STATE OF AMERICA
The Falling U.S. Birthrate- The number of U.S. births has been dropping since 2007, when they peaked at 4.3 million, just before the worst economic downturn since the Depression. But now, substantial declines in just one year among certain segments of women suggest a deeper and potentially longer-lasting change in childbearing. The 2011 birthrate fell 8% between 2007 and 2010 with a much bigger drop of 14% among foreign-born women. Many point to the economic downturn as the cause of the decline. States with the sharpest economic declines from 2007 to 2008 were the most likely to have bigger fertility declines from 2008 to 2009. “Most demographers were expecting a mini-baby boom,” says President of Demographic Intelligence Sam Sturgeon. “We anticipated that because the number of women of prime childbearing age has gone up. We were looking at what would have been the grandchildren of the baby boomers.” The boom never materialized,
BRAVE NEW CONSUMER
OMG! The Decline Of Texting – There will be fewer LOLs and TTYLs flying between phones via text as text messaging has posted its first-ever decline in the U.S. The decline is due in part to the rise of a variety of messaging services like Apple’s iMessage, WhatsApp, Twitter and Facebook which have provided users with free alternatives. Though the decline was small (avg. of 678 texts a month, down from 696) the change is noteworthy because for several years texting has been steadily growing. The decline is predicted to become more pronounced as more people buy smartphones.
Tumblr : A Microblogging Success – Tumblr’s unique blend of memes pushed it to become one of the top 10 most-trafficked websites in the U.S. Tumblr is a blogging platform that allows users to post mixed media on a tumblelog – a short form blog. With its emphasis on short, pithy posts and habitual use of it as a photo-publishing and social-sharing site, Tumblr posts are more closely related to Twitter feeds than professional, hefty WordPress sites. Founded in February 2007, with the tagline “Blogging made easy”, it collects more than 77 million posts a day across 79 million blogs today. If Facebook is the social network for online identification and authentication, and Twitter is for communication, Tumblr fulfills a different role: self-expression.
Tumblr’s meteoric rise proves there’s a desire for simple, elegant, short-form-content blogs that are heavy on imagery–a model that is being echoed elsewhere in the rise in photo sharing through iPhone apps like Instagram or Color.
Twine: A Chunk Of The Future – In the future, your house will send you a text message to warn you that your basement is flooding. It’ll e-mail you if your kids break into the closet where the Christmas presents are hidden. It’ll tweet you when to water your plant. Sounds like the kind of stuff you hear in those fantastical “future of…” videos. Not anymore. Two MIT Media Lab graduates have created a 2.5 inch “chunk of the future” called Twine that does exactly that and more. Twine is a puck filled with internal and external sensors and a Wi-Fi hub which detects anything from moisture to magnetism. Stick it anywhere and it’ll tweet status updates at your command. No coding skills required. To create the aforementioned “house that alerts you when the basement floods,” just plunk your Twine in the basement where its built-in moisture sensor will get wet if there’s a flood. Then head to Twine’s companion webapp, Spool, and create a simple rule-based program: “If Twine gets wet, send me a text message.” And blammo, that’s it. You now have a “smart” house.
ON THE RADAR
Follow Me: @pontifex – In a sign of the times, Pope Benedict XVI officially joined Twitter this week and already has half a million followers. His Holiness currently doesn’t have any tweets and only follows 7 other accounts – all of which are versions of his official handle translated in different languages such as German, Spanish, Italian, and Arabic.
Watch This: McDonald’s Canada launched a frank question-and-answer-driven social media campaign that has gone on to earn huge publicity and positive reviews. The “Our Food. Your Questions” campaign created a direct dialogue with consumers by inviting people to ask questions on McDonald’s website, Twitter and Facebook. Answers appeared online and some have been turned into in-depth video explanations. Watch an example here which explains why McDonald’s food advertisements look different from the food available in stores.
Watch This: The world’s first 3D photo booth has arrived in Japan. Using the power of 3D-printing technology, the Omote 3D Shashin Kan will turn you and your loved ones into miniature 3D figurines. It’s a photo booth-style experience that captures your 3D likeness using a special handheld scanner. The process takes approximately 15 minutes and your Mini Me is sent to a 3D printer. The service is only available until mid-January 2013. See examples of the finished products here.