Norwegian death metal, the art of tending robots and re-inventing mobile commerce

Posted by Mike Walsh

Nov 1, 2015 12:00:00 AM



Harper Reed is one of the world’s foremost thinkers on data and digital innovation. He served as the CTO of Obama’s re-election campaign and was also one of the founders of His latest company, Modest, inc, was recently acquired by Paypal, where he is now working to figure out the future of commerce. Over dinner at Soho House in Chicago, we talked about digital bias and the stubborn persistence of paper, why technology is best used as a force multiplier of people power, the quantification of marketing and how smarter tools replace the need for experts, reactionary interfaces and why retailers are afraid of their customers, why iTunes credit is more meaningful to kids than cash, the power of ‘undo’ in e-commerce, and the link between local infrastructure and global innovation.


CATEGORY: Retail, Technology

Magic, engineered interactivity and the future of storytelling

Posted by Mike Walsh

Oct 23, 2015 12:00:00 AM



Technology and science may seem the natural enemies of magic, but for Marco Tempest, who describes himself as a cyber-illusionist, they are his daily tools of trade. Magicians have a long history of deploying advanced technology to be ahead of the reality curve in order to fool their audiences. For Marco, that means experimenting with motion tracking, drones, augmented and virtual reality, projection mapping, gaze tracking, robotics and AI. When I visited him in his New York workshop, we spoke about the art of telling stories about the near future, open source collaboration, sandboxing emerging technologies, engineering interactivity and how the world’s magicians have kept a secret private archive of their tricks and what that might mean for crafting the future of experiences.


CATEGORY: Retail, Marketing

Science fiction prototyping, storytelling and how to 3D print a candybar

Posted by Mike Walsh

Aug 30, 2015 12:00:00 AM



What if the best way to come up with a brilliant plan for the future of your company was to hire a sci-fi writer? Ari Popper does just that. He connects companies with storytellers to create visions and prototypes of what the future of their products and customers might look like. Ari previously ran the market research company, Brainjuicer USA, but it was a science fiction writing course at UCLA that made him realise the power of creating compelling stories for companies. I was introduced to Ari after a speech I gave at Visa’s incredible new San Francisco headquarters. In the spirit of a Silicon Valley startup, Visa had commissioned Ari’s team to create an interactive, high impact data wall that provided a real time view into the company’s universe. When I visited him at their lab in Burbank, we chatted about the power bringing ideas from fiction to life as prototypes, comic books, and immersive installations.


CATEGORY: Innovation, Retail

Astro Boy, Bitcoin and the art of keeping a ramen notebook

Posted by Mike Walsh

Aug 15, 2015 12:00:00 AM



Michael Keferl runs the Tokyo office of the global innovation consultancy, Mandalah. But I knew him from the early 2000s, when he was the genius behind one of my favourite, and in fact, one of the most popular blogs in the world at that time - CScout Japan. CScout was the go-to emporium for all things weird and wonderfully Japanese. When we caught up in Tokyo, Michael gave me a behind the scenes tour of the city’s latest retail, technology and subcultural trends. Later that day, sitting at a sidewalk cafe in Shibuya, we debriefed on what we saw, discussing the evolution of mobile technology and payments in Japan, interactivity and politeness, why ramen fanatics keep notebooks, Astro Boy’s influence on modern robotics, the fall of Mt Gox, and why this tiny island continues to be a source of inspiration to innovators.


CATEGORY: Retail, Global