I like toys.
Let me clarify, I like tech toys. Gadgets. Gizmos. Shiny blinky things. I can sit for hours playing with electronics. My kids hate me come birthdays or holiday time.
I just got a new Motorola Droid, and I’ll be honest, I love it. I mean, I love it, really. It’s changed my life. I barely use my home PC anymore. I am constantly amazed by the thousands of applications I can quickly download that serve no purpose other than to let me say to people “check this out!” In the middle of a sporting event, if a debate arises about a trivial statistic, I can search Google for the answer, simply by speaking the question into my phone. Now that’s cool!
But professionally, my job is to be connected. And by connected I don’t mean reachable by phone or email at any time. I need to constantly be on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and now FourSquare – which I’ll get to in a minute. The Droid let’s me do all of that with the tap of my finger. I can snap photos while walking across campus, and in the span of a minute, I can Tweet those photos, upload them to Facebook, and place them in our Picasa Photo Gallery.
Now, I’m not selling anyone on the Droid in particular, iPhones are just as powerful and have plenty of the same benefits. And there are other smartphones that do the same things. These “toys” are not necessarily for everyone. But for people who communicate for a living – PR and Marketing folk – these types of tools are not just fun, they are imperative. They open possibilities we never dreamed of 10, 5 or even 2 years ago.
I can communicate instantaneously via streaming video, photos, social media, email, text, etc. That’s important because the people I am talking to – students, faculty, staff, media, prospective students, community members, etc. – all get their information in different formats and from different sources.
It’s a lot to take in. But if I neglect any one of those formats, I am missing an opportunity to connect with someone. So technology allows me to not miss a beat. And that voice search feature? I can find answers to questions that come up in meetings in a matter of seconds, research competition over coffee or find a recent news story while walking downstairs.
But today’s technology doesn’t just create new toys, it creates new on line applications. And part of what we have to do is determine which ones are worth our time. The newest “hot thing” out there is FourSquare. I’ve been toying with it in my personal life trying to figure out what all the hype is about. I’ve been pretty skeptical of it. But more and more people are on it. So while I’m not seeing much use for me personally, with the guidance of some FourSquare evangelists, I’m starting to see the value for companies, such as retailers or restaurants.
Imagine thousands of people telling their friends via a “check in” that they are at your establishment. That’s pretty powerful. Now imagine incentivizing people to visit your establishment and then them telling their friends that they just did so. Even more powerful.
Not sure yet how we will use FourSquare here at SDSU, but I am certainly starting to see some possibilities. And they may emerge during SDSU Month. And that’s really what I’ve come to realize about all of these emerging technologies. Rather than asking “why,” they allow you to ask “why not?”