What is going on around your messaging that influences how someone may ingest it; what surrounds your ad; how does your story fit into the fabric of the news cycle, etc.
A few weeks ago, my company sponsored a conference. Organizers assured us we had the prime exhibition space.
But when we got there, our space was in an odd corner facing a blockade in a large room. Obviously, we were not happy with the placement.
A few hours later, the blockade was removed and our booth was 10 feet away from the bar during the opening reception. And we were MUCH happier. THAT is context. And it’s been on my mind ever since.
So when, days after the conference, I was offered an advance copy of “Age of Context” by Robert Scoble and Shel Israel, I jumped all over it. [Note - the book is available on Amazon, starting on or around Sept. 25...so if it is not available when you read this, add it to your Wish List!]
Scoble and Israel are innovation icons. Their 2006 book, Naked Conversations, foretold the way blogs would fundamentally change business-to-customer relationships. And we can crown that a prognostication victory, as Twitter, which hadn’t been created when the book was written, has done exactly that. Blogging, micro-blogging…same difference.
They have made careers out of making seemingly-laughable predictions that end up being spot-on. Which is why when the first chapter of the book reads like a love letter to Google Glass, we should all pay attention.
Sure, we may laugh about showering with a computer on our face, as Scoble did, but, 30 years ago, wouldn’t we have thought a pocket-sized device that could access the sum total of human knowledge and content was just as ridiculous? And now you can get a smartphone for $99.
So devoting the first chapter to Google Glass puts some tremendous context around their thoughts, no?
“We want online sites to know how to treat us in the same way Sam, the bartender in the old TV sitcom Cheers, treated his customers.” – Scoble & Israel
Bingo. We, as consumers, want first-class experiences everywhere we go.
One great story in the book is how the New England Patriots are testing in-stadium contextual technology to make the game-day experience better than watching from home. This is a huge story to follow, as the NFL is losing an estimated 2% of their game attendance each year – largely because it’s not as good an experience as being on your own couch. Having HDTV, DVR, plumbing, refrigeration, and other amenities feet away from your comfortable couch can easily trump long traffic delays, security pat-downs, expensive food and beverages, and bathroom lines that stretch further than your bladder.
This book is about more than how the world is changing…it’s about how the world is adapting to it’s people.
There are dozens of case studies of how smart folks are already using context from sensors, wearables, GPS, and more, to communicate, to market, and to solve real problems. It’s more than just the tech bubble talking here…it’s government, it’s healthcare, it’s enterprise-level business, it’s social change. And they frame the book within sharp pop cultural anecdotes, helping provide…you got it…context to items that are complex and futuristic.
While the discussion is about the future, Scoble and Israel have done a masterful job at making the book as current and possible, and pointing out clearly where things may have changed between date of completion and date of publication.
A final nice touch is the epilogue, set in 2038. Is it sci-fi…or is it exactly what this book predicts will happen?