Category Archives: Twitter

The “Windows in our Palms” and Digital Practice

There is no shortage of studies about the value or misuse of smart phones. It’s hard to find an adult who does not carry one. (For the record I know three people, and they are doing just fine!)

As a technology teacher in an elementary school, I must take into account the downside of too much tech, and too little ‘think time’ whether my students are involved in writing, weighing in during a discussion, or sometimes, even listening to instructions, undistracted by the screens to which we give them access.

These Digital Natives may rarely find a space that is free of technology, or an object or space urging them to turn to technology. For this reason I kicked off my classes with a unit on Digital Citizenship.

Technology is a tricky beast. Should we ban phones and roll out the cart of tablets? Should we discourage social media, but ask them to become familiar with ‘journaling’ a.k.a. blogging, one of the earliest forms of social media? Hmm!

Here are two pieces worth reading and watching:

“Why I quit Twitter” – Patton Oswalt, TIME Magazine 
Not just a discussion of Twitter, but a wonderful, commentary on how people are “peeping at windows in their palms.”

“Kids with cell phones. How young is too young?
A short video by CBS News about the pros and cons of cell phones for young children, and the need to model good practices, and teach ‘digital hygiene’.

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Posted by on September 3, 2014 in Education, Media, Twitter


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Now that selfies are in, can we start ignoring them?

If I see one more selfie on a national awards show, I may gag. It’s getting rather tiresome, seeing grown-ups climb aboard a bandwagon that usually has reserved seating for self-obsessed teenagers.

Sure the made-up word entered the OED last year — but so did jorts and fauxhawk in 2012. It also trumped the word ‘schmeat“, the new word for fake meat. In case you needed to click on the above link, you are probably like me, shaking your head in despair.

But to get back to selfies, yesterday on the Country Music Awards, there was a selfie moment, and we wondered whatever happened to human ingenuity. Didn’t Ellen make it clear that she owned that brightly lit space that celebs inhabit?

Just to cement the fact that we are in that moment in time when this awful word is rushing to meet us, there’s that annoying song. Obnoxious, albeit a wonderful parody of selfie culture. It’s title: “Let Me Get a Selfie.”

To add to this there’s the pres of the United States fawning over a selfie, as if it was the best thing that happened to image management –with a touch of product placement. I understand the man is desperately going after all the Likes and re-tweets he can get.

It’s time for people over 21 to calmly put away their phones and start real conversations.


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Lost in translation – when jokes go sour

With so many channels permitting us to share so much chatter, it’s alarming how people forget that what seems private could be very public. Twitter is “a village common” says David Carr, media and culture columnist for the New York Times. He considers what someone says on this channel as very public. (There is a journalistic debate on whether a tweet is actually public content.)

Humor often has a way of going wrong. If you are planning on posting a zinger remember the Aflack guy. The comedian Gilbert Gottfried, who was the voice of the duck in the Aflack commercials, made a few off color tweets soon after the tsunami in 2011. One of them was: “I just split up with my girlfriend, but like the Japanese say, “They’ll be another one floating by any minute now.” He quickly became the ex-Aflack voice.

Even a comedian ought to think before he tweets.

Speaking of humor, this joke gone wrong, involving the Dalai Lama would crack you up. Nothing offensive, but the punch line, lost in translation, just didn’t connect. Karl Stefanovic, the anchor of the Today show in Australia explains.



Hippies or hipsters protesting? Is it the seventies all over again?

‘Peace through protest’ may sound the flavor of the month, or at least the theme of 2011, considering that peaceful uprisings overturned dictators during the so-called Arab Sprint.

But it reality, this is just the old recipe, delivered to our table on new tableware.

I watched a History Channel documentary on Nixon last night, and just seeing the short powerful segments when they cut away to the anti-Vietnam movement across the country made me realize this. You could cut-and-paste the present protest on Wall Street. Except for the bandanas and peace tattoos of the seventies, the similarities are striking.

People are fed up with their politicians (81 percent of Americans are dissatisfied with the way the country is being governed; confidence in Congress has dropped). They believe that the best way to send them a message is to show up on the street with hand-painted signs and chants.

OK, so we do have web sites, Twitter hash tags (#occupywallstreet) and Facebook, but it is easy to give too much credit to the mechanical tools of movements.

  • It does help when Salman Rusdie helps out with a tweet.
  • It does help when there is speculation that the Nobel peace prize this year may recognize Arab activists.
The revolution will not be televised.   But just watching the images, and the live stream makes you wonder if the hipsters have taken notes from their predecessors.
But what does this kind of speech, and technique forebode? Watch!


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Cartoonists ought to thank Weiner, Lee et al

Social media is a gift to cartoonists and talk-show hosts. But the cherry on top is when a politician is caught using a communication tool such as Twitter in thoughtless, irresponsible ways. Such as this one of Democrat, Anthony Weiner:

No less ridiculous as the naivete of Republican, Christopher Lee:

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Let’s send our congressmen to social media boot camp

Interesting statement by the Ministry of Defense on soldiers using social media:

“We are not here to gag people, because we acknowledge the ubiquity and significant benefits that social media offers to people and the MoD.”

The warning comes at a good time, almost a bit late in the game, now that soldiers have been using a host of social media to stay in touch with their families and even the media. Now that not one, but two congressman have been caught with poor social media discretions, it’s about time for a social media boot camp for government!

Back in 2004, the military began cracking down on personal journals maintained by soldiers serving in Iraq.  Some still blog, but are not sure if they will get into trouble, as this NPR story, reveals.

This April, in the wake of Wikileaks, a Pentagon official, Doug Wilson talked about how “technology — and particularly technology at the intersection of national security — has outpaced the policy.”

My reaction was: Still? You would think thee are more policy wonks than tech people in government.

It’s not just the defense folks who have realized that policy has always been lagging as technology zips ahead. States have been facing the same problem. A national survey of social media in government found that

  • Two-thirds of survey respondents lack enterprise policies addressing social media
  • One-third of the states responding have enterprise policy standards,and are in the process of developing these
Furthermore, “relatively few have developed policies or guidelines to provide an enterprise context for managing social media tool use,” and are “completely balked by uncertainty”
Bottom line, they are seriously lagging in policy.
But the government has also stepped up, with its just released International Strategy for Cyber-security. It states that

“The United States supports an Internet with end-to-end interoperability, which allows people worldwide to connect to knowledge, ideas, and one another through technology that meets their needs.”

All this big picture stuff is well and good. Someone needs to put our elected officials in a room give them a 101 course in using digital channels. Their DIY method of using social media is turning out to be one of DYI –Damaging Yourself Irreparably.


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Filtering social media stories into ‘newspaper’

This is an interesting reverse phenomenon.

We’re used to traditional media being massaged into (‘poured into’ might be the more appropriate term) digital formats to create new distribution feeds.

So I was intrigued by the way a Swiss-based startup, Small Rivers, lets me pull in digital feeds from Twitter and Facebook, and create the look and feel of a newspaper.

Here is a look at my newspaper for today, 28 January, 2011.

Now I grant, this smacks of a vanity press affair, but if we think slightly outside of the ‘Daily Me’ the ease of generating an aggregation of  content might be give us  different approach to corporate newsletters. I subscribe to a lot of newsletters, or pull them in via an RSS reader. These custom news sheets, could be open up a new level of variable data print options, too.

Many years ago I managed a Print On Demand for a Marcom portal. It seemed liked the coolest thing at that time, but seriously lacked the kind of customization I was always asking for. That was because it lived inside a print company –tied to an Indigo machine– and not a digital content aggregator. Today, an organization with a team of writers who create content in a handful of social media channels could collaborate on a newspaper, and not even think of themselves as being in the news business. They could be marketers, researchers, videographers and bloggers whose output is turned into a news channel once a week.

No Indigo required!

In related news:


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