Category Archives: media

Looking for genuine awkwardness? Check this out!

I recently discovered the best web series I have ever come across. “The Mis-Adventures of Awkward Black Girl” is not just a smartly written web series that features a diverse cast of characters, but the situations that come out in this web comedy seem much more honest and authentic than anything represented in today’s main stream media.

There are about eight episodes depicting J — the lead character — played by creator, director, producer and all around creative Stanford graduate, Issa Rae. The program has really resonated with a lot of audiences, African American and otherwise — and when you check it out you’ll see why. My guestimation about that is either being awkward, or experiencing awkward moments is so human and you can’t help but identify with the awkwardness you see Jay encounter.

I’ve included here one of my favorite episodes, (#5) and really “In my mind, I’m the best dancer ever,” however that little fact has been hotly contested.

Be sure to check out all eight episodes of The Mis-Adventures of Awkward Black Girl” and let me know what you think? What are some awkward moments you’ve experienced for which there is no life map on how to handle? Share them below in the comments section, I can’t wait to read what people come up with.

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Posted by on August 8, 2011 in communication, media


Now we’re concerned with mediocrity? (My response to “Why Rebecca Black is Everyone’s Fault”)

In case you’ve been under a rock, there’s a new hot “reality-singer” celebrity of sorts with a simple — yet catchy tune that is making serious rounds in digital, social, and traditional media. Her name, Rebecca Black. Her song “Friday.” Without going into too much detail (because if you’re somewhat literate you can guess), Rebecca recounts, in painstaking detail, one of her favorite days of the week “Friday.” In case the premise was too complicated for some listeners, there’s a video that provides visual cues to uncover the less than veiled meanings of her words and phrases.

From what I can tell, Rebecca Black’s parents “gifted” her production time and the opportunity to make her own music video. My gifts as a teen were never so elaborate or expensive — but I digress.

So, many media traditional and online, personalities are giving this chick grief for what is clearly a less than stellar vocal performance. In particular Peter Shankman provides his commentary “The Age of Mediocrity: Why Rebecca Black is Everyone’s Fault,” posted on Peter Shankman’s point is that Rebecca Black’s popularity is not her fault, but rather the fault of society because we have lowered our standards so much — this is what counts as main stream musical talent and entertainment.

My response to Peter Shankman and others spouting this position is — where have you been? This crappy, poppy performance is only one in a long line. I mean let’s be honest, when Taylor Swift is lauded as a songwriter and exceptional storyteller, and Christina Auguilera (who has since re-cooperated herself) is reaching stardom with verses like “I’m a genie in a bottle baby,”and don’t get me started on Katy Perry and that damn “California Girls.” Furthermore, let’s just venture a little outside music and consider our good friend Snookie, The Situation, or the Real Housewvies of _________ (insert desired city here).

It seems pretty clear to me that we’ve already reached — or sunk to depending on your disposition — mediocrity. I say to the Peter Shankmans of the world — get over yourself and don’t blame society as an excuse. If you really think society is at fault, where do you identify your role contributing the the rise of Rebecca Black. Blaming society is a cop out, plain and simple.

We’re in an age when people seek opportunities to exploit themselves and whatever mediocre talent they have. And further more, there are plenty of people that seek out those individuals to make their quick buck giving some poor, unsuspecting sucker their 15 seconds to 15 minutes of fame. It is what it is. And if you’re looking for people to assume some personal responsibility for th state of affairs, I’m asking that you start with yourself.

Additionally, I would argue that Rebecca Black’s instant popularity is the result of the global village Marshall McLuhan hypothesized many moons ago. He knew even before Rebecca, Taylor or Christina was a glimmer in their parents eye, that electronic communication would compress the world making access to information instant. And it has. He did warned others to be prepared for such a revolution. So all I can say is “whoop there it is!” (another great musical number lacking depth and breadth).

On the flip side I can respect Rebecca Black’s approach. She did it because she wanted to and had the opportunity to do something fun. Rather than big, bad record company that seeks to exploit the kid for the 3 songs she can eek out, leaving her with nothing but a VH1 “Behind the Music” episode when it’s all said and done.

So, what do you think is she at all new low of mediocrity or is Rebecca Black par for the course?


Posted by on March 24, 2011 in communication, media, social media


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I Survived Skype Baby Shower 2010– Can You Say the Same?

I suspect my family is like many others around the nation and world with relatives  living all over the place. Also, I suspect many families and friends are enjoying the new ways they stay in contact with their geographically displaced relatives using new media technologies like email, Facebook, blogging, Google Voice, text messaging and more.

Over Thanksgiving weekend 2010, I experience the most creative approach to celebrating the exciting events that families share — a baby shower — and Skype was the technology making all this possible. Hence the Skype Baby shower 2010!

The Problem

My brother and sister-in-law live in Pasadena, California while most of the family lives in the mid-west (throughout Michigan, Ohio and Indiana mostly). The great news is they became pregnant with twins — the bad news is they live in Pasadena, California.

How can a family celebrate such an exciting thing like the birth of twins when everyone is geographically displaced? What’s an expectant grandmother to do?

The Technology

For those unfamiliar, Skype is a web technology offering a range of interactive services — some offered free and some with fees. When you register on Skype, users have a number of choices including:

  • Instant Messaging: chatting or “IMing” one-2-one with other Skype users.
  • Phone Calls: You can make voice and video calls Skype-to-Skype, cell phones, and landlines to domestic numbers free. There is a fee to make international calls.
  • Facebook News Feed View:  Grant Skype access to your Facebook account and interact with your news feed via Skype.

We paced the laptop on the piano so everyone could see the screen. They could see most everyone in the room from this spot.

The Solution

A Skype Baby Shower! Being the creative and expectant grandmother she is, my mother devised a plan: Ask the parents-to-be to register online (as they normally would).

Next, request likely baby shower attendees to have their gifts sent directly to the parents-to-be. Then, schedule a baby shower.

Finally, during the baby shower, the parents open the gifts that have been shipped to them while on a Skype video call with all the attendees gathered together to watch. Fantastic plan right?

The Result and Highlights

An interesting family event.

Rather than scrap the typical baby shower games that circulate around the mother-to-be like guessing how many toilet paper squares it takes to go all the way around her belly or identify horribly tasting the baby food — we played other interesting games such as “Baby-Themed Scatagories.”

I admit, I did feel a little bad having so much fun with mom, but that didn’t stop me from accepting my well deserved door prize — a crown (which makes complete sense).

Since, my sister-in-law had her babies early — she was a little exhausted during the event. And since we (in Michigan) were ready to get started later than originally scheduled– the party was further delayed because mom needed to express milk.

I’m glad she decided to do that off camera — not everyone is so considerate.

As you can likely imagine — there were some technology issues and the declared  “Tech Committee” (AKA another brother-in-law with an engineering degree with mad pumpkin carving skills) was called to resolve them; however there were a few highlights of the event. The most notable being my brother and sister-in-law saying “hello” to baby Carter via Skype video call (pictured here).

I'm not sure what baby Carter is thinking, but I was thinking how funny to see a baby interacting on Skype -- what's next text messaging?

You can’t tell me it’s not weird to hold a laptop up to a baby — with limited motor skills and cognition — to view people he’s never seen in 2D?

I admit, I was a little skeptical of my creative mother’s idea, but being the tech enthusiast that I am, I really wanted to see how her brainchild came to fruition. Other than feeling a little strange celebrating a woman and babies that were not in attendance and having a lot of fun without the guests of honor – it was great.

When you put it all together – the use of Skype to have a baby shower for geographically dispersed family celebrations– makes for an interesting take on how the use of technology enhances our lives in significant ways.

Has your family or friends used new media technology in creative ways to stay connected? Share your story below, I’d love to learn how others use technology work for them.

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Posted by on November 29, 2010 in communication, media, social media


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Google Voice: A Week In Review

Last week I began using Google Voice. Since I wasn’t invited or using the beta version, I had to wait for the wide release in August. For those of you unfamiliar, Google Voice is a Voice Over Internet Technology (VOiP) and since it’s integration with GMail is giving Skype a run for it’s money. After using the service for a week, there are a few highlights and lowlights to mention for those considering the service. Before I get to all that, I will say overall — I’m a fan of Google Voice. It has a lot of features that make it worth the time it might take you to install and set up.


Voicemail Transcription: This is my favorite feature of Google Voice. When you receive a VM to your Google Voice number you can review a transcript of the voice mail message either via Gmail or your Google Voice inbox. Although the transcripts are not perfect, they typically give you the jest of the message.

Cell Phone Integration: Alongside the Gmail intergration (which is a highlight) the ability to have a single voicemail message is a nice highlight. Additionally, the ability to receive text messages for missed calls, you can also receive a text message of the voicemail transcript. Also, if you have your gmail synced with your phone you can view your VM transcript on your cell — another highpoint for sure. If you have the iphone 4 or Droid you can download the app that allows you to route calls from your Google Voice number to your cell phone. This means when you receive Google Voice phone calls you are using your data rather than cell phone minutes — ultimately reducing your minute usage.

Select a Local Number: If you want to do more than outgoing calls with Google Voice — which is a highlight — you can select a local number to receive inbound and outbound calls. I like the ability to select a number that makes sense to you and likely easy to remember. This feature is particularly useful if you are a freelancer or micro-business owner and want to have a daytime business phone. Also, if you want to reduce your cell phone usage this feature is one that can help.

Voicemail Greeting: Although it may not seem like a big highlight to note, I’m particularly fond of the ability to have a single voicemail greeting for both Google Voice and my cell phone. This means no matter which line someone calls, everyone receives the same message — which helps with consistency across media.

Text Messaging: One thing I particularly like is the ability to send text messages via my full keyboard. I’m not a fan of the touchscreen keyboard and can quickly text message using my full keyboard. This one of the key reasons I will continue using Google Voice even if I never make another phone call from it again.


Outbound Calls: I believe this rings true if you have a Google Voice number — but the lowlight is each time you make an outbound call, you have to answer an inbound call from Google Voice, then the outbound call is made. It’s really more of a mild hassle more than anything and a bit confusing until you realize what’s happening. Once you are aware, it’s easy to go with the flow.

Honestly – this is the only downside I can come up with at this point. What have been your experiences using Google Voice? If you’re not using — are you thinking about trying it out?

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Posted by on September 14, 2010 in communication, media


Getting Down and Dirty with Your Social Media Questions…Again

This piece is a companion to Getting Down and Dirty with Your Social Media Questions. On LinkedIn I asked people to reveal the following: What questions do you have about social media but were afraid to ask? I hope I’ve complimented the insightful questions, with equally insightful answers.

Jeremy Fitch, a Junior Copywriter from Columbus, Ohio writes: What are some good strategies to get fans on Facebook without spending money or offering promotional deals? I’m a young professional trying to get deeper into the social media world, but have a hard time answering this question. I know you can include your Facebook page in e-mails and engage your audience once you get some people who like your page. But I have difficulty in suggesting strategies to obtain initial fans without promotional deals, etc. which some small businesses aren’t always willing to roll out for social media, which in their eyes is an unproven market.

Jeremy, an important aspect of social media practice that is unlike traditional marketing and advertising and sometimes difficult for small business owners to wrap their minds around is giving a little something away for free. That doesn’t always have to be products and services, it can also be advice, information, as well as pointing followers to relevant industry resources. Consider following the 80/20 Rule: Talk about what yourself (or company) 20% of the time, and everything else that’s relevant 80% of the time.

Another important aspect to consider: Quantity should not trump quality. Consider Jon Myers, a mobile media entrepreneur and co-creator of the Cornhole All Stars iPhone app. He is the first to live by this rule. His Twitter following hovers around a couple thousand — small in comparison to some — but what he has carved out is a select group of engaged fans. I think for businesses and individuals just starting out, the numbers mean a lot, but what is really important for you as your develop your (or your client’s) digital presence is to aim for high levels of engagement. This comes most easily by developing engaging content. The numbers will come.

Jon Myers Twitter Page

Gianluigi Cuccureddu, Marketing technologist from the Netherlands writes: What metrics and such are used for ROI?

Gianluigi — When it comes to ROI the question I ask myself and my clients is: What investment are you really willing to make? As an aside, I recently asked a question on LI regarding biggest obstacles to blogging. What do you think the most popular answer was? Time — of course. Well, I believe to “do” social media well or “use” SoMe effectively (as in the cases sited above), the execution has to be absolutely guided by a strategic approach with a “flexible” idea about returns.

Think of it this way, if the investment is only defined by the time you believe you’re actually wasting by blogging — it seems only logical that you have not defined what return you would like to achieve for the investment you will only reluctantly make. In short, to get a return on your investment, you have to be willing to invest something, whether that’s your time, human resources, or funding to outsource to others potentially.

Associate director of human resources from Columbus, Ohio Barbara Lay writes: I would like to know how (if any) HR departments are doing using social media and which tools they are utilizing as well? Any pros/cons using it?

Jason Shinn

Jason Shinn, a licensed attorney and owner of Spider Web Designers from Detroit, Michigan wants to says: I am an attorney licensed in Michigan. I am often asked about social media and incorporating it into normal business operations. Before I even address minimizing the risks or offering any other advice, my first question is always “What business purpose is going to be served?” I agree with some of the comments to this question in that there seems to be a bandwagon effect without analyzing whether it makes sense to join.

Jason and Barbara — you both make a really great point: Social media is not an option for every organization or industry. Another way to approach the need for protection/security is to take the best features of one or multiple social media sites and develop (or upgrade) an intranet network. One that comes to mind is Blackboard.

Educational institutions have been using some version of Blackboard for years. From my own experience, I had a love–hate relationship with it. I loved some of the features — closed network, discussion boards, and chat–  but I hated navigating it because it always seemed “clunky” to me. Importantly, the consideration has to be given to the audiences you seek to communicate and connect with, internal or external. That distinction can play an important role as well.

Ultimately, every business, industry and person is not benefited by social media. For some reason everyone’s afraid to say it, so, I will.

So, what’s your perspective on any of these question? Have a burning social media question you’ve wanted to ask? Leave below in the comments section.

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Posted by on August 2, 2010 in education, media, social media


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Getting Down and Dirty with Your Social Media Questions

I am a fan of the Q&A sections in magazines. Here is my version of that. I cheated a bit and offered the following prompt: What questions do you have about social media, but have been afraid to ask?

Oana Lungu Polanco

Oana Lungu Polanco, a marketing professional and social media specialist from Columbus, Ohio asks: How will your company maintain the connections with your social media fans, friends, followers etc., if/when the social media wave passes? Are you using this tool to build relationships that can outlast the wave and continue outside of the social media realm, or are you simply adding quantity now, but have no well-defined exit strategy?

Oana, I’m optimistic enough to say that there is no end or passing of social media in sight. In “The End of Social Media is Coming,” the author suggests more media outlets and channels are finding creative ways to become social rather than remain one way communication channels. Video game consoles (and hand held game devices) allow you to compete against other players, the web through your television, and online radio are examples of traditional media outlets coming to terms with the desires of consumers to make media social.

Importantly, it only makes sense to use social media platforms as one way to build relationships. On the one hand, individuals can use SoMe to both build and maintain ongoing relationships. This might seem like a “no brainer” for some, but for others, it may be difficult to imagine how some social media platforms like Twitter make that possible. Part of the challenge is finding the people that you want to stay in contact with where they are at.. This means communicating with them using the medium or channel that makes the most sense.

On the other hand, brands may consider using social media — incorporated into a fully integrated communications campaign– to strength the affinity of consumers, customers, and clients through their affiliation as fans, followers, or friends. I think the brands that have really dived in with a strategic focus, continue to be successful. Consider reviewing Starbucks on Foursquare strategy offering free coffee drinks to “Mayors” and Victoria’s Secret leverages the traffic on their website home page to drive traffic to their social media sites. We can’t forget about Barack Obama’s successful digital presence as a key aspect to his successful presidential run.

Website developer and photographer from Tuscon Arizona, Martha Retallick writes: Is anyone *really* making any money at this? I’m not talking about the social media consultants, but the rest of us.

Martha, I think people are actually making money with social media as one of their most lucrative and influential outlets. There are a couple ways to do this. If you’re from the Columbus region, you are likely familiar with Nate Riggs. Nate is a self-proclaimed “technology and social media enthusiast,” however, his business is working with mid-sized & large organizations to develop social media strategies and build internalized Human Business Teams. From my observations, his approach is to use social media for the purposes of personal branding.

Regionally, you might be interested to learn more about Krist Neher, CEO at Boot Camp Digital — a resource for the business of mobile apps. Where I believe Krista makes her bread and butter is though training as it relates to internet and social media marketing. Krista maintains much of her livelihood using social media, and continues to demonstrate her relevance as a thought leader through social media channels.

And for someone really making a career using social media is Ryan Squire. As Social Media Program Director at The Ohio State University Medical Center Ryan has redefined the use of social media within a complex instiution. OSU is one of the largest academic medical centers in the country. So, I take it as an extremely strong sign within the social media/digital communications industry when powerhouse organizations bring on creative visionaries to move them forward. I also take it to mean there are lots of employment and career opportunities in which SoMe might be a defining characteristic as to how to earn a living.


Posted by on July 29, 2010 in media, social media


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Tech Tools to Make Your Life Easier: Evernote

Like many people, when I find what works for me, I stick with it. However; it has come to my attention as of late, that my old way of taking and keeping notes — read here lots of different notebooks with a lots of hand written information — is not working as well as I would like. As of late, I have been finding myself scrambling through a note-book looking for a set of notes from a meeting or conversation, only to realize I’m either looking in the wrong notebook, or have left the notebook I need at home.

I value the freedom handwriting notes and also, I value efficiency. So, in an effort to bring together freedom to make lots of notes about anything anywhere, with the desire to have everything right where I want it did some investigating and have found a potential solution to my problem: Evernote — an internet based note taking, storing, and organizing program. There are a number of useful features Evernote provides, as well as a premium upgrade. Here, I describe a few of the features — part of the free service — that I find useful.

PC Program — Web Interface:

I’m not a techie person, so I’m sure there’s a more appropriate term that describes how you can use Evernote on the web, as well as download the program to your PC or laptop. What is particularly useful about this feature — as you can imagine — is the ability to work on any PC with the online interface or work offline, and have the ability to sync your notes from either place. This may be my bias only, but I’m not interested in applications or programs that don’t have this feature.

Screen Capture Feature:

Although I have a “Clipping Tool” on my laptop, I don’t always remember to use it. Also, I don’t necessarily keep my screen capture images organized so, I’m not always able to find an older screen capture right away. With the Evernote screen capture feature, the images are saved right to my Evernote clipboard waiting for me to organize in whatever folder I had intended them to go. This is particularly useful when working on specific projects that would benefit from more images.

Email Screen Captures:

I have received more emails that are screen captures in the past 6 months than I care to count. I am particularly enchanted by this feature because the screen capture appears in the “text” of my email; unlike the screen capture tool on my laptop which typically attaches the image. Although it’s a small change, we know how attachments don’t always get opened by the receiver and this feature means if the email is opened, the screen capture is viewed. Now if Evernote could only convince people to always open their emails:)

Video Tutorials:

I’m — what you might to call — a “soft tech enthusiast.” I enjoy upgrading to the latest tech toys, using new social media networks, and being well versed on what’s trending in the world of tech. This also means, I don’t program anything, other than the grading scale, C+(+) means very little to me, API is something that messes up my tweets, and Drupal makes me think of how your face might actually freeze in that ugly position if you keep doing it. So, I like to have access to tutorials, directions and instructions, that are easy and understandable. I consider myself above average in my tech usage, so if I can’t understand it, I imagine it’s not a “soft tech” tool.

To-Do Check Box List: A big reason I have used notebook after notebook for this long, is I like to make lists. They help me organize my day and schedule at a glance. I like that the To-Do Check Box List feature allows you to easily create lists, while also seeing what it is that you’ve accomplished from the list rather than simply deleting that line item.

Some other features that make Evernote appealing include:

  • Sharing: You can link your notebooks with others using Evernote.
  • In Note Links: You can easily create links to webpages within the text of your notes.
  • Website Reference: You can also add web addresses to include with a particular note.
  • Tags: Like “tabs” in a notebook help you keep notes organized by topical area across different notebooks.
  • Email Notes: The interface to email a single note, multiple notes or the contents of an entire notebook.
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Posted by on July 11, 2010 in media


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