The Story of 1×57 & A Clean Life

On Monday, August 7, 2006, I started a new role as an instructor for a sabbatical program that is, what I consider, the gold standard for how enterprises should educate and teach its employees how and why to use social, web 2.0 software. I know the date, because 4 days prior, I called off my engagement and showed up to one of my best friend’s wedding, without my fiance. My friend reminds me of this and the date on a regular basis. I share this only because it is a turning point in the history of my life, a crossroads of sorts, when I decided to deviate from everything I knew and thought I wanted.

Enter Steve.

Steve and I were the first set of instructors to support what has become the Sean and Don show – the creators and pioneers of the program. If there is one thing that stands out in my mind about Steve and my initial impression of him, it was his total state of ease. I guess when you’ve spent time as a high school teacher and a software manager at Blizzard, teaching the intel community how to collaborate and share knowledge virtually isn’t a difficult transition.

Steve and I spent a year together in the lab, teaching and running the sabbatical. If I am considered by anyone today a good instructor, it’s because of him. During that time, we talked, a lot. Sometimes we would spend hours just talking, and debating. Most of the time his logic didn’t make sense to me. But that’s what I liked. The lab was the place where you could vent, learn, regenerate, geek-out, trade and argue ideas and thoughts, lay in the middle of the floor in the dead-man’s upward-facing floating position in total exasperation with the world.

1×57 is an inside joke. What it stands for is a foundation, a base…the place where it’s okay to be the renegade, the radical, the rebel, the dissident. That’s why Steve and I started it – our virtual home to be us.

Since I’ve known him, Steve has always been a “trash man.” My earliest memories include him not throwing away a single scrap of paper. And making sure we were first to have a recycling bin as part of a facilities pilot. And him ALWAYS using a ceramic mug and bowl for his morning tea and “mush.” And him reusing his plastic salad container, washing it out EVERY single day. And him rarely buying new clothes – instead opting for trips to Buffalo Exchange, the “hip” thrift clothing exchange store. If there is one thing most people will agree on about Steve, it’s that he’s not wasteful. He has mastered the art of efficiency and resourcefulness. This is who Steve is.

So when Steve told me he was leaving DC to start a non-profit to reduce waste in our country, I thought, “What a great idea,” – but that quickly changed to, “What the f$ck!?! You’re supposed to be my partner in 1×57.” I realized, however, that Steve is doing exactly what 1×57 is all about. He’s following his own truth. People have asked me why I’m helping him with A Clean Life. It’s difficult for me to understand why the question is being asked in the first place. Since when does helping a friend require an explanation? Actually, since when did not trashing your home go out of practice – shouldn’t we all be participating? I could say that my concentration in college was “Environment” and that the thesis I wrote is being used today for JMU’s Sustainability program. Or that starting at age 10, I was asking my parents what happened to all the trash we produced and shouldn’t we care about it? Or that “The ultimate test of a moral society is the kind of world that it leaves to its children.”(~Dietrich Bonhoeffer)

Ultimately, though, I believe in Steve. From the day I met him, I’ve felt this need – this pull, this push – to help him. I can’t explain it. Our relationship doesn’t make sense to a lot of people and it has changed over the years. But what hasn’t changed is how I know whenever we’re together, whether we’re talking, or fighting, or whatever, it’s worth more than anything material I can ever possess.

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.

Don’t Hate the Player, Hate the Game

Madoff, the SEC, hedge funds & the IC

After reading the testimony of Harry Markopolos, the whistleblower in the Madoff Ponzi scheme who crafted such a compelling reconstruction of events he deserves a Nobel Prize in Literature simply for the writing itself, I thought, “Don’t hate the player, hate the game.” Markopolos’ 58-page confessional and call to arms illustrates a process so painstakingly onerous, it invoked an image straight out of Kafka’s A Message from the Emperor:

The messenger started off at once, a powerful, tireless man. Sticking one arm out and then another, he makes his way through the crowd. If he runs into resistance, he points to his breast where there is a sign of the sun. So he moves forwards easily, unlike anyone else. But the crowd is so huge; its dwelling places are infinite. If there were an open field, how he would fly along, and soon you would hear the marvelous pounding of his fist on your door. But instead of that, how futile are all his efforts. He is still forcing his way through the private rooms of the innermost palace. Never will he win his way through. And if he did manage that, nothing would have been achieved. He would have to fight his way down the steps, and, if he managed to do that, nothing would have been achieved.

Markopolos began investigating Bernie Madoff in 1999, but due to consistent inadequacies and roadblocks, he was unable to elicit any action that could stop Madoff from his carrying out his odyssey of deceit. As easy as it would be to burn Madoff at the stakes and line up all the individuals guilty of inaction and ignorance for the firing squad, I’m more interested in the future of hedge funds.

For over a decade I have been fascinated by hedge funds – mainly due to the lack of transparency and oversight they have enjoyed since their inception in 1949. In reading Mr. Markopolos’ testimony, I couldn’t help but draw parallels to the Intelligence Community, who after 9/11, has been accused of “failing to connect the dots” (even though the dots in many ways were connected). Like the Intelligence Community, hedge funds are a dark market in that:

“…they do not trade on exchanges, they are not registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission, they are subject to few regulations, and their investors are not extended the same consumer-protection benefits that are given to investors in mutual funds and other entities that fall under the 1940 Investment Company Act.” (Knowledge@Wharton)

My greatest curiosity concerning hedge funds revolves around who benefits from them (and how greatly) and how have they continued to operate in such opaque circumstances after bombastic failures such as Long-Term Capital Management which required bailout supervision by the Federal Reserve. Whenever staggering amounts of money are involved, as is the case with hedge funds and the intelligence community and national security/defense, I sometimes wonder if the breadth and reach of the implications of who benefits and how becomes such a quagmire that any effort to address them with transparency seems disastrous and humiliating at the level of The Emperor’s New Clothes.

In his 30-page course of action to address securities fraud, Mr. Markapolos offers insightful, well-defined, and reasonable solutions; however, he omits two important components: 1) hedge fund transparency/regulation (which is currently being tackled by the Grassley/Levin Hedge Fund Transparency Act and 2) information technology.

If the SEC can learn one thing from the IC, it is the benefit of an integrated information technology system. The SEC, with its twelve offices across the country, along with agencies such as the IRS and DoJ, needs a better way to “talk to each other” (akin to an Intelink) – so the organizations can fluidly share information and utilize communal services to detect fraud. Markopolus’ idea of providing all employees access to a Bloomberg machine (a top-of-the-line financial, regulatory, and market database) is a plainly obvious one, noting that “most SEC offices are lucky to have even one Bloomberg machine for the entire region’s use.” The IC, via the DNI‘s Intelligence Community Enterprise Services (ICES), is provided a set of solutions that include enterprise search, a commnunity-wide wiki, blogs, instant messaging, social bookmarking, document sharing, video sharing, image sharing, and more. Our regulatory agencies need a common suite of tools, the same ones used by private/commericial financial institutions, that allow for greater analytic and data access capabilities.

If the IC can learn one thing from Markopolos and the SEC, it’s that if speaking truth to power is tough, bringing action against power is damn near impossible. Markopolos notes factors such as fear, lack of competence and vested interests as contributors to the abject failure of the regulatory system. His recommendation of creating an Office of the Whistleblower to “centralize the handling and investigation of whistleblower tips” is something the IC could implement to solicit and centralize anti-collaboration activities that would allow all IC members to contribute encountered instances of hoarding and/or resistance to knowledge-sharing in a systemic, protected manner. This would be in line with ICD 501 that strengthens the “sharing, integration, and management of information within the Intelligence Community (IC), and establishes policies for: (1) discovery; and (2) dissemination or retrieval of intelligence and intelligence-related information collected or analysis produced by the IC.”

If the IC and SEC can learn one thing from each other, it’s that while black markets will exist, there needs to be mechanisms to shed light on them.

Don't Hate the Player, Hate the Game

Madoff, the SEC, hedge funds & the IC

After reading the testimony of Harry Markopolos, the whistleblower in the Madoff Ponzi scheme who crafted such a compelling reconstruction of events he deserves a Nobel Prize in Literature simply for the writing itself, I thought, “Don’t hate the player, hate the game.” Markopolos’ 58-page confessional and call to arms illustrates a process so painstakingly onerous, it invoked an image straight out of Kafka’s A Message from the Emperor:

The messenger started off at once, a powerful, tireless man. Sticking one arm out and then another, he makes his way through the crowd. If he runs into resistance, he points to his breast where there is a sign of the sun. So he moves forwards easily, unlike anyone else. But the crowd is so huge; its dwelling places are infinite. If there were an open field, how he would fly along, and soon you would hear the marvelous pounding of his fist on your door. But instead of that, how futile are all his efforts. He is still forcing his way through the private rooms of the innermost palace. Never will he win his way through. And if he did manage that, nothing would have been achieved. He would have to fight his way down the steps, and, if he managed to do that, nothing would have been achieved.

Markopolos began investigating Bernie Madoff in 1999, but due to consistent inadequacies and roadblocks, he was unable to elicit any action that could stop Madoff from his carrying out his odyssey of deceit. As easy as it would be to burn Madoff at the stakes and line up all the individuals guilty of inaction and ignorance for the firing squad, I’m more interested in the future of hedge funds.

For over a decade I have been fascinated by hedge funds – mainly due to the lack of transparency and oversight they have enjoyed since their inception in 1949. In reading Mr. Markopolos’ testimony, I couldn’t help but draw parallels to the Intelligence Community, who after 9/11, has been accused of “failing to connect the dots” (even though the dots in many ways were connected). Like the Intelligence Community, hedge funds are a dark market in that:

“…they do not trade on exchanges, they are not registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission, they are subject to few regulations, and their investors are not extended the same consumer-protection benefits that are given to investors in mutual funds and other entities that fall under the 1940 Investment Company Act.” (Knowledge@Wharton)

My greatest curiosity concerning hedge funds revolves around who benefits from them (and how greatly) and how have they continued to operate in such opaque circumstances after bombastic failures such as Long-Term Capital Management which required bailout supervision by the Federal Reserve. Whenever staggering amounts of money are involved, as is the case with hedge funds and the intelligence community and national security/defense, I sometimes wonder if the breadth and reach of the implications of who benefits and how becomes such a quagmire that any effort to address them with transparency seems disastrous and humiliating at the level of The Emperor’s New Clothes.

In his 30-page course of action to address securities fraud, Mr. Markapolos offers insightful, well-defined, and reasonable solutions; however, he omits two important components: 1) hedge fund transparency/regulation (which is currently being tackled by the Grassley/Levin Hedge Fund Transparency Act and 2) information technology.

If the SEC can learn one thing from the IC, it is the benefit of an integrated information technology system. The SEC, with its twelve offices across the country, along with agencies such as the IRS and DoJ, needs a better way to “talk to each other” (akin to an Intelink) – so the organizations can fluidly share information and utilize communal services to detect fraud. Markopolus’ idea of providing all employees access to a Bloomberg machine (a top-of-the-line financial, regulatory, and market database) is a plainly obvious one, noting that “most SEC offices are lucky to have even one Bloomberg machine for the entire region’s use.” The IC, via the DNI‘s Intelligence Community Enterprise Services (ICES), is provided a set of solutions that include enterprise search, a commnunity-wide wiki, blogs, instant messaging, social bookmarking, document sharing, video sharing, image sharing, and more. Our regulatory agencies need a common suite of tools, the same ones used by private/commericial financial institutions, that allow for greater analytic and data access capabilities.

If the IC can learn one thing from Markopolos and the SEC, it’s that if speaking truth to power is tough, bringing action against power is damn near impossible. Markopolos notes factors such as fear, lack of competence and vested interests as contributors to the abject failure of the regulatory system. His recommendation of creating an Office of the Whistleblower to “centralize the handling and investigation of whistleblower tips” is something the IC could implement to solicit and centralize anti-collaboration activities that would allow all IC members to contribute encountered instances of hoarding and/or resistance to knowledge-sharing in a systemic, protected manner. This would be in line with ICD 501 that strengthens the “sharing, integration, and management of information within the Intelligence Community (IC), and establishes policies for: (1) discovery; and (2) dissemination or retrieval of intelligence and intelligence-related information collected or analysis produced by the IC.”

If the IC and SEC can learn one thing from each other, it’s that while black markets will exist, there needs to be mechanisms to shed light on them.

Two Conferences Worth Attending – SXSW & ETech

It’s another year and another round of conferences to attend. Personally, I love conferences but can only stand one or two each year. I learn so much and make so many contacts from each one that I prefer to learn/digest/build rather than continue on the roadshow.

As such, here are two for 2009 that Amy and I are most interested in. They are the South by Southwest (SXSW) Interactice and the O’Reilly Emerging Technology Conference. What you will find below is a write-up about the conferences that I create for my customer and bosses. I really hope to get one of them to come with us this year.

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SXSW Interactive

The Brightest Minds in Emerging Technology

Summary:

SXSW Interactive Festival covers a full range topics, from blogging trends and CMS techniques to tech-related social issues and wireless innovation. There will be more than 180 panel sessions on the following topics:

  • Advertising / Marketing
  • Business / Entrepreneurial
  • Community / Social Networks
  • Content
  • Digital Filmmaking
  • Human / Social Issues
  • Mobile / Wireless
  • New Technology / Next Generation
  • Programming
  • Web / Interface Design

Keynotes:

  • Tony Hsieh (Zappos.com)
  • Chris Anderson, editor-in-chief of Wired Magazine, author of the “The Long Tail: Why the Future of Business is Selling Less of More,”
  • Guy Kawasaki (of Apple and several VC companies)

Date/Location:

  • Friday afternoon, March 13 through Tuesday afternoon, March 17
  • Austin, TX

Website:

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O’Reilly Emerging Technology Conference

Summary:

The event gathers together the world’s most interesting people to bring to light the important and disruptive innovations that we see on the horizon, rather than the ones that have already arrived. ETech hones in on what’s going to be making a difference not this year, or maybe even next year, but around the corner as the market digests the next wave of hacker-led surprises.

Since 2002, ETech has put onstage the blue sky innovation, from thought leaders finding ways to solve the world’s ills to hackers modding, breaking, and building for the fun of it, from P2P and swarm intelligence to social software and collective intelligence. Radical and unknown at the time, today many of the ideas first seen at ETech are on the tongues of investors and business pundits–and in the hands of consumers, fundamentally changing the way we live, work, and play.

Topics:

  • Mobile & the Web
  • City Tech – Can technology create a livable, prosperous, sustainable city? Which emerging technologies are poised to deliver a brighter, greener future?
  • Health – What are the breakthroughs in technology, genomics, medicine, anti-aging, drug development, and delivery that will make a difference in extending our lives and enhancing our quality of life?
  • Materials – We’ll examine the latest in mechanics and the materials that enable new developments. What mechanisms will be possible? How will the coming age of materials change our clothes, our products, and our everyday lives?
  • Life – What are the emerging technologies that promise to infuse themselves into our cultural and social fabric to help us work smarter, more efficiently, and create greater connectivity?

Keynotes:

  • Mary Lou Jepsen, dubbed one of Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in 2008
  • Joi Ito (Creative Commons), Creative Commons – Creating Legal and Technical Interoperability
  • Drew Endy, David Grewal (BioBricks Foundation)
  • Jason Schultz (UC Berkeley School of Law), Building a New Biology
  • Eric Paulos (Carnegie Mellon University), Enabling Citizen Science
  • Jane McGonigal (Avant Game), Superstruct: How to Invent the Future by Playing a Game
  • Aaron Koblin of Google, Making Art with Lasers, Sensors and the Net
  • Tony Jebara (Columbia University), Mobile phones reveal the behavior of places and people

Date/Location:

  • March 9-12
  • San Jose, CA

Website:

Two Conferences Worth Attending – SXSW & ETech

It’s another year and another round of conferences to attend. Personally, I love conferences but can only stand one or two each year. I learn so much and make so many contacts from each one that I prefer to learn/digest/build rather than continue on the roadshow.

As such, here are two for 2009 that Amy and I are most interested in. They are the South by Southwest (SXSW) Interactice and the O’Reilly Emerging Technology Conference. What you will find below is a write-up about the conferences that I create for my customer and bosses. I really hope to get one of them to come with us this year.

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SXSW Interactive

The Brightest Minds in Emerging Technology

Summary:

SXSW Interactive Festival covers a full range topics, from blogging trends and CMS techniques to tech-related social issues and wireless innovation. There will be more than 180 panel sessions on the following topics:

  • Advertising / Marketing
  • Business / Entrepreneurial
  • Community / Social Networks
  • Content
  • Digital Filmmaking
  • Human / Social Issues
  • Mobile / Wireless
  • New Technology / Next Generation
  • Programming
  • Web / Interface Design

Keynotes:

  • Tony Hsieh (Zappos.com)
  • Chris Anderson, editor-in-chief of Wired Magazine, author of the “The Long Tail: Why the Future of Business is Selling Less of More,”
  • Guy Kawasaki (of Apple and several VC companies)

Date/Location:

  • Friday afternoon, March 13 through Tuesday afternoon, March 17
  • Austin, TX

Website:

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O’Reilly Emerging Technology Conference

Summary:

The event gathers together the world’s most interesting people to bring to light the important and disruptive innovations that we see on the horizon, rather than the ones that have already arrived. ETech hones in on what’s going to be making a difference not this year, or maybe even next year, but around the corner as the market digests the next wave of hacker-led surprises.

Since 2002, ETech has put onstage the blue sky innovation, from thought leaders finding ways to solve the world’s ills to hackers modding, breaking, and building for the fun of it, from P2P and swarm intelligence to social software and collective intelligence. Radical and unknown at the time, today many of the ideas first seen at ETech are on the tongues of investors and business pundits–and in the hands of consumers, fundamentally changing the way we live, work, and play.

Topics:

  • Mobile & the Web
  • City Tech – Can technology create a livable, prosperous, sustainable city? Which emerging technologies are poised to deliver a brighter, greener future?
  • Health – What are the breakthroughs in technology, genomics, medicine, anti-aging, drug development, and delivery that will make a difference in extending our lives and enhancing our quality of life?
  • Materials – We’ll examine the latest in mechanics and the materials that enable new developments. What mechanisms will be possible? How will the coming age of materials change our clothes, our products, and our everyday lives?
  • Life – What are the emerging technologies that promise to infuse themselves into our cultural and social fabric to help us work smarter, more efficiently, and create greater connectivity?

Keynotes:

  • Mary Lou Jepsen, dubbed one of Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in 2008
  • Joi Ito (Creative Commons), Creative Commons – Creating Legal and Technical Interoperability
  • Drew Endy, David Grewal (BioBricks Foundation)
  • Jason Schultz (UC Berkeley School of Law), Building a New Biology
  • Eric Paulos (Carnegie Mellon University), Enabling Citizen Science
  • Jane McGonigal (Avant Game), Superstruct: How to Invent the Future by Playing a Game
  • Aaron Koblin of Google, Making Art with Lasers, Sensors and the Net
  • Tony Jebara (Columbia University), Mobile phones reveal the behavior of places and people

Date/Location:

  • March 9-12
  • San Jose, CA

Website:

The Value (and Price) of Twitter: Part II

Lots has been written about the value of Twitter, why people should use it, how people should use it and I don’t really feel like regurgitating the arguments (Chris Brogan wrote a good piece on “Twitter as Presence“, Marcia Conner highlighted the micro-learning aspect of it, and even the pedantic Andrew McAfee mentioned the social benefits of the application). Last month I made a bet that I could go an entire week without using Twitter, Facebook and my favorite social music-sharing site, Blip.FM.  And I was successful.

This is what I learned:

  1. I have a relationship with Twitter: it provides me with the social interaction that I as a social being need. On the flip side, I wonder if my Twitter habit precludes me from picking up the phone or meeting in person to have a robust conversation that is more substantive and fulfilling.
  2. Facebook and Twitter are my social network relationship managers: I keep up-to-date and make social plans using these two tools. I have a horrible memory and am a fairly social person so seeing what other folks are doing in Facebook and Twitter reminds me of what events I want to attend. And I regularly use Twitter or Facebook to find folks to attend these events.
  3. The “noise” of Twitter is addictive. Information addiction is becoming more prevalent as we have access to more sources. Our brains are pattern recognizers and it loves new information because it’s trained to seek it out. Twitter offers many things, including fictive learning (the exploration of could-have-been-experienced) and could be just as powerful as experiential learning.
  4. Twitter lets me see everything that’s going on. Since birth, I have displayed an active curiosity in everything. A few months ago, I asked my mom to describe me as a young child and what I was interested in and she replied, “You were constantly moving. You could never sit still, you could never stay put. You were interested in EVERYTHING. And got into EVERYTHING.” Since i don’t have a cable/internet connection at home, I rely on twitter via my iPhone as my main source of news and communication (for world, family, friend and work updates).
  5. Anyone can listen and jump into the conversation (but since I couldn’t participant, I had little interest in what was going on). This is a critical aspect of social change. Groups or individuals who are neglected, overlooked or dismissed will not exhibit a need or desire to participate or contribute and will therefore be apathetic.
  6. The bar is very LOW to participate. Anyone can throw in 140 characters worth of information. This is great for actions like making mental notes, expressing a feeling, asking a question and sharing links or event headlines. However, many things in life cannot be captured in 140 characters and other formats and forums must be used or suffer the consequences of gross misunderstandings and inefficiencies.
  7. I was very productive during this period. It was refreshing not to share, to focus on me and be primarily self-focused. When I wasn’t consuming information, I was able to process and create it. Since Twitter and social applications are noisy and addictive, I must train myself to limit my usage and exposure to them and I now make a conscious effort to “turn off the noise” and schedule planned periods of time to use them, either as a break to checkout what’s going on or share thoughts.
  8. I don’t know who I don’t know and I can share with these people. A great learning experience was when I needed to disseminate information for an event to which I didn’t have an attendee list. Not having Twitter at my disposal hurt potential recipients.
  9. Twitter is not the value..I am. There’s been much discussion over the value of Twitter and the most obvious aspect is the user and customer data. Twitter owns a very lucrative repository of its customers (aka Tweeters) buying, thinking, and behavioral cues and patterns . Companies, government agencies, even potential dating partners are interested in learning about “me” and social applications like Twitter provide a very convenient platform to execute against the resume and influence others.

One of the keys to my 1-week social software sabbatical was creating an incentive to break my habit since I didn’t know all the opportunity costs of my participation. So I, the competitive being that I am, contrived a wager with Andrew McAfee that is available for public viewing here:

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

Since I was ruled successful in completing the terms of my part of the agreement, it’s Andy’s turn to complete his end of the bargain.