Social Media

Social Media, CrowdSourcing, Sharing Economies and User-generated Content

An Opportunity Missed: The Olympics-as-a-Platform

Article first published as An Opportunity Missed: The Olympics-as-a-Platform on Technorati. Embedded video of “Rethink Possible” added in this blog post.

The Summer Olympics are very special. Every four years, for over two weeks, people all over the world (even those who are not normally sports fans) spend hours every day engrossed in the innermost details of dozens of sports—at home, at work, at school and at play.

However, in 2012 the IOC had opportunities never seen in any prior Summer Olympics…

olympic_open_data_280pxThis year was not just the first Summer Olympics since social media, multi-media mobile phones, and smart phone (and tablet) apps have become the ubiquitous means that over a billion people use to find and share information, opinion, photos and video globally—and instantly. It was also the first Summer Olympics since the rise in use of Open Data Platforms and Apps Competitions to tap the innovation of thousands of people to create better ways to access information (without adding the cost and complexity of hiring thousands of designers, developers and testers).

The IOC could have taken advantage of this by doing four things:

If the IOC had done this they could have created the biggest, most exciting Open Data and App competition we have ever seen. Not only would this have tapped into the innovation of tens of thousands of developers, it would have harnessed competition between teams who wanted to highlight the technology strength of their countries, their love of their country’s history and culture, and their passion for the athletes representing them in their favorite sports.

Imagine what kind of Apps this global technology could have created:

  • Apps written by ex-gymnasts that combined athlete bios and explanations of events and rules with (official and fan) video of preliminary rounds and the World Championships. Apps that even let the audience score what they saw in real-time.
  • Apps combining location-based data with captured photos and video along the entire 26-mile, 385-year course of the marathon, letting you play back key parts of the race, see every part of the course at once, and cheer on runners via Facebook and Twitter
  • Fantasy Olympic Team apps that let you assemble your own dream team for events and compete with your friends—or globally in the Olympic spirit
  • Training gamification apps that let you record and visually display your running and swimming times (like Nike’s training apps) to understand in new ways the tremendous the speed, strength and endurance of Olympians


AT&T’s Rethink Possible Ad: Imagine if the swimmer did not have to write down the new record (and instead an App logged his times and showed them again every record Olympic Record—and every qualifying round—back to 1896)

Apps like these would have made these Olympics more interactive and participatory than any in history. While we did not get this in 2012, I am keeping my fingers crossed for a 2014 Sochi Winter Apps Competition, and perhaps an even 2016 Rio Summer Apps competition.

Rebel Mouse Makes It Easier for Others to Understand You

Article first published as Rebel Mouse Makes It Easier for Others to Understand You on Technorati.

Last week Paul Berry, former CTO of the Huffington Post, launched his new Rebel Mouse social aggregation service. My first reaction was, “Oh great! Just what I need, another social media service.” However, as I like to keep abreast on new technologies and platforms can change how we work and live, I thought I would check it out.

I was pleasantly surprised by what I found.

A Bit of an Epiphany

I wasn’t surprised by Rebel Mouse’s feature set (although it is quite rich: not only can you aggregate social streams, you can add posts, invite contributors, and analyze all of your traffic—giving you a new blogging and publication option beyond Tumblr, WordPress and SquareSpace). What I was surprised by was a more visceral reaction:

Rebel Mouse took my social media stream and made it much easier to grok.

One Dimension Is No Longer Enough

Twitter greatest strength, its simplicity, is also a weakness. Twitter’s one-dimensional, time-based streams tend to get overwhelmed by noise-of-the-day. Step back through someone’s Twitter stream and you will see clusters of Tweets about Yammer, then Tweets about the Facebook IPO, then Tweets about Instagram, etc. Even worse, the stream consists almost entirely of fonts of single size (only using color to differentiate hyperlinks).

Facebook’s Timelines improve on this by adding inline photos and videos, expanding upon the amount of text you have, etc. However, it is still a one-dimensional (time-based) stream. Tumblr is the same (albeit prettier).

These approaches present information in a way that requires a lot of conscious effort to consume. This was fine when social media services were small. However, it not scalable to size of social networks today.

Rebel Mouse: Moving Beyond One Dimension

Rebel Mouse, does not just aggregate your content; it presents it in way that makes it easy for others to subconsciously consume. This is not only achieved by its use of the Masonry layout (now better known as the “Pinterest-style UI”). Rebel Mouse adds some clever UI design elements that let you easily—and instantly—understand the topic of the post, see what you added social content, and differentiate this from comments, shared source material, etc.:

rebelmousedesign

This takes what the best of what people love about Twitter (simplicity) with Pinterest (visual browsing) and Tumblr and WordPress (blogging and analytics) and puts them together in a single package. This looks simple, but it is BIG accomplishment. The value is clear: If I wanted someone to rapidly and easily get a perspective on what interests me, I would recommend they first go to the my Rebel Mouse page (rather than my other of my social media pages):

HaughwoutRM

What Comes Next

In the “Post-Facebook IPO World” it is now more important than ever to ask what comes next (and how this creates business value). An obvious way Rebel Mouse can make money is charge users for value-add services: vanity domains for individuals, pages for corporations, expanded analytics, eCommerce integration, etc. It looks like most of these are already on Rebel Mouse’s (publicly-disclosed) radar.

However, the foundation Rebel Mouse has achieved (i.e., subconsciously consumption of mass content from multiple streams) opens two additional doors.

  1. It could create a fantastic Discovery Service. Imagine an easy-to-consume Rebel Mouse page aggregating content on a specific business topic (e.g., mobile), products, or even personalities. I am pretty sure I would subscribe to and read many such pages, many times each day to discover new information.
  2. It could create an exchange to deliver incredibly relevant ads. Furthermore, these ads would be more valuable than other socially driven ads as you are much more likely to be in a purchasing mindset if viewing a business topic, product or personality page, than your are if you are just checking in on your friends.

It will be great to see these and other services come to fruition. Until then, I recommend requesting a page and grabbing your name—before someone else does.