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The Quantified Self: Is 2013 the New 1984?

Part I: The Quantified Self

"Within thirty years, we will have the technological means to create super-human intelligence. Shortly after, the human era will be ended."

' Vernor Vinge, The Singularity, 1993

Quantified Self

Come One, Come All, Into 1984

Not long ago, the idea of touch screens was brand new, hyper-futuristic, even Bradbury-esque. Its ability to be spread to the masses was somewhat doubted. Today, a simple walk down the street or a few minutes on a train will show you just how far that's come. It didn't take long for the technology to become mainstream, conventional, and alarmingly fast, the new normal. In our multi-screened paradigm of instant information, technology is advancing in ways that have the potential to influence the very evolution of the human species'namely, the Quantified Self.

Big Data, Meet the Quantified Self

What is the Quantified Self, exactly? It is a consequence of the capabilities of information and data tracking that modern technology has given us, except that instead of purchasing patterns, Internet usage, or even locations visited, it is data about our physical state.

The Quantified Self is the technology movement that allows us to track every possible activity and influence regarding our bodies. Quality of air and breathing, sleep cycles, mood, arousal, blood oxygen levels and blood pressure, calories consumed and burned; the list is only limited by our imaginations.

The idea is that this exhaustive level of self-tracking allows users to find the secrets to maximum productivity, health, and quality of life. Whereas in the past we trusted doctors, some of the most highly educated and honorable professionals, to monitor and evaluate this information, we are now able to take healthcare into our own hands. As sensor technology soars past the touch screen and accelerometers, our ability to understand our bodies and minds is reaching heights previously unfathomable, with the potential to make the need for doctors a thing of the past.

Examples of technology that are leveraging data to quantify 'us':

Mind-Reading:

Northpaw is worn around the ankle and gives a constant, gentle, motor-derived vibration on whichever side is facing north. The idea is to train one's motor skills to have an instinctive sense of direction'a Pavlovian concept that could be controversial when applied to humans.

Zeo, which tracks the quality of sleep through a headband, gives personal advice based on findings.

Sports Related:

Armour39'?¢, available Spring 2013, tells you how hard you worked out. The module plugs into the chest strap, stores your biometric info and syncs it with the Armour39'?¢ App or Watch. It measures calories burned, heart rate, intensity, and WILLpower'?¢-- an algorithm that combines how long you workout, what you did, profile info like gender and weight, and key heart rate measures to give you a single score.

Garmin Forerunner 610 GPS is a heart rate monitor in watch form, which provides accurate distance, pace, GPS position, heart rate and calories burned; it can also guide you back to the starting point of your run so you'll never get lost.

Garmin Approach S3 is a GPS-enabled golf watch packed with tens of thousands of courses worldwide, shows the true shape and layout of the green and helps users perfect their game.

Vital Sign Monitors:

Basis is a watch that captures heart rate patterns, motion, perspiration and skin temperature throughout the day and night. This highlights the trend of excessively quantifying ourselves, as well as the possibility of eliminating the necessity for doctors.

Withings is company that offers, among other products, smart blood-pressure trackers that plug into your smartphone. Again, this device leaves us one step closer to cutting out the middle man (doctors), and trusting an app to guide our understanding of health.

FitBit is a pocket device that measures steps taken, distance traveled, calories burned, activity intensity, sleep quality, and elevation

Reebok's CheckLight monitors the brain during sports to determine the level of injury or presence of a concussion (and could also be considered mind-reading).

And last but not least:

Nike+ FuelBand tracks your daily activity including running, walking, basketball, dancing and more. It tracks each step taken and calories burned.

The Quantified Society

If every possible piece of data about our bodies has the ability to be tracked nonstop, where does this leave the need for doctors, nurses, nutritionists, sleep labs, or pharmacies? In the near future, will all of our vital signs be uploaded to a cloud hospital, whose algorithms check for abnormalities instantaneously? As marketers, this potential for enormous amounts of personal data to be collected, as well as the ability to replace healthcare professionals, implies a huge amount of trust on the part of the consumer. Just as doctors must take the Hippocratic Oath, marketers must remain ethical and honest in their usage of personal data, and keep in mind that people could be putting their lives in our hands.
Was there a Body-Product technology we missed? Tell us about it in a comment, and stay tuned for Part II, which discusses the darker side of Body-Product Integration and the Transhumanism movement.

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In the world of social media, trends, features, and even platforms can seemingly become a phenomenon overnight. One night, you go to bed after scrolling your Instagram feed, and the next morning you wake up to a brand new, intriguing yet unfamiliar app called TikTok. It doesn't take long for this app to surpass all others as the most downloaded app of all time with over 1 billion active users across the world.  Flash forward to the present day where Instagram - and almost every other popular social platform, for that matter - are scrambling to keep up with this new app. So, what makes TikTok so attractive, and can Instagram compete with their look-a-like competitive feature, IG Reels? Well, let’s dive in!    Why is short-form video so popular all of the sudden?  Before we talk about Reels and TikTok, let’s first address why the short-form video nature of both platforms caught on so quickly. For a long while, social media marketers have strategized their content around the fact that the attention span of our followers is short- and we mean short. According to Facebook, marketers only have 0.25 seconds to capture a user’s attention before they keep scrolling.  With that in mind, snackable video content became the name of the game for brands and content creators and opened the door to a scrappier style of content - especially for brands who had typically seen video content as an expensive, high-production-value ordeal.  The lower production value required for a high-performing Reels or TikTok video was key for brands. That, paired with the fact that these platforms became widely popular during a pandemic when creative teams were developing content out of their own homes. Additionally, it opened up a new door for brands and content creators to turn out quick-hit, entertaining content.    What’s the difference between Reels and TikTok?  Now that we’ve covered why short-form video content is so popular across both Reels and TikTok, let’s discuss the key differences between these platforms that have affected how they’ve been adopted by social users.    Reels TikTok The Takeaway The User Experience To navigate to Reels, users must first open the Instagram app, where they will be shown their regular feed from accounts they follow. Then, they will select the Reels icon from the bottom menu to start viewing Reels in a TikTok-esque feed of content that’s been curated for the user by Instagram’s algorithm.  When a user opens the TikTok app, they are immediately shown a curated feed of TikToks the platform’s algorithm has chosen - AKA the “FYP” (for you page). The full screen and vertical swipe feed create a frictionless user experience that makes it as easy as possible to enjoy the app.  TikTok’s unique user experience puts short-form video content curated just for you at the center stage, creating a seamless and simple way to enjoy content. On the other hand, Reels is only a feature of Instagram among many others.  Music & Video Editing Tools Due to copyright concerns, Instagram business accounts only have access to Reels’ library of royalty-free tracks, while content creators have access to a larger library full of popular copyrighted music. While Reels does offer video editing tools, they can be tricky to navigate and their filters and effects are not very extensive.  Music and sound are the cornerstones of a TikTok video, and the app has nailed this feature with its extensive library of music and user-generated sounds available to content creators and brands alike. On top of that, TikTok’s video editing features are user-friendly, and they offer a wide variety of filters and video effects.  TikTok is the clear winner when it comes to music and video editing tools given their extensive music and sound library and editing capabilities.  Platform Purpose   Instagram, home of Reels, is a network-oriented app, where users are used to seeing content from people they are familiar with and have chosen to follow. However, in the Reels section of the app, it takes on a content-oriented approach, serving users content from people they don’t know.  At its core, TikTok is a content-oriented app. It normalized the experience of seeing content from people you don’t know in your feed based on your usage history and learned preference.  While both platforms' short-form video features are content-oriented, Instagram is known for being a network-oriented app. Instagram has offered a similar user experience through their “Explore” page since 2012, so this balance between content and network orientation is something they’ve been teetering for a while.  The Algorithm  Instagram has been less transparent about the Reels algorithm, however, it has provided a few best practices for success. For example, Instagram recommends that Reels content is entertaining, fun, and inspiring, uses the app’s creative editing tools, and leverages the music or sounds provided. Instagram has also shared that content that is visibly recycled from other apps (e.g. contains a TikTok watermark) will also be deprioritized by the algorithm.  Beyond all of the features listed above, TikTok’s arguably largest advantage is its algorithm. The platform’s parent company, ByteDance, has been very transparent about the large investment they made to design the app’s algorithm that picks up on users' personalized interests in record time, contributing to the effortless and enjoyable nature of consuming content on the app.  Overall, TikTok’s algorithm is the first of its kind and unlike anything we’ve ever seen in the social space, which ultimately contributes to its success. We don’t know as much about Instagram’s Reels algorithm, but we can assume it attempts to mimic the TikTok experience while staying true to the app and attempting to keep Reels content unique.     How Brands Can Be Successful on Reels and TikTok To be successful on Reels and TikTok, brand content shouldn’t feel like brand content. Brands need to get scrappy and creative to grab user’s attention and not stand out like a sore thumb among the style of content shared by individual creators. With that in mind, both Reels and TikTok require a unique content strategy within the brand’s larger social strategy. However, that inevitably requires extra time and effort. To decide which of these platforms to begin focusing your efforts on, ask yourself these two questions:  Which platform is your audience on currently?  Which one can you commit to doing consistently?  While there are many benefits of TikTok as discussed above in our comparison of the two platforms, many brands have already established themselves and have grown a following on Instagram, and therefore beginning to utilize Reels has a low barrier to entry. While cross-posting between the two platforms is an option we’ve seen numerous brands take, a carefully thought out strategy for each channel your brand has a presence on is more important than simply having content out there. When it comes to a brand’s social presence, quality is always preferred over quantity.  The social world is ever-evolving - and at the end of the day, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer to which platform is best - the answer is unique to your brand’s priorities and your team’s bandwidth to thoughtfully manage the channels on which your brand appears.