Digital Strategist
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Content Formats to Look Out For

February 7, 2017   -   0 comments   -  

Content drives awareness and storytelling in the digital space, and with new content formats come more diverse options for engaging the public. As different formats gain traction, it is imperative to adapt and to try to stay ahead of the game, perhaps even by starting to test some of them. Regardless, it is worthwhile to understand what is happening so that you can better strategize the direction of your digital presence and storytelling.

With this in mind, I would like to examine some of the content trends to look out for in 2017. There are five content formats that will likely be popping up across social media and beyond.

I will be exploring these formats in detail in my upcoming posts, but I wanted to begin with an introduction to each.

Video

We know what video is, but we are going to see it used in broader contexts this year. We will also see new platforms and technologies for creating better video content.

Why is it going to be big in 2017?
Video has two key things behind its growth: consumer behavior and platform development.

We already consume a lot of video content, and it performs really well. For example, YouTube has reported that mobile video consumption increases by 100% each year. Moreover, that increased consumption affects consumer habits — 90% of viewers say that seeing a video about a product helps their decision-making process.

Platforms, particularly the big ones like Facebook, continue to develop new features and functions to enhance user experience and to make it easier to produce and share content. Facebook Live rolled out for the general public last year, and it will continue to grow massively this year. Facebook Live allows users to broadcast live videos while viewers comment in real time. Facebook also has an app that enables devices such as drones and professional video cameras to access the platform.

Additionally, online news services are — and will be — focusing almost exclusively on video. For example, NowThis News is a video-based news service designed specifically for mobile devices. Its website merely offers links to the various social media platforms that NowThis News serves. Of course, there’s also an app. Similarly, AJ+ produces content designed for social media and mobile devices.

Related articles
“The future of online news video”
“50 must-know stats about video marketing in 2016”

Audio

With the ongoing growth of podcasting, similar audio-based platforms will emerge and take off this year. For example, Facebook recently launched a new feature, Live Audio, that taps into the popularity of podcasting and audio content, and even Spotify stepped up its game by adding a lot of non-musical audio content for its users to stream.

Soundcloud is also a great example of an audio hosting platform, where anyone can share content and connect with fans worldwide. It is the equivalent of YouTube for audio formats.

Why is it going to be big in 2017?
As with video, there are two key aspects of audio that are facilitating its growth: ease of access and content quality.

Audio formats are easy to access and, because there is no visual component, can be listened to while driving, walking, or waiting. Often, audio can be stored locally to a device, so no Wi-Fi is needed. Additionally, there is a lot of quality audio content already available. This attracts and keeps listeners who want — and expect — more of the same.

Related articles
“Podcasting: fact sheet”
“The 5 key 2016 podcast statistics”
“Facebook Live Audio makes talk radio social, starting with the BBC”

Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality, and Mixed Reality

Although these three terms are used interchangeably, there are differences between them.

Virtual reality (VR) requires users to wear a device on their head so that they can engage in an immersive experience that becomes their reality — a reality they can interact with.

Augmented reality (AR) is just what it sounds like — the real world but augmented with digital information. Pokémon Go is a prime example of AR. In this game, a “layer” appears on top of what your smartphone lens captures, and players interact with this layer. Some AR formats require users to wear a device, as with VR.

Mixed reality (MR) combines aspects of VR and AR. It allows users to see the real world but with virtual elements connected to reality.

Why is it going to be big in 2017?
These media are being developed thanks in part to funding from large tech companies. In turn, this is helping to drive the public’s interest in these evolving technologies, which have the potential to change how we consume and experience content. For example, the New York Times has developed its own VR app that allows users to experience events and stories. Rather than merely reading a story or watching a video, users can now immerse themselves into a different world — a world in which almost anything is possible.

Despite the hype, there are several challenges that need to be overcome, particularly with VR and AR. Consumers still have limited access to VR and AR because they require a device. Additionally, wearing a device for an extended period (e.g. more than 15 minutes) can cause motion sickness. Regardless of the format, there is still a dearth of quality content. It is hoped that ongoing investment can address this last issue and provide storytellers with the tools they need to create lasting and meaningful content.

Related articles
“What are the differences among virtual, augmented, and mixed reality?”
“World of Digital: The future of virtual & augmented reality”
“Virtual, augmented and mixed reality are the 4th wave”

Chatbots

Unlike other emerging formats, chatbots involve a different type of content: automated content. They provide opportunities for companies to reuse existing text-based content and some multimedia content, which can be built into the bot, on existing messaging platforms. Also, some bots, such as those run through Facebook Messenger or WeChat, can be setup to enable customers to make purchases.

Why is it going to be big in 2017?
Chatbots are part of trend toward the privatization of social media. They allow individuals to interact one-on-one with brands and companies without the public element traditionally associated with social media. With people spending more time on messaging platforms, chatbots are likely to become a greater presence in our online lives. They provide greater personalization for customers while addressing issues of scalability and the expectation for quick responses to enquiries.

Related article
“The complete beginner’s guide to chatbots”

Stickers, Filters, and GIFs

Stickers, filters, and GIFs add graphic and animated visuals to communications. For example, Bitmoji features elements of gamification in that it allows images and animation to interact during conversations. Also, by enabling users to tell a visual story, these formats can communicate greater emotional nuance than a similarly short text-based message.

Currently, stickers, filters, and GIFs are used primarily in private conversations, in both personal and professional contexts. As such, companies will need to develop a better understanding of these content formats, as well as the capability to use them. Otherwise, they may find themselves communicating in a different language than their customers.

Why is it going to be big in 2017?
Already huge in Asia, stickers and filters — as well as GIFs — will continue to grow in popularity in the rest of the world thanks in part to Snapchat and LINE. Within Snapchat, stickers and filters are already popular, but they are also evolving. As more people use them in this arena, they will start to appear elsewhere, and they will become more sophisticated — as will user expectations. The audience may come to expect stickers, filters, and GIFs as part of general communications. Additionally, there is an opportunity for monetization, particularly with stickers, through branding and merchandizing.

Related articles
“The emoji is the birth of a new type of language (no joke)”
“How journalists use Snapchat’s pencil stickers and filters to tell better stories”
“GIFs will rule the world”

Throughout this year, I will further examine each of these formats and explore how they are evolving and affecting how we communicate and create great stories.

What’s Up with Private Messaging and How It Is Affecting Your Life

October 19, 2016   -   0 comments   -  

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It’s time for yet another post in my series on Private Messaging. If you missed the previous one, Does the Future of Social Media Involve Becoming More Private, you can check it out here.

I would like to spend some time talking about messaging platforms and what makes them a “symbol” for the change we are seeing to more private means of communicating via social media. To me, three platforms seem to dominate this space radically: WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and Wechat. Together they are by far the world’s most used messaging platforms, with over one billion people using them regularly! I believe that if we keep an eye on what these platforms are doing, this will give us an indication as to where we are headed in terms of private messaging and social media.

The first thing to note is that as of now, these platforms are completely free, with no subscription fees and no third-party ads. This is great from a private user perspective, but the question is how long will this last? And how will these popular messaging platforms manage to generate revenue in the future? In a statement put out earlier this year, WhatsApp said:

“Starting this year, we will test tools that allow you to use WhatsApp to communicate with businesses and organizations that you want to hear from. That could mean communicating with your bank about whether a recent transaction was fraudulent, or with an airline about a delayed flight. We all get these messages elsewhere today – through text messages and phone calls – so we want to test new tools to make this easier to do on WhatsApp, while still giving you an experience without third-party ads and spam.”

The use of messaging platforms has extended far beyond plain text messages and the sharing of gifs. When I was at the RISE Conference in Hong Kong earlier this year, my eyes were opened to the Chinese messaging platform, WeChat, which is used by more than 800 million people. It is technically very advanced. Users can do everything from pay bills to buy movie tickets to order taxies all within the app itself.

Unfortunately these functions are only available in China at this time. But looking at the statement from WhatsApp above, the brains behind this are probably working really hard to roll similar features out soon, so they can keep up with the competition. On the other hand, the more functions that are added, and the more data-intensive inquiries we see, more moderation and scalability will be needed.

Some of the answers to these features, could be found within third-party chat bots and conversational interfaces. And this area has just started to move into the commercial world, with Facebook investing heavily and new bots being rolled out everyday. Recently Duolingo rolled out a chat bot to help you even further when it comes to learn a new language. Try it out!

You may be wondering what chat bots and conversational interfaces have to do with you? Well, consider these trends, driven by messaging platforms, that are becoming more present each and every day:

  1. Your phone number is becoming obsolete. SMS and text messaging came about when flip phones were introduced. Now that we carry highly advanced smartphones in our pockets, we can do so much more than text. Just as flip phones are disappearing, so are old ways of communicating. Video and voice calls can be made through messaging apps, and you can send all types of content (gifs, jpegs, pdfs, voice memos, etc.) to others without even needing to know their phone numbers!
  2. Messaging platforms allow us one place to do everything. No longer will you need to download four or five different apps, when you can keep everything organized in one place. In addition, messaging platforms allow for threaded, private communication between interested parties–no need to switch to text messaging or phone calls or email. This trend may be a huge challenge for the app development business, because apps may not even be needed in the future.
  3. I believe that when we communicate with bots, our language changes, as well as our skill sets. Bots don’t understand small talk, but rather communicate well with commands. Our language will probably evolve into a bot-lingo in order to ensure efficiency.

As messaging platforms become more prevalent in our lives, it looks as if we will all be spending more time messaging with bots in the near future. And as it looks now, it will be fun. Here are more bots you can try out, but keep in mind, they’re not perfect yet and there’s still a lot to learn when it comes to conversational interfaces.

 

Does the Digital Nomadic Lifestyle Give Us Clues About the Future of Work?

September 26, 2016   -   0 comments   -  

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It really shouldn’t be a surprise that technology is impacting the way we work, where we work, the hours we work, and who we work with. In fact, I’ve just returned from a three week trip through Africa, which seamlessly blended both work and play.

When it comes to my “workday”, I never distinguish whether I am working or playing. Being a digital nomad allows me this luxury, with plenty of time to do what I want, when I want. There is no boundary between my work life and my non-work life. Some days I wake up and go scuba diving in the morning, then check into my virtual office and work for a few highly-focused hours. Other days, I grab a cup of coffee and work into the afternoon, then set off for an adventure in whatever country I am visiting.

Thankfully, technology and forward-thinking clients have afforded me this lifestyle. I “meet” with people all around the world via Skype or Zoom, accomplishing projects as if we were sitting together in the same space. The Cloud offers me the ability to access all my necessary files and projects, as well as manage tasks remotely. And social media has helped me stay connected–both publically and privately. I have learned to be more time-efficient when I’m working, mainly because I have plenty of non-work time to reflect on the things that need to get done. This reflection time allows me to problem solve and strategize, so that when I return back to work, I am super-charged and ready to go. It’s this balance of work and play, reflection and action that keep me happy and productive.

You might be wondering if it takes a special kind of person to be a successful digital nomad? I believe there are certain skills that can be learned. These skills give us many clues about what is needed to work efficiently and meet the demands of the future:

  • You must be willing to be much more transparent in the way you work, how you do things, and how you think.
  • You must be able to receive feedback and be open to doing things in new ways. Technology is a great tool, but it often comes with many learning curves.
  • You must be excellent at communicating and connecting with others across a variety of platforms and cultures and borders. Some days I’m having conversations with clients and colleagues in email, SnapChat, and Facebook Messenger.
  • You must be able to manage your freedom on a global level. This means you are mindful of your time and possess self-discipline to stay on track. You also need to be able to keep up with deadlines and appointments in various time zones.

As we look to the future of work, Harvard Business Review believes that work will fall into one of four categories.

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Each of these quadrants focuses on a different type of organization and the variety of ways organizations approach work, talent, and strategy.

  1. In the Current State, organizations rely on full-time employment and work is defined by a specific time and place, such as teaching or nursing home care. This work doesn’t require people to be on the Cloud.
  2. In the Today, But Turbo-Charged category, organizations embrace the evolving technology, but workplace arrangements follow the traditional model. Work relationships are supported by better and faster technology, and employees might work remotely. A familiar example would be call centers–where workers are using a variety of technology to manage the work, but centers may be stationed around the world, regardless of where the company is located.
  3. In the Work Reimagined category, new employment models emerge and include freelancing, project work, part-time work, and contract work. New recruitment techniques have evolved and organizations are using social media to track and communicate with present and future employees. Upwork, a freelance platform, is a great example of this category (and a platform I use myself).
  4. In the Uber Empowered category, the use of technology is advanced, and workers have more democratic arrangements. Workers are using Cloud-based technologies, as well as artificial intelligence to complete their projects and assignments. IBMs Open Talent Marketplace is an example that allows managers the ability to break large projects into smaller projects, find the right person to complete each piece (via a shared platform), form communities around the work, and track project status.

As you begin to think about your work future, it’s important to ask yourself a few pointed questions:

  • What will your workplace look like in five years (or even less)?
  • What role is technology playing in your workplace and how can your organization embrace it?
  • What skills will be in demand?
  • How will you get paid, and how is value measured?

The work ecosystem is constantly evolving, and you have more choices now than ever before in terms of how you’d like to work, where you’d like to work, and when you’d like to work. As you prepare for the future, take time to reflect on your work and lifestyle goals, so you can put together the perfect “workplace” for you.

 

Does the Future of Social Media Involve Becoming More Private?

August 15, 2016   -   2 comments   -  

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If you ask me this directly, I’m going to say “yes”!

Did you know that the time spend on the news feed on social platforms has decreased, but the time spent onprivate messaging platforms has increased? If you think about this too quickly, you might be inclined to do a double-take. But it’s true–there’s been a big shift in the way people are communicating online and I believe this shift will have a huge impact on the way we will work with social media in the future.

To make it clear, I think that one of the most interesting digital trends right now is private messaging. People are turning their attention to communicating much more privately, rather than broadcasting their messages across public social media feeds. Platforms such as WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and WeChat have all seen significant growth in users. On the other side these platforms are also evolving into complex platforms that handles money transfers, chat bots, intelligent geolocation features and this is only the beginning of it.

Private messaging platforms are expanding like never before. The largest services now have hundreds of millions of active users each month. These messaging platforms are being used for more than private text-based messages. People are using them to send videos, pictures, GIFs, and transfer money.  The trend is definitely swinging towards more intimate conversations through the use of private media. Take a minute to think about how you are using private messaging. How many meetings and coffee arrangements have you arranged lately through a private messaging platform?

This switch in communication is a challenge that brands need to begin thinking about as they plan their digital strategies. Here are some questions to consider:

  • How can brands remain relevant when their audiences want to go online and engage in private conversations with family and friends?
  • What are they many facets of private messaging, and how can brands use them to their advantage?
  • Private messaging has always been invitation-based. How can brands be invited into these conversations?
  • What happens when we all start communicating with chat bots?

I believe that brands can prepare for this shift by creatively thinking about how their consumers receive information. For example, brands know that they basically have to “pay to play” for their content to be seen on Facebook. The rise of Facebook ads, as well as vast amounts of data, has revealed that the more brands pay for ad space, the more people will see their content. If public streams of content, like Facebook ads, become irrelevant to large amounts of consumers, how can brands still get their messaging to focused groups of people?

The answer may be found in a simple shift to more private means of communicating and engaging a group around a specific cause or topic. This will require a mindset shift for many companies as they look deeper into what their consumers really care about, and what motivates their consumers, outside of the products and services offered.

One thing is for certain: Technology and digital behavior both evolve very quickly and it is becoming more private. As a digital strategist, I look for trends in behavior before making predictions about the future of which I have no control. The use of private messaging platforms are definitely shaping the digital tools we’ll be using as we look 2 to 3 years into the future. I look forward to following this trend as it develops and learning how to strategize around it now–and in the future.

This post is the first in a series of many posts that will deal with this area of private messaging. If you want to look further into this topic I can also recommend these articles:

Mark Schaefer: Are you ready for the mega-shift from social media to private media?
Business Insider: Messaging apps are now bigger than social networks

 

I’m Working on My Global Network!

August 3, 2016   -   1 comment   -  

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Right from the beach of course!

A few weeks ago I returned from a three week business retreat, Project Getaway, in Mauritius. If you are not sure where Mauritius is - it’s an island located off the coast of East Africa. This was an enlightening experience and gave me much more inspiration than I’m even capable of putting down in words. But I am going to try!

On a dark and cold winter day a friend of mine recommended Project Getaway to me and I decided to submit the application, not really knowing what to expect. After a Skype call with the Project Getaway team it all grew on me and when I recieved the email that I had been accepted, there was no looking back.

My business goal has for a long time been to become a leading digital strategist on an international level. And one of the reasons I became interested in attending the Project Getaway experience is because I have a strong desire to build and strengthen my global network. And luckily the participants at Project Getaway came from near and far: Canada, United States, Australia, Mauritius, Brazil, and Germany.

The greatest take-away from this business retreat and co-working experience was that I had the opportunity to learn from 15 other participants whose work varied vastly from my own. Discussions took place on a daily basis that included insight from developers, designers, social media consultants, film producers, and authors. It was fascinating to talk about topics in business and hear a wide variety of viewpoints and learn from these experts, most of which rarely agreed with me – what a privilege!

Of course, I added to the discussion and kept everyone abreast of what is happening in the world of digital strategy. One of my “missions” as a digital strategist is to show the complexity of digital and what it takes to develop a great digital strategy. There’s never a quick fix and it’s hard work, just like everything else! I was also able to work on my own business, understand other viewpoints, engage in problem solving, create awesome stuff, make friends, and make mistakes. The best part about of being stuck on an island with these amazing people was that we could quickly “fix” something by pulling from the expertise and talents of others.

If you are an entrepreneur or just an adventurous person who wants to grow your business, I’m encouraging you to invest in your business, take some time away, and go somewhere new. Spend time with people you don’t know and don’t agree with. Take time to reflect, gather your thoughts, and surround yourself with people who have ideas and who challenge your thoughts. It’s important that you leave your desk and your comfort zone – so you can actually grow your global network. That was what I did!

There are many business retreats and digital nomad experiences available around the world. Ask your existing network for recommendations and do some “Googling”. Your business will thank you for it, I promise!

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You can see more pictures on Flickr

Follow along on Instagram @stinemolgaard  and Snapchat @stinesadventure

Digital Communication Awards 2016 – want to join?

June 3, 2016   -   0 comments   -  
Stine

This year I’m joining the jury of the 2016 Digital Communication Awards, taking place in Berlin on September 29th. For me, being a jury member is a true privilege and a unique opportunity to take a deep dive into a myriad of amazing digital projects. I’m looking forward to getting carried away by exemplary strategic thinking, high levels of innovation and creative ways of using today’s technology!

I think there’s a lot to be learned from all the hard work on show across the digital comms world and these Awards allow us to get together and celebrate our achievements. But Awards events tend to focus only on glory and gold. Without a doubt success teaches us many things, but to me failure also plays an important role in our journeys as innovators and I’m particularly curious to know how teams deal with this reality. Let’s not forget failure – it’s still something we should share and learn from. What went wrong and how quickly was the team able to fix it. This kind of thinking is widely applied in the startup scene – because there it’s crucial to fail fast, get back on your feet and apply your learnings to succeed the next time. This approach should also be invaluable in shaping our thinking in the digital space.

The Digital Communication Awards are still accepting submissions, so if you’ve been involved in a digital project that shows unique and forward-looking strategy, creativity and efficiency, send it over! I can’t wait to learn from your successes – as well as from how you overcame those obstacles that cropped up along the way.


“I very much believe in engagement, interaction and collaboration when it comes to digital communication. I’m personally looking forward to seeing true examples of people using these tools alongside today’s technology to innovate and inspire.”

 

Stine By Southwest

March 7, 2016   -   0 comments   -  

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Photo by Ed Schipul

There’s a first time for everything and for me this is my very first SXSW Interaction conference! This, by default also means I’m super excited and perhaps a little nervous too. While trying to cope with all this excitement, I’ve spend some time to prepare accordingly and going through the program, workshops, endless schedules, the magazine, looong list of parties and things of what not. So, here’s a little snap shot of what’s on my list for now and hopefully I might have done some of the hard work for you!

New World of Photography and Visual Storytelling
To me the art of visualising and being creative around content creation is a very important skill – get something that catches that short attention span! I’ve btw also followed Joel Sartore on Instagram for a while and he’ll be presenting at this event.

Celebrate the Process of Getting Things Done!
I’ve signed up to this just be reading the headline! I’m a big fan of getting shit done, think big, fail fast and move on. Looking forward to hear some of Becky Simpson’s learnings here. 

LEGO Group and Cartoon Network, Building Future Fans
I believe there’s a lot to be learned from this industry, and hopefully something can be learned from this keynote about telling stories! 

Good Charts: Making Smarter Data Visualisations
Of course data needs to play and important role at an event like this. Discussing the next level within this space is obviously of interest for a lot of people, and then we all ask our selves how can we communicate our data and our findings in an effective and impact full manner.

Less Is More: Curated Consumption
I’m a huge fan of curation and some times I think this is an overlooked tactic, however I believe it’s in the mix of both creatively created and curated content that great stuff happens online.

However I keep coming back to the thought – how can I make sure I’ll get as much inspiration I’m dreaming of? How can I be sure not to miss out on too much great stuff, and how can I meet the coolest and funniest people? I’m still working on it, but I’ll hope it all make sense as soon as I land in Austin. See you at SXSW

Here’s my full schedule

Looking for an outstanding adventure?

January 13, 2016   -   0 comments   -  
I would suggest you look into Angkor Wat in Cambodia…! If you haven’t yet been to Siam Riep in Cambodia, I highly recommend you go there and spend a couple of days at the mesmerising temple complex.The history of this landmark is long and complex, and to me it was actually fine to go discover it without too much studying on beforehand. Well, I mean the more prepared you can be the better, but it won’t prevent the adventurous feeling from kicking in. However a lot of literature, guide books, and online resources can easily be found and looked into before entering the temples: Here are some resources that I’ve used:

Wikipedia: Angkor Wat
BBC Article: Beyond Angkor: How lasers revealed a lost city
National Geographic: Divining Angkor

In particular I was amazed by the high level of details in every single stone of all the temples – standing and looking at something from a distance – and suddenly faces would appear in front of our eyes. And so does the wired discoveries continues through out the whole visit.Be aware that this is one of the most visited attractions in Combadia, and crowds of tourists can be very hard to avoid.

Unfortunalty I had my camera stolen and not many of my own pictures remain from here the quality is neither very good, but here are some:

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I’ll recommend you go check out Steve McCurry and his amazing collection from the temples.

Maldives – From a Backpacker’s Perspective

January 2, 2016   -   0 comments   -  

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On the first page of Lonely Planet Maldives, it says: “Fully independent travellers are a rare species but, with good planning and some decent financial lubrication this is an equally possible way to travel!”. Oh well, that sounds doable – and in many ways, it was. Don’t let the five-star resort reputation put you off – an authentic experience is certainly possible on the islands by staying with local families or at guesthouses. So here are some learnings from our independent Maldives adventure:

Remember to plan ahead
We discovered that you can fly from Colombo Airport in Sri Lanka to Male, the Maldivian capital, from around 120 USD, with the flight taking about an 1 hour and 20 min. But don’t arrive on Fridays! There is no public transportation, most things are closed and you’ll be stuck in the city for the day. (NB Resorts aren’t closed on Fridays, but if you are looking to stay in one of those, this post isn’t relevant for you anyway). Staying a night in Male is not a bad thing, you just need to be prepared to do so and ready to take advantage of your time. One of the most remarkable things in Male is the fish market and surrounding food stalls. The smell, the sound and the vibrations from the crowds of people selling and buying is a fantastic introduction to the staple industry of the islands.

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Local transportation, local sights, local culture
Transferring from Male to one of the amazing islands can be expensive and take a long time. I recommend looking out for the local ferry – a so-called Dhoni. At around 20 USD instead of 500-800 USD for a private speed boat, it’s the most economical way to get around. The good thing about the public ferry is the possibility to see much more of the Maldives and enjoy the beautiful islands and the sea at the same time.

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When leaving the safe world of the resorts where Western behaviours are the norm, you have to keep in mind that staying on a local island involves respecting the strict Muslim code of conduct. This means that female travellers should swim fully covered, unless on one of the deserted islands, and be aware of male attention and approaches. Alcohol is not allowed outside of the resorts, giving you the opportunity to enjoy your evenings in other ways. Don’t try to buy anything on the black market – you’ll most likely be fooled!

You won’t find much wifi either, but buying a local sim card can help you a little. To our great surprise, they had a shop for this on the island we stayed at!

Things to do in the Maldives
Most activities on the islands revolve around the sea. My favourite thing was to simply admire the azure blue ocean and the magic white sand. Go for a stroll and collect beautiful seashells; the shores are full of great discoveries. Just remember you’re not allowed to bring them home with you.

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Go diving or snorkelling, we did both. Since the wildlife in the sea is so rich, we enjoyed both activities equally and saw plenty of corals, turtles, rays etc. We also enjoyed a night snorkelling trip. It was actually my first time ever out in thesea swimming at night, it was scary in many ways! The sea life changes dramatically; some corals open up, fish go hunting and the plankton is magically glowing in the dark.

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Bring your camera: there are amazing opportunities for great outdoor photography on the small islands and by the beaches. Equally if you have a GoPro or any other underwater camera, you can capture magical footage under the surface too. See some of my shoots here

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Simple and tasty food
The local food is amazing, and staying in a village gives you a unique opportunity to taste great home-cooked food.

The world famous Maldivian tuna is an experience in itself and appears frequently in the native dishes. My personal favourite dish was the breakfast called “mas hunk” which consists of fish, rice, coconut, and onions. Simple and yet very tasty due to the freshness of the fish.

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Don’t be a tourist – be a traveller!
When I was travelling in 2014 I met another backpacker and I remember discussing with them how important it was to stay a traveller and not become a tourist! To me, the Maldives is a great example of this; a tourist would do the obvious, expensive and easy thing – go straight to a resort. A traveller will take the challenge defined by Lonely Planet above and try somewhere different and that I can fully recommend – just keep in mind that open minds lead to open doors and exploring is not supposed to be too easy!

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See a collection of my pictures from Maldives here

Tech Conferences in 2016

November 21, 2015   -   0 comments   -  

pablo

While reflecting on all the great input from the Web Summit 2015 in Dublin, I sort of felt that 2016 should be my year of conferences ( and travels).  So I’ve looked around and I found a few conferences around the world that I want to look out for next year – and I’ve already have tickets for a few of them. YAY!

SXSW Interactive in US – Austin
South By Southwest is probably the ultimate tech conference to visit. I’ve never been there yet, but I just purchased my Interactive Badge and my flight to Texas. This year SXSW Interactive is taking place from the 11th to 15th of March 2016, can’t wait to go.

Collision in US – New Orleans
Collision is part of the “Web Summit Family” and is dealing with the tech/ start up world with a focused on the American market. It’s taking place 26th to 28th of April 2016. Here I’m also planning to go, and as a bonus the famous Jazz Festival in New Orleans is happening at the same time:  #win

Rise in Hong Kong
Here the team from the Web Summit is also behind this conference, again to focus on the Asian tech industry. I have never been to this part of the world for a tech conference, but I’m very curious to explore this. It’s happening from 31st of May to 2nd of June 2016.

Re:Publica in Germany – Berlin
I’ve visited this conference back in 2013 and it still remains as one of my favourite conferences – I’ve blogged about it back then – great stuff was going on in 2013. I hope I can make it to Berlin in 2016 again.

The Next Web in Holland – Amsterdam
Not so much information is out there yet, but I don’t think TNW will disappoint this time either. TNW is going down in Amsterdam on the 26th – 27th of May 2016, keep an eye out for further announcements.

Web Summit in Portugal – Lisbon
Since the Web Summit in 2015 inspired me to write this blog post, I’m definitely considering going to Lisbon in November and get a good dose of inspiration and hang out with great people. I guess more information will be available later in 2016.  

These tech conferences listed above are only the ones I’m considering attending. While researching I found two great lists of conferences one covering Q1 2016 and one with more than 160 digital conferences listed around the world. And I’m pretty sure there are many more out there. Actually it’s interesting to see how big and popular these conferences have become within recent years. I’m looking forward to check out a few of them in 2016.

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