Gather ‘round, children and listen to the story of Twestival…
Funny how things still so new, seem as if they’ve been around forever. Facebook is only seven years old, Twitter is five, and Foursquare is a mere toddler at just two years old. Twestival is another of those “old favorites” that is here once again, Thursday, March 24th. This “Twitter Festival” began with Amanda Rose and a few of her pals sitting in a London pub in 2008, and has since expanded to over 200 cities worldwide, and has raised over 1.2 million dollars – every penny going to charity.
For the third Twestival, over 150 communities are hosting their own local event. “Local” being the key word this year. While in the past, Twestival held local events in support of one global charity, this year each city selected a local charity to receive all money raised at their event. So the energy (and marketing tools) of a multi-national event are combined with the passion for a local cause – whether local means small town USA or big city China. Organizers have no doubt that this will be the best Twestival ever.
WhatGives!? spoke with several of those organizers and came away – as always – impressed with the dedication and unbridled enthusiasm they have for the event. Lead Organizer for Twestival Honolulu, Ryan Ozawa, says, “I’ve been obsessed with and an evangelist for Twitter since joining in 2006, but have always heard the complaints that it’s pointless or silly. Which it is. But when the opportunity presented itself to participate in something global to harness Twitter (and other platforms) to do some real good, I absolutely wanted to be involved.”
Renda Lutz from the Des Moines, IA, organizing committee believed from the beginning that Twitter was a great way to promote an event and a charity. “I know the impact that Twitter has in the community. I’ve seen businesses grow just by using Twitter as their primary – or only – social media outlet.” She added, “Twitter can help philanthropies be wiser in what they do and wiser in who they reach.”
Austin, TX, Lead Organizer Wesley Faulkner is also a member of the South by Southwest Advisory Board. Many believe Twitter was basically “born” at SxSW in March of 2007 when its usage exploded at the conference. This year’s SxSW just wrapped and Faulkner made sure Twestival supporters and sponsors noticed the power of social media at that event. “We can use that awareness and get people to engage locally,” he said. Faulkner and his team will keep the momentum going after the event by having best photo and best blog post contests. A great idea that is sure to keep donations going afterwards as well.
One aspect that has definitely expanded this year is how the message has been spread. Although Twitter will always be the force behind Twestival, organizers are using every tool in their social media utility belt as well as a few old-school methods to build the buzz. Facebook, texting, blogs, email, radio, webcasts, local television, and, dare we say it, newspapers have all played a part in promoting the event. In Rochester, NY, organizer Rich Pulvino points out that as old media becomes more interested in social media, it becomes more open to reporting social media events. “Local reporters are more interested, and we can gauge their interest better because we get to know their personalities on social media.” Plus, “old media” isn’t old anymore when “people are getting their news through social networks, but the source of the information is the newspaper,” says Pulvino.
The causes for Twestival Local are as diverse as the cities that support them. The YWCA, an inner-city preschool, a blood bank, and Meals on Wheels will benefit from the events we’ve mentioned here. All are organizations that resonate with their specific communities and generate a real desire to give. There’s also the added bonus of bringing new supporters to a local organization. Faulkner points out that their benefiting charity also uses social media so “they can leverage what we’re doing to support their fundraising campaign.”
Oh, and did we mention how much FUN a Twestival event is? There is food and drink and music and raffles and contests and all the general fun-ness that happens when great people get together. Honolulu’s Ozawa points out one of the best parts of their event is the way it reflects the incredible diversity of the Hawai’ian Islands. “Our first Twestival had a mix of rock and soul musicians, our second emphasized women artists, and this year we’ve probably got the most eclectic mix yet, from a soulful singer songwriter to a beatboxer, giving us a sound ranging from traditional Hawaiian to rap!”
Pulvino is convinced that there will be Twestival events in every city in the US within the next couple of years. “We get to do something that’s going on around the world that also has an impact on our community.” Lutz adds, “Twestival takes people off-line and brings them together for local philanthropy and to make a difference.”
Wednesday, March 23, 2011
Sunday, March 20, 2011
Now, more than ever, we need to Poke the Box. We need to stop waiting for a road map and start drawing one instead. We need to start doing the work that we’re capable of, the work that matters.
This past weekend, I attended SXSW. Not only was it a blast but I met a lot of ambitious doers who are poking the box. People who are starting projects, making a ruckus, and taking what feels like a risk.
We’ve collected some of the best stories and organized them into an eBook called SXSW Pokes. You’ll find 50 inspiring stories about taking initiative from accomplished entrepreneurs and up-and-coming stars. Download the free eBook.
From advertising entrepreneur Cindy Gallop to tech founder Loic Le Meur, from best-selling author Gretchen Rubin to professional storyteller C.C. Chapman, from eFlirt expert Laurie Davis to professional wingman Thomas Edwards. The eBook also includes Jenny Blake, Laura Fitton, Nick Reese, Sean Ogle, Becky Johns, Andy Drish, Steve Garfield, Rob Wu, Clay Hebert, Melissa Pierce, Amber Naslund, AJ Leon, David Spinks, Carla Blumenthal, Ari Greenberg, Jay Goldman, Nick Seguin, and others.
I hope these stories will give you the inspiration you need to Go Go Go.
Here’s the deal: the eBook is free. Please download it, tweet it, and pass it along to your friends. Feel free to make up your own riff and share it on your blog too.
Monday, March 14, 2011
SXSW Interactive is a hotbed of inspiration and innovation drawing hundreds of influencers in the technology space. For African-American techies, the place to be in Austin this weekend was the SXSW Blacks in Technology weekend. With a primary focus of encouraging networking, BIT weekend also seeks to continue the discussion on the state of blacks in technology.
The weekend began with keynote speech from University of Texas professor, S. Craig Watkins. The author of ”The Young and The Digital,” Watkins discussed expanding the conversation of blacks in technology beyond being consumers.
“The questions today are less about access and more about the quality of our participation and engagement with technology and how we are empowering our kids into becoming the masters of their technology universe.
The following video has a few highlights from this weekend. Check it out and share your thoughts in the comments section.
Wednesday, March 9, 2011
Poker #11: Wesley Faulkner
In 2008 I went to my first South By Southwest Interactive Festival. Not for fun, but for work. I was working for AMD at the time, and they wanted me there for tech support. I have been to several conventions and I only met one of two kinds of people, the techie or the talkie. I have always been both and felt like a rare anomaly till that day. I met person after person that were both extremely smart and could carry on a great conversation. I felt like a veil had been lifted to a whole new world of creative thinkers and doers.
From that moment on, my life has been changed. Feeding off the knowledge and conversations like a pack of locust, hopping between social media conferences, meet ups, and clubs, devouring all that I could. I have not missed a visit to SXSW ever since.
This year, 2011, I am not just an attendee, but also a member of the SXSW Advisory Board. As such I now have the power to shape and influence the very thing that has shaped my life. Since that spring in 2008 I have gone on to fully embrace Twitter, start my own blog, lead the first ever Austin Twestival Local and soon start my own company, WordRipple.
Wesley’s experience spans multiple facets of the technology industry, from manufacturing to product development. He currently works at AMD as a Product Development Engineer and is the Founder of WordRipple.
I was honored that my story was chosen to be featured.
Saturday, March 5, 2011
We are not alone in the universe, says NASA astrobiologist Dr. Richard B. Hoover. And he has the extraterrestrial fossils to back it up.
Aliens exist, and we have proof.
That astonishingly awesome claim comes from Dr. Richard B. Hoover, an astrobiologist at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, who says he has found conclusive evidence of alien life — fossils of bacteria found in an extremely rare class of meteorite called CI1 carbonaceous chondrites. (There are only nine such meteorites on planet Earth.) Hoover’s findings were published late Friday night in the Journal of Cosmology, a peer-reviewed scientific journal.
“I interpret it as indicating that life is more broadly distributed than restricted strictly to the planet earth,” Hoover, who has spent more than 10 years studying meteorites around the world, told FoxNews.com in an interview. “This field of study has just barely been touched — because quite frankly, a great many scientist would say that this is impossible.”
Hoover discovered the fossils by breaking apart the CI1 meteorite, and analyzing the exposed rock with a scanning-electron microscope and a field emission electron-scanning microscope, which allowed him to detect any fossil remains. What he found were fossils of micro-organisms, many of which he says are strikingly similar to those found on our own planet.
“The exciting thing is that they are in many cases recognizable and can be associated very closely with the generic species here on earth,” said Hoover. Some of the fossils, however, are quite odd. “There are some that are just very strange and don’t look like anything that I’ve been able to identify, and I’ve shown them to many other experts that have also come up stump.”
In order to satisfy the inevitable hoard of buzz-killing skeptics, Hoover’s study and evidence were made available to his peers in the scientific community in advance of the study’s publications, giving them a chance to thoroughly dissect his findings. Comments from those who decided to sift through the evidence will be published online, alongside the study.
“Given the controversial nature of his discovery, we have invited 100 experts and have issued a general invitation to over 5,000 scientists from the scientific community to review the paper and to offer their critical analysis,” writes Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics scientist Dr. Rudy Schild, who serves as the Journal of Cosmology’s editor-in-chief. “No other paper in the history of science has undergone such a thorough vetting, and never before in the history of science has the scientific community been given the opportunity to critically analyze an important research paper before it is published.”
Needless to say, if Hoover’s conclusions are found to be accurate, the implications for human life will be staggering. Here’s to hoping that he’s right.