Monday, June 16, 2008

Twitter as a Life-Saver?

Along with thousands of others, I have recently been playing around with the "microblogging" site, Twitter. The premise is simple--answer the question "What are you doing?" using 140 characters or less and allow those who are interested to follow along with what you have to say. It's sort of like sending out text messages to anyone who cares enough to read it. The thing is, most of us are constantly doing something different, so the answer changes a lot.

Twitter also allows you to follow along as friends, celebrities, experts, and even the Mars rover, continually answer the question, as well. You may choose to follow just a select few, or thousands, it all depends who you think has something interesting to say, and you can choose to receive these updates online or even to your phone.

The obvious first question is, "why would anyone do that?" or "isn't that just more inane chatter to muck up your already overly complicated life?". Both are beyond fair questions and ones that I posed before playing around a little bit so that I might be able to answer them for folks. Personally, I've been using Twitter mostly like its an RSS reader that allows me to listen in to the up-to-the-instant insight from other experts in my field. I've also used it for quick research (by firing out a question to get some quick feedback from those who are following my posts) and to keep MediaSauce colleagues updated about what I'm working on without having to talk to a handful of people individually. As is the case with most Internet phenomenon, there isn't really a clear cut point to Twitter, just different uses for different folks.

Thinking beyond the techie geek side of things, there is also potential for the service to help with news delivery and personal safety. Recently, an American student in Egypt was unjustly arrested, but was able to send out a "tweet" before being put in a cell. The simple text message "Arrested." motivated his followers to begin calling the embassy and helping clear up the situation. He was free in less than 24 hours. Being connected can be a very good thing.

I'm yet to see too many great applications for business, but JetBlue, Comcast and others are already using Twitter for customer service, and at MediaSauce, we use it to send out quick internal announcements. I can also envision it as a great tool to seek out and motivate volunteers or canvassers come election time.

Anyway, you'll be hearing plenty more about Twitter, especially if someone really figures out what they're supposed to be doing with it! Feel free to sign up and follow my every move (at least until I get bored with it).

Google Me: The Movie

At one point or another, you've typed your own name into Google. Curiosity? Maybe. Self-absorbtion? Probably. Research? Doubtful. Unless you're filmmaker Jim Killeen, who used it to find and go meet people all over the world who share his name. Interesting.

Monday, June 9, 2008

iPhone Madness. Again.

Even though its been on the market for a year, I don't think people fully understand the transformational impact of the iPhone as a product and as a platform. Today, as Steve Jobs hops on stage rocking a black mock turtleneck and jeans (just a guess), it will begin to become a lot more clear to a lot more people. Your phone will soon take over most of the functions that you rely upon your laptop for right now (and of course, be capable of many more things that a laptop could never do). That's a big deal.

Expect the announcement of a new version of the iPhone with a significantly lower price point and a slew of AMAZING applications that have already been developed for immediate download that will simply make the digital aspects of your life easier.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Don't Watch This Video--You Might Get Sued (Somehow)!

I'm continually fascinated by the ongoing battles and scuffles amid and around the recording industry and their impossible battle against technological advancements of any sort. The ignorance that is continually shown by certain artists and labels is stunningly cute. Wasting energy stopping music from the digital world is just about as realistic as winning a war on terror or a sack race versus grumpiness.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that copyrights should be infringed upon, but I do believe:
1.) recording labels are an archaic and wholly unnecessary entity in an age when artists can connect to their fans and sell their albums and concert tickets all by themselves and keep exponentially more revenue, control, and integrity.
2.) artists like Metallica and Prince endlessly suing their own fans rather than embracing the new possibilities of a digital age is the same ridiculous mentality as our current Administration who is planning to somehow end terror by tracking down one "evil-doer" at a time.

Thus, I'm enjoying the philosophical rivalry that is currently emerging between Prince, one of the most litigious and anti-Internet artists you'll find (proof, more proof, I'm hardly scratching the surface) and web-lovers Radiohead, whose most recent album, "In Rainbows", was available for download for free/donation for several weeks via their website and whose most recent single, "Nude", was made available for fans to download the individual "stems" or song components (e.g. voice, guitar, strings, drums) and create their own remixes and alternate versions of the song (this effort has since propelled their previously uncharted song to #37 on the Billboard Hot 100).

Clearly, these artists have a disparate viewpoint concerning their relationship with their fans and the online community. However, their paths are now crossed because of Prince's cover of Radiohead's Creep at this year's Coachella Music Festival seen below.

Once videos began to emerge on YouTube, Prince threatened to sue those who had posted the footage. However, since Radiohead owns the publishing rights, they stood up to the threats on behalf of the fans who had posted the material. Radiohead lead singer Thom Yorke to Prince, as quoted by the AP: "Tell him to unblock it. It's our ... song." Right on. Perhaps not all musical "theft" takes place online.