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Jess and Jobs: a 21st Century Love Story

Steve Jobs died last week and it made me sad. It's confusing because I don't know the man, but his death tugged at my heartstrings in a way that was unique, and I believe it may be because of how his creations have shaped my life. His first computer came out the year that I was born and it is possible that this is what initially connected us, but from that point on Steve Jobs and I have had what can be best described as a lifelong love affair. Looking back on the beginning of our relationship I remember that I learned to type on the original Macintosh that looks like a concrete block (and is now prominently featured in museums and lofts as pieces of kitschy art, mostly to remind me of how old I am). At first introduction to Apple I marveled at the triangular cursor that I could move by manipulating the old rectangular mouse, and I made sure to regularly clean the device to ensure it worked properly. It was like it innately understood what I wanted to do, and it helped me get there. It was all so new and exciting when I listened to those first versions of a LaserWriter printer screech out my rudimentary illustrations, and when I first played Oregon Trail'?¦ oh I was in a new, heavenly world. When my family upgraded to a Macintosh II it was as though I was seeing the world through new eyes, and my sisters and I spent hours working our way through the trails of the game. Mac always had a way to bond the three of us together over these games and it was as a united Margolis-Pineo team we learned what polio was and how to feed our virtual families, and we often made it all the way to Oregon. (Well, someone usually died along the way.) Middle school rolled around and so did a required computer class, and thankfully our school had all Macintosh computers so we got to stay together during this awkward time. Learning to type was required for both boys and girls (only made mandatory for boys the year before!), so we used this time to flirt and print out pages of filthy words. The printers worked faster so we could get away with it at this point, and because I was already so comfortable with my old friend I didn't invest much time into learning during this class. Taking the flirting out of the classroom we'd spend hours at night using our dial-up internet to chat via AIM on our Mac at home. Was my affinity with the adolescent boys, or at the beautiful ease of communication with my Mac? I'll never be sure. Then came high school and we both changed so much. I walked the line of nerd-dom, and my old familiar Mac was barely recognizable. The new iMacs sported a bright blue back and pod-like shape, something very new and wild for my book-ish tastes. Unfortunately, the new iMacs were much more popular than I was and there was always a waiting list to use the new space-age computers, so I barely got any time alone with cool, high school Mac. And when my older sister got a new iMac and ran off to college with it, I was insane with jealousy and completely devastated. I thought I knew them so well! When it was my turn to go to college I worked all summer to buy myself a new iBook ' the same one I still use today. Like an old married couple we know each other so well that our time together is seamless and comfortable ' it knows all of my deepest, darkest searches. To spice up our romance I introduced an iPhone in to the mix last year, and the three of us have been a happy trio ever since. While it pains me to be without my iBook, I never have to leave the house without my iPhone. The Apple Company and Steve Jobs have been a part of my life longer than most of my closest friends and having them grow with me has shaped the way I've lived my life. Does it all have to come to an end now that Steve Jobs is no longer around to put his visions in to practice? No. I know that while the pioneer of these creations is gone it doesn't mean that his legacy and our affair is, and I am excited to see where the next chapter of our love story will take us.

I'm Expecting... Another Discussion.

Facebook quietly launched a new tool this week that is sparking controversy around the globe. Now in addition to posting favorite bands and vacation photos, Facebook users are also able to announce to their followers if they are expecting a baby. While this seems like a natural progression to the 'I'm Engaged'? announcement, the 'I'm Expecting'? function is fueling a lot of discussions. One of the most interesting conversations that arose with the new Facebook option is the concept of giving children an overwhelming online presence before birth. The 'Expected: Child'? section on the future parent's website allows for a photo, presumably for a sonogram picture, and also a name, meaning the unborn child is primed to have their own mini-Facebook page while still in the womb. This Facebook option is not the beginning of this trend, but rather, an addition to a growing movement. Two months ago ABC News ran a feature that highlighted the Facebook page of Marriah Greene, the unborn daughter of a couple in Texas. Matt and Ellie weren't sure how to announce the birth of their child to friends, so after waiting until Ellie was at a late stage in her pregnancy they decided to launch a page using the sonogram photo for the profile picture. And did you know unborn babies can tweet? Expectant mothers can purchase a service provided by 'Kickbee'? that is a band stretched over a pregnant belly, and will send out tweets when the baby kicks. The twitter account is set up in the unborn child's name, and when they kick it automatically lets followers know 'I kicked mommy!'? Taking this idea of giving babies an online presence before birth one step further is a site called 'Babysquatter,'? a website that allows you to 'call fives'? on a web address in an unborn child's name. Should I plan on giving birth to a child with a relatively common name, I can pounce on their soon-to-be scooped up web address before that other baby down the street has the chance. (That's right, www.cornflakemargolispineo.com is mine.) Some parents are even taking to creating email addresses for their unborn children and sending them emails throughout the pregnancy and infancy. Rather than that old-school scrapbooking where parents would lovingly paste in photos and hospital bracelets, parents can now conveniently connect with their future child in a very 2011 way. Have five minutes to kill between drafting law briefs? Why not shoot your baby a note to say 'what's up'?? So how early is too early for an online presence? In an article on mommytracked.com my aunt Abby wrestled with the idea of my cousin getting a Facebook page at the age of 12, but it seems many parents have no problem with their children signing up before they're even able to voice their own opinion. Is this new step by Facebook taking things too far because it allows for a photo? Is it positioning itself to register younger users in an attempt to dominate the social media sphere (even more)? Or do people need to just chill out? Right now I'm not really sure, but I'm excited to see where this argument takes us.

Can you keep a secret? So can I.

I recently read a blog post that detailed a rather upsetting interaction between a fan and the panel of judges from Top Chef. SymiGoddess fell in to a full-blown foodie swoon upon seeing the beloved bad-ass experts at a local bar, and as a Top Chef fanatic I could totally relate to her excited impulse to share her luck via Twitter. Symi sent out tweets buy cytotec saying, 'I just met @PadmaLakshmi I'm in love,'? and 'Tonight just got surreal @ the esquire. Top Chef in the house!!!'? Everything was going swimmingly until her evening was interrupted by staff from Bravo telling her that she had compromised the location of the celebrities and needed to stop tweeting. 'Now.'? To me there are two exciting things about being part of the Twittersphere, and the first is that you're always the first to hear a 'scoop.'? We like to get our news in real time so we're among the elite who get to hear exciting new things before anyone else. Twitter is the first place I hear most of my news, from the death of Osama Bin Laden, to the latest celebrity engagement ring Tweetpic. I stay plugged in, because I like to be among the first to know. That's what makes it fun and makes me feel elite ' I am special to know new things. I saw that Mila Kunis was working out next to one of my friends in a Boston gym, and yeah, I felt a thrill knowing that information. The second thing that makes Twitter cool is that while the Top Chef celebs may have felt at risk, it is the possibility of doing an 'a la minute'? update of your news that makes Twitter special. I tweeted where to find the Stanley Cup the day after the Bruins won, and it was my ability to share real-time information that made one of my co-workers forever indebted to me. (You know who you are.) People love to share their micro-news and be among the few who are looked to for information. While influencers on Twitter are not officially members of the press, the lines are becoming more blurred and often someone who sends a tweet to their followers can reach more people than a local newspaper. Being someone who makes the news is really cool. Granted, there is much more that is interesting and fun about Twitter, but reading Symi's blog post made me feel sad, because they ruined the fun part of being a micro-journalist. People need to prepare for how real-time news will affect their life and learn to roll with it, because it's happening, and their best option is to jump on board.

I'm Popping-Up'?¦ I Want the World to Know

You've definitely heard of them. Your sister got her nails done in a mobile spa while watching episodes of 'Nail Files,'? your coworker brought his girlfriend to a Valentine's Day weekend only chocolate-themed restaurant, and even your niece picked up some sassy new shoes from a curbside shop. They've been around for almost ten years, but it seems that the pop-up phenomenon is starting to literally pop-up almost everywhere. Everybody's talking pop-ups, and there are many reasons brands choose to do one. To help you join in the conversation I have outlined a few of the major draws to hopping on this trend: While many of us in marketing feel that we have the skill to innately know what the consumer wants, even before they do, sometimes companies are uncertain of how a particular market will respond to their product, service, or brand. Finding a way to cost effectively test the waters is often a challenge, but pop-ups allow these brands to become a part of the retail landscape without investing too much of themselves to the market. Some companies thrive on a seasonal basis and do not need to be available 365 days a levitra cost year. Many of our holidays require a specific product or service for one day of the year, but are deemed unnecessary for the rest ' think Christmas tree sales. These parking lot takeovers are a kind of pop-up of their own! On the other side of things, many brands strive to stand out among the clutter during the holiday season. In the winter of 2010 Kate Spade opened a holiday themed igloo pop-up featuring the brand's new line of clothing and accessories. Situated right next to Citi Pond's ice skating rink, the retail bubble even handed out free hot chocolate to visitors. For new launches and premieres there needs to be a lot of hype, and having a trendy, word-of-mouth pop-up can be just the ticket. Disney opened a TRON pop-up before the movie premiered, offering merchandise and artwork related to the motion picture. Reminding consumers about an existing brand is always a challenge, and to address this concern the Coca-Cola brand opened a 'Live Tastefully'? sampling pop-up in New York and Boston in the fall of 2009. Seeing the familiar logo on morning commutes reminds consumers of the brand, and being handed a free sample of Diet-Coke puts the company back in buyers' minds. A lot of people would like to have access to certain products and services but are unwilling to make the trek to actually get them. The pop-up makes it easier for consumers to access the goods and services they desire by bringing it directly to them. Like the food truck phenomenon, making products convenient for consumers will make them more willing to purchase. Last on my list is that pop-ups allow companies to interact directly with consumers. Having staff and brand ambassadors work with customers one-on-one is a great way to show dedication to the brand, and also to get a sense of consumer sentiment. If consumers love a brand, this is a good way to find out. Also, if there is a premiere of a new product at a pop-up that sells out within hours, or even minutes, it is a sure indication that the company should make it available to the mainstream market.

Frantic for Food Carts

On a recent trip to Puerto Rico I found myself diving into a rotisserie chicken that I bought from a van on the side of the road. At one point I looked up, salty, tender meat in my bare hand, and thought, 'Why, oh why, can't Boston accommodate my impulsive need to buy and devour an entire chicken?'? Well, it seems that my wishes were sent to some sort of higher power because this week Boston unveiled the winners of what they called the 'Food Truck Challenge'? and now three food trucks are stationed at City Hall Plaza until October 28th. Fun roadside food for all! These three new food trucks will be stationed at City Hall Plaza all summer, and with enthusiastic responses to the portable kitchens, the City of Boston is asking residents to help propose new sites for future food truck locations. It's all exciting and hopefully this summer there will be a collection of locations where food trucks can stop and offer a rotation of different cuisines and flavors for local residents and workers to enjoy. As I was thinking about my future favorite food truck I was wondering how I'll know where to find it on any given day. Thankfully I was reminded of food trucks' secret weapon: SOCIAL MEDIA. With Boston's newfound love of the roving-cuisine phenomenon, how else would the rest of the city know where they can partake were it not for the constant flow of information hitting our newsfeeds? There are apps and Twitter users specifically dedicated to the locations of food trucks in certain cities, like Mike Krell of @AustinFoodCarts. Sharing reviews and locations allows users and followers to keep abreast of new additions to the scene and where they can find their existing favorites. And with Twitter's fairly recent addition that allows users to 'tag'? their locations, food trucks themselves can announce where they are for the day without detailing a specific location, because users are able to simply click on the most recent tweet. Food trucks and pop-up restaurants don't only use Twitter and Facebook to alert followers and fans of their locations, but also to announce menu options for the day, special deals, celebrity visitors (Menino?!), and also to post photos of their food and surroundings. Social media is an ideal platform for these roving wonders as it provides a portable and easy broadcast service for the them; owners can easily post new menu items to Facebook while on the road to their next stop without breaking stride. This is also good because, for the most part, the messages that food trucks need to send to their consumers tend to be short. Can you detail three menu items in fewer than 140 characters? I'll bet you could. However it is the constant flow of information that makes social media perfect, because should weather conditions change or the planned location be unavailable, messages can be sent out to fans and followers that let them know of any minute-to-minute bends in the road. Using services like Facebook and Twitter is also a good option as it allows consumers to feel involved with the new phenomenon ' locals are not looking simply to be fed, but to participate with this new cultural change to the Boston landscape. Momogoose, one of the winning food trucks that offers 'South and Southeast Asian Bistro'? cuisine, tweets back and celebrex generic name forth with followers on their Twitter page which further engages them with the experience. Followers tweet Momogoose about their positive meal experiences, but also about changes that can be made to the dishes. This exchange is something that is important for the owners to know so they hear feedback from consumers, although what they choose to do with that information is up to them. Social media allows for this consumer involvement in an open arena, which is something that previously was not possible. I know I'm not the only one who is excited to try out these 'chow wagons,'? but I may be the only one who is extremely disappointed if there isn't one with whole rotisserie chickens parked outside my office on a daily basis. Maybe I should start sending out tweets to see if anyone will listen, or even open my own truck'?¦

Have You Met My Big Brother, Nielsen?

While at dinner last night one of my friends let slip that she is one of the 'chosen'? people to own a Nielsen Rating system in her home. As someone who has been intrigued about Nielsen ratings, and more importantly, why some of my favorite shows get canceled, I grilled her about the process. Apparently, the special box attached to her television has a switch to indicate when she or her boyfriend is watching TV, so they know which demographic is tuning into the programming being viewed. She also has to let her TV know every 40-something minutes that she's still watching (similar to how Pandora Radio 'doesn't like playing to an empty room'?) so it's not tracking that she watched 12 hours of a Home Improvement marathon if she accidentally leaves the TV on. It also collects data from live viewing and DVR viewing to maintain accuracy, and only counts the DVR material as valuable once it is actually viewed by the consumer. Sounds pretty straightforward, but because I know everything, I started ranting about how Nielsen ratings are unreliable as they aren't accountable for the many portable devices that we now watch programming on. (Don't worry, I definitely know more than the thousands of people who work with Nielsen ratings on a daily basis because I will occasionally watch an episode of 30 Rock on my computer. And I read things about TV sometimes.) But here's something that shocked me ' she also opted to have Nielsen attach a device to her computer so they can track all of her internet activity. While this seems too invasive for me, we were talking about why this is an interesting and cool way for Nielsen to track what their viewers are doing. Not only can it keep track of which network sites are visited and which shows are watched online through services like Hulu, it could also potentially help with a variety of other marketing quandaries. Interestingly, it can track which actors and actresses are highly sought-after. If I am surfing websites about the Kardashians while watching Kourtney and Khloe Take Miami, it is a good indication that I am highly involved with the program. Or, should I watch Dawson's Creek on repeat and Google Joshua Jackson's current projects, it could be a good message for people casting new shows to consider bringing back Pacey. Watching these activities can also help determine which activities people do while watching television. Are people shopping online while watching Gossip Girl? Or searching for local rental properties during home makeover shows? Or maybe they're Tweeting about their favorite Modern Family character. Whatever they're doing, it can help create more finely-honed marketing campaigns for television viewers. While some advertisements are passive and simply projected at the viewer, many television ads use some sort of immediate call-to-action for viewers, which is often to visit a website. With Nielsen keeping an eye on computer activity we can see which campaigns are actually responded to, rather than solely using site traffic statistics. This is just the beginning of uses for this monitoring tool, and while I can't be certain how they're using this data, it is comforting to know they're trying to keep an eye on television watching through our various mobile devices. It's probably because they knew that I was onto them'?¦

R2D2 Goes Out to Dinner

You may have noticed the abundance of QR Codes lately ' it seems you can't go shopping, open a catalogue, or even eat a box of cereal without the square, black checkered box begging you to scan it. While many big brands are starting to incorporate these everywhere, they can also be created by individuals for personal or professional use. I've seen them on resumes that link to an online profile of the candidate, and I've also seen them on my local Mom and Pop takeout menu providing a web address to order online, but I was pleasantly shocked to find that one of my restaurant neighbors in Boston's North End has started incorporating QR Codes on plates. Chef Jose Duarte at Taranta learned about the technique five years ago while in Japan, and since then chefs have been using the technique all over Asia and certain European countries. It appears as though Duarte is using it to help diners learn more about their meals. 'Imagine being invited to a sustainable seafood dinner where each plate had a QR code made with calamari ink. The codes could link to websites that educated the diners about the origins of the food they were eating.'? (Quote taken from BostInnovation article) It's a pretty great concept with endless possibilities. Restaurants started incorporating QR codes on menus last year to enhance the dining experience by adding detail to menu items, like how a dish is prepared or where a certain bottle of wine is from, but this has been the first time I have seen the chefs themselves actually incorporating the technology in the their dishes. Most chefs, while adventurous in their own separate ways, will not take many outlandish steps to compromise the integrity of their plates, taking full ownership for what they present. That said, I can imagine a chef like Wylie Dufresne placing a QR code to show which molecular gastronomy techniques were employed, or Jamie Oliver linking to the health benefits of an ingredient, or even one of my favorite zany chefs Martin Picard showing a video of the butchering process for what you're about to consume. While I am excited about these new advances, it is certain to raise some issues within the 'foodie'? community. A restaurant is supposed to be a relaxing atmosphere where diners are distracted only by their taste buds, not by the screens of their cell phones. I can imagine my father saying, 'Can't you take a few minutes to turn that thing off and enjoy your meal?'? It is inarguable that this interesting new technological integration has the potential to revolutionize the dining experience, but whether or not it's a good idea is up to you.

Richard Branson ' Please be my dad.

Richard Branson is not just a luxurious head of hair - he is also an entrepreneurial genius. I mean, he wasn't knighted for nothing. Wildly successful with his many branches of the Virgin Group, Branson continues to make groundbreaking forays in to whichever field he chooses. I look to him for advice and inspiration, and although I'm not planning on launching my own airline anytime soon, this silver fox is a fountain of advice on how to keep customers happy and coming back for more. In a recent article on LiveMint Richard Branson wrote about 'Why Customer Service Matters,'? and he recalls a time when a Virgin America plane was stranded on a runway for hours because of bad weather. In response to the problem, which was not at all the fault of Virgin America, their CEO David Cush called many of the stranded passengers personally, offering apologies and vouchers for new flights. What the what?!? Aside from the obvious 'doesn't a CEO have other things to do than call a bunch of price-chasing upstate New Yorkers?'? it also begs the question, 'why don't I do more stuff like that?'? Granted, my booming e-bay marketplace does not call for this level of outreach; however, many companies seem to have lost focus on what is important to consumers. While some companies thrive based on pricing strategy alone, many small customer-focused businesses succeed without putting an ROI percentage on customer care. As a member of AMP's PR team I immediately began thinking about social online media, and how keeping a watchful eye on consumers' likes and dislikes can affect a company. Boloco, a 'Boston Local Company'? specializing in lunchtime wraps, has been known to lower the music volume in specific restaurant locations in response to Tweets. Apple handed out water to people standing in the heat to buy a new iPhone4 in Boston in July 2010 as a response to the social media buzz. So what am I doing for my customers? Or, what am I encouraging my clients to do for their customers? While it's easy to follow Facebook 'likers'? and tweet hashtags to observe consumer interests, it's also important to follow up. Aside from giving better service and creating a more targeted product, it makes consumers feel valued and inspires brand loyalty. Now if Richard Branson would finally answer my letters and adopt me I could do even more good for the world'?¦

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