Oya Attends the Crunchies Awards

It has become a tradition to welcome the new year by attending the Crunchies Awards hosted by TechCrunch. Clearly in competition this year with attracting an audience that might otherwise be at CES, the ceremony welcomed Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerburg, Google’s VP of Engineering Vic Gundotra, Linkin Park vocalist Mike Shinoda (he has an app), Zynga CEO Mark Pincus, the fabulous entertainers the Richter Scales, and many others.

The annual event, featuring on stage interviews by TechCrunch founder and blogger Michael Arrington, acknowledges the success and efforts of internet and tech industry startups. The award categories include best apps (mobile, social, internet), tech achievement, bootstrapped startup, international startup, design, enterprise, clean tech, PR, VC firm, Angels, new gadget, founder, CEO, and best overall startup. Facebook has dominated the CEO, founder, and overall startup categories for the last 3 years, leaving some questioning what a startup actually means today.

Although the event is into its third year now, the ceremony continues to create a reputation of being unorganized and terribly casual. Music abruptly turning on and shutting off, losing presenters back stage, dead air, mics not turned on (or off), slides skipping forward to reveal the winner for a split second before even being announced, titles on the slides that can hardly be read, and so on. Many jabs were taken at this tragedy by presenters, award winners, and even the hosts. While Mike Shinoda (Linkin Park… does anyone else struggle with calling it Linkin and not LinkedIn?) was preparing to announce the winner of the award for best new gadget, he muttered “I have been to a lot of award shows and I just want to give you guys a little kudos for your production value today. I think it should be noted that any one of the nominees here tonight could probably buy the VMAs ten times over. It’s nice to see you guys are keeping it modest”. The crowd’s chuckle confirmed his observation.

Despite desperately needing a stage manager and presentation designer, the awards ceremony has become an event that the tech industry looks forward to each year. It’s a chance to step out from behind the virtual curtain and mingle with the people who create the gadgets, networks, communities, and internet phenomenons. And, if that doesn’t interest you, there’s plenty of food, drinks, music, and photo opportunities at the after party.

See you next year.

Find out who the winners are.

Watch footage from the event.

View photos from the event.

Check out Oya’s photos from the event.

How Tablets Could Influence Online Marketing

Rumors of this year’s new electronic devices are bubbling as the first week of a new year wakes up from a light doze. Google phones (Nexus One just announced), a possible Apple tablet (Apple Mobility event Jan 27th), and more eReaders (Barnes & Noble nook just won Best New Gadget award at the Crunchies). With every new device comes a new channel of communication and marketers have to adapt to that. Will there be new marketing opportunities? Will it spark a new media trend? Will it support interactive technology like Flash? Will we be ready for it?

When considering the potential of the rumored tablet devices, sites like Hulu, Fox, TED, and other video broadcasters could gain a lot of ground. If these tablets have Wi-Fi, it will be a nice viewing alternative to small mobile screens and heavy laptops. It could also mean a drastic increase in traffic to video sites, which will attract more ad traffic (though I’ll miss my 0-30 sec commercial breaks). This will create a new way of thinking about video and advertising. Commercials you can interact with (that is, if it plays Flash!). Mix that with the technology to pin point the user’s location and demographic, and the local bakery could have its own digital TV commercial.

This sounds great, but if we’re talking about a device created by Apple, we have to question if they’ll go down the internet path (Hulu) or stick to their iTunes media model (pay for and download movies, music, TV, etc.)? Some fresh rumors are Google is working on their own tablet, so competing with an internet maven will be risky.

I’ll be interested to see where this goes. I think my forecast is that Apple will continue to be the well managed ‘friendly at a price’ device and Google will be the internet ‘here are a million free books, songs, and videos but you have to view these ads’ device.

Regardless, I believe a surge in micro video production mixed with interactive programming is on the horizon. But, will the tablets play Flash?

Experience Your Own (Online) Death

There has been a lot of conversation recently–both online and off–about the coming demise of social networks (especially Twitter, which seems to be a favorite target these days). It’s amazing how our online lives have accelerated the pace of uncyber lives; the pace of the Twitter fad uptake, and then the fall in its perception, is a great example. Not only are famous people leaving the service, they are posting YouTube videos about it.

From all of the early hype about how SM will connect people at “deeper” level, and some online conversations about how SM is going to change the “brand ecosystem’ (whatever that is), it seems that a lot of people are discovering that SM isn’t living up to the hype. Some people are feeling both overexposed, intruded upon, and time-deprived. I wonder if what’s really at the root of this is the “apparent” connection that SM brings to people–the perception that you’re connecting when you’re really just sitting in front of your computer (or mobile device or whatever)–is perhaps getting old. People seem to miss the real connection with real people–who you can actually see, feel, and talk to.

And now, comes this; the social media suicide machine. One place where you can delete your entire SM life, from Twitter to Facebook to LinkedIn. And, btw, the video on it is hysterical. When I first heard about it, I thought that it was a clever diversion but then…Facebook refused entry to the suicide machine servers.

What? Really? From the people who promote the freedom that SM brings? Refusing access because they don’t like what the service does? Are they now going to start removing posts about how users are starting to dislike SM, too? Am I the only one who senses a level of hypocrisy?

Is this following a typical pattern? First early adopters, then a big fad, then The Plunge.

Perhaps, we’re all learning that SM is neither the communications the panacea nor evil incarnate, but that it has it’s place in the overall communications infrastructure we’re all learning to utilize. Does it sound kinda like email a few years ago? I think so.

Search Off the Web

As computers find their way further into our daily lives, the skills that many of us are developing are becoming vital for things beyond just searching the web. Take this recent post from e-consultancy, where the writer does his best to attempt to check out a bunch of fennel from a local supermarket.

Now, were this the web, any number of professionals could have created an interface and user experience where this kind of thing would be easy. So, one has to wonder, “what’s the deal here?” Why haven’t the manufacturers of these self check out stands learned the lessons that are already so familiar to those of us with some time designing web interfaces?

If any of us did anything like this on our client’s websites, we would have hotly angry clients pounding on our desks–and deservedly so!

Perhaps the lesson here is that the lessons we have learned from developing web interfaces and user experiences aren’t as common as us web-bound types think. Perhaps, the world is yearning to learn those lessons we have so heartily accumulated over the past years.

Perhaps, as the writer implies, there are burgeoning careers waiting out there for those of us who are brave enough to pioneer into new domains.

But…leave the internet behind?  Come on!…