Alternatively titled: What I learned in Vegas won’t stay in Vegas.

So, there I sat. On a plane. In a town car. In a drive through at In-n-Out. In the Lobby of the Las Vegas Hilton. And then it started…

Hanging in the speaker room before the session.

Hanging in the speaker room before the session.

I started seeing people. I first saw Gregarious “Greg” Narain and Brett Petersel. I saw Lucretia Pruitt, AKA Geekmommy. I saw Aaron Brazell. And, I saw myself. I saw myself in all the new people I met. I got to see some of the “new media” minds that are going beyond social media 101 and into the Ivy Leagues of “Prove it.”

I’m still not terribly sure how to express the thoughts and ideas from the experience. I think the best way is to highlight a couple of people and have you read their words. For now.

Mark Story. Not enough words can be said about this guy. Mark is the Director of New Media for the SEC and was he savior of our panel. He is a smart guy with a personality as big as I am. Mark, many thanks for helping out with the panel and for your words of wisdom and encouragement.

Doug Haslam. Doug is a PR idol. He works for Boston-based SHIFT Communications.

Jason Falls. Falls made this happen. Thank you for letting the motley crew talk about PR and new communications practices in a federally regulated world.

Aaron Strout. All-around good guy. Glad to meet you. And destroy you in the Fatburger eating contest.

Jennifer Leggio. Jennifer is a super-smart blogger and commenter on many different topics. But her perspective on the security and privacy in social networks is priceless. Cuts a pretty mean rug too.

The Ken Yeung. Aloha, bradda! Thank you for your lens that does not filter out based on standing or celebrity. A-listers or E-listers, they’re all in your pictures.

I could really continue this list for a number of weeks. But I won’t. What I will do, however, is ask you to spotlight somebody you’ve met recently in the comments.

Well, I’m not really. No, really.

But I liked the title. I’ve just left the BlogWorld and New Media Expo in wonderful Lost Wages and I’ve come to a fun realization.

My life rocks. I got to meet all kinds of rad people this week and learn a few new things on top of it. I’m going to do an “official” summary when my brain recovers, but for now, just accept my thank you to everybody who made the last few days remarkable.

I have the opportunity to speak at this year’s BlogWorld and New Media Expo next month. I’ll get to the topic more in another post.

But here I wanted to share a bit about what the opportunity means to me personally. I have the opportunity to sit on a panel alongside Shannon Paul, Mark Story and a special guest I’ll reveal later. For those of you that don’t know, Shannon built and implemented the social media strategy for the Detroit Red Wings and Mark is the Director of new media for the SEC.

I am the unknown on this panel. I am the underdog in this story.

But that’s OK. I get to represent myself, my knowledge and my skills in front of an audience of bloggers, new media professionals and assorted Web celebrities.

The bigger picture

Speaking at conferences is a sort of currency in the new media world. And I am making my first deposit. I like saying that good ideas are not confined to the big names in this industry and this is my opportunity to prove it.

I have a few weeks to get over the nerves and prep my thoughts and get new cards made up. I have a few weeks to ponder what words I will use to describe my ideas facing the public relations industry. As I write this, Don Draper on Mad Men said “Our worst fears lie in anticipation.” I think that is a fitting theme for this post.

If you’re thinking about embarking on a new adventure, there is no time like the present to put your head down and charge into it full steam. Fear of failing is failure. If you are crippled by the possibility of what might happen, then you will never know what is possible. So, now’s the time to submit that proposal or write that post.

See you in Vegas…

I would like to welcome TechCrunch to the world of actual journalism. Find a story, verify info, interview sources, write story, fact check, publish, repeat.

Here’s the quick background: TechCrunch obtained multiple documents from an alleged hacker who had broken into Twitter employee’s email accounts, Google Documents (There’s a reason it’s not compliant, but that’s a different issue) and other documents and information. TechCrunch verified w/Twitter and its lawyers the accuracy of the documents and even interviewed them. Then they published some of the documents. They were even kind enough to redact personal information.

Journalism 101

From the days of muckraking and yellow journalism, obtained documents have been one of the best sources of great information for reporters. The methods and tactics used to acquire these documents range from the legal (Washington Public Records Act, Federal Freedom of Information Act) to the potentially unethical.

But here’s an important step that separates journalist from sensationalist: The journalist attempts to verify the information before publishing. The Sensationalist does not.

As a holder of an actual, real-life journalism degree, I sat through hours of press law and have filled out my fair share of information requests. I have also obtained information through anonymous sources or obtained information in other ways. And I used those documents. But after verifying on my own.

The right to publish

Now, the debate over whether or not TechCrunch should have published or not is broken into two parts:

  • Is the information newsworthy?
  • Is the information “off limits?”

The newsworthiness discussion is for another day. I am focused on the ethics involved in publishing the documents. TechCrunch absolutely acted within the boundaries of accepted journalistic ethics in publishing those documents. If it had simply published the entire .zip file without making an attempt to check facts or redact personal information, it would have been very out of line.

Instead, it looked for the information it deemed “newsworthy” and ran with it. To recap, it verified the information with Twitter, attempted to elicit on-the-record comment from Twitter and published the information that was applicable to the story it accompanied. TechCrunch even solicited comment from third-party companies named in the documents.

One could also make the argument that Ev and Biz and some of the Twitter team are “Limited Purpose Public Figures.” This means that some of their information is subject to federal and state open records laws and that their expectations of privacy are a bit different than the average citizen.

In this case, the combination of a good journalist and a good lawyer are difficult to beat.

Should they have published

Well, in my opinion yes and no. If TechCrunch wants to use this as a standard for applying journalistic ethics to its reporting (coverage?), then great. But the fact is that TechCrunch is a blog. Its writers express opinion and insert themselves into the stories they are writing. Independant sources are a rarity, as is interviews with the subjects they’re writing about.

I’ve written about the difference between blogger and journalist before, and I think it is completely applicable here. And this gets right to the heart of the debate. If the New York Times had published those documents, would we have even flinched?

I’m sure my opinion is different than some, so tell me what you think.

As of June 9, I have officially survived another year. Another year of learning. Another year of growing. And another year of trying to make the best of myself.

I bought a house. I bought a dog. I changed full-time jobs. I even changed BBQs. It’s been quite an interesting year, which is why I wanted to share some of it here. I also have a “personal” blog, but that’s mostly for ranting. This is more of a “rave.”

Growth as a person

Getting older means nothing if you are incapable of learning from the past. The ability to take lessons away from your experiences are what will help make your future better. Lessons like, it’s great to be able to say yes, but it’s even better to be in a place where you can say no.

Or one I learned this year myself: Having patience and understanding will help you get pretty far in life. It’s OK to be wrong wonce in a while and I think a lot of us forget that. When you are patient enough to take a deep breath or three and acknowledge your mistake, you can often come out further ahead than if you had dug your heels in to be “right.”

Another lesson I’ve learned is on what a true “friend” is. I’ve written about it on this site in the past even. But having folks that you can rely upon is one of the most important things in life. One thing I learned recently was the “Soup Metric.” A concept that can really affect your outlook on who you associate with.

Growth as a professional

I recently took on a new challenge and joined a company that has been pushing me to be better than I thought I was. Being able to succeed in this role is very important to me and I am finding that I have the skills and talent to be great.

I am meeting new people and making new relationships that are helping me realize some of my goals. I have learned a lot from the people I have met such as Micah Baldwin, Geoff Livingston and, recently, Drew Olanoff. I have had a blast with people such as Aaron Brazell or Erin Koteki-Vest or Aubrey Sabala.

I have also recently joined the board of Social Media Club Seattle. I am viewing it as a “practice what I preach” adventure. But I already have found many exciting opportunities and look forward to seeing where this pathway of life leads me.

A birthday without gifts?

I simply couldn’t have a birthday without gifts. But this one’s for you, the readers. What I have is a copy of Hugh McLeod‘s book, “Ignore Everybody” that I am going to give to somebody who comments on this post. I want to hear about who you are and why you’re here and how you have grown in the past year.

To put a nice little bow on top, if you’re in the greater Seattle area, I’ll hand-deliver it over a beverage of your choosing.

So tell me, how have you grown in the last year?

UPDATE: I have closed comments. Send an @ reply to me on Twitter to vote for who gets the book.