Archive for November, 2008

Why Twitter is here to stay

What an amazing article from Tim O’Reilly on why Twitter is starting to find its place in the world and why it is so special. I’ve been using Twitter since August 22nd, 2007 when my first tweet echoed across the globe.

My first tweet in all its resounding epicness: I am working on homework

At that point Twitter was nothing more than answering the question so innocently posed on its user interface. “What are you doing?” And people did that. They so monotonously produced tweets which explained only what they were doing. But sometime over the last 6 months Twitter has become so much more. People are sharing ideas through the service and using it to display what they are focusing/thinking about.

Why has my blog been updated continuously less and less since that fateful first tweet in August 2007? Initially I used this site to share quick ideas which I found interesting or to let people know what I was thinking. Those two things are now primarily encompassed by Twitter. My personal blog will never be completely replaced but has now become just a supplement to Twitter, the primary tool for sharing my thoughts.

What I like about Twitter is that it updates my facebook status where people leave comments on it. This has provided a new link between my friends and my thoughts.

While I am not a Twitter evangelist, I have tried to get friends and family to adapt the service because of the reasons that this writeup from Mr. Tim O’Reilly summarizes so nicely (which I can never explain to people).

My two favorite reasons for using Twitter from the list,

  1. Twitter works like people do. If I’m interested in someone, I don’t have to ask their permission to follow them. I don’t have to ask if they will be my friend: that is something that evolves naturally over time. If you’re a public figure like I am, the metaphor of mutual “friending” is truly broken. I get tens of thousands of friend requests from people I don’t know. Accepting would make it impossible for me to use a social tool to keep in touch with my real friends. Friend groups don’t really help.Twitter’s brilliant social architecture means that anyone can follow me, and I can follow anyone else (unless they want to keep their updates private.) Gradually, through repeated contact, we become friends. @ replies that can only be seen by people followed by both parties to a conversation create a natural kind of social grouping, as well as social group extensibility, as I gradually get more and more visibility into new people that my friends already know. Meanwhile, truly private direct messages are also supported.I don’t know who first used the term “ambient intimacy” but it’s a great description of what begins to happen on Twitter. I know not just what people are thinking about or reading, but enough about what they are doing that our relationship deepens, just like real-world friendships. People who follow me on Twitter learn that I’m making jam or pies, or gardening or riding my bike or feeding the horses, things that I’d never (or rarely, since I’m doing it here) share on my blog. I know a lot more about many of my professional contacts that makes them more into friends. And in the case of my family, who keep their updates private and visible only to a limited group of real friends, we can keep in touch in small ways that mean a lot. I get special moments of my wife or daughters’ day that we might not have shared otherwise. It’s truly lovely.
  2. Twitter cooperates well with others. Rather than loading itself down with features, it lets others extend its reach. There are dozens of powerful third-party interface programs; there are hundreds of add-on sites and tools. Twitter even lets competitors (like FriendFeed or Facebook) slurp its content into their services. But instead of strengthening them, it seems to strengthen Twitter. It’s the new version of embrace and extend: inject and take over. (Scoble recently noticed that 60%+ of his friends’ updates on Facebook actually came from twitter. And as John Battelle noted in a recent tweet, “I noticed now that my FBook status is updated with Twitter, I get responses in Fbook, but would like to see them here.” It might seem like a strength for Facebook to allow Twitter to update its status feed, but not the other way around, but I think Facebook will one day realize that Twitter has taken them over….)

So if you are a friend or family member reading this, give twitter a try. I’d love to build that ambient intimacy of your daily happenings. I’ve met some really cool people through twitter because I feel strangely connected to their minds. I hope to build an even stronger connection with you all through the service 🙂

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The UK government cares about its drunk citizens. As demonstrated by its recent grant allocated for handing flip-flops to the tipsy femmes that can’t balance.

From the St. Petersburg Times Via @eyecharlotte

British resort firmly behind free flip-flops

One of the biggest societal problems facing the people of the British resort town of Torbay is: How do drunk women walk home from a party on high heels? Thanks to a government grant, that problem is being tackled. Volunteers will be deployed to hand out free flip-flops to anyone who can’t walk at the elevation their shoes would mandate, or anyone who simply lost their shoes. Apparently, that happens a lot. Officials hope this will cut down on calls to paramedics. “Let’s not make it gender specific,” police inspector Adrian Leisk said. “There are plenty of times when young men go out and lose their footwear, if you know what I mean.” No, but we’ll accept that it is a big problem.

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An awesome shirt via Threadless.

Appropriate considering that I’m reading the new Walking Dead hardcover.

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We beat ’em last year. Probably because I made this sign and showed it to their head coach.

Actually, that probably wasn’t the reason we won. However, I’m excited to beat the boonies again this year. But then again, UNC Boone was my safety school.

Update: We lost because we are horrible at basketball. ’nuff said.

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I never thought I would see the day when the Charlotte 49ers were on the front page of ESPN.com’s College Football tab.

All the 49er football haters out there: I encourage you to speak your opinons about how we will never be as good as UNCCH and how we will lose tons of money as much as possible. Thus it will only be sweeter when we perform opposite your expectations.

Besides, how can you not believe in this?

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I’ve been meaning to write up a blog post on my trip to Austria but the technology transfer office between Austria and the US beat me to it.

North Carolina, famous for the first successfully powered and human-piloted airplane flight by the Wright Brothers, is starting to take off with a new claim to fame: bio-energy production. In September, the Austrian Consulate of the Carolinas under the leadership of Honorary Consul Robert Friedl proposed that the University of North Carolina at Charlotte (UNCC) and other representatives from the North Carolina, Charlotte Region, send a delegation to Austria to gather information on available bio-energy technologies as well as to establish the foundations for any potential collaboration.

The Charlotte Delegation to Austria included representatives from:
  • University of North Carolina Charlotte

  • Duke Energy

  • Charlotte City Council

  • Centralina Government

  • Charlotte Mecklenburg Utilities

  • Gaston County Utilities

  • Craigland Farms

  • City of Mt. Holly & Gaston Chamber of Commerce

  • Catawba County Government

  • Charlotte Chamber of Commerce

  • Appalachian State University

The Austrian Honorary Consulate, Charlotte, initiated the concept of the delegation mission trip in 2007.  The Consulate had contacted UNCC for assistance in collecting information for remodeling an old cotton mill into development offices for Austrian companies that focused on renewable energy processes and were interested in expanding to the US.  At the time, UNCC was in the process of expanding their department of engineering to include a doctoral program for sustainable energy as well as developing a new Energy Production and Infrastructure Center (EPIC) .  As it turned out, this provided a perfect opportunity for the Charlotte region to further promote its claim as a global leader in energy production by taking a lesson or two from another leader in energy production – Austria .

Main Street in Austria

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Monopoly: US Edition


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Obama at UNC Charlotte on the eve of An Historic Election

Obama at UNC Charlotte on the eve of 'An Historic Election'

I think what finally sold me on Obama was not his platform or his persona but his recent rally at UNC Charlotte. I spoke to a mom who took a half day off work to bring her son to the rally. Obama was his hero. His mom said that he might have only had a negative role model like an athelete or rapper for a hero until Barack came a long. The little guy really was so excited to see his hero speak.

And then it hit me.

Regardless of what our new president does (other than acheiving a mutually agreed upon for of absolute failure), his presidency is already an amazing success. Taking a generation of young african american males and showing them that they can truly be spectacular individuals would do more for our country than any policy ever could. Multiply that effect around the world to less fortunate societies and this could actually be a world changing moment.

But is it?

I pondered this “change” as I drove to work under the gray cloudy sky this morning. I tuned in to the local conservative radio station, WBT 1110 for you Charlotteans, and heard Keith Larson refer to the Democratic party’s domination of Mecklenburg county as ‘proof that our residents will vote for people even if they are scumbags and dirtballs’. And GOP boosters wonder why they lost?

Can this actually be a moment of blissful optimisim for America and the world? I don’t know what that feels like. All I’ve known since I’ve been a moderately competent adult has been hatred from the world, disgrace in our national values and a political vocabulary dominated with meaningless social issues like “family values” in the Karl Rove sense. I’ve yet to believe in “America” or its ideals, especially since I’ve realized the continuous exportation of our negative externalities into rural America (like mountaintop removal coal mining) and into the world. (As much of 50% of China’s greenhouse gas emissions are from US economic factors)

I’ve always felt that a third party view was the most favorable to my values, that the two major parties were props for an overwhelming corporatocracy. Yet, some of the policies that the Democratic party hopes to enact are against the will of industry. Especially the most powerful industries, oil, coal and military. Are we seeing a break from industry masquerading as government? I highly doubt so, but I can be hopeful.

I’ve decided I do know this: the Democrats have political control of this nation and that they had better take advantage of it. If the Democrats fail over the next two years I will truly lose hope for the US. The Republicans had a shot and were found wanting. Policies of absolute fear and social conservatism has driven the GOP to near irrelevance. (Perhaps adopting a mainstream libertarian view would resurrect the elephant side of the political spectrum)

I hope that we take this opportunity to embrace reason over fear. Conversation instead of punditry. Acceptance instead of ‘small town values’. Let’s embrace all of America, instead of just the rural areas. Let’s rebuild our infrastructure.

But are things beyond repair? We’ll find out over the next few months as our next president lays out a plan for rebuilding America from nearly 30 years of waiting for “success” to trickle down. I’m cautiously optimistic right now. But seeing the photos of people around the world crying for joy at this moment has me feeling at least slightly better about our chances for the future.

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