31 October 2008

The Friday Top 5

My Top 5 Favorite Hallowe'en Costumes EVER
  1. Clown, age 5 - my mom did a great job on my makeup and I got to wear my dad's big sneakers, which provided major amusement to me and my friends.
  2. Zorro, age 18 - freshman year of college, and I had everything but the cape already on hand.
  3. Magenta, age 24 - my hair was longer and curly then, and with a little Manic Panic red and a thrift-store waitress uniform, I was ready to Time Warp.
  4. Zoot Suit Riot, age 28 - during my avid Lindy Hopper days, I had purchased an actual Zoot suit. Add a white t-shirt with the names of famous riots (Watts, Rodney King, Democractic National Convention 1968, etc.) written on it in Sharpie, and you have a nice pun costume. I thought it was hilarious. No one else seemed to get it.
  5. Trinity, age 33 - my good friend Amy, who is very fond of themed parties, chose "white rabbit" that year. There were plenty of Alice in Wonderland characters, plenty of bunnies (both plush and Playboy), and a few of us who went full-on Matrix. Still have the ankle length black leather duster.
(Pumpkins from the 1st annual Beaconfire Carve-off.)

How to Blog Like a Pro

Want to blog like the association pros? Join Lindy and Maddie for a HIGHLY INTERACTIVE workshop (better bring your laptop) in NW DC in just over a month and learn how to get your blog on.

More info - including how to register - at School of Social Fish.

30 October 2008

Dump the Performance Review!

Or just change it?

Acronym's weekly Quick Clicks pointed me to an interesting article in the Wall Street Journal about the sad state of performance reviews. The article's pretty good, and rather than summarizing for you, just go read it.

I'll wait....



Good stuff, right? OK, so the thing that struck me about this is that the performance review described sounds like another case of bad management. We all know that the top reason people voluntarily leave their jobs is bad management. Bad management can express itself in a variety of ways: the infamous "one person screwed up/took advantage of the organization so let me send out a cranky email to everyone setting up a Draconian new policy," the capricious boss who takes out bad moods on staff, the micro-manager, the boss who never, ever backs staff members in confrontations with volunteers or members, the boss who plays favorites, the boss who doesn't give enough direction or support, the boss who only knows how to give negative feedback, the narcissist, the boss who's terrified of making a bad decision and so makes none, the boss who's totally impulsive, etc. It seems like we can add the boss who uses performance reviews as an opportunity to bludgeon staff to that list.

I like the idea (if not the name "performance preview") Samuel Culbert proposes as a solution. Look, if someone has a behavior, attitude, or productivity problem, you don't wait until review time to address it. You address it right away! And if performance isn't a determinant of pay in your organization (i.e., everyone's getting a standard 3.7% raise or whatever), don't pretend like it is.

Why do reviews have to be like this? What if they were viewed, first and foremost, as an opportunity to formally recognize all the good work each staff member has done in the past year and thank them for it (not that you don't want to thank them along the way, but what if this were the time to pile up the loot, so to speak, and acknowledge it)?

What if reviews were used as a time to look back at the goals each person set for the year and assess what happened? Which ones were met? Exceeded? Which ones weren't met, and why? (Many times, there are very good reasons why goals weren't met - they were discovered partway through the year to be no longer relevant, other more pressing things that weren't anticipated came to the fore, some critical prerequisite wasn't met, they weren't realistic in the first place, they just got delayed/deferred, etc.)

What if, in talking about any behavior/attitude/productivity issues that need addressing, the focus was on coming up with a plan to address them together (staff person, manager, team, organization)?

What if staffers had a chance to tell managers what they need from the managers or from the organization to be successful? What if staffers had a chance to, without fear of repurcussions, offer positive and negative feedback about their managers? To their faces?

What if reviews focused on setting goals for the coming year, and what each player (staff, manager, team and organization) needs to do to make them happen?

What if salary was a minor part of the discussion? What if some of the rewards offered were non-monetary?

In other words, unlike the truly nightmare scenario Culbert describes, what if reviews were a positive, open, friendly, useful process, in which BOTH sides got to give and receive positive and negative feedback, and the focus was on working together to set and achieve good goals and address any obstacles that might get in the way?

So if your organization were to throw out how you review people and start from scratch, what would that look like? What really constitutes effective feedback at work, both positive and negative? What would your ideal performance assessment system be? How can people best be rewarded, particularly in a time when an economic downturn might allow for fewer financial rewards than the norm?

29 October 2008

What I'm Reading

Write Like You Talk

One of the toughest things about blogging is developing your voice. It's particularly difficult on a professionally-focused blog, where you need to still sound like you (it's that whole "authenticity is the new black" thing), but, well, maybe not sound TOTALLY like you (that's for things like football blogs, in which our heroine engages in a lot more swearing and smack talking).

Struggling with this issue yourself? Copyblogger has some great advice.

28 October 2008

Meeting Formats: Everything Old Is New Again?

Last week, I was invited to participate in an upcoming session at ASAE on "creating provocative and edgy learning topics and formats" for the 2009 AM. Aside from some momentary uncertainty about whether I'm really sufficiently creative, provocative, and edgy to be able to contribute in a meaningful way, I figured, what the hell, right?

I almost immediately stumbled onto this debate on Acronym about whether we're really ready for creative, provocative, and edgy meeting formats. Apparently, for many people, the answer is an emphatic, "NO!"

On the other hand, we just got back the evaluations from the September CAE Immersion Course. They were generally good (Go CAE Action Team! Y'all rock!), and, as I reminded all the domain presenters, when reading the comments, don't take any of them too much to heart - there's always someone who LURVES you and someone who HAAAATES you. Focus on the overarching themes. (Does everyone say you talk too fast? Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know I do - I'm Northeastern city girl. Y'all are just going to have to keep up! But I digress....) I'm sure you can guess where I'm going:

One of our most prominent overarching themes was the need for MORE INTERACTION.

Adult learning 101, dontcha know?

Interaction is good - interaction is bad. Expert talking heads are good - expert talking heads are bad. PowerPoint is...no, I can't even write that. PowerPoint is pretty much universally evil in my book.

So what's really going on here?

I quote from adult learning pioneer Malcolm Knowles:
Adults have accumulated a foundation of life experiences and knowledge that may include work-related activities, family responsibilities, and previous education. They need to connect learning to this knowledge/experience base. To help them do so, draw out participants' experience and knowledge which is relevant to the topic.
Which I think is the key. Interaction is good if expectations are properly set (i.e., make sure the session description includes "highly interactive" if that's what the session is going to be) and if interaction is relevant to the topic.

Look, if I'm going to a presentation by Larry Lessig on copyright and fair use, I don't really want to chat about my experiences on this topic - I want to listen to him (not least of which because he's a really good presenter). On the other hand, if I'm trying to help a room full of 100 freaked out association professionals learn how to think like ASAE wants them to think in order to pass the CAE certification exam (like the Chief Staff Executive of a large national association that always follows best practices, in case you were wondering), I better give them some time to practice what that feels like, by working through situations and scenarios that are representative of what might show up on the exam.

So if we threw out everything about conferences as we currently know them, what would your ideal conference look like? Get me your ideas by November 5, and I'll see what I can do to talk ASAE into making them happen.

27 October 2008

I don't just work for any old Web consulting firm...

I work for an AWARD-WINNING Web consulting firm.

I had NOTHING to do with any of these projects - they were all completed or at least well underway before I was hired - but I'm really proud of my colleagues, our clients, and the good work we do together.

Search Literacy: Get It!

Two recent interesting articles on the concept of "search literacy" aka knowing how to actually find the information you're looking for on the web:

The first, from search expert John Battelle, talks about the difficulty his grade-school aged daughter had using Google to get definitions of terms and asks why schools don't teach 21st century skills like search literacy. The print dictionary is going the way of the buggy whip, people.

The second, from Cyrus Farivar's Machinist blog on Salon.com, takes the concept of search literacy and extends it to the importance of knowing how to ask the right questions and evaluate information from a variety of sources, particularly for our political leaders. Most of the time, knowing how to ask the right question isn't half the battle, it's the WHOLE battle.

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24 October 2008

The Friday Top 5

Top 5 Great Movies I've Seen Recently:
  1. Meet the Fockers. The chemistry between Barbra Streisand and Dustin Hoffman is AMAZING!
  2. Hoop Dreams. I finally saw this - and read this fascinating article about what happened to William Gates and Arthur Agee after high school.
  3. Enron: the Smartest Guys in the Room. It still makes me mad, I'm still glad Jeff Skilling's in jail, and I still think Ken Lay faked his own death and is living in the Grand Caymans.
  4. Sicko. There's a special place in heaven - and my heart - for Michael Moore.
  5. You Don't Mess with the Zohan. I know it's a stupid movie and definitely not one of his best efforts, but I have a deep and abiding love for Adam Sandler's body of work.

Getting the Most Out of Your Marketing Efforts

New post to the BFWire. I interviewed two members of BF's online campaigns and marketing team about marketing audits. Not surprisingly, they had some solid advice. Go check it out!

Search Engine Marketing Secrets Revealed!

Really! Google's Chief Economist, Hal Varian, blogs about why your quality scores affect the rates you get for your search engine marketing (SEM) ad buys (and promises a later post on how quality scores are used in bidding).

23 October 2008

Always the Last to Know - Amazee

It's a SocNet for projects - and it's free!

Find collaborators to help your organization bring great ideas to life.

Use Actual Words Please

Those who know me personally know that I'm infamous for my tirades against "business English," aka "jargon." David Pogue of the NY Times agrees. Check out Pogue's Anti-Jargon Dictionary. My favorite? Functionality. Preach, brother!

22 October 2008

What I'm Reading

20 October 2008

Jared Make Good Point

You read.

As someone who comes from a long line of "not a morning person" people (true story: Thanksgiving 2002 my folks, spouse and I are visiting/staying with my brother and SIL. I wake up on Friday at 9:30 am and am the first person up by OVER AN HOUR), I would LOVE to dramatically change my work day.

BF is technically open to flex hours, but it is still the case that we're all mostly here from around 9-9:30 to around 5:30-6, M-F. A few weeks ago, I had a very busy beginning of the week and knocked off early Friday (still putting in over 40 hours for the week) and got called out for it. I was a bit annoyed. (Also, I'm not used to watching the clock or having my clock watched, so I'm still adjusting to that, too.)

And it made me think of something that occurred to me this past spring, as I was standing in the interminable line at Behnke's on a Saturday in April, cursing my luck and noting that, at 2 pm on a Tuesday, the place is probably dead (even in April).

What would the world look like if we each got to put in our 40 hours whenever in the week made the most sense for us?

I realize there are some potential logisitical problems here. Should I really be allowed to mainline Provigil, put in my 40 hours straight, starting Monday at 8 am and finishing up in the wee hours of Wednesday morning, and then be off the rest of the week? What if I'm REALLY a night person (or dating a bartender or a nurse) and want to work 11 pm to 7 am? Won't that make it hard to schedule client meetings or check in on projects face to face with my colleagues?

On the other hand, why is life still set up like it was in the era when the Man in the Grey Flannel Suit had a Feminine Mystique spouse to take care of all the errands and chores during the week for him when we're ALL working now, which means you can't get a parking space at the Safeway on Saturday at 11 am for love or money?

And why shouldn't my avid gardener colleague take off a sunny Wednesday, if it's going to rain all weekend? Why shouldn't my grad student colleague rearrange her schedule to take some weekday classes and work some evenings or weekends? Why are we still pretending that our schedules and responsibilities haven't changed since the 1950s?

17 October 2008

The Friday Top 5

Top 5 Things That Are Great About Tonight's YAPpy Hour
  1. Talking CAE-shop face to face.
  2. Opportunity to show off/use my newly renovated kitchen.
  3. My infamous frozen margaritas.
  4. Elizabeth Engel Seal of Approval iPod Disco Mix (to be followed up by the equally awesome iPod 80s Mix).
  5. Seeing the incriminating photos on Facebook the next morning.
If you don't have plans tonight, you do now. Come join us!

16 October 2008

Tracking Social Entrepreneurs through PMDS

The Clinton Global Initiative and the Acumen Fund have committed to create a Portfolio Data Management System (PDMS), which is designed to help facilitate the flow of capital to social entrepreneurs. How cool is that?

Business Week has some more information and an interesting video they unfortunately won't let me embed.

15 October 2008

Blog Action Day 2008: Poverty in DC

Signing up for 2008 Blog Action Day got me thinking about being tagged in the Changeblogging meme and how poverty and lack of political representation might relate to each other.

When I was in grad school, I had the opportunity to read John Gaventa's Power and Powerlessness, a study of rural Appalachian mining communities, their mistreatement at the hands of the coal mining companies, and the general unwillingness of the US and state governments to step in and do anything, "anything" even including enforcing laws on the books not in the mining companies' interests.

Gaventa looks at three types of power relationships: those that affect bargaining, those that affect the "rules of the game," and those that affect the social construction of meaning. Unsurprisingly, those who lack power (money, political influence, representation) come up short on all three (additional information about the book available from publisher University of Illinois Press), thus maintaining a status quo that benefits the powerful minority at the expense of the powerless majority.

As a resident of the "taxation without representation" District of Columbia, these issues are frequently on my mind. DC is two cities: a wealthy, professional, largely white city of people whose power relationships don't depend on local representation, either because they are able to circumvent the need for federal legislative representation through money and access or because they are not "officially" DC residents and so have representation through their "home" location; and a poor, under- or unemployed, largely non-white city of people who are largely ignored by the power barons of the federal government who are their neighbors (and yes, they are neighbors - DC isn't a very geographically big place).

The power relationships reinforced by the lack of money, access, education, etc. of large parts of the resident population stack the deck against those residents: we lack the leverage to take a strong position in negotiations, the "rules of the game" have been set by others in ways that are not in our favor, and social meaning is constructed by those who control the public space.

So should we all just give up and resign ourselves to being the laboratory for every idiotic idea some representative from Back of Beyond Town, Midwest State wants to foist on us, unable to decide our own laws on a host of items that our federal structure generally relegates to state or local control?

Hell, no, and I'll tell you why: the power of (you guessed it) social media. A Google search of "DC Voting Rights" turns up over 300,000 entries. The Internet, and more specifically, citizen created media, have allowed a variety of organizations from the District government to formal DC Vote groups to Common Cause and the League of Women Voters to local bloggers to find each other and organize around a variety of events and actions designed to raise awareness and end this injustice.

This, I think, points out the larger importance of a non-commericalized Internet. Sure, the Web provides a voice to plenty of wingnut groups, but it also provides one of the few large-scale organizing forums accessible to groups not part of the existing power structure of the US.

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What I'm Reading

Cool Upcoming Events

DMAW's 6th Annual Association Day - THIS Thursday, October 16, at the Capitol Hilton on 16th Street NW. Most of the big association social media players will be there - Greg Fine, Ben Martin, Maddie Grant, Lindy Dreyer, Andy Steggles, Kevin Whorton, Scott Oser, Frances Reimers, and others. I can't go, but YOU still can.

Five Strategies for Capitalizing on Uncertainty - Wednesday, October 29. Jeff De Cagna will be hosting a FREE conference call briefing for association execs worried about the effects of the recent economic upheavals on their organizations. Join Jeff as he lays out strategies for your organization to prepare for the future during a troubled present.

14 October 2008

Blog Action Day 2008: Poverty

Blog Action Day 2008 Poverty from Blog Action Day on Vimeo.

I'm participating - are you?

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MUSE Revisited: A Hot Site at a Cool Price

Another post in my irregular but continuing series re-posting my articles from RSM McGladrey's MUSE enewsletter....

In the fall of 2007, I had the opportunity to interview Mukul Chopra, National Association of Children’s Hospitals and Related Institutions (NACHRI), and Mark Rogers, American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance (AAHPERD) about their innovative plan for creating hot sites without spending a fortune.

With growing concerns about business continuity, many not-for-profit organizations are investing in hot sites. According to Wikipedia, a hot site is
“…a duplicate of the original site of the business, with full computer systems as well as near-complete backups of user data. Following a disaster, the hot site exists so that the business can relocate with minimal losses to normal operations. Ideally, a hot site will be up and running within a matter of hours. This type of backup site is the most expensive to operate. Hot sites are popular with stock exchanges and other financial institutions who may need to evacuate due to potential bomb threats and must resume normal operations as soon as possible.”
In the summer of 2007, NACHRI retained the RSM McGladrey not-for-profit consulting team to perform an information technology assessment. As we were reviewing their network map and documentation, we noticed something a little unusual: information about a hot site reciprocal agreement with AAHPERD. I interviewed Mark Rogers, Director of Information Systems at AAHPERD, and Mukul Chopra, Director - Information Technology at NACHRI, about this agreement after the engagement concluded.

Mark Rogers at AAHPERD posted the idea of doing a rack swap to the ASAE & the Center for Association Leadership's Technology Listserv in the spring of 2005. “AAHPERD was becoming increasingly reliant on our technology, and I just didn’t have a solid business continuity plan for my servers,” noted Rogers.

“I had been thinking about the same thing, because the cost of setting up a hot site with a commercial provider was just astronomical, so I contacted Mark right away,” said Chopra.

“The basic concept is pretty simple, but there are a lot of details to be worked out in implementation. The key question you have to answer is, ‘Do we have the same vision for how the pieces will fit together?’ Fortunately, for AAHPERD and NACHRI, the answer was yes,” remarked Rogers.

Getting Started
Both men agreed that the toughest part of setting this all up, other than making sure the actual technology functions the way it’s supposed to, was getting senior management on board. Even though the two organizations are similar in size, infrastructure, and deployed applications, “it took patience and lots of discussions on both sides to help everyone get comfortable with what we were trying to accomplish,” remarked Chopra. “One of the first things we agreed on was that, at each stage, we would only move forward if the benefits were clear for both organizations. So far, they have been.”

Rogers added, “You have to be careful to be very clear about your goals and objectives. You have think about where things can go wrong and test, test, test. And you have to do site visits. Calls, discussions, and ideas can get you started, but you need to see the physical space.”

Both IT Directors had initially been focused on creating a disaster recovery plan for their servers, but over time, the relationship has expanded to encompass true business continuity. What started as a swap of 14 units of rack space that could be filled with servers loaded up with all the latest patches has turned into a secure LAN with VPN between the locations and includes DNS, DHCP, domain control, Active Directory replication, terminal services, a SharePoint site, virtual directories – even an agreement to provide a limited amount of physical office space complete with phones, fax, and copier access. “It’s not intended to be a complete relocation facility. Neither organization has the space for that. We provide each other with space to ‘tide you over’ on mission critical functions until something more permanent can be arranged. It’s like an insurance policy,” explained Chopra.

Why don’t more organizations do this?
“Historically, hot reciprocal sites are the least preferred of the various hot/warm/cold/reciprocal site options because it can be tough to enforce a stringent SLA [Service Level Agreement]. Sure, that’s a problem for a Fortune 500 company with a large BCP budget, but associations have to be more cost-conscious, which makes this a much more feasible option,” explained Chopra.

Do they have any tips for other organizations that might be looking to imitate them?
Both Chopra and Rogers agreed that the single most important element of a successful reciprocal arrangement is trust. Although the right geographical distance, and organization that’s similar in size, deployment, infrastructure, technology, applications, are helpful, this cannot be done without identifying a partner organization that has similar values, standards, and vision – all things that support a trust relationship.

Rogers pointed out that “Comfort level with your partner organization is key. When you have to activate your BCP for real, you’re not going to be operating under normal conditions. The situation could be bad, and your staff could be very distracted and upset when the plan is activated. The pieces need to be in place ahead of time, and it needs to be simple to run.”

Rogers noted a few additional items. “It’s easier to ‘sell’ to your senior management if you have a clear exit strategy in case it doesn’t work. If this arrangement stops meeting the needs of either of our organizations, we can just come collect our servers. I also recommend that you start small and build out additional capabilities in later phases of the project. Score some successes up front before you try to get too complex. And remember that this is a living system that has to be monitored, tested, and maintained.”

Final Thoughts
Both men agreed that the best surprise in the process has been the friendship that’s sprung up between them, which has provided a valuable opportunity to network, share ideas, and act as sounding boards for each other.

And finally, “People need to understand the difference between disaster recovery and business continuity and be clear about which one they’re trying to accomplish,” remarked Chopra. “And remember that your goal is something that works, not necessarily the perfect BCP solution. Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.”

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Always the Last to Know - Google Alerts by RSS

Got Google Alerts? Add 'em to your RSS feed.

11 October 2008

The Friday Top 5

(1 day late)

Top 5 Reasons I Didn't Post This Until Saturday:
  1. Only had one cup of coffee Friday morning - caffeine deficiency rendered me temporarily unable to blog.
  2. Wasted too much time on Friday trying to convince Sugar CRM to cough up my damn data.
  3. Beaconfire Square Table pizza put me in a carb coma.
  4. It's all John McCain's fault.
  5. 7 pm rolled around, I was still at the office, and I had a choice to make: write this post or go home and have a delicious cocktail. You would've made the same call.

10 October 2008

Always the Last to Know - Addictomatic

How cool is this?

Shout out to Mads for the link.

Increasing User Response Rates = Increasing User Fatigue?

A recent post on Donor Power Blog about segmenting your constituents by propensity to act rather than more traditional demographics (age, location, income, etc.), led to a rather interesting exchange on the NTEN Discuss listserv.

The basic point came down to the law of diminishing returns. "You need to find the individual elasticity of email."

Sure, we want to communicate with our members. And we know that at least half the time they don't read half of what we send them. So the temptation is to send again...and again...and again. And that doesn't even account for the fact that the membership department sent a renewal reminder this morning, and two hours later, the meetings department sent an early bird promotion for the upcoming conference, after which the call for volunteers went out, and then the publications department emailed everyone about the new electronic publications catalogue at the end of the day.

And we wonder why people stop paying attention.

The relationship to social media should be obvious. OK, I know, web 2.0 isn't going to fix everything. It's not going to cure cancer or refill my depleted retirement account. But it can help you address email fatigue. Put your information out in RSS friendly formats, categorize it correctly, and your target audiences will segment themselves according to their own preferences without any additional effort on your part. And they'll get the exact information they want in their own format and on their own schedule. How sweet is that?

09 October 2008

Turns out, Big Brother tactics are NOT such a good idea

Information about people's attitudes about online privacy, thanks to the Consumers Union
According to the [Consumer's Union] poll, 82 percent of consumers are concerned about their credit card numbers being stolen online, while 72 percent are concerned that their online behaviors were being tracked and profiled by companies.

Although 68 percent of consumers have provided personal information in order to access a website, 53 percent are uncomfortable with internet companies using their email content or browsing history to send relevant ads, and 54 percent are uncomfortable with third parties collecting information about their online behavior.
What information are you collecting about your members and other constituents? How are you using it? How are you safeguarding it? Do they know?

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08 October 2008

Digital Citizen 2008

Earlier this week, I had the opportunity to attend ForeSee Results' Digital Citizen 2008 Summit.

(ForeSee Results does customer satisfaction research based on the American Customer Satisfaction Index or ACSI. The summit was mostly civil servants from various federal Departments of. I was there because Beaconfire's been chatting with ForeSee about the possibility of an informal relationship around relating good web design and development to scientific customer satisfaction studies.)

I was only able to attend the morning session due to client meetings in the afternoon. One was pretty sales-oriented. One was a fun case study about the National Park Service web site (which I particularly enjoyed because the National Parks Conservation Association is a BF client).

But the best session I was able to attend was Eric Peterson's opening keynote. Aside from being a really engaging speaker, Eric is also pretty much THE guru of the art and science of web analytics (and do follow the link to his site, because he offers a ton of free resources there).

I really can't even do justice to his presentation, but I'll try. He opened with the concept that satisfaction is a function of expectations. "Well, duh," you're probably thinking, but how many times do we disappoint our members or other constituents not because what we're offering is bad, but because they expected something different. Under promise and over deliver is an idea that bears repeating.

Peterson also immediately disabused us of the notion that occasionally running a report out of Google Analytics is good, or even helpful. While the tools themselves have improved in the past 15 years, the major advances have been made in taking the data and turning it into knowledge you can act on.

Peterson pointed out that he sees the same three mistakes all the time:
  • An investment gap - because even free tools aren't free.
  • A staffing gap - because data without interpretation and application is just a big pile of numbers.
  • A process gap - because unless you're willing to change your business processes based on what you learn, you'll never see a return on your investment.
These parallel the three factors that have to be in order to be effective: technology, people, and process. And, as you might guess, the last one is the hard one.

Peterson went on to describe an analysis ecosystem, made up of analytics tools, personalization, multivariate testing, and the voice/experience of the customer. Rather than trying to explain the full concept here, I'll point out that he's written a white paper that's available for FREE download from ForeSee Results and that lays out how all these factors interact to provide both quantitative and qualitative data to give organizations a complete picture of how to improve their customers' experiences with them.

And finally, if this topic really interests you, be sure to check out the next Web Analytics Wednesday, happening Wednesday, October 22 in Alexandria. It starts at 6 pm and includes snacks and drinks.

Edited Friday, October 10 at 9:48 am to add: The slides of all the presentations are now available for free download.

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What I'm Reading

  • Bad news about the economy.
  • Recaps of last night's POTUS town hall debate (way to combat that cranky old white guy image, there, McCain).
  • Eric Peterson's white papers on web analytics (although the math is mostly going over my head).
  • Fight Club. It's a lot like the movie (A LOT - actually, it's basically a screen play with a 4 color cover), but its dark world view suits me at the moment.
  • Everyone's FB status updates. Such a fun way to waste time!

Shout Out to BF!

Thanks to Mission to Learn for the shout-out about the "serious game" Beaconfire created with ForgeFX for our mutual client, Heifer International. ForgeFX is looking for feedback on the beta version, so if you're a gamer, check it out and let them know what you think!

07 October 2008

Association TRENDS All-Media Contest Opens

It's open to any association, nonprofit, or member of the nonprofit vendor community and it's open to ALL types of media and communications.

Deadline is Friday, October 31.

Get the full rules & regs or start your entry!

Good luck!

06 October 2008

Using Pixels for Your Web Analytics?

Maybe not any more. Heather Green reports, Business Week's Blogspotting:
I spoke with Tim Vanderhook, the CEO of behavioral targeting service Specific Media, who is concerned about Microsoft and Google’s new browsers. He argues that people using the browsers are provided with a way to block third party cookies and pixels, effectively blocking any kind of outside advertising based on tracking and analytics services.
So IE8 and Chrome just might prevent you from using anything but Google Analytics effectively. Nice.

Time to get to work on some new tracking tricks, web gear heads!

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ISO Associations Using Web 2.0 for Hiring

I had the chance to have lunch with a member of the Finance & Business Operations Symposium program committee last week, and she mentioned that Web 2.0 continues to be a hot topic. She indicated that the program committee would be particularly interested in seeing proposals on associations using social media successfully for recruitment of staff. I'm trying to put together a panel that would include at least one association that's doing this, at least one attorney to talk about legal ramifications of hiring using social media, and me as moderator.

If your organization is using web 2.0 successfully to recruit new staff members and you'd be interested in participating in a panel at FBOS May 14-15, 2009, drop me an email at ewengel at yahoo dot com.


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03 October 2008

The Friday Top 5

Not that it's all rainbows and puppies, believe me, but the Top 5 Things That Are Great about Working at Beaconfire:
  1. Our clients do great stuff. I never have to worry about being on a contract where I secretly want the client to fail at their mission.
  2. Constant exposure to the latest technology. Gotta love a web firm!
  3. My coworkers are a smart bunch.
  4. They feed us all the time. ALL the time.
  5. We have fun together.
Wish you could work here, too? Maybe you can - we're recruiting, so check out our open positions and apply.

02 October 2008

Always the Last to Know - Google Knol

Google Knol is attempting to compete with Wikipedia - only there's no anonymous authoring or editing.

It's still in beta - anyone out there using it? Do you think it can really take on Wikipedia? How long will it take before it's a real competitor.

Google Like It's 2001

More 10th birthday celebrations: take a look back at Google in January 2001.

01 October 2008

What I'm Reading

  • Everything negative I can find about Sarah Palin (which is pretty much everything). It's like a train wreck, and I can't seem to look away, as she staggers from disastrous public statement to disastrous public statement.
  • "Get to vs. Have to" on Seth Godin's blog. This is the world I'd like to be living in. Unfortunately, I spend far more of my time on process than I'd like to and than I think is necessary. Sigh. Rant for another day.
  • Productivity explained in 30 seconds. I don't always keep up with Jared's blog, but I loved this post. Know someone who always seems to get more done than other people? I'll bet cash money this post explains how they do it.
  • All the interesting stuff in the September issue of Associations Now on telecommuting and other forms of alternative staffing. I've been a fan for years, and have worked with employers who've ranged in support of the practice, but I think, particularly as sources of energy become more scarce and expensive, as commuting takes longer and longer, and as more of us are struggling harder and harder to balance work and life, more of them are going to have to get on board.
  • In transition to my next book, and thinking of finally reading Fight Club. Anybody read it? Thumbs up or down?

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