Thursday, December 4, 2008

Case and Point [response to Making Connections]

A co-worker just sent me this article about Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, senior Republican Congresswoman from Florida. She received a call from Barack Obama yesterday and hung up on him not once, but twice.

She said she thought he was one of the local radio stations playing an elaborate joke on her.

Interesting how we are quick to disbelieve the telephone, but will believe online profiles with relative ease. I'm struggling to understand "authenticity" through social media settings. Let me wrap my brain around what I want to say... more on this later.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Making Connections

This week has felt a bit off. How about for everyone else? I think the mass quantities of food for Thanksgiving, as well as the relaxed nature of vacation, made a hard clash with the fast paced motion of work. Monday had a tinge of bitterness hanging in the office atmosphere. Everyone was reluctant to get back into their corporate clothing, our corporate lingo had a tougher time rolling off our lips.

Now, it's the middle of the week and I'm reaching to bring some normalcy in.

I started this morning, much like every morning

[sign into outlook]
[sign into digsby]
[sign into twhirl] ...for all of you smartalecs, yes, I know digsby does twitter but I like twhirl better.

I decided to reach out to all my new (and old friends) on twitter sending the message "Hello all my new social media friends. Good to be connected. How's your day so far?" Few responded, but the one's who did carried on short conversations about gas prices of the day, trips to Vegas, the weather and others about Juniper's online community, J-Net. I was glad to have a chance to touch base with people who are so far out of geographical reach.

This simple effort paid off. I had a great twitter-chat with a new friend, afterwards he twittered "I heart Juniper, and I ain't afraid to say it. Much." Thanks dotwaffle, we heart you back. And I greatly appreciate the simple validation that your day was improved by a bit of genuine human contact via social media.

While chatting with a friend last night, he mentioned a social experiment he had read about and eventually tried. He called random numbers and tried to get movie recommendations from them. He explained how difficult it was for people to drop their guard of instantly thinking he was trying to sell something to them. His tactic was to approach them by making them think it was a run-of-the-mill wrong number.

The conversation would go something like this:

Hi is Katie there?
>>Sorry there's no one here by that name.
Oh, I was calling because I wanted to see a movie tonight and thought she could recommend something. Have you seen anything lately that you thought was good?

And the person on the other line would indulge him. 

When I asked if he had seen the new James Bond film, he said "No, I haven't, but it was recommended to me." This recommendation came to him from a random person he called, this person even answered various questions about how they would rate it on a scale of 1-10 and what were their favorite parts. The situation seems comical to me, but really it's a 'primitive' form of social media. What my friend was doing, is going back to some of our roots.

It is rare when I will answer the phone for an unknown number; I will never pick up a blocked number. The phone has become an unreliable piece of equipment for me. I am sceptical of why people are calling and what they want. On the contrary, I will add a person I don't know onFacebook or twitter. Granted, the agenda for my social media accounts is to make connections, meet people, and engage, whereas there is no such agenda for my phone calls. 

Interesting how there has been a switch on where people tolerate "spamming." Phones are now off limits, email has become easy to manage, twitter hardly even peaks on my radar. Social media seems to soften the spamming blow for me. It's a simple "delete" or "block" at my leisure. It isn't as invasive as a phone call where I answer and a guy says "Hey, [begin the tell-tale sign of someone I don't know, butchering my name.]"Ta-wah-nee" how's it going, it's John." [pause where I try to get my bearings] "I'm just calling to see if you have the Super Fantastic Credit Card of your dreams yet?"

No John, I don't. Please don't call me ever.

Going back to my friend's social experiment, I admire his desire of trying to convince people that he doesn't want anything from them but normal human interaction. We are getting further and further away from polite exchange as the days go on. 

So if you happen to randomly dial me and ask me my opinion of movies, I might just tell you. Just please, for my sake, don't mispronounce my name.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

December Giveaway

Who wants to win an iPod Touch, Garmin GPS, or FlipVideo Camera? I know I do... watch the video to find out more about our December promotion. :)




Please visit the J-Net community page for more information.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Such-a-Rush


I was thinking about road rage this morning while sitting behind a massive truck pulling a construction tractor. This was the second time I was en route to work. The first time I went to work didn't fare so well. I pulled into a parking spot and realized I had forgotten my laptop. This is moments after leaving my apartment where I realized I had lost my wallet...somewhere.

On the second attempt to get to work, I was cognizant of time and my emotions were buzzing in the 'annoyed' section of the spectrum.

I wondered if the speed of things these days makes it easier to get frustrated in slow situations. I get up-to-the-minute updates via text when my pals update their twitter. I can search google (or text google for that matter) if I am lost or in need of entertainment, and I have the fastest internet access at work.

What was it like before all this? I am starting to forget. Granted, I didn't have a drivers license when I was chatting friends on BBS via a 1200 baud modem, so I can't comment on what road rage was like then.

Do you think there is any merit to the thought that the technological speed at which we're moving today makes it all the more painful to be stuck behind a snail-speed semi? Or am I just making excuses for why I am so impatient?

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Keith Redfield interview on Juniper's KB

Keith Redfield, director of eSupport at Juniper Networks, talks with me about some of the new changes to the KB. For more information, check out kb.juniper.net



Knowledge Base Know-How

The Knowledge Base is new and improved, now with more fast acting power and kung fu grip! Take a look at this short video to get pointed in the right direction.


Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Media Highlights from Juniper / Ixia Event [part 2]

Below is a video highlighting the first part of the day: initiating the live demo. Areg Alimian, Technical Product Manager, introduces the equipment being used. Juniper Networks T1600 is connected to Ixia's XM12 chassis. The demo will drive full 640Gb of IP UDP traffic through the router. The demo is conducted in Ixia's 'iSimCity' - a virtualization environment that simulates the traffic a small city would create. So, while we all spent our time chatting and eating delicious catered food, the T1600 was stoically sitting on it's rack pushing a city's worth of video, email, web pages, etc through it's ports.



Next, we reconvened in the main presentation room to participate in a panel discussion. There were four members on the panel: Vic Alston, Sr Vice President of Product Development at Ixia; Juniper's Luc Ceuppens, as mentioned before; Andrew Fanara, Team Leader of Product Development with the EPA; and Bruce Nordman of the Energy Analysis Department with Lawrence Berkeley National Labs. The video below only shows highlights of the panel discussion. Both Andrew and Bruce are not shown in it, but that is not to discredit their insights. (More on their involvements after the video.)



Bruce Nordman, a fellow Cal grad, revealed statistical data concerning the amount of energy being consumed. He informed us how each KWh for IT means another KWh for power and cooling. "The server data center is 10% of the IT load and gets more attention than other networking equipment." He stressed how ECR has been a long time coming. Bruce works closely with Andrew Fanara of EPA, and related the test procedure and metrics of ECR to that of Energy star which is where Andrew's expertise lies.

Andrew said that good cost-effective strategies of the data center came into his radar when a report was sent to Congress. He mentioned how every sector has to be looked at, whether it be warehouses, hospitals or schools, and notes how "benchmarking allows for improvements"

The final video shows the results of the demo. Since this is the first time a piece of equipment has been put through this Class One test, the results are not what you would typically anticipate. No one won a gold medal or received a seal of approval. Ixia provides an un-biased comparison of what level of energy networking products are consuming. The results show that there is a reliable, repeatable and accurate testing methodology for power utilization based on real world loads. The T1600 is the first product to go through this testing.



I am curious to see what happens after more tests have been performed. The more products that are tested, the more we will be able to try to beat our own performances as well as the performances of other companies. From my own "un-biased" opinion, if I can even have one from the place I am sitting, it’s not [only] about competing product against product, company against company. ECR allows us to do a bit of self-assessment on the grounds that change needs to be made. I hope that everyone hops on board and continues to work in the direction of lowering the amount of energy we are consuming.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Creating Energy Standards for Networking Equipment [Part One]

On November 6, I had the privilege of attending an event at Ixia for a new Energy Consumption Rating (ECR). Juniper Networks T1600 Core Router was the first piece of equipment to be tested under the new standard. It was an amazing event, and one that I am grateful to be a part of.

When I first heard about the event, I started talking to people from both Juniper and Ixia about what the event was and why it was so important. I kept hearing how "ECR is going to effect networking equipment the same way EnergyStar effected home appliances." I didn't know what to expect walking in to the event, but when I walked out I was full of questions and speculations about how this could change the world of networking.

Whenever I see a car commercial on TV that touts their car has amazing fuel economy, I can't help but scoff at the absurdity of it all. I wish there was a law in place, not only for the well being of the world but for the well being of my pocket book, that would make it mandatory for a car to obtain a higher mile-per-gallon. ECR is not a law, but it will act as a means of measurement. Atul Bhatnagar, CEO of Ixia, said "what you do not measure, you cannot improve." I was struck by this statement because it is so relevant to the here-and-now.

The event lasted from 9am until 3pm and was broken up into a few sections. In the morning, we talked about the state of networking, and focused on the amount of energy that Data Centers are currently consuming. Luc Ceuppens, Sr Director of Product Marketing High-End systems Business Unit at Juniper Networks, mentioned how he often hears "it costs me more to run my network than it does to own it." This issue is something that has gained a lot of attention. Data centers have a substantial amount of information pulsing through them at all times, it costs an equal amount of energy to cool the system down as it does to power the system.

I think it is safe to say that we all expect for technology to constantly improve. We want to be able to surf the internet, exchange email, and text message amongst other things. The capability is there. Luc mentioned how it takes the same amount of energy to power the bandwidth required for an iPhone as it does to power 5,000 regular phones. But, if you waited in a 4 hour line for an iPhone and pay the $100 or so dollars a month for a phone and data plan, you don't want to sacrifice any more money in order to watch YouTube, or check your mail. Of course not--we're consumers. We want more features, faster, and for less money than the previous version. Behind the scenes, the data centers are working overtime. They need more equipment, and more energy to power and cool that equipment. The only remedy? Efficiency.

We are exceptional creatures. Our ability to produce new products with time-saving and mind-stimulating features is an incredible one. Unfortunately, we don't see the ramifications of our creation until we are in the crux of it. ECR shows our cognizance of our present-day issues. As Atul mentioned, ECR is a ways of measuring so we can make change.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Interview with "Pentin Processor"

Josine (also known as "Pentin Procesor" on J-Net) and I sat down to talk about her involvement with our J-Net community. It was an amazing day, unlike the last few dreary and soggy days we've been having. 

Josine is a great contributor to our community and helps provide a lot of solid support for our forum member. Take a look and see why we think Josine is amazing.


Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Talk to me about SRX and why everyone "hearts" JUNOS


On September 19th Rob Cameron, Technical Marketing Engineer at Juniper Networks, and I sat down to discuss his involvement with SRX Services Gateway. The SRX is a pretty phenomenal product because it is a combination of multiple services. It started from Juniper's involvement with Netscreen firewall products and integrate. It allows users to scale a firewall up to120 Gbps throughput (something formerly "unheard of") and to deploy it in specific cases where scale is needed.

Rob relates this to the iPhone and how phone companies need to be able to send services like web browsing, email, YouTube videos, etc. but still make sure that all that information is secure.

I was recently at an Ixia event (look for a future post) regarding a new Energy Consumption Rating (ECR) where Luc Ceupens from Juniper Networks shared the statistic that the amount of bandwidth an iPhone needs is equivalent to 5,000 regular cell phones. We are at a point in our tech-history where more and more people are ditching there standard cell phones and trading in for smart phones, much like Apple's iPhone. 

Rob puts the SRX into perspective by illustrating typical day-to-day uses that SRX is behind.



Afterwards, I asked Rob a few questions about his "I Heart JUNOS" bumper sticker he created. A while ago, these stickers started showing up all over the place. They started being passed around to friends and were quickly seen all over the place. We all have them around our cubes, some have them on their cars (I do!), and we have even seen them in random places around town.

Rob and I have often talked about how amazing and simple it was to get people to join together about JUNOS. Rob works closely with JUNOS, our operating system here at Juniper, and understands what makes JUNOS so wonderful. Much like JAVA, people who use JUNOS become dedicated fans. Rob wanted to create something that would act as a way to unify those who love it. He talks to me about his motive behind creating the sticker and reflects on the process that eventually led to a positive and remarkable outcome.


Friday, October 24, 2008

Pulling off brown paper packaging

It's Friday at 6:50pm and I think that means it's technically Friday night. I also think that means it's technically too late to be working on a Friday. I love being at work after hours. The lights start to dim unless you walk by and activate them; the air-conditioner stops blasting sub-zero streams of air into my cube--an effort to conserve energy since no one is typically here. Something about this place feels right to me. My cube walls are heavy with posters, decorations, and mementos. Somehow, I feel comfortable here. I feel at home. I think the reason I'm so taken with late hours has to do with my nostalgia for a few particular weeks spent on international conference calls until the wee hours of the morning.

Juniper started developing personas in June of 2007. I was fresh to Juniper, having been here for only 4 months. I had graduated from UC Berkeley a month earlier and was faced with the typical post-graduate crisis of trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life. I spent two whole days in a large meeting room with a significant amount of people from Juniper as well as Tamara Adlin and Ariel VanSpronsen from Adlin, Inc.. Juniper hired Adlin, Inc. in hopes of eradicating a typical problem in large businesses: identifying our audience. There is a tendency to refer to one's audience as just that, vague terms like "audience", "customers", and "users". personas help to describe real people and real needs. Alan Cooper is seen as one of the founding fathers of personas. If you haven't read The Inmates Are Running The Asylum I would highly recommend you check it out.

Think of personas like this: (by the way, the example I am about to present you with was conveyed to me verbally. It is not my own.)

I'm going to ask you all to imagine a bird. Do you have the image in mind? Ok good, hang on to that.

What are the chances that the bird you are imagining is the same bird I am imagining? My bird is small, has black feathers caping his back with a bright yellow under belly. His head is boasting a read mohawk and his beak is short and thick like a caligraphy pen. Chances are your bird could have varied drastically from my version.

This metaphor represents what happens all too often in business. We become so focused on what our pre-conceived notions are about our customers that we ignore the people we are trying to connect with. We oversee their true needs, frustrations, and motivations.

Juniper did extensive research all over the globe interviewing employees, external customers, consultants, and research firms throughout Asia, Europe and the North Americas. And not just once, we did round after round of in-person and over-the-phone interviews. We asked each person to tell us what they did during the day, starting from what they thought about as soon as they got into the office. We asked where they sought out information, whether it be word of mouth, over the internet or via newspapers, magazines and other periodicals. We wanted to hear what frustrations they have and what gets them most excited about their job. We wanted to know how they got to their current job title and what their next steps are for future positions.

When we started doing research and relaying the information internally, we described how personas were intended to work. Initially, it was just a concept. But now, a little over a year later, we have fully formed personas. People are talking about them and using them for their planning.

I have to admit, I feel like these personas are part of my family. The project has become something I am endeared to, protective of even, as if it was a child. As I hinted to earlier, there were a few weeks in October and November that my colleague was conducting interviews in Japan, Germany, and England. I basically spent a few nights in my cube so I could listen in to the workshops that were happening half way around the world. I have always been dedicated to this project, it is something I whole-heartedly threw myself into. I felt entirely blessed to walk out of college and into this creative project. It's creative because it takes a lot, especially in business, to go against the grain and admit that something is off. I think it's incredibly exciting to be a part of this change in Juniper. It is a part of my nature to want to understand people, to hear all about what makes them tick. I was a brand new employee and this project introduced me to Juniper; it familiarized me with the most important aspect of the company--the people who make up the business.

The reason for this post is because the research part is over and now we can actually have start to implement the personas into our conversations and understanding. I have been working with one of our design agencies to come up with different print collateral to pass out to the company. When I got back from lunch today I had a huge stack of posters filling the floor of my cube. Oh man--I was, I am, so elated. Opening up that package and pulling the first poster out was better than any Christmas. It feels good to know that we are finally here.




Wednesday, October 22, 2008

You won't know what you're missing until you lock your keys in your car and you can't access your electronics


I had a bit of an adventure yesterday which I am going to tell you about because it just re-enforces my point of how reliant we are on technology.

My work at Juniper has been fast paced and hectic lately--just the way I like it--but the pace of yesterday didn't warrant me a bad day. In fact, it was just the opposite. I was feeling strong and confident, enjoying my new hair cut and slick threads. After clocking out at Juniper around 5, I jumped in my beautiful car (I just bought her in Feb) and headed to my second job. I work for a place called SD Forum, which is an organization that puts on seminars revolving around tech-topics. You might be wondering why I would work a second job when I already have a steady job as it is. Well, for one thing, I don't do well when I am idle. Secondly, the job is
 right up my alley. Not only do all the topics revolve around things that I find interesting and relevant to my job, but it allows me the opportunity to do some social-networking face-to-face. Plus, extra money never hurt a girl trying to pay off student loans.

I had to stop by the bank in order to break some 20's into smaller bills. The events are $15 dollars and I was running low on 5's and 1's.  I was doing great on time, popped into the bank and was out the door in a matter of minutes. When I got back to my car, I started to back up. Apparently Parissa and I were on the same wavelength because she backed her Toyota SUV out of her parking space at the same rate and angle as I backed my Honda Accord up. We were perfectly synchronized and had it not been for the crunch of our bumpers, we may have marveled at how perfectly synchronized we were. 

I got out of the car to check the damage and it was not much. We both have minor scrapes on our bumpers, not enough to call the insurance agencies over, just enough to be sad about.

The exchange went like this:

Parissa: Didn't you see me back up?
Tawnee: No, didn't you see me back up?
Parissa: No-- but I was backing up before you.
Tawnee: ... (not sure if this means she needs to back up more effectively, aka faster so it doesn't look like she is hovering in her parking spot, or if she is implying I was more at fault)
Parissa: Get your license

I return to my car to dig out my insurance and license. When I go back to her with my papers and say "Sorry for my curt tone, that wasn't right of me. I'm Tawnee."
"Parissa" she says drawing out the SS's so I can mentally note the pronunciation.
Parissa: Do yoy want to call the insurance companies?
Tawnee: (thinking Of Course Not. Are you mad?) "No, we were both doing the exact same thing. It's equally our faults and there's hardly any damage"
Parissa: Have a good day.

I was off the hook! Unfortunately, my keys, my phone, my wallet - sans drivers license, and the rest of all my belongings were locked up tight inside my car. I tried to open the door again, then again. I think I aggressively tried to pry the door open with my fingers about 6 times. And, although I can't remember perfectly, I think I loudly roared "NOOOoooOooOOOO freaking crap!" 

This got the attention of Parissa who was getting back into her car. I told her what had happened and she lent me her cell phone. The problem is, I only know my parents number by heart. I think I mentioned this in my first blog entry. I had to call my parents to ask them for numbers to AAA and also had to have them hunt down the number of my boss at SD Forum.

My parents were online within minutes, searching out numbers for me to write down on a piece of paper Parissa had torn off for me. I could hear them searching the SD Forum for a number. At the end of it all, my car was unlocked and I got to work-- albeit a little late, I still got there and accomplished the job. 

In the space of time that I sat waiting for the guy to come and rescue me, I realized how lost I am without my cell phone and all the information it contains. I had thought about asking 
the bank if I could surf their web so I could get in touch with my friend on Facebook who used to work at SD Forum. She would still have my boss' number and I could let my boss know that I was late. I kept running through options in my mind of ways to solve this problem that I was in. I knew my parents would be worried about me--as they always are. I ached to be able to call them and let them know I was waiting, but I was safe. I wanted to twitter about my absurd absentmindedness. I wanted to text my friends, check my email, do anything that involved every bit of technology that I didn't have access to. 

Yesterday, I proposed that we all do a social experiment where we spend 24 hours not communicating with our partners, friends, parents, or whoever via only telephone or face-to-face. Well, I spent an hour and a half without one--granted it wasn't an emergency, but it was a yellow "Elevated" level if we were relating this to a Homeland Security chart. I had access to a phone-- but it wasn't my phone. And left to my own devices, my memory couldn't pull out anything but a number I have locked in long term memory.

Now I am trying to figure out how to solve this problem of mine. I am so reliant on technology, I can't even make myself remember numbers I call every day. Instead, I scroll down my menu and highlight who I am calling. Or I press down the number to activate speed dial. I adore the fact that doing this saves me .32 seconds of my precious time. But I wonder if I had spent more time dialing those numbers myself, I may have been a lot better off yesterday. I wonder if I should go back to those hokey accordion style magnetic phone books that I remember seeing my momma carry in her hand bag.

YES! All my pondering on the advancement of technology and the implementation of social media is answered in one simple nic-nac

I can sleep easy tonight.

Friday, September 26, 2008

How Does Social Media Affect Our Romantic Relationships?

I recently visited my friend Laura who lives in San Francisco. I brought my camera and tripod so I could record an interview / conversation with her about how she interacts with Social Media in her job. She currently works in SEO for myspace in SF.

It's been a while since Laura and I hung out. When I got there, I was introduced to her roomates, friends and the layout of her new apartment. Laura, her roomates/friends and I were talking about what we do for work and started into a conversation about how Social Media has changed the dynamic of our romantic relationships. 

I decided to set up the camera and aimed it at the table where four of us were sitting enjoying a fine snack of wine and cheese. (This is seriously uncharacteristic of a snack I commonly have. I think residents of the marina district don't grab Heffeweisen and almonds for things to snack on.) In my haste, I recorded the visual, but didn't set up the microphone correctly. Which really is a crying shame because the conversation was awesome.

I'll try to recap a lot of the topics here. Feel free to jump in with your own insights. I'd love to hear your opinion.

  • Facebook has presented a lot of interesting interactions with some of the girls and people they have dated. One girl, Shannon, was un-aware that her now-boyfriend was making any sort of advancement. There was not a proper "asking out" as she was accustomed to. When they had first met at a mutual friend's party, they both didn't speak to one another. He sought her out after the party in hopes of making a connection. He asked her, via-Facebook, if she wanted to grab coffee since they both worked close by to one another. Shannon expressed how confusing it was for her because there was no way to register where he was coming from. Everything was done electronically, and the informality of it all made it seem as if they were just buddies. She said it took her about 4 "dates" before she ever realized that he had been interested in her all along.
  • All of us agree that it feels "safer" for us to give out our email address or way to find us on Facebook or Myspace. The fact that we don't have to participate in a verbal exchange via the telephone provides an extra layer of comfort. I asked if the girls were approached in public and asked for their phone numbers vs. their email address which would they be more likely to give out. All of them said they wouldn't give out their phone number until way later in the correspondence.
  • The issue of "status" changes came up. This partially relates to the "Tawnee is cleaning her room" status update (which isn't true, although I should clean my room),  but it primarily rests on the relationship status update. When one visits their home screen on Facebook it is listed as "Billy has changed his relationship status to *Complicated*" Conversations that once took place between a couple regarding "taking this relationship to a more committed and exclusive level" is administered by pulling a drop down menu and asking for a confirmation. For those of us who still have our ex's as "friends" on Facebook, we can see when they date new people or when they break up. This level of involvement is heavy and completely new for the lot of us. I assume that a lot of our post-breakup hang ups come from the level of visibility we have surrounding our past partners. It is not typical for us to know what they ate for breakfast, see all their pictures from their recent trip to the beach, and have the option of staring at their new love interest. 
  • There is an understanding that our profiles may not accurately portray our identity. All profiles are the best version of one's self, true. But profiles also assume that other people have a general idea of you are to begin with. We talked about instances when people get to know your profile before they ever get to know you. Sometimes it is an unfair advantage, because they know they already know what interests you both have in common, and are able to highlight those factors and shadow others. This is not to say that this is a scheme; somewhere there is a person in a dimly lit room skimming through your Facebook profile writing down all the ways to lure you into their grasp. You two will go out to dinner and talk about the things you love and you will be misled, only to one day find out that your love was a ruse and your heart is now meticulously broken. No, not the case. That is not the point I am trying to make. If you met somebody you found attractive and they were wearing a shirt of a band you like, it would be a great segway into a conversation. These type of coincidences happen naturally. But there seems to be a bit of the novelty stripped when your favorite books, tv shows, music, and movies are listed. The treasure hunt isn't so much a search anymore. It's more like knowing the presents are on the top shelf, so you get a step stool. In some cases, mine in-particular, people assume that being introduced to my music and my photography means that they know me. They talk to me as if they have known me a long time, so the initial introduction is awkward.
  • The girls agreed that introducing a person to their profile changed the dynamic of face to face interaction. They noticed a difference in the tone of the messages, they were more flirtatious, more direct, and more familiar than if the girls had just met the person face to face. 
Again, it's easy to realize that our social interactions are changing. But for some of us, it's hard to come to terms that the old ways of communicating and interacting (or what are the "old ways" for our generation) are fading.

More on this later... I have to go sell my old car. 

[24 hours later]

OK,  I sold my old Explorer successfully. It is still baffling to me that I can post a few pictures and specs on Craigslist and have over 20 people respond in a matter of hours. I had two people competing for the truck... this in a time where gas prices are astronomical. I was under the impression that SUVs are a thing of the past. I mean, I opted out of having it, right? I digress somewhat, although the topic is still within the scope of social media. Because of the advances in social media and online networking, a process that could have otherwise taken me weeks to accomplish took me a mere 6 hours from start to finish. I am so thrilled to not have to worry about that anymore.

 Back to our topic, where were we?

Ah yes. One of the questions I asked the girls, and I'd like to ask you now, is how would removing social media from your relationship change the dynamic you and your partner share? What if we all did a social experiment. We asked our partners, best friends, parents or whoever else we correspond most with via text messaging, Facebook, myspace, etc. to not contact us by those means. The rules are that you can only converse by ways of regular telephone calls and face to face interaction. Considering my best friend and I text non-stop throughout the day (she is in grad school at USC and I am typically busy at work) our conversations would go from massive to nearly non-existent. I wouldn't be able to see her photos from her weekend adventures on Facebook, and wouldn't hear hilarious anecdotes about her escapades about LA. I am not a big phone-talker; texting is so much more efficient and tangible. I don't have to be concerned about lulls in the conversation. My point is always made. If I receive a text I find sweet or entertaining, I can save it. 

I adore the advancements in social media, but I also recognize how it may prove to be detrimental down the line. We have not scratched the surface of what social media has to offer. It will eventually explode, and like a mushroom cloud, will encapsulate all of us and all of our interactions, whether it be personal or business. Right now we are on the cusp of a transition. We still have the "old" ways of communicating (it seems so funny to call the telephone and "old way" of communication) and they are still prevalent and present, but they are interspersed with new social networking.

As we slip further away from traditional communication, I wonder how this will change our instincts, how it will shape the dynamics of our personal relationships, how it will alter the way we speak and think. 

I am not hesitant when it comes to adopting new social media techniques, I just hope I don't get so lost in the process that I loose my ability to recognize the change.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Starting a New Trend...

I had an opportunity to sit down with Steve Hanna on Thursday. Typically we chat on-camera for J-Net. This time, Steve agreed to chat with me in front of my own video camera.

We started talking about his new full-encrypted hard drive for his computer. The reason why this new "toy" of his is so important, is due to it's ability to protect all the data on his computer. Steve does a lot of traveling. He shares some staggering statistics about how many laptops are stolen per week in airports across the US. Apparently, it has become a trendy scam to steal laptops while people are going through airport security.

Check it out...



After Steve shared some information on laptop safety, I asked him a few questions about how Social Media (blogs, web video, etc) has changed the dynamic of how he works.

Hopefully you enjoy it. I had a great time with this particular interview. Stay tuned for more like it...

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Taking a step back to get a step ahead

When I was car shopping earlier this year I noticed that any time I mentally decided on a car, I would start to see it everywhere. I would go through phases where I was committed to a VW GTI, a Scion tC, Honda Civic si, Mazda RX8, the list is endless really. I would research the cars on auto blogs, Consumer Reports, and YouTube. No sooner after the research begin, those cars would be everywhere on the road. I would park next to them at the grocery store, be stopped next to them at a red light, be cut off by one on the highway. 

I am experiencing a similar thing right now with social media. There is a theme that is happening in the blogging sphere revolving around social media dependency. SocialMedia.biz refers to it as "digital media intimacy". I rather enjoy that title.

JD Lasica makes a good point about how status updates taken one by one can seem a bit trite and inane. When captured over a long period of time, these updates can give a significant insight into friends' lives. He notes how "little snippets coalesce into a surprisingly sophisticated portrait of your friends' and family member's lives, like thousands of dots making a pointillist painting."


I suppose that relying on the "big picture" approach can seem a bit cliche, but it has a point. I am guilty of constantly living in a state that revolves around micro-updating, micro-analyzing, micro-digetizing. True clarity tends to be found only when one steps back from that "micro" default position. Switching between micro-blogging and actual blogging/journaling is a significant feat for me. I have to transition my mind from being compulsively stucatto and (attempt) to find a way to create a well-strucutred flow. Like I said before, discussions about social media can't be designated into "good" or "bad" catagories. Stepping back and taking a look at the "big picture" is important, but only if it includes the up-close smaller picture as well. 

Twitter has done many a thing for me (besides hooking me). It has allowed me to learn things about 'strangers' that I would never thing to ask best friends. I have twotwitter friends who come to mind right off the bat. I met one of them here at Juniper. We hired a company to help us with our persona process (a topic for a future blog) and I gave her a ride up to SF after our two day session was through. We had the hour drive to talk and get to know eachother somewhat, but it was in no way an in-depth friendship. Twitter has allowed me to know how her days are going, how the weather in Seattle is, what technology she is interested in. I get to hear what comments were passed her way on transit to and from work, and see Flickr updates when she changes her haircut. Now, I feel like I know her well. I care as much about her as I do my friends I see at work every day.  

Another twitter friend and I met at a conference in LA. Our love for music, cars and high-tech gadgetry was an instant bond. Twitter has allowed me to expand a significiant friendship from that point forward. It is doubtful I would have communicated with him through e-mail because it seems like a bit too much of a comitment to a person I dont technically know. I would never pick up the phone to call him. I hardly do that with friends I have known all my life. But I am still able to grasp the important parts of his life. 

Since micro-blogging comes from what the individual finds most important, it provides a different form of insight. There is a particular quality behind the reasons for the post. The dialogue is so uncharacteristic of anything that would ever happen organically face to face. It would be like taking a walk with a friend where you never exchanged words with one another, you just commented about things that were relevant to you at that moment. 

"Just tripped on uneven pavement, so glad no one was around to catch that."
"Looks like traffic is impossible again. Herds of soccer moms shuffling kids, I'm sure."

That style of dialogue doesnt exist outside of the blogging-sphere. It is because of this, that I have a fondness for it. Even though it isn't particulary natural, it shows a different angle of a person, which is exactly what I hunt for on the day-to-day.

My best friend and I talk every day. We IM, facebook message, text message enough to blow up the airways, and every so often call eachother when the other mediums just wont suffice. Even though I know nearly everything about her life and have up to the minute updates via text message, I still encourage her to join twitter or blog because her voice would come acrossed so differently. I would love to see how she chooses to convey herself in the micro (or macro) blogging sphere.

I'll keep my eyes posted for more material on this phenomenon. I'd love to hear your thoughts.

The Solution is coming

Big news coming...we're solving a huge problem. The network is growing: getting bigger and faster. The solution is coming. Sept 15, 2008 -- juniper.net


video

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Undistinguishable, but never unreachable

After writing my first post about all my social media accounts, I started wondering if it was a good thing how dependent I am on social media interaction.

These days everyone is connected at all times. I read somewhere (I wish I remember where) that when people were asked what they would not leave home without, more people said they would choose to take their cell phone over their wallet. My initial reaction was disbelief, but then I thought back to those times I was just meeting friends for a second down town, or if someone else was driving, or if I had to drop some things off at the post office. I never took my wallet. I always had my phone.

If you are a people watcher, like I am, you will notice that people can't stand to be alone anymore. If someone is waiting to meet a friend at a cafe or in front of a movie theatre, they are always texting or chatting on their phone. I am guilty of this as well. I get nervous with nothing to do and frantically start checking twitter or texting friends with updates about what I am doing. 

Humans are technically pack-animals. We started off living in groups and gradually, as technology became more prominent, we broke apart and began living independently. Technology is amazing in the way that it allows us to communicate quickly and stay informed. But I wonder how often my friends need to know that I saw humorous graffiti in a concert venue bathroom or that I have a desire for Mexican food for lunch. 

The answer is not black or white. There is no ability to say that relying on social media is bad or good. Sure, my tweets may be completely inane and irrelevant at times, but social media allows for the world to virtually exist in one place. When the tsunami hit in China, twitter was one of the first ways that people across the world heard it. Granted, the volume of tweets did shut down twitter for a bit, but the message was heard. Social media allows for instantaneous communication between people who would otherwise never come in contact with one another.

These statements are more than likely not news to you. Everyone understands the point to Facebook, Myspace and Twitter. We understand the novelty of Digg and Slashdot. Are there changes that you recognize in yourself that have manifested only after your dedication to social media?

A friend and I were chatting on IM the other day about how taking a business trip has changed since he was a kid. He reflected that when his father went on business trips his family had to call the main desk at the hotel to leave a message if they wanted to get in touch with him. Now, my friend has multiple ways of being contacted: e-mail, SMS text, IM, Twitter, Facebook updates. It is nearly impossible to shut off technology and literally be alone.

Having a cell battery die is commonly cause for a minor panic attack. I fear that the moment my battery dies, I will get into an alarmingly bad car accident and have no recollection of friends or family member's phone numbers.  The cause for lack of memory, isn't head-trauma however, it's my incapacitating dependency on my phone's address book. I wonder if that sort of dependency is, perhaps, a tad unhealthy.

When I was in school, we were encouraged to use mental math instead of a calculator [why use your mind when a machine is so much more accurate though? :)] because "relying on technology makes the mind lazy." I see the relevance of that statement. Thank goodness my parents haven't changed phone numbers in my lifetime. If there does happen to be some emergency, I already programmed those numbers into my mind's address book prior to ever having a cell phone. Those numbers are with me for life.

What's you're take on all of this? Would you say you are one of those people who has to text in the moment of waiting, or do you still look up and watch life going on around you? Would you prefer to have a conversation over IM instead of on the phone? (ahem, I do too) Do you feel life was sweeter prior to your dependency to social media?

I feel as if I have set this up as some social media addicts anonymous space. Perhaps I have a compulsion for social media, but I am not quite ready to profess that it is a "problem". 

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

First things first: let's get to know one another...

I have a long list of things to do, and on it was create a quasi-professional blog that is entirely public facing. I work at Juniper Networks in Sunnyvale for the web team. I do a series of videos/vlogs for J-Net, which is the forums/communities for Juniper. In them I get to announce new features happening on J-Net or interview interesting people in the tech industry as well as key users within the community.

In a meeting earlier today, a co-worker reitterated the fact that social media is typically generational. It got me to thinking about how I have basically tapped into every avenue of social media.

Social media sites I belong to: LiveJournal, Blogger, YouTube, Myspace, Facebook, Digg, Twitter(2 accounts), PhotoBucket, Flickr, StumbleUpon, FriendFeed, Yelp... I used to be a member of friendster but that got to be a bit much. :)

I am always eager to learn new technology, and try to get others as hooked as I am. I'm not sure if that's because I love to spread the good word, or because I typically like other people to connect to. I think it's a bit of both but more of the latter.

My RSS feed and Twitter are two of my favorite online quick hits. I am hoping to eventually make myself a shirt that says "I twitter in bed" -- seemingly provocative but still true.

A bit of back story... [and possibly gloating]

I graduated from UC Berkeley where I wrote my own major. The long of it: "ISF (Interdisciplinary Studies Field Major) - Intercultural Studies of Visual Images and Representation". The short of it: I studied the way cultures receive media. Mass Comm and other such marketing majors seemed to have an approach to media that didn't sit right with me. Mass marketing has set formulas that ignore cultural and social cues. It's all so impersonal and impractical really. I mean, it works... it definitely works. But it ignores so much about people and their history and traditions. I have more to say on this topic, obviously, seeing as how I wrote a massive thesis about it. The point of this particular side-bar is to illuminate the fact that I decided to study individual cultures, and the history behind their particular reception of media and portrayal in media. The reason why this job is so perfect is that it constantly allows me the opportunity to get to know individuals. It also allows me to investigate the trends of "users" on our own site.

The best part about the interviews are the moments that happen off-camera. We have small chats about things that aren't business, they are charming insights into each person. They are the reasons why they love their job, tales about their families, places traveled, highlights as to what technology they find most interesting in their day-to-day life. I love hearing these bits because it shows what people are behind this industry.

Doubtful I would have told you that I was going to be in the tech industry post-college. I figured I would be a rock star, an acrobat in Cirque de Soleil, or perhaps a helicopter pilot for a logging company. Instead, I work for a fairly large company. I have a cubicle that is riddled with word of the day calendars and airplane toys. I go to "important" meetings. I take notes. I buy pencil skirts and listen in to conference calls.

Sometimes I feel like I'm conducting my own experiment. And perhaps I am. I am learning what it is like to experience corporate society. But I still feel like I have a different impulse when it comes to the day-to-day. I want to know why everyone shows up in the morning, what their experiences are, why they were initially so passionate about the industry--and if their passion has shifted. The technology is remarkable and innovative, but it is only as good as the minds behind it.

I expect to outline my own adventures in social media, the people using it, the trends that come of it, and the industry it surrounds.

I encourage any conversation you may want to add. Are you a J-Net member? Introduce yourself. Not a J-Net member? Still introduce yourself, and maybe afterwards puruse our forums anyway just to get a look at what I do and see what I am so passionate about.

Pleased to meet you, I look forward to what happens next.