Above Video: Come join me on my “walk through” videos (see others) to meet Boulder’s tech community.
I took the day off from work yesterday, and did some sight seeing of the Rockies (thanks to long term friend Kit who was one of the organizers of the Thin Air Summit) and had an opportunity to meet the large tech community at the “Tea House” in Boulder. I quickly learned that the tech scene is active, there’s many startups, events, and a VC community (including this incubator program called TechStars) that helps spur this eco system forward. What makes it attractive? The opportunity to be exposed to the great outdoors, the clean (yet expensive) Boulder area, great food, and healthy lifestyle.
Being in Silicon Valley, we’re so centrist in our thinking and don’t get enough exposure to the other tech communities around the country and globe (although I’m trying hard to meet each community) as a result we haven’t heard that much about Colorado’s tech corridor.
I observed that the entrepreneurial spirit runs high in Colorado, many folks want to strike it out on their own (I wonder if this is tied back to the silver rush and early settlers) vs many in Silicon Valley may prefer to join startups and exit rather than building their own sole-propertiership. The environment was warm and people shared –even with risk of sharing competitive information.
Despite the warmth of this community that’s nestled between the Rocky mountains and the great plains, they’re very insular and don’t share their story to the rest of the world. I’ve visited countries where they actually have government sponsored outreach programs just to tell their story in order to attract buyers, partners, and employees –Colorado could really benefit by not only focusing inward, but being a bit more extroverted and sharing their story with others.
Well, if anyone in Colorado was hoping to keep their ecosystem a secret –too late now, I just told my community.
Every wanted to know who was behind those 140 characters? Now you can. this 2 minute video you can hear 50 people shout out their twitter handles at last night’s Dallas tweetup.
What’s a Tweetup? A group of social media enthusiasts who want to connect and networks. Despite all the tools that are available to us to communicate digitally, there’s nothing like meeting in real life.
I help the worlds largest brands develop community strategies, yet, sometimes it’s the simply things that really tell more of a story then anything else, BBQ, Shiner Boch, and a $200 camera. That’s what community is really about: people.
I’m in Dallas Texas right now, perhaps the most opposite place thank Toyko where I’ve been the last week, and have been avidly sharing my observations via Twitter, the following are some of these observations, as well as a bit more context beyond 140 characters. These observations are more of a personal and cultural note, rather than my field report that focuses on the business aspect of social media in Japan.
Internet Adoption high in Japan: I met the top executive of a marketing company in Japan and he told me that 2/3 of Japan’s 120 million residents are on the web.
Yet most Japanese corporations do not invest heavily in web: This executive also told me that only half of Japan’s 4000 companies spend more than $100k on the internet at all.
Credit crunch discussed: This is a global issue, I heard it in a few meetings with clients, it’s cascaded beyond US.
Facebook’s Japanese Translation Poor: I asked my Japanese clients what they thought of Facebook’s translation, they looked away, grimaced, and gave very clear body reactions that it needs improvement. I promised to pass the word on, as I speak to Facebook on a frequent basis.
Tokyo’s adoption of Twitter highest in globe: Given the heavy mobile adoption, I’m not surprised by these stats.
New Social Media Technology: Learned about “Nico Nico Douga” from Jonathan Browne, he says its a video sharing site where the users can ‘write’ on top of others’ vids
Developer and Enterpreneurs not fully gelled: There’s a gap (cultural and language) between business entrepreneurs in web scene and the web engineers and developers, mentioned one web entrepreneur now based in Tokyo. In silicon valley, it feels like one family.
Hotel Life: My room is equipped with a plasma screen, cordless iron, toilet with a bidet, and a futon like firm mattress.
Pride in workmanship: Everyone takes pride in their work and the customers they serve. Many taxi drivers have white glove service, and I noticed idling taxi drivers polishing their vehicle while waiting for next fare. A far cry from NY cabbies. Also, they will open and close the door for you using a remote lever –so dont open or close taxi doors, it’s frowned upon.
Tipping not required yet service high: Tipping isn’t part of Asian culture, in fact, it could be seen as insulting. Despite this, service was extremely high from taxis fast food, to hotel staff. If the weather was bad, expect apologies from Japanese, a most polite and considerate culture. I question why I feel forced to tip at American restaurants for mediocre or even sub-standard service.
Pandora: It works in Japan, I’m pleasantly surprised as I thought it was North American only.
Corporate Responsibility motto a current trend: Like “Green computing” in US, many Japanese corporations are on the sustainable and giving back to the community bandwagon, in fact, this makes a ripe opportunity for social media efforts to help tell this story.
Salary Men: Are Japan’s corporate worker, in the area I stayed, there were many dressed in black or gray suits, often with a skinny tie. Work life takes priority over anything else, and long days can extend to 12 hours, then not including after work eating, drinking, and festivities. Apparently, it’s not unheard of many salarymen to stay the night in small hotels, or even utilize showers at work… I thought I worked a lot.
Fresh Sushi: I had ‘real’ sushi near the fish market. It was more like FRUIT, than fish. Firm, burst in your mouth and sweet, I don’t think it was frozen.
Vending Machines: Dispense not only drinks and smokes, but also you can pay for food before you enter noodle houses, this increase effeciency, and reduced need to fumble with money and change. Salary Men hung out near vending machines where beer was dispensed in late evening –I wanted to join them.
Tokyo Travels: Went to Roppongi which has many ex-pats, as well as a somewhat nefarious hidden underground.
Mobile Medium: No SMS, yet all phones are 3G, most phones have built in digital TV tuners, so you can watch TV in crystal clear quality.
Developer Community still growing, yet not unified: Developers complexities with developing software, as they are a hardware based culture. Shibuya is the technology center –esp high tech and startups in Tokyo. Kris Tate, CTO of zooomr.com a photo sharing site notices an increase from 7-715, then later from 8pm-1am. Both are before and after work, often accessing from home computers before hitting the subways. There’s isn’t a large blogging community in Japan to help be the ‘instant niche media’ that you’d find in the US.
I’m back with the requisite mainlander pink sunburn, 6 days in Hawaii did me good, we stayed in the North shore, which is mainly untouched, unlike the crowded skyrises of Japanese/tourist owned Honolulu.
To unplug was good, but I’m still going to slowly wade back to shore (aka reality). Mentally, I’m still floating in the blue azul sea, I guess the vacation wasn’t long enough.
I’m not the only one that’s distancing themselves from the conversation, so expect me to slowly return to normal, if at all.
But, in the meantime I wanted to share some of the photos I took from the vacation, all are untouched raw photos from the Nokia N95 camera phone. Please note that I test social media products, and this one was given to me from a fellow analyst, which I have since given away.
Having just returned from the airport a few hours ago (I was on 6 flights in 10 days) it’s good to be back. It’s rare I post a personal post, but I had such an amazing time in Barcelona, I feel compelled to share.
I was busy working most of the day at the conference, so I only had time to go out at night. Fortunately, Barcelona’s culture is designed for night life, after work, I have drinks and tapas, take a nap, get cleaned up, then headed out (such as the Barcelona Blogger Dinner). Coincidently, on my second night out we ended up at the same restaurant we were at the night before, although we sat outside.
The last time I visited Barcelona was on my honeymoon, so it was really great to be back, it’s always great to explore the old gothic old town, see the cathedrals and Gaudi architecture.
I’m often teased for the amount of pictures I take, as I recently broke the 20,000 mark in Flickr, I use images and video to record where I’ve been, and sharing with others brings us closer. Often, when I go to events, people will tel me “I saw your photos at X” and we’re instantly able to strike up a conversation as they share their own experience at the same place.
If I could go anywhere in the world next, I’d go to Dubai to visit my new friend Ahmed, that’s an amazing city, I could spend a month wandering around taking photos.
If you’ve been to Barcelona, leave a comment, or share a link to your photos or posts, I’d love to hear. Also, if you know of any ‘authentic’ Tapas places in the SF Bay area, I wanna know. There’s Iberia restaurant in Menlo Park, pretty good, although it’s on the expensive side.
Video: How to pour beer –German style
Although I’ve poured many a beers in my life, Axel my German friend, teaches me how to pour a beer the German way:
Images help me to communicate experience, and yesterday was without exception.
I took the Acela train from Boston to New York, rode business class for 4 hours each way. Arrived at Penn Station at 11am, (that was the earliest train) and left at 7pm (the latest train) below are some of the hundreds of photos I took with my now $300 dollar camera. Having been on many of the world’s trains, I was impressed with the Acela high speed train, which reminded me of Japan’s high speed rail (here’s my video tour). The New York Subway, while effecient, was certainly showing it’s centennial age.
I hit: Madison Square, a Korean Parade, Times Square, Grand Central Station, South Street Seaport, The Bodies Exhibition, St Paul’s church, World Trade Center/Ground Zero, Wall Street, Battery Park, and back to Penn Station.
The bodies exhibition was morbidly fascinating, it wasn’t positioned as a freak show, but more like a look at our internal workings, to better understand who and why we are here. I witnessed one young college girl faint, the medical staff was on hand, and commented it was a common daily happening. The statues themselves had a rank stench to them, perhaps it was the resin that now populated the veins and tissue, excess rotting flesh, or my mind working at overdrive.
Not surprisingly, what you see on the internet about the 911 conspiracy theories was alive and well at Ground Zero, relatives of victims were still protesting, handing out pamphlets and demanding that a proper investigation be restarted. They want you to read to watch this 1 hour video, where many of the same topics were discussed, and argued, on site. I felt a mixture of emotions for them, their pain, their loss, in the whole experience of being on site. Fortunately, growth and reconstruction is occurring, and construction teams were working through the day, even on a Saturday.
Many of you were with me! I enjoy going to cities and moving quickly about taking pictures, it’s a great way to satisfy my stimuli craving. I was publishing my thoughts and observations on Twitter through the day, and received many direct messages, emails, and replies in response, although I was alone, it was like my network was with me, experiencing it alongside me.
And yes, my feet and back are sore from moving so quickly, I can see why many of the New York residents are fit and trim.
Update: I finally finished uploading this video of the debate at Ground Zero, the emotions ran very high, even several years later. That wasn’t real money they were handing out, they were pamphlets supporting their position.