Tag Archives: trends

Now! NOW! Now! How do you like it? How do you like it? Now! Now! Now! How do you like it? How do you like your NOW?

by Sally Applin

Lately, I’ve been thinking about advertising.

The web model has been advertising and more advertising. Now its more advertising plus geo-location so its “extra targeted” advertising.

The thing about advertising, is that it doesn’t need to have legacy. In fact, it isn’t about history at all–its about now.

I follow a mix of people on Twitter–some my age, some about 10 years older, and some quite a bit younger than me.

The younger ones–have no sense or interest in history. It appears to be irrelevant to them. The consulting work that they do, is to create a better and more profitable “now” for their clients. That “now” could be a UI, a strategy, or anything else, but its focus is about the “now.” Not two years from now and not about two years ago. Now and now only.

When do their clients want it, by the way? NOW!

There isn’t a sense of planning, longevity or meaning–and there might not need to be.

If media commerce is advertising based, then the only thing that really matters in that world *is* now.

(Unless, yanno, society needs to actually prepare for something.)

Trend: All now. All the time. Now with a side of NOW, please. Oh, and can you do it NOW?

Trend: More Grasshopper, less Ant. (If this puzzles you, read the fable. Aesop wrote it sometime between 620-564 BC.)

©2010-2014 Sally A. Applin. All rights reserved.

Crisis Camping

by Sally Applin

Preface: Before I write anything further–I want to acknowledge and appreciate that all help in a crisis is valuable (virtual and bodily) and that my thoughts are with those who are currently suffering in Haiti.

The earthquake in Haiti has had a tragic impact on that country and its inhabitants. For those in other countries, there has been a desire to help. Millions of dollars have been raised from generous individuals and organizations to help the Haitian recover effort.

That said, there has also been an interesting development of others wanting to help–those in the technology community.

“Crisis Camp” is the name given to a group of technology types (programmers, software engineers and architects, UI designers, geographers, data miners and other such types) who gather in meeting spots in different cities, for a full day/night to work on the “data crisis” for Haiti.

On the surface, it may seem unnecessary: the people of Haiti need medical assistance, food and water, how can people in a room on computers help them?

The Silicon Valley Crisis Camp had a charter of the following:

Project Proposals for CrisisCamp Haiti
Base layer map for Port Au Prince: This project would create a new collection of imagery and a new base map for NGOs and relief agencies. Post available imagery to share with the public for open source applications.
Family locator systems: Uniting efforts of interested technologists, developers and communications experts to provide technical assistance.
Tech Volunteer Skill Matrix/Volunteers: Create a role of volunteer as well as
Managing News Aggregator: Provide content channel management to coordinate data feeds
Defining the Collective: Create what we are and why we are doing this. Coordinate and post historical timeline/archive for the CrisisCamp efforts.

In a way, this is terrific. It addresses needs that the infrastructure needs to become more efficient and to communicate more clearly in a crisis. It also assists with helping those on the ground (and the big assumption is that there is power, internet, cell towers and all else there) find and aid others. It helps family members outside of Haiti connect with the rescue effort and to potentially locate their loved ones.

Another great thing about the Crisis Camps is that they are being passed around different locations. The first one was in DC, then Silicon Valley, now Portand and other cities. In this way, as one group gets fatigued, the other can build on what was done before and continue.

The trend that is interesting to me here is the new way of helping. The Crisis Campers are people who are talented and have resources to give in what they do and like other types of dontation collection–its all happening remotely.

The people in Haiti seriously need: doctors, blood, blankets, medical supplies, water, food, shelter–the physical things that sustain human life.

The Crisis Campers are donating time, expertise and mental effort, but are almost cyborg in what they are doing. The Crisis Camps aren’t collecting supplies for the Red Cross, nor even blood. They are connecting by brain, and their bodies work with the machine to solve the problems. They are safely and remotely working very hard, but completely detached from the body: theirs and those in Haiti.

I find I’m in a conflict about it: on the one hand, all help is valuable. On the other, shouldn’t the Crisis Campers be donating blood, blankets, spare clothing, etc, as well?


Crisis Camping: no tents, no bugs, no dirt, no blood, no blankets, no medical supplies

Crisis Camping: plugging the data holes that are problems in a crisis and helping to facilitate communication during a crisis.

Trend: Hard to put my finger on. I’d say its helping while remaining detached from the body.

Its the new kind of help in a new kind of merged world.

©2010-2014 Sally A. Applin. All rights reserved.


by Sally Applin

Last year I wrote that I thought that Africa and all things African were going to make a comeback.

Here we go:


Trends: Trends was on Trend!

©2009-2014 Sally A. Applin. All rights reserved.

~Happy CONtrails to You, Until we Tweet Again~

by Sally Applin

People working in the social application space seem to be interested in contrails.

The Wikipedia definition for vapor contrails:

Contrails (short for “condensation trails”) or vapour trails are basically artificial clouds, visible trails of condensed water vapour, made by the exhaust of aircraft engines. As the hot exhaust gases cool in the surrounding air they may precipitate a cloud of microscopic water droplets. If the air is cold enough, this trail will comprise tiny ice crystals.

Contrails are the comet tails of our digital world. In maps, they are the records of the paths that we take in physical space, represented digitally. They look like lines of paths that one has travelled.

Why are they interesting?

My informal poll shows that they are interesting as an archive of memory. People want to remember where they went, and feel that a contrail map can remind them of the paths they took through the planet at any given time.

I don’t buy it as the entire story. If multiple movements are saved over multiple days, the patterns of data can reveal behaviors about a person’s habits, patterns and places that they travelled.

I think CONtrails are super data rich traces of information.

Its turbo crazy spy wear! Its a trojan horse! Its voluntary participation in a turbo crazy spywear trojan horse!

CONtrails turn a person’s life into data. Clinical output to be measured. A census. A CONcensus. A CONtrail.

CON because–one is conned into thinking on the front end that they are recording paths they’ve been — travel trips, map routes and the like–are just in that moment. Not that they are being recorded and measured against others and other trips one takes and archived. CON because that data is analyzed.

Put it this way: you don’t lose privacy with a paper map.

Trend: the CONcensus is that there are going to be CONtrails. Tread carefully. Decide if you really want to be tracked in the GPS space, for how long, and during what activities. Its coming. Prepare yourself for your Golden Years of looking at line patterns and reminiscing about the good old days before GPS when we used maps and took photographs!

©2009-2014 Sally A. Applin. All rights reserved.

C-N-C….In the House!

by Sally Applin

The Makerbot CupCake CNC machine from Makerbot Industries is on the market. The kits are now available for home hobbyists to build their own CNC machines.

For people who might not know, the Makerbot CNC is a 3-D printer, or for lack of a better analogy–an EasyBake™ “CupCake” oven for geeks.

CupCake CNC
I am an open, hackable robot for making nearly anything.
The basic structure of a MakerBot is:

A 3D positioning system.
A toolhead that does work.
Electronics to drive it.
As the CupCake CNC is a MakerBot, it contains all of these elements. The 3D positioning system is a standard cartesian (X,Y,Z) system. In our particular configuration, the build platform moves in the X and Y directions and toolhead is mounted on the Z stage which moves up and down. The X and Y axes are belt driven, and the Z axis is screw driven.

The owner has to build the CNC from a kit, and each kit comes with all the parts that are required, minus tools:

This particular kit comes with:

* The lasercut parts to assemble a CupCake CNC machine.
* 3 x NEMA 17 motors to drive your machine
* The nuts, bolts, and various hardware to assemble it.
* The belts and pulleys for it to move things around.
* All the bearings to make your machine nice and smooth.
* The highest quality precision ground shafts for the X and Y axes we could find.
* Fully assembled 3rd Generation Electronics to drive it better, faster, and stronger.
* A magnetized, detachable build platform to make removing your finished prints easier.
* A pinch-wheel Plastruder to make things in plastic with.
* 1lb of ABS plastic to get you started printing.
* Allen keys to make it easy to put together

The “Deluxe Kit” adds the following for $200 US more:

Additionally, we include lots of extras to make your kit building experience easier:

* a USB2TTL cable to talk to it
* cat5e cables to wire things up
* a standard ATX power supply
* a tools kit with all the hex keys, wrenches, and other bits you need to construct it.
* a full 5lbs of ABS plastic so you can print your heart out (in addition to the 1lb of ABS)
* an extra acrylic build surface, and a spare build platform
* SD card to buffer your prints

The basic process to print a 3-D object is:

1. Find or design a 3D model (.STL) of your thing.
2. Use Skeinforge to convert your STL into a GCode file.
3. Use ReplicatorG to run the GCode and build the thing.

At the moment, the CupCake CNC requires some specialized skills, though there seems to be a lot of supportive posts and papers available as resources.

There is even a “Bluetooth to Serial” kit that can be adapted so that the maker can just “print” in 3-D.

What I wonder about is:

  • What will it be making?
  • Will everything be made out of plastic?
  • Plastic is a petroleum product. The globe is currently on a “conserve” mode with petroleum. Is this a problem?
  • 5 pounds of plastic costs $60.00 US.
  • Will it be affordable?
  • Will it be affordable environmentally?
  • What will it be like to have most objects be either black or white plastic?
  • Is the plastic safe?
  • Is it toxic?
  • Can it be recycled?
  • Can a maker buy recycled plastic for it?
  • I have more questions but I feel kind of overwhelmed by them at the moment.

    Summary: CNC CupCake in your house. You can now, with about a 1k investment, make your own plastic things.

    Trend (from The Graduate):

    Mr. McGuire: I want to say one word to you. Just one word.
    Benjamin: Yes, sir.
    Mr. McGuire: Are you listening?
    Benjamin: Yes, I am.
    Mr. McGuire: Plastics.

    ©2009-2014 Sally A. Applin. All rights reserved.

    Ships and Tools

    by Sally Applin

    If you are collecting data, what are you doing with it?

    What does it tell you?

    How do you use it?

    Does your data save money, resources, time, and/or lives?

    Does it contribute to innovation?

    This is the story of clipper ships, the Navy and Matthew Maury, a man who by thinking differently about data, managed to create innovative tools that forever changed the shipping industry and in turn, the global economy.

    On Saturday, I received a surprise gift in the mail: The Race,a book on non-stop global circumnavigation high-speed yacht racing.

    The Race starts out at a fast pace, complete with rogue ice and giant waves. Its thrilling right from the start.

    Then, it abruptly shifts, to the history of ocean crossings. Specifically, the history of technological improvements that enabled faster and faster ocean crossings.

    In the mid-nineteenth century, global trade between China, England, Australia and the United States was exploding. Clipper ships represented the pinnacle of transportation technology of the time. Tea, employment, travel, commodities and all else were in demand. It was up to the clippers to safely and swiftly deliver the goods.

    Prior to the clipper, ships were twice as slow. It could take four or five months for a transport ship to complete a 15,500 mile voyage. The clipper could complete that voyage in 74 days, or roughly half the time.

    With their speed, the technologically superior clipper ships drove commerce. The only way for the clippers to gain speed on their journeys, was for the captains and crew to press the ships to perform as fast as they were capable by pushing the technology as far as it could go (e.g.full sails at all times and less rest for the crew to keep going 24/7.).

    (Sound familiar?)

    This provided for incremental increases, but did not provide any real innovation for dramatic improvements until the sailor Matthew Maury figured out a new way to analyze and synthesize naval data.

    According to The Race:

    In 1839 a Navy man, Matthew Maury broke his leg. While he convalesced, Maury managed to write under a pseudonym, a series of articles criticizing the Navy’s position on various controversial topics. Unfortunately, the articles irritated the Navy’s higher ranks.

    When his identity was revealed, the Navy appointed Maury to the Depot of Charts and Instruments, the archive that contained all of the Navy’s warship logs and navigational instruments.

    The logs contained daily, and sometimes hourly reports of ships’ tracks and locations as well as observations about winds, currents, and other ocean phenomena.”

    No one had used this data.

    It had sat there.

    For years.

    In fact, the book goes on to say that they almost sold the archive logs for scrap paper. But they didn’t. They Navy kept them and when Maury was in charge:

    Maury realized the value of the logs and quickly he, and his staff, first collated the logs by area and then converted them into pictorial representations of the currents, average wind speeds, and wind directions experienced by U.S. Navy ships over the routes they had sailed since the service’s inception.

    Maury assembled these pictorial representations into easily readable charts, using arrows of various sizes to depict average wind speeds, strengths, and directions of specific locations during different seasons of the year.

    Maury’s first Wind and Current Charts were produced in 1847. They were accompanied by an explanation and analysis that came to be called Sailing Directions.

    At first Sailing Directions was only offered to US Navy ships, but a few commercial captains began to request copies–one being Captain Jackson, of the W.H.D.C. Wright, who used Sailing Directions for a trip from Baltimore to Rio de Janeiro in 1848. Jackson returned more than a month ahead of schedule.

    Word of his journey spread and the first edition print of Sailing Directions was for 5,000 copies. They were given away, and the recipients were asked to complete an abstract log that Maura had designed. (Maury wisely used the new logs to reincorporate data into future versions.)

    The most stunning statistic from The Race:

    by 1854 Maury’s Sailing Directions was saving American Ships $2.5 million a year and the global fleets perhaps more than $10 million a year.

    Maury’s story is a terrific example of great data interpretation, innovation and application.

    Sailing Directions not only provided captains with a better user interface of the ocean–it also changed the way they thought about navigation. It enabled them to learn from the logs and patterns of others before them, to not repeat dangerous and costly navigation mistakes.

    Maury and his team had to filter piles and piles of data–coding, sorting, mapping, and analyzing it, to come up with the meaningful data, that created the guide. If Maury hadn’t been a sailor himself, he might not have known to value the data, or the contexts in which it would be helpful.

    The Naval data was disregarded for years because no one was able, or wanted to, or thought of how to interpret it in a meaningful way. The Navy dutifully collected the data and then abandoned it to their archives.

    In my opinion, data isn’t worth much to collect, unless something meaningful and useful can be done with it.

    Don’t get me wrong: I’m all for data collection, but I’m opposed to data stagnation.

    Trend: We’ve got some great data that is likely just as buried as the Navy’s. How can we think differently about data analysis?

    ©2009-2014 Sally A. Applin. All rights reserved.

    Brand Dilution

    by Sally Applin

    A few posts ago, I wrote about “Inconspicuous Consumption” — the idea that people will still consume, if they have the cash, but will try to be stealthy about it and not show off labels and brands.

    I think that the next trend regarding consumer goods is “Brand Dilution.”  With the economic situation the way it is, all kinds of luxury goods have been going on sale at rock bottom prices. We’re talking 70% at Saks Fifth Avenue.  The New York Times wrote an article this week describing the sales in detail. When these branded “luxury” goods go on this deep of a discount, do they lose their brand appeal and cachet?

    In my opinion, some of the goods, like those made by Prada, have diminished in quality in recent years. Oh their runway couture is pretty well made, but the bags are really just a way to make money off the brand. The bags at 70% off, are finally being sold at their real value.

    But the difference with these current sales is that both poorly made “branded” goods and actually well made “luxury” goods are all on the sale block.

    If one pays less for something branded as a “luxury” good and it goes on super sale, does the brand still have status?

    Trend: For ultimate status, we’re going to be looking beyond the ability to select and purchase from a high end “brand.” Those days are over. Maybe education will become the new status.

    ©2008-2014 Sally A. Applin. All rights reserved.

    Trick, then Treat

    by Sally Applin

    Well human nature is human nature. Now Americans have shifted from using their homes as ATM’s, to expecting the goverment to be one. The banking and auto industries have lined up for treats, after having tricked themselves and the American public. Now some cities, and even a public school are all petitioning for “bailout” money.

    Doesn’t anyone want to actually work? To try to sort out the problems with the institutions they are running and to make them more efficient?  Or do they teach people in business school that one gets further with unethical behavior and begging?

    Trend: Halloween is yet again over but big business is still trying to Trick the public while asking for Treats.

    ©2008-2014 Sally A. Applin. All rights reserved.

    Uh, I Know Just, Just, What you are, ah ah…

    by Sally Applin

    Britney Spears’ “Womanizer” is a catchy pop tune on its way to being a end of year surprise hit. My Trends take on it, besides the catchy tune, is that is symbolizes what we are looking for right now, and where we are: in the realm of wanting authenticity.

    Britney sings about a man who is a Womanizer and who doesn’t fool her with his ways. She sees right through him, she knows “just, just, what you are.” 

    Witness the man throwing the shoe at President Bush.

    After the current financial crisis, real estate crisis, and private sector and government transgressions–there is a great desire for honesty, for authenticity, and for wanting to know exactly what something is or is not.

    Like it or not, the timing of this song is spot on.

    Trend: Authenticity.

    ©2008-2014 Sally A. Applin. All rights reserved.


    by Sally Applin

    Well, there is finally a QVC home shopping channel for the digerati: Honeyshed.

    Honeyshed is a website where people can sign up to belong to a community of people who buy online merchandise that is being demonstrated live by what I am calling the “honey” part of the name. The wares are modeled by young ladies and young gentlemen who talk for long periods of time about each item. There are several “channels” of merchandise to look at that have long commercials/sales pitches of the items.

    It seems to me to be a mashup of infomercials and the teen stores at the mall with a touch of Las Vegas stylin’ thrown in for decoration.

    I’ll have to add to this piece when I can decode a bit more of what it means.

    Trend: Honeyshed is trying to really flip the model of internet to be constantly streaming television advertising/titillation. The product on offer seems to be the flirty young men and women smiling and talking effortlessly (and effervescently) about whatever Honeysh*t is on offer. Run away.

    ©2008-2014 Sally A. Applin. All rights reserved.