ConnectMe Blog, Now with Video Comments powered by Disqus

Seesmic_logoWe've just added video comments.

Some people may prefer to fire off a quick video rather than typing out a response. While my personal preference is to type out comments (for better or worse), I do see tremendous value in encouraging people to participate in whatever way they feel comfortable.

As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words. Robert Scoble uses these examples: "...(it's useful) when we have something visual to talk about: Want to see what my kitchen looks like? Want to learn how to cook a meal? Want to see the injury my kid sustained and you're a remote doctor? Heck, wanna see what my kid looks like right now? How about can I show you my new cell phone's UI? Want to buy my car based on only my text? How about that piece of art hanging on my wall?"

Thanks, Seesmic and Disqus!

When Getting Away From It All is the Ultimate Amenity

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The W Hotel San Francisco just installed a couple of MetroNaps EnergyPods, as twittered by Jeremiah Owyang earlier this morning.

These things are great. You get in, and the EnergyPod shields you from all of the ambient noise that assault our senses. (I wonder how long it will be before someone tries to add video commercials.)

The guests at the W are heavily skewed towards business and conventiongoers. Compare this to the Crowne Plaza Sleep Advantage program, which sounds like the same type of bedding as say, The Heavenly Bed plus an audio CD. As I've blogged before, bedding has become not only the most competitive front in the hotel industry, but it has signalled the hotel's ascendancy as a premiere sampling medium.

Now that hotel guests have started to sample this experience, how long before it finds itself in a spa near you?

Comfy Shoe? Or the Next Media Giant? Inside Crocs 'Cities By Foot'

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Does advertising work?

Not when every consumer is overwhelmed by magazines and images that all pretty much look the same. So, to cut through the clutter, Crocs' director of marketing Ed Wuensch set out to engage their consumers by offering a service, not an ad. They just launched "Cities By Foot", which was designed and managed by Denver agency Red Robot. One of the most interesting things is that the site features some 70 videos of different destinations, all two to three minutes long, and all owned by Red Robot and licensed to Crocs.

(It kind of reminds me of how the first soap operas were paid for by Proctor and Gamble, Colgate-Palmolive and Unilever...but ended being the basis for powerful television empires that we know and love today. By the time they figured out the opportunity they had missed by not taking an equity stake -- well, it was too late.)

To Get Insider Knowledge in NYC, Ask A Local

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While catching up on what NYC & Company had been up to in between my first and last post on them, I ran into this campaign.

Absolutely brilliant.

When you're traveling, you want the places that only long-time residents know about. You want to know where the good stuff is.

I think there is a perception that destinations are gaming their own reviews. Rightly or wrongly, to get this kind of a recommendation -- and to be able to link to more information -- seems more authoritative.

Data Portability Workgroup vs The Real World, Round 2

Dataportability If you post on MySpace or Facebook, does that mean you automatically waive your presumption of privacy, and therefore an easy target for defamation?

John Battelle and All Facebook take Nick Denton of Gawker to task for writing a piece using information culled from a Facebook profile. While it may be easy for some to dismiss this as just another story about yet another rich girl, I have to believe that Emily Brill feels tremendously violated. A friend of mine was recently approached by someone she didn't know, but seemed to know everything about her. It turns out he had scraped her MySpace page: certainly not a crime, but definitely creepy.

It echoes the story a couple years back of how Paris Hilton's Sidekick got hacked and her private information suddenly become not so private. In all of these cases, the individual had a presumption of privacy that was violated in a novel way by a third party.

It's interesting that this example is coming up just as the Data Portability Workgroup is revving up. As a member of the Policy Blueprint action group, I'm less concerned about tedious tasks like repeatedly adding friends and more concerned about what happens when emerging notions of data portability get hijacked by a critic, a criminal, or worse.

I'm interested in your thoughts. What should the "proper" response be if your personal data were to be used in a way that you -- not Facebook, not MySpace, but you -- thought was inappropriate?

See Also: DataPortability updates on Techmeme

AreYouHere? How Cameraphones Enhance Tourism

Areyouhere Hotels know that kids often make the decisions on where to go. (The divorce rate might be contributing to this, since the mother and father will often take their kids on separate trips.) Hotels often struggle to find things for kids to do that don't involve staying in the room and playing videogames.

Interactive games using kids' mobile phones might be one solution.

For example, Venice, Italy just launched AreYouHere?, where visitors take pictures of people they meet while visiting the fabled city. Those photos are joined together into a personalized postcard, which will be sent to the visitor at home. These mailing programs provides a terrific way to memorialize the experience without requiring a lot of work on the part of the city.

Here in Colorado, Loveland receives more than 200,000 Valentines annually from all 50 states and more than 100 countries. Senior citizen volunteers do the hand-stamping of the Cupid cachet and love verse.

We've begun developing similar cameraphone activities for hotels and the beverage industry. A group of golfers visiting a hotel, could have photos from their weekend posted to a photoblog sponsored by the hotel. The hotel then provides the guest with additional options: turning a photo into a mug or other premium that helps celebrate the shared experience.

The Importance of Celebrating Service Incidents

Behospitable USAToday blogs on the launch of Hilton's behospitable.com web site, which uses rich media as a way to tell stories about people who have gone above and beyond the call of duty to resolve traveler crises. The site's content was modelled after founder Conrad Hilton, author of Be My Guest.

The site makes it simple for anyone to record an act of kindness they've done, seen or received. The site celebrates generous acts from fellow travelers and hotel employees.

Satisfaction with resolution is one of the most important drivers of overall guest satisfaction and intent to return. However, it is difficult to train employees to solve for the real problems, as opposed to dealing with the symptoms of the problem.

Sites like this provide hotels with a platform to reward employee initiative with additional ego rewards. Look for these sites to evolve into wikis, enabling employees scattered across geographies to be able to share information with similar hotel types, using data mining techniques to extinguish service "brush fires" before they have a chance to become major problems.

The Next Big Thing: The Mobile Phone as a Video Set Top Box

PortablewifiDavid Pogue reviews portable WiFi boxes from Kyocera, Junxion and Top Global -- devices that use the PC laptop card provided by a cellular carrier like  VerizonSprint or Cingular to provide wireless service to PCs anywhere there is cellular service, at DSL speeds (400 to 700 kilobits a second).

The Kyocera box will even let you connect with an EVDO cellphone, such as the Samsung A890 or  Audiovox 8940, with a USB cable. The phone becomes a sort of Internet antenna for the router.

Executives of the new News Corporation "startup" Mobizzo, or the mobile initiatives for Viacom or Time Warner might want to make note of this development. Right now, all of the assumptions are based on mobile video only being displayed on the mobile phone itself. What happens when the phone becomes like a set-top box, and is able to "sling" video (and other multimedia content) from the cell networks to any video screen in a two hundred foot radius?

The carriers, especially Verizon, don't like this development: "Broadband access is designed for individual customers. When customers use unauthorized devices to share the service, they are in violation of their service agreements," according to Brenda Raney, a Verizon Wireless spokeswoman. Verizon had only recently changed their policy, now allowing their subscribers using the LG VX9800, Motorola RAZR V3c,  Motorola E815,  and LG VX8100 mobile phones as high-speed modems for their laptops.

History is repeating itself: When I was with @Home, our financial projections were largely based on charging $40 to $60 per computer, much as we would charge subscribers for extra set-top boxes. While MSOs lost some revenue from the shared connections in the short term, the opportunities from WiFi enabled services like VOIP, combined with superior economics (no truck rolls for adding the new services), have more than made up for the difference.

Link: David Pogue review in New York Times (registration required)

MPEG-LA Redux: The New RFID Consortium

Mpegla_2Good news for retailers and other RFID watchers: a group of 20 RFID leaders have announced their intention to form an intellectual property (IP) licensing consortium, based on the highly effective MPEG LA, which I've noted has been highly effective in negotiating with both the mobile phone industry and Apple's iTunes effort.

Signatories include Alien Technology, Applied Wireless Identification Group; Avery Dennison; Moore Wallace; Symbol Technologies; ThingMagic, Inc.; Tyco Fire & Security; and Zebra Technologies. Intermec Corp., one of the largest holders of RFID intellectual property is holding out in hopes of maximizing the value of a number of important core patents it holds.

In the meantime, MPEG LA keeps on rolling, having just acquired further intellectual property from European firms QOL, V.T.V. NV and kdg Mediatech. As globalisation spreads, MPEG LA's portfolio approach provides both commercial opportunities and control mechanisms. Currently MPEG LA manages MPEG-2, MPEG-4 (the software behind iTunes), DVB-T (important for the FCC-mandated switch to digital television in 2009) and also DVB-H (video for mobile phones and other handheld devices).

Link: Forrester Research "Evaluating RFID Middleware" (registration required)

Lance Armstrong Does An Elway Exit

Lance Armstrong, unofficial American cultural ambassador and potential future governor of the state of Texas, won his seventh and final Tour de France (registration required). His victory last year tied the performance of previous greats like Jacques Anquetil, a Frenchman; Eddy Merckx, a Belgian; Bernard "The Badger" Hinault, another Frenchman; and Miguel Indurain, a Spaniard. But by adding a seventh victory, Armstrong has done what few athletes have done. "Elway Exit" apparently means "one who leaves at the top of his/her game". (It has absolutely nothing to do with the number '7' - which is coincidentally both the number of Armstrong Tour de France victories and the number of former Denver Broncos quarterback John Elway.)

I didn't coin the term - credit goes to Daniel Ritchie, former chancellor of the University of Denver, who was the first to use the term "Elway Exit" in an interview which appeared in the June 27 Denver Post. Maybe Jim Saccomano, Denver Broncos media relations guru, or Kathy Hatch, longtime Elway assistant, might be helpful in determining the term's origins. After all, a media- and sports-obsessed blogosphere continually adds new words to the zeitgeist. "Blog"? "Podcast"? Why not look to sports for other highly descriptive terms? Like ...

Camby v. To reach things at will – grabbing some, swatting others away. As in, "You ever see Clinton work a cocktail party? He could Camby like nobody's business." (Marcus Camby, Denver Nuggets)

Ginobili adj. Dexterous, deft, versatile. As in, "Jeffrey Wright's performance in 'Angels in America' was perhaps the most Ginobili turn by any working actor in the last 10 years." (Manu Ginobili, San Antonio Spurs)

Posey v. To vanish off the face of the earth. As in, "Alice doesn't live here anymore; she Posied." (James Posey, Memphis Grizzlies)

Thanks, ESPN!!

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