Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Goodbye 2008, Hello 2009!

Photo by ViaMoi2008 has been a very very crazy year. Those of you who know me well would know that I've been through a lot of major ups and downs. Here's 20 things that I've learned from this year that I'd like to share:

  1. Rules can be bent as long as targets are met.
  2. Try harder when someone says, "it's impossible."
  3. You can be creative given the right conditions.
  4. Being an abstract thinker doesn't mean you can't communicate.
  5. If the boss is happy, everyone else is happy, and you'll be happy, too.
  6. Sometimes you need to slow down. No point in talking to your colleagues if they don't get what you're saying.
  7. Diagrams and flowcharts work when folks don't understand your English.
  8. If snack sizes don't work, try bite sizes. Adjust to your audience.
  9. If you repeat the same thing you said a couple of months ago in a meeting, the issue is not worth vexing over.
  10. Breathe. The world won't stop turning if an issue is not solved that day.
  11. There's a warm and fuzzy feeling that happens in your stomach when you know that the copy you wrote is viewed by millions.
  12. Being a change agent means you have to swim upstream at times.
  13. You can still be angry or upset and not lose your sense of humor.
  14. Lawyers can be blood suckers and cops deserve the nick name, "pigs" -- at least in Kolkata. I still love NYPD.
  15. When you're in dire straits and call out for help, those who matter will come to your rescue.
  16. Friendships are priceless, the true test comes when you need a ton of money really fast at a couple hours of notice.
  17. Believe in the power of your network, you can never replace that human connection.
  18. Your parents are not perfect, no matter how much you like them to be.
  19. Having a padawan is really cool. Making that person think out of the box and grow as a writer is even more awesome.
  20. I'm a card carrying SMORE (social media whore.)
I don't believe in New Year resolutions but here are the 7 things I'm hoping to achieve in 2009:

1. Transition into travel writing and magazines.
2. Make slightly bigger ripples.
3. Be more attuned spiritually.
4. Travel to more destinations in and around Myanmar, India, maybe head to Nepal and Bhutan.
5. Connect with techies in Kolkata, rock the scene.
6. Connect with more expats in Kolkata, rock that scene too. ^_^
7. Get my solar panel project off the ground. (Please email me [yuyudin at gmail dot com] individually if you're interested.)

Photo by ViaMoi

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Finally, BarCamp Kolkata

BarCamp Kolkata Logo by Ardra Venugopal

I've been complaining on and off about how nothing really happens in Kolkata, except for social gatherings and food festivals. (Note: Kolkata, formerly Calcutta, is the capital of the state of West Bengal, which is in the NorthWest of India and borders Bangladesh.) But my prayers have been answered. @artagnon alerted me the other day on BarCamp Kolkata. I was really excited of course and saw that some familiar Tweeple are going, too. I just registered myself now, I'm totally psyched and can't wait until January 3rd. 

Why is this the FIRST BarCamp in Kolkata? You have to understand this city is very adverse to change. When I say "social media", "blog", or "twitter" most people go, huh? And they look like me as if I'm talking in Volcan. Most of the time I feel like I'm talking to myself, especially after my ex-boss left. I usually don't bring up Twitter in the conversation. Folks are just switching over from Orkut to Facebook. They're not concerned about the technical terms or keeping themselves trendy tech-wise. They don't even know what to do with their iPhones. 

Kolkata is a laid back city, with an IT hub that is still in its infant stage. Most companies think three, four times before they come here, even with all the incentives. And after the Tata Nano project pulled out of West Bengal, it looks grim for this state. Kolkata is not Bangalore, Pune, or my favorite, Gurgaon. It is Kolkata, it will always be Kolkata, but things are moving.

Why BarCamp Kolkata now? There's enough synergy in the air. There's the young generation of bloggers, coders, and geeks who want to stir things from the grassroots level and make change happen. I think this new generation is going to make waves for themselves. So far up on the wiki there's a small group of folks who are registered. I'm not worried about the number, small might actually mean a good thing. 

I can't really contain my excitement that something worthwhile is happening in this city but I also don't want to set myself up for a big disappointment. One thing I'll tell you for sure that's going to happen is that we'll be keeping the core values of BarCamp. It's very hard to plan and organize things in Kolkata, it's going to be as unplanned and unorganized as it can get! That's what Kolkata is all about. 24/7 unorganized chaos of a city. It's kinda like living in Oz, it's fun.  

If you're working in the tech field in Kolkata you should try to come. It starts at 10.30am on Jan 3rd at IIT Kharagpur extension center, in Salt lake. Click here for directions. For more information visit here:

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Tweeple: 12 People I'm looking forward to Interacting with in 2009

Twitter Pack by Carrot Creative
You know the year can't end with last minute meme of some sort. Well, this isn't an official twitter meme but feel free to pass it on. (Folks on this list can also go ahead and pass it on!) I "met" and started interacting with the following people on Twitter through either their blogs or some other people's tweets. I usually pay attention to their tweets because I have a great laugh, get ideas or learn something new. And believe me, getting the list down to just 12 tweeple is not that easy! There were other folks that I want to include but that'll be just too many people. I'll highlight them in the New Year so stay tuned!

1. Michael Leis @mleis
This is the man I blame for my Twitter addiction. ^_^ Before he came into my life it was quiet, though I had set up my Twitter account before I never really saw the use until I was woken by his thought provoking post on marketing. I first read one of Michael's post on iMedia Connection about the future of social media. I saw that I can have a conversation with him on Twitter so we hit it off. Jokes aside, I wouldn't have met the rest of the wonderful folks if it wasn't for him.

2. Leah Dossey @CreativeWisdom
I got to Leah's profile through @Jimconnolly when she answered a post on creating Twitter backgrounds. She's written an excellent tutorial on making your own Twitter backgrounds. We DM-ed (Direct Message) back and forth and hit it off immediately. She's a great designer and has a really fast turn around time according to folks who've worked with her. So if you need a designer stat, she's the person you go to.

3. Ande @dailytwitter
First you have to check out Daily Twitter the site. It's going to be expanding in 2009 as a news site. But guess where the news is coming from? Yup, the microblogging world! Besides, Ande is a great guy to follow, he's a great dude to brain storm with. I think he started following me when I replied back to someone, I forget, but hey replies will get you followers too so don't be so self absorbent!

4. Michael Gass @michaelgass
Michael Gass is my Jedi in advertising. If you're into advertising he's THE person to follow. He'll push your thoughts beyond the Web 2.0 world with his tweets. He asks the right questions and he points to the right answers. Advertising and marketing has a line that gets blurred often. An ad copy is just as important as a marketing copy. I never had "formal" training in either subjects so I need to read and learn stuff. Sure enough, you'll learn everything you need about the advertising world and where it's headed from just following Michael Gass's tweets.

5. Valerie Stevens @ValerieStevens
Valerie Stevens is a bit of a mystery woman, which intrigues me a lot. She's a hard core social media maven. She's already using Facebook and Twitter in a very synergistic way. In just a short span of time she has a good amount of people following her on Twitter as well as joining her group on Facebook. She's going to be traveling and launching a lot of blog properties in 2009 so I'm really interested in watching what she does. Plus she's a fun person to interact with.

6. Cheryl Phillips @TheDailyBlonde
Cheryl is a woman after my own heart. She started Twitters Anonymous. Of course, I'm on it! You can also join the Twitters Anonymous Facebook group. Cheryl's a great mom, blogger, twitterati, and she spreads cheer on every social network she's on. Read more about The Daily Blonde here.

7. Anand Nataraj @anandnataraj
Anand is an Indian serial entrepreneur. He's one of the first Indians that I started following on Twitter. I needed some people to talk about issues that happen in the land that I live in. Anand blogs, tweets, and manages his new company Cogzidel Consultancy Services from one of the tech capitals of India, Chennai. If you're looking to expand your company's operations in India, he's the man you need to talk to.

8. Angsuman Chakraborty @angsuman
A fellow Calcuttan, Angsuman is also another entrepreneur and a software architect. I found him (and boy was I glad!) on Twitter when I was looking for people who tweet in Kolkata (same city, new name). An Infosys alumnus, he's the founder and CEO of Taragana. His company develops software for Fortune 500 companies as well as start ups. Lately we've been really busy and missing each other because my cell phone is out of order but we keep in touch on twitter. ^_^ He's been organizing Tweetups for folks here, so I am totally looking forward to really meeting this guy. Expanding and networking the tech scene here in Kolkata is one of my goals in 2009.

9. May Velous @mayvelous
May is a young Burmese woman programmer. (Neat eh?) We found each other via Twitter when I was looking for fellow Burmese who tweet. If change were to happen in Myanmar, I believe that it will come from the young educated tech savvy people. At least we will be creating ripples for the next generation. There's a lot of change agents out there and she's one of them. She doesn't tweet much but her blog is amazing. She introduced Global Voices to me and they've accepted me as a volunteer writer. (I'm thrilled!) I'll be highlighting more on the young Burmese geeks, tech-heads, and agents of change in 2009. Besides, Burmese geek girls are really cute.

10. Julie Roads @writingroads
A fellow writer, Julie Roads brings fun and intrigue into writing. Being a writer is a lonely job and it pays to have friends like her. She's a freelancer based in Martha's Vineyard. (I wonder where she goes for vacations.) She recently Twitterfied her blog. She always brings interesting ideas into social media through writing. If you're a writer, you definitely should be reading her blog.

11. Joshua Denney @joshuadenny
Joshua is a designer who is also a web strategist. I believe that design and content is an integral part of any web strategy, and Joshua pulls this off really well. Plus he's a no nonsense guy, always there to try out new stuff and point to the coolest things around the web like Bringing Karma Back using the Internet. He's a catalyst for change and he puts himself out there. It's been fun following him on twitter.

12. David Cushman @davidcushman
I got to David via @mleis. I think I've seen his blog before but never really interacted until I started following him on Twitter. He writes about social media strategy and content, how it all ties together and how you should harness the power of your network. If you're a writer or an Internet marketer you should totally follow this guy. He brings news from the "edge".

Who are the twelve people you're looking forward to watching on Twitter or Blogs in 2009? Who provokes your thoughts and influences you? Write a comment or go blog about it. If you like lists like this check out Chris Brogan's pick on 8 Bloggers to watch in 2009.

Have a fabulous New Year!

Photo by: carrotcreative

Sunday, December 21, 2008

The Film That Started My Career

I've been on Twitter a lot lately and folks like @dailytwitter and @anandnataraj would ask me about the film I made when I was 16. So I think it's due that I wrote a post about it. My journey to this film was started by Rona, the then Assistant Principal of Manhattan International High (MIHS) School. We had a great school, it was part of the alternative school system in NYC. And you might've guessed, we call our teachers by their first names.

MIHS was established a year before I was in ninth grade, housed in the old Julia Richmond school. It was meant for kids who were in the US for less than four years, so it's a totally ESL (English as a Second Language) school. Being in that building itself was pretty school because there were small schools inside that huge building.

Being "alternative" meant that there were less stress on tests and more emphasis on other ways of learning. After I learned about something we had the choice of writing a research paper about the subject, or in my case, I wrote short stories. When we learned Shakespeare, we'd write essays about it, as well as perform to the class. I always borrowed the school camera for my class. I joined the theater club as well.

So when the call for the "Intensive Filmmaking Workshop" came, my name was listed. I was asked if I'd be interested to apply. Spend the summer learning how to make a film? Why not! I heard there were about 500 applicants, where only 5 were selected. We had to write an essay, then we were shortlisted, interviewed, and selected. Two students were selected from my school - Katia and myself. The other students came from other alternative high school like Educational Video Center (a vocational high school), High School for Performing Arts, and High School for Environmental Studies. I also did a morning program called "Word Up" which was headed by the superintendent's office. That was a great program too there were classes for the arts like acting, singing, visual arts etc.

The workshop taught us everything about how to make a film from scratch. We discussed film theory, history, and anything that had to do with producing our little short student film. One requirement of the program was that we had to make a film on Paul Robeson. We were like, who? We researched about him in addition to researching and learning about film. Needless to say, it was the best summers I had in New York. Sam, one of the students who produced the film was gracious enough to transfer the film online so here it is:

After I produced the film, I joined Globalvision, Inc. I'm using this space to add collections of my work. You can read my letter to the Village Voice here published that same year. It was a big deal back then because this is my first "published" piece of writing. ^_^

Friday, December 19, 2008

How to Get a Job Without Looking For It

Get a job without looking - Jobless photo by Khalilshah
News of the current unemployment rates in the US and job losses saddens me. Even in India the papers are saying that there's a slow down in hiring. As I look back at 2008, I realize that this is probably the tenth year of my working life, albeit three years in the middle, when I took a hiatus. I came to India, got myself a degree, and learned new skills. I worked on freelance projects and tested the waters of corporate India. All this time, I've never looked for a job. Not even for the freelance gigs. I did it because I had a great network of friends, colleagues, and a caravan of characters.

When I think about my luck at getting phone calls of jobs and projects from folks, I realized that it can't be just luck and friends. There has to be something more. And I'm not even including the HR consultants who call on this list because my resume is not registered with any job sites. However, I am on LinkedIn and Twitter -- which I suggest you get on too if you're not already there.

I'd like to share the 6 key things that I do that gets me offers for jobs without looking:

1. Don't be comfortable
I'm a person who is never really settled. I was born a nomad and that I will always be. Usually I'm not comfortable with doing just one thing. My "monkey" brain often wanders off. That's how I get great ideas, and keep myself creative and innovative. I'm always in search of "the next level." In order for you to grow as an individual and a professional. Ask yourself: "What's MY next level?" Be brutally honest with the answer. You might even have to change yourself, re-learn things, or pick up new skills. It's natural to be scared of change, but it's OK. And you're not alone in being scared of change here's a study on why change is so hard.

2. Know your shitz
When I started out in film, I only had the creative brain to write stories. I had no idea about filmmaking. When I became managing editor of a print magazine, I had no idea how to run a magazine. When I took over my current position, I had no clue about email marketing. (Catching my drift?)

For filmmaking, I was selected to be in a summer intensive course. We were taught about everything from the process of filmmaking to film theory. Then we shot the film. For being a managing editor, I read a lot of books, on writing, and on running a magazine. My boss was gracious enough to teach me Quark Express and give me pointers on how the printing press worked when he was free. I had to research all the stuff about what makes email marketing work. I'm so grateful that sites like ClickZ, MediaPost, and iMediaConnection exist. I would be lost without them.

My then boss gave me a general direction to work with the creative. We had great brain storming sessions on content, but that wasn't going to give me clicks. I had targets to meet, and fast. I evaluated the creative, hand coded and changed the back end HTML structure. (I was told not to touch it ^_^) Oh, and I threw away the software I was supposed to be working with. But yes, the targets were met and we set new ones. All my bosses were happy. I get to keep my job and I'm happy.

Go back to your paper: what will it take to achieve your goals? Do you need to train yourself more? Remember even doctors who are professionally trained need to keep up with the latest medical journals. Again, do you need to change something that you've always done? Just because it's always done that way doesn't mean you can't improve the process for better results. Know what you have to change, experiment, wait for results. Repeat.

3. Give advice or ideas freely
If you know it, act like it. You won't believe how many times people walk up to me and ask me for directions on random streets and bookstores. In fact, just this morning a family walked up to the most foreign looking person, me, and asked me if they were in the right metro station.

Once you get on Twitter, or any forums, groups you hang out you'll see topics and questions. When someone asks a question, respond to it if you have the answer. Chances are, he or she is not the only one who have the question in mind. For LinkedIn go to the Answer section. If you're going to be active I suggest you get the feed of your field of expertise on your feed reader
This is also how I get more people networking with me or following me. When you sound like an expert on something, you ARE an expert. You don't need to prove that with paper certificates and rubber stamps (which are very very very important in India and Myanmar.)

Word of warning: people should not be using you as a walking Google or Wikipedia (they call me "yu-kipedia" here.) There's a limit. That's when you politely say, "Type so and so on Google." or wear a tee shirt that says, "Just Google It" (no, I haven't done that! But if you want it you can get it here.)

4. Network like a diplomat, not a headless chicken.
Whatever I learned about networking today, I learned from my career diplomat parents. The diplomatic community in any city is always close knit. They know who the people are to network with, what country they represent, and what they do officially. Remembering this is very important, it determines precedence, protocol, and how you act with the person. My parents stayed connected with both people from their own country and other countries.

Here's how to apply that to the Internet: Go to Twitter Search and type in your industry, field or profession check out people's profile. Follow @MrTweet and get your report on who to follow. Decide whether it'll be good for you to follow or not and follow them.

Do the same on LinkedIn but remember it's a more professional space than Twitter. Best way to do it on LinkedIn is to look at the Answer section and add the people who have interesting answers to the questions. Of course this space is best for people whom you've actually met at trade shows, conferences, conventions etc.

Don't add people like a headless chicken, adding or following everyone you see. Leave that to the teenagers (or now not so "teen" folks) on MySpace. The number of followers or friends will just be a useless number if you can't harness the power of your network. Besides, twitter will kick you out if you're following insane amount of people, have very little updates and almost no followers. Chances are tweeple will see that you're a bot and block you.

5. Never burn bridges
This goes hand-in-hand with networking like a diplomat. You know what happens when diplomats stop talking? War. One of my mentors wrote that we should know people in high places as well as in low places. But that's very vertical or linear. Life's not like that anymore -- today's mail room clerk (do they still have them?) can be tomorrow's CEO of a fortune 500 company. Just because someone is your staff, colleague, or someone who is not related to your current job process doesn't mean they would not be at a place of influence -- chances are, they already have a sphere of influence.

People are more networked and well connected today than before. Your future employers will ask about you to their friends, clients, people they've worked with either formally or even informally in conversation. Your future colleagues will always ask to the people who have worked with you, "How is she to work with?" "What is he like?" This happens a lot in India, not just for an expat like me but people generally talk about people. (Of course, you get a special spotlight when you're an expat.) Your friend or classmate can become a client. The decision your future employer makes between you and the guy or gal next to you can be that one reference. (Yes, I've faced both scenarios.)

Now once you burn a bridge, their friends, friends of friends, connections, potential clients, potential job offers are gone too.

6. Keep in touch, be visible, and put yourself "out there" (for the right reasons)
I started carrying business cards in high school. I was a cocky school president who tried to pick fights with Rudy Crew, the Chancellor of NYC Board of Education. I advocated for the alternative school system, I was part of that system. Now, I've stopped carrying business cards. I tell people I meet to just google me. I'm narcissistic enough to get a kick out of it, but I'm saving trees.

Ask yourself: Can people google me? What will they find if they do? If you don't like what you see, you better bury that stuff with the good stuff you want them to find. A quick way to do this is to sign up for all the major professional social networks like LinkedIn, Plaxo, Naymz, Xing, join a niche social network of your industry on Ning, Facebook (though it's more 'social'.) Make sure your name is in the URL like: Remember, your name IS your brand. Protect it with your life. Manage your reputation online and offline. The next thing to do is to have a blog with your name on it. But you need to update that on a regular basis. Talk about the subjects that you know. Read this article for personal brand. Read this one on your online reputation management.

Thanks for reading this until the end (it came out longer than I thought) ^_^ Click here to get connected with me on LinkedIn or click here to follow my crazy thought process on Twitter. Thanks CC for the proof read!

Photo by: khalilshah

Friday, December 12, 2008

Marketing (Inbound) What You Oughta Know in a Music Vid

Hilarious. Gotta see this before you get into marketing or call centers...

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

World AIDS DAY: Remembering AIDS victims of Burma (Myanmar)

AIDS Ribbon by Sully Pixel
I lost two cousins back-to-back to AIDS a couple of years ago. One was a famous rock star in Myanmar (Burma) Ba Din -- most people of my generation would remember him. He's one of those rare musicians that actually composed his own music. Most music in Burma are just the western music in Burmese. (Try listening to "My Heart Will Go On" in Burmese it's horrible, though Eminem is not bad.) The other cousin was his brother -- one of the first generation Burmese programmers. Ko Ba Din, ("Ko" is a title of respect and love that the Burmese endow upon older brothers.) left behind a wife and a son. Ko Kwa's wife disappeared shortly after his death and many suspect her to be dead.

My (upper middle class, highly educated, world traveling) family still does not talk about their loss to "that disease". We talk about how crazy they were and what they did when they were drunk or delirious from "the illness". Ko Kwa was sent to the mad house where they keep "those who will not return". My dad picked him up and brought him home. He died after a couple of months of suffering. Of course I didn't witness all this, I was away on the other side of the world. It's only because of my mother, who wants me to know what goes on in the family that I know about this.

Incidentally, probably that same year, 2000, I had called my father to tell him that a report came out from the World Health Organization (WHO) that said that Myanmar had the highest HIV infection rate. Our health care system was ranked 190 when there's only 191 countries. Read the SF Chronicle article here. My father denied the facts, of course, as any good career diplomat would over the tapped phone lines. I understood something was up. And sure enough a couple of months down the line, my other cousin who was studying in Illinois emails me to tell me that Ko Kwa passed away from some sort of illness. I don't even know if he himself knew that it was AIDS related then.

Fast forward eight years to 2008 -- there's a ton of orphans in Myanmar right now because a lot of people from my cousins' generation are dead. Still to this day, nobody really knows how many Burmese are HIV-positive but the recent press release from UNAIDS estimates that about 240,000 people in Myanmar are infected. According to the Medecins Sans Frontiers (MSF or Doctors Without Borders) 76,000 Burmese are in urgent need to antiretroviral treatment or else they will die needlessly (Most likely producing more orphans). Apparently, Myanmar receives the lowest humanitarian aid -- USD $3.00 per person only. Probably the lowest in the region compared to her neighboring countries.

This is not surprising to me, I went to Myanmar right after the Cyclone Nargis. Literally, I landed right after the skies were cleared. I wasn't used to living without electricity or proper water, but my family and neighbors managed. My mom cooked me my favorite dishes, they found stuff even when prices where going through the roof. My aunt even got me some frog curry (Ya I have weird taste in food, I can be Anthony Bourdain's apprentice). My dad put me back on the plane as fast as he could. When I came back to India, I saw that Myanmar made New York Times headlines for a couple days. As I ask myself: why do we make headlines only when monks or students get shot or a major cyclone disaster hits? Then, I check another email from the New York Times, this is a sad one: Myanmar didn't make it on the "most emailed" articles list of that week. People were more concerned about the Emmy nominations.

So this World AIDS Day, are people really concerned about AIDS or are they more concerned about Cyber Mondays and Mobile Tuesdays? Are they concerned about who to invite to their Christmas party, or their jobs, Britney Spears's new documentary on MTV, or world peace? What are folks really worried about? If you're really concerned about AIDS and the dying children in Burma, you can go ahead and send some cash to Doctors Without Borders by clicking here.

Because if you really care, saving a life is only a couple of clicks away.

Photo by
Sully Pixel

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Twitter: the New Platform for "Citizen Journalism"

Twitter: Platform for Citizen Journalism

Citizen journalism has a very special place in my heart. I started my career roughly 10 years ago, right after I made my first film. That same summer and fall, I went to intern at Globalvision, Inc. My two bosses, Danny Schechter and Rory O'Connor became my first real- life mentors outside of school. I graduated high school early, but dropped out of college to roam around Independent Media Centers during the 2000 elections. It was the closest I came to the "joining the circus" experience.

There was a sense of revolution in the air because it was the first time independent media makers across the United States came together to produce their own live national television without the support of corporate media. They were veterans riding the wave of the IMF protests in Seattle. I was the new kid on the block, quiet literally. Folks who knew about the productions tuned into their local public access channels to watch the two live shows: Democracy Now with Amy Goodman and Crashing the Party with Laura Flanders. These were the days before YouTube.

I feel like the same revolution is happening right here, right now on the Internet. This revolution is called Twitter. It's been THE new platform to get a feel of trends and what's on people's minds. But today, folks on twitter kicked it up another notch with the Mumbai blasts. A lot of folks reported from the ground: @mumbaiattacks went up, @dina kept feeding us with info, @vinu posted his photos of the blasts, and THEN CNN International called him to comment. Even journalists had to tune in to twitter to get the news as @rotkapchen tweeted here.

We shared our concerns, our worries, our anger (I'm still pissed the Deepak Chopra's the only "Indian expert" mainstream media can find!) then people like Michael Leis and David Cushman went on to blog about the twitter experience. You can't get anymore real time than this -- the news happened, it was broadcast, digested, then commentary followed right away. Plus, this is happening at the speed of thought. THAT to me is a "revolution". How will this revolution evolve? We'll just have to wait and see, some are calling it "Web 3.0". More on that later...

Photo by Conform

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Social Media: Bridging Conversations

Ok, I was going to leave this as a comment on Jeff Pulver's blog post but it became really long as I was writing it so I'm doing it as a post. This is a 'response' post to his "Sometimes We Need to Do Things Alone" post.

When I had to venture into social network marketing I felt alone. Not that I didn't know what it was, I wasn't in charge before. The vision wasn't mine. This time around, I wanted to implement a social media strategy, something that is going to work across all platforms that one person can do -- I didn't have a team either. There was just me and my targets. I did blogs before, there were mentors like Brain Clark who writes Copyblogger and Darren Rowse who writes on ProBlogger. Then I had to get into email/newsletter marketing, where there were a lot of articles to read and a mentor in the office. Then, the person left and when I had to go into social media marketing I felt lost even though I was on the scene since it all started with (the now defunct) Bolt and Friendster.

I had to come up with my own experiments and see what worked and what didn't. I had to come up with ways to measure the experiments. I felt like I was doing a science fair project which excited me but I also felt like a train that kept going without the tracks. Then I read Michael Leis's blog post on the future of social media -- something that I was already doing for a year or so now. I really didn't have a word for it except, "guerilla marketing". He called it "screenwriting". His post hit home so close that I had to connect with him on Twitter immediately! I asked him how many people he thinks that does this sort of marketing. His reply was, none. I was surprised of course. We "Direct Messaged" back and forth until the point when he asked me, "It's all experimenting. No?"

The light bulb in my head went off: "AHA!" It was when I realized I was actually at the edge, at the forefront like the rest of the social media gurus and marketers out there. It's hard to realize that when you're geographically isolated, all the way in India. Most people I talk to don't know what Twitter is or don't care. Some can't migrate to Facebook from Orkut, the social network run by Google. I got my bearings right after our brief DMing and the picture became clear: the Internet has an ever expanding edge, today it's social networks, tomorrow it might be evolving into something else -- "a mash" if you will. That drive for evolution I feel is the adrenaline that keeps the cogs in all of us turning. That's what glues me to the Internet and my computers everyday. That's why I can still be sitting in India and talk about the same stuff, the same popular subjects out west like the election, economy, environment, etc.

I wasn't able to do this when I moved from New York half way round the world to Calcutta almost six years ago. Life sucked then, movies would not be here for months after they released in New York. I hated it. I spent my formative years in New York, I loved being "in-the-know", I hung out in the Village, I did artsy-trendy stuff. I made films, assisted on documentaries, spoke at conferences and screenings, listened to spoken word and underground music...

All of a sudden, when I landed in India, I found myself not being able to join in on conversations with my friends -- I felt left out and really isolated. On top of that, we had dial up -- the "Internet" was still making its way through terrible phone lines of Calcutta. This city was KNOWN for its bad phone lines!

A lot of things have changed since then. I don't feel so isolated now. In fact, I think Twitter makes us all on one page, albeit, I'm a couple of hours ahead. ^_^! But thanks to the boom in social networks and social media, I'm back in touch with friends even from high school. Some of them are diplomat brats like me who are scattered across the world. Most of them are still in New York. Some of them are professors. My algebra teacher is a professor at Harvard (how cool is that!)

It seems like I'm the only one who made it out to India, but I'm not complaining anymore, I realized that I'm not missing the action. In fact, the action might be here in the coming months and years. So I got the front row seats. I just happened to be lucky that it's part of my job to be on Facebook, MySpace, Orkut, Bebo, Twitter, et cetera... of course it's also a good excuse to keep in touch with friends. As someone who grew up in the 80s, someone who loves making connections, and most importantly, as a writer, I don't think I'd rather do anything else right now... except for a project I'm working on for Myanmar or Burma (I don't belong to either camp) but that's another story for another day.