Category Archives: marketing

Defending Liberal Arts

Campus (aerial view), Hamilton College

Andrew Bennett, the CEO of Havas has a great piece in Fast Company that I fully agree with based on my own direct experiences. His thesis is essentially that while we place such enormous attention on STEM education we might be losing sight of the value in a proper liberal arts degree.

At my college there was just a single degree to earn, a Bachelor of Arts. I could have chosen to major in Chemistry, Physics or Computer Science and still left with a BA. Instead I chose Comparative Literature and while that might seem limiting if you can only draw linear conclusions, the foundation my education provided is something I use all day, every day. My job involves continuous critical thinking, synthesis and analysis and clear communication whether written or through public speaking. It’s hard to say whether I would have had a similar exposure or rigueur had I focused on business or marketing or even engineering (at a different school) but I believe and would advise my kids to think broadly to ensure they are comfortable with the pretty steady change that life offers.

There’s always time to specialize and go deep in a particular area. I still feel like I’ve managed to be a bit of a generalist and consume an intense information diet to ensure my continued relevance and importantly interest in learning so I can continue to grow.

Nintendo

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Everything You’re Thinking About Nintendo Is Totally Wrong | Game|Life | Wired.com.

Interesting read.

I agree … more, easily accessible content would only make my kids want more not less Nintendo.  They (all three) are very happy to play games on our Wii U and generally do together while they play games on mobile alone, but nearby.  They seem to get more fun naturally out of the shared experience and Nintendo needs to work a bit more to deliver this consistently — and at a price that parents like me would want to continuously pay.  $5 for Rayman Fiesta on Mobile and $60 for the Wii U DLC is a pretty massive disparity for starters … but importantly more easy to download games for their 3DS and easier cheaper, but strong historical (and even new) content on the Wii U could be killer.

Disney Research re-imagines the pop-up book #maker style and it’s awesome

Disney Research has pioneered a method to create new interactive experiences with paper, some simple electronics and some conductive ink. The result is really, really cool. With three kids we’ve worked our way through many books together many of which have had some interactive components through flaps and folds and even sound or simple lights. Eventually they all kinda wear out … a kid is too rough and they tear or the battery simply dies and the book loses its extra fun. With this technique, we could pretty easily print and rebuild. We could probably remix the book as well which is where things could really start to get creative.

Batteries not included … and not required!

via FastCo

I’m in a Nexus state of mind

I’m a multi device user. Currently I’m working with three active mobile devices… a Galaxy S4 (work), Galaxy note II (personal) and a Nexus 7. The Nexus re-awakened my desire for pure Android as it’s so clean and importantly so fast. I’m constantly moving between applications and while the flow of Android is pretty awesome, its accentuated within the more pure view.

Towards the end of last week I started actively considering the Google Play Edition S4 as the hardware is great and it’s clean. My S4 has been fine but I wanted something more like the N7. I’d rooted (motochopper) quite a while back so the opportunity to wipe out the AT&T piece of my experience was there but the main OS experience was still via TouchWiz but after some considerable N7 use it was time to change that as well.  A quick google led me to the solution which of course is a GPe S4 ROM ready to roll onto my phone. I did fail once as the initial effort required second step following the flash which I failed to initiate rendering my unit in AT&T startup jail until I could reflash the original state back and try again. I’m noticing a dramatic performance increase without battery penalty. Mission accomplished.

While the S4 was in transition, my Note II submitted itself to a spontaneous reset. I honestly have no idea what happened but while I was in a meeting it looped twice and when I looked down was at the initial start screen waiting for me to sign in and get going. As frustrating as this was I took it as a chance to reconsider this phone as well. Given the somewhat older status of the Note II and the strong likelihood of a model rev this year getting a fresh Jelly Bean update from either Samsung or AT&T seemed low … Back to Google and this time I found a solution through Paranoid Android. While not pure in the Nexus sense PA offers a straight+ experience meaning like Cyanogenmod, there are some light enhancements rather than sweeping UX changes. Seemed like a good thing … Downloaded and flashed.  Boom.

I’m now running a pretty parallel experience across the various form factors and it’s rather sweet. The pick up and go or even pick and continue opportunity is killer. As the powers within android collect, enabling sync through background operations I’m just where o want to be on whichever screen I choose.

While the similarities in ux seamlessness are parallel in iOS, sync is badly missing and while I’m in no way way seeking out iOS for any of my mobile needs the sameness is important. If you use multiple brands of devices or even multiple SKU’s within the same brand you can get a very different experience and I don’t think that’s a good thing. What manufacturers and even carriers have done is create the fragmentation everyone loves to talk about in regard to Android. While perhaps the historical delivery from Google was mediocre, the last few generations of Nexus products are not just strong but leading edge as well.

The vast majority of add-ons from Samsung, HTC, AT&T, Verizon are typically superfluous and only challenge the ability of developers, brands and importantly the user to maintain focus and currency within the system. This needs to end. Looking at the Paranoid Android example in comparison to what Samsung or HTC have done is a good place to start. Instead of forcing a new user experience on top of the core is, there are instead some slight tweaks mainly within the preferences to offer up adjustment. My use of the Note II is very similar to the other devices … Oh and PA even detects the S-Pen so there’s that. Apps that take full advantage of the pen can still be on board in a close-to-pure view.

At the beginning of the year I was thinking this might be the year we see developers go Android first. It looks like that’s more likely in 2014 at this point though I’d love to be surprised. One substantial way to capture that developer attention would be a stricter focus on areas where innovation and enhancement should occur. Marketing could and should be about the nuances in hardware design, form factor and not the crazy layers distracting from how we might just use our various devices. Adding unique apps doesn’t seem to hurt but when there are suddenly layers forcing a certain tinted view we’ve gone too far.

tapped and swiped on the N7 while on my commute

Foursquare’s Time Machine is awesome!

foursquare-the-next-big-thing

Foursquare has partnered with Samsung to deliver a really slick animation of your history on the service.  It’s really beautiful to watch and fun to consider the travel I’ve had over the past 4 years on the platform as well.  I particularly enjoyed the transitions when I traveled via plane or road to the various cities in which I’ve checked in.  Get yours here.

 

 

Interesting tech perspective

So I’m on a plane seated next to a recent college grad and he starts asking me some tech questions.  He’s curious about Android… Running a blackberry and considering his next phone purchase.  His perception is that phones update all the time and it’s a complex decision…  Obviously he’s a very mainstream user. 

In our conversation he shares how he has a laptop and is considering a tablet. His main uses seem to be email, news and text though that’s clearly shifting to whatsapp particularly with international contacts.  What really caught my ear was his use of rss (his word and prompt)  and how it is only happening in mobile.  He actually showed me his feeds which are all mainstream need sources…  Amazing that he has no desire for a desktop reader given the efficiency.  Google Reader was not something he knew anything about. 

On the desktop he’s mainly just doing msnbc and either nba.com or more directly the nba’s youtube channel to cut straight to the clips. 

As a final thought he was attracted to windows 8 for a tablet but it sounded like peer pressure might be steering him away – though for such casual use it actually seems like a great fit.

His online habits are surprisingly light and limited…  I really expected more. No twitter, limited facebook and no tumblr.