No politician in history has leveraged social media to the extent of President Obama. Here’s how his administration stays ahead of the curve—and what you can learn about effective social brand-building from the Tweep-in-Chief.
“Blogs were one of the earliest forms of social networking where people were writing 1,000 words. When we moved to status updates on Facebook, our posts became shorter. Then micro-blogs like Twitter came along and shortened our updates to 140 characters. Now we are even skipping words altogether and moving towards more visual communication with social-sharing sites like Pinterest.”
At Rovio HQ in Espoo, Finland, we get a sneak peek at “Bad Piggies,” where the egg-gobbling (now likable) swine rule the roost and not an Angry Bird is in sight. “We consider this the launch of a new franchise,” Rovio’s Petri Jarvilehto tells Fast Company.
The swine are stranded on a desert island and have to build vehicles and contraptions to make their way to the delicious eggs that they can’t seem to get enough of. Though there is a three-star mechanic at work, there are no birds in sight, and the pigs are bouncy, jovial, and downright likable—a far cry from the snorting, antagonizing characters from the Angry Birds installments.
Microsoft is expected to unveil a new logo today. Over the past 26 years, the Microsoft logo has undergone roughly eight redesigns, but they’ve never deviated from the four-paned window. When the company introduced its new, simplified logo this spring, they positioned it as a radical departure from tradition—new font, new imagery, new color. In reality, says Kim, “the new logo is radical, but does not shed the past.” Furthermore, what works on a Microsoft Office box doesn’t necessarily work for the brand’s rapidly expanding line of products, like XBox and Surface. “Microsoft is showing a progressive vision that was missing in the company for years,” says Kim, and their logo should reflect that progressivity. By clinging to the past, Microsoft is projecting a muddled picture of its new direction.
On September 27, DARPA will hold a workshop to flesh out the government cyberwar strategy called “Plan X.” The one day workshop consists of a general access session for government employees and contractors, along with a Secret-clearance and above closed session to draw a roadmap for the future of America’s cyberwar forces.
While the next great virus won’t be proposed at the Plan X workshop, the Defense Department’s cyberarmy infrastructure development plans (and the sweet government contracts that go with it) will. According to the Washington Post’s Ellen Nakashima, Plan X has received $110 million in funding for the next five years.
Under intense scrutiny from the Fair Labor Association, Apple’s Chinese supplier has revised its labor policies, including changes to its internship program “to ensure that the job relates to the intern’s field of study” and that interns’ “skills before and after” are measured “to document the benefits of the training.” And the company is also said to have taken measures to ensure fair wages and prevent 40-plus-hour work weeks. Now one of the paragons of bad labor practices is treating interns better than most U.S. companies.
Feels like the future.
The Med Sensation glove, now in its second iteration, is outfitted with sensors that can detect vibrations, sound, and temperature—and it features an accelerometer and a buzzer system for items that require immediate attention. “If you apply too much pressure on the examined tissue, then the buzzer goes on,” explains team member Elishai Ezra.
The third version will come with micro-ultrasounds on the glove fingertips. All the information derived from a glove-guided examination can be wirelessly transmitted to an outside device. “The idea is to quantify touch,” says Ezra.
In 2006, one of the most vibrant social networks in the world was the photo-sharing site Flickr. By November, Google had purchased the video-sharing site YouTube for 1.65 billion. But lost in that year’s community-content boom was a little company called Ear-Fi that hoped to do for audio what Flickr and YouTube had already done for photos and video. Founder Manolo Espinosa says, “Our idea was, ‘Hey how about setting up a platform that helps people tell stories as simple as talking, sharing as simple as clicking a button, and listening as easy as picking up a phone or computer?’”
It was an inspired notion. After all, in the broadcasting revolution of the previous century, radio came before TV. Why shouldn’t there be a platform where professionals and non-professionals can share sound clips as easily as photos or video clips? And the timing was perfect, or so it seemed–-the financial crisis hit the following year, and Ear-Fi never made it through 2008.
Now Espinosa has a second chance to revolutionize how the web listens to itself. Last September, he became the “Head of Audio” at SoundCloud, the sound-sharing platform famous for its orange and blue audio player that lets listeners comment directly on a clip’s waveform.
“Who wants a Stylus? You have to get ‘em; put ‘em away; you lose ‘em—yuck! Nobody wants a Stylus! We’re going to use the best pointing device in the world…We’re going to use our fingers.”
That was Steve Jobs in 2007, as he unveiled the iPhone to the world. But even five years after the unrivaled success of Apple’s smartphone and its subsequent touch-screen iPad cousin, competitors in the space are still heralding the Stylus pen as central to interacting with mobile devices—fingers be damned. A whole range of smartphones and tablets still come with a pen accessory; Microsoft showed off a Stylus in June when it revealed its much ballyhooed Surface tablet; and only this week, Samsung made the S Pen the key differentiator for its Galaxy Note 10.1 tablet. “The S Pen…really, truly changes the game,” said Samsung Electronics America president Tim Baxter.
But even after over a decade on the market, it’s clear brands still have no idea how to market e-ink accessories. Looking back at years of promotions for Stylus pens, what’s readily apparent is how few benefits marketers can imagine for the devices—which is perhaps indicative of how little benefit Stylus pens actually provide consumers.
Three months before Laika’s 3-D stop-motion feature ParaNorman was set to start production, the company’s breakthrough workflow technology—making puppet faces via 3-D color printing—was spitting out disasters.
“They looked awful,” says Brian McLean, Laika’s director of rapid prototyping (RP, or 3-D printing). “The skin tones were terrible and inconsistent. What you saw on the computer screen was completely different than what printed out. There were some ‘Oh shit!’ moments when we realized we’d jumped head first into shooting this movie using this process, and we now had to figure out a way to make it work.”
By sheer force of will, scientific process, and ulcer medication, McLean’s team solved the system quirks.
The Huffington Post launched a new web TV news network, HuffPost Live, this week. It runs live from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. eastern, every day. On Wednesday, I watched all twelve hours. Spoiler alert: I do not recommend doing this.
With Google and Microsoft as emerging widgeteers, might Apple finally be losing one of its historic advantages? Hardly.
One important thing you need to know about the S Pen is that it is not a stylus. “Make no mistake, this is not a stylus,” said Travis Merrill, Samsung’s director of tablet marketing, during the same presentation. “Our competitors have nothing like it. The S Pen looks and feels like a pen, yet it’s packed with advanced technology.”
To be fair, it’s a pretty cool stylu—er, “S-Pen.” For one, it uses electromagnetic technology to wirelessly sync with the screen, which helps accuracy. If you increase pressure on the S Pen, for instance, the line will be thicker on the screen. The screen distinguishes between more than 1,000 levels of pressure sensitivity.