I have a new guest piece on Handshake 2.0 today. Let me know what you think.

The point I make at the end is critical. “The Cloud” is most certainly a buzzword with a fuzzy meaning a la “Web 2.0”. The idea behind the term is real, but it’s not for everyone. Every business is going to have its own compatability profile for deciding to offload services like email to Google Apps or Rackspace, or data storage to Amazon, etc. Companies who are proficient at IT, should be able make these determinations on their own. Most other companies do something other than IT, and this is a scenario where a consulting company (Shameless Plug Alert) like Vision Point Systems can help.

I voted in the Virginia Democratic Gubernatorial Primary this morning. I can honestly say I wouldn’t have done that if I weren’t on Twitter/Facebook, etc. Somewhere along the way I saw a targeted add on Facebook for Terry McAuliffe, one of the Democratic Nominees, so I became a fan. I’ve always had a casual interest in politics, and make it a point to vote in November. I’ve never voted in a primary, though.

While Mr. McAuliffe’s Facebook page got the topic of the race on my mind, I don’t think I’ve visited the page since. It did bring me to search for related chatter on Twitter though, soon I was following him and the two other candidates, Creigh Deeds and Brian Moran, as well as a host of regional pundits such as FakeVirginia and VAGovernor. For the candidates, it was great to see the personalities come through. For the pundits, I didn’t always agree, but it’s a great forum for discussion.

There’s been much discussion about social media in the Obama Campaign. My cohort, Brian Gracely, wrote about it for a marketing class in the Spring. I know in my case, that whole campaign did nothing to change my mind one way or another. (Perhaps I wasn’t the target).  The use of Twitter in this context – a lower level election – is intriguing. I think this is the real effect Social Media can have on an election – personality connection and real-time interactive feedback. The presidential election is too grand to notice any real impact of these new tools. It seems obvious that this will be a trend going forward. I think there’s an interesting distinction to be made for the scale of the election.

People always ask me what the point of Twitter is. I think this is one concrete example I can give in the future. It only works if people participate, however.

As has been well published in the local Twitterverse/Blogosphere, Robert Scoble visited Blacksburg, VA yesterday. For those who don’t know who he is, Handshake 2.0 has a good summary. The RNR has had a budding Social Media footprint for a while now, but the visit from Mr. Scoble is one of the few events that ties us back to the Internet ground zero of Silicon Valley.

Why is this noteworthy? Well, stemming from his interview with the Roanoke Times yesterday, a bit of a communication issue arose involving the web presence of the restaurant where the event occurred.   There’s a good discussion on Robert’s friendfeed. The issue to me centers around an “old-media” perspective on Internet marketing. Robert suggested that the chef should communicate with customers about the menu. The reporter interpreted this as the restaurant needs to post its menu on the website. Being that the website already contains the standard menu, the restaurant took offence and a rather awkward correction is added to the end of the article.

To me, this is a teachable moment, and an example of why we need “high-tech evangelists” like Mr. Scoble. Most of us who are tuned into social media would have known exactly what he meant – the chef should reach out to customer’s collaboratively in real time and develop a dynamic menu that reflects timely feedback. The unfamiliar interpreted the suggestion in a very flat manner. I hope, as a result of the continued discussion of the matter, that the light goes on in many new people’s heads as to what the collaborative web is all about.