How media conglomerates are buying up the user experience.
My newest blog on my newest blog.
Facebook recently acquired Oculus Rift, a company spearheading the virtual reality race. Originally a Kickstarter company, Oculus Rift has received a HUGE backlash from the buy.
Facebook has also taken a large hit on their stock prices.
Many large-scale contracts that would have benefited Oculus Rift have been pulled in the wake of the acquisition.
All in all, it has been a rough few days for both companies.
Why It’s Important:
We have seen this kind of acquisition backlash for a few years now, but it seems to be coming to a defined point with the Oculus-Facebook deal.
People are coming to understand the depth of power large media companies have at their disposal. Many Americans are frightened by the access to personal information that Facebook, Google and like entities have at their fingertips.
Oculus Rift gives Facebook the power to mold the ENTIRE user experience around exactly what…
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Yesterday was the annual Amarillo March for Babies, and the last concrete day of my first internship.
Just some facts from the March.
About 3000 people came and we raised over 400,000 dollars (I’m not sure of the exact final total).
It was a beautiful day and everyone had a blast.
We had a bouncy castle, free coffee, a cow being milked, face painting, all of the better things in life.
Awesome right? Now here is the good stuff.
What I learned from March for Babies:
1. Assess every aspect in advance
Now I understand that you cannot account for EVERY little detail. Nor can you anticipate anything that may go wrong, but get what you can down to a science. Figure out where all of your banners are being hung, what area needs how many tables, things of that nature. If you have vendors coming you should clearly define where they will be stationed and relay that information to them as early as possible. Assessing the logistics of an event will save a lot of labor and headache when the time for set-up actually arrives.
Also, it is a good idea to make a map of the layout of the event beforehand. Pass it out to group leaders and effectively delegate work to each group within a defined area. This will help groups stay active and keep a definite role in the set-up of the event. In Non-Profits this can be hard because you are never sure what volunteers will be coming from where. You have to play it by ear at each event, but plan it as much as you can in advance.
2. Verify Labor
Like I talked about in the last paragraph, Non-Profits can have a hard time assessing how much labor they have at their disposal because volunteer help can be spotty at best. People flake, it happens. The key is to make sure that volunteers who say they will come will be accounted for multiple times before the event day. Make sure they know they are needed without seeming to be pushy. Contact them a week before the event and then the night before and verify they will come help. The more accountability they feel, the more likely they will be to show.
I know that sounds manipulative, but it will save you a lot of time in the set-up and tear down of an event if you aren’t having to do it all yourself. I am not saying you have to call every volunteer, but most certainly take good care to ensure large groups that you are counting on to be there will actually show up. It can cause a real pain when they don’t.
3. Contingency Plans
Even with all of that work, sometimes they still won’t show. That is okay, as long as you have a backup plan. If you have core volunteers that will be the backbone of your event, make sure you think of a backup plan in case they cannot or do not show up. These things happen.
The plan may not be great, and it will most likely be way more work than the original, but having that plan will let you avoid being taken by surprise if it were to happen. If 20 people do not show up, have a plan on how to do the same work with 10 people more efficiently. This is simple, but the one time you forget will be the one time you need it.
Also make backup plans for key pieces of equipment to fail on you. This has happened countless times and I am always astounded when people get flustered because of it. Technology will fail you, it is just how it goes. Murphy’s law, whatever bad can happen will happen. As soon as you need that machine it will die. It is just the way of the world. Be ready for it to go out, have a backup. No more sweat, no more headache.
These are just three big things I learned while in the action yesterday. All in all, it was a great experience and I absolutely enjoyed getting to be a part of it. We raised a lot of money for a great cause and I am proud to say I was part of this great organization. Thank you Vicki and Carla for giving me the opportunity to work with you, and thank you March of Dimes for doing what you do.
The world would be a far worse place without you guys.
I read a Wired article earlier today that got me really thinking. It was an interview with Ray Kurzweil, an expert in the field of Artificial Intelligence.
Kurzweil believes that the creation of a robot that feels emotion is not fiction, but instead a near-future possibility.
You should really look at the interview, you will learn a lot: http://www.wired.com/business/2013/04/kurzweil-google-ai/
We have all grown up with science fiction horror stories of how Conscious AIs will one day destroy us all. Terminator is the most common series that depicts this apocalyptic scenario.
The type of intelligence that Kurzweil is envisioning for his work at Google is not so mass murdery. It is a type of program that no longer just searches key-words in your query, but instead picks up on the expression you place within your question. The program will be able to understand what you MEAN when you say something, instead of just analyzing the words for what they are.
This inference of meaning is a monumental step toward true Artificial Intelligence. It is no longer about pre-programmed responses and logical equations. This digital brain will be able to analyze what you say, create a context outside of logical thought, and piece together a response that will fit exactly what you mean to ask.
An extremely simple example would be the Guess What? child’s game. Imagine asking your computer, “Guess what?”, and instead of it trying to create a response from a million things you could mean by asking that, it will automatically understand through its own cognitive process that your are trying to make a joke and will answer with, “Chicken Butt”.
You may think, “Wow Alex, any computer can do that.” Yes they can, but only if they are programmed for that response. This computer will have never been told that joke, but through its own inferences on humor, it will understand that it IS a joke and respond accordingly.
For Google, this would mean they could get you EXACTLY what you are looking for when you search something. You could ask complex questions and receive answers that specifically answer that question without sifting through thousands of pages. It would be able to grab the few pages that address the exact issue you are trying to resolve, just by reading into the contexts of what you wrote.
For all of us bloggers this will exponentially increase our viewership. Instead of our posts being on page 3000 no matter what someone searches, the search engine will understand the viewer wants exactly what we wrote about and will bypass the clutter to bring us to the front page.
I am probably confusing you with all of my examples and stuff, but I think this is incredible. I get all hyper and giddy when I see sci-fi stuff coming to life.
If this is created, it will revolutionize the way we search for information on the internet. Heck, it will drastically speed up the rate at which we can consume information, which is insane because we absorb information faster now than we ever have in the history of human existence.
Kurzweil estimates us having this technology by 2029. Only 13 more years.
Let’s fast forward 20 instead. Imagine the ramifications this will have on robotics technology. Imagine carrying around your cell phone, but instead of having a conversation with a friend, you are having an in-depth conversation with the phone itself.
With the program we are talking about, the machine will arguably be conscious. It will be able to respond to your words as a human would, with context and emotional understanding. If you are sad, it will understand and try to find ways to comfort you. If you get promoted at work, it will find restaurants and ask which friends to invite for the celebration party. All on its own, without being programmed to.
Doesn’t make iRobot seem so far off now huh?
As far as the PR and Advertising industries are concerned, I am worried there will be a battle on our hands when this arrives. Once this amazing technology hits the world, everyone is going to try to be a part of it.
I want to talk about the effect this will have on the industry more, but I will have to do it at a later time when I have more research to support my theories.
For now, if you have any thoughts on this please comment below with them. I love having discussions on topics like this and I love getting other people’s perspectives.