Posts Tagged ‘iphone’

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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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.

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.

Your Social Media Influence

May 9, 2010

Something I spend time thinking about is how to gauge influence on social networks and how to gauge the impact social networks have in propagating ideas, content and ultimately in the commercial sense–clicks.

In full disclosure, I think about this from two perspectives-1) as a professional working at CBS News and charged with helping to grow audience in no small part by leveraging social networks and 2) as a straight up user of social media who would love for people to be active on this blog, view my You Tube channel (maybe not that so much) etc.

So, I can go into my Twitter and be pleasantly surprised that I have 1200+ followers. I can go onto Facebook and see that I have 700+ friends.  I can go onto Plurk and realize I have 150+ fans and friends.  I can hit up Friend Feed and see 350+ friends.  But what does it all mean, outside of the fact that I am not the only one with too much free time? (As an aside, one day I would love to figure out how much overlap there is).

So, the question then is I am able to reach 2500+ people on any one of several social networks, but what do they think of my message?  and how do I measure the value of my contributions? And then how does the way I influence my network mimic the way CBS News Twitter influences the 1.5 million followers it has, or the 73,000+ that Katie Couric has on her follower list (after all this is my bread and butter, right?)

For that answer, fortunately the smart folks at the Harvard Business Review have some thoughts, and its more than just a straight up numbers game.  HBR did a follow-up on some great thoughts and research by Adi Avint from August 2009.  His “Million Followers Fallacy” post opines that just the number of followers a user has is not a true indication of their reach.  Yes, a million people may read your thoughts 140 characters at a time–but given the nature of Twitter, probably not.

Instead, HBR suggests looking more at @ mentions and re-tweets as a better gauge of influence.  Meeyoung Cha opines that follower count as a stand-alone metric is a popularity contest, and not a true measure of influence.

follower count is not sufficient to capture the influence of a user (i.e., the ability of an user to sway the opinions of her followers). It only shows how popular the user is (i.e., the size of her audience). But, as we showed in our paper, retweets and mentions, which measure the audience responsiveness to a user’s tweets, do not correlate strongly with number of followers.

I have long argued that Twitter is more about conversation-and being responsive to what the people I follow post and more importantly be able to control the information flow that I consumer and tap into a stream of personal interest.  That can be Mets updates from a variety of sources, or the latest on the Islanders–the value of Twitter to me is the connection to information I am searching for, in real-time and in a passive state (all I have to do is open up a Twitter client on my laptop or mobile device).

Now I work for a major mass media news organization–and there is little doubt of the influence that CBS News will have on today’s news and ongoing stories throughout the news cycle.  But for me, Twitter (and the others listed) are more about niche topics and that is where the true value of Twitter comes from.

Cha says early research shows smaller publishers and smaller business-not just collecting followers have a competitive advantage:

But when it comes to non-popular or even niche topics, small businesses and opinion leaders were far more effective in engaging audience than mass media.

But the true measure of influence is still a work in progress.  Twitter is an easy study because of the open nature of the platform–but is simply counting RT’s and @’s enough to say “A” is more influential than “C”?  Because it’s a matter of what the interaction is.

The interesting Twitter data though comes from a different (June 2009) HBR study–the 10% most prolific Twitter users are responsible for 90% of the Tweets.

Which can lead to an easy conclusion that Twitter is a great content filter, able to sort through a cacophony of data.  Yes, some of it is gossipy, and yes there are still those who want (or need) the validation of the million follower club…

But the goal has to be engagement–both personally and professionally.  Imagine the folks at NASCAR if they read my Tweet taking a swipe at NASCAR:

Kind of a NASCAR in suburbia feel, no? http://mypict.me/6E8p73:11 PM May 2nd via UberTwitter

Knowing their social media strategy is to fan me up–and follow me?

It’s not the follower count, but the message.  As Mel Karmazin once said (in my presence at a meeting), “Content is King,” it’s up to us to maximize its value–and engage our audience.

Tone Down the Chatter

April 23, 2010

There’s a guy on Twitter (at least I think he’s a guy) who goes by Cheap Suits who is pretty insightful, shares good information and is always open to real conversation.  One day, and we went back and forth some on it, Cheap Suits likened FourSquare location tweets to white noise–and I don’t disagree with Cheap Suits about that.

We disagree on the utility of sites like FourSquare and Gowalla, we don’t disagree on the utility of sharing my location with all on Twitter.  I’ve blogged on this subject as well.

But to me, the bigger problem with Twitter is all of the “tricky” ways companies are trying to use Twitter, and somehow they think its like its not even noticeable.

Now, I have a friend who I introduced to Twitter more than two years ago who now has a thriving consulting business based on telling people who to fill in 140 characters and hit Tweet–and that’s fine.

This morning, I was in a deli near the LIRR train station where I get the train in the morning picking up a cup of coffee and two people were having a pretty heated discussion over the companies that manufacture tow trucks.  I have to admit, I have never even given this a second thought, but here these two people were deep into it–hemi vs. tranny, payload vs. horsepower.

I was taken with the passion of the conversation (and honestly had a few minutes to kill) so I pulled out my BlackBerry and Tweeted this.

Now I am being followed by the likes of TruckYellow, OpenRoadTruckers, Route66 and UglyMudGuards.

Clearly based on that one Tweet I am the right target for these companies and organizations, right?

No, instead, in a very sly way these guys use search terms and I supposed my tweeting the word truck, or Chevy got me noticed.

Well guys, I have a ton of respect for truckers-I really do.  But I am not following back–because honestly, I don’t need the extra chatter in my Twit stream.

Maybe I am a throwback, but as Twitter founder Biz Stone told CBS News’ Katie Couric this week, Twitter is still about conversation.  And since I am shameless about self promotion, if you like Katie Couric, and have an iPhone please get the @KatieCouric iPhone app.  But please stop listening to Twitter (ie searching) without context.  It’s just plain annoying.

And the Gold Medal Goes-to the Olympic Spoiler

February 22, 2010

Let me say right at the start, this is not an essay that will complain about tape delays and channel selection on NBC’s coverage of the Olympics.  I won’t be that guy.  I work in the industry and I get the decisions that are made and why.  I would also say that columnists and commentators who work in or comment on the media industry should know and understand the reasons–and to feign they don’t is more than slightly disingenuous.

This is about all the folks who do all they can to avoid Olympic results during the day because they want to watch the biathlon, or the Nordic combined or the half-pipe, and how difficult it is to do that if you are even slightly connected to your social networks (and realistically who is not?)

I was on some PTO last week, home with the girls-and kind of dipping into things at work etc.  But I was never too far from clicking into Facebook on my iPhone or checking out the latest on Twitter on my BlackBerry.

And right there-out in the public with no tape delay were the results.  I knew in real-time that Lindsey Vonn not only overcame her ankle injury-but went on to win.  No waiting until 7pm on NBC Shopping to find out that Johnny Spillane is just a fraction of a second off the lead in the Nordic combined.  No waiting for Curling After Dark (and that is just plain weird) to get my fill of what seems like bocce on ice.

And you know what, it’s a good thing.  I don’t feel cheated.

It’s the argument/discussion I have from time to time at CBS News about the quaint old philosophy of holding a story for broadcast.  For those my age or older call it, “Film at 11” syndrome.  When the local newscaster (I can remember Chuck Scarborough and Ernie Anastos in NYC) promised to have the day’s story in film (although I tend to think it was video) at 11.

The world does not work on a broadcast schedule anymore.  For me, these spoiler updates let me set my TiVo, or check the listings to see which channel it’s on, or if I need an immediate fix go check one of the Olympics video sites or apps.

The spoiler here is the chatter about tape delays–who cares.  This is an on-demand world and its all there.  So keep the updates coming.  Helps me avoid ice dancing and pairs figure skating.

Can you see me now?

January 8, 2010

While Twitter and Facebook were grabbing all kinds of headlines for much of 2009 a bit of a phenomenon was developing as an off-shoot of both: location based social networking.  Now, I have written about this a little in assorted contexts–I am talking about products like Foursquare, Gowalla and others like Loopt and CauseWorld.  Each is slightly different-CauseWorld being the most distinct- but all have some basic core functionality.

Each of those listed (and a bunch of others I have not listed) leverage social networks and location–and give users a chance to do real time meetings.  This location based social networking has become an early buzz for 2010–but the technology is nothing new and its kind of a natural extension of all those Twitter or Facebook updates.

Foursquare (NYC based) is kind of game where users check in and become mayors etc.  It has a business opportunity to allow game players to get discounts etc at local stores and more.  Over at Gowalla you don’t become the mayor of any place, but you accumulate and trade assorted items like avocados, coffee makers and slices of pizza (all virtually) that you can leave and trade at each location.

The others are somewhere in between–with the over-riding concept being that its more than sharing status; it’s about sharing location.

I was a little amazed a couple of weeks ago when I updated my FourSquare that I was at a Starbucks not far from my office.  Low and behold, a friend was in the area and stopped in for an impromptu cup of coffee.  It’s where my status (and at the time I was the mayor of the Starbucks, although I don’t think the barrister knew it based on the service provided) meets the real world.

So here’s to seeing many of you in 2010 now that I not only know what you are up to, but where.

Can you see me now?

The People Have Spoken: I’m Not So Bad Off

December 15, 2009

I very accidentally found out that just when I think things are going as bad as they can, from the outside it may not be so bad.  Perhaps the grass can be greener.

Last weekend a bunch of stuff went on (family, friends, loved ones, holidays)-you know just a bunch of stuff.  I was talking with a friend of mine who reminded me of FML–you know what you may say in a bad situation, “F*ck My Life.”

And as advertising has taught us–there’s an app for that as well.  So, I added the FML app to my iPhone and started sharing the happenings of my weekend and why I feel FML.

And much to my surprise, the community-hundreds of people at a time, determined that things are not as bad as I think they are.

My FML’s have been rejected.

And I think that’s a good thing for me.  After all, here I was thinking, “Wow, I am f’d.”  And hundreds of people didn’t think so.  Its kind of cathartic actually.

While I am not saying that every issue can be helped by simple crowd-sourcing, it is a powerful tool.  Let the people speak and they will determine just how worthy the cause is.

My friends at BNet recently pointed out some of the intrinsic value of crowdsourcing and why it makes sense.

From a business perspective–increased creativity, new voices in the decision making process and a true look into what I like to call vox populi (Google it).  It comes with some downside too, because business can’t control the conversation or the expectation.  Its a bit of sharp edge to walk.

However, it also answers the question–now that I have Tweeted, shared, Digged and Wiki’d everything-what happens?

Well the answer is conversation–and perhaps as I learned, things are not as bleak as they appear, or at least that is what the vox populi is telling me.

Social Dialog v. Broadcast

September 29, 2009

From an inside-baseball perspective one of the more anticipated iPhone apps for this quarter is the CNN app.  It rolled live this week in the iTunes app store, and from what I can tell from an initial download and tour of the app its pretty solid.

For publishers like CNN (and CBS where I work), what has become core functionality is the way the app leverages social networks like Twitter, Facebook etc–as a means of sharing content.  Meaning, it’s a one-way broadcast of me to my friends and followers:

Hey there 1100 Twitter followers and 650 Facebook friends here is something I saw and thought it was pretty cool.  You may like it too.  Enjoy.

But there is nothing social about that from the publisher side.  Its a broadcast.  We are enabling the end-user to broadcast a piece of content (that links back to us) but we are not engaging our core user–or any part of their network.

And that to me seems like a missed opportunity.  Now, I don’t pretend to have all of the answers to this–but I think the soon to roll CBS News app starts to address some of this–but its scratching the surface.  We need to do more to not just be a voice in the social media darkness–we need to engage the end user.

That is the way to build our brand, build your loyalty to our brand and to be a part of the fabric of the social network-and not just a patchwork part of a broader quilt.

When Twitter is the Trending Topic

June 17, 2009

I will openly admit way at the top here that my use of Twitter-based on statistics is not the norm. More than 70% of Twitter’s users still go to the Twitter home page to post and read.  Me, depending upon where I am and what is going on I will use any combination of TweetDeck, Twitterfon for iPhone, UberTwitter for BlackBerry and the occasional Twitteriffic on iPhone (btw, I will be downloading TweetDeck for iPhone today and may try a product review).

The one place I tend not to interact with Twitter is on twitter.com.

Generally, I don’t think I am missing much of the experience–except for the trending topics on the right hand side.

Its an interesting collection of items there…three topics tied directly to the Iranian elections and resulting up-rise-fueled by Twitter. In fact CBS News reported at one point the Obama administration asked Twitter to delay scheduled maintenance to allow direct communication with those in the uprising.

Today being the day that iPhone 3.0 rolls live, there is a trending topic for iPhone, ATT and for the inner geek in all of us, OS3.

As mentioned above, TweetDeck put out its iPhone version last night (will try to get to a review today) so that is a trending topic.  The #haveyouever seems to be a continuation of a Twitter type game–#3wordsaftersex etc.  Harmless, kind of fun.

Then there is #140conf.  Who knows what this one is?

The 140 Character Conference is a gathering I think into the high hundreds, if not 1000’s in NYC to talk about Twitter. OK.  Participants paid $1000 a head to talk about Twitter. OK, its their money.

But now, while everyone is talking about Twitter, they are busy on Twitter-because that’s how to get into a trending topic-to have people update with a #(hash tag).  If enough people use the # for their posts, you crack the trending topic list.  So, for chatter our of Iran check #mousavi or #tehran (go to Twitter search and enter the hash tag).

Some of it is relevant, some of it is crap, much of it is RT (that’s re-tweet) from others but it has a purpose.

But I am not sure I get why folks spent what is a lot of money in this economy, to come to NYC-which is not a cheap trip to talk about Twitter, and then spend enough time on Twitter to make it a trending topic.

Its the day when Twitter itself is the trending topic I suppose-at least to 140 characters with very active fingers.


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