The girl named Facebook: The Russians (and the Egyptians and the Libyans and the Tunisians and ..) love their children too .

There is a girl born in Egypt in the last few weeks .. named ‘facebook’ ..

Who would have thought that a girl would be named Facebook (in gratitude for Facebook’s capacity to bring about democracy in Egypt) .. and for that matter, who would have forseen the dramatic and historic transformation we are witnessing in the Middle East ..

The principles of how societies could move towards democracy through organic, non-violent techniques were described byGene Sharp a few decades ago in his insightful pamphlet called From dictatorship to democracy: A conceptual framework for liberation (pdf)

Originally published in Bangkok in 1993 by the Committee for the Restoration of Democracy in Burma in association with Khit Pyaing (The New Era Journal), Gene Sharp’s ‘From dictatorship to democracy’ has since been translated into at least thirty-one other languages and has been published in Serbia, Indonesia, and Thailand, among other countries.

Why is the impact of that document being felt only now after a few decades?

What happened between 1993 and 2011?

Even a school kid would be able to guess that the Internet is the single biggest change in that time. But more importantly, the impact of the Internet is only JUST being felt!

Wikipedia outlines an insightful analysis of Gene Sharp’s thinking:

Sharp’s key theme is that power is not monolithic; that is, it does not derive from some intrinsic quality of those who are in power. For Sharp, political power, the power of any state – regardless of its particular structural organization – ultimately derives from the subjects of the state. His fundamental belief is that any power structure relies upon the subjects’ obedience to the orders of the ruler(s). If subjects do not obey, leaders have no power.

In Sharp’s view all effective power structures have systems by which they encourage or extract obedience from their subjects. States have particularly complex systems for keeping subjects obedient. These systems include specific institutions (police, courts, regulatory bodies) but may also involve cultural dimensions that inspire obedience by implying that power is monolithic (the god cult of the Egyptian pharaohs, the dignity of the office of the President, moral or ethical norms and taboos). Through these systems, subjects are presented with a system of sanctions (imprisonment, fines, ostracism) and rewards (titles, wealth, fame) which influence the extent of their obedience.

Sharp identifies this hidden structure as providing a window of opportunity for a population to cause significant change in a state. Sharp cites the insight of Étienne de La Boétie, that if the subjects of a particular state recognize that they are the source of the state’s power they can refuse their obedience and their leader(s) will be left without power.

The ideas were known for decades but they needed an extra element before the ‘Smart Mobs’ could change regimes by non-violent means. That extra element was the ‘Technologies of co-operation (pdf)’ which acts as a kind of blueprint to identify common elements in social technologies

This report, Technologies of Cooperation (SR-897), maps the key concepts and choices associated with eight technology clusters and concludes with a set of seven strategic guidelines:

• Shift focus from designing systems to providing platforms
• Engage the community in designing rules to match their culture, objectives, and tools; encourage peer contracts in place of coercive sanctions by distant authority when possible
• Learn how to recognize untapped or invisible resources
• Identify key thresholds for achieving “phase shifts” in behaviour or performance
• Track and foster diverse and emergent feedback loops
• Look for ways to convert present knowledge into deep memory
• Support participatory identity

Conceptually, these technologies provide the ‘implementation’ for Gene Sharp’s ideas

And the results have been more interesting than anyone could have imagined.

Victor Hugo said that it is not possible to stop an idea whose time has come ..

-   Gadaffi’s son know that well when he laments  facing a ‘facebook revolution’ – one which is nebulous and hard to control.

-   The BBC has become a second hand reporting medium reporting on tweets and videos which we can all see on YouTube and

-   On one hand the United States applauds the spread of democracy but on the other hand worries about its 100 Billion USD armaments exports to the middle east

Meanwhile, the impact of the Internet and its collaborative technologies is just beginning.

So, I am hoping that more such babies named ‘Facebook’ will be born in other countries in the near future as democracy reaches them too!

One of my favourite songs Is from Sting called the Russians whose lyrics go

How can I save my little boy from Oppenheimer’s deadly toy
There is no monopoly in common sense
On either side of the political fence
We share the same biology
Regardless of ideology
Believe me when I say to you
I hope the Russians love their children too

i.e. in the cold war, when both sides could easily annihilate each other, the only hope was if the ‘Russians loved their children too’

So the last few weeks have shown us that Egyptians and the Libyans and the Tunisians and ..many more countries love their children too .. and that is a cause of hope and optimism for humanity.

Note: This article was originally posted at Howard Rheingold’s forthcoming Rheingold U for which I was privileged to be invited as an early student/participant. Here is Howard Rheingold’s blog about the experiment

Update:  also see The truth about Twitter, Facebook and the uprisings in the Arab world

Image source: NPR

Oxfordshire Broadband digital summit – 2 : March 5

I have been involved in raising the issue of Broadband and mobile phone coverage in Oxfordshire and blogged about it when I spoke at the first Oxfordshire Broadband digital summit – Broadband penetration – the social dimension: The statistics hide the human element when I was invited as a speaker by MEP James Elles and Cllr David Robertson

Cllr David Robertson has assembled a Broadband Working Group which has been working hard to make this challenge a reality. Following on from the first Digital summit, there is now a second Digital Summit where you can explore the issue further.

You can find out more about the Digital Summit 2 and how to register by visiting oxfordshire broadband

New White Paper: The Promise of Mobile Advertising by Chetan Sharma

Commissioned by AT&T Interactive

Executive Summary

The world of advertising is changing at a dizzying pace. New media are transforming advertising, and consumer expectations have changed accordingly. In this dynamic environment, no communications platform holds more promise than the mobile device.

Mobile platforms present a unique opportunity to reinvent advertising. With mobile, the perception of advertising will shift from interruptive broadcast messages to targeted information services of real value to consumers and positive interactions that have an immediate top-line impact.

Advertisers care about two basic metrics – reach and purity. They want to communicate with as many people as possible (reach) and they want to reach the most accurately targeted audience possible (purity). In the past, advertisers have tried to compensate for a lack of purity by casting a wider net, spending inefficiently and often failing to reach their target audience.

With mobile, advertisers can deliver the right information to the right target at the most opportune time; delight the consumer with instant gratification; complete transactions and measure direct correlations between advertising, transactions, and return on advertising (ROA). With the power of real-time metrics in hand, advertisers can scientifically design, measure, and alter their campaigns and deploy strategies for one-to-one relationship building with customers.

Mobile is having a significant impact on local advertising. The attributes of immediacy, location, always-on connectivity, user profile and segmentation, and the viral nature of the medium make mobile the best channel for local advertisers to engage potential customers.
Download full paper.

2045: The Year Man Becomes Immortal – TIME article

2045: The Year Man Becomes Immortal is well worth a read.

The ideas are similar to my talk at the Humanity plus conference in January
Speaking at the Humanity+ UK conference in London on Sat Jan 29

If you are interested in my talk (Meditation as a transhumanist technology) I am happy to send you a presentation. email me at ajit.jaokar at

Am I the only one who is cautiously optimistic about the Nokia – MSFT deal?

Much has been said about the Nokia – MSFT deal now that we know its for real

But the strategy could work if the combined entity managed to orchestrate a segment of the ecosystem

Here is a question:

If you were a Nokia user, when did you switch away from Nokia and why?

I was a Nokia user .. from 1998 until about 2006 when I switched to Blackberry and then later to a second Android phone in addition to Blackberry


There was nothing wrong with Nokia. It was simply that there was much more choice and my needs were very specific

I discussed this yesterday when I said: Nokia’s problems and INQ facebook phone on android

That probably sums up the issue for Nokia ..

Another way to put it is: What is the key differentiator for the customer?

Is it OS(symbian)
Is it the browser?
Is it content?
Is it look and feel?
Is it apps?

It could be all or none of the above

But these responses are very simplistic

You could answer this in two ways:

Either customers buy a SPECIFIC device to solve a problem(ex I use BB for business)


They buy a GENERIC device to solve many problems.

This explains my own choice in getting a Blackberry and the Android since it helps to use Skype, Chat etc etc.

Most people will subconsciously follow this argument in one way or the other.

This means, the market leader will not be the one with the largest number of devices, but rather the one who the customers choose on the above analysis

By that reckoning, Nokia basically fell somewhere in the middle and stood for nothing.

By that I mean, if you liked content you got an iPhone.

If you liked business communications, you got a Blackberry.

If you wanted an Open mobile phone, you got an Android device.

There was no real compelling reason to buy Nokia

So, how to be a market leader?

Number of devices, OS, browsers and many specific hardware features are a red herring.

To be a market leader, you would have to unify and orchestrate the ecosystem around your product

Apple unified three elements of the ecosystem:
Customers(vastly superior product),
Operators(differentiation) and
third party developers(appstore)

Google also unified three seperate elements of the ecosystem
Customers(open device),
handset vendors(including new handset vendors like Dell) and
Operators(who did not have the iPhone)

Now, which elements of the ecosystem can the combined Nokia – MSFT offering orchestrate?

There is the next generation home (where MSFT has leverage), You could have the business ecosystem. Or even an emerging market ecosystem

The point is – it has to be SOME ecosystem which the customer values AND the Nokia/MSFT products are dominant

My bet would be the home content ecosystem but that needs more thought.

Thus, I am cautiously optimistic although I can understand the short term pain especially in the developer community

So, this was the EASY bit .. BUT it was necessary

The HARD work comes now .. in painting the vision and getting the backing of the customers, Operators and the developers

We know the vision is not based on Symbian, Qt, Meego.

In that sense, there is a golden lining for today because developers know what not to do (and this benefits Android and the iPhone ofcourse in the short term)

But the qs is: Is there space for a third ecosystem (after iPhone and Android)

I think so

How that ecosystem shapes up, and more specifically, which segment it dominates, is the real question

Comments welcome.

If you at MWC, I am speaking see below for my speaking schedule

Mobile world congress – my talks and schedule next week ..

Image source komonews

Nokia’s problems and INQ facebook phone on Android ..

In response to the Nokia memo, I am glad that finally reality seems to have dawned at Nokia .

While Tomi Ahonen and others have launched a passionate denial/ contradiction of the ideas in the memo, the reality is very simple ..

I do not mind if the memo is genuine, a blog, a rumour or a combination thereof.

The point is: The memo (if you can call it that ..) does encapsulate the problem .. which is

a) Lack of ecosystem management and dominance.

Google orchestrates the Android ecosystem.

Apple owns the iPhone ecosystem.

Nokia sells very large number of devices but it is no longer enough to JUST sell a large number of devices

What ecosystem does Nokia manage/dominate?

If not, can it be called a market leader?

b) The rate of change

c) Taking emerging markets for granted

So, related to above, the questions then become:

a) Can Nokia develop and dominate an ecosystem? and / or leverage existing ecosystems

b) Forget iPhone, consider Samsung which has (so far) managed the rate of change much better. Someone called it a ‘fast follower’. No matter what we call Samsung, they are managing to leverage mindshare

c) Refusal to acknowlegde the new manufacturers in India and China and hoping that these markets will be loyal for ever i.e. ignoring spice mobilility micromax, Olive telecom and others.

Now consider that today INQ announced the facebook phone .. on ADROID

lets read the back story behind this ..and the irony of a facebook phone on Google’s Android .. then think of the rate of change ..

I remember going to a Nokia booth at MWC last year and a woman showing me an idea of new Nokia services.

It was a ‘green’ service for travellers(reducing carbon footprint). As someone who travels extensively and a heavy user of mobile devices, in theory, I am an ideal target user of the service

But to get it, I had to get a Nokia id and a nokia phone.

I told her that there are OTHER ways to get that service and I added that as a traveller the most imp site for me is time and date but she rattled on on a pre scripted manner about how great this new green service was if ONLY I switched to Nokia ..

That’s basically completely missing the point(that I, as a customer have an option and that the reducing carbon footprint service can be obtained from many different ways)

And in my view, apps are a long tail service .. and most customers are now defining what they want in a much more granular way

Now this bring us to facebook phone ..

when I talked of mobile web 2.0 I often said that it should be called ‘web mobile 2.0′ i.e. web drives the agenda

Thats why facebook phone is more important.

Its the service which customers want ..

So, finally glad that someone(at the top) in Nokia has woken up to a new reality that the dynamics of the market itself have changed completely! and old style strategies and approaches will not work

In April 2008, I posted a blog based on a talk called The ASUS effect : Mobile innovation triggered by open source, long tail devices and a shift in the device value chain

That has been highly prophetic .. although I framed it in context of Linux and not android .. the principles are the same ..

Open source introduces a MUCH higher rate of change .. that explains Android success and Facebook phone on Android .. and on the other hand we have the iPhone

Think about it: A young person(a traditional Nokia demographic) goes to a phone shop

They have two choices – a Nokia phone OR a Facebook Android phone

Which will they choose?

Will it matter that its an Android phone? Its the same analogy with me at the MWC Nokia booth ..

In any case, lets wait and see what happens now ..

Mobile world congress – my talks and schedule next week ..

I am speaking at the mobile world congress at two seperate times

On monday WAC apps main auditorium 4 o ‘ clock – The evolution of WAC – into the future (WAC 2.0, HTML5, network APIs

and again on wed at 2 pm (App Stores to App Marketplaces – The Road Ahead) and other times, I am almost fully booked breakfast, lunch and dinner with various business meetings and events – but if you want to meet, can try and arrange if possible.

I am attending the Nokia event on Sun, the MEF party, the Accenture party and the India dinner at the mobile world congress on Wed night.

Stephen Elop’s Burning Platform Internal Memo – FINALLY reality returns to Nokia ..

Stephen Elop’s Burning Platform Internal Memo – FINALLY reality returns to Nokia .. I am glad he acknowledges the emerging market issues as well instead of many Nokia fans blindly relying on India and China to lift up sales. This is very good ..

The emphasis is mine.
The most imp statement is:

The battle of devices has now become a war of ecosystems, where ecosystems include not only the hardware and software of the device, but developers, applications, ecommerce, advertising, search, social applications, location-based services, unified communications and many other things. Our competitors aren’t taking our market share with devices; they are taking our market share with an entire ecosystem. This means we’re going to have to decide how we either build, catalyse or join an ecosystem

But it also means a lot of short term pain including layoffs .. but I think its a positive step ..

I am invited at the Nokia event on Sunday night in Barcelona. Will post and tweet. I am also speaking at Mobile World Congress. If you are there, happy to meet – although schedules are almost fully booked!

But this is good. I have not been optimistic about Nokia(and am no longer a Nokia user) but that may change!

Memo from Stephen Elop below

Hello there,
There is a pertinent story about a man who was working on an oil platform in the North Sea. He woke up one night from a loud explosion, which suddenly set his entire oil platform on fire. In mere moments, he was surrounded by flames. Through the smoke and heat, he barely made his way out of the chaos to the platform’s edge. When he looked down over the edge, all he could see were the dark, cold, foreboding Atlantic waters.

As the fire approached him, the man had mere seconds to react. He could stand on the platform, and inevitably be consumed by the burning flames. Or, he could plunge 30 meters in to the freezing waters. The man was standing upon a “burning platform,” and he needed to make a choice.

He decided to jump. It was unexpected. In ordinary circumstances, the man would never consider plunging into icy waters. But these were not ordinary times – his platform was on fire. The man survived the fall and the waters. After he was rescued, he noted that a “burning platform” caused a radical change in his behaviour.

We too, are standing on a “burning platform,” and we must decide how we are going to change our behaviour.
Over the past few months, I’ve shared with you what I’ve heard from our shareholders, operators, developers, suppliers and from you. Today, I’m going to share what I’ve learned and what I have come to believe.
I have learned that we are standing on a burning platform.

And, we have more than one explosion – we have multiple points of scorching heat that are fuelling a blazing fire around us.
For example, there is intense heat coming from our competitors, more rapidly than we ever expected. Apple disrupted the market by redefining the smartphone and attracting developers to a closed, but very powerful ecosystem.

In 2008, Apple’s market share in the $300+ price range was 25 percent; by 2010 it escalated to 61 percent. They are enjoying a tremendous growth trajectory with a 78 percent earnings growth year over year in Q4 2010. Apple demonstrated that if designed well, consumers would buy a high-priced phone with a great experience and developers would build applications. They changed the game, and today, Apple owns the high-end range.

And then, there is Android. In about two years, Android created a platform that attracts application developers, service providers and hardware manufacturers. Android came in at the high-end, they are now winning the mid-range, and quickly they are going downstream to phones under €100. Google has become a gravitational force, drawing much of the industry’s innovation to its core.

Let’s not forget about the low-end price range. In 2008, MediaTek supplied complete reference designs for phone chipsets, which enabled manufacturers in the Shenzhen region of China to produce phones at an unbelievable pace. By some accounts, this ecosystem now produces more than one third of the phones sold globally – taking share from us in emerging markets.

While competitors poured flames on our market share, what happened at Nokia? We fell behind, we missed big trends, and we lost time. At that time, we thought we were making the right decisions; but, with the benefit of hindsight, we now find ourselves years behind.

The first iPhone shipped in 2007, and we still don’t have a product that is close to their experience. Android came on the scene just over 2 years ago, and this week they took our leadership position in smartphone volumes. Unbelievable.
We have some brilliant sources of innovation inside Nokia, but we are not bringing it to market fast enough. We thought MeeGo would be a platform for winning high-end smartphones. However, at this rate, by the end of 2011, we might have only one MeeGo product in the market.

At the midrange, we have Symbian. It has proven to be non-competitive in leading markets like North America. Additionally, Symbian is proving to be an increasingly difficult environment in which to develop to meet the continuously expanding consumer requirements, leading to slowness in product development and also creating a disadvantage when we seek to take advantage of new hardware platforms. As a result, if we continue like before, we will get further and further behind, while our competitors advance further and further ahead.

At the lower-end price range, Chinese OEMs are cranking out a device much faster than, as one Nokia employee said only partially in jest, “the time that it takes us to polish a PowerPoint presentation.” They are fast, they are cheap, and they are challenging us.

And the truly perplexing aspect is that we’re not even fighting with the right weapons. We are still too often trying to approach each price range on a device-to-device basis.

The battle of devices has now become a war of ecosystems, where ecosystems include not only the hardware and software of the device, but developers, applications, ecommerce, advertising, search, social applications, location-based services, unified communications and many other things. Our competitors aren’t taking our market share with devices; they are taking our market share with an entire ecosystem. This means we’re going to have to decide how we either build, catalyse or join an ecosystem

This is one of the decisions we need to make. In the meantime, we’ve lost market share, we’ve lost mind share and we’ve lost time.

On Tuesday, Standard & Poor’s informed that they will put our A long term and A-1 short term ratings on negative credit watch. This is a similar rating action to the one that Moody’s took last week. Basically it means that during the next few weeks they will make an analysis of Nokia, and decide on a possible credit rating downgrade. Why are these credit agencies contemplating these changes? Because they are concerned about our competitiveness.

Consumer preference for Nokia declined worldwide. In the UK, our brand preference has slipped to 20 percent, which is 8 percent lower than last year. That means only 1 out of 5 people in the UK prefer Nokia to other brands. It’s also down in the other markets, which are traditionally our strongholds: Russia, Germany, Indonesia, UAE, and on and on and on.

How did we get to this point? Why did we fall behind when the world around us evolved?

This is what I have been trying to understand. I believe at least some of it has been due to our attitude inside Nokia. We poured gasoline on our own burning platform. I believe we have lacked accountability and leadership to align and direct the company through these disruptive times. We had a series of misses. We haven’t been delivering innovation fast enough. We’re not collaborating internally.

Nokia, our platform is burning.

We are working on a path forward — a path to rebuild our market leadership. When we share the new strategy on February 11, it will be a huge effort to transform our company. But, I believe that together, we can face the challenges ahead of us.

Together, we can choose to define our future.

The burning platform, upon which the man found himself, caused the man to shift his behaviour, and take a bold and brave step into an uncertain future. He was able to tell his story. Now, we have a great opportunity to do the same.

source : Nokiausers

Image source: ygolana

Download CTIA Mobile web and mobile apps and future of tablets presentations (2010)


In October, I chaired the CTIA Mobile Web and apps event and the future of tablets event

I am doing the same in Orlando in March links are below

CTIA Mobile web and mobile apps – Orlando

CTIA – future of tablets event – Orlando

If you want to speak/attend/ sponsor at CTIA Mobile web and mobile apps – Orlando, CTIA – future of tablets event – Orlando, please contact me at ajit.jaokar at

Here are some presentations from last years event. I hope you find them useful.
Note these are pdf files and some are large

Writing HTML5 Mobile Apps

Testing Automation of Mobile applications_ver

Succeeding on the iPad, it’s NOT just a big iPhone

SivaKumarThe Smartphone shopper – CTIA SF 2010


NIELSENConnected Devices State of the Media Oct 2010 Revised-2

JohnParis.Time Magazine

If we build it, will they come- Dr. Phil Hendrix

Ecrio – Mobile Web & Apps Presentation 10-5-2010

CTIA – The Big Picture – Chetan Sharma Consulting


Sign up for our mailing list

I send emails approximately once a month with lots of useful content. If you are interested, please sign up using the link below

Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon
Sign up for our Email Newsletter

For Email Marketing you can trust