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December 2009
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February 2010

Trend Watch: The 'Free Love' Generation Turns to Sexting

image from When Roger gets to an intimate stage with a woman these days, it usually doesn't take long until the sexy photos start.

His dating partners either request that he send them a suggestive—or downright explicit—photo from his cell phone to theirs, or they just send one themselves, completely unsolicited.

The catch is, Roger isn't a teenager—or even a 20-something. He's a 59-year-old divorcé, and, thanks to his cell phone and a slew of sassy ladies, his love life is more interesting than ever.

Shocked? Don't be. More and more of the 50+ set, both single and married, are using text messaging to spice up their sex lives.

Boomers, often sandwiched between teenagers, aging parents, and busy work schedules, are taking advantage of the new technology because it's fast, easy, and fun.


Why Lady Gaga Is A Role Model for Girls

image from
Unlike other celebrities who are fond of sharing their diet and workout tips, and proliferating the notion that the “ideal” body is just one squat away, she doesn’t talk about her body.  Her physical appearance is, as it should be, less important than her music.

I love that Lady Gaga is not afraid to be weird. As I explained in my blog about Halloween costumes, teenage girls have a hard time being goofy. Remaining cozy and nestled between the Os of “cool” feels safe.

Venturing beyond our narrow definition of cool isn’t easy when, as a girl, you’re pretty sure everyone is watching and judging you at all times. Lady Gaga thinks outside of the box and lives outside of those double Os.

From her crazy hair to the odd visuals of her music videos, she does whatever the crack she wants. And what she wants to do is be weird. But paradoxically, because she is so un-cool, Lady Gaga is….cool.

She is an oxymoron; the jumbo shrimp of coolness.  If that’s not reason enough to view her as a role model, I don’t know what will convince you people.


Related: Lady Gaga Sits Down with Oprah

Weekly Wrap: Slacktivism, Open Source Social Innovation, Boomers & Social Media, Helping Google Get Social, Sundance 2010 Round-Up, Texting Party in the USA, Steve Jobs' Wardrobe & More!

Barking.robot.iconA Time and Place for 'Slacktivism': Slacktivism; (v.) action 4 social change w/o much effort beyond a click/text. Known causes: social media, cellphones. [Ypulse]

Baby Boomers Get Connected with Social Media: Boomers are turning to social media, where they keep up their offline social connections and make new ones. Online marketing messages that help them build on their connections—and foster other online relationships—will get their interest. [eMarketer]

Lady GaGa's Lessons for the Music Business: Underneath Gaga's haystack wigs is a case study of what it takes to succeed in the music business today. Gaga, 23 years old, has made shrewd use of new digital platforms, while still leveraging the clout of a major label, an institution deemed obsolete by many proponents of DIY culture (Thanks Ypulse!). [WSJ]

Conan O'Brien's Fate a Sign of the Times: While the "Tonight Show" ratings fell under O'Brien's tenure as a whole, ratings amongst the younger demographics were better than those of Jay Leno's "Tonight Show." According to the New York Times, the median age of "Tonight Show" viewers fell by 10 years, from 55 to 45, in O'Brien's first month alone. [Colorado Daily]

Social Media Marketing, How Pepsi Got it Right: Social media marketing campaigns are proving to be goldmines rich with customer engagement and insight that companies wouldn’t likely have otherwise. Companies like PepsiCo are going to extensive lengths to foster this type of collaboration with fans, and the payoff has been big. [Mashable]

Will Creating a SWAT Team Help Google Get Social?: As successful as Google has been with plenty of other things — including a little thing called search-related advertising — it has struck out big-time in virtually every attempt at the social side of the web. [GigaOM]

Reflections from the Sundance Film Festival: Lois Vossen, ITVS vice president and Independent Lens series producer, shares her reflections on this year’s festival, which wraps up this weekend. [Beyond the Box]

College Students Hate Email: In fact, the student joked that she only uses her email to “communicate with her boss and adults.” She uses Facebook as her preferred method of peer-to-peer communication – she has had a Facebook thread running between the three of them for three years now. [Off Campus Media]

Tweet O' the Week: Can someone please buy Steve Jobs a new outfit! The man has more money than God and Oprah! A simple button down will do!" (via Scott Nevins) [Twitter]

Americans Sending 4 Times as Many Texts as Brits:There was a turning point a couple of years ago when it was suddenly undeniable: It was either text message or be left behind. If you were paying for it by the message, you suddenly had to find a plan, because you started having more and more friends that wouldn't talk any other way. Well, we're wondering if it has finally reached that point in the U.K. - or if it's yet to come. [ReadWriteWeb]

Teen Drinking May Cause Irreversible Brain Damage: For teenagers, the effects of a drunken night out may linger long after the hangover wears off. A recent study led by neuroscientist Susan Tapert of the University of California, San Diego compared the brain scans of teens who drink heavily with the scans of teens who don't. [NPR]

Open Source Social Innovation: Last week Bill Gates entered the digital publishing world by establishing the Gates Notes - an online evolution of his now annual January letter sharing his thoughts on the progress of the issues central to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. It’s interesting and symbolic that the next chapter of his life story would include an “open source” platform for sharing IP on social innovation. [Cheskin]

Social Media is a Gen Y Battlefield: Conan, Leno & 'The Tonight Show' Debacle

I'm with CoCoI just finished watching Oprah Winfrey's interview with Jay Leno as well as  her after the show discussion with her audience in Chicago.

As I watched the episode, I found myself taking notes (dork alert!) and thought I'd share a couple few thoughts on the role social media & youth played in the whole The Tonight Show debacle.

  • After watching this mess unfold the last couple weeks and after watching Ms. Winfrey's discussion with her audience, I think it's interesting how Team Jay and Team CoCo fans seem to fall largely along generational lines. Why? I think that many Gen X/Gen Y look at Conan and think "he's like me" whereas Jay Leno is "that guy that their Boomer parents and grandparents watch."
  • Also, at a time in our history where Gen Y are feeling the brunt of the recession more than other demographic groups, I feel that they looked at this situation and identified with a storyline where someone their age was "getting screwed" over by corporate America. I'm not saying this viewpoint is rooted in reality, just that this NBC drama resonated because it was a mirror of what is happening in their own lives.
  • Conan's fans were more effective at using social media to self-organize on Twitter, Facebook and other online communities to tell CoCo's side of the story. Look no further than Facebook: Jay Leno (17, 642 fans) vs. Conan O'Brien (871,825 fans). In the end, Conan's staff and fans were able to use social media to connect with their fan base, share his story and take this situation out of NBC's control and ultimately turn the court of public opinion against Jay Leno.
  • During her interview, Ms. Winfrey pointed to an poll that showed something like 96% of the people who voted were on Team Conan. Here again I think Conan fans and social media played a role in skewing the numbers in the 'Tonight Show' poll. I can't tell you how many Tweets, texts and Facebook messages I got last weekend from other Conan fans urging people to vote for "Team Conan" on Oprah's poll.

One thing is clear: If NBC wants to rehabilitate Jay Leno's burnished image, they are going to have to jump into the social media trenches and tell their own story--before someone else does. They also need to face the cold reality that they don't have absolute control over the message anymore.

I may be wrong, I may be right. What do you think?

Either way, given the situation in Haiti, this seems like a really silly discussion. This is a point that Conan made every night during his final week: Forget about us (Jay & Conan) and donate to something that really matters--Haiti Relief.

I think that's something that we can all agree on. If you haven't already, here's how you can help the people of Haiti.

And oh, apologies to Pat Benatar.....

Image Credit: Mike Mitchell Illustration

Study: Facebook and MySpace Enhance the Positive Relationships Kids Already Have

Social.montage When the Morgan Stanley Report on Youth Media Consumption was released last summer, it unleashed a flurry of media reports on the plague of "internet addicted" youth.

Since the Morgan Stanley report, we've continued to see a steady stream of news reports on internet addiction and youth. So it wasn't too much of a surprise that last weeks release of the Kaiser Family Foundation 'Generation M' study was met with a variation on the internet addiction theme.

While there are indeed negative aspects to digital media, along with kids who spend way too much time playing video games and texting, there are also lots of young people using social and digital media in positive and inspiring ways.

As Meredith at Ypulse points out, most media outlets and parenting guru's focus solely on the negative effects of digital and social media. More often than not, the positive effects of social and digital media in the lives of tweens, teens and twentysomethings are left out of the 'youth and digtal media' conversation. I couldn't agree more.

A new study in the January issue of Developmental Psychology conducted by psychologists at the University of Virginia suggests that well-adapted youth with positive friendships will use social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace to enhance the positive relationships they already have.

Researchers assessed the friendship quality and popularity of 172 13- to 14-year-olds, and then, eight years later, "friended" the study participants on their Facebook and MySpace pages to examine their interactions and friendship quality in those domains.

The entire report is locked up behind a pay wall (but well worth the 11 bucks), but here are some of the key findings:

  • The research team found that the youths who were better adjusted in their early teens were more likely to use social media in their early 20s, regardless of age, gender, ethnicity or parental income, and that, overall, the patterns of friendship quality and behavioral adjustment as early teens continued into early adulthood;
  • The interactions young adults are having on their Facebook and MySpace pages are more similar to than different from the interactions they have in their face-to-face relationships;
  • Parents of well-adjusted teens may have little to worry about regarding the way their children behave when using social media. It's likely to be similar positive behavior;
  • 86% of the youth in the study used the social media sites like Facebook, MySpace or Twitter, which parallels the national average;
  • Use of Facebook and MySpace is really pervasive among this age group, so it's understandable that young people would want to be connected with their peers in this way; it's an extension of the relationships they already share;
  • Parents should try to stay involved with their children and make an attempt to understand their online world in the same way they would want to understand any other aspect of their lives.

MusicDNA: New Filetype To Allow For More Than Just Music


The new file, MusicDNA, can include things like lyrics, videos, artwork and blog posts, which will continually be updated, as well as the music. It has been created by Norwegian developer Dagfinn Bach, who worked on the first MP3 player in 1993.

The new file format will be searchable, with up to 32GB of extra information embedded in the file. The format is being designed to allow for dynamic updates of information on lyrics, videos, artwork and relevant links anytime the user is connected.

Weekly Wrap: Yahoo's Social Strategy, TweSMS for South Africa, Little Passports, 3D TV Hype, 25 UX Videos, Brands As Media, Power of the Social Experience, Mobile Apps & More!

Derek.baird.barking.robotNielsen Preps TV, Online Video Report: Nielsen has set its schedule for reporting integrated TV and online audience viewing data. The initiative is called TVandPC, and the first "extended screen" estimates of the combined audiences will be available for the month of September as evaluation data, delivered to clients sometime in fourth quarter. The evaluation period will end in Feb. 2011.[Brand Week]

The 'Connect Wars': Not content to control only their own domains, social web sites are trying to conquer those of everyone else — by becoming the dominant log-in system for the web. Facebook, of course, is off to a quick and convincing start. [GigaOM] 

Yahoo's Social Strategy Takes Root in Asia: A series of deals with major social networks shows Yahoo moving away from its origins as a traditional portal, as it sets its sights on becoming a content-rich destination where people can interact with and navigate to all their favorite sites. [Asia Media Journal]

Twitter SMS Notifications for South Africa: TweSMS is a third party application that allows you to receive your twitter notifications and updates delivered straight to you phone via SMS message. [TweSMS]

Create Your Own Android or iPhone App in Minutes: Creating a self-branded iPhone or Android app just got a lot more accessible. iSites, a new service launching today, allows you to take your website’s RSS feed and data and quickly transform it into a full-fledged iPhone app. [Mashable]

Global Youth: Turn Kids Into Globetrotters: In an era dominated by electronic communication, people are embracing concepts from a slower age, like the company that transforms emails into paper letters and one that resurrected the classic telegram. Little Passports combines that nostalgia for 'real' mail and combines it with the convenience of a subscription service. [Little Passports] 

3D TV Is 'Mostly Hype': 3D has been getting boatloads of attention, especially during this week at CES where major electronics firms are unveiling their new 3D TVs, but while Sony and others would like you to believe that we'll all be playing video games and watching movies in glorious 3D this year, Forrester Research would tell you otherwise. Related: CES and Vegas 2010: Supersized Vulgarity [Industry Gamers] [Collaborative Creativity]

The Power of the Social Experience: This is why both employers and marketers interested in Generation Y need to realise that, while social technology is the new thing, just being on Facebook and Twitter won’t be as effective in attracting and retaining this cohort, as inviting Generation Y to experience the potential of what you have to offer with a friend or two. [Naked Generations] 

Social Marketing in Twenty Ten: As I believe, Social Media is not owned by any one department. The entire company will eventually socialize represented by each division that warrants an outward and participatory voice. Conversations always map to the activity that exists across multiple networks, spanning a multitude of subjects and potential outcomes. [Brian Solis]

All Brands Are Media: Why are brands choosing to become media companies? Because they can. Blogs, Web publishing, smartphones, tablets, e-book readers, netbooks and other tools providing access to the Internet allow firms to create media sites as easily as old-line publishers can. [IP Carrier]

Oprah's No Texing & Driving Campaign: It's the show that started Oprah's No Phone Zone movement. Watch a 15 minute clip or the entire episode about the dangers of distracted driving, then sign the No Phone Zone Pledge. Related: Buck Hollywood > No More Texting and Driving [Oprah Winfrey] [Buck Hollywood]

25 User Experience Videos That Are Worth Your Time: Rare are the opportunities to attend conferences or watch live shows on subjects that we’re interested in. That’s why we are presenting here phenomenal videos and related resources on the topic of user experience (UX) by different presenters at different events. [Smashing Magazine]

Barking Robot Mini: Be sure to also check out my Tumblr, Barking Robot Mini, for links, pictures and other stuff I've stumbled across during my digital walkabout!

Hillary Clinton on Digital Freedom

Hillary.clinton.internet.freedom "There are many other networks in the world - some aid in the movement of people or resources; and some facilitate exchanges between individuals with the same work or interests.

But the internet is a network that magnifies the power and potential of all others. And that's why we believe it's critical that its users are assured certain basic freedoms.

First among them is the freedom of expression. This freedom is no longer defined solely by whether citizens can go into the town square and criticize their government without fear of retribution. Blogs, email, social networks, and text messages have opened up new forums for exchanging ideas - and created new targets for censorship...

The final freedom I want to address today flows from the four I’ve already mentioned: the freedom to connect - the idea that governments should not prevent people from connecting to the internet, to websites, or to each other.

The freedom to connect is like the freedom of assembly in cyberspace. It allows individuals to get online, come together, and hopefully cooperate in the name of progress. Once you’re on the internet, you don’t need to be a tycoon or a rock star to have a huge impact on society."

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton

Kaiser Family Foundation: Daily Entertainment Media Use Among Teens Up Dramatically From 5 Years Ago

Generation M2: Media in the Lives of 8- to 18-Year-Olds is the third in a series of large-scale, nationally representative surveys by the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) about young people's media use.

It includes data from all three waves of the study (1999, 2004, and 2009), and is among the largest and most comprehensive publicly available sources of information about media use among American youth.

The amount of time young people spend with media has grown to where it’s even more than a full-time work week,” said Drew Altman, Ph.D., President and CEO of the Kaiser Family Foundation. “When children are spending this much time doing anything, we need to understand how it’s affecting them – for good and bad.”

The Kaiser Family Foundation found that with technology allowing nearly 24-hour media access as children and teens go about their daily lives, the amount of time young people spend with entertainment media has risen dramatically, especially among minority youth.

Mobile media driving increased consumption.  

  • The increase in media use is driven in large part by ready access to mobile devices like cell phones and iPods.
  • Over the past five years, there has been a huge increase in ownership among 8- to 18-year-olds: from 39% to 66% for cell phones, and from 18% to 76% for iPods and other MP3 players.
  • During this period, cell phones and iPods have become true multi-media devices: in fact, young people now spend more time listening to music, playing games, and watching TV on their cell phones (a total of :49 daily) than they spend talking on them (:33).

Parents and media rules.  

  • Only about three in ten young people say they have rules about how much time they can spend watching TV (28%) or playing video games (30%), and 36% say the same about using the computer.
  • But when parents do set limits, children spend less time with media: those with any media rules consume nearly 3 hours less media per day (2:52) than those with no rules.
Heavy media users report getting lower grades
  • While the study cannot establish a cause and effect relationship between media use and grades, there are differences between heavy and light media users in this regard.
  • About half (47%) of heavy media users say they usually get fair or poor grades (mostly Cs or lower), compared to about a quarter (23%) of light users.  These differences may or may not be influenced by their media use patterns.
  • Heavy users are the 21% of young people who consume more than 16 hours of media a day, and light users are the 17% of young people who consume less than 3 hours of media a day.

Black and Hispanic children spend far more time with media than White children do.

  • There are substantial differences in children’s media use between members of various ethnic and racial groups.  Black and Hispanic children consume nearly 4½ hours more media daily (13:00 of total media exposure for Hispanics, 12:59 for Blacks, and 8:36 for Whites). 
  • Some of the largest differences are in TV viewing: Black children spend nearly 6 hours and Hispanics just under 5½ hours, compared to roughly 3½ hours a day for White youth.  The only medium where there is no significant difference between these three groups is print.
  • Differences by race/ethnicity remain even after controlling for other factors such as age, parents’ education, and single vs. two-parent homes. 
  • The racial disparity in media use has grown substantially over the past five years: for example, the gap between White and Black youth was just over two hours (2:12) in 2004, and has grown to more than four hours today (4:23).

Big changes in TV. 

  • For the first time over the course of the study, the amount of time spent watching regularly-scheduled TV declined, by 25 minutes a day (from 2004 to 2009).
  • The many new ways to watch TV–on the Internet, cell phones, and iPods–actually led to an increase in total TV consumption from 3:51 to 4:29 per day, including :24 of online viewing, :16 on iPods and other MP3 players, and :15 on cell phones.  
  • All told, 59% (2:39) of young people’s TV-viewing consists of live TV on a TV set, and 41% (1:50) is time-shifted, DVDs, online, or mobile.
  • TV remains the dominant type of media content consumed, at 4:29 a day, followed by music/audio at 2:31, computers at 1:29, video games at 1:13, print at :38, and movies at :25 a day.
  • About two-thirds (64%) of young people say the TV is usually on during meals, and just under half (45%) say the TV is left on “most of the time” in their home, even if no one is watching. 
  • Seven in ten (71%) have a TV in their bedroom, and half (50%) have a console video game player in their room.  Again, children in these TV-centric homes spend far more time watching: 1:30 more a day in homes where the TV is left on most of the time, and an hour more among those with a TV in their room.

Popular new activities like social networking also contribute to increased media use.  

  • Top online activities include social networking (:22 a day), playing games (:17), and visiting video sites such as YouTube (:15).  
  • Three-quarters (74%) of all 7th-12th graders say they have a profile on a social networking site.
High levels of media & multitasking.

  • High levels of media multitasking also contribute to the large amount of media young people consume each day.  
  • About 4 in 10 7th-12th graders say they use another medium “most” of the time they’re listening to music (43%), using a computer (40%), or watching TV (39%).
  • Time spent with every medium other than movies and print increased over the past five years: :47 a day increase for music/audio, :38 for TV content, :27 for computers, and :24 for video games.
Related: Video > Teens Share How They Consume Entertainment Media

Video: Teens Share How They Consume Digital Media & TV

Generation M2: Media in the Lives of 8- to 18-Year-Olds is the third in a series of large-scale, nationally representative surveys by the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) about young people's media use.

It includes data from all three waves of the study (1999, 2004, and 2009), and is among the largest and most comprehensive publicly available sources of information about media use among American youth.

This video explores the powerful force that media can be in the lives of teens and tweens. The three young people who are profiled explain what types of media they use—such as smart phones, computers, TV, video games—how much time they spend with media and what impact it has on their lives.

Related: Daily Entertainment Media Use Among Teens Up Dramatically From 5 Years Ago 

Report: Boomers Mix TV with Their PCs

Boomers are aging, but they still dominate the US population both online and offline. They make up 32.5% of the US adult population, but 36% of the online adult population and account for about one-third of Web traffic on a typical day.

“In their younger years, they eagerly adopted new technologies such as Walkmans, VCRs, PCs, DVRs and the Internet,” said Lisa E. Phillips, eMarketer senior analyst and author of the new report, “Boomer Demographics and Media Usage.” “Most carry that adaptability into their 50s and 60s.”

This willingness to try new technology means boomers are ready for digital convergence in the home.