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Our life in tiles: with the arrival of Windows 8, computing as we know it will change forever

By Ken Mays

If Microsoft has its way with the introduction of the new Windows 8 operating system, the way that we connect and interact with our computer devices (desktop, tablet and everything in-between) is going to change forever. No more mega-cluttered desktops and cutesy icons screaming for our attention. No more mouse clicks or pesky laptop touchpads. Instead, our life will now be organized as a series of rectangular tiles we view, touch, scroll and open. Borrowing freely from modern art and design movements like Bauhaus, Mondrian and Neoplasticism, Microsoft has taken the male-driven geek viewpoint of what a computer interface should look like, and turned it into a simple, touch friendly, human welcoming experience. Finally, harmony and order has arrived on the computer desktop. Perhaps most surprising of all is that this sleek, modern, minimalistic approach to the computer interface is coming from a company seeped in a corporate culture of clunky, cluttered dinosaur like techno babble. In effect, Microsoft has accomplished the kind of major breakthrough we expect to see only from Apple. Is Microsoft channeling the ghost of Steve Jobs or has the company finally decided to stop copying and start innovating. Either way, Windows 8 is a winner and represents the first major computing paradigm shift in decades.

Bad News for Big Ad Agencies

This just in based on a survey by Avidan Strategies and reported in Forbes Magazine. Large advertising agencies, who still control the majority of ad dollars spent, continue to struggle to prove the value of their services to clients. Meanwhile, their clients are questioning whether they are getting a reasonable return of investment for the dollars spent with the traditional ad agency. With the increasing fragmentation of media and the marketplace, many clients are moving business to firms that specialize in a particular area, such as digital marketing or website deployments. Coordination and oversight of these specialists continues to be the job of the large traditional ad agency, who according to the survey is falling well short of client expectations. Almost two-thirds (73%) of the study respondents say that small to medium sized agencies are more creative. Agency accountability, the study reports, is the main reason for the drop in client confidence.

Near Field Communication (NFC) getting closer

You’ve probably seen the television commercial more than a few times now. A long line of folks who have been waiting in line for hours to get their next great cell phone (iPhone, anyone?). Up walks someone else who touches the cell phone of his buddy in line with his phone and instantly sends him his new play list. That’s NFC or near field communications at work. The new technology that allows you to pass along or exchange information by touching your NFC phone to anything embedded with an NFC tag. Purported by tech gurus to be the next big thing in mobile communications, One of the great benefits of NFC tags is that they can be embedded inside objects like plastic covers, textiles or wooden elements, and they don’t require a line of sight. Most of the new mobile devices coming to market will be installed with an NFC chip. My only question is that if we embrace technology that lets two inanimate objects touch and exchange information, are we giving up too much control. Allowing technology to become our master instead of mastering technology seems to be a perilous path to take.

Quick Response (QR) Codes getting better results than traditional direct mail

A new report from Nellymoser and Mobile Marketer which tracks QR code response rates in national magazines, shows that consumers are scanning QR codes in advertising materials at higher and higher rates, ones that rival the response rate to traditional direct mail marketing tactics. According to the report, readers of these magazines scan mobile action codes at an average rate of 6.4%. Even the United States Postal Service has noticed, offering customers 2% discounts on mailings that include a QR code that drives consumers to a mobile-optimized website landing page. Unfortunately, too many businesses are still using QR codes to drive prospective clients and customers to their legacy websites, which either don’t show up or show up poorly on today’s mobile devices. It’s all about follow through. It’s not enough to just jump on the new technology bandwagon and grab a QR code. You’ve got to place the QR code in all your advertising materials and when scanned it has to deliver immediate, engaging relevant information in a mobile-friendly format.


An award-winning writer and designer, Ken Mays is President & Creative Director of Mays & Associates, a website development, online marketing and graphic design company located in Columbia, Maryland. Mays specializes in responsive website designs that automatically adapt to mobile devices, SEO, online advertising, email and social network marketing. Ken can be reached at 410-964-9701 (phone), (email) or visit the Mays website (

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