A Change in Social Networking

Posted on February 14, 2007
Filed Under Social Ventures | 3 Comments

Change.orgChange.org recently launched and I love the concept. The guys behind Change.org have created a social networking tool specifically geared toward non-profits. The usual social networking elements that we all know and love are there but they have added new elements specific to non-profits.

Users can rally around certain “changes” (groups) which can be anything from ending global warming to preserving net neutrality. Once people rally around changes they want to see take place they can then find charities that are working on those changes and “become friends” with them. If they want to, Change.org will even process donations to those charities. No money, no problem. You can head to the “actions” section of the site and find volunteer opportunities in your area posted by charities and other users.

Change.org will take 1% of every dollar donated as their revenue and they also hope to support the business through promotional campaigns that non-profits will run on the site.

Check out Change.org when you have a chance and start making a difference!

The No Cost Cafe: Pay What You Can

Posted on February 13, 2007
Filed Under Business | 3 Comments

While running through the content in my feed reader the other day I came across an interesting piece by the folks at Web Worker Daily. The piece was entitled Welcome to the No Cost Cafe. That warranted a read for sure. As I started reading I was blown away. Turns out that a Google programmer named Ervin Peretz has opened up a cafe in Kirkland Washington called the Terra Bite Cafe where you can pay what you can for everything. There are not even prices listed on the menu.

The idea is based on Peretz’ thought that all people are generally good but that they are influenced by their environment. Basically, if people see good they will do good as well. This is an incredible social experiment and I think it just might work.

After reading this I immediately thought of the story in the Tipping Point (I am pretty sure it was the Tipping Point but it may have been Blink) where the NYC public officials thought that if they continually kept the subway clean and free of grafitti the crime problems would go away. This thought stemmed from roughly the same one that spawned the Terra Bite Cafe - if people see good they will do good.

In the case of the NYC subway the idea worked with flying colors. Surprisingly the crime dropped dramatically from simply keeping the subway clean. People saw good and began to do good since they knew, simply by the cleanliness of the subway, that bad behavior was not acceptable.

I think the Terra Bite may work and even thrive. The implications on business in general could be pretty big. That said, I am sure everyone won’t flip to the system in a long time if they ever do but it could allow us to understand the human mind a bit more and run our businesses accordingly.

That said, I will leave you with this: Most of the world’s people still rely on barter systems where none of the listed prices are firm (I experienced that first hand in Cairo). Is the idea of the Terra Bite really any different than that? If not, it should work just fine once all of us start to shed the retail ideals that fill our minds.

Music Review: The Kooks - Inside in the Inside Out

Posted on February 12, 2007
Filed Under Music | 1 Comment

The KooksI just picked up a number of CDs the other day at Best Buy. It was a long overdue purchase. One of those CDs was The Kooks new disc called Inside in the Inside Out. I first head these guys on XM’s Ethel (channel 47) and was hooked immediately. Of course, I only heard one song so I was unsure of picking up the disc but the DJ on XM mentioned that these guys are huge across the pond in Britian so I figured what the heck.

I am glad I decided to snag this disc. I can see why these guys have become so popular in their homeland and I bet they will do well here in the States too. All to often you get a disc from a band where all the songs sound exactly alike. This isn’t the case withthe Kooks. Each song is unique but they still are all tied together by the overall style the Kooks exhibit. They are a band that could play any song and you’d immediately know who they were.

The other thing I really enjoy about the Kooks is their musicianship. A lot of the new indie bands are OK musicians and don’t play anything that’s too musically interesting. The Kooks, on the other hand, are very talented musicians who don’t overdo it but add just enough special stuff to really make a difference.

Definitely check out Inside in the Inside Out if you get a chance. If you like a good indie rock disc these guys won’t disappoint.

Widgets: Helping to Filter Content

Posted on February 11, 2007
Filed Under Media, Media 2.0 | 1 Comment

With all of the video widget companies launching lately my thoughts turned again to the widget and what it means to the distribution of content. Of course the widget is a new form of content distribution that will allow content to be transported easier than it ever has before but what else do widgets mean to content producers? They mean we can share the content we consume with our audiences in ways we couldn’t before, at least not in an easy way.

As most of you know, I have started including all of the posts I read and find interesting in the “Posts Worth Reading” section on the far right side of the site. Initially I did it because I thought it was fun from a technology perspective and I wanted to play with all of Google Reader’s features (oh, and Rick and Jake were doing so the peer pressure was there). I never knew if there would be much value there for all of you but I had a feeling there would.

As I started to see the stats come it confirmed the suspicians I had. You guys loved the links to all the posts I had found interesting. It makes a lot of sense since I spend a lot of time reading up on certain things and I would be able to find the most interesting posts thus saving you all a lot of sifting. This looks a lot like the major media sources who have built up trust with the communities they serve and can act as a content recommender.

Now there is a new service that allows bloggers (and others) to create personal network search widgets. Lijit, based in Colorado, is helping content producers and inidividuals share all of their content with their readers and networks. For example, I can put together a search that uses my LinkedIn contacts, Flickr photos, MySpace page, Olson’s Observations, my delicious links and anything else you can think of as the base.

The idea hinges on the fact that readers of this blog would want to search all of the other things I am consuming or producing in order to find other great stuff. Seems like a pretty good idea considering the popularity of the “Posts Worth Reading” section on this site.

I’d love to hear what you guys think of this. Do you think people that read certain people want to know what those people are reading, viewing and creating? I do and I bet you guys do too. In a world with an over abundance of content we all need trusted filters and widgets will allow our trusted filters to provide links to the best of the best in terms of content.

WordPress 2.1

Posted on February 10, 2007
Filed Under General Thoughts | Leave a Comment

WordPressI just upgraded to WordPress 2.1 today which I should have done a while ago. The new interface is fantastic and they added a couple of features I had been dying to see.

First, they added a spell check component which is going to prove to be very handy. I had been copying and pasting everything into MS Word to check my spelling before posting and that was a hassle.

Second, they added the ability to toggle between the code of the post and the wysiwyg editor. Prior to the upgrade one had to open up a pop-up window in order to work with the code.

Last, but not least, they added a number of other features that allow for quicker comment moderation, autosaving of posts (that’s huge) and file uploading along with some performance upgrades.

All in all this is a great improvement from the, gulp, 1.5 release that I was still using. Yes, I know, get with the times Olson. Well, I am with the times now and all is well.

If any of you notice anything weird with my site over the next few weeks please let me know so I can fix it. However, the WordPress installs are so easy and smooth I don’t think there will be any issues. Thanks again WordPress!

Gmail and Google Calendar: Better than Outlook

Posted on February 7, 2007
Filed Under General Thoughts, Business | 3 Comments

Gmail and Google CalendarRick put up a great post yesterday talking about his move from Outlook to Gmail + Google Calendar. After hearing about the benefits from Rick I moved myself completely out of Outlook as well and haven’t looked back. The Google Calendar + Gmail combination is very powerful and makes my day far more efficient. I still haven’t dug deeply into the GTDGmail plugin (as in Getting Things Done) for firefox that Rick mentions but I can see already that once I spend the time to better acquaint myself with it I will be even more efficient with my time.

Some tips for setting up Gmail + Google Calendar:

  1. Install the GTDGmail plugin
  2. Port your calendar entries to Google Calendar (use the export to CSV function in Outlook to create a CSV of your calendar entries which can then be uploaded right into Google Calendar)
  3. Set up filters in Gmail (One of mine automatically labels all mail coming to my FeedBurner address as FeedBurner. Another does the same for TECH cocktail.) Filters are perfect for people with lots of e-mail addresses.
  4. Set your calendar alerts (browser pop-up, SMS, e-mail are available)
  5. Download the Gmail notifier so you don’t lose incoming e-mail alerts.
  6. Download the Gmail mobile app
  7. Give Rick’s post a read for more ideas

The switch, should you choose to make it, will improve your workflow and help you better sort your tasks for the day and the best part is it’s all web based so you can get to your mail or calendar from anywhere.

American Venture TV: VC TV is Here

Posted on February 6, 2007
Filed Under VC | Leave a Comment

American Venture TVI am sure a lot of you VentureWeek fans out there have been looking for something to fill the void after I shutdown the podcast. Well, today is your lucky day! The guys at American Venture Magazine have started up a TV show simply titled American Venture TV. While the content is a little lacking at this point they shoot their video in HD and the production is top notch which makes the show a pleasure to watch. I am sure that the content quality will continue to get better over time and the show will become more useful.

For those new to video on the net there are many different ways to watch American Venture TV. Two of the best are simply watching it via the video player on their site or subscribing to the feed in your favorite podcatcher or feed reader so the latest shows come to you. Make sure to check out the show and get your VC news fix (c’mon already - VentureWeek is never coming back). Oh, and while you’re at it why not send some feedback to the guys so they can make the show better for all of us.

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