An Entertaining Future is #StillHere

When we were kids, entertainment was mostly a passive activity.  We plopped down in front of the TV and zoned out on BATMAN and THE MONKEES (ok, I might be showing my age here, but those are the shows I was enamored with…)  Our kids, however, are growing up in an increasingly connected, interactive world, that is changing the shape of entertainment and entertainment marketing.  Already their world is filled with immersive games, and high definition and 3-D images.  They are constantly connected with their friends through their social networks (as are we), so to get our attention marketers really have to raise the bar.

I Joined The Colony…

As part of a promotion for the upcoming (July 27th) premiere of season 2 of  THE COLONY, The Discovery Channel has created a rather ingenious interactive and very personal experience that makes clever use of our individual social graphs.  If you visit and log in using Facebook Connect, you will enter a very real, interactive simulation that blends status updates, news reports, video and more, from your real friends, to tell a detailed and realistic story about a fictional Pandemic.  It is a taste of what the classic WAR OF THE WORLDS radio broadcast might have turned into if Orson Welles had worked his magic today.  Instead of Welles, much of the content at was created by the talented author JC Hutchins, but it appears, quite convincingly, as if the messages, comments and news stories are being presented to you by the people you know and trust.  It is very cool, and worth spending some time getting lost in the fantasy…

And This Has What To Do With Dads?

Ok, so perhaps The Colony and are not really targeted to families or kids, and certainly they are not appropriate for young kids… However, I think the way this promotion leverages Facebook and drags real people we know into a fictional but realistic story is a small taste of what is possible, and an indicator of the kinds of interactive entertainment that will perhaps soon be commonplace to our kids.  As parents we already know we have to guide our kids through their digital lives and make sure they understand the implications of their social lives online.  Raising digitally aware and digitally responsible kids will be even more important as they experience creative uses of their social networks, like this one, that may temporarily blur the lines between fiction and reality.  Our kids are going to be exposed to new and exciting forms of entertainment that we might only have dreamed of when we were their ages.  I think that is pretty cool, and look forward to seeing how things evolve.  What do you think?

Survival Of The Fittest?

I found out about from an unexpected package that I received, and I made the short video below to document my own experiences with this clever promotion.  If you are reading this, then you can assume I survived and am #STILLHERE.  Enjoy!

I Joined The Colony and am #StillHere from Jeffrey Sass on Vimeo.

DISCLAIMER: I am not expected to return any of the items in the package.  I can keep them (and they may come in handy during hurricane season).  CC Chapman, who was involved in the promotion on behalf of Campfire is a friend, and a co-host with me on the Cast of Dads podcast.  JC Hutchins is also a personal friend.  No pets, children, or neighbors were harmed during the making of this video, but some may have been spooked by seeing me running around the backyard in a bio-protection suit and mask…  That’s their problem.

Jeff Sass is the proud dad of ZEO (Zach, 22, Ethan, 20 and Olivia, 18).  He is also a seasoned entertainment and technology exec and active social media enthusiast.  You can see more of Jeff’s writing at Sassholes! and Social Networking Rehab and you can listen to Jeff on the Cast of Dads podcast.?

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The Roku Box – and Netflix – Kid Goodness

roku_netflix_01_425-783960We signed up a little over a year ago to receive DVDs and Blu-Ray disks through the Mail from  We don’t get out much as a family to the movies, and this has allowed us to catch up on a lot of movies and TV that we’ve missed out on, but what I really want to talk about is the Roku Box and the Watch Instantly service that Netflix offers.

We bought the ROKU box about eight months ago.  It hooks up to your TV and attaches to your home wireless network.  When it’s connected to the Internet, it reaches out to Netflix to your “Watch Instantly” queue.  You can stream HD movies, television shows, and most importantly for this article, kids movies and cartoons.

My daughter has now watched all available Scooby Doo movies, made her way through some Loony Tunes and discovered new TV series like “Ramona the Vampire,” that none of us have ever heard of.  You get all of this content as part of your regular Netflix service.  Recently they’ve added the ability to watch movies on demand from Amazon and other places as well, making the link from Internet to TV one notch stronger.

I recommend this service, and the ROKU box to anyone.  We watched the original Dr. Doolittle with Katie recently, and she loved it as much as we did.  We’d never have dished out money to buy that, but having it at your fingertips brings some sharted memories and experiences that might otherwise have been missed.

Right now we’re watching Tom & Jerry in a pirate movie, and the entire family is gathered for the event.  All hail the Internet.

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