Its TED Time

If you want to know how to think outside the box, the first thing you need to do is score a ticket to one of the most exclusive boxes in the world – the TED conference.

20090204TED stands for Technology, Entertainment and Design and this week the 25th anniversary will be in Long Beach, California with an invited only delegation of 1000 sitting down to listen to the likes of Bill Gates, Herbie Hancock and the inventor of the web, Tim Berners-Lee.

TED was started in 1984 by architect Richard Saul Wurman with the idea of inviting people to a dream dinner party. Diverse and brilliant minds with passionate and fresh ideas getting together for shared inspiration and insight. Speakers are given 18 minutes to present and are encouraged to “be profound.”

Montreal entrepreneur and journalist, Mitch Joel, made it to TED last year, no small feat on its own. In addition to the $6 000 membership fee, attendees need to be accepted to attend the conference.

“When registration comes up (a year in advance) you fill out an application and it includes references, what your interests are and what you do in your community,” Mitch explains.

It’s quite an exclusive list, that had Mitch sitting between the creator of The Blue Man Group and the inventor of Yahoo!’s Delicious bookmarking software while the “Google Guys”, Larry and Sergey sat a few rows over and Cameron Diaz and Forrest Whittaker were attentively taking notes.

I ask Mitch if TED can be described as a “thinking man’s Oscars,” to which he quickly responded; “I’d say it’s more like the thinking man’s Burning Man, actually.”

“Imagine going to a conference and every single person is introducing themselves and friendly and at the same time is somebody of real significant importance to the point where you feel really inconsequential,” he exclaims.

The pace and energy and enthusiasm during the 4 days of TED is contagious. The TED conference slogan is “ideas worth spreading,” and the ideas are spread beyond the exclusive ears of the attendees.

There are more than 350 TEDTalks from past conferences available online for free, with another one added every business day, and Alex Wolf wants to watch them all as part of her Mission 101, a list of 101 things she’d like to accomplish in 1001 days.

“Watching the TED videos is providing me with a regular feed of inspiration, humour and food for thought,” she says. “All very positive gains!”

The rest of her list has to do with donating of her time, learning about the world and spreading positive energy – exactly the sorts of things TED stands for with the TED Prize. Each year, 3 people are awarded $100 000 to grant a wish to change the world, which they reveal at TED.

You can grab a little of that inspiration for free by checking out some TED talks at Ted.com

This article originally appeared in 24hrs Vancouver on February 4, 2009.

MY FAVOURITE TED TALKS

The man responsible for Lost, Mission Impossible 3 and the upcoming Star Trek movie is JJ Abrams. In 2007 Abrams presented a TED talk that revolved around a plain box of magic tricks he bought as a child and never opened. “Mystery is the catalyst for imagination,” he says.

Malcolm Gladwell has written The Tipping Point, Blink and, most recently, The Outliers. All brilliant books that give you insight into how and why we do things and cause you to take pause to try things differently. In 2004 he presented a talk about spaghetti sauce and why we don’t know what we want.

Last year Jennifer 8. Lee presented a talk called “Who was General Tso? And other mysteries of Chinese American Food.” In it she shows that fortune cookies are actually a Japanese invention and Chop Suey is just a fancy way of saying “leftovers.” It’s not profound, but it is a fun romp.

Benjamin Zander loves his classical music. If you’ve been filling your iPod earbuds with more Lil Wayne than Lil Wolfgang (Amadeus Mozart), his 2008 presentation, a favorite of Mitch Joel, will have you marvelling at the skill of one buttock piano playing.

Boxing Day Moves to the Web

If you’re not looking forward to tomorrow, but rather the day after tomorrow – then you’d better get ready for tonight. Make sense?

The Future Shop Boxing Day Sale doesn’t start on Friday, it starts today – at 5p. Never mind tucking in to a pre-Christmas gathering of nog and nuts, you’d better cozy up to your mouse and get ready for a long night of clicking. Last year I clicked in to the sale to scoop a memory card and iPod shuffle – it took me 5 1/2 hours to complete the transaction – that’s a lot of time to spend away from the family on Christmas Eve.

In spite of the technical failure of last year, Future Shop is going with the same sale strategy this year but has taken some steps to look for a better result. The site will be down for a few hours this afternoon getting ready and then will relaunch at 5p for the clicking and saving.

“We’ve made a significant investment in the site, and our team has spent the last few months upgrading the infrastructure to support the volume of traffic anticipated,” says Cheryl Grant of Future Shop.

The store encourages you to check out the sales flyer ahead of time and “don’t give up.”

For those more content to spend time with family today and tomorrow and head into the “what recession?” crazy sales on Friday, you can plan ahead too. Victoria Potter of DemiCouture.ca has been scanning all her contacts for the best sale information.

She has the Boxing Day sales broken down by store and region, so if you’re hitting up Robson, Granville, Gastown or the malls, she’ll set you up with a plan to attack the lines.

BLOGOSPHERE BUZZ

The true spirit of Christmas is in the giving, and the web can help you do that – even at the last minute.

HomelessPartners.Com has a list of shelters, and Christmas wish lists from people who use those shelters. While you’re running around for your family today, why not pick up work gloves for Ron and drop it off at Cliff Block? He could also use a pair of black sweat pants as he looks for construction work.

Stephen stays at the North Shore Housing Centre and would like a warm jacket and shaving kit.

The HomelessPartners.com website lists more than 100 people looking for humble accessories to help them through life at shelters on the North Shore, Surrey, New West and Vancouver.

Kiva.org can help you provide a Christmas gift that will give for eternity. Never mind the billion dollar bailouts from Washington and Ottawa, Kiva helps real entrepreneurs start real businesses.

For example, Goddey needs $1200 to open a grocery store in Nigeria. You don’t need to loan the entire amount, you just make a $25 donation and Kiva handles the rest gathering micro loans from others.

97% of the loans are repaid, and once it is you can simply reloan it to someone else. It’s a one time gift that can give forever.

There’s another site that can help you discover the spirit of the season, GiveMeaning.com.

There you can choose to buy a physical gift card which will be mailed out, or send an e-Card with a gift code attached (perfect for a last minute Christmas Eve gift). The receiver then takes this code and donates the balance to any of the GiveMeaning.com charities which are meaningful to them.

This article originally appeared in 24hrs Vancouver on December 24, 2008.

Vancouver Canucks 2.0

This article originally appeared in 24hrs Vancouver on November 26, 2008.

Many credit Barack Obama‘s domination of the web as the key to his election success. If web presence has anything to do with the chase of the Stanley Cup, Vancouver Canuck fans had best start planning Lord Stanley’s parade.

20081126From using bloggers as models in their advertising, to a video podcast taking fans behind the scenes, to tools for blogging fans and blogging players, the Vancouver Canucks are “giving it 110%” on the internet.

“The goal is to give our fans a voice and allow them to engage with the team as much as possible,” says Canucks Director of New Media, Kevin Kinghorn. “One of the big things we’ve tried to do this year is create a zone where fans can do that.”

The Fan Zone at Canucks.com is the center of the action featuring fan blogs, podcasts and message boards alongside blogs by players, like Darcy Hordichuck.

“I think doing something like this is good to do for fans because they always like to know more about players and life outside the rink so I’m happy to do this,” writes Hordichuk in a recent entry.

Hordi also has his own website, DarcyHordichuk.com which features fight videos and some blog entries about life in the big leagues.

“I know as a kid growing up, I always wanted to know what dressing rooms looked like, some people like their hockey cards, I wanted to know about the dressing rooms – everyone has their thing, right?”

Hordichuk, and other blogging players like goalie Curtis Sanford, record their entries and then the Canucks new media team transcribes the answers into blog posts.

“That seems to be the easiest way, I’m not really computer savvy,” admits Hordichuk.

It also lets the new media team steer the content of the posts by having the players prompted with questions that are sent in by the fans.

While Darcy Hordichuk has had his own website since his days as a minor leaguer with the Orlando Solar Bears, don’t expect to be able to friend him up on Facebook anytime soon.

“I did Facebook, and was a little overwhelmed. I found out every time I’d go to Edmonton or Calgary old friends I’d never seen would come out of the woodwork looking for tickets,” he chuckles. “I try to keep my life simple and I’ve got enough things going on. Facebook can get addicting and take up a lot of your time.”

The Canucks also are producing their own behind the scene podcast made up of a lot of press content and interviews, along with some fun segments with the players. A recent episode had Alex Edler giving Swedish lessons and a future post will feature some of the players playing a Christmas trivia game.

“Fans are really interested, there’s an appetite for info on the players and we’re trying to deliver that,” says Kinghorn.

BLOGOSPHERE BUZZ

Shaquille O’Neal is trying to bring some new media love to his Phoenix Suns. He’s signed on to Twitter and has been trading messages with fans, and mixing in philosophy with his tweets about cheeseburgers. “Treat people as u expect them to be, not how u think they are,” wrote Shaq on the weekend.

Once again, Meg Fowler is a local in the lead for the Canadian Blog Awards. “Canada has such a unique, fresh blogging community — it’s amazing to get a kind little nod amongst such creative people,” says Meg who has made her blogosphere mark with witty haiku and friday love lists to welcome the weekend.

“13668 people are watching puppies sleep,” wrote Darren Barefoot on Monday. It’s true. The Shiba Inu Puppy Cam has become a web sensation with more than 4 million viewers in the past month. It’s simply a web camera pointed at six 7 week old Shiba Inu puppies, that’s it. It will all be over in a week or two as the puppies have all been adopted.

Google has unveiled some very exciting upgrades. If you look under your GMail settings tab you’ll find themes which will let you change the colour palette of your page. Video has also been added to GTalk, look for a video camera next to a contact to let you know they’re online and available for a video chat. The Google Mobile App has added voice search for the iPhone. Now instead of typing in your searches, you can speak them. All the upgrades are free and easy to use.

24hrs Blogosphere Buzz: 2008.09.17

This article originally appeared in 24hrs Vancouver on September 17, 2008.

Got a great internet idea that just needs a little bit of support and brainstorming or funding to become perfect? Launch Party Vancouver 5 goes tomorrow night at Unwine’d. Problem is it’s sold out. So practice your elevator pitch on the sidewalk outside to get tickets for inside.

The local blogsphere might be a little light on content this weekend as most of the hardcore writers will be part of the pilgrimage to Las Vegas for BlogWorld Expo. The Vancouver contingent will be well represented on the show floor and on the panels. Keynoters include Gary Vaynerchuk of WineLibrary TV, Tim Ferris of the 4 Hour Work Week and Mike Shinoda from Linkin Park. Don’t worry if you’re not going, I’m guessing there will be one or two blogs about it.

Wifi is coming to Air Canada, but only on American flights. The Canadian carrier has partnered with Aircell to offer the GoGo mobile broadband service on its existing US network. Starting in Spring 2009, for $12.95 per trip, you’ll be able to do all you can online from a Wifi enabled laptop or SmartPhone. “Pending Canadian regulatory approvals, we plan to eventually offer internet access system-wide,” says Charles McKee, Vice President, Marketing, at Air Canada.

WestJet is making it easier for you to pay for snacks while you fly, partnering with GuestLogix to launch a Mobile Virtual Store. The solution involves handheld devices that will aceept all forms of payment including cash in multiple currencies, credit, debit, vouchers and coupons. This means no more pleas for exact change as you scramble for a second bottle of Merlot on the way to Montreal.

The iTunes App Store is a hit. With the current path of sales, 1 billion applications are expected to be downloaded by next year, according to The Unofficial Apple Weblog. Sure, many of the applications are free, but with Apple taking a 30% cut of each paid application, it’s an entirely new stream of revenue that is quickly turning into a river as iPhone and iPod touch sales soar.

24hrs Blogosphere Buzz 2008.09.10

This article originally appeared in 24hrs Vancouver on September 10, 2008.
  • So the parties are off to a rough start with social media. Maybe things will be better next week after the Social Media for Government Conference rolls through Ottawa. The summit promises to show federal agencies “how to engage your employees and citizens by using blogging, podcasting and the latest Web 2.0 technologies to drive communications results.”

  • NetPrimeMinister has been created by the UBC School of Journalism to track social media buzz for the election. The site scans Flickr, YouTube, Twitter, blogs etc for mentions about the candidates and the election. With not all the parties fully on board with Web 2.0, this page let’s see you see all the activity in one quick glance.
  • If you want to stay on top of what the Twittersphere is saying about the election, and what the leaders themselves have to say, check out Govtweets.ca. Conservative blogger Stephen Taylor created the site that aggregates Twitter posts with Canadian election keywords. However, if you think the Canadian election is still boring compared to the one down south, visit Govtweets.com.
  • With the writ being dropped on the weekend, the opening bell sounded for the UBC Election Stock Market, a financial market where real money is traded with the values of stocks representing the percentage of popular votes or seats in the House. “Through the ESM, participants learn first-hand about the operation of a financial market and they often become better informed about not only the current election but also the election process itself.”
  • The Coast Plaza Hotel is host to the Internet Marketing Conference on Thursday and Friday. Darren Barefoot will be leading a session on Social Media Marketing, while William Azaroff of VanCity will be speaking about engaging community with your brand. I would encourage political candidates or directors of communication to be in the audience taking notes.
  • Amber MacArthur will be giving the keynote today at the CIRA Annual General Conference at the Pan Pacific. CIRA is a non-profit, member-driven organization responsible for the management of Canada’s dot-ca domain namespace, the policies that support Canada’s Internet community, and Canadian involvement in international Internet governance.

24hrs Blogosphere Buzz

This article originally appeared in 24hrs Vancouver on August 6, 2008.

If you’re a member of Centennial’s Class of 88 and have been Facebooked yet, head on over to Centennial88.v3.ca for info on your reunion. Tickets are $30 and get you (no spouses allowed) in to the fun at Centennial School. If you’re internet-less, you can pick up tickets at the Coquitlam Rec Centre on August 24.

If you don’t have an iPhone yet and are still wondering if it’s right for you, a little toy called the Samsung Instinct will make its debut tomorrow night at Republic. The phone, being launched this week on the Telus and Bell networks, has a touch screen and many similar features to the iPhone, with a cheaper sticker price.

The big boy, Amazon.com, has bought Victoria’s used bookseller, AbeBooks.com. “As a leader in rare and hard-to-find books, AbeBooks brings added breadth and expanded selection to our customers worldwide,” said Russell Grandinetti, of Amazon.com. The estimated $90M price tag includes provisions to keep the site as a stand alone operation in Victoria.

Techvibes.com had an interesting sidebar to the Sea-to-Sky highway closure this past week. Among those stranded were Firefox developers at Mozilla Summit 2008 in Whistler. Instead of complaining about the closure, David Ascher acted like a true software developer and filed a ticket in regards to the “bug.”

The Olympics open on Friday and the games will be revolutionary for online video. The CBC alone has committed more than1 500 hours to online broadcasting at CBCSports.ca, complete with a daily highlight package in Mandarin. The site is only accessible in Canada, so don’t expect to see clips on YouTube, as the IOC is expected to vigorously defend rights holders.

24hrs Blogosphere Buzz: 07.02.08

kinzinThe gang at Kinzin went through more than 4 dozen potential names before settling on one they liked, that also had a .com domain name available. The meaning behind the name Kinzin is rather simple: the kin part is obvious; the site is about family, while zin is a Creole word meaning story. The site is all about helping families tell their stories to each other, so it was a natural and perfect choice (and Kinzin.com was available at the time).

protagonizeNick Bouton’s Protagonize was also nominated for a Canadian New Media Award for Excellence in Social Media Websites. “Protagonize is a creative writing community dedicated to writing various forms of collaborative, interactive fiction.” says Nick. It’s a site where people work together to create stories that branch off into many sub-stories and side tales. Think “choose your own adventure” books from back in the day, and you’re on the right track.

If you want to learn more about the Social Media scene and how you can use social networking to help your business, make a run for the border next weekend. SocialMediaCamp hits Seattle on July 12. It’s a free event that is all about the community getting together and sharing what they know about podcasting, blogging, and networking. There will be 2 tracks, one for beginners and one for those more into ideological discussions.

YouTube and JoostSocial Networking is here to stay, Telindus in Europe did a recent survey and found nearly 40% of those 18-24 would quit their job if the workplace locked out access to sites like Facebook and YouTube. However, actually blocking the sites from the office computer still might not keep the content out of the office environment. With more people switching to smart phones, they’ll still be able to access the sites they want from their pocket, instead of their desktop.

RuinedIphone.com

We’re into the final days before the iPhone is finally released in Canada July 11. Last week Rogers unveiled their pricing plans to go with the 3 year contract. They’ve been advertised as starting at $60, but once you add taxes, fees, and some extra features many consider to be basic, you’ll be pushing $90. That leaves you in one of two camps – either joining the 42 members at the Facebook iPhone Buying Party, or adding to the 22 000+ signatures on the Ruined iPhone petition at RuinediPhone.com.

catch the buzz… pass it on.

24hrs: Blogosphere Buzz

This article originally appeared in 24hrs Vancouver on June 18, 2008.

More photo tips can be found at the TWiP (This Week in Photography) podcast. This week’s episode has Vancouver’s Lisa Bettany guesting. “The energy of San Francisco makes Vancouver feel like a sleepy seaside village,” says Lisa as she competed in such Silcon Valley party activities as iPhone stacking. It’s like Jenga, but with iPhones.

mars phoenixIf you’re on Twitter and not following @MarsPhoenix, you’re missing out on some serious geek laughter. The probe that has landed on Mars looking for water and signs of life has its own Twitter account updated by Mission Control. The humour and personality of the posts are hilarious.

If you want to know more about the proposed Canadian digital copyright law, from a consumer’s point of view, read Ottawa Law Professor Michael Geist’s blog. Last year Geist led online protests that slowed the introduction of the legislation. His blog is not all lawyer speak, he explains the proposals in basic language using real world examples as to how this legislation could affect your day to day activities.

Friday is the Great b5media Blog Off, a 24 hour charity blog-a-thon. Starting at June 20th at 12:01a, the site’s network of bloggers have promised to post fresh content at least once an hour for 24 hours straight. Vancouver social media star, Colleen Coplick, and her BuzzNetworker blog, is up to the challenge to help raise money for Accion International, a site that offers small loans to international entrepreneurs.

95Crave’s morning team, Nat and Drew, celebrated Free Rice Day last week and helped fund more than 5 Million grains of rice for the world’s poor. FreeRice.com is a vocabulary game that rewards you with 20 grains of rice for each correct answer. Nat and Drew had their listeners play simultaneously at 11a, encouraging everyone to take 4 Minutes to save the world.

The Apple Experience

This article originally appeared in 24hrs Vancouver on June 11, 2008.

When Steve Jobs took the stage in San Francisco on Monday to take the wraps off Apple’s latest iPhone, there were no debates as to what he would be wearing on the stage.

WWDC 2008

Steve walked out wearing jeans and a black turtleneck. He’s always wearing jeans and a black turtleneck, its part of his brand. Jobs likes things consistent and on message. The slides he uses for his keynotes are clean and simple. He speaks in short, confident sentences that are just vague enough to build curiosity.

Steve is like the company he leads. Apple is, from beginning to end, website to storefront, product to packaging – consistent and on message. Everything is about the experience. Steve’s keynotes are anticipation building thrill rides. Opening a new Apple box reveals layers of thoughtful and elegant design. While Apple products are not as basic as a black turtleneck and jeans, they are that simple: monochromatic, smooth functionality, solid colours, clean lines.

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Hell Yes, I’m a Mommy Blogger

This article originally appeared in 24hrs Vancouver on May 21, 2008.

2008-05-17 mango (11)Don’t hate me, but I’m a daddy blogger.

I realized it this week when I looked down the article list at The Blog According to Buzz and found I had written more about the horrors of daycare and mango pits as teething aids than media and pop culture.

It’s not such a bad thing, I’m a new parent, it’s what my life is about right now and I’m meeting other new parents and sharing stories and support.

Heather Armstrong is perhaps the most famous parenting blogger on the internet. Online, she’s known as Dooce – a word that is also a verb. To be dooced is to be fired for writing about your work online. In 2002, Armstrong was fired as a graphic designer for writing about her experiences at a dot com startup. Since then she has told stories of depression, pregnancy, parenting and her family life in Utah. Her blog became so popular she didn’t need to look for another job and her husband quit his to handle the ad sales for Dooce.com.

Dooce was recently invited to be a guest on The Today Show, for an interview she thought would be about “the business of mommy-blogging,” she says on her site.

But host Kathie Lee Gifford quickly turned on her for posting photos of her children and writing about her family life before confessing, “I don’t know much about computers, and what I do know scares me.”

And therein lies the rub against parent bloggers. We’re accused of using our children and life experiences for personal gain by those who don’t really understand or appreciate what we’re doing.

Unlike Dooce, most parenting bloggers aren’t making full time income from their sites.

“If, by rich, you mean I’ve connected with some wonderful people from around the globe – then, yes!” laughs Carolyn, who writes at Laughing Alone in the Dark.

Carolyn doesn’t make any money from her site and admits she’s writing the blog for herself, and her daughter.

“Before I started blogging I was collecting tidbits of conversations and snippets of her days on slips of paper that I kept in a box. Sometimes I would forget to write the dates on the papers, sometimes I would loose a slip of paper,” she says. “I love writing about our daughter as a way of recording her life and the blog format works really well for me.”

Carolyn draws the line at posting photos of her daughter, Csilla, which is in contrast with Angella’s inspiration for her blog, Dutch Blitz.

“I started it almost three years ago as a means of allowing my Mom and other relatives see photos of my kids,” she says from her home in Kelowna.

“I now see my site as basically an extension of myself. I write about all aspects of my life. Whatever is on my heart that I need to get out.”

With or without the photos that so spooked Kathie Lee, all parenting blogs share one theme: the emotions, and struggles of life.

“I have three kids and it is hard to actually get together with other Moms,” says Angella. For her, the blog becomes “an outlet, and a community.”

“The comments and support I am showered with truly uplifts my spirit,” Carolyn confesses. “’Blogging it out’ is incredibly rewarding and a heck of a lot cheaper than therapy.”

Angella flinches a bit at being labeled a Mommy Blogger, mainly because of the tone.

“The term “Mommyblogger” has been shunned by many Moms who write online, mainly because it has a kind of “pigeon-hole” connotation.” But even she admits, “I am a Mom and I have a blog. That makes me a Mommyblogger.”

Dooce gives all parents reason to take to the keyboard and embrace the title.

“All this writing about motherhood is bringing people together and changing lives,” she writes. “So you go ahead and wrinkle your nose and dismiss those mommy blogs. And I’m going to sit over here at my laptop and be totally flattered that someone thinks I’m worthy to be among their ranks. Hell yes, I’m a mommy blogger.”

BLOGOSPHERE BUZZ

• If you want to start blogging and meeting other parents, first visit Blogger.com or WordPress.org to get started – both are free. Here are some other parenting blogs I read: Strollerderby, Geekdad and Parent Hacks.

• For those wanting to securely share photos with family without setting up a blog, check out Kinzin.com. You post pictures in your own private social network viewable only by those you invite. This Vancouver site also has a $4 monthly service where it will mail out pics to family who like the old school feel of photos.

• The Apple Store at Pacific Centre will open this Saturday morning at 10. There had been rumblings of a late summer opening, but Apple’s PR rep, Simon Atkins, has confirmed the early opening in the old Holt Renfrew site.

Cossette West is hosting Convergence 2008, a Digital Marketing and Communications Forum, at the Arts Club Theatre tomorrow. Marketers will be meeting to learn how to stay competitive in the ever-shifting digital landscape.

Megan Cole writes at Megsjargon.org about a great discovery to help her maintain her 40 day yoga challenge. YogaToday is a free online yoga class with new 60 minute sessions each day.

catch the buzz… pass it on.

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