Time for Personal Change, Too

It’s been a while since I’ve updated my personal blog, which is a shame, I know.  But nevertheless, here we are. A lot has changed in the past few months.  I have parted ways with Mashable.com, and have gone on to freelance for other great publications like VentureBeat.  Now I’m working with Nick ONeill over at allfacebook.com and socialtimes.com.

After taking some personal and health time for myself, I’m gearing up for a great year in 2009, despite all the changes that have taken place in my life and with the overall state of affairs, namely the economy which has undoubtedly effected the blogosphere.  There are a couple of other project I’m working on, which you’ll be hearing more about in the coming months.

One project in particular is Soceeo.com, which has been doing extremely well this year.  I’m glad to have been able to have a small part in working with founder Emile Cambry on Soceeo.com when I had the chance, and if you’d like to hear more about this service, please head over to the founder’s blog, which can be found here. I thank everyone for the support they’ve shown me during my time of transition, and recognize the true blessings that have found their way into my life.  And, I’ll try to update my blog more often!  Smooches,


Online Social Media, Returning Us to American Colonialism.

If you look at the progression of social norms in the past two centuries, you’ll see a significant lax in the way in which we consider accepted public and private behavior. Chalk it up to the melting pot, which introduced new religious and familial perspectives into American society, or the simple evolution of human nature.

I’m more inclined to consider a handful of the overarching effects of industrialism, which enabled the economic and structural support of large populations within a metropolitan area, and the ability for an entire society to move beyond the basic necessities of a family-based “political” structure that was dominant in colonial America.



Smaller towns often limited their residents to one religion, and were far more involved in each other’s lives, for economic purposes. There wasn’t nearly as much privacy as we have today, and the scientific advances (and their subsequent adoption) catalyzed by industrialism freed up our time and presented more forms of entertainment that weren’t available to those living in colonial days.

So what’s that mean? Pretty much everyone knew everyone else’s business. It was a very involved system of checks and balances that ruled society during American colonialism, and the effect of social castration was a notion powerful enough to keep a lot of people in line. To a large extent, this still takes place today. Think back to high school where everything mattered, from your outfit to the person you dated. Even your office environment can lead to unspoken social influence, depending on your interests (which lead to topics of discussion–or lack thereof), and a number of other behavioral expressions which could inevitably lump you into one niche or another.

The word niche is inextricably linked to the current online culture and social media, because of the way in which web-based networks enable individuals to meet other like-minded individuals, and form groups from there. But as social networks become more mainstream and interwoven into each other, the likeliness of other people knowing your business increases significantly.

There are privacy settings on networks like Facebook, but even with these set in place, there are certain actions one may take without realizing the full implications. Even the mere act of reversing or modifying a particular status on a social networking profile can have the same social effect as not having had the privacy settings installed in the first place.


image credit: HPStudents

If you’re a college student that has enjoyed a public stream of activity flowing through Facebook, but quickly takes advantage of Facebook’s privacy settings upon graduation, your friends will notice the limited amount of information flowing from your profile, and perhaps even their restricted access to your information all together. If you’ve mistakenly said something on Twitter and would like to delete this tweet, the statement is gone from your Twitter stream but may still be present across the various accounts (i.e. FriendFeed) that redistribute your content.

As syndication and redistribution of content becomes more commonplace amongst social networking sites, the ability to remain aware of the ripples of each of your actions is weakened, and it becomes a lot more difficult to maintain whatever online persona you may like to portray, even if only for a 10 minute time span. If there’s someone on AIM you don’t want to talk to, you can go invisible on AIM and GChat, but did you forget to change your auto-start Skype settings and mark yourself as invisible there as well? If you’ve told everyone, including your coworkers, that your sick and won’t be available online for the day, will your co-workers wonder what’s going on when they see the last 10 songs you favorited on last.fm?

It may not seem like it, but these things have a growing effect on people’s behavior, whether they encourage people to use privacy settings, or deter people from taking certain action all together. The act of admitting that your whirlwind romance didn’t work out by changing your relationship status on Facebook has actually led some users to disable their Facebook accounts all together.

It’s an interesting effect that social media has, that very much mimics the close-quarter environment that influenced behavior in the days of American colonialism. What will be quite interesting to watch is the way in which social software is deeloped in response to larger social implications such networks have.

Cheers to a Good Cause! Create Your Own Web 2.0 Cocktail Recipe Book.

A few months ago I recalled my second trip to the DEMO conference, which was held in Palm Springs, CA. The conference was good, and the company was great. My personal highlight of the conference was the conceiving of the Kristini, which is a delectable concoction made of peach and mango, shaken together for the perfect summertime martini.

After sharing this experience with friends and gaining a lot of support from my colleagues, I’m happy to announce that everyone can create and share a cocktail recipe that represents them–for a good cause! I’ve teamed up with on-demand book publisher SharedBook to offer a collaborative cocktail recipe book that features drinks for the Chic Geek. Anyone can submit a recipe to be included in the book, which others can then add to their custom book and have printed and shipped on-demand. You can also customize an existing book to include your own images and recipes, which make for perfect party favors or gifts for special occasions. Get started here!

sharedbook techtini

sharedbook techtini

The best part is that all the proceeds from the book are going to the non-profit organization Idealist.org, which subsequently helps thousands of other non-profits gain new members and accept donations, around the world.

The cocktail recipe pocket guide costs just $19.95, and you’ll get a fully customized book of 40 pages, complete with a table of contents and a standard measurements table in the back. Given that the idea of the Tehtini Pocket Guide was borne of a web 2.0 event, we’d love to have other events create custom cocktail recipe guides for their attendees.

If you’d like to purchase books to offer as scwhag to your keynote speakers, VIP guests and other attendees, or if you’d like to sell a custom version of the Techtini Pocket Guide for your event, SharedBook has incentives in place to help you with your efforts. Please contact me for further details. Cheers!

Many Thanks to My Tokyo Hosts!

gift bag from katsuya in tokyo

I devotedly shared with you my first two days in Tokyo here on my personal blog, and posted a number of specific articles related to the startups I met with on Mashable, but I wanted to make sure that I let my hosts know how incredibly grateful I am to have been one of the few chosen to inaugurate the first of many trips they’ll be organizing for US bloggers to visit Japan.

I received a beautiful gift in the mail today from Katsuya (shown above and below), whom I first mentioned here. He’s a wonderful person who is whole-heartedly dedicated to his ability to connect people. He’s amazing at everything he does (including Japanese pizza!) and I couldn’t be more blessed to have been able tour Tokyo with him and his colleagues.

So I want to take this opportunity to again say thank you to Hideshi and Tohru at Lunarr, Katsuya at IBM and Kodoma at JapanHopper for being the most gracious hosts anyone could ever ask for!

gift album from katsuya

gift album from katsuya

Day 2 in Tokyo: Still Afraid of Heights

Today was amazing. Tsutomo Kodama, Director at Japan Hopper, joined us today and was another great tour guide for our group. Kodoma worked at IBM for a while, and is now working in the venture capital field to work with more startups. He’s quite interested in location-based mobile applications, especially those that deal with solving the parking spot problem. That interest gave the two of us plenty to talk about, considering I recently covered a new site called parkingspots.com on Mashable.

Today, we did all sorts of touristy and not-so-touristy things in Tokyo.

The day started out with a trip to Asakusa, where we visited the Sensoji Temple, which was built over 1000 years ago, and is the landmark of the area. In the front area of the temple, you can pay $1.00 to get your fortune. You shake a can until a stick comes out of this tiny, tiny hole, then see what the number is on this stick. Open the drawer that corresponds with the number on your stick, and read your fortune. Surprisingly, I got a bad fortune! Something about dark clouds and losing things (my mind, perhaps). Now, if you get a bad fortune, you’re able to tie it to a wire in the temple, and leave it there so it won’t follow you home. Well, I tried to tie that bad boy onto the wire, and it ripped apart instead. Maybe I will have bad luck for the next year!

Next we went to a nearby craftsman museum, where we saw some lovely artwork, and a jumping spider with ginormous mandibles (the spider was real, folks. I almost screamed). After walking around a bit more, through the theater district and to a shop that sells traditional hand-painted towels, we ate lunch. Today, lunch consisted of Okonomiyaki, which is kind of like Japanese pizza. You cook it yourself on a grill in the middle of your table. We were gracious enough to let Kodama do most the work–he’s a great chef indeed. 😉

We also went to a traditional Tea ceremony, in a specially-designed tea room. It was quite lovely and serene, and it also gave me great insight to the subtle form of communication that’s portrayed in this type of traditional Japanese culture. Everything from the size of the doors and wall thickness to the placement and type of the flower in the room is carefully considered, and meant as a way to communicate with the guests.

Afterwards, we went shopping. We even went to the Apple store. I don’t think they had anything different than what you’ll find at any other Apple store around the world, although Bob mentioned that he saw a Japanese version of SIMS 2 for the Mac after we left…so I’d be quite disappointed if I found out that the Japanese SIMS has different wardrobe and furniture options. The main shopping districts we visited include Ginza and Shibuya, which are quite similar to Times Square in New York City. We even stood on the most expensive piece of property in Japan: 1 square meter in the shopping district is worth about $100k. Whew!

Then we went to Roppongi. OMG. My fear of heights has been confirmed. The Roppongi building is the tallest in Tokyo, and houses a museum, an academy, restaurants and cafes, shops, residential units, and an outdoor skydeck on the very top of the building (as in the roof). Good heavens! It was an amazing view, of which my camera did no justice. And even though we were on the roof of a 54-story building, the breeze was nice and I eventually got to relax a bit.

In the Roppongi building, there’s also a club, where member and prominent Japanese venture capitalist Tohru Akaura met us for dinner. Akaura’s firm is an incubator for startups, and he is quite interested in mobile applications. He showed us some of the mobile widgets that operate on Jig.jp‘s platform as an example of one of the companies he works with closely. A private dining room commanded the same gorgous view of the city while we enjoyed our meal. Lunarr and the rest of our hosts gave us some beautiful gifts, all of which represent Japanese culture. I can’t wait for tomorrow!

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.

Surprise! Chicago Welcomes Me Back with Open Arms.

After spending several weeks in San Francisco, I was pleasantly surprised when my friends back in Chicago planned a party for me.  I think the biggest surprise of all was the fact that I didn’t learn of the surprise party despite its public status as a Facebook event.  Nevertheless, I greatly appreciate the Chicago tech community giving me such a warm welcome home party.  It was great to see everyone, all at once!  I regret to say that I won’t be able to make it to the upcoming Tech Cocktail conference, but I’ll be there in spirit!

Or shall I say spirits?  The overwhelming response I got from others in the tech community after posting my story about the Krisiti being born at DEMO has led to a Techtini Pocket Guide that will debut as schwag for the speakers at the Tech Cocktail conference.

Thanks to the undying support from SharedBook, this collaborative cocktail recipe guide has become quite real, and in a few days, anyone will be able to submit their own cocktail recipe to be accessible by anyone that would like to create their own custom recipe book.

I’m also extremely excited to say that the proceeds of the cocktail recipe books will be going towards non-profit organizations, so here’s saying “cheers” to a good cause.  Look out for more details about the pocket guide in the next few days, and see below for a few photos of my surprise party from last week!  Thanks, Chicago!!!!!