Monthly Archives: August 2010

Concert on the Square

Concert on the Square

Concert on the Square is over for the summer but is a favorite tradition in Madison. The chance to be quiet , to talk , to be with each other face-to-face, not have to talk if you don’t want to or can’t – the chance to listen, to indulge in a bottle of wine, cheese and dinner.

Does your city have any great summer traditions?

Women Don’t Need Exposure

Tech Crunch founder Michael Arrington argued in “Too Few Women in Tech? Stop Blaming Men” that he and other men already do plenty for women: he has a female CEO, two out of four of his senior editors are women, and he begs and pleads for women to speak at his conferences.

Arrington’s counter-point, an article in the Wall Street Journal, is equally insidious. The Journal reports that Mediaite founder Rachel Sklar “co-founded a group called ‘Change the Ratio’ to shine a light on women in entrepreneurial roles, and to address the dearth of women at start-ups” and goes on to report that technology investor Fred Wilson said “the industry needs catalysts to spark a virtuous circle of more successful women-led tech start-ups leading to more women in tech start-ups.”

Wilson pledges to “write about successful women entrepreneurs and prod conference hosts to include women on panels. ‘Little things like that will make a big difference,’” he says.

Arrington, Skylar, Wilson, and the many, many other opinions in an uproar about this are really arguing the same thing:  we need more exposure and awareness around women and tech. Their points of differentiation center on how much exposure will actually move the needle and create an acceptable number of women in tech. But how much or how little is irrelevant.

Women don’t need exposure. We need strategy. We need equality.

Interviewing women and inviting women to conferences and reporting on women-founded start-ups and creating women-focused events and so on and so forth might make everyone feel a bit better and be politically correct, but does little to actually support women.  These obvious proof points make it easy for Arrington and Wilson and Sklar to say, “Look! I’m doing my part!”

But women are less likely to advance in their careers despite all this “support.” And that’s because they’re not actively sponsored the way men are, the Harvard Business Review reports. “Many women explain how mentoring relationships have helped them understand themselves, their preferred styles of operating, and ways they might need to change as they move up the leadership pipeline.”

Arrington’s ideas are a good example of such encouragement; he argues that women may be too nurturing and risk averse for tech and alludes that changing that behavior is the key to more start-up companies founded by women.

“By contrast, men tell stories about how their bosses and informal mentors have helped them plan their moves and take charge in new roles, in addition to endorsing their authority publicly,” the study says. Men develop a special kind of relationship with other men that goes “beyond giving feedback and advice” and instead has men using their influence to advocate and ensure the success of male friends.

The rules of the old boys club have already been passed down to the young boys and without the key, women have somehow garnered special attention and kid glove treatment. But we need more than well-meaning supporters and intentions.

Just let us play the game on the same field.

To Michael Arrington’s credit, his walk seems to outpace the talk of Fred Wilson and Rachel Sklar. But watching the pendulum swing between who to blame neglects the obvious: equality isn’t about keeping score. That’s what business is for.

See you in the club.

Start-Up Games.

Friday Night Movie

Ryan and I are easily entertained, so movie critics we are not. However, it’s rare that he will admit to liking chick flicks (even though he will chuckle and hold me tight at all the right parts). But we both really enjoyed New York, I Love You.

I wasn’t expecting much (I guess it’s based off of Paris, Je T’aime which is supposedly fantastic), and we watched it last Friday night in. I loved the vignettes by different filmmakers, and felt like I had gotten a glimpse into each character’s life, kind of like how you imagine a person’s life in the moments they walk by you on the street.

Schedule and Experience Life

It’s Free Idea Friday! I like ideas. Others might say I need focus. So here’s an old one cluttering my head. Ideas are free. Execution isn’t. Take my idea, let it live long and prosper in your capable hands.

I like the trend of experiences over consumption, and I like the proliferation of web services and apps that integrate your online and offline experiences – I’m thinking about  location-based apps (Facebook Places, Foursquare, Gowalla), and those calendaring and event services ( Plancast, Tungle, Socializr).

Wouldn’t it be hot though if these services married and made babies on your iPhone?

For simplicity’s sake, let’s call this a social calendar that aggregates and creates experiences for young professionals. As a collaborative gateway service, the social calendar could partner with young professional, business and philanthropic institutions (your local young professional org, the United Way, political activist groups, etc.) that have a desire to serve and market to young professionals, but have been a bit left behind in all the web 2.0 hubub. These organizations work hard to create real-life experiences and connections, but often haven’t been able to successfully reach the younger demographic.  At the same time, young people everywhere are asking, “What is there to do?”

We’ve aggregated and monetized content and ideas, but no one has done the same with events and experiences. You can add your own events to existing services, but no one takes the time to aggregate the many existing calendars already out there. The social calendar would aggregate local and national experiences of interest to young professionals.

Not just music, entertainment, concerts and plays, but business, political and networking events as well. Our lifestyle is a blur between work and life after all. Existing local sites and services separate information into traditional boundaries of business or entertainment, and lack a cohesive and definitive picture. By aggregating experiences into one spot, the social calendar enhances the availability of community and its quality of place to users.

The social calendar could take existing iCal feeds and user-generated feeds, and bring them together in an intuitive and slick service. You could work in a freemium model where you entice new visitors with a default multi-calendared view, but with registration, users would be able to, via a drag and drop interface, select which feeds/calendars the user wants to see represented at a time, enjoy saved customized views, see private events, and other benefits.

You’d never have to worry about scheduling an event on the wrong day. You’d always know what was happening. You’d build the social calendar for the ultimate networker and the coolest hipster, but everyone would benefit.

Registered users would also be able to subscribe (via iCal and/or RSS) to those feeds, receive email reminders, share events with friends, etc. Registered users would also be able to add items to the calendar. Registration could be tiered: new users (events will be vetted/approved by an admin) and trusted (events automatically go on the calendar).  Events can be tagged in multiple categories, but shows up once even when multiple categories or feeds are selected.

You’d want to keep it simple in the beginning, but should you be a fan of feature creep, there are endless directions to go once the basics are built. You could allow added value and content that included tips and recommendations, that could be turned on or off. Users, such as a small business or blogger, could embed their calendar onto their site with a link back to your social calendar (imagine being the native language for all calendars). You could follow other people’s calendars. There are a lot of places you could go.

Schedule a little time for Sunday to Saturday innovation.

I wrote about this idea in my first post ever on this site, so it holds a special place in my heart. Won’t you make it a reality for me?

Gotham

Gotham

I am not sure what’s better and more deluding to your health than a delicious bagel sandwich.

Gotham Bagels in my neighborhood are New York style, and if you’re in the city, you should defniitely give them a visit. This particular beauty, called the “V”, is scallion cream cheese, roasted poblano peppers, tomato, arugula and avocado on a bagel. Ryan picked it up and hand-delivered it to me a few weeks ago. Have I mentioned I’m a lucky girl?

Resource Guide: Best of Social Media

Mostly, I try not to write about social media. I have no desire to be known as a social media expert despite the fact that many would agree that’s how I receive a paycheck every two weeks. I find the topic itself fairly stale, but sometimes I can’t help myself.  So, I write. In these posts, you won’t find the top 5 Ways to Build Your Facebook Page, but rather an inquiry into the social media tools that shape and dominate our lives.

1. Bloggers Are Not Writers (98 comments)
Bloggers are good at a great number of things, but writing doesn’t always top the list.

2. Will You Regret Your Online Prescene? (27 comments)
Video: Do you share enough to worry?

3. Good spreads – without marketing (25 comments)
We still pay credence to large influencers, but social media numbers mean nothing.

4. Stop writing about social media to be a successful blogger (72 comments)
An ethos on social media.

5. The four truths of blog networks to use to your advantage (33 comments)
Why blog networks don’t actually suck.

6. Social media doesn’t create new generation leaders (30 comments)
We need eye to eye leadership, not screen to screen.

7. Social media is difficult – like intimacy (57 comments)
A personal favorite that extols the virtues of social media (See? I do actually love it).

Keep Reading:
Visit more than 200 of the best links on Social Media from around the web >
Curated by yours truly.

Favorite Social Media Bloggers
These people mostly make me think. Sometimes laugh. Other times, both. I believe those who are really great at social media don’t just write, but practice it every day – so you won’t find a lot of the social media celebrities in this list, but you’re welcome to link to your favorites in the comments.

I hope you enjoy this resource! Feel free to leave your favorite links on Social Media in the comments as you come across them. Resource guides will be available permanently on the sidebar.

Vote: Women will lead Gen Y – what will men do?

One of my more popular – and controversial – posts to date is this one, so when fellow blogger and friend Elysa Rice approached me about a SXSW panel proposal with Tiffany Monhollon, Hannah Seligson and Ryan Healy, I was stoked to bring the online conversation to life.

We would all love it if you gave us the thumbs-up vote for our SXSW proposal. You don’t have to be attending the conference to vote, and if you are, we’d be thrilled if you also left a comment. We’re all huge fans of SXSW and think this would be an incredible conversation to have there. Here’s the panel description:

Women Will Lead Gen-Y – What Will Men Do?

Will Generation Y be the first generation to reap the full benefits of the women’s movement and if so, will it be to the detriment of men?

More women than men attain bachelor’s degrees. In recent years, nearly 59 percent of undergraduates were granted to women. By 2050, that degree gap will grow drastically.

Jobs are no different. During a six-month period in 2008, American women aged 20 and up gained nearly 300,000 jobs, and American men lost nearly 700,000 jobs. Research also shows that women who are in management make companies more profitable, even among the Fortune 500.

Roles traditionally filled by men – that of lawyers, doctors and managers – are seeing an influx of women. Other male-dominated industries such as manufacturing and construction seem to be perpetually in downturn, while women are found concentrated in upcoming and thriving industries such as education and healthcare.

Young men then, seemingly devoid of opportunities that once defined them, are left in a prolonged state of adolescence.

And yet – inequalities in the workplace still abound, men consistently negotiate higher salaries (eight times as many men as women graduating with master’s degrees from Carnegie Mellon negotiated their salaries), and when it comes to founding successful companies, apparently old guys rule. Young guys have a shot too. But women aren’t even part of the equation.

This panel will look at the future for women, and help reconcile conflicting research and real-life experiences.

Go vote!! >>

We so appreciate your support and thanks in advance. We promise a great conversation!

The Almost Moon

Almost Moon

Almost Moon

One day I went out with my best friend and when I came home, she had given me an armful of books to read. This is the first of them, and I have been letting it sit a while before talking about it.

The book received mixed reviews, with many people saying things like, “This entire book is just way too bizarre and weird for my taste,” or “The characters were wholly unsympathetic, their decisions and actions incomprehensible, and the plot implausible.”

But despite what might be an extremely uncomfortable reading, The Almost Moon deserves your attention. While the main character Helen does little to engender compassion, it is precisely her dysfunction that I spiraled down along with throughout the book.

Yes, it’s not a book for optimists. You’ve been forewarned.

The Almost Moon, $6.

Are Meetings Passé?

Meetings are a dying breed of face-to-face engagement that have taken on more angst, agony and abuse in recent years than even the lowly cubicle.

“There’s nothing more toxic to productivity than a meeting,” Jason Fried argues, author of the best-selling book, Rework, “They break your work day into small, incoherent pieces that disrupt your natural workflow. They often contain at least one moron that inevitably gets his turn to waste everyone’s time with nonsense… The goal is to avoid meetings. Every minute you avoid spending in a meeting is a minute you can get real work done instead.”

Did you get that? It is painstakingly difficult to form everyone around the table for a discussion. More than that, it’s unproductive. It’s time-consuming. It’s inefficient. Your co-workers are morons. Feelings could get hurt. Souls misunderstood. We should avoid each other at all costs. Don’t talk. Crouch and hide behind a monitor, like you learned to drop and roll for a fire.

Fried argues if you absolutely must hold a meeting, you should set up a timer and invite as few people as possible. Which really describes an industrial factory full of machines, not a cadre of smart people in a pioneering workplace, does it not?

More and more, solutions toward a better workplace include making sure we’re as far apart from each other as possible. Escapism is cloaked in flexible schedules, location-independence, and working from a coffee shop to the point of being revered; it’s okay that most people could never see another person and still do their job effectively.

We intentionally court the label of recluse as status symbol; evading a meeting is hip and progressive. Conversation is out.

A good deal of this obsession can be credited to our educational pedigree, where the American obsession with rote learning and standardized testing has married that old and outdated hag of work, the industrial model. Their child is the monstrosity of a workplace that we have today. Such systems, the trappings of knowledge and innovation, have actually killed creativity to the detriment of the current and future economy, and of course, our spirits.

We’re running away and far away in the wrong direction. Away from each other and towards nothing at all more grand, preferring the safety and fortitude of our screens more than the uncertainty and uncontrollability of real-life interactions.

Creativity once required a lone artist with his canvas or an eccentric inventor toiling away in his garage. But the new economy will increasingly require us to work together, to learn through the discovery of dialogue, the challenge of ideas and the experience of being in the same room – after all, the subtleties of a person’s mannerisms just don’t come through in a smiley face emoticon.

So maybe you could start a new kind of work revolution. One that doesn’t push away from each other but attracts us closer. Get up and talk. You know, within a physical distance that doesn’t require the use of email, text or gchat. Throw out your timer. Fight over something. Be interesting. Interrupt someone’s work.

Reach out and touch someone.

Work is the constant sifting and winnowing of how we make sense of the world. And real work can’t be done solely inside of a screen.

Speak Out.

Rainbow

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On Friday, there were numerous severe weather watches and it had been raining all day. Ryan and I ordered in and just as our food arrived, we saw a rainbow. There were actually two of them!

Start an Independent TV & Film Site

I like ideas. Others might say I need focus. So, here are some old ones cluttering my head. Ideas are free. Execution isn’t. Take my idea, let it live long and prosper in your capable hands. Tell me when you’ve brought it to fruition. I’ll be the first to promote it.

There are really great plot lines and true stories out there, but they’re often difficult to find even with, or likely because of,  the magnanimous amount of choice we have today. Let’s face it. It’s easy to start watching Dating in the Dark when you’ve watched all the newest TED videos and have nowhere else to turn. Oh sure, there’s Hulu, which is one of those services I’m not sure how I lived without before, and the ever-reliable Netflix which is oh-so-good at suggesting what I’ll like next. There are even niche sites like  Revision 3 and Current.tv dedicated to creating original programming outside of the mainstream.

But there is no site dedicated to the gems of independent film and television. There are great festivals dedicated to the exposure of these filmmakers and storylines, but their films often drift into the oblivion of their friend’s condos after the fact. We need a media site that streams the independent and documentary filmmakers, and small-time content creators like my buddy and his brother that is curated and brought together in one magnificent online theater.

How have the hipsters not created this yet?!

Broiled Bread w/ Zucchini, Goat Cheese & Basil

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You must start this meal (Ryan would call it an appetizer, I will call it a meal) with a delicious extra virgin olive oil, the kind you wouldn’t mind dipping your finger into just to taste…. this variety came to me from Sicily via Alice.  You can see how much I’ve used already and the bottle only recently arrived at my doorstep. Ah, Sicily!

Now that you’ve found a quality olive oil, here is the rest of the recipe:

Broiled Bread w/ Zucchini, Goat Cheese & Basil
Adapted from The Dabble.

Ingredients

  • Sliced french bread
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Zucchinis, thinly sliced
  • Fresh basil
  • Red pepper flakes
  • Sea salt/ground pepper
  • Goat cheese, garlic and herbs flavor

Preparation Instructions

Drizzle your olive oil over slices of french bread. Pop the slices under the broiler while you fry up some thin slices of zucchini, in more olive oil, and ground some salt and pepper to taste. In a bowl, mix a healthy handful of basil, red pepper flakes and even more olive oil. Add your thinly sliced fried zucchini when they’re lightly browned and tender. Mix ‘em up, then take out your lightly broiled bread, add the zucchini mixture and top it off with your favorite goat cheese (try garlic and herbs – divine!).

It will seem like a simple dish.

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But it will taste so good.