Friday, 7 November 2008

Silvio 4 President

ha, haha, hahaha! Listen Italians, you've got this great comedian that I have seen on TV. What was his name... I don't remember... Silvio something. Whatever, he's a real talent. He makes me laugh! Political correctness is really tedious. He knows it and that's where he gets inspiration for great jokes. Like yesterday. Seriously, he's hilarious! "He's young, handsome and has a nice tan." That really sums up Barack Obama! I mean, what a great idea to joke about how silly it is of both Italians and Americans to make such a big issue of your skin colour. In fact there is an exclusively Italian shade of skin that you see on the streets of Milan especially in late spring, that I call "burned cookie". I think this is also what has inspired this Milanese comedian. But anyway, you know what, Italians, you've got such a great man here, if I were you, I would make him presidente del consiglio!

Sunday, 20 July 2008

Singing in the rain

This year has so far been the worst ever weatherwise. Dark heavy
rainclouds follow me wherever I am. So at the moment raindrops keep
falling on my head in Hamburg, a city with an awful reputation for its
climate. People think about bad weather when they hear Hamburg. The
truth however is that the weather here is very inconsistent. And the
trick is that it applies to both ends. True that the sun rarely shines
the whole day. But it rarely rains for a whole day either.
That's why I am sitting in a cafe overlooking the harbour, sipping a
hot drink, watching containerships pass by, waiting for the dark
clouds to go away, being perfectly confident that they will because I
can already see the next blue spell on the horizon.

Monday, 7 July 2008

Uncool deluxe

They will probably kick me out for this but then: The heck with it! I am talking about asmallworld, an invitation only online community for the famously richy-rich beautiful or whatever. They have quite strict rules how you can approach other members and there's a NDA on other members or something like that. I stumbled upon a membership a couple of years ago but never quite got the point of this network.
But today I think I finally had my Eureka moment after reading two posts in the forum. One was by someone asking for hotel recommendations, another one was about the hottest spots in each city. The first got responses like: "Hyatt." "Oh no, the four seasons." "Try the Ritz.". I mean - hello? That's like asking for a good burger in New York and being told to go to Burger King. Plus the chi-chi nuveau riche aspect for which I can't think of an equivalent.
The second post got for Berlin "Felix", "Cookie", for Munich "Baby", "P1", for Milan "Gold", "Just Cavalli" and for Hamburg "Golden Cut" and "East" to stick to the cities where I have lived.
That was when I understood! You have to deconstruct it then you can use it as a real guide! If you want to know where the people go that are called "bridge and tunnel people" in New York, from the "Hinterland" in Milan, "from L.A." in Munich (L.A. stands for Landshut) and "Brandenburger" in Berlin, if you want to know where they go so you shouldn't be there in any city in the world, just check the ratings on aSW and voilĂ ! you are safe!
Actually I like this idea so much that I will probably start publishing "Bridge and tunnel Guides" for a couple of cities here :)

Gli Altri Fighi aka the Italian Barcampers

If you check out you will discover that despite the relatively low internet penetration, Italy has a very high level of activity when it comes to barcamps.
It was someone from Germany who first introduced me to this concept. From what I understood, they were meetings where geeks and freaks meet and where young startups give presentations on their business ideas because VCs and journalists lurk around and look out for promising investments and trends.
It is nothing like this in Italy. It is true that barcamps are really nice gatherings where you can meet a lot of interesting people. It is here where the buzz begins and it has become a real network. But the difference is that it is all centered around bloggers and not business. Actually I had to justify my being there to some of them because being the responsible manager of websites obviously didn't qualify as having to do with the internet. Fortunately, they turned out to be quite easy going folks so I was accepted even without an acceptable explanation for my presence ;-)
But there is one thing I would really suggest: Don't bother with those panel discussions! They usually are boring but people still participate because they are afraid to miss the big bang if they don't go listen. I would really appreciate a lot more of actively assisted networking. Much more fun and much more wise...
The still barely audible buzz tells me that the next big barcamp will be in RomeCamp2008 in November. Let's wait and see where it's heading!

Monday, 30 June 2008

Racktime Annie

Who says nothing works in Italy? After just one year, I got the magazine rack I wanted in my office alright! Here is a little instruction how you can climb the heights of efficiency also in Mediterranean countries: So, after you order, let's say a magazine rack so you can show visitors all the beautiful Magazines your company produces, of course, nothing will happen for a while. You need to ask again and again until on the exact day when you have all forgotten about it, it will arrive all of a sudden. The trick is to keep asking but still forget it. But it would be too easy and no fun at all if the story ended here. It will most naturally come with broken legs. Since we're in a civilized country there is an excellent customer service that takes the complain and promises to send you new legs for the rack. The process of leg substitution runs just like for the whole order so one day the young guy from the post office will come and hand you two black things because he was told to deliver them to you. You by then probably really have forgotten all about the rack and send him away with his plastic tubes. Big mistake! Because now all parties involved will be convinced rightfully that there is a fully functional rack in your office. What you have to do now is to invite the person responsible for a cuppa in your office and show him the void space where the rack is supposed to be. And then it is a game of luck. In my case, a small miracles happened and several people came, all laden with different parts of the rack and set it up in no time. Easy enough, right?
So, finally, let me present to you all the printed issues of Focus, Focus Junior, Focus Pico, Focus Storia, Braintrainer, Geo, Jack and quirky Top Girl!

Friday, 27 June 2008

I Fighi aka Italian Internet Startups: H-Farm

Strictly speaking, the H-Farm is not a Startup but an Incubator that "seeds" and "grows" Startups. I paid them a visit in a beautiful green setting in Venetian countyside a couple of days ago and was absolutely flashed by all the creativity and can do attitude I encountered there. And it was funny to have a deja-vu sensation from my short days in a startup in Berlin: the same rows of desks, the same dress code, the same long hours...
For me as a publisher it was also a glimps into the future of advertising. The "participation web" has certainly and more and more obviously and for us painfully changed the attitude of advertisers towards how to spend their money. Less and less are they willing to pay for the distribution of their message but prefer to spend it on creating the message itself. And here a rather amateurish interpretation of McLuhan's axiom "the medium is the message" applies: it's not about what exactly is communicated but about the experience you have learning it.

And this is how my rather longish excursion leads me back to H-Farm where you can find different answers to the crucial question: "How do I make people spend their time to look at something?"

"By having a fresh look and an entertaining approach." would be the answer of H-Art, a hybrid between a web and a creative agency.

"By activating a highly specialized community." would Zooppa say. They run competitions for user generated advertising in a young creative community with some very nice results.

"By piggybacking people's ambition to suceed." is a very interesting idea that brought forth H-Play, a treasure hunt inspired by the Da Vinci Code.

"By giving him customized services" says H-Care who created a digital assistant that talkes to you via web, MMS and other devices.

As you can imagine my head was buzzing when I got out after 8 hours of talking and brainstorming. And now I really hope to hook some of our great fresh ideas to media and advertising business that despie reality is sometimes still very old economy. But then, I can be quite a pain ;)

Thursday, 26 June 2008

Paramedics brave and strong...

...Up before the break of dawn
Putting poker faces on
Broken bodies all day long...

Next time I need a paramedic, please don't call the red cross guys. They might have better abs, but absolutely no sense for a lady's style. I definitely wanna be saved by the "pink and baby blue cross" people! (Click on image to enlarge and see that fabulous logo!)