My Talk On Social Media At The Science House MeetUp

I gave a talk last night at the Science House MeetUp. The NY Tech MeetUp is the best big MeetUp in town. I like to say the Science House MeetUp is the best small MeetUp in town. After my talk was over I learned from James (@ScienceHouse) that Esther Dyson will also be talking in a few weeks. I was floored. I think so very highly of Dyson. I can't believe I got to talk in the same setting. That is what I was thinking.
Image representing Esther Dyson as depicted in...

@gabidewit @habiteer @chrisharwood @BrainiacDating were some of the people in attendance. Two Indians showed up, one a doctor, another a software guy who said he quit a 150K job to get started with his startup. His idea had oomph, but he came across as in the very early stages of gelling the idea. When you start out, you end up thinking at an industry rather than a company level. Not a bad place to start. But then you have to whittle it down so you can have a starting point.They went to, did a search on "social media" and showed up.

Facebook Album: Science House: My Social Media Talk

I showed up earlier than usual, and the event did not start right at 7 PM. We take the first 10-15 minutes to kind of warm up. That is the Science House way. I got to meet the guy who is doing the iPhone app for Science House. What I liked best was the back end. Gabi (@gabidewit) gets to add new info to a Google Spreadsheet and it shows up in the app. 

I started with a survey. If you are on Twitter, raise your hand.
 Most hands in the room went up most times and I said I was not particularly qualified to be talking about social media to the group, but that I was going to share my personal social media story. There were a dozen people in the room, roughly.

Then I introduced myself. I said my name. I passed out my business card. All it has is my first name: Paramendra. Because that is my name on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, Gmail. And you can look me up on Google. My parents must have seen Google coming. I never met anyone who shares my first name. I said I was a tech entrepreneur and a social media guy on the side.
  • JyotiConnect, Founder
  • PayCheckr, Member, Board of Advisors
  • A social networking startup in stealth mode, Board Member 
For social media some of the income streams are as follows.
I talked briefly about JyotiConnect Inc. The IC - Internet Computer - vision is that it is the meeting ground between the so-called First World and Third World. The rich countries have to move beyond the PC to the IC: the Netbook is half way there. The poor countries have to come online in large numbers.

I gave out some personal story. I moved to NYC in 2005 to work on my startup but got sucked into working full time for the democracy movement in Nepal for over two years. My primary work was my blog and sending it out across the largest Nepali mailing list in the world I had created. The list had penetrated all the leading political parties in Nepal, the media, all the top human rights NGOs. Like they said about Arkansas when Bill Clinton was Governor, if you knew 1500 people you pretty much knew everyone who mattered.

I got to meet the Prime Minister of Nepal in person for the first time a few weeks back, but he has been calling me a friend for a few years now. It is because of my Nepal blog. And Nepal is the poorest country outside of Africa. And this was in 2005 and 2006. Social media mattered back there, then.
 That Nepal work spilled over into giving some time to Obama as well: Barackfae.  (The French Revolution And DFNYC January 2006) (And this on Barack in February 2007: Jupiter And Obama)
While giving time to Obama as one of his earliest supporters in NYC, I also started raising money for my startup. The goal was to raise 100K and I did raise that. But most of the investors walked away with most of the money en masse in February this year reacting to the bad economy: "We still believe in you, we still believe in the vision, but we have to go!" I relayed the story of how I raised that 100K in the first place and the role my tech blog played in that. Also, if I sit on the Board Of Advisors of PayCheckr, it is because of this particular blog post: New York Times, Don't Die, Live. The founder of PayCheckr first met me in the comments section of this blog post. I have met him in person only once.


I said one site had me number 12 on the NYC Twitter elite list. Wycleaf Jean is number 11. That guy has more than one million followers. I have about 30,000. To be right behind him, they must be measuring my influence some other way. Maybe they like the quality of my stream. And I am number 90 in NYC in terms of those with the most followers, Donald Trump is number 50. Globally my rank there is 1960. After I hit the top 100 in NYC, I sent out my first tweet from the phone. Otherwise before that Twitter was an all-web thing for me. (My First Tweet From My Phone)

Work on creating a good stream, I said. can be helpful. More than 600,000 people use it. I also tweet when I am out and about in town because I know NYC fascinates the people out there, out in the country, out in the world.

Follow people you know. That includes friends, but also famous people you know and admire but who don't know you back. I have exchanged quite a few tweets with Craig Newmark.

When you are not famous, the way you end up with a lot of followers is what I call the politician model. You shake 1,000 hands hoping maybe 200 of them will vote for you. But for that to happen you need to have a really compelling stream.

A tweet is an atom, I said. Then I tried to put Twitter in the big scheme of things: Fractals: Apple, Windows 95, Netscape, Google, Facebook, Twitter.


I used to use Facebook the way I use Twitter. I ended up with 1400 friends and then Facebook went ahead and deleted my account. I started again and now have 700 friends, but these are now people I know. Either they are friends from a while back, or online only people who feel like friends.

My privacy setting is to Everyone. You don't have to be my friend to see my Facebook page. I already have 130 outstanding friend requests I have not accepted.

I have refused to integrate my Twitter stream into Facebook. I like to keep the two separate. They serve different purposes.


I signed up for LinkedIn not long after the site got launched because I read about it in the news, but then I kind of forgot about it. And then I met James and Gabi at a NY Tech MeetUp for the first time only a few months back, and the following day Gabi sent me a connect request on LinkedIn, of all places. That is when I rediscovered the site. I went ahead redid my LinkedIn page. LinkedIn is really the unsung hero of social networking. It is extremely valuable but we don't talk about it as much as Twitter and Facebook. Now I am working to get 500 contacts. I have 415. And the news is they are about to revamp the site.


I said blogging was my personal favorite platform. A blog to me is like a blank canvass to an artist. You get to write a few paragraphs, insert tens of links, embed a YouTube video perhaps. And, boom, you have a blog post.

In February 2006 Madhav Nepal, then leader of the largest political party in the country, was put under house arrest by the royal regime. A month later he managed to come online wireless. His brother lived in the house next to his. The first person he contacted was me. We chatted on Google Talk. Here's the transcript: Madhav Nepal. A few months back Nepal became Prime Minister. Nobody in the Nepali diaspora put as much time, effort and talent into the democracy movement in Nepal as I did.

April 2006 saw the democracy movement, but January-February 2007 and February 2008 saw the Madhesi Movement. I am a Madhesi. This was like our own civil rights movement. Upendra Yadav has been the face of that movement in Nepal. When Upendra Yadav, now leader of the largest Madhesi party and fourth largest party overall after the April 10, 2008 elections to the constituent assembly in Nepal, landed in Los Angeles in July 2007 for the annual conference of Nepalis in America, his first words were "Where is Paramendra Bhagat?" They took him to the hotel. He again asked, "Where is Paramendra Bhagat?" They had to fly him over to NYC to meet me. We had never met before. He went on to become Foreign Minister.

Both of them got to know me through my blog long before they finally met me in person. That's social media for you.


I said I had uploaded a total of two videos so far on YouTube, but I forgot to mention I have uploaded hundreds on Google Video, now defunct. About 700, to be precise. But I do habitually embed YouTube videos into my blog posts. My blogs are multi-media.


I was at a Nepali poetry festival in Jackson Heights a few months back. There were 40 people in the room and 2400 online, and that was before the event started.

Josephine Ancelle, French Singer, Songwriter

I met @josephinea at a social media event. The old media way was she needed to hit big and that was it. But the social media way is she can gradually expand her fan base from a few hundred to a few thousand to tens of thousands to more, and she will feel the fan love and have the music sales every step of the way.

Q & A

With that I concluded and opened the floor. By the way, I announced in the very beginning anyone could just interrupt me at any point in my talk. That was the social media way. And many did.

After some floor talk on social media, the topics shifted. One of the Indians present talked about his business idea.

@BrainiacDating  said he had managed to get 13,000 people on Brainiac Dating primarily through AdWords. How could he hit the big leagues? Could social media help? Today I sent him an email. Mashable beat TechCrunch and became the most visited tech blog a few months back: Twitter was their primary marketing tool. I also signed up at the site. It is really good. I sent out emails to about 20 beautiful women with a message that said something like this:
Hello. I met the founder Lawrence yesterday at an event where I gave a talk on social media. That is when I first heard about the site. I wanted to try it out because I realized I am interested in dating someone smart. Smarts turn me on. So I signed up today and did a search and you showed up. I looked at your picture and read your profile top to bottom and really liked what I saw. I am interested in you and would like to get to know you better. I feel like I connect to you at a few different levels. I would love to hear from you and meet you in person because I feel that is the only way to really figure out if someone is the right person for you.
For the next three hours or more @habiteer and @chrisharwood had a rather animated discussion on if or not some day virtual reality will get so good that the "real" reality will become unnecessary. My position was that virtual reality does not have to get that good, but even if it gets close, that would be great for my workspace, but face time will always be necessary. There are emotional needs to be met.

There was also a lot of talk about physics, about singularity, about the possibilities of intelligent life out there.

When the group dispersed it was close to one in the morning. I walked over to Grand Central. @habiteer kept walking.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]


Popular posts from this blog

Blog Carnival: Venture Capital

Movie Making Trends

Larry Page Has Been Underrated