Slides: A European View on Web 2.0


Gregor’s article in Techcrunch “Web 2.0 in Germany: Copy/Paste Innovation or more?” pushed me to finally publish the slides from my presentation at the Web2open during the Web 2.0 Expo in San Francisco.

[If your feedreader does not display the embedded flash presentation, click here to see the slides]

As it was a 45 minute presentation, these are of course just some ideas to toss around.
I would love to talk about questions you might have on this. I am thinking about changing the presentation to a kind of little handbook, so additions are of course welcomed as well (which is why I have not published it before because I wanted to edit it first.)

Some side comments
I should have read my presentation and thought about it because then I would have known that only very few Americans would show up at the presentation and I got a mostly international audience. ;) But I had some very very nice talks afterwards which totally made up for it. ;)

Readers of my blog already know my passion in talking about why you should take users / customers outside of your own market seriously. In this special posting, I again take the point of looking at the US market versus me living in Europe. Reading blogs from around the world, listening to podcast, shopping, making conversations as well as work online with customers throughout the world.

Before the internet, that was complicated. But today, in a connected world it is not. While I sit in Lübeck, Germany, nearly 3/4 of my regular readers come from the States. If you trust Wikipedia and some reports, you will find that the European Union has over 300 million people who speak English as a second language. Connect them to the internet and they have an interest as well going online shopping etc etc.

But very often “we” get rejected – based on the fact that we are no US citizens or we do not live in the states.

When companies, especially in the US, build their services they forget about the market which is outside of the US as in “we do not care”. And if they care, they say next “but it is so expensive and we never could go to every country in the world and adapt, which is why we stay in the US.” Which of course is bullshit.

Yes, a total localisation of software and products is costly and takes a lot of time, but there are a lot of steps between the 0 and 1. Many times it is about the small details and the little things which you can take care of without any problem.

The presentation is intented to give you some ideas on this as well as some numbers.

What I have not done into the presentation are examples like the monolingual problem. If you speak more than one language (and believe me, many Europeans do not just speak mother tongue and English) you do not care that Technorati allows you to SELECT a language. You want all results in all language you understand – a small but important difference.

And just because I come from an IP address in Germany does not mean I want to have everything in German – most translations are so lousy that I rather stay with English. There are already so many information you can gather through different ways so it does not need to be so obvious what you are doing or trying to do when adapting to the local markets, and as I said there are big steps and small steps.

Coming back to Gregor’s article about the copycats – if you think of them only as copycats, you are mistaken. That is one of the biggest misconceptions, it is often believed that when the “real” company comes into the local market, they will naturally win. Which of course is nonsens – because many times the new guy on the block does not understand the smallest thing when trying to enter the market. And fails miserably.

What can you do?
Think about globalisation and going international when you start your services and then decide when to implement which step when. But make sure that you have done all the basic steps needed – or you will have big problems later.

Additional video, very fitting for this purpose:
Loic has made a nice recording of “Ola Ahlvarsson on how to go international”


6 Responses to “Slides: A European View on Web 2.0”

  1. Karin says:

    Nicole, I really liked this post. I get frustrated at my blog provider Typepad for not offering more help sections in German. My English is pretty fluent, but technical language can get very tedious after a while, when you are looking for a solution to complicated problem.

    But I am very thankful for them to provide some German language help, at all. And it really helps, that they have a German corporate blog as well. Although it is a little meager.

    Since I have started publishing at least one weekly English article in my tourism marketing blog, I get much more international readers. I had never really worried about non-German users that came to my blog through Google. But when their numbers kept increasing, it came to me, that it wasn’t fair to keep them out or wondering about my content. After all, who speeks German, right? I have included very little English on the side bars. But I will add more. And I will add an English section to my classical home page.

    In turn, I would love for Typepad to come up with solutions too. For expample bilingual side bar headers, bilingual copy in the comment sections, and so on.

  2. Nicole says:

    Karin you don’t know it yet but you are on your way to the frustrations of blogging in two languages ;) There is a reason why I myself keeep my german and my english blog seperated – it is a bit more stressfull and it does mean separated content and readership (only some of my german readers also read my english blog although they speak english) but for somebody only speaking english it is frustrating to see another content in another language.

    I would love for technology to filter out everything on user side! by user choice. Then I would write one blog alone and let technology do the filtering. I also want to have a working babelfish – so i could just write in german and everybody can read.

    At the same time we do face the other problem – while it is easier to just write in english it is not that fair to our german readers that we only do speak english from time to time …

    Stephanie Booth will host a talk at reboot about it, I had similar conversations with her before and I am sure we will have an interesting exchange about this :)

  3. Karin says:

    ;-) Adoption of my bilingual blog is running pretty smoothly so far. I guess that’s because my audience (tourism industry) is used to a multilingual environment. Looking forward to the panel at reboot.

  4. Hi Nicole – way to go ! – I read through the post and the slideshow and I must say – good work.. thumbs up from here.. and see you at Reboot !

  5. Peter Bihr says:

    Hi Nicole,

    Great presentation! I’ve spent quite a bit of time in the US and other English-speaking countries, and you’re right: Europe (often) is just this rather odd, slightly backward region somewhere out there. Of course, that’s a generalization. But what I found interesting is that mostly, it’s not really that companies or people are trying to cut out Europe or anything. It’s rather that they don’t really have access – access in the sense of understanding what’s happening, simply because from the outside, Europe is hard to understand due to all the reasons you pointed out. So this kind of talk is great, as it may help US companies to get a glimpse into what’s happening here, and maybe leaves them a little less scared. Thanks!


  6. Great Slide Nicole. I wish I was there to see your presentation. Yes, it truly is interesting to see the difference in cultures – especially business culture between North America and Europe. I like to place Canada and the U.K. pretty much at par with one another since really, we feed off the U.K. more than we do the U.S. (believe it or not).

    It would certainly be interesting to sit on one of these discussions with you. I have quite a few things I would like to share with the Europeans in terms of American culture. I am sure the opportunity will arise soon.

    Keep up the good work.