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Introduction: 14 Weeks

Introduction: 14 Weeks

In 14 weeks, I took a professional fascination with the leading technologies of the day and turned it into a 17,000-word book to help PR and marketing people like me understand a new way to succeed.


In 14 weeks, I forced myself to understand these technologies deep enough for me to turn heavy-duty concepts into something accurate and easier to comprehend. My eyes have seen many sentence fragments, paragraphs that lead to nowhere, and the actual dots in the screen from staring too much.


I interviewed four very bright and successful people in academia, advertising, public relations and technology; Natasha Kennedy of Fleishman-Hillard, Fiona McArthur of adam&eveDDB, Vidya Narayanan of Oxford University, and Adam Wisnewski, founder of EX3 Labs. Many thanks to them for insightful answers and putting up with me.


But I did it, and it’s pretty good. Not going to cop some false modesty. I’m pretty proud of myself, and I should be.


So…who is this book for? This is for anyone with a willingness to act on interests in staggeringly big new things. Then it’s for people who want to be that person trying to integrate something new into their lives or career. Finally, it’s for the untold number of communicators in PR, marketing and advertising who keep fighting the smart fight to move hearts and minds through telling better stories in the medium of the times.


AI will require a radical change in thinking for PR and marketing types. First, they’re going to have to get past the idea that “a computer is coming for my job.” People should start to worry when AI can console a client, yell at a vendor, conceptualize a creative theme, review analytics reports AND do a new business presentation in one day. When they can do that, worry.


Next, they’re going to have to embrace numbers and technical concepts. As Natasha Kennedy of Fleishman-Hillard said, “they need to get past it.” Numbers don’t mean leaving creativity behind, because these numbers can lead to vital information on customer emotion and context.


Virtual, augmented and mixed realities are new ways to tell timeless stories. Although they’ve been written about for decades, these are the days when these visual technologies finally begin to take off. The cost of computing has dropped, the underlying hardware is of better quality and cheaper. Gaming is ready to really enter the game, waiting for the market to sort itself. The Sony PlayStationVR and Oculus Go are two use cases pointing to VR as the leader; but if Apple introduces a powerful and easy to use pair of augmented reality glasses, gaming may push everyone to that option. 5G cellular data speeds loom in the background of this realignment, promising more data moving at faster speeds. This means ultra-realistic video and images, perfect for building new worlds no matter headsets or glasses.


Computational propaganda is a different story. Every product has its nadir, and the public internet is no different. Ten years ago,the tools we used to reconnect with friends, recruit volunteers, and generate community support are now being used for purposes we don’t teach our children to follow. We were too busy enjoying the actual good things that the internet and early social media brought us that we didn’t notice when the propagandists came in. The Russians, Chinese, Alt-right and American Nazis are using the tools to organize, coordinate and spread their messages of division and upheaval.


But before I give away more of what’s to come, let me close this intro with some wisdom from Fiona McArthur, mentioned above. To me, it’s the mindset needed to enjoy the ups and downs of a career telling stories:


“Be commercial

Be relevant

Be intelligent”


And away we go.


–Sebastian James


April 9, 2021


Artificial Intelligence, Digital Strategy, Disinformation, Extended Reality


Artificial Intelligence, Augmented Reality, Digital Strategy, Extended Reality, Introduction, Mixed Reality, Virtual Reality