Hi. Im Noah Echols.

...a husband, soon-to-be-father, kayaker, researcher, strategist, and gadget junky. I was born and raised in Atlanta, where I'm currently working for IQ, a digital agency that effectively marries intelligence and creativity to build award winning experiences.
Grindhouse Killer Burgers

Grindhouse Killer Burgers

Grindhouse Killer Burgers is a cool little spot in Buckhead. If you’re looking for a great and simple burger, this is a good choice. In my book, this is the city’s 2nd best burger joint to Yeah! Burger, but it’s definitely worth a try, especially if you’re on the north side. The burgers and fries are awesome. And I’ve had a milkshake, but I wasn’t all that impressed.

April 20, 2012 0 comments Read More
Testing Instagram to WordPress IFTTT

Testing Instagram to WordPress IFTTT

Testing Instagram to WordPress ifttt #blog | April 18, 2012 at 09:47PM
Testing Instagram to WordPress ifttt #blog

 

So, obviously this worked. If you want my recipe, here it is.

April 18, 2012 3 comments Read More
Kony2012 and Blood Minerals: The Consequences of Oversimplification

Kony2012 and Blood Minerals: The Consequences of Oversimplification

Invisible Children recently released a video aimed at raising awareness among Americans of the atrocities committed by Joseph Kony, the Ugandan leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army. Since its release at the beginning of March, the video has been viewed over 100 million times, spreading across the United States and around the world in a mater of days. Though Invisible Children has been active in the fight to bring Kony to justice since 2005, for many this was the first they had heard of the organization and its mission. And for that reason, the wide consumption of the video led to intense criticism of the campaign and the organization. While it is not my intention to detail the extent of the criticism that has been aimed at the campaign, I do think the comparison between it and the campaign to end the use of minerals in American electronic devices that originate in conflict areas is perplexing.

March 27, 2012 0 comments Read More
I Complained, Roku Listened.

I Complained, Roku Listened.

If you asked any of my friends, they’d confirm that I have tried to convince them to buy a Roku. I simply love it. When I got married in 2010, we decided not to pay for cable. We got a Roku as a gift, and with a $8 Hulu Plus subscription and a $8 NetFlix subscription, we’d save around $30 per month by just waiting a day to see our favorite shows. And we haven’t once second-guessed our decision.

When the second generation of Rokus came out last year, we got one of those for our bedroom, leaving the old one in the living room. That worked great until a couple weeks ago. Our original Roku XD got stuck in a boot up loop, and the support team couldn’t troubleshoot it. It was dead.

Roku Support told me that I was out of luck because it was 15 months old and they only covered hardware for 12 months. That made me a little upset because, while the Roku is a great product, I don’t want to have to buy one every year. I voiced my concern on Twitter, and I got an almost immediate response telling me that they would be happy to replace it.

After corresponding via email for a day or two, a replacement was in the mail. It arrived 2 days after I gave Roku my shipping address and it works perfectly.

Although it took a little public shaming to get them to stand behind their product, Roku did the right thing to keep a customer.

So, what are you waiting for? Go get one. You know you hate your cable company.

March 26, 2012 0 comments Read More
Divorcing Google

Divorcing Google

 

I’ve been a big fan of Google for a long time. I remember discovering the search engine as a kid before it was popular, and I’ve followed the company’s explosive growth. The tools they’ve created have been incredibly useful and innovative – from Google Docs to Gmail to Books. But today, I started the divorce process.

As Google has grown, they’ve gotten further and further from the ideals that made them so attractive. I gave them a pass when they decided to censor searches in China, choosing to take their word that providing some access to information was better than none. I defended them when it became apparent that bots were scanning our emails to surface relevant ads. After all, these tools are free and Google has to make money somehow. But the Android phone was a turning point.

I bought a Nexus S, and I admit that I love it. It is stylish, syncs well with all of the major applications on the web that I use frequently, and free turn-by-turn navigation is awesome. The problem is that Google is taking massive amounts of data from my mobile use. Of course, this is no different from what they are doing with my use of their web applications, right? Wrong. You see, I paid a lot of money for this Nexus S. I traded money for a product, so I shouldn’t have to give away my data. On the web, I am given free tools so I expect Google to display ads to make money. But that isn’t fair on an Android device. If they want my data, they have to subsidize the cost of the phone.

I’ve also watched Google mismanage Google+, taking an awesome product with some fantastic features and shove it down the throats of users. They’ve biased their search results shamelessly. And they’ve all but forced Google users to join a network that no one has a need for.

And what put me over the edge was the revelation that Google is changing their policy on personal data so that users won’t be allowed to delete their own data anymore. I’m sorry, but that is in fact evil. Regardless of what the fine print says, it is my data – it is information about my relationship, career, habits, behavior, personality, etc. that is being hijacked as I am pushed out of the equation.

I won’t do it.

So, today I started the process of separating from Google. I’ve moved most of the websites and applications I use over to an email address associated with this blog, I deleted my Google+ account altogether, and I’ve changed the default search engine in my browser to Bing (until a reliable alternative emerges).

Of course, after years of integrating my online life with Google very intimately, this divorce will take time. I cannot immediately delete my Gmail account. And I am unwilling to completely ignore YouTube as I personally believe it is one of the best social networks available. But the process has begun.

It is a sad day, but I think Google has gotten too big to do good.

I hope they fail.

February 28, 2012 0 comments Read More
My Favorite Spots Around Atlanta Coming Soon…

My Favorite Spots Around Atlanta Coming Soon…

I’ve lived in and around Atlanta my entire life, except for a few summers I spent away doing various things as a teen. As a married adult now, I’m living in West Midtown and working in the heart of midtown Atlanta. I know a lot about this place, and I want to share it with you. So, I’m pinning my favorite spots around the city (inside the perimeter for the most part) over on Pinterest, so check that out. And occasionally I will post some more detailed stuff on this blog.

If you want to contribute, I’d love that. Just hit me up on Twitter.

 

 

February 20, 2012 0 comments Read More
Stay-at-Home Dad Research: a liberal’s dilemma

Stay-at-Home Dad Research: a liberal’s dilemma

I’ve been working in my downtime over the past several weeks on an internal research project that aims to understand the stay-at-home dad. I started with secondary research, digging through the few marketing studies that have been published and the countless academic articles proclaiming the advent of the modern man. Then I moved on to a more ethnographic approach, analyzing forums, blogs, dad-targeted ads, etc. And what i’ve found is that the trend is growing very rapidly and that a collective identity is being formed.

I watched a conversation develop in the comment section of one blog post about how stay-at-home dads should refer to themselves. People threw out options like “full-time father” or “work-from-home dad” as opposed to “stay-at-home.” The conversation was heated with men and women alike weighing in. The woman’s perspective was interesting to me because it presented an experience the men didn’t have. One woman explained that her husband liked “full-time father” but when she used that phrase among her peers they felt judged, as if their husbands were only part-time fathers since they worked outside of the home.

One conclusion though is unanimous among the group: the term “Mr. Mom” is terrible. Not only is it emasculating for men, but it insults women by equating childcare with womanhood. This stereotype isn’t easily overcome, however. There are rumors that a remake of the 80′s film “Mr. Mom” is being planned which will by all accounts perpetuate the misguided gender associations. And even the census institutionalizes the stereotype by referring to a mother’s taking care of her children as “parenting” and a father’s as “childcare,” a babysitter.

I shared this ongoing identity exercise that is happening across the web in stay-at-home dad communities with two colleagues of mine. One was interested and concerned, wanting to ensure that the terminology we used, especially as we move into surveying and interviewing, was thoughtful and respectful of this social group’s experience. The other colleague was less concerned, opting rather to note that the phrase “Mr. Mom” is catchy so we’d have to think about it more later.

I really do try to hide my biases, but when it comes to dealing with people, especially ones that feel oppressed (as stay-at-home fathers rightly do), it is difficult for me to ignore obvious displays of apathy. I like to think of myself as a consumer advocate in my field, fighting for what consumers really want and protecting them from campaigns that would perpetuate oppressive stereotypes. But sometimes, often really, power wins – even when the decision-maker is acting on a whim. That is frustrating.

February 17, 2012 2 comments Read More
Sponsored Stories: Are they really so bad?

Sponsored Stories: Are they really so bad?

I wanted to start this post off by saying that the world got a little douchier today. That’s a much more provocative lead than this. But I’m not so sure.

Facebook’s much-dreaded Sponsored Stories product, which will essentially put ads in your news feed, rolled out today. Users have protested the placement of ads since Facebook introduced them, but this new product takes a bold step forward.

And part of me agrees with the protesting users. I mean, ads should be separated from organic content. And then there is the whole privacy issue too. Your actions on the site can now be used by a company to make them money without your consent. There is definitely some validity to the complaints.

But is it really so bad?

Sponsored Stories are going to take the things that you already do (“like” a page, check-in at a store) and tell your friends about it. These are things Facebook is already doing, but now companies have the opportunity to pay to promote your actions.

I think this is pretty brilliant. Studies show that 70% of consumers trust peer-recommendations over advertisements, so a brand is crazy not to take advantage of the opportunity to expand the reach of positive organic recommendations. And, let’s be honest, this is a much cleaner way for Facebook to make money than just surfacing some irrelevant ad on your page.

I think this product is a win for everyone, Facebook, brands, and consumers. But what do you think?

January 11, 2012 0 comments Read More
Edgerank is Vital to Your Brand’s Visibility on the Web

Edgerank is Vital to Your Brand’s Visibility on the Web

Remember when people launched entire companies dedicated to helping people get more visibility in Google’s search results? While search is certainly still a vital part of any brand’s visibility strategy, there is a new algorithm in town.

It’s called Edgerank, and it is Facebook’s formula for deciding what users see in their NewsFeed. Each object (a status update, a link, a video, etc.) is matched with each of your fans and then given a score for each. If the score is high enough, that object will appear in their Top News Feed. If it isn’t sufficiently high, the content is lost to that particular user. And even more alarming is that if the score is low enough it might not even appear in the user’s Most Recent News Feed, making it almost certain that he/she will never see your content.

The implications of this algorithm for brands are huge. You might have 1 million fans on your page, but unless they are actively engaging with your content, you are not reaching them. And that’s the key. Your Edgerank is determined by how much engagement you get from your fans. Facebook wants to show their users what they think they want to see. Your job as a brand then is to keep your fans engaged or lose their attention altogether.

Here’s how you do that:

The Edgerank algorithm is made up of three functions:  affinity, time, and weight. Affinity is based on the number of interactions your fans have with your content. The more a fan likes or comments on content, the more visible your brand will be to them. Time is how long its been since a user interacted with your content. Someone may have commented on 800 of your posts in 2009, but if they haven’t done it since, your Edgerank will be low. And weight is a way of prioritizing the types of actions a person takes on your content. A comment is weighed heavier than a link.

What all this means is that you must find a way of not just getting your fans engaged but keeping them engaged. Buddy Media published a white paper with ways brands can encourage interaction among their fans to increase their edgerank, giving you 10 tips for greater engagement. Here in the Digital Communication office at the Center we each have a copy on our desk, and I encourage you to do the same.

For those of you who are too lazy to go over and download the white paper, here are their 10 tips to help your brand stay in your fans’ news feed:

  1. Ask questions
  2. Post games and trivia
  3. Interact with fan engagement
  4. Incorporate wall sapplets
  5. Incorporate relevant photos

CLICK HERE FOR THE OTHER 5 TIPS AND AN INTERVIEW WITH BUDDY MEDIA’S MICHAEL JAINDL

June 29, 2011 0 comments Read More
Drugs, Child Pornography and Hit Men: 10 Minutes in the “Deep Web”

Drugs, Child Pornography and Hit Men: 10 Minutes in the “Deep Web”

At 14 I stood chest-deep in a cold swimming pool with a scuba tank strapped to my back. The mask covering most of my face, I plunged my head below the surface in an effort to learn what it feels like to be able to breathe under water, step one in training for scuba diving certification. I looked around the pool, seeing only the legs of the instructor before I lunged upward for air. As I wiped the chlorine from my eyes the instructor asked, “what happened? Why didn’t you just breathe?”

I had grown up around water, learning to ski not long after learning to walk, but breathing under water just felt strange, unnatural.

Yesterday, some 15 years later, I had a similar experience. A popular social networking site was abuzz about the “deep web,” this seemingly mythical internet underworld supposedly filled with drug lords, pedophiles, hackers and hit men. I spent much of my evening reading blogs and forums that explained that the websites that are searchable by search engines such as Google make up just 1% of the content on the Internet. But just out of plain sight, accessible only through certain browsers, is an internet wasteland, an underbelly to the web where old websites go to die. Because this part of the web is difficult to access, it has become a hub of vile and illegal activity, the Internet’s subconscious.

READ MORE ABOUT WHAT I FOUND (INCLUDING SCREENSHOTS)

June 8, 2011 0 comments Read More