Saturday, May 28, 2011

The 'Avatar' Sequels: Powered by the Sun? Yes!

Photo Courtesy of 20th Century Fox

For years, journalists like Olivia Zaleski have been pushing the entertainment industry to do more about the environment than just sponsoring campaigns about protecting the planet. And those efforts appear to be working. Hollywood super-producer James Cameron, a strong advocate of sustainability, is making sure that the upcoming Avatar sequels are both extraordinarily eco-friendly.

According to published reports, Cameron's production company has made MBS Media Campus its home. Marvel Comics shot Thor and Iron Man 2 there. But this is significant for Cameron. As noted, the facility has
" aggressive water conservation program, eco-friendly paints and cleaning products, sustainable café and craft services practices and a number of programs to promote greener transportation..."
However, Cameron is going further and paying $5 million in improvements, which will include solar panels that will provide all of the needed electricity for both sequels. This is great. Anyone helping to reduce climate change is a winner in my book. Bravo to Mr. Cameron and his production company.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Twitter's New App Strategy

Twitter's acquisition of Tweetdeck is the latest in a string of moves designed to refocus its relationship with 3rd party apps. It partnered with Twitpic and purchased the iPhone app Tweetie. But this deal involving Tweetdeck is different. This is clearly Twitter's way of owning it's most popular features.

People have complained for sometime about how seamless and stunning Tweetdeck is when compared to I have to agree with that assessment. There are few apps that even come close. So the acquisition makes complete sense.

Twitter's moves are going to be something to watch. As Tech Crunch first reported, Twitter recently revoked 3rd party access to direct messages (finally!!!) and is giving users more information and details about app permissions. Today's Tweetdeck news may not have anything to do with the new restrictions, but the bigger story that it represents will be one of the most interesting aspects of social media going forward.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

The Dynamic and Charitable Lotay Yang

This is my new post, which is also cross-posed in the Huffingtonpost Impact Section.

Life is often a journey about finding your raison d'ĂȘtre, your reason to be. When you follow the achievements of nonprofit crusader, businessman, visionary and motivational speaker Lotay Yang, his reasons to be becomes abundantly clear: to be limitless, networking and sharing without self-imposed borders; to be happy, knowing you have every right to feel extraordinary and to build on that; and to be the good you want to see all over the planet.

He speaks it, and he lives it.

When Lotay was only 21, his father was tragically killed in a car accident in China. After struggling with the agonizing anger, fear and confusion of "why?" he decided to change a horrible negative into positive motivation to continue his father's legacy of kindness and love. He has done this globally by founding the Black Card Circle Foundation (BCCF).

A completely volunteer-run organization, BCCF provides free events, fundraising, PR and marketing, including social media marketing, for numerous charities and causes in the U.S. and China. BCCF has done projects with Bill Clinton, Raymond Usher and Kobe Bryant, to name but a few. The events range from low-key local school cleanup days, to a Japan telethon in China and the U.S., to black-tie galas and corporate responsibility events. Indeed, Lotay has created a strategic vision that focuses on genuine giving, leveraging both his financial and personal influence to make a strong and lasting impact.

In between preparing for an upcoming BCCF event in Shanghai, China for environmental sustainability, Lotay talked with us, giving, among other things, his vision of philanthropy.

Philanthropist Lotay Yang. Courtesy of
Black Card Circle Foundation

What inspired you to launch BCCF?

There were three primary drivers for starting Black Card Circle Foundation: wishing to spread my father's love, warmth and compassion for people; my personal witness of the power of people working together to help others; and my faith that like-hearted people who are rich in resources or in influence can make a difference when working together.

You've forged a number of partnerships that have taken your foundation global. How have you achieved such amazing growth in a relatively short period of time?

The biggest challenge for nonprofits and charities is overcoming peoples' cynicism and selfishness. Some people only wish to see the worst in others, despite evidence to the contrary. Also, some people are selfish by nature, and inspiring these folks to donate even of their time and/or heart can prove to be very challenging.

What are some of the challenges to nonprofits and charities going into the next decade?

Partnerships have come from pre-existing relationships and/or from people who have attended Black Card Circle and Black Card Circle Foundation events. Having been entrusted with a Centurion Card, a.k.a. "Black Card," by American Express reflects a certain degree of credit worthiness and financial responsibility. Some previous relationships also know that I was responsible for and entrusted with the management of over $800 million in liquid funds when I was a vice president with Fidelity Investments in Century City, California.

What's next for BCCF?

Black Card Circle Foundation shall continue to spread the message of hope, peace and love in an effort to unite people of all backgrounds, religions and beliefs to love each other by serving within each person's respective community. Black Card Circle Foundation's mission of raising awareness for other nonprofit organizations who promote self-reliance and sustainability remains constant and unwavering.

To find out more about Lotay Yang and his philanthropic ventures, connect with him through his BCCF and personal websites.

This post was co-authored by Amy Neumann.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Space Shuttle Endeavour from 36,000 Feet

These are the breathtaking pictures of Endeavor taken by American Airlines pilot Lorrie Bird. They were taken with her iPhone. Her plane was the closest airliner to Endeavour at the time. Pretty cool pics of what was the last space shuttle launch.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Rise of the Female Geek

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 was co-written by Paul Steele, one of the world's foremost adventurers.

This is cross-posted in the Huffingtonpost Technology Section.

We agree with the words of author Nina Krebs: "A woman with drive and commitment to make something happen doesn't do well with restrictive comments like 'This is the way we've always done it.'" This can be seen in the achievements of Jeannette Rankin, Mary Church Terrell, Alicia Dickerson Montemayor, Sheryl Sandberg, Corizon Aquino, Benazir Bhutto, and Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. We all stand on the shoulders of these women, and countless others who've given immeasurable substance to our lives. Accomplished, forward-thinking, goal-oriented women. From whose legacies we receive knowledge; and from whose spirits receive strength.

Like them, the dynamic females we've profiled also have an unshakable passion for education, fueled in part by the historical examples that inspire us, and by the contemporary tools they're using to make each of them a leader in this young millennium. However you say it - geekdom or geekery - these women live it, promote it, breathe it, personify it. The impact of female geeks is often ignored, or, intentionally given "special mention" status. Neither reality is acceptable. Yes, the authors of this post can generally spot a female geek in a crowd.

This is why we know you'll love the women in this piece. They take, but they give more. They're dream merchants, tech enthusiasts, industry professionals, mentors, motivational speakers, business visionaries and wordsmiths, and their social media presence excites us. They create opportunities for themselves and others, and they stand as beautiful examples of what is possible, and certainly probable, when you explore the depth and scope of your talents and skills. They use their influence to make an impact, moving humanity in a positive direction and embracing the very best. Oh yeah...and they rock too!

If you ever think about the term intellectual superstar,
Maegan Carberry should certainly come to mind. A political
analyst and activist, she has helped power (and position) the
iconic Rock the Vote for even greater success in the coming years.

Her work on CBS has made her an international sensation. But it's Betty Nguyen's nonprofit work that makes her shine. Her charity, Help the Hungry,
has made a lasting impact in Vietnam for more than a decade.

A slew of amazing clients - from corporations to
prominent individuals - has elevated Terri to one
of the great, bestselling graphic artists.

Jenni Hogan is a TV personality and traffic geek who
is making waves with the cleverly titled Mission Hot Mama,
a first rate site dedicated to helping mothers tap into what
makes them great.

Respected on two continents, Elianne Ramos has great presence in
the business community, and is Vice-Chair of Communications
and PR for the highly regarded Latinos in Social Media.

Not simply a film critic (and a great one at that), Stephanie Spiro

has an enduring interest in interesting topics like "the psychology of tweets" and "hashtagging the brain". Geek-tastic! She's an emerging figure in

New York's famed arts community.

One of the great bloggers in the Asian Subcontinent,
Hari is all about designing and defining social media. She is
a respected guest blogger, and she authored

A tireless and proud advocate for the poor, Diana Adams
is one of Twitter's most prolific bloggers, sometimes writing
multiple posts a day for the popular niche blog BitRebels.

A PR dynamo with Right Now News,
Courtney Wiley has contributed post for a
Who's Who of marketing, business and lifestyle sites.

ShaunaCausey is one of the most passionate supporters of nonprofits
and charities we've ever met. Ever! Her fantastic work in technology and promotion
is respected in every corner of social media.

A self-professed "rainbow-chaser", Ryan produces great
poetry, and has some truly awe-inspiring photography
in her portfolio.

A marketing and branding specialist, with a
fantastic sense of humor and one of the most
geek-rific bios you'll ever read. Seriously!

To finish reading the post in a slideshow format, and see the other amazing female geeks, click here.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Two Popular Blogging Trends in 2011

Despite repeated predictions and declarations about "the decline of blogging", it continues to be a popular and robust area of communication. Recently, I was asked about some of the trends that I see bloggers - men and women - embracing. There are many I could name, but two really stand out for me right now.

(1) "The Series" - Paul Steele's Twitter Singups, Tony Hastings' The Top 10 Blog Interview, Jessica Northey's e-View, Lori McNee's PowerArtists and Chris Burget's PowerHunters are all brilliant examples. Each picked a topic, developed it, and attracted, engaged and maintained a loyal readership that looks forward to each new post. Indeed, creating a series can be a powerful way to build a strong brand.

(2) "Collaboration" - Though you don't see it a lot, joining forces with another blogger is a great way to increase the reach of your post. Mirijam Rosenast and Bariq Rifki write posts on their Xcaped Cat blog. It's a great site because both writers deal with a wide-ranging degree of topics. It's always fascinating to see how their writing styles and life experiences inform their work. In fact, you see lots of writers on well-known blogs teaming up more as well.

I am proud to say that a lot of my work incorporates these areas. My huffingtonpost, twitterpowerhouses series has profiled men and women from all over the world, and I make a strong effort to bring on a co-writer who will enhance the overall presentation. But everyone is different. Lots of bloggers have never launched a series and have no interest in collaborating on anything. And they don't have to. You create your own rules.

But there is no denying the power of these two trends. We'll likely see more - not less - of this in the coming years. And blogging will be that much greater because of it.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Should Twitter Get its Own TV Ad?

In a word: yes! I became even more convinced after reading a recent post entitled Elite or mass appeal? A tale of 2 Twitters. It is an absorbing read that examines how some bloggers and celebrities use twitter and interact with each other. It contains a wealth of conclusions worthy of a book. But what got my attention was the question about whether Twitter is still a social network or whether it is becoming a broadcasting platform.

Why is this important? Because the article hits on a number of narratives and opinions that the principal Twitter co-founders (Biz, Jack, Noah and Biz) can use to keep their site from losing its appeal. Indeed, it needs robust growth in the United States, where its numbers aren’t nearly as high as they should to be.

Enter the idea of a TV ad.

Yes, it was mentioned prominently in a Sprint commercial two years ago. But I'm talking about something different. Back in January, a number of bloggers suggested that Twitter should seriously entertain the idea of a Super Bowl ad because of the billion viewers who tune in each year. At the time, I remember shaking my head in agreement. It's a win-win scenario.

Such an ad needs to be directed at non-users, and needs to answer the question: what is Twitter, and what is its purpose? This can be done. This must be done. If not, then the site - my personal social media favorite - will miss a great opportunity to mainstream itself. A television ad is not (by itself) the solution, but if done right, it could capture the full power of Twitter’s 140 character format. It's an idea whose time has come.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

The Death of Osama Bin Laden

Tonight, we learned about the death of Osama Bin Laden. First through social media, and then from President Obama's nationwide address through cable and network TV. I went though a range of emotions throughout most of the evening. Primarily because I have friends who lost loved ones in the attack on the World Trade Center.

I remember seeing the second plane attack live. It was as if my heart had been pierced. That day will always be with me, permanently etched in my memory. The confusion, the disbelief, and yet, average Americans across the country were pulling together in tragedy.

So I understand the waves of spontaneous celebration that have erupted over the news of Bin Laden's death. A mass murderer and terrorist has been brought to justice, and families of the victims of September 11th can now have some measure of closure. A friend of mine told me tonight that she had stayed away from Ground Zero since 2001. The issue was too raw. I could tell it's still raw because she cried on the phone as she was talking about it. Tears, but mostly happy tears. She now feels she can go and pay her respects.

This is a big deal. It will certainly be a day to remember.