RSS

Category Archives: Book

Little known fact: Shel Silverstein penned Dr. Hook’s “Sylvia’s Mother”

I know of many parents who have a copy of Shel Silverstein stashed away somewhere. He was a prolific writer of books such as The Giving Tree, and tomes of books of wacky, insightful poetry such as “Where the sidewalk ends.”

I was looking up the man, and discovered that one of the anthems of the early seventies, “Sylvia’s Mother” was actually a vignette from his life. he knew the original Sylvia, and if you the words of the song resonate in your brain, you’ll know he was trying to get the ‘operator’ reminding him it would cost him “40 cents more” to stay on the line.

When was the last time you had an “operator” intervene between you and the person you were calling?

FootnoteThe Giving Tree has been ranked one of the top 100 books for children, beating several by Dr, Seuss, and even Lois Lowr (The Giver) and Roald Dahl’s books.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on March 30, 2016 in Book, Communications

 

Tags: , , , ,

‘BYOD’ in schools, free ‘Candy Crush’ tablets for MPs – Maybe it’s a good thing

The BYOD – or ‘Bring Your Own Device’ – movement has been gathering steam in schools. If you want to know my position on this, I put it this way: It could quickly turn into Bring Your Own Distraction’ unless we make sure young students understand what screens are good for, and what they are lousy at. Unless we teach young people how to engage with others, and the value of being able to dive deep into issues beyond simple search and scan, we will end up with a distracted workforce, and distracted leaders.

Speaking of whom, consider this: 650 British MPs will be issued iPads after the British elections in May. But apparently the Brits are concerned about distraction. (Just read the headline of this Forbes article, and you’ll know what I mean.) But skepticism aside, it’s about time elected officials are provided with technology that denies them the excuse for not staying in touch with the rest of us.

In my book, Chat Republic, I featured a prescient idea by a Sri Lankan journalist who said that we ought to make democracy more digital. In a nutshell, what Indi Samarajiva said was that the average citizen has a right to know how an elected acts on our behalf, in real-time! Here is Indi expounding on part of that idea.

Last December (21014) Accenture published a paper on ‘Government as a Digital Disruptor. It spoke of the need for an eco-system for open, collaborative, creative engagement. Read the paper here.

 

Tags: , , , ,

“Time Bombs of the Mind” – A journalist’s take on science, technology, and a media-saturated world

The first thing that strikes you when you meet Nalaka Gunawardena is how grounded he is. Someone introduced him as a citizen journalist, but he’s larger than that, with his antennae in many places, covering science, and pop culture, information technology and social media.

Meeting this new generation of media-savvy writers (he’s a blogger and journalist) who are comfortable in both mainstream and new media, makes me optimistic that in a media-saturated environment where one-liners and tweets pass off as news, there is serious journalism underfoot. Nalaka covers such topics as climate change, space science, and road safety, among other areas.

Nalaka’s just published book is, Wanted: Time Bombs of the Mind

 

Full disclosure: I met Nalaka last year in Sri Lanka –we were on a panel discussion related to my book, Chat Republic.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on September 21, 2014 in Book, Media, Social Media

 

Tags:

What Computers enable in our second ‘Machine Age’

I just ordered “The Second Machine Age” not because authors Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee seem optimistic about the ‘digital engines’ that were able to diagnose diseases, talk back, drive cars, and write quality prose. But because they seem to acknowledge the thorny challenges we face as these new machines run our lives.

Think about the recent challenges: We are still surprised by catastrophic weather events, despite the satellites and other climate science tools we have. Our marvelous machines may help us locate a lost phone, but often miss the big things. Just consider what GM’s ‘system’ ignored or considered unimportant in their cars. Then there’s the lost 747. A friend recently commented how, despite all our tools, there’s something humbling about how we don’t have smart enough technology to locate something as big as an airplane.

The book is based on the work at MIT’s Center for Digital Business, at which Brynjolfsson is the prof of management at the Sloan School. I like his description (In a Ted Talk) of what he calls  ‘general purpose technology’ that changes the game.

It’s funny, but this seems to be yet another ‘MIT book’ that has crossed my path that delves deeper into the subject of technology compared to the usual blather about how good things are. Sherry Turkle’s Alone Together was a classic discussion in a narrower field of communication tools and robotics.

 
1 Comment

Posted by on April 26, 2014 in Book, Social Media

 

How medium size ‘decoys’ mess with your head – ‘Absolute Value’ explained

As I mentioned, I am reading ‘Absolute Value, a book that will certainly rock the world of marketers who have sat on their bottoms with the idea of branding. The idea that the ‘brand’ equity they create, can determine people’s choices.

This explanation by Itamar Simonson on NBC, explains the concept of why manufacturers ‘frame’ the price to provide an imperfect set of choices.

Simonson is a really good interviewee –he firmly, and politely disagrees with the host of the show and others at the table) to make his point and clarify the thesis of the book.

Two things, he says, worth noting:

  • Marketing as we know it is no ‘trick’ – just an outdated way of providing consumer choices, so they make an irrational compromise.
  • Brands are not the same ‘filters’ as say Facebook is. They were proxies for value that do no work as well now. The best filters live outside of the control of brands.

http://www.viddler.com/v/bceefb4a

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on February 16, 2014 in Book, Marketing, Social Media

 

Tags: , , ,

Chat Republic backgrounder – IABC/Phoenix

In three weeks I will be speaking at a meeting of IABC-Phoenix, and to that end, this interview by Peggy Bieniek has  just been published.

It’s a bit of a long read, so if you’ve gotten used to 140-character summaries (and that’s one of the points I raise in Chat Republic), this is certainly not for you.

It is one of the most thorough backgrounders to the book, and my take on social media.

Interview with IABC-Phoenix

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on February 3, 2014 in Book, Chat Republic

 

Tags:

Upcoming Event with IABC – Making Social Media More Human

With so much wrap-around social media in our lives (in cars, at work, while dining, and every space in-between) I often wonder if what we are doing is really “communicating.”

You tell me!

Between the ‘Likes’ (yes, the controversy seems to have grown bigger) re-tweets, text chats, instant messages, video responses and check-ins, are we adding more noise than knowledge?

In February, I will be speaking to members of IABC-Phoenix, at their monthly lunch meeting. Specifically about some issues featured in my book, Chat Republic:

  • How do we deal with this new Web 2.0 world in our organizations? How do we accept the loss of control of our messaging, even as we have more channels through which to transmit and manage them?
  •  How might one put this thing we call social media into perspective –looking at history, including those quaint exchanges we once called ‘chats,’ at diplomacy and even street activism, at patient communities and some forms of asymmetric communication?
  • Why we need more antennas than amplifiers in this noisy world
  • What curation, podcasting, crowd sourcing, “media snacking” and civic journalism are all about, and where they might be headed
  • How to be Human 1.0 in a Web 2.0 world and why there’s a need for a new breed of storytellers, content curators and community managers

When: Feb 20th, 2014
Time: 11:30 am
Where: University Club of Phoenix, 39 E. Monte Vista, Phoenix, AZ 85004

Registration details here.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on January 16, 2014 in Book, Chat Republic

 

Tags: ,