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Top 5 quotes from The Next Web conference 2012

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Every year, the people from The Next Web invite some of the best speakers in the tech world over to their conference in Amsterdam. It’s the place to be to attend inspiring sessions, talk to interesting people from all over the world, and generally have a good time. No wonder that LUON this year, for the fourth year in a row, packed its bags to join the party.

Because it’s hard to really capture the inspiration, ideas and atmosphere you find at The Next Web conference in a blog post, I thought I’d share with you some of the quotes that grabbed my attention at this year’s edition.

  1. “Change is the only certainty. Today is the slowest rate of change we will ever experience. And those who are the most adaptive to change stand the greatest chance to survival.”
    - Jonathan Macdonald

    Professional speaker and thought-leader Jonathan Macdonald only had 1 prediction for the future, and this was it. It’s kind of a mixture between Moore’s Law and Darwins’ ‘survival of the fittest’. For us marketers it once again shows the importance of learning how to deal with continuous change in technology, knowing that –in the end- people still will be people. And that passion, as a foundation for doing business, will never be outpaced. Or as Macdonald put it: “It's not what in your hands: Da Vinci didn't have Photoshop, Einstein didn't have Google, Che Chevara didn't have mobile, Mandela didn't have Twitter. It's the passion.”


  2. “[I have this idea of] Privacy as a Currency (PaaC), where we could own the right to our information and trade with that right for the information.”
    - Jonathan Macdonald

    Another quote from Macdonald’s speech. But he certainly wasn’t the only one touching the hot subject of privacy. Professional tech-sceptic Andrew Keen, Reddits’ Alexis Ohanian, Hilary Mason from… they all pointed us to the seemingly fading concept of privacy and how to deal with that. And Macdonalds’ idea does make sense: people’s personal data are becoming utterly valuable for companies. So why not use it as a currency? Macdonald gave the example of buying a hotel room for $0.00 + privacy. You would get cameras in your room broadcasting your every action as a reality TV-show. If that’s too creepy for you, how about this: Facebook remains free for everyone ‘donating’ their personal data. If you pay, you’re anonymous. Could be a solid business model if you ask me.

  3. “The things people share on social networks are vastly different from what they read [...] It makes sense: you certainly do not share all the stuff you click.”
    - Hilary Mason

    Hilary Mason is Chief Data Scientist at URL shortening service She described data scientists as “[people who] blend computer science, engineering, a deep mathematical understanding with an appreciation for the human condition. That is empathy, curiosity, some sort of social science awareness. [...] We know who they are: they are nerds." Those are the people she (and I) believes we will need to make sense out of all this Big Data we marketers struggle with every day. They’re the ones who can tell you that -contrary to popular believe- more pictures of dogs are being shared than cats. But perhaps more useful, Mason discovered that people –despite of fading privacy- still just try to make themselves look good online. People will share information that fits the profile of how they’d like to be perceived, but read all other kind of stuff. And that, dear Facebook, is exactly why frictionless sharing scares the hell out of people.

  4. “People like to buy, but they don't like being sold to.”
    - Phil Libin

    Phil Libin, founder and CEO of Evernote, gave an interesting view behind the scenes of marketing at Evernote. He stated that traditional (paid media) acquisition tactics nowadays are being replaced by app stores, smart devices, open source systems, social media and freemium economics. It’s all about building relationships with users. Or as he put it: “it’s more important that you stay than that you pay” (people who attended our WassUp Lunch sessions will remember this as ‘retention is the new acquisition’). The combination of all those new acquisition tactics leads Libin to the conclusion that we’re now living in a ‘Geek Meritocracy’. Nowadays, every marketer needs to unleash his inner geek!


  5. “We all have software that we run to be creative. A lot of people don’t spend time to check for updates on their creativity algorithms so we go back to the ones that have worked for us. We rely too much on trends when things recombine in unexpected ways.”
    - Mark Randall

    Strategists are known for using trends. They take what happened in the past and extrapolate it into the future. But to be really creative, according to Randall, we need to break out of the trend-pattern. For this, Randall put together a framework to figure out new possible combinations. Because what tends to happen and what makes the trends go wrong is that things get recombined in unexpected ways. He calls it the ‘Table of Strategic Elements’:


    Some examples: combine social and mobile, and you get Twitter. Combine advertising with transactions and local and you get Groupon. Local together with location and gamification gets you Foursquare. Mobile combined with transaction and proximity gets you NFC technology for commerce…

    Bonus quote: “Where’s my flying car?”
    - Steve Keil

    Next to privacy, business mentality was one of the key issues addressed in this year’s edition of The Next Web conference. In his keynote, Keil took a stand against large, impersonal businesses and for innovation through business culture and slow, steady growth. Well worth 30 minutes of your time.

    Did you attend The Next Web Conference as well, or did you follow it via the live stream or Twitter? Feel free to add your own favorite quotes to the comments!

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