I only run when chased

This morning marks the first time in *cough* years that I have engaged in running for running’s sake.  I was coaxed into joining the ever-growing cult of joggers by ALL of my friends.   It seems that, in addition to being out of shape, I am also susceptible to peer pressure.  After spending an afternoon with the fine people at Fleet Feet in the Laurelwood shopping center, I had a new pair of jogging shorts (yes, there are shorts JUST for jogging and they do NOT leave much to the imagination) and a new pair of running shoes (which should NOT be used for anything other than forward-motion sports).  If you are interested in  getting into this whole “running” fad, I would highly recommend that you at least swing by their store and, at the very least, get some advice.   They were able to tell me that I had a tendancy to over-pronate, which is a fancy way of saying that I was not running (or walking) properly.  There is a WRONG way to run?  You learn something new every day!

My alarm got me up at 6:30 this morning and a friendly phone call from Reuben reminded me to STAY awake long enough to make it down to the river to meet the rest of the runners.  The group was made up of intelligent, creative computer types (RocketFuel and Lunaweb were both well represented), which seems like a bit of an oxy-moron when you think about it.  Techie folk?  Jogging?  Preposterous!  Silly as it may sound, everyone seemed to do pretty well.  I did not do as well as I had hoped, but I’m still working on my endurance.  Newbie tip: when you start to get tired while running (and you WILL get tired), you might be tempted to stop running and start walking.  You can always start running again, right?  Not really.  It’s actually MORE DIFFICULT to start running again after you stop.  I don’t know if there is any scientific evidence to back this up or if I’m just a big wimp.  While I only ran the first *coughcough* of the total 5K, I’m still glad that I did it.  Right now I feel tired, but satisfied.  I’m happy with myself for getting out of bed and doing something physical and, although I’m physically exhausted, it’s a good kind of physically exhausted.  The most difficult part was finding my shoes at 6:30 in the morning without first ingesting any caffeine.

If you’re thinking about taking up running / jogging (there are probably about 3 of you left in the city that haven’t already) then I highly recommend it.  Go at your own pace, don’t let anyone push you further than you are comfortable and have fun.  All you need is a good pair of shoes and a loud alarm clock.

Wordpress app for the iPhone

This is a simple test post using the Wordpress app for the iPhone. What hath God wrought?

Lessons in Social Media

Earlier this week an executive from a public relations firm made a minor faux pas via his Twitter feed. He had just flown in to meet with a client and, from what he says, had a very unpleasant encounter with a particularly rude member of the local service industry. Frustrated, he made a tweet which was directed at one person but was so vague that it could have been (and ultimately was) misinterpreted by SEVERAL employees of his client. An angry email was sent to the executive, the email got leaked and the blogosphere exploded.

As is the case with most Internet drama, the majority of the noise fell into one of two categories:

  1. Those that rabidly defended the executive and claimed that his right to free speech was being trampled upon by over-sensitive clods that clearly don’t “get” New Media
  2. Those that were incredibly offended that someone would dare say something negative about their home town

After reading a good portion of the chatter that surrounded this controversy, I collected my thoughts and would like to offer my summation.  Yes, the executive has a right to free speech and should feel free to exercise it as he sees fit.  However, initial reactions to the free speech / censorship issue usually end with the phrase, “If you are offended by it then maybe you SHOULDN’T READ IT!”  This argument presents a problem in this particular case because the executive is in the PR business.  The last thing that he would want anyone to do is to unsubscribe.

Another ironic twist to this tale is that the executive was meeting his client for the express purpose of teaching them how to use social media (like Twitter) for corporate communications to the public!  If this were a salesperson that had gone to visit the client then this would almost be a non-issue.  For someone that touts themselves as a digital media executive, this is a really big mistake.  It makes him look like any other person with a broadband connection and an opinion.

This does not mean that the executive is a bad person.  In my opinion, he should not be fired or dragged over hot coals or forced to endure countless hours of lolcats and rickrolling.  If anything, he should take this experience and incorporate it into his next PR plan for social media.  The bigger issue is that social media is still in it’s infancy and no one can claim to be an expert at understanding it.  Within the course of nine years, the Internet has provided us with LiveJournal, Friendster (admit it – you have already forgotten about Friendster, haven’t you?), MySpace, WordPress, Movable Type,  FaceBook and Twitter.  The way in which we use digital media to communicate is changing at such a rapid pace that any lessons learned are becoming obsolete.  What’s worse is that there is no real measuring stick with which we can accurately gauge expertise in the area of social media prowess.  Anyone can claim to be a social media guru and there is nothing that anyone can do to say otherwise.  As a matter of fact, I’m going to go on record right now and state that I am the leading expert in social media dynamics with relation to corporate branded multimedia synergistic paradigms! Go ahead – prove me wrong!

Things aren’t as hopeless as they seem.  As much as I have been disappointed with their service, I do have to give credit to Frank Eliason of Comcast.  He seemingly spends all day scouring the Twitterverse looking for unhappy Comcast customers and doing what he can to assist them with their issues.  Keep in mind that this is ALL done in the public eye.  This is a perfect example of a company that “gets” social media.  Consumers have grown tired of dealing with faceless, souless corporations and corporations are starting to realize that.  Many local news outlets have also adopted Twitter to publish headlines and links to the online versions of their stories.  I have a feeling that the ability to pick up and utilize these new technologies will be the difference between news outlets that survive and those that no longer end up lining bird cages.  It should not be too difficult as most newpaper headlines will fit nicely within Twitter’s defined limits.

Jorge Luis Borges, the master of the short story, once said words to the effect that novelists were nothing more than morons that could not tell their stories in short form.  He believed that any story worth telling could easily fit within 100 pages – any more than that was clutter.  He would have LOVED Twitter.  The executive that made the vague tweet should take a note of this – on Twitter, you only have 140 characters.  That is not nearly enough space to explain the context of a message.  If the idea is not communicated EXACTLY, people will write around it in their minds.  This can lead to a compromised message, which is worse than no message at all.

Broken Big Daddy Update

If you were one of the unlucky few that received a broken Big Daddy figure with your Bioshock pre-order, this is for you.  Yesterday afternoon this little gem hit my gmail:

“The BioShock figurine replacement program is nearing completion after some delays due to production of the replacement figurines. We appreciate your patience and in order to speed things up, 2K Games is eliminating the step in which you are required to return the broken figurine (we”ve figured you”ve waited long enough!).

In the next two weeks, we will begin shipping out a single package containing both the replacement figurine and the art book to customers who enrolled in the program by November 12th. There will be no return box or need to return the broken figurine to our attention.

Thanks for your support and interest in BioShock, and for your patience during the replacement figurine program.
2K Games”

I cannot say enough good things about 2K Games and the way that they have handled this situation.  Given that sub-par customer service is pretty much the norm nowadays, experiences like this really stand out.  Whatever they are paying their customer service group at 2K is not enough.  Kudos!