Alexandra Samuel's blog

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Stop keeping up and start getting ahead

How to use social media to support your personal and business goals and relationships

Harvard Business

Stop keeping up.

That's the central message of my latest post for Harvard Business Online, in which I argue that we're seduced by the relentless flood of must-have social networks, applications and gadgets. We focus on keeping up with the latest thing, instead of focusing on what's important to us and looking for the technologies that support our own personal and business priorities.

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Hot spots

Vancouver's 12 best wifi cafés and restaurants

Internet coffee cup

In my search for the perfect Internet café I've tried more than my share of Vancouver's wifi-enabled cafés and restaurants. Just like Vancouver's neighbourhoods, its wifi cafés and restaurants range from the scruffily hip to the chicly modern.

In this post I round up (and map!) the best of the good-to-great. Every place on this list has reliable Internet service, at least a few accessible power outlets, and decent coffee; on every other key café ingredient they vary widely.

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Good enough to eat

The 10 ingredients that make a great wifi café

The bare necessities

Some people prowl the earth in search of the world's greatest Don Giovanni; others look for the finest shoemaker, the best bookstore, the ideal glass of Pinot Noir. I put my energy where it counts: the search for the perfect wifi café. While I've yet to find my Holy 802.11b-enabled Grail, i have pinpointed what makes for the perfect, laptop-friendly coffee spot. (And in a separate post, I've identified the best Vancouver wifi cafés and restaurants.)

Here's my list of criteria:

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What I bought for my summer vacation

Best tech gadgets of 2009 (so far)


Our contribution to the economic recovery took the form of feverish technology purchasing throughout April, May and early June. Now that the dust and Visa bills have settled, it's time to stop and rate the roses.

The ratings I've assinged to our past 6 months of tech investments aren't based on assessments of comparative products -- though every product on the list was purchased after reading other people's reviews and comparative perspectives. No, these ratings are based on pure, subjective wow factor: how much each product has filled our hearts with joy, made our lives easier, and inspired evangelical "you gotta buy this cool thing I got" pitches.

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How to use social media to recruit your dream hire

Harvard Business

This week in Harvard Business Online: my post about how to Hire Smarter with Social Media. That post shares some lessons on how social media can help employers find the best people for their team, inspired by the process we used to find our latest, fantastic hire, Channing Rodman. To show these lessons in action, I'm sharing the story of social media helped us find Channing.

Channing joined us in April as a Social Media Strategist, and she has rocked our world with her terrific online instincts, brilliant writing and client diplomacy. You can use social media to hire team members who wow you just as much as Channing's wowed us, whether you're hiring for a social media gig or something entirely analog.

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Get a Mac attitude

5 ways to think like a Mac user

Mac brain

This post is the 6th and final post of a series, Getting the most from your new Mac.

You've settled into your new lifestyle; you're moving from Mac newbie to Macompetent. But when you hit the wifi café for an Americano and a little surfing Safari, you feel like all those other Macbook-wielding hipsters can tell you're not quite one of them yet.

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Social media and digital innovation

10 action recommendations based on Industry Canada's Digital Economy conference

Digital Economy conference logo

Today's Digital Economy conference has surfaced the hunger for a serious effort at moving Canada back into a leadership position in the global digital economy. As the day has unfolded, many people have noted that we need to meet that hunger with a concrete action plan. Here's my first crack at a set of recommendations, guided by our experience in the emergent field of social media, for both action and further dialogue.

Recommendations for future action:

  1. Marry hardware and software. One of Canada's great success stories, RIM (of Blackberry fame) is here today. Another great success -- Flickr -- is absent. But Flickr shows what Canadians can do when they take the infrastructure of the web (mobile, wireles or wired) and marry it with our traditional strengths in community and content creation. Twinning hardware innovators with software innovators would be a great way to inspire software innovators to develop tools and business models that make the most of next-generation hardware, and vice versa.
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Social media moves forward

Social media questions for Industry Canada's conference on Canada's Digital Economy

Digital Economy conference logo

I'm at a Canadian Government's conference in Ottawa today on "Canada's Digital Economy: Moving Forward". Over the course of the day we'll be covering the topics of business innovation, infrastructure, and e-commerce. You can read the background paper online, or watch the live webcast as it unfolds.

There's already a lively Twitter backchannel that seems to include a good number of people in the room as well as folks watching online, and I'll be live tweeting the conference myself.

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Beat the System

6 ways to customize your Mac's Finder and user experience

Made-up Mac

This post is part 5 of a series, Getting the most from your new Mac.

You've fallen in love; you never knew it could be like this. When you compare the object of your affection to your ex, you can't believe what you once settled for.

But like any lover, you can't help but noticing one or two things that could be just a tiny bit better. Maybe your beloved even has a couple of quirks that are downright annoying. And isn't it your job -- the job of any admirer -- to bring out the best in your darling?

Happily, it's easier to tweak your Mac than to upgrade your boyfriend or girlfriend. Here are some adjustments that any new Mac user should undertake, or at least consider, until your computer is exactly right for you.

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Social media that sings

Tony nominee [title of show] is a case study in social media creativity

Title of Show

We can either follow our instinct
Or take advice from every joker
We can either be distinct, or wind up merely mediocre
I’d rather be nine people’s favorite thing
Than a hundred people’s ninth favorite thing.

For the past year, those words have been a mantra at Social Signal. When we tackle a new social media project, we're always balancing the size of the audience we'd like to reach (you know, a few hundred million or so) with the desire to engage meaningful participation. And meaningful engagement is most likely when you focus on becoming nine people's favorite thing.

Social Signal on...

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Work Smarter with Evernote

Get more out of Evernote with Alexandra Samuel's great new ebook, the first in the Harvard Business Press Work Smarter with Social Media series!

Available on Amazon, iTunes and HBR.

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