Monday, August 10, 2009

This Blog (address is dead)...Long Live the Blog

So...this weekend I decided to test drive Wordpress...and ended up driving it off the lot the same day.

This blog will now continue on at:

You can also find the main page at

Cheers all!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

A response (an @, not a 'd')

A day and a half ago I'm sitting at my work PC, working on some client nonsense or such when I received a direct message which read, "OMFG we are being so rude according to shankman - we @ reply each other WAY too much." [This was during Tuesday's HARO call with @skydiver and@chrisbrogan -- BTW, if you're not following them, follow them - what's wrong w/ you? They give great info and are certainly worth the follow].

Anyone who follows me knows this is at least partially true -- I tweet (and @ reply) a lot. Tons -- I've been on twitter for about a year and as of this writing have 14K tweets. My last thousand tweets averaged out to nearly 150 tweets per day (not bragging, just making sure everyone saw the unit of time). I tweet about everything - client/journalist pet peeves; what I'm listening to; reading; blogs I'm commenting on; and yes even occasionally what I'm eating.

Of course my initial response was, "You and I got called out specifically on a HARO call?" I was a bit impressed. Of course this wasn't the case. Before commenting I waited to get the mp3 and wasn't as inflammatory as I had originally thought, the full conversation (which followed a discussion of follower loyalty vs. number of followers) was this (Peter speaking in this quote):

[some sentence fragments removed for readability]
"...they [someone commenting on twitter I believe] disagree, it's about answering, talking and answering your followers and having conversations on twitter. And Chris you might argue with me on this. I don't believe that you should respond to every single person who responds to you in the public using an @ reply. I tend to direct message anyone who sends me an @ reply unless it's something of value to the bigger audience. In my opinion, if you send me a question and I reply to you and it's a personal question or it's not of interest to everyone I'm being rude to 50,000 of my followers who might not care so I'm very very big on the dm not so big on the @ reply in a public forum. There are other people who disagree with that, there are companies who will @ reply every single person with the most trivial facts, if that works for them great - I just don't believe once you hit a critical mass on twitter that that's worth it...Chris what do you think about that?" [Chris's Skype connection conked out. When he returned he agreed with Peter and the conversation tangented to a quick discussion of multiple accounts.]
I'm one of those who disagree.

First, a few notes:

a) I appreciate that Peter notes it might work for some people,
b) I'm not Peter and don't have anywhere (and likely never will have anywhere) near his following.
c) I certainly don't know what the critical mass is, but it's presumably somewhere between my 1,800 followers and his 49,000.

Here's what I do know:

a) off ALL of my off topic, sometimes nonsensical, double entendre laden tweets never have I been told I'm tweeting too much. Have I been unfollowed -- sure. Do I know why -- of course not.
b) some of the best conversations I've had with people would not have happened if I wasn't tweeting nearly everything publicly.

More re: b) -- when you do follow a decent number of people, individual tweets become blurred. If you only tweet once about a subject it's very likely to get caught in the larger stream of those watching and very potentially never seen. If you're having a good, interactive conversation you've got a better chance of being heard and others joining the conversation.

IMHO this leads back to the greatest question of the twitter-age -- Why are you using twitter? I, personally use it as my own water cooler not soap box. A place to have conversations with others on the topics of the day and our lives.

When asked about twitter by Luddites I compare it to a cocktail party -- you walk in, may know a few people there and can join or initiate any conversation without it being rude or intrusive. At the same time you can pull someone to the side and have a private conversation with them. But if we begin conversations and immediately pull the person we're speaking with aside and talk only to them about it we're losing the possibility that someone else in the group may have something of value to contribute to the conversation.

Simply put, IMHO (and compared to these two giants in the industry it is my own humble opinion) -- until you ask, or allow for the possibility, there is no way to know what will and what won't interest any number of your followers and to block that from happening by moving to directs immediately isn't what twitter's about (for me at least).

Of course asking everyone about their interests, keeping a record of it, and then somehow involving them in certain conversations is impractical if not impossible (remember, no multi-directs) on twitter. That leaves allowing for it to happen naturally -- i.e responding publicly, the way the question was asked and see who pipes up. You never know what hidden gems you've got in your following until you let them know what you're talking about and who else may be able to participate.

Proof of this came to me a few weeks back at Masquertweet, and I fully expect it to happen again at #MNH --

I had a few, personally great moments at the event. The first of course being able to help 12for12K raise money for their July charity Eye Care for Kids.

The other joy, mostly unnoticed by others thanks to my mask, was seeing people I had been talking to for months and had introduced to each other online finally meet each other in person, and have real conversations about work, play and everything in between -- without me doing any sort of weird twitter-matchmaker handholding. Some of them even making individual plans to get together and continue their conversations following the event. These were connections that may not have happened but for my introduction and I have no doubt that I was able to make those introductions because I chat up everyone publicly and allow the possibility that my followers will find each other interesting separate and apart from me.

This even took place NOT at an event -- by leaving the door open for the possibility of a natural friendship to develop between two agencies I knew individually and had introduced to each other a new, hopefully life-long bond, has been forged. A connection (among many others) which fills me with joy each time I see any of them @, RT or #FF the other.

I'm not a big believer in #Followfriday, but each time I'm included in a #FF grouping and every other name I see is one I know, and I recognize introductions I've made, I glow a little bit. If these two (or more) random people have connected and like each other enough to now pay attention to each other (and become friends), and I was in some small way a part of that process it's makes my Friday and my twitter life just that bit better.

Just my own $0.02.

Monday, August 3, 2009

PRCog's Basic Guide to butchering English for 140 chars....

I'm a long-winded twitter frequently doesn't give me enough elbow room to do my wordsmithing (or add comments to a RT, etc.). So, I butcher English instead and abbreviate the heck out of everything I can. @PRDude is also a frequent violator, perhaps even more extreme in his abbrs than me.

This, as you might imagine, frequently causes confusion and apparently a productivity loss with some (sorry Arik!). It has also inspired some fun mockery & an odd flrry o disc. on whthr this pst itslf shld be wrttn in Cog-esse.

& So, w/o further butchering, the "Basic Guide" (post may be updated as I'm reminded of other abbrvs. Advanced guide e-book available for $19.95, with a mini book light included with your credit card order ;)

Basic Rules

Go with accepted abbreviations:
  • WSJ (Wall Street Journal);
  • NYT (NY Times);
  • State abbreviations (remember, Missouri is MO, not MI; MI is Michigan; not Mississippi; which is actually MS -- not Missouri);
  • w/ (with);
  • w/o (without);
  • PRC (PR Cog) [that is an accepted abbreviation, yes?)
  • WTF
  • WTH
  • Eff (tho writing this one out can feel better)
Write it like it sounds, or should/would sound:
  • Tho (Though)
  • 2 (To/Too/Two--context helps)
  • Thru (Through/Threw)
  • NE1 (Anyone/any one)
  • U (You)
  • U'r (You're)
  • Ur (Your)
  • L8 (Late)
  • c8r (cater)
  • Caveats - Abbreviations that make it look like you have a 3rd grade education are NOT acceptable -- e.g., never use "Rite" for Write or Right. "Rt" is acceptable for Right. Wood for Would is a no-go, but Wld for would is fine (see below); Abbreviating names w/ phonics is frowned upon, go with initials if necessary. [UPDATE: As @tjdietderich points out RT maybe can be confused for a Retweet. Context is important]
The Apostrophe is your friend -- when your meaning is clear
  • G'Morning (Good Morning) [It does help if they're southern expressions]
  • G'day (Good Day)
  • M'dear (My dear)
  • M'Goodness (you see where this is going...)
Drop your vowels -- at least 1 language I know of doesn't use vowels (above school grade writing). Sound/Meaning is derived from context and the approximate sound
  • Mrkt (market)
  • twttr (Twitter)
  • Dsk (desk or disk depending on context)
  • Abt (About)
  • Trn (turn)
  • Arnd (around)
  • The lst is endlss
  • Caveat(s) -- Do not drop a vowel when it will make a different word - "they" cannot become "thy."
That covers the basics for 'Butchering English to fit in 140 chars or less' during ur lnch hrs -- more &/or updts l8r as they bcome req'd or cm 2 my attn. :-P

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

#Masquertweet behaviour

Apparently I've become the poster child of anonymous tweeters (at least in our own little circle). Over the last few days I've heard a few concerns from the other anonymous tweeters about maintaining their security and keeping their (lack of) identity at the event.

I thought this went without saying....but just in case.....

Any kind of misconduct, harassing behavior or motions to un-mask (literally or figuratively) someone at #Masquertweet simply will not be tolerated. I'm all about a good joke and having a fun time (and if you're not then why in the world would you be following my feed), but we all know the stakes in this little game we call life and should all know where the lines are drawn.

If anyone is unclear on this - lemme know. I'm happy to discuss it - you know where to find me.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Social Media: The great communicator?

Rambling a bit on this one...not enough coffee...

In a recent WSJ article from our own Julia Angwin she notes that digital small talk really doesn't replace a 1-on-1 interaction for finding out what's going on with old friends (BTW - in this case 'our own' refers to the twitter community).

Julia's (terriffic piece) is spot on regarding known friends - friends who we may hesitate to open a vein to because they were that much a part of the building of our own self-image through high school, college and our early careers that we have to keep that persona up with them. That is unless of course we've made a 180 in our lives and don't give a darn anymore.

The segment that goes unaddressed in Julia's piece are those who would not have met without Twitter and other social networks (Nota Bene: I don't include FB and LI in this segment. For my proper personae I only use those for people I actually know or have worked with. Twitter on the other hand is an orgy. I do know a number of others who will connect with anyone on either - that's simply not my style.)

Referencing my last post and making a bit of an exception to it (I promise I'm not bipolar but rather just see many shades of gray) - there are those I've met initially on twitter, followed by a long 'acquaintance curve' that once I actually do meet them in person or have a phone call with them, may actually be more aware of where they are now in their lives than a 'long lost' friend may be even with the assistance of status updates given my lack of prejudice from having known them for years.

For anyone tracking it, I've had the unadulterated pleasure of meeting a handful of you. With each coffee/drink meeting we were able to talk immediately, comfortably, completely passing over the awkward small talk of old acquaintances or the false notion of complete familiarity FB updates may bring. Each conversation would likely have gone on for many more hours (and some in fact did go on for hours).

The topic of twitter as the great icebreaker actually came up in May (sorry I can't find the entire thread).

Of course the proof is in the pudding - it'll be interesting to see how this all pans out next week at Masquertweet and we all get to play with a hundred-ish of our favorite people we've never met.

(PS -- Julia, you are, of course, invited Masquertweet. I'm sure there's more than one of us that would love to talk SM with you).

Thursday, July 2, 2009

How Twitter will die...

(Thank goodness I don't need subheads - not sure I can be that optimistic twice in a row.... ;) )

No, I don't mean the company, I mean how it will die for each of us individually.

As a number of you know I'm an old-school hacker (in this sense). Everything from spending hours tinkering with the order of loading up TSRs in my autoexec.bat and config.sys files to get the most from my 2MB of RAM to coding HTML in DOS 'Edit' before there were any worthwhile HTML editor applications. Back in the day this kind of thing went hand-in-hand with message and file boards to trade secrets, tricks and hacks.

And so, for many of us it all really begins with the BBS. Like so many to-be hackers of the time I was hooked from that first time I heard my 2400 bps modem connect to a BBS (a WWIV system I'll note). It only took days until I began saving up for a 14.4k bps ....

This was still back in those precious days when BBSes, Rock music and staring at a computer screen were all the cause of angsty and withdrawn teenagers in the mass media. Anyone who participated back then surely recalls their parents asking
  • "What do you talk to 'those people' about?"
  • "Why would you send messages to someone you don't know?"
  • "It must only be perverts and criminals - you will stop now or [Insert threat]."
Yes, it's the same questions we get now from the luddites - why would someone I don't know care about what I'm doing or what I thought of a particular movie?

And it's the same reason - we're social creatures and for some of us this is a preferred way to connect, for better or worse ... but that's a post for a different day.

Since then, so for nearly 20 years, I've pretty much done it all:
  • ran (or as they would've called it then - SysOp-ed) my own BBSes, Co-SysOped others; even posting against myself to build interest in the system (Hmmm, maybe I should talk to someone about this MPD ;) )
  • played in aol chat rooms
  • admined IRC and other live (actual live - no APIs and no fail whales) chat systems
  • organized and promoted listservs/mailing-lists
  • and the list goes on....
I've avoided playing with online communities (or as we're now calling them - social networks) for the last few years since I've seen how it works and with the assistance of my crystal ball know how it'll end and had little reason to rejoin the fun...

(Disclaimer - this applies to the 'everyday' users, not writers/journalists/bloggers or Sm. Businesses who use the service to ply their wares. It's for those of us who discuss booze, dinner plans, work, yoga classes, what our kids are up to, etc. The "real conversations" on the service - where you can figure out a user's top "friends," recommendations, potential FollowFridays simply by looking at their last 40 tweets or their stats. Take a look at my most frequent @'s - I couldn't even begin to dispute the conclusions that can be drawn from it in terms of who I speak to, or have spoken to, on a regular basis historically).

And so, one day, it'll happen a few years down the line - you'll come back from a business trip, long vacation, or sick leave and simply not have the time or energy to login to twitter and your life will continue with no (or minimal) negative effect.

Out of a distorted sense of obligation you'll eventually login, but won't participate like you did before - conversation threads will be lost, the tweeple you only chatted with occasionally will be lost in the static, and your 'regulars' will even be logging in less or their conversations will become diluted as more people join. Then you'll go for weeks without logging in....

Notices of DMs will skim by in your email (assuming you're even signed up for the notices) unless it's from someone you've taken the care to trade actual emails with and even then you'll find yourself replying to them in email. A relationship growth to be sure, but not twitter based which is the topic of this post. Eventually you'll simply not bother to login except when bored on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon with a good drink to see what's going on and even that will stop at some point...

Fast-forward a bit more and...

One day, 5-10 years in the future. Any loosely knit circles of friends you've developed have spread to the four winds and something will spark a memory - A new coworker with a less common spelling of Erik/Arik, mention of a Cog being broken on a gear or someone using the word twitter to actually refer to what birds do and you'll recall a tweet, incident (perhaps a public tweet meant to be a Direct), or maybe even this paragraph.

A smile will pass over your face and for a moment you'll pause. You'll wonder what happened to all those people you 'knew' and spent hours, days even, talking to...and the-then real life will catch up and time will move forward once more.

You'll make vain attempts to reach out to a few of them, but alas cell phone numbers and email addresses change, people become impossible to find, and even if you do find them after half a decade what do you have to chit-chat about that was so special back then in '09? The feeling won't be anything easy to express - just a feeling of a deep (now hollow) friendship, memories of fun, and a sense of loss.

For anyone who was using technology to connect 5-10 years ago - AOL chat rooms, message boards, forums, etc. - Do you still go to the same haunts? Do you have any connections from those prior platforms that moved on with you to twitter and facebook (excluding maybe pre-existing real life connections)?

If yes, then you're certainly a better man than me.

Conclusion - I don't have a real one....

It's up to each of us to make of this what we want. If it's deep relationships, continuing friendships, lasting connections - then make it real. Meet your people, email with them, let them in and buck this trend. If this is just a game, a time-killer, or something to do during calls - then continue on, but one day you will know you've lost something.

(And yes, before the comments begin I do see the irony in this coming from me -- the one who doesn't even post his real name).

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Masquertweet Update

Yes - Plans for #Masquertweet are proceeding. Everything is shaping up quite nicely and we expect to have a venue announcement in the next few days.

But, even more exciting, I'm pleased (ok, thrilled really) to announce that all proceeds from Masquertweet will go to 12for12K (or more specifcally their selected July charity).

So, how do I look in blue?

What's 12for12K you ask - well if you've been under a twitter rock (twock?) for the last few months...go here for the best possible explanation.

Over the last few weeks I've had the sheer joy of tweeting, talking and even meeting with some of the lovely 12for12K people - @rachelakay, @ginalaguardia, @arikhanson and of course the 12for12K ringleader @dannybrown (there's too many to name here, but it's a start). This should go without saying, but just in case - follow them ....I'll wait.

Anyway, while working on plans for #Masquertweet @prdude, @aerocles and I realized that in addition to having piles of fun at the event there was room to do some good. Knowing the fine 12for12K people we reached out and things progressed from there.

So know, in addition to having a blast, you can do some good for the world at this July's first-ever Masquertweet.

For full details on the event -, RSVP at Some details are still up in the air, but we're always looking for additional sponsors, tie-ins, giveaways or other fundraising ideas. If you or your clients may be interested in playing in the sandbox with us, please do not hesitate to be in touch - prcog1 [at]

More details to be posted here as they become available, so keep an eye out and RSVP (even as a maybe) and we'll be in touch.