Archive for the 'web and tech' Category

what’s flickr done lately? plenty!

Flickr Fills Social Media Marketing’s Bill

Flickr’s had an on-again, off-again relationship with photographers over the years. What started as a stand-alone cloud service that debuted in 2004 and catered to the professional market with a paid option, was pushed to the background after being acquired by Yahoo in 2005 right before the dot-com bubble popped.

When Yahoo hired Marissa Mayer as CEO to shake up the troubled social-news-entertainment-search URL, she moved quickly to revamp the languishing asset, turning it into what it is today – a fully functional resource for all photographers that offers 1TB of free storage to every Flickr member.

no shortage of online storage options

While there’s no shortage of free storage silos – from Apple to Google to Dropbox and more – Flickr’s got a lot more going for it than just online access.

The latest round of upgrades features a fresh textual filter that allows selective image recognition filtering even if the image isn’t tagged with matching text. Your search term “red tomato” is recognized even if the red tomato isn’t tagged. Green wheelbarrow? Covered. And the returns are quick, no waiting in line.

Earlier this year they debuted Camera Roll, a feature that automatically displays a user’s images chronologically that also packs a powerful search punch, while automatic grouping of images on upload is another tweak aimed at promoting greater utilization and engagement.

Fresh mobile apps are also coming out, making the continued transformation from what began as a storage solution into a fully implemented social channel a reality that while it doesn’t pose a threat to Facebook operates perfectly within its own sphere of devotees.

social media marketing metadata options

When a user takes the time and has the insight to implement the powerful metadata opportunities offered by the service, Flickr becomes a social media marketing superhero. By taking advantage of albums for event grouping, headline, location, description, and various other available tags, users turn visual content into easily searchable content that can stand alone as unique content or be cross-referenced to bolster online content elsewhere.

Power users like Josh Hallett’s hyku stream, with over 25,000 images online, illustrate how adept Flickr is at dealing with quantity.

The Commons project is Flickr’s collection of free public domain imagery from the Library of Congress and other sources. Flickr can also filter Creative Commons licenses, including free to use with various restrictions.

For me, Flickr is the perfect still companion to YouTube’s emphasis on video, and a solid addition to a well-rounded social media marketing strategy.

social top source for mainstream media

social networks drive mainstream media

for the first time, social channels drove mainstream reporting

For the first time, social channels drove the broadcast, cable and print news cycles and were repeatedly sourced for content and tone. Big brands soared to the top of mainstream media reporting in February as a combination of unrelated events underscored the importance and immediacy of social engagement.

Consumer brands Oreo cookies and Maker’s Mark bourbon both got a thumbs up for their conversation handling. Oreo’s reaped a whirlwind of p.r. goodwill for their initiative during the Super Bowl partial blackout, while MM parent Beam quickly did an about face after announcing a change in the whiskey’s formulation.

Those examples contrasted with Carnival Cruise’s headlines for a different reason, and who knew that President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address and the Republican response would offer a gold-plated opportunity to score huge headlines. Unfortunately, not everyone is up to the task of monitoring, let alone responding, to social media’s powerful audiences. Read more here.

critic questions future of electric bikes

 

Zero's 2013 S model

(above) 2013 Zero S from Zero Motorcycles

despite eco-promise of evs, shortcomings still outweigh strengths

An article in last week’s New York Times, while leaving the door slightly ajar for the channel’s future, makes a reasoned case against a present marketplace that features electric motorcycles humming around the urban landscape in silent flocks of environmental uber responsibility. (See earlier post on Mercedes Benz plans for a 2014 market entry.)

Reporter Dexter Ford writes in the paper’s Automotive section about the challenges facing the nascent industry, not least of which is cost. Far cheaper conventional alternatives, eco-friendly and offering the same or better mileage per comperable fillup, are getting top billing as the major Asian motorcycle brands begin to flex their muscles in taking on not only high-end electrics but cheap, disposable Chinese scooters as well.

styling overhaul resets brand

Compounding the confusion over electric’s future is a same-day post on the NYT’s Wheels blog on Zero’s 2013 lineup just introduced at Intermöt. In what’s seen as a responsive reaction to marketplace concern, the Santa Cruz, CA, company is moving away from the mountain bike inspired initial design towards a more familiar traditional look courtesy of former Buell designer and now Zero’s chief technology officer Abe Askenazi.

Between the high performance Lightning, the gyro stablized LIT Motors C1, or the mainstream (for electrics) bikes from Zero and Brammo, interest isn’t going away. And neither is the significant cost differential, or the lingering comparisons to Segway’s marketing rationale.

Whether that same interest will translate into sustainable sales for complete bikes or morph into a niche industry of DIY builds sourced from frame makers, engine manufacturers, and battery suppliers might be the unanswered question.

china’s syndrome: getting past the past

conceptions about china may be incomplete

When it comes to opinions, those regarding China by Westerners seldom rise to superlative. From child labor sweatshops to cheap plastic trinkets to shoddily constructed knockoffs to IP piracy, the average take is commonly one of polluted cities and human rights abuses. Apple’s iPhones aside.

SapientNitro Global Marketing Strategy VP Freddy Laker tackles the existing memes with a compelling view of an alternate digital universe that’s on track to provide over half of all online content by 2015. More revealing is his take on the web landscape trod by Chinese, with same as, yet different, versions of familiar check-ins like facebook, Groupon, twitter, etc.

Does the electronic firewall separating the PRC from our digital daily life matter? Apparently not, as the Chinese entrepreneurial spirit has spawned look-alikes in a stunning variety of flavors, all without missing a beat.

This slideshare adaptation of a 2012 SWSWi preso “China – Will It Redefine Our Digital Landscape?” is a half-hour peek into a world I didn’t imagine existed. Bonus footage: Laker’s unique strategy for assimilation into China’s culture. Hint: TMZ meets ET, hatches HuffPo hybrid.

what’s it like? don’t ask – just watch

 if you have to ask…

Next to “What came first?” the most difficult question asked by non-riders is what’s it like to ride a motorcycle. It’s a question that’s given rise to countless variations of the same t-shirt, all to the point that if you have to ask you’ll never understand.

Which brings me to this wonderfully expressive short by motojournalism. Two guys, reflecting on a lifetime of deep friendship and mutual respect, made possible by a jointly shared love of offroad riding.

I’m still not sure if it explains what riding’s like to someone who doesn’t. But it sure worked to raise my pulse a couple of notches.

the art of favicons – youtube revisioned

Just noticed YouTube’s updated favicon. Cleaner? Yes. Better? No. Favicons are one of the web’s finest tiny treasures, used to impart individuality and brand identity at the most basic browser URL address level. It’s a mini-logo that IDs the site as original and authentic.

The process of favicon creation is a definite art, not just the result of taking a logo or trademark and shrinking it down to a 16 x 16 pixel square. Roughly comparable to building a sailboat in a bottle, the successful digitalization of a mark is done at the pixel level; the harsh limitations of bitmap art that will eventually live as a rasterized facsimile.

In the case of YT, it’s pretty obvious that Google is in the process of homoginizing their various properties. I never thought the original YT worked, but it was identifiable. The new favicon is simply a reskinned play button that, while cleaner, doesn’t communicate anything unique.

the end of end-to-end online print?

Khol Vinh is a designer. Not that unusual, but his previous job as design director for nytimes.com makes him unique and his skillful accomplishments considerable.

He publishes his highly refined blog ‘Subtraction’ on the Expression Engine platform, which alone qualifies him for a spot at the podium. Khol takes what might be the long tail view of publishing content for consumption when he predicts that he, “…just can’t see the end-to-end magazine format surviving.”

In a short, insightful interview on digiday, he challeges the cultural tradition that starts on C1 and proceeds to C4, digital pages turning at regular intervals like scheduled stops on a train trip.

Read more of Mr. Vinh’s insight into digital magazine publishing here. Originally sourced in a posting at Poynter.

compuserve’s first live digital image

Digital photograph of ASMP Central Florida chapter February, 1993. David Heller (seated, center) provided IT supervision. ©John Siebenthaler

my digital photo first upload viewed live on compuserve

The photograph above is one of the first real time, commercial digital images ever viewed on the internet.

Today we snap anecdotal photos by the billions, using miniaturized smart phone cameras to simultaneously update our visual interests to any number of social sites. It wasn’t always this painless. This is what it looked like in the beginning.

ASMP Central Florida Chapter Newsletter March-April 1993 February, 1993, and commercial digital photography is in the very early stages of development. Essential JPEG (.jpg) algorithms now taken for granted were still being finalized. TIFF was the standard (and inefficient) format for rasterized image content. <download chapter newsletter (left) PDF

At the same time while what we now know as the web and its browser viewed rich content was still being imagined, the internet of the early years ran over household telephone lines behind an impenetrable wall of individual cantons.

I belonged to CompuServe, the first and then largest of a half-dozen or so commercial intranet services (AOL, Prodigy, GEnie, each serving their own customer base and incapable of talking to each other) popular at the time. Members jumped online with dialup modems that connected to local access nodes peppered throughout the continent. Common practice when traveling was to tote along a phone jack hack kit and a list of hit-or-miss toll-free numbers.

first national online site for professional photographers

As an administrator of Compuserve’s Special Interest Group (SIG) Photography forum, I was able to carve out a private niche for the American Society of Magazine Photographers, becoming the first online presence for a national professional photographer’s organization. (I also formed and chaired ASMP’s first technology committee, authoring the first report to address the issue of online digital access and what that might mean to photographers’ usage rights.)

kodakbluechip-2

A regional meeting in Orlando of Florida’s ASMP chapters was the opportunity to photograph members with Kodak’s beta DCS 200mi Digital Camera System. I’d made the loaner list for their $20,000, black and white only, heavily modified motor drive Nikon mated to a small, slow hard drive powered by 16 rapidly drained AAs. (So much for blaming Kodak’s eventual bankruptcy on a lack of digital imaging knowledge – this was the first practical digital image capture commercially developed.)

There was no in-camera preview; the image first had to be transferred (over SCSI cables) to a Mac IIsi for viewing in Photoshop and downsampling before being uploaded to Compuserve’s mainframe in Columbus, Ohio, a process which took nearly half an hour over a staggeringly slow 2,400-bps modem.

To complete the project, Compuserve’s Photography forum owner in Sacramento had to merge the image into the forum library, and within 15 minutes it was available for viewing and download by ASMP members worldwide. As part of the experiment, ASMP members in three separate chapters throughout the country were also able to conduct live online chats within the forum. The photograph above is one of the first near real time, commercial digital images ever viewed on the internet.

clues to cycle world’s future hinted

wsj reports on hearst new media aspirations

One of the first departments to get the ax after Hearst announced last June the completion of the HFM media sale that included Cycle World among others was that brand’s social media department.

That was followed last month by a rumor on the alt-lifestyle site Hell For Leather (subscription required) that the title was already up for sale, again, possibly to the first bidder willing to step forth and make an offer. Any offer.

Today’s Wall Street Journal announcement has Hearst looking very closely at the digital components of their extensive media empire, which now includes 15 dailies, 38 weeklies, nearly 200 magazine titles, and an eclectic collection of local t.v. and cable outlets ranging from A&E to ESPN.

WSJ points out the obvious: Hearst is caught in the same dilemma as very other purveyor of traditional media; namely, a no longer debatable downward spiral of sub and ad based revenue that, like Rosebud, is lost forever.

And it is to that end that corporate strategy now seems heavily focused on building out Hearst’s Interactive Media group and with it a pronounced shift in emphasis from old to new media and with it all the promise offered by the tech sector.

Too soon to tell if any of this will spill over to the Newport Beach offices of America’s most popular two-wheel journal. But if it does, that can only be good.

tim tebow: just do it just got better

here’s how viral’s done

There’s not much Tim Tebow does that I don’t like. Actually, there’s nothing he does that I don’t like, and a whole lot that I do. His new web site timtebow.com has a fresh look, his YouTube collection’s growing, and he’s keeping his head above water in the Denver altitude.

If this ad was built around anyone else, it would be a laugher. Instead, it just brings a smile to my face. Role model? It doesn’t get any better.




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