Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Non-Anonymous (Say THAT 10 Times Fast!)

The times they are a changing... at least for me. I have come to realize the value of being "non-anonymous" and it has been somewhat of an awakening for me. I am learning to embrace transparency, and so far I think that's a good thing. As someone who has frequented the Internet since long before the World Wide Web (I got my first Compuserve Account in 1982, along with my Commodore 64) I was sort of weened in the ways of anonymity. Going "online" meant going online with a "screenname" (a "handle" to put it in CB Radio Terms) so that no one knew who you really were. This was especially useful when using a 300 Baud Modem to log onto a strange bulletinboard with a long distance call to San Francisco in the middle of the night (a bulletin board you found in the classified ads in the back of BYTE Magazine...) This pseudo self was very effective for flaming people on the boards with stupid and inane comments, a practice that was practically an art form in the day. Years later, upon getting divorced and finding myself suddenly single, I embraced the world of online dating... once again protected by the Scarlett Letter: In this case the "A" was for "Anonymity." I could flirt and chat and charm, all under the guise of an anonymous profile. In the business world, running several Public Companies, I further honed my skills for secrecy, with fear of "selective disclosure" training me to keep things close to the vest (even though I hadn't actually worn a vest since my Bar Mitzvah!)

Even this blog, loosely launched in 2004, was first published under my anonymous dating screenname and had no public connection to the real me. Of course that has all changed. Now you can get my contact info, my detailed bio on LinkedIN, my Twitter updates, my professional info, pictures of me and mine, and a wealth of peeks at my person that surely must border on TMI -- too much information.

Why the change?

Two words. Social Networking. To truly leverage the power of today's amazing tools of communication and connection, you cannot be nameless. You cannot make a mark if nobody can recognize your mark. With so many touchpoints and vectors, so many avenues to access -- each overlapping and interlacing in so many ways -- every blogpost, comment, update, email, IM and text message you post, leave or send, has a residual value that will only inure to your benefit if it can be attributed to YOU. If you are going to flitter on Twitter, pounce on Pownce, write Haiku on Jaiku, make facetime on Facebook, have a fling on Ning, take up space on MySpace and just be a part of the Community... then you must stand up, open up, take off the the Kimono and take CREDIT for your words, thoughts, opinions and actions. Will you make mistakes? Sure. Will you say something stupid, or overly obvious, or ten minutes after everyone else in the world has already said the same thing? Sure. But that's ok, because you will be in the game, and to be in the game that's part of the game. And in time you will gain both confidence and credibility, and the value of your connections will far surpass the fear of being non-anonymous!

Monday, July 02, 2007

Geeks vs. Romans

I recently went on a vacation to Italy. Although it was purely a vacation, I wanted to have Internet access, and stay in touch with home base. I did NOT want to schlep my laptop along, and as a longstanding Sprint customer, I don't have a GSM phone. (My girlfriend does have an AT&T GSM phone, but, when in Rome I wanted to do as the Romans, but not PAY for the Roamin'!) Always looking for an excuse to acquire a new gadget, I picked up a NOKIA N800 for Internet access and to stay in touch with email, twitter, etc., as well as to use it as my European phone, taking advantage of VOIP with the slick N800 version of Gizmo Project. (Still waiting for the long promised N800 SKYPE client).

First off, I love the N800 and when you have wi-fi available, it is a sweet little Internet demon, making web based email and content a pocketful of fun... Did I say when you have wi-fi available? That's the hitch! I think my expectations of wi-fi proliferation in Italy were grossly overestimated. My first night in Rome, I was thrilled to see that my hotel had wi-fi in the lobby. After we settled into our room for the evening, I rushed downstairs, N800 in hand. The hotel wi-fi service was not free, and the onscreen login instructions were in Italian, so it took me several tries and finally some translation from the concierge to get the right info into the right fields in order to buy an hour for 3 Euros. At a different hotel in Florence, I had to join with yet another wi-fi provider, this time for 25 Euros, for a block of five hours, good for a year. Of course, the rest of the trip, I never encountered another hotspot where I could use the remainder of my time on the 25 Euro account.

I became hot for hot spots, and everywhere we went, I whipped out the N800 to see if there was a wi-fi signal... Note to self: Saying, "Hang on a minute Honey, I want to see if there is wi-fi here" is a surefire way to take the romance out of any quaint and charming Tuscany cafe... I even found myself piggy backing a signal from a nearby office building while our Tour Bus was stopping to pick up passengers... only to lose my email as the bus pulled away...

So the net, net, is that the net is not as pervasive as I wish it would be. And my girlfriend's $400 phone bill was proof positive that Geek or not, when in Rome we paid for the Roamin'!

UPDATE: Skype for the N800 is now available and it is SWEET! Kissed my Gizmo goodbye...