Facebook is Rolling Out Product Tagging for Facebook Pages – Do You Have This?

screen-shot-2016-09-24-at-12-38-13-pmAs I was working on a client’s Facebook Page the other day I came across an interesting new feature that Facebook alerted me of in a little popup. It asked me if I wanted to tag any products in my post. Evidently, Facebook is slowly launching the ability to take products from a business’s product catalog and “tag” those products in page posts, linking back to the product on the website. Up until this point, the feature has only been available to advertisers.

As far as I can tell, the feature seems to be linked to the “product catalog” feature inside Facebook Business Manager. Businesses can upload, via a custom XML format, a product catalog to Facebook which in the past could be used to automatically populate Facebook ads with product data such as name, description, pricing, and more. This was the premise for Facebook Dynamic Product ads, which allowed advertisers to create simple ad templates for dynamically showing ads based on the latest products a person visited on the company’s website. Companies can place Facebook ad pixels on product pages which link, via product ID, products with the uploaded product database.

Once a business has a product catalog uploaded, Facebook will show a new icon below posts you make on the Facebook Page, allowing you to include product attachments or “tags” to your Facebook posts. If there are no other attachments to the post (like a link or image), the product or products show as a large box below the post, when clicked taking you to the product’s page on your website. If an attachment already exists, I haven’t tested, but I believe it still marks the product with a link back to its page on your website as being tagged in the post.


So what value does this have to Facebook Page owners? It is one additional way to add attention to products you want to sell through your Facebook Page – for instance, if you do a Howto on Facebook about how to do something with one of your products you can tag the product as well, encouraging fans to go buy the product. It gives a little more attention and reason to go and purchase.

What I’m most excited about though is the potential this has for e-commerce in Facebook’s future. For instance, Facebook is currently working on a “buy” button for Facebook Pages allowing you to sell products right inside Facebook as a page owner. This allows you to attach the product, with its embedded “buy” button, potentially allowing fans to purchase the product right inside Facebook without ever leaving their favorite social network.

This release is just one step closer to Facebook’s e-commerce rollout. This is one reason states like Utah and New Mexico who are being approached by Facebook to have hosting facilities in their states should seriously be considering allowing these hosting facilities despite any cost it has to them. It gives these states “Nexus”, allowing them to charge sales tax from buyers when Facebook does become an e-commerce site, as is about to happen.

It’s important to pay attention to these product releases – this is just one step towards Facebook’s quest to be the number one e-commerce site in the world. Do you have this feature? How will you use it?

If You Didn’t Think RSS Was Dead Before, Facebook Just Killed it, Completely

At Facebook’s annual F8 developer conference this year, with announcements from robots, artificial intelligence, virtual reality, and more I finally feel as though I’m in the future. I’ll try to cover more of my overall thoughts later on the conference, including a review of the Galaxy VR and Samsung Galaxy S6 that they gave out at the conference that I’ll review over on my Social Geek gadgets blog (you can see the unboxing here: https://www.facebook.com/JesseStay/videos/10156815617030113/). That aside, among all their announcements there was one that stood out to me: Facebook is launching their “save button” for saving articles for reading later to allow websites all over the internet to allow saving, right on Facebook. This, in my not so humble opinion, effectively kills RSS, as a consumer blog and article consumption medium, once and for all.

I wrote way back in 2012 after Google killed their Google Reader product that RSS was dying (despite others arguing to the contrary), and warned bloggers and businesses that they should be finding other mediums, such as email, to replace that consumption format and ensure continued traffic and readership to their blogs. Sure enough, if you read Google trends, a natural interest in RSS fell by at least 50% back in 2013. People simply aren’t using RSS readers any more, and I’d argue if you even mention “RSS” people won’t even know what you’re talking about. RSS isn’t social. You can’t reply via RSS. You can’t share via RSS. Only social is social and Facebook just opened that (using “open” very loosely) to the entire web.

With Facebook’s new Save Button for the web businesses can now copy and paste simple code into their articles and allow those articles to be saved to Facebook for the user to read later. Now users can read all their favorite articles in one place in an environment over 1 billion people are already familiar with: Facebook. To add to that, Facebook launched Instant Articles, allowing publishers all over the web to format their articles for users to read right inside Facebook. Users in essence never have to leave Facebook to read your blog. Get them to like your page, perhaps mark it as “See First” or a favorite or add it to a list, and now when they see your articles in their feed they can click on the articles and click the “Save” button to save it for reading later. That pretty much resolves most of the functionality of an RSS reader!


With the death of Google Reader there really wasn’t a very solid solution for replacing RSS. Getting users to subscribe via email, while somewhat effective, meant your articles would bombard their email inbox. And the remaining RSS solutions simply weren’t near as widespread as a Google product. As social began to take over people began to get used to consuming curated content rather than everything at once.

I feel the Save button, especially with Instant Articles, resolves all that – one place, in a familiar curated news feed, for your readers to consume content. If you’re not already considering this, you should start looking at integrating the Save buttons into your own website and turning on Instant Articles. For instant articles, just search from “Instant Articles” in the WordPress plugin directory. For Save button, see the links above and you can get code to integrate into your website.

How to Create a Facebook Native Shop for Your Facebook Page

Over the last couple months Facebook has been gradually releasing native shops for your Facebook Page, allowing you to sell things right inside Facebook on your company’s Facebook Page. This feature, at least in theory, should allow companies to sell more because there is less opportunity for turnover in clicking outside Facebook to an unfamiliar website to purchase an item. The jury is still out though on whether these are truly effective, and Facebook seems to only gradually be putting priority into this feature. Here’s how to set it up if it’s available. Be sure to check out my Snapchat via my username jessestay to see a quick video synopsis:

Step 1: Adding Items to Your Store

The first step in setting up your “Shop” section is to verify it is available to you. If the feature is available, without logging in, you’ll see an empty little “Shop” that looks like this:

To start editing your shop, you’ll need to log in as your Page. I usually just click the “Manage Page With Business Manager” option if your Page is being stored inside Business Manager. Otherwise, you are likely already logged in. Once you’re logged in, the Shop section looks like this:

Now you just need to add products to your store. Just click the “Add Products” button and a dialogue that looks like this will pop up:
Just fill out as many products as you want, adding pictures, price information, how many are in inventory (so you don’t oversell), and what shipping methods are available. Now you have a very basic store! When your store is complete it will look like this on your page, as shown on my page, Minecraft For Dummies:
Associating With Stripe:

Once you have your store set up you’ll want to associate your store with Stripe so you can accept payments. To do this, log in as the admin for your Facebook page, and click “see all” in the upper-right of your store. Now in the upper-right select the little drop-down and select “Manage Shop”. This will take you to a page to edit your items, add new items, create collections of items, and more. Now click on the “Shop Settings” tab:
From here you can associate or create a new Stripe account, which will allow you to let people pay by credit card, and allow you to receive payments through your bank account. That’s it! You’re now able to sell products right inside Facebook. But wait – there’s more! You can also advertise your products now to new and existing audiences!
Advertising Your Shop Products to Audiences:

The easiest way to advertise a product from your shop to new audiences is to just click the “Boost” button underneath the item in your shop when you’re logged in as admin for your Facebook Page:
When you click on the Boost button a dialog pops up allowing you to specify specific interest groups and locations where you want to target your product ad. You can also target just to people that like your Facebook Page. Here is what that looks like:
Unfortunately, right now the ONLY way to advertise products inside Facebook (outside your own product catalog on your website) is to boost the post, meaning Facebook optimizes your budget to spend on showing that product to the most number of Facebook viewers in your target audience. It WILL NOT (at least currently) optimize for actual sales of the product. This is disappointing, but where it is still in a test market, I am betting this becomes an option for advertisers in the future.
What is also odd is that Facebook makes you manually enter your products. This will not be an easy option for a major e-commerce retailer, for instance. What would be ideal, and I anticipate for the future, is that Facebook would allow you to import a product catalog from Business Manager, an ads feature that allows you to do cool things with retargeting of visitors of specific products on your website. Imagine this: a customer visits a particular product on your website, and the equivalent Facebook native product (loaded automatically from the same Business Manager Product Catalog) shows up in an ad, allowing that visitor to purchase right inside Facebook.
There are still a lot of features to come, I can tell, but regardless, this process should simplify simple retailers looking to sell a few things right inside Facebook. It also simplifies the purchase process, meaning fewer clicks, more data about customers, and the ability for customers to never need to leave Facebook for the purchase experience. THAT’S POWERFUL!

Announcing My New Reviews and Gadgets Blog, SocialGeek.tv

It was 11 years ago that I started this blog. We’ve been through a lot – I originally began the blog to account for things I discovered while programming various things I built on the side. It has evolved into a combination of that, reporting on tech news, sharing personal stories, futurism, and sharing marketing insights I have with my new (un)agency, Stay N Alive, LLC.

In addition I’ve started a few Youtube channels including GeekGreens, focusing on geeky gardening tips and tricks, StayTube, my family vlog sharing our adventures, most recently with a cleft palate daughter, and The Social Geek, focusing on gadgets, tech reviews, and my adventures in tech. I most recently started appearing on my local Fox affiliate, Fox 13’s “The Place”, where I report on fun gadgets, apps, tech news and social media. I’ve decided it’s time to bring a little more focus to the blogs to match what I’m doing on Youtube and elsewhere. For that reason today I’m launching SocialGeek.tv!

SocialGeek.tv is intended to serve as a resource for my Social Geek Youtube channel content, as well as the work I’m doing with Fox 13’s The Place. I’m hoping to make this the place I share all my gadget reviews, not just in video format, but also writing. I’ll also share my visions of the future, howtos, and plain old geeky stuff. My escapades at CES this week will be chronicled there.

What happens to StayNAlive.com? This will remain the blog and home page of my (un)agency. I intend this to be the place where I share marketing news, social media insights and information that can serve my clients and others, and a place I can share info on how my (un)agency operates. Most of the previous posts on StayNAlive.com will remain here. For personal posts, I’ll reserve most of those for Facebook, as well as my more personal blog, Stay N Faithful.

If you’re not sure which one to follow, follow both, or you can subscribe to my Facebook Page at http://facebook.com/stay and I’ll share everything there. There is RSS on both sites, and soon I’ll have an email subscribe option on SocialGeek.tv.

As I expand, my hope is this will allow for more product reviews and gadgets without a mixed message. If your company has something they would like me to review, I make no promises and may even provide a bad review if I don’t like it, please contact me. I’d love to try out your product and give it as objective a review as I can.

Comment below on what products you’d like me to review or share on SocialGeek.tv. And don’t forget to subscribe to the new blog! To the future!

How to Scan Anything You Want Into Minecraft Using Sprout by HP

A couple months ago, I was lucky enough to be one of a few that were selected to receive a Sprout by HP. As part of the criteria, they wanted me to come up with some ideas for cool things I could build and make using the device, which has a 3D scanner built in. I got my Sprout, and I’m loving every bit of it!

The Sprout by HP comes with a touch mat and scanner, and also has a touch screen. It comes with an optional keyboard and mouse but honestly, especially if you’re a casual computer user you can do most functions without a keyboard or mouse at all!

The scanner points down at the touch mat, and not only projects images onto the touch mat, giving you a second screen to work with, but also scans the touch mat allowing you to select objects and use the touch mat itself as a touch screen. With the Sprout by HP’s scanner you can scan anything from simple paper documents, to 3D images. And if you have the optional and separate 3D Capture Stage, you can scan even more accurate and 360 degree images that you can use for various things like what I’ll show you in this demo. I’ll share an unboxing of the unit in a future, much less formal video.

I wanted to figure out something really cool to do with the computer’s 3D scanning capabilities. My geek friend, Chris Pirillo, suggested I figure out a way to scan things into Minecraft with the 3D scanner. Naturally, since I literally wrote the book – okay, a book, on Minecraft – I thought this was a really cool idea. I’m afraid to admit I wasn’t sure it could be done at the time, but I’m proud to say I figured it out, and it’s actually fairly simple to do!

To do it, you need the Sprout by HP (go buy it now on HP.com or select retail stores!), and just a few software programs that will bring your scanned item into your Minecraft game. Here’s what you need:

  • First, you’ll need a copy of the stable release version of MCEdit. You can download this by going to khroki.github.io/MCEdit-Unified/ and clicking on the button at the top. Make sure you don’t download the development versions, as those do not yet have all the features you need. Once downloaded, you can install the program – I’ll show you how to run it for your purposes later.
  • Next, you need a special script, created by user pepsi_ on minecraftforum.net, that will let you convert the native Sprout by HP 3D scans in .obj file format into MCEdit readable format. I’ve created a downloadable file at www.dropbox.com/s/kn04sr9amy5ntvy/obj2mc.zip?dl=0 – I’ll include a link in the Youtube description and on the blog post about this video. When you download this file just unzip the file and remember where you put it.
Now that you have these things, you get to have some fun! Let’s start by scanning in you item to the Sprout by HP. To do so, tap “3D Capture” on the Touch Mat. You’re going to use the optional 3D Capture Stage which you can purchase at sprout.hp.com for this demo. Select “3D Capture” on the screen, and then choose “Automatic Scan”. You’ll then be prompted to connect your 3D Capture Stage.
Once the Stage is connected, follow the instructions on your screen. You’ll be prompted to scan the background – remove all items from the touch mat and stage, and allow it to scan the background. This prepares the unit for scanning your image.
For my purposes, I like to put the stage in the tilt position. To do so just twist the stage, and place your item. It’s wise to use the supplied sticky tack to hold it in place, as the stage will spin around during the scan. Once your item is in place, you’re ready to scan! Select “Start Scan” and sit back and watch it do it’s work!
Once your scan is done it will prompt you to have the option to do it again. I recommend doing this as often as you need, each time in a different position – on the side, on its’ back, flipped around and so forth until you’ve given the computer every angle you possibly can to develop as accurate a 3D image as possible. When finished, it will save to your hard drive. It will also show up under your 3D scans in the Sprout Workspace to use in other projects.
Now you just need to export the image into a location you can easily access. To do this, with your 3D image open, select the upper-right hand menu and choose “export to obj”. This will allow you to name the file and select where you want to place it – for your purposes you’ll place it on the desktop for ease of access – DON’T FORGET WHERE YOU SAVED YOUR FILE!
Now you’re ready to import your 3D image into Minecraft! This is where the fun starts.
To import your image into Minecraft you’ll use MCEdit. Before you open that though, you need to export the file into a format MCEdit can understand. Remember the obj2mc program from earlier? You just need to run it.
To run the file, just open up the unzipped directory you unzipped earlier. Run the file obj2mc.exe by double-clicking on the file. The program should start running and a new window will pop up with different options. You just need to select your scanned obj file that you just created.
To select the file, select the “…” button in obj2mc. Double-click on the file you just saved on your desktop. And now your file will be loaded!
At this point you can edit any of the options on there. I suggest leaving most of them alone unless you know what you’re doing. Now hit “convert”, and your file will be created in the same place as your original obj file. Let’s import it into MCEdit, which will allow us to choose where in your Minecraft world you want to place your newly scanned item!
First of all, it’s important to note that obj2mc does not scan in color, so your object will be in a gray, generic stone type of Minecraft block. Maybe if someone updates a new program to update these to color, I’ll do another video.
Let’s start by opening MCEdit. Just double-click on the MCEdit executable once you’ve installed the program. Now open up the map from your Minecraft world. Click on “import”, and then select your scanned object. Now place it where you want it to go in your world. Select “save” and your object will now be there when you visit Minecraft!
In future videos, I’ll show you how to upload your Sprout by HP scans onto a Minecraft server so you can share with other friends and never lose your objects. I’ll also show you how to take objects you place or create inside Minecraft itself, and print them out on a 3D printer like the sub $1000 Dremel 3D Idea Builder which works quite well with the Sprout by HP. I will also note that HP sent me one of these to review, which I will share in a future episode.
The Sprout by HP opens up a whole world of possibilities for makers and hackers like myself. I can take practically anything from the real world, import it into the digital, and even produce it back into the real world again in a new, but more creative dimension. My mind has had a mad rush of thoughts and ideas of things that can be scanned, modified, and even printed out using all the different and cool sensors on the machine. I can’t wait to come up with new possibilities and ways to improve on all of this, perhaps maybe even developing a UI inside the Sprout itself to import these into your Minecraft game. The possibilities are endless.
To get the Sprout by HP go to sprout.hp.com. I also suggest the 3D Capture Stage for more accurate 3D images. The Dremel 3D Idea Builder can also be purchased from a link on the HP website, and I’ve had a blast turning my digital creations into physical with the Dremel! A special thanks again to HP for sending me this amazing product.
Now go make things!
Disclosure: HP sent me a Sprout by HP computer, 3D Capture Stage, and Dremel 3D Idea Builder for free, and also sponsored this video and blog post. While that has certainly influenced my excitement, I plan to keep these units and enjoy them for future videos and blog posts which were not sponsored by HP. I really do love this product and plan to share even more in the future! The Sprout by HP is teaching me a lot about where manufacturing and product design is going in the future, one where just about anyone can make things right in their own living rooms!

Facebook Quietly Launches Ads API for ALL Developers

Some amazing things have been announced at Facebook’s annual developer conference, F8, going on yesterday and today in San Francisco. From new apps for Facebook Messenger, to a platform for Internet of Things, to one of the most amazing explanations of the value of virtual reality I’ve ever seen, Facebook has by far made up for last year’s F8, which I suggested was a bit uninteresting. But one thing went unannounced that I think bears merit, and I discovered it within their “Developers Garage” here at the conference as I was talking to people working for Facebook at the various booths. That was the launch of Facebook’s advertising API to all developers, making the entire API public.

Up until “recently”, as Facebook reps weren’t able to give me a specific date that it went live, you used to have to apply to access Facebook’s ads API through a very hard-to-find form on the Facebook Developers website. Now, in a very prominent location, Facebook has released a “Marketing APIs” section of their developers website, allowing any developer that needs it to access Insights data, custom audience creation and access, access to a business’s pages and assets, along with the ability to create and access ads on behalf of a business. According to Facebook they released them recently but there is no blog post or official announcement about the release.

To get started with the Facebook Ads API, developers just need to create an app and under “Advanced” within the app settings, set an ad account ID to associate ads with. Then, developers have access to a slew of API calls they can use to retrieve an ad account’s ads, create and modify custom audiences, and even create and target new ads to new audiences in very custom ways. I often use this for my clients to integrate and custom target ads to very specific users that are visiting certain parts of their websites or mobile apps.

Typically, while a developer may be able to code an app like this, they likely won’t know how beneficial this feature can be to a business, which may be why Facebook did not make a big announcement about the feature. Knowing these things can be automated is something critical for marketing organizations to get to know and understand, and one reason I always suggest the more technical elements of marketing orgs visit conferences like F8. These tools Facebook just launched are extremely valuable and can be the key to, with a small update, allowing orgs to have that extra edge against their competitors.

So if you haven’t tried it out yet hop on over to Facebook’s Marketing APIs in their developer documentation and start learning what you can do. To me, this is one of the most valuable and most major announcements to come out of the Facebook F8 developer conference and it wasn’t even announced from the stage. I’m kind of okay with being one of the “few” that knows about it though!

No Known Solutions In Sight for Copyright Issues or Monetization for Facebook Video

At Facebook’s now annual F8 developers conference, 2 issues seemed to be on the mind of developers and content creators in the audience of their “What’s New With Facebook Video” session: copyright infringement and in-video monetization. But when asked about it, Facebook seemed mute.

Among the features launched at Facebook F8 this year was the ability, just like Youtube, to embed native video from Facebook on websites and other 3rd party products (see video below). This launch allows further distribution of video, and improves the capabilities of video shared on websites to be shared beyond previously available through solutions such as Youtube video.

While big news, Facebook still failed to address what was on the top of everyone’s minds: how to address the rampant stealing of video on Youtube subsequently being shared on Facebook by those who don’t own the video. When prompted by one questioner, Facebook responded saying they had not come up with a solution, and that such a solution would take a long time to come up with. “We’re learning”, Fidji Simo, Facebook’s Product Management Director over video said, suggesting these types of products take time to develop.

I pressed further, specifically citing Google’s Content Manager solution that allows copyright owners to upload their copyrighted content to Youtube in order to notify Youtube of the copyrighted material, so as others upload the same content it can be automatically flagged and removed. The response I got back was pretty much the same, citing the complexities and difficulties of such a solution. There seemed to be no plans, at least that they were willing to admit yet.

While I admit I don’t understand the complexities of such a system (in developer speak, you would just create a “hash” of the video, and for every video uploaded match the content of those videos against the hashes of other copyrighted material in the Facebook database), it was comforting to know Facebook is at least understanding of the problem. It was completely clear to me they had heard these issues before, and were actively trying to figure out a solution surrounding the problem.

As for monetization, Facebook seemed unclear on whether in-stream video ads were the future for Facebook video. They said they were trying to reach out to other content publishers to work on business solutions for the video, but nothing had materialized yet. Not quite the information I was looking for, but it’s comforting to know that they know the problems.

While I understand the complexities of video, copyright, and monetization, I am perplexed at the lack of communication on the problems surrounding these issues. It doesn’t seem to me like Facebook is doing their best to reach out to the influencers and friends of mine I’m aware of in the Youtube community (all with millions of subscribers) that could be providing feedback around the platform. At a minimum, Facebook could be calming the waters a bit.

In the meantime, we’ll continue to see videos like these produced, unless Facebook can either provide a solution or start better communications with Youtubers affected by these issues:

How to Find the Fans of Your Facebook Page

I had a client ask me the other day if they could identify their 10,000th fan for a giveaway. The truth is on Facebook, they don’t make it easy to know who your fans are. In the Facebook API it limits you up to only a few hundred fans that you can retrieve (and that only works on occasion). You can use Graph Search and a combination of a couple Google Chrome extensions to download up to about 5,000 fans (I’ve never been able to get more). But to get the entire list hasn’t been possible until I discovered this one cool hack, and it sorts it by most recent person who liked your page! Here’s how you do it:

The secret is in a little-used feature that allows you to easily block fans, and find fans you have banned from any Facebook page you manage. To get your list of fans, do the following:

  1. Go in as an admin of your page to your Facebook’s “Settings” tab at the top. This is where you can configure your page and modify how you want to administer your page.
  2. Select the “Banned Users” option on the left. This section allows you to configure who has been banned and who hasn’t.
  3. In the drop-down that appears at the top, click on it and select “People who like this”. This is the list of all people who have liked your page!
In the ensuing list, if you scroll through it all you will have a list of every single person who has ever liked your page, sorted by who liked it most recently! So if you want to discover who your 10,000th fan is, wait until shortly after you reach 10,000 fans, go to this page, and count down the number of fans over 10,000 it was when you looked at the page, and the fan you end up at will be your 10,000th fan!
Unfortunately, you can’t use this trick to enable a Chrome extension like AnyAudience to download the list yet, so you’ll have to scroll through all users to see the entire list. This does enable that possibility though, and I anticipate app developers (maybe I’ll do it) will build out a Chrome extension that works with this so you can use your list to build lookalike audiences, or to analyze with Facebook ads.
However, this does provide, since it is a sorted list, a way to identify who your latest fans are, and do promotions around that. What other tricks have you seen allowing you to learn more about a Facebook Page’s audience?

The Entirely Contextual, Peer-to-Peer, Self-Aware Future of Technology

This article is part of the ‘Think Further’ series, sponsored by Alger Financial Management. For more ‘Think Further’ content and videos, click here.

As I talk to others in the tech industry, I’m often asked, what’s next for technology? First there was the PC, then the web. Then came the dynamic web experiences and “web 2.0”. Following that came social media, mobile, and the appearance of all your friends and family, as well as personal information into that web experience. So what’s next? The future of technology is all about the end user. It has no servers. It has no “destinations” that the end-user has to go to or search for on some company’s website. It’s entirely contextual, peer-to-peer, knows the user, and follows the them wherever they go. But what about beyond that? Where will we be in 20 years, 50 years, or even 100 years?

Predicting 50 years into the future is not an easy task to consider. The truth is, the number of possibilities and directions, as well as the acceleration of knowledge and technologies that will exist as we evolve in that direction are beyond what we can even imagine. But, with our limited knowledge and the paths we can currently see, we can make an educated guess at the direction for technology, and what that may mean for society. As I attempt to do this, I’ll focus on the paths I’m seeing now, and what it could mean for the future.

The Peer-to-Peer Society

One of the biggest changes in technology that will occur over the next 50 years will be the advent of what I call “The Peer-to-Peer Society”. There are technologies right now, which require no centrally owned server or business entity to ensure the success of the network occurs. Take Bitcoin, for example. Bitcoin relies on a technology called “The Blockchain”, which relies on a massive, peer-to-peer network of personal computers all verifying who “owns” money. Now imagine if this concept were applied to other things, like file systems, DNS, or even privacy?

In the future your computer, or even phone or embedded chip in your body will store encrypted copies with links to other encrypted data of everything owned by everyone in the world. Only those people with “private keys” will have access to that data, but they will also be able to designate access to that data to other people. Take, for instance, your address. You could provide access to the Post Office a public key that contains your address. Only they would be able to access your address and know where to send your packages. Then, along the way, no one will ever know your address but the Post Office and yourself.

Another element of the Peer-to-Peer society will be the advent of peer-to-peer commerce. Because of technologies like above, more people will “rent” things and “use” things, rather than buy them or own them. We will move, as we are now, from the ownership of digital content and the ability to easily share the things we create on our own, as well as things others have created, to the ability to easily share physical products and things we both create on our own, as well as use from our friends. Brands will need to come up with new ways, just as they have with virtual content, to reach people with physical content. Some are calling this “the sharing economy” or “collaborative economy”.

Taking this even further beyond, brands may not even be in the picture. In the future technology will enable people to do business with just other people, and we will all be a part of one large peer-to-peer ecosystem where everyone is sharing with each other, doing commerce with each other, and only the technology itself will serve as any form of organization of that commerce. Corporations will no longer have humans controlling them. Corporations will be autonomous and every “member” of those corporations will be their own CEO.

All your utilities will work this way as well. Everyone will run their own power – solar, wind, etc. all from their own yards and houses (which again, might even be rented from other members of these corporations), and will supply power to the rest of the autonomous power grid. Internet will be an entire mesh, with everyone containing wireless antennas that communicate with each other openly, no centralized ISP necessary. Water will be shared from house-to-house in various means. People will offer composting, recycling, and trash services from their own personal homesteads where they turn the garbage into useful items for generating more energy, plants, food, and products.

Sensory Data and Self-Awareness

We live in a world currently of mobile phones, tablets, and mobile technologies. Smart watches are emerging. Exercise tracking devices are starting to become mainstream, tracking your every move and storing other data alongside that. There is even a contest for a device that tracks health data so well, that it can identify diseases before you even know they exist. In the future, yours, and my life will be extended exponentially because sensory data will know before Doctors can even know there are statistical anomalies going on, in real time, with our bodies.

The future holds no destinations. The idea of “a world-wide web” where you have to go to a place by typing in a URL will be gone. The idea of “apps” you download and open on your phone will no longer exist. Instead, the devices you carry, if you even carry a device (you will likely have chips implanted in your body, connecting eyes, brain, even smell and taste all together), will tell you before you even need to look it up, what you want to know.

Walking by a restaurant? A notification pops up telling you your friend’s there and they’ve got a really cool idea you should go talk to them about.

Or, maybe your blood-sugar’s a little low. Another notification comes up to tell you a really good restaurant is nearby, or maybe it’s not even a restaurant – it’s someone’s house who voluntarily sells yummy cake for any visitor willing to knock. (remember my autonomous, peer-to-peer corporation that I mentioned above?)

Everywhere you go, software running within one of these autonomous corporations will know exactly who you are. Identity theft will be impossible. It will know what you like, who your best friends are, who you interact with, and the things you need to best exist in the world.

Flying Cars?

What’s an article about the future without a mention of flying cars? Well, I don’t think flying cars are necessarily in the 50 year future, but I think faster transportation is. For one, cars won’t be driven by people. In fact, those that run the mapping software will control the transportation system. You’ll simply ask  (or it will detect automatically) to go somewhere, and an automatic driving car will show up at your door, no cost to you (except maybe a few prompts to go places nearby that you’re probably interested in, that others may have paid for), and take you to your destination.

The roads will be different as well. There are already prototypes of solar roadways that can be replaced by panels that inter-link together. Having powered roadways opens up a whole host of possibilities. For instance, what if magnetism were employed like bullet trains?

If there are no humans operating the cars, then the entire paradigm of driving changes. Roadways can now change to be much more like trains. Remove the friction from the wheels, and add lightning fast response times to the automated cars that all talk together, and you can be from one house to another all the way across town within just minutes. So perhaps flying cars are possible!

Space, the Capitalist’s Frontier

You can’t talk about the next 50 years without talking about the commercialization of space. As autonomous corporations take over, this is the entrepreneur’s next playing field. This is where all the future resources will come from.

Not only will people begin to be able to travel to outerspace for leisure, but they’ll also be able to stay there, and even live there. Wealthy, higher share owners of these autonomous corporations will fund the hotel chains and apartments in space. And this is just the beginning – it only starts in the earth’s outer atmosphere. We’ll venture further and further away from earth as we realize there is money to be made elsewhere in this universe.

There are already competitions to mine the moon, and asteroids, and other planets. There are practically unlimited resources in those places! As we do that, we’ll begin to settle each place we venture to, and our society will no longer be just earth. This introduces entirely new paradigms we can barely even understand today!

The end of Manufacturing as we Know it

With the advent of 3D printing, all sorts of things are changing. Currently, entire manufacturing lines are being replaced by completely automated “printing processes”. These machines that can print a device from the ground up out of varying materials will get smaller and smaller, and the number of people needed to produce the products will become less and less.

Factories will no longer be needed. People will just buy 3D printers for their homes, or for their businesses, and print the things they need, or the things they want to rent out to others. Even food will be printed! The entire problem of off-shore manufacturing here in America will be an entirely moot point.

It’s hard to wrap our minds around the next 50 years. What I’ve suggested here may sound crazy. However, contemplating current technology trends and the possibilities already available to us, I really do not think we are far off. Our future here on this earth and even beyond is really bright! And I think, with technology, there’s a good chance many of us adults living today will actually live longer than many preceding us to see it.

Google+ Isn’t Dying. Facebook Isn’t Dying. The News Feed is Dying.

Paul Adams, inventor of Google+ Circles, and an all-around smart guy, wrote a post I shared earlier today on Facebook about basically the death of “the destination”. His post really resonated with me. I’ve long wondered, with the death of Google Authorship among other things being removed from Google+, if plus.google.com would stick around, instead being favored as just a layer across all Google products (Google+ therefore still definitely having a future). I’ve come to the conclusion of this: The idea of “a news feed” will be dead in the next 5 years. Facebook as you know it will be gone. Twitter as you know it will be gone. So will plus.google.com. Heck, arguably Google.com will be gone too.

Instead, the status update will still exist. Privacy will still exist. Your social graph will still exist. So will all the meta data about you – your phone location, likes, interests, and much, much more. But you won’t have to “go somewhere” to see all this stuff or consume it. It will all just be delivered to you as you need it.

Imagine getting updates on your phone, or watch, or Google Glass equivalent saying “because you like Google, your friend just said, …” Or, you go by a good restaurant and up pops a message saying, “So-and-so was just here and posted this picture”. Or, “We know you love pictures of spiders. Terrie Gray (Louis Gray’s Mom takes amazing macro photography) just posted some really awesome pictures of spiders you’ll want to see.”

This is the direction we’re headed. We’re actually almost already there with things like Google Now, Safari notifications, the lock screens on your phones, Facebook Home, and more. The truth is, the concept of “a news feed” or destination site like plus.google.com or facebook.com will soon no longer be necessary. This is why Google Inbox just launched. It’s why my phone is getting smarter and smarter, and why Apple and Google are now launching watches. It’s why Google launched Google Glass.

It’s also why Google is removing features like Google Authorship from Google+. The fact is, SEO will no longer exist in the next 6-7 years, all in favor of contextual optimization. What does that mean for a marketer? It means instead of trying to optimize what your content says and how it appears when someone searches for it, you’ll instead be trying to understand your exact audience for your content, what their location is, where they could be consuming it, and adapting different versions of your content for all sorts of different audiences. You’ll also be building apps to take advantage of all the sensory data available from your audience and building contextual experiences around that.

I finally think I figured it out though. Google+ isn’t going away. Neither is Facebook. It’s the News Feed, and in some ways, search, that are going away in favor of contextual experiences that aren’t destinations. The data and experience is still all there though – it just follows you, instead of you having to go towards it. Mark my words. This is our future.