October 20, 2011
Iceland's President Olafur Ragnar Grimsson Talks About Lessons Learned
Iceland’s President Olafur Ragnar Grimsson took the PopTech stage in Camden Maine on October 20, 2011, where he discussed economic crises and how to handle them in a way that will ensure long term sustainability of a country. He used his own as an obvious example, which has not only faced economic issues but natural disasters over the past year.
President Grimsson spoke about how he made a choice for his country that would either make farmers, local businesses and individuals take responsibility for their own decisions which would impact the financial health of the country OR turn to/blame the force of the market.
He chose to choose the democratic will of the people, which he says, hasn’t brought on the dark results that everyone predicted it would.
In his day, he reminded the audience, demonstrations and protests were the only way to get noticed and bring about change. “Now,” he says, “we are now seeing people power in its purest form, enhanced by social media. The fundamental essence remains to challenge political institutions as never before.”
"The power of the people through social media has dramatically accelerated change, making the traditional political decision making process has almost become a side show," he says.
Below are some lessons he has learned from Iceland:
- Significance of China. "The arrival of China is here now, not ten or twenty years from now," he says. "The leadership of China was the one of the most successful discussions following the collapse of the banking system than any other country we talked to, including Germany, Italy, U.S., France and others."
- The banks have become high tech companies, threatening the growth of the creative sectors of our economies. He says, "What we learned in Iceland, when the banks collapsed, is that the pool of talent from the banks were suddenly all available. "Even if the banks are successful, it’s bad news for a country that wants to be a player in the creative economy," he adds.
- The importance of clean energy. The lesson learned is that if you have built up a clean energy economy, it will help you fight against financial crisis in the future. It provides people with a lot of energy at a low cost.
Robert Nieuwirth: The Free Market Vs the Flea Market
Who’s afraid of the informal economy? journalist and author Robert Neuwirth asks the PopTech audience. He is known for his book Shadow Cities: A Billion Squatters, a New Urban World. His latest -- Stealth of Nations -- is focused on street traders around the world.
He notes that 80% of the working people are not in the informal economy, but something he refers to as System D, aka the Self Reliant economy, which he pirated from the African speaking Africa and Caribbean world.
Half the people in the world are working in System D, which means that the total value of System D around the globe is around $10 trillion. “If this was combined in a single political entity, let’s call it Bizzare-istan,” he says with a smile, “it would be the second largest economy in the world.”
It means that squatter communities are growing faster in legal areas, that the informal economy is exploding and that The Rational is becoming Irrational.
The informal economy has always been around globally, as he throws out example after example with photos in China, Taiwan, and Africa, where individuals are selling pirated designer sunglasses, cologne, DVDs, and mobile phones. He also notes that this kind of quasi-criminology happens in the formal economy every year as well, talking about Siemens who paid $1.9 billion a day, where it was done above board and legit.
In the Free Market Versus the Flea Market, the lazy man's money is worth more. "We have to consider fairness," says Robert. "What we think are facts, are actually set in stone by those who are in the most power and have the most interests."
If so many workers around the world are street trading and they're alive, employed, thriving and growing, we have to work together, and with and within it. Says Robert, "we shouldn't criminalize street trading - we should embrace it in someway so that we can bring people doing it out of poverty and into a better way of life." Hear hear Robert.
Also refer to a video on the TED blog to hear more of his insights.
October 18, 2011
Web 2.0 Summit Kick Off: Twitter, Yahoo, eBay, Bluefin, Intel, Salesforce & More
Web 2.0 Summit kicked off yesterday afternoon at the Palace Hotel in San Francisco. John Battelle and Tim O'Reilly are master curators of some of the best minds and storytellers in the technology industry, throwing CEOs of major corporations on stage to answer business and technology questions together with start-up entrepreneurs, an Intel anthropologist and a fireside chat between John Heilemann and Oregon Senator Ron Wyden.
I spent my time listening, shooting and tweeting more than I did taking comprehensive notes, but here's a few memorable quotes and takeaways from day one.
Sean talked about how much easier it is for the independent artist to get noticed using social networks today. "You can take an artist to a number one position fairly quickly. I don't understand why any artist would sign on with a record label today. As an artist, if you're functional and don't have a drug problem, there's no reason why you can't pull yourself up as an artist today.
Artists today can be in charge of their own destiny. Maybe later on, you can sign on later on for distribution on Amazon and foreign markets, but not at the beginning."
He says that Spotify is an attempt to pick up where he left off with Napster. Parker also shared his thoughts on social networks and Facebook in particular, denying a down and dirty fight with Zuckerberg on Hollywood streets. On Facebook, he says that there's a balancing act between active and passive sharing and felt that they don't give users enough control. He adds, "the concept that the best content rises to the top can only work if there's a conscious definitive and targeted decision about where your content actually ends up."
He was very deliberate about where he sees eBay playing today and in the future. He says, "eCommerce and retail are crumbling fast. People can now access information with red laser and do product exploration in the store in real time. We're taking all of our properties that we have and putting them onto one open platform so developers can build.
Consumers can now take a photo of a UPC code using Red Laser and see what retailers have it locally. With one click, you can buy it locally or click on Paypal and order online. This is huge innovation in retail which hasn't really moved at all in twenty years."
He continues to reference an example of how bad the search experience is today for fashion. "You don't go to Google and type in blue shirt and expect to get what you want. You can search by images today and get "like-products" based on an image you choose and like. Image-based search will be huge in the future, especially in fashion."
On how they compare to Amazon, he nailed it from a marketing perspective. Rather than get caught with his pants down on what they're not doing right, he fixated on the fact that they don't compete with retailers so they're knocking at their doors. He says "we are not a retailer and never will be. Technology is having a huge impact on their businesses and they need help. We can provide that." He also noted how huge mobile has been for them and will continue to be, throwing out a staggering stat: eBay sold 2,600 cars from their mobile app alone in a day.
"You can make a direct connection between user interest and engagement," he says emphasizing how important social media is and will continue to be for their enterprise customers.
"Companies must embrace social media or embrace the consequences," noting that when issues arrise today in corporate America, crisis is accelerated in a very public way via social media that didn't happen ten years ago, even five years ago.
Marc told Toyota that they should have a car called the Toyota friend. "I want to have a conversation with my car...car manufacturers should have social cars."
Aside from his emphasis on getting their enterprise customers to not just adopt but take social media seriously, he added that he has bought into gamification as a layer on top of businesses and the increasing importance of it in the future.
Ross said he joined Yahoo for a very specific reason: to build great products, build them across platforms including their own, personalize those products for their users and then program those products. He also noted that its the best job he's ever had, "not easy, but the best."
"A black box won't solve everything...there has to be a human touch.
The signals we give off today are about getting the right content to consumers and the right opportunities to advertisers."
When asked What is Yahoo today, a question that arises at nearly every industry conference, Ross says: "Yahoo is a really rich premium, personalized experience for consumers on every platform." Yawn.
Marketing spin and well rehearsed but it doesn't really paint a rich textured picture of who the company is nor does it show me a sustainable business model. Onward.
Poole focused on identity and the mediocrity which has been created around it. "Who am I on stage is very different than who I am in my personal life," he says.
"There are so many lenses of who I am but Google and Facebook wouldn't want you to believe that. In their world, we're merely a mirror.
Facebook treats our identities like mass market fast food. I have more choices in the eye of a toothbrush in a shopping aisle than I do in how to express myself online."
Strong statement and at that juncture, I wasn't sure where he was going, but his message got stronger. On Google+, he is spot on. "They've just copied the same broken model that Facebook created. You can incorporate identity without giving up quality, but give users a choice."
He goes on, "Facebook and Google (with Google+) are dictating how we share our identity and our creativity...consolidating our identity and making us so much more simple than we really are. We deserve choices and options. Over time, our identity is being eroded by large industry players and how can we, as an industry think this is a good thing?" Hear hear Chris. Hear hear.
In other words, Silicon Valley and other early adopters, stand up to the giants and demand higher standards than what we're being dished today, including how we're told to behave, what we can share, how we can share and with who, down to the exact number of "friends" we're allowed to have.
Deb showed some very cool visualizations of what they're doing with TV data in case you ever wanted to know what TV programs diet coke lovers watch. He says, "it is now possible to link impressions to expressions."
They take content from TV stations and build out a semantic content graph of TV and the social web, resulting in what they claim is the most comprehensive semantic index of TV online today. They call it the TV Genome.
Through their live feeds, they're adding 200K shows, 2 million ads and 40 million links per month. Show by show, they can create graphs that show the number of impressions versus expressions, focusing on expressions whereas Nielsen focuses on impressions.
He says, "this view is a different window of consumer behavior and their mindset than what has been offered in the past, which will be a game changer. We're building out a data audience sentiment, so that within the TV Genome, brands can decide where they want to put their time and effort."
I loved what Geneieve brought to the table, which was a look at data from a human perspective. As an anthropologist, she asked the question, "who is data? rather than what is data?"
There are things in our life which will only want to be physical data, she notes, not digital data, such as buddha statues for example.
"Data loves good relationships," she says. "And, data needs to be social, have a country (a home) and be feral. By this, she means that data will run wild, beyond the current boundaries of what we now imagine. We will have to think about privacy and security differently within this framework.
She also adds that "data has responsibilities. We have to tell a story in the right spirit, in the right place, and to the right people. Data also likes to look good. People are always actively choosing how we represent ourselves online," noting that in the online dating world, 100% of Americans are known to have lied on their online profile. In the UK, it is about 60%.
She ended her presentation with a provocative question which I felt could have been a talk on its own (a nice, long healthy interactive talk): "What if we designed for data the way we design for people rather than for devices?" All I could think of was "crikey, we need more women in this business."
Brad centered his whole talk on the differences between digital marketing strategy and digital business strategy and what it means to have both.
"The first rule is around social," he says. "You can't buy friends, even if you give away lots of free things to get them.
You have to ask yourself when you make decisions on social networks to buy influence - 'what does that mean for my business long term?' Business success is driving engagement to your properties if you're a company with many," using MTV as an example.
His best line of the night: "the data has to burst out of its silos and make sense for your business and show an impact. How does it affect your business strategy?" He adds that mobile must be key to your strategy moving forward, suggesting that when you think out your mobile strategy, think about how customers can motivate your brand from a mobile device.
Spoken like a true marketing guy he ends with this: "Today's CMO who owns digital and understands customer intimacy will be tomorrow's CEO." I happen to agree with him.
On how Twitter is going to play and compete in the marketplace, Dick says, "we're going to offer simplicity rather than complexity. Apple thinks about the world the same way.
It's much harder to edit out than add features. Bradley Horowitz talks about Google+ and the fact that they're going to compete on and add more features. Our focus is to compete on simplicity."
There's a lot of signals coming from each tweet. Battelle asks if this is Twitter's biggest challenge? Noted as a significant challenge, Dick says of the 250 million tweets a day they see, that they need to surface that data into something that is more meaningful: global things that matter to everyone and regional things that matter to your own community.
Dick says, "when you only offer authoritative tweets on a topic, then you lose the roar of the crowd. When we do that, we are sucking the life out of an event (i.e., world cup) by taking the volume out. We have to show the volume while also separating the signal from the noise. The key is showing this visually in a way that is compelling and simple. And, we're working on that."
One of their core values says Dick is to "respect and defend the user's voice. Not using your real name means that in countries where you can't speak as freely as you do here, you can speak up." He noted a situation in Tunisia as an example. "We're the free speech wing of free speech," he adds referencing the words of their lawyer.
He ends with more of their core values, getting away from money questions and other controversial topics: "Rather than focusing on a $8 billion market cap, we think about whether we're doing things that we can be proud of as a company and whether we're building things that are sustainable and scalable."
October 18, 2011 in America The Free, Conference Highlights, Events, On Geo-Location, On Mobile & Wireless, On Social CRM, On Technology, On the Future, Social Media, WBTW, Web 2.0 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack
October 14, 2011
Augmented Reality to Transform How We View & Interact on our PCs & Mobile Devices
Augmented Reality (AR) technology enables camera-equipped smartphone and tablet computer uses who have downloaded apps to point to an object and retrieve information.
The apps overlay is what can be seen in plain sight with digital photos, videos, text or more.
Point your smartphone at an Italian restaurant, and diner reviews of its lasagna pop up on-screen. OR, you aim your tablet computer's camera down a residential street, and over images of the houses you see which ones are for sale — along with the asking price, number of baths and square footage.
The technology is called augmented reality, or AR, and businesses are racing to incorporate it in as many consumer applications as they can. It's essentially the same technology TV sportscasts use to digitally paint a first-down line on a football field, adapted and updated for camera-equipped smartphones and tablet computers.
The mingling of the real and virtual worlds works by overlaying what can be seen in plain sight with digital photos, videos or text. It's similar to the sophisticated bar codes known as QRs, but has a much wider range of applications. A QR requires a digitally created image, or code, printed on an advertisement or product.
With AR technology, a consumer simply points at an object to get information. Aim at a house, for example, and find out whether the resident is selling anything on eBay Classifieds. Or point to an apartment building, and find out whether there are vacancies and what the landlord wants for rent. For a more extensive read on this, check out the LA Times from which a summary/overview of this was retrieved.
An interesting and informative video below:
October 05, 2011
Georgia Tech's Rosa Arriaga on the Power of Human Censors
Georgia Tech Psychologist Rosa Arriaga talked to the Idea Festival audience about the importance of human censors to not only empower patients to take better control of their diseases, particularly chronic diseases, but improve self reliance overall.
She notes that individuals of chronic conditions aren’t even aware of their own symptoms. She brought up SocialMirror, which is a targeted social network for individuals with autism. Tools like this for patients can help them stay motivated about making their regime a priority, including medicine.
Through his network, the app can provide feedback about what an autism patient should do or not do in a particular social situation, such as what to wear at a particular event, what to say, what to bring to a meeting or party, certain behaviors and so on. The social network combined with caregiver and doctor feedback can be a powerful tool to help patients become so much more self reliant than they could ever have imagined in the past.
This would obviously work for so many other conditions and chronic diseases. She ends with this parting thought and prediction. "The future of health and well-being will be done with social computing and social/human censors.”
October 04, 2011
Idea Festival 2011 Recap: From Robots, Art & Science to Education, Politics & Innovation
The Idea Festival is an annual event held in Louisville Kentucky every year. Founded by Kris Kimel, his vision is centered around the following belief: "with innovative ideas we create the future."
I've been meaning to attend for several years and finally made my way down to Louisville this past September for three days of inspiration and electric energy across the areas of science, politics, healthcare, education, music, design, technology and the arts.
Unfortunately, most of us have little opportunity to get out of our daily worlds (and ways of thinking) to learn about, discuss and explore how to integrate diverse and important ideas and innovations. This event's goal is provide a unique “space” for the convergence of great ideas from leading thinkers across the nation and around the globe.
To give you an idea of the diversity of the event, imagine listening to an Army combat veteran Wes Moore talk about his book about a child with the same name who was convicted for felony murder (my write-up here) and Cesar Millan, the world's foremost canine rehabilitation specialist and then Aubrey de Grey about rejuvenation science and aging (my write-up here), and Maz Jobrani on what its like to be a Middle-Eastern American in the 21st century, all within one morning?
Or, hear physicist and author Leonard Mlodinow explore the extraordinary extent to which randomness, chance and probability influence and shape our work and everyday lives? And while your head is full, energetic violinist Lindsey Stirling comes out on stage and has you tapping your foot and smiling ear-to-ear. (write-up on Linsey here).
Inside the Ideas Festival, there were other sub-events, such as the Kentucky Film Educator's Summit, which was free and open to the public. Kentucky's foremost film educators gathered for a unique symposium to discuss the rise of cinema studies and filmmaking programs across academe, their evolutionary future and what it takes for such programs to take root, thrive and remain relevant.
And if science and film isn't your thing, how about a discussion about the science of kissing, which Sheril Kirshenbaum led on the first morning. Azure Antoinette read poetry, Ruby Lerner from Creative Capital brought in a number of genre-bending artists to show off their latest on stage (and at evening receptions), and leading geo-strategist and author Parag Khanna led a discussion around the rapidly shifting political, energy and economic landscape. (my write-up of his talk here).
Installation artist Shih Chieh Huang wowed attendees with his innovative creativity (my write up here).
Patrick Renvoise taught us how neuromarketing can be used to sell more effectively (write-up in depth can be found here), and the Brooklyn Rundfunk Orkestrata took us on a wild journey of jazz, funk, rock and soul and what The Sound of Music sounds like with a layer of a little of all of it on top of each of its classically renowned songs. (my write-up of the experience can be found here).
Aneesh Chopra even showed up from the White House to talk about Obama's latest agenda (my extensive write-up here) as did the local mayor Greg Fischer. We headed to the Churchill Downs for taste after taste from the top chefs in Louisville. (I wrote about it extensively here). My write up of Suketu Bhavsar's talk here.
Other more extensive write-ups include how Elizabeth Scharpf is transforming women's lives in Africa one banana leaf at a time, John Moore on the engaged patient and the future of medicine, Georgia Tech's Rosa Arriaga on the Power of Human Censors, and Cory Kidd with his dieting & weight-loss robot Autom. Gambling addict Tim Donaghy talked about the power of addiction and learning from his mistakes. (and how this can be applied to other aspects of our lives outside addictions).
During my Louisville journey, I discovered local artist and glass blower Stephen Rolfe Powell, whose work is nothing short of awe-inspiring. While I was there, I also did a handful of food reviews, so be sure to check out the Kentucky and food/wine categories on We Blog the World for local restaurant and cafe write-ups.
Brown Hotel French chef Laurent Geroli brought a group of about ten bloggers/writers into his kitchen and prepared a 4 course meal in front of our eyes talking us through each dish (Kentucky bourbon was on the table too of course) - check out the food/wine categories as there's an extensive write-up of our experience including 3 videos (also on our YouTube channel). Below is a shot of all of us at the end of the meal. (they gave us very cool personalized chef jackets as well). My write-up of the Brown Hotel restaurant experience can be found here.
Also, my write-ups of Mayan Cafe and Harvest Restaurants can be found here. Below is the infamous pork entree at Mayan Cafe. (definitely order if you are going:)
Idea Festival Labs showcased a number of topics including the Cultural Landscape in and around Louisville (including Ohio River corridor and Yew Dell to name a few), Reimaging the University, Perfecting Our Entrepreneurial Imagination, and Changing the Way Louisville Eats (and the impact of the change on overall health, environment and economy).
ARZU founder Connie Duckworth also discussed her journey from Wall Street to the dirt roads of Afghanistan.
Below is a video clip of an interview I did with founder Kris Kimel on the last day. Listen to the inspiration behind Idea Festival in his words. As for me? I couldn't stop thinking, creating and being inspired for four days and the sheer volume of my blog posts is one indicator of the extent of that inspiration. Meet Idea Festival's founder:
September 29, 2011
Aneesh Chopra: Blue Buttoning Our Own Data Will Fuel Innovation & Empower Americans
If you haven't heard of the name before, Aneesh Chopra is the United States Chief Technology Officer, where he serves as an Assistant to the President and Associate Director for Technology within the Office of Science & Technology Policy. Whooah Nelly, that's a mouthful of a title.
In other words, he works to advance the President’s technology agenda by fostering new ideas and encouraging government-wide coordination to help the country meet its goals from job creation, to reducing health care costs, to protecting the homeland.
I had a chance to listen to him speak at the Idea Festival recently, where his talk focused on the President's mission and goals, with a central core theme to make it happen: working from the bottom up, not the top down and opening up data so others can create and innovate with it, and we, as a nation, can thrive.
Here's what they're currently focused on within the above framework:
- Putting more people back to work
- Boosting access to capital for high growth companies
- Turning job seekers to job creators
- Unleashing the mobile broadband revolution
- Modernizing 35,000 schools
- Making government services transparent to job creators
- Open Government aka the Start Up America initiative
- Patent reform
- Catalyze breakthroughs
Technology was a big part of his message as he echoes Obama's pitch, "for our families and our businesses, high speed wireless service and mobile is the next train station, it’s the next off-ramp..it’s how we’ll spark innovation, new investment, new jobs." He also referenced Silicon Valley start-ups on more than one occasion, including Instagram and Crowdflower.
Aneesh says that there's an aministration commitment to unleash market opportunities by framing current or proposed policies to inspired entrepreneurs and gaining valuable policy feedback for iteration with an emphasis on healthcare, education and energy.
Where is the puck heading?
"We need breakthroughs," he says. "The only way is to tap into new hubs outside Silicon Valley." Hear hear Aneesh.
He also talked about education dominance, pushing software that adapts to how students learn, inspiration for the proposed ARPA-ED. They want to open up the data to teachers and make it accessible to them and their students, regardless of where they are in the country.
Another challenge they face he throws the audience's way is the clean energy revolution. They're hoping that ARPA-E investments and NIST standards activities will spur creativity.
He cites the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) as an example, America's center for weather data. The weather industry is worth about $2 billion he reminds and "they're fueled because of open government data."
Aneesh adds, "we can also encourage market transparency." Healthcare.gov is a comprehensive catalog of insurance options, an effort to create more transparency than ever before. You’ll be able to find pricing data, how often an insurance company charges a premium, and how often were people rejected (denied coverage for whatever reason).
He also mentioned “Blue Button”, a public/private initiative that scales, where veterans can download their personal health information from their My HealtheVet account. My HealtheVet users who receive VA health care services can also refill their prescriptions and view their appointments, allergies, and laboratory results online.
Why not transfer that kind of tool to other areas and industries he says, such as education. "Imagine if every student could get a downloadable document of his/her assessment, a personalized platform that translates from student performance to market reality. We need personalized platforms for each of our children that can translate into something meaningful. This is the kind of thing that can fuel products and services. Find where the data sits and find out a way to liberate that data.”
He adds, "We're liberating government data & if people can become billionaires because of it, God Bless." The audience laughs.
He continued to push the open government throughout his talk including in the Q&A at the end, which was incredibly well received. (note: while the audience had visitors from the west coast, DC, the north, NYC and other places, there was a large number of locals - aka the midwest meets the south...in other words, family values and education are high priorities).
Certainly blue buttoning our own data is going to fuel innovation and empower individuals. Isn't it where we have to go? If we don't, we become victims rather than creators of our own lives and destinies in more ways than one.
September 29, 2011 in America The Free, Conference Highlights, Europe, On Being Green, On Education, On Health, On Innovation, On Mobile & Wireless, On Politics, On Technology, On the Future, Web 2.0 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack
September 07, 2011
Idea Festival: New Ideas Create the Future
We're planning to go to Idea Festival this year as a media partner which is exciting on multiple levels. The whole premise of the event is that "new ideas create the future."
Much of the mesmerizing innovation that we are witnessing in the 21st century emerges at and from the intersections of many disciplines – science, the arts, business, design, technology, education, medicine and more. The IdeaFestival provides the opportunity for people across all of these disciplines to group together in a unique “space” for the convergence of ideas.
Now in its eleventh year, the IdeaFestival will be held in Louisville Kentucky from September 21-24, 2011. The event is a unique non-linear event designed to stretch people's horizon's and promote breakthrough thinking... utilizing multiple venues to showcase, discuss and "connect" important ideas in science, the arts, design, business, film, technology, education, etc.
More from the ground, but to give you a taste of the line-up and speakers so far, take a look at their schedule.
September 7, 2011 in America The Free, Conference Highlights, Events, On Innovation, On People & Life, On Science, On Technology, On the Future, Social Media, WBTW, Web 2.0 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack
August 05, 2011
Technology is Like a Farmers Market: Feel the Peaches & Make a Bet
Thanks to my industry pal David Frank for sharing this with me recently. The quote is spot on and brought a smile.
"Life is a farmers market when it comes to technology; you have to walk the aisles...feel the peaches and make a bet. BUT, but you have to walk the aisles.."
July 07, 2011
Meet Google+: Curate or Die!
Google+ has been "out" in limited beta for close to two weeks now -- give or take -- and I finally found a window to explore. I waited of course for the same reason I waited on Facebook when it was new...an early version of anything means I'll lose a days (weeks) of my time. Testing early products is a time sync yet if you're in the technology industry, you waste a lot of time in front of big and small monitors alike, hour after hour after hour. We've all been there.
Because it's Google, you can't really ignore it. Unlike the zillion other social media and so called "productivity" apps I get pitched on a regular basis, Google is the giant Big Brother we all hate and love and bottom line, if you don't know what they're up to at an intimate level, it's hard to walk tall in Silicon Valley.
And so I dove in like a lion who hasn't eaten in two days, the same way I dive into all apps...it's one of the reasons product management and UI gurus love me if I actually commit to the time, which is becoming harder and harder to get me to do.
After four hours, I had the same reaction after spending time on any new "tech tool or service" that takes me away from time in the physical world. Do I really need another social network that glues me to a monitor and in this case, weds me even more to Google's world than I already am?
Of course I get why Google is doing this and would do the same thing if I were them. Facebook is the closed wall garden giant that has millions of us couped up inside their massive restricted "room" and there are so many things they do wrong, why not take a stab at it if you had the budget the size of Google?
On the surface, you might think this is Facebook with a Google UI, but without the apps and bells & whistles since its still so new. But Google has other plans and those who have worked with them on partnership deals know that they cross their t's, dot their i's and have nothing but a leadership position in mind.
What intrigues (and also exhausts) me more than anything about people's behavior whenever a new "platform" comes to town, is how consumed early adopters are, myself included.
By consumed, I don't just mean getting an account and inviting friends into your new "system" (like we all need another "system of people" to manage), but the hundreds of comment threads speculating whether Google+ is going to be the platform which will kill Facebook for good. (all 700 million Facebook users that is).
How many comments posing questions have you seen which ask: how much time have you spent on Facebook and Twitter since you started using Google+? Of course, the early adopters are spending all their time on Google+ because it's still a novelty and part of it, dare I say, is the curiosity to see who's on it early, what they're saying and doing and to score some points or badges we don't even know about yet. "Oh yeah baby, I'm an early Google+ user and that makes me a cool cat." Remember that Buzz Lightyear was glamorous and hip compared to Woody when he first arrived on the scene but it was Woody who Andy had the hardest time giving up at the tail end of Toy Story 2.
Yet, we all flock to the new glamorous platform (aka toy) in hopes that they'll do a better job than Facebook and then we'll spend massive amounts of times (weeks not days) rebuilding our network on ONE more place on the web. And of course Google unlike Facebook won't be a walled garden or use our private data for any other purpose than for the value and usefulness of their customers.
Google+ is more than just another new social network and you can guarantee Google is thinking far beyond what we see today, yet we're all spending a helluva lot of time in it. BTW, I think it's shocking that Google Apps don't currently work with Google+, something you think they'd sync up before their launch, beta or not.
What is cool is the ability to select and toss people in circles. It's also fun and addictive, far too addictive in fact to be healthy. The UI is sweet, however it is still too cumbersome to add people to categories, especially when you want to add someone to more than one, which I do often.
Note that while my geekier friends tell me tagging is enuf, I want my damn categories - it's the way my brain thinks and works, so having a "circle" that is geographical as well as topical is important to me.
The + seems to be the key thing here, but in order to use it, guess what? Your profile needs to be public. The "wear your life on your sleeves and in every corner of the Internet" folks always say to me, "give it up Renee, privacy is dead" yet perhaps some of us still want just a little corner of privacy we call our own after hours of being public public public everywhere, all the time. People forget how valuable our check-in and content contributions are to Google, Foursquare and big brands.
Having a public profile of course makes our posts more useful to everyone else in your network, but that info is more useful to Google and all the vendors and brands who want to sell something to you. Don't get me wrong; I'm a huge fan of human curation as an integral and wedded partner to search in order to improve the experience we have today, but at what point do you sit back and ask how valuable your time is? When will companies start giving something back? And, I don't mean making me mayor of Hooters and giving me a free coffee every tenth check in.
Google says of +'s value and having that public profile: "this helps people see who recommended that tasty recipe or great campsite. When you create a profile, it's visible to anyone and connections with your email address can easily find it." They do note that your +1’s are stored in a new tab on your Google profile which you can show to the world, or keep it private and just use it to personally manage the ever-expanding record of things you love around the web. Here's a link to their video which takes you through the why +1 and how to start using it.
I'll admit that the latter is very useful as a curation tool and the UI is definitely more consumer-friendly than predecessors and others in its league who have been trying to make some headway for years.
While we're on the topic of UI, creating a comment from the upper right is annoying. Perhaps its just that I'm so used to being able to do it from a box in front of me but it "feels" like an extra step. Also when I post a comment in Facebook I simply hit return and it posts automatically whereas in the Google+ window, I have to physically hit that green post comment button.
I'm also not a particular fan of the UI for uploading photos. People take their photos personally, whether they're amateurs or a prosumer shooter like me. There should be a way to organize your photo albums the way you want with a customized display you want your readers/friends to see. And btw, like Facebook, does Google own your photos & everything else you post in its growing social garden? Just curious. You should be too.
The photo feature I do like is the photo display from others in your network - see below: (though what would be much more valuable is to choose what photos you'd like to see and not see from your network - quality vs quantity please. I'd much rather see more of Thomas Hawk and less of a friend who shoots underexposed shots from their iPhone for example).
Other schtuff: there's a cool incoming feature which allows you to see posts from people who are following you, making it a compelling way to interact with friends and fans without having to follow them back (Twitter model...though lists and streams within Hootsuite make this very doable for me and it is like reading 6 newspapers from across the world every morning -- I don't mean streams here, I mean accounts...yeah I have that many). Sigh.
This would be an appropriate time to beg the Hootsuite development team: Add Google+ to my dashboard tomorrow please - we're all far too busy to manage one more tab, one more window, one more stream.
YET, here we are playing in all these networks and spending a lot of time doing so. It's astonishing to me how much time we spend sharing and consuming in these walled online gardens. Sure, there's value for us or we wouldn't be doing it but my point is that there's more value for brands and marketers and we don't get a financial high five back for our time: our valuable contribution of content time. And in Google+'s case, our valuable human curation time. (see Steve Rosenbaum's book: Curation Nation).
The personalization and recommendation aspsect of Google+ clearly isn't new (Yelp, StumbleUpon, Digg, Facebook likes, retweets, #FF's, the list goes on), but coming from Google, the massive Silicon Valley giant that knows how to exude its extraordinary power in the U.S. and beyond, we are all getting sucked into building yet ONE MORE SOCIAL NETWORK.
I saw someone post a comment suggesting that they might replace their Tumblr blog with Google+. Really? So, who owns that content? ...Your content? If you don't have the domain, aren't you placing your valuable contributions and ideas (visual, audio and other) into Google's hands?
I still think there's huge value in a site that you create from scratch - your own design, look-and-feel, personality, font, photos -- all of it. It comes from you and you alone and there, the world can see a more holistic view of what you're about and what makes you tick. It doesn't mean that you can't and shouldn't push some of that content out to Google+, Digg, Facebook or Twitter, or wherever your fans, customers and readers spend their time, but it should mean that you think about what content is relevant for what platform and be discerning about what you share where.
And now, because I make my living inside the technology industry, I have no choice but to lose time inside the bowels of Google+ observing the every growing circle of people who sign up every day, ensuring that I'm part of a new ecosystem that I can't afford not to be part of even if I really don't want or need another network to manage.
Why dive in if you resist it so you ask? It's like not going to that god awful high school party that the tacky cheerleader hosted at her house. More than anything you hated going, but not to go meant that you were left out of the conversation and being left out of the conversation is death in social media. I was one of the rare ones who was found at the football parties, the artist parties, the late night on the rock parties and the druggie parties and there was very little overlap between the four. But man, did I have perspective because of it.
People had their communities just like they do online today and even though there is always some overlap, you pick a tribe along the way and there you stay. Choosing more than one tribe makes you a great observer of behavior, a great marketer and a great curator but it also means you may not be quite as immersed as those who only choose one and have no interest getting to know or understand another.
In spending hours on Google+ observing behavior of a few of my tribes, one of the things I have noticed is an obvious one: the overlap in "friends and contacts" between people I've known for over ten years is larger and our social graph tends to be more alike despite the fact that our tastes and jobs are very different and have even changed along the way.
The other thing that I noticed is just how fragmented my networks are, something you can see within Facebook, but it's not as visually obvious as it is inside Google+. And, despite how many people I know around the world, Google+ even in its early days is a reminder how many people I don't know, which left me thinking about something I refer to a lot lately: "we don't know what we don't know."
It could be interesting to try a new exercise: join a new tribe, one which has an entirely new set of contacts from any of your former tribes just to see what it feels, looks and tastes like. If you're an artist, choose science contacts, if you're an academic, choose business management ones...(only). Try to play in and engage with that tribe for awhile to see what kind of data you get, the unique distinctions you pick up along the way and what your own contributions and perspectives mean within the textures of a whole new world, a whole new tribe. I digress, but it's something to think about...
I'm putting on my anthropology and sociologist hat on, the results of which would be nothing short of eye candy for someone like me who has lived in 11 countries and thrives on learning new shit from diverse cultures.
While all of this is interesting, I see the value of the brand spanking new Google+, like the UI and its potential, here's my point:
- Do you ever wonder whether you'll wake up one day after spending thousands of hours building and rebuilding yet a new social network and commenting to endless threads of fodder, that it will all seem rather pointless even though it was highly addictive and "felt" important at the time? (note that most successful CEOs I've talked to always emphasize the difference between important and urgent when making decisions of how to spend their time)
- Do you ever wonder that despite social networks' usefulness in connecting us with others from around the world (trust me, I GET this value as someone who has friends on every continent), that the amount of time and energy you spent trying to keep up with it all (never mind managing your Klout, PeerIndex and influence scores on a daily basis - am thinking high school scrambling to be more popular than the next guy behavior), meant 100 less hours with your kids in a given month or not having that coffee, dinner, or hike with an friend?
- And, knowing, understanding and relishing in the fact that these tools give people who wouldn't normally have a voice a megaphone (many stories that will make you cry), in ten years, will you wonder how much you could have created or built with the time you were spending commenting to threads and reacting to Twitter feeds just so you could continue to be part of a whole lotta fragmented conversations? (Refer to my blog post on Seth Godin's Linchpins where he talks about "creation mode" & how creation can't happen from "reaction mode" which is what we're in when we're glued to Twitter, Facebook & now Google+ streams).
I love what we have been able to do for others (individuals and nations) because of open social networks -- have met some amazing people through Twitter and my blog -- but I only ask that in the midst of more and more being thrown our way to "manage," to not lose sight of the magic in a human connection and to make sure we don't get lost touching hundreds of people through our now Google+ circles when someone close to us wants a physical hug.
Perhaps that's a bit too deep for the end of a Google+ post, but I don't think so. Hopefully you get my point.
Perspective and balance people. Perspective and balance.
July 7, 2011 in America The Free, Europe, On People & Life, On Spirituality, On Technology, On the Future, Reflections, Social Media, TravelingGeeks, WBTW, Web 2.0 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack