Posts Tagged ‘interactions’

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.

EMail and the “Going Green” Argument

November 10, 2010

The rant that follows maybe slightly off the beaten path for this blog–but since it involves communication, making connections, and its my blog I am going to press on.

I got recently from my insurance company the requisite invitation to “go paperless”  for my statements–it’s the same invitation I get each month from credit cards, utilities, banks and pretty much anyone else who sends me paper bills.  The rational being that all that paper is bad for the environment and I would be doing my “green” part to jump on board with paperless.

Of course the underlying tone to all of this–that goes beyond the lessening of my (and the company) carbon footprint (think about it: getting paper, printing, shipping, delivery) is that all of that costs.  Email–has very limited onetime cost and a great ROI for companies, not to mention that at some point carbon offsets will come back and companies will see hard dollars for a smaller footprint.

So–cut to the chase.  I am happy to go paperless.  Lord knows there are 5+ credit card offers I get each week in the mail, not to mention the daily Geico mail I get about great rates certainly are candidates for my carbon offset.

So, brand-america here is the deal, you do you part:

1. Cull your address DB’s and stop sending out 3 or 4 of the same piece to an address

2. Have a way on your website to opt out of future mailings

3. Share the savings with me

(3A and while we are at it, stop spam-botting me on Twitter with your message, does not help your reputation)

Do these 3 simple things, and I am happy to go paperless.  I will do my part to help you cut your costs–but I am your customer (or potential customer) so I have a stake too-make it worth my while.

We now return to the semi-regular thoughts and rantings about social media.

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?

From Film at 11 to We are Here Right Now

October 14, 2010

I don’t consider myself to be old, however, my daughters (the older one especially) likes to remind me that I am creeping up there in years.  So it’s with that backdrop perhaps that I got a little nostalgic as I was watching the live video of the miners being pulled safely from their underground home of more than two months.

I am old enough to remember the tag line “Film at 11.”  Now I don’t remember it in my professional experience–but growing up I can remember Chuck Scarborough on WNBC (Channel 4 in NYC) or the late Bill Beutel on WABC (channel 7 in NYC) saying that line during what I later learned was the :57:30 cut-in.  You know it as a tease for the late news that comes during primetime viewing.

For those without the reference–here is a one time ABC News colleague of mine Christina Lund with the familiar tagline (this one delivered on KABC-Los Angeles in 1976)

And that’s what happened.  If you wanted to see the story you waited for the news to come on.  In talking to some of the long-timers at places I work or have worked, by 1976 the conversion to videotape was well underway-but the myth of film at 11 lived on for years beyond that.

Fast forward to Tuesday night into Wednesday and the miners.  Gone was the quaint notion of video.  Obsolete the idea of waiting 10 minutes, much less until 11.  This (like so many events) played out in real-time in bits and bites transferred in real-time around the world–with instant commentary from Twitter, blogs and news organizations like CBS (where I work) CNN, NBC etc.

And as all of this was going on — generally in that lull when the rescue capsule was being sent back down to the miners and being reloaded and resurfacing — I was able to think about the change I have seen in the news model both as a consumer and a professional.

I did wait for film (or video) at 11.  I can remember when a reporter going live was a big deal.  I’ve sprinted across snow-covered fields in New Hampshire to a feed point to make slot.

I’ve also pulled out an air-card or MiFi and upload a video file, used QIK to send breaking news video back and updated a story via Twitter using my smart phone camera.

I am not sure I know the “tipping” point in all of this-when the idea of waiting became quaint, but its a good thing.  News  is a commodity as is information.

While I truly do not think “back in the day” that information was being hoarded and doled out–there was a certain eloquence to it.  I also would not have been subjected to Ali Velshi on CNN cramming himself into a model of the rescue capsule.

And that’s not to pick on Mr. Velshi (whom I do not know). It’s the rest of the story.  Because we demand to see these things unfold in real-time and unedited, the ability to package and present may be a victim.

Flashback to January of 2010 and the Miracle on the Hudson.  Gripping pictures, a story with a happy ending–and miles of instant analysis.

Even when the news is bleakest–9/11 is the moment that leaps to mind the need to “fill the void” was evident.  I can even think back to the crash of TWA flight 800 off the coast of Long Island–and the long night I spent on a boat listening to coverage that did not equate with what I was seeing (my Nextel died so I was on my own until the boat came in)–but it’s not all bad, it really is not.

Because all of those sources, all of that information–gives us the power to be the packager.  Yes, news organizations need to be the gatekeeper.  But I can be my own editor and decide what makes sense.

So turn to Twitter, see what your social network is sharing via Facebook–check the blogs watch the video–its part of the human experience and its the job of my colleagues and me to make sure its there for you with context.

Social, Gaming-There is More, Right?

October 10, 2010

In what are probably equal parts of influence between work, my kids, curiosity and boredom I have been spending time in the social game space lately primarily on the iPad, and I have to admit I am hugely underwhelmed.

For a bunch of reasons, Farmville never clicked with me on Facebook, I tried it–I was even one of the early players but I just never was able to “get into” the game.  There are friends in my feed who are on the game more than 12 hours a day.  In fact, it got so bad, I have actually hidden Farmville and its related links from my feed.

<Note to Facebook-it would be nice to be able to similarly hide that content and manage it from apps and mobile web.>

However, I completely understand the importance of “game mechanics” as a driver for engagement.  Hell, for really no apparent reason I manage check-ins on Foursquare and Gowalla regularly and BrightKite and Loopt with less frequency and I really can not give you a good reason for it.  There are aspects that are engaging.

1. The Work reasons:  Taking those aspects and building them into the broader experience–the so-called real-time web is a driver.  So, since this is my business I need to be in the space.

2.  The Kids excuse:  My kids are becoming voracious in social gaming–and since I need to be a good parent in 2010–and know what they are doing and provide guidance to safety and best practices, I am out there with them.

3. The Curiosity factor:  I still wish I could figure out the compelling parts of Farmville or even the ones I do play like We Rule (I am esd714)

and City Story I am esd714).

4. Boredom is a driver:  I have an hour-20 each way each day on the Long Island Rail Road.  Tack on up to 10 minutes to at least half of those trips each week for random “only on the LIRR” issues, and I have time to kill.

Even with that, and the connections to Facebook and Twitter there just is not anything overly compelling that draws me into these games.  The element of success in the game just does not carry enough excitement.

Of course, there are Second Life like experiences, and not really integrated into my daily web or consumption pattern–which probably helps make them less desirable to me.  If there were a way to hook this into my daily reading on hockey, or baseball or politics it may work better.

But still, there has to be more, right?  There is a bustling business model of selling for not a little money game components for these virtual world–north of $5B in 2010 so there should be a way to make this ring a little more indispensible, isn’t there?

Location Goes Prime Time

August 24, 2010

So an interesting thing happened in the world of location-based apps–they moved from quirky curiosity of the early adopter to main stream almost over night.  With the launch of Places, Facebook took a major step into the location awareness space and may have changed the playing field for the spunky upstarts in the game.

In this space, I have written about the upsides and downsides of some of the early apps in the location market like Foursquare, Gowalla, Loopt and Brightkite.  So the subject matter is not new to anyone who is even a semi-regular reader.

But what is new is a product that while now is only baseline (just check in–no gaming features) has scalable user base.  No matter how you cut across the stats, while the upstarts are seeing hot growth the user base is still less than 5 million. Twitter founder  Biz Stone announced recently on Twitter that his service has more than 105 million registered users.  Facebook?  How about 500 million users, half of whom log in each day.

150 million of those daily users access Facebook via mobile applications–and according to Facebook those users are twice as active as online only users.

Say only half that base uses Places, that’s still 75 million users a day–a number that Gowalla and FourSquare have proven will grow.  It’s where the audience is.

Yes, Places is missing the concept of the mayor (FourSquare) or the items (Gowalla).  But it has the reach of your full network.  Again, based on Facebook numbers each user has an average of 130 friends.

While not a truly scientific case study, here are some interesting things I’ve noted using FourSquare, Gowalla and Places over the last few days:

  • Friday night I took my kids to a local chain restaurant.  I checked in on all three services within 10 minutes.  FourSquare had one other person listed in the place–neither of us was the mayor.  Gowalla had my last check in (two months ago) as the most previous-and no new items.  Places  had 25 people checked in to the place when we got there.
  • Saturday we went to the mall to get some back to school stuff.  FourSquare had seven people checked into the mall and 5-9 people checked into various stores we were in and out of.  Gowalla had up to six concurrent users in any of the places-including the mall at any given time.  Places had more than 50 in the mall, and one of the stores had 125 people checked into it.
  • Yesterday on a rainy Monday I took the girls to go see a movie at noon.  I was the only check in to the theater on FourSquare and Gowalla.  Places had 10 people checked in when we got there, and by the time we left another 15 people had checked in.

That’s scale.

As I have pointed out this does cause a problem–since I only follow and friend on location services people I know, while my Facebook (and Twitter for that matter) are littered with business contacts, people I just don’t know and people I really don’t want to share my location with–this will require some effort on my part to make Facebook Places work for me.

I suspect about the time Facebook introduces the gaming features and other elements that will make the service scale, I will be ready to tackle how to close of who knows where I am.  In the meantime, while it’s not quite game over, it’s a dramatically new playing field for location services–there’s a new leader on the board.


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