Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The Boots Were Made for Walking to SXSW

Like a kid who chomped on his Wonka Bar and bit into a golden ticket, I found out I would be attending South By Southwest in Ausitin, TX this year. Not only is SXSW the epicenter for cool music and film, but it's also the hottest spot for social media geeks... like me.

I immediately reached out to a few friends who are familiar with the event, which is famously a madhouse, for some advice. I got three tidbits worth passing on.

1. Go to the events that interest you and you want to go to. Don't go the ones you feel you should go to.
2. Expect to run on little sleep.
3. Wear comfortable shoes.

I think that's great advice. I'm going to add two things. Call for a cab early and always carry your phone charger if you can.

I'll keep you posted on the madness as best I can from Austin. I am psyched.... 'cause I got a golden ticket!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Don't Just Read the News, NewsiT!

Are you attending the Veteran's March for Ron Paul today in Washington, DC? Do you want to help cover the story for the news? Well, you don't need a job at a network or major newspaper. All you need is your desire to report the facts... and maybe a smart phone. Now you can help NewsiT cover the story, along with a bunch of similarly motivated people from all walks of life.

NewsiT is a new platform built to crowd source news from people in the real world, experiencing or witnessing the events as they happen. All you have to do is visit the assignment section of their web site to see the open news assignments. Once you pick something that interests you, you have your choice of small tasks to do. It could be as simple as uploading a picture or it might be a short interview with a town official.

Each NewsiT "correspondent" earns points & badges each time they contribute to a story.

The magic is that by providing several, short, attainable tasks, it's very easy for people to actually finish their assignments. And as more people add to the story, the more perspective you get on the topic. The folks back at NewsiT are news professionals and put the content through the journalistic process to create an amazingly thorough and compelling story.

Below you'll see a picture of some U.S. Vets marching to the White House as part of the Ron Paul March. If you want to contribute to this or any other NewsiT project, check out their web site. ( And you can follow them on Twitter at @younewsit.

I'll be with NewsiT at South By Southwest this year, in Austin, TX. If you are going to be at SXSW, please let me know or look for the NewsiT booth. --

Friday, February 3, 2012

Cookies That Are Hard To Swallow

Riding home from New York on the train yesterday I noticed something interesting. The signs on the train always catch my eye for the first few minutes. They range from scotch ads to airlines and investment firms. But this time it was different. It was four different ads for Google. Google has been hitting the airwaves on TV a lot lately, so I figured this would be along those lines. You know, look at all you can do with the Google suite of sites and platforms.

But when I took a closer look, I couldn’t believe what I was reading. It was basically a description of cookies… what they are, why they are used and best of all, how to delete them. The gist was that cookies help a site remember you so you don’t have to start all over each time you visit.

I have to admit, I felt a little weird standing up, walking over and snapping a picture of the sign, but I did not care. I had to do it. And it’s not THAT uncommon these days, I guess.

I had to get a picture because of all the times I have had to explain cookies to people and then how to delete them. Not only did I want to steal some of their wording, but I thought it was a fascinating commentary on the current internet climate.

If you are on YouTube or Google you probably have seen the overt messages about the upcoming privacy policy changes. Or maybe you’ve read one of the countless articles retweeted on Twitter recently that explain and comment on it. If you have not, you should read up. There are going to be a lot more eyes on your information, particularly your Gmail, that you will want to be aware of.

Whether the new Google changes are good or bad, I am not here to comment on. I just thought that it was an amazing case of education, proactive damage control and PR to help deal with the potential backlash that will come when this all goes live.

Cookies are one of those things that many people don’t fully understand and instantly instill an aura of distrust. It’s funny that a word like “cookie”, that had always been such a happy term, has morphed into the poster child of the Big Brother Era.