Tag Archives: Facebook

What’s a CD? Top 10 signs you’re dealing with a digital native.

digital native jokes

I recently took a train ride with David Polinchock (@polinchock), a technologist I had met over decade ago through James Andrews (@keyinfluencer) when I was still in private practice.

David was part of the Entertainment Technology Center, a division of Carnegie Mellon’s research arm that sought to leverage academic brain power with business.

Back then, we launched a sponsored research project to develop the DigiBoxx, a self-serve kiosk for music, where you could refill your iPod or MP3 device with music on the go.

This was 2003 (or ’04) long before the arrival of multi-gig devices capable of storing buttloads of music.

And while we didn’t have license the first to address all those pesky copyright issues, we did develop a working POC and that was a start.

Fast forward to 2015, and David and I are still pushing the envelope.

No longer the bright-eyed optimists, we chatted nonetheless about how far technology had come and what we saw on the horizon.

When the conversation turned to our kids, he talked about his daughter’s Digital Natives presentation at SXSW.

Come again? Say what?

Apparently, he had pitched SXSW to stop talking to old fogie stogies like us about technology and have actual digital natives – who only know the world of gadgets  speak from their unique perspective.

I was simultaneously offended, envious, and intrigued.

Who the fuck are you calling old?

I love SXSW. Why can’t I go?

Why aren’t my kids presenting at SXSW?

When I finally worked through my mixed emotions, I tuned back in to hear him describe a world view he gained listening to his daughter and her co-presenter.

Oh right…..some 12 or 13 year old child prodigy who builds his own computers co-presenter.

This is the era of Digital Natives.

Talking to David made me think about how technologically different the world is for today’s youth than it was for any other generation.

We’re not so far removed from floppy discs, but kids today only know USBs.

Their Boost mobile starter phones have more computing power today than desktop computers in most financial institutions a decade ago.

But rather than drone on endlessly about what digital natives are and are not, I figured I’d grace you with one of my top ten lists.

Here are the top ten signs that you’re dealing with a digital native.

1. They’ve never bought a CD. It’s not that they’ve never purchased music. They just don’t need all the bells and whistles of album jackets, jewel cases and shrink wrap. Long gone are the days where you rushed to the store to cop an vinyl album. Then went 8 tracks. Then cassettes. CDs are media evolution’s latest victim. Digital natives get their media the minute it comes out – online. And if they do buy it, it’ll be on iTunes.

2. Netflix is their Blockbuster. Remember rushing to Blockbuster to rent the latest hit movies on DVD? Digital natives don’t. In fact, they probably don’t even know what a Blockbuster is. Digital natives dial up their movies on Netflix or Hulu or HBO Go. Maybe they hit a Redbox (to give their parents that nostalgic home movie watching experience). But watching movies at home (or on the go) is a digital streaming experience.

blockbuster-closing-041210-webjpg-7775ba2fdd8fda15

Good riddance to you sir!

3. Screens are keyboards. Digital natives know only the world of touchscreen inputs devices. They tap not type. They text 50 wpm using just their thumbs. When I was in high school, I took a typing/word processing class. The target was 50 words per minute, and you were considered expert if you typed above that. Today, the screen on a mobile device is the equivalent of a keyboard and digital natives feel right at home typing – I mean tapping – away on their screens.

4. They’re OS agnostic. Digital natives are equally versed in iOS and Android. Unlike the old guard, they take no sides and have allegiance to the device that meets their needs in the moment. Today it’s more about utility than brand. If it works right, they’ll buy it. Brand be damned! Hence competition between device makers remains fierce.

5. Google is a dictionary. Digital natives Google everything. When I was a kid a dictionary and the encyclopedia were how I figured things out. Didn’t know how to spell a word or it’s definition? I looked it up. Want to know the capital of Kazakhstan? I looked it up – it’s Astana – BTW. Digital natives simply Google it. Can’t spell? No worries, Google will offer you the correctly spelled word as an option.

6. Apple radio station. ITunes is dead. Today, your iPhone has Music. No more iTunes. Digital natives live in a Beats Music+Apple world – which you get free for 30 days BTW. Pandora, Spotify, SoundCloud, MixCloud, and countless digital radio stations have made it such that terrestrial radio stations hold low sway over digital natives, who configure and share their own playlists and find artists through underground videos on the interwebs.

apple-music

7. Emoji is a language. When my kids got their mobile phones, virtually every text message included emojis. Not just one mind you, but streams of smiley faces, tear streaked to connote laughter, thumbs down to express disagreement – you get the picture. Emojis are in such high demand with digital natives that whole marketplaces developed for Facebook and Apple who both saw fit to add a bunch more to their keyboards.

emojis

8. Everything swipes. Tinder, Fruit Ninja, Zillow, everyone uses swipe navigation to streamline the digital natives’ user experience. Swipe navigation makes using mobile devices seamless allowing them to engage content in increasingly sophisticated ways. And as 3D technology and AR move content off screens into 4D space, digital natives are primed to creatively leverage these applications.

9. Gaming as a social activity. If you’re a parent, you want your kids outside getting exercise, socializing and interacting with other kids. For digital natives, gaming is social. Most gaming systems (and virtually all computer games) let you play against other gamers virtually. And with immersive VR worlds and Google Cardboard, you can still be outside inside.

10. Multi-taking is the norm. Digital natives are comfortable using multiple screens simultaneously. Measuring how many screens a viewer uses while watching a program is a thing marketers track and want to know because digital natives rock multiple devices as matter of course. This always on always accessible characteristic defines digital natives.

digital multi-tasking

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5 Resolutions to make Your Brand more Social in 2015

2015_loading

It’s that time of year again, where folks publicly state the things that they are (or aren’t) going to do in the upcoming year.

Cats resolve to do everything from losing weight, getting organized, finding a new job, drinking less, to saving money, eating healthier or reducing stress.

By and large, we make personal or individual resolutions, but very rarely do we devote this type of attention to our brands. But if  you think about it, was 2014 a stellar year for your brand? Aren’t there things you wish you had done better last year?

I’m sure there are.

But you didn’t.

In fact, you probably couldn’t have been more social because you don’t know what you were doing wrong.

Lets think about this for a moment, shall we?

Your Facebook page could have been more engaging. Right?

Right.

You probably could have posted more on Facebook, uploaded more flicks on Instagram, responded to more people who commented on your blog, or reciprocated more follows on Twitter. Right?

Right.

To be plain, you could have been more social.

But you weren’t.

Worry not my friend!

Here ere are five resolutions to make your brand more social in 2015.

Resolution No. 1. I will go mobile this year.

Mobile. Mobile. Mobile. Did I say “mobile?”2015 will be the Year of Mobile. Brands who adopt a mobile-first approach, will far outpace those which fail to accept the fact that the mobile is the sweet spot for brands – especially in the retail and self-service industries. Mobile is the primary means through which folks are getting online, browsing and making discrete purchase/payments. With Apple Pay, PayPal, Google Wallet and other mobile payment platforms, it’s the key to unlocking tight sales and generating revenue across screens.

One brand that has taken the importance of mobile and social to heart is Williams-Sonoma. The Williams-Sonoma family of brands, which include Williams-Sonoma, Pottery Barn, pottery barn kids, PBTeen, West Elm and Mark and Graham, have embraced mobile with mobile web properties that are simple to navigate and resulted in expansive growth of their brands online. In their annual report, Williams-Sonoma cites e-commerce as their “fastest growing business” and a “significant part of their sales success.” Other brands should look to companies like Williams-Sonoma, to see how mobile can be effectively leveraged in 2015.

Resolution No.2. I will implement a loyalty program.

Loyalty is becoming increasingly valuable to users who are looking to stretch their dollars. Who doesn’t want to be rewarding for spending money on the brands they patronize? More importantly, in this “look at me” world we live in, folks are quick to share that free coffee they just earned on Starbucks on Facebook (or Twitter) or invite friends to take advantage of a special offer (especially if it means they can earn more loyalty points for doing so).

Loyalty is especially important in the retail space. When the price of an item is virtually the same regardless of vendor, loyalty is sometimes the difference between making the sale or not. Best Buy has a particular good loyalty program, which rewards patrons for spending with them. Best Buy customers earn points for every dollar they spend, which can be redeemed for reward certificates. Loyalty members also qualify for discounts, free shipping and hosts of other special promotions. Starbucks, Sephora and Walgreens each have loyalty programs that reward customers who enroll.

Resolution No.3. I will use text messaging to engage.

Mass push notifications (aka text messaging) are a rudimentary, but effective way of interacting with your current or potential customers. Even though it seems counterintuitive in this age of smart phones, apps and responsive mobile sites, texting is still effective for reaching millions of mobile users who relish the quick tidbits of information that can be shared in 160 characters or less. One great thing about text messages is that, in addition to their brevity, you can embed links, which will let the user access greater detail, if they want, with a simple click.

Beyond the ability to broadcast messages to large numbers of people simultaneously, text messaging is far less intrusive than email, as users opt-in to receive them. Thus, there is a far greater likelihood of your messages being read and acted upon. There are a number of brands effectively using text messaging to engage with their audiences, including retailers like Abercrombie & Fitch, Bed, Bath & Beyond and Aeropostale. Each of these brands understand the importance of text messaging, alongside their other targeted marketing efforts.

Resolution No. 4. I will use social media more.

Instagram has become the de facto platform to connect with this social demographic. But Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest and Google+ (among others) still have a place with millions of users. This year, resolve to connect with your audience across multiple SM platforms. Even if you’re not creating unique content for each channel, at a minimum, make sure you’re broadcasting across all of them.

In 2014, brands like Fiat, Jockey and Burton, all made effective use of social media. By focusing on greater engagement, thoughtful campaigns and a commitment to truly using social media platforms, these brands were able to connect with and grow their respective bases in 2014.

Resolution No. 5. I will refresh my content regularly.

There is no worse sin in social media than stale content. Something new happens every day, so there’s no reason for your content to be static. Whether it’s a new sale, coupon, discount, store opening, product release, acquisition, whatever, updating your website or social media profiles with the new is always a good look for your brand. More importantly, by regularly refreshing your content, you give your users a reason to visit your site, social media space, or mobile app frequently.

I’m not talking about being social for social’s sake.

There’s nothing to be gained from spending all day on Facebook (or any other social media platform) if there’s no appreciable ROI.

I am talking about leveraging social media to enhance your brand and strengthen the ties that bind you with your current and potential audience.

As customers become increasingly more mobile and social, adopting a strategy that accepts this as a starting point becomes critical to the success of any initiative.

If you’re struggling to figure out how to adopt of develop a more social strategy or implement mobile effectively, or if you have any questions, feel free to drop me a line or leave a comment.

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Hello, Ello? I hate Facebook too! Where’s my invite? UPDATE!

ello

I’m sure by now you’ve heard of the anti-Facebook social media platform, Ello, that’s been all over the news.

Okay, okay.

I’m slightly exaggerating.

It hasn’t been all over the news.

It launched way back in March (that’s like five years ago in tech years), and has only recently been getting mainstream attention.

Primarily because the CEO, Paul Budnitz, has been making waves with his controversial statements about Big Brother Facebook.

The usual suspects.

The usual suspects.

Oh, wait…you haven’t heard of Ello?

I see that some background is in order.

You’ve probably seen the Ello logo – the eyehole-less black and white smiley face icon that sits atop user’s headshots – and thought, “WTF?”

And you wouldn’t be alone.

Ello is a new social media platform, released several months ago, that lets it’s users post status updates, photos and GIFs, as well as comment on their friends’ posts.

It’s being touted as the antithesis of Facebook, because it has no ads, the mainstay of the social media world.

And a real break from how most social media networks operate.

Their manifesto (called “Manifesto”) clearly speaks to the significance of being ad free.

Your social network is owned by advertisers.

Every post you share, every friend you make and every link you follow is tracked, recorded and converted into data. Advertisers buy your data so they can show you more ads. You are the product that’s bought and sold.

We believe there is a better way. We believe in audacity. We believe in beauty, simplicity and transparency. We believe that the people who make things and the people who use them should be in partnership.

We believe a social network can be a tool for empowerment. Not a tool to deceive, coerce and manipulate — but a place to connect, create and celebrate life.

You are not a product.

But it’s only quasi-free.

Sure, if you’re using the platform “naked,” it’s free.

If you want to add any features, you’ve got to upgrade – to just the features you want, of course – for a fee.

This customization, allowing users to create an Ello page unique to them, is another feature which sets Ello apart from Facebook.

As someone who hates Facebook for introducing paid (or “sponsored” rather) ads into my feed, Ello seems like a breath of fresh air.

Who wouldn’t want to read their friends’ inane drivel devoid of pesky ads clogging up their timelines?

Sign me up!

Oh, wait…Ello is invitation only.

I, for one, am at a complete loss for how I have not yet been invited to take Ello for a test drive.

Earth to Ello!

My 1,015 readers (as of this morning) are dying to know what Ello is all about.

And they shouldn’t have to troll the interwebs or chance upon an article in Mashable, Engadget, Techcrunch, Business Insider, or some other marginal publication, to get their tech news, when I’m all they need read!

Me thinks too much of myself, me thinks.

I digress.

Point is, Ello is staking its claim as an alternative to Facebook.

And the future looks rosy (for now).

Time will tell whether their gambit pays off.

I’ve requested an invitation, and received a reply (letting me know that I’d have to wait).

I was hoping for a "Welcome to Ello" message. Instead, I got this. SMH

I was hoping for a “Welcome to Ello” message. Instead, I got this. SMH

So I’ll give you the inside scoop as soon as I can.

UPDATE

As of 10:31 am EST October 1, I am officially Ello-ed!

Nick Beck is my dude!

Nick Beck is my dude!

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Messenger says your shit is not secure. Now what?

IMG_0663.JPG

Today the interwebs were all a twitter over the fact that Facebook was requiring users, who wanted to message each other via the Facebook app, to download Messenger.

The issue with Messenger, is the fact that by installing the app onto your mobile device, you’re giving Facebook the right to do things that many consider a violation of basic privacy rights.

By way of example, installing the Messenger app allows Facebook to collect data on who you call and the length of the call, the other apps you use and how frequently you use them, the content of text messages and various other on-device activities that have nothing to do with Facebook Messenger interactions.

Among the more draconian things that Messenger will purportedly be able to do, is access your camera and microphone, essentially turning your device into a surreptitious spying device. To spy on you!

I find it humorous that folks are all up in arms over Facebook’s attempts to track it’s users, as if it’s a case of first impression.

The truth of the matter is we’ve long since given up any reasonable expectation of privacy.

The day you visited your first website, you allowed cookies into your life.

Cookies promised faster load times, the instant recall of previously identified preferences, and a host of behind the scenes functions to take place, all to make your browsing experience better – and to know where you browsed (and what you did when you got there).

When you got your first cell phone, you agreed to be tracked.

All those cell towers helped to ensure call quality wherever you went – and kept track of wherever you went.

Today, when you install apps, you agree to let them access you contacts or calendar or Facebook profile, or whatever innocuous piece of information they request.

We think nothing of letting some application vendor post on our behalf, or access the data on our devices.

Instinctively, we click “Accept” and happily tap away on our devices like assimilated members of the Borg.

The outrage we feel about today’s Facebook Messenger revelation is feigned.

Can’t believe Facebook is mining your personal data?

So what do you do?

Update your Facebook status and let all your friends know.

You’re an ass.

If you’re really not trying to have Big Brother in your business, stay off of everything.

No internet.

No cell phone.

No wifi.

No Facebook.

Nothing digital at all.

If you’re not prepared to do that, then STFU about Facebook’s (or any other technology provider’s) invasion of your privacy.

Because privacy in the digital age is a fallacy.

You’re either on the grid, and none of your shit is private.

Or you’re off, and all the privacy in the world is yours.

And “off-the-grid” is relative.

Once you leave your house, you’re subject to the constant glare of the innumerable cameras dotting our city streets, stores, office buildings, gas stations, buses, trains and cabs.

As well as your YouTube crazed citizen i-reporters with camera phones on the ready looking for their 15 minutes of viral fame at the expense of some unsuspecting fool’s gaffe.

Unless you’re prepared to live like someone the run, with burners and throw-away phones, or a hacker, with fake online aliases, and constant IP-masking, accept that cats are collecting data on you constantly – and be good with it.

Today’s takeaway?

If you were among those alarmed by the recent Facebook Messenger revelation, the choice of what to do is really quite simple: red pill or blue?

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Wanna be first at something cool? You better Brabble.


It’s not every day that you’re the first to do something.

That’s especially true in the tech space.

The minute you think you’ve got an original idea or stumbled onto the next big thing, someone drops it or says that they’ve already heard of it.

Got a great idea for a social media network?

Oops! Some kids at Harvard thought about that a minute ago.

And by the time you were up on it, you were far from a first mover.

You were on it – eventually.

And it probably took you a minute before you even were comfortable using it.

The same was probably true of Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, Pinterest and any of the myriad other social media trends that were once obscure platforms you never heard of, and are today the targets of billion dollar acquisitions – if not technology behemoths themselves.

And even though you may not have been there at the beginning, you probably fancy yourself “hip” when it comes to being able to spot and adopt social media trends.

Vine. WhatsApp. Snapchat.

You do that.

You may not have been first, but you were up on it by the time it became vogue.

And you were probably first among your friends or network for some things.

Shoot, I’d heard of Pinterest, but my wife actually put me on.

And now she can’t get off the damn thing.

But I digress.

Anywho, I’m about to put you up on the next ish.

What if you could have Facebook, Twitter, Instragram and Vine/Snapchat in one?

Where you could capture something in the moment.

Tag it up.

Decide who you wanted to share it with.

And post it in an instant.

See who’s posting.

Like.

Comment or respond to directly.

Share.

All from a mobile or web dash.

Well now you can.

It’s called Brabble.

And it’s barely a year old.

So you’re not exactly first first.

But you’re damn near close.

And it’s that next thing.

Trust me.

“What do you know Stephen? You couldn’t spot a trend if it walked up and bit you on the ass.”

Sure, my bum is a bit tough.

But I knows my nose knows.

What’s so great about Brabble?

It’s just another social media platform like Twitter.

Right?

Wrong!

It’s better, and I’ll tell you why.

For one, think of it as a dashboard.

Even though it IS a social media platform, what it DOES is give you the ability to manage multiple social media activities, within one place.

Sure, you can take a picture with your iPhone’s camera, and email, text or post it to Facebook, Twitter, Flickr or Instagram.

Yes. You can shoot a video and upload it to Facebook or YouTube, and share it.

But once you’re done, your plopped back into your camera or photo album.

If you start from inside an app, say Instagram, and shoot a picture or video you’re stuck where you are.

And the user interface and experience for most social media platforms leaves much to be desired.

Especially on your mobile device.

Buttons are too small.

Items located too close to the edge of the screen are virtually inaccessible.

At the end of the day, you’re simply scrolling through an endlessly loading stream of posts, or pictures.

But not with Brabble.

For one, you start off with a Flipboard-like grid of images.

My Feed

You can elect to view content in either a grid or basic view.

Grid or standard view.

Clicking any image immediately pulls you into the thread of that Brabble (their version of “conversation”)

Second, the UI is basic.

Your primary navigation is found at the bottom of the screen, titled (quite simply) Menu, My Feed, Explore, Notifications and a big “+” sign to add a post (Brabble) of your own.

Like, love, Brabbleback.

Third, “liking” (one heart press/click) or “loving” (two heart presses/clicks), something, responding to or commenting on a Brabble (“Brabbleback”), is as simple as clicking on an icon and typing.

Finally, Brabbling (posting) is also super basic.

Brabbling. I think I just made up a term – must be sure to trademark that.

Hitting the big “+” sign opens up an overlay, with a large dialogue window to enter text, radio buttons you can select if you want to post to Facebook and Twitter, and icons above your dialogue box which lets you select which type of media you want to share with your post (or not).

A simple drop down next to the “Post to..” button lets you select whether to share your content with the World, your Followers, your Friends or Privately.

Brabble overlay

You can even save your posts to your Feed to send later.

This is not to say that there’s no room for improvement.

If I were going to make any changes to Brabble, they’d be few (and I could live without them).

But if I were, I’d make a persistent footer.

Generally, whenever you’re on the app, the footer is present.

Mine too deep into any individual piece of content, though, the footer goes away.

And you lose your bottom navigation.

If you go back, it returns, but there should be a persistent way to get back to “start” without having to repeatedly hit the “back” button.

It looks like the deeper you go into the app, there’s a transition from native to mobile web pages (which may account for the loss of your footer).

I could go deeper, but you get the picture.

Brabble is a cool app, which seamlessly aggregates all the things you like to do with your mobile device, into one app.

It’s not perfect, but it’s enough to make me take the leap.

And recommend it to all of you (my 42 readers).

I’ve been on the platform for three days now, and it’s pretty cool.

There isn’t a heck of a lot of traffic right now – and if you sign up, consider it part of an extended Beta.

Now go and Brabble, and be the first among your friends to be up on the latest and greatest tech trend.

And remember who told you about it when it tips….

 

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When you’re amazing it shows. Ode to a professional gangsta.

You're packin' a mean piece o' steel, Mister.

You’re packin’ a mean piece o’ steel, Mister.

I know when you read the title of this post, you thought, “Oh here he goes again!”

And on a normal day you’d be right.

I would absolutely be talking about me.

Heaping mounds upon mounds of praise on myself, crowing about how great I am at everything I do, and how the world hangs on my every word.

But today, not so much.

You see, today I’m going to heap praise on someone whom I consider a professional gangsta.

Who, I might add, bullied me into even writing this post.

Listen to me when I talk, y’all.

G.A.N.G.S.T.A.

Her name is Dianne Ramlochan.

And she’s not to be trifled with.

In the almost two years that I’ve known her, she has impressed me as one singularly bent on getting her way.

It’s her way or the highway.

Perhaps it’s the only child thing.

Who knows.

But whatever Dianne wants, Dianne gets.

Case in point, I don’t usually “friend” co-workers and professional colleagues on Facebook.

I like to keep my virtual personal world separated from my real professional one. Ya’ dig?

We can be LinkedIn, and you may get a trickle of the virtual real me from the incomprehensibly-difficult-to-disconnect Facebook/LinkedIn nexus.

Can someone pleeeeaaassssseee tell me how to decouple this bullshit?

But by and large, you’re not peepin’ my personal shit online unless you’re digging.

Somehow, though, Ms. Ramlochan managed to Jedi mind trick me into waiving that work-professional life separation.

Don’t you know I friended this heifer?

And she’s following me on Twitter.

She famously quips about how if ever she can’t reach me at my desk via landline, email, mobile phone or text, she’ll “tweet” me.

Tweet me?

How are you going to be tweeting your project manager?

Have you ever heard of anything so ludicrous?

But that’s this chick.

To her credit, when I met her, she had just been hired to the team of one of the illest executive dudes I’ve come across to date.

No nonsense Anthony McLoughlin.

This dude was like Miles Finch from Elf – except a lil’ taller.

Point was, you didn’t eff with Anthony.

If you did, it was your ass.

And D worked for this dude.

Trial by fire is all I can say.

But then Anthony left for the West Coast, and Ms. Ramlochan inherited his fiefdom of projects, vendors and responsibilities.

And turned us all into her vassals.

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What it felt like to work for Dianne.

Overnight, we went from watching Dianne do all Anthony’s dirty work, to having to do Dianne’s dirty work.

I still get cold chills thinking about the day Dianne took over…

Homegirl is relentless.

RELENTLESS.

She had one word you never wanted to see come across your email.

“Unacceptable.”

That’s all she’d say.

Unacceptable this.

Unacceptable that.

Unacceptable the other.

Unacceptable, and cats would gets to steppin’!

Chills.

But we worked it out.

And in the process, she pushed through a few apps, next gen mobile web, iPad kiosk update, a couple of mobile web and app-specific pilots, and a tablet web project.

She had help, of course (=your’s truly), but it all went down under her watchful eye.

And now, she’s leaving the nest – where she truly learned to abuse fly – to new shores.

Those of Saks Fifth Avenue – heaven protect you (said in a whisper).

To leave a wake of psychologically traumatized victims forge new trails.

Anywho, on the last day of our professional lives together, I bid her adieu in the best way I know how.

Memorialized in my blog.

There, D. I’ve made you famous.

PS Congratulations on your new job!

<

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Why the acquisition of WhatsApp is bad news. Facebook is the devil.

Facebook acquires WhatsAppFacebook is the devil.

So I’d be wary of anything the devil does.

Clearly a company that started off in a college dorm and became a multi-billion dollar company in the span of ten years must be in league with the devil.

If not the devil himself.

How else would you explain Facebook’s meteoric rise to the top of the social media food chain?

Sure, they’ve got millions upon millions of users.

Sure, they extract a pound of flesh from advertisers to hawk their wares to Facebook’s captive audience.

Sure, their IPO netted them a gazillion dollars.

But damn!

Enough is enough!

If you’ve been paying attention, startups on Facebook’s roster are batting zero.

Case in point.

Let’s look at the giant’s appetite over the past decade, shall we?

  • Connect U – shut down
  • Friend.ly – shut down
  • Gowala – shut down
  • Lightbox.com – shut down
  • Face.com – defunct
  • Threadsy – shut down

Suffice it to say, not all acquired companies fare well under Facebook’s oppressive thumb.

And these are just the more public purchases that Facebook has made.

There are scores of others too obscure to mention, scattered across Facebook’s post-acquisition landscape.

Facebook claims that WhatsApp will continue to operate independently, but their track record doesn’t paint a convincing picture of post-acquisition bliss.

And while, Instagram, Branch and Friend Feed are still thriving on-going concerns, who can say when they will cease to please the devil and have their heads lopped off?

Facebook is a fickle beast, no?

I’m just saying.

I use WhatsApp.

I like WhatsApp.

Unlike most of Facebook’s crap, there are no distracting ads or mindless drivel mucking it up.

So you’ll forgive me if I think that Facebook’s acquisition to WhatsApp can’t possibly bode well for me and countless other WhatsApp users.

Sure, the creators of WhatsApp are making out like bandits, but who gives a fuck about them?

My misgivings are not without merit.

It’s happened before.

It can happen again.

I predict that Facebook is either going to scuttle WhatsApp completely or turn it into some ad-laden behemoth that I won’t want to fuck with.

With a track record like their’s, the devil Facebook is not to be trusted.

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Techno zombies beware! You will be assimilated!

Walking down the street.

Waiting for the train.

Standing in line at Starbucks (or Dumb Starbucks).

You’ll see them.

Disembodied.

Half-human.

Staring bleakly.

Wide-eyed.

Faces illuminated.

Tapping furiously.

Oblivious to the world around them.

You know what I’m talking about. Don’t you?

You’re probably not even aware that you may one of them.

Zombies.

Techno-zombies to be exact.

What’s a techno zombie?

I thought I made it up, but the Urban Dictionary describes them as follows:

A person or persons who walk through public areas (shopping malls, sidewalks, etc) text messaging on their cellphones, not paying attention to their surroundings.

My definition is a little more expansive.

In my universe, a techno zombie is anyone whose life revolves around their device. Their every waking hour is devoted to an absolute (or near absolute) obsession with their device.

How do you know whether you’re a techno zombie or not?

Simple: answer the following questions.

When you get up in the morning, do you automatically check your phone or tablet?

When you head out the door, do you reflexively check your phone?

When you’re walking to the train or subway, do you frequently check your phone?

When you’re riding the train or  subway, are you checking your phone?

When you’re sitting in a meeting or on a conference call at your job, do you find yourself checking your phone?

At various points throughout the day, do you find yourself checking your phone?

Do you find yourself checking your phone even when you haven’t received an alert, buzz or notification prompt?

Have you ever experienced the ‘phantom vibration’?

If you answered “yes” to four or more of the questions above, you’re a techno zombie.

And I don’t want to hear that you’re always checking for missed calls.

You’re not that important and who actually calls anyone anymore?

You’re checking for a response to that last text message.

Or the latest Facebook post in your feed.

Maybe you just got an alert from the NY Times.

Or someone invited you to play Words with Friends.

Perhaps it was a notification that someone started following you on Twitter.

Whatever the reason, we have become a people inextricably tied to our devices.

Somehow, insidiously, we have slid from a people who thrive on physical interaction to ones who subsist virtually.

We have become the Borg.

Borg 1

Oh, I’m exaggerating, am I?

Check it.

The next time you leave your office, count the number of people walking down the block with their faces buried in their phones.

Walking and texting is so commonplace that one can navigate an entire city block without ever looking up.

Instead of bumping, pinball like, off other people, eliciting “Hey! Watch where you’re going!s” in your wake, people part like the Red Sea, allowing you to pass unaccosted.

Because no one wants to disturb you mid-text.

The next time you’re on the train, observe how many people whip out their devices and remain glued to them the entire ride.

Gone is the polite banter among riders, replaced by mutes, immersed in tiny screens.

The walking dead.

walking dead

Zombie-like we wander, shunning human interaction for virtual pleasure.

Seeking validation in likes, retweets and shares, instead of in the company of other people.

We have lost our individuality.

Subsisting instead, as part of a large undifferentiated mass of eyeballs, to be sold to the highest bidder.

And what is this collective to which we belong?

Who profits from our lack of individuality?

Facebook? The Government? Microsoft? Google? Apple?

Who knows?

We certainly don’t. Nor do we care.

Today, February 11th, is a rally to protest data collection by the NSA.

How many of us will be there?

How many of us are even aware of the data collection practices of the numerous carriers, apps, websites, and online service we happily sign up for?

Which of us actually takes the time to read the Terms and Conditions associated with using Gmail, or Facebook, or Instagram?

When was the last time you opted out of a request by a third-party app to “post on your behalf” when “signing up using Facebook?”

When was the last time you actually turned your phone off or (even more daring) left your phone at home? On purpose?

With all the data collection being done, hackers lurking around every public wi-fi spot, and swiss cheese privacy policies making your every keystroke fodder for marketers, I’m surprised that more of us are not alarmed at our steady decline into digital complacency.

Rather than fighting to ensure that we safeguard ourselves against the insipid practices of Big Brother, we’re checkboxing our way to our own demise.

And we’re taking our kids down with us too.

We happily hand our children Nintendo DSIs, Kindle Fires, PlayStations and Xboxes and wonder why they’re fat, lazy, with ADHD, short attention spans and don’t know how to socialize with their peers.

While my rant today may seem random, it was inspired by my own personal descent into digital oblivion.

The other day, I found myself staring downward, at my iPhone, as I made my way towards the train.

I had become that which I abhorred!

How often had I cursed the wayward walker ahead of me, bobbing and weaving, oblivious to all else but their precious device?

Imagine my shock to find myself the wayward walker.

When I got home, I took and hid all the kids’ electronic devices in the house, and none too soon.

I realized that my children were being assimilated and I was contributing to the their social demise.

Who knew how much longer I had before I was LOLing with my kids via text and ‘liking’ on Facebook instead of hugging and playing with them in real life?

Take this as a cautionary tale, my friends, before you too end up assimilated…

…or crumpled under the bumper of a car.

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I hate (Facebook’s) Paper. Flipboard, you’re safe.

Disclaimer: I was in a pissy mood when I wrote this. I cuss a lot in this post.
Facebook-Paper-Icon

On Monday, Facebook dropped their latest app, the horribly named “Paper.”

What’s Paper?

Paper is Facebook’s new mobile app which allows users to see their friends’ posts and news stories in a new Flipboard-like style presentation.

Notice I said “Flipboard-like” (aka not original).

Of course, all kinds of folks jumped on Facebook’s dick, proclaiming how great it was and how it was going to revolutionize the way people got their news.

But not me.

I reiterate “Flipboard-like.

Frankly, I was put off by the whole thing.

I’m thinking:

1. Why would Facebook name their app “Paper” when there is already a “Paper” (by 51) a “Paper” (by miSoft) and countless other apps bearing the “Paper” moniker?

2. Do we need yet another Facebook app to get at our Facebook feeds? Isn’t that what the Facebook app is for?

3. Does Facebook think we have nothing better to do with our time than troll through our friends’ news feeds just because the UI looks like a Flipboard?

And “yes” I think in numbered thoughts.

But I can’t really hate in ignorance, so I downloaded their stupid app to allow my hate of all things Facebook to be informed.

Since I prefer to read shit on my beloved iPad, I went to the app store to cop the iPad version.

Typed “Paper” in the search bar and found everything BUT the fucking Facebook app.

There were literally hundreds of apps with the word “paper” in them, none of which were the one I wanted.

Imagine that.

So I went to Safari, found https://www.facebook.com/paper which took me to the iTunes page with the damn app and downloaded it.

The “Details” page indicates that Paper is compatible with the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch, but is optimized for the iPhone 5.

Optimized for the iPhone 5?

What the fuck does that mean?

Shitty graphics on the iPad.

That’s what it means.

Who wants to look at that grainy shit?

Who wants to look at that grainy shit?

Review Stephen. Don’t hate (yet).

Open Paper up on your iPad and prepare to have your vision blur – or appear to blur due to the grainy, pixelated images you’re presented with.

But shitty graphics aside, what’s up with Paper anyway?

Well, the first thing Paper does is play a little promo – quick vignettes of…well…paper, which resolves to the title page of the app.

Then you’re presented with a three (3) slide tutorial, describing how to use paper: “Do this. Then do that. Then this..blah, blah, blah.”

In short, you create your personalized feed by selecting pre-set cards, which you swipe up to add.

To select a story in your feed, you simply swipe up.

And to read that story, swipe up again.

To go back, simply swipe down and you’re back at the start.

Whoopdee.  

Fucking.  

Doo.

So what’s the big deal about Paper?

Well for one, instead of seeing your entire Facebook feed, you’re reading a curated feed.

Oooooooo!

Next, you’re no longer scrolling down an exhaustive page of updates. You’re scrolling – sideways.

Ahhhhhhhh!

And you can pan photos in Paper, giving a panoramic view of your pictures.

Gasp!

Most importantly, instead of opening a new page, when you select an item, your content fills (or recedes from) the page with a swipe.

Swoon!

As a fan of gesture based navigation, Paper is spot on.

Its very intuitive and even the most dense user could figure it out without Facebook’s loud and heavy handed tutorials.

But what makes Paper different from – oh I don’t know – say, Flipboard?

Aside from the Facebook-specific content?

Very fucking little.

And that’s not good for Facebook.

A quick side-by-side comparison will show you why.

Both Paper and Flipboard offer a tiled layout and swipe navigation.

And while they’re each great on design, Flipboard is far better in overall execution, to wit:

  • Where Flipboard provides unlimited topics for customizing your feed, Paper only provides a handful.
  • Where Flipboard allows you to share content widely with other social media platforms, Paper only lets you share within Facebook.
  • Where Flipboard has iPhone and iPad versions of their app, Paper only has an iPhone version.
  • Where Flipboard emphasizes discovery, Facebook focuses on curation (of their own content).

I could go on ad infinitum, but suffice it to say, Paper isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be.

And at the end of the day Paper is really just Facebook with makeup on (minus all the ads).

Do you cop it?

If you’ve got an extra 54 MB sitting around on your device – and you’re a chronic waster of time – sure!

Would I recommend it?

If you’ve got an extra 54 MB sitting around on your device – and you’re a chronic waster of time – sure!

Would I recommend it if I cared about you even one scintilla?

Abso-fucking-lutely NOT!

Take the red pill, wake the fuck up and leave Paper alone.

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