Random Stuff

Well, we didn't make it to the firemen's muster or the CT Folk Festival today. Instead, we picked up two foster dogs from Big Fluffy Dogs. One is a Great Pyrenees and the other is a Great Pyrenees/Labrador Retriever mix. They are both young puppies, each around eleven weeks old. They will both most likely only be staying with us a short while until their forever families are found.

Yesterday, I read that Bloglines was shutting down on October 1st. I had copied most of my RSS subscriptions over to Google Reader quite a while ago, but really haven't been using RSS readers much at all. Mostly, I visit blogs through various blog networks and find specific posts when they are recommended by friends on Facebook or Twitter. As an aside, this morning I took a Zogby survey that was asking about blog reading preferences and asked about things like RSS, Facebook and Twitter.

Anyway, I exported my feeds from Bloglines and imported them into Google Reader. I did a little bit of cleaning up, deleting blogs that have disappeared, fixing categories, and moving feeds for blogs that have moved. One thing that I like about Google Reader is that if you join a blog with a Google Friend Connect widget, it gets added to your subscriptions. It becomes a good way of seeing which blogs on various blog sharing networks have been updated.

One blog that I read regularly a few years ago was Gotta keep on keepin' on........ The top says,

Cancer again...that's 3 times in 2 years. This time it’s not breast cancer, but a new one called squamous cell carcinoma. New cancer, same old fighting spirit! My blog is still named for one of many songs that kept me going the first time around. Driving home from an upsetting appointment, I turned on the radio just as this line from Steve Miller Band's Jet Airliner was playing: "I've got to keep on keepin' on" I did just that. And I'll do it again.

When a friend of mine was diagnosed with stage three breast cancer, I had her get in touch with KT. KT had a great spirit. I saw that the blog was updated on September 3rd.

This is John. I just wanted to post a note on this, the first anniversary of Kate's passing. I am posting the same note on her Facebook page, so sorry to be redundant for those who see it both places.

September 3rd: my wife's birthday, and the anniversary of my wife's mothers passing from cancer. Today is September 11th. As I take a moment to remember friends who died in the World Trade Centers, I also remember Kate and Janice.

On a happier note, I stumbled across Barbara Ann Radnofsky's website. She is currently running for Attorney General in Texas. It 2006, she ran for U.S. Senate. In 2005, we met Barbara Ann at DemocracyFest in Austin, TX. Here is Barbara Ann, Kim and Fiona:

Barbara Ann Radnofsky, Kim and Fiona

I also stumbled across a listing of an event at the Old State House in Connecticut: Does Media Bias Impact Elections? Join the Discussion. A panel moderated by CT-N Elections Coordinator Diane Smith will start at the Old State House at noon on September 15th. Sounds like a great event.

Now, Fiona has headed off to bed. The dogs are sleeping. Kim is reading. Barbara Ann is probably speaking somewhere right about now, and John has probably put his kids to bed. My earache prevails. The list of unread emails remains way too long, but it all fits together into something much bigger than any of us. Good night.

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#swforce A Perpetual Virtual CityCamp?

Tuesday morning will see the second meeting of those interested in establishing a Social Web Task Force for the City of New Haven. I’ve written a little bit about this in #swct Social Media and Civic Involvement Redux and Embracing the Untaskforce, Social Media and Civic Involvement - #swct. Andre Yap wrote about this in The New Haven Project: 100 Common Visions in 100 Days and Brandon Jackson has written about this in New Haven 2.0. Now, we need to start fleshing out what this really means.

How To Blog

On a mailing list I’m on, a person recently spoke about the challenges she experiences writing and asked for ideas on books or classes to help her improve her writing. The following is the message I sent to the list, and it seems like a good blog post reflecting my views on how to be a good blogger.

I've always wanted to be a writer when I grow up, maybe a Great American Novelist or a Poet Laureate. After decades of struggling with my writing, I’m settling for being an Internet Raconteur. I do not know any good classes or books on how to write better, but I’ll toss out a few different thoughts.

First, read. Read anything and everything. I’ve been in discussions with other bloggers where it was asked who everyone’s blog mentor was. I typically respond E.B. White. His essays for the New Yorker and for Harper’s back in the 40s, are perhaps the best example I can find of good writing the way I think bloggers should write today. I also like to mix it up with Virginia Woolf, James Joyce and Hunter S. Thompson.

Second, experience some deep emotional difficulty, or find some other experience that leads you to work with a good therapist to figure out who you really are, what makes you tick, and helps you learn to be more open an honest. Authenticity is a great virtue in writing and therapy is a great way to work towards it.

Third, read some more. Read philosophers and theorists. Find a framework to put your thoughts and feelings into. It can help organize your thoughts if you don’t let it become stifling.

Finally, write. Write as much as you can. Spend time reviewing and editing, but know that at some point, you need to let it go and simply post it online. Know that you’re going to write some really horrid stuff, but you’ll also write some gems. Balance being open and authentic with a strong enough defense to ignore criticism that stings and thwarts you, but still try to find nuggets of truth in the criticism.

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Follow Friday - #DPAC Recap

@tap11 @tristanwalker @lynneluvah @liveintent @perkyjerky @ckieff @geekychic @motherhoodmag @MaryAnnHalford

Well, I’m back from the Digital Publishing and Advertising Conference. I’ll probably be tweeting a bit less today than I did during the conference. As I often do on Fridays after a conference, I like to write a brief Follow Friday blog post about tweeting from the conference. With Twitterfeed, it will end up as a tweet as well.

Let me start off by mentioning Tap11. They provide ‘Twitter Business Intelligence’. I took a look at their product at the conference and it looks really interesting. As I commented to @ckieff @motherhoodmag @ geekychic during cocktails, I would love to see Tap11 do a spotlight on their product at some future DPAC or Digiday conference. It would be interesting to see which speakers or panels get the most twitter traffic while they are speaking.

Some of this came out of a discussion about spotlight presentations. Several of the spotlight presentations came across a little bit too much as infomercials. They didn’t tell me anything new and excited that would get me engaged. Instead, I surfed the web during some of them, and I noted that Twitter traffic dropped off significantly during the least engaging spotlight sessions.

@tristanwalker from Foursquare was on one of the Local Content Creates Local Ad Sales Streams panel. That panel started off slowly, coming across as a little too much of an infomercial for the various speakers companies. Tristan brought a little bit of life to that panel.

@lynneluvah moderated the panel The Big Shift: Buying Content vs. Audience for Advertisers. This was a panel that had a lot of potential, but just didn’t live up to it, despite Lynne’s efforts.

To me, what makes conferences like this most interesting is what happens on Twitter during the conference. I had problems getting power during part of the day, so I wasn’t as involved in the twitter stream as I would normally be. It seems like future conferences might want to have power sponsors as well as wifi sponsors. provides the power and helps you get connected.

@liveintent was the wifi sponsor, as well as a provider of @perkyjerky, “The worlds first performance enhancing meat snack. Caffeinated Beef Jerky!” With my blood pressure, I figured I’d skip the perkyjerky. Caffeine and I just don’t get along well together.

I’ve met @ckieff and @geekychic at various other conferences and we tweet well together. It was fun to see both of them at DPAC. Joining in the serious conference tweeters were @motherhoodmag and @MaryAnnHalford. I met @motherhoodmag on the way to cocktails and we engaged in some traditional face to face conversation with @ckieff and @geekychic as we waited to get our drinks.

All in all there were some good conversations on Twitter and over cocktails at DPAC.

#ff #swct #getitdone in a #doacracy

#pcct #cttu #googlehaven

Typically on Follow Fridays (#FF) I list people that I’ve been following. I try to tie them together into a theme; people I’ve met at some conference, people I know from some online group, and so on. This week, I’m doing things a little bit differently. I am focusing on hashtags.

For those who don’t know what hashtags are, they are tags frequently used in Twitter that begin with the hash mark to get them to standout. #ff, #swct, #getitdone, #doacracy, #pcct, #cttu, and #googlehaven are all examples of hashtags. The theme is focused on Social Web Week Connectict, #swct.

#swct is an event bigger than any of us, so my perspective on how it got started will be different from other people’s perspectives. It is also hard to say exactly when and where it really started. In my mind, it probably started at the New Haven Social Media Club in May. As we talked, I asked about how Social Media Club’s activities related to other social media activities in the state. I talked about the Tweet Crawls (#cttu) and the Podcamp (#pcct) plans.

When it was decided to have the ShareAThon in July, we talked about trying to have a Tweet Crawl in July in New Haven as well. It turns out that Suzi Craig was already in talks with Bun at Miya’s Sushi about having a Tweet Crawl in New Haven in July and I wrote:

Sounds like New Haven Social Media Week 2010 is starting to take shape. Will GoogleHaven, Ripple100, or other groups arrange events? I'll see if there is the possibility of a Drupal Meetup sometime that week in New Haven

A few days later there was ‘Twushi’, a gathering of Twitter aficionado’s at Miya’s Sushi. A few of us talked more about the idea of a Social Media week in New Haven. A few weeks later, the idea was discussed at a meeting of people in the Left to Right movement, #l2r, Andre Yap sent out an email inviting people to the swct Google Group, I set up a draft website, and things were well on their way.

Here is where the genealogist in me takes over as I look at some of the ancestors of this. Social Media Club started in 2006 in San Francisco and has grown to chapters around the world. At one point, I received an email about a Social Media Club meeting in New Haven. I sent out a message that I would be attending, and about half a dozen of us gathered at a New Haven Restaurant. It turns out that the person who had initially set it up had a conflict and couldn’t attend. She had sent out a message saying the meeting was cancelled, but several of us didn’t get the message and we had a good meeting nonetheless. It was there that I met Amy Desmarais, who at the time still had a day job, but was working to help get Ripple100 launched.

Another important ancestor of #swct is #googlehaven. Like #swct, #googlehaven has its own history, and my views will probably miss important aspects. I first heard about #googlehaven, the idea of bringing Google Fiber to New Haven from Jack Nork. I’m not sure how Jack and I originally connected. I believe it was via Twitter and we ended up deciding to meet in the Woodbridge Starbucks to talk about Twitter and other social media.

Google is looking for a testbed to launch their fiber network, and municipalities around the country have put together proposals. Jack, together with Andre Yap of Ripple100 and others have done a great job in promoting #googlehaven. #googlehaven developed a life of its own. At one of the #googlehaven meetings I noted that there were many municipalities trying to get Google to chose them and I wanted to know what would happen to all the great #googlehaven energy after the application was completed and after the decision was made. This idea resonated and has fed into the #swct effort providing great energy.

There is also the Tweet Crawls. I mentioned how Jack and I had met via Twitter and our talk at the Woodbridge Starbucks was, in many ways, a very small Tweetup. I’ve been to many Tweetups over the past years. Joe Cascio has done some great work in pulling Twitter Aficionados together. Later, Suzi Craig took this to a whole new level with monthly Tweet Crawls at different locations around Connecticut.

Some of the people involved in Tweet Crawls also attended Podcamp Western Mass 2. At discussions at the end of that Podcamp and at subsequent Tweet Crawls, the idea of having a Podcamp in Connecticut was discussed and slowly emerged into a core group of people trying to organize PodcampCT. The first PodcampCT is now scheduled to take place in New Haven in October. The Podcamp planning, which overlaps nicely with the TweetCrawlers has been brought in as part of Social Web Week.

At this point, I would like to dig back to the very early roots of Podcamp. Podcamp is a derivation of Barcamp, which was a response to Foocamp, and all of them are based on Open Space meetings dating back to Organizational Transformation meetings in the 1980s, about the same time that I first got on the Internet. As far as I know, the early OT meetings did not use the Internet, but Internet tools are very well suited to Open Space meetings.

In this aspect, there are key ideas about barcamps, podcamps and related camps. Everyone is a rockstar. Whoever shows up are the right people to show up. Whatever are gets discussed are the right topics to be discussed. This fits nicely with Social Web Week. Somewhere along the way, a fleeting idea of New Haven Social Media Week has evolved. I don’t know the details of the evolution and it probably doesn’t matter. What does matter is that a great group of people have come together. They are people that #getitdone. They are connectors. They are people focused on a #doacracy approach to things. Organizational structure, meeting agendas and such only matter in so much as they help get things done, and if they get in the way of getting things done, they get passed over.

What will Social Web Week CT turn out to be like? It is hard to tell. It has evolved a lot since the discussions over sushi and it still has several weeks to continue to evolve. Whatever it finally ends up looking like, #swct, and related efforts like #cttu, #pcct, #googlehaven, and related efforts are well worth following this Friday and throughout the coming days.

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