Monthly Archives: February 2011

How Will You Be Remembered?

Do you remember watching Britney Spears on TV when you were younger? You wanted to be just like her, singing and dancing at the MTV Music Awards with thousands of adoring fans screaming your name.

Or maybe it was Kobe Bryant. You wanted to slash to the rim and dunk over other superstars in the NBA Finals, in front of an audience of millions.

You wanted to be famous and you wanted to be influential, just like those figures mentioned above.

I don’t blame you. I wanted (and still want) to be famous and influential. It’s part of human nature.

As humans, we have this innate need for attention. For the most part, we like to be recognized for our work, for our beauty, for our personality; for something. Whatever it is that we own or have accomplished in this life, we need that feeling of validation.

And just as we’ve needed this feeling of validation since the Stone Age, we also need this feeling of validation in the Information Age.

You’ve probably heard talk about how our generation (Gen Y) is becoming more and more narcissistic, and that may very well be true.

Consider this story for example:

I don’t normally spend much time in Duke’s Law School, but the Law Library is a great place to study during finals. Finals that semester were particularly tough, and I had been awake for 48 consecutive hours. Tired, I walked up the stairs, pushed open the double doors, and then proceeded to use the bathroom, not sure of where I was going.

As I walked in, the first thing I noticed was that there were no urinals.

That’s odd I thought. Unperturbed, I finished my business, washed my hands, and then walked out, only to see a female pass my by and look at me very strangely.

What’s her deal? I remembered thinking.

And then by chance I glanced up, and saw that I had just used the “Ladies” bathroom.

Oops.

Instead of being embarrased, I was thought it was incredibly funny, and posted it to my Facebook.

So tired that I just walked into the Ladies bathroom in the Law School Libs. LOL!!!

Or something like that.

Within minutes, I had about 10 comments that read, “Hahaha”, “LOL!!!”, “You so stoop!!” and “You would do that!”

While your status updates may never be as extreme as mine was, at some point (probably today even), you’ve posted an update that you knew/hoped would get liked, commented on, or retweeted.

You wanted to create something memorable, so that people could look back and say, “remember when you said that?”

And that, is the whole idea behind fame and influence: legacy.

People will always remember Britney Spears because she makes great (depends on your taste in music) pop music and continues to influence generations of teen girls.

And people will always remember Kobe Bryant as being one of the greatest basketball players of all time, and for inspiring a generation of kids to shoot turnaround jumpers in their backyards.

We, as humans strive for influence because if we can have an impact on a certain number of people, then that many more people will remember us after we are gone.

It doesn’t have to be millions, thousands, or even hundreds. We just need to exert enough influence so that someone remembers us after we are dead and gone.


Why I’m Too Cool For A Style Guide

 

Source: englishclub.com

 

I’ve always considered myself a good enough writer that those grammar and style books never really applied to me. I could remember reading Strunk and White’s Elements of Style in 11th grade and that was the only book on style that I have ever read.

But over the past year my writing has shifted from mostly writing history papers and essays to writing blog posts, comments, and status updates, and I’ve come to realize that the online world requires a different writing style than does a paper or essay.

In one of my classes, “Digital Writing“, we are using the Yahoo Style Guide to learn how to write for the web. Chapter 6 was all about the correct usage of punctuation, and when going through the list, I realized that I was misusing some of the punctuation in my blog posts.

I was a bit worried about this, because I want to be thought of as a smart writer, and at first I felt that my incorrect use of punctuation, plus my still evolving voice, would damper that.

But then I remembered reading a blog post by Judy Dunn on Cat’s Eye Writer Blog, where she said it was ok to have typos and break convention.

My friend, sales strategist and experienced blogger Lori Richardson, said: “As much as I try to not have spelling issues, it still happens. I like bestselling business author Michael Port’s emails. He always says, ‘P.S. I don’t charge extra for typos. They’re just my gift to you.’”

And she is right. Those typos will get through, even with spell check, even with editing and proofing. They just do. Don’t beat yourself up over it.

I don’t want to beat myself up over a misplaced semicolon, or an incorrect usage of a dash. To do so would hinder my creativity. This is my blog, and these are my words, feelings, and emotions.

No one should be able to tell me how to write.

Could I use some consistency and correct usage of punctuation in my blog posts? Sure, in order to become a better writer I will probably need to do so.

But overall I don’t think that you will notice much of a change. This blog is still all about me, and I hope to keep it that way.


Facebook: The Social Network for Revolutions?

source: The Sovereign Independent

 

I can say with 95 percent confidence that when Mark Zuckerberg created Facebook in 2005, he did not create it with the purpose of sparking political revolutions.  Yet, it seems that in 2011, Facebook is doing exactly that.

If it holds true to its early form, 2011 just may be remembered as the Year of the Revolution. Feeling the aftermath of Tunisia overthrewing its government in late 2010, Egypt just deposed President Hosni Mubarak from power, and it seems that Algeria, Libya and other African and Middle Eastern nations may soon follow.

Political revolutions are nothing new. It’s just that in 2011 Facebook and Twitter have overtaken the traditional outlets of print and television as the conduits for political protest across the Middle East.

Which is why Newsweek’s piece on Wael Ghonim, Google’s head of marketing for the Middle East and Africa, is so fascinating.

There is always that one still image that defines a revolution and marks its beginning.

Khaled Said was a businessman who was beaten to death by local police after using Facebook to disseminate a video of police stealing pot from a drug bust.

The beating was captured on film and disseminated around the web when Ghonim saw it, and inspired, he created a Facebook page titled “We Are All Khaled Said” in Said’s honor.

Running the page as “El Baradei”, or the Martyr, Ghonim was able to convince 50,000 people to attend the “revolution” on Facebook. The most interesting line of the article comes on page 3,

In another conversation, he mocked the idea that any politician could corral the growing protest push. “A virtual guy that they don’t know is telling them what to do,” he said. “I have the people on my side.”

What is so extraordinary, is that Ghonim was able to translate virtual support into tangible support by using the Facebook page to promote democratic ideals and schedule and organize individual demonstrations.

“El Baradei” was the perfect storm of Ghonim’s expertise and the unfortunate death of a businessman – Khaled Said was viewed as a martyr for dying to uncover injustice by the local police, and Wael Ghonim used his marketing savvy to channel the online frustrations of Egyptians into productive demonstration.

Wael Ghonim was just one example of an individual exerting influence on a network of people. No doubt, there were hundreds, if not thousands of individuals exerting influence on their neighbors, family, friends, strangers, and fellow Egytpians to participate in the revolution.

What do you make of the revolution in Egypt? Do you think you have what it takes to spark a revolution?


Tarik Adams – “Wake Up”

This song by Tarik Adams is the first song that an artist has personally asked me to feature on my blog. (This isn’t even a music blog yet!?!?) But I decided to do so anyway. I didn’t know what to expect, but I was actually pleasantly surprised.

Unlike a lot of independent artists, the music video is really well done and from that alone Tarik scored points in my book.

But the song wasn’t too shabby either. While not the most original concept for a song, I found that Tarik was able to make it work really well for him. The beat is catchy and Tarik’s song writing abilities make up for what he lacks in vocals.

Overall, a pretty good, well produced track.


Help! The Cloud Ate My Homework!

Angry computer eating homework.

Source: Deviantart.com

 

Well, not really.

But the thought of the cloud eating my homework and the rest of my personal data does in fact scare me.

I’ve experimented with a few cloud based services in Dropbox, Box.net, and Evernote, and all three services have freed me from the constraints of traditional computing and allow me to access my data at all times.

That is the benefit of cloud based services – that you can be productive anywhere as long as you have access to the internet.

I have three mobile devices – a Blackberry, a netbook, and a laptop. My laptop is really a desktop (no battery) so it stays at home, and I use my netbook and Blackberry when I’m on campus. However, having two computers and a Blackberry means constantly shifting documents, videos, photos, and music between my two computers and smartphone.

It was getting incredibly annoying to continue shifting, so I decided I needed to upgrade either my Dropbox or Box.net account for more storage space. But as I was about to shell out that $9.99/month for 50GB worth of Dropbox storage, I stopped dead in my tracks.

What am I doing? I asked myself.

Up until that point, the question of online privacy had never reared its ugly head. Did I care about Facebook selling my personal data to advertisers?

Yes, but you wouldn’t know it from the fact that I still use Facebook everyday, and haven’t looked at nor changed my privacy settings in ages.

I couldn’t have cared less about my privacy when it came to using Facebook, Twitter, or Linkedin, but when I considered putting my most important and personal documents and files onto the web, I balked at the thought.

A 2009 blog post in the New York Times titled, “Does Cloud Computing Mean More Risks to Privacy?” seems more relevant to me now than it did two years ago. The post discusses how the concept of online privacy is virtually nonexistent – pretty much anything you put on the web can be accessed by anyone.

The government can subpoena your information easily, and the company which holds your data is not even legally required to notify you about it. Contrast this with keeping your data on your hard drive, where the government instead must obtain a warrant, which is a more scrutinized process.

How prescient this post was, given that just last month the U.S. government subpoenaed Twitter to obtain the personal data of Wikileaks journalists (although Twitter did notify the individuals).

And it’s funny to say this, but what really scared me most about the cloud was losing all of my music. What if I kept all my music in the cloud? Could the Department of Homeland Security seize my files if they thought I was downloading music illegally?

They’re already doing it.

So I have yet to fully make the jump to cloud computing and bring all my documents and files online with me. Currently, I only use the cloud for schoolwork, so I don’t have too much sensitive information online.

But when I graduate and eventually start life in the real world, the question of “who really owns my data?” becomes more and more pressing, and I will need to make the choice between the ability to access my data at all times but giving up control, and keeping my data at home but maintaining true ownership.

What will you choose to do? Share your thoughts in the comments below.


5 Ways to Win Friends and Influence People Online

1. Check your Klout Score and PeerIndex Score.

I’ve already spoken at length about the pros and cons of both services, but they do have a use and a place. Use them to gauge how active you are online, and then see which areas you can improve.

Did you only connect your Twitter account. What about your Facebook? Or Linkedin? Or your blogs?

The more the merrier.

2. Write a blog.

If you aren’t already blogging, what are you waiting for!?

Blogging is a great way to establish authority and credibility on a subject.

If you work hard at blogging, market your blogging, and actually stick with blogging, over time you will end up with dedicated readers.

3. Read and share interesting or useful content.

After you read an article, you shouldn’t just keep it to yourself. You should share it! Sharing content that is relevant and interesting to your social networks, you will increase your value to individuals in your social network, and they will come to rely on you as trusted source for interesting and useful content.

4. Brand yourself across social networks.

This is an important one. By establishing a consistent brand image across multiple social networks, you ensure that your posts reach as wide an audience as possible. For example, I can rely on Facebook for people mostly college students, Linkedin for more professional connections, and Twitter for everyone in between. There are even more social networks you can use to establish influence online, but those three are the most important.

5. Leave comments on other blogs.

And not spam comments like, “Hey check out my post here!” If you do this, no one will want to follow the link back to your website, especially the blogger, for fear that you are a spammer.

If you do leave comments (and you should), you should seek to add something meaningful to the conversation along with a link.Leaving comments provides two benefits: 1) the blogger will be thankful that you contribute regularly to the conversation and will be more likely to help you and 2) by leaving insightful comments, you can help brand yourself as an expert and draw that bloggers readers to your own blog.

What do you think of this advice? Do you have anything to add?

 

 


The Smartest Man I’ve Never Met

Seth Godin is the smartest man I’ve never met.

I first heard of him online somewhere, I’m not sure where, and since then I’ve been reading his blog daily and have read one of his books (Purple Cow).

Ok maybe there’s Steve Jobs, Albert Einstein and a whole host of other influential and extremely intelligent figures I’ve never met.

But for those other figures above, I’m really just in awe of them. For the most part, they are not all that inspiring to me.

Seth Godin is.

His daily posts are probably my favorite part of the day.

Short, simple and to the point, they’re packed full of wisdom and insight that I can only hope one day to have.

Take today’s post titled, “An Acre of Attitudes“. It may be less than 200 words, but it really inspired me.

It inspired me so much that I think I might put it above my desk so that when I wake up in the morning, I can really kick off the day.