Current Events Humor

My favorite take on “Meta”

My favorite take on Facebook-the-company renaming itself as “Meta” is the comment pictured above, which just happened to be posted to Facebook:

The whole Meta thing has the same energy as that one kid in grade school who spent like two months trying to make everyone call him Optimus Prime or something


Scott “UnMarketing” Stratten: “First Name and Email are Enough” and Other Thoughts on Online Interaction

Last night at a gathering of Toronto digital marketing and social media types held by TheBizMedia – I’m not sure I qualified for an invite, but hey, free beer!Scott Stratten, president of UnMarketing, gave a very entertaining, funny and insightful presentation in which he talked about the lessons he learned as an online marketer.

I shot a five-minute video snippet of his presentation, where he talked about:

  • First name and email address are often enough. When you need users to sign up for things like contests or surveys, do you really need to take up their valuable time by collecting information that you probably don’t need? (I know that at Microsoft, we ask for great gobs of information when you sign up for even the simplest of things. I do try to get them to tone it down.)
  • How to get people to take your surveys. Telling them that “your answers will help us” isn’t going to get them to take your surveys. Scott found that what works for him is offering a chance at a prize – even a $50 Amazon certificate – boosts the number of people who take survey by orders of magnitude.
  • Auto-DM replies on Twitter. Don’t. Just don’t.

You’ll probably want to turn up the volume on the video. Scott was speaking without a microphone, and as good a videocamera as the Flip Mino HD is, I would’ve had to get obnoxiously close to the stage to get better sound.

This article also appears in Canadian Developer Connection.


The “Social Media Revolution 2” Video

It’s Mesh week here in Toronto! Today, the developer-and-creative-focused MeshU conference takes place, followed tomorrow and Wednesday by the social-media-and-marketing focused Mesh conference. I’ll be in the audience at MeshU, and tending the Microsoft lounge (and the cocktail parties) at Mesh. If you’re attending, please say “hi!”

In the spirit of Mesh, I present Social Media Revolution 2, the follow-up to last year’s Social Media Revolution video, produced by the people behind the book Socialnomics (written by Erik Qualman, who blogs here). Whether you’re looking for little facts and statistics for a presentation, need some infotainment to get the week started or both, this video is for you!

(Want to feel old? The music track for the video is Fatboy Slim’s Right Here Right Now, which is from the album You’ve Come a Long Way, Baby, which is 12 years old. Yowch.)

This article also appears in Canadian Developer Connection.


Mesh Conference: Toronto, May 18th – 19th

mesh conference

The 2010 Mesh Conference – the fifth one – takes place at Toronto’s MaRS Collaboration Centre on Tuesday, May 18th and Wednesday, May 19th. Its organizers call it “Canada’s Web Conference”, and it is: it’s this country’s premier get-together for creatives, techies and “suits” to share ideas about the internet and how it affects how we work, live and play.

This Year’s Keynote Speakers

This year’s keynote speakers are:

Chris Thorpe, Developer Advocate for the Open Platform at The Guardian

His background as a research scientist and his early involvement in Open Access publishing, makes him fascinated and passionate about what happens when data, content, platforms, identity and pretty much anything opens up. He spends his time at The Guardian working on the best ways to integrate The Guardian’s content, data and APIs with other people’s technology and businesses as part of the drive towards building the distribution and engagement channels of a mutualized newspaper.

Joseph Menn, author of Fatal System Error: The Hunt for the New Crime Lords Who are Bringing Down the Internet

Fatal System Error: The Hunt for the New Crime Lords Who are Bringing Down the Internet, Menn’s third book, was published in the US in January 2010 and in the UK in February 2010 by PublicAffairs Books. Part true-life thriller and part expose, it became an immediate bestseller, with Menn interviewed on national television and radio programs in the US, Canada and elsewhere. Menn has spoken at major security conferences on his findings, which include hard evidence that the governments of Russia and China are protecting and directing the behavior of some of the world’s worst cyber-criminals.

Scott Thompson, President of PayPal

Scott Thompson is president of PayPal with overall responsibility for establishing PayPal as the leading global online payment service. Scott previously served as PayPal’s senior vice president and chief technology officer, where he oversaw information technology, product development and architecture for PayPal.

Arvind Rajan, Vice President, International at LinkedIn

Arvind Rajan leads the company’s initiatives in markets outside the United States and Europe. Prior to joining LinkedIn, Arvind was the CEO of Grassroots Enterprise. Also a co-founder of the company, Arvind developed pioneering online grassroots communications programs for a wide variety of Fortune 500 companies, trade associations and nonprofit organizations. Arvind began his career with the Boston Consulting Group, and has held a wide range of leadership positions in emerging growth technology companies.

This Year’s Topics

Mesh will have two days’ worth of sessions covering a number of topics, including:

  • Open Government
  • Mobile phones and computing
  • The Pirate’s Dilemma
  • Privacy in the age of Facebook
  • Real-time
  • Social media in the Olympics, in the newsroom, as used by Médecins Sans Frontières and your business

For more, see the schedule.

Who’s Behind Mesh?

Mesh is a great example of the sort of thing that engaged and enthusiastic communities can create. It wasn’t created by a professional conference-organizing company, software vendor or government program, but by these five individuals known through the Toronto tech scene:

  • Mark Evans: Digital marketing and social media consultant, former VP at my old company, b5media, worked with the startups PlanetEye and Blanketware, and former tech journo with the National Post and Globe and Mail.
  • Mathew Ingram: Senior writer with GigaOm, former tech journo with the Globe and Mail and supreme tech blogger-about-town.
  • Mike McDerment: Runs Freshbooks, one of Toronto’s most successful start-ups.
  • Rob Hyndman: If (or more likely, when) I get sued, I’ll haul ass for Rob’s office! Considered by the Toronto tech scene to be its unofficial legal advisor, Rob runs Hyndman | Law, a boutique law firm catering to tech companies.
  • Stuart McDonald: Runs Tripharbor/Tripharbour; in a former life, he brought Expedia to Canada.

And of course, there are the sponsors, which includes Microsoft Canada. I’ll be there, representing The Empire along with my coworkers David Crow, Barnaby Jeans and John Oxley.

Get Your Tickets Now!

There’s not much time left before Mesh, and tickets are going quickly. The student tickets are already gone, but a few regular tickets — CAD$539 each – are still available at the registration page.

This article also appears in Canadian Developer Connection.


Mesh Conference (April 7 – 8) and MeshU (April 6)


The schedule for the 2009 Mesh Conference, “the little Canadian web conference that could”, has been posted. Mesh takes place on April 7th and 8th at the MaRS Collaboration Centre in downtown Toronto and is preceded by MeshU workshop event on April 6th.

Friends of mine who’ll be presenting at MeshU include:

There are a number of presentations by other folks at MeshU – go look at the schedule to see which ones appeal to you.

As for Mesh itself, there will be keynotes over its two days by the following people:

A few people I know will be doing presentations at Mesh:

For more details, see the Mesh schedule.

Registration for Mesh costs CAD$492.50; registration for MeshU costs CAD$289.00.


The Air Force’s Blogging Chart, Version 2

F-35 Lightning II fighter plane
Yes, I know that an F-35 Lightning II fighter plane has nothing at all to do with the article, but I loves me some fighters!

Captain David Faggard, Chief of Emerging Technology for the U.S. Air Force, sent me a revised version of their “rules of engagement” chart for responding to blogs and other online postings, and in PDF form to boot! You can find this chart at the original article, The Air Force’s Rules of Engagement for Blogging.


The Air Force’s Rules of Engagement for Blogging [Updated]

Update, January 5, 2008: Captain David Faggard, Chief of Emerging Technology for the U.S. Air Force, sent me an updated version of their chart, whose changes are based on your comments. The chart appears in this article, and you can click on it to download a full-sized PDF version.

You’ve probably seen many articles on companies and organizations saying that they take social media seriously. Here’s one such organization that you might not expect: the United States Air Force. Take a look at the Air Force Blog Assessment chart, reproduced below:

U.S. Air Force's "Web Posting Response Assessment V.2" chart
Click the diagram to download the PDF version (455K).

The “rules of engagement” are quite good. You might find them to be useful for your own blogs, whether personal or corporate.

WebInkNow recently covered the Air Force’s approach to social media, which is far more involved than many companies who only pay lip service to the idea. They’ve assigned someone the role of “Chief of Emerging Technology”, whose job is to develop strategy, policy and plans for the Air Force’s “communicators” and whose mission is to use or build web applications as a means of engaging Airmen and the general public in conversation. The goal is to make every single Airman a communicator.

The Air Force has quite a presence on the web, which includes:

As with the Blog Assessment chart, you might want to use the Air Force’s social media strategy as a model for your own. Check out WebInkNow’s article for more.