Communications Needs a Culture to Match #84

By Eoin Kennedy.

I recently had a meeting with a technology company who wanted to improve their profile and particularly interested in inbound/content marketing.  As I listened to their CEO in the glass walled meeting room telling me about how dynamic and exciting he wanted to position the company, I could not help but notice the rows of glum faced employees, the bare walls and overall lack of personality.   The words all made sense, they were on a journey and wanted dynamic people but some how it felt vacant.

The conversation quickly moved to what channels and approaches could be used and predictably Inbound and Content Marketing featured high.  The company wanted to be like Dublin based Intercom and required training and content creation/editing to help them get there.  

In the consulting world it is hard to resist taking the money but this had all the hallmarks of a doomed strategy.  Content is expensive and hard to produce – even bad content.  It can also be an agonising process if a company has not thought through the process (like tone of voice) and is trying to be something its clearly not.

For me the process works best when you begin further upstream with some thinking on the culture and possibly some change management.  You can intellectually understand how the platforms work and word-smyth articles but it can be very short lived if the ethos of the company does not match as the force of culture will eventually win. 

Culture can be a very subtle and hard to grasp concept.  In the services arena Leonard Berry talks about culture being  “Shared perceptions of what is important in an organization, and shared values and beliefs of why those things are important”.  

Staff knowing why they are producing content and sharing insights and how it can be positive for them and the company in a way that reflects their internal values is a very powerful catalyst in uniting people in a common culture.  Considering the effort it takes to create good engaging content and that most companies/individuals tend to hoard information it takes strong leadership to re-orientate people especially when results might not be instant.

Equally important is how employees internalise a culture.  Christopher Love in Service Marketing advocated that 

Employees rely heavily on their perceptions of what is important by noting what the company and their leaders do, not so much what they say. Employees gain their understanding of what is important through the daily experiences they have with the firm’s human resource, operations, and marketing practices and procedures.

In short senior management need to write, share, motivate, be open, evangalise and lead (in this instance in creating great content) if they want to inspire the rest of the company to follow suit.  This is time consuming task and requires specific skillsets, energy and belief but those that do it with conviction can harness lost water cooler conversations in to powerful marketing tools.

A content led culture also relies on customer centric view and those who intimately understand their target markets find this transition easier as they create content that resonates.

Once this culture is in place and nourished great content marketing is easier and more sustainable.

The choice of Intercom as the company they aspired to be like was interesting, one that many people admire and who produce great content.  It helps when they have one of the country’s leading technology writers on staff (demonstrating their commitment) but their journey began much earlier.

Intercom have a open culture where the most senior staff are happy to share insights, opinions and things they have learnt – some of it being at best tangential to their core business.  Posts from senior management that sit along side new recruits are genuinely useful and shareable.  The engrained culture of sharing is led from the top and I am pretty sure reflects internal activities and an atmosphere of openness.  Faking culture even appears on topics they publicly discussed in a post on You Cannot Fake Culture.

As I left the technology company mentioned at the start, amid errie silence, my gut feeling was a pattern I had seen before.  Sheer will and resourcing would propel this content journey so far but would always feel forced and eventually swimming against the tide would take it toll.  Fostering some internal sessions on finding champions and management leading by sharing insights and company vision would not alone gain buy in but slowly create a new culture.  

Knowing who you are is a better starting point than trying to convince others that you are something you are not.

Smart Cities Will Be Driven By Open Data. #83

By Darrell Crowe.

Smart Cities Will Be Driven By Open Data by Darrell Crowe

Smart Cities will be driven by Open Data access – but how do we access disparate data sets. 

There is great talk of intelligent sensors and IOT in helping deliver smart cities. The commonly used description of a smart city is one that uses digital technologies or information and communication technologies (ICT) to enhance quality and performance of urban services, to reduce costs, resource consumption and to engage more effectively and actively with its citizens.

But what does this mean in reality for us citizens. The talk is of things like smart sensors on road and traffic lights that can be responsive to real traffic situations. That apparently instead of lights being set on traditional timed sequences they could be responsive to large traffic volumes and change the sequencing to improve traffic flow. 

Street lights that would be dimmed if the streets are empty or the intensity increased if there are large volumes of people on the streets. A road with sensors that recognise the road temperature and communicate to your car to slow down. 

These are wonderfully aspirational concepts. But how real and close are we to the delivery of such. I would argue like the self-ordering fridge these are aspirations that catch our imaginations but not the reality of where IOT and smart cities will deliver real visible change to us citzens. 

Firstly, how much more will these ideas touch us personally and directly enhance the quality of our lives? These will become intangible and invisible to most of us in their impact. As we will normalise their outcomes. However significant the quantifiable benefits, they could and will potentially improve traffic flows marginally, improve safety but maybe frustrate us users as the ultimate gains are eroded by increasing road usage. But who will pay for the investment in these technologies to commercialise them?  

The reality in my view is that the first phase of smart cities will be the collection and dissemination of information in an open source basis. As per open sources like android and IOS it will be the tech industry driven by commercial opportunities that will develop the real innovative solutions and not the municipalities. Just as Apple opened its eco systems to developers, which allowed the development of apps and brought usability to smartphones so will the opening up of data on our cities to developers allow for the creation of user based applications? 

Let me expand upon this idea. Imagine a city where all of the travel data is available in open source data for any user FOC. Then imagine when stepping out of your front door in the morning you are told the actual travels times to your place of work by Car, Bicycle, Foot, Luas/Dart or Local bus, based on my location and real time information. Now instead of having to listen to the radio or Traffic reports, identifying traffic exceptions and maybe gestimating your travel times based on weather (i.e rain) you can make a real time choices or decisions on mode of travel based on real time geo located information. How interesting would this be for you or me, the municipality or other users if for example 50% of commuters discovered it was actually quicker to travel by bike or foot to their destination than by car or bus. Would this change behaviour? absolutely. If city cycle paths were designed using information from the city bikes showing routes actually travelled across and through or cities rather than designed by engineers to fit into our urban spaces and left unused. Local Hospitals planned staffed and resourced according to usage data geographical location of users rather than arbitrary geographical defined borders and budgets/resourcing based on historical practices. 

Would this transform our cities to enhance quality and performance of urban services? yes, reduce costs and resource consumption, yes, engage us citizens more effectively and actively with our municipality’s infrastructure, very definitely yes. 

But how do you collect information from disparate and often legacy systems such as water infrastructure, roads, buses, pedestrians or commuter trains etc. Firstly we will need thousands of sensors and data gathering points. Secondly we need to make this available in a common format in one source location or Do we? We have some this information already but in different formats take traffic info it is in video, traffic flow and densities speed etc, but is this gathered for bike and pedestrians I argue no? But the reality is we can’t gather all this data in one common format from legacy systems never designed to communicate in a common language or common format into one one large single searchable database. This task is too large and too cumbersome. 

Alternatively we need to look at the internet and how Google and Yahoo manage data and information on the WEB. They don’t store all websites and information in one large database in a common format. Instead they make the web “Indexable” allowing searches in multiple ways defined not by the host Google but by us the user. This is how municipalities will and should be progressing with smart cities. Information is power. Once we have data in common searchable indexable formats we can use it to inform how we manage and control our cities. Technology companies will also develop innovative user based solutions. 

The Voice Inside My Head #82 #cong15

By Paul Killoran.

Being a CEO is tough. And no, I’m not talking about cashflow, customers, employees, product or any of the other rational things that I have to deal with on a day-to-day basis. No, I’m talking about the one irrational thing that I can never escape from; the voice inside my head.

The same voice that questions and analyses every single thing that I do. A voice that debilitates me at times. A voice that don’t seem to have an “off” switch.

And so, I started to ask myself where did this voice come from? Why do I have it? And how in the name of God, can I turn it off?

A couple of weeks ago, I attended the Web Summit in Dublin. I walked around the RDS looking at early stage start-ups pitching for their lives all trying to disrupt something. Everybody was so busy disrupting, that if you weren’t disrupting you were clearly wasting your time.

After an hour of being disrupted, I finally found a coffee shop. I sat down and ordered a hot chocolate. It was divine. It was probably the most disruptive thing that had happened to me all day.

On the train home, I read an article by David Heinemeier Hansson (Founder of Basecamp/37Signals) called “Reconsider”. In this article, David questions the modern day obsession with unicorns and the idea that we need to disrupt everything. We’re no longer interested in building simple products, for simple customers, for simple money. 

Nobody wants to sell a simple mug of hot chocolate anymore. 

Why? Because we want to feel special.

We want to prove that we’re better than everyone else. We want to believe that we’re the main character of a very special story called “Life” and that everything in the world revolves around us. Creating a unicorn would prove this.

But deep inside my head, I have a constant fear about being found out. A fear that I’m just regular normal person and that I’m not special at all. A fear that I’m just plain deluded.

Feeding one’s ego is probably the easiest short-term way of suppressing these fears. Essentially, if I can collect enough social trophies I can convince myself that I’m successful and that my perceived reality is not in fact a delusion.

But will this work in the long term? Do I need to ground it in something more tangible? Am I special? Am I normal? Am I deluded? Does it matter? Who cares?

Social Media – What’s your Strategy? #81 #cong15

By Greg Fry.

I thought I would be all fancy and create a Video for my post, but that was never going to work for an e-book. So here is a blog post.

One of the biggest challenges when helping a client with their Social Media efforts is that they want to jump in and make a bunch of noise with no clear plan.  They are so obsessed copying their competition’s poor social media tactics that they forget to attach any meaningful Business KPIs to their Social Media efforts.  And whilst great social media tactics are a key ingredient of a successful Social Media Strategy………….Tactics do not equal a Strategy.  Time for a thought provoking quote:

Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat." - Sun Tzu

According to Smart Insights 2015 survey 50% of business where using Digital Marketing tactics, but had no clear strategy in place to support their efforts.

In many ways having no social media strategy is as “bonkers”as setting up a buisness with no business plan. So what exactly is a Social Media Strategy and how can you develop one that will deliver results for your or your client’s business?

A social media strategy is a working plan that maps out the actions needed in order to achieve your business goals. Rather than “high five” yourself for getting a shed load of “likes” on your Facebook page assign real business KPIs to your Social Media efforts. A clear plan will also help employees and key stakeholders “buy” into your strategy, increase effectiveness and make it easier to measure your Social Media ROI.

So what should be in a Social Media Strategy? 

In a nutshell clear objectives, a defined target audience, a structured content plan, agreed social media channels, an approach and budget for social advertising and detailed costings for all Social Media activities. Smart Insights have some brilliant resources for a company or consultant looking to develop and implement a Social Media Strategy. Check out their RACE model -   Reach, Act, Convert, Engage

Enough about Smart Insights……here are my 10 steps to developing  a Social Media Strategy that develops real business ROI:

1. Align with existing business goals – Look at your existing business goals and even your offline marketing and business efforts and make sure all Social Media efforts are complementing existing efforts and working towards achieving the same business goals. Like a good football team – social media working together with all your other business efforts will out perform independent efforts.

2. Set Objectives – What is the job of your Social Media efforts? What do you need to achieve from your efforts? Clear objectives will make everything you do measureable. Don’t be afraid of attaching ambitious “Sales” and “Lead Generation” objectives to your Social Media efforts. Make sure your Objectives are SMART ones. (They need to “Specific”, “Measureable”, “ Attainable”, “Realistic” and have a “Time” frame that they need to be completed by.)

3. Identify Ideal customers, Advocates and Influencers – Be clear who your audience is and take some serious time out to understand what interests them. Make sure your content and advertising efforts focuses around their “needs and wants” rather than targeting them with a “self serving” sales pitch.  You should also look at where your target audience are “hanging” out online and what conversations they are having and what content they are engaging with. This will help decide on what social platforms to use and what content to create. Many companies will create “Buyer Personas” to try to get a better understanding of their existing and prospective customers interests.In fact Salesforce Pardot have life sized cardboard cut outs of their customers throught their office so staff are always thinking about their clients needs and wants. Check out Hubspot’s free persona tempate here

 Savvy Marketers will not stop at listening to and identifying prospective and existing customers online, but will also spend time looking for influencers and brand advocates. Develop a plan to enagage and collaborate with these advoactes and influencers. With 90% of people trusting an endoresement from a friend or influencers over a brand message….Imagine the ROI you can get influencers and advocates share your content and champion our brand. 

Some cool tools to identify influencers online include –, followerwonk and Klout.

4. Research Competition -  Rather than follow the competition’s poor Social Media tactics…….analyze what they are doing. Look at what platforms they are on, what the they are posting, how big their online communities are, who is engaging with them, what influencers are talking about them etc. Look at what they are doing badly as well as what they are doing well. Now develop a plan that trumps their efforts. Hootsuite have a nice competitor analysis spreadsheet which you can download here 

Some free tools to help you benchmark your Social Media activity against your competition include:  Agorapulse’s Facebook Barometer - and Simply Measured social media tools.

5. Select channels and develop tactics – Remember it may be better to be on less social media channels and build a meaningful community rather than taking a “supermarket sweep” approach and try to be everywhere. Pick the right channels to achieve your Social Media goals and “implement like hell”. Most successful social media strategies will have a variety of content. Eg. Short videos, Images, text updates, website links etc.  Some tactics that you may curently want to consider - Use images and GIFs on Facebook and Twitter, add links near the beginning of your updates, Use relevant trending hashtags in your updates (check out, create 15-30 second videos, post content when your fans/followers are most likely to see them, tag and mention influencers and advocates in updates, involve your target audience and encourage user generated content. 

6. Create a Content Marketing Plan - Once you know what you are trying to achieve, who you are targeting and where you are going to “hang out” online, it is vital that you engage you’re your audience through great content. The content you create should be “valuable” and “useful” to them. So don’t fall into the trap of creating boring, self serving and too “salesly” content. Consistency is a vital part of a company’s content plan: Companies should know where they are posting to, how often they are posting and what type of content they are going to create. This is vital as a sporadic approach to social media does not yield results. A well-thought out Content Calendar is the framework that helps many companies succeed in the social world. So open excel and start putting together a Social Media structure in place. 

A few tools that may help craft your content include: Buffer’s new content calendar - (NB. Only works if you use Buffer to schedule or post content), Canva – to add text and even logos to your images, Pixabay – for quality non copyright imagery (of course - where possible use your own images for your social media updates), to find great third party content for inspiration or even to repost, Pocket for bookmarking great content, Grammarly – to ensure one’s posts are spellchecked and well structured and finally Coschedule’s Headline Analyzer to craft the right titles for your blog posts.

7. Have a plan for Social Ads – In 2016 creating great content is not enough you will need to invest in advertising to ensure your content reaches your desired target audience.  

Social ads have become so advanced; you can now be “super” targeted and serve up the right ad, to the right person, at the right time on the right platform. What is also great here is that social ads are relatively inexpensive if done right.  

Create three types of ads to generate ROI:

  1. Ads to generate awareness
  2. Ads to build a relationship
  3. Ads to convert

Remember you need to build awareness and a rapport with your target audience before they are likely to convert into sales.

Ads that are proving very successful right now include Re-Marketing Ads on Facebook and Twitter, Video Ads on Facebook (check out the new Slideshow Ads),  Facebook Unpublished/Dark Posts, Instragram Ads, lead capture ads and Facebook and Twitter Lead Generation Ads.  

If you are creating multiple ads on Facebook you may want to look at AdEspresso a tool to help you manage and optimise the ROI of your Facebook ads. 

8. Set a Budget  - Social Media is not free. So you need to set a clear budget for it.   Some of the costs you should factor in include:

  • Salaries (A staff member spending 40% of their day on Social Media should be factored in. So 40% of their salary needs to included in your Social Media costings).
  • Social Ads – How much money are we going to factor in for Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram ads etc?
  • Tools – What 3rd party tools are we going to use in your social media marketing that require investment? e.g. Listening tools, scheduling tools, video production tools etc.
  • Equipment – Do you need to invest money software or hardware for your Social Media efforts? e.g. a tablet or video recorder.
  • Images – Do you need to buy copyright imagery?
  • Outsourcing costs – Do you need to hire a digital agency or even a graphic designer from time to time for your social media activity?
  • Crisis Management Fund - Do you need to have money in the kitty in case of a crisis? It is a good idea to have some spend available should a social media crisis break out.

9. Assign Roles and Take Action – Decide who in the company needs to be using Social Media and make sure everyone has a clearly defined job description and relevant training. Remember Social Media stretches well beyond the marketing department.  Looks at the Sales team, the Customer service team, the HR & Recruiting team, the IT team etc. Develop a process for all communications relating to social media across different departments. Eg. If a customer service query comes in via the marketing twitter account how is that message passed on and tracked to the Social Customer Service team. 

10. Measure and Refine - Be brave enough to listen to the data and ditch what does not work. A Social Media strategy will constantly evolve. There is no end point. Review your activity regularly. Set and stick to schedule.  Use Google Analytics, Facebook Insights, Twitter Analytics etc to measure your Social Media ROI. That said if your Social Media Goal is sales don’t forget to focus on the money in the till;) If using Facebook ads make sure you use conversion tracking pixels to calculate the exact ROI of your ad campaigns.

Finally – the Social Media world is constantly changing and what works today may not work in the future. A Social Media strategy will require regular reviews and constant change.  Today’s inovative strategy will become tomorrow’s dinosaur if you do not tweak and iterate.

AR and Education, and some Implications for Digital Marketers #80 #cong15

By Alex Meehan.

Augmented Reality is now firmly on the agenda for anyone interested in the digital world. Together with Virtual Reality, there is excitement at the opportunities the technologies offer in a whole variety of spheres – something that is reflected in this year’s Congregation. The purpose of this paper is to look at the technology from a personal perspective – that of an educator in the tourism discipine – and hopefully allow readers to draw wider parallels in the digital world.

Certainly AR has in recent years been a tool that has garnered increased attention at Education Technology conferences. Particularly in the US we can find examples of where it has achieved a degree of acceptance among educator innovators. DAQRI - a major player in the AR space in industrial contexts -  have also a keen interest in its application to education. In recent years they recruited the team at Two Guys and some Ipads – and the authors have had the chance to meet and discuss issues with Drew Minnock who is constantly in demand to speak at education conferences, particularly education technology shows. One of the most common access points for students to AR technology is in AR flash cards: these are being more widely used for primary and secondary school going children and the development by companies such as DAQRI or Octagon with their 4D Anatomy and Animals 4D apps for example.

But to date, there has been limited evidence of use of AR being integrated into the curriculum and pedagogy in post-primary or third level curricula – and it’s to this latter group which is the focus of discussion in this paper, with specific reference to the curricula in tourism courses. In the paper the authors address three issues.

  1. What are the curriculum and pedagogical issues facing educators in general? 
  2. What possibilities are there for AR in tourism curricula?
  3. How to get started?

What are the curriculum and pedagogical issues facing educators in general?

A good starting point before examining any technology’s application in an education context should be what does it seek to achieve – if we are to be true to the mantra that technology should be an enabler, then first principles demand we look at what we are trying to achieve. Here, it is important to make a distinction between curriculum and pedagogy. Very often the two are conflated, but there is a difference between the two. Curriculum is all about what we teach. Pedagogy is about how we teach it. Both are very important and, in this paper,  we try to address both dimensions.

A good starting point is to understand the holistic view of what we are trying to achieve as educators in the university context. In 2011, the Higher Education Authority in Ireland commissioned a major review of the third level sector, assessing among other things the process of curriculum development and pedagogical formats (Hunt 2011). Citing the OECD AHELO (2010)  project on higher education learning outcomes, the report outlined current international thinking on the key generic skills that all students need to acquire as part of their undergraduate education. These include analytic reasoning, critical thinking, the ability to generate fresh ideas, and the practical application of theory. The project organisers also suggest that ease in written communication, leadership ability, and the ability to work in a group should also be included in the list.  It is against this context that Augmented Reality as a technological aid should be assessed.  An admittedly brief trawl of the literature yields few examples of empirical testing of AR in an undergraduate context. One area where there has been a degree of adoption to date is the medical field, where AR offers great opportunity to allow 3D models to replace heretofore expensive real models of anatomy. In one study of medical students they were taught the basic functioning and anatomy of the heart, using either an AR model or a fiberglass model (Patzer, B., Smith D., & Keebler J. 2014 ). Learning and technology acceptance were measured. Results indicated that the AR learning tool was as effective for participant learning when compared to the conventional fiberglass model learning tool. Furthermore, the AR learning tool was rated more enjoyable, curiosity inducing, and easier-to-use than the fiberglass model. 

What possibilities are there for tourism curricula?

This short speaking slot does not allow a full discussion of AR for each of the desired learning outcomes on undergraduate programmes, but we can perhaps glean an insight from a few examples.

Consider the ability to create fresh ideas. Can there be any more creative tool than AR in this respect – to be able to merge the physical with the digital world offers endless possibilities – especially when students are given the tools to allow this. 

In terms of where AR sits on an undergraduate curriculum, an obvious starting point would be the IT / ICT curriculum, but it is not clear that even here the diffusion of AR knowledge is  happening at the pace it needs to.  As research capability in AR increases, we are seeing the development of courses in AR but these currently sit almost exclusively on computer studies type courses, and are dedicated to those who will pursue a career in software development. Certainly there is a massive shortage globally of graduates in computer visioning specialisms, and addressing this is a top priority. 

But what about the curriculum in undergraduate tourism courses? Typically students on these courses get exposure to tools such as business simulation tools, presentation and analytics software and travel software systems; the authors would argue that given the transformative nature of AR, they should be aware both on a theoretical and practical level of the range of AR technologies, and sister VR technologies, as they impact on the tourism sector. In this context I note that IFITT have been progressive in funding this conference and building awareness of the topic – it has certainly been a growing topic on the academic paper roster in recent years – and I would like to acknowledge the key role that Dr. Timothy Jung and his team at Creative Augmented Realities Hub have played in this. But of course if AR is to fully play its role in the curriculum, it’s essential that it not get siloed as a tech subject or module. 

AR’s potential as a pedagogical tool is one that offers very exciting prospects in tourism education. Take the typical tourism studies course which often has tourism geography as a building block. AR can be used to allow students to be more immersed in the task of understanding key knowledge sets. Using simple tracker based AR, maps can be brought to life for students – no longer do they have to rote learn the location of key mountain ranges – now they can discover them in an immersive, 3D way. The use of apps such as Augment allow this type of lower level learning to be done in a way that aids retention.

But as students progress through their course the emphasis on higher order learning typically increases. And here AR offers great potential. Indeed,  AR is a technology that can help students to effectively create their own curriculum. Take a typical assessment connected with a field-trip – students are often given a discovery type sheet to complete a series of questions based on their navigation of the field trip location. How much more involving it would be for them to create their own trail – one that can be access subsequently by other groups, their friends, or the general public. Apps such as iTagged are excellent at offering this type of collective social sharing dimension – indeed this aspect is one that can connect the learning experience with the students’ own lives. It can even be used on a marketing curriculum as a practical challenge for them to promote their own tours on social, digital and traditional channels.

Again, taking the ability to work in a group as a key generic skill, the authors  think AR offers huge possibilities. WYSIWYG Augmented Reality tools such as Aurasma Studio are easy to use, allow collaborative cloud-based working. Students could be set the task of taking an existing heritage attraction and creating their own AR layers of information for it – alternative languages, demographic user groups, navigation points, and historic information can all be required of student groups. A local art gallery might be selected in addition to building generic skills of creativity, story-telling, languages, leadership and project management skills are ones that would certainly be facilitated. And as a by-product the students would certainly have developed more competencies in digital creation, including graphic design and video skill-sets.

How to get started? 

The final part of this paper discusses how educators can operationalise AR in the classroom. A starting point is to have the right resources. Typically for AR to be integrated into the classroom there is a need for devices – at present this means tablets in practice. The costs of these are reducing hugely and the issue of whether the institution or the student pays looms large. In the absence of ubiquitous use of tablets by students, it seems to the authors that institutions will have to put these devices in their budget line – or of course we may see some of the larger ICT companies get involved in sponsorship type activity.  In relation to the software side, as mentioned earlier there has been huge progress in the past couple of years in terms of easy to create AR tools. Among the companies that have a particular focus on educational AR apps with ease of use, or freemium models are Aurasma, DAQRI and AugmentedClass  - the latter is a Spanish company with whom  the authors have been working on a project for the Natural History Museum in Dublin. The collaborative, cloud-based, nature of these tools is particularly attractive in helping build the crucial soft skills of teamwork and project management. The final resource needed is of course educator’s commitment – this is a more general challenge in connecting with today’s digital natives. In this context, there is a need for us to explore the development of more ‘train the trainer’ type initiatives.

And the wider implications for digital media and marketing?

Much of that which we know about how people process information is essentially borrowed from the world of psychology and learning. For marketers looking to enhance their audiences with their brands, a really good starting point is to understand how a technology such as Augmented Reality can be integrated with brand experience - indeed in some instances has the potential to be the brand experience. All the evidence points to the a deeper and more meaningful engagement with brands where the user is immersed in the learning process – especially where they are engaged the process of creation or co-creation with brands. To conclude, we need more research to assess the impact of AR on learning outcomes; the technology is set to become a key enabler in the armoury of the tourism educator offering positive impacts at both curriculum design and pedagogy levels.


Hunt C., (2012), ‘Report of the Steering Group of the National Strategy for Higher Education to 2030’ available from: [Accessed November 19 2015].

OECD AHELO project ( 2010) ‘Learning Our Lesson – Review of Quality Teaching in Higher Education’, available from: [Accessed November 19 2015].

Patzer, B., Smith D., and Keebler J. (2014) ‘Novelty and Retention for Two Augmented Reality Learning Systems’, Proceedings of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society Annual Meeting, September, Vol. 58 no. 1 1164-1168.

Who’s Laying Down Your Life Story. #79

By Alec Taylor.

Alec Taylor #79

Recording your life story - your feelings and philosophy, your dreams and your lessons learnt, your personal contribution to life on this planet – requires a dedicated act of ‘journalling’….by you.

Why Leave it to Others?

There are many persons and entities recording our lives, online and offline. We are a statistic if nothing else.  We have an educational record, a medical record, a CV.  But, without us taking action on our own behalf, this is what will remain of us.  This is what – in advanced age with a less reliable memory – we will turn to, to piece our earlier life together.

A Diary is Not Enough

A calendar of meetings attended, both professional and private, is useful.  It represents the bare bones of a lived life, but no more than that.  Your experience of life is not a chronology of events alone.

You had feelings when you celebrated a birthday or buried a family member or friend.  Your thinking and planning were influenced by these happenings.

In Vision, On Audio, In Words, We Exist.

From the day we were born, others took endless pictures of us, ‘shot’ us on video.  We were written about before we wrote words ourselves and started to describe our reactions and feelings, to tell stories.  Our ‘media’ self has become a reality whether we like it or not.  All that before we got started on Social Media.

Too Late, Too Late

Life’s uncertainty means we need to get on with it, to becoming the producer/director/scriptwriter of our own life story.  And not just the bit that’s gone by, but the bit that’s up ahead as well.  ‘Journalling’ is just as much about planning as reminiscing.  It’s about aspirations as much as memoirs.

How to Get Started.

My personal journal is still a handwritten one.  It will probably stay that way.  It’s a bit of a scrapbook, too.  I stick or staple drawings on restaurant serviettes, or an opera ticket, or family photos into it.  

So, choose the medium that suits you.  You can also type it, or dictate it (audio or video) on your phone.  The main thing is to catch your thoughts and feelings, your plans and visions, starting NOW.

‘Private and Confidential'

Until you decide otherwise, everything you ‘lay down’ is your private property.  So, separating this material from the rest of your files is no easy matter.  You would be wise to store it with the utmost care in a special file, with its own cyber security. In my case, the notebooks are placed when they’re full in an old briefcase which has a coded locking-system. 

Storing the Stories.

This is the difficult bit.  Where to store the computer files, the notebooks?  In the cellar, in the attic, with a parent or a friend?  Probably the latter, meaning ‘offsite’.  This is a personal decision.

Triggering Each Entry, Including the Very First One.

Personally, I use an interlocutor I simply call ‘Friend’.  He/she asks me a question and I answer it.   A simple example would be: “How did this last week go?” or “How are you going to deal with the current crisis?”  or “What are your goals for the rest of this year?”

Deep Emotional Stuff.

Some people say it helps to write a letter to your parents, or a valued friend/ mentor….and then reply to it on their behalf, talking back to yourself, so to speak.  I hold the view that it’s best to be as frank as possible, but to bear in mind that those near and dear to you may one day read the entry.  This is a fine decision, and it’s worth giving it thought.

Business and Family Plans.

For me there is no restriction on what areas of life we include in our ‘journal’.  Maybe I’d draw the line personally at spreadsheets, but a bit of ‘back-of-the-envelope’ business planning could be included.  The key is to plan forwards as well as to record backwards.

You Owe it to Yourself…and Future Generations

Whatever way you look at it, we’re talking about social history.  About adding to the record.  Does anyone really care?  Yes, they do.  The extraordinary lives of ordinary people is what we’re talking about.  Do your bit: for family and friends first and foremost….but for posterity, too.

Behavioural Debt #78

By Denis O’Hora.

Denis O'Hora #78 Behavioural Debt.

I’d like you to introduce an idea I have about the costs of short-term decision-making.  I conceptualise this as Behavioural Debt and it’s based on an IT industry concept called Technical Debt.

Have you heard of Technical Debt?  No? Well I hadn’t either.  A buddy of mine who's a software engineer told me about it.  The idea behind Technical Debt is that as you produce software code, you do so under time and business pressures, with incomplete knowledge and a set of expectations that are particular to that time.  As a result, there are short-term solutions and unknown bugs in the code that will need to be resolved in the future.  Fixing these problems costs time and money, so it makes sense to set aside some time and money to deal with this “debt” in the future.

Ward Cunningham, who came up with the concept, knew that a certain amount of technical debt was required in order to get the job done.  Perfect code, like perfecting any work process, is usually too expensive. However, the cost of dealing with such issues increases as time progresses, like interest on a debt.  Unless we spend time and money reducing this debt, we end up risking a point at which the software code is unusable.

When I heard of Technical Debt, it struck a chord with me.  At work, we often generate Behavioural Debt for many of the same reasons that Technical Debt is generated.  We develop policies and procedures that are the best we can do in the time available and those policies and procedures often have to change with the changing business environment.  We are therefore always banking Behavioural Debt. 

Like Technical Debt, if we do this knowingly, then it allows to develop and test our policies and procedures.  Why spend too long developing perfect procedures that are utterly unsuitable for the people in the organization?  Instead, we need to develop agreed practices quickly and get feedback early, so that we can adjust them to work for the people who will need to work to them.  However, when Behavioural Debt builds and we don't know about it, it can bring the company to a standstill.  Everyone knows that the processes don’t work, but we feel compelled to stick with them. We are stuck paying down the interest on our Behavioural Debt.

If we think of Behavioural Debt beyond the workplace, it is a product of the commitments we make to ourselves and others.  A commitment is made when we have something to do, but we will not, cannot or should not do it right right now - we commit to doing it later.  This may sound like procrastination, but, just as in the company situation i described before, postponing tasks though such commitments is often necessary and efficient.  However, we need to commit with open eyes.

Each task we commit to generates a little behavioural debt, and we will have to work it off.  When we agree to complete tasks without considering how much time and effort it will take to complete them, we run the risk of living beyond our behavioral means.  We can only do so much, and we need to be kind to our future selves who will have to pick up the tab for our decisions in the moment.  Otherwise, we will end up missing payments on our Behavioural Debt; we end up breaking commitments to others and becoming unreliable in their eyes, because we do not have the behaviour available to fulfil our commitments.

So, next time you make a commitment, think of what you are really committing to and whether you have the behavioural resources to back it up.  And be kind to your future self - check out Dan Gilbert on your future self here: 


New Views - internal external realities and where to next. #77

By Nicky Gogan.

This is what really excites me about being a curator - what started off as a very evangelical idea about drones and new views of the world and what this technology was bringing us aesthetically - actually brought me to two works that in fact are dystopian in their outlook. 

I think the films I have now selected, and the ideas they are mining, provide a really interesting stepping off point for an event like this, where we are all thinking of - where to next. 

To look at the world that social and tech created for us and to consider it as we move into this next era of creating realities for ourselves. 

So my curation adventure brought me to a dystopian view of Second Life utopia and an exploration of the possibilities that drones could play in the democratisation of surveillance. 


By Irish artists Caroline Campbell and Nina McGown

A film exploring forbidden and inaccessible space in Dublin through flying drones equipped with cameras, it focusses on the possible democratization of surveillance that drone flight affords. 

- and -


By New York based artist Annie Berman

Which explores the remnants of Second Life, a formerly thriving virtual 3D world, and investigates its susceptibility to the same economic pitfalls that plague our ‘real’ world.

Here is a trailer for Utopia 1.0  -

Food for now. #76 #cong15

By Karl Lawless.

This week I have cooked dishes from Israel, England and the U.S. Each weekend I vary our breakfast menu with dishes from Austria, France, Germany, England and Ireland. All my research, recipes and methods have commenced or have been finalised online. The possibilities and access to instant information at one’s fingertips (on your smartphone) while working in the kitchen is beyond the comprehension of my twenty-year-old self (racking my brains trying to impress my Head Chef with new menu ideas).

Now, back then I was under the self imposed impression that you were supposed to create these ideas from your own imagination (how naïve). As I moved from job to job I became more experienced and picked up ideas, influences and methods from the kitchens I worked in. If I wanted to do my own research, I’d hope Santa would buy me a cookbook for Christmas (never thought of the library) as I knew I couldn’t really afford the cookbooks myself.

What joy then that with the advent of technology coinciding with my ever increasing maturity and enlightenment I can now inform myself of absolutely anything my culinary heart desires.

I recently wanted to BBQ whole chickens for a 21st birthday function (well paying gig) and wanted to pre-brine my chickens in lemon, rosemary and thyme (vac pack for three days, unbelievable flavour). To brush up I Youtubed ‘how to divide a chicken’ and brushed up on something I probably should have paid attention to twenty years previously. I can now look at videos on TopChefs and see the best way to fillet salmon posted by Japanese Sushi Masters or even the fastest Kitchen Porter in the world.

Anyone with basic cooking ability or nouse can train themselves further through video demos on any kitchen practice from how to debone a chicken thigh to making American pancakes.

The explosion of cookery programs, particularly from far flung locations, has led to a diverse range of restaurants and food outlets springing up. Maybe it’s always been like this. However ,we do seem to have really imported wholeheartedly the street food/diner style of the U.S. Really tasty stuff. You can’t cross the street for the amount of pulled pork sandwiches donning menus all across the country.

The take on the Reuben is out the door roundabout these Isles over the last year or so.

The basis is the same. Quality ingredients, cooked well. The retail medium has and is changing. Anyone heard of @akillersandwich? This is a perfect example of how anyone can create a food business without a traditional shop front. Instant and clever imagery, limited availability and a must have sambo all combine to make this something you just MUST have. The fact that only 99 other people are having it makes it even more so.

This accessibility does however lead to deeper questions beyond the simple quandary of ‘what will I cook/eat next?’ We don’t all live in the same regions of the world, we are not all subject to the same seasonality and our quest for having what we want, right now brings its own ethical dilemmas.

Judge the fish by its ability to climb a tree. #75 #cong15

By Naomi Freeman.

Naomi Freeman #75 Judge the fish by its ability to climb a tree.

Have you ever been in one of these meetings?

“There’s no point in setting up Treebook. We already have Instasnap!”

“My niece is on Treebook though. Did you see it in Money Times Mega Magazine?”

“I heard it’s trending on the Grapevine.”

Someone senior cuts in: “Intern, please research the options. We’ll revisit this on the 30th.”

How do we evaluate the differences between all these new social media products?

What exactly is the intern going to be evaluating anyway?

In 1964, a Canadian fellow named Marshall McLuhan wrote a bunch of things about media. “The medium is the message” is one of his more famous aphorisms you may have heard.

He also argued that all media are just extensions of ourselves: cars become a space we use to extend ourselves. We gain awareness of its space and capabilities as if they were our own.

Every technology extends or enhances our capabilities. Facebook enhances our ability to socially connect over distance. Lights enhance our ability to see in the dark.

This is the first of four principles McLuhan presented as a framework to evaluate technology, long before social media, Super Bowl ads and the iPad.

His framework is a concept called the Tetrad. It is a framework for examining the effects of any technology or medium.

The idea is to create a more comprehensive understanding of the artifact (medium, technology) and its surroundings. It’s a process of asking questions – historical, technological, and sociological.

  • What does any artifact enlarge or enhance?
  • What does it erode or obsolesce?
  • What does it retrieve that had been earlier obsolesced?
  • What does it reverse or flip into when pushed to the limits of its potential?

Given that all technology is first an extension of ourselves, these questions are vitally important in evaluating the differences. The things that we lose with the new extension will point us in the direction of what we will desire to have next.

It is important to consider these questions simultaneously – not as cause and effect or in some chronological order. These 4 effects are all happening at the same time.

For example: let’s consider the mobile phone:

  1. It enhanced interpersonal communication and response time for communication.
  2. It obsolesced phone booths, but along with that and the phone in the home, it obsolesced much of the privacy of a phone call. Even further than that, it has in fact obsolesced many of the “deep” conversations we had when we were focused just on speaking on the phone.
  3. It retrieved cameras, oddly. Who would have anticipated that giving us acoustic enhancement would actually result in Instagram?
  4. It has reversed into letter sending, really. Most of our social media, texts, etc. are actually the exact opposite of what a phone is meant to do: allow users to communicate acoustically.

Naoimi Freeman #75 background

For every technology this is going to be a bit different, and for sure my list on this one isn’t definitive. You can play Tetrad with any technology from a multiplicity of perspectives and disciplines for hours, days, weeks. Please do feel free to discuss this one further! I’ve only done a quick overview to give you a taste of how to approach the framework.

As you can see, there is a relationship between these tetradic elements.

This is about to get a bit thick, but come with me.

Retrieval is to obsolescence as enhancement is to reversal.

What is brought back must also render something obsolete; what is enlarged will always do so at the expense of others.

We all famously know the “false promise” of Facebook’s connecting us simultaneously creating isolation through both the insularity of the communities it creates and the curation of our lives.

It also brings back tribal community connections – there is no “disappear to NYC and reinvent yourself” like an 80s movie without your aunt Marcie, that hot girl from high school and 2 guys you met on a train 6 years ago like your “Welcome to NYC” profile pic.

This internet forum age of anonymity has been rendered obsolete by these tribal villages and our quest for brand management zen: curating the perfect You Inc. portfolio online.

The other part of the relationship is this:

Retrieval is to enhancement as obsolescence is to reversal.

What is retrieved is an outgrowth of the enhancement. What is obsolesced creates opportunity for reversal.

In the Facebook example, the isolation of staring at a screen alone for social contact creates an opportunity for reversal: we see it in – a community that aims only to set dates and times online for people to meet in person.

This is the online sociality taken to its extreme and reversal.

In doing so, it in fact retrieves the very thing it obsolesced in the first place (meeting in real life) but does so in this “new medium”.

In another example you might be less familiar with, we have Flixel.

This is a technology that creates “living” photos – the photos are taken as a video, one frame is grabbed and held still like a photo and then an element of the photo keeps moving, like an earring or some grass flowing in the breeze.

What this technology is doing is retrieving the motion of video and television, through an extreme outgrowth of the enhancement of the medium: a photograph.

So how can we apply this to our everyday work?

Another way to consider the problem of comparing technologies is this: what is the consequence of the technology we’re launching or considering for use?

For the mobile phone, the consequence of this new way of communicating using acoustic space was actually a return to sorts of written letters (texts) that can be sent without invading others’ acoustic space. It also, oddly, retrieved photography as a popular way to communicate.

For Facebook, the consequence of creating communities of real people you know with your real name were other technologies that allowed anonymity and privacy online (like and technologies that allowed you to meet-up in person (think Tinder, These were the things Facebook was originally in fact sweeping the table of. This really illustrates the pendulum swing you can observe through the Tetrad.

Back to how we apply this in the real world. Inside of a business, it is important to embrace these consequences to allow growth.

Shopify is an ecommerce platform. Their business is to let businesses operate completely online.

Curiously, two years ago, they used the pop-up shop model to create a storefront on one of Toronto’s busiest shopping streets.

It may not have been conscious or intentional, but in setting up this brick-and-mortar space, Shopify was in fact embracing the furthest extension (inversion and reversal) of the very business model it made successful.

Rather than insulate themselves and commit to their success model, they in fact were able to embrace the very thing that could have been their undoing. Rather than allow the consequence, the extreme of their model to allow a space for another company, they leveraged it to bring more business to their already successful model.

In terms of choosing social media, consider the farthest outreach consequence of the technology. It can be used as a predictive tool to understand what your customers will desire next. In the meantime, you can evaluate the differences between potential technologies by understanding what each is missing, the extreme consequence of where one can go and if that’s somewhere you want to follow and what complementary technologies already exist to balance what it is doing. In that way, you can make smarter choices about which 2-3 platforms or apps you want to be on. There are already ecosystems out there. Using the Tetrad framework and questions can help you follow the lines and understand how these technologies are out there working together.

As for those starting new businesses, if you’re not in at the ground floor of an innovation, my next best suggestion is to find its inversion to start.

Google is automating cars – you know what niche needs filled once it booms?

Nostalgia will retrieve classic, human-driven cars – obsolesced by the automated version, these will become a masterful artwork to be coveted, much the way poetry chapbooks are.

Can you fill one out for Virtual Reality?

An important thing to remember with the mobile phone is the change in context. Many of the changes occurred because the space in which we could use the technology changed, and this resulted in all kinds of behaviour and usage change.

The point in using the Tetrad is really to change our question from “what does this technology do” (click a button – add a friend) to “what kind of context change does this technology create” (sitting inside alone to communicate vs. sitting in a coffee shop) and “what is the furthest consequence of this technology”.

© Eoin Kennedy 2013 eoin at congregation dot ie