Pixelating Reality from SXSW Interactive

We enjoyed sharing insights at SXSW Interactive 2014 on this question -- How is smartphone use pixelating reality, blowing it up and turning it into shiftable bits of data so we are making different decisions with its Time and Place?

We are in a massive change in social and personal behavior, catalyzed by the increasing penetration of smartphones.  We have had digital cameras and cell phones for many years.  The intriguing shift stems from both (a) casual photography with no lag time to distribute and immediate connectivity, and (b) instant connecting with small screens wherever we go.

What has shifted?  This direction of thought looks at how this affects our Here and Now, as well as the question of being Together.

  • How are we Present if we are always checking in to other information and places?  
  • Are we shifting our energies to auto-documenting our activities through pictures and other actions to the detriment of the activity and connections that we are experiencing live?

You can enjoy two elements of the presentation below...

First, this video outlines some of the questions we examined:

Second, here's the SlideShare of the presentation from SXSW, without any audio.

Cyborg Attachments and Goodies from CES 2014

We enjoyed our adventures at CES 2014.  Dr. Johnson came hold with a nasty convention cold, and now that she is almost human again, we thought we would share the human-adjacent technologies about robots, eye tracking, 3D printing, telepresence, quad copters, cars, and other things that go bump in the night from future and present technology trends.

See anything you'd like?
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Four Conferences: Four Sets of Live Viewpoints on Innovation

We've just come back from a series of unique conferences, each with a very different view of the world.  Given our overly connected digital world, the proliferation and expansion of live events is intriguing.  These were just the four we picked of the dozen or so going on during this same three week period of time.  Some are pricey -- over $1,500 a seat before paying for room, board, and travel -- and others are less than $100 for attendees.

Sponsors are abundant -- is this the real sign that we are coming firmly out of the recession?

Or is it that in this crowded business-to-business marketing world that face-time for new brands is so essential?  I'm working with quite a few new educational technology brands right now . . . who each are having to rationalize how and where they invest their time and money to meet the right adventurous partners for trials.  A growing portion of my advisory time through Maremel is working with innovative leaders about this exact question set.

GSV/ASU Educational Innovation Summit

We had bypassed this event last year and was amazed by the 1,500 attendees at more than $1,500 a pop for three days.  This was a well-heeled crowd of investors and new educational technology ventures, as well as many leading voices from traditional firms, NGOs, and government forces.  The dance was intriguing, with 170+ short presentation pitches.  The more intriguing discussions were happening in the hallways and central seating areas.  Deals and gossip seemed evenly matched.  We overheard a lot of conversations about competitors about to run out of funds.

Viewpoints: Adaptive learning is the next new great thing.  Give our new company money and we will save the educational world (mostly US).  Selective viewpoint: We're already an adventurous organization, doing cool things, and we are at this event quietly to see what is coming up the pike that doesn't have revenue yet.

2013 IFTA Production Conference

Embracing the Small Screen: How Independents Are Defining Their Future in Television and Digital Media

We enjoyed this conference, run by what used to be the American Film Marketing Association, and was renamed IFTA (International Film & Television Association) many years ago.

The day was broken into the Buyers and the Sellers, and I could see why this was also a sell-out event.  The audience was filled with aspiringl producers, but the panels were filled with those really doing business in digital video production and distribution in a big way.

Viewpoints: The money isn't there yet, but exciting things are afoot.  Big names were wondering how the money was being made.  Digital distributors were sharing some cases, but keeping some of the data close to the vest.


American Educational Research Association

How do you fit 14,000 educational researchers in a group of hotels in 5 days in San Francisco with thousands of presentations, and often more than 75 simultanous events?  With a phone-book sized guide with 7+ digit codes and a almost-connected App.

This group has seven different technology-oriented special interest groups, each with overlapping content and interests.  We spent time with both the TICL (Technology, Instruction, Cognition, and Learning) and TACTL (Technology as an Agent of Change in Teaching and Learning) groups, who call themselves "Tickle" and "Tactile" respectively.  There was intriguing research in cognitive load theory in teaching (making the content format decisions make the learning easier, not harder) and evidence-based educational design.

The conversations continued that started at GSV/ASU: Why does the research being done on learning science NOT flow into learning design, both in terms of products and content?

We ask the reverse: why should it flow?  What would be the connective tissue to tie it together?

Viewpoints: Our research is wonderful -- why doesn't the world want it?  Peer reviewed journal research is of value, not necessarily research happening by non-universities (undercurrent of conversations).


The Community Movement Partnership -- http://www.business4better.org/

What a different perspective!  In Anaheim, CA, we caught the second day of this UBM-hosted conference that brought together community partners in social support from around mostly Orange County, each with little booths waiting for people to come by.  This was the most old-fashioned of the conferences, and the thinnest attended, but the one at which we had the most sincere conversations.

Viewpoints:  We are helping our communities.  How can we bring new awareness and resources in?

End Thought

All of these were valuable conversations -- all local and all connecting ideas in the light of our digital world.  How do we connect the right resources, ideas, and different frames of mind?

Live and local becomes even more important in this overly connected age.

Blending the University at SXSWedu

Thanks to all who attended our 9 am presentation on March 6, 2013 at SXSWedu in Austin, TX, on Blending the University.  We had a full house of 125 seats plus folks tucked along the back wall.  We also had a robust conversation on the question of organizational challenges with blended learning design during the session and following throughout the day.

Please enjoy and share the presentation.

5 Ways to View the Ryan Seacrest/NBC Universal Deal

A reporter from a major newspaper emailed me on Friday with three questions about the Ryan Seacrest/NBC Universal two-year, multi-platform deal.  He had found me from one of my non-Maremel roles: lecturer at UCLA Anderson Graduate School of Management.  (I'm off this quarter, and back in June with their summer program.)  

He asked about (1) whether ubiquity is necessary in media these days, (2) what the deal was like from a management point-of-view with Ryan as a business, and (3) whether there is a risk of backlash.

I thought about these issues, and came back with five ways to view the deal:

  1. Diversification of his brand portfolio with this deal, to expand into prime time, sports, elections, and a broader morning show portfolio. 
  2. Comcast/NBCUniversal’s need to bring younger audiences to NBC News, and elections, and possibly women to Sports. 
  3. Social Media, essentially in “buying” a Klout score
  4. Ubiquity – Wow, he’s been ubiquitous for years
  5. Strategic role vs. being the product 
  • Diversification:  I’d contest he already is ubiquitous, though in entertainment modes across the US and some global distribution.  What this deal gives him is diversification; it helps him move from an entertainment brand to a news, politics, sports, and prime time brand.  Bluntly, it could reduce his “fluff factor.”
  • Comcast audience challenge:  The TV audiences are getting older, or younger viewers are finding other modes of engagement instead of watching network TV as network TV.  Ryan is a broadly appealing brand with a younger audience base than election coverage usually attracts.  Whether the Today Show, the news, or even Prime Time, Ryan brings a potentially younger demographic than currently is showing up to those genres.  For US elections, this age gap in attention on Network TV is of increasingly important; as Morley Winograd says in his work on Millenials, “only 5% of Super Tuesday's votes were cast by people under 30,” while they make up a much larger percentage of the US population.  (http://communicationleadership.usc.edu/blog/post_6.html)
  • Social Media: He also brings a nice, high Klout score (85), a strong Twitter following (6.6 million), robust Facebook following (487,000 subscribers), and other direct connections with fans.  That asset set dramatically could help the interconnections with these old and new media delivery arenas for NBC Universal.
  •  Ubiquity:  Being in LA, Ryan has been everywhere for years.  I think I first heard him on KYSR back in the 1990s.  As he added in his American Idol, E!, and American Top 40 expansions, it felt to many of my friends here that Ryan was everywhere all the time…quite a while ago.

    My funny story there: My two teenage daughters joined me at a much younger age to see an American Idol live taping, I think in Season 2.  Ryan came into the audience and spoke with them a while, which both my (now) 14-year-old and I remember vividly.  She remembers that moment now, mentioning that it was so cool as he was a famous person (back then).  I asked her about him now.  “Well, he’s a lot less famous now.”  I think that the “ubiquity” might be apparent now to those Americans who spend time in traditional television; it won’t affect or even be noticed by my 14-year-old unless those outlets come into her social media sphere to do more than just hire Ryan. 

  • Strategic Role vs. Being the Product:  He already was amazingly busy as an individual.  I’m not sure how all of this will work for him.  As a leader of a production holding company, his time will be swamped out by all of this face-time.  I don’t know Adam Sher and Jeff Refold from his company management team, or his support network including his CAA team – I’m hoping that they will be able to leverage these new demands on his time, as well as the January co-investment in AXS TV and new incoming funds from Clear Channel and others.  Hopefully they can mix this all with his time and health, creating strategic opportunities for him to make it all happen. 

Some comparisons have been made with Dick Clark.  Dick Clark Productions leveraged his time, making his ideas come to life.  Dick did a lot of things himself, but seemed to structure his business world to help him amplify his influence beyond his appearance.  Ryan has made some efforts in that regard, but the deals in January would be the core to help him create robust, permanent economic legacies for him other than his charm and appearance.    Perhaps this NBC Universal deal can help him bridge in this direction as well.  I hope that it doesn’t put too much complex pressure on his time that may pull pieces out of a complex puzzle. 

Ryan Seacrest ubiquitous?  Nah.  😉