Quotable: GSI Commerce exit for WHYY and design challenge for Temple Times

Sometimes journalists are desperate for any schlub to give perspective on an event, and I’m there to fill in the cracks.

News broke this week that eBay purchased regional e-commerce shop GSI Commerce, and WHYY was interested in whether an exit was good or bad for the region. (I said the region needs balance: exits are great for marketing, provided we also have a diverse portfolio of large, small and startup businesses, though exits can also limit growth.)

“Give me a thousand Philadelphia companies that exit with note, and I’ll give you a region that is seen as a real hub for technology talent and innovation, and the long term benefit of that is real,” said Wink.

Also, earlier this month, I judged a Temple University student design competition and was quoted in the school’s write up of the event.

“Action is a virtue, and the Design Challenge is a way to bring action, entrepreneurship, community involvement and collaboration together,” he said.

 

 

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9 YouTube videos that changed my perspective on the world and the lessons I learned

Above, TED co-founder Chris Anderson talks about the impact of Youtube and other online video has on the world.

Youtube was a powerful part of moving forward content dissemination on the web. Suddenly there was a free place to host, distribute and embed easily video that drove traffic and audience.

About which time Youtube was overwhelmed with kitten videos, personal photos looped under copyrighted music and clips of everything in between.

But, through all the muck, there is brilliance. That much I’ve found since I first clicked on a Youtube link in an email in my college sophomore year apartment and shared with my roommate. Universities are beginning to share lectures online, and more teachers, lessons and ideas are spreading on Youtube. (Perhaps not as much as kitten videos)

To prove there is more than the nonsense, below, I share the 10 videos that have made the biggest impact on me and the lessons I took from them.

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Three proposed ONA 2011 panels

The annual national Online News Association conference, to be held this fall in Boston, has launched its 2011 panel picker, in which those interested can vote to support their favorites of a couple hundred suggested sessions.

I am somewhat involved in three. To vote, users just need to sign up with an email. If you’re interested give love to any of these three:

  1. Data Sets You Free — Informed by my Transparencity work, I proposed to lead a session with Robert Cheetham of Azavea and Chris Satullo of WHYY that would focus on the following: “In Philadelphia, a GIS shop, an NPR affiliate, a foundation, an indie news site and a technology community are coming together to organize, catalog, share and use city government data to create applications, stories and coverage that boosts transparency and efficiency. This presentation focuses on what was done, why collaboration was important and lessons on doing the same elsewhere.” Questions: 1. Why is government data so important? 2. What are challenges, obstacles and lessons from an actual example? 3. What can other journalists learn from such a project?
  2. This isn’t a panel: 10 lessons from Technically Philly — “10 actionable lessons derived from what we’ve learned building Technically Philly, a profitable blog that covers technology in Philadelphia. No panel discussion, just 10 takeaways that you can use at your job tomorrow including sources of revenue and editorial philosophies that you didn’t learn in journalism school.”
  3. Making it work with a small staff – Organized by colleague Sean Blanda, “How can you keep the lights on and the posts coming when you have a staff of ten or less? Join us as we discuss the workflow hacks and editorial jujitsu necessary for a first-rate news site.”
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15 best Back on My Feet videos we made in a year

Short, compelling videos of interest travel well on the web.

That means video can take your brand, organization, mission, message or call to action with it. I served my media director role with Back on My Feet for less than a year, but I’m proud of moving the staff to more frequent video creation for those reasons and to give our members — people experiencing homelessness — a platform to share their stories.

Looking back, though I shared other metrics from my time there, I realized I never shared the best of what I thought was some meaningful video for just a start.

So, below, that’s what I do, highlight 15 of the best videos we created during my tenure as media director, clamoring on email that “everything is content!”

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Faint Praise: Alex Hillman, Karl Martino encourage folks to read here

Recently, I’ve had a couple big compliments on my writing here. Independents Hall co-founder Alex Hillman gave a nod on Twitter, encouraging his followers to follow my work in a similar way Comcast developer and Philly Future blogger Karl Martino did last summer.

Thanks to you both.

 

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Why print will last so much longer than you think it will (hint: we can feel it)

Print is going to last longer than we might think because we can prove print in a way we cannot prove with digital.

Someone recently mentioned to me that in 10 years, we’ll still be predicting the death of newspapers. I think sitting here, in my office, looking at a copy of the Wall Street Journal that I stuffed into my pocket after finding it on a bench at the 2nd Street station in Old City Philadelphia, I believe that to be true.

Let me say something controversial: newspapers mean something more than news sites. Just like printed photographs mean something more than Facebook pictures.

Digital media still should amaze in their flexibility, utility and reach. But their printed counterparts are also still remarkable for all the reasons their future seem limited: they are inflexible, expensive and in-viral.

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Reading: Improving Sales, The Excuse Department is Closed

We at Technically Philly have had many short stops with sales help, making it one of our most prominent failures. Like  many startups, we found that the three of us did the best sales, particularly when we were getting started.

I came across one of the better summations of why and what one could learn from working with sales people in a startup environment:

I boil it down to this: sales people are sales people. They are the lifeblood of many companies yet they are different than the traditional technology startup DNA so the ways that you hire, motivate, compensate and assess performance of these individuals will be different. Obviously to understand a “class” of people you have to make broad generalizations. Here are mine.

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Serendipity is alive: where I get my news in 2011

Someone with great influence and interest in the future of news and journalism once spoke with great concern of the loss of serendipity.

When someone picks up a newspaper, she shared, that reader is very likely to come across a story he didn’t expect or otherwise know about. In fumbling with pages and jumps, a newspaper reader is exposed to a carefully packaged product meant to inform. Serendipity is a natural, important and wonderful byproduct, she said.

The internet is destroying all of that, she implied. With narrowing audiences and narrowing focuses, we don’t trip over the important news like we did we newspapers, she lamented. What’s the answer to that, she asked.

With all of the respect warranted, I started, I don’t agree with that premise at all.

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“People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it:” Simon Sinek

Just came across this September 2009 TED presentation in which Leadership theorist Simon Sinek talks about what makes Apple, Martin Luther King Jr. and other leaders different than their competitors: “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.”

He also spoke of its relevance to the diffusion of innovation.”

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NewsWorks MindMap: sharing my interests with WHYY

WHYY news site NewsWorks offers a new MindMap each week, in which community leaders and other Philadelphians share a little bit about their interests. Last week, I was highlighted. MindMap yourself here.

Quotation to Live By:

In almost every case, it is never as serious as you think it is.

Books on my nighstand now:

Like 25 minutes ago I put a stack away, including ‘Expiration Date’ by former CityPaper editor Duane Swierczynski, ‘I Will Teach You to Be Rich’ by Ramit Sethi, ‘The Night of the Gun’ by David Carr and ‘God’s Pocket’ by former Daily News columnist Pete Dexter.

Favorite Author(s), fiction or non-fiction:

If you have a Philadelphia setting or impact on cities, politics or business and say something moderately interesting in tight, point-driven prose, I’ll like it.

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