Thursday, December 23, 2010

The Best Part of 2010 or Why I Became Passionate About Giving

As I finished putting the final touches on a few projects this morning, my mind began reflecting on what has transpired over the past twelve months. As I realized how many positive changes had occurred in 2010, I began to ponder which experiences were most rewarding. The practice of counting my blessings in recent years has enriched my life tenfold.

Where I once worked "behind the curtain" in the conference/audio-visual field, I now found myself publishing content to the web on various news sites. Suddenly I was the lead marketer for the young online marketing group I work for. I met an astounding amount of talented, generous Austin folks who literally restored my faith in humanity. I realize that sounds bombastic, but it's true. Austin has a way of healing the soul.

Back in January I made a list of goals for 2010. Revisiting those goals periodically did wonders for my focus and perseverance. I recommend this technique (if you can call it that) to anyone desiring to obtain results in their career and life. One of the top priorities a year ago was supporting my chosen charity, Meals on Wheels and More.

I recently joined a group called Austin Involved comprised of local professionals who want to find out more about the charities they're donating to. We selected MOWAM to be our charity in November. Our collective dollars would go to this deserving local delivered food provider (among other services). Board member and founder, Courtney Clark explained the group would be helping a client clean and fix-up their home which due to the occupant's age, had fallen into disrepair.

The week of our volunteer day, Courtney informed us MOWAM had asked us to deliver meals as well. Now I was really excited. I had tweeted, written about, advised, raised funds for and spoken to folks about Meals on Wheels. But I had never "driven a route". We met with Sarah Andrews and other staffers at MOWAM who reviewed the procedures we needed to follow when delivering food to clients (I love that they're clients). Then we divided into teams of two, gathered food bags, maps and final instructions before heading off to various points of Austin.

Courtney was following in her car and promised to catch up to Brooke and I on our route to take pictures. The experience was more than rewarding. I spent part of my day helping others who were thankful for the assistance. The folks who joined me in volunteering were a pleasure to be around. The manner in which MOWAM clients were treated is dignified and friendly. It felt great meeting and helping my neighbors. There was nothing artificial about the emotion. It was real.

The best part about volunteering is acknowledging the abundance we have in our own lives. Sharing a bit of our abundance with our neighbors only makes Austin shine a little more. It made me think of the lines from My Morning Jacket's song, "Librarian"

"What is it inside our heads that makes us do the opposite
Makes us do the opposite of what's right, for us?
'Cause everything'd be great. And everything'd be good
If everybody gave, like everybody could"
~My Morning Jacket

To find out more about Meals on Wheels and how to donate or volunteer, click here.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Live music review: The Mother Truckers play mother-effing good show at Antone’s - Austin Concerts |

Live music review: The Mother Truckers play mother-effing good show at Antone’s - Austin Concerts |

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Live music preview: Soldier Thread | Quiet Co. | Nightfever | Mother Truckers - Austin Concerts |

Live music preview: Soldier Thread | Quiet Co. | Nightfever | Mother Truckers - Austin Concerts |

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Keepstream Tells the Story of Quiet Company's first Twitter Show

Saturday night, local power pop band, Quiet Company headlined their first ever Twitter show with Love at 20 (FREE download their new EP here) warming up the crowd of Austin Twitter users at the ND at 501 Studios. The ND's giant video screen to the right of the stage featured all tweets labeled with the hash tag, #QCatND. Besides the great music, the tweets got bawdy as Quiet Company, fans, and media bantered in 140 character bursts throughout the evening.

I decided to let the tweets tell the story using my favorite web content curation tool, Keepstream. Check out the collection below.

Here is a description of Keepstream tool from the company's blog:

"Keepstream gathers all your favorite content in one place – such as when you “Like” something on Facebook or YouTube, retweet something on Twitter, or just bookmark interesting links from the web! By using Keepstream, you can easily collect the best of the Internet and organize it by topics and events. Then most importantly, you can share your content collections any way you’d like – including the ability to embed them into a blog or website. Now it’s easier than ever to demonstrate your expertise on a subject, increase the engagement of your website audience, or simply discover and discuss the most interesting content.

Beyond just general use, Keepstream is particularly useful for bloggers, journalists, and content publishers. Pretty much anyone who creates online articles needs to engage their readers beyond just words. That means integrating video, photos, and social media – all sorts of relevant social content. A lot of content already exists out there that your audience is interested in! Keepstream helps you cull selections of the best content, and serve them to your readers. Essentially, we let you reuse the content that other people have created and make it a part of that article or webpage. This is interactive and social, it saves a ton of time, and this drives new readership and more active readers."

Monday, November 22, 2010

What the Heck is Movember? [Help Team Austin (and Me) Raise Money for Men's Health]

"Each year, Movember, the month formerly known as November, is responsible for the sprouting of thousands of Mo's (Australian slang for moustache, where the movement began) on men’s faces around the world, raising vital awareness and funds for men’s health, specifically for cancer affecting men. Men who grow moustaches for the month of Movember, called Mo Bros, become walking, talking billboards for the cause, raising awareness by prompting private and public conversation around the often ignored issue of men’s health.

Supported by the women in their lives, Mo Sistas, Movember Mo Bros raise funds by getting friends and family to donate to their Mo-growing efforts.

The rules are simple: register online at and start the month of Movember clean-shaven, then grow a moustache for 30 days. Last year, 255,722 men and women across the globe raised $40 million (USD) - all through the power of the Mo."
~Movember Foundation 2010 website

Last year, when I began tracking local networking and giving opportunities for the small interactive agency I work for, the social networks were abuzz about a month-long charity event called Movember. I decided to check out what the event was about by attending an Austin Movember event much like the lunch Team Aus and Third Base are hosting today.

I was marginally involved and donated by purchasing a meal during the hours the restaurant agreed to share part of the proceeds with Team Aus. This year, cancer hit close to home as a close friend was diagnosed. Emotionally I felt helpless. Writing about it helped. Getting involved with Movember feels even better. Watch the video below to see Team Austin members talking about the experience.

Click HERE to visit my Movember Team Aus page and join in the fun, view my Mo progress in photos, read updates, find out about events (see calendar below) or donate. It's for a worthy cause that is only in it's fourth year. Locally we have nearly TRIPLED the membership over last year and raised over $17,000 so far. We would like to reach 250 Austin Mo Bros and Sistas.

Austin Movember events are being hosted by cool Austin venues like The Highball (my favorite MoVenue and host of the Gala Party), Uncorked Tasting Room and Third Base. The calendar below is active and additional events and locations will be added through the official December 9th Movember end date. Join us at one of the events below and find out why growing a Mo and hanging with all the Mo Bros and Sistas is such a good time.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Why BTM Wants to Help You Cost-Effectively Use Digital

Why We Want to Help You Cost-Effectively Use Digital:

We already spent time and money testing various platforms for you.

Three years of research and use of various SaaS (Software as a Service) platforms has led us to our current software that allows us to pass on the most significant savings in the industry for going digital as well as an interactive reading interface that REQUIRES NO APP!!

Any publication we convert can be read on your laptop, desktop, iPad, iPhone, Smart phone, Kindle or any other device with a web browser, without installing additional software.

Mobile devices can still read PDFs, but they can be clunky, large files that take time to download and do not contain rich media or add additional REVENUE GENERATING options for your media buyers. We can help devise a strategy that fits your market best and connect you to local consumers. Our platform has the ability to interact with and share content or track page views, links clicked or customer geo-locations.

Let us convert your print literature into interactive digital publications that allow viewers with different devices, such as the Apple iPad/iPhone/iTouch or Google Android enabled smart-phones, to access your content without installing additional software. NO APP TO DOWNLOAD. It’s a mobile-browser flexible interface.

We convert magazines, newspapers, brochures, catalogs, maps, event guides/programs or any PDF into an interactive e-reading experience with ALL the following included:

  • customized branding with your company colors, logo and/or background within the e-reader
  • unlimited hyperlinks with customized rollover messaging
  • video/slideshows
  • coupon clipping and basket or coupons can be shown on a mobile device for the discount
  • download the PDF
  • share by email, social media or online forum such as Digg, Reddit and more
  • one-time fee option to brand the URL to your company/publication or free URL masking (URL masking not iPad supported)
  • subscriber link for free and paid publications
  • password-protection for your paid subscribers ABC supports digital editions/new rules posted May 2010
  • defined number of pages can be previewed before subscription window pops up
  • lead generation option to collect email before accessing content
  • widgets (real-time Twitter, Facebook or RSS feeds)
  • archive within e-reading interface
  • table of contents links within the publication and the e-reading interface
  • content links list
  • advertiser list
  • tabs and bookmarks
  • posted on Austin Texas Digital Newsstand
  • search
  • crop and save tool
  • print
  • toggle full screen easily
  • help guide
  • two ways to preview all pages with thumbnails
  • easily embed cover and link on your website and/or email campaigns
  • easily embed a mini flipbook linking to your digital edition (example on this page - flash only)
  • Login to see your TRACKING – View and export reports for real-time statistics within a specified date range that include your mobile readers covering page views, average time spent on each page, which pages bookmarked, shared or emailed, and number of times downloaded or printed. These statistics are available by page level and issue level. You can track link click-throughs for your advertisers and content as well as track what content is being zoomed in upon using a powerful Zoom Point Overlay tool. You will know what content is most important to your readers!
  • Google analytics are included in addition to the above tracking

Our software is constantly evolving to improve the quality and effectiveness of digital publishing for both the audience and the advertiser.

Call Leslie or Greg (or email us) today for your free demo!
Leslie: 512-853-9558 or 512-557-9641
Greg: 512-434-9975

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Live music review: A few reasons why Fun Fun Fun Fest 2010 was the best yet

As much as we like South by Southwest and Austin City Limits Festivals, FunFunFun Fest has become our favorite local, Austin music festival. For the past two years, Examiner/Austin has covered the independent music festival at Waterloo Park and delighted in discovering new bands (a loftly goal that only this festival has successfully reached), great fan experience and most important, fantastic music. Some of our favorite acts include Weird Al Yankovic, Jean Grae, A-Trak, Yelle (shout out to Tolly Mosely and Rachel Silva), Deerhunter, Monotonix, P.O.S. and Devin the Dude...

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Why #Austin's Brady Smith (@texeyes) Deserves a Mashable Award

There are many reasons why I chose to nominate Brady Smith for a Mashable award. The first thing that comes to mind is the excellent example he sets for others in terms of online courtesy. He is a gentleman, always willing to lend a helping hand. Brady is thoughtful, often sharing links with folks seeking information via Twitter.

Brady is undoubtedly Texan and proud of his state as any real Texas native would be. @texeyes represents all the positive aspects of the Twitterverse. He is a mentor to me, father to two daughters, husband to a school teacher and caring Austin resident. Our friendship has grown from a simple Twitter connection.

When I began using Twitter it was another world. There were mysterious abbreviations, weird customs and "twitterspeak" to learn. In short, Twitter was confusing. There did not appear to be any clear cut instructions. Users were expected to figure out how to use the service by trial and error. I made a lot of errors.

Not long after that, I decided to look for local Twitter users in the local, Austin community. One of the first Twitter accounts I found belonged to this guy who called himself, texeyes. I thought the handle was slick. So was his avatar (see above). I followed. He sent me a DM (direct message) that read something like, "Send me back a relevant reply or I'll think you're a bot and unfollow you."

I did not know what to make of that, so I responded that I had recently joined Twitter and did not know what the hell I was doing. His response was instant. "Oh, you're an Austinite. Cool. I'll be happy to help you out if you need." or something to that effect. He became my Twitter guru. He had a lot of followers. Brady seemed to know his way around the interwebs. His website is clever. He helps whoever asks. He asks nothing in return. He demonstrates good Twitter values.

Brady Smith deserves to be given an award for his activities. He's made many people happy by posting amazing concert videos, sharing links and photos of nearly everything you could imagine. Brady promotes and volunteers for charities like Meals on Wheels which he has delivered food for, tweeted for and promoted online. He inspired me to get involved. Brady is the kind of personality every Twitter user should follow. Seriously.

Click on the Mashable button below and nominate @texeyes for Must-Follow Personality. I did. Twice. Please share this link with your friends.

Halloween weekend music preview: El Tule | Kinky Friedman | Seaholm Zombie Ball - Austin Concerts |

Halloween weekend music preview: El Tule | Kinky Friedman | Seaholm Zombie Ball - Austin Concerts |

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Austin City Limits Music Festival ~ Keepstream Collection

Austin City Limits Music Festival 2010 had many great moments. Austin was blessed with great weather. The music performances at Zilker Park were amazing.

Keepstream, a web content curation tool still in develpment provides a unique overview of the festival by allowing us to embed video, photographs and twitter status messages into a single collection which I have embedded below. The links are active and clickable. Please click away. Relive ACL a bit. Comment on posts, Keepstream or share your own thoughts below.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

University of Texas Campus Shooting/Suicide via Twitter and Keepstream

Yesterday many of us in Austin, Texas awoke to a scary reality. There was a gunman who had fired shots on the University of Texas campus and fled to the Perry Castaneda Library where he eventually shot himself with an AK-47 assault rifle. There was a common thread that bound all the information flowing over the internet, television, radio and print publications, Twitter.

Twitter made it possible for the Austin-American Statesman, my friend Drew Carls (@drewcarls), news agencies and residents stay informed, safe and reassured that they were getting real-time, accurate reports on the events going on at the campus. Most of us had a real fear someone we know would be injured. Through Twitter, Carls was able to communicate to his friends, family and most importantly, the mainstream media what events were actually happening on campus according to him and colleagues.

I read a tweet from @statesman (who did an amazing job reporting story) around 8:30am describing a possible shooter on the UT campus with a promise of more information soon. Quickly I jumped on my computer to look at Twitter and get some real-time reports. I was reminded of the unfortunate plane crash/suicide earlier this year in Austin. The way law enforcement, media, university officials and citizens all used Twitter, Facebook, text messaging and mobile devices to communicate was much the same as that other tragic incident.

Below, I have embedded a rather long Keepstream Collection which I attempted to edit by removing repetitious tweets. If there are any omissions, repeated tweets or other errors, they are my own. Thanks to Jim England and Tim Gasper (Keepstream developers) for the beta key and opportunity to use the content curation tool to highlight yesterday's tragic event.

Rather than present my opinion on what I think technology means to news reporting and public safety, I'd like to hear your thoughts. Leave a comment and let me know what you think.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Case Study: Why Keepstream has Promise as a Curation Tool

Recently I've had the opportunity to explore various content curation (see NY Times article) tools such as Keepstream. One of the issues I've come across as I read, digest and assimilate content online is the dilemma of what to read and what to ignore. Increasingly, we're dependent on content curators (people we trust to tell us what to read) to direct us to where the good information is. As a New Media professional, I have a need for effective tools that perform this function across the interwebs. Keepstream is one such tool in development with that goal in mind.

The fundamental issues as perceived on my own and by peers I have spoken to are as follows:

  1. As curators we want web tools to be as flexible as possible in terms of what portions of content to save. So far this is a goal to pursue and not a reality.
  2. Search. Whatever tools we use need to have the ability to search for content across all platforms on the internet including but not limited to Facebook, Twitter, blogs, news sites, streaming media, etc. The curation tools that best search and deliver relevant content will be at the top of my own list.
  3. Customization. I want the ability to design the page of content I am presenting in a variety of formats akin to customizable templates in Blogger or Word Press.
  4. Support. As long as a company has a timely response support team, I feel comfortable both using web tools and recommending them to others.
  5. Longevity. I would really like to feel the tools I am committing to using for forward facing marketing projects will still be around in 5 years.
Jim England, Tim Gasper of Cleveland, OH and Austin, TX (as of this Summer) are leading the development team at Keepstream which is funded by Capital Factory, a tech startup incubator that has ushered along the project thus far. Apparently the project is up for review this coming week. I hope Capital Factory decides to continue to support Keepstream.

Keepstream is one of the tools I believe could end up delivering the level of flexibility desired in a content curation tool. Personally I'd love to see the guys from Cleveland get the opportunity to continue the project. Professionally I am urgently awaiting the type of web content curation tool that makes my life easier and my clients happy at the same time.

See a recent collection embedded below using Keepstream's auto-generated embed code below. Connect with Greg Ackerman here.

Greg Ackerman
naomi morrison
Gonna havta miss #theenglishbeat tonight...:/
Lewis Stone
FREE-FOR-ALL SUNDAY: The English Beat - "Save it For Later" This tune has been bouncing around my brain since I...
Rebecca Chulew
Wow, my old Ladies from the 80s Barbie doll slideshow is 4th top slideshow on Examiner Austin right now and English Beat is #1!
Bull McCabes
The official Bad Manners and English Beat after party is here at Bull Mc Cabes after the thursday night Emos...
@leebert oh rock on - you're coming too? I'll be there until I leave to see The English Beat at Emos.
Daniel Senyard
RT @g_ack: Check the great pics @germanfrancie posted w/ "English Beat and Bad Manners play at Emo's in Austin, TX" ...
Mike Dominguez
RT @g_ack: Check the great pics @germanfrancie posted w/ "English Beat and Bad Manners play at Emo's in Austin, TX"
Guitar Player
English Beat plays at Emo's in Austin, Dave Wakeling chats with Examiner
Pat Barron
English Beat plays at Emo's in Austin, Dave Wakeling chats with Examiner: The current English Beat US lineup featu...
(Dont) Save it for Later: The English Beat's Dave Wakeling, Interviewed: You had songs like "End of the Party," wh...
Sam Guerrero English Beat plays at Emo's in Austin, Dave Wakeling chats with Examiner
Jamdown Digital
(Dont) Save it for Later: The English Beat's Dave Wakeling, Interviewed: The movement became known as the second w...
Damon Jackson
(Dont) Save it for Later: The English Beat's Dave Wakeling, Interviewed: With some water under the bridge, you hav...
Eric Alanis
English Beat plays at Emo's in Austin, Dave Wakeling chats with Examiner: The English Beat played on Thursday, Sep...
Greg Ackerman
@jenkcunningham LOL! It's ok. Dave Wakeling comes to Austin fairly often. He'll be back in ATX sooner than you think. cc: @germanfrancie
Rebecca Chulew
Here's my Examiner article about the English Beat and my interview with Dave Wakeling!
Rebecca Chulew
Rebecca Chulew
Greg took this awesome pic of Dave Wakeling and I
Rebecca Chulew
At Emo's. Just left Dave Wakeling's tour bus and now I'm hanging out on the bleachers.
Greg Ackerman
@mikesnavely Yup. Just ate dinner with Dave Wakeling. Great guy. #TheEnglishBeat
Mike Snavely
@g_ack as in "mirror in the bathroom" and "save it for later" English Beat?
Greg Ackerman
Dinner w/ @germanfrancie and Dave Wakeling (@ Habana Restaurant & Bar)
Greg Ackerman
Photo: Dave Wakeling and the English Beat ~ Soundcheck — at Emo's
Rebecca Chulew
#nowplaying General Public with Dave Wakeling & Ranking Roger - Tenderness
RT @DumbingAmerica: Check out our interview with Dave Wakeling from The English Beat who are appearing @emosaustin tonight! http://bit.l ...
Dumbing of America
Check out our interview with Dave Wakeling from The English Beat who are appearing @emosaustin tonight!