May 27, 2013

Netflix: A New Model House

Netflix just pulled off one of the most strategic and memorable marketing campaigns I’ve seen in a long time.
A campaign that signifies a shift in the entire television network paradigm.
Akin to RedBull dropping a man from space on YouTube, Netflix just pulled off its own Bluth style ribbon cutting.
Netflix turned its nose up in the face of major networks by resurrecting a beloved, network cancelled, series to use as a vehicle for a marketing campaign that proves once and for all that the network model we call TV is ready to evolve into a social television network.
Social in the sense that viewers have a say in what they want to see.
Where chatter trumps ratings and where we get to choose how and when we throttle our programming intake.
TV shows are now social media events, something to gather around and talk about live. Screens have become agnostic and home is just another location in the mobile age of television.
You can either choose to participate in the conversation or go back and read the reactions after the show, either way Network TV has now become Social Network TV.
Netflix simply loosened the episodic noose and fans can start to choose to binge or peck at their entertainment. A series can be gorged on as a giant meal, with lively conversation and devoured in one sitting. Or can be plated like delicate courses served up in traditional fashion and then gossiped about the next day.
Critics like Mike Hale at the New York Times - - seem to think this format “feels forced and overly complicated” but fail to recognize that the resurrection of Arrested Development isn't another House of Cards, it is a 15 episode advertising campaign for a new kind of network with a new kind of advertising model.
At a moment in time when all our marketing jargon is hovering around the word “native” like flies to honey, we are witnessing a clinic in native advertising being held by a brand that resuscitated itself from a Qwick blip of a mistake.
Netflix has come back even stronger with quality original content and a new programming method that goes against every rule in the network playbook. By unleashing a marketing campaign featuring one of the most beloved families to be canceled by network TV, Netflix in essence redefining TV.
The announcement alone created a groundswell of hyper anticipation, the “what if” of an Arrested Development in the social era came to light and the show that was 7 years ahead of its time got a second chance at what it was designed to do. Create chatter. Tons of chatter, viral chatter, inside jokes, random references and vagaries that only social media could exploit.
As a content platform Netflix is vying to become a new kind of TV network and it is using a cancelled show to disrupt a model that viewers are fed up with.
A show that in its very nature is a platform for social commentary and a host for a brand orgy like nothing we have ever seen.
From iPhones, Google Maps and Lacoste polos, the University of Phoenix and Mike’s Hard Lemonade all featured along side fictional Bluth brands we one day may find on the shelves as well.
We see the likes of Bluth’s Frozen Bananas and the Cornballer woven neatly next to real life brands into the non sequitarian story lines of Arrested Development. A show, that by breaking all the rules, gives itself permission to create new rules that allow brands to flourish within its story lines.
It gives way to a kind of native advertising that doesn’t break the story but plays a cultural role in how it is told.
There are still a few more hurdles to overcome, now that Netflix has successfully launched a hit drama series in House of Cards, revived a cult favorite in Arrested Development it still remains to be seen if Netflix can finish the job and premier a full length movie perhaps at a premuim and also help support new award winning documentaries.
If so we will witness the birth of a new entertainment option. One that is social at its core and completely screen agnostic. Untethered from cable packages and able to break new ground.
Netflix the brand is now as strong as its ever been. Striking a balance between compelling original content series that is free of brand influence with fan favorites new and old strewn with brand mention both real and fictional. Netflix now flaunts a user base that is actually gladly paying for the service.
With the help of a cancelled network show, Netflix may have cracked the code for a new successful online network model.

April 28, 2013

Is Glass Google's iPod?

On October 23, 2001 Steve Jobs changed the world, he announced a Mac-compatible product with a 5 GB hard drive that put "1,000 songs in your pocket."
Some time around August 2011 a Google Glass prototype that weighed around 8 pounds was introduced to the world.
Unlike its hand held predecessor, the iPod, Glass is a Google-compatible product with about 12 GB of storage a 5 MP photo and a 720 video camera, wifi and Bluetooth connectivity and is completely hands free.
Welcome to a world through Glass.
The majority of our attention had been seduced by a bulky flickering screen, then completely devoured by a hand held device coupled with social media that ironically made us all much less social.
The smartphone untethered us from our computers but didn't do much for our manners. We ignore our dates, view live concerts and shows through 5 inch screens and have became completely heads down.
Is Google Glass the solution to our attention deficit?
Glass takes that distracting little gadget that we all hide behind and fades it away by embedding a into a wearable device.
Wearable computing is not a new phenomenon. The abacus ring made it's debut in the 1600s.
Steven Mann made Cyberfashion all the rage in the late 1970s and in the early 1980s the calculator wristwatch became the haute couture of geekdom.
Things got creepy when people started talking to themselves while wearing those Bluetooth Jawbone earpieces.
Glass promises to be a much different wearable experience.
It provides a wearer hands free augmented reality, bits of data are coupled with what the wearer is currently seeing in real time.
Pictures and videos can be taken and shared with the ease of a simple voice command and the world suddenly becomes a lot more interesting when you can Wiki pretty much anything you see.
In the near future the hardware will start to fade back into a pair of Warby Parker frames and as the battery life improves I believe there will be an explosion of users who will do much more with context rather than being distracted by content.
Glass promises to be one of those transformational devices similar to the iPod.
Even the Eric Schmidt the Google Chairman admits that talking to Glass is “the weirdest thing,” but is betting the bank on it becoming the company's gateway device to all of Google services.
I haven't had the chance to explore the world wearing Glass yet but I have been chosen as one of the first Explorers to get my hands on a pair and I am anxiously waiting to see if it is truly as transformational as promised.

April 3, 2013

House of Cards

Twitter just upped the social ante.
Updated Twitter Cards allow users to attach much richer media experiences to their Tweets, essentially creating the framework for what could be the foundation for a completely new robust mobile web experience.
From the outset, Twitter was natively mobile; its brevity lent itself quite nicely to the pace of mobile without compromising the experience.
We have all come to know, love, and embrace this network as a trusted source of breaking news, live event coverage, meme proliferators, and argumentative platforms.
Thought leaders and common folk alike can exchange repartee without having to author more words than needed to get their points across in a single lob.
Twitter has gained respect because it kept steadfast in its focus on what attracted its core audiences and did not try to be all things to all people, the way some other social platforms are trying to be. Twitter kept itself relevant enough for its community to define its purpose, and then embrace that purpose.
Using its brevity as a trojan horse for more robust functionality, Twitter was able to introduce expanded functions that didn't cannibalize its core function of delivering 140-character messages; rather, complementing that functionality and making the new expanded features completely seamless to use.
In June 2012, expanded Tweets debuted that allowed for embedded links, images, videos, and more robust content to live side by side with its signature 140-character headline. The feed was kept intact and uncluttered with any more content that you could digest while running to your next meeting or hopping on a subway with a single bar of signal left to get in that last refresh of Tweets.
Twitter has also become the platform of choice for covering live events.
Chasing storms, joining revolutions, live commenting during favorite televisions shows, and taunting the opposite team during sporting events. Twitter empowers its users to be in the moment without diminishing the moment, and keeps the conversation as dynamic as it can possibly be without in-person interaction.
On April 2 we got a peek into a new phase of the network, a phase that is foreshadowing some amazing features to come.
Twitter has announced that it will now be supporting mobile app deep-linking within Twitter Cards.
What this allows content creators to do is to expose content directly in app or actually download an app directly from a Twitter post.
Twitter Cards become mini-webpages, tiny websites that contain all of the key information we need to engage, interact, and then transact with one other in real time right through Twitter.
In addition to this new level of interactivity, Twitter has also introduced a new set of Cards.
The App Card as explained above will embed all of the pertinent information about an app, including the ability to install one directly from Twitter.
The Product Card is what excites me the most. It is the first step towards true social commerce. It is a brief product representation that allows for multiple product images, longer descriptions, pricing and even ratings embedded right into the expanded Twitter Card. Add a check out button and presto we now have a true social mobile commerce platform.
The third new Card is the Gallery Card and this new card represents an album or a collection of media such as photographs that can be shared via a single tweet.
Combine all of these new features with Twitter's new video platform Vine and we now have an extremely robust set of social tools that are natively mobile and meant to be consumed on the go.
No other network has come close to delivering this kind of native mobile experience.
I now view Twitter in a whole new light. It reframes a lot of what I do as a creative technologist in delivering ideas and solutions that are truly natively mobile.
Twitter is becoming the mobile web. Clunky browsers with pinch-and-zoom websites, hard-to-hit buttons, and content that is as unresponsive as a brick all seem useless on my mobile device. Cards are the natural evolution of the webpage on mobile devices.
My carefully curated network of trusted sources can bring me everything I need in a fast-paced stream that fits my mobile usage to a tee. I am also able to share so much more in a single Tweet.
As a marketer, I expect to see much more from brands in how creatively they can deliver on this new expanded layer of what I consider to be the most dynamic and mobile-friendly platform we have to date.
Twitter has constantly delivered on its core value. It has focused on its strengths.
Perhaps other networks, like Facebook, should pay attention to how Twitter is playing its hand.
Other networks need to learn that simply adding new features rather than exploring functionality that naturally complements what it already does best diminishes the platform. In Twitter's case, it has simplified the web for an ultra-fast-paced mobile experience.

December 31, 2012

The Edge of The Miraculous

Henry Miller once said "We live at the edge of the miraculous" 

Twenty thirteen is poised to be our edge of the miraculous.

The edge of the future.

This past year has seen a great shift of cultural change, economic turmoil, environmental revenge and the rise of communal commoditization.

Tides shifted everywhere and 2013 will be year 1 in this shift.

If you didn't spend 2012 consumed with some level of creating, inventing, writing, designing, dreaming, hacking, making shit or breaking shit or all of the above anything below this line is probably not going to make a whole lot of sense to you.

For those of you who were busy with all of the above then you know 2013 will be a year that will bring about the type of change that we can only call "miraculous".


A term often associated with religion or faith.

Not often something an industry hangs it's hat on.

Miracles are not something that can be fabricated or measured, they have no control, no longitudinal approach. There is no way to isolate their impact or to understand their perceptual dimensions.

Blasphemy aside. The word "miraculous" in this case is not a single divine event, it is a description for the order of magnitude of our particular shift in time.

The printing press, radio, TV and even the Internet were just the foundation for what 2013 will begin to make available to us.

2013 is the year that introduces us, the people, as the channel, the main channel, the most important channel. The channel we are always tuned into.

Social Networks will become the filters in which we express our lives, the access points to reporting and then consuming where we go, what we eat, things we like, people we love and the jobs we do.

Networks are the channels in which we tune into to consume ourselves, our family and our friends, each-other.

Social scientists can codify the rules and analyze behaviors, I am not smart enough to get into the specifics. But what I can do is help explain what this means to us as marketers and inventors.

Marketers and Inventors.

2013 will finally converge two worlds, two factions that make up the core of what we do.

Two factions that have been on a collision course since 1994.

Advertising & Technology.

Those who make channels, filters, lenses in which people can express themselves and those who figure out ways to identify, spotlight and communicate the context in which brands play in those expressions.

It is the year brands become part of the context of our lives rather than just the content we consume.

We will be the stars of the commercials, the focal point of the story-lines and our lives will be the context in which brands will be forced to make themselves known.

In Latin, ad vertere means “to turn the mind toward.”

Brand value exchange will become the way in which we as ad professionals will turn those minds and in return give people back those moments that were captured, shared and broadcast in ways that are richer, more fun and more robust.

Brands will rely on agencies to figure out how to insert and inject brand DNA or what may be referred to as Brand API into personal story-lines so that we may better communicate value in which brands lend themselves within the context of personal lives.

2013 has been a long time coming.

We will finally see innovation and technology becoming the primary method of how we inverse personal events and highlight brand values within those events.

Our jobs will become focused on building and enabling audiences to share and tell more stories so that the details inside of those stories can be highlighted on behalf of our clients and become implied endorsements that cross pollinate each others lives.

In 2013 privacy will start to be completely redefined and the public will be forced to make more informed choices about what they share and how they share while learning to be more in tuned to who is looking at the details and what those details really say about them.

2013 will draw the line in the sand and define where and when it is appropriate to disrupt or intercept.

Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other social networks will have to make tough decisions around business models and their approach to advertising as primary sources of revenue.

Users are going to become more vigilant around the tactics used by the networks they are on and will threaten revolt if networks don't back off and find less devious ways to exploit user context. The example of Instagram made sure those floodgates were opened early in the year.

The word mobile will start to go away in 2013 because everything will be mobile. We live in a world where it is not the screens that are mobile but it is us the users who are mobile.

Where content once reigned context will be king.

2013 will usher in other advances. 

The term responsive will finally have a single definition. A renaissance of content strategy where context decides what content is delivered.

Digital design will no longer be set creative schemas with strict user interfaces. Digital design will become an amorphous container that will change based on context not content.

We will see the demystification of technology.

Utility will be the new big idea.

3D printing will arrive. 2013 is going to be the year we start to see big brands leveraging the 3D printer to enhance the products they sell.

Twitter will become the first Social Broadcast Network.

Banks will start to allow people to "bank" social currency.

Your dollar (when linked to your social accounts) may be worth more than your friend's dollar.

Hard currency will be coupled with social status and the two will become forever intertwined.

I welcome 2013.

I welcome the new year with open arms and I am excited about the opportunities that will be made available to us as marketers.

The new channels to explore and the new areas in which to innovate.

I wish you all a Happy New Year and a successful 2013!

September 5, 2012

Social Concierge

It is no secret that I am what you would call a social media junkie. 

I would prefer the term digital anthropologist, however that may come off as a bit pretentious.

Regardless, I love studying human interaction online, on devices and physical computing as it pertains to everyday life.

I find it fascinating what people share, how they share and reading between all of the lines. 

What motivates someone to share a location, a thought, a picture, a link?

We are a generation obsessed with sharing and when that sharing starts to pay off we intuitively start to understand that the things we share become a kind of currency that starts to pay off through positive feedback, recognition or even in hard goods.

Sharing is the currency that fuels networks, it is the virtual oil in the virtual oil fields of our culture. 

The things we share echo far beyond our finite networks and may be seen by people across the world unbeknownst to the the person who originally posted the content. 

The potential for something to penetrate deeply and then permeate into culture is far greater than anything we have ever experienced before in human history and that is what excites me the most.

I recently went on a business trip to Los Angeles. 

I stayed at the Loews in Santa Monica. 

Traveling has taken on a whole new dimension now that Foursquare and Instagram allow me to flaunt everything I see and everyplace I go. It allows me to share where I am and what I am doing with my friends and get all kinds of positive feedback and recommendations about the area I am in.

Upon entering my hotel I checked in on Foursquare and snapped a cool Instagram pic of the view of the beach. 

Within a few minutes I was greeted by the hotel via Twitter with a tweet from the hotel welcoming me.

Upon responding I was immediately sent a tweet saying:

This made me feel great, it showed that the hotel was attune to what was going on in the social media streams in regards to their guests and by publicly greeting me and extending their hospitality it made me feel special.

But that was only the tip of the iceberg.

After I checked in I immediately headed over to the office for a long days work. 

Upon return to my hotel room I found a silver platter with a bucket full of iced down Coronas and a bowl of mixed nuts.

I didn't order this so I was a bit apprehensive about taking any thinking it was weight sensitive and I would be paying $30 a bottle for beer I can go get for $5 down the road.

But then there was something else there.

A hand written note.

It said: "Dear Mr. Elimeliah, Thank you for choosing to stay with us and posting it on your social media site! Please enjoy this amenity and "Welcome to the Beach! Sincerely, Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel"

I cannot even express how happy this made me feel. 

With what probably cost the hotel virtually nothing they made me into a customer.

There is no way that I am not staying there again on my next trip and I made it a point to share this experience with my networks and got a number of replies from influential friends who all thought this was pretty damn awesome.

I don’t know if this is a regular hotel policy or if it was an ad hoc moment where whoever is running the hotel social media responsibilities had the brilliant idea of carrying out this amazing tactic but it was brilliantly executed.

I wanted to share this expierence because I don't think that brands realize how easy and inexpensive it is to use social media as a way to connect with customers and put fourth a simple gesture that will potentially secure them a customer for life.

Well done Loews social media person, whoever you are.

June 26, 2012

Designer Data

Creativity has largely been influenced and owned by the traditional channels of the art world. 

The sweet candy of the eyes and the powerful potion of the ears.

All the pretty pictures and beautiful scenarios, shocking movies, seductive soliloquy and chaotic abstraction are classic tenets of the creative world.

However we are entering a new frontier of creativity, an age where data is becoming the clay in which creativity is molded with.

For centuries data has been shackled within the boring annals of the actuarial world. 

Its qualitative arms and quantitative legs bound by the weight of monotonous graphs and plebeian charts. 

Confined to bland colors and simple shapes and presented on canvases of slide shows and endless flowcharts and spreadsheets that would have any artists ready to run for the hills.

Data has long been held hostage in infinite rows and columns and kept at the lowest level of abstraction so that it may be processed into stale stacks of incomprehensable numbers and characters that have kept its creative potential out of the hands of artists for ages. 

Kept guarded by the mathematicians and the scientists who have claimed ownership over this powerful raw material in an attempt to keep it pure and of intellect, shielding it from the emotional perils of the art world.

Today data is as accessible as air, it is everywhere and in forms that make it conducive for creative applications and visualizations.

Data is the creative DNA in which our new and exciting app culture is built upon. 

Billions of bytes of chatter, gigabyte upon gigabyte of goodies all readily available to be played with and manipulated into tiny screens that help us do everything from managing our social lives to finding the best food trucks in our area. 

We now live on data, we feast on data and we consume data more than any other age in history.

The creative world is quickly becoming obsessed with data. 

Art and design is being driven by data, neatly packaged streams of massive amounts of human data, collected by the billions every single second of the day being transformed into neatly designed applications that fuel our creative juices and allow everyone to take part in the creative process.

Big ideas are now formulated not by an aesthetic execution but by the mixing and matching of strands of data, all different kinds of data, social data, urban data, physical data… the list is endless. 

Consumers pour their souls into computers and devices, they tweet and post and checkin, they bump and share and play, they fill oceans of data every single day and there seems to be an endless supply of different data to play with.

Its is an almost perfect ecosystem where consumers exude data and in turn breathe it back in.

Artists love mediums, especially mediums that are free, easy to use and can create world changing expressions. 

Data is this new medium.

April 12, 2012

Culture's Camera

I cannot take credit for the picture but I can take credit for the metaphor that I have attached to it.

I added the little Facebook/Instagram lock up.

Pop culture has it's camera.

Facebook just purchased a really expensive camera, a really really expensive camera, and rightly so.

The social nation exists because of the content that its citizens pour into it and when content is the lifeline of the network the network must then commit to providing those users with tools that will enhance the content they so rabidly share and ingest.

Facebook purchased Instagram for a whopping one billion dollars.

A company that has been in existence for 551 days and employs less than 15 people.

I ask myself, why couldn't Facebook, who already gets 8 billion photo uploads per month, simply build in a few fancy filters and emulate Instagram's functionality?

Doing so would have cost them no where near as much as they paid for Instagram.

Facebook understood the social and cultural relevance of what Instagram represented.

It wasn't simply an app that takes cool pictures but a lens in which its users look absolutely fabulous in but even more importantly a lens in which they endorse everything they love from a very intimate angle.

Polished user generated content.

Instagram makes no money, it's functionality is relatively simple and up until last week it relied completely on a single hardware platform.

So what gives? Why would Facebook take such a huge interest in Instagram?

Here is my take.

Facebook has been focusing on leveraging real posts as advertising.

People talking about brands and then brands sponsoring those stories to give them an extra boost through the network.

They are personal, they are authentic and they are engaging.

Now go to and type in Nike you will be blown away with the creativity and awesomeness of a brand in the wild.

Brands are no longer the only one telling the story, consumers are now producers and they have their own story to tell around a brand.

Facebook understands this and I think that is why they purchased Instagram for such a whopping amount of money.

It is the fastest way to own a public storytelling machine, now apply Facebook's ad model of boosting user generated stories and there you have it the world's most powerful ad engine boosting consumer endorsed, personal stories and content that is as genuine as it gets.

Facebook understood that Instagram was being used as the vehicle for the public to not only consume and share what they so intimately love but to share it in context for how those products and services live within their private lives.

A billion dollars may have actually been a bargain.

April 11, 2012

Play - to amuse oneself; toy; trifle; embed Spotify songs into all of your web properties.

March 20, 2012


The internet as we know it started off as a gated community where the likes of AOL helped to onboard the masses into what would be the most prolific and connected age of all mankind. 

Content, limited as it was, was housed in neatly kept buckets while chat rooms allowed for interactivity and engagement with other users.

Email, news, communication and connectivity was delivered in one neat little package.

Web browsers then bullishly elbowed their way in and opened up the web to allow for a more serendipitous perusal. 

Browsers let people navigate the web in a more free form way by breaking down the rails that AOL had set up to onboard it's users. 

However it was very difficult to find relevant properties without having a search function to bring up websites that matched what you were looking for.

Search engines then took hold and level set the two states and offered up the entire web in a much more organized fashion.

We now enter into a new age where the web is being blanketed and sectioned off into graphs. 

The social graph, as defined by Facebook in 2007 at the f8 conference is "the global mapping of everybody and how they're related", what this does for users is it offers them the ability to login to websites and applications that will automatically populate sessions with the personal data that Facebook makes so portable. 

The social graph also allows for friends to connect through these destinations and requires less time to get up and running by simply logging in with a Facebook account.

This kind of social portability and interaction is naturally embraced by users because we crave recognition and community to help boost our self esteems through the feeling of belonging to something and the hope that we get positive feedback on the content we view and share.

There is a certain kind of thrill a user gets when logging into a new app or website with a Facebook account and seeing the level of familiarity they are used to seeing on Facebook itself.

Facebook, as broad and as vast as it is only contains a certain amount of social information, kind of like the world's active directory, a glorified address book if you will.

The information contained in our portable social graph profiles allows for a very particular experience based on the information we carry.

At it's core the data we supply Facebook is highly social and somewhat disparate and tends to cause friction when advertising or other foreign, non-social data is introduced into the stream.

We also get caught up in the trap of talking to walls rather than to one another so conversations are less engaging and our profiles tend to resemble a messy wall of who we think we are or want to be.

Fear not, there are other graphs that are forming which will provide us with an identity that is much more robust and personal than who our friends are and what their statuses say.

These new graphs are also much more advertising friendly and actually allow us to collaborate with advertisers rather than feel like they are an intrusion on our personal streams.

The interest graph is an emerging layer that is taking the web by storm. 

The interest graph shares and provides websites with a much deeper level of personal interests based on content users have carefully curated to represent the things we collect, we have, want or aspire to get.

Pinterest is currently owning the majority of the interest graph by allowing users to curate highly creative and personal mood boards that will eventually give websites and applications access to a much more personal level of insight into a user.

The interest graph is much more focused on what we like than who we know and will revolutionize the way we shop, discover and curate content on the web.

Rogue services like Instagram, Cinemagram and other interest capturing apps will now have a much more native repository for images captured, filtered and animated and browser plugins will be focused on being able to cut and share all kinds of content from the depths of the web and put them directly on to our personal boards.

The term "Content is King" has never been more relevant.

We can literally dissect websites and media and re-aggregate it based on our own preferences. 

The interest graph will help to better serve up visual content that aligns us with our tastes in fashion, culture, movies, technology and images that we feel best represent who we are and what we stand for.

The interest graph will extend our network of friends way beyond those we have friended on the social graph helping to create new circles of friends based on common values and interests. 

The interest graph is still very much up for grabs, Pinterest has a strong lead in this category as the go to network for users to create interest profiles.

Aside from the societal and interest graphs another emerging graph that is taking shape is the active graph. 

Companies like Nike, Fitbit, Jawbone, and Garmin are all vying for top dog in this category. 

The active graph represents a more physical profile of a user and can be highly valuable in allowing users to access sites and services that help track all kinds of physical, emotional and health related data.

Data is now currency and currency requires banks to house and protect it, social networks such as Facebook, Pinterest and Nike Fuel are literally banks that want to securely house the precious data that is collected every second of the day by billions of people who are pouring personal data into their respective networks and then allowing us users to access that data through an almost infinite network of apps, websites and digital services.

Social networks are now redesigning themselves in ways that allow the network to milk the public of the most amount of personal data as possible in order to then make that data more valuable and used as the key to unlock millions of websites and apps that fall into the respective categories of social, interest and active.

Whole ecosystems and economies are being built around networks that own the largest portion of the respective graphs.

This data is gold and mining this data is like mining for precious metals or oil and needless to say it pays off big time.

The utility and organization that social networks provide us is what we get in return for supplying these repositories with our personal data.

Open Graphs enable us to navigate the web in a much more personal way, it gives us the ability to seamlessly insert our data in tons of creative configurations that automatically become highly personalized simply upon logging in.

The open graph race is a literally a land grab right now. 

The networks with the most users are the gatekeepers of these graphs. 

The king of the mountain will likely change hands often as new networks with better more robust functions appear.

It is important that we are aware of the fact that we are now labeled vertices across isomorphic graphs that will both intersect and collide until we figure out a clear hierarchy of graphs and subgraphs that will properly organize our information and allow us to use our personal data as a set of keys to unlock highly personalized experiences across all digital properties.

It will be an interesting transition to observe as we digitize everything we see and do into these networks, our entire culture, fueling the creativity of app designers and developers, website engineers and the like who want to use our personal data for building communities and utilities that will hopefully benefit our lives as people and make us more connected by enhancing our human interactions and not turning us into cyborgs that are conditioned to simply syncing our observations into a digital black hole.

July 6, 2011

Social Parsimony or Google+ Vs. Facebook

There was no way in hell I was going to miss an opportunity to articulate some of my thoughts surrounding Google+ and how I personally think it completely redefines the entire social ecosystem.

I consider myself one of the lucky few to have gotten early access to the new social network.

It is a rare opportunity to explore its environment and see it evolve before the onslaught of social dalliers start littering it with billions of bytes of content and continuous activity.

For now my stream mainly consists of people like myself who are getting a lay of the land in order to better understand its geography.

Not because we are sociologists but because most of us are in the business to create and communicate content and we are always looking for the best ways to deliver our content and disseminate it to our audiences.

We are the early explorers of new channels and we are typically a kind of litmus test for their eventual popularity because of the way we instinctually scrutinize the effectiveness of these new channels.

What excites me most about Google+ is that it isn't the new kid on the block that has to claw its way past its competition, it doesn't need to raise money, it needs no additional growth to compete and in many cases it already has the manpower to exceed any advances or innovations its competitors can try to come back at it with.

Google+ isn't something new, it is something that has evolved slowly over time.

Nothing truly great simply just appears.

Especially in the cases when greatness instantly explodes on to the scene, it eventually fades away because it doesn't have the wherewithal to withstand the complexity of the interaction that its users will require of it.
Greatness requires time and maturity.

Google+ is the eversion of tons of wildly successful and ubiquitous online tools all being sucked into one single place and energized by the force of social networking.

First Google perfected and contained the beast that is searching the web.
Then Google conquered personal email.
Google went on to reinvent video with YouTube.
Blogger became a writers paradise.
Analytics were made available for free to everyone big and small.
Google brought us the entire Earth and every single street and side road that is contained within it and exactly how best to navigate them.
It houses our images, and now our music, there are archives of books and a huge cache of free productivity tools.
Google also provides us with a cutting edge browser in which to peruse the web.
Oh wait, did I mention that Google is also the most popular mobile operating system and is quickly becoming a major player in the tablet and PC operating systems race as well?

Anyway... you get it, Google is huge!

And with a simple addition, using the sign for addition. Google adds a Social Layer on top of it all and appropriately calls it Google+ (g+).

Like some new variable in an equation, "g" represents an amorphous set of technological offerings that is forever adapting to accommodate its ravenous audiences. Plus (+) is the social layer that represents all of us.

Now you dont have to be a social media expert (although everyone claims to be one) to immediately see the similarities between Google+ and Facebook. The comparisons are obvious. However if you look deeper it will quickly become clear that Google+ has a much better chance of becoming the premier social network over the next few years.

Social media is made up of billions of rabid users. Highly social, competitive and technologically infatuated people who love nothing more than seeing themselves inside of the technology that most fascinates them. Technology that shines the best light on the personas that they maintain online.

A new subset of people who evolve culturally through a constant strive for identifying the "killer" that will eventually replace that which they find to be most advanced with something they are led to believe is even more advanced.

Feeding off of the drama of the eventual fall of the current titan and reveling in the defeat of the once beloved cultural epicenter. Then over valuing its victor with loyalty and adherence to its infrastructure.

We no longer take into account things like business models that have long term sustainability and profitability, instead we reward the victor through our own devotion and support. In praise of the mighty champion we flood its channel with billions of bits of personal information making it a valuable cistern of human content that can then be mined by corporations in order to better profit off of the golden nuggets of our souls that we so publicly reveal openly.

There is a principle called parsimony.

Parsimony is a rule that states that if there are two options and if one option is to be true, well-established social norms and etiquette must be either re-written, ignored, or suspended in order to allow it to be true, but if the other option is to be true no such accommodation need be made, then typically the simpler of the two options is much more likely to be accepted.

Basically people will migrate towards the network that gains them the greatest amount of accessibility and usability options that house our personas and is preferred to the one with the less complex options regardless of what is in actuality a better network. Its just how us crazy humans work.

Social network ecosystems like Twitter, Facebook & Google+ will naturally grow in size to accommodate the complexity of the human data being fed into the network.

But if the complexity of the data diminishes so will the size of the network.

Hence MySpace.

The less dynamic and complex the data the less dynamic and complex the network.

Now this is where Google+ wins.

Google has all of the tried and true tools that are already being used by billions of people worldwide. All Google has to do is simply and methodically converge all of these tools and it will continue to grow its Social Network dominance simply by exposing more and more of its already successful products within Google+.

It has been some time since I have been this excited about a new platform, especially since everything Google has done since its inception is all coming together now and the picture is starting to become more clear.

Mobile, Web, Social, Publishing, Productivity, Entertainment, Advertising, Navigation, Telephony and countless other vital tools for living in this new age all thrive within Google's veins.

I cant wait to see how this all plays out, my bet is that Facebook will not withstand the solid foundation and maturity that Google+ brings and will be relegated to AOL and Yahoo status. Facebook will survive on its fumes and hopefully weather a maturation phase to better define itself and its place in the social ecosystem or it will simply run out of resources as Google will continue to dominate yet another part of the web.

By the way, Twitter will be just fine.

June 7, 2011

Personal Gain

The origin and evolution of social networking has had many inroads, message boards were the earliest and most primitive form that roamed this new chaotic landscape of the Internet.

Ideas were being shared and distributed across small networks of early adopters, subjects mainly consisting of the new media itself. As the platform evolved networks like AOL fostered a new level of social sharing in the form of instant messaging and chat rooms dedicated to almost every topic known to man.

Websites were still very primitive and typically communicated in one direction. Early websites were a shallow bucket of information that was closed to comments and conversation.

Without the ubiquity and the transparency of two way communication brands and content creators were reluctant to open up their sites to public conversation.

Blogging was an evolutionary shift that blew the doors open to public sharing as we know it today.

Bloggers tend to be highly opinionated, precisely focused and generally catering to a particular niche of audience that cares to read and comment on a particular subject of interest. Blog commenting forced a certain level of transparency so that the conversations would be fair and controlled.

Social Media grew out of the womb of this kind of public sharing, our social media profiles are now deep enough to verify our identities and allow us to share our thoughts and essentially micro-blog everything that goes on in our lives. This transparency is a form of social currency that give strength to our voices.

Social networks encourage and enable us to record every second of our lives and in many cases it is the recording and sharing of our lives that helps dictate many of the decisions we make throughout the day.

Where to go for lunch may be based on a Foursquare check-in made by a friend, a business deal may have evolved from a simple Twitter exchange, a relationship could hinge on who may have poked you on Facebook today or what your official relationship status is. Political views and status comments now quantify our social positioning and how the world views us as individuals.

But I ask myself, how has this really improved our lives?

How has this contributed to our advancement as human beings?

How do we benefit from being more social than ever before?

I try to weigh the pros and cons of every permutation of sharing across all kinds of topical social networks and I still wonder where the personal benefit is gained.

There are metrics that weigh sentiment and influence, popularity and frequency that have obvious benefits to brands that glean deep insight into the markets they service but where are the personal analytics that give social media users the metrics for success or failure in our own personal lives?

How can we gain deep analytical insight into improving ourselves?

How can we take a step back and click a button and see how we can better our own lives through the analysis of our social media activity?

I'm sure anthropologists and psychoanalysts could have a field day with this. Examining profiles and offering advice and insight into a persons behavior just by reading a log of an individuals social media stream over the course of a few days, weeks or years.

Imagine your therapist asking to see your past years Twitter posts to better understand your issues, imagine if there were analytical tools that gave you the power to read between the lines and help you figure out who you are and where you should be focusing your efforts in life?

This is a gaping void in the world of social media and as more and more people realize that this information can be used for the betterment of their own lives we will see more and more money being poured into services and tools dedicated to this purpose.

What better way to use the information we share every second of the day than to help us become better people?

So I throw out this thought and hope that we collectively realize the potential of the billions of bits of personal information we share with the world every day.

May 24, 2011

No Stone Unturned

We have entered an age where our attention is constantly occupied by all kinds of new spaces.

We are no longer limited to television, radio, outdoor signage and other traditional spaces where content, specifically ads, have been intruding upon our lives.

Technology, specifically mobile technology, has taken us even deeper into our attention caves.

Our focus now lives comfortably in deep cavernous spaces, in new and undiscovered places.

Smart phones, eBooks, tablet computers, Netflix, YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter streams. Tagged photos, online radio streams, text messages, Wifi signals, location check-ins and local deals have cannibalized our attention away from the old television commercials, ancient billboards, sagging signage, morbid magazine ads and so on.

It is the age of digital distraction and these distractions are both complex and constantly changing.

To capture audience attention we now have to start communicating in places that are very different than the past. Places that we haven't yet discovered or even fully understand.

Communicating in these new spaces requires new kinds of techniques and a new kind of language, a more stealth and subtle way of storytelling. It requires us to not only tell our stories but to disrupt and inject them directly into real life situations. As virtual as they may seem.

It has been ages since I have used a traditional phone, my cell phone is my main line of communication.

I recently used a land line, upon picking it up I heard a dial tone, a white noise that lets us know that there is a signal and that we can start dialing. It immediately occurred to me that this tone is a completely wasted opportunity. Why didn't the carriers stick a message in there?

A similar thing happened when I was walking down the street, completely immersed in my iPhone, suddenly alert messages started popping up informing me of nearby hot spot locations.

These signals were coming from apartments, businesses, office building and even personal roving hot spots. Except all I was seeing was either a silly name or some jumbled letter & number combination.

Why not communicate through these micro channels that are ubiquitous to all and have our undivided attention?

This led me to sit down and to think about all of the new "places" that exist today, it now excites me to find and try to come up with creative ways to communicate through those tiny spaces.

I am extremely lucky to live in NYC, it is a great opportunity to explore some of the new, less conventional or less obvious, places that people are spending the majority of their time in and to find creative ways to enter into those spaces and communicate a message in the new and unique language that the spaces require.

So next time your out for a stroll take the time to look around and notice all of the amazing opportunities that technology offers us as marketers. Think about new ways to communicate with a population that is now living in these spaces, try and find creative ways to augment and enhance these spaces and try to retrofit your ideas to live in these new and interesting environments.