Tag Archives: Internet

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.

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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 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).

What Really Motivates People

This is a really interesting animation accompanying a talk from Dan Pink on motivating people and what really works. I think you may be surprised by the conclusions it draws.

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.

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 online culture

Believe it or not, I was just rick rolled. Completely unsuspecting, I innocently clicked on a seemingly innocuous link, only to be greeted with this:

You may remember this phenomenon. A few years back you couldn’t visit a forum or Web page without seeing some link that begged to be click. On a hip hop forum, it might be “NEW TRACK – WU TANG ft 2PAC“, a sports page might have “LEBRON DUNKS FROM 3-POINT LINE“. Whatever it was, it was something lots of people would click. And when you did, who greeted you but Mr. Rick Astley, performing his biggest hit. (Be honest, you clicked one of those links didn’t you?:-) This was known as rick rolling, and it quickly became the biggest Internet meme of all time.

But what is a meme? British scientist Richard Dawkins is widely considered the originator of the term, having introduced it in his 1976 book The Selfish Gene. He defined the term as “a cultural item that is transmitted by repetition in a manner analogous to the biological transmission of genes.” In other words, it’s a piece of shared culture that is passed from person to person, essentially an inside joke shared by millions.

Of course when Dawkins wrote this book, it was well before the advent of the Internet as we know it. He surely had no idea the twist that the Internet would add to this concept. Thanks to the rapid sharing of information allowed by the Web, these inside jokes, at least the successful ones, spread like wild fire.  Almost everyone by now has been exposed to some of these.

A few of the more memorable memes:

McDonald’s Rap

Dramatic Chipmunk

All Your Base are Belong to Us

Of course not every meme has to be a video. The LOLcats, Fail Blog and One Red Paper Clip were and are incredibly popular internet memes.

But now the question remains, how can a company harness the power of this phenomenon to raise awareness and generate revenue for themselves?

One way is through the use of viral videos, or other catchy commercials. A perfect example of this is the FreeCreditReport.com commercials, catchy and fun, they attract a lot of attention on both television and the Web. Anyone who owns a television by now knows all the words to these infectious and amusing jingles, making these commercials a highly effective meme.

According to Melo Villareal at Manila Freelancer:

“Memes allow a marketing company to actually control the informative content of a certain website. At the same time a company can use a casual, light approach of marketing in the form of writing. Also, memes allow marketing companies to swiftly get vital information out to the vast customers. And since memes are “contagious” in nature, it is very likely that information will spread like wild fire in no time.”

Additionally, the use of memes creates a sort of sub-conscious peer pressure. If many people are familiar with a particular meme, those not in the know will seek it out, ostensibly to see what the buzz is about. Thus, by utilizing memes, companies are taking full advantage of peer-to-peer marketing, a leftover from the junior high days, and a highly effective form of marketing.

Of course the real reason why memes are successful as marketing tools is likely the same reason why social media has caught on among marketers: it allows for a two-way conversation. By allowing feedback, marketers are allowed a glimpse into the minds of potential customers. By seeing what these customers do and do not like, they are better able to understand both them and their purchasing habits. And isn’t that really the ultimate goal?

For further examples of successful memes, check out Know Your Meme.