BarCamp DC: New Sponsors, Making a List and Checking It Twice, Ordering Food…

As Jackson mentioned, BarCamp DC is fast approaching. It’s only 10 days away. We’re all really excited about it. We’ve been working hard to make sure it happens as smoothly as possible.

Here are some updates since my last post.

  • We’re up to 16 sponsors. Organizations like Microsoft, the AOL Developers Network, Digital Phenom, Casey Software, and the Sunlight Foundation have recently joined on.
  • While it’s too late to get on the commemorative BarCamp DC t-shirt, it is not too late to be a sponsor. If you’re interested, drop me a line immediately.
  • That’s right the t-shirts have been ordered. They’re going to look great!
  • We’ve reach our capacity with attendance with 110 people. We’re wittiling down the list to make sure that everyone who is signed up is actually coming. We want to squeeze in as many people as possible. In the mean time, there is a growing waiting list to get into the event.
  • We’re currently in the process of arranging breakfast and snacks. Lunch is going to be provided by the AOL Developer’s Network.
  • We’re trying to work out taping many if not all of the sessions and then podcasting them later. If you ‘re interested in helping with this, either by doing the taping or donating equipment, please email me immediately.
  • Also…we’re working on a surprise or two. *evil grin* :-p

I look forward to meeting each and every one of you there! See you in 10 days.

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You Are Not In Control

I’m going to tell you something that they probably don’t talk about in advertising and marketing classes. You’re not in control of your product or in control of your brand. Your users vote with their feet. They decide your fate.

What amazes me is that so many companies, organizations, and people think they can tell their users what to think.  There is this idea that all you have to do is put out the magic marketing campaign and everything will be better.  Reality just doesn’t work that way.

Your users are going to talk about your product. They’re going to talk about your brand. The question is do you wanna be part of the conversation?

This is going to take time. It’s going to take time away from your other initiatives. You can start a blog but it’s not going to magically write itself. You can get an online forum but it’s not going to start itself.  I think you’ll see that building community ultimately pays off.

One of the best examples of this is Digg. They listen to their community and let them take substantial ownership of the product and the brand.

Digg recently instituted some changes to their comments. People didn’t like some of the changes. Kevin Rose asked for everyone’s feed back and listened to what people had to say. They changed the Digg comments again. They knew it was their users that they were there to serve so it was best to listen to what they wanted.

Even a more extreme case is back in May 2007, Digg users were spreading the HD-DVD copy protection key around the site.  Digg quickly took it down.  There was an uproar.  There users spoke and said we want to spread the key wherever they want to put it.  While this may not be the  action I would’ve taken, Digg changed course, decided to get behind their users,  and let them spread the key as they wish.   This endeared Digg even more to its fan base.

You may ask, “What has this gotten Digg?”  Well their numbers have been consistently going up.

The lesson of the day is that you have to listen to your users.  Have a conversation with your users.  You users are in control of your fate.

Will Delta Air Lines Join the Conversation?

Liz Lawley, professor in the IT Department at RIT (where I went to school), recently blogged about a negative experience that she had with Delta Air Lines.   She had paid extra money to have one of the Delta Air Line employees accompany her son, who was having his first unaccompanied flight. Unfortunately, things went very wrong…
The Delta employee accidentally put her son on the wrong plane and almost sent her son to the wrong city, until a much wider person noticed the error. Liz was pissed and rightly so.  If I had a child and this happened, I’d be pissed.  When she tried to follow up on the problem to see how it was resolved, she was pointed towards red tape.  Like any good Web 2.0 citizen, Liz Lawley blogged about the experience.

If I was Delta Air Lines, I would have one person in our marketing department who did nothing except monitor the Web and social media to see what people were saying about me.  If they did this, they would be able to see the concerns that Liz had about this issue.  They could then work with Liz to craft a solution to this problem.

If you’re a company or a person thats out there trying to accomplish something in the world, people may be talking about you or your organization.  You want to be a member of the community and a part of the conversation.

By being a part of the conversation, you can help to address issues before they spiral out of control.  By being part of the conversation and talking to people with concerns, you can create new evangelists and advocates for your organization.

“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…

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.

Jakob Nielsen Gives Advice on How to be an Elite(ist) Writer

Well Jakob Nielsen has come down from his Parthenon to give advice on how to write for all of us lowly bloggers. In his latest column “Write Articles, Not Blog Postings,” he says that if you want to write for most people short pithy blog posts are fine but if you really want to be professional and elite you must write long winded bloviation in the form of an article.

I used to hold Jakob in high esteem but thats when the Web was considered largely as a one-way medium (pre-Web 2.0). Now more people than ever are using the Web as venue for community and conversation. This is community and conversation that Jakob hasn’t been a part of and sounds like he feels like he’s too good for. He must only like the community and conversation which comes from one of his over-priced conferences.

Is it just me or do people not speak of Jakob Nielsen in the same way that we all did five years a go? I remember when I saw Jakob Nielsen at a conference 5 years ago. Everyone was curious whether they should genuflect when they saw him. Now you mention the name Jakob Nielsen and most people will, “Oh I read his one book 5 years ago.” Could the general lack of Neilsen enthusiasm be because he’s not participating in the community or any of the conversations?

In today’s world, where so many people are out there trying to be an expert in something or another, I want them to be well thought out and factual but I don’t them to be distant. I want someone who is going to treat me like an equal and ask me for my trust. I want someone who is going to show me that they’re a real person.

Lesson of the Day:  Be more like Scoble and less like Nielsen.