The Bleeding Edge — does that sound like a good thing?

Twice today I’ve heard reference to “the bleeding edge” by people discussing what they note to be early adoption. One reference was by a social media marketing guru who I enjoy reading and respect and find funny to boot. He was talking about Plurk and his opinion and the fact that social media channels and opportunities aren’t a zero-sum game, but sometimes those of us involved in social media can get really worked up when others don’t like the same vehicles we do.

Social media guru Chris Brogan’s thought was:

Welcome to the fishbowl. In here, we get a little bit too excited sometimes. We get zealous about the bleeding edge. We sometimes get tired of things before most of the rest of the Internet has even found it. And we often crave connections and meaning and value out of these shiny objects. (you can read his full blog here).

Strangely, earlier in the day on my drive to work, one of the DJ’s on the radio station I was listening to — one in which you’re more likely to hear the word, “shorty” than “widget” — also talked about the bleeding edge.  Their discussion centered more around pop culture and male/female relationships, but nonetheless also ended up referencing the bleeding edge.

I appreciate that in conversation we need a way to differentiate early adoptors from mainstream consumers, internet natives versus internet immigrants, edgelings, bleeding edge residents, 2.0 people, naysayers, etc. 

Regardless, I’d like to stop and ask who in their right mind thinks “bleeding edge” is the right term for this?

Sure, I’ll grant you “leading edge” is so 90s.  I’m not suggesting we stick with the passe.

But, I can’t be the only one who envisions a messy razor or the logo from that 80s movie “Jagged Edge” when I hear it.  Or that new, and now overly-played annoying song by Leona Lewis about bleeding love.  Maybe it’s because I’m a mother of three tired of buying Hello Kitty and Scooby Doo band-aids but it’s hard for me to associate bleeding anything with positive change or evolution.

And to make it worse, now I have that song in my head.  Someone, quick, find a bleeding edge and put me out of my misery!

August 4, 2008. Tags: , , , . Uncategorized. 1 comment.

In the words of OK GO, G-g-g-g-get over it

Somewhere between a well-intentioned but redundant presentation from an ad agency today and reading various tweets from Twitterers I follow, I started fixating on the following.

Get over it.

What is it with early adopters technosnobs who use (mis)use their passion for all things technology as a sort of weapon? The ones who have no sense of history, who think that our generation or the current 15-25 year old consumers are faster, better, smarter, earlier by sole virtue of living in today’s era? The ones who ignore or don’t remember the Beta vs. VHS, projection TVs, Advanced Mobile Phone System (AMPS), and perhaps even railroads, the cotton gin and the steam engine.  Even the World’s Columbian Exposition in 1893 in Chicago had some really cool technology demos (think electricity)  and belly dancing, which is definitely not the norm at the trade shows I’ve been to lately.  You gonna laugh at them just because it was in a day and age when Buffalo Bill Cody set up an unauthorized side-show?

These INNOVATORS (yes, even the belly dancing and Buffalo Bill engendered some new and adventurous ideas to Americans) are why we are able to have the connectivity we have today… they went first, and we’re building on it. The generations ahead of us — regardless of whether we regard them as quaint today — were just as smart, innovative and talented as we are. They were “early adopters,” they had outside-the-box ideas, they were chided by traditionalists and naysayers, BUT they knew what they had to do — they had to open their arms to the “edglings” or the mainstreamers in order to bring their visions, products and services to them.  

Yes, innovation has been alive and well in every generation and mostly embraced. Those who truly love technology, the beauty and science of it — even those like myself who aren’t personally smart enough to actual build or innovate any of it — love it even more when it is scalable and attainable by mass markets.  Some people just move slower, and it’s up to the innovators to prove value and mass market capability. Without scalability, the cotton gin is Wang computers, 3G is Improved Mobile Phone System (IMPS), McDonald’s are Hot Shoppes and Carrie Underwood is Taylor Hicks.

Being 2.0, being a technology leader is more than looking down your nose at the non-innovators. Most people love what technology can do for their life when it’s evident to them.  Real technology leaders teach these people… they don’t spend all their time on Twitter or FriendFeed preaching to the choir about how smart they are and making snide remarks about the rest of the world — you know, all of us needed to climb on board to make something actually stick.

C’mon, get over yourselves.  You think the rest of the world hasn’t seen your technology in some 1.0 iteration? Think again.  Make it matter.

So, that’s where I was mentally somewhere this afternoon between reading a blogger’s self-important description of various wireless apps they were loading and the ad agency’s earnest presentation (which was actually good, but just reinvented the wheel). 

If you’re looking down your nose at people who aren’t “early adopters,” you’re probably also looking up your a**.

G-g-g-g-g-Get Over It. (You can see the OK GO video here… scroll down for it.)

July 14, 2008. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

All in a day’s work

Today, with a sigh and a sense of equal resignation and determination, I finally bit an oft-mocked social media bullet today and joined Second Life.  Yes, I now have a Second Life, even though I’m not sure I have time for my first life (Real Life or RL it seems to be called in SL).  Actually, I KNOW I don’t have time for my real life as my husband is standing in our office doorway and asking if my blogging means we’re not catching up on shows on DVR….

After several conferences, I wanted to confirm my suspicions about interesting corporate meeting opportunities. I used my “non-work related social media” exception at work, read the background and TOS, then downloaded the software, registered, picked a name (WHAT is UP w/having to choose from a pre-selected list of bizarro last names? SL people, you’re not going to have a lot of luck marketing to the rest of the world with that little quirk), picked an Avatar, declined a paid premium account until I can see what this is about… and voila. 

Unfortunately, I only technically have a Second Life. I watched the long, horizontal oval bar very slowly creep through, mentally pausing as it uploaded Avatar attributes — freckles? I don’t remember freckles on her… maybe I’ll be like Kate on “Lost.” In fact, the whole experience is surreal enough to seem as if I’m volunteering for some kind of other world experience. It is, after all, called Second Life and the info about it even talks about setting up islands.  Maybe this is a bad idea.  A lot of those people have ended up dead, and Hurley has already eaten all the peanut butter. This definitely is a bad idea.

But wait!  Here we goooo… woohoo!!! Huh?  Nothing. Well, one little note that our graphics chip is under the recommended minimum (this was my work laptop… I wouldn’t even know how to fix that) and then some verbiage about the connection not working and perhaps I’m not connected to the Internet. Since I was simultaneously on Twitter, MSNBC.com, Summize and our corporate Intranet, I’m pretty sure that wasn’t the case.

The irony of this was laughable… here I am “caving in” to trying this out (some guy named Anders who spoke at a conference I attended keeps emailing me about this and I remember he had a pretty cool accent) and now I can’t even get to it when I want to.

Maybe this isn’t meant to be… this is some kind of Second Life social media yoda message saying, “The force is with you young Skywalker, but you are not a Jedi yet.”  Some kind of mocking of my ever evolving 2.0 self, this constant striving for being up on the newest and latest when I wouldn’t know a SQL from a SSL server.  (Are those even correct?)

All of this led to an even more absurd moment, if that’s possible. To console myself, I grabbed a handful of m&m’s from a neighboring co-worker and proceeded to drop a brown one down the front of my black dress.  I very rarely wear dresses to work, but this is the cutest, most work-oriented Calvin Klein dress w/a tie belt that matches these awesome black slingbacks I have. Perfect if you’re not dropping m&m’s into it…

I spent about 4 minutes wiggling around peering down into the front of it, trying to hold it in a way the light could get in so I could find the dang thing, twisting my waist trying to get that m&m out of there w/o having to take the dress off. Finally the m&m pulled loose of wherever it was stuck and fell to the floor. If anyone was walking by and saw this little dancing scene (and since my office is across from the catwalk, I’m sure at least a few did), I can not imagine the emails about the crazy woman in the 4H wing. Between that and the probable email from Asset Protection that I was playing around on Second Life, I’m sure I provided a great deal of conversation fodder for my co-workers today.

All in a day’s work.

 

June 25, 2008. Tags: , , , , . Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

Sometimes a cigar is not just a cigar

I’ve been contemplating the term, “social media” lately since I’m so immersed in it and making it happen in my job this year.  I’ve decided it’s not such a useful term when used within corporate frameworks.

Hear me out.

Social… immediate thought is not work related. Social, fun, sociable, maybe even socialist. Whatever it makes you think of first, I’m willing to wager the word SOCIAL is more likely to call to mind a cocktail party than a business meeting.  This may explain the ongoing struggle of social media — which is really all about collaboration, productivity and innovation when dropped into corporate environments — by otherwise relatively visionary leaders and productivity champions in large corporate settings. The name just gets us hung up.

So, I think I’m going to take 30 minutes tomorrow and think of a euphemism for social media I can use with the naysayers and a few (not all) lawyers at work. Yes, we’ve come to this.  But, sometimes a cigar is just a cigar, and sometimes it’s not.  Social media is way more valuable than average “media” when dropped inside the firewall. 

Let me know if you have any suggestions, as I’m feeling kinda social.

June 17, 2008. Tags: , . Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

Verbal schrapnel

Today at work the most amazing thing happened.  I actually lived the kind of moment you see on West Wing or 30 Rock that normal working people view and think, “That would never actually happen in the office. People don’t talk like that.”

So, what happened? Basically, one of my co-workers exploded. Partially at me, partially at IT and I think partially at frustration at a lot of 2.0 changes making things move really fast and in really new directions.  It was an absolute shouting outburst on a conference call in which we all could hear him trying to stay calm and failing until finally, in a lava-like flow of expletives, he erupted and then slammed down his phone after shouting he was going to go tell dad his supervisor.

Now, this, this! This is what they used to do on West Wing and other shows, the ones where all the people really pulling together as a team for the greater good have a conflict and they end up working on the issue until they have achieved peace, harmony, professional success or at least a consensus on who to nominate for supreme court justice.

My first reaction was bemused… this was just this guy being this guy.  And hey, I can be like those people on TV and work with it, right? I always thought CJ was super cool. And truly, I believe both he and I and all the others who were on this call are indeed team players and can get some amazing things done. Besides, I have a job to get done for my boss and I don’t have the luxury of letting anxiety slow me down.

But, it turns out time doesn’t heal all wounds and in some case it can make them more evident. While I was unflappable at that moment, a few hours later I was furious and picking at my wounds. In addition to being unwilling to have a two-way conversation, he basically threw a grenade into the call… while we all ducked, it turns out the schrapnel did leave injuries. That’s no way to be part of the team.

These are probably just surface wounds, but people, remember this:  Verbal schrapnel has no place at work and is a bad way to problem solve. 

June 12, 2008. Tags: , , . Uncategorized. Leave a comment.