To Ning or not to Ning? That is the question.

August 25, 2008 at 12:29 am (Louisiana 2.0, Musings, Technology)

A while back, I started a Ning group called Louisiana 2.0, and had just about given up on the whole idea (of the Ning group, not the larger idea that motivated me to start it), but now two more people have joined the group.  This may not seem like a big deal, but when you think about the fact that 2 people represents a 50% increase (more if you don’t count me as a member, which maybe you shouldn’t), and that these people not only joined the group without me asking them to, but even invited other people to join, well, makes me hestitate to write the site off as a failure before I give it a chance.

Louisiana Needs a Technology Database

That’s how this whole thing started.  I was at lunch with Chris Schultz and Geoff Daily a few weeks ago, and one of the things that came out of our conversation was galvanizing me to make something happen toward cataloging all the awesome technology companies, initatives and resources we have going on in Louisiana.  See Chris’s original Louisiana 2.0 blog post that was the inspiration for the Ning group’s name.

We’ve gone back and forth about the best way to go about collecting information for the tech database, and what platform we should use.  Eventually, it should look something like Tech Crunch, maybe, which of course Ning is never going to be.  That said, at one point I decided that the Ning group was part of a two pronged plan, which would eventually result in the Lousiana 2.0 database (which will probably be built with a wiki).

But then, I changed my mind.

Does Ning ever work?  For anybody?

Okay.  I know the answer to this question.  Of course there have been successful Ning groups.  Look at the Book Marketing Network, for one.  This group was part of the reason I thought Ning would be a good idea for Louisiana 2.0, because the point is to create a platform for technology companies and geeks to promote themselves and find one another.  The fact that you could search “author of three books” and come up with a list of results in the Book Marketing Network (try it–you’ll see), made me think that maybe you could search “ISP small business web host” and find what you were looking for in the Louisiana 2.0 network.  Ultimately, that’s what I’d like to see happen.

Because right now, if you’re looking for some kind of technology product or service, you probably haven’t even bothered to look for it in Louisiana.  For the most part, people assume they’re never going to find it here, because it simply doesn’t exist.  This assumption is false, at least in part.  My experience has been that a surprising array of technology companies exist in the state.  But you’d be right to assume you’re never going to find what you’re looking for–not because it doesn’t exist, but because there’s no good way to go about finding it.  There is no searchable database of technology companies in the state.

The question isn’t whether or not we need such a database.  The question is how to go about building it when you’re one person and have zero money with which to build it.  Hence, Louisiana 2.0 (beta) on Ning.

Louisiana 2.0 (beta) on Ning – Worth the Effort?

At first I was starting to think no, it’s not worth it.  But then Paul Chaney joined, and reminded me exactly why this needs to be done in the first place.  I’ve been so lucky to have worked with people in Lafayette, especially from Bizzuka, because they (along with the Greater Lafayette Business Journal, LITE, LANtec and others) made it possible for me to organize an LTC event in their city.  And although the LTC thing seems to have died on the vine (that is a story for another post, and by “story” I mean “rant”), the relationships that were started as a result of this effort don’t need to.  I think we’re finally ready to get over the political bullshit, the my city is better than yours attitude, and realize that we are stronger by working together, and if we cooperate we can start competing not at the local, New Orleans vs. Baton Rouge vs. Lafayette level where nothing important will ever come out of winning these childish games, but at the national level, where Louisiana AS A STATE becomes a viable economic competitor, particularly in the technology arena.  We.  Can.  Do.  This.  “We” being the operative word.

So perhaps Louisiana 2.0 (beta) on Ning could be the start of making the invisible spirit of cooperation (that I know exists, you people can’t deny it anymore) visible.  Tangible, albeit in a virtual, electronic way.  But you’ve got to start somewhere if you’re going to build a network out of the relationships between cities, and between people.  Maybe this is a viable first step?

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Okay, I’m blogging. Now what?

August 23, 2008 at 12:19 am (Musings, Social Media)

Now that I’ve finally gotten over my shyness and fear of writing anything and posting it on the internet, lest someone actually READ it, I find that I want very much to write.  But I can’t.  All these ideas are bouncing around in my head, but every time I try to isolate one it dissipates.

I know there is advice on dealing with this problem.  Probably a lot of it.  People have already been sharing their experience with me, which has been extremely helpful for figuring out how to get readers to find my blog.  Not so much for helping me write anything that someone might actually want to read.

It would be easier if my blog had a focus.  I keep thinking about starting a blog for the organization I work for at my day job, and I’ve  come up with some very strong arguments for doing so.  Several pages worth, in fact.  Writing this blog shouldn’t be difficult, because it has a clearly defined scope in terms of subject matter, and a definite purpose.  My personal blog, not so much.  I’m all over the place when it comes to my life in general.  I have the attention span of a flea.  And the memory of a goldfish.  Well, that’s not true.  The flea thing, yes.  Goldfish not so much.  I’m more like a sponge, I absorb things but when it comes time to actually produce, all I can squeeze out is some mixture of what’s been sopped up.  It’s not like chemistry happens inside a sponge.  Nothing gets sorted, organized, or otherwise processed into a meaningful concoction of what was absorbed.  Really, a sponge isn’t meant to produce anything at all.  It’s meant to sop up our liquid messes, which are then squeezed into a receptacle–sink, bucket, bathtub, what have you–and then disposed of.  Who wants to save the soap/milk/wine/water/crumb mixture they just wiped up off the dinner table?  Why would you do that?

So.  Perhaps it is time to stop being a sponge, and start being a…something else.  Ah!  A distillery.  No, better: a filter!  I need to be a filter rather than a sponge.  Or ideally, in fact, both.  I still need to absorb ideas and information like I’ve been doing.  Otherwise how would I have anything at all to say, ever?  Sure, the inside of my head is interesting, but not because it’s producing anything itself.  It’s a jumble of information, and the only thing my brain itself really does is connect the dots to make constellations.  Formations like this come and go, they emerge and are abandoned in favor of something even more novel.  It amuses me when I find the underlying patterns in life, and I like to think it’s something I’m good at.  Either that, or I’m really good at interpeting information and reorganizing it into an argument for something that doesn’t exist.  Something like that.

Not really sure if this was progress, or if I’m back where I started, but at least I wrote something.  Not something anyone is likely to want to read, though.  Right?  So yeah, I’m back where I started.

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