Oil: Key Players and Movements

Here’s a fascinating interactive map summarizing who’s producing oil and where it’s going (click image to go to the map). The key takeaway here folks is that 13.6 million barrels are coming into the USA each day.

That means that at $100 per barrel, we’re exporting nearly $1.4 billion  in wealth every day.  Where’s our renewables energy policy, Washington D.C.???

Microblogs for Business Development – Do’s and Don’ts

It’s always nice to pick up an unexpected call from a friend or colleague you haven’t spoken to for a while. It’s even more exciting when you get no less than four in one day asking you about “this Twitter thing you keep talking about”. Since I’m a sworn enemy of reinventing the wheel, I looked for a microblogging guide for business development people. There’s a number of out there from Chris Brogan, Guy Kawasaki, Peter Kim, and Mike Mindel, but they mostly attempt to address the “why”. I’d like to address the “how”.

But First, a (Brief) Summary of Why.

If you’re already on Twitter, Jaiku, or Seesmic (video), just skip this paragraph and keep reading below. Microblogs are short messaging systems enabling open conversations anyone can join. I say short because messages (called “tweets” in Twitter) are limited to only 140 characters. It’s “open” can send a tweet via phone or web or application, and anyone can “listen” to me via phone or web or an application. This is not like email – by default, you don’t need an invite to listen in to my conversations, and I can follow yours should I wish. You’re welcome to see I’m talking about right now by clicking here and check out my “inbox” here. Go ahead – take the plunge.

Ok, Now Let’s Get To How to Use Microblogs ..

Follow What’s Happening – Right Now. Microblogs are where the bleeding edge of the bleeding edge is occuring with increasing frequency. In fact, Twitter was buzzing with activity seconds after a recent San Francisco Bay Area earthquake, becoming the defacto early warning signal among the web 2.0 cognoscenti (the phenomenon has been dubbed “Twitterquake“). It is much the same with Web trends. I found out about Microsoft buying a stake in Facebook first on Twitter. By the time stories like that hit media sites, they’ve been shared, analyzed and dissected throughly on a massive scale. Indeed, when I moved back to California mid year, Twitter was my primary means of getting up to speed with developments and trends.

Build a Personal Brand. Microblogs are a fantastic way to open up conversations to people with similar interests and build peer to peer following. The best community-building example I’ve seen recently is Seesmic CEO Loic LeMeur’s decision to lifestream his startup experience using his own product. By chronicling his day to day startup experience, he’s doing more than just building awareness of Seesmic. He’s making his name synonymous with video blogging and startups in general. Hugh Mcleod calls a microbrand; I call this branding you just can’t buy.

Hire, Get Hired, or See Who’s Hiring. Twitter and Jaiku are your directory of choice if you’re looking to hire the up and comers who are on the bleeding edge of what’s happening on the web. One prime example is my friend Jeremiah, who microblogged his passions for the web and transitioned that interest into a great career with Forrester (he agrees the conversation hot spot has shifted from blogs to microblogs). It’s perfectly natural for a serial microblogger to reach out to the network when in need of people or when looking for the next great opportunity. You can’t get any earlier insight into who’s moving and who’s growing than that.

Nurture Relationships Constantly. Microblogging makes relationship maintenance easier, since tweets and other short missives are much quicker to write up than emails or letters are. For a busy professional, this means maximizing the number of “touches” in a limited amount of time. Invite your network of friends into the conversation and make them a part of your lifestream – and find new relationships while you’re at it. It’s what you do for a living isn’t it?

And How Not to Use Microblogs ..

Don’t blatantly advertise. I know what you’re thinking, being the alpha type, Your first instinct may be to directly advertise on twitter, jaiku or seesmic. Don’t. Would-be followers will tune off the spam-stream quickly the way they tune out television ads. Instead, approach twitter as a conversation with others regarding things you find interesting or interesting things you’re doing. Try to build a personal brand as indicated above, and have people come to you to discuss matters of interest, and build a network of prospects that way instead.

Don’t Take Non-Subscribes Personally. You may find people you subscribe to don’t choose reciprocate. It’s generally considered good manners to do so, however, there is realistically no way someone high profile can follow thousand conversation starters in any meaningful way, so some may not choose to tag you back. Don’t worry, be happy.

Don’t Air Your Dirty Laundry. Remember: by default your communications are publicly accessible to the world. Hence, if you’re not comfortable with placing that microblog message on a large billboard off a densely congested highway with your name on it, you shouldn’t microblog it either!


Life (and Moose) Imitates Art

A Norwegian news site reports that a young boy saved his sister from a violent moose attacking her by “taunting” the moose to chase him. The boy then “feigned death”,”just like you learn in level 30 in World of warcraft”, which ostensibly caused the moose to lose aggro and leave.

That’s the little level 30 hunter to the left. I’m not sure I buy into this whole story, but it’s a humorous reminder of how much online activity has weaved its way into the mainstream conciousness. If it is true, I’m glad the little tyke didn’t let his sister “spirit run” back…

Original post in English is on WOW insider here.

CLEARly Uneccessary

If you haven’t heard about Clear, it is a fast-pass program designed for frequent flyers to get them through airport security in an expedited manner. In exchange for your $99 US, you get online signed up, background checked, retina scanned, fingerprinted, and issued a spiffy id card including a geek-fabulous microchip.

That spiffy card gets you what I’d call an airport valet, who verifies your identity, then discreetly whisks you away to the metal detectors with no waiting. As the Clear website “How it Works” section describes it, “.. members still proceed through metal detectors and x-ray machines” but adds “when you approach the lane, our attendants will help you with the bins and to get ready to go through the checkpoint. This alone helps our lane speed by as much as 30%!” Blogger Anil Dash signed up for the service and posts his experience here. It’s a good description first person account, although he’s missing the biggest problem with all of this. I’m not talking about the obvious privacy issues, nor the fact that nothing screams elitist asshole more than paying for airport line jumping.

Here’s the real question: How does this increase security? Answer: it doesn’t, and you’d be hardpressed to believe otherwise unless you’re shooting dopamine. Let’s step back to 9/11 a moment – would Mohammed Atta and his merry men have batted an eyelash about retina scans and such? Why would invasion of privacy matter to guy who is about to die? Furthermore, I’m not sold on the recurring security checks either – we’ve seen suposedly normal people turn radicalized before, and it’s unlikely Clear will help Homeland Security catch this any faster than the present. If the opposite turns out to be true then Homeland Security is a useless middleman, and need to be abolished.

You might be wondering why Homeland Security would buy into this awkward situation. If you’re not, I’m going to tell you anyway. Flying Clear get you the nightclub velvet rope experience, but more importantly allows you to subsidize a function that Homeland Security is supposed to cover (using your tax dollars I might add). It’s a nice chunk of change if Clear CEO Steve Brill’s claim that 30-50% of weekday flyers will be registered by 2009 comes to fruition. What’s even better for Homeland Sec. is bypassing the endless CSPAN privacy deliberations sure to come if they have the TSA handle it. It’s much easier to let the private sector run with it, which bypasses this silly democratic process stuff.

Update 06.23.2009: It appears CLEAR has gone bust. The website now displays the following message:

Clear Lanes Are No Longer Available.

At 11:00 p.m. PST on June 22, 2009, Clear will cease operations. Clear’s parent company, Verified Identity Pass, Inc. has been unable to negotiate an agreement with its senior creditor to continue operations.