Moved Blog

November 6, 2011

Hey All…

I know it’s been a while since I updated here, and there are a lot of reasons for that-but it has not stopped my random commentary of social media.  So, please join me on my Single Dad blog.  I’ve added a whole new social media section and added all of the posts from here.  Also look for more product reviews and thoughts on navigating the social media landscape with pre-teens.

As always, feel free to comment on the posts.  I pretty much respond to all the comments.


The Search Generation

June 13, 2011

The Connected Generation Doesn't Need Today's ToolsOne of the ways I hope to keep myself on the professional cutting edge is to offer a fresh perspective on the way content is consumed.  One of the best ways I know to gather this information is to watch my kids (11. 0 and 8.5) and their friends as they gather around an iPod or computer.

Today though, I had the chance to go into 8.5’s third grade class and talk her peers.  While under the guise of talking to them about journalism and news (which we did a little), I used it as an opportunity to find out how my daughter and her generation seek out and share information.

While it’s not a huge surprise (at least I hope its not), TV, radio, newspapers were not even in the discussion.  I was a little surprised-Facebook and Twitter was not either.  There are a lot of reasons for the latter-responsible parents is my hope, but the reality is 8-10 is well under the age requirements for those sights.

However, based on the discussion-text, text chat, video chat and especially search are far more important anyway.

On the discovery side-when I asked a class of 20 or so third graders how they find things out-and things I defined as news, information, websites, songs, videos, movies and entertainment-search was the number one way to find things.  And when I pressed the kids, they didn’t care what the search engine was (Google was as good as Yahoo was as good as iTunes search).  All they need is a search box and an execution point.

The quick take away on this is to over tag if necessary, but make sure tags capture all the keys to the content and all the imaginable entry points.  While I am among the people who believe SEO, as we know it today is a dying art, the reality is SEO will continue to be a discoverability driver in some form.  (An interesting note, one of the kids wanted to know about a way to search content shared via text chat, hmmmm).

On the consumption side, once again search was a huge driver to finding content.  One of the girls in the class even talked about setting up an RSS homepage-similar to Pageflakes or MyGoogle to capture key elements.  But a huge consumption driver for text and video is images.  It’s a concept I am late to embrace but important.  In the digital clutter, you still need to capture eyeballs.  See any of the e-book stores (Amazon, B&N, iBooks).  Which books are you likely to purchase if you are just scanning a topic?  Eye-catching cover art is the driver.

Finally, when it comes to sharing information text, text chat chat (including video chat) was the focus.  One boy in the class said (and his classmates agreed), “I can send an email, but no one reads email,” from the mouths of 8+s comes great truth.  Email has been a dying medium for more than five years now.

The take away here is to make sure your packaging includes interoperability to share via text-because that is a key driver to reach the generation that is not tethered by Blackberry Enterprise Server, Outlook Exchange or Gmail on the go.

(My) Tween(s) and Social Networking

April 14, 2011

Which of these sites is your tween on?As the parent of one tween (10.5 who will be 11 in two months) and an 8.5 who wants to do what her big sister does-social networks like Facebook, Twitter, You Tube etc are sources of big concern for me-and I know a lot about them.  Which seems to put me well ahead of my peers who are parents confronting these issues.

To fully understand the issue I (and other parents of tweens today) face-you need to understand the landscape.  Chances are if  you are reading this blog, you do-but for the sake of clarity:

At school, softball, camp-pretty much any place more than three kids gather, eventually the conversation turns to Facebook, texting, You Tube and any one of a myriad of social games.  Now, like many parents I am guilty of enabling this conversation by outfitting my kids with the iPod Touch-which opens up the magic of the app store to them.  I am aware of at least three apps that my girls and their friends use regularly that are not compliant with the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA).  And these are the ones I worry most about.

Through the age of 13 (which is why its the magic number for Facebook, You Tube, Twitter etc) COPA provides some rigorous rules about how kids under 13 are treated on websites.  Speaking as someone who has had to consider COPPA compliance-it’s not treated lightly in large companies.  I can see in some start-up environments though there being more of a “let’s wait to see if someone complains” attitude.

Basically, COPPA provides strong content guidelines and enforcement as well as protections against the collection of PID (personal identification). Enforcement of COPPA  falls on the Federal Trade Commission.

So back to my parenting conundrum.  Both of my kids (more so 10.5) have friends who are on Facebook, regularly post videos to You Tube and are on social gaming sites like Second Life etc.  My kids, not so much.  They have email, I let them on Opionaided (it is COPPA compliant) and they can play social games targeted at tweens that are COPPA compliant.

But the battle continues. Then comes the part that confuses me, although I know it should not.  Since becoming a single parent, I am more apt (perhaps more open) to talking with other parents at school events, temple, parties etc-and they seem unaware of the kind of information their children are sharing on social networks.

They are shocked at what I know about their kids and their family trips-just through a casual glance at Facebook.

Now this is a lesson I am trying to teach my kids as well-as I will not count on the FTC or COPPA compliance to keep my kids net safe.  That said, its not easy to say, “no” to the relentless stream of asks to join Facebook, You Tube and other sites.

When the girls want to try a new site out, I tell them I have to look at it first–and the first thing I look for is COPPA compliance-sites that are COPPA compliant brag about it, so its not hard to find.

The other items I look for:

  • Is there a secure log in procedure on the sign up page? (look for the HTTPS or the lock)
  • Look through the TOS on the site and check on their policy for PID-do they trade it or sell it to third parties?
  • Once registered, make sure the sign in page is also a secure log in.
  • I keep the girls’ computer in the middle of the family room.  That is their online portal, where I can dip in as needed.
The other thing I do (and perhaps its a bit over the top) is I have my iPhone set to get the girls’ email so I know what they are signing up for, and can shut them down pretty quickly.

Social Gaming, The Emergence of a Frontier

March 21, 2011

Even without a full picture, the information NGMoco released about We Rule on the game’s one year anniversary in the app store reveals a lot about social gaming and engagement via some very powerful mobile platforms.

Social Game at 1 Year

NGMoco’s We Rule has more than 13 million downloads in a year-a number anyone in the app space would covet.  But the more impressive (to me and hopefully you) number is the 3 billion minutes players have spent on We Rule in a year.  The 15 million mojo’s transacted each day is impressive too-although what is not clear how many of those are hard-dollar purchases versus free acquisition via the game.

What is clear though is that the hybrid “freemium” model NGMoco introduced is a viable business model, with significant hooks into many digital facets to bear close study no matter what your core business is.

For the uninitiated, We Rule is a free game to download for iOS devices.  The game is mostly simple, through touch and swipe gamers are able to grow and expand their kingdom from a single plot of farmland growing corn to multiple (now up to eight) realms with purchases of businesses and amenities to create an empire.

My We Rule has a dark realm where I keep dragons and land scarring structures; a water front with a ship yard, fish monger, naval ship.  (this is also where I keep the three little pigs and a butcher shop).  I have an opulent castle (recently upgraded) and I am eyeing one of the four new realms that opened with the last download of the game.

Some of the unique qualities of the game though-the ones to seriously look at and contemplate for products are:

  1. SSO-the games are tied to a gaming hub, which recognizes me when I log in and remembers me across games.  It also remembers friends from my networks (including Gmail, Twitter, Facebook).
  2. Real time app updating through downloading.  These are graphical components served into your game via a server side download-which means no new submission to the app store.  When there is a structural change to the game board, there is a standard Apple update.
  3. Hooks to keep finding and refining my in game friend list through my social networks.
  4. In-app purchase of mojo (the game currency), and other game components.

While the game is fairly engaging and easy to play and understand, there are some components that can be improved-and I would think knowing the way NGMoco has rolled out other games (I also play Adventure Bay and Castle Craft (esd714 is my gamer name in all three games) there is a constant review.

  1. It would be nice to integrate some level of real time twitter feed into the game (maybe via hashtag?) so I can brag about purchases and accomplishments in real time.
  2. There is no way to remove a friend’s game once it is connected to mine.  I have some friends who played some, but stopped, and their kingdoms and islands are part of my game experience.
  3. As the games become more complex, there is an increased crash rate, especially when WiFi capability changes in mid-game.

Of Announcements, Shows and Rumors

March 14, 2011


Lots of news and rumors though

Have to make sure I am there next year, I actually miss being there

Anyone who knows me, knows I am very much not a fan of conferences.  It’s just not my thing.  However, South By Southwest (SXSW) is a different kind of event, and every year (like this one) that I don’t go, I regret it.


For background only, I am someone who attended SXSW more than 20 years ago when it was a college music show in Austin-this is before the tech crowd kind of took it over and in the vernacular of my industry made it about convergence.  I can remember struggling to find money to go in college (the college radio station paid a couple of hundred dollars).  When I worked in TV in Dallas it was great to be assigned to the show.  It was so out of the mainstream, it was an easy assignment to snag.

Now, it’s a tough ticket.  One friend was actively looking for hotel reservations that were about to be canceled–knowing the roots of SXSW, that’s kind of crazy.

Over the years of evolution SXSW has become a place for tech on the periphery of the music and film industry to make announcements-this for the most part means apps (especially mobile) and new ways to layer social into existing products.  The list this year has  been impressive:

  1. New FourSquare
  2. New Gowalla
  3. New TED API
  4. Indie film enablement at Dynamo
  5. @Anywhere integrating with Twitter

And those are just five off the top of my head…

Then there was the one that didn’t happen:

The rumor over the weekend was Google would introduce us to its next social attempt, Google Circles.  Following that over the weekend (while not in Austin) was a bit dizzying–but it looks like that won’t happen, for now at least.

The upshot though is a place where new bands and indie producers gathered to be found has been found…

It’s no wonder the person who best lives convergence has been such a hit

So, hopefully next year this update is from Austin, and I won’t spend three days saying, “Man I should be at SXSW.”  Either way, it should be a lot of fun (as it always is).

Product Review: Greplin

February 19, 2011

Greplin logo

For the last few days, I have been messing around with Greplin, self-billed as the search bar for your life.  And so far, while not quite the utility I was hoping it would be (although I am not sure I can quantify that statement), it has been effective and useful.

Admittedly, because sometimes life gets in the way, I am trying to catch up on some emerging products and companies that have cool tools-and Greplin is one of them.  I heard about them earlier this month when Sequoia stepped in with Series A funding.

The way Greplin works, after you register for it (I have invites for anyone that needs, although I don’t think you need them any longer) you register your social networks, email accounts (looks like gmail only right now). One nice thing is they include LinkedIn with Twitter and Facebook. One of my personal complaints is that I really do try to keep my LI professional based only and there are few bridges between my Facebook and LinkedIn. My Twitter is one of the bridges but not very effective.

Once set up and permission are granted, Greplin then acts as a search engine and crawls your networks and creates an index.

A couple of early adopter issues:

  1. There is a free version (which I use) and a premium version (which I do not use).  I understand and support monetization, but it seems the lines are a little arbitrary.  I can register 3 gmail accounts, but not Google Voice, or Google Docs.  Dropbox is free but Yammer and Evernote are premium.
  2. I am not one to use most search bars in browsers, but this is one that I would use, but it does not exist.
  3. At this point, search returns are presented by platforms and then relevance-the options to be 100% relevance would be good.

All in all, for an early product its useful.  I think once I can figure out what I am expecting-and watch how Greplin goes through its next few drops–I think it will become a great utility.


24 Hour News Cycle to Never Ending Cycle

February 15, 2011

In many circles, cable news, and specifically CNN are credited with creating the 24 hour news cycle.  This is something I am a part of, and understand it.

For discussion sake, lets call the 24 hour news cycle: reporting an event, reporting reaction to an event reporting repercussions of an event, onto the next event.  realistically there is more nuisance to it, but in essence that is the 24 hour news cycle.

With the advent of social media-the time from event to reaction is shorter-there is now instant analysis and instant reaction of events.  Want to track events in Egypt in real-time? Follow the #Jan25 hash tag. Want to go back further, see how the crash of an Air France Jet in Brazil played out in real-time in June 2009. Or think more contemporary, and the fate of Justin Beiber and perhaps the cooling of Beiber Fever?

The point is-for these events (and any others you like Esperanza Spalding, the fallout of the Islanders/Penguins brawl play out for days and months on Twitter and Facebook.

It’s almost quaint to say there is a 24-hour news cycle, when the reality is there is constant reaction and analysis in real-time 24/7 on events days and weeks after they occur.

While it’s still critical to manage the first 24 hours of an event, more and more its being broken down into hour-long cycles.  It will be interesting to watch how this plays out.  2012 will be an interesting campaign cycle–as seen in Egypt, the power of the masses all shouting out at once is tough to manage, and even tougher to silence.

Identity as the Holy Grail

January 31, 2011

Despite my early tempestous relationship with Quora, I have found some great insights and moments to think and contribute.

One of them occurred last night as Quora’s designer posed an interesting thread (I am not sure it was in the form of a question but I supposed that’s OK for an insider) about identity-and specifically mobile identity.  You can read Rebekah’s thoughts here or follow her on Twitter here.

Rebekah poses that identity is more than just your email, or your pictures or your Twitter stream for that matter.  Your digital identity is how you manage access to your attention.  Will you read your Twitter or your Facebook wall?  Will you update your Tumblr or your blog?  How you manage external access to that attention is your identity.  The other pieces (email, SMS, Facebook etc) are all components.

Rebekah believes (and I largely concur) the battleground is your mobile device.  This is the access point to your attention, thus the access point to your identity.

Rebekah and I diverge on one point-which is neither huge or insignificant in that I include tablets as part of that access point.

When talking about the consumer experience in digital media and roadmapping over the next five years, the central figures are your cell phone (the assumption being the curve of feature phone to smart phone conversion holds) and I believe the tablet.  The two devices as Apple has shows work together in a lot of ways, and we’ll see that in 2011 from the likes of Samsung and others who merge the Android OS on phone and tablet.

The reality is, chances are if you read this blog you never leave your house without at least one cell phone (the assumption being that readers of this blog probably carry more than one) and more than 90% of the time the tablet it with you as well.  The laptop is easily forgettable, and the desktop is a distant memory.

When thinking about capturing and holding attention-designers need to think about utility and IA.  Content folks need to think about real estate and connection.

I am convinced the way I got my job at CBS Mobile more than 5 years ago was my understanding of the personal nature of the mobile experience–which means that as a product person I need to be able to clearly make the experience sustainable across devices and across OS experiences.

Understanding the way consumers take in data and control their data intake is at the heart of understanding identity.  In context, a news organization can have this generations equivalent of the Pentagon papers.  Unfortunately just having them is less than half the battle–presenting it to a highly connected audience that demands personalization is the key.

Watch as Faebook, Twitter and products that we don’t know yet introduce new ways to access information-that access point will become the key.  It’s a way to sync your self to your data and your phone (and tablet) are at the hub.

The Tale of the Russian Goalie, and The Ebb and Flow of Twitter

January 23, 2011

Check out my blog over on Hockey Independent for a rundown on the comings and goings of Evgeny Nabokov-the reluctant goalie.

Comments here or on HI.


Did I miss somewhere the rules on proper question asking?

January 8, 2011

Did I miss somewhere the rules on proper question asking? Write an answer on Quora

Did I miss somewhere the rules on proper question asking?

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