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Friday, February 27, 2009

Anne Giles Clelland and the story of Tyson Daniel - Yes you can!

Following 400 blogs means spending a lot of time looking at a screen, and it is only worth doing if you get to meet people with similar interests in the process.

Going through the list of the top 150 blogs for entrepreneurs , I have met with Anne Giles, who publishes 2 blogs: Inside VT KnowledgeWorks and Handshake2.0.

Anne Giles Clelland, M.A., M.S. is the founder, president, and CEO
of Handshake Media, Incorporated, a social media public relations firm founded in 2008. She is a writer, speaker, and consultant. You can find her full bio here.

Anne's favorite entrepreneur story is the story of Tyson Daniel and how it is possible to figure your way out of the box:

Tyson Daniel is a capital defense attorney who decided to become an entrepreneur and created LimbGear® mp3-enabled sports apparel, a product line of WeighOut, LLC.

He spent 5 years working on Death Penalty cases, something he qualifies as "enormously draining". Until he decided to start his own business.

Tyson talks about "3 years, some painfully expensive lessons and more work than I would ever have imagined" to get the company fully up and running.

But this is a success: "I’ve found my WeighOut".

For those who feel "boxed in", this is a lesson that you can do it if you have it in you. Said Tyson: "I knew – as I have always known because it was how I was raised – that I could do whatever I resolved to do".

The full story is here.

Thank you Anne and thank you Tyson for sharing this great story.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Entrepreneur Stories

Today I went back to Bo Burlingham's book "Small Giants - companies that choose to be great instead of big", and I re-discovered this definition of what an entrepreneur is that I would like to share:

[...] there is obviously a kind of artistry involved in creating something out of nothing based on an ability to see what everyone else is missing. That is, after all, what artists do. In business as in art, moreover, the end result is an experience, and the quality of the experience reflects the relationships between different participants, as well as the specific medium of expression. While entrepreneurs may rely on peripheral vision rather than artistic inspiration, it's often hard to tell the difference between the two. They are both critical components of a creative process, and it takes such a process to produce something great an unique [...]

Rather than trying to fit entrepreneurs into a list of skills, I will try in the coming weeks to share entrepreneurs stories that will help paint a picture of who they are.

Stay tuned, and feel free to send me your own story as well...

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Top 150 "Social Capital" blogs

Because Entrepreneur Commons is a not-for-profit, located at the intersection of the business and non-profit worlds, I am also tracking about 500 blogs talking about "Social Capital". The definition is still very vague, as we can see in the discussion we had on the subject on SocialEdge, but what it is for me is a mix of blogs related to Philanthropy (where the money comes from originally in most cases), Non-profits and Social Entrepreneurship (where and how it is spent by whom), and Social Media and Non-profit marketing (how to get the money and communicate about what is being done)

I have published the list here, maybe you will find it useful for yourself :-)

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Thursday, February 12, 2009

Updated list - Top 150 blogs for entrepreneurs

I just updated the list of top 150 blogs for entrepreneurs here

No major change at the top, the list seems fairly stable, which is a good sign :-)

Top 10 movers up

Top 10 movers down

The biggest jump is the pmarca blog, which was #174. Probably due to the fact that I included him in the list late. It seems that it takes a few days for the ranking to be completely acurate after new entries are included...

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Monday, February 09, 2009

Recovery plan - more details

While we are waiting for the website...

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Top 150 social media marketing blog - update from eCairn

eCairn just published their update for their top 150 social media marketing blogs list, including info on who is up and who is down.

From what I see, the top 10 movers up:

Interesting to see Forrester in the list, they are still low in the list but making huge progress. It seems that the traditional players are catching up...

The 10 biggest drops are:

eCairn mentions changes in urls for some blogs as the reason for some of these drops. I hope this is the case for Hitwise, otherwise "the leader in online competitive intelligence" is loosing its relevance. I was surprised to see them in this list...

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Sunday, February 08, 2009

Coming soon -

Waiting for the passage of the bailout package:

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Friday, February 06, 2009

How to manage engagement and participation - the democratic process in a web2.0 context

eCairn recently published a very interesting analysis on what happens when you open a site and ask people to contribute ideas. They mention Dell Ideastorm and the Obama administration Citizen's Briefing Book from the Obama administration, and I have to agree with the conclusion: you have to know what to expect when opening up the doors to input with no filtering. And where and how you "listen" to your audience makes a difference:

1- if you ask everybody to provide input on a website, and then use a rating system to decide which issues are important, then what you will get is not what the most important issues are for the community as a whole, but rather what the most important ideas are for the best organized group within the community. Huge difference. Basically chances are that one or a few communities will take over the site and monopolize the conversation. And if there is no moderation, then you will end up just listening to what they have to say regardless of what others may think.
In the case of the Obama experiment (Citizen's Briefing Book), the winning idea is "legalize marijuana", and while I have no doubt that they won their ranking fair and straight, I have a hard time believing this is one of the most pressing issue right now.

One site did try an improved version of the process: had a 2 phase selection:
- First anybody could submit any idea in various pre-defined categories
- Second, they qualified the top 3 ideas of each category to then have them all compete together for the final selection of the top 10.
Legalizing Marijuana is still in the final top 10, you have to give credit to this community for being very good at mobilizing their supporters online, but there are other ideas that were able to emerge from the process, and it was a good attempt at leveling the playing field so that other ideas from not so popular categories could be considered.
As it is done with elections in the US, maybe one extra step could have also been considered: having each category elect an equal number of representatives to represent their specific concerns, so that they are the ones that vote in the second round. Then it is no longer an issue of how many vote for an ideas, but rather how many of a representative sample of the population get convinced by the ideas that were selected.

2- the other option (other than opening a site to invite input) is to map conversations happening everywhere in the blogosphere or other places, then you can have a much better idea of who is talking about what where. And you will have a very different view of which communities are active on the web, and what their top issues are. And then you can specifically target these communities (based on how relevant they are to you at a given time) to address their specific issues.
With this second approach, we still have an open space where everbody can express their opinions (the blogs or the web in general), and then the leadership can decide what to do with what they see. No ratings involved, just the good judgement of whoever is listening. Individuals are doing it today, they pick and choose which blogs they want to read and comment on, and they may have their own blog(s) to contribute to the conversation. Corporation and the government should at a minimum do the same. And then decide if they want to engage in other ways (back to #1 above).

Having said this, and since this post was inspired by an analysis from my friends at eCairn, I should also mention that the service that they have developed is perfect for doing just that: teams listening to conversations, engaging with bloggers and measuring the impact to this engagement. Something you may want to consider for your business...

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Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Big Brother - another good one

After ATT (see my previous post), here is a new feature, from McAfee this time, to protect me from myself: SiteAdvisor.

So I have McAfee Total Protection, and the latest update (I assume that this is where it comes from) was installed automatically recently. And then I discovered when reading my own email that because I have the url of my blog in my signature I am entitled to a big red square box telling me that "this message includes a link that will lead you to a site with potential phishing".
Very friendly - I can imagine the effect this will have on the people I communicate with. My friends will smile, but I am not sure what the rest of my correspondents will think.

There is no phishing scheme on my blog, the only subscription widget is generated from Vertical Response which I specifically installed because I want users to feel comfortable that I am not going to abuse their email information. And then there are a few widgets from known services, but nothing custom or homemade that could be assimilated to hacking.
But somebody somewhere decided that I was guilty until I prove myself innocent, when I thought the normal was the opposite. I guess security software is different, and we are all hackers out there if we are bloggers.
I am a good citizen, and I try to follow process, so I went and registered on the SiteAdvisor website to claim my innocence. But there also, there is one more roadblock: I have to upload a file on my site to prove that I own it and that I am legit. The problem: I am using Blogger, a service provided by a small company called Google, and I do not have access to the service to upload whatever file I want. So now I have to submit a request into a big queue, and wait for somebody to pick it up and take a look, and then I have to pray that they will agree that my blog is ok. Hopefully the content is not too subversive, and I fit within whatever criteria they have that I can be cleared.

If you have any doubt that the world is a very messed up place, I think this is another good example. Technology which should be making our life better is just creating more constraints on everything we do. I do not really feel like I own my computer anymore: my brand new computer comes with pre-installed junk programs (marketing teasers) that I have to remove if I do not want the clutter, I have automatic updates because I get problems if I don't, and I get problems if I do, just different ones.

Because of all this, I make sure I stick to Open Source whenever I can. At least with open source, I get what I want and nobody can claim control of what I get to the point when it becomes obnoxious. It may not always be as cool or as fancy, but the protection from any corporate abuse is a huge feature for me...

>>> Update >>> the good news is that I have been cleared. The bad news is that people who are getting the message should re-install SiteAdvisor. So to anybody who is still using the wrong version I will be presented like a hacker unless they uninstall SiteAdvisor and Re-install (which would be assuming they care enough about me or the issue to go through this). Not as much comfort as what I was hoping for...
McAfee SiteAdvisor Support
dateWed, Feb 4, 2009 at 12:45 PM
subjectRe: "Open Business" blog erroneously rated as potentially dangerous


After some investigation, we have discovered that this error was related to a bug in an earlier version of the SiteAdvisor program, which has now been fixed.

Anyone who sees this error should uninstall SiteAdvisor, and then reinstall it from

Please write back to me if this error is still occurring after these instructions have been followed.


Customer Support
McAfee SiteAdvisor

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Sunday, February 01, 2009

Big Brother is watching you!

I am stuned... At a time when we do a lot with the web and when you would think we are getting more and more freedom to access and share content, the opposite is actually happening.

I just subscribed to ATT U-Verse, and I discovered an amazing new feature on the DVR service: "Nickolodeon does not allow the recording of this show".

So now I am paying for the content, and I am paying for the DVR box, which was sold to me as a great improvement to the existing solution because I can start watching a recorded show in my living room and then I can go to watch the end in my bedroom.
EXCEPT (small detail) that I cannot record the shows I want, just the one that ATT and the channels in my mix allow. Oops.

So technology, which is supposed to make it easier for me, is actually turning into a way for the big corporations to have more control over my life.
It used to be that I could program my VCR to capture the feed from any show on a tape. It was taking time and space but it was all here for me. But the new improved version of the same functionality is that I cannot record the Nickolodeon shows anymore. Nickolodeon want my kids to be in front of the TV at 6pm when it is diner time or at 9pm when they are supposed to be in bed. And if they are not, sorry, you cannot watch.

It reminds me of when I was traveling to China and I was watching TV5 in my hotel bedroom. Every now and then, the TV would have black outs, something that looked like a problem with the connection and would only last a few seconds. But something so systematic across many hotels that you know somebody was editing the feed to make sure I was not given subversive news that would pollute my mind.

This is also my user experience with Facebook: I can send messages to my friends, but when comes the New Year and I want to send all of them my best wishes, I can only send it to 40 of them and then I get a big red message warning me that "I AM ENGAGING IN A BEHAVIOR THAT VIOLATES THE FACEBOOK POLICIES". How friendly is that? And what kind of social network am I in that only lets me communicate to 40 people max.
Who decided that I am clearly a spammer if I have more than 40? Wouldn't people report me if my message was offensive or inappropriate in any way? Isn't it the beauty of social networks that your reputation is always at stake and therefore you tend to behave better because you know there would be consequences otherwise? Or is it just Facebook worried that I advertise by sending direct messages instead of paying their advertising department?

And the same is happening with Apple store, where I am not allowed to download Qik for my iPhone, forcing me to jailbreak it if I want to stream videos to the web through their service. How is this helping innovation? Why do we have to go to hacks to get what we want that is available and works on the platform?

The world is changing and we can do more today than we could before, but Big Brother is watching and the corporations are fighting back.
We have to pay attention, and we cannot let them have the last word...

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