Creating Passionate Users: Face-to-Face Trumps Twitter, Blogs, Podcasts, Video…

Posted by bryanzug - 2007/03/16

God bless Kathy Sierra.

Over the last few months I’ve found myself trying to explain the deepening (and real community) aspects of meatspace interactions that my wife Jen and I have been drawn into as a result of participating in online community.

Ruthie's Shoes at Northern Voice 2007

Usually we are trying to explain to business colleagues or friends or family or members of our church that, yes, indeed — online community is a part of real community and not the equivalent of social cheese-whiz that some describe it to be.

But, yeah — as I’m working to explain it I often see eyes begin to glaze over — and I can tell that folks are either not buying it or I’m not communicating very well.

Which leaves me — searching for ways to compellingly relate how online community has become real community for us — looking for the stories and patterns that engage both the emotion and the intellect.

Enter Kathy Sierra.

This morning I read her post from yesterday describing her keynote at SXSW. The post is called Face-to-Face Trumps Twitter, Blogs, Podcasts, Video… and is full of great passages on how all this social web software drives a deeper desire for face-to-face community.

My favorite quote —

…all our globally-connecting-social-networking tools are making face-to-face more, not less desirable. Thanks to the tools y’all are building, we now have more far-flung friends–including people we’ve never met f2f–than ever before. We now have more people we want to connect with in the human world, often after years of electronic-only contact.

Nice insight — sticking that pattern in my bag of tricks — something tells me the “online community isn’t real community, is it?” questions aren’t gonna stop anytime soon — this stuff is continuing to disrupt everything.

Did I mention that my mom who just got her first computer for Christmas is now IM’ing all the time — the world really is getting flat.

They Say I’m Extreme

Posted by bryanzug - 2005/11/16

Went to Barnes & Noble over at U-Village a couple of days ago (near the University of Washington here in Seattle). Had been having a bad day and needed some time to clear my head — decided to wander the store and explore — which usually does the trick.

These days I’ve got so much past due (on every front, all the time), that I rarely wander aaround and shift gears to discovery mode — so it was a nice couple of hours.

Came across a cool little ‘explode your world’ book by Seth Godin called “The Big Moo”.

It’s a collection of essays by 30 people who would best be described as ‘change catalysts’. Godin serves as editor for the collection and it’s chocked full of nuggets (all of which are not credited to a particular contributor — that’s interesting).

One of the essays is called “They Say I’m Extreme” and it knocked me on my ass.

It was exactly what I needed to hear on that particular afternoon. I’m passing a few quotes of it along here (you can find the full version around if you google) — hope the copyright police don’t mind (and if they do, I hope they recognize the attention exchange as worth it).

If this inspires you, replicate the DNA by passing it along and buying the book (it’s a non-profit thing and all proceeds go to charity — bulk orders info available on The Big Moo site).

Here’s the first exceprt that got me…

They Say I’m Extreme They say I’m extreme. I say I’m a realist. They say I demand too much. I say they accept mediocrity and continuous improvement too readily. They say, “We can’t handle this much change.” I say, “Your job and career are in jeopardy; what other options do you have?” They say, “What’s wrong with a ‘good product’?” I say, “Wal-Mart or China or both are about to eat your lunch. Why can’t you provide instead a fabulous experience?” They say, “Take a deep breath. Be calm.” I say, “Tell it to Wal-Mart. Tell it to China. Tell it to India. Tell it to Dell. Tell it to Microsoft.”

Here’s another…

They say, “Happy balance.” I say, “Creative tension.” They say they favor a “team that works and lives in harmony”. I say, “Give me a raucous brawl among the most creative people imaginable.” They say, “Peace, brother.” I say, “Bruise my feelings. Flatten my ego. Save my job.”

And another…

They say, “We see Harvard M.B.A.s.” I say, “I seek certificate-free ‘Ph.D.s’ from the School of Hard Knocks.” They say they want recruits with “spotless records”. I say, “The spots are what matter most.” They say, “Integrity is important.” I say, “Tell the unvarnished truth, all the time…or take a hike.”

Last one…

They say, “Zero defects.” I say, “A day without a screw up or two is a day pissed away.” They say, “Think about it.” I say, “Try it.” They say, “Plan it.” I say, “Test it.”

Very nice bit of inspiration. A bit of googling this AM turned up an earlier version in a compelling visual form (.pdf). Amazing how Google can lead you right to the source with just a few bits of info.

Good stuff…

Get Well Soon

Posted by bryanzug - 2005/10/21

Get well soon — you know who you are — I am sorry this is happening to you — I am also praying for you (seriously, despite what follows).

This is an off topic post but frankly, I’m pissed, so here goes.

I just found out a couple of days ago that a friend I work with is sick — really sick — sudden onset of leukemia over 40 years old sick.

It has me quite angry — shaking my fist at the universe on his behalf (or God for the misery coping theists like me out there).

It’s the kind of angry where I have no capacity to write warm fuzzy get well notes on Hallmark cards (you know those cards – the ones with the flowers and the sunsets and the bad poetry written in flowing script).

On the card that came around the office on Friday I couldn’t bring myself to write the things that social propriety tells me belong on cards like that. Call it a lack of composure if you want, I really don’t care.

I think I started out by saying “What you are going through completely sucks.”

And this is the space I’m still stewing in.

He’s a great guy (I don’t know how he feels about blogging etc. so I’m not going to mention names). We’ve worked together for about 2 years now. Some of the anecdotes that come to mind —

…whenever I pass him in cubeville he’s zinging some funny quip that takes the edge off of things — and God knows we need less edges — I love him for that.

…he’s got two teen daughters who sound like they are pretty smart – so much so that I’ve been asking him how I can raise my kids (infant and toddler) to be so smart.

…he works so hard with the teams around him to keep impossibly lame systems up and running — and he does a great job of it.

(and, yes, that is an open shot at vendors who make non robust systems and then expect other folks to spend their lives picking up the slack — lamer than lame, in my not so humble opinion – for God’s sake, please cowboy up and make great shit that works).

This is the friend of mine who is really sick and I am heartbroken.

All I can think about is how angry I am and how much my guts are screaming, “This ain’t the way things are supposed to be – why is this chaos, this illness, this system crashing bug — why is this ripping into our systemized orderly bit driven lives?”

“There are a lot of other guys in the universe who deserve shit like this –” (we’ve all got our lists, don’t we?) “– but not this guy, not my friend.”

And the only comfort coming to mind as I write this is a piece of ancient commiseration that goes like this –

We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.

While I completely agree with this notion on an intellectual level (and what follows it in the original text), my heart is still saying —


          This is completely fucked.

          Why is this happening to my friend?

Ambrose Bierce on Zeal

Posted by bryanzug - 2005/10/03

Picked up a nice quote on zeal from David Allen’s blog this AM. Great note to folks like me who, shall we say, brew over with passion from time to time.

It’s by Ambrose Bierce —

Zeal, n. A certain nervous disorder afflicting the young and inexperienced. A passion that goeth before a sprawl.      When Zeal sought Gratitude for his reward      He went away exclaiming: “O my Lord!”      “What do you want?” the Lord asked, bending down.      “An ointment for my cracked and bleeding crown.”      — Jum Coople — Ambrose Bierce, The Devil’s Dictionary, 1911

David posted part of the quote. I was able to google the full thing and the source.

(Have I mentioned that I’m a huge fan of David Allen and that I’d stalk him if I had the time?)

One Hand Raised in Favor of Openness

Posted by bryanzug - 2005/09/29

Met Scoble in this webinar on tech blogging for business the other day. Big takeaway for me was ‘The Corporate Weblog Manifesto’ he pointed to that he posted back in February 2003.

It really serves as a definitive scope document for the revolution he has helped lead – the one that’s changing the very nature of corporate communication, product evangelism, and software development.

It’s my current blog policy until something better (read — more corporate and sanitized) comes along.

Here’s some highlights (more to follow on more of his 21 points as time allows) —

1) Tell the truth. The whole truth. Nothing but the truth. If your competitor has a product that’s better than yours, link to it. You might as well. We’ll find it anyway.

Wow — tell the truth even if it doesn’t flatter you because people will find out anyway.

2) Post fast on good news or bad. Someone say something bad about your product? Link to it — before the second or third site does — and answer its claims as best you can. Same if something good comes out about you. It’s all about building long-term trust. The trick to building trust is to show up! If people are saying things about your product and you don’t answer them, that distrust builds. Plus, if people are saying good things about your product, why not help Google find those pages as well?

Warts and all honesty actually has a huge, often undocumented ROI, and it’s called customer trust.

Anyone familiar with Microsoft’s corporate history (especially from a technical or business perspective) knows full well the huge level of mistrust they have earned during their recent lifespan.

Whoever hired Scoble to do what he’s doing where he’s doing it should really be considered for a Nobel Peace Prize – from a cultural change perspective, the work is extremely significant, and will ultimately make the world a much better place.

New Orleans Overkill (Literally)

Posted by bryanzug - 2005/09/28

The news of New Orleans’ demise was greatly exaggerated….

Have to concur with this assertion by Scott Manning.

The Times-Picayune from New Orleans has released an article stating that the massive number of casualties that were predicted by the mainstream media at the Superdome and at the New Orleans Convention center were off. Extremely off. They are so far off that I can’t believe there hasn’t been a major story on how wrong they were.

The New Orleans coverage felt manipulative the minute I saw the same dead lady in a wheel chair on a gajillion different media outlets that were all hyping the death and destruction for a consistent 48 hour period following the storm.

It was overkill — literally.

(That’s an interesting sociological study I’d like to do –- It would be very interesting to quantify exactly how many times that image was hyped.)

And they wonder why folks like me don’t trust them.

It’s honestly insulting that they don’t realize the advanced hype sniffers that this season of cultural evolution has endowed to folks like me. I was 12 when MTV debuted and have been over marketed non-stop ever since. The sarcastic jaded skepticism isn’t so much a choice as it is a coping mechanism.