Changes In My Media Consumption

The fast development of communications technology is quickly democratizing the central control of media power held by a few traditional media conglomerates and releasing it to a vast array of emerging new media platforms. These new media platforms have adopted a simple but more efficient persona encompassing everything from the contentproduction to product consumption. Like Clay Shirky mentioned in his article The Collapse of Complex Business Models, online video platforms like Youtube have revolutionized a simple and cost-effective way to produce media content that can be shared from person to person,and poked many holes in the complex and expensive traditional media ecosystem. These new platforms are changing people’s media consuming habits and also challenging traditional media platforms in an unprecedented way. I have seen my own media consumption habits shifting from traditional platforms to digital media platforms (and several more shifts happening between the digital media platforms themselves) in the past year.

News Content Consumption: From Traditional News Media Portals, to Blogs, to Real Time Information Network

Just two years ago, I was was getting my daily dose of news online, mainly from traditional media’s news portals and blogs. But beginning last year, the rise in prominence of Twitter and other information/social network sites in generating news in real time by citizen journalists has brought a new way for me to consume news. I could also track the trends of what was happening in a certain location on these platforms in real time, and could even make educated predictions about how future events would unfold as a result of these trends. Also, instead of seeking out news by myself, the news got pushed to me by my friends or the media I subscribed to on these social networks, thus news I accessed was more relevant to me and more likely to get my attention and fulfill my needs.

Entertainment Content Consumption: From Offline TV/Movie Theater to Online Platforms on Laptop/Mobile Phone

For my entertainment media content consumption, emerging online video platforms like Youtube and Hulu have become my new destinations for content, and they are replacing traditional TV and even movie theaters in my life. The vast universe of media content in these two databases and the sheer control it puts in its users’ hands—I can choose what time to watch what content– has won them tremendous advantages over traditional TV and movie theaters. Youtube and Hulu also offer a new freemium model of distributing media content. I do not need to pay for cable or movie tickets for the consumption of media, instead I can get the content for free or for the price of spending a bit of time and attention on online ads embedded in the videos. Even though there is a one or two day delay from the show being aired on TV to it being put up on Hulu, the aforementioned two advantages have made the wait worthwhile. Also the content has been broken down from atoms to bits: I went from consuming one music album to a single song, from one TV channel to a specific TV show, or even to several seconds-long clips of a TV show. Besides simply taking in content and information on these platforms, I can post my own content, comment, or vote on other people’s content and become part of the production force. It is a two-way street for me and everyone else to become a content creator and also consumer; I also consume much more user-generated media content than professional content on these new social media platforms.

Other Media Content and the Future: Everything is being digitized and migrating from offline outlets to online platforms.

I read less and less book content from actual paper books, but I read the digital copies of book on my laptop, mobile phone or on Kindle. I predict this trend to be continued in the future, and the devices that I consume digital media content on will become smaller and nimbler, and more and more mobile. And I can also see the media content I consume will be divided into smaller and smaller segments, from atoms to bits, which will help me get what I need more conveniently.


Were You Awake at 4am This Morning?

(Less than half an hour after the L.A. earthquake this morning, the term “earthquake” dominated the local Twitter trends in L.A.)

Unfortunately, I was, when the earthquake in the L.A. area happened around 4 am this morning. According to the US Geological Survey, it was only a 4.4 magnitude quake and was centered about 12 miles under the city of Pico Rivera. Sounded minor right? But it did feel very real to me this morning when I was lying in bed in the dark. For about ten seconds I thought I was on a flying carpet when the whole bed was jolting and the windows above my bed were whistling. A couple of seconds later, lying in the dark, hearing the car alarms going off on the street, a pretty surreal feeling struck me when I realized that an earthquake might just have happened. “Was it just further proof that I was really living in the restless city of L.A. or was it all just a dream?” I asked myself. But since everything quickly returned to normal in the middle of the night, I knew there was only one place in the world at that moment that could give me the answer.


I turned on my laptop, which was placed on the edge of my bed, thank goodness it hadn’t been slipped to the ground during all that shaking. I searched “earthquake L.A.” in Google about five minutes after the earthquake, and the first three results that came to the top were about old earthquake entries from USGS, but the fourth one was real time results from Twitter. According to the results, many people were already engaged in an intense discussion about the earthquake that had just happened. The discussions were not only from L.A., but also from China and South Korea. Nice, it was not a dream.

My friend Julie (glad she was awake too!) tweeted at that moment that this was the first time she turned to Twitter for news, just as I had. I have heard so many anecdotes before of how Twitter has been such a useful platform for people to exchange information during emergency circumstances like the Mumbai terrorist attack. But this time, I experienced the power of Twitter, the real-time news outlet, myself. It was for real!

Here are some interesting tweets that really helped to ease my nerves in the aftermath of the earthquake:

earthquake in LA. fault just a few miles from parents house. son’s ok but dad wondering how I heard so quickly in China. 🙂

christinelu seconds ago

Earthquake in LA. Over 300 related tweets every 5secs. Amazing how realtime the technology is! #fb

tohir 3 minutes ago

Is amazed at how many people are up at 4AM talking about the earthquake in LA. Hi from South Korea!

AndrewLeonardtwitter.com3 minutes ago

I think like 50% of the people I follow live in LA. Based on these earthquake tweets, at least.

oceana_rolltwitter.com3 minutes ago

Los Angeles Earthquake: 4.4 Tremblor Hits Pico Rivera

Huffington Post3 minutes ago

4.4 earthquake in CA, near LA… Glad everyone’s ok! RT @ninjabetic: 1 picture fell off the wall. Kids are a bit nervous.

martin_j001twitter.com4 minutes ago

There was an earthquake in LA? Can’t find it on any media but my Twitter is filled with updates on the case.

minieerikkitwitter.com4 minutes ago

Get Back Your Forgotten Myspace Password, Join The Real Time Music Hunt!

(The UI for this App is a slick piece of design: big buttons, simple elements, bright contrasting colors, and one single click leads people to what they want)

This is truly the first time Myspace gave me a pleasant surprise since I involuntarily signed up for a Myspace account months ago: the refreshing real-time music search app, “We Are Hunted Myspace Radio Station” just launched, not only on the Myspace website, but also on iPhone and Android at the same time. Trying it out, I have to say Myspace has finally done something right with their valuable music assets after such a long time. They have fused the two hottest things on the web right now: crowdsourcing (or more precisely, “hordesourcing” according to Wired) of millions of Myspace music lovers’ picks, and a real-time music feed, to rejuvenate its long neglected music gold mine. As a result, this app will likely help Myspace and its indie music groups open up to a larger public audience.

Here is more detailed information of how it works, according to Myspace:

  • We monitor what MySpace users are listening to via the MySpace Real Time Stream. Depending on the time of day, we hear 15 to 100 updates every second.
  • The most popular artist in the last 60 seconds plays next.
  • The service is tuned for music discovery service. The programming is biased to favor new and emerging music popular right now. We play only 60 second samples of each song with a voice intro so you know what is playing.
Listening to these 60 seconds tracks, when you catch something that is interesting to you, you can also easily drag it to “my favorite tracks” box on the right side of the app page. Also, one simple click on the album icon can lead you to the artist’s Myspace page to learn more about them.

After listening to it for a while tonight, I have to say it is really not bad. Besides these new, refreshing music tracks themselves (finally something other than the ubiquitous Taylor Swift and Lady Gaga songs playing for the millionth time from the car radio), I simply love the interesting mash-up of different genres of music. Listening to my familiar genres of music on Pandora is safe and delightful, but going out there and being a little adventurous with a crowd-sourced DJ on Myspace can open up a whole new world of music.

One additional bonus: this app is quite easy to use, as long as you can find your Myspace password after abandoning the site for so long (ha!), one minute is all you need to get started with this app. Try it out here.

Reputation Bank Yelp’s Problem With Its Own Reputation

(image from Internet Deformation Blog)

The recent legal dispute between Yelp and a veterinary hospital in Long Beach has once again highlighted the clash between local business review site Yelp and local business groups under an intense media spotlight. This is not the first time Yelp was accused by businesses of manipulating reviews for financial gain. Yelp, as a business, is thriving by providing an objective account of local businesses’ reputation, and has thus become a trustworthy “reputation bank”. It stores and spreads the impact of reputation with new social media technology. And we all know that among all businesses, the business of banking is one that is based fundamentally on reputation. In this sense, there is no doubt that as a “reputation bank”, Yelp itself should be much more cautious about their own reputation, and handle their monetization process with more care and thoughtfulness in the future.

The objectivity and fair treatment of people’s reviews is a promise Yelp has made with its large army of volunteer reviewers. As stated by Clay Shirky in his book Here Comes Everybody, this kind of mutual agreement and mutual expectation between the website and its users, called a “bargain”, along with the promise and tools provided, are the three essential elements that make an online communities work. The founder of Wikipedia Jimmy Wales has made a bargain with Wikipedia’s contributors that the wiki platform will forever be free and available source of knowledge for people, and he later adopted the GNU Free Documentation License to reassure contributors of this original bargain.

I can totally see how Yelp began with a legitimate promise to its reviewers that the site would summon the collective strength of all its Yelpers to improve the services of local business and hold them accountable; it also utilized a set of effective tools, such as open online forums for public comments that other users could quickly jump into and contribute to, and features that established social ties and recognition between members, thus encouraging contribution to the community. The bargain was also legitimate: Yelp would objectively use its Yelpers’ contributions for a good cause, and even though Yelp is a profit-driven firm, this implicit expectation of them to place this cause as their top priority above pure financial gain was also a bargain written into their original “contract” with users.

Yelp was doing a good job in the past and built up their good reputation as a trustworthy destination for reviews of local businesses by keeping up with the three elements. But if it decides to breach this bargain with its users, and place their financial goals ahead of objectively displaying reviews, that would likely ruin Yelp’s credible reputation, and could lead to catastrophic consequences if contributors and users who base their decisions on trusting Yelp feel that trust has been breached.

At the same time, this fierce and public collision between local businesses and a reputation-storing/spreading bank like Yelp has also called much attention to how local businesses should handle the impact of this new generation of reputation-rating. Where prior e-commerce ratings by customers on sites like Amazon and eBay only affected other e-commerce participants, buyers, and sellers, Yelp’s reviews are directly impacting businesses whose primary day-to-day transactions occur offline and didn’t necessarily choose to participate in e-commerce. In the next blog post, I will discuss how local business should respond to this new wave of impact from the electronic reputation storage and spreading system and actively build their positive reputation in the virtual world.

“I just met you, but I love you already!”

Do you still remember the cute dog in Disney-Pixar’s movie “Up”, which had an automated collar that could translate his thoughts into human languages? When he first met the little boy in the movie, he looked at him with a waving tail and happy tongue, saying: “I just met you, but I love you already!”

That was the cutest scene I remember from that movie, and now with the help of a new piece of technology designed by toy company Mattel, your doggie can “tweet” to you.

Here is an excerpt from “Mattel taps into social media craze with Puppy Tweets from the L.A. Times:

“Tapping into the social media craze, toy giant Mattel Inc. is preparing to release Puppy Tweets, a high-tech toy that will allow dogs to publicize their everyday activities on Twitter via a sound and motion sensor.

Attached to a dog’s collar, the plastic tag randomly generates one of 500 canned tweets when it detects barking or movement and automatically posts an update to Fido’s own Twitter page.

A round of woofing could lead to a tweet of “I bark because I miss you. There, I said it. Now hurry home.” A frenzied run through the backyard might garner “I finally caught that tail I’ve been chasing, and . . . OOUUUCHH!” “

Awwwwwwwwwwwwwww, dog lovers, how cute would that be? Real-time conversations with your doggie, even when you are apart!

Another bit of light-hearted news I came across earlier today (well, considering the nature of the news, maybe light-hearted is not the right word, so please take a moment for a silent tribute and farewell if necessary…after you’ve brushed off the amusement you get from the news) was about people’s response to the imminent death of Internet Explorer 6.

In a report by Techcrunch, a funeral for IE6 will be held by Aten Design Group on March 4. Of all the news I heard recently about the leaving of IE6, this one conferred the most dignity to the departure of this internet veteran that has been with us for almost a decade. Techcrunch cited the following text from the site

“Internet Explorer Six, resident of the interwebs for over 8 years, died the morning of March 1, 2010 in Mountain View, California, as a result of a workplace injury sustained at the headquarters of Google, Inc Internet Explorer Six, known to friends and family as “IE6,” is survived by son Internet Explorer Seven, and grand-daughter Internet Explorer Eight.”

IE6, please rest in peace.

Jeremiah Owyang: Web Strategy: How To Evolve Your Irrelevant Corporate Website

Web Strategist Jeremiah Owyang published the article Web Strategy: How To Evolve Your Irrelevant Corporate Website in his blog Web Strategy three years ago with great foresight. Today as the online community has proven to be the epicenter for online conversations and interactions, more and more web technologies and companies that provide these services, like KickApps, have emerged to help companies revolutionize their website to be more community-friendly and “relevant” to their customers.

POM Wonderful is one of the pioneers in transforming their company website from a static information center to a dynamic “pomegranate-lover” community. Another great examples is Dell’s IdeaStorm project: customer ideas to improve products prompted endless inspiration to Dell’s product development teams, which would in turn help them better meet the needs of their customers. After all, who else could be a better person to turn to for advice on better serving your customers than the consumers themselves. They congregate and speak up ardently about your products in these online communities. No matter if these opinions are positive or negative ones, they are all valuable ones for the company to listen to. This kind of listening was once done by small and expensive focus groups, but social tools and online communities have largely reduced the transaction costs and afforded companies many more channels to listen to invaluable opinions from much larger and passionate groups in a real-time setting.

Also, letting these conversations happen at “home” is better than letting it happen elsewhere, because by providing a place for consumers to voice their opinions on your own website, not only does that generate valuable customers insight for you, but also shows your real respect and care for your consumers.These actions invite them to truly be owner for your brand and build the brand with you.

Since social network sites started to take off in China 3 years ago, they have undergone exponential growth and their traction among Chinese netizens has subsequently made these sites the new battlegrounds for Chinese companies to connect with customers. Now, these companies are just one step away from bringing these users and conversations back to their company websites by incorporating social media functions on these sites. I have translated Jeremiah Owyang’s prescient article into Chinese, hopefully helping it reach more people that would find it of great value. Thank you Jeremiah Owyang.


Jeremiah Owyang









很多网络市场营销者都有这种印象,那就是网络营销之战只在谷歌(Google)搜索引擎以及 企业的网站里上演。但是在现实生活中,网络市场营销已经散布到许多别的对话产生的领 域:社交网站,评分网站,网络聊天室,甚至博客中。就这个话题,我撰写了一篇独立的博 文进行探讨:为什么网络市场营销不只发生在两个网络领域中。



















From Google Wave to Google Buzz… or Vice-Versa?

Google Buzz has been around for about two weeks now, and some of my tech savvy friends on Buzz have already mastered it like they did for Twitter, using it as a broadcast tool to create word-of-mouth effect for their brands or events. Many websites like Mashable have also become early adopters of Buzz, actively promoting it alongside the ubiquitous “follow us” Twitter and Facebook buttons. For now, I am still resisting the urge to Buzz my contacts, in contrast to my continued usage of Twitter as a public announcement tool, because I do not feel like being force fed by Buzz messages (Susan discussed this problem in length here), thus I am also very hesitant to possibly force feed my friends.

Another serious issue with Buzz is its privacy problem. Because the default opt-in settings disclose people’s close contacts to the rest of the world, this has irritated many people as an intrusion to their privacy. But through my conversation with a friend who has been using Google Wave, he brought up an interesting point that the opt-in existing contacts function in Buzz might be a lesson Google learned from their experiment with Wave. He thinks that the reason Wave has so far failed (relatively) as a social networking/messaging platform is because the nature of its “closed Beta” means each user does not immediately have enough existing contacts to connect with and keep the momentum for the Wave experience going. This might be a universal problem for any closed beta platform, but it is extremely disruptive for a social network platform. He thinks Google probably wanted to avoid the same problem with Buzz, so by default it opted in a user’s existing circle of friends so people could immediately connect and communicate.

Considering the pressure Google is facing from other Social Network Site, this opt-in is an understandable business move to quickly connect users. But in relation to Google’s recent threats to leave China over protecting its users’ privacy and freedom of speech, this action may seem a bit self-contradictory. Georgetown University Research Fellow Evgeny Morozov commented in his blog Net Effect:

“I am yet to hear a Google executive mention privacy as one of the values that are constitutive of the freedom of expression. Whenever they talk about the latter, they always make it very clear that privacy inhabits a completely different universe. I think they operate on a very flawed logic, which makes all their other efforts on this front look very insincere. Moreover, I think it is likely to cause Google much more damage in the long run: what’s the point of protecting the email accounts of Chinese human rights activists if you tell the rest of the world who those people are talking to?”

Google is on its way to building an empire of free flowing information, but the huge amount of data and immense trust it receives from people also places a great burden of responsibility on its shoulder. This responsibility will only grow heavier in the future when its new products will face similar choices, especially between its business gain and people’s personal privacy.