An Open Letter to BlogTalkRadio

Hey BlogTalkRadio

Thank you for your time in stopping by. I know you guys are going through some changes, and that mostly they are good changes. I want to thank you for hiring Kris Smith. He will be a great addition to your team. I know Kris very well. He sorta likes to name drop me. We’ve done a few podcasts together as well. Great guy.

But, BlogTalkRadio, you’ve got your problems. I’m sure you know this, but in case you didn’t, let me break them down.

Multiple Hosts

As you know, because you want to feature our show on the network, we use your service. When I say “we”, I mean “I” because your system only allows for one host. Geoff Livingston is also a host, but you don’t recognize him as a host so he has to call in on a caller line and use up our precious open phone banks. Why, BlogTalkRadio, do you not have the basic concept of multiple hosts built in? I mean, we’re not all in the same room. It’s the internetz.

Your User Interface is teh suck

When I say teh suck, I really do mean it. We’ve done six shows now and I can never find my way around. It’s particularly aggravating to try to download the MP3 so we can have our own professional look for the show on our own professional looking website. This is a core requirement of marketing. I wouldn’t dare send archive listeners to our show page at BTR because, well, because it’s teh suck.

Call Management

Why, for the love of all that is good and pure in this world, do you not provide a host a way to perform basic show management functions from a regular phone? Take for instance this past week when my internet connection dropped due to ice, 3 minutes before the show went live. With my cohost in Barcelona and unable to get a reliable internet connection himself, it caused a loss of listeners, a loss of motivation and a loss of our standard 4pm time slot (we had to reschedule for 4:30 so I could drive to a Panera Bread and do the show while everyone looked oddly at me). I found out after the fact that Geoff had dialed in and could hear me cursing in the background, but I had no way of knowing he was on the line (again he was a caller, not a host) nor anyway to unmute his line if I had known he was there.

Call Screening

Although we are geared toward a DC-metro audience, it is not unusual to have callers from around the country and around the world. It’s the tubez. People have Skype and what not. I have a real problem using your switchboard and knowing who is on the line. I know that technically, it would be a challenge, but “real” radio has a way of doing “real” call screening so we know who is on the line and what the heck they want to comment on. Imagine this, a scenario from a few weeks ago: We talk politics for 10 minutes then jump into a different topic – maybe the Yahoo-Microsoft (non) merger. A caller calls in wanting to comment on politics but by this time, we have moved on from the topic. We can take the call and adjust back, possibly interrupting a flow, or ignore the caller and run the risk of pissing them off. You gotta give me a way to handle this more effectively.

Finally, BlogTalkRadio, while I appreciate your efforts, we need real tools. Seriously, it’s only a matter of time before an upstart competitor with more vision, more ability and more marketing prowess comes along and does what you are doing only better. Right now, you have no real competition in this space and so you have the luxury of dicking around doing whatever you do. But when another competitor comes along and gives you a run for your money, they are going to treat hosts as professional radio hosts (yeah, I know we aren’t but we like to pretend). The more professional tools you can give us, the more you ensure that the DoC show won’t jump over to the other guy. I’d like optional video streaming to conjunct with audio streaming. I’d like an improved switchboard with real call screening. I’d like a possible dual channel audio mixer with the possibility of multiple hosts, so maybe one host can do the production for us. Personally, I don’t want to mess with that stuff. I’m competent but I have a show to host.

Please, throw me a bone.

Love always,
Aaron

Facebook disponible en español

Facebook ya está disponible en español. A través de una iniciativa interna, Facebook utilizó los servicios de un gran número de usuarios de habla hispana para ir traduciendo poco a poco todo el website.

Facebook en Español

Aunque todavía se pueden conseguir algunos errores ortográficos o de transcripción, la traducción final es bastante buena. Tomando en cuenta que el español es un idioma que varía de país a país, seguramente habrá términos que generen confusión en algunos usuarios.

Facebook prefirió hacer una traducción de su website actual en vez de intentar adaptar el website a cada cultura (como supuestamente está haciendo MySpace). La traducción al francés está casi lista.

¿Qué opinas de la traducción de Facebook al español?

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Twitter Contest: Be my 1000th Friend

I’m at a special milestone in my Twitter career. Most people don’t end up with 1000 friends but the Twitter community is vibrant and I’m fully engaged so at this point, I have 999 friends.

I thought it would be cool, in the spirit of Twitter and community, to hold a contest for the 1000th friend milestone. In true Twitter fashion, this is how it will work. Below is an article about community. What I want you to do is to post a summary of the article in your own words on Twitter and leave a link to the Tweet in the comments. For the sake of community, also post the contents of the tweet in comments so people don’t have to go clicking everywhere to see what’s been said. The winner will be chosen exclusively by me (I can be subjective, right?)

There’s a twist however. In order to get participation from everyone, including the 999 people that are already my friends, the winner will choose my 1000th friend for me. You can choose yourself if you want, but if the winner is already my friend they could choose somebody that they find interesting and they want me to follow too. Could be fun, right? Right, so let’s get to it.

Engaging Community

We’re in the political season again and people are avidly watching the races for the Republican and Democratic nominations. It hearkens back to the bad old days when I first started blogging in 2004. The presidential election gave bloggers lots of fodder to talk about and, back then, everyone seemed to be a political blogger of some sort. Fortunately, the blogging world has diversified and is now rich in technology, sports, celebrity gawking, etc. It’s a much more accurate view of real life where people are very different.

One of the main problems that has plagued bloggers for as long as blogging has been around is the sense that blogging is an individual sport. Rarely do you see communities – true communities – spring up around single blog properties. There are a few notable blog centered communities – SEOMoz in the SEO world; Digital Photography School in the, well, digital photography world; all of the Gawker properties, I think. Mostly however, blogging is an individual sport and blog participation is a spectator sport.

Why do you think that is?

When we talk about social media, inevitably blogging gets lumped in with Facebook and Twitter as though blogs are somehow social. Generally, they are not.

When I first heard the term social networking I always word associated with social engineering, a scary term that denotes manipulation of lemmings by a single person or entity. When I thought of social media, which is used interchangeably with the word social networking, I thought of communist state government.

Where the word came from is irrelevant. It is the word. What it means is a grassroots community revolving around a topic or niche. In most cases the “friending” is a function of the network that allows people to connect and interconnect with each other, thus creating grassroots networking.

I come back to blogging, where in most cases, this is not occurring. Blogging is still mostly a one way communication tool where the blogger, or bloggers write. There is interaction via comments, but this is non-commital action that people can take that is contrary to the “friending” process of social networks. Anyone who blogs knows the feeling of being a “one night stand” where a commenter comes by, does a drive by comment, and leaves. Wham! Bam! Thank you, ma’am!

This is not community. Community requires a level of commitment, if only as menial as a friend request to “ensure” the tie that binds.

I’d love to see more communities emerge around blogs. Heck, I may start a forum here which would be a first step but it wouldn’t be enough. There would have to be the follow through from readers where community could begin to coalesce.

What are your thoughts on community?

Come Hear me Present at Social Media Club DC

If you’re in the greater Washington area, or you’re going to be in town on Feb 21, stop by Viget Labs at 6:30pm. I’ve been asked to come speak to the group about personal branding and the proverbial “A List”. We’re calling the session “Blog Draft Day: Making it Into the Bigs” and I’ll be sharing some of my own experiences as well as insight I’ve gained managing proverbial “A list” blogs at b5media.

For more information, or to RSVP visit the Buzz Bin. See you there.

Counter-Strike vs. Wii: Dos Caras de la Misma Moneda Social

La cónsola Wii y el juego Counter-Strike ofrecen dos experiences sociales diferentes que merecen ser estudiadas al implementar estrategias sociales de negocios.

Networking Exosocial

Counter-Strike es un juego online de ladrones y policias que permite la colaboración y competencia entre jugadores de todo el mundo. Comunicaciones via chat y voz en tiempo real permiten a cada equipo mantenerse en contacto y coordinar estrategias para completar las distintas misiones, mientras en la pantalla se puede ver la posición de cada jugador. Tu familia considerará Counter-Strike como una experiencia anti-social: te olvidarás por completo de su existencia… pero formarás nuevas amistades con tus compañeros de equipo.

Networking Endosocial

La cónsola Wii, al contrario de Counter-Strike, es la herramienta social casera por excelencia. Disfrutarás de innumerables horas de distracción con el resto de tu familia, llegando a conocer facetas desconocidas de tu pareja. Estoy seguro que a la gran mayoría los acercará. Y hasta puedes invitar a tus amigos a compartir un rato de diversión en tu casa.

Tanto Counter-Strike como Wii te harán quedarte en casa, pero mientras uno te conectará con gente alrededor del mundo, el otro te conectará con aquellos que tienes cerca.

¿Qué importancia tiene todo esto para tu negocio?

Al planificar estrategias sociales para tu negocio, es importante tomar en cuenta ambos ejemplos. ¿Estás conectando con tus clientes pero olvidando fomentar los lazos que convertirán a tus empleados en un equipo? O al contrario, ¿estás enfocándote sólo en construir un equipo pero olvidando crear una relación a largo plazo con tus clientes?

Es importante explorar ambas caras de la moneda social, construyendo un equipo fuerte que conozca las habilidades de cada miembro y creando buenas relaciones con los clientes que permitan anticipar sus necesidades y mejorar su experiencia con nuestros productos o servicios.

¿Qué herramientas o técnicas usas en tu negocio para crear estos lazos sociales? ¿Cuáles son tu Wii y tu Counter-Strike?

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Yahoo! Live Jam Session

A couple days ago, Yahoo! released a new collaborative video service called Yahoo! Live. These kinds of things are getting fairly prolific and Yahoo has its standard disclaimer that this is experimental. And it is.

What makes this unique is that anyone with a webcam can participate in an ongoing video chat – and of course those who do not have a webcam or do not choose to use it can still listen in on other participants.

Last night, Eric Rice was hosting his own channel (we like the term channel over “chat”) doing Second Life and Google Earth stuff when something interesting happened and myself, and a bunch of other folks hijacked his channel and started jamming with guitars. I’m sure it’s not a first, but it felt like a first. Video and audio lag can kill good music.

At any rate, instead of hijacking Eric’s channel again, I’ve set up my own channel where we’ll occasionally do this kind of stuff. I’m planning on getting online tonight. HEre’s the video embed, however to get the full participation of those involved, you’ll want to visit the actual Yahoo! Live channel.

Scrabuloso

Alrededor de 600.000 usuarios de Facebook disfrutan regularmente de una partida de Scrabble con sus amigos. Y desde el 15 de Enero esperan ansiosamente que el problema entre Hasbro/Mattel y Scrabulous se solucione amigablemente.

El problema está en que Scrabulous, la aplicación de Facebook, es una versión no licenciada del tradicional juego de Scrabble y Hasbro y Mattel, los dueños de Scrabble, le solicitaron a Facebook que no siguiera permitiendo el uso de su propiedad intelectual.

De inmediato han llovido innumerable acusaciones en contra de Mattel y Hasbro, que van desde que están abusando su posición de empresas fuertes y establecidas hasta que no tienen idea de como manejarse en el Siglo XXI. También hay algunos artículos y comentarios interesantes (en inglés).

Pero el caso no es tan blanco y negro como algunos quisieran. Para empezar, Mattel y Hasbro tienen no sólo el derecho sino el deber de defender sus propiedades y actuar responsablemente ante sus empleados y accionistas. Muchas personas han invertido esfuerzo, dinero e ideas en inventar juegos como Scrabble y por lo tanto no sería justo que quienes se beneficien sean Facebook y los desarrolladores de Scrabulous. Si Hasbro y Mattel no hacen algo hoy, mañana miles de copias de sus productos inundarán el mercado.

Por otro lado tenemos a los 600.000 usuarios de Scrabulous en Facebook. Ciertamente no sería beneficioso para Mattel y Hasbro pelearse con más de medio millón de fanáticos de uno de sus juegos; en el fondo, ninguno de ellos tiene la culpa de lo que está pasando.

Hasbro y Mattel han dicho que están buscando una solución amigable y hasta el día de hoy, el juego sigue activo en Facebook. Quizás Hasbro y Mattel han podido pensar mejor su estrategia inicial, desde el punto de vista de Relaciones Públicas, y comenzar con un acercamiento en términos más amigables… es precisamente en esta área que las compañías tradicionales tienen más que aprender; pero también debemos entender que están en todo su derecho de defender su propiedad intelectual.

Mattel y Hasbro han debido participar activamente en Facebook (y otras redes sociales), conocer mejor a sus clientes, hacer un estudio entre ellos a ver que les gustaba de Scrabulous y que otras opciones quisieran ver, y de este modo desarrollar ellos una versión legal y mejor de Scrabble. Siempre es preferible ganar una batalla con un producto mejor que con un abogado…

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Primary Endorsements

Super Tuesday EndorsementIf you’re not a U.S. citizen, please feel free to read this but also feel free to ignore. This is intended exclusively for U.S. citizens eligible to vote in the primaries (or dead people in Chicago, if you’re so inclined).

First of all, since my early days as a blogger where I covered a lot of political commentary when I was getting started (the election of 2004 was a fun time for political bloggers, even those of us who were nobodies), I’ve made an intentional effort to avoid political blogging. This entry does not mark a departure from that routine.

However, this presidential election has serious ramifications for those of us in the technology and business communities and we should not simply look the other way and not concern ourselves with the politics of the day. Nor should we retreat to party lines and simply say, “I’ve always been a Republican, therefore I’ll never vote for a Democrat”, or “George W. Bush was a Republican and because I want change in Washington, the only options I have are for a Democrat.

That said, if you’re registered a Democrat you’ll likely only be able to vote for a Democrat in your primary and vica versa for Republicans.

I’m an independent and therefore I cannot vote in my state’s primaries. I am enjoying the politics on both sides and firmly believe that party politics is a poor reflection on America, which is not as divided as most people would like you to believe (at least not most people in the media or in Washington). The reality is that we are all shades of left and right and that most of us tend somewhere toward the middle. If you don’t, you’re blindly following an ideology and not thinking for yourself. In which case, why are you reading this blog? Smart people read this blog.

Because this blog is non-partisan (happily), and because I have intelligent people reading this blog that are voting in both primaries tomorrow and on through the Primary season, I’m going to follow Mike Arrington’s lead and endorse two candidates – one from each party. These endorsements are for the nomination – not for the general election. I will have my own endorsement for that in late October or early November.

I will also clarify that, regardless of your political views, these endorsements are largely based on how I feel the candidate would be for the technology and business community. I do not speak on other, unrelated issues that, while important to consider as a whole, do not play to the interests of the technology and business communities.

Democratic Endorsement

There are two primary candidates for the Democratic party – Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. There is clearly only one candidate that is palatable in the area of science and tech. That candidate wants to empower the private sector to innovate, create and connect America. That candidate understands the concept of openness and how it can fuel innovation and thus, is driving to conquer the digital divide in poorer areas of the country. Clearly, one candidate stands above the other as the only one with a vision for technology in the government and openness in an increasingly open society.

In the wake of 9/11, a glaring weakness was revealed in the FBI’s technology infrastructure. That has not been addressed. As one with first hand experience working for both the Department of the Navy and Health and Human Services, I can attest to technology tone-deafness. One candidate is proposing the creation of a CTO position to ensure that all government agencies are moving forward into the 21st century with modern technology at their fingertips. As a sidenote, how is it we don’t have a CTO already”

That’s why, if you are a Democrat, you should vote to nominate Barack Obama as your nominee for President.

Republican Endorsement

As Mike Arrington noted, the Republican side is quite a bit more blurry. However, unlike Arrington, I come to a different conclusion.

Though there are three potential candidates on the Republican side – John McCain, Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee – the real race is between only McCain and Romney. McCain probably fits my overall perspective a little cleaner than Romney does. However, I believe Romney is a more solid candidate for the business and tech community.

Unfortunately, neither of the leading GOP front runners have established any kind of solid business platform. While Romney is disturbingly heavy on “War on Terror” related issues, his history presiding over the 2002 US Olympic Committee and the failing Salt Lake City Olympic Commission, as well as fiscal success as Governor of Massachusetts makes him the most appealing candidate as a business community champion.

Lacking the emergence of any slam dunk “business and technology” leader in the GOP race, I cautiously endorse Mitt Romney for the GOP nomination.

Go vote. It’s your country. Your leader.

Live on Jonny's Partay Video Show Wednesday

We are going to have a BLAST this week. A number of events happening on my social media calendar, not the least of which is a guest appearance on Jonny Goldtein’s “Jonny’s Partay” video show. It will be live at JonnyGoldstein.com on Wednesday from 9-10pm EST. Feel free to view the archive if you miss it (I’ll post a link when it’s available).

The show is a quality video show and it’s become one of my favorite shows to take in through the week (Here’s a sample from last week). So come, harass me, support me, do whatever – just be there.