5 Ways to Kill Creativity or... How to Ruin a Life

1)  Believe you are the central character in the story that's happening to you right now.

2)  Believe your own thoughts.

3)  Create a story from those thoughts.  Believe that story.

4)  Forget to look, or to see for yourself.

5)  Prefer common wisdom over what you see with your own eyes.

 You're far more intelligent than you think.

Photo credit:  Erica Bello on DeviantArt

Facebook Privacy Settings Map from The New York Times

I'd like to personally thank The New York Times for publishing this Facebook privacy settings map.  It's a user's absolute "must read".

And While I'm At It, I'll Tell You Why I Don't Want Blog Comments

I'm toying with the idea of removing the comments feature of this blog.  Now, you'll notice that I haven't gotten comments in a long while and you might even believe that I'd want to remove the feature out of spite.  But, no.

One of the tips for growing your readership commonly touted is that if you'd like to get comments on your blog, leave comments on other blogs.  Fair enough.  Except doing that leaves me feeling lukewarm about the whole process.  Though we live in a "scratch my back, I'll scratch yours" kind of world, I have to ask myself what the point of this comment exchange might be.  Do I simply want people to say something... anything just to acknowledge my existence or pat me on the back for putting words to screen?  In the end, I suppose that wouldn't quite satisfy.

Comments used to be an indicator of readership.  But with the birth of Twitter, Facebook, and other social mediums, the frequency of comments has dwindled for most bloggers.  There are plenty of times a reader of this blog will tweet a comment directly to me rather than post one here, simply because they prefer that kind of exchange.  I'm beginning to prefer that kind of personal dialog myself. Because if you take a look at the string of notes left on the successful (read that as frequently commented) bloggers, quite a few of the blurbs are left there as a form of self promotion or blatant brown-nosing.  It makes me wonder whether that big name blogger would rather the self-promotional note not be left at all. 

So what's left here?  Content.  Writing.  Ideas, Big and Small.

Maybe now that I can worry less about how many comments I'm getting on each post I can get down to the business of creating content worth reading?  Because though I don't necessarily want you to log in and respond here, I certainly like it when you to come back, and when you read.

Credit for that terrific photo goes to Duty-Man

Six Social Media Rules From Your Mom

It's a little lot disconcerting to me that we now need books, blog posts and experts to tell us how to engage in social media.  I've read a slew of pointers and lists of things to do and not do from people who charge lots of money to tell me what they think.  Here's what they always say about getting started:

Don't spam.
Be helpful.
Give something of value.

That's it.  No Big Idea here, is there?

Are we really so far gone in our social interactions that we need dozens of Social Media Emily Post gurus to tell us something as simple as how to begin basic relationships?

What's even more disconcerting is that there are still plenty of businesses and self-proclaimed thought leaders who ignore this most basic advice.  They can be found with no @ symbols in their Twitter timelines, or Facebook wall posts that shout out to no one in particular.  I'm assuming they've never taken to the lessons of childhood, or never had the benefit of a good teacher of common courtesy and decency. Why else would they not yet know that it's in poor taste to speak without pausing to listen?  Or that repeatedly shouting your name in public is almost never a good idea?

From what I can see, there's really not a lot of mystery to building a successful social media foundation. It seems to be as simple as keeping to some of the most basic rules taught to a child.  Let's say you want to walk into a new social media playground with lots of people having a great time and you want to get in on the fun. Here are Six Amazing and Foolproof Rules my mom offered me, and I won't charge a dime for writing them down here.  They're just too idiot-proof.

1. Say hello.
2. Listen.
3. Figure out what game they're playing. 
4. Ask questions if you're not sure.
5. Wait your turn.
6. Share your toys.

As you listen and play you'll begin to learn all the subtle rules of the game and how to get in on creating new ways to play.  The others will trust you once they see you really like what they have to share with you, and that you're willing to share your toys too. 
That's it, all Six Rules you need to build a good start. Once these lessons are done, then go read books by the gurus.  You'll find that you're a lot smarter about figuring out who the good ones are.
Tell me, did I forget anything?  Because it's my turn to listen.
Photo credit:  macsimc on Deviantart

Why I Won't Get in Your Face(book)

I don't Facebook.

Well, I still don't Facebook.  Not yet.

So far I've resisted personally engaging the most popular social network and don't use my account at all.  I have a placeholder, and have made just one friend.  Two if you count the person who discovered my existence before I figured out that becoming a "fan" would out me. 

It may be because I've worked too intimately with identity data and know there are plenty of agencies and people who want to know Who Knows Who, but there's a lot about displaying my lifelong connections that gives me pause.  I don't mind public blogs or Twitter handles, but having others see the entire fabric of my personal network makes me a bit protective and leary of the conclusions or assumptions which may be drawn.

 If I friend you, long-forgotten high school classmate, you suddenly have access to learn about everyone I know, but have no idea of the quality or depth of the connection*. 

And if a connection begins to turn their life in a direction I no longer care to be associated with, I face having to somewhat publicly "unfriend" them. 

That just doesn't seem to be a good practice.

Getting to the point of using that dormant Facebook account has been a long exercise in navel-gazing, one I've revisited often but still can't bring myself to resolve.  Besides maybe being slightly paranoid, I resist because I haven't found a personal use for the social space.  And I've already established a rewarding one in others.  If I want to message friends, I use Twitter, and if they're not on Twitter, I email.  The folks who aren't already in those contact lists are missing simply because haven't discovered them yet, not because I've lost touch.   It's a system that works for me. 

It's also a very unpopular practice for someone working with social media.  But I believe I'm sticking to a very important rule of engagement, one that says that if you can't figure out your purpose for being in a space, don't park yourself in it for the sake of collecting friend counts. 

I've reached social media Critical Quality Mass with 1, 2, 3 twitter accounts, three personal blogs, and a fourth I enjoy maintaining for my employer.  Because I'm not a professional community manager, stretching my virtual self any thinner means my relationships will lose substance.  That's not what I want for my personal network, and not what an employer should expect from me as a forward face in their budding social media efforts. 

I'm not a Facebook hater.  It's a wonderful tool for businesses who want to truly engage, and for individuals who have the time to nurture their relationships in that space.  As part of my job, I stay on top of things in the Facebook world, but until I become completely comfortable with what it means to share my personal network in such a public space, I'm gonna just stand watch.

*yes, I know about privacy settings and use them.  We know what Facebook is right now, but it's a living, breathing community that continues to grow.  There's no telling where it will end up and what it will mean to privacy issues.

Photo credit:  Marliese by ~walker1812

Twitter, FourSquare, and a Social Media MindVirus

It's hard to believe it’s been an entire year since I got this bright idea  to get goods from foreclosures delivered to those in need. My Search For An Ethical Pirate yielded a wonderful source from Australia, Ethical Brand. But the overall idea, in my hands, flattened like a crushed pancake. Why? There were too many dependencies and too little time. But I found some great people along the way and the experience was more than worth the effort. I learned a few things:

I dream really big – The only time this can hurt is if I expect to achieve every piece of the goal. Progress, though, is not to be taken lightly.

When I find a passion, there’s no stopping me from trying. I’ve been described as a tenacious bulldog, but you won’t see that side of me often, only when I find a great cause.

My friends are very supportive- No matter how hair-brained my idea, I have good people around me who will champion it.

Good lessons.

But what's this got to do with Foursquare, Books, and Twitter?

And now I’ve got another, smaller idea along a similar vein. It’s about my gently-read books. The plan is to start leaving them, one at a time, at coffee shops and waiting rooms all over town. What makes this a little more exciting is that I’m going to use social media tools to help. For each book I leave, I'll check into FourSquare and send a tweet about the title and author. And that is how I’m going to employ a guilt-free method to rid my overflowing shelves, nightstands, and coffee tables of some really good books.  This social movement requires just one person with a tweet and a book. 

I’m inviting you to do the same in the places you haunt.  Make paying books forward your own little mindvirus campaign.  #bookshare #bookforward!

Photo credit:  *m0thyyku on DeviantArt