Pundits, researchers, textperts, and academics all love to talk about how they would fix the United States’ fragmented, crapped-out communication apparatus. The overarching web of demon seed spunked across drab refurbished halls in the Eisenhower Building on 17th Street NW barely covers the Sarlacc maw of offices, officials, and assholes manning the guns of This, Our National Communication Nightmare. All suggestions for reform mandate – nay, demand! – leadership in renovating this sad enterprise, this broken transistor, these crusted lips. Though none of these tremendous gasbags has deigned to ask the question most important to we lowly peasants of the pen: “Who shall lead us?” Submitted then, for no approval, is this list of AWESOME, kermodial badasses. Executives in 21st century organization and innovation. Preeminent princes of creativity. Visionaries of the better and the righteous.

Jack Dorsey, co-founder of Twitter.

Image via Wikipedia

Jack Dorsey – Creator & CEO, Twitter

Just interviewed The President using crowdsourced questions from Twitter. Twitter. A social media tool that has archived millions of impressions from people around the world and is on the way to becoming so ubiquitous that it’s considered a utility by some. Elegant simplicity and craftsmanship are his weapons. I think he knows a thing or two about designing a communication enterprise.

Image via The Guardian.

Andy Carvin – Senior Strategist, NPR

“The Crowdsorceror” who mounted a one-man content curation campaign in realtime around popular protests and demonstrations in the Middle East that later became known as the Arab Spring. Compelling, earnest believer in the power of people. His examples inspire legions of communicators to standing applause at his speaking engagements. To Carvin, community comes first. Imagine his style of realtime information gathering applied to intelligence or information operations problems.

Image via TVNewser

Jon Stewart – Host, The Daily Show

America’s funnyman turned mega-popular fake news host, consumed by millions of Americans as “real” news. Despite obvious satirical takes on journalism, staunchly defends That Which Is Right by attacking The Wrong, from Fox News insidiousness to Cramer’s role in puffing up the housing crisis. Genuinely loves America. Imagine his tenure leading government international broadcasting efforts.





Image via brosephstalin.com

Tim Hwang – Founder, Web Ecology Project, The Awesome Foundation, and The Institute for Higher Awesome Studies

A philosophical cog caught between the wheels of web analytics and netnography. Cultural researcher and student of human interaction offline, online, and elsewhere. Observer of society, real and imagined. Teamed with the right agencies, his timely insights about social communities could make AWESOMEthe work of thousands of government communication professionals.

Image via AV.com

Fred Wilson – Venture Capitalist and Managing Partner, Union Square Ventures

Social entrepreneur and investor in socially transformative technologies. Believes in the transcendant like Hashable, Etsy, Foursquare, GetGlue, Kickstarter, and more. Blogs regularly about the whys and wherefores, the how-to’s, and the aspirational dreams of his investments. Imagine a federal executive who apportions program funding according to the good of society versus short-term gains or even strategic objectives.

Image via Gawker.

Peter Thiel – Serial VC, Hedge Fund Manager

Avowed investor in the impossible, from artificial intelligence to social networks like Facebook to data analytics supergiants like Palantir. Believer in not just debating future technology and social innovation but making it happen. Convener of social creatives to discuss building an objective American future. Elusive yet visionary. Skates the edge of politics with controversial libertarian-esque views on economics and democracy, a modernist perspective badly required by an ever evolving communications ecosystem.

Image via bookgalaxo.com

Tony Hsieh – CEO, Zappos

The man who brought happiness to millions and made fun a core capability of his company. Committed to making the world a happier place, a mission sorely needed in the personnel departments of hundreds of government agencies.

John Lasseter – Chief Creative Officer, Pixar

The man who built an animated powerhouse out of a tiny studio no one believed would succeed. Since producing some of the most endearing animated films in the modern age, has merged his multibillion dollar studio with Disney to usher in a new era of Imagineering. Our communications enterprise, currently swarmed with ill-trained personnel that barely understand the social phenomena happening around them, requires creativity of this man’s magnitude.

Image via Screencrave.com

Image via Headshift.com

Lee Bryant – Co-founder & Director, Headshift

A social business maestro, he advocates for clients to change the way they do business instead of simply hanging shiny new social media toys on their websites. Understands the complex challenges of technology’s promises and shortcomings in solving organizational and communications problems. Also, very British.

Image via The Huffington Post

Baratunde Thurston – Vigilante Pundit, The Onion

Champion for The Right in all things Wrong. Outspoken advocate for diversity, a trait we see too rarely in government. His infectious influence could inspire legions of public diplomats, strategic communicators, and information operators at all levels. Laughter mandating shot caller of madness. Imagine his effect teaching communicators in institutions across government how to be AWESOME and not just govvies.

David Kilcullen – Counterinsurgency Guru

An early advocate of fighting ideologically against al-Qaeda versus hand-to-hand. Believer in people-focused counterinsurgency security. Sees war as competition managed by influence instead of shootouts and bombings. Widely regarded as the smartest man on the planet when it comes to strategically understanding the wars of the future. If the Defense Department continues playing in deployed communications – and it will – then it will need a shamanic leader like this man to responsibly pilot the interagency minefields such across-the-board coordination that will require.

Image via The Washingtonian

Official portrait of United States Secretary o...

Image via Wikipedia

Robert Gates – Former Secretary of Defense; Former Director, CIA 

The ultimate honest broker in all things government. From his perch as SECDEF, fought interminable battles with service cultures and DOD dinosaurs, breaking down inflated budgets and streamlining operations. Put this same right-is-right tenacity to work reforming and leading the rehabilitation and redesign of America’s communication enterprise across agencies, and we will see magic.





Mae Ferguson. Kind of a badass.

Mae Ferguson – President & CEO, Fort Worth Sister Cities International

People forget citizen and cultural diplomacy are cornerstone elements of strategic influence, and because of that, they remain ill coordinated with the rest of our national communication apparatus. Mae has the terrier-like tenacity and management expertise to round up the various bit parts of cultural programs and get them working properly in alignment with national influence goals. A long time nonprofit leader, she has achieved a lot with strangled budgets and limited personnel. Disclosure: she’s also my Mom. :)

Who am I missing?

I know you’ve got some ideas about kermodial badasses we need to draft into service of our faltering national communication enterprise. Tell me who they are in the comments.

I tried to document as many of my ongoing thoughts as I could over on my Posterous feed during SXSW, but I thought I’d take some time to try and make some coherent sense of the week-long insanity I put myself through.

Location, Location, Location

There didn’t seem to be any consensus on a single new technology or app that debuted or blew up SXSW this year. However, plenty of existing ones brought immense marketing campaigns to Austin, and the majority of those seemed to be location-based services. Gowalla, in my opinion, severely dropped the ball by not preparing local Austin businesses for the influx of SXSW geeks galvanized by the Gowalla passport scavenger hunt. Foursquare, on the other hand, ruled the day by deploying 2000 virtual “Golden Tickets” into specific checkin spots in Austin that unlocked free tickets to their Big Boi headliner show. So many more location-based companies littered the landfalls in Austin as well, each with some zany promotional campaign to get people to download and use their app.

David Armano's Allhat3 at Guero's.

For my money, Foursquare was the clear popularity winner here. Their partnership with Pepsi – where they created an actual competitive foursquare court near the Austin Convention Center – culminated with an AWESOME party at the Seaholm Power Plant, where all sorts of people got to chill with Dennis Crowley and his Foursquare army to the tunes of Locksley, The Sounds, and Big Boi.

App Discovery of SXSW: Roqbot

Roqbot is an app-based service that allows you to take control of online-enabled jukeboxes in bars, clubs, restaurants, and other locations featuring these types of music services. Once you download the app, you develop a DJ profile of your favorite music and check into whatever location you happen upon that has one of these net-enabled jukeboxes. From there, you’re able to control the music playlist emanating from the box. Don’t like Lady Gaga? Spend a couple Roqbot credits to put some Oasis on higher in the music queue. You also earn free credits to play by unlocking various checkin rewards or you can just connect Roqbot to a Paypal account and buy songs directly. It’s SUCH a great a control solution for jukeboxes in places. I can’t wait till they expand their services into the DC/NOVA region.

DC Represents

I was caught off-guard by the massive DC presence at SXSW. From government rockstars like Amanda Eamich from USDA to nonprofit supercolliders like Tammy Gordon of AARP, DC’s varied social media community descended on Austin in force. I hung out with Mike Schaffer, Director for Social Media at iostudio the most, and lamented that despite having met and living near DC, we never hang out like we did at SXSW. I’m making a pledge to change that behavior on my part now that I’m home, and I want to invite any and all DC/NOVA peeps to call me on any antisocial leanings I may display from this point forward.

Margie and Dave Newman, masterminds of the DC Flacks Meetup group, created an on-the-fly “DCxSW” Twitter handle and hash for all of us while in Austin. They also organized an impromptu meetup of these DCists at the Driskill Hotel one night where I had the best networking conversations of the week. I met a lot of folks i only knew through Twitter here, and I am super-excited to build upon those relationships in the future.

So here’s a big public shout-out to all my DCxSW peeps: Margie, Dave, Schaffer, Gabe Hilado, Amandare!, Alejandra Owens, Peter Corbett, Tammy Gordon, Tammy Portnoy, Lisa Byrne, Patti Shea, and all the rest of you AWESOME DC peeps. It was also great meeting a bunch of non-DC folks like Jeff Esposito, Teresa Cantwell, and old friends Anne Weiskopf and Tonia Reis (formerly of TWTRCON fame, now The Realtime Report

"You may all go to hell, and I will go to Texas." --Davy Crockett


Walking in Your Footsteps

Much of the research I performed in prep for this massive undertaking panned out well. I intend to do up a fuller post on the travel hacks I came with on the fly, but the basics came down to comfortable shoes and clothing at all times. I can’t tell you how many times I just had to sit down because my feet hurt so bad from walking around so much. People recommended Converse as the go-to shoes for SXSW, but I have to put in a plug for the much comfier and supportive Merrel’s that I brought.

Panels & Speakers

For the mot part, I found SXSW panels pedantic and freshman. The only ones that piqued my interest and delivered a good conversation were a panel on The Singularity and another with John Hagel III on shaping the future. The Singularity panel brought together experts like Michael Vassar from the Singularity Institute and Natasha Vita-More from Humanity+ for a SUPER-AWESOME discussion about the ethical limits of transhumanism and posthumanity. I’m stll processing a lot of the info from this panel, but be sure to check out the convo archived on the #singularity hashtag. That conversation is still going on, so feel free to jump in and add your thoughts.

Seaholm Power Plant, site of the Foursquare/PepsiMax party.

I missed Seth Priebatsch’s keynote on the gamification of marketing and education, but I heard it was cool. I also missed Christopher Poole, aka moot of 4chan, who gave a keynote on social communities online and how their influence will continue to grow in the future. I heard good things about both of these keynotes but just couldn’y sync schedules to make them

Getting Your Groove On

I was most disappointed by the party situation. I RSVP’d for several parties specifically to hang out with or meet people that were throwing them. Unfortunately, every party is oversold, leading to massive numbers of people often crowding into small clubs, all trying to figure out who’s there that’s important or famous. What’s worse, I got the distinct impression at many of these parties that pre-existing community relationships led to a degree of “cliquey-ness” that isolated a lot of outsiders. This bothered me mainly because a lot of folks like myself stood in these long-ass lines for long periods of time to get into cool parties that only turned out to be fun for the cool kids.


Ogilvy Notes, a cool attempt to make visual sense out of all the information overloading SXSW's attendees.

There were literally so many people at many of these parties that you would get interrupted talking to someone of note, and they would never come back to you due to successive interruptions. It’s damned hard to connect with someone in this fashion, and you can damn sure bet I’ll be working on a SXSW Guide to Party Ethics for 2012.

Even worse, most of the Interactive parties featured some of the worst, most annoying DJs on the planet. Note to party organizers of the future: they don’t call Austin the “Live Music Capital of the World” for nothing. If you want to throw a SXSW party next time, do some fucking due diligence and get a couple of inexpensive but AWESOME live acts instead of a bunch of douchy DJ pricks.

Music vs. Interactive

SXSW should really be broken up into two conferences for Music and Interactive because virtually everyone from the Interactive festival popped smoke when the Music festival began. It was SUCH a sea change in personalities too: I joked to a buddy that all the Interactive geeks stayed inside the Convention Center for Interactive where Austin had to shut down streets to accommodate the influx of Music nerds.

What’s funny about the disparity between Music and Interactive attendees (and the lurking Film festival geeks too), is that they could all stand to spend time in each other’s sessions. So much inspiration flowed out of musical performances that I think would have benefited Interactive attendees, particularly the PR and marketing types who were hard-charging the entire time selling and jiving versus soaking up the people’s culture.


Emmylou Harris performing solo on the Radio Day Stage.

I’ll do up a separate post later on the musical discoveries I made. Those are stories in and of themselves.

Omni Hotels Continue to Rock

Not only did my lovely friends at Omni Hotels hook me up with a couple free drinks and grab bag of SXSW necessities, I also found that the Omni’s parking situation far outweighed any other in downtown Austin. Where other lots were jacking prices up to $10 and $20 at a time, the Omni kept a moderate $7 a day parking charge for SXSWi. What’s more, you could avoid that charge completely if you returned for your car after midnight, where they opened the garage. GREAT customer service from Omni, especially for people who weren’t even staying at their hotel for SXSW. Thanks again for the stops along the way!

(Pro-tip: The Omni also had the cleanest bathrooms in town. At about midnight when those tacos are kicking in, ain’t nothing better than a spotless and empty bathroom!)

Where Do We Go From Here?


The Macallan 15, proud sponsor of SXSW and drunk-asses everywhere.

SXSW was a worthy event, but I’m not sure I can do it all in one sitting again. It was a great time, and I enjoyed it, but had it not been for the people I met there, it could have been a big old bust. I brought back with me a ton of great ideas and content that I have to work with, so I hope to see some heavy return on investment soon. In that vein, keep your eyes peeled for successive posts about different SXSW aspects that I couldn’t fit into this one.

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I finally bit the bullet this year and bought a full conference pass to South by Southwest, Austin’s long-AWESOME music, film, and tech festival. Having suffered through years of Twitter and Facebook friends broadcasting the varying degrees of AWESOMEness emanating from one of my favorite towns in Texas, I’m taking the @Du4.llc plunge.

While I do have a few specific goals for my trip, a large part of it remains unplanned. I intend to broadcast my experiences often, and I thought this would be a great opportunity to develop a publication strategy for a single event. Granted, it’s a media-heavy event, so separating out fun content from crappy stuff could be dicey. So here’s a quick breakdown of how you can find the different Du4 media that I’ll be pumping out from AWESOMEville.

Where I’m Gonna Be: Plancast

Here’s a new social stream with which I’m experimenting: Plancast. The idea is similar to a calendar except you organize your plans socially around what your friends are doing. You can also link into several existing tags for types of events, like I’m doing for SXSW. I’ve been invited to and RSVP’d to a staggering number of parties and events at SXSW, so keeping track of everything via my email inbox has just become too tedious and confusing. I’m hoping to use Plancast to organize my plans (duh) for Austin and share them with folks via my Plancast stream so if you do want to link up with me, it’ll be easier to sync schedules.

However, let us all remember the special operator’s maxim: “No plan survives first contact with the enemy…”

Twitter: @Du4

I’ll be broadcasting my hour-to-hour activities at SXSW via Twitter. The #SXSW hashtag will probably be overloaded with people tweeting on it, so follow me for direct updates. I’ll also be retweeting cool content I find on Twitter throughout SXSW. I’d also encourage anyone who’s doing remote listening of the event using tools like TweetDeck, Hootsuite, Radian6, or whatever, please hit me up with any emerging hashtags you see coming out of SXSW so I can find ’em “on the ground.”

Twitter is also my go-to service for preferred commo. If you need to get ahold me right away, @reply or DM me and I’ll get back to you fast. Even better, if you’re attending SXSW, be sure to hit me up so I can follow you around too!

Locations: Foursquare and Gowalla

I’m a dual geolocation user: Foursquare for the badges, Gowalla for the items. There will be a TON of SXSW specific checkin rewards for 2011, so I’m going to have a ball checking in and sampling all the AWESOME places and things to do during the week. I have both accounts connected to my Twitter stream, so just follow me on Twitter to see where I am and what exclusive badges and achievements I unlock as I roll through Austin. I will probably post some pics and tips for various places too. Where Plancast is a proposed schedule of where I am planning to be, Foursquare and Gowalla will show where I actually end up.

Pro tip: you can click on the link in each checkin tweet I make to bring you to my Foursquare or Gowalla page and see everywhere I’ve been.

Photos: Posterous and Instagram

I’ve been noodling with how to use a Posterous page for a while now. For those who don’t know, Posterous is a dead simple, email-based blogging system. You have a couple simple commands that you set up via your preferred email account, and then you just publish content to your Posterous stream via email or SMS. It works best when you’re on the go and want to share something or capture something quickly form your mobile device and get it online and visible. You’ll also receive every comment on your posts via email and be able to reply back via email.

For SXSW, I’ve developed a brand new Posterous page where I can instantly upload content. I’ve found this is the simplest way to upload HD photos from my iPhone to a website where people can view them without a corresponding account. You just click on that link and BOOM: AWESOME shit direct from Du4. Because I can gin up other content and get it quickly published as well, I may use this Posterous page for snap, on-the-street blogging or “scrapbooking.”

(Aside: I got the idea for said use of Posterous from “vigilante pundit” and comedian Baratunde Thurston, who uses his Posterous as “an internet scratch pad.” I love that description of the service, and you can see from Baratunde’s updates exactly how well such usage of Posterous suits him.)

Baratunde Thurston at ROFLCon II

Baratunde Thurston (image via Wikipedia)

(Aside 2: I’ve also got a Pulsememe stream I’ve been using via Posterous to share stories and other content I view through the Pulse iPad app. Pulse is a cool reader-like app that I use now for ALL of my daily reading; Google Reader is dead to me after playing with this. Pulse connects to a separate Posterous URL where I share any interesting articles, links, and other stuff that comes across my ADD-addled eyes via the Pulse app. I also pull my Links of the Week directly from this Pulsememe stream.)

For those of you on Instagram, you can follow my feed (my username is du4) there for any photos I upload and touch up using Instagram’s color tools. Instagram does not have a web-based version of its users’ streams so you can only view it from your smartphone.

Longer-form Reporting: Must. Be. AWESOME!!! dot com

If SXSW is social media nerd heaven, then I wouldn’t be a crown prince in the nerd host of angels without a blog. So every couple of days, I’ll throw together something more thoughtful than a mere tweet or photo upload can convey here at http://mustbeawesome.com. You can also expect some video blogging, interviews with rad people I meet, and other video clownishness posted here.

Stay Mobile, Stay Flexible, Stay Alive

SXSW is going to be a good opportunity for me to really put the gas pedal down on developing and sharing content online. I may get part way through the experience and realize that I don’t need all the streams I’ve talked about above. I figure this will be a supercool learning experience though. Let me know what you think by leaving a comment here or anywhere on one of the social streams I’ve described above. If there’s something I’m missing, I wanna know about it!

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Neil Pasricha: The 3 A’s of Awesome

I love me some TED Talks. Here’s the author of 1000 Awesome Things describing how he came up with that blog and subsequent book. As purveyor of all things AWESOME, I feel for the guy and get where he’s coming from. The downer part of this is that Neil’s presentation isn’t terribly… AWESOME. In fact, it’s kinda weak. If you’re gonna go AWESOME, bro-han, you gotta go BIG. Get some pep and CRUSH that sucker.

[Bit of an aside: I actually think that while his concept is pretty rad, the actual content leaves something to be desired. He should aim for 1000 AWESOME Things instead of 1000 Awesome Things.]

Why You Can’t Work At Work

What? More videos? Send the AWESOME, son!

Jason Fried’s frustration is shared by many, but I think a lot of that frustration comes from the tension that springing up in the modern workplace between social business and the 1.0 workplace of collaboration. People confuse meetings with collaboration and hierarchy with order.

The 5 Critical Social Media Skills You Need To Disperse

I saw Jay Baer speak at BOLO 2010 in Scottsdale last year, and he touched on these skills before codifying them (with Amber Naslund) in this post and his forthcoming book The NOW Revolution: 7 Shifts to Make Your Business Faster, Smarter, and More Social. He’s right on the money with every one, from Listening to Brand Immersion to Engagement. Business MUST understand that their people will ALWAYS BE MARKETING. A.B.M. ALWAYS! BE! MARKETING! If these businesses miss the boat on empowering their people to become marketers on the brand’s behalf, then they will risk those same people talking negatively about the selfsame brand. Be human, people!

China’s Global Dominance Tour: Next Stop Muslim World

This is more than a little significant. Fast Company‘s article is short on the details, but I HIGHLY encourage people to start paying attention to what China’s up to internationally. If you combined the entire population of China with the total number of professed Muslims, you would get a number worth paying attention to.

Amazon Launches Kindle Singles, Saves Long-Form Journalism

Long-form journalism that’s not book length? Not a bad business model here. At $1-$5 a pop, this is a GREAT way for writers and reporters to make some scratch off magazine-plus length journalism that’s too short for book distribution and too long for magazine inclusion. Further, it sets up a direct-to-consumer relationship, which is good for journalists and bad for journalism companies that can no longer charge a percentage against the writer for any work he publishes. I think you’re about to see a ton of for-profit writers start generating some AWESOME work this way.

Have a Great Weekend!

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Back at it in 2011. Let’s see what’s AWESOME so far.

11 Actionable Trends For 2011

I got burned out on 2011 predictions almost as soon as the first ones started trickling out in November. However, David Armano‘s and Steve Rubel‘s work at Edelman Digital bears some notice. I got really excited to see some of the trends they report because of the work I did in 2010 involved things like Thought Leadership, Attentionomics, and Transmedia Storytelling. Also, Armano is required reading for social business enthusiasts and pros alike, so dive into this AWESOME preso.

A List Of The Best Of The Best Meme Lists Of 2010

Great roundup of all the “best of” lists tracking the best memes of 2010. I’m really surprised the Inception meme didn’t rank higher on most of these lists, because I laffed my ass off reading that one when it first hit. Still, I can’t get enough of The Bed Intruder:

Transcending the Human, DIY Style

This is a crazy article from Wired‘s Threat Level blog about a girl doing low-tech body enhancements out of her kitchen. She’s literally inserting magnets into her fingertips so she can develop a new magnetic “sense,” in addition to many other body modifications. There’s apparently a huge craze for body mods in the UK. It’s transhumanism and posthumanism on the cheap.

Humanity’s Next God: You?

Venessa Miemis continues to ask the questions of the future. In this new post at emergent by design, she references an Economist article that posits humanity is due for a new religion and a new god. The subsequent discussion features some pretty fascinating thoughts about humanity evolving to a godlike state, something I’ve been wrestling with myself recently. Of course, me being me, I had to wonder in the comments section if now is indeed the time for Mark Millar‘s RELIGIMON concept from his run on The Authority to come to fruition.

Image courtesy of Comic Vine

Scraps – by Henry Rollins

This contribution from Henry Rollins to Vanity Fair‘s blog is just… surreal. Rollins does this poetic thing every so often, and it’s just… mesmerizing. To this day, I associate Rollins with his death metal work so I get shocked when he delivers writing of this quality. He did something similar for Les Claypool years ago on a song called “Delicate Tendrils,” which features Rollins reciting this parable of modern life metaphorically represented by hyenas stalking you as an animal. Amazing, AWESOME shit, man. Really worth a look.

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Strained my eyeballs reading stuff this week. Let’s dig in:

6 Reasons Why Social Games Are the Next Advertising Frontier

Image via Mashable

One of my @Du4.llc clients develops episodic social games, and their data confirms how effective engaging, in-game ads can be. A lot of people pooh-pooh advertising in the social age on general principle, but given a certain degree of innovation, I think there’s still a place for them.

5 Predictions for 2011 From IDC

None of these are particularly eye-opening, but IDC’s expectation of 25 billion mobile apps sold via various app stores is something to think about. We’re moving to an app ecosystem where simple web tools that enhance users’ lifestyles are becoming a ubiquitous part of life. Imagine where that could take us in 20 years where we’ll be downloading apps directly to implants attached to our five senses. I’m not seeing much in app futures right now, but the premise is sound.

When Futures Thinking Meets Design Thinking

So one of my favorite reads is Venessa Miemis‘s blog emergent by design. Venessa is the first futurist-in-training I’ve met who sought a formal education in futurism. I got to meet her at Stowe Boyd‘s Social Business Edge earlier this year in New York, and I was blown away by her innate creativity and motivation to discover what’s next. It’s people like Venessa that we should be listening to as they punch through the bubble of the present mundanity and shape positive visions of the future. In this post, Venessa describes Jamais Cascio‘s (another AWESOME futurist you should be paying attention to) process for Futures Thinking. It’s a process I’m going to put to work on some of my client projects. For more, Venessa posted a follow-up called 3 Tools for Futures Thinking and Foresight Development that examines some things that can help you put Futures Thinking into practical application.

Always Be Thinking About These Things

Some excellent advice for creatives, independents and misifts from Chris Guillebeau at The Art of Non-Conformity. AONC is actually one of the coolest looking blogs I’ve seen in a while, and I’m having fun navigating Chris’s community and discovering old works of his. His commentary is soul food for creatives and wanderers.

Friday Five: Leading Digital Ethnographers

Every time I get ready to delete my content feed for Edelman Digital, they put out something like this. This post is a really great roundup of researchers conducting studies into the emerging field of digital anthropology. Each one has taken a slightly different approach to the task of segmenting internet users for study, and there are some fascinating links to their stories and work contained within. As an aside, last year I worked with a social networking research team at a company called Detica. My teammates were young, talented analysts with digital research aptitudes, culturally relevant skills in other languages, and a whole lot of code-monkeying savvy. Our work was very similar to what Edelman describes as digital anthropology but my teammates – ever the AWESOME crowd – coined the term “netnography” for the type of work we were doing. One of these days, I’m gonna get that to stick somewhere…

Why Wikileaks Is Good for America

4channers Go After PayPal, Swiss Bank in Defense of Wikileaks

I could go on and on with links to commentary about Wikileaks’ recent diplomatic cable dump and the subsequent storm of distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks against it and in defense of it. This issue is probably one of the most fascinating communications events I have ever experiences. I’ve been on both sides of this debate. Having worked in the Pentagon and understanding the necessities of operational security, I’m on one hand appalled by Wikileaks’ behavior. (Moreso, I’m appalled by the inflammatory anti-American statements Julian Assange has made, but that’s a separate issue.) On the other hand, I’m loving the debate this is creating about what government transparency really is and can be. In this world where some podunk, know-nothing ass-clown NCO can lift the entire SIPRNET via CD-ROM and get it published to the Internet, can the federal government truly afford to continue adhering to default security classification just because they don’t want to deal with information getting out to the public? I’ve certainly been in situations where documents were classified for political reasons and not actual security, so the motivation to break down barriers to transparency is understandable. I just don’t think the way to do it is the Wikileaks way.

Even more fascinating in this situation has been 4chan and the Anonymous community of hacktivists basically declaring war against the internet outposts of Visa, Mastercard, PayPal, Amazon, and any other online service provider that cut off its services to Wikileaks. This constitutes a citizen-galvanized retaliatory strike against perceived injustice, and most of the U.S. govvies I know who are monitoring this issue are literally left scratching their heads. I’m also astounded that the U.S. military, its component commands, and even its contractors have virtually stuck their heads in the sand to avoid dealing with the implications of Wikileaks: some defense outfits I know of are scared to death of mentioning Wikileaks in public conversations because they think they’re going to get hacked and lose their security clearances.

All this begs for more thought, so I may develop a separate post about in the near future. I definitely think Wikileaks is forcing us to redefine what we consider “free press,” “mainstream media,” and notions of transparency. It’s just going to be a long, ugly debate getting to any kind of common ground.

Anonymous's OPERATION PAYBACK call to arms (Image via Gawker)

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Some interesting things I’ve read this week that bear mentioning:

These Screens Will Send You Back To The Future

Screenshot from new Back to the Future game courtesy of IGN/Kotaku

Telltale Games is developing a new internet browser-based video game adaptation of Back to the Future. I’m even more excited by the fact that this will be an episodic game with new weekly content AND an iPad version! Here’s an early screenshot on the left, and more higher-quality scans can be found at the link above.

The Anatomy of a Movement

David Armano talks about harnessing the power of movements for ad campaigns. Armano makes AWESOME graphics to help explain his points, and I find his style of visual thinking is among the most cogent on the web.

WikiLeaks Reveals Iran’s Secret, Worldwide Arms Hunt

The big news in DC this week was “Cablegate,” an unleashing of several diplomatic documents obtained illegally by WikiLeaks. These documents confirmed something I’ve known for quite a while because of my irregular warfare work: strategically, there is a Cold War-like balance of power between Iran and Arab nations like Saudi Arabia that hinges on nuclear capability and how the United States chooses to engage in the region. There is a lot more to this than anybody truly understands, I think. I believe the Persian/Arab divide is much more of a globally chilling problem than our own existential struggle with Islam.

Activate Wave-Motion Gun! New documentary takes you inside the live-action Star Blazers

Star Blazers was the first cartoon I remember seeing as a child that changed my perspective on animated storytelling from the pedestrian to the epic. Despite its somewhat cheesy American adaptation, Space Battleship Yamato (its original Japanese name) established a cool standard for serialized, mature storytelling in American cartoon programming. I’m super excited to see it being adapted into a live-action film that many are comparing to the AWESOMEness of Battlestar Galactica. It premiered in Japan this week, and it looks AMAZING. Here’s a clip:

I’m experimenting with PulseMeme, an app on my iPad that creates a much smoother way of reading RSS content. Through it, I’ve set up a share feed on Posterous where I’ll share various stories from time to time. You can find that feed at this link if you want to subscribe. I’ve pulled all the links in this post from that feed, as I’ll do on a weekly basis from now on.

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Something my Dad told me once: “Nobody likes to be sold to… but EVERYBODY likes drinking a cold beer.”

As much as I respect The Hard Close, I have to admit, I’ve been getting a lot of mileage out of that theory this year. Early on, I identified about 15 potential clients for my newly-minted consultancy. The ones I’ve hit with The Hard Close have yet to sign on the dotted line. The others I’ve spent considerable time drinking cold beer with. Or playing golf. Or watching movies. Or cooking out. Or whatevs. I’ve closed three deals with that group of cats.

Sometimes a cold beer and a whatevs gets you a lot more social capital than you might anticipate. So remember that next time you’re questioning your business overhead for entertainment and marketing expenses.

Corona beer

Image via Wikipedia

Buy you a beer?

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And now, the final video from my MountainRunner Institute talk at the “Now Media Seminar.” Let me know what you thought!

You can also find the slides from this preso by following this link.

Here’s Part 4 of my MountainRunner Institute talk from the “Now Media Seminar.” HOWF!

Also, you can follow this link to see the actual slides from the event.