Walt Mossberg vs. Klout

Walt Mossberg

Let me start off by saying that I think Walt Mossberg, Tech columnist for The Wall Street Journal and co-executive editor of All Things D, is a brilliant tech journalist and I’ve admired him since I began reading the WSJ in college. This is not meant to be an against the man himself, just a conversation around the current state of journalism and word-of-mouth marketing.

Walt, and several others (like David Pogue of the New York Times), write and share for media outlets that reach a wide audience. Once in a while, I naturally stumble upon these outlet reviews within my Zite app or through Twitter or Facebook. But honestly, these journalists have to play to a wide audience and offer me very little in what I’m looking for.  I am interested in products that help me be more efficient in daily life as a 30-something tech professional who is often on the road, domestically and internationally. Sure, there may be some younger journalists at WSJ, All Things D, NY Times Bits, etc., but I organically and accidentally get my recommendations from my peers in person and on various social networks and aggregators like Zite. No publication can always be so precise.


I have never been an advocate for Klout, but they apparently they acted upon their statement in a conversation we had in 2011.

2011 Convo

Recently, Sony, via Klout, contacted me and nine others in the NYC area, to try out their new laptop, the Vaio Duo. The “perk” was that they would give us brand new Duos and fly us out, in a helicopter no less, to The Hamptons for a night. I bit. I was thinking, “I don’t know what my Klout score is but I know that it’s not high. This is something they only do for major players.” But then I started do some research and it appeared that the idea was to market this laptop to, well, professionals who travel.

Most of who were “perk’d” joked that there was someone we knew that had way more influence than we had.  Why us? As I started to get to know these other folks, I soon began to realize that we all had something in common: Travel.  Granted we all have a decent online footprint, but not massive audiences.

Frankly, I get asked by friends and family almost daily about tech products specific to their needs. “What laptop,/mobile/tablet/app/software/social network/eye apparatus/etc. should I get since I…..?”  In person, forget about it; I get my “brain picked” before I can ask about their kids, job or life. Through social networks, they know that I work in the tech industry and am often travelling around.

Our ages probably ranged from 25-40, but I can tell that all of us were that friend. Klout made it easy for Sony to find us. 

The Real Influencer?

What will determine what someone buys? Of course, it depends. While I’m sure that Sony reached out to the major media publications and the likes off Mossberg, Pogue and those from tech blogs, I think adding the combination of ads and other forms of top-down targeting along with this “middle-down”, specific approach will help get the word out about their product.

My friend, Lachlan, was visiting NYC on the Sunday I returned from The Hamptons. I told him about the trip and brought out the laptop from my overnight (I met him before going home) bag. He played around with it, looked at his wife and seriously stated, “THIS is exactly what I’ve been talking about. I need this.” It could have been a Klout AND Sony commercial.

There are 1000s out there like me and it’s now easy for the average joe to find one of us, that is looking for something very specific. I’m not saying that the tech writer is going the way of the newspaper photographer. But, I kind of am.

As for the Vaio Duo

I would NEVER have bought the Vaio. I’ve been a Mac and Google user for years and wouldn’t even consider purchasing Windows or Sony machine. This also appeared to be a trend among the others that Sony had selected.

Being a Mac fanboy since 2005, I had little expectations of working with Windows on a regular basis. The hardware has me using it daily though. It’s way too early to write a proper review on it, but I do love it so far. I keep finding myself touching the screen on my MacBook Air. I personally won’t be switching my life out of the Apple and Google ecosystems, but when friends ask about options, I now have an understanding of Sony products and a deeper knowledge of the benefits and drawbacks of Windows that I can confidently bring to the table.

The Sony Vaio Hamptons Crew list on Twitter. 
The Weirdest Gift Bag I’ve Ever Gotten
by Roni Weiss, who was also on trip.

@selfishmom WFH (Working From Helicopter) on Vaio


1,000 Nights Out On @foursquare – Why I’m Still An Advocate

Get me in person and I’ll go over several practical uses for the service. I won’t call it a social network, although it is, it doesn’t have to be. You can use it and NEVER share any of your data with outsiders all while using recommendations from others. Based on cumulative data, foursquare’s explore has collected enough data too accurately send me to a craft beer bar in the Village, a phenomenal hoagie shop in suburban Miami or lobster stand on the cliffs of Maine 20 miles from our campground. I imagine these would be recommended to a new user as well, but they were the top recommendation based on my historical data. I RARELY have a bad meal or go to a crappy place. (my profile)

Anyway, here’s three other practical uses, including using it as a personal journal, along with my fanboy rant:

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Where I hang in NYC according to my checkins:

(create your own map at http://www.wheredoyougo.net/)

The Historical and Sentimental Value of Geo-locating Photos
foursquare fiction  
5 foursquare practical uses (from 2010)

Bonus: Dennis Crowley, founder of Foursquare, gave me shout on Twitter after I requested a phone call.

Paid Music Service Comparison: Spotify, Rdio and Mog

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Spotify: The most users, but it with that attention it seems to be the one with the most artists pulling out or blocking (they may all be the same, but I don’t know)
Rdio: The best of the bunch for me. Make sure that you don’t pay the $15/month!
Mog: Under the radar. I like them, but the user experience needs much improvement.


Get (en)Rich(ed) Quick Using Social Media

This is me ranting to the webcam about what I usually rant about to people who have written off Twitter, foursquare and social media in general.  There are a plethora additional service that I could go on about, but Twitter and foursquare are good starters for those looking to get more out of social media than Facebook. I truly believe that these apps/services can enrichen our lives by knowing our preferences, interests and surrounding us with like-minded people.

Start with https://twitter.com/search if you’ve never used Twitter before or gave up on it.

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Leave Yourself Bread Crumbs

It’s only been a few days, but I’m already deeply hooked on 4sq&7yearsago. Sign up and enjoy blasts from the pasts!

UPDATE: 4sq&7yearsago is now Timehop and also includes Twitter, Facebook and Instagram in addition to foursquare: http://timehop.com/signup.

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This is a bit of a selfish way to leave bread crumbs, but also keep in mind that what we post can be found for who knows how many years.

Delete Angry Birds

Nothing against Rovio or Angry Birds, I just mean games in general. I approximately spend 400 hours a year on a train. Every day to and from work I see someone playing poker on their BlackBerry, Cut the Rope, or whatever the latest hot game is. Me? Every day I’m watching Ted Talks or reading the TechDygest app, my Twitter feed, my Kindle books, Flipboard headlines, or whatever else I can get to cache before I leave my house/office.  Compare their 400 hours of consumption vs. mine. You are what you eat?

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If you’re playing games in bed every night, STOP. I’m very guilty of doing this for a few weeks with Angry Birds last year. I felt so behind not only in my industry, but with my family life as well. If you are, then you probably haven’t stumbled to this no man’s land section of the internet.

To be fair, I do try all the extremely popular games out for the sake of conversation and knowing what the hotness is. And games do stretch the imagination and work the mind. Truth is that I love them, but I spent way too much time as a kid mastering Nintendo games instead of reading.

Those that have kids will not delete Angry Birds for obvious reasons…so they can watch football or Boardwalk Empire.

Consumption During “Leisure Time”

(originally posted on Google+)

Front Page of Zite

A few weeks ago, +Alan Berkson and I were discussing the new ways in which to consume content. I was explaining how the iPad has completely changed my habits during what many refer to as leisure time*. This topic has come up during conversations several times since, during what +Melissa Fudor (better half) refers to as my “iPad pitch”.

When there is nothing that I am specifically working on, I pick up Paddy (yes, we named our iPad) and head to either the Zite or FlipBoard app. After a months of using both, I have refined a really nice experience of creating my own newspaper /magazine of topics that are of interest to me in all types of facets. I’LL READ FOR HOURS. Like many, I like to read books, but rarely “have the time” to really dig in. However, on the iPad I find myself reading more than I EVER have in my life. Not only am I reading particular articles of interest, I am also flipping by hundreds of headline to keep me in the know of what’s happening in Tech, Collaboration, Online Journalism, New York, Photography, E2.0, Philadelphia Sports, etc. Time flies when you’re learning and staying informed…I mean, having fun.

Throw Away Your Television – For Real This Time

What is missing during my new love for reading is flipping through the channels as we don’t own a television. I love “TV” a much as the next guy and still regularly get my fix of Colbert, The Daily Show and Curb Your Enthusiasm via other iPad apps, but only on demand and at my convenience. Of course, I may be missing some fabulous shows that I hear about (My Gypsy Wedding and Whale Wars seem to be hot at the moment), but the time spent looking around for “something good” could better be spent on reading something good, in my honest opinion. We all know that we should read more, the iPad gives us that opportunity and makes it very enjoyable.

The only problem of not owning a television is when NFL season rolls around and I’m on the hunt for the Eagles game. It usually ends up driving me to a more social experience anyway. (Looking for fellow Eagle fans in NYC!)

Has your consumption habits changed since having an iPad? If so, how?
Or, are you on the fence of purchasing a tablet?

* “leisure time” I don’t like using that phrase, mostly because I believe work/personal separation is a relic of the Industrial Age, but that’s another discussion I am happy to dive into upon request.

FlipBoard Tech Section

5 Apps/Services Built on Foursquare’s API That I Use

Localmind – Ask someone who is checked-in a question. “Is there a long line at Rudy’s tonight?” or “Do you know what is a safe and reasonable way to get to Newark Airport form Manhattan for a tourist” (both questions that I’ve answered recently). I love this one and use it all the time. It makes me feel helpful, but also helps me find realtime info.

Don’tEatThere – Texts you if the place you check in to has a low health code rating. Helpful in NYC.

Bonapp – Texts you the most popular tip as soon as you check-in. Good when on a date and you don’t want spend time looking through 100 tips. Impress your date/friends by always ordering like a regular.

Look behind the text, you see that @Brett and I have mutual Facebook friends.

Sonar – Tells you who you are connected to via your your social graph. ie, “Joe Jones, a friend of your Facebook friend, Pete Peters, is also checked-in at X conference.” Currently it’s built more for Facebook of what I see. It’s a really nice ice-break when I meet someone and say, “Hey you’re friends with Joe Jones, how did you know him?”

Agora App (Gmail screenshot below)- A service like Sonar that sends you an email to show who else checked-in where you did and how many similar followers you have on Twitter. When I have time, I usually go through and follow those on the list as we’re likely to be connected in one way or another. It’s good for someone is new to a city as I connect to my fellow New Yorkers this way even though I’m new here.

Another cool one to keep an eye on is When Should I Visit. – This one is meant to tell you the best times (or least trafficked) to visit a museum based on the number of checkins by others. Imagine how else this data could be used for other industries.

Please Add Guest Wifi to Your Establishment/Event

This is actually Trotter

Let’s be honest, I’m a bit of snob when it comes to wifi being provided at an brick-and-mortar establishment:

“I’m not going to that bar, they don’t have wifi.”

“Excuse me sir/miss, what’s the password for your wifi?”

“Let’s FaceTime Trotter since he’s home with the kids tonight. We’ll put a beer next to the iPhone”

Since becoming a heavy tech user in 2009, I’ve lived in Boulder, Colorado, Toronto and New York City; all tech hubs with an abundance of wifi at local establishments. So, when I come across a place that does NOT have wifi, I’m honestly quick to suggest the party moves on. I’m not suggesting everyone be nose-deep in their devices the whole time, but it’s just convenient to have the capability to share photos in realtime and make a quick connection on a social network. We do this anyway, but it takes MUCH LONGER on 3g.

Missing Out On Publicity

The whole point of writing this is for that event co-cordinator, shop owner, pub manager to provide their customers and potential customers with wifi so they can get the word out where they are. “Should I buy this dress?”  “What about this top?!” is much easier to send to your social network on wifi over 3G. Most people with kids don’t frequent pubs as often as I do for obvious reasons. When they do go out, it’s usually going to be a place they heard about on Facebook that provided a good time to a night they missed out on. Give us the ability to share your great festival/antique shop/cricket match so that we can tell our friends and maybe influence them to come as well.

Where to Draw the Line?

This past Friday, Melissa and I went to the Upright Citizen’s Brigade to watch some improv comedy. I thought it was a great show and wanted to get the word out on their behalf.  I was unable to with no wifi and no 3g, but I think that it is intentional there. Being at a show such as that requires uninterrupted attention. How about a baseball game? Citizen’s Bank Park in Philadelphia does not have wifi and I know friends who usually post on Facebook aren’t because of slow data. Maybe it’s better that we just go somewhere and do what we’re intended to do.

Lights On – Lights Off

My suggestion to MLB stadiums: Lights On, Lights Out – Wifi available between innings and during breaks, but turned off during the action. Same goes for NFL and NBA and other sports that have constant commercial breaks. Maybe this could work at comedy shows and other entertainment venues?