It's hard to imagine a more awkward introduction than drawing bands of would-be web developers and digital marketers into an FF vortex on Twitter to announce an open enrollment of my self-education program (Knowledge-ABLE) and the community for evolving it -- The Society for Useful Information (#SFUI). The SFUI introduction was held last month in Amherst and I'm continuing the same agenda at the Forbes Library this Monday.
Today I'm taking in the scene at the first ever Valley Summit where virtual personalities are materializing on our collective home turf. Eric Schmidt's parting observation before stepping down as Google CEO was that digital natives are never "online." Once they awake, their connected. I'm reminded of this as Karo Kilfeather is leading a social media marketing session on how the blurring together of the virtual and real world is a marriage that will stick. Honestly, my whole schtick (READ: thesis) is based on maintaining healthy boundaries between the two worlds. I've landed in the happy Valley -- the mayor of FourSquare be damned!
At least now I'm leveraging the less invasive and blander call to action of connecting on LinkedIn. It's no less impersonal than Twitter but at least my prospects can sniff me without feeling assaulted by non sequiturs. One of the folks I reached out to is a local WordPress developer named Terran Birrell. Terran was generous to share an insightful post on the finer points of the LinkedIn Soiree.
It doesn't make my pitch any less impersonal that the curriculum of Internet Research is inclusive to a fault. Outside of folks who would rather outsource their powers of reason it's hard to rule out an independently-minded individual who wouldn't benefit from a more disciplined approach to search engines, social bookmarking, RSS, and link analysis.
Here's my direct mail voice talking in the latest invites:
There are few allegiances I express with less reservation than a love for Pioneer Valley. Its natural beauty is keenly matched by the inner resourcefulness of those who call it home. We not only prefer to buy local. We insist on the ultimate demonstration of growing local – thinking for ourselves In that spirit I'm inviting you to join a community-minded group of local marketers, business owners, advocates, and educators who share this strong independent streak.
Honestly I have no idea what the turnout will be but I'm not holding my baited breath. This is a long term investment measured in community-building (sharing what I know). The fact I can hold a job and chew gum is what makes this enterprise feasible and me lucky to be sharing these skills. What I truly value is how web research augments the work of the advocates, educators, business owners, and marketers who I will grow to know in the coming years.
Happy spring, New England.