Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Who Funds the Internet?

While on the Internet the other day I realized that I don’t pay for any of the services I enjoy. I don’t pay for YouTube, Hulu, Facebook, Twitter, Blogger, and the list goes on.

Traditionally if you want a product you pay for it. If you want to go to the movie theater you buy a ticket. The same goes for food and every physical object.

On the Internet the people using the products are not the ones paying for them. Sadly advertizing covers most of the tab. They receive our attention, however brief, in exchange for money. Some sites and niche programmers operate on donations (Wikipedia)

Nothing is free.

Not even on the Internet. The information is free in terms of dollars but not in terms of information. Many sites need you to create an account to access the full range of their product. An account provides them a way to always communicate with you (by email) and to keep you hooked on their service.

Keeping you hooked lets them charge advertisers money for you attention.

A similar thing happened with cell phones. A company would cover the cost of the phone if you agree to a contract. The Internet is free but often access is not free.

It’s a great concept because the consumer doesn’t have to pay. How to bring it out of the Internet and into the “real” world?

Like above pay for the service and not the product. That way the consumer still needs you. Consumers traditionally want something that will forever but that is a poor business model for any company. Everlasting Gobstoppers (in the movie)? What happens when everyone has bought one?

So by giving away the physical product and charging for the information the company can make money by giving the customer something always new.

This will not work for every product. Specifically objects that don’t provide information.

As learned from my entrepreneur class owning information is great because other people cannot copy your hardware & software and take your business.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Pop Up Decline

I’ve written about pop up ads before but I’ve gotten better. Better at ignoring them.

As you know (and cannot help knowing) pop up ads are the new Ray Bans, everyone has to have them. Most news sites have them, youtube has the ads at the bottom of videos, some video streaming sites have pop ups, the dictionaries, and music sites all have pop up ads.

However I have developed awesome-window-closing-speed-clicking techniques!

If you watch close the pop up will appear in front of the open window before retreating behind the veil of safety provided by the other open windows.

This is where I strike. Using all my peripheral vision skills gained from countless hours playing first person shooter, I search and destroy the weak spot in the ad’s armor, the red X in the corner.

The point is I don’t even look at ads anymore. I couldn’t tell you what they were advertizing. So does the ad help anyone?

Companies are not getting their product advertized because I’m not looking at the ads and I’m mad because I have to deal with pop ups.

Video games have changed the advertizing game. Our generation is different from the one that came before us. Pop ups may work on past generations but advertizing companies need to adapt.

I don’t really know what will work. But it needs to be smart and not annoying.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Snape Kills, What?

Spoiler Alert? Have you not seen or read Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince? Then avert your eyes!

When Dumbledore dies in the Half Blood Prince he doesn’t really die. I mean yeah they bury him but then they hang a picture of him in his old study.

As you know pictures in the Wizarding world move, talk, and interact with the people they see.

If you wanted to talk to Dumbledore you could just talk to his portrait. It wouldn’t be the same but judging from the other portraits he would have his same personality and would know the same things as when he died.

With the Internet we can record and know what we are thinking by what we post and how we interact. This has enabled information aggregators like Google and social media sites like Twitter to report on what the world is thinking at any given time.

Before you die you can pay companies to manage your accounts when you die. They will clean up any loose ends, pay debts, and tell your friends and followers you’ve died. (original story

What if instead of cleaning up your files making them ready for you to be forgotten, they continued posting for you?

Just as a magical portrait mimics the life of a wizard, computers could mimic the online life of a muggle.

The AI in Spore mimics the patterns of other player to give gamers new races to come in contact with. When a gamer encounters a new species, it is controlled by a computer in a similar pattern to that of the gamer who first made the species.

I think it would be cool to have a computer constantly analyzing what you do and create on the Internet & reproducing that on the internet.

Maybe even making vlogs & skype calls to interact with the online population just as a magical portrait would interact with people walking by.

The major problem is how would the friends and family react to a computer assuming the life of a loved one. I do not know how they would react.

Maybe they would become very attached to the computer assumed profile, or maybe they would become distant from it & get mad at the computer’s profile.

I don’t know if its good or bad but it would be interesting.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

No More Superstars?

Just thinking of old stars like Elvis, The Beatles, and Michael Jackson and I wondered who will be next? Then I thought maybe no one.

In the early twentieth century families wanted to be alike. A working dad, stay at home mom, perfect kids, a white picket fence.People lived like hobbits.

Now everyone has their own family situation, their own likes, their own personality and they want to show that to the world.

People today are living like rock stars. Not only in the way they spend money but also in the way they share their lives. Hundreds of pictures on personal profiles, a self centered society.

Everyone wants attention. And the only way to get attention?

To be different.

To like the newest undiscovered band. To eat at the small undiscovered restaurant downtown.To know, before anyone else, breaking news.

The fastest way to kill a cool band or product is to force it mainstream with advertizing. Once everyone likes it, no one does.

With the culture we have we cannot have stars be popular for extended periods of time. Once they get popular they peak.

On the other side to stay on top you have to:

Stay relevant.

Always change.

Make people like you for who you are, not who is following you.

Will we have another ElvisBeatleJackson? I don’t think so.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Innovation Function=Fame Function

I’m in an entrepreneur class this semester and we visit local entrepreneurs and hear their story. During class on Monday we heard this quote

“The function of innovation is a step function, output is not proportional to input, but steady input is required to get to the next step” –Jeff Bohanan.

That’s not the real quote but it has the same meaning.

A step function is a function in math where the output values will be constant for a while and then they will all of a sudden jump to the next value. (graph in the picture above)

So innovation (and really business) comes in bulks, not a steady flow. I think this same idea can be applied to social media and Internet fame.

No one gets famous overnight and those that do lose their fame overnight. It’s a tough road to gain a following. With my experience attention comes in steps, just like the function described. Four new followers one day and none for the rest of the week.

Sound familiar?

The key is in the end of the quote, “steady input is required to get to the next step.”

Keep going and you’ll get there.

I am writing this post as much for me as for you. I sometimes get down because I don’t see too much activity on this blog or my twitter. I also sometimes forget that input is required for output.

Keep posting and making friends! Remember rewards come in steps.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Internet Newspeak

In the book 1984 by George Orwell the government, Big Brother, has mandated the number of words be cut down. Government loyalists pride themselves on having a smaller “Newspeak” dictionary each year.

By limiting the number of words to only what is essential to barely communicate. This method is used to limit the feelings and emotions of the population, because you cannot express your feelings if you do not have the words to express yourself.

Now, the Internet is bringing people together from across the world, and in each place everyone has their own way of speaking. Words used in the northern states in America are very different form those used in the southern states. (pop and coke for example, both describe soft drinks)

On the Internet everyone has settled into a common language, because to appear on search engines you need your material to be written in the words people are most likely to use when searching.

Our language is not getting smaller but people are using less meaningful ways of expressing their emotions. You know that friend that has to use all caps and five exclamation points to feel like they have fully expressed their surprise when they found five dollars in their pocket.

The Internet is full of acronyms and emoticons. People today cannot really share their feelings with words so they have to make small faces with the characters on the keyboard.

So what?

It means that like in 1984 we are losing the means to express ourselves and we are losing the definitions of important words. Words are still powerful and we need to understand them to use their power and more importantly not be persuaded to do something we never intended to do.

I’ll bring politics into it for just a second. Now there is a lot of political confusion in America. Both sides are saying fascism and communism belong to the other side of the aisle naturally because both words have negative connotations in America.

But what are the definitions of both words and which side is supporting policies that would lead to one of those outcomes? (Keep in mind that this is only the example I have at had. Others are definitely out there.)

Honestly I would have to use a dictionary to tell you the difference between both ways of governing, because I am like the rest of twitter. I use emoticons and exclamation points to express myself.

The key is to get back to using words instead of pictures. I know this may be hard to do, but it will really help.

Look in the thesaurus for you next tweet.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Effectively Reaching Your Audience

Just wanted to do a quick update. As you may or may not know I post new content to the Internet at around 11(eastern time) in the morning. I have read many other blogs to determine that this is the best time for east coast people to tweet.

At #blogchat on Sunday (if your not in the conversation join in! Sundays @ 9 but next 2 weeks will be on Monday) one of the topics was when and how many times to tweet new material.

Most people agreed that 2-4 times per day is a good amount to tweet the same post. This helps make sure that followers around the world see your content. (you don’t want to forget your followers on the other side of the world!)

This Monday when I tweeted a new post and new art I scheduled a second round of tweets to send in the early morning (eastern time), and my click count doubled!

Don’t send your followers a barrage of tweets every hour but choose key time to repeat your message. Times like lunchtime, after work but before dinner, & during the night. Scheduling tweets really helps with this.

Remember to use analytic sites like, hootsuite, and Google analytics to asses how effective you are at reaching your audience!