My kind of social media or medium

Wednesday, September 23rd, 2009

My job is to think about and to discuss the potential of newer Internet tools to better connect businesses to their constituents. It’s a tough sell to persuade business school educated executives that the likes of Facebook and Twitter are making a permanent difference. The only rock that I am able to cling to is the example of Apple’s iTunes as it didn’t sell a song ten years ago and now rules the music distribution business without much complaint by its own customers. I find the resistance to this trend of facilitating people to people connections to be as curious as I find the eruption of confidence in the stock market over the past three or four months with a 50{915b2618a7c304f461205894c34b2284541042d3c677679407e2f30838792dcd} improvement in the market’s performance. Maybe we over-corrected and are just getting to the level of proper adjustment since the collapse in 9/08?! My personal evidence of the sluggish state of things is the merchants with whom I speak in our RTP: one hotel near RTP is down more than 50{915b2618a7c304f461205894c34b2284541042d3c677679407e2f30838792dcd} in room-nights over the past year and the barber says that the back-to school-cuts for women and college girls is no where near usual levels. And the dollar for travelers is at a one year low. The flights may be inexpensive to Europe, the coffee and accommodations will not be upon arrival. Pessimistic nature accounted, I’d prefer a sober assessment of our financial plight and a call for true common sacrifice – a plan with goals and measurements such as taxing gasoline so that we may wean ourselves of foreign oil dependency.

One bright spot is that I find people willing and eager to congregate. Mr. Sugar fulfilled his ambition of a Long Table dinner comprised of loosely connected attendees (word spread by Twitter). The table wasn’t long and the food was cooked elsewhere and we’ll have to see if the community wants to perpetuate this notion. I enjoyed telling my story of the Stolen Oldsmobile for my 10th birthday (King’s birthday) and hearing the tale of the unplanned attendance by Julie Child at an Atlanta, Georgia dinner party. Last night, our RTP hosted one its periodic Techie Tuesdays, an effort to connect the workers who labor behind the pine tree buffers. Both good efforts in an important moment where trust and confidence, if not inspiration, is eagerly, if not desperately, sought.
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Techie Tuesday on left; Inaugural Long Table on the right.