Ode to the Smartphone… Sort of

The fourth post in our summer-intern blog series was authored by Samantha Hauser from Arizona State University. Posts by Forrest Hanson, Meaghan Davison and Kristen Marchus can be found here, here and here, respectively. Have at it, Samantha!

– Bri and Dave

My Blackberry and I have been together for about six months, and already I can’t imagine life without it. We do everything together: eat, sleep, work, watch TV, hang out with friends, you name it. When I’m lost, my smartphone is my compass. When I’m hungry, my phone finds the nearest restaurants and kindly sorts them by price, cuisine or customer ratings. My phone even helps me manage my workout routines and keep track of my calorie intake. But most of all, my smartphone has my back with social media. Nobody touches my Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Foursquare, Skype or Gmail accounts without my phone finding out about it… And I mean nobody.

My phone works hard around the clock to keep me up-to-date with what’s going on in my little cyber universe, blinking, beeping and buzzing every time it sees some action. But lately I’ve been finding that I’m just as much a slave to my phone as it is to me. Each blink, beep and buzz is like a little teaser, begging for my attention. And the more it blinks, the more curious I become. Did my professor finally post the midterm grades? Did my boyfriend just text me? Maybe it was just my roommate responding to my wall post. It doesn’t take long for the uncertainty to overwhelm me, and I have to give in and pick up my phone.

Recently, I’ve had to consciously keep myself from rushing to check every notification my phone gives me. It’s not always appropriate to be staring at your phone, and I have to remind myself during these types of situations that I can check my phone as soon as a more appropriate opportunity presents itself. Otherwise, I end up responding to e-mails at the dinner table and checking Facebook in the shower.

But it’s not just my own internal pressure to stay connected that leads me into a state of mental anguish every time my phone’s little red light starts blinking. There’s an increasing pressure from the outside world to be connected and available 24/7. If I don’t answer a text message right away, I get another in five minutes that just says, “???” If I don’t respond to an e-mail within a few hours, I get a text asking, “Hey did you get my e-mail?”

Now I don’t claim to be an expert on corporate culture, but I know these concepts translate into the professional world as well. And with all of this pressure to stay connected coming from both work and home (often through the same laptops, phones and networks), I wonder if it will ever become too much.

The bottom line is that while being connected 24/7 is fun, it’s also exhausting. With every futuristic new tool my smartphone offers me, my life gets a little more complicated. At the moment, this constant flow of information into the palm of my hand is new and fun and exciting, but I sometimes wonder if — and when — the novelty will wear off.

What do you think? Will there ever come a day when we all throw in the towel and jump back on the Paleolithic bandwagon? Or will we always be slaves to the newest technological wonders that developers throw our way?

Related articles:

Ryan Seacrest is addicted to his Blackberry, too! Here he talks about it with Larry King:

– Samantha

The Sunday Newspaper

The third post in our summer-intern blog series was authored by Kristen Marchus from Gonzaga University. Posts by Forrest Hanson and Meaghan Davison can be found here and here, respectively. You’re up, Kristen!

– Bri and Dave

I am convinced my love of the newspaper and current events began at a young age.  When I was growing up, one of my favorite parts of the weekend was reading the Sunday newspaper.  At first, I would skim the actual newspaper and then move on to my favorite part, the Sunday advertisements.  I loved looking at all of them, especially Target, Mervyn’s, Best Buy and the coupon specials.  Eventually as I grew older, I spent more time reading about current events and less time on the weekly ads, advice columns and horoscopes.

I have always loved the newspaper, but I became a certified “news junkie” during college.  I am a recent graduate of Gonzaga University, a private Jesuit university located in Spokane, Washington.  It has a small, beautiful campus and a very well known basketball team, but none of these things were my favorite part of my college campus.  My favorite part of Gonzaga was the free New York Times and Spokesman-Review newspapers for students.

Throughout college, I would read the free New York Times newspaper daily.  I would go into my classrooms early to sit and read.  When other students arrived for class, some would ask me, “Do you have to read the newspaper for a class?”  I don’t think I ever met another student who took full advantage of the free newspapers or who understood my personal interest in reading the news.  Sadly, almost every day stacks of outdated newspapers were recycled.

I believe my love for current events and the news was one of the many reasons I switched from studying business to a public relations major late in my sophomore year.  The more upper-division public relations classes I took, the more certain I became public relations was the field I wanted to pursue.  And after completing multiple internships, it has become obvious that a huge part of a public relations practitioner’s job involves reading and scanning the news for client, competitor and industry news.

Over the last couple of years, my news habits have migrated from the daily newspaper to the Internet and my iPhone.  I am a big fan of the free New York Times app, but also follow local news through the San Francisco Chronicle and Contra Costa Times websites.  But since graduating and moving back to the Bay Area, I have felt a void, as I no longer have access to the free newspapers.  On Sunday mornings, I do not like eating breakfast in front of my computer and checking out the weekly Target sales via the Internet.  I really miss having a physical newspaper in front of me.

That is why contrary to all the reports of newspaper circulation and sales dropping, I just ordered home delivery of The San Francisco Chronicle.  Newspaper and magazine circulation has been in decline for many years, while the popularity of the Internet and especially the iPhone and iPad apps have increased tremendously.  I am very interested to see how magazines and newspapers use these mobile devices to help restore circulation.  I am also certain that my now free NYT app, will not be free much longer.

Call me old fashioned, but I can’t imagine getting all my news via the Internet, Twitter and Facebook.  Don’t get me wrong, I also consider myself a fanatic of social media. While I am positive social media and smart phones are changing the way we connect with people, shop and learn about emergency situations, I also know that I will always love reading the actual newspaper.  This means tolerating the black ink on my fingers, going outside to get my own newspaper and dealing with wet newspapers in the winter, but for me it is totally worth it.

– Kristen

I’m Mark Zuckerberg and you’re not

Is Facebook the biggest modern business phenomena?  Look at the social network’s growth:

  • 2006 – 9 million users
  • 2007- 40 million users
  • 2010 – 400 million users

And that 2010 number is the last one announced.  David Kirkpatrick, author of ‘The Facebook Effect’ says it’s probably 500 million by now, and he’s predicting 1 billion users by the end of 2011.

Can’t you hear Dr. Evil? One Billion Users…..

There’s been a lot of coverage lately on the most recent outcry over privacy, with charges that Facebook has evil control over your personal data.  But the cold hard fact is that with those numbers, it’s really a tiny percentage of Facebook users that are at all concerned.  Inside Facebook, they look back at the huge brouhaha when the Newsfeed came out, and it’s now the most popular feature.

Speaking at a recent Churchill Club breakfast in Silicon Valley, Kirkpatrick spent a fair amount of time talking about (and often defending) Facebook’s continuing strategy of building a platform based on genuine identity, and all the marketable information that comes with that mission.  Kirkpatrick was interviewed by Kara Swisher of AllThingsD, who had Zuckerberg hiding behind his hoodie at the recent D conference.

Continue reading

Zuckerberg: We’re going to serve 1 billion like buttons on the Web

At Facebook’s F8 conference, Mark Zuckerberg announced ways he wants to make the Web more like heaven. One of these ways is getting Facebook “like” buttons all over the Web. I “like” it. I also request some “unlike” buttons, just because sometimes I don’t.

Zuckerberg on stage, from VentureBeat

Printing from the Cloud – Google says “Yes We Can”

"Our goal is to build a printing experience that enables any app (web, desktop, or mobile) on any device to print to any printer anywhere in the world."

Google announced that it’s close to devising a plan to print from the cloud. The reason Google wants to do this? Because the company is building tools to make all your devices “stateless,” that is, with all the information hosted on their servers and sent to your device as needed. One of the hurdles to this dream, “in the cloud” existence has been printer drivers. If you aren’t installing anything on your physical device, how does your device communicate with the printer? Google wants to take on the role of translator. When you want to print something, it will get sent straight from the cloud to the printer. Nothing to install, just walk to the printer and grab your double-sided, single-spaced, recycled-paper document ;).

I like where this is going — I’ve reached a point where I keep most of my personal documents online and am always jumping from computer to computer…work, home, boyfriend’s computers. In this scenario, I could hit “print” from any of these places and my world would keep on turning.

–Sharon Howell

Conan’s brilliantly simple Facebook strategy

Brian Stelter has a great piece in the New York Times today on Conan O’Brien’s web strategy.  I was particularly impressed with his approach to Facebook:

Mr. O’Brien, for instance, has almost a million fans amassed on the “I’m With Coco” Facebook group, which formed during his feud with NBC and is controlled by fans. Rather than fully taking over the group, as they considered doing, Mr. O’Brien’s employees simply keep in touch with the pages’ operators and occasionally add links. Still, Mr. O’Brien’s official Web site encourages visitors to become fans of the group. Sometimes, it seems, it is better to embrace an existing online audience than to try to create a new one.

Well said, Mr. Stelter.  And well done, Coco.  Giving up control is understandably an uncomfortable idea for a lot of brands.  But the truth is that you never really had full control in the first place, so why not embrace and support the legions of fans who are already out there championing your cause?

Mike Pilarz

Google Buzz: Pro, Con and Interesting Articles

Since Google Buzz launched Feb. 9, it has garnered more than 9 million posts and comments, meaning there are over 160,000 posts and comments per hour. But is Google Buzz helpful? Here are some of my thoughts:

Pro:

  • Measurement: Outlets like TechCrunch and Mashable have added Google Buzz buttons, letting readers share stories to Buzz. What I’ve always liked about Mashable and TechCrunch is their Retweet button which displays the number of times the story has been retweeted. Similarly, what I particularly like about outlets tacking on Google Buzz buttons is that I can see how many times it’s been “buzzed,” enabling me to gauge how popular a story is.

Con:

  • Privacy: Many publications have articles out already detailing the privacy concerns of Google Buzz. For instance, TechCrunch’s Erick Schonfeld detailed how he accidentally exposed MG Siegler’s private email address to the 231 people following Schonfeld who didn’t have Siegler in their contacts to begin with.

Some Interesting Articles: