Had a great time at last week’s Social Media Club Seattle meetup. Met lots of interesting folks and took a number of photos.
Little known fact – I was the first to give it a go as a Social Media Club organizer here in Seattle, but life got in the way of me doing it as well as I could. Glad to see so many good folks taking the ball and running with it.
I went to my first Northern Voice2 years ago after meeting up with some of the organizers at the previous year’s Gnomedex and thinking, “hey, these guys are all right.” Northern Voice is one of my favorite conferences to go to because despite it’s small size, it attracts a wealth of interesting, insightful people who want to share their experiences.
This year I got a chance to catch up with old friends and make a bunch of new ones.
A few thank you’s.
Jim DeLaHunt took me up on my ride share offer and I ended up invited to his lovely downtown apartment to for dinner with his wife, Ducky and friend. Thanks for the great company, conversation and for lovely time (and letting me photograph your spectacular view).
Jeremy Latham is my new best friend. Not only did we share several interests (well, besides the normal nerdy conference stuff), he fixed a CSS problem on my blog that I had puzzled over off and on for 6 months. Thanks to him, I’ll actually have a home on my blog for my photos soon!
Thanks to the organizers, volunteers and sponsors of Northern Voice. Every year seems to be better and better. Darren Barefoot put it best,
It’s a sausage party no longer. I have no proof of this, but it also feels more diverse in terms of the age and ethnicity of attendees.
I couldn’t agree more.
Some Northern Voice Highlights
Rob Cottinghamseriously killed on stage with his send up of the blogging world. Particularly funny was his proposed meme of “3 people you’ve cheated on your spouse with.” I’ve got some video lying around somewhere that I’ll post soon.
PhotoCampwith Tim Bray as emcee was a departure from the past with less “prepared” material and more discussion. I actually felt like I had something to contribute this year and was a lot of fun.
It’s kind of funny, for all the years I’ve spent in tech, Gnomedex 2006 was really my first tech conference. Chris Pirillo’s Gnomedex conference always has good presentations up front and even better conversations in the hallway.
I’m doing a talk tonight at the Seattle Social Media Club Meeting tonight about using Twitter for business purposes.
Here’s the skinny:
Seattle Social Media Club
A Published Stream of Consciousness: Do Business and Micro-blogging Mix?
Thursday, May 1, 6:30 – 8 p.m. Text 100 Office
Micro-blogging services such as Twitter are continually growing in popularity, but many business people are asking how this fits into their professional life. Announcing to friends that you’re “exhausted from a late Saturday night” or “going to buy tickets to the TP concert…anyone interested?” seems far removed from anything co-workers (much less your boss!) wants to know.
While Twitter is great for personal use, many companies are using micro-blogging to enhance their business communications as well.
Join the Seattle Social Media Club to discover how you can use micro-blogging services to enhance your personal brand, grow and strengthen your business network, notify customers, promote your blog and more.
Randy Stewart, social media strategist and Senior Product Manager of Boxbe will be presenting short introduction to Twitter and microblogging followed by an interactive forum designed to help you get the most out of your micro-blogging feed
My pals Lee and Sachi LeFever of CommonCraft have done it again, just in time for SXSW. These guys do a really great job of explaining difficult topics in “plain english.” These videos are really great if you are just starting out trying to figure out this strange online world.
At last year’s SXSWi in Austin, TX, Twitter broke for the first time, err, um, was a break through product that helped people quickly figure out where the cool parties were and helped them track down their friends without calling them.
Since then, Twitter has been quickly adopted (and broken) by at least some of the masses (myself included).
I didn’t really get Twitter at first and I thought that it represented all the worst things about blogging (navel gazing, echo chamber). Here is a link to the day I spent talking about my cat in protest of Twitter. I even annoyed myself.
Eventually, I came around…
So, what the heck is Twitter? If you follow me on Facebook, you’ve probably seen my rapidly changing status. That’s coming from Twitter. And while I do kid about the Twitter uptime, by and large, they’ve created an incredible service based on something very simple.
I’m excited to be heading down to Austin once again for the yearly SXSWi Festival in Austin, Texas from Friday March 7th until Tuesday March 11. That little “i” next to SXSW means I’m not going to the film thing or the the music thing, I’m going to the nerd thing.
From last year’s SXSWi, here’s Ze Frank explaining SXSWi.
One day, when the kids are older, I’ll drag my wife out to Austin and we’ll do both Music and Interactive. Music, in particular, looks to be amazing.
Anyhow, if you are heading down and want to say hi, you can get in touch with me on my phone (if you have it), email me at email@example.com, direct message me on Twitter or turn up near me at one of the panels or parties I’m planning on attending.
The thing that makes Northern Voice great is the people. Last year, both the speakers and the attendees were incredible and I can’t wait to catch up with some of those folks again this year. I learned a lot, shared a lot and made some new friends and acquaintances.
Recently, I had the pleasure of sitting through a meeting that Boxbe was being pitched for “buzz marketing” marketing services from a third party. This company proceeded to show us pretty graphs and charts that illustrated how social media marketing can help small companies grow more quickly. Hmmmm…
Social media, it turns out can also help spread word of mouth more quickly. Having popped into this meeting a little late, I didn’t get to introduce myself, but largely, I kept my mouth shut to see where this company was going with their presentation.
Then they started talking about how they have many “agents” that post on their own blogs as well as comment on message boards, other blogs and in social networks without disclosure of their interests. They then proceed to detail out how they use dial up accounts, coffee shops and IP masking to obfuscate their IP addresses so their “marketers” can have conversations with themselves.
Now, staying silent in this meeting proved to be more and more difficult. Finally, I asked if they used Pay Per Post and the guy pitching us said, “No, they disclose who they are marketing for.”
Not exactly the answer I was looking for.
After this meeting, which didn’t last too long, I felt like I needed a shower.
It’s pretty easy to see companies today using tactics like this, but somehow it still surprises me. Maybe Scoble’s book had a lot of influence on me. Maybe, just maybe, I have morals, but somehow even beyond that, maybe I’m just not that stupid.
I’m sure that in the short run, they could have helped us get more users for Boxbe, but in the long run, I have to think that this kind of sleazy marketing just comes back to haunt you.
If you’re a data/information infrastructure nerd like me, you’re gonna love Freebase.
Here’s a bit from O’Reilly:
But once you understand a bit about what metaweb is doing, you realize just how remarkable it is. Metaweb has slurped in the contents of several of the web’s freely accessible databases, including much of wikipedia, and song tracks from musicbrainz. It then turns its users loose on not just adding more data items but making connections between them by filling out meta tags that categorize or otherwise connect the data items, using a typology that can be extended by users, wiki-style.
It’s really freaking cool.
Anyhow, I’ve got 5 invites, so if you are interested, let me know. I know there is a fair bit of pent-up demand for these invites, so if you’ve got an invite to Spock or some other invite only Web 2.0 site, I’ll probably favor a request with a trade than one without.
Ah, Lee and Sachi LeFever, you’ve done it again! I love wikis, but often explaining a wiki to people who don’t use them can be difficult. And honestly, until Wetpaint, I didn’t recommend wikis to non-technical people as the wiki text used, while easier than HTML, isn’t that easy for non-techies to pick up.
Them: “what’s a wiki?” Me “um, it’s a web page that anyone can edit” Them“oh, like Wikipedia? you mean I can edit that?” Me: “ya, like Wikipedia, except it can be about anything you want” Them: “oh…That’s … kinda neat. But why would I want to make an encyclopedia about something else?” Me: “no, no, it doesn’t have to be an encyclopedia. It can be anything you want it to be. It can replace long email threads, it can replace message board thread gone amuck with the same questions over and over again. Wikis are really versatile.” Them: “oh… Hold on, hold on… Anyone can edit Wikipedia? How is it so good?”
For a quick look at what a wiki is, click below for CommonCraft’s video. Thanks again for your help crystalizing this topic, Lee and Sachi.
1:00pm Jay Adelson then posted an explanation on the Digg blog that really stoked the flames of the revolution.
At 9pm Kevin Rose announces a truce and says:
But now, after seeing hundreds of stories and reading thousands of comments, you’ve made it clear. You’d rather see Digg go down fighting than bow down to a bigger company. We hear you, and effective immediately we won’t delete stories or comments containing the code and will deal with whatever the consequences might be.
It’s a Diggnation
While some might focus on the legal issues surrounding the story on Digg, I can’t help but think about how the company dealt with the situation in regards to their community. Looking back at a post I made about the Facebook revolt last year, I consider how quickly Digg management reacted and corrected their behavior versus the days of swelling anger that Facebook received. Hindsight is a beautiful thing, but I think that Digg management couldn’t haven’t handled this situation any better.
First, they attempted to comply with the law by taking the story down. This wasn’t a story that Digg users wanted to die, so it kept popping up again.
Second, once they realized that by attempting to kill the story, they were making it more popular, they relented. Taking a look at Digg’s homepage today, I’d say that if they wanted the story to go away, addressing the issue head on seems to have worked. Since the Kevin Rose post, the story has fallen in popularity.
Third, from a press perspective, I think Digg comes out looking pretty clean in the ordeal. Not only did they get lots of press, but they get to say “Look, we tried. Our users power the site and this is what they want.” Squeaky, squeaky clean.
I am curious to see if any legal action (beyond threatening letters) that Digg will receive as a result of all this attention paid to a unconfirmed crack. I haven’t even looked at the actual code or any verification that it actually works, so it’s hard to say if Digg is in any legal trouble here.
And now for a Kum Ba Yah moment – Digg management has learned that their community is like ocean waves, you can surf on top, but you can’t hold them back. If nothing else, Digg management (and the rest of us) got a valuable lesson in community management and the power that these communities hold.
So first off, if you haven’t used Google Adwords, I highly recommend it. Besides being a great user experience, you can learn quite a bit about search terms that you might be interested in.
To feed the ego, I now have a sense of how many people are searching for ‘Randy Stewart‘ on Google over the last month. I didn’t realize that Google showed this data, but I guess it makes sense to know what you are paying for.
So, Ziki…. how much are they paying for my name? Well, I’m not an SEM specialist, but given that I have the third position when you do a search on my name and I know how much I pay when someone clicks, I’m imagining that Ziki is paying slightly less than I am.
How much am I paying, let’s just say 6x the copper version of Abraham Lincoln. I’m still interested in what Ziki is doing and I think it’s a really smart marketing campaign. They haven’t reached their 10k goal in signups just yet, so there is still an opportunity to get in on their campaign.
So, given how blog lazy I’ve been lately, I’m a little embarrassed to go to a blogging conference this weekend, but nevertheless, there I’ll be going. Hell, I guess any excuse to get back to the beautiful city of Vancouver is good enough for me.
If you are at Northern Voice this weekend, drop me a line and say hi. I’m the guy that’s going to be catching up on a long list of blog ideas so I don’t feel lame.
I’m excited to announce the launch of one of the projects I’ve been working on lately, the Boxbe blog. Boxbe, as you might remember is the market based spam solution I mentioned a few months back. We’re still figuring out all the ins and outs, so the blog is a little slow going right now, but we should be picking up post-wise in the not-to-distant-future.
Boxbe solves a couple of very real pain points for me.
First, as someone who wants to have conversations with readers and potential new clients, obfuscating my email in any way is a bad idea. I want people to be able to email me easily and Boxbe helps me do that.
Second, while the word ‘spam’ is loaded (one man’s spam is another man’s canned meat), certain kinds of emailers (Viagra, Vioxx, penny stocks, etc) will never pay one red cent to reach me, so those kinds of email are dead to me. Forever. Putting a small fee in the way of spammers pretty much removes them from the conversation as their business model is predicated on free email.
Anyhow, the service is a little rough right now, but it’s being improved on a daily basis and I expect to see a lot of updates to functionality and usability real soon now.
My friend Andrew Chen has posted his thoughts on meeting people at conferences. Great list if you are in the mood to meet folks in your industry. Here are a few of the points:
Use pre-conference time wisely
Arrive early for some 1:1 time
Sit next to interesting people, and introduce yourself
Bring business cards, and ask for business cards
Some of these things might appear dead obvious, but you would be surprised how many people don’t follow them. Fact is, even if you are shy about meeting folks, other people are as well. Keep in mind, the main reason why people attend these events is to meet people.
Andrew, btw, just moved to Silicon Valley from Seattle. He’s an Entrepreneur in Residence at the VC firm, Mohr Davidow Ventures on Sand Hill Road. Sounds like a dream job to me! If you’re looking to get a company off the ground or join a startup, he might just be the guy to talk to.
As I’ve mentioned, I’ll be in Palo Alto this weekend and spending a little time in San Francisco on Monday and Tuesday.