Categories
Pop Culture Social Technology Thoughts

Google gives social another try

Earlier this week Google launched their new social platform, Google+ and unlike their previous attempts (Wave and Buzz) this one isn’t a beta concept. Currently it’s only in limited release and invites are hard to come by, but beyond that, it’s anything but beta. Instead Google+ is a slick, well designed, full fledged attempt to compete with Facebook. Can they pull it off?

To improve their chances Google has created a clean and attractive UI for both the website and the Android app. Then they add features that people have been asking for from Facebook, like the ability to easily sort your friends into groups (called Circles with in G+); group messaging, think Beluga and GroupMe (called Huddles); group video chat, think iChat or Skype (called Hangouts); content recommendations (called Sparks), though I haven’t seen this is action yet; and this one is for the geeks, you can take your G+ data with you . Also with the Android app they also offer a “local” version of the news feed/stream which shows you the public posts from other G+ users nearby, they don’t even need to be in any one of your circles. Combined it’s a great feature boost, though I don’t doubt Facebook will follow suit with some of these.

So then why switch? Other then it’s new, clean, different, less noisy…at this point not much, as the critical mass hasn’t been reached but when it does it’ll be a force that Facebook will have to deal with. Which is good regardless of your participation with G+. Facebook needs a challenger, clearly MySpace wasn’t up to the task. Speaking of MySpace, think back to when it was the dominant social platform. Then Facebook was the new, clean, different, less noisy new kid on the block…so Google may still have a chance here. And just like MySpace felt back then, Facebook is feeling a backlash of interest from the fickle social masses that have OD’ed on the FB.

Overall, I have to say I’m impressed with Google+. It’s one of the most well thought out, planned and executed tools that Google has ever done. Only now has Google started to improve the design and UX of their search and email services. So I expect big things from Google here. Despite Goggle’s best efforts if the people don’t start using (or getting invites to) it, G+ will die from empty room syndrome and that would be a shame.

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Some related articles on Google+
How to hack Google+ to send your friends invites (maybe) [TechCrunch]
Andy Hertzfeld talks about not being the only designer behind Google+
How To Recreate Google+ Circles in Facebook. by Ian Schafer
Google+ code reveals intent to unleash Games and Questions to the social world [Engaget]

Categories
Advertising Creative Design Links Video

Using Social Media and a Beard

Sites using social media as a cheap method to both promote and host their videos/photos/etc has been done before, Skittles and Boone Oakley are two mentioned here previously.  Celebrities taking jabs at their image is also not new….but using James Lipton and his beard for PSA’s on mobile harassment is pure genius.  The Give It A Ponder campaign, sponsored by LG, is a mix of TV, print and web promotions all revolving around James’ beard and thinking before texting.

The videos (featuring James Lipton) are campy, creepy, funny and to the point.  The imagery and quirkiness leaves a lasting impression and the copy is so Lipton’esque that everything seems normal yet far from it at the same time.

Carlos is Angry

Stephan and Zoe

Tracy and her beard

The print campaign is also humorous though not as powerful and may be confusing as to what it’s actually for.  Still they’re eye catching and well related to the TV/Videos and Web experience.

The Virgin

Peanut Butter Muffin

Junk Drawers

Source:
AdFreak
Bee

Categories
Personal

Nearly 10 years in the making…sorry Mike

It’s been a long time.  Nine years and then some.  In Internet years that’s nearly forever.  Before the Dark Ages when the bubble burst. What am I speaking of…this site, of course.  What did you think I meant, Chinese Democracy?

RobertFrancis.com - Old home page
RobertFrancis.com - Old home page

Designed in the time when 800×600 was considered high-res, and 1024×768 was for the special people.  DSL and Cable connections a rarity, and 56K modems were the norm.  It’s an Internet that many never experienced and the ones that did try to forget.  Since then the Internet has expanded into every facet of modern living.  The most obvious are entertainment, communications and hell, dating.  Who would have though that dating online would something one no longer denies doing.  Now one can even watch their favorite TV shows the next day online as something bigger then a postage stamp (ie Fancast).  Even the mobile web experience is richer then anything available back in 1999.

What was available was this site, as it looks today (well not today as I’ve finally replaced it) with only the barest of changes.  It stood as a testament to what once was.  There were attempts to replace it with bigger better fast more.  These replacements never made it through all the production needed to give it life.  They got close, never all the way and then forgotten.

So what happened?
Well back in 1999, I started working at an Internet start up out in Wayne, PA.  There we attempted to connect entertainment and commerce.  Allowing fans to purchase the very items that the stars were wearing in the photo.  We did this for some big names too of the time (Everclear, Korn, Blair Witch Project, Stewart Little, and Radiohead to name a few). This was the start of the band microsites featuring viral opportunities (“send to a friend” and “add this to my site”) and dynamic content.  The big money said forget entertainment and provide all this dynamic content and tracking to the Fortune 100.  And so we did, till the whole bubble bursting thing happened.

I took this opportunity to go solo and provide my skillz to the highest bidder.  Except I realized I’m not such a good pimp.  Slowly I gravitated back to the 9:30-5:30 world.  Finally re-joined the full time workforce at an interactive agency here in town called iFrontier…then AvenueA|Razorfish, now just Razorfish (a Microsoft Company).  Regardless of the name they created websites, web campaigns and all sorts of web based analytics and media buys.  I was there for the creative side of their business, designing and building Flash based thing-a-majigs. This led me to CIM, where I am today, doing more of these Flash thing-a-majigs as part of their internal creative department. Work with a good crew, bringing this Web two thing to Comcast.net.

As the Interweb is changing I thought it was about time change RobertFrancis.com as well.  This time there will be changes to the content, as the backlog has grown deep and I keep moving forward.  Welcome back world.

Links:
Fancast
CIM