I have a problem with the NYTimes article published last week, prodding and kneading the idea that we are gradually falling in love with, and becoming addicted to, the actual hardware composing our smartphones—particularly iPhones.
Well, two problems. First, the article discusses screening, testing, and other forms of human behavior and psychology research as though they were executed scientifically. And maybe they were, but the overall tone of the article is exceedingly casual…and it’s in the in op-ed section of the site. Call me a stickler, but citing research findings in perhaps the softest section of the news outlet seems a little off-kilter, a little like cheating, taking the easy way out, pulling a fast one, etc. Albeit on the slow end of the “fast one” spectrum.
Anyway—my much bigger problem is the wild jump across a gaping chasm between finding and conclusion in most of these studies. The studies describe growing conclusive data that humans are falling in love with machines because when they look at content on their smartphones, or become engaged with it, the human brain reacts pretty similarly to the way it does when we look at or engage with the humans we love in our lives. (Chemical and magnetic brain patterns were cited in the article.)
Presto! We must love glass and lead! The line between human and machine is finally blurring…look out generations-to-come; make sure you keep those robots and algorithms operating at only 2/3 human capacity to avoid a takeover!
But wait. Nowhere does the article take into account the fact that the iPhone is acting as a pretty effective conduit to our most cherished friends. I don’t know about you, but when I get a letter and see my Grandma’s handwriting on the envelope, I smile; I’m thinking of my Grandma. It doesn’t mean I love the envelope—it means I’m fortunate enough to have interfaces with her, other than face to face conversation, that respark our relationship from afar, and keep our friendship alive.
I’m venturing a bet that our brains aren’t experiencing anxiety over the loss of a device when we shatter that almost-defective iPhone screen or forget it at home—we experience anxiety over losing flexibility of access to the people we love most. It probably is "separation anxiety," as the article speculates, but because our frequency of contact with those we love (that we’ve become accustomed to because of the unspeakable glories of technology advancement contained within the devices, certainly) is cut off…not our physical access to the little portal itself.

I have a problem with the NYTimes article published last week, prodding and kneading the idea that we are gradually falling in love with, and becoming addicted to, the actual hardware composing our smartphones—particularly iPhones.

Well, two problems. First, the article discusses screening, testing, and other forms of human behavior and psychology research as though they were executed scientifically. And maybe they were, but the overall tone of the article is exceedingly casual…and it’s in the in op-ed section of the site. Call me a stickler, but citing research findings in perhaps the softest section of the news outlet seems a little off-kilter, a little like cheating, taking the easy way out, pulling a fast one, etc. Albeit on the slow end of the “fast one” spectrum.

Anyway—my much bigger problem is the wild jump across a gaping chasm between finding and conclusion in most of these studies. The studies describe growing conclusive data that humans are falling in love with machines because when they look at content on their smartphones, or become engaged with it, the human brain reacts pretty similarly to the way it does when we look at or engage with the humans we love in our lives. (Chemical and magnetic brain patterns were cited in the article.)

Presto! We must love glass and lead! The line between human and machine is finally blurring…look out generations-to-come; make sure you keep those robots and algorithms operating at only 2/3 human capacity to avoid a takeover!

But wait. Nowhere does the article take into account the fact that the iPhone is acting as a pretty effective conduit to our most cherished friends. I don’t know about you, but when I get a letter and see my Grandma’s handwriting on the envelope, I smile; I’m thinking of my Grandma. It doesn’t mean I love the envelope—it means I’m fortunate enough to have interfaces with her, other than face to face conversation, that respark our relationship from afar, and keep our friendship alive.

I’m venturing a bet that our brains aren’t experiencing anxiety over the loss of a device when we shatter that almost-defective iPhone screen or forget it at home—we experience anxiety over losing flexibility of access to the people we love most. It probably is "separation anxiety," as the article speculates, but because our frequency of contact with those we love (that we’ve become accustomed to because of the unspeakable glories of technology advancement contained within the devices, certainly) is cut off…not our physical access to the little portal itself.

I just saw this Wired article about Google’s newest algorithm tweak. Apparently Google just rolled out a feature to level the playing field a bit in the online news search visibility world. By embedding a “standout” tag in the header of a news article (there is a set of parameters and limits on the number of times a publication can use this tag per week) Google’s little crawlers will mark the news articles as such.
The consensus is this is an attempt both to make News more social, and to give smaller, local publications (especially newspapers) a better shot at higher search results than their NYT, Washington Post, and USA Today peers.
A little socialistic? Maybe…let’s see how well this is adopted.

I just saw this Wired article about Google’s newest algorithm tweak. Apparently Google just rolled out a feature to level the playing field a bit in the online news search visibility world. By embedding a “standout” tag in the header of a news article (there is a set of parameters and limits on the number of times a publication can use this tag per week) Google’s little crawlers will mark the news articles as such.

The consensus is this is an attempt both to make News more social, and to give smaller, local publications (especially newspapers) a better shot at higher search results than their NYT, Washington Post, and USA Today peers.

A little socialistic? Maybe…let’s see how well this is adopted.

No…this isn’t the internet factory.

No…this isn’t the internet factory.

So I just learned today that Facebook users with developer status can activate the much anticipated, new timeline UI NOW instead of waiting until September 30th like everyone else. Yes, please. I want to be first.
Anyway, here’s the video with the extremely simple instructions for how to get the new Facebook.
No one’s lying: this update is EXTREMELY different. But also extremely arresting and—in my opinion—mesmerizing. It completely shifts the utility of Facebook from status- and recency-focused to archive focused. Facebook is now a scrapbook of your life…essentially…and it remembers and displays everything.
What I’m interested in, though, is what the adaptation and adoption behavior will look like. We have to remember that Facebook has a huge, rippling user base of baby boomers who, typically, respond a little less elastically to abrupt, significant change. And I’m willing to bet there’s never been a sample group as huge as the one Facebook has access to to take a look at how that demographic responds to immense UI changes.
I can only assume someone’s on that and will be watching. I can only hope we’ll get to see even a peek of some of the findings and results.

So I just learned today that Facebook users with developer status can activate the much anticipated, new timeline UI NOW instead of waiting until September 30th like everyone else. Yes, please. I want to be first.

Anyway, here’s the video with the extremely simple instructions for how to get the new Facebook.

No one’s lying: this update is EXTREMELY different. But also extremely arresting and—in my opinion—mesmerizing. It completely shifts the utility of Facebook from status- and recency-focused to archive focused. Facebook is now a scrapbook of your life…essentially…and it remembers and displays everything.

What I’m interested in, though, is what the adaptation and adoption behavior will look like. We have to remember that Facebook has a huge, rippling user base of baby boomers who, typically, respond a little less elastically to abrupt, significant change. And I’m willing to bet there’s never been a sample group as huge as the one Facebook has access to to take a look at how that demographic responds to immense UI changes.

I can only assume someone’s on that and will be watching. I can only hope we’ll get to see even a peek of some of the findings and results.

Okay, so these watches are insanely—inSANEly—geeky…annnnd pretty amazing. As per the blurb on Watchismo, these new Click watches throw back to 80s arcade game printed circuit boards with their innovative use of Dip and Turn Switches. Click watches revive retro video game electronics controls to actually spawn a whole slew of new methods for displaying “time.”
"If you look at the circuit boards of any 80’s arcade game or electronic device, you’d find these switches.  Designed to be used on a printed circuit board along with other electronic components and are commonly used to customize the behavior of an electronic device for specific situations."
<3

Okay, so these watches are insanely—inSANEly—geeky…annnnd pretty amazing. As per the blurb on Watchismo, these new Click watches throw back to 80s arcade game printed circuit boards with their innovative use of Dip and Turn Switches. Click watches revive retro video game electronics controls to actually spawn a whole slew of new methods for displaying “time.”

"If you look at the circuit boards of any 80’s arcade game or electronic device, you’d find these switches.  Designed to be used on a printed circuit board along with other electronic components and are commonly used to customize the behavior of an electronic device for specific situations."

<3

Thanks to my good friend, Jenks for this gem…

(Source: youtube.com)

God I love dubstep. For those who don&#8217;t know, Wikipedia describes it as a genre of dance music characterized by "tightly coiled productions with overwhelming bass lines and reverberant drum patterns, clipped samples, and occasional vocals." The style originated in South London, some would say as far back as 1998. It spread to NYC and became a phenomenon here around 2006 or so, I believe.
Anyway&#8212;here&#8217;s why it&#8217;s excessively relevant to this blog: from a personal experience standpoint, listening to dubstep can be an ephemeral, *almost* physical experience. It can get intense enough to simulate what I can only describe as a vibrato, brain massaging affect. This is especially true if you strap on a set of headphones and pump in remixes of songs you&#8217;re unfamiliar with&#8212;suddenly all that matters are the actual physics of the audio experience. It&#8217;s these abrasive, though artfully organized, audio waves that feel like magic fingers opening up the faucets that release concentration, productivity, ideation&#8230;essentially anything that requires prolonged thinking, creativity and problem-solving.
Do I need to go into why this can be tech&#8217;s equivalent to the sports worlds&#8217; steroid? Try it. Grooveshark has a great collection. Here&#8217;s the compilation I&#8217;m listening to now: 100% Pure Dubstep.
Enjoy!

God I love dubstep. For those who don’t know, Wikipedia describes it as a genre of dance music characterized by "tightly coiled productions with overwhelming bass lines and reverberant drum patterns, clipped samples, and occasional vocals." The style originated in South London, some would say as far back as 1998. It spread to NYC and became a phenomenon here around 2006 or so, I believe.

Anyway—here’s why it’s excessively relevant to this blog: from a personal experience standpoint, listening to dubstep can be an ephemeral, *almost* physical experience. It can get intense enough to simulate what I can only describe as a vibrato, brain massaging affect. This is especially true if you strap on a set of headphones and pump in remixes of songs you’re unfamiliar with—suddenly all that matters are the actual physics of the audio experience. It’s these abrasive, though artfully organized, audio waves that feel like magic fingers opening up the faucets that release concentration, productivity, ideation…essentially anything that requires prolonged thinking, creativity and problem-solving.

Do I need to go into why this can be tech’s equivalent to the sports worlds’ steroid? Try it. Grooveshark has a great collection. Here’s the compilation I’m listening to now: 100% Pure Dubstep.

Enjoy!


More Talk of Margins
Ad Age followed suit today by joining in the growing discussion over profit margins vs. brand equity as businesses evolve in new ways digitally.
My last post discusses thinner margins as strengths for Hulu and Amazon in getting ahead of more traditional companies with outdated business models and methodologies. Today, though, Ad Age introduced the counterpart: some of the companies who are getting slammed for too-thin profit margins.
Who seems to be in trouble here? 1.) Traditional consumer players who are being forced to compete with more agile models (CPGs, Banks); and 2.) online companies who have seen spectacular growth and who now also answer to Wall Street. As an example, even Netflix, arguably one of the more successful online business based IPOs, demonstrated growing pains with their hikes in subscription fees recently, all in the never ending pursuit of higher stock values.
So this begs the question: Are thinner margins really the secret to successful digital business models? Is it a strategy that will only ever work for private companies?
As always, I&#8217;m interested to watch more of these stories unfold.

More Talk of Margins

Ad Age followed suit today by joining in the growing discussion over profit margins vs. brand equity as businesses evolve in new ways digitally.

My last post discusses thinner margins as strengths for Hulu and Amazon in getting ahead of more traditional companies with outdated business models and methodologies. Today, though, Ad Age introduced the counterpart: some of the companies who are getting slammed for too-thin profit margins.

Who seems to be in trouble here? 1.) Traditional consumer players who are being forced to compete with more agile models (CPGs, Banks); and 2.) online companies who have seen spectacular growth and who now also answer to Wall Street. As an example, even Netflix, arguably one of the more successful online business based IPOs, demonstrated growing pains with their hikes in subscription fees recently, all in the never ending pursuit of higher stock values.

So this begs the question: Are thinner margins really the secret to successful digital business models? Is it a strategy that will only ever work for private companies?

As always, I’m interested to watch more of these stories unfold.

Are Thinner Margins the Future for the Tech Marketplace?

So for the second time in two days I’ve skimmed stories attributing tech companies’ success, where others have failed, to thinner-than-generally expected profit margins.

I admit this article is pretty old, but it provides a pretty great, in-depth look at Hulu’s revenue strategy. Perhaps the most striking component is the success the company’s seen by accepting razor thin profit margins as an opportunity rather than a burden when looking at income.

In a slightly different world, WSJ reports that Amazon’s shot at success in the already crowded (and littered with failure) tablet marketplace likely lies in the company’s ability to operate with profit margins thinner than those traditional hardware manufacturers and distributors require to stay afloat.

It’s an interesting theme to watch in the coming months—is business for the sake of business the wave of the promising technological future?