Category Archives: technology

I knew the internet was good for something

Online crowd-sourcing has unraveled the molecular structure from an enzyme in an AIDS-like virus found in Rhesus monkeys.

Link

Pretty fascinating stuff, really. The possibilities for this are amazing, using the world wide web as a sort of collective conscious to solve difficult problems.  I knew there was something more than online games, celebrity gossip, and porn on the internet.

Google+ hits a wall?

According to this article, Google+ traffic is falling.

No surprise here.  Personally, I’ve found it to be rather boring. Perhaps its because many of my friends aren’t yet on there, or maybe because the few people who are aren’t particularly active, but whatever the reason, I’ve found it to be much less engaging than Facebook or Twitter, despite the fact that it’s sort of a hybrid between the two.

Will it pick up? Probably, Google basically runs the internet. Then again, maybe not, who knows?

The Death of Cable TV

I hate my cable company. They provide mediocre service and arbitrarily raise their rates without warning. I sometimes lose reception for absolutely no reason whatsoever, and they have an uncanny knack for dropping my favorite channels, sometimes without offering any replacement. Quite honestly, it’s a terrible company.

I’ve considered dropping them for some time now, but have hesitated, primarily because I like my morning SportsCenter, and hate waiting to watch shows when they finally show up online (okay, it’s not a long wait, but what do you expect? I’m from the “me” generation. I demand instant gratification). But while in the course of my daily Web surfing, I came across this article on CNN.

The gist of the article is how an ever-increasing number of people are saying “sayonara” to traditional cable and relying solely on the World Wide Web for their media and entertainment.

Here’s a how-to article on the same topic.

FEARLESS PREDICTION: In 20 years  the traditional cable company will no longer exist. All television (except live events, obviously) will be on-demand. We’ll no longer be chained to our televisions, DVRs or Tivos. Instead of worrying that we forgot to tape The Office on Thursday night, we’ll simply plop down on Tuesday afternoon and watch the latest episode whenever it suits us.

These are truly interesting times we live in, as we inch ever closer to total integration between our electronic devices. Already we can link our iPods to our Playstations, which we play while connected to the Internet on our Hi-Def televisions. It’s truly remarkable that all of these devices can interact with one another, and it’s only going to become even more widespread.

And when the death knell of the cable companies finally sounds, they’ll have no one to blame but themselves. Of course by that time, they’ll probably be providing us with crappy internet service (if they’re not already).

Your Best Director Oscar Awaits…

I know it has been a while since I posted anything new, and I thought now would be a good time to revive this blog. After all, if I’m going to keep all six of you reading this, then I have to have something new every few weeks at least. Thus I present you with my latest discovery, xtranormal.com.

I found this site when a friend emailed me this video, which unfortunately, will not embed in WordPress. A humorous video of a discussion between rival fans of Kansas and Kansas State, I found it thoroughly entertaining, as did most of my Jayhawk brethren.

But the real beauty of this video is not in it’s content, though it is quite funny, but rather in its form. By utilizing the software available on Xtranormal, anyone, regardless of technical ineptness, can create their own movie, complete with dialogue. The possibilities this opens up to a creative person are limitless.

Take me, for example.  For months I planned on creating a stop-motion video for my professional Web site (bfrederick.weebly.com – yes, that’s a shameless plug).  Unfortunately, because I have a PC, rather than a Mac, it created endless frustration, primarily because Windows Movie Maker will insert a small break between slides which also interrupts the musical track. Thus the soundtrack sounds like a badly scratched CD, which is completely unacceptable.

But now, by using the simple drag-and-drop interface that Xtranormal has provided, I can be the next Tarantino (or at least his cartoon equivalent). Ain’t technology grand?

The rise of the machines

Anyone who has seen Terminator, or The Matrix, or any one of the countless imitators those movies has spawned, surely knows it’s only a matter of time before the machines we depend upon so much rise up and kill us, their human overlords. Before this happens, one of the requisite steps is the creation of artificial intelligence. When this is viable, the machines (or machine, if you prefer the Terminator doomsday scenario) will become self-aware and kill us all.  Armageddon may be just around the corner, thanks to recent technological advances, not least of which is Google Goggles.

Google Goggles is a new application available for Android phones that acts as a visual search tool. By pointing the phone’s camera at an object, you can search the Web for related topics.

I haven’t had a chance to play with this yet (my phone is something of an antique), but from all reports I’ve heard, it works surprisingly well.

What’s truly interesting to consider is all the doors that this type of device can open up. Forgot someone’s name? Do a quick search based on their picture. Want a recipe for a certain dish? Just point and click. Want to know where something was made? Just look it up.

For marketers the options are endless as well. By running in the background, a program like this could recognize where you are shopping or what you’re looking at and instantly pull up nearby places with similar options or better prices. While you’re looking at flat screen televisions in your local electronics store, your mobile device (it hardly seems fair to call them phones anymore), can pull up TV prices for all the stores in a three-mile radius. Why pay twice as much, when you can easily find the cheapest store in your area? It could honestly be the death of retail as we know it. People will likely still make some purchases based upon convenience and traditional sales factors, but devices like this will ensure that price is king.

Of course this isn’t all roses and puppy dogs; there are some drawbacks, rise of the machines aside :-). First is the astonishing lack of privacy that this creates. But then, in this age of information, privacy is primarily just a myth anyway.

Secondly the destruction of competition is a cause for concern. Small mom-and-pop stores are already over-matched when facing retail giants like Walmart and Best Buy. If you provide concrete evidence that their prices are significantly higher than their mega-competitors (as they surely are), they will be driven out of business. The spirit of entrepreneurialism (is that a real word?) will be gone. Of course, the exponential growth of technology will probably find a way around this. At least I hope it will.

Collective local exploration

Are you familiar with Foursquare? If you’re following the social media explosion you should be.  A sort of local Twitter, Foursquare is a locally-based social network that allows people in the same city to connect and share experiences both online, and through mobile devices.

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Utilizing a real-time stream of tweets (for lack of a better word), users roam the city, racking up points for checking in from new locations, offering tips to other users and exploring different parts of the city. These points, in turn, change your ranking on the site’s leaderboard for that city. And to give noobs a chance, all stats reset at midnight on Sunday night. Thus, users are playing a weekly game against not just their social circle, but also against every user in the city.

Additionally, the app allows you to save a “to-do” list, earn badges, become the “mayor” of a favorite haunt and share your location, when desired. While its not available everywhere (currently 17 US  and 3 international cities), it’s growing popularity no doubt capitalizes on the Twitter generation’s love of sharing their experiences with as broad an audience as possible.

Even cooler, in certain cities, Foursquare has partnered up with 8coupons to promote specials at local eateries, bars, etc. According to a Mashable article, Foursquare users within a three-block radius are sent automatic notifications of deals. This allows users to discover new places, finding the best that their city has to offer, while allowing merchants a new channel to market their products and services.

By cross utilizing social networking with location-based marketing, the partnership between Foursquare and 8coupons offer a glimpse of the seemingly limitless future of new media and social marketing.

Now there’s an app for everything

Overlooking the fact that my current cell phone is about two years old and approximately as up-to-date as a laser disc player, I love mobile applications. iPhone, Android, it doesn’t matter, the entire concept is intriguing and opens lots of interesting marketing opportunities.  In addition to the gradual emergence of location-specific apps and marketing devices, I particularly like how some brands have latched on to trend.

Check out this article from Advertising Age: adage.com/digital/article?article_id=138974

The coolest apps are things like the Benjamin Moore Color Capture that lets you match paint to any color and the Chipotle ordering system that lets you bypass a long line.

Write it down, these are the future. As 4G devices become more prevalent, you’re going to see more and more product and location specific applications popping up. In order for them to be successful, they’ll have to have a relevant use, but I’m sure ad agencies and marketing departments are working right now to come up with the next great app that also helps sell their product.