Previous month:
November 2011
Next month:
January 2012

December 2011

We are done changing for technology, technology changes for us

Nes-controllerWe are at a fundamental pivot.  

Until very recently, we changed our lives to use a technology.  

We changed our living rooms to accomodate the TV.  We busted through the walls of our home to enable internet access.  We learned to schedule recordings on VHS and later Tivo.  We added car chargers to our cars.  We even grew caluses and had cramps from using the Nintendo and Atari controlers.

Technology is now advanced enough, that it is changing to meet our lives and usage.

Technology is now on the whole, beautiful.  Interfaces are elegant.  Our technologies know us.  We rarely have to wait while they turn on or dial-in and we don't need to create a new space for it in our homes.  Wireless is replacing wiring and standards like USB are everywhere, making almost all new hardware advance uber-simple.  Voice interaction is even replacing the interruption that was once the text or email message.  Data is making everything customizable and often less cluttered.  

And for ___ sake, design is probably the most heavily debated geek topic.  What has the world come to?  

I don't know that we will live to see a new technology that will warrant us breaking down walls or diggin through bad menus.  I don't know that there is a new technology on the horizon that will drive us to dedicate a room of our house to it.  The first phones, the first televisions, the early internet, early home networks, these were massive changes that enabled brand new, breakthrough worlds.  But in a world where we already have strong connectivity nearly everywhere, and where all new devices are being made to fit the user behavioral needs, will we ever need to change?

5 Social Technology Predictions For 2012

  1. Analog Likes.  Facebook Likes aren't going to limited to the web.  HUGE implications for location and retail.  Liking objects brings Path and Oink and everything else into the Facebook social graph in a new wonderful layer of objects and things.  Oh yeah, and Liking songs and/or TV based on audio recognition - that's going to happen too, but likely in partnership with someone already in the space.
  2. Live Conversation Streams.  Lots of TV stars and producers tweet alongside live broadcasts.  This is going to become an integrated experience featured by broadcasters through live-viewing apps.
  3. Twitter IPO. It's going to happen.  And it will be misunderstood.  On that note, I had rice cakes for breakfast.  Now you know.  Also, Dick Costolo is a very smart guy and I'm convinced that Twitter has another one or two big tricks up their sleave.
  4. Network Analysis Is The New Black.  Sentiment analysis was very 2010.  Visuals will get much nicer and reports will become more business like and less shiny object-like.  Social metrics people will pay far more attention to role of the network in conversation flow.
  5. Mobile.  Everyone is going to take mobile more seriously.  The pace of change here is going to be incredible.  The data ecosystems to support the creativity here aren't quite totally ready for prime time, but this space is going to be wild.


  • Renting Content To Go.  I don't want to own a package of a dozen or so episodes of The Daily Show, nor do I want to stream it.  I want it to work as well as it would on BitTorrent without the illegality and hassle.

Nobody Uses The Web On Tablets

Kindle-FireThere is something fundamentally broken with the web as we know and love it.  It's built in only two viewing modes: Desktop and Mobile.  If only we hadn't come to love the tablet, all would be wonderful.

I regularly use SkyFire on my iPhone and Silk on my Kindle Fire, along with  a host of other mobile browsers.  The web sucks on 7 inch devices.  But this isn't because the devices don't work properly.  It's because our web standards need a third option - Desktop > Tablet > Mobile.

And while we're at it, I think we need a fourth option - distance viewing or as humans would call it "TV".  Our televisions are increasingly web capable, and people want a great couch or lean-back experience.  This distance viewing isn't going to center around text content, or even highly visual still pictures.  But slide shows, music and video belong on the TV.  And websites should be able to reorganize their content for this type of device as well.

I am not a coder, and I don't know what browsers and web developers need to put into place in order to create a better tablet and TV web experience.  I just know that what we have now is pathetically dated.  And I'm ready for more and better.  

How about you?

5 Things That Need To Go Away In 2012

  1. 2012 sadMe Focussed Marketers: This would include anyone who utters the words "people want to connect with brands and be their friends" but has never asked himself what brands he has ever really been friends with.  The answer is very few to none.  Unless he has psychological or social issues.  People don't behave in the interest of marketers unless it is in their own interest.  The world doesn't revolve around brands, and normal consumers are impacted by, but rarely care much about marketing.
  2. Aimless Couponing: Coupons, particularly digital coupons are a means towards an end.  If that end is more interaction, think harder.  Just because it's online or "social" doesn't make discounting or giving away product a better idea.
  3. Yet Another Network: I already have my social network.  I know who they are and how to reach them.  I'm not going to leave a platform unless the platform has a major shortcoming, and the new platform is far better.  That said, just because some new iPhone app is very cool, doesn't mean that most people out there are going to change their behavior.  Platform fatigue is real, and it's here.
  4. Surprise!  Platform Change!:  I am all for surprising users with new and exciting features.  But please do not do this to marketers.  Please don't do this to marketers.  Give public notice of new marketing changes and leave these changes in a "staging" environment for marketers to play with these changes.  Marketers are investing serious money in building solutions for users.  Tech builds and operations cannot turn on a dime.
  5. Lists that predict the end of stupidity.  Some things truly are without end.

And for a bit of fun, here is a litte girl who knows more about this than me.


The Timeless Meaning of Chanukah

6a00e008ddd10888340105369b0230970c-200wiThe story of Chanukah often gets lost in translation. I believe this is party because it is viewed as the Jewish holiday that appears alongside Christmas.  After years of speaking about the real meaning and story of Chanukah to Jewish and Gentile friends alike, I would like to share this post.

Chanukah is above all else a celebration of freedom.  Freedom to from a material culture, freedom of religion and the freedom of a higher purpose.

The REAL Chanukah Story

When the Greeks invaded Israel, they followed the social custom of their time and forced the local residents to adopt Greek culture - music, values, names and religion.  They abolished the Jewish religion and culture, forbidding the study of torah, the practice of circumcision and defiling Jewish holy sites with pagan worship.  Whereas Judaism had been a trailblazing religion in it's focus beyond the physical, Greek ideals focused heavily on the human form.  Greek rulers erected gymnasiums, shrines to the nude physical body.  They used both carrots and sticks to lure Jews away from their identity.  This was not a religious, but a cultural assault.

There was a small group of rebellious Jews named the Maccabim or Maccabees.  These were men of the book, scholars and holy men.  Despite their small numbers and lack of military training, they took on the greatest army in the world in the world's first war fought over philosophical ideals and religious freedom.  Consider - a band of holy men going to war with the world's greatest superpower.  THAT is bravery.  After three years of intensive battle, the few men of faith were victorious.  Mattityahu (Mattathias), the leader of the Maccabim died in battle.  This was not an easy war but with enginuity, drive and faith, a small band of protesters won their freedom.

The REAL Chanukah Miracle

The core miracle of Chanukah was the military victory of the faithful dreamers over their oppressors, the right of the Jews to celebrate their religion in their own land, with their own local culture.  The eight days of Chanukah commemorate the reunification of the Jewish people with our greater ideals - our faith.  If one were to read through the prayers of the day, they all focus on the military, spiritual victory.  The miracle of the oil lasting eight days is generally considered to be the icing on top of the cake.  The oil was that extra kiss from our father in heaven that lets us know if we're ready to fight against the seemingly impossible, he will make the impossible our reality.  In a year defined by the protester, this message rings particularly relevant.

Chanukah is an incredible holiday, one that celebrates so many timeless ideals.  Unfortunately, popular conception of this holiday focuses on the mechanics of practice rather than the values it imparts.

So please, when you celebrate this year with your friends and family, think about the bigger picture.  Don't just eat the carbs and oil.  Celebrate with your children a your generations of parents and grandparents celebrated with their own.  Celebrate our values and meaning that are worth living for, worth fighting for.  Celebrate the sublime potential we all have within us.  Celebrate the power of the dreamer.  Celebrate your family.  Celebrate your faith.  Celebrate your light.

When There Isn't Room For More Social

IphoneWe are fast approaching a point where most normal people do not have any more time that they could spend on social media platforms.  But this doesn't mean that we've reached the end of the road for time spent on social.  We've only reached the end of the road for time spent dedicated to social.

In the broadcast media business, there are industry accepted numbers that appear absurd to normal people.  For example, who spends 5 hours a day watching television?  Apparently you do.  But that doesn't mean that you spend 5 hours a day on the couch.  Rather, it means that the television is on for 5 hours a day, often as background noise or entertainment while you are doing other things such as exercising, folding laundry, cleaning or cooking.  The television is no longer a "destination experience" that must be experienced in all of it's attention-dedicated, high def 3D glory. Rather, the television is yet another source of background noise in our lives.  It's is our ambient entertainment fix.

Social media is quickly becoming both more than and less than a platform.  Social is becoming the ambient thread that connects and joins people, devices, brands, marketers... the world.  Ambient connectivity doesn't demand constant attention, it enables pervasive access.  Passive socialization through platforms like The Washington Post's social reader are creating designed, passive social data and signal.  On-demand social media such as Twitter and the serendipity of location and photo sharing are user initiated in limited bursts of socialization.  This is the future of social.  We are always connected, we just don't need to waste our attention on it unless we need it, until it decides that there is something we should be seeing (such as Facebook alerts).  This is smarter social, this is always on social, this is ambient social.

Humanity has lived parallel lives - one digital and one analog.  The two played off of one another, but it was up to the user to invest the time needed in the digital in order to suppliment their analog.  In the new ambient-social world, we live the experience what is in front of us.  Everything that isn't in front of us is available as needed, and brought to us as appropriate.

We will continue to spend gobs on time on Facebook, Twitter, Blogs and Google+.  The platforms aren't going away and the behavior of social media hasn't reached it's saturation point.  Our active attention however, is fast reaching saturation.  

Market Implications

The implications for marketers and developers are profound.  In the world of ambient connectivity, disaggregated, specialized experiences (reading the news on a newspaper site) must provide social data back to the aggregate platform in order to invite new visitors.  In turn, the disaggregated specialized experiences must find ways to integrated the aggregate platform (such as Facebook) back into their experience - utilizing the tools and APIs of the platform, as well as third party enablers such as Wibiya.  

Most importantly, brands are going to have to orient themselves around their real place in the universe.  Most people simply don't care too much about what marketers have to say, and don't want to be all that plugged into your marketing.  Marketers are going to either have to become more entertaining or offers greater digital utility.  Because simply being there with customer service and promotions is no longer the price of relevancy.

Implications for Humanity

I was recently at a tweet up where a well known Twitter power-user became board with the people around him and went outside to tweet.  We have all seen this in meetings, where the power player in the room ignores the presentation put together for him or her, in order to answer emails on their mobile device.  This isn't our future.

This new dynamic is less about disruptive technology that removes us from the present, and more about a new generation of smarter connectivity - one that ultimatly resembles the past before we had ever digitally connected in the first place. This technology doesn't disrupt our lives, and it doesn't demand that we disrupt our lives in order to participate.  We aren't going to spend more times looking at screens, rather we are going to get better experiences in the time we spend looking at our screens.

Welcome back to the real world.  We've missed you.

This is the world of ambient social connectivity.  Because when computers do the reading and the thinking, we are free to get on with our lives.

Digital Marshal Law, brought to you by...

SOPAClearly piracy is one of the biggest issues facing the American public.  So much so, that piracy justifies the governmental take-down of entire websites due to singular peices of possibly offending content with no due process.  If bills like SOPA are passed, corporations may have the effective ability to create digital marshal law - removing our consitutional and human right to expression without recourse or due process.  

This week we witnessed a thorough disregard for fair use and open abuse of legal process on the part of UMG.  I were Leo Laporte, Tom Merrit, or the team at TWiT, I would be furious.  And so, I have decidedto redact any potentially offensive words from the rest of this ████.

Image a web where ████ and ███████ was the norm.  Where a user posting a comment on this ████ linking to offending content could allow a corporation to tell the government to ████ down this entire blog.  

Freedom of █████ is ███ right.  It is up to ██ to defend our ████, or suffer the consequences of losing ████.

This debate in your hands now.  You could contact your leadership and fight for our freedom. Or you could  ███  █████  ████ ████ ██ █████.  And that's all I have to say about ████.

Caught Between A Rock And An Angry Community

Lowes-stores-closings-2011When I first started working with one of my clients, I had a friend in the social media business who asked me why I wanted to take on a brand that was regularly bashed by so many influencers.  I however, loved the challenge.  I knew the clients could do better, wanted to be better and I knew what we had to do to establish trust, credibility and relevancy with our target community.  Several months later, this approach bore fruit.

Lowe's hasn't had the easiest couple of weeks.  Out of left field, their media buying - something that nobody other than agency people even think about - is suddenly cause for national media coverage and thousands of angry Facebook fans.  Here's the bottom line: decisions were made.  And now Lowe's has to live with those decisions, and the pushback that will come with it.  You can't unmake those decisions or convince the offended public on either side of the debate that the other is correct.  It's a catch 22.

I have always been taught to worry about those items that I can change, and accept those that I can't.  This is the golden rule of crisis management.

The best way for any brand (including Lowe's) to recover is by marching back to first place.  Make those you have wronged feel right as best you can, and then get on with your show.  Demonstrate that you care about your community by engaging them in articulate and meaningful actions and conversations behind the gates with your employees, at retail and online with your customers.  Double down on your core value propositions, such as in-store customer service and a pleasant retail experience.  Focus on your internal culture, creating recognition and rewards for employees and stores that demonstrate your core values.  Most importantly, adapt these core values and value propositions for your broader audience, offering this same level of friendliness and easy to access experiences in your social channels. Go back to showing and telling the world about the things that made your great in the first place.

Believe it or not, a single crises does not define a brand or a brand experience.  As much as those deeply engaged in PR or Social Media want to highlight the hell that is surrounding them right now, it's important that key decisions include a strategy for getting past the past.  A lifetime of inputs go into how the public views and interacts with brands.  One black eye should not keep a good brand down.  Get your ship in order, focus on what makes you you, and make it even better.

Because you can't keep worrying about The Daily Show forever.