Future of the Web | The Scoop

Recently I had the honour of joining Mark Pesce & Ross Dawson on Mark Jones’ podcast The Scoop where we discussed the The future of the Web.

It was a fascinating discussion – so many interesting ideas to consider:

What happens when our real and virtual worlds collide? And how will we live in this hyper-connected world? In part three of our “Future of” series, The Scoop is joined by Mark Pesce, futurist and ABC New Inventors judge; Kate Carruthers, a business and technology strategist; and Ross Dawson, futurist, author, speaker and chairman of Advanced Human Technologies.

You can check out the podcast here

Citizens doing it for themselves

Recently, in the UK city of Birmingham, some people were unhappy with their local Council’s new £2.8 million website. Citizens took matters into their own hands and created their own version of the Birmingham city website using an open source collaborative platform.

We can expect to see more of this kind of thing. Ordinary people choosing not to participate in an official channel and then creating their own channel instead. No longer are we constrained to use only corporate or official versions.

#opengov #egov

Interesting people to follow #followfriday

Here’s a few more interesting people I follow on Twitter, & some more evidence that Twitter helps to build real relationships too 😉

– Mark is a good friend in real life these days (we met originally via Twitter) he’s a thinker, inventor, rabble rouser and all round nice guy

@socialalchemy – Matt is a social entrepreneur (we also met originally via Twitter), with an active curiousity, he’s also a former army officer with some interesting stories (recently coordinated Global Entrepreneurship Week Australia)

@piawaugh – Pia is another of my geek heroines, fearless open source advocate, adviser to Senator Kate Lundy, champion of open government, and a good buddy

Trust, customer service and customers you do not want any more

I’ve been thinking about my recent American Express experience – outlined in AMEX discovers new depths to customer service.

It is clear to me that companies have the right to choose which customers they deal with. But it seems that how they remove those customers from the books is the critical thing for brand and customer experience.

I’m not sure if American Express were really trying to get rid of me as a customer. But if that was the case, it is entirely within their rights.

However, it is not so much the “what” they did that rankles; instead it is “how” they did it.

In this case Amex abandoned a customer in a foreign town with none of the promised financial resources for which they had contracted. American Express provided little advance notice in case their customer was not at home. Thus, in this case, American Express left a woman who was traveling alone unable to rely on the card that exhorted us to “don’t leave home without it“.

So people like me – who believed in things like the claims made in all those American Express advertisements; the many years of services provided and payments made; who trusted in the credit limits offered – were left abandoned without notice in a foreign place without help or support from a brand that had made promises to us.

What does this experience of American Express customer service say to me? It says that I can’t trust any companies anymore. No matter how good their advertisements sound it does not matter. If a brand that I once respected, like American Express, can abandon me like that then I can’t trust any brands.

Any brand that does not want me as a customer has an absolute right to let me know that – I don’t want to be where I’m not wanted.

But I do expect that companies will treat me in a civil manner. That they will give appropriate notice of their intentions. And that they will enable me to make an orderly exit from their embrace.

I am angry and saddened that my trust has been damaged so badly by the way that American Express treated me. It is not what they did to me (in terms of change the terms of our agreement, e.g. reducing credit limits) that is the problem. But I do have significant concerns about how they went about it (e.g. giving me no advance notice of the changes & leaving me in a foreign city unable to rely upon their promises).

What is most disturbing is the way that my trust has been destroyed, not only in the institution of American Express, but in all other similar institutions.


American Express discovers new depths to customer service

I’ve been an American Express customer for a long time.  But recently they made it apparent that they do not want my custom so I’m in the process of closing my accounts. Unless their customer service tactics are treat ’em mean and keep ’em keen something very strange is happening at that company IMHO.

It went thus …

I’ve had and used both a gold charge card and a gold credit card for many years – which I got especially because Amex is supposed to be a good card to have while traveling. Both cards are paid up and in good order, with automatic payments set up so I don’t forget to pay on time.

Last week while traveling interstate I went to pay for a taxi using the gold credit card and it was declined. I did not think much of it and just used my ANZ Visa card to pay instead. Then later I tried to use the Amex card and it declined again. Mildly cross I put the card away. It seemed weird because based on my credit limit with Amex I had over $10,000 left of my credit limit available at that point in time.

However, unbeknown to me Amex had decided reduce my credit limit by over 50% and I now had no credit limit left on that card. IT IS A VERY GOOD THING THAT I WAS NOT TRAPPED, A WOMAN ALONE IN A STRANGE CITY, WITH ONLY THAT PARTICULAR AMERICAN EXPRESS CARD ISN’T IT?

Thank heavens for my ANZ Visa card – again an account in good standing – and one that was not ripped from under me in a very hostile way.

I arrived home several days later to find a letter from Amex advising me of the change in the credit limit. Sadly that letter at my home which reduced the credit limit without notice served no good purpose for someone who was 2,000 kilometres away at the time.

The letter also advised that my card could no longer withdraw cash from ATMs; further it stated:

As your current balance is close to the revised limit stated above, please ensure you make a payment prior to using your card next….

Yours faithfully,
Adrian Janssen
Head of Credit Services
American Express Credit Card

Oh thanks Mr Adrian Janssen (who signed the letter) that really helped when your letter arrived while I was traveling. Perhaps a short notice period might have been a bit of good customer service to cover such a case?

Of course, upon arrival at home late Friday I tried to phone Amex to discuss this matter. To no avail as the credit department do not work outside of ‘business’ hours.

Up until now my relationship with Amex was settled. Even though their cards are not widely accepted in many places that I shop and merchants often add an extra several percent onto transactions to cover the higher Amex merchant acceptance fees, I still kept their cards. But no longer.

The matter is easily resolved. I simply took out my cheque book, wrote a cheque and walked to the post box and dropped my payment in the post.

I’ll be calling at a more convenient time for Amex – during the ‘business’ hours they work – to close both my accounts. My life is busy enough without rubbish like this. Voting with my feet will make me feel a whole lot better.

Here is a sample of the Twitter conversations regarding this matter.

Source:the nice folks over at Sency

Startup Barcamp Sydney Nov 2009

Startup Barcamp Sydney was on yesterday and I managed to drop in. It was held at one of my favourite venues for unconferences – ATP Innovations– and it might possibly be the first barcamp to feature fresh coconut juice in the shell.

GE_WEEK.pngThis event was part of Global Entrepreneurship Week (which was hosted nationally by Matt Jones from Social Alchemy) and it provided a chance for the local startup community to get together & share ideas.

Due to other commitments I was only able to stay for the morning sessions – but saw some really good quality presentations from Brian Menzies (@BrianMenzies); Joseph Renzi (@josephrenzi) and Matt Jones (@socialalchemy).

Major kudos to the un-organisers – including @davidsoul & @ryancross – it was a good event. Reading through the Twitter stream made me wish I’d been able to stay for the afternoon sessions.

I also gave a little talk about Trade offs, balance, support and Startups. It came about through a realisation that most of my friends are startup junkies. Also I had come to notice the sheer number of broken relationships (across families, friendships and partnerships) in the startup community. Upon consideration, it seemed to me that startups are not so much about technology or the ideas – they are about people and relationships.

The slides are up on Slideshare. The key message was that startups don’t leave much room for work life balance & that people really need to weigh this up before they decide to undertake the startup journey.


Future of news – a direct quote from one Gen Y

Here’s a little quote from one of my Gen Y friends on my Facebook wall today:

“I won’t ever pay for normal news content ever again full stop. If i wanted to subscribe to something niche likes financial markets pieces etc, then potentially yes, but even then i would discerning. I think he needs to get with the program. Old empire = dead. “

Clearly a sample of one in this instance, but it’s not the first time I’ve heard this sentiment. Wonder how this is all going to work out for Rupert?

Is Mordy Koots a glimpse into the future of entertainment?

I had the pleasure of running into Jim Shomos the other night & he was telling me about his latest project – Mordy Koots.

This project is amazing in the way that it brings together so many of the threads of film, gaming, web and social computing. Lots of the ideas that people have discussed, such as the shifting consumption patterns for new media, are realised in this project.

Mordy Koots uses a different approach to telling a story. There are 10 x 3 minute action packed episodes delivered via web and mobile in partnership with NineMSN. It stars the very funny & endearing Shane Jacobsen (of Kenny fame) and is directed by Clayton Jacobsen.

This has not been launched yet, but Jim kindly gave me permission to use the clip. Check it out.

I suspect that this is a glimpse into the future of entertainment led by some Aussie ingenuity and the constraints of making feature films in smaller markets.