My Top 10 Social Media Moments

Over the years, social media has challenged, amused, embarrassed, inspired and enlightened me. In no particular order (but numbered, so I can call it a “top-10” list) here are some of my favorite moments:

10. Opting out of a page in ” the Facebook” in early 2005 with the quip, “I just don’t see why anyone would want one.” doh.

9. Sending what was meant to be a funny tweet about spending my 12th night in a month at JFK’s Terminal 5, only to get a reply from someone I didn’t even know 5 minutes later confirming my *prepaid* reservation at the Marriott down the street.

8. Discovering the Twitter backchannel at an academic conference–and getting WAY more value out of it than I ever had from any plenary, panel, or keynote.

7. Watching bloggers who had never actually met greet each other like long-lost sisters the first day of a social media conference. Being baffled. And then doing it myself the next year.

6. Finally “getting” Facebook as dozens of people from my graduating class (most of whom were never really “friends” in high school) came together to support a classmate whose baby daughter was born with a hole in her heart.

5. Watching a dozen inner-city teenagers actually fact-check–and spell-check–their homework, because their audience was the world (aka Wikipedia)…instead of just their over-earnest teacher.

4. Being brought up on stage and called out as the only person in the audience of a social media conference still rocking the flip phone.

3. Seeing my blog called “wise and delightful” in a tweet from someone I would have been tempted to faun over had I we ever been in the same room.

2. Realizing that one of the projects we’d funded through TippingBucket had helped to launch the Arab Spring.

1. Signing the check for our first $1,000,000 crowd-funded grant. (This one hasn’t happened yet. But it will.)

Those are my moments…
What are some of yours?

Too Busy to Blog

too busy to blog
Lately, whenever I think to myself, “I really need to start blogging again,” the mental response has been instant and consistent: I’m too busy.

The revelation here is that while I do lead a full (borderline overflowing) life, it’s not actually scheduling that makes me “too busy” to do some of the things I’d really like to do. In fact, for me, “busy-ness” doesn’t have much to do with time at all.

Busy, for me, is a mind game. Come to think of it, last time I had this revelation I think I called it “cognitive white space.” (yes, I am apparently an exceptionally slow learner)

Feeling “too busy to blog” is less about the time to sit at the computer and write and more about the mental state to come up with something worth writing. When I feel “too busy,” what I’m really experiencing is a mind too cluttered, too frantic to process my life. When mentally too busy, I can’t step back and take in the big picture, make connections and weave meaning out of my somewhat schizophrenic interests and engagements. The peculiar corollary is that with a “free” (that’s the opposite of “busy,” right?) mind, I seem to develop an astonishing capacity to take what we typically think of as “busy-ness” (the calendar variety) in stride.

And just like the kind of busy-ness that has to do with blocks of time on the calendar, this kind of “busy” is entirely up to me.

Water Wings for the Social Stream: Blogging

Anyone can blog. But blogging that’s more than ranting, regurgitation, or simply routine is well, rare. Here are some practical tips from our public relations and social media mentors on how to RAISE the quality [and the impact] of your posts.

Relevant: The most important, and most overlooked question to ask about any piece of writing is SO WHAT? Why does the topic matter to your reader–if it doesn’t yet, why should it? Anything that doesn’t communicate that in the first few sentences probably isn’t worth reading…or writing.

Actionable: No one becomes a guru, or a witch-doctor, or a highly-successful consultant without making a concrete difference to people. Thinking through possible applications and spelling them out for the reader will help them realize [and recognize] the value of your content.

Imaginative: Blogging should be fun! [and blog posts should be fun to read, but that’s not an automatic corollary] As Tom Davenport points out in his very fun recipe for good online content a dash of humor and a pinch of personal context go a long way. So does a fresh, unexpected perspective looking energetically beyond the typical.

Short!: In a world defined in 140 characters, people with time and inclination to read essays are few and far between. 250 words or less. Period.

Erudite. Do become an expert–just don’t talk like one. Contribute, explain what you know, but do it simply, accessibly. Which probably means you shouldn’t use words like erudite.

My Mom, the Blogger

This weekend, Mama came to visit and we set her up a blog. This is quite a step. Until this weekend, Mama’s internet usage was pretty much restricted to checking email every couple of days–the online purchase of a plane ticket required a step-by-step walkthrough over the phone (sorry, Mama.) She’s been a brave immigrant, but I wouldn’t have called her technologically adventurous…until now.

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