Thursday, June 24, 2010

South Africa and the World Cup: Beyond the Stadiums

Like most people in the world right now, I am totally in love with The World Cup Tournament. And it's great that a burgeoning democracy like South Africa gets a chance to play host this time. The Wall Street Journal decided to go beyond the stadiums and the huge crowds to explore its amazing wineries and breathtaking scenery.

Great video!

Monday, June 21, 2010

The Social Media Genius of Kim Sherrell

This is the latest post in our series, TwitterPowerhouses, which focuses on the contributions of people who've helped to expand, influence, and redefine how we view social networking. This is cross-posted in the Huffingtonpost Technology Section.

The world has always been impressed with entertainers who use the full measure of their celebrity for the greater good. Brad Pitt has invested heavily in Global Green's eco-housing initiative in New Orleans. Angelina Jolie donates to United Nations Aid Agencies to assist African refugees. Virginia Madsen creates online campaigns for Charity Water. And filmmaker Kim Sherrell uses her famed ArtWalk to break down cultural barriers and inspires us to use the very best of our imagination.

Thanks to the power of social media, Sherrell's ArtWalk has attracted painters and sculptors from all over the world, and even has art battles, steampunk, short films, and iPad art! Beyond her artistic achievements, Sherrell is regarded as an unmistakable thought leader: helping to push the innovative boundaries of technology, and trying to make education more relevant in the lives of a new generation of international citizens. This is why she is one of the 100 most powerful women on Twitter.

Writer Audre Lorde once noted that the world is not divided by our differences, but "by our inablity to accept and celebrate those differences." This is true. But thankfully, Sherrell's work embraces those things that not only bring us together, but call consistently for a new reality of cooperation. From London to Los Angeles, and New York to New Delhi, people rave about the work of this trailblazer named Kim Sherrell. She's awesome... and she rocks!

As a member of the entertainment and artistic communities, how do you use Twitter to connect with your audience?

I am really passionate about comedy. I see Twitter as this massively cool testing ground for new ideas. As an indie director trying to create a new show, I have run some experiments where Twitter functions as a sort of 'comedy test kitchen'. I'm learning fascinating things because Twitter is a great way to find out what kinds of jokes people respond to.

Wisecracks about Twitter itself are obviously really popular! In some cases, the fact that we are on Twitter may be the only common ground, but nevertheless it's a connection. When you've had a good laugh with somebody, you have shared something positive and deepened your connection to humanity. There is a lot of strife going on in the world, but if you look, you can also find a lot of joy in the simple act of horsing around on the computer.

The conversational nature of Twitter makes for some really fun experiences that happen spontaneously. It's like we've got this remarkably fun way to banter back and forth with brilliant people, and from this dialogue, a number of hilarious one-liners and cheeky wisecracks emerge. For example: Star Trek Wisecracks and Top 30 Signs You Might Have a Big Ego.

With the art stuff, I've been geeking out in the lab for years, but still I've never gotten over the wonder of technology. I am floored by the fact that Guggenheim showed up on Twitter during our monthly virtual artwalk and shared some links to their Kandinsky exhibition. These kinds of connections, the removal of barriers: This is the stuff I live for. As an artist and arts educator, my role is to open up new worlds to people and to facilitate new ways of seeing. With Twitter, we are experiencing an unimaginable ability to share our creativity, knowledge and resources with people who crave these things.

Twitter is so wonderful. I don't think we even have the vocabulary to describe what's happening right now with new media. Renaissance. Revolution. These words are too limited to describe the advancements.

You've been on Twitter for a number of years and witnessed a number of changes. What are your thoughts on where the site is headed next?

I think things will become increasingly nomadic and decentralized. Although Twitter has built a strong brand, and the technology will no doubt continue to disrupt all areas of life, we're already seeing redistribution of power from the site owners to tightly knit bands of ordinary people. These groups of common people will continue to wield influence over markets and traditional power centers - even governments, as we have seen with Iran. This article itself is an example of such redistribution. I like to joke that I am in a "street gang" with a bunch of geeks and cultural creatives, but to some degree this is true.

Nature seems to resist tech monopolies. Civilizations are always going to be on the rise or in decline. Right now, it feels pretty good to have the chance to be a part of an emerging society that is getting constructed 140 characters a time. I am especially grateful to Twitter's Jack Dorsey who envisioned a system for people to share in such a remarkable way. I love trying to contribute to the new media movement, where the goal is discovery and the mission is all about contributing positive things to the world.

Talk a little bit about ArtwalkTV. People love how it's impacting lives on a global scale.

ArtwalkTV is based on a simple idea. Lots of cities have an artwalk: an evening set aside once a month to visit galleries and enjoy the experience of checking out art with the members of their community. With ArtwalkTV, artists and art lovers are invited to meet up for a virtual art crawl. The concept happened when I noticed consecutive tweets from friends with galleries in London, Los Angeles and Manhattan. In looking at that pattern of those tweets juxtaposed against each other, I saw a potential way to create a community using the tools of the real-time Web.

I suggested, "Hey, let's have an artwalk!" and I was soon joined by RyanSeslow in New York, JoaoMendonca in Sao Paulo and MissXu in Hong Kong who all started tweeting art links and spreading the news. That was a little over a year ago and tweeps have gotten together on the last Tuesday of every month since to share art links. We found a way to remove some barriers between the artist and their public. We've opened things up a little bit. Art doesn't have to exclude people in order to be good. We now have a lovely gallery, a tight community, and our membership consists of artists and art lovers from every continent.

What's next for you?

I'm in Hollywood again this year working on projects. Progress has been excruciatingly slow. There are so many productions in town where the plug has been pulled and it's a little depressing, but maybe things will start to unthaw. Meanwhile, I just helped with the casting for a 3D horror film. It's the rage right now, of course. Anyway, the director has offered me a spot on the crew, pending green light. Also, I've got a sitcom that I want to produce in a very specific way. We're shopping the project around and looking for a unique product tie-in that is ├╝ber hilarious. I don't know how long it will take to secure funding for that show, but we've got some amazing people on board so... Who knows?

How would you define yourself in 140 characters?

I'm an avid learner and a bold experimenter. A little nerdy, but that's okay!

To read more about KIm Sherell's awesome approach to social media, friend her on her Facebook page and follow her on her Twitter feed.

Authors' Note: In case you missed it, here's Part 6 of the series: The Incredible Rise of a Twitter Visionary

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Guest Blogger: Perri Gorman

Today's Guest Blogger is Perri Gorman, who tweets under the name @bethebutterfly. She's awesome! Her great blog has great video interviews with people across the globe. I am thrilled that she allowed me to share her recent post with my readers. It's a great video interview!!

Social Media In Real Life ~ Series 3~ The Amazing RochelleVeturis

by Perri Gorman

One of the things I love about Twitter is when people you have close ties to introduce you to fantastic people. After a long phone call with my Twitter buddy Sean Gardner, aka @2morrowknight, he said that I must meet @RochelleVeturis while I was in California. Sean had written a beautiful piece on Rochelle in his blog series TwitterPowerhouses on the Huffington Post and made the intro for me via Twitter (of course). As serendipity would have it, I was already planning on seeing my friend Neal Schaffer (@nealschaffer) and he and Rochelle were going to both be at the #OCTweetup fundraiser for Irving Schools.

Rochelle is a very special woman with a great heart and the kind of warmth you don’t experience everyday. It was such an honor to meet her and I look forward to getting to know her better. See what she has to saying about her engagement hitting YouTube, charity and social media, and advice for non-for-profits to find that special influencer to help further their cause.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Man Base Jumps into the Deepest Blue Hole in the World

This has to be some of the most amazing video I've seen in weeks! Breathtaking!

Free Fall from JOOONAE LEE on Vimeo.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

A Powerful Voice for Nonprofits

This is cross-posted in the Huffingtonpost Impact Section.

According to nonprofit insiders, the last few years have been quite a financial struggle. The beginning of 2010 brought an unexpected bright spot with the surprising popularity of mobile funding, which was used effectively by the Red Cross, Habitat for Humanity and others to fundraise for Haitian Relief. Building on that inspiring moment of global citizenry, nonprofits continue their quest for the funding to stay operational, and, for an understanding of the challenges that await them.

As we move deeper into this new decade, Shauna Causey, an immensely creative and strategic thinker, is emerging as one of the most powerful advocates the nonprofit community has in its corner. Beloved as she is respected; and dynamic as she is charitable. She sits on four nonprofit boards, and is the founder of the widely acclaimed Voluntweetup, which helps to train nonprofit entitles on great ways to use social media.

Recently, it was announced that VolunTweetup is going global. This is great news for those of us familiar with Causey's extraordinary work. From continent to continent, she'll now be able to show nonprofits how to connect with their target audience, refine their message, and to engage social media sites like Twitter and Facebook in ways that can pay huge dividends.

As my interview with her reveals, this is a woman on a mission. And nonprofit services -- advocacy, arts, civic, cultural, education, health and otherwise -- will greatly benefit from her expertise.

What are some of the strategies you urge nonprofits to adopt?

I ask non-profits to consider a few thoughts: treat social media primarily as a friend-finder rather than a fundraiser, be incredibly generous, and look for ways to empower the community and create advocates for your cause. In addition, I've been spending a lot of time helping non-profits with the three ideas below. Now that many non-profits have accounts already set-up, we're moving past the basics and digging deeper into strategies:

Make Social Media Work For You. So many non-profits see social media as a chore rather than a strategic way to interact with their community to yield serendipitous results. Whatever goal a non-profit has: finding board members, raising awareness, finding funding opportunities, connecting with lobbyists, or finding keynote speakers for an annual luncheon, using social media channels can be the most important asset in reaching those goals. Twestival is a great example of this. From start to finish, the entire fundraising event was planned and executed using social media channels. And what a great success story! The last Twestival in March raised $460,000 and attracted 14,000 people to raise money for Concern Worldwide.

Make People Smile. Add humor and wit. I encourage non-profits to mix in fun messages with their educational pieces. I saw a very simple example recently from the Humane Society that made me smile. Mixed between tweets raising awareness about puppy mills and tweets interacting with others, was this photo of an adorable dog with a note saying "Happy Friday!"

Diversify The Social Media Tool Box: Livestream a press conference or interview with the Executive Director, share volunteer photos on Flickr, and post an event on Plancast. Meet people in person by going to social media, blogging and tech events. I had a chance to meet Bonin Bough from Pepsi while I was at South by Southwest. Pepsi's massive project to help non-profits, Pepsi Refresh, is impressive. They are sharing non-profits' stories through photos, pictures, video and audio and they show up in-person to events. They're also putting their money where it counts, ditching the Super Bowl ads this year to give more than $20 million to non-profits through social media outreach. Another example is Mark Horvath. He uses a myriad of channels--the most powerful being video--to raise awareness about extreme poverty and homelessness through his channel.

What has the response been like so far for your seminars?

I started Voluntweetup but it's an event owned by the community. We've had three Voluntweetup events so far and I've been blown away at the talented people who've volunteered and the turnout from non-profits. Voluntweetup is a completely free training event for non-profits and a volunteer event for many of the top social media talent. It's "unconference" style which means the community determines the topics that are discussed. The last Voluntweetup event had 130 non-profit executives and 50 social media volunteers. We had topics covering the basics of livestreaming (taught by popular blogger and lifecaster Chris Pirillo) to a panel of success stories (that featured strategies from Jolkona and BloodCenter. Voluntweetup was also featured at Blogworld last year.

The exciting news that we're announcing here is that Voluntweetup is going global! We're opening it up to other cities who are interested in hosting social media trainings and they'll all be on the same day: August 19. We've had other cities request to run events and we want to help them execute events. Anyone interested in leading an event or any non-profit interested in attending Voluntweetup can contact us here.

All of the people who have volunteered their time to help at Voluntweetup are listed here. It's an all-star group of very generous people.

In fact, you've always been helpful and supportive of nonprofits, right?

Yes, aside from Voluntweetup, I also serve on a number of non-profit boards, and regularly volunteer with Social Media Club Seattle, Seattle Works, Reel Grrls, Leadership Tomorrow, and, the United Way. I also run a Twitter account to broadcast Seattle-area non-profit news: WA NonProfits. I'm currently working on two new exciting projects: a book featuring amazing women in tech (including some excellent non-profit stories and strategies), and a flash mob for a cause. Sarah Evans has mobilized leaders across the country to organize flash mobs on June 4 to raise awareness for social services. I'll be helping to organize the flash mob in Seattle.

I feel so blessed to be able to assist. Though, I had no idea how much demand there is for help. In the last year, I've had the opportunity to speak at 20 events across the country and in Canada--all of them about how non-profits can effectively use social media and how companies can align with non-profits to create cause marketing strategies. This is just the beginning. I am committed to producing meaningful partnerships that impact lives all across the world.

To learn more about Shauna Causey's amazing journey and inspiring vision for nonprofits, you can follow her on her Twitter feed, or fan her on her Facebook page.