Tag Archives: Google

10 Things I Like About the Internet: April 14th, 2010 Edition

14 Apr

Here we go again. Week 3 of my Top 10 List. As always, lots happening online, particularly on Twitter (check out #9).

1. This Week’s Viral Video: Sarah Palin Network. Tina Fey reprises her classic role as Sarah Palin in this week’s SNL.

2. Location, Location, Location: CauseWorld

I know the net is buzzing with changes from Foursquare, though I wanted to give a shout out to a new check-in based location service that does good for the world. CauseWorld, an app for the iPhone and Android, allows you to check in and get “karma points” to donate towards a variety of charitable causes. According to ReadWriteWeb, the mission of CauseWorld’s parent company Shopkick is to bring virtual and physical shopping worlds together. In addition to checking in, CauseWorld allows users to scan products for extra karma points. What a great amalgamation of brand marketing, local communities, social media and philanthropy.

3. There’s an App for That: A Site for Apps

I love my Droid, and now I love the user-friendly site 101 Best Android Apps that lets me search the 101 most popular apps by time frame (today, yesterday, this week, this month, and all time) and by subject matter (business, education, entertainment, etc). As opposed to lists that are published weekly by Gizmodo, Mashable, Techmeme, etc (which are incredibly helpful), this is a dynamic site that changes daily.

4. Exploring Online Communities: Lostpedia

This is neither a new site nor one that implements any novel technology, but I have to give a shout out to Lostpedia, the user/fan-generated wiki for LOST, one of my all-time favorite television shows. The site is an incredibly comprehensive encyclopedia of all things LOST, from detailed episode, character and actor synopses to literary references, trivia and mythology questions.  I recently added my own two-cents for a new LOST episode:

“Penny asks Desmond to meet her at a coffee shop on Melrose and Sweetzer in Los Angeles. There is no coffee shop on Melrose and Sweetzer. However, there is an antique shop called ‘Thanks for the Memories.'”

I’m not a World of Warcraft gal, but the WoWWiki is also a fabulous community resource.

5. A Stumble from StumbleUpon: Mark and Angel Hack Life

I found this helpful, informative and fun blog written by a married couple who write lists about practical tips for practical living. While these are their personal opinions, I like the authenticity and personality of their blogging voice. I was particularly drawn to their blog because of this post. I’ve only read 1/3 of these…better get cracking.

6. Apple News: iAds

Also known as “Mobile Ads with Emotion,” Apple this week announced iAd, its new mobile advertising platform, part of the new iPhone OS 4.0. The platform will be built directly into the iPhone OS interface. Steve Jobs claims that iAd differs from Google Ads in that the ads will keep users within an app, rather than redirecting users to a browser window. TechCrunch provided detailed play-by-play from Jobs’ iAd demo, and emphasized that both ad agencies and app developers will be able to create interactive ads for Apple.

7. My Geek Factor: Penn Olson Infographics

Following my love for all thing beautiful, informative and cool, below are some relevant infographics from digital marketing consultant Penn Olson about various aspects of social media. These are just a handful of neat statistics — on Google Facts and Figures and Social Media Demographics — this site provides in graphic form:

8. Online Legal News: The FCC Loses Ruling on “Net Neutrality”

A federal appeals court denounced efforts by the FCC to create standardized rules for the Internet, claiming that the agency cannot require broadband providers to give equal treatment to all Internet traffic. Edward Wyatt writes in the New York Times that “the decision will allow Internet service companies to block or slow specific sites and charge video sites like YouTube to deliver content faster to users.” The court ruling, which came after Comcast asserted that it had the right to slow cable customers’ use of BitTorrent and other peer-to-peer services to view free streaming of shows and channels normally relegated to paid subscribers. The principle of “net neutrality,” in which Internet providers must provide the same speed to everyone who wishes to access whatever websites users wish to see, is central to maintaining an open Internet. Austin Schlick, General Counsel of the FCC, said the ruling would affect it’s plan, announced in March, to connect 100 million homes to broadband by 2020. TechCrunch, ReadWriteWeb and Big Think provide good commentary on the court’s ruling from a tech industry perspective, highlighting a general consensus that the laws regarding telecommunications need to be updated to reflect the current state of the digital age.

9. Getting Excited For…The Future of Twitter

Lots of big announcements about the future of Twitter on the heels of Chirp, the Twitter developer conference in San Francisco. Besides declaring some major milestones, there’s already drama brewing between Twitter and developers. Twitter’s impressive growth indicates that social media is not only growing more powerful technologically, but also as a business tool and cultural phenomenon:

  • Twitter Statistics from Chirp: Twitter has over 105 million registered users, receives 180 million unique visitors per month, 75% of Twitter traffic comes from third-party apps, and there are 600 million search queries on Twitter per day.
  • Promoted Tweets: Twitter’s much-anticipated program for making money off advertising, Promoted Tweets will show up when Twitter users search for keywords that advertisers have bought to link to their ads. Although Twitter argues that this program differs from ads, Twitter users seem to be confused about the value and nature of promoted tweets. What do you think — are promoted tweets equivalent to spam?
  • Library of Congress To Preserve Twitter: In what I personally think is a very cool move to that validates new media as important cultural literature, the Library of Congress has announced that it will digitally preserve ever public tweet since the site launched in March 2006.
  • Twitter Acquires Atebits: In its third major acquisition, Twitter acquired Atebits, the start-up that develops Tweetie apps for Mac and iPhones.
  • TweetUp: A new venture that aims to make money by allowing Twitter users to bid on keywords to give their posts top ranking. The service will organize posts according to popularity as measured by how often readers retweet and click on links contained in the posts.
  • Points of Interest: Twitter’s new feature that will use geo-tagging to identify physical places. The feature will show a map and a stream of Twitter activity nearby: a real-time view of what’s happening at a particular place at a particular time.

10. Just For Fun: Create Your Own Google SearchStories

I absolutely loved Google’s SearchStory ad that aired during the Super Bowl. Now, YouTube has a channel where you can create your own Search Story. Can’t wait to play around with this!

Crowdsourcing: The Past, Present and Future of Online Behavior and Business

6 Apr

What is a crowd?  Dictionary.com offers 14 variations on the definition of crowd (both nouns and verbs).  My favorite – and most relevant to Jeff Howe’s Crowdsourcing: Why the Power of the Crowd is Driving the Future of Business – is #7:

“noun. Sociology. a temporary gathering of people responding to common stimuli and engaged in any of various forms of collective behavior.”

Why is it important to discuss crowds in relation to business, the Internet and online communities?  How do crowds act online, why should we pay attention, and how can businesses effectively capitalize on crowd behavior to promote participation and loyalty among consumers?  And what is “crowdsourcing”?

Originally defined by Howe in a June 2006 Wired article , crowdsourcing is a revolution that involves “cheap production costs, a surplus of underemployed talent and creativity, and the rise of online communities composed of like-minded enthusiasts” (5-6).  Or, as Howe defines it on his blog, crowdsourcing is “the application of Open Source principles to fields outside of software.”  In the book, Howe does an excellent job of explaining both the history of and theories behind crowdsourcing.  Using examples of how certain companies (Threadless, InnoCentive, Etsy, Wikipedia, iStockphoto) became successful while employing business models that engaged the online consumer, Howe notes crowdsourcing is the “antithesis of Fordism” (14).  Online communities, where collaboration and commitment are their own rewards to users, are at the center of crowdsourcing.  “Crowdsourcing accelerates the globalization of labor and economic dislocation we see in outsourcing.  Like the Internet, crowdsourcing has no boundaries” (17).

Section I, How We Got Here,” is dedicated to describing the evolution of crowdsourcing.  Howe argues that four fundamental developments made “crowdsourcing not only possible, but inevitable” (18):

1. Renaissance of amateurism: The gap in knowledge between the experts and the rest of the populace is shrinking.  The Internet makes it more difficult to restrict information, so amateurs and professionals alike have access to the same information.  Where once professionals reigned, “the self-organizing community of amateurs shoulders a significant degree of the labor” (32) in various industries (ie, iStockphoto for photography).

2. Open Source software movement: Howe strongly argues that the Open Source software movement provided the blueprint for crowdsourcing.  There are three components to the open source model of production (62-63):

  • an enourmous task is distributed across a network,
  • there is no limit on the number of potential contributors,
  • the work is broken down into small, discrete tasks (aka “modules”).

Howe notes that open source works efficiently because “a large and diverse labor pool will consistently come up with better solutions than the most talented, specialized work force” (54).  He discusses the evolution of Wikipedia as the perfect example of crowdsourcing based on Open Source software principles.

3. Increasing availability of tools of production: The widespread availability and decreased price of means of production empower crowds to take part in a process long dominated by companies and industries (71).  Such tools allow amateurs the opportunity to be both a producer and consumer.  Corporations such as Google (YouTube) and News Corp. (MySpace) capitalize on user-generated content to make money off ad sales.  Electronic word-of-mouth, such as bands on MySpace, becomes a marketing strategy that doubles as a distribution strategy.  This is the democratization of media in action.

4. Rise of vibrant online communities organized around people’s interests: Howe defines the crowd as “the Billion” of people worldwide who have Internet access.  This is the size of the potential crowd who can contribute to crowdsourcing projects.  Howe emphasizes that community is the asset to crowdsourcing, and geography and common interests are potent forces in creating online communities.

Section II, Where We Are,” discusses how crowdsourcing currently manifests online and in business (or, at least in the moment the book was published in 2008.  Howe added a forward, published in the 2009 edition, which fully acknowledges that several of these current examples are already outdated).  The most relevant ideas from this section include:

1. Diversity trumps ability: Studies that show a large, diverse group of people will have an equal if not better ability to solve a problem than a small, homogeneous group of high ability.  Why?  Individuals each have knowledge or talents that, when shared with a community, create unparalleled collective intelligence.  A diverse array of approaches to solving a problem will allow the problem to be solved more quickly than people who all have the same knowledge and ability.

2. Collective Intelligence in action: Howe discusses “idea jams” and crowdcasting, which are efforts at customer collaboration to create solutions to problems that don’t exist yet (159).  Dell IdeaStorm, the Netflix algorithm challenge, and InnoCentive are examples of crowdcasting networks and prediction markets that utilize collective intelligence.

3. What the Crowd Creates: Here, Howe explains the role of the top 1% of contributors, or “creators,” in an online community, and how they are fundamentally changing how work gets done.  The crowd’s heaviest users need to have meaningful incentives for contributing – it’s not about the money (although it can be a welcome byproduct).  Creators need to have a sense of ownership over a site in a company’s transition from professional to community production.

4. Filtering the crowd: The 1:10:89 rule says that for every 100 people on a given site, 1 will create something, 10 will vote on it, and 89 will consume it.  (Think American Idol).  Communities don’t need to have a 100% active user base in order to be thriving and vibrant.  It’s the 10% who filter the 1% creators, ultimately determining what is valuable (and not paying attention to the crap) and thereby making the community and its information meaningful.  (Think Digg).

5. Crowdfunding: Also known as “social banking,” crowdfunding taps the collective pocketbook so people can finance projects they believe in on their own terms, on their own timetable.  The concept directly connects people with money to people who need money.  Kiva.org, the person-to-person microlending site endorsed by Bill Clinton, is a perfect example of crowdfunding.

In Section III, “Where We’re Going,” Howe posits ideas on the future of crowdsourcing and offers ten rules for effectively maximizing on crowdsourcing behavior.  Several of these rules reiterate the principles he discusses throughout the book and are useful “quick tips” for individuals and businesses looking to implement crowdsourcing effectively.  Here is a chart that shows crowdsourcing in eight steps:

However, Howe spends little time – except in the forward – discussing the potential downfalls and criticisms of crowdsourcing.  Clearly, the ethical and economic issues raised by crowdsourcing are debatable.  Certain businesses — Howe mentions the uproar over crowdSPRING and 99designs in the design community — denounce crowdsourcing because too many artists are providing free spec labor and not being compensated appropriately.  Since there are no written contracts in crowdsourcing, critics believe that contributors can be exploited, and it may be difficult to manage large-scale crowdsourced projects.  As Howe mentions, any successful crowdsourcing community needs to have a guide to organize the crowd — without two-way communication from the source to the crowd, users will leave or not contribute meaningfully.  While I believe that crowdsourcing is fundamental and crucial to today’s — and the future’s — online marketplace, there is no question that a company needs to provide a framework for the crowd to work successfully.

Here are some current examples of crowdsourcing. Crowd: what do you think?

Google Product Ideas

Automattic

The Late Age of Print Open Source Audiobook

Crowdsourcing Cover Challenge

Open Innovators

Ever Use a Crowd to Learn Something?

Parisian Oops

9 Feb

I love this interpretation of Google’s Super Bowl ad. Made by a UCB sketch group in New York, the ad is already circling the tech blogs. The embedding link is acting funky, so you can watch it directly here.

Super Bowl SearchStories

8 Feb

This is what I know about Super Bowl Sunday: it is the only time I will 1) proactively watch football and 2) proactively watch ads. I’m not anti-football. I’m just not that into it (unless, of course, the Bears are playing…then I’m moderately more interested). I knew that the Colts were playing the Saints, that Peyton Manning is the Colts QB and former Trojan Reggie Bush plays for the Saints (and dates Kim Kardashian).

After reading an article in the New York Times on Sunday morning, I was very excited about the possibility of seeing an ad for Google during the 3rd quarter. According to the article, Google makes more money from advertising than any other media company in the world, but has not traditionally promoted it’s own brand. I absolutely loved the “search story” that told, through search queries, how a boy goes to study abroad in Paris, falls in love, moves to Paris, gets married and has a baby. Beautiful, simple, and less than a minute. In addition to demonstrating Google’s search capabilities, the ad speaks directly to how we can tell life stories through information searches.

There are currently seven Google SearchStory ads on YouTube, each detailing a different emotionally-charged story while highlighting how Google allows the story to unfold. Here is an ad about planning a road trip that does an amazing job of showing Google Map features:

Examining the Super Bowl as an institutional apparatus that creates an intense escalation of media activities across industries, the various advertisements, sports commentator descriptions, pre-game and halftime show antics surrounding celebrities, and overall emphasis on American patriotism seem to convey distinct messages to the television and online audiences. As Scott Sles noted in his blog post that CBS denied running an ad by the gay dating site ManCrunch, much can be suggested about the interaction between television broadcasting, programming and cultural values. Google’s ad — along with ads for Vizio’s Internet Apps and the infamous GoDaddy.com domain site — show the prominence of brand marketing strategies for online services across other media. As the Super Bowl is the most watched television show each year, our cultural values are moving online. Google’s slogan says it all: “search on.” Use your tv to search the Internet. Use Google for planning your life. Use YouTube, Flickr and Twitter to share your stories (through Vizio’s service, of course). Just as the television served as information’s gateway, now TV is telling us to go online.

And just for fun, here was my other favorite Super Bowl ad. Leave it to the Simpsons (with Coke as a sponsor) to tackle the poor economy in a lighthearted, relevant way. (Yes, I used “tackle” on purpose.)