Kindle -Day 4

I’ve been reading on an Amazon Kindle the past four days and am growing fonder of the device with every passing day. (It’s a $350 “electronic book” with WIFI for wireless downloading of books, magazines, newspapers). Somehow one got ordered and charged to my account (I suspect some idiot in the house logged in and stuck it in my cart. But I am so enamored I think I will keep it.

Ergonomically it’s a bit of a mess — I’m sure everyone who has used one has bitched about the previous and next buttons and the lack of a great gripping experience — the leather cover barely hangs on, but the text is very crisp and the lighting is essentially nonexistent — meaning you need to seek an external light source just as you would with a book.

Battery life is long. Images are okay (grey-scale). So far I have subscribed to Forbes (no images or ads), one day of the New York Times (no images or ads), ordered the Ken Follett sequel to Pillars of the Earth and am nearly halfway through Dave Egger’s What is the What about the Lost Boys of the Sudan.

I can see the Kindle earning a place in my knapsack for travel and sparing me the usual three-title mess I usually jam in there. Only problem is lack of titles, not everything is in Kindle format and the books I want aren’t necessarily there. I will probably shove an SD card in for more memory space and have yet to connect it to my PC via USB to back stuff down. The browser is decent, the keyboard … at least it is QWERTY. All in all I like it on some levels, hate it on others (can’t loan a book to a buddy, can’t stick a book on a shelf, can’t have an author sign the flyleaf).

Verdict: for serious travelling readers, a good idea.

Whereabouts Sept 1-25

This week: Cotuit, still decompressing, lots of post-Beijing stuff to get out of the way

Sept 8-12: Bangalore, global interactive workshop

Sept 16-19: Raleigh, CEO review, CMO workshop

Sept 22-23: Folio Show, Chicago, I speak

Sept. 24-25: NYC, AdWeek panel

Last week of month — some vacation. Thinking about camping at Truro for stripers

I gots blisters on my fingers

I am inordinately proud of my rowing calluses but lost them in Beijing due to three weeks without an oar or an ergometer to keep them healthy and tough. Three consecutive days of sculling this week, some vigorous pull-ups on the chin-up bar, some hang-power cleans with the Olympic bar, and my hands have turned into hamburger. Nothing to be done but suck it up and keep abusing them until they scab up and go hardcore again. Some Rhode Island Soapworks gardener’s healing hand salve is next (I cannot abide Bag Balm) but will turn my keyboard into a slippery mess.

It is time to get serious about the fall rowing season and mail off some regatta entries today.

Fall races I should enter

  • Megunticook Mini-Marathon: Camden, Maine. Ten miles. Supposed to be beautiful course. Got to make my mind up now, the race is next weekend, the 6th and Maine is a long drive from the Cape.
  • Coastweeks, Mystic, Connecticut. Awesome course, head-style (running start, race the clock) best maritime museum in the world. Two hour drive. Happens just after I return from Bangalore and before a week in Raleigh. I dunno. Excuses, excuses.
  • Green Mountain Head, Putney, Vt, Sept. 28. My favorite. Just gorgeous scenery. World class rowers. Prizes are bag of apples, block of Vermont cheddar, bottle of maple syrup. Also it’s a stake race, so there’s the fun of trying to turn a boat around a buoy which is like making a cow dance.
  • Textile River Regatta, October 5. Lowell. Merrimack River. Never done it. Might be tempted.
  • Head of the Connecticut: Connecticut River, Middletown, CT – home of Wesleyan. Heard it is a good race. Dunno. This is turning out to be too long a list I think. Wife is not going to be into watching middle-age crisis man slog down autumn rivers of New England.

In the jingle-jangle morning I’ll go blogging

Hit the rack at 9 last night, too delirious to hold my eyes open, but drugged myself with a Restoril for extra insurance. Then Junior burst in with news of an unwanted phone call: “Loser!” he said. “It’s not even 9 and you’re in bed!” I pleaded that my circadian rhythms, whatever they are, were confused, and fell back into an uneasy slumber, the dog using my face as its pillow. At 4 a.m. I was back awake, this time with the usual terror dreams of naked public speaking, elevator plunges (naked elevator plunges) and missed appointments. “A fine day to slay the dragon!” I exhorted myself and my irritable bladder. “Up and at ’em!”

So now it’s five a.m.. I have eaten my daily bowl of oatmeal, am on cup number two of double-strength Peet’s French Roast (espresso ground for that full amphetamine experience), and now have the entire day ahead of me. I need to edit some college essays for a friend’s daughter – and I need to sort out travel for the next month – Bangalore, RTP, Chicago, NYC – I need to pay bills, deal with this quarter’s taxes, sort through my Olympic souvenirs, dig though 4000+ photographs from Beijing, write thank-you notes, file collected business cards, answer moldering emails, set up conference calls, ward off the bureaucrats, and fit in my daily Crossfit torture. From hanging around gold medalists to paying the garbage man …. I feel mentally whip-sawn between the alien exoticism of Beijing and the early fall despondency of a Cape Cod summer town gone quiet and to seed now that the tourists and renters are back in Bronxville and Westchester getting ready for the start of school.

The harbor is vacant. Yesterday I launched my shell at 9 and set off into a stiff northeasterly breeze, the first pure air I’ve had in a month, pumped right down across the Gulf of Maine from Greenland. It was a good row, nearly a fantastic one, with a strong pace that nearly convinced me to start filing more Fall Head regatta applications before it is too late. I lost weight in China and worked out every day using the Crossfit regime, so now is the time to really start focusing on that late February weekend when I intend to do some damage at the World Indoor Rowing Championships. I did make a request to be let onto the rowing course at Shunyi near the Beijing Airport for a personal victory lap. The CMO of one of Lenovo’s key suppliers got on the course a week before the Games and I wanted to do the same, but no, the course was locked down for the Paralympics which starts this week on the tail of the Olympics. Some other time perhaps.

I have a few posts to get out the door. They are:

  1. A recap of the Voice of the Summer Olympics program. The metrics indicate the program in terms of traffic, blew away the targets set late in the spring. The media campaigns that surrounded it were also strong and over delivered their targets. In terms of press and reputation, I think the program went beyond what I expected. So, victory will be declared, I need to lock down the final report on the interactive component of Olympic sponsorship today for a review with the CEO next Tuesday.
  2. A theoretical post on the future of athletic blogging and its place in the long tail. I sense that PC and consumer electronics marketing is going from what we call “spec pods” (speeds, capacities, dimensions) to a more task/application model. In the mid-80s, customers of the first PCs didn’t ask for an “8088 with 256K RAM” – they wanted a “Lotus 1-2-3 machine” for financial modeling. Today, Best Buy and other retails are starting to show more products marketed with an end-state, or goal in mind. “Get your video on YouTube.” I think the same is coming to consumer PC marketing as the so-called Web 2.0/Social Media revolution climbs down from the mountain of hype and into a sustainable state where everybody from chatty teens to Michael Phelps to your mom begins to seek hardware and software on the basis of how it activates the new consumer of model of “click, consume, contribute” rather than the old one of “configure and confusion.”
  3. Search as the proxy for brand awareness and media impact on brands. Avinash Kaushik, guru of web metrics gurus at Google throws the question at my feet about why Google Analytics is showing a decline in ThinkPad searches and an increase in Lenovo searches. As we ran a butt-load of television through NBC during the Games, TV that was designed to build awareness of the word “Lenovo” in the minds of the American public, we saw some interesting side effects, not direct effects that one would expect. So …. Share of voice. Pre- and Post-awareness. Readers of this blog know I detest the notion that one can build a brand online through mindless repetition and pure SOV – that I believe brand is earned through a reputation for customer service and word of mouth about one’s excellence. All well and good. But when the brand actually spends three weeks advertising like its top competition does all of the time what is the net effect and what can be learned the morning after?
  4. Digital rights vs. broadcast rights: I believe we’ll see some interesting divisions in the old broadcast model of large events, with Fox, NBC, Eurosport spending a lot of money for exclusive broadcast rights. I bet that the IOC and NFL and others are going to get wise and sell off the digital rights in a separate stream very soon. When that happens, whoo-ee, if Beijing wasn’t a web experience, just wait a few years. It’s a coming.
  5. China SMM: lots of smart thoughts and insights shared at a final lunch with Will Moss, Sam Flemming and Kaiser Kuo. I need to digest, but let’s say the forthcoming US blogger tour of China is going to open some eyes in a big way – not necessarily positive. First off – China is not a blogger’s paradise. As Sam F. has pointed out – the world is built on forums over there. As Kaiser puts it, blogs are what he calls “Sick Kitty Blogs” (This is my kitty. My kitty is sick. Please send me money so I can take my kitty to the doctor.)

So, lots on my mind, lots to do, a desk to clean off, mementos to catalogue and now a holiday weekend on my doorstep. The crickets are frantic in the darkness, the paperboy just tossed the Times onto the end of the clamshell driveway, in two hours the bonito should be crashing out in the Sound, and I’ve got a lot to answer for.

Whereabouts August 27-Sept 1

Right now I am in the Dulles Hilton, victim of a missed connection last night that would have had me home by now. I am zen, took the voucher, ate a cheeseburger at the bar, saw the Sox spanked the Yanks, drank two Sierra Nevada’s went to bed and dreamt of missed plane connections .;… the kind where the concourse gets longer as I run down it weighed down by bags of dirty laundry, phone chargers, cameras, laptops, reading glasses …..

I’ll be home by noon. Depending on the weather, I expect to use the rest of this week to decompress from Beijing, finish an human resources project, plan for a workshop in Bangalore early next month, write my keynote for the Folio show in Chicago, and think about, but not commit to a final week or two of summer vacation around the end of September on the Vineyard (highly unlikely). Long weekend is here, my two oldest are already back at college, youngest starts high school in a week or so. Weird, it’s going to be like coming to home to the fairgrounds after the circus has left town, some evidence of the party will remain, some scraps blowing across the midway, but no clowns or performers …..

So, friends and colleagues. You can safely phone me now without worrying if you will be waking me up.

Trio of China Bloggers

I was scheduled to meet Sam Flemming from CIC Data, the top China social media consulting and monitoring company at 2 pm today, but spaced out and was on my way to Tien’amen Square to snap some shots and buy a new 50 mm 1.8 portrait lens. I got an email from a colleague telling me I was in serious hot water for blogging about how I was conning Beijing cabbies into taking the special Olympic lanes on the ring roads on the basis of my ordinary yellow IOC/BOCOG security pass placed on the dashboard. Since there was a URL of a site that apparently was linking to me – (no such site exists of course, but I am gullible as well as a flaming doofus) – I flew back to my hotel room to do damage control. I got into the room, fired up the PC, and there was a direct Tweet from Sam confirming our 2 pm which we had scheduled a month ago.

Whoops. Right. That meeting. As I sent a direct tweet back to Sam and checked my email it dawned on me that I was the victim of a classic jape at the hands of my colleagues who watched me wrestle all last week with a certain entity which shall not be mentioned. They knew I was paranoid and a perfect sitting duck for a practical joke. Got me. Nice.

I call Sam and Sam is in the hotel already getting ready to have lunch in the mall with Kaiser Kuo – he of my top ten resolutions for Beijing list, founding member of China’s first heavy metal band, the Tang Dynasty, and premier Sino-Social blogger and interactive expert from Ogilvy. So I invited myself to finally meet Kaiser.

We did dim sum, told stories, I learned a pantload about SMM and interactive trends – like more in the course of a lunch than in three years of China watching from the States. Then we got onto one topic of another and that led to my saying I wished I could meet the Imagethief, (blog won’t load for me due to a neverbeforeseen “compression” error) Will Moss, with whom I’ve swapped mutual admiration links in the past. Aha, Will works in the same plaza as the hotel, so Kaiser dialed him up and within the hour we were all sitting in the coffee shop yakking it up some more.

Will Moss, Sam Flemming, and Kaiser Kuo

Will brought along Ben Ross, who has been blogging about his experiences as a shampoo/massage boy in a Chinese barber shop. (The kind with scissors, Will and Kaiser were keen to point out). Pretty wild stuff.

This was a great way to spend my second to last afternoon, and after we broke up I made my way to the Nikon dealership, bought the lens, then walked back through Tien’amen and the back streets to the hotel. Off to the farewell staff party, then I pack. Tomorrow will have to be souvenir day. No rowing at Shunyi – the course is locked down in preparation for the Paralympics which begin this week. Thanks to Sam, Kaiser and Will for the nice reception, makes me want to move to China all the more.



Drew Ginn: farewell to Beijing

Drew Ginn was the athlete I went to first, the blogging gold medal winning rower from Australia, who, with his partner and childhood friend Duncan Free were going to repeat their success in past Games with a gold at Shunyi. Drew personified the kind of athlete that I wanted in the Voices of the Summer Olympics program, an avid blogger, photographer, vlogger. An athlete who understood, who knew how to present a story and build connections with fans. I tracked him down and one night late last winter we spoke on Skype. He was a little wary — rowers don’t get a lot of sponsors — but after some explanation he said, “I’m in.”

And so we were started, with a great paradigm of an athlete to show to other recruits as a model to follow.

Last night Drew sadly watched the closing ceremonies from the Athlete Village, incapacitated by a back injury, the bane of elite oarsmen. He’s facing surgery. He’s facing retirement. His final posts from the Games are a bittersweet reminder of the sacrifice and glory of competition at the very top of the scale. I wanted to post this to say “thanks Drew”; thanks for kicking off one of the most rewarding projects I’ve ever been associated with. And to the other 99 athletes, words fail me. You delivered an insider’s view of the Games that has never before been made available. I don’t think the Games will ever be the same again.

“This has been the most amazing experience. The games, our performance, others performances, the support, the expectations, the conditions, wonderful reactions, failure, crushing moments, elation, and family and friends. The list goes on and on but from where I have sat it has blown me away and even with the pain of my back now become an increasing concern as to my longer term health, I am still buzzing and excited and about everything that I have seen and been part of. In fact it is as if I can not type fast enough.”

Drew Ginn.

Closing ceremony? I drank beer & went to dinner instead …

No fireworks and fan dancers for me. No way. I ate large with my buddies and caught the end of the show on TV. I’ll buy the DVD and watch it this winter when it’s nasty outside. Tomorrow is a day off! Going to go find some serious Chinese olympic garb (rowing shirts, baseball jerseys), load up on souveniers for the gang, maybe check out some sights with the camera, then hit the big staff party blow out (invitation says it goes until 2).

I can’t believe this is done. Longest three weeks of my life hands down. Need to find something to fill the gap the Olympics filled for the past 20 months of my life.  The next chapter is going to be an interesting one I think.

USA for the win — basketball and thus the Games end

I copped a last-second ticket to the gold medal game between Spain and the USA, jumped into the VIP van with one of the wealthiest men in India, (bet him 100 rmb the US would conduct a basketball clinic to the tune of a 35 point spread, a bet I lost and which proves I remain the planet’s biggest sports dork). The game was back at Wukesong Stadium (site of yesterday’s gold medal baseball game), and in no time I was walking in the sunshine amongst some rapper types and their ladies.

Nice stadium, classic Lenovo seats — mid-court and up in the first loge. Surrounded by frantic fans of Spain, with a good contingent of loud USA-chanters right behind me.

The game? Ummm….. Basketball after Larry Bird is lost on me.  It’s every man for himself, lots of travelling, and no precision teamwork. The old Bird-Parrish-McHale-Johnson teams of the early 80s …. that’s what I like to watch. But, enough bitching. I was at the last event of these Games and digging it.

Spain came out strong, never permitted the USA Dream Team to walk away with it, and actually led for a good portion of the first quarter. Spanish fans were insane, but for the first time in the past two weeks I actually heard some good old fashioned American fan spirit. This is our Game, so shut up and watch how it’s played.

The crowd was the action — as Fester puts it, leave the action photos to the pros with the Bazooka lenses and focus on people. People are the most interesting thing, and sure enough, that was indeed the case today.

I gave up a chance at a closing ceremony ticket. No sports there, I can see fireworks off of Oyster Harbors on the Fourth of July, and there’s a slim chance Zhang Yimou is going to top his opener (famous last words, I owe the dude from India a hundred yuan because the final margin was like ten points, not 35). I rather get a great dinner at the Xian place Mike Mann showed me last Sunday (I’ve since been back and am on my way there now), could Tsingtaos, some “fried rib” (best f$%%&ing thing I’ve ever eaten), “beef on fire” Guizou-style fried rice …..

I’ll watch the action from the bar on the roof of the Hyatt, check out the fireworks over Tienanmen … then call it a night and the end of these Games. I am ready for a swim on the point of Dead Neck, some rug wrestling with the dogs, and a deep breath of Cape Cod air!

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