Bones Brigade, Skateboarding and….community management

I grew up skateboarding.  We built launch ramps, quarter pipes and threw ourselves against the pavement. While skating around town we’d see people trying tricks and go try them ourselves.  Another way we learned about new tricks was the Bones Brigade videos from Powell Peralta.

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The cool thing about these videos at the time was that they showed more than skateboarding.  I was watching a documentary by Stacy Peralta about the videos and he quoted Craig Stecyk about their ads at the time, which reflected the soul of the videos and everything they did,

“Let the magazines show skateboarding, we show ideas and images.”

This is directly relevant to today’s world of “community management,” or creating and sustaining online communities on behalf of a brand.  The core of what Craig did was show what was interesting to the people interested in their product.  They showed cool things being done with their products in interesting ways, i.e. new tricks, but didn’t spend all their time saying “BUY THE NEW TONY HAWK SKATEBOARD.”

So, if you are trying to keep people around, or connect with people about your products, show them things they will find interesting, and you’ll find that you don’t have to sell them quite so hard.

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iSnap – Sacramento’s startups are heating up

There’s a lot going on in Sacramento for early stage companies right now.  There’s the recent opening of The Hacker Lab, there was the recent Fast Pitch event hosted by Geoff Sakala and UpStart Sacramento (where I helped out as a mentor) and most recently the funding of iSnap Social kiosks by the Sacramento Angels.

the iSnap Social Media kiosk

I first learned about the iSnap when I saw one last year at the Cappie Awards and I have to say it took me a second to see the value of it, but I got there.  It helps people post branded content from an event.  Yes I used the “c” word, but it’s true.  It’s a little more effort than posting from your mobile device but for a company or organization it’s pretty cool.

I believe in the investors involved, I believe in the product, and I believe in Sacramento startups.  Keep starting up!

 

Sometimes the brilliant is simple

Simplicity is hard.  For example, the bar code you see on everything is a simple way to uniquely identify something.  

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It is used on hundreds of millions of items every year, yet it solved a problem that retailers had encountered for years, how to efficiently and accurately identify products.  I’m writing about this because of the recent passing of N. Joseph Woodland.  Don’t know who he is?

He invented it. How?

What would happen, Mr. Woodland wondered one day, if Morse code, with its elegant simplicity and limitless combinatorial potential, were adapted graphically? He began trailing his fingers idly through the sand.

“What I’m going to tell you sounds like a fairy tale,” Mr. Woodland told Smithsonian magazine in 1999. “I poked my four fingers into the sand and for whatever reason — I didn’t know — I pulled my hand toward me and drew four lines. I said: ‘Golly! Now I have four lines, and they could be wide lines and narrow lines instead of dots and dashes.’ ”

Read the rest of Mr. Woodland’s incredible story in the NY Times, and remember that sometimes the brilliant is simple, just look at the lines you have drawn in the sand.