Work I'm proud of: Next is Now

Every once in a while a project comes along that lets you stretch and do your absolute best work. The Next is Now video project was one of those opportunities for Thornley Fallis.I was reminded of this project when Richard Bloom included it in his favourite videos of 2010 list published on the Rogers RedBoard blog and when Keith McArthur pointed to it in a year end post on his own blog.

Keith approached us in the springtime about creating a video for Rogers Annual General Meeting. The product of this was assignment: Next is Now.

Clearly, people found it told a story they could relate to. It was passed around on Twitter, generated blog coverage and, looking at the YouTube stats, held viewers attention right through to the end.

And while it worked well online, I got an even bigger kick out of the fact that Kevin Newman, the Chair of the University of Waterloo’s Canada 3 conference, showed the video during his opening for the conference. Having someone like that use your material for a purpose beyond which it was created suggests that you truly hit on something genuine and worthwhile.

Thanks again to Rogers for giving us the chance to stretch and do some of our best work 2010. That’s a chance that I truly appreciate.

Next Third Tuesday Ottawa: Canada's National Capital Commission Web 2.0 Initiatives

“Reticence is often conquered by a win, and the best way to provide a win is via a pilot project.”

Daniel Feeny, Director of Digital Communications, National Capital Commission

Here’s an interesting situation: A government agency is responsible to make decisions that affect a specific community. However, the agency’s mandate is to serve the interests of the entire population (many of whom don’t care about what it does). Moreover, the agency’s governing Directors are appointed, not elected.

How does this agency fulfill its broad mandate while being open and engaging both the directly affected community and broader constituency in what it does?

That’s the challenge that confronts Canada’s Canada’s National Capital Commission (NCC).

A textbook case study

I was one of those people who thought that the NCC made decisions in private meetings behind closed doors. So, imagine my surprise when I saw a tweet telling me that the NCC would be Webcasting a public meeting of the NCC Directors. Not only was the decision-making process open for me to witness, but I could watch it directly from my desktop without the need to attend the actual meeting. A commonplace in this age, but totally outside of my expectations for the NCC.

But it went further than that. One of the agenda items was a presentation by staff of the NCC’s Web 2.0 Strategy. So I watched. And as Daniel Feeny presented the Commission’s Web 2.0 strategy, I learned that the NCC had been integrating social media into its communications through a series of small pilot projects. They learned from each pilot, refining their approach and applying the lessons to the next pilot. A textbook example of an organization learning how to use social media – incrementally, iteratively, intelligently.

So I’m delighted that Daniel Feeny, the NCC’s Director of Digital Communications, Outreach and Youth Programs, agreed to be the speaker at the next Third Tuesday Ottawa Social Media Meetup.  Daniel will discuss what the NCC learned from its pilot approach, what he would tell other organizations exploring social media and what he sees in the future for the NCC and social media.

If you’d like to attend, you can register at the Third Tuesday Ottawa Meetup site.

Thanks to Third Tuesday’s Sponsors

Finally, as always, I want to thank the Third Tuesday sponsors – CNW Group,Rogers CommunicationsRadian6 and Fairmont Hotels and Resorts. Their sponsorship for Third Tuesday makes it possible for us to bring great speakers not only to Toronto, but to Third Tuesdays across the country. Thank you CNW, Rogers, Radian6 and Fairmont for helping us to build a vibrant community of social media practitioners.

Students will receive a refund of their ticket price

We want students to be able to experience the best social media case studies and practices. So Thornley Fallis will refund the ticket price to any student who presents a valid student card to the registration desk at the event.

I hope to see you there.

Stieg Larsson rules holiday e-book sales

If you received an e-book reader as a Christmas gift this year, there’s a good chance you’re reading a novel by Stieg Larsson right now.

EBook etailer Kobo has published its list of top e-book title sales for the holiday season around the world. And who tops the list everywhere? Stieg Larsson.

1. “The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet’s Nest” by Stieg Larsson
2. “The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo” by Stieg Larsson
3. “Room” by Emma Donahue

United States
1. “The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo” by Stieg Larsson
2. “The Girl Who Played With Fire” by Stieg Larsson
3. “The Lost Symbol” by Dan Brown

United Kingdom
1. “The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo” by Stieg Larsson
2. “The Confession” James E. Mcgreevey
3. “The Girl Who Played With Fire” by Stieg Larsson

1. “The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo” by Stieg Larsson
2. “The Girl Who Kicked The Hornets’ Nest” by Stieg Larsson
3. “The Girl Who Played With Fire” by Stieg Larsson

Rest Of World
1. “The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo” by Stieg Larsson
2. “Dead Or Alive” by Tom Clancy
3. “The 4-Hour Body” by Timothy Ferriss

As for me, I spent yesterday watching the movie version of The Girl Who Played With Fire. Stieg rules in multimedia too.

The future of journalism: Beats

If you care about the state of news media and the changes that are being driven by social media and digital news distribution, you should be reading the Nieman Journalism Lab blog and the Nieman Reports magazine. Here, you’ll find a stream of provocative thought about the role of journalism and how to secure quality journalism in the changing mediascape.

The Winter 2010 edition of Nieman Reports takes a close look at the importance of beats in news coverage the impact of their disappearance as newsrooms shrink and what might replace them in the future.

Two of the articles stood out for me.

In The Blog as Beat, Juanita Leon illustrates how the focused blog can supplement newsrooms to provide the in-depth, sustained coverage of a beat. Leon argues

I increasingly believe that the role of specialized blogs is to create beats for journalists. Typically, newspaper and TV reporters rely on tips from sources for their stories. Now blogs and journalistic websites like La Silla Vacía are starting to be significant forces in our media ecosystem. With an investigative blog like ours, we have four or five reporters covering one topic in-depth while the traditional beat reporter is expected to cover many issues at once. This means that the reporting we do often becomes a first stop for many newspaper and broadcast political reporters. By gathering expert opinion, inside information, and high-level analysis, we’ve created a hub from which can emerge new angles on news stories.

In It’s Expertise that Matters, Michael Riley argues that expertise has value and new business models will recognize this.

…expertise, exclusivity and depth. Those are the elements, it turns out, that imbue content with value, a process, I would argue, that holds the key to journalism’s future success.The next wave of journalistic progress will channel its power from the underlying principle of the reporter’s beat: the creation by an expert of valuable content that readers need and can’t find anywhere else. This proper emphasis on expertise promises to give rise to a subscription-based business model in which people will pay for exclusive content they value.

You may have missed these articles in the rush to Christmas. If you did, I think you’ll find it worth your time to go back and read them now.

A delicious replacement: Diigo

I’ve been using Diigo since last week’s news that Yahoo was threatening to “sunset” Delicious. After several days use, I’ve found Diigo to be a worthy replacement for Delicious. In some ways, Diigo is what Delicious should have become if Yahoo had not let Delicious languish. On the other hand, there are still a few gaps in Diigo’s features.

I know that others are looking for a Delicious replacement. To help you in that process, I’d like to offer my early impressions of Diigo.

Diigo Strengths

Browser extensions: Diigo offers a set of easy to install browser extensions. I’ve installed the Firefox toolbar and I’m using it regularly to tag content and highlight passages of particular interest. It’s simple to install, easy to use. It’s quickly become a must have tool.

Read later: Diigo incorporates a read later button in its Firefox toolbar. This feature emulates the core function that attracted me to Instapaper, the wildly successful iPad app. With a simple click on the Read Later toolbar button, I can save an item directly into Diigo to review and tag when I have the time to pay attention to it. A real time saving feature that streamlines my workflow and reduces the number of applications I need to use (Sorry, Instapaper.)

Highlight: Diigo enables me to highlight passages within a post. When I later call up the Diigo bookmark, I can see those passages still highlighted, enabling me to quickly find the most important content even in the longest posts.

Publishing to my blog: Diigo has a feature that enables me to publish links I have saved along with my annotations directly to my Pro PR blog – one at a time or in batches on a daily or weekly basis. This feature can be set to publish automatically or create a draft post. I’ve set my preferences to create a daily draft post. Already, I’ve used it to generate an idea for yesterday’s post, You can’t put the Delicious Genie back in the bottle. Diigo automatically provided me with a draft post containing links to posts I’d tagged about Yahoo’s leaked intention to sunset delicious. I chose a couple of those and wrote a post about my own feelings about what had happened to Delicious.

Sharing: Diigo enables me to share links with one click to twitter, Facebook and via e-mail. An absolute essential for any social bookmarking tool.

Cross post to Delicious: This may be the most important feature for me. Diigo enables me to save and tag content to to Delicious with the same click that saves and tags that content into Diigo itself. This feature is enabled with a simple one step set up, following which it works automatically whenever you save content. Why is this important to me? Because I still hope that something can be done to save and revitalize Delicious. So it always gives me a way to go home.

Diigo Weaknesses

Browser extensions: While I love the Diigo toolbar for Firefox, the Google extension seems like a dumbed down version. It lacks some functionality, including the ability to mark text to read later. I hope that Diigo soon will upgrade the Google extension to offer all the same features found on the Firefox toolbar.

Sharing and discovery: This is one area where nothing equals Delicious. Delicious was designed for social tagging, for ease of sharing. It enabled me to easily see who else had tagged an item that interested me and to search other tags by those users. Diigo feels more like Evernote, a program that was designed first as a place to store content for personal use. Hopefully, the wave of former delicious users who now have arrived at Diigo will give its developers reason to make the social aspects of taking more central to Diigo’s architecture.

Find me on Diigo

If you’re interested in how I’m using Diigo now, I am thornley on Diigo.

Do you agree?

What do you think? Have I missed something here? Is your experience with Diigo or any other delicious replacement different from mine?

You can't put the Delicious Genie back in the bottle

This was the week that delicious died. For me and for many others.

Delicious was one of the very first social services that I discovered when I became interested in blogging. It was a true  pioneer. Delicious was my first working experience of social software that realized the full potential of folksonomy.  The genius of delicious was the introduction of the concept that I could attach as many tags to an item as I wanted, ensuring that I could recover that item at a later time by typing in a keyword that was meaningful to me in the context in which I thought of that item. which I found infinitely superior to traditional rigid taxonomies. (If you’re new to the concept, David Weinberger‘s Everything is Miscellaneous provides a great introduction to the opportunity that digitized data provides for us to organize information in ways that is meaningful to ourselves and the people with whom we have a community of interest.) Add to this the ability to share these tags with friends and co-workers and you had a tool that was unlike anything that had come before and instantly useful.

In many ways delicious is my online memory. I use it daily. I bookmark items for future reference in blog posts, in presentations, and when trying to make sense of the world.

When I saw the news of its impending demise, I realized that I couldn’t lose the data I’d collected in Delicious. So I looked for an alternative.

I wasn’t alone. Twitter and the blogosphere were full of messages about delicious alternatives. If the sheer volume of discussion is any indicator, delicious lost a huge number of users when the news of its impending demise spread.

Yahoo tried to put the genie back in the bottle with a post saying that the memo had been misinterpreted and that indeed Yahoo would find a new owner for delicious instead of shutting it down.

Sadly, I think the damage had already been done and loyal delicious users like myself discovered an alternative that actually offered many better features over a much loved service that Yahoo had allowed to languish and become a laggard instead of an innovator.

I’ve moved on, ported my Delicious tags into a new service, Diigo, and discovered I like it better. (More on Diigo tomorrow.)

Content Rules with C.C. Chapman at Third Tuesday

Here’s some news that I hope you’ll like: C.C. Chapman, co-author with Ann Handley, of Content Rules, is making a cross country tour of Third Tuesdays in January. C.C. will be at Third Tuesday Montreal on January 17, Third Tuesday Toronto on January 18, Third Tuesday Calgary on January 19 and Third Tuesday Vancouver on January 20.

What’s Content Rules all about? In C.C.’s words:

Content Rules: How to Create the Right Kind of Stuff That Engages (Not Bores) Your Customers

Your brand is a publisher now. That’s a frightening notion, perhaps, but it’s also a tremendous opportunity. Blogs, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and other online platforms are giving organizations like yours an unprecedented opportunity to engage directly with your customers. So instead of creating awareness about your company or your brand solely the old-school way (through annoying people with advertising, or bugging them with direct mail, or interrupting them with whatever), you now have a rich and awesome alternative.

Now, thanks to the advent of the Internet and the rise of Web-based tools and technologies, you can create the kind

of web content, blog posts, videos, webinars, and web sites that will attract customers to you, rather than you chasing after them. What’s more, you can entice your customers to share those stories with each other, all across the web.

Produce good stuff, and your customers will come to you. Produce great stuff, and your customers will share your story for you: Content is king! Content rules!

Read the book. Meet the author

And here’s some more good news. When I told the folks at Kobo that we’d be having C.C. as our first speaker of the New Year, they made a point of ensuring that we can buy Content Rules as an ebook from Kobo. I love Kobo because, unlike Amazon, the books are available in the open ePub format and I can read them in the reader of my choice. So, if you’re planning to attend, hop over to Kobo and buy Content Rules as an eBook. Or, if you still love the feel of bound paper, you can order a physical of Content Rules from Chapters. Either way, reading the book before you meet C.C. will add to your experience.

Thank you to our Sponsors

Finally, as always, I want to thank the Third Tuesday sponsors – CNW Group, Rogers Communications, Radian6 and Fairmont Hotels and Resorts. Their sponsorship for Third Tuesday makes it possible for us to bring great speakers like C.C. not only to Toronto, but to Third Tuesdays across the country. Thank you CNW, Rogers, Radian6 and Fairmont for helping us to build a vibrant community of social media practitioners.

Evernote makes my content available to me on all my devices

There was a time when I worked on a personal computer. I’d start my workday by going to my desk and turning on the computer.  When I got up from my desk and left the office, I left my work behind until I arrived at the office the next morning. Those days are long gone.

Today, I use many devices – in the office, while travelling, at home. Depending on where I am during any routine workday, I’ll use a notebook computer, a cell phone, a tablet, and a desktop computer.

In a typical day, I start to work on a presentation on my desktop computer, continue to edit it on my notebook computer when travelling, and show it on a tablet at a meeting. Along the way, I may want to jot down a voicemail or capture a picture via my cell phone that I want to integrate into the final product.

I use a great application, Evernote, to store my information in a place where I can access it from all of my devices. It lets me create notes, audio notes, pictures, and save files so that I can access them from any of my devices. And it synchronizes the data automatically each time I sign onto a device. So I always know I’d using the current version.

This is one of those applications that works, simply and perfectly. I can’t imagine going back to a time when I had to transfer files and notes from one device to another using a USB stick or e-mailing them to myself. With Evernote, my content is always available to me on any device I pick up.

If you’re  interested in Evernote, watch this introductory video. It will give you a much better sense of how useful this program really is.

If you use Evernote, I’d be interested in knowing what you think of it. Or if you use a different program for the same purpose, I’d be interested in knowing about that too. Please tell me what you think in the comments section below.

You’ll also notice at the bottom of this post that I’ve integrated an Evernote Clip button into the design of If you haven’t tried Evernote, set up an account and use the Evernote Clip button to save this post. You’ll see how easy it is to grab content off the Internet.

The Enduring Value of Blogs

…blogging perseveres – as it should. It is a place where context, thoughtfullness and continuity are rewarded with inbound links, ReTweets, bookmarks, comments and Likes. Blogs are the digital library of our intellect, experience, and vision. Their longevity far outlasts the short-term memory of Twitter or any other micro network. In fact, with Twitter, we are simply competing for the moment. With blogs, we are investing in our digital legacy.

Brian Solis captures in a paragraph why I continue to blog. Thank you Brian for a succinct reminder of the enduring value of blogging.

The rest of Brian’s post is well worth reading – an analysis of key indicators in Technorati’s 2010 State of the Blogosphere report.

The Moustache growing is over, but the giving goes on

My moustache is about to disappear for another eleven months. After 30 days, this is what I produced on my face this year. As soon as I get back to Ottawa tonight, the moustache will come off and my family will rejoice.

But you know that the moustache isn’t really the objective. In fact, it’s simply a way to point to two very worthy causes: Movember and Mustaches for Kids. Even though my moustache growing is done for another year, you still can give to these two worthy causes.

Want to make a contribution?

Click over either to my Movember page to contribute to fight prostate cancer or Mustaches for Kids to make a sick child’s wish come true. Either way, you’ll help make the world a little bit better.