A Little Dabble Do Ya

7 06 2012

The last blog of the semester is always a bittersweet one for me. Some days I struggle to find time to write (although I am seldom ever at a loss for words). While I do look forward to the mental break, I know that after a month of down time, I will be more than anxious to fire up the writing engine again for summer school.

As for my students, I am sure they have been ready a long time for me to take a break. This is the 96th blog of the semester; aside from my annual Spring Break re-telling of how I met my children’s mother, each and every blog has been an original. (For the record, I allow myself two reruns per year…the one at Spring Break, the other at Thanksgiving, in which I share my Adbusters story.) If anything, the end of the semester has come at a good time…our collective wells are running dry and we need a downpour to recharge the aquifer.

We have come a long way, though, since the 18th of January, in which I led off with a blog about Pandora. Facebook has once again been a frequent topic…with the release of Timeline and acquisition of Instagram gaining the most print. We have praised those companies with a vision for the future, while bashing those (think: Walmart’s online cash option) who have their heads in the sand. And as per usual, the course this year has been very different from those of previous years. You can count on that. It’t the nature of evolution. Something new and presumably better is always coming around the corner.

Which leads me to my topic du jour: Dabble, the social geo-location based photo app. Think FourSquare. Think Instagram. Think Facebook.

Yeah, pretty much all rolled into one.

The gist of it is this: it is a social way to create virtual postcards of places, all of which are tied to specific locations. Your friends and followers can view yours and vice-versa; others can also see your pics if they happen to be at that particular place. In essence, it becomes a crowdsourced journal of photo postcards that over time could serve as a gigantic repository of images from all different angles.

I know. You’re thinking, “But who needs yet another social network?”

Probably no one, to be honest. It’s hard enough to juggle Facebook and Twitter, much less FourSquare, Instagram and Pinterest. And like all the others, Dabble cross-posts to all the majors (if you wish), so you do not have to worry about only a handful of people seeing your photographic genius.

So I have taken it out for a test drive. I have one Dabble friend; I have one picture (a pretty awesome shot of WT’s Old Main, I might add). Dabble does not have the retro filters of Instagram, but it does have that geo-tagging feature so that all who shoot campus pics after me will bow before my lens.

Of course, location-based services all bring with it enormous user risk in the form of TMI provided to total strangers…like, “Hey, I see that so-and-so is not at home right now…and in fact, he is 1000 miles away.”

Which is another way of saying that, with all things social, use some sense. Don’t tell so much that you may as well have left the key in the door.

But aside from this drawback, I can see Dabble (or one of its competitors) actually having a glimmer of hope. We are far from seeing the end of creative juices flowing among entrepreneurs and developers. The end is not near.

Except for this semester, that is. It is my hope that during the last 96 blogs your eyes have been opened to the length and breadth of marketing as it continues to evolve, for it is an entirely different animal than it was a mere three months ago. And it will continue to change. Come back in a year and this course will not be the same. Literally.

And now may you go forth with the wonderment of a child as she partakes of new experiences. May you act like a kid in the toy store of innovation, grabbing at least one of everything new. And may you never forget your old toys, because those were what made you who you are today.

Be sure to take a picture and post it. Next year’s students will have fun dabbling with it.

Dr “Photo Finish” Gerlich

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