- Being in the Cast of Listen To Your Mother
- Helping your Child Walk or Bike to School
- Cycling Success Stories Mainly About Women
- Introducing the Durable Human Manifesto
- Meet the DC Cast of Listen To Your Mother
- Replant Native Trees that Turbocharge Nature
- A Prospective Author’s Perspective 2013
- How Free Content Can Boost Book Sales
- Tips for Effective Email Marketing
- Give Some Guidance with that Gadget
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When buying a bunch of flowers, I’m always happy when – peeking out – are the pinky green buds of an oriental lily. Over the next few days, I love to watch each unfold its sinuous leaves and relish their heavenly fragrance. I thought of lilies as I found myself planted in a cozy suburban living room with this year’s Washington, DC cast of Listen to Your Mother. We had been invited by Stephanie Stearns Dulli and Kate Coveny Hood, director and producer respectively of the yearly, live celebration of the grit, gripes and glories of moms in particular and parenting in general.
After enjoying a spread of cheese and artisan pizza artfully prepared by cast member and host, Lara DiPaola, we sat down to read our essays. One by one, we bared our souls, each offering her or his contribution to a diverse bouquet of stories: many were funny, some surprising, and a few could break your heart. Through the evening of tears, tissues and hugs, we created something beautiful together, born of our durable human traits of curiosity, creativity and compassion.
9 out of 10 people read email, while just 6 in 10 hang out on social media. Chances are 1 in 5 a reader will act on an email message, as opposed to 1 in 100 on Facebook and a scant 0.3% on Twitter.
That’s according to interactive marketing expert Jessica Best. The folks at Digital Book World asked her to speak at their recent conference on discoverability and marketing because, in today’s world, email is needed for both.
Jessica says you can’t just send out “one big email” any more. You need to target like a laser beam, using the recipient’s first name if possible. Also, as she told The Durable Human, a picture is worth a thousand words. more »
You can print one out for free courtesy of the Family Online Safety Institute’s Platform for Good. PfG calls it an “online safety card,” but there’s more to it than that. You can spell out how much time your child can be online, which sites are okay to visit, and how much money (if any) your child can spend on apps, but you also promise to be supportive of your child’s use of the new item and not over-react if he or she stumbles on something you deem offensive. more »
Just as they do face to face, kids love to socialize online. Four out of five online teens hang out on social networks. Some of them may like to tweet or dabble in MySpace, but practically all have a profile on Facebook. “No one had any idea how quickly and or how widely this would spread,” says Stephen Balkam, director of the Family Online Safety Institute which sponsored the new report by the Pew Research Center. more »
According to a new Pew Internet and American Life Project report, local TV news is still the go-to source for weather, traffic and breaking news. But people are looking elsewhere for other information, often using their phones.
How the Internet has revolutionized the way messages are delivered was the focus of this year’s Activism + Media + Policy, or “AMP” Summit held last month in Washington, D.C.
Andy Eller is the Director of Business Development at place-sharing site, Gowalla. In a panel presentation, he told AMP attendees he gets all his news from Twitter because it’s unfiltered and current. Twitter’s own Adam Sharp then took the opportunity to mention that tweets about an earthquake hit New York before the actual tremors did.
In his AMP remarks, CBS White House reporter Mark Knoller says he likes writing news on Twitter “because it doesn’t have to go through a copy editor.” Twitter, he continued, is like “having my own personal wire service” – on which he has churned out 40,000 tweets in two years.
Yet, despite the growing popularity of micro-blogs, people today rely on many information platforms, some of which aren’t so new. For instance, the Pew report shows that young adults often get their news by word of mouth. Kelly Wallace is Chief Correspondent for iVillage, the largest content-driven community for women on the web. She says iVillagers prefer message boards so they can anonymously share personal information.
Veteran print journalist Howard Fineman gave the AMP sendoff message. A year ago, Fineman leaped from Newsweek to become Editorial Director of Huffington Post Media Group. Although his former and new office buildings are located so close he didn’t have to change Starbucks, Fineman says he did change ”his entire outlook on everything.”
Fineman calls HuffPost “a combination of news site and social networking site,” which he’s convinced is where news is going. These are his reasons why:
- We live in a news community that is omni-directional. Unlike the days of Walter Cronkite, when viewers hung on his every word, communications are no longer one-way. Now anyone can join – and sometimes direct – the news conversation.
- News is no longer a mass discussion. News sources can now speak discretely to individuals. At present, Huffington Post has 30 different vertical content sections. The Politics page often draws more traffic than the site’s front page.
- News today is constant and immediate, not periodic and episodic. There used to be two news cycles. Now there is only one – and it happens 24/7.
- The distinction between global and local has disappeared. The Arab Spring was experienced by people worldwide in present tense. As Fineman says, “We were all there in Tahrir Square.”
- Old-style, long narratives are gone. Shorter and live are what work today, preferably mixed with video and pictures.
- There’s no more pyramid of authority. The days of the hard-bitten, all-controlling executive editor have passed. With little or no editorial oversight, many writers now monitor and judge the content of their own messages.
- The media is more openly ideological. News curators unabashedly admit the biases they bring to the table. Transparency is the new objectivity.
So, it makes sense that the online society is seeking out a variety of news platforms. Many of us likely share Fineman’s final thought: “you shouldn’t assume any one source of authority is the only one to look at.”
If you ever hear or see anything about William Shatner’s Shatner Rules, do not attempt to avoid it. You will be powerless to resist the book’s black-hole-like magnetism and relentless cross-promotion.
Shatner Rules caught me with something called a “Klout Perk”. As someone who spends too much time on Twitter, I received a peppy little email asking if I’d like a free book about the “Shatnerverse.” I bit on the bait, it arrived in the mail, and I was hooked from the first page.
First of all, it’s funny. The Shatnerisms made me laugh out loud, like when he said “Few are worthy enough to call me an egomaniac!” and described his kidney stone as “an onyx of agony.”
Then there’s the Wow Factor. Did you know Bill Shatner is 80? If you did the math, you could figure that out. But you have to be a pretty huge fan to know he has recorded three albums in his lifetime. On his new release, Searching for Major Tom, Bill belts out Black Sabbath’s “Iron Man” accompanied by renowned heavy metal guitarist Zakk Wylde.
Since Shatner’s been in show business for 75 years, the book is also about acting. If you thought Captain Kirk was his only real role, prepare to be amazed. He’s appeared in productions from major motion picture Judgment at Nuremberg to the 1960s TV series, The Man from U.N.C.L.E. Right now, he has not one, but two talk shows including Aftermath where he interviews such notables as Daniel Ellsburg, Bernard Goetz and Lee Boyd Malvo.
Oh, and by the way, Shatner Rules also offers Bill’s heartfelt, upbeat philosophy of life.
All this is wrapped up in a compact 50,000-word hardcover. I wondered why Penguin USA, a foremost publisher of cutting-edge digital products, would send me a little print book. Well, this no-tech tome is a true marvel of multi-platform marketing. Shatner effectively pushes his Facebook page, commercials and shows on YouTube, music on iTunes, and Twitter feed. He and co-writer, former The Daily Show with Jon Stewart comedy scribe Chris Regan, even have a sneaky trick to get you to www.WilliamShatner.com.
Shatner Rules reminded me why print books still work. In this case, the format controls the game through a clever layout which delivers laughs with maximum impact. Punch lines are often perfectly timed with page turns.
For the mere price of one copy plus postage, Dutton Publicity managed not only to get me to read and write about their book, but also to buy more. The sweet thing about paper books is that they are great keepsakes and gifts. As opposed to my somewhat dour gift choice for last Christmas, this year my loved ones will receive Shatner Rules.
All kidding aside, Bill’s an awesome example of how to wring the most out of life, even when you’re 80.
Shatner Rules: Your Guide to Understanding the Shatnerverse and the World at Large. On sale everywhere October 4.
On Capitol Hill today, phone lines and websites are buckling under the pressure of so many Americans trying to make their feelings known about the debt ceiling. They’re answering President Obama’s call in a speech last night: “If you want a balanced approach to reducing the deficit, let your member of Congress know. If you believe we can solve this problem through compromise, send that message.”
Mr. Obama wasn’t specific about how to do that, but most people apparently went the traditional route. Thankfully, though, there were other ways to make their voices heard.
According to a new survey – ironically released today – Congress has rushed to embrace social media. And none too soon.
The Congressional Management Foundation, a non-profit group dedicated to improving communications with Congress, found that most members have a Facebook page and are also on Twitter. The 260 House and Senate staffers who took the survey are generally pleased to have the new tools. “By a ten to one margin, they are reaching people they’ve never been able to reach before,” says Brad Fitch, CMF president and chief executive.
But now that there are so many ways to communicate, which method has the most bang for the buck? According to Fitch, “Sending an individual e-mail is 20 points more influential than social media.” In other words, the time you take composing an e-mail has more cred than a 140-character tweet.
And how can your message have maximum impact? Fitch shared two simple rules in a fact-filled interview on Facebook DC Live.
Timing is everything. For heaven’s sake, make sure and get in your dibs before your Congress members make a decision. Check the status of your issue so you don’t waste your time or theirs.
Don’t be wishy washy. “Have a firm ask,” advises Fitch. Determine exactly what you want your Congress member to do, then state it simply and clearly. Start by writing your message in short form on the Subject line.
What if you do all the right things, but your carefully crafted call or note hits a technical roadblock? You may have no choice but to go social. Says Fitch: “The best ways to get through are Facebook, Twitter or YouTube.”
It was reassuring to be at the second-ever Digital Book World Conference, if only to see so many others hurtling forward in the same general direction. We were all a little breathless in the brief time-out from our unexpected digital journeys.
Mine began four years ago, when I had an idea for a book. Ironically, it’s a strategy parents can use to introduce their kids thoughtfully to the online world. I started down the publishing road like everyone else back then: researching the topic, writing a manuscript, sending out proposals. I found out pretty quickly that no one wanted to print tech-related non-fiction – especially by an unknown author.
Then the ground began to shift.
I was at an American Independent Writers conference, cheerless from some face-to-face rejections, when I wandered into a session called “The Online Platform.” We were told that if a writer is going to be successful, she had better have a blog, website and Twitter account. Agents won’t even talk to you, the speaker insisted, unless you come with a posse. Sensing I had no choice (and no posse), I set out to create my digital lasso.
While I was still sorting out the hashtags from the plug-ins, my husband gave me a Kindle and I saw how Amazon was squeezing book-selling like a python. Shortly after that, I stumbled upon the Digital Book World Roundtable.
Each week I would lurk, listening in on Guy Gonzales and his merry band of e-pub pioneers. After a few months, they convinced me the writing on the wall was electronic, so I studded my manuscript with links. Then, last summer – driving between West Palm Beach and Jacksonville – I wrote a script in my head for a companion video. A few months later, as luck would have it, I was able to attend the DBW conference in exchange for doing some interviews and shooting cover footage.
The formal sessions were captivating, as was the time in between. From executives to entrepreneurs – all were happy to share their thoughts. DBW Innovation award-winner, Hillel Cooperman, showed me how his kids and his parents can read books together on the iPad, even when they’re on opposite coasts. And, author and Wired scribe Frank Rose divulged that he too is “groping” toward understanding this strange, new medium (though his book is published).
I returned home grateful for sipping the nectar of a blossoming industry – and encouraged as I grope my way.
Technology can come to the rescue at D.C. events such as the October 30 Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert Sanity rally – where huge crowds fueled by social media come together in a real place.
That’s according to Curt Westerphal of Digital Design & Imaging Service Inc., also known as AirPhotosLIVE.com. The Falls Church, Virginia firm was hired by CBS News to count heads at both the Comedy Central and Glenn Beck rallies. Curt got in touch after reading my Sanity rally followup in the Washington Post.
From a balloon tethered high above the Air and Space Museum, AirPhotosLIVE took pictures with an array of high-resolution cameras, combining the images with photos taken from atop the Washington Monument and a GeoEye satellite. In the same way a person looks down on a busy ant hill, these sophisticated eyes in the sky watch how people swarm and surge. Stunning photography and 3-D views of the Sanity rally can be seen on the Photosynth website.
“We are looking at patterns of movement and demand,” Curt wrote. “The crowd movement patterns we see from the air are valuable since they help transportation, security, first-responders and even Porta-Potty planners locate and track the flow of the crowd.” For instance, if the National Park Service used AirPhotosLIVE imaging, officials could see in nearly real time which subway stations were being overrun and let Metro know where to direct riders to less-crowded stations.
Soon, information could go directly to the crowd via their smart phones. We’re one inch away from having everyone there see the info,” Curt told me. “We already have a wireless downlink to our trailer. The issue is getting it out to social media. We could post it to a website right now. The limitations are really less technical and more political.”
That would be great if the cell phones actually worked, which they didn’t inside the Sanity rally. But, with enough planning, that problem can be solved, too. That is, if COWs roam the Mall. Cells On Wheels are mobile cell phone towers which temporarily stretch available bandwidth allowing phones to keep working. COWs were used successfully at the Obama inauguration.
Curt’s balloon also serves as a relay for walkie-talkie and 911 communications between emergency responders, even if they are on different frequencies. “The aerostat at 800 feet could allow a person at a distant station, say Greenbelt Metro, to talk to someone at the Reston Metro.”
But what happens if weather or something else grounds the amazing inflatable? “I joke about ‘one if by land, two if by sea’,” Westergard said in an email. “But two simple flag colors can tell a lot. Think hurricane warning flags or smoke signals. A flag at 500 feet can be seen from Tysons with binoculars. This city unfortunately may need that level of mass communication one day.”
Chalk it up to Reddit, Facebook and Fark for packing them in at the Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert Rally on October 30. That so many people heeded the digital drumbeat so quickly is a loud wakeup call for D.C. event planners, as I pointed out in The Washington Post.
It paid that day to be a local. Heading out two hours before the rally, my cousin and I planned to take the subway, but when we saw the line, kept driving - to a parking space at her office eight blocks from the Mall. Our luck held when, walking toward the entrance, we spied people stepping through a break in the fence and slipped in behind them.
We were one jumbotron back from the stage. The crowd was blissful, but standing up and packed in like sardines. It was one of the most enjoyable experiences of my life, but looking around, I couldn’t help but worry: what if something spooked the crowd? The city was not prepared.
When Comedy Central filed for a permit September 8, the network estimated 25,000 people would attend. “It had to do with actual space they [the National Park Service] were prepared to allot to the event,” network spokesman Tony Fox told The Durable Human. “We had no idea how many people were going to show up.”
After seven weeks of negotiations - which included the network’s decision not to pay for extra Metro service - 60,000 was the number approved in the final permit just three days before the event.
But even before the network’s eleventh-hour decision to commit, the electronic outreach started. “Reddit[.com] did a donation push to encourage us to do the rally,” Stephen Colbert acknowledged at the post-event press conference. (Fark.com was ticked off he didn’t give social media enough credit for making the rally happen).
Two weeks into the permit process, 100,000 people had RSVPd on Facebook. Then, on October 20, Andres Glusman of Meetup.com told the Christian Science Monitor, “This is growing faster than any online Meetup we’ve seen.” According to Yahoo News, self-organized satellite gatherings were being planned in 801 cities in 67 nations.
All the while, the coolest guys on TV invited viewers across the flat world to a free party in America’s capital.
Comedy Central kept an eye on the online numbers and made some adjustments. On October 25, the Wall Street Journal said the network ordered extra port-a-potties “suggesting organizers expect a crowd of 150,000 people.”
Metro put some extra trains and personnel on standby, but D.C. authorities were reluctant to go much further. “We did see that there was a large number of people RSVPing on Facebook,” said Park Service spokesman Bill Line. “But we have also found that for prior events, that’s not always an accurate gauge either. People will say they are coming and then don’t.”
In the end, precise aerial images paid for by CBS News showed that 215,000 people attended the rally. That’s not counting the thousands who tried but failed to ride the overloaded public transportation system to get downtown. “It’s kind of fascinating to us,” said the Comedy Central spokesman, “Facebook on the Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert web sites came out to be 300,000.”
Looking back, it’s clear that DC event planners must re-think the way they do business. Besides reacting more quickly to Internet input, they need to better leverage the permit approval process to compel event sponsors to help pay for support services of all kinds – from extra Metro trains to bike valets.
For their part, private sponsors should get a better handle on attendance, perhaps by asking rally-goers to register in advance and charging a nominal entry fee to cover externalities.
Another problem to reckon with is that during big events on The Mall – like the rally and President Obama’s inaugural festivities - cell phone service is overwhelmed so no one can make or receive calls and texts.
To be able to do its job properly, the National Park Service must be fully informed. Congress banned the agency from making crowd estimates following a political dustup after the Million Man March in 1995. But in the new millennium, computer-analyzed imaging eliminates the shades of grey which might have prompted politically-motivated lawsuits.
The Washington Post Ombudsman suggested that a media consortium should share the cost of using such technology to make estimates. But since federal authorities already rely on the same imaging techniques for other purposes, Congress should end the ban and allow the Park Service to again be the crowd-estimating agency of record. (See Comment about capabilities of aerial imaging from AirphotosLIVE.com below)
With enough time and publicity, an event called by a charismatic worldwide figure could end up larger than any one country’s presidential swearing-in.
But Washington certainly isn’t the only place which must cope with increasingly massive crowds. Last summer, Shanghai was hobbled (shanghaied?) by sheer numbers at its World Expo. Waits at exhibits spanned up to nine hours.
Because of the burgeoning world population, designers and engineers from Rochester, Massachusetts and any other Institute of Technology must work to find better ways to fit lots of people into defined spaces. Maybe by going to a modular design, an exhibit could have multiple entrances and a five-hour wait could be cut to one.
Like it or not, the headaches of managing huge communities which come together in real-life spaces are here to stay.