Author Archive

Edward R Murrow, Hurricane Bill, and the iPhone.

August 23rd, 2009, by Peter Hirshberg | located in Conversations | Comments off | trackback

Edward R Murrow was describing the London Blitz and the fierce resistance of the British people as Hurricane Bill attacked me not once, but twice yesterday. Amidst steely grey skies and giant sea swells in Brigehampton, the waves ultimately engulfed my iPod shuffle, sunglasses and me in a first surprise attack as I was running. Seconds later and 1.5 miles away the waves washed up on the entire beach where my friends were, claiming beach towels, Conde Nast magazines whose only possible purpose in life is Hamptons beach reading, and my brand new iPhone 3G . The iPod Shuffle hung on through Bob Edwards' audiobook description of Murrow on the courage of pensioners and flower ladies during the blitz. And while telling the story of brave resistance of 1941, the shuffle finally gave way, its valor not lost on me.

And then, silence. I was without communication and humbled. But also awed by the power of nature who was merely playing around and not serious at all. (The hurricane, after all, was 500 miles to the east...)

Minutes later, I see it. Amazingly, improbably buried in the sand-- one wet, sandy iPhone. And remarkably, still displaying incoming texts though otherwise going haywire (Intermittent RF electronics, warnings flashing constantly.) And sand in every orifice preventing any connections at all. I won't go into the ensuing unpleasantness.

Yet now, 22 hours and a big bottle of compressed CO2 air blast cleaner later, the iPhone and iPod recover. Completely, it seems. I'm left wondering: did they really just survive an encounter with a sandy, briny Atlantic? Or is this just borrowed time, and a good time to schedule an appointment at the Genius Bar? Either way, I'm impressed!

Comcast and Me: a Twitter tale, in seven (little) acts

July 8th, 2009, by Peter Hirshberg | located in Conversations | No comments yet | trackback

      Comcast has achieved renown for how they respond to customer service problems on Twitter.  An interesting social media case study, until it happened to me. 

    9:45 AM. Internet and phone crash, just before a big client call. I'm a Comcast triple play customer. I got no data, only TV. Fortunately a colleague has a draft of the prezo so I'm able to call in changes from my iPhone and she sends it off before the meeting.


    10:00 AM. Service is back. We start the call.  


    Over-the-next-hour AM Comcast service craps out twice more. Good thing for cell phones. They make everyone (including ISPs) think "land lines, who cares?"


    11:00 AM I call Comcast to complain, asking elegantly "WTF?" Comcast informs me, "We can get to it in 48 hours. If you were a business customer, we could do it sooner. But you're not."  Worse, until they send the repair guy out to investigate, they can't have their network people look into whether there is a problem in my neighborhood. 


    My response? "NOOOOOOOO." (Cue SFX: guy throwing a fit)  "That's a terrible way to run a carrier. Even the phone company of yore was more on the ball." The customer service rep assures me TINMWCD (There Is Nothing More We Can Do. Why does Jarvis get all the nice acronyms?)


    And then it dawns on me:  I am An Empowered Consumer. In the Post Mass Media World. In the wake of the Jarvis Playbook I don't need to threaten to throw a stink, I already stink! I've got 1,132 Twitter followers . So I wonder, if I Tweet, will anything come of it?


    What follows is tweets,  with commentary in red. 


    1. Peter Hirshberg
      hirshbergComcastFAIL: "Since ur a 'residential' subscriber, Comcast can't fix your internet/phone service for 48 hours." I feel so 2nd class!

      1. ComcastBonnie@hirshberg we fix folks based upon the available quota alloted to the techs in your area. not based on type of customer
      2. Yikes That was fast! Less than a minute. And it wasn't automated, Bonnie was talking to me! But what she said didn't square at all with what Comcast told me on the phone.

      1. Peter Hirshberg
        hirshberg@ComcastBonnieThanks,but the comcast rep specifically told me, "if you were a business customer, we could get to you faster. But ur not."
       

  1. Peter Hirshberg
    hirshberg@ComcastBonnie As distressing as the service problem is, i appreciate your rapid attention to my tweet!
  2. I'm torn between their virtual attentiveness and their inattentiveness. I'm just delighted. And unhappy. 
    1. ComcastBonnie@hirshberg most areas have SLA's in contracts with business accounts, that's why.
      1. Holy contradiction, phone man! How can you "not distinguish based on type of customer" and simultaneously serve "business accounts" better because they contract for good service? That's what I'm talking about. I'm feeling distinctly steerage about being a residential customer. Even AT&T didn't say this to me before I threw them out last year!



      2. Peter Hirshberg
        hirshberg@ComcastBonnie So u do base service on customer type. Residential = no SLA = much slower repair time than AT&T or other LECs
          1. ComcastBonnie@hirshberg o_O my parent's had verizon, who took three weeks to fix a no dialtone issue on their phone. it happens everywhere. manpower etc.
        1. So in the space of a few tweets we've gone from the lofty possibility of customer service in the era of transparency to "Dude, don't you know, phone service can suck. Just call my mom. Help in today's world...."

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    3. My takeaways: 
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    5. 1. Its just amazing you can complain and they are on it so fast! 
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    7. 2. Comcast is in a world of hurt about what kind of service they guarantee mere residential customers. Beyond the "we can fix it in 48 hours," silliness there is the fact that residential customers can use only so much high speed data, or else. Or that if you actually transfer data for more than 15 minutes continuously at the maximum speed you signed up for, they'll put you in the slow lane  
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    9. 3. I heart transparency.  Tell me what service level I do or don't get as a residential customer. When you tell me that triple play is such a deal, let me know that you are the cheap carrier with less service unless I'm a business customer. Tell me what I gotta pay for you not to cap my speed or throughput. 
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    11. 4. Of course we do have more transparency than before. When i was a kid in New York in the '70s both phone lines went out one day and mom had a fit! She looked at me, then outside (at manhattan, mind you)  and yelled, "We've lost communication with the outside world!" Back then she had no one to complain to but me and the wall. I was sent down the street to call New York Telephone from a pay phone and then hope they'd show up.  Which may explain why mom, in addition to using the phone more than anyone I know, is so damn curious about twitter. 
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Aspen Ideas Festival: Tweetup & Tweetorial 7:45 AM Friday

July 2nd, 2009, by Peter Hirshberg | located in Conversations | Comments off | trackback

On Monday we set a goal of 140 people using the Aspen Ideas Festival Tag #aif09. We put out the word, threw a tweetorial, published our how to tweet guide... and wondered what would happen.

#aif09 It worked: We've blew through 269 unique people using our #aif09 tag (for detail, chick on the chart to the left), and as of now there have been over 1500 tweets.

Crains Chicago Business took note, tweeting, "Wonky Ideas Festival gets sexy with Twitter." And wrote this article.

Today Lews Black recorded this urgent message to Ideas Festival  tweeters:



You can follow tweets in real time here via twazzup, and tweets by speaker here in a great page built for us by Adam Hertz at Tweebase.

Friday Morning I'll be giving the tweetorial talk again at 7:45 AM in the Greenwald Pavillion. Festival Attendees, please come! (Best comment on the  first talk was from Gawker's Nick Denton, who in his best British Tabloid sensibility told me, "I came by to make fun of the Tweetorial, but you actually explained Twitter better than the Twitter guys.")

Friday's  tweetorial is part tutorial and part tweetup. So #aif09 tweeters, please come! I'll spend the first part of the talk on why this unlikeliest of mediums works and run through some great use cases for our audience. I'll also look at how twitter has been been used here in Aspen, and then go through how-to's . Finally, we'll break into groups where the twitter activated (which probably means you, if this link reached you) can help teach the rest how it all works.

The last tweetorial was standing room only... I was amazed by how many people (many my mom's age) came out, learned, and tweeted.

Here's text of the message we've shared with Ideas Festival Attendees just a couple days ago:

The Aspen 140

Engaging the World in 140 Characters at a time



The Aspen Ideas Festival gathers leaders to do the best thing you can do with ideas: share them. In years past all the action was on campus, aided by media (and bloggers) who reported on what was said. This year we're adding a new dimension: extending our reach by tapping the community of speakers and attendees to participate in open conversation about the ideas that are generated and shared here. We call this the Open Ideas Project, and the people who will make it happen at The Aspen 140.



How does it work? The Aspen Ideas Festival is teaming up with The Conversation Group to recruit at least 140 attendees to participate in reporting the Festival using a number of social media tools, and linking and distributing the content via Twitter. The guide on the other side of this handout tells how. The Ideas Festival will present a Friday morning "tweetorial" with Peter Hirshberg on the hows and whys of Twitter. We'll be aggregating all of the content originating from the Ideas Festival and posting daily a recap (a twecap?) of the best.



Our request: join twitter and share your Ideas Festival experience. Recruit your friends and speakers. Amp up the conversation! More than ever tools exist to weave the Aspen Institute Community into a global conversation. And that's something each of us can do!

Following & tweeting the Aspen Ideas Festival on Twitter

June 30th, 2009, by Peter Hirshberg | located in Conversations | Comments off | trackback

Remember, if you tweet, be sure to use our hashtag: #aif09

A friend in aspen asked me, "How can my friends who aren't in Aspen follow the ideas festival? 

Joan, here are three great ways!

1. Click here for Twitter search results on Aspen Ideas Festival

2. Check here for twazzup's page that gives results that update in real time & related media

3. Tweebase built this great page that lets you follow tweets writtnen about each speaker. What are folks saying about Eric Schmit's talk? Or Andrew Sullivan's Remarks

And here are three ways to tweet other from mobile devices:

1. For blackberry download twitterberry for blackberry



2. For iPhone,  Twitter works directly from your browser

or, purchase Tweetie from the iphone store ($2.99)



3. You can tweet from any cellphones that can send texts. You  tell twitter your phone number and then send tweets as text messages. Click here for how

The Aspen 140: Engaging the world 140 characters at a time

June 29th, 2009, by Peter Hirshberg | located in Conversations | Comments off | trackback

I'm at the Aspen Ideas Festival working with the Aspen Institute and our Conversation Group team on a project to get great swaths of Ideas Festival attendees and speakers to tweet the festival and thus share the conversation broadly. The Festival hits many broad topics--- Media, Environment, Health Care, Science, International Relations--- of interest to many on line communities, and thus a real opportunity make this event more open and globally engaging than it has been before.

On Tuesday at 4:00 PM I'll be giving a Tweetorial with Jeff Jarvis to share the hows and whys of Twitter. Whats great about the Aspen community is they've all heard about Twtitter, see how its changing politics, news, brands, conferences... so there is a lot of interest in learning how to do it. And getting such a smart, connected group online really furthers the purpose of the Ideas Festival. We're also telling everyone to use our hashtag: #aif09

Here's the message we're sharing with Festival Attendees:

AI_Twitter_5halfx8half

The Aspen 140

Engaging the World 140 Characters at a Time

The Aspen Ideas Festivals gathers leaders to do the best thing you can do with ideas: share them.  In years past all the action was on campus, aided by media (and bloggers) who reported on what was said. This year we're adding a new dimension: extending our reach by tapping the community of speakers and attendees to participate in open conversation about the ideas that are generated and shared here. We call this the Open Ideas Project, and the people who will make it happen are The Aspen 140.

How does it work?  The Aspen Ideas Festival is teaming up with The Conversation Group to recruit at least 140 attendees to participate in reporting the Festival using any number of social media tools, and linking and distributing the content via Twitter. The  attached "how to tweet the conference" guide tells how.  The Ideas Festival will present a Tuesday afternoon "tweetorial" with Peter Hirshberg and Jeff Jarvis on the hows and whys of Twitter.  We'll be aggregating all of the content originating from the Ideas Festival and posting daily a recap (a tweecap") of the best .

Our request: join Twitter and share your experience of the Ideas Festival. Recruit your friends and speakers. Amp up the conversation.  More than ever tools exist to  weave the Aspen Institute Community into a global conversation. And that’s something each of us can do.

We also wrote a brief "how to tweet guide" which itself looks like a bunch of tweets. Download Aspen Ideas Festival Twitter
Download the pdf , above. Its fun. For those who are bandwidth challenged , the text of the how to guide is below:

The Aspen 12-Step Great Ideas Program

Sharing the Ideas Festival With The World

In 140 Characters or Less Using Twitter

1. Admit there is a higher power: sign up for a free Twitter account: www.twitter.com

2. Tweets are (very) short messages: 140 characters or less.

3. Always include #AIF09 in your tweet. That's our unique Ideas Festival tag

4. Tweet from your laptop, Blackberry, iPhone ... or any phone that can text

5. Full how-to instructions at www.www.aifestival.org/HowToTweet

6. A good format: idea, speaker, where you are. As in an idea from a session:

Now listening to @hirshberg at the Aspen Ideas Tweetorial. What a riot. #aif09

(a quote, the speaker, the conference)

7. Tweet the essence of a session. Memorable quotes. Big ideas

8. Tweet what moves you. What makes sense. What's bunk

9. Tweet the sessions you're going to

10. Tweet ideas from your conversations

11. If you blog or upload video, be sure to tweet the link

12. Learn more at the TWEETorial 4:00PM Tuesday, Mcnulty Room, Doerr-Hosier Center

Why all this? Newsies, bloggers, people who follow ideas will see all these thoughts coming from Aspen. They will take note. This will make the Ideas Festival more open, more accessible, and more connected to more people.