Archive for April, 2008

8 random facts

I’ve been tagged to share 8 random facts!

My favorite fact from Change Therapy’s list:

i once seriously considered starting a web site dedicated entirely to caesar salad.

So here’s my 8 random facts:

  1. I wear size 10 1/2 wide shoes and on rare occasions, size 11.
  2. I’ve been married 24 years as of April 28th.
  3. My wife and I have turned in about 140 Pepsi bottle cap codes.
  4. I’ve eaten pizza in Rome.
  5. I often considered changing my last name to that of my paternal grandfather.
  6. I collected comics as a kid.
  7. I collected belt buckles as a kid.
  8. I have three granddaughters.

     None of those things define me, but they all provide an outline off my life and experiences.  I didn’t share stuff that’s terribly secret or too personal.  I also tried not to share things I’d shared in this post.

     I don’t normally pass these things on, but I’m passing this on to one of my best buds, Paisano.  I do reserve the right to call upon more of my friends to take part though.

     If you want to know more, just ask.  If you want to share, leave me a comment with your 8 things or write your own blog post. I bet there are at least 8 things I don’t know about you.

The Inspiration that is Twitter


Ironically, it has managed to spawn more innovations and hype—clients, web applications, memes, contests, meetups—than any of the big, bloated social networks. This is interesting because Twitter is not just a “web application”, which, literally, is an application that exists on and uses the Web. It’s an activity taking on many different forms in scattered locations, whose very nature seems viral, and whose openness seems almost unprecedented.

     That was taken from this fun and informative read, The Inspiration that is Twitter at Wisdump. The article doesn’t just mention what Twitter has inspired but shows ton of great links with snapshots of a good deal of them.

     Links to Twitter inspired services, mashups, and even t-shirts abound in the article. Want to poll your friends? Find the hottest links shared on Twitter? See the latest memes? Find the top followers and followed folks?  Then the links are here in this post.

     All this goodness is well organized into groups, with pictures to highlight quite a few of the services.  My favorite stuff is the Twitter related t-shirts.  Now I’ve got to go buy some.  Do you sell any?!  Give us some links.

     Give this great article a perusal and learn more about Twitter and all the things it’s spawned.

Twitter Shakes It Up During EarthQuake

Twitter was first media source again today, and here’s the lead in.

St. Louis residents were awakened around 4:30 a.m. by a 5.2 magnitude earthquake centered several miles from West Salem, Illinois. The forceful shaking which lasted nearly a minute. As the shaking stopped, many St. Louis area Twitterers (and beyond) went to their keyboards to discuss damage. This was nearly 30 minutes before any word from the local media.

     The full article, shared on the St. Louis Bloggers Guild, gives a first hand perspective of new media’s impact. Twitter was the source for folks to find out what the all the shake, rattle and roll was about.  Waking to find pictures falling, windows rattling, and dogs going crazy, the TV and radio had nothing to say.

     Has the world turned on it’s ear when the first place people are going for live and important news is online, perhaps to people they’ve never met?  The Bhutto assassination news came to me with live reports relayed from the scene over Twitter. Now that’s speed. With the contacts I have, I can get the unabridged version of what’s said at many televised speaking engagements.  It’s neat to hear a first had report of Hilary Clinton’s remarks as she’s snuck out the back at an appearance and a few stray reporters are there to see.

     It’s not just Twitter were the news comes.  Many of my contacts have not only written blogs, but video blogs, and can do live video recording on their phones.  Talk about exciting to not just have someone tell me the news over Twitter, but to show me.  What better than pictures captured at an event and instantly transmitted across the world.

     Not only has new media brought us new tools, but a whole new sense of community to news.  No longer is an overly primped strong chinned host the only face on the news.  Becky down the street can bring me live coverage of her first walk for Cancer. Sanjib in overseas in the East can share what life is really like there, free from the cleansing of national and international television rules.  Jim in NY can share pictures of the Pope, pictures you won’t see on the news.  Want crowd reaction, why listen to some guy on NPR report on it.  Get it from the folks in the crowd through Twitter, Utterz, and Qik.

     Downsides you say, what about not coming from a professional? Heck, I’ll trade polished and good looking for raw footage any day. I’ll trade super quality video and sound for fresh and interesting as well.  So no, maybe the guy sharing isn’t briefed in world political history, and can’t comment except about how he feels.  But that guy bringing us a fresh view, and a view not likely tied to keeping his reporting job.

     There’s one thing I forgot to mention though in my excitement to brag about new media.  You can’t just tune in and turn it on and get the news.  You can’t just know which of your contacts will bring it to your door, and not even where the news might be about.

     How to get around that? Contacts and quality = value. Lots of contacts isn’t enough if most of them live down the street, though you might be surprised.  Contacts who never engage in conversation and never share, they won’t be of much news value either.  But you can cultivate great contacts.  I’ll leave that for you the reader to think about how to do it.

     To wrap up, is Twitter and such the end all and be all of getting your news? No, but it’s quickly becoming the place in my day to day life that I find out first about breaking news.

     What about you? Has your online network of friends, contacts, and feeds brought new life into finding out about the world around you? Or are you certain that the only good news is brought through nice safe professional channels, like Fox and CNN? Where do you stand?  Is a bloggers voice good enough? Or do you only read the newspaper?  Tell me where you get your info.

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Comics and cartoons by Tojosan

Tojo’s Cartoons and Comics

Shameless plug for my newest blogging effort.  I’m considering moving it to it’s own site when I move this blog in the near future.  Do drop by, leave a comment, heckle me a bit, or find a way to send money. :)

Feel free to leave me suggestions, requests, or comments at the new site. It’s for you, my readers, to enjoy your time online just a bit more.

See you there.

St. Louis Bloggers Guild – A Step Forward

Blog much? Well then you need to hear about this. St. Louis bloggers are joining together to form a first of it’s kind guild.  Writers have a guild, directors have guilds, so why not bloggers?

St. Louis Bloggers Guild is already drawing attention, with write ups in the local media, as well as a swarm of bloggers looking to join.  Why a guild? What’s it got to offer over something like a blog carnival or an online only blogging community?

The St. Louis bloggers Guild is not just about posting all on the same topic, or giving each other a pat on the back, though it can do that too.  It’s about informing, promoting, protecting, and yes, connecting.  Sound interesting yet?

The guild isn’t just about putting fingers to keys, and putting up the posts, it’s about forming a real community.  Not just faceless nicknames anymore, but folks you get to know in a real way.  There will be parties, conferences, blogging fests and more.  Yes even beer on occassion.  I mean heck, we are St. Louis, home of Budweieser!

St. Louis bloggers won’t be hemmed in either.  This isn’t about corralling folks and making them get in line.  It’s about a community hub, and it will take all types.  There’ll be blogs about St. Louis involved, and blogs about parenting, blogs about tech, and blogs about camping, even blogs about cupcakes.

So what’s stopping you from signing up today?  Hey, you can go visit the main page here, or go right to joining up here.

Want just a bit more incentive? How about joining several of us for a little mixer this Saturday night?  Yep, come meet some of us face to face and share a drink or an appetizer.  It’s a party at Atomic Cowboy in St. Louis.  The short story is be there at 6:30 PM. We’ll be the ones chatting it up and acting like bloggers.

Please come out and show your support or if you can’t make it, do drop by the guild website and visit.

See you around the net!

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Should You or Should You Not Submit Your Own Stuff?

Social Media Mom bring us one of the big questions of the day:

Should You or Should You Not Submit Your Own Stuff?

To summarize, she shares her feelings via quote:

I agree 100% with what Jack Spirko, from the Dallas Business and Marketing Blog says, “To me social networking has a greater future if we judge the content rather then intent“. Is it really that important who submits it? If you like it, you can Mixx it, Digg it, Stumble it, Sphinn it, or whatever. If you don’t, then by all means don’t vote for it and move on!

Oh, but if it were only that simple. Just share our best work and have folks vote on it. Many argue that the Internet already votes, simply count your page views and there you have it. If only that were true.

Posting your best stuff and hoping might be work if everyone on the Internet was aware of every blog post, news article, and web page in existence. Not only would they know of the existence, but know the complete URL, the language, and then have a browser that can read it. This doesn’t even cover corporate or nationwide blocks in place on Internet browsing.

You’ll say next perhaps that the best stuff still gets around. I wager you that there’s plenty of great stuff you’ve never seen and never will. There just isn’t time. No time, and tons of competition for people’s attention when they are online. There’s the latest crazy thing on YouTube, the cute dog pictures from Aunt Saddie and erotic fiction for others. Just how is one supposed to get squeezed into that?

If you were a store owner, or politician or author, then the answer is to talk about it, shout about it, and even take out huge ads on TV and radio. But if you’re a blogger? Well, don’t go telling folks, it just shows how selfish and self centered you are. It smacks of a big ego, or little concern for others. It reeks of neediness and attention starvation.

Dang, talk about something hanging over you head.  So then what should a blogger do?  Write great stuff and pray?  Should the blogger have to start turning out tons of content just to make sure they get search engine hits.  Or even rob their writing of its creativity or uniqueness for search engine hits?

It’s the same problem many authors have that don’t have a big firm to back them up, it’s hard to get noticed.  One innovate thing that’s occurring though is more authors are taking their books to the bloggers. They are emailing them, tweeting them, interviewing with them and more.

It’s obvious what happens if bloggers do the same thing with their blog though, it gets shot down quick.

What can we as bloggers do to help if we aren’t supposed to submit our own content for notice and sharing? One thing we can do is network to the high heavens.  We need to network like we mean it.  Note, networking <> shouting about your content, your brand or your hot boddy.  It means engaging people wherever they’re at, and getting to know each other.  This is a slow process and something to think of more as a long term investment.

Something else we can do?  Be remarkabled. Seth Godin talks about it all the time. Others live it all the time.  How can you and I be remarkable?  No ideas? Don’t feel bad, if you had them and executed on them, you’d already be remarkable.

Remarkable doesn’t have to be tough though.  You don’t need to write a book to be famous or noticed.  What you can best do to get noticed is be a generous giver.  The best thing is you don’t have to give money, or lots of expensive things.  The real key is to give without asking for anything in return.  You don’t have to ‘give’ in private either, even if you don’t brag.

I could write a ton about giving and giving honestly and feeling rewarded about it.  The key is to give your time most of all.  Take time to comment on other blogs.  Take time to email your contacts.  Take time to make conversation.  Take time to listen.  That last one counts more than all the others.  When people knw you’re listening, you suddenly become a lot more remarkable.

Social Media Mom ends her post like this:

What do you think about self submission? Should we or should we not submit our content to others, social sites etc.? I would love to know whether or not you think it is a good or bad thing to do and if so, why?

And I’m seconding her questions.  Don’t feel obligated to answer them here, but do take time to answer them for yourself. Cheers.

(PS do send me your best stuff to read, view, listen to.)

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Social Networking Postcard Project – Week 2

As a real world social networking effort, I’ve asked my contacts to let me reach out to them with postcards.  Several folks have opted to participate this time.  This is the second week and you can read about the 1st here.

This weeks friends asking for postcards:








     Again, it’s too late to get in for this weeks run, but there will be future opportunities. I’ll be sending out a variety of postcards as I get them.  This week’s are all St. Louis postcards.  Each has a different front.

     This set will be going out Monday, April 14th.  The last set took from 2 to 4 days to arrive at their destinations. I confirmed each person’s DM, but if you don’t see your name here, please let me know.

     My expectations? Nothing more than that those receiving the postcards enjoy getting them. My desire? That this is a small step towards building a better relationship with this diverse group of people.  What do I want in return? Hey, if they let me know they received them, that’d be great.  If they want to blog about them, do a video, or heck, send me a postcard back, I won’t say no.

     What are you doing to really connect with your contacts? Meeting them, phoning them, sending them a postcard?

(PS. Please send one back if you want or share the fun and send your own. If you blog about it, consider tagging it “Social Networking Postcard Project”.)

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Candy Store Goodness

Candy Jars     This was taken in the BigTop Candy Store on S. Congress in Austin. Just wanted to share the goodness with you.  Click on the picture to find more shots from the candy store and from our vacation in Austin.


Social Networks?

     Do we need fancy websites, new applications, and cool new gizmos to have social networks? One might think so in this day and age.  High school and college kids have one up on older folks here, the younger folks are painfully aware of their social networks.

     The tools we have today may seem like the end all of social networking, but networking has been a skill since there were more than two humans.  You and I are involved not just in networks enabled by Twitter or Facebook, but more likely, those tools support networks older than either one.

     In fact, the very tools many of us have integrated thoroughly into our lives, have become even less enablers to our networks, but perhaps barriers and resistors to the growth of those networks.  In the past, one simply became part of our networks by working at the same place, living in the same neighborhood, attending the same school, or shopping at the same local market.  Today, many of us don’t consider those very same folks to be part of our social network, even folks we spend 40 hours a week next to.

     Before I continue, I’m guilty of this same thing.  Not intentionally, but by default.  If people at work don’t make themselves more accessible than loaning me a pen, they’re pretty much out.  If my neighbor doesn’t borrow sugar or loan me their lawnmower, we’d hardly know their names.

     Now let’s assume the same neighbor signed up on Twitter, and somehow found out my Twitter ID, would that situation change?  Well it depends.  Is he a technofile? A photographer? Does he ooh and ah over the latest social media tool?  Ultimately, does he enable my life and success in some way.  If not? He’s likely just going to be someone that knows me and never engages with me, or vice versa. Wait, that’s much like our current arrangement.

    Magnify this situation to include the thousands of random people out there that might actually have some similar interests to you or I, but we’ve never met, never chatted, and never heard of them.  To make this more complicated, they are shy, or protective, or socially inept, so they don’t use even a name. Lots won’t have even a blog or some form of reference about themselves.  These are the people that want in our networks.

    These people, neighbors, strangers, spammers, odd followers and more want into our networks.  They follow us on Twitter, Utterz, Facebook and our blogs.  Some will track down our emails, and even rarer I hope, our phone numbers.  The contacts start showing up all over the place, first with comments, then emails, linking us or stealing our content, or even reaching us on the phone.  Some may just knock on our door here and there and follow quietly beside us.  But they all want in.

    My question though, even if we didn’t invite them or encourage them, and we don’t add them back, are they really outside our social network?  I’d contend that they are in our network, want them or no.  Oh, you and I may not engaged them, but they’re still there.  We can ignore them even, but we still notice them.  Our network notices them as well.  Heck, the blogosphere will notice them too.

    What should we do then? I say, other than the spammers and the really odd ones, why not cultivate them to become real contributing members of your inner circle?  They are already part of your life, why not make them a better part of your life.  Speak to them about the type of folks you like to socialize with, the type of people you want to do business with, and the ones you want to create art with.  Don’t give out your home address or anything but help them understand where your heart lives.  Let them know how they can be part of your success in work, play, and creation.  One can never have too much support.

     And the rest, the ones you can’t stomach, block the ones you can, and give little or no press to the rest.  Don’t blow your energy over them.

    Hopefully I’ve given you something to think about, and helped you realize that even folks on the edge of your life are in your networks, sometimes even unintentionally. Why not cultivate them to help move your life along?

     Who are you neglecting on the edges?

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TagCrowd – Not another TweetClouds

\Lost in a cloud\

Sam Lawrence over on GoBigAlways shared the coolest thing in a recent blog post. He tells about TagCrowd. Where TweetClouds creates a cloud of Twitter words, TagCrowd makes a cloud from blog tags.

TagCrowd actually can make a cloud out of random text, and uploaded text file or by scanning a URL for tags.  When done, it produces an HTML snippet with it’s own CSS embedded.  Unlike Tweetclouds though, no permanent link is provided for the cloud.

How could an up and coming blogger turn these cloud tools this their benefit?  They could check out the clouds of successful bloggers and social media gurus.  Folks that are ‘celebrities’ might just be doing or at least saying something right.

A big downside obviously presents its self.  Where someone might check out their own clouds or one of a blogger they admire, the same tool could easily be used to look for other patterns.  Those patterns could reveal a location, marital status, friends or more.  One could easily modify the programs to ignore even more common words than they do today, or enhance them to search for given names or location names.

However they are used, tag clouds give more insight into your own work, and the works of others.  I’m waiting for the next big thing which will be 3-D tag clouds.  Literal clouds.

What’s in your tag cloud?

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