Why I Love the Internet

Warning: this post has nothing to do Japan, Asia, chat apps, or tech but an ode to the Internet.

There has been a stranger tweeting me with his photos.
Take a look:



And one more for good measure:



I totally get how people might be creeped out by him. I mean, he’s this old guy posing in front of a pile of dirty dishes. Heck, I can’t even tell if all his teeth are in place.

I think he should be celebrated.

This man, let’s call him John, is tweeting photos to random females from all over. I don’t know how he finds them, the women he are tweeting are really, that random (I checked his stream). He is using Twitter as a dating tool.

Looking at these photos of this man I am calling John, I assume he lives in South Carolina. Or far up north in Florida. Maybe Arkansas, or some state in the South in a town with a population of 500.

He lives in a trailer littered with beer cans and there are piles of ashtrays filled with charred cigarette butts — he smokes every cigarette until it reaches the filter. His kitchen counter has no space, covered with heaps of  Wonder Bread, Oscar Mayer bologna, Kraft Singles, and BBQ potato chip wrappers. He has a tv with rabbit ears that only has one channel: FOX.

He works as a dish washer at a truck stop and his apron is stained with maple syrup, ketchup, mustard, mayo. Every night after work, he stops by the bar along Highway 5 to drink a warm beer, served by the 50 year old bartender Barbara.

He owns a Samsung SCH-293874923861723 — a prepaid, throwaway Android with maybe a three hour battery life. 3G connection.

This man John, whose life I can only imagine, has found his way onto twitter. He created an account. Figured out a way to take photos. Then tweet the photos to random women all over the world. And I fucking love it. How can you not?

I love that the Internet gives everyone a voice. Even John from Timbuktunowhere. And this, is only one of the many reasons why I love the Internet and technology so so so much.

It’s really, the little things.
*if you need another reminder, I posted another one a while back here.


Tragic Incidents and Social Media

There was a 23 year old beaten and murdered outside of a California club. The news has been passing through my Facebook and Twitter newsfeeds all day. I’ve been meaning to Tweet or Facebook or something about the incident, but think it deserves more than a Facebook post or a 140 character tweet.

This is a tragic incident and my heart is absolutely broken at the notion of such a young girl meeting her death from such an every day activity as going out. This could’ve happened to anyone and it does. Just Google “beaten to death outside of club” if you’re into that sort of thing.

What’s really disappointing, is how people took the time to take photos and video to upload onto Instagram, Twitter and Facebook while this young girl was getting the living daylights beaten out of her. And then she ended up dying.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying it’s up to the spectators to be superheros but I wonder what it was like before all this social media stuff.

I mean, if people have the time to take photos and video, shouldn’t they… well, call for help? There are club bouncers for a reason. Or at least call 9-1-1 before taking the photo and choosing a filter.

Think back to when we had our Nokia phones, BlackBerries and even Sidekicks and we saw someone getting beat up. Did we still stand around and watch? Did we pretend not to notice? When did we start thinking collectively as a society, that it’s ok to share with our networks vs. helping?

Or is our sharing, just a way to help us humans process such shocking events?

Either which way, something to think about as functioning humans in civilized societies. And especially, for our next generations.

Coverage on the incident are here and here.

Proof Number of Followers Don’t Matter on Twitter

It’s frustrating to see so much weight placed on follower count, but articles like these give me a glimmer of hope. From AdAge:

“[…]But his first round of magazine-cover appearances suggest that the conversion rate between dollars and tweets is still pretty unclear. And not everyone, it seems, can cash in yet.

The issue sold just more than 1 million copies at newsstand, about 20% below the newsstand average for early issues this year and 20% below its newsstand average in April 2009.

People’s later cover with Sandra Bullock, who doesn’t appear to have a Twitter account but does have an Oscar, sold more than twice as many newsstand copies.”

Separately, there was an article in HBR today dissecting Twitter followers and how it correlates to influence.

Totally gonna toot my own horn, but I’ve been saying since lord knows when: Grow out of the Tila Tequila mentality. Follower count does not equate to influence. If 3 million people are following, but no one is listening, are you popular and not an influencer? Why didn’t Beiber’s People issue sell more than Sandra Bullock’s issue? Does popularity equate to conversion? Or even reach?

Only time will tell, but me? I’d rather have a fraction of followers who actually engage. I think it’s time we re-think the terms: influencer and popular. #fridayfoodforthought

Six Things I Learned at my First SxSWi

That’s me second from the right with @JessBerlin, @MelissaRowley, @BrianSolis, @Pistachio, @Rabeidoh and the photobomber. ;) (cc) Kenneth Yeung – www.thelettertwo.com

Holy smokes I survived my very first SxSWi (interactive) and I must jot down my thoughts while they’re still fresh. You know, this old age stuff is making me very forgetful. FINE. I just have a bad memory. Anyway, moving on!

Whatever you do people, listen to me: you must MUST stay close to downtown. Austin is this tragic land where hailing a cab is nearly impossible. Heck, the cabs with their lights on don’t stop. And. AND it takes forever and a flippin’ day for a cab to come, even after you call them.

2. Make friends with cab drivers
I am not even kidding. The very first cab driver you have rapport with, make sure you tip well and use that one driver for your entire trip there. It will save you a lot of time.

3. Fogo de Chao is overpriced and mediocre
For those who have never been to Sx, you are probably reading this going wtf? But seriously, Fogo de Cao is one of the nicer establishments conveniently located downtown. There will be many dinners there (sit down dinners) that you will probably be invited to. It is not a casual restaurant for BBQ and it is also a chain. Before agreeing to dinner, I recommend evaluating worth. One meal there is about $400 with alcohol, tip and labor — as in your time spent. So think — especially about the company — before agreeing to a dinner there. Note: this doesn’t apply solely to Fogo — there are so many people, so many events going on simultaneously, the most valuable thing at Sx is time. ;)

4. Brunch and breakfasts
It is near impossible to meet people for happy hour, quick drinks and by late night everyone is so wasted, if you are looking to build meaningful relationships, breakfasts, brunch, coffee and or lunch is the best time to connect. I also recommend scheduling with three to five (max) of the people you want to meet before Sx.

5. Put one day aside to avoid your friends
On my third and last day in Austin, I purposely avoided every place my friends checked into on Foursquare to meet new people. It was the best thing I did. Don’t get me wrong, I met up with my friends late night to party but because I avoided the usual suspects during the day and into the early evening, I met and connected with: Jeff Jarvis, Leo Laporte, editors and journalists from LA Times, CNN and NY Times, and the VP of Social Media for National Geographic. Craziness.

6. No badge needed
In case you hadn’t noticed, I didn’t bring up panels, talks and or the actual convention. Unless Sx kicks their content game up, I will most likely go badgeless again next year (if I go.) Sx is all about networking and connecting with people in person. I don’t need to attend people’s panels since I already read their blogs. Plus, recorded sessions show up on YouTube, Vimeo, et al. :)

The very last and most important thing I learned at SxSW is how honored and humbled I am to be connected to so many phenomenal people. The people who move and shake the Internet are…my friends (!) and even lovelier in person than they are online. I am so fortunate to have met the people I have.

So that was seven things, but whatever.
SxSWi 2010 and all my friends: I LOVE YOU. And thank you, Austin for your hospitality!!