March 18, 2011
Google's Marissa Mayer Talks Google & What It Was Like to Host Obama at HomeJohn Battelle interviewed Google's Marissa Mayer at the one day SIGNAL event in Austin last week. Her answers were thoughtful and as always, her informal and breezy way of addressing a crowd was well received. Her most memorable 'share' had nothing to do with Google.
Having hosted the Obama dinner this past month when he was in the San Francisco Bay Area talking to technology visionaries and CEOs, she talked about what it was like to have the President in her home and things she learned about security (aka, oh yeah, there will be TONS of men in black suits standing outside my home which is across from an elementary school), and meal planning. Here's the Business Insider overview on the dinner recap. It's a great interview: have a listen.
January 14, 2011
Fixing Broken Government
The next LongNow talk entitled Fixing Broken Government with Philip K. Howard is being held at Cowell Theater in Fort Mason Center, San Francisco on January 18, 2011.
Philip K. Howard is a conservative who inspires standing ovations from liberal audiences (short example here.) He says that governance in America---from the capitol to the classroom---has achieved near-total dysfunctionality by accumulating so many layers of piecemeal legalisms that the requirements of navigating them has replaced any hope of getting actual justice or effectiveness. Most attempts to fix the problems have made them worse. Howard thinks they can be fixed in a way that restores core functionality.
Howard is the author of Life Without Lawyers (2009) and Death of Common Sense (1994) and is the founder and chair of Common Good, a reform advocacy nonprofit.
Upcoming talks include:
Feb 9 (Wed.) - Mary Catherine Bateson, "Live Longer, Think Longer"
March 22 (Tue.) - Matt Ridley, "Deep Optimism"
April 13 (Wed.) - Ian Morris, "Why the West Rules - For Now"
May 4 (Wed.) - Tim Flannery, "Here on Earth"
June 7 (Tue.) - Carl Zimmer, "Viral Time"
This is one of a monthly series of Seminars About Long-term Thinking (SALT) organized by The Long Now Foundation. Free audios and my summaries of all previous talks are available for download here (or stay up to date with the Podcast here).
October 07, 2010
Great Political Hashtags For Twitter
Not for myself, of course; more as a means to show support for the political hopefuls (and incumbents) I want to see in office and to spread what I consider important (OK, and hilarious!) information about key races.
My Twitter has hitherto been largely inactive, mostly because I didn’t know what the hell I was supposed to do with it. Most of my friends aren’t on the network, and, at the time I created my account, I wasn’t interested in amassing a large following (like all those trannies who follow me on flickr for some reason).
In fact, prior to starting this project, I only knew of Twitter as a conduit for everyday folks to learn of the inane activities of their favorite celebrities. Sure, I was the same way at first, but I could no longer stomach the constant updating of @lindsaylohan -- hmm, guess she won’t be any updating for a bit -- or @sn00ki; although I do enjoy the occasional tweet from @chelseahandler and @michaelianblack.Now, however, I feel like I have a reason to actually use my Twitter account. If only in this fleeting, politically crazy moment. I had been upset about how many incumbent and establishment candidates were knocked out of their respective races by the fringe Tea Party-endorsed hacks in the primaries but now take some solace in the fact that I can vent that frustration using social media. And that people will see it. That’s right, my social media prowess has been awakened by my political fervor. And so can yours!
Sure, I realize I won’t have a major impact on or be the deciding factor in any race in particular. But, unlike Facebook, Twitter is, from what I can tell, mostly wide open and a much more effective way of spreading awareness and information, or, at the very least, passing, witty thoughts. I’ve also gained a number of new followers (people I didn’t have to beg to follow me!), so, it might seem, my plan is working…
I also learned you have to use hashtags! And here is the reason for this post: I’ve been compiling a list of political hashtags for you to use in your politics-oriented tweets, so they have a better chance of being seen in the Twitter-verse. And so you can find more like-minded people like yourselves.
Hashtags are just that: tags. A way for Twitter to categorize the constant stream of crap being published to the site. Click on a hashtag and you’ll be taken to a search page where everyone who’s posted using that particular hashtag appears. Some are frequently used and so your post will quickly be pushed to the bottom of the page. Others are very frequently used so there’s little chance your post will be seen in the midst of all the rest of the tweets on the page. But don’t despair.
Try to use hashtags strategically, though not necessarily sparingly. Meaning don’t tag every post with the same five or six keywords. Be creative. Try to mix up which hashtags you use. Embed them into your posts; don’t just lump ‘em all at the end. Otherwise Twitter will stop publishing you in its live feed for a while (I know this firsthand).
Don’t know which keywords will count as hashtags? Do a simple search before posting (be sure to include the # symbol!) and see if it gets any hits. If it looks like a fairly popular trend, go for it! If there are zero or few hits, try something different.
There are also tools that can help you learn which hashtags trend better (in other words, are more popular) than others, such as hashtags.org, and others that tell you the meaning behind certain hashtags, like #tagdef. Just play around with Twitter for a bit and you’ll eventually get the hang of it!
And so, for your enjoyment, here is my list of political hashtags:
Note: hashtags are not case sensitive so feel free to capitalize letters if you see fit; however, DO NOT include spaces in your hashtags.
Politics in General:
- #gov – Refers to the government in general.
- #politics – Use when referring to politics in general.
- #president – Refers to the President of the United States.
- #whyivote – Why you’re passionate about voting this election season.
- #dems/#dem – Democratic Party. Use to advocate for or show disapproval of the party.
- #gop – Republican Party. Use when either showing support for or criticizing the GOP.
- #votedem – Include in posts in which you want to encourage others to ‘vote Democrat.’ Don’t know of the GOP equivalent (try ‘#vote #gop’).
- #p2 – Progressives/Progressives on Twitter. Use when either supporting or disparaging this group (same follows for those below).
- #socialism/#socialist – For referring to socialism and/or socialists.
- #tcot – Stands for ‘Top Conservatives on Twitter.’ This one is particularly popular, with updates coming every few seconds.
- #teaparty – You got it, the Tea Party movement.
- #tlot – ‘Top Libertarians on Twitter.’
- #topprog – ‘Top Progressives on Twitter.’
Races by State:
- #(state)gov – Use in posts referring to a state’s governor’s race. For example, #cagov (California governor’s race).
- #(state)sen – Similarly, use when referring to a particular state’s senate race: i.e., #casen, #aksen, #desen (California, Alaska, and Delaware senate races, respectively).
- #dadt – The ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ policy (prevents homosexuals from serving openly in the U.S. military).
- #economy/#finance/#taxcuts – In reference to the economy and/or tax cuts (i.e., the ‘Bush Tax Cuts’ issue currently taking precedence in the media and on the political front).
- #hcr – Refers to health care reform (i.e., The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act aka Obamacare, etc.).
And Just for Fun:
- #teapartymovietitles – This was trending like wildfire last week!! Take a well-known movie title and alter it to make fun of the Tea Party movement. Some of my favorites included ‘Baracknaphobia,’ ‘Love Actually Only Exists Between a Man & Woman,’ and ‘The 41 Year Old Virgin’ (re: Christine O’Donnell)!! Started by @michaelianblack, I believe. And you can follow me over at @MatthewBachmann.
October 06, 2010
The American Taliban: How War, Sex, Sin & Power Bind Jihadists and Radical Right
Markos Moulitsas Zuniga addressed a San Francisco audience at the Commonwealth Club this week. Founder of the Daily Kos and Author of American Taliban: How War, Sex, Sin, and Power Bind Jihadists and the Radical Right, he presented his charges against the U.S. conservative movement, and compared it to what he believes is the U.S.’s top international enemy: radical Islamists.
Markos discussed the controversial parallels that he has found through his close examination of prominent figures and events within the far right in America and Afghanistan.
In his book, he explores America’s primary international enemy—Islamic radicalism—which he outlines in detail. He talks about its survival depends on government by theocracy, through curtailing civil liberties, embracing torture, repressing women, eradicating homosexuals from society, and insisting on the use of force over diplomacy.
Markos pulls no punches as he compares how the Republican Party and Islamic radicals maintain similar worldviews and tactics. He also challenges the media, fellow progressives, and American elected officials to call the radical right on their jihadist tactics more forcefully for the good of our nation and safety of all citizens.
September 23, 2010
Richard Rhodes: World's Atomic Explosions, a Strange Form of Communications Between Nations
At this week's LONG NOW event, Richard Rhodes spoke, beginning with a short version of Isao Ishimoto's animation of all the world's atomic explosions in the period 1945 to 1998. The total is shocking to most people---2,053. Stewart Brand's recap below.
Rhodes commented that seeing the bomb tests on a world map over time shows how much they were a strange form of communication between nations. He also noted how the number of tests dropped from decades of intensity to near zero after 1993. In this century only North Korea has tested bombs, and those could be the last explosions.
Most Americans, he's found, think that we don't have nuclear weapons any more, and that may reflect a realistic perception that we no longer need them. But our government keeps looking for reasons to keep them, and maintaining the current much reduced arsenal still costs $50 billion a year.
How much did the Cold War cost everyone from 1948 to 1991, and how much of that was for nuclear weapons? The total cost has been estimated at $18.5 trillion, with $7.8 trillion for nuclear. At the peak the Soviet Union had 95,000 weapons and the US had 20 to 40,000.
America's current seriously degraded infrastructure would cost about $2.2 trillion to fix---all the gas lines and water lines and schools and bridges.
We spent that money on bombs we never intended to use---all of the Cold War players, major and minor, told Rhodes that everyone knew that the bombs must not and could not be used. Much of the nuclear expansion was for domestic consumption: one must appear "ahead," even though numbers past a couple dozen warheads were functionally meaningless.
Rhodes noted that people fear the blast and radiation effects of atomic bombs, but it's really the fires that are most destructive. The fireball ignites everything far beyond the blast effects. As a result, nuclear winter remains a threat.
Former researchers of nuclear winter used sophisticated new climate models to assess what would happen if, say, there was an exchange of 100 Hiroshima-sized bombs (1.5 kilotons) between India and Pakistan. The smoke clouds would disrupt the weather long enough to collapse some agriculture, leading to starvation of as many as a bilion people.
Serious efforts are underway to get the world's nuclear weapons down toward zero. All weapons-grade highly enriched uranium (HEU) is being tallied and secured. Sophisticated, unrestrained inspection systems are gaining ever more access. In some cases, arsenals are being "virtualized"---nuclear capability substitutes for weapons stockpiles.
India and Pakistan, for instance, have disassembled their nuclear weapons into widely separated parts that would take considerable time and deliberation to reassemble.
In the course of his research, Rhodes shifted from opposition to nuclear power for electricity to becoming a strong proponent. Among its benefits is offering a way for the thousands of warheads to be converted into something useful when diluted into large quantites of reactor fuel.
Also the international fuel banking proposed for bringing proliferation-free nuclear power to developing nations can help enable more thorough inspections of all fissile material.
Rhodes also reflected that nuclear weapons may come to be seen as a strange fetishistic behavior by nations at a certain period in history. They were insanely expensive and thoroughly useless. Their only function was to keep a bizarre form of score.
August 18, 2010
I'll Tell You What I Want, What I Really, Really Want...
At the beginning of the 'recession' I was interviewed by BBC Radio 4's 'The World This Weekend' about what we wanted the Chancellor to do in his first recession budget. I said nothing.
I don't mean that I didn't say anything, I mean that I said could he please leave us alone. Instead they increased NI to a laughable amount which penalises anyone like us who wants to hire people and put up taxes for high earners (great, thanks for that).
Before the last election, I asked my local MP (Jonathan Djanogly, Conservative) what they will be doing for business if we all vote for them. Answer? Reducing red tape for start ups, helping people in Social Housing start businesses and stopping the government foreclosing businesses because they owe small amounts of back tax.
All of which is good no doubt, but none of which helps our business as it's been going 10 years, we work in an office and (sadly) our tax bill is rather higher than 48p.
So what I want is this:
1. The cost of employing people to go down. NI is a shocker and I'd rather it went in the pockets of our employees.
2. The ability to move around the UK easily (particularly on public transport).
3. Uniformly high quality skills from graduates. Am fed up with interviewing so called graduates who can't spell.
4. An improved technology infrastructure. Annoying still to be in some areas of the UK and not be able to get a mobile signal.
5. A more level playing field for public sector contracts involving far less timewasting on the PQQ level.
Be interested to hear what other people in the business really really want.
July 26, 2010
Getting Creative with B2B
A few weeks ago, Marketing Magazine published an article exploring the challenges in B2B marketing today. It was a well-intentioned article with some valid points (agreed – relationships are the heart of B2B) but the gist of it expounded that B2B marketing just wasn’t creative enough.
Then I wrote a post on Omobono's blog (and shared it here) about the game-changing Old Spice campaign and the validity of a fish hitting a piñata in business-to-business.
In the same spirit, I thought it would be worth looking at three examples, both for recognition of and inspiration in the creative forces of B2B. And, I should note: none of these case studies are our own – this post is about the industry as whole.
First, 10 Downing Street. Taking a cue from Barack Obama’s groundbreaking campaign, the team at Number 10 have developed a digital campaign, including social media and mobile, that is engaging, informative and integrated across platforms. PM Cameron even worked with Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg on Number 10’s newest initiative: The Treasury Spending Challenge.
Next up: Cisco. From the rapping intern to Pass the Ball, Cisco has earned a reputation for pushing the envelope to offer both an entertaining and enlightening digital experience. Their Pass the Ball initiative is an ‘idea warehouse’ for collaborative creativity. Each time a user submits, comments on or rates an idea (using Cisco’s WebEx service), Cisco commits to a donation to Teachers Without Boarders. Brilliant way to promote an online meeting service (of which there are many) and increase goodwill around the brand.
And, of course, there’s the ever-famous Will It Blend? campaign from BlendTec, suppliers of commercial blending equipment (whose customer list includes Nestle, Ocean Spray and Starbucks). Blending anything from marbles to an iPhone, and even a vuvuzela, BlendTec proved the quality and reliability of their product with incredible creativity that was almost instantly viral and has boosted their sales 5-fold.
Each of these campaigns is engaging, relevant and accessible without losing the plot of what the business is about (this is, afterall, business). Perhaps most importantly, each of these campaigns use digital to create a user experience – there’s value for you as a customer to connect with the brand in their digital space. Give value, get value.
That’s how we see it and, like these brands, that’s what we do. Do you?
Any other examples we should add to the list?
July 05, 2010
Jarvis on the Opinionless Man: an Institutional Myth?Howard Greenstein chats with Jeff Jarvis in a video taken at the Personal Democracy Forum (PDF) below. As Howard notes on the Supernova Hub blog (Jeff will also speak at the Supernova Forum in Philly at the end of the month), when they talked about the Supernova theme of Peristroika, Jarvis noted “The Internet changes the structures we see, and as Susan Crawford said at the PDF hack around things. But there still is a power structure that can have an impact on us.”
Jeff, who is working on a book about “Publicness” recently published a post on his own blog called: “Myth of the Opinionless Man,” where he challenges closed and non-transparent government.
Jeff explains what he means at a high level before he further outlines what he hopes to achieve in Publicness and how this connects to the cases of ousted Gen. Stanley McChrystal and ousted Washington Post reporter Dave Weigel.
Writes Jeff: "No, the opinionless man is an institutional myth, a fiction maintained by news organizations, political organizations, governments, businesses, churches, and armies. The opinionless man is meant to be an empty vessel to do the bidding of these hierarchies. But opinions and openness about them subvert hierarchies. Or to translate that to modern times, via the Cluetrain Manifesto, links subvert hierarchies. This is the age of links. So hierarchies: beware. One opinion leaks out of the opinionless man and it is shared and linked and spread instantly. The institutions treat this revelation as a shock and scandal — as a threat — and they eject the opinionated men." More on his blog and in the video below.
Thanks Howard and Jeff for the share.
April 30, 2010
NYC Artists Speak Up: Is American Mediocrity Killing the Artist in Us?I was walking through Union Square about a week ago when I came across the familiar row of independent artists and craftsmen who were out for the day to display their latest creations.
Unique to this stroll around the square, was the enormous number of negative posters slamming Mayor Bloomberg (who btw, is the 8th richest person in the United States) and the Parks Departments for their aggressive move to dislocate the artists from designated areas throughout the city, including Union Square, Central Park, Battery Park, and the Highline.
Check out some videos of President of A.R.T.I.S.T. Robert Lederman and other artists being arrested from protesting (spans 1994-2001). According to information posted on this site, Lederman was falsely arrested 43 times to date, was never convicted and has won 4 Federal lawsuits about the arrests. See objections for proposed park rules for artists.
More information can also be found on the Yahoo Groups page dedicated to NYC Street Artists.
I had a chance to talk to a few artists on that very weekend day as well as at a public protest the following Friday (April 23, 2010), held on West 25th Street just outside the Chelsea Recreation Center. Below are links to a number of videos I shot to bring you up to speed on the issues.
Listen to my interviews with artists David and Eva, who have stalls near each other in Union Square.
Watch my video taken of Robert Lederman who is leading the protest, asking artists to stand up for their rights, as artists stand around shouting ARTIST POWER with protest signs in their hands.
Hear my one-on-one interview with Robert Lederman at the protest.
Lastly, watch my videos (Video 1, Video 2 and Video 3 (Lederman tells his point of view) that were taken at the hearing at New York's Chelsea Recreational Center: people speak to a table of three Parks Boards members addressing the proposal.
Here's what I discovered from numerous conversations over the course of the week.
Mayor Bloomberg and supporters have a commercial interest in moving artists out of the parks. The question is: will they open up those 'free vendor' slots to new 'bidders,' leaving the 80+ artists in Union Square and hundreds of others with few places to go. According to a recent New York Times article entitled A Fight for Art Vendors, a Look to the Past, parks commissioner, Adrian Benepe, "insisted that the department had no plans to license any more vendors for the high-traffic areas in question."
The artists' sentiment is that Mayor Bloomberg does not 'respect' them as artisians, nor do they feel he cares where they 'end up' in favor of a lucrative plan to generate more revenue.
Lederman's voice echoed up and down West 25th Street. He loudly reminded artists that they have rights, that the parks belong to the people, that they've won similar court cases in the past, and that they need to stand up for freedom, which is what he adds, "American is founded upon," and "why you all came here."
"How many artists from Argentina?" he shouted and tons of hands went up. This went on for several minutes as he went from country to country, leaving a chill down your spine as you gazed across a large diverse group of artists holding picket signs from hundreds of cultures across the world.
Personally, I saw, met and talked to artists from Ecuador, Australia, France, Canada, Mexico, Bolivia, Chile, Japan, Romania and South Africa. Some were supporting families on the little they took in from their stall sales.
While many artists had been recently complaining about each other, largely because space is so competitive, they seemed to have bonded together with one unified voice since the recent threat. What occurred to me as I walked through Union Square, was the sense of community. Like a seasonal street fair, neighborhood artists would talk to each other while waiting for tourists and locals to stop by, browse and hopefully buy.
Residents showed up at the hearing, and in front of the Parks Board, they told their story. Residents complained of increased congestion in Union Square and the Parks, which they claim, prohibits a natural path for baby strollers, joggers and dog walkers. Others complained of noise from the crowds that the weekend stalls generated.
The artists argued that the green market and holiday fair created more congestion and one photographer had shots to prove it.
SO, what do I think?
I'm a fan of diversity and I'm a fan of art. Who is to argue whether a poor artist' work is better or worse than one who can afford to pay a high priced rent for his/her stall?
One could argue that if an artist had more money and resources, they might be able to create 'better art,' or could afford to be more creative than a colleague who makes substantially less. Even in cases where that might be true, is that really what art is about?
One could also argue that high bidding 'rent wars' would bring in big corporate vendors, the same kind that are sprawled throughout the rest of homogeneous America. The independent artists of New York City not only fear the loss of their livelihood but the onslaught of art that is average, tacky, cheap and mainstream.....the generic eye candy of Orlando's Kississimee, Times Square's plastic Statues of Liberty and cotton candy dolls found in small town fairgrounds. Or, it could simply be more expensive versions of the same.
It's too early to know, but what I do know is this.
What I witnessed sent chills down my spine because unlike other American urban centers, New York houses so many cultures, its intoxicating what you can learn and discover on one subway ride alone -- if only you remain open to a conversation or two.
Only in New York City do you witness chaos, art, intensity and charm in the same glance and more importantly, a sense that passion and conviction will always win over fear and trepidation.
People don't move to New York City to 'get a job.' They come to create, grow, sing, dance, trade, partner and deal.
It's an active culture that requires you to participate....all the time. Whether it's a conversation on a street corner, in a deli, at a building reception desk, in front of a theater, on the train to Brooklyn, on a bar stool at an Irish pub, or at a restaurant on quaint Elizabeth Street, the engagement is always diverse, and it's almost always 'real.' And, whenever you don't feel that it is, you can call a New Yorker on it and they'll likely meet you half if not all the way.
New Yorkers don't sit on the sidelines and watch. The protest reminded me how much that statement is true about New York culture and how there is no choice but for it to be even truer for artists.
I always wanted to be an artist, most likely a photojournalist shooting wonders under the sea or people on the streets of Soweto during the riots. I didn't go down that path because the entrepreneurial spirit of America knocked louder. For those who understand that knock and how profound our life choices are, it's a gift to know the real truth about yourself and the outcomes of our life choices - art as a hobby because we chose a different path, OR art every day of our lives because we simply couldn't walk down any other path.
It takes courage to live that life every day, one step at a time, often giving up financial security along the way. Artists do that -- they live their inner passion every day. Says Seth Godin in Linchpin, "an artist is someone who uses bravery, insight, creativity and boldness to challenge the status quo. And, an artist takes it personally."
And so, I think it's not just in our best interest to support an artist's dreams, but essential, whether it's the more traditional artists who are protecting their rights in New York City parks or the artist in all of us dying to spend more time creating than performing and following. It's essential that we support, honor and embrace the artist, in order to preserve creativity, independent thought and unique creation, leaving homogeneous lizard brain products, services and art, far far behind in the dust.
Asks Godin, "why is society working so hard to kill our natural-born artists? When we try to drill and practice someone into subservient obedience, we're stamping out the artist within. Art is a personal gift that changes the recipient. The medium doesn't matter. The intent does." Hear hear.
April 29, 2010
Saving Whales: It's Not Just WhalesI heard Dr. Paul Watson talk this past week at the California Academy of Sciences. For over thirty years, he has been at the helm of the world's most active marine protection Sea Shepherd Conservation Society His real passion? Saving whales.
Originally from Canada, he says with force, "I'm not here to watch whales getting killed, I'm here to save him. I'm here to bankrupt and sink the Japanese whaling fleet." He reinforces how serious the state of our oceans are in and reminds us that if our oceans die, we die.
Paul worries that we're going to destroy the diversity in our oceans and one of these days, we're going to pull one too many and we won't survive it.
Part II of his story.