Stages of the Metaverse

(Photo: pixabay.com)

11 August 2022

I received some critical feedback regarding my thoughts about the metaverse. Well, I have been hinting only at the retardation of a complete integration. This will definitely take a long time; however, there are many uses for metaverse services. The gaming community is quite large, and they will quickly adopt the services being used to limitations in virtual reality within the games. However, I am convinced that not everybody can be reached with these services. It’s an age problem – maybe.

What helps to introduce people to the metaverse are features that allow you to create virtual sceneries beyond reality. You can conjure up almost anything. You can hold meetings on a fantasy planet or within a biological cell. The avatars can be real looking or anything that fits the occasion. But when I try to imagine a serious, multilateral diplomat meeting in such an environment – I fear my fantasy is not strong enough.

However, things are changing quickly these days and therefore, the crystal ball that we look into remains blurred. As I said last time, the metaverse will develop slowly and it will take time for the huge revolution to unfold. But unfold it will and it is necessary to establish digital communications to give us a seamless experience to travel through time and space (or around the globe) even if we physically don’t.

If you want a peek of what the metaverse can already do, please listen to the “2 the power of MORE” episode with the metaverse pioneer Alina Mikhaleva.

 


Crypto Melt Down

(Photo: pixabay.com)

18 July 2022

Many expected it, and I was among them. The Crypto meltdown – or winter as some put it – did not come by surprise. The crisis in Ukraine possibly had some impact, not only by influencing the entire global economic climate; however, it has made the situation more unpredictable.

A lot of money was moving into crypto to safe harbour assets and to make funds available to spend outside sanctioned territories. You do not hear much about this, but this sure has added, in the long term, to the negative impact that started to pile up around crypto currencies.
China is working against them for sure as their political system contradicts any currency that exists outside the official financial system and beyond state intervention. Other countries too discovered crypto and launched regulation initiatives that are in contradiction with the decentralized model that is the crypto base.

Of course, Bitcoin and others turned into accepted assets and have become a part of the regulated environment. Regulation is not necessarily bad, as by now many crypto protagonists agree, but it must be implemented carefully, and that too often is not the case.

However, this brings us to another problem: When Cryptos are available in regulated financial markets investors outside the crypto community will treat it the same as any asset they know. When the market goes down, they sell to secure previous earnings. When the stock market goes down, the crypto markets will suffer – and since the earnings were huge before, losses, too, tend to be higher than in more conservative asset classes.

This mixture partly explains the current situation. The impact, however, of the widely unstable geopolitical situation cannot be predicted and cannot be analysed easily. Does that mean Crypto is dead, as the usual sceptics have already started to predict again? Not likely! Will a new Crypto Spring soon bring up the value to record heights never seen before, as the enthusiasts keep preaching? Possibly - but not very likely either since the spring will be launched in more regulated environments.

If that happens the period of unprecedented growth will be over. Currencies will become predictable and much more a “normal” financial asset. This must not be bad either – only different. We must always remember that the Blockchain impact will be much larger than Cryptos. However, the crypto winter will also cause delays in the overall blockchain rollout.

When the winter will be over will also depend on geopolitics and geoeconomics. This, however, remains the most unpredictable part for the time being.

If you want a deeper blockchain insight listen to this “2 the power of MORE” audio episode with the founding president of BSV Blockchain Association, Jimmy Nguyen

 


The evolution of the metaverse

(image: pixabay.com)

7 June 2022

Will we soon go on virtual safaris in the Kruger National Park? Or will the next UN general meeting take place in the metaverse? The time is fast approaching where mankind won’t need to travel anymore for meetings or for leisure. You will be able to do all this from the comfort of your home in the metaverse which will permit you the live experience.

This will certainly lead to a greener future as there will be no carbon emissions caused by travelling anymore. This scenario, I foresee, will not happen immediately. However, the metaverse is considered the next 'big thing' even with today’s limited options and it will remain so for quite a while.

Today, you are able to meet animated cartoon avatars of your friends and business partners in animated cartoon environments, just giving one an idea of the real world. More realistic scenarios unfortunately require way too much data to be processed for today’s equipment. Of course, it’s a lot better than in the first basic graphics where users put on the first heavy VR Helmets in the mid 90’s, but still the experience is limited.

And beware of trying to really move around. You will immediately hurt yourself on a real-world object and, of course, you can’t grab a cup or a glass to taste some coffee or water. And you can’t smell things. Well, yes, there is already heavy equipment on the market that you can be strapped into, giving you the impression of moving around, and little dispensers are in development that will spray fumes in front of your nostrils. This equipment, however, is far too big and heavy to use in your office or home and only works in entertainment parks and only solves some of the problems. There are doubts about whether people are really ready to widely adapt to such still imperfect conditions.

Many may try out the new experience – but will they pick up a habit? I doubt it! In some situations, maybe, for business meetings, when you put on your gadget you find yourself sitting on your chair in a conference room. But you will not be able to move around or to have your coffee. The break will be alone in the real world. Or you can watch a movie together with friends. Put on your VR headset and you find yourself sitting in a cinema with your friends and you can discuss the movie while watching it. Bigger adventures will only be possible in entertainment parks. Almost certainly it will have a huge impact on gaming, where the metaverse already improves the current limits of game environments. However, the options remain limited.

To overcome these limits, we may have to consider the approach we take on the metaverse. If we manage to stimulate our brains directly and will be able to access the “dream center”, we will be able to overcome the limits described above – without creating tons of data and the coding involved with it, because it all is stored in our brain; smells, feelings, images. This doesn’t necessarily involve an implanted physical interface, a chip that many are afraid of. We can already see the basics of technologies that are required for this. However, they all are at a very early stage. Nobody can predict yet when those tools for a real metaverse will be available. I fear, it will take a while. In the meantime, we must accept the limitations. Slowly we will get used to, small step by small step, getting closer to a new world. In the end it will be a revolution. We, however, will have experienced it as a slow evolution, too slow for some and yet too fast for others.

 


Crypto and NFT, where does geopolitics drive them?

16 May 2022

For cryptos the future does not look too bright right now. Bitcoin is far below its highest valuation last year, and the end of its downward spiral is not yet in sight. The picture is the same for other crypto currencies. When one looks at non-fungible tokens, NFTs, the opposite seems to be true. For the time being they are on an upward trend and more and more advisors are urging people to become active in this segment.

Where does this diverse picture come from? Well, crypto currencies have become an accepted asset, and professional investors that simply cash market trends, treat cryptos just like any other asset. This mixes with specific crypto rumors. News that in the past were value drivers now often create the opposite effect. Governments try to access control over crypto streams to fight money laundering and to try to implement strict regulations, focusing on the development of their own national crypto projects.
 

The good old days where you could get mega rich with small investments seem to be over. However, the unstable geopolitical situation is also creating crypto pressure. It seems that Russians are trying to protect their wealth by transferring into cryptos and, more importantly, back, to pay for their living outside their home country, especially via the United Arab Emirates.

But there is also positive crypto news like a second state making Bitcoin legal tender, the Central African Republic (CAR). However, the country is extremely poor and only 10 percent of the population have internet access. Some analysts say that the CAR has no direct benefit other than to help Russia to bypass sanctions. Still, in the end, cryptos will be widely accepted, but what their shape and role will be is for now not yet clear.

And NFT’s? Should we all jump on the bandwagon? Rather we should remain careful. A lot of art and other objects that are suddenly becoming valuable only because of NFT’s do not represent real value of their own. There is a lot of hype and their will be consolidation at some point. I fear it will be heavy again. Nobody knows when this will happen, but the risk is rising the longer it takes.
 

No kind of normal

22 April 2022

Everywhere around the globe, more and more, ‘back to normal’ is trying to be established. Even international trade shows, like the recent miptv, the oldest global TV content market in Cannes at the French Cote d’Azur, opened their gates again. miptv and its younger sister mipcom, in the fall, are organized by RX France, the local branch of the world largest trade show company Reed Exhibitions, where in recent years, African content producers became increasingly visible. Also, the initiators of the Diversify Award that is presented during mipcom have African roots.

No masks, no tests and no certificates required anymore, at least not in normal life. Public transport is still an exception, also there. Well, France probably is a bit faster than others, but does that also mean that everything is back to normal; the international crowd, the parties and dinners, and all that comes with a successful tradeshow?

Not at all! RX France announced 5,000 participants, but this included online attendance. It is hard to estimate how many were actually on location, however, already during last October, when the sister event took place under strict Covid-19 rules, about two thirds more people were on location at the opening night event. Well, this was before the Ukraine crisis that may be stopping people from traveling. This is probably as true as is another explanation given by one attendee. ”People cancelled their attendance at short notice because they felt not enough relevant people would be there,” he said.

Another pandemic experience may have even longer lasting effects. Companies realized that many meetings can be held online, for a fraction of the cost as compared to travelling to France or other places, and online tools enabling content screenings have improved tremendously. This makes it very likely that travel and trade show budgets are cut significantly and that this is likely to last.

Nevertheless, RX France is optimistic that the next mipcom this coming October will return to its old strength expecting 13,000 attendees, the same number as before the crisis. Another long emblematic Cannes market was shut for good last year. Midem was older than miptv and was for the music industry. The overall business model does not work anymore, since the Apple and Google online stores have made traditional Intellectual Property deals redundant.

Music was always an early bird since sound files are a lot smaller than high resolving videos. Cryptocurrencies and NFT’s are other game-changers that are starting to unfold. This is why I have my doubts that the mip-markets will recover to full strength. I fear it is also a blueprint for other industries, but I am happy to be proven wrong!


Avoiding the Harder Way

(Image: pixabay.com)

9 March 2022

According to information received out of Russia, only a small group knew about invasion plans, all others had been told that it was only about building up pressure towards the west. I don’t know if this is true, however, what I do know is that this changed everything. We are back at least in a cold war that can easily escalate into something much severer unless everybody acts fully responsibly. We don’t know how long this will last – some predict that it will be for a very long time.

However, also in the short range, this conflict has a global impact on all levels of our society, on supply chains, on food and energy production and distribution. Prices will sky-rocket around the globe, only to name some of the more obvious repercussions. Even with the crisis solved within a relatively short period, this impact will last – at least for some time. This creates the risk of conflict in other parts of the world, adding to already existing numerous local problems.

We will have to get used to the fact that relatively stable international relations and more or less accepted tools to deal with conflicts we got used to over the last decades are challenged. We need new answers that still seem to be far away. The role of the United Nations is part of this challenge. It can only unfold its power when it is widely accepted. However, here is where we need new ideas. The United Nations are the right tool when we agree on how the institution must be reformed and how it can be strengthened for mutual benefit. Either we learn this now, even if it is challenging – or we will have to learn it the hard way.


Is nuclear energy a green energy?

15 February 2022

It surely is carbon free and that is why the European Commission declared it green. The EU body is not alone. There is a nuclear renaissance around the globe. About 180 new powerplants are in the planning stages or under construction. “Only this way can we reach the net zero carbon emission aim,” is one of the arguments you hear increasingly often. On the other side the trash issue still is unsolved.

“If you are serious about keeping our planet clean you should not transfer the responsibility to future generations for cleaning up another toxic storage on our planet,” the co-founder of a global renewable energy venture, Buddhi K. Athauda, says. Critics see other strategic reasons behind these decisions because the waste can be used for nuclear weapons. They claim that, otherwise, a concept known since the 1070th would have taken over long ago. Only now the concept is pushed forward more aggressively.

Bill Gates promotes the idea of small decentral powerplants, so-called Small Modular Reactors, SMRs. Rolls Royce has also announced their development. Various projects are known and, at the end of last year, China was said to have its first one under construction and intends it to be ready for full commercial roll out by 2030.

An SMR is based on a different technology. Uranium uses only about two percent while Thorium used in an SMR uses up 90 percent. What remains cannot be used for weapons. Also, the chance for severe accidents is much lower since you have no fuel rods. Thorium is processed in liquid salt at 600 degrees Celsius. When something happens, you don’t get a chain reaction, you only have radioactive salt lumps lying around that can be exposed easily. A perfect fit? Maybe not, since you still get lots of waste that needs to be deposited somewhere. And is the risk really that much smaller? The promises resample the texts used in the 1950th and 1960th to promote nuclear energy, some observe, and simply do not trust them.

Well, this does not qualify as a green energy. It can help to reduce carbon emissions in the short term, but it increases other environmental problems for a very long time. With all the projects already underway, this traditional more dangerous technology will accompany us for at least another 50 years.

 


A legacy

4 January 2022

On January 1, 2022 Desmond Tutu was laid to rest. He was a person of impact, on a global scale. He will be remembered, that’s for sure. Let’s hope that this will also be the case with his impact. “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor”, he once said. He sure was an advocate of the underprivileged that are treated unjustly. He was a strong voice – and we are in need of many more voices of this strength to make a better world!

Together with Nelson Mandela and many others he fiercely fought against Apartheid. This was important not only for South Africa. It had an impact on how the world perceives the entire African continent. The message of active love, peace and justice is reaching even further and it is an example of what can be accomplished. This sure is his legacy to the entire world. Let us hope it is picked up by many and used for the betterment of our planet.

This is even more important as we are facing all these challenges that are destabilizing the world as we have known it for a long time and what had become normal for us. We need to work hard towards peace and global prosperity we will all benefit from, regardless our gender, age, nationality, social background, color, or race.


Moon Struck

Photo: Malta Moon by Dieter Brockmeyer

7 December 2021

Some of you may know the feeling well, the feeling that often comes during full moon nights when your spirits are up and alert and a good night’s sleep evades you.  You wake up feeling exhausted, as if you were out partying all night.  Well, for me, during the pandemic, this has become a well-known state.

The good thing about it is that I am really in a state of high alert, an active phase of brain activity, constantly thinking, that makes Covid nights somewhat productive with enough energy for the first hours of the day to write down the night’s prose.

It’s Omicron now and it seems that the world must prepare for another round of pandemic-lifestyle. Will the vaccine provide full relief? – yet uncertain! What had turned out as a mostly productive phase during the first Covid rounds, is now waning and is becoming more of a burden.

It is part of human nature that the longer something lasts, the more impatient one becomes for it to end! We cannot speed up this pandemic. It is stressful for all of us, and a challenge to businesses and cultures – and to our minds. Without panicking we must be aware of this.

We must learn to find the good aspects in all of this which will make it easier to handle it. I wrote and published a book and developed a theory that I would not have been able to do in my ‘normal’ environment. I simply would not have had the time to do so. And there is more to be done along this path.

There is a way to come out from this pandemic stronger and better positioned than we were when we were forced to enter it!


 
Lost Comfort Zone
 
(Image: pixabay.com)

8 November 2021

We need to get out of our comfort zones to move into new directions. This is what we are told by coaches over and over again. Fact is, today we are forced out of our comfort zones. Driven by tech innovation which is adopted in businesses and our societies, things are changing rapidly. What we think we know today is no longer worth anything already the following day. Many are losing ground. Moreover, cycles continue to accelerate. We already know the next disruptors which will shake up our comfort zones! The next decades will provide a degree of change never seen in human history before…

How to deal with it? This burning question will become an even more important issue. If we do not find an overall satisfying answer, the price will be increasing civil unrest, even civil wars adding up to numerous challenges to preserve our planet we are already faced with today. As a result of the loss, many tend to turn backwards to the “good old times” where things seemed to be so much easier and more comfortable… Old nationalist ideas are suddenly “en vogue” again. Well, one thing is for sure, these times will not come back. But this is part of the problem piling up.

I talked about this before: To cancel people with these ideas is not a solution. To the contrary, it adds up to it. Whatever the solution is, we will only find it by talking to each other and by achieving compromise across borders – this includes ideology borders. This is not easy to accomplish but there is no alternative that does not lead right into disaster.


Covid Hick Ups

Architecture (image: pixabay.com)

8 October 2021

Well, who thought the economically worst is already over? A quick recovery had been predicted, and in the very beginning it really looked like it. However, recovery was different speeds depending on how the pandemic situation was handled. Suddenly we realized that the global supply chain had been harmed. Those that recovered faster and placed the first orders caused a shortage in supply with those placing their orders some time later. It’s true across all sectors causing tremendous waiting lists and a price spiral for semiconductor, energy… you name it.

But – that’s not all. We are having a huge bubble in real estate markets everywhere, and that for some time now, the biggest is in China. A decline in sales together with some government action driven by the intention to make housing more affordable made it more difficult to refinance debt for real estate companies and seems to have started it all. Evergrade, the second largest Chinese developing group, was the first one in serious trouble and it looks as if it has launched a cascade with a second one already in trouble.

It seems very likely that this cascade will continue and grow globally and is likely to infect both economies and finance markets. Many already predicted for a long time a huge wave of consolidations after many years of flourishing markets. The risk of a huge global hick up has increased a lot and may cause lots of trouble in the near future, well, this too would be another kind of pandemic. It must not happen, but we should be ready for it.


Are we losing our freedom permanently?

(Image: pixabay.com)

6 September 2021

This questioned is posed by many opposing Covid-19 measures of their governments. But also many more or less honorable experts are discussing the same question. And yes, of course, the pandemic will change our behavior and how we will do things. Some will influence our lives for the better, others will be perceived as restrictions. This will gradually change over time, but we will feel it as a significant part of our journey from now on.

Many experienced the freedom of working from home and many hope they will be allowed to continue once the pandemic is over. It can be assumed now that this will become true for many employees, judging from what companies currently state.

Other things will not take such a positive turn for most people. My impression is the social divide between the upper and the “lower” has increased because of Covid, and it will continue to grow. “Rich” kids often got better education during the pandemic with parents buying them access to advanced learning apps while other kids were stuck with what their schools were offering for distance learning. Rich kids often are in the better position. There are examples where it worked well, but most experiences seem to have been more or less disastrous.

We got used to parties and events being possible with a limited number of guests only. This makes them more exclusive since you need to select (guess who will be picked) and it costs less. I fear this will remain. And yes, physical trade shows and meetings are important because you act differently in a personal meeting than online. Everybody seems to agree on that. However, it is my feeling that only senior managers will benefit from it while most of the regular staff will be stuck on Zoom just because it is so much more cost efficient.

Well, this has nothing to do with our freedom. Freedom has always been a slave to economics.

However, I do not see us as slaves of propaganda making us fear new pandemics and therefore accept limits to our freedom. These fears are always stirred up in situations like this as we learn from history. Those strategies never worked, at least not for long!

That’s another lesson.


‘Limits to Growth’

10 August 2021

… this was a bestselling book from 1972 now predicting the burst of the global growth bubble and the collapse of our civilization in 30 years. A group of scientists of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, MIT, including Dennis and Donella Meadows and Jørgen Rangers had tried in their survey, initiated by the Club of Rome, and funded by Volkswagen, to analyze our behavior and concluded this collapse due to overuse of natural resources. I remember very well the hot discussions the release of the book initiated – I was only 12 years old then.

In the past 49 years other groups of scientists repeatedly checked the outcome of the survey and always concluded that the predictions are “right on” in a shocking way. The book sees two scenarios, one being a soft landing instead of a harsh and destructive crash. However, indications strongly see a preference towards the hard landing. This preference again has been confirmed in a new survey by Gaya Harrington, a director at the global KPMG consultancy, that was published at the end of last year in the Yale Journal of Industrial Ecology. However, she also sees reason for optimism. We could see governments starting to be more concerned about environmental issues going in the right direction to prevent a crash.

I am quoting from Vice Media and wonder if there is enough time left. If we look at the speeding climate change with droughts and wildfires or floods on the other extreme across all continents, and these are only the most obvious indicators of speeding climate change, my fears are growing that it is already too late for significant change in time. More so, since huge groups in every society are still denying climate change or at least the human role in it and are seeing a socialist plot in it to enslave us. So, what to do? Go on like we did before and watch us slowly die or try to make a difference? I do not care if it is manmade or not – we need to try!

https://advisory.kpmg.us/articles/2021/limits-to-growth.html

 


Post Covid Learning Curves!

5 July 2021
Following the pandemic cost-cutting to many enterprises seems to be the right strategy regardless of whether they did benefit from the situation or really suffered. And Covid-19 even provided the tools to do so. Via video conferencing, webinars and virtual conferences that became normal during the pandemic they learned that they can save a lot of their budgets. Does that mean that business travel will never recover to old strengths? Most likely!

However, avoiding physical meetings relieves your budgets but does not always leads to best results. I think this will require another learning curve. Most recently I held a remote keynote, and it was a disturbing experience, only “interacting” with my image on the screen while I was speaking. This was most distracting – to get no feedback, no vibes back from the audience. Well, technology will further develop and save some of this issue, but this cannot be fully solved.

Moreover, nobody approached me afterwards with questions, with ideas. The usually spontaneous conversations with random people at the event before and after the speech are most valuable and quite often lead to unexpected ideas or solutions for problems you often do not have on your agenda for this event. It is circumstance that matters and cannot be simulated – at least not yet – in digital environments.

Also, the relaxed atmosphere at the private dinners following a hard-working conference day cannot be created virtually. If you think it is not important what your staff are doing in the free time wasting your expenses budget, you are wrong! It is not only good customer and partner relations or team building; very often these dinners turn into brainstorming sessions giving birth to new projects or finding solutions for stuck running ones – much quicker than you can accomplish it in a stiff or in remote working environments.

Instead of creating and paying for additional team building events in remote green spots you can accomplish and even amplify the same while pushing your sales and discussing new projects at a trade show or a conference.
How long will it take for this learning curve to show results. It will be worth looking at the figures that airlines and conference organizers release to find out.

 


Reversed Racism

Albert Einstein (photo: pixabay)

21 June 2021

Yes, I confess! I am an old white man (well, I prefer to be referred to as “older” white man)! Does it matter? Unfortunately, yes: Old white men cannot talk on behalf of people of color since they are latent racists and do not understand anything that relates to black people. At least that is what an increasing number of black activists and anti-racism groups state. Of course, we have different cultural backgrounds and lack the experience of being confronted with true racism that many people of color still must experience – but does it really mean we are dumb and unsensible nuts as certain groups of activists try to brand us? Certainly not. This is only one example out of many in recent times around the globe: White people cannot translate the marvelous Amanda Gorman poem “The Hill we Climb” presented at the Biden inauguration in January into the language of the home country? Translations always are interpretations focusing on certain aspects. The main thing it used to be that people illiterate in the original language of the literature get an idea of what the writer tried to express. French “fin de siècle” novelist Marcel Proust (a white gay man) was expressing multilevel meanings that any translation in another language must fail. Nevertheless, the book was translated in many languages opening a small window into Proust’s universe, making him widely popular beyond the French borders. This is a part of our multicultural diversity and our global prosperity. Of course, my perspective is determined by my cultural and social background, education, and life experience. Therefore, I will recognize things gradually different from any other person, no matter the color of skin. Is that a reason to stop talking with each other and join in the effort to make this planet a better place? I think not! If I am canceled for being an “old white man” it does not solve a single problem we are faced with today. To the contrary, this reversed racism creates new ones.

 


Cancel me!

7 May 2021

In these days dominated by pandemic fears we are getting used to dealing with conspiracy theories. We reply with an easy reflex: Censorship! We claim to be democracies, but we are increasingly trying to block free speech, not realizing the paradox. It is not only conspiracy theories anymore, but also perceived gender and racism issues... Anything that does not reflect the mainstream - this is defined by a group that would define themselves as being left from the middle - is cancelled. You do not need to be a racist at heart, it is enough to express some feelings of justified hatred and to use words that used to be neutral but are now declared to be racist by some so-called intellectual elite, and you may lose your career because of a shitstorm, amplified via social media channels. Even if these accusations are not true, they develop a life of their own since the majority does not reflect enough opinions that come from a trusted source. This intellectual elite expects tolerance that it is not willing to grant to others. “The left has a problem with censorship.” This quote comes from within the German communist party. It was said by Sarah Wagenknecht, leader of “Die Linke” who is highly respected across all parties throughout Germany. Because of this and other statements, she increasingly conflicts with her own people. It is a global problem. Examples of cancel culture can be found in the news around the globe almost daily now. It cannot be repeated often enough that the strength of our democracies has always been open dialogue in our societies. We are increasingly losing this, dividing our societies more and more. We need to stop it before it is too late!


 
Respect and Responsibility!

14 April 2021

In times of the pandemic responsibility is getting special focus. We must give up some of our rights, for instance, to move freely or to run our businesses. With everybody sticking to the lockdown rules, we are promised a quick end which, however, is not happening.

One of the reasons, we are told, is that too many individuals contradict the rules or simply ignore them, giving the virus space again to proliferate. It is not about belief in the pandemic but about responsibility. One can argue about the existence of the pandemic, or if the measures are too strict, but stick to the rules. We would then see if the measures work, and you would be showing respect to your fellow citizens.

It is just a small group that opposes the rules and renege their responsibility, but it has a huge impact. It is selfish behavior, possibly failing measures and prolonging the pandemic and the catastrophic effects it has on our societies and economies. Everybody will suffer from this behavior including the individuals who believe they know better and ignore the rules meant to fight the disease.

Again, the pandemic is a burning lens making failures obvious in all facets of our societies. When you are looking at the free markets, for instance, you can see similar effects. Companies are selfishly looking solely at maximizing their own profits ignoring the negative effects on the entire system. They are ignoring, or are unaware of the negative effects they are simultaneously creating for themselves – in the longer perspective. 

Our planet can only prosper, and even more remain a pleasant living environment for us if every one of us treats it with respect and lives up to our responsibility.

However, this is a naïve wish. It will not happen. There will always be this small group of selfish short-term thinkers. We must deal with them in a respectful manner. We also need this respect to protect ourselves - our freedom for instance - to find the right balance of rules and how to enforce them and preserve our civil liberties. This is not an easy path – but the only one worth taking.


"A writer does not die!"

Dieter Brockmeyer, author of Pandemia's Box

 

11 March 2021

This is a very free translation of a German proverb, meaning that books you author will make you survive in your reader’s mind. A nice thought which was true for a long time. I doubt, however, that this is still the case. Publishing books has become easy, and so has writing them. Access to Wikipedia and other online resources makes researching a book quite easy, at least a lot easier than in the past that I remember. And self-publishing via Amazon and Kindle or other platforms bypass the bottleneck of the traditional publishing companies.

As a result the number of published book has seen exponential growth, a lot of quality content but also a lot of c..p. Ghost-writing has become a booming business helping managers to boost their careers by publishing a book within only a few weeks, a book very often nobody is interested in. It is increasingly hard to find quality content in the sea of mediocrity! You publish your work, sometimes even your soul, and it disappears into the depths of the World Wide Web.

And, oh yes, there was something, book sales, it was called. Here, too, competition makes it hard to generate significant sales. That means promotion becomes overly important. This, too, has become much easier via modern online platforms referred to as social media, you say? True! But it creates the very same problem I described previously. The massiveness of new posts fed people up. They cannot follow everything anymore.

Creativity is an answer. When you come up with the ultimate unusual idea the eyeballs are yours and your book becomes visible to the world, and maybe somebody will remember it even after your death. Anyway, the web will remember, not only you, but also millions of people that in the past had no chance to be remembered at all. We only need to find them.

ORDER YOUR COPY OF PANDEMIA'S BOX HERE

 


 Looking at things in a wholistic way

Dieter Brockmeyer's very first typewriter. This is where it all began.

5 February 2021

It is nothing new. Really! In the beginning it is said the new technology will not affect jobs; it will make the job easier. We all know by now in most cases this is not true. Of course, those left on the job will have to work much harder, usually without compensation, while the company cuts costs and increases efficiency. However, there is more to it. The higher efficiency creates higher output. This output needs higher sales and therefore higher demand.

To create extra sales, especially in more mature markets, is not easy. You need to create demand, the feeling to need something that in many cases is a surplus. Today, you can get a brand new cotton t-shirt for one or two dollars. As a result, I know people that dispose of their clothes after wearing it once. This has led to the collapse of the market of used clothing. Developing countries are swamped by used clothes that destroy local cloth markets because imported used clothing is so much cheaper and has an exotic flair.

On the other hand, the demand for raw cotton is rising. Already today the formerly huge Aral lake in Asia is practically dried out because too much water is taken from the river feeding the lake to water larger and larger cotton fields.

What I want to say is that we need to stop looking at isolated issues regarding innovation, because everything is connected and anything we do at one end has an effect on the other. To look only at efficiency gains created by a new technology is just not enough anymore. If we really want to improve the state of the planet, we must start integrated analysis. If this analysis leads into action this will change how we do things significantly and hopefully in a positive way. It is a long way to go still. But it is a necessary path to take.

 

 
 

Avoiding the Digital Nightmare

21 December 2020

In a recent interview world famous historian Yuval Noah Harari said that in the worst case scenario Covid-19 would cause the world order to collapse and that we are moving towards a global surveillance society. Well, he did not predict – it is a possible option, but a highly likely one – if all goes wrong. Well, I sometimes find myself trapped in similar thoughts.

And, plainly speaking, the danger for something like this to happen is real! It is in the same way real as the simple fact that it is for us to decide what becomes reality! I mentioned this various times before and it cannot be repeated often enough. The pace of new technological inventions will continue to grow. There is nothing stopping it. This provides ongoing change and new options. We need to learn to handle this! More importantly: Any new technology is neither good nor bad, this is determined alone by who can gain control over it. This definitely is in our own hands.

But maybe we are much too serious about all this. There are increasing voices saying digitalization is only an ideology. There certainly are elements that mark ideologies in today’s heated discussions fueled even more by the Covid-19 situation creating a big cloud foremost in our minds. We need to recover or keep clear sight if we want to stay in control. However, the basic fact is not an ideology: the increasing speed of technological advancement and the need for everybody to adopt to it.

Covid-19 has increased the speed in which we adapted to digital change. Home-office, webinars and online shopping have become normal even for people that never expected they would get familiar with it. I agree with Harari that we may remember the Covid-19 period as the one where digitalization finally reached the mainstream and really took off. With the promising vaccines available now chances are good that we will overcome the pandemic quite quickly. However, the changes in our behavior will stay providing new challenges, increased by the harm done to our economies all around our globe. We will overcome, it may take some time, but we will!

I am wishing everybody a good 2021 that everybody can say at the end of it to have successfully tackled all these challenges! We can do it!

 


Future of Urbanism

A shopping lane in Berlin (photo by Dieter Brockmeyer)
 
18 November 2020
 

The ecommerce boost during the pandemic is driving physical retail stores into increased crisis with a devastating effect on urban commercial centers. I talked about it in my last column. However, this is not the only threat to our cities. In the middle of the pandemic a London based friend moved into a much bigger apartment closer to the city center. He could not have afforded that pre-Corona, now he pays less than for his old flat. “People don’t want to live in the city centers anymore,” he explained.

This is something you do not only see in London. The same effects are reported from the USA: rapidly declining rents and real estate prices in New York, San Francisco, and other big cities, while rates are shooting up in the suburbs, the countryside. People obviously want more distance from their neighbors to avoid infections. And the digital infrastructures, now also available in many remote parts of the country, make it easy.

Home Office and remote working has become immensely popular. You do not need to live close to your workplace anymore. Also, the cultural offers from cinemas, theater, museums to clubs, bars, and restaurants that distinguish the city from the “boring” countryside, are closed for the time being, forever for some. Streaming video and digital platforms like Netflix bring the most current entertainment right into your home. Disney changed its entire business strategy to digital first. This will have significant effect on the role of movie theaters beyond Covid-19. And, of course, all your shopping can be done online as well.

This sounds like a huge threat to our urban centers, everywhere! At least it will slow down the development of our cities for quite some time, even once the pandemic is over. Cities once again will have to re-invent themselves. I am sure they will! Many experts unite in the belief that big urban centers are much more capable to cope with climate change. Cities will not die but will have to transform. And once again, Corona is the amplifier.

 


Shopper’s Paradise

10 November 2020

In times like this, when even going out to buy your groceries or some clothes can become dangerous to your health, it seems a good idea to avoid these kinds of adventures. It is good that modern times provide an alternative. E-Commerce has been a growth segment for some years now, however, the Covid-19 pandemic has catapulted it to new heights – not only locally but everywhere around the globe.

During the pandemic figures of e-commerce platforms saw another boost, while more and more actual physical stores are being forced to close, many of them with little chance of reopening. Big city centers are already feeling the strain. Big shops are closing their doors permanently, and the clients are changing, some are even becoming violent.

We should not expect a fast change back once the pandemic is over. Shopping remotely is easy and comfortable once you have picked up the habit. This also means that traditional shops will feel the real strain only once they have reopened. Not all their clients will return, and it is likely that revenues will remain lower than before the crisis.

We observed it before: the pandemic has sped up developments that usually would have taken much longer. Following the pandemic we will see many changes that we will be forced to adapt to. It will be easier for shoppers, maybe, but a lot harder for (traditional) shops.

The death of city centers had already been predicted before, when the shopping malls were erected in the suburbs and shoppers preferred these locations. Urban centers put up a fight and regained some attraction.

The crisis is back following Covid-19.

And it will be tough, tougher than the first crisis, I fear.

 


The multi dimension of networking

12 October 2020

We all know how important it is to build your own network. It is important for your success in business but also for your successful career. Last week I was in a debate with Stefan Soehngen, one of the best networkers I ever met. The father of three girls made “Relationing” his business and building relations is his real passion also in his free time and he successfully launched various non-profit initiatives.

He stressed the point why he prefers the term “relationing” rather than traditional networking. Because you need to build a relation with somebody. This creates trust and trust creates business. Therefore, traditional networking is not enough. To join an afterwork party, briefly meet five new people and add their business cards to your contact list is just not enough. What Soehngen also intends is to create creative friction by bringing people from different fields together to discuss specific topics. This creates interest and new ideas and what is even more: relations!

This concept does not only apply to business, I am convinced. Trust is needed everywhere, especially in hard time like these. Trust reminds us to act responsibly and with compassion towards our neighbors since that is what we also expect from them. Earned and reliable trust makes our planet a better place and everyone and everything benefits from it: Businesses, societies, and the individual.

No matter whether we call it networking or relationing, it is the same thing with a little shift in focus. In its core it is the same thing. Let us become aware of the power of our networks – and let us use this power. Covid-19 is a good start. We can only overcome the outcome of this by working together, with solidarity.

Let us get up and do it!

 


How should we think Innovation?

8 September 2020

I have been struck by this question a lot lately. Well, I should know, you will say. After all I am an ‘Innovation Expert’. That is correct, for sure, but you get to question yourself when you start writing a book on an issue you always believed to intrinsically know. This becomes even more of an issue if you had not planned this project and it kind of cunningly imposed itself on you.

You are thrown into a different kind of thinking when you need to develop content from scratch. You begin to question anything and everything. And, in my opinion, this process is very fruitful. I previously wrote about Wholistic Innovation in this column, and at the Diplomatic World Institute projects around this concept started to pile up.

Therefore, it was the right moment to hold my breath and start thinking about what we are really trying to accomplish with our approach. Covid-19 added a tremendous dynamic to the change that was already underway. And sure, we will have to innovate all sectors of our society, and of our existence, to keep pace with the new dimensions of change.

There should be a plan behind it! We should know what direction to take and what the concept is we want to see become reality. Our decisions today will determine how we will live in the future. To take a pause now, to take a breath and define details of the concept, I guess that is time well spent!


Trust and Suspicion

11 August 2020

Our global society is facing a deep crisis. I am not talking about Corona. The pandemic only makes it more visible and you cannot deny it any longer. Governments are facing massive suspicion from their people. I am not talking about autocratic countries. The phenomenon is particularly strong in countries that were believed to be those with the strongest democratic systems.

The reasons appear to be obvious but differ depending on who you ask. However, if you try to reduce everything into a nutshell you always get a similar picture: Things are changing rapidly and administrations are slow to adapt to the new situation. This creates a situation in which the average individual feels treated unfairly. This happens not only within national borders but on a global scale.

This, among others, leads to the situation where huge international corporations can operate outside national restrictions and e.g. can avoid paying taxes while individuals usually must pay more.

Who is blamed for this situation?

Governments, of course! As a result, they increasingly loose the most valuable asset for stable societies: Trust!

Today, during the pandemic with all the restrictions and rules governments need to implement on people, both this suspicion and resistance are growing. This may also have happened without Corona, but the development would have been much slower. If governments can defeat the pandemic quickly, the impact can be compensated. The longer it takes the more difficult it will get.

All this was foreseeable and could have been tackled easily. Now it becomes increasingly difficult!


2nd Wave

17 July 2020

It is now about six months into the global pandemic and there are countries that seem to be past the worst, in Asia, and Europe, and others that are in their peak, in Latin America, the US and also South Africa…  And already fears of a second wave are spreading. It could be easy: Stick to the rules! But people are getting tired of it – self isolation or simple distancing does not correlate with human nature. When infection rates are low, why bother.

Moreover, the fears of pitiful deaths lead to suppression and cause conspiracy theories: The virus is a hoax released by “the elites” to suppress the public. This provides the base for ignoring the danger. This is nothing new. Similar behavior has been reported during other outbreaks in history.

But, of course, this does not help control the situation. Other problems are not easy to handle either. In many big cities around the globe there is simply not enough space to provide the chance of sufficient distancing, especially in the poorer quarters. While in some countries masses of people started partying again, ignoring the rules and providing breeding ground for the expected second wave. In other countries conditions do not make it possible to stick to the rules.

Therefore, this pandemic will stick. Now, it seems that researchers are making good progress in developing vaccines. If all goes well, a first one may be available from the end of this year, one developer says. However, there is always the chance of setbacks, most scientists warn. And then billions of doses need to be produced and distributed. This will take some time. And people need to accept to be vaccinated, some being highly suspicious.

We need to accept: the situation will be like this for a while. It is not a new normal, at least not for eternity, but we will be changed when we come out of it. This again provides a big opportunity for turning things for the better. The price is high, but the outcome can be worth it – if we take this chance.

As a matter of fact: We have no other choice than taking this chance!

 


Ethics, Governance and Leadership

8 June 2020

I had the pleasure to talk to Fadi Saab last week, a Lebanon based financial adviser who is highly active in promoting business ethics and anti-corruption in many international organizations, including the World Business Angel Investment Forum, WBAF. “Values seem to have slipped down on the ladder of priorities!” This was one of his not really surprising statements. Nevertheless, his passioned drive towards changing this should be an example to all of us. Now, he states, it is the perfect time to stand up and re-introduce ethics especially to start-ups who must fight hard not to fail in their business ambition.

Following Covid-19, it will be much harder for them to find investors and banks to back their business models. Investors are living in a new paradise because they can pick the start-ups that provide the best deal to them. “A good business idea and high market potential is not enough anymore. Good governance provides the extra advantage over your competitors,” Fadi said.

Let us hope this is true! Challenges will be numerous worldwide once the Covid-19 situation is under control. The danger is that businesses in their struggle to survive will go for a more selfish path trying to secure the best deals for themselves no matter how they accomplish this.

Again, the choice is on us in which world we want our children to grow up.

 


 

A New Age of Innovation

11 May 2020

People certainly become more digital in pandemic times.

However, the real boost of innovation may only be coming now.

After lockdown, our economies need to be revamped and old ways of handling business are not working anymore.

Photo: Dieter Brockmeyer wearing a mask before entering a bank in Germany

We must realize that we need to think of globalization differently. When you listen to conversations in the StartUp universe, it has already begun. “We need to localize”, you hear everywhere. Nobody knows yet how this will work.

To give an example: Producing a chocolate cake in France to ship it frozen to South Africa for distribution in supermarkets is stupid. Consider how much oil is burned on the way and how much more energy wasted to keep the cake frozen across the ocean. Why not consider licensing the cake recipe to local South African bakeries instead? In addition to reducing heavy oil consumption it also would create jobs locally.

Technology alone does not provide the answers. That means we need to redefine the term innovation. We need a holistic approach including social and environmental developments.

Alternative development models are on the rise!

They really are, but this does not necessarily mean that they will succeed. The vast majority is simply waiting for markets to open again and to continue as they did before following the old mantra of maximizing profits.

There sure is a window of opportunity to create change to a more sustainable future. We must take it, or we will return to the old ways.

But what would this mean for mankind?


Let us redefine the term globalization

6 April 2020

We all underestimated this virus! Everybody! The entire globe is in shut down with rising death rates almost everywhere, with the worse still to come in most places. Afterwards a global recession will be unavoidable with more sorrows for people! However, what I said in the last column remains true: It’s the hard way – but we are learning some lessons of what went wrong the last decades. Decentralization, as I said, is not only a trend for setting up business cases and transactions online but also in the “real world”. Produce the stuff where it is needed. This does not mean globalization is dead, to the contrary. It just needs to be thought of differently.

And there are opportunities in this crisis. We are already seeing a huge increase in innovation. Small and large business owners are looking for new ways to keep at least some of their income streaming in. They are doing things they never thought of before and very often – it works, even creating benefit for our tortured societies.

 Digitalization is taking a huge leap forward. Employees understand the benefits of the home office and employers realize that they are not losing control. Video conferencing is on the rise, many business trips for simple meetings will remain virtual once the crisis is over. This list can be continued without limit and change the way we work, socialize, live beyond the crisis.

Also, this crisis will be over some day. It is sure it will be a different world. How different and if it will become a better world is up to us!
On the other hand, there is a lot of selfishness and greed around us only waiting for its chance to rule the world.

We must remember: It is a global crisis that we only can overcome working together globally.

Let us redefine the term globalization!


Lights Out!

10 March 2020

Big conventions around the globe are being cancelled because of Covid-19, the Corona virus outbreak. The epidemic has now reached many countries in the world, sending shockwaves and disrupting many industries including fair trade constructors, aviation and the hospitality business. It looks like this is just the beginning! Many fear a worldwide recession, maybe the worst that has ever happened. Sure, our globe, our industries, is closely connected making it easy for any virus to spread quickly.

However, for the time being, this virus seems to be a mild one. Lethal rates are currently below 2 percent globally. Of course, everything is very dynamic still. But experts expect that the lethal rate will decline in the long term. There seem to be quite a few unrecorded cases, obviously mild ones that most likely were considered to be simply flu. Depending on how many these are, the real lethal rate could be much lower. If this proves to be the case, after the first panic wave, this provides the chance that also global shockwaves don’t become as severe as many fear.

Even then something is likely to have changed in our minds and have an impact on the global economy. At least that’s the hope. Maybe we will have learnt that it is not good to focus on global production and supply chains in a single spot just because it is a little bit cheaper.  Decentralization is not only a term in the blockchain universe and new banking. It also applies to new economics in total – to make markets more resilient to crises like future virus outbreaks. Decentralized structures may prove to be more stable, also for the globalized economy.


Protagonists of Change

11 February 2020

To deal with innovation is a dialectic process; I talked about it early in this column. To deal with this situation requires certain skills. Obviously the smaller a society is, the easier it adapts to new ideas. The limited number of stakeholders speeds the process towards a decision in favor of innovation. The more complex a society is, the more difficult it gets.

However, we’re not all living in small countries like Liechtenstein that is now bundling all its forces to become a serious player in the new decentralized finance industry based on the blockchain. To the contrary, we usually live in much more complex societies and are confronted with much stronger resilience.

Being in innovation you always need to see yourself as avantgarde. Whether you like it or not! And you always need to question yourself: Is it really innovation that drives me or some selfish attitude? You need to assure yourself. This gives you the strength to deal with resilience and with frustration. And still, after a long period of feeling like fighting windmill blades, somebody else may bypass you, taking the honor of that innovation you had been fighting for all along. You were too early but he came at exactly the right time.

Innovation – and change – can’t be stopped, but it needs the right character to become a protagonist of change. It is not easy!

 


 

It is a war about what?

13 January 2020

Our globe really appears to be in a state of geostrategic instability that seems to endanger peace to a degree not seen for many years. This is not untypical in periods of constant change with old and former stable structures being challenged by changing or new protagonists. We had it before.

The hot spots of crisis are numerous, and it seems we just slipped by major disaster. In this case it is a dangerous game played by both protagonists. Both can’t afford a hot war but need to appear strong towards their own country. Moreover, both know it about the other making it easy to place stings into the opponent’s flesh. There will be no harsh reply.

However, the longer the game goes on the stings get stronger. And the stronger they get the more unpredictable is the answer. In addition, other risks of fueling the conflicts by incident increase. I do not want to imagine what would have happened if US citizens would have been on the flight unintentionally downed!

It’s a dangerous game indeed! Both protagonists are not likely to listen to advice. However, in this case and at this point there is some hope. Let’s see how long it lasts. However, this does not decrease the risk coming from the other hot spots. Earth is once more at the rim. It has been before. Till today it survived regardless the deep scars on its surface. However: There is no guarantee it will be always like this!


What slows down Innovation?

8 December 2019

We all love to see ourselves as innovators, always on the cutting edge of developments, technological, social… it does not matter. We want to see us first. Unfortunately, very often it is just the opposite!

Why is this! At both panels I hosted in November this question, too, played a role. Why is blockchain not picking up faster? For sure, blockchain innovation got retarded: In 2018 Bitcoins did skyrocket and so-called Initial Coin Offerings, ICO, promised to solve all financing problems forever. We all know there is nothing like easy money and quickly the market was reminded of this the hard way. The bubble burst faster than any bubble did before! Early this year Bitcoin and blockchain were declared dead by many who had been sceptic before! Of course, they were wrong too!

Blockchain Technology and Cryptos are back, without the hype, or at least much less of it. It was stressed that the blockchain itself must be disconnected from currencies because blockchain still is synonymous for bitcoins. We need more awareness that the technology provides the basis for secure and transparent online actions.

Of course, this will take time. The resentment at work last year will remain active as the pattern always remains the same: On one side you’re having very quick adopters showing the innovation’s potential. Shortly after they proved the model works, besides first serious adopters, those who follow are only seeing the chance for a quick buck creating a huge bubble and failures – killing the initiative and strengthening the opponents. Innovators need to struggle to slowly re-establish the model, always battling with those that, at last, understand that innovation can’t be stopped and therefore try to implement tight regulation.

Some regulation – or standardization – obviously is necessary to create a level playing field. However too much of it is slowing things down trying to restrict new opportunities within the borders of the old model. This is the basic model that can be applied to all innovation cycles. They are active within the big picture but also in the little steps within it. What we didn’t mention yet are the consumer’s comfort zones that delay market implementation once innovation is ready to market.
That’s the struggle. I don’t think we can do a lot about it.


The golden Age of Television – is it dead already?

14 November 2019

These years have been proclaimed “the golden age of television” and, true enough, never have there been so many high-quality TV shows and series produced around the globe. Not only new global streaming giants like Amazon or Netflix, that newly entered the entertainment markets and started to develop their own content libraries, also forcing traditional players to invest more into unique content. Competition is good for business; this proverb seems to prove right again.

However: Too much of it may cause the opposite effect. Most high-end TV series are way too expensive to be recouped via the domestic market. With TV channels and platforms multiplying in all local markets around the globe in the last 30 years, the viewership base for individual outlets declined making it even more difficult. US old and new majors recoup their premium productions via international sales and that is a way many other protagonists would like to choose. However, even with increasing platform numbers, slots for purchased licenses are declining since more and more platforms decide to produce their own serial content. Co-production may be a way out of this dilemma. But also, here capacities are limited.

At some point this bubble will burst! It does not seem it is going to happen soon (…but you never know and the launch of Disney+ may soon mark the turnaround). For the time being many interesting projects are coming to life, projects that never would have had a chance.

At this year’s ‘mipcom’, an audiovisual content market held every October in Cannes at the French Cote d’Azur, the new German streaming platform ‘joyn’, a joint venture of Germany’s ProSieben Sat.1 TV group and Discovery Communications, introduced their event series to launch the service’s premium offer this fall, a co-production with Chile: “Dignity” is about the horrible events around “Colonia Dignidat”, a cruel pseudo religious sect by German immigrants in Chile, and its founder Paul Schäfer who was supported by Chilean dictator Pinochet. Great story, great cast! However, the press conference was not attended by many journalists: Too much competition by other premieres of great TV series the entire week.

Can this be considered symbolical? Maybe!


International Content

15 October 2019

Karen Donders, head of media at VUB’s SMIT-imec research center in Brussels keynoted at a TV innovation conference by European Broadcasting Union, EBU, this month.

She referred to the situation in Europe when she said that local stakeholders should regain control over its content. “Netflix, Facebook and others, they are great companies, don’t get me wrong, but they do nothing for our society.”

This is true, however, not only in Europe. Yes, of course, Netflix for instance is investing heavily also in drama series by local producers. But, is it local content? No! It has local characters and locations, but it must be in line with international standards so it can be distributed also in other markets and usually follows the US drama lines.

What Donders suggested was to strengthen local and national competitors of the dominant international entertainment players.

Competition, no doubt is increasing, not only on the US domestic market but around the globe – with a chance to strengthen the regional cultural heritage. There is an opportunity window. Let’s open it. To do so surely needs the support of local authorities.

Again Donders referred to the situation in Europe by saying that regulation targeting to control the global players should not have a negative effect on local and small players: “Often we found out four or five years later that big players meant to be controlled were the ones to benefit from it.” And again, this is also true outside of Europe and others can learn from these examples.

Well, maybe it helps that Netflix in Afrikaans has a simple meaning: “Just Films!” On the other hand, it is those films transporting local national heritage as much as global understanding. Therefore, “Just Films” must not be underestimated!

 


 

How the Diplomatic World Institute is Involved with Global Innovation and the TIME industries

 

13 September 2019

Innovation and the TIME (Telecommunications, Internet, Media and Entertainment) industries are playing a major role with the Diplomatic World Institute, DWI. The situation on a macro-level is complex regarding the media and entertainment industries.

Photo credit: Eurasian Women Community Press Agency

On one hand there is global big business and on the other hand the rapid change driven by new technologies - resulting in media and entertainment, content driven as they are, being disrupted earlier than other industries.

Ultimately books, articles, music pieces or movies are content – and content is nothing but data, and data is what is processed in a digital world. That is why, for example, the music industry has been the first victim to disruption in its distribution channels. We are living in times of convergence making media an integrated part of the tech world that drives telecommunications and the internet as the global platforms for almost any form of communications and transactions.

This experience within the media and entertainment industries provides a multitude of best- (but also worst-) case scenarios, which can be applied to every other industry. It is an ongoing process of new waves of disruption driven by fast technical innovations. Moreover, this succession of interests makes it much more difficult to live up to the high degree of social responsibility both industries undoubtably have that is best illustrated by the Fake News debates everywhere. The impact of technical and social innovations on our societies and the impact of how it is communicated is immense. TIME industries are playing a significant role in it. And that is why it will also play a significant role in the work of DWI.

 

 


Digitalization and Sustainability

13 August 2019

Digitalization makes things easier! Well, we all know by now that this early assumption was playing the positive card too much. More democracy? Look what China is doing these days and see how some big data companies are treating consumer rights. Moreover, fear is justified that many of the jobs as we know them today will be lost. Nobody can tell yet what will replace them.

Image by igormattio from Pixabay

It can’t be repeated often enough: Any invention can be used for both – for good and for bad. It takes a lot of effort – and responsibility – to secure open and free societies. It’s the same when we look towards sustainability and the protection of our planet.

Artificial Intelligence can provide lots of great solutions to help us avoid waste or carbon and to deal with the waste that can’t be avoided or to plant new trees in big numbers. But it also consumes lots of energy and releases huge amounts of heat from electronic devices and the growing server farms.

Now, it seems we are so much attracted by the things that can be moved in a sustainable way that we don’t see the risk. Again, there is another side to the coin – as always: Blockchain Technology and Cloud Computing increase the demand for energy substantially and growing server farms around the globe defuse huge amounts of waste heat into the environment.

The renaissance of traditional nuclear power may not be as “clean” as environmental activists claim. Yes, it is carbon neutral – however, powerplants are very advanced steam engines that are also defusing more heat into the surrounding than traditional coal power plants. We should take this much more in consideration. Sustainability is a must. India launched a program to improve home air conditioning by halving at least 50% of the power consumption. In a few years India expects over a billion private air conditioning systems in the cities. Today’s devices are cheap but consume lots of energy and are giving lots of waste heat into already hot urban streets. There are solutions for many problems. We only need to approach them!

 


 

Does Alibaba buy Netflix?

10 July 2019

For sure this was one of the stunning theses offered by one of the speakers of this year’s MCMS Congress held in Budapest: Alibaba will buy Netflix! Sure enough, the world leading video on demand service has generated a huge debt load that may become a problem once interest rates go up again significantly. It sure would help Alibaba’s global expansion plans – in a field where the Chinese online retail giant has not yet a lot to offer.

(Photo from Pixabay)

Still two years ago I, too, would have been very much in favor of this idea. However, the world has changed a lot since. Especially the trade conflict between China and the US created an atmospheric change. Huawei was banned from doing business in the US. Well, even with the overall conflict being deferred for the time being while bilateral negotiations are going on – nobody knows what the outcome will be. Now, it doesn’t seem very likely that a deal like an Alibaba Netflix one would have a chance to get past authorities on either side of the fence. Netflix is too much of a symbol for the global strength of US entertainment to be sold to China, one may think.

However, again this illustrates how much the global economy has changed recently. National selfishness, especially of strong global players, are getting increasingly into battle with free trade. Where will this lead to? I don’t know. Still this may prove to be a short episode in global trade history. But it also can be the beginning of a paradigmatic change to last for a longer period.


Cultural Wealth!

13 June 2019

Africa is rich – we pointed that out in earlier columns. However, it is not only rich in resources and talents; it’s also rich in its cultures! Arts from Africa have been popular around the world for many years, but usually this only applied to folk or ethnic arts going way back in colonial times. What’s newly arising in big art countries is an interest for contemporary art descending from Africa. And the growth potential is big, since Africa’s today’s share of the global arts market is only about less than one percent.

(Photo by Gladys Amaefule on Pixabay)

I met the founder of Undiscovered Canvas, a France based African art promotor found by the South African descendant Nomaza Nongqunga who sure is a pacemaker for modern Arts from those countries. Last year, she was advisor to the French cultural initiative Africa2020 visiting Nigeria, South Africa, Kenya and Ethiopia, talking to prominent businessmen and women, and discussing the President’s vision on bridging the gap between France and different countries in Africa, by inviting African creatives to showcase their creativity and to tell their own stories to the French population in 2020.

She says that there is a lot of interest by collectors and investors. But, of course, it is also hard work to attract and to prepare the grounds. However, it is worth the effort and is another step towards full integration of this very rich continent that for way too long has only been a playground for global players and interests. Transporting cultural identities in a self-confident way also opens the doors for commercial success.

 


 

Fortress Europe

15 May 2019

Soon, on May 26, there will be elections again for the European Parliament that also determines who will be the new president of the powerful European Commission that prepares most of the Union’s legislation – at least that part that is initiated via the Commission. Let’s not get into detail here, it’s too complicated for the space available here.

(Photo credit: Rudy and Peter Skitterians on Pixabay)

 

However, what seems to be unavoidable is a strong move towards the right, the far right, driven by strengthened populist movements all across Europe. The question only is how strong the leap will be.

Populists are talking about the Fortress Europe that keeps everyone out they claim not to belong in the Union. This is contradictory in a way since other positions of these parties are targeting to make the European Union weaker and return sovereignty to the individual nations. There seems to be overwhelming fear that Europe is flooded by Muslims and other refugees mainly from Africa that “only” need to cross or bypass the Mediterranean Sea.

Influence of these groups are likely to increase in Europe as it does in other parts of the world. Even if their success in the elections is smaller than some are fearing, the impact on European politics will increase and the open society European countries have been so proud of in the past,is likely to be harmed, and Europe – to some degree – may indeed become some kind of fortress.

This will not be easy to overcome. The success of so-called populist parties around the globe is fueled to a high degree by the fears created by speeding global change and driving globalization which many blame to be the reason. However, change will not stop, it rather continues to pick up speed. But people, especially those in fear of being the losers in this process, are longing for their old comfort zones. They believe them to be reestablished in their old national borders! This is wrong, of course! And people will learn some day.

However, a lot of harm may be done by then! The only way to balance it is to keep arguing and promote the potentially positive outcome of this change! This always requires adapting the global regulatory framework to this change to create a wide feeling of justice.

Unfortunately, this doesn’t look close to happen. Too many parties believe they will profit from the situation as it is. This may prove fatal in the long run!



TV and Film – Africa on the rise!

15 April 2019

Walking on shining beach boulevard “La Croisette” in Cannes these days you easily get the impression that Africa, and specifically its film and TV industries, is on the rise. Cannes, that’s not only the prestigious film festival at the end of May, its also two huge TV content markets, miptv in Spring and mipcom in Fall.

“Creative Africa” is an umbrella brand present in all these markets, creating more visibility for the African film industry every year. Ijeoma Onah is the founder of the Nigerian Film and TV Summit. At this year’s miptv, there was a two day showcase presentation within the official conference program. The summit is regularly held in Cannes, Los Angeles and Paris, exploring options for co-productions of France and the USA with Nigeria.

Indeed, Nigeria has become a strong player within the Creative Africa group: Mo Abudu, iconic Nigerian film producer, receiver of this year’s miptv medal of honor, limited attendance to his presentation to those TV industry executives that create global impact.

It’s a long way to go – still. However, Africa made it on to the map of being recognized globally for its creative powers. That’s, at least another small step on the road to something big in the end!

 


 

 Complex Relations

12 March 2019

The media and entertainment industries were the first ones to face rapid disruption by digitalization, for a simple reason: media and entertainment services, that’s content, and that’s nothing else but data. Data is what is being processed over the internet. This situation makes the media and entertainment industries a best-case-practice to almost all other industries that are disrupted in similar ways.

Photo credit: Computer left on the beach (Rabirius)

Disruption is going on since new technology waves are approaching in waves. This means continuous transition – and struggles, illustrated for example by issues like “fake news”, shrinking consumption of traditional news media, or declining music sales!

On the other hand, media and entertainment have an immense influence on our society, combined with a huge responsibility for our planet that truly is “in transition”. To create awareness for the United Nation’s Sustainability Goals, media and entertainment are necessary. However, due to their internal struggles they cannot live up to their potential of helping individuals around the globe to cope with the challenges.

What is needed is a wider debate including all stakeholders within the media and entertainment industries and beyond. It should be a dialogue including global and national stakeholders: businesses, social groups and diplomacy. At the same time, we want to foster the UN Sustainability Goals together working towards a better world. Media and Entertainment has all it needs to have a powerful voice in this.


Phenomenon Esports!

15 February 2019

Thousands of young people watching live and for hours other young people hacking their keyboards moving crazy patterns on a big screen, and millions watch it online on their private screens: That’s esports!

Those outside this universe never will understand what is going on. Esports is a phenomenon with growing success. At this year’s EsportsBar in Cannes, Ryan Wyatt, head of Global Gaming and Virtual Reality at Google, said that in 2018 a total 61 billion hours of game content was watched on YouTube, about 10 percent of it was live streamed esport competitions.  It’s still a small but growing part of the overall games industry, that is likely to become one of or THE leading global industries. In only 11 years, annual global revenue rose to over 100 billion USD.

And the figures also for esports are growing significantly: Jens Hilbers from the esport investor Bitcraft explained that today the big esport game brands like League of Legends and others attract between 60 and 80 million players per month. He predicts that these figures soon will double: “There is no reason why this should not happen”, he said.

While esports in media for long was an online phenomenon, today, more and more traditional TV operators realize the opportunity and launch dedicated esports channels. This again was documented at this year’s EsportsBar with Disney owned sports network ESPN being among the winners of the Game Shaker Awards.

There is one investor in the esports universe that predicts much more growth in this sector: “With Artificial Intelligence (AI) eating up more and more jobs you need to keep people busy to avoid riots!” – he predicts. “Panem et Circensis”, that is truly not a new idea. However, the good thing about the future is we can’t know what is going to happen. Therefore, lots of these predictions on the future do not become true.

Esports for sure is a fascinating universe and I’m sure will continue to have a bright future. Here I try a look into the crystal ball, and don’t think (or rather: hope) we will need esports to compensate for AI! However, the debate on esports has just begun. Regulators around the globe start taking a close look at all implications connected to this matter. They will have to learn that a global phenomenon can’t be solved with a local approach. But on the other hand: This is not a new experience!


Africa is IT

By Dieter Brockmeyer and Kirtan Bhana, founding editor of The Diplomatic Society

2019-01-16

Last December (2018), at the end of Austria’s European Union (EU) Presidency, a conference on Africa in Vienna was hosted by Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurtz where he urged  economic experts from Europe and Africa to vastly increase engagement on the African continent.

Photo credit: Europe meets Africa (Rabirius)

At last, one may say! Africa is and always will be an extremely wealthy continent, abundant in raw materials and natural mineral resources. During colonization and the challenges of post-colonial independence these riches cast a curse on the continent leaving conflict, disease and under development in its wake.   

Today in Africa, unfettered by overdevelopment, mobile telecommunication penetration is extremely high with technical coverage often better than in so-called developed countries. It creates innovative dynamic and simplified solutions. Now combine that with new technology trends like Internet of things (IoT) Artificial Intelligence (AI) and the Blockchain and you have a highly compatible developing environment. Let’s start doing it!

 China has recognized Africa’s true wealth and has been constantly at work investing in infrastructure for mutual benefit to realize the potential of the Africans and the immense bounty still undiscovered.  

Many able bodied Africans, mainly young males, notice the fortunes and well-being of their northern neighbours in Europe. The Europeans, who once enslaved Africans, divided them and subjugated them through economic and cultural tyranny, stole their land, identity and humanity.  And now Europe also begins to wake up to this reality that their colonization has had on the people of Africa and the shambles of post-colonial divisions that have come home to roost.  

Africa’s wealth is no longer limited to raw materials, the huge number of young, ambitious and talented people with access to information and technology and a thirst and hunger to lift themselves and increase their prospects for wealth creation are also beginning to change the perception of Africa.

The continent is rising once again. Visa free travel, one stop borders, air, road and sea infrastructure being developed and upgraded, increasing regional cooperation and the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (CFTA) will see intra African trade boosted by 52% in 2022. Investment and tourism are adding further momentum to Africa’s rise.


Is the blockchain party already over?

5 December 2018

Many have been asking this question since last December, since when Bitcoins appear to know only one direction – downwards. Some even predict a “death-spiral” to 0! Moreover, also Initial Coin Offerings, short ICOs, that were still highly praised early this year, can’t find investors anymore. If you only look at this, you sure get the impression there’s some truth to it.

However, Blockchain is much more than that. When you look towards Asia for instance, you will find many blockchain projects that are already successfully “up and running”. Also, in the US and Europe many good projects are shaping up: In health, for the supply chain, as passport systems identifying products or persons. Identity Management is the new buzz word here. The potential impact of blockchain is immense and strongly bottling up. Within the media and entertainment industry, I know about some fine projects to change the eco-system.

Some got delayed because they wanted to raise their funds via an ICO – and now are looking for other sources and will start next year. So, ICO is truly dead? I doubt it, at least not in the longer perspective. It got killed when, after the first highly successful ICOs, many shabby projects flooded the market with investors losing most of their investments. More cautious analysis of projects and new rules will eventually cause a turnaround. The advantages of the model are just too promising to refrain from using it in long run.

With bitcoins it’s pretty much the same. Their numbers of coins within one currency are strictly limited, this avoids inflation. However, by introducing other crypto currencies, over 1,000 today, this positive effect got distorted, some bank analysts state. Well, when you look at bitcoins, you’ll see that today’s value is still above the year 2017 average, therefore there remains a strong possibility for bitcoins to rise again. It’s all about trust and how to create – or destroy it.

However, I would prefer another scenario. I would prefer, if volatility of the cryptos would stop and the valuable changes would stay in moderate corridors. Then, at last, cryptos can be used as a normal currency. Who pays his everyday goods with cryptos or who accepts them under the threat of immense value gains or losses over the next few days or weeks? Stable currencies, that would be a big step forward! I fear, that’s only wishful thinking.

What about the Bitcoin “Death-Spiral”? Of course, nobody can rule that out completely. However, at least in the long run, this could be for the benefit of competing currencies.

 


 

“Diversity“ – A mega trend?

20 November 2018

We are talking a lot about so-called mega trends. These are trends that will determine our global society for the next couple of years. Artificial intelligence, for instance, has been identified to be one of these trends. That’s easy to understand. But “Diversity”?

Photo credit: “mipcom”

Yes, it is! Diversity, that is not only the diversity of cultures and races. In today’s definition it also includes the diversity of sexes, genders and lifestyles. It includes the handicapped as well as - well, you name it! It describes the diversity of the world. Yes, it’s colorful and the more globalized our world is getting the more this issue will gain momentum and importance.

Of course, each trend has its opposite, shaking our everyday politics with intolerance and so-called protectionism, in the long-run very likely causing the opposite – instability in economics and society. Therefore, to talk about diversity is important, making it a true mega trend.

Companies do realize it, like trade show organizer Reed Midem. During this year’s TV content market mipcom Reed Midem for the second time, at the Cannes Carlton, hosted the Diversify TV Excellence Award initiated by Diversity TV, a group of professionals mostly with African background only three years ago. Of course, Reed Midem backs the initiative for marketing reasons. However, you only use trends for your marketing that you expect to improve your business. Supporting diversity makes the world prosper!

We should make sure diversity is widely recognized as a mega trend!

 


 

Social Media kills democracy?

9 October 2018

Quite a few scientific surveys conclude, and politicians mourn social media like Facebook would kill democracy. So-called filter bubbles would only allow news to reach the individual that he already believes in, so he couldn’t be reached with real news anymore.

As a matter of fact: filter bubbles are nothing new, the algorithm only supports the reader (or user) to easier find his preferred content! I know people in the old days that only bought the daily newspaper to read the sports pages. They too could not be reached with more sophisticated content.

Some may remember the term “Bar room talk”- very similar to today’s “hate and populist speech” in the net - that was when people talked in pubs about politics usually not agreeing with mainstream opinion. In fact, in this case there were two types of (analog) filter bubbles: The “mainstream” one and the bar room one.

The first successfully made believe that everybody – more or less – was in line with official politics, the second contradicted that what was split up in numerous “cells” across the country. Of course, social media makes a difference now! Bar room cells now realize having some power and they speak up and are heard while the main stream is suddenly aware of a threat and doesn’t know how to cope with it.

Is this a danger to democracy? No, I don’t think it is! We need to learn how to tackle the situation. This can’t be by banning so-called hate speech by installing technical filters deleting unwanted opinions from the social platforms. History proves this strategy wrong. It never worked. Moreover, this indeed could be the first step for democrats killing democracy!

Let’s rather lean back and try to find arguments to defend our values and the majority! That’s how democracies should tackle this challenge! That’s no a easy task for sure, but democracy never was easy…

 


 

Blockchain and data protection

10 September 2018

I often wrote about sense or nonsense of the current global data protection hype in this column. I do it again because quite a few – older, I must admit – digital natives don’t believe in the success of blockchain technology. “It’s killed by data protection”, they believe. True enough, under the European GDPR rules individuals must be granted the right of deleting data stored about them at any time. However, you can’t delete data once it is stored in the blockchain!

“Our blockchain services don’t require to store personal data”, I was told by a manager of a big international tech company. So, this is a solution, only to create services that don’t need sensitive data? I don’t think so! This would mean many innovative services can’t be developed. For instance, I’m thinking about passport or health services that, in the future, could allow you to travel without conventional passports or get perfect medical treatment wherever you are, also on emergency sites and even when traveling through the Kalahari Desert.

Of course, this would require lots of sensitive data to be stored in the blockchain, your fingerprint or biometric info, for instance, or your medical records. Data protection activists around the globe keep campaigning against storing this information on passports or so-called health cards. They fear governments, corporations or criminals could use this for the individuals’ disadvantage – mildly speaking. On the other hand, if this data could be accessed anywhere, of course, only by the relevant peer group, public services or emergency medical care could be improved a lot.

From all we can tell now it’s very hard, if not impossible, to hack the blockchain. Of course, that’s for the time being. We don’t know how it will be with much faster computers already in development. Indeed, there is risk. Innovation always includes risk! Any invention can be used for the good or the bad! Is that a reason to abandon innovation? With this attitude we would still be stuck in the stone ages! And from experience: Innovation never could be stopped! Delayed, yes, but never stopped.

What does this mean for the blockchain? Well, everybody should draw their own conclusion!


Migration out of Africa

7 August 2018

Populist movements in the ‘old world’ do profit a lot from heating up the fear of millions of Africans willing to come to Europe to improve their personal situations. True: there is a willingness to migrate and to take the risk of life to seek the promised land. And sure enough, it has to do with mistakes culminating from the past and from missed opportunities to improve the situation. So, is there really a dark wave looming up in front of European shores? I prefer a much more positive scenario!

(Photo: pixabay.com)

Recently, I have been talking to young people based in the Nigerian melting pot Lagos, representing very ambitious startups ready to take on the world. They have no notion to leave Nigeria, in the contrary, they want to create the best for themselves and their country from inside their country. And I know about similar ambitions in other African countries.

Africa is full of highly intelligent and ambitious young people, picking up new technologies fast. It will take time, of course! And there is a long and steep road ahead. However, the seed has been planted: Africa could become a global innovation hub. And the good thing: It is being created from within the African soul, no outside support is needed. Well, better, of course, if there is support. This would speed up things and the dark wave on Europe looming in some minds will disappear. Let’s work on this vision to become true and let’s forge an alliance for the better of Africa and the entire world.

Supporting investments must be made for the right projects. This could cause a problem because it requires a specific perspective. No doubt, Europe needs to alter its perspective on Africa. Sometimes I really like to repeat myself: The seed has already been planted – by Africans themselves! That alone is good news!

 


 

Blockchain, cryptos and trust

17 July 2018

Is it a hype? Yes, it is! Regardless the potential of this great technology and the speeding change connected with it – now there are a lot of projects with the mere purpose of making quick money. However, we all know there is nothing like quick money, at least not in the long run.

(Photo: pixabay.com)

A lot of the investors in ICOs, Initial Coin Offerings, a decentralized way to finance projects, in some way like a traditional IPO, are endangered of losing their investment entirely. The power behind the ICOs is trust they create the value of tokens and crypto currencies. Faced with widespread losses the investors will lose trust not only in the weak projects. The danger is that also good projects will suffer badly once the bubble bursts.

Moreover, traditional banks and finance institutions, not to mention states that don’t like the idea of losing influence in a decentralized world driven by blockchain are likely to use fading trust in alternative models to promote and stabilize their traditional ones. Does that mean the area of blockchain is already in danger of dying without being off the blocks yet?

No! Currencies, Tokens and ICOs are only one side of the medal. Projects in other fields, like in e-government or passport services for arts, real estate or collectors…, may be slowed down only a bit and for a while but will be the first to recover and return to full strength of changing our society. However, if our scenario hits the markets, ICOs will have a hard time and - worst case – they may disappear – at least for some time.

Again, I’m convinced that even in that worst-case-scenario they will come back, possibly via existing running blockchain projects of high reputation that will try to finance expansion via an ICO. Through the trust in these projects, step by step, also the trust in ICOs would be reestablished. The return would be a mature one. And maturity is what the markets and our societies need!


Who started that “war“?

18 June 2018

Indeed, President of the United States Donald Trump introduced a completely new way of diplomacy, very frankly stating his “America First” doctrine. However, this trade war with the European Union, EU – if it is really going to happen – is Trump the only one to blame? Who came up first with the idea of duty like obstructions?

(Photo: pixabay.com)

It’s especially the big US tech conglomerates like Microsoft, Apple, Google and Amazon who dominate the European IT and internet market, making huge profits while paying almost zero taxes in Europe. Therefore, the idea of a special VAT, designed for US conglomerates with gross revenues of over €50 million was born. Well, it’s not a duty, it’s a tax, however, the result is pretty much the same. It’s not in place yet, but the idea has been discussed for a while and we can be sure this was watched very carefully in the US, both by corporations and authorities.

It makes no difference, that it was not designed as a duty and that it is meant to overcome the disadvantages of an unharmonized tax system within the EU. Google, for instance, has its European headquarter in Ireland where it must pay the tax for all its European revenues. It has chosen Ireland because it was promised extremely low tax rates. The formerly poor country draws a huge benefit from it because of the creation of jobs and infrastructure investments, while partner countries in the EU are left with nothing.

Moreover, the General Data Protection Regulation was installed to put a leash on hungry data collectors from the US. It increases costs for Facebook and Google for their European operations, yes, but it also backfires especially on smaller companies and startups within Europe that are slowed down in bringing innovation to the market. The new e-privacy directive expected to be in place next year, is going to make it worse for both, international companies acting in the EU and local ones.

From the outside perspective all that matters is that authorities are installing obstructions that prevent US companies from acting as freely as before or, at least, that it will be more expensive for them to do so. Of course, there is a big difference in the orchestration of the Trump administration. But it is not so easy to blame only one side for the new direction. The EU should solve its internal and structural problems in a different way, through reforming the Union, something that’s been overdue for a while, in order not to provide arguments to those in favor of a trade war which, eventually, will harm the entire globe.

 


 

Protecting your data, innovation killer or necessity?

21 May 2018

The Facebook data “scandal” was only the tip of an iceberg. Data protection is one of the most hyped issues with Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), already introduced two years ago, but after a grace period only now binding for everybody! It creates lots of extra bureaucracy for every country and for every individual doing business – not only in Europe. It is binding worldwide when you have any business in Europe. Not only European politicians foster the idea to make “our high standards of data protection our business model for the digital world and to export it globally”.

(Photo: pixabay.com)

To succeed in the digital world has very much to do with leaving one’s comfort zone and to open up to completely new models and a much faster pace of life. Data Protection in many cases is not much more than protecting the comfort zone and old behavior. Therefore, it will rather backfire especially on Europe. Sticking to these rules will rather slow down innovation. And industries and founders are not only faced with tech driven speeding up competition in every field but are also hindered to respond to it because of a restrictive legal framework.

Don’t get me wrong, there needs to be some kind of legal framework and protection to provide a level playing field for individuals AND corporations. However, the definition of what “privacy” is differs depending of what part of the world you are in. Moreover, the understanding of the term is changing, driven by global communication. Young people and their behavior in the web is often described as careless by elders. No, it’s different and often very pragmatic. Of course, we only hear about those who are careless and the problems they create for themselves.

Let’s take a step back and analyze first a minimum standard for a new privacy understanding. This will not be easy. In the long run protecting your comfort zone will not stop the global change we are facing, but it will slow down innovation and a new balance in a changed world!


Facing Mr. Evil

17 April 2018

This kind of shitstorm was to be expected at some point and Facebook is in its biggest crisis now. But let’s look at what really happened. A service provider forwarded Facebook user data illegally to their client Cambridge Analytica who used it in a highly questionable manner. Facebook’s mistake was that of not communicating in a transparent way and missing to close the breach. Let us try to analyze the harm done. CA was able to define people that could be accessible for the Trump message, so they could be addressed directly. Well, they would have received the message anyway, one way or another since they were open for the arguments.

(Photo: pixabay.com)

I’m very sceptic on how reliable personal profiles really are that you can create off social media data. People lie on Facebook and liking a page does not really mean that you are open to this subject. Most of my likes are because I want to support a friend without knowing the band or the organization – and I never take a closer look at it. Profiles created out of that data therefore are not reliable since a significant share of social media profiles is not reliable.

Of course, it was a mistake that should never have happened and as it did, Facebook should at least have been more transparent immediately. Now to quit Facebook or to demand shut down of the entire service is just overdoing things once more. Facebook – and other social media – has become part of our lives. The company will react and it is very likely that Facebook will rise stronger from the ashes. And users should do what they should have done from the very beginning: Being careful what to post and who to let it see! Because no system is perfect, and leaks can always happen – and there are always those who want to take advantage of it.

 


 

Blockchain, Cryptos and Licensing of Content (or any good)

14 March 2018

No doubt: There has been (and still is) a lot of hype around crypto currencies like Bitcoin. However, when reading recent commentaries in various media comparing todays situation to the Dutch Tulip Mania in the 17th century it seems obvious that these commentators may not have fully understood what Blockchain, the technology behind cryptos, is about. The statement in the end cryptos will be dead but blockchain will survive for the operation of transaction platform. That’s true only to some degree and yes, the Kodak share sky-rocked after the company’s announcement to issue their own currency!

However, the news was not about the coin, it was about the trading platform for photographers. The coin is “only” there to allow real time transactions also transferring the agreed price for a photo – from a few eurocents to bigger amounts for package deals – in real time: Contract signed, money in the right holder’s wallet! Therefore, transaction platforms only make full sense with a coin connected to them.

Of course, in today’s hype period there is a problem and I would say it’s a big one: Volatility! Why should I give away my Bitcoins (or any other crypto) when I expect its value to double, let’s say, in the next six months? On the other hand, why should I accept a payment in crypto if it’s losing value in the foreseeable future.

As long as the hype is hot it will be hard to establish a full blockchain based trading (or transaction) platform. However, it is only a question of time that it will happen. Attempts of regulation have just been started. Of course, there will be detours and delays. It will take time, however, also cryptos are here to stay!

 

 


 

Media and Advertising

14 February 2018

We took a peep into the future of advertising this February when RTAd Ltd, part of Iocono Holdings from London, became Global Media Innovator, GMI 2018. RTAd Ltd are marketing the highly advanced “Adgile” suite of software products, allowing the production and distribution of AV advertising in real time and to run entire Infomercial channels all around the clock, changing product and price info in real time.

Photo: iocono CEO Simon Ingram (left), Ulrike Bolenz, the artist that contributed her art for the 3rd time for the Innovator and Dieter Brockmeyer, DC Chairman Global Media Forum.

Advertising surrounds us, and it influences us a lot, often without us realizing it. This is not limited to our capitalistic societies. In dictatorships it is state propaganda and often it is much more direct and aggressive.

Advertising, regardless of where you experience it, is subversive and the technology behind it is even more so. You simply see what it does and therefore often the impact this technology has remains invisible.

It is the concept behind the GMI to make the impact of a start-up’s technology or concepts visible for a wider audience and to support the start-up in creating a better world. V-Nova, our first Innovator in 2016, is a video compression pioneer. Usually, we only see the great quality of video streams on our big entertainment screens at home or on our mobile devices – and Emblematic Group, the following year’s Innovator, pioneered in bringing Virtual Reality into TV documentaries. Again, we only experience the results of the finished products.

Iocono’s CEO, Simon Ingram, made the point that good advertising can have quite a positive impact on our societies. One stunning project was to send out personalized messages with individual warnings of drunk driving via the Adgile Play module.

Our business and social settings are disrupted globally. Let’s continue to direct this change for the world’s better!

 


 

Media, Innovation and Global Impact

16 January 2018

This column is about change: Ongoing change driven by technology altering the way we work, make money and our ways as social beings… It all happens at a continuously increasing speed – it seems – and nobody knows where it will end. I’m sure that most people do not even have the faintest idea how ground shaking this change will be.

Nevertheless, people are increasingly afraid and look suspiciously at new gimmicks. Others don’t bother to be scared, adopting all new gimmicks without reflecting implications. There is a last group reflecting new developments and trying to use them for the good of mankind. However, the sceptics seem to be taking the lead. Fact is there will be shockwaves before, hopefully, the benefits will be experienced by everybody.

But what does it have to do with the media industry? Media (including music and entertainment) is content, and content is data! Therefore, this industry was the first to be disrupted and this is still going on: Changing and often unclear business models. Moreover, there is the Fake News debate and the lost trust in media particularly in the worrying part of our societies. How can media be expected to live up to its global responsibility to guard our societies and peace, or control governments and lobbying organizations? Again, it is an ongoing struggle – within and outside the industry.

That’s why it is important to send out positive signals. That’s what the Diplomatic Council’s Global Media Innovator, GMI, is about: On one hand to bring positive innovation into the light, not the best funded but simply those with the biggest potential of global impact and positive disruption, and not only within media. Moreover, it is meant to foster the wide debate on innovation and the future shape of our societies. It’s still a long way to go, but we’ll do it!
(More to come in next month’s column when the GMI2018 has been announced…)

 


Successor Ante Portas?

 

14 December 2017

When recently surfing along the internet in research mode I stumbled across two items – not connected to each other at first glance. On Artificial Intelligence (AI): Singularity, the moment computers are on the same level with human brains, is likely to be reached in 26 years. WOW! On Global Warming: Men will not be able to stop global warming since Siberian and Canadian permafrost leaks will submit a multitude of methane emissions into our planet’s atmosphere that exceeds the amount by which humans can decrease their CO2 footprint. Therefore, already in 50 years our planet could be uninhabitable with a poisoned atmosphere similar to the one of Venus!

Let’s merge both scenarios: In 26 years computers will learn from each other, repair and improve themselves and knowledge may rise exponentially. Men will no longer be needed. However, following the logic of these two scenarios, the much-liked topic of Science Fiction writers and film makers of the war between men and machine will not materialize. It’s not required since we are extinguishing ourselves - though not before creating our high-tech successor that’s from now on ruling an inhabitable planet.
To make it clear at this point: I do not believe in that scenario! Long term projections always failed in the past. Processes are way too complex to be on target. There are also experts claiming that the algorithm will never be able to fully compete with the human brain. However, “the long-term projections” are not really that long-term anymore.

The shorter the time-frame, the higher the likelihood that reality get close to at least some of the projections. We better watch out!


Diversity – what?

17 November 2017

I bump into a lot of industry initiatives. Not many of them are noteworthy. This one is!

Two years ago, I was invited by a friend to a small cocktail reception during one of the trade shows I regular attend. David was in a Q&A about his experience of being a black CEO with a Nigerian background in Europe and in the US.

Photo: Miss Zion Moreno hosting the awards

This was the premiere of Diversity TV and it had appeared to me as an initiative to support the development of the African TV sector. It is much more than that! This October, for the first time, the Diversity TV Award was presented at a small but very nice gala event at the Carton Hotel in Cannes during this year’s mipcom.

You’re still wrong when you believe it’s about racial diversity. The span is set much wider.  

The initiative aims at championing diversity, equality and inclusivity on the small screen and at improving the representation of racial and ethnic minorities, LGBTQ people, and people with disabilities. It’s about to become a strong voice for tolerance in a changing world!

And Africa has a loud voice in it. Mo Abudu of Nigeria’s Ebony Live TV and Inspire Africa was a sponsor of the award and presenter of one of the categories. I wish the team behind Diversity TV - only to name Scorpion TV’s David Cornwall and Bunmi Akintonwa of Little Black Book Company – great success. What you do is important, not only for Africa or all the world and not only when captured on these screens in our living rooms or on our mobiles!

Above all, I should not forget to thank you, David Ellender of Sonar Entertainment, for this important invitation two years ago!


 

Balance of the Worlds

 

16 October 2017

Huge vertical farm complexes – many stories high, meat, synthesized in huge factories, all in direct neighborhood to the huge megapolises where also big production plants produce any product to support our lives.

Due to artificial intelligence, AI, experts believe that production will return to the places where consumers live, the so-called developed countries, since it no longer requires an expensive workforce. This will have a huge impact on our environment and very well shake up lesser developed countries but also the logistics industry.

Large vessels or cargo planes carrying giant amounts of goods all around the globe and polluting our atmosphere could soon be a memory from the past. Also, a likely scenario is that millions of workers in lesser developed countries (and not only there) will lose their jobs. Because of the poor, and not seldom, dangerous working conditions some may consider this to be a good thing, forgetting to mention the fact that this work is often the only income for large families.

On the other hand, this could provide the opportunity for some countries to re-develop their local farming and production forms to feed their own populations instead of producing sometimes redundant goods for the “developed world”!

The crystal ball usually remains blurred on the future! Only time will show what it will really look like. We only know there will be immense change and impact! However, it’s worth (and necessary) to analyze the indicators. That’s the only way to anticipate possible scenarios and avoid the bad and foster the good.

However, one thing seems to be obvious: The challenges of the very near and more distant future will be immense!


Censorship defending Democracy?

9 September 2017

The good thing about the current Fake News debate is that we can no longer ignore the problem of radical views in our societies. That’s the first step to finding solutions! This cannot be censorship because that would be hiding the problem again! There is no covering up in digital networks. Radical communications would be hidden again, nevertheless be quite effective. Today, many of these radical activists can be heard much louder than ever, and many who hadn’t expressed their discomfort and fears before are now doing so. Their discomfort opens them to alternative and fake news sources. This creates a spiral that can’t be stopped with bans. In the contrary: Why do you ban anything when it is nonsense?

We must return to the values of our democracies including open debate of ALL opinions, even if we feel hurt. I’m sure we have plenty of arguments and the better ones! By excluding opinions, we prepare the ground for more radicalism, in the worst case we wove it into mainstream. Even worse, our defending democracy may itself bury the freedom it stands for.

We must leave our comfort zones and argue rather than cover up. There are many references to the pre-WW I and II period from clever minds. We are in times of rapid change and many have already lost their comfort or social status. There’s similarity, for sure! However, we are living in a different environment: Then, international relations were limited to the elites. Today there is mass tourism and most business is international. Then, wars still were considered to be „Ultima Ratio“. Today, most people are aware of the consequence of a new world conflict. We have the chance to avoid the fatal mistake of our ancestors.


Fake News and Democracy

15 August 2017

It’s a pest indeed, the sudden rise of so-called fake news distributed via the internet and social media channels trying to influence public opinion. Authorities are panicking and their reactions may even prove dangerous to our societies, more dangerous than the fake news themselves.

Passing legislation making platforms block and/or erase fake news and their authors is censorship that opposes the right of free speech! This right is essential to democratic societies granting to express your opinions and beliefs, even it is mere nonsense. There are other and better ways to tackle the problem.

Yes, in digital environments also nonsense spreads rapidly. On the other hand, digital environments also react to nonsense at the same speed. The impact of fake news is limited since almost immediately another wave of corrections will be out. The problem is only for those serious media adopting too fast and un-reflected to something that appears to be spectacular. For a big newspaper to correct a negative image deriving from being too un-reflected is painful. However, there is also a learning curve. By now, everybody knows double checking is essential. More so: Ethical standards like the ones laid down in the DC Codex on “Public Communications and Trust” are becoming essential.

The problem is with those who belief in fake news. They can’t be influenced by regular media channels. However, such filter bubbles are not a new phenomenon. It was hidden before social media allowed everybody to become a global publisher for his own interests, hidden for our societies that now recognize the problem at last, and hidden for “conspiracy activists” who now found a loud and global voice.

The good thing is, we cannot ignore the problem any longer. That’s the first step to finding solutions!

This cannot be censorship that would be hiding the problem again!

 


 

It Only Just Began!

19 July 2017

Discomfort of Europe with its first climax in Brexit, the stunning victory of Donald Trump in the US elections, the ongoing and increasing tensions in the Middle East: The recollection of intellectual worlds long believed overcome has many reasons. However, they can all be summarized by the term globalization with digitalization being a major driver of it, shaking up our businesses and societies.

Real-time communication as with social networks like Facebook creates the feeling of being culturally attacked also in the world’s most remote areas. For sure, this is one of the main reasons why fundamental religious groups are becoming so popular.

Politics has no answers yet! Some don’t know, some don’t believe and others don’t care, driven by their own agenda of “maximizing” efficiency” frustrating the man in the street who doesn’t understand the logic behind it and who feels left alone.  

The massive increase of the number of non-voters in democratic societies has been an early warning. Politics didn’t know how to react. Indeed, we are walking on “terra incognita” when we are looking at the social impact. Tools are presented everywhere and contradicting.  More dangerous, however, is the widespread notion of continuing as before. “Never change a running system” has been true some years ago – today it means disaster.

More so since the end of these digitally caused changes is not yet in sight. Let’s look at robotics and artificial intelligence.  A huge part of the labor still done by humans will decline rapidly and be done by a machine, including many white-collar jobs. It will also have an impact on Africa – possibly contradicting international initiatives to strengthen the continent’s countries and their people.

However, there is no reason to be overly pessimistic.  But we must be prepared for a steep – and sometimes painful learning curve towards a “Digital World Order”.


CHANGE NOW!

14 June 2017

"Change Now”! That’s not an invitation, that is the description of an on-going process, around the globe, across all industries and more so all societies! The result is increasing uncertainty across humanity and a growing desire to return to the “good old days”!
Stop dreaming: They’ll never come back! And that’s what this column is all about: How to tackle this continuous pressure for change. In many cases change is technology driven, a digital revolution.

I’m coming from the media industry. If you look at it, media, no matter if you refer to it as audio (or music), filmed or written entertainment and even the news - if you break it down it's all “content”. And content is nothing but data and that's the reason why media industries were the first ones to be disrupted by digitalization. Has the industry learned its lesson? In many cases no, for a simple reason, change is still ongoing!

However, media has a much wider responsibility. It must help the individual to adapt to the new world, both by creating comfort zones through its entertainment offers and by explaining the new world or to help to discuss it! As a matter of fact, that’s what the DC Global Media Forum could become, a platform for reflection of all these aspects and to provide some orientation. That’s why I’m happy about the invitation to write this regular column for Diplomatic Society!

Let’s also look at the other side of the digital revolution. That’s “Innovation”. And that's where Africa as a continent of high potential comes in. Only now, the world has started to become aware of its wealth. For example: already now Africa is a pioneer in mobile (micro) payments and the world is beginning to learn from it. Well, let’s not ignore the problems, however, that’s very promising!

Let’s kick off a debate about change, about opportunities… I’m looking forward to it!