About me

After high school, I studied Technology and Society at the University of Technology in Eindhoven, The Netherlands, where I got my Master of Science degree in “Technology and Society”, specialized in Human-Technology Interaction. When Internet started to get a little bit more well known to the general public, I joined the new Internet Committee of my study association Intermate in 1997, where in the next 2 years we grew an online community coexisting and interacting with the offline community of the study association. My insight was that refreshing the content of the site and thereby keeping the site attractive for visitors was time consuming and therefore best left to the visitors themselves.

A few things we enabled community members to do:

  • change the look and feel of their site (after logging in) by choosing a theme and add widgets (although at that time the term widget was not commonly used)
  • apply for offline activities and see who else had applied
  • upload and share learning tools like book summaries
  • adding polls to the homepage that other visitors could vote on
  • discuss study and non-study related topics in a forum integrated in the homepage
  • see who had his birthday today and in the next 7 days

Apart from that we provided same-day online photo albums for offline activities and organized seasonal activities, like putting your digital shoe at the digital chimney for Santa Claus (as this is a Dutch custom). By engaging with users and inviting them to contribute to the contents of the website via easy-to-use web interfaces, we managed to achieve 15000 page views per month, with a study association of only 200 members. Basically we had created something that would later have been called Social Media.

After university I worked in an online marketing support team of a Global 500 company, where I managed different aspects of a highly automated CLP process (Creation, Localization, Publication process) for product information (Content) used in different online and offline channels. I supported and trained marketeers world wide to use the available entry and review tools, managed a team of 6 service experts, and advised IT teams on how to match functionality to the needs of the users. Since then I have worked as a business development manager in Hong Kong for an IT/Telecommunications company specialized in Unified Communications.

I think I can call myself Internet savvy. However, the interaction between ‘offline’ and ‘online’ intrigues me. People talk online to meet offline. They talk about products offline and seek other opinions online. They share photos and videos online of their offline activities. They sell 2nd hand online what they bought offline, and visa verse. Etc. Etc. How can we use Internet to further enrich people’s offline lives? The contribution of the Internet in our daily lives is still increasing, although I have quite some (high educated) friends that barely interact in social media, because they don’t want to at all or (perhaps more interesting) don’t want to any more. With Internet penetration rates reaching theoretical maximums in some countries, the target audience my friends belong to could very well become increasingly interesting for marketeers.

My own interests also go far beyond ‘online’. I’m interested how people perceive thing and how it changes them (holistically assuming that everything we encounter changes us in one way or another) and how it changes their attitudes and intentions towards certain behavior. Professionally this applies to for example buying behavior or brand promoting behavior. Everything a company and it’s employees do impacts the way consumers respond to the products of the company.

About this blog

This blog is about things I find interesting regarding products, branding, marketing, online presence (netvalue) and corporate culture. In the end everything is connected and everything is part of the bigCircle. Although that by itself is already quite broad, I like to apply this on day to day experiences ranging from situations I found myself in, to messages in the media, to global politics, to trends.

I like to look for trends. At high school I thoroughly hated history. I was convinced it’s a total waste of time to focus on the past. I still do: there is no time like the present. The world changes continuously and it’s great to experience that. However, if you look carefully and especially if you are able to place changes in perspective, you will often see that the changes are not that significant and everything is moving in circles. bigCircles. You would hope that those circles actually end up to be spirals. Upwards preferable. On this blog you will see that this is often, but not always the case. With more awareness of the past the future can be shaped more effectively. As George Santayana stated it “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” (The Life of Reason, Volume 1, 1905).

This blog is written in English, although I’m a native Dutch speaker. Why English? Because I like it as a language to read, and I would like to improve my English writing skills.

I hope you find this blog as interesting as I find it fun to write.

Maarten Swemmer