Hold Music

Alive and kicking.
Twitter Music is live. For everyone. And I’d love to tell you more about it.

But I can’t. I just can’t. Not today. 

I can’t focus on anything other than the memorial in Boston. And the FBI press conference. And the awful news coverage. And attempts at online sleuthing

So, maybe tomorrow. Hopefully tomorrow. Because we all need to focus on something else. I’m open to suggestions. Give me some when I see you on the ‘morrow, on the Web.

Who Broke the News?

We regret the error, again.
I’ve written here before about the tenuous equilibrium some news organizations have when trying to balance speed with accuracy. The news coming second-by-second out of Boston is no different. But with the increasing importance—and use—of social media, these institutions are proving less and less reliable.

I won’t get into a long discussion of the accounts from Boston since they are still evolving so rapidly, but here are a few collections from others about how news outlets brought us facts that weren’t. 
Next, here’s Andy Carvin’s Storify collection of incorrect reports that authorities had suspects in custody.

Finally, The Poynter Institue has a great article about the three trends they see rising thanks to continued confused reporting.

“I’ve noticed that breaking news errors also give rise to three corollary events: the debunking and crowdsourcing of information, public explanations from news organizations about how they avoided mistakes, and an unwillingness on the part of the mistaken to accept responsibility.”
Craig Silverman- Regret the Error, 18 April 2013

We’re human. We make mistakes. But with the ubiquity of amplification tools that we all have at our fingertips, these errors have the ability to become the prevailing truth, for at least a moment or two.

Our ability to quickly update and change digital editions of news accounts means that this misinformation is virtually wiped away as soon as it’s discovered. Without any lingering trace, are we learning anything when these stains are removed?

We can pick that part up when I see you on the ‘morrow, on the Web.

Editors Needed

Hacks for hacks.
Yesterday’s post was part recounting, part judgement, and part therapy. But today, as reality sinks in for everyone, the role of social media is being discussed with as much vigor as the types of bombs used and the stories of people helping each other in Boston.

There are a couple of these social media discussions I want to point you to before we get into their validity.

First, take a look at this piece from Slate’s Social Media Editor, Jeremy Stahl

“Twitter is the first rough draft of journalism.”
Jeremy Stahl— Slate Social Media Editor, 15 April 2013

Mr. Stahl was also a guest Tuesday on NPR’s “Talk of the Nation,” which you can listen to below. Go ’head; I’ll wait.

Lastly, Tuesday’s PBS Newshour featured a conversation between their Political Editor Christina Bellantoni and “Digital Download” hosts Howard Kurtz and Lauren Ashburn. I’ll give you a few moments for it, as well.

All of these discussions bolster some of what I was trying to say in part of yesterday’s post: The world needs editors. 

Yes, I love that anyone and everyone has access to publishing tools. Yes, we can all be citizen journalists. Yes, more information is better than less. But how on earth are we supposed to assimilate it all unless there are people to weed out fact from fiction?

Whether we call them editors or curators or producers, these functions are vital to our proper understanding of breaking news events. They cull the wheat from the chaff. Follow up on unconfirmed leads. Ignore the trolls. Yet, today’s profit-driven news organizations are eliminating these roles. So now, we need to know how to do it ourselves.

Twitter is one of the most powerful tools we can use, but I think it lacks the ease-of-use needed for most users to quickly and easily find the right information at the moment they need it. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still in love with Twitter. And they’ve come a long way. But I want more tools which can group relevant Tweets on a given topic.

I hear you now, “What about hashtags?” Sure, they’re great. But while I was watching the news out of Boston yesterday, there was no consistently used term for updates about what was actually going on at the site. Which should I have chosen, #Boston? #BostonMarathon? #BostonBombing

When a story like this develops, there is no official hashtag. Nor should there be. But we should be able to find updates relative to what we’re looking for without having to comb through all of the chaos. 

So, let’s build something better with news gathering in mind. If you have ideas on what other features should be included, let me know when I see you on the ‘morrow, on the Web.

The News Race

Patriots’ Day.
Horrific. That’s really the only word I can use to describe the events from Boston today. I started my day with a congratulations message from Foursquare, celebrating my 4th year using the service. I had, coincidentally, even worn my Mayor shirt during my bike ride to work. I knew Foursquare Co-founder and CEO Dennis Crowley was running the Boston Marathon Monday, but I had no idea as I boarded my train this morning what an effect his updates would have on me the rest of the day.

I was only mildly interested in the race, but it was fun to check in on Mr. Crowley’s updates as he made his way, mile after mile after mile, along the course. Then, after mile 22, he admitted that the hills had done him in; he was walking.

I, like many of his other followers, urged him on towards the finish. He was so close. And he was doing it for charity. So, why not? Give him some encouragement. Reassure him the we were all pulling for him. Tell him that it was mind over matter. 

We had know idea that his slowed pace may have saved him from serious injury. When the time between his updates grew longer and longer, I figured the race had beaten him. But he was still getting close to the finnish. 

Because I was refreshing just his Timeline, I was unaware of the updates that were starting to trickle in about the explosion. Then, Mr. Crowley’s feed shocked me into paying closer attention.

I started clamoring for any and every bit of new information. And it all came from  Twitter.

We’ve seen Twitter’s usefulness during breaking news events again and again and again. We’ve also seen it used in nefarious ways. But what remains constant is the immediacy of the information that we have access to because of it. 

Now, getting a deluge of Tweets from the scene of an incident is very rarely helpful. We need some perspective. We need some context. We need help. From journalists, at the very least, or from those with some sort of inherent knowledge of the evolving situation. 

Today, the most informative updates in my Twitter feed about the bombings and their aftermath came from those trained to bring information to a mass audience: Andy Carvin, Anthony De Rossa, and Michael van Poppel.

However, I don’t want you to get the impression that I think only trained journalists should be sharing on Twitter. The exact opposite, in fact. But I do want these journalists to use all the tools at their disposal to make sure what we are all Tweeting is safe and accurate for mass consumption. 

Twitter is just one verification tool, but I think it could be improved. I have selected the people I follow thanks to years of watching news organizations, and the people who work for them, figure out how to use Twitter as a part of their day-to-day news operations. Some use it to promote their stories. Some to promote their personalities. But the ones I admire, and look to on days like today, are the ones that use it to give me a better idea of what’s going on right now, right when I’m curious. Right when I need to know.

Just last month, at SXSW, I spoke with Mr. Carvin about how he uses Twitter to gather information and share it with his followers. While that’s a service he performs publicly, as we voyeuristically witness his fact-checking and dissemination, his primary focus is to gather facts which can be presented by the organization which pays his salary: NPR. His work makes their stories better. His expertise makes their stories unique. His tools, however, are available to everyone. But they could be better.

Let’s look at Twitter Lists, for instance. This is an amazing, but all-but abandoned feature of this service I love. Lists are unbelievably useful on days like this. Create a list for people running in the race. Create one for Tweets geo-located near the finnish line. A list for local news organizations. For first-responders. Or politicians. But Twitter Lists are cumbersome to create and refresh and update. 

If Twitter needs a new revenue stream, how about a paid service for news organizations, or anyone else, which allows for the simple, quick creation of an unlimited number of Lists? I’d sign up. And not just for terrible days like today.  

This is a long post, longer than I intended. But it’s the only way I know how to deal with the disturbing images, thoughts, and devastation I’ve sought out and seen today. 

To all those who worked through this ruin—the police, paramedics, doctors, nurses, firemen, journalists, runners, family, friends, fans: I admire your courage, and wish I could do something more than just bang on this keyboard. 

If you think I can help you with absolutely anything, let me know. Anytime. Like maybe when I see you on the ‘morrow, on the Web.

Invite Only

I’m with the band.
Yesterday, I lamented the fact that Twitter Music is alive, yet I don’t have access to it. So, taking a page from the numerous 24-hour cable news networks, I’m going to engage in broad, opinionated speculation about what it might do, what I want it to do, and how excited we’ll all be when we finally get to try it out.

Let’s assume a few things first, since that’s where any current cable new discussion usually begins. I think it’s safe to say that part of the new service will be based on the expanded Twitter Cards introduced recently. With this new integration, partners’ applications are accessible from within Twitter’s experiences. So, you’ll be able to stream a SoundCloud clip from within Twitter. But will every music-streaming app need to develop a partnership with Twitter in order for their service to work that way? Let’s hope not. 

As of now, I’ve seen no mention of my favorite music service, This Is My Jam, being part of the Twitter Music launch. I like This Is My Jam because it provides songs from many different sources, and lets you listen to them in their entirety, unlike the shorter samples provided by for-pay services like Rdio or iTunes.

But let’s look at what else it could do. For bands, the service may be a great new revenue source. Got a show coming up? Tweet out a link to special tickets that you can only purchase from within Twitter. Have an exclusive song or early stream of an upcoming release just for followers? Post it in an update, and only give access to it if people are following you. Want your fans to help broadcast release dates or tour news? Reward those followers who ReTweet your updates with links in Direct Messages which point to other exclusive content. 

For music fans, the exclusivity and intimacy this could provide would be intoxicating. So could a robust recommendation engine based on your followers and suggestions from those you are following. And for music publications, just think of the partnerships that could be built based on followers and sharing. There could even be an entirely new singles charts built around most-Tweeted or Trending Tunes. Or, Billboard could amend their Top 100 to include Twitter listens, like they did recently with YouTube plays.

I’m itching to use Twitter Music, and can’t wait to have access. If you can help in any way, please let me know. You don’t even have to wait until I see you on the ‘morrow, on the Web.

Musically Inclined

Hunted down.
Twitter is launching a music service. This shouldn’t be news to anyone, since CNET broke the story about the We Are Hunted acquisition during SXSW. But the fact that the service is set to go live this weekend? That is big news.

Following a story from All Things D titled “Twitter’s New Music App Launches Friday,” it seems readily apparent that Twitter is set to raise the curtain on Twitter Music the same weekend that the spotlight shines on Coachella.

Of course, nothing is official until Twitter says so, and that team is still mum on the launch. But, as a side note, it is more than a little disappointing to see the launch of a new music service from Twitter without two of their biggest music fans involved: Sean Garrett and Matt Graves.

I’ve made no secret about my desire to join Twitter, especially the Twitter Communications Team. In addition to my love of (and obsession about) Twitter, both misters Graves and Garrett were large reasons why. Their passion for the service, expertise in their field, and love of music helped create the illusion of how easy it would have been for me to fit right in there, from day one.

But things change, people move on, and reality steps in. When Twitter Music finally does launch, I hope it lives up to everyone’s high expectations. We can talk about that when I see you on the ‘morrow, on the Web.

News Break

Testing the patterns.
Today’s post is going to be brief because I’ve been a bit distracted. I just want point to three things I’ve seen over the last week or so that I think are interesting illustrations of Twitter’s continued march toward dominating the way we’ll get our news and information.

First, Twitter and the Weather Channel have entered a partnership which leverages the recently expanded capabilities of Twitter Cards. The deal, according to All Things D, will allow users to, “see video clips of local forecasts, severe-weather coverage, or user-generated content.” These customizable clips will let the Weather Channel to add sponsored content directly into the stream of all of their followers, with a portion of the marketing price going, presumably, to both the Weather Channel and Twitter.

Second, Bloomberg announced that it will be incorporating Twitter into its Bloomberg Professional service. This will give subscribers instant access to updates about the companies, executives, and industries that influence traders’ every decision in the same platform in which they execute those decisions. With this integration, Bloomberg has almost completely removed the barrier between intelligence and execution.

“When important news is shared on Twitter, traders and investors need to be able to access it, and validate its importance in order to incorporate that information into their decision making process.”
Jean-Paul Zammitt– Head of Bloomberg Professional Sales and Product Development, 04 April 2013

Lastly, as a final illustration of the correlation between the speed of information and profit-driven actions, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, source of the reports on our jobs numbers, released last month’s employment stats through an update the moment they were available—faster than any other news outlet.

Quartz does a good job of explaining what the process is and why it’s important, and I encourage you to take a look at their piece.

All three of these stories show the increasing willingness of some of the old guard of information providers to incorporate the strongest real-time information network available. For the companies embracing this thinking, it will be a differentiator—not just because they’re trying something new, but because what they’re trying will pay off in new ways of transforming information into action.

And that’s the whole point, right? We’ll see how it pans out for them in the days, weeks, and months to come, starting when I see you on the ‘morrow, on the Web.

Hacking Humor

A silly cite.
Thanks to some wonderful serendipity, I found myself at the Twitter HQ again on Sunday, my second visit there this week. Cultivated Wit presented their second Comedy Hack Day, “an overnight hackathon that brings together comedians and developers.”

The weekend was emceed by Baratunde Thurston, and featured a panel of judges that included W. Kamau Bell, Shanti Charan, DJ Patil, and Shannon Spanhake.

One of my favorite stage demos was for HipCrax, customized wallpapers and games made specifically for the unique pattern of crazing and cracks you created that time you dropped your smartphone and shattered the screen.

“A cracked iPhone will be the ripped jeans of our generation.”
Matt Klinman– HipCrax Comedy Hack Day Demo, 08 April 2013

But the winner, and honestly, the one I can’t wait to use, was Citation Needed. You’ll win every argument from now on—whether you’re actually right, or not. This mobile app allows you to add whatever fact you need to a copied Wikipedia page, just to prove you right. It’s brilliant.

Other fun demos included Magic Story Factory, Up In A GIF, and Reality Check

In addition to guffawing, lots, I spent a good deal of time between demos talking with Christian Bøgeberg, a recruiter for Twitter. The more we talked, the more I was convinced that Twitter continues to value its people as much as its product. 

It was great to be in the Twoffice again, and I hope similar opportunities continue to come up. If you can, I encourage you to visit. You can even use Comedy Hack Day participant Fraudio for an enlightening tour of the beautiful new space on Market Street. Tell me all about it when I see you on the ‘morrow, on the Web.

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Author  Stephen R. Fox

La Dolce Twitta

Silent movies.
One of the greatest voices on Twitter is now silent.

Pulitzer Prize winner Roger Ebert has died. Many are sharing their thoughts about his life, his influence, and his legacy, but I want to take a brief moment to talk about what he did for Twitter.

When cancer stole his ability to talk, Mr. Ebert was able to continue to communicate with us through his journal. And his Twitter feed was an almost unceasing flow of links to his thoughts on everything from movies—of course—to politics, equality, and even humor.

He helped illustrate that if you’re careful, 140 characters could be even more powerful than 140 column inches. I don’t think it’s hyperbole to imply that every update from him was a defiant dispatch against the disease which eventually stopped them. Each was urgent. Each was important. Because it would have been almost impossible for him to speak with us otherwise.

I’ve always believed that Twitter can change lives. I think it always will. Mr. Ebert’s feed helps prove that to me. Take a look at it. Keep scrolling. Go back to the beginning. It’s absolutely fascinating. And it’s just the tip of the huge iceberg that is his online contribution

As the memorials start rolling in, there will be plenty more to read. I’ll be reading as many as these misty eyes can bear. All the while, wishing that I’ll be able to witness just one more update from @ebertchicago on the ‘morrow, on the Web.

Update: In its memorial for Mr. Ebert, Chicagoist used one of my updates.

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Author  Stephen R. Fox
Categories  "Roger Ebert"

As Cool As All That

Goldman is gold, man.
There’s a great new profile about Jason Goldman I think you should read. Mr. Goldman is currently Co-founder of The Obvious Corporation and board member at Branch and Medium. When I met him, he was the VP of Product for Twitter, following Evan Williams there after serving as Product Manager for Blogger at Google

The BuzzFeed piece, called “The Silent Partner,” was written by Rob Fishman. I have a few reasons for pointing it out to you.

First, it’s a great piece about what it takes to be an effective product manager in a world which values personalities over products.

Second, the article highlights one of the lesser-known architects of Twitter’s early—and continued—success.

Lastly, I feel like there is a direct connection between Mr. Goldman and this blog: He was the first person to encourage me to set my reluctance aside and reach out directly for a position at Twitter.

I met Mr. Goldman in 2010 at TechCrunch Disrupt in San Francisco. He was one of the Expert Judges for their Startup Battlefield.

Afterwards, I approached him, talked briefly about why I loved the service, what I thought it needed to do to gain wider adoption, and how I could help bring in more users. Without hesitation, he suggested I get in contact with Sean Garrett, who, at the time, was VP of Communications at Twitter.

I was then, and remain now, very grateful for Mr. Goldman’s generous time and gracious advice. Our brief conversation is basically what led to the start of this collection of posts you’ve stumbled upon here. Although I haven’t had any significant talks with him since, I think the article accurately conveys the magnanimity I found so easily while talking with him years ago.

So, enjoy the piece. And know that he’s essentially the reason these posts even exist. There will be more, and I hope you’ll read them when I see you on the ‘morrow, on the Web.

Your Future is in the Cards

Costa doing business.
Twitter held a mobile platform event for developers Tuesday night to introduce their new Twitter Cards. Jason Costa, Twitter‘s Platform Lead, kicked off the evening by reiterating Twitter’s importance as a part of today’s communications landscape: More than 400 million Tweets per day, more than 60% of them from mobile devices, and more than 70% of users outside of the United States.

He then reviewed the three types of Twitter Cards currently available and in use in both the Web and mobile Twitter clients: Summary, which gives a snapshot of links and pages; Photo, which displays photos from certain sources; and Player, which allows audio and video within your feed.

“Tweet embeds and Timeline embeds generate billions of moments of engagement.”
Jason Costa– Twitter Platform Lead, 02 April 2013

Costa then turned the stage over to Reeve Thompson, Product Manager of Cards, who announced the upcoming updates to the iPhone, Android, and mobile experiences would include deep linking and three new card types: App, Product, and Gallery.

Deep linking will allow Twitter updates to contain more robust content from your app within individual updates. Users will essentially be able to launch your app from inside the mobile Twitter experience. The updated experiences will also be able to determine if you have the app already installed or not. If you have the app installed, the Tweet will include a link to open the app so you can access the content mentioned. If you don’t have the app installed, the update includes a link which will take you to the appropriate store so you can download it without ever having to leave Twitter.

The new cards, introduced by Mr. Thompson and later elaborated upon by Director of Mobile at Twitter, Jeremy Gordon, will also allow for increased engagement within the mobile experiences, Twitter’s fastest area of growth.

The App Card will be the most interesting for people toiling to build the next big thing. It will allow updates with links to apps to display the name, icon, and description of the mentioned app, as well as other details like price and ratings.

The second new Card type introduced was the Product Card, which has the ability to turn everyone’s Tweeted Xmas wish list into a one-stop source for holiday shopping. By including a product and its link, the new update will display an image and description for the product, in addition to other variables such as price. Just imagine how easy it will be to shop for people this year (hint below).

Lastly, we learned about the Gallery Card, which will add context to your Tweeted images by including a group of four photos from a shared collection, rather than just one.

The event also included Twitter partners taking advantage of the new Cards, starting with Dave Morin, Co-founder and CEO of Path. Mr. Morin likened Path to a home in the town square that is Twitter, calling the new Cards the “most important distribution tools released this year.”

Next, Brett Wayn, VP of Flickr at Yahoo!, talked about how they wanted to make sure that sharing photos to Twitter was not only easy, but also beautiful. Quoting Flickr developer Chris Martin who worked on the card integration, Mr. Wayn said, “The hardest thing about doing it was keeping it a secret.”

On a personal note, I want to thank Jason Costa, Matt Harris, Carolyn Penner, and Jessica Verrilli for their time and insight after the event. I look forward to hearing what you and Twitter have in store for us next. In the meantime, the new Cards will be available in the updates scheduled for Wednesday. I’m excited to see what’s new in your Tweets when I see you on the ‘morrow, on the Web.
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Author  Stephen R. Fox

Fool on a Hill

The Internet is lying to you. Again. 

In a tradition that’s as frustrating as it is entertaining, many organizations, like Google, and NPR, and Google, and JIRA, and Google, and Hulu, and Google, and the White House, and Google played pranks on us. So many institutions took part in the foolishness, Lifehacker felt the need to collect them in their own post

Twitter even got in on the act, announcing that if you wanted to include vowels in your 140-character updates, you’d need to fork over $5 per month. But that’s not the most important update Twitter made 01 April, in my opinion. No, that honor goes to the announcement of the start of another new Hack Week.

Twitter’s Hack Weeks have been responsible for some of my favorite features, like EarlybirdTwitter for Mac, and access to our Twitter archive.

So, while some people are searching for treasure. I’ll be waiting for the real rewards which will result from Hack Week. We can discuss them when I see you on the ‘morrow, on the Web.

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Author  Stephen R. Fox

Off the Post

Garbled Garber.
During Saturday’s MLS Cup, ESPN sent out a call for questions from Twitter to Major League Soccer Commissioner Don Garber, using the hashtag #FCBootRoom.

With the promise that a few of our questions would be posed to the Commissioner during the halftime interview, I—like many, many others—sent our queries.

“The best queries will be answered by MLS Commissioner Don Garber during the halftime interval.”
ESPN- The Boot Room, 01 December 2012

They asked one question from Twitter. 

One question. 


Here’s the single question asked of the commissioner from Twitter:

Here are the questions I had:

And here is a Storify collection of some others they missed:

And a couple of my favorites:

What a wasted opportunity; worse than Donavan’s miss in the first half. In any case, I hope you enjoyed the Final. We can discuss Beckham’s future when I see you on the ‘morrow, on the Web.    
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Author  Stephen R. Fox

Educating Twitta’

Student Twittucation.
Twitter is being used in many different ways. For business, news, and just plain fun, it has become the default sharing engine for many of us. We are able to create our own little information bubbles based in the topics we’re interested in, and tailor conversations around each of our points of preference.

But how are we preparing our next generation to harness this resource? In 2006, I started working with the Intel Education Foundation team showing teachers around the globe how to incorporate emerging technology into their classrooms. While developing ways to reinvent established pedagogy to include emerging and evolving advancements, I discovered Twitter. And Blogger. And a number of other services we now take for granted. 

It seems like every day there’s a launch of another resource which could make our education system better. As long as we use them. The highly motivated among us can gather Ph.D.-level knowledge and skills with nothing more than a Wi-Fi connection using tools like iTunes U and YouTube, and Codecademy.

Are these resources being incorporated into the de facto education systems we force onto our youth? The question is becoming more and more important as our unemployment rate remains at difficult levels while potential employers are desperate to fill skilled jobs. We need to make sure that we are creating workers for the next economy, not just creating students who can fulfill some politically motivated standardized testing quotas.

In a few weeks, NPR‘s “Tell Me More” will host a live forum in conjunction with member-station WLRN in Miami to talk about the state of education in the U.S. The broadcast, part of the compelling StateImpact project NPR has been producing, will air 10 October, but you can participate in the lead-up to the show right now on Twitter. Host Michel Martin has invited listeners to begin a conversation before the broadcast using the #NPRedchat hashtag. If you’re interested in participating, let them know now. 

We should all be doing more to make sure that we are building the right kind of education system for today’s students and tomorrow’s innovators. And in this election season, now is the time to make sure those who are responsible for implementing changes are hearing what we are saying. If you have thoughts, don’t remain silent. Our progress depends on your participation. 

Gather your ideas. Post them on Twitter. Share them with your friends, family, and elected officials. And we can talk about them more when I see you on the ‘morrow, on the Web.

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Author  Stephen R. Fox

A Notion for the Nominated

Tweet the Vote.

During last week's Republican convention, the most ReTweeted update came from a Democrat: President Barrack Obama. Obviously inspired by Clint Eastwood’s appearance in Tampa, President Obama was able to capitalize on the distraction from Mr. Romney’s keynote address that Mr. Eastwood provided.

As I watch the Democrats gather in Charlotte this week, I hope that they are more disciplined in describing the platform they have developed. In an attempt to help in that cause, I humbly submit the address I wish our President would deliver Thursday night:

Madam Chairman Wasserman Schultz, Vice President Biden, Democrats, and my fellow Americans: In order to continue moving this country forward, I accept your nomination.
I accept so that we can keep implementing the vision we laid out four years ago in Denver. I accept to make sure that we stay on the path of prosperity we have embarked on together. I accept to make sure that in another four years, there will be no question that you, and I, and every American are better off than we are today, and much better off than we were four years ago. 
I stood before 80,000 of you democrats in Denver in 2008 asking for you to believe in the vision I had for us as a nation. And, while tonight's venue is a bit smaller, I still believe in the grander and greatness of that vision. Now, I don't think any of us were prepared for the hurdles we encountered in our path to a more prosperous future, but we are Americans, and we have never shied away from the tough jobs. In fact, we tackle them. That's one of the qualities that continue to make us great. And no economic turmoil, or natural disaster, or obstructionist politician can keep us from moving forward, together, as one nation.
We live in a country that no longer fears Osama bin Laden and other al Qaeda top lieutenants. We live in a country where none of our soldiers are fighting in Iraq. We live in a country where students will no longer be shackled by the burden of student loan debt, and where your healthcare is not more expensive, just because you are a woman.
Now, maybe that vision was a bit over-ambitious, but I would rather be accused of our ideas being too bold, than too bland. Too grandiose than too quotidian. Too inspired, than too insipid. Just last month, we put a vehicle on Mars. On Mars. Through science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, a team of some of our brightest men and women–including a Systems Engineer with a mohawk–helped guide the Curiosity rover to the surface of another planet. That's the ambition we need. That's the vision I have, and that's the type of dedication I need from you to help make it happen. Dedication that will lead us to strengthening our education system, so that we will lead the world in college graduates by 2020. So that we can create a workforce, not for the jobs of yesterday or today, but so we can develop an new kind of education for the economy of tomorrow.
We need to continue to invest in ourselves. In our future. And not just so that America can continue to lead the world in awe-inspiring accomplishments and innovations, but to lead in art and film and music and dance. To continue to be the envy of every advanced nation as a symbol of what can be accomplished when we believe in ourselves. We will create an America where it's easy for a student in the Research Triangle here in North Carolina to build a business based on an idea that came to her late one night in her dorm room. An America where we have invested enough in our infrastructure so that a craft beer maker in Colorado can safely deliver his newest batch to neighborhood markets on roads we built. An America where we invest in alternative sources of energy, so that workers in Iowa can turn the boom in wind power technology into new jobs and new opportunities. An America where we help industries when they need it, so that when they recover, they can create things like the Chevy Cruze which is being built entirely by Americans in plants and factories and offices in Ohio.
Investment in ourselves also includes making sure that everyone is treated equally, in every home and in every workplace and in every courtroom. That's why, as my first act in office, I signed the Lilly Ledbetter act, which ensures that equal work is rewarded with equal pay, no matter what. That's why I repealed Don't Ask Don't Tell, so that service and love of country can coexist with love of another, no matter what. And it's why I enacted the Affordable Care Act, so that you can get the healthcare you need, no matter what.
I want to keep working for you. For us. For a better tomorrow. A tomorrow with a bigger Middle Class. And through a fair, simple tax reform, we can both tackle the deficit and strengthen the Middle Class families that in turn will strengthen America. The sad truth is that the lobbyists and corporations who are taking advantage of our current tax codes aren't passing any of the money they're saving down to you. No, they're keeping it, and telling us about it every time the report their record profits. By spreading the tax burden out more evenly across all Americans, including those who avoid elevators in parking garages because they have elevators in their own garages, we can rebuild a Middle Class that is no longer aspirational, but attainable.
These investments in our future also mean taking care of those who take care of us: our firefighters, our police officers, our nurses and our service men and women stationed around the country and around the world. We ask so much of them, we should be able to give them the support and tools they need, not just to do their jobs, but to excel and prosper after those jobs are finished. 
Our armed services have responded every time we've called. And we owe them a lot. That's why we implemented a responsible end to the war in Iraq, handing control back to the Iraqi people, and brought our troops home. These brave men and women, and the ones serving in Afghanistan, Korea, Germany, or anywhere else on our globe, ask nothing more from us than our support when they come home. And that seems like the least we can do. We have fought to expand and improve benefits for veterans and their families. We've granted them more access to healthcare. And we've improved the number of educational and occupational opportunities available when they come home. But we're not done yet. We can do more. So much more. And with your help, we can continue to move these efforts forward for another four years.
Now, there are a lot of things we cannot control. Apparently, we may not be able to control the tides, but we can control the waves of negativity that greets us every day as we watch the 24-hour news cycle. When we started this journey together, we knew that the road would be tough, but we were undaunted. Because we had faith. Faith in each other to pull together to get what needed to be done so that it benefits us all.
Sometimes, politicians are too isolated. So concerned with getting re-elected, they close themselves off to new ideas. These next four years, with your voices as a clarion call, we need to show our elected officials, myself included, that not every good idea comes out of Washington DC. They can come from anywhere and anyone. Not just those with influence. Not just those with lobbying groups. Not just those with overseas bank accounts or who think corporations are people. You know, just once, I'd like to turn to a TV station, or pick up a newspaper, or see an update on Twitter which says, "Bi-partisan agreement reached for the good of the country." We can do better. We must do better. And with your help, we will do better.
We are a nation of ideas. And we are a nation of actions. But far too often, the types of debates, and the tenor of these debates, have stifled our ability to get anything accomplished. That's why it's been hard for some Americans over the last four years. There is no doubt, however, that our country is better off now than it was on that historic day in January. We have been working together to tackle many of the problems that faced us at inauguration. And since then, we have witnessed 29 consecutive months of private sector job growth. That didn't come easily. But our ideas are working. Maybe more slowly than we had hoped, but they are working. And to keep them working, I need you to help me over the next four years. 
Our vision of the United States is shaped by us. This is still our time. It's our time to continue looking forward to the work that is yet to come, and yet to be done. To look forward to a day when a student in Nevada, or a National Guard member in Florida, who were brought here years ago by parents looking to give their child a chance at a better future, has the opportunity to become a citizen, and make a difference in people's lives, instead of hiding in the shadows. To look forward to a day when a grandmother in Virginia doesn't have to decide between paying for pills or paying for potatoes. Forward, to a day where a man in Virginia can finally marry the man he's loved for decades. And forward, to a day where we can cooperate on a budget proposal, even if it comes from a Wisconsin Congressman. 
We are privileged to live in a country where even if we don't all agree on a particular idea, we–all of us–can discuss them in a way that makes it clear that the idea is more important than which side of the aisle it came from. A country where we have the responsibility to make sure everyone will continue to be better off than we were four years ago. And when we look back, four years from now, we can say, "Yes we did move forward," to an America where we look out for each other. Where we help one another. Where we worked together, in finding common ground among our differences toward a better tomorrow. Forward to a place where even a man from Hope and another from Crawford can work together to create something greater than the sum of their parts
That's why tonight, I'm looking to you California. And I'm looking to you New York. And I'm looking to you Pennsylvania. And to all of you dedicated Democratic delegates to help me finish what we started in Denver four years ago. We created hope. We created change. Now, let's carry them forward.. Forward, to finish what we started.
Thank you, God bless you, and God bless these United States of America.

I appreciate you allowing me this indulgence, and welcome your comments. The posts here have again been sporadic, I know. Unfortunately, that will continue until this election is over. Remember, even when I’m not here, you can always find me on Twitter. Wherever you track me, I hope to see you on the ’morrow on the Web.
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Author  Stephen R. Fox

Harnessing Complexity

Suited for real-time.
Twitter’s importance in Cannes continued on Wednesday as CEO Dick Costolo presented a seminar called, “Harnessing the Power of Real-time Connections.” During his talk, Mr. Costolo reportedly presented examples and advice on how to turn cultural events into real-time marketing opportunities.
“We live in a world where the conversation—if we pay attention to it—can lead to a campaign.”
Dick Costolo- Cannes Lions, 20 June 2012
The recent introduction of hashtag pages gives brands, marketers, and event organizers a consolidated presence within the Twitter framework to promote a real-time discussion. They also give Twitter a potentially huge new source of income. But is this the Holy Grail of revenue that Twitter critics have been looking for? Maybe. And here’s why.

The new Web product enables a lot. For Twitter, these new pages provide a way to create a community, within its own domain, to anyone with a marketing budget. For promoters, the pages offer another outlet to create and craft a consolidated conversation. And for users, this new endeavor offers the opportunity for a meaningful tête-à-tête with the accounts and interests they track.

Let’s take the highly-touted NASCAR partnership as an example. Searching for #NASCAR leads you to a branded, and presumably purchased, page of results which features updates from a select group of accounts. Twelve of these accounts are highlighted in a “Top people” section, but updates from all other accounts are quickly accessible through the “View all Tweets” link. 

This is a great way for Twitter to curate posts from some driver, track, and sanctioning body accounts. And even if you’re trying to find out what other people are saying about NASCAR, this is much less intrusive than most pop-up ads, and presents contextually relevant content based on the NASCAR search term. However, it does leave me asking a few questions:
  • Which accounts get included in the results?
  • How did they get selected?
  • Did they pay to get included?
  • How can I get my updates include in the search results?
  • What about the accounts I follow?

This effort could be the first, big step toward a fast, flexible advertising product. Marketers could customize which accounts and topics are included in ad buys as circumstances change. Real-time adjustments would allow conversations to emerge and evolve naturally while still supplying campaigns the ability to promote their ideas.

Now, making sure you have a team in place that can accurately and adequately monitor and react to an ongoing event can be tricky. Just ask McDonalds. Or Kenneth Cole. Or Netflix. But that is a larger topic for a longer day. Like tomorrow, the longest day of the year. Find out if I tackle it when I see you on the ‘morrow, on the Web.
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Author  Stephen R. Fox

I Cannes Haz Lions

Did you see the #CannesLions hashtag floating around on Twitter today? Touted as the “the world's biggest celebration of creativity in communications,” The Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity is taking place in France this week. Why is this relevant to this blog? Because Jack Dorsey, Twitter Co-creator, Co-founder, and Executive Chairman—as well as Co-founder and CEO of Square, Inc.—was named Media Person of the Year. 

In a press release, Philip Thomas, CEO of Cannes Lions, pointed out that through Twitter, Mr. Dorsey has given us a new way  to share and learn from each other.
“The power and simplicity of what he has created has made Twitter a social phenomenon.”
Philip Thomas- Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, 15 May 2012
We can’t just focus on Twitter as the primary reasoning behind the award, however. Mr. Dorsey’s work with Square deserves an equal share of the credit. These two efforts, combined, weigh into the title “Media Person of the Year.” Focusing solely on Twitter gives too much credit to Mr. Dorsey’s efforts there, and not enough to his efforts at Square, not to mention the influence of fellow Twitter co-founders Biz Stone and Evan Williams.

In any case, a hearty congratulations go out to Mr. Dorsey. For Twitter. For Square. And for democratizing information for us all. Information you can find again here when I see you on the ‘morrow, on the Web.
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Author  Stephen R. Fox

Migratory Story

Hashtags from car tags.
Thanks to a wonderful change in my employment status, these posts can start up again. It’s been a long while since my last update here, and Twitter has changed considerably in the interim. They’ve got a new look, a new address, and even a new Larry!

I hope to return to the almost-daily regularity of my previous entries. With Twitter growing so quickly, and its influence on politics, advertising, and sports becoming larger and larger, I have no doubt that there will be plenty to pontificate about. 

As always, if you have something to add, let me know. Post it here in the comments, or—better yet—send me a note on Twitter. Either way, I’ll see it when I see you on the ‘morrow, on the Web.
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Author  Stephen R. Fox

Hashing Out a Champion

Hash marks in football.
Obviously, it’s been a while since my last post here. The reasons are many, and the excuses are mundane, but I’m still closely following the innovations and acquisitions going on at Twitter.

I will be finalizing and posting some of the drafts entries I constructed in the past few months, if only to create an accurate archive of events. Until then, I just wanted to let you know that I‘m still here, I’m still writing, and I‘m still trying to join the flock.

In the meantime, I want to point you to the recent update Twitter sent out regarding Tweets during the Champions League Final. I was surprised that the number trumped those during the 2010 World Cup, but still fell short of both the Super Bowl and New Year’s Eve—despite the size of the each team’s worldwide following. As the number of people using Twitter grows everyday, it shouldn’t be long before another globally shared event trumps the Tweets-per-second record holder.

I’m obviously glad the number of users is growing, and hope to be a part of their continued success some day soon. If that gets any closer, I’ll let you know when I see you see you on the ‘morrow, on the Web.
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Author  Stephen R. Fox

Headed SXSW

Today I travel back to Austin for SXSW 2011. I love this conference. Yes, it’s too big. Yes, it’s fraught with distractions. Yes, it can destroy you. But I love it because with so many great minds converging in one place at one time, the unplanned is as important as the planned.

I have a staggering wish list of panels and parties and performances, but the most valuable moments for me are the one-on-one connections that occur outside the scheduled events. Running into friends on the street. Making new contacts as a presentation empties out. Discovering a great new band as you’re looking for your next caffienated beverage. These moments bring me back.

I’ll try to continue to post from Austin, hopefully sharing some of the nuggets I’ve captured at the end of each day. If you don’t hear from me, don’t worry; I’m probably standing a few feet away from a cranked Marshall stack, with a big grin on my face, sharing my geo-tagged images on Twitter. Please know, though, that I’ll try my damnedest to see you on the ‘morrow, on the Web.
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Author  Stephen R. Fox