I love HuffPost

The most frequent Blog that I read on WordPress is Huffington post. It just has so many articles and information on a variety of interests and topics. There is literally something for everyone. Probably one of the few blogs “for everyone” that has a section that focuses on the social issues that effect Black people in America, Senior generations, Latinos and Gays all on one site.

Also, they are not afraid to approach controversy. May of their editorials are worded strongly or scathing. Their decision to put Donald Trump stories in entertainment is a good example of this (although they have buckled to media pressure and moved him back to regular news disappointingly).

Overall, I can count on Huffington Post to get a variety of opinions and informational articles on topics that interest me.

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So What’s Next?

I’ve learned a lot this semester on media conversion, the history of media and the current state of digital media. But I’ll be honest- the future of digital media is both foreign and slightly scary to me. I am ashamed to admit this, but I didn’t even fully understand what a drone was until earlier this year.  I thought both the 2pac and Michael Jackson Holograms were shameless marketing (and tacky at that), and the movie “Her” with an artificially intelligent robot that starts to “learn” feelings seemed downright ridiculous to me.

Is the future of digital media holograms of dead artists and pizza delivered by drone? I hope not. My hope is that the future involves us being able to interact better with our world. Much like conversion, but even better. Instead of there being an “Internet of Things”, it would be the digitization of more of life’s conveniences. But how would that work? I think Microsoft has a great concept of “the future” from their 2013 concept video portraying what 2020 could look like. Do I believe this vision is just 5 years away? No. But then again, we are so close to the Jetson’s self driving car and Google Glass’ virtual reality, perhaps we are closer to this vision than I think. Imagine if instead of carrying credit cards, licenses, bills- we just had one card that we could add information to. Imagine if that card was more like an ipad screen than a card? (Or we could just get microchips under our skin that allowed us to continually add to them, but that could get tricky with upgrades). And what if utilizing that same card you could make phone calls, read books and watch TV? What if you truly could track your child’s every move while seeing what they are seeing live? Wouldn’t that make everyone feel more secure? Or might it cause abuse of the system?

The future looks bright, but it also looks scary. I am sure at the onset of aviation, some one out there wondered “What if some one used a plane to knock down a building?” Well. Unfortunately, we now all know it could happen. But for 100 years in aviation history, it wasn’t an issue.  Abuse of the system, negligence and misconduct are often the risks we take for innovation. The fact is that the more unsavory minds will Always find a way to misallocate otherwise wonderful technological developments. And so with the future of multimedia, my hope is that the government learns how to control it better than they have thus far.  Because cyber crimes and child pornography are just two of hundreds of new issues we have now that conversion has become mass. I invite you to watch the video below and speculate on which areas we might be closest to.

The Perfect Guy…but not so perfect Product Placement

This weekend, I had the rare free moment (or shall I say stolen moment) to do a matinee with some friends. We were eager to see the movie, “The Perfect Guy”, which features a couple of our favorite leading men.

I’ve always been fairly observant of things such as product placement in the seemingly off topic and innocuous fillers prior to the movie. Of course, there are the obvious commercials as well. Still, every now and then a product placement within the actual film is too obvious to ignore.
As I feel I have become a much better media critic, I found myself noticing the not so obvious placements, and wow- there were a lot! So without further ado, here is the list of things I noticed. I will rate them as Obvious, Extremely Obvious and Almost Seamless. The goal for any good advertiser is Almost Seamless placement. This means that the product is seen and remembered but doesn’t at all feel like an ad. That’s not easy to accomplish, but hey- that’s the job, right?
  1. The movie opens over a skyline of some imaginary city- I’m guessing Los Angeles, and what do we see? A CBRE building (Also a former client of mine, so hard to miss). KPMG’s building is also featured but less prominently. I’d say if it weren’t for the fact that I have worked with both brands in a professional capacity, I would never have noticed. Almost Seamless
  2. The main female character, Leah, drives a Cadillac XTS Sedan that is featured VERY prominently throughout the movie. They flash that Cadillac grill every chance they can get. Which makes this product placement Extremely Obvious.
  3. The character starts to receive stalking phone calls from her ex. We constantly see a close up of her phone. It is a Sony Experia Z3. I’m going to say this one is Almost Seamless, but it may be because I had to look up the type of phone it was.
  4. At a bar, Leah orders a martini. She name checks and asks for a “Belvedere Martini”. I’d say that was pretty good marketing. Unless you are a heavy vodka drinker like me (I’m not going to NOT notice a reference to a vodka Brand), you would only vaguely realize they used a specific brand. But knowledge of vodka probably covers 85% of adults in New York city, making this one fairly Obvious.
  5. The Crazy Character drives an amazing, beautiful, gorgeous 1968 Dodge Charger Muscle Car. If you have ever seen the Stephen King movie “Sometimes They Come Back”, the villain drives a 1955 Chevrolet One-Fifty. The car was like it’s own character- a key feature and extention of the villain’s character. The “Perfect Guy” emulates this model by making the Charger an accomplice in the thrilling antics of Leah’s crazy ex. As a consumer (and car junkie, clearly), I had to look online to see what one would cost. Well done Dodge. Getting me to think about your muscle cars (no matter how old) is half the battle. Maybe I’ll reconsider thinking that the new Chargers are for drug dealers and twenty year old boys. This one was Almost Seamless.
  6. The crazy guy also has a Sony Laptop. As a matter of fact, all of the laptops in the movie are Sony. Not sure if most people pay attention to the laptops on programs they watch but the tech geek in me does. I’m guessing it was a Vaio (in laptops, does Sony make anything else?). Keep in mind, this is a Sony Picture. I’m sure every ounce of technology in that film was Sony. Making it even more Extremely Obvious product placement.
I can imagine there were TONS more, but those were the ones I caught. It’s a bit weird how media classes taint your movie going experience. Good work professor! *side eye*

How do our “Things” translate to data?

Often, I find myself actually interested in the topics we discuss during class. Yes- this is equally surprising to me as it is to you. I was never an “engaged” student. I pretty much went to school because it was a check box in the manual of “How to be successful in Life” that my parents and others had drilled into me. Finish high school, check. Don’t go to jail, check. Don’t eat too much cholesterol or sugar, ehhh semi check. Go to college, check. Finish college, done. Get a decent paying job…well better late than never & Check! Nothing in the manual said anything about being Interested in college. That wasn’t a requirement. So it’s always equal parts shocking and amazing when we discuss things that are interesting AND Actually have relevance to real life. Welcome to Grad school. Who knew?

But I digress. The first time the concept of “The internet of things” was brought up, it sounded more like a catchy tag line than an actual “Thing”. Turns out- it is a “Thing”. It’s pretty much everything in our lives that has an IP address. And that happens to be more things than you think. In my house the list is quite large. My TV, PS4, Xbox, Cell phones, Amazon Echo, Apple TV, Kindle, Ipad, Scale, Treadmill and even my dog’s collar have IP addresses. Yes- they all send data to the internet. And all of these “things” are sending data to the internet that is about ME. Whether it’s my BMI, my dog’s activity level and coordinates, what I read last, which movie I watched or who I last communicated with. Google alone has pretty much an entire diary of my life. I’ll never forget the first time I was looking at my Google cards and there was one that told me where I had parked. I never asked for this! But Google knows things. And Google uses what it knows to market to help me. Between Amazon and Google, they could put together an entire  profile of who I am, what I look like, what I like to do, where I spend my time and the list goes on.  Because I am some one who has a lot of “Things” connected to the internet, so they are able to collect an enormous amount of data about me.

As some one that not only hated statistics in college but barely made it out of 7th AND 11th grade math, it is a bit of dichotomy that I find data so interesting. Today I got a random notification on my cell phone telling me that I needed to leave at 9:45am to get to Clinton street in Hackensack, NJ by 10:30am. Google noticed that every 2 weeks I show up at this address at about 10:30am. It’s for my UNDOCUMENTED hair appointment. Well played. Instead of being offended, upset or at least feel slightly violated by Amazon and Google’s ability to “know” what I’m doing next, I am intrigued and delighted. The amount of data mining that these systems can do automatically is amazing to me. They collect every piece of data provided by my “things”, look for patterns and pop out suggestions based on predictive intelligence. This is an invaluable toolset in the business world. I wish I had their computer!

I use data in just about every aspect of the decisions I make at work. My role at work is often not to “Do” anything. Being the executioner and the decision maker clouds the judgement of a leadership position. My core competency is using information to make informed, smart and financially sound/revenue promoting decisions. I pour over everything from Google analytics to internal behavioral data to industry statistics in order to come to conclusions. Every decision and conversation I make at work starts with numbers. One from last month: “85% of enterprise organizations spend at least 8% of their revenue on their eCommerce experience. We spend less than 1%. Do not complain about how much it costs :)” But my favorite data driven conversation starter/ender is the Infographic. Infographics are perfect for having executive conversations. Nobody is overly interested in reading the results of a survey. Pop it into a picture and suddenly people are thinking. The video we watched on the making of infographics gave me pause. Again, my mathematically challenged mind kicked in and thought “Wait these pretty pictures aren’t created by Magic??? That doesn’t sound fun.” But I won’t lie, I thank the Analytics gods for the people with the aptitude to create such glorious representations of the Stuff I need to know about. I wonder what types of internal infographics the good folks at Google and Amazon use during their executive presentations about people like you and me?

P.S….all this random conjecture came from me being a nerd and finding this awesome article here

Smoke and Mirrors

The readings we have had about the power of social media in public relations and how PR professionals manipulate our perceptions about products, brands and people utilizing Facebook and Twitter have been very interesting. One thing I’ve learned about Social Media from a personal standpoint is that many people are perpetrating faux “insta-Lives” people.

There’s a young woman in the projects swatting roaches that has 30k followers because of the right filters and selfie backgrounds on Instagram.  A man that lives with his mother can pose next to a stranger’s Bentley and get a lot of attention/followers.

I actually know a guy that is unemployed, owes probably about $10,000 in back child support (so he can’t drive in NY without getting arrested) is couch surfing at his mother’s house AND has a felony…but is on Instagram posing with bottles of $300 bottles of Champagne and Alicia Keys. He actually spoke to me about the importance of his “Brand” and his followers.  I couldn’t even fully articulate a negative response- he has a decent following on social media (about 1,000 followers). It just goes to show you, if you dress it up enough, people will follow ANYTHING.

This really made me think. : If the average joe in the Acorn Projects can change your perception and make you a believer, imagine what these huge corporations are able to do with our minds. Food for thought. It’s actually pretty scary.

Evidence that Twitter just gets you in trouble…

twitter-fight

In examining the way technology and digital media are governed legally and ethically, rather than focusing on a boring topic such as intellectual property, I decided to go the Donald Trump route (that would be shock and lewdness) and discuss things like indecency and twitter fights.

My Internet snapshot focused on a woman who was “flashed” via airdrive on a train by a man’s random genital photo. I imagine that was both scary and repulsive to her. She of course, contacted the police. As the perpetrator was able to keep himself anonymous, they didn’t and couldn’t do much to help her. As I read this article, I thought about all the times I had been “flashed” on my old Twitter account by random DMs pointing me to links or photos of pornography and other unasked for indecent proposals. Did I have a right to file suit against some one? And if so, who? The perpetrators more than covered their tracks. Should I sue Twitter? Who do I hold responsible for this violation?
It seems a few people have asked this question when something happens on Twitter that they don’t quite like. One mother had a child whose classmates utilized twitter to send out her naked photos. Rather than just suing the parents of the clearly at fault classmates, she decided to go for the bigger fish as well: The school district and Twitter. As the photo had been retweeted many times, she felt Twitter was liable. It’s definitely the more lucrative option of who to go after.
But Twitter has gotten other people in trouble as well. Things like defamation of character and violating privacy are now issues one can run into on Twitter. George Zimmerman’s parents sued Roseanne bar for tweeting to her followers their address. Actor James Woods is suing an anonymous twitter user for $10 million for calling him a cocaine addict. But are these things worth suing for? What about our First Amendment rights? What is the line in the public domain of the internet?
And apparently, now people are even becoming protective of the online content they tweet. One twitter user is suing Conan O’Brian for stealing his tweets and using them as jokes. Only problem is: Tweets aren’t copyrighted and are sent out into the public domain. Right?

When we think about how technology is impacting our laws, there are probably more questions than answers. Twitter alone is a minefield of legal implications that have not yet been addressed. The amount of celebrity feuds that happen on Twitter are a reason to steer clear! The legal system hasn’t caught up with the speed of technology, that’s for sure. The lines are getting muddy and I’m not sure anybody really knows how to handle the ocean of implications that arise from digital media’s rapid technological development.

The Haves and Have nots…or maybe not.

Every year there is a huge user conference (the biggest software user conference in the world, actually) at Salesforce.com in San Francisco, CA. It’s everything from dog and pony show to entertainment to politics (Will.I.Am. AND Hillary Clinton performed/spoke last year) to educational work sessions.  Last year I had the pleasure of attending a session that focused on the digital divide between African & South American countries and the rest of the world. One of the things that really stuck out to me in that session was the fact that while most people in these countries lack access to computers, 75% have access to smart phones.

When we look at the idea of “information access”, it is difficult these days to separate technology from that. One statistic that stood out in my mind from the asynchronous session was that 15% of Black households were “offline” as opposed to 14% of White households.  However, according to the 2013 Census, only 61.3% of Black households have a computer with internet access (as opposed to 77.4% of white households). So what does this actually mean? Well going back to my earlier paragraph, it points to the fact that while many households don’t have computers, they do have smart phones. They have other ways of getting “online”. And so while there is a huge disparity between White and Black households when it comes to owning a computer, the gap is significantly closed when we strip out the media consumption device of “Computer” and focus only on online access.

One of my favorite examples of this is the phenomenon known as “Black Twitter”. Since so many Black households are now “online”, we are seeing a subculture that really results from the media consumption avenue of Twitter, which not so coincidentally is primarily accessed via a smartphone. Wikipedia has a pretty succinct definition for those that are unfamiliar. But it’s a great example of how the digital divide is getting more narrow due to media convergence. I feel like I used a lot of random class concepts in this blog so apologies- sometimes I get into my own head a bit too much! But those were my thoughts on the topic for this week. I hope everyone can see the connections as I can.

What a difference 20 years makes…

Reading the Newsweek article presented in class (and found here) made me feel a variety of emotions. One of them was OLD! I convinced myself 1995 was only 10 years ago, one of the few times my lack of mathematical abilities was actually serving me well. But being a simple equation, my brain unfortunately corrected itself and reminded me that the article was actually written 20 years ago. So why did it seem like just yesterday?

Let me explain. In 1995 I forced my father to buy his first PC. He is an entrepreneur and sold specialty cosmetics through mail order. He would place ads in the back of magazines such as Essence and Ebony. (Remember the pages of ads in the back of magazines or am I dating myself yet again?) He also started to dabble in infomercials as he noticed the revenue from magazine ads seemed to be slowly drying up. He wondered where all the new customers were going?

At 14 years old, I found myself fascinated with all things tech. I have no idea how or why- we weren’t a tech savvy home. Our televisions were from the eighties and those were probably the fanciest gadgets we owned outside of my dad’s CB Radio. (You may need to look up what that is. Wikipedia has a good description.) There were computers at my highschool. We even had a class twice a week to use them and it was my favorite. The only thing we learned was how to type. I prided myself on being one of the few who typed with accuracy even though there was a felt blanket over the keyboard so that we couldn’t see the letters. For 10 minutes at the end of class, we got to play “Where in the World is Carmen San Diego”. I still think it’s one of the best games created. For me, this was a step into the future.  But, I knew computers had other, more communicative uses. My sister was at the University of Rochester and had shown me her email and the blue screened chat rooms on the library PCs. We spent an hour talking to strangers and playing funny tricks on them- I was hooked!

So when my father started talking about the downward trickle of his customer base, I explained to him that the culprit was simple. He needed to go online! We didn’t have a lot of money- his business was small and fledgling at that time. But I convinced him that the computer was the way of the future and that he needed an e-commerce site. Admittedly, my pitch was self-serving. I wanted America Online. After seeing the commercials with all the cool colors and hundreds of chats, it seemed like ample entertainment for a girl who lived in the country and wasn’t allowed to go anywhere but school. So off we went to computer store 20 miles away and bought our first computer for about $1400, no small investment for anybody at that time.

But it wasn’t all fun and games. Teaching a 54 year old man who types on the typewriter with two index fingers how to use a mouse was a challenge! I wrote his first e-commerce pages using HTML. In retrospect, it was rather industrious considering my age. We could collect credit cards and had live processing on the site.  As the Product Owner of an Enterprise e-commerce site 20 years later, I can tell you that concept is STILL no easy task. And I have to say, I never even thought about the irony of my job vs. how I started at 14 building an e-commerce site for my dad until right at this moment.

Which kind of brings me full circle back to the article. Twenty years are a long time, but actually not really. When I think about the household that had zero gadgets 20 years ago to where we are now- it’s mind-boggling. That 54 year old man learned how to take apart and put together his own pcs within 2 years of purchasing his first one. Now, at the tender age of 74, my childhood home is filled with state of the art cameras, sound systems and televisions. He has every i-gadget you can think of (admittedly I bought most of them). My father became a tech geek overnight and it’s something we continue to bond over. When I go home he shows me his latest toys and I show him mine. He’s always marveling at new technology. I think because he is older and more of his lifetime consisted without it, he has a deeper appreciation for the shift that has occurred in the last 20 years. I couldn’t help but wonder as I read this 20 year old analysis of the internet: What is that guy thinking now?

Remember Excite?

1dot

The story of the internet reminds me of classes I took back in 1999 when I was a student at the iSchool. It was actually a lot of review. And shocking that I remembered Anything! I guess I’m not as far removed from that time in my life as I thought.

Anyway, the thing that I found most entertaining about this week was the discussion around dotcoms. For years I had been wondering what ever happened to the other search engines like Infoseek and Excite? I admit I would ponder it on the train or randomly- never when I was near enough to my computer to Google it. And let’s face it: It’s probably not the question at the forefront of my mind every day. That said, having the opportunity to actually research and see what became of Excite was both entertaining and informative. Who knew it took so long to finally go away. I didn’t realize it was still alive in the early 2000s. In any event, when I graduated college in 2001, dotcoms were a cautionary tale and my degree from the iSchool was about as valuable as a mortgage license was in 2007: Not very.

I remember thinking at the time: How did this happen? I was relatively young and didn’t understand much about economies or business. It’s interesting to revisit the topic at a different stage in life where these occurrances make more sense. The dotcom bust is not much different from other failing businesses we see together as old models become obsolete and new ones take over. Although the reasons were different (Rapid Growth, Overspending, Zero Planning), the outcome was the same. Not to bring up the emergance of cloud computing again (per my last post), but look at how that has forced structural change for companies such as Oracle and Siebel. For if they didn’t keep up, they would go the way of the dotcom and any other company that refused to innovate. Kodak is a great example. As technology moves forward, so must we. But as the dotcoms learned- moving forward has to be done with planning and thought. We cannot expect technology in of itself to have all the answers otherwise it will fail.

Zoom Zooming through media convergence

11Edge-MyFord-Touch_6312_sirius-660

Living in NJ, I often find myself behind the wheel of my car. I use that time to think and contemplate. As I was pondering all the ways media and technology converged, it occurred to me that part of that convergence was happening right in my vehicle.  Sounds like a stretch, doesn’t it? Well not really- allow me to explain.

Computer diagnostics in cars started in the 80s.  Computer diagnostics is basically when parts of the car are actually controlled and monitored by computers.  We would get more accurate engine lights, tire pressure warnings, etc. due to these computers in cars.  Once the computer entered the car, it seemed like it was only a matter of time before traditional computer uses became applicable within the vehicle.

In the past, if you wanted to get directions, you had to look at a map.  The most advanced map feature you could get in a car was a compass. Toyota had navigation systems in select cars in the 80s. But in general, they were unheard of. Then a little site called Mapquest arrived and we would run to Mapquest, pop in the addresses and print out the directions before our trips. Eventually luxury cars offered built-in navigation but most people bought portable navigation devices.  But neither of these had “up to the minute” information. If you wanted to know things like traffic, lane closures, detours, road work, accidents, etc., you would need to listen to the radio or watch the news prior to entering your vehicle.

My last car showed me where the traffic was and gave me a list of “incidents”. The one I have now actually redirects me live as soon as an incident or traffic jam occurs! This is information I used to get either online or on the news. And while GPS/Traffic reports are one example of digital media that is now available in your car, there are tons of others. I can literally check my Facebook, Twitter, listen to a book, call my mother, text a friend, listen to any television or radio show and see YouTube videos…from the dashboard of my car.  There’s something scary about that (probably that we should be paying attention to the road and not surfing Facebook). It makes me wonder what they will come up with next?

Melissa