What does the Cheesecake Factory have to do with Healthcare?

What does the Cheesecake Factory have to do with Healthcare?

Healthcare, Big Medicine, The Cheescake Factory

Medicine has long resisted the productivity revolutions that transformed other industries. But the new chains aim to change this.

Last month I attended a panel discussion on the future of healthcare. The event was sponsored by the local University of Michigan Alumni group and I was invited as a member of the Dallas Business Club (MBA group).

In addition to the thought provoking presentation and Q&A time, I noted two resources worth reading.

1. An article in The New Yorker, Big Med, How restaurant chains have managed to combine quality control, cost control, and innovation. Can health care? by Atul Gawande

 2. A Book: The Innovator’s Prescription: A Disruptive Solution for Health Care by Clayton Christensen, Jerome Grossman MD and Jason Hwang MD.

I look forward to reading your thoughts and comments on these resources and the general topic of the Healthcare system in the US.

The Last Inch: A White Paper on the Man-Machine Interface

Please welcome my business associate Dennis Cagan as a guest Blogger. I find his white paper intriguing and hope you do too.

The Last Inch

A White Paper on the New Frontier in Man-Machine Interface.

by Dennis Cagan

Most people in the technology industry, particularly the telecommunications sector, are familiar with the term “The Last Mile.” Wikipedia defines it as “the final leg of delivering connectivity from a communications provider to a customer. The phrase is therefore often used by the telecommunications and cable television industries. The actual distance of this leg may be considerably more than a mile, especially in rural areas.”

Today, as technology becomes more and more ubiquitous, as electronic communications devices become more and more personal and smaller, and as the applications that are delivered become increasingly granular and specific, “the last mile” ceases to adequately define the final leg of delivering the information, productivity, convenience, or entertainment to a customer – the end user. The Last Mile refers only to the connectivity to a premise, to a fixed physical location. Everyone now knows that the user does not remain there in one place – home or office – for long. A dizzying array of smart phone and tablet products are the instruments that actually transport the application to the user’s eye, ear, mouth – and yes, their fingertips.

This trend is rapidly accelerating. The dynamic nature of the constant advances in hardware devices and mobile operating systems, the enormous variety and depth in application functionality, and the revolution in mobile deployment of social media networks has completely obsoleted the concept of The Last Mile. This leads us to suggest updating the metaphor to “The Last Inch”. As we define it, The Last Inch represents the final distance linking the end user to the technology.  This last gap is closed by a combination of connectivity, mobile device hardware, software – OS (iOS, Android, Blackberry, Windows Mobile) and application, and the user interface.

the New Frontier in Man-Machine Interface by Dennis Cagan with J.R. Atkins

The entire mobility field, from global infrastructure to hand-held products to hundreds of thousands of “apps”, is arguably a new frontier in technology.  Never have all the elements of computing and automation individually and collectively changed so rapidly and continuously over time. As an example, traditional software development for mainframes, mini computers and personal computers was usually a larger expensive project. The development cycles could be measured in years. The revision cycles could also be annual or bi-annual.

Mobile apps have spun that model around. If you take the aggregate effects of new versions and updates to devices, operating, systems, cellular infrastructures and social network platforms, mobility applications potentially need revision on a daily basis, and the development should be considered continuous.

The Last Inch, mobility specifically, truly closes the final gap and creates a new paradigm in the man-machine interface. Devices will undoubtedly get even smaller, possibly even surgically imbedded under the skin behind your ear. However, even anticipating this “Last Micron”, it will be a long time before the characteristics of the technology phase labeled here as The Last Inch will itself become obsolete.

“The Last Inch” is a pending TM of Caganco Incorporated.

The BeanCast talks about Mobile

Author J.R. Atkins recommends Bob Knorpp and the BeanCastMeet my friend Bob Knorpp. Bob produces a podcast that is recorded on Sunday nights and released every Monday covering current topics in Marketing, Advertising, Sales, Technology, New Media, Design … you get it, all the cool and fun things. In episode 211 “Everyone else is Lying” you will hear some discussion on Mobile Apps that I hope you find interesting and informative. Click on the link below, listen and let me know what you think.



Dallas Speaker J.R. Atkins likes the BeanCast

The Dallas Startup Scene

Author of Success Simplified J.R. Atkins is a fan of Startup DFWMy friends and I often lament because Dallas does not get the attention and press for a Startup community like Silicon Valley, Boston or event Austin. One reason could be because we are so spread out and another could be because not enough people know what is going on in the Dallas Startup community. Over the last few years I have been consulting on a few Startups and have observed many Dallas startups, so I thought I would mention a few sources for information, funding, incubators and current startups.

In March, I traveled to South by Southwest (SXSW) in Austin, to specifically observe the Startup activities. One floor of meeting rooms in the Hilton Hotel was dedicated to Startups and on Thursday night before SXSW began there was a “Startup Crawl” or a tour of some 50+ Austin based Startups. I’d like to see us do this in Dallas but we’d need buses to haul us around town.

While in Austin, I got to know the people with “Startup America” a kind of clearing house for information and resources for Startups. We have a local group called Startup Texas that is part of the national group. As it grows we will see more localized “chapters” such as Startup Dallas.

Tech Wildcatters has been named one of the Top 15 Incubators/Accelerators in the US and serves as “a mentorship-driven microseed fund and startup accelerator.” Tech Wildcatters companies receive $10K per company and an additional $5K per founder, up to a total of $25K. You can learn more at the FAQ section of their website. A few of the Startups that have been through the program include Proxomo, MemoryReel, and RentSavey.

J.R. Atkins consultatn to Startups for Marketing likes TechCocktailsTech Cocktail “is a literal “cocktail” of emerging technology and startup events, news, resources and reports for the entrepreneurial minded, tech enthusiast.            “ In May, Tech Cocktail came to Dallas and hosted a Startup showcase at Tech Wildcatters. Here are a few of the Startup companies I visited with at the event:

Rethink Books “is a technology company focused on helping readers buy, interact, and share more books.” Or as I like to say, as you read a book on a tablet, you can interact with others on your social networks, the author or other readers; a real interactive experience. I met the co-founder Jason Illian in 2010 at a kick-off event at the Park Cities Club and have been watching the company and platform grow and mature. The product is solid and the publishing industry is slowly coming around. This is a good company to keep your eye on.

Blurtt is an iPhone App that allows you to share pictures with funny captions. Or put another way, Blurtt helps you add images to your messages to better express yourself. I met the co-founder, Jeanette Cajide, in 2010 and have watched the App go from concept to full function. Check out the Tech Crunch interview with Janette.

Mobile App Consultant J.R. Atkins likes the Meta Watch platformMeta Watch is a watch “platform” that can connect to any Bluetooth enabled device. It has a similar appeal as my iPod Nano I wear in a LunaTik watchband. The difference, the Nano does not have an open API and you have to press a button to see the time and other functions. Meta Watch highlights the “touch free” access to time and more. Meta Watch is also a development system that allows developers to quickly and easily extend the interfaces of devices and applications to the wrist. CEO Bill Geiser is proud to point out the Meta Watch works with both iOS and Android mobile phone platforms.

Clubster is a social networking platform for private clubs. This timely App serves the elite and private person very well as they too want to share and communicate using social media but they do not want the details of their life spread beyond their intimate friends and associates. COO William King says they have set up several clubs and are looking for more.

Climapak, by Kewl Innovations, is a portable temperature control device for carrying insulin. As a diabetic, I know how hard it is to be compliant with your insulin regiment when you need to carry insulin with you all the time. The heat and cold can ruin the insulin. Founder and Chairman, Mike Wilkinson, saw the need and was committed to bring the product to market.

Qwigg is a social sharing site designed with the restaurateur or retailer in mind. It is so simple to use: snap a picture, post a price, and share on Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites. When someone comes in for the advertised special, complete the transaction. Simple and effective. In time, the restaurateur or retailer can see metrics and track the effectiveness of different specials. Co-founder Jack Wrigley’s  goal is to start with a tool that is simple and delivers results for his customers. “Once they see the results, they are willing to learn more about the details; until then, they are too busy running their business.”

Fancorps is a word of mouth marketing platform using social media. It works for big or small companies and brands. “Fancorps brings structure, performance tracking & actionable guidance to today’s stream of social media, which has become even more important than traditional marketing.” CEO and co-founder G.I. Sanders  tells me that “Fancorps has been used across all facets of social media, for focus groups and survey feedback, consumer product reviews and recommendations, live events, and virtually anywhere else a valuable impression is needed.”

Social Media speaker J.R. Atkins like BookShout book platformGravity Centre “is a place for Entrepreneurs in the Dallas Metro area to have the tools necessary for success, and to enable an ecosystem of incredible Startups that are impactful and relevant globally.” You can rent permanent spaces for full-time residents are available or flexible office spaces are available for the drop-in types; gain access to world-class technology, devices and resources that will help your Startup and product become successful. Jennifer Conley, the Director of Operations, says “Gravity Center community is made up of early-stage startup companies, innovators, investors, mentors and Universities. Housing more than 20 startups since its opening, the incubator has produced a significant number of entrepreneurs and developers who actively participate and engage with key sponsors.”

Co-Habitat Dallas is a co-working space for developers, creatives and entrepreneurs. As co-founder Blake Burris puts it “We’ve got great coffee, Wi-Fi, a variety of workspaces and best of all, a vibrant community of creative thinkers, coders, designers, and entrepreneurs.”                                                                                                                               

Events worth Considering

A Pepsi Branded Version of the Pulse News App

Mobile App consultant J.R. Atkins uses a Galaxy Tab from T-MobileI have been using the Pulse News App on my Android Tablet, a Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.0 from T-Mobile, to find and read top news stories as well as specialty news for my industry of social media, mobile apps and marketing. So, when I say the article below, in The Co. Create Newsletter, about Pepsi Branding their own version of Pulse, I had to share it. To me, this is a creative branding move in the world of Mobile Apps, similar to Angry Birds producing a Rio version of the game to go along with the release of the 20th Century Fox Movie. I expect this to continue as a trend for monetizing Mobile Apps and energizing brands. What do you think?

Original Post: Pepsi Launches First Global Campaign “Live For Now” With New Social Platform, Pulse

By: Joe Berkowitz

Mobile App consultant J.R. Atkins comments on Pepsi PulseCentered around pop culture and entertainment, Pepsi is launching its first global positioning in an effort to connect with “the Now Culture.”

Pepsi has launched its first global campaign around the theme of “Live for Now,” both a rallying cry and a spirit the company hopes to embody with a pop-culture-focused campaign.

Based on extensive global research with thousands of fans, “Live for Now” launches in the U.S. May 7 and will be centered around a major new social and content curation platform, Pepsi Pulse.

“Live for Now” came out of “the desire to build a global positioning for our flagship brand Pepsi,” says president, global enjoyment, brands, and chief creative officer of PepsiCo, Brad Jakeman. “It’s the culmination of 9 months of work around the world to understand the unique place that Pepsi already owns in people’s hearts and minds.” Jakeman says the research revolved around finding out how Pepsi “loyalists” defined themselves, and he says that what emerged as a theme was “the notion of making the most of every moment.” Now that’s being translated into an overall global campaign statement, one anchored by the ambitious new social platform, Pulse.

An extension of a tool launched last fall, Pepsi Pulse marks an ambitious foray into social and also a brand-wide re-emphasis on pop culture and entertainment, long a Pepsi staple. “It’s not enough for a brand to just say something, they also have to live it,” says Shiv Singh, global head of digital at Pepsi Co. In the spirit of what the company is calling the Now Culture, the HTML5-powered Pepsi Pulse will provide engaging aggregated content for users, with immediacy and interactivity.

Pepsi Pulse serves as a “dashboard of pop culture,” curated by Pepsi, pulling pictures, tweets, and news items from premium content sources, filtered by social ranking, to gather the top 10 stories at any given moment. Users will also be able to organize content around categories such as music, design, and sports.

Aside from producing these pop-culture cheat sheets, the site will also livestream concerts and feature an interactive component, with challenges from musicians and celebrities like Nicki Minaj who have endorsement deals with Pepsi. Nicki Minaj, for instance, might ask her 10 million Twitter followers to send her pictures of their alter egos (hers is called Roman Zolanski), which will then be displayed on Pepsi Pulse.

The brand has been moving toward beyond-advertising social efforts for the last several years, starting with the Refresh Project in 2010, which allocated $20 million in grants to causes generated by users online. Last fall, Pepsi introduced a social site called Pepsi Sound Off tied into Simon Cowell’s reality singing competition show, The X-Factor. Created to foster a co-viewing or social TV experience, and modeled after Twitter, Sound Off provided fans of the show a chance to interact with each other, and with the show itself, by posting comments in a stream, and promoting other people’s comments. Those that received the most “likes” would end up featured in custom 15-second spots running during the show.

 Pepsi Pulse App discussed by J.R. Atkins Mobile App & Marketing Consultant

Pulse is an extension of the platform and embodies the marketing shift from ad messaging to continuous engagement. Pepsi CMO Simon Lowden says that the development of the platform reflects the importance of connecting with audiences across all platforms and the acknowledgement that divisions between things like media, ads, and technology are ad industry constructs that have little relevance to the way consumers actually behave. He also notes that Pulse makes the most of Pepsi’s heft when it comes to culture-based assets–whether that’s its longtime sponsorship of the NFL or its relationship to musical artists. “We now have a platform to leverage that work,” says Lowden.

Pulse is launching in beta now and Lowden says over time the brand will build in other features, like geo-targeting and special offers with selected partners that focus on “how to make the most of now.” Partnerships will include those with daily-deals sites to promote special events across the U.S. Pulse will live at its own web destination as well as on the Pepsi home page.

The global campaign and platform also represents a new approach for Pepsi in terms of how it works with its creative partners. The brand has worked for some time with agency TBWA\Chiat\Day L.A. in the U.S. and CLM BBDO on international business; the team on the Live For Now project included people from both of those agencies as well as those from other Omnicom-owned agencies, including digital shop Organic and media entity OMD. “We curated this team of the best of Omnicom talent, cross functionally,” says Jakeman. “Where advertising and digital and media and sales promotion worked together really across the board. The goal was to develop something that was immersive and not just an ad.” Jakeman says the brand is in the process of working with Omnicom “to figure out how to codify that into a more formal situation.”

The first “Live for Now” ad will appear across the U.S. on May 7 and will feature Nicki Minaj’s song “Moment 4 Life” and Minaj herself in a cameo.

The Rise of Global Business

Are you engaged in Global Business? According to USLegal.com “Global business refers to international trade … a company doing business across the world.” With today’s technology, open access to information and contacts via Social Media, every business can engage in Global Business.

Looking back on history one can see how the lack of technology and relationship slowed an organization’s global expansion. Many companies were limited to their local geography to conduct business but today, most barriers have been removed or reduced. Let’s take a look at a few:

  1. Transportation – As the cost to drive, fly or ship people and goods decreased, more organizations could reach beyond their local borders.
  2. Communication – The Telecom boom of the 1990’s expanded capacity to talk and send data cheaply anywhere in the world. Then came Video, Skype, and Smartphone expansion. With our Smartphone we can access anyone, anywhere, anytime.
  3. Author, Speaker, Consultant J.R. Atkins references the World is FlatInformation Access – Thomas Freedman writes about the “Uploading” (flattener #4) of information in his book The World is Flat. We now have the information of the world in the palm of our hand. “Not knowing” is no longer an excuse.
  4. Relationship Access – With the development of Social Networks it is easier to identify, connect and build relationships with people of other lands. Prior to my last trip to the Middle East, I was able to set 5 meetings with new contacts from LinkedIn and Facebook. After meeting them in person, we continue to build our relationship through email, Skype and Facebook. See a related article by Alana Muller President of Kauffman FastTrac, created by the Kauffman Foundation.
  5. More ways to get Paid: EBay (Entrepreneur), Amazon (Wikipedia), PayPal (Overseas selling guide), and Square (comparison by HubPages) provide 4 additional ways to exchange value for currency and the cost of these transaction has decreased as well.
  6. Where is Value built: During the industrial revolution, value was built in the factory. Today, value is built with the licensing of Intellectual Property (Inc.), on-line, in the cloud, with virtual relationships, using technology and by knowledge workers.
  7. The Rise of the virtual organization: Co-workers no longer have to be in the same room, building, floor, city, county, country, or time zone. This means that your next great hire can come from anywhere and this may help you uncover global markets as well. Why not hire a developer in a country that you would like to expand? A good example of a virtual company is 37 Signals, maker of such products as Basecamp, Highrise, Backpack & Campfire (I like the outdoor names). They have succeeded as a virtual company where other non-virtual companies have struggled (i.e. Microsoft)

Still, with technology and access, you may be concerned about your own Cultural Awareness. Someone’s cultural awareness is their understanding of the differences between themselves and people from other countries or other backgrounds, especially differences in attitudes and values. Here are three ideas I have used to improve my own cultural awareness:

  1. Someone from there is already here – I look for foreign nationals, refugees, foreign dignitaries and others who have recently arrived from another country I am seeking to learn about.
  2. On-line help – Before traveling to the West Bank of Israel, I watched 28 videos from TEDxRamallah.
  3. Go and see – It is cheaper and easier to get to other countries than it used to be. Go and see for yourself.
  4. Get professional help – I have engaged university professors (Dr Robert Hunt) and other professionals (CI Cultural Intelligence) to help me overcome my own misconceptions.

My perception is that any business can have a global outlook if they choose. A hair salon can become globally oriented by saying so on their website, building relationships with global travelers and opening up communication channels such as Skype. What about your business; can you be a Global business today? Instead of a mammoth multinational corporation could you be a micro global business?

I look forward to reading your thoughts on the comment section of my blog (see below).


Events Worthy of your Consideration

Can Success be Simplified?

Success Simplified by Steven Covey, J.R. Atkins, Tony Alessandra & Patricia FrippIn the book Success Simplified by Insight Publishing, several authors, strive to cut through clutter and identify strategies and steps to help us all succeed. I took a look through the book and identified a few ideas and quotes worth sharing.

In chapter 2, Dr Stephen R Covey talks about how many organizations are using “the industrial model in an information age” meaning the J.R. Atkins & Stephen Covey wrote Success Simplifiedmachine was the main asset of the industrial era. “The new asset is intellectual and social capital – the qualities of people and the quality of the relationships they have with each other.” He goes on to say that “the industrial model does not work in an information age. It requires a focus on new wealth, not capital and materials.” Yet, think of how many of our analogies and structures stem from the industrial days? (p22).

In chapter 6, J.R. Atkins (me) provides information and strategies for leaders so they can make sense of social media and learn how it can be applied to their organization. Of the hundreds of social media tools and networks available, I point to The Big 5 of Social Media: LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Blogging and Video. Google+ may succeed in becoming #6 but the jury is still out on that verdict. With one or more of the Big 5, an organization can share content, listen to customers, create a community, build relationships of trust and build business. “In a broad since, there are generally 3 ways a business can use social media: (1) Marketing (2) Customer Service (3) Employee/Partner Communication. “In addition to these, social media also helps you search engine optimization or SEO. (p92)

In chapter 9, Patricia Fripp discusses “How to Get Ahead and Stay There” by becoming a better speaker. At age 20 she arrived in America as a hair stylist and $500. After becoming very successful as a hair stylist in Hollywood, she began speaking and became an award winning, accomplished member of the National Speakers Association. Patricia says there is nothing that an executive and leaders should focus on more than being able to communicate their ideas and their passions. (p147)

In chapter 16, Dr Tony Alessandra talks about using the Platinum Rule: Do unto others as they would have you do unto them. In other words, treat people the way they would like to be treated. (Tony owns the trade mark on the Platinum rule). He is also big on assessments. Check out his website: www.AssessmentBusinessCenter.com where Tony has over 25 different tools to measure skills such as EQ – Emotional Quotient, CQ – Cultural Quotient, Leaderships Style, Social Style and more. (p245)

My hope is that these few simple success ideas will help you become more effective today and in the future. If you would like a copy of the book, please go to http://somethingdifferentcompanies.com/products/books-cds-dvds/ to order a book, CD and/or DVD.

Events Worth Considering:

Changes in Worker / Business Models

The cover story on the February issues of Fast Company Magazine discusses Generation Flux and addresses the changing work model; specifically to be successful Dallas Marketing Concultant J.R. Atkins disucces Gen Fluxwe must learn to thrive in chaos. They describe Generation Flux as “… less a demographic designation than a psychographic one…a mind-set that embraces instability, that tolerates–and even enjoys–recalibrating careers, business models, and assumptions.“ One of my favorite quotes in the article comes from the CMO at GE, Beth Comstock, who says “our traditional teams are too slow. We’re not innovating fast enough. We need to systematize change.” This is validated by the success that small nimble companies are having in the area of Social Media and Mobile App Development. I hear terms like lean start-up, pivot, and crowd sourcing associated with new companies, not the Fortune 1000. This got me to thinking. Is the traditional, large corporate model losing its footing as “the way to do business” or “the ideal kind of company to work for.”?  Below I have identified a find few other trends and shifts in business and employment models. I welcome your observations and comments.

Trend #1 – If you are over 45, someone can do your job cheaper. Since wisdom and experience do not show up on the corporate balance sheet, it’s easy to look at this group as an unnecessary expense; their salary and benefit packages cost too much. Many in this group have been laid off and will not find the same job in another company. They will be forced to learn new skills and work for an SMB – Small Medium Business as the large corporate structures retool and redefine themselves with a younger workforce. (See “Age Discrimination”)

Trend #2 – The 24 hour work day. With proliferation of technology and low cost global communication it is getting easier for people to do their critical work duties far beyond 8:00am Eastern time to 5:00pm Pacific time. As a result, business culture will shift from rewarding those who put in extra hours for the “team” to those that can get better results in less time. When it is easy for anyone to work 12+ hour days I hope we quit wearing it like a badge of honor. The badge of honor goes to the people who get more results with less time. Besides, putting in long hours is an idea associated with the industrial era, not the knowledge era. (See “Sleepless in Silicon Valley”)

Trend #3 – Value for multiple jobs on your resume. Do you recall being warned not to “job hop?” This has changed to where employers look for skill building that may take the form of several different companies on your work history. According to the Bureau of Labor & Statistics, “the median number of years that wage and salary workers had been with their current employer was 4.4 in January 2010.”

With this trend, I hope we see a change in employer language and expectations about “permanent positions.” What is a permanent position in today’s climate; 3 to 5 years? Who are we kidding? How can an employer say “we’re looking for someone for the long hall” when they know they need someone now and have no idea what the future holds.

Professional Speaker J.R. Atkins recommends Linchpin by Seth GodinTrend #4 –Become a Linchpin. In his book Lynchpin, Seth Godin describes changes in the corporate business model as the industrial age gives way to the digital age. He tells us that the person that is most employable is either an artist (creative), innovative, a connector of people or a combination of the three. With these skills you are often the key person (linchpin) on projects as you are indispensible. Leadership comes to you for the big important projects because you are very valuable (and you get results).

Trend #5 – I am responsible. For my healthcare, retirement, career path, and continuing education. How will we prepare the workforce for this? Some will take to it, but many others will need help. What kind of new business model will spring up? Or, do we have an existing model to fill the gap? I see staffing firms as a part of the solution. These firms can help many of us get the next project as our current project winds down. They can also be a source of benefits such as healthcare, retirement, paid vacation and continuing education. If we are not associated with a staffing firm then we must think like a contractor and always be looking for our next project within the company.

Events worth Attending

3/1/12 Tech Execs Discuss Steve Jobs Biography

3/2/12 Social Media & Leadership

3/2/12 Cultural Intelligence for Leaders

3/6/12 HBO Premier “Game Change”

3/8/12 Angel Investing Trends

3/8/12 The Coming Invasion; Drug Wars

3/9-3/12 South by Southwest Interactive

3/11-6/17 The Age of Impressionism

3/13/12 The Rivalry between Biz & Gov

3/20/12 Career Pathing in ’12 & Beyond

3/21/12 Membership in the Digital Age

3/21/12 SXSW Recap @DigitalDallas

3/22/12 Creatives in DFW Event

3/23/12 Dev Your Biz Social Media Strategy

3/27/12 Mobile Apps, the Next Big Wave

3/27/12 Last Tuesday @ The Ritz

3/31/12 Membership in the Digital Age

Online Music, like Radio on your PC or Mobile Device

As I read the blog post by Adam Vincenzini of TNW aka The Next Web, I realized it was worth sharing. There are many options to listen, share, discover, and discuss music. Check out “10 new ways to discover, share and listen to music online

Marketing consultant J.R. Atkins comments on TNW Blog1. mSpot.com – store your music library in the cloud

The creators of mSpot have cleverly called this a ‘music service that follows you’ and it couldn’t be a more apt description. mSpot collects all of your music, uploads it to an online folder and gives you access to your music from anywhere and on any device.

2. Maestro.fm – store your music library in the cloud (option two)

Almost an identical service to mSpot but it also comes with a desktop shortcut that is quite handy. I have some invites for those who want to test it out – just click here.

3. Top10 Spotify app – Collaborate and create your Top 10 lists

Proceed with caution: The Top 10 app makes Spotify even more addictive than normal! Spotify unveiled app functionality in late 2011 to bring added features to the Spotify platform and this is probably the first one you should add to your player. Awesome.

4. Soundrop Spotify app – Enter or create your own listening room

The wannabe DJ in you will fall in love with Soundrop. It allows you to create playlists and then invite your friends to listen to your ‘sets’ all within the Spotify interface. Boom.

5. Tinysong.com – Tweet any song in a flash

Have you ever had the urge to share a tune with the world via Twitter? Then bookmark this site and use it to satisfy that urge on demand. Powered by Grooveshark.

6. QCmixtapes.com – ‘Pinterest for mixtapes’

If you like getting your paws on new mixtapes, then you should head over to QCmixtapes.com (presented in an easy-to-scroll Pinterest-style format).

7. MixCloud.com – The home of ‘cloudcasts’

MixCloud is one of the more well-known ‘new’ online music destinations which brings you a true social music experience. Follow friends, vote and recommend music and users, and connect your other social media accounts all from the one place. Nice.

8. SoundCloud.com – Share your music with the world

The focus of SoundCloud, as opposed to MixCloud, is more on creating and publishing but that also makes it a great place to discover music too.

9. RaRa.com – An alternative to Spotify

A slightly cheaper way to enjoy a Spotify-like experience, created by a team based in the UK.

10. Grooveshark.com / Deezer.com – Steaming online music goodness

You’ve probably heard of both of these services but if you haven’t they are worth adding to your mix (pardon the pun).

Make sure you check out TNW. It’s a great source for tech trends and more.

Helsinki’s Urbanflow; an Intersection of Technology, Transparency and Helpfulness

I find it very interesting where Mobile Apps, Events, Services, Art and Transportation intersect. There is a great article and video on the Fast Company Micro Site called CO.EXIST about Helsinki “Urban flow: A City’s Information, Visualized in Real Time – Combining a map, tourist information, and data about the city’s services, a new system is making Helsinki truly transparent.” Here is the text content, make sure you check out the video. It’s about 5 minutes but worth it if you like this topic.

“According to Adam Greenfield, most public information systems aren’t very useful. He reckons a lot of kiosks you see in stations, plazas, and on sidewalks are expensive white elephants: a nice idea in some official’s mind, but not something that real people want to actually delve into on a consistent basis.

“Our research suggests that the overwhelming majority of these remain woefully underutilized, resulting in virtually no return on the significant investment involved in installing and maintaining them,” he says, referring to his New York urban systems design practice, Urbanscale.

Greenfield’s firm has teamed up with another in Helsinki, called Nordkapp, to develop something better. The result is what they call Urbanflow, an information system that both tourists and local people might actually want to use.

Urbanflow provides layers of data: a way-finder allowing people to map A to B and find out about local services, and a mass of “ambient” city data on air quality, traffic density, parking, cycling, and public transport. Urbanflow is two-way: Users glean information, but also feed it back, for example reporting on, say, faulty streetlights or vandalism.

Sami Niemelä, Nordkapp’s creative director, says the system is not only designed to be useful, but also “playful,” encouraging people to use it. He also wants to change behavior, making people more aware of their environment.

“We’re making the city more transparent to its people, displaying data and making people care more,” he says. “I believe when you make the information more transparent it affects people’s behavior.”

Helsinki, a city of about 590,000 people, currently has 20 non-interactive urban screens used mostly for advertising. The new system will probably become available later this year, on one side of the same terminal. Urbanscale is developing a variant of Urbanflow for Chicago.”


Urbanflow Helsinki from Nordkapp on Vimeo.