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All Grown Up is now located at www.joshmilenthal.com

For those of you who run into my blog here…I haven’t posted in who knows how long. My blog is now located here: http://joshmilenthal.com/

Go check it out..I’ve gotten much better, and post a lot more!

 

 

 

 

 

Categories: Uncategorized

Why Quora (Really) Is The Next Big Thing

January 13, 2011 Leave a comment

Last July I wrote a post covering Quora titled “Quora: A Social Wikipedia” in which I expressed my belief that Quora had a lot of potential, but was still rough around the edges and was suspect to the apparent randomness in which success is awarded in the online and social worlds. A little more than half a year later and Quora exploded into the mainstream since the end of December. Need more proof? Reports are now showing the existence of a Quora button right up alongside the familiar Facebook and Twitter buttons.

With all of this news about Quora becoming much bigger than the small Q&A site it was less than a year ago (nobody really knows how big it is now, since the usage statistics are kept private), it seems that Quora is making a push to be the next Twitter.

I’m not really sure how I feel about everyone saying Quora is becoming the next big thing. Yes, it has a needed service. Yes, it has the hype. But that’s my problem with it. I believe it’s becoming something bigger simply because of the hype, not because it’s providing a service that people actually want; rather, people will force themselves to want it in order to jump on the hype-train. Do I realize that this is how many things become big on the internet? Yes. Do I have a problem with it? Of course. While this may seem petty, at least let me explain myself.

Over-hyped websites, services, videos, songs, etc. that become mainstream so quickly have one fatal flaw: being super successful after so little time creates an atmosphere that says “keep doing this, and you’ll be awesome! Improvement is optional!” I tend to relate a lot of this to the Youtube generation (yes, my generation). Back in the day videos like Numa Numa and Star Wars Kid were making their initial splashes into viral video. In fact, they really helped make viral video what it is today. However, these two ‘celebrities’ failed to create much success for themselves after the initial ‘fifteen minutes of fame’. If you look at their other videos, they are really just the same thing over and over again, with small things changed. Even Numa Numa guy was in a Geico commercial that used the exact same formula as his original hit, he even wore the exact same headphones and shirt.

Where am I going with this? I’m saying that hype that occurs because people not involved with providing the service, or video, or whatever is hype that doesn’t encourage adaptation and development. I’m sure the Quora founders are smart (fyi, they are…they, along with many employees are former employees of Facebook) and won’t just level off without improving their product, but I am allowed to worry. Quora hasn’t changed at all since I first joined six months ago, and while that doesn’t seem that far in the past, six months in the social world is an incredibly long time to not have a significant update to a new-ish website. With all of the media and attention they’ve been receiving the past few weeks, isn’t it safe to say that a huge influx of users and traffic, coupled with a website that hasn’t had to deal with traffic of that magnitude, might cause problems?

I wish all the best for Quora, because they definitely have the right idea…I am just hoping that they deserve the hype and media attention, as well as the influx of curious users who are joining just because they are told it’s cool. That’s what media does, tells the masses they should join something…but then what? It doesn’t tell them what to do, or how to optimize the service. My hat’s off to Quora and their recent success, I just hope it is able to continue.

Categories: Q&A, social media, social networking Tags:

I will never use Google again

January 13, 2011 7 comments

This summer was when I first started really getting into all things social, beyond Facebook that is. I joined Twitter just this past June (sent my 1,000th Tweet today, btw), and signed up for LinkedIn, a host of Twitter clients, Quora (within the first few weeks of it’s beta release I believe), and many other sites that were, or still are, startups trying to get into the game even more recently than that. However, the best online discovery I made was no social tool, it was a search engine…called DuckDuckGo.

Now before you laugh at the somewhat childish nickname, go check it out. Give it one full day of trying it out and I guarantee you never go back to your previous search engine. This little engine that could emphasizes user privacy (“Google tracks you. We don’t” it claims on it’s About page), this privacy mission is explained in detail here (pictures included!), at the aptly named donttrack.us website. While promoting user privacy, it also makes searching almost too easy. How so you ask? Read on:

First, it has this little feature called Zero-click Info that gives you a snippet of information about what you’re searching for without you having to click through to a result. For example, this is what comes up when you search for James Cameron’s Avatar:

Keep playing with it and it also allows you to search things like the distance from Atlanta, GA to Columbus, OH (any cities, states, or countries will do…that’d just the route I travel most often). Why go to some website when you get this:

Next, the “Goodies” (c’mon, how can you argue against a search engine that advertises it’s ‘goodies’ on their homepage and not mean something explicit?) the site offers are incredible, and got me to switch over from Google. The !bang syntax, something I’ve never seen done on any website before, is it’s most useful feature. It allows you to search hundreds of websites directly, without wasting time going to the actual website and typing into the search bar. So, for example, imagine you want to search for…Youtube’s #1 total views leader, Lady Gaga. All you have to do is type in “!youtube lady gaga” in the search bar and you will immediately be brought to this page. Simple right?

**Helpful tip** If you’re using Google Chrome, set your default search engine to DuckDuckGo and now whenever you want to search popular sites like Youtube or Facebook, all you need to do is use the !bang syntax in your URL bar at the top of the browser and Bang! (yes, yes I did) you’re at the results in less than a second. If you ever thought that it doesn’t take much time to go to a site, find the search bar, then search the site….welcome to the world of DuckDuckGo.

The last great feature of the site is that it allows you to type in something like “Simpsons characters” and will return something actually helpful, unlike what Google will give you:

An alphabetical list of Simpson's Characters = helpful

VS.

The one true con of the site (impressive, compared to the many pros) is that it is not 100% independent yet. The image search still uses Google Images as it’s resource, and links you to the Google Images results page whenever you search for a picture. Once this site becomes fully independent and provides this service on its own (if this does ever happen, I don’t see a need right now to change anything), this site will be complete.

Give DuckDuckGo a try, I bet you’ll end up sticking with it. Let me know what you think in the comments.

The Pettiness Of Professional Sports Is Ruining The Game

October 28, 2010 1 comment

Upside down headband - what a rebel

I just read an article by Kelly Dwyer about the NBA “cracking down” (I use quotes because the situation is so stupid and laughable that cracking down is almost too extreme) on upside down headbands of all things. Yes, wearing one’s headband upside down is now something the NBA is outlawing. I have struggled to tolerate the power trips that the head offices of both the NBA and NFL but this might be pushing things over the top. Here’s a list of things that are now not allowed based on recent “infractions” (yes, they get fairly specific):

– No upside down headbands in the NBA

– Two players cannot do DIFFERENT hand signals to the crowd after a touchdown is scored (watch the video, Sam Hurd does the hand signal for “I love you” in sign language)…Miles Austin jumping over Williams was not penalized. 

– The new rules on technicals the NBA thinks, or thought, would be a good idea are allowing officials to “award” technicals to players who calmly ask why a call was made, or demonstrate disagreement in the form of raised arms..

– You cannot, for any reason, make Tom Brady feel like he’s actually playing a football game and might get tackled, if you do you WILL be penalized: 

– The new rules on devastating hits in the NFL now will suspend players for any hit “deemed” flagrant (see: too hard of a hit).

Both leagues have different motives behind the regulations it seems: The NBA is restricting players so that they are more uniform and lessen the complaining of the game. I understand the uniformity to a degree, but upside down headbands? All “disrespect” for David West aside (he’s the guy in the NBA logo if you didn’t know), does anyone really care? For Rajon Rondo it’s a superstition thing…and superstition plays an immeasurable role in sports. If you’re an athlete you have rituals, it’s just how it is. With the rules for dishing out technicals I only see the game being slowed down and the passion of the game being deflated. Sports require adrenaline and passion and if you are telling players that they have to just accept any calls regardless of the legitimacy of it…it means a lot more pent up anger. Chill out NBA, disagreement is part of the game. Why don’ t you tell fans they aren’t allowed to boo calls anymore, or they will be ushered out.

The NFL is cutting back on touchdown celebrations why? Saying that more than one person can’t participate in a touchdown celebration is telling players, fans, and teams that it is NOT a team effort to score a touchdown. I understand that the league doesn’t want excessive celebration…but 30 year old players aren’t going to have their feelings hurt by a couple players getting excited for scoring a touchdown. Calm down NFL, it’s not a big deal. Let two players throw up hand signals to the crowd, let a cumbersome offensive lineman hit the ground during a celebration by accident without drawing a penalty…I mean, c’mon. Nobody is getting hurt here. However, the new rules on devastating hits does address people getting hurt, but putting in a new rule that has no truly defined definition means refs have to judge yet another aspect of the game in order to assess a penalty or not. When has this ever worked out before without extreme controversy? Define it: helmet to helmet hits result in suspensions, regular (but devastating) collisions do not. When receivers go across the middle for a pass (like DeSean Jackson a couple weeks ago) a defender is going to hit them, hard. The hit that knocked Jackson out of the game and the game after was completely legal, just difficult to watch. Players being told they can’t hit people are going to freeze up to think about what to do…should players going up for a ball be allowed to catch it from now on, then wrapped up nice and softly and placed on the ground? No, defenders should be allowed to hit them hard to prevent them from catching the ball.

I think that these new rules, even with good intentions behind them…are completely ridiculous and need to be changed. The players play this game voluntarily and they are choosing to play violent, passionate games. Let them play.

Categories: Sports Tags: ,

Business E-Cards: The Natural Next Step?

October 26, 2010 Leave a comment

I may be completely out of touch and be posting about this way too late, but are business cards in the form of quick videos the next step? I’ve heard of video resumes before, but with the natural progression of business card becoming more socially oriented (check out these social media friendly business cards) this does seem like a very easy next step that should take off. What do you guys think? Check out the video below for Emma McKee’s video business card.

Anybody else think this is going to catch on? Because I think it will be huge in the coming months. The amount of content you can post in a 15 second video is limitless compared to what you can put on a physical business card. With internet capable phones and tablets becoming more mainstream, these cards are still “carried” around without being a physical copy. Not only is contact info easily displayable, but also how talented of a designer, videographer, visionary, photographer, etc you are all on your business “card.”

Any good ideas with what is capable in this new phenomenon?

The internet is old news

October 1, 2010 Leave a comment


I was recently on the Scoutmob website where they were advertising a deal for their new T-shirt. In order to get a shirt they write: “Unfortunately, you can’t order your Scoutmob shirt via the iPhone or Android app. This will only work the old-fashioned internet way. I understood that they are saying this in a joking manner, but the reality is that this description of the internet as “old-fashioned” is actually very true in many ways:

1) When was the last time you ever heard someone say “internet” with any excitement? Even a decade ago people were in awe about what the internet allowed them to do. Nowadays everyone and their mom (and dad, and grandparents, uncles, aunts, teachers, etc) is on the internet now. At one point in time it was “new” and “revolutionary” to sit for minutes at a time (minutes!!) while your dial-up logged in on AOL. But now I see my grandmother getting impatient after 5 seconds of waiting for a page to load. Back when I was younger it was a big deal to be able to simply find out information (without Googling it…wtf were we doing back then?); I am only 22…that’s how fast things are moving.

2) While phones and tablets and game consoles are now jumping on the internet bandwagon full force now, it’s what is now capable on phones with things like QR codes and Stickybits, mobile shopping, social networking, etc. that are captivating the entire population. The internet is now just a means to an end, rather than the innovative service that once was.

3) The internet has simply become so mainstream that simple use of the internet is no longer an action. With words like “Google” “Youtube” and “Tweeting” becoming verbs, simply logging on isn’t a big deal. The realization of something like the internet being taken for granted is pretty profound if you think about the hundreds of millions, or billions, of people who use it daily. “E-mail” and “screen names” are not obsolete, yet, but they aren’t the go-to choices for communication for many people.

What does this spell for the future of communication? Something as revolutionary as the internet is now an expected luxury, more of a right instead of a privilege. This isn’t meant to preach any morals or points of views specifically, it is just an observation of how fast our world has progressed even in the new millennium. It’s astounding how quickly societies can evolve, and its a great testament to human willpower and ingenuity don’t you think?

Ask yourself this and I bet you can’t remember: When was the last time you went even one week without being on the internet? Post your answer in the comments.

Categories: Internet, QR codes, Technology

Facebook Should Follow Twitter

September 14, 2010 Leave a comment

Twitter's new user homepage

Earlier today Twitter announced that they were on the verge of releasing an all new Twitter experience. If you’d like to read more about it go to Twitter’s homepage . In a nutshell this overhaul brings in features like tabbed browsing (through the feed, mentions, retweets, etc), videos and pictures directly in your feed, mini profiles, and more. It is a completely new way to Tweet, Follow, and is an incredible update that I predict, and in agreement with Mashable’s recent post on the subject, will make the website insanely more popular and easily monetized for businesses.

This is how you will view Twitter vids and pics in the feed...live.

That’s not what this post is about. This post is about how Facebook should “follow” (get it?) in Twitter’s footsteps about how to update/change a website layout, and functionality. Facebook has angered plenty of people with their somewhat frequent home page, profile, and news feed changes over the years…I myself have been very angry about this since Facebook hasn’t even perfected basic features on their site such as Search and Chat. Why update things without warning, angering your users (aka your monetary value), without fixing the things that actually need fixing?

Twitter is doing something extraordinary when you compare the process to Facebook’s lack of notifications, customer service habits, and apparent lack of hearing when it comes to user feedback. Twitter is slowly rolling out the new website in a preview mode that will allow all users to switch back and forth between the old and new sites at will. This will allow users to get accustomed to the features and layout of the new site at their own pace. Eventually everyone will only have access to the new site…but at least Twitter is doing what Facebook has never done, letting users know what’s happening well before it happens. Maybe they learned a few things from Facebook’s mistakes as well. It always sucks being the big man on campus when trying new things doesn’t it FB?