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Best of the Week – April 20, 2012

posted April 20th, 2012 & filed under digital trends, Serious Stuff, social networking, technology, Trends

 

  1. Venus X Interview in NY Times

As one of the founders of GHE20 GOTH1K, Venus X has merged diverse underground cultures in a seamless blend that’s become one of the most forward thinking and next level parties in NYC nightlife.  Check out this interview with her in The New York Times for some background about her style and unique take on current music culture.

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/19/fashion/profile-of-the-dj-venus-x.html

 

  1. Le1f’s Dark York Mixtape

Le1f’s new mixtape Dark York is an amazing blend of crazy call and response rhymes over some of the best production in electronic music right now including tons of bass heavy beats by Nguzunguzu.  Check out his mixtape streaming on Soundcloud, and download it next week on Das Racist’s record label Greedhead.

http://www.thefader.com/2012/04/18/stream-le1fs-dark-york-mixtape/

 

  1. Tupac Hologram Performs at Coachella

Out of the tons of noteworthy performances last weekend from Coachella, all anyone is talking about was the Tupac hologram performing with Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg.  No matter how you feel about it, it really brings up interesting questions about the future of music performance and touring.

http://www.billboard.com/column/the-juice/opinion-the-problem-with-the-tupac-hologram-1006777552.story

http://lunavega.net/2012/04/holographic-tupac-performs-at-coachella/

 

  1. Rustie’s BBC Essential Mix

Rustie is one of the most amazing young producers in electronic music right now and his new BBC Essential Mix is the perfect introduction to his manic a hundred synths and genres a minute style.  You’ll hear tons of exclusive unreleased tracks mixed in with the illest southern rap junts and everything in between.  Also, check out the Pitchfork article “Maximal Nation” for an interesting breakdown of Rustie’s style and how it fits into current electronic music trends.

http://pitchfork.com/reviews/albums/16498-essential-mix/

http://pitchfork.com/features/articles/8721-maximal-nation/

http://soundcloud.com/rustie

 

  1. New Mel Gibson Rant & the Joe Eszterhas Letter

Another week another unbelievable Mel Gibson rant has leaked to the web.  You almost have to hear it just to believe it, and especially when you read the Joe Eszterhas letter that explains in intricate detail the exact scenarios behind the rants, it’s a beyond wtf scenario you almost couldn’t even make up if you wanted too.

http://www.thewrap.com/movies/article/mel-gibson-rage-recording-costa-rica-37112

http://www.thewrap.com/movies/article/joe-eszterhas-letter-mel-gibson-36949

 

  1. Facebook Purchases Instagram for $1 Billion Dollars

One of the biggest stories in the tech world this week was Facebook’s purchasing of Instagram for $1 billion dollars.  Even though that number was double the amount of Instagram’s recent financial evaluation, Facebook still thought it was worth the price with over 5 million photos being uploaded to Instagram on a daily basis.  People are already crying foul about their favorite app getting the corporate treatment, and only time will tell exactly how Facebook is going to utilize Instagram in the future.

http://dealbook.nytimes.com/2012/04/18/with-instagram-deal-facebook-shows-its-worth/

 

  1. Kraftwerk’s Eight Night Residency at MOMA

Kraftwerk, who are considered one of the most legendary and influential electronic groups of all time, finished up their 8 night residency at MOMA this week and original member Ralf Hütter gave a rare interview with The New York Times discussing the group’s legacy and what you can expect from them in the future.

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/16/arts/music/talking-to-ralf-hutter-of-kraftwerk.html

http://www.moma.org/visit/calendar/exhibitions/1257

 

  1. New Chromatics Album Kill for Love

Since the mid-2000s Chromatics have been perfecting their amazing blend of neo-italo disco sounds coupled with icy John Carpenter synths and subtly emotive vocals.  Their new album Kill for Love was released at the end of last month and it’s quickly become one of the most sought after and critcally acclaimed  albums of the year.  Check out the interview with Chromatics mastermind Johnny Jewel on how he developed his group’s retro but still surprisingly modern sound.

http://pitchfork.com/reviews/albums/16452-kill-for-love/

http://pitchfork.com/news/45098-johnny-jewel-talks-symmetry-drive-music-glass-candy-and-chromatics-lps/

 

9.  Is Facebook Making Us Lonely?

It’s been building for a while and it culminated this week with the purchasing of Instagram; the inevitable Facebook backlash is upon us.  Recent studies also show that Social Media and Facebook could actually be making us lonely instead of bringing us together as the initial intention behind Social Media.  This article from The Atlantic looks into the interesting phenomenon of how Social Media and Facebook affects loneliness.

http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2012/05/is-facebook-making-us-lonely/8930/#.T43S_uEN9OU.twitter

 

10.  New Online Dating Site Tawkify uses Klout Scores to make matches

Online dating has been given a Social Media twist with the new dating site Tawkify that incorporates your Klout scores into fixing you up with other singles.  Its part matchmaking, part Social Media, and an entirely new techie way to link up potential romantic matches.

http://corp.klout.com/blog/2012/04/klout-gets-romantic-tawkify-com-is-using-klout-scores-to-find-you-an-intriguing-match/

http://tawkify.com/

Internet Culture Backlash: Hipster Runoff Content Farm

posted April 19th, 2012 & filed under culture jamming, digital trends, Serious Stuff

For the last few years Hipster Runoff has been the de facto leader in criticizing hipster and internet culture through an amazing lens of half joking / half serious / half none of the above.  The anonymous creator and writer for the site Carles is as much of an Internet construct as the topics he covers.  He’s never revealed his true identity, although there are plenty of online theories. He was interviewed by The Village Voice in 2009 and it really ended up creating more questions then it answered.

via Hipster Runoff

Part of the allure of the satire Hipster Runoff specializes in is the mystique surrounding the writer, who could possibly be perpetuating one of the most elaborate ruses in Internet history.  Hipster Runoff started out as a music critic blog, but over the years expanded its focus to popular culture, and the web culture.  Very often the tone is very hard to pin down especially if you’re unfamiliar with the site or the concept behind it.  It’s basically meta-satire in motion; the idea of poking fun at things through a voice that itself is purposefully imitating the very things that it’s satirizing.

via Hipster Runoff

Although the majority of (Hipster Runoff ) HRO content is satirical in nature, every once in a while Carles will write a  post that’s an extremely astute take on the nature of Internet blogging and what actually drives the momentum of memes and disposable culture.  One of the most interesting pieces that arose from the site, which garnered substantial press around the web, was Carles’ coverage and main thinkpiece about Lana Del Rey.  In his post “Lana & Me: Our Dark, Abusive, Co-Dependent Relationship on the Content Farm” he critiqued the idea of blogs existing as empty vessels that need stories like the Del Rey backlash to simply fulfill “content farming” needs to perpetuate and invent stories to increase unique page views which only equate to more advertising revenue.  The most interesting aspect of the post was the idea of Carles critiquing the motives of online music criticism while at the same he’s one of the largest culprits of embracing the empty notion of needing to invent content to maintain the success of a site.

via Hipster Runoff

Carles’ “Content Farm” post really brings up interesting cultural notions of exactly why these websites and platforms perpetuate certain stories over others.  As he pointed out and displayed in an Alexa search query result, people were going to HRO just to see what new take he had on the entire Lana Del Rey backlash, instead of deriving their own opinion about her music, which is really the only reason she was known in the first place.  A lot of websites and blogs put relevance on snark and being able to spin a story to maximize their SEO results, and even though Carles is a major facet of the content farm vantage point, at least he’s astute enough to identify the current online climate of blog scavengers combing the web for the next buzz sustenance to satisfy their audience.  Carles knows that he perpetuates the idea of a content farm as much as any other blog, but it’s his take on the culture and self awareness to critique it that sets him apart from all the other sites.

via Hipster Runoff

Very often what Carles accomplishes feels very similar to what Stephen Colbert has mastered over the years.  The persona he’s created is so convincing that it’s almost more realistic and authentic then the very stories and politics he covers.  Colbert said in an interview with Rolling Stone that he always talks to his guests ahead of time and tells them to be prepared for his ridiculous line of questioning to make sure that they’re not offended by his absurd brand of punditry.  Between his anonymity and extremely scant explanations on his perspective behind the site, Carles has created an entirely new level of satire that’s probably some of the most confounding and insightful critiques about the absurdity of online culture; by creating and writing for Hipster Runoff it’s almost become his own personal backlash on the entire online experience.

Resources:

Hipster Runoff

http://www.hipsterrunoff.com/

http://www.hipsterrunoff.com/2012/01/lana-me-our-dark-abusive-co-dependent-relationship-content-farm-carles.html

https://twitter.com/#!/hipsterrunoff

The Village Voice

http://www.villagevoice.com/2009-02-04/music/hipster-runoff-explained-maybe/

http://blogs.villagevoice.com/music/2009/12/day_two_of_the.php

Splitsider

http://splitsider.com/2012/01/watching-hipster-runoff-eat-its-own-tail/

Rolling Stone

http://www.rollingstone.com/culture/news/stephen-colbert-on-deconstructing-the-news-religion-and-the-colbert-nation-20090902

Vulture

http://www.vulture.com/2009/02/tao_lin_is_maybe_probably_not.html

Wired

http://wiredinsider.tumblr.com/post/7340533136/you-are-your-content

Holographic Tupac: Idea Originates from Hatsune Miku

posted April 16th, 2012 & filed under digital trends, Serious Stuff

Last night during Snoop Dogg and Dr. Dre’s peformance at Coachella a miraculous event took place: the legendary west coast rapper Tupac performed a two song set for an astounded crowd; but it wasn’t due to the myriad of theories that Pac is still alive, it was actually a Tupac hologram.  He appeared on stage, gave a shout out to Dre and Snoop, then amazingly shouted out Coachella, and went into a two song set of his signature classics “Hail Mary” and the Snoop duet “Amerikaz Most Wanted”.

This is probably one of the first instances of holographically projected celebrities within an American concert, but it’s actually a concept that‘s been popular in Japan for the last few years.  Back in August I wrote about the most popular Japanese virtual pop star Hatsune Miku who was created in 2007 by Yamaha and Sega.  Her voice is a combination of synthesizer software and Japanese voice actress Saki Fujita, but her likeness is entirely holographic.

It definitely seems like similar technology was used to bring an incredibly lifelike version of Tupac to the stage, from his distinct vocal inflections to even his west coast dance moves in between sharing verses with Snoop.  It’s only a matter of time before entire concerts in America will be performed by holograms, whether they’re entirely synthesized or amalgams of stars that have already passed.  It wouldn’t be surprising if instead of a Michael Jackson tribute concert in Las Vegas they’ll just holographically project a compilation of his best performances for a different crowd every night.  Holographic stars don’t even need contracts, or extensive tour riders, just a tech crew with an endless fiber optic feed.

Hatsune Miku article:

http://lunavega.net/2011/08/social-media-the-simulation-quandary/

Television and the Interactive Realm of Social Media

posted April 11th, 2012 & filed under digital trends, marketing/advertising, Miscellaneous, Serious Stuff, social networking

Every aspect of our lives have completely merged with Social Media, including the entertainment we take in and how we interact with it.  Out of all the mediums television has definitely seen the most seamless integration with a huge a presence on Facebook, Twitter, and tons of different websites that solely focus on fan participation.  The viewing experience has taken on a completely new level of interactivity in addition to the benefits of essential marketing and research tools only available on Social Media.

One of the major changes that has come with Social Media integration into television are fully interactive viewing experiences.  There are shows that have premiered in the last few months where Social Media has allowed the viewer to actually become another character on the show.  One of the best examples is the recent NBC reality show Escape Routes.  It’s an Amazing Race style series that pits teams of two against each other in urban locales as they go on scavenger hunts to accomplish different tasks, but the major difference is the viewer at home can help out the teams with their missions in real time, through Social Media as a virtual teammate.  The competitors on the show update their whereabouts and specific tasks while getting assistance online from the viewers at home who become virtual team members and if you’re local enough you can go to the city they’re in and help them out with the tasks, which completely breaks down the wall between a passive audience member and actually becoming an part of the show.

Escape Routes is one of the best examples of a fully interactive and immersive television experience, but lots of producers have integrated Social Media into different facets of their shows.  Watch What Happens Live, a late night talk show on Bravo hosted by reality show dilettante Andy Cohen, takes questions from Facebook and Twitter followers in real time that alter the show’s content and sometimes get a rise out of otherwise stale guests.  Bravo has been one of the early adapters of Social Media presence for their stable of reality show franchises.  They encourage their most prominent cast members to maintain weekly blogs that expand on each episodes weekly storylines, and they air what they call “Social” editions of some episodes that have pertinent tweets from the cast members commenting on the storylines as the action unfolds on screen.

Beyond integration with Social Media into a show’s actual storyline, producers and creators have turned to Facebook and Twitter as another gauge for a show’s success.  Before the Internet one of the only ways for a network to grasp the popularity of a show was through Nielson boxes, which are doled out to a mix of different demographics to get a numerical gauge of actual viewership.  Social Media hasn’t made Nielson numbers irrelevant, (they’re still the main way that advertising revenue is determined for networks), but Social Media has become a different type of barometer that can sometimes even save a low rated show from cancellation.  One of the best examples is the cult favorite absurdist NBC sitcom Community.  Even though it was shelved midway though it’s third season, the outpouring of support from its dedicated and mostly younger fanbase was enough for the network to let it finish out the last 12 episodes of its season and then make a final decision after that.

Series creator Dan Harmon attributed this turnaround to a new television audience that does most of their viewing online in unmeasured venues outside of the Nielson system.  In an interview with The New York Times Mr. Harmon said, “The most coveted demographic, and most coveted of that demographic, these very smart, upwardly mobile, college-age kids just don’t watch TV anymore.”  Social Media has become such a huge factor in not only changing the television experience, but also as marketing research for show developers and networks who can get tangible real world opinions from their actual audience instead of the sometimes unrealistic Nielson numbers.  The Internet has completely reshaped the entire entertainment industry, and especially television has gone through a complete transformation in every venue, from the couch, to the computer screen, to the boardroom.

Resources:

Escape Routes

http://www.escaperoutes.com/welcome

http://www.nbc.com/escape-routes/

http://thefutoncritic.com/news/2012/03/07/ford-teams-up-with-nbc-and-emmy-award-winning-reality-producer-for-prime-time-tv-reality-show-escape-routes-436412/20120308ford01/

Bravo

http://www.bravotv.com/

http://www.bravotv.com/watch-what-happens-live

http://www.bravotv.com/blogs

http://www.bravotv.com/blogs/the-dish/get-social-with-the-real-housewives-of-atlanta-tonight

https://twitter.com/#!/BRAVOANDY

Community

http://www.nbc.com/community/

The New York Times

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/13/arts/television/nbc-brings-community-back-to-its-passionate-fan-base.html?pagewanted=all

South Park and the Evolution of the Internet Meme

posted April 4th, 2012 & filed under digital trends, Serious Stuff, social networking, Trends

Last week’s episode of South Park took a satirical spin on the history and evolution of memes, and in the process came up with some hilarious and elaborate explanations for why memes exist and evolve over time.  According to South Park, the first recorded meme appeared on the hieroglyphics of the pyramids, and from there they’ve been changing and rapidly spreading over time, only to be left with the modern day examples that are rampant all over the Internet.  Of course South Park’s take on memes is more satirical in nature, but in all satire there’s some morsel of truth revealed, and they made some interesting and astute comments on the world of memes, and especially how and why they exist on the Internet.

via i raff i ruse

Simply stated a meme is a concept, idea, image, or behavior that spreads quickly through culture, and although they’ve existed for hundreds of years, the term was first coined by biologist Richard Dawkins in his 1976 book The Selfish Gene, as a concept within evolution to explain the spreading of cultural phenomenons.  Since then memes have become a known and studied concept within the realm of modern culture, but the real evolution of memes took off with the expansion of the Internet.  There have even been empirical scientific studies done that aimed to show why certain memes are successful online and others become digital debris.

South Park mocked this scenario by replacing old memes with new ones in increasingly absurd scenarios.  First it was “Faith Hilling”, then it became “Taylor Swifting”, then it was “Breading” and “Reporting”, which expanded into a new take on “Oh Long Johnsoning”, and then when those became trite and passé, they started combining the most recent trends together into an all new mega-meme, but what is it about memes that gives them such a short shelf life?

via LOLVirgin

The Internet and Social Media have created such an instantaneous culture that has only added to our collective short attention spans.  Everyone is always trying to get more and more done in a shorter amount of time, including frivolous things like entertainment and keeping up with trends.  Memes are almost a shorthand for cultural concepts that can encompass a wide range of ideas in a very small and precise way, and when that’s coupled with the infinite diversions and short shelf life of Internet content, it only makes sense that our interest, no matter how large at first, will eventually be waning.  The more memes compete with each other for our attention, the less time we have to focus on them, and the easier it is to become bored with their concept.

via icanhascheezburger

So why are certain memes more successful while others fall by the wayside?  Why does the classic meme prank of Rickrolling have more viral sustenance then say something like breading, which seemed like it arrived almost as quickly as it disappeared?  Partially it’s due to the older memes that arrived when Social Media was in its infancy had less competition, so if someone made one that was successful, it definitely stuck around for longer and became more ingrained into Internet culture.  It seems like there’s so much competition now that memes have to really cut across all demographics and tastes to really maintain any sort of Internet presence.

There’s also the intangible entertainment value of memes which is sometimes just a random factor.  The right timing, the right combination of graphics and slogan make a certain meme a success the same way a television show in the right time slot gets renewed but a higher quality one with more competition and lower ratings will get cancelled.  Overall memes have become such a fascinating and integral part of the Internet and they’re definitely one of the best ways to get an accurate grasp of our culture at any given time, from caveman paintings to the virtual web of the future.

Here’s a list of some of the most notable Internet memes of the last 15 years (in no particular order)

1. Keyboard Cat

2. Numa Numa Dance

3. LOLcats

4. Chuck Norris Facts

5. Randall the Honey Badger

6. Oh Long Johnson

7. Chocolate Rain

8. Double Rainbow

9. Based God

10. People of Walmart

11. Dramatic Chipmunk

12. Rickrolling

13. Diet Coke and Mentos

14. Planking / Owling / Breading

15. Star Wars Kid

16. Epic Fail!

17. Scumbag Steve

18. Nyan Cat

19. Tebowing / Bradying

20. Dancing Baby

References:

Net For Beginners

http://netforbeginners.about.com/od/weirdwebculture/tp/The-Best-Internet-Memes.htm

Know Your Meme

http://knowyourmeme.com/

http://knowyourmeme.com/blog/meme-review/best-memes-of-2011

South Park

http://www.southparkstudios.com/full-episodes/s16e03-faith-hilling

Nature

http://www.nature.com/srep/2012/120329/srep00335/full/srep00335.html

Mashable

http://mashable.com/2009/05/25/youtube-video-memes/

Wikipedia

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Faith_Hilling

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Selfish_Gene

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meme

Twitter and the Celebrity Backlash

posted March 29th, 2012 & filed under digital trends, Serious Stuff, social networking

There are over 100 million people on Twitter including a countless number of celebrities, from some of the biggest stars and politicians in the world, to the smaller ones from reality shows or the Internet famous.  No matter what the size of a star’s fanbase, a lot of celebrities have realized Twitter might actually not be the best platform for interaction or growing their brand.

What makes Twitter unique is that it allows for the most direct access versus any other Social Media platform.  There’s definitely celebrities that post on Facebook and will sometimes answer questions, but Twitter has become the go to venue for instantaneous unfiltered access for fans.  A lot of celebrities have remarked Twitter allows them to have their own voice outside of a Publicist or a PR sculpted format; it’s almost one of the only authentic forms of expression for people in the public eye and the least censored by the people managing their career.

Some people feel that celebrities should expect to get trolled or at least sarcastically harassed on Twitter, and it’s important to remember that expectations of fans change based on the way you interact with them.  If you’re constantly giving your opinion about everything in the news or pop culture, then your fans will react in a similar manner.  There’s also the idea that once you’re in the public eye you lose some portion of your privacy, and when that’s combined with a platform like Twitter, it can make even the most amiable celebrity an easy target.

The term “twitter beef” has also become a common concept where instead of being trolled by snarky fans, a celebrity will engage in a war of words with other celebrities.  It takes place across all avenues of entertainment, but especially in the hip hop community, where brash comments and bravado go hand in hand on a platform like Twitter.  One of the most interesting and comical Twitter beefs occurred last year between Fabolous and Ray J, which escalated from the Internet to a wildly comical and surreal radio interview, which was then perfectly referenced in a classic Rick Ross couplet on his track “You the Boss”.

There’s also a handful of instances where celebrities will get caught up in how free and open Twitter is and they’ll either decide to completely close their account or hand it over to their handlers for strictly promotional purposes.  John Mayer, Alec Baldwin, and others have quit Twitter after their tweets led to subsequent scandals.  It’s so instantaneous and such a direct form of expression it’s easy to forget that one snafu could become a worldwide trending topic by the next afternoon.

Another aspect of celebrities quitting Twitter is due to abuse from their followers.  Sometimes amassing a huge number of followers comes with the requisite Internet trolls who are merely on there just to get a rise out of you or cause backlash.  English comedy star Matt Lucas recently deleted his Twitter account after one of his followers tweeted an insensitive joke about the death of his co-star Kevin McGee.  With the open and direct interaction also comes the negative aspect of too much access.  Sometimes people get overly comfortable with celebrities because they’re so familiar with them, and when you throw in the anonymity of Internet, it can potentially lead to these situations.

Our culture has created an incessant need for celebrity gossip and Twitter is an up to the minute feed of the backstage minutia that enhances or detracts from the public’s perception of a celebrity.  Instead of waiting for the weekly tabloid magazines you can find out what’s going on every hour, and sometimes even as it’s actually happening. As with all Social Media there are definitely pros and cons that come with each platform, but because of its unfiltered and direct nature, Twitter is a platform that doesn’t always benefit every celebrity.

Resources:

Telegraph

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/twitter/9166584/Twitter-quitters-increasing-numbers-of-celebrities-leave-the-site.html

MTV

http://rapfix.mtv.com/2011/09/19/fabolous-ray-j-fight-in-las-vegas/

Rap Radar

http://rapradar.com/2011/09/19/ray-j-speaks-on-fabolous-altercation/

Vibe

http://www.vibe.com/post/fighting-words-are-celebrity-twitter-beefs-getting-tired-129570

Rolling Out

http://rollingout.com/entertainment/top-celebrity-twitter-beefs-of-2011/

Wall Street Journal

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970204792404577229132810307306.html

Rolling Stone

http://www.rollingstone.com/music/news/john-mayer-reveals-why-he-quit-twitter-20110713

Entertainment Weekly

http://popwatch.ew.com/2011/12/07/alec-baldwin-twitter-celebrities-who-quit/

Marilyn Hagerty: Olive Garden & the Overnight Social Media Darling

posted March 20th, 2012 & filed under digital trends, Fun Stuff, social networking

A new meme that’s been exploding over the Web in the last week or so has given a solid foundation to the intersection between Social Media and foodie culture.  Food Writer Marilyn Hagerty, a 30-year veteran with the Grand Forks, North Dakota Hearld, has seen her recent review of the newly opened Grand Forks Olive Garden become a viral hit seemingly overnight.  The review eventually garnered over million page views, and a combination of 55,000 shares between Facebook and Twitter, which compelled her son James Hagerty, a writer for the Wall Street Journal to tell her about the overnight success, to which she responded: “Could you tell me what viral means?”

From there her instant fame kept growing larger by the hour.  A few days after her review was posted she was invited by The New York Times for a whirlwind food tour that included sampling her first taste of a NY style street dog, and decidedly more elevated fare at the Michelin star restaurants Dovetail NYC and Le Bernadin, which she adoringly detailed in her weekly “The Eatbeat” food blog, even calling her meal at Dovetail “probably the best meal I’ve ever had”.

There are so many interesting components of this story that you almost couldn’t have made up if you wanted to.  One day she was sending in a rather glowing review of the newly opened Olive Garden praising that their “…Chicken Alfredo ($10.95) was warm and comforting on a cold day“, and a week later she was being whisked away on a big city tour getting to eat at and socialize with some of the world’s most renowned chefs (including Eric Ripert of the New York French haute cuisine institution Le Bernadin).

Food Bloggers immediately caught on to the review both for its simple and folksy prose, and in an ironic, self-detached way that poked fun at the very concept of even reviewing an Olive Garden in the first place.  For the most part though, her meme experience has been overwhelmingly positive.  She even received praise from the self-declared “snarkologist” himself Anthony Bourdain on his twitter feed.  The only real detractors she’s encountered are from the hyper-sarcastic corners of the web that view every single meme with an air of haughty condescension.

She’s really become an endearing and successful example that shows Social Media isn’t all bullying and one-upmanship.  Hagerty has been reviewing her hometown restaurants for over thirty years, and as she stated in an interview with the Village Voice, there just aren’t enough fine dining restaurants in her locale, and she wanted to review places that everyone would go to and enjoy.

The culture clash aspect of this story is really interesting in how it’s being interpreted across the Web.  Social Media has an uncanny ability to break down cultural and economic barriers to create an even playing field that illustrates the most captivating stories will rise to the top of the heap.  It’s almost too easy to just denounce her praise of what most consider at best a sub-standard homogenized franchise; in the context of her article it’s probably completely accurate.

As she explained after being interviewed by her son following the success of her review “I’m working on my Sunday column and I’m going to play bridge this afternoon, so I don’t have time to read all this crap”, referencing the thousands of comments she received on Facebook and Twitter after the article went viral.  She seems like she’s already accustomed to the immediate snark that encounters most viral sensations, and she’s ready to fight back with a salad fork in one hand and a breadstick in the other.

Social Media in Asia 101

posted February 27th, 2012 & filed under digital trends, marketing/advertising, Miscellaneous, Serious Stuff, social networking, technology

For the last few weeks I’ve been working on a project in Asia and during my travels I’ve learned a few interesting things about the Social Media landscape in Asia.  For starters, the Social Media consumption in Asia is greater in some markets than it is in the US.  Countries like Indonesia, Malaysia, India, Taiwan, Thailand and the Philippines widely use Facebook, and the mobile internet market share is also much larger in these countries than the global average.

Countries like China, Japan and Vietnam use different but similar platforms such as Weibo and Renren (in China), Mixi (in Japan) and Zing (in Vietnam), and Google+ is also slowly gaining popularity.  It doesn’t have as much penetration as the larger more established platforms, but brands like Cathay Pacific and Uniqlo are among the first to create their own Google+ pages.

Overall, the Social Media behaviors vary in these countries because of their inherent cultural differences.  One of the main reasons is because Asian culture is more shy and reserved, and it’s usually considered rude to promote yourself directly.  Some of the main ways Social Media in Asia is utilized is through pop culture re-mashing, sharing photos of yourself out socializing with friends, learning about products online, and sharing tips instead of self-promotion and touting how great you are, which is definitely more common with Social Media in the US.

Even though there are some similarities, each country has its own specific behavior and Internet content usage patterns; here are some of the highlights of the Asian Social Media market:

  1. Photo sharing – Photo sharing is HUGE in Asia; literally any occasion deserves photo sharing. The general audience doesn’t use tools like Instagram as much we do in the US, but instead they directly upload them into their Facebook pages.  Although Instagram is slowly making strides in the Asian market.  A great example is Candy Mafia, a Thai pop group, who avidly use Instagram, and pop groups in general have a huge Social Media presence. Beauty and Fashion sharing is also extremely popular online; I’ve seen users taking pictures of their new possessions from Louis Vuitton to their North Face collection. There are also entire Tumblr sites dedicated to sharing picture collages of pop stars and TV shows, along with a variety of different gifs.
  2. Social Media Games – Social media games are used as stimuli to drive new users and gain reach within existing users, while actual content sharing is more popular among the more experienced users.
  3. Bulletin board systems underpin popular Social Media behavior in China; more than 80% of their Social Media content is based on bulletin board systems.
  4. Product Reviews – Online product reviews are increasing their influence on purchases in India, particularly for consumer electronics.  55% of Indians that read online product reviews have purchased products based on feedback. Consumer durables / electronics are the most common products that are purchased based on reviews (64% of purchases).
  5. Tweeting: Among the Asian market, Japanese Internet users are the most avid bloggers globally, posting more than one million blogs per month, which is significantly more than any other country in the region. Japan’s adoption of Twitter also continues to grow, with unique visitor numbers increasing in the last year from less than 200,000 to more than 10 million. 16% of Japanese Internet users now use Twitter, compared to only 10% in the U.S.

Google Plus Launches For Teens

posted February 23rd, 2012 & filed under digital trends, Miscellaneous, Serious Stuff, social networking, technology

Google Plus is now welcoming an entirely new teen audience with its recent lowering of its age restriction from 18 to 13.  When it initially launched in June of 2010 it was an only 18 and over service during the initial beta stage until they were able to tailor a new teen-centric version of the defaults and content sharing functions.  It’s basically the same exact service that’s available for adults, with just a few minor changes to the default settings for sharing and privacy options.

The defaults for teens protect more of their privacy online and give them more options as far as controlling who they share content with.  The main sharing portion of Google Plus is within its Circles feature, and a teen’s profile is more restrictive on sharing content outside of their Circles.  The same goes with a teen’s posts; only people within their circle can comment on their posts, but for adults anyone who can see their posts is able to comment.  Another interesting aspect which has proven to be one of the most popular parts of Google Plus is their Hang-Out Video Conferencing feature; the only difference for a teen’s default is when someone from outside their Circle joins the Video Conference, it pauses their feed and asks them if they want to continue the conversation.

It’s definitely commendable of Google to put these few but important safeguards in place to make teens feel like they have more control over their Google Plus content, and of course parents always benefit from any extra online safety measures.  The important thing also to remember is these are only differences in the basic defaults of the service, which can be changed at any time to resemble the conventional settings for those who are 18 and over.  Defaults exist more as guidelines for how a company thinks a service best works for certain users, and more often then not, people tend to stick with whatever the original settings are.  Another interesting aspect of Google Plus is how Google intends it to be utilized by the teen audience.  They want it to be more of an extension of their real life, instead of a venue for them to create a persona or misrepresent themselves, which is often what happens with more freeform Social Media like Facebook.

What will be interesting to see in the future is if the proportion of teens embracing Google Plus will rival the enormous market share Facebook currently has in younger demographics.  There are definitely features available on Google Plus that Facebook lacks, especially the popular Hang-Out Video Conferencing feature, which Facebook users usually leave the service for to utilize in Tinychat rooms for video socializing and even curated online DJ nights.  Google Plus definitely offers a structure and features that teens will find as an interesting contrast to Facebook, and with their specifically tailored defaults and sharing options, it may eventually become a solid competitor for the massive Social Media teen market share.

This is a great article from the Huffington Post that outlines the Google Plus rollout for the teen market.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/larry-magid/google-plus-safety-_b_1235552.html

Is Google’s New Privacy Policy Really Beneficial?

posted February 17th, 2012 & filed under digital trends, Serious Stuff, social networking, technology

 

Several weeks ago, Google announced their new privacy policy, and on March 1st, they’ll begin to consolidate the policies of their separate entities, including Gmail, YouTube, Google Plus, Blogspot, etc…  What this means is that Google will now be able to use data it collects from users in one area across all of its platforms.

So why is this happening? Google is getting ready to amp up its data mining to compete with its main rival Facebook, which has become a massive marketing and sociological goldmine for companies interested in exactly how to sell or launch their new product. A major proportion of Google’s income comes from advertising and these new policies will allow them to diversify their portfolio and really go head to head with Facebook in the Web 2.0 data wars.

As soon as the announcement came so did the immediate backlash. The main argument people have against this new policy is that there’s no way they can opt out of it. Although Facebook also utilizes a myriad of confusing jargon concerning user data, there is usually some sort of method or box to be checked that allows you to at least somewhat control your flow of information. Another aspect of Google’s new policies that also left users up in arms was their inclusion of your Google + information within their search results. That would be the equivalent of everything you post on your Facebook wall immediately becoming visible to anyone who happened to know or search your username.

The benefits of Google’s new policies will definitely create a more seamless and integrated experience across their multiple platforms, and for someone who isn’t that concerned with privacy policies, it could actually make their Web experience easier and more streamlined.  More importantly, one of the main negative aspects is do you really want your personal and business worlds to collide? You might have a 9-5 corporate job, but do you want your boss to see your Heavy Metal blog?  Is it really beneficial for all of your business contacts to see what you were watching till 3 A.M. on YouTube?  Once these changes go into effect it’s going to become harder and harder to create an online separation between your personal and your professional life.  Not to mention, what about when your personality changes? The online ephemera of your 13-year-old self is completely different and worlds away from whom you are now as a 30-something.

Although Google announced that you can still opt out by logging out from YouTube, etc…but will that really work or will it limit your potential online opportunities?  You can use Hotmail instead of Gmail, but then you would lose the networking capabilities of Google +. You could use Vimeo to upload and share videos, but compared to the daily 4 billion video views on YouTube, you would be missing out on the largest video market share on the web.

What Google has accomplished, as many feared as their size has grown exponentially, is that although their technology has created an all immersive easy to use experience, once you’re not completely satisfied with it, the options you’re left with are very often inferior. It’ll be really interesting to see as the months and years go on after this new privacy policy is put into effect whether or not people will start drifting away from their services, or if they’ll realize that no matter what you use online, at least some of your privacy is compromised, and that’s just become the norm in a world where so many aspects of our personal and business lives are increasingly conducted online.

This is a great article from the Washington Post that explains the ins and outs of the new Google Privacy Policy.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/technology/faq-googles-new-privacy-policy/2012/01/24/gIQArw8GOQ_story.html