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Giles's presentation at TED Global 2010


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Last week, we were asked to inaugurate TED's very first "partners" session on behalf of Orange. This was the an absolutely awesome experience, as frankly, getting to present the thinking behind On at TED was a dream come true.

TED Global took place in Oxford, with some 800 attendees. After the gloom years, the focus was on the good news. The presentations on spreading education , in true TED style, were astounding, as were talks on decoding the brain, and applying video gaming (Tom Chatfield) behaviours to general motivation. Ralph Simons gave us an entertaining insight into My Sharona, while Annie Lennox got us all sweet dreaming again before reminding us of the topicality of the fight against AIDS. Naif Al-Mutuwa tought us the power of comics in fighting against stereo-typing Islam. Matt Ridley gave a compelling explanation of why progress accelerates. And I managed to miss (slight hangover) a brilliant appearance by Julian Assange on WikiLeaks.

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Giles's presentation at TED Global 2010

  1. 1. 1
  2. 2. 15 years ago the only thing that was public about most of us was our birth certificate. The internet, then social networking changed that. Now something is happening on mobile that will take this to a whole new level. 2
  3. 3. The way you use the phone is, once again, about to change. And the really good news is that this time, the change is not about making your phone into a better camera game-console music-player cum video editor, but about making it a much better, more human, more elegant, more pertinent communications Platform. This will be driven by the the widespread adoption of social networking behaviours in mainstream mobile conversations. And it is being enabled by 3 changes to the mobile eco-system. 3
  4. 4. In this view, the eponymous iPhone is a symptom, not a cause for the revolution. In the 90s Internet 1.0 was an open environment that provided entrepreneurs an outstanding platform for experimenting. Fifteen years later, mobile is now getting its 1.0. Here is why. a) Mobile browsers can reach anything, removing operators or manufacturers as gate-keepers, allowing entrepreneurs to take risks and hope to be rewarded for them b) Phones with “open” operating systems allow software developers to take complete control of the device c) And generous data allowances or wifi data oasis and sync technologies generally allow users to explore without fear of bill shock 4
  5. 5. So just how open is this environment? Well actually, very. Here is an example of advanced call routing, where the operator doesn’t even know a call is being routed. {Start film} These are two of our team members. Melanie calls Ghislain. She dials his number… his phone rings. But all of this without the operator really having any control over it. In fact, here Ghislain changes sim. Melanie presses re-dial, and the same phone rings. Now Ghislain even changes phone. Melanie hits redial, and this time, Ghislain’s new phone rings. That is an example of openness. This time, the break-throughs will come because a new breed of players are going to find increasingly disruptive and innovative ways to use everything that is already there. It will be all about working out what is socially “desirable” over what is technically “possible”. And it doesn’t depend on multi-billion network dollar investments or fancy new devices. And so, many of the greatest changes in the way we communicate will be brought by the behaviors from the social networking space, currently the fastest growing form of communication and more importantly of sharing. 5
  6. 6. The benefits of merging presence and all channels: sms, calls, messages, IMs, into threaded conversations is such that we are going there. But bringing the entire social net into your mobile phone — all of your contacts, the cool and the uncool. All of your conversations, the kind and the unkind — will generate a new set of challenges that raise fundamental issues on privacy, data ownership and identity. These issues are so acute on mobile, that it is on mobile, and not on-line that the biggest breakthroughs will occur, expanding social networks from mainstream users to mainstream use. I want to explore some of the challenges and opportunities with you. 6
  7. 7. Beyond the issue that she should not be smoking, this photo raises three issues as social communications go mainstream: •  the right to be inconsistent •  the right to forget •  the right to lie. In fact, she probably doesn’t mind us seeing this photo. But what if her parents could see it? The paradox of secrets is that mostly we keep secrets from people who are close to us. But the fact that she is in this photo means that her smoking is not secret. Does that make it public? Actually no, it makes it private, ie shared with some, not shared with everyone. So looked at this way privacy, or “shared with some” seems to be the norm. But who are “some”, when everyone from sports mates, old-uni buddies, colleagues, ex-colleagues, wife, ex-wife are all in your mobile phone book. 7
  8. 8. This is how Facebook sees you. You, and everyone you know. Is this your life? 8
  9. 9. Maybe actually you have completely different relationships with different groups… Maybe there are multiple “you’s, each presenting a subtly different image or facet 9
  10. 10. If you are a normal person, you may find that you have a richer, multi-facetted relationship with some people, say colleagues who grow to become friends, or family members who become business partners. . 10
  11. 11. Maybe some people are more meaningful than others. If you are a typical human being, then 4-7 are special and one is extra-special. Socioligists call these our “strong ties” And with them the shared space and shared moment is the ultimate form of communications: a bedside table, a fridge door, a door mat, the lowest rung of our a stair case, all the places we leave things for each other. Well the “always on, always with me” mobile can become such a shared space, a space where you can drop photos, pin maps, or say I love you. 11
  12. 12. One of our team was bored of always sending her friend the same “thinking of you” SMS. After a holiday by the beach, she came up with this… {start film} She draws her mood, it appears on his screen, he builds on the drawing, before it all fades away. A shared place in a shared moment. 12
  13. 13. As we take social conversations mainstream, we need to go further still and explore interfaces and services that manage multi identities, where private is the default and the extra special people are permanently visible, one touch, one glance away 13
  14. 14. We have been working on this. There are some great ideas, and though we are not yet there, I think we are on the right track. 14
  15. 15. A second set of issues we are exploring is about memory. We do all bits of our life over the mobile phone – the noble bits, and the less noble ones. Declarations of love and of hatred, we plan and we plot, we congratulate and we blame, we anticipate and we apologize. And all of this is moving into the social ether. But for how long? We have worked on fairly clumsy ways of giving the user control of what he wants our services to remember, and for how long. 15
  16. 16. But maybe we need a form of digital dementia, or fading, where what I can see about an event last month or last year is much less than when it just happened. This may solve “memory” issues, but the cost of instant disclosure is still to be established. 16
  17. 17. When I tweet I am at TED, or Foursquare myself somewhere, I am letting any burglar who so wishes know that I am not at home, and probably for how long. So what I want is really easy control, something like this slidy-thing here, to just choose how much I share. 17
  18. 18. More generally, as the mobile is an always on, always with me, always located device, I need toI say different things to different people. To some I am chilling, while to others simply in between meetings. To some I am at the pub, while to others, I have simply left the office, etc. We have learnt to not feel imprisonned by our mobile devices partly thanks to imperfect coverage. Who hasn’t at one point said “sorry, grrrrrrrrr…. what’s that? I can’t hear you. Damn network”. Similarly, we need imperfect disclosure for social harmony. 18
  19. 19. I would love to carry on, but time is limited. We have briefly explored 5 of the key topics for taking social conversations mainstream on mobile. At On, we are exploring these and many more. My hope is obviously that Orange remain at the forefront of innovation in this area, but much still remains to be done. As I said, the aim is to do what is good, not what is possible. So yes, I can design a system that tells you that your friend Bob is close. But what use if Bob is the guy sitting at the desk next to you every morning. So I can do better and design a system that says your friend Jane who lives 1000 miles away is much closer than usual. But do you, or Jane, actually want me to know what is “usual”? And who decides? You, Jane or both? 19
  20. 20. The only thing we are sure of is that the path is going to be littered with really bad good ideas. I would like to invite you to join the conversation at and help turn some of these concepts into ideas worth spreading. Thank you. 20