Tag Archives: social

The Hidden Hazards of Technology (And How to Fix Them)

Technology exists to make our lives better—but does it?

For the most part, yes: instead of writing a letter, you can communicate in an instant over email or text; rather than cracking open an encyclopedia, you have the sum of the world’s history, art, and science at the tip of your fingers. You can order chic clothes from Paris with a click or forge a vital partnership with a business in Taiwan with a videoconference.

But for all its convenience, technology also brings new hazards, both to our health and our social lives. Fortunately, there are ways around them.

Take a Seat… Or Don’t

For both work and play, we’re planted at our computers more than ever. The problem? Most of us are sitting wrong, raising the risk for long-term injury.

How do you sit at your computer? Chances are good you’re hunching over, leaning far back, or bending your legs awkwardly. As physiotherapist Lorna Taylor tells Mashable, if such incorrect posture is “repeated again and again, lasting changes in muscles, ligaments and tendons can occur.”

Okay, so what’s the right way to sit? Keep your back straight against the chair, arms at a 90 degree angle, and feet flat on the ground. While it may feel robotic at first, you’ll be doing your human body a favor.

Hyper Connected, But Not in Real Life

With Facebook, texting, and instant messaging, you can reach all your friends in a millisecond. Reaching them in real life, however, may be more difficult than ever.

Gadgets haven’t exactly helped when trying to get the gang all together. In a hilariously true-to-life video, Alex Cornell explains, “cell phones have made plans susceptible to revision at any moment; thus, making them in advance is essentially pointless—futile, even.”

In the past, you made plans and stuck to them. Now it’s all too easy to be flaky when a night out is cobbled together on the fly. See that Facebook event? Notice how many people clicked the “Maybe” button. Next time you see a friend, try something radical: make plans in person and show up on time.

Technology has fundamentally changed the way we live our lives—and mostly for the better. It’s given us all sorts of instant conveniences, delightful diversions, and powerful connections.

Still, it’s important to understand the new risks that technology poses and how to overcome them. As awesome as our gadgets are, it’s refreshing to take a break from time to time—they haven’t made the real world obsolete just yet.

Author: Natacha Arora


“The Sales Game” – Communication Between You and Your Clients

Vanguard Direct, Utterly Orange’s parent company, if you will, continues to encourage engaging conversation among its employees while still keeping things lighthearted. At this year’s company kickoff meeting, we had the opportunity to discuss a relatively common agency/client conversation with a video that got everyone smiling—particularly those who knew the account people acting in it.

Bob O’Connell, our fearless President, generously lent us his office to ’60s-ify with hippie-style décor, complete with wildflowers and a lava lamp. Take a look at some of Vanguard’s employees taking themselves a little less seriously. And if you’re not doing it already, let’s hope you’re talking to your clients the same way Salesman #2 is soon.

I can’t tell who’s more handsome: the host or his mustache. Cast your vote now! (Kidding!)

Author: Eric Swenson

Hope, Change, and Whining in the Mobile Arena

As we all keep heading back to the cloud-services buffet line to fill our plates with streaming music, document collaborations, and photo sharing, our glasses of data––once advertised as bottomless––are leaving us thirsty. Mobile devices––the smartphones and tablets of the world––make the cloud-service buffet line seem so much cooler, more powerful, and more useful, but what does the future hold? Three stories from the past few weeks help us read the tech tea leaves.

From execs going nuts on international flights to just poor long-term planning, the struggling Canadian former tech giant has had it rough. For a seemingly stagnant company that once paved the way with mobile email, calendars, and contact functionality from a mobile device (the BlackBerry), recent news of a well-received new device might be the fair-weather forecast RIM has been waiting for. Before you slam RIM and its loyal hoard of CrackBerry zombies, remember that the company was once innovative––that innovation in the marketplace can lead to better devices for us, the consumers. During the BlackBerry developers conference, alpha-stage BlackBerry 10 devices were distributed to developers to kick-start app development. Check out the video below:


Mobile Interactions: Change Your View
Change how you view your mobile customers (if you even know they exist). Custora, a mobile-commerce analytics start-up, posted an interesting infographic showing the different purchasing habits of mobile customers. From device stats to analysis of mobile versus non-mobile customers, the message is clear: Know your customers and study their habits based on their mobile identifiers. Those identifiers will lead you either to enhance their experience or to fine-tune your strategy.

Wireless Whining
Rumblings (think “wahhhhhhhhhh!”) from the mobile carriers and their Washington lobbyists about the future of our airwaves and the portions that wireless carriers claim they need in order to support our new and growing thirst for mobile data are creating a controversy. It’s a battle between developing new technology and the “easy way out,” snatching up more spectrum to protect revenues and control the marketplace. The New York Times reports that the now dead-in-the-water deal between AT&T and T-Mobile was purely about access to spectrum, or more of the radio frequencies that we use to pass voice and mobile data through our smartphones. All in all, technology seems to be a logical solution––one in which the use of spectrum-neutral techniques could make the spectrum-licensing and -dividing model obsolete––but it would require the big mobile carriers to reconfigure their networks.

Author: John Carew

Facebook, Instagram and Roller Coasters, three ideas to keep an eye on

On Monday, Facebook announced their planned acquisition of mobile app Instagram for a cool (cue the evil laugh) one billion dollars. For those unfamiliar with Instagram, the app is a photo sharing program that lets users capture a photo, apply a filter and share on social networks.

A billion dollars is a massive, virtually unimaginable number. Chances are you probably have only ever seen tens of thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands of any one thing at one time. So let’s introduce some reference material starting with a comparison to the recent MegaMillions winning of some 656 million dollar annuity. If you lined up the jackpot value in presidential dollars, you have just shy of 11,000 miles of coins. Comparable, the Instagram reported sale to Facebook lined up with a far smaller diameter coin, the dime, would stretch 11,127 miles. Let’s put this in more thrilling terms. The roller coaster, Millennium Force at Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio is the longest roller coaster in North America by distance (and fourth in the world) coming in at 6,595 feet long. Riding Millennium Force 8,909 times would let you travel the same distance as Instagram’s value equated to dimes, but to ride the coaster for that long would take you some 346 hours, which I doubt you would want to spare riding the coaster continuously.

Get this picture yet? Instagram’s value by the Facebook offer is a big deal on the simple side with the sheer amount of cash Zuckerberg’s empire is willing to shell out, but there several areas which need to be watched as the story unfolds. Check the list below for a few of the topics to watch and what has been said already.

Reliability. Reliability. Reliability.
Wired’s Cloudline, posted a nice piece talking about how Instagram’s development process, structure and approach may be an omen for the future of how mobile only apps grow and become valuable. In the end, it is all about how reliable the application is and Instagram proved that their structure is one to study and apply its principles as we move toward a world where more content is in the cloud.

Experience is mission critical.
Face it, well-designed devices, like that of Apple, have put an expectation of higher level design square in the sights of any consumer. If the form is sexy, the function better be the same and judging by the tens of millions of iOS devices in the world, the function is desirable. Instagram may only perform three basic functions, but Facebook has a corner on the market of photos and the added features (and sexy, well-designed interface of the app) make the app’s acquisition be Facebook all that more meaningful.

Young vs. Old
Experience and utility drive people back to mobile devices and ultimately to apps that accomplish both ideas. The people return again and again and on many platforms generate advertising revenue for provider, but as behavior and consumption patterns emerge, we are seeing a disparity between the actions of different age groups. Facebook knows that on average their users are older than that of other social platforms and by adding Instagram it may shift their age groups. Either way, look for expansion by other social networks to garner a larger swath of eyeballs to their platforms and it may be accomplished by acquisitions like Instagram by Facebook.

One last fun fact, with the Instagram cash, you could buy tickets to Cedar Point for 70% of the population of New Jersey, New York and Connecticut, which could be one heck of party.

Author: John Carew

Online and Social Checkup: The Full Three

Twice a year we change our clocks to abide by the controversial daylight savings time, at which time we are told to change our smoke detector batteries. Once a year in October, retailers, television networks, nonprofits, and average citizens blanket the world in pink to bring attention to Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Heck, there is even Movember, during which men grow facial hair to raise awareness of men’s health issues, which competes with the likes of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). All of these events bring annual attention to a particular topic and call people to action, whether it be changing one’s batteries, getting screened for cancer, growing a mustache, or writing a novel. While the safety of our humble abodes and family health will always be paramount, we should not neglect our online and social health.

In a time when some employers are asking for social log-ins during the hiring process and many companies use social media to vet employees or learn more about vendors or business partners, why not take time to run your online and social checkup? Go ahead, Google yourself––I’ll wait. What did you find? A public-facing LinkedIn profile, tweets, press releases, or embarrassing photos? Depending on your celebrity and the uniqueness of your first and last names, you may have some heavy competition for the top results. For instance, if you shared a full name with an English soccer star (with a pretty sweet theme song), you would have to add several search operators like the minus sign (-soccer, -football, -athlete) to eliminate any online content associated with the soccer star to finally get a result relevant to you in particular.

Here is your prescription:

  1. Google yourself. Examine the search results and add search operators to eliminate the noise to get to the good stuff. Either way, clip the results to your Evernote notebook, or if you must, print out the results and store in a file folder hidden, unsearchable, in some dreaded physical file cabinet. Regardless of your storage preference, keep note of what changes over time.
  2. Social profile review. Depending on your search results and your social media account settings, you may find profile details, posts, or other details strewn around the net for anyone to pilfer, exploit, mock, or fact-check. Make a list of the profiles that are easily found through search engine activity. Then dive down into each account settings page by platform to determine what content you want to limit access to and how to limit that content.
  3. Ask the tough question, what is your brand? Other people are, or will be at some point in the near future, using your online/social presence (or lack thereof) to vet you for something or learn about the brand called “you.” What does a Google search, LinkedIn, Twitter, Yelp, blog, or Facebook account portray about who you are? A smattering of personal info or interests may make you seem more approachable and human if that is the message you want to portray. Your “brand” can and will change as your personal and professional lives progress, but during those different stages in your life, what persona does your social presence promote? Complete a brain dump (mind map) of what makes your brand unique, then hone your social presence to fit the brand that you want others to see.

Competing with the likes of Movember and NaNoWriMo is difficult, but how about this? Regardless of what you do, about every 28 days you experience a full moon, and––except for those in extreme latitudes during summer months––this large, glowing rock in the sky should stand as a reminder to perform your social checkup. Twelve or so times per year isn’t a big investment. So every full moon, complete the three steps of the social checkup. Maybe you could even perform your checkup under the full moon––just find some moonlight with Wi-Fi and let the checkup begin. See you under the moon.

Author: John Carew

Getting More Than You Give

I’m not exactly what you’d call an early adopter. When my husband and I were on vacation in Turks and Caicos, he was the first one to jump overboard into the vast ocean equipped with snorkel gear. I had a full report on what he saw down there (no sharks right?) and knew the temperature of the water before even so much as one flipper got wet. When my peers dropped their old-feature phones for newer, sleeker, and more versatile smartphones, I watched, waited, and eventually upgraded.

I suppose this cautiousness is a fundamental part of my personality. It explains why I studied at PennState(only after my brother went the year before and LOVED it) and why I haven’t splurged on Lasik eye surgery (is it really safe?). It’s easy to see how this cautiousness has infiltrated my decision-making process.

I approached Facebook with the same level of caution. Friends and colleagues were fast to sign up and fast to put it all out there for the world to see. They posted pictures from Nona’s 90th, updated their statuses by the minute (“at the gym … doing laundry … napping”), and found every person they crossed paths with from grammar school to their current position and sent them a friend request. They were on fire!

I was intrigued … from the sidelines. I was suspicious of the shy introvert with 1 million friends and a little taken aback by the colleague who posted her vacation pictures (poolside with piña colada).  I created an account and logged on once a week. For the most part, I was enjoying what everyone else was saying. I was happy when old friends sent friend requests. I giggled at their ridiculous comments and enjoyed the pics they posted. Seemed that I was, dare I say it … having fun? And as someone who put so little out there, how was this possible?

A recent article posted on the Pew Research Center website explains this phenomenon. In summary, the article’s findings are that a segment of Facebook power-users (roughly 20–30% of total users) allows the majority of us to receive more than we give. Power-users send more friend requests, send more messages, and post and tag more photos that the rest of us.

They make it possible for people like me to sit back and enjoy the show! So while in most cases it’s better to give than to receive, that might not be the case for the average Facebook user. This week, take a look at your own use of Facebook and ask yourself what kind of user you are. You may actually learn a little bit about yourself in the process.

Author: Cori Eriksson

Social Media Week NYC 2012

Please note: Video contains some adult language.

Last week, Social Media Week 2012 kicked off in 12 cities worldwide, attracting more than 60,000 attendees in person and thousands more tuned in online through Livestream. According to its organizers, the event reflects social media’s role as “a catalyst in driving cultural, economic, political and social change in developed and emerging markets,” and the 2012 installment was no different. Unless you have a knack for time travel, attending these events is now impossible, but here are a few themes and observations from Social Media Week in NYC.

Live life in permanent beta: always be improving.
This paraphrased statement by LinkedIn cofounder Reid Hoffman (@quixotic) presents an interesting concept even in this time of social, mobile, and web 2.0 revolution. The “hacker” mentality that drives Facebook is cut from the same cloth but with a slightly different weave, if you will, since LinkedIn appears to approach new feature rollouts differently from Facebook. Either way, both companies have a permanent beta mentality of constantly improving, which means keeping one ear––if not both ears and eyes––on what is new, current, and possibly already being distributed in the social/mobile/technology marketplace.

Technology doesn’t solve problems––it creates tools.
Jay Walker (@TedMedJay) discussed his idea of an evolving system, citing examples like health care, medicine, the human body, and international banking as being non-fixed, constantly evolving systems. Walker concluded that evolving systems usually have some type of acceptable range, deal in probabilities, have compounding effects, and have infinite interrelatedness combined with a high degree of randomness. Sound like social media or the emerging mobile market? Walker thought so as well and went on to say that technology doesn’t solve problems, but rather it creates tools for “system thinkers,” which is exactly what we have seen in the marketplace to date. Entrepreneurs have a lower cost of entry into the market and make some amazing new online services. As these services grow, they gain capital investments and expand. As expansion and adoption continues, other “system thinkers” in different industries see the technology and adapt its functionality to solve their evolving system problems.

Curation versus original content––what is the future?
In a session hosted by Hearst Magazines, Noah Brier of Percolate, Anthony De Rosa of Reuters, Kellee Khalil of Lover.ly, and The Filter Bubble author Eli Pariser sat down with moderator Keith Butters, cofounder of The Barbarian Group, to discuss curation. The need for end-user filter control was a common thread in the discussion, along with the feasibility of creating an algorithm that mimics what editors do daily as they curate content for their publishing channels. The future of content––its discovery and consumption online––will be evolving as companies develop features to control the fire hose of content that rushes at us daily. The need for feed and filter literacy was introduced during the conversation and opens the door for not only personal but corporate training on how content is delivered to a user and how that user can and should control the content he or she reads. What one user considers important is a difficult decision to make and ultimately program and is very subjective. The future of curation or algorithmic filtering and delivery of content will depend on how transparent and user-friendly the features become.

Data, analytics, and a concentrated focus were the overwhelming themes across Social Media Week 2012. What ideas are you thinking about relating to social and mobile for 2012?

Author: John Carew