Jeff, You’re Wrong… But for the Right Reasons

So I just finished reading Jeff Turner’s (@Respres) post on his site: Kenya Exposed More Than Just My Emotions and I felt compelled to deliver a response. Jeff has that effect on his audience – part of what makes him worth following and paying attention to. But I’m a snarky sonofabitch who can’t help but speak up.

The gist of his post was this:

It’s been a week since I’ve updated my public Twitter or Facebook stream. I don’t think anyone has noticed. It’s noisy in both places, lots of people are vying for attention. And I have no desire to broadcast this post on either one of them. I’ve unchecked the “Publish to Twitter” box on this post. I realize that will mean fewer people will ever know this post is here. I don’t care.

And that’s fine. But you’re wrong. For the right reasons, to be sure, but you’ve fallen for a fallacy that I can’t help but call out. Correlation is not causality. People (well, at least myself) noticed your absence, but also respected the fact that you were on a legitimate adventure. That’s worth experiencing in its entirety because it’s not something you get to experience every day.

But imagining that the world is better because you’re NOT adding to the collective conversation is… well, it’s false logic. You’re blaming the network for the noise, but then not adding signal to the stream. That’s backwards. You choosing to disable the “Publish to Twitter” button means that the quality of dialogue is diminished; not improved. [And besides, that one checkbox took me hours to figure out how to build – have some appreciation! Hehehe…]

I’m rambling, so let me get back to the point. The simple fact of the matter is that we’re all participating in a connected environment that has never been imagined. We’re still building it – and there’s a lot of junk to sift through. There’s lots of noise. Our attention spans are pulled in a thousand directions at once. Focus & presence is at a premium. But the reality is that once you have that attention – the attention of an audience – it’s your responsibility to raise the level of discourse to new heights. Abandoning your audience doesn’t provide value for anyone – you or them.

You have the opportunity to educate us. You have the opportunity to share your journey, to share what it meant to you, and to share what you want us to take away from it. You have the opportunity to raise awareness about the challenges and obstacles that exist for the girls that you’ve made part of your life – and to empower us to support them and the millions like them. You have the opportunity to tell a story that compels positive action. Or, you can choose not to. Those are your choices.

You’re part-owner in a piece of social media software designed to create better conversations – to build better dialogue. It shouldn’t come at the cost of looking people face-to-face and discussing what matters. It should compliment it. It should improve upon it. It should broaden our horizons and raise our perspectives. This software isn’t perfect yet; but that perfection is worth striving for. It’s why I keep chipping away at the boulder. If your trip has inspired ways of improving how we pay attention to each other – let’s build it.

There are all kinds of communities. Should we spend more time in the physical ones and perhaps better focus (and reduce) our attention while in the virtual ones? Absolutely. And, should you have paid attention to Head Mutha while she was talking with you? Damn straight.

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When Social Becomes Nonsense (Design)

During my regular rounds of wandering through Twitter, I clicked on a link to a site that left me literally stunned from bad design. Of course, having watched countless websites come and go over the years, I suppose I should be used to it by now, but this smedio site left me completely dumbstruck. Let me show you the screen shot of the site (I’m not going to give it a link because I just don’t want to subject you to the same visual punishment that I received unnecessarily):

Seriously? This is nonsense.

Continue reading When Social Becomes Nonsense (Design)

A Little Perspective on Social Security

Courtesy flickr: angelic0devil6 Lucia Whittaker

During a recent road trip, I had an interesting chat with my buddy Phil. We were talking about the state of America’s despair, and I started taking a pretty hard-line stance on my opinions of social entitlement programs. During the course of the discussion, we talked a bit about the morality of social entitlements (a worthwhile debate in it’s own right), and we also discussed the economics. The two major programs we have today (in entitlements) that keep coming up are Medicare and Social Security. I was curious as to the nature of Social Security, so I looked up a bit more about what the program was designed to do:

On August 14, 1935, the Social Security Act established a system of old-age benefits for workers, benefits for victims of industrial accidents, unemployment insurance, aid for dependent mothers and children, the blind, and the physically handicapped.

via Our Documents – Social Security Act 1935.

These seem like fairly reasonable ideals for which to establish a social welfare program. Essentially, as the name suggests, a security system for those who would frequently be at a loss in society if they didn’t have any personal support system (namely: family, friends, or non-governmental groups like churches or non-profs). Even lightly applying a veil of ignorance to the country as a whole, it’s reasonable to say that we might want to have some money tucked away for people who are truly down on their luck, or have reached old-age with nothing to support a person who is no longer capable of working. Sure, I’m with ya.

So what went wrong?

My position is straightforward but a little morbid: Continue reading A Little Perspective on Social Security

Create Smart Playlists in iTunes to Find Forgotten Tracks

I’m a big fan of discovering new music. I really miss my XM radio that I had for years in the mid-00’s. But recently I realized that my own music collection – compiled from plenty of iTunes purchases, purchases, and mostly from my historic grunge rock CD collection – was full of tunes that I’d neglected. Okay, it’s true, most albums have a ton of junk in them, but every now and then a deep track pops up that is totally fresh to the ears and really makes my day: “Holy crap, that’s a great song that I’ve owned for like 15 years!”

So, I started playing around with iTunes’ Smart Playlists, and I wanted to share a couple that I’ve built. I think they’re handy, and a great way to discover tracks lurking in your collection.

The two Smart playlists that I’ve created are Never Played and Occasionally Played. Setting up Smart playlists in iTunes is pretty easy. Continue reading Create Smart Playlists in iTunes to Find Forgotten Tracks