Edward Vielmetti

Edward Vielmetti
community nexus

Tottered on: 14 September 2007
Temperature: 63 F
Ceiling: mostly sunny
Ground: long grass; walnut-strewn
Wind: WNW at 15 mph

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TT with HD: Edward Vielmetti

[Ed. note: Useful background to know--nowadays Ed is working with Pure Visibility, an internet marketing company. A2B3 stands for Ann Arbor Bi Bim Bop, a great place for lunch in Ann Arbor, where anyone is welcome to join some folks Ed's collected together, who prove on a weekly basis that they can connect face-to-face in the physical world, not just via networked software ... like Twitter.

In addition to helping make Pure Visibility a great internet marketing company, Ed maintains a couple of different blogs, Vacuum and SuperPatron. Two other other online resources mentioned in the conversation below: ArborUpdate, a source of Ann Arbor news and discussion of same; and ArborWiki, a good place to start if you're looking for information about anything in and around Ann Arbor. ]

HD: I think I probably outweigh you.

EV: So I need to be farther back.

HD: Right. I don't want you to fall of the end, so let me scoot forward a bit, too. This'll work, okay. But wait a second, before we actually get the tottering motion going, let's get your standard picture taken [Ed. note: photography ensues] Now, let's get some tottering going, okay. Oh, wait! You know what, the other thing I wanted to make sure I did ...

EV: ... mmm hmm ... ?

HD: I want to send a Twitter message so that we can officially call this a ...

EV: ... Twitter Totter!

HD: Twitter Totter, yeah. Ummm, let's see, I even went to the effort of setting up the message in 'draft' mode so that I would not torture you with my poor texting skills. [Ed. note: HD is futzing with a Verizon phone. EV is wielding a Blackberry.]

EV: Twitter totter in progress. We'll see if anyone notices. Because I Twittered something out about ten minutes ago that said that I was coming.

HD: Okay. Alright, this says it's sending. Now you have a device that would allow you to determine whether my Twitter was sent successfully?

EV: Yeah, I'm using a Blackberry, and so it's got like a 1995-era web browser, with a small screen, and kind of slow. Which works just fine for the mobile version of Twitter. So I can see like the last ten Twitters, and browse a little bit.

HD: So should it have gone through by now?

EV: Yeah, it should have. You know, let's try looking at it again. It should have in the sense that you posted it. There's some time lag inside these various networks, and this doesn't automatically update when I get something new. I have to fetch a new page, so. Yep! So right after me, you posted, 'now tottering with ed vielmetti'. Cool.

HD: Alright! So, we did that!

EV: Yeah--success.

HD: Okay, behind us. [laugh] I have to say, you know, that it's an awfully cute application, but I can't really imagine that I'm going to be plowing a whole lot of time into it after this.

EV: Yeeaah ...

HD: ... I mean, I enjoyed setting it up in preparation for the totter ride with you. But I was trying to think of some really good practical applications of this service, and about all I could come up with were things like scientific studies. Say, if you were trying to study depression and you had a pool of subjects who agreed to a protocol where they would be interrupted from time to time ...

EV: ... sort of survey-research kind of thing?

HD: Right. Yeah, with a message where they had to respond to, say, yes-no questions--Have you had any suicidal thoughts?

EV: Or do you now that you've been asked this every day for weeks? And they're creeping-out even if they didn't have them!

HD: So I can think of those kind of examples, but as far as knowing that, for example, you're in a cranky mood--that doesn't add value to my life to know that Ed Vielmetti is in a cranky mood. It might even detract a little bit!

EV: Well, there's a couple of things. The use case of late has been the live football coverage use case.

HD: Oh, now, it that strictly speaking legal for people to Twitter the coverage out from the stadium?

EV: Well, probably not, at least for NFL games--I think if you share your account of the game, that's violating their copyright. But I don't know, do alumni [of the University of Michigan] have some kind of special dispensation? Maybe. But for the last game, there were about six or seven people who were noticeably watching the game, sending out scores, noticing when the crowd was booing. I was watching football parking prices, so I had a little bit of parking price data, that I was able to gather, and was able to help share with that.

HD: I noticed a sign that a young lady was holding the other day when I was navigating across town through the traffic--it's not something I normally do, but I had to buy that big steel pole I was describing to you earlier, and I urgently felt like I had to acquire it right that day and didn't care about the traffic. But she was holding a sign that said parking was, I want to say, 20 or 30 dollars, but the value-add: free beer!

EV: Oh! Yes, parking is very competitive. I taught my now-seven-year-old to shout, Twenty-five dollars, Easy out!

HD: Oh, really! So you host parkers??

EV: We help a friend of mine, who lives in Allmendinger Park.

HD: Oh, that's a prime area!

EV: It's prime area, easy access from freeways, a neighborhood that knows its parking. A fairly efficient price-setting market, so two houses are typically not competing on price for essentially the same service. People who cooperate with each other. You know, if your lot is full, you'll still direct people to your neighbor and they'll direct people to you.

HD: I think over here in this location, we're a bit far to be able to charge for parking.

EV: Yeah, you're out of range.

HD: I was thinking, though, of putting a sign right there on Liberty saying, Free Parking, One Space. Just as a teeter totter rider recruitment strategy.

EV: [laugh] To see who would park.

HD: Just to see who I'd get, and then the condition you'd lay on them then, would be, after the game, you have to ride the teeter totter and talk about how you felt the game went.

EV: Yeah, well, there's a friend of mine--the same friend who parks in Allmendinger Park--threatens every year to put up Free Art Fair Parking signs--that direct people towards Brighton, or Jackson or something that directs them out of town.

HD: Well, that's not exactly the right spirit! [laugh]

EV: I don't know. [laugh]

HD: Huh. Well, you know something I was thinking is just about the opposite end of the technology spectrum from Twitter is this thing I saw for myself the other day over in Bird Hill Park--have you heard about it? This book on log--blog--that lives in the physical world. It's like a container ...

EV: ... yep. It's like a geo-caching thing? Where you find it with your GPS and when you get there you write something down ... ?

HD: [laugh] ... no, no, it's the opposite end of the spectrum from Twitter ...

EV: ... okay, okay ...

HD: ... there's no GPS involved, it's just a watertight plastic food container, like a Tupperware food container, that contains a spiral-bound notebook and it's sitting literally on a log ...

EV: ... in plain sight?

HD: In plain sight, you don't have to look for it. Well, you have to look a little bit, but it's not like you have to apply technology. And people write in it, you know, like journal entries. It's like a guest book at a rest stop really. But the fact that it's on a log, is kind of cute. It's worth a look. The first edition of it was vandalized in a fairly, um ...

EV: ... unpleasant way?

HD: Yeah, apparently a very unpleasant way. But there's a new edition out now ...

EV: So where is this thing? In Bird Hills Park?

HD: Well, in Bird Hills ...

EV: ... which I've never been to.

HD: You should have a look. There's actually a bus stop ...

EV: ... the 13 would go up that way.

HD: I don't know the route number, but if you know, then ...

EV: ... I think that's it, it's like at Sunset, or?

HD: Close to there, yeah. Just past the bridge. There's stops going both directions pretty close to that entrance off Newport.

EV: Yeah, that's a tough bus, that's like a once-an-hour bus. So you sort of have to not miss it.

HD: Yeah, don't dawdle and write too much in the journal on the log there or you'll miss your bus. But yeah, if you go in that entrance, there's two trails into the park from that general side. And you want to go on the trail that has all the official signage, and that has the little maze, the S-turn through the fence. And just follow the trail, I would say, like maybe a half mile ...

EV: ... so pretty far in it's not a casual ... ?

HD: Yeah, it's pretty far in. Like on a day like today, even with the sun out, it's pretty dark in there. And then it opens up. The way you know you're getting close to the place where this blog sits, is that it just kind of opens up into this--you're looking down into this little--'ravine' is not the right word.

EV: Like an opening?

HD: Mmm, well, it's not grassy or anything, but you can sort of see the whole lay of the land down below, and there's a log bench over there on the left. And you can read what was written. There was a couple that apparently commemorated their first anniversary there--they shared their first kiss there on the bench.

EV: That's fun--you know, the sort of tangible things in the real world that some of the digital stuff sort of mimics, but doesn't in the same way.

HD: You know, though, the first two weeks of entries got lost. So I was thinking, Man, somebody oughta be backing that stuff up!!

EV: [laugh]

HD: So I thought maybe I should just make a habit of running through there--because that's on one of my regular running routes--so maybe just like once a week and taking a digital camera shot of all the new pages.

EV: Of course, then you'd have to back up the digital camera photos somewhere and if you lost those that would be catastrophic.

HD: I was just thinking if somebody vandalized the second edition, then I could be the hero, and save the day and say, I've got it all, man!

EV: Well, libraries have been trying to do that, they'll say, Oh, we'll take pictures of all of our books and then our books will be safe. That was University Microfilms. They took pictures of all the books--on microfilm, which is crappy in so many ways. It's hard to read, and the resolution isn't really right, and you can't really read print books from microfilm unless you're willing to put up with a lot of lost image quality. But they thought that microfilming meant preservation in some way. And now you're going full cycle with the next version of that with Google scanning-in books, and some library administrators not quite understanding that just because you have a scanned version of some version of this work, doesn't mean that you can pitch the paper version. Because that copy might have been incomplete, it might have been missing a page, the scan might not have been perfect, or any of a number of things that are just not 100 percent digital fidelity to the analog original.

HD: Something I wrote down, I can't remember what it was, let me just look. Oh yeah, keeping with the theme of digital technology and what it allows you to do. Did you go to the Seth Godin talk?

EV: Yeah, I did.

HD: Something that I read that he wrote after he left town--that I thought was far more interesting than anything he said when he was here--had to do with this notion that 'bigger' and 'more' as concepts are just psychologically way more appealing than 'reducing' and 'conserving'.

EV: Mmm.

HD: And [to Seth Godin's mind] the trick for the environmental movement is going to be to figure out how to adapt the psychology of 'always more, more, more is better' to their purpose. And I was thinking that this pedometer log that you maintain, like your number of steps, that seems to fit that. And the technology makes it easy to accomplish. Where it's, More is always better--the more steps you take, the better. It's not about reducing your carbon footprint, it's about how many steps have you taken.

EV: Yeah, although it's more up to a point, right? There's only so many hours in a day to walk. I don't know if this tottering counts as steps.

HD: Oh, is your pedometer counting each up-and-down as a step?!

EV: I don't actually know.

HD: Well, you should check!

EV: No, it doesn't appear to be. Different pedometers have different levels of accuracy. So when you're counting steps, there are things you have to modulate, right? You're actually not trying to get 'more, more, more', because 'more, more, more' leads you to obsess, to having 4-hour-long walking commutes, and you don't actually accomplish anything.

HD: Like you move way away from the center of town, just so that you can ...

EV: ... yeah. I mean but for most people, it's almost like 'more, more, more' is always a good thing.

HD: Yeah, I was going to say, it'd have to take a pathological psychology, I think, to say, Okay, I'm going to move to Dexter so that I can walk to Ann Arbor to work, so that I can get more steps than Ed Vielmetti.

EV: Yeah, it's not hard to get more steps than Ed Vielmetti in December, you know. December's hard.

HD: But I was just thinking, it's stuff like that ...

EV: ... yeah, it's, How can you increase the N, instead of decreasing?

HD: Yeah. There's a guy named David Butcher--I've learned quite a lot about human powered electricity from him. He's got a fairly-well documented system on the web for pedaling a device that will allow him to generate electricity. And for me, the most interesting aspect of that project is not necessarily the execution of it, but the fact that he actually logs every morning how much he did: This morning I generated 47 watt-hours of electricity.

EV: Well, because if you measure it, you can change it, right? It's not like, Oh, I exercised for an hour. It's, I generated 47 watt-hours. Because you can exercise better in the same amount of time and generate more power.

HD: Right. And based on his example, I figured it would be a good idea for my pedal-powered washing machine, to actually document the number of loads, so that it's not just sort of proof-of-concept thing, that's fun to look at--it's an ongoing thing.

EV: Or put an odometer, or like a bicycle computer on some piece of it and measure revolutions or, measure something. For laundry, hmm, loads ...

HD: ... yeah, for laundry I think the number of loads is the most immediate thing to think of, and also I can do that with applying additional ...

EV: ... technology. [laugh]

HD: I just have to remember, Oh, yeah, I need to log that.

EV: But it's always easier when the system logs it for you. Because then you don't have to think and do something at the same time. The pedometers that I've been wearing have a seven-day memory, so even if you don't pay attention more than once a week, you can still gather enough data to motivate yourself to do something. Or else just notice just how lazy you've been and regret that you ever started counting, because winter is setting in and it's gettting darker, and you know that you can't trudge through the slush the same way that you can walk through the summer air!

HD: So [your son] Saul wasn't able to make it today.

EV: No, Saul was not able to make it today.

HD: I was kinda hoping he could come, because it was suggested to me by someone that he might be able to execute a drawing of a potato, that might be a passable potato.

EV: Oh. Well, he's been drawing fairy doors. He's got a paint program on the computer, and we went downtown looking at fairy doors. And one day he just decided he was just going to do one of his own.

HD: So is the idea that he's looking at a fairy door and tries to draw the one he sees, or is he designing new fairy doors ... ?

EV: ... no, these are part of a narrative that I don't completely understand. They all have house numbers and street numbers.

HD: Are you going to have to build this at some point?

EV: No, they're up on Flickr. He drew them digitally, and we uploaded them to Flickr.

HD: I'm just saying, if I were a dad who had a kid who'd created that, I'd be fearful that one day he'd say, Okay, Dad, we need to build these!

EV: Yeah, we have a neighbor who has one. One of his friends from school either built or had built a fairy door in their house. Seems reasonable. He's more a Lego kind of kid than a wood working kind of kid at this point. So he hasn't prompted me to do that.

HD: So he goes to Burns Park Elementary?

EV: He goes to Burns Park and he's in second grade.

HD: Have they [Burns Park Players] drafted you for this year's production of Beauty and the Beast?

EV: He expressed interest in the musical last year, and we'll probably be involved in some way. I'm not quite sure how.

HD: But as a parent, you also have the opportunity to, say, audition ...

EV: ... plenty of opportunities. I'm not sure if any of us are going to be in the production beyond that. But I know that he's expressed interest, so we'll figure that out.

HD: So Beauty and the Beast, I'm not that familiar with the story beyond the two main roles. I mean there's the Beauty, and then there's the Beast. But are there a lot of other roles for this?

EV: That school, Burns Park Players, always has enormous casts. There's always room for one more kid in the production. Myra Klarman, I think she's been photographing Burns Park Players. She's been taking pictures of that production. So I should go back and see some of that stuff. It's great, but it's one of those things where you live in Burns Park, how are you going to show that and get involved with this sort of thing?

HD: So do you feel like there's some kind of pressure to do something or other? I mean, you couldn't just sort of not do anything for the Burns Park Players?

EV: You can probably not do some things, but there's a lot of expectation that you're going to get involved one way or the other. Even if it's just a convenient way to meet neighbors or do things with your kids or that sort of stuff. The PTO is really, really active.

HD: So that's in February, right?

EV: I think so, yeah.

HD: Burns Park Players is on my radar because of Tom Bourque--do you know Tom Bourque? [Ed. note: TB has appeared in BPP productions.]

EV: Mmm, I don't know if I do or not. Was he on the teeter totter?

HD: He was on the teeter totter. He was one of the first people on. I don't remember what number he was exactly. But some people around town will remember that about 10 years ago, he worked really hard to put together an Ann Arbor marathon that would tour the various elementary schools--or actually I don't think it was just elementary schools--but the concept was it would take you past all the schools. And the point would be to support the local schools. The crowning jewel of the run was going to be that it would finish inside Michigan Stadium. And you can imagine, coordinating a marathon, and with the stadium finish as the final piece! I think he got really, really close at a couple of points to making it all fit together, but the University wants a commitment from sponsors, sponsors want a commitment from the University, nobody wants to go first. But anyway, I don't know if you're aware of it, but the idea of finishing a run in Michigan Stadium, that's actually going to happen now.

EV: Yeah, the Big House 5K? I saw the art around that. Sounds interesting, I'm not planning to do it.

HD: Well, it's a run/walk, so 3 extra miles on the ped ...

EV: Oh, a run/walk, okay. I've done the Burns Park Run as a walk and also the Dexter-Ann-Arbor Run as a walk--the 5K part of that. So that's doable.

HD: I mean, I haven't run a race or run any distance under the clock for the longest time. But an opportunity like this doesn't come along very often, so the last couple of months, I've been trying to thrash myself into some kind of reasonable shape. I don't want to embarrass myself.

EV: Right, you don't want to be passed by someone who's walking past you in a big floppy hat.

HD: [laugh] God, I hope not! I'm actually more concerned about--you know, all these results are searchable. They wind up somewhere or other, and I don't want my name to be sitting beside a time of like 35 minutes for a 5K.

EV: Your name, your age, right. If you ever need to do a background check on someone, just check their race results.

HD: So I actually went over to the track the other day, just to run a mile at what I figured would be 90 percent effort, I didn't want to end up puking on the track or anything. I was just horrified at how slow I was moving. So it's clearly not going to be a personal best. But I figure, my goal is just to not look too awful on the jumbotron crossing the finish. Because that's another thing that's going to happen. As you cross the finish line--which is not at the 50-yard line, it's at the 43, which is just past the 'M', so that the 'M' is totally exposed and visible in all of its glory--you get to look up there and see yourself crossing the line on the jumbotron. I think they should videotape the jumbotron ...

EV: ... right, and sell ...

HD: ... yeah, and sell a DVD. I'm sure it'd be easy enough to just make a DVD of the signal they're feeding into the jumbtotron, but I wouldn't care about that. I would want to see the frame ...

EV: ... within the frame, yeah.

HD: You should definitely do it.

EV: Yeah, I should.

HD: They're capping participation at 10,000, I think.

EV: [laugh] Wow.

HD: And if they have 10,000 that's going to be a ton of people. So I'm kind of excited about that. That's coming up in two weeks. Anything you're looking forward to that's on the immediate horizon?

EV: Let's see, what's on the calendar? In November, I'm going to Washington D.C. for the 20th anniversary reunion of the National Science Foundation Network.

HD: National Science Foundation Network?

EV: NSF Net was the organization that took the internet from the military network age to the college campus age.

HD: So you had a hand in that?

EV: I was the annoying kid on campus who kept asking people why their network didn't work. And eventually was working for the computing center while it was being built. And did some contract work for one of the regional networks that was being built, and sort of hung out, sent usenet news feeds over this network that didn't have any other traffic on it.

HD: So is there a multi-day schedule of events?

EV: Yeah, there's an evening reception and then a day's worth of speechifying from people who've been doing internet technology for 20 years.

HD: Is it going to be an occasion to promote the notion of Net Neutrality, or is that controversial issue amongst that crowd?

EV: I think that's a controversial issue.

HD: Not everybody is just automatically, Yeah, yeah, let's keep the Net neutral?

EV: Yeah, I mean, the people who were of that era have gone in a bunch of different directions. Some went totally into commercial networks, there's folks who are at Google now, there's also people at universities now. So I don't think you could necessarily have a single political bent from that collection other than: Networks are important. Even back then, there was a huge schism between 'Keep the network pure for research' versus 'Hey, this looks like a commercial opportunity, let's stop preventing people from doing business over this network and get on with the next step'.

HD: So is there anybody in particular you can think of that you're kinda hoping you might run into at this event?

EV: There's some folks who I see like every four or five years when I go to California--the time in the business cycle where someone would pay me to go to California. And I think Vince Serf will be there, who was one of the inventors of internet protocols back in the 60's and 70's. And then there's just some folks, I mean it's mostly just friends, right? For some short amount of time, Ann Arbor was the center of the world for internet technology. And when the project ended, commercialization happened, those people scattered, mostly to other parts of the world, many of them the Silicon Valley. So there's a sort of ex-patriot Ann Arbor contingent of people who've been here once and who landed there, who I like to stay in touch with.

HD: So are you going to take the whole family and sort of make it a pilgrimage to the nation's capitol?

EV: No, I don't think so. The family trip is a train trip. I think Deb and the kids are going to go to Chicago on the train, which is--the journey is the adventure for that. The train ride is the big thing for that.

HD: Oh, yeah. Actually last summer that was our summer vacation. We did a train ride to Chicago, saw a White Sox game. And yeah, that's plenty good for a vacation.

EV: It's fun, yeah. I took a train ride to Chicago this spring. It was a business trip, there was a conference I was going to. I took the train there and flew back, because it's just how it worked to do that.

HD: So when you take Amtrak to Chicago, do you pay the extra ten bucks for business class?

EV: I try to. I have not successfully planned in advance enough to actually do it. You know, even in the regular car, there's power in enough places that if you want to be plugged in, you can be.

HD: Actually the regular seats are nice enough that my wife and I confused them with business class. We got on the train and we were just sort of bumbling our way in there, and when the conductor checked our tickets, she said, Well, you can sit here if you want, but you know you're actually entitled to a seat up here in this much nicer accommodation. It was a lot nicer, but to me that suggested that regular seats aren't that bad. It's not like wooden benches or anything.

EV: Yeah. The biggest trouble with the train to Chicago is that it's not on time. It's predictably not on time.

HD: You make a note of that in some of your Twitters.

EV: Yeah, I had a friend going to Chicago sort of complaining about the train being late 'like it usually is', and so I looked it up and sure enough it was 57 minutes late entering. And that's pretty typical to be an hour late. The freights on that line, especially in Indiana, are packed pretty tight. So if the train is off schedule, it loses its window between the other scheduled traffic and has to wait until the next window.

HD: Yeah, I remember we were not on time when we traveled. It didn't really matter, because we weren't scheduled so tight that it mattered that we were two hours late. We were like, Okay, two less hours to kill in Chicago.

EV: And better to kill it in the train than in traffic on some under-construction Chicago freeway.

HD: You now, just today, or maybe it was yesterday, it all kind of blurs together on ArborUpdate sometimes, but Jefferson Market, the owner has now sent an email--maybe you got the original email, are you on that list?

EV: I didn't get the original email, but I saw it on ArborUpdate, saying, Hey, I can make this work, if I get some sort of community support, but I'm not sure what that would be and let's talk.

HD: Is that something you personally would be interested in plowing any time or energy into?

EV: I don't think I have spare time right now. I think I'm much better as the consumer of those sorts of markets than as the owner or the part owner! [laugh]

HD: What if you guys took the A2B3 gathering and located it at the Jefferson Market?

EV: Well, we'd probably lose half the crowd. Because a lot of people show up because it's right downtown.

HD: Because of the central location.

EV: Well, Eastern Accents is one block off Main Street, a block from the train station, half-a-block off Liberty. The collection of people that I tend to collect has enough of a geographic locus of people doing that sort of work downtown, that that ended up being a pretty good spot. When I first started the lunch series, it was tour of all the places to eat Bi Bim Bop in town. And I think I hit seven or eight of them.

HD: Ever go to Bell's Diner?

EV: By myself I've been to Bell's Diner, but never tried to organize an outing there. But [Eastern Accents] was hard to beat, probably the only spot able to handle a crowd as big as it is. And now it's like getting up to--I think the peak was like 31 people for lunch--which is absurd.

HD: Wow. At Eastern Accents!

EV: Thirty-one people at Eastern Accents--sitting at one table.

HD: When Derek Mehraban was here, he was promoting the A2B3 really hard and said I should go. So I asked him, I said, Now, Derek, if somebody new shows up that nobody knows who they are, what happens? And he said, Well, Dave, everybody moves immediately to the other side of the table. And I'm pretty sure he was kidding?

EV: Yeah. No, there are some groups in town--one of them which I won't name but I used to go to a lot--where there's sort of a ritual abuse of new members. And this A2B3 isn't like that. There's almost always someone new at the table. Most times someone doesn't come out of the blue, and knows someone who's there. And the way I do introductions tries to be sure that everyone gets to say at least a few words to the whole table.

HD: Oh, so there is some sort of meeting protocol, like you'll call the thing to order and say, Okay, guys welcome this week and these folks are new!

EV: It's more like every time at 12:30 I stand up and ...

HD: ... ring a bell?

EV: Plonk a chopstick on a water glass, and say a few words. I've been bringing things to lunch, just so I have something to read from. This week I brought the Google Hot Trends list. Every two hours Google tells you what the top hundred search queries were for the last two hours ...

HD: ... do they redact the ones that are porn-centric?

EV: They appear to be--it looks a little bit redacted, but it's clearly lots of weird stuff on there that I didn't know. So we answered the top ten queries with people, filling in the blanks for stuff. And then I usually ask people a question. They introduce themselves and they answer the question in some abbreviated format. And it's abbreviated enough that we almost always do a complete round of introductions of 20 to 30 people in under fifteen minutes. It's just like [finger snap]. People have announced who they are enough times that they can do it in ...

HD: ... they've got their standard Bi Bim Bop schtick.

EV: Yeah, they have their standard, or if I force them out of their norm by insisting that they ...

HD: ... what is Ron Suarez's standard schtick?

EV: Ann Arbor City Council, promoVUZ, digital music, promotion, sales, and something else. It's pretty long.

HD: But he just rattles that off?

EV: Well, he used to take about a minute and a half and he's gotten a lot snappier.

HD: Did you have to have a word with him about how long he was taking?

EV: No! No! Just cumulative effort, grinding people down to getting that little introduction snappy.

HD: You know, the only reason I'm asking about Ron is that I've noticed on CTN broadcasts [of City Council meetings] he's got on the back of--I assume his city-issued--laptop computer, he's got an A2B3 sticker. So you know, you guys are getting a little free publicity off of that ...

EV: ... well, actually, he paid for that sticker! [laugh] I collected a dollar from a bunch of people and made a run of 300 of them at VG Kids in Ypsi.

HD: Oh yeah? They're the people who make my T-shirts now.

EV: Yeah, so Laura Fisher did what passes for artwork--I had very simple requirements and she picked a font and it looks like it did. And they printed them up, and I went to pick them up and started handing them out. And it's been great. It's nice to always have. I tell people, Here's a sticker, type this into any search engine, and it'll tell you how to subscribe, subscribe to it, and you'll be invited to the next meeting. It's a keyword phrase to type into the search engine.

HD: So that sticker--I'm sure that Ron didn't mean for it to be necessarily picked up by CTN cameras, it's just that he liked the sticker and put it in the most logical and convenient place, and that was his laptop. But there's been some discussion on the Walking and Bicycling Coalition email list--do you subscribe to that?

EV: I don't subscribe to it, but I know the group.

HD: Yeah, there's been some discussion about advertising on buses and the ad wrapping. The specific complaint about the wrapping technology as opposed to placard technology is that it makes the inside of the buses ...

EV: ... darker!

HD: Yeah, you can't see out, you can't see crucial landmarks, and read stuff like street signs, which I think is a pretty persuasive argument against it. The more general argument against advertising on buses, that there should just be adequate public funding, that's one I'm not as sure about. But seeing the A2B3 sticker [on Suarez's laptop] made me think, Wow, city council people's laptops, that's potential advertising space!

EV: Advertising space, yeah! The 'laptop sticker'. You know, there's an art form. It's not the bumper sticker, it's the laptop sticker. And you format your giveaway promotional thing to fit on a laptop, not to fit on a bumper.

HD: So what I'm wondering is if--city council members themselves shouldn't be able to ...

EV: ... put stickers on their laptops?

HD: Well, they shouldn't be able to financially benefit from it personally. Do you think?

EV: So they don't have a big 'this space for rent' sign on it. You know, Brought to you by, um, what, I mean, who ...

HD: Who would advertise in such a space?

EV: Who would advertise in such a space?

HD: Pure Visibility.

EV: Yeah, maybe, but we sort of are with the stickers, I guess ...

HD: ... you know, that'd be the ultimate irony, right? Their own form of advertising would be as old-school as you can get: stickers on the back of city councilmembers' laptops, so that on the CTN broadcast their ad gets picked up.

EV: Yeah, but you can't track clicks from the CTN broadcast. You can't measure the impact of that advertising except anecdotally. The more important advertising is for Pure Visibility's name to be hot-linked to the phrase 'internet marketing company' in the transcript of this talk.

HD: [laugh][laugh]

EV: And therefore the phrase 'internet marketing company' becomes incrementally, microscopically more likely that Google will find that phrase associated with that organization.

HD: Hmm, now I'm just playing back in my mind other things you might have said that ...

EV: ... that need hyperlinks?

HD: Things you might have said just with the ulterior motive of just increasing visibility! [laugh]

EV: I try not to do that! But my sort of overall answer for that is, on my blog, whenever I need to link to something that's in Ann Arbor, and I'm being really lazy about it, I always link to ArborWiki. Because it's easy to type in the URL, I don't have to think, I can just hyperlink to the name of something, and that page will either be there or it won't be there, but someone will create it if they find it. And AborWiki has enough stuff in it, that most of the things in my blog that I would normally refer to in passing--in Ann Arbor--should be there already at this point.

HD: So you got anything else on your mind?

EV: Do you have an A2B3 sticker? I'll give you one.

HD: I'll give you a dollar for one.

EV: No need to. If you do, it'll be the dollar goes to the fund for the next cognitive artifact.

HD: So you have any thoughts on the game tomorrow? You going to follow that on Twitter?

EV: I'll follow it on Twitter. I created a Google spreadsheet with parking prices with links--it's shareable so other people can see it--and the cells have game and location with price. So I'm hoping to turn that collection of data into a map at some point, and map out the football parking 'heat map' of the stadium, showing where it's expensive to park and where it's cheap to park, and why parking at the corner of Edgewood and Berkeley is the best place to park, because it's the optimal distance ...

HD: ... [laugh] oh, god, I know exactly what you're doing [laugh] ...

EV: ... [laugh] no, no, it's fascinating, right? It's just one of these things, like I walk past the signs in my neighborhood, and I thought, you know, if you collected that for a while, you would have something pretty cool if you had a way of mapping it, so that you could visualize it. What else is on my mind? Hmm.

HD: With respect to the game, I was wondering more about the athletic contest aspect of it.

EV: Yeah, two 0-2 teams with new quarterbacks, right? So. I suspect that one of the teams will end up 0-3. And their alumni will be really unhappy.

HD: Yeah, that's the point I would make, that no matter what, either Notre Dame or Michigan is going to be 0-3 after this game. I'm sure the ESPN people have looked up when that happened last and ...

EV: ... it's a sort of hundred-year-flood kind of a feeling when the team is so bad.

HD: I think it's a good thing though. You've got to have a really awful year sometime, just to remind you that it's not a given, you know, that when you do win, when you have a championship season, that it really is special. I mean, I was here in '97 when they won the national championship, and people were excited, people were pleased, there's no doubt about it. But there seemed to be a sense of, We finally got what we really deserved all along, as opposed to, I can't freakin believe this has happened and this is so great, and we're so fortunate to have had this happened to us! It was like, Well, we deserve this.

EV: I think Ann Arbor is a weird perspective to view Michigan football from. I think to understand Michigan football you have to live where I grew up--the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, Marquette. Where the U of M alumni club, at least during the 70's, was a real organization and not just half the town. And going to see the Rose Bowl game on television was a big deal. And I think of U of M alumni, the further you go away from Ann Arbor, the more distinctive that distinction is of being a U of M alum. And the quality of the football team matters a lot more in Portland, Oregon or Beijing than it does here. Because if it's a good season, then all the alumni will appear at their appropriate venue. Collectively they'll show up, with or without the Alumni Association, and celebrate together.

HD: Alright, well, listen thanks for coming over to ride!

EV: Sure! This was fun.