January 13, 2007

Some of the best birthdays all year are in January!

  Marc January 13

Jane January 14

Jon January 16

Robert January 18

Benjamin January 18

Susan January 23

Tom January 26

Thanks Orkut, you're still good for somethin'. And Happy Birthday to Marc. I wonder if he'll celebrate? ;-)

And, if you're wondering what to get the blogger who has everything, Jeremy Outerbridge has some sense of style--perhaps a selection from his wishlist?

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Dumpstering and AT&T -- The Great Cingular De-Branding

Part of the 11-year-mark dumpster activity I posted about below involves current news insomuch as I worked on the launch of Cingular in 2000/2001 while I was at Ketchum.

What this has to do with dirty Dumpsters is that news of AT&T's de-branding campaign came just an hour after I sat in this very spot at my laptop nostalgically leafing through the old Employee Road Show Plan and Briefing Book for Cingular, two samples I saved from my agency days and this week's Dumpster flush at the Sessum house.

Cingular is in the news because it is essentially unbecoming Cingular.

One of the biggest “de-brandings” in advertising history is to begin Monday when AT&T, now the sole owner of Cingular Wireless, starts changing all Cingular marketing to adopt the AT&T name.

AT&T will not disclose the budget for the campaign, which will continue for five or six months — leading to the partnership with Apple on the new iPhone, scheduled for midyear.

I like to tell the story about the head of the Atlanta office telling me not to dare utter the name C-i-n-g-u-l-a-r aloud back in 2000, and my paranoid hiding of the piece of paper with the Cingular name on it in my underwear drawer, not even telling George what the name was until Launch time. My job was to write messaging around the name -- why the C, etc. -- ahead of the launch. A dirty job, but, hey. Not much has changed there. ;-)

Allow me to provide a coveted snippet of what brand new Cingular employees -- the first to work for this new and revolutionary wireless company -- heard back in the day of its dawning when executives traveled across the country introducing the company to the team, a trip down memory lane if you will:
We're here today to have a conversation, really, about our new company. There are two exciting things about what I just said -- this company is new and it's ours. And, as the video said, it's more than a name change -- we are a once-in-a-lifetime company.

Cingular is going to be what we make of it for all of us as employees and for our customers as well. ... Even as we speak -- for many days -- your executive team has hit the road to take the story to Cingular Employees across the nation. Our launch to the outside world will be on January 14th, but we want you -- the insiders -- to hear about it first...

We want to meet you, and we want you to meet us. After all, each of us is going to express ourselves at Cingular. Collectively, we will be stronger if we listen to each other and share ideas.

There was big branding money behind a destined-to-be giant at just the right time in the wireless revolution.

And just like the white board where so many ideas emerged, it can be erased just like that. But all of this branding, re-branding and de-branding costs mega-bucks--$1 billion just last year to promote AT&T as the brand name of SBC, which gave rise to Cingular (along with BellSouth) in the first place, and the same brand that Cingular shed in 2004. And it costs a lot in terms of customer attention and employee identity too.

Whether or not it will be worth it is not something I'm not far enough inside to speculate on. Of course, being part of the Apple iPhone deal will help keep the company in the news--no matter what it's called it's going to be part of the Next Big Thing.

But will it be the right part--the right partner?

I do think Cingular was one of the most impressive brands of its kind built in the last ten years. Whether you morph the logo into a globe with a jack head, an inside out jack, or a jackass, AT&T will still have its work cut out to find a way to be believable as innovative and nimble in a space where those qualities are expected and valued.

Cingular said back then, "We are not a technology company; we are a human expression company!"

What does AT&T want to be when it re-grows up?

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January 12, 2007

The Dumpster

Twenty two years together is a long time. That's how long George and I have been George and I.

That also represents more than two decades of collecting memories. And stuff.

A lot of stuff.

From reel-to-reels to 8-tracks to LPs to CDs (we were there for all of them), and back again. From old photos to super 8s to dvds. Broken electronics and broken chairs, old Halloween wigs, 6 vacuums, dish racks, cords and screws, boxes of books and magazines, 20 years of joint tax returns plus receipts, moldy clothes and infomercial exercise equipment, license plates and out-of-state drivers' licenses. It's all there.

We've lived in this house for 11 years now, and the items above represent the contents of just one corner of our garage and downstairs. Which is why we finally made the mature and wise decision to rent a dumpster for a week and let go of some of our treasures... err stuff... okay junk.

Working together to get it done has been a painful process, not just because of the memories unearthed from the bottom of ordinary-looking cardboard boxes, but because we approach the task of "cleaning out the garage" in very different ways.

George is a go-through-every-box-waste-not-want-not, highly resourceful person who can find a use for just about any piece of wood, metal, mineral or vegetable. I'm of the opinion that unless I would physically pick up an item to carry to a hypothetical new house -- either because it means that much to me or it's that indispensable -- then it's time to let go of it.

Those two dumpster approaches aren't exactly symbiotic. But as a system of checks and balances, it works.

How it works is like this: I almost get to throw something away, and he brings it back and matches it with some other part he picks up from seemingly nowhere, which I had no idea was in any way related to the item I was about to toss. And then he says, "See?" Some choice words usually follow from both of us. It's been a long week.

On the important things, we agree--and that's sort of how Dumpster Use equates to real-life. Husband and Wife coming together to agree on which crap is really crap: the non-working, rusted-through barbeque grill, GONE; the old, rusted deck chairs and table, GONE; the roll-away crib, in my van for the mission; toddler toys of Jenna's, bye-bye! And let's not forget the five boxes of samples from my portfolio, too much hard-copy for my new world of work, GONE.

And so it has been, since Monday. Work and Dumpster, Work and Dumpster, that has been the routine. Sometimes it varies--dumpster and work, dumpster and work.

No matter how you slice it though, it's been a trying walk through the last two decades of our lives--and many boxes from further back, from our own childhoods. I'm hoping that there's a therapeutic release when the dumpster company pulls away old Nelly on Monday. I only know one thing--the dumpster will be gone, along with every irretrievable scrap inside it.

Big Sigh.

In the mean time, you know where we'll be. Send Motrin.

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i wanna nother lil app - followmethere

I want a lil follow-me-there app that knows where i am online -- oh she's logged in to myspace, flickr, and twitter right now, for example -- and there's a little widget at the top of my blog that lets you follow me there WHEN I'm online this place or that or have done something new there.

caveat: this probably already exists and i don't know about it. so tell me.

Okay sure you can subscribe to places where I am but for crying out loud I just don't do it for folks I want to follow around, and then two months later I say, "man i haven't kept up with so-and-so for two months!" and I get all sad and disillusioned with the state of the Net, whereby I often lose my temper and piss someone off, and the cycle begins again.

Ah, life!

Like you, I am dis-integrated into so many spaces online -- my myspace page, twitter, allied, blogsisters, blogher, jeremy's blog, kat herding comments, flickr, bubbleshare, Kaneva, Skype, Yahoo IM, even facebook and orkut (though i am rarely online there), google docs, jsessum.com, jeneane.net -- i mean how many RSS feeds would it take to keep up with where I am and what I'm doing/saying/sharing? And why would you want to go through all that effort? I don't even know my own feeds for what I do/say/publish in all of those places. I certainly don't keep up with myself. I am a ball rolling down hill. I am a leaky swimming pool. Help me.

I need a whole aggregator just for me to cure my Internet Dissociative Identity Disorder (I-DID)

Why can't you just subscribe to "follow jeneane" and you trek along on my magic carpet via links or some avatar with a flying broomstick?

Only you should probably think of doing this with someone a little more interesting than me. Like Doc. :-)

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I wanna lil' app...

I want a little app that will let me grab the URLs and titles of posts I most want to have time to read (but haven't read yet) and put them in a kind of dog-eared library list on my blog sidebar.

Then I want--right from that box on my blog sidebar--for me to checkmark a post or article if I've already read it, and then maybe add a sentence or two description for my readers who also might want to read (or have a say) on posts we have no time to read. And I want it to be quick and easy--like a little bookmarklet thing--and not look dumb in my blog sidebar, and NOT be overly complex. if you want a social component beyond the box, that's fine, but don't make me participate.

Take cue from BubbleShare. The smartest first thing they did right was allow a zero-registration option --> It was the company saying:  you don't owe it to me to be part of my process just because I'm giving you software to use. I really want you to try it so that you'll want to use it again and again and tell your friends. Truth be known, I need you more than you need me. So go ahead and jump in by just entering an email address. But if you want more features, then we need to know who you are so we can let you at them.

In the business of widgets and web 2.0, the user still wants one thing: for you to give them cool shit that lets them do cool shit. No hoops. And not a lot of work.

So, going back to my lil' app, I want it to work like that too.

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January 10, 2007

When Good PR Hurts

When you're done at this CES booth, go ahead and stroll on over to the Anal Probe booth #204, the Dog Shit Wearing booth #1175, and the blood-letting leech booth #9330.

Weee! Tradeshows are more fun every year!

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January 09, 2007

Writing Yourself Real

First posted at BlogHer.org

In 2002, David Weinberger wrote a defining statement about what early blog settlers were doing:

The importance of the weblog phenomenon isn't so much that it enables people to publish their breakfast menus or even their genuine insights. It's that we now know what our "avatars" on the Net are going to be: not graphical cartoon representations but our body of writing. You are what you write. On the Web we are writing ourselves into existence. This introduces into the self the same issues of control, inspiration, invention, deception and play as have always been present in the relationship of authors to what they write."

When we came upon that line by David back then, most of us went, "Yes! That's it! We are writing ourselves real."

It may sound kind of corny now, as millions have come here in the mean time with new ideas and skilled debating skills. But David's early description of what our online journaling meant was right on: we really were writing ourselves into existence -- and just as important, we were reading one another into existence.


With my own online presence having grown from a single Google search result on "Jeneane Sessum" in 2000, to nearly half a million today, I am an example of someone who has been created in some parallel form online. And that has fascinated me.

When David first wrote those words, I jammed with him, adding my own thoughts on what the heck any of us were doing blogging:
As our fingers wind around the keyboard sketching our online selves--filling in the furrows, the wrinkles, the gleam, the raised eyebrow as we go--that avatar we create *recreates* us in the offline world. It is a circle of creation and recreation. That is the joy in it for me--not so much the voice, the self I have created through blogging, but how that unleashed voice is transforming me, the person, the flesh and the mind.

I have always believed that what we do here changes who we are out there. I don't know anyone who blogged back in 2001/2002 who has not been changed by the act of writing, and having been read, in public.

Ask yourself: Have you been shaped and changed by the conversations you have had in pixels? I have met my best friends here; I have been adopted family I never knew I had. I have never been more loved.

I know when you are lying to me. I scream alongside you when you tear off another layer of skin to show me who you are underneath it all.

Not all of this 'writing ourselves into existence' has been great fun, you see. Pain, lost relationships, tremendous hurt are all a part of the process.

I remember the first time I read Halley Suitt--before I ever knew her, emailed her, talked to her on the phone or met her. BEFORE she existed at all in my universe. I read her into existence with her post on her father's death. And I have never forgotten her first line:

"When my dad wakes up today, the first thing he will notice is that he is dead."


Posts like Halley's were what early blogging was about--and they are still what blogging should be about.

Before the conferences and the professionalization of the blogosphere, we were just people who hurt, celebrated, joked, goofed, wept, learned, and played. We did not intend to grow, but we grew. Some of us even grew up.

Beyond the 'journalism or not' debate. Above the mayhem of politics and academics. Aside from the technology and reviews. We were telling our stories to one another, and the stories mattered.

I'm not meaning to wax nostalgic here.

But I guess I am.

The point I set out to make -- I'm getting to it in a round about way -- is that David's notion of creating ourselves online -- something we are still doing at a frenetic pace -- is still important.

As a blogger, it's not necessarily what you write ABOUT that matters, but it is about where you write FROM. You can be a CEO in pain from the loss of a loved one and write from that pain and turn out the best writing you have ever done on growing your customer base. You can be a teacher overjoyed and in love and write the best post you have ever written about distance learning. Just go in, step down, and w-r-i-t-e.

That is how you begin to exist.


I believe in the multi-dimensional blog, where you can be CEO and be grieving your mother's death at the same time, where you can be soldier and poet, where you can mix AJAX with love, where you can fact check and sob, where you can be thicker than the words you type, where your substance is in your disparate parts, where your blog brings the pieces of you together.

As you continue to write yourself into existence, keep in mind how we wrote here before. How being real meant that a manager could write about how unmanageable loss is. Don't sacrifice the freedom you have to define yourself as MORE THAN you have been defined previously. Let your writing redefine who you are, write your way out, post your way through, because it's okay.

It's okay to not know the answer and write anyway; you are not less of a marketer. It's okay to walk on stage and fart outloud; you are not less of a mother. It's okay if you throw up--you are no less a technologist.

This is still the best chance you have for freedom.

Don't give up on love or lust for Alexa numbers. Don't silo for technorati. Don't sacrifice your heart for traffic.

Don't settle.

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January 07, 2007

Puke-covered school days

Ever since I was very young, I've been a vomiter. My mom would get us dressed to go out to a special dinner, and before we'd be out of the driveway, one-year-old me would yack all over my dainty little outfit. Prim and proper replaced by stinky and gross.

I remember train trips throwing up, sail boat throwing up, car ride throwing up, bus ride throwing up (discretely into my knit cap), flu throwing up, excitement throwing up, depression throwing up, you NAME it throwing up. Except airplanes. I never threw up on an airplane. Small blessings.

With all that load lightening, you'd think my body could at least reward me with 20 or 30 or several dozen fewer pounds. But no, I guess my overactive gag reflex must have triggered a starvation response in my metabolism. Yeah, that's it.

The one saving grace--not sure how I managed it either--was that I never threw up in school. It's amazing. All of those years, all of those ripe opportunities for retching in front of my friends, and somehow I never ralphed in class.

Or in the cafeteria, as Fin Slippy's boy did Friday, not from motion sickness or anxiety, no, nothing like that. Apparently he upchucked due to uncontrollable laughter and a pretty darn funny preschool lunch table joke.

I admire you, Henry. This is one fear you will never have to deal with. You faced it without even knowing it was there, too young for phobias about broken etiquette rules to paralyze you. You, amazing Henry, zapped the power from that common fear by self-assuredly tossing your cookies...er...grapes right where you sat, at the lunch table.

I wish I could have done that at your tender age. Think of how less stressed middle school would have been if that "what if" had been behind me.

For me, it was not to be. But for you--you made it through.

Respect, young man. Respect.

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huh uh uh singalong mm hmm hit me one time alright...

call her
see what I see
in fronta me
true funk soldia
back in the day
hot pants by james
phd in advanced
body movin
true funk solidas

don't you eva touch my stereo.

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someathat prince

no place like home

we were over at my friend's tonight when the weather folks started cutting into the Giants game with red spreading up the Georgia map like a bad rash. South of Atlanta (Coweta) had several tornados. We heard the siren around 6:30 and spent nearly 1/2 hour in the basement with hail and pounding rain. They said winds were likely to reach 60 mph, but I don't think it got that bad up our way. Still, Jenna has a tornado phobia. She said she felt like she was going to "puke" a few times, but we made it through. We're still in Kansas. ;-)

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it strikes me as truly scary...

That I was born nearly 20 years before him.  I'm putting my cane down to say happy birthday Mr. Mesina.

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whoa but we had some weather tonite...

...including tornado siren fun and 1/2 hour in a friend's basement. wee! be safe ya'll.

GREAT idea. Thanking Commenters

Saw it at Toby's blog, about Nancy link-thanking all of her commenters for 2006. What a great idea (and a great way for readers to find new blogs). Any commenter of Nancy's rates a looksie by me! While you're at it, don't miss Toby's Friday rundown of blogging tips.

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it should be easy

for me to just blast away post after post, alternating poetry, rants and thoughts on marketing and technology and social software and myspace and social drama and kids and life and loss and all of that.

the posts come so fast now, they don't have time to make it here.

going toward six years, this is the stage where we save as draft and move on.

It's like double dipping. I post in my head and then i go back and dip into part of that post and think up something new from the old.

except i never quite get HERE to post either.

it's really rather bothersome.

i'll try to be better about it.

So I'm only slightly panicked, google.

....that all of my archives are 404-ing.

maybe it's temporary.

maybe i'm fucked.

funny you know--in the era of Web2.0, legacy users are a burden rather than a blessing.

We are the grandparents of your user community--we birthed babies who have birthed babies on your platform. And yet, because we have lived several thousand lifetimes in posts, we have outlived our usefulness, taking up too much space, tangled in technology that's several revs back and nearly unsupportable.

With the focus on adoption and acquisition, web 2.0 users who stick with a company are not rewarded; we're baggage. We clog up the works with our megs of content and broken links and reliance of features from Christmases past.

We are too smart to be snowed, too demanding to be avoided, too connected to be silent.

We require a whole different language and resource base inside the organization--we are a support drain, an unwanted expense, a headache for resources that should be doing more important things--like adding the latest, coolest, newest features.

In an era when new sign ons = $, existing users -- customers -- are just a hassle. Where's the iceberg--let's set 'em all afloat.

I wish I thought that it was going to come back to bite them in the ass. You know? I wish I believed that.

But I don't. I think we're reaping what we sewed.

Back on topic: I hope my 27 years of archives come back.


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Has Dave Winer Said...

...what happened to his pledge to quit blogging by the end of the year 2006? Not that I want to see him go. . . Just that the retirement pledge was pretty big news when he blogged it. Just wondering if there's been an update I missed.

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This isn't a conference...

...It's some kind of corpogeek-conference olympics in a germ ward. Bring your Hand Sanitizer. And some of those sneakers with wheels the kids wear. Or stay far away like the rest of us!

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what the hell is up with google the last couplea days?

blogger's slower than molasses; gmail's slower than molasses; my archives on blogger are 404ing all over the place; chat's turned into gtalk and gchat and popup chat to the point where i uninstalled allofit. been trying to trick gmail into workin by changing from with chat view to standard view to HTML view.

is it this thing they're turned on recently: "New! Google finds the search results most relevant to you, based on your search history. Learn more."

no i don wanna learn more. i want what i already got to work.
there's only one thing google has to do now to continue to dominate: keep shit working well.