Moving … Sort of (Update RSS)

I am moving off of hosted WordPress and onto my own hosted server this weekend. If you come to FastWonderBlog.com directly to read this blog or subscribe to the Feedburner feed, you won’t notice a difference (hopefully). If you happen to be using the WordPress Feed, you will want to update it to the Feedburner feed.

Otherwise, expect a few hiccups. It is likely that something will go wrong, and the site will look strange for a while :-) Rest assured that I know about it and am working on it!

Coming Soon!

I’m going to try doing a series of weekly audio podcast on various community topics. I will be starting with a four-part series of audio recordings made during my recent Portland Web Innovators presentation. I hope to upload the first one this weekend.

Dr. Seuss 2.0

David Pogue at the New York Times wrote an interesting piece about naming in the web 2.0 era:

These days, startups take the lazy way out: they choose goofy-sounding nonsense words. They think they’re being clever by being unclever.

These are all actual Web sites that have hit the Web in the last year or so: Doostang. Wufoo. Bliin. Thoof. Bebo. Meebo. Meemo. Kudit. Raketu. Etelos. Iyogi. Oyogi. Qoop. Fark. Kijiji. Zixxo. Zoogmo.

These startups think that these names will stick in our minds because they’re so offbeat, but they’re wrong. Actually, all those twentysomething entrepreneurs are ensuring that we won’t remember them. Those names all blend together into a Dr. Seuss 2.0 jumble.

(Quote from David Pogue in the New York Times)

I will agree that some of these names are pretty ridiculous; however, naming in the online world today is pretty damn difficult. In the old days, people had to go through the hassle to register a business or trademark a name to prevent someone from using the same name. Now, any domain name squatter can spend a few dollars to register the URL to prevent people from using it.

As a result, all of the good names are “taken” and you have to get pretty creative to find a name that has an available URL and sounds good at the same time. We’ve been trying to name our non-profit for the past month, and just haven’t been able to come up with anything good. Maybe I’ll try browsing through Dr. Seuss books for inspiration. “And then, just to show them, I’ll sail to Ka-Troo/And Bring Back an It-Kutch a Preep and a Proo/A Nerkle a Nerd and a Seersucker, too!” (Quoted from If I Ran the Zoo). OK, maybe not.

Women Dominate Prestigious National Math and Science Contest

This is just really nice to see.

winner picture

In a first for the prestigious Siemens Competition in Math, Science & Technology for U.S. high school students, girls walked away with top honors in both the individual and team categories.

Siemens Foundation President James Whaley says the percentage of girls entering the competition has increased each year; this year, 48% of the contestants were female. Eighty percent of this year’s competitors were from public schools, and one team of finalists consisted of home-schooled girls. Many of the schools whose students were represented also have close ties to nearby universities or research labs. “There are very few [high] schools that have the resources or labs to support this high level of research,” Whaley notes.

(Quote from Business Week)

I’m hoping a good percentage of them will head into math and science careers.

Props to Todd for sending me the link.

Community Presentation at PDX Web Innovators 12/5

If anyone wants to hang out, I will be leading a discussion about community at the December PDX Web Innovators meeting. I am bringing a couple of slides so that I have something to deviate from during the discussion. I’m hoping to spend no more than 5-10 minutes talking before we turn it into a discussion.

It starts at 7PM on 12/5 and is being hosted at ISITE. You can RSVP and get more details on Upcoming. I hope to see you there!

Corporate Blogging: What happens when you leave?

Om Malik posted today about how Motorola zapped the blog of the ex-CTO:

In the pre-blog world, when you left a company, they would escort you out of the building. Now they zap your blog. There are rumors that Motorola CTO Padmasree Warrior had resigned and was leaving the beleaguered mobile phone maker. Well, those rumors must be true. Suddenly all the entires on her popular blog have been zapped. And if you try and go there, you get redirected to a generic Motorola page.

Ouch.

However, when it comes to the web, deleting is merely an illusion. In the comments to the GigaOM post, Dave points about that the posts can still be found on web.archive.org.

When I left Intel, they kept all of my blog posts live. I even heard from a friend that my web 2.0 blog was still more popular than any other Intel Software blog for months after I left the company. :-) Since it was generating traffic, there was no benefit in deleting it.

My gut feel is that removing ex-employee blogs is a rarity and is likely to hurt the company in the long run. Blogs provide valuable content and search engine juice for the company. In the vast majority of cases, keeping the blog live, but removing the employee’s access is probably the best way to handle it.

Other Fast Wonder Posts:

Social Networks, Relationships, and “Friends”

I’ve been hearing quite a bit of discussion lately about how our relationships and the concept of “friends” are evolving as more people spend increasing amounts of time interacting with social networks like Twitter and Facebook.

In a post on the New York Times today, Alex Wright claims that

THE growing popularity of social networking sites like Facebook, MySpace and Second Life has thrust many of us into a new world where we make “friends” with people we barely know, scrawl messages on each other’s walls and project our identities using totem-like visual symbols.

The more time we spend “talking” online, the less time we spend, well, talking. And as we stretch the definition of a friend to encompass people we may never actually meet, will the strength of our real-world friendships grow diluted as we immerse ourselves in a lattice of hyperlinked “friends”?

Still, the sheer popularity of social networking seems to suggest that for many, these environments strike a deep, perhaps even primal chord. “They fulfill our need to be recognized as human beings, and as members of a community,” Dr. Strate says. “We all want to be told: You exist.”

(Quote from Alex Wright in the New York Times)

This implication that online interactions are somehow wrong and less valuable than face to face interactions bothers me a bit. Maybe my use of social networks is less typical due to my relatively frequent travel to conferences, but I find that I can keep in touch with people who I may only see a few times a year through these networks. It isn’t unusual for me to spend a significant amount of time with a few people during the week of a conference and then not see them for another 6 months until we run into each other at some other conference. Through Twitter and Facebook, we can keep in touch and continue to learn and keep up with each others’ current projects (work and personal). This helps us pick back up where we left off, but with insight into what each of us has been doing over the past 6 months.

I limit my Twitter feed (which is private) to people that I personally know, which allows me to Twitter more freely about where I am and what I’m doing. With Facebook, I am a little more open, accepting not only people who I know in the physical world, but also people where I have some online connection. Both of these services help me make stronger connections to the people that I know. I learn about local and remote tech events that my friends are attending and share information about community events that I am organizing. I get together with these people (the ones living or traveling in the Portland area) regularly for lunches, dinners, events, werewolf games, drinks, and more. I also learn quite a bit from these people through shared links, stories, posts, and ideas increasing my personal and work productivity as a direct result of the online interactions. I tend to think that I have stronger relationships as a result of these services, not weaker ones. These people are part of a broader community, and our participation in this online community is no less valuable because some of the interactions occur online.

I think that many people see these interactions happening online in social networks and assume that these are replacing our other interactions. In many cases, and in my case, my online interactions in social networks do not replace physical interactions with real people, they simply provide a way to augment the relationships I have with my friends.

Related Fast Wonder Posts:

Can the Average Person Get Rich Blogging?

Yes and no (there is never a simple answer).

Now that I am back from lounging on the beach, I thought it was time to get back to blogging, and what better way to start than with a debate over whether or not people can really make money blogging. On Read/WriteWeb today, Alex suggests that . Well, yes and no.

I really liked Anne Zelenka’s response on Web Worker Daily. Her take is that

you can earn money because of your blog instead of with it. Blogging can be the centerpiece of your professional promotional and networking activities, leading indirectly to new money-making opportunities. Plus, blogging offers psychological riches — through the opportunities for personal expression and social connection it brings you.

The best reason for an individual web worker to blog isn’t to make money directly with the blog. It’s to boost your online persona, to make professional connections, to learn about your field, and to attract new opportunities, whether paid or unpaid. And note that unpaid opportunities are not necessarily less important than paid ones — because they can provide you with attention, reputation, education, and new connections.

(Quote from Anne Zelenka: Web Worker Daily)

I absolutely agree. I don’t make any money directly off of my blog (no ads here), but it has made a huge difference in my career. My career was in a bit of a lull until I started blogging a few years ago. At the time, I worked at Intel and did my job really well. I received great internal recognition, but almost no one outside of Intel knew who I was.

When I started blogging and actively commenting on other blogs, people started recognizing me. I went to conferences and people would approach me! I started getting emails from people who read my blog and wanted to know if I was interested in being on panels for conferences. While I do not make money off of Fast Wonder directly, I do think that I have made more money indirectly through blogging. Through blogging and getting involved in a bunch of unpaid tech community activities (organizing BarCamp, Ignite, etc.), my career has improved in so many indirect ways (financial and job satisfaction).

Related Fast Wonder Posts:

Everyone’s a Peer. Live with it.

I stole the title of this post from the last two sentences in But Miss, they’re not listening to me, a blog post by JP Rangaswami on Confused of Calcutta.

In his post, JP describes a world where hierarchical command and control structures are being displaced by more democratized networked environments. The days of expert speakers who talk at us while we take notes and passively absorb the information with little or no opportunity for discussion are gradually disappearing.

This post resonated with me and helps to describe my recent thinking about conferences and speaking engagements. I’m finding that I rarely enjoy giving formal presentations where I yammer on and on with a slide deck while people listen to me talk. In these presentations, I don’t get much real time feedback from the audience other than the occasional non-verbal cue (nodding in agreement vs. nodding off, for example), and I learn little or nothing during these presentations.

In contrast, my favorite speaking environment usually happens at unconferences (BarCamp, etc.) where I can lead a lively discussion about a topic of interest by kicking it off with 5-10 minutes of my ideas on the topic and moving quickly to a facilitation role where many people contribute to the discussion. Since each person comes into the discussion with different experiences and diverse views, I learn as much or more from the other people participating as they learn from me.

Panels fall somewhere in the middle depending on the structure. I despise panels where the moderator asks too many questions or where each panel member essentially gives a mini-presentation with little time for audience questions. On the other hand, my favorite panels are similar to my unconference speaking style with a couple of minutes of discussion at the beginning, but opening it up to audience questions no later than in the first 10-15 minutes of the panel. The audience questions help target the discussion to topics that are interesting to the audience, but even more important is what you can learn from the questions being asked. Questions give so much insight into what people are thinking about the topic and what is important to the audience. My Social Networking panel at Defrag was a good example of one that moved into audience questions early, and I think it benefited greatly by the participation.

JP says in his post:

It’s a new world out there. We can’t go around saying “But Miss, they’re not listening to me”. We have to earn the respect of our peers. But remember, in a networked society, everyone is a peer. Your professors. Your children. Your subordinates. Your bosses.

Everyone’s a peer.

Live with it.

(Quote from Confused of Calcutta)

We each come into a discussion with unique and diverse ideas, and we learn by listening and sharing ideas with our peers aka everyone.


Related Fast Wonder Posts:

A Little Web Development Humor