KickStarter: The Good, The Bad…and The Paul

 KickStarter

In this week’s edition of “Masters Degree Studies with Kelly” we take a look at crowdsourcing. Our assignment was to take a look at KickStarter. Anything we liked? Anything we want to fund? Blog about it. As always…my purpose here is purely academic…

So there is a running joke in my home. Inevitably every month or so, some gadget will show up at our doorstep that will make a S’more without fire or turn any object into a robot or flush the toilet by winking. (Ok that last one may be a slight exaggeration)

The joke is…”Put down the KickStarter and Step Away from the Computer.”

My amazing spouse is brilliant and very successful professionally and personally. She is also a huge optimist, idealist AND a believer that you actually CAN flush the toilet by winking. Sometimes this is not bank account-friendly. She introduced me to KickStarter a year ago so when it came up in class this week, I was familiar with the site. My time on it was limited until now.

The Good

How can you not love the KickStarter concept? It’s a site for dreamers. It’s a site all about ideas. It seeks to tap the innovator in all of us. When it comes to KickStarter, I am more of a voyeur than a doer. I will happily read and potentially fund but I don’t think it is something I would do. I don’t really have any projects I want to fund but I absolutely see the merit in having this platform. It’s packaged nicely with famous quotes to inspire and it is very easy to navigate. If you haven’t been, here’s a small glimpse:

Surprisingly, I knew some of the projects, I just didn’t know they originated with KickStarter. Check out what happened in 2013 alone:

One thing I really like about KickStarter, you can tailor your search to projects local to you. I’m a big believer in trying to do what you can to boost your own community so I spent some time cruising projects local to Atlanta. There were all kinds of campaigns from music to fashion to weddings to science. Which leads me to the first of my three favorite finds this visit. It’s called the Sirens Project. It’s a campaign to fund drones to fly into tornadoes to further research and ideally, save lives. Take a look:

Pretty cool stuff.

Rounding out my three favorites, we turn to food and fashion. While I may have a ridiculous amount of handbags and purses in my closet, I am also a big fan of pockets. When you are going to a concert, an amusement park, a festival, a bar or just anywhere with kids, it’s nice to be able shove things in your pocket and not have to carry a ton of bags. I don’t want to always wear jeans to do this. Sometimes you want to still look hot and be able to hold stuff. To that end, there’s Pockett Boutique. Leah Williams promises to give you fashion with function:

Pockett Boutique
Pockett Boutique

Finally…despite my love of fashion, a girl’s gotta eat!

And this gal…likes her barbecue. More than just barbecue, I like the taste of charcoal-cooked, open flame food. It doesn’t have to be meat, it can be veggies too. There is just something about that taste that says “summer” and “Buckeye football tailgating” to me.  Enter Hexx. It promises to give you the charcoal, open-fire taste to all you cook AND you can take it anywhere.

Now I don’t have one but I may just back this and test it out. (If I do, look for a blog review soon!) In fact, I don’t have intimate knowledge of any of these products. I like the idea of them though. I like the optimism of predicting tornadoes to save lives. I like the function of having what I need at my hip. And I certainly like a good open-flame meal.

The Bad

ksabuser

As with most things, with good there is some not so good.  I don’t want to call out too many people here though. That’s not the purpose of this blog or in sync with who I am. After all, even what I will call “bad ideas” were inspired by something. Even if it’s greed, narcissism or just for giggles and grins, someone took the time and effort to start a campaign and put it out there.

Now That Said… I Give You The Paul

I came across this little ditty when researching for this post: The 10 Most Hilariously Awful Kickstarter Projects of All Time.

This one by far is my favorite. It’s so bad, it’s good. Thank you internet. Thank you.

Oh and in case you were wondering…I have managed to keep Paul from arriving on our doorstep.

Down the Rabbit Hole: My Trip Through Second Life

 We looked at Digital Ethnography this week for my University of Florida Masters Degree program specializing in Social Media. For an assignment, we had to spend at least two to four hours in Second Life. This exercise is purely academic…

secondlifelogo

I’m a beach gal. Born in southern California, my childhood is threaded with moments spent swimming at Newport, Santa Monica and Huntington Beach. When I was in Junior High, my family took our first big vacation together to the island of Oahu. I fell in love with Hawaii and as an adult have had a handful of occasions to return with friends and my better half.

It’s not just an island, it’s a lifestyle. An awesome one too.

So I was pleasantly surprised to discover that my journey down the rabbit hole of Second Life was not a beach-less one. In fact, I could visit some of the greatest beaches in the world– and I did. My adventures extended beyond the sand in my toes though…

Meet SloanFierce

SloanFierce, Second Life
My alter ego

* 26 years-old, Aspiring singer

* Waits tables by day, sings in clubs by night

* Only child, parents are dead

* Single

I’m sure there is some psychology to who I chose and what she does but I really wasn’t focused on that. I was more about getting in and checking out this world.

Where I Went & Who I Met

If  you have never been to Second Life, it is alarming at first because you just get dropped on an island. When I first arrived, I was surprised by how self-conscious I suddenly felt. Then again, I was dropped right next to a naked man who literally kept running into me. (Possibly a fellow student learning their way?!)

I was worried about interacting with others and proper etiquette. Being able just to function in Second Life is a little challenging at first but once I learned to move and fly, I was off.

I changed my clothes but that was a process and a half. I am sure it was because I was new but there were just so many options. Too many if you ask me. So I checked out the categories for newcomers. I entered “The Shelter” where people were friendly and willing to help. There were several bulletin boards teaching basic instruction and of course, shopping.

Snapshot-New Citizens_001
The Shelter…a safe haven for new citizens

From there, I wanted to go exploring to places I have been and places I have never been. I wanted to see just how “real” the experience would be. First stop: Miami Beach. It was exactly as I recall Miami Beach to be…complete with the constant thump of techno music.  Next stop: Rio ~ A place I have not been.

brasil_001
A trip to Rio

I walked around and talked to some people but I don’t speak Spanish and found that most people did during the time I arrived. I ended this trip into Second Life at Machu Picchu. I have never been there and always wanted to go. I flew around for perspective and walked a lot. I hung out with the Sherpas and alpacas. It was fun but certainly not the real deal.

I logged in the next morning to round out my experience. I spent $10 to buy $2500 Linden to see what a commerce experience in Second Life entailed. Upon completion of the transaction, which I did via PayPal, I was immediately informed that there had been market fluctuations in the Linden and a credit would be applied to my account (Nice touch Second Life).

Day Two was a little stranger. I decided to explore what I will call the darker side of Second Life. I went to the Adult sections to a place called Hathian. It was a bit much. You walk down a gray and black maze with various billboards advertising sex toys, pornography…even brutal S&M depicted with photos of black and blue women. The corridor ends with an elevator that takes you down to The Crack Den. The Crack Den was a whole different city scape with fires burning in abandoned cars, prostitutes on every corner and an occasional home. I walked into one and was promptly told to get the hell out—it was private property. So I did. I also got the hell out of The Crack Den! (Slide Show below ~ Warning: Adult Content)

From there, I went to Temptations Resort. Bad Idea. Not even worth discussing.

I checked out Featured Events, more new citizens places and even walked the streets of Italy. In the midst of all of this, the system kept crashing and pushing me out. I logged back in and when I did, I was dropped in the middle of what I will call Naked Land. Take a look (and this is with some creative cropping for a safe-for-work image):

adultsnapshot_001

I still don’t know where I was. I asked what was going on and mentioned I had just been dropped here. That was met by laughter from other SIMS. I was told it was “rolling restart day” and that many SIMS were restarting which can affect the Second Life experience.

What Do I Think of Second Life

I have mixed opinions on Second Life and in the end, it all comes down to the intention of the user. I can see so many benefits from many areas I explored. I went to Indiana University. I climbed a beanstalk. I went to the John King experience and lived like a pirate. I walked the streets of France and refreshed my ear to the sound of my second language. I revisited Bondi Beach…a place I have been to in real life…and recalled pleasant memories. I see the educational value of Second Life with its ability to pull in people to learn and discuss. I see the imagination stimulation for a child to climb a beanstalk or be a pirate. I see the possibility for someone without means or sick or unable to travel to explore real places and have some rich experience.

I also see the Rabbit Hole. I put earphones on and immersed myself in it. There are so many little touches that enhance the experience drawing you in deeper. Native languages are spoken in the background when you travel somewhere international. Music and ambient noises compliment the location: NPR plays in the background while touring a nuclear plant, HawaiianRainbow.com plays the ukulele while you stroll Oahu. People are having intimate conversations and when you move near, you hear every word. I even witnessed a marriage proposal. When you capture an image, your avatar snaps a photo and you hear the camera. When you chat with someone, your avatar types. The beaches come complete with crashing waves, porpoises squeaking and the crunch of the sand.

I didn’t spend a great deal of time in the seedier side but I can see where curiosity would pull in someone who has never tapped into that environment. The sex and crime and grit feels very real because no detail is spared. It is rare that my eyes left the screen. When I am working or surfing, I often get distracted and look up or out the window. In Second Life, I found this didn’t happen. When I finally logged off and looked up, my eyes hurt, I was tired. There were many nice people but it just all seemed too much. It is just real enough to be sad.

So What of SloanFierce?

By the end of my journey through Second Life, I was ready to return to real life. I’m very aware though that the naked man and the newly engaged couple and the pirates are still inside there, living their lives. Just like Sloan ~ my personal alter ego and tour guide. So I did what any responsible girl would do. I plopped her down in the sands of Hawaii, left her with the meditative crashing waves, singing dolphins and the sweet sounds of the ukulele.

inhawaiishestays_001

Power to the She…& to the SEO

Assignment Snapshot: Pick a favorite multinational company and create a list of 10 keywords you think should be associated with that company and its products. Do a Google Search of those keywords and see where in the results (if at all) you find the company you selected. Go to the company’s site and review their coding to see if any of the words you selected appear on their homepage

If you know me, have read this blog at all or seen some of my discussion posts for the Social Media Masters Program at University of Florida, then you know I am an aspiring yogi. It started after the birth of my first child when I was very overweight and fighting the baby blues. I’ve written about this journey in the Namaste section of this blog so I won’t dive into it here. Part of that journey though, was discovering the Athleta brand. They are yoga clothes for normal people like me. While in my head I may look like this:

yoga pretty

The reality looks more like this:

twister

SO WHAT IS ATHLETA?

logo

 According to Athleta, they are  Gap Inc.’s premier fitness and lifestyle brand in the rapidly growing women’s active apparel market. Athleta offers high-quality, stylish, and functional apparel, footwear, and accessories across a  wide variety of sports and fitness activities, including crossover apparel and casualwear. Athleta products are found online, in stores, and through catalogs.  Athleta, the premier name in women’s fitness  fashion, values inspiring an active lifestyle from yoga to running to cross-fit. Athleta values motivating others and tapping into our collective power as women. Their slogan or tag line is Power to the She. Athleta was founded in 1998 in Petaluma, California. It started as a catalogue business that grew into online sales and was purchased by Gap Inc. in 2008 for $150 million. Since Gap Inc. acquired Athleta, they have opened  over 80 brick and mortar stores. (as of September 2014)

Ten keywords or keyword phrases for Search Engine Optimization:

  • Womens fitness clothing
  • Womens yoga clothing
  • Discount yoga clothing
  • Womens fitness fashion
  • Yoga clothing
  • Running clothing
  • Athletic clothing
  • Yoga pants
  • Sportswear
  • Yoga brands

I performed a Google search of each keyword phrase. The gallery below shows each result (click on image for larger view):

Athleta chooses to pay for Yoga Brands, Yoga Clothing, Womens Yoga Clothing and Athletic Clothing. Priority appears to be expansion and fighting the perception that they are only a yoga brand based on their purchase of the top spot, left rail for the keyword phrase “Athletic Clothing.” They still clearly emphasize yoga based on these searches and you see they paid for a top right rail spot for the keyword phrase “Womens Yoga Clothing.”

In reviewing their homepage, some of the keywords appear directly on the page visible to all. First, in the title of the site captured above the URL (see below) you will see “Womens” “Yoga Clothing” and “Run Clothing”.

The words “Fashion” and “Sport” also appear on the homepage. Looking at their site, they are really focused on performance, style and versatility. If I were going to redo my list, I would consider adding these in but with clothing or fashion also included.

In looking at the site’s HTML and alt tags, I found the following (click to view larger image):

Under metadata the description reads:

“The ultimate performance apparel for women. Shop Athleta yoga clothing, running clothing, swimwear & more online and in stores. Clothing designed and tested by and for women athletes.”

The metadata description is formatted well for SEO based on some of my choices. Below you will see the keywords that Athleta uses in the metadata above. The bold ones align with my choices above :

  • Athleta
  • athletica
  • womens yoga clothing
  • swimwear
  • running clothing
  • athletic clothing
  • workout clothing
  • exercise clothing
  • swimwear
  • tankini
  • bikini
  • one piece swimsuit
  • yoga pants
  • yoga tops
  • running tops
  • running shorts
  • skort
  • golf clothing
  • tennis clothing
  • special sizes
  • petite sizes
  • plus sizes
  • tall sizes
  • organic cotton
  • tights
  • yoga tights
  • run tights

They wisely use a common misspelling of their brand “Athletica”, the importance of which was discussed in lecture this week. Given the look and layout of their homepage, I would also consider adding performance wear and athletic style to keyword phrase choices.

Overall, based on this metadata and my Google searches, Athleta does a nice job capitalizing on SEO for the customer they want to target.

For me, the love affair is about comfort and price. I’m not a size zero and I want to practice without being half-naked. Athleta clothes accomplish this for me and I’m grateful for that.