One For the Books

by admin on May 27, 2008

On the Media is re-airing a show dedicated to one of their favorite topics – books. From Oprah’s Book Club to the Google Library Project, the way we buy, search, read and even discuss books is changing.

Spare twelve minutes for this eye-opening discussion. 

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Social Networking for the Bookish Type

by admin on May 22, 2008

GoodreadsGoodreads is a community just like every other online social network.

What differentiates Goodreads is their focus on books. Even though MySpace and Facebook both have a few different widgets you can add to your account which enable you to display and review books in much the same way, Goodreads can also be added to your MySpace and Facebook profiles so you can share your bookshelf with friends in those communities too. You can find these features on the right side of the screen in the “my account” view.

 

I like being able to peruse the reading lists of my friends and favorite authors to see what they like and plan to read, and of course, it’s always fun to see who hated Great Expectations as much as I did.

Goodreads

I especially like the feature that enables you to compare your library to another member’s with the click of a button to see what reads you have in common and how the other member rated the same books. That’s pretty eye-opening.

Goodreads Compare

For those with blogs, Goodreads provides an HTML widget that can be customized and added to your blog pretty easily. Look for the “widget” button on the right side of the screen in the “my account” view.

 

Watch for this network to be gobbled up by somebody who wants all that juicy marketing scoop.

But before you do anything else, come be my friend on Goodreads.

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3rd Degree Blogicide

by admin on February 19, 2008

It was bound to happen.

I was screwing around with WordPress plugins last night when one thing led to another and before I knew what happened, I’d inadvertently committed blogicide.

And it was so young…

My apologies to all my treasured guests, thoughtful commenters and registered users. Please know I didn’t whack you, I just whacked off.

I’ll do my best to ensure that it doesn’t happen again.

Start the clock.

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Uncle!

by admin on February 11, 2008

I love Monday morning. A fresh start to a new week of possibilities.

Coffee is ready and it’ll be a least a couple of hours before the phone starts to ring so it’s time to catch up and prioritize.

I rip through email first, categorizing, prioritizing and making immediate schedule adjustments as necessary.

Then, a high speed pass through the SOCNETS to do the same. A quick peek at new friend requests, messages, comments and other baubles. Categorize, prioritize and take action where immediately necessary.

Another cup of coffee and it’s time to open FeedBurner for my morning reads.

WTF? Are there really 280 bits of high quality “conversation” published by 30 writers that I absolutely MUST process before I can produce original thought of my own?

And what of thoughtful commentary? How many thoughtfully crafted responses can I contribute in support of all the hard work these writers are doing?

Most of them don’t even know who I am, and likely don’t give a rat’s ass if I ever comment on their blog, but I can’t be the only reader who feels this way. These bloggers are ALL hoping for comments which move their ideas forward or give them new perspectives to help fine tune their original thought, which is a whole ‘nuther story.

But how?

How do we readers give appropriate attention to the conversations that interest us when the sheer proliferation is so comically overwhelming?

I’ve done it by trimming down my must-read list to a select number of writers. Unfortunately I know I’m cutting some excellent reading material out of my daily information stream by doing this, but what else can I do? Just as importantly, what can we all do to create a more effective channel of information sharing or dialogue through blogging?

Consolidation.

Commonly accepted blogging strategy has adopted the “more is better” philosophy when characterizing a successful blog. A serious blogger must publish daily at bare minimum, and more is better. The more one publishes the mo better.

I won’t include bloggers whose work is tied to market events and current events. We look to them for immediate reactions to breaking news. We know what we’re getting into with blogs like this and have the ability to jump in where we have a particular interest.

But when it comes to ideas and strategies, I’ve come to the conclusion that I simply can’t do justice to the number of blogs and bloggers out there whose work requires careful consideration before making a thoughtful contribution.

When fifteen or twenty of these blogs land in my reader every week day, I’m compelled to key on the few who are most focused on my particular areas of interest, and who acknowledge my contribution, even when we might disagree.

I’m not here to say that my particular contribution is critical to each bit of the conversation, but I’m willing to bet that the higher profile bloggers out there would like to think the other high profile bloggers are paying attention. I’m here to tell you, they can’t possibly do it in any kind of consistent fashion without a fundamental change in the way bloggers publish.

If the daily blogger could consolidate her work into two or three articles each week, would it raise the quality of participation in the conversation?

Would this enable bloggers to pay more attention to the work being done by their contemporaries, resulting in more thoughtful and regular commentary?

Is there too much ego at stake for bloggers to focus on quality instead of quantity?

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An Evening With My Daughters and a Spy

by admin on February 6, 2008

I caught Valerie Plame Wilson at the National Constitution Center yesterday evening.

It was officially billed as An Evening with Former CIA Agent Valerie Plame Wilson.Fair Game

Funny.

I went for a couple of reasons.

First of all she’s smokin’ hot.

Secondly she’s a secret freakin’ agent. Which actually makes her a little scary, but cool.

And hot.

She’s on the road pimping her new book, Fair Game, My Life as a Spy, My Betrayal by the White House, (Simon & Schuster) and was welcomed to Philadelphia by a few hundred patrons of the arts, political junkies and Dubya haters.

In the interest of full disclosure, I have to admit, when she took the occasional cheap shot at the Bush administration, the Air Force veteran in me wouldn’t allow myself to participate in the mob mentality applause. I did, however, clap when she mentioned that she and her husband, former diplomat Joe Wilson, are suing Libby and Cheney.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

The setting was spectacular.

She spoke on the Overlook of the Grand Hall in the National Constitution Center in downtown Philly.

Grand Hall

Over my right shoulder I could see through the expansive glass wall to the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall just beyond. It was perfect, as moderator, Trudy Rubin of the Philadelphia Inquirer pointed out the significance of the moment we were all sharing.

The National Constitution Center

Here we were, she reminded us, gathered under the roof of the institution dedicated to the very document to which we owed the freedoms being exercised all around us this Super Tuesday night, assembled under the protection and wisdom of our Founding Fathers, to listen to the story of a patriot, unjustly maligned by the very highest echelon of our elected government.

Or at least that’s what it says in the book.

I’m not about to get into the particulars of the Valerie Plame Wilson affair. Personally I think she and her husband are getting fucked over royally, but that’s my opinion.

As I mentioned, I went for a couple of reasons. And they were sitting with me—my fifteen and eighteen year old daughters, Devon and Shannon.

I’d snagged the tickets one night while Shannon and her boyfriend Justin were lamenting about the lack of interesting stuff there is to do around here.

At first I did it just to expose them to something a little different–something not a movie or a concert. But as the date grew closer and I researched the details of Wilson’s story so I could tell the girls what to expect, I realized there was an opportunity to do something more than just expose Shannon and Justin to something different.

My girls would get to see what a woman can accomplish in the real world. Whichever side of this you come down on, you gotta admit, Valerie Wilson presents herself as an accomplished, courageous public servant.

John Trumbull's Picture courtesy of ushistory.org

And so, on Super Tuesday, while Americans all across the country exercised their votes for change, my daughters and I enjoyed our own pursuit of happiness, a stone’s throw from the spot where the Declaration of Independence was read to an unsuspecting world.

As I watched my girls throughout the program, I could see the significance of the circumstances was not lost on them.

They experienced Valerie Plame Wilson exercising her First Amendment rights, completely safe from the government she was there to bash, while they experienced their own right to peaceful assembly.

They saw not just Wilson, but Trudy Rubin and Jane Eisner. Women who also represent excellent, accomplished female role models, speak with passion and intelligence about the basic freedoms we were able to enjoy by sheer virtue of our Constitutional rights.

And they saw their weirdo dad drag them to a boring place to listen to a total stranger talk about stuff they’d normally click past on the TV or radio, and they liked it.

They got it, and couldn’t stop talking about it in the car all the way home.

Every now and then it all comes together for a parent and last night it came together for me.

I had a perfect evening with two of my favorite girls, Justin, and a smokin’ hot spy in the Cradle of Liberty.

Thanks to the following for citations, contributions and photos:

Cornell Law School
The National Constitution Center
The National Park Service
The Philadelphia Inquirer
The Philadelphia Museum of Art

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Your Altitude is Relevant

by admin on January 23, 2008

Chris Brogan asked a two pronged question through his Twitter network late yesterday that got me thinking about the impact that perspective and relevance have on the context of a conversation, and how it’s important to understand and adjust your altitude before making a comment.

To be fair, the second part of Brogan’s query belied his open-minded humility when he asked. “Am I being too purist?”

Everyone can agree that the conversations revolving around Web 2.0 can be mighty heady stuff. Even downright evangelical at times as Big Picture concepts are floated in select company, where thinking even remotely old school can get you thrown out on your 1.0 ass.

This phenomenon of human nature is nothing new.

Every conversation, whether it’s about Web 2.0, high end audio or fashion design has its Thought Leaders operating in rarified air where they have no time for anything but the White Hot Now.

And that’s all good. I’m glad they’re there, figuring it all out for guys like me.

There was a time when these Thought Leaders had the conversation all to themselves. They met at exclusive conferences, in universities and within their industries where they collaborated inside invitation-only sandboxes. Eventually their big ideas trickled down to the masses and became consumerized, and the Though Leaders went on to think on some new stuff.

And there is still a fair amount of that going on.

But now, anybody with an Internet connection and an opinion can throw in their two cents, even if nobody asks.

As technologies and ideas trickle down from the Thought Leaders to the masses, the combination of the blogosphere and the explosion of online social networks have blurred the previously firm boundaries of Conversations which were previously the exclusive domain of the Thought Leaders.

It’s as if somebody left the door to The Club open and people are walking in off the street.

But there’s no closing this door, kids, so what to do about it?

How about you just listen, Empathize, Validate, and Learn.

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Building Your Twitter Kingdom

by admin on January 22, 2008

Now that you’ve got your Twitter account up and Twittering it’s time to build your network.

Back when you were setting your strategy I suggested you answer two questions: What do I want to get out of my social network and why should others care about my involvement?

The answers to those questions are made up of the words and ideas you’ll need in order to build your Twitter network. Here’s an example.

Q. What do I want to get out of my social network?

A. I want to capitalize on my expertise in cross dressing so I become the preeminent authority on the subject.  I want to write informative articles to the cross dressing community, couples therapy community and plus size lingerie and women’s shoe industry. Eventually I’d like to sell a book to a major publisher and appear on Oprah in drag.

Then characterize your target connections.

•  Who is my audience?
•  What do they look like?
•  Where do they hang out?
•  What blogs do they read?
•  What websites do they frequent?

Look into your answers for key words to use as search terms.

In this example you could build a list of key terms along these lines:
transvestite               sexual reassignment       queen
drag queen                transsexual                      tranny
ladies underwear     crossdresser                     transgender
judy                            marilyn                             cher

With this list of key words, you can now go trolling the Twitter community. As you perform searches with each term, peruse the search results and click the Follow button when you find someone who fits the target connection.

Continue this until you’ve exhausted all your search terms on Twitter.

Now go do the same thing on Google and see what you find. What you’re likely going to see is a combination of merchant web sites and blogs. Take the time to dig into the blogs. You’ll uncover links to other pertinent blogs and names that you can then go back to Twitter and search.
 
Bookmark the blogs for future reference. We’ll come back to them at a later date.

Eventually you’ll exhaust all your searchable resources. There’s one more fertile area where you can find potential connections inside your network, but you’ve got some work to do first, which brings us to the second question.

Why should others care about my involvement?

This is where you roll out that expertise you’ve been talking smack about.

When you return to your Twitter home page, you’ll be able to see the people you’re following. You’ll also be able to see a list of their feeds, or Tweets, on your home page. Each comment will fall into one of five categories:

•   Informative – usually contains an interesting link or fact
•   @nswer – a comment intended to answer another poster directly
•   Random
•   Though provoking
•   Open question to the group

To get people in your network to follow what you have to say, you’ve gotta engage, providing interesting, informative or at very least, entertaining content, and this is where it happens.

Take the time to read the Tweets coming across your home page.

If you have something pertinent to add to a conversation, chime in. If you can provide an accurate answer to someone’s question, go ahead and answer it. If you found something useful in a link someone provided, let them know.
 

Maybe what you find will tip you off to information you can provide which may be of interest. At very least, thank the person.It’s necessary at this stage of your network building process to direct your answers toward a specific user by placing the @ symbol in front of their Twitter ID. This ensures that they’ll see your comment, which will likely get their attention enough for them to begin to follow you.

If you have a presence somewhere else on the web, this is when cross pollination begins. By including the URL of your blog, your Facebook or MySpace page in your user profile, you’re giving a curious user somewhere to go to get more information about you after you’ve directed a comment at them or they see your comment to someone else.

“Who is this mother f***er telling me I can’t wear flats with an evening gown? He doesn’t know I’m a statuesque 6’2” in stockings!”

And so it goes.

Be disciplined about your strategy and rethink your key words based on what you learn from your network. Set aside some time every day to nurture your Twitter network but be careful; it can be addictive.

Next time we’ll go a level deeper into how you can expand your network further into the places that will position you where you need to be to achieve your networking objectives.

Full disclosure ~ My brother Jimmy, pictured with me in the About section, is now my sister Jamie…kinda, so I mean no offense to the cross dressing community. More on this at another time.

dl

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Signing Up for Twitter

by admin on January 21, 2008

Signing up for a Twitter account is way easy.

Here’s the short version:

Twitter Home

• Go to Twitter.
• Click the green “Get Started – Join” button.
• Choose your username.
• Choose your password.
• Enter the email address that will be associated with your Twitter account.
• Click the “I Accept. Create my account.” button.

That’s it. You’re ready to go.

To personalize your account look for the “settings” link in the upper right corner of your Twitter home page and click on it.

Here you’ll find several options for customizing your Twitter account, and they’re all very simple.

In the Accounts section you’ll make the appropriate changes to your contact information.

This is where you’ll select your time zone, write an uber brief biography, and include the website where you’d like to refer people if they want to learn more about you–this can be your MySpace, Facebook, Blog or personal website.

In the Picture section you’ll upload the picture that will serve as your Twitter avatar. You can use a .jpg photo of up to 700kb in size. I recommend using a picture with relatively square dimensions, and if you’re using a picture of yourself, make sure it’s a close-up so your smiling face is easy to see.

The Phone & IM section is where you can to link your account to a mobile phone and a few different IM services.

The Notices section allows you to set up email alerts. This enables Twitter to let you know when another member starts to follow your updates or sends you a Direct Message – a private communication through the Twitter network.

In the Design section you’ll be able to customize the look of your Twitter home page by uploading a custom background image or simply changing the background colors. Be sure to click the radio button “Use my custom style below.”

The background image can be up to 800kb and should be sized to use up the whole screen left to right. if the graphic is small and looks okay in a step and repeat, you can tile the image by checking the appropriate box.

The Find & Follow section gives you the ability to search most of the popular web based email clients for friends in your address book who also have Twitter accounts associated with their email address.

Now you’re ready to start building your Twitter network.

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Twitter and the Two Questions

by admin on January 18, 2008

“First I hadda get a MySpace, then Facebook was the place to be. Now you’re telling me I need to do what? Twitter? What the hell is Twitter?”

Exasperated and shaking his head, author and lecturer Jonathan Maberry clapped one of his massive paws to his forehead.

“And why? Why should I be Twittering?”

Here’s why.

Imagine could design a custom pipeline of information tailored to your specific interests and needs. Your pipeline would deliver a steady stream of brief, easily-to-process bits of information to your Twitter homepage in real time. No mailboxes to check, nothing to download, and you can jump in and out at your convenience.

That’s Twitter.

The first step to setting your strategy in the context of any online social network is to answer two simple questions:

What do I want to get out of my social network?

and

Why should others care about my involvement?

•  Do you want to sell books?
•  Find an agent?
•  Promote an article, seminar, product or blog?
•  Are you looking for interview subjects?
•  Trying to build platform?

Put some brain power into this part. Carefully consider your more bite sized objectives on the road to world domination.

Once you establish your overarching objectives, you’ve answered the first question.

You know why you’re there now.

But just because you’re on Twitter doesn’t necessarily mean others in the community are going to line up, care what you have to say and hand over what you want.

You gotta work it.

In other words, you get what you give, which brings us to the second part of the question.

Why should others care about my involvement?

The key to productive engagement in any of the online social networks is participation. Be prepared to share good stuff with your network, and pay attention to the stuff your network is sharing with you.

Enhance your Twitter network, don’t spam it.

It’s encouraged to mention that you’re picking the kids up from soccer, having scones for breakfast or running to catch a plane. A little personal can be a good thing.

It’s like a global cubicle farm for where you get to control what everybody else hears.

Again—the winning combination includes understanding your overarching objectives, having a plan to achieve them, and genuine engagement on some level.

I’ll get a lot more “nuts & bolts” by Sunday night. Have a great weekend, kids.

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Twitter For My Parents

by admin on January 16, 2008

I’m sure you know people who refuse to accept text messaging as a viable method of communication.  For those of us who do use text messaging, it’s become a beneficial, appropriate method to communicate some stuff. Not everything, but some things.

Twitter is what results when text messaging, chat rooms and social networks cross breed.

Twitter allows a user to instantly send a brief message of 140 characters out to all the people following them in their Twitter network.

These followers are people who want to hear what you have to say. They’ve chosen to follow your comments because they believe you’ll provide some level of value to their daily pursuit of happiness.

At the same time, a Twitter user can be a follower. A follower can choose to subscribe to someone else’s comments, but if they determine that a person’s contribution isn’t a good fit for any reason, they can whack ‘em.

These relationships are mutually exclusive, that is, you can follow someone who doesn’t necessarily follow you, enabling you to first build and then tap into a community while quietly listening.

So where’s the benefit?

It comes in the form of information. Bite sized tips and tidbits of information served up in the form of comments from those you follow, but the real treasure is in the links your community will provide and the places those links will take you, especially if you’re doing research and you’re following users who are contributing information pertinent to your research.

One of my Twitter communities is built around technology. Not that I really care, but I was practically getting a live feed from MacWorld yesterday through my Twitter network via the mobile phones of the people in my network. Yep, you can link this madness to your mobile phone.

This makes Twitter a powerful tool for journalists and bloggers trying to stay on top of a specific stream of news or information.

If you choose to be a vocal member of the Twitter community and provide good content mixed with your own personal touch, eventually you’ll build a following. This enables you to ask pertinent questions, float ideas and promote your work out to the community, and it’s likely your followers will pass your thoughts along through their other social networks.

Twitter has its more utilitarian benefits as well.

Are you looking for a Thai restaurant, a reasonably clean public bathroom or a deep sports massage in a strange town? Ask your Twitter network. It’s almost certain the information you need is in your network or a level away and will be delivered back to you in minutes if not seconds.

Tomorrow I’ll talk about questions you should ask yourself as you build your Twitter network, how many Twitter networks you need and where Twitter fits in your overall online social networking strategy. Twitter Happy Birdie

Then we’ll step through building your first Twitter network.

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