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Dan Bricklin and the Cold Comfort of Experience

I saw Dan Bricklin, inventor of the first PC spreadsheet program VisiCalc, at the NY Tech Meetup last night. The opening acts were some machine vision and robotics researchers from NYU and Columbia showing their new work to a big but under-charmed crowd. Things ran late, and then proto-blogger Anil Dash gave some admiring introductory remarks and brought out Dan.


Dan brought out his new book, Bricklin on Technology, a compilation of his blogs, podcasts and essays over the last decade.

He read from the book — from his old blog posts — and illustrated his talk with pictures from the East Coast birthplace of computing around Route 128 near Boston back in the 60s, 70s and 80s. Dan unrolled ancient scrolls from the before-time: DEC minicomputers, dumb terminals, the Apple II, the revolutionary Harris 2200 page layout machine, the first IBM PC and some promo videos for spreadsheet programs that eclipsed VisiCalc, Lotus 1-2-3 and Microsoft Excel. The audience roared at the 1980s dweebs in three piece suits dancing to a pre-Windows jingle as Dan told about inventing the spreadsheet in a wet basement in Massachusetts. In the background were Gates and Jobs but also the armies of hopeful start-ups, brilliant programmers, careful CFOs, lucky salesmen and visionary inventors who drove computing onto every desk and into every home in those years.

Continue Reading →

On Event Peeps: Time to re-write the manual on live events

This week I've got an article on (free reg reqd), the live event industry social network, with a list of five things to do during the recession to make trade shows and conferences succeed.

1. Air travel sucks, so fix it.
2. ROI dominates, so prove it.
3. Virtual meetings encroach, so out-dazzle.
4. Carbon scolds rule, so ante up.

5. Demagogues bluster, so head 'em off.

We all hate the aggravations and costs of travel, and there are people who think live events can be replaced by webinars and e-meetings. And recently, there's been a lot of noisy indignation from politicians and headline
writers about conferences, sponsorships and other corporate events
booked by financial firms before the Crash, prompting the U.S. Travel Association to churn out press releases and talking points (PDF) about the economic value of meetings, events and incentive travel.

Business is going to get worse before it gets better, but like they say, "When there's blood in the street, there's money to be made.

At SISO: A Twitter Feed for ConferenceIdeas

I’m speaking at the Society of Independent Show Organizers 2008 Executive Conference in Atlanta. (Slide links to come.) In addition to discussing this year’s SISO Web Awards, I’m presenting a talk with Carl Pugh of Radius Events on "Developing Your Conference Program for Fun and Profit." Among the things we’ll be talking about is live blogging and tweeting from conferences, so I’ve set up a Twitter account called "ConferenceIdeas". Follow it and send your conference comments to @ConferenceIdeas via Twitter.

Webcast Q&A: Pervasive TV: Five Platforms for the Moving Image

Ptvx180The IN3 webcast seminar Pervasive TV: Five Platforms for the Moving Image is a broad survey of the state of video in the digital age.

If your got here through the webcast, welcome. Check out these questions and the user notes below, and add your own Qs, As or comments. If you’re just browsing by, join the discussion — and read about the webcast.

Early on you talk about the number of TV’s in the world and US.  Define
"TV."  And how many "screens?" — CP

The stat in Slide 3 — 215 TV set per 1,000 humans worldwide, 7.5 per 10 people U.S. — refer to actual old fashioned television sets, most with an antenna for receiving over-the-air broadcasts. That doesn’t count PC and laptop screens, mobile phone and iPod screens, digital signage or any other video monitor.

Those screens multiply the opportunities for viewership in pervasive TV; I don’t by how much. People talk about your PC a the Second Screen and the mobile phone as the Third Screen.

Television is literally "vision at a distance." Whether the signal comes live over the air, via cable, on DVD or over the Web, it seems to me that the experience of moving images with sound on a screen is the same.


In a poor country like ours, patients are peering into cameras for a far away
doctor to inspect the eye, diagnose and prescribe medicines over the phone. — CN

We only just touched on medical video with the Given Imaging Pill Cams. There are a lot of other video apps: medical diagnosis, remote patient monitoring, machine vision, surveillance and more. It’s a big topic, and it touches many fields.

In Slide 45-46, we describe the gap between market researchers’ high expectations for mobile video adoption versus survey of actual subscribers who aren’t impressed. Just today MediaPost moved the story Mobile Movies To Pick Up In 2008  reporting on an In-Stat projection that long form videos (30 minute or more) will "begin to gain traction" in 2008.

Add your comments or questions below.


Webcast: What’s Happening with RSS?

What’s Happening with RSS? A Look at How This New Tool is Being Utilized in the Industry

Wednesday. June 28, 2006 | 2:00 pm EDT | REGISTER HERE

Sponsored by the Society of 
Independent Show Organizers
, this webcast seminar presented by IN3’s Jack  Powers and trade show consultant Ted Doyle describes the basics of Real Simple Syndication, analyzes RSS as a marketing tool, and describes how trade show and conference organizers can use it to develop relationships.

See the IN3 courseware page, and enter your comments or questions about this webcast here.

NAB 2006: Television Beyond Broadcasting

In 2002, I gave a National Association of Broadcasters convention SuperSession keynote on Pervasive Video, AI and the Architecture of Content about how video would someday escape from the living room and would start turning up everywhere. Well, someday is here, and I’m going to NAB 2006 in Las Vegas this weekend to report on the latest developments. The big buzz is around mobile phones, the so-called "Third Screen," but this year’s program highlights IPTV, Mobile, Podcasting, HDTV plus Ultra HD and Digital Cinema. If you’re at the show, let’s hook up. I’ll be checking in at the press room and the better parties, and I’ll be writing about what I see and what it means right here.

Ultimate Pop-Up Retail: Expoships’ Seafair

Expoship2One of the most interesting ideas at the SISO trade show CEO Forum was David Lester’s Seafair Grande Luxe, a custom-built show yacht that will travel up and down the U.S. East Coast with a movable exposition. From the web site:

Targeting 34 affluent markets during an 11-month annual voyage, the world’s   first luxury exposition megayacht, Grand Luxe,
will undoubtedly be a spectacular attraction as it visits each port.
Prestigious art dealers, antique dealers and jewelers from New York,
London, and Paris will welcome collectors and connoisseurs to their
individual “galleries at sea.”

Sisologo_5The Flash-heavy web site is a little hard to get around, but the idea of a first class retail experience appearing at the local yacht basin is brilliant. Briefings from the excellent describe the recent occurences of Pop-Up Retail in which sellers like Target, Levis, Sharp, eBay and Crown Royal create limited-time shops that showcase their brands on high-end shopping streets or in buses, minivans or even Hummers. According to

POP-UP RETAIL fits right in with the Entertainment
Economy, the Experience Economy, the Surprise Economy, with
MASSCLUSIVITY, and so on. It’s about surprising consumers
with temporary ‘performances’, guaranteeing exclusivity
because of the limited time span. It’s about buzz, and about
new try-out and testing techniques. It provides visibility
for e-tailers and allows ‘real-world’ companies to enter
uncharted markets on the cheap. In short, it’s one of those
trends that should be incorporated in every existing and
new marketing and advertising strategy.

(Thanks to JB for the link.)

SISO CEO Forum: Intense, Entertaining, Social, Star-Studded, Aspirational

Siso06dais_1The Society of Independent Show Organizers SISO CEO Forum this past weekend in Charlotte, NC hit every high point on my list of a successful event’s SHOW BIZ features. It was …

Two days of well-organized seminars, roundtables and networking opps that kept people busy from 8 am until past midnight  in a venue that wasn’t near any distractions.
It’d be hard for people who put on trade shows for a living to be anything less than interesting, friendly, practical, funny and smart, so the audience was at least as much fun as the speakers.
Because it’s such a small industry, almost everybody knows everybody else or has worked for or hired or sold to everybody else so it’s easy to get a conversation started.
Some of the richest companies — and several of the richest people — in the trade show business rubbed elbows with entrepreneurs, investors, start-up teams and famous experts.   
With lots of examples of how to do things right and how to screw things up, how to make good money and how to make good business, attendees could visualize how they’ll build their companies, manage their careers, and craft great shows.

Full disclosure: I spoke (for a fee) on "Next Generation Marketing: The Challenge of On-Line Society."  The slides are available on-line in a big PDF file, one of the few legitimate uses of PDF that I described in my section about web design.