Just testing

Just wanted to see if this works Happy Friday – this is the edit function, so far so good best of MessiYouTube Preview Image

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Catch Me If You Can

Most people in the US believe that they have an undeniable right to privacy, and that this is one of the foundations of American society. In the digital age there really is no such thing as privacy, the minute you turn on your laptop or mobile phone you give it up. I would bet that most users of the web haven´t a clue as to what an IP address is or why 32 digits can tell so much about you.

If you think using a credit card is just a way of paying for something, think again. Reams of information are collected and stored about your individual purchases and daily habits. Marketeers take this information, study and model it, and end up knowing more about you than your closest friends.

Whenever the topic of privacy comes up I always remember a quote from Scott McNealy, then CEO of Sun Microsystems who said, “You have zero privacy anyway, Get over it.” Of course, McNealy is famous for his many outragous statements and many were made more for effect than seriousness. He said this in 1999 and I believe it still rings true today. .

I just read a great article in Wired magazine titled “Writer Evan Ratliff Tried to Vanish: Here´s what Happened.” The story is about a contest that Evan and Wired launched with a prize of $5k for whomever could find him. He would hide in plain site for 30 days, meaning he used a laptop, flew on planes, and used his credit card from time to time. Of course, he used many means to hide his location and physical identity from fake twitter accounts, business cards, to shaving his head. The article details the methods used by the online communites that sprung up after the contest was launched to find Evan.

The article amazed and frightened me on a few levels. The first being how much information is out there on each of us, and that it is really not very difficult or time consuming to find. Another is that there are an unbelievable amount of wickedly smart folks out there that have mastered the art of data mining. Next time you want to leave a comment on twitter or Facebook remember that somebody somewhere can find who and where you are. The last being that these same folks have way too much free time on their hands but thankfully they used this free time in a harmless game of modern hide and seek. Here is a clip from the original world Championship hide and seek.

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The Rise Of Virtual Meetings

I read a somewhat interesting article at SFGate.com on the rise of virtual meetings. The reason that I say somewhat interesting is that it is a little plug for a couple of virtual event agencies and then back peddles a bit from its main point that virtual events are taking off. They define virtual events as an event that “brings attendees together in an online destination built specifically for the event. From a PC, customers and partners can head off into cyber auditoriums for taped or live speeches, hit a virtual exhibition floor to check out demos and talk with sales people or virtually rub elbows with other attendees in lounges.”

But what I found most interesting, is the fact that there appears to be a balance growing between virtual and face to face events. In my opinion, there was a bit of an overreaction in the past two years to the use of virtual events as a way to save money. Anything virtual is just a tool, just like social media and e-mail. The skill is using them in the right situation. More on this in later posts.

The article references a survey commissioned by ON24 (which is a provider of virtual events) that states that of 5,000 marketing executives surveyed, they found that 63 percent were more likely to attend a virtual conference than an in-person event. I am always skeptical when a company funds it’s own survey and the results just happen to shine favorably on their core business but the results are interesting. Seems that companies are still participating in their biggest and best shows and replacing some of the lower level shows with virtual events. Convention area hotel room blocks for next year in San Francisco are down significantly from ‘08 and ‘09 but I don’t necessarily believe that this in part due to the rise of virtual events. It is a bit of a chicken and egg question as to the cause and effect, but I think that the decline in corporate T&E will continue for a few more years until the global economy rights itself.
It is interesting to note that some companies are creating an interesting mix of virtual and live so that they can reach as much of their target audience. Some are hosting breakout sessions and meetings pre-event which is a trend I expend to be copied and expanded upon throughout the event industry, both virtual and face to face.

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Expert, Guru, Entrepreneur, Or Life Coach?

Do you remember the scene in Airplane when Leslie Nielsen as Dr Rumack asks Captain Oveur about when they can land?

Dr. Rumack:
Captain, how soon can you land?
Capt. Clarence Oveur:
I can’t tell.
Dr. Rumack:
You can tell me, I’m a doctor.
Capt. Clarence Oveur:
No, I mean, I’m just not sure.
Dr. Rumack:
Well, can’t you take a guess?
Capt. Clarence Oveur:
Well, not for another two hours.
Dr. Rumack:
You can’t take a guess “for another two hours”?
Capt. Clarence Oveur:
No, no, no, I mean we can’t land for another two hours.

This scene popped into my head as I was looking at the latest postings from the groups I belong to on LinkedIn. In the discussions section, here are a few of the titles of the folks posting, the names have been changed to protect the innocent:

Posted by Joe Momma SEO / SEM / Marketing – 24,143+ connections – LION – Xth most connected person on LinkedIn
Started by Sue Jones, Marcomm, PR and Social Media professional, bringing a fresh perspective to PR & Marketing 2.0
Started by Mr X, Worldwide online Coach & Mentor, Executive Coach, Business Coach, Life Coach
Started by Ms Y, President, Serial Networker, Networking Guru, People Connector, Business Catalyst at XYZ corp
Started by Mr T, Creative branding and marketing entrepreneur
Started by Ms B, Social Media Guru and Web 2.0 entrepreneur

Why do some many folks have have such convoluted and in my opinion worthless titles? Because you are LinkedIn to over 22k people that is supposed to mean something to me? It actually does, but not what I guess you are hoping it well. And one of the things I have never understood is WTF is a life or executive coach? If you have that skill, why not coach yourself out of the crappy gig you have and get a real job? My favorite is the Social Media Guru tag – really, you are social media guru? Here is a definition of guru according to Wikipedia

“A guru (Sanskrit: गुरु) is one who is regarded as having great knowledge, wisdom and authority in a certain area, and who uses it to guide others (teacher). As a principle for the development of consciousness it leads the creation from unreality to reality, from the darkness of ignorance to the light of knowledge. In its purest form this principle manifests on earth as a divine incarnation (saint), a person with supreme knowledge about God and all creation.”

That sounds like most of “gurus” I know, especially the social media ones. I am waiting for the first Social Media or Web 2.0 Swami to appear if he/she hasn’t already, or maybe I can become the first.

There are so many “experts” out there that they drown out each other. If you really want me to read or pay attention to you how about using a title that more realistically describes your skills or knowledge base. That will get my attention and make it more likely to be read. And for all of you who continue to use silly and made up titles I leave you with the words of Dr. Rumack as Ted and Elaine were trying to land the plane:

“I just want to tell you both good luck. We’re all counting on you

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Blackberry, The iPhone And Can I Get My Outlook?

At connectsmith, have been debating the merits of the iPhone and Blackberry for the past few weeks. Since I have never owned or operated an iPhone, and Marc has never owned or operated a Blackberry, we have had some interesting arguments. As one might guess, we tend to argue based upon tribal lines, I take the Blackberry side and Marc Apple’s. We both agree that neither are perfect and I would never for a minute suggest that the Blackberry comes close to the sexiness of the iPhone. But, if you work in the corporate world the Blackberry is king. I believe so for two reasons, e-mail and the IT department.

It doesn’t really matter that the Blackberry Curve or older models aren’t as user friendly as the iPhone, the cursor roller ball against a touch screen ends the argument right there. Add screen size and superior web surfing and you will be accused of piling on. The Blackberry Storm was supposed to combat the lack of these features but it had a slow start and is already being replaced by version 2. The Blackberry Curve is still the best selling smart phone mainly due to corporate customers and promotional give-a-ways. And of course, we are not even bringing up the humongous difference in apps – I think the iPhone app store has over 60,000 apps and growing daily while the Blackberry app store is not even close to that and probably never will be. The latest reports suggest the iPhone App Store market size is $200 million per month, or 2.4 billion per year which is a nice chunk of change.

Business Week has an interesting article on how all of this might change when the other giants of technology and telecoms get into the fight and take on both Apple and RIM, the maker of the Blackberry. Microsoft and Nokia are teaming up to offer a smart phone based upon Nokia’s Symbian operating system which is a major departure for Microsoft. Motorola is trying to get back in the game with a new smart phone based upon the Android operating system backed by Google and a host of partners. Other handset manufactures are also going to come out with additional Android offerings this fall. I personally put my money on Android and Google as I am a tried and true believer of open verses closed when it comes to software development. It will take some time for the Android community to come up with enterprise ready devices and apps, but when they do, look out RIM and Apple.

To me, it still all breaks down to weather or not I can get my outlook and e-mail on my phone and if my IT department supports the device. I have never been given a choice as to my smart phone preference, they just hand you a Blackberry and say go to the website for support requests and “get out of my office”.

As long as this tend continues, the Blackberry will still be the king of the corporate world and the iPhone for the people who are Apple fans and lovers of cool sexy devices. But not for long, as there are a host of competitors in the rear view mirror catching up fast.

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When Using Social Media, Why Not Be Social?

One of our pet peeves here at connectsmith is the lack of personal touches in social media. Isn’t the whole reason to use Facebook or Twitter to connect with new and old friends? That’s why is it so lame not to personalize your invite. Why is it so hard to take 30 extra seconds to not use the generic example?

Two real examples:

Suzy Brown added you as a friend on Facebook. We need to confirm that you know Suzy in order for you to be friends on Facebook

or

Connectsmith

I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn.

- Suzy

Lame, lame, lame!

You want to friend me but don’t have a few extra seconds to personalize your invite? You worked with me for 5 years and want to add me to your professional network but can’t type two additional sentences? And you expect me to vouch for you in a referral?

To separate yourself from the masses we strongly suggest that you always take the time to personalize your invites. People always remember politeness and common courtesy

Two suggestions:

Hi Connectsmith – How are you? Been a few years since we last spoke but I wanted to add you to my Linkedin connections. Let’s catch up one of these days.

Hi Connectsmith – I added you as a friend on Facebook – it’s been a few years since I Phelta Thy and I wanted to reconnect with you. Hope you are well.

That’s not so hard, right? Be more social when using social media and you will separate yourself from the pack and get those results you are looking for. Like the old saying goes ” you attract more flies with honey…”

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Connectsmith Uncovers The Original Top 10 List

Although it seems that the top list is a relatively new phenomenon, the first top ten showed up long before blogging or the Internet existed, like around 1450-1500 B.C. That’s the best guess as to the date when Moses descended Mt. Sinai with the stone tablets containing the original top 10 list, the Ten Commandments. After Moses had received the two tablets he promptly smashed them, thereby making the first top 5 list but that is a story for another day.

Scientists have recently discovered a recessive gene that make some bloggers more predisposed to creating top 5 and 10 lists than the general population. This helps explain some of the abuses with top 5 and top 10 lists, but doesn’t fully answer the question as to why they are more popular than ever. It seems that there is a primal urge that some people have to let the world know what their top 10 main courses at Olive Garden are or their top 5 Molly Ringwald films. This urge leads to lists that are created just to be created, and in turn they become worthless commodities with short shelf lives.

If you really want to connect, don’t make a top 5 or 10 list, but tell me your thoughts as to why you like or dislike something. Let’s discuss, argue, and laugh about why you think the Rolling Stones are the greatest rock band ever or why I think Gayle Sayers is the greatest running back who ever lived. Or, if you really want to mix it up, how about throwing a top 8 list at me? Maybe you could only come up with the top 8 uses for pesto and found no need to add a 9th. That would impress me.

The bottom line is that nobody knows for sure what the top 5 or 10 or 20 is of anything so take all of these lists with a grain of salt. And if you can’t help yourself , and absolutely have to create a top whatever list, make sure it is tied to your values and core beliefs, and not what the crowd thinks. And please, tell me why – don’t just post a list.

But please, keep them to yourselves, because If I catch you taking the easy road and posting a top whatever list, I am going to post the top 5 reasons not to visit your site.

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Top 10 Reasons Not To Make A Top 5 list

It seems that you can’t read any blog these days without a top 5 or a top 10 list showing up somewhere. When and where did this trend start, and why? I personally blame the movie High Fidelity and John Cusack for starting this heinous trend. Is it because nobody can argue their point or explain their thoughts with out whipping out a top 5 or 10 list? And which is more difficult to produce, a top 5 or a top 10? Is a top ten 2x more difficult to make, or easier because you have 5 extra spots?

There are even sites dedicated to top 10 and top 5 lists – and here’s one about the top 5 of top 10 lists.

A few more examples:

Top 5 Favorite Superheros
Top 5 Wine Tourism Tips Iberia Can Learn from American Wine Producers
Top 5 Most Anticipated Films
Top 5 Actors and Actresses of All time
Top 5 Helena Bonham-Carter characters (my personal favorite)
Top 5 Fruits
Top Five Has Beens of the 2000’s

And of course, the mac daddy of them all – the Facebook top 5 lists. Have you been hit by one of these yet? These are some of the biggest offenders as most contain personal opinions on mundane subjects based on little or no facts. I refuse to partake in these just to prove how much I hate them.

We are going to continue to investigate this trend and find more abuses and a few great examples of top 5 and 10 lists.

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Open Versus Closed Communities

There is an interesting article in the latest Business Week on “Why Apple is more Valuable than Google” . To me, this argument breaks down simply to open vs. closed communities. While I am a casual fan of Apple products, and currently own an iPod and use iTunes to purchase most of my music, I have always felt that Apple gets a free pass from the tech media when it comes to open versus closed. If I mention the phrase “the evil empire” most likely Microsoft pops in your head. Microsoft gets tagged with this reputation because of it’s history of crushing it’s rivals, it’s lack of innovation, and overall monopolistic policies. Some of this is well deserved, but a lot of it is simply piling on..

Apple’s rep is ” Think Different” the cool inivator, always introducing new super cool products before the rest of the crowd get there. The Mac, iPod, iPhone, iTunes (the best razor vs. razor blade example since shaving cream in a can was invented) and the iPhone app store. The way that

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Yo! What’s Up With The Virtual Event … "Esse"?

Yo … there’s still a lot of confusion out there regarding what qualifies as a virtual event. Everybody’s got an opinion and settling on a definition can make you loco. Here is how we define it.

Connectsmith defines a virtual event as:

1. [adjective] Virtual Event [vur-choo-uhthinspl][i-vent]
A Conference, trade show, or components thereof that take place on-line in a virtual environment that you cannot physically enter or visit.
Origin:
ConnectSmith, an alliance of seasoned marketing professionals focusing on Brand, Product, Social Media, & Event Marketing.

In other words, a second life type environment. Simple, right? Not so fast.

Is a webinar a virtual event? No! A webinar is a method of broadcasting one way a presentation with limited audience participation. It can include text Q&A, whiteboarding, or polling but it is not virtual, it is real. But it takes place in an environment that I can’t physically enter or visit, right? Doesn’t that fit the connectsmith definition? Nice try but no. It does not take place in a virtual environment.

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