The Iranian Election and Social Media – Aljazeera Interview with Social Media Expert Robin Hamman


Fomer BBC Senior Community Producer Robin Hamman, who’s been leading the Social Media Team at Headshift for roughly a year now, was interviewed about Iran’s online media battle by Aljazeera.
As the Iranian election is still a trending topic on Twitter, it’s definitely worth watching, especially because Robin knows what he’s talking about:

A couple of other interesting links on the Iranian election and the impact of (Social) Media:


Sascha Lobos Cebit and Webciety Review


Despite a decline in the number of visitors as well as exhibitors at Cebit, Sascha Lobo is still the cheerful obese guy with his mohawk haircut and a fancy moustache.
After all, some exhibitors have already told him that they’ll come back next year.

Admittedly, I also enjoyed this year’s Webciety and the whole concept. Above all, Clay Shirky’s talk was as compelling as I had assumed. Just amazing how charismatic, funny and intelligent a guy can explain how the internet affects society today and in the future.
I heartily recommend reading Clay Shirky’s ‘Here comes Everybody’.

Quite contrary to the German web2.0 celebrity with the eye-catching haircut.
At the beginning of his interview I actually thought I might end up liking him after all.
But when the interview was almost finished he was asked which event he’d attend next and literally said the following:

“The question’s rather at which event you’re not gonna see me. I’m gonna do some research which event I’m not going to attend and will publish it on my blog. I’ve even read there’d be a symposium on Twitter in Karlsruhe next week, where I’m actually not invited.
I’ll have to do some research on that. They can’t be serious.”

Looking at his hard-faced mimic while he was saying that, I hardly believe he was kidding.

Seriously, I’m always trying not to have any prejudice against people I haven’t really dealt with yet and to be honest, I  haven’t read any books by that mohawk guy, but in his case, it’s quite hard to actually consider him ‘likeable’.


Funnily enough, Sascha Lobo wrote me an e-mail 30 minutes after I had published the post.

First of all, he wrote that he was in fact being ironic because he’s got the impression that he seems to be the only guy that people actually interview when it comes to Twitter. I didn’t see it this way, to be honest. In fact, I’d be quite grateful, if somebody interviewed me on the topic :-D

When I replied and asked him whether he always had that kinda haircut he answered that he had always had that ‘inner mohawk’ and felt like it was the right time to let it out. I was asking him because I had assumed that it was simply some kind of marketing thing to get attention. He also admitted that it is part of his marketing as the “hype” in Germany wasn’t just a coincidence.

We also chatted about some authors we like and interesting people in social media.
I really gotta say:

Man, he’s actually a really nice guy!

I always wanted to finish a blog post with the regular South Park ending:

I guess we’ve learned something day. ‘Celebrities’ might actually be quite nice people so you should never trust your first impression!

Good night.


One hour Interview with Google CEO Eric Schmidt – The most interesting bits and pieces


Long live social media. Facebook has just told me that one of my best friend’s boyfriend has posted a comment on TechCrunch (who needs RSS-readers?):

As I know that Michel is a clever guy who’s interested not just in technology itself, but also in its impact on society, I assumed
that it’s worth spending an hour watching the interview. Well, to be honest, it might also be the case that interviews with Google’s CEO tend to be quite interesting.

As one hour of footage is quite massive and we’re living in stressful times I thought I’d provide you with the (imho) most interesting insights from the interview. If you’re looking for the actual video though, you can find it at Google video, as long as that service still exists ;-)

Now here’s the interview in a nutshell:

Insight into Google’s current Business

  • 98% of Google revenue comes from Advertising
  • Google’s current slogan is “Search, Ads and Apps”
  • Google still provides 20% of an engineer’s time to work on what they consider interesting, also to maintain the capility of innovation

The Future of User Generated Video as on YouTube

  • User generated video will be one of the most defining aspects of the Internet, also because video quality will increase over the next few years

Eric Schmidt on Transparency

  • “Transparency is how you keep societies honest”
  • Transparaency is a form of check and balance so people have to tell the truth

Politics and the Power of Social Media

  • The senate went Democratic in 2006, partly because a race in Virginia which involves an unfortunate video on YouTube of a Republican candidate losing to
    a Democrat.
  • The Abscan Scandal was still available on YouTube and therefore contributed to the Democrat’s success as well.
  • Politicians are well aware of YouTube and are thusly more careful
  • A “Politician Bullshit Detector” could enable people to find out whether a politican is telling the truth or just BS in real time.
  • A few years from now majority of uses of the internet is expected to be on mobile phones, enabling people to watch TV and read books
  • It’s gonna be a personalized viewing experience in comparison to today’s usual stuff on TV.

Monetization of User Generated Content

  • YouTube videos as a new form of ads will really get you excited about buying a product.
  • People on MySpace, Facebook, etc. are in “social mode” and don’t really want to buy anything – There will be “solutions” to that, which just haven’t been invented yet.
  • There is, for example, the idea of micro payment in the form of paying 1 to 2 cents per view of a video

Google Earth, Google Maps, Google Sky and Google Ocean

  • There was some debate about former Vice President Dick Cheney’s residence on Google Earth.
  • Too much fuss about it as the residence’s location can be looked up elsewehere, too.
  • As all that information is available to evil people too, Google is trying hard not to show stuff which is not generally available.
  • Google Sky and Google Ocean are excellent for educational purposes, especially with the latest Google Earth Version 5 Beta
  • The US Navy provided Google with information for Google Ocean, which also includes ship wracks, fish, etc.

Eric Schmidt on Privacy and the future of information

  • Martin Sorrell from WPP said that Google is our
    Frenemy (or rather Froe), a mix of our best friend and enemy at the same time.
  • There’s the idea that Google wants us to know where everyone is, at any time.
  • Information is inevitably less private, but “We’ve given up something in terms of privacy in return for ‘these other things’”
  • People should have control over the information they want to publish
  • Google Latitude is an application for Mobile Devices telling everyone you wish where you are, but it is scalable. You can tell only three out of 90 people and tell them that you’re in the state of Illinois instead of telling them you’re in Chicago.
  • People can allow Google to access personal information to give them more accurate information.
  • “I’m a fan of history. When I walk down the streets of New York, why doesn’t it tell me the history of every building so that I don’t have to bother to type, I can just see it. Highly personal and highly entertaining.”>
  • Nobody at Google would ever look at e-mails from a person’s Gmail-Account. If somebody did so, that person would be fired immediately.

Digital Divide – Where are we heading?

  • As technology is becoming much cheaper, people in 3rd world countires can start building networks using SMS.
  • There’ll be roughly a billion more mobile phones coming online within the next few years
  • English still is the global language, while Chinese internet usage is increasing and China has 500 million mobile phone users.
  • How does the ability to have all the world’s information in front of you change education?

  • In the past you had to learn things by heart, today you can just search for it. Thus it becomes increasingly important to teach people how to search instead of having to memorize useless stuff.
  • There’s the idea to give students search terms and see who’s gonna learn most, followed by a conversation among the students to learn even more.
  • The development of community sites around certain topic areas where some of the best teachers in physics, chemistry and so forth get together
    and put together lessons, resulting in a compendium of information can serve as a basis for the next revisions of textbooks and certifications.
  • Moore’s law says that you can double the density or number of things that are on a computer chip every 18 months.
    So a rough rule means that a computer either gets twice as fast or half the price over an 18 month period.
    All of the evidence about Moore’s law says it will go on for another 10 to 15 years. In 15 years, it’s a thousand times cheaper and faster. So unless something changes in 15 years, Eric Schmidt’s grandson, who’ll be 18 in 15 years, will have all of the world’s information, every video, every movie and so forth on a single hard drive. If he started watching it, he cannot finish watching it in 85 years. He’ll always be frustrated.
  • Google recently brought out a history search where you can go back to historical places and see how they evolved over time.

Positive things we can do with the corpus of information Google has

  • Google Flu Trends can detect uncommon searches as a blip and can note that anonymously.
    In doing so, they can be six months ahead of other reporting mechanisms to identify a possible outbreak. Thus, this device could save 10 to 30 thousand lives per year.
  • Based on the Wikipedia model, the smartest doctors could organize a public corpus of medical information online, which would combine everything everybody knows about medical practice in one place.

How is all this changing us?

  • Technology has moved us closer together, but has also made us more stressed. A positive effects is that it prevents terrible misunderstandings like the one that lead to World War 1
  • We benefit from this inter-connectiveness. We have to learn as a society what it means to be interconnected all the time.
    It means, for example, that not everything is as important as everything else.
    We have to know where the off button is.
  • Children grow up more quickly and adjust more quickly to technology. The level of overwhelming and stressful information is affecting our/their cognition and thinking
  • Sitting down to read a book is still the best way to really learn something.
  • It’s early reading with young children that really makes a difference, even when it comes to IQ tests.
  • The symbolic reasoning that comes from playing computer games as from navigational queries really develops/fosters cognitive abilites.

What will the world look like in 2025?

  • The CIA website says, among other things, that it is likely that we got some kind of nuclear exchange, water or food scarcity within the next 25 years.
  • Two significant threates to humanity that could kill millions of people: The nuclear issue and climate change (causing rising sea levels, etc.). Technology can help to get this message out and raise awareness.
  • The bad news is that: “It’s possible to really destroy the great things that we’ve build here on earth relatively quickly in these 2 areas.”
  • The good news is that there’re so many other areas where things will be so much better: Medical research can contribute to a longer life, information is changing
    the ways we interact so that we will be able to communicate with people who’s language we don’t even speak or understand.

What’s the role of the United States in the Future?

  • America will not have the same place that it had in the 20th century.
  • America is not always right, the Chinese, Indians and Europeans will have their own stake on what’s right and what they think the future is and we have moved
    into a world where the USA actually talks to these countries.
  • America still remains the place of choice for education thanks to educators, students and one third of funding coming from federal and state grant.

Obama and the Future

  • Obama is very very good at listening, organizing groups and is symphathizing very quickly.
  • Schmidt and others have campaigned hard for quick action to deal with the economic crisis by investing in infrastructure, innovation, education and health care.
  • Two thirds of investment actually went into the above named areas.

Are people in technology different?

  • Yep, they tend to be more analytical, more data-driven, more personally liberal, more global in their focus, while others are locked in terminologies by their grandfathers.