Category Archives: social media

BigData’s Invisible Hand

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Technology is wonderful, especially for us, the nation of consumers.

We have a flair for commercialism, created by businesses that once mailed catalogs to our homes, for free.  Thoroughly enticed by their colorful pages of merchandise, we became browsers and took turns flipping through the pages, earmarking the most viewed pages with sugarplum wishes.

It comes as no surprise, that as the holidays approach, technology’s Internet of Things is offering a smorgasbord of possibilities to further delight us, and to make our lives better!   Some finger swipes across a touchscreen, from social media to products purchased to services rendered, will organically link us together, without a common purpose.

Because in a digital world, engaging impressions like Selfies, Tweets and Likes, will be collected and gathered.

Bigdata, the invisible hand of real time analytics, will store, sell and re-distribute free consumer swipes of  creature habits once unattainable due to privacy rights.  Now freely associated with intimate interests, it will link us into smaller demographic groups and create marketing tools in “Consumer Nation”.

Disruption is good when it separates the mediocre, that which isn’t sustainable from the bad, that which might’ve been overlooked.   Sometimes, being lulled into a false sense of security isn’t the worse of it; things like changing your password each month, might be the least effective thing to be done.  Not because of peeking eyes, but because we keep forgetting the new password.   Use your big eyes to see a bird’s eye view.

We are, after all a nation growing older and that’s another issue…  pitfall.

But at some point, when new technology has replaced all of our passwords with retina and fingerprint identification, the old patterns that made us feel secure, will also come back.   Cataracts and wrinkles might undo what’s achieved, but by then we might be backwards compatible.  Bringing back the need for stronger passwords.

Disruption can be like that…

It’s like being asleep in your warm bed, having a lovely little dream.  When suddenly, you’re violently shaken and forced awake by screams, “the house is on fire!”    You’re not mad, you’re grateful.  It’s that scenario that makes you realize that disruption can be a good thing. That the dream, as lovely as it was, was simply in your head… the same place where technology began.

Today’s petri dish for successful startups with new products and new ways to do old things is a joy.   So internet sales rejoice, there’ll be less cars on the roads; less pollution in the air and gas prices will go down.  Less travel on the road equates to more time that we can stay home and watch television, mindlessly swiping our touchscreens and learning the words to catchy jingles.

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Filed under Big Data, Consumers, Eyegalsses, facebook, gadget, Internet, Internet of Things, Marketability, small business, social media, tech, technology, Telephone, Television, Twitter

The Age of Selfie-Satisfaction

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All across the internet, there’s a Laissez-faire attitude that allows us to post our photos boldly.   But who took and posted the first Selfie?

I only ask because it’s become so fashionable.  Everyone takes them, from politicians to rock stars to the Average Joe; and then they post them online, “See me, here I am.”

Most of the time I’m not even looking for anyone, but I become intrigued by the crooked smile or the dimples, so I click on a photo and read.
But what I’d really like to know is what happened to those cartoon avatars?  You remember the ones;  we had a choice when you signed onto a website.   And it didn’t matter which avatar you picked, because it was only a feeble attempt at representation.  Besides, back then we hid behind our anonymity, and procrastinated when the technology changed over to thumbnail photos.   And despite our wishes, it caught on and stayed.

Technology doesn’t care about shyness or looks or even who uses it;  so we all had to rise above self-esteem issues.

Reluctantly, we changed our avatars to real photos.  At least most of us did, and we laughed at ourselves, without worry of consequence.  It was extraordinary.

Because that’s the beauty of technology, that even the most introverted or bashful person can be popular on social media.   With thousands of Followers on Twitter and Likes on Facebook, another story can be told; a Start-up can be funded and a floundering business revitalized.   Just by posting a Selfie there, or Pinterest or Instagram.  A cliché comes to life, that yes a picture can and does paint a thousand words.

According to cognitive research psychologists, the only downside of mindlessly snapping photos is that the human brain can’t retain what it hasn’t fully processed or seen;  it’s the opposite effect of a photographic memory.   That is, you’re not going to remember details of the photo you took, because you let the camera do the work for you.

Ah, but what does that matter? The whole world is doing it! And there are so many platforms to display your Selfies and Clouds to store them all. And if it does come to fruition that it does matter, we’ll probably be old and senile.

And then, in that moment, in the Coming Age of Exposure, who’ll notice? Again, we’ll smile. Perhaps, a little more like the Mona Lisa smile, smug. And we’ll sing like Madonna… “Strike a pose- Vogue.”

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Filed under AARP, facebook, Internet, photography, Selfie, social media, Twitter

Park-O-Meter Blues

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Who thought it would be possible to miss a parking meter! But I do.

Last week, I watched as two city workers uprooted a few old parking meters. For years, these citadels of curbside spaces had collected coins and kept track of time as it expired. They were mainstays.

Unceremoniously, the two men cut the meter’s pole nearly flush with the sidewalk. They’d push it back and forth to snap the final shred of metal from its base, then they’d lean it up against a shoulder and chuck it up into the truck. One of the men would climb in behind it, while the other hopped into the truck’s cab and they’d drive a little more than a car’s length to the next meter and did the same, then onto the next and so on.

Two city blocks later, each stump was capped and roped off with yellow tape. A temporary sign read “No parking” and the tape, the kind used by the police to mark off crime scenes was knotted tightly.

And so the last of the fully coin operated parking meters, first introduced in 1935, were taken out of commission. It happened without fanfare, no bells were tolled, no military taps were played and no mourners gathered in black to wave goodbye to the Park-O-Meter era.

The notion of a city with “Free parking”, that coveted safe haven on a Monopoly game board, was swiftly removed; as the old poles were retrofitted with new hi-tech meters that seemed to have sprouted overnight. They’re no taller, but stand a little prouder than their predecessors.

These new meters accept all manner of payment, as well as coins. They’re solar powered, wireless, and I’m almost certain that they’ll alert a nearby meter maid of a pending infraction, and worse… they’ll self-generate a virtual ticket that can be e-mailed!

Parking meters are one of society’s greatest motivators. Capable of getting people in and out of stores at break-neck speeds because time does expire. Oh, I’ve known meters. But not like these.

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Filed under Baby boomers, Consumers, Parking, social media, tech, technology

Readers of Code

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I like that people are reading. For a long while it seemed that people had stopped reading, but now thanks in part to social media, people are reading more, albeit snippets of information.

Still, these easy readers, Tweets, status updates and likes, have created a renewed readership, with links to blogs and articles, that have been written by real writers. Technology, it seems is getting people to read!

Once upon a time, I was an avid reader. Not voracious, but still very much on top of things. I read any genre and was always on the lookout for new writers. It seemed that I had more leisure time, and I was a fast reader, able to enjoy a quick read as well as a long casual one.

Books you see, are my friends. They stay up with me when I can’t sleep, whispering to me about new ideas, old innuendos and faraway places right here on earth. Books lean against the wall, or sit patiently on the table, stacked and ready for my retreat into them, away from reality.

I like to savor what I read. Let the words swirl around inside my head. Discover new thoughts, evoke emotions that softly touch or ruffle up against the edges of a memory. All mine. If left to my own vices, I’d sit with a nice glass of chardonnay and read a whole book; a book a day, as if it were an elixir, ah …

Unfortunately, I have fewer hours to read. But I make time to visit the library and I browse local bookstores. Because I like the way a book feels in my hands, as much as I like the smooth feel of my iPad, which replaced my 1st generation Kindle.

And in addition to that, I’ve been learning code. I’m a big advocate that all girls should learn code, and wasn’t I once a girl?

So, I signed up for an Edx course, purchased a few books and started to run programs on a computer. (And here, dear reader is where I must add a disclosure: “I’m not a computer geek, not a rocket scientist and not a genius and not a programmer.”) I’m a student in the world of variables and integers.

Anyway, yesterday I curled up with my book, my laptop and executed a C program in terminal with Gedit. It was mind-boggling, as I started to believe, that if you read it, you can understand and do it. And to that end, I’m learning.

I created a social message about girls coding in MIT’s Scratch website; it allows you to code with blocks. (For giggles, here is my project, click the green flag Girls Jump.)

I like that people are reading again. Technology it seems, does require us to think and it’s making us readers of code. And that’s a good thing.

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Filed under AARP, Baby boomers, Big Data, Code, Coding, Gender, Girls, social media, tech, technology, Twitter, Women

Tech Savvy and Served

1 Tech Platter
Word of mouth sales are no longer limited to the “picket fence” conversation between neighbors. Social media has empowered consumers, but it also weakened the position of “the customer is always right”.

Not so long ago, when you purchased a gadget and it didn’t work, you’d complain. There was an expectation of satisfaction; and sometimes this was guaranteed in writing. It was understood, that if you kept the store receipt, a return within seven days of the purchase, with original packaging would guarantee you an equal exchange or a full refund. No questions, no arguments and without a restocking fee.

Back then, the link between a business’ success and a customer’s satisfaction were closely woven. It was a mature market that kept loyal customers loyal by making good products. The operative word “good” implied integrity– a Maytag machine, a Craftsmen tool and a Peterbilt truck were made to last.

I can’t say when this changed, but it did. Technology with its lightening pace warranted change, and miniscule sizes pushed out products that had their own legacies, called generations. And while the housing remained the same, the processor inside changed.

Generally, the improvement wasn’t fully tested but the product was released and onto store shelves; along with slight glitches and other failings, that if passed under the consumer radar was an “oh, well” shrug of doing business.

Now we accept updates, even expect there to be a few with each new product. Those patches that fix new technology have effectively blocked my complaint in mid-sentence. So, the consumer’s displeasure mostly goes unnoticed, because the problem was already logged and acknowledged before the products were shipped out!

The only thing left for me to complain about is how my smartphone’s battery doesn’t hold a charge. And it’s not because I’m always talking, texting or checking status, but instead it’s the result of all those push notifications that the companies send out in an effort to patch and update my cellphone… to keep it smart and me dumb.

Customer service served.

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Filed under Consumers, Marketability, profitability, social media, tech, Telecommunications

Welcome to the Digital Divide

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For years, the digital world seemed to be just up ahead; a futuristic place that existed beyond our dreams and over a mountain, like a rainbow. It culled our imaginations, and made us ask “What if?”

The digital divide seemed accessible by car and markings on the roadway, those dashes painted on the asphalt guided us along, by keeping us in our respective lanes. It was orderly, like life itself.

Trees flew past so fast that they didn’t resemble themselves, instead the blurred images helped fuel our curiosity. From the car’s window we pondered life and the big blue marble, called earth. Road trips had that effect. And when we returned to school we’d have questions, like “What does a cloud taste like?”

On Monday morning, we’d gather in the schoolyard and whisper; a discussion about which questions should be brought up in class; the probable, the impossible and the iffy-iffy.

One student would ask a question, the teacher would answer and then someone else would ask a question. Like a string of pearls in a leap frog fashion- a question led to an answer to a question and another and so on; until finally the bell rang. The class would end and the teacher wouldn’t have taught us anything; and somehow, we felt empowered by the disruption.

It was especially exciting when the teacher realized, albeit too late, that he’d been duped into answering pointless questions. It validated our cleverness and added meaning to our lives. A harmless prank, one in which we delayed progress, that is the day’s lessons and entertained ourselves.

And it’s about to begin again, but this time there’s more at stake. It’s not simply a question of what a cloud tastes like, but rather what exactly can a cloud do with big Data?

Deciding that and what questions to ask isn’t as provocative, as the next question, that is: “How do we protect our information?” and “What information is worth protecting?” and “Is a data breach the only way to know the difference?”

Welcome to the digital divide, a disruption in progress.

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Filed under Big Data, Coding, Consumers, social media, tech, technology

Humble Tech Beginnings- Tweet

Tech stairs
Hello world! I’m excited. Or at least I think I should be, I am after all still Tweeting on Twitter. In fact, as of this post I’ve Tweeted 555 times!

It’s not that I’ve reached a milestone or done anything spectacular, like winning the Publisher’s Clearing House Contest (which I’ve never heard of anyone winning, not even remotely via the six degrees of separation). But, from technology’s viewpoint, I’ve come a long way.

And I bet you wasn’t looking for me! But in the time that it took for me to firmly establish my feet into the webbing of the internet; those threads of ideas and beads of knowledge shared by design, I had gained ground. That’s how swiftly the words were sent. Since then, I’ve been interviewed, invited to conventions, solicited to write reviews and tested out mock-ups.

I’ve stood in line at buffets, peering at a smorgasbord of deliciousness that I could never eat, even if I were granted ample time to eat it all in. And I’ve had cocktails. Those refreshing little drinks without the umbrellas that make me appreciate the sun more and the sand between my toes, a little less.

The truth is, last year at this time, if someone had told me that I’d be here I would’ve guffawed at their ridiculousness. Me, a little city girl who literally “considered suicide when the rainbow was enough”; like most of the kids in my poor neighborhood.

I’m a Baby Boomer by definition, that is I was born between 1946 and 1964. I was raised by a single mom, who struggled to make ends meet. There were five of us living in a one bedroom apartment, in a rickety old house, on a newly paved road, named Dacia Street.

We had no shower, no bathroom door, little heat, less food, no phone, and a pen-pal who liked to write eviction notices.

Memories like these give me a reason to pause; to appreciate where I am now, sitting on a country deck. Time to eat cherries and spit pits into a napkin, all nice and dainty; while I read The New Yorker on my iPad. And that’s how I know technology has been good to me.

It’s also been good to 74.6 million other Baby Boomers, who’ve gone from cold leftovers to microwave ovens. We’re living longer and healthier lives because of those technological advancements, from dark places to streaming movies and music. Overall, we’re a grateful bunch.

My first Twitter was on April 27, 2014, that’s when I tweeted:

Dreaming you can make a difference in the world is motivational. Waking up, crawling out of bed and making it happen is life. #Techtalks

Yes, the internet of things is humbling.

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Filed under AARP, music, social media, technology, Telephone, Twitter

Virtually, You Are Here

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If you are reading these words, then you are, by default here.
An effective writer can do that, through the clever use of words, similes and metaphors. By carefully stacking letters like blocks of code, until BLAM! You are here.

Reading creates a state of mind, without circuitry, or silicon, or bits and bytes of data organically designed. Like technology, it fulfills a purpose, sharing and entertaining passages that tell a story and “Once upon a time” is the crossing line, the threshold. But sometimes the reading material doesn’t begin like a fairytale.
Sometimes, it’s boring and repetitious and in our rush forward to all the great apps that the digital world has to offer, we hastily finger swipe our touchscreen and assume, the wording to be correct. Because we’ve become familiar to and insensitive to legal verbiage, the Terms of Use:

PLEASE READ THE FOLLOWING TERMS CAREFULLY. BY CLICKING “SIGN UP” ON THE SITE OR BY DOWNLOADING, INSTALLING OR OTHERWISE ACCESSING OR USING THE APP(S) OR THE SERVICE, yaddah, yaddah, yaddah…
For the next six or seven paragraphs, the font will grow smaller and pretty much, it will read like all the other Terms of Use, and all written with capital letters—the equivalency of screaming in a hell and damnation kind of way– we’re “BOUND BY THE FOLLOWING TERMS, INCLUDING THE PRIVACY POLICY.
And this, the usage of terms like Privacy Policy seems benign, and so it might be when used with apps; but there’s another side with far-reaching consequences, like the information stored on our things, like cellphones, tablets and soon to be Internet of Things (IoT).

There’s value to the human signature and a quiet elegance to being able to write in cursive. It’s not an art form, it’s a skillset.

Some of the world’s greatest documents, The Magna Carter, The Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights, each a signed manifesto are reminders of the human condition, and hopefulness, as we press on.

There’s no lasting image to a swipe of the finger, it just can’t compare to the swirling ink of a pen. It’s little things like signatures that we need to hold onto. Especially as we enter the Internet of Things (IoT). When machines talk to machines (m2m) and massive amounts of data are transmitted and analyzed in real time. We may need the simple things to remain simple, like ink and it’s staying power.

By then, privacy may no longer be sustainable. Or attainable, as profitable markets shift, change and the economy adapts. What happens then? Will it matter?

The world is smaller than it was, thankfully we have social media. And in a virtual world, it brings us together. You are here.

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Filed under Big Data, facebook, Google, GPS, Internet, Marketability, Privacy, profitability, social media, tech, technology, Twitter

The Window to Virtuality

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The window to data has opened and we see all manner of things, both big and small as if technology had been grown in a petri dish and now made available; the circuitry of possibilities.

Like the Industrial Age before it, the Age of Technology is full of innovation. And it’s all happening very quickly, and gives merit to the adage “If it can be imagined, then it’s possible.”

The future that was set into motion, doesn’t care whether we prepared for it or not. Each generation has been given the world, “As Is” with a bucket of nuts and bolts and a set of rudimentary tools; and incomplete history books, that substitute and interchange individual greatness for truths.

The notion of getting things right the first time seems impossible; as does the approach of taking it slow and steady. Unlike Aesop’s Fable, “Hare and The Tortoise”, there will be few winners among those who lag behind, or who are too slow to keep pace in the Age of Technology.

We see society changing so rapidly that words like “virtuality” and terms like “social media” have been added into our vocabularies without foreword or discussion. Clouds and Fogs have taken on added definitions, and Big Data, is exactly as it implies, only more of it than what had been supposed when the term was first introduced.

And if it sounds like a storm brewing, it just might be and at the epicenter is social change. Society will have to adapt and must adjust quickly to the disruption.

Already we’re seeing the disruption to the traditional livery and taxi-cab businesses, with new upstarts like Uber and Lyft, carving out not a slice at a time, but huge chunks. Traditional funding has also changed. Crowd-Sourcing and companies like Kickstarter, has successfully launched upstarts. And yes, it does help when you’re not seeking to be funded by old establishment banking systems that founded the horse and buggy and stagecoaches, when you want to bust into the industry!

Interestingly, letting go of old innuendos, and outdated traditions is even more difficult, at a time when our natural instinct is to maintain the status quo, that is to cling onto what’s familiar and held dear. But that’s exactly what has to happen, this purging of society so the new can be integrated. It’s not always achieved by brute force or by the slower, art of persuasion.

Social media is a part of the Age of Technology, mostly without precedent. The internet can impact change, without a bullhorn or a stadium, or the power of a microphone, millions of people can gather and share; to create one voice and be overwhelmingly heard.

We witnessed its power when women outraged against misogyny, used Twitter and through the power of a “hashtag”, used their touch screens to send a message that was heard; the beginning of change.

So there is a future. The window to data has opened out to it and we see all manner of things, both big and small as if technology had been grown in a petri dish and now made available; the circuitry of possibilities.

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Filed under Apps, Baby boomers, Big Data, Consumers, gadget, Gender, Gender Equality, social media, tech, technology

Technology Loses A Skillset

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As schools let out for summer vacation, it occurs to me that some kids will never learn how to read a roadmap. GPS, Global Positioning Systems have eliminated a skillset.

Technology has taken us away from Norman Rockwell’s America; and up ahead is a Digital Age full of wonder. Our world is changing. Smart devices are able to communicate with other smart devices; they’re exchanging bits and bytes of information—from lighting to temperature to foods and medications; without any help from us.

And it’s all happening so quickly, that when someone asks what just happened, we can assume that they blinked and missed it. It’s just that fast; giving added meaning to the phrase: “in the blink of an eye!”

Thankfully we have smart devices to handle most issues, whether or not we’ll be able to adapt and translate the information might be a challenge. But having the right tools is half the battle. Training will come to those who need it, because it must.

I remember when a road trip required a map, and that we bonded around and watched as an index finger followed what was hopefully an interstate highway. And the map was always carefully folded and stored away.

Back then you didn’t drive with the car’s air conditioner turned on. We were kids and some nitwit on television said you can drive a lot further on a car’s full tank of gas, so that’s what we did. And we packed the car to the roof with our camping gear and kids and little need for electricity.

We always started out early in the morning, as if we could out run the heat of the sun. Somehow it always caught up and baked us thoroughly. Our voices shrill with excitement as we set out on a family adventure and made memories. Often times, we’d get lost. Hence the need for the roadmap, and a set of skills to be able to read it.

Getting lost was always better when we’d find a gas station, a restroom and some food. Funny, but you find the best little restaurants, when you’re not actually looking for them. We’d use the restroom, eat and leave; make the left turn onto the interstate, but forget what came next in the set of directions that the waitress just gave us. But we’d sleep well.

I wonder if getting lost in the Digital Age will be as fun, or as memorable. I hope so!

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Filed under Baby boomers, Gender, GPS, Maps, social media, tech, technology, Uncategorized