwatching brief, the discussion is about FREE LOVE. It’s about businesses offering goods, services or experiences to consumers for free and making their money from other things. Prime examples that come to mind are the home printers that are dirt cheap but where you have to take out a second bond on your property to pay for the ink cartridges.

Although the Trendwatching brief works through various examples such as free-sheet newspapers, magazines, free landline, VoIP or mobile calls, free airline travel, free car rental and much more, the one most interesting to me was the free world of the internet.

Trendwatching directed me to an article on by one of my favourite modern marketers, Chris Anderson, he of the Long Tail fame. His new book due in 2009 deals with gratis stuff and is appropriately called ‘Free’. For marketers this is bound to be a must read. For digital marketers ‘Free’ will talk about the future of marketing and will be the stuff that migraines are made of.

What Anderson bases his premise on is the fact that the internet has become free to use. That is, because of the numbers of users, computing technology has become more cost effective and has now become so cheap per person that it is not worth metering any more.

The expression to meter refers back to a concept thought up by a professor called Mead who predicted that eventually electricity would become so cheap that it wouldn’t pay to meter it anymore. Of course electricity hasn’t gotten that cheap, but surfing the internet has.

So what does this mean. It means that consumers have been getting access to various parts of the internet for free. Whether it’s signing up to Facebook, Digg, or online dating sites, online newspapers such as The New York Times or The Wall Street Journal, huge amounts of value, whether information, education or entertainment are being dished out for free.

There is nothing new in this of course. Hotmail has been around for a fair number of years. However, if one looks at this without the normal rosy spectacles that the world of commerce wears when looking at the business opportunities on the web, it is actually quite terrifying news. Because what it does is turn business upside down. It’s just not that easy to make money online if the attitude of the user is that what you are offering should be free.

As a quick example let’s have a look at Facebook. Although Facebook has a huge membership which is expanding by the thousands every day it’s total revenue generated during the year 2007 was only around the $100 million range. With almost 50 million registered users this works out at about $2 per member for the year. Hardly dynamite!

The revenue for Facebook is almost exclusively from display advertising. When Facebook wanted to introduce more targeted advertising, and probably try and make some money with a system called Beacon, there was such a huge outcry that Facebook had to back down. Remember, the members feel they are entitled to free. They do not think they owe Facebook the duty of taking note of ads or even to put up with interruptions.

A further concept which I found fascinating was Anderson’s take on what drives economies. In the past scarcity of goods or services determined economies. Now it has moved to a different take in that the commodities are time and respect. With other words, how much time does the consumer have to view your offer and make a purchase decision. And how much respect have you earned to help the consumer make a decision in your favour.

Of course Google has identified these two concepts and built them into a huge business already. Attention may be translated to refer to traffic, or how many people come to visit.  And the other concept is that reputation equates to PageRank. If Google determines your site to have a PageRank of 7 out of a possible 10, you know that the web considers your site to be important and respectable.

An easy example of the past concept of scarcity, is the car manufacturer Porsche. Porsche produces far less vehicles than it could in order to justify its high pricing policy. Now the new scarcities are attention and reputation, or traffic and PageRank rather than number of products, services or experiences available.

The consequences for marketers is huge. The entire advertising industry runs on the concept of interruption. Whether the interruption is the TV commercial break in your favourite soapy, the radio ads, the ads in magazines and newspapers, the consumer is interrupted without being asked permission. Sure you can switch your TV off, or go into the kitchen to fetch another beer. But mostly we don’t as we passively sit through the ads.

So now we have an entire enormous global advertising industry where the advertising budgets of companies is being funneled into online advertising. To appreciate the value of the size of this, the UK’s online adspend is predicted to reach £3.4bn for the year 2008.

With other words traditional advertising agencies used to interrupting the consumer to push a message, now have to fight for the scarcity of attention and respect. Is it surprising then that traditional marketers have no clue as to what to do? An entire industry has to rethink its approach.

So far, it’s been a case of playing catch-up. Now CEO’s are advised by their marketers to start blogs. If millions of bloggers can do it, then CEO’s should as well. It will give the company and its products respect. Really?

Another hype is that everybody has to get into social networking. That’s where the consumers hang out, so lets interrupt them there. They want to hear from us don’t they? They have been such faithful watchers before. But how do you market to the consumers there? Not with display advertising which follows old advertising traditions of interrupting to get heard.

Then there are the microsite. Thrown together, copy written badly, awful design and forgotten as soon as the product launch is over. There are many of these sites still populating the web. Their offers are often out of date, product lines no longer available, special pricing outdated, who cares, lets move onto something new.

Of course search is big and growing and it certainly helps build traffic. A whole industry has grown around Search Engine Optimisation or SEO. And there are certainly businesses such as Amazon and eBay that appear to be thriving. But when one reads that Ford, and Proctor & Gamble and Sony are going to spend X million Dollars on online advertising, you think to yourself – where?

It will be very interesting to see how this whole scenario plays out. I will certainly look forward to Chris Anderson’s new book to see whether he has a solution and a strategy for marketers to follow when tackling the free love of the internet. Or alternatively, advertising budgets could end up moving to the Mobile platform. After all, mobile phone users are still used to paying for goods and services!

2008 the same as usual I should think

Predictions for 2008? Highlights of 2007? I’m sitting in Brighton, speculating about this. Candles are lit, the Christmas tree is still ok, although the needles are starting to malt quite rapidly. And it has roots, so we hope to plant it out in a forest somewhere. That is if we can find a forest where we are allowed to do that. UK is one of the more over-regulated countries.

Listening to Mandoza and Freshly Ground while outside the fireworks are starting to increase in volume. It will be a crescendo in a while. Kind of nice duet. In Australia they are already sleeping off the hangovers. Even in SA, the first drunk drivers will be heading home and the sober ones will be wondering whether they will make it home in one piece. Will it ever change?

So what will be heading towards us? I have already predicted that 2008 will be the year of the mobile phone. Yes again. And maybe marketers will finally be able to persuade mobile phone service providers that there is a lot of money available to throw at mobile phone users. We will see.

Then there are a myriad of other techie predictions, by far more knowledgeable people than I am, that all sound fabulous. There is the first PC by HP that has some kind of touchscreen feature. Open source is supposed to get bigger this coming year. The end of software as we know it has been predicted, what with computer users being able to do everything via the browser, even when off-line. Google is certainly trying to find its space in that bit of sunshine.

Computers will get faster, Apple will bring out a super thin laptop in two weeks, plus some very fast hand held gadget. An update to the iPhone is also on the cards at Macworld. And so it goes on. However, personally, I would put the real money on the company which could find some solution to end the endless unwanted e-mails I get on enlarged body parts, mostly one which I don’t have, and performance enhancing drugs. It’s about 220 so far today.

Besides that the details of my company credit card have just been stolen, including the pin, and same is being used at an ATM near you if you live in Canada. Never mind the trolls that lurk around in cyberspace ready to pounce leaving horribly abusive and personal attacking comments on blogs or anywhere else where they can leave their mark.

Besides the techie world, there will be some changes in the world. Some changes will be horribly abrupt ones and inflicted by the nasties of this world. Others will come slowly. One thing is for certain, the ordinary folk will again have to cope with the rubbish that most of the politicians dish up.

But then there will be the great bits as well. The marriages, wedding anniversaries, the new babies, personal victories such as graduating from a college or learning a new skill. The human spirit will somehow again overcome all sorts of hardships. There will be some ordinary folk again showing that we all can be heroes, just because it was required at that moment in time. It’s not all bad! People are actually incredibly amazing! So happy New Year to all those humans who celebrate that now. And happy wishes just because, to anybody who doesn’t.