Archive for the ‘Social Media’ Category

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The digital safe haven

January 4, 2011

I have spent considerable time and thought over the past few months examining my relationship with technology, media, and the Internet. This was driven in a large part by my frustration with the highly variable personal ROI I seem to get from being a “power user” all the time. Fundamentally, I have begun to seriously question just how much engagement is reasonable for someone trying to live a normal and happy life.

One of the most important insights I had (and I am not unique in this) was the need to create a “digital safe haven” for myself. There needs to be a time/place that is largely disconnected from the constant stream of news, email, social chatter, online shopping, picture sharing, blog reading (and writing), etc. This sounds easy, but really takes some effort and dedication. The desire to disconnect may be strong, but the allure of connecting is a very powerful counter-force.

My digital safe haven is my bedroom at night. Since I am currently sitting in the bedroom writing this post (much warmer here than my desk downstairs!) the “at night” modifier is important. Once the evening comes, my devices are banned from the bedroom. No phone, no laptop, no iPad. My Kindle is allowed, since that satisfies my desire to spend time reading. What I have done is stopped the endless inbound chatter from these devices that pulls my limited attention in far too many directions all day long. Once I head to bed, I also stop paying attention to the devices in the rest of the house. No more getting up to check the email at 2:00 AM or see what is happening on Facebook. No more waking up and checking my email before I even roll out of bed and stretch.

Radical? No. But, amazingly satisfying for me. I feel as if I have gained back some control of my time and my ability to focus through the creation of this safe haven. I have also determined that I am no less productive because of it (and may even be more productive).

My lovely wife respects my digital safe haven, but has decided not to follow suit. I respect that and just ignore her devices beeping and blinking on her side of the room.

I believe that there are larger implications for the creation of the digital safe haven. As we are all subject to the endless ubiquity of the digital stream, the ability to step outside and take a breather will become ever more important. What will companies do to support the desires of the individual to be “left alone” for a while? Will Facebook give me a way to specify an away period and then be able to efficiently catch-up when I return? Will my co-workers respect email responses that take longer than 15 minutes, even at 2:00 AM?

The opportunity here is two-fold. First, individuals need to have ways to regain their space and not be distracted. Second, businesses need to start thinking about ways to respect this shift and empower their customers instead of punishing them for missing the endless river of content that keeps flowing by.

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Social Self-Promotion

August 12, 2010

Yesterday Twitter streams everywhere were filled with an avalanche of “SXSW vote for me” requests. The infamous SXSW PanelPicker had opened up and everyone was rushing to gather votes. I know the importance of this because I was one of those people trying to drum up votes.

Please check out my most excellent proposal for a panel at SXSW Interactive.

There were almost 2400 proposals up for vote at SXSW Interactive. It is part of the community-based aspect of SXSW that the voice of the people helps determine the content of the event. This voting component accounts for 30% of the “score” for any proposal. In some ways it is a test of the speaker — generating votes is a proxy for generating attendees at their session. Full and successful sessions make SXSW better. Simple equation.

Please consider voting for my really interesting proposal, “Whatever Happened to Good Design Online” at SXSW.

Everyone involved in SXSW knows it is an event about connections. Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare, Gowalla, etc are all essential elements of the experience. Making self-promotion an element of the session selection makes perfect sense to me. I think that conferences driven by the interests of the attendees are very important. I also believe that attendees should not choose all the content — sometimes they can be surprised and delighted by the unexpected. This gives SXSW an advantage over other “unconferences” where attendees choose everything.

Have you checked out my SXSW proposal? Take a look and cast your vote.

So, we all dive in and get everyone we know to cast their vote. It is a popularity contest, but all social media is a popularity contest of sorts. We put our voices out there and hope someone listens. We look for the call and response of voices from the electronic ether and feel a small sense of validation. It is the world we have created online, for better or worse.

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The dual(ing) social media household

August 3, 2009

Social media is reshaping our lives in ways great and small. Today is a perfect example of how it has become a new and distinctly different element in our two parent/one child/no grandparents nearby household.

Today is Ignite Seattle, a super (trendy>) event that is filled with great speakers each doing their pitch fast and furious on the big stage. It should be a blast, as I heard was the case at the last one.

Jen recently started getting connected with a larger group of bloggers in the area and they all are going to the event together. I am very excited for her and the chance to get out there. She is an awesome blogger and I am optimistic things like this will encourage her to write even more. Going to something like Ignite with fellow blogger is terrific.

Of course, I would be interested in going as well. We often have these situations where we both want to do something but it is just not in the cards for someone else to watch the kid. We always find the right compromise and everyone feels heard and their wishes respected. We also both want to go to the Seattle Tattoo Expo this weekend and need someone to watch the kid for that as well. We’ll figure it out.

The nice thing about Ignite (and here is the point of this little post) is that I can be there. Well, mostly. There is a live stream, there are endless tweets (#ignitesea), tons of photos, and all sorts of interesting long-form posts that will follow. I don’t feel left out; I feel like we got the best of all worlds thanks to the social media revolution.

Of course, I hear there is no A/C at the event right now and it is hot out. At least I can lie in bed with the fan blowing on me and a cool drink in my hand. Perhaps I got the better deal this time.

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Into the fray

July 31, 2009

One of my clients asked me about my blogging and why I don’t do it more. I think it was a reasonable question and worth my addressing in a thoughtful manner.

After giving it some thought I realized that one of the major reasons I don’t spend more time blogging is that I always feel that I could be spending that time working on a client project and creating value for others (as well as helping to pay my mortgage). I tend to be very focused on getting work done and lots of it.

Another reason I spend less time blogging is because I spend a lot of time tweeting. Yes, I am addicted to Twitter as a very effective tool to both broadcast and engage in conversation. But, twitter is limited in many ways (not just the 140 char limitation) and often fails to satisfy the need to write in more depth on a particular topic. I recently tried Posterous, but that was the wrong mixture of ease of use and clumsy results for me.

Ultimately, my reasons don’t actually justify my not using this forum more. As a professional marketer and someone who knows a lot about social media I have to make sure I am pushing my own boundaries on a regular basis. This blog has been around in one form or another for over six years, so there is a significant investment of my time and thought already here.

Frankly, I owe it to myself and my clients and partners to continue to put thoughts out there, take the feedback I get, and continue to learn something new every day. So, back into the fray with a vengeance. Be warned.

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Twitter

March 7, 2009

Via Ryan’s blog:

I started a twitter feed for my product at Microsoft (www.twitter.com/microsoftvsts) and we quickly gain more than 500 followers. It is interesting to see how quickly a crowd will gather around something they value. We should tweet more often, but even just a now and then model of tweets seems to keep the audience engaged.

Personally I tend to follow people, not companies or products. I want there to be a genuine person behind the screen, not a designated corporate mouthpiece. There is a delicate balance in my mind between the authentically useful and the authentically fake.

Very curious to see the plan to monetize Twitter. If Facebook is an example, it might be a long hard climb to profit.