Monthly Archives: March 2009

My SXSW All-Stars

South by Southwest…what can I say that hasn’t been said. I felt like the bumble bee girl in the Blind Melon video “No Rain.” For someone who is unable to sit through a meeting without thumping her leg/foot 98% of the time, who gets lambasted for not following “the rules” on a regular basis, who sleeps with her iPhone and wakes up in the middle of the night to google something that surfaces in a dream, and whose biggest buying addiction is books, I felt reunited with “my kind.” SXSW is like a giant bazaar for starving geeks to greedily consume and share knowledge and information.

As much as I learned, the event would be not be what it is without the personal interaction. So here are my SXSW All-Stars, the people who made my SXSW experience stellar:

Most Beautiful: Qui Diaz, @beautfiulthangs

Qui and I knew of each other through Twitter but had never met in person or even exchanged tweets. When we were introduced, she was wearing a cowgirl hat & emanated a certain light and joy that felt completely familiar to me. Mary Oliver said, “Beauty without purpose is beauty without virtue…” and Qui’s Twitter bio speaks to her virtue: I heart nonprofits, blog about social media for social good & see beauty everywhere.

Most Refreshing: Guy Kawasaki, @guykawasaki

This guy was in the Blogger’s Lounge passing out Alltop stickers like a band promoter in a parking lot. Humility and modesty are a rarity in our culture and this web celebrity lacks the bravado and hubris too many of the “big names” possess.

Most Passionate: Sheri Graner Ray

Sheri, a Senior Game Designer for companies like Electronic Arts, Origin Systems, Sony Online Entertainment and Cartoon Network, spoke on the panel “Gaming as a Gateway Drug: Getting Girls Interested in Technology” and her passion is infectious. I hope companies listen up and understand that we need to get and keep girls in tech and gaming is one of the best ways to do this. The ones that do WILL dominate the market.

Most Interesting: David Heyman, @davidheyman

David makes geography & cartography cool. He’s hung out with lions and elephants in Kenya, does improv/stand-up comedy and has a vast amount of baseball knowledge.

Most Energizing: Gary Vaynerchuk, @garyvee

Gary Vee is like doing a triple shot of expresso while listening to AC/DC. If you get the chance to hear him speak in person, take it.

Most Impressive: Andy Carvin, @acarvin

As National Public Radio’s senior product manager for online communities, Andy understands news, journalism and the web 2.0 world. Since joining NPR, he’s been working to develop a new online strategy for the organization, including citizen journalism, social networking and user-generated content.

Most Sauce: Laura Fitton , @pistachio

I bonded with Laura over Twitter (I admit, mostly making fun of Andy McAfee). In person, she’s smart and down-to-earth, with a dollop of dead-on snark. She’s the type of person with whom you want to do business AND go grab a drink.

Most Hustle: Larry Chiang, @larrychiang

Good god, does the man ever stop working a room? I’m almost certain he sleeps in a collared shirt, cradling both his blackberry and iPhone in hand, mumbling thoughts about venture capital and credit scores. Check out his tips on “How to Work a Conference.”

Most Surprising: Christopher Barger, @cbarger

Christopher Barger, Director of Global Communications Technology at General Motors, was a surprise. I wasn’t expecting to see anyone from an American Motor Company at SXSW, yet alone on the panel “Digital Tsunami: Breaking News at Breakneck Speeds.” I’m still skeptical. It’s got to be a new way of doing business for how the United States approaches transportation or bow and parish at the feet the innovators of the industry.

Most Thought-Provoking: The panel for “OpenID, OAuth, Data Portability and the Enterprise

The twitter stream from the panel paints a pretty good picture of the discussion: http://search.twitter.com/search?q=+%23sxswid

Joseph Smarr, Chief Platform Architect at Plaxo, gave a choice quote when he described the future of online identities and content: Ownership of user-generated content via open platforms is a “slippery salamander.”

My personal SXSW MVP: Michael Bassik, @mbassik

Michael is the reason I attended SXSW. I highly recommend listening to his panel “What your Startup Can Learn from Barack Obama and Howard Dean.” Thanks, Michael, for showing me the SXSW light:)

“He whose face gives no light, shall never become a star.” ~William Blake

Spying 2.0: What I will & won’t be saying at SXSW

Tomorrow (Friday) I’ll be speaking at SXSW Interactive. I’ve never been to SXSW (yes, I’m a SWirgin) and I have no expectations. The truth is I’m not one of the people you see on the “panel circuit” – in general I prefer to listen and learn – and then assault panelists/speakers with my typical barrage of questions:) My friend submitted the topic and when it got accepted, he asked me to speak and I said yes.

The topic of my talk is Spying 2.0: Can America Compete With Web-Savvy Enemies? For the record: I’m not a spy, most defintely not a Mrs. Smith. I’m a senior research analyst for LMI, a not-for-profit strategic consultancy committed to helping government leaders and managers reach decisions that make a difference.  We work with every federal department, agency, and military service on a broad spectrum of issues and opportunities.  At the beginning of my talk, I will be making the disclaimer that I will not be speaking for any of the clients LMI represents. As a contractor, I cannot refer to any of the projects I work on and as an employee of LMI, my thoughts and opinions expressed during my talk are strictly my own and do not represent those of LMI nor any of the clients LMI serves.

I have a “robust” set of restrictions on what I can and cannot say but the best part is the format of my talk is a Salon, which I’m told is a “tad less formal” and  an alternative to the rigid speaker versus audience format. If you ask me, it sounds like a cocktail party discussion (refreshments will be available) where I present a topic and the objective is to stimulate some good discourse amongst the participants.

I am not an “expert” in anything detailed in my Salon description:

Accelerating technology cycles leave the US intelligence community gasping. Twitter, cloud computing, folksonomies, Loopt… can America’s sclerotic intelligence machinery compete as our enemies adopt cheap, fast-evolving open-source and web 2.0 intel strategies?

Fortunately for me, I don’t have to be. My experience has shown me my network, more times than not, is smarter than the expert.  I do plan on tweeting during my talk and I’ll have my peeps @immunity & @robotchampion in the room. I hope to see some other familiar faces but really I want to generate solid discussion and ideas on the topic.

I have some general thoughts on what I plan on saying, including asking what it means to be a “spy” in today’s day and age when everyone and anyone can take a picture with their cell phone and post it to the internet. And I also want to share something Rod Beckstrom said when I first met him last year: “We’re not safe until we ALL are safe.”  This is not limited to just Americans and our allies.

Dennis Blair, U.S. Director of National Intelligence, recently made the following statement about cybersecurity: “It’s a crew race. The offense pulls ahead -– you find out -– then the defense pulls ahead. We’ve got to keep stroking, faster, better, with more teamwork.” This doesn’t seem to be, in my opinion, a very good long-term strategic plan.  Something has to change.

If you look at the current U.S. administration’s agenda, the breadth of intelligence issues has broadened to include things such as the economy (the President now receives an Economic Daily Briefing) and energy and the environment. My plan for the talk is to share what I can, ask questions, listen and have everyone tweet the hell of it during and after:)

Excuse me while I get my boots on

Spying 2.0: What I will & won't be saying at SXSW

Tomorrow (Friday) I’ll be speaking at SXSW Interactive. I’ve never been to SXSW (yes, I’m a SWirgin) and I have no expectations. The truth is I’m not one of the people you see on the “panel circuit” – in general I prefer to listen and learn – and then assault panelists/speakers with my typical barrage of questions:) My friend submitted the topic and when it got accepted, he asked me to speak and I said yes.

The topic of my talk is Spying 2.0: Can America Compete With Web-Savvy Enemies? For the record: I’m not a spy, most defintely not a Mrs. Smith. I’m a senior research analyst for LMI, a not-for-profit strategic consultancy committed to helping government leaders and managers reach decisions that make a difference.  We work with every federal department, agency, and military service on a broad spectrum of issues and opportunities.  At the beginning of my talk, I will be making the disclaimer that I will not be speaking for any of the clients LMI represents. As a contractor, I cannot refer to any of the projects I work on and as an employee of LMI, my thoughts and opinions expressed during my talk are strictly my own and do not represent those of LMI nor any of the clients LMI serves.

I have a “robust” set of restrictions on what I can and cannot say but the best part is the format of my talk is a Salon, which I’m told is a “tad less formal” and  an alternative to the rigid speaker versus audience format. If you ask me, it sounds like a cocktail party discussion (refreshments will be available) where I present a topic and the objective is to stimulate some good discourse amongst the participants.

I am not an “expert” in anything detailed in my Salon description:

Accelerating technology cycles leave the US intelligence community gasping. Twitter, cloud computing, folksonomies, Loopt… can America’s sclerotic intelligence machinery compete as our enemies adopt cheap, fast-evolving open-source and web 2.0 intel strategies?

Fortunately for me, I don’t have to be. My experience has shown me my network, more times than not, is smarter than the expert.  I do plan on tweeting during my talk and I’ll have my peeps @immunity & @robotchampion in the room. I hope to see some other familiar faces but really I want to generate solid discussion and ideas on the topic.

I have some general thoughts on what I plan on saying, including asking what it means to be a “spy” in today’s day and age when everyone and anyone can take a picture with their cell phone and post it to the internet. And I also want to share something Rod Beckstrom said when I first met him last year: “We’re not safe until we ALL are safe.”  This is not limited to just Americans and our allies.

Dennis Blair, U.S. Director of National Intelligence, recently made the following statement about cybersecurity: “It’s a crew race. The offense pulls ahead -– you find out -– then the defense pulls ahead. We’ve got to keep stroking, faster, better, with more teamwork.” This doesn’t seem to be, in my opinion, a very good long-term strategic plan.  Something has to change.

If you look at the current U.S. administration’s agenda, the breadth of intelligence issues has broadened to include things such as the economy (the President now receives an Economic Daily Briefing) and energy and the environment. My plan for the talk is to share what I can, ask questions, listen and have everyone tweet the hell of it during and after:)

Excuse me while I get my boots on

The Currency of Integrity and Goodness

Lately I’ve become consumed with a topic I see as an inevitable trend in social software and digital identity on the Internet: the currency of integrity and goodness.

First, I thank my colleague Fred for unknowingly interjecting goodness into my ponderance of the notion since my original focus was simply integrity. The fact is, a person can be honestly, wholly and consistently bad yet still have integrity.

Lately social media has become, in my opinion, obsessed with online influence and predominance. Sites like Twinfluence that measure things such as reach, velocity and social capital are amusing to me if only because I look at the lists and think “so what?”  Take for example the Twitterer who at this time has the *most (based on the site’s calculation) Reach, the number of followers a Twitterer has (first-order followers), plus all of their followers (second-order followers). At this time, it is Scot McKay, self-described dating coach, author, podcaster, firestarter, karaoke hack, Dannie and Micky-Mac’s dad and @emilymckay’s knight in shining Under Armour. If Scot McKay says the milk section of the grocery store is the best place to meet a potential dating interest, do people flock there? (PLEASE NOTE: I do not know or follow Scot McKay and to my knowledge he did not tweet this).

I don’t find number of followers interesting. A person can be a celebrity, make a lot of noise, but not get people to act. Influence is the ability to affect a person, thing, or course of events and I’m more interested in the integrity of a person and his or her motivations for doing what they do. I’m more interested in people like Laura Fitton (@pistachio in Twitter) who, when she asks her readers/followers to support a cause she is passionate about, they contribute.

As more and more light has been shed on economic/financial power players like the Bernie Madoffs, Phil Gramms and Allen Stanfords of the world, I’ve been contemplating the price society pays for a lack of integrity and goodness. This weekend I attended several sessions at Transparency Camp in DC and I found two sessions extremely interesting: one on Social Network Analysis by Valdis Krebs, Erin Kenneally and JC Hertz and the other by Kevin Connor, a developer of LittleSis.org, a site that helps spot the symptoms of corruption and cronyism in the political process and promotes government and corporate accountability.  I think we will be seeing a trend of companies, organizations and citizens taking a greater interest in how much integrity a person or entity has and the relative “goodness” of their pursuits since the current trajectory of social transparency means it will be more and more difficult to “behave badly” without folks knowing about it. The price of things such as blind greed or even prejudice might get significantly more expensive. This could benefit societies at large since the culmination of an individual’s lack of integrity and solely self-motivated pursuits has the ability to hurt the greater good. Take for example former executive director of the CIA, Kyle “Dusty” Foggo who had a record of misconduct that stretched over 20 years. When the public reads stories like this, I guarantee his association with the agency does not go unnoticed and very likely denigrates the integrity of the agency as a whole.

People are social creatures. We like to conform, as shown by studies like the Asch conformity experiments, a series of studies published in the 1950s that demonstrated the power of conformity in groups. The danger in this lies in the fact that just as quickly as something or someone can become popular, the reverse is true and if you look at social markets in the same light as financial ones, then the predisposition towards large “unexpected” fluctations should hold true. For this reason, I think we’ll start seeing people and entities question their associations with more rigor than in the past, or potentially pay a price.