Last updated September 6th 2014
Enon Landenberg (@enonl) shows up in a shirt that says, “Guns don’t kill people. Fathers with daughters do.” Not to mention a side-worn baseball cap and a pair of Google glasses. He sees a projector and he’s startled. “You could make a lot of money selling that,” he says, as if it’s an antique. And, well, at the pace we’re going, it is. Enon is the CEO of Infinity AR, an augmented reality company, so he knows what’s old and what’s new and that’s exactly what he came to speak about. And he’s a character, so I’m listening.
Enon started using the Internet when the Internet started, in the days with AOL ruled and Yahoo was a close second. He started a digital marketing company called e-dologic that was the first ever acquired by Publicis. This was back in 1999. He was with Publicis for over 10 years first as it’s Chief Innovation Officer and then, realizing what his job really meant, as its Chief Interaction Officer. “That’s what I was doing. Interacting between the brand and the consumers.”
It was a great gig until he realized that communication is “dying. Agencies are ignoring it because they want money. Why would they change when a client is still paying them big bucks?” So he left Publicis.
But Enon rewinds, not just to his science fiction start in augmented reality, but to the start of mass communication and marketing. What was the first-ever advertising campaign? “It was the Christian campaign for God.” What was the first-ever advertisements? Something like the Sistine Chapel. Visitors would go back to their villages and do some serious word-of-mouth. What was the first book? The Bible? Nowadays, the second? The IKEA catalog, but nevermind.
The first printed newspaper was published later in 17th century Germany and was special because it was updated daily. Unlike a book, it could change. In late, late 19th century radio was a sea change in the way content was consumed. What ultimately got the radio going was the car and Motorola worked day-and-night to connect the two with a transistor. Tesla can be thanked for that technology, but “by the time he was awarded a Nobel Prize, he was too old to receive it… and too dead.”
In 1928, the TV was invented and later popularized by Hitler’s 1936 showing of the Olympics. But more importantly, TV changed the home. The pace of communication innovation sped along. The computer in 1981, Internet in 1991, a visual Internet in 1995, and in 1998 Enon founded e-dologic. Just like that.
“What makes the Internet different is that it’s lean-forward. You’re not falling asleep on a couch. You’re engaged. What also makes it different is that you’re alone.” And that’s paved the way for a new kind of Internet in the last 3 years. “A revolution has started to happen. Today, 75% of the content we consume is personalized to us.” “On Facebook, the only common feature is the logo. Otherwise, it’s based on algorithms.”
“Suddenly, content doesn’t have the distribution it used to have.” Enon gives the example of the favorites or bookmarks feature on most browsers. Before, people used them; now, favorites are built into the most-used websites. “Smartphones will pass through the same revolution. Right now, everybody has 76 applications on their phone. But soon, the way we consume information on our phone won’t be through standalone apps. All the chains and pipes are going to be killed.”
“Before, marketers treated consumers as eyeballs. Now, they treat them as voices… If you give consumers something to talk about, they’ll talk about it. It’s no longer 2010, which Enon says was defined by the “wisdom of the crowd.” 2014 was the year of the “wisdom of the flock,” meaning that consumers will rally around specific beliefs and messaging rather than move altogether.
BONG BONG BONG BONG BONG BONG BONG BONG BONG BONG
— Big Ben (@big_ben_clock) March 19, 2014
So what engages consumers? Enon has some unusual ideas, but the main thrust of them is that the traditional path to engagement is “bullshit.” “People don’t follow deep content. What makes people so addicted to reality television is that they want to rest. They don’t want to think.” Back in 2012, Enon gave a Ted talk on the subject, highlighting for example the Twitter handle @big_ben_clock that has 438,000 followers thanks to doing nothing but tweeting hourly bongs alongside the real Big Ben.
Anyway, Enon has switched to pioneering augmented reality. His company, Infinity AR, is building a pair of glasses that integrates a person’s every device with facial, voice, and mood recognition to create a high-tech, interactive experience. It’s based on Google and Meta’s SDKs and it’s the future, now. Or at least it will be in the next couple months when they release their alpha version.
This reminds me of something and I decide to ask Enon a stupid question. What did he think of the movie, Her, a sci-fi flick based on a literary geek falling in love with his artificially intelligent OS? He tells me a story about how the difference between the 1902 French film, “The Trip to the Moon” and Apollo 11’s landing was 67 years, and the difference between the 2002 movie “Minority Report” and the new phones that can swipe without touching was 12 years, and how iPhone and Samsung are now iterating every 8-10 months. “The intervals keep getting shorter. ‘Her’ is only a few years away.” Maybe with some help from Enon it is.