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Category Archives: social media


Unless you’ve been living under a clump of moss, you are undoubtedly aware that Apple supremely failed with their iOS Maps application. Judging from the all-out thermonuclear war that followed from the press, Droid devotees and occasional smartphone Luddites who clench their Blackberry like grim death – this was a long time coming. Like slobbering hyenas waiting for a magnificent antelope to stop one too many times to defecate in the jungle, everyone seems to be relishing this opportunity to eviscerate the tech giant for releasing and (some say) arrogantly replacing a vital part of any smartphone’s delicate ecosystem – the almighty mapping system. In fact, the reason this is so troubling, is that Apple, in releasing poorly rationalized software, has betrayed their brand’s essence.

It makes “antenna gate” look like a rampant case of hiccups at a leper colony.

Apple brought this vitriol on themselves, by almost single-handedly ushering in the pathetic age of the “legal patent screw-fest” – where every entreprenneur who thinks they might have a brilliant idea will immediately discard it (opting rather to take a nap in their parents basement), in order to avoid the unholy wrath of lawsuit-hungry corporations.

The snark was particularly squalid in both the press and the endless comment trails from the merry tribe of Internet baboons who deem it necessary to flip every opinion piece into their own bully pulpit for personal political or technical vomit. On the corporate side, Motorola instantly added fuel to the fire by commandeering the #iLost hashtag quicker than a beard grows in Williamsburg. Samsung has commercials poking fun at people waiting in endless iPhone lines as a response to Apple reportedly penning an internal ad poking fun at an apology requested in a UK court over a Samsung verdict. Screw all of these corporate knuckleheads – it reeks like a public tiff over Bieber tickets between the rich high school cheerleaders that everyone hates yet desperately wants to date. The intended audience this bile is aimed towards will soon move past all of the silliness. To teach the corporate executives approving this creative pap a lesson, shareholders should be cashing in their stock. In the end, innovation is the new loser, not a person buying a gadget.

While I’m not forgiving Apple for their transgressions, if a particular CEO was still alive, one could postulate that the Maps disaster might not have even happened. This major mistake occurred under the watch of a supply watchdog, not a creative visionary. Mr. Cook and many others who didn’t program the application would have likely been burned at the stake on YouTube live in Cupertino if this had transpired under the watch of that turtlenecked angel in black, Steve Jobs.

TomTom (one of the companies that Apple uses for the maps portion of the Maps app) had already been publicly humiliated (Google search “blame TomTom” and see what comes up). Everyone from the CEO of Waze to the entire country of China is having a field day with this company right now. TomTom has fired back, understanding that their 20 years of respect in the business will likely be questioned because of the Maps fiasco, noted the fact that Apple is using data from at least 2 dozen other partners.

They should have released this new piece of software alongside Google Maps and challenged their devotees to make it better than Google.

Aside from arrogantly pushing a fully unfinished and untested product to the masses, Apple made a seriously shortsighted and future backwards error. They should have released this new piece of software alongside Google Maps and challenged their devotees to make it better than Google. We’ve all heard the spin: There was a month left on some corporate contracts between them, and yes, the word on the street is that everything fell apart because of Google’s refusal to integrate turn-by-turn directions, but in the end the Maps application should have focused heavily on crowdsourcing out of the gate. The interface of the application should have made it overwhelmingly simple for the audience to correct mistakes in maps. Apple could have spent some of the zillions that Jobs said he would use to destroy Google and really buried them by empowering their users to make the Maps application a truly socially aware product (or at least feel part of the experience by building reputation capital through linking the geo-coding aspect of their photo libraries, commenting or at least connecting with other map users like Waze does). And please don’t tell me that crowdsourcing Maps was always the plan, because the suggestion box is currently buried in dark gray on the interior screen of the Maps application. My guess is, if Apple doesn’t just eventually shelf the entire app (like Ping, a coincidentally excessive and uninformed social media failure from Apple), and it’s shareholders don’t force Cook himself to crawl on his hands and knees to Google’s office begging them to build an Apple Maps app (spoiler: Google says they refuse), the next release’s interface should focus heavily on a crowdsourcing component.

The only trouble is crowdsourcing takes time and interest from the audience to reach an increasing level of perfection – both which were lost on this highly touted app’s speed to market. Launching a lousy app was stupid. Replacing Google Maps with this “not-ready-for-prime-time app” is reprehensible.

Unfortunately, it’s likely too late. In fact, people may look back at Apple in a couple years and point to this moment (much like a certain presidential candidate), as the time when due to arrogance or sheer stupidity – shit went south. I don’t doubt that Apple might be able to recover, but I don’t think that they have a big and vicious enough honey badger running the company anymore to savagely beat the entire planet into willing submission. The bad vibes, not the press, are enough to begin pushing a small percentage of Apple’s globally small, but passionate mobile user base toward what is finally becoming an excellent alternative OS by virtue of customization alone. And since Apple has staked it’s entire future on the inevitable mobility of computers, and not the desktop computing machines that drove a stake into Microsoft’s dominance, this is a very, very… very catastrophic event.

The problem with Android phones is that the OS resides on inferior components. Apple’s advantage remains that the device’s quality is married to the OS. Apple used to preach this in their branding – the sexy machine married to the equally sexy interface. Now they supremely screwed that pooch, and I fear that they will not fully recover.

Word to the wise: Never, ever, ever betray your beloved brand essence. Especially when the road back to the top has a stream of venom waiting for you – flowing right down the center.

The Thinking Mechanism is a series of weekly posts, published on Fridays, covering the ideas The Mechanism is thinking and talking about with our peers and clients.

The week in quick links:

• Facebook’s “awesome” announcement this week: Video Chat via Skype.

One Week In, Google+ Users Are Growing Followers, Getting Traffic.

Google Web Fonts v2 is now out.

Barcodes Enter Expressionist Period.

The New York Times lists all their journalists on Twitter.

The Dieline Awards 2011 Winners – Honoring the best in package design.

A brief history of hacking.

MediBabble: The iPhone App That Could Save Your Life

Slipscreen: A Love Story – a fantastic short film shot entirely on a phone.

The Thinking Mechanism is a series of weekly posts, published on Fridays, covering the ideas The Mechanism is thinking and talking about with our peers and clients.

Right before we all have a holiday weekend to spend time face to face with our circle of friends Google makes several announcements concerning the social web:

Google+, their next foray into social networking after Orkut and Buzz, has a distinctly micro-social approach and user-friendly privacy settings. The fact that you can easily download any content you input into it and can easily delete your account with one click, if you chose to do so, proves that Google intends to compete with Facebook by providing ease of use. Click here to see the introductory videos. Click here to read a comprehensive look at the launch by Steven Levy of Wired Magazine.

• Google Analytics now features Social Interaction Tracking. Update your Analytics code and get full activity reports on all your social media buttons, including +1, Like, Tweet.

Google Takeout allows you to download a copy of your data stored within Google products.

Google Swiffy is not directly related to social networking, instead it lets you upload a swf file and convert it to HTML5. More HTML5 sites means access to the web in more mobile devices and more content to share on Google+.

• Let’s not forget about Google search, they’ve also announced a collaboration with the Getty Museum to allow visual searches of artworks.

What Do You Love? A new page that shows you the results of your search across all Google products in one location.

• On the other side of the social spectrum, Facebook is quietly testing their first major redesign in over a year. The new design, which some of us are already experiencing live, feature an additional “What’s Happening Now” Twitter-like stream besides the News Feed and will have navigation and advertising elements remain static on the page as you scroll down.

• And lastly, in honor of the Fourth of July: how fireworks and sparklers are made.

The Thinking Mechanism is a series of weekly posts, published on Fridays, covering the ideas The Mechanism is thinking and talking about with our peers and clients.

• Hashtags: worth a thousand pictures, good for branding and ready for the mainstream?

• What happens when a geeky comic meets a funny geek? They upstage all the suited, corporate talk at NExTWORK and in 45 minutes provide an irreverent and insightful view of technology today. Watch and you’ll see Jimmy Fallon in conversation with Sean Preston. You know it is going to be a good conversation when Fallon, having just met Preston, opens with “how did you write Sexyback?”

• And speaking of NExTWORK, two new words heard during the conference: #intercloud and #intracloud.

Everything is a remix.

• Do you remember these 12 designs that changed the web?

• We want one of the world’s first QR coins.

• JK Rowling announces Pottermore.com and possibly changes book publishing and reading (again.)

Dutch lawmakers adopt Net Neutrality law: “The Netherlands on Wednesday became the first country in Europe, and only the second in the world, to enshrine the concept of network neutrality into national law by banning its mobile telephone operators from blocking or charging consumers extra for using Internet-based communications services.”

• And lastly, developing your creative practice with some tips from Brian Eno.

The Thinking Mechanism is a series of weekly posts, published on Fridays, covering the ideas The Mechanism is thinking and talking about with our peers and clients.

This week members of our London team have been working out of the New York office leading to many interesting conversations about technology, development and the future of creative digital work. Mostly because during this week, and next, a lot of industry changing announcements are taking place. This week the D9 Conference is happening and next week is Apple’s World Wide Developers Conference.

Here are some of the things we’ve learned so far:

• In a rare and unexpected break from their absolute secrecy Apple pre-announced the content of their WWDC keynote. We now know Steve Jobs will be back for the presentation. There will be no new hardware, certainly no new iPhone announcement. The keynote will focus on software, specifically Mac OS X LioniOS 5, and will introduce iCloud, a potential replacement for MobileMe and music locker. They also released iPhone versions of the iWork suite of apps ahead of the conference. They have certainly gone out of their way to manage expectations. If all the rumors floating about are to be believed Apple is up to something big.

• Microsoft demoed Windows 8 (video) which introduces a new tile-based interface based on the Windows Phone.

Twitter introduced the Follow button, which allows one click follows without having to leave the page you are in. It also introduced photo and video sharing within Twitter (video,) a full of potential extension to the service that transforms hashtags beyond keywords and trends into galleries. Twitter may even be baked into iOS 5.

• Google releases the +1 button to the web. One more button to add to pages, to blogs, to the online ecosystem. Although it comes late to the social media party the +1 button has the advantage of actually influencing the Google search algorithm, possibly leading to improved SEO. For that reason alone it may be embraced.

• Former Google CEO and current Board member Eric Schmidt introduced the phrase “The Gang of Four,” or how he refers to Google, Apple, Amazon, and Facebook. This cabal of frenemies has highly successful partnerships in some areas and aggressively competitive pursuits in others. And together they are inventing the future. Notably absent from Schmidt’s “Gang” – is Microsoft…

• If you were in Jonathan Kaplan’s shoes and experienced Cisco buying your Flip line of consumer cameras only to abruptly discontinue them, what would you do? He is going into high-tech grilled cheeses.

• And speaking of dairy products, is White Power Milk a joke, performance art, political satire, a student project, a viral for Yakult? Only Nate Hill knows for sure.

The Thinking Mechanism is a series of weekly posts, published on Fridays, covering the ideas The Mechanism is thinking and talking about with our peers and clients.

• After more than 3 years of development, the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) HTML Working Group has voted to move the HTML5 draft specification to Last Call status.

• Ad Age looks at the demographics of social media.

• This week Facebook began allowing brand tagging on photographs shared on the site. This reminds us of IKEA’s Showroom campaign implemented in 2009 (see a case study video here.) Think about what they’ll be able to create next using this new functionality.

• However that’s not the most significant Facebook news of the week. After four and half years Facebook has been granted a patent on image tagging.

LinkedIn’s very successful IPO, launched Thursday, is seen by many as a watershed moment for Social Media.

• Another must see Google Labs Chrome Experiment Film: Rome’s 3 Dreams of Black.

• WordPress.com has dropped support for IE6.

• Macworld has a great collection of articles taking a close look at the 10th anniversary of Apple’s first retail stores.

• Put the ritalin down: In Praise of Shortened Attention Spans.

The Thinking Mechanism is a series of weekly posts, published on Fridays, covering the ideas The Mechanism is thinking and talking about with our peers and clients.

• We are very curious about Google’s introduction of the Chromebook (with their typically great animated demo video.) We’ve known that a laptop that runs on Chrome and executes everything within the browser was in the works. What’s more peculiar is the introduction of laptop rental services for business and education. With Adobe also introducing a subscription service for their Creative Suite 5.5, is leasing the future of hardware and software? Most likely it is a way to ensure that cash-strapped college students can afford the hardware and software to begin forging a brand bond as early as possible.

• And speaking of college students, a new study finds they are addicted to media.

•  On the same week that it releases a Best Practices Guide for Marketing on Facebook, the company is in PR hot water. Facebook paid a PR firm to smear Google. Leaked emails reveal Burson-Marsteller attempted to get USA Today and other titles to write criticizing Google’s privacy policies. This from the company that is constantly telling us what we should think privacy is.

• We loved this week’s Google Doodle, created by Ryan J. Woodward, paying tribute to Martha Graham. The Martha Graham Center of Contemporary Dance has annotated the works behind the doodle and knowing that many people would be searching for more information has cleverly incorporated fundraising campaigns to the page.

The Thinking Mechanism is a series of weekly posts, published on Fridays, covering the ideas The Mechanism is thinking and talking about with our peers and clients.

• We’ve been spending a lot of time talking about LinkedIn and it’s place in the social media universe. This week they made public a platform that should bring LinkedIn content, buttons, Twitter-esque “profile summaries” and more to websites throughout the Web.

• Yesterday Facebook launched the Open Compute Project, making public the specifications and design documents that went into creating their customized servers and datacenters. Ars Technica explains why they did it.

• Will Google’s +1 beat Facebook’s Like?

• And speaking of Google, Larry Page wasted no time as returning CEO, implementing a major reorganization of the company.

• All this talk of social media reminds us of a report from last summer. Neuroeconomist Paul Zak has discovered that social networking triggers the release of the generosity-trust chemical in our brains. In other words, using the LinkedIn, Like and +1 buttons affects the brain like falling in love.

In the future, you will carry your digital footprint with you wherever you go — and whatever type of device that you have will pick that up if you choose to make it available to somebody

I was interviewed about the future of Web design back in October, 2010 at the PRSA International Conference in Washington D.C.. Below is the video from the interview, which can be visually and aurally consumed at the source right here.

Thanks to the kind folks at PRSA for posting this interview on their Website and interviewer Amy Jacques for digitally capturing my ranting and raving for all of eternity.