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Showing posts from 2009

Putting the 'Social' Back in Social Media

I've seen a lot of information recently in social media spaces and RSS feeds I follow that portends a bit of a change in the way people approach social media, and the inevitable 'information overload' we've all heard so much about. A lot of people compare today's information environment to a stream, and I think that's a very apt analogy. There are two primary ways that people seem to be reacting to this glut of information: more filtering or scaling back who they attempt to have 'relationships' with online.

I honestly believe the answer to this dilemma is to incorporate both approaches. In a nutshell, the way I've always approached 'social media' is to remember first and foremost, it's about people and relationships, not about how high you can drive your Twitter, LinkedIn, FriendFeed, or Facebook follower count. It's also important to utilize tools to help you filter out the most important pieces of information.

One of the most imp…

Community Management is a Career, Not a Job

'Community Management' is a hot topic, & a hot job field, but I think it's important to articulate that it's not a role which should be approached as a 'job'. What do I mean by that? Community Management should NOT be:


A role you 'settle' for because you can't do other things
Something you do as an ancillary part of your 'real job'
Something you get into 'because it's hot right now'
A position that you can perform in isolation, without constant upgrading of your skills/knowledge


I've talked in the past about what kinds of skill sets I believe are necessary to be an effective community manager, and as I thought about my own career path, I realized that early on in my community management career, I considered myself an engineer doing community management, whereas I now think of myself as a community manager with an engineering background. It is a subtle, yet hugely important difference - one that allows me to draw on a breadt…

The Red Herring of Open Source Licensing

There has been a lot of drum beating of late on the topic of the increasing irrelevance of Open Source licensing, & the loudest drummers seem to be Tim O'Reilly & Matt Asay. Matt's recent blog post touches on some great points in this discussion, not the least of which is:

"The real value in open-source software is no longer the software, but rather the resultant services that are delivered over the Web"

This is spot on, and we (the industry) need to move beyond the 'licensing hiccup' that seems to permeate every conversation we have around Open Source (especially in government & enterprise). While I'll preface my statements with the standard disclaimer of 'IANAL', for 'community source', or 'innersourcing' discussions, I think that everyone gets way too wound around the axle on what the license is, and the relative merits of each possible alternative.

I completely agree with Matt's point about the licenses being irr…

Memorial Day Musings

Like many Americans, I tried to keep today, Memorial Day 2009, focused on those who have served (and continue to serve) in our armed forces. Whatever your political leanings, I think we can all agree that we owe a huge debt of gratitude to those brave men and women to put their lives (and their family's livelihoods) on the line everyday.

So, what does this have to do with technology, Open Source, and social media? Given that I'm helping create a new initiative (Forge.mil) to enable those building technology for our troops do so in a more efficient manner, I think there is a strong connection. It should go without saying that our armed forces deserve the absolute best technology to help accomplish their mission and keep them safe.

I'm heartened by the fact that technologies and methodologies that we in the consumer space take for granted are now starting to be accepted in the Department of Defense as the most expedient way to help build out the tech that our warfighters …

The Day The Phones Went Down in Cali...

There is nothing quite like the sound of a very insistent police officer knocking on your door/ringing your doorbell at 5 am on a Thursday. No, for those of you wondering, they weren't there to serve a warrant or arrest me. :) As it turns out, we had a MAJOR outage of communications service in the South County area of the California Bay Area. Specifically, the towns of Morgan Hill (where I live), Gilroy, and part of South San Jose were all completely isolated from a communications perspective. No E911 services, no long distance (calls within the local telephone central office would go through sporadically), and no cell phones. Basically, back to the 'good old days' (or at least the simpler times). The friendly police officer was at my door to fetch me as one of the leaders of our volunteer emergency response team since there was literally no other way to activate our team. I serve on both the Amateur Radio Emergency Services team (ARES) and the Community Emergency Re…

Don't Ignore The 'Back-Channel'

The concept of a 'back-channel' during presentations, meetings, classes and similar events has been around for a while (the analog version was called 'passing notes', and who knows, maybe even the cavemen did that during boring recitations on hunting/gathering strategy :)).

The modern equivalents started with email, but now even that quaint old service is derided as 'too slow' in the world of instant messaging, and more recently, Twitter. There are two types of back-channel - private (usually in instant messaging), and public (Twitter). I know very few people who don't utilize the former during long conference calls (especially if they are with clients, and you need to address something that came up during the call privately with a colleague). This can be a huge advantage if someone can go off and get an answer/research an issue while the call continues. I can easily see a role for junior-level associates to perform this function, as I think it makes goo…

It's Not About The Tech...

Lance Armstrong, one of the people I admire most in this world, wrote a book called It's Not About The Bike. It is a good read, and I enjoyed the main point he made in it - namely, his life and his fight against cancer are about so much more than how fast he can ride his bike, or how much he enjoys the 'tech' of cycling (or tech in general - check out his Twitter Feed).

I was thinking of Lance and that book when I read Fred Wilson's latest blog post, entitled It's About People, Not Technology. He makes his point by pointing out Twitter, and how it has grown to be more than the sum of its technology - I'm an avid user, and I would tend to agree its importance in the social media landscape is directly derived from the users of the tool that post interesting things. The definition of 'interesting' is different for everyone, but the fact that people are forming ad-hoc 'communities' by who they follow, and their use of Twitter 'hash tags', …