Thank You

Today, for most of the seven billion people in the world, it is just yet another ordinary day.  Nothing special... just another day.

But for those of us living in the USA it is our "Thanksgiving". It is a public holiday that most people get off. And it is for me the holiday that in so many ways I enjoy the most.

Why?

Simple ... because it has not yet become over-commercialized. Tomorrow, of course, is an epic nightmare of consumerism and crass commercialism (and the participation in which I avoid as much as possible).

But today, for the most part, is a collective... pause

Throughout our nation (and around the world for those living abroad) people gather with friends, family, loved ones. Most businesses are closed (except for many restaurants, convenience stores and some gas stations).  People eat (often large quantities), play, relax and enjoy each other's company.

It is a moment to revel in that gathering... to reflect on how we are thankful for what we have... to help out those who need help... to pause in a sacred moment and give thanks.

And so I take this moment... here... on this site... to thank all of YOU out there.  All of you who continue to read my articles... to listen to my podcasts... to read my books... to watch my videos... to hear me in presentations... to read my newsletter... to engage with me on social media...  thank you!

Thank you also for challenging me... for asking me tough questions... for giving me feedback... for doing all those things that help me to grow and learn and become even better in what I do and help me learn how to be of better service to you all.

Thank you.

For the 6.7+ billion of you for whom today is a perfectly normal day, I hope you have an excellent day. For those of you celebrating US Thanksgiving, I hope that you all are able to gather with those you love - and that you are able somewhere in the madness to pause for even just a moment and reflect on all that you have to be thankful for.

Happy Thanksgiving!

P.S. It's not all rosy, of course.  Many people cannot be with their family and friends. Many people do not have food, homes, or the money or means to travel to visit people. Even "normal" family gatherings can be filled with tension, drama and crisis.  It can be a quite bleak and depressing time for many.  For those of us who are able to celebrate, the question becomes, too... what can we do to help others?  How can we translate our thankfulness into action to help those who are struggling?  Can we dedicate part of our lives to helping other people have something more to be thankful for?

 


The Internet Cries Out Its Collective Wail of Anguish At The Passing Of Steve Jobs

Stevejobs
There are no words... although many are being written.

On an intellectual level, perhaps, we knew it was coming. When he stepped down as CEO back in August, we knew Steve Jobs was in trouble. No one who is as much of a control freak as he was would step down unless things were really not going well.

But still...

... emotionally we hoped against hopes that His Jobsness would somehow cheat death and stand up on stage yet again to give us...

"one more thing"

... one more time.

But... icon, visionary, leader, maker that he was... he was of course only human.

With all the mortality that implies.

And so ever since the word of his death started spreading last night, the Internet has been awash with the collective cries of anguish.

Techmeme, at this precise moment, is a wall of tributes to the man.

Many are incredibly moving... incredibly poignant... incredibly powerful...

"#ThankYouSteve" has been at the top of the Twitter trends. Google has changed its home page to have a link over to Apple's page. Wired has turned its home page into a wall of quotes about Jobs.

Everywhere a thousand other tributes are being posted.

A powerful day of tributes to a man who did so much to change our industry and indeed our world.

I don't know that I can personally add more than what I wrote back in August...

Thank you, Steve Jobs.

He leaves us with a legacy of design...

... of remembering that we need to focus on form as much as function (if not indeed more)...

... of thinking not of what features we need to add to a product or service, but rather what features we need to remove to make the service even simpler and easier to use...

... of remembering to focus on the user experience...

... on the need to embrace the "magic" of what we are doing and to create products and services that truly amaze and delight us...

... and to not settle and to live each day as if it were our last.

If you have never watched his powerful address at Stanford in 2005, take 15 minutes and watch this video:

One of Apple's best known advertising campaigns was the "Think different" series - and they had videos with a narration about "Here's to the Crazy Ones". The folks at 9to5 Mac found a version that Steve Jobs himself narrated:

Naturally, there have been several remixes of this commercial text (although not Jobs' narration) with images from Jobs' history. Two I found moving were this one:

And this one from Gizmodo:

Gizmodo stevejobs tribute

And yes, I admit to shedding a tear or two as I watched these...

There were a zillion tweets about Jobs... and one that I'll close with is simply this:

Twitter stevejobs

R.I.P., Steve Jobs.

Thank you.


P.S. GigaOm ran a nice collection of quotes from Silicon Valley leaders.


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Thank you, Steve Jobs.

Techmeme stevejobsRight now, at the moment I write this post, Techmeme stands as a monument to the end of the Steve Jobs era.

Go on, check it out... scroll down the Techmeme page... I've not honestly seen another day quite like this.

A zillion posts lionizing the man who, love him or hate him, has so disrupted multiple industries through his leadership of Apple. As Walt Mossberg wrote, Steve Jobs is very much still alive, but his resignation as CEO of Apple does indeed mark the end of an era. Tim Cook may have effectively been the CEO of Apple since January... and he may indeed be an excellent CEO to lead the company forward...

But he's not Steve Jobs.

No one truly can be.

I've been impressed by the many personal stories being written this morning. Among them:

I'm sure many more will be written today and in the days ahead. Including this post, of course.

The Original Hacker Machine

I can credit Steve Jobs for my start in computers. In 1977, my friend Dave's father bought one of the first Apple II computers. There we were... two 10-year-old boys playing with this amazing machine. People may not remember that the first Apple II was a true "hacker" machine. In a box somewhere, I still have the original Apple II manual, because it was truly a thing of beauty... you could find out everything about every single memory location and everything else you wanted to know about the computer. It was a wonderful way to learn.

In retrospect I suspect that that first manual was probably much more of the Steve Wozniak influence, as the next version of the computer, the Apple IIe, had the much simplified manuals that came to be part and parcel of "the Steve Jobs view" of the simplified user experience.

But that first Apple II set me on a path of learning about these things known as personal computers.

Teaching Teachers

Entering high school in 1981, the school had just received its first Apple II computer. I can remember it sitting there on a lone desk in a room that had all the other components of a DEC PDP-8 and other devices in it. The teacher responsible for the computer lab, Dan Ryan, let a group of us "play" with that one computer... and as the lab grew to include more Apple computers, our "computer club" learned more and more. They were amazing times.

In fact, my first job with computers was helping out two summers at the high school - as a high school student - helping teachers learn about these computers. I remember some who were very enthusiastic ... and one in particular who was so frightened of the machine (although I've long since forgotten that teacher's name.)

NOT Going To Antarctica

Apple also is responsible for a career choice that really led to where I am today. In the summer of 1990, I was working as field technician at a remote research station on top of the Greenland ice sheet. It was a six-week gig that I had literally stumbled into by walking into an office at UNH while unemployed and having a friend say "hey, the guys upstairs are looking for people to go to Greenland". And there I was.

While there, though, I had met this whole corp of people who spent their summers supporting field experiments in Greenland and our "winters" supporting field experiments in Antarctica (where it's summer). Competition to get into this group was fierce, but there was someone there who was willing to help me get connected... and as a single early-20-something, there was a great amount of appeal!

And then I received word that Apple had funded a grant proposal I'd submitted a few months back to start up a non-profit in New Hampshire that would help other nonprofit organizations learn how to use computer technology. Apple was donating several computers, printers and other devices to help me start this organization up.

So I put aside that Antarctic idea, returned to New Hampshire, started up the nonprofit... which ultimately led to other positions that brought me 20 years later to where I am today.

Fast Forward To Today

In fact, I write this post this morning on a MacBook Pro, the corporate laptop Voxeo distributes to all its employees. While my household had a mixture of Windows, Linux and Macs, it's evolved to where it's all just Macs... and a Linux server. My iPad2 is right next to me with my list of things I planned to do today. My iPhone is in its holster on my belt... having just moved from my armband where an app helped track my 4.5 mile run this morning.

Yes, I've helped fund Steve Jobs success. :-)

Systems That "Just Work"

But there's a reason for that... and it goes back to that vaunted perfectionism of Steve Jobs. For the most part, Apple's devices "just work".

When I moved from a Dell laptop to a MacBook Pro back in 2007, I had a very simple demonstration I would do for my Windows friends:

I closed the laptop. I opened it back up. In moments, I started typing.

I closed the laptop again. I opened it back up - and started typing.

I repeated this several times.

Certainly at the time this was not something that worked well on most Windows-based laptops. (May still not work well... don't know.) It was a little thing, but a HUGE timesaver!

Sure, there are reasons for things that "just work"... a closed system with proprietary hardware that is more expensive than other options. A fanatical obsession with CONTROL over every aspect of the system.

But in the end... it just works. Not all the time... and not every device... but for the most part.

One of Steve Jobs' greatest gifts to the industry was showing that:

user experience matters!

And the industry as a whole has seen the demonstration by Apple of what can be accomplished when you focus on the user experience.

Thank you, Steve!

I could go on... about how the iPod and the rise of podcasting has enriched my life... I could talk of the excellence of Jobs as a presenter (I loved Om's reference to him as a thespian)...

... but I will close by simply saying:

Thank you, Steve.

You've led Apple through an era of disrupting several industries... helped many of us in so many ways with your products... and taught us so much.

Thank you... and best wishes for what is next.


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Chosen as a 2011 Fellow of the Society for New Communications Research (SNCR)

SncrlogoI was very pleased recently to receive word that I was chosen as one of the 2011-2012 Fellows of the Society for New Communications Research (SNCR).

SNCR is a global nonprofit foundation and think tank "dedicated to the advanced study of the latest developments in new media and communications, and their effect on traditional media and business models, communications, culture and society." The organization sponsors a range of research and publications all focused around researching and communicating the changes going on all around us.

In a news release today, SNCR announced the 2011-2012 Fellows, including:

The new class of SNCR Fellows includes: Jeffrey Edlund, CTO Communications and Media Solutions, HP; Jennifer Edwards, assistant professor of communication studies, Tarleton State University; Atanu Garai, consultant for India’s Population Council; Egle Kvieskaite, EU project manager, Vilnius Pedagogical University and director of the Lithuanian College of Democracy; Alicia Nieva-Woodgate, managing director, ANW Networks, LLC; Ingrid Sturgis, assistant professor, Howard University; and Dan York, director of conversations, Voxeo Corporation.

We join a rather impressive list of existing Fellows that consists of, as the news release says...

more than 100 Founding Fellows, Senior Fellows and alumni who are business leaders, scholars, professional communicators, members of the media, futurists and technologists from around the globe. The SNCR Fellows collaborate on research initiatives, educational offerings, and the establishment of standards and best practices focused on the advanced study of emerging trends and developments in media and communications, and their effect on business, media, culture and society.

Given that the SNCR Fellows program is highly competitive with only a small percentage of applicants being accepted each year, I am both humbled and pleased to be joining the ranks. I look forward to working with the other SNCR Fellows and continuing to tell the story of how both the ways in which we communicate and the tools we use are all changing.


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Celebrating my 10th year of blogging!

advogato-logo-1.jpgTen years ago today, I entered the world of "blogging", although that term wasn't widely used yet.

On May 10, 2000, I was out visiting Linuxcare's office (my employer at the time) in San Francisco and was just hanging out in the evening at the office. After hearing about and reading a site called Advogato.org for a while, I went that night and created my account. Advogato was and is a site whose mission is to be a community for free software developers. It was created by Raph Levien not only to help connect developers but also as a testbed for his research into trust metrics. From my point-of-view at the time, the key thing was that a significant number of the main Linux and other open source developers were starting to write at the site. By reading the "recentlog" (list of new blog posts) you could easily stay up on what was happening with many of the projects out there. Since I was the President of the Linux Professional Institute (LPI) and active with Linux International at the time, it seemed a good place to start writing.

It's somewhat amusing to read that very first entry I wrote. I had just picked up a print version of the Cluetrain Manifesto, was just learning about DocBook and CVS and was working on some other projects. I was amused to read this:

In any event, since it's after 9pm and I'm still here in the Linuxcare office in SF, I decided to join this experiment... let's see if I actually keep up with it.

I did keep up with it... writing there at Advogato for four years until the spring of 2004 when a server outage took the site offline for 5+ weeks. By that time, blogging was in my blood and part of my daily routine and so I had to find some outlet for the writing. I had previously started up a 'dyork' account on LiveJournal and so I moved my main writing there even after Advogato came back online. The major reasons I stayed at LiveJournal were:

  • I could use an "offline blog editor" to write my posts on my local computer and then publish them to LJ. (I continue to this day to use an offline editor for almost all my posting.)

  • LiveJournal had the ability for people to leave comments on a post, something Advogato lacked (and still lacks).

I continued with LiveJournal as my main blog site for a while, but around 2005 found myself struggling with a couple of issues:

  • I found my writing was really about two main areas: telecommunications/VoIP and PR/marketing/communications/social media - and that the people interested in one topic weren't really interested in the other.

  • The comment facility was nice, but at the time it was limited to only other LJ users or "Anonymous". There was no way for people to leave their URL as people could on other blogs.

  • LJ didn't support TrackBacks and some of the other newer features that were emerging in the new world of "blogging" and "social media".

Given all that I went looking at various other options and wound up on TypePad where I set up two new blogs in 2006:

  • Disruptive Conversations - how the "social media" of blogs, podcasts, wikis, virtual worlds, etc. are changing the way we communicate

  • Disruptive Telephony - how Voice-over-IP (VoIP) is fundamentally changing the technology we use to communicate

I went on to become a paid TypePad member, set up the Blue Box Podcast there and a range of other blogs.

Today, 10 years after that first Advogato post, I'm writing these days on something like 10 different blogs ... some of which I list on my 'blogs' page and others are listed on Voxeo's list of blogs - posts across all of them I am now aggregating into my Friendfeed account (along with tweets, bookmarks and more). I still use TypePad and while I have a number of issues with the site, the work to move at this point would be more than I feel like undertaking right now. Most of the new work I'm creating these days is with WordPress (or WordPress MU) which I'm using both on the VOIPSA weblog and the Voxeo blog site as well as some other projects in development.

As I sit here and write all this, it's really incredible to think about all the changes we've seen over the past 10 years both with regard to "blogging" and also to all the other tools and services that make up this larger space we've called "social media", but is even now morphing into more of just plain old... "media"!

Some things don't change, though... if I go back to the end of that first Advogato post:

Okay... my first diary entry... and a long one... typical... no one has ever praised me for my brevity!

Ten years later, I'm still working on that "brevity" thing... and using my Twitter account as a daily exercise in just that topic ;-)


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