Is it Even Summer Yet?

The days are going by so fast that I think I lost track somewhere. Here I thought it was already officially Summer – only to realize that it doesn’t actually begin until Sunday! It’s hot out. The sun is shining. Schools are out. People are going to the beach. How is it not summer?

I guess I’ve been so busy lately, what with Gnomedex coming up and all! Things are coming along nicely for the conference, and we’re going to have an amazing time. If you haven’t purchased your ticket yet – what are you waiting for? Don’t be the one sitting at home watching us on the live stream and kicking yourself for not showing up.

Even though I’m crazy busy these days, I still make time to check out what everyone is up to. It’s one of the most important parts of my day – and I hope it’s an important part of yours.

There are Just not Enough Hours in the Day

I swear, the days are nowhere near 24 hours long. It’s just not possible! I do my best to get to everything that needs done each day. Most of the time, I do a fairly decent job. Other days – fugeddaboudit! It just doesn’t happen. We are busy working on the Gnomedex conference – which is only about 9 weeks away! This year promises to be an excellent conference once again, and I’m looking forward to it! I hope you are, as well! If you aren’t registered yet, be sure to do so soon. You don’t want the tickets to sell out, and miss your shot at attending.

During the day, I not only do my work and check my email. As you know, I spend time surfing our community sites, and reading what everyone is posting. I love being able to see what all of you are up to, and your thoughts on current issues. It’s also fun to post some of my favorites on here to share with the rest of the crowd. If you aren’t reading what is being said – shame on you! And if you aren’t posting things of your own – double shame!

Are You Looking for a Free Internet Whiteboard?

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I had some of the people from our live chat room draw and write on my virtual whiteboard. They managed to quickly fill up 24 pages! I created this for free, using a cool service I came across that you can use for school or work!

Dabbleboard is an online collaboration application that’s centered around the whiteboard. With a new type of drawing interface that’s actually easy and fun to use, Dabbleboard gets out of your way and just lets you draw.

You can either sign up or not, it’s not necessary! There are different levels of use… both free and paid-for accounts. You can freehand draw, add text, or use one of the tools to make your drawings more precise.

Your Dabbleboard can be private or public. You can also go a step further, and click “voice and video chat”. A box will pop up and detect your camera and microphone. You then add friends or coworkers. Once you’ve set it up, you are given a URL to share with others. They can then see what you’re drawing and writing, and add to it – as well as being able to see and hear you!

Whiteboarding is a perfect way to communicate when you’re snowed in, sick or just have to work with people who aren’t all in the same location. Make sure you pass along any other collaboration tools you know of!

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How Community Works: Past, Present, and Future

The following is a partial transcript of my presentation at Macworld. For full effect, you might just press play on this embedded video on How Community Works: Past, Present, and Future.

How Community Works: Past, Present, and Future

I’ve been a geek for much of my 35 years on this Earth. Most of my life I spent as a Windows user. Yes, I know, and I’m sorry. Don’t worry, since I’ve obviously seen the light to a better path now. It took a long time, and there were actually three key things that led me to throw myself deeper into the Apple community:

  • Apple switching to the Intel platform
  • Leopard
  • Vista

You could say that in the past, I was a person who championed the idea of software on the Windows platform. I was a community leader of sorts, writing a lot of material primarily relating to Windows. When Vista’s Beta 2 began to ship, I met Jim Allchin in person at a Blogger’s Roundtable. He told me specifically that he wanted my honest feedback. So – I gave it to him. My post Windows Vista Feedback listed more than 100 issues that I had with Vista. Little things bothered me, such as the developers using three different fonts in the same window. I was cast out of the Windows community because they said “Who cares?!”. Well, I DID care. I DO still care. To make that long story much shorter: one of my most prized possessions is a DVD of Windows Vista Beta 2, autographed by Jim Allchin. Under his name her wrote: “I’m sorry”.

Community is Already There, Inside Everyone.

The idea of community… of belonging… is everywhere, including inside of you. You are a walking Venn diagram. Think of circles that sometimes intersect with one another. You are a part of many various communities. I live in Seattle, so I belong to that community. I’m now a Mac user, so I’m part of that community as well. There are others who both live in Seattle, and use a Mac. There may even be another layer of people who own a Tenori-On. The idea of community intersects – it flows in between us all. This idea goes with you. It may be odd to think about, since the Internet is set up in silos. You have to say you’re someone’s friend on one website, and then again on another, and yet again on another! It’s unintuitive, and very non-user-centric, this idea of community.

Community isn’t about a Company – It’s about a Culture.

Years ago, I read the Cluetrain Manifesto, and the revelation came to me. The book is based on the idea that markets are conversations. Given the news that Apple will no longer be participating in Macworld, it makes me realize more that this is about the culture, but not necessarily the company. Most of you are disappointed in the news. I am not really surprised by it. To me, this is less about the company, and more about the culture… and the people you connect with. Hopefully you’ve made good connections here. That’s my favorite part of going to events like this. If given a choice between an event like this where I know I’ll share a common bond and some hoity-toity “other” conference… I’m choosing this every time. Making those connections, and spending time with people who want to be here, instead of being told they have to be, is invaluable to me. It doesn’t matter how large a trade-show floor is. A conference is all about the value of the connections you make with people.

Community is Becoming Increasingly Distributed.

This idea of community online used to exist in silos, but those walls are starting to be broken down; the idea of being able to connect with someone on one site and know that you are going to be able to connect with them everywhere else. There are people that know me, just as there a lot of people who DON’T know me. That’s fine. The people that do know me, don’t have to know me through a certain website to connect with me. They don’t have to go to website XYZ to get to know me – I bring that community with me. So if I’m on Twitter, FriendFeed, Facebook, MySpace… if I know someone on one, they are as much of a friend on the others. Community no longer exists in only one place. It’s everywhere – omnipresent. You bring those relationships with you, whether you are visiting another website, or you are actually meeting people in person, in “meatspace.”

Community Requires Tools that Can’t be Built.

People ask me all the time what I use to build a community. It’s impossible to pinpoint this. A community isn’t something that you just create by installing something. It doesn’t happen that way. The best community tools are ones that cannot be built. It exists in your heart, and extends from there. From your heart, it goes to your mind, then your mouth, and potentially to your fingers (depending on how you are communicating). The idea of putting something in front of a group of people and just expecting things to happen is asinine. I’ve seen people over and over cry out “I started a forum, but no one is joining!”. Well, gee – it’s not like they started the only forum dedicated to whatever it was. What makes one stand out over another? It’s all about what is in your heart, what you take with you wherever you go – that sense of community.

This is just the beginning of what I covered in this presentation at Macworld 2009. There’s more to be discovered about community in this video, including:

  • Community is a Commodity, but People Aren’t.
  • Community Cannot be Controlled, only Guided.
  • Community is no Longer Defined by Physical Boundaries.
  • Community Grows its own Leaders.
  • Community is the Antithesis of Ego.
  • Community needs Macworld more than Apple Does.
  • Community is Everywhere – Including Inside of You.

Would You Like a Free Ticket to the Gnomedex Conference?

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For the past eight years, I’ve been putting on Gnomedex conferences. This year, it’s happening from August 21 – 23rd. Ponzi and I decided to give out a scholarship this year to someone to be able to attend the convention. How would you like to join us?
Maybe you’re in the area, maybe you’re a struggling entrepreneur, maybe you’re a social networking fiend, maybe your employer won’t pay for a ticket, maybe you’re a student, maybe you’re in between jobs, maybe you work at a startup, maybe work was slow this year… maybe we can help.
Would you like for us to offer you a full conference pass ($600 value) so that you might attend Gnomedex this year? It really doesn’t matter where you are right now. Our team will determine the validity of your request / application. Qualifications:

  • You’ll be in the Seattle area from August 21 – 23.
  • You’re 18 or older (sorry, kids).
  • You’re extremely interested in technology.

Submit your request to me ([email protected]) immediately. The more creative, descriptive, etc. you are, the better your chances of getting the scholarship. If you’re the one who is selected, please keep it confidential for now.
We’d love to have you join us. Even if you can’t, we’ll be streaming as much of it live as possible. Get those typing fingers and creative juices flowing… and you just may be able to join us!

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