Deep Dive Tokyo, Jumping Right In!

This is turning into quite the travel blog, eh? If you follow me on Twitter, then you already know I’m currently in Tokyo. Lunarr, a company I’ve had the pleasure of reviewing a couple of times on Mashable, has set up a wonderful “Deep Dive” trip to Tokyo, Japan. Right now I’m here with Hideshi Hamaguchi of Lunarr, Marshall Kirkpatrick of Read/Write Web, Bob Walsh of WebWorkerDaily and Tom Foremski of Silicon Valley Watcher.

Over the next four days, I’ll get a chance to meet with startups based here in Japan, visit the Panasonic office, and go on a tour of the subcultural parts of the city that regular tourists don’t often see. I’ve been in Tokyo for several hours now, and though I’m just getting settled into my hotel room, I’ve already had the opportunity to meet, tour and dine with Hisashi Katsuya, Venture Development Executive, Japan Representative, at IBM’s Venture Capital Group. Katsuya also has his own blog at Venture BEAT, which is distributed on CNet. Dinner was at a quaint, traditional restaurant where I can honestly say that forgetting my socks wasn’t as big a deal as I thought it would be, and that it’s nice being short enough to sit comfortably on the floor (cross-legged) for an entire meal.

The long strolls through Kagurazaka (Town of stone-flagged alleys) both before and after dinner were perfectly delightful. I’m amazed at the engineering that went into designing these alleys in order to provide a smart way to build out the city. I doubt I’ll be able to stream live video from here, but I have a bag full of devices that I’ll be lugging around, so you’ll be sure to see some photos and videos, featuring interviews, presentations, and touristy stuff to boot.

I’m Headed West, to San Francisco

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Writing about the tech industry from Chicago means I get to travel quite a bit, and my flier miles are only getting more frequent. That being said, I’m excited to announce my “dual residency” between Chicago and San Francisco.

I’ll be headed to the Bay Area on Monday morning, just in time for the Video Search Summit. If you’re going to be at this Mashable-sponsored event, please feel free to drop me a line! And, as always, if you’re in San Francisco, do let me know.

I’m very excited to hang out more with the startups and web-based companies I speak with and write about on a daily basis. As most of you know, the Mashble founder himself, Pete Cashmore, has just settled into San Francisco for an extended period of time as well. Fun times are a’comin’!

Mashable Writer Contributes to The Industry Standard (That’s Me)

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tis-logo.gifThe Industry Standard has returned to the tech scene, not as a printed publication, but in the reincarnated form of an online publication and interactive prediction market. I was fortunate enough to get an early look at TIS prior to its launch, and covered its emergence here on Mashable.

I was also fortunate enough to receive a request from TIS to be a contributor to the site. TIS has garnered notable contributors from across the web, like Guy Kawasaki and Matt Marshall, so I’m honored to be in such good company.

kristen-profile.pngWhile contributing to TIS won’t be interfering with my job at Mashable, it is a good opportunity for a Mashable writer to be part of the larger conversations going on about today’s industry. Of course, my specialty happens to be rather focused on social media and all the implications therein, so if you’d like, feel free to check out my first contribution to TIS.

It’s actually a collection of sites that are likely to fail or succeed. The basis for determining the potential fails included seeking out sites that have gained a lot of press, but don’t quite live up to the hype. In regards to the potential successes, I looked at sites that have a great concept, but are still diamonds in the rough. Bill Snyder also contributed to this particular article, which can be found here.

I’m excited about being able to contribute to the ongoing discussions of our day, and carrying these discussions through Mashable, and even through my personal website as well.

SXSW Rocked Me…Straight to Bed.

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I’ve been home from SXSW for a few days now, but I’m still recovering from the mayhem that is the Ultimate Spring Break for Geeks. I had a great time, and managed to lose my voice the very first night I was in Austin, thanks to the loud music and my inability to correctly use my diaphragm for projecting my voice–I just screamed instead.

By the time Tuesday night rolled around, what I though were allergies turned out to be an all-out chest cold. So after spending the past 2 days in bed, my eyes can now stand the light of the computer screen, and I can finally post a recap of all the great times I had at SXSW.

I’ll start off by saying that, despite ending up sick as a dog at the Interactive conference, I’d do it all again (with Purell in my pocket). I got to meet more people than I ever imagined, and I got to catch up with some folks I hadn’t seen in quite some time.

One of the highlights of my trip was my first video interview, which happened to be with Guy Kawasaki. You can see the interview here, as Kawasaki speaks on his latest venture, Alltop. I admit that I didn’t have a tripod with me, and had to hold the camera the entire time…so you won’t see me in the video. Maybe next time!

Another highlight of my trip was getting to use the Nokia N95, which has become quite popular thanks to the likes of Robert Scoble, and the phone’s ability to support services like Qik. I took lots of photos with the camera phone my first night at SXSW, and even tried my hand at live vlogging, but the camera’s flash leaves a lot to be desired.

Otherwise, I love the camera and I can’t wait to use it some more once I get out to San Francisco in about a week. See here for the Mashable Flickr stream, and feel free to visit my Facebook profile to see pictures there as well.

Kristini: Conceived at DEMO 08.

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I’ve spent the past 2 and a half days in Palm Desert, CA, soaking up the sights (and sounds) of DEMO 08. This being my second time attending the classic conference, I’m beginning to pick up on some of the traditions that have been cultivated as only traditions can be: over time, with lots of dedication to a unified experience (i.e. branding).

As fun as the Jam Session was (and as happy as we all were to find that it was open bar), I thought it high time to start creating some sub-traditions of my own. With the help of a few choice friends, namely Brian Solis, Frank Gruber, and several other fine folks, we thought up a lovely way to apply all of this web 2.0 ideology to the simple act of mixology. That’s right. We made up a cocktail.

Well actually, I’m certain we didn’t make up a cocktail, but being my usual undecided self, I had a hard time telling the bar tender exactly what I wanted to drink. I had a taste for peaches and mangoes, so Brian was savvy enough to have the bartender create one mashup of a drink. I don’t know exactly what goes into this delectable mashup martini, but it’s been dubbed (by people other than myself) the Kristini. I graciously accept the bestowing of my name upon a martini so yummy.

Now that we’ve developed the Kristini, we thought it would be great to release a platform, where all mashups are welcome, and can play together in this world of collaborative cocktail-mixing. Discussions have already begun for the Mashtini, which would be in honor of my place of employment. Given the pink and blue theme of Mashable, the Mashtini will have to be made with blue Curacao and a heavier liquid that’s pink in color, which will sit on the bottom of the martini glass. Any ideas? Let us know if you’d like to join this movement and offer up some drink recipes of your own.

[image credit brian solis]

How To Act when Meeting Your Boss for the First Time

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With the Mashable Open Web Awards kicking off in San Francisco last week, the Mashable team got a chance to meet each other, mostly for the first time. I’ve been contributing to Mashable for over a year now, so it may seem strange that I never met my boss until last week. Pete Cashmore lives in the UK, so there wasn’t really an opportunity to meet each other until very recently. Up until last week, my job has been kind of like working for Bosley, except I’m no Charlie’s Angel!

Anyway, having experienced the pleasure of meeting my boss after all this time, I thought I’d offer up a few pointers for any others out there that may, one day, have the same opportunity as me. ;)

pete-cashmore-kristen-nicole.png Act Like You’ve Known Him For Forever
I’ve been chatting with Pete online nearly every day of my life for over a year now. Why act like strangers when you finally get to meet in person? Give him a great big hug and welcome the Brit to the good ol’ U.S. of A.

Make Fun of His British Accent
He’s the one that sounds funny now. This may be the only opportunity to poke fun at bossman without him getting too upset.

Add Insult to Injury by Giving Him an Americanized Name
Cash Money, for instance? It’s a two-fold pun, given that his last name is Cashmore, and the added fact that his success has increased nicely over the past year. Yup, Cash Money is in Forbes, baby. Now all he needs to do is start a rap record label.


Note: I didn’t come up with the Cash Money nickname; Roddy from Startup Schwag did. But I think it’s pretty sweet. Thanks, Roddy.

Don’t Say Anything Unabashedly Girlie
If you’re the only girl on the team of 8 guys (as I am), you don’t really need to make things even more interesting by making girlie comments like “back hair is gross.” Save that for martini night with Jen and Sophie.

Take Lots of Pictures To Prove You’re Both Real People
We work from home, in very distant cities. Who will ever believe that we’re real people unless we go out in public every so often? Besides. With picture-perfect proof like this, my mother will finally believe that I have an actual job.

Make Sure He Knows You Think He’s the Best Boss Evar
Pete, you’re the best boss evar. Thanks for everything!

Weighted Crowdsourcing. What the?

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A network I covered last week, called Big Think, turned out to be a video network of sorts, for smart people. Going through the site, I realized that it was full of content and commentary from pundits, experts, and analysts from various walks of life. The point of bringing in all these experts was to get the ball rolling on topics that are of importance to a large number of people. I mentioned Big Think’s use of experts boiled down to a weighted crowsourcing model for user-generated content, and a few people emailed me to ask for elaboration, so here it is.

Now, I see a lot of web sites on a daily basis, and one thing that often stands out to me is the subtle (or not so subtle) ways in which startups get users to begin interacting with their sites. Some do contests, others hope to connect existing groups based on their offline, physical manifestations. But what Big Think did was bring in a bunch of content from industry experts, then asked its users to respond.

bigthink-logo-spaced.pngIf you read my Mashable post on Big Think then you know how the network reminded me of those newsies that scream at the television while watching these pundits, as if they can hear them through the tube. In fact, I was reminded of my Aunt Norma. She watched the news (and the lottery) religiously, every evening. She was the one mumbling under her breath in response to an asinine comment from some pundit, while furiously working on her needlepoint.

Given the serious tone of Big Think, I found it suffice to say that this mature, NPR-prone crowd is comprised of the individuals that will totally go for Big Think’s set up. I can see my mother watching a clip from a UCLA professor speaking about global warming, and feeling compelled to leave her own opinion on the matter, in the comments thread.

crowd1.pngAs we’ve seen with Newsvine and Gather, the members of this more mature crowd will then have no problem presenting their own questions to the community. What I found with Big Think’s layout, however, is that the most readily accessed content was that of all the experts feature throughout the site. This brings us back to the topic of weighted crowdsourcing. With all the rich content being shared on Big Think by way of user contributions, it’s still the content from the experts that I’ll find at the top of most pages.

When gathering data from a large user base, I think it’s always important to include some editorial content for resourceful, validated reasons. And this is something particularly accomplished by product review sites. But when combined in a community-driven, self-regulated network such as Big Think, the wisdom of the crowds is in fact weighted due to the prominence of the editorial content.

Is this good or bad for a structured institution?

peoplejam-logo-spaced.pngIt seems to work quite well for an editorial position when the process of a collaborative publication, such as Assignment Zero’s project with Wired last year. PeopleJam is another network that has taken a similar approach, with the hopes of helping you help yourself. Content is aggregated around experts in such a fashion that is authoritative, yet still integrated with the community at large. And I think that, despite its potential for leading people into confirmation traps, it could also work for Big Think, specifically in its targeting of the mature and active demographic.