IT vs Digital

Oddly enough this question has come up a lot for me lately. Not sure why…but 4x in 3 weeks counts as a trend I need to google. There is not a ton out there that describes this as succinctly as I see it in my head but this blog really captures is short and sweet. …

IT = Internal Systems to serve employees and security

Digital = External systems to serve marketing and consumers

Great read.


“So what’s the difference between IT and Digital?”

That’s a heck of a googly to receive at the end of a 90 minutes workshop. (For American readers, a googly in cricket is what a curveball is in baseball, but we Brits don’t play baseball. We play rounders. When we are seven.) Anyway, an interesting question, and another good example of how the best way to learn something is try and explain it to something else; here’s roughly what I said…

IT (information technology) is what has built up over many years within organisations to describe the technology and management required to deliver computer systems to support the internal operations of a business or organisation. Commonly the IT department ran everything (or managed the contracts with third parties who delivered part or all of the service).

Digital is one of those words that is essentially meaningless, but has evolved over the…

View original post 742 more words

Marketing Analysis: There are over 15,000 jobs available and nobody to fill them. But I’m so happy we will once again have plenty of coal.

Yep. 15,000.  That is the approximate total number of jobs that come up when you type in the terms google analytics, marketing data analyst, and advertising data analyst.  Go broad and just type in Data Analyst? 50k. FIFTY THOUSAND JOBS OPEN.

imagesI don’t write often and when I do it’s very obvious I’ve had a bad week. Or maybe month. That something has really “gotten my goat”. Today it is this. Data and the lack of people available to analyze it.

Oh I know – everyone is talking about big data. It will save us, it will kill us, who needs it eventually Watson will be inside every home and he will kick Alexa’s butt to the curb — blah blah blah. But I’m just talking about small data.  The kind of data that organizations who have just really started to pay attention and focus on their digital activities past the number of Facebook followers are now looking at.

Simple data. What is making people sign up at my website? Where is my website traffic coming from?  And it’s smart smart SMART people who can’t figure this out. PHD’s. People who own franchises. People who are qualified to invest your retirement money. People who work with OTHER kinds of data — but not marketing data. Not digital marketing data. I’m talking about people who can’t afford a 15,000 per month attribution system. I’m talking about medium to small sized businesses who are now feel like they have to have Stanford level Master’s degrees to implement a Google Goal Funnel.

Can someone explain to me why Google can’t just open up training centers around the country – physical ones. Not online. Not self motivated. But guided, hand holding training centers to help people get trained on these types of entry level support gigs. For free.  I’m mean it ultimately helps them — the more the world installs GA the more advertising they can sell against it.

But no. We are as a nation focused on reopening coal mines. Nobody talks about the fact that there are in fact jobs and we don’t make an effort to train people to fill them — corporate america doesn’t even make an effort to train people in service of their own needs.

What if corporate America worked like the Army sometimes? Hey – we will send you to college or to a technical training program for two years – but then you sign on and you work for us for 5 years.  How many people would sign on for that? I would have to imagine a lot. Look at the success of Teach For America. Everyone wants to privatize government programs. Private Corporate Data Analyst Scholarship Programs. There’s a program.

Sure we have STEM programs. You can’t go anywhere without hearing how important STEM is….but its not enough. We can’t wait for a 12 year old to make it out of the STEM system and when they do — they will most likely think “I’m going to invent an app and be the next Mark Zuckerberg”. Well…someone has to work for the next Mark Zuckerberg and they are not being trained.  This is a thought that is very related to a great article I read this weekend about how “leadership” is overused and the college admissions community needs to find value in followers too. It’s by Susan Cain, who is my hero as a champion for introverts.

Rant over.

I’m off to see if I can add more solar panels to my roof in defiance of today’s announcement.


New Year New Blogging Resolution 

Every year I say this is the year I will blog. But I think this is actually the year. Why? Because I’ve quit social media. Well….I’ve quit Twitter and Facebook. Pictures of sunsets and decorating projects and fabulous meals will continue to thrive on Instagram and Pinterest. These seem to be somewhat safe “politic free” zones. And yes I could hanger who I follow and change my friend settings. But it would still creep in. The malaise my people are feeling, the frustration, the disbelief, the depression! 

So I quit. And quite frankly I think I’m happier. If anything really really big happens I’m going to get a New York Times alert. I still listen to NPR in the car but not every day. And I am calmer. Less stressed out. 

Found the below article and am happy to know that it’s not just me. I think this past year took it out of a lot of us who engage on a regular basis. And like those in this article I’m not sure when I’ll go back. I know I’m missing people’s birthdays and vacation photos (my dear friend from college went on safari and when I found out while sitting at dinner with her I thought – wow. I am SO OUT OF TOUCH) but I think it’s ok. I think it’s good to get rid of the FOMO. It’s good to be zen. And Instagram and Pinterest have such a different purpose that I still feel engaged – just differently. I’m following more art, more museums, more food. I’m tempted to follow news organizations but truly what can they say with one photo. Do I really need to see “the orange one” clogging my feed up? I think not. For now it will be art art and more art and any beautiful shots from friends and family. A picture says a thousand words and the words on Instagram and Pinterest are so much gentler…..all good….for now. 
So I’ll blog. Because there will be things I want to share past a photo. And I’ll just do it here. Even if  only I have four readers. After all social media is really about the “me” and not about “the you” right?

Postelection, Overwhelmed Facebook Users Unfriend, Cut Back

November 20, 20166:34 AM ET


By Alina Selyukh

Rachael Garrity posted a farewell message on Facebook. She told her “friends” — that’s how she puts it in an email to NPR, in quotes — that she would delete her account. An email from her son followed: Are you OK?

“I am finding Facebook to have a negative impact on my continuing to keep a positive feeling regarding some of the people I have known longest and cherish most,” writes Garrity, who has worked in not-for-profit marketing and publishing since the 1970s.
I unfriended nearly everyone. … I am building my own wall now.

Susan Brubaker Knapp, Mooresville, N.C.

Garrity was one of more than 150 people who have shared their stories with NPR, recapping how they are recalibrating their attitude toward social media after this year’s election. Donald Trump’s surprise victory ended an emotional roller-coaster of a presidential race, which has left Facebook, Google and Twitter scrambling to rein in a proliferation of fake news and harassing behavior.
“What was really shocking to me was how many people who I consider to be smart were sharing things that were not so smart, definitely obviously fake but matched whatever viewpoint that they pushed or agreed with,” says Michael Lowder. He’s Garrity’s grandson — and he shared her story with NPR because, true to her word, she has quit Facebook, where NPR posted the call-out.
From Hate Speech To Fake News: The Content Crisis Facing Mark Zuckerberg


From Hate Speech To Fake News: The Content Crisis Facing Mark Zuckerberg

As for himself, Lowder has no plans to abandon social media, and a few people wrote in to say they are actually doubling down, regretting not speaking out more before the election, or feeling freed to speak their minds now that Trump is president-elect, or finding support in like-minded communities.
But the vast majority of emails — some of them nearing 1,000 words in length — read like testimonials to a therapist: I’m having a hard time focusing. I have questioned my friendships. I can’t stop scrolling. I’m exhausted. One email to NPR ended with: “It was good to get that off my chest.” People are turning off TVs (one even canceled her cable — mass media are not off the hook, either), deleting social apps from their phones, rationing time spent on Facebook and Twitter, and shrinking their digital friend lists.
Facebook felt like a summit on a frustrating, drawn-out illness, all of my friends doctors of their own dogma.

Emily Prymula, Wadsworth, Ill.

Facebook is a source of news for a majority of American adults, but in the vitriol and propaganda of the 2016 election, its proverbial public square for many users has devolved into a never-ending Thanksgiving-dinner debate — or an omnipresent Speakers’ Corner. As Lowder says his father put it, opining on social media is the equivalent of shouting off a soapbox in the street: a declaration, rather than discussion.
This view, of course, cuts against the way Facebook views itself. “Friends and family come first” was said to be its guiding value in a shakeup of the news feed algorithm revealed in June.
Susan Brubaker Knapp from Mooresville, N.C., writes:
“The day after the election, the hate and darkness got to be too much. I unfriended nearly everyone. Now I have three friends: my husband and children. … I do hold (Facebook) responsible for helping to spread disinformation that contributed to both the election results and the level of vitriol and hate in this country. I am building my own wall now.”

A similar sentiment from Todd Neigum:
“(The election) simply turned me off of Facebook. I started by unfollowing people I’ve known for 40 years. Neighbors, friends, family doesn’t mean I have to wade through untold numbers of gloating, trashtalking, flamethrowing posts.”

Much of the consternation does come from supporters of Hillary Clinton, who find themselves inundated and overwhelmed by news about a candidate they oppose. But then there are people like Tin Samuel, a tech consultant from Kansas City, Mo., who did vote for Trump.
Zuckerberg Denies Fake News On Facebook Had Impact On The Election


Zuckerberg Denies Fake News On Facebook Had Impact On The Election

Back in 2015, Samuel set up a second profile, splitting his closest connections from more professional ones, theoretically carving out a space to comfortably express his opinion. It hasn’t worked out that way, he writes, as people who disagree with him “lob insults” and he has found he’s censoring himself on both profiles:
“It’s not just strangers that are engaging in this kind of behavior. It’s people I’ve known for 20 years. … It’s one thing when you’re insulted by a stranger on an NPR or CNN newsfeed. It’s quite another when you’re being threatened by someone who knows where you live. …

“For the rest of the year at least, I’m going to stop talking about politics altogether online, and focus on the topics and things that I find more interesting. Technology, silly cat memes, Brazilian dance music, and food videos. You know, all that stuff the internet was always supposed to be about to begin with.”

And actually, a few people have reported creating a dual presence on the platform, turning to a new profile void of political pages and opinionated friends or family. Writes health care worker Jackie Prack from Greenville, S.C.:
“The election was the last straw for me. In the days after, all I saw was hate. From both sides. … I decided that day to get rid of my original Facebook and create my ‘new’ Facebook … full of running, bikes, breweries, cat videos, satire, art, music, hiking, food, and good people. … If the world is falling apart, my head is solidly in the sand right now … and it’s nice down here.”

Rationing of social media time has been a common response, too.

Greg Jeffers, a teacher from Rowlett, Texas, describes himself as a “deeply religious” person and a social conservative — he voted for Evan McMullin, a former CIA officer who is a Mormon. Jeffers says before the election, he obsessively shared “every article I was reading on Facebook” and getting into arguments with friends and friends of friends, who as conservatives supported Trump.
Unlike many users struggling to burst or embrace ideological bubbles formed on Facebook, Jeffers faced a different challenge:
“Since (Trump) won, I realized I would have at least four more years of being ideologically separated from my tribe. I also realized that I had become a meaner, more cynical person. …

“I decided not to totally delete Facebook. It really is a good way to stay in touch with people. But, I did decide to have my wife change my password. And I decided that I would allow myself an hour a week (30 minutes on Saturday and 30 minutes on Tuesday or Wednesday) to peruse Facebook and stay caught up.”

Jeffers writes that he’s thinking of shifting his time from Facebook arguments to something practical, spending time with his wife and daughters, his students, his church family. “Maybe I can, through my church, teach ESL to refugees,” he writes.
Did Social Media Ruin Election 2016?


Did Social Media Ruin Election 2016?

And then there’s Emily Prymula from Wadsworth, Ill., who says, in her rebound from social media overdose, she began researching how to run for local elected office: “I can’t make a difference or change someone’s opinion through a Facebook discussion, but I can do so through being present in my community.”
She describes herself as an independent, which she says turned her news feed into an “ideological battleground”:
“Facebook felt like a summit on a frustrating, drawn-out illness, all of my friends doctors of their own dogma, trying to convince one another that their preferred course of treatment had less severe side effects and a better long-term outcome for the patient. … I turned off my notifications, and vowed to only post positive news about my life for my family and friends.”

Monica Eskin makes an interesting observation:
“There is a reason that voting is anonymous: so it doesn’t destroy your ability to live with your neighbors. As their neighbor I know less about them than I do as their (Facebook) friend, and maybe that’s the way it is supposed to be with your neighbors and coworkers, etc.”

But of course, many emails make the counter-point: “Let’s be honest, most political conversation happens on social media these days … for better or for worse,” writes Carmen Jenkins, who describes herself as a moderate, pro-life, anti-Trump Republican.
“If I want to have a voice in this conversation, I better engage,” she says. “I better engage in a way that promotes dialogue rather than shutting it down with judgments and generalizations.”
How effective Jenkins and others like her will be just might determine how social media shapes up (is it too soon to say this?) for the next election.
all tech considered



More tech stories

© 2017 NPR

No, You Can’t Pick My Brain. It Costs Too Much

This article from Forbes popped up in my feed today. It’s timely (even though it’s a few years old!) as I recently had to go through some difficult conversations about the value of my own brain. Being one of the “non w-2 knowledge workers” in our new freelance economy is hard sometimes. I mean hey – a guy doesn’t show up for work for 6 years and gets paid every day yet a freelancer who puts in more hours than contracted and answers the phone at 10pm is asked why they charge what they charge? Sure. Makes sense to me!

A friend recently decided she was quitting freelance because she was giving out more free advice while networking for clients than she was actually ending up with clients. Wish she had seen this article then!

MAR 28, 2011 @ 04:48 PM 229,189 VIEWSNo, You Can’t Pick My Brain. It Costs Too Much

Adrienne Graham, CONTRIBUTOR

I love giving advice. I write blogs, articles and a newsletter. I host a radio show. I tweet, Facebook and share nuggets of advice almost daily. So what is it in all of that, that would make anyone think they can still have the right to “pick my brain”?

I can’t tell you how flattering it is to be approached by representatives from major companies seeking my wisdom and advice. It shows they are listening, and like what I have to say.

But often I find the road ends when they are just on a fact finding mission. That mission is to pick my brain to gather as much free intel and knowledge they need to make their jobs easier.
Not gonna happen, sorry. My brain costs money to maintain. There’s training, classes to attend, reading (I have to buy books), gaining certifications, costs of memberships so I can network, attending conferences and mastering my skills that all cost me money.

I have to protect my investment. How fair is it to me to give away all the knowledge I have acquired that I use to make my living, pay my bills and eat?

Now, don’t get offended. If you do, maybe you deserve to be offended because you’re one of those aforementioned brain pickers.
There have been many articles written and discussions formed around this very subject. With the Internet being so widely available loaded with free information, people automatically assume that you too have to provide information for free.

My response to that is go ahead and read the free stuff. But when you still find yourself lacking answers, then apparently the FREE stuff doesn’t work. You can’t come to a professional and ask them to work for free. In essence, that is what you’re doing when you ask to pick someone’s brain.

How would you feel if your boss came to you and said, Hey since we can get this done from information from the Internet, I won’t be paying you today. Go ahead, let it sink in. Got that visual yet? Good. That’s exactly how I feel whenever someone wants to take me to lunch or call me to pick my brain.
If you’re like (how I used to be) you’ve given away tons of valuable information. I never once minded helping people out. It’s the ones who keep coming back for more freebies and those who take my ideas, implement them, find success, then never offer to repay me for my time.

And no, a turkey sandwich is not payment for something that helped you overcome an obstacle and either created value or additional revenue for your company. I charge my paying clients very good money for my expertise and results. How would they feel to know that I’m giving out free advice? Not too swell I would imagine. In fact I hope they don’t call me demanding refunds!

The most prevalent question I get is how do you draw the line? Deciding the point where you begin to charge is tough, especially if you’re just starting out.

But your knowledge has value. You’ve invested time and money into learning your craft and it’s not fair for people to expect you to give it away for free. Even friends need to understand there are boundaries.

For example I will no longer advise my friends or family for free. (Wow, I just made some people mad….they’ll get over it!). I have businesses to run, employees to pay, a mortgage to pay, an office rent to pay, college tuition, etc, etc, etc.
I’ve told this to friends who have promptly replied, “Me too, you know I don’t have much money”. SO WHAT. That means you either have to delay your plans or come up with the money to fund your dreams. Period. Giving away information is the quickest way to end up evicted or foreclosed on. Put that in proper perspective for a moment.
If you’re having problem drawing the line in the sand, here are some rules of thumb you should follow:

Believe that what you know is valuable. If it wasn’t then why are they coming to you? You’re their chance to solve a problem or find a solution. That has value. Charge for it.

Create a fee schedule. Whenever someone wants to pick your brain, make sure you have your fee schedule in front of you. Give them a quote for how much it will cost them. They’ll either pay it or move on. If they move on, good riddance. They weren’t interested in paying you anyway. Let them figure it out on their own.

Decline lunch/coffee invitations unless they are strictly non-business. If the conversation swings around to business, quickly and politely tell them you’re off the clock. If they are interested in a consult they can book an appointment and let them know what the charge is for that.
Keep it light. Some of you will probably cave and throw a few nuggets out there. If you do (I hope you don’t), keep it general. Give the why and what but never the how. Anything beyond the why and what comes with a charge. And don’t even point them in the direction to obtain the how. That’s short changing yourself.

Prominently post that there are no freebies. OK not in those words. But if you have a blog or website, and even on your social media profiles, make sure you mention that consultations are available at a fee.

Exchange for equal value. This puts you in an advantageous bargaining position. If someone requests free information or help, you must feel comfortable in asking for an in kind value service. Assess what they have that can be of equal benefit for you. If they are genuine, they should have no problem in an even exchange of knowledge. Only you will know if what they have is equal to what you’re giving.

Refer them to your “free” resources. If you write a blog, have published articles, have archived videos or podcasts or have a show in which you dispense advice, refer them to that information. Explain that those are the only free information sources you offer. Anything specific or beyond what’s readily available has a cost.
Don’t be afraid to send them to Google. You can recommend they go to Google, or any other search engine or to sites that have articles or information about what they need advice on. You can also recommend a book or magazine that might be helpful. Let them expend that energy they would have used in meeting you at Starbucks and hit the search engines to find their answers. Problem is, they’ll be overwhelmed with varying degrees of information. Not fun for them, but when they’re ready to put it in proper perspective and implement, they can come to you…for a consult…a paid consult.

Ask them for a paying referral. If they truly want your expertise, they have to be willing to help you out too. It’s kind of like the Equal Exchange point I made above crossed with paying it forward. Before you dispense any advice, ask them to provide you with referrals to others who most certainly need (and can afford) your service.

Don’t back down. I know it’s hard to say “no” sometimes. But you can’t back down. People will know how far they can bend or push you. Stand firm, set your boundaries and guard your treasures (your brain and the know how in it). The minute you compromise you devalue yourself and your expertise.

Most people are afraid to draw the hard lines in the sand for fear of angering a friend or losing a potential client or opportunity. Trust me, if they will walk away because they cannot get a freebie, they weren’t meant to be a client and there was no real opportunity in it for you.
Many in the marketing circles will tell you the freebie give away is vital. But it doesn’t always lead to a sale. Likewise giving away what you would do in a given situation during an interview will not necessarily lead to you being hired. It’s up to you to determine what you’re willing to give away and how much of it. Know your worth, understand your value. Stop being taken advantage of. No more freebies.

Til next time. Adrienne Graham

How To Be A Good Client

I have lived on both sides of the table. Client and Agency. I can’t say I prefer one over the other. And at times when I am at an agency I am also the client as I hire creatives, strategists and various other team members based on the project.

But. As we all know there are those clients who don’t even know how to be clients. Maybe they’ve never hired agencies before, maybe they’ve never built a campaign before or have any idea what the words CPM or Engagement mean. All that aside there are a few guidelines anyone working with their agency could live by that would make all lives easier.

#1. Good. Fast. Affordable. Pick.

You get two of these. Only two. Pick them. Stick with them. There’s no changing your mind mid stream unless you want creatives using your photo as a voodoo doll while they are thinking up your big idea.

#2 Use your words.

Feedback is a curious thing. Feed. Back. Think about it. Be helpful. “I just don’t like it”. “I find it dull” and comments of that nature aren’t helping anyone. (Again voodoo doll). Learn to develop full thoughts. Could we move the image to the top? Does the blue need to be so bright? Can we choose a different font? These are helpful comments. They will get you where you want to be faster instead of everyone standing around playing the marketing world’s version of pin the tail on the donkey.

#3  Respect deadlines

We are all here because you invited us. You have given us a task and we are all trying to make it happen. When we say we need feedback by a certain time. Try. Give it your all. We are and if we think you are too we will give a little more. But all this hurry up and wait is really soul crushing. We aren’t making things up. We may have built in cushion. But you’ve used it up. Twice. Respond. (And use your words)

#4  Empathize and have a sense of humor

We all know it sucks. We are all running around with our heads cut off. Could you stop for one moment and realize that we are working hard to meet the goal. “I’m sorry we were so late getting back to you” “I know you guys are working your asses off but we still aren’t there” – these are encouraging. These make us feel like you get it. “These are terrible why can’t you come up with anything better” – um – not so much. You put us all here with with last minute planning and we know you can’t control the world but could you at least recognize that we are all in it and while we are hired hands we do not live in feudal times. Show some respect to the people trying to bring it to life.

# 5 Pay your bills on time.

My best clients are agencies because they know the importance of paying on time. When your world revolves around project teams and bringing creators in and out of projects; a good way of keep those relationships intact is by paying people on time. Clients are not always as good at this and the notion of 30 days and 60 days seems somewhat of an outdated accounting practice. Especially so in our “creative class” “freelance nation”that Daniel Pink, and more recently Mary Meeker, have defined as our new economy. I always wonder how much healthier our economy would be if the freelance creative /agency world was always paid on time.

So there is my simple list. Sadly Emily Post is no longer with us or perhaps she might have some better thoughts around this than mine. But today this is my best advice for the inexperienced “client”.

We look forward to working with you (and putting away our voodoo dolls).

Negotiations at the IRL/URL Border | Motherboard

Great article about our relationship with the NET.

“Appropriate online behavior is characterized by Victorian gestures of withholding. Good girl Tweets are moderate, both in number and in subject matter. Speak only of your sex life and your politics in the abstract. Do not cry openly in the feed. Remain aloof and distant from any project of online self-making, preface your links with the affectless, “I wrote a thing.” One may feel “real emotions” over books, over sex, over the Mad Men finale or even video games, but today’s net is willfully dumb and cheap and base.” 

Image: Liz Barr

Read the full piece…

Negotiations at the IRL/URL Border | Motherboard.

It’s not Zen. It’s beyond minimalism. Mizzenialism?

I hereby declare myself a member of the Mizennialism movement!

 March 27

seismic shift of stuff is underway in homes all over America.

Members of the generation that once embraced sex, drugs and rock-and-roll are trying to offload their place settings for 12, family photo albums and leather sectionals.

Their offspring don’t want them. 

As baby boomers, born between 1946 and 1964, start cleaning out attics and basements, many are discovering that millennials, born between 1980 and 2000, are not so interested in the lifestyle trappings or nostalgic memorabilia they were so lovingly raised with.

hanks, Mom, but I really can’t use that eight-foot dining table or your king-size headboard.

Whether becoming empty nesters, downsizing or just finally embracing the decluttering movement, boomers are taking a good close look at the things they have spent their life collecting. Auction houses, consignment stores and thrift shops are flooded with merchandise, much of it made of brown wood. Downsizing experts and professional organizers are comforting parents whose children appear to have lost any sentimental attachment to their adorable baby shoes and family heirloom quilts.

Full Article At Washington Post

twenty years of blogging by @davewiner

This is a fantastic read with so many good nuggets of wisdom. Had to share it. Mostly I love how Dave talks about how hard life can be when you are smart and speak your mind. To stand up for your values. Enjoy.

20 years of blogging
By Dave Winer

Mike Arrington once said they would erect a statue in my honor in Palo Alto. I said it’ll never happen. A couple of years later the same guy asked me why everyone hates me so much. Or something like that. In both cases I’m paraphrasing. How did one person, me, end up being so loved yet despised at the same time? Or maybe just misunderstood.#

I’ve learned that creating new stuff is a great way to get people to hate you. Or they forget what you did, if they ever knew. To create stuff you have to take a stand. You have to say “This is the way to do it.” That pisses almost everyone off. People who think it should be done the other way hate you. And people who think it should be done the same way hate you too, because it was their idea, not yours.#

It’s funny because when I was growing up, the image in media was the opposite. Invent a new mousetrap and the world will beat a path to your door. Not likely. You should create stuff because you enjoy being creative, because you have the creative impulse. Not because you expect to be loved for it.#

Blogging is about people

In 20 years of blogging and developing software for blogging, you meet a lot of people, and some of them do share love with you. To me that was always the wonder of blogging. I remember very clearly, in 1999 or 2000, looking at a blogroll and seeing dozens of names, mostly people I had never heard of, all of whom had blogs. It was at that moment that I realized that it had worked. But I was in for a rude shock when I clicked the links, they were all talking about me, and they didn’t like me! Oy.#

It’s hard to accept, when you’re expecting accolades, to find that the accolades come in the form of rotten tomatoes, hurled at maximum velocity, at your virtual body parts. But there it is. People express love in weird ways. I was once at a workshop in Northern California, experiencing the same thing in realspace. I lamented, but was told later that I was the most loved person in the room. Go figure.#


I’ve written very little about Aaron Swartz, because I felt it would be unseemly to talk in public about him, after he did what he did to himself, when I had no way to understand it. I still don’t. Like everyone, I get depressed at times, and have even contemplated what he did, but I always back off, thinking it might be better tomorrow, and it always is, at least for me. I held on to it until I had a chance to think, and it seems that the 20-year milestone is a good time to honor his memory, a time when it might not seem self-serving.#

He has been called the Internet’s child, and I think that’s fair. I knew him as well as anyone when he was young and seeking attention on the RSS-Dev mail list. It was not a happy place, in my experience, like a lot of households young boys grow up in. I don’t really know what he was trying to do there. But it was often in conflict with what I was trying to do. He was very good at Internet conflict! And intelligent. BTW, intelligent people are always intelligent. Age is not a determinant of intellect, in my experience.#

I did him the honor he asked for, and treated him as a responsible person. One of the great things about the Internet is that our bodies are the same size here, and if you want to play with the adults, there’s nothing stopping a young person from doing so. That was Aaron, for sure. A young person who wanted to be an adult. #

I have no idea what happened. Maybe I’ll find out when it’s my turn to go. Did I ever think I would survive him? Never crossed my mind.#

Blogging for freedom

Blogging is a platform for free people. We’ve seen people distort what blogging means to the point where blogging is a job for some. I never thought of it that way. It’s a way to tell your story, to share what you see, to process it, draw conclusions, and move on. It’s like a fresco painting. Or an interview with a reporter. It’s quick, it’s over, and it’s done with. #

Blogging billionaires

Blogging has created a few billionaires. I hope some of them realize they can give back to the freedom of the platform, and not just use their financial power to make even more money. You can choose to go another way. Honestly, I don’t understand why they don’t. #

No one ever got fired…

Blogging makes you unemployable. I haven’t had a real job since I started blogging. I would love to create a publishing platform for millions of people. I think I know how to do it. I would love to teach young developers how to think, to train their minds to creatively solve problems. But I haven’t gotten a chance, and probably never will. There are always safer people to hire. So I look with envy at Frank Gehry, an 85-year-old architect who has been hired to create a high tech campus. And realize that’s not going to happen for me. #

A friend asked why. I thought about it a bit, and asked if she had ever heard “No one ever got fired for buying IBM.” This was a big idea when I was young. The safe bet was to buy IBM. If the systems crashed or lost data or were impossible to use, everyone would understand you had done the best you could. But if you bought an off-brand, forget it. You’d get fired, as the slogan predicted. So people bought IBM, not the other brand.#

Well I’m the other brand. If you hire me, and I say something on my blog your boss doesn’t like, you’ll be fired along with me. I understand. I want to let people know that writing publicly does not come without costs. You’ll be lonely. There are so many things I want to do that I can’t because of this rule. #

Why I keep going

Every day I try to do some development work on my projects, but I see the end coming, not too far away. I don’t think I’ll be digging any great new holes in the future, but I do want to wrap up all the stuff I’ve started. That’s what the last few years have been about. I want to have great open publishing tools, that don’t require you to give everything you have to a billionaire in the hopes of getting a little attention. #

Maybe it won’t go anywhere. Maybe it’ll all be swept aside, forgotten, along with so many other dreams of so many other people who thought they could make a difference. #

20 years

In one way 20 years doesn’t seem like that much time. But to an individual it is huge. A lot has happened in this time. I’ve accomplished most of what I set out to, and that’s something I’m grateful for. #

I was looking for something to quote in one of the thousands of pieces (I haven’t counted, that’s just how it feels to me) I’ve written, but this morning, Anthony Baker posted a quote from Eleanor Roosevelt that does it better than I possibly could. #

To be mature you have to realize what you value most. It is extraordinary to discover that comparatively few people reach this level of maturity. They seem never to have paused to consider what has value for them. They spend great effort and sometimes make great sacrifices for values that, fundamentally, meet no real needs of their own. Perhaps they have imbibed the values of their particular profession or job, of their community or their neighbors, of their parents or family. Not to arrive at a clear understanding of one’s own values is a tragic waste. You have missed the whole point of what life is for.

Death and Social Media

This week I have learned about 6 deaths via social media. Six. 3 of them “personal” – that is one person I knew and 2 parents of friends and the other 3 being “cause celeb” – Robin Williams, Lauren Bacall and a famous gallery owner here in Los Angeles David Weidman.

There was always this phrase “they happen in 3’s” – which is somewhat morose. But now I feel like they happen in 3’s ALL the time.

I haven’t visited in a while but early on in the days of the web – BS (Before social) – there was a website called celebrity deathwatch. I believe it’s now called “the deathlist” – which is even worse.

I also saw a bit on the news about a man who has introduced legislation around parents and loved ones gaining access to the social media accounts of their dearly departed. A law that will allow you to access your dead son’s page. Really? Is this what it’s come to?

I have been thinking about this for years — how we would start feeling like there were so many deaths…all the time. And yes there are always deaths…war, disease, elderly etc..

But there are two things about death today that are different. the first is we all have these people that we now feel a shared connection to due to the proliferation of media. It’s really only in the past 80 years that people have become “famous” — radio, television, movies, the internet — all devices that didn’t exist and therefore fewer people were well known.  Secondly it is so in your face on social. It’s like you need to be prepared for the worst news when you log on – that the world will be pouring out their sad sad hearts in 140 characters or less. As thought there were some short eulogy contest happening.

Remember when someone would die – BS (before social) – and the TV channels would just play the same footage over and over. Just for a day. And it was rarely 3 and 4 at a time. Just one. And then once that coverage was over – it was over. Gone. With social the mourning and the grieving lasts for days. Forever. And in some morbid way the entire public is participating. When someone used to pass away – it wasn’t as though everyone could go over their house and rifle through boxes of their photos….but that’s precisely what I did this week twice. When I heard the news I went to instagram, to twitter…

In the case of my old friend his family tried to shut down his page. But then were forced to open it back up due to the flood of emails and phone calls they were receiving.

Yesterday my entire feed. The whole thing for about 30 posts – all Robin Williams. I know that he touched the world. I hold so many memories attached to him – he was one of my mom’s faorite performers, I remember her taking me to see Garp – a grown up movie and it was a milestone for me. I owned and wore quite frequently a pair of Rainbow Suspenders.

But it was overwhelming. Maybe it’s just me…as I sit here and blog and try to tell you that I’m a somewhat private person. In fact this is probably the most personal “opinion” post I’ve ever written. There are days where I’m just not strong enough to face the Facebook.  To face the news of death over and over and over. And it’s going to happen more and more….as the people that played parents on all the shows I so loved in the 70s start to pass…or even some of the people that played their kids. There’s been deaths this year of people I have met, sat at a dinner table with, shook hands with, some of my friends that  that were affected were not just fans but actual friends of these performers.

It’s just gotten me thinking a lot this week about how we as a society are changing how people deal with death. It’s like facebook is the largest open casket wake on the planet. But I don’t know if I can take going to a wake 3x a week. Can you?