At carbohydrate-crazy 360i, a number of us gather every other week late afternoon Wednesday for Beer with Berky and first thing Friday for Bagels with Berky (both abbreviated as BwB). At these sessions, anyone who shows up takes part in discussions about new technologies, media, trends, and industry news, and I – the eponymous Berky – get to serve as host and moderator.
The notes from all of this year’s sessions spanned 36 pages, with hundreds of links and dozens of supporting documents. To give you just a taste of what we’ve covered, here’s a more consolidated version. For the full effect, grab a Guinness or a bagel (or both!) while reading.
Startup Outlook: This year, a lot of the discussion here was about the startups featured in Startup Outlook, which 360i launched this spring. Well before the reports went out, we would review a lot of these startups to get a sense of how they worked and what people thought. There are a few startups that were almost included in the reports, but the cynics in the room at Bagels and Beer essentially vetoed their inclusion. We checked out even more startups from another pilot program called TASC – the cross-agency Technology, Advertising and Startup Council. How can anyone keep track of all these startups? Check out this list on BestVendor.
Events: the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) and South by Southwest (SXSW) proved to be especially great fodder for discussing new technologies. Throughout the year, there have been a number of event-packed weeks that fed the discussion, such as Social Media Week, Internet Week, and Social Week.
Travel: According to TripIt, I’ve racked up more than 80,000 miles this year while traveling every third day. Some of that inspired good Bagels and Berky conversation, including follow-ups from trips to Israel (meeting with Carmel Ventures and many talented entrepreneurs), Indianapolis (for ExactTarget’s Connections 2012), and the Iberian peninsula (I took some great Instagram pics of tapas in Barcelona). Some of the best trips this year though were going to our Atlanta and Chicago offices to run some BwB sessions live there.
Media consumption: We spent a lot of time looking at how media consumption behavior has been changing, or indicators of what may change in the future. We had lengthy discussions on Google’s Chromebooks, Nexus tablets and Project Glass, Aereo offering cross-device streaming of live TV, Microsoft’s Surface that further blurred lines between tablets and laptops, the iPad Mini, FreedomPop’s free personal mobile hot spots, and GetPocket for saving great content for later (perhaps you can try it on this very post).
Field trips: While BwB was always at the office, small groups of us got first-hand looks at a number of the more disruptive companies in New York, including Makerbot, Shapeways (which also powers Mixee Me), and Quirky. For companies manufacturing tangible goods, the best way to understand what they do is to visit them on their turf. Then at one Beer with Berky, our own VP of Production Nick Kierstead brought in examples of what he has designed and built with Makerbot.
Brands: Nike was a favorite this year, from its Fuelband release in Q1 to its Kinect workout program in Q4. We looked at what a number of brands like Kraft were doing at the Olympics, and Coca-Cola’s Polar Bowl during the Super Bowl. And not surprisingly at an agency, we constantly looked at how brands were using other technologies and media discussed, from GE’s program with Quirky to Verizon tapping StarStar to brand profiles on Instagram.
Connecting: From new communities to crowdfunding to crowdsourcing, there continue to be a slew of new and improving ways to connect with others. Standouts include connecting with like-minded strangers over a bite with GrubwithUs and AmuseMi, meeting people for local experiences with Sidetour, Highlight and the various versions proximity networking, and exploring 23andme – a social network based on DNA.
Things: Okay, this recap is full of things, but only a handful of examples showcase the emerging age of the internet of things, or the era of connected devices. A lot of these were crowdfunded, from the Twine sensor detecting motion, temperature, and moisture, to the Volt belt buckle that turned into an iPhone charger (sadly, it didn’t reach the IndieGogo funding threshold). You can tell how quickly things are changing when the relaunched Furby comes with a companion iPhone app. You might also want to buy a toilet sensor.
Books: I couldn’t resist sharing some of my favorite book recommendations, from new releases to timely works from the likes of Dan Ariely (“The Honest Truth about Dishonesty”), Clifford Nass (“The Man Who Lied to His Laptop), Sherry Turkle (“Alone Together”), Douglas Rushkoff (“Coercison”), and William Gibson (“Distrust That Particular Flavor”).
Fun and games: It was a Bagels with Berky session years ago where I first found out about Cat Paint, perhaps my favorite iPhone app of all time. Some of this year’s entertaining hits included the man fighting a goose with a light saber, Funny or Die’s take on the Instagram acquisition, and – for one of my all-time favorite uses of the internet – the “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Me Now” experience starring Balki from “Perfect Strangers.”
Balki Bartokomous is right – nothing’s gonna stop us now. Starting with our next Bagels with Berky following CES 2013 in January, there will be much more to discuss and learn in the year ahead. A lot of the discussions from BwB over the years have inspired content on the blog and programs for our clients, so stay connected with us and keep adding to the inspiration.