Blog Archives

Are We Watching the World Flatten Out?

If you would have told me 10 years ago that Facebook would be providing footage of a UEFA Champions League quarterfinal match free of charge…

I would have thought you were crazy.

Earlier today, because a certain cable provider that has chosen to invest in rebranding, marketing and just about everything else except for quality, I was left with the option of following virtual text updates for the first leg of the UEFA Champions League game between Sevilla and Bayern Munich. Then, I had an idea. After the TV and ESPN app options provided a nil-nil result, I logged into Facebook. And there, before my eyes, one click away was the Fox Soccer Channel’s video and commentary feed of the aforementioned game via Facebook Live.

Simply incredible in more ways than one.

One: Social media has effectively entered some of the biggest sports broadcasting stadiums and games around the world in real-time, albeit at a seemingly small-scale at the moment.

Two: The Facebook Live video (with quality commentary) was/is free.

For a social networking platform that is rightfully being criticized for privacy issues, this is one positive story for Mark Zuckerberg’s company this week. While Facebook Live isn’t new, the Sevilla vs. Bayern Munich game earlier today highlights that–much like the communications industry–broadcasting sports games has entered a new phase that could prove to have good and bad consequences by flattening out through technological innovation.

Is the Pay-Per-View model slowly nearing the antiquated tech graveyard? How does cable TV respond concerning its sports packages if this isolated game, presumably available to fans (and Facebook users) around the country and the world, evolves into the rule and not the exception? Is this a good thing? A bad thing? Should there be some exclusive reward for purchasing/investing in premium cable channels and packages? How will (or does) privacy issues play into using Facebook Live, YouTube Live or similar streaming services while logged in as a user? How should we consume a variety of live television programs?

One thing I know for certain at this point is that I watched Bayern Munich score two critical away goals in a 2-1 win at Sevilla with an enjoyable post-game recap by a Fox Soccer Channel host and two analysts.

Lots of questions to ponder. So, round-and-round we’ll go.

Mark Z. Has Sent You a Friend Request

To enjoy the simpler things in life, one friend at a time…

Technology, regardless of its wireless capabilities, is tethered to us in ways that far exceed any normally perceived relationship between person and machine. This seemingly unrivaled dedication extends for all hours of the day and night, all occasions and all cognitive curiosities. Much like the glow of a smartphone, tablet or computer, technology’s light burns ever-so-brightly as it becomes a legitimate chore to resist its attractive intrigue and promise of brand new information through the evolving medium of social media.

Unless your name is Andy Samberg, apparently.

Helping someone out with settings on a computer is like helping someone move:

A true friend.

The Wisdom of the Garage

Public vs. Private.

This is a fiercely debated and complex issue that has a myriad of avenues to explore and a variety of micro and macro points to consider for in-depth analysis. Today, the focus will be centered on the latest example of this classic, everlasting battle of ideology and basic societal structure.

Speaking of putting ourselves into the right mindset…

Regarding ObamaCare, the people do have a fever of frustration and the only prescription appears to be increasingly less government.

The federal government, under President Obama, has had between 2-3 years to put together a website for his signature achievement…in the 21st century…in the year 2013.

Now, healthcare is recommended to be dealt with over the phone by the government.

Can’t imagine any problems or scams there. In a related story, Nigerian princes are discovered to be very happy this week.

Aside from fact that the policy of the law is unequivocally flawed, bad, unworkable, unsustainable and unfair, let’s focus on the website. Consider that Facebook (“thefacebook” back then) was digitally built by a group of college students (granted, from Harvard) that took user’s information and compiled a personal profile for them that was capable of being viewed, updated, shared and commented on by his or her friends with seemingly no limit on activity.

It worked.

Why?

Put simply, the founders and builders of “thefacebook” had the market incentive to create the best product because of the competitive landscape in social networks. They had to be the best for survival’s sake. Therefore, the company had to recruit the best talent with the skill-set to continually innovate and improve their product for the public and, most importantly, their voluntary members. Money had to be allocated prudently and the business decisions required great intelligence and foresight.

In the private marketplace, you have to be the best or you will very likely fail and go out of business. For many, that is the bottom line and the daily reality.

Conversely, in government, there is no such marketplace. Money is provided, which is usually bloated beyond belief. Correction: The public’s/our money is provided to the government contractors and is bloated beyond belief. Even still, the transaction is done so through a maze of red tape and is absent any competitor, let alone several. The public sector is not conducive to consistently producing high quality and innovation influenced by a variety of critical market incentives, pressures and rewards.

“Our team is bringing in some of the best and brightest from both inside and outside government to scrub in with the team and help improve HealthCare.gov.” As reported yesterday by Washington Post columnist Ezra Klein, the aforementioned statement was a weekend notice from the Department of Health and Human Services.

The obvious question: Why weren’t the best and brightest brought in in the first place?

The obvious answer: The best and brightest don’t work in the government.

Silicon Valley is the hub of technological genius in the United States and even around the world. This is one of the places where the best and brightest work. Freedom to imagine is coupled with personal responsibility and monetary limitations, which creates the atmosphere for ingenuity and potentially terrific outcomes. Contemplate how many successful start-ups and society-altering companies were born in garages (Apple, HP) and small offices just outside San Francisco.

People in a garage with nothing more than a crazy, outlandish dream and a little business savvy have established a better and a more cognitive environment than the hundreds of millions of dollars the federal government doled out for the new healthcare.gov website that had years to be constructed.

If Apple or Google had premiered like this, there would be no Apple or Google today.

Actually, that’s not true.

Apple and Google never would have concocted, put together and premiered such an unworkable and fiscally unsustainable disaster for the public.

That’s the lesson from the best and the brightest.

The Next Social Experience

The million dollar question (actually, more like the billion dollar question) is what will fill the social media void currently occupied by Facebook, Twitter and the like?

My guess is something oddly familiar.

An entirely new hangout was digitally created with a Gatsby-sized guest list, grand fireworks and overall glamorous party atmosphere. Facebook (or thefacebook.com) gained in popularity while subconsciously entering into the psyche of college students everywhere. It became a function of life. Before or after class, you checked Facebook. Nearly a decade later though, twenty-somethings are searching for and accepting résumés for the newest “social space.”

While Facebook is still relevant and useful, the next “big thing” should be getting packaged and preparing for delivery to the public within a year or so. It’s time. Literally.

The recent scandal and revelations about the NSA and IRS should have an effect on the digital generation/Millennials and prompt a new space to emerge that is less adept and capable at tracking and collecting valuable information. Unfortunately, we may all live in a world that is irreversibly “on the grid.” As a result, one of the goals should be to limit the reach of this “grid” and reveal as little as possible while still living life fluidly.

Say there is an event being held somewhere (like at a theater downtown, a restaurant, a wine and cheese bar, etc.) and the organizers want to advertise this happening. What if there was a readily-available and easily operated application whose sole purpose was to 1. spread news quickly far and wide and 2. tally the number of people attending.

No personal profile. No personal pictures. No personal information.

Instead, any personal information would be divulged at your discretion. For example, any limited disclosure of personal information would result from an interesting conversation you have with someone from across the room who struck your fancy. Maybe you showed him or her a funny picture from your phone. Perhaps you tell them you finished a major paper and are out celebrating.

It’s up to you.

The App will be called, “RSVP.”

This App is meant to encourage a gathering of people for social events, sometimes spur of the moment celebrations (by sponsored, well-known and trusted organizations). Could be an “underground” concert at a popular concert hall/room, an after-hours wine and cheese tasting at a chic wine bar, a themed outdoor party (ie-“The Great Gatsby”), a special art gallery reveal or a viewing party with a major projection screen showing the game(s) during a prominent soccer tournament with mini-fields to play on with friends and fellow event-goers. These are only a few examples.

Unlike previous social media, the social interactions with “RSVP” are made in-person and information is revealed at each person’s pleasing. No secret digital monitoring or information gathering. There are other App’s with this premise in mind, except they are much more extravagant and include significantly more information than I’m proposing. For my App, the organizers, not the participants, would post any relevant pictures or information.

Here’s how it works: Participant X buys the App and when an App-approved Event Organizer Y posts a new event, Person X is notified with a number that pops up next to the App.

The primary purpose of “RSVP” is to serve as a basic, yet effective, tool to spread the word to get people to a fun event.

That’s it. Just RSVP.