wyncode-pitch-day-lab-miami
Wyncode Pitch Day, when graduating students demonstrate their software creations to the audience and to a panel of judges. With over 300 people in the room, it was a great opportunity for new connections and engaging conversations.

How to keep up with Miami’s fast-paced tech community

Earlier this week I missed a great event because I didn’t know about it. That got me thinking — how do we learn about events?

Miami has one of the most active tech communities in the nation, having grown by leaps and bounds over the past 7 or 8 years. Whether your industry has been impacted by digital media (haven’t they all been?) or whether you’re new in town and want to meet like-minded people, here are the best resources to check for upcoming tech and new media events in South Florida:
Further up north in Central Florida, the Orlando Tech Association maintains a calendar here: http://orlandotech.org/events/ There’s also this Facebook Page: Orlando Tech Events and this newsletter: http://techevents.us/orlando/
Which local resources do you check?
miami-herald

How digital technologies shape the media and communication industries

Over the past decade, a wave of innovation in digital technologies redrew the media and communications landscape and transformed the way information is produced, delivered, and consumed. Networked and cloud-based technologies permeate all forms of communication and are at the core of any modern organization’s business strategy and processes. As digital services, social utilities, and smart devices grow in features and sophistication, organizations must continue to adapt and redefine how they employ new technologies – or they will inevitably fall by the wayside.

In particular, innovations will impact key parts of the media and communications value chain, affecting how companies use technology to collaborate, research, mine data, create content, and reach their audiences.

Collaboration

Research by McKinsey indicates that social technologies raise the productivity of high-skill knowledge workers by 20 to 25 percent, by facilitating internal and external collaboration. Primarily, workers will benefit from the faster information flows, greater access to data, and smoother communication processes afforded by new digital services. These innovations impact business processes, hierarchies, and organizational structures, leading to reductions in overhead and facilitating new forms of remote and co-working arrangements, partnerships, and outsourcing opportunities.

Research

With digital social technologies, each message becomes a unit of research, containing and conveying information about content, source, time, and location. Rather than searching through cumbersome knowledge management repositories, knowledge workers can now discover a greater range of resources for any information they’re seeking simply by searching online through social media posts. In a similar way, communication professionals can quickly evaluate trends and the zeitgeist about topics without querying people or conducting focus groups.

Data mining

Moving along the communications value chain, data and metadata become invaluable sources of information in their own right, as our digital lives leave innumerable traces through our online and mobile activity, as well as the activity recorded by our future connected devices, vehicles, and “wearables.” This data snowball will invariably yield surprising new correlations and causations. Just like the protagonists in the science fiction thrillers The Matrix and Minority Report collected and analyzed reams of real-time data, organizations will also need to employ new resources, competencies, utilities, and methods to analyze data and develop useful algorithms that help decision makers draw conclusions.

Content creation

All types of content have exploded as people adopted social networks on a massive scale. This mushrooming of information led to a preference for shorter content, video clips, and perhaps most unfortunately, infotainment. As more companies and individuals post professionally online, journalists and communication professionals will experience increased demand for ghostwriting and content marketing services, which ultimately exacerbates the content mill. YouTube competes neck and neck with Facebook for unique visits and infographic charts proliferate daily. These trends underscore the organizational need to develop new technical and production competencies, to create compelling content for audiences.

Distribution

Finally, the way media and communications companies reach their audiences changed with the multiplication of connected devices and screens everywhere. Organizations must become device agnostic by adopting standards, hiring technical skills, acquiring new tools, developing complementary partnerships, and outsourcing strategically.

Ultimately, media and communication companies and knowledge workers will only succeed based on their capacity to learn, adapt, and adopt new digital communication technologies.

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Objects of desire and the Internet of things

I have always been fascinated with objects. Not everyday objects, like a milk carton, but those objects we attach value to, like a jade vase or an heirloom. There’s a scene in Pulp Fiction where as a child, Butch Coolidge (played by Bruce Willis) is handed a wristwatch by his father’s best friend (played by Christopher Walken), who got it from the boy’s wounded and dying father in Vietnam. The wristwatch held such significance for him that Butch risked his own life to recover the watch, which his girlfriend Fabienne had forgotten to pack before they went on the run:

This watch is a symbol. It’s a symbol of how [my] father, and his father before him, and his father before him, distinguished themselves in war…. And using that perspective, going back for it isn’t stupid. It may be dangerous, but it’s not stupid. Because there are certain things in this world that are worth going back for.

As a child, I grew up with a multitude of objects my grandparents and parents had acquired over the years in their travels. They attached such importance to these things but I never heard stories of why they were so important. Fast forward to my marriage, when I found myself surrounded by objects again: little sculptures, ceramic pots, candle holders, vases, plates of all sizes and colors, mugs, little curios, and about a million other things, such that everywhere I looked, there were many things to rest my eyes on … Which to a certain extent confused me. It’s not that our apartment was messy — it wasn’t — it’s that there was an abundance of objects. Objects inside objects on top of objects behind objects.

I’m not entirely a minimalist, but uncluttered spaces give me greater comfort and peace. My ex-wife designed prêt-a-porter jewelry for two famous French luxury brands, so she was into materials and colors and things and stuff. Objects are second nature to her, while they are a curiosity for me.

Objects in antiquity

In Paris, there is this great museum called Musée du Quai Branly, which houses thousands of objects made in antiquity, from all continents. There are masques, totem poles, jewelry, musical instruments, voodoo symbols, feather caps, burial trinkets, monetary symbols, statues, and dozens of other types of significant curios and trinkets made by our ancestors all over the world — such as the red feather money coil on the cover of this post.

These objects held tremendous meaning for these cultures, tribes, and villagers. They were used as dowries, to settle debts, to shepherd deceased souls, to cast spells, to symbolize status, to warn and to enchant.

Just how did these societies empower these objects with such deep meaning? How did the meaning of objects change over time? How is it that long before globalization and mass media, different cultures around the world created and infused objects with similar qualities?

These objects were sometimes anthropomorphized (personified), and social relations were reified (made real) through meaningful objects.

Materialism and consumerism

Having spent my adolescence and early adulthood in Miami, and having frequented nightclubs in South Beach, it struck me just how materialistic our South Floridian society really is. It’s about the car you drive, where you live, the watch you own, the phone you have, and whether you get a table and a bottle or two at the trendy nightclub where the music drowns out any hope of conversation. Why even bother to talk? Who you are is commodified by the objects you wear and buy. These objects are the grease which facilitate your social relations, replacing any need to expend the intellectual effort of conducting a cultural conversation. Courtship is partially facilitated and accelerated by objects.

And what do they say of the professional world? “Dress for success”: wear the clothes of the position you aspire to, not of the position you are in (just how exactly how this applies to factory workers in overalls, I don’t know).

Personal branding

We play this game online as well. We “brand” ourselves through the things we post and blog about: our travels, the food we eat, the places we checkin to, our professional thoughts and experiences, our Klout scores, our LinkedIn profiles and testimonials, our blogs, the number of Facebook friends we have, the number of Twitter followers, our photostream of sunrises and sunsets, friends and family and children, exotic locations … All these become commodified as the grease which facilitates new relationships with strangers, who in turn get the social proof they need from us from the history of our posts and interactions online. The new Facebook Graph search further proves this point.

Online expression is an exceedingly self-serving activity, but no different than what we already do offline. In fact, posting a picture of an object we own, like a car or a purse, takes this to a whole new meta level, where we attempt to make our physical objects work for us in virtual space. After a breakup with my girlfriend of three years — who stayed in Paris when I moved to Miami — a friend of mine convinced me to try out Match.com. Although I was predisposed against this idea, as any self-respecting blogger would be, I gave it a shot anyway. After a few months of relative lack of success, I checked out how the guys my age were presenting themselves in the service. I shouldn’t have been surprised to see them posting pictures of their B-things: Benzes, Beemers, and boats. The ostentation reminded me too much of the South Beach clubs I frequented in my youth. Besides being a shallow way to meet someone, relationships based on things were rife with potential problems, in my view.

One’s well-being isn’t tied to the things one owns, but to the quality of one’s relationships with others.

The Internet of things

But I recognize that objects mediate our relationships, it’s practically in our genetic code, judging from the objects on display at the Musée du Quai Branly. And my imagination runs wild with the Internet of Things, when all kinds of objects are connected online. What will this future look like? How will these connected objects mediate our relationships?

startup

Start-Up Competition Finalist Demos & Awards Ceremony at Le Web 2012

The startup competition is moderated by Chris Shipley. The judges include:

  • Jean-David Blanc, Entrepreneur & Business Angel
  • Jacques Antoine-Granjon, Founder & CEO, vente-privee.com
  • Brent Hoberman, Co-Founder, PROfounders Capital, Chairman, made.com & Founder & Chairman, mydeco.com
  • Pierre Kosciusko-Morizet, Co-Founder & CEO, PriceMinister, Co-Founder of ISAI, The French Entrepreneur’s Fund
  • Marc Simoncini, Founder & CEO, Meetic & Jaina Capital

 

The finalist startups include:

Be-Bound. Solution for data roaming when traveling, without wifi, LTE, 3G, or Edge. The system uses 2G, so if you can make a call, you can use the Internet. It is SMS-based, so it is very affordable, compared to data roaming plans.

The solution uses a number of meta-apps, for weather, email, hotel and restaurant searches … but there is no ability to surf the Internet. The system is at least 5 times cheaper for receiving 100 emails compared to a data roaming plan.

qunb. A big-data solution to search for numerical information, visualize it, and use it online and offline. It’s like an iTune for numbers. They #fail their first time around, since their solution was too early. So today, their solution allows you to broadcast your data online. This allows for multi-series comparisons across many data providers. qunb allows you to host, show, and broadcast your data.

People may even be able to sell their own data using the system, like an eBay for data.

recommend (re.co). Recommendations from the people you trust, mobile optimized.

Not sure why this would be better than or replace Yelp, for instance.

And the winner is …

qunb!

It’s somehow fitting, since qunb helps deal with big data related to the Internet of Things.

mullenweg

Matt Mullenweg, Founder, Automattic & Om Malik, Founder & Senior Writer, GigaOM

Matt weighs in on the Twitter – Instagram fight: “Instagram has always been about providing a great experience for its users. Twitter and Facebook, though, have sold users to advertisers, so it’s no longer about the user, it’s about the advertiser. Therefore the goal becomes having the content on your own site or app, not syndicated elsewhere.” In addition, everyone has accounts on multiple social network, but your blog serves as your home on the web. That’s why it’s important that it’s open-source, so you’re not held hostage by a private company that owns a social network.