Big Week

When I worked for Apple we had these little ‘credo cards’ with a sort of retail division manifesto inside.

One of the lines included was:

“At Apple, our most important resource, our soul, is our people.”

Outside of Apple this is something that has stuck with me. I think it’s a really great perspective to have honestly. I value people over things. I say it often, but not everyone understand it about me: the most important thing in my life is my friends.

I truly believe that if you go through life with this perspective it’ll come back to you in spades and you’ll make the world a little bit better for everyone.

I’m very fortunate to have amazing and talented friends in my life. I’m really proud of them.

This week my good friend Zoran left Chicago behind to pursue his filmmaking career our in Los Angeles. I’m extremely sad to see him go but I’m really excited at what lies ahead. I know he needs to do this for himself and I have no doubt he’s going to do big things out there.

Zoran’s final project in Chicago was a music video for our friends’ band: Common Shiner.

The project has been going on for months and included just about everyone I know who logically could be included, actors, musicians, photographers… you name it. The final project is a true labor of love under Zoran’s direction that I’m incredibly proud to have been a part of.

The video will debut on Wednesday night here in Chicago at Mayne Stage.

You can get the details here.

Incredibly, that’s not all going on this week or even that night. At the same night, at the very same show, my very good friend Jeff Brown will be releasing his new EP. While I didn’t have a hand in Jeff’s EP, I know this has been a long process for him as well and I’m excited to have the chance to be there.

As if that wasn’t enough, we’ll be saying another goodbye on Thursday night as well. My friends Charles and Emily, better known as Duck and Goose, will be releasing their long awaited album. The duo funded the project through Kickstarter and spent countless hours in the studio working with some amazing people to release an album, that if it’s 1/10th as beautiful as their live shows, will leave people in awe. Unfortunately this will be Duck and Goose’s final show as Emily will be leaving Chicago soon to pursue her education further in Seattle.

Finally, the incomparable Xoë Wise will be opening for Duck and Goose. As far as I know Xoë doesn’t have anything special going on for this show but she’s a wonderful human being and a heck of a musician.

Details here for Duck and Goose with Xoë Wise and others.

August was really hard last year and this year seems to be shaping up to be pretty tough as well. I’m really proud and really excited for all of my friends and I’m extremely grateful to have such amazing people in my life.

Johalla Projects Presents POCKET CHANGE

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I’m usually not one to blog about other people’s events but I really believe that my friend Anna and Johalla Projects are up to good things here.

POCKET CHANGE is a collaboration art/music series with The Empty Bottle. The events intent to raise money to fund public arts projects throughout Chicago.

This Thursday Feb 20, 2014 at 9pm POCKET CHANGE will feature the work of  Ryan Duggan entitled ‘LAST CALL O-MATIC.’ Ryan will install a modified vending machine that will dispense “last call” pick up lines and fake phone numbers. I’m not personally familiar with Ryan’s work but I’m interested by this for sure.

Additionally the event will feature a DJ set by Heather Gabel. Heather is a fantastic artist in her own right probably best known for her work with Alkaline Trio.

Admission is $5 and includes a complementary PBR.

The last of these events was in October and featured the work of Heather Gabel and Matt Skiba at which I shot this image as part of my Impossible Year project:

Heather Gabel, Anna Cerniglia, and Matt Skiba at the Empty Bottle

Enjoy great art, listen to great music, and help make Chicago more interesting. All while enjoying everyone’s favorite low-brow brew. What’s not to like?

I’ll be there for sure. Hope to see you!

Check out the event on Facebook

Grateful for you.

I often say that the most important thing in my life is my friends.

And I’m pretty fortunate to have many friends in many different places.

A few months back I lost a dear friend, Matt Ryd, when he took his own life. Someone who I was close with, but honestly, regret not being closer to.

Since moving to Chicago in 2007 I’ve found myself in a wonderful community of nerds, artists, comedians, and musicians. One of the central figures of this community was Matt. We met through mutual friends, he welcomed me in with open arms, and we became friends. I’d look forward to seeing him at his shows or other ones in the community. Now, suddenly he’s gone.

Since he left, our quirky little community has banded together around his loss. We’ve put together three concerts in his name to raise money and awareness for causes he found dear.

Even departed, he still sits in the center. In losing Matt I’ve discovered a lot about myself and found some great new friends in the process. And I don’t think I’m alone in this. While I’d give anything to have him back, this is proof that every cloud has a silver lining.

Thanksgiving was a few days ago and various friends of mine were posting the things they were grateful for in their Facebook statuses.

I simply posted:

“I’m grateful for you.”

I meant it. Especially you though Matt.

Thank you.

Questions and Answers about ‘Tile’

The other day I came across this new crowdfunded gadget: Tile. The idea behind it is one I’ve wished existed for many years. Long and short: It’s a tiny little Bluetooth powered location tracker that you place on your keys, luggage, bag, bike etc. The benefits of this are great and their video does an excellent job of selling it.

I’m intrigued that it will prevent me from ever misplacing my keys in my own home again. However, as with any advancement in technology: “With great power comes great responsibility.” This product raises some technical and privacy questions to me and the company’s FAQ seemed to mainly exist to placate angry Android customers, so I fired off an email to their ‘contact’ address and here are the results.

You have your introductory price but what will the second year cost me? / Will you offer a recycling discount for sending you our old tiles?

Tile replacements are likely to be discounted for customers, but since we are still in development phase the final cost is not yet determined. Replacement Tiles will come with a return envelope with postage paid. All Tiles are recycled or refurbished depending on condition.

Tile requires no battery charging or battery replacement hassles, ever. It’s all about ease of use and being cost effective as compared fo similar solutions. You could buy enough Tiles to last you three years before you would match the cost of buying other solutions that require constant charging and are quite bigger, and not waterproof.

If I buy a tile, when does the year start? At manufacturing, order, or do I “activate” it somehow? If I buy two tiles now, can I hold off “activating” the second one until my first one dies? Will it hold a charge until this hypothetical activation?

A Tile’s year of use starts when you take possession of it. Withholding use of a Tile does not prevent a drain on the battery. Use them for a year and then replace. Easy. Also, Tiles are registered via the Tile app.

What kind of access to my tile data do you have? Could the NSA, in theory, demand access to your servers and see my tile’s location history? Or, with your permission, use another tile to locate my tile like your video shows with the bike?

Tile is still in the development phase, so we have many areas to address in our product plan, including a privacy policy. That said, like many devices and product features available today, our objective is to offer an unique and helpful experience to improve the lives of our customers. We have no intention of acting improperly, or without transparency, with any information that results from the operation of our product.

There you have it. While I’m not thrilled by the amount of companies going live without privacy policies set in place, I respect that they answered the question at all. For now, I’ve decided to purchase a Tile. We’ll see how I feel about it when year 2 rolls around.

3 Reasons Klout’s Algorithm Is Bogus

Labeling itself “The Standard for Influence,” Klout has worked to become a relevant influence-measurement tool for businesses and individuals.

While every marketer would love a way to quantify social media influence, is there really any substance behind Klout’s numbers? Does a high (or low) Klout score really have an impact on whether you can influence others’ behavior — or is Klout simply an imprecise  measurement of one’s social media prowess? Here are three reasons Klout’s algorithm is probably more alchemy than science.

Measuring the Wrong Things


One of the main problems of Klout is that it relies on third-party APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) to get data from the networks it scans — and those APIs have limits. A good example of where this falls short is that Klout has no way to monitor click-through rates. The service has no way of knowing what volume of traffic flows through the items a member posts, or if these posts actually lead to any action offline. How can a service claim to adequately monitor influence with such a huge blind spot?

Another issue is what Klout actually tracks and how it tracks it. With Twitter, scores are determined by monitoring things like follower counts, mentions, and retweets. However, it doesn’t give credit very well for those using Twitter’s native retweet system. When a member retweets something, Klout gives credit back to the original account, even if another user’s retweet exposed it to a larger audience.

Some Twitter members don’t like this and have devised ways to game Klout’s handling of this metric. These individuals choose to use the older manual “RT @name” style retweets instead of the native Twitter system. This way, when the post is retweeted by their audiences, they get the score boost and increased visibility instead of the original user. This is essentially a way of stealing influence and Klout’s algorithm (as it is today) encourages it.

An Ever-Shifting House of Cards

In February of last year, an infographic made the rounds on the web highlighting a Justin Bieber Twitter spam account with an astoundingly high Klout score. This illustrated some major flaws with Klout and served to embarrass the company briefly.

To combat the loss of confidence in its service, Klout has attempted to iterate and improve its scoring dramatically over the past year. However, it has often done this without notice or explanation. It was not uncommon for members to log in and find that their scores had plummeted by tens of points without explanation. These changes, while aimed at improving the service, essentially stomped all over Klout’s credibility and gave the company a boy-who-cried-wolf reputation with each new algorithm upgrade.

Perhaps most damning is the way Klout has de-emphasized and removed certain metrics in its latest redesign. For example, the latest revision has removed things like user classifications and score analysis. The company has even hidden the ability to track changes to certain metrics over time. If Klout felt more confident in its algorithm, it would expose more of this data, not less.

Topical Misunderstanding

Klout’s system of topics are, in many cases, baffling. For example, having one tweet including the words “Paparazzi” and “Matt Damon” retweeted by someone Klout deems of greater influence can get you labeled as influential on those topics. This can happen despite that tweet being the only time you ever mention those topics. It doesn’t matter if you have many other tweets pertaining to broader topics, such as politics or technology, that achieve a broader reach.

It appears that Klout matches its “topics” to keywords used in social media posts alone, instead of using actual, objective, topics. It also appears that Klout’s algorithm is not smart enough to understand and classify posts based on context — without the usage of such keywords directly. These are some of the flaws of automation. Algorithms cannot understand things like sarcasm and tone, and they have an especially hard time with nuances of language and meaning that only humans would pick up.

At the end of the day, Klout is trying to quantify something as inherently subjective as influence. But while some metrics can be helpful to understand audience reach, influence cannot be distilled into single number. While Klout’s promise is tantalizing for marketers, it will always need to rely on a certain amount of assumption and fabrication to seem legit, thus leading its value to be questionable at best, and bogus at worst.

[Image credit: Peter Roberts]