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It’s calendars, dear ones.

11 Dec

Yes, yes, I know. There is this thing, this phenomenon. I don’t believe this thing is called “the curse of knowledge,” though it’s something similar. (Anyone know?) It’s the thing that happens when something becomes so — it becomes true — and everyone assumes, “Well, of course, that’s how things would have developed. Anyone could have seen it coming.” Except, of course, that that’s not the least bit true when the thing is not yet fully formed.

An example, we drive cars versus — for a wild example — learning how to teleport. Or LGBT rights moved so rapidly from a fringe movement to what it is today, politically and culturally. Or that we drink water out of plastic bottles by the billions (vs, for example, keeping ourselves more healthfully hyrdated by consuming good quality salt and more water-rich produce and foods). See, once something becomes “so,” it seems a natural trajectory that it couldn’t have been any other way.

There are a zillion things I’ve never seen coming, but in some areas of my life, I’ve had “a sense.”

  • In 1982, I was telling my college professors that I envisioned a world where CEOs would actually have their own computers and typing pools would die away. They laughed.
  • In 1991, I was telling graphic designers that they were going to need computers to do their designs vs typesetting and manual layout. They laughed.
  • In 2007, I was telling friends and businesses that they were all going to need Facebook profiles and that FB pages and social media marketing was going to come up and happen so fast the entire world was going to change. They laughed.
  • In 2008, I was part of an invited panel for the US military’s strategic communications training and was told, “maybe in five years or so the US military will start to use social media.” I told them they didn’t have five years. They laughed. (The miiltary moves slowly, they told me. I laughed.)

Now, my spidey sense say: it’s CALENDARS. Folks, it’s time to start getting your calendars in order.

I’ve yet to decide whether it’s insane or brilliant to take this project — TotallyHoCo.com — on, but whether you’re local or not, I encourage you to start putting attention on your personal, biz, org calendars and how they publish, synch, look and communicate! If it’s not your job at your company to make this happen, bring the tool/possibility to the attention of those whose job it is.

Me? I’m going with Time.ly. And while you may scoff, or laugh, you’re going to be joining this movement and shift eventually, so you might as well get on board sooner than later.

TIP: For most organizations and businesses, Time.ly’s free or $9/month service will give you all you need and more than you could have thought to ask for.

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Letter to the Editor, Columbia Flier / HoCo Times

18 Oct

Here is the Letter to the Editor that was published in the October 16, 2014, Columbia Flier and Howard County Times. Thanks to these pubs for publishing my letter.

Local website offers resources for voters

I quite like the new banners about town: the ones proclaiming the many accolades earned and “best of” lists made by Columbia, Ellicott City and Howard County. Seein the many banners I was reminded that I live in one of  “the most technological counties” in America. And I can imagine the kind of stats that put us there: the number of houses with high-speed internet, the percentage of tech jobs and tech companies in the area, the number of mobile phones per the population base, and so on.

Yet there is a metric that is hard to see and certainly challenging to measure: it’s how much Howard County rocks as a social media ecosystem. With hundreds of active bloggers; untold Facebook, twitter and Instagram accounts for businesses, organizations and individuals; a robust list of local #HoCoHashtags (http://goo.gl/WdvB86) and much more, we are, indeed, a “most technological county.”

As the elections get closer, I’d like to share yet another digital resource that I believe contributes to our acclaimed status. It’s a website listing the social accounts (blogs, Facebook and twitter) from Howard County political candidates. The various social streams provide an interesting perspective on the candidates … a perspective above and beyond their marketing materials, crafted speeches and three-minute answers at public forums. The social streams provide insight into what catches these politicians’ attention on a daily basis, how they see situations and what they consider important. Take a look! http://hocoblogs.com/elections2014.php

And get to know your local candidates even better!

Jessie Newburn

Oakland Mills


Jessie Newburn is a co-founder of HoCoBlogs.com and the #HoCoElections site.

Social capital as currency

10 Sep

Yes, I hark on this point often: social capital is a form of currency.

While money is the currency most recognized in commercial transactions, alone it’s flat, bland and doesn’t tell the whole truth of an exchange and engagement. Nothing wrong with it. It does its job. It allows for transactions and exchanges, particularly when relationships of trust don’t exist, and sometimes when they do. 

Yet there is another form of currency, one rising in power and influence, particularily these past six-seven years, and one that helps distribute wealth to a larger group of people, and that’s the currency of one’s social capital. In looking at generations and in understanding that each generation forms and is formed by the surrounding generations and the cultural era in which it sits at whatever phase of life its in, I’ll bring forward again the claim that the Millennial generation (the Hero archetype and those born 1982-2004ish) will always “fight” for the “right to a middle-class existence.” They may not know this thought consciously, but they feel it deep within their individual and collective spirits. They are The Common Man, The Average Joe, generation (as much as they’ve been raised to be special … go figure).

GenXers, now in mid-life, trust no institutions, particularly not monetary, government institutions, and they feel instinctively that the primary wealth that matters is the skills, connections and resources that can be moved in a moment’s notice … things that travel with them. And that makes sense because GenXers are the Nomad archetype, per Strauss and Howe’s work

Social capital can take many forms: an introduction for a job opportunity or a date, bending some rules as a favor to someone to give them a break, encouraging acquaintances to try a new product or business service and many, many other forms. In particular, an area where I tread is as a party host. I host lots of parties, notably and recently with a bent for connecting local bloggers with readers, civil servants, politicians, reporters and everyday folk in the community.

These parties, while in some sense, I can do, figuratively, with my eyes closed, do take time and e-f-f-o-r-t. But the thing that makes them considerably easier for me is when a business (usually a restaurant) approaches me wanting to do the parties. Wanting to have the bloggers and readers at their venue. The energetic difference between having to explain, convince and sell someone vs simply organizing, planning and hosting a party is huge. And the easier the parties are for me to host, the more (quantity, type and frequency) I can host. 

So to all of you who take the five minutes to tweet and use the venue’s correct Twitter handle (so that they can see and witness your social capital in action), or to upload a photo to Instagram and tag it well, or to like the venue’s Facebook page and write a comment of thanks for their generosity in hosting us … and particularily for those of you who blog and take the time to write a post about a party, bless you and thank you. It’s an honor and joy to host the parties and to help people connect, and it’s not my show … it’s our event. I may be the organizer, but without the ecosystem of which you’re a part, it would be flat, bland and just another party. 

Amen for us!

 

Here are some examples of local parties and social capital currency.

HoCoBlogs at Nottingham’s 

Super Sana and Secolari

Storify and Second Chance Saloon

Annie Rie and Petit Louis Bistro

 

 

 

 

 

HoCoElections page offers voters insight and perspective via candidates’ social streams

12 Jun

Check out the new HoCoBlogs’ Election 2014 page.

Click the hashtags for race-specific Twitter streams.

And definitely follow and use #HoCoPolitics!

***

With the primary elections around the corner and early voting starting now, many voters may find themselves shrugging their shoulders, essentially saying, “Eh, I really don’t know who to vote for. All the candidates sound so alike. What if I vote for the wrong person? … I guess I’ll leave the voting to those who are more involved and know better.”

Does this sound like you? It sure is how I was for years; nay, decades. I still find it challenging to differentiate one candidate from another when all I have to go on is their printed election material, which almost always make a candidate look good, reasonable and worthy of my vote.

Sample page from the new site for HoCoElections.

So how do you get to know the candidates? How do you get a sense for who someone is? How do you gain insight, perspective and confidence to vote for the person who seems like the best candidate to you?

One way and one angle to gain this perspective is through the candidates’ social media activity in the form of blogs, Facebook updates, tweets and more. In social media, there is usually less vetting of content, more in-the-moment-ness and more opportunity to see into someone’s personality than exists with highly edited and strategic printed campaign mailers.

At HoCoBlogs, we’ve pulled together local candidates’ social media activity in a new website: HoCoBlogs’ Election 2014, which you can find atwww.hocoblogs.com/elections2014. Come visit (again and again, we hope) and get to know your candidates. Perhaps, and hopefully, you’ll feel more confident to cast your vote and participate in local elections this year.

***

PS – Yes, we are aware that many a tweak still needs to be made. We wanted to get this site mostly done before the primaries, and we’ll update it after the primaries to reflect the elections. Feel free to send updates and new or corrected info to jessie@hocoblogs.com.

Local #hashtags: looking at the bigger picture

29 Nov

As if Twitter wasn’t confusing enough for most people! There’s grammar, etiquette and a sophistication that belies the 140 character world of Tweets, RTs, @s, DMs and those prevalent-yet-mysterious hashtags. #Hashtags!  What are they? Why use them?

In short: Hashtags create an organizing system among the 400 million+  tweets sent each day. Think of them as an decentralized and highly useful system in which millions of people can “file” information so that others looking for specific information can find it. Reasonable enough.

community building and local hashtags howard county

So what does this have to do with Howard County, or any community for that matter?

Most people’s “worlds” are very local. Despite interests in myriad hobbies, a fascination with international news or a focus on one’s professions humans live mostly in the world they themselves physically touch. And on another layer, the world that is touched/experienced by their social networks.

While involvement in local organizations, local politics and local affairs varies from person to person, local events are important to everyone at a physical survival level. And this is where Twitter and local hashtags becomes interesting and valuable.

using hashtags for emergency communications and community buildingIn terms of technology, I offer that Twitter provides one of the fastest ways to move specific information inside of loosely defined networks.

Most people living in Columbia, Maryland, when adding the hashtag #Columbia to a tweet, think that’s a local hashtag. Yet Click on #Columbia  in a Twitter search and compare that to #ColumbiaMD. You don’t even have to click: your brain can already see that the words and the search results will be very different when looked at through the stream of global tweets. The same is true for the ever-popular #HoCo hashtag. Around the time of homecoming, click on top images for #HoCo and note that suddenly #HoCo starts to mean homecoming dances and football games to teens throughout the U.S. (And there are a lot of teens on Twitter.)

This may not seem to be a big deal, right? So what if a hashtag we like to use in our community — #HoCo — gets flooded with #HoCo/homecoming-related tweets. Well, on one hand, yeah, so what. Yet what if in that same week there were a natural disaster in our neck of the woods and our community was accustomed to adding #HoCo to a Tweet to indicate Howard County, Maryland. Do you see the problem? We, as a community, would be sending info and tweets out that were meant for a local audience, yet our own messages would be most likely drowned out in a sea of teen’s tweets. And hashtags are all about organizing information inside on an unordered world, so what we do now, layers in and creates a system of intelligence and thoughtfulness that’s in place when we need it.

list-of-local-hashtags-for-howard-county-maryland-21042-21043-21044-21045-21046

Think back on Hurricane Sandy. As the storm approached, most everyone was very interested in what was happening right outside their homes and in their communities, regardless of whether they gave a hoot the day prior about the Board of Education or a zoning change in the county. People live locally on a level of physical survival.  As the local Twitter stream and tweets about the hurricane started coming in, people were suddenly looking for immediate and hyper-local information: information more immediate than any newspaper could produce and more local than the TV stations could deliver. Enter, social media, and more specifically Twitter and local hashtags.

community building and local hashtagsBut in those tweets, well-intentioned as they were, the difference between a tweet with the hashtag #Hurricane, or #Sandy, or #MDSandy or #HoCoSandy suddenly made a huge difference as to whether someone’s locally focused tweet was reaching the best possible audience (those for whom the information was relevant). And while many a tweet — mine own among them — are often frivolous, information about a super storm, road closings, facility closings, floods and such have more importance and a wider potential audience tuning in.

If you look at the two screen captures of tweets in this blog post, you’ll see the difference a local hashtag created, shared and used can make. The top image is some results for #HoCoSandy. Here you see tweets from the Columbia Patch, County Executive Ulman, Luke (a reporter at the Columbia Flier) and and other local people. The other screen capture — the one for #HurricaneSandy — has tweets from all over the place; none of them local or locally relevant that I can discern.

A significant challenge with a community’s emergency preparedness (and a government’s and local institutions’) is that the time to prepare for an emergency is before it happens. Nothing new there, right? So how, as a community, do we prepare now to be ready to disseminate information wisely and thoughtfully when the need is more dire? I offer that the answer is found in the developing the discipline (and eventually the habit) of using local hashtags.

Use them for the mundane. For the unimportant. For the fun and engaging. #HoCoSushi, #HoCoMoms, #HoCoFood. But use them. Use them for news, updates and announcements: #HoCoSchools, #HoCoDeals, #HoCoVote. Be playful. Be serious. Be thoughtful. Be wise. But use them.

With the help and input of some friends, bloggers and the Fire Department, I’ve created a first round compilation of local hashtags to use. There are a LOT of them listed here. There’s no requirement to use them, of course. And perhaps (and probably) there are better hashtags to use in many of the cases here. Perhaps the community-wide list someday will be five times larger; perhaps it will be chopped by a third. I don’t know what’s best. I do know that local hashtags are important and will become increasingly important, and the time to figure out how to use them well and wisely is now.

Take a look! And try them out. If you’ve yet to do so, I encourage you to follow @HoCoBlogs on Twitter.

Social media, generations, institutions and power change

18 Apr

An impromptu interview — and how I met @GeoGeller — in 2007 at a diner in Baltimore where Jeff Pulver was hosting a breakfast party. Talking about social media, generations, institutions and power change.

and then a bit here, with @SpiralEyes

[http://youtu.be/45b1Q5J2UYs]

How I almost sold my soul for a box of labels

3 Mar

It happened like this: I tweeted a simple request. (It seemed innocent enough at the time.) I tweeted that I needed help getting some Avery labels printed for an upcoming hocoblogs party. And that’s when the snowball rolling toward my soul being owned by The Devil started to roll.

Good thing for me, my soul isn’t for sale, so I caught that potentially Hellish problem in the nick of time. “Whoa, Devil,” said I. “No souls for sale here.”

See, when I posted my request to the Twitterverse, a smart gal managing Avery label’s brand online spotted my tweet and responded to me right away. She offered that she could give me some labels if I were to blog about why I liked Avery labels.

I asked for the dollar amount of this “gift” of labels, and she said it was about $90. I explained to her that the blog post I was interested in writing had to do with respecting that a company was monitoring its brand in the social space and that it had empowered an agent (notably, a pr firm) to act on its behalf for community relations with brand ambassadors.

She told me my blog post focus that was a little out of the norm, but that she was game.

Avery labels sent from Red Sky Public Relations.

I told her that I was delighted she was game, because I was going to blog about the experience anyway; now I get to tell a happy, yay-for-Avery-and-good-online-brand-monitoring story rather than a “they tried to get me to sell soul, and they can’t have it” story.

Even better, the gal sent me the Avery product prior to my blog post being written: a statement of trust. (Nice touch.)  And, so folks, I now have a load of Avery labels … and my soul, fully intact.

***

For companies in need of some good online brand management, props to Leigh Ann Dufurrena of Red Sky Public Relations. (You can use this link in your own personal brand management, Leigh Ann; you get a shiny gold star in my book.)

Taking inventory

15 Dec

When I begin working with a new client, one of the things I ask to see is an inventory of online communication tools used. Sometimes this can seem to be an unnecessary task in the client’s eyes, but my experience is that while most companies “know” the information I’m requesting in the network of their team, rarely is the information fully documented in one specific place. Once the list is together, it becomes a most-useful resource to have on hand for new marketing and communication projects, for when new hires (or interns or volunteers) come on board, and when working with consultants who may not know the day-in-and-day-out details of your company’s communications.

The information I request, per tool, is —

  • The tool name,
  • The access URL,
  • The account name,
  • The password (redacted, but in the document for their records),
  • The email to which the account is connected (très importante!),
  • Who at the company manages the account, and
  • And a two- or three-sentence statement for how the communication tool is used and any other important account management points to note.

The result of that query, for one tool, might look like this —

Twitter

  • Sign in: https://twitter.com
  • Account name: @hocoblogs
  • Password: (redacted)
  • Connects to: jessie (at) hocoblogs.com
  • Account manager: Jessie manages the account daily and Kimberly TP fills in using Hootsuite when Jessie is off the grid.
  • Twitter is used primarily to promote blog posts by Howard County bloggers which is done with short announcements and retweets. It is also used to announce local blogger and social media parties, workshops and events. Hootsuite is often used for posting and ow.ly and bit.ly are used for URL shorteners.

Of course, the quick-to-name tools that come to mind for many organizations nowadays include —

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • YouTube
  • Linkedin (for your company profile and any groups you might run)
  • Flickr
  • Blogs
  • Slideshare
  • Scribd
  • Eventbrite
  • Email newsletter services such as Blue Sky Factory, Mail Chimp or Constant Contact

Then, of course, there’s the endless list of online tools used inside a business, such as —

  • Google Analytics (or other sources),
  • Web 2.0 tools, such as Highrise, Basecamp, Huddle and DropBox,
  • The company website and/or CMS
  • And on and on and on …

For the nature of the work I typically do, I’m looking for information about who is managing what communication tools, so I don’t need to know too many business processes beyond this realm, unless, of course, they relate to communications, community-building and pr. If you run a communications department, or work closely with one, and don’t yet have this type of inventory together, now is a good time to do so. Oh, and it’s helpful to date the document so that you and your team are able to tell when the list might need to be reviewed and updated.

Hocobloggers: we rock!

4 Jun

I’m a big believer in social capital and the power we each wield as bloggers in helping those in our network be more connected and relevant. Take a look at the amazing work we did — individually and together — as a community of bloggers. The document I link to is a wrap-up of the Pure Wine Cafe party activity I could find in the blog, twitter, facebook, foursquare and event software realms.

Big thanks to each of you who helped make this party one of the best ever. Whether you tweeted about it, told a friend, showed up and participated, or commented on another bloggers’ site, thank you, thank you, thank you!

And, never one to miss an opportunity to be a broken record —

  • I’m always looking for co-hosts for the hocoblogs parties.(Details here.)
  • Hocoblogs is a site for all people who LIVE in Howard County to post their blogs and connect with other bloggers. Please help us identify and populate this site with local bloggers (regardless of their blogs subject matter) and invite your friends, colleagues and neighbors to submit their blog on www.hocoblogs.com.
  • If you’re tweeting, please consider following @hocoblogs
  • And check in — and participate where you can — in Hocomojo‘s site, too! They’re doing great work and are an interesting add-on to the community conversation.

Muchas gracias!

Jessie

My take-away.

18 Oct

“What was your biggest take-away today?” was the question he asked me.

We were at the happy hour following Public Media Camp on Saturday, and I was talking to @digiphile about the day behind us. I have a propensity to answer questions with either brevity, bluntness and clarity of thought that can be shockingly specific, or to wend my way through terrain that you’d never think would lead back to an answer; yet it does. For Alex/@digiphile, I chose the latter. Essentially, it’s this —

The first session I attended at the camp was about the relationship between traditional public media (the NPRs and PBS-es of America, for example) and new media: the bloggers, twitterers, YouTube content generators, and so forth. I arrived while the session was in process and felt immediately that I was in the middle of a culture war. I know this battle. Lived it. Strategized in it. Been frustrated by it. Been vilified. Been exalted. The whole kit-n-caboodle. And, I know it deeply from a generational theory perspective as well.

Within minutes of being in the room, a woman a bit older than me and from the traditional media side of things said, (paraphrasing, I am), “Well, once WE set the standards of what we’ll accept from citizen journalists, then we can work with them.” A well-established blogger in DC, without skipping a beat and with passion in his heart, informed her, “We don’t want to volunteer for you. We want to be in partnership with you.”

And that’s when I had my ah-hah. My take-away, so to speak. See, GenXers (born 1961-1981) have been the junior gen to Boomers (born 1943-1960) since the day they arrived. Boomers– while they typically don’t see this in themselves or their gen — are turf squatters, and believe that if they’ve sat long enough on turf, it’s theirs, dammit. GenXers (the Nomad generation in archetypal language) grows up and moves through young adulthood deeply understanding that there just isn’t any room for them at the table. So, the skill set most GenXers develop is to find ways around obstacles, fortresses, dysfunctional systems, calcified processes.

As social media has ascended, and more GenXers than any other generation have embraced the tools (there’s a reason for this, but that’s another convo), the GenXers have been banging on Boomer doors (traditional media, in this case), saying, “Hey! Hey, listen, there’s some really interesting stuff happening over here.” But most Boomers/traditional institution leaders have continued to treat GenXers as they’ve known them as young adults: the temp worker/slacker/lackeys to whom they pushed off the onerous tasks of dealing with complexities and icky details. They (the Boomers) continue to see themselves as King of the Hill, even while things are changing radically.

** I’m intentionally being big and — even gross — with my generalizations for story-telling here, k? **

When the PubCamp blogger said emphatically to the well-paid, entrenched traditional media lady — who was assuming that a blogger would want to volunteer under her organization’s terms of providing content, “We don’t want to volunteer for you. We want to be in partnership with you,” I knew then that the tides had shifted.

The shift is a subtle one. And it’s bigger than most entrenched leaders in traditional media, corporate America or government organizations probably understand. The shift is that GenXers have moved away from asking for attention and respect, vis-a-vis their ideas/visions/Web 2.0 activity and problem-solving and are moving on, with or without the institutions. Like I said, it’s a subtle shift. But mark my words, it’s happened.  (The subtle but huge things are what I tend to notice.) GenXers are offering Boomers a last chance for partnership and the opportunity to be involved and engaged. Boomers who continue to think as though they still are in control (even if they are by title), and who think that from that titular control they will set the rules without treating GenXers as partners, well … they will be marginalized. Not because GenXers want to marginalize Boomers, but because the time is now to collaborate and to allow new leadership and perspectives to have equal, if not greater, sway in going forward.

So, my take-away: the shift has occurred. Now, it’s only a matter of observing it. It’s not personal. It’s not violent or aggressive. It’s a natural order of change and development. GenXers across America will do well to step into the leadership that is right and particular to them. Boomers will do well to release their grip and their assumption that because they’ve sat on turf for decades it is theirs in perpetuity. As GenXers transform from being isolated and alienated and as Boomers transform from wanting the first and last say on operational details, the rate of change and development is going to accelerate even faster than things have been moving for the last several years.

And to any Boomers who have a hard time with this, let me clue you in: We have the pressure of Millennials behind us. We’re not just asking you to move over. We’re moving on with or without you because we have to. A generation is behind us, itching to move forward as well.

Rock on, beautiful people, rock on.

___

And, no, I didn’t proofread or fact check my article.

Localized pain.

23 Jun
Photo from AP.

Photo from AP.

News of the WMATA Red Line metro crash yesterday made me stop. I was headed out from the j-o-b when I heard the first bit about the crash. I needed to talk with people. To sit in a neighborhood bar. To be in the company of people who were local and cared, people who knew others connected to this situation. People who would see it/feel it as real and local news.

Now, this may seem like a “duh” statement to some. But I don’t pay attention much to news. Any of it. That’s another story for another day, but the short of it is that I discovered — for myself — a long time ago that news stories had the effect of making me care less, not more, about the barage of human tragedy stories.

red_line_metro crash photoBut this story I felt in a highly local way. I take the Red Line. Often. I’ve been on that line hundreds of times. And in my mind’s eye, I saw the interior image of a car, and the very normal people who ride it, and I imagined the wreck. And it made my heart feel real and open and loving and caring. I could see real people in an imagined picture.

I didn’t have a true neighborhood bar to go to, so I did the next-best thing and headed to the Dobbin Starbucks. I didn’t find my DC-oriented social media posse, whom I knew would be all over the news in the blogs, connecting with friends in DC via twitter, and basically plugged in real-time. But I did see a handful of people I knew, so I had a base of human contact. They weren’t interested so much in the crash, so I went home and watched some news and read some online content, mostly blogs reporting in real time.

I found the blogs, the stories, the small accounts of individual actions most compelling: the man who helped the young girl whose legs were crushed, or the person who gathered passengers’ T-shirts to make tourniquets to stave the blood flow from injured passengers. I found I was less interested in the WMATA director says … , and DC Mayor Fenty says … and WTOP reports … Important, yes. Critical, yes. But my curiosity was much with the people.

That’s what I can identify with the most. That’s where my heart and attention lay. That’s what I wanted to know. How are the people? How did they react? What did this call forth in them? Was their panic? What acts of heroics and courage were displayed? Were people selfish or helpful?

I was comforted by the stories I heard.

Feeling lost now. Not concluded on this whole story. The names of the dead have not been released yet. And while I don’t get any particular sense of foreboding, I can feel this piece of the story is important for my own closure and peace of mind.

Trenchant observations.

3 May

Trenchant observations … Smart and spry.

That’s how my blog and I were described in today’s Balt Sun article about Howard County bloggers. Smart and spry I understood. Trenchant, while it sounded good, I had to look up on m-w.com. So, first, if you’re here reading my blog because of the article, welcome. May I offer that your curiosity may be tickled more by checking out —

Now, on to some “trenchant observations.”

While I spoke to the Sun reporter in late December or early Jan, and the photographer came to our January HocoBlogs party, I found it quite interesting that the article ran the same week the Balt Sun just laid off another round of folk (60 people this time). Interesting timing, ja? Not sure if it was conscious and specific, or just one of the juxtapositions of events that makes life a fascinating treasure hunt for meaning and connection.

I also found it interesting that while listing a number of bloggers and their website, the online version of the story included no links. Fer real. No links to outside content. Now, here’s an article about blogs, Web 2.0, connections, right. And the Balt Sun folk, dying on the vine, can’t muster the courage to trust that their audience will come back to their site if they provide links to content other than theirs.

That’s just sad.

And one more thing, the Sun sent a professional photographer to our event. I’m sure at least a dozen pics of the hundred-plus she took turned out great. She’s a professional, right? Yet the article only included links to the two pics: the same two featured in the print version. That’s just sad. People like pictures. Pictures tell stories.Traditional journalism is getting kicked in the *ss, in part, because it insists on continuing to deliver what is not highly desired by the market today.

Now, while I doubt few would advocate for the wholesale loss of journalism as an art form and business, I find myself less and less interested in the adamant insistence that the industry stay as it’s been.

And, yo, read your generational theory stuff. You’ll get what you need there, but here’s the short version: GenXers are the gen ascending into mid-life. Whatever gen is in mid-life holds cultural dominance, regardless of whether you like it. GenXers want real-now-functional-practical info, and for journalism, much of that need translates to hyper-local, real-time, access-it-anywhere news that is highly customized and personalized to the reader’s specific and individual interests. Sorry to be the breaker of bad news, but haven’t you all figured out by now that your current model isn’t working?

Anyway, remembering my manners after my minor rant, many thanks to the Sun for running the article. And, please, join us in the world of hyper-local news. We need you to survive. But you guys (read: BOOMER-dominated media organizations) won’t ever make it unless you understand that we (read: GENX-I’ll-do-what-I-need-to-do-regardless-of-how-much-you-stand-in-my-way individuals) have an equal, if not — dare I say — more important voice to express at this time in this age.

Well, that’s just my two cents, in any case.

Listservs, Web 2.0; Boomers, GenXers

19 Feb

The conversation about whether to have listservs and/or Web 2.0 dialogue has come up in my life, once again. I believe that the technologies serve very different audiences and that generational preferences and communication styles can add an informative perspective to this conversation. Below is my response to a Boomer I respect (and like) very much. I’m offering my view on why I think organizations need to have both listservs and Web 2.0 tools, at least for now and in the current constellation of generations.

***

To my Boomer friend,

Boomers (the Prophet archetype) grow up in a world, as children, where adults have put tremendous energy into public structures and systems with a focused will to do large projects that make the world better. Boomers grow up in a “world view” that says the physical structures of the world are in great order. That’s why your generation, Boomers, can call forth society to bring spiritual inquiry, values, vision and mission to the tasks at hand. And that’s what your gen does. It sees all the structures and says, “Great, but where is the heart? Where is the soul in all of this success?”

Boomers make the world better by discussion about values. Which is why Boomers tend to prefer listservs. They want to talk and discuss. To contribute their values to a larger conversation so that order will align with values. They tend to like a more closed conversation among an identified group of colleagues. They usually have an agreed-upon, albeit tacit, pecking order of sorts of who has most sway and power on the listservs. I’m going to say something that is not often discussed but is equally important, quite obvious from the GenX perspective and speaks to why an organization might want to keep a listserv going if it’s been around for a long time: Boomers have a tendency squat on turf and not move, for decades! So listservs work for them because once they squat on turf/become an active member of a a listserv (philosophical discussions, community conversations, tech boards, whatever), they’ve marked their territory, built their castle and now have a very real and emotional reason to protect it.

***

GenXers grow up in a world, as children, where adults are focused on themselves and systems are starting to fall apart. GenXers, by definition of their archetypal pattern (Nomad), grow up in a world where adults do not have their hands on the steering wheel. So the world view of GenXers is that any place there is a gap, a broken system, an inefficiency, we fix it. (I’m talking in broad generalities here, of course.) That’s why GenXers today orient on deep level to Web 2.0 technology, which allows perspective, solutions and information to be published, tagged, repurposed and spread. As well, there is an element of intelligence demonstrated in how one publishes, tags and has info move virally. While some of that motivation can be about personal branding (another HUGE orientation of GenXers), information posted in a Web 2.0 manner is available to help anyone, anywhere. This is a high value to GenXers. They need to make the world a better place — not by values and vision, as Boomers do — but by fixing and improving systems, by helping their peers navigate a world where structures are broken and older adults (as they see it) are too busy talking about vision and values. It’s part of the code of GenXers: If I fix something, I don’t need accolades, per se, but I will do my best to make sure others know how I did it, so that they can learn from me. It’s a GenX code of honor. And deep GenX values are liberty, survial and honor. And listservs, while they have their importance, don’t allow this rich movement of information. Web 2.0 tools match the GenX mindset more. They allow a newcomer, an upstart, an unknown to provide just as much — if not more — value on a subject than a long-entrenched (possibly even stale-of-thought and so-called) expert.

***

So, it’s not that one technology is better than the other. It’s that they each offer a different environment for communicating and, I offer, that there is much alignment around generational preference for the tools.

And while I would recommend that no organization abandon or shut down a list serv now while many a boomer are still actively engaged in conversations, I do offer that natural energies of effectiveness are found in aligning with generational cycles. See, whatever gen is moving into midlife (42-62 years old), that’s the gen that has cultural dominance and sets the tone and energy of where resources and power go. (Reference our brand-new GenX president for an example.)

So, what I would recommend is that a company or organization start moving toward Web 2.0 tools — and as fast as one can. Why? Because it’s what will attract the attention and contributions of GenXers. And while GenXers by their Nomad archetype are wont to lay low and stay off the radar of pesky adults, once they hit mid-life, which is happening now, their orientation toward fragmentation has to be redirected toward collective knowledge. And Web 2.0 tools are the way to do this.

The Columbia Bike Guy Fan Club

10 Sep

I found a quirky, hyper-local group on Facebook; it’s called The Columbia Bike Guy Fan Club, and it has over 1,000 members. I’m one of them.

The scoop here is that people take pictures of The Columbia Bike Guy (whose name, btw, is Athar), and then they post the pics on the Facebook group’s site. One member has even made a T-shirt that he’s selling on the site; the shirts sell for $15 and $1 goes to Athar.

columbia-bike-guy.jpg

I love Facebook. Love it. This particular group — odd as it is — makes me happy. I see T.C.B.G. around town, often. One of his haunts is one of mine: the East Branch Library, back by the huge windows, magazines and group study tables. He has a bit of “loner” energy about him, and I’ve observed some really strong iterations of his Loner-ness. I find it sweet and wonderful that people locally have found a way to reach out to him and include him. To make him part of our community in a way that, somehow, seems very appropriate and kind.

columbia-bike-guy-fan-club-t-shirt.jpg

Some of the comments in Facebook include:

every time i see this guy, it brightens up my day

and

i saw him at the mall last Tuesday… he likes to sneak around but with his giant red mohawk its kinda easy to spot him

The whole phenomenon makes me smile.

Gizmo Flushes

21 Jul

I’m an avid YouTube fan.

I simply don’t watch TV. Didn’t own a TV for about 15 years. And even when I’ve lived places with folk who have said box, I just hardly watch it except for an occasional movie. But YouTube … that’s a whole ‘nother story. I love it! Here’s one of my favorite clips. It gets funnier as the seconds clip along.

We’re Poke Buddies … it’s a Facebook thing

18 Jun

Long story, short: I’m friends, Facebook-style, with Howard Kurtz, Media Critic at The Washington Post and CNN. Officially, we’re “poke buddies.” (And, you’d really have to be a Facebook user to understand that.) I found in my FB conversations with Howard, a place and space to extrovert some of my thinking — as both a newcomer and generational outsider — about Facebook.

This morning, in one of Howard’s pieces for The Post, he quoted me, using one of my comments about Millennials and their odd-to-older-folk volume of posting in social networks. To give the quote some background, I’m republishing, here and below, what I wrote, with the quoted passage bolded. (Hey, I may not have the publishing institution of The Post behind me but I gotz my own blog, so I’ll use it.) Here goes: (Btw, I’m forgoing quotes and block quotes, as everything below this point is my writing.)

OK, so I learn about / watch / analyze generational differences like a hawk. Not that my perspective is “right” … it’s just my perspective. So, first, re: the 600 photos of oneself phenomenon, Millennials are a “very special” generation. Wanted or not, they’ve had adult attention on them in spades, since day one of their collective births. No latch-key kids here! No walking to swim team practice by themselves and swimming unobserved with nophotos taken. Nope, everything they do is important. (And, there are deeper reasons for this, as they will become our next hero generation, like the GI generation, with a natural orientation to public service.)

I do agree with you that they are smart, savvy and digitized. They are also *bright*. Bright-eyed. Bright-faced. Bright-spirited. They are also unpotentiated. (I might have made that word up.) They *will* become important. But right now, they’re kids and young adults (max age is 25) with a capacity that hasn’t been honed. And it shows very much in how they are not presenting themselves in a nice light. There’s this “I can do anything, say anything, post anything, write anything” attitude, with virtually no understanding of the repercussions (residue).

Professionally, one of my income buckets, has morphed/developed into being a strategist and consultant for how people / companies show up online? What is their online profile? How do they look when Googled? So this stuff fascinates me …

Back to showing themselves “in a nice light:” One thing, to their collective credit, is that Millennials are posting much of their 600 photos in a place that is specifically off-limits to search engines. Facebook is designed not to be searchable, and to date, the Technocratis and such, have respected Facebook’s request to leave their data alone. (I’m not a geek, so I can’t speak to the specifics of how this works.)

Millennials have put much of their voluminous, unedited, spur-of-the-moment pics, wall posts and online affiliations (groups and such) into Facebook, away from adult eyes and search engine tracking.

But now, Facebook is growing up, as its users are. Now, more adults (moms and dads), potential employers, neighbors and community members have access to profiles and means for getting more data out of Facebook.

So, will Millennials go more under ground with their social network, or will they clean up a bit and be more attentive to their profiles, such as their profiles inside social networks such as Facebook and their Google results?

There is another reason for their voluminous postings, and it has to do with WHY Millennials communicate with each other with such frequency. But I’ve already written much this morning, and I’m losing steam here.

___

You might have to have a Washington Post Online account to access the full article; it’s free. You can always read the article by friending (that’s a verb now) Howard and reading his posted notes.

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