Friday, March 10, 2006

Xposted Launches - New Way to Monetize your Blog

My friend Greg Narain has been working on a new service called Xposted (cross posted) that will play nicely with his Social Conference software called SyncPeople. I am now registered on BlogBurst as well as Xposted so it will be interesting to see how blog syndication will work out - I am particularly interested in some of the features that Greg will be adding in the near future we discussed the other day that will clearly push his service into the lead. One thing is for sure, Greg really 'gets it' in a big way and I hope all of our talk about working together in some way on SyncPeople comes to fruition.

There are not many company ideas that I hear about that I believe will be anything more substantial than a dotcom flameout - I am fortunate to be contributing in some small way to several companies that have real growth potential and staying power. SyncPeople, BuzzLogic, and D-BAM are just the tip of the new new economy from where I sit - and chances are you have never heard of them before, but that will be changing soon enough...

BTW - Greg will be presenting at DC 2.0 next Wednesday so check it out if you are in the DC area and join another emerging, cool community out in DC.

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Tuesday, March 07, 2006

BrainJams Berkeley in Review

Brainjams in Berkeley was quite an exercise with 'free radicals'! Don't worry though, no one was the worse for wear afterwards, and the 20+ folks who joined us at Jupiter Pizza afterwards did quite well shutting their Brains Off...

As with most events we have held so far, we have tried to experiment a bit with different formats, to learn what works and what does not. Despite learning quite a bit from what did not work out as I had hoped, participants generally felt the event was a success and the value of the conversations we all had was fairly high. There was some particularly useful insytes shared on the topic of collaboration and I was fortunate to get some great advice on the future of BrainJams from David Allen, Cathryn Hrudicka, Dave Burleigh, Kristie Wells, Dan Genova, Shannon Clark, Bill Allison and Rachel Murray.

It was this discussion that lead to the idea that we should focus BrainJams on serving the needs of people who belong to multiple groups or cliques - the boundary spanners, or primary hubs of the attention economy. Dave Burleigh referenced this as becoming the SIG of SIG's, but I really think it is more about developing the meta-layer for detailing the social fabric of group to group collaboration. Peer to peer collaboration may be the big thing today, but group to group (G2G) collaboration and networking is an area that deserves more understanding. In striving for diversity in an open community such as BrainJams, it just makes sense that we want people who are not self-identifying as only a 'geek' or only a 'marketing guy' or only an 'artist' - from my personal experience with several large organizations, it was these people who got the real work done inside the organization, so it follows that these are the people who can get the real work done ACROSS organizations.

At the end of the day, I was fortunate to chat with Angela Hunter and Wayne Caplinger. Angela drew a parallel between what Lee Felsenstein and the Homebrew Computer Club did for computers and what BrainJams is trying to do for ad-hoc collaboration using the best insights available. She referenced the idea of having BrainJams serve as a "Grassroots ThinkTank" which I find insightful. This directly parallels the power/access issues that was at the root of the need for Homebrew in that the people on the inside often disregarded the people on the outside as amateurs with little to contribute. But then, as now, we know this to be far from truth. The collective wisdom is much greater than that of those in the ivory towers - you and I have much to contribute, though the systems and power laws are not designed to easily enable such contributions. That is why we must take this matter into our own hands and figure out the systems and tools we really need in order to raise awareness of the most valuable insytes and knowledge, from the widest swath of experience possible.

With the enthusiasm for collaboration and sharing knowledge clearly expressed by other participants, and a desire to bring about positive social change within all areas of our lives, it would seem that "The Noble Pursuit" is more relevant than ever. Perhaps this is really what it is all about - not just people getting together for an unconference of XYZ, but really mapping out the people, tools, processes, groups and other elements in a way that truly makes it easy for people who want to create positive change within their corporations and across society to find out what they need to know to do what they have to do to.

Lots to think about for sure...

But rather than running down this road right now, I wanted to share some other posts from the BrainJams Berkeley that are worth a quick perusal.
All in all it was a very good day, but I must admit being surprised that more people who attended did not write up something to share. This is in stark contrast to what Grace Davis pulled off at WoolfCamp where participants are still contributing to a very vibrant conversation. Perhaps that is the difference between a community of people and an event of attendees. I don't know for sure, but I hope we figure it out...

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To blog or not to blog...

Been noticing a recurring problem that I have been struggling against - it may be tied tied to my mood and varying levels of certainty/uncertainty, but that could just be ancillary or more effect instead of cause. I have always had this problem with writing (waiting for the right mood to strike), so I suppose that blogging is just making me deal with it more often and more directly. The past 10 days since BrainJams Berkeley have seen only a handful of blog posts that I published, along with a dozen others that are still sitting here in various embryonic states (a few simple notes, a nearly complete post, a hand full of open tabs awaiting commentary, a stream of consciousness over 7 pages of a word doc that needs to be ripped apart and rebuilt and even a bunch of thoughts that should be made into blog posts but I have not even written anything on because I am so behind with the others)

Sometimes I am so in the flow of an idea that I just need to get it out right away, so I sit down, put fingers to keyboard, and an hour or so later some really long blog post with deep insights has been published. Other times, I go back and forth on a wide array of thoughts that are related in some complex manner and never reach any degree of what could be called understandable by regular humans, so the posts just sit there. It is hugely frustrating for me and at various points in my past has overwhelmed me so much that I pretty much shut down. Thankfully, I have not reached that point and probably won't again, but it certainly 'feels' like one of those times again so I am here being reflective, trying to work this out intellectually and emotionally.

The reality is that to blog or not to blog is really a function of my available time, and lately there has not bee all that much time left after the top priorities get handled. Or at least, I am still trying to keep my life in balance as best as I can and trying to working less than 80 hours hours each week eventhough there is always something more that needs my attention. Perhaps I need to shift my balance a bit, but I hope not. I generally like the way things have been going lately personally and professionally and hope it continues in the same direction. Of course, there is the little matter of making some big decisions about the future of BrainJams as well as my professional consulting life, but I don't feel put off by those decisions, just still uncertain as to which course of action I should take, and which of the great possibilities deserve my complete focus.

Then of course there is the matter of the blog feeling as if it is the equivalent of 'one hand clapping'. As a firmly entrenched member of the M-List Blogger Core, I don't write to get juiced by how popular the blog is, though I do monitor the traffic to see who if anyone might be linking to me. I write the blog hoping that what I have to say is considered as part of the broader conversation - or more specifically, that some of my ideas seeking feedback directly, do get that feedback from whoever might be reading. So when I post on the future of BrainJams, I hope that someone other than my fiance might have something meaningful to contribute. Then again, I might be too concerned with what other people think at this point and should perhaps just invest more time and energy as the leader of an organization rather than thinking like a participant of a community. Hmmmmmmm

So what to do with the blog posts that are in process? Well, I guess I can always edit them later, so I might as well start kicking them out this afternoon/evening and see where they take us...