a saving app

just finished reading Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers. There was an interesting part  about the Beatles playing 8 hour sets, 7 days a week while in Germany in the early part of their career. Improved their skills and stage performance immeasurably. An experience that defined and moulded them. Behavior modification, Rockstar-style.

As a person who doesn’t like budgets and living within my means, the current economic ‘situation’ is starting to feel like my Germany. (for the sake of this post, 1940-45 is not a factor) and while the Beatles had copious amphetamines and sex to get them through, i have my iphone and an app called ixpensit.

at $4.99, it was the first expense i added into the daily expense view.  Over the next few days i included everything i spent money on. it was a pretty horrifying experience to see how much i am spending for the sake of convenience (read: laziness). the app is really easy to use, has online functionality, that i think i am a recession away from really using. The biggest, to my non-saver mind is the fact that i am now thinking about what i am spending on and how much i could be saving. on a daily basis. The app also has the option to include a cap on your spending.

A repeat function for monthly expenses would be good. As well as voice activation for small miscellaneous expenses. Say ‘Misc’. Say amount. Say ‘Update’. another feature i would use, is a synch option between two iphones in the same household.

Aside from being a really efficient app, ixpensit does something else really important for me in this tight economic time. it makes me feel in control. Somehow, by recording everything i spend, the constant flow feels like it has stopped, becoming more of a drip, that i control. small change physically, but a huge one psychologically.

whether i am going to completely change my spending behaviors remains to be seen, but this feels like a good start, and i would this app recommend for anyone with an iphone who suddenly has need of a budget.

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non-linnear story telling app

Content changes on a daily basis. From the ongoing re-re-redefinition of what constitutes content, to the right type of content in the right place, to how text, audio, video, or a combination can be created at different quality levels with different apps or personal or commercial use.

Very rarely do you see an app that embraces the messiness and reality of life, as part of it’s content creation code, while helping you generate stories in a non linnear form. Why not bring the experience of consuming content closer to the living of an event or moment without heavy flash based immersion?

Enter the Korsakow system.  http://www.korsakow.com/

Still in it’s infancy,  (last time i spoke to the creator, he was considering making it open source) the system offers users a really easy way to tell stories, in a construct i think is closer to a real experience. life is messy. The Korsakow System makes this randomness a core part of its code, encouraging you to create stories in all their chaotic glory.

The UI has some way to go, and i think better SN tools will help it grow a devout following. Open Sourcing the project would also help. Not sure where this one will end up,  but i think there is something really interesting thinking and ambition here.

have fun.

Gamer response to the middle east

I’ve just finished playing a game of Call of Duty 4, online.

Voted best game of 2008 by many, it has a very loyal following, across 4 different game platforms. Xbox 360, PS3, PC and Mac. Online, gamers increase their rank by killing opponents and completing challenges. This ranking system is used to balance groups of gamers, who play as either American, Middle Eastern or Russian. Take on a gamer tag, create your set-up and head out to kick butt. A world away from the world, until that first bomb dropped on Gaza.

for anyone living under a rock for the past few days, or enjoying a sun drenched holiday without an internet connection, there has been a flair up in the Middle East. An area of contention since religion was invented, military confrontations tend to polarize, with impassioned supporters of either side sharing emotions and points of view across blogs, tweets and SN’s.

But over the past few days i have noticed another area. gaming. This particular experience happened on a mac, playing COD4. Since the most recent fighting in the Middle East began, i have experienced an angry intensity against characters that represent US troops, at a level i have never felt before. and i play daily.

the past few days have seemed intensely one sided against gamers playing on US teams. Playing as a middle eastern character, suddenly has taken on some kind of symbolism. like it was a statement of disapproval for what is currently happening.

the observation didn’t solidify for me until i noticed that gamers had changed their gamer tags, to include names like n00bush and outnow (tags on Mac COD4 don’t link with any other profile and gamers regularly restart their rank building with new tags after they reach the maximum 55). this was behaviours i hadn’t really seen before. and i have dedicated a quantifiable amount of time to COD4 in the last few months.

there are is no audio chat on the mac version of the game, only text, so i can’t be 100% accurate about who is playing. but there are a few clues. it is mac only, so probably college kids, designers, most creative industries contributes, across what i would guess is a fairly large age spectrum, upwards.

not sure if this is true across all platforms, but an interesting way to make a statement i thought.

Social Networking 2.0

i don’t know why, but i hate the whole 1.0, 2.0 suffixes that try to define where we are in development, when really, we are constanly upgrading and, trying to define a fluid, living thing with a single digit, seems a little limiting. but i digress.

Social Networks are coming into their own as viable distribution networks. For a few reasons. (i am based in am america so i chose facebook as a case study)

1. They have enough worthwhile, easily targeted eyeballs to appeal to a mass marketers’ broad demographic spectrum

2. The Facebook technology ‘Connect’, that allows users to sign into their profiles on a 3rd part site, are making influencers out of all of us. no longer just a select few. Our behaviours, a movie watched on say adidas.tv, becomes an endorsement from us, to our whole social group via Newsfeed. Not only a digital word of mouth tool, but also a reminder mechnism

3. Facebook users are spending increasing amounts of time on the site, and are using platform in more advanced ways than just having a bank of friends they know are there. It has become a primary communication tool for many and a business channel for others. If there was more rewarding content, entertainment would be on that list.

4. My 4th point is the most theoretical. I believe that FB represents a dynamic new way to tell story, weaving narratives in a more immersive way than say, TV or a flash build. Lonley girl 15 on crack. There is also room for an ARG for the right brand.

On my last point, the one thing i would add is that, to use the new medium effecively the content has to be created in a different way. from writing to creation. and the defition of content would need to evolve and become more targeted and focused.

to my mind, the right combination of paid(little) and earned media(a lot) is possible for a broad range of brands. and is part of the realisation of the sematic web. storytelling is going to string a lot more of our digital experiences together, our SN are just the next step

Keeping the peace

There are many differences between New York and Amsterdam. For one the Dutch are way more comfortable with acknowledging that as humans, we might have sexual urges and be okay with paying someone to satisfy them.

But another big difference is the noise. New York has a much higher decibel count.

Waking up at 7am this morning to a symphony of jack hammers, i was inspired by a thought. an idea so obvious, i am surprised it doesn’t already exist:

Sound Seeking Bullets.

The sign of a good idea, to my mind, is one, that when said, causes a metaphorical tap to open and allow other ideas or uses to pour forth.

So let’s take a look at a few applications. I’ll start with my own situation.
It is 7am. i am having a good night’s sleep. Dreaming of being a professional COD4 player, when what should be a grenade going off in an Iraqi-esque war zone, suddenly has a beat. It doesn’t turn into some weird middle eastern disco disco musical with Adam Sandler as the Zohan, rather, some construction workers breaking up the road with a massive jack hammer.

Now, i know it is New York, but with all my windows and curtains closed, some music playing and a pillow over my head, i should not be able to hear the jack hammer. To this end, i feel that my space has been invaded, and already dealing with a size deficient environment, my feeling is that i have the right to attack to defend the sovereignty of my space.

Enter SSB’s. Lock the sound of the jackhammer engine in with an easy to download iphone app, then fire and forget. sound gone, peace restored.

Then there are the birds. It is 6am. you have just got back from a crazy night out. All is quiet, until that first bird, the ring leader, sets all the rest off, and suddenly the whole city is a caucophany of bird sounds. Without SSB’s, you’d be saying good-bye to your sleep, but now, you lock in the ringleader, and quietly fire off a rocket propelled bullet, that does what everyone else in the neighbourhood will thank you for.

Some other uses:
Honking cab drivers
Cats on heat
Boybands

Sound Seeking Bullets, is an open source project, protected under a Creative Commons license. Please feel free to add any ideas you might have.

What we can learn from the presidential race

here’s a thought:

for some brands, the current Obama presidential campaign, is a road map to success through the current economic downturn.

Some thoughts on how the Obama campaign is thinking about media and connecting with voters

1. TV plays a role, but is no longer considered core

2. A social media strategy

3. a blend of marketing message and feet on the ground.

4. an online prescence that asks me to connect and believe, rather than pulling me into
papervision3D experience

5. the celebration of transparency

6. cracking the code on constant commuication

in the advertising world, TV got lost down the road of entertainment and forgot that it was there to sell. the brand become this weird thing that we were embarrassed of and only alluded to.

TV commercials tried to make me laugh, they tried to make me cry, but it never really tried to connect with me.

kind of like the Republicans now, trying to scare the shit out of me so i vote against my own best interests, without actually every really, talking to me.

The Republican party is in a world of pain, until they broaden their base beyond rich scumbags and stupid poor people. Because the next few elections are going to be a testament to who is better in the digital world. although i suspect the republicans are going to try at least once more to control it and shut down the communication channels

on the other side of the political aisle, the Obama campaign has shown how effective a truly digital campaign can be. They understood that with digital comes the need to for transparency and really connecting with your constituents.

here is a link to a review of the Obama campaign’s digital strategy in the primaries.

http://www.technologyreview.com/Infotech/21222/

In 2004 Howard Dean barely scratched the surface, only really focusing on fund raising.

Obama’s huge fund raising ability is not based on accessibility alone. If it was, i believe the campaign would have withered after the primaries.

There is an acute understanding within the campaign of what digital behaviors they are activating , creating and then encouraging to grow.

Activating their core group of brand advocates\ambassadors\evangelizers. Giving them the tools to influence their friends. Allowing them to pariticpate and feel like they are influencing the message, staying in contact, being transparent, standing for something that has relevence to them and they can believe in.

The fact that the candidate is a mostly controversy free individual with an electrifying personality, in a presidential race that for the first time is about a constant communication cycle and a need for the break from the current status quo is core to the success of this.

I doubt, even with the same tools, John Mccain would have been as big a success.

So what am i saying?

Republicans are traditional media and Democrats are digital media?

No.

i am suggesting that in the upcoming cycle, whether you are a presidentail candidate or a brand or both, success is going to depend on whether you have the kind of DNA and attitude that makes sense to a digital environment, where constant communication is still the holy grail for marketers, but Obama campaign has cracked. Big time.

A home base online, activation through social networks, mobile used to connect consumers, on the ground activity, active in responding to voters questions and concerns and more.

Obviously this is not going to be for every brand. Just like micro-sites or engagement strategies aren’t.

but if the brand can deal with a level of transparency and honesty, has interesting or insightful people at the core of their business model (athletes, scientists) and sees dialogue and content as a way to enhance their offering,

with some smart thinking, a good production solution and a decent digital strategist,
i think they’re going to benefit from the current economic down turn.

it is a going to be a bumpy road for established companies and an ongoing struggle for new ones.
to get there is going to be scary. cause fights among business partners. create huge insecurity among current suppliers, test whether you are really in business or just collecting a paycheck.

and along the way, you’re going to figure out if you have the right kind of personality for working in marketing now. And whether your staff do to. a mix of OCD, ADD and some passion.

No space for people who are waiting to retire, have given up, are scared of the future, think living a digital life is having broadband or lack curiosity.

sounds pretty selective, mostly because it is.

8 years of George Bush and his disastrous policies have raised the bar for success in the digital space during the current economic downturn.

but there are those who are mobilising right now and will be ready to take advantage.

My advice would be to buy some B12, and find a place that understands the potential of where the world is right now.

Marriage Saving Device


we’re globalised, right?

people from different countries living and travelling around the world

more than ever before, flights everywhere, even with expensive fuel

i bet there is a statistic for husbands who are away from wives, working at
the best job they could find, which turned out not to be at home. maybe for a a few months
maybe for undefined.

so here is a thought

these guys aren’t serial cheaters, they aren’t running away from their wives
they’re following a passion or an ambition or a need to find way to support their families
at a job they can live with

there is a lot of alone time, when they’re away from their wife or girlfriend.

they could hang with the single people for an extended period, but then they’re not
quite sure what you are doing there, cause you already closed their deal

nights can be a little tedious. when there is crap tv and no decent internet connection

that coupled with the fact that many men in this group are console gamers, in either
1st person shooters, sports sims and rpgs

leads me to a thought

playstation need to market the psp as a marriage saving device.
something to carry with you and have when the local TV is just too shit, you don’t have cable cause you are living in corporate housing, which while nice, is still not your place.
and your phone gets boring.

if you ever played games and found something you liked, that can be reawakened.

my insight on why i play 1st person shooters, is that trying to conquer the world or be a hero,
never seems to get boring.