End of June 2013 the MLOVE ConFestival took place in Germany again. The mobile event was crowded with inspirational people from all around the globe, scheduled with meaningful keynotes about the digital future, and blessed with beautiful weather.
There was a creative spirit in the air throughout the days with enthusiastic brainstorming sessions, think tanks in the Nokia chill-out area or even in the swimming pool, prototyping and developing sessions, a cappella aries & acoustic piano-singing assemblies by musical attendees, and an impressive castle light show as a grand finale.
This year for me MLOVE was very much about the urge to achieve something “good” with mobile. Rather than only focussing on mCommerce, app rankings, marketing charts, new market players or platform restrictions, it was rather very much about:
- how mobile influences humanity,
- what it means for the established mobile education system,
- how quantified-self and health solutions fit into the picture,
- what it means for privacy and data protection,
- how mobile guidance and mobile literacy have become our responsibility,
- and how mobile can improve people’s everyday life – especially in emerging markets.
Put your mobile devices on a time-out
Very much to my personal liking, many mobile pioneers have realized that “always-on” can not be the proper way forward anymore. Ironically, the mobile industry itself, who has been preaching “always-on” for years, is now sending out a calling, asking society to become more aware of all the hours they are staring at their devices, and now motivate them to be strong enough to unplug from the over-connected world sometimes. It almost appears like society has developed an addiction to constantly being digitally connected.
It thus also has become the responsibility of the mobile industry to supply guidance for “off-time”. Many ideas and conversations evolved around the idea of switching off sometimes in order to regain focus. Even the MLOVE mission depicts that topic.
Among the MLOVE future cubes a group came up with the idea to establish a regular day on which all digital devices shall be switched off for a day. Almost like a public holiday. They called it “Happy Moliday”. Jonathan MacDonald, member of the MLOVE advisory board, speeks publicly about the importance of “de-noising”, which basically means to reduce all the noise around you, as people consume three times as much information today as they did in 1960 (see infographic below).
This can also be applied to all the social network updates, likes, tweets, blings, rings, and beeps, we have become obsessed with. A statistic says that 61% cannot ignore their digital device for more that one hour after it made a sound. They HAVE to check it within the hour.
Jonathan MacDonald states: “We need to seize control of the information that competes for our attention. We have to ask whether the tools around us are working in our favour ultimately…and if not, whether we should be building more tools that do. Only then will we be able to switch off and relax.”
Many apps are available now that provide help to relax (e.g. Headspace). Also the app “pause” was published shortly after MLOVE, which rewards users who stay offline the longest by competing against their friends. The Samsung Galaxy S3 device has already included a “blocking mode” in the quick navigation. And the co-working space Betahaus Berlin is even holding workshops with the headline “switch off or burn out!” All this shows why “off-time” was ironically speaking a big topic among the very connected crowd at MLOVE. During MLOVE this year we had very little wireless connection, some participants even joked about it, saying that this may actually be part of the “off-time” agenda. Feel it, live it!
Time to do something good with Mobile
Harald Neidhardt, Founder and Curator of MLOVE ConFestival, explained in our interview that MLOVE shall be about doing something good with mobile: “MLOVE is inspiring its participants and speakers to think outside our comfort zone of pushing the envelope of the future of mobile just for the sake of technology: we are trying to create a space where we can discuss how mobile can make the world a better place.”
Harald Neidhardt further says: “This year, we had extraordinary partners and speakers like Hopelab from Silicon Valley, Nike Foundation, Vodafone Foundation and Nokia with a focus on their Asha devices and “the next billion” people getting connected. I am especially proud of the Google hangouts that we did during the ideation sessions with people from Africa and India on the line.”
I was also part of the future cube workshop that was organized by Nike Foundation, and held by Andrew Missingham. We connected online with African people, mostly women, who then told us about their needs in Google hangouts. They explained the challenges of their area, what technological devices they have in place (mostly feature phones), and what solutions they would need to help them. We then created ideas according to their briefings. Besides a few technical restrictions, it was a wonderful exchange.
Our group, for example, created the idea of “mEduDial” – a mobile education dial-in service basically, that gives peolple – no matter which mobile phone available – the opportunity to learn on demand any time and provide them with an easy access to available modules simply by using their mobile.
Also during the Nike foundation workshop, the idea of “Sherpa” was born around the group of Kiki Ylimutka, Chairwomen of SuperSisters, a network that inspires and empowers young women and girls to go for their dreams and turn ideas into meaningful actions.
Sherpa is described “as a network for inquisitive travellers who will deliver your goods or swap skills in exchange to learn more about your community and culture”. During the MLOVE hackcamp day, a first prototype was already built.
And now…please switch off and give yourself some “OFF-TIME”.