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Big tech – from simple tools to cynicism and hapless users

Reading about big tech controversies can make you sigh.  Rant on. You may remember when the browser arrived.  Maybe you knew about Mosaic in 1993 or Netscape Navigator in 1994.  But you probably did not try them unless you were a geek -- because there wasn’t much to look at then on the so-called World-wide-Web.  Apple’s Safari did not appear until 2003 and Google Chrome in 2008 – eventually these dominated the browser market, though three cheers for the existence of privacy-oriented browser Brave (2016) and search tool DuckDuckGo (2008). No doubt both will disappear into acquisitions. As for social media, things really got going with AOL Instant Messenger in 1993 -- then all was pretty quiet until 2003-4, when LinkedIn, MySpace, Skype, and Facebook all arrived. 

65 is the new 85 -- Covid-19 cultivates elements of ageism

Is sixty-five the new eighty-five – and is ageism trendy?  Note the interesting behavior of ‘leaders’ during the time of Covid-19.  Consider the EU guidance: "The chief of the European Union's executive has warned the block's elderly that they may have to stay in lockdown till 2021 due to the new coronavirus." And in California, as seniors use more technology to communicate with others, the executive director of the Village Movement California, Charlotte Dickson, observed that EU guidance is consistent with Governor Gavin Newsom’s thinking for California and his March 15 order telling the 65+ to isolate at home: "You’re basically disappearing almost 30% of the state of California, and ageism is all about disappearing people … once you retire, you’re done. If seniors are being asked to continue physical distancing for the better part of the next year or two, divisions between generations may calcify."

Ten Years – Technology for Older Adults – 2009-2019

Look back to remind us where we are.  Ten years ago, the tech product choices designed for older adults were few and rudimentary. The intent was simplification of the basics for the tech-reluctant – sending email, looking at information online.  As an analyst migrating from the IT industry, it was startling to see the limited capabilities of the offerings like Presto the Printing Mailbox (used, eBay), Celery (printing mailbox – gone), Mailbug (device to send-receive email – still on Amazon), and Big Screen Live (browser for seniors - gone).  According to an AARP Healthy@Home report from 2008, the only home tech device that had any level of awareness (91% of responders) was Personal Emergency Response Systems (PERS).

Technology Tool Tarnish – Facebook, Twitter, Google, and LinkedIn

Facebook is the company we increasingly love to hate – but boomers still ‘like’ it. So much negative press, well deserved, about Facebook lately, including the lawsuit about knowingly duping children playing games. Then there was the Pew Research estimated number of deleted accounts (mostly young people) and no small deal, a big security breach.  Clearly this is a company with management issues – and someday will either fail (unlikely), be broken up, or be regulated, even in the US, which has for some unknown reason done nothing to date, unlike privacy actions taken in Europe.   According to eMarketer, though, baby boomers are still big users – of the 76.4 million of them, 31.9 million are using Facebook. Hopefully not trying to stay connected to teens – who are departing for other platforms like Snapchat, according to eMarketer, including Snapchat. On the positive side, Snapchat is not yet owned by Facebook – which will be combining Instagram, Facebook, and WhatsApp into a single platform by 2020.

How the media loves to talk about loneliness among older adults

Shall we take this WSJ article at face value? Rant on. From yesterday’s Wall Street Journal – pops up a dramatic headline, The Loneliest Generation, describing how baby boomer Americans, more than ever, are aging alone. Did you know that ‘social isolation’ has become a named baby boomer health condition, spiking Medicare costs by an additional $134 per enrollee – tucked into the list that includes arthritis (+$117 of cost) and diabetes (+$270), source AARP?  Most of that additional spend was on nursing facilities and additional hospitalization.  Hmm.  What’s wrong?

The ABCs of the Internet Today – Ads, Bots and Crushing Clutter

The business model of the Internet is crushing us.   Rant on. We could start with Twitter, which is deleting millions of bots, trolls, and other fake accounts (often with automated software generating hundreds of tweets per day).  This is raising concerns over the company's growth and true number of monthly users. But it's not raising concern about the business and social value of Twitter. Has anyone looked at the age distribution of Twitter users? Only 8% are 65+, and the biggest block is aged 18-29.  Consider that its share price and profit of $61 million in Q1 2018 are tied to growth in "legitimate human users -- the only ones capable of responding to the advertising that is the main source of revenue for the company." Translate: capable of responding because they are human 18-29 year-olds, not necessarily because they have money to spend. And then there are:

It's not about your grandmother - 10 steps before launching!

You want to launch a boomer/senior, home health tech, caregiving, product or service. Or other. Your new company gets ready to travel into battle for west coast networking, or you're back from San Francisco or Silicon Valley, consider this guidance, now that cards have been exchanged and follow-up emails sent. Soon your new or existing company will officially launch a new product or service, or a much-anticipated offering will finally ship. You read AARP and Pew survey research reports. Now look over this 6-month-old updated checklist.  And you look back on the 2009 advice – which is still valid, especially about creating community around the product – more important than ever. And as for item 6 in this post, THIS MEANS YOU!   Really now, are you ready? 

Today’s Big Tech vendors give Tech a bad name

You remember Big Pharma.  Not long ago we heard a lot about it. This widely used term was once coined about the largest drug companies, often with the biggest direct-to-consumer advertising budgets, malpractice suits, lobbying budgets, fines, political influence and of course, sizable profits.  When it was newsworthy to talk about it, the Big Pharma image was tarnished by too much negative media attention. And so the industry works harder at maintaining a low-key profile as it continues with business as usual.   Big Pharma spends money on public relations and marketing -- $21 billion anticipated in 2016 alone. 

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