LA Residents

Since I’m new to Los Angeles, one of my new favorite online communities is Downtown LA.

You can follow it on Twitter and Facebook…. it feeds you information about what’s going on in downtown Los Angeles. For example, there are 3800 Followers on Twitter and most are residents of Downtown LA exchanging events, tips and interests about hyper local restaurants and activities.

Additionally, you can keep up to date on LA Live events (for me this is useful in determining traffic flow outside my apartment).

They also do print-ads about promotions, opening of new venues and surveys to see what Downtown residents are interested in. For example, I recently participated in a survey that asked what types of shops and brands I like towards input for turning Seventh Avenue into a high-end shopping destination. Similarly, Target will be opening a location downtown as a result of demand via groundswell such as this site and its participants.

I think the next store at the top of the Downtown LA list is Trader Joes, fingers crossed!!

=)


MOBILE COMMUNICATION AND SOCIETY – A Global Perspective

By Manuel Castells, Mireia Fernandez-Ardevol, Jack Linchuan Qiu and Araba Sey

Mobile Communication and Society by Castells, Manuel, Qiu, Jack Linchuan, Fernandez-Ardevol, Mireia, 9780262033558

Review D. Bandini

I chose this book for three reasons: first it was about mobile communications, something I hope to get stronger in; second because it was written by a Chair of Annenberg; and third because it was available in the library. As I was narrowing a choice, it was hard to find a book that was copy written recently, as this was published in 2007. This was not the best choice for the simple reason it is chock full of early mobile stages, but most data doesn’t go past 2004. Between 2004 and 2011 there has been a major mobile revolution. The part I am most interested in, of course. But it did go to great lengths and exhaustive research to nail the actual facts and figures of mobile globally up until 2004. No small feat. It is indeed a dense research book.

There are 12 chapters in the book. I will skim through them for you. If you love facts and figures and numerical statistics you will love this book. I like smart phones, video games, and new technology. I should have listened to Clint’s suggestions.

  • Opening: Our Networks, Our Lives

Americans should be proud. We really adopted mobile technology faster than other countries. I did not know there were mobile phones in 1976, but there were 44,000. By 1990 there were 5 million. America basically had competing networks on different standards, similar to what we see today. This actually slowed our adoption rate outside of business use quite significantly. Europe adopted one standard (GSM, invented in Norway) for most countries and their cell phones surpassed their land lines years before ours did. At the time of this book printing Asia was still developing. Singapore had the government to thank for the push into mobile as it is a partner in manufacturing and distribution. I could go on and on with more facts, but basically what really opened up cell phones to most countries was either — the standard, the pricing via competition, or the ability to pay as you go. The pay as you go made it possible for poor countries to have a phone and a lifeline they would normally not have.

  • The Diffusion of Wireless Communications in the World

This is a look at who is using cell phones and why. Long distance workers were quick to adopt the technology like truckers or field workers. For field workers, it would take them a year to save to buy a pay-as-you-go phone, they would get patchy service and they spent most of their money on their phone which often was stolen because it was a status symbol. I love the imagery of the accessories the phones first came with, the belt clips and colored snap-on covers. This chapter shows how different demographics use the phones in different ways. Adults used it to talk, teens to text. Texting took off in a big way everywhere except America because most of the phone companies were not willing to open their services up to other carriers for a long time.

  • The Social Differentiation of Wireless Communication Users: Age, Gender, Ethnicity, and Socioeconomic Status

I love the imagery of the accessories the phones first came with, the belt clips and colored snap-on covers. This chapter shows how different demographics use the phones in different ways. Adults used it to talk, teens to text. Texting took off in a big way everywhere except America because most of the phone companies were not willing to open their services up to other carriers for a long time.

  • Communication and Mobility in Everyday Life

In this chapter he discusses the pros and cons of being available at any time. How mobile phones can define class. He talks about families being able to coordinate better through the mobile phone and manage their personal lives with more flexibility. Learning mobile phone etiquette when out and about.

  • The Mobile Youth Culture

This is hilarious. He talks about texting again, quite a bit and how it has morphed into its own language. He goes over personalization of phones. His examples are ringtones, photos, and video games like “snake.” Like snake‼ He also discusses how phones with cameras have been used to bully and humiliate teenagers at the hands of other teenagers and what the cultural ramifications means for this new technology. Wi-Fi is also introduced and debated.

The world is getting smaller. Reaching out and touching someone is more cost effective and easier now. No more busy signals, always a voicemail or text.  Because a mobile phone is not connected to a desk or a wall, it feels free. There is a different experience. Public places are now places that private personal interactions are made via mobile. New social patterns emerge through timeless connection possibilities. Response time can be shortened.

  • The Language of Wireless Communication

He again explores SMS and MMS texting and messaging. He talks about how caller ID has changed the way people call each other and pick up or do not.

Here is explores using mobile technology to rally people together. No doubt he was onto something. Little did he know that Twitter was coming. He points out several major political shifts partly attributed to mobile technology including the ousting of President Estrada in the Philippines, the electoral defeat of the Spanish Partido Popular, the voting power of Korean President Moo-Hyun and protests of the Republican party all organized and distributed via mobile texts, messages and calls. The mobile phone can affect big political change. Security, Wi-Fi, satellite phones are a few other topics.

This goes into economics of emerging and developing countries. He discusses how mobile phone affect the digital divide between countries with advanced technology and those without, pricing and how the poorest pay the most of their wages and get the worst service. For some countries the mobile phone is the only way they will ever discover the internet at all.

  • Conclusion: The Mobile Network Society

Mobile phones have a revolutionary impact on our society of 2004 and prior, no doubt. I wish I could learn his thoughts on the mobile technology of today! The revolution feels like is barely just getting started!


3/27/11 Industry Roundup

1. Announced this week: the complete Integration Of Google Voice and Sprint’s 50 million US customers, where their Sprint phone number is also now a Google voice number. It also allows Sprint users who already have a Google voice number to use that on their Sprint phones without extra software. Essentially, it takes your Sprint phone and turns it into a Google Voice phone.

2. AT&T announced plans to acquire T-Mobile for $39 billion. Top new FAQ: Will T-Mobile offer the Iphone?” Released on the T-Mobile website:
Q:Is T-Mobile USA getting the iPhone?
A: T-Mobile USA remains an independent company. The acquisition is expected to be completed in approximately 12 months. We do not offer the iPhone. We offer cutting edge devices like the Samsung Galaxy S 4G and coming soon our new Sidekick 4G.

So Verizon and AT&T will still be the only US carriers to offer the IPhoine and service to the IPad.

3. Social Vibe announced it had secured $20million in equity funding from Norwest Venture Partners. SV is a company that specializes in “engagement advertising” which is deemed less disruptive than display ad during the playing of social games. Eg: Farmville players who interacted with Kia’s 2011 Superbowl ad received free Zynga game currency.

4. Yelp has added “hipster” as an option to allow reviewers to assess the ambience of restaurants, bars, etc. According to the NY Post, a hipster ambience “as one that caters to the “skinny-jeans-wearing, Pabst Blue Ribbon-swilling, somber-and-ironic crowd.” Reviewers are already starting to use this tag in Portland, Oregon and Brookyln, NY.

5. Amazon opened its own Android App store – which seems to be a more selective list than the default Google Android Market. For consumers Amazon is offering trust and ease of use. For developers, Amazon is offering their huge consumer base. Does this mean an Amazon Android phone is in the works?

6. AOL has announced it plans to close 30 online media brands as a result of the Huffington Post merger. Many of AOLs sites will be rolled into existing Huffington Post verticals (ie Popeater into HuffPo Entertainment.)

7. In its first day of release, Firefox 4 was downloaded over 5 million times, twice that of IE9 after their debut. Within the first 35 hours, Firefox had surpassed 8 million downloads.

8. Showtime has renegotiated the terms of its contract with Netflix and pulled some its most popular shows from the Netflix streaming service. Shows such as “Dexter” and “Californication” will only be available on Showtime’s subscription stream. Some Showtime shows will remain on Netflix, but critics point out that these are shows that have been cancelled. In addition, Netflix announced plans to airs its own original series “House of Cards” starring Kevin Spacey.

9. Myspace’s decline is accelerating – between January and February 2011 unique visitors to Myspce dropped by 14.4% (from 73 to 63 million visitors). This information will slow down their sale as any interested buyers are looking to see how bad it is will get.

10. 3 million people are using the Starbuck mobile app to pay for drinks. It is also the top brand on Facebook with 29 million fans, and is also a top brand on Twitter and Foursquare.

11. Google has launched a quarterly online magazine which is based out of the UK. The first issue looks at the world of data and business with articles from a variety of freelancers and contributors. The jury is still out whether this is a sign that Google will be entering the media business or if this is just a project to feed the sites intellectual curiosity.

12. Facebook is trying to purchase 21 domains that include the word “facebook” in them – including “killfacebook.com” and “facebookcheats.com.” All of these domains are currently for sale, some for as little as $4,000. In addition, a recent study reveals that over 50% of American’s over the age of 12 are on Facebook.


Book Review: “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised”

Photo Credit: Amazon.com

At first glance, the book The Revolution Will Not Be Televised is about the early use of the internet in funding, connecting and organizing political campaigns (specifically the rise and fall of Howard Dean in the 2004 Presidential election).  It’s really two stories. It’s about the use of the internet in political runs. It’s also about Joe Trippi, a battle worn political organizer and campaign strategist who was one of the first to identify the constraints of traditional media and bring his history of terrestrial organizing to the internet.

Let’s break it down.

Learn more about Trippi’s online revolution


3/21/11 Industry Round Up

I apologize for the late posting; I thought my industry round up was next week.  But lets get to it.

1 – In honor of March Maddness, I’ll start with the Twitter bracket.  EmpireAvenue.com has taken every team in the tournament (where they normally are in the brackets) and determined the game’s outcomes based on Twitter activity.  Based on a Klout Score (which scales from 0-100), teams win their games based on the amount of Twitter activity the schools’ teams’ Twitter accounts have in terms of posts, tweets, re-tweets, followers, etc.  The results look nothing like a sane person’s actual bracket (with UNLV in the Final Four….UNLV lost in the first round of the real tournament).  But it is still kinda funny to see.  Here it is: http://tctechcrunch.files.wordpress.com/2011/03/picture-15.png

2 – A CitiBank analyst estimates that Google’s YouTube revenues will pass $1,000,000,000 by 2012.  The revenue will come primarily from advertisements that will cater to where you are and give you ads that are more relevant to your location (or local ads).   Currently, 81 of the top 100 videos on YouTube have advertisements, compared to roughly 60 a year ago.  In 2010, YouTube’s gross revenues were $825 million and will reach $1.3 billion in 2011, and 1.7 billion in 2012.

3 – Facebook has just hit, today, an $85,000,000,000 valuation on SecondMarket with $2.5 billion shares outstanding at a $34 per share valuation.  It was at $78,000,000,000 10 days ago.

4 – A Bit Lucky, the social network gaming company, has just received $5M in funding from the South Korean gaming company Nexon, bringing their total funding to $8M.  Their most popular Facebook game, Lucky Train, sees about 1 million active users per month.  Just goes to show that social games are still generating a lot of buzz and the social media bubble is alive and well.

5 – 8thBridge, a company that helps brands sell products directly on Facebook, just raised $10M in funding, bringing their total funding to $16M.  Briefly, they allow brands to sell their products directly on Facebook, with a fast check-out option on the news feed.  Currently they do this for 1-800 Flowers.  Not a bad idea.  Though it is showing that a LOT of people are putting their eggs in the Facebook basket.

6 – Exodus International, which has ministries that “provide support for individuals who want to recover from homosexuality” released a “Gay Cure” app on February 15.  Not only that, but it received a 4+ rating (which is for any app that has non-objectionable material).  So clearly some of that material is objectionable to some people.  In fact, it is to at least 100,000 people since that many have signed an online petition to have Apple remove it from the App Store.

7 – Google was fined $142,000 for privacy violations in France.  They have been gathering data from private Wi-Fi networks while driving around getting images for Google Street View.  This is adding to GSV’s controversy, where they get images of cars, license plates and people’s faces that are later posted.  Google’s solution was to blur faces and plate numbers.  A Google spokesperson said, “ Street View cars will no longer collect any Wi-Fi information.”  I am a little confused as to how this works but perhaps someone can shed some light.

8 – Jimmy Wong, a “singer/songwriter” has found Internet and iTunes stardom after his response to the “anti-Asians at UCLA” rant from that dumb girl.  He had 1.5 million views in the first 5 days of posting.  I thought it was okay, not anything that great, but hey, you be the judge.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zulEMWj3sVA

9 – This exists and has 30,000,000 views.  What is going on with our country?!?!?!  There is also a live, acoustic version that is somehow worse.  Like honestly, if this isn’t bad enough, the unplugged version will make you pluck out your eyeballs and plug your ears with them.  But thank you Rebecca, cause for the life of me I totally couldn’t remember what day came after Thursday, and before Saturday.  Also that Sunday comes afterwardsssssssssss.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CD2LRROpph0

10 – Facebook agreed to buy Spantu for $70M.  Snaptu makes apps for feature phones, which are basically all phones that aren’t smart phones.  They make up about 69% of all phones and 55% of overall phone sales in the US based on Nielsen Company data.


Naked Conversations: How Blogs are Changing the Way Businessess Talk with Customers

Naked Conversations: How Blogs are Changing the Way Businesses Talk with Customers By Robert Scoble and Shel Israel

Robert Scoble has blogged since 2000. His site, http://www.scobleizer.com has over 3.5 million readers a year. Robert was the architect of Microsoft’s Chanel 9 Web site. Now he currently works for Rackspace and the Rackspace sponsored community site Building 43.

Shel Israel is an author and public speaker in the social media arena. He contributed editorially to Business Week, Dow Jones Co, and FastCompany.TV. His last book Twitterville was published in 2009.

Naked Conversations was published in 2006 and it is evident that more businesses have started blogging. Scoble and Israel co-authored the book and with the help of the public. Scoble posted the idea of the book on a thread and started writing the book based on feedback as well as his own experience.

Basically, the Naked Conversations is a who, what, why and how blogging is good for business. It gives an objective view of how businesses that blog have more transparency which builds customer trust, allows audiences to take part in the main stream media by having a voice in the blogosphere and challenges traditional public relations strategies.

Because the book was written with public input, all the examples cited are real and can be researched for more specifics. This added to the depth of the book, but made reading sometimes heavy with detailed stories. Given this, each chapter of Naked Conversations headlines with a quote.

My favorites were, “What we’ve got here is…failure to communicate” – Captain, Cool Hand Luke

“We are all alike” – The 14th Dalai Lama

I found it very resourceful to have each website listed at the bottom of the pages when a blog was referenced. It allowed me to view the sites as I read the book.

In my opinion, I think Naked Conversations could have been divided into two books. I felt that there were so many interesting ideas and conversations that I had to take several breaks from it to have the information sink in.

Scoble and Israel give many tips in the book, all of which are very useful. I found the following five tips most helpful when starting a business blog. 1. “What’s in a Name?” Think through the title of your blog. You want your blog to be easily to search and in the top rankings.

2. “Read a Bunch of Blogs before you Start” This is a way for you to see the different types of blogs and motivate you to write your own.

3. “Keep it Simple. Keep it Focused” The authors advise having each post contain just one idea. I subscribed to sethgodin.com and scobleizer.com because their posts are simple and easy to read.

4. “Demonstrate Passion” This doesn’t mean be emotional. In fact it is suggested that you do not blog if you are angry or if you are going through something emotional. Remember your blog represents the company. Blog often.

5. “Show your Authority” Blog what you know!

Although Scoble and Israel state that businesses should “blog or die”, it is noted that some business should not blog i.e., businesses that do not have good employee relationships, have something to hide, or deal with services where privacy is key.

Overall, Naked Conversations is an excellent book to help business understand the importance of blogging.

– Brigette Kidd


The False Dichotomy

Douglas Rushkoff is a brilliant thinker, writer and media theorist. He is the author of Life Inc, Get Back in The Box, Playing The Future, Cyberia and Media Virus, among others. His latest book, however, is centered around an either-or fallacy, and while it contains good points throughout, Program or Be Programmed falls short of a great read.

In the introduction Rushkoff writes, “…we must learn not just how to use programs but how to make them…you will either create the software or you will be the software…” While knowing how to program is an incredibly valuable skill, I don’t believe it’s up there with reading and writing. We must be a computer literate society, and those of us in the computer and internet space should be able to communicate clearly with programmers and those writing code, we don’t all need to be fluent in HTML. Rushkoff does an admirable job of raising awareness about the importance of programming, yet presents a false choice that makes for an attention-grabbing title yet a slightly extreme thesis.

The bulk of the book is an explanation of Rushkoff’s “Ten Commands for a Digital Age.” Most of the commands are interesting and can in fact serve as, in Rushkoff’s words, a “poetics” of digital media. He writes, “…ten simple commands that can help us forge a path through the digital realm. Each one of the commands are based on one of the tendencies or “biases” of digital media, and suggests how to balance that bias with the needs of real people living and working in both physical and virtual spaces – sometimes at the very same time.” The Ten are as follows: 1. Time: Do not be always on, 2. Place: Live in person, 3. Choice: You may always choose none of the above, 4. Complexity: You are never completely right, 5. Scale: One size does not fit all, 6. Identity: Be yourself, 7. Social: Do not sell your friends, 8. Fact: Tell the truth, 9. Openness: Share, don’t steal, 10: Purpose: Program or be Programmed.

I agree with principles 1, 2, 6, 7, 8 and 9, somewhat agree with principles 3, 4, 5 and disagree with his final and most central point, number 10. Overall, Rushkoff does a fine job of presenting his views and uses history, politics, psychology, sociology, and economics to tell an interesting story about the unfolding of digital technology and how we may best move in this new and evolving space. I’d recommend the read, despite its title and tenth command (which in fact seems to contradict his third principle, discouraging such digital choices). While not terrific, I think it is a good book.

Here is a link to Rushkoff’s site. Be sure to check it out.