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Showing posts from December, 2008

Off the Tracks

I'm doing my annual "goal planning" this week and took some time to review the past few years goals (and success rate) and it isn't pretty.

First, here are the stats:
2005 9/14 63%
2006 12/15 80%
2007 7/13 54%
2008 5/9 56%

My goals are a combination of personal (fitness, finance, charity, vacation etc) and professional goals. clearly, 2006 was a great year, but I've been sliding hard since then.

2008 was an odd year from the beginning with me leaving the IRC for Microsoft, so I expected some fluctuation (notice the drop in total number of goal targets - down to 7 from 13 in 2007). As a way to get this out of my system, here's what I achieved, and what I didn't this past year:

Success!
Maintain 180 lbsCoach sports (specifically spring/fall softball and winter basketball). I also helped out with all-star softball and recently started a coaching blog.
1/2 speaking gigsEstablish myself in my new role at MicrosoftBuild blog readership (>200 visits per month) - actual…

Book Notes: Rebound Rules

I just finished reading Rick Pitino's latest book "Rebound Rules." I was looking for some inspiration in both my professional and coaching life and found it here. This is a breezy read for those of us who read a lot of self help books, much of what Pitino talks about is well-tread in other books.

That said, I especially liked some of what he has to say about managing young players. Granted, the difference between the type of coaching he does is a galaxy away from the type of coaching I do!

What I loved most about the book however is how Pitino recounts his Celtics failure and how he rediscovered himself and his passions. His "PHD" (Passion, Hunger, Drive) framework is something that I will be using personally as I begin to plan for 2009.

One other phrase that I really liked was the "darkness of doubt." I've had some recent failures myself in my professional life and realized that the doubt I felt was natural, but something that I simply need to move …

Book Notes: Exodus to the Virtual World

I guess I've been revisiting my own ideas on virtual worlds and the immersive internet these past few months and picked up a copy of Castonova's "Exodus to the Virtual World" to see how things have been evolving since reading his first book "Synthetic Worlds." It is my opinion that his first book was quite a bit better, although this book does really expand on where virtual worlds are headed in more tangible ways.

The book is really interesting, if not way out there. While the idea of people "migrating" to virtual worlds seems (and feels) odd to me, Castronova makes some extremely compelling and interesting points given from an economist's perspective of the world. That said, I'm not so sure his core concept is valid. It would help me if I were a social scientist and had any sort of knowledge to validate or debunk his thesis.

For scale's sake, Castronova points out that "when 100 million people do something" governments need to…

I Can Save the US Auto Industry, Really!

I have the answer! I really do. But I want to lay out some ideas before dropping the bomb on you.


A few disclaimers before we get started...
In reality, I have very little car experience. Never marketed a car, built a car or designed a car. That said, I've paid for CV boots, brakes, tires and once, an entire new front end. I've wrecked a few cars (no one hurt), and certainly spent plenty of time at the gas pump. I have washed cars occassionally, but don't like it that much.Now that I've gotten that out of the way, here are some actual disclaimers:
I'm not a huge car nut. My brother fills that gap in our family. I did once subscribe to Car & Driver, but only for a short time. I tend to view cars as a depreciating asset, but I do trip out when I see a really cool looking ride.
I actually (delusional or brilliant, you tell me) believe I can save the US Auto Industry with my idea.
The idea is free for you to take and use. All I ask is that I get a free one of my choice …

Fun In B2B Social Networks

I've just finished reading "The Theory of Fun" by game designer Raph Koster. I had been meaning to read this book ever since hearing him speak at a Serious Game Conference way back in 2005. While long overdue, the timing was quite good.I've spoken to a few of you (and lots more folks who probably don't read my blog) about some ideas that I have around using gaming concepts within social networks. In my role at Microsoft, driving engagement inside the CIO Network has been my primary focus. It hasn't been easy!

Koster's book is quite good for lots of reasons, like understanding what fun is, and how to have it for example. I was really pleased however with his discussion and call out of Game Designer Ben Cousin's concept of "ludemes." Ludemes, according to Cousins and Koster are the basic units of gameplay - the fundamental components (atoms?) of what makes a game a game.

Koster lays out some fundamental elements that make for successful games. M…

Book Notes: The Future of the Internet

I heard Jonathan Zittrain speak at a CIO Magazine event about 9 months ago in Boston and had his book "The Future of the Internet" in a big pile up until about a month ago. The subtitle "and how to stop it" put me off a bit and in my usual way, I judged the book by it's cover, thinking that this was yet another explanation about how the Internet is about to collapse, sending us back to the dark ages.

The thrust of the book however is all about "generativity" - the ability of certain technologies which allow users to create new and unexpected things from humble, typically underground or misunderstood beginnings (think... the Internet itself!). The PC as a generative platform however is probably the biggest and most effective example, it being at the very core of some of the concepts Zittrain tackles.

The book uses some terrific (and recent) examples but ultimately leans on Wikipedia a bit too much. Have you noticed that many, many recent books lean on Wi…

I Like Greg Grunberg

I really do. I liked him in Alias and love him in Heroes. Never saw Felicity. I'm just hoping he doesn't get Sylar to come split my head open and steal any of my powers after reading this post.

I've been following @greggrunberg on Twitter for a while now and really enjoy his updates. He seems like a normal, cool guy who happens to be an actor. I dig that about him. Just a few minutes ago, I spotted this update from him which promptly prompted me to write this post.
greggrunberg GREGGRUNBERG.COM I'm just sayin'!!!! http://www.greggrunberg.com/ -- I'm LIVE baby! Just went live and it's good to be live! GREGGRUNBERG.COM
I'm thrilled he has his own web site. I've had my own since God knows when and would never begrudge a celeb their own slice of cyberspace. Good on him. Good on him until I checked out his site that is.

Hey! What happened to the @greggrunberg guy that I like to follow on Twitter? Why is it that I cannot find, no matter where I look a link to…

Role Playing in Immersive Worlds

I've been participating in a new community focused on the immersive internet called ThinkBalm. We did an in-world "role-play" a few weeks ago that despite the usual and significant user issues, technology hurdles and confusion worked out pretty well.

Erica Driver, the curator of the ThinkBalm community and a few community members (including me just a tiny bit) helped write a paper about the experience titled "Role-play redux: ‘Convince the curmudgeon.’” Visit the link to see more and download the pdf of the article.

I continue to be fascinated by immersive worlds for many reasons but continue to struggle with their business applicability because of significant user interface issues, training and technology hurdles. Consider me an early adopter!

Visit the ThinkBalm site to learn more about the community and getting involved.

I Coach

My passion is coaching youth sports. I've been a coach ever since I was a camp counselor at 15 years old and I can often be overheard saying that one day... I'll be coach youth sports full-time. I wonder how that will happen.

In any case, I'm really into it lately and in addition to coaching my daughter's softball team, I'm coaching two basketball teams this winter. That means games Monday through Thursday with practices on Saturdays. There is so much good stuff a girl (or boy) can get out of a well coached team, that I tend to take it really seriously, putting in time to develop practice plans, setting goals and communicating with parents. Now, I'm only talking about 9, 10 and 11 year olds, but good practice habits and learning game strategy is critical at this stage of their development.

I want these girls to keep playing, even if in recreational leagues for a long time and to develop friendships and work habits that transcend a given sport and help them succee…