Monthly Archives: December 2008

Twitter Silence: A Diary

Day 1 (Monday)

After being in New York over the weekend for the She’s Geeky unconference and my good friend’s birthday, I ended up taking a sick day to recoup. Since I wasn’t at work, where I am unable to stay continuously engaged in the online world, I didn’t feel my usual craving to be connected and tuned in. This made it very easy not to tweet, because I did have web and mobile access and was able to use SMS and chat. My twitter prohibition allowed me to be totally self-focused and this impunity from the need to share enabled me to be noticeably productive. I knocked off several tasks from my M-F, 9-5 “to-do” list.

Day 2 (Tuesday)

In the morning I attended the Energy Forum and it was relief not to tweet (although @cheeky_geeky outed me); I could just listen and consume without feeling the need to share what I was hearing and experiencing. But being at the Forum reinforced the reality that energy issues will only be addressed through global participation and it will require cooperation with countries like China and this was distressing because I know our country and government is not at a place to cooperate. Then I was off to a meeting at work which was draining in the sense that didn’t feel like it accomplished much. I left work to put a contract on a condo and this was perhaps the most difficult aspect of my week. I have never assumed such a large financial responsibility on my own and this level of stress created an overwhelming need for social support, interaction and perspective. Even though I was leveraging SMS and chat, I truly missed Twitter:

Twitter is my relationship
I wake up with Twitter
I go to bed with Twitter
I’m lonely without it

I feel neglected
unloved
untouched
ignored
I’m pouting, sticking out my bottom lip:(

Day 3 (Wednesday)

I saw Cal at the office. I hadn’t seen him for a while and whenever I do seem him, I just light up. He interviewed me for the training role and he’s the reason I got involved with social software. My first IC consulting role at a another agency was uninspiring to say the least, and I psychologically withered from the political, cultural and physical barriers that anchored the agency to an un-evolved way of doing business. Cal shared with me his vision for intelligence and exposed me to the innovative, forward-looking thinking many of my colleagues possess. He happens to be one the people I respect the most in my professional life: he has an extremely creative and agile mind, capable of examining thoughts and ideas to evolve his own beliefs but lacks the braggadocio and self-centeredness that so many idea champions possess. This is the moment I wanted to tweet the most – to share the energy I experienced from interacting with him.

By the afternoon, I was entirely focused on checking out activity in the analyst workspaces, and felt a shift to not caring what was going on outside this environment. I had little interest in what was happening in Twitter, Facebook, and Blip because I not could participate.

I also read a fantastic article in Portfolio magazine on Paul Krugman’s bailout dissent that I wanted to share.

Day 4 (Thursday)

I woke up feeling socially isolated and I had this feeling of wanting to leave my current role. I attended mandatory Ethics training in the morning and was reminded of the all the rules public servants must abide by.  I learned that the Hatch Act doesn’t apply to contractors, I can only have one bumper sticker on my car and I can accept gifts up to $335 from foreign nationals.

I also thought is was funny the briefing starting off with this quote by Plato: Good people do not need laws to tell them to act responsibly, while bad people will find a way around the laws. It seems like all the innovation and positive change I’ve seen has come from people who have found ways to get things done in spite of the rules and regulations that encumber them.

Day 5 (Friday)

It was a productive daty at work; I holed up in the lab, sat in my old desk in the corner and was extremely focused and in my own world. I eliminated my online and physical distractions and was able to pull my thoughts together for a blog post I had been wanting to write.  I also had a heart-to-heart with colleague who I had been needing to share my thoughts with and we both walked away feeling better about some issues that had surfaced at work.

That night I attended the Atlas Corps holiday party and met Harris Wolford (former PA Senator and Co-Founder of the Peace Corps) and enjoyed talking to a bunch of folks I hadn’t seen for a while or hadn’t met before, including Senator Wolford’s super cute aid. I texted my friend because I had to share this with someone!  I had an aha moment when I realized the Twitterverse was missing out.

I also found out the seller accepted and ratified my contract on the condo.

Day 6 (Saturday)

I woke up and didn’t really care what was going on. I felt at ease, not distracted and was productive. I read and wrote a lot. I ended up not going to several events I was supposed to attend. I just hung low.

Day 7 (Sunday)

This was the most difficult day I’ve experienced – in a long time. The reality of becoming a homeowner and assuming a great financial responsibility during a volatile market really hit me. I spent most of the day in the apartment, reading, reviewing the condo docs and talking to two of my close friends and my mom about the new purchase. I didn’t feel comfortable with the price I was buying at. My real estate friend said if I didn’t feel good about the offer, I had (3) days to counter, even though it was a ratified contract, since contract law provides for a 3-day live window. I didn’t know I could do this.

I talked to Steve for an hour on the phone. I’m so thankful to have someone who makes me laugh and keeps things in perspective like he does.  I made the decision to counter on the contract.

The Value of Twitter: Part I

Among Twitter users, the term  “Twitter addict” freely circulates and is unabashedly self-proclaimed by many members of the community. I am one of these people, who finds the allure so irresistible, I am often teased about my usage.

I started using Twitter in mid-2007. I don’t know the exact date because I have over 8,000 updates and unless someone can prove otherwise, Twitter and Twitter-tangent apps don’t allow me to dig back into the archives this far.

I have often debated the value of Twitter, most notably with Andrew McAfee, associate professor at Harvard Business School and Enterprise 2.0, Boston Red Sox and New York Times crossword puzzle aficionado. Since his first tweet on June 4, 2008, he and I have exchanged jabs, on the verge of SNL Point-Counterpoint diatribes, over each other’s usage, with him calling me an “emotion-junkie” and me calling him a “repressed hoarder.”  I can’t deny his accusation since I believe emotions are self-illuminating cues to what both drives us as well as areas for attention and self-betterment.

*NOTE: I saw Andy on June 1, 2008 at the Government Leadership Summit and took the opportunity to ‘lightly’ antagonize him for not using Twitter.  Three days later, @amcafee arrives. Coincidence? Maybe, maybe not.

My ongoing debate over the use and value of Twitter with my Twitter antagonist led me to examine my own usage and re-evaluate the value of Twitter.  What were the costs versus the benefits to both me and my followers for my participation in Twitter?  I decided the best way for me to answer this was to step off of the Twitter playing field for a week and take a “carrot and stick” approach to break my addictive behavior. I, the competitive being that I am, conceived a wager in which the reward would provide me something I infinitely desire – insight into people, and in this case, a person.

For one week I would refrain from using Twitter, Facebook, and Blip (my three most favorite online community applications ) in exchange for one day of Andrew McAfee departing from his usual perfuctory, minimum participation  in Twitter.  The product was a wager built collaboratively and transparently in a Google Doc:

http://docs.google.com/Doc?id=ddz85z7r_13gpj74bd4

Today is my final day of silence.  I have kept a journal throughout the week which I will be publishing, including insights I have gained.  I can say regardless of whether or not Andy ends up executing the terms of his side of the wager, the value has been in the journey, not the destination.

[photo – eldh (black/white twitter)]

How a Nerd Starts a Business

Step 1 -find a pretty girl. Check, that’s Amy Senger.

Step 2 – completely geek out on the technology. Check, see below

Step 3 – throw a rad party. Hmm, we just started and we aren’t sitting on a horde of cash…this is going to be tough.

Step 4 – plot world domination. In due time my friends, in due time.

—-

I should say that it’s been surprisingly easy and fun to start this business. There are so many cool tools to use and I seem to know an awful lot about this internet thing.

Though…should I be surprised that all my nerd hobbies are becoming crucial “business elements” now?

Sounds like a solid career choice to me :)

Now to get down to business. Here are some of the steps we’ve taken in the formation of the business.

  1. Domain – this is our business card, our google rep, and our contact info. It was real cheap too, at less than 6$ per month. I registered our domain at Go Daddy and then used my existing web host 1&1. We have tons of server space with 120gb, easy FTP using cyber duck, and all the sub domains we want.
  2. Email – this was kinda fun to set-up. Google for Business lets you create a ridiculous amount of email accounts for free. You can choose any name you want and use your domain/business name as the address. You use gmail and all of its great features, including the ability to forward mail. Which is great because Amy and I can forward all business email to our main inboxes. This allows us to view all email in one location and we can even choose which addy we want to reply from. Here are our new addy’s:
    1. amy@1h57.com
    2. steve@1h57.com
  3. Design – ok, I’m not too proud of this, but I just used a standard theme for WordPress. It’s just too easy to create a mySQL database and then install WordPress. It comes ready to go with a blog, site manager, and tons of plug-ins. It’s easy for non developers like Amy and I, to manage. I hope to someday master firebug and put my design skills to the test, until then we are enjoying the fruits of the amazing WordPress theme designers.
  4. Presence – this is actually the easy part for Amy and I. It’s kinda our specialty. We integrated ourselves in Virginia and filed all the correct local and federal papers. We post our resumes online (mine, Amy’s), twitter the heck out of it, and write blog posts like this one. Only trouble now is we have to “digitize” our resumes, which means converting them to html, pdf, and adding links all over them.
  5. Other – this is where i get to play. Our site is tracked for metrics using Google Analytics. I’ve installed Recaptcha, comment subscriptions, created a favicon, pushed an XML sitemap, checked our google rank, and began registering 1h57 on every site I can think of.

Whew, sounds like a lot of work, but it’s really wasn’t. The combined time, energy, and money spent is very tiny. We have so much to build upon too. Which is great because being a small business is all about building. We have a solid foundation to grow on now.

Still, there is tons left to do, like complete step three by throw a “coming out” party. It will have to be cheap though, since we are just fledgling entrepreneurs. Tossing around ideas on how to do that…

Any ideas you have for that, for help on step four – world domination, or anything else are welcome.

Thanks for reading.