Tag Archives: Google

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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Siri take the wheel. Digital life hacking for dummies.

digital life hack icons

I just saw a commercial for the Apple Watch (the device that promises to usher in a whole new world) alerting its wearers to “stand up.”

“Hey you fat lazy bastard! Time to get off your rotund keister and exercise those pathetic extensions you call legs. Stand up!”

As appalled as I was at the thought that folks need reminding (to stand up??!) I had to acknowledge the pure utility of a reminder from your wrist watch to perform important (or mundane) tasks.

You see, I’m all about efficiency.

If there’s a way to do something in fewer steps, shave time or save money, sign me up.

And I’m not taking about being cheap, skimping on quality or reducing efficacy.

I’m talking about shortcuts for improving performance economically, whether it be incremental or exponential.

In the tech world, we refer to such ‘shortcuts’ as hacks, often crude, but effective solutions to specific programming, coding or computing problems.

The concept has moved beyond the binary world to the real one, where these crude but effective shortcuts can be applied to every day problems.

In modern vernacular – life hacking.

What’s life hacking?

Quite simply, life hacking refers to any trick, shortcut, skill, or novel method that increases productivity and efficiency, in all walks of life.

Everywhere you look, folks are life hacking.

Carpooling? Life hacking.

Teleworking? Life hacking.

Bulk shopping? Life hacking.

Virtually every task we perform in our daily lives, from the mundane to the complex, can be life hacked.

But life hacking also applies to our digital lives as well.

There were several early movers in the digital life hacking space, although we probably didn’t consider them as such back in the day.

Hootsuite comes immediately to mind.

Think about it.

Back in the heyday of social media, you had to have an account with everyone to participate in their closed universes: Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Flickr, LinkedIn, etc. – you get the picture.

Keeping up with them all was a nightmare.

Before there was the ability to cross pollinate your feeds with the same information from a single account by connecting them, you pretty much had to log into each one individually if you wanted to post or publish content.

And then Hootsuite came along with their social media dashboard, and you could hit most of your social media spaces from one convenient place.

Life hack.

Or TweetSpinner.

You remember them, don’t you?

TweetSpinner was essentially part CRM, part DM manager, part scheduler and part profile manager.

With TweetSpinner you could manage your followers (and follow folks back), schedule your tweets, update your profile and send broadcast direct messages from one place.

TweetSpinner consolidated four discrete activities into a handy dashboard where at a glance you could assess and manage all your Twitter-related tasks. 

Life. Hack.

Alright Stephen, enough with the digital life hacks of antiquity. What about today?

Well today, digital life hacking is a veritable art form.

And the Apple Watch is at the forefront of this movement.

Sure, there were the earlier movers – the Android watch preceded Apple by well over a year.

And there’s FitBit, Nike Fuel, and a host of other wearables that provided a certain amount of utility to their wearers.

But none holds the promise of the Apple watch for the sheer breadth of potential.

Wait…this wasn’t supposed to be a post about the Apple Watch.

It’s supposed to be about digital life hacking.

And all the ways in which digital tools can help you to life hack with aplomb.

Beyond tracking your fitness progress passively, just by wearing a device on your wrist, this same device can locate your car (so you don’t actually have to remember where you parked), find your phone, pay for your purchase – the list goes on.

But rather than bore you (any further), here are my top 5 digital life hacks.

1password

1Password – in this age of hackers, identify thieves, and wifi spoofing apps keeping your personal information secure is critical. Most people have multiple accounts for the various spaces and places they visit online, each with login credentials. Most people don’t take the time to create different logins for these multiple accounts, opting instead to use the same easy-to-recall password for everything. We know that it’s notoriously unsafe to do that, but who can remember a buttload of different password for all these accounts? With 1Password, you don’t need to. Ever since I downloaded the 1Password app, I’ve felt infinitely safer whenever I have to log into or onto anything online.

paypal

PayPal – as a consultant, getting paid is of the utmost importance. It used to be that you had to send a physical invoice and wait for a check to be cut, usually ‘Net 30.’ If you had a physical establishment, you had a card scanner to take payments at the point of sale. Electronic payments were the exclusive purview of online retailers. But today, PayPal gives consultants like me the ability to send a digital invoice, take ‘point of sale’ payments with a plug in card scanner, and accept online payments.

basecamp logo

Basecamp3 – working on projects with remote teams is always a challenge. Being able to communicate information uniformly and efficiently, share assets, collaborate and share ideas fluidly is critical to the success of any project. Before Basecamp, online collaboration took the form of shared online folders and VPN tunnels to access them. Version control, permissions, visibility and accountability were not standardized and managing projects was fairly complex. Today, things like Evernote, Slack, Google Drive, have made remote team collaboration commonplace eliminating much of the complexity of old. 

mytix

MyTix – We’ve all been here before: You’re queued up in a line to purchase a train ticket from the ticket booth or vending machine, train pulls up and you’re left with the option of abandoning your place in line and purchasing the ticket on the train with a surcharge or missing the train and purchasing the ticket without a surcharge. With the New Jersey Transit MyTix app, those days are over. Rather than having to purchase physical tickets, the app allows you purchase single rides, weekly or monthly tickets for all of NJT’s routes. You can buy tickets for other passengers riding with you as well.

siri

Siri – I used to be very anti-Siri. Why would I want to talk to my phone? If I need to do something on my iPhone, I can simply open the app and perform the activity. Case closed. When I first tried to use Siri, nine times out of ten she couldn’t/didn’t understand what I was saying and the whole process was very frustrating. But then I was exposed to the best practices for using phone assistants and my whole world changed. From setting reminders, scheduling meetings, and getting directions to sending texts, reading text messages, and placing hands-free calls, Siri ushered in a whole new world of utility that had previously been closed to me. Siri put my digital life hacking on steroids building countless efficiencies into my daily routine.

 

 

 

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Five signs that you’re a Fanboy

Have you seen this person? Looked in the mirror lately?

Have you seen this person? Looked in the mirror lately?

With the release of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, the inevitable phone wars have begun afresh.

Don’t act like you don’t know what the phone wars are.

The ongoing comparisons between Apple and Samsung or iOS versus Android.

Invariably, these little skirmishes arise whenever Apple drops a new product (and never the other way around).

But that’s beside the point.

Or is it?  Hmmmm….

Anywho, every so often users on both sides take to the interwebs to pronounce their allegiance to (or disdain for) one side or the other.

Your’s truly is no exception.

I’ve been known to malign an Android owner or two in my day.

No. I don’t own stock in Apple, and no Samsung owner ever kicked my dog (I don’t even own a dog).

“So why the hostility?” you ask.

Well, that’s easy.

Usually, I’ve got a cogent argument supporting my pro-Apple stance.

Sometimes, not so much.

My blind allegiance is often questioned, and I’ve always assumed it was because Apple simply made a better product.

But with the release of the iPhone 6, which is really Apple’s version of the larger Samsung family of devices, the questions of my blind allegiance are….well…valid?

So I’ve done a little introspection and I think I’ve got it.

I’m a fanboy.

Like millions of others, when it comes to anything Apple, I go balls to the wall.

I readily admit my fandom, but others can’t seem to self-identify (as I have).

So today, I’m going to share with you the top five signs that you too, are a fanboy.

1. You wait in line the day a new device drops.

More accurately, you camp out for days leading up to the release of a new device.

Only true fanboys place such importance to being the first ones to own a device that they’re willing to risk their lives, brave poor weather, take time away from the families or jobs to sit on a line and wait.

Will they win a prize?

Receive an award?

Be recognized for their achievement?

No. No. And no.

So why do they do it?

For the visceral feeling they get holding a brand spanking new device that no one else (yet) has. That’s why.

Oh. And they’re fanboys.

hundreds-line-up-in-front-of-an-apple-store-in-central-berlin-germany

Now y’all know you’re supposed to be at work! WTF?!

2. You take pro- (or anti-) device claims at face value.

If anything that Apple (or Google) publishes in anticipation of a release gives you wood and you regurgitate the features and capabilities as fact, sight unseen, you’re a fanboy.

So what you’re getting all your information from the rumor mill?

If Apple says it, it must be true. Right?

town crier

3. You take criticism of your device personally.

Everyone knows that Apple’s battery life is notoriously horrible. Or that Android devices routinely freeze, crash and drop calls.

But if you’re a fanboy, and someone utters a word against your favored device, all you hear are fighting words – and you’re literally ready to fight.

I remember when the Samsung Galaxy GS3 dropped.

Several of my so-called friends copped it and were all ga-ga over it.

I had one of the first GS3s in my office and had a chance to take it for a test drive.

Needless to say, I wasn’t impressed.

I posted a blog with my two cents, and was immediately set upon for posting negative reviews.

I had to unfriend a few folks after that.

iPhone-5-Android-Market

Don’t know why the illustrator decided to cast the Android as the Jedi. Android is definitely the dark side of the force. Hello?

4. You’ve never owned the competing device.

As a result, you’re totally ignorant about what an iOS device or Android can or can’t do.

It’s hard to offer any legitimate critique of a competing device if you’ve never owned one.

But that doesn’t keep fanboys from making far-reaching pronouncements about the inadequacies of the opposition.

Wouldn't you rather hate in ignorance than admire with full information?

Wouldn’t you rather hate in ignorance than admire with full information?

5. You still rock Blackberry.

There is no more profound evidence to the existence of a true fanboy, than Blackberry owners.

Despite the obsolescence (or near obsolescence – they’re clearly on life support) of Blackberry devices for several years now, there are still legions that swear by these blocky, keyboard bearing pieces of antiquity.

blackberry passport

Will the Blackberry Passport help to revive the dying brand? Not likely. But we have a new device to make fun of!

Now if you have any doubt whether or not you’re a fanboy, ask yourself, “When was the last time you owned <input name of device you don’t currently own here>?”

If you can’t remember, you’re a fanboy.

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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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Google Glass isn’t all bad. If you’re a dork (like me).

20131206-095258.jpg

Several months ago, I wrote a post about one of the Google initiatives announced at the developers conference, a wearable computer called Google Glass.

At the time, it was theoretical, and for some odd reason, Google didn’t deem it necessary to either invite me to their developer pow wow OR send me a Beta pair.

Go figure.

But this Monday, a pair showed up at my office and I can confirm, despite the previously reported Yeti-like sightings of Google Glass in the wild (of which I had not witnessed) they are very real.

I could blather on about them, ad nauseam, but the quick and dirty is that Google Glass is an interesting piece of technology that takes a bit of getting used to, but which will go over well with dorks.

Now, I’ll blather on ad nauseam.

To be fair, my assessment of them is based on less than 20 minutes of hands-on testing. There was literally a queue of cats in my office waiting to try them out. So I felt like a hog spending more than a few minutes trying to take GG through its paces. But I made the most of my time and will now share my observations with you.

Because you care so much about what I think.

GG is literally a pair of glasses, with plastic lenses and a small translucent square mounted to the top of the frame of the right lens.

Putting them on is a little weird because they’re not symmetrical. The “fat” side contains all the components, which reside in a wide flat casing, while the “skinny” side is a simple curved metal bar, encased in soft plastic, that clings tightly to your head.

Even though it looks imbalanced, remarkably, GG feels right on your face/head/noggin.

When you first put them on, there’s nothing to see because the device is off. So at first glance, it looks just like you’re wearing a tricked out pair of Oakleys.

But once you turn them on, you know, immediately, that these are no bike riding glasses.

To turn Google Glass on, you simply tap the fat right side gently with your finger or tilt your head up 30 degrees.

Yes. I said “or tilt your head up 30 degrees” to turn Google Glass on. Just be careful if you use this method of activation around brothers (Black men, not male siblings), or they might think you’re giving them “the nod” and be offended if you don’t acknowledge them in return.

Turning on Google Glass pulls up the screen, which is projected in space about five feet in front of you. It’s like augmented reality without the helmet or wrap-around visors.

Now, you’ve got to look up slightly to see the screen because the placement of that little square on the frame (which is essentially what generates your projected screen) places it just above your normal line of sight.

You can manipulate your screen and Google Glass’ functions through both voice and touch. You control items on your screen or the menu using your finger along the side or via a set of simple voice commands. I wasn’t able to utilize the voice commands in the brief period I was playing around with it, but the dev who had them said that the voice commands work well (within the range of commands available).

To scroll up or down, back or forth and left or right, you rub your finger along the touchpad on the side of the glasses. Tapping with one finger selects, using two fingers lets you grab and move objects.

There is a small speaker on the section behind your ear, which projects sound, and it’s clear but low. And there’s also a small forward facing camera that shoots pictures and video.

During my little test run, I accessed Google Maps, watched a video, scrolled through a bunch of web pages and (unsuccessfully) tried to use Google Glass’ voice commands.

And outside of looking (and feeling) like a fucking dork – tilting my head up and down, tapping the side of my head, mumbling in audible commands and staring off into space – they’re not that bad.

I was initially prepared to write them off as a novelty, but I just had a 15 minute chat with the dev dude who got them and he actually had a lot of praise for it. I was skeptical until he told me he was is not an Android dude at all, so his opinion was patently objective.

He’d been rocking Google Glass for a week, and as a result, had a slightly more informed perspective than my 15 minute run. But just slightly.

We discussed my assessment and critique of how Google Glass makes you like a dork because you’re always looking up. Beyond that, your virtual screen is projected against the world behind it. So if you’re using Google Glass and you’ve got a funky background (bright lights, lots of traffic, etc.) it takes a minute for your eyes to adjust to all the BS/noise and focus on the screen.

When I gave him my assessment, lampooning its shortcomings, his response was that the field of view is intentionally placed above your line of sight so that you’re not looking at the screen on top of your natural field of view. The point of its placement was to avoid creating a distraction for the user or having to compete with visual background noise.

I had to concede that his argument made sense. And then I kicked him in the shins and cracked on his momma.

But that’s not to say that Google Glass gets flying colors. Google’s got work to do to get Google Glass ready for the major leagues.

A friend of mine suggested that Google Glass would be great for watching porn in mixed company, and while I initially thought that they were onto something, having rocked and witnessed others wearing them, I realized that Google Glass does have some limitations.

For one, there’s the issue of the voice prompts. Dev dude was able to execute several commands fairly easily when it was one-on-one, and when traffic and ambient noise was low. When many of us were milling about, buzzing and cackling, his attempts at controlling Google Glass through voice commands were an absolute fail. And my name “Stephen Chukumba” spoken into Google search, returned “Stephen Takuma” – although it could have been the dev dude’s Korean accent skewing the results.

Next, if you’re looking directly at someone wearing them, you can see the images projected on the small translucent square in front of the lens. Sure, the image is about a quarter of an inch big, but it’s a crystal clear quarter of an inch image, which is clearly not conducive lascivious content viewing.

And finally, even though the volume on the speakers are low, it’s still slightly audible if you’re within a few feet of the wearer. So the grunts and groans of true porn thespians is perceptible but those around you.

Anyway, as I digress into porn, I realize this post has gone on long enough.

My point is that Google glasses is still a work in progress.

Final analysis?

Google Glass is here.

You’ll look like a dork if you rock them.

But if do happen to get a pair, you’ll be a happy dork.

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Peer-to-peer. The (past and) future of social.

morpheus

Do you remember Morpheus?

How about Bitorrent?

Who can forget Napster?

Why am I asking about obscure software companies?

Peer-to-peer, that’s why.

These now mostly-defunct software companies were trail blazers, the precursors to modern-day social media networks.

What’s peer-to-peer?

Only the most important thing in the world, that’s what!

Wikipedia describes peer-to-peer networks as follows:

peer-to-peer (P2P) network is a type of decentralized and distributed network architecture in which individual nodes in the network (called “peers”) act as both suppliers and consumers of resources, in contrast to the centralized client–server model where client nodes request access to resources provided by central servers.

In a peer-to-peer network, tasks (such as searching for files or streaming audio/video) are shared amongst multiple interconnected peers who each make a portion of their resources (such as processing power, disk storage or network bandwidth) directly available to other network participants, without the need for centralized coordination by servers.[1]

When you think peer-to-peer, it probably conjures up images of networks of interconnected servers, passing digital files between them.

And you wouldn’t be far off.

The internet did start off as a collection of interconnected computers, sharing data, after all.

But I’m not talking about the hardware (or software) itself.

There’s more to social media than file sharing.

Don’t get it twisted.

Social media is about sharing.

Whether its a gif, photo, video, song or simply information, social media is THE way information gets disseminated online.

But that’s just one part of the equation.

The bigger issue are the peer networks – the underpinnings of social.

pure peer network

At its core, social media relies heavily on peer networks.

Nodes exerting influence on and over one another.

Without the cooperation necessary to allow one computer to access another, peer-to-peer networks would never have come to be.

Similarly, social networks work because of the inherent trust that exists between people.

Even if only loosely.

For the most part, being connected to someone (in a social media context) is like being vouched for in the Mafia.

You’re vetted by who you’re connected to.

The more connected you are, the more trusted you’re perceived as being.

Sure, social media is (somewhat of) a popularity contest.

But online, this popularity translates into trust.

Or credibility, rather.

I feel like I’m rambling.

There was a point to make in there somewhere…

Oh right!

Social has its origins in peer-to-peer networks.

Think about Facebook.

It was originally designed as a peer-to-peer network of Harvard students.

Now it’s a collection of numerous peer networks.

And all other social networks work in much the same way.

LinkedIn. Twitter. YouTube. Instagram. Pinterest. Google+.

As soon as you set up your account, what do you do?

Find and follow all your friends.

The folks most reach out to first are invariably people you already know.

Not to say that we don’t extend our virtual reach beyond the safe confines of people we know.

But when we do, there are usually less than six degrees of separation between us.

What was the point I was trying to make again?

Oh yeah…peer-to-peer networks are the underpinning of all modern day social networks.

If you’re interested in building a successful social network presence, focus first on your peers.

Those people closest to you, who you can rely upon to follow you, like your content and share.

Without a whole bunch of cajoling, bribery and/or sexual favors.

Once your peer network is in place, the sky’s the limit.

Or at least getting that next batch of friends/likes/followers won’t be quite as difficult.

Note: If this post comes of as rambling and incoherent, that’s because it is. But read it, re-read it, and re-read it again. It will eventually make sense.

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Best of the Best. The Webby Awards.

The Webby AwardsDid you catch the Webbys?

You know, the annual award show that celebrates excellence in the internet?

Well not excellence in the internet, but excellence of the internet.

Actually, it’s not just of the internet.

It’s websites really.

And interactive advertising and media.

Also online film and video.

Oh yeah, and mobile apps too.

And social web, I think.

Let’s try this again.

The Webby Award honors exceptional work on websites, interactive advertising and media, online film and video, mobile apps and social web.

The New York Times calls The Webbys “the Internet’s highest honor.”

I think this means it’s a big deal.

In it’s 17th year, The Webbys brings together some of the most innovative and creative minds to pay homage and acknowledge some of the tremendous work being done in the online, social media and interactive space.

For we geeks, it’s like the Oscars of the online and interactive world.

Win a Webby and you are somebody.

This year’s Special Achievement honorees include Steve White (“JIF” not “GIF”) Frank Ocean, Kevin Spacey, Grimes, Obama for America 2012, Chris Kluwe and Tribal DDB Worldwide, among others.

And nominees ranged from Funny or Die to The Onion, Mashable to Tumblr, Google to Ted Ed – and everything in between.

If you’re unfamiliar with The Webby Awards, it’s all good.

It is a thing of geekdom.

And unless you’re into the internet, mobile, apps, advertising or social media, you probably don’t care.

And that’s cool.

But if you’re interested, The Webby’s gives out over a hundred awards each year, to the best and brightest among us.

Yes. I included myself in the running for “best and brightest.”

Don’t trip.

Each year, two awards are giving out  in various categories: The Webby Award and the People’s Voice Award.

Winners of The Webby Award is selected by the members of The International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences.

While the People’s Voice Award winners are selected by the people, via online voting.

Now if you visit the site, you will be overwhelmed.

There are over one hundred different categories and the page of the website listing the winners and nominees scrolls endlessly.

So here are my faves:

Mobile Advertising

Best Use of Social Media

Media Streaming

Best User Experience Tumblr

Web Services and Applications

There were infinitely more categories and winners.

And as I was going through them all, I realized that it was better to simply give you the link to check out the full site, winners and nominees for yourself.

I know, I know.

I originally said that you’d be overwhelmed if you visited the site.

But I was getting overwhelmed, and we can’t have that.

I’m just saying.

There are loads of videos, memes, and content galore, so give yourself a chunk of time to go in.

It’s taken me two days to get this out, just because I took such a deep dive.

And I couldn’t figure out what to write about.

It was all so compelling.

Especially all the mobile stuff.

Nerdy right?

Whatev.

So, if you want to know what the most amazing web, online, social media and interactive stuff of 2012 was, peep The Webby Awards site.

If not, kick rocks!

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Be the Brand. Tips from the (pseudo)master.

Note: This post was originally published August 25, 2008. But it’s so good I just had to reblog. Enjoy.

be-the-brand

I’ve written other blogs on other topics before, but never with the sense of purpose I have today.

Not to say that I’ve never had a sense of purpose in the past.

But I feel singularly inspired to write this blog because its all about me.

‘Who am I?’ you ask.

Entrepreneur. Brand strategist. Technology evangelist. Marketing maverick. Biz dev specialist. Trend setter.

I’m the guy who tells you like it is, whether you want to hear it or not.

To put it simply, I’m that dude.

You know who ‘that dude’ is.

He’s the guy that everyone acknowledges (implicitly or explicitly) when he walks into the room.

The one that you’ll remember years after you’ve met him.

The one that everyone aspires to emulate.

The one with the aura, the gift, the presence.

He’s that dude.

We all have ‘that dude’ in us.

It’s that aspect of us that tells really funny jokes.

Or knows how to solve complex equations in our heads.

Or has ability to remain cool in the face of difficulty.

The ‘go-to’ guy when things really need to get done.

Being the brand is the act of cultivating the ‘that dude’ in all of us.

I want to demonstrate the power of my mantra, ‘Be the Brand,” using myself as a living case study.

I’m not particularly famous.

If you Google “Chukumba” you’ll see about 27,000 results.

Add the qualifier “Stephen” and that jumps to about 37,000.

Not bad, but nothing really if you consider the 37 million results generated by searching for the term ‘Oprah’ or the 40+ million generated by searching the term ‘Donald Trump.’

Oprah and Trump are classic examples of iconic figures with huge brand recognition.

When Oprah Winfrey started O Magazine, people said, “She’s so vain. Why does she need to be on the cover of every issue?”

I thought, ‘that’s brilliant!’

What better way to promote your brand than to put your face on everything you put into the stream of commerce?

Oprah didn’t become a billionaire by promoting other people (although she has made quite a few people rich from her promotional prowess).

She promoted herself.

Similarly, when Donald Trump started ‘The Apprentice’ people thought “Who does Donald Trump think he is?”

He’s practically bankrupt!

But Trump is a perfect example of the value of self-promotion.

Love him or hate him, you’ve got to deal with him because his face, his properties, and his brand are everywhere.

Despite his well publicized failures, you’ve got to concede his staying power and presence are indomitable.

There are countless others who fit the Oprah/Donald Trump mold, both famous and unknown.

I include myself in their ranks, and I am going to prove that anyone can be the brand, if they want to be.

Being the brand is a perspective that allows you to define yourself and your world-view in a way that sets you apart from the crowd, but without thrashing others in the process.

So stay tuned to see what I’ve got to say.

I’ve got a lot to say-I’m quite verbose.

Hopefully, you’ll come away with lots of good advice.

And at least it’ll make for some interesting reading!

Now go be the brand!

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It’s a digital world. Why are you still analog?

analog vs digital

We are a digital generation.

Our lives are inextricably intertwined to technology.

Wherever you look, there are signs of the digital era.

Think about the last major storm or natural disaster you heard about.

Mobile phones and Twitter were how most people first reported or got wind of them.

That’s powerful.

If you look at your own behavior, you’re checking your email, text messages or social media accounts on your phone.

These activities didn’t exist a decade ago.

There was no Facebook, YouTube or Twitter.

Smart phones were still several years away from being mainstream.

Or affordable.

But today, things have changed.

Smartphones, social media, texting, instant messaging, wifi.

We can’t imagine living without them.

See something interesting? What do you do?

Whip out your phone, take a snap or shoot a video and post.

Can’t remember the name of song on the radio? What do you do?

Dial up the Shazam app on your phone or Google the lyrics.

Need directions? What do you do?

Hit up MapQuest for turn-by-turn directions.

Why am I going into all this?

Because for all the advances that are taking place in technology, I still hear people say “why do I need this or that” and it drives me absolutely bonkers!

I was in Miami for a few days, and I came across (yet another) brand, a hotel, without a mobile website, app or any form of social media.

When I started talking about all the reasons why they should have any one (or all three) of these things, they pashawed me like I was talking gobbledygook.

They went on and on about how their demographic used computers.

Wouldn’t use mobile phones to make reservations.

Weren’t on Twitter or Facebook.

And have no need for an app.

Despite my eloquent arguments to the contrary, they gave no ground.

It was only when I showed them the mobile site of one of their competitors that the lightbulb went off, and they finally understood what I was talking about.

But it shouldn’t be this way!

How is the digital world growing, changing and advancing by leaps and bounds, but folks are missing it wholesale?

Sure, traditional ways of doing things still work.

Want to advertise a sale at your store? You could take an ad out in the paper.

Or place an ad online.

If anyone sees either, they’ll know that you’re having a sale.

The one who sees it in print will have to get in their car, drive to the store and then check out what’s for sale.

The one who sees it online can go right to your site and check out what you’ve got for sale, right then and there.

If they’re on a mobile device they can browse and buy on the go.

The difference between the two are night and day.

Know ye this: I’m on a mission.

To bring analog cave-dwellers to the digital light.

It’s going to be a long road.

But I’m ready for the challenge.

Analog heathen beware!

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Is Google Glass the future of computing (or a passing fad)?

Google GlassMy colleagues and I are a bunch of (admitted) geeks.

Every day, we share links from Engadget, Gizmodo, TechCrunch and the like.

About interesting apps, techie news, digital trends or hot topics.

A few days ago, someone passed around a link to a promo video for Google Glass.

For the uninformed, Google Glass is Google’s foray into developing a wearable computer.

Unlike the alleged smart watch being developed by Apple, Google Glass is a frame you wear on your face, like a pair of glasses.

Google Glasses

There are no lenses, per se.

Just a small rectangular surface, sitting an inch or so away from the eye, within which sits the Google Glass display.

Google Glass is very limited in its functionality.

From the video demonstration, Google Glass lets you record and playback video, video chat, get turn-by-turn directions, or send a message.

The What It Does part of the Google Glass site seems to suggest that it does a little more than this.

But not much more.

Since there is no keyboard, you’re limited to voice controlled functions.

Now, we can talk to our computers, Star Trek- like, and have them perform increasingly complex functions.

There is a little button on the side, presumably to allow the user to switch between functions.

But beyond that, it’s totally hands free.

When I first watched the video, it reminded me of a GoPro commercial.

It was all about the visuals.

But unlike GoPro, Google Glass allows you to do more than just record video.

You almost forget about the little screen in the top right corner, because your field of vision is right in front of you.

And that got me wondering…

When you’re wearing a pair of Google Glasses, are you always staring up and to the right?

Like you’re thinking about something?

“Do I look like a dork?” perhaps?

My curiosity got the best of me, and I signed up to try out the damn things.

But a happy black chick on the sign up page told me that the applications to try Google Glass were closed.

If you we're so cute, I'd be mad atcha.

If you weren’t so cute, I’d be mad atcha.

I signed up anyway.

I doubt I’ll see a pair in the wild before they’re available for sale.

But one can always hope.

In any instance, it’s definitely got me intrigued.

What do you think?

Is Google Glass the way of the future?

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