Microsoft launches new approach, new Windows 8.1 and gestures

Microsoft launches new approach, new Windows 8.1 and gestures

buildLast Wednesday, Microsoft held its Build conference for Windows developers in California. Obivously, Microsoft has been king of the hill in desktop computing for many years. However, Apple has gained momentum with more and more people working from Apple computers. A lot of that gain has come from the days when Apple launched its iPhone, which quickly integrated into our everyday lives. The ease of use of the iPhone also got a lot of people to change over to Apple computers. And that includes many people in churches and ministries that used to be heavy Windows users before. And it has become time for Microsoft to win back the crowds.

So, did Microsoft manage to do it? Well, it has been off to a good start. Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer kicked off the keynote by explaining how Microsoft has been hard at work to create synergy between devices. He ran through all the different devices that are now powered by one form of Windows or another and stated that he did not know whether he should be calling them PC’s anymore. He concluded that by stating that he called them “All Windows, all of the time”. And that sums up what Microsoft is trying to achieve quite well. Obviously, we need to see how things will pan out over time, but the first steps are there. Also, Steve Ballmer introduced Microsoft’s new way of working, which is to release quicker and and more often to serve its users better.

Is it working? Well, Build 2013 was full of news, though it was more of a mix of consumer and technical information than Apple’s WWDC or Google’s I/O. But the important things are that the start button will be back for Windows on the desktop and that many tweaks and changes promise it will be nicer to work with.

One of the nicer things though, is gestures. From this update on, it will be possible to control certain things from making gestures at your computer. No special hardware is needed, the webcam in your laptop or desktop will suffice. It was nicely demonstrated by flipping the page on an online cookbook without getting dirty fingers on the screen. But imagine the freedom this can give to preachers that use powerpoint, to control their slides themselves, without holding awkward remotes all through the sermon.
Also, quick sharing between Windows devices will enable you to broadcast items from your computer to another system without delay, as demonstrated by a video that was started on a desktop, but broadcasted out to an Xbox -Microsoft’s game console- and played on a large television. Broadcasting over several devices is not new. Apple has its Airplay and Google has been working on something along similar lines as well. But the great news is that features like this, will help you to easily mix technology in with your story to make it an even more powerful experience.

And that is the great news that has come out of the three big developer conferences. Integrating technology in everyday life is going to be easier still. Obviously, this leaves us the challenge of finding the best ways to integrate it into telling our story to the world.

(And for those of you feeling adventurous, you can download the Windows 8.1 Preview already. Just remember it is for testing only, not for your daily work yet.)

The sharing economy

The sharing economy

sharing economyThere is huge interest in the sharing economy. Loïc LeMeur actually opened LeWeb with his talk on the sharing economy. So what is this all about? It is about people sharing resources to enjoy them with others. It might be renting out the spare bedroom for tourists, or allowing people to ride in your car when you go somewhere.

The question really is not whether we need to be a part of this as Christians. The biggest question is how we can put this in practice. After all, if we look back at the first church in Acts, they lived together and had everything in common. Technology now allows us to reach out beyond allowing others to join you for a meal. The sharing economy could be the trigger to go out there and share ourselves with the world more than we are doing today.

So, how should we go about it? Should we now all go and clear out the guestroom to have someone stay in there? Perhaps. But more importantly, we need a shift of awareness. Where we have been looking at catering for ourselves on a daily basis and for our church to fare reasonably well, we should reconsider and look at options by which we can collaborate with community. And there are great opportunities to reach out to your community through websites and online services. Even if it is just offering the thing you want to share through Craigslist. It will bring us back into the community catering for the things the community cares about. And if we care about them, we have an opening to share why we care.

Techpastors at LeWeb

Techpastors at LeWeb

leweb-logoTechpastors will be in London this week, where LeWeb’13 London will be held. It promises to be an interesting two days with many industry leaders who will be sharing their vision on technology and the future, but also with many young startups. Techpastors will be there to share our experiences with you. Please check out the LeWeb’13 London program to see what will be happening over the coming couple of days.

If you are in London, or if you are at LeWeb, please let me know so we can have a quick meet.

How do non profits use social media

How do non profits use social media

LeWeblondon-media-banner-300x250This was a conversation with Roberto Kusabbi from the British Heart Foundation and Euan Semple from Voice. Really, this is an overview of a number of things that have been discussed. And it includes a number of suggestions and experiences that will be very beneficial to you if you are looking to use social media for a non profit organization.

At the British Heart Foundation (BHF), they put social first. They do not consider it as a bolt on at the end, but everything needs to be centered around being social. That makes a huge difference in how you create the things you share, but also your ad campaigns for instance.

One of the biggest challenges Voice has found with their clients who are non profits is that it is hard to sell the idea into the organization. Even though as a charity you have a unique audience that is looking to connect to you, it is sometimes quite difficult to help the organization to get a vision to engage with people outside. And to be honest, it can be a quite daunting situation if you are a 14 year old that they have asked to tweet on behalf of a charity. Mainly because you were the only one they knew who was using social media tools in the first place. And if something goes wrong, people can jump on you from great height. These are the issues that need to be addressed.

You cannot just add a brand name, you need to add value to the community. That is the main thing for BHF to gain traction in their recent campaigns. And for them the promoted tweets were great value for money. Six months later they are still going over the data. And as a result of their campaign they have found 60 people that have said that after seeing the video on Facebook and Twitter, they have saved people’s lives. That for them has been absolutely incredible.

For Voice, another challenge that exists is that the level of experience of their client groups have is very basic. And their clients are very cautious about getting involved. Another reason for that is because it is harder to get budget allotted to online engagement. And then there are lots of questions to be answered. What to do, who to talk to, how does it work etc. Most of the people have not used social media on a personal level, so that creates a whole new situation. They get into new relationships that they have not been in before.

Roberto says that the biggest challenge is the culture within the organization. To be successful you need belief. Non profits are not built to be social internally. We are lucky at BHF, but that is what we see. You need to have clear leadership on the inside, so you can be social to the outside. If you use it well, you can do a lot more work through social media, but it is a cultural shift. Social is by definition quick and spontaneous. You can plan campaigns and other things, but it is important to be quick and spontaneous.

Euan shares that his dream is that everyone within a non profit can blog. There are many things that are intriguing to the outside that you take for granted on the inside. And it is the mundane that is interesting for the outside world. Luckily we see that more and more non profits realize that they have been hiring media companies to thick boxes, but that they need to more than that to be successful. Roberto jumps in and says that even though the content strategy is not sexy to talk about, it is vital to have good content. Once you are on the way with that you can create new content together with the people around you.
Euan reminds of statement Halley Suitt wrote which said “content is a pimp word”. Having a content strategy often sets off a bell for him as it can also mean you are feeding content into a machine. And that is the antithesis of personal contact.

Both agree that it is easier for newer organizations to integrate social. It is a lot harder to make that cultural shift for organizations that have been around for longer. And that is probably the biggest problem for non profits. A great bonus for charities, is that commercial organizations need to look for an ideal to sell, but charities have that ideal ready. That does give them an advantage.

The last question asked is whether they will be using Kickstarter for fundraising? But that is a route that is not new and other have done that already. Kiva is also a very good platform to raise funds on as that makes it easier to see where your money goes.
As a last addition Roberto adds that gaming companies are interesting to non profits as well. Not to just use the fashionable term gamification, but it can be very beneficial to apply game techniques to what non profits are doing.