Just because you can doesn’t mean you should

Today’s Boston Globe ran a front page story on a blogging doctor unmasked during a malpractice trial. It appears that the doctor in question – Robert P. Lindeman – had been writing a running commentary under an assumed name of a case very much like his own. Once the plaintiff’s lawyer determined that Lindeman was Flea (the name he used for his blog), the case was quickly settled.

In his blog, Flea had ridiculed the plaintiff’s case and the plaintiff’s lawyer. He had revealed the defense strategy. He had accused members of the jury of dozing.

Blogger unmasked, court case upended – The Boston Globe

I’ve written before that social media and transparency don’t translate to stupid or sloppy and this case demonstrates what can happen when they do. There is a time and a place for everything and when you are being sued for your part in the death of a child (as was Lindeman) it is not the time to pen a humorous and irreverent blog on the situation . . .

[tags]Robert P. Lindeman, Flea, Boston Globe, blogging, malpractice, hubris[/tags]

Back in Maction

Thanks to people’s understanding here at work, I will continue to be able to use my personal system at the office. It’s a big deal for me because I have things set up the way I like them, have all of the applications I need, as well as the content.

When word came down that my system was machina-non-grata earlier today I did try doing everything from my office PC and I can sum up the experience in one word: stinky. Sure it worked, but it involved moving files from one system to the other, dealing with kludgey interface issues, etc.

I really appreciate that I have the freedom and flexibility to work in ways that work best for me and need to make sure that I’m not overstepping any boundaries or otherwise misbehaving . . . Reasonable enough.

[tags]GregPC, two computers, work, home, personal, professional[/tags]

Is this the end of two computers for GPC?

Today an email was sent out from our IT group saying that any personal computers logged in through the company network need to be removed “ASAP.” I pretty much the only person logging in with a personal computer so I guess that means me. . .

Back in March I wrote about my reasoning for using two computers at work and I think the reasoning still stands up. I don’t think it is reasonable for me to necessarily do my blogging, Flickr, Second Life, etc. from my work computer. While some of those things are work-related, they are also personal and portable.

I wonder if this prohibition applies to any outside system? Does this mean that clients, vendors and partners are prohibited from accessing the Internet through our network? Should I assume that the inverse is also true – not work computers accessing the Internet through non-work networks?

This is troubling and disappointing news . . .

[tags]work computers personal professional bummer[/tags]

Swaptree, let me sing your praises

Almost a year ago I went to my first WebInno event. One of the main dish companies was Swaptree. The CEO, Greg Boesel, described a service that would allow people to trade books, CDs, DVDs and video games. As a pretty heavy reader, I liked the idea; but at the same time, I wondered how it would operate and even more importantly – how it would make money.

I bumped into Greg at a subsequent event and I had to revise my thinking based on that conversation. Greg also invited me to be a part of the Swaptree beta and it has totally changed the way I think about books and reading.

My first trade was on January 31st. I swapped “The Seventy Great Inventions Of The Ancient World” for “The World is Flat.” As it happened, Greg was the person I was trading with and so rather than mailing the books we met and made the exchange in person. It turns out that we have similar taste in reading so this was the first of many trades between us.

After a few trades, I asked if I could write something about Swaptree, but Greg asked that I hold off as they were still in the midst of a private beta. That beta is over and when I asked him again last night he said by all means. (In fact, he apparently had emailed my a while ago to say it was OK but I missed the note . . .)

So now, without further ado, let me sing the praises of Swaptree.

As mentioned above, Swaptree allows people to trade books, CDs, DVDs and games. It does this my asking for a list of items you’d be willing to trade, as well as for a list of items you’d like in return. I have a fairly large collection of books (700-1000 or so) and came up with about 80 that I was willing to trade.

Adding books is easy. You simple enter the ISBN number and Swaptree gathers all of the relevant information (they use the Amazon database). You can also enter the number using a bar code scanner if you have access to one. Once your book is in the system, you need to rate its condition and confirm that you are willing to put it up for trade. You can also add comments if you like. And that’s it. Your book now awaits an opportunity to be transformed into something new.

Building the list of items you want feels like shopping. The database of materials is extensive and relatively well organized (there were more than a few cases of mis-classification). Right now I have about 20 items on my want list.

With these two sets of information, Swaptree starts trying to find ways to get you what you want. If the system were limited to simple one-to-one trades things probably wouldn’t work. Fortunately, Swaptree is able to do trades that involve multiple people. This greatly increases the likelihood of success.

Once a potential trade is available, the system notifies everyone and gives them the opportunity to accept or reject the trade. If it’s rejected the process starts all over again. If it’s accepted, you’re given the shipping address of the person receiving your item (remember, this person may or may not be the one sending your item to you).

Swaptree provides the ability to print postage right on the site – which is great because if I had to go to the Post Office to do this I wouldn’t. Media rates are low and mailing a book is generally only a few dollars. The site has some tracking tools but they are spotty (the data is provided by the USPS so Swaptree doesn’t have much control over this).

I’ve done 20 trades so far and with only one exception they have gone off just fine. The one exception was so bizarre that it doesn’t reflect on the service. (Here’s what happened. A member who I’d traded with before sent me a book. First days, and then weeks, went by. I used the system to contact the sender. The tracker showed that it had been sent but he offered to follow up with the local Post Office. All signs pointed to a simple delay. A few weeks later the package arrived. It was totally ripped apart and had been put in plastic by the Post Office. When I opened it it wasn’t the book I expected. I contacted the sender again. He had never owned the book I received – a 2007 Reader’s Digest hardback edition of “The Phantom of the Opera” – and offered to send my original book back to me (an offer I declined).)

The biggest problem I’ve had is how to queue all of the books I’ve received. At this point I have more than 20 and am not going to be able to read even half of them this year. Now I’ve started using Swaptree for movies and games and have been equally happy with the results.

In the five months I’ve been using Swaptree, the number of books I’ve bought is way down (way, way down); but the number of books I’ve acquired is way up. It’s also given me a way to pass along books that I’ve read and enjoyed to good homes that want them.

There’s more that can be said about Swaptree but I think this gives the basic idea. The company offers a mediated way to exchange tangible content and it’s great. The official launch of Swaptree is happening soon and once that happens the number of items for trade will go through the roof. Check it out.

[tags]Swaptree, books, CDs, DVDs, games[/tags]

WebInno 12 – Scorecard

So WebInno was last night and it was – as always – a lot of fun. I got there early and chatted with a few people, checked out some of the side dishes, had a drink, etc.

I had good a conversations with Greg Boesel from Swaptree. It sounds like things are going very well over there and that they are fast approaching the formal launch of the company. There’s already made trades to be made (last time I looked I think there were 1200 items I could get) so it’s going to be crazy when the floodgates really open.

Ernst Oddsund from Digibug and I chatted for some time – mostly about communities, social media and whatnot. We shared the opinion that the communities created by technology are more important than the technology itself – a point missed by people constantly seeking out the newest and coolest bells and whistles.

After the event, I joined Dave Evans (Digicraft) and John Lester (Second Life) down in the bar for a few extra drinks. That was a good time; but for some reason I felt compelled to disagree with everything that was being said – even though in many cases I actually agreed. I’m not sure why this is but it isn’t new . . .

Afterward, as we walked back toward Kendal Square, a bit of exploring was done. Here Dave and John point the way:

over there

But enough about who I met. Let’s get to the event itself. Yesterday I posted a preview and so I need to check in to see whether I was right or wrong.


The clock is counting down to tonight’s Web Innovators Group forum. Last month I went in with a set of expectations and assumptions and left with totally different opinions of the various companies that were there.

This time, I’ve decided to check out each of the companies and lay out what I think of each so I can compare notes after the fact. Here goes.

Geezeo – billed as “personal finance for the rest of us” Geezeo currently offers mobile and student versions of a planned online personal finance system. I’ll be honest, I don’t manage my money AT ALL. We’ve used Quicken for years and I’ve tried to be good with it but it’s never taken. My wife, on the other hand, is an absolute Quicken maven. I watched the screencast on the service, which was cool (if a little choppy). Basically, it allows you to receive your account balance information as an SMS message. Of course if you happen to have your phone, you could also call your bank and hear your balance . . . The direct to bank approach might involve more key presses but it also means that your personal financial data passes through fewer hands.

Expectation that I’ll be wowed – pretty low. I’m not a big personal finance kind of guy so it’s unlikely that this is something I’d use myself. I also worry about security I guess; but who am I fooling really? I’ll sign up for pretty much anything . . . The fact that geezeo uses gmail as for authentication makes me wonder who’s talking to who on this one. I like that they are using Amazon’s Simple Storage Service if for no other reason than that it allows good ideas to exist more easily.

Chances that I’m way off base – I’m feeling pretty confident on this one.

Survey says – I was not wowed. Perhaps when the full service comes out I will be but access to account balances didn’t do it for me. I’m also pretty skeptical that they will have much success taking on Quicken. Beating Quicken? No. Being acquired . . .?

DNS Stuff – “Welcome to the center of your DNS universe,” the site proclaims. I didn’t realize that I had a DNS universe – much less that it had a center. But enough bad attitude . . . This is a cool site. I like all of the various tools it lays out on the home page and the amount of good educational content on the site. The fact is though that this isn’t something for everyone (not that there’s a problem with that).

Expectations that I’ll be wowed – pretty high. Sure, I may not need or use DNSstuff but I am a geek and like slick networking tools as much as the next guy.

Chances that I’m way off base – I think I’ll be impressed.

Survey says – I was wrong about this one. I was not wowed. Part of it might have been that their presentation was not very good. I felt like it was too technical a story to try to tell in the few minutes they had. Better luck next time.

Enjoymymedia – when I went and checked this out I was pretty excited and impressed. The basis idea is that EnjoyMyMedia allows you to stream content to select users right from your computer. I have a ton of content that is of interest to only a small number of people and I don’t necessarily want to post it all publicly. I also don’t want to have to ask friends and family to sign up for accounts on a bunch of different services so this seemed like a good solution. Until I registered and tried to set it up. Windows only. I wish that was made clear up front somewhere . . .

Expectations that I’ll be wowed – very high. I like the idea and promise of enjoymymedia and hope that there will be a Mac version soon.

Chances that I’m way off base – pretty low.

Survey says – I was really impressed by these guys. The idea is good and the execution is clean and simple. The lack of Mac support is a bummer but it is part of their longer-term plans. I’ll be installing this on my Windows partition today.

imoondo – video classifieds? There are some times when simple = better and this might be one of them. I enjoyed watching Steve make a vegetable omelet but there is a limited amount of time I can spend watching video whose content I could absorb at text (or text and images) in a fraction of the time.

Expectations that I’ll be wowed – pretty low.

Chances that I’m way off base – pretty low.

Survey says – I’ll be honest, as much as I wanted to go over and check out what they were doing I didn’t make it.

TownConnect – it seems that there are a lot of efforts under way to create online communities around towns and cities. I think it’s a great idea but no one has seemed to crack the code. There is outside.in, local wikis and online communities started by town governments, boosters and newspapers. Another hat in the ring isn’t a bad thing but I don’t get what makes this one different or better.

Expectations that I’ll be wowed – pretty low.

Chances that I’m way off base – pretty high. I could be totally wrong about this one. It’s possible that once I hear more about it I’ll be totally blown away.

Survey says – Again, I didn’t make it over to their table; but I did have a chance to talk to several people about what TownConnect is doing. The consensus seemed to be that it isn’t terribly interesting.

Video Ad Factory – maybe these guys should hook up with the guys over at imoondo? If one video ad system is good, does that make two better? Hard to say. I will say that Video Ad Factory has a more polished look that imoondo; and I also liked the fact that I could take the videos and put them on my site if I wanted. (If that’s possible with imoondo, my apologies). I don’t know – there’s something to be said for that homemade look that doesn’t come across with many of the videos on this site.

Expectations that I’ll be wowed – lowish

Chances that I’m way off base – pretty good. I can imagine that these guys will have some pretty good stuff to say for themselves.

Survey says – I was not wowed. I spoke with a couple of guys from the company; checked out their stuff in more detail but didn’t get a good sense of the business model or unique value they offer. It was nice looking and all but that probably isn’t enough. I was talking with Rod Begbie about them (and imoondo as well) and the problem with both is that people want to scan classified ads quickly, not sit through multiple videos.

You Have Not Changed One Bit – besides having the most awkward domain name I think I’ve ever seen, this is one strange idea. It allows you to try to match then and now photos. The idea is that you’d use it when organizing a reunion. It was fun trying to match the photographs but it’s hard to imagine that this is enough to sustain a business.

Expectations that I’ll be wowed – low

Chances that I’m way off base – pretty low

Survey says – I was not wowed. I spoke to Erik Sebesta for a while and it’s a cute application and a nice idea but it’s hard to see it being a real business. Somehow they have been granted a patent on this idea – something about score-based contests that involve matching then and now photographs. As I said to Erik, someone in the Patent office must have been drinking that day . . .

So there are my predictions for tonight’s event. Check back tomorrow to see if I was on target or way off base.

I was more or less on the money with my expectations. Kudos to me. Despite not being blown away by any of the companies (with the possible exception of EnjoyMyMedia) it was a good event. Having a venue like this for early stage companies – and the people that play around them – is important and WebInno is fostering a real sense of community.

[tags] WebInno, Geezeo, DNSStuff, EnjoyMyMedia, iMoondo, TownConnect, VideoAdFactory, You have not changed one bit, Greg Boesel, SwapTree, Dave Evans, John Lester, Ernst Oddsund[/tags]

Social Media Club/Boston – 5/17: (Getting a) Second Life

Last night the Social Media Club/Boston had a real humdinger of a meeting. Sponsored by Text 100, the topic was Second Life. The meeting was at the Harvard Club on Comm Ave in Boston and there were well over 100 people – making it one of the biggest events to date. It started out with snacks and pop – how nice. People from Text were helping others create avatars and explore Second Life. At the appointed hour, we all made our way to the Massachusetts Room, where – under the watchful gaze of great American heroes and statesmen – we were treated to an excellent panel.

The panel was John Rodzilla, Emerson College; Drew Stein, Infinite Vision; John Lester, Linden Labs; Mike Askew, Fidelity; and Aaron Uhrmacher, Text 100.

Ken Peters from Text acted as the moderator and kept things flowing with good questions for each of the panelists. I’ve not included his questions in the following summary.

John Lester started by saying that looking at Second Life today reminds him of the early years of the Web. Every communication medium, he pointed out, has been hard to adopt at first. He cited the early days of film when the were essentially recorded plays, and the telephone which was initially treated like the telegraph. Over time people come to understand how to put technology to work and Lester is starting to see that process happening in the ways people are using Second Life.

Mike Askew explained that Fidelity stared using Second Life about six months ago. His group functions as a think tank within the company and he wanted to explore the possibilities for collaboration that Second Life offered. He believes that business-to-business is the best place for Fidelity to start and they have established a briefing center similar to the physical one they have here in Boston. Lester pointed out that Linden Labs uses Second Life as their meeting and collaboration venue.

Drew Stein talked about businesses’ changing expectations around their participation in Second Life. Many of them seem to want their 15 minutes of fame for being there, want to grab some headlines for being there and that’s pretty boring. At this point, Stein explained, people have figured out the what and the when and the how of Second Life– now we need to address the why . He no longer looks what he does as Web development, now he says, they need to think more deeply and help clients understand how Second Life fits into an overall interacting strategy. When working on a project, Stein asks two questions – how can this be made fun? and what would Walt Disney do? He views Infinite Vision (and Linden) as an entertainment company.

He made some good points – especially on the importance of considering a company’s broad goals – but he did come across heavily on the tools and functions side of the equation.

Aaron Uhrmacher suggested the need for balance. Second Life can’t just be about entertainment. It’s also an opportunity for people to develop new and different relationships with brands. Over the last 10 months three phases: being there, becoming involved in the community and then integrating Second Life in the real world business activities.

I talk a lot about brand myself sometimes, but listening to someone else talk about it made me wonder what does a relationship with a brand mean? And as much as I like Second Life (and I do) how helpful is it as a brand relationship tool at this point? The realism is still not there, the performance can be spotty and frankly these things could point to a rocky relationship. The fact of the matter is that these are details that will be worked out as the technology improves.

Lester described the power of Second Life as its ability to create a sense of community. Once a community exists it needs to be maintained through interactivity. This is an important point and one that many people and companies don’t get. It gets back to points that Stein and Uhrmacher – people want to start just by being there and getting their 15 minutes of fame without thinking through the meaning or implications. Lester sees this starting to turn around as more people understand the interactive nature of community in Second Life.

As Fidelity considered using Second Life, it became a big debate within the company. Askew said that it was the enthusiasm of senior management that overcame the early concerns. One of the important things for Fidelity is the social aspect of meetings in Second Life. Conversations take place and trust in built in meetings – whether in person or in Second Life – that just isn’t possible with conference calls. In Second Life meetings people start to talk in small groups and socialize much more. Askew thinks that this provides a higher quality interaction.

Lester believes that this is because of the sense of place in Second Life. On the phone everyone is just a voice, and multiple voices quickly become confusing. Linden is working on spacialized audio which will allow voice interaction adjusted for peoples location and proximity. This well, he feels, add to the realism without the problems of muddled conference call audio.

Uhrmacher was asked to provide some communication lessons he’s taken away from his work with Second Life. The first phase, he said was for people to go and watch, get cards, etc.; but not much interaction. Now he is starting to see more companies staffing Second Life and engaging with people in the space. There is also an organic evolution of groups and communities with some of the interactions moving beyond Second Life .

Stein felt that customers my not be fully on board yet but that they will be. He feels that older people don’t get social media but that 15 year-olds do and so businesses need to starting thinking of how things like Second Life will fit into their communication mix for the future. Second Life, he believes, is the next generation of the web – it is why brands like the Weather Channel are there now.

I continue to wonder if the claims of social media as a youth movement are valid. It seems like a real oversimplification to me. I’m sure that there are some social media elements that are more appealing to different demographics and age cohorts and I wish someone (maybe the Pew Center?) would do a social media census to clear this up for everyone.

Lester spoke of the potential merging of various virtual worlds. The fact that much of Second Life is open source will allow for this integration and interoperability and the more people that get in there and start hacking away with the tools the better.

Askew brought up some of the issues the stand in the way of Fidelity using Second Life as a B2C tool. On the top of the list were identity and security – issues, frankly with any social media platform. The argument was made the people invest time and energy into their avatars and so maintaining a persistent identity in Second Life is possible. I didn’t get the impression that Askew or Fidelity would be satisfied with this. The reason it’s less of an issue for B2B is that Fidelity can invite specific people to specific locations and control who joins or participates in a meeting.

John Rodzilla was asked to discuss how Second Life might function from a literary perspective. He explained that it depends on the author or publisher. There are already a number of authors who are active in Second Life now and Random House recently held a book group for The Time Traveler’s Wife which went well. He also pointed to Info Island – where real people are staffing a service to help people find real world information.

I had a chance to talk with John after the session and wish that he’d had more opportunities to participate in the panel. Given the flow and themes that were discussed though this wasn’t the case.

Stein was asked about the barriers to entry. He said that they are lessening every day but that even with executive support and buy-in you still need to create something that makes sense.

At this point, members of the audience began asking questions. The first was around audience type, size and where they congregate. Stein talked about the four islands they build for the Weather Channel. One of them was designed to show surf. Very quickly, the surfer community within Second Life made their home on this island because it had the best waves. An interesting answer, but not what the questioner was looking for. Prompted, Stein began to describe the Linden traffic system. Lester jumped in to talk about how they are creating sensor-based measurement systems to see where people are spending time and are coupling this with survey data to get a better view of audience behavior.

Uhrmacher said that there basically three main audience groups – those looking to be entertained, to be educated and to conduct business. Their levels or participation depends on the nature of the event or space they are visiting. He pointed out that each sim can accommodate about 50 people. Stein said this number was too low and that he’s conducted events with close to 100 people; and that some events, like the Suzanne Vega concert, have been viewed more than 10,000 times.

This discussion prompted Lester to mention that they are working to improve concurrency; but the fact remains that server resources are limited and that even traditional Web sites can run into trouble with heavy volume. He started to make the argument that Second Life’s limit on the number of people in a space was actually a nice benefit – you know, because it keeps events on a human scale and allows interaction. I pointed out that at a concert I don’t necessarily want to interact with everyone else in the audience but with my friends and the artist.

It brought to mind for me the fact that not all of our time in the real world involves engaging with the people around us. There are times when we just want to be able to go about our business without having interaction thrust upon us. Stein had made a good point earlier in the discussion that they always try to work with clients to understand their goals and reason for wanting to get involved with Second Life – and that there are times when it doesn’t make sense. I think it can often make sense but that we all need to take a breath and not assume that time spent in Second Life needs to be all engagement all the time.

Askew built on the theme of interactivity by explaining that they are faced with different levels of ability to deal with interfaces. They are trying to create a level playing field that will work for all audiences.

One mistake that people make, explained Uhrmacher, is that they are still focused on trying to replicate the real world in Second Life. Until you’ve tried it, it is hard to conceptualize. Once people do try it and become engaged they begin to realize that duplication doesn’t make sense. His counsel is to try something different in Second Life.

Peters asked everyone to project the development of Second Life a few years into the future.

Rodzilla thinks there will me more meetings occurring and the people will be more active in assisting one another. He referred back to the live reference assistance available on Info Island and thinks that this type of think will become more common.

Stein expects to see a deeper level of immersion and avatars able to travel between different virtual worlds. He also expects we’ll be seeing more fun to. He thought it was interesting that no one had discussed mashups in virtual worlds and thinks that this is also something that will be come more and more common as people begin mixing different media types in Second Life. Finally, he suggested that people should begin asking themselves how they can use Second Life to have a positive impact in their real lives.

While Stein was speaking, Lester’s avatar kept changing on a screen to the right of the panel. One questioner, perhaps prompted by this, asking if all of this was actually really engaging for people.

Uhrmacher thought that Second Life generates the same degree of interaction and pressure to interact as exists in the real world; and that companies – recognizing this – will attempt to engage and entertain people to bring them back. They still have to fulfill their brand promise though in a way that is more compelling than a traditional Web site. I don’t think I buy this idea that one experiences the same kind of interaction of pressure to interact that one does in the real world. While there is certainly some very cool stuff in Second Life there are also vast stretches of nothing that are not especially compelling or interactive. On top of that, I often don’t want to necessarily interact with the people I see in Second Life. Not because they’re bad people or anything but because I generally don’t strike up conversations with strangers in the real world either.

I was talking with Hiawatha Bray from the Boston Globe after the event about this idea on ad hoc interaction with strangers. There are plenty of times when I go into a store simply to make a purchase. The fact that there are others in the store – potentially shopping for the same item as me – doesn’t make them fair game. We joked that if you started talking to everyone about what they were doing, buying, thinking, etc. you’d probably be escorted out of the store by security.

Anyhow, back to the question of Second Life ability to really engage. Lester explained that his background is neuroscience and that one of the things that our brains do really well is filling in cognitive holes. He went on to explain that when you are in Second Life, because you are interacting with real people in three dimensional space, your brain begins to function as though everything in the space is real. This is one of the reasons people get so immersed in Second Life.

Another questioner wanted to hear the panels thoughts on the experience of construction and creation in Second Life – an important aspect that is often overlooked.

Uhrmacher agreed that co-creation is really important to Second Life and that more and more, members of the community are being invited to participate and build. (I took this to mean that the community was being invited to build by a company or other entity within Second Life rather than to build for themselves.)

The issue of identity and authenticity came up again. Lester explained that they are working on ways for people to prove who they are – the first step will be age verification – but that this is a challenge in all online environments. Askew said that this is really hard to create secure and authenticated identities for financial services but that they had to deal with it on the traditional Web as well. Developing standards will be critical – especially as people want to move their identities from one world to another.

Someone else wanted to know how does the business aspect of Second Life works and how much it costs. Stein explained that it starts with fixed costs (which are sent by Linden Labs). After that, you need to look at what you are trying to accomplish – the effort, scope and creativity will determine the ultimate cost. He went on the say that the costs are comparable to developing a good Flash site.

I called him on that, point out that a good Flash Website would probably be seen by more people. Not necessarily, he said, at any given time there are 30,000-40,000 people in Second Life and no Web sites have that kind of concurrent traffic. That may be true, but it still doesn’t make sense. A more correct analogy would be to look at all of the concurrent users of the Web itself (I’m willing to bet it’s a lot more than 40,000). I personally think that the whole numbers discussion about Second Life is immaterial. The fact remains that at any given time there are a ton of people on there; but they are all over the place. This means that investing to develop a presence may not pay off in the short term; but the same was true of the Web and that changed very very quickly.

That was essentially the end of the formal panel portion of the evening. I spend some time talking with John Lester and Hiawatha and enjoyed myself throughly. I was also able to catch up with Stein and Rodzilla before night was out. All of the panelists did a great job. I especially enjoyed my conversation with Stein at the very end of the evening.

Second Life – and other worlds like it – are here to stay in one form or another and it was a good topic for the the evening’s meeting. The next meeting will be on June 7th at the Watertown Public Library and will be focused on the business case for social media. Cymfony will be the sponsor.

[tags]SMCBoston, Social Media Club, Social Media, Second Life, John Rodzilla, Emerson College, Mike Askew, Fidelity Investments Center for Applied Technology, Drew Stein, Infinite Vision Media, John Lester, Linden Labs, Aaron Uhrmacher, Ken Peters, Text 100[/tags]

The Same All Over The World

I can’t stand the how much the differences between people are emphasized; and how those differences are used to fuel hate and jealousy and hurt and hardship.

If you think about it, the world we share right now was once just an empty void in the vacuum of space. Somehow (and frankly, the specific how isn’t that important) all of us now here, and all who came before and all who will come after share a common origin. And all of us will share the common fate of someday not being here.

Thinking about this made me wonder if there isn’t a way that people can start of share some of the things that make us all the same rather than the things that make us different. I’m a huge fan of Flickr and am often struck, as I look through people’s photographs, by how wonderful we are and how much we have in common. This led me to start a group in Flickr called The Same All Over The World.

Bert Kommerij, whom I met through Flickr, posted on the idea yesterday and it prompted me to try to get more people more involved.

The idea is to collect photographs of people which share some common elements:

– Wearing an outfit that is special/meaningful to them
– Seated outdoors in daylight
– In their “natural environment”
– Looking directly at the camera and smiling
– Holding a stone or a pebble (?)
– Tagged with TSAW

What do people think? Can we use social media to do more than create and participate in narrow communities around specific ideas and interests? Feel free to visit the group (there are no photos yet), sign up and share your thoughts on how this idea might be executed. If you’re not on Flickr share ideas here.

[tags]Flickr, photographs, people, same, similar, common, sharing, world, TSAW[/tags]