Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Barack Obama's Sense of Humor

Whether you voted for President Obama or not, you know he has a great sense of humor about those who foolishly question whether he born in the United States, obstructionists who insist on trying to block crucial legislation he favors, and, the haters who seek to dismiss him as someone who only "makes a great speech." I don't know how he does it, but he maintains a healthy sense of humor about everything.

And I love it.

This video below is proof of President Obama's truly amazing way of seeing the lighter of side of particular conflicts and controversies.


Friday, March 19, 2010

Happy Birthday Twitter

This has to be the sweetest of times for Twitter co-founders Evan Williams, Biz Stone and Jack Dorsey. Sunday March 21st marks the fourth anniversary of their social networking, information service that has taken the world by storm. They continue to add features that enhance the experience, and they're quite confident about Twitter's lasting impact.

I am too.

Indeed, there isn't a day where Twitter isn't apart of the international conversation. I stumbled onto Twitter through another site back in January 2009. My main motivation for joining was to promote my then-newly created blog, and, to connect with truly substantive people moving the world forward. Twitter, like no other site, has helped me to achieve this in ways I never dreamed of. From the shores of Daytona Beach to the skyscrapers of Dubai, I've connected with mentors, industry leaders, motivational speakers, business visionaries, dream merchants, wordsmiths, & serious go-getters.

Though I've only been on Twitter for the better part of one year, I'll be celebrating its birthday as well. Jack Dorsey's revelatory quote - "One could change the world with one hundred and forty characters" - has been proven right many times over. Twitter has been a bridge to amazing cultures, a platform for innovation, and an empowering vision of what it means to be a global citizen.

Happy birthday Twitter. May you continue to be the cutting-edge, thought-provoking, world-changing powerhouse that you've been for the last 4 years.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Has the Law Finally Caught up with the Internet?

In a word, no. But there are signs that times are changing, however. Recently, a man was fined for sending insulting messages to his girlfriend on Facebook. No matter what you think of this case, this much is certain: this is a dramatic example of the law attempting to make sense of the rapidly evolving world of technology.

In fact, Facebook has been used in divorce cases, and has made big waves recently with its attempts to get tough with child predators. And this is just an example of more to come. Many more sites will start aggressively policing themselves, and getting tough with people who bring an unsavory element to their online community.

And this is smart.

Internet law is one of the hottest professions right now. It is just a matter of time before international law completely catches up to technological advances. Going forward, I expect the drumbeat of successful lawsuits to get louder. Cyber-bullying and online harassment are real. If more isn't done to alleviate it, then the law will be more than happy to impose itself. And that day is coming.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

New Coke Machine Great for the Environment

Awesome! This is the type of forward-thinking, visionary creations we need to see more of: "a vending machine that chills soft drinks, and may in turn cool the planet."

I love it.

The Coca-Cola Company is has pledged to replace its conventional vending machines with ones that are more friendlier to the environment. As it turns out, a lot of vending machines use hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) which can cause more harm to the environment that carbon dioxide (CO2). I have to applaud Coca-Cola for doing this. Green activists and organizations have pressured lots of global companies to change their practices. And rather than do something in increments, they came out in a bold way.

And it seems other companies have taken notice. According to Mature Mother Network,

PepsiCo installed 35 new, HFC-free vending machines in Miami just in time for the Super Bowl. These utilize hydrocarbons — think propane and butane — refrigerants already popular in Europe. Ben & Jerry's ice cream company is launching its own version of this technology at stores in the Washington, D.C., and Boston areas. Meanwhile, General Electric is seeking approval to sell home-use refrigerators in the U.S. using a hydrocarbon refrigerant.

This is huge. I hope even more companies recognize the benefit of making their products climate-friendly.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Jazz Baker: Social Media Visionary

This is the third post in a 12-part series, TwitterPowerhouses, which focuses on the contributions of people who've helped to expand, influence, and redefine how we view social networking. I co-wrote it with fellow Huffingtonpost blogger Yasamin Beitollahi. This is cross-posted in the Huffingtonpost Technology Section.

For some time, social media thought leaders have insisted on a new way of defining success on Twitter. Many believe that its just about how many followers you have and how many lists you're on. And while this thinking has its supporters, a powerful, more compelling vision has emerged as the great question of 2010: how many people have you connected with?

Media consultant Jazz Baker represents this dramatic shift. A master networker, she uses Twitter to connect with people from all over the world: the tech enthusiast from Pakistan; the business owner from South Africa; the recording artist from Norway. No matter where you reside or what you do, she looks for the value each of us brings to the table.

Observers have long wondered what kind of hammer will Twitter be. In other words, how should it be used to shape opinions and advance ideas. For Baker, this issue is anything but unresolved. Twitter is best, she believes, when used to inspire, empower and inform. Her value-oriented approach is just what social media needs. We guarantee you will gain tremendously from her perspective.

What is "great Twitter content" and where do you manage to find it?

I have always believed that "content is king." Without it, you'll be often overlooked. I strive to bring quality to those who follow my tweets. And this quality is based on one guiding principle -- the topic, or headline, must have an immediate impact on me. If it does not speak to me, it will not speak to my followers. So you have to be thorough, persistent, and creative. I look everywhere! It is important to look at other Twitter feeds as well. I find that some may mistakenly believe that if someone has lots of followers, they will likely have "great content". This is not about numbers with me. This is about the value of one's updates, and there are lots of awesome tweeters with 100 followers and great content. Be smart in your search. I also look at blogs, online forums, industry reports, and court documents, as well as press releases, targeted content providers, and RSS feeds. This is not just an exercise for me. It's something I take very seriously. The goal is to have a robust, content-rich Twitter feed that informs and keeps people coming back for more.

You're a well-known and respected media professional. What do your duties and/or responsibilities entail?

Although my formal education and professional background is in traditional journalism, my recent activity has led me down the path of independent media consulting. This has included "user acceptance testing" of journalism software, processing management in the modern newsroom, and many technical writing assignments. The focus today is helping companies to transition to the internet with a web presence that is in harmony with their brand. This often includes recommendations on how to monetize what they digitize. Presently, I'm sharing ideas with the management team of a major media outlet as they maximize the potential of their digital archive. This role is always challenging and exciting. However, due to the "confidentiality clauses" in my contracts, my "on-the-job" experiences cannot be shared. However, it is this restriction that allows me to unleash the journalist within, so to speak. This is how I discovered and embraced Twitter as an outlet for the other stories I yearn to share.

Tell us a little about your background, and how it prepared you for your current profession, and, for social media.

For as long as I remember I've always had an interest in art, photography and writing. While attending college (Pace University) in New York City, the opportunity to build on these interests presented itself, and my freelance career was born. As a "special events" reporter, I attended art openings, on-and-off Broadway plays, and other various cultural events, where I was able to have both photographs and articles ready within hours. It was during this time I started to interact with not only "movers and shakers," but also their agents and press secretaries. Eventually, they were calling me offering VIP access to events, exclusive interviews with Oprah etc. I must also say a huge thank you to the rich cultural diversity of New York City. I routinely interacted with people from all aspects of society, and, from all areas of the globe. It was an amazing experience. This is why I appreciate social media sites like Twitter. Its eye-popping diversity is an undeniable strength. Everyday is an adventure to learn something new from another part of the world. When we begin to understand each other's realities, we can then connect with each other around what brings us together. Twitter makes this happen in truly powerful ways.

We definitely agree with the notion of Twitter as a unifying force. The response to the earthquakes in Haiti and Chile illustrate this point.

Absolutely. Twitter has been a great and invaluable tool during disaster and emergency situations. It is truly compelling to see news and information coming directly from the affected areas. Journalists, dignitaries, and average citizens sharing their thoughts. These updates can be tracked through hashtags like #Chile and #Haiti. This type of engagement, activism and charity on a global scale, and in real time, is something we've never seen before. But I love it. It's incredibly inspiring to see. It's also great to see that Twitter has embraced international nonprofits like the Red Cross, Habitat for Humanity, OxFam, Care, and Doctors Without Borders. They've all managed to cultivate a loyal following, and gained serious, cyber-credibility through their updates from disaster zones worldwide. And as a result, their fundraising numbers are up sharply. Ah, the power of Twitter!

How would you describe yourself in 140 Characters?

Positive thinker, media enthusiast, humanitarian, and a fountain pen collector. Living in the now, I enjoy a good laugh, and, a cup of tea.

To read more about Jazz Baker's' awesome approach to social media, you can connect with her on her Twitter feed.

Authors' Note: In case you missed it, here's Part 2 of the series: Straight, No Chaser: The Amazing Rochelle Veturis.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

The Twitter Conference: The Hot Ticket!

Several years ago, Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey uttered these now famous words: "One could change the world with one hundred and forty characters." As we survey the social media landscape, we can see just how visionary and profound Dorsey's words have become. Indeed, Twitter has impacted every inch of the globe, and in the process, has become a premier information network.

But where can you connect with businesses and individuals using Twitter to inspire, transform and empower? The best place is 140 The Twitter Conference. In fact, The Parnassus Group organizes these much-anticipated events, with the next conference coming to Seattle on March 8th. From Los Angeles to Mountain View, conference attendees have come away from these gatherings with a better understanding of the keys to Twitter success.

According to the conference organizers, authentic engagement is what makes that success possible. They claim that organizations and individuals can both gain a lot from genuine, ongoing interaction with their online network. Some of the examples they've profiled include organizations like Starbucks, and individuals such as LeVar Burton who has garnered a massive following and positive buzz because he listens, responds, and adds genuine value to the conversation.

140 The Twitter Conference is the brainchild of business visionary Steve Broback, who has tracked and invested in emerging Internet platforms since the earliest days of the World Wide Web. His first conference for Web professionals launched in 1995 and he has authored books on a variety of tech topics. His latest book is "Publish and Prosper: Blogging for Your Business" published by Peachpit Press.

Mr. Broback granted me an exclusive interview where he discusses the origin of the conference idea and the future of Twitter itself.


How did the 140 Conference come about, and what does it aim to achieve?

In a nutshell, our aim is to help people get the most they can out of Twitter, meet interesting people, and have some fun while doing so. Prior to the creation of Twitter, we had the opportunity to work with Twitter Co-founder Biz Stone when he was a part of our Blog Business Summit Conferences. Biz was familiar with our ability to support and evangelize new technologies, so when we approached him with the idea of launching the world's first conference focusing on Twitter, he and the engineering team supported us.

Despite some initial commentary that an entire conference covering a platform limited to 140 characters of text was overkill, we saw Twitter as one of the key architectures enabling the "Real-Time Web." We knew Twitter had a robust API -- for our clients and partners, we developed a system for processing tweets and tagging them with various attributes at very high accuracy -- including sentiment, gender and age of the writer, etc. It was clear to us that Twitter embodied a deep editorial topic. Based on the fact that we've sold out every event so far, we were proven right.

We launched the conference a year ago in the Bay Area, and by the end of 2010, we will have hosted at least seven major Twitter-centric events in various cities. In addition to our events, Twitter has launched "Chirp" it's own official conference for developers/coders, to be held in San Francisco this coming April.

2009 was a breakthrough year for Twitter. How can it maintain its tremendous growth, and continue to be a powerful force on the world stage?

Twitter has wisely focused on enhancing the platform so that the end user and developer community get increasing value out of it. As long as they continue to concentrate on making Twitter the best and easiest short messaging platform out there, they will only see more success.

What future projects and events from the 140 Conference can we look forward to?

At the Sundance Film Festival in January, the Parnassus Group launched it's "Tweet House" series of events which was a resounding success. The Tweet House celebrates Twitter as a platform and features parties, as well as presentations by those who are using Twitter in innovative and useful ways. We'll see the Tweet House next at SXSW in Austin, and then at the NAB show in Las Vegas.

You can register for the 140 Twitter Conference right here. You can also read organizer Steve Broback's popular blog postings on the TweetHouse site, and, follow him on his Twitter feed.