Next! 2013 punditry you can draw on

We hate next year punditry. OK, so here’s ours anyway: Love em, hate em, but believe em. The New Year’s spirit is telling us it’s all true, plus the Moleskine never lies.

happy new year and peace.

2013 in 2012

ps – so? who has time for PPT & graphics? draw your own.

pps – i hope you have a minute or two leftover to respond with your thoughts in the comments section.


Multimedia Chat Points to Future Online Behavior

Update: Now that Mark Zuckerberg’s sister inadvertently has sent out a pic of her and her fam using facebook’s new temporary photo sharing app, I thought it appropriate to update this post and resend it given new context. I hope you find it’s pov meaningful to you!

My kids (12 and 1415) are perceptive when it comes to my interests in all things digital, so recently, when they told me about a new service called “SnapChat“, an iphone app that let’s you send a photo and message to your friends “privately”, I paid attention. How is it private? With two key new features: 1) the picture is only viewable for a fixed number of seconds (that you, the sender, chooses), AND, the app won’t allow you to take screen grabs.

In related news, the founders of Napster, and heavy hitting Silicon Valley movers and shakers (Sean Parker (played by Justin Timberlake in “the Social Network”) and Sean Fanning) have introduced a new video chatting service called “Airtime” that connects people based on their Facebook profiles. What is it? How does it work? Essentially, it will allow 2 types of video chat. First is a very simple UI to give you video connections with your existing Facebook friends. This isn’t really interesting though as Facebook already has video chatting built in through their partnership with Skype.

What interesting is that the service will randomly match you with others who share your existing Facebook interests. So if you like wine, walks on the beach, the Cincinnati Reds, the movies “Stripes” and “Dog Day Afternoon”, the service touts it’s ability to find you matches who you can  chat with, live, who share your interests.

Both of these new services relate to two subjects I’ve blogged about previously. The war for “messaging” platform leadership between Google and Facebook and the ongoing battle between the conflicting human needs for connection and privacy. These two new services make those subjects ripe for further exploration.

First, SnapChat. I believe this speaks to the digital native’s desire, or dare i say requirement, for privacy within their digital communications. All of us, and hopefully our kids, have heard the news that “What goes on the internet, stays on the internet.” This is certainly true, and certainly a barrier to folks who want to have the same rights to privacy that they hold in their non-digital lives. SnapChat, and other “private” messaging services have been created solely to fulfill this need.

Next, Airtime. Anyone remember ChatRoulette? It debuted as an anonymous random peer-to-peer video chat application. You never knew who you would be paired with, and those with whom you were paired remained entirely anonymous. Given that there were zero community controls or repercussions, ChatRoulette quickly became a place for nudity spammers and others who were not behaving. A mere curiosity. But one that gained immediate exposure in digital circles as something to be aware of, even if only as a model. It opens up endless communications possibilities in theory.

Airtime aims to fix all the negatives about ChatRoulette. Because you sign in with your Facebook account, you are immediately accountable for your behavior. To protect users further, the service monitors activity looking for signals of misbehavior (nudity, etc) and removes transgressors immediately. You are allowed to keep your privacy as long as you wish when chatting with strangers, or reveal your identity as you wish. Who will use this service? Initially, I believe it will be the curious, the lonely, and the social scientists among us who plumb the depths of human behavior. Eventually, I can see a service like this becoming mainstream as the barriers of video chat interest continue to come down and video chatting experiences like Google Hangouts continue to mature and gain acceptance.

Will these new services have impact on your online behavior? Maybe not with SnapChat, but imagine that twitter, or even Facebook decided to allow a “private” messaging capability that erased your content after a short viewing window for your specifically intended audience? Wouldn’t you consider using that feature on occasion if not regularly? If it takes off as a behavior, what will that mean to marketers who are beginning to depend on the data available from sources like the Twitter “firehose”? Could it kill the nascent “Sentiment Analysis” craze that companies like Radian6 are leveraging?

Maybe not with Airtime, but eventually, businesses are going to be looking to engage with their customers via video chat. If both parties can identify positive opportunities for connecting, might it not lead to new ways to gather information, learn new stuff, be entertained, accomplish account service tasks, even buy stuff?

I can’t wait to find out. What do you think of these new communications opportunities? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Basic human needs: meaningful connection vs. privacy

According to the pundits, the hottest technology to emerge in 2012 will be location-aware personal discovery applications. What does this mean? It means that there is technology being launched whose sole purpose is to put you together, in both the digital realm, and more importantly, the real physical world, with others who share your interests.

Apps in this vein, which are already in the app stores and markets, and which are getting great positive reviews by tech thought leaders, include such apps as highlight, Glancee, Sonar and Banjo.Highlight & Glancee

So what does this technology do? How does it work? Once you’ve downloaded the app, it typically asks you to login via facebook. Why you ask? So that the app can scan your friends lists and your interests and then make telling connections between your friend/interests, and others and let you know whose close by using location-aware services on your phone. Basically, it will tell you when people are physically near you who share your interests. In some cases, this is pulled from your list of pre-existing facebook friends. In other cases, you’re being introduced to people who you do not yet know, but the software figures you might want to.

If you’re going to a conference like SXSW, or have just moved to a new city and want to meet new folks, it sounds great right? But wait, what about the fact that your socially-enthusiastic teenager has access to this very same person-to-person recommendation engine? Do you want her reaching out to everyone who shares her taste in Eminem? Or even M&Ms? Or even more unnerving to her parents, having her being approached by strangers who happen to be introduced to her via one of these emerging services? Only time will tell if this type of technology has broader application among later adopters of technology

If services like this are to gain traction, privacy concerns will ultimately have to be addressed. Where do you net out? Is privacy worth reducing if it means more meaningful human connections?

And the privacy battles continue

For more on the subject of privacy versus 121 marketing, see the following article from Media Post. The question remains, will the general public take advantage of, or even understand the purpose of, these privacy related tools?

MediaPost Publications New Microsoft Tool Blocks Behavioral Advertising 02/11/2011.

Privacy versus 1-2-1 marketing

I’ve been reading a lot about sites and services that are using user data, sometimes anonymous data, sometimes explicitly tied to an individual, to create digital experiences designed to make the user’s online experience, or in some cases, life, better. The problem is that most every one of these services is eroding people’s privacy in a couple of different ways. From Google’s Health service, which let’s you store all your medical data in one accessible place, (including, ostensibly, accessible by Google itself) to ads served to you that know what you want and therefore can be seen as offering a benefit to the user. I just read a white paper by Boston Consulting Group that clearly outlines the imperative for marketers to take advantage of behavioral targeting, identifying site visitors by cookie, and then serving them ads as they surf the net based on what they were doing on your site in the first place. It’s a brilliant marketing tactic, because it drives higher click throughs and other engagement in your messaging, and ultimately drives warm traffic back to your site to accomplish whatever you want accomplished there. But are people aware they are being “tracked” and if they have a vague notion they are, can they control their data? Perhaps, more on that in a bit.

Against this backdrop are the privacy advocates who decry any sort of data collection as an invasion of privacy, despite privacy policies stating this practice by most of the marketers they are complaining about. Most of these privacy policies of course never get read by those intended to read them, and most sites are fine with that situation.

Now, in an effort in industry self regulation, the online ad industry is attempting to solve this sticky problem by proposing that advertisers alert those who see ads that they may be being tracked behaviorally, and to allow those people to join a sort of do-not-call registry for BT. This brings me to my point: While most of us do not like the idea of being “tracked” a we go about our private lives online, the fact remains that the vast majority of us outside the marketing industry aren’t really that conscious of these issues and so go happily about their day being tagged, cookied, targeted, and otherwise de-privatized.

So the question is, knowing that you can’t order ecommerce goods without a cookie tracking you through the shopping cart experience, or have the computer remember your email password without risking someone somewhere having more access to your personal data, or have a retailer track your every purchase through your frequent shopper data, should we as Americans be worried about how much we’re giving up to be living in our digital paradise?

I’ll leave that up to you to decide, I can tell you, I haven’t decided myself, and as a Libertarian at heart, I should be aghast at the amount of my personal life i give up to random  strangers every day. But, as one of like 3 BB online netizens, at the end of the day, I want my internet, and no amount of personal invasion is going to tamp down that desire.