It’s been nearly 10 years since I owned a phone

I still have a device which I can use to make calls, but it’s not a phone. I and most other people these days have a globally interconnected super computer. It so happens to have a feature which can make calls. Simple evidence resides in the number of times we interact with it daily, versus the number of calls – they are almost insignificant. We touch our phone hundreds of times a day and we might make a few calls. (Count for the next few hours if you don’t believe me). Here‘s a picture of the last phone I owned below.

Nokia Brick

It’s hard to believe it has nearly been 10 years since the iPhone disrupted the economic time continuum – for a total of 3363 days we have literally have NASA in our pockets. A personal super computer that 20 years ago it would’ve literally cost several millions dollars. And today, it is free. We get the mobile phone for the same price of around $50 a month, but with the super computer as the free prize inside. And while we all know it has impacted some obvious industries like news, media, music, mapping and photography to name a few, it is much more than that. It’s a bit like a new Neo Cortex which is why we feel so uncomfortable leaving home without it. I personally believe it is the start of technology merging with our biology. I’m certain it will enter our body, we can already see the trajectory of the technology getting smaller and smaller and closer and closer to our bodies. We already have wires coming out of it, and directly into us, eventually they’ll be attached permanently, and soon after the tech will aside inside us.

While this phone super computer has numerous life benefits that come with it – it isn’t without it’s own set of externalities.

The Privacy Fallacy

“If you don’t do anything wrong, then you have nothing to worry about with privacy.”

We’ve all heard that before and there are many problems associated with this proposition.

Firstly, it has attached to it a basic assumption that only illegal or immoral activities can be used against us. Secondly, many people are forgetting that our phone super computer tracks many activities without us inputting or extracting any data at all. It has a number of sensors which (Ironically like a human senses never stop working) – they are constantly listening in the background to our environment and sending back information to big brother. Accelerometers, Gyrometers, GPS locators, Altimeters, Light sensors, Cameras, Sound receptors. The GPS even works when the phone is off the grid. And here is my personal favourite; Siri records everything we’re saying, all the time, if we agreed to its terms, and most of us do without even reading them. Some of the stuff it knows outside of our web surfing, data input and info requested can be of the most value to governments and corporations.

The problem with the privacy issue, is that data can be converted into discrimination. For example, an innocent person could be put on a watch list because unbekowns to them they associate with say a hacktavist. Just by their phones super computers being in close proximity to each other frequently, a person could be falsely targeted. It’s also easy to see how various forms of insurance could be refused based on private data collected. But we won’t know what the limits of these discriminations until they have already happened. No one has read the back of the cereal box…. (The Terms & Conditions). We are literally playing a game we don’t know the rules to, and this is a very dangerous proposition indeed.

We can’t stop it, but we need to civilise it

We can never stop data tracking. No technology in history, regardless of its externalities has been able to be stopped once released. Especially if short term benefits are greater than long term complications. So we need to civilise the internet – like we civilised cities and factories in the industrial era. We need the equivalent of workplace health & safety, car design road rules and environmental protections, but for peoples data. And we cannot leave that up to the corporate owners of the platforms we use – like all companies their basic incentive is to maximise short term shareholder wealth. What we have now, is each company setting its own laws of usage which is as crazy as it sounds. Especially when participating in the modern economy requires us to use the platforms.

We need a macro generic set of Terms & Conditions for all digital services – where companies only report exceptions. They need to be written in language everyone can understand with consequences laid out. it needs to be taught in schools and in society. If we as the collective users of the internet have the wisdom to force this, then the utopian dream of the web can recommence.

Trust and my dad

My dad has an interesting viewpoint on the idea of trust. He says that it doesn’t need to be earned with him rather, he gives it out freely and automatically with anyone that he meets. He says that it is implicit in the human make up. He says that trust should be an automatic ‘gift’ in the human operating system.

Occasionally his trust gets abused – that’s the price he is willing to pay for it does happen. The upside of all the trust given far outweighs the few exceptions.

In startups and business, we’ve tried to de-humanize trust and replace it with forms and legal agreements. I really believe that we should trust ourselves and our gut just a little more. But I’m excited that new technology is making us more human again. The fact that digital footprints are largely permanent may even circumvent the need for mistrust and formal agreements. We can instead go back to trusting peoples word and enjoy the speed that organic development gives us versus making lawyers wealthy.




Bratz dolls & stealing ideas

It was recently decided in an appeal court that success of the Bratz dolls brand is not based on the idea. It’s my favourite court ruling in a long time. In April 2009, a federal judge upheld the $100 million jury verdict that essentially gave Mattel ownership of the billion dollar plus Bratz brand. Which basically gave Mattel the rights to most of MGA’s Bratz products. A jury in the case found that the designer who created the dolls was working at Mattel when he conceived of the idea and the name and made the initial drawings for the pouty and multi ethnic girls.

But this decision got over ruled a few a days ago by a unanimous panel of the ninth circuit.

“It is not equitable to transfer this billion-dollar brand, the value of which is overwhelmingly the result of MGA’s legitimate efforts, because it may have started with two misappropriated names,” the appellate panel said in its ruling today.

“It is not equitable to transfer this billion-dollar brand, the value of which is overwhelmingly the result of MGA’s legitimate efforts, because it may have started with two misappropriated names,” the appellate panel said in its ruling today.

The great thing about this decision is that it reconginizes where true brand value comes from, everything ‘but’ the idea. As I’ve always said on Startup blog ideas are near worthless when it comes to building brand equity. Rather it’s the rich combination of design, building supply chains, inventing demand, effective distribution and the constant iteration of these factors. It should not only be a lesson for entrepreneurs, but large lazy corporates who try and beat their more nimble and innovative competition in the courts.


Startup School – 1 seat left

I’m very excited that Startup School Melbourne is this weekend. We still have a single seat left which is currently being warmed by this guy….

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But we’d love to replace him with you. And if you need any more convincing then I’m pretty sure I’ll have done the job once you finish reading this blog entry.

Firstly – here’s a list of topics we’ll be covering in detail:

  • Idea Generating
  • Creativity in business. Creative thinking
  • Raising Capital
  • Art of Pitching
  • Legal tips, shortcuts and administration
  • Successful outsourcing (digital & production)
  • Building an international work force
  • Cash flow for startups & budgeting
  • Simplified project management
  • Personal & business branding
  • Selling like a guru
  • Generating PR and media
  • Building a Team

All of which is fully documented in a take home working manual so you’ll leave knowing exactly what to do and how to do it. Like I have.

We are also being joined by Yvonne Adele – Globally renowned Creativity and ideas guru!

You can’t learn this stuff in school, books or at University. And I should know as I teach Marketing at Melbourne University. You also get me as an on going mentor as a Startup School graduate with unlimited help in your start up. Which is incredible value give what most consultants (with less real experience) charge by the hour.

We are holding the event in the groovy boutique Lindrum Hotel. Where the space is great and the food and espresso is awesome. I tested it.

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All of which is included in the price. You’ll be one of 10 people in an intimate learning environment. Not in a room full of people.

If that’s not enough , Startup School comes with a money back guarantee to blow your mind. I can say this because I know the 2 days will.

No, it’s not priceless – it’s priced at $998.

It will be the best investment in your entrepreneurship education you’ve ever made. it will make and save you thousands. This event is a one off, there is no next chance. If you want to chat about it – call me on the phone number in the right hand side bar of this blog.

Click here to book now.

(Seats still available for Sydney 21st & 22nd of November)

See you on the weekend, Steve.

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Asset Diversification

We diversify our asset portfolios to reduce risk. To reduce the risk of a particular asset losing value, declining, getting stolen, lost, or broken. We store our assets in safes and banks and put locks on them. We even insure our assets.

If information is the new ‘asset’ – Why do we keep all our assets in only 1 or 2 devices? Just a laptop, a brain, maybe an iphone or external hard drive. Why don’t we diversify their location, or even afford them other types of protection?

Maybe they should be shared instead, and not hidden or locked up. Maybe the sharing of the asset will stimulate it’s growth. Maybe…. But there is little doubt they ought be protected.


image by Austin Kleon

words by Steve from