Posts Tagged ‘technology’

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.


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

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.

Wired For Action. Now What?

July 1, 2010

For whatever set of reasons this year, the NHL and NBA kicked off free agency on the same today-today.  Now while most of the sports minded NYC folks are focused on where’s LeBron James is going-will it be Knicks, Nets or much to everyone in NYC’s dismay elsewhere-I’ve been focused on NHL free agency.  Are the Islanders really only a big defenseman and back-up goalie away from NHL relevancy?

So I muddle through my morning commute with all the LeBron talk–and now I am in the office and raring to go.  My Twitter bud BD Gallof has his excellent site Hockey Independent primed for action.  And over there is another Twitter (and I met him a long time ago when I worked for News 12) bud Chris Botta who once worked for the Islanders and now is a writer covering the NHL for Fanhouse and keeps a really good all things Islanders Blog up and running on my computer at work along with my Tweetdeck.

Now all I need is word that Eric Nystrom is coming home.  Aaron Asham or Andy Sutton will get a return engagement in Uniondale.  Garth Snow spent some of Charles Wang’s money to bring in Jordan Leopold (of all the moves this is the one I was hoping for, but was least likely to happen).

So I am all set, raring to go–and what happens?  Well the hated cross town Rangers sign an enforcer to a four-year contract.  The Devils make some nice pick ups.  The Sabers signs Leopold.  Any my beloved NY Islanders?  Nothing.

Now, I am very sure Garth Snow (Isles GM for those uninitiated) is working the phones and “sticking to the plan.”  But still–just once for all that prep it would have been nice to see some good Islanders news go by.

Alas–thanks for a pretty interesting season Marty Biron-we’ll see you on Broadway.  Jeff Tambellini–best of luck in Vancouver.

For those left waiting for the Uniondale crew to make a move–its nine days until the mini-camp game at the Coliseum and then a little more than two months until the puck drops.

OK-back to baseball.  Lets go Mets.

A Look at the Future

March 11, 2010

This post is a week or so late, but I think it’s a case of better late than never-and its my blog so I can make the rules.

I spent a day last week doing my best not to lecture three journalism classes at my alma-mater Hofstra University.  The subject matter was social media and how it fits into the day-to-day of a modern journalist.

I was also able to get up onto one of my favorite soap boxes and tell students that it’s not enough to know the news and how to report or tell it–but they have to know the industry they are going to work in.

I think its a great time to be in media-because the industry is changing so quickly.  To be a leader though you need to understand the playing field, know who the decision makers are and not just be on the wave, but be ahead of the wave.

The good news for the future is-I think most of the kids in the three sections I spoke in front of got the message.

So when these kids graduate into the industry they’ll know why retrans is such an important issue, they’ll know who to reach out to and perhaps more importantly they’ll know how to use the tools available now and the ones that are emerging to their advantage; both as story tellers and professionals.

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.

You Want Audience, You Got It. Now What?

June 12, 2009

I am admittedly fascinated by this development today.  YouTube is now leveraging Twitter and Facebook connect. That is a mass audience.

Now what?

So three of the biggest social media brands are now interconnected.  Its nothing new that Facebook and Twitter worked together. I have been updated my Facebook via my Twitter for more than a year now.  In fact, I use HelloTxt to update MySpace, BrightKite, LinkedIn and more. (feel free to follow me on any of those places)

But today, was huge-its true interconnection.

But now what?

What is the business model? In social media circles these are top tier brands.  YouTube, FaceBook, Twiiter. I would argue anyone reading this–and there are a pretty good number per day checking in here (that is a whole other story) have at least one if not all three of the aformentioned accounts.

But what is next? Its three brands with narry a business model–and there in lies the problem. What are they to do? Either seperate or apart?

It been my belief for some time now that traditional banner advertising is not the answer.  The monetization (read business model) comes when there is an understanding of how one of the three lynch-pins affects the other two.

Earlier today I saw this link via Twitter, but ignored it on Facebook. But the vidoe is on YouTube.

So in my network (1100 or so on Twitter and 550 or so on FB) it took a while for it to sink in and make it something I should watch–and you should too it pretty fucking funny.

That aside, its how the networks inter-relate with one another and then further how they relate with the end user that will make each distinct, vibrant and complimentary.

Not sure I have the answer–but I hope I have the direction.

Of Mainstreaming, Shark Jumping and Building Community

May 25, 2009

Let me offer a quick glimpse into my newspaper reading habits to set the stage for this blog.  I get the NY Times everyday.  For every other newspaper I read its either on line, more likely on my BlackBerry or N95 or specific articles called out on Digg or Social Median.

Now its not unusual to find an article about Twitter in the NY Times.  In fact lately its unusual not to find an article about Twitter in the NY Times.  On Sunday’s during the off-season for my beloved New York Islanders, I like to make sure I read Newsday. Generally, that is the day where the home-town paper of the Isles will fold in some off-season coverage.  And this is a big off-season for the team (number one draft pick etc).

So imagine my surprise to see Barbara Barker writing on athletes who Twitter.  Now I am not sure why I was so surprised–probably has something to do with why I don’t get Newsday anymore at home, and why I only check for Islanders articles on Sundays–its just not a great read (with all due deference to my friends who pound the keyboard bringing the NY metro the paper on a daily basis).  

Next stop for me on my BB was the NY Post.  Kevin Kernan-whom I do not know, but writes a good sports column jumped on the Twitter bandwagon.  Again, I am not sure why I am so surprised by this–I think in this case its more that I have a hard time seeing Kevin Kernan using Twitter-much less commenting on it.  

To be clear, I have no idea if Barbara or Kevin are prolific users of Twitter. Although I will find out about Barbara, as I am not following her.

But the placement of these two stories in NY metro area tabloids made me think about the argument that many of the early adopters of Twitter (I am coming up on two years of Twittering) that Twitter has jumped the shark.

Now this is a reference to my childhood (think mid-to late 70’s Happy Days).  Remember when the Fonz jumped the shark?

This has become a term ubiquitous for TV shows hitting their downside.  As someone who saw this in real time–and was the target audience, not someone looking back at media history, I can tell you it was pretty effective.  It was a cliff hanger for the 8-12 demo.  The storyline was something we all talked about for a week, waiting for the next episode to see if Fonzie could pull it off.  And by the way, Happy Days was the number one show in Prime Time for the next six seasons, so I am not sure the metaphor actually works accept with selective amnesia.

But that is not the point here.

The point here is the critics who say that Oprah joining Twitter, or the Hollywood elite using Twitter–but having someone in their entourage post their Tweets, or seeing stories about Twitter in the NY Post or Newsday is mainstreaming this thing that we do, and now Twitter may have jumped the shark.

Jumped the shark? Because the community is growing? Clearly no one is actually listening to themselves in making the argument right? How can a social network jump the shark because people are using it? Isn’t that the point?

So, I say welcome Barbara, Kevin, the sports stars you both highlighted and anyone else–even the Fonz.  Its what makes this actually kind of fun-now I am following Barbara, Danica Patrick and Nate Robinson–that’s not all bad for a lazy Sunday, right?

–update May 26–

Right after posting this came word of a Twitter based TV show.  Now, Twitter has denied that the show will be about Twitter, still have to wonder about jumping the shark now.  I can envision a show with clues and perhaps communication 140 characters at a time.  Would be a great way to work in audience particpation as well–I am actually kind of happy that the Twitter based show appears to be more of a rumor though.

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