Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Blogging Basics panel in Menlo Park: May 8th

Just got invited to moderate a panel on Blogging Basics at an innovative new co-working space called Cubes & Crayons.

The description of the panel is here. I'll be moderating a panel with these four fabulous speakers:

  • Jill Asher of SVMoms, is Partner and Co-founder, Silicon Valley Moms Group and mother of two daughters. In addition to SVmoms, Jill is a Human Resources consultant.

  • Stefania Pomponi Butler of CityMama is a professional writer and blog editor/producer who covers style, food, pop culture, and parenting with a cheeky twist. She often speaks on blog-related topics.

  • Eric Case currently is a freelancer at Vedana Consulting, is a very recent employee of Blogger, now owned by Google, having handled product management and developer relations.

  • Brad Neuberg is an internationally recognized software inventor, engineer, and open source consultant. In addition, Brad Neuberg created coworking, an international grassroots movement to found a new kind of workspace for the self-employed. His blog is http://codinginparadise.org/ and he also writes for http://gearsblog.blogspot.com/

  • It's on Thursday May 8th from 7-9PM, so come on down.

    And learn more about Cubes & Crayons here.

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    Thursday, April 24, 2008

    The Backchannel Debate

    Jeremiah Owyang has a post up about his experience yesterday speaking on two different panels at the Web 2.0 Expo (where I will be speaking on Friday.)

    In each case a backchannel, in this case Twitter, impacted the session. In the first session it was unplanned, in the second, it was part of the plan. I'm glad I wasn't there in either case. I left a long comment on Jeremiah's blog post, which broke my personal rule that comments longer than 3 paragraphs deserve to be posts. So I'm also blogging it here.

    Now, maybe I'm biased because BlogHer crowds are so diverse, but in both cases it sounds like an elitist exercise that give preference and priority to those people who live on twitter and the like, instead of giving equal time and attention to ALL the people who showed up in the room, whether they want to play on Twitter or not.

    As an attendee and speaker I hate slavery to the back channel. Or, as I call it, the Tyranny of the Backchannel.

    In the first case, Jeremiah was on a traditional panel and noted via following Twitter that people were starting to zone out being talked at. So he moved right into Q&A with the attendees. So, first of all I might venture to say that paying attention to the body language and expression of the live people right in front of you would be a good thing to do anyway, but in any case, there's a simple solution: If you simply plan questions and interactivity with the attendees into your panel outline from the very beginning, rather than planning to wait until every speaker speaks for 20 minutes, you won't get boring to begin with. That's our general m.o. with BlogHer sessions...after BRIEF intros we try to alternate between questions to speakers and questions both from and TO the attendees right from the beginning.

    You don't need a backchannel. You just need to talk to the people who are there. What is unique about a conference? For most people they paid money and showed up to be in the same room with other people. Why are we trying to find ways to make the face-to-face experience virtual? Instead I'd rather speakers really leverage the face-to-face opportunity.

    In the second instance, the panelists "crowd-sourced" the agenda to the crowd by using Twitter. I suppose if the panel was billed as such then people who were interested in that sort of experiment would show up. That'd be fine. But if it was billed as a panel about something featuring specific people, and then I showed up to find what Jeremiah describes, I'd be hella annoyed. Now, we don't just have the tyranny of the backchannel, but the tyranny of having to use twitter to interact with one another. Sounds like, again, there wasn't really a point to being there in person. I can stay home and follow the various random insights and nuggets of entertainment and wisdom on Twitter.

    And why do I personally feel so passionately about it? Because as an attendee and a visual learner, I absolutely cannot hack the distraction of projected backchannels. I start reading and stop listening. I get distanced from what is right there in the room with me and stare at the screen. Why attend in person at all?

    I also get distracted when the inevitable rudeness, sexism or flames pop up. The few can get the many to focus on the negative that we may not have even felt or picked up on. I find it oppressive. And disrespectful both to speaker and to my time/money as a paying attendee.

    Yes, that's just me...although I don't think I'm highly unusual. I've talked to lots of people who feel the same, but they've bowed to the tyranny of the backchannel.

    My final thought is this: Organizers who insist on projecting a backchannel during sessions are simply afraid that their programming isn't interesting enough. As a frequent speaker my observation is that, more often than not, they're right to be concerned, because it seems to be the fashion these days to have speakers wing it...or at least to take very little interest in guiding or directing or even knowing what's going to be going on during the session. No amount of backchannel actually solves that problem. They're just hoping the backchannel is more interesting or entertaining than the session.

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    Sunday, April 13, 2008

    Hot on the heels of the NY Times "Blog and Die"...more link bait!!

    Only this time I will not succumb.

    I will not succumb to linking to the post of a prominent person in the web space who is auctioning off his Twitter account, "followers included".


    Link bait? Late April Fool's Day prank? Publicity Stunt from someone who is proving he was never the "great man" behind a series of great women?

    Who cares...it's lame. It is almost the antithesis of everything Web 2.0 is supposed to stand for, according to the powers that be who think they can define the purpose of the Internet. Whether it is the least "Clueful" thing I've heard in a long time or not, it is most certainly doomed to fail...because the barrier to clicking "Unfollow" is extremely low. Very, very low. And if I were a follower of this prankster, I'd be unfollowing his ass right now...so that he could see the "value" of his item for sale decline as the seconds tick by.

    Does this mean that Twitter, Web 2.0 or the Internet has jumped ths shark? Not at all...only Mr. Link Baiting Twitter Auction Man has.

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    Friday, April 11, 2008

    Spot the Spammer

    Check the comments on this post.

    There's a corporate spammer who has been leaving an identical comment on this and other posts that talk about BlogHer Business. I guess the reasoning is, "hey, they're talking about an event. I have an event to pimp. I'll comment and pimp my event."

    I consider this comment spam. Plain and simple.

    Yes? No? Gray area that I'm not seeing?

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    Saturday, April 05, 2008

    Wow, the NY Times is really reaching in their fascination with scaring people about blogging

    Is it only me that reads an article like In Web World of 24/7 Stress, Writers Blog Till They Drop and think it reeks of exploitation and desperation?

    Two guy bloggers die of heart attacks, and a third recovers from one, and suddenly we're getting an article on how taxing blogging is.

    Mainstream media likes to hype, we know that. They like the scare tactics about the blogosphere. We know that too. But this kinda goes too far in my opinion. I guess the mainstream media has gotten tired of blogvaneglists saying "Blog or die" and have decided to respond with "blog and die."

    It definitely doesn't sound healthy to live like some of the guys (and they were all guys) profiled in this article, but then again, how many bloggers really live that way. I somehow doubt that the bloggers in the BlogHer ad network...even those at the very high end of the making-a-good-living-at-this scale...live their life like those guys.

    I know the NY Times and other newspapers must be very scared of things like our recent survey that showed women are leaving other media to spend more time in the blogosphere, but I don't think reporting that it's so scary and physically risky to blog is going to help them conserve their readers.

    I felt it was incredibly disrespectful to the three guys mentioned, frankly.

    Anyone else feel that way, or am I in a hyper-sensitive mood today?

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    Wednesday, April 02, 2008

    This month's Silicon Veggie

    A column on the concept of veg*nism and "moral superiority."

    And how goodness and badness aren't really binary. One isn't all good or all bad...one does better at some things than other things.

    How does this relate to marketing and social media?

    I suppose because sometimes a company makes great stuff, but isn't a social media leader (can you say "Apple"?)

    And sometimes a company is out there trying social media like gangbusters, but the product doesn't live up to their efforts (nominees? Anyone?)

    And we judge those companies on both. The good and the bad. The marketing and the customer service and the product.

    That's my story, and I'm sticking to it.


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