Odds and ends

A few bits of news and views:

* Yesterday I was invited to speak at next week’s Folio conference to fill-in for a speaker who – I’m assuming – had to drop out. It’s not an exaggeration to say I feel honored to be a part of this event, especially considering the caliber of the speakers. I will be giving a talk called “Training Non-Digital Staff” as part of the Folio: Digital track. Every day seems to provide a new lesson for me in how to do this, so I think I’ll have plenty to say.

* The promoter’s ordinance is hitting the news again. See my post on the TOC blog for details. There are also some great posts there about David Foster Wallace, SNL’s Sarah Palin/Hillary Clinton sketch, the Bears and other city goings-on.

* What the hell is Facebook thinking? It makes sense to not allow users to create accounts solely for applications. Their service – and user base – obviously thrives because it is a reflection of the real-world relationships that people have. But guess what? People in the real world have solid relationships with people they’ve never met. Up until last month, I’d never met the people I work with day-in and day-out in New York. Those relationships were forged thanks to the Internet. I have many other relationships in my work and personal life that are largely maintained via the Internet. This customer service response makes Facebook sound like people who talk about online dating sites as if they are nothing more than a haven for crazies and freaks. It’s not reflective of…well, the real world.

* Last night I went to the social gathering for the Chicago New Media Summit. As I wrote last week, I think the way they went about organizing and creating this event was flawed, but I still wanted to support what they were doing. So I payed my $20 at the door – I never did feel right about handing over my credit card info to Google Checkout’s terms of service – and went on it.

For me, the gathering was both fun and rewarding. First: Open bar and several good noshes (I’ve never had jumbo soft pretzels at at an event like this and hope to again one day). Second: I had at least three conversations that will turn into working relationships that will either further the goals I have for myself or TOC‘s site. And I met a bunch of other really solid people. You can’t ask for more from a networking event than that.

But I talked to several people there who were disappointed with the CNMS for varied reasons. Some felt the talks during the day were too basic. I think this is because the CNMS is trying to speak to many different segments of the local tech and media communities, from biz types who have a solid business model but need some education about social media to social media gurus who want to find out about new technologies or learn best practices from the people at the top of the field. There’s still a need for an event like this to bring varied people together, but the education portion of the day needs to be tracked. Perhaps as the event grows – and they impose fewer restrictions on their speakers – they’ll be able to get more presenters to make this possible.

Others also expressed dissatisfaction with the top-down nature of the organization, and the difficulty in acquiring information about the event (this last point was expressed by one of the smartest “new media” guys I know, so if he’s having trouble, what hope is there for the rest of us?). I touched on these points in my previous post, so I won’t enumerate them again, but I’m clearly not a lone dissenting voice in the wilderness. Nor are any of us against the idea of the CNMS, we just take issue with the execution. (No posts on your blog since August 2nd?)

Today is the 2nd day of the event. If the CNMS wants to continue as a going concern, it’s going to have to be a lot more grass roots-focused. They’ve showed they have the connections to get the money and sponsors, which is admirable and shouldn’t be discounted. But they need more butts in the seats (last night’s 1000 capacity social event topped out at about 200 by my count) and the best way to do that is to reach out to the folks that run blogs here in the city (I’d be happy to give them the list). Chicago supports its own, as long as you treat them as contributors and not revenue streams.

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