You have to be far enough away to be seen: Story Shuffle 8 (Anniversaries)

Another Story Shuffle, this the 8th, the one year anniversary celebration and a theme of Anniversaries, was held in my Fishtown rowhome last week.

I told the story of Voyager II, an un-manned spacecraft sent out 34 years earlier in order to go farther than we ever have before. Like other ships send to deep space, it had to get far enough away so it could be seen, a subject I found fitting for both the space program and our own depiction of ourselves.

Give it a listen below or find all the stories here.

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Glengarry Glen Ross: 10 sales lessons from the 1992 cult classic movie

Sales tactics to lead and those to avoid are seemingly peppered throughout the classic, star-studded, independent black comedy Glengarry Glen Ross from 1992 that I finally got to watch — after quoting clips for years.

“We’re adding a little something to this month’s sales contest. As you all know, first prize is a Cadillac El Dorado. Anyone wanna see second prize? Second prize is a set of steak knives. Third prize is you’re fired,” says the character Blake, setting the mood early on.

As you might expect, there are some takeaways to be had.

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The Golden Ratio by Mario Livio: were mathematics invented or discovered?

The Golden Ratio, the 2003 historical analysis of the irrational number phi (~1.62) by Mario Livio, reads more like a top level review of a few thousand years of mathematical history. And so, while I enjoyed the pursuit of phi in art throughout time, I was much more taken by the top-level review of the development of math. The development, or, well, the discovery of math.

Indeed, of the various historical storylines, one theme from the book that stuck out for me more than others, I was most taken bythe ongoing debate about whether math was invented or discovered, the former of which is my persuasion to date:

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ONA Philly: the revival of the Online News Association in Philadelphia

Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist Jim MacMillan hiding from Daniel Victor’s iPhone camera to my enjoyment at the August 2011 ONA Philly meetup at Nodding Head.

Sometimes you need that kick in the pants from an outsider.

There is a new Philadelphia chapter of the Online News Association, something of a trade organization founded in 1999 for journalism innovation that hosts a popular annual national conference I attended last year and regional events across the country. (I’ll be attending the national 2011 ONA conference, this year in Boston in October, too.)

Next ONA Philly meetup: Meet NewsWorks.com

  • 6-9pm Thurs. Sept. 15
  • WHYY, 6th St. at Race
  • Old City, Philadelphia
  • One year after launching, hear from the online news initiative from WHYY
  • Free beer, light snacks
  • Meetup.com RSVP here

But it’s not the first ONA chapter here. As recent as summer 2008, an ONA Philly chapter, led by then Inquirer online editor Chris Krewson and Philly.com editor Wendy Warren, held a big regional conference. But it was a time of heavy contraction and stress over at 400 North Broad Street. The workload wasn’t spread enough and that iteration fizzled. (Credit to Krewson and Warren for first bringing the group here — and setting up the first Facebook group.)

Fortunately a newcomer has taken up the cause. (And has a new Facebook group up, in addition to a Twitter account to follow news.)

Young sage Daniel Victor, who took a gig at Philly.com under Warren earlier this year after the collapse at TBD, has taken up the cause. Enlisting the Technically Philly crew and local AP editor Amy Fiscus, Victor is bringing the show back. I’m happy he jump-started the idea, but I’m proud to have been part of bringing this back and expect to play a role for a long time in the future.

We had small 20-30 person meetups in July and August and now are moving forward. On Sept. 15, NewsWorks is hosting a show and tell on their near one-year anniversary of work from WHYY, details above at right in sidebar.

From what I know, there’s never been a national ONA conference in Philadelphia. That’s something I’d like to see changed.

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Philly Geek Awards: one award, three nominations and a dozen ideas for next year

The first ever Philly Geek Awards show, organized by my friends at Geekadelphia, was held last Friday at the Academy of Natural Sciences. As mentioned here in June, I was proudly involved in three nominations.

My Technically Philly colleagues Sean Blanda, Brian James Kirk and I were honored to have Philly Tech Week named Philadelphia’s Best Local Annual Event. In accepting the award, we were able to thank the entire technology community for getting involved and remind the nearly 400 people in attendance that Philly Tech Week 2012 is coming the last week of next April, in addition to a fine message from Kirk.

Because I so loved the event and because I consider the Geekadelphia crew good buddies, I was awash with thoughts on this year and next. Below, I share some of them.

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Five things that should be in your organization style guide

While I was at Back on My Feet, something I was proud of completing was, with the great help of a colleague, a company style guide.

A style guide should be a fundamental piece of documentation that goes a long way to creating an institutional memory. If everything imploded, a style guide would help you rebuild your organization — with workflow being more explicitly enumerated in staff manuals.

As your organization grows, it’s easy to wake up and find a lot of disparate, disconnected pieces that you’ll need to assemble again. Take hold and  keep connected the work you do for a tighter, more inspired and successful campaign.

In looking at other guides and finding value in ours, there are a few items that I think every style guide should include:

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Why Philadelphia should embrace its accent

Even on the beloved and excellent TV comedy 'Always Sunny in Philadelphia,' native Rob McElhenney doesn't employ a Philly accent.

I have a friend who went to college where he did for, really, one leading reason: the accent.

Sure, he found a nice campus at a respected university with a good reputation and a big price tag, but, ultimately, he sought colleges in and around Boston because he loved that accent.

Boston, most might say, is a culturally distinctive city of 650,000 in a region steeped in history, plagued by all the problems dense places face and respected for its future.

Boston and its portion of New England surely has a lot going for it — in Philadelphia, it’s the city we probably most often compare ourselves to in terms of college graduate retention and sustaining of life sciences business — but I argue one of the strongest, most meaningful reasons for its success that no one seems to talk about is, yes, those broad As of the Boston accent.

So I’m here to argue that one of the greatest ways to continue to bolster Philadelphia’s reputation is to expand its cultural exportation through movies, music and TV, highlighted by that accent that the rest of the country rarely can identify.

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JLab Enterprise Reporting Fund: Abandoned City and Broadband2035

Two more collaborative Philadelphia reporting projects in which I was involved have finished recently.

Part of the JLab-funded Enterprise Reporting Fund that paid for the NEast Philly District 172 project I shared recently, Abandoned City was a partnership between Technically Philly, PlanPhilly and CityPaper and Broadband2035 was a partnership between Technically Philly and PlanPhilly.

While I was involved with some strategy, reporting, introductions, planning and, for Broadband2035, I led the relationship with the city’s Planning Commission (more on that below), my colleague Brian James Kirk really led our roles in these two initiatives.

Abandoned City, depicted above was an investigation of vacant property in Philadelphia and its impact on communities.

  • CityPaper led the reporting and devoted a cover story and other print space for reporting
  • PlanPhilly offered additional reporting, editing and the web platform
  • Technically Philly initiated the partnership and worked with a developer to visualize and map those findings.

Broadband2035, which is ongoing, investigated the impact access to affordable broadband has on low-income communities

  • PlanPhilly offered reporting, editing and guidance
  • Technically Philly led the reporting, worked with the city’s Planning Commission to incorporate broadband plans into its comprehensive Philadelphia2035 vision and hosted the series page.
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White House Urban Entrepreneurship Forum: speaking on public-private partnerships

White House Urban Entrepreneurship forum Better Together panel, featuring (from left) moderator Kathleen Warner from Startup America; Doug Rand from the White House Office of Science and Technoogy; Sherryl Kulman from the Wharton Program for Social Impact; Prof. Youngjin Yoo from Temple University's Fox School of Business; Jane Vincent from the U.S. Housing and Urban Development Dept and, behind the camera, me.

One of seven White House Urban Entrepreneurship forums across the country was hosted at Temple University in Philadelphia Monday, and, in addition to Technically Philly being a media sponsor, I served on one of a dozen panels.

Find the Livestream and Technically Philly coverage of Philadelphia Mayor Nutter’s address here.

I was on a panel called “Better Together: Public-Private Partnerships to Accelerate Urban Entrepreneurship and Startups.”

Unfortunately, our time was truncated due to a late start, so I spoke briefly once and answered one question.

I spoke about Technically Philly involving itself in connecting startups and entrepreneurs with the city, by way of Philly Tech Week, the Open Data Philly initiative and further fostering collaboration in various corners of the region’s technology community.

White House officials are holding these forums, from Newark to New Orleans, to connect and discuss ideas with local business leaders and entrepreneurs. Philadelphia’s forum coincided with a meaningful minority business event. The forum was co-hosted by the White House, The Office of Mayor Nutter, U.S. Departments of Commerce, Energy, Labor, Treasury, Education, and several federal, state, and local agencies.

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Selling Out: why some acquisitions are good and others are bad for Philadelphia business

Remember: I am an individual who is a technology reporter. These are my opinions and should not reflect those of my company Technically Media, nor its technology news site Technically Philly.

Online auction giant eBay bought for $2.4 billion King of Prussia-based e-commerce powerhouse GSI Commerce in March, and I spoke briefly about the deal on WHYY.

As NewsWorks reported, there was immediate concern about the loss of local jobs through contraction and restructuring. In my conversation, I pushed on the notion that there is important value for the region’s perception as a technology hub to have significant exits to point to.

This acquisition, I suggested, can be seen as a good thing.

In doing so, I raised the ire of Old City coworking space Independents Hall co-founder Alex Hillman, who told me he felt strongly that growing companies in Philadelphia was a lot more important than selling out to bigger players elsewhere.

This post is going to argue that we’re both right.

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