Twitter 101: Ten Things To Do When Tweeting An Event

A couple of weeks ago, a good friend of mine that works for the National Federation of the Blind e-mailed me about a protest in NYC of the Authors Guild by the Reading Rights Coalition. The protest was designed to raise awareness regarding the guild's pressuring to disable the text to speech feature in the Kindle-2. We had been speaking a bit about Twitter, Facebook, and social media in general and how it could be used by non-profits to raise awareness of key issues. In order to show my support, I decided that I would tweet the event. This would be my first time covering an event in any type of capacity.

Working with software teams, one of the mantras I preach is owning your results. Things that we do well, we get to celebrate. Things that we struggle or fail at, however, we get to learn and grow from these experiences. Going into the protest, I felt I was grounded, prepared and ready. Coming out of it, I realized that if I had an opportunity to do it over, I would have done many things differently. That being said, here is a list of ten things to do and consider should you choose to tweet an event.

  1. Make sure that your event is tweet worthy. This means that you should ensure that event has a following or audience that would be interested in following the event coverage on Twitter. If there is no demand for event coverage, then you should probably reconsider unless its very important to you that people know about this event.
  2. Create awareness about the tweet coverage prior to the event. While people accept them, no one really likes a last minute invitation to a party. They usually have plans, and it raises the question "why wasn't I invited sooner". If you can (and I recognize that this is not always possible), create some awareness for your tweet coverage. This can be done by visiting blogs that discuss the event and posting comments that speak to your intent to cover the event on Twitter. You can also promote your coverage of the event on Twitter. The more you promote the event, the larger your audience will be.
  3. When promoting the event, be sure to include your blog as well as any hashtags that will be used to track your tweets. Hashtags are used on Twitter to classify or group tweets based on subject matter or content. You want to use hashtags to define the "channel" that people will tune into on Twitter to follow your coverage. For the protest, I used #right2read and #kindle2 as hashtags, allowing anyone to search for these tags on and view my tweets.

    If you have a blog, be sure to blog about covering the event. Explain why you're doing it, why its important to you, and share with your readers the hashtags they can search for to follow your tweets. Promotion is key.
  4. Know the event's location / terrain. Before you can tweet the event, you should check out the event terrain / site, and make sure that nothing is in place that would impede your ability to cover the event. Typically, this means ensuring that you have Internet access or cellphone coverage. Find out before hand, and do not make the mistake of showing up and discovering that the event does not have Internet access or that your iPhone cannot get a signal. Also, make sure that you have access to power; you'll need to recharge your phone or laptop if their batteries run out.
  5. Choose and prepare your equipment. The day before the event, make sure that you have all your equipment ready and have verified that its all operational. This means verifying that your phone, laptop, and camera are all charged. It also means including any cables you need to charge these devices or to connect them to one another. If you can and have them, bring extra batteries for these devices. Also, do not forget your AIR card or wireless modem if you're using one. Lastly, consider bringing an digital audio recorder; you may want to record thoughts or conversations with people that you can comment about while you are tweeting or in your wrap-up.
  6. Review an agenda of the event activities. Depending on the event, there may be a formal agenda describing its activities. If one exists, get a copy of it and use the agenda to plan your coverage. On the Internet, the cliche "content is king" has never been more true than it is today. If there are specific people that you would like to speak to, hear, or interview, find out where they will be and plan on being in their company. Find interesting activities to tweet about, and your audience will appreciate it.
  7. Show up early and survey the event location. Make sure that you show up early for the event so that you have time to get settled, validate your Internet access works, and find locations where power is accessible should you need it. If the event has a large attendance, then definitely plan on being early so that you can secure a good seat / location.
  8. Before tweeting, get clear on what devices you'll use. In the field, Murphy's Law has a tendency to show itself and remind you that anything that can go wrong, often will. Before tweeting, make sure that you run a self-test against all your devices, ensure that they have power and are fully charged / operational, and know which device you'll start using and which will be a backup. Having a backup device (like a laptop or phone) is key, because you very well may run out of power after tweeting for a few hours. If you plan on taking pictures, work out how you will take pictures and upload them. Will you use a phone, or a camera? If you use a camera, how will you upload the pictures? Will this happen in real time?

    At the protest, I started with my iPhone via Tweetie but transitioned to my laptop and TweetDeck because of issues I had with AT&T and Tweetie (note: if you use Tweetie, do not send a tweet out until you verify that your last tweet went out successfully). Remember that often, something will go wrong. Fortune favors the prepared. Work these details out ahead of time, and you will have more time to cover the event.

  9. During the event, tweet often but practice good etiquette. Twitter etiquette is still being formed, but a number of commonly followed and enforced "rules of behavior" exist that should be adhered to. Tweet often, but make sure your tweets are relevant. When people ask you questions, answer them if you can. If more than one person is tweeting the event with you, thank them for your help. Take pictures and video.

    Remember that while tweeting the event, your responsibility is to provide as much interesting and relevant content about the event as you can. Have fun with it, but remember not to cross any behavior lines. If you have to think "is it appropriate to tweet this", then chances are it is not. When you are done tweeting, sign off and let your audience know you're finished.
  10. Provide a wrap-up of the event. If you have a blog, provide a wrap-up of the event and describe your experience tweeting. While you can say quite a bit in 140 characters, there will be moments where multiple things happen at once and in the moment you have to decide which of those things you will tweet about. The wrap-up is a great way to provide more insight into your experience, what you enjoyed, thought was funny, relevant, or interesting that may not have been conveyed in your tweets. Additionally, make sure to provide a link your tweets from
In the end, Tweeting the protest was an amazing experience, and I learned so much from it (most of which is in this post). Have you tweeted an event before? If so, let me know what you think about this list, and please include any comments on we can make it better.

Images credited to Tech cocktail and Benjamin Ellis under the Creative Commons License.


Posted at at 1:33 PM on Sunday, April 19, 2009 by Abraham | 0 Comments |   Filed Under: , , ,

More Old Media Embarassment: AP to Affiliate - No Soup For You!

So I'm a big Seinfeld fan, and one of my favorite characters from the series is the Soup Nazi.  For those unfamiliar with this Seinfeld character Wikipedia offers the following description:

"A stone-faced immigrant chef with a thick Stalin-esque moustache, he is renowned throughout Manhattan for his soups. He demands that all customers in his restaurant meticulously follow his strict queuing, ordering, and payment policies. Failure to adhere to his demands brings the admonishment, "No soup for you!", whereupon the customer is refunded and denied his or her order."

"No soup for you."  In 1995, that line became a pop  culture phenomenon and was used by just about everyone at one time or another to turn down a a request in an inconsiderate but somewhat funny manner.  Saying "no soup for you" is a lot like saying "I don't care that you're my customer even if you're acting very nice and going out of your way to let me know how much you want what I have. I'm going to not help you because I can and feel like being a jerk right now and like I said I don't care that you're my customer because I have plenty of those and oh yeah I know you want what I have that's why you're in line, stupid.".

Ouch, right? Being a customer and told "No Soup for You" sucks.  Completely.  

Well, that's basically what the A.P. said to an affiliate in response to the affiliate embedding video from the A.P.'s YouTube channel on their website.  TechCrunch's Erick Schonfeld has written a great series of articles on this and the AP leading up a few days before the incident down through the A.P.'s response and apology.  
  •  04/06 - Behind the A.P.'s Plan to Become the Web's New Cop.  The A.P. announces that thy will "begin to police the web" and "developer a system to track content distributed online to determine if it is being legally used".  Their content includes articles, video, headlines, etc. Clearly, the A.P. feels the need to protect their content, and is looking to implement a means that allows them to -- much in the same manner as the RIAA and movie studios have done with music and video.
  • 04/07 - That Whining Sound You Hear is the Death Wheeze of Newspapers.  Similar to the A.P., newspapers are complaining these days about the Web "stealing" both content and subscribers - which is leading to the death of newspapers as we've come to know them.  To give you an idea where in the death march of business newspapers are, their industry contracted by $7.5 billion last year.  They blame the web, in some way, but also realize they need the web if they want to continue existing; and there lies the drama.  
  • 04/08 - A.P Exec Doesn't Know It Has a YouTube Channel: Threatens Affiliate for Embedding Videos.  Well, it looks like all this talk by the A.P. about "protecting our content" at the Wednesday morning scrum got one executive super motivated to make a statement.  A radio station in Tennessee received a warning from an A.P. vice president of affiliate relations for posting videos from A.P.'s YouTube channel.  The exchange between the A.P. and the affiliate deserves to be called what it is: embarrassing, humiliating, and a reflection of the disconnect in their organization.
  • 04/09 - The A.P. Apologizes, Admits to a "Misunderstanding of YourTube Usage".   What a difference twenty-four hours makes.  Doing an about-face that was nearly as quick as the one Facebook did when it changed their TOS, the A.P. apologized and said in an official statement "There was a misunderstanding of YouTube usage when the Tennessee radio station was contacted by the Associated Press regarding the A.P's more extensive online video services".  Apparently, the A.P was trying to recommend a better video service to their affiliate, and decided to make their point with a threatening e-mail.  Like Erick said, "at least they apologized".
This belongs on the Daily Show; that's how funny, real, and stupid this story has become.

If I worked at the A.P., I would be embarrassed, and not because of the negative PR this type of snafu creates.  Instead, my embarrassment would come from the fact that my organization, a world leading news organization no less, clearly is not on the same page with each other about its content and how it can be accessed.  Not only that,  my organization does not seem to know who can use our content and how it can be used.  If you were the A.P., wouldn't affiliates be one of the people that you would want embedding You Tube videos? 

This brings me back, full circle, to the Soup Nazi.  I'd like to think that the A.P. cares about their relationship with affiliates.  As the organization is aware of, news comes from more sources now than ever before.  New blogs appear every day.  To make or report news today, all you need is a Twitter account and 140 characters.  Instead of jumping off the deep end with "no soup for you", the A.P. should considering asking "How would you like your soup".  To everyone.  Soup (or news, in this case), is a commodity; you can get it everywhere, and there are plenty of sources willing to offer you a taste of their soup for free.   Be careful A.P. and other Old Media outlets, or you might be the one hearing "no soup for you" from your affiliates and consumers.

Related Links


Posted at at 6:46 PM on Friday, April 10, 2009 by Abraham | 0 Comments |   Filed Under: , , , , ,

Wanna Fight? I bet myBrute is stronger than yourBrute.

If you are ever in a position where you're online, disagree with someone, and feel like you just cannot settle your differences through civil communication, have no fear:  myBrute is here for you.

MyBrute is a free "service" that allows you to create a virtual brute that can fight other brutes.  Registration is simple and painless, and in the end you get to choose your brute's gender, style, color, and vanity url (my vanityUrl is itsmrabraham2u).   You can then challenge someone by visiting their url.  Be warned.  MyBrute can be addicting (Google it, to see what I mean).  If you disagree with someone, though -- stop trying to negotiate agreement.  Simply tweet them your myBrute url, and watch the fireworks.  You won't win all the time, but when you do you can say "In your face". 

Thee are a few things to be aware of before playing. First, you don't get to control your brute during a fight.  Instead, you watch as the two brutes "fight it out" using an assortment of martial arts / weapon moves that will leave you entertained and possibly enthralled if you actually win. If you're into "leveling", there is a pupil feature that gives your brute experience based on the number of pupils you have under you. In the end, the game is pretty mindless. It's fun, too. Check it out.

Related Links


Posted at at 11:52 AM on Thursday, April 9, 2009 by Abraham | 10 Comments |   Filed Under: , ,

The Authors Guild Protest: Thoughts 24 Hours Later

Note: As I begin writing this post, the Reading Rights Coalition's online petition for allowing everyone access to eBooks has 4,280 signatures.  I'll get to why this is important in a moment.

Twenty four hours after covering the Reading Rights Coalition's protest of the Authors Guild, there are two central take-aways from yesterday's events that paint a picture of where both sides stand in the struggle for eBook accessibility, and in what direction they are moving.
The Authors Guild does not get it. 

In their official statement regarding the protest,  the Guild wrote six words that clearly demonstrate their disconnect from the millions of individuals that would benefit from the text to speech technology that was recently disabled in the Kindle2 by Amazon, largely because of pressure brought to bear by the Guild.  These six poorly chosen words may come to haunt them as they paint the Guild leadership as arrogant, out of touch, and insensitive.  No, it had nothing to do with the Kindle2.  Or copyright.  Or money, markets, and audio.  What did they say?

"This protest is unfortunate and unnecessary."  Really. 

Now, think back in your life when someone told you that something was unfortunate and unnecessary.  Who spoke like that?  Bullies. This smacks of the "I know what's best for you / who are you to question me / you should trust me" school of thought that may have worked before social media became mainstream, but definitely will not work today.  The guild is messaging like its 1975 -- when there were enough media outlets that you could put a story or statement out for newspapers, radio, and TV and it "was the truth".  People believed it.   After all, it was in the local paper.  Or on the radio.  Or, better yet, on the evening news.  If I ran the Reading Rights Coalition, I would pounce on this statement and mention it in every press release, interview, and media opportunity that presented itself.  I would have signs printed with this phrase ready for the next protest.  I would have t-shirts printed with a graphic of the Kindle2 and the text "Today's protest is unfortunate and unnecessary" inside it.  I mean, don't they proof read their statements?

The guild is not arguing a legal position; no authors' rights have been violated.  Their argument is about money, clinging to an old business model that has worked for a very long time, and ultimately control over technology.  That argument may have worked before digital media; it is not, however, grounded in today's reality.  File sharing did not kill the music industry as record executives warned us would happen.  Netflix just recently sent out their 2 billionth movie (a favorite of mine; Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist), and consumers have been able to rent or buy individual TV episodes on iTunes for what seems like forever. There is no arguing that digital media has increased the availability and accessibility of content.  With this came economic growth, not shrinkage.  Technology has always changed markets; that has never been illegal, and arguing that it should be is juvenile.  The Reading Rights Coalition should hope for Roy Blount Jr. and Paul Aiken continue maintaining this position in the classic, old media, "I know I'm right" way that they have handled things so far.  The guild clearly does not "get it" about creating community, engaging with customers, and doing business through the currency of relationships and trust.  

Social Media continues to change the world.

Now, this isn't anything new.  Specific to yesterday's event, no final outcome was decided.  The Authors Guild did not cave to the pressure of the protest and release a heartwarming, apologetic release where they promise to pressure Amazon to re-enable the text to speech feature (after they did the same to get Amazon to disable it).  During the protest, though, the event had:
  • An online petition, recording several signatures a minute.
  • Several bloggers covering the event and taking pictures news style.
  • Twitter being used to provide a real time description of events.
  • A streaming audio feed of the protest.
  • Streaming video coverage of the protest.
  • News coverage from traditional news outlets.
Here is what was interesting about how this event was covered; most of the coverage was executed through non-traditional means.  Collectively this coverage helped create awareness and purpose for the Reading Rights Coalition.
Mining Google today for coverage about the protest,  I was floored to see how many people were touched or influenced by yesterday's events to the point that they felt the need to express it.  Some wrote blog posts, others wrote comments of support, or added links pointing to event coverage.  For every comment I found supporting the Authors Guild's position, I read ten opposing it.  TEN.  Clearly, a community is growing.  With each comment and link, loose connections are forming between people willing to express their opinion on the text to speech issue.  Across these opinions, a fairly consistent view is being shared: people support the Reading Rights Coalition, and equally look unfavorably on the Authors Guild.  It seems that in the battle for the hearts and minds of readers, the Coalition is winning.  

Good. :)

So while the protest did nothing in the short term to change the stance of the Authors Guild, it did create awareness and momentum.  My advice to the Reading Rights Coalition is this:  continue using Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Flickr to share your message and enroll people to participate in your community.  However, be more measured and exact with your efforts.  People will respond to this.
  • Put a Facebook badge on your homepage.  Your Facebook link is buried under your Take Action Now page.    Facebook membership just hit over 200 million users.  Chances if someone comes to your web site and sees a Facebook badge, they will become a fan of your group.  Whenever a new post is published on your website, link back to it on your Facebook page so that all your fans see it.  
  • Tweet your news, and create a conversations on Twitter.  A more formal strategy needs to be established here as compared to Facebook, but leverage Twitter as a tool to connect to people, listen to their views, and share your message with them.   
  • Create media channels to tell your story.  On YouTube and Flickr, create channels that contain video and photographs from your events or that help tell your story.  The NFB does a good job of leveraging YouTube this way.
  • Create engaging calls to action.  The petition was the first step, and demonstrates that people can come together and act for your cause.  Build on this, and come up with campaigns with calls to action that create awareness and spark corporate interest.  It's just an idea, but tweeting something clever and on message like "Can I buy a Kindle-2 with text to speech enabled please?" to's Twitter account would be another viral way to create awareness and have a little fun while you're doing it.  ReTweeting is effortless, and the results of this can be tracked.  
Authors deserve to get paid for their works; I believe that.  But this argument that text to speech is an audio book, the more I hear it, is silly.  Text to speech cannot play or derive music from text, infer gender just by scanning / processing text, and handle character acting and dialog.  It also has no production value.  When I buy an audio book (and I buy them all the time), I always look for the production value.  I like to listen to books read by the author.  If I'm listening to fiction, I want to make sure that the reader is a story teller (ex. Jim Dale).  When a text to speech renderer can sound like Malcolm Gladwell reading Blink, or Jim Dale reading Harry Potter, then the Authors Guild may have a point.  That is not today, though, and just because they are afraid of that day coming does not make their actions and stance acceptable. 

One last thing.  The petition signature count is now 4,319.  So in the two hours it took me to write this post, thirty-nine people took action.  Momentum is building, and that is a great thing to see.


Posted at at 9:16 PM on Wednesday, April 8, 2009 by Abraham | 3 Comments |   Filed Under: , , , , ,

Today: Tweeting at the Authors Guild Protest in NYC

My goodness, it's early. I'm off to nap for a few hours before getting up and going into New York to tweet the Authors Guild protest today. For more information on this and why I am going, check out my blog post To Kindle-2 or Not:Discriminating Against People That Cannot Read.

The hashtags I'll be using are #kindle2 and #right2read.  The protest is scheduled from 12:00pm to 2:00pm EST.  Tune in if you can.  In addition to tweeting, I'll blog about the experience later this week. 

Good night. Zzzzzzzzzzz......


Posted at at 6:14 AM on Tuesday, April 7, 2009 by Abraham | 2 Comments |   Filed Under: , , ,

Tweeting During a Blind Date: Marie Claire, and Creating Moving Experiences

To be honest, I'm not sure how I caught wind of this. It must have been a happy accident, a random tweet coming through one of my TweetDeck search streams letting me know that Marie Claire Magazine was tweeting a live blind date at 7:30pm on 4/6. Really? My, how wonderfully interesting and potentially entertaining. People, after all, love drama and Marie Claire promised some with their tease "Marie Claire web associate Diana Vilibert is on a blind date with NYC comedian Adam Conover and they're both Twittering it live! Follow along and watch the drama unfold." So far so good, right?

Ok -- so let me get this straight. Dating? Check. Tweeting? Check. Drama? Check. All in one take? Check. This, in my mind, has the potential to be better than most of the things on TV tonight. Just like that, I was sucked into a brand that normally I would not spend any time on. At all. Marie Claire? Yes, I knew it was a magazine but if you had said that name to me, I would have said 1) that name sounds familiar, and 2) did I go to high school with her. There lies the power of social media, though. Chosen brand sponsors an interesting event, captures an audience, and in that moment has an opportunity to let me know what they're about.

Now it's 3:30pm EST. I've got hours before the blind date (note: someone needs to come up with a clever 'tword' for a blind date on twitter - blind tweet? blind tweetup?), and I cannot help but think that someone else had to have done this before. Twitter has been around for a few years, right? Marie Claire cannot be the first ones to do this, can they?

Enter Rob La Gesse and his blog Stuffleufagus. Rob is the Director of Customer Development at Mosso, a division of Rackspace. Rob was a Twitter early adopter, and in January 2008 he tweeted a blind date. Nice. Here's some context, something to set the stage or expectation for tonight. His twitterbud was Linda Sherman, who writes about "International Women's Lifestyle, Work, and Empowerment" in her blog It's Different For Girls. She caught his date, and basically went along for the ride. Overall, his date was crazy entertaining and Rob blogged about it. He and Linda had fun with the moment and interacted with the tweeples following along. The date did not work out for Rob, but their tweeting did as it they were interesting and captivating to read, knowing that these events occurred in real time. Their exchanges were spontaneous, chaotic, and authentic. People loved it.

At this point, I cannot wait to follow the date. I'm thinking that this type of planned event could spawn a new type of Twittertainment (could we call it the reality Tweet-com), almost like reading a book in real time and having to rely on your imagination to fill in the blanks between 140 characters. The beauty of this is that everyone, at one point or another, has gone on a blind date and can relate to the emotions, anxiety, fear, and anticipation that comes with meeting someone for the first time. Telling the world about it 140 characters at a time as the date unfolds could only magnify these feelings, right?   

The Good

Marie Claire was smart in how they promoted the event, setting up a hashtag (#mcdate) for the date and making sure that it was mentioned with the event. You can read the tweet transcript by clicking on the hashtag, or searching for #mcdate on Twitter search. The transcript starts at the end (page 12), so that you can navigate backwards and read the tweets in the order in which they were twaught (sorry). Leading up to the date, there clearly was some buzz. Both tweeters expressed they were nervous about the date while being funny about it (Diana's bra broke on her way to work, while Adam was concerned that his janky-ass old phone would impede his ability to tweet). Viewers were already chiming in, with one wondering why Adam looked like a Backstreet Boy and another exclaiming how cute it was that both Adam and Diana tweeted about throwing up at the same time.

True to form, their tweets were entertaining. Very, entertaining actually. Right off the bat, Adam found out he was older than Diana, admitted that she was cute, and was funny about how on her first bathroom break they may have run out of things to talk about.  I hope that was not true.  Diana, similarly, said that he's cute, loved how he Google-stalked her, and embarrassingly admitted that she had cat hair on her dress. Right on cue, a viewer offered that "A man who can love you with cat hair is a man who can stick around.", while another questioned if Adam has follow-envy (Diana has about 5k followers, while Adam has less than 1k). 

You simply cannot make this kind of dialog up.

The both agree to wager while bowling, with the loser buying a round of drinks for every game bowled. Diana did not like her shoes, (who has ever looked good in a pair of bowling shoes), but did, however, like his backside.  Awwwww.  Adam was clearly concerned with what his mother would think about the date, was very impressed with his bowling score, and in a moment of weakness stole a sip of her drink while she was in the bathroom. Halfway through the date, he gave himself a B+. He did, however, get three "fails" - one from Diana, one from @jennyRotten, and one from @renovationThrpy. 

Fails are awesome. 

In the end, I thought the event was very successful. It was entertaining, fun, spontaneous, humorous, and had the live / one-take appeal that makes walking away difficult. A great experience, thanks to the efforts of Marie Claire and their tweet-daters (you know, that could stick).

The Bad

While the event was entertaining, Marie Claire just barely scratched the surface of engaging the audience. Diana and Adam did not really have enough time to do anything other than provide their status without risking date momentum. The audience (me included), had questions and comments that mostly went unanswered. That being said, here are some suggestions for the next tweet date.
  • Promote the event. On the Marie Claire home page, there is a less than obvious reference to the tweet date. This could have been called out more, as it blended in with the other articles. Events that are opportunities to create fun, engaging, and memorable experiences for customers should be promoted as such.
  • Promote the participants. On the "twitter blind date" page, there is very little information about the date participants. Links do exist so that you can learn more about Adam, but there is no context behind why he is doing this. For Diana, her name links to her Twitter page. As someone that writes for Marie Claire, could that link have led to her bio? Or a list of articles she has written? I found some, but I had to find her homepage first. Promote your participants; the more your audience knows about them before the event, the more they will care and be invested in participating.
  • Include a narrator / color commentator. I am curious if a 3rd person / moderator "secretly" narrating the event would have helped engage the audience more. A 3rd party observer / narrator that leaves the tweet-daters alone but still tweets about what he sees while interacting with the audience could create a much more sticky experience (ex. a dating expert that narrates the date while fielding questions from the audience).
  • Take pictures. When Diana complained about her bowling shoes, I wanted to see them. Twitpicing at opportune moments would have brought the audience in even more. Again, a narrator / observer taking pictures of the event would have added a lot.
  • Make sure that technology doesn't sabotage the event. Both Adam and Diana complained about their phones. For a staged event like this, there is no reason that the tweet-daters should have to worry about tweeting on a janky-ass phone.
  • Pay attention to details. It's not "Twittering", it's "Tweeting". Sure, it's minor. It does, however, show the Marie Claire is new to this.
In the end, Marie Claire, Diana, and Adam deserve credit and kudos for making this a success. I imagine that we will begin to see more and more of this type of event; a reality Tweetup of some kind for people to observe and participate in. People could tweet dates, engagements, reality events, with each event being sponsored by a brand that draws in viewers over time (imagine Tweeting the Bachelor, or the Amazing Race).   That is what is so exciting me about this event and social media in general; there is just so much possibility and potential. 

Hmmmm; I think I may start a Reality Tweet Production Company (RealiTweet).

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Posted at at 1:46 AM on by Abraham | 2 Comments |   Filed Under: , , ,

Adobe to Developers: Unemployed? Have Down Time? Learn Flex

When I heard on Friday via Twitter that Adobe was offering Free Flex Builder 3 Professional licenses for unemployed developers, I was very curious what the developer community's reaction to this announcement would be. Flex is fun, sexy, and is in demand by businesses all over. Businesses cannot find enough talented Flex developers (especially good ones), and the work pays well (as a contractor, you can earn anywhere from $50-100 per hour depending on locale and skill set in the US). Experts can surpass this.

Reading this for the first time, I thought the announcement was a great move on Adobe's part. Right on. Adobe gets good press, create some positive buzz in their developer communities and beyond, convert new developers, demonstrate goodwill, and can be perceived as being compassionate in this moment. Seriously, what is the downside of this announcement - both for Adobe, and the developer community? There is none, especially in today's economy. Of course, Adobe is looking out for their own interests; don't be fooled by that. More developers will mean more licenses, as Adobe wants you to get a job working with their products since your future employer will probably need to buy you a Flex Builder license at some point. This, however, does not change that if you are developer that was just let recently let go or is out of work, feels unchallenged, or needs to learn something new to jump start your career - then consider taking advantage of this opportunity. To be license eligible, you will need to:
  • Attest to the fact that you are unemployed and that the software is for "personal use".
  • Agree that you are not employed or being paid to build software applications.
  • Agree that the Flex Builder 3 license you receive is for personal use, and only for you to build your skills. You cannot use this to product production applications.
  • Agree that the license you receive will only be used by you, and will not be transferred to anyone, including a future employer.

Adobe will need a couple of weeks to process your license, but in the meantime you can get started using a copy of the 60 day trial. Once Adobe verifies your case, you will receive your license. W00t! Not to exaggerate, but this is like money falling from the sky for the motivated.

"flex developer" Job Trends graph

One of the most common complaints I hear about Adobe regarding Flex is that a free version does not exist (the Flex Builder trial lives for 60 days; a Standard license costs $249.00, and a Professional license costs $699.00). If the cost of a Flex Builder 3 Professional license was your primary reason for not giving Flex a spin, then take this opportunity to reconsider Flex as a skill. For people on the fence with time, there really isn't an excuse any more; is there? And yes, there are limitations to the license (specifically, the production application requirement). How, though, is this different from other software:
  • MySQL, Oracle, and Microsoft SQL Server and free and "production" versions of their database software. If you use the software for a product or in a production environment, you typically need to buy a license. Development or personal use, however, is free.
  • Antivirus software follows a similar model. A number of AV vendors will provide free copies of their software for home or personal use. If the software is for business use, however, then a license must be purchased.
Regardless what you think of Adobe or their motivation, the opportunity they have laid out for unemployed developers is clear and tangible. On top of this, the Adobe DevNet site has all sorts of online courseware and video training on Learning Flex 3 in a Week. Additionally, Safari Books online is offering a free 60-day subscription to their Flex book library. No time like the present, right?

What are you waiting for? Start learning already.

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Posted at at 1:58 AM on Monday, April 6, 2009 by Abraham | 0 Comments |   Filed Under: , ,

To Kindle-2 or Not: Discriminating Against People that Cannot Read

Kindle: Mutes Text to Speech OptionThere is currently a lot of buzz about good / green business, specifically in Social Media circles.  This is especially true in terms of companies and organizations managing their brand perception.  A few of the evolving social media "tenants" are that companies should strive to do business that creates goodwill, become part of the community,  and create amazing customer experiences.  The social capital, or wuffie that these actions create has a very real, tangible value for everyone involved.  This sounds like common sense, right?  Well, apparently not to some.

A few days ago, I was invited by a friend to attend a protest in New York City supporting the Reading Rights Coalition.  The Reading Rights Coalition, "which represents people who cannot read print, will protest the threatened removal of the text-to-speech function from e-books for the Amazon Kindle 2 outside the Authors Guild headquarters in New York City at 31 East 32nd Street on April 7, 2009, from noon to 2:00 p.m."  I'm always up for a protest, and the Author's Guild stance, while legal, didn't seem all together reasonable.  The Author's Guild claims that the Kindle 2's text-to-speech feature somehow violates copyright.  According to Paul Aiken, executive director of the Authors Guild, "They don't have the right to read a book out loud.  That's an audio right, which is derivative under copyright law."  


Posted at at 11:38 AM on Friday, April 3, 2009 by Abraham | 9 Comments |   Filed Under: , , ,