Daily Archives: December 21, 2013

Network… Better


Nope, I don’t mean on LinkedIn.

 

Following a conversation sparked by my LockedIn manifesto, I exchanged a few thoughts with some of my Oberlin peers — recently graduated, employed, and young developing professionals in their fields (mainly science/research based) — questioning the value of online social presences. A Mashable article appeared as a conversational detour, on the external (work, personal, social) implications of not participating in one of the most popular of social networks: Facebook.

Social networks as a prereq for life: I think it’s idiotic to judge people who don’t use social media as being strange, outcast, etc. (1)

Our baseline for humanity can’t be structured on something that requires the privilege of an Internet connection. (2)

I don’t want the world to work like this, but I’m not naïve. I don’t think the world will not work this way in the future. So it’s time to prepare ourselves.

May we all be known for our work and not for our social presences.(3) Until that day, though, hedge your bets on being Googled, and have something you created come up first. (4)

Like it or not, I fear that we must consider more broadly the expectation of this kind of internet presence as a requirement should most of us desire to be working professionals in the future. I work in higher ed. This is the space where we’re supposed to be preparing our students for the big world outside our campus. This is where we teach! This is where we learn! For our students, the ones present for the act of learning, the expected (desired?) outcome of that input is getting a job.

Right now, we are sending off our students in to a professional world that requires a basic understanding and application of social media and social networking for any number of things, including but not limited to gaining employment.

So.

Big question time.

Where are we learning this? Who is teaching it? And above all else, why are we placing so much weight of something that is considered a skill that certain generations just “have” based on being born in a particular decade?

From my casual observations of my peers, millenials (ugh, this word) are floundering at vitalizing social presences for professional purposes — from knowing what’s out there to trying it out on our own. I work with social media constantly and I believe that the best way to demonstrate that you know to do something is to DO IT. I’m not particularly convinced that my generation “gets” social media the way everyone thinks that we do. Just because we grew up as the tools were developing alongside us doesn’t mean we automatically internalized them. To obtain these skills (and note that I say skills, not generation-based we-added-it-to-our-milk talent), we must observe, be trained, and above all else, practice.

But how do we do this?

I don’t mean that we need classes in LinkedIn (though this post by Mallory Bower should prove to you that a simple offline workshop can and should convince you that they can definitely help). I am suggesting, however, that we prepare our students for presenting themselves and their work as they leave our midsts.

This may appear to be the job of a career-oriented, future-forward office like career services, but not just. Career services offices most often help students outside of the usual academic bubble, and yet, academia is only one small part of a higher educational experience. If I discovered anything in college, it’s that everything is a learning opportunity, and that most of the “real learning” will come from outside of the classroom, in particular, from the people around you.

If we in higher ed work with students in any way, shape, or form, it is all our responsibilities to assure that they are prepared for a world that expects these skills… even if it’s not outright stating that social skills a part of the professional world they’ll soon be occupying.

“But Ma’ayan,” you protest, “I don’t ‘get’ social media or the internet! How can I help?”

We help with confidence.

Ben Nevis 2

Ben Nevis 2 (Photo credit: euphbass)

This is the most important of all. We are so lucky to know our students as people, and can see first-hand how they are developing as smart, thinking humans. One of the best things we can offer them from our positions as educators is perspective.

Confidence boosting comes in many forms; for me, it took someone who could recognize what I was doing, see an additional outlet for it, and then give me a quick boost into place. It was the knowledge of “something bigger,” the context I might have lacked because I was so deeply entrenched in being a student. Later, this nudge helped me state with confidence: “I am a writer, I am a photographer, I am a creative individual, and I CAN DO THIS!”

My mentors/bosses Ben Jones and Cary Foster really, truly believe in this, and it is best encapsulated in the following quote Ben uttered to me shortly after I began working in our office:

I empower people with talent.

I aspire to embody that mindset with every fiber of my being.

We help by being references.

As a second year student, I started writing recommendation letters. Crazy, right? Not to me. Serving as a part of the foundation of someone’s dream is a beyond incredible experience. You begin to see skills and talents everywhere as you frame through the lens of a referrer. As much as I want to rock the world to its core, I want those close to me to rock it, too. We’re all in this together. Let’s make this world dance!

As a manager, the greatest thing I can offer to my student employees in return for their excellent work is the opportunity to tell someone else that they are willing and capable of applying what they do best to what their future employer does best.(You want endorsements? I’ll give you endorsements! This is how I kick it with my social networks: it’s all about the authentic approval of what you’re doing, whether it be strategic or spontaneous.)

We help by providing resources where we may lack.

Yes, this means doing a little research into where you can help your students learn, in particular when you can not necessarily teach them. As educators, the most humbling moments come when we know that we don’t know something. They can quickly become our proudest ones when we recognize that we still have something to learn from someone else.

Know what professional expectations exist for your field (and perhaps for your students’ interests, too) and take a bit of time to learn about whatever career assistance exists at your school. If you don’t have a solid answer, you need to at least know where to point your students to get more information.

We help by being role models.

Surprise! We have jobs! And somehow we got to where we are today. Even if obtaining your job had little to nothing to do with the internet, the skills you had to demonstrate in searching, writing, presenting yourself, and connecting with other people are applicable to any medium, to any individual, on or offline.


Our social networks — the ones made of people, not on third-party sites — are our greatest resource, more precious than gold (or in my foodie world, saffron), but they can not exist based on us alone. Networks rely on constant strengthening and conditioning, and these developments will only occur if we exercise our social muscles: take a deep breath, then log some face time with a few folks over coffee or on Twitter (or virtual coffee in a G+ Hangout). Are you ready? It’s time to do some heavy lifting.

 

 

Written by

Manager, Social Strategy & Projects at Oberlin College. My life is occupied with photography, writing, food, and all things social.

Published July 11, 2013

 

 

Overview of some of the Excellent Cloud Computing Companies


How many cloud computing companies have you used? If you have used many such services, did they fulfill your purpose? If not, and you were not able to decide which of them is providing the best services we can help you decide. Here some of the best cloud computing companies that may fulfill your purpose.

• Amazon Web Services

• NIMBIX

• Peer 1 hosting

• Penguin Computing

High Performance Computing on Amazon Web Services

High Performance Computing (HPC) allows engineers and scientists for solving complicated engineering and science related problems by using applications that need low latency networking, high bandwidth and much higher computing capabilities. Usually, to acquire costly hardware systems and accessing common clusters, engineers and scientists must wait in long queues but by using the Amazon EC2 Cluster instances, users can accelerate the workload on their HPC on resilient resources and fulfill their utilization needs by choosing economical pricing model to save money. User can select Cluster GPU instances for IO intensive workloads or pick hundreds of cores for oriented applications. Amazon EC2 helps to carry out research in areas of biology, computer science, chemistry and physics.

Cloud Super computing by NIMBIX

NIMBIX presents a HPC cloud infrastructure with an easy use of API to undertake challenging workloads. It is a safe and scalable cluster made for batch processing at high speeds. For delivering better output at lower cost it includes improved computational accelerators like Xeon Phi and DSPs. The cloud super computing service is swift, efficient and easy to use. It helps in areas of Imaging, Computer Assisted Engineering and Bioinformatics.

HPC Cloud service by Peer 1 hosting

This company has introduced Managed HPC Cloud and Self Service HPC Cloud that help in fulfilling the demands of the HPC resources in a secure, swift and reliable way. It can convey huge amounts of data safely to and from HPC cloud on operated fast fibre network. Self Service HPC Cloud Zunicore helps the IT departments to develop APIs for interaction. Drivers are already loaded and the first hour of usage is free to configure easily. It has a utility billing that is fully automated. For safety there is a self managed firewall.

On-Demand HPC Cloud Service by Penguin Computing (POD) HPC

Here the tasks can easily be performed; POD users can have a secure and relentless environment that can perform many jobs on its cores directly. For achieving high performance results POD technical team is available that offers you guidelines and support. POD has a Linux environment which includes latest software that is linked with compute cluster which helps in efficient job execution. The compute cluster of the POD is designed for delivering high performance and includes usual HPC components. POD is easy to use with latest technology and computing resources. For different industries and styles different numerous PODs are available. It is cost effective, safe and handy.

Rameshwor Dahal is the author of this article and he is an expert technology writer.

 

Young Entrepreneurs, Avoid Business School


It will most likely ruin your chance at success

 

Disclaimer: Just a senior reflecting on my undergraduate education. What I’m about to write about is merely based on my experiences as a student at New York University and may not reflect any universal truths. Note that I have a complicated relationship with grammar. Also, different opinions and feedback welcomed.

As I am about to embark on the next chapter of my life, it seems necessary to reflect on my past four years and share my newfound perspective. As the tech scene and entrepreneurship seem to have exploded over the past few years, I think most students have begun to realize that wealth or whatever people consider success is not solely restricted to the old or experienced. Hence, the number of entrepreneurs and entrepreneurship offerings in school has skyrocketed in response to this trend. However, based on my interaction with some of my peers, I have come to realize one thing: business school will ruin you. Now this may not apply to everyone (the lucky ones), but I think some of the points I’m going to talk about do apply to the majority. Some the fundamental flaws of attending a business school as an undergrad is that:

1. You think you’re too good for social media

Sorry to burst your $50,000/year bubble, but going to a prestigious school does not mean you’re too good for social media. Apparently there is some stigma among business students that social media is for the incapable. However, I’m pretty sure that all the classes you’ve taken don’t touch upon social media, or how to use it effectively. It’s time to get off your high horse and see that getting an “A” in your marketing class does not mean it is your “expertise.” It also does not mean you know all the answers. As a matter of fact, social media strategy and content generation is not as easy as you think — it requires ingenuity, creativity, and empathy. Bet that wasn’t on the course description. Business school has a way of inflating your ego to a point where an opportunity to learn outside the classroom rather than in it becomes an insult rather than an opportunity for self-improvement.

2. You’re rarely going to use those formulas/models/numbers.

I think if I had to summarize business school in a sentence, it would be “increase revenue, cut overhead.” That may be an overgeneralization, but I think that is what’s being hinted at throughout the four years. Plain and simple, this is capitalism at its core and this ideology fundamentally eliminates many of the other aspects of running a business. As a result, it creates a focus on short-term wins as opposed to long-term victories. Rather, I think it might even be helpful to see that your company(the people) is your business, and everything else is simply a byproduct. Your output is only good as your process, and generally your process relies on the people in your company. It does not hurt to have happy employees with a sense of autonomy because a happy employee means they’re taking ownership of their work. That translates to a better functioning unit, which translates to more wins.

Another issue is that the focus on learning about such minute details in business only prepares you for something like being an accountant, not a business leader. I randomly grabbed a 300-page textbook and skimmed it just to see how relevant it would be to starting a business. Do you really need to know what “days payables outstanding” or “cash conversion cycle” mean? I’m sure it’s helpful to some extent, but probably not a necessity. Exposure to all these terms and models simply erodes your ability to think logically and concisely. Starting a business by thinking about it in terms of such specific details confines your ideas in a box, and the more you think in a box as you start a business, the more limited you will be in the long-run.

3. Jay-Z’s “I’m not a businessman, I’m a business, man” does not apply to you.

Although there has been a shift towards entrepreneurship, business schools for the most part still want you to go into the corporate world, specifically investment banking, because it means more endowment contribution from graduates. Being an entrepreneur means not working for anyone but yourself, not because it’s the cool thing to do but because it goes against the very fiber of your being. I’ll be damned if I bust my ass so that someone takes 90% of what I earn while s/he is sitting on the toilet. Not to bag on the large corporations, because there are some gems in the mix, but the entire infrastructure of a corporation sucks: it allows them to pay their employees $100k a year when their CEO makes $20 million a year, and the company makes a net profit of $100 million. Trickle-down economy. The sad part is that the employees do all the heavy lifting, and still have to suck up to the “boss man.” If you want to be an entrepreneur, recognize that the $20 million/year CEO you want to work for is just another human being, and that he or she has nothing over you.

Business School del Sole 24Ore - Job Meeting P...

Business School del Sole 24Ore – Job Meeting Padova 2013 (Photo credit: Job Meeting)

4. You’re one of those people from District 1.

From my understanding, business school is highly competitive with their crazy curves and grade cutoffs. What business school does well is foster an environment for the Hunger Games, where each student has to be cut-throat and hustle to beat the person next to them. When you enter the startup world, or at least in NYC, you start to see that entrepreneurs actually prefer collaboration. A lot of entrepreneurs actually like to provide feedback and advice. They recognize that success is never a one-man job, it is always a team effort. Business students tend to see people as either an asset or an obstacle, and therefore position themselves to be either the winner or the loser. The real world doesn’t really work like that: there can be multiple winners and no losers. Forget all the rules because there are none.

Whether we’re an Einstein or not, not a single one of us knows all the answers (except maybe Google). We all live different lives and have different perspectives, and if anything, there is at least one thing someone knows that you and I do not. Two brains will always be better than one, because (1) having an extra person offers a different perspective and ideas and (2) that brain comes with helping hands, a mouth, and some other stuff. I’m sure we all had that one person in the group who did little to contribute to the group or pretty much anything they say was stupid. It’s not that they weren’t useful, it’s that s/he was not being utilized effectively. Collaboration teaches you to recognize individual strengths and weaknesses, and how melding talent within the group can create a high functioning unit.

5. You are taught in a box, and so you think in a box.

I think this applies more generally to all schools, but there seems to be a consensus that every question on an exam has a specific one-answer solution. “Shit, what’s the answer to question #5? I think it’s A, but B makes sense too. Which one is the right one?!” I’m 99.9% sure that that will never happen when you enter the workforce because there’s no such thing as a right answer. There are good choices and there are bad choices, but with so many factors to consider, a “right answer” is absurd. Knowing that there is an answer to a solution that can be found in a book tells you that it is okay to reuse and recycle. Although there’s nothing wrong with recycling, a continual habit of that trains our brain to look inside the box. And the more we do it, the harder it is to see outside the box. There are answers to problems that we have yet to think of, but they are out there somewhere, in whatever metaphysical space ideas live in.

Entrepreneurs see the world differently — they ask questions, they associate seemingly different ideas, they bridge gaps and connect ideas. This is why I think entrepreneurship cannot be taught in a classroom. To be an entrepreneur is to be willing to experiment, to learn as you go, to take ownership of your lack of knowledge, and to proactively fill that gap in knowledge. But more importantly, entrepreneurs have an insatiable thirst for a challenge and an adventure. With education and its focus on point-based metrics and multiple choice answers, the very idea of teaching(and grading) entrepreneurship is contradictory.

 

 

Written by

Entrepreneur/Photographer/Adventure Seeker. Find me @_stevechan

 

 

Why Linking Facebook to Twitter is generally a bad idea


Is it good practice to link social media accounts?

 

Typically I would say linking social media accounts is a BAD idea, however the more involved I get in social media and online communication for business, the more I am realizing:

There are no right or wrong ways to use social media, just effective and ineffective ways of using it. Your success is directly related to your ability to communicate and set expectations for your network.

Each social media platform has a unique culture and each person has their own unique interpretation on that culture. You should make strategic decisions based on a deep understanding of the best practices on a certain platform instead of what saves you the most time.

The only reason to publish your Facebook posts on your Twitter timeline is to save time. In doing so, you are telling your audience that saving time is more important than engaging with them.

Anyone who has invested any amount of time on twitter, uses it for real discussion and actively engages with the community on twitter, knows that twitter is nothing like Facebook. There are very few similarities in the way you frame a message on Facebook compared to Twitter.

Social media is about engaging the community, being a part of a discussion, spending time investing in your network. It is not about broadcasting your message, bombarding people with your agenda or duplicating a message across multiple platforms to save time.

So, as it relates to typical everyday usage, it is best to avoid linking your Facebook account to your Twitter stream, the messages are different, your audience is different, the platforms are different. Best case scenario, you will be ignored, worst case scenario you will alienate or offend your audience…

With all that said, I do believe there is an appropriate way to go about this. But again, you have to be crystal clear in setting expectations.

Understanding social media for business is about understanding the unique culture of each platform and communicating accordingly.

Twitter Culture

Image representing Twitter as depicted in Crun...

Image via CrunchBase

The general assumption on twitter is that if you have an account, you are actively responding to tweets and are present in a conversation. If you send out a tweet, you better be monitoring your timeline and be ready to respond to anyone who engages you on the content. Failure to do so will result in people thinking less of you.

However if you clearly state in your twitter bio what type of material you will be tweeting, it will allow potential followers to evaluate whether or not the want to consume your content.

It is all about expectations.

If I expect you will be engaging with me (the default culture on twitter) and all you tweet is crap from your Facebook page, I will most likely unfollow you. However if you clearly outline how you use your twitter account in your bio and I choose to follow you because I find value in consuming your information without conversation, then we are all good.

For example, this method of scheduled auto-tweets or Facebook tweet linking could be valuable to a restaurant or coffee house who wants to posts their daily special on Facebook and quickly relay that information to twitter.

So an example bio here might look like:

HouseBlend CoffeeHouse, we tweet our daily specials and pictures of our delicious food. Account not monitored, however consider connecting with us on Facebook…


So how do you know if you should link your Facebook account to your Twitter account or use any type of automation for that matter?

Litmus Test

Ask yourself:

  • Do I understand the culture of the platform I am communicating on?
  • Am I able to make informed decisions about the social promotion of my business by properly framing the content I will share?
  • Am I defining expectations for my audience in a way that clearly identifies how I operate my social media account?

or

  • Did you hear that Twitter was good for business so you should probably be there, you have no idea how to use it, but some guru somewhere said once that maybe you should probably link your Facebook to Twitter and open a LinkedIn account, but you don’t really have time to actually talk with people, so you are just gonna hook up everything all to one account so that you can reach the most amount of people possible with the least amount of work?

People don’t care about you until you prove you care about them!

Chances are 99% of the time, actually showing you care for people means engaging with them rather than auto generating content to save some time in your precious little day. <<< Tone Implied.


Please consider leaving comments in any of the annotations on the side of this post, I would love to hear your feedback!

 

Further Reading

Why Medium Notes Are Different and How to Use Them Well

 — 

On Medium, we don’t have comments on posts; instead we have “notes.”

 

Written by

I am wearing a kilt right now. I have consumed coffee today. Family Man. Executive Editor @firstfoundation #OwnGrowProtect Blog ~ Western Canada

 

 

Crowdfunding Real Estate


Worth it? Safe? Sustainable?

There’s been a lot of attention on crowdfunding through the last couple years. With the advent of Kickstarter and Indiegogo, new niche platforms and services are popping up like acne on a teenager; or daisies in the summer if you’re an optimist. A significant niche that’s been receiving a major portion of this newly-founded attention is real estate. In this post, I explore the how and why of crowdfunding for real estate. This is half an attempt to share my own thoughts as a participant in the space and half over-caffeinated desire to expose a quite amazing new opportunity to the @medium community.

Equity & Debt Crowdfunding in General

Considering that private placement has been around for ages, moving participation in equity-based and debt-based investment opportunities into the crowdfunding sphere is a natural progression.

People that are looking to invest their increasingly precious dollars have an incredible desire to find alternative opportunities that don’t involve bank-controlled products or laughably low-interest savings accounts, CDs, etc. Rich or not so rich, there’s few mechanisms out there currently that take little work and create decent yields without taking pretty immense risks (i.e. startup capital investments).

Equity and debt crowdfunding, if offered and administered correctly, can be smart investments. Prosper.com, Lending Club, and a few others do this very successfully right now by letting you fund a borrower’s wishes to consolidate credit card debt or buy a new piece of equipment for their budding small business. There’s lots of other forms of equity and debt crowdfunding out there and each have their pros and cons. What I’m talking about is a form of one or both of these; the buying in of equity or debt into a real estate transaction.

Why Real Estate?

Property presents a unique safety net for investment. You own something tangible with a measurable market demand (albeit confusing and fluctuating). If you happen to live near a good market, you also have the advantage of working with people you know to make your investment a success. This is why there are so many people out there who save up to by a small apartment building, vacation rentals and fix-and-flip properties. If you do your homework and work hard to make it happen, you can expect a decent level of success in achieving some cashflow from these investments and, in some cases, a sizable sale in a few years and sometimes a few months.

There in lies the problem for many people right now though. It takes significant time and you’ll probably screw up a few things — one of them might be too costly and so the project comes to a screeching halt. Additionally, those that do have the knowledge and can/will take the risk often don’t have the time for it. If you’re working full time and have a family, doing all that needs to be done to make money in even the smallest and straight-forward real estate project can be time-sucking burden.

Making Investing Easier Through Crowdfunding

While you can sometimes make more money through going it alone, crowdfunding makes it easier to put some cash in your pocket while learning how to do due diligence and identify solid opportunities — and save crazy amounts of time since you’re doing it passively.

How it Works

You’ll either be able to invest in a property the people behind the crowdfunding firm own and will manage on your behalf or you’ll be investing in a property a real estate Developer has brought to the firm and is asking for capital to buy, rehab, rent and/or sell. It depends on which platform you go with but they mostly work the same way behind the scenes.

Usually, you’ll be able to select from a few open opportunities and decide which one is right for you… or one(s) if you’re ready. Good platforms in any niche, not just crowdfunding, will let you sign documents online and execute your capital payment online as well.

After that, you’ll have some notifications of activity with the project I’m sure but its mostly waiting. You’ll have seen a hold term or other explanation of how the proejct should get you your money back in some time frame. This is that wonderful passive part. Keep tabs on what’s going on but you really just wait like any other time-deliminated investment out there. Once the project is sold, you’ll get your money as a distribution. Some platforms issue distributions in monthly or quarterly intervals if the project is structured. This is usually only the case if you’re investing in a debt-based project and something I prefer, although the returns are usually a little lower than equity projects.

Investment

Investment (Photo credit: LendingMemo)

Advantages

  1. Easy due diligence — a good platform has already done the work for you.
  2. No wasted search time — People that have decades of experience in real estate have identified properties for you.
  3. Solid yields through passive investment — real estate has good yields when done right. Shop around but expect better than your bank interest.
  4. Much lower investment minimums — Some platforms have minimums as low as $1,000 to invest. You don’t have to buy the whole pie to get a taste. Intrinsically, that’s another advantage in that you have diversified your amount of risk by sharing it with other Investors.
  5. Learn without the risk of amateur mistakes — You get to see how its done. Good platforms will email you updates and I’m sure you’ll see a trend in how acquisitions, rehabs, sales, etc. are all done.
  6. No liability — The platform / developer take on the risk of the property.

Think about it: You can go to a website and see maybe three or four properties of different risk profiles, in different geographic areas and read all about them and the person doing the work on them. You can see full financial information (if the offering company is any good) and you can communicate with other like-minded Investors to help in deciding if something is for you. If it is, checkout like you would sort of on Amazon but with a couple extra steps to make it all legal. After several months or, if you’re in for it, years, you probably get your money back and then make another investment. You didn’t do anything but a little due diligence yourself and keep informed of what’s happening.

What to Look For

Not all platforms offer the same things. Before investing with a real estate crowdfunding company, consider the following:

  1. Do they have any skin in the game?
    In their investment details, can you see if they’ve committed any funding of their own? Here’s an example from Patch of Land. Take a look at the last sentence under “Investment Summary”.
  2. Have they had successes in the past?
    Look at their opportunity list. Have any fully funded?
  3. Do they respond?
    Some crowdfunding platforms have everything going for them — in real esate and out, but their terrible with customer sevice. Take a swing at their phone line or ask a couple questions via live chat if they have it. At a minimum, you should be able to get in contact over the phone or live chat during normal hours. Don’t accept “here’s our email address” contact pages or companies that don’t make it easy to get questions answered.
  4. Are investments secured, backed up or have guarantees?
    The best reason to go with real estate as an investment is because there’s something tangible behind it as collateral. Look for platforms that plainly say things like “Developer has signed a personal guarantee” or “We hold a first lien position on the property”.
  5. Is the platform itself secure?
    Look for a well-known security symbol in the footer. When you are sitting on your account dashboard page, does the website address start with “https://”? Browse through their privacy policy and FAQs to see if they store any of your sensitive information and, if so, how they handle it. All serious equity or debt crowdfunding platforms have to get your social security number or some form of distinct identification from you as well as payment details so make sure they’re serious about protecting that.
  6. Is there really any time savings?
    Check the company’s FAQs to see if they offer electronic document signing and earnings disbursements. If you still have to spend an hour faxing forms in or wiring payments offline, you’re probably in a place that isn’t focused on saving you time.

Written by

@PatchOfLand Co-Founder, Caffeine-loving technology enthusiast. Programming fiend and operations guy.

Published December 10, 2013

View story at Medium.com

Defying Washington to Save the Internet


A new communications bill in Congress actual serves the interests of Internet users. And that’s why it faces long odds.

 

Co-authored by S. Derek Turner

It’s a rarity in Washington to see a communications bill that actually serves the public.

But a bill Sen. Jay Rockefeller introduced last week is a direct challenge to the communications cabal that controls much of our media in the United States.

For that the Consumer Choice in Online Video Act faces very long odds. But Rockefeller’s bill does so much for Internet users and video watchers that it deserves everyone’s support.

Sen. Rockefeller, who is serving out his final term in Congress, has clearly been emboldened by the open Internet movement. Over the past decade, millions of people have spoken out to preserve Net Neutrality, stop online censorship and protect our rights to connect and communicate. We recognize the power of free speech and access to information that the Internet enables, and we’re using the Internet in growing numbers to protect these rights against corporate and governmental abuse.

Gatekeepers have historically stood in the way of open communications. Some of this gatekeeping happened for technical reasons, some for autocratic reasons, but much existed simply because gatekeeping is profitable.

The open Internet threatens this traditional business model. It’s a distribution platform that eradicates all other monopoly distribution platforms. In recent years, the companies that control Internet access — including AT&T, Comcast and Verizon — have stepped up efforts in Washington to undermine protections for Internet users and gain control of the network.

Building New Barriers to Video Watching

Thanks to the open Internet and the dozens of free voice and video-calling apps that use it, the days of having to pay Ma Bell $5 per minute to call long distance are long gone. And even though the right to record is under assault, anyone with a smartphone and an Internet connection can act as a citizen journalist — and reach an audience of millions.

But just as fast as the Internet tears down old barriers, gatekeepers scramble to build new ones. Nowhere is this more evident than in the video market, the one area the Internet has yet to completely disrupt.

When Congress last overhauled our communications law in 1996, we were promised that the Internet, as a neutral delivery platform, would eradicate cable’s stranglehold on the video market. But today the cable monopolists are stronger than ever, and folks looking for alternatives are faced with a maze of cumbersome and often inadequate choices.

For most people, the cable company is also the Internet service provider. And that company isn’t keen to see customers use their broadband connections to reach other video providers.

Cable has a history of blocking apps that deliver video, imposing unnecessary and pricey limits on the amount of data customers can consume, and favoring their own video contentover that of their online rivals.

Policymakers with the power to stop these anti-competitive practices have stood by while gatekeepers created new barriers to video competition, stifling innovation and limiting what users can do with their Internet connections. And Congress hasn’t been willing to challenge the cable cabal.

Until now.

Where the Internet is stored

Where the Internet is stored (Photo credit: debs)

A Bill for New Media Users

Rockefeller’s bill tears down most of the blockades gatekeepers are using to protect their legacy monopolies. And it goes further than that, giving the Federal Communications Commission the power to make rules that guarantee people can access video content via a truly open and competitive network.

The bill notes the substantial First Amendment interest in “promoting a diversity of views” — and in preventing ISPs from discriminating against other content providers.

The bill also includes many findings that regulators and politicians beholden to industry are loath to acknowledge. For example, it states that ISPs’ growing use of data caps “can negatively impact the competitive position of online video distributors and the appeal of their services to consumers.”

The bill also notes that ISPs “have an increased incentive to degrade the delivery of, or block entirely, traffic from the websites of other online video distributors, or speed up or favor” their own content, because “online video distributors pose a threat” to ISPs’ own video businesses.

Rockefeller’s bill makes it illegal for any ISP to “block, degrade, or otherwise impair any content provided by an online video distributor,” and defines such distributors to include anyone from the tiniest nonprofit outlet to online giants like Netflix and Apple.

But it doesn’t stop there. The legislation prohibits ISPs from using underhanded tactics to “deter competition.” And to ensure that ISPs don’t play games, the law requires any provider that has data caps to use certified meters and fully disclose these practices to consumers before they sign up.

And in barring ISPs from favoring their own video content, the Consumer Choice in Online Video Act also closes one of the biggest loopholes in the FCC’s Open Internet rules, the so-called “specialized services” exception.

Rockefeller’s bill outlaws many of the practices the industry uses to prevent online companies from accessing content. The bill bars cable companies from using contracts that prevent content owners from selling to online distributors, a practice that Time Warner Cable’s CEO recently admitted was a common tactic used to squash competition.

Sending a Signal to Washington

The legislation doesn’t offer Internet users complete protections against Net Neutrality violations since it pertains only to video. But Sen. Rockefeller’s willingness to buck industry pressures to kill off Net Neutrality sends a strong signal that preserving the free and open Internet is a legislative priority.

Rockefeller’s bill contains many other public interest protections. Earlier this year when CBS and Time Warner Cable were squabbling over retransmission fees, CBS blocked all TWC Internet users from accessing video content on CBS’ Web portal, content that anyone else could view. The legislation outlaws this practice of punishing innocent customers caught in the middle of industry food fights.

It also bars content owners from forcing online distributors to buy a bundle of unwanted channels just to purchase a single in-demand channel. Companies like Viacom use this tactic to force people who want to watch Comedy Central to also pay for unpopular networks like CMT Pure Country or TeenNick.

Internet!

Internet! (Photo credit: LarsZi)

The Consumer Choice in Online Video Act is a dream for online users and a cable CEO’s worst nightmare — which is why many D.C. insiders think the bill has little chance of becoming law.

That speaks volumes about our broken Congress. Washington’s conventional wisdom is that industry dictates public policy. But we aren’t counting Rockefeller out.

It’s no coincidence that he introduced this far-reaching legislation one year before his retirement. But Sen. Rockefeller still chairs the committee with the best chance of taking on the cable cabal’s political power.

And if the growing Internet rights movement mobilizes behind Rockefeller, we can blow past these gatekeepers and pass the Consumer Choice in Online Video Act.

 

Written by

All things media, online and off… but mostly on. Karr is an online, free speech advocate at Free Press, the nation’s largest media reform group. Tweets my own

 

 

 

How Spotify Changed My Relationship with Music


 

I still remember the need to physically buy music. Before you make that face, let me say, this is not intended to be a bitter rant. I am not interested in playing the part of crotchety 25-year-old. But, even typing that first sentence and reading it back, sounds pretty ridiculous in the year 2013. At one point I literally had to get in a car (with a parent or guardian), go to the local Sam Goody, Best Buy, Media Play, FYE, Circuit City (or if I was lucky the seedy mom and pop record shop) and purchase music from a live human being. Not in an ironic, trendy, I-am-trying-to-be-nostalgic-with-my-vinyl-collection way, this was literally the only way to obtain music.

We older millennials are the last generation that will know and remember this experience. One of my favorite questions to ask people is what their first parental advisory CD purchase was ( Coolio “Gangsta’s Paradise”). That question doesn’t even exist for a younger generation.

If you don’t know what happened to change all that, you are probably not even reading this article (or at least I hope you aren’t). In a word, Napster, followed by Kazaa, LimeWire and all the other sketchy P2P sharing services available to any kid with an internet connection. Apple, thanks to iTunes and the iPod, built a new music normalcy (in its own fucked up way). Despite all this, a funny thing happened: there was still the idea of a collection.

Cover of "College Dropout"

Cover of College Dropout

Building your iTunes collection or album collection was still a thing. There were still bragging rights involved. Crate digging just became easier. Instead of having to grab a ride to the nearest record store, you could just click through any songs, any artists and any genre you liked.

Today, music fans exist in a streaming world. It is not even about owning the music. Fuck buying the album, or even the single, in 2013 it is about just being able to listen to it. The Spotify, Grooveshark, Pandora marketplace is the new normal, hell even Apple has jumped in with iTunes radio. When Spotify came state side, I dove in ears first, signing up for the premium option ASAP, and adding it to my shortlist of monthly expenses. I was quickly hooked. Literally, millions of songs at my disposle to listen to? The ability to organize playlists and share them with friends anytime? To quote Drake, “HYFR.” I was on a full music nerd tilt.

However, my music fandom is a little different now. Instead of looking for and seeking the latest albums, and putting in an investment of time, I can listen to new music immediately, and if I like it, great, I will put it on a playlist (more on playlists in a future post). If I don’t like it, no big deal. I’m still sitting on my couch. On to the next song. There’s little-to-no risk involved in absorbing new music. This risk is what the streaming services lack. My music fandom is now based on an idea of convenience.

One of my favorite features on Spotify is the ability to create playlists. I have a lot of playlists, and they are for all occasions— parties, flights, gym, Ciroc Saturdays, and monthly concoctions I swap out regularly— but, it’s not my music. It’s music I searched for, found and organized in a way that pleases me, but I have no investment in the individual pieces of music.

Jay-Z’s Black Album: a friend and I drove to Circuit City to both buy a copy. We then blared it the entire way to our friends house, where we sat in his drivway waiting for him to come home as we smoked hookah (highschool!). Wilco’s Being There: Found the CD in a friends-older-brother’s CD binder (throwback), after my first listen to “Misunderstood” I was obsessed and immediately bought the album as soon I was able to go to the record store. Kanye West’s College Dropout: a friend of mine burned it for me and gave it to me as a birthday present. The blank CD-R had College Dropout inscribed across it in blue sharpie, no track list. These are the stories I have of buying music, I can’t remember one since all my music went digital.

There’s a lacking experience in buying music that you have not yet heard. There’s a risk I miss. Now, my only risk is space on my hard drive. Is there a solution to this? Not really. This is just the new world of music fandom— millions of pieces of music available, all from the comfort of your couch, but without the story.

 

Written by

Social Media, PR, Creative for @littlerbige. I also ride @ThatNewRave.

 

 

When love isn’t enough.


but then again…it is sometimes.

 

I’ve learned a lot about what love means over the years. Love for your family (even though they seem crazy in so many ways), love for your friends (even though you think that decision they made was all but nuts), love for that job (even though it’s not really challenging you anymore), love for that man (even though that love simply isn’t enough).

Because it isn’t some times. We hate to admit it. But loving someone or some job, or some friend…simply isn’t enough sometimes. This year I broke up twice. Twice. Truth.

I left a job I loved, a team I loved, a cause I loved. But for the right reasons — a new adventure and challenge. But it was still a “break up.” I loved so much about my last startup — our mission, our product, our team, our leader(s) and most importantly- I loved my colleagues. Those amazing people that made me think and smile everyday. I loved them.

Joanna Lord

Joanna Lord (Photo credit: planetc1)

But it wasn’t enough. Enough to keep me from the new adventure that I felt compelled to take. It was time. I had to jump…with no plan, and fuck…it worked out. Dare I say, it worked out brilliantly.

This year, I also broke up with a man I had been dating for three years. We were supposed to move in together, get married, have kids and do all of those things. But again — love wasn’t enough. Sure we loved each other. He is an amazing man. But we grew apart. The drama queens want a better story but there is no one to give them. He is passionate about his road, and I am about mine. Both of us are right in so many ways — and love was not enough to keep us fighting for the future we created in our heads.

People hate admitting love isn’t enough. Because all of a sudden the photos they put on Facebook aren’t real. Those social updates aren’t real. Those holidays they spent. That story they marketed. Those secret Pinterest wedding boards. Those imaginary kid names. Those promotions at work. Those beautiful exits…weren’t real.

As if, because of the breakup, none of it was real.

I say — screw that. It’s all real…at the time. Because it was real then but no longer the reality doesn’t mean the love you felt at the time wasn’t real. I’d say quite the opposite.

If the love at that moment was real enough to convince you…then doesn’t it deserve a nod of the head?

Joanna Lord

Joanna Lord (Photo credit: planetc1)

I think so.

This year reminded me…plans are just plans. What really matters is what you build. What makes you happy. The people that are there next to you. Sometimes love isn’t enough. And sometimes it is. I truly believe, that all we do is defined by the second in this life we decide to give it. We learn from those moments that time does not align. And we learn…and love (at the deepest level known to us) at those moments that time does.

It’s the dichotomy we live with. And I—for one—am so damn thankful for it.

Here’s to 2014. To love…being enough.

 

 

Written by

 

 

 

CMO at BigDoor, social media lover and blog enthusiast. Sleeps rarely. Caffeinates often.

 

 

 

Ground-breaking research on Social Media


 

Recently a book, that I highly recommend to marketers, was published: Viral Marketing — The Science of Sharing by Dr Karen Nielson-Field who used research from more than 2 years of work, 5 different data sets, 1000 videos, 9 individual studies and a large team of researchers from Ehrenberg — Bass Institute for Marketing Science.

Here are some findings/summary:

A study found a 14% increase in the number of people who enjoyed a video following a recommendation vs those who had discovered it by browsing.

- The study also found that when a viewer enjoys a video, they are 97% more likely to purchase the product featured in it.


Generating arousal is key to achieve sharing success.

- Videos that evoke feelings of exhilaration tends to be more shared than any other high arousal positive emotion.

- Most videos are falling short on this.

- Videos, on average, that elicit high-arousal emotions gain twice as much sharing as those that elicit low-arousal emotions; yet more than 70% of all commercial videos evoke low-arousal emotions.


Focus less on creative appeal and more on emotional appeal.

- Knowing what emotional responses to go for improves your potential return, but not your risk. The right sort of emotional response should be best considered a necessary, but not sufficient, condition for a video to be a viral superstar.


No single creative device i.e babies, kittens, dogs, celebrity etc, is more or less likely to elicit a high-arousal emotional response than a low-arousal response, or vice versa, from its audience.

- Creative devices like babies, kittens, dogs, celebrity etc do not appear to work any better than other creative devices at gaining higher rates of sharing. Babies do outperform many other creative devices, but only when the video evokes high-arousal emotions. (and many don´t…)

- But of all possible creative devices, videos that display personal triumph appear most likely to deliver sharing success. Followed by science/nature/weather.

- So no need to focus on having a baby, dog or celebrity in they video. Instead invest in pre-testing to ensure the material makes the viewer laugh, gasp or get goose pimples.


Contrary to popular belief the brand is not the enemy.

- No relationship is evident between how much sharing a video achieves and the level of branding executed.

- High-arousal positive videos display more branding than the other groups, yet still share the most.

- The level of branding present has no effect on the degree to which a video will arouse viewers.

- You will throw money out the window if you do not:

emotion

emotion (Photo credit: Bonito Club)

1. Get the brand in early. 90% watch only the first 10 seconds.

2. Make sure the brand is visually frequently shown in the video.

3. Make sure the brand is verbally spoken at least once.

Otherwise the video will not influence future propensity to buy the brand.


More than 90% of viewers don´t share.

- The large majority of videos have a reproduction rate that is lower than 1 (where 1 means that every person who views it shares it with another person; that is, 1:1). Viral growth is a function of both time and this rate of reproduction. The closer the reproduction rate is to 1, the slower the rate of decay.

- When a video starts with a larger pool of seeds, the gains in absolute earned reach will outweigh the associated costs.

- Even for a video that shares really well, there are far more earned views when the brand starts with a large seeded audience.

- Views that result from personal recommendations, i.e a Facebook post by a friend, have a much higher share rate than views that do not i.e discovering a video while browsing.

- The effect of popularity on engagement(incl sharing) peaks in the first three to seven days of a video´s life.

- Less contagious videos can be winners, too (if they are well seeded or supported), is´s all in the interpretation of success…

- Videos that are shared more than we would expect given the size of their audience evoke high-arousal emotions and exhibit creative that involves personal triumph.

- Video content needs to be widely viewed in order to simply gain an average amount of sharing. (A virtuoso playing a violin in her bathroom may be fabulous but cannot be widely appreciated.)


It is important to get seen, it´s equally important to be remembered.

- Advertising works by refreshing and building memory structures that are linked to the brand.

- Memory cues make it easy, as most customers are light buyers, for the brand to be thought of and noticed at the critical time of purchase.

- Advertising needs two critical elements to be remembered: being well branded and getting noticed.

- Videos that evoke high-arousal emotions are most remembered. They are remembered around three times more than videos of low arousing content.

_Emotions 02

_Emotions 02 (Photo credit: SeRGioSVoX)

- Arousal is about getting some additional reach, but it is also about being remembered. Views alone can´t do this. Regardless of how many views an advertisement achieves, if it is poorly remembered it is ineffective. Even if your creative can be recalled and it has a high level of views, the advertisement is still ineffective if the brand is misattributed to your competitor. The brand must be prominent and easy to identify.

- BrainJuicer´s FaceTrace™, a facial detection measure spanning seven core emotions, study suggest that their “Emotion-Into-Action” score was a superior predictor of IPA Effectiveness Award winners compared with other common pre-testing metrics.

- Single-source data is the gold standard for measuring advertising effects.


Reach is important, but it needs to be quality reach to achieve maintenance and growth.

- Video sharing is not driven by brand love.

- While the Pareto Law is widely applied “rule of thumb”, it is misleading. It is actually the light buyers who are the most valuable for brand growth.

- NBD (Negative binomial distribution) tells us that as a brand grow it achieves higher market penetration and higher average purchase rates., but the shape of the distribution ALWAYS stays same. The bulk of change is seen among the brand´s very many light buyers and non-buyers. Light buyers contribute to the bulk of brand growth.

- Gaining many more buyers is key to brand growth, even though most of them buy infrequently. To do this, advertising must reach large numbers of light buyers = quality reach.

- Facebook fan pages consists of mostly heavy and moderate buyers and are inefficient at providing vast reach to customers that are most fundamental for brand growth.

- Brands should be wary of over-investing in the relatively small numbers of already heavy buyers who typically congregate around online brand communities.

PS. Let me be the first in line to express how grateful I am of the research done and published by Ehrenberg-Bass Institute in Australia. The work is important for marketers working with the aim of placing brands in the hearts and minds of people.

 

 

Written by

Taxi driver said: “I love this job! I am my own boss and nobody tells me what to do!” Passenger replied: “Take a left.” /// Head Of LIVE 365 @ McCann Oslo

 

 

 

Why Every Business Needs to be on Pinterest


It’s all about your imagination

 


Businesses need to be on Pinterest. Every business needs visuals to enhance their marketing. The way it’s used is left up to the imagination of the marketer.

One of the aspects of marketing that bugs me the most, is when an individual marketer says, “you have to be on social media.”

What a load of crock. That’s like saying everybody needs to get a university degree to be successful. While social media enhances the marketing of a business, it’s necessary to assess which ones are going to be effective.

After all, you have to consider the amount of time spent, and what the long term gains are from being on social media. But now I’m going to be that same jerk and tell you that there is one social media channel that every business should be on, and that’s Pinterest.

Having Pictures as Part of Your Marketing Strategy? That’s Crazy Talk!

Now, maybe it’s just me, but I’ve never heard of any business that told me that having pictures in their marketing material was a bad move for their marketing strategy. That having pictures of people using their products was such a terrible return on investment, that they didn’t have time to bother with it. “Don’t bother with pictures, it’s a waste of time!” said nobody.

Imagine a world with with no pictures, just words. We wouldn’t be able to sell 90% of our products and services if we relied on words. And copywriters would be hallelujah rich if that happened.

But we don’t live in that world. We live in a world filled with colourful pictures. Pictures of people. Pictures of mascots. Pictures of pictures. We are visual people. And to say that somehow a social network that is based primarily on photos is not applicable to your business is the same as saying photos just don’t matter.

Pinterest is More than Pictures

What can be hard for businesses to understand is that Pinterest is not just about pictures. To sound cliche, it’s whatever your business wants it to be. Just like a picture itself, there is no limit on how you want to use this beautiful and elegant social network.

It can be used as a way to collaborate on projects that require visuals. Using a secret board, a company can take a screen shot of a project they’re working on and then have employees comment on the project. Imagine Yammer, but with pictures.

Pinterest can be used to offer a nice and easy place where customers can see some of your best selling products from your retail or e-commerce site.

The visual network can help show the history of the company and the many different milestones that customers may not be familiar with but makes them feel a great sense of nostalgia.

It can be used to show off pictures of your executive team members assisting in charity work or giving advice to young business leaders as a way of boosting the company’s public relations image.

Pinterest can even be used to track competitor’s pins to find out what’s going viral and what’s not, so that you’re able to either copy some of their strategy or find a way to differentiate yourself from them.

Lastly it can be a great resource where you pin videos of the most FAQ’s. This way instead of customers trolling through a bunch of videos, your clients can look through quickly to find a video that’s for right for them.

Market Street

Market Street (Photo credit: glennharper)


The Only Limit is Your Imagination

Like a website, the only true limit is your imagination. If you think that a picture is just a picture, then you shouldn’t be in business. But if you think a picture is a way to tell a story, make someone cry, or encourage someone to think twice about buying your product, then use Pinterest.

Great visuals can only enhance a business, it can never hurt it.


Vincent Ng is the president and chief blogger at MCNG Marketing, and the authour of “How to Search Optimize Your Pins and Boards for Pinterest and Search Engines”.

He is a fanatic about social media and digital marketing, and can often be found pinning creative ads on his Pinterest account. You can follow him on Twitter @VincentNg.

 

 

Written by

A boutique marketing agency that focuses on social media marketing. Happily located in Vancouver. Mediums written by @vincentng who loves Pinterest.