3d Printing and the future of the Universe

The era of the 3D Printer seems to have arrived for general consumption, and I was thinking about the ramifications of this upon our world. Much has been made of the way in which the technology will shift consumer behaviour as well as reshaping the way in which goods are transported to the public.

Consumers will, in the future, be able to download a set of plans and print anything from a pair of running shoes to a pizza, the pharmaceuticals they need and perhaps even water. Why not?

This is interesting but I got thinking about space travel, an interest of mine since childhood, and how 3D Printing will allow us to conquer new worlds.

The human body is quite fragile and it doesn’t really like space, radiation, or lack of gravity, so we’ve always been a bit stuck as to how we might reach interstellar space. Space travel is also expensive, things are heavy, science is hard, and we seem to have more important things to worry about.

To my mind, the best way to get over this is to send a small rocket into space with a small 3D Printer on board. When it arrives at its destination, the printer can then set about printing a robot which can be used to source raw materials from the planet/object upon which it has landed to print a bigger printer. From one small printer an entire functioning system of habitation, tools, mining craft and larger printers can be built over time.

And then I thought, what if that is our gift to the galaxy. An array of printers, each replicating printed 3 dimensional objects which can function automatically. What if these then become self aware and they attack anyone and anything that threatens their self-determined right to replicate. These are printers, they can print anything.

It sounds surreal but I can imagine in the far future, a humanoid or other sentient being arriving on a new planet which is overrun by printers and their offspring.

Printers that would also be sentient, that would defend their right to print, to source raw material from this planet. Perhaps even to build a tiny rocket, with a tiny printer on board, from which these printers will be able to colonise the universe, one small print at a time.

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MTV Bands as Brands

I was recently invited to participate in a panel discussion on MTV with Ted Chung and a few others.

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AdReview – Can Creativity Be Taught

See original article here: Page 80

 

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Parachute People Solutions

WordPress Solution for National Recruitment Company

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Talksure

WordPress CMS for Corporate Insurance Products.

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Department of Energy

Fully customised Web Development for the Department of Energy to manage the bid and tender process for renewable energy in South Africa.

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Vine

So there is a new buzz around Twitter, it’s called Vine, a small app which allows 6 seconds of video, set on loop, to play through your iDevice.

It sounds like a new gimmick that won’t last, except that it is perfect for Twitter. There will be a fad around the 6″ video for a while, and there will be come clever campaigns targeted at the tech-savvy in the next 2 months, but I predict that it won’t drop off the radar. It’s too interesting and too much in sync with Twitter to just go away.

6 Seconds may not be long, but it’s 6 seconds longer than anything before it. Built in to Twitter, it’s going to be a very useful toy to explain some difficult things.

Try it out.

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2013 – The Power Shift

One of the biggest shifts in late 2012, which will shape the landscape of products and, especially services and entertainment in the future, is the awareness by consumers that they really can get tailormade services delivered to their doorstep – and they are in control of it.

There are, of course, a host of pretentious names for this new consumerism, from ProSumers to Custowners, but the basic principle is the same: Don’t be forced to pay for things you ‘kind of’ like, because there is no choice, rather use the established idea of crowdsourcing and crowd-funding to pay for the tailored content and services that you want.

I am expecting to see the major TV networks miss a beat here, as the record industry did 10 years ago. If a show is cancelled because ‘ratings are low’ but 1 million people around the world like it, get together, pay $20 each per episode, and get it produced.

These are not new ideas, but they are ideas whose time has come in the mind of the consumer and in the availability of the tech to support it.

What I imagine this means is that the Hollywood budget blockbusters will remain, but with a more limited appeal. Mega-salaries for stars will drop as the indie, well-made pieces, will finally have a platform from which to self-fund and to cater for the kinds of markets, internationally, which have made local productions fail  up until now.

Take this kind of thinking and adapt it to any product or service and it’s a game-changer. Want insurance without all the red-tape – crowd-design and source a funding pool to pay out instead. Adapt this to anything and everything and what you get is a reverse-Groupon, the crowd determining the products and services that they want to use and interact with, or developing totally new paradigms of conversation, products and services.

How business and brands react to this is going to be interesting, I predict, as usual, a slow uptake, some serious issues in the entertainment industry and an exciting time for product development – a 7-billion-strong think-tank should see some powerful ideas take form. The next 12 months is going to force us all to rethink Branding, once again. This is, a very good thing.

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What the Corner Store can teach us about Social Media

The buzzwords are getting tired already and yet the majority of business owners still don’t know what it all means: Social Media, Interaction, the Conversation, open dialogue et al: what can Social Media really teach us?

The idea of engaging with clients, hearing feedback and acting upon it seems so fresh and insightful and yet, at the heart of the matter, we’re really returning to the Corner Shop, except this time the shop is in your pocket or your tablet or your laptop.

The familiar place where the grocer knows your name, knows what you like and may just keep aside a batch of something special, just for you. Looking back at the corporate takeover of marketspaces, it seems as if the proverbial baby was thrown out with the bathwater.

Social Media is merely the logistical way in which companies, big or small, can return to the values and business operations of the Corner Shop: what does this mean? It means that navigating Social Media and it’s rules, should not be hard, it should be a return to the principles which made the Corner Shop experience enjoyable, whilst being able to use economies of scale to provide this to 10s, 100s, 1000s or millions, all at once.

So what can we use:

  • Know your customer by name
  • Know their habits
  • Know what they like
  • Know what they don’t like
  • Help them make better decisions based on the above
  • Talk to them like they are people – they ARE people

With the hype around the ‘new frontier’, the idea of engagement has been slipped into the conversation as if, by some miracle, it’s never been part of the consumer experience, whilst in truth, it has always been central.

We did lose it for a time since the 1970s, a slow decline in the real power of the purchaser and a one-size-fits-all policy became the norm.

Looking back, it’s easy to understand why the social aspect did fall away – the technology simply did not exist to have meaningful conversations with millions of people. The good news is that it’s back, it’s easy to use and, if done well, can bring that Corner Store back- with all the loyalty and attention to customers we lost over the past 40 years.

Welcome back to the Corner Store.

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Tips to Social Media Success

Whilst it is clear that Brands are owned more by the consumer than the producer today, there are some things that the company behind the brand can do to help maximise Social Media Relevance and Presence, what I call YOUGLE.

Firstly, let me explain why consumers own your brand: there are tens, hundreds, thousands or millions of them and only a select proportion of YOU to that number. It then stands to reason that the consumer has a much stronger collective voice by shear volume, than you could ever hope to have.

Humans love to talk and share things and experiences, good or bad and, if your product or service is poor, everyone loves a horror story.

So how can you steer the conversation and maximise any benefit out of this continual chatter and, hopefully, turn your consumers into Brand Ambassadors, the real champions of your brand.

  1. Use the medium for what it is best at: collecting data – ask questions!
    Everyone loves to have an opinion so use this human trait as a way to engage with your customers. There is nothing wrong with asking about an experience, a product or service to understand how the brand experience feels to the end user. They will be willing to share and you can learn a lot whilst also making the customer feel special. This is a two way street and if used effectively and ideas are really taken on board, this can be a wonderfully engaging and productive way of talking about your brand. The pitfall here is to engage the conversation and then not take on any of the advice. Consumers will tell you what is wrong and right, it is your job to listen.
  2. Time the conversation.
    Your consumers have patterns of engagement, find out when they are online and use this to set the times to speak. To tweet to parents with school going children in time for the school run is pointless, as is bath time and breakfast time… find out when they engage and catch them there.
  3. Change the focus of what you put out there.
    The old way of looking at it in terms of content was all about what is relevant, the question you should ask is: what is interesting.We are bombarded with ‘stuff’ all day long and most of it is expected. There are also only so many interesting things one can say about baby bottles before it all gets a bit too much. Mix it up, lighten up and understand what your customers want. Sure a tip on bottle cleaning, how to burp an infant are all relevant, but quite boring. What about a joke, a stupid joke, to your customers who are awake at 3am nursing a sick child. It may literally be just what the doctor ordered!

Lastly, be real, customers are real and so are the people behind the brands, we’ve just forgotten this. Let me say it again, be real.

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