Category: Technology

The new Connected Society

I just attended Dreamforce, the annual conference for Salesforce, where the topic was all about “cloud, cloud, cloud.”  The whole conference was exhilarating and motivating which got me thinking about the future in a virtual sense.

Marc Benioff’s keynote was a continuous thread of customer success stories featuring Salesforce software through the cloud.  Coca Cola presented a video of the futuristic way of ordering a Coke (walking up to machine and scanning your phone).  Toyota showcased how a car will soon be like a “friend” who drives for you.

Coca Cola’s presentation: <>

Alex Williams of TechCrunch reported on the conference“Here’s the switch we are seeing. We are starting to see how society will some day interact more with software than people. Everything will be a node. That future is emerging now as we see how the cloud is used to direct machines. Like the self-driving car Benioff featured in his keynote this morning.”

While everything about cloud communication is exciting and thrilling, it concerns me we may become a society that is too connected to our devices.  The internet, social media and our mobile devices should enable our connection to others at all times.  We plug into our devices everyday so when do we really log off? We are constantly connecting to people online but are we really closer to people now?

The answer is that we are constantly in communication whether it be through nonverbal language , written language or speaking.  Communicating with someone involves some type of common understanding of the issue or topic at hand.  When you are behind a computer screen or on the telephone, so much is lost in that message. Feelings of a topic are lost when all you have to do is answer questions on a computer screen.  As the receiver of information, we do not get to see how that person felt about a certain issue.

This is why communication through email, text or social media is so easy for everyone but does it really mean we are more connected now than ever?

I would have to disagree and say we are un-connected more than ever.  Everything we say is changed, cleaned-up or sugar-coded through an email, text message or facebook post.  It is so easy to portray yourself as anything you’d like behind a screen but getting in front of someone is a whole nother’ ball game.

I don’t think a “car-friend” can offer much to me when I have a bad day.


IO (Information Overload) Stressing you out?

After reading the PR Daily article titled “This is your brain on Social Media” and seeing the too familiar graphic below, I was having a hard time admitting this is my day-to-day life! PR professionals dealing with IO (information overload), take note.


The article continues to explain how we are becoming dumber, less satisfied and unable to handle stress due to our amount of consuming information.

Another article written by Tony Dokoupil of The Daily Beast suggests the web is driving us mad, literally. Tony says, “The current incarnation of the Internet—portable, social, accelerated, and all-pervasive—may be making us not just dumber or lonelier but more depressed and anxious, prone to obsessive-compulsive and attention-deficit disorders, even outright psychotic. Our digitized minds can scan like those of drug addicts, and normal people are breaking down in sad and seemingly new ways.”

The article continues to point out that more than a third of mobile users get online before getting out of bed (I’m guilty). The average teen processes an astounding 3,700 texts a month, double the 2007 figure, and more than two-thirds of these people report feeling their phone vibrate when in fact nothing is happening (guilty again!). Researchers call it “phantom-vibration syndrome.”

So, what is the cure to this problem? Unfortunately, I do not have that answer but some apps are trying to help us with our IO problem. Instead of juggling 10 apps for our multi information gathering efforts, developers are creating one app to serve as our one-stop hub for all outlets. Barrett Sheridan of Businessweek recently wrote an article about the new app called Cue, formerly called Greplin, which aims to be the first thing you check in the morning and return to throughout your day.

Say for instance you’re meeting with a new client, Cue will try to find the contact’s latest tweets and Facebook updates. The idea is that if you’re running behind schedule, you can pull up Cue to instantly see where you need to be next, who to call to let them know you’ll be late, and catch up on the other person’s latest Facebook photos, so you can have something intelligent to talk about once you get there.

The app eventually wants to answer the question for us, “Give me the guy I met last week with long hair.” Now, doesn’t that sound nice for us PR multi-tasking pros, slowly making us dumber!

How many times have your checked your phone, email and twitter since reading the beginning of this article? And no lying!

Technology is Fashionable, Really!

Technology devices are becoming fashionable and the future wallet for us as consumers will become just that – a fashionable tech accessory.

Just last week, I went to Nordstrom to buy a quick item at the cosmetics counter. To my surprise, when I was ready to check-out, the sales associate took my payment with an iPhone. She simply swiped my card with a detachable device and emailed me the receipt. My inquisitive look persuaded her to inform me that each sales associate was given an iPhone to check-out customers, look up product information and track inventory.

In a recent article on the subject, Julie Campbell of Mobile Commerce Press, summarizes Nordstrom’s cutting-edge social media strategies and highlights how the use of technology is broadening the options that are available to its customers.

So what does this mean for consumers? The way companies are doing business and connecting with customers is all happening on our mobile devices. Whether we want to buy an item online or in the store, we will be able to do so through our devices.

Sarah Perez at TechCrunch recently wrote an article summing up the digital wallet battle between Visa and Mastercard. Sarah says, “Visa plans to introduce a mobile payments element to the service by leveraging NFC, QR codes and other technology, which would allow you to tap your phone to a secure reader at the point-of-sale in order to pay for your purchase, scan a QR code or perform some other type of interaction.” Visa’s new simply allows consumers to pay for purchases on multiple channels. Check out the video below to see in action!

Meaning of Life

The new Iphone assistant feature suggests you can ask “Siri” anything. Ask her what the meaning to life is and you will get one of these responses:

1. “Try and be nice to people. Avoid eating fat. Read a good book now & then. Get some walking in and try to live together in peace and harmony with people of all creeds and nations.”

2.”Life: the condition that distinguishes animals and plants from inorganic matter, including the capacity for growth, reproduction, functional activity and continual change preceding death.”

3. “To think about questions like this.”

4.”I can’t answer that now, but give me some time to write a very long play in which nothing happens.”

5. “I give up.”

6. “All evidence to date suggests its chocolate.”

7. “Life: A principle of force that is considered to underlie the distinctive quality of adamant beings. I guess that includes me.”

8. ” A movie.”

Awe! The inevitable question. I am about to turn 25 and I can feel a mid-mid life crisis coming on. I feel I should have accomplished more at my age. But I am happy and healthy and that is all that matters. I think the answer is #4.

Online Overorganization

Can anyone agree with me that there is WAY to many passwords for every gosh darn website? You have to become a “member” to purchase something online which entails filling out the mundane information about yourself: Name, Address, Phone #, Credit card info, and then create a password which has at least 7 characters long with at least 2 letters and 5 numbers.  It makes my head spin wasting all this time on silliness.  All I want to do is skip the 10 steps and check-out already.  Oh and I almost forgot the “Name the character” step!  It is like I am taking an eye test.

Do not worry, your alien ant farm is password protected so your brother cannot steal your precious farms!

I am no computer expert but there should somehow be ONE database with all this information you can link to each website.  Therefore, you do not have to spend 15 minutes recovering your password or username.  This happens to me at least every week.   I have 3 passwords  I usually use and then I have to remember which order I used them and on and on.  This is all due to the fact that I am highly unorganized because I find these tasks tedious and out right boring.  What good does a password do if you forget it and have to have it emailed to you and then change it right away?  As if someone else is going to check your email and hack into your website or fantasy football league.

I understand this is for privacy but it is not like someone can access your Social Security number via your “member” name and password.   Maybe I am to feel like I am now a part of an online society.  “Congratulations! You are now a member of GAP online. You get emails everyday about our new merchandise. The fools who didn’t sign up have spam free inboxes.” For being an unorganized person, this whole system seems “overorganized”.  Yes, I just made up a word.  Overorganized is the act of overly obsessing about how to better organize an already organized system.  What ever happened to Simplicity? Do not fix what is not broken.

The Cellphone (AKA) extension of yourself

I know we live in an age of information overload but I really do believe in an old-fashioned face- to-face conversation, especially when you are out to eat with someone.  I find myself having conversations with someone’s cellphone, rather than their face.  I am sitting there counting the minutes it takes to get reciprocated eye contact.  Frankly, I think it is just plain rude to whip out your cellphone and text constantly in front of anyone’s face.  If I do not have your undivided attention, we will probably be going around and around in conversation.  Me having to repeat myself, the other acting as though they are interested when really their phone, a 2 inch by 3 inch paperweight , is more intriguing.  I understand your tiny mobile device is basically connected to you at all times, but “Hello, I am right here, a person, not a thing.”  And I happen to think I can amuse you more than a cellphone, let’s hope.

Thirteen year-olds send on average over 100 text messages a day!  What could be so fascinating to constantly be talking about?  I guess we are talking about 13 year olds here but still.  Texting is also the number one cause of distraction and procrastination in work environments.   I am just as guilty as the next person on the texting at work.  It is a nice escape for a second or two from what you should really be focusing on.  But if you are texting more than working, developing “texting only relationships” and treat your phone like a baby, you may have a problem.  You should turn your phone off or accidentally “forget  it” one day and see if you can survive.  I more than often forget to grab my cellphone before going to work.   When I finalize realize it, it is actually a bit liberating.  A feeling of “Ah, I do not have to answer to anything for the next few hours”.  A releif, really.

But all in all, texting is not acceptable for the dinner table.  There is something to be said about a real, in-depth conversation with friends and family about the facts of life without looking up the “supposed” answer on your Iphone.  If you really have to answer to a message, excuse yourself and come back when you are ready to engage in the “real life” conversation.