Monday, October 20, 2008

90 Til 30: Why Inauguration Day Is Bigger Than Politics.

Just three months from today, while much of the United States is trapped amidst a bleak and gray winter, a bright and warm moment will bring the World together as one to celebrate the passing of one age into an entirely new one. Regardless of whom they've supported in the past, or the cumbersome worries they may carry into the future, the World will unite and look beyond what we've known these past few years. Partisan politics will be forgotten (if just for a brief time) and the World will finally turn the page to move ahead with hope and optimism. Men will weep. Women will cheer. Songs will be sung. Bibles will be sworn upon. Children will be forced to pretend they care.

January 20, 2009. My 30th birthday. It also happens to be Inauguration Day. Either way, seems like it's worth celebrating.

Before all that happens, I feel as though there are still a great many things I should do, experience, and accomplish before I exit my twenties. Moreover, I'm interested in your thoughts and advice as to what you might recommend I do within the next 90 days. They can be big things or little things, as long as they are achievable things (its doubtful that I can win an Olympic medal between now and January).

Give me advice. Tell me one of your favorite accomplishments or destinations. Tell me something you've always wanted to do and why. Just make a suggestion. It could be to learn your favorite birdcall or to visit a favorite locale. It could be to play chess in a park or to learn to drive a motorcycle. Share something. Teach something. Plus, you get super triple extra bonus points if you go so far as to help with a direction or recommendation for HOW to go about doing whatever it is you suggest.

Here are a few random uncompleted items off of my Life List that might spark your thinking. I won't get through them all yet, but I'll cross a few of these off in the next 90 days (and some others, too).

16. Buy an ice cream cone for a stranger.
20. Commission a work of art.
31. Write a story for mom.
47. Speak at TED.
48. Swim with a manatee.
49. Learn to surf.
63. Drive the entire PCH.
66. Beat Super Mario Brothers.
67. Get ink.
74. Learn how to sew on buttons.
95. Travel to make a difference, not just for business and for vacation.

You will, of course, be updated about progress, especially concerning any recommendations or advice you might give.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

I Just Hate Metallica

I follow a lot about politics and I despise, yet appreciate the strategy behind the rhetoric. However, I don't know if I've ever been more disgusted by a blatant attempt to mislead followers into a false sense of appreciation than what Metallica is now attempting to do on YouTube.

After having spent years suing any fan or distribution outlet they could find who mentioned their work online, they have now taken the obvious plunge into the realm of  "if can't beat 'em, join 'em" with the hopes that fans won't realize their record. Watch Lars choke back his resentment of his publicist in the video below.

Seems genuine enough, don't you think? Please, stop spending money supporting this band. They are the epitome of why the recording industry is missing the point and destroying itself by mistreating fans. They are now embracing tools they have fought against not because they believe in them or appreciate what they facilitate, but because they see the possibility of the revenue it will bring them. Makes my skin crawl a bit.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Carrotmob Organizes Local Consumer Spending to Save the World

Pretty sweet idea. The video is a bit long, but it's a good story that makes a good point. What happens when consumers organize their collective spending to negotiate with retailers or service providers? Well, it turns out, they can get more than a good deal, they can make a difference in the community.

is a group currently forming in San Francisco whose mission is to do just that. Their model is basically to create a bidding war between businesses who will ultimately benefit from a flashmob of purchasers. The great part is, they are bidding on how much of the impending proceeds the store owners are willing to commit to making ecological improvements to their own store.

It's a true win-win and its pretty scalable.

Check out their first event:

Carrotmob Makes It Rain from carrotmob on Vimeo.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Color Week

Charlie Fan
Originally uploaded by ropegun
I spent the week playing around with photography for the first time in quite awhile. The challenge was to pick one color each day and keep an eye out for it. It was a lot of fun, very challenging, and highly recommended. That's Charlie, who is a brilliant model, posing on Red Day.

Check out all of the results on Flickr.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Blog Indiana

This past weekend, I was fortunate enough to speak to a group of the most enthusiastic members of Indiana's blogging community at Blog Indiana 2008 at IUPUI's amazing new Campus Center. My topic was "Between the Posts" (which I admittedly have plenty of experience with) and it centered on using social media to connect people around your ideas, thoughts, posts, and so on.
Between the Posts
View SlideShare presentation or Upload your own. (tags: maratriangle mediasauce)

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Andrew Keen Hates My Blog.

I don't take it personally, though, he hates most every blog, video, photo and tweet on the Internet. It's just his way.

Meet Andrew Keen, author of "The Cult of the Amateur". He's really upset that I have an opinion and that I'm "stealing" this video clip to share with you. His claim, in effect, is that the Internet is destroying our culture because now too many people are able to share and express thoughts, ideas, and creative expression rather than leaving it to the "experts". He feels that those who are truly deserving (artists, journalists, etc.) are no longer able to earn a living because the Internet devalues them and allows their work to be stolen or mimicked.

Personally, I believe in an even playing field where anyone with exceptional talent has the opportunity to share that with those who appreciate it--be that 2 people or 2 billion people. I also believe that people who try to make others feel inferior by just firing questions at them to try to make them stumble come off looking quite foolish. What do you think?

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Censorship on the House Floor: Why Rep. John Culberson Is Banned From Using Twitter

Having fixed the economy and stopped the war, Congress is now turning its attention to censoring itself on Twitter and other social media websites. Yet another item to add to the "Aren't There More Pressing Matters to Deal With?" File.

For several months, I've followed the inside viewpoint of Texas Congressman John Culberson (R) via Twitter as he offered a unique insight into the world of Washington politics. Using a variety of social media outlets, but most notably through Twitter and the occasional live video stream via Qik, he has opened the doors to the House of Representatives in a very new and authentic way, at times even streaming live from the House floor, answering questions from constituents, and explaining the process like a modern-day Jefferson Smith.

Yesterday on Capitol Hill, Massachusetts Representative Michael Capuano (D), who is Chairman of the "Congressional Commission on Mailing Standards" introduced a letter to attempt to shut down the use of any third party social media outlets by Congressmen without first gaining Committee approval each time. His claim is that any usage that is outside of the domain needs to belong to an official "channel" within that site and thus, make it a unified "official" voice from the House each time video is posted.

Rep. Capuano states, "I believe that these conditions will help ensure that the House presence on such external sites conforms with acceptable standards that reflect favorably on the dignity, propriety, and decorum of the House."

That means, before every time Rep. Culberson could answer a question or voice an opinion, he would be forced to take it to a House Sub-Committee to make sure it was the acceptable response.

This is exactly the sort of governmental control that is blatantly disastrous to a legitimate democracy, and should be seen as a complete act of censorship, regardless of your political affinity (if anyone has one anymore). If there is ANYWHERE in the world that we, as American citizens, have the right to see inside the doors and gather the information we choose to make our own decisions, it is inside of OUR House and Senate.

As our government reconsiders the accessibility of our representatives, please visit Let Our Congress Tweet or follow the updates on Twitter.

A Qik interview with Rep. Culberson. Qik utilizes mobile phone cameras, so the quality isn't exactly HD.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Social Media Creating Social Change: Mara Triangle

In January of 2001, local leaders in southwestern Kenya created The Mara Conservancy, an agency dedicated to the protection of The Mara Triangle, a 510 sq km (197 sq miles) National Reserve that is home to the Masai people and game such as lions, elephants, cheetahs, hippopotami, black rhinos, and of course the zebras and wildebeest that comprise the Great Migration each year. In the years that followed, the rangers dedicated to Mara virtually ended poaching in the area, built more than 150km of roads, and saw the lion population swell by more than 50 percent. Their successes served as a boon to the region, which became a hot spot for travelers on safari.

However, post-election violence in Kenya erupted late in 2007 and created a catastrophic collapse of the tourism industry (90% drop since January 2008). Without this vital source of revenue crucial park operations, including anti-poaching and de-snaring patrols, are severely hindered in the Mara. Without a new source of funding, these services will soon cease.

No Tourists = No Funding = No Protection for Mara Wildlife

Thankfully, Joseph Kimojino, head of tourism and anti-animal harassment for the Mara Conservancy, has refused to bow to pressures. Using a variety of social media applications, he is brilliantly connecting with his audience and engaging them in the stories and challenges of the rangers in the Mara Triangle.

On a daily basis, they are posting updates and stories to a WordPress blog about the activity of the wildlife and the increasing numbers of poachers their weakened patrols have captured. A comprehensive photo gallery lives on Flickr while Vimeo is home to an impressive video channel. With each update, Twitter followers and Facebook friends are notified and kept abreast of the latest.

It doesn't take a lot of money to build an audience and to make an impact. It takes passion, authenticity, and solid strategy. I'm extremely impressed by Joseph and The Mara Triangle on each. I sent my donation today. I hope you do the same. Support The Mara Triangle.

Wildebeest Crossing the Mara River into Mara Triangle from Joseph Kimojino on Vimeo.

Blowing Up the Environment to Save It

I've recently had the opportunity to spend a good deal of time working with the Indiana state offices of The Nature Conservancy, which means that I've had the good fortune to learn more and more about the many ways in which their organization is truly saving the world. Their vast efforts to develop sustainable practices and a conservation ethic are changing mindsets while preserving millions of acres across the nation.

During a recent visit to their offices, I was looking at the many photos on the walls while waiting for a meeting to start. I was studying one particularly ominous-looking one of what appeared to be the aftermath of a forest fire. Trees were charred and felled, and aside from a few young, bright green leaves, it was a pretty bleak scene.

With all of their efforts aimed towards the support of protecting nature, it caught me a bit off guard when one of the state officers walked in, smiled, saying, "Yeah, we really like to burn things around here."

It wasn't a forest fire, but rather, a controlled burn. Among other things, these highly-targeted events help to restrict the growth of invasive species of plants that were crowding out and threatening the native species of the area and encourage the best (and most natural) balance.

When your focus is on developing the best long-term strategic outcome, sometimes short-term sacrifice becomes a necessity.

Check out this video from a Nature Conservancy effort to restore the wetlands in southern Oregon's Williamston River Delta Preserve through the use of more than 100 tons of explosives. Within one hour, more than 2,500 acres were flooded.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Twitter as a Life-Saver?

Along with thousands of others, I have recently been playing around with the "microblogging" site, Twitter. The premise is simple--answer the question "What are you doing?" using 140 characters or less and allow those who are interested to follow along with what you have to say. It's sort of like sending out text messages to anyone who cares enough to read it. The thing is, most of us are constantly doing something different, so the answer changes a lot.

Twitter also allows you to follow along as friends, celebrities, experts, and even the Mars rover, continually answer the question, as well. You may choose to follow just a select few, or thousands, it all depends who you think has something interesting to say, and you can choose to receive these updates online or even to your phone.

The obvious first question is, "why would anyone do that?" or "isn't that just more inane chatter to muck up your already overly complicated life?". Both are beyond fair questions and ones that I posed before playing around a little bit so that I might be able to answer them for folks. Personally, I've been using Twitter mostly like its an RSS reader that allows me to listen in to the up-to-the-instant insight from other experts in my field. I've also used it for quick research (by firing out a question to get some quick feedback from those who are following my posts) and to keep MediaSauce colleagues updated about what I'm working on without having to talk to a handful of people individually. As is the case with most Internet phenomenon, there isn't really a clear cut point to Twitter, just different uses for different folks.

Thinking beyond the techie geek side of things, there is also potential for the service to help with news delivery and personal safety. Recently, an American student in Egypt was unjustly arrested, but was able to send out a "tweet" before being put in a cell. The simple text message "Arrested." motivated his followers to begin calling the embassy and helping clear up the situation. He was free in less than 24 hours. Being connected can be a very good thing.

I'm yet to see too many great applications for business, but JetBlue, Comcast and others are already using Twitter for customer service, and at MediaSauce, we use it to send out quick internal announcements. I can also envision it as a great tool to seek out and motivate volunteers or canvassers come election time.

Anyway, you'll be hearing plenty more about Twitter, especially if someone really figures out what they're supposed to be doing with it! Feel free to sign up and follow my every move (at least until I get bored with it).

Google Me: The Movie

At one point or another, you've typed your own name into Google. Curiosity? Maybe. Self-absorbtion? Probably. Research? Doubtful. Unless you're filmmaker Jim Killeen, who used it to find and go meet people all over the world who share his name. Interesting.

Monday, June 9, 2008

iPhone Madness. Again.

Even though its been on the market for a year, I don't think people fully understand the transformational impact of the iPhone as a product and as a platform. Today, as Steve Jobs hops on stage rocking a black mock turtleneck and jeans (just a guess), it will begin to become a lot more clear to a lot more people. Your phone will soon take over most of the functions that you rely upon your laptop for right now (and of course, be capable of many more things that a laptop could never do). That's a big deal.

Expect the announcement of a new version of the iPhone with a significantly lower price point and a slew of AMAZING applications that have already been developed for immediate download that will simply make the digital aspects of your life easier.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Don't Watch This Video--You Might Get Sued (Somehow)!

I'm continually fascinated by the ongoing battles and scuffles amid and around the recording industry and their impossible battle against technological advancements of any sort. The ignorance that is continually shown by certain artists and labels is stunningly cute. Wasting energy stopping music from the digital world is just about as realistic as winning a war on terror or a sack race versus grumpiness.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that copyrights should be infringed upon, but I do believe:
1.) recording labels are an archaic and wholly unnecessary entity in an age when artists can connect to their fans and sell their albums and concert tickets all by themselves and keep exponentially more revenue, control, and integrity.
2.) artists like Metallica and Prince endlessly suing their own fans rather than embracing the new possibilities of a digital age is the same ridiculous mentality as our current Administration who is planning to somehow end terror by tracking down one "evil-doer" at a time.

Thus, I'm enjoying the philosophical rivalry that is currently emerging between Prince, one of the most litigious and anti-Internet artists you'll find (proof, more proof, I'm hardly scratching the surface) and web-lovers Radiohead, whose most recent album, "In Rainbows", was available for download for free/donation for several weeks via their website and whose most recent single, "Nude", was made available for fans to download the individual "stems" or song components (e.g. voice, guitar, strings, drums) and create their own remixes and alternate versions of the song (this effort has since propelled their previously uncharted song to #37 on the Billboard Hot 100).

Clearly, these artists have a disparate viewpoint concerning their relationship with their fans and the online community. However, their paths are now crossed because of Prince's cover of Radiohead's Creep at this year's Coachella Music Festival seen below.

Once videos began to emerge on YouTube, Prince threatened to sue those who had posted the footage. However, since Radiohead owns the publishing rights, they stood up to the threats on behalf of the fans who had posted the material. Radiohead lead singer Thom Yorke to Prince, as quoted by the AP: "Tell him to unblock it. It's our ... song." Right on. Perhaps not all musical "theft" takes place online.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Burn After Reading Trailer

The trailer for the upcoming Coen Brothers movie, Burn After Reading. There is just a lot here that made me laugh. Enjoy!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Pork and Beans

I assume you've probably already seen the video for Weezer's new single, "Pork and Beans". If not, you surely know someone who enjoyed it over the holiday weekend--it racked up more than 3.5 million views on YouTube in three days. No doubt you'll be tired of the song pretty quickly, but check out all of the cameos from your favorite YouTube viral video superstars.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Hulu Scores Big

If you haven't checked out Hulu yet, it seems you're quickly becoming a member of another technological minority group. Due to its ability to secure partnerships with several major media outlets (chief among them Fox and NBC/Universal), they have fast become THE destination for watching television broadcasts online.

April marked Hulu's first month of full operation outside of their invitation-only Beta testing and Nielsen Online's April video streaming statistics show Hulu is already #1 in viewership among "TV sites". Users watched 63.2 million videos and spent an average of 129.3 minutes per month. That seems like a tremendously high average, but bear in mind, Hulu is a very different site than YouTube, whose average video is 2-minutes of user generated content. These are full episodes of professionally produced content streamed at fairly decent video quality. In fact, I have several friends who have cut their ties with cable and satellite providers altogether because they can find most all of the shows they'd want to watch online.

The quality and user experience are pretty great and the ads are somewhat minimal (they drop a 15-second spot in wherever the TV broadcast had a regular commercial break). Unfortunately (but not at all surprisingly) they have recently announced plans to insert more ads and will assuredly make their platform just as littered with commercial interruptions as traditional TV.

My only real complaint is the sporadic nature of their programming lineup. Though a tremendous variety of current and classic shows (and even some feature length films) are available, it's pretty random as far as which episodes from which seasons are available to view at any given time. Just a guess, but I'd assume that it all has to do with contracts and agreements and DVD sales and syndication. Over time, those gaps will be filled in and I'm sure they'll offer the ability to purchase commercial-free episodes via their site or a partnership with an online retailer.

Panorama of China Earthquake Aftermath

To have any hope of getting any decent world news coverage, it's best to turn to journalists outside of the States. Check out this amazing 360-degree pano from Beichuan courtesy of the good folks at The Guardian. Go check it out.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Mac Experience As Music Video >> Now & Then

Using Mac OSX

Using and Apple II

Sometimes technology can be incredibly creative--no matter the tools you have to work with.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Microsoft Vista Internal Propaganda

There really aren't words for this.

It just really makes me wonder "why" in oh so many ways. There is no chance that even the people who work for Microsoft are so convoluted as to actually enjoy or believe anything about that production.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Stories Without Words

As far as advertising goes, I venture to say that Sony has become one of the very best at learning how to capture the attention and appreciation of an audience by simply creating an amazing visual experience rooted in the real world. That's a pretty good thing since they exist to sell products that are designed to help you do exactly the same thing. Here is the latest in a line of several pieces that capture the imagination without saying a word.

Just enjoy, and if you have missed out on their previous classics, head to the Sony Bravia site and experience Colour Like No Other.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

What Norwigian Children Do in Their Spare Time

I have enough friends who are now engineers to know that they do, in fact, act an awful lot like this as kids. Well, either that, or they just talk about doing things like this, but never get around to actually making any of it happen. Anyway, great concept on this faux-UGC video from Norway.

Unfortunately, this it's a spot for a Scandanavian oil and aluminum production company, not a group seeking to spur amazing progress in alternative fuels or sustainability.

Seeing the Future: The End of the Internet?

I came across an interesting post on GigaOm that I just thought I'd share. If you're a conspiracy theorist or general worry-wort, you might find it frightening. If you're just interested in thinking about how the web evolves and changes, you might just enjoy a different perspective.

Bad things can, of course, happen. Tragic and wide-scale, even, but let's all hope we can avoid this list of the 10 Ways the Internet (As We Know It) Will Die.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

The Future of Advertising

It isn't all that often that I come across a presentation or article that I think truly nails it, but here is one that slide by slide gets it right. The gentleman who created it is Paul Isakson, Senior Strategic Planner at space150 in Minneapolis, and he's done a fantastic job in explaining what seems to be a difficult concept for far too many.

A brand, just like a person, creates value based upon what it gives the world--not what it says about itself. Do good. If you care about your people or your audience, take the time to understand them and their world. Do something that helps them. Give them a reason to appreciate you, and most likely, they will.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

We Think.

I'll have to come back later to talk more about the overarching awesomeness of this animation created to promote Charles Leadbeater's (here he is at TED in 2005) new book We-Think. It's just extremely right on and captures the essence of why I am so energized by what all of this convergence and connectivity is all about as well as anything I've seen. Enjoy.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

TED meets IDEO

So, my favorite gathering of the year, TED, recently wrapped up in Monterey, California. I shortly thereafter, I came across a widget developed by IDEO in conjunction with the event to help encourage users to think about the "big questions" that we face as a society. With all of the buzz surrounding widgets these days, it seems like a perfect match--an innovative, big think agency developing for a conference that exists solely to promote big thoughts and ideas and help them come to fruition.

Unfortunately, the widget falls desperately short in the same way so many do--by failing to think any deeper than the rousing strategy of "hey, we should make a widget for that!" In effect, the result is another piece of cybertrash--a download with great promise that immediately disappoints and then gets deleted.

Mentality surrounding widgets, and all communication for that matter, deserves a fundamental shift. These digital tools are only relevant if they provide a benefit for the end user. Does incorporating this widget improve the lives or efficiencies of anyone?

The only functionality it allows is that you can submit a "big question" that could potentially be shared with the world, just like today's gem seen above. Instead, this could easily be posing great questions and aggregating powerful responses--truly starting a global conversation in the spirit of both TED and IDEO. At the very least, it could serve as a personal log of my individual thoughts on questions by allowing me to enter in each day's response and catalog it, creating a sort of mini-journal of gut reactions to "big questions".

If, for some reason, you'd like to try it out for yourself, download it here.

There is so much more that can be done. There are bigger ideas that can actually make a difference.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Dave Eggers at TED: Transform a Community

Each year, TED awards it's top prize to three individuals who are truly committed to changing the world. A part of the award is the opportunity to state the one wish that the winner would like to see granted to an audience of people who may, very well, help it come true. One of this year's winners is Dave Eggers, a man who has created a tutoring center in his neighborhood that is making a huge impact. Oh, its also a shop for pirate sundries.

The creativity and compassion throughout his presentation is spectacular. Enjoy!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Pinata Abuse

I'm not sure if you've ever been involved in a party featuring a pinata. The last one that I was a part of was a 3rd birthday party. Those kids got down on that poor thing in savage fashion. Later, the cake met a similar demise. For whatever reason, the appearance of a pinata seems to bring raw aggression out of even the sweetest toddler.

Playing off of that theme of malicious battery, Skittles just released this video. It made me laugh. I thought you might enjoy it, too.

Monday, March 3, 2008

A Perfect Argument for Net Neutrality

An oversimplified explanation of Net Neutrality might go something like this: the major telecom companies want to determine how much bandwidth can be used by whom, when, and to which sites. In effect, they'd like to be able to decide which sites you can use their bandwidth visiting and they'd also like to give preferential access to certain groups and corporate clients (whom you're probably not in). Others of us think it might be best if the Internet remains open to all and information-neutral, granting the same access to everyone and every site.

Thus far, I've stayed out of it. I guess because in my happy little mind, it's such a fantastically obvious issue that it hardly warrants all that much discussion. I tend to remain foolishly naive and forget that these days, even the most obvious issues fail to be easily resolved in the best interest of the people.

Last week, the FCC held a meeting at Harvard University designed for concerned citizens to voice their opinions concerning the issue. Comcast, New England's largest provider of broadband Internet coverage, decided do their part to diffuse the potentially heated debate by attempting to fill the entire venue with their own employees and better yet, paid seat-holders. In so doing, they succeeded in:
  1. keeping out the actual concerned citizenry for whom the event was created (more than 100 were turned away because all of the seats were filled)
  2. really cheesing off John Kerry
  3. providing a ridiculous slam-dunk example of EXACTLY what they hope to do by squashing Net Neutrality--taking away the voice of the people to protect their own self-interests
And so, I thank you Comcast for reminding me that important matters are at hand and I certainly shouldn't sit back and assume it will all work out as it should. Most importantly, thanks for making it so easy to paint the picture of what this means and why this matters. Comcast, AT&T, and the other telecom providers who oppose Net Neutrality want to crowd you out and decide when and where you are free to see or say what matters to you.

Honestly, I wouldn't have been able to come up with a better real-world illustration as to what net neutrality is all about. As stated by John Kerry, who is working to pass legislation that will protect an open Internet, "If the other side will use their money to restrict public access to a public meeting, how can we feel confident they won't use their power to restrict voices in the virtual world?"

Clearly, we can't and we shouldn't.

Go here to Save the Internet.

Friday, February 29, 2008

Taking Online Onstage

I was fortunate enough to spend a couple of hours speaking to a group of more than 200 central Indiana business leaders about social technologies at MediaSauce's Web 2.0 presentation earlier this morning.

The material was fantastically well received and there were plenty of great questions from the crowd that allowed our Director of Emerging Technologies, Sarah Robbins (aka Intellagirl), and myself to dive into some general strategic discussions above and beyond just the basic educational overview. The talk was also streamed live online. Once we get that footage archived online, I'll pass the link along.

We've already received some great feedback from many of those in attendance and the next event will feature some great additions based off of those ideas. Thanks so much for all who attended!