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A $500,000 Foursquare Swarm Badge Party

Posted by Handshake 2.0 at 10:31 AM on June 30, 2010:

"Foursquare has yet to figure out how to turn its growing popularity into a business."
-
Wall Street Journal, 6/28/10

I found 5 Ways Foursquare is Changing the World quite inspiring.  I joined 1 million users on Foursquare in April 2010, entered my office into Foursquare as "Handshake 2.0 Headquarters," and experienced a thrill when I became the Mayor of Handshake 2.0

Almost three months later, I've seen the terminology describing Foursquare evolve from "location-based mobile app," to "geolocation-based social network," to hot geospatial app.  I'm now one of 1.7 million users.    I ousted the mayor of what serves as my other office, The Weight Club, "served" as Mayor of The Weight Club for many weeks, but was recently ousted myself. 

I hosted a networking meeting for 10 people at my office last night.  Since none of them is on Foursquare, I'm still the only person who has checked into Handshake 2.0 Headquarters.

Assuming Foursquare's 1.7 million users are in the U.S., and approximating the U.S. population at 310 million, that means .5 percent of the U.S. population uses Foursquare, or 5 in every 1000. 

What does it all mean?  Here are a few of my observations and insights.

  • Going to new places, launching Foursquare, and watching a list of locations that my smart phone's GPS "finds" still feels a bit like magic.
  • Mr. Handshake 2.0 will corroborate this - and he's very kind about it - I have an archivist's nature and I find great pleasure in recording and storing data.  Our basement contains probably 50 file boxes archiving what I know.  Foursquare very satisfyingly archives where I go.
  • Classical conditioning trumps advanced technology.  I connected my Foursquare account with my Twitter account so my locations are broadcast each time I change them.  When a user has achieved a Foursquare milestone - criteria known only to Foursquare - Foursquare sends a Twitter update that feels like a public accolade. More, please! That was reinforcing.  But when I got ousted as mayor of The Weight Club, I realized with disappointment that I will always lose at Foursquare.  I go places to do things, not to just go there. Why check into a place on Foursquare? The mayor is already there.

After all that, for Handshake 2.0's second anniversary celebration, why are we hosting a Foursquare Swarm Badge Party, our locale's second attempt to earn the badge requiring 50 people in the same place at the same time?  Two reasons.

  • Whenever I check into Foursquare and see one of my Foursquare "friends" at the same location, or nearby, I am delighted and hurry to find them.  I am human.  I treasure connection.  Foursquare connects.
  • I'd like to join with my locale in figuring out Foursquare.  Business model or no, Foursquare just got another round of funding, this time for $20 million, equivalent to $10,000 $10 for each of its almost 2 million users.  If we get a Foursquare Swarm Badge on July 28, 2010 with 50 people in one place at the same time, that's a $500,000 $500 party.  Who knows what could happen for a locale with that kind of economic value?
  • Added 7/3/2010.  Oops! We corrected our math above and in Why Foursquare? 

Verizon commercial featuring Foursquare on an Android (not pink?) via Mashable.

My Other Office - The Weight Club

Posted by Handshake 2.0 at 10:09 AM on June 30, 2010:

When Katelyn Polantz of the Roanoke Times completed her interview with me, she requested a photo session, candids required.  Handshake 2.0 Headquarters is a home office that tends to remain in a state of dishevelment. My virtual residence, VT KnowledgeWorks, was nixed because it's my meeting place, not my work place.    

I am grateful to Justin Cook, Roanoke Times Staff Photographer, for capturing this image of a moment among the many treasured moments I have spent among countless visits to my "other" office:  The Weight Club.

Kudos to a Reporter

Posted by Handshake 2.0 at 9:38 AM on June 30, 2010:

I want to thank Katelyn Polantz of The Roanoke Times for including me in her article Startups in lean times and for hearing me.  Not only am I accurately quoted, but the essence of our half-hour conversation is distilled in her Q & A format.  For her integrity, skill and art, when I have news, I will share it with Katelyn Polantz first.

A much greater context

Anne Giles Clelland is the owner of Handshake Media in Blacksburg. She began the social media services company in late 2008, after 15 years in teaching. She's 51 years old.

Q: Why are you doing this?

A: It's the possibility to make a change. It's the possibility to offer opportunity to others.

Q: Is this your first business venture?

I had a Web site development company 10 years ago. It was not profitable, and I had to close it down. I am the classic "yes, I have failed" entrepreneur. I am not going to fail this time.

I'm a woman. I'm 50. I'm a sprint triathlete, and I have seen some things. It seems like the perfect culmination and synthesis of my life experience, my credentials and my expertise.

Q: What's it like to start a business that late in life?

A: My father's 77. My grandmother's 100. I have only begun my career. I have a long, healthy life ahead of me, genetically.

Q: Are there benefits or challenges because of your age?

A: It's the best time to start a business in almost every way. What is it that I have now at 50 that I didn't have at 25? I have perspective. I have a vista. I can see how pieces can fit into a wider view. I have a much greater context in which to make choices.

via www.roanoke.com

The full story of Startups in lean times includes profiles of Frederick Cook of Actifity and Amanda Miller Bass of Star City Gardens.

My father and mother are both 77 and were born in the same hospital in Lynchburg, Virginia within four days of each other.  I mentioned my father in the interview because he, too, is an entrepreneur and is launching Rural System.

Handshake 2.0's Anniversary Party 2.0

Posted by Handshake 2.0 at 2:44 PM on June 29, 2010:

Handshake 2.0's second anniversary party! Handshake 2.0 launched on July 28, 2008.

With gratitude and thanks to our Handshake clients, we're going to celebrate two years in business.

To celebrate Handshake 2.0's second anniversary, we're holding a Foursquare Swarm Badge Party 2.0 (we tried 1.0 earlier this year) - in Blacksburg, Virginia - 50 people, same location, same time, all on Foursquare - on July 28, 2010 at Bull & Bones in Blacksburg, Virginia.

You're invited!

Handshake 2.0 is honored that the Blacksburg, Virginia office of Hutchison Law Group, headed by Ken Maready, is co-sponsoring the event with us.

Since the theme is 2.0, we're "doubling down."  For our 1.0 attempt to earn a Fousquare Swarm Badge, we offered a free beverage to the first 50 people to arrive and check in on Foursquare.  This time we're offering two free beverages to the first 50 to arrive and check in on Foursquare.  If you're not on Foursquare, we'll give you a ticket for one free beverage. :)

Not on Foursquare?  If you'd like to be, here's where to get started.

Handshake 2.0's Anniversary Party 2.0
Foursquare Swarm Badge Party 2.0
sponsored by Handshake 2.0 and Hutchison Law Group

Wednesday, July 28, 2010
6:00 PM
Bull & Bones Brewhaus and Grill
First & Main on South Main Street
Blacksburg, Virginia

We invite you to let us know you'll attend on the Handshake 2.0 Anniversary Party 2.0 event page on Facebook.

These posts offer more details about Foursquare, a Swarm Badge, our first Swarm Badge Party, and geolocation-based social networks:  "Checking In" to Location-Based NetworksFoursquare Swarm Badge PartyLocation, Location, Location - Geolocation, That is!, and Social Media Gelocation Applications by the Numbers.

Our first Swarm Badge Party made SwarmBadgeParty.com.

We look forward to sharing a swarm of handshakes with you on July 28 in Blacksburg, Virginia!

Handshake 2.0 turned 1.0 on July 28, 2009.

We were delighted and honored to be included in this Roanoke Times article.

Fantastic graphic by Kelsey Sarles

59 Chats and Counting: Hosting an Online Chat the SmallBizLady Way

Posted by Z. Kelly Queijo at 6:36 AM on June 29, 2010:

Veteran business coach Melinda F. Emerson, president, MFE Consulting, LLC, is a woman on a mission and that mission is to end small business failure. Knowing the critical importance of building a strong network, Emerson turned to Twitter and began hosting SmallBizChat in April of 2009.  “I wanted to create a vehicle for start-up and emerging entrepreneurs to ask questions in a safe environment and learn about things that could come up as a problem in their small businesses down the road.”

Melinda Emerson, SmallBizLadyTogether with Cathy Larkin (@cathywebsavvypr) as co-host, and her virtual assistant, Sonia Schenker (@yourjobmyoffice) who transcribes the chat, these three women have built a following that draws over a hundred participants contributing more than 800 tweets for the hour-long chat. 

Even with 59 chats under her belt, Emerson doesn't claim to know it all. “I learn something every week. Technology is great, but it is not guaranteed to work. There are limits to communicating in 140 characters.”

To compensate for these limitations, Emerson not only publishes the chat's transcript, but also publishes a Q&A from each #Smallbizchat on her blog every Thursday morning, following the chat so that  people who do not use Twitter can benefit from the information as well.

SmallBizLady formula for a successful online chat

1. Use a script.  Emerson posts questions for the experts using Q1 for the first question, Q2, Q3, and so on, with answers carrying the notation A1, A2, etc. to make it easy to follow the conversation and the transcript.

2. Have an expert guest and network of supporters who will chime in and add great value to the conversation.

3. Publish a Q & A the next day for non-Twitter users.

Emerson is finding chats work.  "As a small business coach, my mission is to end small business failure.  #Smallbizchat is one way that I work towards my goal."

#SmallBizChat takes place every Wednesday at 8 p.m., Eastern. You're invited to follow Melinda Emerson @SmallBizLady on Twitter.

From Handshake 2.0:

Melinda Emerson is a Virginia Tech alumna and spoke at Virginia Tech on March 16, 2010.

***

Z. Kelly Queijo is the founder of SmartCollegeVisit and a frequent contributor ro Handshake 2.0. You're invited to follow SmartCollegeVisit on Twitter, @collegevisit where she hosts #CampusChat on Wednesdays at 9 PM Eastern, immediately following #SmallBizChat.

Those posts by Z. Kelly Queijo may also be of interest:

Easy Ways to Keep in Step with a Twitter Chat
How to Rock on a Twitter Chat
Twitter Tools for #CampusChat

An Android Pretty in Pink

Posted by Handshake 2.0 at 8:30 AM on June 28, 2010:

Anne Clelland's new BlackBerry CurveI love my BlackBerry Curve in its pink cover.  I'm not sure how it happened, but I got a one-year contract, not a two-year, which has now expired.

Renew, upgrade, or switch?

For a mobile device, connection is my top priority - both human and electronic.  I want to have the most-used mobile device and platform so I can be connected to the many, not the few.

According to comScore, RIM, manufacturers of the BlackBerry, was the leading mobile smartphone platform with 41% of U.S. smartphone subscribers in February 2010.

Verizon is my carrier and AT&T has intermittent coverage in my area.  Keeping with the top priority, to stay connected, I need to stay with Verizon.  Verizon offers service for the BlackBerry and the Android.

If I go with the current numbers, for greatest connectivity, I need to stick with the BlackBerry.  But I'll be in for a two-year contract this time.  What numbers do the next two years hold?

According to TechCrunch's reading of the comScore data, the Android is gaining on the iPhone.  And according to an AdMob survey, developers have plans for the Android platform.  TechCrunch announced on June 23, 2010 that 160,000 Androids are being sold per day.

My future may hold a Droid.

ReadWriteWeb asks, "Why are so many Android owners male?"  It cites ad copy from a 2009 TV commercial:  "Droid. Should a phone be pretty?.... No. It's not a princess. It's a robot. A phone that trades hair-do for can-do."

Sigh.

Get the Droid Incredible now?  Wait for the heart-stealing Droid X?

A case for the Droid Incredible comes in hot pink. Ah, now here's a cover for the Droid X

Princess pink.

Who's in FRONT? David Cohan

Posted by Handshake 2.0 at 7:00 AM on June 28, 2010:

David Cohan
David Cohan is an attorney in Roanoke, Virginia.  He is featured in the June 2010 issue of Valley Business FRONT.

Valley Business FRONT is the monthly magazine for in-depth business news in the Roanoke Valley and the New River Valley of Virginia. You're invited to read moreFRONT and to follow Valley Business FRONT on Twitter, @vbFRONT.

Photo credit: Dan Smith

Starting Up a Network of Local Women Entrepreneurs

Posted by Handshake 2.0 at 7:30 AM on June 25, 2010:

A network offers collective knowledge, experience and wisdom In the New York Times article Women and Technology and Myth, Adriana Gardella interviews Cindy Padnos, founding managing director of Illuminate Ventures, about the presence - and absence - of women-founded companies in technology.  According to Padnos's research, "women recently gained less than 10 percent of venture investment in the high-tech sector."  Part of the Q and A in the interview goes like this:

Q. What accounts for the funding gap?

A.  ...Women face a challenge that is similar to the one Indian immigrant entrepreneurs - at least the male ones -  have overcome. In the early ’80s, talented, well-trained and entrepreneurial Indians came to the United States to fill positions created by our shortage of I.T. professionals. Back then, they were viewed as cannon fodder for tech start-ups, typically holding junior, low-level engineering positions but rarely sitting at the controls. That’s changed dramatically, particularly in the last five years.

Q. What happened?

A.  I asked these guys how they did it, and they told me it took 30 years. Many of them were part of successful teams. Eventually, they attained management positions and gained equity and wealth. Motivated by a strong belief that they had been treated like second-class citizens, one successful Indian entrepreneur turned around and helped finance another. In many ways, they’ve mapped the road for women. Although women don’t generally share the immigrant mentality, which pushes foreign-born groups to band together and help one another.

I cited this source in Your Local Women Entrepreneurs, an expression of regret that a mentoring and support network for women entrepreneurs does not exist in my locale.  Lively comments on the post ensued, some asking in so many words, "How do we create a network for women entrepreneurs?"

My plan is to follow the Indian entrepreneur model.  I'm going to do my very best to become a successful entrepreneur that turns around and helps finance another.  Ideally, the one I fund will fund the next one, and so on.  In the meantime, I am meeting in small groups with the women entrepreneurs I do know, attempting to begin the process of "banding together and helping one another." 

My plan has its challenges.  The great power of a network is its collective knowledge, experience and wisdom.  As the founder of a two-year old company, I have little experience to offer a network and, therefore, little power to give it. 

That said, I have drive and passion and determination.  So do the women entrepreneurs I know.  That's the kind of power that gets enterprises started.

A local mentoring and support network for women entrepreneurs is in enterprise start-up mode.  For more information, please contact Handshake 2.0.

Low-Cut Blouses at Work - Workplace Advice

Posted by Handshake 2.0 at 6:00 AM on June 24, 2010:

Getting a Grip - Personal workplace advice from Handshake 2.0 Dear Getting a Grip:  The women at my office and their low-cut blouses…  What are they thinking wearing bar-hopping attire to work?  A guy’s gotta look, doesn’t he?  I’m not a creep, a stalker, or a predator.  I’m a healthy, heterosexual male.  Will you tell the ladies to at least button up one more button so I can get back to work?

Dear Not a Creep:  While I don’t have the power or interest to impose a dress code, I can see your point of view.  Literally and figuratively.  People select clothing for reasons ranging from indifference, to adornment, to tradition, to intent.  Should co-workers wear this and not that?  Unless a company dress code exists and management enforces it, the question doesn’t really matter.  Our particular morals or taste have no control over what, how much, or how little our co-workers wear.

A guy may think he’s gotta look, but it’s dangerous corporate territory.  Whether you look, joke about the desire to look with co-workers, or talk over the looking with a manager, you’re right that you can look like a creep.  You may also be accused of sexual harassment, which is legally actionable.

Getting a  Grip: What we give our attention to ultimately is a matter of choice, whether to an office mate’s cleavage, to the plumber’s half-exposed rump, or to a rose-tinted sunrise.  None of those “make” us look, although we may not be fully conscious of choosing.  When we feel like something outside of us is driving our choices, we’ve given our control to it and we’re no longer behind the wheel.  While it may feel natural to look, it’s natural to feel hunger and wait to eat.  Figure out what’s taking your sense of choice and power from you at work, and take back that wheel.  After work, places abound where it’s not only permissible, but expected, that you sit back and look and look and look.

***

Need to start “Getting a Grip” on a personal problem at work?  Need workplace advice?  E-mail your question to [email protected].

Getting a Grip, a workplace advice column, is written by Anne Giles Clelland  Getting a Grip  regrets that not all questions can be answered, personal replies are not possible, and questions may be edited for brevity and clarity.

Getting a Grip appears monthly in Valley Business FRONT.  A version of this column appeared in the January 2010 issue.

Using Amazon Mechanical Turk for Blog Post Research

Posted by Handshake 2.0 at 7:56 AM on June 23, 2010:

For a post on Women and Smartphones, I searched for answers myself, hired a researcher, and still was missing data.  A colleague recommended Amazon Mechanical Turk.

According to Amazon Web Services, "Amazon Mechanical Turk is a marketplace for work that requires human intelligence. The Mechanical Turk web service enables companies to programmatically access this marketplace and a diverse, on-demand workforce. Developers can leverage this service to build human intelligence directly into their applications."

Frankly, I wasn't really hoping to "make accessing human intelligence simple, scalable, and cost-effective." I sought the fundamentals of an excellent blog  post - information with links to corroborate it.

The lofty, high-tech "human intelligence" terminology of MTurk did make me wonder if I were registering with the Borg, but the Amazon brand engendered trust, as did the word-of-mouth referral from my colleague.  When I do a swim workout, I don't test the water with a toe.  I jump in.  Online, I jump in, too - after very carefully reading the Terms of Service.  I signed up.

Amazon Mechanical Turk

Like with iStockphoto, one pays up front for credits and then uses them as desired.

This is a thorough description of Amazon Mechanical Turk on Wikipedia.  I am so not an expert on Mechanical Turk.  I struggled with learning the user interface, it continues to make me insane, the terminology seems obscure to me (a HIT is not an act of violence, but a Human Intelligence Task, translated in my mind as "the thing I want done"), and parts of it I just don’t get.  Ah, well.  Regardless, I’ve figured out how to access the expertise of others to assist me with my work creating blog posts.  I offer my inexpert, laboriously acquired suggestions.

  • Watch the “Get Started” and “Best Practices” videos and read the Best Practices Guide (.pdf). I didn’t.  I got needlessly frustrated and, as warned against in Myst, I thrashed.
  • Create HITs with one question per HIT. I didn’t.  I spent a lot of time creating a multi-question query that never got answered because it wasn't worth a Worker's time.
  • Create the first HIT and publish it and see what happens. I didn’t.  I got taught the same lesson about the imprecision of my wording multiple times very quickly in rapid succession.
  • Word questions and directions specifically.  I got taught by receiving information different from what I wanted in my first published HITs that I wasn’t helping MTurk Workers help me.
  • Pay to learn. I paid for tasks completed, even if the information wasn’t quite what I had in mind, because the Workers were answering my question rather than reading my mind.  I've only rejected two tasks because even my poorly worded questions were answered incorrectly.
  • Copy the results.  When a task is completed and the results are viewed for the first time, copy and paste the text of the results into a Word document or text file. I’m sure it’s an ID10T error on my part, but my attempts to view the results a second time have failed.  The "Export Results" tab generates an Excel file that contains some kind of data, but not the answer to the question I asked.
  • Let go of not knowing the person doing the work or being able to thank them for a job well done. MTurk interactions are as brief as Twitter tweets, but impersonal, anonymous and, by definition, mechanical. This feels incomplete to me, but I go with it.
  • Be embarrassed to offer too low of pay. Anonymity still requires integrity.  I was horrified to learn my inexperience resulted in HITs that paid $2.00 an hour. I now weigh the complexity of the HIT and carefully rate it to pay what I would pay someone I know - at least minimum wage.

Feel free to use this template I've devised through MUCH trial and error learning.  The question uses variables in hopes of showing how asking the basic questions of journalism can help formulate a specific question.

How many x did y in this locale in this year?

Please answer with a NUMBER, not a percentage.

[Insert text box to collect Worker's answer to question.]
 
Provide the URL of the web site that links to the source of that answer.

Please provide a URL to an original source, not to to a secondary source or aggregator of content.  The site you find needs to have links to other sources so I can prove that the number is reliable and accurate.

[Insert text box to collect Worker's link.]

Thank you very much!

Using Amazon Mechanical Turk definitely feels like being on Star Trek at times, but here's an example of why I treasure it and believe I have only begun to use its power. 

The number of women smartphone users in the U.S. in 2009 seems to be a highly guarded marketing research secret.  Neither I nor my researchers could find the answer anywhere.  An Amazon Mechanical Turk Worker responded to my query:

26,486,000 = 26.486 million|number of women in US 2009 =

155.8 million from this link = http://www.infoplease.com/spot/womencensus1.html

and the users of smartphone 17% from this link =

http://www.marketingcharts.com/interactive/mobile-phones-beat-pcs-for-young-women-9608/srg-technology-most-impact-life-women-june-2009jpg

so " 155.8 million * 17% = 26.486 million "

Whoever you are and wherever you are, Mechanical Turk Worker, receiving your intelligent answer felt like an act of humanity.

***

These may prove of further interest about Amazon Mechanical Turk:

The New Demographics of Mechanical Turk, Panos Ipeirotis
Some use Mechanical Turk to collect data for studies through surveys
The Ethics of Amazon.com's Mechanical Turk, The Chronicle of Higher Education
Views from a Mechnical Turk Worker and Turking4aLiving

Added 12/26/2010:

Using Mechanical Turk for Research, Michael Ewen, Carnegie Mellon University

Added 2/5/2011:
Mechanical Serfdom is Just That, Bloomberg Businessweek