We’re standing on a platform in Saitama, about to board the train that will take us south, under central Tokyo and out the the other sude to our home. We’ve spent the weekend with *Twinkle’s* family. Not only dies that mean good company, but also good food and liberal use of an aircon.
Much of my time there was spent working, when I wasn’t being distracted by the TV, which just served to reinforce my conviction that we should never get a TV.
With these two social media events coming up this week, I’m having an interesting conversation with myself re. Who I Am when it comes to social media. I dislike much of what I see in the social media marketing industry, and am wary of being pulled into that world.
For me, social media use is a very personal thing (as I think it needs to be to be effective), and I don’t want to sacrifice integrity for the sake of the potential profit I could generate by being an ‘expert’.
Having said that, I do enjoy sharing what I know and helping others – and public speaking too. I need to find that middle ground, where I can share my passions, but in a sustainable manner – and with integrity. We’ll see how it pans out.
The last 3 weeks *Twinkle’ and I have been working 16 hours a day 7 days a week. *Twinkle* is now manager of Total Football, where I’m also employed part time; i’m carrying out a complete overhaul of IT within the company, and streamlining offline systems. In addition to that I’m doing some creative / marketing work.
Oh, and we managed a number of coaching sessions in Tokyo and Osaka with coaches flown in from FC Barcelona (pictured). The Osaka trip was pretty crazy, feet didn’t touch the ground, but a great success. Photos on Flickr.
Next up we have a book coming out in 3 weeks, and desperately need a new website for that.
The other half of my time is bring spent on www.21foundation.com. I’ve customised the Facebook page, re-transcribed our film, 21:21, got it set up for translation on dotSUB, and then rebuilt the website in wordpress (it was drupal – well, still is as wordpress yet to go live). That’s been a challenge.
Will be ramping up the marketing campaign once the site is up.
Was interviewed by a writer for J-Select magazine about running, although my injured foot is still preventing me from running…
Next week is looking busy. In addition to the above I’m giving a presentation at the American Chambers of Commerce, and another one at a new regular social media meetup event. Doing some filming on Thursday and Saturday, a party on Friday, a running meetup on Sunday.
I’m being very protective of my time, but even so, it’s tricky to not do too much.
I would say though that these are very exciting times. Having ownership of these projects, knowing that these are good causes, and being able to work with *Twinkle*, makes it all very rewarding.
Oh, I forgot – i have a website to translate this weekend too!
One of the projects I’m fortunate to be a part of is 21Foundation, an educational organisation established to help bring about widespread adoption of 21st century teaching / learning techniques.
My role there is to help create an presence for the foundation on the social networks, and as a part of this I’ve spent the last couple of days learning more about how you can customise your Facebook fan page. Having a custom landing page really helps you stand out from the crowd, and allows you to get your message across quickly and clearly, rather than having it lost amongst a bunch of wall posts.
Although I’d never touched FBML before (Facebook’s own flavour of HTML), I was surprised by how close to HTML it was (at least at a basic level) – and it didn’t take long to create a new landing page for 21 Foundation.
Having seen me do this, I was asked to create a simple guide that could be shared with others who also wanted to do the same. Much of the information I took from www.hyperarts.com – they have an excellent series of online tutorials.
Ironically, just hours after I finished putting the guide together Facebook changed how fan pages look if you’re logged in and ‘like’ a page – they added the default sidebar and shrunk the main content section by about 25% (down to 520px). (I’ve since updated the guide to reflect those changes).
There’s a lot more to customising your Facebook presence than what’s in this guide – this is just the first steps you can take, and doesn’t cover app creation etc.
Looking back at the past month of entries on my blog, I see that I’ve completed neglected to talk about how things have panned out since I left White Rabbit Press at the end of June. The reason for that is simple – I’ve been extremely busy with new projects, and have not really not had any downtime.
I’d like to start off then with a brief summary of what I’ve been up to since my last proper check in.
To start off, we had the Mount Fuji climb.
I documented the entire adventure though tweets, audio recordings and videos on the various social channels, so I won’t go into detail here. But in brief: this went really well. The weather was perfect, being warm and with relatively clear skies. I picked up the brand-new 10-seater minivan early in the morning, luckily remembered how to drive (after a 2-year break), picked up the other 9 team members, and headed out on the two hour trip to the 5th station of the Yoshida Guchi trail.
. It was around lunch time when we finally got our feet on the ground and started the long trek up.
Last year, we’d climbed at night time, and in appalling weather conditions, making for a pretty bad experience. This time, thanks to the fact that it was a day climb and that the weather was good, it was an entirely different story. It was an absolute breeze to reach the 8th station where we’d then spend the night – I could hardly believe it was the same mountain, it was that easy.
The staff at the 8th station were pretty surprised by all the technology that we were carrying: iPhone, Cerevo live-streaming camera, iPad, 17″ MacBook Pro, DoCoMo wifi dongle, Canon HD camera and live-stream USB converter, multiple batteries, solar panel charging kit…!
I used all of this technology to tweet, livestream (via Ustream), upload photos, audio and videos as we climbed. Of course, at the end of the day the quality of the output was to a certain extent limited by the speed of the data connection (and lets admit it, whilst it’s pretty reliable it’s not exactly fast up there!)
Reflecting on the livestream aspect of the adventure, I don’t see it as being all that successful. I made a poor decision to not broadcast constantly, and I also neglected to involve the audience to the extent that I should have done. It was very much a one-way thing, and lacked the ‘challenge’ aspect. Also, there was the time problem- we were to reach the summit at 3.30am! Still, to be honest, I don’t mind all that much. It was a learning experience.
I’m very grateful to have had the support of NTT DocCoMo and Cerevo.
Having slept for a few hours at the fantastic mountain hut we got up at about 2am, and made it to the top for the beautiful sunrise.
We also recorded a very special music video on the rim of the crater – more on that in due course…
The Japan Times published a story online and in print about ustream and my use of it on the morning of our descent.
This climb of Mt. Fuji is something that I won’t forget – thinking about it now brings a smile to my face. The reason for this is not necessarily the beautiful view, the fun that I had with the technology, the good weather or the tasty curry at mountain station 8, it’s the people that I went with. It’s the interactions with them, the sharing of the challenge, the friendships that grew stronger through the experience – these are the things that ultimately matter.
It’s the same with the next mini-project I was a part of: the official Twitter Tweetup held on July 23rd.
With Twitter’s crazy success in Japan, the demand for tickets far exceeded the supply – only 400 would be able to attend. As with most things round here it was a case of knowing the right people. For me, that person was @mikamika59, an employee of Digital Garage, the company that runs Twitter here in Japan.
I first got to know her following the Tokyo Marathon – she sent some very kind messages during the run. We subsequently met by chance on a bridge in Roppongi, and then went on to work together at TEDxTokyo – she was my co-host for the Ustream live stream.
Thus, when it came to the Tweetup she asked if fellow tech-otaku and good friend Steve would manage their official stream of the event.
I happily accepted, and on the night worked with montomos as a presenter. Part of the deal was that I got to interview Twitter CEO Evan Williams.
Really enjoyed that – apart from the first 5 minutes in which I died on camera. I mean, it was really bad. I’m trying not to think about that. Luckily it wasn’t recorded, and only about 80 people were watching the stream at the time.
The following day it was off to @invisibleGaijin‘s to shoot a couple of short videos for a friend – his daughter wanted to enter a ukulele video competition.
Unfortunately on the way home from the shoot I twisted my ankle, and subsequently was unable to walk for a couple of days – this was a big shame as the following day was our 2nd Wedding Anniversary 🙁 Still, despite my being an invalid we had a nice time staying at a hotel in Asakusa – got a free upgrade to the best room in the hotel after I discovered and complained about a toothbrush in the bathroom that had already been used!
A week later I was on the 36th floor of a certain Japanese corporation, the name of which I cannot reveal here for reasons of rabbit security. There I was dressed in my bunny ears giving a presentation about the Tokyo marathon. It went down very well, despite my pretty bad Japanese and the fact that my keynote file completely disappeared off my computer an hour before I was due to give it. Bizarre.
All of the above has no real connection with my work, although I’m sure some of it will come to influence what I do in the future.
When it comes to work, things have panned out pretty well. I’m working freelance as a digital media producer / consultant. I have two clients at present, one a friend who has established an international education foundation (more on that in due course), and the other, my brother-in-law’s company, Total Football. Leigh (my wife’s sister’s husband), a professional football coach with 20 year’s experience, established the company in 2007 to run coaching sessions across Japan in collaboration with Nike Japan. We have ties with international level teams such as Manchester United – this coming weekend we’re running a couple of coaching sessions with coaches from FC Barcelona. Leigh himself is becoming known as the face of youth football in Japan for Nike. He’s currently in Holland having been invited by the Dutch FA to attend their elite training programme.
The company is now looking to take itself to the next level: *Twinkle*, with her experience over the past few years in many areas of business, is now in charge of everyday operations and expansion. I’m working with them to help develop a new marketing strategy. There’s huge potential here, and our job is to see that it’s realised.
The amount of work involved in both of these projects at present is such that I’m working pretty much 7 days a week. Still, the fact that I have the freedom to choose where and when I work is a huge bonus. I feel I have a degree of ownership with both projects, and this motivates me to push for big successes. I’m also learning a hell of a lot in the process of carrying them out.
Our affiliation with Nike is motivating me to think more seriously about sport – running in particular. I’ve been fortunate to be able to meet the head of marketing for Nike Running, and hearing how active he is in the sport himself (multiple marathons etc) inspires me to push myself to get back into it. I’m actually really missing running – my foot has not yet fully recovered from the accident I had just before our wedding anniversary. Last weekend I bought new running shoes, an armband for my iPhone, oh, and I finally figured out how to use the Nike+ app on the iPhone (the key is to buy the Nike+ widget thing to put in your shoe – the one I had before that I thought was broken was actually just a piece of filler-foam!)
This kind of leads into thoughts regarding my long term plans. Thoughts that are influenced by videos such as this one:
Hello. I'm Joseph, a Tokyo-based Digital Media Producer, also known as a runner with an experimental tech streak, a photographer and media consultant.
This site documents my personal journey through life.
To learn more about me and my adventures in tech please visit my main site at http://josephta.me