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Colin Devroe

Reverse Engineer. Blogger.

Attending the NEPA.js meetup

NEPA.js

On Tuesday I attended the first monthly NEPA.js meetup at the Scranton Enterprise Center. Mark Keith, a JavaScript developer who somewhat recently moved into the area, was the organizer and TecBridge – who organizes the NEPA Tech meetup group – helped to coordinate, host, organize and provide pizza for this brand-new group.

The common refrain in our area is that those of us who build software products, enjoy a good bit of nerdery, or want to reach out and socialize with people who know what a npm package is… are somehow alone. That simply isn’t true and the first NEPA.js meetup proved that. Twenty-five or so people made it out to this first meetup even with the snow. There were young and not-so-young, men, women, and even those that didn’t know what JavaScript was but knew it was important for them to understand it.

After some introductions Mark did a great job of giving an overview of what JavaScript the language was and how it can be used. He kept it high-level and, though I’m sure some didn’t understand everything he said, surely they left knowing more about what JavaScript is then when they walked in. We also had those in the room that have been developing with JavaScript for years and years – and even one Mozilla team member.

The group meets again next month and will continue to do so the second Tuesday of each month. The group also has a Slack channel so if it you want in just ping me on Twitter.

Being on the “Ask the Web Marketing Experts” panel

Yesterday I was privileged to represent Condron & Cosgrove (more on this in January) at the NEPA Defense Transition Partnership panel discussion, through the Scranton Small Business Development Center, called Ask the Web Marketing Experts. I was flanked by other experts in the area including Jack Reager of Black Out Design, Gerard Durling of Coal Creative, and Ben Giordano of Freshy Sites.

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Left to right: Jack, Gerard, myself, Ben.

The panel discussion lasted a few hours and ranged topics from the elements of an effective web site to how to find your voice with social media for your business. It was a great discussion and it was recorded. If the video is made public I’ll be sure to share it.

There were a few overarching takeaways from the panel. Here’s mine; Don’t write-off a new social platform simply because you do not use it or understand it. Don’t get stuck using the same marketing techniques for your business year-after-year. Just because you did one thing one year, doesn’t mean it isn’t worth trying something different the next.

Every social network that we use today was, at one point, written off by those that didn’t think they’d ever make a difference. Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, Pinterest – all of these got their fair share of shrugged shoulders in the beginning. Don’t be that person. Be willing to move and adjust as the market does. You’ll be able to do better marketing for your business.

Attending the Philly Burbs WordPress meetup

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Do you know the visible signs of a strong community? If you’ve ever attended a Philly Burbs WordPress meetup then you definitely do.

Last night my new coworker Tucker Hottes and I drove the 2.5 hours to Pheonixville, PA for this month’s WordPress meetup in the Philly Burbs meetup group. What we saw during the evening was the clear, visible signs of a healthy, vibrant, and active community.

Those signs were:

  • Conversation – People were talking to one another from the jump. They greeted one another when a new person arrived. And even if they had already found their own seat, they got up and moved to have a conversation with someone else.
  • Inclusivity – No one. No one feels like an outsider at one of these meetups. Race, gender, or distance from the area (like us) doesn’t matter. Everyone feels very welcome.
  • Questions – Lots of questions and answers. And people really trying to help one another.
  • Lingering – After the event was over people stuck around, got more food, chatted more. In fact, if it wasn’t for the long ride home I would have stayed longer.

I’ve attended this meetup before as a presenter in West Chester. And I felt welcome then too and I could feel the strength of the community then as well. This is a well run group and I highly recommend attending one of their meetups if you can.

Oh, if you’re wondering why I’m willing to drive 2.5 hours just for a WordPress meetup. Read this.

Attending Cropped! a rebranding competition

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Last night I attended an event created by AAF NEPA to help a non-profit organization rebrand. The idea was simple; create a few teams of branding professionals from local agencies and have them compete to create the best ideas and solutions to rebranding a local non-profit company.

I’ll leave the details of the competition to the event page itself. But I thought I’d take a second to discuss how rebrands are about problem solving and how this event demonstrated that perfectly.

Branding is an exercise in getting a company’s culture, message, and purpose demonstrated and communicated through every single thing the company does. I know it has been said a million times but it worth reiterating that branding is not a logo. Branding permeates a company’s activities from the way they answer the phone to how easy it is to unsubscribe to their monthly email newsletters. I was happy to see that everyone at Cropped! knew exactly what branding was.

Rebranding, on the other hand, is about solving problems. When a company decides it needs to rebrand itself there are generally reasons for doing so. Perhaps the overall aesthetic of the company feels dated or, as was the case with the EOTC (the non-profit that was part of this competition), the company’s purpose was being mis-communicated through it’s brand messaging.

This is when the company’s honesty about itself really needs to shine. What do people really think we are? How do they feel when they interact with our products or services or employees? Why do they think that? Why do they feel that? And so on.

I thought it was excellent that the competition began immediately by acknowledging the weaknesses of the EOTC’s current brand and laid them all out in front of the contestants so that they could begin to break them down and work through them one-by-one. That’s when the solutions to these issues became clearer and clearer. Certain colors were off-limits, specific branding icons weren’t to be used. This helps the teams to avoid the same traps that the previous EOTC brand team (if there was one) fell into.

Overall it was a cool event in a cool space and well worth getting out in the cold windy evening for. The THINK Center, where the event was held, was a great space in downtown Wilkes-Barre. If you have a chance to attend an event here it is worth checking it out for the gear alone.

Attending TecBridge’s Entrepreneurship Institute

On Friday I was able to pop into TecBridge’s Entrepreneurship Institute at Marywood University. It is an event designed to pull back the veil of starting, funding, branding, and generally running a company.

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When I arrived the panel for early stage funding was going on and the questions and answers seemed to be going pretty well. If you’ve ever been to an event like this the questions were the usual – “how are valuations created?”, “how can I sell my product overseas?”, etc. I believe in our area there isn’t as much awareness of how early stage startups are founded, teams built, and funded and so events like this one are sorely needed. Entrepreneurship isn’t part of the lexicon here in northeastern Pennsylvania. There are some people that have that spirit and have aspirations of building great products or companies. But not nearly enough.  Go to New York or the Bay Area and you’ll see events like this happening every week. If we want to see this sort of spirit happening here we need to continue to beat the drum. Tweet. Write blog posts. Start meetups. Have chats over beers. Continue to let people know that we can build great products and companies here and that there are tons of resources to help them do so.

The breakout sessions, or workshops, were where most of the practical value of this event was likely received by the attendees. Rather than a panel simply answering questions broadly, the workshops helped the attendees to work through a problem and see the processes work step-by-step. I was able to pop into a few of them – notably Kathryn Bondi’s workshop and Mandy Pennington’s workshop. Both would add extremely practical processes and workflows to any entrepreneur’s bag of tricks. Essential tools to help any one starting a business.

Here are a few more poorly shot photos:

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More of these types of events are needed for our area. In fact, they don’t even need to be as well resourced or supported as this one was to be successful. Marywood’s campus is a gorgeous venue but these sorts of discussions can just as easily be held in the conference rooms, lunch rooms, pubs, or high school gymnasiums of our area. I’m glad we have TecBridge to continue to create and help promote these sorts of things. Even you do not follow TecBridge on Twitter do so.

I look forward to popping into as many as I can.

SAGE Awards winners

NEPA Scene:

The Greater Scranton Chamber of Commerce has announced the winners of the 2016 SAGE Awards, the Scranton Awards for Growth and Excellence that honor outstanding local businesses for their talent, creativity, and innovation. The winner of each award category was publicly announced at the Chamber Gala on Wednesday, Nov. 9 at The Theater at North in Scranton.

I was able to attend the SAGE Awards this year. The Theater at North is a great space. They did an amazing job refurbishing it. Everyone seemed to have a great time and those striving to help make the Scranton-Wilkes-Barre area better in their own way were deservedly acknowledged.

Oh, to the lady behind the bar with the handsome pour, I thank you.

NEPA BlogCon 2016

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I often wonder what it would be like to be a first-time attendee at a conference like NEPA BlogCon. Even with the speakers attempting to keep things easy-to-understand I’m sure the flood of information can be overwhelming. I think that is why the mix of presentations at these sorts of events is so important. It can’t be all buzzword-ridden tips and tricks and how-tos. Some of it needs to raise high above the how and address more of the why. Principles rather than rules.

I think NEPA BlogCon does a decent job at striking this balance. This year’s presentation line-up showed how to add visuals to blog posts to make them more effective but they also discussed motivations and passions. No matter what blogging or social media platforms you use yourself, everyone can identify with the passion behind the topics they choose to write about or create media for. There is emotion behind why we do what we do (even if you do it for work) and many times that emotion was palpable during the presentations.

Blogging started as journaling. Public diaries written to connect with someone outside of your bedroom out in the world where hopefully someone would read and listen and understand what you were going through. That same passion has spilled over into every topic under the sun including parenting, technology, food, wildlife preservation, and vacation planning. People love these topics and so they write and create and share and record and speak and draw about them. And they put this media out into the world to hopefully connect with someone outside of their offices that will understand and connect with that passion too.

How can one harness that passion to achieve their goals with their content? That’s the question that ultimately gets answered at events like NEPA BlogCon. The goal could be to earn a buck. But the goals also could be to change minds, to educate, to have fun!

NEPA BlogCon may have the word “blog” in the name but blogging has become so much more than a singular activity and toolset. Tools do not matter any more. One’s blog may be rooted at one source web site (hopefully) but one’s content spreads out over the ether like daffodil seeds blowing in the wind passing over the plains of Twitter, Snapchat, Facebook, Pinterest, etc. How does one harness these tools? Which one’s should I use for my audience? Which one’s shouldn’t I use and why? NEPA BlogCon touches, and rightly so, on all of these things also.

If you are passionate about something and have been attempting to share that passion through online media, and if you’re reading this because you are curious about whether or not you should attend next year’s NEPA BlogCon then you’ve already answered that question. Yes, you should.

This year’s conference was held at Penn State Worthington Scranton in Dunmore, PA. This was the closest NEPA BlogCon has ever been to where I live. And, it will be at the same location next year. I’m very excited about this because a few attendees have already expressed interest in adding an activity or two to the day prior to the event as a result. I hope to see some time slated for hacking on our blogs and also for doing something outdoors (like a hike) and using the experiences and photos we gather on the hike to help new bloggers share that online. Should be great.

Thanks as always to the organizers and volunteers and sponsors.

Here are a few photos I snapped at the event followed by a few other blog posts shared by attendees.

James D. Gallagher Conference Center

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Food and coffee

Food and coffee

Rubik's Cube

My capturing setup

5th anniversary cake

Orange Whip Band at SBC in Pittston

A few other attendees have shared their experiences. Britney Kolodziej shared a very Buzzfeed-esque, gif-filled post. P.J. shares his first experience at the con. And I’m not sure who did this but there is a shared Google Doc with tons of notes from the presentations.

Oh, and don’t miss the official NEPA BlogCon 2016 Photoset on Flickr.

Hope Hill Lavender Farm’s Lavender Festival 2016

Lavender festival

This weekend a few friends, Eliza, and I went to Hope Hill Lavender Farm‘s Lavender Festival. As one would expect with all lavender events, it was an absolute smashing success with thousands upon thousands of people turned away due to it being overcrowded.

Wait, what?

Let me back up and explain what happened then I’ll give you my review of the event. And by back up, I mean a few years.

A few years ago Eliza and I decided to drive to Pottsville to tour the Yuengling Brewery. It is a great tour and I recommend you take it if you’re ever in the area. It is the oldest brewery in the United States and the tour guides are pleasant and knowledgable. We had searched online for a few things to do after the tour, since it is a bit of a drive for us, and we found a nearby lavender farm that we thought might be neat to see.

When we arrived at Hope Hill Lavender Farm we quickly realized that the lavender farm was a few small acres of land in the front of someone’s home. We almost turned around since we didn’t see anyone around and didn’t want to intrude on someone’s property. It was then that we spotted Wendy and Troy, the owners of Hope Hill, and they invited us to come and see the lavender, to even help cut a bit of it, and took the time to show us the process behind their work.

Wendy and Troy were beyond gracious with their time and we knew we’d end up coming back someday.

Fast forward to a few months ago when we saw, on Facebook, that Hope Hill Lavender Farm was going to have a lavender festival at their farm. I quickly clicked the “I’m Interested” button on the event and sent it to Eliza and one or two friends I thought might want to come with us and do exactly what Eliza and I did a few years ago; tour the brewery and go to Hope Hill and see Wendy and Troy’s place.

Well, it turns out tens of thousands of other people did the same thing. Thus demonstrating the power of Facebook. The event spread like wildfire. Over 65,000 people clicked “interested” on the event. 9,000 said they wanted to come. And 8,000 more were invited but never responded.

Obviously the Hope Hill team knew they would never, ever be able to accommodate that many people. So they decided to ask people to grab a limited number of free tickets on Eventbrite to limit how many people could come. They decided to limit it to 3,500 people total. (I would have picked a lower number, more on this in a bit).

Of course, people being people, thousands freaked out because they missed the boat. Fortunately, Eliza saw that tickets were needed and grabbed some before they were sold out.

One point to make here: Of course you could argue… this is Facebook, no way would 9,000 people actually show up. Sure, that’s possible. But if you look through Facebook and on Instagram you’ll see that people traveled from near and far, some even made a weekend or week trip out of the ordeal. So, I wouldn’t doubt that out of those 9,000 far more than 3,500 would have shown up. I don’t know if Hope Hill kept a number but I would say they easily had 3,000 people there during the day and would have had more if they could have possibly fit them all.

I’m really happy for Hope Hill. I’m happy their event went viral. And I think they handled it as best as they could. I’ve been part of planning, in some capacity, several large events and I know how stressful they can be. I once gave myself a fever from working way too hard during an event. I hope they didn’t.

So, now onto my review.

I thought the event was great. And so did everyone with me. We had a really nice time. Getting into the event took about an hour or so. And getting out took about 20 minutes. If there was anything I would have changed about the event it would have been that. But is also sort of added to the experience. We ended up chatting with several other cars going into and out of the event. They had some nice vendors, good food, good music, and some nice things to see around the farm. And, of course, lavender. It was exactly as I expected since Eliza and I had visited there before.

If I had never visited Hope Hill in the past and I hadn’t known that the event went viral on Facebook and was completely out of the control of the owners… I think I would have had a different mindset going in and likely had a different opinion. I don’t blame people for being upset that they couldn’t go. But I think compassion for the Hope Hill team is warranted.

I have no idea if we will go to the festival again but I do know that we’ll likely visit Hope Hill Lavender Farm again. Thanks to Wendy, Troy and everyone else that made the event possible and a huge success.

Presenting at the NEPA WordPress Meetup

Tonight I had the privilege of presenting at our local NEPA WordPress Meetup. We were also privileged to host the event at our space in Carbondale, PA.

My presentation was entitled The History & Future of Inline Editing. I’m sure there will be a video posted online as soon as it is ready.

 

Greenville Grok was different and better

This past week Kyle Ruane and I drove to Greenville, South Carolina for the Greenville Grok – a half-week long string of events and activities put together by the great folks at The Iron Yard.

Grok is unlike most conferences in a number of great ways. Most conferences focus on providing headline speakers to bring in a crowd. The crowd is usually separated from the presenters by a stage and dark lighting that doesn’t allow the presenter and the crowd to interact. The Grok doesn’t run this way.

There are times when there is a single speaker and everyone else is listening. But those talks and demonstrations were sprinkled into the schedule as a way to break up the core part of the event; talking to each other in small groups.

The main feature of the Grok are called 10/20s. All attendees are given a random number at the beginning of each day which denotes which group they are in. I pulled 10 twice and 9 once. Each group has 15-20 people in them. The groups go off into their own area of the spacious building in downtown Greenville to discuss whatever topics they would like.

A group may consist of a designer, an entrepreneur, an architect, the CEO of a relatively large successful corporation, and a freelancer trying to decide if she should learn HTML and leave Photoshop behind. No one person has the stage. Everyone’s attention is on the person who happens to be speaking. Topics can be provided by anyone willing to raise their hand and if the group would like to chat about that they will. If any one person thinks that the topic being raised is boring they only need to sit through it for 10 minutes before the alarm sounds and the next topic is suggested.

It is like group therapy. And it works really well. How else are you going to get a ton of feedback from so many people that have dealt with or will deal with the same pressures and circumstances as you have? It is a great mix and a great platform for people to grow.

The Grok was held on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Each day has a very slightly different feel to it and a slightly different schedule. But each day seemed to be part of the same conversation; how can we all do better? Do better work. Be better people. Build better things.

I’ve left many conferences motivated to make more money or to capture a market or to squash the competition. But once that wears off I usually return to wanting to work on something fun with a team I really like and, hopefully, others will like what we build too. After leaving the Grok we felt motivated to improve at every level. Improve our industry in our area by donating our time and resources, improve our product and business and team, and improve ourselves, our skills, and how to interact with the people and world around us.

There are a lot of conferences that happen every year. If you’re looking to have a relaxing few days in a gorgeous city chatting with people that are smarter than you and want to leave wanting to simply do and be better… to go the Grok.

 

Related links: Matt McManus of P’unk Ave., photos of Day 1Day 2, and Day 3 by Jivan Davéthoughts from Allan Branch of Less Accounting, and some thoughts from Elyse Viotto.

Recollecting BlogPhiladelphia

If I had a dime for everytime someone asked me why I lived in Pennsylvania, instead of somewhere not so “behind the times” like Silicon Valley, I’d probably have a free cup of coffee. But this past week’s BlogPhiladelphia unconference flies in the face of the misnomer that Pennsylvania is indeed “behind the times”.

The main problem is; we’re all hiding. In general the entire east coast is overridden by old-world companies that are closed, non-communicative, and local. With more events like BlogPhiladelphia – I think we could start to see some real change in Pennsylvania. I think we’ll start seeing some of these companies start to reach for the open, community-driven successes of their west coast “competitors”.

BlogPhiladelphia was thoroughly enjoyable. Unless you knew it, you’d never guess that this was the first event of its kind (that I know of) that has been held in the Philadephia area. The unconference was well organized, well attended, and properly represented outside of its venue walls.

The sessions of BlogPhiladelphia

Every session on the BlogPhiladelphia schedule seemed to have just the right balance between education and discussion. Each seemed to also hold enough value that it made me wish that I could have attended them all instead of needing to choose between two conflicting sessions.

Each session had a “leader” who acted as the moderator for the discussion topic rather than a lecturer. This worked very nicely for the majority of the topics and each moderator seemed to do a very good job at involving the attendees into the discussion topic. My favorite sessions ended up being those where the leader of them didn’t end up saying a whole lot, but rather steered the conversation in a way that kept with its topic. I think the vast majority of the session leaders did a fantastic job!

The food of BlogPhiladelphia

Pleasantly surprised. That is how I would describe my reaction to the food that was served at BlogPhiladelphia. Breakfast and lunch, for each day, was provided by uwishunu.com, ziddio, and philly.com. Thanks to each of those organizations, and whomever picked the menu, for providing good food rather than what is typically given at some of these types of events which would eventually have you going home holding your stomach.

The after parties!

When I arrived in Philadelphia on Wednesday night I drove straight from my home to the studio offices of P’unk Ave for a pre-party hosted by my new friends Geoff, Alex, and Rick. The P’unk Ave guys are excellent hosts! The pre-party was great and I can’t wait to get back to Philadelphia sometime to spend more time with the P’unk Ave team.

After Thursday’s sessions we were invited by the Radisson-Warwick hotel to the bar in the lobby ( I think it was called Tavern 17? ) for free finger-foods and wine. The wine was actually fairly good (I’d venture a guess that it was some type of Australian Shiraz. Can anyone confirm?) and I wish there was someone there to thank for everything before we headed to the next location.

 

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Alex Hillman

 

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Marisa and Roz

 

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Crazy people!

 

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Owen Winkler

 

The party at Triumph Brewing Company. All photos credit Roz.

 

The party moved to the Triumph Brewing Company where, and I think I can speak for everyone that attended, we all had a very good time chatting, playing games, taking photos, and just generally enjoying the company of our fellow attendees. Thanks to Indepedents Hall (Alex Hillman) and anyone else that helped pick up the tab for us all to enjoy ourselves until Triumph closed. If it wasn’t for you I may have remembered Geoff Dimasi of P’unk Ave picking on me all night.

I was unable to attend the final after party on Friday night due to my long drive home. In retrospect I should have stayed for a few hours because all I ended up doing is sitting in traffic. Ugh.

The value of BlogPhiladelphia

Photo descriptionScott McNulty and I

Photo credit: Marisa McClellan

As Chris Conley pointed out in his recap of BlogPhiladelphia, there is much more value than meets the eye with BlogPhildelphia in the relationships and conversations you hold during offtimes of the event and after the event has come and gone. This is something that is true for nearly every event I’ve attended over the last half year with Viddler. The value of these events is in the relationships you build while attending them.

Not that there was not any value in the sessions or discussions that took place during BlogPhiladelphia. To loosely quote several attendees that commented about their experiences: “I’ve learned more in the last 48-hours than I have in the last few years.”.

BlogPhiladelphia was a huge success and was very meaningful for everyone that attended. I’m very happy to have attended and I look forward for the next event in Philadelphia.

BlogPhiladelphia – Day 1

9:00am – Free breakfast always tastes better doesn’t it? I’m sitting at the front most table at BlogPhiladelphia in the Grand Ballroom at the Radisson-Warwick Plaza hotel. Call me the teacher’s pet, but I wanted a good seat.

You can watch my twitter and my flickr for updates throughout the day as well.

Update: Dave Parmet pointed out that there is an official BlogPhiladelphia flickr group so please add all of your photos there.

9:30am – The introductions are complete. We had an introduction to “what an unconference is” for those in the room that have not been to one. And now the first session is beginning. For session information, see this page.

Update: The video of this session is now available.

Update: “I think being too serious can actually drive away readers.” — Joey Sweeney.

Caroline Marks says that Ziddio sees users that end up getting tons of views on Ziddio but not on their own sites. I’m beginning to wonder if there will ever be a market for an open platform for video sharing that does not have a portal site attached to it? Would someone pay for something like that to subsidize that portal? Oh, and Ziddio has cats on their frontpage – must be that Web 3.0 thing.

@BlogPhiladelphia attendee: Students “practice medicine” in SecondLife. Awesome. Would you try to advertise, or network, for your company/blog in SecondLife? Have you? Personally I’m not against it because I’ve read many success stories involving the use of Second Life. I think you go to where the people are, you don’t decide where the people should be.

Request: Anyone in the room have an advil or aspirin or something? Please bring it up to the front table to the guy in the marroon Viddler shirt. I’ll buy ya an open source beer.

Emily King: (quoted loosely) “It takes about a week to get a post out.” — Intelligent Travel. Is this “blogging” if it takes so long and is such a process? She says that she’s working hard to make that much quicker though, so keep pushing Emily!

The backchannels (blogs, twitter, etc) for BlogPhiladelphia must be working – because nearby bloggers are beginning to flock to BlogPhiladelphia. Come on down, and bring Aspirin.

Marisa, of ForkYouTV, hooked me up with some pills! Thanks so much Marisa!

Break time.

11:30am – In the Crystal Ballroom. About 60 people are in here, so far, to listen to the COO Dina Kaplan from Blip.tv. I’ll fill in the details as I have them.

She asked for a few examples of video blogs, one is called PhilaStories. Sounds interesting. She’s giving an overview of Blip and says the number one tip to building an audience is doing “regularly updated content”.

Dina: “The average video blog length is 3-5 minutes.” Setting a specific period of time for each show, and trying to live within that for each episode, will set the bar with viewers to expect a certain amount of time they’ll need to devote to watching it.

“You set the rate” regarding how much you should be able to get for sponsorship of your show. I thought it was amazing that she didn’t know ForkYou when they were mentioned when ForkYou uses Blip to host its raw video files while using Viddler’s flash player. I know Scott and Marisa. I heart ForkYou!

Attendee: “How do you address the questions of the media buyers like: How many rolls of toilet paper will we sell by sponsoring a video blog?” Trial and error. Faith. Instead of going gangbusters, do a trial period. If the results do not pan out, move on.

1:45pm – Lunch was very good. Cheese steaks! Looking forward to the afternoon’s sessions as well as my opportunity to demo Viddler!

Side note: Tonight there will be a sponsored event at a bar (Alex can you give details)? Please see Alex if you, or your company, can donate a few extra dollars towards the open bar. Thanks!

Update: Additional coverage of BlogPhiladelphia can be found everywhere. In podcast form at PhillyTip.com, and John Suder’s blog are two examples. Any others? Put them in the comments please. Oh, and of course – pay close attention to the blogphiladelphia tag on Viddler for video coverage of some of the sessions.

2:30pm – Don Bain from Electric Rain compares the 2d browsing experience with the 3d experience of Second Life. Tens of thousands of people are looking at the same page (Amazon.com) and you wouldn’t know it. In Second Life, you can be with other people looking at the same thing. The avatar is the “personalization”. The person is the cursor. “Navigation” is actual movement. Excellent points.

Thomas Taylor told me that there is now a BlogPhiladelphia wiki so if you can help to document this conference, and don’t have a blog or would rather use this wiki, please do so!

Updating the next day: I was without my laptop for the last 6 hours or so, long story. So I am going to edit this entry even though its already Friday.

Scott McNulty lead a session at the end of the day talking about negative, or bad, comments left on a blog. Opinions about moderation ranged from “delete immediately” to “never delete” comments that are felt as being negative. What are your thoughts on negative comments? Keep them? Ditch them? Ignore them?

At the end of the day we had an OpenGrid where Allen Stern, of the tech blog CenterNetworks, was able to present PreRollr. PreRollr allows you to add ad overlays to videos on your site. Then I was able to do a presentation on Viddler which, went, not so well considering that I didn’t bring the right cabling to hook into the projector here. My boy John Billota came to the rescue with his computer though (thanks John!).

Afterwards the hotel Radisson’s Tavern 17 (I think) invited us down for free wine and food which was a great precursor to an after party at Triumph Brewing Company. Thanks to all that chipped in (I’ll get a full list from Alex and update) and letting us
eat and drink for free until the bar closed.

The Web 2.0 Expo experience

When I first found out that the entire Viddler team would be going to San Francisco for the Web 2.0 Expo – I wasn’t sure of what to expect from the Expo. Would it be a social (tshirt and jeans) or more a professional (suit and tie) type of conference? And really, it turned out to be a little bit of both.

The Expo

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The Web 2.0 Expo Floor

The expo floor was filled with companies of all types ranging from large companies like Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft to smaller more fun companies like Viddler, Zimki, and Piczo. Some people were being very professional and demonstrating some very high-level enterprise applications (which are typically found behind-the-scenes of more social software. ie. Analytics and monitoring systems for server grids). Others were demonstrating their next-generation web service that can take care of all your development needs from coding, to versioning, to deployment all in a social and collaborative way. Each had their pitch, each had something very interesting to offer, and each were trying to make their product/service stand out from the pack.

The sessions that I got to see (which weren’t many since I didn’t have a session pass so I had to sneak into any of the rooms by tossing Hershey Kisses on the floor in front of the badge-checker on the way in) were much more “professional” than the panels I got to see when I was at South by Southwest this year. This isn’t to say that those panels at SXSW were not done in a professional manner, but that the sessions at the Web 2.0 Expo were much less interactive and more a demonstration of some products/services/companies that stood out as doing good work in their various fields.

Web2Open

Chris Messina discusses hAtomic

The Web2Open Mashroom

Running adjacent to the Web 2.0 Expo keynotes and sessions was Web2Open which is a *Camp style event that run in the main corridors on the second floor. Various presentations and discussions given by people that attended and participated in Web2Open were very good. “Minutes” were taken by various people and left on the walls so that if you came late to a particular discussion, you were able to quickly catch up and be part of the conversation. If you didn’t like where the discussion was going you were able to change the topic yourself by suggesting a topic, or – you could literally get up and go into another room where maybe the topic suited you a little better.

The idea of doing Open conferences like this is still very much in beta – and the process is being refined by the attendees each and every time one of these events goes on – but they are definitely much more attractive than any other event that I’ve been to. Simply being able to steer the conversation by simply raising your hand and asking a question lends itself very well to building value for those that attend.

The Viddler team and version 2.0

Viddler had a massive push to finish Q&A and testing on the its latest version of the site and player and managed to fit in many hours of development in order to release version 2.0. There are still a few bugs being worked out as soon as the developers and managers get back home from this trip – but overall the release was a big success and was fairly well received. The roadmap for Viddler is still quite exciting and the entire team is looking forward to the next step. I’ll have some more information about this and will be asking for everyone’s feedback on some of our ideas shortly.

saratoga_cake

We celebrated version 2.0 a little bit early with some champagne and cake. The entire team was staying in Saratoga at our President’s relative’s house. We were so well taken care of that none of us wanted to leave (freshly squeezed orange juice right off the tree every morning makes a man wanna stick around).

Meeting the entire team for the first time was awesome. Working remotely with our team is really great and is actually conducive to getting very good work accomplished without the added expense and overhead of having everyone move to one location and setting up the proper digs for such an effort. However, it was nice to finally spend some time together to get to know each other even better and fit a real personality to the people that I have the privilege of working with everyday.

Harry and I got to work on our commercial together, which has caused a little bit of a stir with some members – which is always good to know that our users are reading our terms of use. We’re looking forward to updating our terms of use to fit more inline with what we really want to be able to do — promote really good video content and display it in an interactive and valuable way.

The Web 2 Party

The moment I got a feel for who was going to be at the Web 2 Expo; namely my friends from Citizen Agency, Ma.gnolia, etc. – I decided I really wanted to have a party with a few companies to help fit the bill to really pull off something nice. I mentioned this to Larry Halff and Chris Messina and I must say – they really took the ball and ran with it especially considering my inexperience in putting something like this together combined with the fact that I’m on the east coast far away from finding out about all of the venues that were available.

Tara (unknown last name) (aka Tara 2.0) came through in a very big way and secured our venue and setup everything we needed go pull off a successful event. Having an “event planner” is really key when you are trying to do one of these events with multiple companies and tons of logistics involved. If you are thinking of doing something like we did – I definitely recommend assigning one experienced person to get everything setup properly.

varnish_party
The party attendees

The party, in my opinion, was a huge success and it seemed like everyone had a really great time. People were lined up outside to get in, we were “at capacity” for the entire duration of the party, and people had to be escorted out of the gallery when the place closed. I had been to a few events at South by Southwest where people leaved early, the bar tab ran out quickly, or where generally not many people showed up. Such was not the scene for the Web 2 Party and we had a great time meeting everyone who came, shooting some video, and had some great discussions.

We’ve been talking about doing something in New York in the Fall so be sure to keep your ear to the ground. We don’t want to let all the west coast peeps have all the fun!

I know I’m speaking for the entire Viddler team when I say that w
e’d like to thank Citizen Agency for helping to coordinate the entire event, and thanks to Ma.gnolia, Scrapblog, JanRain, faberNovel, Facebook, Plasq, and WineLibraryTVfor helping us in throwing the best party during the Web 2.0 Expo. We hope you had as much fun as we all did.

The photos

Here is just a small collection of photos that I took over the course of the week. I didn’t have a lot of time to shoot many photos as I always seemed to be busy recording video, talking at our booth, chatting with friends or just generally preoccupied with other things. I recommend you look at the Viddler Group on Flickr for more photos (oh, if you have photos please put them in the Viddler group) and also watch the Viddler tag on Viddler to see any video that may pop up over the next few days from the Expo.

santaclara_viddler2
Version 2.0 development

Chris Tingom
Chris Tingom

saratoga_house
Viddler Palace

saratoga_lucaszkasper
Lucasz and Kasper

saratoga_oranges
Oranges from Saratoga

saratoga_breakfast
Breakfast meeting

moscone_booth
Viddler booth

Blake Burris
Blake Burris and I

D. Keith Robinson at Varnish

Crazy Keith

Dustin Diaz at Varnish
“Naked” Dustin

Gina Bolton at Varnish
Joyful Jina

The Viddler gang at Ritual Coffee Roasters
The Viddler gang at Ritual Coffee Roasters

Harry Snodgrass
Firecracker Harry

Again I wish that I had more time to take more photos than I did but I’m thankful that friends like Chris Tingom were able to take a bunch of photos during our trip.

So the next time you hear that Viddler is coming to your town or throwing a party in your neighborhood – be sure to give us a shout and come out and drink some of our beerz…

Philadelphia Weblogger Meetup – February 17th

Though this event is split into two parts, the Philadelphia WordPress Meetup and the Philadelphia Webloggers Meetup to me it is all just about blogging and so I sign up for both.

chris-philly-meetup-1457703015249
Chris at Ten Stone Bar – April 15, 2006

This Saturday (February 17th from 2:30pm till about 4pm) I’ll be attending the Philadelphia Webloggers Meetup at Ten Stone Bar & Restaurant. Will you be there?

 

So far Eliza, Mike, and Chris are coming with me. It looks like Rob, Tom, and Marisa are definitely going. Andrea and Jason might be going. And sadly Tony G. can’t make it. Update: Happily Tony G. is able to make it!

And, it appears we’re going to have a fairly full house.

If you are in the Philadelphia area (heck I’m 2 1/2 hours away and I’m still going) and you’d like to meetup with some great people to discuss WordPress, blogging, Viddler, or just sit back and enjoy a beer – sign up to the meetup and we’ll see you there.

Note: You can add this event to your calendar program of choice since this post is marked up using hCalendar. Enjoy.

Note addendum: It appears that the above link won’t work for Outlook users? Not sure why – probably because Outlook sucks? 😉