This morning I sat down with Chris Kane at KATV to talk about some of the latest digital trends: crowdfunding and short-form video. Watch the discussion here:
KATV – Breaking News, Weather and Razorback Sports
This morning I sat down with Chris Kane at KATV to talk about some of the latest digital trends: crowdfunding and short-form video. Watch the discussion here:
KATV – Breaking News, Weather and Razorback Sports
I am learning to code. I can’t prove it yet, because I am still learning. And part of the reason I am writing this is because by putting it out there I will feel an obligation to continue my education so I can ultimately prove to you all that I am following through with my resolution to learn to code.
I don’t need to learn to code. And it is a skill I’ll likely never use to code a site for a client. I may play around with it on my own sites. But I really want to learn to code so that I can better understand the skills needed to hire for the department I now manage and so that I can better understand the possibilities for digital communications in a world where anything is possible if you now the programming languages, how to manipulate data and are familiar with the platforms and channels that people use regularly. In short, learning to code will make me smarter and help me come up with better, more innovative communications ideas for our clients.
I’ve recently discovered that too many people I know are unfamiliar with TED videos and the knowledge and inspiration they convey to viewers in 18 minutes or less. If you don’t know TED, go there now and start exploring. I promise you will feel at least a little inspired by the people and their presentations that you find there. My feelings won’t be hurt if you leave this blog post now to go there.
TED started out as a conference for sharing ideas around Technology, Entertainment and Design. It has evolved over the years into an online community with videos free to the world to watch as well-renowned leaders in their industries share their knowledge and experiences with the viewers, and still includes conferences around the world. All in short, 18-minute or less videos. We all have time for this at least once a day. And in our high-pressure jobs that require creative thinking on a daily basis, TED videos can provide just the inspiration we need to spark an idea, motivate us to action and generally just make us feel better about the world around us.
As TED has grown, they have embraced local communities that want to hold their own TED conferences. These local TED conferences are not official TED events, but they follow the strict rules of TED that allow them to use the TED name and the videos from these events end up within the TED community. These events are called TEDx.
I had the opportunity this weekend to attend my first TEDx event. It was TEDx Hendrix College. The theme was storytelling and included five speakers with diverse backgrounds and from all over the country. I wasn’t disappointed by my high expectations for TED; I walked away inspired, I learned new things and was moved to become engaged in organizations I might not otherwise have known about. It was a Sunday afternoon well-spent. I hope to see more TEDx events organized in central Arkansas and expand our knowledge and experiences.
Last weekend, I participated in the first Startup Weekend Little Rock, and my first Startup Weekend ever. I joined this event with some trepidation: I am a bit of an introvert and I knew this was going to be a weekend that would require me to meet new people and form instant rapport to be able to work together for 54 hours. I also worried I wouldn’t have much to contribute to a group since I am not a designer or a developer. However, I am intensely curious and am passionate about technology, innovation and learning from people smarter than me. And I do know marketing and communications, can create order from chaos and problem-solve pretty efficiently. So I entered the event on Friday night, still not sure how or if I would participate for the rest of the weekend. I ended up staying all weekend, working on a fantastic project, making new friends, learning a ton and claiming second place with my team for the project we built.
Startup Weekend Little Rock was one of the best experiences I have ever had. I might even go so far as to say it was life-changing. Let me tell you why.
I learned to think differently. So often, we get into our comfort zones and routines. We work with the same people every day. And I work with a lot of talented people every single day and we produce amazingly creative communications for our clients. But because we have our routines and know each others’ strengths and weaknesses, we tend to not push each other as far as we could, or learn new things as often as we could. It happens to the best of us. An event like Startup Weekend removes all of that knowledge and forces its participants to fill gaps by learning on the spot and get even more creative because resources are scarce and time is scarcer. The outcome is not a perfectly polished product or idea. The outcome is a better version of yourself.
I made new friends. Had I not been brave enough to enter the room and participate in this event, I likely would have never crossed paths with 75-percent of the people that were in attendance. And everyone I met this weekend has added value to my life in some way. By learning their personal stories, learning about their skills, learning from their knowledge, being inspired by their passion: everyone had something to contribute and we bonded over the experience. I know for sure that I will stay connected to my new friends.
I stumbled into a really great business idea. And if that business idea becomes a real product, one day I’ll be able to say, “I was there and I got to help!” Our team leader had a great idea. I loved his idea. But he had no team. For a while on Friday night, the team was just the two of us. And we both shrugged and said, “let’s try to do this.” By Saturday afternoon, our team was seven people because the idea really was a great one. It just took longer for others to realize it. I am super proud that Jody had a great idea and we were able to help him take it to the next level. I believe he has the passion and the energy to take it and make it. His energy inspired me and if he needs my help, he has a friend in me that he can call any time. And I’ll be able to say “that’s my friend and I got to help!”
Yes, it is a bold statement, but Startup Weekend LIttle Rock changed my life in a great way.
I am trying to learn how to use my GoPro camera better and how to use Final Cut Pro, so I’ve been doing a little experimenting. A couple of weeks ago, I set up my GoPro on a Gorilla Pod tripod attached to the top corner of the bookshelves in my office and set the time lapse to shoot an image every 60 seconds. I did this for the full five days during the week and no one noticed (or if they did, they didn’t say anything). I only captured three to four hours each days as this is how long the wifi backpack battery lasted. Every time I had to get the camera up or down, I had to crawl on a stool and doing that during the middle of the day usually meant someone would see me and ask what was I was doing. So, I didn’t recharge during the middle of the day to capture the whole day. Therefore, the half-day recordings.
If you are curious as to how I spend my days when I am not traveling, this will be really interesting to you: I sit at my desk working all day. Sometimes people come in and talk to me. Sometimes I leave to talk to other people or go to meetings. You can see me eating my Brown Sugar Cinnamon PopTart and drinking my Red Bull each morning. Like I said, this is a boring video. But I have put too much time into figuring out how to use the technology to not share it.
The idea of tracking how much I move and sleep, keeping up with my heart rate and blood pressure, and being able to share that info if I choose, is appealing to my inner geek. Though I don’t know what I will do with the data, I like collecting it, reviewing it and comparing it day-over-day.
Last year at SXSW, I purchased my first Nike FuelBand. I was excited about this technology because I was already a Nike+ user, so I would be building on that account and activity. Then, several weeks ago I was reading about the Jawbone UP and liked what it had to offer for tracking sleep patterns, too. So I bought one of those to try out. And then, an iPhone app called Moves started getting some attention for tracking your steps while running in the background of your phone. So I turned that on, too. This means that I have had three devices tracking my movements for the last several weeks. I wondered how they would compare to each other.
Both the wristband products are rubber. The Nike FuelBand comes in three colors (Black, White Ice and Black Ice) and the Jawbone UP comes in eight colors (Onyx, Mint Green, Light Grey, Blue, Navy Blue, Red, Orange, and Hunter Green). Both of the bands that I purchased are black.
The Nike FuelBand works “through a sports-tested accelerometer” to track daily activity including running, walking, basketball, dancing and dozens of everyday activities. It tracks each step taken and calorie burned.
The Jawbone UP “uses a precision motion sensor and powerful algorithms to passively track and quantify your steps, distance, calories, active time, and idle time. It calculates calories burned based on your age, gender, height and weight, along with activity intensity and duration. UP uses Actigraphy to track your sleep, monitoring your micro movements to determine whether you are awake, in light sleep, or in deep sleep. [The] band uses cutting-edge MotionX technology to track activity, giving it superior accuracy.”
Moves uses the iPhone’s built in sensor and location information to recognize activities, routes and places. The data is uploaded to their servers, which do most of the complex processing to produce daily stats and storyline. The app is always on, running in the background.
All the devices/apps have different features and sharing abilities. I am not doing a full review of all the functionalities here.
The perfect time to compare the three was during my days at SXSW over the last week: I was walking around a lot and always had my phone with me. Because the common denominator across all three technologies is number of steps, that is the number that I tracked for comparison. Here are the results:
Other than the fact that I am not moving the recommended 10,000 steps per day, or even close to that, it is interesting that there is a pretty significant difference between the step counts of each device. I wanted to like Moves best because it is on my phone and doesn’t hinder my style. But in reality, I don’t have my phone in my pocket every minute of the day and that likely explains it being on the low end of the step numbers each day. As for the difference between the Jawbone UP and the Nike FuelBand, I take the FuelBand off each night to sleep and I keep the UP on since it tracks sleep. This could explain some of the difference in the numbers.
Behind Moves, I wanted to like the FuelBand best because it completes/complements my existing Nike+ profile. But in the end, I like the UP the best because it is (1) a little less obvious than the FuelBand on my wrist and (2) I think the sleep data is the most fascinating.
Regardless of performance, I hate wearing both devices. I much prefer to have more fashionable items around my wrists:
And these rubber bands just aren’t pretty enough for the girl in me. I want someone to design a band that can blend in as part of my jewelry or be wrapped with a customizable cuff or is thinner in some way. Until then, my wearing of the bands might be hit or miss going forward.
The problem with wearable technology, such as the Jawbone UP that I am trying out right now (review and comparison to the Nike Fuelband to come in the future), is that it doesn’t always match my style. These gadgets seem to be designed by and for men. Case in point:
The idea of the Pebble watch was launched on Kickstarter in April 2012 with a goal to reach funding of $100,000. Thirty days later, they had raised over $10 million dollars given by almost 70,000 people. I was one of those people. And my reward for backing the Pebble watch almost a year ago arrived in my mail last Saturday: my very own Pebble watch. It had been so long since I thought about this watch, I’ll admit I was a bit ambivalent about its arrival. But I opened the box and saw how easy it was to set up, so I took five minutes, set it up and almost immediately fell in love with my new watch.
The Pebble is lightweight and comfortable on my small wrist. I am the girl that feels naked without a watch and constantly looks at my wrist for the time, even when I have just noted the time on my phone. I have a classic Timex that I love dearly, but this Pebble feels at home on my wrist. It even told me so:
@reeves501 Your wrist is comfy! I’m gonna like it here.
— Pebble (@Pebble) February 14, 2013
Beyond being a timepiece, out of the box the Pebble syncs with my iPhone through a Bluetooth connection. This connections delivers a vibration to wrist and sends text messages and phone calls to the watch screen. This let’s me know if it is vital for me to pick up my phone, or if it is a communication that can be delayed until I am off the road, out of meeting or done with a particular task. It actually allows for additional focus rather than acting as an added distraction. Additionally, I can control music on my iPhone from the watch, which has been pretty fun to demo to everyone who has asked about the watch over the last week.
Which brings me to its appearance: I thought the watch was subtle and unnoticeable, given its lightweight and comfort on my wrist. But it looks cool and everyone I’ve encountered over the last week has noticed it and asked it about. So be prepared to show it off if you decide to buy one.
The company is working on apps that will work with the watch to increase its features and functionalities. I can’t wait to see what the future holds. I am a geeky girl who loves her gadgets.
Yesterday morning I visited with KATV to talk about predictions for digital communications tools in 2013. Check out the video here:
I tend to work across multiple devices throughout the day–computers, iPad, iPhone–but I use the same applications across all the devices. I try new ones constantly, but here are the ones that are tried and true, that I always return to and typically always have open on my computer or in my browser:
What applications to do you like for getting your work done?
Earlier this week, Starbucks and Square announced a partnership. This was big news for the future of mobile payments. While Square has been around for about two years now, it is mostly used by small independent business owners. Partnering with Starbucks means that the Square mobile payment technology will now be exposed to more people and larger retailers may start using Square based on the learnings from Starbucks. And Starbucks has had mobile payments for a while, but it is linked to a Starbucks account that you have to reload with money to spend, making it a bit limited (though super easy and fun to use; I love it). The partnership signifies a big move towards major businesses adopting mobile payments:
“Though smartphone payments have a long way to go before they replace wallets altogether, Starbucks’s adoption of Square will catapult the start-up’s technology onto street corners nationwide, and is the clearest sign yet that mobile payments could become mainstream.” – New York Times
What is Square and how does it work?
Square is a mobile payment technology with two branches: one for business owners and one for consumers. The business owner can download the Square software to their iPhone or iPad, request a Square device from Square to plug into the top of their iPhone or iPad, then accept payments by swiping cards through the device. Or, if a customer is also using Square for payments, the business owner can see the customer through the Square software and allow the customer to pay just by saying their name. For the consumer, it is just a matter of downloading the Square app and linking a bank account or credit card to the app. It is much like PayPal, except mobile.
Why is a cashless society a big deal?
According to The Atlantic:
“(1) Innovations that save time, even just a little bit of time, are real innovations, because in any advanced economy time and attention are currency and creating more of them can make us all richer; (2) What’s important about Square isn’t just the transactions it makes more efficient but also the cashless world it pulls closer to the present. As Slate investigated in a fabulous series, a cashless society can make us richer, healthier (dollar bills are dirty!), and smarter.”
I am looking forward to more efficiency in payments and not having to carry around anything but my phone.
I did an interview with KATV this morning talking about the Square and Starbucks partnership. I’ll post the video as soon as it becomes available.
GroupMe is a text messaging app that allows you to create groups of people in your contacts and create ongoing conversations via text with the people in those groups. And I love it. It has cut down on the continuous string of emails I get when my friends and I are planning events, nights out, trips or just generally sharing our lives. It has almost become a mini-Facebook where we post pictures, share where we are, “heart” each others’ posts and ask for advice. The messages come through like texts, but are compiled in the app, so if you are out of commission for a few hours, you can easily catch up on the conversation documented in chronological order with an avatar representing each person next to their response. It is a beautiful tool. You can create as many groups as you would like–a project team, a department, family, different groups of friends, a travel group, etc. and keep all the conversations organized, accessible and immediate.
And GroupMe keeps getting better. I’ve noticed that I can integrate GroupMe into Foursquare so when I check in on Foursquare, I can now automatically share my location with a GroupMe group. Then there is an “Discover” feature where the app recommends group types and features brand-sponsored group opportunities. For example, featured groups include: Olympics, The Sea Wheeze (a Lululemon sponsored race, and one of my absolute favorite brands!), Oprah Book Club and Vans Warped Tour, among others. And now, they are introducing “Experiences,” a feature that makes it simple to organize and pay for the experience, alleviating the usual hassles that individuals might encounter when trying to organize a group outing.
“Experiences” isn’t available in all markets yet, but promises to hold even more opportunities for brands. Ideas so far have included:
As a research junkie, I am loving the second idea as a new approach for gaining qualitative insights as opposed to traditional focus group research.
I visited this morning with KATV to talk about location-based apps and the predictability of users travel patterns. Check it out here:
Shazam is so much more than I originally thought that it was, and I like its potential.
I’ve seen the Shazam logo popping up on commercials and television shows the last several month and just couldn’t understand why I would Shazam these things. In commercials, I can never get my phone out and Shazam open quickly enough to capture the sound. In television shows, I just didn’t get it. My use of Shazam has always been for identifying a music selection that I liked and wanted to note and/or buy. This seemed good enough to me and I liked it for just that purpose.
But then I saw this article about Shazam partnering with the Olympics and I got curious. Though they don’t describe it this way in the article, it seems that Shazam can be used for “scanning” to get more information about what you are hearing, like scanning a QR code gives you more information about what you are seeing. This is actually pretty cool:
“Viewers who tag the broadcast from their Shazam app will be able to see additional information on the athletes, engage in polls, view the competition schedule, check the latest results, keep tabs on the medal count and share on social media.”
The tricky part of this for brands and advertisers is going to be consumer education. If consumers are familiar with Shazam at all, they are going to know it only as a music identification app, like I did. But, like any other new tool and technology, once people figure it out and start using it, it has huge potential for communicated extra and bonus information to its users. I like that.
A must-listen podcast from the Princeton University series, What does it mean to be literate in the age of Google? features Daniel Russell, a “search anthropologist” at Google. During his fascinating talk, Russell covers the ins and outs of efficient search, how most people don’t speak the language of search and only use a fraction of search capabilities. It turns out, I was one of those people. I learned new tips listening to his talk and have now added his blog to my Reader feed where he gives a search quiz and lessons. Educational and geeky fun. Check it out.