Category Archives: Web sites

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?

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Interactive Web Sites and Hip Hop

Screwing around on StumbleUpon today, I came across this site.

An interactive site detailing the bio of German super DJ Tomekk and his record label F-Records, this site leads you through an interwoven story about Tomekk’s career, and the growth of the label.

I spent a good 30 minutes just playing around with this site, primarily because of the infectious beats and the presence of KRS-One. If you like hip hop and/or interactive marketing, I highly suggest you check it out.

The Simpsons Go Interactive

If you’re like most people my age (in your late 20s or early 30s), you grew up watching The Simpsons. The longest running cartoon in history, the Simpsons first aired in 1989 (’87 if you count the shorts from the Tracey Ullman Show). 22 years later, it’s still going strong.

And while I consider myself a big fan of the show, I can’t help but feel that on yesterday’s season finale they jumped the shark. The plot, which was fairly weak for a Simpsons season finale, revolved around a romance between ancillary characters Ned Flanders (the annoying neighbor) and Edna Krabappel (Bart’s teacher).

To give you some back story in case you live under a rock and have never seen the show, Flanders is a uber-religious conservative, whereas Edna has a rather checkered romantic past with lots of partners. You may have expected hilarity to ensue from this unlikely pairing – it didn’t.

But that brings me to my point – at the end of the show, Ned was having doubts about continuing to date such an experienced woman and was debating whether he should continue their relationship. And here The Simpsons producers did something rather unusual: they left this decision up to the fans.

By logging onto thesimpsons.com, fans of the show can vote on whether the couple should stay together.

While I like the idea of including the viewers in show decisions, from an established show like The Simpsons, it seems like a desperate ploy for attention. This is particularly true when you consider how irrelevant these characters are to the show in general. Sure, Ned’s Christian morals play a good foil to Homer’s buffoonery, and Mrs. Krabappel is a nice antagonist to Bart’s antics, but they’re simply just not very interesting characters on their own.

And while I understand the desire to leave the fans wanting more by leaving questions unanswered on the season finale (sort of like their “who shot JR?” take-off “who shot Mr. Burns?”), as a longtime Simpsons fan, I can honestly say, I don’t care. I don’t care whether Nedna stays together.

Bringing the audience into plot decisions is an innovative approach to television, but interactivity for its own sake seems like a waste to me. But then, what do I know? I’m just a guy.

What dreams may come

You should  check out  Ana Somnia, the story of a girl’s dreams told through drawings and music. It’s super captivating and one of the most creative things I’ve seen in a while.

This site is the work of Rostlaub, which apparently is a group of German creatives (check out their other work here).

Lebron knows marketing


Provided you don’t live under a rock, you’re probably aware of the current Lebron James situation, ie, he’s going through the most highly publicized free agency in the history of American sports.

What you may not know is that King James is set to announce which team he’ll be playing for on his newly redesigned Web site (lebronjames.com). What’s truly amazing about Lebron (other than his nearly unparalleled basketball skills, obviously) is how forward thinking he is.

At only 25, LBJ has repeatedly demonstrated his understanding that he is more than just arguably the best basketball player in the universe. Now, taking a cue from his idol, Michael Jordan, he’s latched on to the fact that he is an entity. Simply by being associated with his name fortunes are made. Nike, McDonald’s and Coca-Cola are all associated with James, to everyone’s benefit.

Now, realizing that his announcement will be THE story of the summer for sports, Lebron has found a way to profit on the excitement. Offering an email sign-up, it seems James is going to treat his free agent signing like a highly-touted high school player on signing day, with team caps and everything. And while awaiting the announcement, visitors to the site will be viewing commercials of Lebron’s sponsors.

While it remains to be seen how Lebron will use his Web site after the announcement, one thing is almost certain: he’ll continue to find ways to capitalize on his fame.

Facebook takes over the Internet

If you’re reading this, you’re probably on Facebook. Almost everyone is these days. As such, you’ve surely noticed the FB now allows you to connect to almost everything on the Web. From news stories, to University sites, you can now “like” or comment on almost anything.

As Facebook looks for ways expand its value online and increase its overall exposure, you’ve probably already come across something like this  (from an article on CNN.com):

On the one hand, this is a very interesting strategy, as it further unites the online world. By being able to share and comment on virtually anything with ease, it really creates a strong sense of community.

On the other hand, it further destroys the myth of online anonymity and privacy. Obviously you don’t have to comment on something if you don’t want to, but by utilizing your Facebook profile in this manner, you’re no longer hiding behind an avatar or screen name. It’s really you, out there for the world to agree or disagree with.

Personally, I’m undecided how I feel about this development. I do enjoy the compatibility it provides as we move ever closer to total Web integration. Additionally, I like that people can’t hide behind their screen names to make hateful and/or incendiary comments for their own sick amusement.  But I also worry about over-saturation. For example, do I really need to know how one of my acquaintances feels about the European Union’s stance on immigration or the Raiders’ draft class? Probably not. If this new Facebook integration crosses into that territory, it may become more of an annoyance than a useful tool, but I suppose that still remains to be seen.

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?