Something amazing happened to me during my last maternity leave last summer – I finally got my Starbucks Gold Card in the mail. I say finally, not because it took me so long to work up enough points to earn the card (if you know me, you know I can find a Starbucks in any town at any time with my eyes closed) , but because it took an ETERNITY for my card to arrive. But arrive it did, and I’ve used it on a daily basis every day since then. We’ve had a lovely relationship. But, it’s over. I’ve fallen for something else and I’ve fallen hard.
The first time I used my Starbucks mobile card, I remember feeling nervous. What if it didn’t work? What if I held up the whole line standing there trying over and over again while people behind me grew angry, their caffeine withdrawal causing them to yell at me with maniacal fury “Come on lady, use your wallet like the rest of us!” But I had to try it. I try all new gadgets and technologies. I was one of the first to try the mobile boarding passes from Continental and that seemed FAR more precarious. I took out my iPhone. Yet I couldn’t help myself – “Oh, I have this mobile thing. Can I use it?” It took all of .5 seconds to go through and I was on my way. It immediately displayed my new balance. It was wonderful. I haven’t looked back since.
Now I find myself wanting to use my phone to pay for everything. At the grocery store, at the deli. Why should I have to carry around these plastic cards? There are so many of them just taking up space in my wallet, chaining me to what now seems like such an archaic piece of leather in my bag. And I feel sure the day will come, when I’m able to take out my phone and use it to pay for whatever I want. When whether or not a store has a mobile payment option will be a deciding factor for me when I’m looking to purchase something. 25 different rewards cards in my bag? No thanks, store rewards should all just load right onto my phone and I should be able to view my rewards history immediately and easily. It’s progress and it’s coming. Thank goodness. And I wonder if my kids will look back at us with our fat wallets stuffed with paper and metal coins (what is the deal with these ridiculous coins we’re all still carrying around?!) and laugh the way young people today laugh at how we used to walk around the city with a discman and 10 CDs in our bags?
so in typical contrarian fashion, I’ve decided it might be time to start blogging again. It’s not my fault. I was born this way.
Making my rounds through my FriendFeed this week, I saw more than a few people declaring themselves over Facebook. While I would say I probably spend a lot more time on FriendFeed at this point than I do on Facebook, I am definitely in no way over it. I don’t see myself losing interest in it any time soon and here’s why:
1. It’s the only social networking app my non-work/college friends will use. I spent somewhere around 3 months prodding them to sign up in the first place and now that they’re all there, it would take a minor miracle to get them to go somewhere else. Their pictures are there, their connections, their networks — they’re entrenched and too busy with other things to worry about setting up shop somewhere else. Frankly, I’m lucky some of them even have profile pictures.
2. Even my work friends won’t move to FriendFeed. I work in the web field and I still can’t get people I work with to get into FriendFeed. I did successfully get 1 person to sign up, but I don’t think she uses it. Granted, I work more on the editorial/product side of things so maybe there are developers all over my company using FriendFeed and I just don’t know? Time for a fact-finding mission.
3. I just like it. There’s something about checking my status updates that I find so relaxing. I get a good laugh when I see one of my friends or co-workers’ status update and I know exactly what they’re referring to. It’s easy and fun. Twitter can be fun too, but again, you need the other people participating to make that fun happen. I like walking down the hall and having someone tell me that they were happy to see I got my baby to sleep at a decent hour. Connections like that are especially important when said baby doesn’t leave you with a lot of leisure time for emailing.
4. Innovation. I like that the team behind Facebook never rests on their laurels. They may have some misses (iPhone app, to name one) but I like that they are always pushing forward with their product. It was one of the first sites that I actually found enjoyable to look at on my iPhone and so far, I’m liking the redesign. Tabs? Yes, please. Facebook Connect? I’ll think about it, but yup I’m impressed by the idea.
5. Did I mention everyone I know is on it? That really is the key. I can set up a million accounts on a million different social networking sites, but the only ones I’ll bother to go back to are the ones that have the people present to keep my feeds moving. FriendFeed satisfies one aspect of this need for me and Facebook satisfies the other. Give me the both of them at once — a place where people share tech links I’m interested in and might be into the ones I post (very much unlike my Facebook friends who I’m pretty sure always wondered why I was posting boring tech links in the first place; thankfully, FriendFeed has now saved them from this) and the second, a place where people are interested in what I had for lunch. Not a bad combination.
I don’t think that’s actually even a word, but it fits the bill.
I like to think that way back when I was 12 years old and made that fateful decision to declare my love for Haim over Feldman in the non-stop Tigerbeat battle that was the 2 Coreys, that I knew deep inside that Feldman was capable of such icky things as this.
I was caught up in meetings most of the day, so I was a bit surprised to find out that Google has launched a virtual world service called Lively. My reactions went as follows:
This is one of the silliest things I’ve ever seen.
Why would they do this? It’s not that I have any problems with avatars or virtual worlds. I’m not personally into Second Life but I was one of the first users playing Ultima Online. I played Asheron’s Call and Everquest (a game that single-handedly ruined my interest in online gaming, but that’s a story for another day) and I created a little avatar in Yahoo 360. But, this, from Google? It just seems so odd. Then I started to think about it. If they have the money and the means to do it, why not? Kids and teenagers all over the world spend an awful lot of time in virtual worlds. Why not experiment if you can? Why not try and get a foothold?
More importantly — Google is not just a search company. Google has been focused on search and then on utility-based applications because, more than anything, Google is invested in one very specific goal: keeping you online as often and as long as possible so that you can see more ads. Google wants to make being online easy and enjoyable. Why pick up an encyclopedia when you can Google something in 20 seconds? Why use your computer’s Outlook software, when you can use Gmail and Google Calendar? Why bother with clunky Word or Excel when you could just use Google Apps? If you’re going to spend your time tooling around virtual worlds with an avatar, why not use the browser-based Lively instead of a piece of software that will take you away from the web?
Google says they have no plans to sell advertising in Lively, but I’m not sure I’m buying that as a long-term promise. Does product placement count or can it be discounted on some kind of technicality? I honestly can’t judge Lively, because I’m one of the unwashed masses using a Mac and therefore can’t actually see it, but here’s a little preview:
As I stood waiting for my burrito on Wooster this afternoon, I decided to waste the 20-minute wait time (these are VERY popular burritos) fiddling with my iPhone, as I often do when I’m bored. Went to Twitter to post my message “Waiting for magical burrito at Wooster. Line is long, but burrito is worth it.” but I was thwarted by an error message. Twitter’s instability is apparently legendary, so what could I expect? Big deal, though, right? Who cares about my magical burrito? Yet, it bothered me. Suddenly I needed to get the word out about waiting for my magical burrito. Where I started off not really caring, that error message suddenly made me anxious about not being able to post my message. Perhaps that says something about my own narcissistic tendancies than anything and I should let it go. Willing to concede that point, I moved on.
I went to FriendFeed. As I looked through my friends’ links, I saw a couple that I wanted to mark as Like. But where is my Like link?! Not there! Did I miss it or is it not available on the iPhone version of FriendFeed? Tragedy!
After all this and the my experience with the iPhone version of LinkedIn, am I destined to be unhappy with all iPhone sites? Or am I simply impatient and need to wait for them to work out the kinks?