Wednesday, April 30, 2008

A crowd of flashes

PSFK shared this post about a photo of a concert where the crowd are reaching to capture the moment and broadcast it, in their words "for social status", to their networks. The post goes on to say that the act of snapping the shot keeps them from participating in the experience.

I disagree. Long gone are the days when capturing a photo meant hiding behind a camera. Cameras are smaller, quicker, easier, more subtle. Capturing a moment in today's space actually becomes a part of the moment - people pose, gather, smile - all quick and casual and living the moment. Arms length photos bring the photographer into the frame. Camera toss, food photos, foot shots - all represent new, engaging ways of capturing life - easier to capture and easier to share today. You'll see stories about this repeatedly at Kodak's 1000Words blog and on Jenny's ljcfyi blog also.
These photographers are living the moment differently from those just absorbing it, doesn't mean they aren't getting just as much out of it.

Next - why are they broadcasting the images? Gets at the entire root of why people broadcast - why do they blog, microblog, tweet, utterz, etc? Yes, some are sharing to boost their cred, but others could be sharing with friends who couldn't make it. Or to let the world know what music they like or how they spend their time. Limiting to status-seeking is, well, limiting.

Maybe it's me, but seems like a very limited perspective.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

What a little more thought can get you....

I've been a bit frustrated with search for a while, but have largely accepted that I have to deal with what is there. A Google search often takes me through 5 pages of results before I give up with my question only partially answered. I try to be selective and click only the urls that look like they may yield something, but it can be hard to distinguish when it all looks the same.

Someone sat in my office one day and asked "Will people ever get that Google doesn't cut it? Will they ever change their search paradigm?" At the time, I thought perhaps, but really didn't see where the next solution could come from.

Mahalo and Mosio have been on my radar for a while. People-powered search can have intriguing possibilities. Although I think if I turn to a group of people, I want it to be a group of people I know - ie those I follow on Twitter - so that I understand the perspective the answers are coming from. It depends on whether I'm searching for tilapia recipes or for data on the US foodie market and how foodies congregate online.

Now, I've started to play around with Viewzi - a new visual search tool - getting into the beta with a code from Marketing Pilgrim. For intense data searches, it doesn't seem to perform necessarily better than Google, but the real difference is the experience, anyway.

Viewzi has a few advantages that are fast winning me over:
  • The visual workflow is very slick - I like the animation, the way you move through results, and the screenshots and images are very well done.
    • Seeing the pages before you go to them is huge. I know other engines do this, but I haven't played with them. Viewzi also has a summary in the "frame" of the text on the page, that gives you a much better idea of the fit of the link than just trying to judge the URL.
- a Viewzi screenshot via Travis Isaacs' blog
  • I love that other categories of info are automatically included in each search. For example - a search on "tilapia recipe" pulls up standard search results, aggregate results from Google, Yahoo, , and MSN - and also two different types of photo results, video, Amazon, mp3, weather, Reuters, shopping, and TechCrunch.
    • Google has increased the ease of searching images and video, but they're all in separate tabs, so you have to think about it more. With Viewzi, I may find video clips or books related to dinner without thinking of that ahead of time.
    • MP3? Probably not so much. It did pull up some audio, like "Recipe for a happy marriage" from Gary Petty of Good News Radio.
The search for recipes actually got me many more options than I would have considered from a search that returned a text list - and the dish I picked was pretty yummy - bonus!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

How I got here

In college, I ran through 3 market research internships & positions and still felt marketing was used car sales. Until my first quarter at B-school. In an economics class, one article, a single page from a magazine, stood out. It talked about a dress shop in DC that would send husbands notes around their wives' birthdays.
"Cindy's birthday is next week, and we happen to have the perfect dress in her size and colors in stock. Say the word and we'll gift wrap it and deliver it to your door."
...or something like that.

I was floored by the power of knowing exactly what a user needed and being able to communicate and deliver on it. I realized that marketing was where I wanted to be, after all.

Years later, I jumped at the chance to run my company's first online research community. As I started building relationships with our core community contributors, I was building an understanding of how people are communicating in this participatory culture.
My coworkers questioned the motivations behind blogging - was it a fad? are bloggers just sadly unsocial and need lives? - so I started informal research among those in the office who were already in the blog space (including Jenny). Jenny and others encouraged me to start blogging myself.

And I've been jumping in and trying new social media tools since.


Before any of this, my love of languages clarified into a passion for exploring the different ways people/ societies express themselves. As a French major, I was fascinated by a class in Caribbean literature - Chamoiseau's Solibo Magnifique, Maryse Conde. The evolution of Haitian and Martinican creoles - melding languages in order to form one way to best express your experience and that blend becoming as legit as any language itself- some of the earliest mashups! Gullah is another example.

Clay Shirky, of NYU's Interactive Telecommunications program declared the "Creolizaiton of media" in talking about the attitude of Gen Y to sharing online (Say Everything by Emily Nussbaum). I see it more widespread, but love the phrase. So that's what we're talking about here. I'm hoping to get my thinking on modern storytelling and voice out of my head and into a space where it can contribute to the conversation.