Tag Archive | "professional"

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The Human Side of Government Collaboration, IDEO Style

At the ACT/IAC Executive Leadership Conference, I just heard a panel about “innovation” that included David Haygood, a partner at the design firm IDEO. They’ve worked on something that’s touched your life: the Apple mouse, the Motorola VoIP phone, the design of Acela trains for Amtrak, and the Bank of America “change back” products and services are all things they’ve had a major hand in designing.

They’ve also worked with the government, and Haygood mentioned work they’ve done with the Intelligence Community (IC) and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). One big theme of his was including the end user early in the process. As he related what one intelligence analyst told him, “Development happens to us, not for us.”

Haywood outlined some fundamentals of the “human side of collaboration,” having empathy for the end user. One, a design thinking process that includes enlightened trial and error and an easy-to-share narrative for senior executives. Two, a tangible working process. Three, a shared experience of a team that bonds together.

There’s so much more about design that I can’t possibly put in this brief post. But if you’re in government, or work with it, and are interested in the process of innovation, check out IDEO: http://ideo.com

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I Unleash My Journalism Students To Critique Newsweek’s Daniel Lyons

September 17th, 2009 – a day that will live in infamy.  It is the day I officially became bored with defending Twitter to columnists that “don’t get” the popular microsharing service.  On that day, Newsweek columnist Daniel Lyons (who frankly, I’d never heard of until that day, even though I knew of his Fake Steve Jobs work – great PR!) wrote a piece called “Don’t Tweet On Me: Twitter shows that stupid stuff sells,” which I immediately hated for at least three reasons.  One, most things people say seem stupid and useless to random people, so this is not novel observation.  Two, everyone who has observed general society knows that stupid sells (maybe Lyons should visit a comedy club sometime?).  And three, Lyons effectively insults 99.9% of the population with his remarks (of course, they didn’t notice because they don’t read Newsweek – whew, bullet dodged).

But honestly, I’m bored with writing posts about Twitter.  I don’t really care if anyone “gets it” at this point – frankly, the less people and businesses use it the more advantage those that do gain over the others, and that’s much more fun to watch.  There are tangible benefits quantified and qualified out there – and I feel no need to share them here.  But please don’t think how busy I am means that I don’t think Daniel Lyons should escape a good skewering.

So, taking a page out of the Web 2.0 playbook I’m fond of, I crowdsourced the task to my journalism students (each writer volunteered and no one was graded) in the School of Media and Public Affairs at The George Washington University in Washington, DC.  I’m currently teaching a class called Sustainable Journalism in a New Media Age, and I felt this would be a perfect opportunity for some of my students to publish something on True/Slant, to work out their contrarian / critique style, and to perform a useful service to humanity – picking apart Daniel Lyons’ arguments about how stupid Twitter is.  (And maybe they will even personally experience mainstream media blowback!)

Starting on Monday, look for brief, funny, engaging, authentic and biting guest posts from four of my undergrad students in my column at True/Slant.  They’re going to be great.  Not only do they poke, poke, poke at Newsweek until its measly article looks like Swiss cheese (sorry Jon Meacham, I like you), but keep in mind that these writers are ages 18-21 – and by the time they graduate this hot young talent probably wouldn’t be caught dead working for a dinosaur like Newsweek.  But I’ll let them speak for themselves.

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Proactive Social Media: Filling the Information Space With Great Content

I recently gave a talk titled Free the People! at the Potomac Forum’s Government 2.0 Leadership, Collaboration, and Public Engagement Symposium in Washington, DC that generated enough interest for me to post my slide deck and write a summary for a wider audience. These thoughts constitute some of my early ideas about “offensive social media” for organizations (this talk was particularly geared towards a government audience, but the fundamentals apply to the private and public sectors more broadly).

Read the rest of this article at the PR 2.0 blog!

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Don’t Aspire To Be a Writer

Today I saw the phrase “aspiring writer” in someone’s brief biography. But there’s no longer a need to aspire to be a writer. The proliferation of blogs have made it possible for anyone to publish anything at anytime and share it with the world. Sure, the popularity of your writing will vary, but not your ability to do it in the first place. Stop aspiring to be a writer, and be a writer.

Ironically, the aforementioned person’s biography was on Twitter, where they were publishing their own writing, even as they thought they were only aspiring to.

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Strategic vs. Popular Event Attendance

People frequently ask me if I’m going to this or that event. Are you going to SXSW? Are you going to Gnomedex? And I often say no.

It’s okay to defy people’s expectations. Most people are followers and attend whatever events everyone else is attending, often without a great reason. When people ask me if I’m attending an event I don’t plan to attend, I do say “No” but then I usually ask, “Why should I go?” – and I usually don’t get a great answer.

To me that’s just more justification for not attending.

Everything starts with a strategy for you and your career. Don’t go to Gov 2.0 Summit or SXSW or Personal Democracy Forum or anything else without a great reason – and preferably more than one. You have to do what works for you. Events are just tools that help you complete your mission better. That’s all.

Personally, I mix small free events that are great for networking with some high profile events in my area where I can learn something new with academic conferences to think about things more abstractly with events outside my area to deliberately take me outside my element with conferences I speak at to get feedback about my ideas. That’s why I attend lots of events but any one person feels like they don’t see me very often.

This month I’ll speak to the Network of Entreprenurial Women in Washington, the World Tech Summit in New York, the Open Government & Innovations Conference back in Washington, then the 5th Annual National Veteran Small Business Conference and Expo in Las Vegas. All different, all broadening who I am and how I think.

Pick and choose your events according to what works for you, not peer pressure. Sometimes the event that “everyone is going to” works for you, and sometimes it doesn’t. Buck the crowd sometimes – that’s what will enhance you and set you apart.

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Reviving the Reality Television Genre

Last night, the lovely Joan Rivers was awarded the title of “The Apprentice” on Donald Trump’s show, now in it’s…hmm, well, I don’t know what season they’re in anymore. I stopped watching years ago. Frankly, the only people I remember are Bill someone-or-other (because he won the first season and smokes cigars), Omarosa no-last-name-needed (because I met her again recently and she is fierce), and Rebecca Jarvis (who I crush on when I watch her report on CNBC).

Reality television programming is dying a very, very slow death. Who can’t see this coming? Older brands like The Apprentice, Survivor, and American Idol simply have lost their buzz, and many others are completely gone from our minds (remember Paradise Hotel?) Even a relatively good, relatively new show like The Hills is based on an older show, Laguna Beach: The Real Orange County, practically a distant memory now. (Trust me, I used to live in Orange County, and I loved it, but once you get past talking about blondes, the beach, and beer there’s little more material to build on.)  Sure, some of these shows still make money, but which direction are the trendlines pointing? The reality television bubble is ready to pop.

But is reality entertainment played out, as well? Not hardly. Most everyone loves people watching. Freelancers sitting in Starbucks looking at each other pretending to work on laptops practically passes for a reasonable business model. Gen Xers and Baby Boomers mine Twitter for gossip and news and jobs and the newest battle-of-the-geeks-they-don’t-know. Facebook is making it easier and easier to stalk your best friends, your worst enemies, and people you’d like to know in cities you don’t live in. Television channels like E! remain popular, Ryan Seacrest has four jobs, and magazines like People still fly off the shelves as they report on every triviality of celebrity life. No extra pound is too small, no frenemy too obscure, no vacation too remote to report on.

Let’s face it. We love reality, and the masters of the genre know it. Ashton Kutcher has a million Twitter followers, yes, but others are quickly catching on to the new interface between emerging personal media technologies and personalized public relations. None other than Paris Hilton has recently been Twittering her way through a weeklong beach paradise vacation with her boyfriend. Reporting that the paparazzi hadn’t found her yet, she herself was photographing and publishing their experience for thousands of her fans. How long before she is using a Flip cam or live streaming on Qik? (How long until her publicist has to take a pay cut?)

Less popular but still interesting people are doing the same things. Blogger and Air America Radio personality Ana Marie Cox spent her weekend reporting live from the events surrounding the annual White House Correspondents’ Dinner – just using her phone. Her photos and witty comments are sent to nearly 500,000 followers – more than the average cable television news program has tuning in. Even a relatively less famous blogger like me has an amusing, snarky impersonator, who in a bizzaro fashion is really just publicizing my brand of writing to an audience of non-traditional fans.

One can only conclude from this that reality entertainment is raging, but not in the usual places. It’s hard to imagine a reality television show in its current form based around me, or Ana Marie Cox – yet we’re popular, at least in microniches. Television doesn’t yet exploit that fact.

It’s time for an infusion of new media technology into the medium formerly known as television. Here’s the current strategy: TV networks record attractive people facing hard challenges under interesting circumstances 24 hours a day for months and then air less than one hour of that a week. Whose bright idea was this for 2009?

It’s hard to believe that nothing interesting happens during the other 167.4 hours. The viewers don’t care about TV producers, directors, and editors. They don’t care about production costs and marketing deals and advertising tie-ins and intellectual property. They watch shows because they want to know what people are doing, and traditional networks are withholding that information. Viewers now want to decide what’s interesting and useful in those “extra” hours. They want that power, as unreasonable as it may seem.

Reality television shows are carefully crafted into storylines and so arguably they are not showing “true reality,” which the raw footage would then reveal. But does anyone care? Would this spoil some grand surprise? Maybe from time to time, but surely at this point most people have pulled the wool back from their eyes. Viewers know it’s altered reality – but they are willing to suspend logic in the interest of being entertained and distracted from their own reality.

Moreover, the all-important Gen Y viewership wants to reinterpret everything, mash it up with other video clips, add soundtracks of hip hop music, share their creations with friends, mine it for ideas and innuendo, and use it in amateur films. Viewers want to “democratize” the footage. Fair or not – that’s what increasingly tech-savvy audiences want – they want to participate in reality.  Although this cult of the amateur produces a lot of garbage, it’s also true that there are diamonds in the rough – and struggling entertainment companies always on the lookout for the next thing should be keen to polish those rare gems.

What’s my advice? Free the footage, I say to television networks and production companies and movie studios. Break down the barriers to participation and collaboration. Create repositories where hours of raw footage can live and be reused ad infinitum under a Creative Commons license. Even better, provide a platform like YouTube where these amateur film directors can upload the creations they’ve made with your footage. Better still, have them create user profiles and recruit the cream of the crop for an internship program within the company. Create the next generation of employees and let them have fun during an informal application process that gets their creative juices flowing. Because my wager is that they’ve got your next great idea.

This article originally appeared in my column at True/Slant.

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Web 2.0 Throwdown: Print vs. Post

There is a tremendous amount of interest in emerging media technologies in 2009. They are disrupting many areas of great interest – advertising, publishing, job searching, professional networking, military recruiting, charity fundraising, and political campaigning, to name a few. And in this economy, in this seeming moment of change, it is more important to keep up with trends in communications technology than ever before; that knowledge may be the difference between winning or losing a job, a contract, or even the leadership of a country.

Kate Michael is hosting an event called PRINT VS. POST on Wed, May 13th at the National Press Club in Washington, DC, in order to discuss some of these important issues with two great thought leaders: Andrew Keen of Berkeley, CA, and Peter Shankman from New York, NY.  Both are best-selling authors, both frequent keynote speakers, both incredibly outspoken and interesting, they will face off and discuss and debate issues related to new media and journalism, government, and politics for an hour. They’ll also be signing books and attending a charity after-party at local nightclub Lotus Lounge.

I’m really excited to be hosting such an important and timely event.  If you’re a writer, you need to attend. If you’re in public relations, you really need to attend. And if you’re a future 2010 Congressional campaign staffer, you super really need to attend, because now that the Obama campaign put new media on the radar, everybody wants in. And your knowledge will be useful. And from a learning and networking standpoint, getting a VIP ticketis the way to go – not only will you be able to attend the event in person, you’ll have a good chance of winning both of the author’s autographed books in a raffle, and will also gain access to the Newsbabes Bash for Breast Cancer afterwards, where you will see me, Kate, Andrew, Peter, and many media personalities having a great time!

Please click here and pick up a ticket before they’re all gone!!

Andrew Keen of Berkeley, CA has been called “the Antichrist of Silicon Valley” for his controversial views of Web 2.0 and its effects on society. His book The Cult of the Amateur is hated but well-read for its insight into how the democratization of data is changing everything about how we interact with one another and live our lives at their core. The demise of well-compensated experts, the influx of junk on the Web, and the accessibility of opinions over facts are just a few reasons that emerging Web 2.0 social technologies are destroying life as we know it.

Or are they? Peter Shankman from New York, NY is well known as a public relations maven from his days at AOL and his book Can We Do That? But more recently he has started the service best known as HARO, which stands for Help a Reporter Out. Peter makes a living by using social tools that connect people to effectively link up journalists with sources (a.k.a. “hacks and flacks”) – and keep reporters and writers in business. Leveraging old school email newsletters three times a day with new media like blogging and Twitter, HARO is a platform to keep experts around for a long time to come.

So which is it? Is Web 2.0 destroying our culture? Is it deconstructing the very nature of books, of words? What are the effects on the future of mainstream media, of newspapers, of television and radio? What should students be learning in journalism schools, and should they even bother going anymore? And how might these emerging technologies affect how the 2010 mid-term Congressional campaigns are conducted? And what’s unique about Twitter that’s making it so popular right now?

Keen and Shankman will face off in an hour long discussion moderated by Washington, DC’s very own Dr. Mark Drapeau, a prolific writer, animal behavior scientist, and strategic consultant to the government on social media issues. He knows these guys, he’s read their books, and he knows how to push their buttons. And he’ll get the most out of them for the audience in order to answer the questions above, and your unrehearsed questions too.

When: May 13, 2009, 6:00 – 7:00 PM
Where: National Press Club

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Why I’m Writing for True/Slant

Yesterday, the alpha version of an exciting new journalism site called True/Slant became public. This is something I have been working on behind closed doors since January. True/Slant, a privately held company funded by Forbes Media and Velocity Interactive Group, is based in New York and has recruited about 60 writers, or ‘knowledge experts’ to write columns about things we’re interested in, along the lines of our motto: “News is More Than What Happens”. You can see my column, named Cheeky Geeky, here.

As the Wall Street Journal personal technology columnist Walter Mossberg points out in the premiere review of True/Slant this morning, the site is truly trying a new model of web journalism. When I had some initial discussions with the True/Slant team, particularly the Executive Director Coates Bateman (who will no doubt be challenged with ‘managing’ me), I was very excited to hear how social media tools would be mixed with original long form writing. And they were excited to hear about my knowledge of social networks and new marketing that’s come from experimenting with the tools for some time now.

Another quasi-news site based on blogging and funded by advertising, you say. What’s really different about True/Slant? Actually, a LOT.

For one, each contributor has their own platform under the True/Slant umbrella. That means that you can subscribe to just my articles from True/Slant, and not every author’s articles. That also means that advertisers can place ads about, say, technology on my column, and ads about food on my friend Robin Dorian’s ‘foodie’ column called Weird and Delicious. Hence, writers have a vested interest in exploring their niches and making their pages the best possible, worrying somewhat less about the overall True/Slant site.

True/Slant also wants you to know what it’s columnists are reading. Don’t you sometimes ask yourself where your favorite authors get their food for thought? At True/Slant, we tell you. We rip headlines of stories we’re reading and post links on our pages. And on the homepage, editors curate these headlines so you can see a mix of what everyone’s reading, and perhaps get a peek inside our minds as we work throughout the day.

Another thing that is different about True/Slant is a sense of community. As columnists we are strongly encouraged to follow other writers’ columns and post comments on their blog posts. This is already starting to build cohesion among the writers and throughout the site. Readers will learn more about our personalities and understand us more as people, and not just anonymous writers that put up a column once a week. I think this is not unlike the ‘ambient intimacy‘ that people feel when following someone on Twitter for a while.

Yet another unique feature of True/Slant is the plan for advertisers to have columns. Clearly marked as advertising, and perhaps similar to glossy special advertising sections of magazines, this is another potential revenue source that at the same time does not involve columnists in, say, getting paid to write about their views of brands – a highly controversial topic.

Finally, we want True/Slant to be a social network. The readers get involved too – when you comment on our posts, we can “call you out” for a great comment. Readers that get called out a lot will get recognition, as will readers that comment frequently. So, this is a multidirectional conversation – columnists are readers and commenters, and readers are commenters that join our social network. Even management is commenting on our columns – which is pretty cool if you ask me.

I truly believe that True/Slant is a step forward in combining the best of journalism and opinion writing with the best of social networking. It’s something I haven’t yet seen in sites like the Huffington Post, Slate, The Daily Beast, or Salon. Even great sites like Mashable and TechCrunch that cover the Web 2.0 sphere of news, for all their RSS subscribers and Twitter followers, do not empower their columnists nor engender a sense of community. So I think we are pushing the envelope. As I once heard Pete Cashmore, the CEO of Mashable, say – Return on Engagement is the new Return on Investment. True/Slant is poised to make a large ROE by creating a platform for the community that may evolve into loyal readers, in order to then generate a more traditional ROI.

And this is just the start. Looking towards a beta version in May 2009, in the near future True/Slant will have more WordPress plug-ins, integration with Facebook walls and Twitter posts, and other new features that should make the columnist and reader experiences even better. Remember, what you see now is just the early alpha site!

Every week, I plan to publish exclusive opinion pieces on Tuesdays, satires on Thursdays, and a feature called “The Best, The Worst, and The Weird” on Sundays, the latter of which will highlight the best, worst, and weird thing I read in the past week – so send me your ideas!

As Mossberg says in his review of True/Slant, there’s no guarantee that this will all work. But I think that the management of True/Slant is pushing the envelope with regard to the interface of old and new media, and so at the very least it is very exciting to be a part of a great experiment at its most nacent.

For now, check out my column, and start interacting with some of the other great writers on the site. They also author stories for Rolling Stone, Time, Financial Times, and other great outlets, and write about everything from politics to restaurants to neuroscience. Comment on the columns, and tell me about what you do and do not like about the site! From the CEO and Founder, Lewis Dvorkin on down, they are truly listening to what you have to say – and writing columns themselves!

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Books: Currency of the Professional Writer

The essence of knowledge sharing in a democratized, long-tail, Web 2.0 world is that common people can seamlessly transition between being an author and a member of the audience. Persons with any background, qualifications, and interests can easily set up a blog or other online publishing platform and release their views to the world in minutes. Self-publishing, and indeed self-marketing, has never been easier.

But what is a blog post really worth?

Even if you write for a niche audience – and let’s face it, most everyone does – it’s common to want to increase the size of your niche. Perhaps you start as a medical reporter, but you want to be a more general science, technology, medicine, and space journalist. Or your website initially features blog posts about your children, but your goal is to create a parenting information portal. Whatever the details, it’s usually better to have more readers, all other things being equal.

Participation in traditional mainstream media can definitely bring traffic to your blog. But when was the last time you saw a blogger, however good, on Today, or Live With Regis and Kelly, or Late Night with David Letterman, or Meet the Press, or The O’Reilly Factor, or Real Time with Bill Maher, or Oprah? Basically, never.

Do you know which writers you do see on those shows? People who wrote books. Yup, they’re the author of a book, and they’re hawking it. Then the next day they’ll get on a plane and do a book signing in San Francisco, or Portland, or Kansas City. No one goes on Meet the Press or O’Reilly and hawks their latest blog post, or even their latest Rolling Stone or Vanity Fair article. Have you ever seen a blog signing? Even someone has well known as Christopher Hitchens goes on a show as the author of – now in paperback – God is Not Great, and not as the writer of the post he did in Slate last week – no matter how good that post is.

(About the best exception to this I can think of is a model signing the cover of a magazine she’s in. So, if you’re a beautiful swimsuit model and you’re reading this, please don’t be offended, and thank you for your support.)

Yes, to some extent book publishers are ‘in bed with’ television and radio producers. And sure, this pattern is changing somewhat. You occasionally see someone only famous for online writing get their spotlight on television. But are they ever asked back, or do they just get 15 minutes every 15 years? People who author books get fast-tracked for bigger mass media engagements that yield positive feedback for whatever else they do – run a small business, work at a think tank, or even…blog. And this is the true distinction between ‘writers’ and ‘authors’ – authors have books.

While in the disintermediated Web 2.0-powered publishing world it has become more and more difficult to determine who the ‘elite’ writers are (quality, not popularity), the same isn’t true of authors. Elite authors have book contracts with known publishers. If they’re super-elite, authors have multi-book contracts, their books are featured in brick-and-mortar stores and Amazon alike, and they get paid to read their own words in front of a live audience. Has anyone ever paid a writer to read their latest blog post out loud in front of an audience??

No one’s immune. Major online entities like Gary Vaynerchuk and Peter Shankman give keynote addresses at conference, and often get paid for it. Guess what? They’ve authored books. Same with many other similar people. Conversely, I can also think of some well-known Web 2.0 personalities who run blogs but haven’t authored books outlining their thoughts about some topic in depth. Interestingly, I can’t remember seeing them on television, either. (And the notion that they don’t want to be on television is bullshit – everyone wants to be on television.)

So I posit that authoring books is the measure of the writing elite, they are the sign that you’ve made it, they are the calling card of the true stars in a sea of words.

True, you can self-publish books with greater ease than ever before. This process has been interesting and controversial for years. But what was the last self-published book that you bought for $29.95? Who was the last self-published author you remember on Oprah’s infamous Book Club? The fact of the matter is that the cream tends to rise to the top, and great authors will eventually get a major publishing deal. There are good reasons to self-publish a book you’ve written, but fame isn’t one of them.

And let’s not even discuss the even greater disparity between online music and video stars on YouTube and other sites, and actual rock stars and movie legends. Yes, free flowing audio and video serves a purpose in society, but when we’ve forgotten most of the winners from American Idol, what’s the chance you’re going to convert a YouTube channel into something bigger?

So, viewing writing through this lense, I’m not too concerned about the cult of the amateur ruining the profession. Everyone will continue to give their slant on the truth, sites like Wikipedia will continue to weight opinions from ‘experts’ and amateurs equally, and newspapers and other media will continue to lose share. But don’t fret – we’ll still know who the best writers are. They’ve authored a book.

See more opinion pieces like this in my upcoming column at True/Slant.

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News Flash: Your Blog Sucks

Your blog sucks.

People say that finding true talent in the blogosphere is like finding a needle in a haystack. Well, finding talent in your writing is probably more like finding a needle in a stack of paperclips. NASA would need the world’s largest magnet connected to an artificial intelligence supercomputer to find the thing you wrote that moved any one’s speedometer. You’re probably a late-comer. I’m an early adopter. I bet you’re not even a go-getter or a self-starter like me. You gave up on being a star athlete, movie actor, astronaut, or whatever your childhood dream was so long ago, and have settled for a lame job – yet you still want to be “a player.” I’m living the dream. Your dream sucks.

You think blogging is your big shot! It’s flat, it’s democratizing, there’s a low barrier to entry. But you’ve got nothing to write about, so you read what thought leaders like me write and imitate us. You’re a pathetic excuse for a writer. You copy-and-paste two sentences of what I write and then add one sentence of semi-original thought that you probably borrowed from the The New Yorker or Wired. You’re completely derivative. You’re trite. You’re weak. You’re boring. You’re a bad writer. My blog rocks. Your blog sucks.

People like me who write great stuff write great stuff. We don’t care if it’s a book or a tweet. It’s great. We rise to whatever challenge is in front of us. Short 300 word book review? No problem. Book about the global economy? I can put my twist on that. Six word story? Hemingway rocked “For sale: Baby shoes, Never worn.” long before Twitter came along, and did it far better than anything in your pitiful tweetstream of crap that used to be contained snugly within your AIM window. People talk about the risks of new media and reduced privacy; I wish you kept more of your inane thoughts private, because they’re a risk to your readers. Every tweet of mine counts. Your microblog sucks.

Your resume completely lacks anything that smacks of true success in life, since you’ve hopped from job to job with no strategic plan. You think that college is overrated, despite the fact that everyone whose writing you admire has a college degree, or like me, more than one. Your delusions of grandeur in ‘real world experience’ translate into delusions of vitae – every measly job you’ve had has a long title and a longer explanation for what you think you accomplished. And now you’re on a personal branding kick, recasting yourself in your self-produced movie of self-grandeur as a media consultant or a life coach or a public speaker or a new marking maven. But nothing you’ve done motivates people into action. You’re so lame. No one talks about you when you’re not there. My resume glows like an angel’s halo. Your resume sucks.

Even worse, you live vicariously through people like me who have great blogs. You fantasize that you’re me. Like sugarplums, your imagination thinks of being retweeted 100 times an hour, leading the pack. You imagine your name on the cover of famous books, award-winning books, even. Your audience laughs at your every witticism, knows every brilliant reference, is amazed by your insight. But alas, it’s all a dream. Rather than neurons, your brain is full of bubbles of thought, waiting to be burst. No one repeats what you say, because they’re not compelled to – and when they do, it’s just something derived from something someone else did that actually was original, like what I do every day. Congrats! You discovered someone else’s stuff! You say you are all about kicking ass, but I’m the one kicking your ass. My middle name is creativity. Your creative juices flow like molasses (and suck).

You dream of throwing an event or starting a tweetup and having everyone who’s everyone come. But that’s how it works in my life, not yours. Sadly your tweetups suck as bad as your blog – no one comes, and the ones that do have nothing to say. It’s a metaphor for your social network of useless self-serving circular conversations that can be quantified to absolute zero. Luckily there are lots of people like you, banding together into quasi-satisfying RSS feed and Twitter follower numbers. But all that effort amounts to less than nothing, because beyond not making things happen you’re wasting your time trying to force synergy from a stone. And probably drinking bad beer in suburbia, too. No wonder thought leaders, intellectuals, and real writers like me don’t go to all your stupid tweetups – it makes them dumber. People beg to be where I’m at. Your events suck.

So then you start to envy the great bloggers like me that you initially admired. Worse, you begin to hate them. You resent them. Why didn’t you come to my event, Mark? Why can’t I have that well-read blog like Mark? Why don’t 20 or 100 people comment on my articles like Mark gets?? I could do that! Wait, no, you can’t. You are on the outside looking in, window-shopping my life, salivating for my fandom. I’m at the right place at the right time, writing the right thing, like magic. But it’s not magic – I’m just better at doing it than you. I have talent. To me it’s a profession and to you an afterthought. Stop looking at me. Your envy sucks.

Wait! You have a personal blog! You have a platform – you’re powerful!! If you just blog the right thing, people will read it, post it, bookmark it, retweet it – it doesn’t matter that you’re small, you say – you’re speaking truth to power!! You’ll lead the tribe of the rank-and-file!! When people find just the right ‘filter’ they’ll find you for sure!!! So, those you initially admired become targets for your snipes. Hey, you, thought leader! You used the wrong word here! You spelled something wrong, you’re not as smart as you think you are! Here’s a better metaphor for your idea, see I’m smart too – just like you!! Why did that school hire you as an adjunct professor, you’re no genius!! Watch out, here I come! Yeah, well, Eminem may have said “I am whatever you say I am” – but with no influence, that only applies to your own mind. I’m the quarterback, you’re the sportscaster. And your commentary sucks.

Hey athlete, hey movie star, hey talk show host, hey professor, hey uber-consultant, hey famous analyst, hey book author, hey socialite, you’re so overrated, why do you get to be on all the panels, nyah nyah, I already know everything you said in that keynote (mostly because I read your blog posts the instant they come out, and then comment on them, linking back to my blog where I take weak pot-shots at you, which naturally you don’t notice…or even, worse, ego-surf and ignore!! Ugh!!). I’m superman. And your hero worship sucks.

But what you really can’t stand is how people like me outflank you at every turn. Just when you’re getting caught up on a great topic like the newspaper bankruptcy, transparency in government, or FriendFeed, me and my fellow thought leaders are changing the topic. So now you’re writing about old news! Why can’t we  just stand still so you can catch up? Why does every one worship the Red Queen so? I have all the toys, the cars, the ladies – and I have them before you. Your keeping up with the Joneses sucks.

Wait ~ an original idea! You’re going counterculture! You’re going to write about how blogging sucks, how thought leaders don’t know everything, how all the talent is among the common people, how you’re in touch with the blogging proletariat, how you have the truly important social network and not me, how I’m a douchebag even though you’ve never met me, how everyone in power is keeping you down, how if you just had that one lucky break people would realize that you’re the next big thing. But there’s a deep problem – your new tactic is privately designed to obtain what you rail against publicly – still, secretly, deep down inside, you want to be elite, you yearn for beau monde status, you want to blog for the New York Times, you want to command a speaking fee, you want to be a guest on Red Eye, you covet VIP passes to a live Diggnation show, you want to be a jet setting new media god. You want to be me. Your phoniness sucks.

Your writing shows no creativity. Your life is spent in meetings, or doing busywork, or just plain wasting time. Great writers like me constantly search for what’s new, putting pieces together in original patterns, thinking about the big picture. You think about the small picture. We have vision, while you suffer from myopia. You’re blinded by jealousy, hampered by norms, bias and partisanship, hindered by a lack of breadth and depth, outclassed in every metric that matters, and lacking clout. No one cares about what you have to say. You influence no one except people who already believe what you said. Your blog has five loyal fans who are your closest friends. Well, virtual friends, because you met them through Twitter and they live in cities you never visit. I have a power posse. Your originality sucks.

Don’t feel bad. Half the people out there are below average. What makes you think you’re in the top 2%? If you’ve read this far, Herrnstein and Murray would posit you’re probably not even in the top half. Any serious person wouldn’t read this far, but you resist – you need to learn more about yourself from me. Reading this essay was a lesson in self-exploration, a psychological profile of a very average blogger looking to make it big with new media tools, acting self-empowered but struggling to make a difference, searching for that one big idea that will never come. You know that every word you just read applies to you, you cringe at every slight but can’t stop reading because I seem to know you better than you know yourself. My mind is the epitome of creation. Your psyche sucks.

Go on writing your blog. No one can stop you. Here comes everybody, right? There’s wisdom in my crowd!, you’ll say. But here’s my singular one-time-only awesome piece of advice for you about sharing your ideas with the world. Are you ready, loser? Definitely do it to satisfy something within. Turn off comments, stop tracking metrics with Google Analytics, stop buying domain names that you think will drive unwilling traffic, get rid of AdWords that net you enough money to order from the McDonald’s value menu, give up thinking about ROI or SEO or any other ways of gaming a system you can’t possibly ever hope to beat, stop thinking about giving up your day job. I can see around the curvature of the Earth. Your vision sucks.

When no one cares about what you have to say in person, trust me, unless you’re the half-retarded math genius in Numb3rs, what you write is even less interesting. It’s not your fault that you’re a bad blogger – you’re a bad person too. Not in the sense that you want to harm people, I just mean that you’re not very successful as a human being. Don’t take it the wrong way, I’m sure you’re very nice. It’s just that we wouldn’t send you as a representative to a visiting alien culture or anything. You’re no Jodie Foster in Contact. You’re probably not even Bill Murray in Ghostbusters. A handshake from me changes people’s lives. Your people skills suck.

Don’t feel bad. Being an awesome blogger making the most of Web 2.0 tools and online social networks isn’t for everyone. Not just anybody can rock a keynote in Austin or a happy hour in Manhattan. No one but the gifted can work six hours a day at Starbucks and get famous like me. Not everyone can go home at the end of the day and feel a wave of awesomeness about the 57 comments I got about the same topic you wrote about. It’s not your fault you didn’t have the good fortunes I did. You’re just inadequate, that’s all. I’ll keep writing about how the air smells up here, so you can read about how incredible my professional blogging life is down there. My blog is awesome. Your blog sucks.

See more satire like this coming soon at True/Slant: where ‘news is more than what happens.

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