Monday, September 30, 2013

Jeff Weiner's Wrong Proclamation on Google+

On August 28th 2011 I wrote an article on Media & Tech, the now-shuttered predecessor to this blog - techTrampoline:

At first blush, I thought Jeff Weiner, LinkedIn CEO, was just mouthing off:
As Weiner sees it, until recently three main networks saw the most usage: Twitter, for “microcasting” short snippets of information; Facebook, for communicating with family and friends; and LinkedIn for “your professional life.” That leaves little room for Google+, he argues. “You introduce Google+, where am I going to spend that next minute or hour of my discretionary time? I have no more time.”
Reference:  LinkedIn CEO says Google+ can’t “coexist” with Facebook and Twitter.

Jeff Weiner
We’re not in Mr. Weiner’s head, and not privy either to the brain thrust at work within LinkedIn’s corner office. So how are we to take his comments?

They’re ignorant

Whether it’s time well-spent or time down-the-drain, we resourceful human beings seem to have plenty of either. And both. In any given moment, we can focus on the task at hand in the office, while taking periodic ‘sneak peaks’ in our Facebook and Twitter news feeds. So there is time available for anything, it seems. Moreover, Weiner says that while we can do social media and watch TV, we can’t do two social medias at the same time, such as facebooking and tweeting at the same time.

I beg to differ. I’ve chatted with a friend on Facebook, while we chatted on MSN Live and BlackBerry Messenger at the same time. I was Skyping with another friend, when one time she revealed that she had five computer monitors on her desk. Oh, man, she was facebooking on me, plus reading the news etc., while talking to me.

So not just two, but multiple social media at the same time. With our innate ability to find time and to multitask, then, how can Weiner possibly say there is little room for Google+?

They’re understandable
Maybe he’s just trying to talk down a competitor.
Reference:  LinkedIn Boss is Down on Google+.

With the rapid uptake of Google+ since the launch of its beta site at the end of June 2011, with a reported 25 million membership, there must’ve been some shifting, quaking, and rumbling of the very floors on which top executives at Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn stood.

So Weiner neatly delineates how each of the major social media sites is used. From what I understand, Google+ has its ‘eyes’ on capabilities and features that would allow its users to do all of these. Via Circles, for example, we can better segment our communications with friends, colleagues et al. Google+ will be developing special ‘apps’ for business people and professionals, which could improve what users have available or have experienced on LinkedIn.

No doubt about it, Google+ is an emerging force that its competitors simply cannot ignore. Its competitors must do or say something directly.

They’re clever

Maybe Weiner has something strategic up his sleeve, with his seemingly ignorant but understandable remarks. For me, the real irony of his remark that “nobody has any free time” is this: LinkedIn and other competitors desperately need time to research, grasp and solve, and then respond to the rapid evolution of Google+.  

Maybe he simply intends to buy as much time as he can, for his engineers to complete some cool developments in progress and for his marketers to complete their media battle plans. Maybe his remarks are simply test shots to see how Google+ responds and, more importantly, what those very time-pressed users like us will actually do. Either way, he helps to produce competitive data that his LinkedIn brain thrust can utilize for strategic purposes.

In any event, more exciting things are in the offing from this brash upstart - Google Feels the Pain of Users Who Can't Get on Google+.

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As much as I seemed to have defended Google+ in criticizing Weiner, in that article, I hardly put any stock on or attention to Google+ for well over a year.  There wasn't much activity or interaction, so I could vouch for tech writers who proclaimed it to be a digital ghost town:  dust flares and tumbleweed, scattered like silent remnants.    

Then, at the very beginning of this year, I saw otherwise.  The rediscovery of Google+ was virtually a revelation for me.  

You see, as I worked at the laborious build-out of my business projects, I needed to open multiple Google accounts.  Because Google was an ecosystem, it meant more specifically that I had multiple profiles on Google+, YouTube and Gmail, plus multiple access to News, Drive and Blogger.  This was a major burden a year ago, and bemoaned what Google made me do.  

To make a long story short, far from the ghost town that ignorant proclamations painted, Google+ was quite a thriving community.  In my experience, alone members were far more likely to connect, respond and engage than in any other major social media - Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.  

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The above graphic is difficult see, so click How Many People Use the Top Social Networks, Apps & Services?  But I still wanted to post it to give us a raw visual of the hundreds of millions of people who are very active across a wide range of social sites and with digital tools.

But the numbers in question for my article on the number of users:
  • LinkedIn - 225 million - as of May 6th 2013
  • Google+ - 343 million - as of January 26th 2013
Thank you for reading, and let me know what you think!

Ron Villejo, PhD

Saturday, September 28, 2013

The Sublime and Ridiculous in Tech Humor

I traveled a lot, and wi-fi connection and electric socket were de rigueur at airports, hotels and cafes.  But these posts from the Funny Technology community on Google+ show us the sublime, the true, and the ridiculous of wi-fi.

You know how we position our laptop screens away from people?  There are a host of reasons, and musings, and vanities behind this.

Our computers are a repository for all things that can bog us down, get us in trouble, and otherwise make us pound our head on the table.

Thank you for reading, and let me know what you think!

Ron Villejo, PhD

Thursday, September 26, 2013

The BlackBerry Tragic Downfall and Soap Opera

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Within months of moving to Dubai, I marveled at the setting sun.  The gym at the top of my apartment building faced due west, and running on the treadmill was a kind of race with the sun:  Could I finish my run, before it completely disappeared into the horizon?

I noticed, too, that as the sun appeared merely inches from the horizon, it seemed to drop, as if it were a coin you let go of.  

So it is with Research in Motion, maker of the ill-fated BlackBerry.

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40% layoffs, on tap.  100% tragedy, in the making.

BlackBerry Torch
A friend from Hong Kong eagerly awaited her new Torch, after its release in 2010.  Me, I saw a confused product strategy and a lack of innovation.

In July that year, I bought my first BlackBerry.  Why?  Because a number of friends asked for my BBM PIN, and at first I didn't even know what they were talking.  It was the well-used BlackBerry Messenger, which allowed users around the world to chat for free.  I bought one because I was embarrassed about not having one.

In the following month, August, word quickly filtered through the Middle East and the Subcontinent that the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and India threatened to shut down BBM and heaven knows what else.  Why?  User data was housed in servers in Canada, which countries had no access to and thus, according to said countries, posed security risks.

My BBM friends were worried.  I looked into it, and surmised that the chances of such a shutdown were low.  I saw these threats as lame posturing by these countries.  For example, if it were in fact a security risk, why not shut the bloody things immediately, instead of projecting it until October, as the UAE had threatened.  

Rather, it was a business standoff, and in this respect, the government-owned telecoms in those countries stood to lose more, I surmised, by shutting down BBM and enraging hundreds of thousands of mostly business users.  

RIM must've worked out some deal, because these threats never materialized.

In any event, I stumbled onto a Torch presentation by the co-CEOs at RIM, and read more about this latest.  I saw back then, in 2010, that this company was going nowhere fast.

In December last year, I watched the full Forbes interview with new RIM Chief Marketing Officer Frank Boulben.  He strucked me as steely confident and plugged into the market.  He had a piercing look that made me wonder whether military stints were in his background.

Anyway I privately scoffed at the interview.  You see, the issues with BlackBerry were about execution, innovation and leadership.  Service interruptions affected me two or three times, but botched up manufacturing and delayed deliveries ultimately plagued users.  Marketing was, at best, a secondary issue.

It reminded me of how science has been criticized.  Suppose you were walking home with a friend at night, and you noticed that your keys were missing.  The last time you saw them were back at that nearby restaurant where you had dinner.  However, your friend  ambled a few feet forward right under a street lamp.  Why look there, you wondered.  Because, he said, there was light and you could see better.

So it was with Boulben and BlackBerry.  

Forbes must've been seduced somehow, because it resorted to hyperbole - Inside RIM: Participating In What Could Be The Greatest Comeback In Tech History.


A comeback was unlikely a year ago, and it's even more unlikely now.  Sadly enough.

Prem Watsa
In 'Canadian Buffett' may struggle to save BlackBerry, Alistair Barr and Scott Martin reported that Fairfax Financial offered to buy RIM.  Prem Watsa, at the head of this offer, has been dub the Canadian Warren Buffet because apparently he was a successful value investor.   

So what are they planning for a dying brand?  Services, apparently.  

But I don't think Watsa is a Sam Palmisano, and RIM is most definitely not an IBM.  Palmisano successfully reinvented IBM into a services behemoth, although it is still very much a technology innovation company.  

So good luck with that.

Mike Lazaridis
Mike Lazaridis was co-CEO of RIM, before he stepped down from that role early last year, amid pressures for him and co-CEO Jim Balsillie to give up the executive reins.  Even though Lazaridis and Balsillie presented themselves as co-founders, apparently it was the former who launched RIM in 1984 and brought in the latter aftewards.

In BlackBerry Strikes Preliminary Go-Private Deal for $4.7 Billion, Will Connors reported that Lazaridis himself was considering a bid for RIM, either on his own or along with Watsa.  

On Google+ I retorted, Hey, wasn't he one cause of the brand's downfall?  

Arrogance, stubbornness, and ineptitude will do that even to the strongest of brands.

Thank you for reading, and let me know what you think!

Ron Villejo, PhD

Monday, September 23, 2013

What I Want in the Future

I posted the following three film clips in the Google+ Future Technology community, and I exchanged notes with some members:  

In the future, I want to just download training and instruction manuals to my brain.
it makes me wonder if that technology exist in the future via brain implants , would we all have the same kind skill level? say in flying a helicopter . what would happen if we make a race between each others would we cross the ending line at the same time ?
Would love this ability
That's a very good technical and philosophical question. I'd say that our skill level will depend on our actual abilities - cognitive and physical - so it will probably differ from person to person. As should our performance. But your second question made me think of PEDs (performance-enhancing drugs), which is such a major issue in sports. Would brain implants or technical downloads be an ethical issue as well? 
I don't believe that brain implants would be an ethical issue when it comes to the enhancement of human intelligence. However nay sayers will always find a problem. 
I think you're right on both counts, Kyle!

I believe that if you are beamed using the technology from Star trek you really just die. While a copy of yourself is instantly created. I personally would prefer star gate's method of near instant transportation. 
I'll have to look into that Star Gate method, then.
The star gate is really just a wormhole that bends space-time allowing you to travel long distances quickly. The only reason I would consider this method is because you could first stick one of your hands through the wormhole, feel the ground on the other side and then pull back. Unlike in star trek where if you beam only a part of you you loose it.
Ah, I see, that's Einstein's Theory of General Relativity. If we can bend space-time, like we can fold a sheet of paper, then can we vary the length or depth of a wormhole? I imagine that wormholes vary in shape and size anyway. Regardless, going through a wormhole means we can stay intact, rather than disintegrate.

In the future, I want my pickup to transform into an Autobot.

Thank you for reading, and let me know what you think!

Ron Villejo, PhD

Saturday, September 21, 2013

A Matter of Social Judgment and Personal Choice

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The article Social Media Etiquette: 12 Step Checklist seems practical and innocuous enough.  But the questions that Forbes contributor Ilya Pozin poses is a matter of social judgment and personal choice.  He wonders if such sensitive, major events as a friend dying of a heart attack or a relative diagnosed with breast cancer ought to be communicated on social media.

It is a very important thing to wonder about.

The friend and relative were those of entrepreneur Lisa Filpi Goeckler, who shared these stories with Pozin in their conversations.  He continues (emphasis, added):
Both of the circumstances combined made me reconsider how we use social media. These two incidences were much bigger life events that may not have a place being blasted through with Facebook posts. 
I do feel social media is valuable in many ways. But maybe we should teach etiquette to guide people on the best ways to use it as a communication tool. After all, like most technology, social media has been hoisted on our world with little or no instruction.
Where do we draw the line between what is appropriate and sensible to post on social media and what is simply not?  How can we even ask such a question, when the very notion of a line has been diffused or otherwise altered by social media?

While authorities, legislators and pundits debate ethics, and fight over policy, on privacy, scores of people keep posting such personal things that they might as well invite all of us to their bedrooms and open drawers of underwear and other personal effects for us to gawk at.

Goeckler suggests asking ourselves these questions, before we post:
  1. Should I target a specific audience with this message?
  2. Will anyone really care about this content besides me?
  3. Will I offend anyone with this content? If so, who? Does it matter?
  4. Is this appropriate for a social portal, or would it best be communicated another way?
  5. How many times have I already posted something today? (More than three can be excessive.)
  6. Did I spell check?
  7. Will I be okay with absolutely anyone seeing this?
  8. Is this post too vague? Will everyone understand what I’m saying?
  9. Am I using this as an emotional dumping ground? If so, why? Is a different outlet better for these purposes?
  10. Am I using too many abbreviations in this post and starting to sound like a teenager?
  11. Is this reactive communication or is it well thought-out?
  12. Is this really something I want to share, or is it just me venting?
Practically speaking, I doubt that people will ask themselves any of these questions, before they post, let alone an entire checklist.  But they ought to.

But I also suggest that they - meaning, we - ask the broader, more reflective life questions:
  • What really matters to us the most, and what doesn't matter so much?  Conventionally known as values, yes.  But I mean also desires, dreams and longings.  
  • Who are truly the important people in our lives, not the ones we necessarily acknowledge publicly, but the ones we point to in our private, personal moments?  
  • How are our many relationships going, from personal and family, to work and social, to leisure and secret?
  • What kinds of interactions do we have with people in general, especially at those places we hardly think about as bearing any significant interactions, such as the drive-through, ticket line, and rush-hour traffic?
  • How do we communicate, where do we communicate, and what modes do we prefer the most and prefer the least?  People commonly view communication as one-way, that is, what they say, write or post.  But I mean also the other-way, that is, receiving what others say, write or post.  
We are human, prone to mistakes or accidents.  As humans, we do whatever it is we are wont to do.  Behavioral psychologists simplify it to:  We do whatever gets rewarded, and we avoid whatever gets punished.  There is simplistic wisdom in that, I'd say.

What's not so simplistic are those vague notions that drive our behavior, those unconscious motives that by their very nature we aren't aware of, those minor tremors of anxiety or fear that hold us back.

So we may prefer that a friend tell us in person or via phone that a mutual friend died.  We may prefer a family member to tell us in person or via phone that a relative came down with cancer.  

But, there, you see, what we prefer may differ radically from what that friend or family member prefers.
So in a sort of meta-communication, that is, a communication about how we communicate, social media has evidently exposed the very differences in what we prefer.

Thank you for reading, and let me know what you think!

Ron Villejo, PhD

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Apple Touch ID a Case for Wider Fingerprint Use

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Justin Firth makes a compelling case for a wider use of fingerprint for ID purposes, in his article Are You Ready To Give Up Your Fingerprint Forever?:
One of the big pre-release talking points on Apple’s iPhone5[s] is Touch ID – a personal fingerprint scanner to unlock the phone and authorise sales on iTunes. Touch ID is the first major use of fingerprint identification to the mass market, and if Apple’s other innovations are to go by, it will be a catalyst for introducing fingerprint identification across a whole range of new products, services and applications.
1.It is superior to any other form of instant secure identification.
2.It solves a pressing and expensive problem for many large companies. 
Let’s face it, the current forms of identification have clear weaknesses. Signatures are only done in person and are usually validated by humans, rather than computers. They are also slightly different every time – so as long as a forgery is reasonably close it stands a good chance of success. Passwords or PINS require set-up, memory and need to be entered unseen. They are also often easy to crack as numerous studies have shown how people naturally orientate towards easy to remember words or combinations – 1234, password123, birthdates etc. 
Fingerprints solve these problems. Always remembered, quick to validate, and with a complexity which is difficult to forge. In fact, we are so confident about fingerprints that we regularly incarcerate people in prison based solely on their evidence. 
According to a BBC report, identification fraud cost the UK economy an estimated £1.9 billion in 2010. A lot of this cost was borne by banks and financial institutions. A further £800 million was spent by businesses trying to combat identity fraud. These types of costs provide some big motivation for major companies to implement and promote a better form of identification – especially if it becomes accepted in something as non-threatening and everyday as your smart phone.
Firth and I exchanged messages on Google+:

Sounds cool. But the concern is, How security is the system that stores our fingerprints? 
I guess as secure as the system which store all our other personal data. At least with fingerprints you can't just use a set of numbers or a password. You would need to recreate an actual physical fingerprint to use it.
Makes sense. I'm intrigued by fingerprint technology. Using passwords is so outdated; every time is a minor hassle. 
And every time you phone the bank you have to go through 5 minutes of verification. Whereas, if you had a secure fingerprint scanner from the bank at home it would just take a second. 
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I shared and tweeted his article, and asked:  (a) How much of a headache is it for you to keeping entering passwords?  (b) What do you think about submitting your fingerprint, instead?

cf. "Minority Report"
Longer term, a quick and non-intrusive way to identify an individual could open up a whole new world of personalised marketing. 
Think of how effectively internet advertising uses your browsing history, social media profiles and previous purchases to target you with relevant and timely advertising.
It is human nature to keep pushing the limits of its capabilities and to innovate as far as imagination can reach.  Alas, it is also human nature to find ways to harm or manipulate people and take advantage of them.  So we have to take technology progress with a grain of salt.

Thank you for reading, and let me know what you think!

Ron Villejo, PhD

Monday, September 16, 2013

The Artificial Line Between Online and Real Life

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Andrew Couts takes a philosophical turn in The Digital Self: Our online lives are our ‘real’ lives, but his message has very real and practical import in our lives.

It was just four years ago that I trained my eyes forthrightly, and my fingertips actively, on social media.  In 2008, a friend added me on Facebook, but more than a year passed before I took the emerging juggernaut seriously.  I was determined, even as a neophyte, to participate and interact and also to observe and learn.  

To Couts' point, I realized back then that the distinction some of my friends made - online friends versus real friends - was a grossly artificial one.  One was no less real (or unreal) as the other.  In time, I said to them, they will just be friends.  

But Couts carries the point deeper:  that of a division in ourselves and what we do online versus real life (emphasis, added):
It’s difficult to say exactly when we began referring to “the Web” or “the Internet” as something other than “real life.” (I would guess it started at the very beginning.) But it’s clear we haven’t yet given up the practice. A quick search on the Internet’s record of steaming consciousness (a.k.a Twitter) shows that thousands of people still disassociate what happens online and offline. We have “Internet friends” and “real life friends.” We have interests that we only explore through the Web, and those we never include in any status updates. We can be one person offline, and someone else entirely on the Web.
We become victims or perpetrators of this false online-offline disconnect constantly – not just during national tragedies or manhunts. We bitch about our bosses on Facebook, thinking it will never come up in future job interviews. We create entirely separate identities, believing that our various selves will never cross paths. And we toss around horrific names in comment sections, forgetting that there are sensitive human beings on the receiving end.
You might argue that social media apps, like autobot replies, work automatically.  You might also point to those idiotic love or money spam messages, and think these cannot be real.  But there are absolutely persons behind these robotic replies and messages, and there are most certainly persons receiving these.

Enter:  Jimmy Kimmel.

The best comedy, I think, does two seemingly contradictory things all at once:  It makes us laugh, and it makes us sad.  This is a stroke of genius on Kimmel's part to humanize the people some of us tweet about and tweet with.  Those people who delivered these mean tweets can hide behind Twitter handles, as Couts points out, but in a way Kimmel has 'de-anonymized' them.  He moves new media (Twitter) into the tried-and-true old media of TV, which ironically many of us watch on new media (YouTube), and shows us how celebrities took these mean tweets.  Many of them were truly good sports about it, and took it in stride with calm confidence or fitting humor.

But some looked hurt, though.

So Kimmel dissolves that artificial boundary between online and real life, not fully of course but sufficiently enough, for us to think twice, I hope, about how we carry ourselves on social media.

Thank you for reading, and let me know what you think!

Ron Villejo, PhD

Friday, September 13, 2013

The Sleek, Risk and Shortfall in Apple's Latest

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Technology meets fashion:  Burberry fashion show to be shot with iPhone 5s.  Only 8 MP, though.

Apple-Burberry teaser: A fashion video, shot entirely with the new iPhone 5s. I love the dreamy theme, but I also wonder if it was meant to "hide" the resolution limits of the videocam.

While we're at, here's more on the iPhone 5s capabilities: fingerprint identity sensor. Apple offers a more detailed video on Touch ID than we're used to see on TV ads.

Entering my username and password onto sites can be a pain in the neck, but it's even more so on my iPhone or Galaxy Tab. So I appreciate devices that remove this inconvenience, while still of course ensuring security.

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Apple assures us (or at least tries to) that our fingerprints are encrypted, and stored in its secure A7 chip on the new iPhone 5s. But I wondered, What if the iPhone were stolen, that is, physically? What if hackers, or even the government, found a way to nab our fingerprints digitally, for example, through the carriers?

Forbes contributor Joseph Steinberg paints a risky picture behind this sleek new offering from Apple:  Your New iPhone Can Put Your Identity At Risk.

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In a handful of new TV commercials I've seen, Microsoft goes head-to-head with Apple: It's Surface vs Siri. Have you seen them?

I'm not in the market for a new tablet, and the one I have is a Samsung Galaxy Tab. But, for me, these Surface commercials are more effective than the fast-paced ones before. In particular, the fact that Surface has a USB port, a keyboard, and Microsoft Office attracts me.

What's Apple's response to:  Microsoft’s Attempt To Lure iPad Users; Offers Minimum $200 Gift Card In Exchange Deal?

My favorite among those Surface vs Siri commercials by Microsoft.

Thank you for reading, and let me know what you think!

Ron Villejo, PhD

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Content Marketing: Practical and Philosophical

Blogging is a major part of what I love to do on the internet, and it's tied to a business model I call Content Provider.  This is exactly what Daniel Sharkov writes about - 4 Important Content Marketing Facts You Should Wrap Your Head Around:
Simply put content marketing is the process of creating content with the idea of indirectly promoting a service or a product that you might have. 
It might not even be one of the two – content marketing can be about marketing yourself, your skills or in other words building a personal brand.
I don't blog simply for the sake of blogging, but also for the sake of earning a living.  This point is what makes my blogging Content Marketing.

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Here are those four facts Sharkov refers to, plus my comments on each of them:

1.  Never focus your blog posts around length
What I want to tell you is that you shouldn’t tie your posts around reaching a specific number of words. Instead of setting the goal of writing X number of words today, set yourself the goal of writing one full article, regardless of its length.
Sharkov and I exchanges messages on Google+, and I noted:

You've written a nice philosophical piece, the more I think about it. As a longtime poet, for example, I am very confident about my creativity process. An idea, thought, or inspiration determines how long and what shape my poem takes - from a couple of lines, to multiple pages; and sonnet, villanelle or sestina. Often I don't know this to start with. But to your point, I aim simply to write a complete idea or thought and to realize an inspiration fully.   

2.  Know that not only articles are considered content
There is no denying that if you want to improve your blog’s search-engine rankings, you need to have articles. After all without the words, your blog will pretty much be empty in the eyes of the search bots, crawling its pages.
However there is nothing bad in spicing things up a bit every once in awhile!
With the rise of platforms like Pinterest and Instagram, visual content is now on the [pedestal].
The type of content you upload and the balance among different types depend, not only on that idea, thought or inspiration, but also on your purpose for blogging to begin with.  Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic, and ESPN and Sports Illustrated are primarily still text.  Just an image or two, plus a video, maybe an interactive graphic are all the variety of content in their articles.  Remember, though, that these are very established, in-demand publications.  I love images and videos, but I read them for their text.

Two of my blogs are of this sort:  Leaders Insights and techTrampoline (this one).  Others are more image- and video-laden, for example:  Art Intersections and sportsPond53.    

3. Quality material doesn’t necessarily guarantee social sharing
Having a really high level of expertise in a certain field of knowledge is one thing. Being able to translate that knowledge into content that provides useful information is second. And turning that content into a magnet for social sharing is third.
Unfortunately what often times happens is that someone might really be good at the first two parts of the process. The guy has a lot of knowledge and produces some really interesting pieces of content.
What he lacks however is a marketing approach.
When I shared Sharkov's article on Google+, I wrote:

These facts are very good conceptual and practical points. For example, +Daniel Sharkov does a nice job of breaking down social sharing: expertise, content and promotion. Yet, there's an often elusive fourth thing: pulse. Knowing what millions of people out there really like can, along with those three things, can help you create content that goes viral. A very tall task, to be sure, but it can be accomplished. 

4. Content Marketing won’t improve SEO and traffic right away
Well in fact fresh content is just the starting point. Simply adding page by page to your site, won’t necessarily help your site show high on the search-engine result pages. That’s the simple truth.
Without guest blogging (for both link building and audience building purposes) you will just be burning [tire] and standing still.
Actually you might be better off choosing guest blogging over starting a blog.
I have 13 blogs on Blogger, and for the time being, as I crystallize my concepts for each and build up a good table of contents, I am not actively promoting any of them anywhere.  Just by virtue of Blogger being a Google product and therefore part of its enormous ecosystem, my blogs have had thousands and thousands of visits.  The fact that I deploy AdSense may be the primary reason that Google itself promotes my blogs.

As I wrote on another post on Google+:

I understand the concept of SEO, but I've never paid much attention to it. Instead, as an active blogger, I focus on writing the best possible stuff and making sure that what I write is aligned with the blog purpose and subject.

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At the end of the day

I'm on track with what Sharkov advises:  Blogging well is number one, and has been my primary activity over the past year.  I am now sidling into co-blogging, plus interviewing colleagues for select topics, both of which I expect will be audience- and link-building.

Oh, one more thing:  I've worked diligently to participate, engage others meaningfully, share others' posts and blogs, and in general forge relationships with scores of people across social media.  More and more of them are sharing my posts and mentioning me, without my asking them to do so.  

Thank you for reading, and let me know what you think!

Ron Villejo, PhD

Monday, September 9, 2013

Facebook Late with Hot Button and Embed Function

Abby Borovitz, with MSNBC reports Facebook offers new insight into online conversation:
According to analysis of Facebook data, NBC News finds that Syria was a hot button topic of conversation last week with 66% of Facebook posts mentioning Syria. The data showed that Syria was referenced as much as Miley Cyrus twerking, yet not as much as NFL Football, which was the main topic of conversation.
The polling function used by NBC News is the latest effort by Facebook to stimulate conversation by users and surpass Twitter as the leading platform for online conversation. On Monday, Facebook released two new search tools designed to give news organizations, like NBC News, more insight into the real-time conversations being held in the social media universe, particularly when it comes to big news events.
Isn't Facebook way late to the party on this one?  Twitter has been doing this, since I started using it actively two to three years ago.  LinkedIn and Google+ as well.  Here are screen shots of Trends, based on locations I entered:

Apparently Miley Cyrus and Syria are still neck-and-neck as trending topics in the US and in Chicago where I live.  While NFL Football isn't trending now, the Philadelphia Eagles are.  

None of these conversations are trending Worldwide, though.  Nicki Minaj is, for New York Fashion Week.  Imagine that.  

Minaj isn't on the radar in the UAE, where I used to live.  I did see photos of the sandstorm, posted on Facebook by a friend there, so I'm not surprised to see that trending.
This is just another way for Facebook to continue enhancing how their users communicate with one another. In June the social media site introduced hashtags, similar to Twitter, into the conversation, and it recently rolled out a feature where users can embed posts on their own web page. They are also testing a “trending topic” module where users can see what people are talking about at any given moment.

LinkedIn and Google+ allow us to reference links to particular posts, but the embed function with Twitter is a cool one to have.  Until recently, I could reference particular posts on Facebook only by default, that is, by clicking an image or video, and it brings me to its link.  Bringing on an embed function, too, will probably prompt me to scope posts more frequently.

Thank you for reading, and let me know what you think!

Ron Villejo, PhD

Friday, September 6, 2013

Elon Musk: From 3D Printing to 3D Manufacturing

SpaceX is exploring methods for engineers to accelerate their workflow by designing more directly in 3D. We are integrating breakthroughs in sensor and visualization technologies to view and modify designs more naturally and efficiently than we could using purely 2D tools. We are just beginning, but eventually hope to build the fastest route between the idea of a rocket and the reality of the factory floor. Special thanks to Leap Motion, Siemens and Oculus VR, as well as NVIDIA, Projection Design, Provision, and to everyone enabling and challenging the world to interact with technology in exciting new ways.
A lot goes on in my head.  But because I am neither a technologist nor an engineer, I need colleagues who can make-real what is in my head - from ideas and models, to algorithms and pet inventions.  Since 2008, when I first deigned to be an entrepreneur, I knew that such a collaboration was an imperative.

Elon Musk 
Enter:  Elon Musk, who is, to me, a complete package:  South African by birth, he is an American billionaire, inventor, and entrepreneur.  So he can create something, fund it, then sell it.

As for the Ironman-inspired technology Musk demonstrates for us in his video, he and his team have clearly taken a quantum leap from 3D printing (i.e., simple objectives), to (sooner than we imagine) 3D manufacturing (i.e., complex machines).

Greg Kumparak, with TechCrunch, apparently has a pulse on how extraordinary difficult of a leap this is:
It’s a bit unclear, though, whether or not they’re currently able to actually design models within the gestural setup, or just inspect models they’ve made with more traditional tools. While the video shows Elon and his engineers doing things like scaling, rotating, and even cutting away at meshes, it never demonstrates anyone building something anew. As anyone who has ever worked with 3D modeling software could tell you, this stuff tends to get crazy complicated, with each app having dozens upon dozens of menus and a few zillion hotkeys to memorize (especially when you’re designing with any sort of precision in mind). Squeezing anything but the most basic modeling concept into a set of motion gestures seems… difficult.
Reference:  Elon Musk Shows Off His Crazy Iron Man-Inspired 3D Modeling Setup.

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In the distant future, it would be ultra-cool to realize into a physical 3D device or machine - the dimensionless ideas and algorithms that regularly occupy my head - à la Elon Musk technology!

Thank you for reading, and let me know what you think!

Ron Villejo, PhD

Yay or Nay on the New Yahoo! Logo?

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From some reports, CEO Marissa Mayer comes across as a micro-manager.  She has certainly seeped herself into the old culture and practices at Yahoo!, and while the results may be mixed or delayed at best, there are increasing wins, marked as feathers in her cap, for example, Yahoo beats Google in traffic for first time since 2011.

Marissa Mayer, in Vogue
Mayer even managed to sidle into Vogue, where the already attractive top leader ratchets it up on the glamorous-sexy meter.

But we digress.  Back to the new Yahoo! logo, which the company switched on at midnight yesterday.
"Marissa was an integral collaborator and force in the process," says Kathy Savitt, chief marketing officer at Yahoo. 
That's putting it mildly, apparently. 
In a post on Yahoo's recently acquired Tumblr site titled "Geeking Out on the Logo," Mayer describes the process. 
"So, one weekend this summer, I rolled up my sleeves and dove into the trenches with our logo design team: Bob Stohrer, Marc DeBartolomeis, Russ Khaydarov, and our intern Max Ma. We spent the majority of Saturday and Sunday designing the logo from start to finish, and we had a ton of fun weighing every minute detail. We knew we wanted a logo that reflected Yahoo - whimsical, yet sophisticated. Modern and fresh, with a nod to our history. Having a human touch, personal. Proud." 
The geeky part kicks in with a "blueprint of what we did, calling out some of what was cool/mathematical." 
Writes Mayer: "Our last move was to tilt the exclamation point by 9 degrees, just to add a bit of whimsy."
That very much sounds like micro-managing, but, hey, she's the CEO and she's entitled to micro-manage however much she likes.  

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Frankly, I like the old logo better.  The new one looks quite staid, and perhaps too proper for a company wanting to tap into the lucrative younger demographics.  The old one has the right amount of whimsy, coupled with cool design.

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Something tells me that this may be like that Coca Cola snafu several years.  They toyed with a new formula, that didn't suit the taste of its consumers.  Let's see if Yahoo! reverts back to its old logo.

Thank you for reading, and let me know what you think!

Ron Villejo, PhD

Thursday, September 5, 2013

The Pathos of Apple in Tech Humor

If only it were as easy to tap into his genius as sliding the touch bar (image credit)

After iTV, after iWatch... (image credit)

Sometimes irony is the best form of humor (image credit)

Life's a bitch, and then you die.  You die, and then life's a bitch.  (image credit)

From evolution, to devolution (image credit)
Thank you for reading, and let me know what you think!

Ron Villejo, PhD

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Cisco as the Conduit for Tomorrow

Cisco doesn't come to mind, frankly, when I think about the future of technology.  Google, IBM and Microsoft do, easily enough.  But it's evidently forthright about it, as I see on its website and channel:


Dave Evans, Chief Futurist at Cisco, says we can expect to see flying cars in the next 5 - 10 years. Advances in robotics, drones and gyroscope technology are progressing.  In his blog article Ask The Internet of Everything Futurist: “When Will We Get Our Flying Cars?” he adds:
In fact, last month Business Insider highlighted a company called Terrafugia that is in the final testing stages for a practical flying car. Built with mass-market production in mind, the four-seat, plug-in hybrid electric flying car has vertical takeoff and landing capabilities.
Hmm, I like the idea of taking off to the skies, if I'm stuck in traffic and I'm running late.

The caveat, of course, is more non-technology: We shift from RTA (Regional Transportation Authority) to FAA (Federal Aviation Administration). It's probably fine, if we have just a scattering of flying cars. But a sky full of them requires policy and regulation. Can you imagine how disastrous it could be, if we had fender-benders or more serious crashes in the sky?
According to the New York Times, the F.A.A. created a new classification, the light-sport category, to encourage the design of small, easy-to-fly aircraft more than eight years ago. However, there is still a long way to go before we use our flying car to commute to work.
There are also fuel and cost considerations. All of which, I suspect, will take much longer than 10 years to resolve.

In any case, we are gradually shifting from the film "Minority Report," to Minority Reality!

Evans talks about wearable technology, which isn't necessarily a new concept, as far as health is concerned.  I've worn a heart monitor while cycling, for example, so I can regulate training sessions vis-a-vis my cardio targets.  But Cisco has so much more in mind, as Evans relates in Ask the Futurist: “How Will the Internet of Everything Help Us Manage Our Own Health?”:  
We already see several wearable fitness devices in today’s market — including Nike’s FuelBand, Fitbit’s Flex, Jawbone UP, and others — that provide analytics for your eating, sleeping, and movement behavior. In addition, advances in biometric devices are beginning to track blood glucose levels. For example, Alere’s DayLinkMonitor records a participant’s weight or blood glucose values and then reports the actionable data to Alere clinicians. So, in answer to your question, this type of technology is available today. 
And there are even more exciting developments right around the corner. The Scanadu Scout, coming out next year, is practically an emergency room in your pocket — enabling you to measure everything from temperature and heart function, to hemoglobin saturation, to stress. Similar to Dr. McCoy’s “tricorder” on the original Star Trek series, it’s a great example of science fiction becoming fact. Also coming in the next few years will be electronic tattoos, with tiny embedded sensors that will pick up temperature, heart rate, blood pressure, blood glucose levels, and even fetal vital signs, directly from your skin. And unlike today’s personal biometric devices, you won’t have to remember to put them on every day — just wear them and forget about it.

Smart.  Connectivity.  Again, I associate these words more with IBM.  But I appreciate Cisco's efforts to be the conduit and the network for the Internet of Everything.


Thank you for reading, and let me know what you think!

Ron Villejo, PhD