People who’ve inspired me during the past 24 hours

I’ve spent over a decade being an active resident of the World Live Web.

During this period, there have been over a decade of natural and man-created tragedies. Yesterday’s Boston Marathon bombing was the most recent of these events that have come to serve as some form of communal inflection points in the evolution of internet-enabled digital media, channels and community.

We’ve all learned that people turn to such communal places as Twitter and Facebook during these tragic events. We all want to express our grief, sorrow or outrage. We want to learn anything we can about friends or loved ones. We want to help.

I’m not always successful, but I try to refrain from tweeting during such an event.  I don’t want to add to the noise when people are looking for information that may help them find out about someone they care about who is in the vicinity of the event.

However, I have two exceptions to this “no tweet” policy:

  1. When the event is taking place in the zipcode from which I’m tweeting.
  2. When someone I know or discover is providing some unique context to the event, whose insight I can relay to a larger audience.

As I said, I’m rarely successful with my “no tweet” policy. I nearly always tweet the concern I feel at the moment.

Click on photo for an interview with Boston Globe photographer John Tlumacki about this instantly iconic photo of 78-year-old marathoner Bill Ilfrig and Boston police
Click on photo for an interview with Boston Globe photographer John Tlumacki about this instantly iconic photo of 78-year-old marathoner Bill Ilfrig and Boston police.

During the past 24 hours, I’ve seen and heard a lot of amazing and inspiring things on the World Live Web. I can’t recall an event, short of an Olympics opening, that had so many people witnessing it with smart phone and video camera in hand.

I wanted to make note in this post of a couple of the most inspiring things I’ve encountered, despite their reaching instant event-related trend status, and it’s likely you’ve also seen them.

Both of them inspire me — and will for many years to come. (I love being inspired by people far older than myself, as it gives me hope that I can be like them when I reach that age.)

First, my newest hero: Bill Iffrig. He’s the man in the photo above, the iconic image that captures the confusion and dis-connect to the seconds right after the explosion. Bill is the 78-year-old runner who was knocked over by the explosion a few feet from the finish line. Bill is the 78-year-old runner who stood back up and made his way across the finish line.

The next man who inspired me yesterday passed away ten years ago at the age of 75. I had never heard this quote from Mr. Rogers, however. I will remember it for the rest of my life.:

When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’

(I’m not sure how long this video will remain online, but it’s a video of Mr. Rogers sharing this thought.)


I’m unfriending everyone (except the following) on Facebook

fb-thumbs-down-2As it’s apparently becoming cool to unfriend people on Facebook and then blog about how you’ve unfriended people on Facebook, I’ve decided to fall in line with this coolness. I felt it only appropriate to announce to anyone with whom I may be “friends” on Facebook what I am doing, so I posted the following announcement on my account.

As you probably don’t even use Facebook anymore (the 12 readers of this blog being leading-edge cool people), I figured you wouldn’t see my announcement on Facebook, so I’ve decided to re-post it here:

Please don’t include me in any “trend” story, but the increasingly intrusive and annoyingly irrelevant nature of Facebook’s advertising is making it easy for me to scale back how I use it.

However, I WILL NOT be un-friending anyone who belongs in one of the following categories:

  1. Anyone from Nashville or Tennessee or parts of Alabama, Georgia, the Carolinas, Virginia, Florida, southern Kentucky or DC, New York City and Boston, unless you are annoying. (That “annoying” part goes for the rest of these, also).
  2. Anyone to whom I’m related (see #1, annoying exception) or seems to be good friends with someone to whom I’m related
  3. Anyone with whom I’m told I attended any school (especially if your profile lists a timeframe that over-laps when I attended those schools).
  4. Anyone who seems to have a connection with schools my children or wife attended.
  5. Anyone who is a fan of the Tennessee Titans
  6. Anyone I’ve ever worked with or belonged to some kind of board or association or church or Triple-A (did I mention the annoying exception?)
  7. Anyone I think makes me look cool because they follow me.
  8. Anyone who may be famous to 15 people.
  9. Anyone named Rex.
  10. Anyone who regularly posts photos of their dogs being funny.
  11. Anyone who posts photos of their kids, grandchildren, nieces and nephews doing anything smart or cute or athletic or creative.
  12. Anyone I actually may know who doesn’t fall in the previous 11 categories.

Glassboard is like a private Facebook created by people you’d like

It’s great to see this positive coverage of the app, Glassboard 2.0, on Ars Technica. (It’s available both as an iOS and Android app.)

Here’s the article’s 3×5 card explanation of what the app does:

The idea is like taking Facebook and stripping down all parts of the social network except for the parts where you share privately among clearly defined groups. Or if Google+ allowed everyone in your circle to post to that same circle. The idea is to keep things insular and private. There’s no way to blast updates to the whole world like Twitter, and there’s no friending or unfriending. You can create or join various groups—close friends, family, coworkers, Ars Technica staffers, cousins, etc.—and post a variety of content to those “boards” as a way to keep each other up-to-date. According to Sepia Labs, Glassboard is supposed to be a digital boardroom.

I’ve been “playing” with Glassboard since it was an early, very bugly app over a year ago. When I first started using it, it was clunky and crashed all the time and it was hard to comprehend why I’d need it. But that also describes almost all the things online that turn out to be something significant. (Unfortunately, it also describes lots of stuff that turns out to always be buggy and makes no sense.)

Now, it’s all stable and pretty. And Ars Technica is saying nice things about it.

However, what makes Glassboard special (to me) are Brent Simmons and Nick Bradbury, the guys behind Glassboard. Nick is a fellow Tennessean (he now lives in Knoxville, but was my Nashville geek-bro for a long time).

For years, I used Brent’s NetNewsWire as my primary RSS newsreader. Nick’s FeedDemon was (is) to Windows what NetNewsWire was to the Mac platform. In 2005, I took photo (a really bad photo shot with my Treo) of Brent and his wife, Shelia, along with Nick and Dave Winer and described it as the RSS Hall of Fame.

There is so much that we do today under the banner of “social media” (the “user-focused” posting of content and subscribing to feeds) that is built on both the conceptual and technical foundations of RSS and what developers and users did with it using early readers like Dave’s Radio UserLand (both a blogging platform and a newsreader) and Nick’s FeedDemon and Brent’s NetNewsWire.

The best thing, however, is that all three of these people are still working on better ways to build on the foundation they helped to create for people like me to use to do things that I continue to discover after a period of “playing.”

Sidenote: The tab you see at the top of my blog that says “LinkBlog” goes to a page that is powered by a project Dave has been working on that he’s allowing me to play with.

Content Marketing & Google+ for the non-obsessed but needs-to-know executive

google plus ebook

After receiving an unprecedented volume of questions regarding Google+ from clients and non-techie business executives, I was asked to write a blog post for Hammock.com that provided an overview of the service — “but not written for people who are geeks” (a direct quote). I asked for a list of questions and then, last weekend, spent a couple of hours answering them. “That’s too long for a blog post,” I was told.

So, that’s the origin of the 26-page eBrief (PDF) from Hammock Labs called, An Early Overview of Google+ as a Content Marketing Platform.

I didn’t write it for techies and social medians. It’s for people who sign checks made out to techies and social medians.

I hope you enjoy it. I’m sure it will be out of date by this afternoon.

Here are the subjects covered:

  • What is Google+? (And why that’s not the important question)
  • What can you do with Google+?
  • Who can use Google+?
  • How Google+ is like (and not like) Facebook
  • How Google+ is like (and not like) Twitter
  • How Google+ is like (and not like) LinkedIn
  • How will people have enough time to use all these social networking things?
  • How will I (or my company) have enough time to use all these social networking things?
  • The coolest “new, new” things about Google+
  • The early “missing” things about Google+
  • Predictions for Google+
  • Short-term recommendations for businesses and the people who run them
  • Conclusion: Our most confident prediction

That reminds me, you can find me on Google+ at the following “redirect” I created so that I could remember it: RexHammock.com/+

Instant Review of RockMelt

As someone who likes to, in a mixed-metaphor kind of way, kick the tires of shiny new things, when I read about the new web browser, Rockmelt, I downloaded it (thanks to a Facebook friend who was notified by RockMelt that I’d like an invitation — in RockMelt’s version of exclusivity marketing).

Here are some quick thoughts.

1. It’s nice, but I think if Marc Andreessen wasn’t involved, this would not be causing a blip of interest, even among hardcore geeks.

2. If Marc Andreessen wasn’t on the board of Facebook, we’d be wondering why anyone would do something that Google or Facebook could easily do themselves. (It may just be me, but RockMelt seems like a “build to sell to Facebook” concept.)

3. Don’t the people who might use RockMelt already have a 3rd-party social media app, client or service like Seesmic, Hootsuite, etc., with which they manage their social flow?

4. If you are easily distracted, do not download or use it. It’s entire purpose for being seems focused on distracting you from whatever it is you are supposed to be doing.

Glitch fix:

When I downloaded and launched it, the “edge” panels did not appear (which are the only things that make if different from Google Chrome). I had to quit the browser and relaunch it a couple of times before they would appear.

A sidenote observation:

The positioning quote of “why a browser, now” is this one from Mark Andresseen in the NYTimes story linked to above: “Had we known about Facebook and Twitter and Google back in ’92 or ’93, we would have built them into the browser…This is an opportunity to go back and do it right.”

To which, after using it, I would respond, “Are you sure you wouldn’t have just skipped the whole browser thing and gone straight to apps?”

Something I like:

The way they’ve used a photo of the development team to stress the “people” part of the product. While it looks a little “stock photo”-ish, it’s a great portrait and a nice touch.