Posts tagged communication
Posts tagged communication
I thoroughly enjoyed myself last Wednesday attending the Glimpse Social Discovery conference in San Francisco. And to actively admitting to enjoying a conference (which seldom gets the “this was fun let’s do it again sometime!” rap) is a rare thing. Overall, the day played out like a field trip for me minus the 30+ classmates and chaperones trailing behind.
Just in case you’re new to this blog, let me introduce you to my job. I work in social media as a social media manager. And I don’t place an emphasis on SEO or analytical data. That’s more of a social media strategist thing to do anyway. (But lest you think I don’t factor ROI in there somewhere, don’t be fooled.) Me, I’m all about the blogging aspect and the quality of the content trumping quantity. There are a shitload of companies out there who believe that if you just keep pumping terrible, poorly written content out constantly then that’s good. You’re making your quota! Your job is secure for one more day! Definitely not me. I am passionate about being passionate when it comes to writing. I won’t write anything I don’t feel strongly about because when you lack the feeling, you become synchronized. The writing reflects it. So if I don’t write or blog for a day or two, it’s because I’d rather save myself for a meaty post rather than throw it all away on a half-assed article I didn’t even enjoy the topic of in the first place.
It’s not a conventional approach but this is social media. The groundwork is always being relaid and the platform constantly evolves. Whenever I go to events where I’m surrounded by fellow interwebz professionals, I like to ask everyone what they do at their job and then mentally stack up in my head their duties versus mine. Partially because each company treats social media differently so there are some points where it’s interesting to see whether or not you’re “on track” with the rest of them. But also partially just because. I have yet to meet someone doing more than me.
Social discovery, for those of you not in the know and that included me until Wednesday, is about being connected to new places, people, and products based off of your own existing interests and social interactions. I wrote in my other blog some of the lessons learned but to recap a few:
1) We like to discover but we don’t like to give up data on ourselves in order to start the discovery.
2) The internet is growing away from search and more toward discovery each and every day.
3) People want to make friends but they don’t like the concept of paying to make a friend or a connection.
It’s a brave new world dawning upon us and only continuing to dawn all the brighter each and every day and I drank up all of its Koolaid.
Our keynote speaker was the CEO of Pandora Joe Kennedy (left) interviewed by Bloomberg Businessweek reporter, Doug MacMillan (right). There were 10 sessions in all (I’m not writing them all because this post will never end if I do) in which reporters would sit in front of the hall and “interview” about 3-5 different speakers from networking sites like Facebook, Mashable, LinkedIn, Tagged, and more on a series of pre-meditated questions followed up by a series of tweeted questions from the audience as opposed to a live Q&A.
Listening to Joe describing how Pandora works was stunning. It’s an absurdly well oiled machine. Music analysts categorize and give attributes to the music you hear, noting the kinds of instruments used in the pieces, the tempo, the speed, the pitch of the voice, etc. Said attributes are then matched to other songs with similar characteristics and a playlist is created. Most fascinating of all is hearing Joe discuss how playlists are further customized to your age group and geographic location. A 13 year old in Wyoming listening to Taylor Swift is not going to have the same playlist as a 35 year old in Boston. Joe was adamant in stating that Pandora is for “serendipity and discovery” - with over 100,000 musicians in their library, he likened it to being, “How do we use everything we know to play the best music for you?”
It’s hard for a company to crack the formula to providing their customers what they need but Pandora is a diamond in the rough example of a company that truly cares and is constantly looking to enrich a consumer’s life.
My personal favorite panel was this one right here, “Location Discovery” led by reporter and BAMF Shayndi Raice from the Wall Street Journal featuring from left to right Paul Davison, CEO of Highlight, Holger Luedorf, the VP of foursquare, and Bill Nguyen the CEO of Color.
A solid panel discussion would dive deep into the issues that consumers and corporations were facing when it comes to the big bad world of the interwebz while still maintaining a message of what each person did and a sense of humor. Very few panels pulled that in like this one did. This session worked because of the extremes you had each individual coming from. Paul saw the future of social media as being in a “sixth sense” form where you could one day be able to look at a person and know immediately their name, where they worked, what they did, where they lived, if you went to high school with them, if you’d marry them, etc. I loved that because that’s how I’ve often dreamed of the future being myself! Like a chip embedded underneath your skin that allows for a constant flow of communication no matter what language you speak, what race you belong to, what gender or age or caste you fall into. Connection and communication equaling a unity.
I think it’s beautiful.
But while beautiful, the theory is also wildly, wildly ambitious and Bill said exactly what the skeptical/creeped out side of the audience was thinking, “Isn’t it scary that to be discovered, you have to give over data about yourself first?”
Perhaps. But no more scarier than the fact that we have already begun the process and willingly at that.
An overriding theme of the conference was time. Being time rich and time poor. A time rich person is a consumer who has the time or makes the moment to dick around on the internet and look at tons of websites each day. Time poor was never fully defined, but I’m assuming it was the antithesis of time wealth. I didn’t like either definition. Neither feel right to me. Anyone can be time rich if they know how to schedule their time wisely and devote it to the areas that they are passionate about.
On the lunch break, I used some of my time wealth to hang out in Union Square’s little park area. A Chinese dragon performance piece with gongs and drums was being held with several dancing dragons visiting the audience members. At 1:30 on a Wednesday afternoon.
Ahhhh, SF. It made my heart fill up with too much love for the city, almost to a bursting point. There was a part of me that periodically throughout the day kept thinking, “Let’s stay. Let’s stay here forever. You didn’t bring anything with you but a handbag, phone, and your coat. That’s okay. We can start from scratch with just those things.”
And you really can too, if you work in social media. You can move anywhere and keep working and stay connected.
Though you may have to check in occasionally for your complimentary beer and warm pretzel combo. I think this wound up getting the most tweets scrolling through the Bumebox dash for the day, with mentions of “double fisting” both. As there should be.
Mmm, social media…
Last night, my roommate and I were watching “Virgin Diaries” on TLC which was both incredibly horrifying and awesomely hilarious with the right touch of heartbreaking (how did they do that?!) all wrapped into one hour long special. My feelings on watching shows like these are split. There’s a part of me that feels very much enraged that somewhere out there, a sizable portion of the country tuning in is laughing and mocking these people at their celibate lifestyles. This same portion of me wants to blindly defend these people that I don’t even know. But then there is a separate portion of myself that is also laughing at them and can’t help it. This is the same portion of me who is just “oh come on!” You don’t tell a guy on your first date that you’re a virgin! And if you even want to have the date continue on to become ANYTHING beyond a first date, you sure as shit don’t go babbling, “I want kids!” or have your roommates (who are also single) meet your date at the door and badger him with 20 questions related to marriage. Also this is going to sound really bad, but the same portion of myself that rolls her eyes watching this and moans and groans is also the same person who thinks, “I am so glad I am nothing like that.” You know what I mean. I might have my own set of personality quirks, but I understand how to not be socially inept and downright weird in public. Which you’d only hope someone who works in communications with a degree in journalism would be but hey, not everyone in comm knows how to talk to people.
The best part of the show were the kissing scenes. Like fish sucking each other’s faces off. At one point there was just full on tongue everywhere and I nearly fell off the couch laughing. You really want the first kiss moment to be a sweet and cute one- as both a TV viewer and general human being- not one where you’re busting up laughing the entire time. In an off-hand way, this reminded me of my personal best kiss ever story. Ahhh this kiss. Twas a wonderful one, befitting for the evening.
It was the summer of 2008, right before I was set to move to California to attend school. Back in the day when I was working at Subway with my best buddy from home Melissa and was only a few weeks away from the big move. Mel got invited to go to a birthday party at this girl Leah’s house that weekend and asked me if I wanted to come along with her. Leah was in my year in high school and was a person I had lukewarm feelings towards. She wasn’t a bad person by any means but for a time there she was friends with this one girl I wasted too much time and friendship with in high school so I tended to steer clear of her. However, since we had both been out of high school for 2 years at the time, I decided to accept the invite and go with it. The theme of the birthday party was costume because Leah was really big on Halloween so we all got dressed up to go over. I dressed as the evil & sexy version of Alice in Wonderland with a pink and black wig on (important). Mel was a sexy version of Thomas the Tank which was basically her putting on a tiny ass Thomas the Tank engine tee shirt and matching shorts set. High-larious.
The setup for the house party was fairly standard. A few people at the beginning, then gradually more and more people started showing up, more alcohol, more kegs, the music got louder and louder, the scene got weirder and more hilarious, and the cops eventually got called. My memories from that night are spotty in some places and clear in others. A bunch of people I had gone to high school with showed up and all of them seemed extremely surprised to see me, swaying slightly from side to side from drinking, there. This is the same reaction I got in the 8th grade when I started going to mixers for the first time. Apparently virtually no one believes that I like to go out and have a good time. Pity for those people; they clearly do not know anything about my “Piano Man” bar evenings.
I’m leaving the house to go outside midway during the night and I turn on the porch to see this guy standing at the foot of the porch stairs. The porch light is beaming down on him and I stand there for a good minute going in my buzzed head, “Is that? No. Can’t be. But is it? Is that him?”
“Heather?” The guy asks in just about the same voice that I’m using in my head to ration out what I’m seeing before me. I smile and carefully ask in reply, “John?” while going down the stairs in my sparkly ballet flats.
“Hi!” John reaches out and hugs me and I’m literally stunned by the series of events going down.
John transferred to my school when I was a senior. Hands-down, the guy that every girl in my year immediately had a thing for. He was an enigma which is dangerous, dangerous thing to be in a private Catholic school, especially if you are a hot, straight dude who looks like a cross between Pete Doherty and some kind of Karl Lagerfeld dream guy model. He was also in the theatre department though routinely he pissed off the heads there, always arriving late and whatnot. I myself did not start noticing how attractive and kind he was until close to the end of the year when he was dating a friend of mine, K. In the war of the girls, I knew I literally had no chance of winning when up against K who had the following things working in her corner a) big boobs, b) lots of money and c) a lot of powerful friends. He dated her for about 2 years or so and the pair broke up a couple of weeks before Leah’s party. I knew this because K lived up the street from me and after running into her one afternoon, she told me about the breakup. Can’t say I was surprised either, just mostly in awe that they lasted for as long as they did.
Anyway, back to the porch. I tell John about my plans to leave for school in a few weeks which he remembers from when I was in high school where the plan first bloomed and was initially thwarted. While we both continue to talk (forgive me for not remembering all of the details, it was in 2008 and I was drinking) I had a few John-related memories re-enter my skull. One of the most prominent was when the two of us were in the stairwell together during an acting class I had enrolled in senior year. I remember asking him to sign my yearbook which almost immediately I wished I had not asked him to do. At the time, we shared both an acting class and a film class together and in the film one, I was particularly assertive, having once gotten into a debate about whether Crash or Brokeback Mountain would win the Oscar with another dude from the class (who interestingly enough, also resides in LA and works for Paramount). What the fuck was he gonna write in my yearbook- hey, loved hearing you scream at Mike “I KNOW the Academy and how it works!”-stay awesome!
He took his time writing in there, often pausing to glance up at me and continue writing. When he finished, he looked up at me once more, then kissed the thing he just got done writing, smiled, closed the yearbook, and handed it to me. I stuffed it into my handbag and said thanks and the bell rang and I went to the bathroom to read whatever he had written in the privacy of the bathroom stall. It said (forgive me for not remembering all of the details, it was in 2006 and that yearbook is somewhere in my old bedroom) that I was always doing or reading something interesting and that he often admired that in me and a bunch of other stuff all capped off with him signing “love, john” with a heart.
Interesting! It is the adjective of choice that every guy I have ever known slaps me with. And also the same one that guys I do not know pin me with too. The nice thing is that I am no Felicity Porter type- just because a hot guy from my high school writes in my yearbook doesn’t mean I will decide to drop attending my West Coast university in favor of a hometown college. And while there is a portion of me that fears that this sense of self may doom me from being caught up in multiple terrible semi-relationships throughout my twenties, ultimately what that yearbook and this story does for me in the long run is create a unique story that I can write about and others can feel they relate to.
The party keeps going and John and I go our separate ways. I continue to drink more and more and then the cops get called, I don’t know why it’s either the noise or the fact that underage kids are all doing keg stands outside. I hear the cop cars approaching and suddenly, I am struck with the irrational feeling that this may be the last night I see John again. I grab Melissa, “Mel!” I slur out, “I have to go find John! I have to kiss him before it’s too late!”
“Whaaa-” She doesn’t even get the word out but does stumble up to follow me out the front door as I spot him getting ready to leave with the group of dudes he came to the party with. Thankfully, none of them attended my high school. I bolt down the porch steps and find myself jumping in front of him before he leaves and kissing the crap out of him. The totally awesome thing is that he is really into it and is, and still stands, as the best kisser yet in my life.
The hilarious part is that during the kiss, my wig begins to fall off of my head. So by the time we finally let each other go, the wig is on the ground and the cops are coasting down the street. Very 2008 version of Romeo + Juliet minus the underage love story. “Bye!” I tell him and grab the wig and go running to the house where Melissa is on the front porch, cackling so hard she looks like she’s going to pee herself. “Mel! I did it! I kissed John! And then my wig fell off but I kissed John!”
“I know! I saw.” She gives me this look that I’ll continue to see throughout the rest of my life but really only ever started seeing that night because I was in the presence of a true friend: the look that she’s with someone whom she truly enjoys the company of with the feeling being as mutual as possible. And even though these moments may end, we’ll never stop recounting them.
It’s been almost 4 years since that kiss and we still talk about it occasionally. As far as where John is, I don’t know. He isn’t on Facebook or anything so it makes it very hard for me to know anything about him. But that’s all a part of his enigma I suppose, and in many ways, makes it much nicer for me to have fonder memories of that night. I don’t imagine they’d be so nice if I routinely saw his profile every morning. God, I wonder if he even remembers that night.
If he does, I certainly hope I proved to be as interesting to him as he thought me to be.
This has been a flashback post,