The Race Is On (Midterm)


Photo credit: Linda Bucklin

You want to know how fast technology changes?  I am currently writing this October 12, 2011.  The new iPhone, the iPhone 4S, is being released in two days, on October 14th.  That excites some iPhone fans, but leaves others disappointed because they anticipated an iPhone 5 release.

But let’s just say you get one when it comes out, or during the upcoming Holiday season.  How long are you going to have the newest iPhone on the market?  According to Bill Palmer, Editor in Chief of Beatweek Magazine, maybe not for long.  In an article released today, he could see it being released as early as JANUARY 2012!

More likely, an iPhone 5 release is likely to happen in  the summer or fall of 2012.  That means your fancy new toy, that is listed at $199 on the Apple Store, might only be the newest thing for less than a year.

That is just one example of how fast things are changing in the digital world.  Technology builds upon technology and with that, technology is getting better and better at a much faster pace than anytime in our history.


It is more than just the products themselves that have changed.  We as a society have greatly changed just over the last decade.  It can be as simple as not looking in the phone book for a phone number, when you can easily Google it on your phone.  It can also be as large as someone buying a car off their phone without ever seeing it in person.  Because all you have to do is go to Craigslist and check out the pictures.  Then a buyer might just decide they want it, and give the seller a call (Side Note:  I would NEVER recommend buying a car without at least test driving it first).

Our daily lives are also stored as diaries on the likes of Facebook, Twitter, etc.  Just think about all the information Facebook has on you personally.  Maybe your birthday, who your in a relationship with, your phone number, address,  maybe even your grades if you post stuff like “Yeeeeehawww! I got a B+ on my History 150 test :)”.

Not only does Facebook have this information on you.  It also uses that information.  If you don’t believe me, check the side area on your Facebook wall to see the advertisements.  There is a good chance somehow those advertisements somehow relate to you.  That is not a coincidence.  Somewhere in your likes and/or posts Facebook has found advertisements that it thinks would be relevant to each of its users.  For example, I will probably not get a advertisement on my wall saying, “Meet Cute Boys in the Rake, Iowa area”.  I might however get something like “Purchase gear of your favorite team”.

This helps make Facebook money as well.  Advertisements get more clicks when they are relevant to users.  So if Facebook can find a way to selectively choose advertisements the advertising people are more likely to spill out more cash to post these ads.

To further expand on this idea Nick Bilton, New York Times, reported back in April, 2011 that Facebook was hiring Nicholas Felton and Ryan Case.  Felton and Case are the creators of a website named DAYTUM.  The picture below says exactly what Daytum does.  Not only does Daytum know what you do, but it knows how much of it you do as well.


Screen Shot Excert of by: David Coats II
According to Bilton, Felton and Case would be joining the Facebook product design team.  A designer, that doesn’t sound like much a big deal does it?  What if I mention a Facebook designer studying our relationships to a point where he can tell us when we are most likely to break up and possible reasons why?  Because that is exactly what a recent addition to the design team named Lee Byron did.


Photo By: Business Insider

Outside of privacy issues, Facebook is actually quite a useful tool for networking and keeping in touch with friends.  Also according in an article by Anna Mehler Papern, The Glove and Mail, researchers are finding that social networks can make our social lives richer.  In fact since 2008, the number of Americans who say they frequently use social networking sites has grown from 26% to 47% in 2010.  Internet users are known to be more trusting than non-internet users as well, this can be stated because of how much the majority of internet users share, usually without raising a brow with each other.

Sometimes though you can start to feel left out by what your friends share. This is evident in Jenna Wortham’s New York Times article Feel Like a Wallflower? Maybe It’s Your Facebook Wall.  In this article Wortham starts a story by setting the scene of her sitting down to watch a movie on a rainy night.  She was satisfied and at peace, until her smart phone starting lighting up and notifying her what her friends were doing.  After reading the updates of her friends’ nights she started to feel unsettled.  Then her peaceful night turned into a night of confusion and indecision.  She could not decide if she wanted to go join her friends or stay at home.  She went on to describe the feelings she felt with the name of FOMO, which stands for “Fear of Missing Out”.  FOMO does not only describe nightlife activities, but it also can just make you feel inadequate about where you stand in life.  For instance your other friends have children and a mortgage while you may only be in an apartment with threes roommates.

Speaking of people’s feelings according to Nick Bilton, New York Times, you can track the national mood on Twitter.  A group of researchers at Northeastern University did just that.  Their research project was named Pulse of the Nation: U.S. Mood Throughout the Day Inferred From Twitter and it took place from September 2006 to August 2009.  Some trends they found during this research includes:

  1. People are happier during the early mornings and evenings.
  2. People are happier during the weekends.
  3. People on the West Coast seemed to portray their happiness in a very similar pattern as those on the east coast, just three hours later.
  4. The most negative parts of the country also appeared to be in the middle of the country.
  5. The unhappiest moments are usually on Thursday evenings.

In another article by Bilton in March 2011, he went on to explain how people congregate on Twitter based on mood.  His major source is a research project led by Johan Bollen, Indiana University.  In his research, Bollen found that people on Twitter tend to congregate not just by age and their interests but by their moods.  For instance loners tended to interact with other people who felt similarly.

Jenna Wortham, New York Times, has also published another interesting piece similar to Bilton’s two previously mentioned.  In hers named Using Twitter as a Collective Mood Ring, she cites the research of two statisticians, Peter Sheridan Dodds and Christopher M. Danforth.  In their research they were trying to test how people felt on given topics.  Their results proved that Twitter is a reflection of what people, as a whole, care about right now.

Twitter is a very simple looking social network at first glance.  You do not add friends, you do not put in a ton of personal information at first, and you only have 140 characters per update.  You can say whatever you want and  choose your own style of how you want your profile to be viewed by people.  But really it can be used in much more depth as evidence of the mood research above.  So what else can Twitter do?

Well for one it can help someone become elected President of the United States of America.  I do not know about all of you, but that is kind of a big deal to me.  Li Evans, Search Marketing Gurus, in November of 2008, following the election of Barack Obama, published the article Barack Obama The First Social Media President?  In this article, Evans describes ways in which Obama harnessed the power of social media and how he used it to get to the White House.  The Obama campaign reached into places that prior elections had never utilized, at least nowhere near as deeply as a whole.  He had accounts on Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Flickr, and a blog.  This excited the young vote and made his face more easily remembered when people went to the polls.

Big name brands are also digging themselves deeper into social media.  They have changed their advertisement model to one where they are Promoting Products on Social Media.  They are doing so because according to Google only 1 in 1,000 people click on advertisements that will take them away from their current page.  Also they have found the chances of someone looking at your advertisement goes up to 35 out of 1,000 when it keeps you on your current page and you just “Learn More”.  The “Learn More” phrase also seems less in your face to the consumer.  Also best of all, if you post your stuff on Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter which are free to use so you can save money.  This allows you to put more money into creating your advertisements rather than spending so much to find a spot for them like a more traditional model.

A good example of this new style of advertisement is in this article from Azam Khan.  In this article for Khan talks about a deal between McDonalds and Zynga.  Zynga are in control of the popular Facebook game, Farmville.  McDonalds is getting their brand out to people without taking them off the website they were already as you can see below.  Just from this one screen shot you find out McDonalds currently has brought back the Monopoly game, and you get to see their logo a few times.

It is an exciting time to be growing up in this generation.  We are seeing things and being involved in their development from since we were little.  Specifically my generation in our late-teens to early-20s are being effected.  I personally believe it is my generation that is in large part changing the way we think about things and how we do things.  I will not make a prediction on where we will be in 10 years, because 10 years ago I would not have been able to predict where we are as a population today.  But one thing is for sure, I think it is going to be a fun ride.

Follow David Coats II on Twitter @DavidCoatsII.