The adventures of an analog engineer and digital storyteller who studies emerging networks and their impact on the great game of business.
Feb 7, 2013

Crashspace-LA Storefront

For the past year, I’ve wanted to visit a hackerspace–a physical location where inventors of all ages gather to share equipment, knowledge, and experience. I got my opportunity two Saturdays ago when I visited Crashspace in Los Angeles.  I attended the eLeCTRONiC WeAraBLes Meetup as a member of Epson America to help product manager, Eric Mizufuka, demonstrate Epson’s Moverio BT-100 transparent display glasses to those who might want to incorporate the platform into their own projects.

Crashspace-LA consists of a small storefront located on Venice Boulevard in Culver City, California. Its meeting room held about fifty people, who had self-organized themselves into three groups: those who sat on folding chairs, those who sat on an old couch, and those who stood along the walls. Latecomers peered into the room through two open doors that lead to the sidewalk.

The attendees included parents, teachers, students, entrepreneurs, recent college grads and old, crusty engineers like myself. And although our interests varied wildly, the reason for our attendance remained the same–something that Annika O’Brien, founder of the LA Robotics group, explained perfectly.

“I need other nerds to nerd-out with.” dress demonstration.

After quick introductions, attendees were encouraged to demonstrate projects. One-by-one,they showed their work. Rich demonstrated his “hug-o-meter,” a jacket lined with conductive sensors that sent signals to multi-colored LEDs. Others had stitched Arduino microcontrollers into swaths of fabric…and in one case, a hat. A representative from Illuminode raised the bar by demonstrating commercially-available, LED-laced garments, that were programmed to interact with each other, changing colors based upon variables such as proximity and the relationships.

Rich shows off his "Hug-o-meter."

At this point in the meeting, my expectations had been met. I was among inventors demonstrating whimsical applications. But my experience changed when Frank took the floor to demonstrate his latest wearable technology project.

Sleepless in Los Angeles

Frank explained that he hadn’t slept much since he heard about the tragic death of Chief Petty Officer Terrell Horne III, who died of injuries inflicted when he was rammed by a suspected drug-running boat.  Although Frank had never met the Chief Petty Officer, he felt the loss personally, leading to many long nights trying to find a way to avoid this type of death in the future.

Dressed in sweatpants and a white T-shirt, Frank stood in front of the crowd revealing material after material that he was testing to build a new type of helmet. Frank’s interest in safety didn’t just begin in December. He was issued US Patent in September 2011 for a Damage Resistant Aircraft.

Frank shows off some helmet materials.

I shouldn’t have been surprised at the intensity of Frank’s motivation. The night vision demo brought by Epson was also inspired by a tragic news story. Conceived while watching news footage of rescuers trying to find Hurricane Sandy victims, its inventor set out to develop a wearable device that switched between night vision and clear glass depending upon whether a rescuer was looking into dark or light spaces. The inventor achieved his goal by mounting an infrared camera with infrared transmitters onto the Moverio BT-100 platform.

As Eric demonstrated the night vision application, Annika O’Brien recognized a potential solution to a problem that she had been thinking about for a while. She told the group about a friend who suffered from Face Blindness, a condition that inhibits sufferers from being able to recognize other people’s faces. Annika asked if a combination camera+Moverio+facial recognition software might be able to help those with Face Blindness identify people as they approached.Trying on the night vision glasses that were built upon the Epson Moverio BT-100

The Makerati

I sat there admiring these fascinating people who represented a new breed of inventor: The Makerati. Rather than toiling individually in dank garages and basements, the Makerati work collaboratively through websites, chat rooms, coffee shops and hackerspaces.  Driven by interest, desire, and caring, they willingly invest their own time, money, and deprive themselves of sleep in order to make a difference in the world.

I’m looking forward to spending a little more time with them.


Last August, I wrote a post called The Value of a Retweet, where I performed an analysis of a NewBlue, Inc. marketing campaign that offered 1% storewide discounts for every retweet that the company’s messages received. Through the power of “the internets,” my analysis found its way to Lisa Girolamo, NewBlue’s VP Marketing, who left a comment on the post. That comment initiated a little online discussion between Lisa, me and reader David Jacobs, who wondered if NewBlue, Inc. would be willing to share the results of their campaign. Long story short, Lisa agreed; I exchanged contact information with her; and we entered into a series of interviews.

Although it has taken much longer than I would have liked, I am pleased to announce the release of my most recent case study called “Awesome August: How NewBlue Inc, used social media to increase sales and add new customers during its slowest month of the year.” Please feel free to download the case study and share it with your friends.

Lastly, I’d like to thank Lisa for her time, candor, and patience as this project dragged out much longer than I had expected.

Jan 2, 2013

I’ve come to accept the fact that professional communicators have short-term memories. In the past, I’d raise an eyebrow when some marketing or public relations person would scoff at a corporate video being viewed 350 times on YouTube. “Only?” I’d ask. Ah, how quickly we forget.

Less than eight years ago (when YouTube was founded in 2005), if a company wanted to distribute 350 videos, it had to record them (in standard definition), copy them onto magnetic tapes, package them, and then pay postage for each package sent. If each video cost $1.00 to copy and $1.00 to distribute, those 350 videos would cost $700 to deliver. At a variable cost of $2.00 per tape, every incremental video would cost the company additional money. Today, these same companies can record in high definition videos, upload them to YouTube, and then sit back and watch the service deliver them at no incremental cost per view.

This past fall, YouTube added an interesting new measurement to its Insights dashboard that helps put this “Zero Variable Cost” into perspective. The metric, called “Estimated Minutes Viewed,” demonstrates how many minutes people have spent watching video content. With only 24 hours in a day, this measurement reveals how much time your prospects and clients are loaning to you.

Consider the costs associated with a Superbowl commercial. According to Neilsen, last year’s rate sheet required advertisers to pay $100,000 per thirty-second spot to be seen by up to 111 million people. Assuming that all 111 million of these viewers decided to watch the ad rather than leaving the room to get more guacamole, viewer would have loaned 55 million minutes (916,000 hours) of their attention to the advertiser.

Yet, after 30 seconds, the experience would be over–finished as the audience’s attention was drawn elsewhere–either to another ad, back to the game, or more likely, back to the refrigerator for more guacamole.

Now consider an online video service like YouTube, where the video sits waiting to be viewed. Unlike the restrictions of a live sporting event like the SuperBowl, access to the content isn’t limited by time zone or time of day.

In the example above, we can see that between October 7th and the 13th, this company’s online video catalog was viewed 35,281 times. Until YouTube added timing information, this was all the information that content marketers had access to. However, we now have an alternative way to view the data by translating those 35,281 views into time invested by our viewers: 292,046 minutes (~4,800 hours) or 202 days 19 hours…for only one week!

But this number holds even greater meaning if one considers:

  • The week before, prospects and customers invested 3,800 of their hours to viewing the content
  • The week before that they loaned 3,550 hours
  • and the week before that, 35,000 views translated into 4,300 hours of loaned attention.

It’s important not to lose sight of the fact that:

  • digitized video stored in the cloud is a gift that keeps on giving.
  • corporate videos on video sharing sites continue to rack up more and more views as time goes on.
  • For every additional view, the total cost per view gets smaller.
  • The longer a video resides on a site, the more impressions it gets, and therefore the CPM goes down over time.

How much would you have to pay traditional media to average 4,000 hours of content viewed per week?

Filed under: Social Media