Awkward Moment for a Startup CEO

May 1, 2008

So, in an effort to make sure our new members understand that there are real people behind the impending groundswell we call SchoolPulse, I took the rather awkward step of shooting a video of myself talking about our new community site (included here for your enjoyment). We’re extending our private beta to another 37 school districts in the next 7 days — I hope they appreciate the pain this modest company founder went through to show the sincerity of our effort!

If you’re interested, my Single A baseball team won tonight by a score of 28 to 24. These are second graders and there are very few put outs in a 4-inning game!

Can Web 2.0 Change Behavior?

April 15, 2008

The mark of a truly great technology is that it changes the way mainstream consumers live their lives. I am a big believer in social media, but I wonder how long it will be before its utility reaches beyond the young and early adopters.

I can think of a lot of consumer devices that have done that. PCs, cell phones, Blackberries, iPods, and digital cameras are all devices that have crept into our lives over the last 15-20 years and now they are ubiquitous. Today, just about every teenager I see has a cell phone in hand and if they are walking alone, chances are they are texting a friend.

Certain web-based applications have had that kind of an impact, too. Email and eCommerce are the two that jump to mind. I have a college friend who is resolutely resisting email, and I can honestly say that he is the only adult I know that is not accessible via email. And eCommerce. When was the last time you called an airline to make a reservation?

Web 2.0 is still young and there are more people on the outside looking in than there are people who are living their lives differently as a result. Yes, many are blogging, though according to Forrester fewer than 5% of adults blog. And many of us are using RSS readers to personalize our information feeds, yet despite the power and simplicity that Google, Yahoo! and others have provided, it’s still a fringe phenomenon. LinkedIn is certainly making a mark, and more and more adults are experimenting with platforms like Facebook and Digg, but when will they change the way mainstream consumers live their lives?

I have a point of view, but would love to hear what you think.

Social Media and Schools

February 8, 2008

You’ve probably heard the term “social media” bandied about and you’ve probably wondered whether it is relevant to you and your busy life. After all, you’re not a blogger, you’re not using FaceBook, and you don’t have a lot of time for web surfing. Let me try to explain why I think social media is relevant to you.

First, what is social media? The term essentially means that instead of big companies and paid journalists creating media content, regular people like you and me are doing it. In this context, the term “social” is more about “society” than it is about “socializing” or “networking.” So, in social media, people like you and me are the ones writing articles and sharing ideas.

Next, how does social media happen? A variety of technologies have been developed to take advantage of the internet — things like blogging, discussions boards, podcasts, photo and video posting, even music sharing — that make it possible for regular people to publish their ideas online to be enjoyed by millions of people around the world. That was unimagineable until a few short years ago.

Now, why does this matter to you and your family? Because we can use social media technologies to improve the way our school communities share ideas and make decisions. We are all creators and consumers of ideas. We want our opinions to factor into decisions, and we want to know what our friends and neighbors are thinking and saying about important issues. If we can build a simple, easy to use web site where people can share news and ideas about our schools (and the conversation needs to be focused on our schools, not other people’s schools), we can ensure that everybody in the community has a voice and everybody hears what is being said.

Social media is indeed a powerful tool that can change the way our school communities set priorities and make decisions.