Ron Wood - Guitar Player - The Rolling Stones....
Image via Wikipedia

I met Ronnie Wood this week. He sat down next to me in a bar and bought me a drink. That ranks him in my book as a very nice chap. And I got a 90 minute window into living life as a globally famous rock star, an insight that confirmed my relief, as if the situation could be otherwise, that I'm not a 'celebrity'...

  • "Is that Ronnie Wood? Ronnie Wood? Rolling Stones? Ronnie Wood?"
  • "I don't believe it... is that really you? We're big fans of......"
  • "I've got all your albums."
  • "Could I have your autograph and a picture with you?"
  • "I don't believe it, is it really you?"

Although Ronnie has had four decades to come up with witty ripostes, I particularly liked his response to the last one... "Actually, I only came fifth in a Ronnie Wood lookalike competition." From what I saw, he has a lovely way in dealing with the countless people that approach him; what the rest of us would call invading our space.

We got talking about my line of work having danced through the ages of music technology, from the vinyl and 8-track of the mid-60s, through compact cassette and CD to mp3. Not unexpectedly, Ronnie mourns the passing of the physical format, but loves the idea that music has returned to the 60s notion that it's all about the music, having been distracted in between times by the huge music marketing machine. The 80s and 90s were all about shifting massive volumes of records and CDs, and gigging was just a distraction.

Once our conversation arrived at the digital age, it turned inevitably to the mobile phone / mobile infotainment device. And Ronnie loves his phone. "F***ing brilliant" to quote him verbatim. So I thought I'd charge his enthusiasm by talking about the latest innovations, and particularly location based services. Interestingly, it had the opposite effect.

I guess of everyone I've spoken with about the opportunities, convenience and dangers of location based services, Ronnie Wood is the best placed of them all to understand what personal privacy truly means. He showed his disgust for the ideas I presented by shoving his phone away from him down the bar. Not quite the phone smashing violent remonstration you might stereotypically expect from a rock star, but demonstrable revulsion nevertheless.

Technologists, marketers and society in general have some interesting and controversial choices to make right now. Location based services, and other privacy and technically related innovations such as identify cards, face recognition, RFID tagging and extensive customer / citizen profiling, impact the dynamics and may reshape the foundations of our society.

If you're interested in these aspects of the digital world, and the commercial and fun aspects to, join me at Being Digital in London this June 10th. I'll be speaking on the Location panel.


Wikipedia informs me that The Rolling Stones penned "Get off of my cloud" as a reaction to their sudden popularity following the success of "(I can't get no) Satisfaction". Following Ronnie's dissatisfaction with the possibilities of location based services, could we be listening to "Get off of my phone" anytime soon?


Photograph by Mike Johnson, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 License.

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