Going Underground – August 19th, 2011

by admin on August 20th, 2011
Going Underground

In San Francisco for a wedding last weekend, I was surprised that protesters were attacking the very clean and efficient BART commuter rail system, based on allegations of security officers’ use of excessive force. BART tried to thwart socially-networked agitators by shutting off the system that gives riders the ability to use their phones while inside the tunnels. Many commentators (few of whom have ever been on a subway train, I would imagine) immediately compared this to the British government’s desire to squelch riots by shutting down social media networks in that country. But here’s the difference, as soon as you go back above ground, any BART rider has immediate access to all available wireless signals. And if you ride San Francisco’s other subway –the Muni– you’re always signal-less underground anyway.

So What’s That You Do?

In a job interview this week for a marketing position I was asked the dreaded question “so what exactly is a ‘social media advisor’?” The ideal would be something like Reuters.com’s Anthony De Rosa who uses every tool imagineable to plumb the depths of online conversations in order to come up with real-time news and stories. In my own case, however, it simply means keeping an eye on social networks, cultivating online relationships with others, and being connected to people that count. You might think Facebook is all about cute cat videos (which it sometimes is). But it’s also a place where people in the 21st Century gather to chat, gossip and conspire. So if you want to get to the heartbeat of our culture, even a little guy like me can help.

How do you stay in the loop?

When walking the streets of New York, I’ve noticed that a small percentage of people communicate with others by shouting into cell phones (usually old “clam-shell” models) but the business-savvy and the young-and-hip all seem to be tapping away (texting, e-mailing, facebook-ing, etc.). What’s your experience? Would you rather call an old friend or snap a photo to send him electronically? A new study out from the Pew Internet & American Life Project suggest that, actually, you might just be PRETENDING to use your phone. Hello? Hello?

Tell Me Less

As a marketer, anecdotes bug me. People use them as a shorthand way of saying “since I observe the world this way, the world IS this way.” Thus my exasperated reaction this week to an article claiming the demise of the personal computer by an author who noted that in the cafe where he was seated, all he could see were Macs and iPads. It’s like going to a rental car center and noticing that everyone around you is driving a white four-door sedan and proclaiming the death of the station wagon. While the claim might have some merit, the argument can’t be based on the circumstantial evidence.


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