greg swan throwback thursday verizon

I was interviewed by the Verizon Wireless (client) team about my personal listening through technology habits this week

“Spotify has changed my lifestyle,” he says. “I can see what my friends are listening to, the service will recommend albums and most importantly, I can access almost any album I want and stream it in its entirety with no ads onto my phone.”

Read the whole thing here:
#ThrowbackThursday: Evolution of Personal Music Tech.

So what is it? The answer is “cinematic reality.” Essentially, Magic Leap is a device that makes virtual objects appear in real life. And it was worthy of a $542 million investment from Google. It’s also rumored that Legendary Pictures has a notable investment and potential stake. All we know is that the company is working with light-field technology. BusinessInsider revealed that Nvidia’s use of the technology made 3D images “appear more realistic and natural to your eyes.” The idea is that Magic Leap could do the same for movies, gaming, and virtual reality/augmented reality.

via 14 startups that will change our everyday life: VentureBeat

But while Oculus wants to transport you to a virtual world for fun and games, Magic Leap wants to bring the fun and games to the world you’re already in. And in order for its fantasy monsters to appear on your desk alongside real pencils, Magic Leap had to come up with an alternative to stereoscopic 3-D—something that doesn’t disrupt the way you normally see things. Essentially, it has developed an itty-bitty projector that shines light into your eyes—light that blends in extremely well with the light you’re receiving from the real world.

via What It’s Like to Try Magic Leap’s Take on Virtual Reality | MIT Technology Review.

Here’s the TED Talk from 2014:

“I believe the best managers acknowledge and make room for what they do not know—not just because humility is a virtue but because until one adopts that mindset, the most striking breakthroughs cannot occur.

I believe that managers must loosen the controls, not tighten them.

They must accept risk; they must trust the people they work with and strive to clear the path for them; and always, they must pay attention to and engage with anything that creates fear.

Moreover, successful leaders embrace the reality that their models may be wrong or incomplete. Only when we admit what we don’t know can we ever hope to learn it.”

― Ed Catmull, Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration

Ed Catmull on leadership and shrugging off proven models

“It’s not an effort to drive traffic to the site. That’s very hard to do on Instagram,” said Alexandra MacCallum, assistant managing editor for audience development at the Times. “It’s much more about building awareness and, hopefully, loyalty for The New York Times broadly, but particularly for the Times’ incredible visual storytelling.”

via Inside The New York Times Instagram strategy – Digiday.

Gawker got its feelings hurt that it hurt Coke’s feelings and that, in turn, hurt consumers’ feelings.

I don’t entirely agree with the premise of the outrage, but it’s a passionate argument held by many that is worth paying attention to.

In the era where IRM (“influencer relationship management”) is a thing, and social advertising, blogger networks, sponsorships and native advertising have finally been quantified as business drivers, we marketers have a responsibility to never forget the human side of our business…

What’s been lost in the friendification of corporate brands is that by their very nature of brand-ness, brands are diametrically opposed to our interests as humans. They exist solely to distract, deceive, and manipulate us out of our money—and in the case of Coca Cola, freely dispense diabetes and obesity. There is nothing relatable in a brand. It’s an entity designed for the single purpose of extracting money from you by any legal means, no matter if you don’t need or even want what’s being sold. Even if the thing being sold is very, very bad for you—the brand will persuade you it’s silken and lovely. A brand will systematically and perpetually convince you that your best interests are incorrect—this is the behavior of an abusive partner, not a friend. Not even a stranger! Brands hate you.

And still, people love slobbering all over branded membranes.

My counter-point: Brands don’t have to be your friends, but they can be friendly.

Passion for brands is a real thing, and it’s not always about sales.

But often good social marketing really is about sharing your brand advocate stories with others in order to drive sales. Or empowering your brand advocates to share that advocacy – often through their own channels. And yes, things like access, money and incentives exchange hands. Much like has always existed in the traditional media and traditional advertising worlds.

Not all consumer engagement programs need to earned and grown from an organic base of advocates, but I believe the best ones are. Not all products are amazing and solve a problem, but I believe the best ones are.

The beauty of the social media era is the new-found accessibility between individuals and the companies, organizations, politicians, celebrities, musicians and countless others. The walls are down.

Now we have to be careful what kind of bridges we’re building.

The monetization of emerging communication channels isn’t new, and neither is branded content on those channels. However, the social era was built on the promise of transparency and authenticity, which I agree many brand managers are still struggling to embrace ([rant]even as Facebook nears its 11th birthday[/rant]).

It’s hard to give up control, even if it’s the right thing to do. Even if someone uses that control to be a cynic or destroy your idea.

Okay, so is the brand/human/friend conundrum a necessary evil or an emerging opportunity? I would say it’s less a slippery slope downward and more a fine horizontal line we need to walk forward. There will be slips, wins and major catastrophes, but that isn’t going to stop brands from trying to humanize themselves and find touchpoints for engagement. It’s up to us to build programs that are laser targeted on a brand promise, engage advocates in a way that adds value, AND tie to measurable business objectives.

It ain’t easy. That’s obvious, right?

I think outgoing General Mills CMO Mark Addicks would have some strong counter arguments

Products come and go. Brands endure.

They are a challenge to build, a challenge to steward as consumers and markets change, a challenge to evolve strategically.

Brands force us to make choices, such as who to be for, where to play, when to urgently accelerate–and when to stop and have the courage to say ‘no’.

And it is far easier to destroy a brand than to build one. Actually, frighteningly easy.

Building and growing a brand requires that we, too, continue to grow and evolve at the pace of the consumer and marketplace. And that we are accountable for stewarding each brand to a better place.

NYT: The Virtual Reality Content Race

Poynter: Most of The New York Times’ most popular items last year weren’t news stories

ces 2015 Ah, the Consumer Electronics Show: the annual international destination for the most forward-looking technology each year, matched with a frenetic navel-gazing from industry insiders that pales only to the self-aggrandizing swagger of the tech world’s brand behemoths, and big promises from baby hardware start-ups hoping to make it big on a non-working plastic prototype and a semi-polished sales pitch.

Oh, and there are always more than a few gems that make it all worthwhile.

It’s a huge show. I logged 40,000 steps walking every aisle of the show floor over 48 hours, and I’m sure I still missed something.

It’s my third trip to Vegas for the annual tech toy fest. The first was seven years ago (2008 recap); then last year (2014 recap).

For 2015, I can tell you I was inspired, underwhelmed and energized at what I found at this year’s show. This was a year of paradox for a culture in the age of technology transition.

There were more booths with Oculus Rift virtual reality demos than companies selling the 360 degree cameras and software needed to create content for it. However, there were many companies exploring new ways to maneuver in 3D and IRL realms, including via feet, ears, wrist and shoes. And NFC tattoos.

There was more talk about autonomous cars as a guaranteed reality than the infrastructure and near-term, baby-step innovations required to support a more realistic evolution.

The TVs this year were truly more picturesque than real life. Except the majority of programming is just finally starting to catch up to 4k, so buying an 8k TV would be lots of wasted pixels.

I witnessed people walking up to strangers and letting them plop a brain scanner on their noggin without a semblance of acknowledgement there could be side effects — or who owned the data from the experience.

There were drones galore. Talk about smart watches, smart homes and smart wallets. But none of it actually plays very well together, and not a lot of it solves immediate problems.

It seems to be common knowledge that if a device can send a notification to your phone, then it’s awesome. I struggle to disagree with this assessment, myself. And enchanted objects — regardless of how life-improving they may be — make non-smart objects look all the more dumb.

There were an increased number of 3D printers this year, and an encouraging base of 3D handheld scanners and material providers growing up to bolster the category.

Last year, the threat of an Apple Watch loomed over the wrist wearable and smart watch vendors. This year Apple stole some mindshare by announcing a March launch date on the first day of the show.

Meanwhile, the rise in haptic technology is truly amazing, and I look forward to that category growing into our computers, wearables and autos. Although, someone will surely get burned (literally), and I fear miseducation will impede its adoption. I guess we’ll see.

Here are some of the advancements I saw this year that caught my eye, separated into the following categories:

  • Virtual Reality
  • The Future of Hands Free
  • Technology to Impact Your Daily Life
  • The Future of Personal Transportation
  • Television
  • The Drones are Coming!
  • Internet of Things
  • Robots, because CES
  • Music
  • The Ridiculous Side of CES

Here we go!
Continue Reading…

From Seinfeld to Snapchat — Backchannel — Medium

We don’t need television to show us how to share the yada, yada, yada; we already know how to communicate with each other. When a new social tool comes along we tend to figure out how to use it pretty quickly, much to the chagrin of the previous generation. Our need to share life with other people hasn’t changed in the digital age. It didn’t go away with the invention of the cell phone, just as it didn’t go away when the land-line telephone was created. The technology changes but the communication stays the same.

via From Seinfeld to Snapchat — Backchannel — Medium.

kindohmI was interviewed for Minnesota Public Radio’s Art Hounds this week, talking about Mike Hodnick’s Kindohm live-coded audio project.

It’s seriously the coolest thing happening in music today.

Mike just dropped his debut album, and you can hear him play Live-coded music @ Bedlam Lowertown on 12/10.

Listen to the segment here:
Art Hounds: Whale, Italian Style and Live Coding Music

Read my interview with Mike Hodnick here:
Decoding Algoraves: Live Coded Audio coming to Minneapolis