Google gets you to direct mail yourself

I just saw this on Life Hacker (catching up with my feed) and thought that it was both cool and brilliant. For the price of an envelope and a stamp, you can get stickers for your keyboard and become a Gmail keyboard-shortcut wiz. And if you’re not already using Gmail, it might be time for you to start to. Anyone who can bring stickers back has the right idea. And anyone who can get you to direct mail yourself gets props.

I used to think I was cool when I was the only one of my grade school friends that knew that the F12 key would bring up the “save as” window on Word. Clearly we all have to step our game up. My expectations for gift bag goodies from conferences are a bit higher after today. Just the other day Jeremiah Owyang (couldn’t find the particular tweet again) tweeted that he wouldn’t be surprised if mini laptops soon became party favors at big conferences. Logo pens won’t cut it next to stickers or lap tops or yo-yos – I’ll still go for the occasional yo-yo.

Facebook Connect could achieve simplicity

After reading articles in The New York Times, Wired and GQ it’s becoming clear that Facebook Connect will transcend and surely be a huge step in the direction of blurring the barriers to entry and access that currently stand in the way of users’ seamless experience with the web. The best by-product of this new development could be, in my opinion, simplicity and what can be achieved when things not only fall into place but when they so in harmony.

Alex French mentioned in his article for GQ – and I agree – that the way Facebook came into our lives was unique in that its users trusted the site and felt safe sharing personal information on it for friends and family to see. Clearly, Facebook has opened up and although it’s not as exclusive as it started out to be, the trust that dictates the way in which people engage and participate still remains. Sure, when the news feed came about legions of people rose against it, but 120 million users are still online and we love it. Can’t get enough of it.

As long as people are willing to share themselves (their true selves for the most part, which is more than MySpace can say for itself) online, Facebook will hold the greatest social database on the web. By harnessing the potential and power of this database, Facebook Connect will not only help by opening up Web sites’ doors so that we can browse and share content easily but it can also be a significant leap towards customizing people’s experiences online, knowing us to help us navigate better, etc. Sure, advertisers will gain some edge in having the ability to target us better but, as a realist, advertising revenue is inevitable; however, some good might result in that I might see an advertisement for penis enlargement if, and only if, I happen to share via my personal profile that I’m looking for or am interested in anything related to that product.

There is so much out there. It indeed does need to connect. Much like the theory of homeostasis and the way in which nature regains balance after a state of entropy, randomness, chaos, complexity … so can we develop and engage in the means that introduce simplicity into the way we exist online.

Google often gets kudos for keeping things simple, in spite of the fact that the collective knowledge of its database and utilities is the epitome of complex. I know… that’s off topic… I just felt like shamelessly plugging it because I loves me my Google.

UPDATE (Dec. 9, 2008) – The day Facebook Connect rolled out, Google Friend Connect followed suit. Nice Google – It’s almost like they read my mind (or that las bit on my post) This article on Mashable did a little bit of comparison and concluded that although Facebook’s service is not as user friendly as Google’s yet (emphasis on yet), it’s advantage is the fact that with Facebook, you have a central place to take data back to.

Again, Facebook’s database of willingly shared information seems to be providing it with a  safe haven as it rolls out services and new developments at it’s own pace, while everywhere else on the web seems to be caught in a frenzy of start-ups and a slightly greater sense of urgency.

Hitting the social media ground running

I believe it’s the way to go.

Today, Sean Wood, media specialist for KGBTexas Public Relations / Advertising, and I made a presentation about social media to our company’s PR team and a few other co-workers who are interested in hearing what we had to, humbly, say about what is quickly developing and changing our industry.

We discussed making connections, networking, participating, experimenting, applications, opportunities, challenges, privacy, commenting and whether or not to let the doors of two-way communication swing wide open, which our very own account executive and publications manager, Melanie Thompson, blogged about today as well. The question is – what now?

Now we hit the ground running. With research under our belts, knowledge about who we want to reach out to, who we want to serve and once we sit down to discuss what we want to accomplish initially and the strategies that will get us there… we are going to, in the words of Sean himself, “unleash the beast within.”

Much like all other aspects of life, planning is necessary, strategy is required, tactics are a must, however, at the end of the day, all the planning in the world isn’t enough to do away with the unknown that lurks around every corner. The best we can do is make sure that we are ready to not only face it but make friends with it. As I mentioned in my previous post – the key is evolving. And not only is it key, it’s what makes this fun.

*Follow Sean, Melanie and KGBTexas on Twitter.

Evolution.

Today I tried TweetDeck and went back to Twhirling almost immediately. I could tell right off the bat that the simplicity and basic functions of Twhirl were less threatening to my productivity at work and life in general, thus I opted to opt right out of Tweedeck (no offense).

My feed gets a massive dose of blogs daily that talk about the latest applications, sites, updates and online tools available to all web users, which as of last week include even my grandmother in Quito, Ecuador, the unchallenged epitome of the phrase “out of the loop”… or so I thought. And yet I don’t see many blogs that talk about us – the web users. It seems to me that we have arrived at a new phase of human evolution. We have adapted in order to use the resources available to us but with a new twist – we also happen to be the creators of these new resources. We have changed the very ecosystem we live in and slowly but surely, by general consensus we have made things like Twitter, Facebook, blogs, Google search, Digging, bookmarking, sharing, etc. essential to our personal and professional functions.

We have posed ourselves with the challenge of evolving and we are all doing so. Ask my grandma.

Things like Twitter, Google, etc. are almost second nature to my generation and it looks like it’s only a matter of time and further evolution until they are concepts that are innately familiar to us.

The interesting thing is that many – or should I say ALL – of these sites are in constant evolution as well. They adapt according to our needs and then we tweak them in return. It’s the best vicious circle I’ve ever known of and have had the chance to get sucked into.

What about survival of the fittest? Am I out because I can’t Tweetdeck? Do my blog and Facebook profile keep me in the game? The beauty of it all is that collaboration and participation still have degrees. But we certainly need to react to the fact that the web is evolving the world as the world evolves the web. Our institutions need to adapt as do our industries and ourselves.

How fast? In which way? … that is the evolving dilemma.

Overwhelmed by Hope and Change

As of Tuesday, November 4, 2008 the country has been in an uproar. And with good reason.

I would have loved to blog the second the news were announced and president-elect Barack Obama made his acceptance speech in Chicago but the moment and the days that have followed have been overwhelming.
By now you have probably read or heard about everything that has surfaced online, on TV and in print in reference to Obama’s victory. Already you can see how much this man has galvanized the country into caring and becoming proactive in whatever their realm of interest or expertise is.
PR blogs are talking about how Obama won the election – in a nutshell, besides being a talented orator that could speak to the issues and appeal to the intellect of the many that inhabit and want to see change in this nation, he reached out to first-time voters via the new platforms and media which they use to share ideas and communicate about themselves to peers all over the world. In Obama’s words, these voted “rejected the myth of their generation’s apathy” and it was mainly David Plouffe and the team behind his brilliant campaign that helped to make that happen. The strategies behind the Obama victory will be the topic of many books, blogs and studies for years to come.
The account of Obama’s victory on picture blogs and sites is quite touching. I am a very visual person – seeing Obama speak at Grant Park was incredibly moving, every second of it was history in the making and with every word he was changing the world. As I watch pictures of the campaign trail and Election Day, I can literally SEE just how much strength and purpose is guiding this man and will continue to do so over the years of his term in office.
Mentions of Obama are ubiquitous. On the BET Hip Hop Awards Salt n’ Peppa dedicated “Whatta Man” to him and Michelle Obama – they even changed the lyrics and made the song an all-around endorsement. The Daily Show and Colbert Report have already begun to follow the transition as it takes place in a swift and smooth manner. People have uploaded YouTube videos to extend their congratualations, express their hope and share footage of the celebrations that took place around the many corners of the world Bloggers are taking a look back at the campaign and forward at what Obama will bring to their particular spheres of interest. Internatioanl newspapers have printed articles praising the events of Election Day. There is word of hope on Twitter, Facebook, MySpace … my feeds have gone wild…
It all sums up to this – with his campaign and now with his election, Obama successfully managed to transcend every aspect of people’s lives. And the key to everything is that it happened with our full consent – he resonates with people in a way that is quite unprecedented and the levels of excitement and people’s willingness to continue to be spoken to and be proactive in return couldn’t be higher.

Leading social media experts and the general public alike are anxious to see how the initiatives of Obama’s campaign translate into new public offices dedicated to keep the links of communication between the administration and the people open. Obama’s victory will bring change the White House that goes beyond the usal to-dos that president’s must deal with. I think that the power of the people will truly see itself harnessed and put to efficient, effective use… and the thrill of living in these times is nearly beyond what I can handle.

Here’s to HOPE!