Friday, February 24, 2006

What We Will Discuss @ BrainJams Berkeley

What BrainJams Berekely Participants Want to Know Here is a mindmap of the answers we received to the question "What do you want to learn at BrainJams?" Click on the image or here for a larger view. The MindMap file will be available from within the BrainJams Community Site at the end of the day tomorrow along with the notes we are going to take on the topics we dive into deeper.

Unfortunately I have not heard back from the people at MindJet in several weeks, so a lot of things we hoped to do with the MindMaps won't be happening. Instead we will be using the Wiki capabilities inside the Drupal community. Not as cool, but just as good if not better for ease of use.

Social Bookmarking Tools - Commoditization Continues

Steve Wrubel talks about the crazy, overheated Social Bookmarking space - he is right in that there are too many of these services out there and a shakeup is coming fast, but thinking that the game is over because Yahoo! bought delicious is really Ri.dic.u.lous

I don't believe Google has even touched the market yet, but you can bet it will once things start to get shaken up. More importantly, some of the existing one's will survive and thrive in consolidation. Pluck certainly has a vision for the bigger picture though the verdict is still out and they have not received wide spread recognition yet as I thought they should have had by now.

What it really comes down to once again is that all the talent is dispersed and competing instead of collaborating towards common goals. Though it is supposed to be about the work, the users and real values now, it is still about the money and the dreams of a big GYM buyout or perhaps even public exit... Unfortunately for them, and for us, this is something that 200 different, very weak brands with commodity products will never ever do.

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A Good, Happy and Free Life - Living The Four Agreements

One of the reasons for my blog post yesterday on giving credit where credit is due is that The Four Agreements has been coming up again and again lately. Mike Prince of Mobido asked me about it the other night at MashupCamp, I talked about it the other day with Grace Davis at WoolfCamp and I pulled it out the other night to read a few passages. So it seems like a good time to tell a short version of the story of how I came to learn of his work and the good work of one of his students named David Dibble. But first, let me explain what the book is, what it says and why I believe it is so important.

Simply put, I feel he has hit on the core universal truths for living a good, happy and free life. In essence the most important 'rules' for being human. When I looked within myself and touched the things that pained me most from my life, I found that without exception, all of the pains and heartaches I experienced were a result of these things. As a systems thinker who excels at pattern recognition, these were perhaps the simplest to see and the hardest to correct. In fact, I sincerely believe that living by these agreements goes against the grain of our socialization and in some regards, against our very nature.

But I know from personal experience now, that striving to live by these principles is indeed liberating and my life is generally happier because of it (though I still struggle daily with #2 and #3).
The Four Agreements (from Don Miguel's Web site)

1. Be Impeccable With Your Word
Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others. Use the power of your word in the direction of truth and love.

2. Don't Take Anything Personally
Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you wonít be the victim of needless suffering.

3. Don't Make Assumptions
Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness and drama. With just this one agreement, you can completely transform your life.

4. Always Do Your Best
Your best is going to change from moment to moment; it will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick. Under any circumstance, simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgment, self-abuse and regret.
When I was first introduced to his work, I was on a VisionQuest in Death Valley's Owlshead Mountains with two great guides from Rites of Passage Vision Quest. Mike Bodkin and Linda Sartor are beautiful people who really helped me find my center, though I have struggled to remain there as I often live in my head rather than grounded in my heart - but that is another story for another day. A few members of the group I was with mentioned this book and tried to convey the wisdom it contained. It seemed that the interpretation of one of my fellow questers was a bit skewed and as such I missed a great opportunity to really learn from the book for a few months, but eventually it did jump off the shelves of a local Borders bookstore and it changed my life.

As I finished reading it that night, my head was spinning and my heart leapt with joy as I realized that I had finally discovered this important set of life altering insights. Having recently written my little manifesto, The Noble Pursuit, and with Worldcom's ethics scandal in the news (along with all the others at that time), my first thought was "This is what we need in the business world. I am going to write this book for business." Late at night the following day, I was searching around the Internet to see if there might be something related, when I stumbled upon David Dibble and found that he had already written that book and it was soon going to be published. I excitedly wrote David an email at like 330am telling him my life story and hoping to connect with him.

He wrote back, we talked via phone and he sent me an early manuscript of the book which I devoured and marked up with lots of other thoughts and ideas. He invited me to one of his early training sessions for New Agreements coaching in San Diego - this was even more transformational than the books. It was an incredibly deep, positive experience that really did lay the foundation for a lot of the philosophy I bring to my work around change management and how businesses should operate from authenticity. In fact, it was his suggestion about how to make email more personal that I follow when I sign my emails "With love". I had hoped we would have opportunities to collaborate more, but they never materialized really as I was still seeking my path - though he and his lovely wife Linda have always been within my heart.

More recently, as I noted back in December, I had a chance to talk with him when I was trying to figure out what ice breaker to use for our BrainJams event in Menlo Park at SRI. He was kind enough to teach me about the hula hoop exercise which was a big success there as well as in DC. I hope to find the time and space to collaborate again with him on bigger things, though am not sure what those things are yet - I am going to call him tomorrow to see if he might have any more jewels up his sleeve for our Berkeley event, but given the last minute nature of the call, may not even be able to connect with him via phone. Regardless, The New Agreements in the Workplace is still a big part of the knowledge I share through BrainJams and more importantly, the manner in which I share it - from the heart, as a truth teller and always doing my best.

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Thursday, February 23, 2006

Getting to BrainJams Berkeley

We have all the details and some good directions for Saturday's event on the Wiki, but just in case you are more visual, I have posted a Flickr set that will take you from the parking garage to the Lipman Room. Simple, but sweet.

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BrainJams Format Changes for Berkeley

I hinted at this earlier, but wanted to get the details and vision settled before writing it out and trying to explain it. One of the reasons I was so honored to get Lee Felsenstein's involvement with our upcoming BrainJams is that I knew he had been thinking about ad-hoc collaboration for quite some time. In fact, there are several things he always wanted to try, but really could not due to time constraints and traditions with the Homebrew Computer Club. I feel very blessed that we were able to have our own mini-BrainJams the other day near The Fonley Institute offices in Palo Alto, CA that resulted in the following changes to the agenda and the format.

First, though, what might be considered mildly bad news - we are not going to have time for our one-on-one knowledge networking due to changes in the format. Instead, I would ask that you consider coming a little earlier where you can either mix and mingle beforehand - we are hopeful that someone may want to organize a short session to start at 930am, but this is unknown. DON'T PANIC - the schedule, as you will see, is filled with opportunities for what Homebrew called "Random Access" and what we consider "Hallway Conversations". This is an essential part of making the unconference model successful.

I should point out here that we are still leveraging the open space model and still focusing on participant lead discussions. But as I have said in the past, we will always be open to experimenting, trying to improve on our primary goal, which is connecting people, ideas and resources. To this end we have identified four bottlenecks we hope to solve with the new format. 1) The same people choose and lead conversations on the same topics because they are extroverted leaders - this is not a bad thing, but does not allow for a diverse range of conversations in the limited space/time we have available. 2) We want everyone to get the most from the day but this is reliant on the unknown factor of who actually shows up and what knowledge they can contribute. 3) 30 minutes does not allow for people to get into the topics in a manner conducive to deep learning. 4) We need to improve the way that the knowledge shared during the conversations is shared beyond the physical space and encourage the conversations of the day to continue after we leave. We hope this may result in slight improvements to the open space format, but honestly we may find it just doesn't work the way we hope and will make adjustments during the day if necessary.

So what will the day look like?

9:00am - Start arriving, help setup, meet other BrainJams participants, create account on BrainJams community site for sharing notes - coffee, fruit, muffins will be available courtesy of Rate it All

9:30am - Possible knowledge networking sessions (3 mins instead of 5 mins) standing instead of sitting

10:00am - Introductions and review format of day - aka "Tech and Flow". Everyone's three words and Blog URL will be printed in the program, but not their email address - you will need to collect these directly or connect with them through their Blog.

10:15am - Lee and Chris Heuer will kick off a conversation on "Learning from the past" and learning from other disciplines. This is essentially what is happening as a result of their collaboration on the format. But Chris never saw the Homebrew Computer Club format as a model to learn from because he did use the same language. This is an open conversation lead by the two facilitators for the day, it is not meant to be a fireside chat or keynote per se. We want to hear other examples and other insights from participants on this important topic that is at the heart of what BrainJams does.

10:45am - Everyone participates in a large group discussion on what they came to learn for the day based on responses to the registration form questions. During this period of time we will identify the three key themes that will become the focus of the day and each of the three groups. From responses thus far it seems that areas of interest include Blogging, Citizen Journalism, Collaboration, Building Community and just Learning New Stuff.

11:15am - Random Access / Open Hallway Conversations

11:30am - Everyone will choose one of the three groups for initial discussions focused on identifying key issues and/or sub-topics related to their primary group theme. To really have a broad discussion of the theme, essentially mapping out key questions or issues that are of interest to people in attendance. From this we also need to identify if any participants have enough expertise / knowledge to lead a conversation on the most important issues. In a very real sense this serves as an introduction to the theme for people who don't know much about it while enabling those with deeper knowledge to point out what the most important considerations are.

12:00pm - Reconvene. Each of the three groups will have 10 minutes to present the top issues within their theme and get quick positive/negative feedback on their recommendations for the two afternoon Breakthrough Sessions. These will be posted on the board as the afternoon schedule.

12:30am - Lunch will be brought in from Togo's courtesy of Lockergnome and

1:30pm - Breakthrough Sessions. This is pretty much as we have done in the past, but based on the group discussions rather than on the individual who claims the spot fastest. There should be one person who is the conversation facilitator/leader who ideally would be an expert on the subject matter, but will not just be a speaker. This person should keep the conversation on topic and moving, while ensuring that everyone has a chance to be heard. Additionally, each session should be recorded to be Podcast later and each session requires a Note Maker who will be responsible for posting the notes to the BrainJams site.

2:15pm - Capture and Process Breakthrough Session - Everyone will have 10-15 minutes to capture their thoughts on the conversation, work with the note-maker to ensure key points are captured and to post any additional questions that are still lingering to the BrainJams community site.

2:30pm - Random Access / Open Hallway Conversations

2:45pm - Reconvene as a large group to discuss content of Breakthrough Sessions. Each note maker will have approximately five (5) minutes to share what was discussed and let us know if the topic for the next Breakthrough Session has changed at all as a result of the first conversation.

3:15pm - Breakthrough Sessions

4:00pm - Capture and Process Breakthrough Session

4:15pm - Reconvene as a large group to discuss content of Breakthrough Sessions. Each note maker will have approximately five (5) minutes to share what was discussed.

4:40pm - Provide feedback on format and wrap up loose ends for the day.

5:00pm - Day ends, clean up help appreciated.

5:30pm - Meet at Jupiter Pizza for a few beers courtesy of Laughing Squid and Rate it All. If we can get their early enough, the manager will let us have an area for ourselves. We will be leaving at about 7pm.

So that is what we would like to do this time. A bit different, but it feels like a good set of improvements. Many thanks to Lee for sharing his ideas on how to make this work better. We are all really looking forward to seeing each of you and learning from you. Much thanks and love to you all!

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Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Giving credit where credit is due.

I have been through a lot of drama in my day with all sorts of different people from different statures in life. I don't particularly care for drama though I have also created my own share of it. Thankfully I have been reasonably good at keeping it out of my life lately - even when it is being forced on me through the actions of others. As Don Miguel Ruiz says in The Four Agreements, "don't take things personally".

This is perhaps the hardest of the Four Agreements to keep - even more so than "don't make assumptions" - but it is often the most important as it can really throw a curve ball in your day when you are bounding along, happy as a lark and suddenly find out that someone you thought was your friend does something or says something against you, behaving more like a competitor instead of a collaborator.

So what to do when you find out that someone you trusted is actually trying to discredit you instead of working together towards common goals? What to do when someone smiles at you and lies to your face? What to do when you hear from other people the wild things they are saying about you behind your back? Simple. Don't take it personally. It is their problem, not yours, so all you need to do is remain true to yourself and keep living your life with right speech, right action and right intent. Easier said than done - my initial reaction is usually one of anger, but with age and some experience I have learned to let go of most of it - even while the deep hurt remains inside as yet another scar to be healed.

Still, it has never stopped me from being the person I am, from trusting again, from sharing my insights with others or from loving everyone I meet - even when I don't particularly like them. The other day I was talking with Kristie about the many places my 'Idea DNA' resides across the Internet. We discussed the many people I have spoken with - who appropriated my ideas as their own or merely built on top of them without even a word of thanks for the inspiration. Instead of this happening inside a big organization where the person leveraging the ideas would be a boss/supervisor/vp, it has occurred across multiple organizations, in the wild wooly entrepreneurial landscape. I can't begin to post all of these experiences here, but there are nearly a dozen companies or products that were influenced by my insights through conversations with founders or key team members. In each case, it would have been great to get some sort of consulting contract from it. It would have been even better to have been acknowledged as a contributing influence.

While I usually don't like to call people out by name for this sort of thing, this is one story whose time has come.

The most prominent example of where I believe my Idea DNA was appropriated without recognition is with BuzzMetrics. (The most recent situation will be written about another day after I have dealt with the matters personally and directly.) I have never written on this situation or publicly discussed this before beyond conversations with friends, but it is a good point of reference for this post with the intention of highlighting the important issue of honesty and attribution together with the issue of how to deal with people who are seemingly your friend but are perhaps working against you. Their recent acquisition by Nielsen, their subsequent acquisition of Intelliseek and some links sent to me about them being sued by New Media Strategies make it a good time to at least set the record straight regarding my involvement in the story.

If you are wondering, I am not worried about being sued for writing this, because it is all true. I am not making any claims against them, and besides, if they decide to sue they will just end up giving me a bigger platform for the truth which could possibly taint the company's stature more than the recent lawsuits. This is the story of how I met the founders of a little known, barely launched portal called PulpFree and how my Idea DNA was imprinted on their company leading to a change in their business model.

I first met Jonathan Carson and Braxton Robason through Matthew Slaughter, whom I believe I originally met at a Netpreneur event on March 7, 2000 via an introduction from Sacha Cohen - it was the same night that Christopher Locke signed my copy of the Cluetrain actually. It felt like Matt was an old soul, who was smart and on the rise after leaving the Carlyle Group to pursue dotcom fame and fortune like all good MBA's did back in 1998-2000. Matt had made an introduction for me to his VC firm which was playing incubator in Old Town Alexandria. The firm was called Paladin Companies and had not yet moved into their huge 32,000 square foot space - in fact we met over in a temporary office on South Union Street in Old Town. The first meeting with all of them (after giving Paladin an executive summary without an NDA - b/c they never sign NDA's) was in early April of 2000 - the VC (I believe it was Michael Hartman, but am honestly not totally sure without digging up the records from storage) wanted to have the PulpFree technical team (Braxton) review my ideas for Conversal on the technical merits - so they brought Braxton in and I had a discussion with him in the conference room, sketching out the basic models for what I wanted to do. Jonathan came in briefly later and I had a separate conversation about the potential of the conversational intelligence industry with Matthew, Jonathan and the VC.

After pitching my plan for developing a conversational intelligence system, laying out the business model and explaining the backbone of the plan being based on The Communications Strategy, I got the usual VC pessimism about how it could not work and how PulpFree was the smartest, greatest opportunity etc... It would seem that after these conversations, and their follow on conversations with New Media Strategies about possibly working with them, that the PulpFree team may have realized their model was not going to make them money at the time. With the bubble bursting, they, like I, were seemingly forced to drop the B2C angle and look for a B2B opportunity (also something I discussed with them at length). [See an Internet Archive/WayBack machine version of their site from October of 2000 and one from May of 2001.] Funny thing is of course, aggregators are the hottest things right now, so in a sense they were seemingly on track with the PulpFree model, just not at the right time.

At the time we first met, Braxton and Jonathan had just finished working on a spider that I believe they called 'Harvest' which was being used to populate what was called in the now immortal words of Matt, "a portal for smart people - for twenty and thirty somethings who were not happy with the dumbed down content offered by Yahoo! and Lycos". I told them I thought it was utter folly to try to compete with the big portals - especially on what I saw as a flimsy premise for distinction, but they were undeterred and seemingly offended by my challenge to their model. Over the next few weeks I tried to followup but got no more responses from their VC. I did speak with Matt though (supposedly with Jonathan on the speakerphone though I don't recall hearing him speak) and given that I was running out of cash myself, I suggested we work together towards using their spider to mine all of the online personal communications out there on personal web pages, message boards, public chat rooms and especially comment systems. We would use it to analyze conversations, identify key influencers, monitor what was being said and most importantly, to enable companies to engage in the conversations where they were happening - to be proactive with customer service instead of reactive. I also referenced this thinking as eCKM (electronic customer knowledge management as opposed to CRM) and have lots of power point decks on this with original time stamps that support the story in addition to several emails with them.

In one phone conversation with Matt, I suggested that if they could perhaps come up with a few dollars to pay me, I could work out a discounted rate so we could all work together towards making this a real success. To see how we might be able to work together. He responded that he barely had enough money to pay the team he had. I never really heard from them again, though I occasionally saw Matt at various events - in fact I still haven't heard from them or spoken with them actually and until recently, chose to stay away from WOMMA and the whole industry as I would rather not be associated with those who talk about "Pimping word of mouth" or paying people to blog about something without transparency.

After moving to Silicon Valley in 2001, I saw that they had moved offices to New York and changed their name to BuzzMetrics. I tried to reach out to Matt at that time, but never heard back from him. In fact, he is still pretty invisible in the online world and I can find no real traces of what he has done since. The interesting thing is that although they had access to my business plan and I explained my philosophy behind conversational intelligence in detail to them, I feel that they still have not gotten it right - then again, their experiences likely morphed what they did as a result of the needs of customers. While admittedly they became successful with the idea and I did not - I rest comfortably with my opinion that they really never got the big idea and have yet to do it right, despite the fact that others look to them as 'leaders' in the industry - this is a huge opportunity and why I have chosen to invest my time helping others who do 'get it'.

A friend just asked me if I thought they stole my intellectual property - to which I replied that ideas are a dime a dozen, though good ideas like this one was worth considerably more. All I can say for sure is that I feel my ideas influenced their direction and it seems that the DNA of my idea may have been a key chromosome for the birth of their company. If they had just been more open to collaboration instead of seemingly focusing on their equity positions, we all would have been the better for it. Is this sour grapes? No, though I obviously have a tinge of disappointment that I did not make it as big with Conversal - but that was my fault and is separate of my reasons for writing this now despite what all the trolls and attackers may say tomorrow.

So why share this today? Because this is just one example of how I believe my Idea DNA is within the foundations of many different companies which choose to not recognize the contribution - how many other people has this happened to? Millions. And it is just wrong and has no place in The Open Web that is called Web 2.0 - it has no place within an open society that collaborates in the commons. I am reminded of the old VC adage, "100% of nothing is still nothing - you need to share the wealth in order for it the idea to grow".

For me, it has always been about the recognition of the contributions. So when I take pains to recognize the contributions of others with honor, respect and link love, you now know why I do so. When other people, who approach me with hand extended in friendship, seek input or ideas on what they are doing, I gladly offer my insytes and will continue to do so. After all, it is better to have the ideas living in the world than stuck in my head. I just wish I did not keep running into assholes who seem authentic outside but are seemingly still holding onto narcissistic, 'fuck everyone else' beliefs behind false facades. I have gotten better at identifying those people, but occasionally one slips through the cracks as happened recently.

As much as I want to sit at the cool kid's table like everyone else does, I am happy to be me and surround myself with truly genuine people who are respectful, loving and willing to share - and who give credit where it is due. In fact, I prefer to be with genuine people who are respectful of all people rather than those only concerned with power, fame and fortune. Everyone we meet has something of value to contribute - it is our job to figure out what that is.

It is important to point out here that I don't want money and I don't want to stir shit up (though I suppose it probably will given the stature of these guys now). I just want the truth to be set free and I want us all to make sure that the mistakes of the past are not repeated as the market begins to heat up again. I would like to see that the values of authenticity, transparency, honesty, collaboration and accreditation is at the heart of this important era of our economic recovery. For if it is not, we are doomed to repeat ourselves and watch a bubble boom and then bust.

[Disclosure: While I am now consulting with BuzzLogic, a company that might be considered a competitor of theirs, I can assure you that this has nothing to do with why I am sharing this story today. In fact, BuzzLogic would probably prefer I did not write this, but since it is truth and I am now active in this industry in many ways, it is time to set the story straight and also time to speak up to prevent it from happening again. In the future, I won't be as silent as I have been for the past six years.]

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Don't Spread Germs!

Sometimes leading by example isn't enough. So I guess it is time to make a louder statement.

So I launched a new web site/wiki last night with the hope of spreading the message. Don't Spread the Germs ( is a simple WIKI hosted over on PBWiki where I hope people will contribute more ideas, posts and other knowledge about how we can stop the spread of flus, colds and other nasty bugs that make us all sick and miserable.

Maybe we can come up with a viral message to stop the spread of the viral biology...

Or maybe we can just spread awareness of the idea that people who are sick should not be going out in public and getting others sick. I know some people think the possibility of a Flu Pandemic is some conspiracy or something, but history shows us that such a global pandemic is indeed possible if not highly likely. According to an Australian study reported on CNN, a Bird Flu Pandemic could take up to 142 Million Lives worldwide. The economic devastation would plunge the world into a deeep depression that would take quite a long time to recover from. This is why Kleiner Perkins recently announced a $200 million pandemic fund - these guys are some of the smartest in the business and they know where to place their bets.

Many of us have the technology to work from our homes when we are sick, so why don't we? Because we feel compelled to get outside, we want to have the opportunity to meet the right person, we think we have to do it. We don't need to - we need to respect our associates, co-workers, friends and ourselves enough to help other people stay healthy. Don't Spread the Germs! Stay home and maybe one day this attitude can save a few million lives...

If you agree or disagree with this, tag your posts with 'dontspreadgerms' and lets see if we can all work towards making a difference.

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Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Brainjams Berkeley: Your Input Required

As you may have already noticed on our registration form for the Berkeley event this Saturday February 25, we have added in 2 new questions - 1) provide three words to describe yourself and 2) what do you want to learn today? This coupled with the question, what roles do you play (or what hats do you wear?) The goal here is to identify elements of what Lee Felsenstein calls secondary information - the meta stuff about why someone would want to learn from you and who you are. This information will be printed in the program (please register before FRI afternoon!) along with your blog URL so that everyone in attendance will know who else is there and what they can offer.

We are taking this even further at the event itself, but I need your help to figure some things out. The key aspect of secondary information is that it leads to the exchange of primary information (the knowledge, insights, and wisdom we share with each other) by allowing others to more easily identify who can be of most value to them. In working through this with Lee, we realized that there is another element that goes beyond the directory and the personal conversation - that is usually found on a name badge and more often than not contains name, title and company. But in an environment such as BrainJams, this has little practical value (though it could be invaluable for some). As with ships who use flags to communicate with one another visually, we feel that this form of 'signaling' can be greatly improved upon with some basic structural changes.

You can see the key elements in the sample badge I have put up on Flickr. This involves name, primary 'hat' worn, three words, haves and needs.

I really need you to comment here and contribute to the identification of the core values for hats worn and what people have/need. We don't expect to be fully encompassing with these lists as people and situations are way too complex - we want simplicity that can be adaptable after the first few breaths of conversation occur after these simple signals are received. BTW - A lot of this thinking on my part comes from the days of First Tuesday where entrepreneurs wore red lanyards, VC's wore green lanyards and service providers wore yellow.

My initial list of roles/hats are:
  • Creator
  • Financial
  • Technologist
  • Entrepeneur
  • Social Advocate
  • Human
  • Contributor
  • Idea Maker
  • Worker Bee
  • Marketer
  • Leader
Obviously there could be many more - but I really want the core categories under which all the others could fit. Certainly leaders could come from within any of the other items, and often managers are not necessarily leaders, but the idea here is that these categorizations match the primary role that an individual plays.

Wants and Haves are even more difficult in this regards, but this list is even more important to figure out. The idea is that the list for haves and needs is the same list. Individuals will be able to choose colored sticky dots to place on their name badges in the appropriate area (have or need).
  • Ideas
  • Connections
  • Money
  • Time
  • Technical Skills
  • Knowledge
  • People Skills
  • Advice
  • Jobs
Again, the idea is simplicity - we need to get to the core of these key signaling issues. Please, even if you have never left a comment before, please do so now - it can really contribute to the quality of this event and many many others. I know the concept is essentially an analog version of the nTag (which will never be viable in amateur events due to cost constraints) so I am hopeful more of you have thought about this than I have...

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Monday, February 20, 2006

Funding BrainJams as a Non Profit Sevice Provider

Been thinking a lot about how we are going to sustain and expand BrainJams to become the resource rich Unconference Community we envision beyond the occasional events we put together like the one coming up this Saturday at UC Berkeley. Last week in our newsletter, I relunctantly included a plea for donations as the last item - it was removed and put back about 5 times before I realized that I really had to start doing this if I was going to make our dream a reality.

Thinking like the entrepreneur I am, I came up with an idea for a service we are beginning to offer next week - wireless internet hotspot rental for unconferences. Thanks to a wonderful new technology that is called EVDO and some MIS grade routers, we will be offering a service that will allow event organizers to have relatively high speed wireless access for participants in almost any venue (within the major metropolitan areas that have the technology so far). This idea arose out of a real need we found with our BrainJams in DC since the Improv did not have wireless available. We were trying to get it together to trial there, but did not do so in time so we are hoping to try it out at our event on Saturday (in addition to the UCB wireless connectivity that will be made available through guest accounts).

This is not going to be a big money maker since we want to offer the service at a resonable rate - in fact the only reason for even considering this service is that is a critical enabling element for getting people together. Eventually, city wide free WiFi services may obliviate the need for renting this, but it is valuable in many situations today, so I figure why not? Was talking with Sean Savage the other day about how we might be able to mashup this idea with their PlaceSite software and he agreed. While not as cost effective as a $30/month DSL or Cable service connected to a $40 wifi router - it does meet the needs for several other situations where connectivity is not already present. Definitely a long tail sort of thing...

More details on the service, pricing and other extensions will be posted after the new BrainJams community site launches later in the week.

Too Many Tabs...

Don't get me wrong here, I love tabbed browsing and I LOVE the extensions and plugins for Firefox, but the ease with which new tabs are opened and orphaned has me questioning my sanity and thinking that yes, it is possible to have too many tabs. I use session saver which will automagically reopen all windows and load all tabs after a crash or forced quit on my iMac (which is happening way too often these days as my iMac mysteriously restarts itself at seemingly random intervals). As a result of this, the number of tabs open at one time grows exponentially over the course of the week, making each subsequent restart an even slower and more painful process as each of those tabs needs to load itself by downloading fresh content (particularly from blog home pages).

At the moment, I just counted 84 tabs in 11 windows!

I guess it is time for me to revisit my surfing habits - which really means revisiting my blog writing strategy as well as my approach to reading online. As far as I can tell, the top ten reasons for ending up with too many tabs and windows are:

  1. Had to take a pee break, forgot what I was in the middle of

  2. That damn phony thing going ring a ding ding

  3. Diving down the link hole chasing wabbits

  4. Wanting to write about something really, really badly, but not enough to write it right now

  5. Finding a very important blog post that I need to read, but don't need to read now

  6. Wanting to comment on something but not knowing what I want to say

  7. Having to actually work on something

  8. Not using an RSS Reader and visiting everyone's blog personally and directly

  9. It's too damn easy to open a new tab and/or new window

  10. Following the referrer links from MeasureMap to my blog

  11. Still waiting for the glory of the 25 hour day (soon to be mandated by the executive branch)

Hmmm, I wonder what I will do now... probably need to visit to see what if anything happened over the weekend, or perhaps I can spend a few hours taking care of all the tabs I have open, hoping my iMac won't restart again mysteriously and throw me off track again. Naahhhhh, there is too much other fun stuff to read this morning - hey, I even got a link from Doc Searls on Friday! Cool - just happy to know he saw the piece I wrote on the A-Z List.

Perhaps this is the beginning thoughts on a new feature we need in Firefox - a way to look at all the open windows and tabs in one list - maybe as an OPML list even to be saved, edited and shared via my blog - perhaps even made more manageable by Firefox or Flock. Or maybe Session Saver can be rewritten to allow me to pick which tabs I want to have opened after a restart - one that I can categorize by task required:

  1. To read

  2. To blog

  3. To comment

  4. To re-read

  5. To print

  6. To send to someone

  7. To save to my PDA/phone

  8. To call someone about

  9. To borrow from

  10. To save for a presentation

  11. To ????

Well, here again I am thinking about great pieces of functionality and tools, but no one around to code them... Oh shit, forgot that I am supposed to be down at MuchoCamp today, and have not even had a chance to talk about WoolfCamp yet! More to come later today.

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