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Archive for September, 2009

Do you always buy the latest innovation?

September 29, 2009 Leave a comment

Do you accept all the latest & greatest innovative technology? Do you pay the high prices for the latest phone? Do you really need the fastest laptop? If you do, you may be what is referred to as an ‘innovator’.

As we ‘live the future’ with our advanced technology toys and tools, we are constantly faced with deciding what our threshold is for adopting new innovation. Of course, the theory of adopting new technology is not new. In fact, in 1964, Everett M. Rogers, a sociologist and communications scholar, pioneered this field of study with his famous diffusion of innovations theory.

Rogers details a spectrum of adoption categories from laggards to late majority to early majority, early adopters and the most active of all the innovators. This theory of social tendencies still holds up quite nicely today even though the innovations of today are far more advanced than those available in the mid-sixties.

In addition, and more relevant to today’s lecture by Professor Janna Anderson, I was interested in another aspect of Rogers’ original theory. I refer here to the theme of thresholds of adoption, a topic covered in today’s lecture.

Rogers addresses the following values as to whether an innovation will be adopted or rejected:

  • The relative advantage – ie., how much improved over the previous generation?
  • Compatibility is the second characteristic, the level of compatibility that an innovation has to be assimilated into an individual’s life.
  • The Complexity of an innovation is a significant factor in whether it is adopted by an individual. If the innovation is too difficult to use an individual will not likely adopt it.
  • Trial-ability -determines how easily an innovation may be experimented with as it is being adopted. If a user has a hard time using and trying an innovation this individual will be less likely to adopt it.
  • Observability is the extent that an innovation is visible to others. An innovation that is more visible will drive communication among the individual’s peers and personal networks and will in turn create more positive or negative reactions.

These values still work today and are a good way to judge and predict the acceptance of innovations.

Can this ‘test’ also apply to innovative advertisements? What about innovative marketing campaigns?

I think so.

Categories: COM540

Wanna job in i-Media? Meet your new boss!

September 27, 2009 1 comment

Meet Jeff Benjamin (above); he hires i-Media ‘digital talent’. He’s the Interactive Executive Creative Director at Crispin Porter + Bogusky. CP+B has an impressive list of clients, companies like Burger King, Microsoft, Dominoes, Old Navy, etc.

Note that Jeff talks about how his favorite interview question is “What have you invented lately? This may very well be the kind of person who will be your new boss. How would you do in one of his interviews?

Note also that Jeff’s boss is Alex Bogusky (the ‘B’ of CP +B). Alex was selected as Fast Company Magazine’s #1 pick of the 10 Most Creative People in Marketing and Advertising! Why? He’s the creative behind some famous campaigns that resemble multi-media hijinks, rather than commercials. Nice!

If you’re going into the Ad biz, check out Bogusky’s blog baked-in, it’s an insightful read on the new media in advertising. In fact, he has just released a new book under the same title that has this endorsement from the Long Tail‘s Chris Anderson:

“If you want to understand the future of marketing, advertising and product design, start here. Baked In provides essential insights from two of the hottest minds in marketing today.”

Categories: COM540

OneWebDay Internet Facts in a flash

September 24, 2009 Leave a comment

Nice video wrapping up all the things the Internet can do!  One Web Day has a lot to celebrate about!

Categories: COM530

The ‘Me’ Model – ready for its close-up.

September 24, 2009 Leave a comment

Our very own Linda Misiura has taken the time to beautify our Me-dia Interactive Communications model. Thank you, Linda!

memodel

Categories: COM530

It’s all about Me…don’t you know?

September 24, 2009 Leave a comment

Today, let’s talk about those guys who build complex diagrams to explain things. (They seem to always be guys, don’t they?)

You know what I mean. They’re well-intentioned and usually have arrows and boxes and somebody has spent a long time on them and really, really thought about them. But, it seems the more they think about them and tweak them and get them all ready to show they’re way too complicated to communicate the message on their own.

By the time these guys are done with their model-diagram, they need to write an operating manual to navigate the thing. It kind of makes you wonder what the point was in making the model to begin with? Why don’t they just write a research paper and be done with it?

For example, there’s the famous food pyramid. Well, it used to be famous. But now they aren’t satisfied with it so we have all these new pyramids being drawn up. It’s kind of a food fight.

If you google ‘food pyramid’, look out, you’re going to see a whole smorgasbord of models trying to explain what we should eat. I was just getting to understand the old one and now they’re off changing it again. I guess the old one didn’t account for tacos or smoothies. Smoothies are real popular now, you know.

Today we were assigned the project of coming up with a new model for interactive communication. You see, kind of like smoothies that weren’t even invented until recently, these days the communications business is all a twitter about interactivity.

In other words, we want you to answer your e-mails.

Go ahead, interact a little bit. The Internet makes it virtually free.

Anyway, our class broke up into teams and our team decided that we don’t like diagrams that are models of the communication process. To be kind and because of all the work those fellows put into them, let’s just say we don’t understand those diagrams. More to the point, we couldn’t find ourselves in any of those models. At least when you look at the old food pyramid, they had pictures of food like bananas that you could recognize.

Oh sure, these communication models had “sender” and “receiver” and so forth but we didn’t like being put in a box that was on one side of the diagram and then imagining that you had to jump out of that box into another one. (We assumed that’s what you have to do as there was no operating manual with the diagram provided to us.)

So, we decided to devise a diagram that wasn’t a box. Our diagram didn’t have anything to do with other people out there trying to jump from “sender” boxes into “receiver” boxes. We drew a circle and called it the “me” model of communication.

In other words, let’s just worry about “me” and how “I” interact with the world. Then, anyone can act like they are a “me” and they are welcome to use our model. Our professor kind of liked the “me” model because I think it was easy for her to imagine herself in our circle going out answering e-mails, listening, chatting, responding and so forth. Well, that was swell. We could see right away that our model was easy to use.

Right at the end of class though, kind of to challenge us, our professor said, “wait a minute, this model only accounts for people. There’s other kinds of communicators.” But, our group was fast on our feet and defended the “me” model pronto by responding, “if a chair squeaks it’s communicating something, right? Well, a chair is allowed to be a ‘me’, also!” Silence. Confirmation. Approval.

Someday, we’ll make a real colorful and professional looking ‘me’ model and post it. Trust ‘me’.

Categories: COM540 Tags: ,

A Groundswell for a Commoner

September 21, 2009 Leave a comment

Let’s become millionaires. Here’s how.

Just make YouTube tutorials from your bedroom on how to apply makeup. What? It’s already happened and it’s the story of a British commoner by the name of Lauren Luke.

Lauren dropped out of school at 15 to have her son, Jordan. But, that was really ok because she was constantly tormented in school for being as she relates, ‘fat and ugly’. She came from a lower, middle class family in South Shields, an area that had the highest unemployment rate in mainland Britain. Think she’s got a chance in life? Let’s see.

After a series of dead-end jobs, Lauren tried selling name-brand cosmetics on e-Bay. And then on a Sunday in July 2007 Lauren’s life was caught up in a groundswell.

At the request of some of her customers, she turned on a web camcorder and demonstrated how to apply make-up. Lauren had a passion for make-up and taught herself how to apply it with all kinds of different effects matching the looks of the rich and famous.

She signed on to YouTube and discovered that lots of other commoners just like her wanted to learn, too. That’s how you form a tribe, with empathy and passion. Here’s a comment from a viewer after watching one of Lauren’s instructional videos:

“makes me cry, i’ve always felt intimidated which is probably why i love watching you because God made you so wonderful to help us that gave up becuz we were intimidated but then we found you”

To-date, Luke’s videos have attracted more than 40 million views and more than 230,000 subscribers to her channel. She is the most subscribed YouTube user in the UK. Why? Because her passion is contagious and because the internet is free and ubiquitous and well…it’s even good enough for us commoners.

So, wait. How do you get the million dollars?

Lauren’s way was to launch her line of cosmetics online and sign a contract with Sephora. Lauren’s still doing those videos and, for now, still living in South Shields. She’s 28 and happy to have a passion for something. It’s a passion and a groundswell that could give anyone a million reasons to smile. ;)

Got yours yet?

Categories: COM540

Data Visualization – Give this one a “10”

September 19, 2009 Leave a comment

If you’ve never seen this video, check it out. It had to have won some kind of award because of all the obvious work and editing it required. It was directed by a French motion graphics studio called “H5″. It shows a day in the life of a woman working in London and the day’s story is all told through info-graphics. The piece is a couple of years old now but it’s really timeless and so well done.

More and more we are seeing ‘cool media’, data visualizations that are interactive but I still think there is a place for the single message and story that a ‘film’ or slideshow version can provide. If we are going to be media producers, it would be nice to learn how to create data visualizations. This ability could become an important tool for companies either as a presentation tool for clients or a data visualization tool for internal analysis of sales or operations.

I don’t think we are quite there yet but I can envision a time when the old bar chart from a spreadsheet is replaced with interactive visualizations and the software to go with them. You plug in the data and bam! you get this fantastic, interactive data viz chart.

I just did some searching and playing with some beta versions of open source viz software and ugh!… full of bugs and crashes. We definitely aren’t there yet but I believe it’s right around the corner. Get ready to wow your new boss as the data viz-kid!


Categories: COM530

A hybrid approach that suits the content

September 17, 2009 Leave a comment

The Water Dance story by the New York Times is presented in the format of a sound slideshow and is a good example of hybrid media. The story content or message delivered in this short piece is exactly the same as any humorous slice of life piece that has come before it. Selecting a facet of big city life and revealing the funny side of how city dwellers deal with their surroundings is a very traditional example of news media content. This same story could have easily been told and probably has been told over 200 years ago. However, the method of delivery is very modern and slightly more interactive.

The topic in this human-interest piece is the humorous approaches pedestrians take to navigate sidewalks and curbs by avoiding the slush and icy puddles of a typical winter day after a heavy snowfall. The narrator and photographer of the piece, Bill Cunningham, tells the story by using the metaphor of a competitive game he calls the ‘jumping competition.’ Again, this very same approach of metaphorical story telling is a traditional part of news media and not dependent on any modern digital tool or technology. The fun, human interest in this piece is derived from the comparisons of how different people approach the challenge of hopping over deep puddles of slush and snow. Tourists are funny because they typically do not come prepared and misjudge the depth of the puddles; men are funny because invariably they never wear boots like their more fashionable and prepared female, office-worker counterparts. In the end, this jumping competition is a humorous ballet of leaps and misses that provide the content for an entertaining news piece and a traditional, ageless story.

The Water Dance story is delivered as a sound slideshow. The sound is simply a narration by Bill Cunningham, the photographer of the piece. There is no music or sound effects. The content of the dialogue is not dissimilar from a written piece and, in fact, could have been read but was delivered in a conversational manner. The show has 29 different photographs of city people jumping over icy puddles of slush. My experience of the piece was positive because the narrator tells the story in an empathic and friendly manner making it personable and enjoyable. I was able to share an emotional involvement with the story because of the personality and manner of narration.

In Marshall McLuhan’s terms, this piece takes the content of what would have been a permanent ink-on-paper ‘hot’ media story and tells the story using ‘cool’ media tools of sound and moving pictures with start and stop buttons and a slider tool for scanning the show forward and backward. This all-at-once, simultaneous display of sound and moving pictures can be engaging even if it has limits of interactivity. It is difficult to tell whether this piece could have been improved with music or sound effects but I believe this would have confused the journalistic, single person narrative. The attempt here was clear and in Laswell’s terms of who says what, in which channel, to whom and with what effect, is easy to map. The narrator, as the ‘who’, re-tells his experience by using photo examples of the variety of ways city people avoid wet and slushy curbs. He is talking to us about our own idiosyncratic patterns of behavior; we are laughing at ourselves. That is the effect he was hoping to achieve and his narration is critical to the effect. Not only are the 29 pictures more than could have been used in a print news story, the photos on their own are not humorous and are totally dependent on the narrator’s re-telling of his experience in taking the pictures. We are listening to someone else’s story of interactivity and identifying with the circumstances.

Of course, slideshows with narration have been with us now for as long as the public could afford projectors. This slideshow is really not that different. In fact, there are no zooms and very little attention to cross fades. So, by comparison to other new media, it is low on the scale of interactivity and special effects. However, it still has the power to captivate, entertain and instruct.

The ability to package a sound and slide show in such a user-friendly and easily distributed format means that it could be used in a number of different industries. For instance, it could be created to narrate and illustrate how to assemble complicated knockdown products. It could be programmed to run with different languages so the user simply selects the appropriate language before starting the show. Since it has a pause button and since the slider shows each image in the frame, one could back up or stop the show while completing the assembly before continuing. In addition, this format would be good for the performance reading and imagery of short stories, poems, fables and cartoons. Music and special effects could be added to enhance the experience.

There are many levels of interactivity that are possible with new media. All interactivity is a feature that adds to our control of the experience. Even this hybrid example of a sound slide show, while at the low end of interactive possibilities still offers pausing, moving forward, and play again features that do not distract from the intended message. We should tailor our tools to maximize communication of the message and this slideshow is a good example of measured interactivity and hybrid media at work.

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Interactivity and Audience- Power to the people!

September 14, 2009 1 comment

Wordle: Interactivity

Wordle: Audience

What is the best definition for “Interactivity“? Graduate students studying interactive media at Elon University took on the challenge today as a class project. Let’s look at the results.

I thought a Wordle of the words used for their definitions would be a good way to analyze their input. Click on the ‘Interactivity’ Wordle above and have a look at the intensity of words taken from 6 different definitions written collaboratively by 37 students.

Of course ‘interactivity’ has the most dominance because it appeared (intentionally) six times, one for each definition. Take a look at the rank of the second largest word in the wordle, meaning it consistently appeared in the students’ definitions: CONTROL!

Is this the word you thought would be the most dominant in helping to describe interactivity? I’m betting, like me, that you were thinking more along the lines of ‘two-way’ or ‘feedback’ or ‘communication’ all of which appear and are moderately important but still subservient to ‘control‘. Are we as co-responding, senders and receivers becoming more interactive in our social media, in our blogs and on our web because we like the control? Or is the new media, by its nature, allowing more control?

“We shape our tools and then our tools shape us.” Marshall McLuhan.

It seems like ‘control’ can be a good thing and not so good depending on the intention. Is it time to re-define ‘interactivity’ or is it re-defining itself without us?

The AUDIENCE wordle is the results of the same group of students who were asked to provide a better, more modern term for the word ‘audience.’ It looks like ‘participants‘ is the clear winner here. Note that ‘users‘ and ‘contributors‘ get honorable mention. Would these be the most frequently suggested words just a few years ago before we were so futuristically wired, before we had tools for more control–excuse me, I mean more interactivity? I don’t think so.

Categories: COM530

Is the future of stuff enough?

September 12, 2009 3 comments

Despite the fragile economy of these latter days of the 21st century’s first decade, we are being bombarded daily with the ‘widgetry’ of new things to come, the new magic of digital stuff.

  • Our phones of the future will wrap around our wrist and turn into matching color jewelry. Oh my!
  • Our paper magazine or book will have videos on the printed surface. Why? Never mind. Enjoy the experience.
  • We will be able to walk up to a touch-sensitive wall and move digital stuff and maps and clocks and flat fake furniture that is only a picture of furniture that you can’t sit on. This is going to be better. Trust me.

WAIT a minute, please. Is all of this possible? Yes, says Nokia, Apple, Motorola, Intel and especially Bill Gates and please don’t argue with Bill.

And probable? Is all this gigatry probable? Well? Most folks are on the side of maybe on that issue. It will have to be run through cost analysis studies. It will have to go through expensive testing. And wait until you see how a company called Musion rigged up their 3D holograph with Cisco’s TelePresence [their word]. Now this one is a real beauty. These folks put a 3-D life-size presence of a man right on stage. He appeared to be standing right across from a real man. But the fake guy’s real body was 5,000 miles away. I started getting confused about which was the real man. But I get the feeling we are going to have to wait a while on this one. It seems the outrageous cost of this can only come down with volume. So, some day apparently a lot of people are going to want to do this. Hmm? I’ve decided I don’t want to.

On this day of future thingking I was on the side of Walt Whitman who wrote:I think I could turn and live with animals, they’re so placid and self contain’d,…not one is demented with the mania of owning things.”

Thingking? No, not misspelled. It’s when your thingking is mostly about things, about a homage to stuff.

Today I was hearing about the possible while debating the probable but more interested in the preferable. And I’m one of the lucky ones. I am writing this from the future. How? As the author William Gibson said, “The future is already here; it’s just unevenly distributed.”

Unlike the many billions of humans on this planet who need a real future planned for them, too, I get to have an office and a life filled with all kinds of digital wizardry. Really nice stuff that should make us all happy enough. Who’s working on stuff for the billions of folks who aren’t even close to being happy enough? Who is deciding what is preferable?

The future technologies to become truly probable are dependent on real need. The old business directive and mission of finding a need and filling it is the economic backbone of any successful new media. We ‘speak’ our needs with our purchases and that’s what dictates future technologies. You don’t have to vote yes for that 3-D fake guy on stage either. Maybe he ought to be sent to a room to play with that wall with the flat fake furniture and flat fake balls that bounce but don’t really look like as much fun as a real ball.

Excuse me, I’ve got some Whitman to read.

Categories: COM530
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