Transparency in design decisions

What strikes me about this video is not that the default position for tabs in Firefox 4 will be at the top of the browser (a decision I like a lot, by the way; I'll start using the toolbars I like more often, since the tabs won't get lost in the toolbars). Instead, what strikes me is that Mozilla is not only open about how they came to the decision (and how to change the default setting), they go very in-depth into the decision-making process.

That's awesome.

Convention and relationships

I come back to Chris Brogan's piece about conventions frequently. Brogan's punchline is:

New marketing is more like: find people who make more sense. Start relationships with them before selling them. Learn more about them. Make the offer if it makes sense.

This isn't anything new. If you've touched your toe in on social media blogging, you've said this. I've you've ever advised people on using a social media tool, you've said this.

But are you doing it? Whether your social marketing is mediated or not – that is, whether you're looking for the sale in a face-to-face or an online environment – are you closing the sale before you've learned enough about the person to discover that you sell pipes but they need doors?

Sure, you do pipes, but if you knew someone who did doors, you could be selling their products to this new customer instead. And if you help the customer out when she needs doors, she'll remember you when she needs pipes.

True story.

On motivation


Take the 11 minutes to watch this video. It comes to me from Dan Lovell via Anna Tarkov.

Motivation's a funny thing. I've been blogging on and off for almost 10 years now, and have seen very little money for it. You know why that's OK with me? Because it's fun and challenging. I can write about whatever I want, whenever I want, and on it's helped me meet and connect with some really smart people. That video above explains it all.

Happy Memorial Day

I'm honoring the sacrifice of our soldiers the good old-fashioned way today: something dead warmed by charcoal fire, a steamer pot full of something in a shell, and good friends on the back yard deck.

I'm also going to re-hash something I post frequently: American flag etiquette. We see it broken all the time, even by people who honestly do love our country. They hang flags off their houses all day every day – you're supposed to have a special light to fly it at night, and an exemption to fly it in the rain. We see athletes with flags on their uniforms frequently. That's also a no-no.

Here's something I wrote last year for syracuse.com.

Putting roller derby in the context of life

I wrote an entry a few days ago on the Assault City vs Roc City roller derby bout on May 15. It elicited such a warm response from Crazy Diamond, who handles Assault City's PR, that I asked if I could post it here. These are her words, unedited. —JS

I work in a nearly all-male environment and it's great to be involved with something that is for women, by women and about women. Sometimes I am in awe when I think about our team and what we have managed to do both on and off the track in a little more than two years. We all use our particular skills to benefit the team. I'm in marketing for my day job, so I do PR and media. Our treasurer is a bookkeeper by day. Everyone brings something to the table. Male involvement is limited to support roles, such as refs and non skating officials. This is not be construed at all that we are man-haters or anything like that. The dynamic when it's just women is simply different. Our husbands, boyfriends, whomever - who we refer to as our "widows," are our biggest fans. We cannot do what we do without their support because derby is such a big time commitment. And our widows all get an unofficial derby name too!

Through derby, I'm meeting women I wouldn't otherwise in my daily life. We're a pretty eclectic bunch, but we all count each other as derby sisters. And despite what often happens when you get a bunch of women (especially strong, driven women) together, we don't have a lot of drama. The environment is very supportive and I feel like I have a whole network of people I could rely on if I was in a bad way somehow. People on the team have found each other jobs, attended each other's weddings, thrown baby showers, whatever. We've helped each other through divorces, moves, all kinds of stuff. The support is on and off the track. It extends to other teams as well. If a derby girl visits from out of town, we get an email or call asking if she can attend a practice. High-powered teams hold clinics to assist newer skaters in their development. People send money or gifts when a player is injured.

And thank you for bringing up the role of women in sports and all the shit, as you put it, that's out there. There are a handful of men's derby leagues, but it's almost exclusively a women's sport. There aren't many you can say this about. No worries about the men getting top billing. People seem more fascinated by women playing derby than men. However, many people don't take it seriously as a sport or mistakenly assume it's fake, and the derby of yesterday perpetuates this myth. You've been there - you've seen how physical and athletic it is and you know it's not fake. We train really hard and I would challenge any nay-sayer to get through a practice with us. I consider myself an athlete and want to be regarded as such. Yet I've done press and been told ON THE RADIO that my derby name sounds like a stripper name and I feel that mentality marginalizes us as athletes. (The derby name provides anonymity to otherwise normal people; I would be inhibited if my real name was in programs and on the websites and airwaves. There are fans with screws loose out there.) Yes, we wear fishnets and cute outfits; that's just derby style. But you can be strong and sexy at the same time; be an athlete and feminine; look hot while kicking some ass. If you don't care about looking hot, then just go kick some ass and that's totally fine and really more important at the end of the day anyway.

We are evolving into a force that rivals most other local semi-pro sports teams, in my opinion, in terms of our reach, organziation, and economic impact. We rent facilities, have partners/sponsors, sell team merchandise, spend money locally to promote and put on our events, etc. And we do this for fun, not for money or as jobs. All funds go back to the team for development or to charity. Being able to help the community in which we live through our charitable works is just the icing on the cake of all of this. Our next bout benefits the Galisano Children's Hospital.

Sorry to drone on... Obviously, I have strong feelings for this sport and I work tirelessly to promote it and my team. I'm just glad to see someone pick up on the things that are the best and most unique elements of derby, rather than just another simplistic piece about being a housewife by day and derby girl by night, as though we all live some kind of Clark Kent/Superman existence.

Sorting out 140conf


Yep, that's my to-do list. Thanks, Jeff Pulver.

My Twitter friends are aware of this, but I spent a couple of days this past week in New York City for the 140 Character Conference (140conf). I didn't tweet much from the conference – only those things that really inspired me – instead, I took good old-fashioned notes on good old-fashioned paper. [Full Twitter coverage is here.] That photo above is me organizing my notes before jumping on the train back up to Syracuse. The piece of paper with all the scribbling? That's my to-do list.

Here's the deal with 140conf. It happens in four or five cities each year (well, this is the second year). It's the concept of Jeff Pulver, who is more or less responsible for making Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) technology widespread (if you're reading this, you're aware of VOIP, even if you've never heard of it – it's what Vonage uses, and if you're using Time Warner Cable or another cable service for your telephone, you're using VOIP).

Unlike academic or industry conferences where you have either a person who speaks for 45 minutes or a panel that runs for an hour, this is bang-bang stuff. Most individuals had 10 minutes; a few had 15. Panels lasted 20 minutes. In all, there were about 150 people speaking in two days. The audience already understands the tools and understands why you'd use them; there's no need to do that part of it.

There will be much blogging about the current and future of things in the coming weeks, but I wanted to get started by mentioning some of the people I met and some of the things I have on my list to check out. Supposedly videos of all the presentations are over here, but I'm having trouble loading them. Hopefully I'll be able to get them up on the screen as I go to blog them.

Anyhow, I met Evan Blackford, who is a super-nice and creative guy. We had a mediocre Middle Eastern lunch (Effy's does a nice coffee, though – definitely went back the second morning). I met Cecily Kellogg of Uppercase Woman, who seems to be a lot of fun in addition to being insightful. I'll be checking out and reviewing her blog.

I met David Hendricks and Eric Oldfield of an emerging advertising system called LiveIntent, as well as Andy Oterson, co-founder of eatbytweet, something I will definitely be looking at in the coming week.

I also met Melinda Emerson, a small business coach who runs a weekly Twitter chat – some of you will know her as @SmallBizLady.

I had lunch with a bunch of Gen Y rockstars, including, among others, David Spinks of Scribnia and #u30pro, Sarah Cooley of Postling, and musician Peter Marinari.

I also got to spend some time with old friends in the city, including one who recently started a new production house called Omega Darling.

Coming up on the blog will most definitely be items about Epic Change, Twitter and education, comments, news and more. I also owe Jeffrey Hayzlett (Chief Marketing Officer at Kodak) a donation to the American Heart Association in exchange for the copy of The Mirror Test.

Eating your words: NutellaFest 2010 raises money for St. Baldrick’s

It started off innocently enough.

He of course meant the Italian hazelnut spread Nutella, but you get the picture. Thing is, Matt said that while drinking Nutella hot chocolate, a pretty mild combination.

Frank called him on it.

Well, we'll see.

So Frank offered to put up $10 for the Josh's Beard project (fighting childhood cancer) if Matt ate meatballs (plural) with Nutella on them.

Matt was thinking sure, we'll have spaghetti and meatballs and I'll put some Nutella on a couple. But then Todd upped the ante.

Tracy, Amanda and Dan also jumped on board for donations.

Here are Tracy's posts:

» The preview
» The proof

And here's the video:

Moving your offline community online

Do you have a passionate engaged community? Maybe you meet in person once a month, have incredible get-togethers with powerful energy surrounding something you're all very interested in.

How do you know when it's time to move such a community online? For many organizations, the time comes when one or more of the following is true:

  • Your members need online tools to communicate more easily and more frequently than they meet in person
  • You're ready to reach out and expand your community
  • You want to connect to other communities in other geographic locations
  • Your members want an outlet to do something more

Once you have the online tools in place – blogs, Twitter, Facebook – you can't just sit and hope people will use it.

Blogs

Let's say you have five people with varying passions. Ask them to each write once a week – and assign a day. Teach them the software, and explain to them how to schedule an entry so that they could churn out two, three or more at a time.

Have them check and respond to their comments regularly, and have them comment on each other's entries. My new favorite phrase, courtesy of Chris Brogan and Julien Smith, is "yes and." If they don't know what to say about each others' posts, have them start with, "yes, and then..." That's how ideas grow, and next time they see each other (because you're maintaining the community offline as well), if they forget what they were talking about, there's a record of it.

Twitter

Follow a few people here and there, in your field. Tweet about what you do, but don't go overboard. Connect with people, but only after you've been reading them long enough to understand what they tweet about and how you can help them. Retweet at will, but only those tweets that are in line with your organization's focus.

For every reference you make to your own website, make at least three to other people's or organizations' websites.

Keep your following to followers ratio low. Try not to let it get to more than 3:2 until you get 150 followers, and once you hit that level, work toward having more followers than people you're following. You'll still benefit from others' wisdom, but your organization appears more professional.

Facebook

Don't hit your Facebook page more than once or twice a day -- probably no more than seven or eight times a week. Monitor comments, respond to them, and pay attention to what your fans are saying.

Twitterductions

If memory serves, the following people were at Thursday night's Syracuse tweetup. If I missed you (and I likely will miss someone), @ me and I'll get you on the list post-haste. If you're on MySpace, friend our hosts, Recess Coffee.

@beaslee (Nicole)
@billpfohl (Bill)
@bradfordmorse (Bradford)
@bradintheam (Brad)
@burrito19 (Beth)
@dagsly (Frank)
@Gaelen2 (Pat)
@itsahero (Rachel)
@JayClewis (Jay)
@Jill_HW (Jill, with Tom)
@JoshShear (Josh)
@kelvinringold (Kelvin)
@kitschqueen (Susan, with Jason)
@Mitch_M (Mitch)
@paddyshaughn (Patrick)
@philatsun (Phil)
@samskelton (Sam)
@tdog4494 (Tim)
@toddengel (Todd)
@tracytilly (Tracy)

Redesigning newspapers


Take five minutes to watch this presentation. Thanks to Susan Hall (Twitter) for passing it along.

First let me say that that newspaper is gorgeous. Decorate-your-wall gorgeous. And if you transfer those infographics to the web, they'd kill on digg. And yes, I'd probably buy it with some sort of consistency, because I like pretty things.

I wrote about 2,000 words about why I think this wouldn't work in the U.S., focusing on the fact that people who read newspapers like to read stories and people who write newspaper stories like having a place to show off their writing and more and more, the stories in this paper are being told with photos and graphics.

But I realized as I was writing, it's fairly obvious that readers don't enjoy reading quite as much as writers enjoy writing. So the fact that there might be no more than 200 words on a front page or 500 words in any interior spread isn't a problem for me.

I do, however, think it has a magazine-like quality that makes it less attractive as a daily news source and more appealing as something to look at slowly throughout the day or week. It makes me want to admire the artwork, not find out what's going on at school board meetings – I think I'd be distracted from the news.

But then, maybe that's just me. I like news, and I like the written word. Perhaps people would get more out of bigger graphics and shorter stories, though – USA Today has done very well on that model, and it's not a paper I pick up at all, which means I likely wouldn't be the target audience for something like this.

What do you think?