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Geeks and Shrinks

20 02 2009

Geeks and Shrinks. That’s who Robert Reich (former secretary of labor, not the Robert Reich who runs the BDNT Meetup)  in his book ‘The Future of Work’ believes will rule the new economy. I’m no shrink, (Shrink = translator who communicates technical stuff to regular people). although I am a communication studies graduate, but am I geek? Let’s see what you think after one of my forays into the geek kingdom of the Front Range.

I’m at the Boulder-Denver New Tech meetup held at the Law Building at the University of Colorado at Boulder. If you want to see the new kingdom of geeks in one of their prime territories, there’s no other place to come…..I really wasn’t sure what to expect when driving to Boulder for this event.  Of course the term “geek” pops in my head and I am thinking pocket protectors, single guys in their mid thirties to late 40’s perhaps some of them still living in their mothers basement, writing codes all day long.  Boy was I wrong….

I am pleasantly surprised to find men and women, yes women, of all ages and appearances.  Some dressed as if they just came from work and the rest dressed as a typical casual Coloradoan.  I don’t think I saw any pocket protectors either. We all mingle around trays of chips and guacamole, fruit and of course a bar filled with Colorado micro-brews (so cool)…. @YannR(see we even use his Twitter handle)  tells me that we better find a seat because this place fills up quick.  He sure was right…within 10 minutes of the doors opening majority of the seats w ere taken and many people had to result to sitting on the floor or standing in the doorframes. Geeks in door frames. But wait, there’s more……

As the meeting begins I see that there are three screens up front, one for the speaker’s presentation, one for a bio and info of the speaker and to the right a large screen with a live feed from Twitter of a quickly trending topic; #bdnt.  I see right away people commenting on the speaker and the event, jokes being made, shout outs to friends in the crowd and time to time some heckling.  Everyone around me is tapping away on their laptops or of course iPhones making these micro-blogs themselves.  I suddenly feel naked without my laptop and especially without my non-existent iPhone.  I’m not sure what I would micro-blog about but I find myself wanting to be a part of the action.  The Tweeting I find quite interesting, it reminds me of sitting in grade school passing notes to friends talking about the teacher or friends in our class.  I guess this is the “new tech” way of passing notes.  Only this time the speakers engage as well, unlike my teacher in grade school.  They stop when chuckling begins and look to the Twitter screen to see someone asking if anyone in the door frame can pass him down a beer and continues to describe his location and appearance. It’s like a meeting within a meeting. Tech within tech.

So this is the new geek kingdom……. now I know not everyone lives this way but even if these guys are 5 years ahead of their time, this is one heck of a future we are looking at! All in all, I have to say, my first foray to the Meetup was great.  I learned a lot, not only about what a new geek looks like but also about new tech, and start ups that are popping up all over Northern Colorado.  It was refreshing to see so much passion, intelligence and new ideas all in once place. This Meetup was my christening into my new found geekyness that working for Extanz has given me.

So if you’re like me and you’re not a shrink, heading towards being a geek, and looking towards the future, here’s some things to keep in mind on your journey…

1. If you’re not on Twitter by now, you need to be — www.twitter.com

2. If you want to connect with like minded people, go to search.twitter.com, put your interests as keywords and search for them — then connect with them.  Or you can also use something like www.twitter.grader.com

3. Follow people. Be patient. They will follow you back.

4. To communicate with the Twitter natives, just put @ in front of their usernames (like @YannR).

5. Share. Retweet stuff you think is valuable. Remember, it is not about you. It’s about creating a conversation online that mirrors face to face interaction. Be positive. Be enlightening. Evolve.
Now if I could just get my hands on an iPhone……..

Thanks for the great pics from Frenchista and Coghill Cartooning

Cheers,

Lauren

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What’s the old Napster got to do with the new PR?

6 01 2009

As 2009 dawns here at Extanz we have been reflecting on  some of the simultaneously insightful and frustrating conversations we have had with folks recently around the notion of PR 2.0 and what counts as “success” in such a field. Now, we know we say we do PR 2.0 and the term sits heavily with us. We use the term because it is something that people can “hold onto” and has some meaning, but like all language, it traps us in a game (as Nietzsche would argue) and it is this game that has become increasingly frustrating to us. You could argue that our view on PR is colored by our politics. You could argue it is colored by our international backgrounds. Even our language differences. But it really comes down to some very simple terms — “public” and “relations”. These terms beg the questions, we would argue, of 1)  “who is your public?” and 2) what kind of “relations” do you want to have with them? We’ve implicitly discussed these philosophical underpinnings of Extanz’ work before in our posts on Trust 2.0 and The Medium is the Message, but we thought we try and spell it out here. See what you think.

First of all, hands up all those who remember Napster? How about KaZaa? Come on now, you don’t have to be nervous…. how many of you participated in P2P activities way before it was gentrified and still considered a somewhat edgy act akin to, dare we say it, hacking? How many of us believed ‘information just wants to be free’? How many of us still do?

Back in the radical early days of Napster, I was lucky enough to be around some super smart media  and cultural studies people and we wrote a paper on just what it was about Napster that made authorities’ blood boil and music lovers rejoice. Napster and its P2P friends, peers and offspring reminded us that systems of enclosure such as copyright, patents, and property deeds are artificial creations, the tools of the powerful to become more powerful; weapons of exclusivity, designed to keep their users in “in their place” in an artificial order of things; instruments of selfish wealth creation for some individuals. Now, one of the reasons Napster and KaZaa and the like were so popular was because we all knew we were being sold 2 good tracks on a CD for the price of 10 and there was nothing we thought we could do about it until we realized that if we just set those tracks we liked free, or if our friends had them and we traded them for others, then everyone could win. And win we did. Heck, even the bands cut out the middle people which made them, well you know, discontent. And then vengeful.

Around the same time, I was torturing myself over my ‘original contribution’ to academic knowledge as I toiled through my PhD program (with those smart types I was mentioning earlier). Frozen like a deer in the headlights, I was whining to one of my mentors one day about my desperation of not finding my unique contribution when she reminded me that, “there is no such thing as an original idea. There are only original combinations and articulations.” That’s academic speak for what we know now as, ‘the mashup rules; and the more creative the mash, the better it is’.

What’s the old Napster got to do with the new PR? Everything. Napster then and now serves us a reminder of the true power of the Web (it is called a web for a reason, folks). It reminded us of its original conception, its unique brilliance– its power to connect and create mutually beneficial relationships with others. At the same time that Napster ruled as a radical force and disruptive technology, we both had the honor of working for a data storage company. While sadly unaware of what would come to pass in its industry, the company had a slogan at the time —  “information made powerful”.  Napster was information made powerful. Facebook is information made powerful. Web 2.0 is information made powerful. Napster ushered in the age of the bricoleur; the artist who weaves different forms, different objects and different ideas together to create something new and useful to share with others. PR 2.0 is about the bricoleur; the individual who creates relationships between people, objects and ideas.

The new PR is not the PR of our parents’ generation. It is the PR of the Napster Generation. The Millenials. Gen Y. Gen disrupting the workforce. Gen ADHD. In the eyes of Extanz, PR 2.0, the new PR, is conversations made powerful. People made powerful. Participation made powerful. Relationships made powerful. As the Zen Buddhist Teacher Shunryu Suzuki, in Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind states, “when you forget all your dualistic ideas, everything becomes your teacher, and everything can be the object of worship.” (p.44). PR 2.0 Extanz-style.

With thanks to Today is a good day  ,  jm3and of course Napster, for their inspiration!

Welcome to the brave new world — ready to share?

Kirsti





What the Blog?

1 12 2008

One of the things Extanz is committed to is “growing experts”. It’s one of our core values. We take this approach to our clients and to ourselves. My story is a case in point…..

Until recently I didn’t really understand what all this blogging was about. To be perfectly honest I thought it was primarily for geeks who wanted to discuss….well I’m not really sure what I thought they were discussing…. or for journalists who were just re-formatting their previous articles into the form of a blog to keep up with the times or a new arena for people to rant about whatever they were currently annoyed with. None of the above was of any interest to me what so ever.

I never really did much work on-line in my past jobs aside from daily emails and helping to update our company’s website every now and again, but working for Extanz has opened my eyes to a whole new world…the blogosphere. And this blogosphere is pretty cool, I must say.

While doing research on influential blogs (yes, blogs can be influential!) for our clients I began stumbling upon all these nifty blogs that I found very helpful and interesting. I have now become the “annoying yet full of information” friend and daughter that emails everyone links to cool and sometimes helpful blogs. Like the gluten free blog for my Mom who has Celiac disease, or the cool Mom product review blog for my best friend who just had her first baby.

Yes, blogs are cool, but as I mentioned they can also be influential. Does your company have a blog? Are you letting your customers/clients know about who you are? Are you reaching out and making a connection? Having a company blog can bring in new business that you never thought possible. For instance, the other day I was cruising around the web and found this really cool, local, honey farm and they happened to have a blog on their website. I started reading and found myself so fascinated and loving all the information in this blog, about the history of the company, the bees, and most importantly to me, the honey and its health benefits. Before I knew it, I was buying $30 worth of honey and have been telling all my friends about it.

So… as you can see, I have found out that my previous assumption of blogs was not entirely true. Blogs are not just for the geeks, journalists, and complainers. Blogging is for everyone and by everyone. Make a connection, share information, tell a story, be influential. Come on, what are you waiting for? Everyone’s doing it…

Cheers,

Lauren

Thanks Hi I’m Chris for the cool pic