Preparing for the GIANT "Unplug"

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circuitbored
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Preparing for the GIANT "Unplug"

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Spend years tweeting until you generate 10,000 followers!

Play Call Of Duty for months until you rack up a "respectable" score!

Reach the 5,000 friend mark on Facebook 4 years after you first logged in!

Spend 6 hours deleting 2,500 spam messages on Myspace, only 6,784 left!

You're still nowhere in life when the power goes out.

Myspace is dead, [no offense] and they've spent Millions of dollars trying to bring it back to life by improving the look and feel of it, but the major thing they forgot to overhaul is their unbearable encumbrance of not having good spam controls. People want to clear their in boxes of all of the spam that has accumulated over years of neglect, but alas, you can only delete messages by small handfuls at a time. You'll spend a lifetime of deleting, while new messages keep piling in from bots set up to send you tons of other messages you'll never read. The failure here, is that Myspace hasn't noticed that Spam is a huge part of what killed it, and they failed to bring that under control for real users that have accounts on the service. No matter what face you put on Myspace, its still a spam haven [no offense] and it may be too late to realize that and fix it. Your customers are key, even if they don't pay you directly, they're still the reason why you get press write-ups, sponsorship, and ad revenue.

Companies need to adopt and uphold a customer centric mantra in the process of product and service development, no matter how popular their products and services get.

All the work you invest in building a stake in, and generating progress within artificial environments generates only a small portion of real fulfillment in your life. One day soon, if not already, people are going to begin to turn against these social tools, influences, and trends. They'll start leaving their cell phone at home, spending time with their dogs and kids and neighbors instead of logging onto your networks or using your smart devices...

Forget computers rising up to conquer us, companies worldwide, in the impending future will need to scramble to prepare for the massive "unplug" movement that will sweep the nation once enlightened masses become keen to the fact that all of this time that they spend hooked on hopes in virtual space gets them very little in return, and that spending time on those hopes didn't earn them much if anything IRL [In Real Life]>>>

Leveled against the promises that the Internet and computers make to us about "endless and boundless entertainment and connecting to a world of people" is a huge health care burden. People poised at a desk all day, only to come home at night to watch hours of TV, and then go to sleep. This routine leaves even the most "gym bound" people we know to only be active for one hour a day, whereas in the Pre-Internet age, people were radically socialized, going out on dates, hosting dinner parties, playing sports, and doing "boring things" like camping. Now we stay inside, playing tennis on our Kinect Boxes and Nintendo Wii game consoles. Shielded from the public, and playing versus a program, or worse yet, with someone who you may never meet, much lest be socially prepared to talk to. I heard a great quote today on CNN.Com, it was related to teens and being challenged to "unplug" from technology, it was that people come together to hang with friends only in order to spend time thinking about someone else who is far away from them because of technology allowing them to communicate over long distances. Social skills are lost, people are constantly withdrawn and people feel more and more disconnected, leading them to the point where they'll have to make a drastic change in their use of tech devices, in order to reconnect with reality.

Now don't get me wrong, I love video games, I love playing games and texting on my cell phone, and I love the Internet; heck, I'm writing this on a blog, so you know I've got to be at least partially tech dependent at this point. Brett Favre may not enjoy texting this year as much as he used to last year, but that's a different matter.

What's really going to matter in the future are the REAL and TANGIBLE points of value that web sites, software, and computers can add to our lives.

The value of web sites is and always has been what they can do for you. Social Media sites have largely got it wrong over the past 2-3 years. They've invaded our privacy, they've required us to promote them, they've even spammed us and given us viruses. They're like cheating exes basically. Don't worry, nature always evens the score.

Instead of the current model [requiring Twitter users to generate their own buzz and thusly being promotional slaves for Twitter]. Twitter will [in the near future] have to adopt different means of promoting profiles for their account holders, and new ways to keep their users engaged through useful promotional and entertainment tools. In other words, Twitter will have to begin actively working to stay popular rather than relying on the crowd sourcing model of promotion they have gained so much from over the past years... Why you say? Because [for example, without intended offense] currently, a lot of new Twitter users log on and then never come back.

For example, A user joins Twitter, and then subsequently choose to follow Bill Gates, who at this point has 1,863,268 followers. They will notice that they can only generate 5 no matter what they type, and then look into what they have to do to generate more followers. They'll then work hard to generate more followers with high hopes, and then cop out and never log in again after 4 months of tweeting hard and only generating 15 followers max while Bill Gates scoffs at you "measly" following from his celebrity pedestal. You then log out, and then never log in again. [I am exaggerating here, Bill Gates is probably not that arrogant IRL]

The merit system for Twitter is also [in the case above] flawed because the person, who added Bill Gates, [now that they aren't active any more] is still following Bill Gates, and leading Bill to believe that he is indeed "one person" more famous than he actually is, now multiply that by a fair percentage of Twitter's users.

I'm not here to bad-mouth Twitter of course though, don't give me that much credit; I am detailing the mindset behind the average Joe, which can be applied to any software, game, or mobile device. The key to making these items valuable is the REAL and TANGIBLE value they add to our lives.

A video game is considered as "great" to us if it challenges us, but allows us to pause and resume it, or if there are quick bursts of achievement that we can use to fill our down time. If we spend months playing it in order to beat it, chances are that we'd have our house foreclosed upon us before we got to level 5... A web site and/or application is only valuable to us if it puts out information that respects our anonymity/privacy but still appeals to our sense of individuality. A message board is great, but only for the level of regard it pays to each and every one of us or the promotion it allows us as individuals at regular intervals thought the day.

These are the things that successful developers and artists know about creating key software, mobile devices, and computers.

Apple, as another example, [no offense intended again] strives to make "rabid and devout addicts" out of their supporters. Releasing newer, better, and faster models of Computers, iPhones, iPods, and iPads every few months, core Apple users buy constantly to be on top of "the latest and greatest".

The question is, when do you plan on jumping out of the continuous device buying cycle? With the wave of "must have features" that each new device introduces into the market, and the ever shrinking value/support for the current [older] mac model you have, you'll surely grow into a repeat buyer, especially when Apple products can only interface properly with other Apple products. Its in Steve Job's best financial interests to steer his company towards a "closed" system for Apple users, wherein Apple products only work with other Apple products. Can you trust Steve to not turn monopolistic and go that way when you're just a tiny consumerist plebeian on the path towards Apple global domination? Who knows...

At the end of the day, what do you gain from having an iPhone that you can't experience on a computer or on a regular phone? Or with a HD camera [all tied together with duct tape] while riding on the back of a horse? That's exactly what I'm talking about here; The REAL TANGIBLE VALUE you get out of consumer devices and software. Make sure there's more value in buying a device than just being the coolest nerd in match class, or the douche bag talking loud at a restaurant about your new magical smart phone.

Now we get to the ideal of "The Big Unplug". Its pretty much self explanatory, but its basically the point where a societal majority will begin to reject technological advancements in devices, and devices overall because of a rising perception of over-inflated value. This is already happening with 3D televisions, but again, another story...

When do people do this "unplug" sort of thing? Well, for starters, when their bank accounts are empty. If someone can't afford a game console or phone, they don't buy it. Simple eh?

The other deal breaker is when people notice that in the past 3 years that 3 different iPhone models have been released. That's one [roughly averaged] every year, so technically, that means a lot of toxic waste in land fills if everyone manages to update once a year. It also means that with each release, the amount of money your current iPhone is worth, even though it may be in pristine condition after you wipe off the ear wax, is dropping dramatically.

Your iPhone is purchased with an expiration date already assigned to it. The value in this case makes it clear that tangible value of purchasing an iPhone is dramatically low. Unless, perhaps, you shoot a brilliant HD film with it that makes at least 300$ when said movie is released in theaters!

"Unplugging" means "not buying" as much as "not using". If devices and software that people have purchased proves difficult to use or maintain, or expensive to operate and upgrade, or quickly obsolete [of course] people "unplug" them. And the same people don't come back to buy again. This we already know, but what we may not have seen yet is that in all of these cases TIME is MONEY. If we spend hours yearly trying to generate a Twitter following, or hours trying to sell products online and it doesn't work [good product or not] people who get let down, don't come back.

This [sort of] explains why many of these individual Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, FourSquare, YouTube, BeBo, Reddit, BlaBlaBla, [and many other social media] [no offense] accounts lie dormant forever, and contribute to inaccurate statistical reports about "burgeoning" success of top social media outlets... People are required to log in and create a profile in order to sample, and then they log off, but they are still counted as users in the long run. Its kind of like the first time you launch Google Analytics on your web site, and see a big drop in hits, and then if you're in denial, you go back to counting metrics on your fingers because you want to lie to yourself about your statistical success...

The most popular sites, [for example YouTube] add an intangible measure of value to user's lives, by opening their content up to their users. YouTube compensates a user for the time they spend watching it with quick entertainment, precise controls, an unobtrusive interface, and a wide selection. You don't have to log in to view most content, private user information is not displayed prominently, pages center around the content artists promote rather than their personal information [for example]. This is where TANGIBLE value is achieved.

On YouTube, I can find an unbelievably classic video with James Brown, Michael Jackson, and Prince sharing the same stage, and then I can embed it into my own web site, or into my Facebook page, and I can watch it all without paying or logging in! This model also grants hit promotion for the person who uploaded the video without them having to generate silly followers, the content sells the site; YouTube also allows viewers to share an item without having to grant everyone access to their personal information. Less time "tracking us", and more time serving us. [That's why sites are hosted on a "WEB SERVER" not a "WEB TRACKER"] Hur...

By really taking a close look at how to provide unique services that clients and users want and need, without betraying trust, or wasting their time, somewhere, is the way to prevent your products from being "unplugged" in the unruly future of the Post "DOT COM" web. Lets hope YouTube doesn't screw its good run up by adding mandatory commercials and pop-ups on every vid... er... wait a minute... Time to unplug.
VIDEO: Chamath Palihapitiya, Founder and CEO Social Capital, on Money as an Instrument of Change
MOST RELEVANT PART: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PMotykw ... e&t=21m23s

VIDEO: A year offline, what I have learned | Paul Miller | TEDxEutropolis

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