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Will the iPhone blend? September 21, 2008

Posted by Arun Rajagopal in Conversations, Digital, Social Media.
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1 comment so far

The most visited post on this blog is the one I wrote on the iPhone. The iPhone is undoubtedly one of the most  buzzed about gadgets of our times. While the official release of iPhone in Oman seems to be far, far away, there’s news that Qatar will be the first country in the Middle East to get it (Egypt and Jordan are in line as well). The release in Qatar is supposed to be this month; probably Vodafone, the Qatari iPhone service provider is waiting for Eid to get on with the launch. However, unlocked phones are available in plenty on the black market in the Middle East.

So if the iPhone creates so much buzz, what about iSmoke? I came to know about Blendtec’s imaginative series of “Will It Blend?” viral videos from “Groundswell”, the now iconic book on social media written by Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff of Forrester Research. The Blendtec videos are a huge success in viral consumer marketing and this one is one of their biggest hits. Discover what happens when the iPhone blends!


So, what is Facebook? September 16, 2008

Posted by Arun Rajagopal in Conversations, Digital, Social Media.
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Facebook T-shirt, originally uploaded by BeFitt.

Is it a social networking website or a social utility?
Facebook says it’s the latter and not the former.

The recent controversy over the Facebook application PackRat had a company spokesperson say in an email to a deleted user that “FB accounts are meant to reflect mainly “real-world” contacts rather than mainly “internet-only” contacts”. (Let your Facebook friend list decide what side of this policy you are on). The mail went on to say that Facebook’s mission is to help reinforce pre-existing social connections, not build large groups of new ones.

In a response to Michael Arrington, Facebook later played down its earlier statement and clarified its stand by saying that it encouraged users to maintain single accounts only for authentic usage and expected users to add people that reflects their real-world connections and create trusted networks, and not indulge in unsolicited contact.

I’m totally against unsolicited contact on FB, and using it just to accumulate a mass of “friends”, just for the sake of collecting them. But what really makes me wonder is Facebook’s smart play of words between “social networking website” and “social utility”. How is a social networking website distinct from a social utility? Doesn’t the utility of Facebook lie in the networking capabilities it offers?

May be Facebook really doesn’t get it that for a lot of users it is a social networking website that is a utility by helping them connect with friends, acquaintances and strangers in both real and virtual worlds, with different engagement and involvement levels.

It’s kind of dumb to call the elephant a hippo just because it likes to wallow a lot in the mud pond, right?

Are you “That Guy or That Gal”? June 4, 2008

Posted by Arun Rajagopal in Conversations, Digital, Social Media.

This is inspired by Greg Verdino’s post: The “you test” for social media agencies.

Greg delves on “that guy and that gal” – those who are social media mavens in every right. Those who walk the talk and talk the walk.

In his words, the real experts are those who have “a true passion for social media and have made it a personal mission to ‘live’ in the space and experience new social channels as a consumer first, marketer second”.

He also gives a 5 point “You Test” to separate the wheat from the chaff.

I’d define the mavens as those people who are not only using social media tools such as blogs, Twitter and podcasts in their own work and building brands through conversational marketing, but are also building knowledge communities, espousing social causes and in general advancing the “age of conversation”.

So who are “those guys & those gals?”

Here’s a little fun project to identify them. I’m creating a Mavens Directory which will identify leading social media gurus and their organizations, along with a link to their blogs.

You can join in the fun by nominating your recommended “those guys & those gals” and I’ll put them up in this page. To do so, by either writing a comment on this post or naming them on this editable wiki http://socialmediamavens.wikispaces.com/

The idea is what I’d call the aggregator effect. If I know 5 mavens and you 10 more, let’s put our heads together and see how far and wide we can go.

Eventually, I see this page as a one-stop resource for any social media enthusiast or marketing blogger who wants to connect, network and identify with “those guys & gals” who are rolling with the social media juggernaut.

Have fun now! Feel free to nominate your mavens on this post or on this wiki. Watch out for updates as the list grows. For starters, I’m listing few mavens who commented on Greg’s post.

Update 1
: Wow! The list is slowly but steadily growing. Thank you folks for tuning into the conversation. While there will be quite a few people out there using social media tools at work and helping communities grow, it’s Peer to Peer recognition / nomination that will help us identify the true mavens. Interestingly, people have used social media tools such as LinkedIn and Facebook to let me know about mavens and to connect with me after I put up this post. Hey, the list is not done yet, I know a lot of mavens who need to be there – just waiting to here from you first. Greg Verdino (who sparked off the whole “who is the maven?” thingy has written a post on my wiki endeavor. Thanks Greg!

THE SOCIAL MEDIA MAVENS (name & organization)

  1. Greg Verdino – Crayon
  2. Jon Burg – Digitas
  3. John Carson – GCI Canada
  4. Jane Quigley – Zeta Interactive
  5. Geoff Livingston – Livingston Communications
  6. Lewis Green – L&G Business Solutions
  7. Mack Collier – The Viral Garden
  8. Jennifer Laycock – Search Engine Guide
  9. Doug Meacham – IBM
  10. Jeremiah Owyang – Forrester Research
  11. Robert Scoble – FastCompany TV
  12. Jason Alba – JibberJobber
  13. Guy Kawasaki – Garage Technology Ventures
  14. Darren Rowse – ProBlogger
  15. Chris Brogan – CrossTech Media
  16. Jason Falls – Doe-Anderson
  17. Cam Beck – ClickHere
  18. Tom Clifford – Moving Pictures
  19. Terry Starbucker – SOBcon
  20. Steve Woodruff – Impactiviti LLC
  21. Shama Hyder – After The Launch
  22. Michael Seaton – Thornley Fallis

Welcome to AOC 2.0 May 25, 2008

Posted by Arun Rajagopal in Conversations, Digital, Social Media.
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Happy Sunflower!!, originally uploaded by Melissa_A.

The 2nd edition of The Age of Conversation is in the works. Editors Drew McLellan and Gavin Heaton are once again spearheading this path-breaking project.

The benefits are aplenty. More conversations. New perspectives. An innate understanding of conversational marketing and social media. Publishing opportunities. More value for readers. Community building. Networking. Supporting charity.

This year, AOC is bigger and better, in terms of authors and content. 275 bloggers from around the world, mostly with media and marketing backgrounds, are writing a 1-page chapter on the theme “Why Don’t People Get It?“.

To lend greater depth to book, the theme has been divided into the following sub-topics:

  • Manifestos
  • Keeping Secrets in the Age of Conversation
  • Moving from Conversation to Action
  • The Accidental Marketer
  • A New Brand of Creative
  • My Marketing Tragedy
  • Business Model Evolution
  • Life in the Conversation Lane

My chapter “The Smart Beast in the Creative Jungle” focuses on the new brand of creative required in the age of conversation.

“The Age of Conversation: Why People Don’t Get It?” will be on sale on Lulu.com from 21 August. All proceeds sales go to Variety, the children’s charity.

Meanwhile, fellow authors are promoting the book in various ways. Blogger-pal Ryan Barrett is offering a sneak preview of 1-line snippets from various chapters here.

Meet my fellow authors:
Adam Crowe, Adrian Ho, Aki Spicer, Alex Henault, Amy Jussel, Andrew Odom, Andy Nulman, Andy Sernovitz, Andy Whitlock, Angela Maiers, Ann Handley, Anna Farmery, Armando Alves, Asi Sharabi, Becky Carroll, Becky McCray, Bernie Scheffler, Bill Gammell, Bob Carlton, Bob LeDrew, Brad Shorr, Bradley Spitzer, Brandon Murphy, Branislav Peric, Brent Dixon, Brett Macfarlane, Brian Reich, C.C. Chapman, Cam Beck, Casper Willer, Cathleen Rittereiser, Cathryn Hrudicka, Cedric Giorgi, Charles Sipe, Chris Kieff, Chris Cree, Chris Wilson, Christina Kerley (CK), C.B. Whittemore, Clay Parker Jones, Chris Brown, Colin McKay, Connie Bensen, Connie Reece, Cord Silverstein, Corentin Monot, Craig Wilson, Daniel Honigman, Dan Goldstein, Dan Schawbel, Dana VanDen Heuvel, Dan Sitter, Daria Radota Rasmussen, Darren Herman, Darryl Patterson, Dave Davison, Dave Origano, David Armano, David Bausola, David Berkowitz, David Brazeal, David Koopmans, David Meerman Scott, David Petherick, David Reich, David Weinfeld, David Zinger, Deanna Gernert, Deborah Brown, Dennis Price, Derrick Kwa, Dino Demopoulos, Doug Haslam, Doug Meacham, Doug Mitchell, Douglas Hanna, Douglas Karr, Drew McLellan, Duane Brown, Dustin Jacobsen, Dylan Viner, Ed Brenegar, Ed Cotton, Efrain Mendicuti, Ellen Weber, Emily Reed, Eric Peterson, Eric Nehrlich, Ernie Mosteller, Faris Yakob, Fernanda Romano, Francis Anderson, G. Kofi Annan, Gareth Kay, Gary Cohen, Gaurav Mishra, Gavin Heaton, Geert Desager, George Jenkins, G.L. Hoffman, Gianandrea Facchini, Gordon Whitehead, Graham Hill, Greg Verdino, Gretel Going & Kathryn Fleming, Hillel Cooperman, Hugh Weber, J. Erik Potter, J.C. Hutchins, James Gordon-Macintosh, Jamey Shiels, Jasmin Tragas, Jason Oke, Jay Ehret, Jeanne Dininni, Jeff De Cagna, Jeff Gwynne, Jeff Noble, Jeff Wallace, Jennifer Warwick, Jenny Meade, Jeremy Fuksa, Jeremy Heilpern, Jeremy Middleton, Jeroen Verkroost, Jessica Hagy, Joanna Young, Joe Pulizzi, Joe Talbott, John Herrington, John Jantsch, John Moore, John Rosen, John Todor, Jon Burg, Jon Swanson, Jonathan Trenn, Jordan Behan, Julie Fleischer, Justin Flowers, Justin Foster, Karl Turley, Kate Trgovac, Katie Chatfield, Katie Konrath, Kenny Lauer, Keri Willenborg, Kevin Jessop, Kris Hoet, Krishna De, Kristin Gorski, Laura Fitton, Laurence Helene Borei, Lewis Green, Lois Kelly, Lori Magno, Louise Barnes-Johnston, Louise Mangan, Louise Manning, Luc Debaisieux, Marcus Brown, Mario Vellandi, Mark Blair, Mark Earls, Mark Goren, Mark Hancock, Mark Lewis, Mark McGuinness, Mark McSpadden, Matt Dickman, Matt J. McDonald, Matt Moore, Michael Hawkins, Michael Karnjanaprakorn, Michelle Lamar, Mike Arauz, Mike McAllen, Mike Sansone, Mitch Joel, Monica Wright, Nathan Gilliatt, Nathan Snell, Neil Perkin, Nettie Hartsock, Nick Rice, Oleksandr Skorokhod, Ozgur Alaz, Paul Chaney, Paul Hebert, Paul Isakson, Paul Marobella, Paul McEnany, Paul Tedesco, Paul Williams, Pet Campbell, Pete Deutschman, Peter Corbett, Phil Gerbyshak, Phil Lewis, Phil Soden, Piet Wulleman, Rachel Steiner, Sreeraj Menon, Reginald Adkins, Richard Huntington, Rishi Desai, Beeker Northam, Rob Mortimer, Robert Hruzek, Roberta Rosenberg, Robyn McMaster, Roger von Oech, Rohit Bhargava, Ron Shevlin, Ryan Barrett, Ryan Karpeles, Ryan Rasmussen, Sam Huleatt, Sandy Renshaw, Scott Goodson, Scott Monty, Scott Townsend, Scott White, Sean Howard, Sean Scott, Seni Thomas, Seth Gaffney, Shama Hyder, Sheila Scarborough, Sheryl Steadman, Simon Payn, Sonia Simone, Spike Jones, Stanley Johnson, Stephen Collins, Stephen Cribbett, Stephen Landau, Stephen Smith, Steve Bannister, Steve Hardy, Steve Portigal, Steve Roesler, Steven Verbruggen, Steve Woodruff, Sue Edworthy, Susan Bird, Susan Gunelius, Susan Heywood, Tammy Lenski, Terrell Meek, Thomas Clifford, Thomas Knoll, Tiffany Kenyon, Tim Brunelle, Tim Buesing, Tim Connor, Tim Jackson, Tim Longhurst, Tim Mannveille, Tim Tyler, Timothy Johnson, Tinu Abayomi-Paul, Toby Bloomberg, Todd Andrlik, Troy Rutter, Troy Worman, Uwe Hook, Valeria Maltoni, Vandana Ahuja, Vanessa DiMauro, Veronique Rabuteau, Wayne Buckhanan, William Azaroff, Yves Van Landeghem

Join us in the Age of Conversation 2.0.

Think Different, Today May 20, 2008

Posted by Arun Rajagopal in Advertising, Conversations, Digital.
Tags: , , ,

Here’s to the crazy ones.
The misfits.
The rebels.
The troublemakers.
The round pegs in the square holes.
The ones who see things differently.
They’re not fond of rules.
And they have no respect for the status quo.
You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them.
About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them.
Because they change things.
They push the human race forward.
And while some may see them as the crazy ones,
We see genius.
Because the people who are crazy enough to think
they can change the world,
Are the ones who do.

Great Blogosphere Finds-1 May 13, 2008

Posted by Arun Rajagopal in Advertising, Conversations, Digital, Social Media, Travel.
Tags: , , , , ,
1 comment so far
Candles, originally uploaded by [ changó ].

Noah Brier’s Brandtags is a very interesting project (hat tip to Tangerine Toad) that not only lets you tell the world what you think of a brand but also learn what others tag the brand as (quite useful if you are in advertising).

It’s one of those addictive fun apps to power your day, like FreeRice. I said “OK” to UPS, “Understanding” to Toyota (understanding in two planes – understanding the community – Toyota has strong CSR initiatives in Oman & understanding the consumer – Toyota globally innovates and brings out different vehicles targeted at different audiences) and “Uhm awesome” to JetBlue (the uhm coming in after reading a Yahoo! Story on a JetBlue passenger forced to ride in an airline loo).

My suggestions to Noah: Can we have region-specific Brandtags? For example, I’d like to know what consumers think of regional airlines in the Middle East… The IPL cricket teams in India and so on. And may be, a lot of merchandise on the concept of brand tags? Also, I think a cool-tool on the home page which tells you what brands are featured… that one needs to be nimble & smart as the no. of brands will keep exponentially growing in time.

David Armano talks about ‘microinteractions and direct engagement in 2.0 world while Harker Research tells us that microinteractions are best captured by radio.

Every second spent in viewing Apple’s PC & Mac ads is a thoroughly interesting experience. These ads are so creative, funny & entertaining that it’s hard to pick a favourite – but I’ll go for “Pep Rally“. Click here to view all 30 plus of them.

Mack Collier discusses the evolution of social media tools & technologies from 2005 to the future. He says that soc media apps that facilitate connections leading to relationships will be successful.

Bloggers on the Power 150 blog-ranking index tell us what technology marketers should be paying most attention to in 2008. Video, micro-blogging and search marketing get the biggest shout-outs.

Launching Your Startup – PR and Social Media Strategies. A very informative podcast series featuring Neil Vineberg, Matt Dickman, CK, Jyri Engeström and Adam Metz.

JetBlue’s been creating a little buzz on the Web with Happy Jetting. Tangerine Toad suggested a few ways they could improve their web experience. I flew them in April and found their service, in-flight entertainment and even their ads appealing. Today, Yahoo had a story in its home-page that kind of undoes all the great work.

In the wake of the recent Dove Real Beauty ad retouching controversy, Ad Age’s Jonah Bloom talks about how Dove & Ogilvy have a long way to go to be recognized as true WOM proponents.

Dubai cabbie shows the world that honesty is still the best policy.

Astronaut Dr. Scott Parazynski says how risks and success go hand in hand.

Is it time for me to consider Sauvignon Blanc over Chardonnay?

Again, an interesting NYT read on the fascinating mind of a wine drinker.

Yummy clip of Mr. Beanbastic

Is it time to phase out the creative function? Joseph Jaffe believes that the “traditional specialist” is out and “the creative generalist” is in. A great brief for those looking for a kick in the pants in ad biz.

Interesting findings from ArabianBusiness.com Travel Survey 2008

  • Gulf residents are among world’s most traveled – 4 out of 5 travel to at least 2 countries in a year
  • Saudi Arabian residents are the Gulf’s most frequent global travelers, 4.65% of visit 21 or more countries in a year; Omanis most likely to travel to between two and five countries
  • Saudis spend the most on travel
  • Kuwaitis spend most on their vacations
  • Emirates is the most preferred airline
  • Culture, sightseeing and comfort for the family are the most important facets of a vacation for Gulf travelers
  • People in Qatar take the longest holidays UAE-ites vacation for the shortest period
  • Almost three quarters of frequent flyers are unwilling to pay extra for airlines using greener fuels
  • Business travellers are key to airline profitability

    My Media Diet: Arun Rajagopal May 8, 2008

    Posted by Arun Rajagopal in Advertising, Conversations, Digital, Movies, Social Media, Travel.
    Blogger buddy Ryan Barrett tagged me in this interesting meme called: What’s your media diet? Her interesting post made me think deeper about my own media consumption and how I want to improve my media diet. After all the kind of media you consume, defines what kind of person you are, right?

    Print: I’m fond of two dailies – Times of Oman & Times of India, though I’m not a regular reader. Reading Times of Oman is something that I want to do first thing when I get to work. I especially dig catching copy mistakes in TOI.

    Magazines: I’m a voracious reader of magazines. I especially dig Time, Ahlan Masala, Esquire and National Geographic. I last read British Airways’ in-flight magazine “High Life“. I’m very fond of in-flight magazines and used to collect them as a kid. Next on my reading list comes “Forbes 2008 Guide to the Biggest Companies in the World” & “America’s Largest Corporations Fortune 500”.

    Books: I used to be a compulsive bookworm when I was a kid, but I’ve been reading less lately. It’s an appalling habit I’m working on and the first step towards that is building a mini-library at home. I last read Deepak Chopra’s Buddha and John Grisham’s The Summons. I’m currently reading Rohit Bhargava’s Personality Not Included and John Grisham’s The King of Torts.

    Online: I read the following news portals on a daily basis: Indiatimes.com & Rediff.com. Both websites keep me connected to current affairs in India. Cricinfo.com feeds me fodder on cricket. Wikipedia.org gives me much needed dope on topics I pluck out from thin air. I browse daily through Arabianbusiness.com with a particular focus on the aviation & travel industry. If you didn’t know, I’m a total transportation buff with interests in trains, planes and buses. I’m also a regular visitor to the picture galleries of IRFCA.org (slakes my passion for Indian Railways).

    Blogging: My personal blog www.arunrajagopal.com is where I talk about my travels, rail-fanning adventures, my 2-cents on advertising and social media and the many things I find interesting in life. I don’t consider my blog as an expert authority on marketing. The most important purpose of my blog is to help me stay connected to some of my very dear friends who are leading marketing bloggers around the world. Through my blog, I reach out to them and become a part of their lives. My blogging frequency is usually 4-5 blog posts per month. A few weeks ago, I started another blog on Tumblr that serves as my bookmarking diary. I usually read blogs related to advertising, digital and social media such as Adgoodness, Adsoftheworld, Adblogarabia, Adverblog, and the ones on my blogroll. I check out all my incoming links via my Technorati page and WordPress dashboard.
    Some blogs & websites I want to spend more time on are Micro Persuasion, The Buzz Bin, The 360 Digital Influence Blog, Logic+Emotion, Copyblogger, Marketing Profs Daily Fix, Bannerblog, Digital Media Wire & MediaPost Publications.

    Email: Email is probably the important part of my media mix. I love to check my email every 5 minutes (ideally) when I’m in front of a comp. If I’m on the go, I check my mail on my Nokia N73 music edition using my Oman Mobile Hayyak prepaid connection. My email is my lifeline! I’m a compulsive yahooligan and somehow don’t feel so attached to Gmail or Hotmail.

    Television: I’m not too fond of TV and prefer spending as much time away from the box as possible. I dig MTV, Channel V, VH-1, cricket channels, popular channels in Tamil & Malayalam.

    Web 2.0 Logos, originally uploaded by wp4lib.

    Social Media Tools: I’m active on Facebook and LinkedIn. I don’t believe in needlessly adding people to hike up numbers, and I ensure that I only have people in there who I need to be in touch with. I dig most of the Facebook applications such as the quizzes (I try most of them and then weed them out occasionally) and feel that the new Chat feature offers an exciting way to connect with people. My Facebook account is a more personal window for me to reach out to my friends; while my blog is the world’s informal window to my life.

    I’ve given up on Orkut, even though I have quite a bit of friends there who are not on Facebook. I haven’t yet started podcasting. I do vlogging, especially of my travels. I’m very active on Flickr with a large collection of travel photos, trains and destinations. Nope, I don’t do Second Life or Skype (it’s blocked in Oman). I’m on YouTube, Daily Motion, Vodpod and Vimeo, and I‘m just setting up my second del.icio.us account.

    Chat: MSN Chat is an inseparable part of my life, especially with its online text messaging tool. I used to be a total Yahoo Messenger junkie back in the days.

    Cinema: I’m a prolific cinemagoer, sometimes watching the same movie twice or thrice in the theatre. I spend most of my weekends hopping from one theatre to the other. (We have 5 cineplexes in Muscat). I watch movies in English, Hindi, Tamil & Malayalam. I last saw The Forbidden Kingdom (click on link to watch trailer) and The Bucket List (click on link to watch trailer). I’m currently watching There Will Be Blood (click on link to watch trailer). I occasionally rent movies on DVD and watch them on a laptop when I’m traveling. I especially like movies that make me cry. 😉

    Twitter: Twitter is the latest addition / addiction in my media mix. Not only does it serve as a link feed for interesting blog posts and news resources posted by people with like-minded interests, it also helps me keep track of what my friends across the globe are up to. My mission is to maintain building my Twitter list as an authority base of thought leaders passionate about advertising, social media and global perspectives; and to continue updating my KQ.

    Music: A very important part of my existence. I’m usually listening to music while I’m at work, at home or on the commute. I need music to play in the background for me to get going. At work, I plug into my headphones hooked up to my PC, while at home I choose to go with the home theatre system, laptop or the box speakers plugged into the iPod. I have an iPod Touch, an iPod Shuffle & a Nokia N73 music edition loaded with my fav tunes. I listen to English, Hindi, Malayalam, Tamil and Telugu music. For some reason, I love songs more than the artists. I have never used iTunes store till date, and visit a lot of blogs and music streaming websites to get my music.

    Miscellaneous media consumption: I don’t use a feed reader. I subscribe to blogs such as The Viral Garden, ChrisG.com through email. I get updates on Jakob Nielsen’s Alertbox, Bowen Craggs Web Tips and a Google Alert on “Arun Rajagopal” in my email. I subscribe via mail to Ad Age Daily, Ad Age Digital, Creativity Online, BestAdsOnTV and MarketingProfs Today. I do not keep a diary, though I rely heavily on handwritten lists to get through my daily grind. I particularly keep an eye out for outdoor media, POS, in store experiences and billboards. I love Times Square for the same reason & I totally adore the M&Ms (click on link to watch video) board out there. I like the HSBC perspective posters they have in the air-bridges at London Heathrow. I love interesting messages that are placed in the most obvious places.

    What’s your media diet? I’d love to hear from Tim Brunelle, Linda Sherman, Cam Beck & Ryan Karpeles. Do spread the meme far & wide.

    Bloggerspiel on Media Diets & Media Snacking:

    Connie Reece – Got the Munchies? Have a Media Snack

    Drew McLellan – Serve a steady stream of snack-sized messages

    Neil Perkin – Memes Like Buses

    Asi Sharabi – My Week in Media

    C.B. Whittemore – My Media Diet

    David Reich – My Media Diet

    Quibblo Personality Quiz – What is your media consumption level?

    Interesting Conversations from Blogger Social’08-7 April 25, 2008

    Posted by Arun Rajagopal in Conversations, Digital, Social Media.
    Tags: ,

    CK GREETS ARUN, originally uploaded by ck.epiphany.

    This is the final post in my series of posts celebrating Blogger Social’08. In this post, I want to talk about 3 special people who mean the world to me and who I got to meet for the first time ever at the event.

    A lot of people who attended Blogger Social’08 have told us that the above photo of CK hugging me on meeting me for the first time is a visual treasure that best encapsulates the essence of the Blogger Social and something even bigger!

    How true! My friendship with CK is going to be a year old in a few weeks from now. It was her mother (God bless her soul!) that brought us together (a comment I made about departed souls watching over us as stars in the sky caught CK’s heart and marked the beginning of our friendship). A year later, when my mother passed away, CK was there as a rock of strength, reminding me of my own allusion that departed souls are with us, proudly watching over us as stars in the night sky, and hence not to lose hope.

    CK has been an angel for me, always offering kindly support, appreciation and encouragement. I can go on and on about how blessed her heart is and how she has been this role model I look up to. I’m sure there are countless people out there in the blogosphere who have been inspired by her and who consider her an angel like I do.

    For me, the greatest thing about her is her ability to inspire you to move mountains. For example, my trip to New York. It’s a trip that I thought I would never make. Initially, the trip wasn’t even on my radar because I thought: Hey, me going to New York??? Are you kidding me? How am I going to make it? What about the money, and then the visa?

    It took a simple nudge from her for me to realize you can’t get things unless you even wish for them. Once I made a decision to travel to the US in April, there came other unavoidable emergencies. The first few months of 2008 threw every possible challenge in the book at me – a new job, frequent travel to India, the passing away of my mother, lots of family pressures, financial constraints… so much, that several nights I lost sleep stressing if I could it make it in April.

    To make matters worse, there was some delay in processing my employment visa in Oman, and it took things to the wire. I couldn’t travel unless that was sorted out. Finally everything worked out in the last possible minute – I got my employment visa sorted out a day before my cut-off date to apply for a US visa to arrive in time for the event. I think I literally ran from the US Embassy to the airport to catch the flight to New York. CK was in the midst of all the madness I went through reassuring me that her prayers were with me and I would make it as we were meant to meet.

    The entire weekend, I remember telling her – CK, I still can’t believe I’m here, this feels like a dream. And she would be like: I understand. You will only feel that you were here once you get back home.

    The entire trip, the whole event and my meeting with CK – I consider it nothing short of a blessing & miracle. I think most of the time I was in shock – the joy of meeting all those people I really wanted to meet and then my disbelief in all that was happening around me. I sometimes wonder how I made it – and that’s when I know that the gentle nudges, prayers, faith and support a friend like CK gives you can move mountains for you and just get you going!

    Drew & CK, originally uploaded by ck.epiphany.

    Another person who I had the pleasure of meeting at Blogger Social was Drew McLellan. Drew, CK & their army of mighty elves moved a lot of mighty mountains to bring us an event that was so magnificent and magical.

    Drew’s and Gavin’s collaboration on the first edition of ‘The Age of Conversation’ introduced me to a community of bloggers who care and share. The book not only opened a lot of avenues for me in Oman, but also helped me make a lot of friends from around the world, most of whom I had the good fortune of meeting in New York.

    Sometimes the sign of greatness is that it creates a spillover effect of so much goodness that benefits people in many mysterious, yet positive ways. Drew’s leadership, both in directing the success of the book and the event, has benefited me, personally and professionally. It’s made me so much richer in soul and spirit, and I couldn’t be happier! Thank you, Drew, for everything you do to keep us stronger and closer as a community!

    Luc and Arun, originally uploaded by ck.epiphany.

    The last gem of this post is my good friend Luc Debaisiuex. Again, our friendship is going to be a year old. Meeting Luc at New York was one of the finest, most exciting experiences of my life. It’s hard to explain why and so – but Luc is someone I so look up to and consider him a friend, family, guide, mentor and so much more. We enjoyed some beautiful conversations that weekend. He’s somebody who is very encouraging and motivating and can bring a smile on your face with his very endearing nature. He’s somebody who transmits tremendous positive energy and goodwill through his conversations. Thank you Luc, for being there and I wish you the best in all your endeavours. It’s great to have you with us!

    Indeed, if life is a journey that leads to meeting fine people and unforgettable experiences, New York in the weekend of April 4-6, 2008 brought together some of the finest people and greatest experiences of my life, ever.

    Arun & CK, originally uploaded by Moda di Magno.

    Interesting Conversations from Blogger Social’08-6 April 24, 2008

    Posted by Arun Rajagopal in Conversations, Digital, Social Media.
    Tags: ,

    Anna Farmery and Heather Gorange, originally uploaded by marilynpratt.

    Till Blogger Social, Ryan Karpeles was a blogger I really looked up to. And after BS, he’s a friend I look up to. I’m an avid follower of his work, since this particular post, where he thanked his social media teachers and friends. Needless to say, I’m really in awe with a person who is so simple yet powerful with his thinking and expression. And is so unassuming at that.

    I said hello to Jennifer Laycock as we were all winding up BS. I did tell her that I love the “other blog”. She told me that it was a sentiment echoed by a lot of other people.

    Where is Neil Vineberg? Where is Neil Vineberg? I think I pestered CK enough till Neil made a grand entry at the dinner. It was great fun to finally meet him and say hello.

    I had a super-swell time with Anna Farmery & Heather Gorringe. OK, I’ll let you in on a lil’ Blogger Social secret – I’d been dying to meet up with Heather ever since I worked on her profile. So Blogger Social comes and Heather is there on all days, including the unofficial pre-event mixer at the Bookmarks Lounge, so I keep bumping into Heather everywhere and I think* it’s someone else and so I go about my way. So on dinner night, I sit at a table where Anna and Heather are seated and I tell Anna: Blogger Social is almost over and I haven’t yet got to meet Heather. And Heather just gives me a look that says, “Who the hell do you think this is?” and Anna just frowns and she is like – This is Heather Gorringe. And I go… Noooo! No wayyyy!!! (A big boo-boo moment!!!) And next thing that happens is Heather diving into her bag and fishing out a name tag with a victorious glee and I’m like: Holy Cowwww. And I was like so shocked, lost for words. And then we had like a great chat. (Even got to show the ladies a dance move – which I kind of think now as goofy. Lol.)

    *I know – that’s so very ‘smart’ of me.

    I really missed Marianne Richmond. She helped us out with creating that huge Blogger Social profiles packet and I was so looking forward to meeting her, especially after CK let me in on the fact that she has an amazing sense of humor. Hope to meet you soon, Marianne, Insha’allah (Arabic expression for God Willing!)

    Conversation Conductor Mike Sansone was another person I missed at the event. Hope to meet you soon Mike!

    Here are a couple of people I wished I could spend more time with at Blogger Social’08. I distinctly recollect saying hello to at least some of them, and connecting with them with at a deeper level is something I’m aiming for at the next Blogger Social. The least I can do now is say an online Hola right away to:

    Doug Meacham Paul McEnany Gene DeWitt Kris Hoet Seni Thomas Paul Dunay Chris Kieff Tara Anderson Roberta Rosenberg Saul Colt Mike Arauz Matthew Bailey John Rosen Cathleen Rittereiser Tamar Weinberg Rita Perea Matthew McDonald Kaitlyn Wilkins Jennifer Berk Jane Quigley John Wall Kevin Horne Virginia Miracle David Polinchock Terry Starbucker

    Conversations from Blogger Social’08 will continue… got 3 more people to talk about! Watch this space…

    Interesting Conversations from Blogger Social’08-5 April 24, 2008

    Posted by Arun Rajagopal in Conversations, Digital, Social Media.
    Tags: ,

    It was great meeting Steve Woodruff & Curious George. Steve’s a quiet person, but that doesn’t mean he is less affable. It was such a pleasure meeting a person who is so passionate about our community without being so vocal about it.

    Tangerine Toad & Tim Brunelle: TT and Tim are two icons I look up to when it comes to my work. So it was nice to hear a lot of interesting things about advertising, social media, work and life in general straight from the horses themselves. At the dinner, Tim was like c’mon boy; let’s go meet people out there and I tagged along. I like the man’s spirit, he knows how to have a ball and then get away with it. Real heroes, both of them.

    Kristin Gorski came, saw and conquered in the 1-minute we got to say hi. I find her a very prolific writer and I was so looking forward to meeting her. In real life, she’s simply more awesome.

    I had a good time chatting with CeCe Lee Salomon and her hubby Gregg at the Perfect Pint. They were the perfect couple that served as my ice-breaker to the event.

    Darryl Ohrt told us (Mark Goren & I) about the ‘scar’ over drinks. Darryl’s such a chilled-out dude.

    David Armano. Kick me somebody, oh, somebody just kick me. The whole wide blogosphere knows how David has gripped the bull called social media by its horns and is riding on its back. I feel like an opportunity lost that I missed out in saying hi to him, especially when he was all over the place with his cowboy hat. May be I felt so awed that I couldn’t walk up to him. I so admire his work and the way he is involved with social media. And if he’s reading this, he will know he’s got a fan in Oman.

    Hah! Tim McHale! The Man. I went so ga-ga over him the first time I met him, I think I almost embarrassed him. Why not, after all, he’s the guy who’s helped set up Tribal DDB. He shared with us a lot of his war stories, specially why DDB picked Tribal as its nom for the digital shop and how the interactive landscape was then back in the days. Quite the cat!

    Joe Kutchera has promised me to be my guide if I ever decide to move down to the States. He would know best, especially with his work that takes him outside the country. God bless his soul! Joe, it was so much fun meeting you and looking forward to the next time. (Now I know, what a ‘daily joe’ means!)

    I met Paul Soldera on the pier after the boat ride and we had a good time talking about our geographical background and favourite sport (cricket)!!! He was very excited about social media bringing people together from across the globe. Too bad he couldn’t spend much time with us.

    Todd Andrlik is a very mellow, gentle soul (and really tall, like Ryan wrote in her Blogger Social memoirs). He is fond of collecting antique, special edition newspapers and was kind enough to gift me a copy of one treasured, antique piece. And I learnt from him about this unique, hand written newspaper that is published from India. Todd was frequently mobbed by bloggers who wanted him to jumpstart their Power 150 rankings. I’d personally like to be on that chart some day, some where on the top! Todd captured a very interesting video where he asked Blogger Socialites what they liked the most about blogging. My response was: INTERESTING CONVERSATIONS.