Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Appables, the Invisible Wearables

One of my girlfriends came to me recently and said "You have to tell me what all the new hot apps are!" So here is what I told her:


Instagram + Twitter

Super is an amazing new app created by +Biz Stone, one of the co-founders of +Twitter. The thing I love about this app is its playfulness. It has a fun augmented reality profile pic creation aspect which allows you to virtually put on different types of glasses. When you want to make a post you start by choosing some of the most popular colloquial terms from OMG, current status, love, dude to hey-oh. The interesting part about this is that it also changes every day and does not allow for modification. You must choose among the choices presented to you. Today if you want to post you have to pick between "I love,," "We should," "The best," and "The worst." The other thing that makes this app so unique is its content library. What ever you write about it will automatically generate a catalog of picture suggestions or you can search within the app. For example, when I wrote about billiards, after typing my limited characters (not sure by how many) it presented me with a whole bunch of beautiful billiard pictures to select from. This app, like +Instagram, is very design friendly and photography-centric. Super allows users to create amazing content and surf either friends posts or locally, like +Yik Yak. With more and more noise out there, sometimes what is local is all that might matter at that moment in time.


Facebook + Craigslist + Local Newspaper/Town hall

+Nextdoor is literally one of my favorite go to networks. If I want to find out what is going on locally in my neighborhood, I check it out  From local events, to local police activity and crime, to local business recommendations, to neighborhood gossip; it is like the city town hall meeting all wrapped up into an app. If someone is looking for a plumber or if they want to sell or give away their couch, they post it here. Need a babysitter, tech help, or heard a loud noise, post it on Nextdoor. Nextdoor is designed like a community discussion board, where you can either post to your extremely localized neighborhood which basically is a mile or two in radius, or you can post to all the little neighborhoods in your city. Additionally, every neighborhood is a closed fence - you cannot see or access anything outside of your city. You can either like a post or comment, and it is a purely time based organic feed with the most recent always at the top, refreshing based on comments. There are no advertisements and you can completely control your privacy settings, deciding to either show it to your neighborhood, or the entire city. You can choose whether to show your full address, the street you live on, or nothing at all. With either postcard or cellphone confirmations for accounts, this network is as absent of fake accounts and abuse as any network will ever get. Everyone is always very polite and respectful, aside from the occassional heated conversation about conserving water or little neighborly spats. With the world getting smaller everyday, what a better place to start getting to know your neighbors than by using Nextdoor.


+Pinterest has become one of my recent favorite networks. The thing I like most about Pinterest is the ability to organize ideas and content, and know that it will always be there when you go back. In doing internet research I used to post things on Facebook and Twitter, so that I could not only share it but go back for future reference. However, what I discovered was that not only was that completely time consuming, but literally sometimes it wouldn't be there. This infuriated me for sometimes I couldn't remember the company name, product or press organization that had published it. Additionally, lately I've been using it a lot to formulate my ideas for future articles. Essentially, each one of my boards is an outline for an article, or could be. Pinterest is also one of best networks for selling products and merchandise. People that go there are at least 2x more likely to purchase a product than on Facebook or Twitter. And lastly, I love the beautiful content that they curate for me. Based on the boards I follow and the pins that I like, their algorithm picks tremendous personally curated content that has kept me at times on the network obsessively all day.  


I haven't used Yo much but based on +Robert Scoble's evangelizing, I had to try it out. Yo! is a trendy simple little app which allows you to merely send a Yo! to someone, with or without your location details. Rather than call someone, first send them a Yo! to see if they are available. If you are just thinking of someone and want to let them know, send them a Yo! 

Yik Yak

Now this is a network that though I'd heard of it, never downloaded it until a few days ago. +Yik Yak. While at first I was a bit put off because the top trending things sounded like a bunch of giggling gossiping girls in the high school bathroom mixed with a men's locker conversations, it has grown on me. If you feel like shouting at the top of your lungs or whispering something under your breath, Yik Yak it. The cool thing about this app is that it is solely based on geo-location. So while I can find out what the Yikkies are talking about in London, I can't vote up or down or comment on the conversation. It is merely a portal into a different world. Over dinner and a bottle of wine last night, my girlfriend and I had a little too much fun on this network. Thanks Andrew Watts for the inspiration!


I used to be turned off by +Snapchat and refused to get on it or use it simply because I thought people would be sending me naughty pics and/or asking and expecting them of me. If a guy asked if I was on it, I would quickly say no. However, now, though I don't use it that much (partially because not many of my friends do), I quite like it. It allows you to share pictures and video, without having to worry too much about whether you like the pic or video, or whether you will like it tomorrow. Essentially, it is a more sincere and real form of communication. Rather than sending someone a text or email, you simply snap them. One of the other features that I really like is the event stories that they have started to share. A few months ago I was able to watch the collage of all the most popular snaps from Germany's Oktoberfest. Like all the social networks, Snapchat is helping break down the barriers between countries and languages, helping us understand each other better. I additionally greatly appreciate Evan Spiegel's innovative approach. Recently they added Snappay, allowing people to quickly send money, and surely will continue to be mobile. 


+AnonyMess is an app that I actually haven't even used before (it's only available on iOS currently), but since I met with the two founders, +Marcus Perezi-Tormos and +David Mendlewicz I thought I'd include a reference. AnnonyMessenger is a new app created by two Belgium's which is kinda like Snapchat except you can only send messages to the people in your phone book and the person sending the message always stays anonymous. If you want to get someone's real opinion or doubt if they gave it to you the first time, +AnonyMess them, and see what gets pulled out of the hat. Within this app, just like +Snapchat you can send someone a pic and not have to worry about it's after life. You can delete it at any time and if you delete it, it gets deleted on both ends. It also incorporates an easy blurring functionality so that you can blur out faces or things of those your are trying to delude.  

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Happy New Year!

If you would like to follow my future blog entries check out http://sarahslocum.blogspot.com/ where I will be speaking about wearables, fashtech, innovation and the future!

If you would like help managing your social media presence, you can shoot me an email at sarah@sarahslocum.co.

Happy New Year and to 2015!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Google Adsense Nonsense

I applied for +Google AdSense for the second time this year (the first time I was also denied) and received a reply saying that my +I Love Social Media, Inc. +Blogger account had been "disapproved." Having heard about people's accounts being wrongfully flagged and disabled for copyright issues, and not seeing or understanding any logical reason behind the denial, I started researching for an explanation.

I clicked on the "Learn more" link which stated that my "Ads or Account" had been "disabled. Upon seeing this I was not only just frustrated but now angry. "Disabled?" "Invalid activity?" What on earth and why? How?? Who??? When was it ever instated??

I scanned around this page reading all this stuff that didn't pertain to my situation or account and then finally saw half way down the page under "Why was my account disabled? Can you tell me more about the invalid click activity you detected?" a link to "top reasons for account closure." Not really sure why it had the reasons for "closure" listed under the "disabled" section, I clicked on it anyway searching for the answer and this is what it said:

Now this was further alarming and infuriating. What were they talking about? I have never seen an ad on my account and to my knowledge it had never been set up, so how could that be possible? I certainly never clicked on any ads. Nor did I have anything to do with any bot activity on my account. Could someone else running a bot machine sabatoge my +Google AdSense application? I hadn't done any of these things so I realized that this clearly did not pertain to me. 

Why did +Google AdSense and Google not just take me directly to the specific information about my account? Why were they wasting my time? Why didn't they specifically tell me what was up in the email that they sent me? Even though clearly this was an automated response, Google is better than this. Instead the email gave me completely conflicting information than that which +Blogger was stating here. This is what I was told in the email response:

All of a sudden I began to feel like I was at the +Department of Motor Vehicles. Oh but wait, they are even better than all this nonsense! Was it "insufficient content" or was it because of supposed "invalid activity?" I have 9 blog posts with over 10's of 1,000's of words, pictures, links, videos, all pertaining to technology, Google and +Google Glass, enough to get over 15,000 views, so how could that be "insufficient content?" The more I read the more confused I became. 

The only possible relevant bullet point is: 
  • Place the ad code on a live page of your website. It does not have to be the main page, but test pages that are empty except for the AdSense ad code will not be approved.
What on earth was this talking about though? Didn't I have to be approved before I could place some code on my +Blogger account? Was this just a #UX problem? Had they not prompted me to do that first before I applied for +Google AdSense? I didn't see any code anywhere, just the option to apply. 

So I started doing what I do and set out to find the right people to speak with at Google. I went to +Twitter and +LinkedIn and started searching for those who work on +Google AdSense with whom I share a few mutual connections. I found two people - +Bryan Vu and +Zak Mandhro - and sent them a personalized invitation to connect explaining my problem and asking to speak further. I also found them on Twitter and followed them there. Twelve hours later, no response. 

Anyhow, if my blog is for some reason insufficient in content here is some more for Google. Still searching for answers and hoping to be an approved +Google AdSense  partner someday.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Adding the Life to Klout

One of the most common criticisms about Klout is that they do not incorporate one's real life influence into one's score; Klout is currently only a measure of one's social media influence. Due to this, some extremely influential people who are not very active on social media have a very low Klout score. While some of these people are so influential and known that they do not care, others find it insulting and are therefore dismissive of the new platform. While Klout is an awesome, innovative idea - creating social influence scores for individuals and not just press organizations and/or companies - they could easily generate both metrics.

Take Sergey Brin for example. Klout shows that he only has a 47 Klout while I currently have a score of 65. One of the additional reasons for this is that +Sergey Brin not only probably didn't create this Klout page (since Klout now automatically generates Klout pages for every Twitter profile), but because it is only linked to his Twitter profile (though I just noticed this link is broken and that he doesn't even have a verified Twitter account). For the most accurate Klout metrics and the highest score one must link up all their social media accounts.

Klout should have three separate scores - social, life and an aggregate of them both. To accomplish this Klout could extract one's education and work experience from LinkedIn, determine the Klout score of the company/university, multiplied by two variables - position and time. For example, continuing with Sergey Brin (though he doesn't have a LinkedIn profile either), we all know that he is one of the founders of Google, Google has a Klout score of 97. Therefore, 97 would be multiplied by one of the highest variables due to his founding position, multiplied by 16 years, To tally his educational life influence score, one would include his education at University of Maryland, which Klout indicates has an 89 Klout score times four years and some points for his bachelors degree in science, plus his brief graduate study at Stanford in computer science. Stanford has a Klout score of 96, times the few months there. All of this would then come up with some tally in between 97-89 for his life experience. This would at least be a start to problem solving the lack of life clout in Klout's metrics.

Put the Buzz in your Feed, Twitter

One of the things about being a social media maven is that it gives me insight into many useful ways to innovate, improve and progress that which is already out there. Two interesting ideas that I have recently had involve Twitter and Klout.

What has baffled me about Twitter is that basically every major press organization (and Twitter itself) as well as all other websites and blogs do not at least minimally automatically include the author's handle in the Twitter share function. The upside of including this information as well as related handles and hashtags is enormous, not only for the press organization, but for Twitter, companies, authors, and everyone involved. The only website I've recently come across which automatically does include the author's handle is BuzzFeed. This is giving them a serious competitive marketing advantage over all other media companies.

I recently started problem solving this issue because every time I read an article and go to share on Twitter I usually look up not only the author's Twitter handle but also any related handles pertaining to the article. While in a way I consider this part of my competitive advantage for I get to gather a greater understanding while researching this information, I do not always have time to do so and sometimes it is information that I have already researched and gathered in previous posts. Furthermore, doing so shows that I am not only thorough but a savvy Twitter user. However, this should be easier for everyone to accomplish. So I thought why not just crowdsource this information. One could also write code to automatically search Twitter's verified accounts for all proper names mentioned and automatically generate suggested handles and hashtags. This would be extremely beneficial to Twitter because it would generate more conversation, collaboration, information and rich data. Why this hasn't been done yet, I do not know, for it isn't because there aren't enough characters; almost every article leaves around 50 or so characters available.

Addendum added 10/9/14 6:08pm:
Twitter shares should also automatically revert to sharing the author's original tweet if they make one after publishing the article, so that they get the activity, recognition and retweets as well as the publication, and they should properly reference the related handles and hashtags. If not it should be crowdsourced and compiled by searching for verified and/or related Twitter accounts to the pronouns listed in the article.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Stay Glassy, San Francisco

Google Glass Explorers at the Stanford Hotel Meetup in March

This past Friday, April 11th another Google Glass Explorer, Kyle Russell, was unfortunately assaulted and robbed for wearing his Glass in the "wrong part of San Francisco," as he reported in a Business Insider article on April 13th. I can't help but wonder that if maybe the SFPD had taken action by now in response to the Google Glass incident on February 22nd, that maybe this wouldn't have happened, or at least not so soon thereafter. Especially not in the same geographical location, and at that, certainly not in the heart of the San Francisco Silicon Valley Bay Area again. At the same time, regardless of and across all industries, including those in tech, many find the cost of living in the Bay Area economically challenging, and Google Glass has come to represent a symbol of privilege.

While protests in San Francisco are an old and embraced tradition for addressing social and political grievances, it is quite troubling that the recent tech backlash has devolved into random assaults against techies. While there are many policies and social inequalities that could be better addressed by our government and all industries, I believe it is wrong to saddle the technology industry specifically with so much of the responsibility and weight. Advancements in technology have contributed so immensely to our human progress and standard of living that I believe we sometimes forget and take much of it for granted. And while it is easy to target an industry in which one hears about new billion dollar deals on a monthly basis, there are many other big industries and deals, and creating a scapegoat and targeting random tech users isn't going to solve any of the underlying socioeconomic issues or benefit the cause.

With Google opening up Glass acquisitions today to anyone who would like to buy them, Google Glass is slowly but surely taking steps towards mass market acquisition and the erosion of its privy tech club status. Now anyone who wants to spend $1,500 on one of the smallest and most high tech computers can do so. And contrary to things that I've read recently in the press, a Glass representative informed me today that they do not plan on lowering the price any time soon nor do they have any mass market release date set. And while $1,500 is expensive for a phone, it is not expensive for a computer or the next generation smartphone. Having Google Glass is more a representation of ones choices and values, as can be attributed to Mr. Russell and myself, rather than an elite symbol of extreme wealth. Soon Glass and wearables will just be a quality attributed to the American status quo, and just like smartphones, set forth another social and technological global transformation.

Google Glass and the wearable era will reveal an even more in depth dimension of reality, create a deeper and more intimate layer of global connectivity and interactivity, multiply our ability to create and access media and information, and further erode previous boundaries and conceptions of the centuries past. And most exciting, it will bring us all one step closer to every techie and sci-fi lover's dream of artificial intelligence, and augmented and virtual reality.

So if you ever saw some Glass Explorer and wanted to steal it and rip it off their face, because they had access and you did not. Or if you once didn't understand everyone's enthusiasm and love for their smartphones, and thought you didn't need or want one, until you got one, then think again and get excited because here they come! Welcome to Glassy times.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Never Forget Why You Bookmark a Site Again

As the internet grows, likewise the tools available to us grow as well. Annopad is a great new tool I've recently discovered which is the next generation of web bookmarking. Currently available on Chrome, it allows users to privately create, save and export URL specific notes with simplicity and ease. One can format with bold italics, add bullets and numbers, or even add other URL links.

Michael Santibanes, the creative young entrepreneur who came up with the idea in 2013, did so while doing "research and wanting to annotate notes on bookmarked links online." He told me that from this idea he "went to the drawing board, and after about four months, Annopad 1.0 was launched." Lifehacker, the tech weblog for "tips and downloads for getting things done," was quick to pick it up in 2013: "iOS 7 Draft Mail, Gunky Mice, and Web Page Notes."

When I first heard about Annopad, I researched what other tech savvy individuals were currently using for bookmarks and web notes. Since I've recently been sharing on one of my many social media sites for future reference, I didn't feel that I was well informed on the subject. I first asked Pete Pachal of Mashable and he responded with "Pocket, Delicious and Chrome." Jennifer Ruggiero of Get Nerdy With It responded quite similarly: "I use Evernote for notes, and Delicious  and Chrome for bookmarks." While Pocket, Delicious and Chrome are great placeholders, they don't have the added functionality of Annopad. When I asked Santibanes what differentiated Annopad from Evernote, he answered "I tested it last year and built Annopad to be an easier to use alternative."

Santibanes is no novice when it comes to entrepreneurship. His first venture was when he was 22 and "created a website and eBay account called Exotic Auto Haus to sell [his] racing photos online." Though it was a "disaster" he said, "Exotic Auto Haus taught me many skills I still use to this day." In 2013 he also co-founded a business/entrepreneur based forum called Novum Dives (Latin for “The New Rich”). When asked what drives him, his answer was simple: “I truly believe I was put on this earth to make a change. To me, knowing that someone somewhere used a product I created gives me an immense sense of pride and self-worth.”

Annopad is available in over 20 languages and will soon be coming to Firefox as well. Though he is currently on "take 3" of getting the extension approved, he is only more determined to make sure that as many people as possible have the chance to use his creation: "It is something which every web savvy individual should have."