Escaping the geek bubble at Austin’s Metropolitan Breakfast Club

Mon, Mar 9, 2021


Email is for old people“Birds of a feather….”

Connie and I do realize that when you spend a lot of time around the feathered tribe of tech-savvy folks (thereby miraculously becoming two of Austin’s Social Media Mavens) it can be easy to forget that not everyone’s world revolves around LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and blogging, aka “the tech-o chamber.”

As my teen would say, “Duh.”

We know that lots of people find social media to be one big confusing alphabet soup of applications, jargon and insider jokes.

That’s why we run classes and workshops; to demystify the gobbledygook, and that’s why we love speaking engagements with great organizations like Austin’s venerable Metropolitan Breakfast Club.

From the MBC Web site:

“The Metropolitan Breakfast Club is a 20-year Austin tradition that’s anything but traditional.  Every Wednesday morning our members are informed and entertained by a variety of local and internationally recognized experts in business, politics and education. Our speakers share stories of Austin’s past, our current challenges, and future opportunities in and around Central Texas.”

Since 1984, the Club has been renowned for its extraordinarily eclectic speakers - everyone from the city Police Chief to historians to company CEOs to astronauts to the person who organizes the local rodeo.

Connie and I are thrilled to be included in the distinguished lineup on this coming Wednesday morning, March 11 - you can RSVP here if you happen to be in Austin.

We will do our best to rock the house with a combination of two of our favorite presentations:

  • Email is for old people - Connie gets laughs and lots of attention with this one because, just like me, she IS one of those “old people.” More mature and particularly more skeptical audiences tend to listen to someone who does not appear to be 22 or live in her Mom’s basement, especially when she cheerfully blows up preconceived notions about social media for businesses and nonprofits. 

  • Follow the bouncing blog post - I use a series of tabbed Web pages to show audiences how the information in a single blog post moves through the Web on other blogs, Twitter, Facebook, FriendFeed, StumbleUpon and even (how retro!) email. Newcomers to social media say that it gives them a clear visual demonstration of the power of Web communications.

We’ll then open the floor for lots of questions and answers.

If you’re in town, we hope to see you bright and early Wednesday morning!

Tips for South by Southwest Interactive (SXSWi) from a local

Sat, Mar 7, 2021


Austin Motel marquee, So Close Yet So Far Out (photo by Sheila Scarborough)It’s that time of year again, when the tech universe is abuzz with the digital creative delights of the South by Southwest Interactive (SXSWi) conference in Austin, Texas.

Since I live in the Austin metro area and this is my third “South by,” I thought I’d update last year’s post on why SXSWi is like Disney World and revisit the lure of conferences.

Just yesterday at Jelly Coworking, I discussed the five geeky days of craziness with City of Round Rock communications guy Brooks Bennett.

This will be his first SXSWi and he’s really psyched about it, but also a bit overwhelmed by the barrage of offerings.

Here’s the advice I gave him….

  • Forget about seeing everything. Heck, forget about seeing half of it!  There are the big keynote speakers, a crazy-huge number of panels, the smaller Core Conversations (I’m speaking at one with writer Pam Mandel, about travel blogging) plus book readings on the Adobe Day Stage (where I heard then-unknown Tim Ferriss of The 4-Hour Workweek speak in 2007,) early evening salon discussions and my personal “secret” favorite that often has big names in a small setting, the Studio SX discussions in the northeast corner of the Exhibition Hall.  There are hang-out lounges and parties galore, both official and “unofficial.” This goes on for five days - you’ll be fried.
  • Pick everything that sounds good, and weed it all out later. Here’s what I do - I go through the online schedule and say, “Yes, Yes, Yes” to everything that sounds good and every speaker that I know and/or like.  I don’t worry that I’m double-, triple- and quadruple-booked for events. I print the whole thing out (yes, print - paper always boots up & never needs a power outlet or WiFi) and stuff Beast Schedule in my purse. Each morning of the conference, I do ruthless triage to pick the happenings that it would KILL me to miss, saying a fond farewell to the rest. It really sorts itself pretty clearly as the conference wears on;  some people hardly make any panels, but their whole day is a schmoozefest in the hallways and lounges. Whatever works for you!
  • Loud, packed parties are overrated. Networking and socializing are not.  Look, I’m not a big party girl if it means jammed, loud rooms full of people that I don’t know.  I assure you, however, that I get plenty of fun time at South by - I’m socializing in smaller gaggles, with lots of folks I don’t know but a few that I do, hanging out in places where we can actually find a seat.  Many people do the same thing - go to the “big” parties, discover they’re not all that insanely fun, go back out on the sidewalk and regroup, run into someone from the day’s panels and all go off together to have a civilized beer and proper geek bonding. (OK, you want a nice bar? The Driskill Hotel, since 1886. Take that, Sixth Street lemmings.)
  • The basics - bring business cards, check that your cell phone has unlimited texting, pack a couple of energy bars, bring a water bottle, comfy shoes, power cords. It is truly an endurance event, but I mean that in the most positive way.  While we’re talking basics, there’s good BBQ right around the corner from the Convention Center: Iron Works BBQ at 100 Red River.

I hope to run into any and all of you during South by Southwest - I’m @SheilaS on Twitter, Connie Reece is @conniereece and Jennifer Navarrete is @epodcaster (don’t forget @sxswi - unofficial tweets - and @sxsw - official tweets.) See you there!

More good advice:

  • Attend Friday’s How to Rawk SXSW: The Basics
  • A guide to SXSW Interactive networking, from the Austin American-Statesman (and the Statesman’s latest Austin Dining Guide.)
  • The SXSW09 PBWiki.
  • SXSW Interactive survival tips, from The Adventures of
  • SXSW Baby! especially the forums.
  • The SXSW09 Insider’s Guide Ning group.
  • Kent Brewster’s Things to Remember About SXSW

(If this post was helpful for you, please vote it up on Kirtsy, or Stumble it on StumbleUpon. The Digg and Delicious links are just below the post as well. Thanks very much!)

Pledge to End Hunger

Fri, Mar 6, 2021


Sign the pledge, then use the Share tool to tell at least 3 or 4 friends about the Pledge to End Hunger. When 1,000 people do this, Tyson Foods will send a truck loaded with 140,000 meals for hungry children.

In Austin, we’re 3/4 of the way there … so please do it today. The Capital Area Food Bank does a remarkable job; they are worthy of our support.

Did you know? One out of six children in America is unsure where there next meal is coming from.

Social Media Gives Patients a Voice in Health Care

Wed, Mar 4, 2021


Here’s the background, an AP story I read in the Chicago Tribune: “Doctor [sic] try legal restraints on patients to prevent online criticism.” (Hat tip, @ColonelTribune on Twitter)

For a fee, a company called Medical Justice will provide doctors with a standardized waiver form. Patients who sign the form agree not to post any online comments about the doctor or their treatment. In other words, doctors want a gag order to prevent patients from publishing any criticism. Looks like they finally understand that, as consumers of health care, patients have a voice now-and they’re not afraid to use it.

I put the following poll out on Twitter and Facebook, asking if people would sign such a waiver. The poll is admittedly unscientific, and somewhat predictable given the people likely to answer it. Still, it’s notable that not one person said they would sign the waiver. The one category I think may be underrepresented is “I just scan medical forms so probably wouldn’t notice it.” How closely do you read the numerous forms medical offices routinely ask you to sign?

My sister, who works with doctors as executive director of a medical specialty society, said, “The silly thing is, you couldn’t share something GOOD about a doctor if you signed such a document. How very short-sighted.”

Below the poll results is a screenshot of the responses I received on Twitter. What are your thoughts? Would you sign such a waiver? What are the implications for our health care system?

Twitter Replies: Twtpoll doctor waiver

Austin’s Social Media Mavens

Mon, Mar 2, 2021



Sheila Scarborough and I are honored to be among the five Social Media Mavens profiled in the current issue of Austin Woman magazine, a free monthly publication distributed in over 800 locations across the greater Austin area. With SXSW in town this month, the magazine’s cover story is about Austin music legend Marcia Ball, with a special section on social media.

I think I’m even more excited that another one of the mavens, Lisa Goddard, attended the first-ever workshop we conducted back in June of last year-just a few days after CEO David Davenport kicked off a blog for the Capital Area Food Bank, which Lisa serves as advocacy and online marketing director. Since then Lisa and the food bank team have not just gotten the blog off the ground, they have successfully integrated social media into a number of their fund-raising and awareness efforts, and even have 11 employees on Twitter.

Read the profiles of all five Social Media Mavens, and visit their Twitter pages and blogs:

Lisa Goddard, AW p. 58, @Lisa_Goddard, Capital Area Food Bank of Texas blog

Leslie Mock, AW p. 60, @LeslieMock, LifeFlipping

Connie Reece, AW p. 62, @conniereece, Every Dot Connects, Tumblr Weeds

Sheila Scarborough, AW p. 64, @SheilaS, Every Dot Connects, Family Travel Logue

Laura Thomas, AW p. 66, @LPT, Laura P. Thomas, This Mommy Gig

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