November 14, 2010
Ireland: Things I Forgot, New Things Learned
22 years later, give or take, I recently returned to Ireland, but this time, Dublin was the first and only stop. Unlike the last tour which took in the southern countryside, this adventure centered around Dublin and was jam packed with meetings, coffees, lunches, dinners, and more coffees. And of course, a few pints of Guinness along the way.
Having Irish friends in the states, England or any other country for that matter, doesn't really give you an authentic snapshot of Irish soil, largely because so much about the culture and experience IS the soil.....the soil and the rain, the wind and the air.
Some of my most vivid memories of my first trip to Ireland were of massive breakfasts and the charming albeit cold B&Bs. Twenty years ago, there wasn't a stop off that had central heating and your bones felt every bit of the result.
THINGS I FORGOT:
1. How incredibly witty the Irish are, and not just occasionally, but all the time.
2. The Irish live for a good story - telling one and taking one in. And, there are always interesting historical tidbits and mythical legends thrown in for good measure.
3. How much I resonate with Irish culture because of their zest for life AND their ability to pull something from a hat even when there isn't one.
4. If they don't know an answer, they'll make one up, and even if its wrong, it's almost always interesting.
6. Hospitality. Not only do they understand the word, but they're efficient at it. Ask for something and it'll be waiting for you with a smile, followed by a grin, not necessarily in that order.
7. When they say they're going to do something, they deliver. Their word means something as does the word Honor.
8. For the record, #5 is worth repeating.
9. How much many of the town layouts reminded me of some of the English rural towns, always marked with a pub in the center.
The difference is that the bartenders always seem to be happy, or if they're not when you first sit down, it doesn't take long to get a smile out of them.
10. The Irish are laid back; they left uptight behavior somewhere in the Atlantic Ocean.
11. Guinness is not just an Irish brand, it's an institution. Pubs wear the name on their seats, towels, banners, coasters and glasses and people drink a lot of it. A helluva lot of it.
12. Just how damp the air is, not unlike my memories of England. The dampness not just hugs your bones but it goes through them.
14. History is a big deal. They all know a lot of it and you won't leave without a lesson or two.
15. Abortion is illegal. I forgot that it was and was shocked to learn that it still is.
16. How different the north and south is and how loyal the people are to their county, towns, villages, cities and pubs.
17. How entertaining any pub visit can be regardless of which one you walk into.
18. How gorgeous the pubs are -- inside and out, from the drapes and windows to the old wood, brass and textiles.
NEW THINGS LEARNED:
1. Sadly, American beers like Budweiser and Miller seem to have made a successful entry into Ireland despite the fact that they brew their own beer which is 10x better.
3. There's a growing technology scene in Dublin, Galway and other pockets of the country.....and a lot of innovative ideas and people are emerging.
4. You can find a great selection of boots and shoes and they're on par with what I found in France, Italy and Germany, but in more cases than not, for about the same price as Paris.
5. More people than not thought I was Irish and apparently it wasn't just because of my auburn hair and pale white skin. There's something in a walk I'm told and it looks like I have "it" whatever "it" is.
6. There are enough fabulous restaurants with great food and ambiance that you could eat out every night of the week in Dublin and never get bored or have a bad meal.
7. You can easily meet 5 Paddy's, 5 Connors, and 5 Iains in one afternoon.
8. Wine is heavily taxed, so much so that you can easily pay more for a bottle or glass of wine than you would in the San Francisco Bay Area, one of America's most expensive cities. And, for 6-8 Euros a glass, you may only end up with a mediocre French Bordeaux. It's considered a luxury I'm told whereas beer is not. Moral of the story is: drink beer. There's a ton of it and it's really good.
9. More people still read books, magazines and newspapers in their hard copy form, not on their iPads or laptops - even on a park bench in the rain.
10. People text a lot more than they do in the states.
11. Entrepreneurs I met are more interested in building a business than flipping one.
12. Radio still flies. I ran into one start-up CEO who met his $20K angel investor because of a local radio interview.
13. Google has their European headquarters in Dublin. The rest of Silicon Valley may already know this, but I didn't. I also learned that they're not easily "accessible."
14. Art in Dublin is pricey compared to what I've seen in other European cities. That said, there IS a scene.....from poets, painters, photographers and designers, to illustrators, architects, fiddlers and film producers.
15. The architecture industry is suffering; the decline being hit by a reduction in building because of the economic downturn. That said, there's more "church" architecture gigs than you'd find in the states because of the volume of them. And, projects could easily take a year or more.
17. Pub crawls in Dublin are not just for tourists. What else is cool and may not be well known, is that they have literary and music pub crawls too.
18. Festivals are quite possibly as common as pubs, and....they're scattered throughout the year. And, all of them look interesting and worth attending.
19. People may be having fewer kids but 3 is certainly not uncommon and more the norm than it is the states, particularly in cities.
Lastly, and most of all, the charm and yesteryear culture of Ireland remains. Misty gray skies are part of its unpredictable weather, regardless of the time of year, but with it comes a stronger tolerance for things and a heartier stock of folks who are a joy to meet and get to know.
Passion and creativity also reign as much as they always did, which will be enough of a reason alone to bring me back to Irish shores and valleys again and again.
November 12, 2010
10.5 Hour Flights Cattle Style
In fact, there have been times when a dozen hours have gone by and I've taken not much more than a five minute break to put the tea kettle on.
Flying used to whiz by for me -- just like it does in front of the addictive PC screen. After all, you can "endure" anything for a day. Enduring of course, is a choice, isn't it? You can opt to do two things:
1-change what we perceive as something to endure to a different experience, i.e., an educational journey for example.
2-simply choose to opt out of the experience altogether.Opting out of flying is not really an option when it's an integral part of your life work. Flying for those who have spent a lifetime doing it know it has only gotten worse, not better. Flights are cramped and often overbooked, service is in the toilet and you're charged for every incremental whether it's worth it or not. To top it off, most of the food is processed, overpriced and not worth eating. And, that's just the beginning.
Let's visit international travel today.
1) Three-four hours of research -- flight times, changes, connections, all to avoid 5 am take-offs and two changes along the way.
2) Research various destinations (time varies depending on the trip but it's not an exaggeration to say that this process can exceed 20 hours)
3) Accommodation research. Don't get me started - you want wifi? Even when they say they have it, more often than not, they don't or it doesn't work the "day" you arrive.
4) Seat in advance? You actually want to book your seat in advance?
5) See above. Call airline. On hold. Call drops. On hold again. Agent is following rule book so we go round and round the bureaucracy circle. They don't understand or pretend they don't. Frustration increases. They transfer you. Call drops. Call again. Throw phone across room.
6) Check in online 24 hours in advance. Find that you're stuck in the back of the airplane in a middle seat and can't change it. Call airline. Repeat #5.
7) At airport with online boarding pass yet you still have to stand in line for bag drop off (note, line is longer than check-in line). What's wrong with this picture exactly?
8) Elevated leg room for an extra $50 she says to me without a smile. That buys you 3 inches she says, again without a smile. OR, you can pay $180 more for "premium economy." What does that mean exactly? More leg room she says, without a smile. How much more? She doesn't know. It's the in-person equivalent of #5.
On my latest flight to Heathrow, I learned that they had overbooked the plane, which btw, happens 9 times out of 10 flights in my more recent experiences.
Instead of having a spare seat next to me, the entire row is full as is every row behind and in front of me. Instead of looking for ways to make the travel experience less stressful, more comfortable and relaxing, airlines are creating new stress points to a trip that never existed before.
It's as if the COOs have fired all the CMOs, hired a 22 year old social media director straight out of college to manage their Facebook and Twitter page and think that that'd do the 'ole marketing and customer service trick. WTF?
Airlines look for every conceivable way to milk another dollar out of their customers while decreasing the value of the travel experience. Stewards don't listen to needs, they follow rules. Rather than serve the customer, they serve an operational system that dehumanizes the travel experience. Even Virgin has moved in that direction.
More and more, I feel like I'm one in a herd of cattle getting moved through an operational system so airlines can make more money. The net result is that travel becomes something to 'endure' not enjoy. Despite the fact that quality goes down and customers complain, nothing changes. For the airlines that are active on Twitter and Facebook, you may get a response if you shout loud enough, and while it may make you feel 'heard' for a moment or two, it doesn't change your last or next travel experience.
It's not just the service that continues to decline, it's the products too. If you haven't noticed, the headsets have gotten cheaper - I had two break on me on one flight in the first 30 minutes and another break on a flight two weeks later. (different airlines).
What used to be blankets are now oversized golf towels with a logo on them and let's remember, most now charge you for the terrycloth lap coverage. American recently charged me $8 for a "very" cheap mini bottle of wine and $10 for processed crackers and cheese.
On a London to Florida flight, British Airways charged $24 for a box of food (return flight). WTF?
On another flight across the Atlantic with Virgin recently, the guy to my left was impressed that Virgin didn't charge for food for the transatlantic flight. It's a 10.5 hours flight I said to him in disbelief. WTF? He shouldn't be impressed, he should be outraged that it isn't the norm. He was not, btw, a frequent traveler.
Acceptance of crap means we get crap. Rewind the clocks for those who are old enough to do so. I remember looking forward to flights - the service, the food, the movies, the wine. Hell, when I was a kid, I got crayons and American Airlines cards on every flight. (for FREE and we took them home with us). Imagine.
As I squirmed around in my jammed packed "cattle class" row listening to the crying babies in front of me, and the angry man behind me who kept elbowing my seat in hopes I wouldn't recline my seat, I desperately tried to re-frame my experience and turn "enduring the flight" to something I might be able to learn from.
Sadly, I couldn't think of anything I could learn from repeated airplane discomfort except for perhaps motivation to get more women in senior management in the airline industry so we can put the "human touch" back into travel.
So, I closed my eyes and imagined what I WOULD DO if I were running marketing and operations for a major airline. My goal would be for the airline to own the phrase "airline love" on every platform out there - on and offline. Hire different people. Train them on what customer service really means. Put them through the "cattle experience" and ask them for ways to make the experience better. And, identify other revenue streams so the customer doesn't "feel" like they ARE the revenue stream.
It's time. It's so time.
Cattle call be gone!
November 10, 2010
The Magic of Family Businesses & the Stories that Keep Them Alive
Occasionally you come across an old shop, creamery, pub, restaurant, chemist or cafe that......simply speaks to you and feels so damn authentic that you go back in time simply through its walls, floors and ceilings.
Having grown up in New England on Richard Russo's soil, I gravitate to places like that or they simply find me. It even shows in the banner of Down the Avenue, which is a modified version of the upstate New York main street small town where I grew up.
Jack Carvill & Sons along Dublin's Camden Street (renown for thrift stores) dates back to 1905. Online, someone referred to it the Rolls Royce of off-licenses.
Not everything in the place is still original, yet many of it remains in its antiquated authentic form, including the door behind the counter, the tills, the back hutch and the gorgeous albeit "dinged up" wooden counter.
Jack Carvill's apparently even got a mention in "Ulysses" although the real story is in its history, which I learned through the young man running it during my recent trip to Dublin. (Jim Bourke is the current owner btw).
In the early 1900s, it was called Delahunt and run by the Delahunt family through the mid-thirties when they sold it to the Cavey family, who ran the place for another thirty years until they sold it in the mid-sixties to Jack Carvill. It was Jack who renovated it (we think in 1968) and for nearly another thirty years, Carvill and his two sons ran it. Carvill died in 1993 but their sons still managed the store until their mother died in the late nineties (she apparently lived upstairs over the shop).
Take a look at this. He showed us the daily revenue book from the mid-thirties. Fascinating. While it may be hard to read, they took in 252 pounds (16 shillings and 4.5 pence) on Christmas Eve in 1936, which was higher than their typical take, which ranged from 80 to 185 pounds.
All I can say is thank God places like this still exist and thank God there are people on the planet who still care enough to restore history and remember the stories which keep the wonderful characters from distant times still alive.
Camara Educates African Communities With Reburbished PCs
Camara's John Fitzsimons tells me about their latest work in Africa during a recent trip to Dublin.
We have both spent time in Africa volunteering and teaching so had some common ground; the difference is John is still committed to making a difference there through his day-to-day working as General Manager of Camara.
It has nothing to do with photography despite the a/e slip in the word that could fool you if you read too quickly.
All about giving back, Carama is a volunteer organization dedicated to using technology to deliver education more effectively to disadvantaged communities in Africa and Ireland.They operate as a social enterprise in two distinct business lines: ‘Education Delivery’ and ‘Computer Reuse’. The connection between these two, seemingly disparate activities is technology.
Essentially they bring in in used computers from Irish companies and individuals, wipe their hard drives of data (in line with US Department of Defense standards), refurbish and load them with educational software before setting them up as Learning Centres in schools in Africa and Ireland. How cool is that?
What's with the name I ask him? It's the Bantu name for one who teachers with experience John says. They currently do most of their work in Lesotho, Zambia, Tanzanaire, Uganda, Rwanda, Kenya and Ethiopia.
"Camara is not the typical NGO," John says. "I'm not an international specialist. The return on investment for us is a social return, not a financial return. We want to be a 'social enterprise.'" They train teachers to use these computers as tools to improve the delivery of education to their students. And, they produce computer training and educational multimedia materials for use by teachers and children.
When Camara was established in 2005, they had two core beliefs: 1) Education is the key for people to break the cycle of poverty they find themselves in; and 2) properly used, Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) can be harnessed to revolutionize the way world class education is delivered to disadvantaged communities.
"The Internet is such a great leveler, creating so many equal opportunities with education and distant learning," says John. More on their program and how they operate below.
October 22, 2010
Gourmex: Taste the Flavors of Mexico
The Friends of Mexico and the Mexican Consulate have announced the launch of Gourmex, a gala event hosted at the Bently Reserve, San Francisco, on October 25th, 2010 from 6:00pm – 8:30pm.
Gourmex will showcase the some of the best culinary talent in San Francisco, the Bay Area and Mexico while highlighting upscale and boutique food and beverage product exported from Mexico to the United States. There will be a number of diverse offerings prepared by some of the most well-regarded local Mexican Restaurants in the San Francisco/greater Bay area.
Gourmex will also highlight upscale and boutique culinary product exported from Mexico, including samples of some of the highest quality chiles, spices and chocolate. For beverages, Don Julio will be offering tastes as will some of the wineries.
October 21, 2010
Southwest Airlines Talks About Their Social Media Strategy: #BWE10Southwest Airlines was a sponsor and exhibitor this year at BlogWorldExpo in Las Vegas. Christi McNeill from Southwest Airlines talks to me about their social media strategy, why she blogs and tweets and how they use social media tools as a company. Their social media team is only two, but they're active with over 1 million followers on Twitter and in the top ten in travel for 'influence.'
October 19, 2010
And Then There Was 2010 BlogWorldExpo: #bwe10
I’ve been going to BlogWorldExpo since it began. An event dedicated to all things blogging, online content and social media, it gathers bloggers who flock to SXSW in the Spring, mom and parenting bloggers who flock to BlogHer in August, and geek bloggers who flock to (or should I say are addicted to) social media and technology events every month.
The event, now at over 3,000 attendees, also attracts generalists, travel bloggers, marketing execs, blogging solution & tool vendors, and big brands trying to make an impact on the blogosphere on and offline.
A few highlights: I sampled saffron paella fresh off the Jenn-Air stage, met celebrity chef Manoushka Guerrier (Single Serving) of Food Network's Private Chefs of Beverly Hills, and sat next to interesting and engaging Erik Trinidad at a dinner who came up with a creative blog brand: Fancy Fast Food. His USP? He essentially takes fast food and makes it 'look' fabulous. Food had a bigger play this year at BlogWorld. Check out my summary post on We Blog the World, listing some of the topics and speakers.
One booth souped up dark chocolate espresso and gourmet coffee and Macallan Single Malt Whiskey was giving away samples, who btw, had two hired guns manning the booth, one of whom was not a whiskey drinker and a second who drank another brand.
Held in the Las Vegas Mandalay Bay, several tracks take place simultaneously down 3 long hallways, while activity buzzes in the exhibit hall nearby. Adjoining the exhibit hall is what they refer to as a New Media Lounge, where podcasts and video interviews took place and bloggers connected for live posting, photo uploads and managing email overflow.
In from around the world were bloggers from Japan, Australia, New Zealand (Darren Rowse from ProBlogger), Scotland (Ewan Spence), Germany (Nicole Simon), Ireland (Irish Polyglot), Poland, Argentina and hundreds of others. Babette Pepaj from Bakespace co-organized the food track which also drew lifestyle and travel bloggers, including travel blogger Gary Arndt who I rarely get to see but thanks to this annual blogging event, we were able to catch up. Below, Dave Peck with the Meshin folks at the Jason Falls meet-up.
I ran into Technorati’s CEO Richard Jalichandra and a bunch of blogger pals from LA who cover everything from relationships, sex, boomers, aging and fitness to politics, entertainment, music and travel. TWIT’s Leo Laporte was conducting interviews as was Marsha Collier on the show floor for a few hours each day. Below, Renee Blodgett, Leo Laporte and Barbara Rozgonyi.
Panel discussions were broad, ranging from photography tips, SEO for blogs, digital crisis communications, money trail, podcasts, social media policies, Internet Radio, blogging platforms and travel videos to non-profits, politics, education, parenting, mobile vlogging, Social CRM, travel pornand creating a blog network.
Barry Moltz spoke on how to utilize the speaking game to leverage your brand and blog, how to capitalize on it by using speaking to the blog revenue pie. He emphasizes three things everyone 'must have down' - what's your bio, what's your brand and what's your promise? Video of the session to follow tomorrow. Below Joseph Morin who did a bang-up job with Social Rewards all week and Steve Hall.
Countless official and unofficial parties were held every night, after all….it is Las Vegas, so it’s a great opportunity for sponsors to tap into the no rules policy or at least limited rules, where drinks can be served into the wee hours of the morning, people can drink on the streets and leave restaurants with a glass of wine in their hands, and people’s inhibitions are fluid and loose at best.
Below a little glitz and glam at the Techset opening party.
Party hopping is part of the blogging conference culture and not unlike SXSW, I got the sense each and every night, that attendees were desperately looking for the next bash after each one ended. Social Rewards held Luxor suite receptions and scavenger-hunt like exercises were an integral part of participating. Thanks Luxor & Joseph Morin.
You were given clues and links to scour through and questions to answer and ultimately you were given information albeit vague, about where the party was held. It had a fun, gaming kind of flavor to it, which was perfect for any Las Vegas venue and brands like the Las Vegas Luxor, Sony, Ford (kudos to Scott Monty -- @scottmonty -- who won an award this week), PopChips and others were able to tap into the subsequent buzz that flowed from the events each night.
Whoah, Gregory Feinstein has his hands full at the Mashable bash. So did everyone else btw.
Client CarWoo!, an inexpensive, private and efficient way to buy a new car online, threw a women’s blogger event, to celebrate their launch at Digital Dealer, a car event which started a few days earlier at the Mirage. Below Heather Meeker and Marsha Collier arrive from the massive black hummer limo.
The hummer limo picked up the girls at the Mandalay Bay for a little off-site food, champagne, wine, make-up from the team at FRESH and poker tips from Shore Slocum. Below, inside the limo, 25 or more of us were packed in with champagne bottles and glasses. Oh yeah and note the fabulous pair of red boots. Below, Renee Blodgett, Beth Kanter.
Below, the FRESH team 'refresh' attendees.
Below Pepsi's Social Media guru Bonin Bough at the Mashable party
The Bellagio’s Yellowtail Restaurant hosted a tasting for some of the food, wine and travel bloggers, so I couldn’t resist.
Award-winning chef Akira Back put together a myriad of dishes that included Jidori chicken with potato puree and garlic cream, Scottish Salmon with yuzu lemon, duck prosciutto with pickles and micro beets, seared Hokkaido Scallops with cherry tomatoes and mustard potato puree, Alaskan King Crab with rock shrimp, spicy-citrus aioli, grilled walu with shiitake mushrooms & pearl onions and braised kobe beef short ribs.
A more in-depth review of the tasting can be found here, including a handful of fabulous food photos I took on-site. Thanks Lightgroup -- @lightgroup and @bakespace.
PopChips also drew in some of the foodies at a nearby after bash, where they promoted a Twitter quiz to get the word out about their brand.
Keynotes this year included Darren Rowse, Brian Clark, Jim Louderback, Susan Bratton and Dermot McCormack, Karen Hughes, Reid Wilson and Dick Glover. The last panel of the event was a cross between a talk-show format and a Q&A. Moderated by Rob Barnett, Adam Carolla, Penn Jillette from Penn & Teller, Mark Malkoff, Cali Lewis and Jeffrey Hayzlett discussed what works and doesn't with new media.
They were all bluntly entertaining about new media, old media, and where online is heading. Penn said of Twitter on-stage that it is one of the most intimate vehicles we have today to communicate, connect and engage.
He overtly compared it to the countless impersonal and often fake physical exchanges we have with people at cocktail parties and other events. Intimacy at its best he feels and goes on to explain how he uses Twitter. He says that he tweets all of his own stuff and rarely retweets other people’s thoughts, one of the reasons he thinks he has a popular and widespread following (@pennjillette has over 1.6 million followers at last check).
I would bet it also has a little to do with the fact that he is a national if not international entertainer celebrity, not to mention has a very sarcastic and in-your-face, bold personality. It’s so surprise that America eats him up, since yanks are typically drawn to the eclectic, the brash, the tough and the bold in my experience. Check out this video from the floor and this blog post that captures nearly all of the panel discussion in a three part video -- subsequent videos can be found in a separate blog post and on YouTube.
Tech Karaoke closed the event on Saturday night at the Palms Hotel. It was held in a large threatre with cinema-like chairs perched on an angle and the stage was roughly 4.5 feet from the ground, giving those brave enough to sing in from of their blogging peers, plenty of space and height to really feel their 3-5 minutes of fame.
Below, the tech karaoke audience get a 'little' excited and take in the energy from on-stage.
On the stage, participants play full out. For example, who knew that the iSocket guys were so talented (and so strong?)
Leaving the Klout party to go hang out with Jason for a bit.
Inside the Venetian Hotel along the strip.
Sugar Jones and Marla Schulman
@Zaneology wore these incredible nylons that were sure to make a statement and then some not to mention being incredibly appropriate for a blogging conference.
CarWoo's CEO Tommy McClung at the end of a very long night.
Kris Krug, Deb Shultz
More Mashable fun. Ben Parr was missed (@benparr).
Mashable's Brett Petersel and TechZulu's Efran Toscano
Sugar Jones, Ask Dave (Taylor), Oliver Starr, Renee Blodgett, Roseann Higgins
Chris Noble (@cfnoble) graced us with Elvis. (really good Elvis - who knew he could belt out a tune like he can?)
More late night tech-karaoke at the Palms.
Go Sheila Dowd. It was indeed a lot of work but a helluva lot of fun too! :-)
Because Ken Yeung (@thekenyeung) shoots as much as I do and then some. And he's really good. Smile.
At the Techset bash, David Spark, Renee Blodgett @magicsaucemedia, Pat Jenkins of Uptake and Michael Tchong of @ubercool.
October 19, 2010 in America The Free, Conference Highlights, Events, On Blogging, On Branding, On Food & Wine, On Social CRM, On Technology, PR & Marketing, Social Gigs & Parties, Social Media, Travel, WBTW, Web 2.0 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack
October 18, 2010
A Recap of the 2010 Tudou Video Festival
Tudou.com (which means “couch potato” in Chinese) is China’s first, and now one of the country’s largest (aside from rival Youku.com), video sharing portals. Launched in 2005, Tudou follows a similar model to Google Inc.’s video Web site, YouTube.
Tudou also hosts videos that push the boundaries of sensitivity on the country’s censored Internet. It was the first portal, for example, to show the “War of Internet Addiction,” a 64-minute computer animation film on government Web controls, Tudou co-founder Gary Wang said. The film, produced by a network engineer who goes by the name “Sexy Corn,” won the top award at this year's festival.
Aspiring filmmakers, actresses and actors, animators and amateur videographers from around China (all mostly in their mid- to late-20s) showcased their work at the festival held at an art complex in Beijing, with aorund one thousand people in attendance.
Of the more than 5,000 entries, 94 made it to the final round of nominations.
“Two to three years ago, the works were really amateur,” Wang said. “Now people are taking it much more seriously.”
Now, traditional media along with advertisers are starting to take the content on Tudou much more seriously, too. Hung Huang, a blogge experiences working as a journalist in China won the “Golden Camera Award," and Hitch-hike Diary won the documentary category. The film, by a video blogger who goes by the name Tomato-Han Da Ka, is the story of a hiking trip on the border regions of Sichuan province and Tibet.
He is the producer of the “War of Internet Addiction,” an animated film shot entirely within the video game, World of Warcraft (it is a filming technique known as machinima, which involves making animated movies using real-time images recorded from video games). The movie won the top award at the Tudou festival.
The film centers on World of Warcraft gamers who are frustrated that a new version of the game was banned in China. However it also contains deeper themes about Internet freedom in the country. It has been viewed millions of times.
Video Link: http://www.tudou.com/programs/view/8w0z0Q_TAQI/
Cai Chen-Shu (Video Blogger Name: Love Vacation)
“It Seems to Rain” centers on a high school boy and his struggles to accept himself as a homosexual. “I have always wanted to make a movie about same sex relationships and how a teenager becomes comfortable with his own identity.
Cai said the film received a lot of criticism when it was first posted online in China because “the movie is from Taiwan and those kinds of things.” He now works for a film production company in Taipei. “I don’t consider myself a movie producer at all,” he said. “It was just an assignment.” However Cai says one day he does hope to become a famous director of a disaster film.
Video Link: http://www.tudou.com/programs/view/O_GQhEIvCsA/
Zhou ended up pursuing his filmmaking dream. He is now studying at the Beijing Film Academy. And his 22-minute film, “Lost in Paradise,” was nominated for best drama at the Tudou awards ceremony. The film is about a driver who loses 10 patients he is taking to a mental institution when he stops to see a prostitute along the way.
Zhou says his next film will center on love between parents and their son in honor of the support his family eventually gave him to pursue his dream. “Crying is not weak,” he said. “”Crying is because we are moved by each other.”
Read more: 2010 Tudou Video Festival awards: The best of China's online films | CNNGo.com http://www.cnngo.com/explorations/none/chinese-video-portal-tudoucom-holds-annual-awards-beijing-706382#ixzz12mBMxeHL
October 18, 2010 in Entertainment/Media, Events, On Blogging, On Branding, On China, On Innovation, On People & Life, On Video, Photography, Social Media, Travel, WBTW, Web 2.0 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack
October 14, 2010
What Is It About Las Vegas That Keeps Us.........
Every time I come to Las Vegas, it seems as if I need to allow a transition time, you know, to mentally go from earth, rock, water and soil living to glitter, lights, martinis, and girls with bunny outfits.
I always have this sad melancholy feeling when I walk through a casino, particularly late at night and for some god awful reason, despite the way it makes me feel, I do it each and every time, as if its tradition...usually when I first arrive or on my last night.
I do this to observe and I tend to go deeper each time I do it. Since I'm not a gambler, the only thing of interest to me is people watching as I make my way through the maze of red, orange and mustard carpets and hallways that all look the same.
Vegas is typically known for its excellent service, so much so that you sometimes feel as if shop owners, restaurant managers and casino owners practice smiling and reciting phrases that please and woo people into their parlor on an hourly basis....in front of a mirror of course.
People go out of their way to help you, regardless of what their job is. On more than one occasion, the carpet cleaner asked me if I was lost and needed help.
And lost I always was and always am, on every single trip......all the casinos look the same, smell the same, feel the same - even the restaurants become one big blur.
Wasn't that Noodle cafe the same one I ate in last time yet, hmmm, I didn't make it to the Luxor last time. What about the sushi bar? (the other one had the neon blaring lights from the baseball game too, didn't it?)
Side note in case you love sushi - it's incredibly expensive here, so leave it for the coast, either coast, unless you're on an expense account or don't mind forking over triple what you're accustomed to paying.
Oysters were $3.50 a pop at one mid-range seafood restaurant. Honestly, where on the planet are oysters $3.50 a pop except for maybe Tokyo?
It's my first time staying at the Luxor Hotel, a hotel I rarely think of booking since its so much further from the strip and frankly, every time I have thought of its Egyptian exterior, I've said to myself, really, Egypt?
Yet, I really loved Egypt when I went what now feels like a million moons ago, so why not? And btw, it's less crowded and less noisy than other properties, not to mention the fact that it is connected to Mandalay Bay, which has its own charm, a theatre, tons of restaurants and hosts various events, including this year's BlogWorldExpo.
And, I learned for the first time that the Excalibur, the Luxor and the Mandalay Bay all have the same owner.....Imagine this guy's books at the end of the year?
Armed with fun passes, a card that gets me VIP status so I can go to the front of lines, a freebie ticket for a vocalist in a nightclub that starts daily at 10:30 pm and a book with the latest entertainment, I walked from one end to the other, never quite sure when one hotel ended and the next one began.
With the wrong discount card for the wrong restaurant buffet in the wrong hotel, I was a third the way through my meal before I realized...........the manager was so nice about my having the 'wrong coupon,' that I felt as if I should show up at the wrong place often. After all, maybe I was some high spending poker player so who was he to take the chance at being rude? Although, frankly I look like a regular gambler about as much as I do a 10 year old Chinese drummer.
I decided to meander into shops, not because there was anything I wanted or needed to buy but because I was curious whether any of these shops vying for consumer attention (almost desperately so), would be interested in giving products away to 20 high powered bloggers and tweeters. Why not ask? They didn't seem to 'get the value' of this despite the fact that the shops were empty, the shop managers lonely and their prices more often than not, through the top.
Great pair of brown boots I thought. $880, she tells me. What about the cute little baby blue cotton top? $425. More people watching? I think not. At this juncture, I was only here for a day and already people's clothes and smiles were blurring into the slot machine lights as if they were one.
It's not as if I'm new to Vegas either. Given how many times I've been here, you would think I'd have routine down, a system in place and tons of friends living in the burbs who want to come out and play off the strip at conference time.
Unlike CES and the fact that I made it here after the Digital Dealer rush and before the BlogWorldExpo one, there was no one in front of me in the taxi line, probably the first time I've ever experienced a smooth sail from the Vegas airport.
My experience -- each and every time -- is anywhere from an hour to a three hour taxi wait, even if you scare the living daylights out of people by shouting "Anyone going to the MGM? Anyone going to the Luxor? And.....want to share a ride?" I always do this and I always get frightening or blank stares (one of the two), as if I had blue hair, was carrying a gun and wearing black leather studs.
So, I wait like cattle with the rest of them because someone is too freaked out to say, hell yeah, who else in this insanely long line is going to the Luxor? 4 people in this cab, 3 over here. What's wrong with a little more efficiency I'm thinking, so the cabbie can drop us off and then fly back and pick up another 3 or 4.
Back to the lonely people part. When you spent a couple of hours in a taxi line, you have a lot of time to people watch, more time than when you meander through a casino late at night. The faces. The eyes. The stand. The stares.
Why are they all here I always want to know? Do they want to know why the hell I'm here? I'm not wearing a conference badge -- yet; I'm not smoking a cigarette and I'm not on my phone.
Okay, sometimes I'm on my phone and sadly in an addictive kind of way that gamers know all too well, I checked into the McCarren International Airport, waiting waiting waiting for Foursquare to do its thing. Blackberry crash. Reboot phone. Hell, it's not as if I don't have time on my hands. Check in. C'mon Foursquare, stop crashing will you?
Then in my addictive digital silence, I look up again briefly to people watch again. After being reminded how frustrated I am about the inefficiency of airport cab lines, I look back down to 'the device' and tweet how ridiculous the system is and that the damn taxi line still doesn't seem to be moving. AHHHH, but not this time. For the first time, I sailed through and $24 later, I was at my hotel.
Because of the Blackberry, the zoning out, the people watching, the occasional note taking, could someone in the taxi line or the buffet line or the casino tell why I was here in this crazy, lonely, wild, always lit place where people come to forget about life for awhile? Could they tell I was forced here because of some industry show that guilts marketing people into 'showing up?'
Or, was I like them? Dragged to Vegas for some business meeting, a customer convention, a wild girls weekend, a gambler's revenge, a week of non-stop drinking, eating and shows with dancing girls and retired old singers who can't make it anywhere else?
Am I making a judgment? Perhaps, who knows....what I do know is that the place "feels lonely" whenever I come here despite the lights, the smiles, the parties and the entertainment that suggest otherwise.
And, the people who sit all night in front of those slot machines putting in dollar after dollar, look lonely too. There they sit, hoping that one slot machine will bring them 'more,' more of something to fill the void in their non-Vegas lives, the lives they wish were another reality. That's the thing though isn't it?Coming to Las Vegas allows you to live in another reality, not a permanent one, but one you can create to feel better and fill some kind of void, even if its just for a little while.
October 10, 2010
Life Balance: Do Entrepreneurs Care? Not EnoughBelow, Espanola Island in Ecuador's Galapagos last month. Sigh. Blow Hole wild. The air calm. Wildlife spectacular. Common carpetweed everywhere in spectacular colors.
Am heading to Las Vegas this week and thinking about the nature and beauty of this place and thinking and knowing that this is what makes life rich, heading to Vegas despite it's 'fun' factor just seems so wrong!! Why don't we have any (or more in some cases) industry events in places like Montana, Colorado, Washington, Maine, Oregon, North Carolina? Just curious. Really...I'm just curious. Why does business continue to put balance in the background?
Below, not that incredible carpetweed I was talking about (coming in abundance a book soon, but texture-rich lava cactus on Bartolome Island.