Free Breakfast Seminar in Alexandria, VA on 4/9

Join association thought leader Jeff DeCagna, Chris Hopkinson of DC-area startup DubMeNow and Chris Bucchere of The Social Collective for a free breakfast seminar entitled “Strategies for Association Success in the Era of Social Business” on Thursday, 4/9 in Alexandria, VA.

Registration is limited, but there are few spots left. Sign up now!

There’s No Such Thing as a Free Lunch

Today Robert Scoble wrote a really interesting and thought-provoking article on his blog about the alleged suspension/removal of Joel Comm’s Facebook account. He draws a parallel to the revocation of Robert’s own Facebook account and makes a good case for Facebook being outta line.

Here’s my response to Robert:

In defense of you, Joel and countless others who have been suspended or removed from Facebook, it certainly doesn’t seem like you’re being treated fairly. It’s hard to imagine that someone with 5,000 confirmed Facebook friends and ten times as many followers on Twitter could be considered a spambot. Generally speaking, online communities, wikis, social networks, etc. have a way of policing themselves; content that other people enjoy gets shared and promoted while spam and other “noise” gets blocked or ignored. Facebook and other social sites would all be best-served by this sort of grassroots self-policing, rather than a top-down approach.

However, there’s a subtle point to which some other readers have alluded in the comments. You wrote, “I don’t support companies that ‘erase’ MY data without my permission.” What you may not realize is that based on Facebook’s TOS, what you think are “your data” actually are not “your data,” not by a long shot, not once you’ve posted them on Facebook.

If you think there are safer or better places than Facebook to put “your data” on the internet, you’re also mistaken. Take a peek at Google’s TOS. In particular, read section 11, where you hand over all rights to “your” content to them (except basic copyright, which you automatically have any time you produce an original work and put your name on it). You’re basically giving Google a free license to use your content — even for their own commercial gain!

Everyone knows that there’s no such thing as a free lunch. In return for providing “free” distribution of “your” content, companies like Facebook, Google and the likes are creating massive databases of incredibly valuable “information capital.” This in turn allows them to offer you a “free” service while they sell this information capital — the stuff you gave them, remember? — to advertisers. That pays their bills, which in turn allows them to continue to give you “free” content distribution.

Average people (who upload videos of dogs on skateboards, etc. to Facebook) don’t care about data ownership and are perfectly happy to hand the rights to their content over to Facebook or Google it order to share it more easily with their friends. Average people — however — aren’t one man media outlets, either, but YOU are. So, being an internet/social media mogul, I’m sure you understand that content distribution isn’t free.

The solution? Host your content yourself! People like you and Joel have the resources to pay for your own hosting AND you have loyal audiences that will follow you wherever you go. You can leverage social media to help the viral spread of your content, but the obvious goal of your participation in social media and social networking should be to drive eyeballs/click-throughs back to YOUR site so people can view YOUR content, ensuring that YOUR advertisers get bang for their buck.

It really all boils down to two old sayings: there’s no such thing as a free lunch and you get what you pay for. Want to pay for your own hosting and distribution? Then you can own your own content. Want to get free distribution from Facebook or Google? Then be prepared to give them something in return.

How to Convince Your Company to Pay for a SXSWi Pass

sxsw2009Times are tough, right? Everyone is slashing spending, especially around travel and conference budgets. But you need (read: want) to be at SXSWi. So it’s time to convince your boss that your attendance at SXSWi is something that the business needs to be successful.

Fortunately, if your company does or wants to do anything with the interwebs (and seriously, who doesn’t these days?), this is easier than you thought. Just follow these five easy steps.

1. Look at the SXSWi speaker/panel lineup and pick ten panels that are relevant to your line of work. I’m a web 2.0 developer with more than a passing interest in social media, so this is easy. But the panels run the gamut of topics, so you should be able to find something that works for your business/industry. Here’s an example: Building Personal and Company Brands with Web 2.0 Tools. Every company wants a stronger brand, right?

2. Copy the titles and abstracts into an e-mail to your boss and elaborate on how you’ll benefit from them. More importantly, give specific reasons why what you learn will help you and your team, peers, etc. achieve 2009’s business goals. To continue with our example, my company needs to grow our social media cred. The panel consists of Saul Colt, C.C. Chapman and Gary Vaynerchuk. According to their bios (on their web sites), Saul is “an accomplished marketing professional, with more than a decade of diverse high-level experience and a respected publisher” and C.C.’s company, The Advance Guard, “focuses on helping brands of all sizes smartly and strategically leverage emerging technologies for radical marketing programs.” Gary doesn’t really require an explanation, but if your boss has been living in a cave, then you might want to drop a few adjectives like “inspirational” and “passionate.” Example: This panel will help me form an action plan on how to grow my company’s social media cred, following the examples set by these three extraordinary social media mavens.

3. Outline the maximum line item costs for the event. The pass, the travel, the hotel and the food. If you really want to go, make your food budget less than $50/day, your hotel budget less than $100/day and cover the rest (if necessary) with your own cash. Don’t provide a total, as it might overwhelm your boss at first brush. Besides, I’m sure he or she can add.

4. Plan a post-conference re-cap meeting. This is crucial! Set a date and make a list of team members who you will invite, including your boss. During this meeting, promise to share the highlights of what you learned at SXSWi and what you recommend that the business do differently. Explain how these revolutionary ideas will boldly move the company forward in ways they never could have imagined.

5. Split the difference. Remind your boss that the conference takes place Friday-Tuesday (March 13th to 17th). If you travel after work on Thursday or on Friday morning and return to work the following Wednesday, you’re only missing three days of work AND you’re donating your time to the company you love so much over the weekend.

There you have it, your “free” pass to SXSWi. Well, it’s not exactly free. You have to deliver on all the promises you’re making to your boss, especially if you want to go next year! Now if only it was this easy to justify the music festival. . . .

(Thanks to allisonb00, the inspiration for many things in my life, including this blog post.)

Twitter down again?

twitter-down-againWith the amount of downtime that twitter experiences, it makes me wonder whether or not Ruby on Rails is a viable alternative to PHP, Java, etc.

Is it the platform (RoR) or is it just bad code from Twitter? Or something else entirely?

Enterprise Relevance of Web 2.0 (in six parts)

Back in November of 2007 I gave a one-hour talk in Tyson’s Corner, VA entitled “The Enterprise Relevance of Web 2.0.” There were probably about thirty people in attendance. Since then, I’ve had several people tell me that they were sorry they missed the talk, etc. If you were one of those people, these next six posts are for you.

Why I am delivering this content in a six-part series?

I don’t have a video streaming server set up nor do I care to put one up and pay for the bandwidth. So, YouTube is an obvious solution to the hosting and bandwidth problem. Unfortunately, YouTube has a ten-minute limit on the length of uploaded videos. So, I needed to edit my talk into six, ten-minute clips.

Therein lies the problem.

What I’m learning in the process is that HD video editing is hard, even on a Mac. The first problem is space: I’ve got about five gigs of raw footage. My conversion program, Voltaic, was choking near the end of each 2 Gb conversion, so I switched to a PC (for shame!) and used the software that came with the camera (a Sony HDR-SR5) to convert from MTS (raw AVCHD format) to MPEG-2. Then I needed to buy a program from Apple for $19.99 (thanks for nickel-n-dime’n me, Steve) to convert from MPEG-2 to MOV (QuickTime format). Now I’m importing into iMovieHD. Each one of these conversions takes about two hours and has an output between 2x and 12x the size of the original MTS file! That means, just to be safe, you need like 15Gb of scratch space to edit a 1Gb movie! On top of the space issue, I’ve hit Google already dozens of times to figure out how to deal with things like frame rates, aspect ratios, sound compression, format conversion, and so on, ad infinitum.

And this is supposed to be easy! I’m on a Mac for goodness’s sake!

So, why am I ranting about my video editing woes in a post that’s purportedly about the enterprise relevance of Web 2.0? Because I think there’s a lesson to be learned from all this.

If personal computing is this challenging, that does not bode well for the enterprise, where everything is 10-100 times more expensive and 10-100 times more complicated.

Is this a good thing? For me and my company, maybe, because we’re making a living trying to make sense of the complexities of the enterprise and building user interfaces that help abstract people away from all the complexity so that they can do their jobs effectively.

But to truly bring Web 2.0 to the enterprise, we need to take these concepts — abstracting, simplifying, beautifying and “social-ifying” — enterprise applications down to the point at which they’re simple, beautiful and fun to use, all the while maintaining their power and utility. The experience people have using corporate software should mirror the experience they have using well designed, functional sites like Netflix, Facebook, Wishlistr, Dopplr and Kayak.

Most people writing corporate/enterprise software these days — with a few notable exceptions like 37 Signals (the makers of Campfire, Basecamp and Highrise) — are stuck in a function-over-form rut that’s really hindering the process of bringing Web 2.0 to the enterprise. Those of you who have had the pleasure of using AquaLogic Pages know that it doesn’t have to be this way.

Software can be both fun and functional at the same time.

So that’s an awfully long-winded and angst-ridden introduction to my six-part series on bringing Web 2.0 to the enterprise. If any of the above struck a chord with you and resonated even a little bit, then I highly recommend that you check out the forthcoming videos.

That is, assuming that I actually succeed in producing them!

While you’re waiting for the videos, you can check out the slide deck.

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Comments

Comments are listed in date ascending order (oldest first)

  • Chris, enjoyed your post. I’ve got a little one on the way so I imagine I’ll have to understand all of the video nuances of encodings/converstions soon for youtubing for the grandparents. It doesn’t look like it’s going to be as easy as I thought! James

    Posted by: jbayer on January 23, 2008 at 7:44 AM

meebo launches games!

meebo_games.PNGmeebo, the multi-band, web-based instant messaging site, just rolled out a host of games that you can play with your IM buddies on any network: AOL, Yahoo!, MSN, GTalk or ICQ.

Their platform is open too, so, following in the footsteps of companies like Facebook, I expect to see developers flocking to the site to build applications targeting their million+ unique user per day audience.

meebo launched a handful of communication apps (including voice and video chat) a few weeks back when they first opened their API.

Of course feedhaus is also jumping on the embedded widget bandwagon, having released our widget for Facebook over a month ago. We’re planning a meebo widget launch one week from today and and an Open Social launch in Q1 of 2008.

Update: Michael Arrington just added his take on the meebo games launch over on Tech Crunch.

Apple’s Subtle F.U. to Microsoft

pc_blue_screen_of_deathWe’ve come a long way since 1997, when Microsoft invested $150M in the beleaguered Apple, perhaps so that there would still be a platform on which to run Microsoft’s Office for the Mac.

Fast-forward ten years to 2007 — starting with the eye candy iMacs and then iPods in every shape, size and color, and now with the iPhone, Apple has risen from the ashes in perhaps what is the greatest corporate comeback of all time.

Now, with the release of OS X 10.5 (Leopard) last week, Apple has delivered a fine — albeit subtle — slap in the face to Microsoft. The icon for a PC server shows the PC displaying the infamous blue screen of death. As if the “I’m Mac/I’m PC” ads weren’t enough. . . .

Oracle and BEA: Wait, Not So Fast

BEA thinks they’re worth more than the $6.7B offered by Oracle. I guess the ball is back in Oracle’s court, now. This could get interesting.

Comments

Comments are listed in date ascending order (oldest first)

  • Is this really an important posting? I fail to see the value in cluttering the blog with this.

    Posted by: ddrucker on October 13, 2007 at 10:27 PM

  • Well, since it’s my blog, I get to decide what’s important enough to post and what’s not. But as a reader, you get to decide what you read and what you don’t.

    Posted by: bucchere on October 14, 2007 at 7:57 AM

  • Nice response Chris. I always enjoy reading your blog entries. Keep on blogging. We are heavily invested in BEA products and are following the Oracle bid closely. Ryan from Chase Paymentech.

    Posted by: ryanyoder on October 16, 2007 at 1:58 PM

  • Thanks for your support, Ryan. There are times when a 2000-word technical manifesto is appropriate and other times where a link and three sentences says it all. I guess that’s the beauty of blogging.

    Posted by: bucchere on October 18, 2007 at 2:10 PM

Why we need “Enterprise Facebook”

Andrew McAfee, an associate professor at Harvard Business School and an outspoken advocate of Enterprise 2.0, wrote this great blog post about why there’s real value in “Enterprise Facebook.” Now the question is, simply put, who’s going to build Facebook-like software with all the auditing, security, performance and stability demanded by the enterprise?