Tag Archives: wi-fi

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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Filed under advocacy, mobile

Mobile phones everywhere and no (free) public wi-fi!

No public wi-fi? For shame! For shame!

Last week, I wrote a post about how annoying it is to attend a ‘digital’ function, where there is no public wi-fi to jump on.

Equally frustrating is when you attend a function, where the conveners publish their Twitter handles or event hashtags, but leave attendees to their own devices to wade their way through spotty and/or inaccessible cellular signals to post updates to their social media accounts.

I’ve been feeling this frustration for some time now, as evidenced by this unpublished rant from Social Media Week 2010:

“Sitting at the Bands and Fans panel hosted by CMJ at Social Media Week and I’m pissed!

Why? You ask. Because there’s no wifi!

WTF!? How can we be sitting talking about the value of Tweeting and staying connected, when there is no f*#king internet connection?!

AARRGH!

I’m just saying. AT&T’s network is crap and I can’t flex on my iPad the way I had intended!

Hootsuite is unresponsive.

Twitter feels like swimming through molasses.

Facebook is kaput!

I am ashamed to be a part of this right now. Ashamed.

Red Bull Space – you should have shame too!

All this great info from J Sider, Marni Wandner, Robbie Mackey and Ariel Hyatt and no wifi!

Booo!”

Needless to say, almost two years later and not much has changed.

Businesses have not adopted offering free wi-fi as a standard.

Even if (as my good friend Rob Underwood noted in my rant last week about the NYC DMC event) the reason for a private wi-fi or an unpublished password is security, when you host one of these functions, setting up a temporary wi-fi network and/or password is a sensible thing to do.

With municipalities across the country looking at implementing free public wi-fi, shouldn’t businesses, retail establishments, cafes, bars and restaurants also look to do the same thing?

How many of we entrepreneurs select meeting spots bases on the availability of wi-fi?

Starbucks has undoubtedly made a butt-load of cash off of folks using their wi-fi (because we know their coffee is…how do you say…crap!)

Anyway, perhaps I’m all sour grapes because I’m on AT&T and their 3G network isn’t worth the technology it’s built on (damn you FCC for interfering with the acquisition of TMobile!!)

Or perhaps, rather, wi-fi is a really important element towards achieving a broader network of connected users and devices.

Whatever the case for adopting a free wi-fi solution may be, know that if I’m coming to an event, and it’s not popping, I’m putting you on full blast!

I feel better.

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Filed under digital advocacy, opinion, rant, Smack talking, technology

Go mobile or go the way of the dinosaur.

Ad & Marketing Industry News

Last night, I read an article in AdAge about how both Google and Facebook were staking their respective futures on mobile, and how mobile was increasingly becoming the foundation of their efforts.

The Marksmen are a production unit ahead of their time.

Since 2005, when I started working with The Marksmen, developing applications that could be accessed and utilized from mobile devices (it all started with the Treo), I knew that mobile represented the future of computing.

Notice I said “computing” as opposed to content consumption or the internet, because with the advent of the smartphone, there are fewer and fewer things that one can do exclusively on a PC that can’t be done on a mobile device.

It was while at DOT.TUNES that I cut my mobile teeth.

From there it was DOT.TUNES, the first mobile application developed for the iPhone BEFORE the release of the iPhone SDK, which allowed users to remotely access their entire iTunes library directly from their mobile devices (even if it wasn’t an iPhone – holla!).

I even did a stint at MX Telecom (now OpenMarket), one of the largest mobile aggregators in the world, to learn about the ins-and-outs of the mobile industry, from the perspective of the underlying technology behind SMS/MMS/PSMS/Wap, mobile billing, etc.

Ever since, I have been preaching about the importance of mobile to anyone who would listen.

I tell virtually all the clients I consult, that they need to adopt a mobile strategy.

Set up a basic SMS service.

Build a mobile version (or mobile optimized version) of your website.

Create a brand specific mobile app.

Do anything to incorporate some mobile elements to your brand identity or risk going the way of the dinosaur.

I’m saying, if Google and Facebook are banking so heavily on it, doesn’t it seem to make good business sense?

They’re only multi-billion dollar companies.

Clearly, there is some wisdom to their actions.

WeHarlem knows mobile. Do you WeHarlem?

Recently, I’ve been speaking with Sergio Lilavois, one of the founding partners of WeHarlem, an interactive e-community for those that live, work or socialize in Harlem.

WeHarlem has launched several innovative initiatives directed squarely at harnessing and applying the power of mobile devices.

They have a social media website, WeHarlem.com, which links residents and local businesses.

In addition, they developed device specific applications, for the iPhone, Blackberry and Android devices, giving WeHarlem users the ability to access all of WeHarlem’s features on-the-go.

One of the most valuable features of WeHarlem’s mobile app, is the Wi-Fi locator, which enables users to find Harlem businesses offering free Wi-Fi in their establishments.

WeHarlem’s strategy involves providing Harlem residents and businesses with bi-directional utility, generating foot-traffic, loyalty and retention.

We’re in discussions right now to help bring businesses even deeper into the fold, by offering services to enable them to more closely connect with their target audiences using mobile and social media technology.

There have been other shining moments, when the strategies I propose actually gain a foothold.

Vincent Morgan, for example, knew immediately that he wanted it all, a mobile version of his primary website and an SMS alert service.

Although he failed in his efforts to dethrone Charles Rangel, he succeeded in rewriting the way candidates utilize the web, social media and mobile in their campaigns.

Anyway, the AdAge article renewed my passion for evangelizing mobile and I will continue to preach the value of mobile to all who will listen!

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Filed under branding, technology