The Power of Live

For Christmas, I had a fantastic time back in Michigan spending time with my parents and enjoying the snow :-).   My sister and brother-in-law were supposed to join us but because of outside circumstances they weren’t able to.

Because this weekend is both my brother-in-law and mom’s birthday, my sister and bro-in-law made the trip up to Michigan so that they could all spend sometime together but I’m still here in Washington D.C.  We were thinking, despite the distance, how could we still be able to enjoy spending some time together, especially watch my sister and bro-in-law open up the present that I got them. 🙂

We ended up opening up iChat, powering up the iSight cameras, and going live on camera so that I could be there without being there.  It worked perfectly. I was able to feel connected to what was going on with my family despite being hundreds of miles away.

This really got me thinking about the power of live.  I can imagine how amazing it must have been when television stations were able to go live to a scene.  How cool is it now that that power is in the hands of everyone with a computer and Internet access?

I just put Qik on my iPhone.  I’m excited for the next few days, as Washington DC welcomes the entire world, for the Inauguration.  I want to be on the ground broadcast live all of the things that the news cameras aren’t going to show you.

I don’t know if anyone will watch my live coverage but how long before CNN is cutting to amateur Qik photographers.  How long before CNN doesn’t exist anymore and you have whole news networks built by citizens running around pointing their cameras at the world they seeing happening before them?

FortiusOne’s Andrew Turner Presenting at the Refresh DC January Meetup on “The How of Geo”

FortiusOne’s CTO Andrew Turner  will be presenting at the Refresh DC January Meetup on “The How of Geo.

Bring in the new year with a new take on an old practice. With great mapping APIs available to anyone for free today, mapping content has become something almost any designer or developer can do. Learn the how and why of geocoding, and how to design effective mapping interfaces for your web applications.

Andrew Turner is the CTO of FortiusOne, where he is guiding GeoCommons, developing geospatial-standards and building tools to make it easy for people to create dynamic, customized maps.

It’s on January 15th at 7pm in Arlington, VA at Strategic Analysis and it’s free.  It should be a great one.  I’m definitely going to be there.  Will you be there?

Visit Your Users Where They’re At. Don’t Force Them to Go to Trade Shows.

Was reading up on the latest thoughts from the great Scobleizer.  In a recent post, he wrote:

Walking around Broadcom’s booth at CES also taught me a lesson. That the CES show is going back to its roots: interactions between tech companies and the buyers. That’s something that can only efficiently happen in a tradeshow: getting all those people to visit your company’s headquarters just won’t happen.

So, tradeshows won’t disappear.

If your a company and you want to build community with and have relationships with your users, a trade show is the LAST place you should look.

I just spent the last week at MacWorld and saw a lot of cool stuff but I can tell you that no one working booths was trying to have a relationship with me.  They didn’t want to have a conversation.  They were too busy dealing with all their booth visitors.  They wanted to get their talking points out, get their demo done, maybe sell a product, and move on to the next person.  It was all 90 second interactions.  It wasn’t anything real.

At MacWorld, I doubt very many of the people that were working the booths actually worked for the companies that they represented.   There were a few exhibitors that had OBVIOUSLY hired booth babes.

Instead of spending LOTS and LOTS of money on a booth, go visit your users where they’re at.   It’s the reason that Apple decided to pull out of MacWorld.  They have their retail stores.  There the company can get to know people individually.

I’ve been really impressed by Matt Mullenweg, the creator of WordPress and founder of Automattic.  He travels around the world to WordCamp, the WordPress user conferences.

Every time gang at FreshBooks goes to a new city.  They hold a customer dinner and take their customers out to dinner.

This is how you build relationships… friendships… winning life long customers.

Congress Joins YouTube; Starting a Community or Just More of the Same?

So… the United States Congress has just joined YouTube.  There are now hub pages for both the US Senate and the US House of Representatives.

From there, you can find videos of politicians giving speeches and at committee meetings. This is all stuff that to some extent you could get before, through things like C-SPAN.

What interests me more are the behind the scenes videos they’re posting.  They could do so much to use the YouTube channel to be more transparent about what is going on.

What’d be even cooler is if a Congressman walked into his office, opened up the lid of his MacBook, and was like “hey, let’s ask a question of my constituents and see what happens.”    They could use video comments to really get a conversation going.

I’d be more impressed if a Congressman decided to use Seesmic over YouTube.

We don’t need/want just another medium for politicians to spew talking points.  We have that already with the news talk shows.

It’s time to start building communities and forming relationships.

Rickshaw Bags, Blurb, and the Griffin AirCurve – The Coolest Things I Saw At MacWorld

Over the last few days, I’ve gotten a few questions about what are the coolest things that I saw at MacWorld.  Here’s a rundown of what’s on the top of my list…

Probably, one of the coolest things I saw were the laptop/commuter bags from Rickshaw Bagworks.  Yes, I was most impressed by a bag company.  As someone commutes an hour to work everyday,  you really start to desire something which  is going to better meet your needs.

The company was started by a former employee of the Timbuk2 bag company.   He saw a lot of things that they weren’t doing and he wanted to do differently so he started his own company.  When he told me about the bag, he went through how every inch was purposefully created to serve some purpose.  For example, the bag can stand upright when you put it on the ground.  I could do a whole post on them.  Lets just say I was just really impressed.

Secondly, I was really impressed by the online bookmaker Blurb.  They provide you the tools so that you can design, create, and order your own books, for reasonable prices.  And… these books are GORGEOUS.

The coolest part was that Blurb was launching a community for creative professionals Blurb Nation.  If you’re looking to create a book but feel like you’d want the help of someone with design skills, you can tap into a member of Blurb Nation.   With people throughout the country getting laid off and deciding to become independent/freelance, I think the companies that create this type of ecosystems around themselves is really smart.

Lastly, one of the things that most impressed me was Griffin’s iPhone acoustic amplifier AirCurve.   For a while now, I’ve been looking at these different devices which turn by iPhone into a boombox.  Due to the typical price tag ($120-200), I’ve never made the jump.

The AirCurve, which is $20, is essentially a hunk rectangular plastic that is curved on the inside like an ear.  When you set your iPhone in it, the sound is amplified by 10x.  It’s pretty outstanding.  I was bummed that Griffin wasn’t selling these at their booth.  I probably would’ve bought one.

Fans of the Flickr Commons Project Launch the Blog Indicommons

When I was at the Library of Congress working on our contribution to the Flickr Commons project,  we had the photos and they were uploaded for all to see but it felt like something was missing.

There needed to be more of a destination for the community to gather so that the community could get to know each other and for the Library of Congress staff to get to know the community… forming relationships.

Well, the Flickr community launched a Flickr Group dedicated to discussing the photos that had been contributed to the common, which is AWESOME but it didn’t stop there.

Members of the community have recently launch Indicommons, a blog which dives even further into the photos and the institutions which posted them.

If like me, the Flickr Commons project and it’s photos has captured your imagination.  I’d definitely think that this blog is a must read.

Flickr Holding Washington DC Meetup On Inauguration Day

If you’re going to be in Washington DC on Inauguration Day (January 20th) and you’re looking for something fun to do that’s a bit away from the crowds and the insanity,  Flickr is going to be holding a meetup from Noon to 8pm at SOVA espresso & wine on 1359 H St., NE.  Should be a fun time.

Random Thoughts After Day One on the MacWorld Expo Hall

Yesterday, after I arrived in San Francisco and checked into my hotel, I headed over to Moscone South Expo hall for MacWorld Expo.  I’d never been to a MacWorld before so I wasn’t really sure what to expect.

My first thought was… WOW.  The booths were massive and the hall was even bigger.

As you walk around, you see a little bit of everything, from iPod/iPhone case manufacturers to ToDo list software developers to Brain Toniq to the biggies like Microsoft and Apple.

Now I can imagine that for the biggies like Microsoft buying a booth is kind of like paying your annual dues for being a part of the cult of Mac.   But, if you’re one of the small guys and all you have the money for is a few big marketing pushes a year,  what makes you want to buy a 10 by 10 booth?

You definitely saw every trick in the book being employed to get people to stop at a booth.  One group had the car from Back to the Future at their booth, which was cool but I’m not sure what it had to do with exhibitor.   There weren’t many women roaming the hall because they were all working the booths, which is kind of funny.  Some were passing out food.  Some were luring people with celebrities.

It just seems like it’d be hard to make an impression.  What could you do at a booth which is going to leave enough of an impression on people that they’re going to engage further with your brand?

I talked to a handful of vendors and all in all you walked away like someone had just given you a pre-recorded pitch.

For me, the more valuable time yesterday was the parties.  Those were more centered around people meeting people and exchanging ideas, plus they had drinks.