Changes: I’m Joining RWW Full Time & Getting Married!

I’m making two exciting announcements tonight.


Most important, I’m getting married to my partner Mikalina! Many of my work contacts here on the blog haven’t met Mikalina but many of you have. She’s wonderful and I love her very much. We’ve been together for more than 4 years already and she’s studying to be an environmental engineer. Or a ceramicist – she’s a rock star in both and hasn’t decided what to do about it yet.

We’re looking to get married pretty darned soon, I proposed to her last weekend when we were vacationing on the Oregon Coast.


Work Changes

Readers here may or may not have known that I have only been working roughly half time at ReadWriteWeb since I came on board there in September. That’s now going to change.

The other 30 hours each week has been spent doing consulting, for more companies than I can count right now.

I absolutely love consulting – but ReadWriteWeb is growing fast and site editor Richard MacManus has offered me a great full time position as his VP of Content Development. I’ll be working there full time on a number of initiatives that we’ll be rolling out in the coming months. For now we’re saying that I’m going to be working on premium content, publishing systems and all-around magic, some of which will be behind the scenes. I’ll also continue working in my capacity as lead writer there, so you can expect roughly the same output from me as well.

I am really excited about getting to bring some of my other ideas to fruition with a team of good people and Richard’s support, though. I’m very proud to have been part of the team at RWW that helped the site move from being the 27th most linked-to blog on the web up to #9 today. (Take that Mashable! And look out, ICanHasCheezburger, we’re coming to get you next! I kid, kind of.)


I’m really going to miss the rush of consulting, but in order to stay fresh and in touch with the market, I will continue offering one 1 hour consulting session per week. Those sessions are fast paced and a lot of fun, so let me know if you’re interested in scheduling one. Feedback from past associates and clients can be found here.

Did I Mention That I’m Getting Married?

Thanks for all the interest and support that friends have offered here and privately. I’m very excited to be moving into new stages in the two most important parts of my life. I think many of you will really like what you see us come up with over at ReadWriteWeb. The joy that will come from the transition in my personal life will be much less public but I thought I’d let readers here know about it too.

I’m Making Changes – Get Your Consulting Now If You Want It

Late next week I’ll be announcing a change to my work life. It’s exciting stuff that I hope readers here will appreciate, but it will lead to a major reduction in the time I spend doing consulting work. I’ll be finishing up projects that have already begun (if I haven’t discussed this with you don’t worry about it) but I won’t be taking on new projects after next week.

I honestly love consulting and will continue offering limited one hour sessions periodically, but I will no longer be spending half of my time on it. I’ve got another opportunity I can’t pass up.

In other words, if you’ve been thinking of getting in touch with me for a high-energy, rapid-fire one hour session about product usability, market positioning or launch planning – now’s the time because the pipe is going to be far more narrow very soon. I’ve been doing three or four one hour sessions per month for the past year and people love them. Let me know if you want to do one next week by email at

Otherwise, hang tight for some news next week. It’s nothing earth shaking but it should be pretty exciting. Thanks as always for your ongoing support.

Do Startups Need Community Managers?

One of the things I’ve been advising clients to do a lot lately is consider hiring a full or part-time community manager to communicate closely with their users online. I thought I’d write a post about why community managers are good to have, but then I thought that instead I’d ask it as a question. Do startups need community managers? If not, I’ll stop suggesting that so many of them make that type of hire!

That’s how I phrased a deliberately vague question on Twitter, and it got some great replies by email and on FriendFeed! Twenty people replied, many of whom are community managers, others of whom have hired community managers and a couple of others are cautionary or cynical. It’s a great discussion!

Most of these thoughts are unique and very worth considering – even if they don’t all agree. I’m going to turn these replies into a coherent (and weighty) post on ReadWriteWeb in the morning but I thought I would post them online first and let people knock them around a bit more first. Would you like to respond to any of these arguments in the finished post? If so, please leave a comment here and make sure you tell me where to link your name to.

The final post has been put up here, thanks to all who participated.

I was planning on putting these up on a wiki first and encouraging people to go over there and make edits for replies – I’ve done that before – but then I thought that sounded like a missed opportunity. So here’s a discussion that will turn into a blog post – your thoughts are formally requested…big thanks to the people who have already joined in. I’ll include my own thoughts in the final post.

PS. Big congrats to Drew Olanoff, who was just named Community Manager and Evangelist for today!

. . .

I do think that startups need community managers, but that being said it depends on the community and what needs to be managed. A lot of what I do at CubeSpace is function as a startup community management, but that is very different than the work that Dawn does. I think it depends on the style and distractability of the folks in the startup and how they like to collaborate with peers as well as how they define their peers. I am not trying to be cryptic, I have just worked with a range of startups who need different kind of support and community management.

I would be happy to have a longer conversation with you about this if you are interested. It might also be a good session for


Eva Sari Schweber
Chief Cat Herder
CubeSpace, Your WorkSpace Community

Read on for the rest of the discussion
Continue reading “Do Startups Need Community Managers?”

5 Minute Intro to Yahoo Pipes

I’m in the San Francisco airport flying back from a wonderful Foo Camp where I lead a discussion about RSS power user tips. It was a lot of fun. Several of the attendees had never used Yahoo! Pipes, one of the most powerful tools in the RSS toolbox. I told them that I too didn’t really learn to use Pipes for a long, long time after I first discovered it because it seemed too complicated for my poor little non-developer’s head. Once I was shown just two buttons to push in the service, though, I found out that some great results are actually very easy to achieve using Pipes. Just seeing some one do the simplest things there makes it a lot less scary. In that same spirit, I offer the following 5 minute screencast demonstrating 3 simple things you can do with Pipes. I hope it emboldens you to learn how to do even more with the service, but even if you only feel comfortable doing this much – I believe it will still prove very, very useful. Plus it will keep your toes safe (you’ll know what I mean after watching the video below.
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“Blogging Is Easy, Anyone Can Do It” Actually, It’s Not So Simple

If you’re looking to engage in online conversations with a wide variety of people in different circumstances, it’s important to recognize that the playing field is not level. Though blogging software lowered the technical barriers to participation, there remain substantial political and cultural issues that complicate adoption of these kinds of technologies by people with particular life experiences.

Two important opportunities to learn about these issues are in the news right now. Please check out this article on Silicon Alley Insider (and follow the links) and check out the Blogher conference, which will kick off a week from Friday.

Racism and sexism are two of the issues that many people face online. On a strategic level, to draw the lowest kind of analogy, failure to recognize the race and gender realities different people face on and offline is like trying to design a web page without recognizing that different browsers render HTML differently. (Forgive me for the clumsy analogy.) Though users may have free choice between browsers, and people have some choice about their response to race and gender politics, people who are not white and male don’t have much choice about those circumstances. And being “other” than white and male is not “a problem” like using Internet Explorer instead of Firefox – it’s a hell of a lot more complicated than that. Enough with that analogy then.

I bring this up just to say that no matter what your political views may be, trying humbly to understand where other people are coming from will make you a more effective communicator. There are millions of people on the web with millions of different experiences, but the types of experiences we can learn about by paying attention to this conversation and this conference are ones that a large number of people have had. Even if you don’t think it’s a matter of justice, fairness and human goodness (I do), consider learning respectfully how people in different circumstances understand their own lives so that you can be more effective in communicating with them. That will make you more effective at working online.

Extracting Data From Otherwise Unused Applications: The Case of the Facebook Birthdays

media_1215477588192.pngI hardly ever log in to Facebook but each time I do, I find that there are friends whose birthdays I’m glad to find out about. In order not to miss them, I’ve extracted that information from my Facebook account in to an RSS feed that I can subscribe to elsewhere. I used the wonderful tool to do it. Below are screenshots demonstrating how to do the same thing yourself.

Of course this is just one example of a general principle. I hope you can imagine all kinds of other applications that you would like to get limited access to without visiting them, but from inside your RSS reader.

You have a Facebook (or other) account that you never log in to.

But it does a remarkable job of notifying you when it’s someone’s birthday!

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