Really Makers of TV? There's a game show, where one event is to stack apples. This is why I prefer the internet :)

Archive for September, 2007

VoIP and Live Streaming, in my opinion, have revolutionized the communication industry. Anyone with computer and internet connection can connect with anyone else on the planet, for real time voice and video communications. The clincher? Such tools require a few dollars and commodity internet access –nearly everyone can get in on the conversation.

Skype connects a family
Recently, an Uncle and Auntie of mine recently moved to the Middle East for a off country teaching assignment, in a city known for violence, assassinations and unrest. Yesterday, during a local family get together we were able to arrange a time to call them, and we piped over a video stream to them. We could hear their audio only. I was able to briefly jump into this real world communications with them, as they were half way around the world, and wouldn’t be returning to us anytime soon.

My cousin showed him around the house with the video camera, although the wireless network connection would sometimes drop, they got to experience a virtual tour of what we were doing. Although not perfectly setup, we continue to lower the barriers to communication in real time, and the medium gets richer with each passing year.

Live streaming the human life cycle
I recently spoke with Chris Yeh, the CEO of Ustream (live interactive video), he tells me that in addition to people broadcasting live births on the web, that families are live-broadcasting funerals. Morbid? Not really, some family members who couldn’t be at the service get to participate in the grieving process, in this virtual way to be with their family.

What’s next?
It’s just a matter of time before our traditional home entertainment systems become IP enabled, allowing for PC to TV real-time video and audio to be transmitted. It would be interesting to see the adoption of these tools each holiday season, year after year.

Has VoIP or Live Streaming impacted your family?

There’s so many examples of how these tools impact business, but have you had an experience where these tools impacted your personal or family life? VoIP, live video streaming, what? Share with me in the comments.

Why a career “path”? As there are several steps to take to move into a web management role, don’t worry, with dedication it’s not difficult.

I’m getting more and more emails every day, please note that I read them all but due to the sheer volume, I won’t respond to all. In particular, I’m getting more questions about “how does one become a web strategist, or a web director”. Mary noticed that I started my career in web as a UI designer, much like her current role. She has ambitions to climb into the director’s chair and make calls for the direction of the website.

She emailed me the following and gave me permission to blog it, I’m not going to reveal her last name, but she’s welcome to self identify.

“…I would encompass my questions along a career path. I saw in your career path you started as a designer, I worked as a designer also and then evolved into what was needed as opposed to having a web strategist focus.

I sincerely enjoy meeting with clients and analyzing there needs and assessing the best path to achieve those goals. Currently, however the company I am with I am in resource management and needless to say I am not being challenged. The current structure of the company would not yield itself to my specific career goals.

I still do freelance on the side, design, branding and consulting; I do it because I enjoy it so much.

What would you suggest. How do I move forward, how do I position myself. I sincerely appreciate your help and expertise.

Thanks so much

—Mary”


My Path

Here’s a few suggestions that I have, then I’m going to turn it over to the community to help answer. In 1999-2000 I started by doing what I was good at (well for the time, don’t ask me to return to these skills) and completed many web UI design projects at work. I read up by getting books on the topic and developed a thirst for more knowledge, I started attending events and reading whatever I could get my hands on. I did a few freelance projects with other companies to build out my resume. Eventually, I changed jobs and was able to move into more of a content organization role at World Savings. I was really fortunate to have a great manager Kevin who introduced me to Information Architecture and User Experience Design. Eventually I applied some of those skills and did some larger products…slowly evolving into larger projects to programs. As I moved on to the next role, the need for “Web Managers” in Silicon Valley grew, nearly every company had several websites to manage (external, internal, and customer) and the skills needed became more focused. I finally moved into a web management role, and was then running multiple projects, which now equate a program. A web strategist is really a program director, someone responsible for a series of projects around a business objective.

Supplement your career with Social Media
Blogging became a big part of my daily activity, and I started to write about what I was learning and doing, eventually it was a trigger enough to become a major reason why I was hired at last company, yeah, that’s right, I blogged myself into my next job, and I’m not the first, nor the last. You can ever read the first comment from my former CEO confirming it. Blogging is a way to demonstrate to the marketplace of your interests and passions are, and it’s easily findable by recruiters or others. To some extend this was a factor that made my future employer understand my area of interest, it continues on.

Network and get Educated
I’ll take a picture sometime of my web reading libary, I have nearly 100 books on a variety of web topics, I’ve also subscribed to magazines, and printed out white papers and other types of research docs. There’s a constant influx of content coming in. If I could look back, it would be interesting to see how the content changed as I moved into a management role, at first, it was a lot of photoshop hacks, and now, I’m looking at industry trends and market data. For the last few years, I attended as many web related events as I could, I would often live blog the sessions, which was part of the learning process. Over time, my personal network grew and things really started to happen. If you’re in an area where there’s not a lot of events, attend online webinars, or use social media to connect.

Considerations for Mary
So for Mary, to summarize a path, it’s to take on smaller projects, show and demonstrate success, and then take on larger projects as your role progresses. Continue to learn, and absorb everything you can, be open to feedback, and follow your passions, one thing leads to another. As a designer, you may want to expand out and start to do some user experience research projects. Then try doing some business requirements documents, then meld those together into a website architecture document and lay out a plan. Only then can you apply your mastery in design. Learn to measure the changes of your website, and use that to calculate the success or failure of the project and continue. Over time these series of projects will turn into a program and you can move into full time web management.

The title itself is not important
A Web Strategist can appear in many places, in Marketing, IT, a Product team, a PR firm, in a consultancy or at an analyst firm. Anyone who makes long term decisions for a website, and meets these three spheres of community, business, and technology is in that role. The title may also differ, depending on the organization, so don’t worry about that as much.

Share your experience

The conversation continues in the Web Strategy Group, where there are a few others that have explained their path. So if you have something to add, consider sharing it here, and maybe also in the group.

There was a unique intersection of Social Media and Digital Film creators at Vancouver’s Digital Film conference called VidFest.

I was one of the panelists discussion online identity, where the worlds of Facebook, Online Video and Second Life mixed and mashed, it was great fun, Megan Cole (who takes meaningful photos) did a fantastic job moderating. I really found the debate panel on the Web 2.0 Democracy or Mob Mentality, Andrew Keen the author of Cult of the Amateur made some very valid points, despite his pessimistic attitude. Thanks to Kelly Verchere for all her organization, and Lynda Brown for putting it all together.

There was an unique intersection between the film industry present, and another crew from the social media side, like myself and Bill Claxton (great writeup) from Singapore. There will be a merger between how films are created and then distributed using social media tools like Blip, YouTube then on top of ‘carrier’ websites like social networking sites and blogs. The movie theater or TV is no longer the only ways to consume content.


[The future of online Video will be created using digital tools, often with the audience, shared and spread in a distributed manner, accessed on demand, and shorter, faster, niched content]

I was really impressed by the movie showings of Infest Wisely, a film created by multiple directors around the topic of Nano Technology and then Sanctuary, a kind of Buffy meets Vampire hunters, these are films created using digital tools, and released for the web only. If you’re a sci-fi fan, like me, it’s worth checking out.

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Time Warp

Categories: RuminationsPosted on September 28th, 2007

We had our dates mixed up about a recent announcement, so I’ve temporarily removed one of my latest posts. It will go live exactly as originally posted once I fix my sundial.

In the meantime, check out my favorite flickr photos.

Update: After some time, the site is now live, and I published the post exactly as promised.

The lost tapes of the Web Strategy Show

Categories: VideoPosted on September 28th, 2007

This is an apology post, and a request for help.

Sadly, due to leaving of PodTech, some of my video on DV tape will not be published. I really want to apologize to the folks that were interviewed as I took up your valuable time. Although awesome Rocky is publishing just a few more interviews that were already cut, he’s rightfully no longer obligated to edit them as I’m no longer with the company.

If there are any junior video editors out there that are interested in a side project to transfer DV tapes and publish (maybe 10 segments), very minor editing is required. I’d be happy to talk with you, we could work something out, please leave a comment below or email me on the contact page.

Amanda of JiJiJa tours me around InnoCentre
Amanda Greets me at Innocentre

Innocentre Atrium
The Atrium features products and designs

Innocentre Cafeteria
Communal Cafeteria

Innocentre Atrium
Grand Atrium

This is another special Silicon Valley Sightings Asia Edition, view the archives.

I had the absolute pleasure to take a tour of Hong Kong’s InnoCentre (on the Kowloon side) from Amanda Lau, head of Marketing of JiJiJa. This is just days after my tour of Cyberport on Hong Kong Island.

InnoCentre is a government sponsored incubator that promotes emerging companies by providing office space, business amenities like meeting rooms, copier rooms, and even funding –without taking any equity. There’s few VCs in Silicon Valley that can boast that type of model.

For startups, even the little things matter, from impressing clients in a real meeting room (rather than meeting at starbucks) or having a real work space, as you know there are few garages in China, so the garage startup is virtually non-existent.

“He said, “we promote applied R&D through funding schemes, infrastructure support, collaboration with Mainland and overseas research institutes. We also endeavor to grow an innovation culture in the community. Most recently, we launched five new R&D centers, in which the Government will invest over US$256.41 million (HK$2 billion). And we will roll out Science Park Phase 2 starting 2007.” -reports HK Economic Trade Office

There were several floors to this amazing building, which also housed product design companies (University of HK was just a few steps away) and had gallery areas to show off new products. For companies that met their three year goals in the program, they were elligable for funding, to launch their company further. As I understand it, a company has to apply to get this special kind of grant, and a few of the companies I met were happy to be there.

While there are some startup incubators around (I think Francine Hardaway would know) in the United States, I’ve never heard of a government sponsored one with so many benefits.

I met with Amanda, who showed me her product Jijija (Which means chatter in Chinese). They help ecommerce and social networks or even media websites become more efficient by providing behavioral based recommendations. This is a viable model as gestures (unspoken actions) can often be more powerful than what users say they will do. Don’t be fooled by their Chinese website, they plan to head globally, although I have the master list of others in their space.

I also checked out ReSpread an do it yourself email marketing tool that has interesting CRM features, for the email marketer, this is an interesting asset for the small and medium sized company.

I spent times with the founders of another company, who wished to remain stealth, they provided me with amazing insight about the Chinese web culture as it applies to the web, you’re seeing that output in other posts.

Innocentre AtriumInnocentre EnterpriseInnocentre CopyroomInnocentre meeting roomInnocentre CafeteriaInnocentre CafeteriaInnocentre AtriumJiJiJa team (and mascot)Picture 1102Picture 1104

I screwed up, in fact this is a very embarrassing, but there’s a lesson to be learned and the majority of you all will benefit, if not be entertained.

As you know, if you add me on Facebook, I’ll add you back.

To me, Facebook is a business and personal networking tool unlike any other I’ve ever used. I’m pretty cavalier and liberal on what I let people send to me, such as dedicating songs. In the past, my wife has dedicated some songs to me, some of them are personal, and some trigger some inside jokes between us.

Recently, someone I don’t personally know dedicated a song to her entire network of friends, which included me. It was called “Girlfriend” and I accepted the dedication, it was then put on my profile page. I’m sure she had no idea of the implications it would soon cause for me.

For a bit of context, her profile picture, which at my age in the 30s is a bit racy, (but for her generation is likely common) bared a bit of shoulder.

She was also from an Asian country, where I was headed just last week…you see where this is going…imaginations can run wild.

My wife saw this while I was in Hong Kong last week, and when you add up all those instances, it paints a somewhat dark picture. My wife wasn’t connect to this girl, and couldn’t see she dedicated to all her friends.

I was slightly amused (but mostly scared) as I received an email from her one night in all caps, ending with the phrase “YOU BETTER GET THAT STRAIGHTEN OUT NOW!” (I’m not allowed to publish the full email, which I think is very, um, colorful)

Within minutes, I apologized, explained my innocence/ignorance/dumbassary, and removed the dedication, I explained I accepted all virtual gifts and dedications without giving it a second thought. She said she would then dedicate a song to me called “I’m a Dumbass” to prove her point. (dunno if such a song exists, but it might as well for me)

Just goes to show the dangers of Social Networks, sorry honey, wasn’t intentional, one should be more careful on how they use social networks for personal, business, family and friends, the context may not fully be apparent to others.

Think that’s bad? I’ve blogged about other embarrassing things I’ve done, such as screwing up Robert Scoble’s keynote in front of hundreds of PR professionals, a little humility goes a long way.

Even a web strategist can screw up too.

Update: Waili sent me this song called Dumbass by Tom Petty, nice.

(Left: Hong Kong Harbor at night)

Navigate to other reports
| Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 |

Summary
I ventured to Hong Kong and met with many of the web industry leaders, below is part 1 of 4 of my Web Strategy Field Report to understand the web sphere in Hong Kong and China. If you’re a web strategist with global responsibilities you’ll need to understand what’s happening in one of the world’s largest internet user base.

Opportunity
To date, there are more Chinese internet users than all of North America combined, and only a portion of China is full online, the potential has not yet been tapped. Simply re-skinning your website in Chinese and adding a ‘.cn’ domain may not be a sufficient strategy.

Purpose
I want to understand the global web better, and am doing what I can to learn more. It’s easy to become very insular in the Silicon Valley bubble, so if you’ve any suggestions, please leave a comment

Methodology

30-60 minute formal or casual interviews. I’ve met several successful Entrepreneurs, Investors, Analysts, Professors, CEOs, Strategists, Bloggers, Podcasters, and Marketers during this period.

Limitations

Please note this field report is incomplete. I’ve neither the time nor resources to do thorough analysis, and do a 360 degrees research. The information and anecdotes collected are from interviews with those that I met. As always, a web strategy and plan should have thorough research completed before starting. If you disagree or have other data points to add (even if it’s just your own opinion, I welcome them in the comments, please don’t be shy).


“The screen is getting bigger for a reason, some kids are playing 4 MMORPGS at once”

declared Yet Siu, the CEO of Outblaze over lunch at a fine seafood restaurant on Lamma island. He’s noticed that some youths in China and HK are playing up to 4 MMORPGs or web games at the same time…each in it’s own window.


“Mini –Homepy (pronounced mini-home-pie) aggregates one’s network”

Is a new feature coming out of South Korea that aggregates one’s network and is like a filter for an individual. If you want to communicate with an individual, you will go to his mini-homepy and leave a message. It’s a combination of a blog, homepage, aggregator, and message board an individual. I did some searches for this product but didn’t find much.


“America has never seen an Alibaba”

On more than one occasion has a few strategists told me about the success of Alibaba. What is this website? It’s an online marketplace for small to medium sized businesses, a site that has no North American relation or comparison. It sports a storefront (free) for any company, and those that wish to upgrade can add video and other features for a fee. Some companies pay up to $5,000 a year. In fact, the company is due to go public soon, and investors are expecting the stock to split within the first 24 hours of IPO. (so I’m told). Ther are 24 million registered users (compared to how many US users) with


“The internet industry is grouped in the Software industry”

Unlike the United States the internet is listed and categorized as a subset of the Software Industry. In the US, internet is often clearly separated from desktop or enterprise software, and we strive to maintain that separation. Over time, this may change in China as well. For many web professionals, they clearly see the web as an evolution to re-purpose desktop applications in the browser, and then the mobile web.


“There are 1.4 million new broadband users in China every month”

During a presentation from China Mobile various stats were given. Although this growth seems massive only 10% of China is on broadband, I believe the stat in United States is around 70-80% (from memory)

Stick around next week, I’ll be releasing part 2. If this was helpful or even if you have some contradictory information, please leave a comment.

Update: I had a great conversation with Carleen Hawn of GigaOm’s Found|READ, she’s summarized much of what I’m reporting back to you all.

Navigate to other reports
| Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 |

Lunch 2.0 at Family Oven

Categories: Events, Social ComputingPosted on September 27th, 2007

Sadly, my schedule has been too impacted for me to attend many of the Lunch 2.0 community events that are springing up just about everywhere. Yesterday, I was at familyoven’s kickoff lunch party, they hosted in gourmet style atop a rooftop in North Beach where they live/work. Dozens met for drinks, food, socialization and most impressively, the VIEW of all of SF on a clear, warm, slightly breezy day. It was easy to spot those used to the cold weather, they quickly sought shade.

What’s Family Oven about? It’s a website focused on recipes, cooking, with social networking and event hooks. I can think of a few people in my family that would be far more interested in a website like this than Facebook. What does it tell you that the largest tags on the tag cloud on the homepage are “Low sodium” and “Holiday”? Each of the recipe pages has recommended or similar types of menus, shows the profile of the submitter and various rating tools. If I were to make a suggestion, I would like to see instructional type of features be added, so step by step pictures and instructions could be added. Here’s my recipe for grilled apricots.

I learned that the two founders started this up on their own dime, and both were software engineers at Tagged, where Terry and Mark Jenn are.

One of the main reasons I came up was to meet Brian Keith in person, we had a brief chat, and I’ll be publishing a video of him in the near future.

I suspect one I start the new job, my time will be so impacted, I won’t be able to attend many of these community events, so I’ll enjoy them while I can.

Brian slaves at the apples403395402408405418420422427428432433435439

The First “Unofficial” Day

Categories: Forrester, RuminationsPosted on September 26th, 2007

View from Forrester Office
(View from Forrester’s office. I actually used to live right there on the Foster City lagoon on the left side apartments right on the water, on the right side, you can see the Oracle towers.)

Today I went in to my ‘unofficial’ first day at Forrester. I don’t actually hit the payroll until Monday, but I’m getting my research agenda and had to meet some new clients while in town. The welcome was amazing, Charlene and staff are really wonderful. I’m very excited about the road ahead, and the topics that I’ll be covering are right in my area of focus, stay tuned, more goodness to come.

I’m still getting a lot of questions about my future activity. Yes, I’ll continue to blog, and I’ll still do short videos and twitter and share. You’ll find that now that I have access to real data and research intelligence that I’ll have greater quality to share with you so hang on for the ride!

I’ll be flying out to Cambridge for new hire and analyst training, if you’re in Boston, please try to attend the blogger dinner on Oct 18th, there are already 37 signed up!

Just like I did at Hitachi and PodTech, I’ll be sharing my journey as an employee venturing into a new world, I believe in being as transparent as appropriate, so stay with me!

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