June 18, 2007
Web Innovator's Group in Boston
Address: address is 40 Edwin Land Boulevard, Cambridge, MA, 02141, starting at 6:30 pm. The group is designed around Web 2.0 and mobile innovation in the greater Boston area. Entrepreneurs will present new services to their peers, and then there's obviously time to connect, network, etc.
May 05, 2007
Web 2.0 Echochamber: Another Reality
Everytime I'm in a room (and this is often) where the presenter asks the audience 'who's using what?' I'm always amazed by the number of hands that go up. Welcome to my world - the world of early adopters.
I am particularly amused by the show of hands who are Twitter, FaceBook, flickr and MySpace users. While there seems to be a generation shift recently with FaceBook, I wonder how long lived it is and how the user base breaks down geographically.
A few reality checks about things I'm told over and over again in the Silicon Valley echochamber:
Last year, I went to a flickr party and was the oldest person in the room. I attended the event with a 27 year old girlfriend who is a lawyer in the Valley. She dragged along three lawyer friends from LA, all roughly her age and none of them had even heard of flickr.
"Everyone is using Twitter," I'm told. I don't get it and won't. It's not that I'm not open to trying something new - it doesn't solve a problem for me that is need of fixing, nor does it improve my life. Nor do I even think its cool. As for useful? Perhaps at a three or four day conference in a foreign city for all of those three or four days.
The desktop is dead. Hmmmm. I'm not a very early adopter like my industry buds Robert Scoble or Howard Morgan, but I'm most definitely an early adopter. As a small business, I live on the desktop with the exception of search, some online purchases and my blog. Where does email reside? In Outlook, not gmail.
It doesn't mean that I don't have a gmail or yahoo account. I have so many email accounts, I can't even count them all. I actually use 70% of them, but where I am most productive is in a desktop email app where my favorites, files and preferences are stored. Here, turnaround is fast. Email on a web browser doesn't give me speed. I'd love to race anyone who says the web is more efficient or productive.
I'm also told that I 'must' join FaceBook. Why MUST I join FaceBook? How will it make my life more productive or fill a need that is (and this is key) NOT already being met? If I respond with: I'm not really their target audience, people will try to convince me I'm wrong.
Inside this broad early adopter echochamber, its hard to argue with a) not everyone in the world is convinced I need this and b) I really may just not be the target audience. Here's a new reality check for you.
I decided to do a few searches for a handful of remembered friends from high school and college across several countries through Google. Zero. Nothing. "Not possible," I found myself saying as I sat on the couch at 3 in the morning, plugging more and more names into the system.
Then, I moved to Wikipedia. I didn't expect the latter to pull up anyone -- possibly one or two if someone had authored a book or spoke on a national circuit, but I was surprised to come up empty handed.
So, I decided to try a little exercise. I pulled out two high school yearbooks and plugged in close to 400 names. In this search, I used their name + my home town as well as their name alone, using a married name as well if I knew it.
Obviously for women who married and didn't keep their maiden name, I potentially lost 40% of my sample size. Yet not all of them married or took their husband's name. None of my family members were found anywhere on the net except for a cousin who owns a mechanic shop in a small New England town. I tried twenty childhood, high school and college girlfriends using their maiden and married names - nothing. Welcome to another world. Another reality.
After going through the yearbooks from two states (Florida -- pop: 100,000 and upstate New York -- pop: 15-20,000), I came up with the following results:
--a one liner for someone who was a local firefighter, still in same county
--a two liner on someone picked up for drunk driving
--a two liner for someone who was sentenced to six months in a local jail and a fine
--an old friend, who I still keep in touch with, who is now editor of the local newspaper (yeah, they still read them there)
--a one line listing of someone who is now a sales manager at a radio station within 30 miles (I think -- no photo attached)
--LinkedIn - ONE, and he just joined. Also an old friend, who is a financial advisor in Vermont
--One family blog that only has photos, no blog posts (two internal links and it appears to be inactive)
--In the online phone book, I found eight listings
--Two family obituary references
One family blog that really isn't a blog, two bios on a website and one website of a massage therapist. No blogs, no newspaper articles, no mentions, no history or recording of them on the Web.
Sure, its largely a generation thing. Yet, I'm told that 'everyone' in my generation is using these services. And there certainly are older mainstream users on sites like eSnips (a client). While this exercise most certainly proved a point, I didn't expect to find nothing of substance.
In an odd way, it made me feel like a ghost, as if I was standing alone in an online world. Not that I had a desire to reach everyone in the class, but if I had, it would require a lot of effort. No doubt, some of these people will be listed on classmates.com or have a 'hidden blog' or profile somewhere on the Web.
We have no idea how far we have come in LESS than one generation until we do a surreal exercise like this one. A reminder that there are always other realities and choices when we think there is only one.
Update: Todd Sawicki did a follow up blog post about this very issue.
April 28, 2007
All International Tongues are One
After reading Kite Runner (two years after the rest of the world) and Namesake back-to-back, I was constantly reminded that in many cultures "blood" is 'everything.' In cultures where blood is not 'everything,' it is still there to remind you, often at the times when you wish you could forget.
With that, religion is often attached, attached as an anchor that pulls, tugs, strangles, confuses.....and we find that we often can't break free. We're entangled because our parents, grandparents and grandparents before them were entangled. Like blood, it clings to you, instead of freeing you.
In both books, the characters (Afghanistan and Indian respectfully) end up becoming American, so much so that they feel like strangers in their own countries when they return -- not uncommon. I felt that way after being abroad for a several year stretch without a return, a return to a place you always thought was home.
We do assimilate well however. Humans are actually very good at it when they allow themselves to be. We can adapt, change accents, learn languages, eat new kinds of food, and pick up customs that don't mesh with our own.
When I turned the last page of Kite Runner, I thought of the little New England stone chapel I was married in now more than ten years ago. There is a reason I chose it in addition to the fact that it was a small and beautiful wonder buried in the middle of trees high up on a hill, hidden to the rest of the world. It was its historical philosophy on accepting all regardless of blood, skin color, religion, culture or economic status.
The sense of spirituality was so strong within its quiet stone walls that both my fiance and I felt it right away, so much so that we stopped talking, sat on the cold uneven floor and just started to breathe, really breathe. There were so many pieces in the chapel that didn't match or blend, kind of like our first set of dishes -- how wonderful is that. So wonderful that to this day, I still don't have a set of dishes that completely matches, a reminder that the best parts of our life never truly match.
Below is its history:
The Little Stone Chapel of St. Elizabeth of Hungary was designed and built during the First World War by Ralph Adams Cram, world-famous architect of the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, and of many other great churches, as a place of worship for himself and his family. He built his chapel with gray rocks from his own fields and stone walls on his estate, Whitehall, with the help of a local stone mason, Nicholas Mercuri. They worked without blueprints so that one wall of the nave is inches longer than the other. The church door, hidden from the busy road, is reached by a country path winding under steltering trees, while wisteria and ivy clamber at will up its sturdy walls. Here is a small place of peace in a troubled world.
Mr. Cram explained the chapel’s building: “Can it be that any country community, will provide for itself a chapel built by the heart and hands of the worshippers, reflecting a native simple artistry which expensive blueprints cannot provide?”
The family and their myriad friends collected many aids to beauty from all parts of the globe during their worldwide travels. The fifteenth century reredos, a triptych with scenes from the Passion, was brought back from Spain. The six candlesticks on the altar are of old Spanish design. The ancient wooden tabernacle door with the resurrection banner, is undoubtedly the oldest and most valuable gift to the chapel. The door dates back to the ninth century and is from the Far East. The brass processional cross is Abyssinian and was given to the chapel at the time of the Italian invasion of Ethiopia. The banner of St. Elizabeth at the left of the altar was embroidered by a wounded British soldier after the First World War.
The small wooden statue of St. Elizabeth of Hungary was carved by Kirchmeyer who perfected his art in Oberammergau. The ikon with mirrors upon the chapel was given to the family by a Russian refugee. The French tapestry framed upon the wall is reputed to be the work of the ill-fated Queen Marie Antoinette of France. The bell hanging outside the chapel is an old ship’s bell from a sailing vessel from Gloucester and is said to have circled the globe many times. The bell rang out at the end of the First World War on November 11, 1918.
Strangers climb the winding path under the towering pines to the door of the little chapel and the sense of spirituality is so strong within its quiet stone walls that many kneel to pray. Old and new, Spanish, African, French, Russian, English, American.....all these elements of beauty blend together in a strangely harmonious way within this chapel built from New England stones. So also all international tongues are one in the House of God.
April 08, 2007
Check out this red truck I came across in Berkeley, not a rare sight at all in Vermont or New Hampshire but certainly not a frequent visual since I moved west. Its inside and out did everything possible to bring me back to a New England summer. The only thing missing was a black and white dog in the back with his tail wagging.
February 27, 2007
Top Women to Watch
The annual Women to Watch event is coming up on March 8, 2007 from 5:30 - 8:30 pm at Boston's Fairmont Copley Plaza Hotel.
10 New England women will be honored at the Women to Watch 2007 event. These up-and-comers are continuing to grow and shape the future of their industry. You can register to attend here.
Congratulations to this year's honorees:
Deya Corzo, Medical Director of Clinical Research, Genzyme Corp.
Mary Lynne Hedley, Executive Vice President and Chief Scientific Officer, MGI Pharma Inc.
Asa Kalavade, Founder and Chief Technology Officer, Tatara Systems Inc.
Christina Lampe-Önnerud, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Boston-Power Inc.
Paula Long, Founder and Vice President of Products and Strategy, EqualLogic Inc.
Rachel Meyers, Director of Research, Alnylam Pharmaceuticals Inc.
Stefania Nappi, Chief Executive Officer, PreferredTime Inc.
Mira Sahney, Founder and President, Myomo Inc.
Karen Tegan Padir, Vice President of Enterprise Java Platforms, Sun Microsystems Inc.
Angela Zapata, Senior Scientist, Bioengineering, The Charles Stark Draper Laboratory
February 14, 2007
Snow A Fallin' Elsewhere
There are things I miss about New England from time-to-time. This time of year is not one of them. They are getting hit with a major storm this week: surprise surprise. I wonder how many East Coasters miss this?
January 25, 2007
MIT Forum on Vlogging
MIT Forum Cambridge in Boston held a meet-up last night where apparently several people I know attended. Steve Garfield spoke on vlogging and whether video blogging is right for "you" and your business. Peter Marx was also a speaker, who is the former host of award-winning television show “Business Insight.”
Also check another upcoming event on February 7th - the Brave New Web -- their Winter Conference -- also at MIT.
January 23, 2007
The RNAi BioForum provides a forum for lively and insightful discussion of key industry trends by the region's top life sciences thought leaders. The next one is in Boston on February 1, 2007 and you can register here. The event will be held at the UK Trade and Investment in Cambridge, starting at 5:30 pm.
A panel discussion will include best practices in alliances around RNAi research, the technology's future applications, and how it has expanded industry and academia. Panelists include: Barry Greene, COO, Alnylam Pharmaceuticals and Jeremy Levin, DPhil, Global Head Strategic Alliances, Novartis Institute for BioMedical Research, Inc.
January 16, 2007
Women's Executive Forum
ACG Boston is hosting a Women's Executive Forum on January 24, 2007. You can register here. Sue Hodgkinson of The Personal Brand Company will explore how the brands of leaders are built through the 5 P's of Leadership Brand Model, and then highlight key areas where senior women can derail. Two key tools will be introduced to help address these crucial areas of advanced leadership development.
Wednesday, January 24, 2007
Registration 7:30am; Program 8:00am to 9:00am
The Westin Waltham-Boston, 70 Third Avenue, Waltham MA