How Geo Technology Can Be Used for Control

Photo cred: Jose Maria Cuellar

“Technology … is a queer thing. It brings you great gifts with one hand, and it stabs you in the back with the other.”

~C.P. Snow, New York Times, 15 March 1971

Check in sites like foursquare and gowalla are taking the web by storm. The concept of sharing your location with others would never have made it a few years ago. Today, people are literally racing to check in the most.

It’s a game! It’s fun. You check in, earn badges, compete against your friends and others, and if you’re the best there may even be physical rewards waiting for you.

Awesome. I love it. Privacy has changed and we need to accept that. Just enjoy the new technology!

I want to pose a different situation though. One where instead of checking into locations for fun, it becomes a requirement.

It can start with society’s establishments that utilize control today. Parents, teachers, coaches etc…

  • Can a coach use foursquare to make sure his players are going to the gym to work out?
  • Can a teacher user Gowalla to see if their students are in the library the night before a test or out drinking? Can they require that you check in instead of taking attendance?  Perhaps they need to attend a play outside of class and the teacher requires they check in when they get there.
  • Can a parent know every place that their kid goes to by making them check in where ever they go?
  • Can the police track convicts who are out on parole?

Take it a step further and look at geo-fencing.  The concept behind geo-fencing is pretty simple; areas are separated by “fences”.  When you cross a fence, your mobile device can automatically receive or send out a notification.  It can also automatically check in.  This way, others can know when you enter, and when you leave a location.

Apparently, parents are already using this to see when their kids leave school.  As soon as they cross the fence around their school, their parents can receive a notification.

Mix geofencing with rfid technology, and you can come up with some crazy stuff.  My friend Alex Tan gives a great example:

“Imagine my refrigerator knowing that my rfid tagged milk was just thrown away, syncing to the cloud and telling my mobile device about my updated shopping list. Then when i get to the store, using geo-fencing, it launches an app to tell me what I need to buy and where it is in the store.”

This IS the future.  The potential to use these technologies to enhance our daily lives is immense.  But the potential to control out daily lives is equally immense.

What if, instead of using technologies ability to track everything in your life for fun, or for utility, it was used by  an entity that had authority over you?  With RFID’s, you won’t even need to have a smart phone.  Anything can be tagged.  RFIDs can be implanted in people.  What if police implanted these chips in criminals?

My point isn’t to come across as one of those “Big Brother is coming” freaks.  Rather, it’s to get you to think about the technology you’re using today and realize its potential.  Realize it’s capacity for entertainment and utility, but also its capacity for other things…for less benevolent things.

When control isn’t in our hands, how will geo technology be used?

8 Privacy Observations: All Your “Surface Information” are Belong to Us

Photo cred: Frog Design

Woah…Are you crazy bro? You’re going to check in?! But, everyone will know where you are! What if they want to rape or rob or…omg… what if there’s a creepy stalker dude just following you everywhere taking pictures to use in internet sex pornos?!

…wait, you don’t care?

1. “Surface information” is public property.

To this point, we’ve known privacy to mean that ONLY the people that we choose to bring in, will know things like your middle name, your location, the things you like, the things you hate, where you go at night, and who “it’s complicated” with…

We’ll call this “surface information“.  Surface information is the demographics of an individual.  It’s the type of stuff you add to your facebook profile.  If you’re still holding on to that information like it’s the key to your humanity…give up.

This information is no longer private. Privacy as we knew it is dead.

2. The kids and their rap music.

Think millenials are the ones changing the concept of privacy? Just wait…  Millenials’ children will have an entirely different view of privacy.  They’ll know the “innovative” platforms of today as the norm.  They’ll be raised with the understanding that their surface information is not their own but rather that of their networks.

There is a clear human need to share and connect that, with social sites like facebook and twitter, has knocked our previous perception of privacy and interaction on its ass.  I’ve witnessed this transformation throughout my life.  I can only imagine what’s in store for my kids…although if I have a daughter, she’s going to be locked in her room until she’s 18 and all tweets will have to be approved.

3.  The tools are coming.

So now that we know people love to share stuff, and connect with people based on the stuff they share, we will continue to build tools that allow for this human need to flourish.

As more tools are created to connect people and share information, more people will connect, and more information will be openly shared.

Foursquare is a new generation of technology that allows people to share information.

And it won’t stop there.  An interesting new startup was born out of Startup Weekend NYC recently.  It’s called Data Dough, and it allows people to “Take back the CASH companies like facebook and twitter make off of YOUR data!”.  People already love to share useless shit about themselves.  Imagine if they could actually make money by doing so…  Privacy what?

4. Businesses are starting to see the value in social platforms.

This means they’re more willing to pay to reach people on social platforms.  This means social platforms are more willing to sell your information.

When facebook made some this stuff automatically public, people had a fucking conniption. It was the end of the world. Our sacred information was just out there for anyone to have their way with.

Thing is, this information really isn’t worth much to us and is no longer considered worthy of hiding. In fact, we want people to know this stuff. We want others to know who we know, who we hang out with and as much of this “surface level” information as possible.

It actually makes our lives better when businesses know our tastes.  I can stop getting shitty ads about losing 50 pounds in 5 days and start getting more shitty ads about getting 20000 twitter followers in 15 minutes.  Much more targeted.

5. It’s not up to you.

You can try your best to control all of your surface information.  Unfortunately, we’re in an age where information is very often, crowdsourced.  That means that if you don’t post up pictures of yourself, someone else will. Anything you do or say in public is fair game on the social web.  So  unless you want to live like a hermit, you’re probably just going to have to accept it.

6. Augmented reality + facial recognition = everyone knows everyone at the surface.

Check out the image at the top of this post and the other sweet designs that Frog design came up with for augmented reality in our day-to-day lives.  Now realize, that the technology already exists, and this is not too far away.  The potential implications are vast, and will undoubtedly, redefine our perception of privacy in the next 10 years.

7. But don’t worry, you’re relatively safe.

As  documentation technology becomes increasingly engrained in society, the ability to do evil without being caught decreases greatly.  There are more eyes watching you so it’s harder to commit crimes without being seen.  More eyes watching means more information can be safely shared.

Try mugging someone in a major city and running away.  You’ll be more evidentially fucked than BP on earth day.

8. Real secrets are still yours to keep…even more so!

Privacy is becoming black and white. Some things you share with everyone, and other things you share with no one.  That means that the information you hold near and dear to your heart are more safe than ever.

Why?

People think that because they know your surface information, that they know who you are.  People are lazy, and so if they can convince themselves that they know everything about a person from checking their facebook page and a quick google search, they won’t dig much deeper.

That’s all I got.  You might disagree but it’s a clear trend in my eyes.  What are your thoughts? …or are you keeping them a secret?  Smart ass.

Don’t Hire a Community Manager for Their Network

Photo cred: Paul Walsh

I’m not going to get into the debate about the definition of a “community manager”. For the sake of this post, lets consider it someone who’s job is to product content for an audience, interact with that audience, and take care of the internal community.

There’s a trend in who’s being hired as community managers. They’re usually young, they “omg love love love” social media, they’re already active in the company’s target market and they have already established a large network.

I’m going to talk about the last part.

Now I understand why having an established network can seem appealing to a company. Let me address some of the assumptions that I see pretty often.

“If they can build a strong network around their personal brand, they can do the same for our brand.”

  • No. Well, maybe… Building a personal network is very different from building a company’s brand. The core difference is the motivation.  You don’t have a boss demanding that you show results when you’re building a personal brand. You’re not doing it for anyone but yourself.
  • “By hiring this person, we automatically get their network to become part of our community”

  • No. Well, maybe… Sure, since the person you’re hiring is passionate about your company, they’ll want to share it with their network. They can’t just automatically convert their friends into fans of your brand though. Their network might be an “in” for your brand, but it will have little long term value for you if the person doesn’t give their network (and the rest of the brand’s audience) something to share and support (aka they don’t do their job well).
  • “But their network supports them so much now. They think the world of them!”

  • That could certainly be a good sign. It could also be a sign that this person is reliant on their network to get things done. “Community management” isn’t calling in favors to your friends. It takes a lot more business knowledge.
  • “They speak at a ton of events! Now they can go talk about our company at those events”

  • No, well sort of. They can’t just go up and talk about your brand the whole time. It will however, bring great credibility to your brand as they’ll be representing you, as an “expert” voice in the field. I’m sure they’ll slip a couple plugs in there too. Just don’t think that you can replace their usual content with information about your brand.
  • There are just a few of the common misconceptions about the value in hiring a community manager with a big network. Remember, you’re hiring for a position that requires as much business know-how as it does “social” know-how.

    Having a large network is a good sign that the person knows how to connect with people, and that they’re committed to their career.  If you hire a community manager strictly for their popularity however, you’re making a heavy investment for a very short-term gain.

    Are YOU on the Bandwagon? (via For the LOVE of PR!☮)

    Trying out the new wordpress Reblog feature. What do you think?

    Is this feature a good move on wordpress’ part?  You can read more about the new wordpress.com features here.

    Are YOU on the Bandwagon? Social Media is on the rise, and boy has it risen above most others. It is very obvious that people are obsessed with this new fad and it is not stopping anytime soon. This past week as I participated in various chats on Twitter (#SMMackChat, #u30pro , #blogchat ) I realized that a lot of people tweet about social media while using social media. Yes, I have obviously jumped on the social media … Read More

    via For the LOVE of PR!☮

    Join the Discussion: Building your Network vs. Enhancing Current Relationships

    Photo cred: D. Sharon Pruitt

    One year ago, I was just graduating college.  I had only really been networking for a few months, so it was still very new to me.

    Every day, I’d meet someone new, who would introduce me to someone else, and so on…  Before I knew it, I had a healthy sized network of trusted professionals that I could turn to.  Many of them have became close friends over time.  Others not so much.

    The problem is that all connections, even those connections that you have become so close with, can fall out of touch over time.  There are a number of reasons for this happening…

    1. We all have jobs to do which means less time to “catch up”.
    2. As our networks grow, we can’t commit as much time to keeping up with current connections.
    3. The worst reason but one that needs to be addressed: You just don’t need those people as much as you used to.
    4. Sometimes you just go different ways.  It happens with friends too.

    It happens, but I don’t like it.  I feel terrible some days when I see someone cross my twitter feed and realize how long it’s been since I’ve spoken to them.

    I understand that it happens…but I also feel like I can do more to enhance my current connections, instead of focusing only on expanding my network.

    Have you faced this dilemna?  Please, share your thoughts in a comment.

    You can also join us for a full discussion on this topic at the #u30pro chat on Thursday (May 27th) at 8pm est on twitter.

    8 Too Many Responsibilities of a Community Manager

    Photo cred: Thomas Hawk

    Community Manager.

    It’s a title that didn’t exist a few years ago.  Now, in 2010, every business and their mother has one.

    …but what is a “community manager”.  Everyone seems to have a different perspective on the responsibilities of a community manager.

    Here’s your (shitty) answer: It’s a broad term.

    …and the problem is that so often, since the responsibilities aren’t clearly defined, they are ALL expected.  Then community managers end up having to answer for 7 full time jobs worth of results.

    A title “community manager” can be broken down into countless other titles.  But since titles don’t actually mean anything (I make up a new one for myself every day), I’ll list out the some of the possible responsibilities that a community manager could have.  They might do one of these things.  They might do 3.  I hope, for their sake, they aren’t responsible for all of them.

    Let me know if I forget any:

    1. Customer Service. Responding to customer complaints wherever they may occur.
    2. PR. Announcing new developments, responding to crisis, seeking media coverage, etc…
    3. Marketing. Improving brand recognition, launching contests, sharing content and media etc…
    4. Evangelist. Loving the crap out of your brand…in public.
    5. Content producer. Writing blog posts, creating videos, conducting interviews, tweeting, all that good stuff.
    6. Business development. Establishing partnerships, creating leads for the sales team to follow up on.
    7. Spokesperson. Attends and speaks at events.  “The face” of your company.
    8. Event planner. Hosts events and builds a community through offline interactions.

    Don’t make the mistake of hiring a community manager because “everyone else has one”.  Know which specific responsibilities you need handled, and hire accordingly.

    Then you can call them your “community manager”, or your “social media mega magician-ator” or whatever you want.

    Good luck,

    David

    Chief Juggling Officer, Scribnia.com

    Recap: PRSA Digital Impact Conference Day 2

    As promised, here is the recap of Day 2, of the PRSA Digital Impact Conference in NY this week.  I was invited to cover the 2 day conference, and was happy to join the discussion with all the bright and interesting professionals that it brought together.

    Unfortunately, I missed Jennifer Preston’s talk but fortunately for you, Eric Schwartzman has you covered.  You can watch the whole talk here. I heard it was really good.

    The first speaker I caught on Day 2 was Carlos Dominguez.

    He said that people don’t want to change, which makes it hard to change a process within a company. It usually isn’t the system that’s the problem, it’s the people in it. Once they become comfortable with a system, they don’t want to change it.

    He went over a lot of the stuff you hear all the time.  Know your goals and objectives.  Measure…etc.

    He mentioned that Cisco does a lot of reverse mentoring with their employees.  They host meetings and create an environment where the younger (Gen-Y) employees mentor the older employees on how to use the new tools.

    You guys know where I stand on that one.  Reverse mentoring is great, and needed…but to assume that a young professional is more knowledgeable on how to use social tools for business than an older professional, is a mistake.  Gen-Yers grew up using these tools recreationally.  It’s very different than how businesses approach it.

    Carlos also said, “Video is going to be the killer application”.  I think it already is.  Either way, he’s right, and he spoke a lot about how cisco is embracing video.

    Next, I listened to Rishi Dave (Dell) speak.

    "Forget the numbers. The impact of SM is this big"

    Rishi had some good stuff.  Here are some gems:

    “It’s all about who and how many you follow, not how many follow you”.  On twitter, it doesn’t matter how many followers you have.  What’s important is that you’re following the right people.  This way:

    • You can gather the best viewpoints in that space, and organize it for potential and current customers to consume.
    • The followers will come.

    He broke down the growth of the web, and it’s purpose in terms of information, into 3 stages:

    • Internet Age: Used to send information (ie. Yahoo)
    • Information Age:  Used to find, or search for information (ie. Google)
    • Connected Age:  Used to follow, as in a stream of information (ie. Twitter)

    Towards the end, I appreciated this line: “Successful companies in social media act like party planners aggregators and content creators.”

    Next I watched Kevin Roderick – UCLA Newsroom

    To be honest, I was pretty disappointed with this talk.  I really don’t have points to share with you because he didn’t say much.  He had great content, with a timeline of videos and images from the crisis they faced when Michael Jackson passed away, and mobs formed around the hospital.  In the end, it just sounded like they were in a tough situation, and had no idea what to do.

    The talk was supposed to use this situation as a learning experience,  and show us how we can apply UCLA’s insights to developing a social media program that’s nimble and ready for anything.  It really didn’t.

    Or maybe I’m just a bad listener.

    Finally, I truly enjoyed a panel about “Where is PR headed?” with Kami Huyse, Clay Hebert and Jonathan Kopp.

    The responses were a bit scattered so I’ll try to just list out a few key points from the panel as a whole.

    Trends to look for:

    • Augmented reality is going to be huge.
    • Location is also going to be huge.
    • Social media overload is only getting worse.
    • Mobile will continue to grow and will probably be the most important platform for business.
    • End of privacy as we know it.  (The hot topic as of late)

    Overall I really enjoyed this conference.  The speakers were pretty insightful and the crowd seemed to genuinely find value in the content.  Everything ran on time, the people were great, the food was awesome, the Day 1 networking after party was done really well and the location got the job done.

    I’d like to thank the fine folks of PRSA for inviting me to cover the conference.

    You can find all of the photos from this event here.

    You can find the Day 1 recap of this event here.