Friday, May 30, 2008

Advice from Women Entrepreneurs [Women 2.0 & Stanford Women in Business - Sat 5/10/08]

Beyond the Spark: Entrepreneurship Redefined
Sponsored by Women 2.0 & Stanford Women in Business

Many other blogs which covered this conference, including the wonderful official Women 2.0 conference wrap-up.

See my May 10 microblog at FriendFeed for the other blogs.

My focus here is the advice & stories that the women presenters offered to the 95% female audience.

DRAFT (Part I): Fri 5/30/08 6 pm PDT

Shaherose Charania at Women 2.0 (LinkedIn, Facebook)

Will women see "world problems as opportunities"?

Julie Sarpong from The Prince's Trust - offering practical solutions to help change young lives - travelled from England.

"It's a pleasure to be at a function where men are in the minority."

10 am Fireside Chat: “The future of entrepreneurship: What is fueling the fire?”
Chris Shipley, co-founder of Guidewire Group in 2004 - Visit her blog or e-mail her at (LinkedIn Facebook)

"There are more women here than I've seen pass thru my office in all my years." (later amended to "for business purposes").

Chris liked the "business plans" prayer flags in the back of the room.

Rachel Payne, Senior Program Officer, Program Development (LinkedIn Facebook)

Rachel said it was intimidating in the beginning to work with Sergey Brin and Larry Page. Google is always concerned with the "big picture" and affecting 100+ million people. is the semi-charitable arm of Google (some profit, some non-profit), which has the advantage of being able to "lobby" as corporations can't. Might be both a funding organization and an operational organization.

They focus on 3 areas: (1) Climate Change (2) Global Public Health (3) Global Development, and have 5 core initiatives

How do you focus on supporting & accelerating entrepreneurs in the third world?

(A) In many countries, the best job is a government job. It's not like the US entrepreneurial environment.
(B) Why are there so few non-US female entrepreneurs (outside microfinance)? Rick is too high!

Chris Shipley added
(C) In some countries, the word "entrepreneur" = "scammer"

Micro-ventures? Earlier were called Micro-Equity. How do we provide Risk Capital to SMEs (Small & Medium Enterprises)?

Question: Kenya/Tanzania - How do you stimulate players in the SME space?
(A) Only 2% of SMEs ever get financed?
(B) Using mentors from Google is NOT scalable.

Ghana - Joseh Tacky sells meat foods. Most meat in Ghana is bought in the open air. 1st 'Believe It and Become' alumni spoke at TED.

Question: How can we demonstrate that the sector as a whole is viable?

Question: What is's biggest success so far?
Planet Read - learn to read by watch 'same-language subtitled' Bollywood songs. In one year, 200 million people in India are learning to read.

Not everyone is a good "social entrepreneur", but as Bill Drayton says "Everyone is a change=maker!"

11:10 am Offered audience members 6 $50 certificates to share their stories (we only heard from 3 people).

Next to come - pics & descriptions of the amazing 3 entrepreneurs from the audience.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Random Thoughts on Data Portability Complications [Technical Note]

This is kind-of off-topic for my blog, so if you're interested in business & spirituality, just skip this technical note.

I've linked to some of the major Data Portability Discussions & Articles at FriendFeed. See this Data Portability discussion started by Robert Scoble on FriendFeed

Ellen Petry Leanse's "MicroPost: Data Portability…what’s in it for me?" (@chep2m) asked me why I was worried about Data Portability? Could I provide details?

My quotes from Robert Scoble's discussion:

Open standards have some tough questions which are only semi-technical. (1) How do we handle people wanting different data in LinkedIn vs. Facebook? e.g. work e-mail in LinkedIn, personal e-mail in Facebook (2) Who actually owns a tag on a picture in Facebook? Who owns the wall post - the owner or the recipient, especially of a chain-post. (3) Who owns "scraped" data (ala ZoomInfo), and who has the rights to correct the data? I had to e-mail Spock to change some old data CONTROLLED by a defunct e-mail.

Data portability on social networks opens up OS issues (1) replication - e.g. loops, time-stamps with different clocks (2) failure-recovery & sabotage-recovery modes and decisions (3) control & authentication (4) telling apart "updates" versus "deliberate changes" - the desire to have different information in 2 places - versioning & forking (5) security, when the weakest link fails

I used to work in a Operating Systems laboratory. One of our topics was synchronization.

Let's say you have 3 accounts: MySpace, LinkedIn, Facebook...

(1) Some people keep different info deliberately.
e.g. one lady has full bio on LinkedIn, but very light personal stuff (no work details) on MySpace for dating
some of my friends have different e-malls
(a) LinkedIn is a networking address, and not their best one
(b) Facebook for bloggers often has no phone numbers, but for most people it's the only place they give out cell numbers

I've been watching the behaviors of ~500 friends on social networks for the past 10 months, and they vary a LOT.

Some use LinkedIn like a big Plaxo, others like a very trusted group of friends.
Most use Facebook as personal and give home address & cell phone, but some use it for business networking - no e-mail, no phone, just website

(2) Most people consider phone numbers more private than e-mails (DM, Twitter, etc...)
EXCEPT doctors. For liability reasons, they don't want patients sending them info via e-mail.

(3) But lets say you want all your MySpace, LinkedIn, Facebook info to be the same.
a) Your e-mail is "" on all
b) MySpace is updated to ""
c) MySpace goes down before transmitting info to others.
d) LinkedIn is updated to ""
e) MySpace comes back up.
f) What e-mail does Facebook import? Esp. if time clocks are messed up?

What happens if crashes, and is restored from an older backup, which has an older e-mail?
Will the "older e-mail" be perceived as an update?

There are so many scenarios! After 1-2 years of research, I gave up the "automatic conflict resolver" idea, and decided that "humans must be involved" (or that someone much smarter than me was needed to create a decision tree or Bayesian Network to automatically resolve conflicts". Best I think we can do is a 95% automatic resolver, which asks for human confirmation in tough cases (or ALL cases via Captcha)>

(4) "Single point of failure" - If someone hacks, the rest of my sites are relatively safe. What about the future? I was a hacker in the past. Everything is hackable. We hired a guy who broke into a lot of major corporations as "Head of Security" for one of our companies. Also, many friends have had servers physically stolen. The rash of stolen credit card data stories lately does NOT make me feel safer.

Some personal details on variant info.

(4) I have 6-10+ e-mail accounts. I give Facebook & LinkedIn almost all e-mail addresses, since I use them like "white pages",
for high school, college, work, and fun friends to find me.

(5) I'm a nomad. What do I use for location? People with 2-10+ homes/countries?

(6) What happens when "scraped data" starts fighting with "real data". scraped a page for me, which I was UNABLE to edit, since the e-mail address on that page had been defunct for 6 years. Took me 2 weeks to correct & recorrect the information (since a later bug caused it to resurface).

Friday, May 9, 2008

Sat 5/10/08 Women 2.0 conference at Stanford

9:00 am registration/breakfast
10:00 am welcome

Unlike any other conference...

"The Stanford Women in Business and Women 2.0 Conference dedicates 50% of the program to encourage interaction, round-table discussions, pitching and voting for the next big idea. This is a conference where everyone thrives by sharing what they know, and brings together thought leaders and emerging stars to collectively discuss the principles of entrepreneurship and technology. Together, we can address some of the world’s biggest problems and how to solve them with entrepreneurship!"

See FriendFeed Microblog for some conference comments and 236 photos (at Picasa & Facebook). Blog article to-be-coming.

"Personalized Newspapers for Organizations": From Facebook to FriendFeed to the future.

Imagine if your organization had a continuously-updated collection of "10-10,000 personal newspapers" about all your people.

What would be the management & communication possibilities?

DATE: Fri 7:26 AM PT

Facebook randomly picks actions/activities of your friends and creates daily NewsFeeds for others. It's a curiosity, but the randomness is not useful working on real-life projects. I found Facebook's NewsFeed more helpful when I had 10 friends, but with 200+ friends, aggh!

Facebook's Mini-Feed is a newspaper of all your actions (ones you choose to make public). More useful.

I can view someone's Facebook Mini-Feed and see what they've been doing for the past day or week. I can drill-down in a specific area (e.g. "Status stories", "Relationship stories", "Photo stories", etc...)

NOTE: For security, some of us "older types" on Facebook don't post anything to Mini-Feed. :-)

Paul Buchheit, Bret Taylor, Sanjeev Singh, Jim Norris, and their team of 7 people at FriendFeed have taken the Facebook NewsFeed/Mini-Feed to the next generation.

(Photo by Noah Berger from New York Times 10/1/07 article)

FriendFeed doesn't support all the working-group, political/control, and privacy features that a real-world organization might need for managing communication and projects, but it's an amazing step in the right direction.

Here are the possible "personalized newspapers" you can choose from in FriendFeed. I'll use my FriendFeed account as an example.
(1) My newspaper - My shared items (with comments & ratings from others)
(2) My discussion newspaper - Other people's items which I liked or commented on.
(3) Friends newspaper - Items from me and my friends (with comments & ratings) Note: I can't show this to people without a FriendFeed account.
(4) Public newspaper - Everyone's items (with comments & ratings)

But I can also see other people's newspapers.
Robert Scoble and Louis Gray are two insightful on-line technology journalists who write and

They seem to have their "ears to the ground" and their "fingers on the pulse" of social media technology.
(5) Robert Scoble's newspaper - Robert Scoble's shared items
(6) Robert Scoble's discussion newspaper - Other people's shared items which Robert Scoble liked or commented on.
(7) Louis Gray's newspaper - Louis Gray's shared items
(8) Louis Gray's discussion newspaper - Other people's shared items which Louis Gray liked or commented on.

Unlike the slowly-changing Facebook NewsFeed, all of these "personalized newspapers" continuously update anytime someone posts new items, adds new comments, or decides to "like" shared items.

*** Exciting management possibilities for communicating in small working groups, and across large organizations. ***
People have been trying to design collaboration technology or 20 years, and had marginal success. I think the "personalized newspaper" concept will become a key component of business communication in the next 5-10 years. Certain high-level executives already have employees who painstakingly create "personalized newspapers" for them each day. But it's been out of reach for small organizations and ordinary people.

It's a new look at the "information push-pull" debate.

When you are a manager, when do you
(A) "pull" information from a direct report (e.g. Go into their office, look around, and ask questions)

And when do you ask your direct report to
(B) "push" information to you (e.g. Deliver a status report to you every Friday 10 am)

Everyone has different management preferences, but the "personalized newspaper" allows much more flexibility than simply push-pull.
There's some possibilities to
(1) Declutter the E-mail Inbox (those pesky "cc:s" needed to keep everyone "in the loop")
(2) Waste less time generating status reports for weekly meetings
(3) Spend less time traveling to people's offices for "management reasons"

Imagine if we were to create a FriendFeed-like system which handled the complexity of people working on multiple projects with various groups, power and politics relationships, and real-world selective-information sharing.

If you like to manage very closely, you could subscribe to lots of people, all of their projects, and even people in other company divisions, etc.. You could read your "personal newspapers" and drill-down very often to see details.

If you have a more "hands-off" management style, you could subscribe to fewer people and only a few of the items in each project. You could drill-down very judiciously, and just observe until intervention feels warranted.

"Light-weight Communication" was a term I heard used by Professor BJ Fogg, who teaches Psychology of Facebook at Stanford.

Can we use communcations that are not as heavy-weight as e-mails, phone calls, weekly paper status reports? Hmmm....
I'm excited to see what happens next!

Here are two videos of Robert Scoble talking with the amazing FriendFeed team.

QIK Video from FriendFeed party (Thu 5/9/08 5:42 min)

Robert Scoble interviews Louis Gray, as he introduces the FriendFeed (Oct 2007) team of 7 people. Tudor Boseman (#7) joined last week. Sanjeev Singh, Jim Norris, Ana Yang, Kevin Fox.

Posting of this video at

QIK Video on FriendFeed: Conversation with Kevin Fox - Chief Designer (Thu 5/9/08, 10:29 min)

Robert Scoble interviews Kevin Fox (as Louis Gray describes 'designer extraordinaire and all-around nice guy')

Mini-Transcript of Robert Scoble's questions and Kevin Fox's answers at

And here's the FriendFeed discussion of this article. Mike Reynolds mentions "FriendFeed for the Enterprise" and the "fluidity" of FriendFeed. Hutch Carpenter talks about "activity streams" emerging as the real benefit of social networks.

- Mitchell Tsai (Harvard '86) - CEO, Spiritual Business Companions : FriendFeed, LinkedIn, Facebook

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

7 Ways to use LinkedIn for Business Professionals

I began using LinkedIn seriously in Nov 2007, so here's some personal tips from the past 5 months.

DRAFT: Tue 5/6/08 6:17 pm
Rushed because Cathryn Hrudicka has a meeting tomorrow where she's presenting.

*** (0) Sign up for LinkedIn & Connect to "Ron Bates", an "open networker" who accepts all invitations. ***
His 40,000+ 1st-level contacts will become your 2nd-level contacts.
His 1-3 million (?) 2nd-level contacts will become your 3rd-level contacts.

This allows you to try the features of LinkedIn more easily (without paying $240/yr to see everyone).

*** (1) LinkedIn has become my first choice for Creating Business Dossiers for negotiations & possible business contacts. ***
My choice of search engines when creating dossiers on people (in the order I use them) is:
(A) LinkedIn (20-25% of my college classmates are here - Harvard 1982-90)
(B) Pipl - Uses the "deep web" to research people (phone numbers,, birth/death records, marriage)
(C) Spock (beta) - Finds people's photos & extracts keywords from webpages to assemble a bio (ala Zoom Info)
(D) Google
(E) Viewzi (beta) - Multiple graphical views (uses many cool ideas from the last 20 years of Human-Computer Interface)
(F) Intellius - Addresses and telephone numbers

When creating 15 dossiers for one of my Dad's business negotiations, I was able to find 8/15 (over 50%) on LinkedIn.

*** (2) LinkedIn shines at differentiating between 5 possible "Jane Doe"s. ***
There are two major problems when finding people on the Internet. (A) Finding too many (B) Not finding the person you want.

LinkedIn really helps filter out the "wrong" people. Often just having a current company, current state, college, or old company helps immensely to narrow a search to the "right" person.

*** (3) LinkedIn helps you find mutual interests, schools, work places, companies, and charitable interests. ***

*** (4) LinkedIn helps you navigate a social path to a desired business contact. ***
This requires that you build a personal LinkedIn connections set first.
I'm often surprised at the way the world works. Looking at people's connections, a friend from MA and CA somehow met in GA.

*** (5) LinkedIn has helped me find 40-50 old college and high school friends, often very good business contacts after 20-30 years. I've also been able to locate some old work colleagues from Microsoft Research. ***

*** (6) Appearing in LinkedIn searches can result in unexpected cold calls, business offers, and interesting contacts. ***
When I first posted a LinkedIn profile, I appeared in 30-60 searches/day.

In the post-1990 world, where many HR people search resumes by keyword, it's helpful to have 2 resumes.

(A) Old easy-to-read 1-page version for CEOs
(B) New "curriculum vitae" 100+-page version with lots of keywords & people's names.

After adding tons more stuff to my LinkedIn resume, I now appear in 800-1,000 searches/day (300-500 on weekends).
And I'm getting about 1-3 intriguing connections/offers/e-mails/proposals per day.

*** (7) Periodically looking at new LinkedIn contacts of your friends can broaden your network slowly. ***
(A) Seeing people you know appear as someone else's connection
(B) Seeing an intriguing name or job title pop-up, you can read their bio.

Hope these 7 LinkedIn tips help your business career. :-)

- Mitchell Tsai (Harvard '86) - CEO, Spiritual Business Companions : FriendFeed, LinkedIn, Facebook

Finding Technology News: Is FriendFeed the new Google or Citeseer?

Over the past two weeks, I've found my behavior changing. This is a good thing!

DRAFT: Tue 10:30 AM PT Only have 15 min to write...

*** (1) FriendFeed (NOT Google) is where I'm now typing my searches when researching a technology article. ***

Before when I found an article intriguing, I would type the title of the article into Google. This would give me other people who had linked to the article, or were discussing the topic.

No more. FriendFeed is providing a window into the artistic process of insightful journalists (aka bloggers) and dedicated news junkies.

*** (2) How do I search now? ***

Say I have an article like "FriendFeed Tips: Do You Use All The Great Features of Friend Feed", and I want to find out more.

(A) Type article title into FriendFeed search box with "who: everyone".

- Look up & down the timeline.
- Who first brought this article into the FriendFeed community? What is their background? What sources do they use (e.g. what else might I be reading?)
- Which discussions seem the most interesting? Or most likely to become interesting? (e.g. saved by Robert Scoble or Louis Gray)

*** (3) Use "comment" or "like" to create a "personal newspaper" to revisit the conversation in 2-24+ hours. ***

I started doing this about 2 days before Robert Scoble's wonderful article on participation & discovery.

NOTE: Don't be too aggressive. There's a daily limit on "likes" of around 65-75 "likes"/day. I started hitting this at 160 "likes".

*** (4) Search the wider web. (A) Type title into Google (B) Type URL of article into Google ***

Gaurav Mishra makes an appeal for an application to unify the "fragmented conversations" of the Internet.

However, one can get stuck in the FriendFeed community. Find the wider conversation which is happening.

(A) Type the article title into Google.

(B) Type the URL of the article into Google.

NOTE: You may have to try variants of the URL (e.g.)

(C) Sometimes useful is typing the article titles/URLs of 2-4 interesting articles into Google at once.

Two major issues in refining searches (1) Too much (2) Too little

Friday, May 2, 2008

Are bi-directional friend links of Facebook and LinkedIn passé? FriendFeed and Twitter use uni-directional "fan" links.

FriendFeed and LinkedIn demonstrate the power of uni-directional "fan" links, also used by Facebook for public personas (and musicians, bloggers, and politicans so popular that they hit Facebook's 4,999 friend technical limit).

*** Note 1 (of 4): Why? 10,000 people can make a "fan" or "following" link to you, but you have the power/choice to link to only 50 people and keep your life manageable. ***

I'm a newbie to online social networks, having only two contacts on LinkedIn from Oct 2004 to Nov 2007, just because two close friends badgered me with invitations. Turns out, they weren't even heavy users of online social networks. :-)

I only started using Facebook in July 2007 because I wanted to send some African dance photos to a cute lady in Australia. :-)

Then I shifted to Tribe.Net where most of my Burning Man and dancing friends are.

Finally, I tried LinkedIn in Nov 2007. Bingo, 20-25% of my Harvard college 1982-1990 friends were there! I've been having a blast speaking with friends from 20-25 years ago. Last week, out of the blue, I got a LinkedIn invitation from a high school buddy I haven't seen in 26 years. Go, LinkedIn, you rock!

The future of the "link". Who knows what might happen with today's bright engineers, writers, designers, and visionaries?

*** Note 2: I would like many different types of "friend link" or "fan link". How about a range of "invitation links" and "response links"? ***
For invitations I would like a cross between Facebook "pokes" and Friend "friending". Maybe not as elaborate as "Superpoking". But the LinkedIn "connection" is too limiting. How can I separate my high school & college buddies from my past business associates?

Some people use LinkedIn as a glorified address book (ala Plaxo), advertise their services like LinkedIn is the 2008 Yellow pages, are trying to find jobs, or trying to recruit employees and management. Other LinkedIn people are "Open" or "Libertine" networkers who valiantly try to get 40,000 connections.

Do I really want my LinkedIn account to look like a Yellow Pages? Joe Bartling's paper has a good discussion of this issue, but I don't totally agree with his approach.

I received a wonderful e-mail from a 1986 Harvard classmate declining to connect because she only wanted to connect with people she knew well. Nicest refusal I've gotten so far. Style! That was nice. :-) Some people keep very closed high-quality networks of people they can personally vouch for in work situations.

I've ended up trying a mixed approach in LinkedIn over the past 5 months (somewhat Joe Bartling's paper).

a) 80% of my connections are people I know in person.

b) 15% are people who've invited me, or people I've invited because I've been impressed with their real-life activities, research papers, insightful journalism, or website quality.

c) 5% are the Top 9 people on LinkedIn (who's mega-connections help me separate the inactive and active from the 24.5 million LinkedIn accounts - maybe only 21 million accounts still exist, but I don't know how many people are active. Some of my friends only check LinkedIn every few months. One active LinkedIn user took 5 months before accepting my invitation, but that's another story.).

In practice, I almost never run into anyone (with 10+ connections) who's not 3-degrees-of-connection away from me because of the Top 9 LinkedIn people.

However, this experience on LinkedIn has suggested to me that I would prefer access to different types of links. Now I'm in the quandary of fielding LinkedIn invites from people who might be interesting, but wondering how to protect the privacy of people in my network. Not sure. And should my personal friends have access to my general business network or my respected work colleagues?

Some proposed "invitation links"
1) I-am-a-Fan of X
2) I-am-a-Work Colleague of X
3) I-am-a-Casual/Hobby Friend of X
4) I-am-a-Personal Friend of X
5) I think X is hot
6) I want to be a friend of X
7) I would like to business network with X
8) I want to party with X
9) I am-a-family or relative of X
10) I would like contact email from X ("heavy-weight communication")
11) I would like a Twitter address from X ("light-weight communication")
12) I would like a website address from X
13) I think X does very good work.
14) I think X does fantastic kick-butt work.
15) I have personal experience that X does very good work
16) I have personal experience that X does fantastic kick-butt work.
17) I think X is a very empathetic person.
18) I value X as a good friend.

And general or fuzzy "invitation links"
19) I would like an undefined business relationship with X
20) I-am-a-Business Contact of X

From the past 10 months of trying social networks, it appears that people use INVITATIONS as COMMUNICATION (even the infamous Facebook application invite-SPAM described in BJ Fogg's Stanford class on Designing Facebook Applications).

BJ Fogg is currently teaching a Spring 2008 "Psychology of Facebook" class which is swamped with 800+ participants (many non-Stanford business professionals).

So far, the responses to online invitations have been limited in choice.

How can I quickly say (with one mouse-click on a pull-down=menu) "I can't accept your business invitation right now, but here's my Twitter address (or website URL)"? Right now, it takes too long!

Let's turn invitations and responses into real communication.

For "response links" and "relationship links", I would like to have all of the following additional choices:
1) X is-a-fan of mine
2) X is-a-work-colleague
3) X-is-a-casual-friend
4) I-am-in-conflict-with-X
5) X-is-not-a-friend of mine
6) X-is-my-Direct Report

I think there's a need for conflicting invitation response links. LinkedIn removed my invitation without e-mail privileges because I had 4 "I don't know" refusals. I knew 2 people very closely (one from working together a few months ago) & I wasn't sure about the other 2 college classmates because my memory was very fuzzy after 22 years.

Their "I don't know"s messed up my LinkedIn account for 1-2 weeks, until LinkedIn removed the ban after I e-mailed nicely.

*** Note 3: There are many advantages to leaving "friend"/"connection" relationships fuzzy. ***
You can downplay or upplay your relationships for business negotiations. I am a 16-yr friend of Mr. or Ms. Big. Yeah, but how close a friend?

And maybe you don't want the I-am-madly-in-love-with-X combined with the response I-am-in-conflict-with-Y.

My age 40-45 Harvard cohort mostly stays away from Facebook because they want work & personal personas (Only 2-3% of Facebook).

I feel that it will be too difficult and time consuming to use Facebook's current method of security control in create personas.

*** Note 4: In my opinion (IMO), we need unidirectional "invitation links", "response links", and "relationship links" as basic components of social networks. ***
It's been fascinating to watch the evolution of the Internet since 1980 (I missed the first 2 years). And it will be interesting to watch people's behavior on Social Networks over the next 25 years.

For example, take Bill Gates behavior on Social Networks,
1) Facebook 2007 - Bill Gates profile unsearchable, but his friends list is viewable.
2) Facebook 2008 - BIll Gates profile now shows up in searches, but his friends list is private.
3) Facebook 2009 - Will Bill Gates use Facebook's new features to make some of his profile viewable to Friends of Friends?

4) LinkedIn 2007 - Bill Gates is not on LinkedIn.
5) LinkedIn 2008 - Bill Gates joins as #21,xxx,xxx. He has a featured in LinkedIn button. "Specialties: Personal computing, operating systems, technology, philanthropy". He has 4 friends. Wonder who the lucky 4 are. Hope he doesn't get too much invite-SPAM on LinkedIn, and he stays part of the social network. Can we invite him onto FriendFeed?

ENIAC -> Scientific Computing -> Mainframe -> FTP -> TCP/IP -> Minicomputer -> Databases -> e-mail -> UseNet News Groups -> Microcomputers -> Spreadsheets -> Word Processors -> DeskTop Publishing -> BBSs -> Videogames -> Mosaic web browser -> Webpages -> Blogs -> Netscape IPO -> Altavista -> Yahoo! -> eBay -> HotBot -> Napster -> Google -> YouTube -> Flickr -> Facebook -> LinkedIn -> Twitter Microblogging-> FriendFeed Lifestreaming -> ???

Robert Scoble and Louis Gray just wrote wonderful articles yesterday on the importance of PARTICPATION and DISCOVERY in making a "living" social network.
Great articles on the use of "comment" and "like" to get involved creating an interesting community.

I think we are just discovering the basic tools of online communication, facilitation, and community building. Personally, I feel the term "media" might be really 20th century. The line between traditional media, alternative media, professional and amateur "bloggers", and personal journals/diaries is really blurring. And becoming fascinating and exciting! Great time to live. :-:

Just hope FriendFeed survives invite-SPAM, like-SPAM, and comment-SPAM. Unfortunately, many of the top commenters at seem like SPAM posters (from WDSM 2008 conference at Stanford).

Personally, I got hit by the "like" limit this week at FriendFeed with only 160 "likes", so don't jump in too fast, and DON'T SPAM.

The really interesting FriendFeed page to watch [ - Thu 5/1/08]"
See who's articles Robert Scoble liked at FriendFeed

Participate. Participate. Participate. Repeat. [ - Thu 5/1/08]
See who's articles Louis Gray liked at FriendFeed

See who's articles I liked at FriendFeed

- Mitchell Tsai (Harvard '86) - CEO, Spiritual Business Companions : FriendFeed, LinkedIn, Facebook

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Bernard Lunn on the New Economy (excellent commentary)

Some really wonderful thoughts and top-notch commentary on the new Internet methods (aka Web 1.0 & Web 2.0) and how they affect traditional & new businesses in the economy.

Best discussion I've seen yet.

From Bernard Lunn's ReadWriteWeb blog:
Part 1 - Post-Recession Phase Transition (4/27/08)
Part 2 - The Emerging Main Street Web (4/29/08)

- Mitchell Tsai (Harvard '86) - CEO, Spiritual Business Companions : FriendFeed, LinkedIn, Facebook

Monday, April 28, 2008

xxfactor: WOMEN+LEADERSHIP (Stanford, Sat 5/17/08, Free)

Austin Lin posted an update about this on Facebook.
xxfactor WOMEN+LEADERSHIP conference

Keynote Speaker: Trae Vassallo (Stanford MBA 2000) - Partner, Kleiner Perkins Caufield and Byers

WHEN: Saturday, 17 May 2008 (8:00 AM - 6:00 PM)
WHERE: Stanford Graduate School of Business
COST: There is no charge for this event. Meals are included.

REGISTER: Register by 5 May 2008 (5:00 PM) to reserve your place. ...

"This sounds like a great event if you've even considered going to business school and want an excuse to go to Palo Alto May 17th."

- Mitchell Tsai (Harvard '86) - CEO, Spiritual Business Companions : FriendFeed, LinkedIn, Facebook

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Describe your business in 7 words (or less)

UPDATED: Wed 5/7/08 2 PM PT

The scenario I like to give entrepreneurs is
a) You are stuck in elevator with Bill Gates or Melinda Gates, who's in a conversation.
b) Can you give Bill/Melinda your business card with "7 words" on the back, and attract their attention?

What will make Bill/Melinda?
1) Ask you for a 15-sec pitch
2) Then ask you for a 60-sec description
3) ...and for a few minutes off the elevator
4) ...and lunch the next week

Your chances of getting LOTS of FREE ADVICE from people who charge $1,000+/ much better when they don't feel like they have to "do work" in order to help you; e.g.

[in 5 seconds] "My idea is X. Can you help connect me with Person-Y and Organization-Z? No, sorry to bother you."

Practice this 5 second approach at networking events.


The "7 words" may depend on who you're pitching -
Stakeholders, Stockholders, Customers, VCs, Funders, Tech, Media, Bloggers, Possible employees, Possible Business Associates, Family, Public

It's a combination of marketing & technology showing insight into your products & insight into your audience (Customers, Possible Employees, etc...)

In the new Twitter world, pitch your stuff in 140 chars (including someone's Twitter address and some other words), so concise marketing is key.

For techies, perhaps a 15-sec YouTube!

*** Faster Top-down approach to Business Plans: ***

1) 7-words
2) Executive Summary - 1 paragraph
3) 1-Page with Marketing Plan, Tech Overview, Financials, Market Analysis, and anything important.

Oh yeah. I'm going to read the 1 page in 5-10 seconds. Good visual layout. Both your strengths and your WEAKNESSES (I want to know if I and my network are a good fit for your problems...)

...then you can use the traditional 2-10-100+ page business plans. A traditional business plan helps me see that an amateur businessperson can cover the bases. What impresses more is someone who can distill the important DISTINGUISHING features into 1 or 2 pages. If that's present, business plans always change.

Inc 500's study showed that businesses who stick to their business plans actually fail at a FASTER rate!

This exercise is not mine. It's a personal variation of one I learned when first working in Venture Capital in the 1990s.

When you're pitching me (or any VC or possible advisor/mentor), don't make me feel like I'm going to the dentist.

Ideally, I'd like to be very relaxed, and truly interested in what you're saying.

If you've lost me after 15 seconds, it's going to be tough to hear a convoluted 15-min idea.

P.S. It can take months & years to get the 7 don't get discouraged!

- Mitchell Tsai (Harvard '86) - CEO, Spiritual Business Companions : FriendFeed, LinkedIn, Facebook

Monday, February 25, 2008

Social Entrepreneurs at Stanford - Sun 2/24/08

The Center for Social Innovation at the Stanford Graduate School of Business and the Stanford Digital Vision Fellowship Program (sponsored by the Reuters Foundation) cohosted Social Entrepreneurship Day on Sunday, February 24, at the Wallenberg Learning Theatre from 3-5 PM.

[Photo is from a photo album by Tatyana Kanzaveli (LinkedIn, Facebook), CEO, Global Learning Foundation]

Kriss Deiglmeier, Executive Director for the Center for Social Innovation (CSI) at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, introduces the panelists.

Kriss was Chief Operating Officer (COO) for Juma Ventures, Director of Operations at Larkin Street Youth Center, and worked at the United Way of King County.

She has presented nationally and internationally on topics including asset development, social enterprise, and public private partnerships.

[Photo is from a photo album by Tatyana Kanzaveli]

John Kuner's ProjectView Blog has a great summary of the panelists' talks and summarizes their advice for prospective social entrepreneurs.

(1) Jenny Shilling Stein, Executive Director of the Draper Richards Foundation

(2) Jessica Jackley Flannery, Co-Founder and Director of Business Development of

(3) Amy Clark, Ashoka, Global Fellows Program Leader

(4) Suzanne McKechnie Klahr, Ashoka Fellow and Founder of BUILD

Stanford Digital Vision Fellows Class of 2007

Greg Wolff, president of UnaMesa Association, "an open association of people dedicated to improving the tools and information that help educators, healthcare providers, and communities around the world deliver better services with fewer costs. The organization functions as a virtual research and development lab with projects focused on creating practical solutions to problems, such as sharing medical records, that cut across individual services." (UnaMesa Wiki)

International Education and Resource Network (iEARN) is the world's largest non-profit global network that enables teachers and youth to use the Internet and other technologies to collaborate on projects that enhance learning and make a difference in the world.

Shashank Garg is developing an open-source, sustainable, and efficient disease surveillance system that will detect and respond to outbreaks in a timely manner. This system will utilize a mobile device to accurately collect data, validate it at the source, and immediately transmit it to a server where resident experts can identify trends and make informed decisions.

Garg won India’s Dewang Mehta Award for Innovation in Information Technology for being one of the seven co-developers of the Simputer.

Adam Tolnay runs the Y-Fi (Youth Financial Literacy) program, which aims to communicate the basics of personal financial management to youth in marginal areas via the use of fun, interactive, multi-player, multiple-turn simulation games delivered on mobile devices.

Adam will be working with inner city high school students in the U.S. to design and pilot Yi-Fi before rolling it out in his native Romania and his adopted homeland, India.

He has run educational programs in 14 countries - Learning Enterprises , The Learning Foundation India, The Educated Consumer Project

The "Ahimsa Center for Social Equity" proposes a 3-step support mechanism of "AWAKE" (Raise Awareness), "ARISE" (Build Capacity), and "ALIVE" (Investment) to provide a wider net and Ecosystem for entrepreneurs and communities involved in Social Issues.

Netika Raval has been developing a "Big Game" on water issues for children that will be relevant, interactive, useful for geo-spatial learning.

A byproduct of this game will be the collection of reliable, people centered information that will be accessible via a GIS map and community call centers. The objective is to track the resulting reduced dropout rates in 900,000 government schools, as well as to reduce the time and cost of information access for government and people.

Ahmad Atif Mumtaz leads Tele-Health-Care for Disaster Relief.

Whenever a major disaster hits a region, the basic infrastructure, including healthcare facilities, are severely damaged. Atif proposes to develop rapidly deployable and portable tele-health facilities in disaster hit areas so doctors can start treating patients quickly.

Ahmad Atif Mumtaz (LinkedIn) is a Pakistani entrepreneur promoting ICT technologies in the developing countries. Mr. Mumtaz has previously worked with social development organizations, including COMSATS and United Nations IDO.

In 2002, Mr. Mumtaz successfully launched an Internet startup, Cogilent Solutions which currently manages and runs the largest job hunt portal in Pakistan called, BrightSpyre. In 2004, he received the "Young Entrepreneur of the Year" Award for his services through Shell Corporation

Marvin Hall uses robotics competitions to capture the imagination of at-risk youth in inner cities in small, developing countries.

Marvin is the founder of the Halls of Learning robotics training center, has provided scholarships for 150 youth to attend his robotics courses, and has brought a Jamaican robotic team to an international competition. Go Marvin!

He has been improving the math, science, and creative thinking skills of youth in the United States for more than a decade.

John Kuner of smiling at the camera. Perhaps I'll be on one of his mobile stories? :-)

In this project, camera phones are used to create and share personal stories. Young people from various cultures learn more about each other as they connect with their counterparts in an online community. They also gain skills through the story creation process, such as communications, editing, and production.

His powerpoint presentation on "Mobile Storytelling and Video Sharing for Inter-Cultural Communication: How Personal Expression Leads to Job Skills".

Neerja Raman's Blog is called Digital Provide: From Good to Gold

Neerja Raman is a former Director, Strategic Planning and Imaging Systems Lab, Hewlett Packard Labs. She was inducted into the prestigious Hall of Fame, Women in Technology International (WITI).

She pioneered corporate recognition of diversity as a business value, and acquired skills to successfully navigate the pitfalls of being the only female in high pressure environments.

Lessons from her upbringing in India are articulated in a management book “The Practice and Philosophy of Decision Making: A Seven Step Spiritual Guide.” It was featured at the authors' expo "Books that Empower Women" by WITI.

Neerja has been a United Way Chair at HP. She serves on the advisory board of Maitri, a women’s self empowerment organization, is a member of the Indian Business and Professional Women support network, and is executive director of Indian American Women Empowered (IWE).

Invincibelle blog is a "community blog where experts share columns and articles in categories like business entrepreneurship, culture and communication," of which Neerja Raman is one of the authors.

Steve Vosloo runs the "The Digital Hero Book Project." A hero book is a low-cost, simple and effective form of psychosocial support (PSS) where a child is the author, illustrator, main character (hero) and editor of a paper-based book that is designed to help them deal with life's challenges.

The Digital Hero Book Project (DHBP) builds on the success of this Memory Work by introducing information and communication technologies (ICTs) that enable authors to digitise their hero books and publish them on a community-based website.

HIV/Aids, poverty, violence and unemployment affect a large proportion of youth in Southern and Eastern Africa. An indication of this is an estimated orphan population of 12 million in 2001. To help address these issues, REPSSI (Regional Psychosocial Support Initiative) provides psychosocial (social and emotional) technical support to over 60 implementing partners, including those in the Western Cape province of South Africa (SA).

Cathy Healy was at National Geographic for 16 years. She was also editor of AMÉRICAS magazine, published by the Organization of American States.

Cathy has been a newspaper reporter, novelist, magazine and Intranet editor, and collaborates with Digital Vision fellows to help turn their projects a reality.

- Mitchell Tsai (Harvard '86) - CEO, Spiritual Business Companions : FriendFeed, LinkedIn, Facebook

Bill Gates visit to Stanford - Tue 2/19/08

[Photo is by Megan McCarthy (or her photographer) at Wired]

Bill Gates showed a hilarious video clip imagining his upcoming last day in office. Wired said a similar video was shown at this year's CES, but this one had extra guest appearances - Venture Capitalist John Doerr and Berkshire Hathaway founder Warren Buffet.

He carefully avoided mentioning any competitors (Yahoo, Google, etc...) and even went his entire speech without saying the word "Internet" until an audience member used "Internet" in a question, instead emphasizing the impact of "software" on the world. Very old-school! Brought back memories...

I started on 1960s-era mainframes, and it is interesting to see when the "software" buzzword transitioned into "Internet"". When I graduated college in 1986, a lot of us were trying to make money by selling "software". Then came the 1991 easy-to-use browser which blended Hypercard, pictures, and ARPANET...and Poof! Al Gore's "Information Superhighway" buzzword turned into the "Internet".

The 3-D medical imaging demo was neat to see, but he basically pitched some of the ideas of his Microsoft Research teams. Very "PC" speech giving nothing "cool away". He's a great businessman!

He spent the last 1/4 of his talk on giving back to the world, and most of the Q & A session was focused on "doing good."

Hadn't seen Bill for 10 years since visiting his house in 1998, when he had awesome flat-screens on the walls displaying artwork. I've been out of "Tech", and concentrating on non-profits in arts, dance, and spirituality for the past 6 years.

It was good to see him in person again.

- Mitchell Tsai (Harvard '86) - CEO, Spiritual Business Companions : FriendFeed, LinkedIn, Facebook

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Finding Mentors: Leveraging your Business & Social Networks

With all the emphasis on Web 2.0 (2003-2008) Social Networks, it's surprising how people are shy about using their flesh-and-blood networks.

Here's a simple exercise I teach called
"Strategically Extending Your Network":
[Easy Version - 2 Steps]
(1) In each of the following 21 business areas, try listing the 1-2 people you admire the most. If you can't think of any that's ok.

Start with just 5 business areas - CEO, COO, CMO, CFO, CTO.

(2) Ask each person, who they would recommend as a mentor. I call this the "2nd-level ask". Don't ask them to be a mentor. Ask who THEIR mentors are and why they liked their mentor. It's a good time to hear their stories about what really helped them...

- Executive (CEO)
- Vision (CVO)
- Strategy (CSO)
- Risk (CRO)
- Innovation (CIO)
- Networking (CNO)
- Business Development
- Operations (COO)
- Finance (CFO)
- Marketing (CMO)
- Sales (CSO)
- Technology (CTO)
- Creative (CCO)
- Human Resources (Corporate Culture)
- Legal
- Fund-raising - Equity (Angel, VC, Investment Bank, Commercial Bank)
- Fund-raising - Non-Profit Development (CDO)
- Project Management
- Corporate Governance
- Board Members (Directors/Advisors)
- Entrepreneurs

[Medium Version]
Before you talk to the people on your list:

(3) Write down "why" you admire them? What makes your COO or VP of Operations friend, an operations person that you admire?

(3A) ....if you have no clue what an "operations" person does, this could be a could conversation to have...

(4) Do some research on each person before you talk to them. Google them and find a bio/resume, or look at their LinkedIn Resume & Connections. Find out which companies/organizations they worked for. Which schools did they attend? What are their interests in life?

(5) In each business area, list the 1-2 famous people you admire in each area.

(6) Do some research on each "famous person" and try to find connections with your friends. Any similar companies, schools, interests, etc...

[Hard Version]
(7) Sit down with your business partners and try to extend your networks as a group.
(8) Sit down with other experts and ...

This could potentially be a LOT of exploring.

Tip #1: For most busy people, 1 or 2 questions might be all you should start with....unless you find "traction" and they are finding it fun to share stories.

It's REALLY easy to get help, if you make it FUN, and help people feel like they are improving the world.

It's VERY difficult to get help, if you insist on telling the 15-minute version of your company mission. Especially if helping you is going to be like a trip to the dentist (Apologies to the nice dentists out there...) VALUE THEIR TIME... Don't waste it.

Tip #2: Ask specific questions! No open-ended stuff...

Don't ask "Which CEO's do you admire?"

Ask "How did you like Jack Welch's style as a CEO?"

"I really admire Person X who was XYZ position at your old company ABC. Did you like them as a person? I was looking for possible mentors, and was wondering if you could recommend them."

- Mitchell Tsai (Harvard '86) - CEO, Spiritual Business Companions : FriendFeed, LinkedIn, Facebook

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Imagine it! - Stanford 2007 Entrepreneur Week Competition

Saw a very inspirational video Imagine It! at Stanford's Entrepreneur Week (Fri 2/22/08 - Fri 2/29/08). If you're in the Stanford area, check out their other entrepreneurial events this week.

Richard Tavener, Executive Producer of iLoop Media, did a fantastic job making an edgy "fun" video with good camera angles on a lively, funny narrator.

In 2007, students from around the world had 5 days to "create value" from a "mystery item". Very creative solutions. Good way to learn about (1) team-building (2) rapid-prototyping (3) "doing something" and not getting stuck in the idea phase (4) dealing with limited time, money, and people (5) contacting professors and companies that people might be too shy to consider.

The mystery item for the 2008 competition is "RUBBER BANDS".

Stanford President, John Hennessy kicks off Stanford Entrepreneur Week.

Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Silicon Valley Managing Partner, Teresa Briggs talks about the consulting arm of Deloitte.

Stanford Technology Ventures Program (STVP) Executive Director Tina Seelig introduces the major events of Stanford Entrepreneur Week.

Tina Seelig (MS&E) is responsible for strategic planning, operations, and outreach efforts of the Stanford Technology Ventures Program (STVP), is Director of the Stanford Entrepreneurship Network (SEN), and is co-Director of the Mayfield Fellows program.

Tina teaches a Creativity and Innovation course (Material Science & Engineering 277), and writes the Creativity Rulz blog.

Some related websites she suggests are the Roundtable of Enterpreneurship Education (REE) Conferences and the Educators Corner.

- Mitchell Tsai (Harvard '86) - CEO, Spiritual Business Companions : FriendFeed, LinkedIn, Facebook

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Usable and Credible Websites: How to KEEP customers!

Web 1.0 (1991-2002): Many traditional companies don't understand web usability & credibility.

Companies succeed despite a poor website.  You can throw away 50% of your web customers and still succeed.  The web is not everything... (despite what some engineers think :-)

(A) (American Airlines) - Website works extremely poorly on low-speed wireless. How badly?
    My ticket purchases take 5-10 min (if they execute), and they often fail miserably.
    Result: I buy Continental tickets on low-speed connections. I use AA because of their free international upgrades, DESPITE their website.

(B) (Delta Airlines) - Website has NO on-line ticket hold.
    So if I need help on a on-line reservation, and call Delta, they can't view my reservation. I have to remake the entire reservation on the phone with poorly trained Indian phone reps.
    Result: I almost never buy Delta or United (which also has poorly-trained phone reps).

P.S. Well-trained Indian, Romanian, or foreign phone reps are great! We need to help our global comrades earn a living. Can you believe that 50% of Romainian college graduates can't find work, and their average wage is $100/month? No wonder $200-$450/month looks like a good job. However, when a simple order or question turns into a 30-90 min phone call, something's NOT working!

DISCLAIMER: I am an American Airlines Executive Platinum (EXP) and Continental Airlines Platinum flyer who flew 210,000 miles in 2006, but I am not paid by either airline (aside from the occasional "bump voucher" or reimbursement for lost luggage).

Personally, 95% of the time I use websites in the following 3 ways:
(1) "Web" as a calling card. I goto a website to checkout a person/company. Works like reading a resume.
   (A) You've got 5 seconds to catch my attention. I'm highly unlikely to scroll and/or click anything. If I like your website in the first 5 seconds, I may read further and click once or twice.

   (B) If I click once or twice, I probably already like you & think you're credible. Now, I'm hooked, but you can lose my support with poor service (e.g. can't find your phone number).

(2) "Web" as a place to buy a product. I want an easy, friendly, and quick process. Amazon is an amazing website for service. It remembers not only my info, but my friend's addresses for mailing presents, and has lovely recommendations of other books (although there's recommendation SPAM).

(3) Just looking for a phone number, address, and/or e-mail.  Often to give to a client/friend.  Amazing how many websites make this difficult!

How many customers are you losing?

Customer service is an inexpensive way to market your company!

(Of course, I read in a Google book about how they hid their contact info when they couldn't afford customer support...)

Guidelines for designing websites
There are times when you can "break these rules", but you should consciously know why you are breaking them.

See 2002 Stanford Web Credibility Survey - page 8 for a wonderful diagram of about 50 issues that raise/lower your website's credibility.

For example,
(1) "Linking to articles on external websites" raises credibility.
(2) "Being able to find a phone number" raises credibility.
(3) *.org names used to provide more credibility boost in 1999 than in 2002. Apparently by 2002, people on the web have learned that any fly-by-night can setup a non-profit or *.org site.

In BJ Fogg's 2002 book Persuasive Technology: Using Computers to Change What We Think and Do, BJ makes the great observation that your engineers shouldn't be designing obscure error messages (which may help the tech guys).

Instead, they can work with a marketing or usability team to design friendly error messages which improve the user experience (and maybe some technical details which can be relayed to "tech support").

Consider your possible audience.  What will your "first impression" be when someone tries to view your website?
(A) 20-yr-old traveling in India at a low-bandwidth hostel terminal

(B) 40-yr-old Businessperson on a public airport terminal in Amsterdam (No pop-up windows, Flash version is old, No way to configure the machine)

(C) 50-yr-old with vision issues who has their browser font set +2 (larger fonts)

(D) Businessperson giving their client at the airport a web address for a business they're recommending.  On the client's laptop, the website complains that Javascript is required and doesn't display anything.  Am I going to modify any settings on my client's laptop to load Flash or active Javascript? Probably not!

(High security laptop from the IT department has NO Java, NO Javascript, NO Flash, and NO Cookies).

"First Impressions" - Getting to the first 800 x 600 page
   (a) Most people will not scroll or click on anything IF you make a poor first impression.
   (b) Give people a reason to scroll or click!
   (c) With every-click you lose people.

Suggestion 1: If you design for a 1024 x 768 screen, put critical items (About Us, Contact, Home) and catchy stuff (You're trying to get a customer...) in the upper-left 800 x 600 area (visible without scrolling).

(In 1991-98, we used to advise the upper-left 640 x 480, assuming that AOL was using up the top 1/3 of the screen.)

(1) Does your website run & look ok on the following systems?
     PC - Internet Explorer, Firefox
     Apple - Safari, Internet Explorer (the old version), Firefox
     Linux - Firefox
     Web 1.0 (defunct advice): Sun & Unix Flavors: X11 Mozilla, etc...
     Web 1.0 (defunct advice): PC/Apple - AOL browser
     Web 2.0: Mobile Phones, Palmtops
Web 1.0 (possibly defunct advice, but maybe relevant to mobiles): Lynx (text-only browser)

There are many websites which don't run at all on Apples. It's ok if that's your conscious decision to throw away a possible market.

(2) Does your website run in high-security environments?
Java and Javascript are turned OFF (No Flash), Cookies are NOT allowed, No popup windows.

Unfortunately due to heavy virus attacks, many places are moving to higher security conditions.

Many people do NOT have the latest version of Flash installed.
Do you want someone's first impression of your company to be "Have to load Flash 8"?

Suggestion: Design a non-Java, non-Javascript, non-Flash, non-Cookie version of your website (if possible), and automatically shift to it if you detect something missing.  You may give the user a link/button which invites them to use your fancy Java/Flash version. Yahoo! Mail uses this multi-level approach.

For Flash users:
Suggestion 1: Give people phone number, contact name, and address even if Flash doesn't load.
Suggestion 2: If your web server sees that Flash is not loaded/current, show a non-flash website.
Suggestion 3: Give people a link to bypass the Flash.
Suggestion 4: When loading Flash, show useful and interesting content which helps attract the viewer.

(3) Does your website run in low-bandwidth and/or flaky Internet conditions?
Always consider what will happen if the internet crashes.  Can the user find your telephone number or street address at the bottom of the home page, so that they can call you?  I'm assuming you still want their business when the internet is not working...  :-)

In the old days (1991-2000), we worried about dial-up speed in the US.  This is a minor issue now in the US, but it's still a huge problem when traveling internationally.

On American Airlines website in low-bandwidth conditions, it may take 5-10 min to TRY to purchase the ticket, and after the 5-10 minutes, the ticket purchase often won't complete.

This is especially bad when there's a weather condition which means that the airline's 800-numbers have 30-60 min wait times.

Suggestion:  Test your website on a 28.8k dialup connection and a slow wireless link (maybe one of the annoying public ones which display ads - the ad display mechanism in the MetroFi-Free in Sunnyvale, CA, makes some websites work improperly.)

(4) Is your website respectful of people with disabilities or lowered-abilities (age 50+ eyes, "carpal tunnel" wrist, etc...)?
(a) Low Vision - If someone increases the font size +3 on their computer, does all of your text expand equally?  Does the layout still look ok at font size +3?

Suggestion: Perhaps add some extra space in your layout, so that your presentation still looks reasonable when font sizes increase +1 or +2.  Font size +3 will probably not look as good, but you may look WAY better than your competition...

(i) Age 50+: Is your text readable in the natural (un-altered) website view?

There is a trade-off here. Sometimes a site looks more credible and professional in a smaller font - especially with serif fonts for the main text.   Serif fonts in the main text look very amateurish.

But a website with larger text (or text that scales properly at +1 to +3) will impress older people with vision issues.  That's the professional-look trade-off.

(ii) Sight-problems

(b) Hand Issues - Is your website navigable with a minimum of mouse-clicks (e.g. someone who uses the Tab/Enter buttons to navigate)?

How much mouse motion is required to navigate your website?

Lots of "carpal tunnel" people. My brother (visual effects industry) uses a foot mouse due to wrist tendonitis.

(c) Blind - Can the blind see your website? Useful also for speech-on-the-fly (for the future)

One of my friends, Patrick Burke, at UCLA was born totally blind (so he spends half of his life in jet lag), was studying for a graduate degree in German Literature, but he proof-reads websites for blind accessibility and helps other blind people read books & magazines (he slaps them on his scanner & e-mails them the words).

Computers for the blind are incredible...they last 1-2 weeks on a battery because they don't have to power a screen...

Patrick Burke, Coordinator, UCLA Disabilities and Computing Program

Check out UCLA's Accessibility efforts.

- Mitchell Tsai (Harvard '86) - CEO, Spiritual Business Companions : FriendFeed, LinkedIn, Facebook