Wednesday, April 29, 2009

On a Positive Tweet

Write interesting thoughts.
Ask interesting questions.
Attract like minded people.
Publish something of value.
Create a ground swell at a viral level.

As an evolving writer, I aspire to all these goals. And Bill French’s Social Media presentation punctuated these goals at the 2009 EntConnect conference.

My previous blog had pointed out the dark side of Twitter, yet Twitter can be used for good, for example, in public service and safety. During disasters, bad traffic conditions, severe weather, twitterers can relay - as fast as they can type - status, new route suggestions and other critical information.

December 2008, right after the Denver air crash, twitterers micro-blogged immediately at the crash scene as written in the following articles:
Plane crash geek Twitters from burning Denver aircraft
Man Used Twitter From Plane Crash

What’s in the near future for Twitter?

I’ve seen Audio Twitter, audio boo, on tweets lately. Like the TwitPic, the boos play a short sound bite. Here is allegedly the first boo: first-twitter-boo

More great twitter tips tweet came from @ZebOlsen. He blogged Top Twitter Tools Exposed and Explained at Lightning Speed!

As always, google Twitter for latest information.

On a final tweet note, as I delve into this brave new world of social media, I feel more entangled in the world wide web. Bill French suggested another application that can help get a handle on information overload. is “a simple service that makes updating your social networks a snap.” Whether, twitter, myspace, facebook, linkedin, plaxo, yammer, etc. allows you to post your messages wherever you want. Maybe worth looking into?

Whew! Those were some of the high points in the keynote EntConnect speech. Next blogs will cover different topics from presenters, who range from teenagers to octogenarians.

Related links:

EntConnect website:

Twitter and related social media applications:
ZebOlsen: Top Twitter Tools Exposed and Explained at Lightning Speed:

Denver Air Crash and Twitter:
Plane crash geek Twitters from burning Denver aircraft:
Man Used Twitter From Plane Crash:

Bill French links:

Monday, April 27, 2009

The Dark Side of Twitter

“It's a dangerous business, going out of your door. You step into the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there is no knowing where you might be swept off to.” (The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien)

The same could be said of stepping out into the twittersphere.

When I first started to twitter, one of the first people I followed was the CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishers, Michael Hyatt. He graciously sent me a direct message: “Thanks for following me. New to Twitter? You might want to read my "Beginner's Guide":

And I’m glad I read it for his fatherly advice.

Point 5 warned that anyone could be listening in my conversation.

Point 7 cautioned care in posting sensitive information, which could compromise my safety.

My previous blog offered evidence that the twittersphere is constantly being monitored. The current twitter interface exposures my recent tweets, my followers, and who I am following to cyberspace. And not everyone listening in is my friend. Yet, the twitter interface has mechanisms to lock data and only grant access to those who have my express permission. Also, Twitter administrators do police and suspend accounts for suspicious activity.

Is this enough?

At the 2009 EntConnect conference, business owners expressed their concern for the protection of their sensitive information. Bill French, the keynote speaker, pointed out that entrepreneurs have stepped up to fill this need with secure twitter-like applications.

Yammer is one of them. It is separate service to secure private information and allow safe collaboration on the web. Its basic service is free to companies. For a nominal fee, Yammer allows upgrades. And you can bet there are more companies out there that supply similar services.

Meanwhile, twitterers, as always, be safe!

Related links:

EntConnect website:


Michael Hyatt links:
Michael Hyatt:
Beginner's Guide:

Bill French links:

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Around the World in 80 Tweets

Twitter as a micro-blog can begin a conversation that is truly global. This can be seen, literally, with the following visual applications:

Twittearth maps a sampling of tweets on a 3D model of the world.

Likewise, Twittermap displays its samples on a goggle map.

Twittervision can toggle from a classic 2D map to a 3D model of the earth as the tweets roll in around the world.

With geocoding applications, twitter maps can display tweets for customized scenarios. An example is tracking attendees at a conference. A street map may be tailored to pinpoint the comments tweeted at specific locations within the campus of the event.

If you are into graphics, Twitter StreamGraphs allows the user to plot keywords versus time. This graph presents a visual model of how people are conversing on different subjects on the web throughout the public timeline.

As a part of marketing strategy, savvy companies strive to address consumer needs. Therefore, Cotweet, that’s for company tweet, can become an integral part of Customer Relation Management (CRM), helping companies reach and engage their customers.

All the above were more cool twitter applications Bill French shared at the 2009 EntConnect conference.

Bill gave a specific example of a twitterer complaining about her cable TV service. Shortly, a cable rep twittered her back asking how he could help. This is evidence that large organizations are regularly monitoring the conversation within twittersphere. And when a hot, new product is released, you can bet that tweets are taken most seriously.

Information is power, especially for a writer, who is taking the public pulse on any number of subjects. Yet, as twittering is exploding globally, this conversation creates responsibility, which will be the subject of my next blog.

Any thoughts on this brave new twitter world?

Related links:

EntConnect website:

Twitter and its applications:
Twitter StreamGraphs:

Bill French links:

Monday, April 20, 2009

Twitter on Steroids

The Twitter interface is an ugly environment. In spite of itself, there are 32 million twitters and growing.

In the keynote speech at the 2009 EntConnect conference, Bill French reminded us that. Since I’m hooked on Twitter and my followings have been increasing, I see what he means. I’m becoming overwhelmed, which kind of defeats the purpose of getting connected and starting a conversation in the first place.

One busy entrepreneur asked about the Twitter “Signal to Noise Ratio,” - that is tweets of interest versus the irrelevant. Truly one person’s noise is another person’s signal. How do we manage this?

Tweetdeck, an Adobe Air desktop application, was offered as a solution, which I am now using. It allows me to create groups, so I miss fewer tweets of interest. Yet, if I don’t frequently monitor the interface, older tweets can quickly roll off my TweetDeck and I still miss them. Also, I can’t use more than 10 columns, which is a limitation on creating multiple groups.

Bill demonstrated Twhirl, another desktop client. It can customize your dashboard so that more than one twitter account can display your tweets of interest in one neat column. Also, Twitter allows searching on keywords via, which pulls out tweets from the public timeline.

Another serendipitous find was from a twitter tweet tip, “Twitter tips & apps for journalists & everyone else.” This busy journalist listed many useful twitter applications on her blog:

I like what computers can do for me, but not what I have to do for computers. So I see a great future in the user friendly twitter applications which can be easily customized.

Do you have favorite user friendly applications? Any suggestions on how to effectively manage your tweets?

Related links:

EntConnect website:

Twitter and apps:
Twitter tips & apps for journalists & everyone else:

Bill French links:

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The Gist of it all

Gist. Merriam Wesbter defines it as “the main point or part : essence”

Writing can involve many aspects of Social Media. In addition to twitter, there are emails, blogs, facebook pages, forums, favorite sites we like to peruse, etc. It can be overwhelming tracking it all. And how do we make sense of all the babble?

True entrepreneurs see a need and move in to fill it.

Bill French, the keynote speaker at the 2009 EntConnect conference, presented Gist as a good monitoring tool to listen in what is going on. Gist allows you to customize your dashboard, displaying private vs. public information. Hence, Gist’s motto: “Where your inbox meets the web.”

Here are some benefits of Gist from their website:

From the “About Gist” page:

“Gist is an online service that helps you build stronger relationships. By connecting your inbox to the web, you get business-critical information about key people and companies.”

From their Index page:

“Control information overload. Emails, links, attachments, blog posts, news—all relevant data is organized and prioritized by contact.”

“Focus your time. Rank importance and fine-tune your experience to pinpoint specific news about your most important people and companies.”

“Discover new insights. Be the first to know about relevant news that gives you more opportunities to reconnect.”

Journalists could find Gist as an ideal tool to access and sort out timely information for articles. In general, whether fiction or non-fiction, writing involves organizing the chaos and focusing on thoughts to communicate a good story. Gist provides a model for that.

I have not tried this tool yet. But I’m glad I know about it. Anyone have any experiences with Gist that you would like to share?

Related links:

EntConnect website:

Monday, April 13, 2009

The Twitter Big Bang

The Big Bang has happened. Twitter is everywhere.

Need proof? 61 percent of TV sitcoms recently mentioned twitter.

So Bill French’s story began at the 2009 EntConnect conference.

What a timely topic. Last November, my writer’s group,
Words for the Journey
, had turned me on to twitter so I have an elementary understanding of it.

Bill French was the first of many presenters to speak on Social Media. He is one of the founders of MyST Technology Partners, Inc., which is “… focused on creating new and useful Web 2.0 products and services.”

Okay. What does Web 2.0 have to do with writing? Among many things, Web 2.0 facilitates communication and collaboration on the World Wide Web. And if you are reading this blog and commenting on it, you are doing just that.

Bill started with the basics.

Social Media participation necessitates two ideals:
1. Outbound messaging – How you message
2. Inbound monitoring – How you listen

The micro-blog tool, twitter, limits these information chunks to 140 characters.

Bill envisioned twitter like a giant water main, carrying an ever growing stream of information. In itself, twitter has no monetary value. The real value comes from the siphons. Applications tap into this stream of consciousness and derive meaningful information from this public timeline. Bill projected that by 2010 there will be 1100 twitter applications created to do just that.

As a writer, twitter and its applications can be a valuable tool for listening in the global conversation, gathering information, and starting a conversation, but certainly not ending it.

The following blogs, I will share some of the social media tools presented at the conference and how they may be of value to writers. And I would like to hear your thoughts, experiences, insights.

Related links:

EntConnect website:

Bill French links:

Wednesday, April 8, 2009


“Serendipity You’ll discover something you’re not expecting.” This is the theme of the annual EntConnect (Entrepreneur Connection) conferences held since 1992. “Learn. Share. Grow.”

Writing is a business and writers are entrepreneurs. Therefore, during the 2009 conference the end of March, I itched to hear the stories of small business owners and entrepreneurs from teenagers to retirees, especially in these challenging economic times.

Before kicking off the formal conference, we had the chance to relax and socialize with each other. In one memorable encounter, my opponent in a card game blurted out with a grin: “This game sure was more fun when I was winning!” So, it seems with writing (and life). I constantly struggle to summon the courage to get into the game, make the best of the hand that I have been dealt, and not give up when the game is not going my way.

The next two days, diverse presenters gave their observations from evolving technologies to the paradigm shifts in the markets. In the following blogs, I plan to share what I have gleaned from these entrepreneurs’ stories – their challenges and dreams and the lessons learned from their failures and successes – and apply those lessons to the craft of writing.

I would also like to hear your thoughts, opinions, insights, and your writing experiences. Together, we can live out the EntConnect conference theme – “Learn. Share. Grow.”

Please feel free to check out the EntConnect website:

They inspired me!

Monday, April 6, 2009

Greatest Generation recalls Great Depression

My mother-in-law just turned 91 years and is part of the "greatest generation" that is passing away. I'm grateful that she wrote down some of her memories from the Great Depression and World War II. As we see a parallel in our time, there seems to be a renewed interest in the Great Depression.

I have posted her first hand stories on my website:

I hope she writes more for we can learn from her wisdom.