Jed Cohen

An Archive

Archive for the ‘me’ Category

I’m Moving

leave a comment

I’m moving across the country in two weeks. I accepted a new position with a company I love working for, in a place I’ve wanted to live for some time, working in a role that should teach me a ton. So as I alternate between excitement and anxiety, I’m faced with sorting through my belongings and deciding what I want to move from the east coast to the west.

I’m no stranger to moving. I moved in and out of Loomis Chaffee for three years of high school, Franklin & Marshall for my first year of college, and NYU for the remainder. But unlike my experiences going back and forth between school dorms and home, this is it. There’s no coming back. And even as I type the words, I’m having a hard time coming to terms with it. You see, I always knew those places were temporary. And I approached it like that – to the point of rarely putting anything on the walls of my rooms, since I’d just have to take it down at the end of the year.

Now you might be saying that that’s no different than anybody who rents an apartment, right? So why not decorate? It certainly didn’t stop my peers. But the truth is that while I lived in those dorms, I still had my room at home. Which meant a place to keep important items, an attic to hold left over things, and a house to, well, live in. I suppose moving back in after I graduated didn’t help any in that regard (like a good number of my peers, I ended up back home after college to save money). But I’m not going to have that anymore. Anything I want to keep I need to take with me now. Which has led to a lot of emotional decision making.

It’s such a “first world problem,” right? It’s something that has resulted from the culture I grew up in and afforded to me by my parent’s socioeconomic status. After all, modern American culture allows for the accumulation of stuff, and my parent’s financial resources enabled me to collect and house the flotsam and jetsam of my life. And it’s true that I’ll be able to keep some of it. Hell, I could keep all of it if I wanted to – so long as I don’t mind shipping it to California.

But why should I? What possible reason would I have to keep textbooks from high school and college for things I don’t even study any more (microbiology textbook anyone?) The answer is that I don’t. So I dropped off five boxes of books at the library. And I’ll probably be donating some portion of the contents of my closet in the next few days. But that stuff is easy. The books and clothes are replaceable, and if I haven’t worn/read it in the last six months then I’m probably not going to in the next six.

But some items are difficult. When I graduated from NYU, I put all of my notebooks in the attic (right next to the box containing my textbooks). I haven’t looked at them in two years. Logically, it’s just paper that can be recycled. Emotionally, it represents hours and hours of hard work. This isn’t an issue so long as I had space to keep these things – I could keep my notes in the attic, just like I keep my memories of those classes somewhere in my head. It joined some boxes of childhood toys up there, right next to the suitcases. But I don’t know where I’ll be living in California, so I have no concept of how much space I’ll have. And let’s face it, my notes from school are hardly important. Nor are some of the other items I’m unsure about taking.

I could keep this stuff here. I might still. But unlike when I was in college, I can’t bank on the house being here for a variety of reasons I don’t care to share on the internet. So it’s now or never. It’s take it with me or give it away. A simple dichotomy, right?

So why is this so hard?

Written by Jed

December 4th, 2011 at 7:20 pm

Not Acceptable

2 comments

It’s easy to say that something is “not acceptable.” Particularly when we describe the past. Events that can’t be changed, whose results are clear and evident – and ones we disagree with. But the truth is that those results which we so quickly deride must be acceptable because they’re the past. And, unless you’ve got a time machine that I don’t know about, immutable.

Some might say that letting this blog lie for the past year is unacceptable. Consistent posting is thet key to a succesful blog, they might say. You’ll only get views and comments if you provide new content regularly, they advise. And that’s true. But that’s not what I’m here for.

You see, this isn’t about building a community or selling a product or espousing a particular platform. It’s about me. It’s about having a place for me to put down my thoughts. And yes, I make it public for others to review and for search engines to index. Because just like in the real world, I don’t act in a vacuum and an outside perspective can be beneficial. But really this place is what I choose to make of it. And for the last year my energy simply hasn’t been focused on the Internet (I’ve barely tweeted and basically stopped using Facebook).

This is not an apology for not posting. Those are silly because if you’re actually sorry then you probably would have posted something before you felt the need to apologize. What this is is an acknowledgment that this thing (not even sure it’s really a blog anymore) still exists. That I do still think about it. And while I can’t promise that my next post won’t happen for another year, I can at least say that I’m here. At least a little bit. And that’s just going to have to be acceptable, okay?

Written by Jed

August 21st, 2011 at 12:13 pm

Posted in me

Project Wanted

one comment

So I’m looking for a new project.  I say “project,” but I use that word loosely.  You could have one big thing that you need done, or you could have six tiny things that all contribute to the goals of your organization.  You could have a team that needs just a little bit of help, or you need just a bit of help building a team.  You could be starting some brand new venture, or taking a look back at what you’ve completed.  For that matter you could be one person who needs a bit of extra help managing things.  I’m open.  What I’m looking for the most is something engaging that I can stretch my mind doing (meeting new people and learning something new would be nice too).

Here’s a quick overview of what I’m looking for:

Two to six month project, working an average of 10-15 hours a week.  I’ll consider this a success is if we both learn something while we work together.

– It’s got to be virtual.  If you have an office in the NYC area, I’d be happy to stop in, say hello, meet everyone, or even work there occasionally.  Realistically, most of the work should be able to be done via the web, and we can keep in touch as many different ways as you’d like – Skype, Twitter, Basecamp, instant message, carrier pigeon.  It’s up to you.

– Ideally I’ll be working in some kind of marketing function for your organization.  That said, I think of marketing pretty broadly.  I think public relations, advertising, internal communications, customer relations, and developer relations are all marketing functions because they all represent your brand to both internal and external customers.  You can think of me as a digital envoy, interacting with others online to help further the goals of your organization.

– I’m not looking to get paid.  Yes, you read that right – I’ll work for you for free.  Again, this is meant to be a learning experience for me, not a second income.  So no stipend or college credit required.  You can think of me as a consultant if you’d like; either way, I’m sure you (or your boss) isn’t going to mind the price tag of zero if they need some extra help.

Now here’s a bit about me:

– Graduated from NYU’s Gallatin School of Individualized Study, where I studied marketing, media, and politics in an attempt to understand what drives people to make decisions (from purchase intent to voting behavior to the impact of the communication channel).  Major highlights there included founding the Ademos Projet, a social marketing venture, and completing my colloquium on the role of propaganda in modern democracy.

– Completed two virtual internships since I’ve graduated (in addition to my day job).  The first was at Careerealism, where I was part of a team working to increase traffic to their site via Twitter.  The second was with Squidoo, where I helped brainstorm ideas for a variety of projects.  Both were interesting experiences, and I actually ended up being interviewed for a Wall Street Journal article about virtual internships as a result.  I’ve also been holding down a full time job since graduation.  I prefer not to say where for privacy, but you can find out if you do a little digging (I’ll take that as a sign of your interest).

– Consider me up to date on most of the social media platforms you’ve heard of.  I can also do some basic video and audio editing in a pinch, and I’ve used WordPress installations on several projects.

– If you want to know more then I’d recommend checking out my writing here.  It should give you a pretty good sense of what my mind is like.  You can also follow me on Twitter or try and stalk me on any other number of social media platforms.  That last bit I’ll leave in your hands.

Like what you’ve read so far?

Then get in touch with me if you think I’m a good fit for what you have in mind.  You can reach me via Twitter, Facebook, or you can even send an e-mail to “me [at] jedcohen [dot] com.”  Or you can, you know, leave a comment.  That works too.

Look forward to hearing from you.

Written by Jed

January 4th, 2010 at 11:42 am

Posted in me

Tagged with

Virtual Internships in the Wall Street Journal

leave a comment

I was quoted (dare I say featured?) in an article in the Wall Street Journal about virtual internships yesterday.  It mentions my experiences working as a virtual intern for both Careerealism and Squidoo.  Both have been amazing experiences that have taught me quite a bit and also put me in touch with a whole bunch of people across the globe.

More on my overall thoughts on virtual internships later; just wanted to post this for now.

Written by Jed

September 30th, 2009 at 10:22 am

Competencies and Feedback

leave a comment

We all have things we’re good at.  And, well, we all have things we’re not so good at.  And one of the things that I think I (and probably you) struggle with is talking about these competencies.  After all, we don’t want to sound like we’re perfect, but we also don’t want to sound like we’re completely flawed.  It’s a fine line to walk.

Which is why having a common language to discuss core competencies can be a good thing.  Using the same languages allows individuals to better communicate the nebulous ideas that make up “what we’re good at” to other people.  And really, we have to do this all of the time.  If you have a corporate-type job, chances are you have to have a yearly performance review.  If you’re interviewing, then you’re probably answering that question about what your weaknesses are quite frequently (and no, working too hard does not count).  If you’re a company, then you have to communicate your strengths to your potential clients.  And so on.

Now around this time of the year, I’d normally be heading back to school.  Instead, I’ve graduated and entered the “real world.”  I don’t think I’m that different a person than I was three or six months ago; I like to think that I’ve worked to improve myself, picked up one or two new skills, and have overall made a positive change.  But it’s hard to tell without feedback.

In science, feedback occurs when the results of a system loop back into itself and lead to some kind of effect upon the system.  In the case of our actions though, feedback rarely comes from within.  Instead, we filter through social signals, body language, and conversations, looking for data that we can use as feedback, and then react appropriately.  When you think about it, this often doesn’t work too well; people aren’t always the best at saying what they mean to communicate.  It also makes it difficult to provide yourself with feedback (or at least I find it so).  After all, the biological definition of feedback takes place in a closed system; our interactions with others take place in the public domain.  So it’s a little bit harder.

Why am I writing about core competencies and feedback?  I wish I had a single reason to share with you.  I don’t.  It’s a mess of self-reflection, changing events, interactions with others, and more.  Ultimately, I’m left with two questions:

What am I good at?

What am I known for?

I have some thoughts on this.  I’m not ready to share them, and I don’t know if I’ll ever be.  But in the meantime, I’m working on developing the framework necessary to communicate the answers to others.

And I’m always looking for (constructive) feedback.  So if you have some, please, share.  It’s a gift, and one I’d greatly appreciate.

Written by Jed

September 24th, 2009 at 12:37 am

Posted in me

Tagged with ,

I am the Long Tail

leave a comment

You may have heard of the long tail.  It’s one of those Internet buzzwords, but if you haven’t, here’s Chris Anderson’s original Wired article on it.  Here’s a quick description: the cost of storing and distributing small quantities of a variety of slightly popular goods becomes economically feasible thanks to the larger audience the internet provides.  If a retailer were to stock these same products on their shelves, they would not be able to sell through their inventory because their shoppers are bound by the need to physically travel to the store to purchase the item.  Some say the long tail is dead.  Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t.  Regardless, the mathematics behind the long tail (the Pareto principle) apply to a variety of circumstances and phenomena.

Including this blog.

How so?  Well, I imagine that the Pareto principle (or the 80/20 rule, or the law of the vital few, or whatever else you call it) applies to Internet traffic too.  Think about it.  If you run a website, how many visitors do you get?  And how many do you think the most popular websites in your field get?  If the 80/20 rule holds true here, then statistically speaking you probably fall within the 80% of the Internet that provides only 20% of the total web traffic.  But chances are there are a few sites within your field that dominate over the rest, at least traffic wise.

Let’s use my blog, this website, as an example.  Here’s my Google Analytics statistics from July 1st to today:

Google Analytics Statistics

I also had 395 visitors when this blog was hosted on WordPress.com, and most of those were from one post – Twitter, the Psychology of Reciprocity, and Self-Reinforcing Micro-Networks.

Anyway, it’s safe to sat that this is not one of the most visited sites on the web (even if we exclude porn and spam).  I’m okay with this.  Here’s why:

I am not here to tell you how to do whatever it is that you do.

I’m much more interested in having a conversation with you than telling you to do things the way I like to do them.  I want to create content that you find “valuable,” that makes you think or exposes you to something you haven’t heard about before.  Yes, I do try to be timely and interesting and witty while doing this, but I truly hope that I do not come off as preachy.  I am not an expert.  I truly hope that you do not get the impression that I’m trying to be one.

I don’t promote this blog very much.

Okay, so this is related to the point above.  I use some simple WordPress SEO, I tweet about my posts, and I have set up accounts on StumbleUponTechnorati, and so on, but I don’t spend hours trying to increase the number of eyeballs that take in the content here.  I’d like to think that you like what I write, and I hope you leave a comment with your thoughts, but I’m not going to freak out if only eight people read this post.  Sure I have Google Analytics enabled, but that’s because it appeals to my scientific data geek side, not because I run marketing campaigns designed to increase traffic.

I’m not here to make money.

Seriously.  There are no ads or sponsors on this website.  I’m doing this because I want to experiment and learn what works for me, not because I’m expecting to make money.  Maybe one day, but not today.  (In the meantime, at least I’ve got that whole “personal branding” thing covered).

So what’s the point again?

This post was supposed to be about web traffic, not an explanation for why I blog or a justification for why I’m okay that only a few people read this thing.  I was going to make a point about how the Internet allows me to find an audience for my writing (and the writing of others) that traditional media would not be able to.  And I was going to discuss how we shouldn’t necessarily expect the proportions of the 80/20 rule to change.  That just because the Internet is the “great equalizer” doesn’t mean that the majority of people won’t still read the same content, especially in light of the low time investment involved in surfing the web (aka if you don’t like something you close the browser window).

Obviously that didn’t happen.  Sorry about that.  Maybe another post?

In the meantime, let me leave you with this:

Justine Ezarik, aka iJustine, describes herself as “the Internet.”  To give you a frame of reference, Alexa gives her websitetraffic rank of 48,998, while this blog is ranked 3,586,457.  So if Justine is the Internet, I guess that makes me the long tail.  And maybe you too.

Written by Jed

August 18th, 2009 at 9:28 am

Twinterns Anonymous

4 comments

Hi, my name is Jed, and I’m a twintern.  This is my story.

If you follow me on Twitter, you might have noticed a lot of posts tagged with #career lately.  No, I haven’t suddenly become an expert on careers (far from it really) – I’m twintering for Careerealism.  Founded by J.T. O’Donnell, Careerealism is a blog/discussion forum focused on offering advice concerning the shifting concept of “career.”  I first came across Careerealism as my graduation was approaching, and I started searching Twitter for career advice.  Careerealism runs a “Twitter Advice Project” that lets a number of career experts answers reader’s questions via Twitter, so that was something I quickly stumbled across.  And as I followed Careerealism’s tweets, I noticed that they were looking for twinterns.

Now I do have a day job.  I’m not going to talk about it here (ever), but as I was thinking about what I wanted to do after graduation, I decided to go ahead and apply for this internship with Careeralism, because, well, why not?  It’s not really something I’d ever done before, and since I am pretty interested in social media, it’s right up my alley.

So what do I do as a twintern?  I tweet.  The whole idea is to help grow Careerealism’s brand awareness and to spread links to and articles on the site.  It’s marketing on Twitter.  J.T. has really embraced social media with the entire program, including in how she communicates with us – meetings occur via Justin.tv and a private Ning network, where we discuss what we’ll be tweeting about during the week, how we’ll be increasing the brand awareness of Careerealism, and also career advice (it wouldn’t be a website about careers if we didn’t).

The twinternship is a ten week program, and we’re about half way through at the moment.  It’s actually quite an interesting experience, because while I’ve been using Twitter for over a year now, it’s always been as an individual.  Tweeting for a brand is…..different.  I’ve already written a bit on how I like to use Twitter, which probably is not how you like to use Twitter (that’s the whole point by the way).  And it’s certainly not how a brand “should” use Twitter.  For example, I started unfollowing people who annoy me recently.  Is that a good thing for a brand?  Probably not, as reciprocity tends to rule the day on Twitter, and as there are a number of services that will follow and unfollow people for you automatically, unfollowing people is a good way to lower your own follower count.  This, of course, is not ideal, so long as we carry traditional advertising metrics like impressions and clickthroughs over to the social media space.  But what if we don’t?  What if we focus instead on the quality of the relationships we build online?

I’d like to thing that building relationships and letting brand awareness and trust build organically is more effective than pushing a brand upon people – I know it is with me.  Then again, I’m not an expert, and I’m pretty new at the whole tweeting for a brand thing (something I hope to write on in greater detail soon).  In the meantime, why don’t you tell me what you think?

Written by Jed

July 3rd, 2009 at 12:10 pm

My Problem with the Telephone

leave a comment

I feel incredibly awkward when I talk on the phone sometimes.  I kind of wish I knew why; I suppose that it’s a function of two things.  The first is that I primarily use digital communications when I’m interacting with people I don’t see on a regular basis – I’m more comfortable using e-mail, Facebook, or Twitter, so I tend to communicate that way.  But when I have to actually talk to someone, I’m not used to interacting with them in that manner.  The second is the standard communication theory concept that intermediated forms of communication lack the feedback that in person communication does – I don’t have body language to rely on, so its more difficult to gage what the other person means.  But this should make my digital interactions more difficult, right?  After all, the digital realm has even less feedback than the telephone.  Perhaps the difference lies in the fact that I’m able to edit my words, to consider every possible interpretation and make sure that what I’ve written reflects my intent.

Maybe this means I should pick up video chatting and then get everyone else to do the same.  Or not.

Written by Jed

May 7th, 2009 at 12:12 pm

Posted in me

Tagged with ,