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7 Trends I Won’t Miss in 2011, and a Resolution for the New Year

Matt Hurst and Lauren Reid pose for their holiday card from NYC in December 2010

It’s that time of year again, when we put into perspective our goals over the last year and look forward to renewing our efforts in the year ahead. While some media outlets and blogs might be content to share lists of top ideas and their favorites things (something my blog does each month), this year I feel compelled to share my hopes for the year ahead by reviewing trends from 2010 I would look forward to leaving behind. Here are the 7 Trends I won’t miss in 2011:

  1. Oversharing
    We all have a friend who uses every opportunity to promote themselves, seemingly with no limit to the minutia of their everyday life (I may be guilty of this more than once). But while you may think that your minor inconvenience is an outrage whose solution is only a Twitter-rant away, the rest of us see it as crying over spilled milk. Oversharing was at its end in 2009, so I hope this comes to an close in 2011.
  2. Food Trucks
    Sure they bring much needed affordable options and variety to an otherwise staid lunch scene in NYC, but mobile food vendors carry some strong negatives as well. Many trucks try to occupy the same spots each day and are about as mobile as a trailer home, which detracts local competition while crowding the sidewalks. Meanwhile their constant use turns would-be vendors into portable smokestacks contributing their greenhouse gases in return for any savings on food.
  3. Tea Partiers
    2009′s insurgent protectors turned into the populist political organizers that dominated the news by turning over control of congress in the 2010 elections. In 2011 these conservative ideologues will have put put their protests into actionable legislative efforts, which will undoubtedly involve negotiation and compromise on core principles, although I have my own doubts their party will continue much longer after the elections.
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December’s 7

Matthew Hurst's before and after from Movember 2010

It’s better to give than to receive, so each month I share a list of 7 worthwhile ideas currently influencing my perspective as my gift to you. As 2010 comes to a close, I’m reflecting on the year that was with a certain nostalgia, so I’m checking my list twice to find out which ideas are especially nice, or at least 12 worth sharing this December:

Blog: Gizmodo.  In addition to being my favorite geeky outlet for tech news over the past few years, Gizmodo is probably the best blog to read when picking out your gifts this holiday season.  And since we know that consumers are willing to spend more on electronics and tech this year, Gizmodo’s sharp analysis (and new rating system) are more important than ever.

Colleague: Ishmael Vasquez.  As a co-worker of mine at Blue Fountain Media earlier this year, I was able to experience first-hand Ishmael’s creativity and ability to use social media strategically as an online marketing professional.  He’s also a productivity master who is a pleasure to work together with, in addition to being able to put work and life into their propper perspective.  Personally I’m proud to call Ishmael a good friend of mine, especially since he’s one of the nicest people I’ve met in NYC (and fortunately, he’s pretty humble to boot).

Game: Angry Birds.  If you’ve played you know already, but for the uninitiated Angry Birds is an instant classic on par with Pac Man for the smartphone generation. The original is already on its way to becoming one of the best selling games of all time, spurring Halloween Costumes and fan Meetups alike in the process, and already has season sequels that are best sellers in the iOS and Android markets.  I think it’s an addictively fun game that will be around for awhile longer.

Group: Movember. Participating alongside my co-workers and mustachioed peers I was able to raise over $130 toward mens health issues while raising awareness about testicular and prostate cancer.  My mustache was a regular source of curiousity and discussion in my workplace, and an interview on Anthony’s blog as well as a point of pride for this folliclely-challenged young man.

Social Network: Facebook.  500 million strong and growing, in spite of numerous threats to leave the site due to privacy concerns.  The company continues to make smart acquisitions that build talent and leverage their position as the largest network to create innovative software that improves how we interact with our friends online and IRL.

Theory: Cord-cutting. Since moving to NYC in 2009 I’ve lived without cable TV, on a media diet of Netflix, Hulu, and over-the-air DTV via rabbit-ears antenna. Anecdotally I know lots more techies interested in changing their media consumption habits, mostly for cost cutting reasons, although despite what you read in the news it’s yet to become a widespread phenomenon.

Company/Agency: Blue Fountain Media.  This online marketing agency and website design company is a leader in creating results-driven websites that build businesses online.  This time last year BFM was willing to take a chance on me, and helped develop my skills as a social media manager into a full fledged SEO specialist. I was proud to call them my employer in 2010, and would easily refer them as the best in the business.

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Public Communication & Privacy on the Internet

Online Privacy described in a Venn Diagram

Infographic by Buriednexttoyou (via Flickr)

If your friends are like mine you’ve heard them complain all year-long that we’ve lost our private lives, sacrificing anonymity in the interest of advertising data.  Since the beginning of 2010 we’ve heard public figures and friends alike suggest it’s time to quit social media.  Culminating with the FTC’s policy recommendations about internet privacy, 2010 has been another marque year for privacy advocates.

Yet the internet has opened up new windows of insight into each others’ lives, connecting us closer with our friends and sometimes revealing new aspects of our personality between friends.  Often these ideas are shared in public channels, opening individuals to new connections, although others prefer to keep there information between friends alone.  For years there has been a backlash to protect privacy on the internet, but is an open medium paid for with advertising dollars ever truly private? (more…)

November’s 7

Matthew Hurst looking towards the Capitol along Pennsylvania Ave in DCEach month I share 7 ideas that have impacted my life over the last month.  In October I attended Oktoberfest in NYC, marched through Times Square with hundreds of others dressed like zombies, and returned to DC during the Rally to Restore Sanity.  Here’s a few notes of consequence in my life:

Blog: Wonkette has been a guilty-pleasure of mine the past two election cycles, with its tongue planted firmly in cheek.  This former-Gawker blog whose irreverent, sarcastic humor has a decidedly inside-the-beltway appeal yet still makes me LOL.

Film: 500 days of Summer. At times this film is reminiscent of the best French New Wave, almost like a sequel to 400 Blows if the protagonist grows up and moves to Los Angeles.

Meme: Rent is 2 Damn High. Jimmy McMillan stole the show at the NY governor’s debate, riding a wave of memorable one-liners that introduced this candidate to voters in every state of the union. While the candidate may have lost his election bid with less than 1% of the vote, his single-minded focus brought attention to a serious issue (housing costs) in an election dominated by Tea Parties.

Music: Charlotte Gainsbourg. On top of being an accomplished artist already, Charlotte had the good sense to reach out to Beck to produce her second solo effort. The result is claustrophobic imagery and jangled beats that build the atmosphere around story of it’s titular IRM and illness. Consider this Beck channeling Nico and Velvet Underground, making it a strong contender for Album of the Year in my book.

Social Network: Twitter. Most of Twitter’s users might not call it a social network, but that began to change this last month with a redesign that gave users an immersive experience interacting on-site with their own social graph.  Or at least Twitter has given us a new reason to use their microblog by adding insights between friends, finally giving me a reason to use their service on Twitter.com rather than any number of external tools.

Theory: Measured Life. Without realizing it, I create a mountain of data everyday; from energy usage and water consumption to daily check-ins on Foursquare.  Even though my day job is very much about measurement, I’ve only begun to leverage the insight new tools have to improve my life.  Call it Better Living Through Measurement, and I’ll be writing more about this soon.

TV Show: Community. I’ve been a fan if Dan Harmon since his Channel 101 days, and I couldn’t be more thrilled to see his rapier wit on Network television.  For the uninitiated, this sitcom depicts a study group of misfits at a local college, who play out some common sitcom themes.  Needless to say, I LOL watching this show.

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Social contract: How social media increases civic engagement

Matthew Hurst sits on the Capitol Steps in Washington, DC
By now we know that the internet has changed political communication, offering new platforms for political candidates, citizen journalists, and advocates alike to share their ideas in this uniquely democratic forum.  Yet many others have noted this rhetoric has turned increasingly polarized, especially as partisans share news from self-selected sources like blogs which affirm their own ideas without seeking to represent both sides equally.  Even with increasing turnout the last few election cycles, the question remains: Is the internet good or harmful for democracy?

Last weekend I attended the Rally to Restore Sanity in Washington, DC, alongside thousands of other patriotic citizens who shared a disdain for divisive rhetoric that seems so pervasive in American newsmedia.  While at first it’s easy to assume that ideologically driven blogs only reinforce this divisiveness, many I spoke with said they were encouraged to attend the relatively apolitical rally because of  what they read on the internet.  The event built up anticipation and interaction through countless platforms: using Facebook events, Twitter accounts, photo contests, event microsites, an iPhone app, and of course their TV shows’ website to promote the rally.  It seemed as if the rally was everywhere, effectively turning every channel of communication online and off into another soapbox its advocates could recruit their friends, myself included.

Even among those who would ordinarily be silenced by divisive rhetoric common to political blogs, this rally established the value of using the internet to spark civic participation among many who would ordinarily have become disengaged.  In the past organizations like Rock the Vote successfully engaged young voters, but it seems social media has increased civic participation exhibited the last few election cycles.  It got me thinking of all the tools at our disposal this election: (more…)

Blog Action Day 2010: Measuring the impact of Water use

Bottled Water Bar in Chicago's Museum of Science & IndustryWater is one of those things we never notice unless it’s unavailable. Sure I’ve been known brag about my hometown’s great tap water and am known to enjoy tasty beverages made from this resource, but besides the occasional outage I rarely consider it’s impact on my everyday life.  Yet for millions of people, access to clean, safe drinking water is not available, even if the solutions to this basic Human Right are simple.

As long as Water is a finite resource with limited availability to many, we should conserve this natural resource while increasing access to those who deserve our help. When I was writing my Master’s thesis on Energy Conservation (and last year’s Blog Action Day post), I had water in mind as well because it is another resource subject to increasing demand and inefficient use we take for granted in the United States.  Among my findings were that consumers were best encouraged to improve their usage of a resource when they have concrete examples of steps they can take to reduce their consumption (and the tools to measure them).

To better understand this issue, here’s a few ways to measure how we use Water everyday: (more…)

October’s 10

Matthew Hurst riding on a boat by Lower Manhattan, New York City

In the last month I’ve begun new endeavors, publishing my first major Press Release and attending AdWeek as representative of my new employers. You could say I’m on a roll, so In celebration of 10.10.10 here are the Top 10 ideas shaping my life over the last month.

Blog: Mashable. I read Mashable every day because it is the best source of current news on social media and online marketing, period. When Facebook was down this month I looked to them for the first to explanation of what was happening and why. Ditto on Foursquare and Twitter. It’s become such an obsession of mine a friend recently asked “when did you become the Mashable promoter?”. Thanks to Pete Cashmore and company for giving me something to look forward to reading everyday.

Colleague: Sean Ludwig. I want to recommend Sean because he’s a talented journalist and writer with in-depth knowledge of technology (especially mobile) and experience using social media.

Film: The Social Network. As a Film Studies major and Communications grad, I think I’m qualified to say this film lives up to the hype. Audiences should already be aware that the film is not biographical, and I like it better that way; their writers created dramatic (if oversimplified) characters who would make this film enjoyable to anyone, even if they’ve never used Facebook (including Mr. Sorkin). In other words, Mark Zuckerberg is going to become the Bud Fox of this generation; see this movie and bring a Friend.

Meme: Rally to Restore Sanity. I plan on attending this satirical event, organized by the producers of The Daily Show and Colbert Report, at the end of this month. Establishing once again my own zealousness towards this radically irrelevant television program, I’m looking forward to renewing irony in DC. Hopefully with thousands of other friends of rational discussion. (more…)

Brooklyn Skillshare returns!


Because education doesn’t end after you graduate, last year I attended a day-long series of workshops during the first annual Brooklyn Skillshare. There I learned how to brew Kombucha Tea, an experience I speak about 0:30 seconds into this video filmed at last year’s event. That same curiosity to learn from my neighbors has me excited for this year’s Skillshare event, which will take place this upcoming weekend.

Bringing out the best talent and knowledge from around the borough (my new home at the time), the 2009 Brooklyn Skillshare (BKSS) focused on sharing knowledge for the purpose of community building rather than merely professional development. Organized by individuals who understand that learning happens best in a social context, these event demonstrate the motivation for adults when they learn from their peers. After all, Brooklyn is well-known to be populated by creative souls with talent and knowledge to match, which would ordinarily be lost if individuals kept these talents to themselves. (more…)

September’s 7

Matthew Hurst inspects artwork based on the DC metro transit map
Every month I share a short list of ideas that I think deserve recognition, or at least have some currency in my own sphere of influence .  It’s been a little while since I shared my latest influences, so I’ve included an extra thought this month I hope will introduce you to something worthwhile.

App: Chump Dump. I admit that I have a problem: too many friends and followers on Twitter to keep tabs on those who’s ideas I care about the most. This app should help me attain a better balance (or at least a lower ratio) by helping me loose random twitter followers, particularly those most prolific narcissists currently clogging up my Twitter stream.

Blog: Wonkette. With Election season in full swing, I’ve become a daily reader once again of this DC-based liberal rag with its tongue planted firmly in cheek. Sarcasm runs thickly through each post, pulling together the best (and most embarrassing) news clips from around the blogosphere to add their irreverent take on our nation’s partisan political dysfunction.

Film: Scott Pilgrim vs The World. Comic books, video games, rock and roll; what’s not to love in this romantic comedy? Of course it’s geeky, so I love it.

Meme: Check-in Fatigue. As an early adopter of location-based social media, I’ve been anticipating the growth and inevitable backlash against these platforms as they mature. It’s interesting to watch my friends walk through the same curiosity, excitement, and disappointment as these services start to become adopted by the mainstream, most recently Facebook.  What was first a fun, new way to connect with friends and meet people has grown into an all-consuming competition that frustrates new users with legitimate privacy issues.  Of course I’ll still be playing along, so don’t hate the players (hate the game). (more…)

Links with Your Coffee: News and Notes from Matthew Hurst

Watch live streaming video from smw_newyork at livestream.com

At IDEO’s Humanizing Social Media event in February 2010, we explored the implications of social media on interpersonal communication. Rather than perpetuating the discussion of case studies and e-commerce during Social Media Week, this social experiment left us questioning how the communications shifts have impacted the way we develop new friendships online. Our cellphones were left at the front door and we exchanged our clothes for a plain white t-shirt affixed with buttons which carried tags that describe ourselves, like “blogger” and “geek” in my own case.

It was an thought provoking exercise, and now I can  finally share the results from this experiment with you.  We had a great night at this event, so much that I was awarded the honor of “Person with whom you’d most like to stranded on a desert island with”!  Look for yours truly to take a staring turn during the panel discussions, as captured in this video.

A little further news and notes not quite long enough to warrant a blog post of their own: (more…)

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