The synopsis of the very first ever Nokia Open Lab 2008 is below the “fold” (aka click on the continue reading bit)…
Fri 09.12.08 – The Big Day. Nokia Open Lab 2008. The very first Nokia Open Lab (hopefully, they will put on one each year).
First all, big props to Nokia for being “open” enough to invite 35-40 bloggers/tech/mobile/creative enthusiasts to Helsinki for a workshop with no NDA (Non-Disclosure Agreement). Now I have done enough project/work with WOM World and Nokia to know that they, collectively, like to fly a little loosey goosey and encourage one to think whatever about the event. Nokia is not Apple or Microsoft, they are not interested in guiding our every move through their world.
When I got the invite from WOM World (World of Mobile or Word of Mouth, depending on how you want to read the acronym) to attend the Nokia Workshops, I said yes. When I arrived in Helsinki, everyone of the other attendees was wondering why they were picked to come and I said, “Because you are opinionated.”
Fast forward to Friday, Sept. 12th, 2008, Hotel Klaus K in downtown Helsinki Finland to Floor 3b in the Raki Hall… Nokia Open Lab 2008. 35 to 40 bloggers who all have other mobile / tech / social media / creative expertise, plus about 20 Nokia folk attending, and yet another 5-10 WOM World / event planners / interactive ad agency planners-focus group folk were in attendance for the full day of the Nokia Open Lab, plus the half day on Sat. Sept 13, 2008.
Whether the event was high level early adopter brainstorming session or a early adopter / highly opinionated focus group or … or … or … (fill in your theory), whatever Nokia’s Digital Group and WOM World intended this event to be, I liked it.
Now, I like open ended events. I like places where discussion is allowed to happen. I like it when large mega-corps are willing to listen. And listen Nokia did. TV cameras. Ad agency planners with nokia camera vid phones. Bloggers blogging. etc. etc. etc. If one is highly introverted and does not like to live life in the internet fishbowl, this was the wrong event for you. But if you like to think, conjecture, and otherwise opine, this was the event of the year. Or possibly last few years.
The event company who ran the Nokia Open Labs event had the Raki Hall divided into 4 quadrants, with each section having a theme (bar, lounge, bean bag, and more formal seating), and there were curtains to pull across to create privacy. We had four facilitators to introduce a topic for about 10-15 mins, then each section of folk (invited attendees & Nokia folk together) had about 45 mins to discuss, and then there was about 15 mins of presentation of ideas.
James Whatley facilitated / introduced the topic of “Join the Community” (aka Social Networks). Now if you know, James (aka Whatleydude), you know that he is intimately involved on every level in the mobile and/or social fabric of London. He very energetically presented the ideas to get the conversations going in each quadrant.
During the Social Media discussion, I was in the bean bag (Fat Boy bean bags, if you must know) section. We had a good cross section of invitees and opinionated Nokians (Hello, Stefan!). The best part is that Micki Krimmel was not afraid to buck the consensus and get us thinking on completely different paths. All in all, this was my favorite discussion of the day, as the most folks in the section where willing to speak and opine on the subject. As bloggers, most of us have definitive opinions on Social Media and community. Whether we cooked up any new and groundbreaking ideas or not, I can’t remember (hello, jet lag fog). But I do think that Micki is on track with her assertions that the majority of the folk using online social media don’t care what the early adopters are worried about. Micki asserts that the majority wants to communicate with their friends.
The next session was facilitated by Glenn Letham and it was on “Join the Journey” (aka Geo-mapping-locating, aka GPS). Before this session was started we did the grade school count off to see which group we would go to next (1, 2, 3, 4, 1, 2,…). Glenn talked about the importance of geo-mapping, navigation, and geo-location. He also asked us to focus on how we could monetize mapping and GPS.
The group I was in was very dominated by one voice during this session and it was a bit frustrating. This was the point that I wished that Nokia / WOM World had placed neutral facilitators in each group to keep us on track, the overly opinionated from dominating the discussion, and to get the quiet ones talking. I have definitive opinions on Geo-photo-walking, as I do it practically every day. I did it for my master’s degree project, for Urbanista Diaries, and now for the Nokia viNe project. While in this group, I was most interested in that we did not devolve into a dysoptian discussion about the evils of GPS and geo-tracking or even geo-stalking, but how could we use it for good and for fun. I can’t remember our group’s finding. Sorry.
Did I mention I only slept 2.5 hours the night before? Hello Jet Lag, my old friend.
After GeoWorld, was lunch at the Hotel’s lovely eatery, Ilmatar. Dear Hotel Klaus K, I love your food. I even more love that when I announced that I was gluten-free (aka celiac’s), instead of bewildered looks (hello USA), the servers were very helpful at every meal. Yeah. Tasty and tummy fire free. FTW!
After lunch we had two more workshop sessions, of which the first after lunch workshop/brainstorming/ideation session was “Join the Fun” (aka games, tv, music, etc) with writer Anne Toole as the facilitator. I ended up back at the “bar” with the extra opinionated group dominator and only a few folks who were willing to speak up. Our topic was music. Now this is a subject that I have years of experience in (nearly 20+ years), as a music journalist, music ‘zine editor, and club booker / promoter. But I mostly kept my mouth shut, as I felt overly qualified and wanted to give others the opportunity to speak. I really wish that Steve Lawson was in our group for this one.
After this session, I was burnt out. Burnt out by the lack of “quadrant” group facilitators to keep the obnoxious from speaking too much and dominating the conversation, burnt out from it being the equivalent of 4am Los Angeles time, and burnt out by the fact that the discussion was just getting good when we were told to wrap it up.
Afternoon break found a lovely lovely lovely gluten-free berry pastry waiting for me. (Hotel Klaus K, I love you.) And then I found myself deep in conversation with Charlie Schick of Nokia Conversations (previously of Ovi & Lifeblog) and Anssi from Nokia’s Digital Media group. Chris Moore’s session on “Join and Collaborate” workshop started and it seemed to mostly about how corporations & business could join the conversation, so I found myself staying by the caffeine table talking to Charlie & Anssi rather than joining a group. I am sure this workshop was lovely, but I was on the verge of falling over and crawling under a table for a good sleep.
I enjoyed the first three sessions of the day immensely, but really wish there had been a workshop session on creativity. The Nokia Nseries mobile devices’ great distinction is that they are not just consumption devices (consuming media, geo-data, and the internet) but the Nseries devices allow one to create in a way that no other mobile device has the capacity for at this time. 5 megapixel camera, good video, good sound (with an external microphone), etc. When I first saw the agenda for the day, I was quite surprised that creating was not one of the workshops, especially given the highly creative folks who were invited to the event.
After the business/collaboration session was over, we were free for about 2 hours. A sauna experience was available. Donna, Anne and myself went for the ladies sauna time. And then I had a lovely 1.5 hour disco nap before the Friday night Nokia Open Lab big party.
The biggest highlights for me of the whole day were at the official Nokia Open Lab 2008 party that was held on Friday evening at the Ahjo Bar on the ground level of the hotel. It was not only the folks who attended the day sessions but a number of other Nokia folk, related interactive agency folk (Hello, Valve & Frantic), plus Jaiku folk and other interesting Helsinki mobile / creative folk. Yay!
What were the big highlights? Well, the conversations. I had several lovely conversations with Nokia, Frantic, and Valve folk about ideas, the web, the mobile creative world and geo-photo-mapping-tracking-blogging. Big gigantic thanks to Jussi Kaasinen of the SportsTracker group for coming down to the party and chatting with me and Rahul. Jussi K also brought me a schwag bag full of SportsTracker goodies (bicycle accessories to mount one’s mobile onto one’s handle bars. If you want one, email me with your address and I will mail it to you.) and a few SportsTracker t-shirts (I vote for new pink & purple girl’s shirts). Jussi is very bright, full of great ideas, and even quietly busted my chops on a blog post I wrote (Go, Jussi, Go!).
I also greatly enjoyed my conversations at the party with Frantic’s planner, Tuomas Lonka; Nokia’s Danny Goodall and Charlie Schick, as well as the marvelous folk from Valve (they were very funny). I kept trying to leave the party to go sleep but I was having too much fun. Thanks to Nokia for the great day.
[In case you were wondering where the photos in the beginning of today’s photo set came from, jet lag, folks. Jet lag. I woke up on this day at 5:45am and decided to take a toddle through Helsinki before the Nokia Open Lab began.]