BlogWorld Expo 2008 in Las Vegas

I’d be lying if I said I’ve been doing anything else since I got home last night from the BlogWorld & New Media Expo but putting into practice some of the stuff I learned over the last couple of days. Armed with a notebook full of notes (imagine thousands of bloggers who live and die by the laptop not able to plug in during the sessions, and low on battery, forced to resort to old-school note taking, taping and Twitter), it will be some time until I try out all the tricks, tips, bells and whistles that were talked about.

Real quick, here’s a few lingering impressions — Guy Kawasaki’s advice to bloggers: “write good shit” and his new venture, Posterous.com which will create a blog page for you; Dave Taylor; Nuts About Southwest; Beach Walks with Rox; BloggingBasics101.com; I Work in My Pajamas; VanityKippah.com; Darren Rowse’s Digital Photography School photo walk; the neon sign at the Sahara Hotel — one of the last of the old-style Vegas hotels; and the number of bloggers who said when they started out “only my mom read my blog” — Hi Mom!

Help California Say “No” to Discrimination (Brad Pitt Did)

Those of you living in California need no introduction to Proposition 8 — the so-called “anti-marriage” amendment on the ballot this November. In California, all adults have the freedom to marry whomever they choose. But a nasty initiative is on the ballot, one that would deny this freedom to all and ban marriage for same-sex couples. To say this issue is a personal one for me is an understatement. Since June 17, two sets of my friends who never thought they’d have such a freedom have found out what equality feels like for the first time in their lives. Next week, two more sets of friends will experience the same. Yesterday, actor Brad Pitt contributed $100,000 to defeat Proposition 8. Today, you can do the same — or give a little less if you’re not exactly commanding $10 or $12 million a picture. You don’t have to live in California — this isn’t just a California issue — discrimination anywhere in the world affects us all. While getting married in California may not necessarily be your thing, sharing in the defeat of Proposition 8 will make California — and the world — a better place. And you — and Brad — will have made that happen. Click here to donate to defeat Proposition 8 now.

Save San Francisco’s Harding Theater

The historic Harding Theater, with its mix of Gothic and Moorish design, still sits empty and unused in the 600 block of Divisadero Street in San Francisco — although it remains safe from developers’ designs on demolishing any significant portion of it for a proposed condo project for at least another 6 weeks. A hearing that was to take place this month to sort out this ongoing dispute between neighborhood preservationists and the developers has been continued to a “so-called” later date, believed to be late October or early November. You can keep up-to-date with what’s happening with this local landmark, a 1,200-seat movie house designed by the Reid Brothers in 1926, by visiting the Save the Harding Theater blog. The blogger, David Tornheim, also recently added a Wikipedia page. The Harding served as a movie house for 40 years, before becoming a live performance venue (The Lamplighters Music Venue, the Grateful Dead, New Riders of the Purple Sage — it is, after all, a stone’s throw from Haight-Ashbury) and then a Baptist church for nearly 30 years. There’s a lot of history here — and it would be a shame to see the neighborhood lose this jewel.

So, How Cuil Was It?

At the end of July, a rival search engine called Cuil came on the scene. It promised to give Google a run for its money — especially since a couple of the founders came from Google and would know now exactly how to do this. I’ve been researching on the Internet since the mid-1990s, before Google, and back in the day when it seemed new search engines and browsers came on the scene all the time — Excite, Lycos, Hotbot, Metacrawler, Dogpile, AltaVista, Netscape. I’d try them all to try to get the results I wanted, and abandon one for another on a whim (none of them were that great anyway). Google sort of sneaked in there (it celebrated its 10th anniversary earlier this month). I guess one day, like everyone else, I was using Google all the time and didn’t really notice there weren’t many other options. Google was that good.

Still, I remembered being on the frontier in the ’90s, getting my tips on new search engines from friends and user groups — not billboards — back when it wasn’t called Web 1.0 yet because Web 2.0 didn’t exist and my fax line gave way to being the source for dial-up Internet into my office (otherwise the phone would be disconnected for hours). So, in true pioneer spirit, I thought I’d try Cuil out for a few days and report back. I had a deadline, so I was really going to put it to the test. After three searches (or a few minutes) I abandoned it and returned to Google to get the job done. Apparently the site crashed later that day — Cuil claimed it was because so many people wanted to test it out — others claimed it was because the product just wasn’t any good.

It’s hard to dismiss a search engine that claims its bigger than Google with its 120 billion Web pages, so I returned to Cuil today. It’s gotten some accolades for its design — the two- or three-column format and the black and blue is easy on the eyes. And, there seems that there have been some improvements. When I searched “KazzaDrask Media” in July, there were no hits. Today there are 20 –and only one of them is in German!

Australian Rules Footballer James Hird in San Francisco

Brownlow Medal Winner and former captain of Essendon Football Club, Australian Rules footballer James Hird, Australian Consul General David Lawson, James Swanwick, President of Crocmedia America, and Al Ramadan, Senior Vice President & General Manager at Adobe Systems and CTO of Australia’s team in the 1995 America’s Cup Challenge at Advance’s Sport Talks to Business: The Pressure Game, a conversation with James Hird and Al Ramadan moderated by James Swanwick. San Francisco, September 8, 2008.

Read the KazzaDrask Media feature story for Advance and see all the photos by clicking here.

Photo: KazzaDrask Media.

McCain Campaign Stock Photo Blunder

Walter Reed…Middle School?

I’ve been following the use of new media marketing techniques used by the Obama campaign for a couple of months. And, there’s been a lot to follow. From the candidate’s Facebook page to the email blasts with video to the Twittering to the text messages (the jury’s still out on their success as a way get big news out, but the verdict has been that it was sheer genius as far as compiling the preferred way to reach millions of voters on Election Day). As a business that uses new media to get our clients’ messages out and make an impact, KazzaDrask Media would be remiss if we weren’t also watching what the McCain campaign was doing.

Yes, I watched Senator McCain’s acceptance speech last night (just as I watched Senator Obama’s last week). Both promised new, improved ways of showing off the candidates. And really, after Obama packed a football stadium with 80,000 supporters, what options did McCain actually have? Late yesterday afternoon it was reported that Team McCain was going to go with a “town hall style” setting. Not bad. Intimate could trump colossal. So, I tuned in.

There was nothing particularly intimate about the movie screen behind McCain as he accepted his party’s nomination, but I suppose the colossal-flag-fluttering-in-the-breeze was moving to those who were in the audience. I wondered what the image of the large building with the lawn was though. It wasn’t the White House, that’s for sure. Was it one of McCain’s seven houses? Had the Dems snuck in and hacked the slide show? Today Talking Point Memo solves the mystery. Seems the McCain campaign wanted Walter Reed Army Medical Center on the big screen. What they got though was Walter Reed Middle School in North Hollywood, California. Um…this is a new media error of colossal proportions that could have been avoided had someone read the copy that came with the Google image that had popped up on the “Walter Reed” search.

Colossal hat tip to AmericaBlog. They’ve been covering both conventions and keeping on the mainstream media to give Americans the truth about all four candidates.