Wednesday, July 16, 2014

My Mobile Social Multi-Screen #WorldCup

I need a nap after World Cup 2014. This past month of soccer was exciting, well-played, and with me nearly everywhere I could find a screen or an Internet connection -- which turns out is nearly everywhere in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Like sports writer Jason Gay advised in his hilarious article on watching the World Cup on a workday, it's more fun to watch the games with other people. But "with" is so much harder to define these days. Sometimes we were with each other in the old-school sense of 60 of us seated at close quarters watching the Germany vs. Argentina final on a giant theater at Haight street's Second Act.

Sometimes we were with each other in silent solidarity, with no interaction other than the knowing nod of earbuds when someone threw their hands up and screamed, accidentally forgetting he or she was actually on a morning commute train.  I watched many of the first round games this way, plugged into the Univision Desportes mobile app, which streamed the games for free up to the quarterfinals.

Sometimes we were one formless, conversational mass -- like Star Trek's Borg Collective but much less evil (most of us anyway) on the starship Twitter. We communicated and commiserated in real-time using the game hashtags. Our words and memes, so meaningful in the moment, were completely dated 15 minutes later. According to The Guardian, 672 million Tweets were sent during the World Cup, with 35.6 million tweets sent about the fateful Germany (7) vs. Brazil (1) game. Let's not talk about that.

And for those games that I couldn't watch (darn workday), I got the recap on Google wrapped up in a nice pretty Doodle. Google created a Doodle (search page graphic) nearly each day of the World Cup to celebrate that day's matches. Clicking on the Doodle yields ESPN's mountain of scores, stats, lineups and replays.Very handy.

It was a great month of soccer, played by every country. True, the U.S. team lost against Belgium, but they won in so many bigger ways than that. I'll be back watching in four years.

Sunday, June 01, 2014

I Renamed My Twitter Account @narasu and Reclaimed Myself

If you follow me on Twitter, please follow @narasu now. I moved the account name @narasu from my personal account to my main account, which until today was called @serenityblog. SerenityBlog used to be the name of this blog when it supported my former content business and yoga teaching.

While Twitter doesn't allow you to merge the posts and followers from multiple accounts, it was pretty easy and quick to take the account name from the less-used account and move it to the account I use most. I followed this advice on My Pretty Pennies and Mashable.

Why did I make this change? First, I stopped teaching yoga. I had fun doing it, and I'm still a committed yoga practitioner, but teaching wasn't really for me, so I lost the need to post content solely focused on "serenity."

Second, and most importantly, I stopped distinguishing from personal and professional interests. It was an artificial split. There's one me, with a diverse set of interests. Plus, managing two sets of social media accounts takes too long. Am I supposed to do the same on Pinterest, Instagram and whatever else comes along?

This move to use one digital property for diverse content topics is not consistent with what I advise as a digital marketer for brands. The more focused the message and content that a brand puts out there, the easier to build SEO rankings, bid on SEM keywords, and otherwise build effective digital channels.

So why am I doing this?

Because I've decided that I'm not a brand. I've read a lot of good articles on building your personal brand and how to manage your digital presence as a brand. I've gleaned some good advice from them, but the analogy is too simple. A person is more diverse than a brand, and while you might crave consistency from a brand, I would hope that you crave more than sameness from me.

That's why I've reclaimed @narasu for all my Tweeting and turned this blog into a more experimental platform. I've tried to be clear about the range of things I'll cover, but I will prioritize stories that are interesting over stories that are simply consistent. I hope you'll join me for the ride.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Back to the 80s: the Interactive Rubik's Cube

I'm no gamer anymore, but I can still feel the tactile satisfaction of clearing 5 rows at a time in Tetris and getting two sides matched up on a Rubik's Cube. (Sadly, I never got more than three sides.) And while I've found a mobile Tetris app to take me back to the 80s, I hadn't found any candy for Rubik's Cube cravings until now. 

I read on that yesterday's Google's Doodle to celebrate the game's anniversary was an interactive Rubik's Cube. Maybe 20 years later, I'll beat my personal best. Enjoy.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Pretty Water Conservation Ad Campaign

We'll be seeing more of these in upcoming years, so it's promising that this campaign to conserve water is so beautiful.

New York Times advertising columnist Stuart Elliot wrote about a water conservation campaign by Southern Nevada Water Authority. Switching it up from 1960s humor ("save water, shower with a friend") and avoiding functional (boring) water conservation tips -- the ad reframes the benefits of water as something we can all (hopefully) get behind: life.

It's an interesting article that touches upon water politics in this desert region. Plus, I learned a fun fact: The fountain at the Bellagio in Las Vegas pulls water from an on-site well rather than municipal water supply. 

Thursday, March 06, 2014

How to Create a Mood Board

I've worked on website redesigns where the brand had a mood board -- a collection of colors, textures, imagery, photography and a few key phrases that describe the look and feel of a website. I've found mood boards to be a helpful nonverbal tool for communicating this information, especially to creative teams.

Below is a short, informative video by hibu on how to create your own mood board.

hibu says that it is a website creation service that enables you to create well-designed mobilized sites easily and for free. I haven't tried it out so can't comment on it. But since I spent 10 weeks worth of blood, sweat and tears (OK, no blood) in a front-end web development class at General Assembly, I should probably create a website from scratch. Not that I've started...

Saturday, November 09, 2013

Insights from San Francisco OpenCo 2013

One month ago, I hopped around San Francisco to visit some of the 135 tech companies participating in OpenCo San Francisco. Just like artists invite art lovers into their studios, OpenCo companies opened their doors – some grand some humble – to share their work and vision with more than 3600 tech enthusiasts.

The event infused me with some much-need optimism about San Francisco. With skyrocketing real-estate prices, Twitter IPO millionaires, and petitions against $4 toast – it’s easy to resent and even fear the tech economy. But OpenCo reminded me why I still love it. It’s vibrant. It has a culture of sharing. And at its best, it has the potential to improve the way we live.

Here’s what I learned:

1. Distributed management sounds cooler than regular management.
Github takes its open-source approach to development and applies it to management. Teams of people iterate and develop lots of ideas -- leading to good ideas. Leadership comes organically rather than hierarchically. I’m sure it’s not this rosy and simple, but it sounds refreshing compared to a traditional corporate structure.

2. Green tech can't just be about green tech.
The Cleantech Group helps clean-energy tech startups with business development. To a group of about 20 sustainability advocates, they frankly acknowledged that the industry too long focused on technology and an environmental message at the expense of business opportunity and scale. At Cradle to Cradle, I heard a similar need for green to scale.

3. Water needs techies
What’s more scary than zombies or the apocalypse? It’s the potential devastation from a shortage of drinkable water. And yet according to the nonprofit accelerator Imagine H20, less than 1 percent of venture capital goes to fund innovation that conserves, purifies, reuses, and creates energy from water. Imagine H20 aims to change that.  I hope they are successful.

4. Publishers are agencies.
As a former editorial type, I couldn't resist visiting the offices of, one of the first online magazines. While it maintains its semi-intellectual, semi-tabloid approach to news, politics, and lifestyle topics – they’ve added tech and sustainability sections, I’m guessing, as a result of advertising interest. Like a lot of publishers, they are also creating ads and sponsored content for advertisers. It’s the new business model for publishing. Hopefully, it works to fund independent editorial and not muddy it.

OpenCo gave me a peek into the tech renaissance blooming again in San Francisco, both in haute eco-designed expanses with top-shelf bars and shared studios crowded with Ikea desks. May the best ideas win.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Who Knew Big Data Could Look So Cool?

I'm not writing much these days (too busy with the digital and content marketing), but data visualizations fascinate me. So, I decided to write a story on them. TechHive published it last Wednesday. It's called The art of numbers: Who knew Big Data could look so cool?

I was able to talk to a "who's who" in the data visualization world and understand how streams of numbers and facts are turned into pieces of art. We are collecting so much data, and visualizations help us comprehend -- with our heads and hearts -- what all that data means. The impact is truly amazing. Visualizations are helping doctors better understand the brain, geologists look at Mars, environmentalists monitor global warming, and the public become more savvy about our interconnected world.