Take My Copy of Twitterville

Yes, it’s true. I want you to take this book out of my hands. I’ve read it, it’s great, but now it should be yours. As I’ve written before, I won this book from Beth Kanter and the author Shel Israel, with a promise that I’d pay it forward. So it’s your turn to elbow and claw your way through the throngs of hungry readers with your insightful comments, but first a few reflections to whet your appetite:

  1. While I’ve loved Shel’s previous work, I did expect this to be a well written “capitalize on Twitter’s exponential growth” book. In fact, it’s incredibly insightful, with great profiles of people and companies using Twitter in really creative ways. It stretched me. It’s also completely accessible to beginners. A fine line that Shel seems to have walked perfectly. I was pleasantly surprised.
  2. It challenged some decisions I’ve made – decisions that were strategic and thoughtful when I made them. For example, using the organization name and logo instead of the person’s name and photo, even when they are tweeting for the company. I’m still chewing on this one. In the meantime, I’ve edited @DarimOnline to show that it’s mostly, not entirely, Lisa at the keys. I’m curious how others think about offering this “human face” and transparency while still promoting the brand and, perhaps most importantly for many small organizations, creating continuity if/when staff turns over.
  3. I was reminded that you can start small and casual. As one guy from Ford is quoted, “Twitter was… the country store, where people came in and out and shared their gossip, and there I was, sitting by the pickle barrel.” (pg. 85)
  4. It’s more about listening than about talking. It’s so counter intuitive to so many of us that it can’t be said enough.
  5. One person in the organization can actually lead major change. So many examples were about one person in a large organization using this little tool in their remote cubicle, and it seeped into company culture because it was so darn useful.

So… that leads us to the question: How is Twitter useful for you? Alternatively, you can share your best piece of Twitter wisdom, or a Twitter-related question you’re wrestling with. We’ll choose our winner around Sukkot. And… please leave your Twitter username with your comment so we can check you out!

How I Won a Copy of Twitterville (and you can too!)

Shel Israel (co-author of Naked Conversations with Robert Scoble) has a new book, Twitterville.

Beth Kanter was giving away copies Twitterville the other day. I saw it on Facebook (I’m a fan of hers) but it was also on Twitter and her blog. (She’s a pro at making the most of multiple channels, without leaving me feeling inundated from every direction. It’s a real art.)

Beth periodically runs contests like this. She asks people to leave a comment responding to a particular question to enter the contest. It’s not random — she picks those whom she thinks are most deserving or will make the most of the prize. What I love about these contests is that by having a public entry process, she creates a forum for interesting people to share their work and ideas. I always learn something from reading the other entries.

So I left a comment saying how much I appreciate this approach to surfacing great ideas and practices. And heck, if giving away the book can do it, if I win, I’ll re-give-away the book to surface more good things, specifically in the Jewish community where we work.

She loved the idea and I won the book! (Well, to be honest, by the time she announced the winners she had about a dozen books – there were so many good responses that the author kicked in some copies, she found more promo copies, and others bought copies to add to the contest!) You can read about the results here.

And the punchline is … Shortly we’ll be putting up our own blog post to give away the book (once I get it, and read it). We’ll be asking about how you’re using Twitter in strategic and goal oriented ways. So start thinking about it, and experimenting on Twitter so you’ll have something juicy to share when we announce the contest. And, as always, you’re welcome to share your experiences (what’s working as well as what you’re challenged by) in the comments here.

P.S Another great Beth post on Twitter: How nonprofits are using hashtags

What you’re favorite Beth Kanter nugget of wisdom? Leave a link in the comments.

Announcing the Winners of the Sukkah Contest in Second Life

Did you know there is a vibrant Jewish life in Second Life? (Pause: What is Second Life you might ask?)

Second Life is and internet-based 3D virtual world available by downloading an application by its developer, Linden Labs. Anyone can participate (they have a teen world that is protected for the younger set). “Residents” create an avatar, and can explore, meet other residents, socialize, participate in individual and group activities, and create and trade items and services with one another. Those who wish to participate in the commerce can pay a monthly fee for an “allowance” of Linden Dollars, and/or cash in real dollars for the Second Life currency.

View of the sukkah contest
View of the sukkah contest

Now, on to the Jewish life in Second Life. There is a synagogue, a yeshiva, a museum, Hebrew classes, Torah study, a mikvah, a Second Life Kotel, and much more. There is even a magazine about Jewish life in Second Life, cleverly named 2LifeMagazine (get it — Second Life / L’chaim?).

Beth Odets (that’s her avatar name – in real life, Beth Brown) created the synagogue in 2006 and convenes many holiday celebrations, candle lightings, sing alongs and other events in the Jewish neighborhood. Once again, she held a sukkah building contest in the courtyard outside the synagogue this year. Over the past few weeks participants have designed and built their sukkot, decorated them, added signs, and notecards you can take and “keep”, glasses of wine and slices of cake you can enjoy while visiting. You can stroll down “sukkah alley”, admiring the “handiwork” of the contestants, taking a seat in this one, viewing photos of families and ushpizin on the walls of another.

Here I am (my avatar) visiting a traditional sukkah in Second Life
Here I am (my avatar) visiting a traditional sukkah in Second Life

I toured 16 of them today, as the contest closed and the winners were announced. There were many stylish entries – some very traditional, some quite modern and unique. Many had music playing inside, birds chirping, and the fabric “swaying in the wind”.

Interested? Go to http://secondlife.com to download the application. A good internet connection and a decent video card are recommended. Even better, find friend who is experienced in Second Life to give you a tutorial. Or start by reading a bit about the Jewish community there in 2LifeMagazine.