Monthly Archives: May 2013


Look how far we’ve come

I recently watched at TED Talk video that was a little hard to wrap my brain around. The Internet, as used today, is about 7,000 days old.

A little more than 10 years ago, I needed a phone book to look up numbers, a foldable map or atlas to find my way, books to study, a landline phone line to access the Web… Wow! Now, all of those things are available on my smartphone. And not only are they available, they are better. A phone number search can also tell me a person’s address and who their family members and neighbors are. A map app on my phone can give me turn-by-turn directions until I arrive at my destination. And, I can search the Internet…from my phone?

That, and everything else the Internet and digital technology brings us happened in about 7,000 days. So what’s next?

At the recent World Economic Forum in Switzerland, there was much talk about connectivity. CISCO Systems reported that there were about 200 million “things” online in 2000. Now, that number has jumped to 10 BILLION things.

CISCO CEO John Chambers said he thinks just about everything will be connected to the Internet by way of the cloud and mobile computing. One example he gave was how a city’s water system, in the future, can possibly detect a leak, reroute water, and dispatch a repair crew. That’s pretty, for lack of a better word, cool.

It’s even predicted that patients will be able to wear electronic-infused clothing that will zap their vitals back to a hosptial so they can be monitored as outpatients.

And while the possibilities seem to be endless when it comes to what we will be able to do through digital technology and the World Wide Web, some of what has become the most basic in broadcasting and Web use is still fascinating, especially considering where we’ve come from.

Have you seen this guy? Hosting a sing-a-long from outerspace with school kids?


Just an editor’s note. This blog will be on hiatus for a couple of weeks. It’s vacation time.



Danger isn’t in the technology itself

week8ipadHave you heard about the latest online technology? You know, the one that lets kids sext? What about that one where there is bullying going on? How about the one that lead to that kidnapping of that girl after she was stalked by an online predator?

Online dangers for children are real. Let’s get the statistics for that out of the way before talking about the benefits of technology for kids. According to stats from The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, 93 percent of teenagers use the Internet and 55 percent of those have profiles on social networking sites. Twenty-one percent never restrict photo access to strangers and 46 percent never restrict video access. Thirty-four percent of children surveyed said they were exposed to sexual content online and 55 percent of those did have some sort of child protection software installed on the computer they were using.

Even scarier, 34 percent of teens who use the Internet post their real names, addresses and phone numbers online. Forty-five percent were asked for personal information by strangers and 30 percent consider meeting someone they have only met online. Fourteen percent said they ACTUALLY MET a stranger they talked to online.

week8dialupI remember when I first logged on to the Internet. It was 1995 and it was so very exciting. The thought of being able to talk with friends in other places and look up information with a few key works was like something out of a movie. I was one of two students trained at a small schools conference to go back and teach educators and other students how to use the Internet. Can you imagine? Training someone how to use the Internet. That’s unheard of today. We simply know how. Back then, though, you had to place a phone receiver next to a computer part and dial a number to connect. That sound of shhhh-bee-shhh-squaaaaaaaaaa-ding-ding-ding-shhhhhh of dial up is only now heard in “old” movies.

The school librarian istalled a program called Cyber Patrol on the computer that blocked lots of sites that were actually legitimate. I remember thinking, I’m 16. I don’t need an online babysitter. But that wasn’t the truth. Looking back, I was nieve. The libarian was trying to shield students from the same sexual content, predators and scams, that adults try to shield students from in the “real world.” With her guidance, a whole world of possibilities opened up online. It was a bit magical, back then.

week8angrybirdsNow, technolgy is intuitive. Log on once and your laptop, smartphone and iPad remember how to do it the next time. It’s easy to find what you need by the use of apps. Want to watch a video? Hit the YouTube app. Want to play Angry Birds? Find the icon and you are off. Children are able to use touch technology at an early age and that means we should begin talking to children about online safety as soon as they have that access.

With that parental and adult guidance, just as was given to me by the school librarian, technology can be a wonderful thing. Studies have show that technology, including video games, improve motor skills, boost reading skills, and even promote creativity and scholastic motivation. With a few clicks, children can be exposed to polar bears in the arctic, a celebration in Japan, what dinosaurs might have done in their day-to-day lives, take a trip to the moon and much more.

Being fearful of lurking online danger should be no reason to deprive children of technology that can help them learn and grow in ways our parents never imagined for us. There are a few easy things parents can do to keep kids safe online, while allowing for the use of technologies, including the Internet.

  1. Decide where a child can and can’t go on the Internet. We do this in our everyday lives. Adults know where and what is safe for children. Apply the same rules online as you do in real life.
  2. Increase security. We do it for our homes. We should do it on our computers. Block inappropriate content. Use antivirus software. Create multiple user accounts so that children have different access to sites than adults.
  3. Monitor social media. Privacy is important, but keeping children safe is more important. Facebook and Twitter accounts should only be created with permission, and with parents having access to a child’s account.
  4. Talk to kids about online predators. We have the conversations about strangers children might come in contact with on the street, at a friend’s home or anywhere else. Predators hang out where children are. These days, that includes the Internet.

It’s important for children to be able to navigate the online world before they are exposed to it at school. Technology use is increasingly being put into play at schools. The local high school here has issued an iPad to every student. That’s a great responsibility for a child, but also a great opportunity.

Online dangers for children are just as real as real life ones, but that doesn’t mean that children should be kept far from smartphones and iPads. In fact, that’s quite the opposite.

Just like in real life, children need guidance. It’s up to adults to point out dangers and that’s no different when it comes to online technology. When people refer to smartphone applications as gateways to misbehavior, I’m often reminded of the phrase, “Guns don’t kill people. People kill people.” Snapchat didn’t make your kid send a naked photo of themselves to someone else. Your kid did that. With a little adult guidance and monitoring, technology is a valuable tool that is vital to the growth and success of children.

Interested in some of the best educational apps out there for kids? Summer is just around the corner and here are 10 apps – some educational, some fun – that are good for elementary school children. And here’s Mashable’s list of their top 5 kid apps for the week.


Video marketing has to be clever, to the point

 Billboards, television, radio – Oh, my!

Advertisements are everywhere we look. From writing on vehicles, to marketing in elevators and bathrooms, there aren’t many places consumers can go to escape being bombarded by ads. We’ve gone from being exposed to about 500 ads in the 1970s to about 5,000 ads on an average day.

parkingI, like many other people I am sure, have what I call advertising ADD. I don’t usually focus on one thing long enough to actually receive an advertisers message. It seems the goal of advertising execs these days is to fill every space available with some sort of ad. Now, especially in larger cities, we see messages on parking stripes, on stairs, below ground in metros and subways, on taxi toppers, on cars, plastered on buildings, being pulled by airplanes and on mobile billboards.

But, do any of those techniques really work? With so much smacking us broadside each day, do we really pay attention to the ads that have become as common as nondescript buildings we pass by each day?

A couple of years ago, television advertisements became shorter to appeal to our shrinking attention span. Once-popular minute-long ads had already decreased to 30-second and in 2010, 15-second ads took over as the most popular for advertisers. Shorter, 15-second TV commercials increased in use by more than 70 percent over a five year period.

With the invention of items such as Tivo and online ad blockers, consumers can fast forward through and ignore pesky advertisements. Sites such as Hulu create less of a presence for advertisers. Laptops and phones have also contributed to shortened attention spans. Consumers truly do control what they see, when they see it.

Grunge vintage televisionAccording to Kantar Media, about 5 percent of a viewing audience for a 15 second commercial will stop watching. That number increases to 6 percent for 30-second spots and 6.5 percent for minute-long advertisements. And advertisers are taking note, creating new 15-second ads as opposed to editing down already produced 30-second ad. Procter & Gamble doubled the company’s number of 15-second ads to more than 299,000 in 2010 and Walmart increased its 15-second ads to 148,000 in 2010 as compared to about 5,700 in 2005.

That was two years ago. What about now? Since online advertising is an increasingly important branding tool, let’s take a look at those stats.

More than 20 percent of people will change their minds about watching an Internet video if it doesn’t load within five seconds. Seventy-five percent of people change their minds after a 10-second delay. Research by Visible Measures shows that it takes 20 percent of viewers 10 seconds or less to abandon a video that doesn’t hold their attention. By 30 seconds in, a 33 percent of viewers have moved on. Forty-four percent say “goodbye” at 60 seconds and just about 60 percent abandon the video at two minutes.

What do those numbers mean for advertisers? If an online video reached 10 million people, two million saw less than 10 seconds of the probably-expensively produced advertisement. But those numbers also hold true for shorter online videos.

That means, when it comes to video branding, it’s important for advertisers to get to the point quickly.

vineTying social media into video branding, Twitter’s new Vine product forces video makers to creatively get a message across in six seconds. Just as Twitter helped us learn to get our point across in 140 characters or less, Vine uses the same methodology with video.

Even if you aren’t ready to jump on the Vine bandwagon when it comes to sinking money into a different type of video advertising (which you really should consider doing, by the way), there is still much to be learned from the art of condensing an idea in to a six-second spot. Here are some ideas for formulating the perfect video pitch:

  1. Be brief. Think of one idea that you want viewers to know about your brand. Limiting the pitch to one thought will help the viewer retain the message.
  2. Make it quirky. Think of interesting ways to showcase a product in hopes of helping it go viral. The more shares, the more people see your message.
  3. Communicate your difference. What makes your company stand out? Are you organic? Do you donate to a cause? Are you safe for kids?
  4. Make it interactive. Is there a way you can turn your video idea into a contest, or encourage people to share the content for a discount? Or, create a video that asks viewers to create their own and share it on your networking site. Creating an avenue for company, consumer interaction is always a good thing!
  5. Remember, social media messages don’t always have to push your brand. Use clever historical trivia (like Google does with their daily Doodles). Participate with a holiday-related short. Create a video that others will share. That promotes your brand as fun and relevant.
  6. Educate viewers about something new and cool. Maybe there’s a unique way to use your product. Show folks how! Be amazing.

Need some more ideas on clever videos. This site shows some great examples that use the tips above, and there are even more thoughts on how to catch the attention of viewers.

viralAs for Vine, The Gap, NBC, The Humane Society, BuzzFeed, GE, Tropicana and sports companies and teams have already jumped in and are spreading their vine messages everywhere. And it’s easy to track the effectiveness of Vine videos. An app called Simply Measured offers a free analytics tracker to keep tabs on how popular your videos are. The tracking is free for Twitter accounts that have 10,000 or fewer followers.

Keep in mind that 87 percent of marketers in the United States use video for branding purposes and mobile video is expected to make up 66 percent of global mobile data traffic within in the next five years. That’s up 51 percent from 2012. So whether you are using YouTube, Brightcove, Vine or another form of video branding, it’s important to find new and creative ways to keep your audience coming back for more.