Friday, March 20, 2009

How can your company benefit from open sourcing code

Users love open source software because, usually, it's free and works well. Companies, on the other hand, tend to take a wary approach to open sourcing code for a variety of reasons. This Google Talk is a great discussion of the benefits a company can reap by simply open sourcing software code.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Carrie Underwood & Randy Travis: An amazing performance

Anyone who knows me know I'm not a huge country fan. While I can appreciate a lot of it, it's usually not something that's even on my radar. But last night, I sat spellbound as country superstars Randy Travis and Carrie Underwood performed a duet that simply brought tears to my eyes. This has got to be one of the most amazing performances I've ever seen by either of these singers and I wanted to share it with you.

The song "I told you so" is a classic by Travis that's one of my all time favorites. His version is incredible; their version together: mindblowing. It's raw, universal, and absolutely beautiful.

Friday, March 13, 2009

The American Blood Lust: Alive and well in 2009

CORRECTION: Benard Madoff has not yet gone to trial. This article incorrectly stated that he had been tried. To date, he has not.

As I watched the news coverage of the Bernard Madoff trial and his subsequent conviction earlier this week, I was struck by both a sense of relief that Mr. Madoff was no longer free to continue perpetrating his schemes on innocent people and sadness by the absolute lust for revenge I saw in some of his victims. The story repeated itself over and over as news outlets interviewed victims and asked their feelings about the fact that Madoff, who at 70 had been convicted of over $50 billion dollars in financial fraud, could be sentenced to over 150 years in prison for his crimes.

Repeatedly, I heard victims express that, even though Madoff would spend the rest of his life in prison, it still wasn't enough to satisfy their blood lust. From the tone of the interviews, the death penalty would have possibly sufficed but, too bad, it wasn't on the table.

All because of money.

Don't get me wrong, I get that people lost their life savings and some, like a 60 year old New York trial lawyer interviewed by Fox News, will probably have to continue to work a number of more years than they'd originally planned. But, in the end, it still is a financial crime. Madoff didn't kill anyone, he wasn't on the street selling drugs to neighborhood children, and, while his crimes did impact the lives of thousands of people, he isn't really a danger to society.

I think what surprised me, and surprises me almost every time cases like this come to our national attention, is our absolute need for revenge. It's not good enough that he's punished, we want him crushed. And for what reason? Is Madoff spending the rest of his life in prison going to assure that his victims get their money back? Will their lives be any better once he is incarcerated and suffering than it was while he was living in his multimillion dollar penthouse? Of course not, but that doesn't stop us from lusting after his complete destruction.

Wouldn't it make more sense to give Mr. Madoff a shorter prison sentence then make him work to pay his investors back? He's a smart, ambitious, man who could easily make millions of dollars a year that could be paid back to his victims instead of the measly $500,000 that many of them will get back in compensation for losing millions. Wouldn't that be a greater, yet fairer, punishment? Still, the American psyche demands, not only punishment, but extreme punishment. It doesn't matter if we have to continue to suffer as long as the offender is in greater pain we are. We don't want justice, we want revenge. Blood.

I'm disappointed and I think this entire case could have been handled much better. Still, in the end, it's never justice that wins; it's always our deep and abiding thirst for revenge.

And that is a true American shame.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Blogging is personal

When I first started writing this blog, I made the decision that I was not going to share it with friends, family, and close business associates. My reasoning was that, if I knew people who actually knew me were reading, I'd be more likely to censor what I post and think in the "what if they think bad of me" mindset. It's not that I don't care what people I don't know think of me, but there's something odd about someone you know reading and potentially critiquing your work that is strangely disconcerting.

Yet, over the last year, those very personal connections have led to extraordinary things: three long lost family members, an old English teacher who thought I'd become a writer, and one new friend all found me because of this blog.

That's when it hit me how powerfully personal a blog really is. If you're honest with your words, people can really get to know you through what you write. Just as people identify closely with their favorite newspaper columnist, bloggers too have an incredible opportunity to share themselves with their readers in a way that, in some ways, rivals face to face communication.

I'm definitely not one of the best or most interesting bloggers out there. But, in everything I post, I try to be honest. I don't duck and hide and I don't obsess about how my words will be perceived by those reading them. Instead, I simply sit at my computer and begin to write whatever is flowing through my mind at the moment. Often, I'm surprised by what comes out and, a few times, I've actually ended up writing something completely different that what I set out to write. Writing my blog is as much of an adventure to me as it is to those of you who graciously read it.

Writing, especially writing with a personal voice, is cathartic. Through writing, you can share one of the most interesting and, often, most deeply hidden part of yourself. You can work through issues, share thoughts, or just be silly and have fun. Personally, I encourage everyone to blog. Even if you don't think you have anything to say, just sit at your computer and write.

Your voice will come.
People will listen.
Write it and they will come.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Can Twitter replace blogging?

I've always loved to write. There's something about sitting down and putting your thoughts into words that offers both a sense of power and a sense of clarity. When I started this blog, my intention was to try to write something every day. Maybe I wouldn't write something profound or deeply meaningful, but I wanted to get a new thought out every day. Just to keep the juices flowing.

Fast forward a few months and, as you can see by the frequency of my posting, that hasn't happened. But it's not because I don't have time or energy or even things to say. It's all because of Twitter and I'm seeing the same phenomenon happening all over the blogging world.

Sometimes, you want to say something but don't need a lot of space to do it. While I know many people do short blog posts, I've never really understood the point. For me, blogging is as much a mental closet cleaning as it is creative and my posts almost always run long. Many times, however, I just want to share a cool URL or a video or some other meaningless piece of information and, for that, Twitter saves the day.

I think Twitter is slowly going to nearly completely replace blogging as the expressive outlet for many people. It lets you get your point out quickly, easily, succinctly, and without having to find useless filler. Already, I'm seeing the posting rate of Twitter connected bloggers fall dramatically and in direct correlation with their rising Twitter usage. Why go on for 300 words when you can say it in 140 characters?

Don't get me wrong, I don't see a day coming soon when all of our information will come in the form of one unending Twitter stream. Blogging will always have its place. But I think Twitter is opening up a whole new avenue for the "non-blogger blogger" - those who have something to say, but don't have a lot to say. Blogging can be intimidating for a newbie. Twitter is friendly, accessible, easy to use.

What about you? Do you blog and use Twitter as well? How has your Twitter usage affected your blogging? Do you see a time when you might use Twitter exclusively as your expressive medium of choice?