Daily Marauder




Lena Dunham in HBO’s Girls

© Jojo Whilden/HBO. All rights reserved.


The new series, Girls, comes to HBO this Sunday and I couldn’t be more ecstatic. I watched the first two episodes in Austin at SXSW spawning my lady crush on its writer/creator, Lena Dunham. The show follows a group of NYC Williamsburg hipsters through their daily machinations focusing on the somewhat unglamorous side of their romantic transgressions. I spent my 20’s living in NYC, the latter half in which I was working at HBO, and hence, was especially excited to see this story unfold.

I’ve been watching the critical reviews come across the internet wires and they all boil down to one thing: sex. The sex in Sex & the City was glamorous Jimmy Choo-laced fantasy, thick with witty Samantha-isms and adorable recaps from Carrie. The sex in Girls is uncomfortable to watch and ‘real’ in a way I’ve never seen on screen before. Slate Magazine describes this realness as the “chronicling of bad sex” whereas New York Magazine raves that the sex “isn’t a reward, it’s a revelation.” So which is it? Lena Dunham writes, stars, and partially directs this series. She plays Hannah, a post-collegiate brutally torn from the parental financial purse strings to go out on her own for the first time. The first sex on screen carries out between Hannah and her sex buddy Adam, and while not ruining anything, I’ll just say, that I would never tell a friend about sex that bad.

That said, it wasn’t only the sex that I found so intriguing. It was the comfort level by which these girls interact with each other and by which Dunham herself is comfortable exposing the world to. There is one scene in particular that I have obsessed over, obsessed because I think it indicates some lack of cool on my part and therefore has been a conversation piece for weeks. Dunham’s character, Hannah, takes a bath with her towel-clad roommate Marnie chatting about their lives, a pastime which in most respects would be done over breakfast or perhaps, any other place with clothes on. I’ve obsessed because I’ve wanted to know if this happens in real life. Do women get together naked and talk about what’s going on in each other’s lives? I don’t even like to look people in the eye in the women’s locker room, let alone sit naked in a bathtub and talk about my sex life. Does this make me uncool?

Lena Dunham, as Hannah, with actor Adam Driver.

(Photo: Jojo Whilden/HBO)


Back to the sex. The attempt to categorize this show at the ‘everygirl’ story would be dangerous. In the same way that Sex & the City did not translate to the lives of most American women at the time it debuted, I don’t think Girls has the intention of direct translation. How many women buy Jimmy Choos on a Monday and Monolo Blahniks on a Tuesday? In the same respect, how many women catch up on their day with their best friend sitting naked in a bathtub and then have discussions about how maybe they really do want AIDS at the doctor’s office? Here’s where I had to reel myself in. Being that you, the viewer, are presented with a woman (Dunham) who looks more real than the skinny plastic surgery-disfigured faces of so many Hollywood actresses, the viewer immediately thinks that what happens on screen will look more similar to their own world. In my case, even though I spent some time living in Williamsburg, the attempt at direct correlation was lost in translation. Frankly, that’s not the point. I think Dunham’s intention is to entertain with her own story and hope that each viewer draws inspiration in whichever way makes sense. Whether that’s making one person feel less embarrassed about their own bad sex moment or more comfortable in simply sharing something with a friend, so be it. So, I’ll attempt to stop thinking about how uncool I am for my lack of bathtub friend time…but seriously, does this make me uncool?! Maybe not, but quotes like this one, make Lena Dunham fresh to death.


In other news, Facebook acquires Instagram for $1 Billion (scaring the sh-t out of this Instagram user right here and this one over there), Google busts out some augmented reality glasses which sadly bring on the Star Trek jokes, and Bravo announces plans to bring a Silicon Valley reality series to screen.


Some more Cool Sh-t:

Architecture Meets Outdoor Art Projection

Photo Credit: Designboom




Katniss Everdeen and her Hunger Games blazed through theaters this weekend bringing in $155 MM in the box office, the third highest box office opening weekend in history, behind sequels including Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2 at $169.1MM and just shy of The Dark Knight at $151.6 MM. Of all the five films in the top 5 for largest opening weekend, it should come as no surprise that each film is based on a book. A film does best when it has an established audience already interested in the story. A book series accomplishes the initial stages of marketing for a film.  I hate to use the buzz marketing word transmedia, but the novel-to-film strategy is the original in transmedia and still one of the most successful use cases.


I was a bit closer to this particular film, being that I worked previously at the ad agency which placed its media. The incredible thing about the Lionsgate team is their nimbleness in the digital space. While others are belaboring whether or not to try one initiative or the other, Lionsgate seemingly tries it all. As Frans Johansson pointed out in the book, The Medici Effect, the sign of success is a direct correlation to how many times you have tried and failed. In other words, it takes a lot of attempted failures to arrive at the top. In my experience with Lionsgate, this is what I admire about them. They are small and volatile at times, but they attempt to do it all and find their footing somewhere along the way. So to that entire team, I say congrats. Keep moving at the speed of light.


(AP Photo/The Seattle Times, Greg Gilbert)


In other more serious news, crowds have turned out across the US calling for the arrest of George Zimmerman, the man who shot and killed the unarmed Trayvon Martin (President Obama weighs in), Instagram is finally coming to the Android platform, Twitter turns 6 and begins to drop promoted tweets in your mobile feed (which as a user, I despise), Carrie Bradshaw gets a new face, and Angry Birds’ latest game Space has racked up 10MM downloads since its Thursday release. One last thing…after SXSW and writing about the top trends from the week, I did an in-depth review of the social discovery trend as well. This is one to watch.


Some more Cool Sh-t:

Man. Meet Bird. Take Flight.

SXSW 2012: 5 TRENDS by Marauder

SXSW 2012: 5 Trends

But first, a reflection. Many have chastised SXSW as a liquor-fueled Vegas for tech people. In respect of the truth, I would say that this is true in many respects. There is alcohol. People drink it. That said, the beauty of SXSW is in the aggregation of a true set of innovators, from start-ups, VCs, investors, programmers, and digital marketers. Many have written about the serendipity which makes SXSW great. I fully agree with this. The important marking point of what you get from SXSW is in what you expect from it. If you expect to saddle up to a prescribed list of panels and meetings, you’re at the wrong conference friend. If you can let go, and allow the world to provide for some meetings with some astounding people by coincidence, you’re spot-on in the right place.

From running into Ian Schafer from Deep Focus & Josh Riedel from Instagram at the Foursquare party to meeting employee #1 from Mint & connecting with Zach Greenberger from Fullbright on what makes a good user design experience, my best conversations were usually the unplanned ones. I learned more in the past 7 days than I have in the past year. Topics included everything from launching a movie, how Twitter changes the writing style of a TV writer, how certain apps don’t work at SXSW and why that doesn’t necessarily mean they won’t ever, and how Foursquare investigative work can help you figure out who hooked up last night.




The Rain

Austin is usually very sunny and hot, but this year it rained…a lot. Brands capitalized quickly offering branded panchos, like this one from Fandango, and umbrellas.



Printing pictures from your Instagram feed, using a hashtag. This particular one was so engaging; they used a velvet rope around it.


Creative Promotions

I’ve noted the large brands in Trend #5 but the online sites got in the game too. Skype featured a town crier who would scream out your tweets.


Cool Technology

This is the Makerbot. It is a 3D printer which prints out a physical object from a model on the computer to the left. GE featured a DIY tent where SXSW-goers could learn about new tech like this.




#1: Social Pairing

–Apps in the Space: Highlight, Glancee, Kismet, Sonar & Banjo

–Objective: Connect people together either solely digitally or in the real world to facilitate real connections and ease the discomfort in connecting.

-Why is this a Trend?: Highlight played SXSW app darling going into the conference but didn’t hit a resounding high note while there. While an app like Foursquare is more effective at SXSW, Highlight is less. The app became ineffective on the ground at SXSW because the size of the conference caused massive numbers of suggestions. In essence, when suggesting connecting to everyone, you end up connecting to no one because the sheer size of referrals is to large. Think about the stress you feel when you see 52 emails sitting unread in your email box. The same insight applies here. All this aside, simply the fact that something does well at SXSW does not mean it is instead fire or on the flip side, instant fodder. Consider that most SXSW-ers are not the target market of Pinterest for example. The success of social pairing has been proven, for the most part, in apps whose objective is pairing potential daters. Getting the interface right is the central sticking point in who wins here.


#2: Sharing


Sites in the Space: Neighborgoods, Airbnb, Spinlister

Objective: Allow strangers to share items and connect them together in a community of sharing.

–Why is this a Trend?: Airbnb connected many SXSW-ers with space to stay while in Austin but more importantly, the graph below begins to explain the rise of sharing. For one, we all have enough stuff to last a lifetime. Being more sustainable and limiting the additional items in the world not only helps each other but keeps those items out of a landfill making the Earth just a smidge happier.


#3: Future of Music Consumption

Sites in the Space: Spotify, Pandora, MOG, Rdio, & Turntable

Objective: Allow strangers to share items and connect them together in a community of sharing.

–Why is this a Trend?: In 1895, Nikola Tesla transmitted a radio signal 50 miles from New York City to West Point, NY in the first test of radio transmission. The golden age of radio took shape from the 1920s through the 1950s. As traditional radio begins to the see the shadow of online radio, it’s clear that a transitional point is upon us. This past August, Pandora surpassed popular terrestrial radio stations in New York City for the first time. Online services including Pandora, Spotify, Turntable and Rdio have been rapidly growing thanks to the strength and speed of cloud computing and a renewed appetite for online music discovery.


#4: Gaming for Good

Tech in the Space: Kickstarter, Google, Nike, Fitbit, NASA, Google, Gylo, Ayogo Games

Objective: Game dynamics motivate users around virtual points and play to our human desire to win. This new gaming model encourages us to improve our health, learn new things, or raise funds all in the sake of personal improvement.

Why is this a Trend?: Between Fitbit, the Jawbone Up, and Nike’s push behind the Fuelband, gaming for personal health is on a serious upswing. While in Austin, I was fascinated by some of the applications that pushed game dynamics or offers based around social good or education. For example, Cause.it rewards users with discounts for volunteer work offered at non-profits.


#5: Technology is Listening & Watching

(Taken during the Superbowl, the screen above was presented when Shazaming the Pepsi commercial.)

Tech in the Space: Shazam, Kinect, Soundhound, Siri, IntoNow

Objective: Allow users to interact with technology by moving or by being heard.

Why is this a Trend?: Shazam commenced operations as an application which helped users identify songs but has evolved as an app to help brands connect their TV commercials to content on mobile phones. While this is a band-aid for the television being able to enable a connection to digital, it does allow for a fascinating TV to digital extension for brands. During SXSW, I also heard David Jones, EVP of Marketing at Shazam, mention that Shazam was working towards an always-on listening model. Just like Foursquare has an always-on model for location, Shazam would employ the same for listening. One question. Why type of folks want their technology to be always listening…or even always watching? Creepy alert.


Brands, Brands, Brands


AMEX promoted its Sync, Tweet, Save promotion linking twitter and discounts using an AMEX card with a Jay Z concert at Austin City Limits.

Effectiveness: 5 (scale 1 -5)


Nike promoted its new NikeFuel band, a sports band which tracks expended energy by selling the bands at times communicated via Twitter and setting up a sports park for Fuel Band wearers to stay active and win FuelBand points.

Effectiveness: 4 (scale 1 -5)


Chevy provided vehicles which could be hailed as cabs to transport SXSW-goers throughout the conference.

Effectiveness: 4 (scale 1 -5)


Pepsi paid to take over the Austin Convention Center, usually owned by Coke, replacing all vending machines with Pepsi. They additionally ran a meet-up space called Pepsi Co Central with talks by special speakers.

Effectiveness: 3 (scale 1 -5)





This week, SXSW descends over Austin. If you’re unfamiliar, SXSW is a three-in-one conference encompassing interactive, film, and music. SXSW has launched a few innovative companies in its midst including Foursquare and the now-acquired Gowalla. In my opinion, it’s a nerd fest reunion with some music folks on the back end. Once a year, all of my digital nerd friends from all across the US get together to drink, party and possibly hit a panel or two. This week, I had a conversation with an ad agency executive in NYC about the merits of SXSW.


While this particular person had never attended SXSW, he felt that the information which returned was never of value. The thought was that SXSW was simply a drunken booze fest without value.


I thought about this argument and sat down to read an article in the New Yorker about Davos. Davos, as contrasted to SXSW, rounds up the top world leaders with the hope of igniting inspiration at the highest levels. I’m sure cocktails are shared but I’m guessing no one ends up at the Driskill Hotel at 2 in the morning passed out in a hotel lobby arm chair. That said, my argument in defense of SXSW centered on the simple physical aggregation of start-up folk, programmers, product people and marketing experts alike. Primarily, in the past four years that I have been attending SXSW, this has included an audience under the age of 35. We are young, we are innovators, and yes, we like to drink. Let’s face it, a cocktail or two lowers our fears and in many cases, allows creativity to flow. Steve Jobs referenced LSD as “one of the two or three most important things [he had] done in [his] life” as he considered the experience principally one which opened his eyes to creativity in ways he did not think possible.


Now, I’m not condoning alcoholism or drug use. I’m simply pointing out that discounting SXSW because this particular audience parties or drinks heavily,is simply disregarding it based on unfair terms. It may be Spring Break for digital folks but don’t we all need a vacation from reality every once in a while? If you’ll be at SXSW, I’ll be speaking on a panel entitled, “Are We Killing Social with Social?”  Stop by and share some thoughts, cocktail or no cocktail.


In other news, Pinterest is surging while Google + is puttering, Lady Gaga becomes the first person to hit 20MM followers on Twitter, newspaper revenue tanks shocking no one, smartphone owners now outnumber other mobile users in the US, Yelp shares surge on their first day of trading, and co-founder Naveen Selvadurai is leaving Foursquare.


Some more Cool Sh-t:

The Lowline: Underground NYC Park Life

SXSW 2011: TOP 5 TRENDS by Marauder



This year’s SXSW was the largest interactive event in the festival’s history. An estimated 18,000 participants joined the conference this year up 30 to 40 percent from last year. This is my fourth year in a row attending SXSW and I consider it important both for the aggregation of innovators in the digital space, but more importantly, what that aggregation of folks causes in terms of behavior.


For example, based on the mass of digi-nerds with smart phones and a suite of applications, Foursquare was the clear winner last year in terms of what the audience was using at the conference to connect with friends and find the next drinking location (cough), I mean panel. This year, I watched carefully to see what the masses were doing, and by participating in those activities with a mass of folks, try to figure out where we’re going next in the digital marketing space.


Five trends emerged.


1) Group Texting


Group texting allows a group of people to text each other exchanging information to organize groups. The main competitors of the group texting wars at SXSW were GroupMe, FastSociety, Beluga, & Kik. Above, you can see an infographic tracking online mentions over SXSW from March 11 – March 15th indicating the winner by share of conversation.


GroupMe, the winner, launched first in August of 2009 with a simple premise of allowing a group of people to text each other. They have since added features to allow sharing of photos and location along with allowing users to join groups.


In second place, Beluga, allows users to send group messages with photos and location as well. Facebook also acquired it in March.


Finally, Kik, commenced operations as an instant messaging application but announced a group messaging feature last week and picked up a new round of funding.


In my own experience at SXSW, I started the conference using Beluga with a group of other digital folks so that we could organize our plans throughout the day both at panels and throughout the night. As I had not turned the SMS notifications off, I found my battery was severely drained as the group texted each other about every panel and party they planned to go to. I promptly turned it off after a day but noted the value in organizing a group around events like this.


2) Social TV


Social TV made a splash at SXSW with a panel devoted to the topic becoming packed 15 minutes before it even began. Jennifer Preston from the NY Times quickly organized a panel next door to the panel room dubbed #rebeltv. The panelists re-convened the following day at the CNN Grill to discuss the topic and again the panel was packed to capacity. Informally, I grabbed drinks with the CEO of Miso, the CEO of ClipSync (technology that runs the social aspects of Showtime, Epix, and CBS, and some other folks from the Social TV space.


In addition, I attended one of the most interesting panels I have seen in 4 years: Social Media in the Middle East coordinated by reporters from the NY Times and attended by MSNBC, NPR, Al Jazeera and others.


Above all, I think the message from both avenues boiled down to the fact that information and conversation is being aggregated across the web on television and in print/online news media to empower the message and the experience. Some highlights:


· People are conversing in real time while watching TV. How do TV networks access those conversations making those moments engaging like the stories on screen? Chloe Sladden weighed in on how Twitter has been integrated with TV on MTV, CurrentTV and others to promote the community conversation.

· What amount of information should be visualized on the second screen while someone is watching TV? The answer is somewhat complicated. A mobile application that will go unnamed has being doing covert tests with its audience and has found that synced content can easily become distracting from the original goal: watching a TV show.

· In essence, TV networks will continue to practice and test with their audience to figure out what works but it is clear that these conversations have a part in the TV watching experience.


3) Anonymity (Canv.as) vs. Personalization (Facebook) on the Web

While waiting for the launch of the rumored Google Circles, Google’s coming social network, the conversation swirled at SXSW surrounding the anonymity the web was founded on vs. the personalized tagging that Facebook has made popular. In other words, the 90’s were about anonymous posts on message boards and the like. Facebook, through its interests in aggregating all of this personal data, has created a network where everything is identified by the person who said and/or posted it.


Christopher Poole, the founder from a site called 4Chan, gave a keynote on the subject discussing the popularity of his site 4Chan but also the social network he’s building (Canv.as) meant to create a social network founded on the principles of anonymity. The site is still in closed beta but Business Insider offers a preview of the site.


4) Social Shopping


Social deal sites have blown across the Internet in a fury, taking with them a path of discount destruction. Groupon, Scoutmob, Livingsocial, & Gilt Groupe were all discussed in this particular panel. In addition to these sites, which create a groundswell around the time-limited deal, the “qualified recommendation engine” otherwise known as friend opinion is of primary importance. Technologies which empower the social shopping concept through mobile or online platforms include QR codes or other mobile tags, near field technology (rumored to be included in the iPhone 5 launch) and location-based services like Foursquare and others.


5) Location-Based Meets Discounts

Location-based platforms like Foursquare and others have rushed to integrate deals within the fabric of their applications. Foursquare launched an AMEX integration days before SXSW. For users who link their AMEX card to their Foursquare account and check-in at participating locations, they will receive $5 back when they spend at least $5 or donate $1 to Grounded in Music. This represents location-based gone loyalty program.


As quickly as deal sites like LivingSocial and Groupon work to integrate location, location-based sites like Foursquare and Gowalla work furiously to integrate discounts. In essence, location and discounts have become interwoven as principal reasons users integrate with these platforms.


Dennis Crowley, co-founder of Foursquare, spoke to Mashable’s Pete Cashmore in a keynote at SXSW on the topic as well as the additional features in Foursquare 3.0. Those features included an updated UI evoking more information for users when they check-in, re-enabling the gaming dynamics, and adding a recommendation engine. For example, when I checked in at a location with my friend Dan Berger, founder of SocialTables, I got a message saying that I hadn’t checked in anywhere with him in several years. Interesting data.


With all of these features, it is clear Foursquare’s ability to surface deals in a way that is organic to the user is most important. Crowley takes a different stance from a Groupon strategy in that he thinks the most important function of the app is the friend recommendation rather than the deal. I think that is true for many folks who happen to use Foursquare but not for many others.


In this same keynote, a girl from the audience asked Dennis Crowley for a hug on stage. This proves that Dennis Crowley is the Justin Bieber of SXSW. It also illuminates the digerati empowered at this event in Austin.




Photo Credit: Scott Beale / Laughing Squid




Digital Hollywood

Being that I’ve just come from SXSW in Austin, it’s a bit of a culture shock arriving at Digital Hollywood this morning in NYC.  Before I give you the highlights from today, how about I start with a top ten list on the major differences between SXSW and Digi Hollywood?  I tried to make it a mix of pros and cons for both but by and large, my mission here is simple humor.  I’m good for that.

The Top Ten List: SXSW vs. Digital Hollywood

1) Digital Hollywood attendees think ‘monetization’ whereas SXSW attendees think ‘audience size’…by and large.

2) DH peeps rock a suit.  SXSW…more like whatever they rolled out of bed in after a night of binge drinking at Pure Volume.

3) DH: Wine. SXSW: Beer and the more the better.

4) DH: Dell  SXSW: Apple

5) DH: More coat check. Less filler.  SXSW: More stickers.  More graffiti.  More idea generation.  Less shampoo.

6) DH: No Wi-Fi (except in the conference center using some convoluted means to log on)  SXSW: Wi-Fi convention-wide (with small exceptions) AT&T…not so much.

7) DH: Overheard in the bathroom: Nothing.  SXSW: Overheard in the bathroom… Friend1: I just joined twitter this morning. Friend 2: JUST this morning?!? Friend1: Yah. (obvious embarrassment)

8) DH: What’s twitter? SXSW: Holy sh#t! Did you see that last guy’s tweet?! Someone just won SXSW Bingo.

9) DH: Keynote: Jeff Zucker (CEO NBC)  SXSW: Keynote: James Powderly (Co-founder Graffiti Research Lab)

10) DH: The entire traditional media universe peppered with some digi distribution folks.  SXSW: The entire web development community with little to no content creators.

In case you need another visual to drive this one home, have at it…





Reblog this post [with Zemanta]




LED Throwie: a lithium battery, a 10mm diffused LED and a rare-earth magnet taped together.

Today James Powderly spoke to the geek-fabulous crowd at SXSW in Austin.  Powderly is an artist and technology maven who co-founded the Graffiti Research Lab in coordination with Evan Roth.  The mission of the Graffiti Research Lab is to empower artists with open source technology to allow them to communicate in urban settings to the degree that advertisers are enabled.

Powderly’s first request of the crowd at SXSW: he wanted the crowd to flick him off and took a picture from on-stage.  Talk about crowd sourcing…  This one act set the stage for the interview to follow and the Graffiti Research Lab’s body of work.

The LED Throwie above represents one of the Graffiti Research Lab’s earliest works.  The packaged lights can be thrown on surfaces creating an illuminated night-time vision.  Click here or on the image above to see video of the LED throwies in action.  For another example, click the LED Bombing image below.



The GRL’s latest technology L.A.S.E.R tag utilizes digital projection to enable graffiti artists’ a much larger canvas to create on.  The image below was created on a recent trip to Tokyo.


Here’s how it works.  A projector hooked to a computer with custom built software by Theo Watson reads the green light of the laser point via an attached camera.  Wherever that camera detects the green laser pointer, it updates the projector with a white pixel stylizing the final effect to look like dripping paint.  The software is open source allowing for other artists to build on these effects adding their own signature features.


Most amazing to me is the project they pulled off in Hong Kong.  I used to think that New York City rocked the most amazing night-time city view worldwide… until I visited Hong Kong a few years ago.


Photo Credit: remz-zero

This shot above was taken from Kowloon overlooking Hong Kong Island.  The building at the far left consisting of ascending lit triangles is the Bank of China designed by I.M. Pei.

For this remarkable project pulled off by the GRL in coordination with MC Yan, laser tag technology was used from 1,200 meters away on Hong Kong Island.  MC Yan projected an image onto the Hong Kong Cultural Museum in Kowloon.  This is the farthest distance the technology has ever successfully been used.  Click here or on the image below to check out video of the project.


Powderly describes himself as a magician teaching other artists his tricks.  Back in the day, graffiti artists would tag NYC subway trains as a way of spreading their message from the Bronx to Brooklyn.  Now, the Graffiti Research Lab allows a whole new level of trickery to engage artists ways previously unimaginable.

As a laser tag parting gift, I leave you with the GRL’s latest collaboration: the music video The Hardest from AZ (featuring Styles P & Large Professor).


Reblog this post [with Zemanta]