5 links and 22 songs

A few things to check out…and then some tunes, of course. Because I’m overdue.

Elevate Web Design at the University Level (A List Apart)

Generations Online in 2009 (Pew Internet Project)

Sponty – Be Hangoutable (Sponty)

Friday Heh (Dave Coustan)

Don’t be a pain…. (Karlyn Morissette)

As for the music, it’s been a few weeks since I posted on here, but I couldn’t resist. As a result, you get 22 songs this week. It’s a wide range of things from indie fare to a hip-hop mashup of Nat King Cole and The Roots for an upcoming album that Natalie Cole was Executive Producer on (meaning I guess it’s okay with her that they’re doing it…) and a variety of new tracks from The Heartless Bastard, P.O.S. and Fiction Family, a supergroup combining Nickel Creek guitarist Sean Watkins and Switchfoot lead singer Jon Foreman. Ben Kweller released a country-influence album and there’s a track here from that surprisingly good album.

Here’s a link if you can’t see the applet below in your RSS feed (to listen to the tunes) and have a good weekend!

Le Tigre – Deceptacon
Cococnut Record – Nighttiming
Great Northern – Home
The Maine – The Way We Talk
Army Navy – Saints
Nat King Cole (f/ The Roots) – Walkin’ My Baby Back Home
Outasight – Good Evening (Dream Big)
Castanets –  The Night Is When You Can Not See
Dolorean – Beachcomber Blues
School of Seven Bells – Face To Face on High Places
Glenn Jones – Little Dog’s Day
The Ponys – Turn The Lights Out
LCD Soundsystem – Watch The Tapes
The Mojomatics – Miss Me When I’m Gone
Illa J – We Here
Heartless Bastards – Nothing Seems The Same
Ben Kweller – Fight
Fiction Family – Please Don’t Call It Love
REM – Nightswimming
Mineral – Love Letter Type Writer
The Phantom Band – Throwing Bones
P.O.S. – Drumroll (We’re All Thirsty)
Kate Nash – Merry Happy

2.13.08

Finding a partner in hustle

Since this blog is supposedly also about entrepreneurship, let’s talk about something that’s been on my mind for years now.

The myth of the partner.

The person who you meet, who is fired up about an idea and is the technical hacker brain behind something you’re building, while you’re the guy coming up with everything else. Now that’s a really bad explanation of it, but…if you have sales/marketing/development as the three things you’re splitting up, really you just want someone you can lean on to bang something out and then you can start hawking it and improving it as you go.

I’ve just always wanted a hacker who I could work with and who was just as insane as I was — or more — to help build something from scratch. I mean, without my talents applied to it, their product won’t really mean anything, but I can give life to something useful and I have the ideas and the vision to inspire someone to create something awesome.

But finding said people? Just ain’t easy.

I’m fine with giving up equity. I’ve got lots of contacts and a really strong team of folks already.

All of the people I have now are professionals. They get paid for work they do or their skills aren’t useful for what I need. As they should, to be honest. Everyone one of us is working on our “own thing” outside the group and so, I’m trying to rapidly move development further, because we’re at a place now where we just need something to get us into the race.

I don’t want something for nothing, but I do want to get to “something” faster than bootstrapping alone allows and as a result, it leads me to end up in this infinite loop where I’m literally trying to build something ‘faster’ to get the cash to do something ‘better’ or ‘better suited’ to my skills and those of the folks I’ve got.

I’ve got a good working plan of what we’re building here and I’ve worked through A LOT of barriers since I started doing all of this 5 years ago, but…now I find myself sorta in the same place I always am and now I’m just at something of a loss to know precisely how to get to Point G.

A week without tweet (and Facebook too…)

I decided yesterday that it would be advisable for me to take a week off from Twitter and Facebook. So that’s what I’m doing. No tweets, no changing anything on Facebook. I’ve turned off all email notifications from Facebook in advance, so no snarky notices of “XYZ added a comment on a thing you posted eight years ago” will be able to break me from my week-long networking site vaca.

I’ll still be bookmarking like mad in Delicious, but with a redesign preparing to be hatched in a few days and some stealth projects going on, I figure that it might be a good thing to start to keep the productivity train going.

I wasn’t going to post this at all, but it was a check to myself to make sure I actually stuck to it.

Twitter is just like high school

You’ve got your bullies. Divas. A whole “in” crowd of people who talk to each other, but don’t actually listen to what’s going on around them. Sorry folks, but once around the high school block is enough for me.

I think that’s my biggest criticism of the Twitter phenomenon. It’s like this elaborate Ponzi scheme built around the fraudulent notion that if you say something “interesting” that people will “tweet” back and thus, you add followers who will project your sage wisdom and insight to the world.  But I call B.S.

Twitter’s value to the individual correlates directly to:

1. Power of your brand: If your brand is already hot, people are already talking about you anyway. So Twitter gives you plenty of opportunities to extend that power into an entirely new venue. So it makes sense that its biggest evangelists are people who already have huge followings.

2. Your intrinsic ability to self-promote: If you can handle being annoying and don’t mind spamming people with lots of information, even if it only applies to a small few, you’ll do great at Twitter. It’s truly an exercise of sifting through lots of junk mail to find the one coupon that applies to your situation. It’s lame, but it works for a lot of people.

3. Time wasting is proxy for work: Twitterphiles say that it’s not time wasting. That it’s just part of the job. But it’s not. You legitimately take time from what you’re doing — your real job, driving, a conversation with friends — to post something on Twitter. But since it takes seconds and it’s done on the fly, it’s far easier to say that it’s not that big a deal. It’s not until you get ensnared in hour long conversations about things with people there. Also, it’s not all work. There’s  a lot of play and superfluous commentary going on.

The more derisive comments I’ve heard about Twitter usually revolve around Gen Y’s narcissism and belief that people truly care about what they’re doing all of the time. But those folks just don’t get it.

One of the things that’s great about Twitter is the feedback you can get from people at the drop of a hat. I enjoy being able to put an idea out there and test it from legions of folks of whom, you don’t know personally in many cases, but have relationships with professionally — or in my case, through this blog and little else.

But it’s not all that earthshattering, really. It’s just a different medium.

I can get the same sort of feedback and input (well, better actually) from one of the online communities I’ve been a member of for almost 10 years now. Twitter offers people who don’t have that sort of history on the web, the opportunity to cultivate conversations with people they meet in other places online.

While I’m sure there are folks who contend that organic, natural relationships and conversations generate from Twitter. Yet, I’m convinced that the time that you’d need to invest to get them would be better spent on other things. Open networking on Twitter is just a disasterous waste of time, generates noise that distracts you from the people you actually want to hear from and devalues it as a potential service.

We’re doing this social networking thing all wrong. Until we get away from what I call the “trading card friends phenomenon,” we’ll all be spinning in our office chairs and say we’re moving forward and making progress. While there are lots of different ways to make connections, the correlation between “more eyeballs” and “valuable ones” is a distinction that more social networking sites need to make.

Closed networks are influential. The real money will be delivery of a product that allows influencers to disseminate valuable information to people who want it and can cut through the noise. We’re developing too many products that don’t serve part and parcel of the general population any use at all.

Sure, it’s nice for me to have a Facebook account where my mish-mash of high school, college, military, work and camp and online friends can assemble and be easier for me to manage. But the layers and complexities are friendships could be loosely called “The Long Tail of Friendship

Just having them together for a narrow, specific purpose would get it value. When you start adding applications, games and spammers to the mix, you’re just asking for trouble.

You’d think these people would’ve learned from America Online. AOL in the mid 1990s was successful because it was the biggest dog on the block. It was a content network with the most folks, offering the most services and where people would literally assemble because they didn’t want to lose their online relationships.

Those of us who used it for very specific purposes,valued it because our existing relationships on the network were more valuable than going on the web and trying to create the same infrastructure. (But maybe it’s just the projects I was involved in at the time that make me unique.)

But the trick is, we all paid for that right.

Twitter, Facebook and their ilk are all going to die and the future will be, someone who figures out how to create something that can be monetized because it actually has value.

Novel concept, I know.

Twitter is just like high school

You’ve got your bullies. Divas. A whole “in” crowd of people who talk to each other, but don’t actually listen to what’s going on around them. Sorry folks, but once around the high school block is enough for me.

I think that’s my biggest criticism of the Twitter phenomenon. It’s like this elaborate Ponzi scheme built around the fraudulent notion that if you say something “interesting” that people will “tweet” back and thus, you add followers who will project your sage wisdom and insight to the world.  But I call B.S.

Twitter’s value to the individual correlates directly to:

1. Power of your brand: If your brand is already hot, people are already talking about you anyway. So Twitter gives you plenty of opportunities to extend that power into an entirely new venue. So it makes sense that its biggest evangelists are people who already have huge followings.

2. Your intrinsic ability to self-promote: If you can handle being annoying and don’t mind spamming people with lots of information, even if it only applies to a small few, you’ll do great at Twitter. It’s truly an exercise of sifting through lots of junk mail to find the one coupon that applies to your situation. It’s lame, but it works for a lot of people.

3. Time wasting is proxy for work: Twitterphiles say that it’s not time wasting. That it’s just part of the job. But it’s not. You legitimately take time from what you’re doing — your real job, driving, a conversation with friends — to post something on Twitter. But since it takes seconds and it’s done on the fly, it’s far easier to say that it’s not that big a deal. It’s not until you get ensnared in hour long conversations about things with people there. Also, it’s not all work. There’s a lot of play and superfluous commentary going on.

The more derisive comments I’ve heard about Twitter usually revolve around Gen Y’s narcissism and belief that people truly care about what they’re doing all of the time. But those folks just don’t get it.

One of the things that’s great about Twitter is the feedback you can get from people at the drop of a hat. I enjoy being able to put an idea out there and test it from legions of folks of whom, you don’t know personally in many cases, but have relationships with professionally — or in my case, through this blog and little else.

But it’s not all that earthshattering, really. It’s just a different medium.

I can get the same sort of feedback and input (well, better actually) from one of the online communities I’ve been a member of for almost 10 years now. Twitter offers people who don’t have that sort of history on the web, the opportunity to cultivate conversations with people they meet in other places online.

While I’m sure there are folks who contend that organic, natural relationships and conversations generate from Twitter. Yet, I’m convinced that the time that you’d need to invest to get them would be better spent on other things. Open networking on Twitter is just a disasterous waste of time, generates noise that distracts you from the people you actually want to hear from and devalues it as a potential service.

We’re doing this social networking thing all wrong. Until we get away from what I call the “trading card friends phenomenon,” we’ll all be spinning in our office chairs and say we’re moving forward and making progress. While there are lots of different ways to make connections, the correlation between “more eyeballs” and “valuable ones” is a distinction that more social networking sites need to make.

Closed networks are influential. The real money will be delivery of a product that allows influencers to disseminate valuable information to people who want it and can cut through the noise. We’re developing too many products that don’t serve part and parcel of the general population any use at all.

Sure, it’s nice for me to have a Facebook account where my mish-mash of high school, college, military, work and camp and online friends can assemble and be easier for me to manage. But the layers and complexities are friendships could be loosely called “The Long Tail of Friendship

Just having them together for a narrow, specific purpose would get it value. When you start adding applications, games and spammers to the mix, you’re just asking for trouble.

You’d think these people would’ve learned from America Online. AOL in the mid 1990s was successful because it was the biggest dog on the block. It was a content network with the most folks, offering the most services and where people would literally assemble because they didn’t want to lose their online relationships.

Those of us who used it for very specific purposes,valued it because our existing relationships on the network were more valuable than going on the web and trying to create the same infrastructure. (But maybe it’s just the projects I was involved in at the time that make me unique.)

But the trick is, we all paid for that right.

Twitter, Facebook and their ilk are all going to die and the future will be, someone who figures out how to create something that can be monetized because it actually has value.

Novel concept, I know.

P.S. I’ve already begun working on my “Why I love Twitter” post.  So cool your jets…

Writing a bio for athletic coaches

I get a lot of strange site traffic, but the most popular search query on my site is for people looking for advice on how to write a bio.

Well, I’m back on the topic again and this time, the subject is related to strategies for writing athletic coach bios. One thing you’ll notice is that no two coaches bios on college or university web sites are the same. Now part of that owes to the fact that there are simply coaches with more experience, who feel it necessary to cram as much information as necessary into their bios — feeling it will give them an edge with future recruits — and others whose biographies seem as if they went directly from the coach’s pen to the web site unedited.

This topic became more of an issue once I agreed to serve as an assistant coach for our tennis team this spring. As a web guy who just happens to play a sport, I’ve looked online a lot at athletic bios to develop an official style for our new site once it launches. I’ve noticed some common themes in most bios and it’s led me to come up with a few things I think are important to keep in mind when preparing biographies for coaches.

1. No spin zone The marketing copy needs to be on other pages of your site, but not in the coach’s biography. Sure, players are going to read to see if a coach is experienced, if he/she has sent players on to be future coaches (or at higher levels, to the pros) and what his or her experience level. But their bio simply isn’t the place to try to sell the success of your program. You have more visible pages for that, so use them.

2. Ready On Day One In my view, the most important job of the coach’s biography is to tell a player (or their parents) why this particular individual is qualified to serve in this role. You need to accentuate their experience first. Success matters, too. But it really depends on the person you’re selling. If you’ve got a coach that’s won lots of accolades, has coached winning teams to championships and sent a few players to the pros, then you’re probably awash with things to talk about and it’s unlikely you’re reading this.

But for those folks who have coaches who are relatively inexperienced or whose resumes are harder to elucidate, remember that certifications or accreditation, past experience, awards and successful playing experience are the areas that matter most here.

3. K.I.S.S. Rule Under four paragraphs. There really isn’t a reason to go longer than this and if there is, you’ll know it when you see it. For assistant coaches, no more than two sentences unless said individual is an experienced assistant or a situation (e.g. football) where you have a large cadre of coaches to account for.

There has to be a middle ground. I know some schools do an excellent job with these, but the ones I’ve seen done best aren’t at the Division 1 level domain of major college athletics. It’s actually at smaller colleges where athletics aren’t as prominently featured.

If you contain content to the more important facts about your athletic coaches, it’ll result in tighter bios that present information better, are designed more cleanly and allow people to get a quick impression of the talent your folks posses.

Does your institution have a style requirement for coaching bios?

Reading, Writing and Big Ideas is syndicated on BlogHighEd and Brazen Careerist. Subscribe to the blog via RSS or email

We only talk about the winners

I once coached a team of juniors to a championship after they went 3-13 in the regular season. We started the year 0-13, then won 3 games in the regular season and 6 more in the playoffs to capture the league title. They won.

I read a Wyoming history book published in the 1970s that said that territorial officials seeking statehood gave wild population figures to members of Congress — none of whom who had ever been to the place — probably counting all of the livestock in the figures they came up with. They won, too.

As it relates to goal-setting, sometimes the way you get there doesn’t matter, so long as you reach your destination. It might be ugly, it’s not always pretty and you can always revisit it and think of better ways you would’ve done it, had conditions been more favorable.

What usually happens, is something changes along the process to turn a losing situation in a winning one. How it happens, isn’t as important, so long as it actually happens. The subject title is misleading, because we do talk about the losers. But we usually talk about why they weren’t able to convert opportunities into winning moments.