What's Your Legacy?

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Back in December, the blogging world was struck dumb when Marc Orchant passed away suddenly due to a heart attack. I don’t want to rehash all the details as you can find them elsewhere. Sufficed to say, many tears were shed over his passing.

Time heals all wounds, right? No, not quite.

Today, GigaOm announced the “acquisition” of mobile gadget site jkOnTheRun. To me, an interesting subplot was the post that James Kendrick from jkOnTheRun wrote mourning the fact that Marc was not present to enjoy the excitement of the acquisition. This in turn spurred this FriendFeed conversation.

  • Steve Rubel shared an item on Google Reader – I miss Marc Orchant
  • Aaron Brazell, Andrew Baron, Jason Calacanis, James Hull, paul mooney, Peter Dawson, David Risley, Dave Martin, matt hollingsworth and Dan Liebke liked this
  • I miss Marc too and his writings – Steve Rubel
  • me three. – Robert Scoble
  • Same here. – James Hull
  • Today is dedicated to Marc. He helped get me my first paid blogging gig and now our blog is part of Om’s network. Thanks Marc. – Kevin C. Tofel
  • me 2 – Peter Dawson
  • He would have been proud – James Tenniswood
  • @Kevin he is smiling today. – Steve Rubel
  • Steve, I think you’re right. I hope he knows the profound influence he had on so many people. I’m humbled to call him a friend. – Kevin C. Tofel
  • I miss him too! I was talking about him at dinner tonight. Gnomedex is coming up and I was thinking how great it was to see him last year at the event. I was so lucky to spend time with him. – Betsy Weber
  • Now you know why Marc has a big thumbs-up wherever he might be. :) – James Kendrick
  • yeah…. me too. i think about him when Gnomedex, CES and DEMO conferences roll around. He was a true gentleman and a scholar. still have him on my skype….. every now and then i think of sending him a note. – Jason Calacanis
  • Me too. :( Gnomedex was the last time I ever saw Marc. – Aaron Brazell
  • Aaron: you were the last person he tweeted as well… as I’m sure you know. – Jason Calacanis
  • I remember, Jason… :( – Aaron Brazell
  • I had the good fortune to work with Marc’s daughter Rebecca at PR Newswire. Rebecca and I set at adjacent desks and she was very helpful to me. I never had the good fortune to meet Marc but truly enjoyed working with Rebecca. It’s nice to know that this man who resided in the place I now live is so well remembered. – James
  • Me too. Marc was always a ray of light, always uplifting. Made you feel good about the human race. – Cameron Reilly

Of course, I was the last person Marc ever tweeted when I was in the midst of trying to quit smoking.
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To this day, I think about Marc and this conversation brought everything flooding back. I more than occasionally wonder how Sue, his wife, is doing and have often thought about looking her up and giving her a call. But, then I think it still might be too soon. I don’t know.

What struck me about this friendfeed conversation is the word “legacy”. Marc had a legacy and it has carried over past his death. Legacy is the effect you have on people when you are gone. Legacy is the weight of your presence when you are not present.

Marc’s legacy lives on as he has positively changed so many lives and those lives remember.

Right now, the conversation in the technology blogging sphere is about relevance. It is hitting a moment where survival of the fittest is kicking into gear. Currently, everyone is fighting over the Techmeme scraps dropped from the plates of a few. Who can get the most pageviews? Who can track into top positions? It’s all very short sighted.

Value is created when you are able to positively affect the lives of those around you. Maybe talking about Seagate drives is not quite as sexy as adopting children in Africa, but it changes the way that a technology manager invests money.

Discussing African American history with a historian, as we will do on Saturday evening has the potential to affect real lives. Talking about how to be like Julia Allison does not.

Legacy is the mark you leave on a society when you are blessed to no longer be a part of it. Marc left his legacy. I hope to leave mine. What are you doing to leave a mark?

The Power of Bloggers

I subscribe to a handful of blogs that are completely unrelated to my niche. The reason behind these subscriptions are varied: historical niche coverage that I’ve done (for instance, politics when I got started), friends or associates, really killer blogs related to specific sports teams, etc. There’s different reason. Largely, though, my RSS reader is a smattering of technology news, analysis, business, etc combined with a growing number of search feeds from Technorati, Google Blog Search or Icerocket.

One of the blogs I do subscribe to is Outside the Beltway which is one of the few political blogs that stuck after I stopped covering politics. Occasionally, James covers a topic that has crossover into the Technosailor market. This was one of those posts.

I still think the political space is different than the rest of the blogosphere and is a bit myopic (okay, a lot!), but there’s some great stuff. In his article, James notes that back when he began blogging in 2003(?), bloggers liked to write about blogging.

Unfortunately, it’s still that way today. Am I doing it now?

Largely, he makes a good point inadvertently, that the great blogs today are blogs that have something to say. They might be seen as “media”, depending on the niche. They might be seen as Journalists, depending on the niche. In the tech space, I’d call Gigaom a journalistic property, more than a blog. TechCrunch is largely a media organization, but I do question the journalistic legitimacy of a “publish now, correct later” site (something that Mike acknowledged in a Mesh Conference keynote last year and numerous other times as well).

I don’t want to get broiled down in the question of what is journalism and what is not? I don’t really want to discuss the “media merit” of any site, really.

More importantly, there is an evolution that takes place where a blog goes from a blog to a media property. It’s hard to tell, at least for me, what that point is. Is it when a site gets more than one author? Is it when there is a certain “rate of fire” on posts per day? Per week?

Is it pageviews and eyeballs? Is it simply a nomenclature thing where the Editor stops considering and calling the site a blog and starts referring to it as something else? Is it advertising? Is it the presence and participation in a network?

What’s the difference? Where is the line?

I think it’s obvious that some sites are “media” while others are not, but where and how does this evolution take place?

I expect other people to have different theories than I do, and that’s okay. My feeling is that it’s a combination of all of those things, but mostly it’s how the site is “sold” to readers? I see Technosailor.com, for instance, as a media property. Yes, it’s a blog? But is it?

We’ve recently refreshed the layout of the site to be more of a newspaper look, thanks to a large degree of influence from Huffington Post and The New York Times – both significant, and undeniable, “media outlets”.

Is that enough though? Probably not.

I’ve also hired other writers and contributors with an eye on hiring more as I’m able to recoup costs via advertising and other sponsorship. This is another ingredient, or at least that’s what Google News believes, since it does not accept any sources that don’t have multiple authors.

What’s the difference? Where is the evolutionary point?

Valleyboys: It's All About the Money

Late last night I was finishing up a presentation for a class I’m taking when Jeremiah Owyang from Forrester made a statement on Twitter which made me cringe. The statement, though profound to someone living in the heart of Silicon Valley, is completely absent any reason to the observer outside of the Valley. Keep in mind the Parable of the Three Bloggers as I quote him.

Quote:

We work really hard in Silicon Valley, why? It’s not the money (only a few strike it ‘rich’) I think it’s the passion for creating new

Someone should remind Jeremiah of the 140 character limit of Twitter. ;)

I take a lot of exception to this statement because it is exceptionally wrong. Not only exceptionally wrong, but naive.

First of all, as an insider it’s easy to say everyone is just working to create and innovate. While that’s true to a certain extent, it was much more true two years ago. As the outsider to the Valley that I am, I’d say the Valley is one of four North American hotspots for money flow – Boston, New York, Canada (Toronto) and the Valley.

That places these four locations on the map as one of the four places every entrepreneur in North America wants to be. The reason why DEMO and TechCrunch 40 were so successful is because entrepreneurs want money!

Yes, they need money. This is true. But the drive for more money is beyond what it was when the interactive web was in its infancy and companies really were sprouting up because people wanted to work passionately on a project. They discovered some idea and the technology had matured enough that the idea could be pursued.

Today, we are talking about San Francisco-based Automattic valuating at numbers well in excess of $200M, Palo Alto-based Facebook (along with some fuzzy math) weighing in at some $15B. GigaOmniMedia, the parent company of GigaOm and the rest of Om Malik’s empire getting $1M+ for hardware, or something…

Everyday, new companies are being funded and it’s mostly in the Valley.

I love the Valley. I love the entrepreneurs in the Valley. I wish I was there living but no job has taken me there yet. But it’s a very introspective and naive thought to believe that the Valley is full of people who just are passionate. Yes, passionate people make the best companies. That I will not argue with. I think there is more passion to get the big exit than to build a solid product.

I could be wrong. Feel free to correct me. ;-)