Sunday, April 29, 2007

Your Digital Double

As more and more activity occurs online, and the greater the detail of data is entered, the more likely a reasonable picture of what a person is like, what activities they engage in, their areas of interest and dislikes, can be reasonably drawn from online information alone. Without ever meeting someone, you have get a sense of personality, buying patterns, voting and political affiliates as well as what they do for work and trade. I refer to it both as a persons Digital Double and also as their Virtual Doppelganger.

The Digital Double is the picture that is created from the information assembled and it is something everybody should be aware of about themselves. This is how more and more people and companies are going to view you, so knowing how complete or incomplete that information is becomes as important as knowing your credit history or maintaining your personal records.

As for the Virtual Doppelganger, according to Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary (1913).

Doppelganger \Dop"pel*g["a]ng`er\, n. [G.]
A spiritual or ghostly double or counterpart; esp., an
apparitional double of a living person; a cowalker.

Or if you prefer a more casual definition with less authority but more fun, try this from the Psychic and Mediums Network. "The Doppelgänger is the German word for a ghostly double of a living person. The word comes from doppel meaning "double" and gänger translated as "goer". The term has, in the vernacular, come to refer to any double of a person, most commonly in reference to a so-called evil twin, or to bilocation. Alternately, the word is used to describe a phenomenon where you catch your own image out of the corner of your eye.

I actually think of the concept of how we appear to others based on Internet and Web accessible information more frequently in the doppelganger sense, because doppelgangers are described as mischievous and troublesome. Online information about ourselves is inherently incomplete, biased and sometimes outright incorrect. Yet as we spend more time in living and working virtually the more we become reliant upon this information.

In this blog I will be revisiting this idea frequently and will include the tag of "Digital Double" to those postings.

How can you start to get a sense of what your digital double looks like. Two easy starting points are to do a vanity search or to visit www.zoominfo.com. I will write more on vanity searches at a later time, but for now, check out data aggregator Zoominfo. Go to the people search and type in your name. See what come up. I come up, but under three different affiliations.

Over time, the more you know what is out there about you, the more you have control over what it says and what it says about you. If you do a search, I would be interested in hearing from you as to what you think about what you have found.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

My Wedding

Well, not my wedding, but www.mywedding.com.

This weekend my wife and I will be going to a wedding in Leavenworth and I am looking forward to it. This is one of my wife's friends from work, so I didn't have much back story on the couple. That is not until I went online. Dan and Renea have a web site on mywedding that not only includes the information and directions, but also their story, photos, the wedding party bios and a blog.

Wedding sites, especially those associated with brides magazines have been around for some time. Registries and wedding planners as well. What I particularly liked about this site was the way it allowed the couple to own their wedding story and present the event in a simple, highly personalized fashion.

They provide accommodation information, attraction links, an RSVP function and contact information in a clean elegant format. It feels more like an extension of their event than a web site to me.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Cyber Defense Classes

I posted over at Tacoma Tech Connect about a cyber security and defense exercise that was going to be conducted this Saturday on Fort Lewis by university students. They'll be using tools, software and their course work education within the framework of a hands on drill.

As we move more of our information, work and lives onto the web, through a variety of alias and associations, we become more likely victims of any sort of cyber attack. The students are being led in their exercise by a Lt. Colonel from West Point. We as individuals have our firewalls, security software and services to protect ourselves.

Can you imagine cyber defense classes being taught to individuals not unlike the self defense courses being taught today for our physical protection? Especially for those who feel more vulnerable or seek to empower themselves further. What would such a class look like and who would teach it? What is the equivalent of a police officer or dojo master from the physical realm, and would degrees of proficiency be awarded?

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Event Management with Google Calendar

I mentioned Evite earlier, as I get an occasional gallery showing announcement through their online invitation and event management feature set. Just this week, I received an invitation with a similar purpose through Google's calendar product. Like many of the Google solutions, this one came labeled BETA, but it was interesting for me to see.

"RR Anderson Automatic Drawings Show" was the title for a showing on May 17th. What makes it more than an email notification was the RSVP function. "Will you attend?" is the bottom most text with "yes no maybe" choices. It is my assumption that it will automatically load the date into your Google calendar.

I am in Washington, DC at the time but would love to have gone to the event.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

City Slogans in a Virtual World

Dan Voelpel in the Sunday news brought up the topic of a new Tacoma slogan. This topic pops up frequently in many different venues. I have seen it on blogs, in the paper, in conversation with city staff and friends. That generally means it is a good conversational topic. Right up there with "should Edgar Martinez make it into the baseball Hall of Fame? (yes), and what are the ten greatest movies of all time? (unanswerable)". Perfect for a Sunday.

My suggestion for a new slogan is "Tacoma, New Branded Slogan To Go Here".

My question for you. Are there any virtual communities out there that are currently debating their brand and slogan?. Triggerstreet, which is a non-gaming virtual community in many respects. They have citizens, rank within the membership, rules and order and even a hall of justice where peers mete out punishment for broken laws and misconduct. Their slogan is "Help Others, Help Yourself. Feedback, Exposure, Opportunity." That works very well for the site.

Any other examples out there?

Friday, April 20, 2007

An Energizing Day

I spent part of my day today in Bremerton with a bright and energized group of community and civic leaders who are working to further the Kitsap SEED project along. The SEED project (Sustainable Energy and Economic Development) has several goals which include attracting technology leaders throughout the emerging energy and sustainable technology industries, and community outreach and education, which would promote efficiency, innovation and market development of these new energy initiatives.

The room was packed with people focused on creating something special and food was provided. I have always loved that combination.

When I returned to downtown Tacoma, a solar energy exhibit was being set up outside of the Museum of Art. It was a nice point of emphasis on the days topics of conversation.

Meanwhile, Dr. George Mobus of the Institute of Technology at the UWT is developing a curriculum proposal for an Energy Systems Engineering graduate degree, which would take a more holistic approach to where energy comes from, is spent in creating other forms of energy for consumption, where the waste energy from the production facilities flows to and where the efficiencies are best leveraged.

On days like today, it gives you pause to think about what we might all be working on together in research, education and industry five years from now.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Tried and True Listservice for the Arts

In 1971 the first email was sent on the Internet. The server protocol SMTP (Simple Mail Transfer Protocol) was established as the standard e-mail protocol on the Internet and part of the TCP/IP protocol suite, as defined by IETF RFC 2821.

Within the next few decades, enterprise pockets and islands of email systems developed and grew as silos. And as pointed out by Technopedia, "The Internet changed it all", turning these pockets and islands into one global system by the 1990's.

Though not fancy with features, the mailing list, an automated email processing system exemplified by LISTSERV, remains a powerful tool for artists and arts organizations. LISTSERV was invented in 1986 and arguably officially productized in 1994 when L-Soft was founded is one of many mailing list management systems available.

The Arts Commission for the City of Tacoma makes an effective use of this with their "Listserv for the Tacoma Art Scene". The basic requests of subscribe and unsubscribe have enabled artists, art lovers and art venues to communicate upcoming events, calls to artists, grant opportunities, live/work space info, jobs in the arts as well as information and opinions.

At first it was a little distracting for me to receive five or so emails a day on a wide variety of arts topics for a wide variety of reasons. But the simple set up of email rules allows for me to funnel them to their own folder for reading at my leisure.

The Arts Commission is doing a great service to the arts community by affording them this centralized information distribution system. They are up 225 subscribers from last year to 672 today.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Online Publications

In 1996, Slate magazine appeared as an online only magazine on MSN. It was big news that a regular publication, with brand names in the business, would attempt to succeed on the web. It attempted a subscription approach in 1998 in an effort to find a working business model, but gave that up in less than a year. Advertising support was light at the time.

Not any more. As Paul Ellis points out at in his blog entry "US Magazines Leave Print for Web", it is now a trend. The ecosystem of ad support, readership access and editorial content has reached a tipping point to where the business sense is to eschew the costs of physical print and distribution for the lower cost of online.

An interesting example in Washington State is the introduction recently of Crosscut. This online only daily paper has risen from the ashes of the now defunct "Eastside Week". Editorially at least. It's claim is to be "News From the Great Nearby". Time will tell if nearby reaches to the South Sound.

Our own News Tribune has made great strides in providing online news and community based communication features. What must be difficult for them though is to try and serve two customer bases. Those two being traditional print and online readership. I imagine they are watching closely how the two intersect and consume the news. The Business Journal, the Tacoma Weekly and the Volcano all have an online presence.

I wonder when we will see an online only editorially driven news/magazine launch in the South Sound. If they are already out there. Let me know.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

A Visit From Exit133

Derek Young from Exit133 visited the Living and Working class at the University yesterday and spoke about blogging and communities. Given the strength of community and volume of activity that permeates the Exit133 blog, this was a real treat and educational experience for the students.

One of the fascinating facets of Exit133 is that it grew organically. From Derek's personal use of the technology to distribute information to family and friends, to a record of daily life in Tacoma, to an answer to Seattle's inability to cover Tacoma (circa 1995) unless it was crime or corruption, to where it is today, a central hub from where artists, developers, city officials, citizen activists and the every Tacoman talk, debate, inform and plan. (How is that for obtuse sentence construction?).

One thing Derek mentioned that I thought was particularly important. He remembers when site regulars went from calling it Derek's site to calling it "our site". That's pretty cool, and a big indicator of a strong virtual community.

Friday, April 13, 2007

WA State Technology Summit: Tidal Power


I attended the Washington State Technology Summit yesterday which is put on by the Washington Technology Center. I have been to several of these summits, last year held on the Microsoft campus and this year at Bellevue's Meydenbauer Center. I would love to see one here at the Tacoma Convention Center but I digress.

Of the many impressions I was left with, I wanted to share one immediately. There is a major wave of alternative energy approaching, and I am nearly being literal. I sat in on the breakout session "Wave of the Future: Energy and Tides" and found the enthusiasm and interest startling. Two years ago, forums on alternative energy were also filled with energy products of the future: wind, solar, biofuel, hydrogen cells and tidal. But they were not always filled with large numbers of people in attendance or stories of economic feasibility. I am generalizing from my personal experiences so feel free to provide your own. At this conference, both sessions on alternative energy were packed to overflowing.

Locally, our former superintendent of Tacoma Power now General Manager of The Snohomish County Public Utility District, Steve Klein, was there. As was Chris Campbell, National Director, Ocean Renewable Energy Group, Jeff Morris of the WTC and Alla Weinstein, director of Finavera Renewables (merged with AquaEnergy) and General Manager of FVR Ocean Energy.

Alla stated that the funding for alternative and wave energy, in particular venture funding, was happening outside the United States. Europe was prominent in her examples, so much so that even though she is from the US, in 2005 Alla became the first President of the European Ocean Energy Association. So why was a business person operating outside of where the funding was? She and her company are here because the Pacific Northwest is where the resources are located. From Northern California to British Columbia there is a huge potential for non-intrusive Megawatt production.

And though the venture funding may be lagging, the governmental investment in alternative energy in the NW and the Puget Sound is huge. I am looking for information supporting a work force need for Energy Systems Engineers and was provided a staggering number of dollars being allocated for future projects. I will refrain from remembering the figure incorrectly and will post the number after confirmation, but I was impressed.

Even with the regulations and permitting process, (that help protect our resources), we are poised to be a world center for alternative energy.

So how about Tacoma?

In 2005 the Tacoma Narrows was part of a $350,000 EPRI project to evaluate tidal power feasibility and technology. Five months ago The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC)'s Tidal Energy Permits page listed 38 pending applications for projects in Alaska, Maine, New Hampshire, New York, Oregon, and Washington. FERC has also issued preliminary permit for a tidal project in the Tacoma Narrows of Washington's Puget Sound. In addition, a wave energy project was proposed for Makah Bay in Washington.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Myspace and SPAM

I asked my students where they have their web presence and quite a few said myspace. Some have had their own blogs their previously. They also mention they use it to keep in touch with friends who are distributed around the world. My only experience with it was when a short film, that I acted in, for an "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" pilot contest was posted there.

Although I already belong to a couple of social networking sites I thought I should experience myspace for myself. I found it a bit cluttered and can understand that any utility really only comes from inviting friends. But it was the friends request that threw me.

What surprised me was how quickly I started getting spam through it. I have gotten used to getting spam in my email. I do what I can to cull it out, ignore it and filter what I can. It still seems to come in at about a 1 to 4 ratio.

But when it comes in with an introduction of someone wanted to be your friend, it's just a little too personal. Kinda creepy actually.

Probably no more so than when an email phishing scam, through pure coincidence, appears to come from a bank you belong to. But whenever some scheme comes in and has an inkling of a personal connection, it sends a more severe warning signal out.

Monday, April 9, 2007

SNOCAP as Music Distributor

Paul Schrag, assistant editor at the Business Examiner, co-conspirator in the Creative Cities Leadership Seminars team and driving force behind setting up an arts incubator in the South Puget Sound sent me a link today that may be of interest to musicians, comedians and audio artists.

SNOCAP, "Powering Your Digital Music World", is a digital media management, distribution and ecommerce system. It was founded by two of the guys who brought us Napster, Shawn Fanning(founder) and Jordan Mendelson (key architect) as well as Ron Conway of Angel Investors LLC who was also an early investor in Napster.

If you are looking for a solution for getting your bands music out there and generating some sales, you should look into there offerings. I would love to check out any case studies they might have that show what kind of success some of their customers are having. Especially the guy with the guitar and harmonica whose been playing where he can get a hat out for a little love from the passer by.

Not everyone is going to make a living from their art, but anything that gets it out and distributed beyond what was physically possible in the past catches my attention.

Working without Connectivity

I went through connectivity withdrawal this weekend. The family headed out to Sunriver, Oregon and the cabin which we stayed in didn't have wireless access. The truth is that it was not entirely without, but it teased just enough to allow a page load or an email opened, and then nothing.

There is a sentiment that when you are on vacation you should disconnect. I don't believe that. I want contact information for the white water rafting company, a list of restaurants in the area that serve Mexican food, a place to upload photos for family to see and my news on demand.

I did love the bike riding though and even floated the river in less than warm weather.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Home, Work or Mobile

Mark Briggs from the Tribune blogged about internet access speeds from the home this week. I think the information is very interesting. I also have more questions. As I commented there, it should be noted that this is connectivity from the home, because quite a few people access the web from work. I would be interested in knowing the numbers of individuals who have high speed access from work, and then compare to the at home numbers.

For years I did not bring high speed access into my home, since I lived and breathed it at work. But when my kids got older, school work required a more speedy delivery of online goods. And this is not to mention their need to share with me what real music was. It also allowed me to show them why you don't throw back some Mentos and then chug a Diet Coke.

But the bigger question is whether this is going to be a pertinent question at all in the near future. With mobility, lap tops and wireless connections, it strikes me that high speed access will be nearly universal. In my Living and Working class each student carries a laptop with internet access as well as a capable mobile phone. The Trib's free wi-fi map suggest that place bound may well be a transitory issue.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Managing a Theater With Online Tools


Erik Handberg, former manager of the Grand Cinema, decided in late 2006 to start up a small professional theater called "The Horatio Theater Company". I have since seen two of their productions and enjoyed both thoroughly. In particular I enjoyed "Molly Sweeny" as much for the venue as for the wonderful story and cast. It was moved to the Commencement Bay coffee company's back room when the building the Horatio theater was being built out in didn't work out. Eventually I want to see a permanent physical structure in place, but the quick shift to the new one worked out beautifully.

What does this have to do with the virtual world? Eric developed and has been running the theater through tools and services available over the web. One particularly helpful site has been www.brownpapertickets.com , a ticket purchasing and management site for theaters. As they put it "Brown Paper Tickets is a full-service ticketing and registration service. With more features and flexibility than even the largest ticketing companies, we deliver it all for free".

He also makes great use of email managing software for targeted promotions, marketing and communications. One of the things the Grand Cinema has going for it is a great community of members. Eric is repeating that feat with online communications tools.

The Horatio is a great example of how artists and the art community can leverage the reach and ease of use that web based tools and services can provide. I will likely be referencing them often.

Monday, April 2, 2007

Voluntary Data Entry

This last Friday I was joining with folks from the Institute of Technology for a scheduled dinner with a visiting professor. It was down on Tacoma's Ruston Way waterfront and the time had changed so I was early. I took a walk along the way and out over the water at a public dock. Standing there looking out over the water I heard a young couple's conversation as they approached. The young woman was talking about the survey she had taken online that day. The young man responded with information on one he had completed. I was just marveling at the fading light of day.

My daughter needed information about Ballet basics. We took an online test and surveyed the results in order to develop our own questions for her second grade class. Every so often I vote in the USA Today online poll, or something similar. My eldest daughter creates her own quizzes online and sends them to friends.

Think about all the queries, quizzes and questions you encounter and what they might say about you if they were all collected into a some database of information. That is quite a bit of voluntary data we are entering about ourselves.