Theater: “This Digital Life: Basic Instructions for Coping with the 21st Century”

I wasn’t really sure what to expect when my friend Joseph Price invited me to a play he wrote, “This Digital Life: Basic Instructions for Coping with the 21st Century.” I had a hard time imagining a play about technology. The description is as follows:

Sometimes, late at night, do you Google yourself? Have you ever sent yourself an email from the future? Three short plays explore life, death, and infamy in the age of Second Life and Wikipedia.

I have to say I really enjoyed it. I’d describe the show as a semi-satirical commentary on the current state of technology and Web 2.0. It’s about how all of this is affecting our lives.

We may get excited by all of these new technologies but whats underlying is human relationships. It’s those relationships which are important not the technology.

Much like after reading Andrew Keen’s The Cult of the Amateur (which i’ll write about soon), it got me thinking about how can we raise up a generation that responsibly uses the power of Web 2.0 not to stoke the flames of their own narcissism but to change the world.

The play incorporates technology which is really interesting. Despite a few hiccups, he was able to pretty successfully integrate AIM, YouTube, and even Google Spreadsheets into the play.

Overall, I’d recommend people go see this play. It has a pretty short run so go order tickets right now.

I may go again and take a group of friends. If you’re interested in going too, drop me a comment.

Other Bloggers:

“A place where everyone knows your name”

I was having a conversation with a friend the other day about using blogs as a method of forming a relationship of trust with your readers.  What blogging does is make you available.

Blogging says I wanna have a conversation with you.  It says I care about what you think and I want your feedback.  It’s HUGE.

Blogging is a lot like a Professor’s open office hours.  It says I want you to come and chat with me.

It makes you and your opinions visible.

If I think about leaders in the technology industry, there are so many whom I feel like I know because I read there blogs.  They’re visible but also feel available.   If you asked me what their name was I could tell you.

But then there are those technology leaders who don’t publish blogs, I don’t know their names.  I don’t have the level of trust with them.

Lesson of the day: Blog

BarCamp DC: Venue, Sponsors, Twitter, T-Shirts

BarCamp Washington, DC Logo

The organizers for BarCamp DC have been quite quite busy. Ever since announcing the date change we have been furiously working to nail down a venue.

Today, we’re proud to announce that Fleishman-Hillard has agreed to host the event. We’re very excited that they’re helping us make this event happen. They have a great location at 1615 L St NW in downtown Washington, DC. It’s very accessible from the Farragut North (red), Farragut West (blue/orange), and McPherson Square (blue/orange) Metro stops.

There are many other sponsors who’ve joined the BarCamp DC team like 200 OK LLC, Clearspring Technologies, Inc., Culture Captioning, Jounce, nclud, SET Consulting LLC, and Viget Labs.

We hope to be able to announce even more sponsors soon.

If you’re looking for an easy way to stay in touch with what’s happening at BarCamp DC (other than the Google Group), we have just launched a Twitter page for the event.

If you want to attend the event, make sure that you sign-up on the wiki. If you have signed up on the wiki, please add your t-shirt size to your name. We are working to have free t-shirts for everyone.

More BarCamp DC announcements coming soon…

Getting More Work-Related Friend Requests on Facebook.

Is it just me or has anyone else also been getting more and more work-related friend requests using Facebook?  I bet within three month’s ill see my boss sending me a friend request on Facebook.

LinkedIn needs to bust some butt and offer some extra value-added services to its users otherwise it risks a mass-exodus.  All these LinkedIn evangelists will become Facebook fanboys.

I don’t think Jeff Pulver is alone in seeing Facebook as an exciting and vibrant community, even if it is a closed platform where good data goes to die.

iPhone Web Apps Can Never Replace Actual Applications

As I had mentioned before,  there is a pretty vibrant community of developers who are excited about making Web applications for the Apple iPhone.  This is awesome.

These applications are great but I have to admit that they can never replace actual applications.  iPhone applications just don’t have the same responsiveness and feel that actual applications do.  Maybe it’s just that EDGE and WiFi in my area are just not snappy enough.

It’s not that the Web apps can’t work.  It’s just that they aren’t good enough.  If I need information from an application right now, I don’t wanna wait that little bit of time for it to load.  I want the information right now.  If I’m surfing on my phone because I’m waiting for someone, that’s different.  I’ll wait the extra time.

Even with the release of Blue Flavor’s Leaflets, which gives all of these applications a really great streamlined design and ui on the iPhone,  it just feels clunky and not as responsive as i’d want it.

Steve Jobs, when will people be able to develop applications that are running off of the client side and not loaded completely over the Web?  Tell me now.

E-Mail was used for so much that Facebook, Pownce, and Twitter do better

Since the dawn of e-mail, it has been used for every type of person to person communication that someone can imagine.

The thing is e-mail was getting used for so many different purposes that messages were getting lost. People were sending messages to say that they were on the way home from work and it was getting mixed in with everything else.

This is where lightweight messaging services like the Facebook Wall, Twitter, or Pownce.  They fill the role that email did but they do it better than email.

The Facebook Wall allows you to say a quick hello.  Twitter says what you’re up to.  Pownce allows you to send someone a quick link or file.   They each only do these simple tasks and they do it better than email does.  Plus with the messages siloed out into these different services, you can process them much quicker.

As Jeremiah Owyang points out, because of these lightweight messaging services, e-mail usage may be on the decline.  It really doesn’t surprise me.

Market Your Blog Using Twitter and TwitterFeed

Broadcasting your presence using Web applications like Twitter is a great way to market your brand but it is also a great way to market your blog.  Every time you make a blog post, you can let your Twitter feed followers know.

With the Web application Twitterfeed, this is easy.  All you do is put in your RSS feed URL and your Twitter username and password and you’re all set.  Your Twitter feed will be updated every time your blog RSS feed is updated.  (it actually works with any RSS feed.)

Try it and you will drive traffic to your Web site.

(thanks Search Engine Land)

Trying out FeedBurner

So if you look to the right of your screen, you’ll see a new member of the left column on my blog.  I have started using FeedBurner as the main avenue of syndicating my content.  A lot of my friends rave about it and I really like some of the features that they offer.

If you’re a current subscriber, can you switch over to the new feed?
http://feeds.feedburner.com/JustinThorp

I plan on giving a more in-depth review of the service down the road.

Gary Vaynerchuk – a gentleman, scholar, and example of an expert in a Web 2.0 world

Last week, I went off on Jakob Neilsen for essentially saying that you have to bloviate like a dotty old tenured professor if you want to be considered an expert in your field. (exaggeration) My thesis was that its important to know your stuff but that you need to interact and have conversations with your community. It’s through these conversations which you gain trust with the people you’re there to serve.

Someone who exemplifies these qualities for me is Gary Vaynerchuk of Wine Library TV. He is both a gentleman and a scholar. He takes advantage of all that Web 2.0 has to offer to spread his message of Wine to the world.

For those of you not familiar with Gary, he hosts a podcast, Wine Library TV, that goes out every weekday where he reviews some wine. He’s fun and engaging. It’s probably one of the best shows on the Web. Both Time Magazine and ABC News have decided to stand up and take notice.

On his show, he is constantly asking for user feedback but his show isn’t the only place where he interacts with the community. He has a Twitter account. In addition to giving personal updates, he used to use Twitter as a way to field viewer questions live on the show.

Now instead of using Twitter to field questions, he has an application on Facebook called “Ask Gary.” There users can post question for Gary, which he’ll answer.

He has a profile on the wine social network Cork’d. You can see what he’s drinking and what his thoughts are on the wines that he’s tried. He loved the community of Cork’d so much that his company Wine Library purchased it. He hopes to grow the community and use it as a way venue for encouraging people to try new wines.

At the end of everyone of his shows, Gary says, “you with a little bit of me…we’re changing the wine world.” I can imagine if Jakob Neilsen had a podcast he’d say, “I’m changing the world and I’m glad you just paid $3,000 to listen to me talk about it.”

Setting Web priorities… Save Second Life for later and Start Blogging Now

I have been playing with Second Life since 2004. It’s really cool. There is this whole other level of interaction with it that you don’t get with any other aspect of the normal two dimensional World Wide Web.

I will often see geeks get very excited by it and they’re starting to lobby their companies and organizations to have large presences within the virtual world. While I think we need someone people to take the first big steps into the environment, I wouldn’t advise you going to your boss and asking for a six figure line item in your budget to build in Second Life.

Second Life just isn’t well used enough. While people may throw around the 7 million plus accounts created, its not accurate. One person could have multiple accounts. (I do.) This includes accounts that are no longer activated. Wagner James Au points out that it’d be better to look at the latest peak concurrent usage, which is around 45,000, or the active users within the last month which is around 500,000.

While these numbers are great, it’s not enough of a critical mass for it to be worth a big investment. It’d be better to start experimenting so that when virtual worlds do reach critical mass that you’re prepared and not taken off guard.

Right now, people should be getting excited about blogging. If you don’t have your own blog, open up a new tab in Firefox and go to http://www.wordpress.com and start one right now.

Tons of people blog and tons of people read blogs. I think its a more immediate and effective way of reaching and forming community with a vast audience.  You’re going to get more bang for your buck.

I know as geeks its hard but we have to resist the urge to go with the newest greatest thing and do what’s going to best serve our users.   Although, we do have to be ready so that when the timing is right we can jump on the opportunity of using the new technology.