Archive for November, 2005
Hmmmm – funny thing what talking to Chris Pirillo can do to someone. Another issue we talked about the other day had me thinking just now about some of the issues I originally brought up with The Noble Pursuit. We were talking about the goals I have for BrainJams and what I hope people can come away with at the end of the day.
One of the main reasons I focus on trying to get a diverse group of attendees is to facilitate people getting to know people who are less like themselves. This exposure not only encourages learning, it also helps people find the similarities we have with each other as opposed to the differences. In short, I think the events can build a greater sense of trust between different types of people. This trust can be the basis for a greater understanding of the world, and a step towards improved collaboration in everything people do. Getting to know someone in the way I envision will happen at a BrainJams event can be a very positive, visceral sort of experience.
Anyway, this line of thinking lead me to my old story about how the geeks and the suits not trusting one another has cost the economy so much money. The other portion of that story is the cost of proprietary systems. Which brings me back to the new insight.
The 2 most expensive business problems I see have to deal with the same issue – compatibility. The compatibility between people and the compatibility between systems. The ability of people to understand and trust one another in order to more effectively collaborate has a dramatic effect on the top and bottom line of a company. This is especially more so in the Knowledge Economy, where connecting the dots and figuring things out together can make all the difference between success and failure. The tremendous effort required to get disparate IT systems working together (because they were not designed, built or purchased from a holistic perspective, but more often than not from a dysfunctional politically charged review environment. Then of course, there is the impact of mergers, system obsolescence, version upgrades and the craziness of trying to keep every user up, stable and connected. USB works though, so there is hope on many fronts.
I wonder if anyone has done a study on the total costs these 2 issues have cost the economy. From missed deadlines that created missed opportunities. From contractual obkigations that were broken. From efforts and large monies expended in a direction to only be abandoned – all in the name of incompatibility of the systems and the people that use them. My best is that it is well over several hundred billion dollars each decade if not trillions of dollars.
Dr. Arky Ciancutti wrote a great book called Built On Trust which is a must read of anyone seeking to further their organizations ability to more effectively collaborate and be successful at what they do.
What might we be able to do to get more people to trust others when their past experiences have taught them not to trust anyone on their word? Does anyone else have some ideas in this direction?
In the true spirit of openness (and a desire to get more people thinking about the logistics), I wanted to direct your attention to the event planning page on the Wiki which I just launched. Should have been done before I left for my trip, but I can not remake the past, only make the best of what we have in front of us now. My apologies to those of you who have worked hard at this who I may have let down in some way by not being more responsive in this regards. I do hope you can forgive my lapse and work with me to create better systems for managing this as we move forward with future events.
There are some ideas which still need to be nailed down in their final form and there are things that need to be done, but most of all, there are things to be coordinated for the event day itself, so I think we are in relatively good shape to pull this one off in just a couple of days.
If you have registered and offered to volunteer, you will be receiving an email from someone shortly about what is needed to be done, but do please review the planning page and edit it as appropriate with your input and/or taking responsibility for items that need to be done.
I was recording a podcast with Chris Pirillo yesterday when he asked me for my definition of tags. It really drove me into a corner – while I understand them on many different levels and have an idea for tagspaces that would conceivably make the infrastructure simpler, it is really hard to explain them simply.
So I went for the stock answer of tags being keywords plus and then babbled on about explanations and usage (please forgive the babbling, and let me recommend that no one does an interview the day after returning from a 10 day vacation). But this has been bothering me ever since, how do you explain tags to people who don’t use them? I really had not been able to come up with a good short explanation until just a short while ago, so I wanted to put this out there and see what everyone thinks – I sure wish I had this one yesterday instead of today…
“Tags are the keywords/phrases that let you into the conversations about things that matter to you and the labels that we put on items of interest such as blogs, photos, and media so that we and others can more easily find them later.”
How does that work? Suggestions for improvement? Am I close?
Wow! I can hardly believe we are doing the first real BrainJams event this Saturday 3Dec2005. Just 72 hours from now, I will be at SRI doing final setup work.
Thankfully, a lot of people have offered to help out and it looks like we will meet our goal of having at least 60 people or so show up, perhaps quite a bit more. At the moment, I know of about 50 or so who are planning on coming and we are still doing new outreach to bring even more people in. As of yesterday, with the addition of Scissor, RateitAll and Keller Williams Golden Gate as Patrons with each putting up $100, we think we have enough money for lunch, snacks and the after party! (though I won’t be drinking so we can keep the bar bill reasonable Still, it would be nice if we could get just one or two more companies to step up since the suggested donations of $10 are not really rolling in too fast (which is OK as the events are supposed to be free as long as we can sustain this model)
What we really want to ensure though is that we get a diverse crowd of professionals, particularly for the mornings experiment in BrainJamming (my notes are rough and scary, so please only read them if you have the ability to live with ambiguity – I will be building some graphics to explain this later today) In this vein, Andy Kaufman is bringing a friend who is totally outside the technology industry, which lead us both to come up with an idea that should really make the event worthwhile by extending the diversity of the audience. It’s called “Bring-A-Friend”. The simple idea is that every technology person who is coming should reach out to a non-techie friend and invite them to the event. It might be that one opportunity for a significant other or BFF to finally understand a little bit more of what you actually do, as well as a chance for them to meet 24 cool people who are doing important things.
The afternoon sessions in particular should be really interesting and open to all levels of understanding as we talk about how we use the Internet to get things done. This is not how to develop a new technology or program something in Ruby – this is covering things like how to do a viral marketing campaign with the new tools, how to search for a job, how to build a reputation as an expert, how to hack memeorandum (ie get attention from the GeekSet), how to pull off an event with no money, how to build a community, how to tag (and why bother), how to organize knowledge with social bookmarking, how to create a cool podcast, how to keep the family closer when far apart, and how to make money from affiliate sales. These are not the set topics though, this is the direction we want to take the afternoon sessions – as Howard Rheingold says, “what it is —> is —>up to us”.
During lunch, a sheet of paper will be put up on the wall where you will be able to sign up for one of the “Break-Through Rooms” to lead a session. This is not going to be a typical conference session where the person leading will be doing all the talking, nor even one where the leader has to prepare some sort of presentation – the leader will facilitate a conversation (which they will begin with their own personal story and demonstration) on a particular aspect of using emerging Open Web technology to get things done (ie Web 2.0 for those of you still versioning things). As many have pointed out to me, this makes it sort of like a “Web 2.0 User Group” where we share our knowledge of which services we use along with hints, tips and tricks for getting the most out of them. Each session will need a “note-maker” who will be responsible for capturing all the knowledge that is shared – this will hopefully include someone podcasting or shooting video of each conversation as well.
[Please note, no company representatives will be allowed to deliver their canned 'use case' pitch. If a company representative wants to participate or lead a session that is totally cool, but they should show how they actually use the service, with their own personal account (as opposed to one with dummy data). We will try to work this out as we go, but I just don't want it to be a company pitch fest - this is about real people using real solutions that are available today.]
We will end the day with a collective BrainJamming session where we create a MindMap of all the sessions that were held, the key user stories that were shared and the services that people use. This will be a guide to the knowledge discussed at the event as well as the beginnings of a way for us to collectively organize and share knowledge about how real people actually use technology, what tools they use and why they use them. I think this is a pretty amazing opportunity to develop greater levels of understanding between the creators of tools and the people who use them. But since this is an attendee lead event and we are just facilitators, this may change a little bit once we get everyone together. As I said with Web2point1, we just want to set some basic structure and a good intention and watch in amazement as it unfolds.
Any other thoughts? Suggestions for sessions? Go to the event details page and add in your thoughts or simply add a comment here.
Well, I have lots to do in the next 3 days and I won’t have time to manage this, but I do need to start looking for someone now who I might be able to hire in January. Basically I need help keeping my organizer straight, ensuring tasks get complete, making travel plans and general administrative stuff that Kristie and I don’t really have time for. The pay is not much in the beginning ($400-600 per week for 30-40 hours plus overtime as needed), but could grow as life moves forward over the next year and we establish better working rapport and more cash begins to flow. Would be working mostly on site in the home office with myself, our 2 cats and occasionally my fiance will be working from the home office. It will be challenging, but I can also promise it will be fun, exciting and a growth opportunity for the right person.
Ideally the right person would be a blogger (at least livejournal diary writer), know how to get around a Mac as well as a PC, understand the Internet really well, enjoy going to networking events/parties and be able to deal with a lot of different projects. A desire to understand marketing, event management, new media, emerging technologies and entrepreneurship is key, because this is what you will be exposed to. Startup/Small Business experience in a similar role would be ideal. It would be best if you live in the city of San Francisco but not required.
If you read this and know of someone, please let me know by contacting me directly or by posting a comment with a link to the person and their blog.
Without a lot of promotion or pushy salesmanship, we have managed to get enough cash from Patrons to at least cover lunch. Mike Arrington from TechCrunch was first up with $100 almost as soon as Web2.1 was over. Then David Gutelius came through with the venue from SRI, along with great A/V and much good will. Laughing Squid came through with a big $150 when it was much needed, and then Nate Koechley from Yahoo! stepped up with $100 from himself personally (that is so cool). After speaking with Tim Westegren at the Pandora party, Pandora stepped up with $100 and help with music for the day of the event. Out of the blue, Tom Blossom from MindJet contacted me and between him and Hobie Swanson, they came up with $250 and a few copies of MindManager Pro 6.0 to give away. (which completely coinciedentally I use and love as a great Mind Mapping software) Kristie, being the smart girl she is, contacted Whole Foods about getting some breakfast sponsorship and they kicked in a $50 gift card.
This is so cool!
But, we still need a sponsor (or sponsors) for our BrainOff after party from 5-7 at British Bankers Club. If you know of someone, please do have them contact us.
Also, if you have not yet done so, please register today so we have an accurate count of who is coming and who is heading to Paris for Les Blogges
We are back in the USA (well sortof, we are in Miami still) and just checking back in with everything that is going on. If you are waiting to hear from me, that will most likely be tomorrow, though a few things are going out shortly. Lots of personal and professional blog posts to come over the next 48 hours.
Very excited to get back to BrainJams and finalize preparations for the event this Saturday 3Dec2005. Lots of other cool ideas to go through in the coming days – we are full throttle until SAT night when we have our BrainOff at the British Bankers Club and then head off to Tahoe for the first shredding of the season!
Life is good mon!
It’s kind of surreal, but was oh so cool. I asked Kristie to marry me, and she said yes. More photos on flickr soon.
So you wanna know how much MeasureMap rocks? I have been waiting for such a solution for so long that I had to do the signup down here in Jamaica on Thanksgiving – took less than 5 minutes (including republishing my blog) – and now I can’t wait to see the 12 of you readers visit and see this piece so my stats can go up…
I had read something about this the other day, and given that I blog, it really did not strike a chord (especially since the report came out after the Forbes “Attack of the Blogosphere” piece). Being the wired city that I live in, the 16% drop in circulation for the San Francisco Chronicle was the highest among the big 20.
I have probably picked up a daily 4 times in the past 2 years, and that was only in airports. This morning I noticed something strange while getting onto the Metro in D.C. which made me search out this report. There was a man standing next to the entrance of the Braddock Road station handing out newspapers and over half the people taking them. It turns out this is a new effort by the Washington Post to regain some of the 4% readership it lost. I don’t have time to research this further, but if anyone knows more details, please post a comment.