THE MIRACLES OF DIGITAL FUNDRAISING

It is amazing how the world has changed. When we were growing up, we were expected to become a doctor, lawyer, teacher, accountant, secretary or something where the foundation of the business was well established. All we had to be is smart enough to jump on the already established bandwagon. If we told our parents we wanted to become writers, musicians, inventors or artists of any kind, they would go directly to a house of worship and pray to their higher power to give us proper guidance. 

I know you are chuckling reading this, because it happened to all of us, whether rich or poor. Our parents wanted us either in the family business or settled somewhere they didn’t have to worry about. 

Jump forward 40 to 50 years. Today, parents are asking children, “Why can’t you be one of those geniuses who invent something on the Internet? Do you want to work for the rest of your life and report to a boss who will use and abuse you? “ 

Times have certainly changed. Today hundreds, if not thousands of 20 and 30 year olds are all trying to be the next Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook), Steve Jobs (Apple) and Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger (Instagram).  Even if someone has a job, their minds are working overtime to come up with that one idea that is going to allow them to make a lot of money and sit at home in their pj’s all day. 

A lot of the young creative types were dissuaded over the years, because venture capitalists and angel investors require a lot of paper work and financial proof that proposed business models are going to work.  Raising money is more difficult than creating and building the invention.  You have to stand in front of the suits to prove that your idea was more worthy than the thousands of other proposals they’ve seen before. 

All that has changed as noted in the front page of the New York Times today. Kickstarter, a website that raises money from the public (the digital term is crowd funding) for creative projects (films, music, games, food projects and digital inventions, etc.). raised over $7 million in just a few days for The Pebble, a watch that was developed to work with the iPhone. You have to read the story to see how the money came pouring in. http://nyti.ms/Ixx1gj . If you know anything about fundraising, you would quickly realize that the money raised by Kickstarter for The Pebble was equivalent to a second round of capital financing. That means that The Pebble didn’t have to prove itself like others to command millions of dollars.

Kickstarter is one of those ideas that most investment people probably thought was not a going to work. Who is going to give money to a project online? Guess what? Kickstarter has raised more than $200 million for 20,000 projects so far, or about 44 percent of those that sought financing on the site. Kickstarter takes 5% of the funds raised. Amazon charges an additional 3-5%. The entire evolution of Kickstarter is amazing and what they did for The Pebble is nothing short of a miracle of the digital world.  You have to digest what I just told you about and think to yourself, “Who would have ever thought?”

THE NEW WORLD OF JOURNALISM GIVES BIRTH TO BLOGGING


For some reason, many members of the senior generation are totally oblivious as to what is happening in newspaper reporting. I have heard some say that their favorite reporters are no longer with the publications they religiously read. They think it has something to do with the economy. That is partially true. However, the accurate explanation is that the Internet has changed the dynamics of writing. Many of the old timers just couldn’t or wouldn’t keep up with the structural changes needed for digital reporting. All of a sudden editors wanted shorter stories, less background checks and fewer explanations.

There was fierce competition from something called a blog. Blogs were free flowing essays from a new breed of young writers who wrote whatever they wanted, whenever and wherever. They didn’t have fact checkers, copy editors or bosses breathing down their necks with non-relevant assignments. At first, bloggers were shunned from press events and front row seats. It took a few years, but a good number of them from the world of tech, financial, fashion and beauty, became more important to their industries than the writers who were covering them for 20 or 30 years. They had the freedom to flex their muscles and they took every advantage of it. Unlike their predecessors, they learned the tricks of digital reporting that allowed them new avenues of exposure and networking.

Today stories are no longer about who, what, where, why and how.  They are all about the three C’s: created content, contributed content and collected content. Bloggers no longer have to cover every element of a story to make a point. They just use the three C’s as I am about to do. Instead of posting hundreds of words of copy to underscore what I am talking about,  I am going to share a link with you that will  that will give you further details on this topic. Hopefully someday someone will use my copy (link) to fill out their story.

http://mashable.com/2012/04/27/tips-great-content-curation/?utm_source=iphoneapp

MY EXPLANATION OF A BLOG

It never occured to me to devote one blog post to explaining what blogging is all about. Since I started DigiDame, I have received several calls from friends asking me to define a blog and its purpose.  There are many more qualified folks that can detail the true definition of a blog then myself. However, I will try to explain it in my terms and provide a link to Wikipedia that can also be of assistance. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blog

A blog is an online diary which can be personal or professional (for business purposes). The entries are called “posts.”  The frequency of a post depends on the person writing the blog but most serious bloggers post at least once a day. The whole purpose of a blog is to have the ability to express independent beliefs without having some higher authority edit your thoughts.  Most blogs are written on templates that provide options for pictures, videos, links to related stories, tags (words that can be used for browsing and searching purposes),  font formats and overall structure. Blog posts are displayed with the latest entry first.   

I personally don’t like the reverse chronological order because I find it confusing. Unless you have read the blog posts from the beginning there could be references that you don’t understand. I don’t have a solution, so I have to live with it. I am not sure how others feel about the ordering, but I can’t imagine them liking it, because most blog posts are not self-explanatory. A lot of assumption is granted to the writer. That is true for traditional printed newspapers as well these days.  

In the next post, I will share the latest trends in posting, some of which I’ve just learned myself. I started DigiDame to make sure people my age and older know all about the opportunities in the digital world.  Make sure you read it, because there are some new trends that have changed the world of journalism that you’ll want to know about.

GADGETS AND APPS UNDER $30 OR FREE

Some of my DigiDame readers have asked me to stop blabbing so much and start telling them about some new apps or gadgets they should know about.

I want to start with a few that I use because Steve Greenberg, the Innovation Insider, recommended them.  He recently had them on a TV tour. They all sell for under $30. 

Power2U

I wanted this for a long time. It is about time someone made a wall socket with a built-in USB port for charging. Cars have it; now we have one for the home. This is the only home-safe, UL Listed, in-wall product.  It incorporates two traditional three-prong AC wall sockets along with two USB ports for charging and/or powering up four devices at once.  From Newer Technology, this easy to install AC/USB outlet is available in White, Black, Ivory, and Light Almond.  The cost is $27.99 or $22.99 each when buying two or more—available at Other World Computing at www.macsales.com/power2u 

Drop Stop

If I had Drop Stop, I wouldn’t have lost my Tiffany earrings. This is a flexible wedge made out of neoprene (wet suit material) that blocks that annoying gap between your car or truck seat and  the center console.  You will never lose your change or cell phones again while you are driving.  One size fits all. The fabric is stain resistant, so if you spill anything you can simply wipe it off or use a damp cloth. A set of two Drop Stops, one for the driver side and one for the passenger side, is only $19.99 including a LED credit card light and a slide-free pad. www.BuyDropStop.com 

Mastrad

This is a terrific item for anyone who wants to lose weight. When Steve first showed this to me I wasn’t interested, but when I saw him demonstrate it on TV, I went bananas. The Mastrad TopChips Chips Maker allows you to make fat-free chips in a matter of minutes.  Just slice the desired fruit or vegetable you like with the handy mandolin, place chips on the non-stick silicone tray and put them in the microwave. No grease, no mess.  The result is crispy, flavorful, guilt-free chips. Price is $19.99 www.shopmastrad.com 

TripIt  App

You probably heard of this one already because it is very popular for anyone who travels. It organizes all your trip plans in one place. Just email all of your airline and hotel confirmations to plans@tripit.com . TripIt puts together an itinerary and can add the information into your calendar. TripIt will also organize other activities like restaurant reservations and concert tickets. This app is free.at www.tripit.com 

Roamz App

Here is another app that gets you out of the house and social again. Roamz tells you what is happening right around you in real-time. The application intelligently curates social activity from multiple networks. It is like your own personal social guide. Roamz users get a list of what is happening nearby. It also learns your personal interests and preferences. The more you use Roamz, the smarter it gets.  The app is free. www.roamz.com or via iTunes at http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/roamz/id459343660?mt=8 

More gadgets and apps in future columns.

KNOCK KNOCK, WHO’S THERE?

Yesterday I received several texts from friends and family: 

1-Dave is in the hospital. He had a heart attack.

2-Joanie miscarried. 

3-I need $50,000 to help develop this app. Can you help me find the money? 

4-We have to cancel Saturday night. Something came up. 

5-Can you distribute this press release for me?  I don’t have a budget. 

6-I just got fired.  Can I freelance for you? 

There was a time when these six topics would have had more relevance in my life.  I would spend  15-to-30 minutes discussing the who, what, where, why, when and how with each of the people who had sent the message.  The discussions would then spill over to the rest of my life, fueling further thought and consideration.  Nowadays these texts are just represent fleeting moments with people who are becoming strangers. We are mere bulleted points to each other.  

I am not saying that I actually have time for these discussions. The demands of the Internet eat up a tremendous amount of time. However, it is pretty sad when you realize that the people who sent these messages, don’t have time for me either.  They wanted to dispense the information and be done with it.  That is what the world has come to.  No more discussions, confrontations, debates, or live sharing. 

I find it funny that a lot of seniors are heavily involved in texting too. These are the same people who claim they are technophobes.  That’s strange. It didn’t take them very long to catch on. I think most seniors were forced into texting. If they want to have any kind of a relationship with their children, they had to learn fast.  I love it when I ask some of my friends how many times a week they speak to their adult children?   Most of them are stretching the truth when they say “A few times a week.”  I find out later it was all through text messages. Most seem to be fine with it.  They don’t have a choice. 

A client of ours, who developed a voice over Internet cell phone service, recently visited Cornell University to research the value of texting. I was shocked when he told me that students prefer texting. A phone call to them is like showing up unannounced at their front door. It frightened me when I first heard that because I felt it showed  the younger generation to be completely distorted.  Not long after, I realized I was like that too. A case in point: My doorman rang my intercom in my NY apartment to say that one of my neighbors wanted to talk to me.  There is a protocol in urban living.  You ask the doorman to announce you.  You just don’t show up.  Most New Yorkers keep their doors locked and don’t want surprise visits. I am one of those people. 

I remember when I was growing up my mother and her friends had a revolving door friendship. They didn’t knock. They just entered.  I thought that was the natural state of living until I moved out on my own.  I wanted my privacy. I guess that is what kids want today as well. They don’t want to be questioned or judged.   This is spreading to senior friendships too.  It is no longer about sharing. It is now all about me, myself and I.

PRINTED NEWSPAPERS SO PASSE’

 If you are still reading a newspaper in print form, then you don’t know what you are missing. To all those print loyalists who tell me they love the feel of the paper between their fingers, I say “phooey.” 

 Get with it. By the time you read a story in print it is already outdated. Digital versions of that same story are constantly being updated with newer angles, deeper links that provide backup testimonials and a list of related stories for cross referencing. 

The digital version of your favorite newspaper is also going to encourage you to read sections of the newspaper that you never read before. Electronic editions provide capsule listings of each and every story so you will be able to see a snapshot view of the entire paper. You will find yourself clicking on articles that were buried in the print versions. Now everything is front and center. 

 If that is not enough, many newspapers now feature videos that either are visual presentations of the story or a behind the scene’s look at the making of the article. 

 Digital news is all about the story in the making as much as the final story. When I first heard about this new trend in digital reporting, I admit that it made no sense to me. I decided to ask a group of younger folks their take on it. 

Much to my surprise they said that is how twitter works. First someone in their group reports a news breaking story. Then a stream of tidbits are posted by others until the whole story unravels. I asked what if the story is inaccurate because it is not being reported by a professional news reporter? The answer was simple. That is all part of the story. 

 I truly urge everyone who is still reading print to put down that dirty, disgusting, ink stained paper. Digital news is going to open up a whole new world for you. For the first time ever, you are going to carry the entire newspaper right in your pocket.  Just whip out your smartphone  (or even your tablet)and start reading.

 

 

 

SENIORS OCCUPY TECHNOLOGY

The notion that many people over 55 are afraid of technology, is really something we’ve brought on ourselves. Did you ever notice that when someone really wants to learn something, they somehow do it quickly? I marvel at how many of my friends own iPads, read books on a Kindle or a Nook, text all day long, play Words With Friends and spend hours on Facebook.

I don’t know why, but I just love when I see people around my age or older using technology. I guess that is why I decided to write this blog. I have said it so many times before and I will say it hundreds of more times, now is a great time to be alive. The digital revolution never ceases to amaze me.

Last summer I was on a riverboat (AMAWaterways Amalegro ) cruising the country side of Germany on the Mosel and Rhine rivers. We started in Luxembourg and ended in Amsterdam. This type  of cruise usually draws the 50-and-above crowd who want to see the world after a lifetime of working. While we saw some of the most incredible sights in the world, the one that surprised me the most, was watching this crowd embrace their electronics after a day of touring.

Yesteryear, most older folks would retire to their staterooms for a nap. Not this group. Everyone rushed to the main parlor with its oversized panoramic windows to send emails, read their novels on ebooks or play electronic games. I remember vividly sitting in that room day after day with tears in my eyes and my heart filled with emotion because I was witnessing a dramatic lifestyle change.

Just because I worked in the tech business, it doesn’t mean that I was the only one exposed to the advantages of electronics. The word was spreading. Just a year ago it was novel to see the senior generation reading an ebook. Today it is totally weird to see them with the printed version. We are now at a place in our lives, where my generation, who’ve worked hard for the money they’ve made, are enjoying the comforts they’ve earned. Technology being one of them. Watch out world. Hear us roar. We are the ones who are going to dictate the needs of the digital revolution in the very near future.

YOUR GRAY IS SHOWING

The minute someone over 55 sees a gray hair, a wrinkle, a dark spot, or even a dimple someplace on their body where they have not seen it before, they want to cover it up immediately.  Why is it not the same way with their tech habits?

Many of the nearly 80 million baby boomers (many of them have turned 65 this year) and older seniors are exposing their tech naivety on almost a daily basis. I am not saying that this pertains to every senior person, but it certainly does to many.  I make my fair share of mistakes too, but I have a group of young techies around me constantly that point out my blunders every chance they get.

I wanted to address these fairly simple errors because if we correct them on a united front, then maybe we can achieve the respect we deserve.  As Mashable, one of the best tech blogs, recently pointed out, “As boomers confront old age,” they will certainly defy what we think it means to “get old.” It will challenge us to rethink how we use the web and how we engage older people with newer technologies.

Here is a list of absolute no no’s:

  1. Do not copy your entire email list in the “To” space.  That is what “Bcc” is for.  If you are sending out an email to multiple people who do not know each other, you must blind copy.  Most people do not want their email exposed to strangers.  I recently received an email with Katie Couric, Diane Sawyer and Arianna Huffington copied on it. Do you really think those gals want me to have their email address?  Ha! Don’t answer that.
  2. Just because you are retired and have nothing else to do, don’t send out jokes several times a day, every day, with the subject, “I usually don’t send out jokes but this one is really funny.”   Chances are someone else sent around those jokes already.  I have to clear out my inbox everyday from a certain someone who used to be the CEO of a major company.  He sends out about 20 to 30 jokes a day, even on high holy days.  I don’t have the heart to tell him to stop because he is such a wonderful guy. I picture him sitting at his computer day and night with his trigger finger ready to go.
  3. The one that makes you look like you died or just faded away is your Facebook page without your picture.  Many seniors want to join the world of social media, but just want to test it.  Either you jump in and engage, or delete your account.  You look like you are missing in action.  Some older people have told me that they only joined so they can follow their grandchildren.  Bad move. If they find out that is your main purpose, they know how to de-friend you and you will not know the difference.
  4. Please don’t tell people you don’t check your emails on a frequent basis even if it is true.  You sound like you are telling them you don’t take a shower every day. The Internet is all about instantaneous access.  You should be checking your email everyday or several times a day. To those that say “but no one emails me so why should I be checking.” I answer no one is sending you a check everyday, yet you wait for the mailman like it is your last meal.
  5. When someone sends you and others an email don’t “reply to all” unless your message is that important that others have to see it.  There is nothing worse than 10 people saying “You’re welcome” to the same person.  I make the same mistake when I get a text from my brother because the multiple names are hidden. My nephew Sam is always looking out for me, letting me know the faux pas I committed.   I am much sharper about my responses now.
  6. This is the worst and I want to scream bloody murder when someone forwards an email to me with pages and pages of lists of email addresses that have received the message already.  Why aren’t you cutting and pasting?  All you have to do is “forward” and delete the names of people who were previously copied. Why is it my responsibility to search through pages and pages of email addresses before I get to the content that you wanted me to read?  Honestly, I just delete these emails.  I can’t be bothered anymore.

I hope I am being helpful.  To quote Mashable, “The Boomer generation isn’t just big—it’s made up of people who think and act differently than previous generations.” This means we are suave, sophisticated and savvy.  We have a reputation to uphold.

BIT BY BIT I AM GETTING THERE OR HOW A DIGITAL PRODUCT IS HELPING ME TO CONTROL MY SUGAR LEVELS

 

I know you are not going to believe this unless you know me well. There are days that I don’t take more than a 1,000 steps. That means all I have done for the day is go to work, sit all day ,come home again and sit all night. Some weekends I do even less. I sit on the couch all day, read, watch TV, talk on the phone and do some computer work. That amounts to a few hundred steps, going to the bathroom and getting up every hour for a snack.

All that ended a few weeks ago when my doctor told me my sugar levels were up. He said he was “concerned.”  If I didn’t knock down the count he was going to have to put me on meds. All of a sudden my entire life flashed in front of me. I had never taken exercise seriously. All that was for people who were vain. It finally occurred to me that there was a cause and effect in my sugar count. If I sat, the number would go up. If I walked the required number of steps a day (10,000 according to most exercise gurus), then my sugars levels would be normal. My physician, Dr. St Claire at Yaffee Rudin Associates, said exercise was far more important than what I was eating. That was the first time I heard that. I confirmed this with a friend of mine, Dr. Howard Stark, a well known gastroenterologist, in Washington D.C., who also informed me that 10,000 steps was necessary for cardiovascular health. If I wanted to lose weight, I should do 12,500 steps. That is the magic number to get rid of those extra pounds.

While all this seems like a simple solution, walking 10,000 or 12,500 footsteps a day is no easy task. In order to accomplish this, you need someone like a life coach reminding you constantly to get up and walk. I was telling my friend Steve Greenberg, the host of The Food Network’s new show, Invention Hunters, (you read about him in a prior post) about my dilemma. I’ve had a lot of pedometers and threw them all out because they were difficult to set and reset. I spent more time trying to reconfigure the pedometer than I did walking.

Steve surprised me with the Fitbit. It is not a pedometer. It is a device that could have only been developed in the digital world. Unlike all of its pedometer predecessors, the Fitbit is a wireless unit that is synched to the Fitbit website, www.fitbit.com  and measures your motion patterns to tell you the calories you’ve burned, steps taken, distance traveled, and sleep quality. The Fitbit uses a MEMS 3-axis accelerometer and a built-in MEMS altimeter that measures your vertical climb up stairs and hills.

What I really like is the automation. I don’t have to do a thing other than walk. The digital unit automatically restarts at midnight. Initially, you are required to register on the Fitbit website which asks some very basic questions. All you have to do after that, is remember to charge the Fitbit by attaching its USB connection to your computer every two weeks. When I get more ambitious, I will use the website to log my food, activity, weight and chat with other users, achieving the full digital experience. Now, when I want to see my results, I press the small lever on the outside of the Fitbit and I get a digital readout of steps taken, miles walked (or partial miles), calories burned, and steps climbed. The Fitbit can easily clip to slacks or can used with a wrist cuff.

Since I’ve been using the Fitbit I’ve been pressing that lever several times a day just to see if it is still working. As much as I am a part of the digital community, I still can’t believe that there is a (wireless) device that is such a miracle worker. I guess that is why I started this blog in the first place. We live in a world where there are so many advantages. If we had the opportunity to tell our parents and grandparents that we are living in a world where such automation and memory is the norm, they would shake their heads in astonishment.

Now that I am a big shot, armed with my little digital friend attached to me, I have to get off my butt and start walking. Maybe, someday there will be a machine that can do that for me as well. All I have to do is stay healthy enough to see it happen. Because it will!

 

THE ABC’S OF INVESTING IN THE DIGITAL COMMUNITY

There were a few people upset with me about what they call a rather negative post I wrote about investing in the digital marketplace. All I was trying to do was warn the neophytes that most people lose money in start ups, especially digital ones. My husband and I lost $25,000 over 12 years ago on an Internet project that was going to be the first directory of some kind. It sounded so exciting at the time that we were jumping up and down for joy.We were going to get rich with the creator, then referred to as the young genius.

The genius must have made a few errors because all of the investors lost their money. The reason given was that the technology needed a lot more funding than anyone anticipated. This is very typical. We didn’t sweat it too much because in those days we were making a lot of money in our own business. By the way, the young genius never apologized and was never held publicly accountable. That is also very typical. Today he is the owner of a well known Internet site and begrudgingly answers the calls of his former angels. Most of the time he never calls back.

This experience didn’t stop us from other investments. We were always ready for someone else’s engine to make money for us.  Again we lost money but we justified it because we were doing very well with investments in real estate. Today it would take a sledge hammer for us to open our wallets. What we did when we were younger no longer exists.

Investing is really a young sport. They have the time to make up the possible losses. Personally, I think I gave you the best financial advice possible.This morning I was reading some investing advice from probably the best known and respected Venture Capitalist in the digital business, Fred Wilson of Union Square Ventures, He is revered. When he speaks everyone listens and he confims some of what i am saying here. He also adds other important investing trends that cannot be ignored.

http://www.avc.com/a_vc/2012/04/what-if-web-and-mobile-apps-are-like-tv-shows.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+AVc+(A+VC)