Tag Archives: Twitter

What We Did Before Home Entertainment Systems

Sometimes they gathered in each other’s homes and listened to music.
That’s why one genre of classical music is still called “chamber music.”
It was played in people’s living rooms, three or four instruments and a
small group of listeners.

A few friends and I had this magical, back to the future experience last
night as we listened to Tom Milsom, a 20-year-old singer-songwriter from
London, who my old friend Michael Markman discovered on YouTube
and fell in love with. Milsom has “released” a
CD called Awkward Ballads for the Easily Pleased,” and he appeared at
my door with a keyboard and a ukelele to play for my guests.

Because Tom has had all the influences of the Internet, he knows
everything from the harpsichord to Tom Lehrer. He has a delightful wit,
and a transparency about revealing his personal experiences that comes
from the present generation’s casual relationship with privacy. When he
talks about being rejected, he’s not trying to make it more attractive,
he’s really telling it, tinkling piano keys and horrific emotions and
all. As he told us, he likes to write happy songs about sad subjects —
he has a song about the death of a lobster, one about abortion, several
about the girl who rejected him for a less perfect man. Oh, and he has
done a three-part requiem for a dead cat.

If you find these subjects offensive, I can only tell you that had you
been there, you wouldn’t have. The evening was thoroughly enjoyable.

Milsom is touring the US, helped by his Twitter friends like @mickeleh.
Tom himself is @hexachordal. He’s been using Twitter as his main
marketing tool, although last night he got a good lecture from Robert
<a href=” “>Scobleand <a href=” “>Steve Gillmor,
who explained the virtues of <a href=” “>Friendfeed.
That’s where the conversation got
into the future of music, and how a musician finds an audience today.

On the Internet, of course. And how does he grow it past his own
friends? By entering the real time stream and going where the people are
who will appreciate him.

Although I had to forcibly eject my guests so I could go to bed (I
remember this from the past as well), as they went out the door they
were still talking about going where the “index” is, because in the
future, owning the index will be the replacement for having a record
label and being able to monetize your music. You will have to contact
@stevegillmor to find out what he means by that, because I didn’t hear
the end of the conversation — but it was a moment of extraordinary
mentoring for Tom, and an opportunity to amplify his signal virally (as
in, to people like those on this list, who probably don’t scan YouTube
for music videos from London).

Invest a few minutes with a set of good headphones listening to Tom’s
music. Share the delight I experienced last night. You missed the
conversation, but at least enjoy the music.

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Filed under Music, Social Media

The Conversation is on Facebook, Geeks!

I’m not an engineer, so my life is made up of individual datapoints, not formal tests. But last night I posted a link to a NY Times article on sub-prime mortages and loan modification scams to Twitter, so my friends there would see it. This morning, I awoke to six or seven email notifications on Facebook that my friends had been having a conversation about the article and the situation surrounding it while I blissfully slept. And all it was, was a link from Twitter that fed my Facebook status updates.

What amazed me wasn’t the number of comments, which certainly doesn’t equal what Scoble gets on his blog, or Leo LaPorte gets on his Friendfeed page. Rather, it was the depth and thoughtfulness of the conversation. People had taken the time to write long posts, and sometimes not even to me — to each other. People on FB actually still see each other’s streams.

Just last week, my brother, got into a similar discussion (read argument, as my bro is from New York) with some friends of mine about education after something I wrote in my FB notes. Again, people were wildly arguing with each other at great length.

Conclusion from these data points: the real conversation is where the real people are — on FB. More conversation is taking place than we geeks are aware of, and it is taking place where the barrier to entry is lowest: on the social network everyone is already on.

I have a larger number of FB friends than most people, and as a result the conversations come from all over. I’m beginning to find this more fun than Twitter, and more diverse than Friendfeed. And I just got a reply from Adam Glickman that he also finds his FB activity picking up.

Thoughts, folks?

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Filed under Early Adopter Stuff, Social Media

Is Social Media a Waste of Time?

No way. Social media has given me a platform on which to share my knowledge of things I care deeply about. Health care and the environment are two of those, and still another is the current economic crisis and how it is affecting me and my world. Without social media, I’d be in a far smaller community around these very troubling issues, and I could easily be very depressed.

Most people also think I care deeply about new technology, because I write so much about it. They’re wrong. I only care about technology to the extent that it enables a person like me, well-informed about things I care about, to offer some information to people who don’t have the time to acquire it first-hand, and to gain strength from others who have found ways to deal with problems I also have.

I start with Google Reader, through which I subscribe to a dozen trade journals and blogs each about health care, environmental issues, and economics. I also subscribe to tech journals and blogs, and to major news sources like the New York TImes, Wall Street Journal, and my local papers in Arizona and on the Coastside in northern California. I read about 1000 items a day, often just scanning to weed out repetition. I try to read several sides of controversial issues, so I know how the doctors, the insurance companies, the patients, and the IT people feel about health care. When something’s really good, I “share” it with other friends of mine who are on Google Reader.

But it doesn’t stop there. I want to discuss what I read with people who can either help me understand it, or tell people what I’ve found out. So I also maintain profiles on Facebook and Twitter. On the latter, I maintain several accounts. One’s for general posts; another is @azentrepreneurs, and is specific to Arizona’s entrepreneurship community. Still a third is @ushealthcrisis, which a colleague and I use for our volunteer web site with health care reform information.

When, in the course of my day, I come across something that might help or interest one of these “constituencies,” I post a link or a mention to one of those accounts. Less important for general sharing, but very important for learning more, is Friendfeed, which aggregates the combined knowledge of many educated and intelligent friends and acquaintances of mine, often in extended conversations. Every so often, to spread news of professional opportunities and networking events, I’ll even use a status update on LinkedIn.

And oh yes, in addition to all this, I blog. That’s mainly a place to display my own thoughts and syntheses.

Do I tell people on Twitter what I had for breakfast? Never. Do I write about my personal problems? Only if they can be a metaphor or an example for other people’s experiences (like my effort to modify my mortgage loan). People who are not using social media always worry about lack of privacy. My theory? If you don’t want people on these platforms to know something, don’t tell them.

Now let me answer the questions I get asked all the time when I tell people what I’ve just written about.

"Wasting TIme on Social Media"How much time does this take every day? As much as I want it to take. If I’m very busy working, very little. On other days, or perhaps in the evening when there’s “nothing” on the 200 channels of digital TV in my home, several hours. It’s not a compulsion; it’s a pleasure. It makes me feel like 19th century people used to feel in a salon. Participation is a choice.

And what does it do for me?
It has introduced me to an entire new community of engaged, educated people who discuss the world. These people are located anywhere — Brazil, China, New York, India. It finds me friends, investments, and cousins I haven’t heard from in years. It increases the time I spend talking with my brother.

And last, but not least, it makes me money. It exposes me to the world and people can hire me to advise, to write, to teach. In other words, sometimes when you are useful, there’s a payoff:-) And no, I do not call myself a “social media guru.” I leave that for others.


Filed under Current Affairs, Daily Living, Early Adopter Stuff, Entrepreneurship, Social Media

LiveBlogging #CrunchUp for the Folks at Home

There’s no way not to love Ron Conway’s experience. Here at Crunchup, he’s talking about the startups he has invested in with John Borthwick from BetaWorks, Steve Gillmor, and Mike Arrington. He has made two fabulous points so far. The first is very general, but tells the story of the difference between Silicon Valley and other areas of the country that hope to be centers for entrepreneurship. :Here in Silicon Valley, we invent something first, see if there’s a market, and then monetize it.”

This is a very telling comment that presumes the availability of capital to support the new concept or technology until it is ready to be monetized. He said it with respect to Twitter, a product almost everyone is curious about. How will Twitter make money?

Here are the top ten, according to Ron, ways Twitter can be monetized. Although Arrington pushed him for his entire list of 30, which he said he summarized in an email to Evan Williams a while ago,(update: Arrington grabs the email out of his hand and finds out it’s really to Heather Hardie) he wouldn’t reveal the entire list, so there’s something even better in the cards. His Top Ten list includes
lead generation
payments via real time web
user authentication
syndication of new ads
context sensitive ads
display ads, and
acquiring followers

This panel agrees that much is also happening outside Silicon Valley, especially as we begin to participate in real time communications on a large scale. John Borthwick of Betaworks says his company has just announced a $sm investment in Tweetdeck, which stores groups and search, and navigates and manages streams. Betaworks has also incubated bit.ly, which has gone in less than a year from incubation to 27 million decodes a day thru its partnership with Twitter. (Arrington pushing to know when bit.ly will sell to Twitter.)

Which brings me to the next point Ron makes that I loved: “real time stream” is the wrong term for what’s happening now, because it doesn’t take into account the social nature of these conversations. Instead, let’s call in something like “now media,” which makes more of the social interaction that takes place.

For me, the real time is not nearly as important as the social. Because I live in two cities, I have two sets of friends. There’d be no way I could stay in touch with both without the now-media-social-real-time-stream. I’m ecstatic that SIlicon Valley will invent things I can use without worrying how they will make money. And this is why, at the end of the recession, Silicon Valley will recover. It’s the people, stupid.

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Filed under Early Adopter Stuff, Entrepreneurship, Social Media, Web/Tech

Asymmetry in Twitter: A Feature Not a Bug*

* Full credit to Tim O’Reilly.

OK. Here goes. I’ve been thinking about this all night and all morning.

Tim O’Reilly started me  when he said the asymmetry of Twitter was a feature, not a bug in response to my post about the existence of TopFollowed. which I had seen as a way for people who want more followers to respond to the Twitter Suggested Users List.

#FollowFriday threw me over the edge when I awoke to an inbox full of auto-DMs after a sleepless night in which they all came in on my iPhone, vibrating on my nightstand. And then *I* spammed the community when I tried to unfollow people through Twitterspy and forgot that if you affix the term “post” before the post, it will actually show up on Twitter. And by the way, one of the auto-follows I got was from a teen-age porn site.

Twitter is big enough that we have to sort some of this out.

Let me begin by saying that yes, I’m an adult, but I am very Progressive socially. Not trying to limit, censor, or tell people how to live. I couldn’t.

But walk a mile in my mocassins.
1)I’ve been on Twitter since 2006.
2)I have come to know and love the people I follow and the people who follow me.  We’re a community.
3) I auto-follow out of courtesy to those who are interested enough to follow me, because I love “discovery,” or the act of meeting new people and perhaps learning something. I’ve met people from all over the world on Twitter, and formed firm friendships that are no longer virtual.  They are, indeed, real. I’d hate to miss one.
4) But Twitter is now VERY big.  The noise-to-signal ratio is terrible these days.
5)Some of my early community are difficult to see in the noise.  People I want to see, like @newmediajim, @badbanana, @susanreynolds, @preppydude, @cathleenritt, @conniereece, or even @scobleizer are now hard to see. As some of them are going through life transitions, I WANT to be able to follow them.
6)Most of the people I know use DMs for private messages that don’t concern the rest of the community, so as not to bother the entire community. This is often for appointments, private illnesses, business transactions — whatever —between just us.
7) To receive those timely, I send them to my phone as alerts.

8) Because I don’t have a land line anymore, my phone is by my bed.

9) Even on vibrate, it makes noise in the night, so I knew there was a lot of activity, and even though I ignored it, I was aware of it and didn’t sleep as well as usual (I’m the sleep Queen).

10)When I woke up, there were a few dozen auto-DMs in my inbox, in addition to the usual load of BACN.

11)Reading through them, as the dogs panted around my bed waiting for their walk, I found most of them were from brands, not people, and they were asking me whether I needed : more followers, flooring, more sales, to grow my business without effort, photos of teen-aged nude girls, or daily prayers.

12) I made things worse by trying to take a short cut to unfollowing some of them and then shamedly watching it post to Twitter in full view of everybody.

And that, in a nutshell, is why I woke up on the wrong side of Twitter this morning. Thank you Tim, for realizing why you so strongly replying to me yesterday. And the good part of all this: once again I learned something from Twitter.


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Filed under Early Adopter Stuff, Social Media

Community. It’s Everything

Image representing FriendFeed as depicted in C...
Image via CrunchBase

Yesterday was a big day in the social media world, what with the launch of Friendfeed’s new beta in the morning and the recording of Gillmor Gang in the afternoon.It was an all-day community day for me, as I first joined my community in the morning to try the new interface and joined another community in the afternoon to listen to the opinions of friends about it and its chances against the other community platforms I use.

But the “meta” information from the day is more important than the actual discussions. The metadata tells me that the feeling of being linked to others of like mind is more powerful than jobs, economies, almost any competing activity. People up-end their lives to be part of these communities. People who are not really geeks, like my friend Michael Vandervert, a human resource specialist in Florida, are involved. Michael is a spiritual person who believes in the power of connections.

I can’t help drawing a parallel to my Blueprint for Survival workshops. The one coming up on April 20 filled up in two days. Why? Because when people lose their jobs they lose their communities, and if they don’t have these online platforms already in place, they’re stuck trying to figure out how to work LinkedIn.

LinkedIn, however, is not a true community, as Twitter is, or Friendfeed. Or even Facebook. If you lose your job, your wife, your 401(k) these communities offer empathy, help, alternatives. LinkedIn only offers a chance to do the “work” in networking. But what we really need is the “net” — the circle that draws us in so we don’t feel alone.

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South by Southwest: Is it Different this Year?

What recession? Not in the digital media or interactive industries, as far as I can tell.

Last night I spent the early part of the evening in the UStream.tv makeshift studio at the Belmont Lounge watching Michael Wright interview people with “big ideas” and live stream over the Internets.

It was awesome. Wright’s idea is to have big thinkers discuss big ideas in an open source way during SxSW. In the course of the two or three hours I was there, I met blogger Louis Gray, Stephen Self, a videographer from Tyler, Texas whose company, N-Ventive TV, set up the studio for Michael Wright, and Tom Serres, CEO of Piryx, a platform to help newbies get involved in democracy and run for office.

The conversation between Brian Roy (JustSignal), Tom, and myself was so interesting to me that I kept it going after the program was over, not realizing that Tom was mic’d and that his mic was still on, so we were broadcasting. A couple of Twitter friends of mine let me know later.

Before that, I went to the Mix at Six party, where I met many of my fellow-organizers of Social Media Clubs across the country and got to say hello to Jeremiah Owyang, my favorite web strategist
and a man crazy enough to wear a white jacket to a party where I was drinking red wine:-)

And after that I went to the TechSet Party, where I ran into Beth Kanter, who is moving to California to take a “corporate” gig as something I can’t recall (yes, the wine). What I always remember is how incredible a resource for non-profits Beth has always been and will continue to be as she unleashes the power of social media to change the world.

All the while, I was texting with my business partner, who was at a completely different set of places with totally different people (obviously).

No more linkbait, but I also ran into Hugh McLeod, Brian Solis, Erica O’Grady, and Jen Myronuk.

You get the picure. If you want to meet someone you’ve been following on Twitter, if you admire that “certain” blogger who doesn’t do email, or if you want to come down here with a sleeping, find someone with a room, and sleep on the floor.

Oh, about the content? I didn’t see anything I really wanted to go to:-)

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Filed under Early Adopter Stuff, Entrepreneurship, Social Media, Web/Tech