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February 2008

links for 2008-02-22

the tv of tomorrow : 1953 (w/ video)

Olde_tv Yesterday's absurdity often becomes today's reality. 

In 1953 Tex Avery created a cartoon around the future of television (see below).  While much of this cartoon was meant as satire, a surprising amount of this content has come to fruition.

Consider the list below.  The primary bullets are points made in 1953.  The secondary bullets reflect the view from 2008.

  • TVs embedded on kitchen appliances.
    • Speculation around "the connected home"
  • Home's built around TVs
    • Computers are networked around homes
  • One simple knob controls your TV
    • One simple scroll wheel controls your iPod
  • Designers face issues of complexity in "simple" interfaces
    • Have you used a media center remote?
  • TVs that are tailored to user preferences
    • Differentiated portable media players with larger/smaller sizes and functions
  • TVs that can fix themselves
    • Firmware updates and remote assistance
  • Guests and friends who think they can tune your picture to perfection
    • Guests and friends who think they can figure out your 7 remotes
  • A nice TV set with a ridiculously large and ugly external antenna.
    • Beautifully simplistic flat screens with miles of ugly wires
  • A TV that serves as the fourth member of your card game
    • Social gaming
  • A set that addresses the privacy issues associated with video chat
    • Nowadays we call it the "video off" button
  • A set that disposes of annoying commercials
    • We call it Tivo
  • Too many channels, nothing to watch compelling
    • Sounds like last night.
  • TV and the movies get a little too similar
    • And that's another reason why I will never watch Terminator: The Sarach Connor Chronicles
  • Multitasking viewers under perform at their primary task
    • See Greg V's post here.
  • Fishing with a fishing rod via a TV set
    • One word: Wii
  • Gambling through your TV
    • Online gambling
  • With all the diversity, technology is worthless without compelling content
    • Wow.

Video Below

Elmo Live : the evolution of a toy

OK, here's my confession.  I am a big fan of everyone's favorite furry little monster, Elmo.  Not only is he incredibly cute, but he's incredibly well marketed, and yes, innovative.

I had an Elmo TMX while it was completely unavailable (it was a gift).  It was probably one of the coolest toys I've ever seen.  And the envy factor from other friends (including adults!) was huge. Fisher Price's Elmo Premium lines have become the Apple of the toy market.  Buckets of hype drive incredible demand while low supplies drive incredible desire.

Last night, I came across a video of the new Elmo (see below) - featured at the NY Toy Show.  This Blows My Mind.  It's cute, it's cuddly, it has personality, and it is going to be all over popular media when it is released.  I don't want to know how much this is going to cost, all I can tell you is that the lines are going to be insane, and parents will be gladly emptying their wallets. 

On that note, my 7 month old son is going to be growing up with a different expectation of his toys.  I expected GIJoe to have accessories, and I expected his arms and legs to randomly pop off.  My son is going to expect his toys to have an active personality.  Elmo is bringing robotics to a new generation. 

Elmo is becoming everything that my good old Teddy Ruxpin should have become.

Check out the video below (many more videos here):

Now compare that to Teddy Ruxpin (video below)

ecosystems of anonymity - truth in the digital divide

Anonymity In the words of a famous television character, "Everybody lies".

How would we market differently if were to operate in an ecosystem where everybody did in fact, lie?

Disclaimer: I don't believe that we lie all that pervasively on a regular basis.  As a society, we generally interact with a fair degree of decency, fairness and mutual understanding/respect. 

Yet when when there is no accountability, when there is no recourse, when we are operating from behind the shadows of our computers, everything changes. 

Men often present as women in Second Life.  YouTube comments seem to be authored almost entirely by the mentally unstable.  MySpacers are "friends" with complete strangers.  And all too often, social leaders (both religious and political) are exposed for leading dual lives online.

In a medium where users can become, act, or experience anything their hearts desire, it is understandable that many will experiment with alternatives/fantasys to their real-world lives.  The appeal of the escape into the anonymity of digital media is often quite strong.

Which raises the question, how does this alternative reality impact our "real" reality?  How should marketers approach the digital divide? 

  • How do brand experiences within an alternative reality impact the user perception of the brand once they migrate back into the "real" world?
    • Towards that end, if users ARE in fact impacted by the experiences and interactions they have while in operating in a virtual fantasy (as most digital marketers would like to believe), wouldn't it stand to reason that spouses experimenting in virtual extra-martial experimentation are destroying their real world marriages? 
    • And wouldn't it stand to reason that teens experimenting with virtual violence would somehow carry this experience into the real world in a lasting, behavioral manner? 
    • Where do we draw the line regarding fantasy transferal into reality?
  • Should marketers change their strategies and tactics to address the nature of the user identity, persona and modality within a given platform?
  • How does this effect social media marketing overall?
  • How does this effect social media listening? 
    • Do we assume that all/most conversations are relevant and real reflections on real world sentiment and behavior?
    • Do we assume that everyone presenting as male/female is male/female?
    • Do we present a larger margin of error based on these variables
      • How can we calculate the size of this margin?
  • Most importantly, what new opportunities does this world of fantasy and anonymity open for marketers beyond their brand traditional offerings?

form vs. function in interactive video

Ctv Interactive/clickable video sounds great... in theory.

Advertisers dream of the day when their products will clickable in-stream.  As a user, I would enjoy the ability to purchase background music or a film soundtracks from within the video viewing experience.

As an experience designer, how would you layer in this interaction?  How would you notify consumers of a clickable asset without intruding on the user experience?  When does notification become interruption?  When does interruption become invasive?

I don't have an answer, but I'd love to hear your thoughts. 

Here are a few examples of what I've seen to date:

  • puts floating target beacons over the clickable elements within a video.
  • (kudos to Scott for sharing) allows users to turn on and off calls to action (floating targets).
  • Joost inserts semi-relevant widget overlays over video.
  • HoneyShed (a client) puts calls to action for the "clickable" items on a sidebar.

Which is the best solution?  I really don't know.  But I have a feeling that we are not yet where we're going to be.