Monthly Archive for February, 2010

Recent Links

Here are a few interesting things from this week that I wanted to share …

References on Lurking

Why I don’t ask for retweets

What Social Metrics are Organizations Monitoring and Measuring?

The Secret Sauce of Communities

Military Announces New Social Media Policy

Social Media Adoption by U.S. Small Businesses Doubles Since 2009

In Building Communities, Marketers Can Learn From Cults

Can Online Metrics Work?

You can find all of my links on Delicious.

Blogging Elsewhere

Here is this week’s summary of links to my posts appearing on other blogs:

GigaOM’s WebWorkerDaily*

Intel Software Network*

The Crazy Neighbor*

If you want a feed of all of my blog posts across multiple sites, you can also subscribe to my über feed.

*Disclaimers:

  • GigaOM’s WebWorkerDaily: I am a paid blogger for the GigaOM network.
  • Intel Software Network: I provide consulting services to Intel, and these blog posts are one part of my consulting engagement.
  • The Crazy Neighbor: This is a Fast Wonder LLC venture.

Joining Intel as Community Manager for MeeGo

MeeGo_logo_gmBig changes are coming my way in March. I will be joining Intel on March 1 as Intel’s community manager for the newly formed MeeGo open source community. MeeGo was formed out of a merging of the Moblin and Maemo communities, and I am really excited about the opportunity to work on this new project. As I dig into MeeGo and get more familiar with my specific role, I’ll post more details about exactly what I’ll be doing.

This is my second tour at Intel; I first worked at Intel from 2000 – 2006. At that time, I had never worked for a company with less than 20,000 employees. All of my work experience was in large corporations, but I had no startup experience. I left Intel specifically to spend a few years working in much smaller startups and to focus on roles where I would be building online communities. I worked in 2 startups, including Jive Software where I built and managed the Jivespace developer community. When I joined Jive, there were only 50 employees, and a year later when there were nearly 150 people, it started to feel less like a startup. At that point, I decided that it was time for me to break out on my own to do freelance consulting, which was something I had been wanting to do for a while. Freelancing was another first for me, since I had never owned my own business or done any outside consulting.

I have been consulting for almost 2 years, and there are parts of it that I love and parts that aren’t as awesome. I love working with clients to build communities and having copious amounts of flexibility in my schedule and working arrangements. However, I don’t enjoy doing business development, invoicing, and many of the other tedious business tasks. As a freelancer, I pay more in taxes and many things become much more complex, difficult and time consuming: health insurance, retirement savings, etc. There are also the inevitable ups and downs that cause plenty of stress when you are trying to line up that next gig to replace the one that is wrapping up.

The biggest challenge for me is one that sounds almost counter-intuitive, but it is the biggest issue that I have with my freelancing career. By becoming a freelancer, I took my hobbies and turned them into paying gigs. Sounds awesome, doesn’t it? Well, it was great … at first. Recently, I realized that many of the things that I used to do for fun now seemed like work, and they became less fun over time. All of a sudden, activities like blogging, attending events, speaking at events, and more felt like a big weight on my shoulders, since I needed to use these as ways to generate more business. They started to feel more like marketing and less like something that I was passionate about and doing for fun. All of a sudden, my hobbies had mostly disappeared, and I was spending all of my time doing things that felt like work, which has left me burned out. This is the primary reason that I recently decided to go back to corporate life.

I’ve been doing a bit of consulting at Intel, and I’ve enjoyed seeing some of the changes that have happened while I was gone. I’ll be joining the Open Source Technology Center, which has grown since I left, but I still have many friends working on open source at Intel, and I am eager to work with them again. I’ve also been really impressed with how other groups at Intel have embraced social efforts through the work of people like Josh Bancroft, Kelly Feller, Bryan Rhoads and many others.

I’m looking forward to working on MeeGo and am truly excited to be going back to Intel.

Recent Links

Here are a few interesting things from this week that I wanted to share …

Active lurkers – the hidden asset in online communities

Back to Basics: Ecosystem Research – Find Your Community

Wait for It… Emergence Happens

What social media guidelines say about your company

When To Arrange Your Communitys First Meeting And What To Expect

Building online communities for business: A 4 Stage Model for Member Engagement

US Web Usage Landscape Is Shifting

Social Networkers Still Love E-Mail

You can find all of my links on Delicious.

Blogging Elsewhere

Here is this week’s summary of links to my posts appearing on other blogs:

GigaOM’s WebWorkerDaily*

Intel Software Network*

The Crazy Neighbor*

If you want a feed of all of my blog posts across multiple sites, you can also subscribe to my über feed.

*Disclaimers:

  • GigaOM’s WebWorkerDaily: I am a paid blogger for the GigaOM network.
  • Intel Software Network: I provide consulting services to Intel, and these blog posts are one part of my consulting engagement.
  • The Crazy Neighbor: This is a Fast Wonder LLC venture.

Recent Links

Here are a few interesting things from this week that I wanted to share …

Participating in the Social Media Ecosystem

Best Practices in Member Engagement

Online Community Unconference East 2010

10 Ways to Show Your Community Love

How To Drive Blog Traffic: Write Great Headlines

Official Gmail Blog: A new Buzz start-up experience based on your feedback

Official Gmail Blog: Millions of Buzz users, and improvements based on your feedback

Legion of Tech 2010 Board Election Resuts

The State of Social Media Around the World 2010

You can find all of my links on Delicious.

Blogging Elsewhere

Here is this week’s summary of links to my posts appearing on other blogs:

GigaOM’s WebWorkerDaily*

Intel Software Network*

The Crazy Neighbor*

If you want a feed of all of my blog posts across multiple sites, you can also subscribe to my über feed.

*Disclaimers:

  • GigaOM’s WebWorkerDaily: I am a paid blogger for the GigaOM network.
  • Intel Software Network: I provide consulting services to Intel, and these blog posts are one part of my consulting engagement.
  • The Crazy Neighbor: This is a Fast Wonder LLC venture.

SXSW Interactive Party at Beer and Blog

Are you going to Austin for SXSW Interactive in March? Not going, but wish you were going and want to hang out with other geeks? Want to learn more about SXSW so that you can go next year? If the answer to any of those questions is yes, you should join us at a special pre-SXSW party at Beer and Blog on Friday, February 26th from 4pm – ??.

Since this is a community organized event, you’ll be buying your own drinks, but it will be just as fun! We’ll be pairing up with Portland Beer and Blog for this event, and it will be a great opportunity to chat with others about sxsw. We can find out who else is going and talk about ways to stay in touch at the event. If you are new to sxsw, you can get some tips from the experienced attendees. SXSWi is my favorite large tech event held every March in Austin, TX. SXSW is also referred to as spring break for geeks, not that I expect the parties to sway your decision to attend (*cough*).

The Details:
Friday, Feb 26, 2009 from 4:00pm – ??
Green Dragon Bistro & Brewpub
928 SE 9th Ave, Portland, Oregon 97214
RSVP on Upcoming

Reflecting on Shizzow

shizzow_colorAs many of you know, I was the community evangelist and one of the co-founders of Shizzow, a location-based service designed to help you find and hang out with your friends. Last week we made the difficult decision to shut down the company behind Shizzow and let it live on as a side project for Mark Wallaert while Ryan Snyder and I officially moved off of the project. The sad reality is that the number of users were dwindling, and we had little time to devote to Shizzow, so we thought this was the best option for everyone involved. I wanted to spend a few minutes reflecting on Shizzow and what I learned from it.

First, I want to make it clear that I do not regret a minute of the time that I put into Shizzow. It was an incredibly fun project, and Mark and Ryan were amazing people to work with. We had an amazing community of users here in Portland, and I met so many new friends as a result of my work on Shizzow. I also learned quite a bit throughout this process, and the time that I spent on Shizzow was worth the education I received as a result.

There are a few things I would do differently if I had to start over, even if some of these things go against traditional business advice:

  • Spend less time and effort focused on the business during the early days. Having a business model, financial projections and a VC pitch isn’t worth much without users. Focus on the users first, and then spend time on the business after you’ve fully validated that you are going to have enough users to turn it into a business. Spending too much time on the business in the very early days leaves less energy for the product. I know this goes against much of the traditional startup advice, but this is critical for people with limited time who are starting something in addition to their regular day jobs.
  • Start small and move up. Shizzow was set up with heavy corporate processes from the start. For example, we were a C corp, which involved a lot more paperwork, effort and legal expenses when we could have started as an LLC and moved to a C corp later only if we needed it. Starting with the minimum effort needed to get going and growing as needed would have been a better choice for us.
  • Fast is better than perfect. Shizzow was built to scale to hundreds of thousands or millions of users, which made for a rock solid product, but it also took too much time. As a result, we entered a little too late in the game. In the future, I’d focus on getting something out early and worry about scalability later as needed. Don’t get me wrong, the product should be built on an architecture that is capable of scaling to large numbers of users, but you don’t need to start optimizing for them until they start to materialize.
  • Have better plans for growing the user base. We definitely underestimated the difficulty in growing our user base outside of Portland. We should have spent more time on outreach to people outside of Portland and making it easier for new users to get started with Shizzow.

There are also a few things that I wouldn’t change:

  • Start with great people. I love working with people who are smart and fun to be around, and I had a great time working with Mark and Ryan. I learned new things and have new friends as a result of Shizzow.
  • Focus on community. We had a great community of users in Shizzow, and we spent a lot of time fixing bugs and making changes based on the community feedback. We also had a great community of developers who spent countless hours hammering on the API and attending our regular developer meetups over drinks at the Green Dragon.

I thought it was important to spend a few minutes reflecting publicly about my experiences with Shizzow in the hopes that other people can learn from it as well. While it’s always a little difficult to let go, I think it was the right time.

A heartfelt thank you everyone who used Shizzow and supported us over the past year. Finally, a shout out to the person who created this video. I love it!

Consequences of Forrester Limiting Analyst Blogging Activities

ForresterForrester has recently made a decision to limit blogging activities by analysts to Forrester branded blogs for any topics related to their research coverage area. Forrester analysts can continue to blog about vacations or other personal topics on their own blogs, but they will only be able to blog on the Forrester website for topics that they also cover as part of their role as a research analyst.

SageCircle has a more in-depth analysis of the issue, including an official statement from Forrester. According to SageCircle:

“Forrester CEO George Colony is well aware of that savvy analysts can build their personal brands via their positions as Forrester analysts amplified by social media (see the post on “Altimeter Envy”). As a consequence, a Forrester policy that tries to restrict analysts’ personally-branded research blogs works to reduce the possibility that the analysts will build a valuable personal brand leading to their departure. In addition, forcing analysts to only blog on Forrester-branded blogs concentrates intellectual property onto Forrester properties increasing the value of the Forrester brand.”

“Because there are relatively few analysts at Forrester and large firms that have personally-branded research blogs, this new policy will likely have relatively little short term impact. However, policies like this might hamper future analyst recruiting efforts limiting the type of individuals wanting a job at a firm.” (Quoted from SageCircle)

Given the current economic situation, I agree that this decision is unlikely to have much short-term impact on Forrester, but the long-term effects could be devastating. I suspect that several of their analysts will leave over this decision, although they may wait until the economy starts to improve before making the jump. I also think that they will have a hard time recruiting top talent. Very few people who have built active blogs in their areas of expertise will be willing to give them up. I know that I would never consider working for Forrester under these restrictions.

With that said, I understand why Forrester is making this decision, but I don’t agree with it. I suspect that it is in part an overreaction to several recent high-profile departures from Forrester, including people like Jeremiah Owyang and Charlene Li. While the desire to have all of the content written by Forrester analysts in one place is understandable, there are other ways to pull in the content than by limiting blogging on other websites.

I have been reading Jeremiah’s blog for a long time, and I frequently ran across Forrester research through his blog that I might not have found otherwise. Allowing people to continue to blog in places where they already have a following drives more people to Forrester’s research. Yes, their analysts continue to build a name for themselves, which also reflects positively on Forrester, but they also provide valuable exposure to the research outside of Forrester’s traditional channels. Dennis Howlett at ZDNet provides some more insight into the value that bloggers with an established following brought to Forrester in increased revenue over the past year or so.

It was interesting to read Augie Ray’s perspective. He recently joined Forrester as an analyst, and here are a few of his thoughts on the issue:

“Am I thrilled at the prospect of giving up Experience: The Blog, my personal/professional blog?  Well no—it’s become part of my digital identity and represents thousands of hours of time and effort.  But I also understand Forrester’s reasons for the changes.  There are obvious benefits to the company of aggregating intellectual property on Forrester.com, including Search Engine relevance and creating a marketing platform that demonstrates the breadth and depth of analysts’ brainpower and coverage.”

“I’ll be sad to see Experience: The Blog go, but I’m also looking forward to digging into the new Forrester blog platform.  There, I will continue to do what I’ve been doing for years on my personal blog:  Sharing news, offering insights, connecting with others, asking for input, and—most importantly—continuing to build my reputation within my field.” (Quoted from Experience: The Blog)

This decision is generating some high profile criticism, and I hope they reconsider this decision. These types of restrictions just aren’t practical in today’s environment where our jobs and personal lives are becoming blended, particularly through social content on blogs and Twitter.