Social Media Club Drinkup

The venerable British Banker’s Club in Menlo Park was the venue for the Social Media Club’s drinkup in Silicon Valley this evening. A number of San Franciscans showed up, refugees from the fog belt. Plaid generously sponsored a few rounds for the crowd. They’re a design shop in Danbury, Connecticut that has the balls to stage a west coast road trip to win hearts and minds. They packed their plaid van with swag and left Vancouver, BC about a week ago. They’re headed down the coast to San Diego before hightailing it to Vegas. They’re fools if they don’t stop in Palm Springs. Really.

I applaud their spirit of adventure. After all, it won’t be long before we’re all driving electrics with 150 mile range. The road trip as we know it is destined to become a nostalgic thought.

If your summer’s looking like one big staycation, then check out Plaid’s video feed from the van. I’m sure the Danburians will be digging it.


The Conversational Media Landscape

parc.jpg  I’m speaking at Xerox PARC’s Intelligent Systems Laboratory next week about socially rich media. I’m focusing my presentation on former client BlogTalkRadio and my current Conversation Group client Utterz. I’m very excited about this since it was an encounter with a Xerox Alto at Stanford in 1979 that redirected my career from analog to digital communications. I plan to record the presentation and share it on BlogTalkRadio. I’ll even create a few multimedia blog posts with Utterz before, during and after the event. Here’s my abstract: 

2007 was a watershed year for media consumption in the United States. Americans spent as much time online as they did watching TV and the trendlines are clear. The Internet will displace TV as America’s favorite media pastime in 2008. The implications for this trend for media creators, advertisers, marketers, and consumers are profound.

The democratization of media access and content creation tools has been accompanied by the rise of the “new influencers.” These are not the well coiffed heads seen on TV. Rather, they are ordinary people that have discovered that the new tools engender dialog not monolog, narrowcast not broadcast, free not expensive. 

We’ll take a look at two platforms build on similar telephony/website technology stacks but with very different positions. BlogTalkRadio has chosen to appropriate an old media metaphor that everyone understands, i.e., talk radio. Utterz has similar technology roots but has embarked on inventing a new media format that enables mobile multimedia blog posts and multimedia threaded conversations. They are in the vanguard of accessible media creation tools that will change the shape of our media landscape.  







The new new year


The year is new of course, but the new, new thing for me is the next step in my career. I’ve joined The Conversation Group. It’s a new agency in San Francisco with the people, relationships and tools to make a difference for major brands as they try to engage people online.

The rise of the digital lifestyle has bubbled up a new crop of influencers who don’t watch tv, read newspapers, or listen to the radio. They hang out online. The Conversation Group helps brands understand, listen to and communicate with consumers in new media venues. I could not be more pleased to be working with such a smart group of folks.

I enjoy the earliest stages of new ventures. It’s a clean sheet of paper unhindered by legacy and powered by new ideas. The big idea here is that old media’s share of attention has been on the decline for years. Last year was the first time that Americans spent as much time online as they spent watching tv. You don’t need a math degree to extrapolate the trendlines between old media and new media. It’s one of those immutable trends.

Social Hacks


Ok, I agree with Loren Feldman about Seesmic. I followed a link from Twitter to some guy’s rant about social hacks. The title was irresistible. It drove me to register on Seesmic with the key I got from Rafe. What I found was an articulate rant, but I couldn’t leave a text comment! Damn. Let me leave a text comment please! I don’t want to brush my teeth, comb my hair, or fire up the lights. I just want to comment. The need to comment on Eric’s vid is why I wrote this post.

Eric Rice caught my attention because he used two of my favorite words in sequence, social and hack. Eric suggests that profiles can be set up that are not real people. As if this does not go on right now? Come on. Still, he had an important vidpost:

There are two threads of thought I’d like to share. One is humanity’s penchant for fantasy and the other is a reminder that the Turing Test hasn’t been passed by silicon…yet.

Marc Canter advocates that social networks allow multiple personas. The profile you show from 9 to 5 may be different than the one you show from midnight to 3. The details have yet to be worked out, but Marc’s idea conforms well with human nature. We present ourselves situationally in real life. Static profiles aren’t flexible enough.

Alan Turing’s test has not been passed by any bit of code that I know about yet. Bots in chat rooms are easily spotted and fake profiles are easily discovered. If you’re spending so much time online that you can’t distinguish people from proxies, it’s time to jack out and take a vacation.

Retrevo on BlogTalkRadio


I’m talking with Retrevo on Monday, 9am pst on Digital Society, my blogtalkradio show. Retrevo is an example of what some call Web 3.0 or the Semantic Web. It’s the notion that data is smart enough about itself (the promise of XML and/or AI) to make meaningful associations that are far better than today’s algorithmically driven approach. Sir Tim, OM KBE FRS FREng FRSA and the men behind the curtain of the WWW have been talking about this for some time.


Next Tuesday’s Stanford VLAB event focuses on the Semantic Web with a great panel moderated by Paul Saffo. I’m looking forward to the event, but I seriously doubt the beta badge on their logo. That seems overly optimistic. What ever happened to Alpha?

Who’s on Facebook?

On a lark, I decided to compare the facebook membership numbers of my daughter’s silicon valley high school with my blue collar east coast high school. Surely, the alums of the silicon valley school would be hipper than the blue collar offspring of the steel mills.


Pennsbury High School is roughly twice the size of Carlmont High School, but notice how closely they’re correlated. Different socio-economic regions, yet the pattern mirrors itself. The surprise to me was how quickly the number of members falls off. I wonder why. Any ideas out there?