We invite colleagues, competitors, clients and other skilled people from (or relevant for) the industry, for a coffee. Todays guest is Thomas Wagner from Vienna, Austria. That is, when he’s not studying, travelling and working somewhere else, like in Vancouver, Budapest, Hanoi, Barcelona or Nicaragua. Thomas studies Mass Media and Communication Science and International Business, and sometimes work as a planner/strategist. Basically, he’s a curious student of everything and how it relates to people, culture, business, communication and brands, walking on the insight road – and not halfway there yet;-)
What inspires you?
It probably sounds like a cliché, but the world and the people living on it. I love being a witness of small and seemingly pointless interactions, listening to a story of a friend or stranger and wondering about its background, sitting in a dumb and FX loaded Hollywood movie, seeing how people get on with their life in different or similar ways. It never stops to amaze me.
How do you keep exploring and learning?
The challenge, at least for me, is never to find stuff I’d love to explore and learn – I think there’s too much worth exploring – but to find the time to dig into stuff that interests me a little deeper. To find the time to learn about issues more thoroughly.
Apart from that, I travel a lot and as I’m at the moment splitting time between finishing my master thesis and working, I probably spend a disproportionate amount of money on it. Staying in youth hostels, collecting Lonely Planets, digging into Wikipedia, using Flickr places, …
Then I’m of course connected to ‘the stream’, the never-ending stream of interesting stuff and bollocks that populates twitter, facebook and Google+ every day.
In addition, I constantly experiment with different aggregators like summify, Google Sparks, StumbleUpon, Trove, Posterous, alerts from Google, the NYT, the Guardian and some newsletters like the one from Springwise and BrainPicker. I also like the Almanac byAlbion London, which is a great weekly collection of long-reads. Of course, no one could ever read all that stuff.
And, last but not least there’s academia and the research I’m conducting for my master thesis. It’s about teens’ use of ‘brand related media’ such as advertising and how it is structured in the context of new communication spaces such as ‘social media’.
When where you amazed last?
When my girlfriend and I arrived in Skopje in the early morning during our Balkans interrail trip. We had no idea where our hostel was, so we asked a lady in front of her house. She got in to wake up her very sleepy husband, but he also couldn’t tell us where it was. So he went back into the house and we were standing in their little garden, waiting while he apparently looked for the address. When he came back, he told us he couldn’t explain the location because it was too far away and complicated. So he took his old Yugo off the backyard and gave us a ride. In the end, he – of course – refused to take at least a small compensation as a thank you (even shot of Rakia) and took off for work.
What is your favourite resource library?
Apart from the web as described above it’s probably the brains of my lovely friends – they’re kind of my mini-TED.
What’s the biggest challenge the digital communications industry is facing right now, and do this lead you to some predictions?
The digital communications industry’s biggest challenge might be in its name. I don’t necessarily believe in ‘digital’ communication as a proper category. While I think there might always be an interesting position for specialists and niche players that focus on a specific area in the field – like, say, using digital technologies for knowledge management in organizations, monitoring companies, digital design specialists, say people focusing on design for the internet of things – I think ‘digital’ communication generalists will have to make massive investments to keep top notch in the craft and knowledge part of the ‘digital’ business. So limiting on ‘digital’ isn’t really limiting. Limiting on ‘digital’ communications leaves out so much of other interesting communication.