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Made in New York

June 8, 2011

For those who don’t know, it is Internet Week here in New York.  It’s a chance for all the tech geeks to come out of their holes and have some fun, while networking along the way.  Even though it’s a monthly event, I decided to attend the New York Tech Meetup last night and wasn’t disappointed.

Highlights include Skill Share, a website facilitating education.  It pairs amateur teachers with eager students for in-person classes.  The teachers make a couple of dollars and the students learn something, hopefully. I’m actually going to sign up for something in my area today.  Another was Sleeps with the Fish.es, a web based Twitter game.  The game itself wasn’t very interesting (involving bit.ly’s and killing), but the creator and presenter blew my mind.  He was charismatic, nerdy and clearly brilliant – oh and only in high school.  To think what I spent my time doing in high school…

Though, those are not the biggest take aways of the night.  New York’s tech scene has been booming in the last five or so years, giving Sillicon Valley a run for its money.  Notably, the technology coming out of New York seems to be much more collaborative (think Etsy) and less of a product (think Microsoft) than what’s in California.

The creator of Meetup challenged companies to move all of their technology here.  That means the coding, the business and production and to add a tag next to the copyright: Made in New York.  Four Square did this years ago, adding” ❤ Lovingly Made in New York” to its tech. It’s a declaration of pride, but it’s also calling attention to the New York tech scene, encouraging more technologists to flock here.

Check out NYTM.org/made for information on the companies that are made in New York (and hiring) and what it means to be made here.  Just like Jay-Z’s song, Empire State of Mind, last night made me proud to be a New Yorker.

Context (Not) Optional

May 29, 2011

I sit here typing away a blog post on my laptop, something that you may read on your desktop, laptop, iPad, BlackBerry, RSS, etc. When I create it, however, I am only considering those who will enjoy this post in the same manner in which I created it: at theacumenity.com.  However when my posts appear in the Google Reader, often the pictures are missing or out of place and the spacing isn’t as I had planned, thus destroying what I had crafted.  As the way we consume media and the internet evolves, so must publishing.

Upgrading to the Android has changed the way I consume media and use my computer. Before, the computer was often the easiest way to gather information, consume entertainment and check my social media.  However, with the full Android (or Apple) app market, many of these tasks are actually made simpler on the my phone.  Similarly, the iPad requires much less finesse than my laptop and is more portable, so I find myself reaching for that first.  As a result, my internet habits have changed and those publishing content on the interwebz should take notice.

Granted, many already have.  Several popular magazines rushed to issue iPad apps that would turn the tablet into a magazine.  It did not occur to me the effect tablets and e-readers could have on the already suffering magazine industry, already wounded by blogs.  However, the magazines should have realized that merely adapting the same product for a new medium wouldn’t work and the magazine apps haven’t.  Instead, they should adopt new ways to stay relevant, like Lucky’s Gilt-esque Lucky Breaks.

Similarly social media applications, which may have first existed on the internet alone, have to find ways to attract the mobile user (the laziest of all users).  Brands on Facebook are well served by placing links to content or tabs in the post itself, as many users are not reading the update on the brand page.  Initiatives like texting to enter a contest or donate money are particularly effective as the user doesn’t have to do anything they aren’t already doing.

The companies and brands that will succeed in the coming months and years are those that can not only understand how its users are consuming content, but also how they are engaging with said content on each particular platform. Obviously, easier said than done.

Do you have any examples of companies or brands doing it right (or wrong)?

Must-Follow Blog

May 15, 2011

Idontthinkicanwalk.com

Never have I been more proud of my sister.  No longer am I the only blogger in the family: http://ithinkiatetoomuch.com/.

My sister is known for having quite an appetite, and thanks to Tumblr and her iPhone she can share her gluttony with the world. Soon I believe she will be accepting photos from other people who ‘eat too much,’ so consider sharing yours as well.

Bon appetit!

Interacting with Brands

May 8, 2011

I don’t often write about what I do for a living (mostly because after doing it all day I need a bit of a break), but I’ve been reading and thinking a lot recently about how consumers interact with brands and how that is redefining what a brand means.  I want to reach out to my readers to see what their opinions are, mostly because I fear there’s a bit of group-think among marketers.

Historically, brands were defined by the very controlled messaging the company released.  This would include products, ads, press releases and comments to the press.  Recently with the rising popularity of social media, consumers have started using brands to brand themselves.

The idea of a ‘personal brand’ receives a lot of flack for being trendy, but even if people don’t realize they are doing it, they are affiliating with other brands to create their own.  This isn’t a new idea – it was popularized in the 80’s when companies started placing logos on clothes as an external marker of the brand (think Lacoste, Nike etc.).  Social media makes it even easier: Facebook users can simply ‘like’ a brand and the affiliation is placed on their profile for the world to see. People also create websites or Twitter handles either building up or tearing down a brand.

For better or worse, the consumer actions actually affect the brand.  If someone searches for, say, McDonalds after seeing a new ad, she is likely to find not only information about the new ads, but also YouTube spoofs and tweets about the ad (behold the power of Google).  As a result brands are trying to find ways to control and direct the conversation online about its brand.  This is the intersection of customer service and PR.

Some brands reach out to the people talking about them.  Some create venues for people to discuss the brand and company.  Others create communities where their fans already frequent.

The first is particularly effective and time intensive, but mostly useful for companies about whom people complain, not as effective for more innocuous brands.

The second is great in theory, but only works if consumers will go to the site.  This means they will have to get something out of it, so likely the brand will have to post and share content (obviously updated frequent to maintain interest).

The third seems to be the most popular choice for the largest number of companies.  It seems like most brands have Facebook and Twitter now – some are even including the tag in the mass ads.  Facebook represents the community of the world where people can not only find and interact with friends, but also with their favorite brands.  People go to our Facebook page to talk about how much they love our product, but also to complain about bad experiences.  We share news, deals, content and more with our community.

That said, I would never personally engage on a brand page.  Being in the business, I know it’s a great way to get an issue resolved quickly (seriously, this is something I lose sleep over as I manage two pages), but I’m not going to go praise my favorite brands for their great clothes this season or thank them for the great experience (this is expected these days anyway).  I also don’t use Facebook enough to keep up with deals or coupons. Though, maybe I can not the target consumer.

I am curious, how have you engaged with brands in the past?  How would you like to interact with them?

Favorite Android Apps

May 3, 2011

With the upgrade from BlackBerry to Android, the biggest change seems to be apps.  The apps take a device created primarily for emailing and business and make them a toy.  There are apps for just about everything, with new ones being created every day.  Apps for things that make your life better and ones for things you didn’t realize you needed.  I’ve had the most fun finding new apps and figuring out how to use them over the past couple of days.  These are my top apps for Android:

  • Gmail – Full Gmail capabilities, easy labeling and archiving
  • Facebook – Great for messaging and news feed, other features are lacking (can’t access brand pages)
  • Twitter – Standard Twitter client
  • Foursquare – Far superior to BlackBerry version.  Easy to find new places and play the game by seeing friends’ points
  • Google Voice – Similar to Gmail client, brings voice mail to life
  • GroupMe – The best way to keep in touch with groups with SMS.
  • Foodspotting – A great app for the “foursquare of food.” Rather than finding places you find dishes.  Awesome UG photos
  • Places – Discover new places with Google as your guide
  • Words With Friends – The best game out there.  No joke.
  • Pandora – Listen to you music on the go, part of the Music Genome Project
  • Shazam – Ever in a bar and hear a song you like?  Capture it with Shazam
  • Rdio – Radio/Playlists socialized.  Share personalized streaming music playlists (not free).

What do you think is missing from the list?

Upgraded to Android: About time

May 3, 2011

I have been a long-time BlackBerry user.  I have frequently written about BlackBerry – both positively and negatively, but have overall been pleased with the experience.  It’s great for emailing and, with Mini Opera, sufficient for browsing the internet.  Most popular apps are available for BlackBerry, including the irreplaceable BBM.  I actually considered keeping my BlackBerry just for BBM.

Enter the Atrix.  I have been looking at the Motorola Atrix for quite a while.  It’s the newest Android available on AT&T with the 2.2 OS.  The Atrix is a pretty sleek phone with 4G speeds (or at least with the newest update it can reach 4G).

My first impressions have been positive.  It has a wonderful bold screen, interesting and intuitive UI and plenty of apps to entertain. The negatives have been battery life (at least compared to the BB), touch keyboard and the fact that it still dropped calls.  Without a doubt, the connect and sound quality is better than my BB, but I did still drop a call twice while walking 20 blocks tonight.

Overall, I am very happy with my new toy!

Does anyone need a tablet?

April 16, 2011

While I am not an Apple fan girl, I do think the iPad is pretty neat.  I highly anticipated the release of the iPad last year and was constantly facsinated whenever I could get my hands on one.  Ironically, I did not purchase an iPad (ya know, post-grad life is tough), but my mother did.  Still as more companies release products, I am asking myself if I really need one.

Tablets actually have a long history.  I remember seeing them in the early 2000’s, with a few high school classmates opting to take notes on tablets rather than on paper.  These tablets were fully functioning laptops too.  However, they seemed to have little application beyond academia and failed to catch on.

Then came the Amazon Kindle.  I distinctly remember the first time I saw one.  I was afraid to hold it for fear I would drop and break it.  It isolated one feature (namely the e-reader capability) and capitalized on it – thereby creating a need for the consumer.  Who wants to be loaded down by BOOKS!?

Competing booksellers like Borders and Barnes and Nobles also released their e-readers, with less success. Still the game was in e-reading with UI and color being the largest differentiators.

Then Steve Jobs decided to move in and box out the competition with the iPad.  This was a new device entirely.  It had the capability of an e-reader, but also the cool/convenience factor of an iPhone.  It wasn’t a an e-reader, but it wasn’t a lap top.  But it was something we all needed.  Or so Steve told us.

While the iPad is cool and has an undeniable design factor, I am still not convinced that I would need it.  My mother, on the other hand claims to LOVE her iPad.  It simplified her life while providing her entertainment.  She downloaded lots of apps and uploaded her music and was converted.

Well, when the new iPad came out, my mother decided to upgrade to the iPad 2, she offered her old one to me.  Of course, I didn’t hesitate to accept and counted down the minutes until it arrived.  Since then I haven’t quite figured out how to integrate it into my life.  It’s kind of like a giant iPod or a great way to watch YouTube and great for Words with Friends and Angry Birds.

I brought my new iPad on the BoltBus today in hopes of making my trip to Philly pass more quickly, however I only listened to podcasts.  maybe it’s my own fault for not downloading better apps, but I really don’t see a place for it for me. Still, I am traveling next week and will bring it on the trip, so it may very well earn its keep during that week, and I will report back accordingly.

Do you have a tablet? Do you have any apps you can’t live without?

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