Reblog: Honor Your Civic Duty and Vote… for SXSW ’12

August 31, 2011 at 2:29 PM (Events, work) (, , , , , , , , , , , , )

I originally published this on my agency’s blog, RaceTalk. It’s a great event though and I have a few clients with hats in the ring, so I’m re-blogging it here. Voting closes in a couple days, so get crackin’!

It’s that time of year, again: where the SXSW Interactive 2012 PanelPicker is open for public voting! For those of you who are already versed in the innovative, educational treasure trove that is SXSW, I don’t think I need to expound any further. For the rest of you, read on:

“The 19th annual SXSW® Interactive Festival challenges you to envision the future of innovative technology. Featuring five days of compelling presentations from the brightest minds in emerging media and scores of exciting networking events hosted by industry leaders, SXSW Interactive offers an unbeatable line up of special programs showcasing the best new websites, digital projects, wireless applications, video games and startup ideas the community has to offer. From hands-on training to big-picture analysis, SXSW Interactive has become the place to preview of what is unfolding in the world of creative technology.” – SXSWi’s “About” page

One of the really cool parts about SXSW (you know, aside from all that exposure to cutting edge media and tech mentioned above) is the crowd-sourced component of the event’s sessions via the site’s PanelPicker. Last week, public voting opened for over 3600 very strong speaking proposals. Public voting will factor into the selection of a privileged 500 or so for the show itself. That’s right: YOU have a say in who makes it to the agenda. What better incentive to attend is there? Voting ends 11:59 p.m. CDT on Friday, September 2, so hurry up and add your two cents.

Of note, your friends at Racepoint Group and Digital Influence Group have thrown a couple hats into the ring. Check out the sessions below and if you like them, feel free to vote (and encourage your friends to do so, too).

Global Connection: Smartphones Need Green Servers
Speaker(s) from: ARM
http://panelpicker.sxsw.com/ideas/view/8691

Drugs, Milk & Money: Social & Regulated Industries
Speaker(s) from: Digital Influence Group
http://panelpicker.sxsw.com/ideas/view/9741

Facilitating Communication Between Devices
Speaker(s) from: Marvell
http://panelpicker.sxsw.com/ideas/view/10251

Brands, Social Intelligence, Consumer Revolution
Speaker(s) from: Networked Insights
http://panelpicker.sxsw.com/ideas/view/9598

2000 “Likes” Won’t Save Your Job: Real Social ROI
Speaker(s) from: Networked Insights
http://panelpicker.sxsw.com/ideas/view/10548

Are you ready for Semantic Analysis?
Speaker(s) from: Networked Insights
http://panelpicker.sxsw.com/ideas/view/10537

Brands with Benefits: Hooking up With Good Deals
Speaker(s) from: Aegis Media, BuyWithMe, Clovr Media, Modiv Media
http://panelpicker.sxsw.com/ideas/view/11314

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Would You Visit Another Earth?

August 15, 2011 at 12:32 AM (Musings, Uncategorized) (, )

I recently did something very out of character: I saw an independent film. In case you don’t know me in real life, I tend to prefer my cinematic entertainment with a dash of defecation humour, or at the most culturally elite, witty back-and-forth with accents (and in that, oh, so rare best of both worlds, there’s both). Another Earth, directed by Mike Cahill, featured neither nor.

P.S. – While I won’t spoil the ending, I may mention some stuff not included in the trailer. You’ve been warned.

I’m no movie critic so I won’t waste your time with my moviegoer’s review (but I will say it was nice seeing a film for the first time in ages where I not only didn’t know how it would end, but I also had no idea what to expect next, in most cases). That said, Another Earth – and admittedly, the friend whose idea it was to go see it in the first place – made me think. If a planet similar to our own was discovered, and what’s more (and for me, too unbelievably), with what seem to be carbon-copies of ourselves leading similar lives there, would you go and meet yourself? At first, I thought not before anyone else went. While being a guinea pig can be glorious, it’s due in part to all the risks that accompany pigdom. What would you do if you met yourself? It could be cool and you might make out with yourself. Or it could be uncool and you freak out and murder yourself. Or, yourself murders you – either would be a bit of a bummer.

After a bit more consideration, however, I was a little less hesitant, figuring that the worst outcomes of such a journey would be the result of space travel itself – you know, the aircraft blowing up and whatnot. If we were going with the premise of the movie, the idea that this other earth was identical in every aspect of our own, including populace, I admit I think I’d be pretty stoked to meet myself. After all, not everyone gets all my stupid jokes. It’d be interesting to have a like-minded critic. More seriously, the idea of being able to talk to someone who has gone through exactly the same experiences you have (good and bad), and to be able to communicate via a similar wavelength of understanding, communication and interpretation, must be nothing shy of incredible. So, if I can be guaranteed that my mode of transportation won’t combust or otherwise tragically malfunction, yes, I would add my name to the sign-up list to visit Earth 2.

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Grooveshark, Pandora and Turntable . . . Oh, Spotify!

August 6, 2011 at 11:51 PM (Musings) (, , , , , , , )

Assuming you don’t live under a rock without WiFi access, chances are you recognize at least one of the web-based music services listed above. Initially, I felt overwhelmed with options, feeling obligated to choose the “best” of the bunch, but it didn’t take long for me to figure out that a) the Interwebs wasn’t holding a gun to my head or a contract to sign with blood b) all four serve different purposes for me to determine as and when I see fit. Curious? You should be, if you’re still bothering to read this:

Pandora
The beginning of it all, as far as I can recall (and the source of tonight’s tunes, below). Pandora is great when you don’t feel like handpicking your playlists, or want to find some new tunes. For instance, this afternoon I felt Jamiroquai-ish, but my knowledge of anything remotely similar is just shy of nonexistent. I don’t even know how to try and describe the genre. Solution: punch “Virtual Insanity” into Pandora and enjoy the resulting playlist. The major downsides for me are the commercials and the skipping limit (particularly when the station is getting really out of whack). While I don’t use it that often, I know that other folks regularly run up against the allotted playtime with the free membership, which can be a heckuva downer toward the end of the month.

Grooveshark
Grooveshark also has a radio offering, but unless you have a bunch of songs in mind, it takes a while to calibrate to what you like. That said, there is no limit to song-skipping, and no commercials. Win! I haven’t tried it, but I’ve heard you can also upload content, which is pretty nifty. Grooveshark is my go-to when I want to listen to top 500 – yes, they have a pre-made playlist with the 500 most-played songs on Grooveshark, and you can listen to them in any order. You can also tailor the playlist, adding and deleting whatever you like. Downside: no Beatles. At all.

Spotify
Think iTunes, without having to buy any of the songs – and being able to link up with your Facebook friends’ Spotify lists. That said, if you want to play the songs without an internet connection or commercials, you have to pay for the membership (What is it with these people wanting my money? Don’t they understand how important my beer budget is?), but the commercials are much less frequent than Pandora; sometimes they even recommend public/ promoted playlists that I find interesting, so the targeting is pretty solid. Other pluses include a desktop client with a very nice user interface, which means no extra tabs to keep open, and the fact that my Klout score was high enough to merit an invite during the limited release. Yes, I am susceptible to ego boosts. Sue me. Downside: no radio option that I’ve discovered as of yet.

Turntable.fm
Turntable.fm is definitely the odd duckling of this collection. I really only use it on Friday afternoon at work with my coworkers for an eclectic jam session. It’s a social DJ platform where users can enter different “rooms” and tune in or, if there’s an open turntable (there are five to a room), spin some of their own. Other people in the same room can rank each tune as “lame” or “rock on,” earning the DJ who selected the song points that can go toward an avatar (or maybe something else, but again, I don’t spend too much time on the site). In addition, each room has a chat bar where listeners can comment and make suggestions. It’s a good time, but unless it’s a Friday afternoon, there’s too much unpredictability for my tastes.

What are your thoughts on the internet radio world? Pros? Cons? Don’t give a rat’s posterior? Let me know.

Tonight’s Tunes
“Secret,” Maroon 5
“Nobody,” Kate Earl
“Around the World,” Daft Punk
“Dance with Me” (ft. Treysongz), Kevin Lyttle
“Heaven Sent You,” Howard Hewett

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In the Event You Are Sending Me a Résumé . . .

August 4, 2011 at 1:57 AM (Musings, work) (, , , , , )

It’s been over 100 days since I blogged. I know, because LinkedIn reminds me every time I log in. It’s frustrating, and a little embarrassing. Given how many hours I spend looking at a computer daily, it’s easy for me to justify not wanting to spend any more time at one once I get home, but that’s no reason to be unable to post something at least once a week. So let’s try getting back to that again, shall we?

In addition to being uber busy, work at Racepoint has been great. Lots of media, writing, tweeting – you know, all that stuff that falls into an agency job description. What I didn’t expect was all the job inquiries I’ve been fielding. Don’t get me wrong, whenever I shout to BU that we’re hiring, I fully anticipate a handful of candidates recommended by my qualified friends over there. But now, there’s a new breed of job candidate I’m seeing: random internet people.</ominousmusic>

As a PR agency, we’re hiring about every 15 minutes or so, and what better way to fish for candidates who need to be social media-savvy than by fishing through social media? That’s right, I tweet job openings. Shamelessly. And often. The upside is that I get a lot of responses. The bad news is that those responses are not filtered. Whereas I knew my BU friends would never send me a lemon, on Twitter, I have no idea who’s going to be in each box of job-seeking chocolates. While there’s really no point in going into details on each #fail, I figured I’d share a couple things I’ve noticed on this short journey as an amateur recruiter. In the event you are sending me a résumé . . .

Spell my name right. Really. You want me to bother sending your information to the person who is actually responsible for calling you? Make sure you don’t mistake me for a Britney. Or Britany. Or Britanny. Or . . . oh, God. My fingers are starting to bleed just typing these.

That goes for my company, too. Do a Google search on my company. We exist. Racepoint Group. Not Race Point Group. Or The Racepoint Group. Crap, there go my fingers again.

Keep your resume to one page – and current. Unless you are detailing how you changed Poland’s opinion of Hitler through social media efforts – and, in that case, I’m not sure I want to work with you – there is no reason why your résumé should spill over a page. I have no problem reading 10pt font, and I’m pretty sure most HR folks accept that, too. Still running out of room? Maybe you should cut “Starbucks barista.” Unless you’re applying for a corporate Starbucks position, I suppose. Also, if you’re sending me a résumé in August 2011, I had better not see “Graduation expected May 2011.”

Follow directions. I hate cover letters. I sent out so many generic ones when I was job-hunting, but my best responses came from people to whom I’d just sent short, unrehearsed notes. Ability to smell fear? This is an example of a fun fact. Another one might be that you're an expert no-handed cartwheeler. Or that you like ducks.We all learned how to write a form cover letter in college, so we can all pick them out. You’re fooling no one. Thus, rather than asking random job candidates to send me their résumé and a letter of intent, I ask for the résumé and some fun facts. I don’t need a whole paragraph about how you spent a year in Zimbabwe building huts, but a bullet point would be good to know. I can always ask you about it later. Don’t have any fun facts to share? That’s okay, I guess (although you may want to seek work in a less fun environment), but please don’t ignore my request with a canned cover letter. If you do, I can assure you that I will not be sending you along to our recruiter.

I know, you learned about this at every single career panel you ever attended, but somehow, I still see these errors. I can only imagine what full-time recruiters receive, and my heart goes out to each and every one of them. What are some of the doozies you’ve encountered on the receiving end of job inquiries? Go ahead, make me feel like I shouldn’t be whining.

Tonight’s Tunes
“Virtual Insanity,” Jamiroquai
“September,” Earth, Wind & Fire
“Dancing Machine,” Jackson 5
“Canned Heat,” Jamiroquai
“Lady (Hear Me Tonight)” Modjo
“When I Get You Alone,” Robin Thicke

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