Friday, January 30, 2009

First Triangle Tweetup of 2009

Like 150 other people, I attended the Triangle Tweetup last night at edge office. I have absolutely no idea what the topics of any of the presentation were. I think they were something like How to use Twitter to increase your online coolness, How to use Twitter to make a million dollars, How to use Twitter to pick up chicks, score high on the LSAT, increase your penis/bust size (not at the same time), whiten your teeth, etc. It’s not that I’m not interested in what was being said – OK, I really wasn’t interested. I still find it hard to believe that anyone in attendance gained anything from what seemed like common-sense, basic marketing sermons. Granted, I’m sure there are people who are brand spanking new to the internet – or at least to Twitter – and some people really don’t have marketing talents or backgrounds, but, in my opinion, since it was a Triangle Tweetup, there would have been better things to talk about. It’s a captive audience; bring in someone from the museum or the Durham Performing Arts Center or a local politician. Instead of talking about Twitter to people who are on Twitter, open up the forum. Now Ginny Skalski (@GinnySkal) did suggest turning it into a food drive – which was a great idea – so I won’t say it was without any social impact.

The real reason I attended last night wasn’t to learn anything about social marketing, but I do enjoy real (offline) social interaction and seeing the people who I, admittedly, met via twitter but who I’ve come to consider real friends. It’s also good to put faces to avatars, but my favorite experience is meeting new people and being able to honestly say, “Hey, I knew you before we followed each other.”

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Rock & roll is interfering with my life.

You know, being a (wannabe) rock star isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. I mean, yeah, there are the women and the booze and the drugs, but sometimes, you just want to put the instruments down and have a normal weekend.

We’re in the middle of a month of weekend shows. This Saturday we’re heading to Charlotte (well Salisbury really) to play a show with our friends from Smashed Alley. It should be a good show, definitely high energy, and we do enjoy playing with those guys. But, really, could it come at a more inopportune time? Sunday is Superbowl Sunday, and this is no ordinary Superbowl Sunday. This is a Superbowl Sunday when my Steelers are playing. Coincidentally, this is also the last Sunday before I begin my diet and preparation for my next bodybuilding competition (but more about that in a later post). In a perfect world, I’d wake up on Sunday morning, have breakfast, hit the gym and be done and in football mode by noon, giving me plenty of time for pre-game preparation. That’s not going to happen this weekend.

Even if I remain completely in control on Saturday night (i.e.: don’t take part in the free-beer-for-the-bands program), there’s still little hope of getting out of the club before 2:30AM. Gear needs to be loaded, money collected, etc., and then there’s the matter of getting back to the hotel and dealing with any after-action reviews and any randoms that may have decided to join us. I’m hoping that, since our entourage will include one wife, one fiancĂ© and two girlfriends (I’m the only one rolling solo) that we can wrap things up at a decent hour. In the morning, we still have the two-hour drive back to Raleigh and getting everything unloaded and back into the studio. Of course there’s the option of remaining completely sober and pulling the red-eye drive after we get loaded up; however, doing so would mean I can’t take advantage of the evening’s full potential.

Beer & an interview

So, I was thinking about beginning to blog again, and I thought, "Ya know, Dave, at last count there were 13.5 million blogs on the web (not really), and most blogs are self-centered ego masturbation. What fun is that?" And, although I'll blatantly admit that most of what I'll post is going to be what I happen to be thinking at the time, wouldn't it be nice to focus on other people as well? So, at tomorrow's Triangle Tweetup at Edge Office, I'll be conducting the first few episodes of "Beer & an Interview."
What is Beer & an Interview? Easy. I'll be bringing a cooler of Carlsberg - by favorite Danish beer, my flip camera and a tripod. I'll sit down with a few of the more interesting people in the triangle, share a beer with them, and they'll give me their spiel. I know some people have no problem with self promotion, but for those of you who don't particularly love to toot your own horns, it's a great opportunity to get your story out there. Who's going to see it? Damned if I know. But, if people actually start reading this blog, it may actually get noticed.
Since I probably won't know who I'll be interviewing before I get there, have a two-minute or so pitch or story thought out. If we go longer, who cares, I'll edit it.
If you want me to prepare some good questions for you (I do have experience in media training), DM me at @DaveMinella or send me an email at dminella31 (at) gmail (dot) com and tell me what makes you so interesting.
We WILL NOT be discussing Twitter or other social media!
See everyone tomorrow.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

My life as a race fan

From an email I sent to a friend this summer with a little bit more added:

You know, I've been an AMA racing fan since I was a kid. I remember my first flat track races, watching Scotty Parker, Jay Springsteen and Bubba Shobert go at it on the ovals at Parkersburg, WV and Syracuse, NY. I was watching when Doug Chandler earned rookie of the year honors as a flat tracker in 1983 and again when he won the superbike title for the first time in 1990. In 1985, I knew my hero, Chris Carr, would one day carry the #1 plate. I remember when Shobert made the switch to the asphalt and the relief of the Harley crowd that there'd be one less Honda dominating flat track racing.
I was there when Eddie Lawson won the Daytona 200 in '86 (I was 10), and watched on TV when he did it again in 1993.
During high school, the end of the school year was celebrated with a one-hour drive to Mount Morris, PA to spend the weekend (drunk & belligerent) at the High Point motocross nationals.
The first time I saw Nicky Hayden race - and win – on TV was in '02 at VIR (I was cheering for Pascal Picotte on the Ducati that race).
By the time I knew the difference between an inline four and a big V-twin, I was having dreams of sitting at the top of the corkscrew at Laguna Seca, and I remember not being able to speak for a few moments the first time I rounded that last bend in the winding road through the Monterey Peninsula and looked down on that historic racetrack..
I’ve watched sidecar races and alcohol-fueled speedway heats, and I’ve seen 600cc flat trackers put spikes on their tires and race around ice hockey rinks. This is my sport, and this sport helps define huge part of my life. I've seen Mat Mladin race a Ducati – and a Cagiva, Larry Pegram on a Suzuki, Tommy Hayden on a Kawasaki. I've watched spectacular high-sides and counted the seconds until the rider was on his feet. I've seen titles come down to hundredths of a second, blown motors end championship hopes and injuries end careers.

I really don't know what's in store for AMA road racing next year, but I'm really worried about it. I'm not worried that the racing is going to be boring (I could watch guys race 50cc unicycles and think it's cool), but I am worried about losing some of my heroes. Mediocre riders = a mediocre sport. I'm also worried about motorcycle racing becoming a marketing tool like NASCAR. I watched stock car racing in the early 80s, and I remember back-woods Alabama drivers who were too dumb to give TV interviews tearing fenders off at 200mph. It wasn't about the image or the hat dance or the TV commercials; it was about fucking racing! DMG's rule proposals proved they don't give a shit about the racing. You don't start off by pissing off the factories, but it was bound to happen. Look at what they do to NASCAR. The "if you don't like our rules, don't put your cars on the track" mentality is exactly what looks to be in store for superbikes. The "equal machines = better racing" philosophy is bullshit. If you want to be competitive, build a better bike. Look at Kawasaki. It's taking them a while, but they're getting there, plus this series has some amazing riders who can do anything on whatever machine they're handed.

I wrote that email to @Bridget_NewGirl this summer when the new AMA rules were being worked out. That was before the downturn in the economy. Before Honda pulled out of AMA Superbikes, before Kawasaki pulled out of MotoGP. For the first time in my life, I’m afraid for our sport. I’m afraid that, no matter if and when the economic crisis ends, it may be too late. I’m afraid of fans losing interest, but just as importantly, I’m afraid of the potential fans we’re passing up. DORNA has it all wrong. DMG has it all wrong. It’s as if they’ve decided that racing isn’t worth the effort and compromise needed to keep it growing.

Where’s the passion for racing? The riders have it. The fans have. When will the powers that be step back and remember what it’s all about?

I hate Twitter

I really do. Yeah, I put up with the other "tweeps" (twerps) on there, and I'll admit I come away from every day with at least three pieces of valuable information, but seriously, how much ass kissing and glad handing can one place - real or virtual - handle. I was an early adopter, as I was with my first blog, with YouTube and with MySpace (although I will admit I looked at Facebook as a college hookup generator for a long time before I gave into its power), but I've never labeled myself as an expert. I've been involved with many forms of social media, and I'm deeply embedded in web 2.0, but I've never called myself a guru or a czar or whatever other title people make up to make themselves look enlightened to their fellow twitterati. I've been to tweetups, and besides the ones I've attended at Maker Faire Austin and other real-world events, they've tended to be groups of twitter users talking about things that most of us real marketers consider common sense and comparing numbers of followers while touting their greatness to the less twitter-savvy. It's group-think at it's finest, and undeserved elitism at its worst. During my first two tweetups, I was shocked by the number of social media "experts" who've never had a real job; their only credentials are that they have a blog, a Facebook page and they're on twitter. They give 20 minute presentations about Twitter etiquette. I couldn't believe I was hearing some of this stuff. It was like a giant social media circle jerk.
I'm no twitter favorite, nor do I attempt to become one. I probably lose as many followers as I gain on a daily basis, and I'm fine with that. I know I'm blunt, I'm opinionated. My views on politics and social media rub the more sensitive the wrong way. It's not that I'm intentionally abrasive; I'm just trying to keep the bullshit level low. I call people out on their pompous arrogance, and never let a stated "fact" go unchecked. This isn't my real-life persona, but I'm just trying to maintain the checks & balances. My theme: If you don't like me, unfollow me. I'm surprised at the number of direct messages I receive thanking me for calling someone out.

Oh, by the way, my name's Dave, this is my new blog, and I can be found on twitter as @DaveMinella.