Samsung Addresses Investor Fears And Growth Opportunity At CES 2014


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This year at Samsung’s CES special press conference on the day before the conference kicks off, the tone was somewhat different from years past: CEO and Chairman Kwon Oh Hyun started things off with an explanation of the market opportunity that stands before Samsung for the future. In some ways, it felt like a do-over of the special conference Samsung held last year for investors and analysts, which was designed to allay fears that the company has nowhere left to grow.

Samsung essentially argued that its growth will come from a deepening desire for innovation and technological change from consumers. Hyun noted that during the past 10 years consumers have embraced change faster than ever before, and that during the next decade they’ll embrace new tech even faster. The innovation will take place in 4 key areas that Hyun said will “change our world.”

Connectivity is the first of the four. Reach of smartphones and internet is growing, and adoption of these devices and services is skyrocketing around the world. It’s no secret that this is the case, of course, but it paves the way for Samsung’s vision of a broadly-defined connected home.

A second pillar is urbanization. Half the world population lives in cities, Hyun noted, and that will be 60 percent by 2030. As populations grow, cities need to get smarter, Hyun says, and Samsung will help them do that. Plus, populations are aging, and in 10 years 1 billion people will be over 60. Hyun asked how tech make the lives of an aging population more comfortable.

IMG_0391Finally, there’s an opportunity to address changing climate and the challenges that brings up. Extreme weather events such as hurricanes have increased by 200 percent since 1990, he says. the home becomes the important place in everyone’s life in times of dramatic weather changes. So what tech will consumers need in their home/shelter of the future? It has to protect, be fliexible and be responsive, and those are the guiding values Samsung is using to form its overall market strategy.

To protect means keeping people safe from outside threats including diseases, pollution and crime, so it’s likely we’ll see more connected security and home air quality/health monitoring gadgets. To be flexible means adapting to the changing nature of the average person’s work/life balance. Hyun noted that 11 million Americans now bring their work home and that number is always growing. As a result, our home spaces need to be open and multifunctional, with the ability to create and consume content anywhere, and any time.

Finally, our homes need to be responsive, which means according to Hyun that we want homes that understand our needs and show us key information and put us in control of our lives. Combined, Hyun says these three trends will shape the future home and provide Samsung with a huge opportunity for growth. Part of why is because the company makes chips, display panels and other parts, as well as devices, services and more.

The company pointed to its new Smart Home product on display at CES as a sign of where it’s seeing opportunity. This features things like remote doctor’s visits via TV for health and safety, as well as simultaneous TV viewing in the living room and on screens built into appliances for a more flexible living space that makes spending time with family easier. There are also new control interfaces, like using your Galaxy Gear to tell your home you’re going out and having it turn off air conditioning and lights as you exit.

michael-bay-samsungFrom this big picture perspective, Samsung then brought out other executives to look at the various parts of its business in more detail, but arguably the most important message was this first one delivered from the helm about where Samsung sees its opportunity lying in the years to come. Sure, they trotted out Mark Cuban and Michael Bay (who choked massively, getting out barely a sentence before walking off stage thanks to a teleprompter fail). They drew a lot of eager photographers close to the stage with a totally useless “Bendable TV” that can go from standard flat to gimmicky curved screen with a button press. They introduced new tablets that actually do seem to do a lot more with Android than most company’s light skinning has done thus far.

Across all of this, though, the main message was clearly one of reassurance. Samsung ended last year and started this one off with some significant drops in share value, and it needs to communicate more than just a continued commitment to making top-tier smartphones and tablets. The big picture vision of a connected future does posit a lot of growth potential for the right company, but it remains to be seen whether the parts demoed on stage today will add up to Hyun’s rosy picture of a tomorrow when Samsung makes your everything.

http://techcrunch.com/2014/01/06/samsung-addresses-investor-fears-and-growth-opportunity-at-ces-2014/

John Oliver To Host The Crunchies


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We’re excited to announce the return of John Oliver, former Daily Show correspondent and current bon vivant, at our annual Crunchies event in San Francisco on February 10, 2014. That’s right: Oliver will be back to give the Valley the loving drubbing it deserves.

Watch the best bits from last year’s show right here.

John Oliver has been a writer and correspondent on Comedy Central’s The Daily Show with Jon Stewart since 2006. And, for two months this summer he hosted The Daily Show while Jon Stewart was busy directing a feature film called Rosewater. John recently left The Daily Show and is back on NBC’s Community. And, in addition to Community, in 2014 he’ll be launching a brand new Sunday night comedy series with HBO. He’s also had multiple Writers Guild and Emmy Nominations for his writing on The Daily Show and won the Emmy Award for Best Comedy Writing In A Comedy or Variety Series in both 2009 and 2011.

The 2013 Crunchies will be our seventh annual competition and award ceremony to recognize and celebrate the most compelling startups, internet and technology innovations of the year. They will be co-hosted by GigaomVentureBeat, and TechCrunch. Best of all, the internet community is invited to choose who wins.

We invite all of you to come out on February 10 to participate in what’s one of the most exciting nights for all of us here at TechCrunch and for the tech community. You can get your tickets below and remember, you have until Sunday, January 26, 2014, at 11:59 p.m. PST to vote for your favorite startup.

Winners will be announced on Monday, February 10, 2014, at the 7th Annual Crunchies. See you there!

http://techcrunch.com/2014/01/06/john-oliver-to-host-the-crunchies-again/

Baby’s First Kickstarter


The Pros and Cons of Internet Panhandling

So, I’m doing a Kickstarter for my debut novel Nefarious Twit …

… and I’m halfway through the campaign and I’ve reached a little more than half the funds I need to achieve my goal and I am quietly dying inside not knowing if I’m going to make it. It’s been absolutely marvelous. So what’s your book about, McMillen? Why thank you for asking, attractive reader.

Madness. Murder. Children’s literature. Nefarious Twit is about all those things.

It’s also about 300 pages long, contains 14 full-page illustrations, and took me about 6 years to finish.

Oh wait, here’s my Kickstarter video for it to explain more:

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/2146934703/nefarious-twit-a-novel

It is, and I only have until November 9th to raise the cash for it, so feel free to throw money at it and get yourself a copy now, thanks.

You may have noticed by now that this article appears to be a thinly veiled piece of propaganda created by the author to promote the Kickstarter for his debut novel. Well yeah, of course it is.

This book is my baby, what wouldn’t you do for your baby if it needed help?

Didn’t you listen to Benedict Cumberbatch’s Khan speech from Star Trek Into Mediocrity when he was like, “Yeah, to save our families (grown ass babies) we’d all do terrible things.”

Didn’t you see John Q with Denzel? You know, Denzel Washington, the best actor ever? He’s so darn cool, he’s so darn clever.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OUaPUcJCp4g

(The dude from Malcolm X and Mo’ Better Blues, also Remember the Titans. Did you forget abut the Titans?)

In John Q, Denzel takes an entire hospital hostage to get his kid the operation he needs. So yeah, I will straight up John Q 5 minutes of your internet reading time and get my baby Nefarious Twitwhat it needs to survive. But hey, at least this is fun propaganda.

But here’s the other reason why I’m writing this. One lesson I’ve learned again and again while launching this Kickstarter and whenever I set goals for myself in general is this:

Ultimately, you’re on your own. At least at first.

So, if you plan on doing any sort of creative endeavor, listen to what I’m about to spread on your bread.

You’re on your own? But isn’t the whole idea of Kickstarter that you’re reaching out into the cozy, nurturing arms of Mother Internet and asking her to help you nurse your precious, beautiful dreams into fragile existence?

Yeah, but to get the old broad to listen, you’re going to have to do a lot of work in order for your cries not to be drowned out by the countless similar pleas for attention that every other artist without a checkbook is flinging her way. And this is not the internet’s fault.

Some art from my book Nefarious Twit

We are all bombarded every day with so much information online that it’s a wonder we’re not all drooling George Romero extras. Though sometimes….

And just to clarify:

Absolutely, I have been lucky enough to get help for my book even before Kickstarter.

I have had friends read drafts of it, my good buddy Daniel Singleton made the logo for the book (and it turned out exactly how I wanted it, which never happens) another good friend Tom Majkut from the excellent band Look Sharp shot my Kickstarter video for me. I’ve also had other authors, editors, and agents who’ve taken the time to give me their opinions on my writing.

Plus, all the people who have already donated their hard-earned money to the Kickstarter and/or shared the project online, to all of them I sincerely say thank you so much.

Even if this kickstarter doesn’t make it, I thank you for trying on this thing with me, for supporting and believing in me.

But even with all that, nobody is going to believe in your dreams like you are.

How could they? This is your dream, not theirs.

I don’t care if it’s your girlfriend, boyfriend, best friend, husband, wife, life partner, brother, sister, mother, or father. Yes, they’re going to give a shit, but not any more than is reasonable. After all, these people have their own lives, and their own dreams to make real.

Support them and let them support you back.

Just don’t get too disappointed if their zeal for your one-person, alt-history, feminist reimagining of ThunderCats performed entirely in a language you made up does not exactly match your own. It doesn’t mean your idea sucks, it doesn’t mean your supporter sucks. It just means no one is going to love your baby like you are. That’s what makes it your baby.

So you’re on your own there. But you will get some help. Here’s why:

Remember back when I said we’re bombarded everyday online with so much information? I was wrong. The truth is that we actually subject ourselves to our daily deluge of information. Which is a good thing for DIY’s like us who want to get the word out about our projects.

Because it means that people online voluntarily open themselves up to new ideas.

New stuff, new people, new creativity. Sure, some people just want to watch Hulu and play Farmville, but you don’t want to reach those sociopaths anyway.

You want your project to get in the paws of likeminded seekers, that like you, are all about getting in on the ground floor of the cool new things that pop culture is doing.

Some call these folks early adopters, I just know that when it comes to creative pursuits and the kindhearted and forward-thinking people who take a chance on them, that these are the people I want to hang with.

These are the same people who got into punk when the first snarled “1,2,3,4!” erupted from Dee Dee Ramone.

They’re the same people who discovered modern poetry when they listened to Ginsberg’s Howl read aloud by its author for the first time at Six Gallery in San Francisco.

They’re the same people who saw Star Wars when it first opened and told their friends that they had to go see this movie.

Kickstarter isn’t some lemonade stand, it’s Virginia Woolf selling the first copies of Orlando out the back of a truck.

(An old timey truck, sure)

It’s Jack Kirby going door-to-door telling neighbors the good news that Galactus is coming and that Kirby can sell you a front row seat to his arrival.

It’s Kurt Cobain filming a video showing him playing his guitar and singing something about feeling stupid and contagious then telling you that he needs your help so he can record his band’s second record with a good producer like Butch Vig.

I’m not saying that all the various creative industries are dying out or even that they should be. I am saying though that things are changing and Kickstarter is becoming more and more of a viable option to help people reach a wider audience . And that the internet helps those that first help themselves.

Also I’m comparing myself to geniuses.

Thanks, bye.

DONATE TO NEFARIOUS TWIT’S KICKSTARTER BEFORE NOV. 9TH BY CLICKING HERE.

Written by

Author of the ferociously clever novel Nefarious Twit. Now available at Amazon.com http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0991240405/ref=pd_lpo_k2_dp_sr_1?pf_rd_

Beyond Blogging — How Reorganizing Our Content Increased Leads By 800%


How do we make our content work for us? How do we make it as easy as possible for people to interact with our content and eventually become customers?

One of the hypotheses when creating Uberflip Hubs was that, by aggregating (and organizing) content into a single interface, we can increase engagement and provide a better content experience for users.

We strongly believe in content marketing and as such Hubs is also a core part of our own overall strategy. This means that we put our own solution to the test daily and can quickly test and validate the effectiveness of new or potential features. We’re not only the provider, we’re also the customer.

So, we thought we’d share what we’ve learned in the past several months. We’ll look at our engagement metrics, leads generation, how we leveraged Hubs and some of the product and business related challenges ahead.


Why We Built It (And The Problem With Traditional Blogs)

There were a few reasons we set out to create Hubs. The most compelling was that our customers (who were using our first product, Flipbooks, at the time) wanted a home for all of their content. A central place for their whitepapers, eBooks and magazines. But isn’t that just another form of content? Wouldn’t it be great if they were able to pull all of their content into one easy to navigate spot?

As we spoke with more and more customers, we realized that we were experiencing the same kind of fragmentation. Our blog didn’t truly encompass all of our content in a way that was easy to digest for our audience. We wanted it to be as easy as possible for people to jump from a blog post to a white paper to a video about the same topic.

Traditional blogs just aren’t set up that way.

So the concept of Hubs was born, with the goal of making your content “cross-discoverable”. A way for brands to centralize all of their content into a single (and pretty awesome looking) interface by pulling content from your social sites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube, your blog, eBooks, and whitepapers.

The idea was that people would be able to move from a blog post to a video to an eBook in the blink of an eye, finding more of what they want and ultimately spending more time with your brand.

In essence, we wanted to build something that both included our blog in the framework of a richer content experience and replaced our blog where you would traditionally find it on our main site.


By The Numbers (Comparing Our Old Blog to Our Hub)

Last month, we did a comparison of some key engagement metrics looking at the 3 months prior to launching our Hub (using the metrics from the old blog) with the 3 months post-Hub (where our Hub has essentially replaced our blog). Here’s what we found:

  • Time on site increased by 80%
  • Pages per visit increased by 49%
  • Bounce Rate decreased by 10%
  • Returning Visitors increased by 21%

Looks like pulling our content together into one experience has paid off in terms of engagements. Our readers are hanging out with us longer than ever before.

What’s more interesting, though, is the 800% percent increase in the number of free trial signups from our Hub compared to the number of free trial signups from our blog over the 3 month periods.

Sounds ridiculous, right? Not if you break it down. Let me explain.

Prior to moving to a Hub, the Uberflip blog was used to “educate, inspire and entertain” readers about marketing, content and digital trends. While we included a CTA (call to action) on the blog homepage and throughout our content, we found that they weren’t really enticing people to take action.

When we moved from our blog to a Hub, everything changed. Let me be clear in that the focus on lead generation was intentional, so the increase in free trial signups was expected.

A Hub is built to make it easy for brands to leverage their content into qualified leads. But the same content marketing rules apply. If your content sucks, it won’t work no matter how pretty the wrapping paper.

Here are the other key factors that led to higher engagements and signups.


Hub CTA Placements

On a traditional blog, CTAs are static and eventually become easy to ignore. With Hubs, we sprinkle CTAs throughout our content. They’re more dynamic, meaning that CTA placements are constantly moving and can quickly and easily be changed by your marketing team (read: no dev required).

Comparison of our old blog and a article in our Hub.

By keeping our Hubs CTAs relevant and fresh, and placing them strategically throughout different types of content, we’ve seen consistently higher conversion rates than their static counterparts on the old blog.


Custom Content Streams

One of my favorite features is Custom Collections, which also have a major impact on how well our CTAs perform. They’re highly targeted content streams about a topic, buyer persona, campaign, event, or anything else you can think of. So, we can cherry-pick specific pieces of content and put them in one place that is tailored to a specific audience.

One example is the “Everything HubSpot” collection which contains select pieces of content that we created when we first announced our HubSpot integration. This includes blogs, eBooks and videos all about HubSpot. Most of the time, we didn’t talk about the integration itself, but simply talked about HubSpot from the perspective of a user.

Since this was a pretty niche topic, we were able to get hyper targeted, promoting it specifically to HubSpot users. This collection proved to be one of our most engaging content streams, coming in second only to our blog collection.

Instead of asking our audience to sift through loads of content to find what they’re looking for, we’re able to curate our own content in a way that appeals to their interests. Similarly, you can see a broader shift towards a more customized approach with Twitter’s Custom Timelines and LinkedIn’s Showcase Pages.


UI / UX Effects

A ton of time was initially spent on the UX/UI architecture of Hubs. Since we were building a new product within our existing organization, we had to manage our resources and hired a local company to give our product team a hand with the concept. Since then, we’ve gone through a few iterations to get to where we are today. Here are the key UX/UI elements that contributed to the increase in engagement:

Infinite Scroll — The Pinterest-like endless scroll has proven to be addictive and this is something that people immediately experience when they land on a Hub homepage. It’s easy to continue to discover more content, in different formats.

Hubs homepage (a super-feed of all your content).

Mobile Ready — Our Hub is completely responsive, meaning that content is accessible anywhere. Our blog wasn’t, which is another factor that led to higher engagement. When we dig in a bit, we can also see that the percentage of visits from mobile has increased when we compare our old blog with our Hub from 16.45% to 20.73% (I expect this will continue to increase).

48% of people feel frustrated and annoyed when they visit a site that isn’t mobile friendly which is probably why you’re losing out (as we were) on higher conversion rates and better engagement metrics.

It Looks Sexy — Jenny Lam gave an awesome presentation at MozCon 2012 where she talked about the importance of design in building trust with your audience. If your audience doesn’t trust you, there is virtually no chance they’ll become customers. Like it or not, an attractive looking destination for your content is a must-have. Add to that, the predictions that content will be more visual moving forward, and the case for a great design has never been stronger.


The (Somewhat Bumpy) Road Ahead

We’re pretty pumped about the numbers we’ve seen so far from a product perspective. But there are definitely a number of challenges ahead (both product and business related).

Redefining Our Identity

Uberflip went from being a PDF solution to an all encompassing content solution. Trying to balance the needs of existing customers with a drive towards growth in a new market is tricky. At first, it resulted in muddled messaging and confused customers. We had to make a decision, and that decision was to go all in with Hubs. Flipbooks is now one piece of a much larger puzzle, whereas previously it was the focal point.

Onboarding Is Less Straightforward

Another challenge is the onboarding process for Hubs, which is more involved than Flipbooks. With Flipbooks, the signup process was incredibly tight. You could start using the product in seconds, even before providing an email address (you can try it out here). With Hubs, you have to go through at least 4 steps to get to the point of true engagement with the product.

On average, about 50% of people aren’t making it through the full signup process, so they don’t reach the point of full engagement. We’re getting a handle on this now but it will likely be an ongoing process with many iterations.

We Changed EVERYTHING

We changed way too much in one go: landing pages, signup process, pricing and packages. As a result, we weren’t sure what had the biggest (negative or positive) impact. Since then, we’ve streamlined the process and are more diligent about testing in a controlled environment, rather than making haphazard changes (although every now and then one of those sneaks through).

Our Subscriber Rate Sucks

As we continually test new CTAs via our Hub, we’ve seen click-through rates anywhere from 4.8% to 50% (if we’re seeing one less than 4%, we kill it and try something else). What we’ve realized is that in order for subscribe CTAs to be effective, they have to be placed everywhere. But this would limit other types of CTAs which might be more aligned with our goals at any given time. So, we’re working on baking in a different kind of subscribe CTA which, once proven, we’ll roll out to existing customers.

What’s Next

The beauty of having a product that we use daily is that we can quickly and easily test new ideas, provide feedback and iterate on what we already have.

While we’ll continue to test new features via our own Hub, we’ve also recently introduced Hubs Lab so we can get feedback on test features from our customers.

In the next few months, we have some lofty goals which include increasing our Hub subscribers (which by default means giving our customer the tools to do the same) and overhauling our onboarding process.

We’ll post updates as we go and hopefully you’ll glean some insights and practical takeaways as you follow along.

For more articles and to get the next update, enter your email address here.

This article was originally posted on the Uberflip Hub.

Written by

Entrepreneur. Tech Addict. Brand Geek. Data junkie. Biohacker. Director of Marketing @Uberflip. Tea lover :)

The Time I Failed at Outsourcing My Job


Failure. Oh sweet, sweet failure.

It was spring of 2010. I was finishing my Masters degree and I’d just devoured Tim Ferris’s 4-Hour Workweek. I was already feeling uneasy about going to graduate school, mostly because of the cost, and this book didn’t help. When you compare tens of thousands of dollars in student loans with the price of a book like the 4-Hour Workweek (the hardcover, extended version, no less), it’s hard to argue for traditional education, but that’s another topic for another day. Let’s take it one failure at a time.

Where was I? Ah yes. Graduate school, Tim Ferriss, and blood-sucking student loans. I decided I didn’t want to jump into a job after I graduated, and since I also had exactly $0 in capital to start a business, that left me with the option of doing some freelance writing work. I thought, “This is the perfect opportunity to put the 4-Hour Workweek to the test!” So I started doing some freelance writing online, and let me tell you, it’s a rough world out there. My limited experience with writing at that time was as Editor in Chief at my college newspaper. So I signed up with some online content farms that were paying $15-20 for 600-word articles, just to get my feet wet. I figured these sites would be as good a place to start as any. Once I got some articles up (mostly how-to articles about how to start child care businesses, for some reason), I started scheming about ways to outsource all or part of the writing process.

Tim Ferriss. The world’s hardest-working human guinea pig.

Bad Start

In hindsight, I was off to a bad start already. $15-20 per article doesn’t leave much margin to play with. But I was determined and inspired by Tim Ferriss and his ability to turn himself into a human guinea pig. I took that inspiration and did a little brainstorming. I figured that I could outsource the research of the articles, and have my yet-to-be-found outsourced assistant write up a rough draft. Then I could simply edit the draft, check all the references, and submit it. Easy! Editing a well-written draft takes substantially less time than writing something from scratch. I didn’t know how much I could pay for such a service, and I knew that most people would go to sites like Elance and Odesk to find freelancers. I decided to take a slightly different approach, and I went on Craigslist—in India—to do some price research.

I Was Shocked

I found hundreds of American companies looking for content writers willing to pay a whooping $1 dollar for 600-word articles (I checked again now, 3 years later, and there seems to be substantially less work like that available). I could have been really thrilled at how much money I was going to save, but this discovery didn’t leave a good taste in my mouth. I grew up in a third-world country, and my graduate degree was in Business and Sustainability, so these sort of exploitative prices raised all sorts of idealistic and ethical red flags. I believe that since the Internet is breaking down borders and access to talent from around the world, there’s no reason not to pay a fair wage for quality, no matter where it is. (However, I’m open to counterarguments.)

“…there’s no reason not to pay a fair wage for quality, no matter where it is.”

Once again, I decided to take a slightly different route, and I posted the job with U.S. minimum wage as compensation. I was not ready for what happened next. I received an enormous amount of responses. And not just any responses—I got emails from highly qualified professionals with 10 or 20 years of experience in their fields. I got emails from C-Level Executives, professional writers, and college professors. It was insane. Unfortunately, most of the candidates were not good writers. Most of their emails were hard to read and had an abundance of spelling and grammatical mistakes. But still, I was expecting a lot of entry-level candidates, so it was surprising to say the least.

You’re Hired!

I sorted through the candidates and picked two that seemed promising, both women. If they could do the research for one article per hour, and work from India while I was asleep in the US, then I would wake up to at least 8 or so articles ready to be edited. I would try to edit and submit at least 3 or 4 articles an hour, at a “profit” of about $10 per article, which would leave me with a respectable wage of $30 to $40 an hour. Not bad. I would pay them via PayPal, and communicate through Skype and email. Theoretically, it was a solid plan.

Now, anyone who knows anything about writing knows that this is pretty insane. You can’t possibly thoroughly edit and submit a 600-word article in 15 minutes. At least not at that level of experience. Did I mention I also had to find all the article images and write up the captions for them? Yeah, this was not going to work.

Still, I gave it all I had. I spent countless hours glued to my seat at coffee shops writing and timing every minute of a self-imposed 10-hour shift, not wanting to sit too far from the restroom so that I wouldn’t lose unnecessary seconds. Communicating with my new assistants was hit-or-miss, and I often ended up writing the articles from scratch because their drafts or outlines were unusable. It was hard, and it was hell. Finally, about 3 or 4 months into it, my girlfriend at the time said, “I think you should just get a real job.” Defeated and exhausted, I said, “Ok, fine.”

You Can’t Always Get What You Want

I learned several valuable lessons through my short stint trying to outsource my work to India.

1. Managing people isn’t necessarily easier than doing the work yourself. There’s a reason why good managers get paid a ton of money. Managing people is a higher-level skillset that most people looking to outsource often lack.

2. Failing is part of learning. I already knew this one, but I got to appreciate the process of failing in small chunks as you’re trying to inch your way towards making something work.

3. Tools can’t help you if your vision isn’t clear. What was my plan, exactly? Was I ever going to scale this writing operation to an epic team of assistants and live on a beach somewhere—constantly checking my email for articles to edit? I’m glad that I got to fulfill my curiosity, but I was sorely lacking a long-term plan.

Have you had any experiences with outsourcing that are similar? I’m curious, so connect with me on Twitter, @alexcequea, and let me know!

If you liked what you read, it would mean the world to me if you hit ‘recommend’ below :-)

Written by

Owner and Editor in Chief @iPhoneLife magazine. Speaker. Guinness World Record Holder. I write about tech and social good. @alexcequea on Twitter.

Published November 12, 2013

Stop Thinking the Government Can Fix Privacy


Relying on laws to keep your private information safe is like relying on a dog to guard a plate of bacon.

Some would say that there’s not enough outrage over the privacy violations made by governments and companies around the world. Some would be correct. The outrage isn’t being voiced in ways that one might expect considering the circumstances, but that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist.

The outrage is out there. It’s in here. It’s everywhere. The people of the world are fed up with the activities of our “leaders” who consistently demonstrate a lack of understanding and concern for privacy. Why, then, do we turn to politicians to try to fix things?

They won’t fix it. They can’t fix it. The avalanche started long ago and it is now self-perpetuating. It would take an upheaval of revolutionary levels in order to fix things from the top down and that simply isn’t going to happen. It can’t happen in America. It can’t happen in Europe. It is possible in some countries where the people hold enough anger towards their government that they’re willing to lose everything in order to gain something else, but they have bigger problems to worry about than whether or not someone knows who they emailed last week.

Some would say that the tech companies need to step up. If our private information is the bacon and the governments of the world are the dogs, then the big tech companies are the butchers carving up the pigs. They have absolutely no interest in handing over their cleavers any time soon.

Apple is one of the only major tech company out there that really doesn’t have a stake in the privacy war. They don’t need private data to be successful, while companies like Google, Facebook, Microsoft, and Amazon all rely on it like it’s a life-giving IV pumping dollars into their veins. That’s not to say that Apple is more trustworthy or under less influence from the government. Their sins are different. They cannot help us in this situation.

If we can’t look to the government and we can’t look to the tech companies, where can we turn for help? Who can fix this?


The Man in the Mirror Cliché

Here it comes. This is the part where the author writes an inspiring segment pulling in quotes from Michael Jackson songs and for some reasons starts paraphrasing Smokey Bear with “privacy” as the new punchline. He may even start referring to himself in the third person.

Thankfully, I’m not going to do that. I’m not going to harp on the concepts that your privacy is yours, that in many places around the world such as America in Europe we are empowered with the resources and technologies to keep our personal information private, and that it’s our responsibility to let others know what they can do and why they should do it.

Nope, not going to do it. Instead, I’m going to talk about pigs.


If the Governments are Dogs and the Tech Companies are Butchers…

…wouldn’t that make us the pigs being slaughtered?

Yes. Yes we are.

This really is a war. It’s not going to stop. Whether you want to see the writing on the wall or stick your head in the sand is up to you. Today is not the day to follow the other piggies who are learning to accept the age of Big Brother in order to keep their privileges and comforts. Some pigs are willing to stand tall and hide their ham hocks in places that the tech companies and the government can’t find. Those are the pigs that won’t be slaughtered as easily. Those are the pigs that will run from the butcher, evade the dogs, and live to oink another day.

You don’t have to be a conspiracy theorizing New World Order hunter in order to see the benefits of going dark. You may not even care that much about whether there are people spying on you or not. If you’re either one of those people, you really aren’t the concern here, nor are you the target of this article.

The people who are doing the most harm are those who are fighting for political action to be taken, the people that will be satisfied about the victories that are coming down the road in the form of new laws and more safeguards. These people are going to be doing harm because they are the ones who will lull the rest of us into a state of complacency.

The “victories” that are coming down the road will not fix the situation. If the tech companies have their cleavers taken away, they’ll find new ways to slice our data. If the NSA has its head chopped off, two more will pop up in its place. We aren’t going to be able to stop the governments from getting the data. Through political action, we will be pushing them deeper into the shadows. They won’t cease their activities. They’ll only find new ways for their activities to manifest, ways that can evade detection. It’s an unquenchable hunger. They’ve already tasted our bacon and they won’t accept anything less.

Remember this: none of these things are new. If it weren’t for the revelations of Edward Snowden, most people would have no idea the depth in which the governments of the world are watching everyone and each other. If they got away with it for so long, what makes anyone believe that they won’t do it better next time?

If you think there won’t be a next time as long as we find a political solution, then it’s too late for you. The dogs are already chewing on our pork chops.

Written by

When in doubt, pray.

Soshitech.com – An Email Interview With @BrianAdams_2 Creator Of @MyCampusApp


What is the MyCampus App?

MyCampus is a iPhone app for college students that gives them the ability to buy and sell items with other nearby students. It is what we like to refer to as social commerce in which you know a bit more about the buyer/seller as well as providing students with a private messaging system. By doing these we add a bit more transparency to the peer to peer market when compared to Craigslist.

How many downloads do you have? 

Number of downloads is currently N/A as we haven’t officially launched yet. There is about 250 Beta testers at the moment as we continue to refine the product and its offerings. I believe we are currently on the third build of the application. While the number of downloads is important for mobile products, I feel that more important metrics for a marketplace would include- # of items posted for sale, value of those items, % of items that actually sold and DAU.
How much do you charge for each download?
MyCampus is a free application to download. As with most marketplaces I have a few different options to produce revenue but my main focus is to build an active community of buyers and sellers. Because without those the planned revenue model won’t be feasible.
How long has this app been in the app store? 
Just a couple of weeks. Although it is still in beta I decided to put it into the App Store. The reason for this is that distributing betas to your testers is somewhat of a broken process with many individuals getting confused about the entire test flight process which requires sending your UDID. By having it in the App Store i can simply send something the link when they request it.
Are you working on anything else?
Yes, I’m currently working on a couple of different things. Aside from being a full-time (20-credit hour) student at Ohio University, I still find time to maintain existing projects/endeavors and new ones. I still maintain BobcatClassifieds.org (Where the idea of MyCampus originated), I see pretty consistent usage from students seeking housing, roommates, and sublets. Since it was founded in late 2012 it’s had a little over 14,000 unique visitors from Athens, OH (where Ohio University is located & has a student population of 20,000). I decided to keep this website running as it does product some revenue, and it does add true value to some of the students here at Ohio University. I’m also working on another mobile marketplace as well, while not hyper-local it will offer the transparency and ease of use. Think Poshmark for men. I have a team of 3 working on this along with myself.

Are you in this project alone?

Yes MyCampus and BobcatClassifieds.org are both solo endeavors of my own. I do have interns who primarily focus on marketing via social media. I do plan to have campus reps at specific universities once we do launch.

Do you have any backers?

Yes, during the Summer of 2013 I participated in an accelerator where I received $20,000 in seed funding. That allowed enough of a runway to get through the program and a few months to get the initial product ready.