Digital Nomads & Events Building Regional Culture

Events & Regional Culture

Events are one of the things that help build the culture of a region.appleton, wi

A pretty smart tech guy once told me that part of the reason he moved to Appleton, Wisconsin, USA, was because of the weekly tech meeting I helped start. He said something to the effect that he figured there must be a decent amount of tech stuff going on, or we wouldn’t have done a weekly tech meeting for years and wouldn’t have had a long term blog related to the tech meeting.

He had other reasons for moving to this area, too, but the tech meetings and tech blog did have an influence on his perception of the area.

Yesterday’s post raised the question of what the value of events are and whether people are using their time wisely by participating in events. Because events help build a region’s culture, having a variety of tech and entrepreneurial events appear to have value directly related to the following article I read today.

Digital Nomad Discretion On Where To Live

The Case for Working in Silicon Valley and Living in the Rust Belt,” suggests that ultra-high housing costs in Silicon Valley (which can also be seen in other large cities with major tech hubs) may be causing an increasing number of tech workers to move to other Golden Gate Bridgeareas with a high quality of life but much lower housing costs.

A new wave of tech workers is house hunting in Middle America. When software engineer Eric Anderle and his wife, Rachel, decided they were tired of renting and wanted to buy, they quickly realized that any place in their neighborhood—San Francisco’s spiffy NoPa district—would be out of reach. Rather than look in surrounding towns or across the bay to Oakland, the 25-year-olds staged an escape. Last fall they moved into a four-bedroom house an hour south of Grand Rapids, Mich. The monthly mortgage payment on their 3,000-square-foot home there is about the same as the rent on the couple’s old 600-square-foot apartment. Best of all, Anderle didn’t have to give up his Grand Rapids, MIsweet Silicon Valley gig at Twilio. He persuaded the cloud communications company to let him not only work but also live remotely…”

Although America and the rest of the world are still in the very early stages of learning how to effectively work remotely or in distributed teams, this mode of work will be much more common twenty years from now. An increasingly large sector of the workforce will have the option to live hundreds or thousands of miles from their employer’s headquarters or legal address. Greater freedom to choose the location of a primary residence means other factors become more important than employer location, including

  • Housing costs.
  • Other cost-of-living factors.
  • Climate.
  • Quality of Life.
  • Family / relatives.
  • Regional culture.

If people in a region want to work to make their area more appealing to remote and distributed workers, especially ones with high-paying jobs, they can’t do much to change the climate or where relatives live. Probably the easiest thing to work on is making the culture of the area appealing to those highly mobile workers. Tech workers, especially digital nomads, will judge the culture of an area in many ways, but an important factor will be what type of presence technology and entrepreneurism have in the region.

Does Your Region Support Tech & Entrepreneurial Events?

It’s not that expensive or difficult to have a good variety of events for like-minded people in a region. A typical starting point is participant-driven informal events like those found through Meetup.com, with the cost for using the site’s name and services covered by meeting registration fees or an event sponsor.

partners and sponsors 2There can be a wide variety of more organized events focused on building the culture of the region if:

  • Someone is available and willing to organize and promote events.
  • Regional or national companies and organizations support the events.
  • Local media provide publicity and visibility for events and the community of like-minded people.
  • Appropriate venues are available for groups events.

If you want a better tech culture in your area and you’re a civic leader, an executive or decision-maker at a local company or organizations, or a highly influential person in your region, do you feel tech events help improve the culture of your region?

If the answer is yes, what are YOU doing to support more or better tech events?

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Value Of Events And Meeting For Coffee

Today was a day for thinking a lot — not for writing a lot. And I’m not done thinking yet.

no meetingsConversations I had yesterday and several item I read today focused on what value events, including just meeting for coffee, have for different people. Ironically enough, two of the conversations resulted from me meeting someone for coffee!

The basic issue relates to how much time a person with focused mission and a lot of work to do to achieve that mission should spend on events which don’t contribute directly to accomplishing that work.

This issue is often discussed with respect to entrepreneurs and startups. Advice is given to startup founders and founder aspirants to not spend their time at coffee, meetups, conferences or other events which don’t clearly and directly contribute to achieving their short term goals and moving their venture forward.

no coffeeTwo of the posts I read today strongly advised against asking someone to meet for coffee.

Because I spend a lot of time and brain cycles on events, some of which consist of meeting for coffee, I need to do some more reading, talking, thinking and writing about this topic. I want to feel my time is well spent on events I organize and run. And I want to know my time participating in events would not have been better spent doing something else.

In a couple weeks, after I’ve churned through the divergent opinions out there and have a better grasp of specific reasons and circumstances for not participating in formal or informal events, I’ll write a post on this topic.

And then, probably, re-write it a couple times after I publish it…

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TIME Community Events: Benefits Of A Regional TIME Community

What’s A TIME Community?

The TIME community consists of Tech people, Innovators, Makers, and Entrepreneurs.

[For more details about what the TIME community is, read “TIME Community & Events.”]

timeIn today’s post, I’ll present a definition of what a regional TIME community is and what the benefits are of a Thriving regional TIME community.

One definition of a community includes “a group of people living in the same place or having a particular characteristic in common” and “a feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals.” When you read “community” in this post, think “group of like-minded people” instead of city, village or town.

What’s A Regional Community?

For the purposes of this post, a “regional” TIME community refers to a connected group of people sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals who live in an area larger than just one city. Examples of regions in the part of Wisconsin where I live are the Green Bay area, the Fox Cities, and NE Wisconsin.long term growth

[For more specifics on the definition of regions, see the notes at the bottom of this post.]

A thriving regional community is one that has a long term growth trend and one in which the people are well-connected and motivated to participate in some of the community activities. Listed below are the benefits of a thriving regional TIME community.

Five Benefits Of Being A TIME Community Member

Here are five important reasons for YOU to consider being an active member in a regional TIME community.

  • Meet and interact with like-minded people.
    • The TIME community makes it easy to connect with like-minded people, working on projects with them, sharing your knowledge and skills with them, and learning new skills and knowledge from them. Interacting with other TIME community members may lead to lifelong relationships which otherwise would not have happened.
  • Find fun and interesting non-work activities in the region’s TIME community.
    • When you get involved with your region’s TIME community you’ll find out about non-work opportunities of high interest to technologists, innovators, makers and entrepreneurs such as meetups, conferences, workshops, classes,

      disruptive innovator 2

      Disruptive Innovation

      and projects. You’ll also have more opportunities to launch new TIME activities you want to see happen.

  • Participate in disruptive innovation and startups.
    • A region’s TIME community can help you participate in disruptive innovation and startups with goals of delivering 10 – 20X improvement rather than 10 – 20% improvement. It can also help you participate in emerging technologies or the global economy.
  • Find a new job or part time revenue stream.
    • A thriving TIME community can help you connect with current jobs in the you're hiredregion for technologists, innovators, makers and entrepreneurs. It also helps find part time work or revenue opportunities that generate income from your region and from other parts of the US or the world.
  • Help create and participate in an improved regional culture.
    • Conservative regions’ culture and limited opportunities for people interested in work/play TIME activities result in minimal immigration of new TIME community members and significant emigration of existing TIME community members. Regions with a conservative and insular culture are poorly suited to adapt to strategies that will most successfully improve their economy in the next twenty years. Regions with a relatively stable economy but a minor tech and innovation industry sector have socioeconomic measures that aren’t negative enough to drive meaningful change unless a virtual critical mass is connected is developed to facilitate culture and economy changes.

Five Benefits Of Being A TIME Community Supporter

Here are the top five reasons for influential individuals in a region, and for decision-makers at companies and civic organizations, to support their regional TIME community.

  • Source of potential employees.
    • The TIME community is a major source of easy-to-access potential employees in the tech, innovator, maker and entrepreneurial categories.
  • Increased job creation in your region.jobs creation
    • The entrepreneurs of the TIME community are the region’s residents who are most likely to create new high-wage and high-growth companies and to expand existing companies, creating new jobs for your region. Research shows that small and medium companies create a majority of new jobs in the US.
  • Increased retention and immigration of TIME people.
    • Regions with a non-innovative culture and limited opportunities for people interested in work/play TIME activities usually have significant emigration of existing TIME community members and minimal immigration of new TIME community members. Most highly motivated people who want to drive disruptive innovation have to move to regions with a thriving TIME community to participate in work/play opportunities that are meaningful to them.
  • Building the culture for a resilient and sustainable regional economy.
    • A region without a thriving TIME community is poorly suited to adapt to strategies that will most successfully improve the local economy over the next twenty years. One challenge to improving the culture to be more resilient is that a region’s socioeconomic metrics may not be negative enough to drive meaningful change unless a virtual critical mass is connected is developed to disruptive innovationcatalyze and facilitate culture and economy changes. A strong TIME community creates additional attractive work/play opportunities for highly-intelligent, experienced, and motivated people who will drive change and improve the region’s economy.
  • Opportunities to invest in disruptive innovation and startups.
    • Supporting your region’s TIME community will bring long term opportunities to invest in disruptive innovation and startups with goals of delivering 10 – 20X improvement rather than 10 – 20% improvement. TIME community support will also create more regional opportunities to participate in emerging technologies or the global economy.

Get Involved. Support Your TIME Community.

Getting involved with and supporting your region’s TIME community means EVENTS!

Participate in TIME events. Launch new TIME events and projects. Support TIME events, projects, and groups by sponsoring or partnering with them.

If you are an individual interested in getting involved with more tech, innovation, maker, or entrepreneurial activities, contact Bob Waldron at bwaldron (at) gmail [dott] com. I will help you come up with a couple ways to start connecting with your region’s TIME community! 🙂

If you’re an influential individual in your region or a decision-maker at company or civic organization who wants to support your region’s TIME community but aren’t sure how to start doing that, contact me at bwaldron (at) gmail [dott] com. I’ll be happy to help you identify specific ways to start doing that in your area! 🙂

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The Green Bay region might refer to the state-defined statistical area which has a population of 180,000, the official US Census metropolitan statistical area, which has a population of over 350,000, or it could refer to a more informally-defined area which includes people in Green Bay itself, the adjacent cities, villages, and towns like De Pere, Ashwaubenon, and Humboldt. The informal Bay Area essentially includes everyone in the vicinity of Green Bay who feels it’s worth their time and effort to get involved in the region’s activities of particular interest to them. The same concepts applies to the Appleton / Fox Cities area, which has an official US Census population of about 400,000.wisconsin red NE

NE Wisconsin officially refers to 18 counties in the northeast section of Wisconsin with a population of 1.2 million, but more informally, and for the purposes of this post and the TIME community, refers to people who are:

  • In the Green Bay area, the Appleton / Fox Cities area, and the Fond du Lac area.
  • Located close enough to US-41 between Fond du Lac and Marinette to be interested in and participate in activities in other cities along the Hwy 41 corridor.
  • Located outside the Hwy 41 corridor (in large cities like Sheboygan, medium-size cities like Sturgeon Bay, and smaller villages or towns like Bailey’s Harbor or Keshena) who are interested in and participate in activities in other cities in the 18 counties.

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Next Meetup For Personal Digital Home

2nd Meetup For PDH

It’s time to organize the next meetup for the Personal Digital Home (PDH) project.

red flagThe recent articles about Google deactivating an artist’s account, essentially deleting over a decade of writing and art, raised a red flag and were the kick in the butt I needed to schedule the second meetup for PDH.

What’s PDH?

PDH is “the starting point for your digital life.“ The PDH concept is essentially One Site To Rule Them All, your data storage shed, control panel and cyberspace digital presence. A PDH website is intended to give you more control and make you more effective at interacting with all things digital. The first step for each person who wants a PDH will be to create their own website.

You’re here because you know something. What you know, you can’t explain, but you feel it.*

You want to be in control of your digital life, and you’re not. PDH changes all that — it puts you in control of your digital life!

Matrix, you know something

To learn more about PDH, see “WordPress: Default Personal Digital Home (PDH)” and other posts linked at the bottom of that initial post about the PDH project.

The first PDH meetup was at the June 20, 2016, session of the Appleton Makerspace Coder Cooperative (CC).

2nd Meetup — What We’ll Do

2nd meetup PDHThe second PDH meetup will be a three hour discussion-work session on July 24, 30, or 31, depending on which day works best for others. During the next couple days I’m going to contact a bunch of people who might be interested in getting involved with PDH to see which of the three days are open for them. If you’re interested in participating in the second meetup, contact me at bwaldron (at) gmail [dott] com.

There are so many different concepts and issues involved in the PDH concept that it’s hard to prioritize what to work on first. My proposed agenda for the second meetup has three main items, but I’m also open to talking about or working on other aspects of PDH. The three tentative talking points are:

  1. Refine definition of PDH
  2. Develop reliable backup system
  3. Work on alpha version of WordPress PDH

We’ll definitely start out by talking about what PDH is or should be. But depending on what others are interested in, we might spend the rest of the meetup on aspects of PDH other than a reliable backup system and alpha version of WordPress PDH. Below is an expanded version of what I’m proposing we consider working on.

  • Refine definition of PDH
    • Functional description — what will it do
    • Component description — what parts we think are needed to have the desired functionality
    • Hardware, software, services
  • Develop, document, and build reliable backup system
    • Learn from recent Google account deactivation — take action
    • Secure and private — foundations of backup system
    • Onsite and offsite
    • Scheduled data recovery / restore
    • Maximum automation, minimum user responsibilities
    • Long term plan (50-year?)
  • Work on alpha version of WordPress PDH
    • WordPress Personal Digital Home, taglineIndieWeb has done a lot of work on using a WordPress approach for the Decentralized Web
    • WordPress powers 25%+ sites on the web; immediate traction for PDH
    • Philosophy of Automattic and Matt Mullenweg appear to align well with PDH
    • Quicker start for alpha version because we’re not building from scratch

We’re still working out the details of where we’ll meet. I’ll post an update after the location is determined.

If you’re interested in the concept of the Personal Digital Home, I hope to see you at the second meetup!

* paraphrased courtesy of The Matrix and IndieWeb

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Personal Digital Home & The Dangers Of Google

Red Flag Warning!

red flag 2A red flag warning was issued by the internet last week.

That red flag said you CANNOT rely on Google, Facebook, Apple, Dropbox or similar tech companies to store your data or files and always make it available to you.

If you want to always have your pictures, writings, songs, ebooks, email, and other data, information, files, or content available, you need to backup your data and consider getting involved with a project like IndieWeb, the Decentralized Web, or the Personal Digital Home.

Google Deactivates Artist’s Account

Last week I saw the Fusion.net article “Google deletes artist’s blog and a decade of his work along with it.” The article told how an artist and writer can no longer access deactivated google accountmost of his personal data and files from more than a decade of his life because Google deactivated his account. This article reaffirmed my commitment to developing the Personal Digital Home. According to the Fusion.net article:

Artist Dennis Cooper has a big problem on his hands: Most of his artwork from the past 14 years just disappeared. It’s gone because it was kept entirely on his blog, which the experimental author and artist has maintained on the Google-owned platform Blogger since 2002…”

A friend of mine saw a related Guardian.com article, “Dennis Cooper fears censorship as Google erases blog without warning,” and sent me a link to it. He is interested in working on the Personal Digital Home and knew I’d want to read about Cooper’s problems. The Guardian.com article gave a few more details regarding Cooper’s data “loss.”buh bye

Two weeks ago, writer and artist Dennis Cooper was checking his Gmail when something peculiar happened: the page was refreshed and he was notified that his account had been deactivated – along with the blog that he’d maintained for 14 years…Cooper updated DC’s blog six times a week, highlighting film, fiction and music he enjoyed…

The ramifications of the deactivation are severe. His newest gif novel, Zac’s Freight Elevator, which he’d been working on for seven months, was exclusively hosted on the blog and is now lost. His deleted email account also contained more than a decade’s worth of contacts, as well as offers to talk and perform…”

Free Speech Not In Terms Of Service

The Guardian.com article makes the point that Cooper’s account deactivation by Google may be related to censorship. It also points out that although the US Constitution (as ammended) guarantees free speech, that applies to public censorship, not censorship by a private corporation such as Google, Facebook or Apple. Those companies are free to define the terms of use for their services, and you have to decide how those terms of service may free speech noaffect you.

“…First amendment rights to free speech in the United States are constrained when one is operating in the world of corporations such as Google or Facebook. “In America you have first amendment rights but that only protects you against public censorship,” said Pati Hertling, an art lawyer and independent curator. “Because it’s Google, they’re a private corporation, it’s a private realm, they can do whatever they want.”

Google’s terms of services state they can “suspend or stop providing our services to you if you do not comply with our terms or policies or if we are investigating suspected misconduct”…”

Smokey The BackupBear: Only You Can Prevent Data Loss

smokey the backupbearFusion.net’s article points out this isn’t just Cooper’s problem. It’s not just the problem of the miniscule 0.0001% of Google’s users who have had their accounts deactivated. And it’s not just Google. Facebook and other tech companies work the same way. It is simply unwise and foolish to blindly expect Google or other companies on the web to store your data and rely 100% on them to make your data available to you for the next 100 years — or even for later today or tomorrow.

“…this doesn’t just reflect the archival woes of an experimental writer. It’s another reminder of Google’s role as arguably the world’s most powerful organization when it comes to preserving and storing information.

Google says that its “mission is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.” But whether or not it’s interested in maintaining a record of the past, or helping others do so, remains unclear…most of the archival projects Google touted in the early 2000s, such as Google News Archive and Google Groups, were quietly abandoned several years ago…

So the removal of Cooper’s blog doesn’t necessarily feel like a surprise so much as it does part of a quiet trend. As Baio puts it, “We can’t expect for-profit corporations to care about the past.” It’s a trend that suggests a conclusion that’s at once obvious and sad: if the internet is your archive, your archive isn’t safe.”

Even some people who work at Google are upset that Cooper’s Google account was deactivated, that Cooper can no longer access the writing, artwork, emails and other content he created, and that neither Cooper nor anyone else can view the artist’s blog. Guardian.com’s article says:

“…Three followers who work at Google launched simultaneous internal investigations into the blog’s closure. One senior Google staffer worked with Cooper to resolve the issue until 2am one night to no avail….”

data backupIf you want your data to always be safe and available, you need a reliable data backup system.

Most people don’t know how to set up and maintain a reliable data backup system. Also, people are lazy and they procrastinate, so even if they know how to set up and use a reliable backup, they might not do everything they should to keep their data safe.

Technology changes. Frequently. So the reliable-when-designed backup system will inevitably, at some point, no longer be reliable.

A reliable backup plan for data must include periodically copying your files to new data storage media. Your computer files have a limited shelf life on data storage media, like floppy disks (remember those?), CDs (remember those?), USB flash drives and hard drives. You can’t copy files onto storage media and expect it access it 50 years from now. Your grandchildren certainly won’t be able to access it 75 or 100 years from now. The data may be corrupted on the storage media. Or you might not even have the computer hardware, like a 5.25” floppy drive, to try and access the file.

Cooper was like just about every other computer user and internet services user. It is certain that the number of consumers who have a reliable system for backing up all their data and files is less than 10%. The number is probably less than 1%. Cooper knew he should have his data and files backed up. He just didn’t do it…

Back Up Today (And Tomorrow…)

In closing, the Guardian.com article quoted Cooper.

“…His advice to other artists who work predominantly online is to maintain your own domain and back everything up. “As long as you back everything up. I don’t see really the danger,” he said. “But if you’re at the mercy of Google or some place like Google, obviously I’m a living example of not to be blind like that and think that everything is hunky dory.”

Cooper lost his digital life.backup

If you don’t want to lose your digital life, do the work required to set up, properly maintain, and update a reliable backup system.

Somewhere between 90% and 99.999% of the people who read about Cooper losing his digital life will not change and do the work required to make sure they won’t lose their digital life.

IndieWeb, Decentralized Web, Personal Digital Home

If you want to help improve the web so people can own their data and not be in danger of losing their digital lives, start working on a project like IndieWeb, the Decentralized Web, or the Personal Digital Home.

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Google TakeoutFor starters on your data backup work, if you use Google services, like Gmail or Blogger, go to Googe Takeout RIGHT NOW and create an archive of your Google data, then download it to your personal storage media (probably an external hard drive?) as soon as you get the download links from Google.

If you’re interested in discussing the issues in this post, including the Personal Digital Home, contact Bob Waldron at bwaldron (at) gmail [dott] com.

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July​ ​16,​ ​2016:​ ​News​ ​&​ ​Views​ ​Roundup​ ​For​ ​Events​ ​Wranglers

Presented below for keeping you up-to-date and as July 16th’s potential fodder for your occupational bag of tricks are a selection of recent events wrangling news and views. If any of the items below appeals to your inner events wrangler, click the headline link and read the article in its entirety.

What’s the Worst Thing that Could Happen at Your Meeting?EMT ambulance

What’s your worst-case meeting scenario? A terrorist attack? A tornado strike on your venue? An attendee turning violent? A speaker dying on the dais? A website hack that exposes your participants’ personal information?…

It’s up to you to identify all the possible things that could go wrong, then find ways to avoid, minimize, or eliminate unacceptable risks. Also on your already crowded desk: To keep looking for and evaluating new risks that crop up—say, the Zika virus or an economic upheaval—and find ways to mitigate any adverse effects that may happen despite your best intentions…”

Last Saturday I started off the week’s aggregated news and views with a non-serious article, so today I’m taking the reverse approach. Recent event tragedies and potential disasters include:

  • Bastille Day Celebration, Nice, France — almost 100 people killed and hundreds wounded by terrorist
  • Bataclan theater concert, Paris, France — 89 people killed and many others wounded by terrorists
  • 2016 Summer Olympics, Brasil — Zika virus concerns cause some athletes to drop out

The above article is a totally-serious look at how to prepare for issues that could turn an event into your worst nightmare. Everyone, wrangler and attendee alike, assumes their event won’t have a disaster or tragedy. Most humans go through their daily lives with the basic premise that bad life-changing events will happen to someone else. Doing that makes it easier to enjoy each day and to look forward to the next day.

But because the events wrangler is responsible for the safety of each attendee, as well as the success of the event, some level of risk management should be included in every event you take on. You may not need to put major planning into preventing or dealing with terrorist attacks or Zika virus, but you should at least have a plan for dealing with severe illness or a death during your event, cybersecurity problems, and failure of your internet access or sound system.

The 3 Big Problems With Your Marketing Event Metrics

In today’s data-driven marketing world, wouldn’t it seem crazy to spend the most money on the most poorly measured marketing channel? Strange as it is, it’s still happening. Events continue to dominate marketing budgets, while event success and ROI are measured poorly or not at all. The problem isn’t with events, but the metrics we use to determine event success. Here are three of the biggest problems with event metrics and how to fix them:

  1. Lack of data…
  2. Setting the wrong event goals…
  3. Calculating ROI the wrong way…”

event ROIDuring an event this week, we had a discussion about recruiting sponsors and measuring the ROI (return on investment) for those sponsors. Clearly defining, measuring, and documenting sponsor benefits and ROI is an important issue for every events wrangler. Some sponsors may be totally satisfied with a one-page summary of the meeting, an assortment of event photos, a two-minute event video, and an attendee list. Other organizations or people who fund your event might want a comprehensive report listing results for each agreed-upon event success criteria, a line-item spreadsheet showing both budgeted and actual expenses, a ten-minute debrief presentation, and a five-minute opening-to-closing professionally-edited event video which includes three 20-second attendee interviews.

Regardless of where sponsor ROI expectations lie on the continuum from minimal and informal to professional, detailed, and quantified, those expectations should be discussed and documented before event planning begins. My preference is to propose, based on my perception of the sponsor’s motivations for funding the event, a reasonable package of success criteria and documentation that can definitely be delivered and doesn’t create unrealistic expectations.

I’ve developed a flexible Event Benefits, Documentation & ROI base package for use in pitching event proposals. If the sponsor feels additional items are needed in that package, we discuss options that will help them feel their money was wisely spent and agree on the event deliverables. The key to satisfied and repeat sponsorships is developing realistic event sponsor expectations, then delivering on clear success criteria and event documentation.

Your Team-Building Dilemma Solved with Five Essential Questions

With myriad offerings to ponder, choosing the right team-building activity can be a daunting challenge…What proves motivating and memorable for one group is often completely off-target for another…Do your workers have a healthy dose of competition? If so, Jacobs counsels looking for an activity that delivers a true sense of victory to adrenaline junkies…

Is creativity king at your office? For a classically right-brained group, Watson Adventures counsels an off-the-wall activity such as the company’s Team Photo Challenges, which are all about thinking differently with prompts designed to encourage creative results.


Designing an event for the “Brainy Bunch”? Would your group more happily tackle a heated debate than a game of football? Time to celebrate their cerebral side…

Does the mere mention of refreshments get your team’s attention? Some personalities think, and perform better, with challenges that stimulate the senses…”

Even if your event isn’t just for one organization, you should still consider team-building activities which engage attendees and build relationships. The last activity mentioned in the excerpt above focuses on refreshments. Consider blending relationship building, team building, and experiential events with foodie workshops, e.g. a gelato-making session.

gelato

Bucket & Bay Craft Gelato Company

The owners of Jersey City, New Jersey-based Bucket & Bay Craft Gelato Company will do “a demonstration class with elements of hands on participation (for those interested). They provide a glimpse into the world of gelato making and an adventure to remember. An important part of every event is (of course) the sampling of gelato, often organized as a guided blind tasting.” Your event may not have a nearby craft gelato company to help you out, but there may be other craft foodie vendors who will provide attendees with a fun, tasty, nutritious, and unique relationship-building session.

12 Things Event Planners Can Learn From Pokemon Gopikachu

The latest gaming craze of Pokemon Go can teach event planners a lot of about what attendees want from the blending of digital and live experiences. I think I have the recipe for why Nintendo’s Pokemon Go mobile game is such a massive hit and I believe there are a number of lessons here for event planners to learn from…So what does any of this have to do with event planning? Turns out, a lot. I’ve deconstructed what made this game so mass-adopted that it currently has more active users than Twitter…

  1. Star Power…Even when you have a great product, star power matters. When you are planning a conference, as good as your industry speaker’s content will be… celebrities sell tickets. They also capture imaginations…a big name and a compelling story attracts larger audiences…”

If you’re a PokéPlayer or want to consider incorporating Pokémon Go or other AR elements in your event, you’ll probably enjoy this article. You might also want to look at my post from earlier this week, “Pokémon Go & Social Interaction.”

pokemon goIf you’re the type of events wrangler who wants to experiment with the latest trends because you see clear potential benefits for your attendees, you could have every interested person at the event download Pokémon Go (the few who don’t already have it on their smartphone), form teams of four to eight people, give a short overview of the game, then fire the starter’s pistol for an hour or two of catching wild Pokémon. All sorts of relationship-building possibilities could be built into an event like this, from teaching the game to fellow team members who are Pokémon Go noobs to collaboration between small teams.

If you want to have a Pokémon Go component in your event but are more conservative or don’t want to figure out how to best leverage this social phenomenon, hire an experiential consultant to run your PokéSession…or maybe hire a group of local teen or millennial PokéPlayers…

5 Creative Ways to Celebrate National Ice Cream Monthstrawberry ice cream

July is National Ice Cream Month, and this year’s National Ice Cream Day is on July 17…ice cream has more than $50 billion in annual global sales, and people in the United States consume the most ice cream in the world (about 18.4 liters of ice cream per person every year). Thus, unsurprisingly, ice cream is a beloved treat by event guests. Here are five creative ways to make ice cream the center of a memorable event.

  1. Raise money for a good cause..
  2. Create a promotion for television or movies…
  3. Commemorate a milestone…
  4. Offer the unexpected…
  5. Invent unique ice cream flavors…”

ice cream makerToday’s post started out with a serious issue, so I’ll close on a more fun note which also relates to the mention above of a gelato-making session for your event. If you can’t find a nearby company to do the gelato session, maybe you can find a company to do a homemade ice cream event. Or you can just buy enough ice cream makers so there is one for every six people. Then do a small-group ice cream making event, and have each team decide which team member gets to take the ice cream maker home (or have it shipped to them).

If that’s too much work for your July event, order Peanut Buster Parfaits and Dilly Bars from a Dairy Queen or have a craft ice cream vendor cater a variety of custom flavors.

Events Wrangler Tip — If you do an ice cream activity at your event, be aware of potential challenges for attendees outdoors during extra-hot summer weather…

ice cream melting

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101: Post #, Unconferences, Blogging, Highway, Ideas

Post # 101

According to my WordPress stats dashboard, this is post number 101 for Events Wrangling.

101Back in April, in the early days of this blog, I wrote the post “100…150…200 Consecutive Days” in which I set a goal of publishing a post on at least 200 consecutive days. Well, I’m halfway to that goal now, and it’s been fun thus far.

When I go on a road trip, four hours seems to last a long time if I’m only going on a five-hour journey. Similarly, if one has a goal of writing 120 consecutive daily posts (or 3 months worth), getting to the point of 101 consecutive posts would seem like a relatively long trudge. On the other hand, the first four hours of an eight-hour trip or four-day trip seem to fly right by. Because of that same mind-altering effect of perspective and expectations, the first 100 posts of this 200-post Journey seem to have flown right past in a flash.

Writing and publishing a post hasn’t seemed overly taxing on most days, although on the days immediately following my bout with food poisoning, it was a struggle to put together more than five or six words that made sense (to the extent that my words ever make sense), and it was even more of a struggle to proofread and publish them in a blog post.

timezonesAlso, in the early days of my Events Wrangling publishing, I didn’t realize that my WordPress account timezone was set five hours ahead. I just assumed WordPress would set the publish time for my blog the same as the clock setting on my laptop, which is generally local time where I am. But one day I noticed that WordPress was showing the same publishing date for posts that were written on two consecutive days. I couldn’t figure out what was going on at first, but then I poked around in my WordPress account and found the timezone off by five hours. That meant when I published a post after 7 PM local time, WordPress would stamp it as having been published after midnight (i.e. the next day). So I was sort of publishing in the future! 🙂 I promptly changed the timezone setting to correct that minor issue.

I’m looking forward to the next hundred posts. There are still hundreds of post topics I’d love to ramble on about, although another one of my goals is to work on writing shorter posts which still feel like they’re worth publishing. It’s challenging to cram all the thoughts about one topic zipping around my neural network into a cohesive story which is short enough that people will take time to read it…

Unconferences 101

unconference 2One of the informal goals for this blog is to be an advocate and resource for participant-driven events such as unconferences. I’m writing a series of posts about unconferences, which began with “Events Wrangling Basics For Unconferences.” There is also a separate page / tab on this blog for Unconference Resources.

[Which reminds me, I need to spend a few hours working on that page to make it more useful and complete…]

The article “How far does the Pokémon brand have to carry Pokémon Go?” examines in detail the value users can add to Pokémon Go and how user-generated value contributes to the success of gaming platforms. In today’s internet-connected world, there are many other examples of users creating tremendous value pikachuor being the driving force behind events and movements. When the users have the permission and tools for making their desires known and helping push their own agenda, that’s a great start towards making something people want.

The best way to get people to support and be involved with an activity is to convince them it was their idea to start with. Well, if an event is participant-driven, it pretty much was their idea to begin with. No convincing needed. From my perspective, “users” will add a tremendous amount of value if only the events wranglers will let them and can figure out how to effectively involve them in the design and execution of events.

If you feel there is significant value in highly-engaged meeting attendees but you don’t want to go to the hardcore unconference end of the event spectrum where every event goer is a participant and there are no attendees, check out Adrian Segar’s Conferences That WORK. His goal is to “create engaging conferences around the learning your attendees really want and need…to build meaningful, mutually beneficial connections between participants.”

Blogging 101

An intentional goal for the Events Wrangling blog is to improve my blogging and writing skills.

blogging fundamentalsYou may be thinking that’s a fitting goal and wishing me luck. And hoping that the improvement happens soon. So do I.

To assist in my quest for Bob’s Better Blogging, I enrolled in the Blogging 101 course, also know as Blogging: Fundamentals, at Automattic’s WordPress.com Blogging University. I learned a few more blogging skills and tips by completing that course, but still have a lonnnnng way to go.

I definitely need to take Blogging 102, or Blogging 201, whichever comes next after 101. In addition to Blogging: Fundamentals, WordPress.com’s Blogging U also offers the courses below, all for the nominal registration fee of zero, which happens to be my target price point.

There are also other free online courses designed to help you become a better blogger, but there are only so many hours in day, and not all of them can be spent blogging.

Highway 101

101 highwayI mentioned road trips at the start of this post. One of the roads I mentioned in “Road Trip Events, Part 2: History” was US Highway 101, which goes from Los Angeles, California, USA, to Tumwater, Washington. Of the 1540 miles of road between those two cities, my favorite miles are the ones that go through Humboldt County, California, especially the ones near Arcata. Redwood trees, almost-mountains, Pacific Ocean, mist-in-the-forest, and, at times, a two-lane road twisting and turning to avoid huge trees that have grown tall over hundreds of years. The best road trips ever happen on 101…

When Automattic hires me as an Events Wrangler, I can guarantee that at some point I’ll be on Highway 101 in Arcata while on my way to or from ahumboldt redwoodsn hours-long online session of events-focused work. I already know of at least six Arcata-area locations with reliable WiFi and an ambiance well-suited to a working Automattician. When not working, I’ll be walking through the redwoods, watching the Pacific Ocean waves roll in, or enjoying the nearby mountains. And maybe I’ll even be helping Humboldt residents organize and put on WordCamp Humboldt for people from Arcata, Eureka, McKinleyville, Fortuna, Petrolia and other far-flung parts of the county.

101 Post Ideas

I’m an engineer, so it seems useful to me to develop a list of future ideas to write about on this blog. I think I had a list of 20 topics when I wrote my first post for Events Wrangling. 100 posts later, I think that list has increased to approximately 101 ideas to write about. Some people have said they can’t think of anything to write about. I’m on the other extreme of “what should I write about?” There are so many things to write about that it’s mildly annoying not to have time to write all the posts that are struggling to be launched into cyberspace.

My Halfway-Post pretty much wrote itself. My mind is already thinking about post #201, wondering what it will say, hoping that the post quality has improved by then, and curious about whether I’ll revise my goal of 200 upward to a more ambitious goal of 365, 500, or even 1,000 consecutive daily posts.

My mind is also wondering if by the time post 200 rolls around I’ll be an Events Wrangler (upper case) working for Automattic… [By the way, they’re hiring!]

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Day-After-Report: 920_sec Meetup, July 2016

July 920_sec Meetup

Last night was the second gathering of 920_sec, the monthly Information Security meetup network for NE Wisconsin infosec professionals, IT professionals interested in learning more about security related topics, Researchers, Hackers, and all things in-between!

920_infosecThe meetup happened at The Bar Holmgreen Way in Green Bay. When I arrived at close to the listed start time of 5:30 PM, the meetup organizer and one other participant were sitting at a large table between the front door and the pool tables. Between 10 and 15 people came to the meetup, with some of them showing up pretty close to 5:30 and others straggling in between 6:30 and 7 PM. If you thought about coming but decided not to because you could get there fairly close to 5:30, no worries. Just show up whenever you can make it. I think the people who arrived at 7 PM enjoyed themselves just as much as those who got there close to the listed start time.

As of July 14 there are 28 people registered for the 920_sec meetup group, and 8 had RSVPd for last night’s event. Most people seemed to be from the Green Bay area, but Appleton and Milwaukee were also represented. As word spreads about the group, we should be able to get people participating from a variety of NE Wisconsin cities. The first few meetups moon man 2will likely be in Green Bay because that’s where the group organizer lives and where a majority of participants are located. If there is significant interest in the Appleton and the Fox Valley, 920_sec might schedule a meeting there.

There was no agenda last night, just talking with the people sitting near you, getting to know each other a little or catching up with those you already knew, chatting about random topics, and telling war stories or tall tales whilst swilling water, soda, and beer and eating supper or munchies (mozzarella sticks were my favorite). Last night was strictly a social gathering. It was fun to meet some new hard-core geeks from NE Wisconsin and hear what things they were working on or interested in.

Future 920_sec Meetups

social meetup in barI’m looking forward to seeing what happens at the next several meetings. The format of future 920_sec meetups will no doubt take a few months and a number of side conversations to figure out. The group has a lot of really smart people in it, but they’re also busy people, so they’ll have to find significant value in the meetup if they’re going to add another event to their already-full schedules. That’s a perennial problem for Meetup.com groups and for member groups in general. Some of the group’s members may just want a social gathering, while others might prefer a short presentation followed by group discussion, an informative talk, just an organized group-presentationdiscussion about a high-interest infosec topic, or other type of coordinated group activity.

The meetup organizer, with input from group members who strongly prefer specific types of meetup activity, will need to decide whether to push the group toward one meetup format or a combination of formats. Then the group members will decide if they get value from that type of infosec meetup, and they’ll vote yea or nay with their feet. A few topics that a coordinated group activity could involve are:

  • Security challenges or incidents related to NE Wisconsin companiescybersecurity digital lock
  • Security incidents outside NE Wisconsin
  • Open source security practices
  • 920_sec organizing an infosec event for local organizations or general public
  • Meet onsite at NE Wisconsin companies (w/ food and beverages sponsored and delivered)
  • Invite lead security people from NE Wisconsin companies to talk to the group or to discuss a security challenge with the group to get their input
  • Group members sharing infosec skills in demo or workshop
  • Discuss and work on an infosec presentation topic for a NEWDUG meeting, NEWCodeCamp, at a school or university, or to local organizations
  • Ethical hacking session
  • Practice CTF wardriving in preparation for Cyphercon
  • Acceptable-risk variant of walll of sheepishness to demonstrate mobile device insecurity at a public meetup location
  • Distributing Playboy flash drives in random parking lots
  • Building well-designed Unsubscribe buttons to get high click-through rates
  • Security-related Pokémon Go outing

Connecting The NE Wisconsin Infosec Community

I’m not an infosec practitioner, just a tech enthusiast who is aware of some of his shortcomings in the area of security knowledge and practices, a tech community builder WordPress Personal Digital Home, taglineand events wrangler who sees value in a connected NE Wisconsin infosec community, and someone who is working on a major initiative which has a foundational need for strong security. There is also a second major initiative I’ve proposed which has infosec as its primary focus. It would be fantastic if that initiative could get some traction, but the project requires a lead infosec person with a passion for improving the overall security of organizations and residents in NE Wisconsin.

There are probably 100 to 500 NE Wisconsin people who didn’t show up last night who are responsible for infosec in area organizations or who are or would like to be (think “students”) involved in security as a personal interest. Seems like at least 25% of them would want to connect and participate in periodic meetups. So that’s at least 25 more people, and possibly 100+, who should know about the 920_sec meetups!

The dual challenge ahead for the group is (1) to develop a high-value meetup format and culture and (2) to make all the right people in NE Wisconsin aware of 920_sec.

Cyphercon Tickets!!!cyphercon

Tickets are scheduled to be available starting August 1st for Cyphercon, Milwaukee’s first and only hacker conference. The event sold out quickly last year, so make sure to get your tickets right away this year!

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Pokémon Go & Social Interaction

The Pokémon Go Phenomenon

pokemon goEveryone else is doing it — so I’m jumping on the bandwagon before it rolls out of sight.

Pokémon Go.

Today’s post takes a look at Pokémon Go, an augmented reality (AR) game that became a runaway hit in the past week. I’ll discuss three types of events relevant to Pokémon Go, taking a close look at one of those types of events. The three event types are:

  1. Emerging tech nexus event
  2. Events with a primary focus on AR
  3. AR and social interaction

Emerging Technology Nexus

The public launch of Pokémon Go is a watershed moment for AR, an emerging technology nexus. A turning point for widespread understanding of what AR means. This smartphone game may become the killer app for AR. Watershed moment, nexus, turning point and killer app each have slightly different meanings, and I’m not sure which term is best applied to Pokémon Go.

pokemon go in useBut it is certainly more than just another time-killing cell phone game. This is even more than an interesting and engaging mobile game. It’s not just another Angry Birds, and it’s not Candy Crush. It could be bigger than Minecraft, which Microsoft bought for $2.5 billion. The true impact of Pokémon Go may end up being far greater than Angry Birds, Candy Crush, Minecraft AND Tetris.

It requires the key ingredient of time to know for sure if an event is a watershed moment, nexus or turning point. We need to know how much money the Pokémon Go franchise makes, how many people get absorbed into the game (you don’t just play a killer app), how pokemon go nexusmany millions of hours per week the human race spends (wastes?) on it, and what subsequent games, AR applications and related technologies Pokémon Go gives birth to.

Paul Graham and Jessica Livingston of Y Combinator say Make Something People Want. Well, Om Malik says this is something he wants, something other people will also want.

Once we can assess the long term results and impacts of Pokémon Go, we’ll know if this truly has been a momentous event.

AR-Focused Events

The second type of event which could be part of the fallout from Pokémon Go is AR-focused events. This category of events could start out with ones centered on Pokémon Go itself. Local meetups of P-Goers. Regional events, such as a Pokémon Go convention or IRL MMO battle. Some type of LARP involving Pokéballs, Pokéstops, Pokégyms, and other essentials of the game. Or maybe none of those acronyms will stick or be pertinent. You see, watershed moments tend to spawn new acronyms and concepts.

pokemon go crowd

PokeCrowd: Santa Monica, California, USA

There will undoubtedly be local events with hundreds of dedicated PokéPlayers. Events in major metro areas will draw thousands of fans, and Niantic will no doubt have teams of events wranglers figuring out how to facilitate real-time in-person gatherings of tens of thousands. It boggles the mind to consider the technology, game play, economic, and sociological possibilities involved in both those massive meetups and in the global game itself.

trough of disillusionmentAfter the inevitable “trough of disappointment,” the Schumpeterian swarming of innovative people and startups inspired and motivated by playing Pokémon Go will kick off a wave of innovation in AR. Whether that wave will gather energy and build momentum depends on a multitude of unpredictable factors. But I know that trend surfers and AR aficionados will be catching the wave and riding it as far as they can. This wave has the possibility to be the epic wave of the decade, or it could fizzle out and be a disappointing ankle buster.

AR-focused events may be important for events wranglers in two ways. First, many large AR-focused events will need a person coordinating the event, taking care of details that won’t take care of themselves. Secondly, AR-focused events may create a whole new type of ice-breaker or relationship-building activity. If you’re interested in ways to spice up the social portions of your events, keep an eye on this type of tech.

AR-Enabled Social Interaction

smartphone isolation 5The third type of AR event is a category which catalyzes and facilitates social interaction. This third type of event is one I feel holds huge promise for technology to have a positive impact on society. Pokémon Go-inspired location-based AR could be the key to creating beneficial social interaction in a world of smartphone addiction.

If you live in mainstream America or in other parts of the world with widespread prevalence of smartphones and ubiquitous cellular or WiFi internet access, you have likely observed smartphone addiction-in-action. This addiction takes many forms, but three common variants are:

  1. Parents with their kids
  2. Groups of friends or family
  3. Random people in public places

Parents & Smartphones

smartphone isolation 3I can’t help feel smartphones and tablets are hurting parenting more than they’re helping it. If you look for this flavor of smartphone addiction, you’ll find it everywhere. Dads with their young child or children sitting at McDonald’s. Dad’s glued to his smartphone while his kid(s) sits quietly, munching on the meal, looking lonely and bored. Or lonely and sad, probably wishing that dad would pay more attention to them than to the stupid phone. Many of the kids are fidgeting or being downright disruptive to get dad’s attention.

smartphone isolation 2It’s not all dads — you can find mom at Starbucks, drinking her caffè latte or frappuccino, intently posting on Facebook and checking out what other moms have said. Meanwhile, her neglected child or brood has to make do with the donut and juice box mom bought to keep them from getting too restless or bored. Some moms know it takes more than a donut and juice box, so they share their addiction and give their three-year old a tablet to keep them occupied (no cartoons on TV for them!) and give the eight-year old their own smartphone.

Friends & Family

Another addiction scenario is a group of friends or family members sitting together but interacting with their phones instead of the people sitting next to them. Well, to be totally accurate, many of them will be interacting with their phone AND with people next to them — via their phone. Texting, instagramming, snapchatting, FBing, tweeting, and other social media verbing. When observing a group of people gathered together but seemingly-separated by their mobile devices, one can’t help but wonder why they bothered getting together in one place.smartphone isolation

At least one photographer has captured in pictures the apparent isolation that can be created by these small technological marvels which are intended to connect us. Eric Pickersgill’s photos captured people interacting with phones instead of each other, then he removed the mobile devices from the pictures.

Strangers Together In Isolation

The third smartphone addiction often observed is probable-strangers in close proximity in public places who are all absorbed in whatever is happening on their phone rather than what is happening around them.

smartphone isolation 4Some people in public spaces are using their smartphones to deal with an immediate need, such as finding a restaurant, figuring out how to get to their destination, or answering an urgent personal or work text or email. Other people around them are absorbed in their phone because they’re bored — watching videos or checking Facebook is an easy and mindless way to pass time. Of even more dubious value is public use of smartphones to avoid interaction with others or to avoid looking like you don’t have a life.

Based on Pokémon Go social interaction I’ve read about in the past week, it feels like there’s a whole (augmented) world of possibilities for developing games and other applications that create more obvious social interaction in at least one of the above three addiction categories. I won’t try to predict what any of those AR applications or technologies might look like, but I know they’re coming, and I look forward to seeing them in action!

Are You A PokéPlayer?

Are you riding this technological and sociological wave? Want to experience this world-changing event for yourself?

Download Pokémon Go from Google Play or the Apple App Store. Then start up the game and begin catching wild Pokémon today! 🙂

Pokemon go 2

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Pokémon Go Events post update, 15 Jul 2016:

Overwhelming response to Pokémon Go events forces cancellation

Thousands of people in Sacramento have hit the streets looking for Pokémon. Rick Mears wanted to share the Pokémon Go experience with his friends, so he created an event on Facebook…But that event quickly became a big hit on social media. “It was almost a thousand people an hour,” Mears said. “It just kept growing and growing.”

When more than 6,000 people expressed interest in the event, Mears pumped the brakes.

“I was worried [about] disturbing the peace,” Mears said. “I checked with the county and there are some specific ordinance for events like these.” If a special event meets the definition, like if anticipated attendance will be greater than 200, then the organizer must submit a special events permit application, according to the City of Sacramento. That application must be submitted at least 60 days before the event…”

This is another case of modern laws struggling to deal with the connected world of today’s internet users. Rick was a law-abiding guy who didn’t want to get in trouble. In other cities, there are guaranteed to be PokéCrowds and Pokévents with thousands of people. And it would not be surprising if Sacramento still has a crowd of over 200 people show up at the time and place Rick Mears originally scheduled.

Will 22K people turn up to catch Pokémon in San Francisco on Wednesday?

“…The Facebook event for a San Francisco Pokémon Go crawl on Wednesday has 3,600 people confirmed in attendance, with another 18K “interested” in the event. “I had no idea that this event would reach such a large scope of people. I made this event at midnight, invited my facebook friends, and fell asleep,” the the organizer of the Facebook event, Sara Witsch, tells me. “I woke up to 500 people going. Within 24 hours, it reached 2k going and 11k interested. I only expected maybe a few hundred at most, if anyone at all…”

When I checked the FB site on July 15, the participant numbers had climbed to 6100 confirmed for the pub crawl and 25,000 interested. By July 20, the date of the event, there could be 10,000 to 50,000 people who show up to catch wild Pokémon or to just watch PokéPlayers

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Day-After-Report: Digital Fertilizer Meetup

Digital Fertilizer July 2016 Meetup

digital fertilizerLast night was the Digital Fertilizer (DF) startup community meetup for July 2016 at the Green Room Lounge in De Pere, Wisconsin, USA. Ben Johnson from Elegant Seagulls in Marquette, Michigan, sporting a fine black piratical eyepatch, regaled us with a presentation called “The Designer of Tales, Wrestler of Whales.” As the DF eyepatched ladpromo described it:

Through storytelling and visual experimentation, Ben Johnson and his team at Elegant Seagulls have helped companies like Forbes, ESPN, and Peak Designs connect, convert, and conquer. Ben will be talking about the importance of design storytelling, having empathy for your users, and not being afraid to go for it!

Short, Engaging, Clear Message

humpback whaleBen started out by telling us a short and engaging story with a clear message — about how he went on a whale-watching cruise when he was a lad. He got so excited about seeing a whale surface next to the cruise boat that he jumped out of the boat onto the whale, but got his eye seriously injured (knocked out??) by the whale. Thus the black eyepatch.

[Both the story and the need for an eyepatch were fictional…]

He then proceeded to talk about why companies and people need to tell short and engaging stories with clear messages. Very few listeners or potential customers will stick around for a long, non-engaging story, and there’s no reason to tell a story without an easily understood message.

Ben discussed how he tells his company’s story and how he uses empathy to figure out the best way to tell his clients’ stories. He also explained how he started his own company and some of the fun and challenges of being located in Marquette.

Elegant Seagulls

elegant seagullsElegant Seagulls is a creative agency that does web design, ecommerce, branding, and UI/UX design. They’re located in the tech remoteness of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula but are able to enjoy living in Marquette because their reputation brings them business from afar. I think they only have three clients anywhere near Marquette. Most are on the West Coast or East Coast, while others are in big cities or international locations. They get a good percentage of their work from Dribbble and from a design project where Ben did a “how I would redesign this site” project once a month for a whole year. Prospective clients who have seen Elegant Seagull’s design work in those two places often call Ben out of the blue and tell him they need his team for a project they’ve got coming up.

MarquetteIt sounds like a bigger challenge than finding paying work for the Gang of Elegant Gulls is finding tech talent. Due to the mix of industry sectors in the Marquette regional economy, the distance from any university with a nationally-ranked CS or Design program, the distance from major metropolitan centers, and the climate which is not exactly San Francisco Bay-like, there aren’t hordes of designers and developers burying Elegant Seagulls in mountains of resumes and creative portfolios. On top of that, I think it was mentioned that one employee got hired away from them by Google, and another got hired away by Apple. Hard to compete with those two tech titans. Certainly can’t outbid them. But that certainly says something about the quality of the team at Elegant Seagulls!

One question I asked Ben was about how a company’s website can most effectively tell the short attention spanstory they want their customers to hear, especially with respect to blog posts. Specifically, I was curious about that because of the tendency of web page visitors to move on after 15 seconds:

“…Chartbeat looked at deep user behavior across 2 billion visits across the web over the course of a month and found that most people who click don’t read. In fact, a stunning 55% spent fewer than 15 seconds actively on a page…”

and the tendency of most people, even if they stayed longer than 15 seconds, to not read an entire article on the web:

I’m going to keep this brief, because you’re not going to stick around for long. I’ve already lost a bunch of you. For every 161 people who landed on this page, about 61 of you—38 percent—are already gone…So now there are 100 of you left. Nice round number. But not for long! We’re at the point in the page where you have to scroll to see more. Of the 100 of you who didn’t bounce, five are never going to scroll. Bye!…wait a second, where are you guys going? You’re tweeting a link to this article already? You haven’t even read it yet!…Wait, hold on, now you guys are leaving too? You’re going off to comment?…

short attention span 2I better get on with it. So here’s the story: Only a small number of you are reading all the way through articles on the Web…”

So I wanted to know Ben’s thoughts about whether the short attention spans of fickle web readers can be countered by great design and storytelling in the blog posts. Or, if blog posts aren’t the best way to tell a company’s story, what is a more effective way. We didn’t have time to arrive at a (free) complete answer to the issue, but we had a great discussion.

John Spigarelli, the director of marketing for Elegant Seagulls, came down from Marquette with Ben. (They were both heading down to Chicago on Tuesday for a workshop with a client located there.) I was lucky enough to be able to chat with both Ben and John after the presentation and learned lots about exciting tech and entrepreneurial goings-on in the Marquette area. If NE Wisconsin is lucky, maybe we’ll be able to talk them into coming down again sometime!

[I’ll send Ben and John a link to this post, along with an offer to publish a guest post from them if they see value in correcting any mangling I did of the Elegant Seagulls story…]

Elegant Seagulls, Digital Fertilizer

 

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