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Is Facebook Robbing Us of Our Political Power?

On March 25th the Human Rights Campaign launched a social campaign to raise awareness for the marriage equality debate currently being deliberated by SCOTUS. You probably saw the campaign, which asked users to change their profile picture to that of a red square with a bold equal sign.  When I checked Facebook Wednesday morning, my entire feed was covered with these logos, as a good portion of my Facebook friends had decided to participate. As I thought about it over my morning coffee, I was struck with the thought that all this activity, while potentially raising awareness inside the walled garden of Facebook, might not actually result in anything of substance. And in fact, it might just be completely meaningless. After all, changing one’s profile picture is a transactional gesture, regardless of the scale. It costs nothing, takes no time, and involves very little risk on the part of the participant.

To which, I posted this: “Changing my profile picture was what really tipped the scales on that political issue” – said nobody ever.”

And then a few minutes later, I pushed the idea even further: “If only Abraham Lincoln had the ability to change his profile picture, perhaps the civil war could have been avoided.

And finally, teasing out the thought to its most ludicrous conclusion, I wrote: “Can everyone on Facebook please change their profile picture to a non-perishable food item? This way we can ensure that the starving children of the world never go hungry again.” (The Huffington Post did a spoof of this 2 years ago which lampooned the issue far better than I could have.)

A good deal of my Facebook peeps were not amused. All in all, those 3 comments generated almost 30 responses. Most of these were enraged for even daring to suggest that this act had no meaning or effect. “It raises awareness!” said one person. “It’s a show of solidarity!” said another. And, in the mother of all ironies, some wrote (on my wall) that I shouldn’t express my opinions (on my wall) about the things they choose to support (on their wall).

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Predicting The Future Of Medical Terrorism

WILE E. COYOTE - GENIUSRecently I had the privilege to yet again attend WPP’s technology and innovation conference, STREAM. Held in Marathon, Greece, the setting provides its own magic, but the attendees are an eclectic group that leaves me inspired and always sends me home with all kinds of new ideas. Exactly what you want from a conference such as this.

On the last night there, a bunch of us were fighting it out playing Mindflex, a concentration game where you battle for control of the game piece by wearing a headset that measures your brain activity and concentration. I did not do well. (I blame the cocktails). I was struck about how quickly science fiction level tech is becoming a mainstream reality. We all can probably remember a time when we dreamed up some fascinating gadget or gizmo that was controlled merely by thinking about it, but it always seemed impossible.

Yet here I was, sitting in Greece, trying to focus my way to victory by playing a game with my brain. Welcome to the year 2012. Where mind control devices are now affordable retail hardware.

When I was done with my turn, I left to apply some alcoholic salve to my humiliating loss and struck up a conversation with a few techies that worked at various start-ups. Each was telling a story or two about how they knew someone who tried hacking into this site or that server. Mostly harmless stuff, but it fostered an idea. In the age of seamlessly integrated network technology and data collection software appearing all over the healthcare space, are we asking for trouble? More importantly, could an organization like Al-Qaeda or Anonymous hack into medical technologies and wreak havoc on a large scale?

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Things To Do On Facebook When You’re Dead

Recently, a former colleague of mine posted on Facebook that a notification showed up on his page suggesting he become friends with someone who had passed away a short time ago.

As poignant as a moment as that was, given how we as consumers rely more on web based services than ever before, it prompted a series of questions in my mind, namely:

  • Who gets access to your profiles when you die?
  • What happens to your URLs, user names, etc?
  • What happens to your content? Who gets the rights to your iTunes content, for instance? How do you transfer ownership?
  • Will digital wakes or funerals via something like a Google+ hangout ever become part of our culture?

In the world we live in today, more seniors than ever have jumped online. According to Pew, as of February 2012, one third (34%) of internet users age 65 and older use social networking sites such as Facebook, and 18% do so on a typical day.

The seniors of today represent just the tip of the digital iceberg. The issues surrounding the transfer of your online life once your offline life has come to an end are only going to become more pronounced as the Boomer generation gets older.

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Digital Marketing Lessons from 2011′s Top Memes

I love memes. They’re simple. They get one point across. They tend to be amusing.

I also like being “in the know” and there’s typically some backstory to the meme that you need to understand for it to make sense. It’s kind of like an exclusive club for the Internet set of us out there.

What I really like about memes is how you can use them to express a really simple concept.

For those of you who don’t really know what a meme is, here’s the official definition (thanks to Google’s handy “define” feature):

An element of a culture or system of behavior that may be considered to be passed from one individual to another by nongenetic means, esp. imitation

So, the key feature of a meme is really it’s ability to be passed along from one person to another. Sometimes it’s a joke and sometimes it’s a movement and something far more serious. However, when I look at a meme, I do something different than most people. I try to look for a lesson. I look for the one thing that I can learn from it. I also look at memes and figure out how I can use them to explain something else and to try to better understand human nature.

I’m weird like that.

This is what I’m doing today. I’m going to use the top memes of 2011 to review everything I witnessed as far as digital marketing trends in 2011. There will be plenty of lessons mixed in along the way. Chances are that you haven’t seen or heard of all of these memes (maybe none of them). You might not get some of the jokes, but I’ll do my best to explain them and I’ll point you to the good folks at Know Your Meme to give you even more detail if you want it.
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