Searching for the Moon

Shannon Clark's rambles and conversations on food, geeks, San Francisco and occasionally economics

Archive for February, 2007

NYC – art, culture, snow and light

Posted by shannonclark on February 27, 2007

This past week I have been in NYC.

Today the snow from last night’s brief snow shower/hail/freezing rain is melting, a light drizzle has been coming down all morning. My day started with breakfast at Sarabeth’s where I ate a bowl of porridge and a current scone. After breakfast I walked over to Central Park and then walked down, just outside of the park, to midtown, when at the moment I am sitting in a Starbucks, sending emails and catching up online.

In my walks this morning I took a series of photos, a few of which I am particularly proud of and plan on printing and framing on my return to San Francisco. To see some earlier shots I took this week, go to my Flickr pages.  While a few of my photos from today are relatively simple memory aids – photos of the outside of Sarabeth’s for example, or The NY Society for Ethical Culture buildings on Central Park West. most are taken as parts of my ongoing themed series.

An aside about the Ethical Culture society, though I had not previously heard of them,  they may, perhaps, be the closest thing to an organized religion I might, in fact, be interested in participating in – as they are a nontheist organization, but devoted to treating everyone ethically and doing good in the world – tenets that definitely resonate with my worldview, though they do not seem to have a San Francisco chapter.

My shots from this morning’s walk were of reflections, found objects, and in a few cases playing with perspective and perception. I do think of my photography in an almost painterly manner – I strive to make photos that explore colors, textures and patterns – while being often recognizable – yet almost always abstract as well. My task now is to find the best possible print technique for these digital impages.

And I will have to see how the tradeoff of not using a digital SLR and not shooting in RAW format plays out. My camera is very high quality and over 7 mega-pixels so it should be good for printing. My plans are also not to do any digital manipulation of the photos – no further cropping or processing. Yes, I am sure I could get crisper or even more tonally accurate images were I to have them processed in some manner – but somehow I also feel that might sap the life from the images.

For years I did not have a digital camera – not entirely sure why not – some combination of price, battery performance and image quality – but I am extremely happy with my new Panasonic Lumix camera. By being high quality, very portable & lightweight, and by having a battery life that lasts for 100’s of photos over multiple days, I now have a camera that I can always have in my bag or coat pocket and take spur-of-the-moment photos. It has taken me a few months to get used to this possibility – and every day I remember that I have the camera I find myself using it more and more.

As I spend most of the day working on business projects – upcoming events, sponsorships for MeshForum, FAQ’s and other materials for my newest company, I do also find myself thinking back on my morning photography – the balance between my tech & artistic impulses is a challenging one but also one worth exploring. When I give myself time and mental space for both pursuits – I do also find both are better (if that makes sense).

Lots more happened (and I suspect will happen) on this trip before I return to San Francisco. When I post the photos I’ll add links – either as new posts or as an edit of this post.

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Posted in digital bedouin, NYC, photos | Leave a Comment »

What I speak about…

Posted by shannonclark on February 22, 2007

Yesterday I recieved a note about the Supernova & TechCrunch collaboration for Supernova 2007. At lunch I was talking with my friend Sanford Dickert and our conversation turned to clustering.

Later as I walked around the streets of NYC, stretching, observing, shooting a few photos, and thinking I realized that there are a number of “talks” which I have been assembling over the past seven+ years. Informally and only occasionally have I presented these thoughts at various events, in long blog posts, as contributions to discussions on numerous email mailing lists (some public, most private) and in countless private conversations and email exchanges.

Here I am going to list the main topics on which I am available to speak, both as an exercise for myself and in the hope that in 2007 I will have more opportunities to speak on these topics. In addition to speaking in a formal manner, I also do (and even to a degree prefer) to facilitate discussions.

Topics:

1. Economics AS Networks. A topic I have in the past described as Flow Economics, and the subject of the book I would like to write (and am trying to sell now). My theory is that Economics can be represented as the study of the creation and destruction of links over time. From this simple basis all aspects of economic activity can be modeled and analyzed. In application this theory suggests ways for individuals, corporations and even government to better understand the world around them and the opportunities they have.

2. Automated Data extraction and clustering in 2000 I formed JigZaw Inc with the goal of building a Calendar that would update itself. To achieve that goal (which we did though never fully released – contact me if you would like to license the relevant IP) I spent multiple years researching methods of chunking and extracting data. Much of this research included techniques for clustering. My focus was on automated heuristics approaches.

3. Calendaring as we build Balanceware, the first product of JigZaw Inc, I joined the IETF Calendaring and Scheduling Working Group and was even briefly one of the editors of the iCalendar standard document. I have spent many years thinking about Calendaring (and to a lesser degree scheduling). My new venture, NELA.mobi, which stands for Never Eat Lunch Alone incorporates elements of my research into scheduling.

4. Networking when I formed MeshForum in 2004 it was with the goal of exploring all aspects of what Networks are. I have always been highly “networked”, having been the event chair for Ryze.com in Chicago for many years and before that I was active in many Chicago area tech groups. But my interest includes much more – Social Networks, Social Network Analysis, the Visualization of Networks, applications of Network Theory & Studies to many diverse disciplines, and my own applicaiton of Networks to Economics (see above).

5. Web 2.0 or Data-centric development. While definitions and debates rage about what is “Web 2.0” my view is that at the root Web 2.0 is the result of a new model and way of thinking about software. In place of earlier models, Web 2.0 applications are data-centric, with chunks of data as the core elements. These “chunks” are syndicated across the net, shared, remixed, reused and modified, visualized and interacted with in a wide array of ways. For users and developers this new model offers many advantages and requires a change in how we think about what is possible. (for example, this blog started on an entirely different domain and I migrated it to wordpress, in various posts I incorporate content from youtube, flickr and occasionally other sites, the tags I apply here create links and search capabilities in numerous other sites)

6. Being a Digital Beduin. A term I heard many years ago and which I think very accurately represents my work and personal lifestyle. I live in cafes, can almost literally work anywhere with a wifi connection and power (and when I finally break down and get my EVDO card even the wifi will be optional). More than the tech I use however, this is a lifestyle of being mobile yet deeply connected, of being flexible and adaptable, of getting out of the office (and the home) and seeing the world – all while remaining focused on clients and your business.

Posted in digital bedouin, economics, Entrepreneurship, geeks, internet, meshforum, networks, venture capital, web2.0, working | Leave a Comment »

Found Objects – my Flickr set

Posted by shannonclark on February 22, 2007

I have uploaded a number of photos from my current trip to NYC as well as added some of my older photos to Flickr and put together a set of my Found Objects series which I have been taking for many years now.

Comments and feedback are very welcome as are suggestions for how to best print and get framed these shots. Eventually I would also like to show these somewhere, probably along with my Textures series which are quite related images.

Snow Bottle

Posted in digital bedouin, mobile, photos | 1 Comment »

Travel plans and keep March 20th open

Posted by shannonclark on February 17, 2007

I will be in NYC next week – flying out Monday night and returning to SF Tuesday Feb 27th.

On Tuesday, Feb 20th I will attend the Social Media Club NYC event organized by my good friend Howard Greenstein. Wednesday morning I will probably attend the Leadership Forum on Web Video.

While I am in NYC I would like to meet up many people – I may be organizing a small Pho lunch (yes, related to the Pho List though anyone will be welcome). If you are interested, leave a comment here or contact me directly via 1.800.454.4929 or my email shannon.clark AT gmail.com).

No details yet – but keep March 20th open if you are in SF or can get here. I’m organizing a one day event on the 20th and trust me, it will be worth attending – with designers, telecommunications firms, new media, and new tech firms participating. Details will follow very, very soon. (see the tags for this post for a few hints as to the topics…)

Posted in digital bedouin, Entrepreneurship, geeks, internet, meshforum, mobile, networks, podcasts, web2.0 | Leave a Comment »

My coffee valentine

Posted by shannonclark on February 16, 2007



My coffee valentine, originally uploaded by Shannon Clark.

Last night, as commuters returned home, flowers in hand, to their Valentines, I made my way against the flow of people to Ritual Coffee Roasters. There, I was far from alone, though admittedly there were more men with open laptops late on Valentines Day evening there than women.

A very tasty Valentine – though somehow any Valentine which you buy for yourself does not taste as sweet as a gift.

Posted in geeks | Leave a Comment »

The bogs of war

Posted by shannonclark on February 15, 2007

A phrase that I thought of this afternoon. I think it is a general phrase – not specific to any war past or present – but something truthful about the nature of wars.

Okay, going to keep this short – remember the phrase – feel free to use it – though credit if you do is, of course, welcome.

Posted in politics | Leave a Comment »

On not celebrating a holiday – Valentines Day edition

Posted by shannonclark on February 14, 2007

Every year, for most of my life, mid-February has been one of my very low points in each year. In Chicago, the entire month was typically a grey one with little sunlight, cloudy skys, and often streets full of that distinctly Chicago grey mush that old snow becomes rather quickly. I recall entire months of February without seeing the sun, and I would spend most of the month indoors.

In college for one brief year I had a serious girlfriend, Valentines Day was a new experience that year, but also in my memory now, a bit of a signal of what was yet to come in that relationship (which would end just a few months later). Instead of going someplace great, having left the reservations to the last minute (you have to realize it was my first time making a Valentine’s Day dinner reservation – I didn’t realize that even then in the early 90’s it was one of the biggest nights to eat out) we ended up at one of the then two Fondue restaurants in Chicago – and not at the better of the two.

It was not a memorable meal – well memorable only in that it was not particularly good. We then wandered the city a bit, most memorably running into a high school friend of mine when we briefly stopped into an adult store (also a fairly unique experience for me one which however gives rise to greater assumptions about physical intimacy that were, in fact, present in that relationship).

After that year, in the mid-90’s, I did not have a Valentine’s Day date for nearly 10 years. Pathetic, I know, but that’s my dating past. In 2003 I was single, but in 2004, 2005 and 2006 I was dating the same wonderful woman and though we didn’t make a huge deal out of Valentine’s Day, neither did we ignore it. Having someone to share the day with, for whom to buy flowers, to take out, to spend the night with, it was and would be a wonderful thing.

This year unless something shocking and surprising happens, I will spend the evening alone, perhaps dining out, though unlikely anyplace very good (which mostly have special menues and reservations required). If I am smart, perhaps I should spend the evening hanging out in good cafes – anyone else who is there alone on Valentine’s Day night is most likely also single – it could be a good and simple filter. I’m sure there are events tonight for singles – though I don’t know of any at the moment.

I am in a wierd position in my life – though one that is all too familiar. I prefer myself when I am in a relationship, but as a percentage of my life that is only barely more than 10% of my life (yup, I’m math geek among other things). Later this month, perhaps even as soon as next week, the first of my new companies will be ready to open for business – when that happens I will working very hard – spreading the word, demoing the system, selling sponsorships, advertising and lining up partners. Very rapidly I will also be seeking funding for another company, organizing the first of a series of events I will be running this year, and I hope finding time to work on my much delayed book proposal.

On some level that does not leave a lot of time for the details of life (laundry, cleaning, eating and sleeping) let alone meeting a great woman and dating. But it is also quite true that you make time for what is important – even in the midst of all the business aspects of my life, there is still time and room for someone – and my life would be richer for it.

But where and how will I meet her? (who ever she is) That is the mystery for me.

Until I solve that mystery, chalk Valentine’s Day up as yet another holiday I’m not celebrating. I may send a few friends an electronic card later today – to say hi and thank them for their friendships but for this year that’s the extent of it.

Many many years ago I took one of those personality tests – one part of which was supposed to tell you if you were an introver or an extrovert. Every time I have taken that test over the years I have fallen almost precisely as “neither” – making my personality rather rare.

In theory introverts get their energy internally and find large, social gatherings stressful and draining. Extroverts get their energy from others and typically find social gatherings invigorating. That’s a bit of a simplication but I think fairly accurate.

My complication is that I have two very distinct modes. In the one, I am highly withdrawn, even a bit “hermitlike” and I prefer in those times to be alone. When in these moods the idea of a crowd is draining and I avoid large social gatherings, especially in environments such as bars, nightclubs or parties. However as many people who attend events which I organize can attest to, I have a very different mode as well – where being in a crowd does not drain me but instead invigorates me, a mode when I am engaged with the people around me – introducing them to each other and nearly fearless in my ability to engage and talk with others.

It is a puzzle for me – I am a networker, as a friend said of me years and years before I started MeshForum, I am a “nexus” – someone who brings people together. But in many conditions I withdraw from the crowd – alone even when in the crowd I find myself observing others but not engaging. This more typically happens to me in more purely “social” situations than in business ones.

So I do not know if I am an extrovert or an introvert or something else. At times engaging with a crowd feels like diving into the deep end, or taking that first walk off the beach into the ocean – once you have submerged yourself all is well – but until you do you shiver and quiver. For years I would not dance at all, then I finally dived in an enjoyed it – though it has now been many years so I need to resubmerge myself.

But while I would, I think, like to go dancing with the right woman, I don’t think I’m likely to meet a woman (let alone the “right” woman) in a nightclub – and definitely not in a bar (since I only ever have a single drink in an evening, bars aren’t much my scene). A cafe is much more likely – but somehow I’ve always found them mostly hard places to meet people – perhaps it is the laptops or piles of books, or the oft present ipod earbuds, but I rarely these days find myself drawn into conversations with others in cafes.

In Chicago some of my fondest memories, however, are of friendships formed in cafes. The best cafes – my personal rule of thumb states – are those with large tables. The larger the better – these, if they are sufficiently busy, lend themselves to sharing tables with strangers and the conversations that thus arise. The very best cafes also have a cadre of regulars who are there frequently – who know each other and all the employees and whom, over time, you get to know as well.

Here in San Francisco I am sure there such cafes and such friendships – and though I am regular at a number of cafes around town, my interactions with others in those cafes are mostly with people I already know from other venues – not whom I have met in those cafes. In part this is because I am getting older – in my 30’s and cafes are more typically the domains of students. Though given my variety of interests and the somewhat academic flavor of many of them, I likely “pass” as a student often (a reporter in Chicago wrote a story mentioning talking with me in a Starbucks there where he found me reading a PhD thesis I was reading as part of my research into software I was building at the time – he commented that there weren’t many other people he knew who would be found reading PhD theses. For that piece of technology I eventually read over 100 research papers, at least the one PhD thesis and a few master’s theses, as well as a number of books. )

So if you see me later tonight, sitting alone (most likely) at a local cafe, don’t hesitate to say hi. And if, as is most likely if you are reading this, you know me – yes, I’m currently single, hetrosexual, and welcome being set up.

For most of you for whom today is a chance to celebrate with your love (or as in many friend’s cases – loves) enjoy the day & night and be safe.

Posted in digital bedouin, geeks | Leave a Comment »

Women, conferences, and the importance of voice

Posted by shannonclark on February 13, 2007

My good friend Mary Hodder has a important post today on her blog Napsterization about a discussion on women speakers at tech conferences.

Speaking as a man who organizes conferences (and who is proud that many of my keynotes and quite a few of my speakers have been women) this is one important point.

Speakers get a lot of prestige – but they are also very vitally given a voice and encouragement that their point of view, their expertise and their experiences are worthy of a larger platform and stage.

Especially today when even speaking at “small” conference can have a huge impact (via blogs, online podcasts/videocasts, etc) this voice is very important.

But the impact is more than just external – it is also very much internal. Whether you are on a panel or giving a keynote speech – you, as a speaker, are being given a lot of feedback that you are worth paying attention to – and that you are at least a peer of those on the panel with you, with the others who have been invited to speak (and/or attend) at the conference.

Yes, I’m a man, grew up with male (and female) positive role models – but the mere act of being invited to speak, or even being invited to an “invite only” conference is a powerful one – it gives me confidence that my ideas, my voice is worthwhile.

I learned programming in no small part from my mom, who has been programming since the 1960’s. My grandmother had a highly successful career as a real estate developer and manager of properties she owned in LA. I grew up in a home with very strong women role models, it has shaped my views on women (may have also made it harder for me to get a date but that’s a different though perhaps related question).

I think that more people in general – and especially many many more women and minorities need to be encouraged that they can and should have an impact in the technology and new media worlds – and from those worlds on the larger world of business (and the world writ large). Technology perhaps more so than any other field should be a neutral ground – one where it is the quality of your mind and your ideas – and as technology becomes ever more crucially about social interactions around and using that tech, it should be an area where skin color, ethnicity, gender, class, or culture should only be assets for you – and not liabilities. Where you should only be limited by your imagination – and your ability to spread and share your vision with others.

Online there are 100’s, indeed likely 1000’s of people whom I interact with and get to know long before knowing anything personal about them – often not even knowing where they are, let alone their age, gender, sexual preference, skin color, class etc.

But, as many people have noted, all business is personal. And personal prejudices and assumptions do come strongly into play as we interact with each other.

In part this is why Mary’s point is so important – when we – both women and men see women in leadership roles, as speakers given a voice and platform at industry events we often experience the intersection of diverging assumptions and prejudices. i.e. “few women are leaders in the tech world” vs. “the speakers are some of the leaders and important voices in the tech world”.

And this shaking up of assumptions and preconceptions is important – not just for young women but also for men and women of all ages.

At Gnomedex last year I was passionate, perhaps too passionate, in my opposition to a comment and a discussion that said something like “it is only the youth who get the Internet and we old folks can never understand them” – writing off both anyone old and our abilities to see the world from many perspectives and views. I feel very strongly that what is so vital and important about the Net is the ability it has to help break down barriers and preconceptions – you can interact with people, admittedly via a machine and limitations of those machines – but without the limitations that our prejudices give us.

My grandmother, in her late 80’s, is online as much, perhaps even more at times, than I. She goes online to play bridge. Her partners (she plays on one of the many free online games sites) do not need to know where she lives or how old she is, rather over time they merely learn how good she is (and in the case of bridge what bidding systems she uses).

I have my own set(s) of prejudices – different I suspect than many of my peers – but present none the less. Some are political, some are religous, some are about how people live – but as I am aware of them I also try to challenge them, to give myself (and especially others) a chance to see beyond these assumptions and prejudices.

A silly one perhaps (but not unrelated to my point above about not getting dates) was (perhaps still is) that for what ever reason – and against all cultural cues – I’ve never been very attracted to blondes (whether natural or dyed). Somehow I make an assumption in my head – a foolish one indeed – that “blondes” do indeed tend not to be very smart, tend to be shallow, and thus tend to be less interesting to me. Foolish not just because my last love was herself dyed blonde when we met, but because I am making a snap, prejudgement about people based one admittedly highly changeable aspect of their appearance.

We all make these snap judgements – from photos, from clothing, from smells, from written language and verbal interactions. But in business (and in our personal lives) we also have to step back from these prejudices and learn when to question them – learn to give others (and indeed ourselves) a chance to prove them wrong.

I am not always very aware of my impression on others – occasionally, but often I care very little (usually to my detriment) but I very much assume that people paint me into a box. For most of my life this has not been a particularly popular box to be in – I freely (and gladly) admit to being a geek and a “nerd” – but even there my various facets, interests and sides may often go unnoticed by those who make a snap judgement of me (much as I probably miss a lot in others when I do likewise).

Yes, in high school I was the captain of the chess team (3+ years in row in fact), and yes, I took a lot of honors math and sciences. So I fit into the “math & science sf fan geek computer loving nerd category” with more than a bit of ease. But at the same time I also took French, a lot of philosophy, honors English and history classes, and was an editor of the school literary magazine.

Moving forward nearly two decades (I graduated high school in 1991 – albeit at the age of 16) I still am faced with this dichotomy of aspects of myself – and of the people I find myself knowing. I find it all to easy to think of different “worlds” of people I know – one world of the “tech folks” (certainly larger here in the bay area than it was in Chicago) perhaps epitomized by industry events and parties such as one I attended last week where a bunch of people – mostly men – played Wii boxing against each other at a friend’s startup’s offices using a projector so we could all watch, another world of people I know through business, others through science fiction fandom, others through shared interests in writing, etc.

In my own mind and in how I project myself outward I do see myself shifting in different contexts – or more often than not retreating into myself, hiding behind iPod ear buds or a magazine when I’m out in public, behind the armor of my Crumpler laptop bag.

I started a blog comment a few weeks back, which I never posted, to a post by Mark Cuban arguing against the Suit as a business requirement. My point, which I think is very relevant to this ramble, was that clothing does indeed shape other’s impressions of us (and for many people that is what they focus on – how the clothing will be seen – what other’s will assume about you from it) but equally – and I think even more importantly, clothing shapes our own perceptions about ourselves.

When I am in scruffy clothes, in the generic uniform of a tech geek/nerd (tech conference t-shirt, jeans, laptop messenger bag) it takes much more effort to project forth my other sides – to project forth the confidence in my business acumon, my artistic/design interests, my potential attractiveness to others (in my case of the opposite sex – though any attention is flattering and too rare). However when I am wearing clothes that fit, that are comfortable, that are not just thrown on – perhaps a custom suit made for me in India, or one of a handful of designer shirts I own, heck even as “simple” an act as wearing socks which I didn’t buy from the bargain section of Ross but instead paid a bit more for ones that don’t tend to have holes in them on the third wearing – I am that much more able to project forth my confidence in myself, in my ideas, in the interest others will have in my views.

We all build ourselves from the feedback of others. After I have talked with people who then give me positive feedback I am that much more able to talk with others about what I am thinking, about what my views about the future are.

When as I conference organizer I give someone a chance to speak, yes I am giving them a platform, but I am also vitally asking them to take their voice seriously – to have confidence in themselves and that people will want to hear from them – to respect and react to their views.

We should all strive to find ways to give more people this voice – to listen to others and in turn to be listened to by others. Perhaps then, we will listen to ourselves as well.

Posted in Entrepreneurship, geeks, internet, meshforum, networks, venture capital, web2.0, working | 1 Comment »

Blogs, websites, web presense/identity, and other modern marvels

Posted by shannonclark on February 12, 2007

My first computer, one that was at home which I could really use, was an Osborne. Even earlier than that I learned to program in basic on a TRS 80 (“trash 80”) and on Commodore 64’s. We didn’t have a TV growing up, so never had an Atari (perhaps one reason I’ve never been a huge computer or console game player).

In high school I took my first serious programming class, sophomore year, it was a yearlong, AP course where we learned Pascal and FORTRAN, our programming environment was a lab of terminals to a PDP-11 – which though on one end of the school also was connected via wires running the length of the school to the library where the same miniframe ran the computer card catalogue. The school also had some PC’s, mostly used for teaching typing (though I may have been one of the last people to learn typing on a mixture of typewriters and computers – in a short but very useful summer school class). Yes, I was more than a bit of a geek in high school – did I mention I was the captain of the chess team for over 3 years running, on the math and science competitive teams, and not just a member of the school science fiction and fantasy club – but founded a SF convention held annually at the school (which is still happening decades later – making it one of the longer running SF conventions around in fact).

In college my computer was a NeXT cube – purchased after learning Mathematica while working as a summer intern (doing some FORTRAN programming in fact among other things) at Argonne National Labs in the physics department. Among other jobs there I also disassembled a particle accelerator (something I have since usually managed to keep on my resume – as a fact about myself to spark questions and conversation) and I helped with one small accelerator run (on a bigger accelerator than I disassembled).

Besides my NeXT in college I also used the campus unix systems – my first “web” page I visited was at CERN, which I arrived at from gopher space (remember Archie and Veronica searches?). Yes, I’m “old school” Internet/tech geek.

I bring all of this up as I am in the midst of launching a new company (more on that, obviously, when we are ready to discuss it), looking at getting funding for a second related company, and doing a lot of thinking about my own web presence, identity, and that of many friends of mine.

At the moment I have too many web presences – multiple emails, multiple blogs (some like this one having been around since 2002), various domains – some for businesses of mine, some for non-profits, some for projects I want to do but haven’t gotten around to yet. It is not just the websites – there are also various servers, hosting agreements, dns registrars, ISP’s, wifi access providers and much more. All in all I have too many divergent business and personal relationships online (some which I have probably let lie fallow for too long).

Earlier this week a very close friend asked me for my help in setting her up with a website. She has the first step – a domain and a year long hosting agreement with an inexpensive but decent web host. She doesn’t need anything really fancy – just a professional presense on the web as she launches her private practice (she is in a medical field). She plans on finishing a book in the future, her website would eventually also support her book and serve as a point of contact for the very likely press interest in her work (it touches on a number of issues that many people, including various members of the press I think will find fascinating).

As we talked I commented “I’m not good at the getting a site set up stuff” – and in many ways this quite true. In part that is the case because it is no longer really a technology question. Mostly that is “solved” by the blogging software package (such as wordpress which I’m using here) as well as the control panel used by a given web host. Rather the complications come in getting the graphics and text to look and flow – while also encouraging the behaviors that change a basic, mostly valueless web presense into one that adds value to the person responsible for it.

Other than this blog which I update semi-regularly and the MeshForum website which though now in need of an update has at times been fairly widely read – most of my other presenses on the web are not adding a lot of value to myself (and indeed this blog does not by any means pay for my coffee’s – but it does serve a valued role for me and people do read and mention it to me from time to time – though more comments/emails/calls are always welcome).

So along with helping my friend with her site, I also need to seriously work on my own web presences – clean them up, make sure they are all pointing to the right places (and hosted by reliable hosting firms). In a few (very few I hope) days I will be launching the first of what is likely to be two new companies I launch this year.

This week we took a fairly big step of having a live website – for we are not going with a basic (or even advanced web host) rather we have taken servers we already owned and ran and have installed our website on them. Designed not to be a “simple” corporate website or even a demonstration – but designed to be a scaleable, dynamic, web application – accessed by a wide variety of devices and browsers – and scalable – at least by design – to handle potential high volume of links/registrations/usage

Over the next few days I will be refining the web presence for this new firm – adding everything from our corporate blog to initial FAQ’s and documentation. I may also start working on a mock-up of the second company. In both cases hampered only slightly by my lack of skill at design – but thanks to modern interfaces and tools (such as this editor from wordpress.com) I should be able to capture a lot of information and get it updated and available on the website in a very short period.

As I work on the logo for this venture, I am also thinking about how I will be presenting myself to the world – how I will be defining my digital identity (and “offline” what my business card/s will say about me). The problem is that I have too many presences – and as I have learned in the past year having had literally 8 different, valid mailing addresses where at least some mail – especially important mail – would and has been sent. These are “snail” mail addresses – a combination of the places where I have lived, and where I have had business mailing addresses (in just the past year). I suspect that even with the best efforts on my part – there is not a single, fully accurate profile of me anywhere on the web.

Not even in my own personal bios – not that they lie or exagerate – but rather that almost literally by the time they are posted online (and I’m usually the person doing that) something else has changed about my plans. It is, in part at least, the life of an entrepeneur – as challenges arise you address them (keeping in mind that not addressing them or passing the buck to an employee or partner is one way of dealing with them, not always the best but sometimes delegation or saying No is important). My profile(s) on sites such as LinkedIn are in particular prone to these problems – they never fully capture my network, nor does any similar social network, not even ones based on my emails (for one I use a lot of different email streams – for another some of my most crucial conversations cccur outside of email – both via IM/Skype, or even *gasp* in person.

So it is a dilemna how to keep my presence, my identity, the face that I show the world (or the faces) how to keep them accurate, useful and relevant – of course while also getting other jobs done.

But we are living in a really amazing time – on and off line. What we can do trivially today was quite literally only fiction just a few years ago and I recall conversations about how hard it might be to, for example, justify 1 TB of storage (and the costs associated with it). I now have about that sitting here on my desk – and I now assume that my personal machines will have over 1TB of storage in the very near future. Similarly, I know that I can deploy a new blog, a new instance of CRM software (SugarCRM probably) or other complex web apps in a matter of a few minutes – just click the right link on most webhosts and they are installed and ready to go. Of course selecting a template and adding content is the more difficult matter.

Much to think about – now back to updating my sites and presences…

Posted in digital bedouin, geeks, internet, mobile, networks, web2.0, working | Leave a Comment »

On simplicity – Google Reader vs. Bloglines

Posted by shannonclark on February 10, 2007

I have been a Bloglines user for a long time – multiple years I think – and though there have been features I have never once been able to get to work (the suggested blogs for example) in general I have greatly enjoyed using Bloglines over the years – far more so than any offline blog reader.

Today, however, I decided to take a long overdue step. For the past few months my blog reading has slowed to a crawl, in no small part because of the 1000’s of unread blog posts and vast number of “marked unread” ones I had but have never gone back over to harvest/cull/reread.

So I have switched to Google Reader where I deleted my previous 250+ subscriptions, imported my then current Bloglines OPML file, and from that rapidly winnowed my subscriptions down to ~ 50 feeds. I anticipate that I will slowly add more feeds back, but very cautiously – my criteria now will be only those feeds which I actually will keep reading and referring back to – the blogs (often by friends) which I can to stay closely on top of and aware of.

This is also part of my switching more and more to my new iMac, earlier today I also finally got around to installing Skype for OS X so I can have Skype running (I will have to install a Trillian equivalent soon to also have the rest of my IM clients active here as well). I may also soon order my planned second monitor – which was always part of my plans for this system – to have a full nearly 48″ of screen space to work with – where I could finally have lots of apps running and where I would be able to easily work on multiple projects at the same time, without having to switch between tabs or layer the apps even when I really need to refer to data in multiple places.

In addition to the monitor, I will have a bunch of other applications to buy and install. I have Parallels which I plan on installing with a licence of Microsoft Vista (even though I do understand that some of the features may not work fully) – inside of that will be where I may test out the new versions of Office 2007 and Groove. [full disclosure – I attended a launch event at which Microsoft gave all attendees a free license to Office 2007 and Groove and a free/but not supported license to the gold release of Windows Vista – it is those versions I’ll be installing on this machine]

But the joy of having only 50 feeds, accessible in a reader that just works – smoothly, quickly and nicely is very real and great.

And it is from the appreciation of such small bits of good design that productivity springs.

In other news – it was one such feed which led to me resubscribing to the Web Worker Daily blog where I left a long comment on a blog post about a no cash registers cafe

Posted in digital bedouin, geeks, mac, reading, web2.0, working | Leave a Comment »