Travel Trends – Ambient Awareness, Politicians in Your Browser & Experience WA

I'm so digitally close to you (Source: Peter Cho, NYTIMES.COM)

Ambient Awareness - For those of you who’ve invariably been asked the questions: “Are blogs the CB radio of our time?“, “What’s the big deal with Twitter?“, or “Why does social media matter?” Clive Thompson’s article in the recent Sunday NY Times is a must-read.  The article is a fascinating look at human behavior and our innate need to connect with one another and introduces the concept of “Ambient Awareness”.  Clive argues that much like the pointilist paintings made popular by Seurat,  while each individual Twitter/Facebook/Tumblr/Doplr/ post on its own can be insignificant and mundane, over time, these little snippets of information paints an incredibly sophisticated portrait of your friends and family members’ lives, thus strengthening the already existing ties with your “inner circle” and brining you much closer to acquaintences and co-workers.    In this sense, the article concludes that this “constant connectivity” is actually taking us back to “a more normal place” much like living in a village, where everyone knows you and you never have to lose in touch with friends.

Why Are McCain & Obama Following Me? – As a political junkie, I can honestly say that there can never be too much news about how campaigns are reaching out to voters.  The Washington Post recently published an article that provides further insight into how digital technology has completely transformed the way voters are being talked to.  The article details both the McCain and Obama campaign’s increasingly sophisticated use of networks (Microsoft, Yahoo & Specific Media) to do both “behavioral targeting” and “retargeting” based on the articles you’re reading on news sites and/or blogs you’re visiting.  For example, if you read an article about McCain’s energy policy on his website and never signed up to receive communications from the campaign, you’re “cookied” with those behavioral tags and are “followed” as your surf the web.  You will no doubt be served up an ad that might entice you to come back and sign up for information on how McCain can solve the energy crisis.  Or perhaps if you’re reading stories on the Irag war in the NYTimes, you’re no doubt going to be served Obama ads.  Finally, an answer to the age old question of “Is the media fair and balanced” ;).

Experience Washington – Our fellow Northwestern buddies in Washington just launched a Beta 1.0 version of the new  Built on an elegant user interface than tells the story of all there is to see and do under seven experiencial themes, the site employs Microsoft Virtual Earth (I wonder if Bill paid them to do so) and allows folks to search for experiences near a particular zip code, city or place of interest.  In case you’re wondering, there appears to be two microbreweries near Pike’s Place market.

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