Friday, February 8, 2008

Burlington Brainstorm

Posted By on Fri, Feb 8, 2008 at 11:25 AM

Remember Ben Kaufman, the Champlain College student of Mophie fame? He's launching a new product soon called kluster, "a  web-based collaboration and decision-making platform."

Their publicist called me the other day to pitch it as something we should cover. From what I can tell, it's an application that allows people to bring their ideas to the community online, and then use  the feedback they receive to refine the idea. The publicist says the idea is based on model Kaufman used at Mophie.

They're launching this thing at an upcoming Ted conference, but before they do, they're looking for ideas to test. So they're hosting a Burlington Brainstorm this weekend in their office on College Street, above Bueno Y Sano and Stone Soup. Starts Friday at 7 p.m. until whenever, and continues Saturday starting at 5 p.m. to whenever.

They promise music, whiteboards, wii and free drinks. I'm hoping to go for a bit one of those nights. Should be interesting.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

YouTube of the Day

Posted By on Thu, Feb 7, 2008 at 8:08 AM

A couple weeks ago, I posted a video about a German TV crew that interviewed Bolton cartoonist Alison Bechdel. Well now the German video is posted on YouTube, so here it is. And Don the Jonesville postmaster makes an appearance! Yay!

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

WCAX report on iBrattleboro

Posted By on Wed, Feb 6, 2008 at 2:07 PM

Yesterday a film crew from WCAX came down to our office and interviewed me for a story about the iBrattleboro libel lawsuit.

I guess they wanted to get Peter Freyne, but he was too busy writing his column, so he referred them to me.

I know they aired the story, because some friends from Fairfield called to say they saw me on the news. I don't have a TV, though, so I didn't catch it. And I'm a Mac user, so I'm having a hard time playing the video from their site.

One quibble — WCAX misspelled my name in the script on their website, despite the fact that they had me SAY my name at the beginning of the taping. Sheesh.

Also weird — they have three pictures of our office (but none of me) on their website. Why? It's not a story about Seven Days. That just seems weird. I mean, Ryan and Andrew and Bob and Diane are all cute and fun, but really.

More about the iBrattleboro suit here

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Digital Pamphleteer

Posted By on Sun, Feb 3, 2008 at 1:50 PM

Bad News: Bill Simmon's film about local political blogger Steve Benen (of The Carpetbagger Report) was rejected by South by Southwest. Sorry, Bill!

Good News: Bill wrote a blog post about his rejection, and provided a link to his film on YouTube.

Here it is, the Goldstone-award-winning short film, Digital Pamphleteer.

For more background on Steve in print, here's an article I wrote about him in 2006, called Posting Truth to Power.

Friday, February 1, 2008

News from San Fran

Posted By on Fri, Feb 1, 2008 at 9:53 AM

Five of us from Seven Days are in San Francisco right now, at the AAN Web Publishing Conference. I'm getting lots of good ideas, and actually saw some of the city after we got here on Wednesday.

I couldn't really enjoy our tour, though — I had a ton of work to do. I wrote and sent the 7D NOW yesterday from our hotel. Then yesterday afternoon, Eva Sollberger and I did a presentation on how to do editorial web video.

But that's all done now. I had a glass of wine last night and felt like I was going to pass out.

In other news, we launched our iSpy Facebook widget yesterday. I'm psyched we finally got it up, and curious to see how that goes. Thanks to Efe Cimrin for getting us started on it — Efe actually developed a prototype, but we didn't end up using the one he made. Thanks anyway, Efe. You rock!

Now I'm going to enjoy the city for a couple hours before the next session.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

More 3.0

Posted By on Tue, Jan 29, 2008 at 3:20 PM

I just happened across a post about Vermont 3.0 from Ann Zuccardy of Vermont Shortbread. I invited Ann to the event over Facebook, and I guess she showed up! She writes:

I wasn't expecting much, yet I was blown away. Before me and besideme were folks from the gazillions of little software companies righthere in Vermont, representatives from the universities and collegesright here in Burlington, entrepreneurs, corporate types — all with onemessage. 

The message I got was this. We are in a new age. It's not enoughto be arts and literature-savvy.  It's not enough to be a math ortechnology guru. The most successful people are not the ones with thebright, shiny MBAs, but the ones who know how to figure stuff out...howto ask questions...how to envision new applications to solve oldproblems...those who are not afraid of technology, but also know how tobuild a relationship with a human being.

I agree. The people I want to work with are the ones who experiment, who ask questions, who see problems and start working on solutions. People who get art, who get technology, and aren't afraid to try new things.

I wrote a profile of Physician's Computer Company last week for the Tech Biz Issue. I didn't put this in the article, but at one point, I asked Chip Hart what PCC looks for in candidates for its entry level jobs. He told me the most important thing is that people are smart. That they can pick things up quickly and think on their feet.

I think that's what Ann's getting at, too.

Rocking Out at Vermont 3.0

Posted By on Tue, Jan 29, 2008 at 10:31 AM

I can't believe I haven't mentioned this yet, but the Vermont 3.0 Creative/Tech Career Jam on Saturday really rocked.

Even Governor Jim Douglas got into the act! Here's a picture of my most memorable moment from the day — it's a shot of the guv attempting Joan Jett's "I Love Rock and Roll" on Guitar Hero. I'm the brown-haired chick in the tomato colored sweater in the background. Thanks to Patrick Martell of the Vermont Software Developers' Alliance for the picture.

The guy standing next to Governor Douglas is Dave Contois, of Contois Music. Dave teaches kids to play guitar using Guitar Hero. He's one of the only music educators in the country who's harnessing the popularity of the game to get kids to learn instruments. Pretty amazing stuff, actually. Dan Bolles' story on him is the most popular article on our website this week — it's getting a lot of traffic from reddit.com.

Dave Contois was showing the Governor his set-up shortly after Vermont 3.0 opened, around 10 a.m. I happened to be standing there because I was introducing Dave's presentation on his teaching techniques later in the morning, and I was coming over to introduce myself.

I saw the governor talking with Dave and said, "You should try it." He shook his head and said "no, no, not me." But then Dave Contois was like, "No, you HAVE to try it. It's so EASY. I'll set it up for you. Here, you HAVE to try it." The guv couldn't refuse.

He was a good sport. He gave it a try. He hit a few notes. But ultimately, the game interrupted him to say "Song Failed." Ouch! In all fairness, that happened to me the first time I tried it, too. I wish he'd taken another crack at it, because it takes a few minutes to figure out how to work the guitar, but he was done. "That's why I didn't want to try," he said sheepishly. "I guess I'm not a guitar hero."

But you could be, Governor, you could be!

That's when Dave Contois' 7-year-old son Trevor said, "Let me show you how to do it." The kid set the game to expert and — of course — played it flawlessly.

A bunch of Vermont blogs have covered the event in one way or another. Bill Simmon was there. Julie Lerman spoke at the event and put up a few posts about it. Here's a local PR guy who was impressed with our use of social media to promote the thing. Here's a short report from Matthew Davis, the dude who drew the spaceman. Here's a more detailed report from Larry Keyes, of the vtSDA.

And a great summary from someone who wasn't involved in organizing this thing — Cairn Cross of Vermont Tiger. An excerpt:

There was one theme that emerged time and again.  Namely, sheeramazement at the number of interesting companies exhibiting and thefact that most were not well known. My job puts me in touch withoptimistic entrepreneurs and high-growth Vermont companies every day soits not news to me that there are some fascinating things going on inthe state.  Increasingly though, when I read mainstream Vermont media Ifeel like my daily experience is a parallel universe to a Vermont offailing companies and fleeing young people.

I looked in vain for an article about the Career Jam and the exhibitingcompanies in the Free Press online on Sunday morning but did not seeanything.   

That’s unfortunate … and typical.

Yup. Although honestly, I think the Free Press didn't report on it because Seven Days was so heavily involved in organizing it. I didn't see him, but I heard that their new publisher was there talking to people, and they had a table at the event, so they definitely knew about it. They actually wrote a short article about it on Friday that appeared in the back of section A. Not surprisingly, it mentioned that there would be media companies like the Burlington Free Press at the event... but did not mention Seven Days. Ha!

Here's Eva Sollberger's video wrap-up, for those who missed the event and want to see what it was like. And from the traditional media — here's a report from WCAX and a preview from VPR. There will definitely be more of these shindigs. Thanks to everyone who made it possible!

Monday, January 28, 2008

Vegas Vacation Update

Posted By on Mon, Jan 28, 2008 at 10:11 AM

Thanks to everyone who expressed concerns about my parents. Turns out they're fine.

Better than fine, actually. They were staying on the 7th floor, so none of their stuff was damaged. They got it all back. And they got to spend a free night in the nearby Bellagio, which, they tell me, is very posh.

So apart from the initial terror of seeing flames leaping from the top of their hotel, they had an ok time of it. Not sure how much money they lost gambling, though. I think I'm glad they don't tell me...


Friday, January 25, 2008

Fire at Vegas Monte Carlo!

Posted By on Fri, Jan 25, 2008 at 2:45 PM

The Monte Carlo Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas is on fire. There are flames leaping out of the top of it. Looks pretty bad. I'm watching it on my laptop in my office.

I'm posting about this because I just got a phone call from my mom, who wanted to let me know that she's ok. She and my dad, and some of my aunts and uncles are in Vegas this week, and are all staying at the Monte Carlo. They're fine, apparently. They've been evacuated from the casino, are standing nearby.

The pictures on CNN.com are pretty scary. I'm glad they're all outside. Their stuff might be toast, though.

Not surprisingly, the CNN is asking people to email and send photos or anecdotes. Citizen journalists are always useful in disasters...

Monday, January 21, 2008

AAN video presentation

Posted By on Mon, Jan 21, 2008 at 2:11 PM

Next week, I'm headed to San Francisco with three of my co-workers for the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies' web publishing conference. Eva Sollberger and I are giving a presentation on how altweeklies can integrate video into their editorial operations.

I bring this up for two reasons:

1) To excuse the fact that I've been neglecting my blog.

2) To ask for input, should you have any. What do you like or dislike about the way Seven Days does video? We're going to be citing examples of great newspaper videos that we like. Any recommendations?

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