Flanders

A bit more than 3 weeks to go to Blogger Social in NYC, a unique gathering of mainly (but not only) marketing & advertising bloggers from across the globe. With just over 80 attendees and a fun agenda of events this is really something a lot of us are looking forward to for many months.

There’s one downside to it though, and that is that it takes place the exact same weekend as the Tour of Flanders, the classic of all classics in road cycle racing if you ask me. The race, first organized in 1913, is an experience of its own and (trust me) appeals to everyone who is up for a heroic day of sports. With many steep hills, often paved with cobblestones over a distance of approx. 260 kilometers… it sure isn’t just a race like any other.

I’ve watched the race on television for as long as I can remember, most of the time with a bunch of friends, and for the last few years we’ve been going to the ‘Muur van Geraardsbergen’ (or ‘wall’ of Geraardsbergen) to watch it live, courtesy of Lotto. With several thousands of people at the key positions of the race and close to a million people over the whole length, the ambiance is incredible.

Ronde 13  IMAGE_030

So not this year, and the Social will rock for sure, but a part in my heart will miss this raceday a lot. I’m sure Tim ‘Masiguy’ Jackson understands ;)

Here’s a great ad from Het Nieuwsblad (newspaper) for their upcoming coverage of the Tour of Flanders.

MIX08 (Grand finale)

This last post about the MIX conference is not that much related to the conference anymore actually. The conference stopped on Friday around noon and since most of the Belgians only left on Saturday morning, we had booked a helicopter flight over and trough the Grand Canyon with Sundance Helicopters. What can I say, if you are ever in Vegas do treat yourself with this, because it’s absolutely brilliant!

The Sundance company comes to pick you up with a limo by the hotel and drives you to their spot at the airport. Once you get there you sign in and about 15-20 minutes later you’re airborne, over the airport straight to the mountains. The total flight time is close to 90 minutes back and forth, and there’s a scheduled stop somewhere in the middle of the Grand Canyon offering you a fantastic view accompanied by a glass of champagne and a small lunch.

And as an image says more than a thousand words, here is what it looked like.

Grand Canyon 

During the flight the helicopter films both inside and outside of the whole trip and you can buy the DVD with that footage. I’ll let you know if that’s any good by the time it arrives via post mail. Anyway, here is the full set.

We ended the day at Morton’s Steakhouse (a personal favorite) making this the perfect ending to a great event.

MIX08 (Part 1)

There’s always one difficult part about going to conferences and blogging and that is that you hear so many interesting things you want to talk about, but no time to do so because you’re paying attention. I do have some time right now though before going to the official MIX party at TAO in about an hour or so I thought I’d share some first thoughts on the conference.

Together with most of the European invites of Microsoft to MIX, we arrived in Vegas on Monday night as we had a pre-conference scheduled in on Tuesday, the day before the official start of MIX. The pre-conference is a unique opportunity to get up close with some people that will present at MIX later as well but given we’re with about 200 people it makes it more accessible to get into a conversation. In the afternoon we had the choice between some activities, for which we chose to go for the “High Rollers” – a training basically on gambling, to get you started ;) This training took place in the Stratosphere Tower, a nice enough opportunity to take some pictures and stitch them all together in this panorama.

Las Vegas Panorama

Today MIX officially started. We had the keynote in the morning with Ray Ozzie and Scott Guthrie which got covered pretty good live by Duncan Riley at Techrunch. I’d say check out their post to get an idea of the keynote, or watch the video. There’s one thing that struck me the most and that was the Hard Rock Memorabilia demo, using the Seadragon technology within Silverlight. You can see it right here, make sure you check it out. Really cool, trust me.

hardrock

After the keynote (and the following lunch) I went out to see Lou Carbone again. I saw him at MIX07 already and found it a fascinating speech, reason enough to go see him again. Unfortunately, his MIX08 speech was the same as last year. Still very good, but been there done that.  Too late to go anywhere else so and my next session was in the same room anyway. Next up, David Armano with the Fuzzy Tail. David and I have been in touch occasionally through the AoC and on Twitter but here in Vegas we finally met in person which was good. The Fuzzy Tail wasn’t new to me as I followed the development of the presentation on his blog a couple of months ago, still good to see it presented by the man himself.

Other than that we saw some cool stuff related to the new IE8, we had again some demo on the Surface – always fascinating – and finally we joined the other MIX attendees for the official MIX party in TAO.

I know that guy

More images from MIX can be found on my Flickr account, and for more news and videos you should check out the MIX website.

Getting ready for MIX08

Within a week we’ll be on our way to Vegas again for the MIX08 conference. I quite enjoyed last year’s MIX conference with the announcements of Silverlight and Expression Studio, but also for presentations such as Lou Carbone’s for instance (who will be back this year by the way).

What I like about this year’s agenda as well is that there will be a bit more presentations and workshops that aren’t all 100% tech, as that was probably my only wish after last year. With people like Steve Ballmer, Lou Carbone, Guy Kawasaki, David Armano and obviously also Hugh MacLeod and Loic Le Meur (and many others) it looks indeed like that is happening. Anyway, a lot of presentations these 3 days so to make sure I don’t miss anything, I’ve fired up the schedule builder on the MIX website to make sure I scheduled everything I wanted to see (and added that to my Outlook which is an option within ‘my schedule’). Small note on the schedule builder, you need to be registered for the event to be able to use it. And unfortunately, if you aren’t registered already, the event is sold out since last week.

MIX08sessions

So if you’re going to MIX as well (and you’re reading this blog) then let me know so we can connect in Vegas (maybe in the Blogzone). I guess that relates immediately to the one big thing I’m missing on the MIX website and that’s the social element. Now I’m not waiting for the next social network, but since I’ve got a login after registration anyway, it would have been nice to be able to use that some more. Who do I know that is going? Which sessions are they going to? It’s like adding a bit of LIFT08 to MIX08 :) That said, it was interesting and fun last year, I’m sure it’ll be so again this year.

PS: Oh yeah, and thanks to David Armano, I now known in Vegas as ‘Two Slice’

Don’t fight Monday

Lovely day here in London today, big difference with last week when I planned on flying here but didn’t make it because of the fog at LCY. I can tell you, spending like 5 hours at the Antwerp Airport for nothing is really no fun at all. Meeting up with the zerofinfluencer this evening, so it’s going to be a good day today.

Video found via The Kaiser (who doesn’t seem to have such a good day today).

The LIFT experience

Last week I went to LIFT08 in Geneva, and although it is a conference, I think you’d better describe it as an experience. And an experience I was really much looking forward to, especially after talking to Laurent Haug and Cristiana Bolli Freitas, the creative brains and organizers of LIFT a few months earlier.

Lift08

Part of what makes it a really interesting experience, is all the interaction and community involvement both before and at the conference. You have workshops & open stages that be suggested and voted on. There was a Live Magazine (“Not so empty book”), the Fontself,  the creating of the LIFT song, etc etc. All very unique and interactive.

It started on Wednesday with some workshops, one during the morning and one during the afternoon:

  • Fearless City: Re-routing the digital divide with mobile: I got in a bit late as I only flew in that morning, but that didn’t make it less interesting. The presenter (Irwin Oostindie) and I had a few chats later on about The Fearless City project is about digital inclusion, but looking at this issue from a technology, culture, art and community combined view. I found it quite interesting and hope I can help Irwin out with it somehow.
  • Teenagers/Generation Y and technology: The second workshop related a lot more to my day job as MSN (referring to Live Messenger) is a huge part of this. The workshop ended up in being a lengthy but interesting discussion between a few teenagers and ‘the audience’. Although the teenagers present weren’t your typical average teenagers, some learnings were still quite surprising and would most probably have applied to the average teenager anyway. I’m planning on posting a bit more in depth about this on the Live In Europe blog

Thursday and Friday were the main conference days, and while I found only few presentations on Thursday to be really good, the ones on Friday made up for that. This is a list of what I liked (links to video here):

  • Rafi Haladjian on the Nabaztag, watch out for Ztamps – RFID for the masses
  • Kevin Warwick on his life-project as a ‘cyborg’
  • Robin Hunicke (EA) on trends in designing games
  • Guy Vardi (Oberon Media) on casual gaming
  • Paul Barnett (EA Mythic) on the evolution of multiplaying games
  • Kevin Marks (Google) on Open Social

And the open stages from:

Next to all of that I obviously enjoyed meeting lots of ‘old’ and new people, seeing some back after quite a while was especially great. And last but not least, the famous Fondue on Thursday night, that was really good as well.

Overall, since it’s not a web only conference, some tech related presentations interested me less than let’s say at LeWeb3 although some did as you can see above. Apart from that the uniqueness, the interaction, the warmth of the event made it a fantastic experience. One I’m putting in my agenda for next year.

Ine, Clo, this is your conference – make sure you mark it in your agenda for ’09.

Raumzeitgeist

I initially got onto the Dopplr Alpha in April last year thanks to Loic Le Meur. He seemed quite enthusiast about it and as I’m a bit of a traveler myself, so enough reason to test it out. I’ve liked it ever since. I’ve you’re a bit of a traveler yourself and still not on Dopplr than get on it fast ;) No need to explain I think, it’s pretty straightforward.

To celebrate one year of Dopplr, the team created this Raumzeitgeist 2007 round-up. This kind of ‘space time spirit’ as they call it, shows where and how long people traveled based on the trips they shared.

Raumzeitgeist

There’s quite some fun data in the posts, but it were the visualisations like the one above that got to me. Make sure you check both posts, as there is more of the same in there. You can now even get this one as a poster and I must say it sure looks good on the Dopplr office wall. I’m thinking about getting my own here as well.

Anyway, if you are on Dopplr and we’re not connected yet – you can find me here: http://www.dopplr.com/traveller/crossthebreeze

LeWeb3: the day after

Well, 2 days after to be correct. LeWeb3 2007 4th edition (almost sounds like a Microsoft product name) was good, it was very good actually. The location, program, food, networking, … it was all fine. I learned about the sofa2.0, wi-fly, pesos-dollar and much more. These are my impressions… (photo from Loic).

The stage

Online identity was a big topic at LeWeb3. It started during the first panel (Web2.0:The dark side) moderated by Laurent Haug, organizer of the LIFT conference, the talks about online identity. In this discussion we heard the panel’s thoughts about online identity vs real identity, anonymity, privacy, … which sort of came back later as well during a very interesting panel moderated by Mark Canter (Bringing Social to Software) where online identity portability between social networks was one of the things discussed. The anonymity issue was brought up by Jason Calacanis in his excellent keynote as well. You should definitely check these out once the videos go online.

Evan Williams gave an interesting view on how they started looking at the initial Twitter development, looking at the features they didn’t need rather than the other way around. He also mentioned how the idea of Twitter originated from the status message that exist in IM, too bad we’re not doing more with it in Live Messenger (I did a proposal for that internally a few months ago).

Next up, Hans Rosling. I was lucky to have a beer with Hans the night before in our hotel, thanks to Tom Raftery. Both the discussion in the bar (in which we also discussed how Belgium seems to be a good experiment to see if we really need a government in the first place) as his presentation where quite good. I wrote down one quote about globalization:

“France needs the world more than the world needs France”

It basically works for every country or institution, but still ;) Next up was Philippe Starck about sofa 2.0, I’ll spare you the details, just watch the video.

I didn’t go to the Netvibes party on Monday, but we had dinner and drinks with some of the folks of Shiny Media and Jeremy Wright which was quite good. Some people have fascinating hobbies :)

On Wednesday I saw Martin Varsavsky talking about the pesos-dollar (because of Euro vs Dollar value) and how he expects acquisitions from Europe in the US because of that. Then Jason Calacanis did a good keynote about the internet pollution, talking about spam and the responsibility of every service provider to do more against it (instead of just making money off it). Jason’s solution in all this is the human involvement.

After that Yossi Vardi entertained us with the Wi-Fly which I (again) you should just watch on video when it goes live. The last keynote I saw that day was Doc Searls on what happens when the users are in charge. He made a point about something most of us know, but I think it was the way he put it that made it extra interesting:

“It’s all about the relationships, the conversation and today advertising isn’t helping you to build relationships. It isn’t building conversations. Advertising today is only trying to benefit from the relationships and conversations.”

Yes, I enjoyed LeWeb3. And as usual, apart from the presentations I enjoyed meeting new people (who doesn’t). Just like last year’s LeWeb I met a of people (old and new contacts) with whom I hopefully stay in touch. Thanks Loic, Gerladine and crew. See y’all next year.

Here are some other good write-ups:

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