Jed Cohen

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Google’s Own Area Code?

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I got into Google Voice today.  For those of you who haven’t heard of it before, Google Voice is a kind of free super phone service.  You sign up, get a number, and can forward calls to that number to your work, cell, or home phone.  You can program in rules to follow (like if it is 8a-5p, forward to work, 5p-9p forward to cell, and 9p-8a forward to home).  Your voicemails are transcripted and indexable, and you can listen in on them as they’re being recorded.  You can also, you know, call people on it.

Anyway, the first thing you do upon opening your Google Voice account is select a number:

Google Voice Signup

I haven’t moved pass this step.

Why?

Because I’m not sure what area code I want to use.  In order to set this up, Google – okay, it was really GrandCentral, which Google purchased – obtained a whole slew of phone numbers in almost every area code in the country.  But they don’t restrict you to selecting the area code you live in when you sign up.  Right now I live in New York.  But I want to move to California.  Should I choose New York because that’s where I live now?  But when I move, won’t that be confusing to people I give that number to?  What happens if I select an area code in California but don’t end up moving there?  For that matter, I could pretend I’m based in Alaska, Nebraska, or Texas – three states I’ve never visited!  It could get pretty confusing if everyone starts choosing the area code they want instead of the one they live in…..

Yes, Google does let you change your number later (it’s $10).  But the whole idea of Google Voice is that the number follows you from place to place.  So why am I forced into choosing an area code, which inherently locks me into coming from one location?  I think this is an opportunity to improve on the service.  According to Wikipedia, there are several area codes not in use.  Why can’t Google Voice be assigned an area code?  After all, it’s entirely a virtual service, and as such is not bound by location (no idea what this would entail, but as I don’t work for Google, I don’t have to worry about the paperwork – I can just write what I want and they can choose whether or not to listen).

In the meantime, I suppose I’ll have to choose a number and stick with it for a while.  Do you think that Google Voice should have its own area code?  Did you put any thought into selecting your number?  Or do you think that telephones are so 20th century, and video conferencing/instant messaging/twittering is the way to keep in touch?  Leave a comment – I’m curious!

Written by Jed

July 28th, 2009 at 6:39 pm

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Social Media Fatigue

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I’ve  been experiencing social media fatigue over the last few weeks.  I’m not sure why, and I don’t know how to stop it.  What is interesting to me about this though it that social media is an entirely voluntary experience.  I choose to log into Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, FriendFeed, Digg, etc, and if I want to leave all I have to do is close my web browser.  So why should I feel overwhelmed with social media when I choose when I want to interact with it?

Take a look at the right hand side of this page and you’ll see a list of links to a few social media sites I’m on.  I’ve signed up for so many services, I can’t begin to assemble a full list.  Tumblr, Posterous, Delicious, YouTube, Disqus, Google, Scribd, SlideShare, and on and on and on.  My accounts on some of these sites are just placeholders in case I decide one day to use whatever features that platform provides.  And what I’ve listed here just scratches the surface of what is online.  What does the fact that there are websites like namechk dedicated solely to checking username availability tell us about the space that social media occupies?

This may perhaps be at odds with my last post, as there I was all excited about the growth of the third dimension of the social graph.  But as social functions are built into more and more websites, we run the risk of being unable to isolate ourselves from others online if we want to.  And why would we want to?  Any number of reason I suppose, from frustration with spam to a desire for privacy to a temporary bout of misanthropy.

Remember that work/life balance concept you may have heard of?  I wonder if we should begin to focus on a physical/digital balance as well as more and more people, companies, and brands enter the digital space.  As high speed mobile internet access spreads, should we be working to grow the number or quality of the interactions we participate in in the real world to match?  What happens when we shift more and more online to a hyperconnected web that lacks many of the nonverbal cues we use during in person interactions?  How can we stay engaged and focused when we flit from platform to platform like a hummingbird amongst the flowers?  And can we afford to take a break from social media to relax and focus on the real world without harming other’s perceptions of us?

Hopefully my social media fatigue will resolve itself soon.  In the meantime, I suppose I’ll be observing more than participating – which is one of the pluses of digital interactions I suppose.

Written by Jed

July 19th, 2009 at 8:48 pm

The Dynamics of Scheduling

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One of the common assignments during NYU Stern undergraduate classes is some kind of group project in the hopes that repeated group work will better prepare you for the corporate world.  Which makes sense.  It also allowes students to work on a more meaningful, larger project over the course of one semester than they would have been able to complete by themselves – such as developing an entire international marketing plan or creating a marketing strategy for a new product from scratch.  It’s also an opportunity to meet some people you might not have met otherwise. Yet for Stern students (and those of us non-Stern students lucky enough to beg/borrow/steal our way into Stern classes), these group projects come with one big disadvantage – having to schedule seemingly endless group meetings. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Jed

June 6th, 2009 at 11:11 am