Then, yesterday evening I headed down to the Hyatt Regency for a program being put together by the Ayn Rand Center for Individual Freedom, which featured a debate on the topic "Is Government the Problem or the Solution?". I'd not had any contact with the Ayn Rand folks prior to this (and I'm not even sure how it got on my radar, except that it showed up via Facebook), but they certainly do seem to be well-funded! Not only had they flown in speakers from DC for both sides of the debate, but they were also live-streaming the proceedings to the web, with a team of 3 professional cameras, and 2 techs running the audio/switching/upload. Plus, the event was in a ballroom at the Hyatt, and they did a very nice "hearty appetizer" spread before hand (with chicken satays and Thai spring rolls, cheeses, assorted crudités, dips, and breads), which, given there was no cost to attend, pretty much meant "free dinner". Also free were a wide array of booklets on various topics, most extracted from Rand's writings (one from the fellow that was taking the Objectivist side of the debate), there for the taking. Needless to say, the differences of the approach on this event, and the webinar earlier, couldn't have been more notable. Whereas the webinar was a desperate attempt to hook people into buying a program of (to judge from the webinar itself, which was described as "like a social media business course on its own") questionable worth, this presentation was impressive front-to-back and was being provided free. The debate itself was not the most fascinating thing I've encountered all week, but it was interesting enough, and featured speakers each with multiple books out, and moderation by a University of Chicago professor. Another plus, of course, was that it got me up off of the computer, and I ended up walking both ways, which, according to Google Maps, is a bit over a mile in each direction.
Tonight I was off at an event at the ING Cafe ... which, if you're not familial with (there are only 8 of them), are combinations of banks and coffee shops, featuring free computer access, wifi, and meeting rooms ... the Chicago version of which is right in my neighborhood. I was a bit confused on this, as the invite came out as a MeetUp event, but was labeled "Social Media Club Chicago" ... yet I'd not heard anything about it from the Social Media Club of Chicago, but I put that off as figuring that, with some recent personnel changes at the local SMC, getting the Twitter, etc. word out on this might have "fallen between the cracks". That is, until I got there and realized that I didn't recognize anybody in the crowd ... I guess the ING folks had come up with the name for the event and hadn't bothered to check to see if there was an entity out there already using it! The program was quite interesting, having four speakers, each of whom was doing Social Media in a different context, one for the local Patagonia store, one for LookingGlass theater, one for a full-service Agency, and one for a group that does SM for restaurants ... which all had slightly different takes on what SM was about. The crowd seemed to be fairly new to Social Media, but the presentations weren't ratcheted down to that level (although the Q&A ended up pretty basic). I had initially been disappointed that this wasn't a "real" SMC event, but it ended up with my making connections with a couple of the speakers, and I'm supposed to be having a phone call with one of them tomorrow, which I'm hoping will be about some possible freelancing. Needless to say, if this generates some business, it will be a major score for me!
Speaking of freelance/consulting ... had lunch with Don Lewis of WSI today, and he was going over some of the changes there ... which may include my actually getting paid for the work I'm doing. Given the hundreds of hours I've sunk into that over the past 3 years, it would be nice to have that become an actual paying gig (although I don't anticipate them getting to the point any time soon when that will be able to buy much more than a quarter of my time). I also have a phone meeting with a non-profit project that's gearing up and needs some writing done ... however, I know that's un-paid up front, but they're indicating that it could evolve into a paid situation once they get rolling. We'll see how that plays out (it's a concept that I don't have a vast lot of confidence in its "getting traction", but I'm sort of on the outside of the non-profit sphere looking in, so my read might be too "corporate" on that).
Anyway, thought I'd share this stuff here.