Put the Stupid Smart Phone Down Already
When my co-founder, Randy Davis, approached me in June of 2014 about resurrecting an idea that we had tossed around the previous year, I was skeptical. Building an app is no small task. But after talking it through – technology trends, our community, our faith and life in general – it became clear that not only were we on to something, but there was no doubt in our minds that it could be a game-changer.
Randy’s epiphany occurred after an armed gunman opened fire at our local courthouse one summer morning. Even though Randy had been on social media many times throughout the day, he didn’t find out about the event until almost evening time. He’d seen many photos of his friend’s visit to the Grand Canyon during the day, but he didn’t see what was going on just a few miles down the road from where he lived. He wondered if there was a better way to share information within a community.
This made sense to me. It was really cool to see his passion connect with his vision. We both knew we were on to solving a big problem in social media information sharing. However, I saw that we had potential to solve an entirely different problem.
This realization came from a series of events that were just your garden variety life moments: A night out having dinner with the kids, a Halloween party in the neighborhood, and a YouTube video.
Dinner Out, Technology In
One night I was out to dinner with my family. For no particular reason I became very aware of my surroundings and noticed there wasn’t much conversation happening in what was a very busy restaurant. I saw family after family sitting together but each were lost in their phones and tablets. Young kids were watching movies, adolescents were texting incessantly and their parents were distracted by social media and email. I started to wonder, is this really what technology has done to us? Put us into isolated silos in which we share physical space together but not life itself?
Then I began to wonder why I’m on Facebook. Was it just because I had the need to feel connected, or was it because many years ago everyone signed up for it and I just followed along? And why I was still coming back? Was I really getting anything out of this illusion of a world behind this tiny screen? For some reason, I kept logging in, but no, I wasn’t getting much out of it at all.
Facebook, I realized, had created the illusion that I was engaging in real social interactions. Suddenly my ‘friends’ vacation pictures and selfies became not only boring, but very annoying. The more I dug the more I saw these “friends” working very hard to paint their lives as more meaningful than what they actually were – and they probably had no idea why they were acting this way.
Happy Halloween! See You Next Year
A few weeks later, Halloween was upon us and so commenced our yearly tradition of my neighbor, Scott, and I hosting a party between our houses for the tricker-treaters and their parents. It was a fun event that we all looked forward to. As the night rolled on, Scott and I talked about how many people came by the house with their kids. Every year we have great conversations with these folks, but as the night rolled on, we realized that we will most likely not see or hear from them again until the next Halloween party.
Why was it that we had the ability to keep tabs on our friends in other states, but we had no real connections to those who are in some cases only a few doors down?
Smart Phones Make Dumb People
The next week I compulsively wandered onto Facebook (habit) and saw a video about someone losing an opportunity in the real world because they were stuck living in a false digital world, head down and oblivious to who and what was around him. As I watched this video over and over (Facebook is good for some things), I knew that this was the most impactful message I had seen in a long time. The words from the video still ring in my head to this day: “We are a world full of smart phones and dumb people.”
No, I don’t think we are world full of idiots, but I do think we have all become victims of addictive technology, that we live behind keyboards and emojis instead of our real voices and real smiles.
It had tied together two things that were very troubling to me: How far we had gone to use technology to replace real social interactions and how society today lacks real social connections with those who live nearby. Over the past several years, I thought about how many times I had wanted to get involved in our community only to learn about an opportunity nearby after it had already taken place. Why was I finding out about things after it was too late to act on them?
Using Technology to Connect People to the Real World
NearbyNewz was just an idea to change they way information was shared, but the potential for this app gave me hope that we could use technology to connect people to the real world by sharing information that reflects the real world AND is absolutely relevant to where users are at any given moment. It’s ironic, no? Using technology to engage people in the real world? It’s my hope and vision, though, and I won’t give up on it.
For me, NearbyNewz is a way to fight back, to let technology work to connect us instead of separating us. We are overloaded daily by email, push notifications, alerts, and texts. How much of this information you’re receiving truly impacts your life and shapes your daily decisions?
What if there was an information exchange platform where you could customize your feed to alert you to things that are important to you AND were sent from those who are around you right now?
That’s what we’re accomplishing with NearbyNewz. Opportunities to participate in life now become endless. Being plugged-in has new meaning. Information from your peers is untainted and comes to you as it happens in real time. You will become more aware about what’s going on around you right now and have information you can use to make better decisions in daily life.
I suspect that the more we know about what’s going on around us, the more likely we’ll put down the stupid smart phone and engage in real life.
— Todd Moran, NearbyNewz
We hope you are having a peaceful and joyful holiday season!
With the New Year fast approaching we wanted to share with you our excitement and the momentum we’re building leading up to our launch. We’re preparing for one incredible year in 2017!
NearbyNewz is launching soon and it’s going to revolutionize the way people exchange information with one another on a local level. No longer will be the days where you can’t see what’s going on in your own community on social media because your high school friend is filling your feed with European vacation photos. Gone will be the requirement to friend anyone or follow anything in order to be in the know about news happening now in your immediate area.
You’ll soon be able to hear from other people actually in your community about the important things happening right now around you. With this actionable information, you can make better decisions about how to navigate your day — like what roads to avoid, what retail deals you’d like to steal, what’s happening at the high school football game — with information brought to you by people on the scene, complete with photos or video.
We’re getting ahead of ourselves here! It’s very difficult to not unload all the cool features coming to you soon via NearbyNewz because we’re so excited about it we can barely contain ourselves. But we’ll pace it out for you…next week we’ll update you on the timeline for the NearbyNewz launch.
In the meantime, to keep up to date on all things NearbyNewz, please fill out the form on our home page.
Thanks for hanging with us! See you in 2017.
— The NearbyNewz Crew — Randy & Todd
Late on a day in June 2014, Randy Davis turned on the news to see that their small-town courthouse — only a few miles from his home — had been under attack earlier in the day by a heavily armed lone gunman. A gun battle ensued for three minutes, leaving one deputy shot in the leg and and the gunman dead. The small town of Cumming, Georgia was rattled — people were on edge, traffic was at a standstill, and families were wondering how this could happen in their quiet town.
After the dust settled, what continued to rattle Randy was the fact that he’d been on social media numerous times throughout the day and although he’d seen lovely photos of his friend’s trip to the Grand Canyon, nothing in his ‘news feed’ alerted him to the near catastrophe that had occurred in his own town almost eight hours earlier.
Randy and his friend and neighbor Todd Moran quickly realized that social media as it stands today is broken with regard to sharing information with those in the immediate area. The breakdown lies within the friend/follower paradigm: We are not connected with those in our immediate location and even less so as our location changes during the day.
NearbyNewz presents a new way to share news by exchanging information — not with a pre-defined group of individuals — but with all of those around you who are also on the app.
After more than a century of serving as the primary vehicle for delivering news to the masses, print media has been largely replaced by the Internet — people want their news to be immediate, factual and actionable. Today, anyone with a mobile device and social media connectivity can report news, but how much of it valuable? How much of the ‘news’ on social media is interesting to and necessary for the reader? How much of it is clutter? How much of it is local?
NearbyNewz is a mobile app that decouples the friend/follow paradigm in social media to allow users to share information with other users based on location. The app gives users insight into what’s happening now in their immediate vicinity and empowers users to share information regarding what’s happening around them with the people around them.
At NearbyNewz, news is defined by anything that users deem interesting — a good play at the ball name, details of a presentation at a conference, a good deal at a retailer or restaurant, a structure fire, lane closures or a sudden change in the weather. If someone feels people close by could benefit from what they see, they post it.
While NearbyNews allows anyone to become a reporter, users rate each post for creditability, either elevating the reporter/poster’s status or lowering their creditability ranking. This helps ensure that the news reported has substance and is credible.
Most importantly, NearbyNewz takes people out from behind the wall of social media and engages them with their environment and the people in it.
Randy Davis, co-founder, NearbyNewz
A Refreshing Look at the Vision Statement
I thought for today’s entry I’d tell you more about what’s driving this team in this little (soon-to-be-BIG) venture of ours.
Companies always talk about their vision – internally. What really is a vision for anyway? Lots of people these days would say, “Vision statement? Blah, blah, blah, let’s just get our work done.” And I get it. In my experience vision statements are typically created by a well-intended CEO then spoon fed to the company, and employees are asked to climb aboard a train they aren’t convinced will take them to any real destination.
At NearbyNewz and particularly within our parent company, Trinity App Workz, we’ve gone to great effort to create a vision statement that our employees, and the communities of people who use our apps, can believe in.
Our take on a vision statement is more of a credo than anything else, something that we all can believe in, grasp ahold of, and implement in every decision we make and before every task. We’ve had extensive chats with one another where we’ve dug deep, and as a result we found out what drives each of us individually. To our great surprise we discovered that we all have a deep faith that energizes us. We share the belief that our social connections shape us. We discovered we each have a deep desire to help others.
So we combined these and came up with a vision. More importantly, after it was drafted we shopped it around to our people to ensure that we’re all bought into this particular train ride and its destination.
Without further ado, the vision for Trinity App Workz, which funnels directly in NearbyNewz, is this:
We believe our team was brought together to change the way information is shared. We believe there are uses for mobile technologies that exist today that are untapped but when combined with our forward thinking and innovative development, our applications can make information exchange more relevant and impactful. We believe in utilizing our emerging technologies to create connections that translate into meaningful, respectful, and responsible connections in the real world. We believe in being selective in what applications we develop, so that we can focus on the ones that can make a difference. We believe that faith, family and community come first, and when these core tenants are aligned it feeds and elevates our work and fuels our passion to break new ground. We settle for nothing less than excellence in everything we do but we are not afraid to fail, change direction or see things anew.
We love and embrace our mission because it speaks to the very heart of who we are as individuals AND as a team. We are all different people with varying points of view, which come through during meetings and daily conversation (sometimes colorfully). We need this diversity to propel us forward, to bring newness into something that even over a short period of time can become stagnant. But since we have the same fundamental ideals, we understand that when a team member voices an alternative point of view, its rooted from the same foundation.
We all want to succeed individually, but more than anything, we want to succeed as a team and have genuine interest and desire to and see each other succeed.
It really is rather refreshing.
— Marcy Theobald, Communications Champion for NearbyNewz
To sign up to receive notifications about NearbyNewz and it’s launch (targeting Q2!) visit www.nearbynewz.com and submit your email. Good things are coming!