From the Internet of Things to Video Moxy

I have the great privilege of hosting the xPotomac Conference every year with Patrick Ashamalla and Shonali Burke. We just published video recordings of our 2014 sessions, including our keynotes, on YouTube. You can see the whole channel here.

Here are each of the sessions:

KEYNOTE: Robert Scoble on The Age of Context



Find out more about Robert Scoble at facebook.com/RobertScoble.

Lauren Vargas, Digital Media in a Regulated Environment


Find out more about Lauren at rootreport.com/about/.

Toby Bloomberg, Broadcast and Print Media Adoption of Digital

Learn more about Toby here: about.me/TobyBloomberg.

Peter Corbett, The Internet of Things

Find out more about Peter at istrategylabs.com.

Danielle Brigida and Allyson Kapin, Disrupting Social Change

Find out more about Danielle at https://twitter.com/starfocus and Allyson at womenwhotech.com.

KEYNOTE: Jim Long, The Wild World of Video


Learn more about Jim at vergenewmedia.com.

The #xPotomac14 Compendium

xPotomac 2014 or #xPotomac14 was held last Friday at Georgetown University’s Copley Formal Lounge. Speakers include keynotes Robert Scoble, Jim Long, and session leaders Lauren Vargas, Toby Bloomberg, Peter Corbett, and Allyson Kapin and Danielle Brigida.

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Early reviews show a successful event. Mike Schaeffer wrote, “The 2014 edition [of xPotomac] brought it strong, with an array of presenters, that all told one major story: Success in communications and technology will be predominantly based on strategically taking advantage of opportunities in front of you.”

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Monica added, “What I found interesting was the fact that none of the speakers used extemporaneous PowerPoints. Instead, they used handhelds with colorful mind maps to remind them where they were in their talk (kudos to Kathryn Garrett for first pointing this out via Twitter). The result was more eye contact and audience interaction than you typically get when speakers are stuck in a pre-personal computer = overhead transparencies paradigm.”

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As you can see, people tweeted about the content throughout the conference. And tweet they did. xPotomac trended for 35 minutes on Friday making it the 68th most popular topic in the country that day, according to Trendinalia United States.

xPotomac14 Word Cloud

Official xPotomac influence partner Zoomph tallied more than 3100 tweets and Instagram updates with a reach of more than 20 million people were posted last week and through the weekend. Not bad for 100 people coming together for a few conversations. The above Zoomph word cloud shows the 50 most referenced words in all those tweets.

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Who was the greatest influencer of them all? Tinu Abayomi-Paul rocked her smartphone and took the prize, says Zoomph.

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Most folks said they had a lot of fun (including emcee Shana Glickfield, who photo bombed me), and enjoyed the conference more than last year’s. Further, it seems we’ve transcended the increasinly distant BlogPotomac series that served as a foundation for the current xPotomac.

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Co-founders Patrick Ashamalla (above), Shonali Burke and myself will bring xPotomac back next year at the Copley Formal Lounge thanks to our relationshiop with Georgetown’s Communications, Culture and Technology program. Look for more great speakers like Robert, Jim, Danielle and Allyson (pictured below), Toby, Peter and Lauren. In the interim, you can see all my photos from the event here. And we will roll out videos of the individual speaker sessions over the next month or so.

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Thank you to everyone — attendee, sponsor and of course, our speakers — who made xPotomac happen. What did you think of #xPotomac14?

P.S. Since publishing, Brian Conlin published his “Six Brain-Bending Ideas from xPotomac 2014” on the Vocus blog. Check it out.

12 Books to Read

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Writers read, right? At least they are supposed to… Since spring break is here, and many of us have begun traveling for the annual conference season, here are some books I hope to read.

Fiction

John Scalzi’s Redshirts: When I read fiction, I lean towards scifi with a focus on cyberpunk or hard science fiction in the Asimovian vein.

Redshirts is a hilarious play off of Star Trek, the original TV show. Junior away team members try to avoid getting killed! I’m halfway through and have caught myself laughing out loud several times. I highly recommend this book if you need a something light.

Colum McCann’s Let the Great World Spin: A National Book Award winner, this book takes us back to New York City of the World Trade Center towers in the 1970s. Hailed as a literary masterpiece, Great World Spin looks tense and captivating. Plus I’m always up for a good Bronx Tale.
Continue reading “12 Books to Read”

Network Solutions Matches $1000 in NextGen Tech Women Donations

Julie & Kami
Zoetica’s Julie Pippert and Kami Huyse

With just two days left in the NextGen Tech Women fundraiser, the team of Danny Brown, Allyson Kapin, Julie Pippert, Kami Huyse and yours truly has raised more than $2,200. All proceeds are going to the National Center for Women In Technology’s 2011 and their Award for Aspirations in Computing, which recognizes young women in high-school for their computing- related achievements and interests. Now, Network Solutions and its Women Grow Business initiative has joined the effort with a matching grant for the next $1,000 in donations (you can donate here)!

As a father of a beautiful young lady and a partner in a majority woman owned business, the reasons to participate and support NCWIT seem obvious. But in the spirit of NetSol’s fantastic contribution, here is a top ten list of reasons why you should back the next generation of women in technology.

10. Women garner just 9% of all angel investment funds, yet they have the same approval rate for applications as their male peers. Educating women to succeed in this market needs to happen!

9. There is an attitude within women’s conversations on the topic that they are meek, don’t share ideas in meetings, routinely discount ourselves, are bad at math and science, and are responsible for twice as much of the housework than men and three times the childcare. Blogger Lisa Barone explains why this is not every woman’s attitude.

8. Sunday is Mother’s Day and what better way to celebrate the great woman in your life then a donation to support tomorrow’s great women?

7. Some male investors still believe that women will neglect their businesses in favor of their children (while men are better at abandoning their kids for business?). See how Paige Craig worked through his prejudices and invested in a female founder.

6. Women-run tech startups generate more revenue per invested capital and fail less then those led by men, according to New York Entrepreneur Week. Hmm, makes you think that matching 14% angel invest rate is off.

5. Within our own little corner of the tech sector, women are often denied speaking engagements. Men dominate! And that is in spite of the fact that a strong majority of social media communicators are women.

4. The gender wage gap is not expected to pull even until 2057. Yes, 46 years from now. Today, women have to work 2.6 hours more per day to achieve the same wages as their male counterparts. Yeah.

3. “Wishful thinking and arguing about female founders, entrepreneurs or gender roles is overriding recognition of the powerful role that the female consumer is already playing in technology.” Read the ensuing stats on women’s incredible use of technology as posted by TheIceBreak CEO Christina Brodbeck.

2. “Companies, including information technology, with the highest percentages of women board directors outperformed those with the least by 66%,” according to research by Catalyst.

1. And most importantly, Network Solutions is matching your donation (up to $1000)! What better reason do you need than twice the giving power? Donate today!

Celebrating 5 Years of Blogging with NextGen Tech Women

This coming Saturday will mark my five year “blogoversary”. A laborious blog post lavishing personal reflections doesn’t feel right. As more time passes, such inward focused accolades tend to make me uncomfortable. Writers write, that’s what we do, and for me blogging is writing, an activity I will likely partake in the rest of my life. It is an honor not only to write, but to be read, and so I want to thank you my readers. To celebrate, I’m breaking this blog’s rule of not using the first person, and asking you to join me in a two week campaign benefiting the next generation of technology women (see my fundraising page).

I have several reasons for wanting to support women in tech, not least of which is that this side of the technology sector — communications media — is dominated by women AND both of my business partners in Zoetica, Kami Huyse and Beth Kanter, are women in tech. But before going in depth into why this matters to me, I’d like to provide some details into the actual cause.

The competitive NextGen Tech Women fundraiser (Allyson Kapin, Danny Brown, Julie Pippert, and Amber Mac also have independent teams) will benefit the National Center for Women & Information Technology’s (NCWIT) Award for Aspirations in Computing. The award recognizes young women in high-school for their computing- related achievements and interests. By generating visibility for these young women in their local communities, the Award encourages their continued interest in computing, attracts the attention and support of educational and corporate institutions, and emphasizes at a personal level the importance of women’s participation in computing.

Anyone can join us and start their own fundraiser. We are going to continue until Thursday, May 5, with a final big push in celebration of Mother’s Day. NextGen Tech Women hopes to achieve $25,000 in donations from individuals. Anything helps, $25, $50 or $100, please give what you can.

Supporting Women In Tech

Soleil, the Google Baby

In last winter’s series of conversations with Robert Scoble, Danny Brown and dozens of commenters about the gender imbalance in the technology industry, several things became clear to me. Blogging about the problem won’t help, and that action needs to be taken highlighting successful, capable women current and future in this sector. It is only through supporting, encouraging and highlighting women in tech that the larger industry will be forced to reckon with what the statistics already show: Executive women in tech companies equate to better run, more profitable enterprises. Thus, my support for NextGen Tech Women.

There is a real need for this. Here are several attitudes that have been revealed or alluded to me as I have blogged about this topic over the years:

  • We try to find women speakers, but there aren’t any out there. That’s why they don’t submit to speak
  • Women in tech are not really tech women if they are not coders
  • If a women is not a CEO, she is not qualified to speak about technology
  • Women are their own worst enemies, and hold themselves back

These statements really bug me. Whether you feel they are true or not, they are all statements that show a system architected towards men. The irony of the middle two statements is that they are often repeated and espoused by men who are often not coders, and often not CEOs. When considering my daughter Soleil’s future (pictured above), I think this is the kind of ignorance she will have to swim upstream against.

I know she can do it if she wants to. It’s in her blood. My maternal grandmother was a successful entrepreneur twice, first owning her own art gallery in Phoenix, then running a winery in Provence. My mom still has the largest syndication of any astrologer in English speaking newspapers globally. But I’d rather try to address this problem now, perhaps her road may become easier, just as today’s women have benefited from the equal rights era decades ago.

Raised in the family that I was, I know that women just like men can set their mind on a goal and achieve it. If given the opportunity,they can be great in any profession. Greatness is a human possibility, not a gender specific one. That’s why we need to support women in technology, and give everyone a level playing field.

I hope you will join me over the next two weeks, and donate, participate, discuss, and share about this important issue. I shared some of the strong women in my life, past and present. Who are some of the great female role models you have known?