Monday, December 27, 2010

He Followed Me!! Why it Matters.

Hi all, 3AM here and I have to be up again at 5 to go catch my plane to TX. So hopefully I can say this quick and  pop back to bed.

Chris Brogan followed me back this week, and I am still celebrating. Early in my experience of this whole crazy twitter thing, I purchased a book by Chris & co-author Julian Smith, called Trust Agents. I downloaded it to my Nook and read it, just as I was getting started with Twitter and I was still in first stages of the learning curve, feeling quite lonely and isolated. The book promised that if I began to engage in a genuine way, to help others, & to create content, that my experience of social media would improve dramatically. It asked me to become a "trust agent" myself.

Now I KNOW Chris follows more than 100,000 people- someone joked to me today that they believe he follows back anyone who is "clearly not a bot." So it's not like I expect our level of connection to go up significantly by this act. But it was still an emotional, personal, and symbolic victory for me. This was a milestone moment and I wasn't shy about telling him (via two carefully NOT AUTOMATIC direct messages) and neither was I afraid to celebrate publicly with my Twitter friends. Tease me as they might, (some justification- I *am* a fangirl) there are good reasons why I celebrate Chris.

Here are some:

1) In the book, Chris & Julien suggest that the newbie go to twitter, create an account, and type in a status update that says "reading trust agents." When I did this, Chris replied to my @ with a "thank you." He has 167,000 followers, but clearly he either watches or pays someone to watch for him. Either way, he was one of the first people EVER to message me or interact with me directly, and I remember it made an impression.

2) Chris is the reason I participated in my first ever "chat," because he promoted it and I was curious. The experience was frenetic and intense, and it prepared me for understanding what I had stumbled upon later when I bumped into the #usguys for the first time.

3) When I was watching another chat recently, people began praising Chris & his book. When I teasingly told him they were talking about him and invited him via an @ message to stop by #cmgrchat  not only did he drop in, he dropped in to PASS the praise ON to his co-author, Julien. He also said hello to me- by name. In front of a lot of people. This made me feel great, and showed that he goes with the flow, pays attention to what's happening, gives credit to others, and knows how to treat fangirls ;)

and finally

4) I kept teasing him with opportuities to become a follower, and he finally followed me back right after Christmas. When I DMd him, he ALSO took the time to DM me back and thank me for connecting. Very, very few people have ever done this. This guy is the real deal.

As a result, Chris has a very devoted fan in me. I consider him to be a role model, and hope to keep following in his footsteps on this strange and fantastical journey.

A couple of other milestone moments this week: I also hit 500 followers around Christmas, and another mentor & role model, Dave Peck, also followed me back this week. Feeling very good about Twitter these days.

Love from your favorite insomniac, Jackie

Friday, December 24, 2010

Open Letter to Chase & Josepf and ...Heck I decided to let you all read it ok

Hi Chase & Josepf & Jon & Sam & rest of you,

I am in an odd space so thought I would include you all instead of having so many private conversations. I'm really NOT good with email so bear with me (I do email as a career but this is a different kind.)

OK. I joined the channel on Dec 1. I stumbled in by accident. I'm not a social media expert nor even trying to pretend to be one. Tribe welcomed me in with open arms. I am a jumper so I went with it. In short order I was having so much fun playing around & socializing with people that I was totally. in. love. People just walked right in to my life and the whole thing took my breath away. Sounds exaggerated, but I'm 100% kind of gal. If I'm in something, it's fanatical love & loyalty all the way.,

So then the other night something happened and I got my feelings hurt. I think you were all there, maybe not Jon. But he walked onto the scene while I was still crying. I am easy to hurt, but I would usually get over it just as fast left to my own devices. 

Enter Josepf and Chase. you guys clearly had some kind of disagreement to do with Hashable and it spiled over onto me. Now I dearly love Josepf after a few weeks of tweeting & stuff, and barely know Chase, let's be honest. Our schedules are different and so are our temperaments. I'm hyper and he's all cool. So while still angry and upset, I went and talked to my big J and my oldest twitter friend Jon and same night I went and made up #ifthen island. I burned my "doghouse" list and killed off @usguyssanta and deleted the "marry me" list, and wrote #usguys out of my profile. Yeah, I am an impulsive kind of Aries gal. 

So I did this because I love Josepf, BUT I quickly found I love the #bigtribe even more. CRAP. So then I tried to turn the #ifthen into a kinder, gentler kind of social-club spinoff group starting yesterday and tonight. I threw a virtual party tonight, and we rocked the house. It was so much fun I got twitterjailed. It was a nice thing and I want to do it again.

That's where I've been. So now I go and have a heart-to-heart with Chase. And more of, CRAP, I don't want to have to choose between Josepf+#ifthen parties and Chase+#usguys tribe. So I am in quite a double-bind here and my thought is, screw it, I'm throwing in the towel because I can't win this one. If I split the tribe and pull people over to play on my island without the sanction of the core #usguys members, I'm doing something that doesn't feel right. If I go back to the big tribe, I feel like I'm betraying Josepf and I also haven't been feeling at all welcome back on the channel as my usual jokester self. I left and the tribe seemed to go on just fine without me. Sucks.

The whole hashable thing is a total wash for me. I don't care what stats I have or how much hashcred. I just liked being creative with fellow tribe friends and the bonds that formed around coffee and beer jokes. (IRL I don't drink either coffee or beer v often, LOL, I get hot chocolate at Starbucks people ;)

So here's what I think. I'm shutting down the island for now at least until after the vacation. Easy to open, Easy to close. Done. If Josepf want to try and carry it on, he can. But I don't have the heart to do it anymore.

I'm going back to the bigtribe starting now. And I am going back to being my usual, high-volume, self-twitterjailing, social media addict with a penchant for a fast joke and a smart-aleck reply. And if anybody critiques me for it, I'll trust my #usguys close pals to give them the what-for. I should have before. Was caught off guard, having nothing but goodness from you all for weeks straight.

Finally, if we want to do a spinoff group from #usguys I want it official. After chatting with Chase, I believe I agree that the founding 5+ core team have a right to input, even if the tribe has now moved beyond control of so few people. Maybe it's time for something democratic- put things to the whole active and let them decide. But I don't want to be in charge cuz I suck at it. You guys decide what you are doing and I'll follow.

Josepf & Chase. Kiss and make up, dammit. If you go your separate ways you will utterly break my heart. You are both talented and amazing people. Find a common ground and get on it. Pronto. Or.. or.. I won't speak to either of you. No Jackie love 4 either of you till you make the tribe whole.

Finally, an appeal. Please, all of you, refrain from making me cry. I didn't know you could do it until you did. So stop it already. 



Saturday, December 18, 2010

Rambles in Wonderland

Well, I went and tipped off the #usguys tribe that I'd attempt a post tonight. Saturday and the kids are sleeping, hubby content in own world of computer games, couple of glasses of wine, rain on my windows. Peaceful.

There's just no real way to follow up the last post regarding the #usguys discovery. Sorry to disappoint, guys, but not gonna try. It's brewing, but some things are so far beyond 140 that they are beyond words. So instead I will use the usual tactic of rambling about other things until whatever I need to say gets out. I've been on twitter so heavily this week that it feels utterly foreign to be able to use full sentences again. Adjustment period needed. 

First, a sad story that has colored my week strongly. A young lady I know lost her newborn baby this week suddenly and tragically. I still have not had any details back, as my own family has had the flu, which kept us away from my husband's family. We learned about it from a call with his parents the other night. This tragedy was to a family of neighbors and longtime friends across the street from my in-laws, who live in the same town as us, close by. The lady in question is about my age and has other children, two of them roughly the same ages as my own. Her younger brother was my husband's childhood best friend, so although I was only slightly acquainted with the family I am just close enough to feel it pretty badly, and just far enough away to be utterly helpless do do anything to help. Awful, awful feeling. It just hit me pretty hard because my own kids are still babies themselves, really, and it's just one of those scary reminders life hands me sometimes, that says "you are not in control, you cannot protect the ones you love, you cannot predict what will happen, you are very small indeed, in the scheme of things." Maddening.

So that night in my first upset, I had a choice of places and people to reach out to. Of course, Matt (my husband) got the tears and the hugging and was my first and only real shoulder to cry on. But oddly, my next move was to drop a line right into the #usguys stream. A few minutes later, two different twitter "friends" were offering sympathy & friendship. I then spent a largely sleepless night. My two year old baby girl, Minnie, was also sick, and had thrown up just before bed, so I had her in bed with me and she was keeping me awake with her restless tossing. 2AM found me tweeting again. More warmth. 5AM, more tweets.

This was strange. Normally I would reach out to my "real" friends. Why didn't I call up my best friend in the world? She would probably have been awake. Why not turn to Facebook, where 99% of my connections are people from my "real life"? Why turn to twitter, which is a motley collection of strangers, many of whom have ulterior motives and hidden, or not-so-hidden, agendas? So on reflection, I do think it was a little odd. Online relationships have a strange magnetism.

I met one of my first boyfriends on the web, back in 1997. I nearly married a second boyfriend, in 1999, that I also met on the web. Neither of those relationships worked well in the end, but they had the same kind of intensity that is happening with my twitter experience.

My husband and I, on the other hand, met in person in college. He was seated at a table in the cafeteria with a collection of my friends. I was handing round party invitations to my birthday party. I handed him one, and he read it carefully. A moment later, he tapped me on the shoulder. "Um... Excuse me? I don't know you." he said. I just laughed and said, "I know!" and he was like,"Am I really invited?" and I said something along the lines of, "Dude, you're sitting with my friends, you are going to become my friend soon anyway, so why not?" That was the beginning of a relationship, too. So I guess all things begin with strangers, in some way.

Even so, the whole emotional tone of this week has been utterly strange. I am an alien wandering in an alien landscape. I can't tell you how many times this week someone has said, "Oh, yes, twitter. I don't see the point." I just look at them, and there Are. No. Words.

What can I say? I don't understand it, either.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

@jackinessity, @Twitter & #UsGuys: A Love Story

I’ve tried a couple of times this week to write something about this, but words have been failing me. As the picture indicates, today I am beginning to be sick with symptoms of the flu and am even less lucid than usual, but I am determined to leave this page open until this post is done.

A bit of backstory first, as I know when I share this it will be the first visit for many. I work in Silicon Valley, CA and am in the semiconductor industry. My company had a layoff in October of this year, and I was quite shaken by it, even though I kept my job. For one thing, my husband takes care of our young children as a stay-home Dad (by choice), so I am the breadwinner of the family. With our financial stability at stake, I decided to hunt for other work just in case.

In this awakening and subsequent job hunt, I began interacting with a few people using my previously dormant Twitter account. 

It started with in Palo Alto. I applied for a position, and as part of their application process, I was required to find the hiring manager and other employees in social media, wherever they might be, and to get to know them. 

 So, that got me started, and then I also followed people at other companies I was interested in working for. I followed people that I had interviewed with or spoken with about my job hunt. Then, I started looking at their “following” lists, and followed people who looked interesting or worked at local startup companies that also might be hiring. I was mostly listening, but had a few significant interactions that piqued my interest in the medium even more.

 I have been a heavy Livejournal user in the past, and switched over to using Facebook as my folks migrated over. But with those tools, I used social media as a tool to reach out to people I already knew. This Twitter thing was different. Most of the people I was listening to were total strangers.

At first I was lost in the “noise” of Twitter. Gradually, something gently shifted. I found out that I could talk to someone much more “important” than myself, and that if I was clever enough in my “tweet,” that they might say something back. I began to understand the conventions of retweeting. People thanked me for my retweets, and thus I learned that to RT was a compliment.

Through this gentle, slow acclimation, I found my first handful of twitter “friends.” These were people who I could talk directly at using their @username, and reliably count on a response. We began joking together, holding leisurely, day-spanning conversations back and forth in response to trending topics and news, or sharing useful and relevant blog posts.

I also experienced and participated in several “viral” twitter events, like the #iamspartacus #twitterjoketrial,  or @nerdyappleblossom’s blog post about her son’s Halloween costume.

I downloaded and read @chrisbrogan’s book, Trust Agents, and participated in my first ever chat, #mmchat. Basically, I got comfortable in Twitter and began to sense just how extraordinary the medium could be.

This is getting much lengthier than I intended, so let’s fast forward to a couple of weeks ago. I was relaxing in my main “stream,” as at that time I didn’t have any other. One of the people I was following posted an article that interested me, about getting things done. At the end of his tweet was the #usguys hashtag. Now, by this time I habitually made up joke hashtags, so I thought this was just an off-the-cuff invention.

I gently chided the user, @IanMRountree, thinking that he was underrating women in only directing his useful article to what I presumed was a masculine audience. He cheerfully replied to include #usgirls, and that could very well have been the end of the story. But something made me click on the hashtag, and then it dawned on me that this was not just a throwaway, but linked up a whole group of people. I’m sorry to say that my first act was to scold them for the #usguys handle! (Little did I know.)

 So, needless to say if you are reading this coming from the #usguys stream, I was hit immediately with an enthusiastic #ringthetribalbell from @REALChaseAdams. 

 The next day I had at least 10 new “followers.” Not only that, but people were talking to me, people I had never talked to before. This got my attention, as it had NEVER happened before to me on twitter. (I was always trying to get someone ELSE to talk to me, before.) I was thinking, who are these people??  Soon afterward, I found Chase’s #usguys explanation page, and things started to make more sense.  

What can I say? I joined the tribe. More people talked to me. I made more friends. Some of my existing twitter friends joined the tribe. The next thing I know, I was offering to meet people in person, in San Francisco. Now I’ve organized at least four meetups, adventures yet to come.

#iamsohooked #whatisthis #whatsnext


Love, Jackie AKA @jackinessity

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Upside Down

Things have veered strangely again. I am just holding on, trying to keep up. This past week I stumbled into a chat channel in twitter called #usguys. It's a fast moving, high energy adventure in Social Media.

My real job at work is unpleasant right now. My immediate supervisor has quit, leaving a hole in our sales team, and they got rid of my couterpoint on the tactical marketing team, leaving me in the full glare of displeasure of the tactical marketing director, who I don't interface with very well.

I can't keep up there, either. Today I came home very sick with a random fever. On the other hand, I'm still employed when I kind of didn't expect to be, given all that's been going on. All of my job prospects have fallen through, so I guess I just have to start over again from the beginning.

Christmas is coming. I just have to keep turning the pages for now.