Author: Johannes Bachhuber
This semester has been a great semester for Inspire&Dine. The speaker series has really taken off, continuously attracting inspiring speakers and large crowds to such an extent that we had to limit the amount of spots for each event. On June 9th, over 350 interested people gathered on the 6th floor of Marsstraße 20 to listen to three inspiring talks, enjoy the view, and network over a beer or two.
The first speaker of the evening was Dieter Janecek, the Green Party’s spokesperson for economic affairs in the German Bundestag. He is a member the committees for Digital Agenda and Economy&Energy in the German Bundestag. In his talked titled “Does digitalization promote a sustainable economy?,” he talked about the link between the digital revolution and the Energiewende, the transition by Germany towards renewable energies.
Janecek pointed out that an increase in efficiency isn’t always the best thing. Efficiency leads to growth and while growth certainly has its merits, it can also lead to a rebound effect. Take, for instance, an increase in parking efficiency in a city. This will lead to an increase in cars in the city, which in turn has negative environmental implications.
To continue the political discourse, William Moeller, the U.S. Consul General in Munich, talked about “the challenges of balancing security and privacy in the digital age.” He noted that one cannot enjoy freedom without security. Up to a certain degree, security reinforces freedom, but there is an obvious trade-off between the two. This trade-off has become more severe in our increasingly digital world. The Internet has brought the world closer together, but it has also blurred the digital front lines. It is difficult for intelligence agencies to operate in an environment where enemies, who are often non-state actors, use the same communication channels as regular, law-abiding citizens. Intelligence agencies have overstepped in the past, but under the Obama administration the U.S. has pulled back some of the authorities granted to intelligence agencies and increased congressional oversight in an effort to strike the right balance between privacy and security.
There are also cultural differences when it comes to privacy. Germans might think that Americans don’t care about privacy, when in fact they just have a slightly different concept of what privacy means to them. In contrast to Germany, the United States does not have a national ID card or a requirement to notify authorities when moving. Privacy in the U.S. translates to the right to be left alone – something that Germany doesn’t have.
In closing, William Moeller reiterated the importance of the transatlantic relationship between Germany and the United States and left the audience with a quote by Winston Churchill: “You can always count on the Americans to do the right thing; after they have tried everything else.”
During the break, the audience had the chance to try out the prototypes that students built in the Sketching with Hardware elective. Over the course of two weekends, students worked in interdisciplinary teams of two to create hardware prototypes ranging from an android-style digital keypad that shakes its head when you swipe in the wrong code to a musical mural, which allows you to control music by interacting with electric paint drawn directly on a wall.
Last but not least, Max Müller, a former CDTM student and Product Manager at STYLIGHT, talked about why any brand needs to turn into a publishing company at some point to stay successful in the digital age. It’s not enough to simply bombard users with your message and hope that they will get it. Persistence is good, but inbound marketing is better. In the best case, your user will opt in – either by signing up for a newsletter or by clicking a link in a search engine.
The best way to get these types of clicks is by providing relevant content targeted to your audience. If you know what your users are interested in, you can target them through published material.
Next, he presented an interesting case study: Kate Middleton. Or more specifically: how STYLIGHT capitalized on their users’ interest in Kate Middleton. When they heard that Kate Middleton uses Bio Botox to look young, people at STYLIGHT jumped at the opportunity. They quickly purchased and tested Bio Botox and published an article about it, casually mentioning the Duchess of Cambridge in the process. As users started searching for Bio Botox, this article was in second place on Google for this now often searched term and received virtually free traffic on their site. This is how publishing can act as a very cheap advertising tool to drive high quality traffic to your site without paying a dime to advertisers.
This was the last Inspire&Dine for this semester, but we will be back next semester. Stay tuned; we will announce the dates soon!