Monthly Archives: July 2013

Matt Mullenweg

18.9% of the web powered by WordPress but danger lies ahead

Matt Mullenweg
18.9 percent of the Web powered by WordPress says Matt Mullenweg

WordPress continues its climb as the leading free CMS on the Web today as outlined by Automattic founder Matt Mullenweg in his keynote address at this past weekend’s  WordCamp San Francisco conference. Mullenweg says that the blogging platform is now powering 18.9 percent of the Web, a 2.2 point increase from 2012. WordPress’s evolution as a CMS will continue to be influenced by the habits of its users and developers. Matt made mention of the T.A.R.I phenomenon. T.A.R.I. is a theory outlined by Nir Eyal, author, speaker, and consultant, who provided a most stimulating presentation at WordPress Camp 2012 on the subject of how to automate the habits of customers.

Matt began by referencing the Indiana University study published last year that showed 89% of the 290 undergraduates sampled experience a phantom vibration and they experienced them about once every two weeks, on average. The findings suggested “that targeting individuals’ emotional reactions to text messages might be helpful in combating the negative consequences of both text message dependency and phantom vibrations.” The studies have gone so far as to pick out two personality traits that correlate with these factors: extraversion and neuroticism. Extraverts tend to check their phones more because because staying in touch with friends is a big part of their lives. Neurotics worry  more about the status of their relationships—while they may not get as many text messages, they care a lot about what they say.

Trigger, Action, Reward, & Investment

T.A.R.I. stands for trigger, action, reward, and investment. A trigger can be external, like a phone buzzing, or receiving a text message or email notification. An internal trigger is an emotional feeling, a state of being similar to being bored, lonely, or hungry. A trigger causes an action. For example, if you’re lonely, you might hop on Facebook. The more emotional significance you attach to whatever is causing your trigger, say your phone buzzing, the more likely you are to experience it. Hence the Indiana University study showing how students can feel a trigger happening even if it hasn’t happened. When a trigger hits you, it’s akin to dopamine instantly rewarding you. But it’s the anticipation of the reward that kicks off the dopamine to begin with. When you actually receive the reward our dopamine levels drop off and we are not left as satiated. Investment is an attribute that nearly everyone aspires towards. It is about making something your own. When you work on a project you are far more attached to it. Although we tend to overvalue our own work in comparison to how the rest of the world views it. Rewards are most effective when they are intermittent.

For Mullenweg, its the habits, loops, and triggers that all WordPress users fall under, in one way or another. What are hooks for them? How can WordPress hook a user? Have an idea, that’s a trigger. You publish and then you get feedback, that’s the reward. Investment is the time you put into it. Constraints breed creativity. The reader, stats, ego feeder, notifications, these are all triggers, and as these features get better, users of WP will grow exponentially. Mullenweg says that he’s seeing the evolution of the blogging platform change from simply being about posting thoughts, but moving to being a CMS and ultimately an app platform.

B.J. Fogg discusses hot triggers

I interviewed B.J. Fogg back in 2011 about his behavior model. BJ Fogg believes that companies must put hot triggers in the path of motivated people in order to effectively compete in the consumer space. BJ studies the growth of Facebook and how the application uses triggers to influence the behavior of its users. BJ also discusses the impact of mobile on society and how it will become the dominant tool to influence human behavior.

 

 

 

ReKognition

Mobile Monday Accelerator Program provides fresh meat for industry

Mario Tapia, chief organizer of the Momentum Mobile Accelerator Demo Day
Mario Tapia, chief organizer of the Momentum Mobile Accelerator Demo Day

Thanks to the magnanimity of Mario Tapia, mobile industry veteran and chief organizer of the Mobile Monday Silicon Valley Meetup, I was able to attend the most recent Momentum Mobile Accelerator Demo day. For the uninitiated, the Mobile Monday Accelerator Program is a twelve-week program that works to accelerate those businesses seeking to spur innovation and develop deeper relationships with the mobile industry. Applications are now open for Spring 2013 for those startups in need of a booster shot. Four startups in various stages of their development presented at Swissnex in downtown San Francisco. They included: Fiverun, Locomizer, Orbeus, and PocketMath. I’m only going to highlight two, and that’s because I thought they were particular compelling.

 

Fiverun CEO Fabian Oliva
Fiverun CEO Fabian Oliva

 

Fiverun – to save the Brick & Mortar from extinction

First up was Fiverun, which was selected as a finalist for Seedcamp earlier this month. Fiverun’s slogan speaks for itself: “The Apple Store Experience for brick & mortar retailers.” Fiverun CEO and Co-founder Fabian Oliva made a very convincing presentation zeroing in on the main problem of why Fiverun was created to begin with: Brick & Mortar retail is dying a painful death and losing out big time to online shoppers. Each time a prospective customer walks into a brick & mortar store they run into the problem of not being able to buy what they can’t see. When the sales rep explains that the product they are looking for is sold online they’ve just lost their customer. Fiverun seeks to arm sales reps with their own tablet solution called FastQueue. FastQueue can assist sales reps to help customers with an online purchase. The app reduces wait time and customer frustration by providing a quicker shopping experience and faster checkout time. You can link transactions to a specific customer. Convenient! Although FastQueue is currently only available for iPads with iOS 5.1 or above, according to its website, Fiverun is quickly expanding to support iPhones and Android devices. Fiverun also created Showcase, a “social catalog for retailers,” which is their app that allows retailers to showcase their products online and allows for customer in-store feedback.

As an enterprise SaaS solution for large retailers, Fabian said Fiverun has already signed up customers like Macy’s and Moss (out of the UK) and customers that are eager to try out Fiverun include Verizon and Home Depot. 1.5 million retail stores make up Fiverun’s target market and pricing for their solution is per sales associate. Fiverun is competing with the likes of SAP, IBM, and NCR when it comes to consumer transaction technology. Fabian mentioned, however, that it has created its own proprietary solution called Citrus, which synchronizes with popular POS systems. All in all, Fabian gave an excellent presentation and if the brick & mortar retail industry wants to survive, it should look to innovative startups like Fiverun.

Orbeus CEO NingXu
Orbeus CEO Ning Xu

 A visual recognition company looking to make sense out of metadata

What is a “computer vision company,” you ask? I too wondered and now I have my answer. Orbeus describes itself as a product that helps computers “see better” than humans. What does that mean? CEO Ning Xu put it this way. YouTube gets uploads of more than 72 hours worth of video every minute; 350 million + photos get uploaded to Facebook daily. The amount of metadata has become so gargantuan in size that no computer can properly understand it. Case in point. Ning provided an example showing text ads promoting meat being served on a Facebook vegetarian profile.

According to Ning, the market is at its inflection point. Meaning:

Demand

  • There’s an explosion of online photo and video content
  • Rapid growth of smart devices with cameras
  • Growing needs for big data analytics

Supply

  • Improving computer vision algorithms
  • Increasing connectivity of devices
  • Increasing computing power in the cloud

Now is the perfect time for ReKognition, which is Orbeus’s own proprietary API platform that can identify the content of a photo or video. ReKognition is available for companies who want to use the technology to improve its own abilities at identifying content such as a face, a scene, a body gesture, or even a logo.

ReKognition technology
ReKognition technology showing how its API can detect a company’s brand logo in a video when it’s barely visible by the human eye

 

For now, Orbeus has created its own ReKoGlass SDK offering APIs face detection, face reading, and scene understanding without revealing any personal identity information. The idea of computers “seeing better” than humans gave me something of the heebie geebies. I mean it sounded sort of like a Blade Runner or Minority Report technology of sorts. Recall this scene of personal advertising with Tom Cruise?

Not exactly the same thing but knowing that a computer can “see you better” just invites this kind of comparison (IMO). Orbeus closed a seed round of 1.1 million back in June and will shortly add 300K to its war chest, according to Ning. Orbeus currently has 30 paying customers. The company offers a “freemium” model allowing companies to eventually pay for the API if and when they decide to use it for their own creations. Among milestones achieved to date, Ning said Orbeus has launched its API platform version 2 along with a new UI design. Currently 3 million pics are being uploaded to its engine in the cloud every day, according to Ning.

There you have it. My favorite presentations from the Mobile Monday Accelerator Demo Day.

Share your thoughts on either of these two startups?

 

iPhone

iPhone slays photographer! Extra, Extra, read all about it!

iPhone
iPhone

iPhone replaces Chicago Sun-Times photography staff

Back in May, The Chicago Sun-Times axed its entire staff of 28 photographers, including a Pulitzer Prize winning photojournalist. Sun-Times reporters began immediate mandatory training on “iPhone photography basics.” The Sun-Times was bleeding too much financially and cutting its photographic expertise was the easiest thing to do. So there you have it. We’re seeing the end of professional photography, as we once knew it, the beginnings of an “anyone can do it” photography industry, and a continued skyrocketing of the “Free” business model.

The demise of professional photography

Back in the pre-Internet era, professionals could only produce the pictures that could sell newspapers. Black & White or color, photographic specialists were needed in both realms to attract the eyeballs necessary to help boost a newspaper’s circulation. While it was Eastman Kodak engineer Steven Sasson who first invented the digital camera back in 1975, it was not until 2001 when digital cameras were first mass-marketed to the general consumer with a then eye grabbing 4 megapixel technology. Flash forward to 2007 and Steve Jobs announcement of the very first iPhone with its 2.0 megapixel image technology. These developments helped to diminish the value of a professional photographer’s skills.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, photographers currently hold just over 61,000 jobs in the U.S. This in stark contrast when back in 2002, more than 130,000 photographers held jobs in the U.S. Over half of all photographers are now self-employed. Photography as a profession, however, is still projected to grow by 13 percent from 2010 to 2020. And the #1 culprit upending traditional photography practices? Technology.

Amateurs are the new professionals

Recognizing the intelligence, capabilities, and expertise of others was traditionally a hallmark of a wise individual. Today this model applies less and less. “Anyone can do your job” is today’s operating mantra. Building up a level of expertise over time becomes devaluated by technology’s constant evolution in making the complicated simpler. Digital photography is no exception. The “point and shoot” camera is becoming slowly irrelevant given the continued advancements in iPhone (and Android) image resolution. The iPhone 5 now delivers 8 megapixels worth of resolution providing an even greater level of detail, certainly more than satisfactory for the average user uploading images to their preferred social media channel.  Given the precipitous decline in print newspapers, the digital journalists of today are becoming iPhone photographers generating visual content for their paper’s website.

It’s a free, free, free, free world!

The Chicago Sun-Times rid themselves of their full-time photographers and in exchange they purchased iPhones enabling it to produce photography for much less. It follows a consistent business model of choosing what is cheaper or even free to avoid anything that costs more money. CNN fired 50 of its staff less than two years ago, including a dozen photojournalists, citing “Small cameras are now high broadcast quality. More of this technology is in the hands of more people. After completing this analysis, CNN determined that some photojournalists will be departing the company.”

It’s easy to malign the iPhone and its impact on the photojournalist profession. But for all you iPhone fanatics, snapping pics and uploading them by the thousands to Facebook or Instagram, it has actually done wonders in catering to your insatiable demand for convenience and improved photo quality. If anything, every one of you now reading this post is more interested in photography now than you ever thought imaginable. Matter of fact, some of you are salivating at the thought of mobile DSLR, which is now pushing the envelope of cellular photographic technology by the likes of Nokia and Sony.

iPhone forever alters consumer photography habits

In the end, for better or for worse, the iPhone has permanently changed the way consumers both view and take photos.  Today’s photojournalists must face the grim reality of newspapers continuing to cut costs and further equipping their news staff with mobile phones to take the photos that were once their specialty.  What’s a photojournalist to do? Former Chicago Sun-Times photographer Rob Hart has been documenting his life with an iPhone as a way to both “mock his situation and celebrate it.” But it’s only through training that a photojournalist does what many do with limited expertise and that’s tell a story. It is not a skill that comes naturally for most. But if you want to laugh out loud at the demise of the photojournalistic profession than by all means share some yucks with Stephen Colbert who lampooned the Sun-Times for its actions and also provided plenty of satire about today’s digital image saturated society.

BuzzFeed produced a video called What Happens On The Internet in 60 Seconds. According to the video, 27,800 photos are uploaded to Instagram every minute.  Facebook users upload 208, 300 photos every minute. Nokia Executive Vice President Jo Harlow says 1.4 billion photos are taken every day with mobile phones.

Yahoo! estimates that by 2014 more than 880 billion photos will be taken, and if one of those images happen to be yours, and not of sufficient high quality, no one will waste their time viewing it. iPhone technology continues to boost image quality and consumers seem pleased.

Just how important is mobile imagery for you?

Rakesh tries out the PSiO 1.1

Blogging 101: Insights to capture the hearts and minds of your readers

Murray Newlands moderates blogging panel
Murray Newlands moderates blogging panel: To his right are: John Rampton, SEJ, Alexey Semeney, AtContent, and Rohit Vashisht, Sverve

Reach new readership and control your content

Remember, above all else, in order to grow your blog, increase organic traffic, and expand readership, you must share, share, and share again your content! That was the overriding theme of the recent Social Media Marketing Monitoring Engagement Meetup held at the Microsoft store in downtown San Francisco.

Last week I provided a summary of Tiffany Jones Brown’s presentation on how Pinterest creates its unique voice. This time I want to recap the main themes espoused by the blogger rockstars on this particular presentation. To begin, Murray Newlands moderated the panel. Murray advises various UK and American companies on their social media marketing. John Rampton, Managing editor at Search Engine Journal (SEJ), Alexey Semeney, CEO at AtContent, a blogging platform that displays bloggers’ content on other websites, and Rohit Vashisht, CEO at Sverve rounded off the list of speakers.

Find your niche!

If you’re going to develop a blog, find your niche. Rampton made it clear that even though he writes and edits for a site that gets more than 500,000 uniques a month, it’s still in the site’s interest to engage their readership by offering guest blog posts. Rampton said SEJ allows up to 30 guest blog posts a day on its site. By featuring guest posts, the site is able to continually feature fresh content and attract new readership. Murray encouraged new bloggers to invite guest bloggers to post on their blog.

Produce less and share more!

Rahit stressed that bloggers should be producing less content and sharing more of what they’ve already created. Because of the plentiful social media channels in existence today such as Google +, Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, StumbleUpon (to name but a fraction), bloggers can easily share and spread their content far and wide. In doing so, they increase their level of visibility and more easily find their niche audience.

Optimize your content

SEO and the optimization of content! Rahit made sure to include SEO and optimization as essential components in every blogger’s toolset. If you’re not using Google +, for example, you risk getting alienated by Google itself and your post won’t rank as well. If you haven’t created a google authorship profile for yourself, do so now.

Identify trends to take advantage of

When it comes to producing content, you should get good at identifying trends. Rampton said he relies primarily on his own personal network when it comes to identifying scoops like when he broke the story that Digg was delisted by Google.

Your personal networks on Twitter and/or Facebook are excellent sources for trending topics but you can still use Google Trends to help you identify what keywords people are searching for on the Web as well. Rampton made it clear, however, you can’t beat a personal network of friends and associates who share your particular interest and can tip you off at any time.

How to handle copyright violations

A person in the audience asked about copyright and how to prevent scrapers from stealing your content. Alexey said any violation of copyright is a problem of technology and his company, AtContent, is one solution (it helps to distribute content without content duplication and provides backlinks) but just as important is to always insert a link to your article within your blog. That way you at least get that backlink in the event your post is stolen and featured somewhere else.

How to overcome blog topic fatigue

But what if you make the decision to blog about a topic that’s already been blogged about by hundreds if not thousands of times already? Newlands came to the rescue by suggesting you look for arguments or differences in perspective among the blog posts already featured and bingo, you can find a new avenue or approach towards the same topic.  Newlands recommends taking screenshots of arguments or differences in opinion “in action” and use them when crafting your next blog post.

Another great suggestion from Newlands was to identify the moment that any influential blogger is about to release something important or significant, in the form of an eBook or video, for example. If you follow that influential blogger carefully, you can time it just right by asking if they would consider promoting their eBook or video on your blog.

Stalk your favorite blogger

Finally, if you’re looking for your next juicy blog post and seemed tapped out on just what exactly new and original to say next, go stalk a blogger you respect. Timothy Ferris, famous author of the Four-Hour workweek book series did this to perfection by attending numerous conferences and meeting with the bloggers he wanted to get to know. Rampton said once you’ve stalked your blogger, politely introduce yourself and establish a relationship. Once the blogger feels comfortable getting to know you, go ahead and ask if it would be possible to feature an interview with him or her, or just feature a guest post on your blog.

There you have it!  A fun-filled session for all, including for this fine young gentleman named Rakesh.

Rakesh tries out the PSiO 1.1
Rakesh tries out the PSiO 1.1

 

Rakesh works for Locationlabs and blogs at Code4reference.com and was trying out a funky gizmo by Psioplanet.com called the PSiO 1.1. This looks exactly like what more of the overworked workers of the world should be doing. Zoning out and recharging their batteries at the same time!

Please share this blog post with your friends and followers. Thanks!

 

 

obnoxious employer

How NOT to write a job description-obnoxious employer job listings

obnoxious employer
The obnoxious employer

Job descriptions that make you cringe

To attract top talent means carefully crafting a job description that maps out as closely as possible to the type of employee desired. Type in “how to write a job description” in Google and you’ll get more than a million search results telling you just what to do.

If you don’t want to search for your answer, try watching  linkfarm eHow’s perfunctory video presentation on the very same topic:

But what the vast majority of these job description posts are missing is exactly what’s prompting me to blog today.  Yes, I’m griping and I’m asking my readers to read this gripe with just a pinch of sympathy. I can visit a job board and find some of the most obnoxious job descriptions I’ve ever come across. Why is it that employers feel they can advertise a position using the descriptors that they do escapes me. Let’s dive in to a few examples.

Case study #1

I won’t malign the agency itself that listed this job (hence I won’t name it) but I came across this posting for a “manager editor of content” position. The advertisement starts off with the fairly standard “primary activities and responsibilities, ” then moves on to qualifications, and then here’s the kicker, it includes a description that reads:

Things We Are Not Looking For:

Fun haters

Idea Crushers/Creativity Killers

Mediocrity

People who say “Good enough”

Tech Haters

Naysayers

Blamers

What is your reaction to inclusion of such editorial in a job description?  Does this make you want to send off your resume and boldly claim that yes, I’m not a fun hater; I’m not a naysayer, I’m not a blamer; I’m not someone who says “good enough;” I’m not someone who accepts “mediocrity;” I’m not someone who is an “idea crusher/creative killer.” NOT.

I read this post and I wanted to puke. I could be wrong. Maybe this agency has a sense of humor that I’m just not getting. After all, we are not automatons, yes? We are human. We have feelings and emotions that stir within us every day. Maybe I should be jumping up and down with enthusiasm at finding a job that feels exactly the way I do. Yes, I hate blamers and naysayers and tech haters. I’m intolerant to mediocrity and fun haters. I’ve found the perfect position for me. Yup, this is the one. NOT.

Case study #2

This full-service digital agency is badly in need of a contract copywriter. Just how bad?

Let’s review the job description bullet points:

We need you to:

–       be very creative. to the point of being a little weird.

–        be really thorough. any materials sent with typos or grammar errors will be printed out

         and laughed at in the office.

–        question everything

–        write copy. surprised?

–        Be fun

–        be S-M-R-T

Now let me be the first to say I have not worked at an advertising agency. I am aware of just how stressful and hellish the environment is. A sense of humor can go a long way in establishing just how well you will do in this particular work setting. Perhaps all ad agency worker bees would find this job description funny because all ad pros share this type of mentality. Still, I can’t help but be annoyed by this type of job posting.

There you have it. Just two case studies. I come across these types of job descriptions fairly regularly.  I guess these types of descriptions work because the employer finds their lucky new hire in this fashion.

Have you come across what you believe to be obnoxious job descriptions?  Please share.