AGPA Pregame - Psychology and Politics

In a few minutes, I will hop on a train and head down to Washington, DC for the American Group Psychotherapy Association’s annual meeting. In preparation, I thought I should quickly re-read Irvin Yalom’s The Theory and Practice of Group Psychotherapy.

In it, he starts off by delineating the therapeutic experience into eleven primary factors. He spends a bit of time talking about how this is his way of organizing these factors, and how other people may have other approaches. Yet what jumped out at me were the first few factors.

  1. Installation of hope
  2. Universality
  3. Imparting information
  4. Altruism
  5. and so on.

As I thought about this, I thought about my membership in a very large group, known as the U.S. population. What are the fears and anxieties that we as a large group face? How do we address these fears and anxieties? What are the group leaders doing to help us address these fears and anxieties?

It would seem as if what we need is a leader who encourages us to hope for all that is good, instead of fearing some external factors, a leader that helps us understand the universality of our condition, between fellow citizens, independent of political orientation, and between nations. Such a leader, would I believe impart important information to us, inspire us to altruism and so on. This puts the current U.S. Presidential race into a particularly interesting light.

So, this evening, I will hear Dr. Robert Michels talk about ‘Psychology and Politics’. I’m ready for that talk. So, I will depart shortly for what I hope will be a wonderful and enlightening experience. My friends on the Group Psychotherapy mailing list have certainly installed that hope in me and I look forward to the information that will be imparted, and whatever changes it may bring about in my own life.

The Law and Media Project

As is often the case, some of the most interesting discussions at conferences and symposia take place away from the main panels, and for me, the same happened at
the Symposium on Reputation Economies in Cyberspace. During lunch I found about the Knight Foundation grant to Yale Law School to ‘Train the
Next Generation's Leading Legal Journalists’
. While the grant was announced last May, this was the first I heard of it, and was pleased to get more details.

Some of the goals of the program are to study law and media, to promote interactions between lawyers and journalists, to provide opportunities for journalists to teach at Yale Law and to prepare law students for careers in media.

Technology Adoption Curves and the Twitter Lifecycle

In a previous post about ad:tech, I mentioned how I learned about NY Times' Facebook page from a twitter by Steve Rubel. I commented about this in the press room, and one of the reporters was surprised to hear that twitter was still around and active. I reflected back on hearing speakers at OMMA predict the demise of Twitter, Facebook and Second Life and it struck me that the standard technology adoption curve that we all hear so much about, may have a lot of interesting nuances.

One nuance that gets talked about a lot is the chasm that Geoffrey Moore talks about between the early adopters and the early majority. Perhaps Twitter is currently hiding in that chasm. Perhaps that chasm is tied to what happened at OMMA and other shows. Here is my proposed narrative for understanding a little of this.

As the innovators go out and try to convince people of a really cool new technology, and the early adopters start piling on, the laggards hear about this and try to convince everyone else that there isn’t really any value to the cool new technology. The innovators and the early adopters happily keep using the cool new technology. It keeps getting better and better, and then crosses a threshold where it becomes easy enough for the early majority to start using it and discover that the technology really is interesting.

This fits nicely with Twitter. Yes, us innovators and early adopters continue to play with it. Today, I received an email on the Second Life Educators mailing list, another gathering place for innovators and early adopters, talking about Twitter. Several twiterholics, myself included, came forward and talked about our experiences and the neat new tools that have come along to make twitter easier and more useful. Will it be enough to get Twitter to cross the chasm? Well, we’ll just have to wait and see.

Meanwhile, I’m following some new friends on Twitter, and even found a version of the the Twitter Life Cycle

Ad:tech Tales from the Bleeding Edge

Before heading down to ad:tech yesterday, I paused to wonder if it was worth it. All the conferences tend to look and sound the same. Rarely does a panel ever live up to the ‘tell me something I don’t know’ request that so many writers seek. Tales from the Bleeding Edge was different. It was the best panel I’ve been to in ages and Lori H. Schwartz, SVP and Director of Emerging Media at IPG Media Lab deserves kudos for putting together such a panel. The write-up alluded to all kinds of cool technologies, many of which were not touched upon, but the ones that were, were wonderful.

Bill Capodanno, Director of Digital Marcom Planning and Effectiveness, Microsoft led off with a brief discussion of Microsoft Surface. He asked how many people in the audience had heard of it and a majority had. He spoke about a brief video they did about Microsoft Surface as well as the parody that was produced. It is a very funny parody, well worth the watch.

I think it was Bill who used the phrase, ‘Conversational Marketing’. I think this is an important concept to unpack, so I’ll save that for a more meta-post about ad:tech. After Bill spoke, Marc Ruxin, SVP and Director of Digital Strategy at MCCANN Worldgroup spoke. At least I think he was the next speaker. Whoever it was didn’t show any neat technology. Instead they spoke about the importance of following "not yet ready to scale" technologies and the importance of failing as often as you succeed, because often the real discoveries are in the failures.

This was followed by Patrick Ream, VP of Marketing at Next IT Corporation. They produced the ‘avatar’ Sgt. Star for the U.S. Army recruiting effort. As a Second Life aficionado, I thought it was a bit of a stretch to call Sgt. Star an avatar. Sure, some of the natural language processing and the data gathered was interesting, but the panel was starting to lose my interest.

Next up was Larry Harris, President of Ansible Mobile. He spoke about mobile bar codes. The idea is that you take a picture of a mobile bar code with the camera that is part of your cell phone. The information gathered is then used in the cell phone for various purposes. As an example, you could have your contact information in a mobile bar code. When the bar code is scanned by the cell phone’s camera, the contact information could be stored in the cell phones address book. At a party, could wear name tags with their barcode on them and when the bar code is scanned, the persons website is displayed on the cell phone. The bar code could be an invisible water mark in a poster, and when the poster is photographed, a trailer for a movie or a track from a band could be downloaded. In addition options to buy tickets to special sneak previews and so on could be presented to the consumer.

Apparently, this technology is already available in 70% of the cell phones in Japan and is widely used. It seems to be used mostly in ‘smartphones’. I wondered what it would take to read mobile bar codes from my Motorola Razr. Has someone created an app that I can download and test things out? The Razr supports Java. What would it take to build a Java app like that? If it isn’t possible on the Razr, and for people with less powerful cell phones, would it be possible to set up a mobile bar code gateway. Take a picture of a mobile bar code. Send it to the gateway and get a text message back pointing to whatever information is sought.

It was a very interesting presentation and one that deserves a follow up post of its own, if I can find the time.

This presentation was followed by Karen Rostmeyer, Co-Founder of Dutch Umbrella. Dutch Umbrella is a very simple idea. In Holland, there are places where you can borrow a bicycle at specified locations, and drop it off at other specified locations. What if you made umbrellas available that way in shops in the United States. If it starts to rain, you simply duck into a local shop and borrow an umbrella from a ‘raindrop’ stand. You use it as you go about your day, and drop it off at some other ‘raindrop’ when you are done. The umbrella would feature logos of the various shops participating.

It is a brilliant idea. It gets people into the shops, which is always a big hurdle. It gets people to carry around advertisements for you. The question is, where is the bleeding edge technology in this. Well, marketing people want to track things and gather data. So, add an RFID tag. Dutch Umbrella is using a small RFID tag on the umbrellas, that has additional information directing people to their website and ‘pseudoblog’. Karen demonstrated the sort of data that they were gathering. It was what you expected about number of umbrellas picked up and dropped off. The business could then tell where its customers where coming from based on the information from the dropped off umbrellas. The RFID reader could scan a full umbrella stand in about 15 seconds. Future versions may include RFID readers in the stand to provide real time updates.

Following Karen, Oliver Barth, Pre Sales Director of Total Immersion spoke. He started off with a brief discussion of Augmented Reality. Essentially, augmented reality is capturing real life images and then augmenting them with three-dimensional models. As an example, he took a Lego box and placed it under the camera, on the monitors a three-dimensional model of the Lego when it was put together then appeared. He used a game controller to move the three dimensional model around the screen, during which time it interacted with objects on the table as viewed by the camera. It was very impressive.

These are tails from the bleeding edge, so it may be a while before I get a chance to work with some of these technologies, but I look forward to exploring these further as soon as possible. It will be especially interesting to see how data from some of these technologies can be used with the complex event processing technologies that we at Toomre Capital Markets are so interested in.

(Cross posted at Toomre Capital Markets)

Technorati Tag: Technorati tag adtech

Social networks and Consumer-Generated Media

On of the 12:15 sessions at ad:tech was Social Media and Consumer-Generated Media: Has a Value Proposition Emerged? Heidi Browning, SVP of Client Solutions at Fox Interactive gave a wonderful presentation exploring the "Momentum Effect", part of the never ending friending a journey into social networking report. In essence, it is the same old discussion that Elihu Katz covered in his seminal work, "Personal Influence" transposed to the world of Social Media.

Her discussion was focused around a quote from a 27 year old from LA. He said, "I don't want companies to advertise to me. I want them to be my friend." She unpacked this by trying to understand what it means for a company to be a friend. Many people add companies as friends because they want special acces, notice of events, sales, exclusive offers, etc. Others added companies because friends recommended it, something that particularly argues for the idea of personal influence and gets a lot of peoples attention. Some people wanted to associate with the brand as part of their identity creation. Others wanted discounts, and around 11% simply wanted to be friends because they believed in the brand.

As I listened to this, I saw a message on Twitter. Steve Rubel was pointing out that The New York Times now has a Facebook page. I added myself as a fan of The New York Times, for several of the reasons listed above. It will be interesting to see how The New York Times makes use of Facebook. They are typically cited as an example of the old professional generated media company most threatened by social media and consumer generated media.

A later speaker made a wonderful comment about a company that after the success of one social media campaign discovered that "listening to consumers pays off". It is amazing the discoveries that this new media has spawned. I'm sure that this sort of idea never occured to people in before computers. He went on to say that in response to this great discovery, they set up a blog. I could not help but wonder if they allow comments.

The key message was that companies need to be authentic online, that they need to be thinking about long term dialogs with their customers, instead of a brief 30 second interruption as part of a short media campaign.

There are a lot of interesting places to go with this.

(Technorati tag adtech)

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