Hey Nick, What Are You Thinking?

My wife Wendy sent me an email earlier today about Nickelodeon and Addictinggames.com and how Nick was promoting inappropriate content to kids. Here’s the text of the email:

Did you know that Nickelodeon, the children’s media empire, is promoting sexualized and violent video games to children as young as preschoolers? Its popular gaming website, Addictinggames.com, features games such as Candy the Naughty Cheerleader, Bloody Day (“Back alley butchering has never been so much fun. . . . How many kills can you rack?”) and the Perry the Sneak series, where gamers take the role of a peeping Tom trying to catch revealing glimpses of scantily clad and naked women. Nickelodeon promotes, and links directly to, Addictinggames.com on its Nick.com website for children and even on its Nick Jr.com, its website for preschoolers.

Please visit Democracy in Action to tell Nickelodeon to stop promoting sexualized and violent videogames to children.

The content of some of the games on AddictingGames.com is truly shocking. Please demand that Nickelodeon stop directing children to a website which features games such as:

Stick Figure Penalty Chamber 2: “Small, black, stick figure death can happen in so many different ways! Do you choose shotgun to the face, or acid in the lungs?”

Naughty Classroom – “Here’s your chance to fulfill your ultimate childhood fantasy. Naughty Classroom will leave you begging for more homework.”

Dark Cut 2 – “More macho surgery! No anesthetic. No antiseptics. Just rusty knives, corn whiskey, and lots of blood!”

Foxy Sniper – “Don’t hate me because I’m beautiful. Fear me, because I am a crack shot! Assassination isn’t just a job; it’s a way of life.”

Please visit Democracy in Action to immediately stop promoting AddictingGames.com on its websites for children

Being skeptical I went to the Nick and Nick Jr. but found nothing approaching anything like what is described above. So I sent Wendy an email saying basically “Come on, there’s no links to anything like this, what a poor job of advocacy these guys are doing.”

But I thought I’d better double check myself – just in case I was missing something. Sure enough, at the bottom of the games page on both Nick and Nick Jr. there’s a section for Addicting Games:

If you click the link for “Flash Games” this is what you get:

Granted the number of click throughs from Nick Jr. is probably pretty low – but for better or worse plenty of parents probably park their kids in front of Nick Jr confident that if they aren’t getting an enriching experience they’re at least not going to be exposed to anything bad. But I think Santa stuffing a gun into a zombie’s mouth is probably not something most people would suggest for toddlers.

Now people who know me know that I am a pretty bad person, but even I realize that this is inappropriate. Come on Nick, WFT?

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Technology finally bites me

I love technology. I always have and I imagine I always will. (Unless I turn into some kind of a luddite when I get old or something.) As I’ve fallen in love with more and more tech I’ve seen lots of old familiar things being replaced. My collection of wax cylinders by gramophone disks by reels by LPs by cassettes by CDs by MP3s.

Somehow I thought *I* would be immune to being replaced by technology. A smart strapping man like me – what could go wrong? What on earth could appear and make me redundant? Three annoying little letters – GPS.

I’ve always been proud of my sense of location and direction. Most of the time I know which way I’m facing and it’s nearly impossible for me to get lost. I was once in Singapore with a colleague who lived there. We left the office for lunch and as we headed back I was certain we were going the wrong way. He laughed and raised an eyebrow and told me he’d lived there for most of his life and of course knew where he was going.

Until a few minutes later when he realized he’d been mistaken and I was correct.

It’s always been my favorite secret super power. If I’ve been someplace once – even if I was just a passenger at night – I can find my way back. I could amaze people with this skill on a regular basis.

Now, thanks to GPS, this ability is old hat. My differentiator is no more. I am just another face in the crowd when it comes to getting from point A to point B and I’m not happy about it. This isn’t to say that I don’t use and value GPS – it comes in really handy when getting to a place for the first time of for checking a hunch. It’s also very helpful when it comes to geocaching.

But now that GPS in on pretty much every device under the sun I feel like a manual typewriter – a curiosity that serves no real purpose.

Snurk . . .

Fresh Faces 15

Hello again face fans. Between WebInno24, the MegaTweetUp and various other occasions around Boston I’ve photographed LOTS more faces. You can see all of them in my 1000 Faces 2 collection on Flickr but here are a few from recent weeks for everyone to check out.

Happy Holidays and I’ll have lots more Fresh Faces in the new year.

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Remember, if you’re planning an event in or around Boston and would like shots of the people there give me a shout and I’d me happy to come by.

WebInno24 Preview

Well here we are – WebInno24 is just a few hours away and then that’s if for the year. There have been some pretty good WebInnos this year and I have high hopes for tonight’s festivities. I’m a little bummed that some of the friends I usually attend with won’t be there tonight but I’ll live. If you see me wandering around looking lonely and forlorn take pity and say hello, OK?

Ah enough of that though, it’s time for me preview of WebInno24. Here we go!

Main Course Companies:

On The Spot Systems – Survey On The Spot – take one part location-based service, add a dash of CRM and mix with some direct marketing and you have On The Spot Systems. The idea is to reach customers where and when they are shopping. Seems like a solid idea to me.

The home page talks about being able to provide coupons and whatnot but the only product they have listed on the site – Survey on the Spot is designed to get feedback from customers. What do customers get out of this? I mean if you’re shopping and your phone starts buzzing to ask you questions about the experience it might get a little annoying after a while. Unless they’re going to kick you down some discounts or specials.

I feel like this is happening a lot these days – lots of asking and listening – but at some point there needs to be some upside to consumers beyond the warm and fuzzy feeling we all get by being flattered that businesses care about what we have to say. Maybe they’ll address that this evening.

ThredUP – Go Shopping. In Someone Else’s Closet. Cute tag line – a little creepy maybe but not too creepy. The point here is that we all have clothes that we bought but just never have the occasion to wear. Or we wear them and wish we hadn’t. (If you see me tonight I’ll tell you about my awesome bright red jeans or the $150 pair of John Fluevog creepers I once bought . . .). The company says it’s only 25 percent of our closets but I’ll be it’s way higher than that for many of us.

The idea is simple. You tell them what you like and the size you want and they’ll see if they can’t dig it out of another user’s closet. It’s pretty much SwapTree for clothes. I use and love SwapTree so it stands to reason I might like TredUp. Of course clothes aren’t the same as books or DVDs. They suffer more wear and tear, stains, etc.

The other problem for me (and maybe it’s just because I’m a guy in my 40s) is that I don’t really care that much about what I wear. Jeans, a shirt, maybe something to keep me warm but beyond that I’m not that picky. I suspect I’m in the minority though so these guys will probably do pretty well.

Soon they’ll be introducing the service for kid’s clothes and as a dad I can definitely see the benefit. We used to hand over the stuff our kids had grown out of ti cousins but recently learned they want to choose their own stuff. We’re about to have a glut of stuff and kids too big to fit it . . .

Zoomatlas – Mapping Every Square Inch of America. I really really love maps. I can hang out and look at maps for a long time. I can’t begin to tell you how much time Google Earth consumed for me. I also like user-generated content so if you can mix maps with user info I’m going to be pretty happy.

That’s just what Zoomatlas lets you do. You can provide notes and details on specific places – where you were born, where you grew up, where you vacationed, where you worked – whatever you want. It reminds me a little of SpotStory – another WebInno company that didn’t make it but which was very cool.

The main difference that I see is that while SpotStory wanted you to go and do the mapping and capturing, Zoomatlas gives you the world and lets you fill in the blanks. People have also gotten much more comfortable over the ensuing years with the idea and process of providing location-based information.

When I was first reading about it I wondered about privacy – and that’s still a bit of a concern. You have to be registered and logged in to leave a note like – “the safe is behind the painting in the library” – but what’s to say people couldn’t log in with bogus personal information? I suppose that’s always a potential problem though.

The other issue – of course – is whether or not people are going to populate this thing quickly enough with information that others will care about. It seems like a cool idea but if it’s really sparse I don’t think it’s going to catch on any time soon. Maybe they can talk about how they plan on addressing that issue this evening.

Side Dish Companies:

Blank Label – Blank Label Custom Dress Shirts. I guess it’s fashion week at WebInno. I can get the allure of custom t-shirts but dress shirts? It’s not like these are tailored to you – it’s more about design and fabric. Again, being a 40-something year old guy it’s of limited interest – but if you’re some swinging guy in his 20s with a favorite color or pattern knock yourself out.

Dympol – Discount Your Music Purchases Online. Like most people I get a most of my music digitally these days. A buck doesn’t seem like that much for a song but less than a buck sounds even better. I looked for some music I’ve been listening to lately – Zee Avi and Zuco 103 – there was no Zee Avi and Zuco was only available for full price. Maybe if you dig current pop you’ll have better luck than I did and maybe over time the catalog will grow.

Kango Gift – Send a gift to your friend. Pretty simple idea. You buy a gift and they can redeem it by showing the cashier a text message. With all the interest in virtual gifts it’s nice to see a company that’s letting people use this kind of technology to give real gifts. I mean who doesn’t love a picture of a cup of coffee – but if you can drink the real thing on a friend so much the better.

Kartme – Organize and Share Your Favorites. I never got into delicious but this seems a little like that to me. But it has the added benefit of adding commerce to the mix with price alerts and whatnot. I’ll check them out tonight to figure out what exactly they’re doing.

Present.ly – The Constant Awareness Communication Tool. I guess I don’t see how this is different from Ning on one end of the spectrum of Google Wave. It allows people to share files, collaborate, etc., etc., etc. Again, maybe a demo will help me get me head around what makes this different.

Sponty – Create and discover real social activity feeds and be hangoutable. Aside from really hating the work “hangoutable” I like this one. People add events into themed feeds making it easier to find the types of things you’re interested in. There are other services like this – Upcoming for example – but it’s gotten big and feels clunky at this point. This seems simple, genuine and fairly light weight. There’s also an app which is critical for finding events once the night has started.

That’s all I have. I need to deal with things around the house, help kids with homework and get organized to go over to the event. Hopefully I’ll see you all there and we’ll all see how right or wrong I was about these companies.