Guest blogger John Buckman
I’m John Buckman, and I’ll be guest blogging for a bit on OpenBusiness.
I’m the founder/owner of “Open Music” record label Magnatune. I also run the peer-to-peer book exchange (real, dead-tree, books) BookMooch. And I started, ran for 12 years, and sold an Internet software company called Lyris, that makes email list server software (ie, email discussion groups).
I live in two places, alternating between a house in London and Berkeley, California.
I just got back yesterday from a marathon run of conference presentation, with unreliable Internet access, so here are a host of various links to my very recent past:
- This past friday, I gave two talks at the Reboot 9.0 conference in Copenhagen. Reboot is an interesting mostly-commercial-free conference about humanity, society, connectedness and technology. My main presentation was on “Lessons Learned from a Social Entrepreneur” and the slides are available but I suspect are unenlightening without the video, which should appear in a few days. This was a tough presentation to give, because a) I wasn’t supposed to sound like a salesperson pitching my projects and b) it was supposed to be all about insights, yet not sound either egotistical or numbingly boring. I think I succeeded on not the not-egostistical side, but I’m not so sure about the not-being-boring part. Reboot also had “Lightning” 5 minute presentations, of 15 slides, 30 seconds per slide, and the slides advanced mercilessly regardless of where you are in your presentation. I did a 5 minute presentation on BookMooch, and it is available on Youtube as a hand-held video. What got the crowd excited was the “mooch” toolbar shortcut, so you can shop at Amazon, but instead of clicking “buy it now” you click the “mooch” button and get the same book for free instead of paying for it. Re: being non-commercial, as I stepped off the podium the organizer said “I’ll let you get away with that one, because it’s such a cool project”
- A few days before that, I was in Aarhus, Denmark at the “Knock, Knock – the Future of Music” conference (interview with me there about Magnatune and the topic of my presentation, about Piracy vs Permission Society). While “The Future of Music” may sound like an unpromising title for a conference, it turned out to be excellent as they invited the people who run The Pirate Bay, as well as The Pirate Group to come speak. Major label representatives refused to attend because of this, but the pro-Piracy Perspective was fascinating. Also present was formerly-really-damned-evil music Attorney Steve Gordon but now fully reformed and very wise. The conference was next door to Aarhus’ extremely impressive new modern art museum, and everyone in Copenhagen had been telling me to see the “Big Boy” (photo on right) though I personally most love the installation entitled “9 rooms”
- And a few days before that, I was in Zurich, Switzerland, for the launch of Creative Commons Switzerland, where I gave the keynote (Larry Lessig and Joi Ito were unavailable [grin]). My presentation about Creative Commons is downloadable. I was really nervous about this gig, because it’s only the 2nd time I’ve presented about Creative Commons, and Larry Lessig, our fearless leader, is one of the best presenters in the world, often leaving audiences stunned. That’s a hard act to follow. I think my presentation was well received, since I showed up and didn’t botch it, but the audience there was far more educated about CC than I had anticipated, so I suspect it wasn’t all that interesting. This was, however, a LOT easier than a presentation a few months back I made in French (my 2nd language) to a room full of bankers.
- And before that I was in Antwerp and the “Meeting of Minds: The User is The Content” roundtable. They asked us to present what we thought the Internet would look like in 2020. My presentation is available as slides and as an mp3 of the presentation itself (and my blog of the trip). I’m a big fan of both Ray Kurzweil and Bruce Sterling’s futurist-scenarios, even though they’re totally incompatible, which is what I presented on. The photo at right has me talking to the fabulous, hyper-kinetic, #1 blogger in France Loic Lemeur.
For all these presentations, I usually make a from-scratch set of slides and talk, based on the goals of the conference. That’s somewhat unique, as most people give their standard speech, and I think this may be the main reason I get invited to so many places. Unfortunately, sometimes I break into my salesperson persona, aka “the pushy American”, a style appropriate to the USA but totally inappropriate in Europe and wife is there to let me know I botched it.
For anyone thinking “John must be a natural public speaker” I can tell you that when I started this 10 years ago, I could barely get words out when I stood up in front of people, and would stutter, get dizzy and lose my place. I attended a year of a 1h weekly meetings run by the non-profit, all-volunteer speaking club called Toastmasters and I recommend it to everyone. There are clubs of all levels, from pitifully bad (where I started) to great (where I got to admire other speakers) and the cost is very low (I think it was $50 a year when I joined). Click the “find a club” link on the top left of the home page link: they are a very, very global group. They’ll teach anyone to be a decent speaker and it’s just a 1h weekly time commitment.