Flickr

Meet the New Google+.

Almost two years ago Google+ launched with great fanfare as a Facebook killer. It was going to be the hottest thing in social media. Two years and three redesigns later it is still struggling to find a place in the crowded social-media sphere.

I like Google+ but I never use it. I use it less than Facebook, which is saying something because the only thing I post to Facebook comes from this blog via Twitter. I really want to love Google+, but the fact that there are no built in hooks to allow posts from other social networks kind of limits my use of it. I want a dedicated way to have what I post on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Hipstamatic, Flickr, Tumblr and every other network show up in Google+ seamlessly. Without a third party browser extension, and without me having to copy and paste what I posted elsewhere in my Google+ feed.

Anyway, my micro rant is over. Below is a video showing the new layout for the redesigned Google+. Perhaps if Google is smart, they’ll listen to a growing number of people like myself, and open up the gate to their walled garden so it plays nice with the rest of the social world.

Video Infographs Presents “The World of Social Media 2011”.

If you keep up with social media stats, or if you are actively involved with it, none of this information is really new. The animated infographic from “Video Infographics” is nice though, and the data presented reinforces the power and impact Social Media sites have had on the world in the last 5 years.

WordPress and Trip Journal for the iPhone.

In three days, mother nature willing, I’m traveling to France for a much-needed vacation. While I’m there I’ll be updating the blog via my iPhone courtesy of two iPhone applications. WordPress for iPhone, and Trip Journal.

WordPress is pretty straight forward. You put in your account info, link to your blog and post. The application allows you to insert images, geo-tag your location, moderate comments, add categories, tags, and resize photos. Depending on your WordPress theme you can also preview your posts. My current theme is not supported in the preview mode, but this isn’t a big deal for me since I am going to use the app for quick updates during the trip. Single images with a quick blurb. The app is free and easy to use. I have noticed that it can be a bit buggy and tends to crash on occasion, but it’s not bad for a free blog editor, and it hooks directly into WordPress which is a big plus. The app is fast, even on the 3G network as opposed to WiFi. So look for posts starting Friday.

The wordpress UI for iPhone.

In addition to WordPress, I going to use another app to log my vacation and that app is Trip Journal. Trip Journal costs $1.99 and from what I can tell so far, it’s worth the cost.  The application has a great graphical interface, that is a visual representation of a classic trip binder. You can create new trip, or continue to update ones you have already created. Like WordPress, Trip Journal geo-tags your locations, allows you to insert photos, write notes, and track your path as you travel. In addition, it also allows you to Tweet your location, publish your trip to Facebook, and upload images and waypoint data to services like Flickr, Google Earth, Picassa, and Twitter.

The nice looking Trip Journal UI

So look for posts to the blog, Facebook, and Twitter from the trip. And… I keep flip-flopping on buying an iPad before the trip. If I do, I’ll be using it to post and I’ll have a review of how well that goes as well.

Design Friday. Photography by Irene Suchocki

Irene Suchocki Photography © 2010

Last week I found the photography of Irene Suchocki by chance while looking up some information on Lens Baby systems for my EP1. After seeing a couple of her photos I jumped over to her Flickr stream and was absolutely blown away by her work. One of the things that I love about her stuff is the atmospheric qualities she manages to capture, and the faded dream like qualities that are represented in her work.

Canadian Irene Suchocki is a self-taught freelance photographer that uses a variety of styles and techniques, both in-camera and in her digital darkroom o achieve her signature look.

All of the shots are masterfully composed, and when I started looking into the additional information about her shots I noticed that a large portion of them are being shot on her Canon EOS 5D with a EF24-70mm f/2.8L or 200mm lens. She is managing to achieve the shallow depth of field and concentrated focus by carefully manipulating her aperture, and exposure settings.

According to her web site, “Faithfully capturing a scene is less important than finding that little bit of mystery, evoking a certain mood, or telling a story.”

Her work has appeared on numerous book covers, on television, and has been exhibited at the Sundance Film Festival.

Irene Suchocki Photography © 2010

Irene Suchocki Photography © 2010

Irene Suchocki Photography © 2010

Irene Suchocki Photography © 2010

Irene Suchocki Photography © 2010

Irene Suchocki Photography © 2010

Irene Suchocki Photography © 2010

Irene Suchocki Photography © 2010

Irene Suchocki Photography © 2010

Irene Suchocki Photography © 2010

Irene Suchocki Photography © 2010

Eye-Fi SD Cards For Your Digital Camera

If you are the kind of person that likes to share your digital photos and you don’t have an Eye-Fi card yet, you are missing out.  I bought one a couple months back, and I love it.

The Eye-Fi card is a wireless memory card. It looks and stores media just like a regular SD/SDHC card, and it fits into any camera that supports the SD format. On top of that, the Eye-Fi card has built-in Wi-Fi that uses your wireless network to effortlessly transfer photos and videos via  WiFi to your computer. The card allows up to 32 networks which can be added to the system, so you are not bound to using just your home network.

Set up of the card is simple. During the quick set-up, I was asked to customize where I wanted my photos sent. Then the Eye-Fi software allowed me to choose not only my computer, but gave me more than 25 photo sharing sites that I can send to as well. (Flickr,Fotoki, Facebook, Twitter, MobileMe, YouTube, Webshots, Snapfish, Picasa, Typepad, DotPhoto, Costco, PhotoBucket, Ritz, Walmart, Kodak, Walgreens etc.) Allowing me to instantly upload images to social networking sites or order prints through partners that print hard copies. During set up, you can customize not just where media is being sent, but how you want it organized. You can preset album names, tags, descriptions, and even privacy preferences on certain sharing sites.

The card I am using is the Eye-Fi Pro which allows me to hit any open Wifi Hot spot like McDonalds, or Starbucks for instance, and it allows me to set up Wifi networks for places that I go to on a frequent basis that have free WiFi which is great. It also has RAW support and an 8 gig capacity which is a must. at 150 bucks the cost is a bit more, but I think it is worth it. The entry-level cards don’t have hot spot access which sort of limits the card functionality. It’s not that hard to plug your camera in and download the photos if you are at home.

One thing I have been playing with and plan to use on the Trip to France this spring is the Geotagging feature. When used with iPhoto, it sorts the images into locations where they were shot. So if you are wanting to put together a travel log with your photos, it organizes them for you. Photos imported into iPhoto can be made into a photobook, and since they’re automatically geotagged, inserting a map of your trip is just one click away.
My only real gripe witht he card right now is limited camera compatibility. While Eye-Fi is making headway and adding new cameras all the time, This card doesn’t work with my Lumix, or EP1 so I am having to use it with an older Canon point and shoot that is not my favorite camera to work with. Hopefully as this product gains traction in the market, Eye-Fi will get all camera brands on the compatibilty list.

At CES Eye-Fi announced  new Eye-Fi software, available for download to all Eye-Fi users at the end of January, features improvements on existing popular Eye-Fi software functionality as well as brand new sharing capabilities. By popular demand: viewing photo & video uploads by date with a nifty calendar and viewing uploaded items in large format. New & improved: republishing items to different sharing sites (eg upload to Flickr, then to Facebook); creating a batch from multiple sources (eg a few Eye-Fi’s items, your photo library, any folder on your hard drive…). The website has little info about the software now, so I’ll be curious in a couple of weeks to see the full feature set.

The Power of Using the Right Media Channel, and Social Networking

Last year as the economy faltered, a lot of people in the integrated advertising and marketing community started rethinking just how important their brand was to their consumer base. Consumers with less money to spend, less access to credit, and less confidence in the U.S. economy, started rethinking when, where, and how they spent their money. The question people in the marketing communications field began to ask in response was simple: “How do I become a brand consumers can’t live without?”

After a year or so of watching consumer actions, what we learned was a very simple and very compelling thing about consumer loyalty: it’s probably not your brand they’re loyal to in the end. While most people think their brands have a loyal following, what they really have are a group of habit-driven consumers. And when a serious shock occurs to that consumer’s economic base, it doesn’t take much to break that established “habit” they have formed with your brand.

So If it’s not the brand consumers are loyal to, then what exactly is it?

We all know and have seen that emotional attachments to brands certainly do exist, but that kind of devout loyalty usually starts with some kind of “shared value” that consumers believe they hold with the brand. A common shared experience with the brand itself.

This holiday season in an intriguing way, Best Buy is putting Twelpforce ( A collective force of Best Buy technology pros offering tech advice in Tweet form )at the very center of its big communications push for the holiday drive period.

What’s interesting is that if we look at data from the 125 companies that have all taken Business Week’s Marketing Leadership Council  “social media maturity diagnostic”, you find out that only 11% of marketer communications planners have integrated social media into their overall communications planning processes.

Most advertisers take the “biggest bang” approach to their media channel planning.  Traditionally they will work backward from the business growth goals and what the volume targets are to plan their campaign targets, and the traditional models tell them how much money they need to dump into broadcast, direct mail, print, promotions etc. to hit those volume targets.  Social media and experiential channels have taken a backseat, at best. But, as we are beginning to find out, the true promise of social media lies in the relationship experiences that a brand can create—and scale for their target consumer. Because of this media planning will look very different in the near future.

If we think about this, planning campaigns shouldn’t work back from growth goals, but instead they should look at what the desired social experience is that we want consumers to have ( ideally with one another ), and set the course around how the brand helps establish that.  People developing social media channels should start by identifying what that critical experience is, and then leverage a broader media experience to play specific roles around, and support that overall social media experience.  by leveraging social media , the role of broadcast media is to help scale that brand experience.

As we start to see signs of an economic turnaround, the idea of brand loyalty is just as important as it did during the economic recession.  If consumers feel more attached to your brand, or a shared value that they believe your brand embodies then you are in a position to spend less on your messaging, and you quite possibly have a larger surface area that allows you to explore new products and services that previously seemed out of reach.

Earlier today, Coca-Cola announced the largest social media campaign in the history of their company, “Expedition 206”. The campaign “will send three 20-somethings to 206 countries and territories where Coca-Cola is sold in 2010. The trio sets off on their 275,000-mile tour from Madrid on Jan. 1, stocked with laptops, video cameras, smartphones and plenty of other gadgetry, in order to document for the masses their search for happiness.”

The entire journey will be tracked on not only the website, but though Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, YouTube, and via mobile devices. According to Coke the challenge was to think about the social and digital media space as a new venue for driving good public relations for the company, and extend the brand presence. Unlike Best Buy and Twelpforce, Coke is extending their reach into the social media channel on multiple fronts. What will be interesting is to see how they expand the “Expedition 206” campaign into traditional media channels over the course of the next year and how both the social media channels and the traditional channels drive traffic to the product and build customer loyalty.

The future of all of this is going to be very interesting over the next few years. Especially as social media giants like Twitter and Facebook grow up, and

Design Friday. The Amazing Bird Photography of John&Fish

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This really isn’t a “Design Friday” post in the sense that I am posting about a design topic. This is a post about these amazing photographs that were taken by John&Fish, a brother and sister team who live and work in Taipei Taiwan. As you can tell their specialty is in bird photography. I wasn’t able to track down much information about them that was in English, so I can’t really tell you anything about the gear they use or their background. According to the profile section on their Flickr stream, John is elder brother, Fish  is his younger sister, they were born in Tainan the ancient capital of Taiwan , and now live in Taipei city. They like photographing birds and spend almost every weekend (since 2005~2009) shooting in and around Taipei. John gives a limited breakdown of what he shoots with. ( Canon 1dsII body, Canon 500mm/F4, Gitzo 1548 tripod, Manfrotto 516 video fluid head. ) No specs on additional lenses, shutter speeds or f-stops. Although it is pretty obvious that they are shooting at a high frame rate with a really shallow depth of field. None of that really matters, because what is important here is the absolutely gorgeous photography. Click the link to see the entire Flickr stream. I think there are over 500 photos they have posted.

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