A return to my old Kentucky home

I'm heading to Louisville this week.  Usually I wouldn't comment publicly about client interactions, but these are a bit different.  And just as I've taken your input and shared at PRWeek's Next ConferenceSXSW and Web 2.0 Expo, I'll share any comments here with the people I meet.

First and foremost, I'm in town to participate in Yum! Brands' annual global public affairs meeting.  I'll be sharing thoughts on social business, but the coolest part of the agenda is a time for the company to volunteer at a local food bank as part of the From Hunger To Hope initiative.  Actions speak louder than words.  (Side note, one of my favorite inventions ever is the double decker taco.)

I'm also visiting with Humana as part of an enterprise social media chamber of commerce meeting.  It's a living example of an enterprise acting as a social business - in the healthcare industry, nonetheless.  If you haven't heard of what Humana is doing, read a summary of the first meeting and follow along on Twitter with the hashtag #hcoc on Thursday at 3 pm Eastern.

Thursday evening, we've planned a tweetup at the 21c Museum Hotel from 6 – 8 pm (those are their penguins at right).  It's a chance to meet likeminds in social media and a lot of non-geeks as well.  I've reached out to old high school friends since it's been about two decades since I've lived in town…should be fun.  If you're in Louisville, I hope to see you this week!

Concept: Twitter #taxishare

I travel pretty frequently.  If you do too, this might sound familiar.  Whenever I fly somewhere, the first thing I'll do upon landing is turn on my phone's radio to send/receive SMS and check email.  I'll usually scan Google Reader and/or Twitter while waiting to deplane.  Then I'll make my way straight to the taxi line to get a ride into town.

Sometimes, I know the wait will be ridiculous – like in Las Vegas or New York.  Other times, it's pretty quick, like in Austin.  But there's one aspect of the experience that bugs me consistently – solo travelers like me, taking taxis to the same general location.  Sure, I could walk up and down the line asking if anyone's going where I am – but in most places, that just doesn't seem culturally acceptable.  Kind of like saying hello to everyone in the elevator of a Midtown highrise.  Why?  Because there's no real need to engage with complete strangers that will soon leave your proximity.  Plus, you don't know what these people are all about.

Enter social technology.  The nature of participation lends itself to people willingly publishing personal profile information.  So you can get a sense of whether someone's sketchy or not without having the training of a FBI interrogator.

Here's the concept:  Do you think we could get a taxi sharing movement started using Twitter?

Two great reasons – better for your travel budget and better for the environment.  When I search for something similar, it appears that point solutions exist for cities like New York.  But to make something like this work, you need networks with critical mass – so it's easier to activate the native network with its million+ accounts and hundreds of thousands of active users.  Witness ideas like #followfriday or #songsaturday.

Here's how it could work.  Your plane lands.  You turn on your phone and take care of essential communications.  You search for #taxishare and see if anyone's nearby.  Or you tweet your own details, e.g. location, destination, time you're willing to wait until for responses (all times local), and the hashtag.  Like this:
  • LGA. W Times Square. 9 pm. #taxishare
  • BOS.  Harvard campus.  10:30 pm. #taxishare   

Anyone who's relevant can ping you back with an @ message.  You'd just have to run the search 2 or 3 times as you make your way to queue.

By using Twitter, users can check profile information before deciding to respond.  E.g. if you're only willing to share with other solo female travelers, you've got some ability to filter.  Naturally there are many ways to modify the message string to help.

I could see this being particularly useful next week as SXSW begins.  A lot of people are visiting Austin bound for destinations concentrated in the downtown area; many people are also on Twitter.

What do you think – could this work?  What are other benefits/drawbacks?  Would you be willing to try it out?

UPDATE:  If this sounds interesting to you, check out this resource developed by @sergiobayona. Nice.

Advice on family-friendly Belgium?

I'll be in Belgium soon for a week on vacation (mostly).  If you've been there – or live there – what advice would you give on interesting things to do for a family?

We'll be based in Brussels; Bruges and Antwerp are likely day trips.

To give you an idea of things that have gone over well on past family trips:
Unique sites, casual but different dining, museums – what most trips focus on, right?

Since my first trip to Asia in the early 80's, the world has gotten "smaller" for everyone.  I see two primary factors: efficient global product distribution and digital content/connectivity.  People used to load up their luggage with Smarties in London or Coors in Colorado before returning home. I remember going over to neighbor's houses to watch vacation slide shows.  Not anymore.  You can get durian at the local Asian grocery or visit Red Square from your desktop.

So what's to be experienced in Belgium that remains unique, worth being there in person?

Thanks for your advice!

UPDATE: Had a great trip! If you're interested, you can see the slideshow on Flickr.

A ninety second business trip

Carlos Whittaker is one of the earliest people on my social graph.  I was inspired by a video on his blog last week called My Day In 90 Seconds.

Earlier this week, I applied the concept to a business trip.  Video embedded below.

[Click here if you can't see the video.]
Here's what's happening:

Sunday:  Left the house at 4:30 am, unseasonably warm 62 degrees.  Time check from the BBC World Service.  Up the parking ramp, past the 9/11 Memorial.  Checking in with Delta.  Fly to Atlanta, big plane.  Connecting to Austin, little plane.  Welcome to Texas!  Driving on Congress Street, Traffic by Ben Cyllus on radio.  Lunch at Whole Foods world headquarters.  Drop bags at hotel and go get hair cut at Birds.  Dinner at Freebirds and caught Obama on 60 Minutes.

Monday:  Breakfast at Austin Java, then over to the office.  View from the 22nd floor balcony.

Tuesday:  Jet to JFK.  VH1 classic.  Arrive in the new T5.  Cab it to the W.

Wednesday:  Cross street to the Waldorf=Astoria and up to PR Week panel.  Taxi to Marine Air Terminal and Delta Shuttle – exit, aft.  Back to car, sit in rush hour, and return home again, 7:00 pm and 30 degrees.

I learned how to use iMovie on the ATL-AUS flight and pieced this together in about 30 minutes.  Filmed all of the segments using a loaned Nokia N95.  You can see the first day standalone in 90 seconds, too.

If you get similarly inspired, let me know!

Whereabouts 11/13-22

Some things I'll be doing over the next couple of weeks, in case you're interested in meeting up.

– Thursday, 11/13:  SNCR Tweetup at Vox Populi in Boston (Back Bay), 7 pm
– Monday, 11/17:  Meet Aaron Strout Tweetup at Guero's in Austin (South Congress), 7:35 pm

– Wednesday, 11/19:  PR Week Next Conference at the Waldorf=Astoria in New York, 8 am

I posted earlier about the panel I'll be moderating and appreciate your thoughts on three key questions for the future of PR.  Which may also win you a free pass to the conference.  Be sure to read the comments – there's a lot of great thinking in there.

– Saturday, 11/22:  MIT Futures of Entertainment 3 in Cambridge, 3:30 pm.

I'm very excited to be participating on a panel moderated by Sam Ford of MIT's C3/Peppercom, where we'll discuss "At the Intersection of the Academy and the Industry."  My fellow panelists are Amanda Lotz, University of Michigan; John Caldwell, UCLA; and Grant McCracken, MIT.  I am clearly from the industry side of the fence here.

BTW I absolutely borrowed this post's title from David Churbuck, who is a very good writer.  In the same "very good writer" vein, if Ann Handley has a title I can borrow sometime, I will…