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cesThis past week, thousands of tech geeks, journalists, booth babes, (and Top Chef Contestants?!) descended on Las Vegas for the annual Consumer Electronics Show, where companies show you mouth-watering products you’ll never be able to afford.

There were many big announcements, but in my opinion, Motorola and Verizon stole the show with a much anticipated iPad competitor, the Motorola Xoom, and a fleet of 4G LTE enabled smartphones and tablets. 4G LTE is the 4th generation of wireless standards (an upgrade to 3G), offering extremely fast download speeds on your mobile devices.

motorola xoom

Photo credit: Josh P. Miller/CNET

Motorola Xoom

The Motorola Xoom, winner of CNET’s Best of Show Award, is definitely drool worthy. The Xoom has a 10.1 inch screen, an Nvidia Tegra 2 dual core processor, rear and front facing cameras, 32gb built-in memory, flash support, and Android’s brand new Honeycomb interface, built specifically for tablets. Whatever you do with it, it’s going be pretty awesome. Play the latest Android games, update your Facebook, use the latest O2uk Mobile Broadband or watch Youtube videos. Basically whatever you do will seem bigger and better than ever. If you can afford to splurge on a hot new hi-tech gadget this year, this one is my recommendation. Compared to iPad’s 9.7 inch screen, A4 processor, no cameras, no flash, and iOS, this tablet is arguably better across the board. Oh, and it looks shiny too.

vizio, xvt3d6sp

Credit: Vizio

Vizio XVT3D6SP

The new Vizio line of TVs are not only beautiful (full-array LED backlight, 480hz refresh rate, etc.), they come with a host of Internet Apps (VIA). One of these apps, OnLive, is a cloud-gaming service that offers a bunch of cool features. My favorite is called “Versus”, which uses the 3D capability of the television to allow two separate gamers to use the entire screen without need a “split-screen mode”.

Each player wears the 3D glasses, which send a different image to the right and left eye, so that each player will simultaneously see a 2D image of their screen on the television. Halo party, my house?

Lady Gaga, Polaroid, Sunglasses

Credit: Gizmodo

Lady Gaga’s Polaroid Sunglasses

Last year I predicted that 3D glasses would be the new hipster trend, but I think I have a new favorite pair of sunglasses.  Lady Gaga paired up with Polaroid to introduce a pair of terminator-inspired specs that take pictures.

Ridiculous?  Maybe.  Expensive?  I’m sure.  Awesome?  ABSOLUTELY.

Panasonic 3D videocameras

Last year at CES, 3D was a big deal. However this holiday season, 3D TV sales suffered because of the lack of specialized content. Maybe this will help that. Now for the low cost of $1400 Panasonic released the first 3D videocamera last year for the low low cost of $21000, then a consumer friendly model last October for $1400, and now have upgraded their line.

I can hear it ten years from now at preppy private schools, “Oh… your home videos aren’t in 3D? I don’t know if we can be friends…”

motorola atrix

Credit: Josh Miller/CNET

Motorola Atrix 4G

Manufacturers have finally figured out a way to use the insane amounts of processing power they are putting into smartphones these days. Let you use it like a computer! The Motorola Atrix 4G comes with a laptop dock. This dock, once you plug in your phone, brings whatever you are doing on your phone into a larger screen, allowing you to surf the web, watch videos, write emails with the comfort of a full-sized laptop. Nifty eh?

iosafe portable rugged

Credit: Dong Ngo/CNET

iOSafe rugged portable

Tired of your external hard drive crashing and losing all your illegally downloaded movies? Well IoSafe is here to save you! In a video demonstration at CES, they showed how their external harddrive can withstand 10 rounds from a SHOTGUN. Since I often accidentally fire my shotgun at my hard drive, I’ll totally be buying this baby.

Verizon Home Security and Control System

Credit: Tim Hornyak/CNET

Verizon Home Monitoring and Control System

Verizon’s new system combines security, power usage, and appliance usage all into one manageable system. It allows you to check in either on your computer, smartphone, tablet, or FIOS-enabled TV to see how much power you are using and which appliances are turned on. Went on vacation and forgot to turn the porch light on? Just log online and switch the light off. Headed home after a long day of work and want to hop right into a warm bed? Just log onto through your smartphone and switch on your electric blanket. The possibilities are endless. Unfortunately, this system is only available right now in New Jersey. Verizon is missing a big opportunity if they don’t get the Jersey Shore to endorse this…

And there you have it! My favorite tech picks from CES 2011. What caught your attention?

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January 10, 2011 | Filed Under Post, Uncategorized | 2 Comments 

You may have noticed that I have not written here for the past few months.  I want to tell you about what I’ve been doing!  This semester I am completing a research project on how social and new media technologies are affecting choreography in the dance world.

devon choreographsI have been working the past two months with a group of six dancers to create a 10 minute performance/installation which explores Facebook as a virtual space and method of communication.  The piece incorporated projections, live interactions with social networks, and a choreographed flash mob that was organized through Facebook and Youtube.  I’ll put some clips from the performance up soon!

Being a dance major with six months left before I enter the real world of graduated folks, I am constantly asked “So are you going to dance professionally next year?”  When I say that no, in fact I’m planning on working in social media strategy, I generally receive a look that can be characterized by a mixture of surprise, interest, and pity.   “But how?” they exclaim!  I could go on for hours on how dancing has prepared me extremely well to do almost anything (maybe not molecular biology), but instead, I’ll leave you with five things I learned in the past few months from choreographing a 10-minute dance.

1. How to organize a flash mob

We’ve all seen the viral videos of choreographed flash mobs on Youtube (Central Station Antwerp, Liverpool, Samsung).  When I saw these, my initial reaction was “THAT IS SO COOL.”

After I calmed down a bit, I started to think about how the choreographers could have possibly organized their mobs.  Most of these types of flash mobs are backed by large marketing firms with big budgets for some kind of a commercial.  However, with the power of social media, anyone with a video camera and a social network can organize a flash mob.  In just 4 days, I got 30-40 people to be part of my dance and learn two minutes of simple choreography.

2. How to effectively market a performance using social media

I’ve written about 5 Ways Facebook Can Help Promote Your Event, and this performance let me put those methods into practice.  With three nights of performances, over 330 people viewed the dance piece.  By collaborating with other dancers in the flash mob, I was able to harness the power of their networks as well as my own.

Webs We Weave

3. How to manage a group of performers and collaborators to create a final product

Part of social media strategy is creating interactive campaigns in order to reach a specific goal.  In a sense, that is exactly what I have been doing these past few months.  I worked with a team of six dancers and two visual collaborators to deliver a message to hundreds of viewers.  We thought about what was relevant to our audience, put together a final product (or dance) that addressed those ideas, and delivered it to them.

4. How social media can be used to enhance messages

Social media is that thing right now that everyone uses but most people don’t really think about.  We take it for granted that we can effectively stalk people we haven’t spoken to in four years or chat with someone online while sitting three feet away from them in real life.  Making something viral is about capitalizing on something that no one has noticed or paid much attention to yet everyone knows is true.

To do this, I had discussions with my dancers about some of the things we all do on Facebook that are actually pretty bizarre (unfriending someone?).  We then incorporated those things with both live movement and visual projection into the dance.

5. How individuals use Facebook

In order to prepare for this dance, we researched how individuals use Facebook and how Facebook profiles grow.  I had each of my dancers start from scratch, create a brand new profile, and spend ten minutes a day on it.  We collected information on how they were using the site, who they were interacting with, and what kinds of observations they made.  This rich source of information helped us shape the dance so that it was both accessible and engaging to a wide range of audience members.  I think the best compliment I received was from one of my professors who only said, “I’m totally going to friend you when I get home.”  Awesome.

The message I’m trying to send is to be creative when it comes to your learning.  There is no one way to go about your education so be sure to look for opportunities in places you wouldn’t expect.  For me, that place was choreographing a dance piece.

Photo credit: All photos by Teague Hopkins.

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November 9, 2010 | Filed Under Post, Uncategorized | 3 Comments 

ricky martin

Picture by Cool Pixels on Flickr

In case you’ve been hiding under a rock and haven’t heard yet, Latino pop star Ricky Martin came out last week, making headlines on almost all major news sources.  With pop songs like “Shake Your Bon-Bon,” “Livin’ La Vida Loca,” and “She Bangs,” who would’ve guessed!

What interested me about the announcement was not necessarily the content, but how Martin chose to deliver the message.  Instead of grabbing a cover story from a magazine like so many celebrities have done (Clay Aiken, Adam Lambert, Neil Patrick Harris, Ellen DeGeneres, Lance Bass, and Sean Hayes all come to mind), Martin released a short but eloquent statement on his personal blog. This is what artists can learn from Martin’s announcement:

1. Be transparent while being conscious of what you are saying.

We hear the word “transparent” all the time in social media.  Transparency basically means being personable. Twitter, Facebook, and blogging all give your fans a means by which to learn about you personally.  If done right, this transparency leads to a stronger connection and ultimately a stronger fan base.

Infinite flickr

Photo by Beachy on Flickr

However, if done wrong (think Tiger Woods), this transparency can alienate your fans.  The trick is finding a balance that works for you. Some people like to discuss the intimate details of their personal lives (example: Penelope Trunk), while others prefer to leave those details out.  Write what you are comfortable writing and be aware of how your audience reacts.

2. Control social media, don’t let it control you.

Social media is a tool for you to use.  It is a resource for you to make connections and disseminate content.  By using his own blog to post his announcement as opposed to a public magazine, Martin was able to control the content of his message and how his fans would view it.

3. Engage your audience by adding your own personal twist.


I’ve talked about how to build your personal brand by telling your story.  This is exactly what Ricky Martin did.  By writing his statement in a narrative fashion that showed his personality, we feel more connected to him as an individual and an artist.  Infuse your work with little bits of you and your history.  No one lived your life but you, so promote yourself by highlighting those distinguishing qualities.

4. Doing something buzz-worthy before you are about to release a product is a good idea.

I have no doubt that Martin’s announcement coinciding with the release of his personal memoir wasn’t a coincidence.  While you might not have a personal publicist to plan these maneuvers for you, if it is possible, try to plan big announcements and appearances around releases of your products.

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April 6, 2010 | Filed Under Post, Uncategorized | 1 Comment 

10 Predictions for 2010

January 7th, 2010

introspection

Happy New Year by coquetboy on Flickr

Happy 2010! After four months abroad in Spain, I am back in the United States, settling back into Chipotle burritos, big SUVs, free tap water at restaurants, and going to bed at midnight instead of 6am. And it’s great. Although it’s not great that I haven’t written since December, but it’s a new year! So here are 10 new thoughts on the emerging trends of 2010.

1. Twitter will remain unpopular among college age students.

2009 has been the year of twitter. Twitter traffic grew more than 1300% from Feb ‘08 to ‘09. However, one demographic remains dubious towards adopting another social media platform: college-age students.

Twitter should be used for developing professional networks and college age students are (usually) not thinking about their professional networks or careers (past their GPAs). For personal networks, twitter does not do anything that facebook doesn’t also offer. Which leads me to my next prediction…

2. Twitter will be bought.


My brother will argue with me on this one, but I think that Twitter has to monetize next year or they will be bought by Facebook. And if they haven’t made profits yet, I don’t see them doing so in 2010.

3. LinkedIn profile expansion among college-age students.

More students will create LinkedIn profiles. However, they will miss the point completely, using it as an electronic copy of their resume rather than a networking tool because (see #1, they don’t think about their professional networks until after college).

4. People will actually start to care about Facebook privacy.

You’ve heard of the horror stories of students getting fired from their jobs for saying bad things about their bosses on Facebook.

facebook fail
In 2010, students will be more aware of their online reputation, increase their privacy settings across the board and cut back on the incriminating keg-stand photos.

kindle5. Explosion in sales of E-Book Readers and 3D TVs.

Anyone seen Avatar? Heard of the Kindle? This one is kind of a given, with all the predicted CES hype around 3D TVs and E-book readers , you will be sure to see them crowding the shelves by Spring.

6. More cross-over between social media platforms.

LinkedIn paired up with Twitter to offer cross-platform status updates. Maybe this is more of a desire than a prediction, but I want a multi-platform supported service that allows me to manage all of my social media identities from one single place. So, I predict it will happen.

7. Pressure from baby boomers to improve Facebook usability.

The Facebook interface and user experience is sloppy. The site is difficult to navigate, privacy settings are confusing, and finding the features you want to use involves wading through pages of poorly designed interfaces (just ask my mom). The baby boomers are the largest growing demographic on Facebook. I’ve personally had to set up over ten accounts for family members who couldn’t figure it out. If Facebook wants to retain the baby boomer demographic, they’ll have to figure out a way to maintain the functionality they have while improving the user experience.

8. Google Wave will be an epic fail.

After playing with Google Wave for 3 months, I still don’t understand its purpose. I rarely check it and I don’t see many people adopting it into their internet toolbox in 2010.

9. Backlash towards telegraphic communication.

In my experience, Twitter’s 140 character limit is not a positive. It hinders any real communication or connection and what you get is millions of users sharing a lot of links and talking mundanely about their personal lives.

10. Service that combines recommendations with personal networks.

I predict that some large retailer or rental company (maybe Netflix) will adopt users’ social media profiles into their algorithms for making suggestions. This would work great on an E-Book reader: “Looking for a new book to read? Your X friends that you have interacted with the most on ______ (insert social media platform) liked: ______”.

And there you have my predictions for 2010! Do you agree? Disagree? Have predictions of your own? Leave a comment and let me know.

Disclaimer: I am not responsible for any money lost due to gambling these claims. Unless you win.

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January 7, 2010 | Filed Under Post, Uncategorized | 4 Comments 

Facebook for the Over 40: Part 2

September 10th, 2009

laptop grandfather

Credit: The Life of Bryan on Flickr

In my last post on Facebook for the Over 40, I showed you how to change your privacy settings to keep your profile safe. Now that you are protected, let’s talk about interacting with friends and family. Here are a few tips for getting the most out of your connections.

Part 2: Interacting with Friends and Family

1. Don’t be offended when your family members don’t friend you back.

Either you have already experienced this or you will. You friend your favorite nephew and, oh no!, they don’t accept your friend request. Do not take this personally. They probably have not cleaned up their online reputation yet.

Many facebook users, especially younger users, have their entire lives on facebook (they shouldn’t). Instead of feeling rejected, why don’t you point your family member to “How to Create an Exclusive Friends List”. That way, they can friend you and keep their profile private.

2. When responding to a wall post, respond on the other person’s wall.

So, someone wrote on your wall! Great! Now, how do you respond?  Maybe this tip seems obvious to you, but I’ve seen a surprising number of people respond to a wall post by writing on their own wall. This is like receiving a letter and addressing your responding letter to yourself. They will be looking on their wall for a response, not on yours.

seewalltowall

When you receive a wall post, click “See Wall to Wall” in the bottom right corner of the box. This shows you the conversation between you and your friend. Now you can type in the response box and the comment will go directly to their wall.

3. Control your feed so you can hear from people you actually care about.

Most people don’t know that the main feed on the facebook homepage is fully customizable. Unless you really want to see everything your 40 random high school friends from 1970 are doing, let me show you how to customize your feed to show you the activity of the friends you really what to hear from.

  1. Create an exclusive friends list with the people who’s activity you want to see.
  2. Go to your Facebook Homepage and click “More” under the left column.
  3. Drag the exclusive list that you just created to the top of the column.

Now, when you login, your feed will be populated with activity from the people in your exclusive friends list, saving you time sifting through random updates from people you don’t really care about.

friendsuggestionsQuick Tip: Look at Friend Suggestions to find people you might want to connect with. Facebook suggests friends you might know on the right side of your homepage. Click “See All” to find people who share the same friends as you.

4. Create a facebook group for your family.

Facebook groups, while often used to idolize Britney Spears, are also a great tool for families looking for a communal space online. Create a group for your family and start sharing pictures, videos, links, stories, or anything else your family would find interesting.

These tips will help you be more efficient in your Facebook usage. Three weeks ago, I left the United States to study abroad in Spain for the semester. It has been an extremely exhausting and wonderful experience thus far. One of the things that has helped me adjust is the ability to keep in contact with people from home through social media and online services like Skype. The possibilities for increased connectivity are endless, so I urge you to explore, connect, and let me know how it goes!
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September 10, 2009 | Filed Under Post, Uncategorized | Leave a Comment