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Samantha Dwyer

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This Week's Buzz within the Digital Space (May 17-23)

 Undoubtedly, the buzz this week radiated from Google's third annual I/O (or 'Innovation in the Open'?) Conference. Techies indulged themselves on a two day binge of Google innovations. Here are a few highlights: The company (finally) unveiled Google TV. They reminded us that, despite industry-wide focus on the Internet and mobile communications, television is still king. Four billion users spend an average of five hours a day watching TV, while advertisers spend $70M annually trying to advertise to them. Several companies ' Sony, Intel, Adobe, and others'have collaborated with Google to build this technology which searches and delivers content seamlessly from both your tv and the Web. This 'smart tv'? seems intuitive, natural; why continue watching television on our laptop screens if we don't have to? As consumers, I believe making the jump to a 'lean-forward'?, engaging technology in our living-room won't be easy (but you'll have your chance to become an early-adopter Fall 2010). As advertisers though, it's hard not to be hopeful that Google TV catches on. There's an opportunity here to make traditional television content interactive. The new Android OS 2.2, Froyo, was revealed. Reasons why this improvement matters: it's super fast (Google claims its 5x faster than their previous OS version, making it the fastest mobile browser available), it has 'over the air'? capabilities (which allows you to download apps without syncing), and it also supports Flash. And Google didn't forget to remind it's audience of the impressive growth this product has seen - in fact, they're now activating 100,000 Androids a day! Google continues to differentiate itself from Apple. It goes without saying that Google TV is a direct response to Apple's, not-yet-so-successful, Apple TV. And the implementation of Flash into both of these new platforms positions Google in a much different, more-adapting light then their Adobe-cursing competitors. One of the keynote speakers made the competitive spirit obvious: 'If you believe in openness and choice, welcome to Android'?. Google helps Pac-Man turn 30. To celebrate our favorite pellet eating persona's 30th anniversary, Google transformed it's logo into an online version of the popular arcade game. Paralyzing productivity nationwide, the game was so popular that Google has decided to offer it forever. Check it out at www.google.com/pacman on your lunch break.

This Week's Buzz within the Digital Space (May 10th-14th)

This week, the loudest buzz in the digital arena was overwhelmingly emanating from Facebook. It seems that their strategy to integrate themselves into users' digital and physical lives is, as expected, generating consumer resistance. Revealed last week, there are plans in motion for a location-based status update feature'positioning Facebook as either a Foursquare competitor, or potential partner. The possibility of a database of half a billion consumers' current locations is leaving  marketers' mouths watering. This announcement, along with the recent news of Facebook's Open Graph and  Instant Personalization features, has induced criticism of the site's minimizing privacy settings (consider these graphics of the website's security over time). Not surprisingly, this week, fifteen consumer privacy protection organizations took action against Facebook by jointly filing a complaint with the FTC. It's interesting that even though the majority of consumers are concerned with the lack of security, Facebook and content creators continue to charge ahead. In the three weeks since announcing their Open Graph system, already over  100,000 websites have sided with Facebook by adding 'like'? functionality to their site. This sovereign company continues to make our privacy decisions for us and, despite all the hesitation and opposition, we still choose to participate daily. However, there are some users out there who are looking for an alternative to Facebook and attempting to establish a new norm: open social networking.

The Collective Voice of Content Creators Can be Deafening

The completion of my Spring semester has finally arrived'so, naturally, I'm in the market for a vacation getaway. The amount of information that exists online for a prospective traveler is enormous'and, quite frankly, overwhelming. Just Googling 'best vacation spots Mexico'? leaves my head spinning. My results page is filled with user-driven sites which claim to consolidate fellow travelers' tips, warnings, and praises. This is helpful because consumers trust their neighbors, their peers, their family and friends, right? Not quite. Laid out before me are hundreds of thousands of conflicting opinions which are (supposedly) authentic, free from marketers' sales pitch. With almost no criteria in mind (other than that my vacation fit within my student-sized budget), I don't know where to begin. I scroll down my results page to a popular travel website and search Cozumel. To my horror, up pops 50,340 user reviews, retelling experiences that range from paradisiacal to crummy. How can such a huge amount and range of consumer opinions be organized and effectively presented? So far in my search, I have had a few interactions which have actually aided, rather than terrified. For example, in true AMP style, Tripadvisor.com features a Travel Inspiration configurator which prompts the user to enter two criterion and spits out a list of relevant destinations. After considering that a two-question configurator could be helpful, I wondered why, with all the information Google knows about me, couldn't my search results be more accurate? After all, between my search history and all the Google or Google-owned services I utilize daily, doesn't my search engine know my gender, employment status, income bracket, marital status, previous vacation destinations, interests'?¦ and so much more? There's a clear trend towards relevant and personalized advertising, but, I also want relevant and personalized search results that lead me, as a consumer, to relevant content'and ultimately, a successful purchase. The technology I'm looking for sounds a lot like Semantic Web: an Internet which is able to push information towards me without my having to ask for it. We're moving towards Web 3.0 and, as we do, marketers must be there to provide simple ways for users to mine this huge amount of content themselves. Fellow users' opinions are not always, like in the case of my vacation planning, favorable and manageable. Harnessing the collective voice of a global team of content creators is the challenge. Do you have an active Google account? Go to: google.com/dashboard if you're curious about what Google knows about you!

This Week's Buzz within the Digital Space (May 3rd-7th)

The iNews As usual, Apple was a dominant source of news this week. The company announced that they had reached and surpassed their 1M iPads sold milestone'all within a month of their product launch. Now the question, since all the early adopters have adopted, who will be buying their product next month? Apple also released more information about their anticipated iAd platform, a service which will allow brands to engage their consumers on Apple products while also surrendering their creative over to Apple designers. The company reported an entry fee of at least $1M for advertisers who want to be involved when the new platform roles out.  Marketers must weigh the hefty price tag against the positive PR that will surround being an innovative company who advertises on the new technology. Furthermore, these iAds will be built to support HTML5, and so, the Adobe versus Apple saga continues.  Since Steve Jobs' letter last week which sought to explain the company's many reasons for not supporting Adobe Flash on their products, the media has been buzzing about the transition from the Flash platform to more 'open'? alternatives. Online Privacy Outside Cupertino, there's other buzz to be heard. There was much discussion this week on legislation that could significantly impact marketers' use of consumer data online. As the Internet continues to make privacy scarce, lawmakers are attempting to secure users' identifying information'including their IP numbers which facilitate behavioral targeting. This could have implications on how marketers' deliver personalized advertisements. ROFLcon II And digital happenings IRL! The Internet gathered in person last week at MIT for two action-packed days of panels, lectures and keynotes on the ever evolving role of Internet memes and the larger influence of Interent culture in today's world. And of course, there was a little time for chatroulette bingo. What did we learn from two days of rolling-on-the-floor laughing? Internet culture, however loosely defined, is becoming an increasingly powerful influence on the mainstream. Is that a good thing or a bad thing? Debate among yourselves within the comments section below, or within the comments on the next cat youtube video that goes viral.

Some Buzz I've Heard on Google Buzz

You've probably heard by now about Google's latest innovation: Google Buzz. It basically is a social media consolidator which can be easily integrated into your Gmail account. The application pulls in information from all your news feeds, blogs, photo sites, etc'and all this buzz can be 'geo-tagged'?. After several attempts to enter the social media scene, has Google finally gotten it right? Some users are saying they have. So far, the adoption rate of this new product has been huge--with tens of millions of users already participating. Around my campus this week, I've heard some buzz on the Buzz. It seems as though my fellow students are seeing a future where nothing is a secret. Jokingly, one of my classmates posed the question: 'So hypothetically, if you're having an affair and you regularly email your mistress'this interaction is publicized since your most frequently emailed contacts are auto-followed?" Hopefully, this particular problem isn't an issue for most, but I think his concern over infringed privacy is valid. All your interactions are now consolidated into one streaming, publicized feed. This week Google has already taken steps to increase the privacy for Buzzers who are not ready to have their public image be quite so uncensored. With such a huge audience (potentially, all 38 million existing Gmail users), marketers should be paying attention. How are you getting involved in this new social arena?

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