Archive for September, 2011

Bring Your A-Game

“Gamification” is a hot topic right now in digital branding.  If this were NBA Jam, gamification would be somewhere between “Heating up!” and “ON FIRE!”  Making up games is an intrinsic human activity.  It is a great way to make long lasting friends and enemies, and a powerful tool for coercing others into having fun or doing something for you.  Above and beyond this, it provides a healthy dose of the interactivity and brand engagement that the futuristic consumer gets off on.

What can gamification do for you?  The concept is simple.  Start with a goal, work backwards to determine the task others would have to undertake for you to meet that goal, and decide how to make a game out of it.  This release by Bunchball does a great job explaining how game mechanics and game dynamics (concepts such as levels, points, rewards, status, statistics, and leaderboards) can be incorporated to create compelling gameplay that will fuel user activity and brand equity.

Gamification predates the digital era by a long shot.  Parents of small children and babysitters alike practice a classic example of gamification called “the quiet game.”  Playing off the competitive nature of humans and the ageless desire of winning in games, adults can persuade noisy children to keep their maws sealed for at least a couple minutes.  Think of it as a vocal adapation of a staring contest or a Mexican stand-off (a Mexican shut-up, if you will). (more…)


If You Can’t Beat ‘Em, Eat ‘Em

While you were sleeping, Mark Zuckerberg and his elves made some adjustments to Facebook.  Their new ‘Subscribe’ feature and an updated ‘Friends’ function alter the user experience significantly, and present competitive challenges to Twitter and Google+.  Facebook is assimilating the functional cornerstones of its competitors.  Whether intentional or otherwise, the move to encroach on enemy territory may be a dangerous one as it becomes apparent whether users want all these functions in one place, or prefer having dedicated platforms for different frames of interaction.

The new ‘Subscribe’ button offers a new way to track what others publish.  It diverges drastically from Facebook’s traditional paradigm of ‘friending’, a reciprocal relationship of mutual sharing.  Subscription is analogous to ‘Following’ on Twitter.  It is a one way feed that allows users to track the posts of another user without sharing their own posts with that individual.  The feature was originally conceived as a ‘Stalk’ feature that would take Facestalking into the 22nd century.*   (more…)

The Future of Mobile Gaming

By far the coolest thing I have seen in a while, this literal, physical sidescroller is an awesome mashup of new meets old, lo-fi meets hi-tech.  Things like this always strike a chord with me, because of my personal interest in the survival of the analog and the mechanical in a digital world.  More vids and build info on this DigitalBuzz page.

Being totally ignorant of Arduino programming, it is with the greatest of ease that I make recommendations like “Incorporate more physics modeling into the ‘jumping’ and automate Mario’s ascent and descent so that there is ‘gravity.’  In conjunction, modify the dial control to a single arcade style button.”  That aside, this should evoke an animated response from anyone old enough to remember when handheld gaming devices were so large both hands were needed to hold them.  This device may only be a little bit bigger than the original Gameboy, but its graphics processor and display quality are on at least a Super Nintendo level.

Although limiting and monotonous, the infinitely scrolling treadmill gives this project an eco-friendly, green touch that the randomly generated track in the unscrupulously wasteful Receipt Racer lacks so terribly.

Sunday Staple

Reposted from Mashable, via JoyofTech


Google +, Woof.

The media industry tends to be one of buyouts and acquisitions.  It is a game where the large get larger, and the small get smaller.  It is a dog-eat-dog world where the big dogs of the industry attract all the advertising dollars, get all the food, and grow and grow until they are big enough to eat the runts of the pack.

Considering this, there are a surprising number of social media channels in existence.  Digital is an area in which more platforms seem to have coexisted than in any other, and also in which platforms shift in popularity and dominance at a faster rate than any other.  To borrow terminology from Neil Postman, the shifts from the typographic era to the radio era and then to the television era happened at much more widely spaced intervals than the transition from the Xanga era to the MySpace era to the Facebook era.  And when VHS duked it out with Beta, the match was one on one, unlike today’s melee amongst the myriad social media outlets. (more…)

Well Connected II

A crucial part of digital branding is creating an online presence that reflects who you or your business are.  I will endeavor herein to see how good of a job I am doing at this. (more…)

Well Connected

The Touchgraph app for Facebook is a pretty impressive tool for visualizing social networks.  Upon initializing, it gets to work separating and color coding friends into clusters based on networks, typically geographic or university related.  Immediately the networks providing the most degrees of connection emerge.  Its great to confirm the strength of the largest networks, determining, in a sense where the most loyalty lies.  However, most of us probably do not need to be told where most of our connections are.  Touchgraph also presents the possibility of homing in on smaller social network hubs that may be overlooked, and that can, from a business perspective, present valuable opportunities for expanding influence, gaining exposure, etc. (more…)

Weapons of Mass Distraction (Don’t Kill the Instant Messenger)

Nicholas Carr, in an Atlantic article, examines the deleterious effects of the internet age on intellect, posing the question “Is Google making us stupid?”  The question is a bit absurd.  When has an increase in the availability of information ever been correlated with a decline in intelligence? What Carr is really referring to, however, is a decreased attention span.  He blames his inability to read long passages on the internet, in all of its short-form glory.  I have to wonder when reading such an assertion whether Mr. Carr has ever read a magazine, and how his attention span escaped the encounter unscathed.  If exposure to shorter features truly degrades the ability to digest longer compositions, why did the pamphlet not choke out all competitors as the ubiquitous carrier of information?

In a similar NYTimes article, Matt Richtel suggests that it is not short-form narratives that are to blame for the problem, but the immediate gratification and multitasking that can be achieved from the convenience of technology.  Entertainment on-demand and the ability to jump between tasks and interactions is cultivating a fragmented thought process that is not consistent with carrying out lengthy or complex tasks. (more…)