Rob Birgfeld

My big boy in his radio debut. 


Email is my copilot

Yesterday, my wife texted me a picture of a notice I received from a debt collection agency. Yeah— great start. 

It was in reference to a speeding ticket in Washington DC — in 2008. It had somehow just surfaced and I was perplexed. I looked at the license plate number and it was most definitely not my car. I’ve been hoodwinked!

So I called the agency, which told me to check with the MD DMV, where my car was registered in 2008. I looked for online help— and then was pointed to call the general number. After about 30 minutes on hold— with zero progress, I decided to start looking through my email for any clues. 

You see, I have had the same email address (a yahoo account) since 1999. 

I looked it up by date — and just browsed through emails. In no time at all, I noticed an email confirmation from my dealership. Apparently, the day of the alleged ticked I did, in fact, have my car serviced — and had a loaner. 

Guilty as charged. I immediately paid the fine.

But what struck me is how core my email has become to me. Life events big and small are represented in this account — more than any other record I have (or may ever will) have. If I need tax docs, that’s where I go. Information on my car, my house, insurance…you name it. This is where I investigate. 

Of course I have other emails — including a gmail account to connect all the Google accounts I have and to put on my resume so I don’t look antiquated. But when I have something meaningful that I might need to reference or record— into the old Yahoo it goes.

Long story short: My Yahoo email account is without question the most powerful and dependable resource for management of my life. 

What an odd world we live in. 


Pew’s Social Media Update 2013 - Highlights for the Lazy & Cynical

The Pew Internet Social Media Update for 2013 came out this week and boy was I…well…not shocked by any of the findings. It’s mildly interesting to see gender, race and age breakdowns as well suburban/urban/rural penetration. But if you are shocked that women rule Pinterest and its mostly men on LinkedIn, you might be shocked that   However, a few nuggets I thought were interesting and worth discussing.

  1. 73% of online adults use social media in some fashion. I immediately thought of my friends who are adamant about staying off Facebook, etc. and my in-laws who think of it as the sign of the apocalypse and thought, this seems unlikely. Maybe they were counting YouTube as social media? But then…
  2. 71% of all internet users are on Facebook. So there you have it. That’s ubiquity— and while we get caught up in the “fading” talk about Facebook and how other platforms are taking over, the next highest in terms of penetration is Pinterest at 21%. Certainly impressive for a fairly upstart company (with about 140 employees) to come in second.  
  3. Instagram & Facebook rule frequency. 63% of Facebook users check the site daily. And 57% for Instagram. Twitter is next at 46% and the rest lag behind? What does this say (except the fact that Facebook’s purchase of Instagram was a great buy)? Mobile is, and will continue to be king— and the quickening integration with rich media (autoplay on Facebook and Instagram videos) is widening that gap. 
  4. Google+ not even included in the study. I used to make fun of the network, but I’m more bullish than ever because of their YouTube comments requirement, search integration and most importantly, the opportunity behind the power and ease of Google Hangouts. My guess is this is the last year it’s left off the list— as growth will continue in 2014.

Our real fascination with Facebook


I love to hate people on Facebook. I am judgemental. I am condescending. I am obsessed. And I’m not alone.

My close friends and I are constantly sending texts with screengrabs of the most god-awful updates, selfies and humblebrags one could imagine from people we work with, went to high school with, or somehow have become “friends” with. Each of these texts includes the comments we all wish would we could say— but never could in a public environment. Call it Facebook catharsis.

It is this backchannel amusement is most likely what keeps me tethered to Facebook. Sure I love keeping tabs on my close friends and family—but Instagram is largely taking over that need in a more friendly photo-first environment. For me and many of my peers, Facebook has become our looking glass into the world we don’t really see day to day: The childhood friend who constantly dishes out unsolicited career advice, the former coworker whose unexpected political rants have both made you question your one-time kinship and question your all-or-nothing hatred of those on the other side of the political spectrum; that guy you’re not entirely sure how you know…in fact, you’re pretty sure you’ve never met them, but you do have some friends in common.  But unlike your neighbor, who you see every day but are not friends with on Facebook, you can see their pictures, the music they’re listening to, the places they’ve been and yes…quite often…the terrible things they say to an audience they might not realize is listening.

When I read aloud a post I swear makes me nauseous, my wife asks why I don’t just de-friend and/or hide that person’s posts. I wish I knew why I  can not and do not. I have no answer, but because I have discussed this same phenomena with friends and colleagues, I believe it is something visceral and something that will keep Facebook relevant for years and years to come. The network’s scale and open-structure will continue to provide the context, via these “semi-relationships,” for more of this voyeuristic revulsion that we all revel in.  And as long as Facebook feeds the beast with algorithms that continue to showcase the updates we read, ogle and pass around, this is only going to get worse. Or better.

So good…also love the QR codes in DC Metro where there’s no wireless signals. Proving that there *is* a bigger waste of money than investing in QR code marketing: Investing in QR codes that cannot be accessed by the dozens of users around the world.

Simply climb down onto the tracks, carefully step over the third rail… Now, launch your QR scanner and… TRAIN!!!

So good…also love the QR codes in DC Metro where there’s no wireless signals. Proving that there *is* a bigger waste of money than investing in QR code marketing: Investing in QR codes that cannot be accessed by the dozens of users around the world.


Simply climb down onto the tracks, carefully step over the third rail… Now, launch your QR scanner and… TRAIN!!!


Why I believe in Pinterest

Pinterest LogoI am not active on Pinterest. I am not in their core demo. I have yet to cook, purchase or plan anything as a result of using the site. I believe in what they have built, expect its meteoric rise to continue and now use it as a marketing tool. Another point I think is important to make is I’m not a shiny new object guy. I test cool new platforms (I’m loving Path right now) and features, but ultimately, I invest very little time and resources to other middling social networks (ahem, Google+). So why do I believe there’s something to Pinterest?

1. Products and ideas needed a home. 

"Liking" and/or sharing products on Facebook has always been a bit of a square peg in a round hole scenario. Most use Facebook to keep in touch with friends, view and create updates of life moments and clever quips. Tossing in the occasional "I like this product" has always felt misplaced. In fact, those who "like" brand x and share product y are seen as annoying feed spammers, turning off their friends. It has worked in the short term because nowhere else allowed us to organize and post products and things we like in a relevant environment. That’s until Pinterest came along. The entire site is predicated on organizing these objects and finding great ideas, products and offers that are all about consumption. The context is there, and people gravitate toward the opportunity to share and identify great things.

2. Organization simplified

I’ve heard it before. Evernote is far superior and does the same thing— beyond just links and pictures. And as an Evernote superfan, that’s exactly the problem. It’s too much for people to handle and manage. Pinterest’s visual ease is what makes the platform social and appealing.

3. Anecdotes

When was the last time you heard someone (who was not a technophile) say “this is so much more addicting than Facebook!?” I’ve heard it from about six people thus far, and I include my wife in that camp. Am I addicted to it? No. Does that matter? Absolutely not. The proof is in the pudding.

4. Our addiction to chronology may be flawed.

Here’s why I’ve loved Pinterest as a marketing tool from the get-go. You post/share something on Twitter. Give it five minutes and it’s gone for good. Now move to Facebook and repeat. Sure, it will live on your profile (or Timeline)— but we all know the gold is in the newsfeed, which is fleeting. Pinterest has a feed of sorts, but the real discovery is based around how users organize and display their own boards. This provides far more evergreen content— complete with links that live beyond their 10 minutes of fame.

Time will tell, but I think there’s some substance to the rise of Pinterest.