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Definitely Not My Last Communion

I spent the entire day today, save for a brief walk in the fresh snow with my dog, in communion. And this blog post is but a continuation of that communion. There are of course different definitions of the word, but my favorite is this: communion as the interchange or sharing of thoughts or emotions; intimate communication.

There are many detractors to social media. There are those that say that we are becoming more disconnected everyday even though through our social channels we are sharing so much, with so many. But if, when we engage those in our communities, we are being thoughtful and honest, how could this be?

Today I read probably 2 dozen blog posts, countless web pages, Facebook links and emails, mostly driven by those juicy 140 character kernels in my Twitter feed. Just about anyone who takes the time to write a blog, or create content of any type, wants to share his/her thoughts and or emotions. The great thing is that these are the people who I have chosen to commune with. A congregation of sorts.

Tomorrow I’ll probably spend the lion’s share of my day continuing to interview with potential employers, following up on emails etc. But for today, it was all about you. Thanks for taking your time to commune with me.

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In Search of Thoughtful Media

Last week while up in Northwestern Maine without a computer, I still got up to the minute “news” via my phone. For days after Kevin Smith ranted on his Twitter site about his experience at the hands of Southwest Airlines the twittersphere was inundated with everyone’s instant opinions on the matter. Links, blog posts and videos instantly spreading the story. And over that period the story kept changing.

These are the times we live in. But in a world where traditional broadcast media’s 24/7 isn’t immediate enough, do we want to model this medium in the same way? Is the need to be first in social media trumping the need to be thoughtful?

Sure, newspapers and networks have adopted the mea culpa fallback when things go awry. But usually, a well researched and thoughtful analysis of information prior to broadcasting is more beneficial for everyone. It builds trust through reliability. In our businesses, we don’t just shout out loud or repeat every idea or message to everyone within hearing distance. At home we are sure to get the whole story (both sides) before meting discipline. So why the rush?

In the end, if one steps back and considers the issue, researches the sources and takes a deep breath, many times, their contribution will be of more value. Sometimes the best way to receiving recognition is by not being the first to seek it. Think about that.

TMI, Too Busy or Just Distraction

With the introduction of Google’s Buzz application this week, I have been thrown for a loop. Not because of the inherent implications of yet another social media channel but more so by the broader effect on the mediums’ consumers as relates to overload.

It’s obvious to anyone who is reading this blog post, that I have not put my thoughts down on this blog in over 8 months. What have I been doing? Well in a word, reading. Reading all sorts of material by others. It’s a very convenient excuse to just explain it away as, “I’m too busy to write”. And at times, this may be true. But might there be just too much information out there? How can we keep up with it?

Just in the realm of the social media world alone there are over 119M blog page results listed on Google. Add to that Twitter feeds, Facebook pages, Linked In updates and whatever news media you regularly check, and it is a daunting enterprise to keep “current”. As I have been “re-branding” myself over the past 10 months, I have found loads of great information, made innumerable new contacts and even landed a few interviews, all with the help of these social media channels. I have learned much about the dos and don’ts of social media interaction. I have seen a very healthy growth in the number of “old school” print people dipping their toes into the future. And I know that for me, there is no turning back.

I love the conversations and the communities that are being formed. I am witnessing an incredible sense of knowledge sharing. And when we share what we are passionate about with those who are interested, everyone benefits. I am going to strive to keep up. Maybe I can cut down the number of blogs I read about blogging. That should give me more time.

Are You Guilty of “soloing” Too Much?

Miles Davis, the late jazz trumpeter/composer when asked about his tendency to emphasize the space between the notes when he played, replied “Don’t play what’s there, play what’s not there.” As I wend my way through the mass of content on Twitter, Facebook and other outlets, I am struck by the frequency of posts by some users. How much is too much?

If Twitter is indeed a conversation, some people just don’t know when to shut up. A conversation is between two or more people. And a conversation requires that participants listen to each other before responding with another message. It’s “what’s not there” that tells the story. It shows introspection as well as respect. The message becomes much clearer if it isn’t surrounded by all the noise.

We have all seen the “twitter flurry”. When someone logs in to their account and tries to catch up on time lost by making 10 or 15 posts in an hour. I know that when I see a stream of this type, I tune out. It’s as if someone walks into a room where people have been talking, and suddenly just rambles on, not even caring if anyone is listening, and subsequently walking out.

A good conversation is like jazz, there’s a lot of listening, learning and sharing going on. And when that happens, we all benefit.
miles_davis

Walter Cronkite’s Legacy and Social Media’s Responsibility

The death of CBS news anchor Walter Cronkite and news coverage of his storied career in the development of television journalism in the 20th century gives me pause as the world of media continues to change at breakneck speed. Especially within the realm of social media.

Everyone knows Cronkite’s title of “most trusted man in America”. And most agree, that we will never see anyone in the unique position that he held in America for over 20 years.
The very way that news is gathered and disseminated, and by whom, guarantees this.

But it also should remind us, that although there will no longer be a single, trusted source for our news, we are all now responsible for what information is disseminated. Every link, every tweet, every rumor has the potential to influence people.

In virtually every post I have read about blogging, the mandate is stated. “you must establish trust” with your readers. But maybe even more important, is that all of us as consumers of information must be trusted as well. Trusted that we will research a story before re-tweeting. Trusted that we will think about the potential consequences of a story before hitting “send”. And trusted that we will use these incredible channels of communications that sit on our desktops to do good, and not just a channel to sell goods.

One thing that Walter Cronkite gave us was a great example of what to do when given such incredible responsibility. He showed us the way, and it is now, our responsibility to respect it.

Clay Shirky: How Social Media Can Make History

Thanks to Olivier Blanchard for posting this link to a stimulating talk by Clay Shirky in a TED conference. Shirky explains how this new media is, “global, social, ubiquitous and cheap”. How the conversation has opened up in a way that, “the former consumers (of media) are now producers”. And that there is no turning back.

Who Has Time for Social Media?

Okay, I get it. Everybody has a Facebook site now. I’ve already heard it said it’s for “old people”. And LinkedIn is for professionals to use for networking. Twitter is pointing people to blogs and websites on every corner of the globe talking about everything imaginable. A lot of this content is extremely good, some, not so much. There are a lot of very good writers, experts in their fields and gurus tapping away at their keyboards filling us with our insatiable need for information. So who has time for social media? Well right now, unfortunately, I do. And it’s still not enough time to keep up.

I have been spending the better part of the last 2 months in my home office, pushing the limits to what my eyes can take, reading, researching, bookmarking (yeah that looks like an article I need to read let me bookmark it for later) and tweeting. And I’ve done this all  in the pursuit of understanding where and what social media is and where it is headed. And what it holds for me.

Are people spending hours at their desks checking their Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn sites? Are they reading their favorite blogs? If so, who’s minding the store? All this content is being pushed around, and I am wondering who is reading it? Well I guess since the unemployment rate is in the 10 percent range, there’s a whole lot of people. Besides me, that is.

When I initially began thinking about this post, the title question was rhetorical. But I guess I really would like to hear some answers. Where do you find time for all this information? Comments?


As Bill Tweets

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