Category Archives: IABC

Humanize Your Communication – Presentation from IABC Phoenix event

When you are online do you act like a Visitor or Resident?

I sometimes joke that, whenever I hear the phrase “If Facebook was a country (often said to impress that a huge chunk of humanity is online), I am tempted to say...“I would quickly seek asylum somewhere else!”

That was one of the points I raised at my discussion with members of IABC Phoenix last Thursday, at their luncheon meeting. The point was not just about Facebok, per se, but about what it means to be a “resident” in a hyper-social world.

Interestingly enough, it’s something I touch on now, when teaching students in the computer and technology lab –my 6th grade class– what it means to be a digital citizen: Their roles, and expectations. We often have to ask ourselves: do we trade one of these for the other?

  • Visitor or Resident?
  • Antenna or Amplifier?
  • Symmetric or asymmetric?
  • Ambient Intimacy or “Alone Together”

Prezi - Chat Republic - IABCPhoenix

For those who have asked: Here’s a link to last my presentation: Humanizing Your Communication.” It’s hosted on Prezi. So much more interesting that PowerPoint.

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Posted by on February 24, 2014 in Chat Republic, IABC, Social Media


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Win a free copy of Chat Republic. Send your question to @IABCPhoenix

Angelo Fernando - Chat Republic

It’s been just 3 months since my book Chat Republic launched in the U.S., and there are some interesting developments that obviously did not get discussed:

  • The raison d’être and privacy issues over dating games such as Tinder
  • The flurry over crypto-currency‘ (BitCoin)
  • The hashtag ‘noise’ emanating from every possible event (such as the Bieber-crazy #Beliebers)

What burning question do you have about where social media is taking us? I’m speaking at an IABC Phoenix event tomorrow

Post your question to @IABCPhoenix and @heyangelo

If your question is picked, you’ll receive a free copy of Chat Republic. 

(You don’t need to be atending the event to win!)


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‘TMI’ may stand for Too Many Infographics

For a recent article in  CW magazine I interviewed Alberto Cairo of who teaches at the University of Miami, FL.

One of the questions I asked him was if infographics was being over-used today.  His answer was an unconditional yes! Tons of substandard projects, in fact.

There are “dozens of dubious graphics and “infoposters” that were not designed as tools to aid cognition and understanding,” he said. The problem? People think that by just compressing numbers side by side with ‘cute illustrations’ they could come up with an infographic.

If you like to read more about from Cairo, who’s the director for infographics and multimedia, here’s a link to my article. He’s also got a great blog, a companion to his upcoming book, Functional Art.

He refers to my interview with him in a post, A conversation on marketing, PR and infographics. He makes a great point there. That all this massaging of information is not bringing out the clarity we need. Especially when infographics are being “designed to attract eyeballs with bells-and-whistles.” In my interview he put it another way. “Infographics’ first goal is not to be cool, but to be understandable, readable, useful, and deep.”

I just came across one of these bells-and-whistles infographics. It is on the Kony 2012. I’m not sure what the purpose is and how it really helps us to know how the Kony interest stacks up with other, trivial YouTube videos. Here’s the link to that.

Compare that to this, below, posted by Cairo. It’s a work in progress, by students at a workshop. But you get the drift.

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Posted by on April 12, 2012 in IABC, Social Media


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Human Microphones thwart heavy-handed bans

I’ve always been tempted to play with IABC‘s tagline, “Be Heard.” Do we business communicators really want to be the noise makers and talking heads? Or do we rather want to be the ‘inside voice’ of business strategy?

That’s why when I first began paying attention to the ‘Occupy” movement (OWS and its franchises  Occupy Oakland, Occupy Denver, Occupy Phoenix etc) I argued that we shouldn’t be too hasty to think of them as a fringe movement craving  just to be heard. Hard to pigeon hole, it was too easy to dismiss them because they didn’t fit the model of activist movements. I was reminded of  something innovators have reminded us from time to time. Disruptive ideas do not stem from existing templates. Marshall McLuhan put it well when he observed “I don’t know who discovered water, but it wasn’t a fish.”

Watching OWS evolve, it is interesting to see how they are inventing a  new template for being heard. Make that being taken seriously. They may be leaderless, but have found ways to have their own media team, financial system, and trademark bids. And I don’t mean media in the way we tend to think of it -the kind that come with a lens, a ‘like’ button, or segmented followers.

Much of the media we see being used in these movements are crude hand written signs.

When OWS group figured out that since electronic speakers and microphones are banned in public places (or require special permits) they created what’s known as the ‘Human Microphone’ –basically humans, en mass, repeating something a speaker says so that the sentences get carried across vast spaces of crowds. It sounds like a messy echo, but it is richer than the echo-chamber.

They have also begun another remarkable project in amplification: they are printing their own newspaper. Ok, that’s not new media. But it’s old media in a brand new way. (The fact that it is called, provocatively, the ‘Occupy Wall Street Journal’ may be a brilliant stroke of creativity.) But what really interests me is how they could do it with no real editorial hub, no newsroom, heck, no editor! (CORRECTION: See comment from Jen Sacks, below.)

There’s a livestream, of course, and someone who amounts to a news anchor.

How will this change media? Even if you’re not directly working in the media how this movement works with the groundswell will become one of the most lasting tutorials for anyone wanting to be heard.


Posted by on November 6, 2011 in Disruptive, IABC, Journalism, Social Media


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Messing around in class

Where is the classroom headed?

Having spent the past 20 some years around practitioners of the Montessori method (my wife runs a school) it has been interesting to observe how the ‘revolutionary’ advances in education today borrow heavily from the principles established by Maria Montessori.

So when I approached the topic for a long feature on how progressive educational institutions are planning to better engage students, I had this at the back of my mind. Moves to increase student engagement, and attempts to nudge the ‘sage off the stage,’ and student directed teaching appear to fit well with how Maria Montessori envisioned education. It’s also why some colleges and schools are quietly incorporating social media.

According to a 2010 survey from the Educause Center for Applied Research, 40 percent of undergraduates report updating wikis, and 25 percent use social bookmarking.

The article, titled “Messing around in class”  was published in Communication World magazine. I am truly grateful to three people I interviewed.

You can find a PDF of the article here.


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Tablets, digital media coming to a school near you

I have been covering the intersection of technology and education recently, and have interviewed some amazing people at the forefront of the changing classroom.

One of them was Hans Aagard, senior technologist at Purdue University, Indiana. I was intrigued by that university’s approach –plunging in with a social networking application called Hot Seat. It is being used not just on campus, but in the classroom, while the lecture is in progress.

But yes, we are running into mixed signals.

  • While some teachers get their students to create content for topics that have been poorly covered or badly written in Wikipedia, many schools ban on students using Wikipedia.
  • A 2010 survey found that 62.7 percent of US undergraduates surveyed say they owned an Internet-capable handheld device, but many universities have signs posted outside lecture halls about turning off cell phones and electronic devices.
  • Faculty worry that too many screens in class could be distracting to the student and to others, while some high schools have made tablets and laptops integral to the learning experience.

More on this soon. My article was just published in a Sept-Oct issue of Communication World magazine.

So it was a pleasant surprise to see the subject “What Will School Look Like in 10 Years?” taken up in the New York Times  last week. I was particularly interested in the comment by David Silvernail, dir. at the Center for Education Policy, Applied Research and Education. He would rather schools invest in small amounts of technology …to teach students process skills, not just plunking shiny objects in their backpack and expecting them to automatically become smarter. Is he swimming upstream?

I have to admit I have mixed feelings on this.

I teach a robotics class in elementary school. For the past few classes I have been driving  home the importance of research. Finding solutions to problems they never knew existed.  I send them off to encyclopedias, dictionaries and other print material -on purpose. I could easily get them to log on to computers and search –there are more than 20 PCs in the room! But that would be too easy. I don’t want to hold up a think-outside-the-box mantra for problem solving and stick them in front of a… box!


Are you surfing the web or swimming in print?

My recent column in CW (Communication World) magazine is the beginning of what has become an introspective view of where we are headed with all this digital content seeping out of every pore. I borrowed the headline from a campaign for the magazine industry that uses the word ‘swimming’ (in print) to compare it to what they suggest is a less engaging online experience of surfing.

The point I suggest is that we are creatures (and should be connoisseurs) of both worlds.

Download the article here.

The follow up to it will take it further – dealing with ‘Content Snacking!’

If you think that’s a fascinating phrase, consider the phrase ‘Micro Boredom.’ I had not heard of it before. Apparently it had been used by Motorola a few years back.