Digital Literature: Faster, Better, Cheaper, Poorer….

kid reading an ipad

Shh, I’m reading. (image by Gunjan Karun)

I finally have an iPad!

Yes, that took a while. Because although I live at the intersection of communications and digital everything, I also happen to be on a budget and think gadgets (including, and sometimes especially my beloved Apple products) cost way too darn much. But as it turns out, I’d been enrolled in one of those credit card rewards programs, and I had no idea. Which means I’d racked up the points for years. Which means I had enough to get an iPad. So I did. And there was much rejoicing in the land!

There was also the rediscovery of why, although I am agnostic and will use whatever technology both works and fits the budget, Apple continues to induce that gasp-inducing reaction with great design. The iPad came out of the box fully charged, and in fact, came on when I accidentally hit the power button while trying to get the packaging off. First I was surprised. Then I was set up. Took me a whole 5 minutes. It was an object lesson in how to win my dollars and loyalty: Make. It. Easy.

Then I tried to use the iPad for the purpose for which it is most intended in my house – reading books. Specifically, from the library.  That took longer. [Read more…]

“Software Bug” is the new “Dog ate my homework.”

Mote Marine Lab Distance Learning

They eventually grow up, no?

On the heels of my weekend ramblation about content and privacy comes this piece in the NYT about digital content in the college classroom.

Bottom line, your professor can now tell if you’ve done your reading.

Really? I can’t help but think this an awful development.

Yes, this is going to be very valuable for textbook authors and teachers who think they’re more interesting than they’ve been led to believe. And if the entire class never looks at chapter 3, that’s probably telling.

But honestly, the bigger point is this – it’s not the professor’s job to check on you in college. It’s your job as a student to figure out who you are, set your own goals, do your own work, and oh yeah, be on top of your reading. And good educators – whether they’re teaching in person or online – probably communicate and check in with students, and don’t need analytics to tell them when a chapter, or a whole class, is falling flat.

Then again, I didn’t go to college understanding I was watched all the time because I’m older than dirt in Internet years. So what do I know?

A Ramblation: On “Linear Television,” Disappearing Books, And Privacy

I was going to write a post on food insecurity upon Ken Mueller‘s suggestion. Then life – and under the weatherness – intervened and between things, I found myself sucked into a fascinating discussion on Ken’s Facebook feed this weekend about print newspapers, paywalls, and content. I’m not going to write about those particular things because a) he’d do it better as someone with wider experience in newsrooms and production, and b) I experience that whole subject more as a consumer, for whom it’s sort of a done deal.


We are a one-TV house. And come fall, we may well be a no-cable house.

Meanwhile, I think the parallel, but somewhat more interesting conversation to me—because I might just cut the cord this summer—is the one happening about “linear television” watching

If you know me, you know that I adore TV. [Read more…]

Augmented Reality: “Yo, Heads Up!”


“Erm, hello? I’m up here.”

I spent yesterday at xPotomac – thank you, Shonali Burke, for telling me about it! – where there was a lot to love. I made new friends, I learned a ton, (I didn’t get lost – yay!), but the part I loved the most was easily the discussion on augmented reality. AKA Google Glasses, “wearable computing,” and similar devices. I’m going to thumbnail it here because there was just SO much ground covered between presentation, lightning round, and post-chat into lunch. But basically, a lot of us are ready to look up from our devices, we’re ready to stop looking like we’re metal detectors, we’re ready interact with each other rather than to each other. [Read more…]

Guy Kawasaki Agrees – Get An Editor

You want to know why you should hire me to edit and proof your work? Guy Kawasaki found about 28,000 reasons why while writing his latest book, A.P.E.

cuties here are cold...


Let me explain. [Read more…]

Where Ya At?

Volunteer Corn

Lots of stories to tell. Now to write about them all! (photo courtesy of mrsdkrebs)

It’s a fair question. The short answer is, I’ve been writing for my living. More often than not at Razoo’s Inspiring Generosity. Where they like me, they really really like me!

Of course, this means that I now have two come up with two posts a month – less time for dawdling, pedaldpedalpedal!

And so, I am (shamelessly) reaching out. Is there a great cause you think could use more eyeballs? People doing awesome things to improve their communities or make a difference? If there is a story of social good that you want to see get light of day, tell me – I’d love to write about it.

This week, I’m looking forward to writing up my notes on Street Sense, and if I make that deadline with time to spare (hah!) an app that might make a difference to the homeless. And yes, that is because I tend to think that stories about poverty, homelessness, and food insecurity get less and less attention – even though all three are more pervasive than ever. Talk to me. Let’s change that*.

Thank you!

*Of course, if you could also point me towards a magic wand that’ll help me make more hours in the day, that’ll also be greatly appreciated. 

RWD and Mobile – One Site To Rule Them All!

I went to a seminar on Responsive Web Design last night, hosted by DCWW, and presented by Clarissa Peterson. You’re probably thinking what I did when I first heard the term,”Responsive what?” So here goes…

In short – and keep in mind I’m nearly always reliably the sole non/accidental techie in the room – RWD is what will free your website design and interactivity from the restraints of one screen and one canvas. No more building a separate mobile website, and yet another for the iPad, and who knows whatever is next! You build ONE website in RWD, which enables anyone, anywhere to use it on any screen they have access to, without have to pinch, squinch, or enlarge the screen. One site to rule them all! [Read more…]

Timeline: Ready Or Not, Here It Comes

Every time I think “a monkey could do this” I go to a meeting and am astonished by what people don’t know about social media. Okay, maybe it’s more like a reality check in how we’re not all wired, and why that’s perhaps a very good thing as summer approaches. (My neighborhood routinely loses power during summer thunderstorms.) So, despite the fact that there is no dearth of articles out there on the Interwebs, here is my take on why you need to get into timeline now.

Facebook Timeline cover of Lydia Polgreen of the NYT

facebook timeline cover of Lydia Polgreen of the NYT

“Timeline what?” you say?

Long story short, Facebook is once again changing things. Specifically, they’re changing how your page looks – not your newsfeed – regardless of whether it’s your personal account or your company page. The distinction between the page and the newsfeed is extremely important because for marketers and consumers alike, it’s all about how we’re getting our news.

If you the consumer “liked” a page, timeline seems to make no difference in how you get news. It certainly hasn’t to me and I’ve not only published my personal timeline, but done the same for the several pages I manage for clients. Oh, and I’ve “liked” a LOT of pages over the last few years, some of whom have also launched timeline. As someone who gets a lot of information first from Facebook, I haven’t see any difference in my newsfeed.

As if to drive home this point, Julia Quinn who I follow on Facebook recently asked how many of us get our information from her page vs. our newsfeeds. Overwhelmingly, most of us said newsfeed – that would the part of social engagement that hasn’t changed on Facebook. Once people hit the “like” button they rarely go back to your page.

Caffe Amouri's Facebook Page

No reason to look at my local coffee shop's page once I've "liked" it - everything shows up in my feed. Unless I want to check out the new timeline or for some reason see the page with different eyes. Unlikely.

In fact, if you do your job well as a marketer or broadcaster, I shouldn’t have to go back to your original page to find out what you’re up to or what you’re offering. Unless I’m being all nosy and want to see your new timeline cover! Or you annoy me. In which case, I’ll visit specifically to “unlike” you.

dislike one finger salute

Let's not.

So if you’re an individual, you may not need to care*. It’ll be one of those things Facebook rolls out on you whether you’re ready or not. If you’re not entirely annoyed, you’ll complain and then just go along with it. Or deactivate, if this really is the last straw for you. Because *timeline, like any Facebook “improvement” tends to reset, rearrange, and reorganize your personal information and privacy settings. Even if you don’t need to care, have a care. See what your page looks like to others, even if your privacy settings are way high.

But if you’re running a page for a company though, you absolutely need to care. Because timeline changes how your page’s information is presented, where the emphasis lies, where you can direct people, and how you can emphasize information and for how long. It changes how and where you can offer specials and deals and calls to action. And it’s far more visual – which is a huge element of your branding and first impressions.

Timeline simultaneously offers up much more of you and your product even as it constrains how you can use the medium. Which means it requires you – the marketer – to be a lot savvier and sophisticated about how you communicate your story. And that, my friends, is the operative word. Facebook’s timeline makes us all, forces us all, to be better storytellers. It forces us to point to what’s really important, and keeps us on our toes about keeping our pages fresh. And it forces us to pay more ongoing attention to people who wander over to our pages but haven’t “liked” it yet. No wonder there have not just been a plethora of articles on the subject and webinars that go into the nitty gritty of timeline and what it means for marketing.

Timeline happens to your page – whether you like it or not – on March 30. If you’re an individual with a personal account, pay attention because of privacy issues. If you’re a page administrator, pay attention because otherwise, you’ll be the org that got caught by surprise, or worse!

Here are a few links that cover the details of timeline and what it means for you or your page. But for my money, nothing beats Amy Porterfield’s webinar.


Pinterest And Napster

Pinterest and Napster – two words I absolutely do not want to hear in the same breath!

I was introduced to Pinterest last summer and promptly got sucked in. But there have been plenty of issues with the newest social media darling. Not the least of which are pesky copyright issues. Perhaps that’s why they’ve yet to figure out things like admin privileges – a la Facebook Pages – because I’m starting to get the question from clients and colleagues: “Should I have a Pinterest page?” To which I usually say, “Let’s figure out how to protect the visual content from copyright issues first.”

There are some basics on how to play it safe on Pinterest:

  • Always give credit – at the original source.
  • If someone doesn’t want to be pinned, respect that!
  • Check out the terms of the website – they may not have “no pin” code worked in, but if their terms clearly say that you’re not to use their images unless under certain conditions, or perhaps not at all, that’s all the warning you get.
  • Watermarking your own original content. It is the only assurance you have that your content will be shared but with credit to you.
Vidya Balan wearing Sabyasachi from High Heel Confidential

Vidya Balan wearing Sabyasachi - watermarked from High Heel Confidential, a favorite Bollywood/fashion blog

Needless to say, the Pinterest peace starts with me. So I’m off to go and de-pin a bunch of beautiful things of my own boards. Because I’ve no idea where the originals came from. Then I will be spending the afternoon learning how to watermark everything, not just for me but for clients as well. After which, I’m going to enjoy Pinterest and keep exploring the world in pictures until I’m forced to shut it down. Which I fervently hope doesn’t happen.

Dear sweet Pinterest, please please please clean up your act so you don’t get Napstered!


Blocking Pinterest From Your Site – Should You Be Able To? And Should You?

Question of the day – should you be able to opt out of Pinterest and block people from pinning images off your site?

Insta-response – Uh, yes.

Short answer – It’s a free country and if you don’t want your site to be pinned or pushed in a way you didn’t approve, that is absolutely to be respected. Conversely, you DON’T have a right to just use someone’s content against their permission or wishes. That’s all there is to it.

Long answer – You have a right to protect your content or determine the terms under which is it shared. But is there a reason why you’re being so protective that you’re refusing what is, in effect, free advertising? That too on a social media platform that’s on everyone’s radar at the moment? That part, I do not get – and would love for you to tell me about more in the comments section. [Read more…]