On my way to the airport today I stopped at Fat Cow, the new burger joint just outside the South gates of LSU. Being a cheeseburger aficionado, (sounds better than addict, doesn’t it?) I felt a certain duty to indulge, and then to blab extensively while my mouth was still full, so to speak. My apologies if, in my excitement, I stream masticated cheeseburger pixels all over your screen. I recognize that the cheeseburger lacks a digital component, but branding started with cattle, and that’s enough of a connection for me.
Many of the world’s greatest inventions are spawned from nebulous development projects underwritten by the Department of Defense, before being repurposed for civilian life. Duct tape was introduced to put a watertight seal on ammunition canisters in the 1940’s. Superglue was invented in the 1960’s to seal wounds in combat settings. The microwave was perfected shortly after as an anti-communist death-ray.*
One area of technology I find interesting that is currently being advanced by military interests is speech-recognition. The ability of computers to recognize and replicate human speech is improving at a steady, but only somewhat impressive rate. Speech recognition has been available for a long time, but was often problematic, and always expensive. Only recently has it arrived at a level of reliability consistent with human perception.
DJ Quade and MC Dersch of California’s IBM Crew break it down like a fraction with the IBM Shoebox, an early speech-recognition device that did arithmetic (1961) Read the rest of this page »
Quite recently, Pandora got a minor remix. The decision to revamp the platform was likely a response to the growing popularity of competing free-music outlets SoundCloud and Spotify. Each has perks of its own, some more than others. Perhaps it’s a matter of what the listener is looking for, but for my two cents, Spotify has usurped the headliner spot. While Spotify is in the green room dousing groupies with champagne, Pandora is swilling Schlitz in the back of their van, wondering what happened to their promising rise. Soundcloud, meanwhile lost the directions to the venue in their cluttered practice space (mom’s garage) and might miss their slot.
“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). Read the rest of this page »
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.* Read the rest of this page »
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.
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. Read the rest of this page »
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. Read the rest of this page »