Filed under: COOL SHT, Feature | Tags: Angelino, Apple, Beauty, ESPN, Facebook, Foursquare, Glamour, iPad 3, Jeremy Lin, LA, Linsanity, Mountain Lion, New York City, NY Knicks, NYC, Pop-Up, Twitter, Whitney Houston, WhitneyHoustonRIPocolypse, Winter
THIS WEEK: HOUSTON, WE HAVE LINSANITY
Stan Honda / AFP / Getty Images / February 18, 2012
Whitney Houston’s funeral Saturday drew more star power than the Grammys the weekend before including Stevie Wonder, Alicia Keyes, R Kelley, Bobby Brown, and Aretha Franklin. Wait, those last two weren’t there. Bobby Brown left because of a “seating incident” and Aretha Franklin had leg issues even though she performed in concert that very night. [raised eyebrows] I thought Kevin Costner’s words concerning his work with the star on the Bodyguard were intriguing. Not only were they clearly heartfelt but they demonstrated the challenges of being a worldwide star. Incidentally, both the Grammys and Whitney Houston’s funeral both clocked in at 3.5 hrs.
After being in NYC for 10 days, I attempted to mimic that city’s RIPocolypse love. From snow storms to Whitney’s death, everything on Foursquare is a RIPocolypse in New York City. I also wanted to see if a location of this nature would trend in Los Angeles like it trends in NYC. One problem. It never showed up in search results. I contacted one of the co-founders of Foursquare who told me the search results take a bit to update. 3 days later. Same issue. I know we’re on the opposite coast and a little bit farther south than where digital hearts show their affection, but damn it, we Angelinos are digital nerds too. Where is the love?!
Apart from the digital snafu, I also noticed how polarizing Whitney Houston was when I asked friends to check-in to my newly dubbed WhitneyHoustonRIPocolypse. Some were eager to jump on and some simply flat out said no, not because they didn’t want to break out Foursquare, but because they didn’t “feel the love” for Ms. Houston. I do find it intriguing that certain folks feel so negative towards the pop singer because of her demons with drug abuse. I certainly don’t condone it. That said, entertainers, while making a ridiculous amount of cash, are owned by their audience, incapable of living away from prying eyes. Entertainers have the ability to inspire so many but they are human beings like all of us. Let’s be honest, we all have our demons. So, with that, I will continue to want to dance with somebody and yes, my love is your love.
Along with the pop star’s farewell, the din of Linsanity, an homage to the popular NY Knicks player Jeremy Lin, has been reaching fever pitch. Unfortunately, ESPN made the mistake of running a racially fueled headline on Friday bringing Lin fans to punches. Thankfully for the fans, the Harvard alumnus finally joined the social network and took the dive into his first public Facebook page.
In other news, a warmer winter has slowed sales of typical winter purchases, gossip surrounding the coming iPad 3 announcement on March 7th has erupted, and Twitter gets yet another boost from Apple, this time with the release of the Mac operating system Mountain Lion. Take that, Facebook overlords.
Some more Cool Sh-t:
Filed under: Feature | Tags: Acura, Bid Light, Camry, Eli Manning, Facebook, Ferris Beuller, Grammys, Hanon McKendry, Honda, IPO, Jay Leno, Kia, Matthew Brodrick, New England Patriots, NY Giants, Old Spice, Pinterest, Planned Parentgood, Seinfeld, Shazam, Sketchers, Superbowl, Susan B Komen, Tom Brady, Toyota, VW, Weego
THIS WEEK: SUPERBOWL RECAP & PINTEREST WEARS THE BIG KID PANTS
Doug Mills/The New York Times
Good morning Giants fans. Go ahead. Lord your supremacy over us Patriots fans. I’m originally from Rhode Island and so became a full-blooded Patriots fan last night at a bar in Saratoga Springs, NY. What to do when surrounded by Giants fans? Become the #1 annoying fan and learn to avoid thrown glasses.
Being that I’m in the ad industry, my main interest in the Superbowl is the commercials and according to a study by Hanon McKendry , 54% of Superbowl watchers are just like me. For $3MM for 30 seconds, let’s give these ads their due respekt. Thus spawns, the Marauder Top 5. Unlike the USA Today Ad Meter which employs ratings from its web site or Facebook to determine a winner, I’m using a much simpler and valuable rating system: YouTube video views combined with my own opinion. To qualify those views, I am also listing out the upload date as most of these commercials were uploaded a week out from the Superbowl itself. Below my top 5, you will find the commercials I was not a fan of but listed as they pulled considerable weight in video views.
Daily Marauder Top 5: Superbowl 2012 Commercials
VW “The Dog Strikes Back”
5 MM views
Upload Date: 1/30
Kia “A Dream Car. For Real Life.”
4 MM views
Upload Date: 1/31
Chevy Sonic “Stunt Anthem”
Upload Date: 1/27
Sketchers “Go Run”
Upload Date: 1/26
Bud Light “Rescue Dog”
Upload Date: 2/3
Notable Mentions: Superbowl 2012 Commercials
Almost a winner until I saw the appearance of Jay Leno. Instant fail.
15 MM views
Upload Date: 1/30
Honda CR-V “Matthew’s Day Off”
Here’s the thing. “Ferris” just looks old and bloated. I felt depressed after watching it.
Upload Date: 1/26
That said, while likability is fun to assess, it matters less in translating to brand sales. Many brands attempted to take their Superbowl ad buy one step further by creating a digital link using Shazam for TV. While many think of Shazam as a mobile app to identify what song is playing, the company recently updated to allow users to Shazam TV as well creating a digital extension both from TV episodes and commercials alike. This affords the TV commercial some digital legs allowing an easier transition from TV to digital. The best example from a brand last night came during the Toyota Camry commercial. Users could Shazam the commercial for a chance to win 2 Toyota Camrys during the game.
In other news, Facebook prepares for its IPO, Path doubles its user count to 2MM having re-launched 2 months ago, the Susan B. Komen Foundation reverses its decision to cut funding to Planned Parenthood , Pinterest wears the big kid pants in the social media family, and the Grammys piles on some interesting digital extensions to their coming broadcast.
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Filed under: COOL SHT, Feature | Tags: #twitterblackout, ACTA, Anonymous, Apple, Car Window, Facebook, Forbes, GM, iPhone, Mitt Romney, Pinterest, President Obama, Republican, Ruby Zhang, State of the Union, Superbowl, Twitter, USC Annenberg School, Weibo
THIS WEEK: BETWEEN POLITICS & CENSORSHIP, THE TWITTER PAGES
Todd Heisler/The New York Times
While the Republican candidates continue to crucify each other in debates and public speaking engagements, Twitter has become a critical tool for candidates to engage their audiences. With 10 times more users on Twitter than during the 2008 election and the sites’ ability to break news faster than major news outlets, Twitter is certainly flexing its muscles in the political campaign space.
While Twitter fist pumps in politics, the site felt some public backlash over the weekend. Forbes claimed that Twitter had committed “social suicide” when they released news that they would be withholding tweets in particular countries (i.e. China, etc) Twitter users like Anonymous planned an online revolt on Saturday January 28th claiming they would not tweet in protest of Twitter’s action (#twitterblackout).
This move by Twitter was certainly not motivated by their desire to censor but more importantly to try and infiltrate China, a market which had 485 million online users at the end of June, more than any other country in the world. Twitter is banned in China, based entirely on the fact that the company, up until now, has refused to allow the government to censor tweets. Weibo, China’s version of Twitter, has allowed open access to the government. The site is used by 250 million users. On Friday, I sat down with Ruby Zhang who moved from China to Los Angeles to study at USC’s Annenberg School. She walked me through Weibo and explained the advantages to Twitter:
- Mainly, her friends from home all use the site and therefore the clear advantage in China is simply that it has mass scale. Twitter will have a difficult time infiltrating given this fact.
- Images in line on Weibo.com’s home page. Many Twitter folk don’t visit the online site but instead connect through Twitter clients like Tweetdeck and others. Visuals are processed by the brain far faster than text. Twitter has made inroads to add visuals in-line but they certainly have room to grow.
- Easier list and categorization features. When’s the last time you used a Twitter list? Fantastic feature but it has been de-emphasized in design updates.
In other news last week, President Obama’s State of the Union got a snazzy interactive update showing side-by-side graphics while the President spoke. The Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) may be even more insidious than the more well-known SOPA/PIPA, USA Today’s Superbowl Ad Meter will finally include Facebook ratings, Apple delivers blow out earnings proving that more iPhones are sold per day than babies born in the world, Pinterest is showing serious strength in pushing consumers to retail and Facebook plans to file their IPO next week.
Some more Cool Sh-t:
Re-Imagine: What’s Outside Your Car Window
Filed under: Feature | Tags: Android, CES, Facebook, GAMING, Golden Globes, Harvey Weinstein, iPhone 4S, Mashable, MG Seigler, Soul!, Spotify, TechCrunch, TED, The Artist, Turntable, Ultrabook
THIS WEEK: THE ARTIST DIGESTED & CES ROUND-UP
Happy Martin Luther King Day!
Last night, the Golden Globes descended upon Hollywood. The critics’ acclaim and 3 Golden Globes for the silent film, The Artist, got me thinking about a general trend in our culture at large, something I spoke about last week as well. If you’ve seen The Artist, then I’m sure you were also struck by the sheer simplicity of the film. Make no mistake about it, I’m not saying I liked it, just that it filters to a true simplicity not seen with most other films. Love, greed, empathy, pain, these were the simple messages evoked in the movie. While watching the film, my friend commented that perhaps she was not intellectual enough to understand the acclaim driving reviews. I don’t think that’s it at all. I think the passion around this film is simply that we are overwhelmed with entertainment and messaging.
Recently, I watched a variety show from the 70’s called Soul! and was struck by the sheer number of lengthy pauses in which the silence was deafening to my modern ears. In my former 5 years as a radio DJ, I would periodically have nightmares in which I was sitting in front of a blinking sound board paralyzed with dead air blaring from the studio speakers. In the modern era, sometimes watching Gossip Girl can literally make me feel like I’m in a dance club with a strobe light. The transition between scenes is on warp speed as our collective attention span has constricted. In some ways, we’ve acclimated to become faster human engines of efficiency. In other ways, we’ve become unaccustomed to the phrase, “stopping to smell the roses.” Back to The Artist. I think the insight into this film is not that it is good or well-acted in fact. I think Harvey Weinstein, the man who purchased the first silent film in over 70 years, is simply an innovator, one who sees what we all want before we want it. We all have been yearning for the simpler life, but without someone to bring this to us in entertainment form, we did not realize it. So Harvey Weinstein, I say well done. I didn’t like The Artist, but I understand it’s inherent value and for that the Golden Globe wins seem warranted. I can’t say the same for George Clooney I’m afraid.
On to the digitalverse. This week, the largest consumer electronics show wrapped up in Vegas. As I said last week, I am not a fan as usually the show produces a compendium of crap rather than one true innovation. This assumption was proved correct. Can’t say I told sold…oh wait, I can. That said, here’s a bit of a round-up from Mashable and a note on how the word ‘ultra-book’ is nothing more than a marketing campaign from Intel. The one highlight for me is really the focus on creating ecosystems rather than attempting to force consumers to purchase new gadgets that they don’t need. In other news, the iPhone 4S helped close Apple’s gap on the Android, especially interesting to note given the number of devices running Android. On the heels of that data, a very interesting post from MG Seigler (formerly of Techcrunch) emerged on why the writer despises Android. You’ll take note of the fact that it has less to due with Apple’s user interface and more on Google’s broken promise to make the consumers’ needs most important.
In other news, Facebook launched a “Listen With” feature which the community at large immediately compared to Turntable. To contradict that theory, I think Facebook discovered a more interesting insight which is that the mass audience does not want to do the work of playing DJ all day on Turntable. They simply just want to know what their friends are listening to. Hey Facebook, I’m still not turning on my listening data in Spotify. A girl has her secrets and you’re not getting all of mine. Nice try though… In bigger Facebook news, Facebook’s IPO is rumored to be hitting late May. And finally, TED returns to Long Beach, CA at the end of February.
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From Gaming to Escape our Real Lives to Gamifying Reality
Filed under: Feature, TECHNOLOGY | Tags: Alexandra Petsavas, Apple, Facebook, iTunes, Katy Perry, Lady Gaga, Last.fm, Mark Zuckerberg, Micki Krimmel, Myspace, Pandora, Ping, Steve Jobs, Telephone, The Acorn, Twitter
Is Ping the MySpace Music Slayer?
Since Apple’s Wednesday announcement of the social network for music, Ping, the service has been called a MySpace killer. At the core of the Apple fan boy or girl, is an ethos that Apple can and will continuously do it better than the next guy. This ethos has been built on the back of the company’s ability to blow away the smartphone marketplace with one swift punch to the balls called the iPhone. As I sit with my iPhone parked next to me and my MacBook Pro at my fingertips, I certainly classify as an Apple fan girl. In Ping’s case, the assumption that Apple always draws shotgun would be a mistake. In its current configuration, Ping is not and will not be a MySpace killer. Until some major problems are fixed, it will continue to live in the shadow cast by powerhouses like Pandora and MySpace.
If the principle challenge with the MySpace platform is hyper-personalization turning the site into the bedroom of an over-eager teenage girl, the problem with Ping is the insistence on an overly simple user interface. I may not need the many bells and whistles thrown at me on MySpace daily but I do need more features than Ping is offering.
Here are a few reasons why Ping won’t crush my MySpace usage anytime soon:
1) What Do I Care About Most?
Photo Credit: Micki Krimmel
It’s the Music Stupid.
Ping seems to think the answer to this question is the sharing of music. In actuality, I care most about the music itself. I sit writing this while listening to Arcade Fire’s new album on MySpace. Currently, this band doesn’t even exist on Ping. While I sit listening to The Suburbs in full, the band gets a “No Results” on Ping. Yes, yes. I know the service is still too new to accommodate the likes of indie rock but perhaps more should have been done to draw bands into the service before it was launched to the public. Mashable posted an interesting article on the challenges bands face in entering the Ping world vs. the ease at which bands enter their MySpace communities and post at will. The Ping user needs more of their favorite bands and the bands need an easier way to access the new platform.
Above the selection of bands, what I really want on a music page is…in short, music. I want to listen to full-length songs like I can on MySpace music. I can’t even find any music to listen to on Lady GaGa’s Ping page until I click over to the iTunes store. As we all know in the online world, and for those who don’t know, shortening the click-thru stream is necessary for lazy audiences everywhere to engage with your platform. Don’t make it more difficult for me to get to what I really want: the music. And once I’m finally there, I get a 30 second nugget rather than what I really want: the full song. Let’s see a side-by-side Ping to MySpace comparison:
Sir Steve Jobs attracted me to the platform with his promise that 160MM global iTunes users would be there waiting for me. I fire up the upgrade, click on the attractive Ping logo with the chat bubbles and find Lady GaGa, Katy Perry, and Rick Rubin staring back at me. Now, I love the GaGa as much as the next girl, but what about my actual friends? Where are they?
Apple promised a Facebook Connect feature allowing me to easily search for my Facebook friends. Not so much… If you haven’t seen the most recent press, Apple played a bit aggressively with Facebook and was denied access to the API. On Kara Swisher’s blog, All Things D, she spoke to Steve Jobs moments after the Apple announcements and was told by Jobs that Facebook wanted “onerous terms that we could not agree to.” In essence, when Facebook’s API is called upon with over 100 million requests a day, Facebook requires a monetary agreement to handle the overload on their systems. Apple and Facebook could not come to an agreement on this and hence no Facebook for Ping.
Until this is resolved, I can only find my friends by entering in their email address one by one until I find someone. Suffice to say, this is the real “onerous” process and simply unmanageable by anyone who has a job. Yesterday, my friend from Berlin tracked me down so I officially have one real Ping friend. This is only one hiccup with the service but the most sizeable one. Until this one issue is resolved, Ping will have problems truly being a “social network for music” without connecting its 160MM worldwide users together.
3) What type of Music Defines You?
On the initial fire of the Ping community, you’re asked to pick a collection of music which will be used on your profile to define you to your friends. I don’t take this process lightly at all. Being someone who previously worked in the music industry, I take my collection and particular music taste very seriously. The user has the choice between a manual selection of music or an automatically pre-selected one chosen by an Apple algorithm. Being that this was an Apple interface, my expectation was that Apple would choose my taste better than I could possibly define my own. Yup, not the case.
Instead of looking at my music library, which would be the obvious choice, Ping seems to favor my purchased iTunes items, surfacing selections which may not be something I’d like to define my musical taste by. Selfish selection by Apple really. Imagine you buy Justin Bieber for your 12-year-old niece and all of a sudden it surfaces as your favorite music. Bieber fail. Manual entry is certainly a requirement.
**Please note: This would never happen on this MacBook of course. I wouldn’t allow this sort of download on my machine. Just sayin…
4) Sharing Begins & Ends in iTunes
Hey Apple, just want to let you know about these fantastic social networks known as Facebook and Twitter. You may have heard about them? Only about 500 MM users use the first one. Just thought I’d let you know, as you seem to care not for the likes of those little guys. You may have 160 MM worldwide users but before you get on that soapbox, Mark Zuckerberg and his Facebook dominion holds down 500 MM globally. When I go to “like” something in Ping, I share that like with the Ping community alone. There are currently no sharing features with Facebook, Twitter or MySpace and with that list being the three primary social networks, seems Ping is lacking a little in the “social” department. Apple seems to be acting like a possessive boyfriend with this product rather than truly building a social experience for music.
5) News Feed Overload
After seeing a recommendation from Alexandra Petsavas, my favorite music supervisor who brilliantly filled an entire episode of The O.C. with Beck B sides, I decided to download a few tracks from the Canadian band, The Acorn. Now, my entire feed is filled with my love for The Acorn even though I downloaded a few tracks off of one album. I wish there could be more control in terms of what is surfaced and what isn’t. I don’t need every song purchase listed in my feed especially around the holidays when I decide that The Time Life Christmas CD’s are a must-have.
So is Ping the MySpace Killer? If you enjoy sitting in enclosed spaces talking to yourself about your favorite music, then yes, Ping wins.
Alright, I’m off. MySpace just threw me an “Are You Still Listening?” curve ball and I need to change this song.
“We’re sorry, the number you have reached is not in service at this time. Please check the number or try your call again.” Telephone Lady GaGa