Monthly Archives: March 2012

A Day in the Life…

Ever since I’ve started analyzing social media and mobile technology specifically, I’ve wanted to do an analysis of exactly how much I use it in a day.  This isn’t just to talk about myself and how tech savvy I am (this, of course, goes without saying) but really to take note of the impact that these technologies have on how I carry out my day, and how it’s different from the way things used to be.  So I chose last Friday, an action packed day of travel and intrigue…

3:47am “Woke up… fell out of bed… analyzed my sleep patterns for irregularities…”

Wait, what?  So things have changed a bit since 1967 (and I don’t use a comb).  I also don’t wake up to a tinny sounding alarm clock dialed to the local morning radio zoo crew.  Thanks to my Sleep Cycle alarm clock iPhone app, my motions during sleep are monitored and I’m gently woken up at the time during a chosen window when I’m in my lightest sleep cycle.  Seriously.  And I can choose to wake up to any song on my iPhone (Save It for a Rainy Day, by the Jayhawks.  Try it out.)

Not Used: Alarm clock.

5:05am “And looking up, I noticed I was late…”

Not late, exactly, but getting there.  My Flight Tracker app buzzed reminding me that my flight was scheduled to depart in two hours, and I was still in the comfort of my living room.  After confirming with my JetBlue app that there hadn’t been any delays, I found the nearest cab company in Google Places and clicked on the provided phone number.  “In seconds flat”

Not Used: Alarm clock, land line, phone book.

6:00am “I read the news today, oh boy…”

I arrive at the airport and quickly “check in” at the Official JetBlue Terminal on Facebook.  I’ll shamelessly do their marketing for them for a free 100 flyer points.  Safely through security with a half hour until boarding, I turned to Twitter to see if anything newsworthy was happening at this ungodly hour.  Of course, the linked-to story I want to read is a subscription only Wall St. Journal article.  If only there was an app for that and I already had a subscription on the same device (there is, and I do).  But I have the attention span of an infant and quickly glance at the TV.  Why is every airport TV on the planet turned to CNN?  I’d much rather watch ESPN.  On my phone.  So I did.

Not Used: Alarm clock, land line, phone book, newspaper, crappy airport CNN.

8:30am “I’d love to turn you on…”

My phone, that is.  But I can’t because we’re finally ascending after an hour and a half on the tarmac.  That’s OK though, because as I was waiting and playing Chess with Friends with my fiancé, I used the built in chat function to let her know that I’d be late.  Texting is so 2008.  Not nearly social enough.  As we reach cruising altitude I flip on Airplane Mode and fire up the Kindle app for some morning reading.  What’s this?  27 other people have highlighted this paragraph?  I gotta get in on that!  That’s right, even reading a book, by myself, is now social.

Not Used: Alarm clock, land line, phone book, newspaper, crappy airport CNN, pay phone, air phone, books.

 10:00am “Well I just had to laugh…”

as I checked in on Facebook at DC’s Official JetBlue Terminal for another 100 points.  After locating the address for this morning’s job interview on Google Maps I consulted the DC Metro’s app that gives me real-time arrivals on all Metro lines to find the quickest route there.  I arrive plenty early for my 12:00 appointment, relax, and check my live NCAA bracket before going in there and knocking their socks off.

Not Used: Alarm clock, land line, phone book, newspaper, crappy airport CNN, pay phone, air phone, books, metro personnel, maps, outdated bracket sheets from the office pool.

Now this is only half of my day, but I’ll leave things there.  Why?  Because a good job interview calls for a few drinks, and the second half of the day isn’t quite as clear in my memory as the first half.  Anyway, the thing that strikes me most about all of these uses for social media and mobile technology is the number of things that they replace.  Even if I don’t plan ahead, my phone has books, newspapers, itineraries, maps, and multiple methods of communication if things go wrong.  All of these things would have had to be planned and packed ahead of time even 15 years ago.  In the same way that people don’t need to make plans with each other before they go out anymore, we hardly need to plan before we take trips either.  As we’ve discussed in class, maybe it does make us a little more helpless without our devices, but I’ll take it.

And how about the free stuff?!  200 JetBlue points just for showing up.  I’ll admit though, I may have tried a little too hard…

Yes, it's shameless. No, I haven't heard back from @indochino.

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Geocaching: The Social Media Treasure Hunt

We’ve talked a lot about location services in social media, but mostly as it pertains to marketing and commerce.  I’d like to introduce you (if you’re not already familiar) to a location-based social media service that’s a little more pure, a little more just-for-fun: it’s called Geocaching.  Geocaching is basically a worldwide treasure hunt that utilized GPS enabled devices (a smart phone works nicely) and an online interface to communicate to other users and share experiences.  The way it works is that caches–any kind of watertight box really–are hidden in rural areas, urban areas, just about anywhere, and their GPS position is logged into the site.  Then other people can search for nearby caches and leave small items with distinct serial numbers.  When you come across one of these items, you take it with you and log it, so that others will know of its new location.

The fun is that you can do this anywhere, and the search gets you out to new places you otherwise may never have gone.  Another fun aspect of it is just being in the know.  With over 1 million geocaches out there, you’ve definitely walked right by them never knowing they were there.  And geocachers are instructed to keep their search for the cache on the down low, staying out of sight of “muggles” (non-geocachers) who might mess up the cache if they found it, not knowing what it was.

 

My fiancé and I started Geocaching on a trip to Philadelphia, where we found a cache in the city, and on a nature reserve.  Since then, we’ve been caching in Boston, Florida, Spain and even in the Swiss Alps.  You can assign your item a mission or destination, and each cacher will take it as far as they can go, or you can just set it free to roam far and wide.  The Geocoin we left in the Alps has travelled well in the past year plus; we’ve tracked it in Germany, Hungary, and the Greek islands among other places.

Our Geocoin has been moved over 150 times in a year! Germans love this stuff.

 

I’d never really thought of Geocaching as social media before this class, mostly because I associate it with getting outside and being active (not pillars of traditional social media).  But of course it is, and it’s really pretty cool how it uses the online platform to connect people through real world activity.  Not only do people communicate through cache logs, but there is an entire online community that discusses particular caches, trades stories of particularly hard to find caches, or just chat in general.  This is the kind of social media that serves as a rebuttal to critics who would say that social media detracts from real life activity.  Instead of replacing real life experiences, Geocaching makes them possible in a way that they never have been before.

Other examples of this are services like RunKeeper that use GPS to track your runs, bike rides, etc. so that you can share them in the online community, compete with others, or track progress over time.  Nike has a version that allows people to post encouraging comments on Facebook that the runner will hear through their headphones while they’re running.

I'm a good friend.

This trend has every reason to continue as it’s a real advantage of social media in the real world, and since location based services are really in their infancy, it will be exciting to see what the next generation of tech entrepreneurs thinks up for this technology.  What do you think the next step is?  Given the power of GPS in your pocket, how would you like to see social media integrated into your real life activities?

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