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Cautiously Optimistic

Social media for better communication and a better life

Posts Tagged ‘google

The Google+ Redesign Looks Oddly Familiar

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Google+Of all my social media platforms, I think I use Google+ the least. Well, technically, I use my old Myspace page the least, because it has been years since I even logged in.

That makes Google+ the second least used of my social media platforms. So it was with a bit of skepticism that I read the news that Google+ has done a big redesign of its site.

My first thought was “if a social media platform fell in the forest, and no one was there, did it make a sound?”

But after watching the video, and then logging in to the site, I realized there was something about the new look that was very familiar.

The way the wide-format images appear at the top of the page, the way status updates are displayed, it all looks suspiciously Facebook-like.

There are definitely some innovations, such as a customizable “ribbon” of moveable icons in the left-hand navigational column instead of static images or text. This is the kind of fresh design concept that Google will have to depend on if it wants to continue competing with Facebook.

But if the next Google+ redesign starts looking suspiciously like my old Myspace page, that’s when I may have to call it a day.

Follow me on Twitter at @charlesprimm.

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Written by Charles Primm

April 12, 2012 at 7:22 pm

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Google Goggles? I’m Waiting for the Contact Lenses

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Project GlassI try to keep an eye on the latest consumer technology news, since it’s probably more likely to have an impact on my life than the more esoteric sciences I come into contact with at my day job at a large research university.

So it’s been a lot of fun following the “Google goggles” story. The development team at Google Labs recently posted a blog and video on “Project Glass,” their conceptual project to bring the visualized, social media-enabled, mobile Web to everyone via a pair of special glasses.

There’s the professional, dispassionate, level to the story, where tech experts hash out how likely this is, when it might arrive, how good it will be, and the many implications for personal privacy and the dangers of distracted multi-tasking.

But on the other hand, I can’t stop imagining how cool it might be to walk around campus, connecting to a synthesis of the physical world and the location-based Internet, enabling my stream of consciousness in a way I never dreamed of.

My reveries usually end when I recall how much I dislike seeing people walking around with a Bluetooth headset in their ear all day, and I think with a shudder, “don’t go there.” I think I’ll feel better once Google manages to get their goggles down to contact-lens size.

Follow me on Twitter at @charlesprimm.

Written by Charles Primm

April 7, 2012 at 3:21 pm

Social Media – Naughty or Nice?

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It’s a given that social media’s usage and influence have grown wildly beyond what anyone expected just a few years ago.

According to a report by Navneet Kaushal of PageTrafficBuzz, as of January 2012, Facebook by itself was the destination for nine percent of all online visits in the US, and twenty percent of all online page views.

That’s not counting Twitter, Google+, and the many other social media destinations available online.

What’s interesting to me, though, is not that social media is huge, but that’s it’s huge enough to have sparked a discussion of what it means to be social.

Blogger Steve Sonn writes that a growing number of individuals are using social media in an antisocial way, by brazenly self-promoting their business and their personal brand in a one-way direction, rather than being “open, transparent, helpful and engaging.”

I like this concept, because it says something about the aspirational nature of why we communicate in the first place, and why we all seek out communities in which we can grow and thrive.

On the other hand, just as the music world has room for punk rock, there are those who want to bring the same “smash ’em up” sensibility to social media.

This Chronicle of Higher Education story by Jeffrey R. Young highlights just such a rule-breaker: Dean Terry, the director of the emerging-media program at the University of Texas at Dallas, who is committing what he calls “social-media blasphemy” with his new Facebook plug-in, “EnemyGraph.”

The service lets Facebook users identify their “enemies,” which then appear in their profiles. The report states that Terry originally wanted to use the word “dislike,” but that word was specifically banned by Facebook, in order to maintain a positive atmosphere for its users.

This “blasphemy” may be a tongue-in-cheek rejection of the idea that being nice, kind, and positive is the best way to approach social media. But I think it has the potential to create a lot of damage. Practical jokes may seem funny in theory, but in reality, they’re just mean.

So while I’m generally in favor of a little rule-breaking now and then, when it comes to social media, I prefer playing nice.

Follow me on Twitter at @charlesprimm.

Written by Charles Primm

March 29, 2012 at 8:00 am

The “It” Social Network of 2012

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Pinterest logo

That’s what PR Daily’s Arik Hanson is calling Pinterest. Hanson’s recent post on “17 Pinterest stats to show your boss or client” include these fun facts:

  • Pinterest is driving more Web traffic than Google+, LinkedIn and MySpace combined.
  • In the US, 97 percent of Pinterest users are women. In the UK, 56 percent of users are men.
  • Tennesseans are among the top users of Pinterest in the US.
  • Pinterest’s user engagement rate is between twice and three times as much as the same point in Twitter’s development.

The (very interesting) list goes on, but you get the point. Pinterest has staked a claim to the imaginations and online hours of millions of people, and is growing at a phenomenal rate.

The addictive nature of the social media site has, perhaps inevitably, spawned “junkie” stories like this one from the Washington Post’s Petula Dvorak:

“I’ve made 17 attempts at writing this column in the past three days. The pattern is always the same: turn on the computer, log in to Pinterest and lose myself in the site’s churning cycle of interest, hope, inspiration, jealousy, desperation, despair and depression. Pinterest is the hottest new social-networking tool. And it’s digital crack for women.”

Since I am writing this on Mardi Gras, it might be fitting to note that, just as the New Orleans cops break up the Bourbon Street revelries at midnight on Fat Tuesday, Pinterest is in effect doing the same thing, taking away the punchbowl right when the party is getting good.

In this story from Mashable’s Joann Pan, Pinterest has released code that lets companies block their online content from being pinned to Pinterest users’ personal pinboards. The story notes that perhaps 99 percent of all pins on Pinterest violate its own terms of service, so in order to prevent being sued into bankruptcy, the company had to shut down the party somewhat, if it wants to stay in business in the future.

We’re only two months into 2012, but unless another social media site gets this big, this quickly, Pinterest gets my vote for the “it” network of the year.

Follow me on Twitter at @charlesprimm.

Written by Charles Primm

February 21, 2012 at 8:15 pm

Time is Money, and Vice Versa

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Among the many catchphrases attributed to inventor, publisher, diplomat and Founding Father Benjamin Franklin, one of my favorites is “time is money.”

The basic idea is that even though time is an abstract concept, it still has a real, concrete value. Usually, so the thinking goes, the more time you have, the better off you are.

Whole industries have arisen around time-saving products. The Franklin Planner time management system was reportedly based on Benjamin Franklin’s own personal system of keeping track of his days and his to-do lists. Smartphones now have time-management “apps,” and bloggers discuss topics such as the “5 simple web apps for saving time at work” and the “top 7 ways to save time on Twitter.”

Since humans do not (as of yet) have the power to lengthen the day, we all have the same 24 hours. So can we really “save” time? No. We are just shifting things around, doing less of one thing so that we can do more of another thing.

This is actually a wonderful development, because some actions are worth taking, while it is really, really nice to not have to do other things.

There is a great op-ed piece by Jon Barocas on Mashable.com that discusses the end of QR codes, the little black squares that you can scan with a smartphone and automatically navigate to a website or download other information.

The best part of the article is a YouTube video demonstration of Google Goggles, a potential successor to QR codes. Google Goggles is the search engine’s method of looking for information by taking pictures of something.

The reason I like the video is not so much because of the product demonstration, but because it illustrates how much of a time-saver the ubiquitous Web has become. Walking the streets of San Francisco, the narrator is able to access information that would have required the nearby presence of street maps, printed telephone books, library card catalogues, and old copies of Wine Speculator magazine. Yet he was able to get all of the relevant information streamed to his smartphone in time to have lunch.

So if “time is money,” the reverse is also true: “money is time.” If you have the money to afford a smartphone, you can use it to “buy” time that is then spent on lunch at some out-of-the-way Italian restaurant, rather than at the nearest library.

I am cautiously optimistic that Benjamin Franklin would approve.

Follow me on Twitter at @charlesprimm.

Written by Charles Primm

February 16, 2012 at 7:10 pm