California Streamin’ – January 20, 2012

by admin on January 20th, 2012
California Streaming

Having spent much of the last nine months working remotely, I’ve found Manhattan to be a reasonably accommodating place when it comes to free Wi-Fi and a comfortable place to sit, from Starbucks to the public library to Bryant Park (depending on the weather). Spending the week in San Francisco, however, I’ve discovered that many “free” spots there place a time-limit *and* require a purchase in order to obtain that coveted internet signal. At the same time, in the course of the week in S.F. I’ve seen an intense amount of business activity going on (job interviews, marketing pitches, etc.). In NY I mostly observe tourists, shoppers and escapees from the workplace. Maybe the Bureau of Labor Statistics should start tracking free wi-fi offerings by region as an adjunct to its monthly unemployment stats?

Brewing Ideas, and Coffee

Speaking of coffee and the workplace, I’ve noticed something in San Francisco that I haven’t seen in other U.S. cities (probably because I wasn’t looking). Namely, collaborative workspaces where entrepreneurs and the self-employed gather in lieu of a traditional office building type setup. My first exposure to this  was at “The Hub” several years ago when I was volunteering for a “Green-capital” conference — we used it as our temporary headquarters in the days leading up to the event. It seems like a challenging and tiring way to make a living (lots of rules about who cleans up the sink), so I’m not surprised these places don’t always survive. You have to wonder though, is coffee and a “hotelling station” the real future of work in America?

Telling Social Tales

In marketing circles, I hear endlessly about the urgent need to “engage” customers, particularly using social media. This week I came across an interesting campaign
from H&R Block
that tells an enjoyable story that simultaneously
educates people about a service offering they’re promoting. It’s a polished, well-crafted, nearly 5-minute long video with great audio and visual flourishes. What I don’t understand is where the “engagement” comes through, unless by that phrase we mean that people will want to share links to the piece. I’m not against great advertising, but I do think we should call an ad an ad.

Out With the Old, In With the Old

In 2000, I moved from Washington, DC to Silicon Valley to try and interest tech firms in joining a trade association, with the idea that we could favorably shape rules and regulations about the web. At the time, none of the people I met with felt that Washington mattered (and perhaps it didn’t). Our “old school” approach to coalition-building and generating position papers sounded hopelessly lame and irrelevant to the would-be prospects that I met with. Given this week’s showdown between Silicon Valley and Hollywood, however, I now see that I was just a decade too early.

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