Archive for category community

now holding open community office hours

Ms. Herr offers open community office hoursLong, long ago in a land far, far away… Or rather longer ago than I want to admit to <sound effect: cough cough>April</cough> in pretty much the geographic location I am today, I had the idea of holding open community office hours. At the time, I was unemployed underemployed and yet somehow extremely busy. My weeks were marked by coffee and lunch dates with people who had heard from someone who had heard from someone that I was the person to talk to about whatever it was that they needed help with. My dates would pick my brain, asking questions about social media, community events or business startup ideas.

I could have ranted about how these meetups were essentially free consulting sessions, how they didn’t yield either contract work or employment offers, or how my dates would then run off to implement things we talked about while I still had to scrape together money to pay my gas bill if I wanted to keep taking hot showers. But for the most part, I was enjoying myself for four key reasons:

  1. I love social media.
  2. I love the local Phoenix social-web-tech community I’ve become immersed in.
  3. I love meeting and talking to new people, many of whom seem to find me though this very same social-web-tech community.
  4. And I love coffee.

From something that was naturally occurring, and something that I was enjoying, came the idea to give in and hold open community office hours. Akin to a college professor’s office hours, these are times when people could join me at a local coffee shop or eatery to talk about anything that interests them, whether it be social media, current events or name ideas for the family’s new goldfish.

Here’s how it works:

  1. Every week, I’ll choose 1-2 days to hold office hours, typically in the mornings before the workday kicks off.
  2. I’ll publish the dates, times, and location of these office hours on this public Google calendar.
  3. If you plan to join me, you’ll drop me an email at heather lynne herr at gmail dot com with “office hours” somewhere in the subject line. (I guarantee there will be mornings when that email verification that someone is expecting me will be the only thing that ensures I don’t sleep in an extra hour.)
  4. We’ll meet, chat, and enjoy some good coffee and/or noms.

One very important do not:

  1. Do not come with the intention of talking about anything that you want a NDA, written or verbal, to discuss. I am by default a very open person and I don’t want the pressure of keeping your secrets.

I’m kicking things off this Friday, November 20th at Liberty Market. If you want to join me, holla!

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PodCamp AZ: it’s a blog blast ya’ll!

PodCamp AZ

is in 7 weeks!

Be. There.

That’s all I got.

kthxbye!




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@MsHerr hits 10k tweets… & hands over the keys

Twitter_MsHerr_9953rd tweet

After 26 months on Twitter, I’m fast approaching ten thousand Twitter updates. That’s a lot of characters. It’s a bit of a milestone. Not like turning 18. Or turning 21. Or losing your virginity. But a milestone nevertheless.

@spectagirl suggested 10,000 shots. Indeed momentous, but not quite what I had in mind. @smarti9 started #MsHerr10kWatch2oo9. My friends are often quick to rally behind my endeavors in some fashion or another.

A few hours ago, I was 10 tweets away from 10k. By the time you read this, I’ll be 7 tweets or less from 10k. The build up to that 10,000th tweet has been fun, but also a bit daunting. Suddenly 140 characters has become a much bigger deal than necessary. There is this pressure to be momentous. Funny considering I’m much more likely to miss it completely (despite @smarti9’s 10k watch) and either use it on a reply or post something completely irrelevant.

I’ve decided to hand over the keys to my Twitter account. That means you (and everyone else) will have the opportunity to post as and from @MsHerr for up to 26 hours.

Why am I doing this? This is not the first time I’ve yielded control of my social presence. A year ago, I asked my community to help me select my avatar. My reasons then still hold true today. I believe in the social web. I believe in trusting my friends, connections, and communities. I believe in yielding control. And I’m curious to see what will happen. It could be phenomenal success or it could be an abysmal failure. But why not? Don’t answer that, it’s a rhetorical question.

How will it work? I have set up a Ping.fm account linked to @MsHerr and will publish the associated posting email address in my 10,000th tweet. You (and everyone else) can send a tweet to this address, where it will then feed automatically to @MsHerr. My only request is that you sign your tweet with ^@yourtwittername (please replace yourtwittername with your actual twitter name so people can link to you). Ping accepts text updates and photo updates, so feel free to post pics too. If you need a how-to, check out Ping’s posting guides.

My disclaimer: I reserve the right to delete any tweet. If you do not sign your tweet, I will probably delete it. If I feel violated by your tweet, I will probably delete it. After all, this is my account we’re talking about.

That’s it. That’s the deal. Make me laugh. Make me cry. Make me proud. And remind me why I fell in love with the social web so many months ago.

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two theories regarding social media, human dimensionality and community fragmentation

Social media is at once a new and old field. Those such as Christopher Locke, his fellow authors in The Cluetrain Manifesto (website or book) and others who have been around since the internet’s inception would say the foundations were lain decades ago. Those who have entered the field in the last couple of years are still considered early adopters. Yet there are many more that have yet to realize that those giants known as MySpace, YouTube and Facebook are just the biggest in a seemingly endless stream of social media channels.

Like so many fields in fledgling states, the early adopters are in a mad rush to understand the trend, define the vernacular, explore the potential and forecast the implications. Social media is deconstructing conventional notions of relationship building, information sharing, and personal and brand engagement. The implications will be numerous, diverse and far-reaching.

Some would consider me an early adopter…

I’ve been sitting on two theories for several months. They are theories that I think few people, if any, are talking about. And they are theories the have emerged as what I’ve learned in the relatively short time I’ve been engaged in social media has subconsciously intertwined with the semblance of knowledge gathered during my years as student of architecture (UNM and ASU).

To date, I’ve done nothing to push, publish, or promote my theories, largely because I have felt a bit intimidated by the amount of research that I think will be required to adequately explore them. But time to sit no more. Time to give my thoughts public face. Time to talk less and DO more. (Thanks to @templestark for callin’ me out).

one: social media facilitates the re-piecing of human dimensionality.

Driven largely by our car-dependent culture and the specialization of industry knowledge, we have come to live very fragmented lives. We live in one place, work in a second, and play in a third. We give our time to this group and our money to that one. In each place, neighborhood, district, and organization, we associate with specific groups of people, each representing a niche, and often isolated, community. We project the parts ourselves relevant to each community’s respective cultures, operating within specific norms and talking about specific subjects. We are perceived accordingly and we are encouraged to maintain certain boundaries lest one area leak into another and compromise our standing in both.

With little crossover between our personal, professional, recreational, and hobby interests, most of the people we encounter only experience a small sliver of our personalities. Yet what makes humans so fascinating is the interweaving of likes and dislikes, strengths and weaknesses, skills and knowledge, indulgences and aspirations. These things interweave to create depth, breadth, complexity, and richness. They create dimensionality.

Social media opens the door to the fuller picture of our selves. We may still generally correspond with friends on Facebook, network with colleagues on LinkedIn or Biznik, and share ideas with people of similar passions on any number of niche interest sites, but the barriers to connecting with any one person in any number of communities are dramatically reduced. Time and distance are only nominally relevant. We’re easier to find. We’re easier to observe. We’re easier to engage. Indeed, it almost seems taboo to deny “friendship” in one community when it’s already been granted in another.

Each new request in a subsequent platform, whether online or off, flows from an interest that extends beyond the slivers of our personality toward the greater whole of our dimensionality.

two: solutions to community fragmentation will be found first in our online communities, and if they’re paying attention, urban planners and designers may be able to extrapolate the learnings for application within our physical communities

The fragmentation of our physical, neighborhood, and civic lives has long been a concern for urban planners and community developers. Whole genres, such as New Urbanism, have emerged from the search for design solutions that will help us patch the pieces back together for more cohesive lifestyles. Organizations, research efforts and books are dedicated to identifying causes and posturing solutions. There will be no one right answer, but there does not yet seem to be a satisfactory answer.

The proliferation of social media platforms is trending to a similar fragmentation of online communities. Blogs, videos, networks, bookmarks, games, podcasts and live-streams all provide means to produce, distribute and share content. Even within a single content type, there are a multitude of platforms. Consider YouTube, Viddler, Vimeo, Ustream Tv, and many more, all operating in the video space.

Early adopters jostle for beta invites from each new launch. We play with the functionality, features, user interface and mobile capabilities. We play with the other users. We love an application and become loyal users and evangelists. We hate it and they migrate back to another preferred application. Or we fall somewhere in the middle, neither passionate nor dispassionate. Over time, we collect a pocketful of applications we use frequently, as well as a vast network of friends/colleagues/associates unique to each application. We collect fragment communities.

The online world grows, adapts and evolves much faster than the physical world, so while online communities mimic that which has already undermined our physical communities, they will also find solutions much quicker. From inception to prototype to product launch, maturation times drop and results evidence sooner. The quest for solutions has already begun. Feed aggregators and application sharing are only the beginning. Urban planners and designers who take heed now will experience a virtual living lab, and the learnings will be invaluable.


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