Eric Schmidt, no less, thinks that the future belongs to platforms that are mobile, social and *local*… The Guardian believes the platform of choice is North America. I’m with Eric.

Sad, start-up ceo that I am, I decided to ease myself back into work mode by watching our old friend Eric Schmidt take centre stage at Dreamforce 2011 last week where, for an hour, he ran through his current thinking with Marc Benioff of Salesforce.

Those kind people at Google posted up a link on YouTube… complete with the relevant chapter ‘headings’.

The one that clearly leaps out is ‘Mobile, Local, Social’ which comes about 37 mins in to the presentation. It’s well worth a view.

For those who can’t be a*sed, here’s what Eric Schmidt says:

‘What I do know is that the next generation of these leaders will be something involving mobile, local and social…’

This is not, of course, the first time that Eric has seen the future as mobile; thataway lay a great ‘unwashed landscape’ of opportunity… and you can’t help but agree. Unless, of course, you’re BT for whom the future is, clearly, still all about a copper wire.


But what is *really* interesting for me is the way that Eric has now added ‘local’ to his fields of future exploration.

‘These are the terms that we use today for the way that people live and work,’ he continues, ie that we live, shop, educate, market, connect and congregate ‘locally’… What’s the news that *really* matters to me? The news that starts at the school gates…

Old stuff. We’ve been here before. Google will now look to work on predictive apps that warn motorists off traffic queues before they build; ‘real-time’ tools that help ease our journey into work, to drop the kids off at school. Local solutions for local issues.

He then talks about PCs; his birth-place; his alma mater. A platform that is now ‘30 to 40-years-old’, he reminds his audience. You could, I guess, add a printing press to that argument; now 400 to 500-years-old.

‘We’ve exhausted that platform [PCs]. There’s a new type of platform which is the quick hits, the quick ways to information and there is a new generation that will see this…’

Newspapers may still be many things to many people, it would need the most die-in-the-wool Newspaper Society propagandist to claim that newspapers, in their print form, offered ‘quick ways to information…’

Alas, Eric doesn’t expound further on either local or social… by ’social’ I would hope that he means collaborative and participatory; that in times of disruption and threat, we turn back to our own, hunker down and help eachother out.

And when applied to the field of journalism, that’s not just in the act of story-telling, but of ad selling.

We help eachother out – both commercially and editorially.

That, as many of you might know, is where we’re off to next; building a collaborative, local advertising exchange that allows others to sell your ad space for you… in an open, transparent and social way.

We even have our own ‘forum’ now… a place where people come to meet, to socialise and do businesshttp://addiply.invisionzone.com/

I’d like to think that would *fit* within what Eric views as ’social’.

But it is his use of the word ‘local’ that really intrigues and delights.

My Old Man died on Christmas Eve in my finals year at Oxford. He had three great passions – left-of-centre politics, jazz music and The Guardian newspaper. The three, then, sat very easily together.

It’s probably why I tend to care, more than most, as to where *exactly* the old ‘Manchester Guardian’ is now head. And why, more than most, it was a big thing for me to be acting collaboratively with the great and the good of King’s Place when it came to GuardianLocal.

Which, to my mind and, presumeably, to Eric’s, sat so comfortably with these a-changing times.

But then you decided to ‘do America…’

To ask us all to sift through Sarah Palin’s email drawer and to keep our interest alive as the whole Wikileaks saga unfolded; and slowly but surely disappeared up its own, ego-driven a*se as the journalist became part of the story.

GuardianNorwich? You’d have had me for life. Working out whose password belongs to who and what encrypted data format file it should not have opened? Nah, lost me… You’re turning me off. And The Guardian newspaper is in my blood.

And, more worryingly, there is a growing sense that you feel you are beyond reproach; that for anyone to suggest that in abandoning all things Leeds and local to fight for the US ad bucks that the MailOnline seeks with its celeb photo spreads you got it wrong, is for Oliver to be asking for more… You are disconnecting with your core audience.

Way back when, I wrote a piece in which the Titanic featured. The band played on, etc…


To this day, I will argue that the safer and warmer waters lie to the south… that’s where, I suspect, the chairman of Google would go; to turn towards those lift-rafts marked ‘Local’ and ‘Social’… where we’re all in it together.

But you’ve decided to steer north; to do North America. To abandon local and – commercially – to forget acting collaboratively; exploring new participatory models of ad selling, just as you empower and all-but expect us all to happily rifle through Ms Palin’s drawers on your behalf.

But, there we go. Decision made. And besides what does Eric Schmidt know that you don’t, eh? You are The Guardian newspaper, after all.


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