It’s easy to feel like we’re constantly behind the times when it comes to online trends. Not only are products out of date as soon as you take them home from the store, but the needs of consumers online change even faster. Therefore, writing a physical, hard-copy book about upcoming online and mobile trends cannot be an easy task.
Consider then, the lot of the lowly book reviewer, who’s one step behind even the author. That’s why I figured I should get my review of Marc Ostrofsky’s new book Word of Mouse: 101+ Trends in How We Buy, Sell, Live, Learn, Work, and Play (Simon & Schuster: 2013) online before the new year.
Turns out I’m already too late. Thing is, it’s a book that promises to be dated almost before it’s even released. Ostrofsky includes revelations such the fact that Facebook uses facial recognition software in your photos or that you can actually buy groceries with a smartphone. To be fair, I should have suspected as much by just looking at the cover; I mean, who voluntarily uses a mouse that’s physically connected to a computer anymore?
Though most of the book relied on out-of-date* studies to make points that digital natives already intuitively know, I did find a couple of interesting tools in the book:
Datameer is a company that sets up a dashboard using a site’s analytic data that “enables regular business people, not just data priests, to pose questions,” according to the author. As someone who regularly has to deal with a frustratingly complex analytics software that seems to be written in another language, this seems to be an idea whose day has come.
I love using Yelp to plan where to go out to dinner or find a reputable shoe repair place near the office. But I haven’t downloaded the mobile app, mostly because I always felt that Google Maps could provide all the on-the-go info I need. Of course, Google Plus reviews aren’t as good as Yelp’s, and as I just found out in Ostrofsky’s new book, Yelp has this thing called Monocle, which can give me some of the features of Google Glass with the added benefit of not making me look like a huge dork. It uses the same augmented reality technology to overlay the rich dataset provided by Yelpers onto the real world. I haven’t downloaded it yet, but I might just have to try it this weekend.
The last item is especially for readers. Have you heard of Referral Key? I hadn’t, but it’s a free tool that makes so much sense for real estate professionals that I’m kind of surprised that it’s new to me. It appears to be an online referral service with a built-in reward system that offers referrers real stuff (most notably, steak!) in exchange for offering qualified referrals. They have a special section for real estate profiles, along with other pros you might expect, such as architects, dentists, and insurance agents.
But although this book wasn’t really for someone like me, it does have a large potential audience. We all know someone who struggles with the difference between a Facebook fan page and a profile, or someone who’s never heard of retargeting, Klout, or crowdsourcing. This book is perfect for that person. It’s just too bad that no one decided to market to that segment, instead using PR power to promise trend-crunching skills at the bleeding edge. I’m not judging here; it’s just that this book is a little behind the curve. But then, aren’t we all?
*mostly circa 2011, which is fine if you’re writing about something other than the Internet.