Crossing the Social Networking Chasm – free web seminar Thursday, December 2

I’ll be giving a free one-hour web seminar entitled Crossing the Social Networking Chasm this Thursday, December 2, at 9am Pacific, 12pm Eastern.

Here’s an overview of what will be covered:

Seminar Overview
It’s all over the tech industry headlines: $10 million of new funding for LinkedIn, a new social networking service from Lycos, Buy.com’s acquisition of Metails.com, and vague announcements from eBay, Amazon, Microsoft, and more. Far from being another bubble, it’s clear that social networking is a phenomenon that is rapidly becoming an integral part of mainstream usage of the Web. This is being driven by its integration into other applications and by its demonstrated usefulness for accelerating business when professionals use it to identify and build business relationships.

While we’re just scratching the surface of the potential of these new tools, the spread of their use outside of the tech industry and into the business mainstream has made the benefits real and immediate. People right now are using these tools to develop hundreds of thousands of dollars of business, to find employees, employers, and strategic partners, to do real-time market research, and more.

You will learn:

  • What’s working for the people who are successfully generating business in online social networks

  • The importance of being an early adopter of social networking technology
  • 10 action steps to start leveraging online social networks today
  • How to maximize your visibility with minimal effort

For a bit more of a teaser on the content, see Crossing the Social Networking Chasm at FastCompany.com.

The event is free, but registration is required.

Can the blogosphere find a kidney donor?

Can you get a kidney from the blogosphere – or from Craigslist?

This past Sunday in Manhattan, I met Debbie D. at TheLunchClub.net’s Q&A with Craig Newmark. Craig Newmark is the founder of Craigslist. For more background on Craigslist, see the profile of craigslist in our Social Network Site Guide.

Debbie is now trying to find a kidney for her brother Neil on Craigslist. Neil is 41, in good health, a non-smoker and non-drug-user. He’s married and has an 8-year-old girl and a 4-year-old boy. In early 2004, on a regular annual checkup, his doctor said, “The tests say you’re in renal failure. How could that be?”

Picture of Neil, who is now seeking a kidney, and his wife.

After more tests, it turned out that Neil had a rare blood cancer, and one of the symptoms is renal failure. Neil has had to quit his job as a mortgage broker, and for the past 10 months, he has been undergoing chemotherapy and dialysis simultaneously. By coincidence, he has the same doctor who has been working with basketball player Alonzo Mourning, who recently received a kidney transplant.

The doctors have advised him that unless he gets a new kidney, he will need dialysis for the rest of his life. Essentially, this means that 3 days a week, 4 hours a day, he has to be hooked up to a machine which functions as his kidney.

Neil and his family started desperately seeking a kidney. After a few fruitless months, Debbie had an idea: why not post on Craigslist? In two years, she had already used Craigslist to buy and sell things, to find some short-term jobs, “to meet some very psychotic men”, and even to find a puppy for her other brother.

Last year, she even responded to an ad from the TV show, “Livin’ it up with Ali and Jack”, which was seeking a “very 70s-style room” to redo. Debbie suggested that the TV show redo her brother’s old bedroom, which was an exemplar of tacky 70s fashion. “Livin’ it up with Ali and Jack” came in for a day and a half and completely redid the room—while filming Debbie and Neil wearing afros and disco dancing.

So, why not use Craigslist to find a kidney?

Debbie posted an ad under the “General” category in 10 major U.S. cities. The ad read:

A Long Shot But Worth A Try…

Let me start off by saying that there are some very extraordinary people in the world, who do huge things from the goodness of their heart and for no other reason. I understand most cannot do this, including myself, and therefore respect everyone’s beliefs, decisions and feelings on things. Having said that, my brother will soon need a kidney transplant, and while family members are being tested to see if anyone is a match, I wanted to cover as much ground as possible in the search for a donor. His kidneys failed last year when he was diagnosed with a rare blood cancer. One symptom of this cancer is kidney failure. Now that he underwent chemotherapy and stem-cell transplant (his own cells were transplanted once the cancer was wiped out), the doctors said we can move on to the next issue which is finding a kidney donor.

A bit about my brother: His Blood Type is A. He is 41yo and otherwise healthy. He was never a drinker, drug-user or smoker. He was never much of a junk food eater and he has played basketball for 20+ years. He is also the father of two young children. While waiting for a kidney match, my brother has to go to dialysis three days a week for four hours each day. He is hooked up to a machine for all those hours. Dialysis takes away a lot of life’s quality and leaves my brother tired, drained and sometimes causes nausea, headaches and leg cramps. He cannot pick up or play with his children as he used to. If you or someone you know is willing to donate a kidney please let me know. Anyone willing to do this would of course have to be tested to see if he/she is a match. Your blood type should be A or O. I know this is a long shot but one never knows without asking. If you are willing to donate your kidney please contact me. I will give you all of the information needed. Please consider giving the gift of life. Thank you!!

*For those of you who’d want to help but can’t bring yourself to do so, don’t feel bad at all. Personally, the mere sight of a needle freaks me out so I truly understand.

I think this will be helpful to anyone considering donating a kidney:

Click on the link below- when on the page click on View Webcast Preview on the right side, in the box titled Webcast Center (4th up from bottom)

http://www.or-live.com/meritcare/1145/

Click on the link below- once on the page, scroll to the middle of page and click on
“View Living Kidney Donation Video.” (It’s underneath Laparoscopic Kidney Removal)

http://www.umm.edu/transplant/

To get in touch, please contact “jadjfd at yahoo dot com”.

Debbie and Neil posted on numerous other sites, but the only sites that generated inquiries from real potential donors were Craigslist and MatchingDonors.com. On his MatchingDonors.com site, Neil got over 800 hits.

From Craigslist alone, Debbie got a total of six serious people who were interested in donating. Among them were:

+ A man in Williamsburg wrote to say that he had received a kidney from his brother four years ago. He offered to share his experiences in going through the process, which Neil very much appreciated. Unfortunately, he did not have a spare kidney to donate.

+ A woman from Queens responded, met with Neil, got tested, and decided in the end not to donate. She said that giving up a body part was just too much for her.

+ A 20-year-old woman from Nigeria (now living in the US) who had found an apartment and two roommates on Craigslist. She met Neil, got tested, but unfortunately she was not a match.

+ A man from Los Angeles wrote to say that he also needs a new kidney, since his current kidney was only 20% functional. He will need to start dialysis in 6 months. He said he wanted Debbie’s advice, particularly about her experience using Craigslist. He too was placing ads on Craigslist when he discovered Debbie’s ad.

The Angeleno mentioned that he had received an inquiry from a woman in Texas. Unfortunately, the doctors had said that the Texan was not able to donate to the Californian because of incompatible blood types. (Perhaps red state blood doesn’t go into blue state bodies?). The Texan woman’s roommate is now being tested for compatibility.

However, both the Texan and Neil had Type A blood. So the Angeleno forwarded the Texan’s email to Debbie, and the two spoke.

The Texas woman is now undergoing a series of tests at Mt. Sinai hospital. Debbie is optimistic that she’ll be a match. Debbie found the personal website of the Texan, and noticed that she had been involved in organizing a breast cancer fundraiser because her mom was a breast cancer survivor.

So we hope for good news soon.

Sites like eBay and Craigslist have business models that probably would not work in many societies. Both of these sites are mechanisms for complete strangers to connect with one another and make transactions. Whenever you enter a business transaction, you run the risk of being cheated. However, over 30% of Americans believe, “most people can be trusted.” (Robert Putnam, Bowling Alone (New York: Touchstone Books, 2000), 140.). That trust makes these sites work.

Of course, there are always criminals. eBay has a large staff of security people who chase down miscreants; Craig Newmark has his “keyboard of justice.”. Inevitably, some slime seeps through. But these companies make it just difficult enough to be slimey that millions of people feel comfortable using these sites, even to the point of offering body parts to complete strangers.

Debbie recommends the following links, if you want to learn more about kidney donation:

+ “So far five members of the Falsey clan have donated kidneys— and they’re not done yet”

+ Living Donors

+ (UNOS) United Network for Organ Sharing

There is a significant amount of controversy over the possibility of donating organs to strangers. Robert Cranston of the Center for Bioethics and Human Dignity lists some concerns, and USA Today has covered the controversy.

In America, we allow consenting adults to do just about anything to or with one another, with some exceptions….e.g., employers are prohibited from employing people at a rate below the minimum wage. I think it’s beautiful that the internet is allowing consenting adults to help one another in such a powerful and deep way.

Please spread this story. I personally spoke with Debbie and Neil, and hope that the blogosphere can help them. It will be a good reason to give thanks on Thanksgiving.

UPDATE: I just received the email below from Robert Berend
(rberend at igc dot org):

Hi. I am the guy mentioned as the Angeleno in the article with kidney function under 20%. Just to clarify, I live in the SF area, but was raised in LA. I’ve been trading some emails with Debbie, and yes, got her in touch with Rhonda. The woman from TX actually was not a compatible blood type, so the doctors at UCSF suggested she not donate. However, her roommate is also able to donate to me, and, at present, his blood is being tested as step one. We hope that he will be a match…so I can have a transplant in January 2005. Should you wish to mention me (five other potential donors or so have either changed their minds or been found ineligible) to further the cause of organ donation, Craig, or other…you have my permission, and I’d be glad to have people contact me. BTW, I’m getting married in two weeks.
Thank you. Robert Berend 510 527 5332

UPDATE 2: Neil and Debbie Diamond were the front page story in today’s New York Daily News. They also appeared tonight on Channel 9 news (NYC). There is one significant error in how the story is presented in the NY Daily News: Neil is not “dying”, but is merely ill. His condition is manageable. Of course, his situation would be much better if he were to receive a new kidney.

 This post is now closed to comments.

Trust and Transactions, Numbers and Strength

Ross Mayfield writes:

At dinner tonight I had an interesting conversation about the difference between Americans and Europeans. One theory put forth is that Americans focus on transaction volume and efficiency while Europeans focus on the strength of relationships. With enough transactions you gain economies. With trust underpinning transactions, you gain similar economies. Its hard to say which system is “better.”

This reminds me of what we wrote in Balancing strength of relationships and number of relationships:

You can spend all of your time with your close friends and family (Strong ties with those people, but a low Number of relationships), or spread yourself thin across a wide number of people (high Number, low Strength). However, maintaining both high Strength and high Number is physically impossible.

How do you optimize the value of your network? How can you find the proper balance between Strength and Number?

The way to optimize the value of your network is to determine the necessary level of Strength required to accomplish your goals, and then maximize Number at that level. For example, if you are selling investment banking or strategic consulting services, you need a high Strength level for someone to buy your services. These are big-ticket items which require a high level of trust in their provider. Your Number will likely be small. Ideally, you have a small Number of close relationships with senior executives who are in a position to buy these services.

You may be tempted to try to meet everyone in your golf club. In most cases, it is unproductive and even impossible to build relationships with everyone there. Instead, develop a substantial relationship with the top 30 most Relevant to you.

However: if you are trying to sell books or food, your Strength can be much lower but your Number has to be much higher. Movie stars mainly make money by selling people the chance to watch a movie for $5 – $10 per view. They try to have ties with as many fans as possible. Spending an hour with just one fan is unnecessary and inefficient for them; they want weak ties. Similarly, a restaurant owner should build a large number of weak ties and encourage those weak ties to try her restaurant. Once the weak ties try the restaurant, the quality of the restaurant itself will probably drive any repeat business.

There is no one right solution overall; your needs will likely be different from one context to another. For example, the movie star will want to develop Strong ties with producers and directors. Also, you may be able to leverage the weak connections of your Strong ties. The restaurant owner should build closer relationships with high-profile customers, party planners, and group or association leaders. They could bring in significant groups of people, as well as referring people from within their own large networks.

This tension is why it is so important to develop strategies that allow you to increase either Strength or Number without more demands on your time. Building a large mailing list allows you to increase the Number without spending significant additional time. Learning to write more effective emails will help you increase the Strength of your ties without spending too much time on those relationships, beyond the initial cost of learning the new skill.

The ideal network has a large Number of heterogeneous people who think highly of you and with whom you are well bonded. That is the power of university and corporate alumni communities. Using the online member databases, you can easily access people in any industry and region of the world. Once you approach a fellow member, who may be from a totally different background than you, you have an immediate bond by virtue of the common background. In addition, this principle explains the value of “Outward Bound” expeditions, Ropes Courses, and other similar programs. These retreats all promote quick bonding between participants (immediate Strength).

Blog Business Summit – January 24-25, 2005 – Seattle

Blog Business Summit 2005 looks to be a great event:

This event will show you how your business can leverage current real-world blogging techniques, tools and platforms to promote and enhance your ventures.

The scheduled speakers include:
- Brian Alvey, cofounder of Weblogs, Inc.
- DL Byron of Textura Design
- Glenn Fleishman of Wi-Fi Networking News
- Jason Fried of 37signals (creators of Basecamp and designers of Meetup)
- Molly E. Holzschlag
- Robert Scoble
- Steve Broback of Avondale Media

The event is being held at the Bell Harbor Conference Center in Seattle on January 24-25, 2005. For those in the area, it’s a must. For everyone else, it definitely looks to be worth the trip.

Ergonomic keyboards and mice (continued)

Following up on my earlier research into ergonomic keyboards and mice:

I recently purchased the Quill Mouse from ErgoDirect. This is a bizarre-looking mouse pointer — it looks like a small white iron, and it costs $99. But it’s dramatically more comfortable than a traditional mouse, because it allows you to keep your hand in a neutral perpendicular position instead of twisting 90 degrees to cover a traditional mouse. Once you use it, you’ll find it very hard to resort to a traditional mouse. I now have one both for home and work, and I definitely endorse it. The people at Quill were very slow in sending it to me (customer service doesn’t seem to be a strength of theirs), but I was very happy with it once it arrived.

Also, the folks at ErgoDirect were kind enough to send me a Goldtouch Split Keyboard, which I’ve been playing with. Unlike every other split keyboard I’ve seen, this one allows you to control both the degree of split and the height of the raised part of the keyboard. It’s light and portable. I like it much better than any other split keyboard I’ve tried. My one complaint: it can’t go as high as I’d like it to.

If you’re going to spend significant time on a PC, you may as well be comfortable while you’re there.

CFO Magazine on How Corporations can use Social Network Software

CFO Magazine on How Corporations can use Social Network Software:

Six Degrees of Cooperation – Winter 2004 Issue – CFO.com

By crawling through these systems, enterprise-grade social-networking software fills holes left by traditional CRM. “Many CRM systems run into problems because salespeople keep the best contacts out of them,” says Scott Allen, coauthor of The Virtual Handshake: Opening Doors and Closing Deals Using Online Social Networks, which is due out next year. These systems dig deeper, he says, so “it’s harder to hide who you know.”

Apply for the 2005 Fast Company 50

The deadline is Dec. 1 for the “Fast Company 50″.

“We’re looking for remarkable people — it could be you or someone you work with or admire. We’re looking for courageous leaders, energetic innovators, problem solvers and troubleshooters, trend and agenda setters — readers who are fueled by courage, integrity, passion, and a commitment to results. What did you accomplish in the last year? What did you learn? What story would you like to share?”

If you want to apply, visit: Fast Company | 2005 Fast 50.

Military.com invades a blog

I just received the email below from Chris Michel, CEO of Military.com . Translation: some blogs are becoming sufficiently important that leading companies want to acquire them.

Friends,

I’ve been a big fan of DefenseTech.org for years. It’s arguably the premier defense and technology blog on the web…run by noted technology writer, Noah Shachtman. As he describes it, DefenseTech covers technology from : “Predator drones to roadside bombs, computer security to nuclear threats, body armor to missile defense…the site aims to examine the intersection of technology and defense from every angle, covering the exploits of soldiers and hackers, madmen and geniuses, inventors and dictators.” It’s terribly entertaining and informative. www.DefenseTech.org

We liked it so much; in fact, we just brought it into the Military Advantage family. I welcome your feedback and comments on the site.

Thanks for your continued support.

Warm regards,

Chris

DEFENSE TECH BLOG JOINS MILITARY ADVANTAGE — MILITARY.COM

Leading Military Website Adds Influential Blog Covering National Security’s Future

SAN FRANCISCO–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Nov. 10, 2004–Military Advantage (www.Military.com), the largest online military destination, has announced the addition of Defense Tech (www.DefenseTech.org), a leading web log, or blog, for information and analysis on the future of the military, law enforcement, and homeland defense.

Military Advantage, a subsidiary of Monster Worldwide (Nasdaq:MNST), enables the 30 million Americans with military affinity to access the benefits of service, as well as the news and information that impacts them. With 3.8 million monthly unique visitors (comScore Media Metrix, September 2004), Military.com is the world’s largest online military destination. Military.com membership numbers over 4 million and includes over 25% of uniformed personnel, as well as veterans, family members, policymakers, procurement professionals and defense contractors. Web logs, or blogs, have mushroomed in recent years into some of the Internet’s most vibrant and influential sources of news and opinion. The Defense Tech blog, begun in January 2003, tracks developments and trends in defense, law enforcement and homeland security. Technology is shaping how wars are fought, borders are protected, crooks are caught, and individual rights are defined. Defense Tech stays on top of these changes, rounding up the day’s news, linking to sources of information, and providing analysis on what’s ahead. From flying drones to roadside bombs, computer security to nuclear threats, body armor to missile defense, Defense Tech examines the intersection of technology and defense from every angle, covering the exploits of soldiers and hackers, madmen and geniuses, inventors and dictators.

“The addition of Defense Tech enables us to provide unique insight into the developments that impact homeland security, military operations, law enforcement and the everyday lives of those in uniform,” said Christopher Michel, founder and president of Military Advantage. “Defense Tech makes sense of today’s rapidly changing technology environment, distills the critical issues and identifies the most meaningful trends. Today, we see unprecedented interest in these topics from the general public as well as from defense and national security professionals.”

With Pentagon budgets at record highs, and with issues of security weighing so heavily on the national psyche, Defense Tech takes a hard look at how military money is being spent, and whether the tools being acquired are really making Americans safer or not. Pentagon insiders, defense industry experts, military analysts, law enforcement personnel, and servicemembers in the field all contribute ideas and analysis to the blog.

“We all have a stake in our own protection. But too often, the mainstream press doesn’t look very hard at the new technologies and approaches the government wants to use to secure our future,” said Noah Shachtman, founder and editor of Defense Tech. “Military.com provides a tremendous platform for communicating this information to the military community as well as a large, interested public. The Pentagon budget is more than $400 billion; let’s take a close look at it.”

Mr. Shachtman writes about technology, defense, politics, and geek culture for The New York Times, The Chicago Tribune, Wired magazine, and others. He’s contributed articles to The Village Voice, Salon, Wired News, The New York Post, The American Prospect Online, Details, Esquire, The Forward, and The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. As Defense Tech’s editor, he’s been interviewed by the Associated Press, CNN, CNNfn, CBS radio, NPR, BBC radio — as well as by newspapers, radio programs, and television stations across the country.

Defense Tech “provides a boatload of information on new military technologies and national security,” according to Slate magazine. It “always has something new and interesting.” The Seattle Times’ online edition adds that Shachtman “has led the way in reporting on some of this technology, long before the establishment press caught on.”

About Military Advantage & Military.com

Founded in 1999, Military Advantage, Inc. owns and operates Military.com, the largest online military destination serving 4 million members, including active duty personnel, reservists, guard members, retirees, veterans, family members, defense workers and those considering military careers. Military.com enables the 30 million Americans with military affinity to access their benefits, advance their careers, enjoy military discounts, and stay connected for life. Military Advantage develops efficient affinity marketing and communications programs for government agencies and companies serving this market. Military Advantage is a subsidiary of Monster Worldwide, Inc. More information on the company is available at www.military.com.

About Monster Worldwide

Founded in 1967, Monster Worldwide, Inc. (formerly TMP Worldwide Inc.) is the online recruitment leader and the parent company of Monster, the leading global careers website. Monster Worldwide is also the parent company of TMP Worldwide Advertising & Communications, one of the world’s largest Recruitment Advertising agency networks, and TMP Worldwide Directional Marketing, the world’s largest Yellow Pages advertising agency and a provider of direct marketing services. Headquartered in New York with approximately 5,000 employees in 26 countries, the Company’s clients include more than 90 of the Fortune 100 and approximately 465 of the Fortune 500 companies. Monster Worldwide (Nasdaq:MNST) is a member of the S&P 500 Index. More information about the company is available at www.monsterworldwide.com.

Craig Newmark on Craigslist.org

Following are my somewhat cryptic notes from Craig Newmark’s appearance tonight in New York under the auspices of TheLunchClub.net . (Jared Nissim has turned that informal social organization into a real business.) For more background on Craigslist, see the profile of craigslist in our Social Network Site Guide.

Notes:

Craig does customer service full time.
contacts NYPD and secret service when it’s needed.

his question for himself: ‘how much money do you need to make?’
they only incorporated in 1999. he gave some equity away ‘so I would have less control.’

q: how did it all start?
a: while craig was working at charles schwab.

audience member: I really love how you respond directly and personally to the community.

craig: we don’t owe anyone lots of money, so we have more flexibility.
he agrees with Mark Pincus’s (CEO of Tribe.net) comment, ““All the social network sites are a dumbed-down version of what’s going on in the blog world.”

q: are you single?
a: ‘my young lady would object if I said yes.’

q: what are your favorite sites?
a:wonkette. dailykos. nytimes circuits. gizmodo. theonion.

q:how do you handle all the emails that go thru the system?
a: we don’t store them.

craig: NYPD has nailed some people for apartment scams, harassment.

q: favorite story about craigslist?
a: abused wife who very quickly found a SAFE place to stay.

also, a few years ago someone advertised he was seeking someone to take the CPA ethics exam for him.

craig: ebay has had no real impact; it’s been a mutual learning experience. they’ve been very helpful in providing contacts at ISPs for spam control/criminal control.

craig’s favorite celebrities: leonard cohen, jon stewart.

craig: started craigslist NYC in 2000. traffic really took off in fall 2001, after 9/11. maybe coincidence, maybe not.

q: what do they do to minimize legal liability?
a: first, the site is protected under ‘safe harbor’ act.
second, they take misbehavior very personally. ‘after all , my name is on the site.’ they shut it down very fast.

craig: good PR he sends to his mom in the senior center, laminated.
their law firm does a lot of work pro bono. he likes the google/ebay ‘moral compass’.

they saw a dropoff in job postings when they started charging. they run a very lean operation–14 people!

q: why is craigslist non-commercial?
a: ‘because it feels right.’

craig: we heard report from audience member who found several kidney donors via craigslist.

he’s thinking now about future direction of craigslist.

he believes that most people want segmented identities online. e.g., one for dating and one for business. (this is a different philosophy than tribe.net, which gives you one identity). ‘we try not to get in the way of what people want.’ (in other words, if you want one identity you can have one on Craigslist; but if you want 3 you can do it too, anonymously.)

they used to run parties in CA, but no time now; it’s not critical path.

a slogan he created: ‘craigslist. no crap. well, maybe a little, but it’s your crap.’

October 2004: 6m unique visitors, and 3m unique posts.
Average user is there for 15-20 page views.
Only 14 employees (which is astounding for a company with this traffic). Also, a lot of their traffic is people surfing from work, and nielsen doesn’t measure traffic from behind corp. firewalls.

q: what metrics do you use to measure success?
a: we don’t.

q: will there be a 12step program for craigslist users?

craig: site design is so simple that they don’t run into many browser problems.

focus of his time is abuse cases. the people in the community really run Craiglist.

q: how do they feel about businesses posting stuff for sale?
a: we’re discussing it (i.e., possibility of charging them.)

Craigslist profile added to social networking site guide

Following a very pleasant interview with Craig Newmark a couple of weeks ago, we’ve posted a profile of craigslist in our Social Networking Site Guide.

I think the thing I learned that I found most interesting is that Craig is closely involved in customer service on the site. If a message gets two or more flags as being a scam or abusive, it gets his personal attention. Craigslist, with its 100% text-based interface, is a shining example that people and process are really what makes an online community work, not technology and tools.