Posts Tagged ‘connected’

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.

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So, Do You Quora?

January 7, 2011

Well, do you Quora? Huh?

At least in the circles of social media, its become a very hot question.  And if you do, the next hot question is, “How does it work?”

For the uninitiated, Quora is a collection of crowd-sourced questions, categorized by the crowd and answered by the crowd.  Kind of Wiki for asking questions.  (BTW, Quora is another in the long line of start-up companies that for some reason either spent way too much time, or not enough time working on a name)

The questions have a pretty broad range–here is a sample from my home screen:

Real time Quora questions

Similar to other social networking sites, you can follow people, and they can follow you.  There are connections to Facebook and Twitter than will share your questions and answers with your broader social networks and you can vote up or down questions and responses.

The user can categorize questions as well as the people who answer it.  You can also comment directly on another user’s response.

After using Quora for a few days here are some quick gut checks that are somewhere between interesting and quirky:

  1. To add a question, you type into what looks like a search box, in this age of over Google its a little counter intuitive.
  2. When setting up a profile, you pick topics you are interested in (and it makes some recommendations based on something but not sure what) and you can always add more.  However, there is not a very effective way to search other questions.  The result of this is there are probably 2000+ questions that circle around the Goldman/Facebook deal and none of them rise to an authoritative voice.
  3. It seems like the designers/UX engineers went out of their way to be out of the box, the UI takes some getting used to
  4. Although I have my blog registered into my profile, I am not sure what that does or what the interaction between the site and my blog is.

That said, there are some interesting components to this as well–I found a great place to eat lunch scanning through the recommendations of downtown restaurants yesterday, and so far I have not seen (I am sure there are a bunch there) any flame wars.

As always, dip in and see what it’s about.  As someone who does not use Wikipedia all that much, if the content resonates this could be a more direct way to get answers.

 

EMail, Spam and What Me Worry?

December 21, 2010

Its been a while since I was able to update this blog–a time when real life gets in the way of theory is the best way to explain it I guess.

Anyway, today an interesting confluence of events happened which prompted this–I was reading with some interest the New York Times write through on the updated Facebook email.  As Quincy used to tell me regularly when we were at CBS, I should not get my tech news from the NY Times.  But in this case, because of the aforementioned real-life stuff, I am a little behind, so I read the times.

As this was going on, I got a daily email from a company called Gilt Groupe which I can thank my 10-year-old for signing me up.  And then the final piece to this puzzle–one of the LIRR warriors I follow on Twitter, @hfleming checked in via FourSquare to Gilt Groupe.

So, this was a reminder to me that I needed to find out more about Gilt Groupe–since I am getting their daily emails, and since I have at least exchanged Tweets with someone who I think works there, I figured why not go to a source, rather than surf around?

I sent @hfleming a tweet (she does not follow me) with my email address in it, and I instantly got back a spam tweet from @emailbot telling me I just potentially opened myself up to spam email.

So, first-spam in my Twitter stream is far more annoying that spam in my email in box, or more likely in my spam folder where I will NEVER look at it.

Beyond that, I would think anyone on Twitter has a “social media” email account–where they expect to get spam, am I wrong about this?  In my case I use my itsonlytv@gmail.com email address.  Now, I still get that email to my iPhone, iPad and BB–after all it also has some useful communication on it via my social networks.  But it also has pretty aggressive spam filtering in place.

So spam away to my email–but leave my Twitter alone.

The Right Network for the Right Message

November 26, 2010

My recent brush with semi-unemployment taught me an interesting lesson about social networks (which I admittedly belong to far more than any one per should).  Each one has a unique place and when leveraged in a meaningful can drive results.

So among other places, you can find me on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn and right here on WordPress (which for the sake of this argument I will position as a social network).

Before I left my office at CBS News for the last time (this was late in October) I updated my Facebook status and put out a tweet.  Both were intentionally misleading, as people who knew my situation at work knew what was up–and those who didn’t had questions–but I really did not want to deal with it.

By the time I made my way to Penn Station (admittedly I stopped at a couple of bars) I had job interviews lined up one via a friend (who to this day I have never met in person) through Twitter and one through a good friend (who I actually know) via Facebook.

As the days rolled on, I came to realize that I could make connections to people or reconnect to people across the expanse of my social networks.

  • On LinkedIn I found some folks whose contact information I did not save to my file as I left my CBS office.
  • On Twitter I was getting @ messages and DM’s with links to posted jobs.
  • On Facebook came support and a few laughs.
  • On WordPress I found some tips for better presenting my skills and background.

I have always been a believer in karma when it comes to things professional–I help people (including employees) jobs.  Former employees always have a reference from me. Part of me wants to believe the great support I got was Karma coming back to me–because I will keep on doing what I do.

Beyond the notion of karma though is the reality that we can all be connected–and be there to support one another.  Knowing where to go and how to tap into that resource is part of the emerging field.

My quick takeaways–as I am not sure I have all of the answers on this–and the reality is the place I landed was born more from hard work than working the systems is something like this:

  1. Don’t try to solve all of your problems in an hour or a day.  It’s a process, treat finding a job as a job and make it part of your day-to-day.
  2. Accept help when it’s offered, and don’t be afraid to ask.  None of us have all the answer-but together we are a pretty good knowledge base.
  3. Make sure all of your networks (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter) are presentable to anyone who does a Google search.
  4. Be an active contributor to the communities you want to work in.
  5. Be proactive.  This blog was born out of uncertainty about my job at CBS more than 2 years ago.  I wanted to have a place to send people to see my expertise.  Become and expert and have a place to share that expertise.

Let me know if you have any additions to my list–I am happy to add them on–and I always give credit.

Location, Location, Location

November 8, 2010

One of the keys to having a good business, the old adage goes, is, “Location, location, location.”  Now, despite what  a Pew Center report says that location-based services like FourSquare and Gowalla have not caught on–the measure is not mass, at least not yet.

As mentioned in this space in August the reality is there are people out checking in, and leveraging location-based apps and services.  If the Pew Center numbers are correct, 1% of adults in the US use LBS apps and that number is 4% of US adult internet users.  Yeah, percentage wise that’s a small number–but mass wise, that’s a pretty big number.

And something to keep in mind, is something Larry Kramer (like me, he too is former CBS Digital)–those users are  a premium to advertisers today.  Kramer actually said this morning on Bloomberg TV that the future of TV advertising is actually positive if you add in the ability to target–demographically and via geography.

From experience that can be more than 3X an ad buy.

Again, smallish numbers today, but numbers that get better and as the data is better mined, and the targeting better refined–that premium goes up.

On the product side–as I opined in August, Facebook would help drive the LBS market–and is slowly is.  This week, an updated to Facebook places went live.  Add to that some innovations going on–like what another former boss of mine is doing at Shopkick taking LBS into the store–and the actual user experience is becoming richer.

As the user experience gets better–which means the likes of FourSquare, Gowalla, Bright Kite-and the ones we don’t know about yet make their apps better–the user engagement goes up.  That 1% easily becomes 3%.  The 4% becomes 10%.

And the driver for this will be the ad dollars on the table now, and in the future.  It is a business.  Yes, it’s a moment when product is ahead of consumer demand–but as that gap closes–winners will survive, losers will be cut and ultimately a viable product will be left.

 

 

The Front Door to the Information Superhighway

November 3, 2010

I am willing to admit to being old enough to remember the promise of “the internet” as promoted by AOL

Or even before that Prodigy

Those early “web” services provided access to a vast array of information–some of it cataloged, most of it untapped.  Along came independent browsers and broadband at that pretty much all but killed the relative beauty of the dial-up service provider:

For those who did it–who can forget that pleasure of surfing looking for dial-up ports that would work, the second number and more….

As what one of those companies promised “the information superhighway” evolved–along game our friends first at Yahoo then at Google who were able to bring order to the relative chaos.  (Yes, I am leaving out the likes of AltaVista, Lycos etc)–you know the search engine.

Open up the page, type in some keywords and you have a menu of options to choose from.

But as technology improved, so did the capabilities of the information providers.  No longer was having a lane on the great information superhighway enough–we needed attention.  So came the skill of SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and SEM (Search Engine Marketing). In essence rigging the system–making my content the top of the search returns, after all we all know no one scrolls.

But alas, internet time waits for no one.  The AOL commercial at the top of this post is from 1995.  A mere 15 years later, and that front door to content has once again morphed.

Think about the way you discover things on-line (if you are even still using a computer or laptop).  Yes, search engines still have their place.  And yes you still have that Yahoo email, but how do you find things?

My bet is more than 70% of the time its through your social networks.  An interesting link on your friends Facebook wall like this one?  Maybe something from your Twitter stream that looks like this?

The reality is we are so connected to our networks, that search engines are a secondary source.  Case in point, over the weekend when Fox Networks and Cablevision settled the two-week imbroglio (it’s the NY Post headline writer in me-sorry) about retransmission, it was on Facebook I found out.  My confirmation was from Twitter, before I hit Google to find out the details.

{Couple of interesting asides here:  1-nornally I get this information first from Twitter, but on an early Saturday evening, my Facebook network was right on it.  2-the email from Cablevision came 5 hours later (a comment on email as a point of dissemination)}.

Our social networks are the touch point we use between information and our day-to-day–and its possible that the front door to the vast reaches of the information superhighway have changed again–from 256k dial-up–to 140 characters.

Where we get and share information is an evolving point of contact, and very individualistic–because it has to serve our needs.  I know 90% of my Twitter is mobile, and less than 5% of my computer based Twitter is on twitter.com.

Think about where and how you get information–and see if perhaps its time for a tune up, or realignment.

Its Prime Time, are We Ready?

October 26, 2010

This blog is really just some thoughts and observations from the last few days-as I’ve had some unexpected free-time and a chance to “field test” some apps that I have messed with in controlled settings.

Within the sphere of social media there are a ton of emerging products and platforms–and a ton that should be by now well-tested (three years is my rough cut off) for the sake of argument a “mature” product.

In the category of mature products are Twitter, Facebook, You Tube, Yelp, WordPress.  On the fringe are the likes of FourSquare, Gowalla, BrightKite.

As has been discussed here (and elsewhere) there is no shortage of established brands building on the API’s that some of these “mature” products offer.  Powered by Twitter, Facebook fan pages, WordPress powered sites etc.  Want to build check in to your site? FourSquare, Gowalla, Bright Kite all offer that capability.

But what happens when those sites are down–as can happen in the world of technology from time to time.  As one of my past bosses used to say, “Things go bump in the night sometimes.”

So yes, when Twitter has a fail whale showing or Facebook is in accessible, or GMail is down–there is a raining down of people checking to see if its them, or if its a site issue.

But when this happens on a branded site–and the use case that comes to mind is a radio commercial in the NYC area for White Castle that encourages people to go to Facebook, become a fan and leave a comment.  But what happens when Facebook is down, and you can’t reach that page?

Yeah Facebook has a problem–but the brand exposure is huge.

So these sites that sometimes we play on, sometimes we connect on and sometimes we bemoan now have an impact–but are they ready for prime time?

Would You Believe?

July 15, 2010

It was one of those days when through varied implied and implicit connections I managed to have conversations I had a seven in the morning ring true by four in the afternoon–without having any knowledge that one would lead to the other.  It’s a true Maxwell Smart, “Would you believe?” moment.

In the morning I was talking to a commuting buddy of mine about how blogs and social network can drive the news cycle.  The example we were discussing was the issue reported in the iPhone 4 device.  Here’s a good write through on that if you need the background.

The upshot of the discussion though was how a few bloggers can grab hold of something–and drive via Twitter, Facebook and comments a story until the “main stream” media picks up on it.

So today–what would happen if the BP capping of the well spewing oil in the Gulf was staged.

Step away for a moment.  How easy would it be for them to design a set similar to the one we’ve seen for more than 80 days from the bottom of the Gulf of oil spewing.  But this time–with no oil and this cap in place?  Switch the video source–and what do you know, it’s a capped well, right?

A few conspiracy theorists blog about this.  Spread it via Twitter.  A few Facebook shares–and you have a rumor ready to rumble along.

The final connection to all of this was an email today that CBS News was going to support the News Literacy Project.  One of the goals of this project is to help primarily students differentiate fact and fiction in this connected world.

Play it out–in Dallas in November of 1963.  Imagine a wired world, with instant mobile images and video.  Twitter to share the news far and wide and the second gunman theory? What would that look like today?

Would you believe we have the power to make things happen–to make people listen.  I guess it’s equally important to have something to say.

Out and About, But in All the Wrong Places

July 13, 2010

It’s no secret that each day we are deluged with data and information-all vying for at least 5 seconds of our attention.  Email tumbles in day and night.  Twitter clicks away.  Things are posted and commented on via Facebook.  Blogs are updated.  RSS readers gather information.  And to top it all off–we are so connected to it all from computers to smartphones to connected TV.  There is no off switch.

That is not the issue though.

The issue from a content guy is that with all those ways of putting my brand in front of you I take best guesses in how to reach the masses–and its very likely there is a good number of people I will miss.

Take this very blog for instance: people subscribe to its RSS; I auto share links via Twitter and Facebook; usually I will manually add a link to Twitter and Facebook as well; I share it to Posterous and MySpace.

You know what I don’t do though? I don’t email.  I don’t SMS. I don’t Yawa it.  Because my Twitter goes to Google Buzz, it gets Buzzed, but not directly.

In the case of this blog-since its more of a hobby and less of a vocation that’s OK with me.  But what would happen if disseminating my musings was my full-time gig?

Case Study 1:  Over the weekend, my beloved New York Islanders held its annual prospect scrimmage game Blue v. Orange at the Nassau Coliseum.  I knew because I follow the Islanders on Twitter the game would be available via streaming on the New York Islanders website.  I stopped by the game for a bit and then watched the skills competition at home on-line.

While reading a recap of the game on a blog not affiliated with the Islanders Islanders Point Blank I found out not all fans knew that the game was available on-line.  Perhaps these folks don’t follow Twitter?  Perhaps there was no email from the Isles announcing the game stream?  I really don’t know.  But clearly there was some swath of Isles Nation missed by publicity for the game.  To these people the term “fail” became part of the post-game lexicon.

Case Study 2: This one seems kind of quaint frankly, but its real.  As long time readers know, I work for CBS Mobile and part of my job is to bring apps for smart-phones to market.  The beauty of smart phones is that its like carrying a small computer in your pocket–and its capabilities are overwhelming.  Social media apps, sharing, SMS and even old-school (for new media) email.  Know what the one sharing mechanism that when it’s not there people want? Email.

It’s now standard in all the apps that my group brings to market-the ability to share the app and share content via email but this was not always the case.  Lesson learned.

Yesterday I spent some time reading some post-release notes from a highly successful app launch by a company called “tap, tap, tap.”  In it, the CEO of the company referred to email sharing as “of course.”  He too has learned an important lesson.

Be where your audience is.

Here are some non-scientific guidelines:

  1. Be accessible.  Don’t make a social strategy the beginning, middle and end of product–but make it ingrained and make it easy to scale so you can quickly react to the Flickr or Yawa audience you may be surprised by.
  2. Remember is social media–make sure its sociable from the product out.
  3. Beat the bushes and engage.

Social Media Obligations-Real and Imagined

May 23, 2010

A few months ago I set up a FormSpring account-as a trial of the technology and also to get a feel for what can be done with it, and what the possibilities are for use in a commercial setting.

The reality of it is, FormSpring is kind of a nice thing, but I am not completely sure where it fits in the broader eco-system of social networks.  But I have left the links up on this blog and in a few other places, after-all if you are a reader of this blog you know its my belief this is really about conversation,a nd FormSpring drives conversation if nothing else.

Last night, I got an interesting question (in full disclosure from an old friend of mine) about etiquette on social networks.  The link to my FromSpring is above, so if you are interested in the question and the answer you can dig in…

As I thought about the answer, I realized there is a significant pattern, at least for me with the way I manage my social networks and yes, perhaps there is an etiquette, at least self-imposed.

On Facebook I tend to accept all friend requests.  This is a bit of a throwback for me to the days when I was evaluating games and widgets on Facebook and I needed people to spam.  I figured, why not, they are spamming me anyway.  I also use lists on Facebook, so I have  a folder of people I do not now (I call them “not sure”) and also set up a limited profile view–so you can’t see pictures or background info about me.  This way, I can share pictures of my girls with real friends via Facebook and not have to worry about weird internet things.

On Twitter, I am far more open.  I will follow back just about anyone who follows me.  The rule for me there is it has to be a real person, I will not follow back Twitter-bots, and also if your account ends up spamming my Twitter with feed/RSS driven posts, I just unfollow you.  Not a big deal.  I manage the flow using lists in Tweetdeck, so I can filter out most of the garbage, and get a good look at the information most useful to me.

When it comes to the location-based networks, you know FourSquare, Gowalla etc, I am far more rigid.  The only people I follow or will allow to follow me are the people I know personally–and I would want to “run into” at some point.  This is something I have tried to flush out at lot, and it is an evolving policy.  This is truly the one where I actively go in and unfollow and block people–and to me its a safety issue.

So, that’s my etiquette for all of this.  As I told my friend on FormSpring, there really are no rules.  Its your network and you need to be comfortable with what you are sharing and with whom you are sharing it.

As a wise man who has spent years in traditional media has said more than once–if you don’t want to see it on the cover on the NY Times, don’t put it into writing anywhere–that anywhere includes your social networks.


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