Contact Forms Feel Like Black Holes

I’m really starting to have a dislike of contact forms.  You want to get in touch with someone or with a company and the only option that you have is a contact form.

Contact forms really feel like I’m sending my thoughts into this ominous black hole where nothing comes out of it.

As a company if you wanna be more inviting of conversation with your customers, don’t force people to e-mail  Give your customer a person to get in touch with… an actual person.

Yes, you’ll say “oh but I’ll get spam.”  Well, spammers are smart enough that you’ll get spam regardless.  Plus, spam filters are good enough that it really shouldn’t be a problem any more.  I get spam once a week.

So… be welcoming!  Put an e-mail address for a real person on your Web site.

Where’s your personality?

LOL… I have a problem.  I like buying books. It’s this impulsive thing.  I can’t walk into a Barnes & Noble without walking out or wanting to walk out with a book.

The book I’ve gotten myself into recently is Rohit Bhargava‘s new book Personality Not Included: Why Companies Lose Their Authenticity And How Great Brands Get it Back.” I have to say that it’s a real gem.  GO BUY IT!!!

A lot of PR books today advise you on new and more effecient ways that you can sell your soul for the sake of advancing your company and your product.  This book posits the exact opposite thesis.

Rohit talks about how if you want to really endear your customers with your company, brand, and product,  you have to show your personality (or open the kimono as Merlin Mann likes to call it.)  This is SOOOO true.

Hmm… what are the brands, companies, or people that I’m excited about?  As my readership, you can probably identify them just as well as I can because I talk about them A LOT.

Murky Coffee (I’m sitting here right now)…  It reaks of personality.  Whether it’s the eclectic collection of tables and chairs, their Arlington location’s house-turned coffee shop, or their amazing coffee.  It’s personality.  Just look at their slogan, “Totally committed to serving the people of Washington with the best damn coffee there is.  Yes, we said damn.”

Gary Vaynerchuk/Wine Library TV…  Yeah, there is LOTS of personality.  If you don’t get what I mean, tune into any of the episodes of Gary’s shows.  Meet Gary in person and HELLO there’s personality.  You can’t help be endeared to him and what he’s doing.

Fun side note: Coincidentally, the one time I’ve met Rohit was at a game of Werewolf that was initiated by Gary at this year’s SXSW in Austin, Texas.  Had a GREAT time.  Wish I could have stayed longer.

Leo Laporte/This Week In Tech…  Seems like I’ve been listening to Leo Laporte’s podcasts forever.  I think it started in college when I first saw Call for Help on Tech TV.  I instantly became a fan.

Now if opened up my iTunes podcast section, you’d see most of the TWiT podcasts.   There is something about listening to Leo and his merry band of brethern which is just really fun.

On one show they gave out an AWESOME t-shirt idea that I’d totally buy, “I hear a voice in my head and his name is Leo Laporte.”

Rochester Institute of Technology… My alma mater holds a special place in my heart because of its great level of personality.  It’s just different.  The people, place, and personalities are just different.  My favorite professors were the ones that let their passions and personalities show.

Capitol Hill… Of all the places I’ve lived, it is by far the favorite.  Why? It has personality.  You walk by a building and it will have a plaque saying “Established in 1820.”  In the distance, you see things like the US Capitol Building or the Library of Congress Jefferson Building.  You get to walk through things like Eastern Market.  It’s the kind of stuff you can’t get any where else in the country… PERSONALITY.

There are so many others that I could talk about, like BarCamps, One Laptop per Child, Apple Computers, Naked Smoothies, Twitter, Flickr, Iron Chef, and many many others.

What brands, organizations, or people are you passionate and excited about because of the personalities that they exhibit?  How do you exhibit personality?

Audio Interviews of Athletes on the 1936 Nazi Olympics (in a Widget)

The Nazi Olympics Audio Widget

The US Holocaust Memorial Museum has a brought back a popular exhibit entitled, “Nazi Olympics: Berlin 1936.”  It chronicles the history around  the time when Adolf Hitler was able to get the Summer Olympics to be hosted in Berlin, Germany.

In addition to have an exhibit at the physical museum building (which I haven’t checked out yet), they have a Web site which carry’s a lot of the same content.

One of the REALLY powerful portions of the online content is audio interviews with athletes of that era and the decisions they made or were made for them around their participation in the games.

If like me, you found the content to be powerful, you can easily share the audio content with your friends because it is in a widget.  They use our Clearspring widget platform for distribution of the widget. 🙂 (Full Disclosure: I work for Clearspring and used to work with a team member at the USHMM.)

Above is a screenshot of the widget.  I would have embedded it right in here but doesn’t allow the embedding of content from third-party sites, unless you’re a few special sites.  *sigh*

Regardless, this is a GREAT example of breaking your Web site a part into pieces and allowing people to spread amongst their communities.  I’m anxious to hear what kind of results the Holocaust Museum gets.

TECH cocktail DC 2 was NUTS!

The Crowd at Tech Cocktail DC 2

Last night geeks from across Maryland, Virginia, the District of Columbia (DC), and other parts of the country converged upon a club near Dupont Circle, MCCXXIII (1223), for TECH cocktail DC 2.

It was PACKED. I heard from someone that 350 tickets were given out to the event.

It was so cool to have so many of my friends in one place at one time. 🙂 Kudos to Frank Gruber and Eric Olson for putting on a great event.  I hope they do it in DC again soon.

(Great photo taken by Jason Garber)

The Importance of Shareability

One question I get asked a lot is “how do I make my content/app/video viral?”  Everyone wants to know the formula or the secret sauce.  While I can’t tell you the formula (because I don’t think there is one), I do think there is a pretty foundation element that you’ll have to have.

If you want your content, to go viral it has to be shareable. People have to be able to pass it from one person to the next.

This week Flickr has made the move of making their content more easily shareable.  In the upper right portion of each page, there is now a big “Share This” button.  You can quickly e-mail the photo, grab a link, embed it, or blog about it.

Two Big DC Tech Events This Week – Refresh DC and TechCocktail

There are two big DC tech events this week that you should be at.

The first is Refresh DC.   It’s tonight at 7pm in Arlington, VA. There is going to be a panel of leaders of local startups giving their advice and thoughts about their experiences.  I’m confident it will be great!  Everyone goes out to the pub afterwards.

Tomorrow is TechCocktail at 6:30pm at MCCXXIII. This is less structured and is more of a booze and schmooze event.  Unfortunately, I believe this event is sold out.  Hopefully, you got tickets.  They were free. 🙂

W3C releases a Web Compatibility Test for Mobile Browsers

This is really cool.  The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) Mobile Web Initiative (MWI) has just release as Web Compatibility Test for Mobile Browsers. It tests against compatibility with twelve different Web technologies.

Point your phone’s browser to:

If you see twelve green boxes, your mobile browser has passed the test.

Here’s hoping that this compatibility test will cause the same level of competition among mobile browser vendors as the release of Acid 3 did for desktop browser vendors.