At the Crossroads of Media, Culture and Technology

Viral Video: World’s Toughest Job

Flip the Media Viral Video Graphic

It’s been just three days since Cardstore has released its “World’s Toughest Job” video, laying out requirements and qualifications that at first seem absurd. The “job” has received rave reviews from viewers across professions. If you are still not following and wondering about the toughest job, then here is a quick review of the ad released by Cardstore ahead of the Mother’s day! Watch it first, then read on.

As you can see, the company posted online a fake job posting and interviewed candidates via video calling. The interviewer explains some of the requirements of this tough job which demands mobility and exertion seven days a week with no breaks and holidays. When you thought things couldn’t get any more worse – or any more hilarious – the interviewer adds that the company will pay nothing to the candidate who is expected to meet the extraordinary demands. Toward the end when the interviewer reveals that there are billions of people doing this job out in the world and are known as ‘MOMS’, the audience is left with a brief smile.

The confident interviewer, confused and surprised candidates, and the crisp script beautifully bring out the idea that we often forget to value the contributions and sacrifices that moms make throughout their lives to protect and guide us. She is the only one who loves us unconditionally and is the source of steely strength. After watching the ad, each requirement  (Constantly working, always on the feet, 24X7, no scheduled break, financial management and culinary skills) described by the interviewer to describe the job made more sense to me.

Cardstore couldn’t have asked for more perfect timing for tagging Chelsea Clinton as Director of Operations (aka mom to be). The campaign has definitely engaged mothers by asking  them to add more content to the job description on company’s blog. Enthusiastic moms are posting images of their little ones in different moods and giving thumbs up to the idea of #World’sToughestJob. 

The advertisers picked up a simple idea and creatively infused the message and brand name, which will have a high recall value for a long time. The video  has already recorded more than 3 million views.

Cardstore has definitely nailed it with its amazing, unique & touching take on the world’s most beautiful and toughest role: Mothers!

How to Hit the Right Tone For Your Content Strategy

Variety of Icons Showing Different Aspects of Content Strategy

Graphic by Hanns-Peter Nagel

In our multi-channel media world, brands and organizations increasingly rely on elaborate content strategies to coordinate their communications. One key factor in sharing a brand’s story successfully across all platforms is a consistent voice and tone. In the fourth installment of our content series we talk to Sara Cardace, editorial director at Nordstrom, about how to find your brand’s tone, how to maintain it, and what challenges might lie ahead.

Before joining Nordstrom in 2012, Sara was the women’s editor at online flash sale fashion website and a writer and editor for New York Magazine. Her culture features, profiles, reviews, and interviews have appeared in New York Magazine, the Washington Post, the New York Post, Interview Magazine, NYO Magazine, as well as on,, and

Many people have a general idea of what an editorial director does at a newspaper or magazine. What is the role of an editorial director at a large brand like Nordstrom?

I’m the first editorial director at Nordstrom so honestly we are still figuring out what the role means. Typically, the editorial director has the final say on tone and copy. That’s one piece of it. But another reason that brands are bringing editors on board is to craft editorial calendars and help them map out their storytelling in a way that is purposeful.

Essentially that means ‘What are we talking about, and when?’ What holidays are relevant for us to talk about? Are we a brand that talks about Coachella and festival season, or not? When are people thinking about what they are buying for prom and so on.

What is relevant for Nordstrom right now?

Right now, we have a woman named Olivia Kim who was brought in to set up pop-up shops in some of our stores. Customers love them, we love them, and they are bringing Olivia’s curated culture into our experiences. The response has been really great because it is truly authentic to her style and interests.

How would you describe Nordstrom’s brand voice?

I can tell you what we are not going to be. We are not going to be totally irreverent. We are not going to be sarcastic. It would not be true to our brand. Nordstrom is a very positive, feel-good kind of company and we are obsessed with customer service. We may push the envelope here and there but we are not going to do something that risks making people feel bad.

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How Far Will You Go to Protect Your Privacy? How Much Can You Protect?

It gets your attention. Heartbleed logo, by Codenomicon

It gets your attention.
Heartbleed logo, by Codenomicon

If you’re concerned about security or just sick to death of hearing about the notorious Heartbleed bug, you may want to shut out the internet’s pervasive Heartbleed noise.

But perhaps you shouldn’t. It’s a catalyst for a long-overdue discussion about what it means to be a part of the virtual world, what this means for the open source community and who we trust.

At times like this, those of us who were feeling a little behind with the state our online security game have been busy. Some sources estimate that more than a third of us do not have password protection on their mobile devices. Other estimates put that figure much higher. If you haven’t been concerned about the issue (is your password “Password”, like so many other people out there?), now is the time to take stock: Find a better way to protect yourself and stop leaving a digital key under your virtual front-door mat.

My own personal productivity has taken a hit since last week’s news about the Heartbleed bug. I’ve been busy changing passwords, of course, but I’m also revisiting my personal online security infrastructure. And if the figures regarding weak passwords – and no passwords at all – are correct, many of the people reading this should do the same.

Of course that’s what has so many of us chewing nails. It’s a pain to step away from the seductive power of our online tools for a few minutes – or several hours – to evaluate how we use those tools and how our use of them is making us vulnerable. It’s also difficult for most of to find the time to do so because of our perhaps not-so seductive work and/or school obligations. Hackers happily exploit this fact of modern life.

How did we get here?

By this time, most tech-savvy readers know that Heartbleed is not a virus, created deliberately to entrap unwary netizens. Rather it’s a coding error in the OpenSSL cryptographic software library, an inadvertent omission by one of the open source programmers who contributed to the free software that is ubiquitous in much of the corporate world. Robin Seggelmann , the German Ph.D. student and programmer whose error gave us the Heartbleed bug, was working on improving the security of the system at the time. The ball that he dropped – a failure to validate a variable – was not caught by the code reviewer who certified his code. It’s the type of error that’s easy to make, but supremely difficult to spot. It did not create a functional error, but merely created a vulnerability for someone with the imagination, the technical ability, and the will to exploit a system weakness. Therein lies a one of the glaring weaknesses of today’s complex systems: we don’t know what we don’t know.

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Viral Video: The Best April Fools Prank

Flip the Media Viral Video Graphic

Although we are now well into April, this beautifully executed class prank continues to garner views. Why? Perhaps because it shows respect and an easy camaraderie in the macroeconomics class where this all happened – and how easy is camaraderie to find in macroeconomics? No professors were harmed in the making of this video.


ZunZuneo: Social Media Falls Into the Wrong Hands

Zunzuneo logo

Zunzuneo logo

Well, that was nice – those few years we thought we could reach out over the internet to connect authentically.

Heady with the success of the Arab Spring, and  the galvanizing role of Facebook in organizing the Ukrainian protest group EuroMaidan, netizens the world over justifiably may have been feeling that social media is the tool of the masses. The recent flap over the USAID’s (United States Agency on International Aid) blunder with the social media platform ZunZuneo in Cuba shows that things have just gotten more complicated.

A powerful tool is bound to be co-opted for use by other forces than “ordinary” citizenry at some point. Social media’s successes in helping large, anonymous groups to effectively find sympathizers and quickly organize is clearly too great not to tempt larger organizations with their own agendas. Yes, it’s true that commercial interests are using social media with resounding success. But it is in their interest to communicate honestly about who and what they are and what they are selling.

Turns out, USAID saw the potential of Twitter and sought to harness it for its own purposes in Cuba, although USAID offers a humanitarian spin on the creation of the Twitter-like ZunZuneo.

Cuban slang for a hummingbird’s tweet, ZunZuneo was a social media platform developed by third-party contractors and distributed to the Cuban public via an SMS text blast in 2009. The microblogging site, which enabled users to accumulate followers and ostensibly exchange information about such everyday topics as weather and music was popular until its demise (following USAID withdrawal of funding) in 2012. The site reportedly had 68,000 users.

It is now known, however, that the real purpose of Zunzuneo was to “renegotiate the balance of power between the state and society.”

The effect of the operation has been far different to what its originators – whoever they are – must have intended.

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Your Next Position: Information Architect, UX Architect or UX Designer?

Digital Careers Graphic

(Graphic: Hanns-Peter Nagel)

A few years ago, I wrote a post for Flip the Media on how to become a Content Strategist—and soon became one. In this position, I get to work with and learn from other digital media professionals. I recently collaborated on a complex website re-launch with Eric Ranelletti, an Information Architect who, confusingly, also identified himself as a UX Architect. “About five years ago, people started talking about user experience (UX) in addition to information architecture (IA),” explains Ranelletti. “It denotes that there is more to structuring the experience for users than simply manipulating content. Wireframes are not just fonts and boxes; anytime something is put on paper and identified, it becomes an expression of ideas that should be explored and evolved.”

And then there is the close cousin to IA/UX Architect, the UX Designer. Jeroen Bet has ample IA experience, but his role as User Experience Designer at Expedia is “much more visual,” although he does consider the hierarchy of information. The role of a UX Designer goes beyond designing individual interfaces, argues Bet—it’s about making the user experience as seamless as possible. “A coupon has to be applied to the price of a hotel. But how does the customer get a coupon? What happens if the coupon has expired? A UX Designer thinks about the whole process and thinks of opportunities where the company can add value for the customer.”

The three job titles are part of a continuum of functional roles. Continue reading

Viral Video: Live In-Flight Entertainment – the Lion King

The time between getting on a plane and take-off is usually the time to mindlessly kill some zombies or crush some candy. Passengers on a flight from Brisbane to Sydney (hopefully) put down their smartphones when the cast of the Australian Lion King burst out into an impromptu performance of “The Circle of Life”. If you like the Lion King or not, this just sounds like pure fun.

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Flip the Media Viral Video Graphic

Why Social Media is THE Source of Information on Radiation Levels in Japan

Radiation Levels Japan

Listing of radiation levels of common food items.

The 2011 earthquake and the following disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant brought many changes to Japanese society. One that stands out is a new skepticism towards news from traditional sources and a booming use of social media. People mistrust the press because it often lacks detailed and accurate information. Instead, community members of all ages are becoming more educated about technology and starting to dig for information by themselves. One group of this do-it-yourself social media news gathering effort is mothers, who are especially concerned about accurate information on radiation levels.

“Social media like Twitter and Facebook are invaluable to me now,” said Kazumi Yamamura, the mother of a 12-year-old boy living in Kanagawa Prefecture, south of Tokyo. She organizes a website which reports how much radiation is present in foods such as vegetables, fruit, yogurt, and eggs. She and her friends measure radiation with a special machine and share this information online. “This became my routine after the earthquake,” she said.

On March 11th, 2011, Japan was hit by a massive earthquake, a subsequent tsunami and nuclear disaster. When the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant exploded, she became worried and began to collect information on radiation levels. “At first, I thought that the Japanese government would give us accurate information, because radiation is a big deal and it affects our health, especially our children’s, but the government just repeated its initial claims that radiation would not affect human health immediately.”

As time went on, she became skeptical about the government’s response to the disaster. After she started to look on Twitter and Facebook, she realized that there were many other mothers who were concerned about the health risks of radiation exposure. “We became friends through social media and we shared knowledge and information,” she said.

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