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Taigh White
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Interesting read.  Well done. 
 
Steve Denning reveals how clueless he is about Google+... again!

Pro tip: If you want serious traffic to your column, say Google+ is dead. Your page will be hammered by hoards of passionate Google+ fans who come to disagree with you. 

It's a lesson Steve Denning learned for his first "Google+ is dead column," so now he's back for another helping of Google+ traffic in his latest missive, called "Has Google+ really died"? 

http://www.forbes.com/sites/stevedenning/2015/04/23/has-google-really-died/

(I'm not criticizing Denning -- yet! -- I myself drive huge traffic from Google+ to my own columns. That's because Google+ is very much alive.) 

Anyway, Denning launches into a defense of his first column, but succeeds mainly in demonstrating a profound ignorance about Google+. 

I'm here to help. 

Here's what Steve Denning got wrong: 

1. Assuming public posts = active use.

Denning is relying on a spectacularly useless metric for defining active use, which is public posting (by relying on the Stone Temple Consulting report) 

It doesn't take into account the default kind of post, which is non-public. A huge number of users have stage fright about posting publicly, and a probably even huger number don't know their posts are public. (If you want to criticize Google+, here's one criticism you can levy -- the whole Public vs. Circles posting issue is confusing to new users.) 

It doesn't take into account people who mainly or exclusively engage through comments. Because Google+ organizes posts differently than, say, Twitter, comments are not viewed as "posts," even though people are fully engaged in social interaction through comments. If I comment on something posted on Twitter, my comment is counted as a full-blown "post" or Tweet. If I post the same comment to the same post on Google+, my comment is not counted as anything by Stone Temple. 

It doesn't take into account people who mainly "consume" content without commenting much, even though they feel they're active users of Google+. 


2. Trying to have it both ways on the accidental "users."

Denning again goes astray by relying on Stone Temple's skewed messaging on their report. Yes, when you get a Google password for some other Google property, that counts as a Google+ account. So most of the 2.2 billion Google users aren't really Google+ users in actual fact. They then go on to use "randomly selected" profiles knowing full well that most of these are non users. 

You can't have it both ways. Either they're users to be counted as users, in which case Google+ is vastly bigger than Facebook -- or they're non users, and not to be counted in numbers about how active the average "user" is. 


3. Failing to appreciate the nature of the Google+ "cult."

Denning points out that many comments on his first column "seemed to resemble that of people defending a struggling religious cult, rather than the users of a mere software tool."

The gratuitous word "struggling" is passive-aggressive spin to support his narrative. But the point is well taken. Google+ people sound like a cult. Just like Apple fans. Or Android fans. Or Reddit users. 

Unlike Twitter or Facebook, Google has created an army of truly passionate users. 

In fact Apple is a perfect comparison. Apple has less than 7% of the global PC market. Does anyone say Apple's PC business is "dead"? No, because they have the highest-quality PCs and laptops and the highest-quality customers (in terms of income and education levels) -- exactly like Google+. 

Nobody likes to hear me say this, but Google+ is the Apple of social networks. (Actually, I think Guy Kawasaki was first to say something like this.) 

It's not a place like Facebook for grandma to post cat photos. And it's not a place like Twitter for people to speak in hashtag code and URLs. It's the only place where you can pursue your passions will brilliant, like-minded people who are truly interested in the same things you are. 

Yes: Google+ is a "cult." Only the highest quality tech products produce "cults." 


4. Equating tech press echo chamber bias with the "emerging consensus."

Denning trots out a smattering of Google+ hater headlines to provide "evidence" for the "emerging consensus" about Google+. (And check the numbers: Those articles got HUGE traffic from the Google+ "cult," too.)

As I've said many times, the press hates Google+ precisely BECAUSE it's not a ghost town. Any post on Google+ by a prominent writer will be greeted by long, well thought-out criticisms, challenging the writer's assumptions and calling the writer out for mistakes. Google+ isn't easy and breezy for public writers like Twitter and even Facebook are. 

This is the last thing a journalist wants after writing and editing all day. 

What the tech press wants is Twitter, where they can dash off quick and clever lines off the top of their heads (like this one: https://twitter.com/MikeElgan/status/591584837347061762 ) that will be neither challenged. 

That's why the tech press feels so threatened by Google+. There's too much going on: too much argument, too much to read. And so they've been out to kill it from the beginning. 


5. Equating dismantling with abandonment.

Denning quotes more Twitter-loving echo chamber journalists who assume Google spinning off things like Hangouts or Photos would be evidence for neglect and decline. (These are the same kind of journalists who said that Google moving Glass into its own product group meant that they're killing it.) It's all just wishful thinking by Plus haters in the press.

Fact is, the unnatural integration of everything years ago was just a strategy Google was trying. It didn't have the desired effect, honked off a bunch of people who didn't want things to be integrated, so now they've changed the strategy. 

The experience of using Google+, and the benefits, haven't changed one bit. (In fact, It would be improved by further de-coupling, specifically if YouTube and their trolls were surgically removed.)


6. Pretending to have tried Google+.

Denning says his "own efforts to love Google+ were unsuccessful." Looking at his profile, I see that he's posted publicly twice ever, hasn't even filled out his profile or even uploaded a profile banner pic. Running a search, I see that he doesn't engage with comments or communities. 

Steve Denning is a non-user. He has NOT made an effort to love Google+. I imagine if he had only posted two tweets on Twitter, he wouldn't understand that social network either. 

And this item is related to....


7. Completely failing to understand Google+ fan opposition to yet another non-user saying Google+ is dead.

Denning is making the mistake of publically making the same mistake many people have before. As I've pointed out many times, you cannot understand the power and the glory of Google+ unless you really use it. 

Denning is just another Arthur Spooner: 

https://plus.google.com/113117251731252114390/posts/9LE3GM6sLBF

Denning and other Arthur Spooners are confused about why Google+ fans have an issue with this phenomenon. And so I'm going to make it so clear that nobody who reads this can retain their confusion. Here goes. 

1. Google+ is the best social anything ever. 

2. This can be only understood if you're truly active on G+ for weeks or months. 

3. Influential writers who have not taken the time to understand have slammed Google+ from a place of ignorance. 

4. Because this has been repeated so many times, many, many people think Google+ is "bad" in some way. 

5. Bottom line: Ignorant people are the biggest threat to Google+, and are hurting the reputation of best social anything ever. 

Is that clear enough? 


8. Failing to appreciate the importance of Google+ for Google itself.

Google isn't going to kill Google+ because the site provides huge benefits for the company. 

First, Google+ is a necessary social component for Google's wearable computing platforms -- you know, the future of computing? 

Google Glass and Android Wear and future initiatives rely heavily on Google+ for understanding user social graphs, displaying birthdays, sharing photos and videos and much more. 

Google+ is a great platform for Google employees, engineers and executives to brainstorm, announce things, and learn about their most passionate fans and users. (Where else would they do this, Facebook?)

Google+ is still useful for cultivating the most passionate fans of Google itself, as well as Android. Google+ puts the "cult" in cultivating. Google would be insane to cut their most loyal, passionate and enthusiastic users off at the knees. 

In a nutshell, Steve Denning is just plain wrong about Google+. 

(Photo is massively unrelated to the post)
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Worst 3 super bowl ads.  What do you think?
In a sea of bad Superbowl ads, a few stood out for spreading particularly bad messages related to fatherhood, childhood and manufactured feminism.
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This is by far my favourite #charliehebdo illustration I have seen. Simple and powerful at the same time. Tribute illustration by Lucille Clerc.

https://twitter.com/LucilleClerc/status/552961721959473152/photo/1
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Will be interesting to see how Mickey D's goes about automating the food ordering.  Voice recognition, keypads with images, robots...  Will they become just a very large vending machine?
McDonald’s moves to automate orders to reduce worker costs, the Wall Street Journal writes in an editorial.
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Are we talking about "rationing" and "death panels" here?
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You really trust the government with your family's healthcare?  

" Dr. Tom Frieden, director for the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), said during a telephone press briefing Wednesday that you cannot get Ebola by sitting next to someone on a bus, but that infected or exposed persons should not ride public transportation because they could transmit the disease to someone else."

WOW
Dr. Tom Frieden, director for the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), said during a telephone press briefing Wednesday that you cannot get Ebola by sitting next to someone on a bus, but t
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Traces of radiation reportedly detected on drone carrying camera and bottle with unidentified contents
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I have to admit that, until a few days ago, I had no idea what an "Elf on the Shelf" was. But after hearing about it, I'm both horrified and thoughtful. The headline of the article below is clearly meant to attract attention, but the underlying analysis is, I think, quite sound. This is a "game" in which the child, every day, has to find where the elf which is spying on them is. They aren't allowed to touch the elf or play with it; the most they can do is talk to it, in the knowledge that whatever they say will be duly reported back to Headquarters that night.

I was about to say that this is not "play" in any normal sense, but that's not true.

Let me ask: What is the purpose of play? Specifically, what is the purpose of "pretend play," in which personalities are given to items, identities are adopted, stories are told? It's very similar to the purpose of fiction: it's how we learn to interact with the world, by imagining scenarios and thinking about all of the different ways that we could respond to them. (Fiction both does this, and gives us exposure to how other people might think about them: it's thus a combination of play -- imagining ourselves in the protagonist's shoes -- and a window into other people's worlds) 

A game like "Elf on the Shelf" is a chance to place oneself in the situation of knowing that one is being watched, monitored, reported on, and analyzed by remote and powerful forces, and think about how to structure one's life in such a circumstance. 

So to be perfectly honest, it's a perfect game for today's children, in that it asks them, when still small, to role-play through real challenges which they'll face as adults: how to survive in a panopticon. Being aimed at children, it takes the form of a happy, pleasing elf, as opposed to -- say -- a Stasi agent wearing headphones and listening to a bugging device. (Although I don't think I can really look at this toy without remembering Ulrich Mühe's brilliant performance in The Lives of Others

Pinto's critique of this toy is that it normalizes living under surveillance for children, and encourages them to grow up thinking that this is normal. There are really three ways to think about this, though.

One is to imagine a world in which these children will grow up to have agency over the state in which they live. In such a case, for them to grow up seeing surveillance as the most ordinary of things would be terrifying -- at least from our perspective as people who have grown up in a world which was not quite so monitored. (Which is to say, those who grew up in the Western world prior to the mid-90's or so) 

A second is to imagine a world in which our children have no meaningful agency over these matters, in which various organizations with ambiguously alarming names like "the committee for state security" (among others) are monitoring one continuously, and their operators therefore have infinite powers of blackmail or imprisonment over everyone. ("Show me six lines written by the most honest man in the world," Cardinal Richelieu famously said, "and I will find enough therein to hang him." He meant it, too.) In a world like this, children need to learn how to survive from an early age: dealing with a panopticon becomes as important a thing to learn as dealing with wolves or Klansmen was for other generations.

But there is a third possibility, one which I think is both the most likely and the hardest to think through: that, by the time our children grow up, the ways in which they think about surveillance will be as foreign to us as the ways we think about computers are foreign to our own parents. The rise of surveillance has not been a simple ascent of the Stasi: it's been a "democratized panopticon," in which many people have access to one another's information: people as unknown to one another as strangers in a city knowing as much about one another as fellow residents of a small village. We have already seen many profound shifts in our notions of privacy, and we are still quite far from reaching an equilibrium with which we are, as a society, happy. Consider, for example, the question: is it appropriate for a prospective employer to look at one's social media posts, and deny employment to someone based on -- say -- pictures of them at a party? Most people instinctively feel that there is something profoundly wrong here, but within the rather rough bounds of our established norms, it's hard to say what: these pictures are publicly visible, after all.

What's happening here, and in hundreds of other similarly complex cases, is that as information has become tremendously more available, our social norms around the acceptable use of such information, and the acceptable means by which such information can be gathered, are still evolving. This is something I deal with every day, trying to balance people's wish to disseminate information with people's wish to control it -- and often, with the same people having profoundly contradictory desires for themselves and for others. We don't have solid answers yet: what we have are evolving norms, as we (as a society) feel out the boundaries of the acceptable, and try to construct a working system in a technologically different world.

In a context like this, the Elf on the Shelf suddenly has a very important meaning: it's a way for children to start to grasp and grapple with these issues from childhood. We've created toys like this for our children because, consciously or not, we are aware that the problems which face our world are profound, and we've come to see them as so natural that of course they would manifest in the toys we make. This is beyond natural: it is important, because it creates a channel for children to start to explore these questions from an early age.

I don't know what kinds of games and behaviors children will develop around these toys. I suspect that there will be a wide range, and that as these children grow up, the experience of surveillance-play will shape their attitudes and feelings around the technical panopticon which we have accidentally created. And I suspect that it is these children -- the still-unnamed, post-Millennial generation -- who will ultimately come up with a working social order that defines much of our future.

So given that, I understand the existence and the popularity of the Elf on a Shelf.

But I still think the damned thing is creepy.
"It sounds humorous, but we argue that if a kid is okay with this bureaucratic elf spying on them in their home, it normalizes the idea of surveillance and in the future restrictions on our privacy might be more easily accepted," says digital technology professor Laura Pinto.
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As parents we are all worried that our kids are growing up too fast.  Well, I am not so worried anymore.  I saw that my 3 year old boy had gym class on a particular day, so I asked him what sports they are playing. The conversation went like this. 

Me:  “Are you playing basketball or soccer, or maybe kickball…”
The boy:  “We take our bears and have a tea party”
Me (surprised):  “Really?”
The boy:  “Yeah, some bring bears, or doggies, some bring dinosaurs and we do a tea party.” 

The best part is that he was not kidding.  I wish could shrink myself to his size and spend a day with him at his school.
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That's awesome! LOL I just saw this - so cute!
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Some interesting images here in this eye-tracking study.  It was most interesting to see the differences between the genders.  Example, there is a naked woman in one picture and she happens to be wearing shoes. Not a single male's eyes looked at the shoes, yet that area was a focal point for the female eyes. Not a big surprise, but still fun to see that "research".
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Taigh is a recognized expert in online marketing with over 14 years of experience in direct response, brand marketing and public relations; Six years purely digital. Currently he is the Director of Digital Marketing at Ultimate Software, headquartered in Weston, Fl. He has worked for such well-known Florida brands as BankAtlantic, Stiles Corporation and Walt Disney World Company, and is a past president of the South Florida Interactive Marketing Association (SFIMA). Taigh plans and executes online strategic marketing programs to drive traffic to the corporate website for B-to-B lead generation. Taigh is a long-time board member of the South Florida Interactive Marketing Association (SFIMA).
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    Director of Digital Marketing and Social Media, present
  • BankAtlantic
    Vice President, Online Marketing and Social Media, 2004 - 2012
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Freestyle Fighting Academy is a great place to train and learn kick boxing, Krav, and so much more. Coach Jorge is an awesome teacher and trainer, and really great with kids, and adults alike. Highly recommend this place!
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