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Posts Tagged ‘social media’

Photo Credit: Miserteacher @Flickr

Photo Credit: Miserteacher @Flickr

There are lots and lots of lists profiling bloggers that would be cool to read or the best of 2009 or are considered the most underrated

Those lists utterly annoy me because time and time again, it’s like rating the best foods or the places to raise kids.

They can be totally irrelevant…to the reader, that is.  Not to mention, taken out of context.

And – stop – I know that they’re only suggestions. Or, voter’s choices. Or…whatever. I think in the blogosphere, it may not always be a good idea to have such rankings – because rankings are just opinions.

And, I think the blogosphere is too big  to separate – and rank – out a few from the million.

I much rather have someone tell me why they like something, why it would be relevant to me and – that’s it. None of this best, top, worst of the year crap.

Furthermore, these compilations lack purpose. And some bloggers forget to clarify whatever that purpose is in their lists. How is that?  For example, they tell me what the blog is about and why they read it. As a reader, I could care less about that – how do you think it will benefit me?

It sounds contradictory.

In fact, it is.

Yet, that’s the point. And, perhaps the blogs I list below have made lists elsewhere and I’m not saying anything differently about them. I’d like you to keep in mind that this list is made for people who want to gather bits of information from everywhere for everything.

I hope I add something a little bit new to that gathering.

I know I sound like a total hypocrite because I am writing a blog post on blogs that I read. Yet, I’m thinking if you follow my blog – you have the same kinds of interests (and peeves) that I do. You may like children’s literature, but you’re not only (and always) going to read stuff by Kate DiCamillo.

I like to peruse stuff that appeals to certain moods I’m in. And just like you, when I want to gain a certain perspective on the world or inflate a certain mood – I can’t just got to one place, I go to several:

My Human Rights Muses/NPO work/Social Change

Nicholas Kristoff/On the Ground

I think a lot of people are seriously out of tune with what goes on outside of the United States – well, in the world, period. And NO, you can’t get all your news from the Daily Show – even though I’ll be the first to try. Generally, there is a very weak grasp of the political machinations in our own country, therefore, understanding stuff beyond that can be overwhelming. We’re also at a disadvantage because we are distanced (or better yet, create the distance).

Nick writes about those various (dis)connections and bridges the gaps, specifically on human rights issues.

Allison Jones/Entry Level Living

I have not come across too many (good) blogs that detail the work of twenty somethings in the NPO world. Nor, I haven’t run across as many that are as insightfully opinionted and as well-informed as Ms. Jones. If you are a twenty something looking to understand social change (as a profession), please visit her blog.

It’s well worth the time.

Karyn/The Fabulous Giver

What can’t be more great than finding chic ways to do charity?  Karyn’s writing is sweetly engaging. The site fosters a lot of opportunities to learn new things about wonderful philanthropic social events and causes. If you are interested in seeing how advocacy turns into action, The Fab Giver should be one of your places to start.

Beth Kanter/Beth’s Blog

This is kind of the “grown up” version of a blog about NPO work and social media usage. Ms. Kanter is pretty straightforward and her advice is practical. I may not always know what she’s talking about – but her blog is like the individual contrast (perspective?) to K Street Cafe.

Career: Good, Bad & Funny

Marci Alboher/Hey Marci

I had just begun following Ms. Alboher’s blog, Shifting Careers, before she got booted from the NYT. Her blog focuses on the multiplicity of careers and jobs. You’ll enjoy it too if like to read about workplace trends and the redefinition of career life.

And, she’s a nice contrast from Ms. Trunk – I can only handle one career blog that details the sex life of the author.

FFN/Fired for Now

This is a fairly new blog. I hope it sticks around. FFN writes about the realities of getting canned from a rigidly honest and insightful view point. The definition of unemployment is changing and this blog seeks to challenge the assumptions of its “social meaning.”

In other words, this blog doesn’t make me feel so bad about getting fired – ever. I suggest this become a must-read for all people still griping about being canned, worried about getting a job or otherwise happy with their career (read: EVERYONE).

Lillit & Ashley/Save the Assistants

This blog appreciates admins from across the world. The Bossary should be the first stop for anyone visiting. Administrative work can be tough – and mind crushing (if you let it). This site can be your saving grace. If you feel you are wasting away your soul in a crappy administrative job, read this blog and become inspired.

Go ahead and be saved (no worshipping of another g-d required).

John Henion & Tania Khadder/Unemploymentality

Weird. Slightly offensive. Scathingly sarcastic. Those are the first three descriptions that come to mind about this site. And, it’s hilarious. It’s an extremely fun read – and the best thing?

You can actually laugh in the face  of joblessness (er…maybe).

Jodith Allen/Administrative Arts

Kind of cheating on this one because I already mention a blog that profiles admin work. Yet, I think this is a good blog to read for anyone no matter what stage of their career they’re in. Admin work is part of any job you do –  from being  the president of a company to the mail clerk. Paperwork is paperwork  – don’t fight it.

Ms. Allen’s blog talks about time management, technology and various facets of (admin) career development. You can try that or the Crabby Office Lady (bonus!).

Don’t Let the Bastards Get You Down – Inspiration Blogs!

Alexander Kjerulf/The Chief Happiness Officer

Being happy is important (especially at work) – ’nuff said.

Stephanie/Stephmodo

Besides having the same name as my little sister  – this blogger and I have another thing in common: an appreciation for all things beautiful and appetizingly sensual. Stephanie’s blog is absolutely gorgeous.

And, it’s not nearly as terrifying as GOOP.

Erinn/The Happy Living Design Blog

I’m a big fan of having peaceful spaces. I admit, I just go here to check out whatever photos might be up, but the writing is very interesting, as well. Go here to get ideas on (inexpensive) interior design for all types of abode living.

Not to mention, her blog’s layout has a “soothing” quality.

Cheryl Porro/ The Cupcake Blog

Ok, this blog has been “closed.”  But you can still view recipes, photos, etc. Furthermore, anything featuring a cupcake is bound to make you feel better.

No matter what.

Ev-Yan/Apricot Tea

Besides being ridiculously cute, Ev-Yan is a sensibly chic fashionista. If you like reading about fashion, Ev-Yan can be your muse. She also writes about married life, vegetarian and vegan eating habits and ripped shorts.

She posts photos quite a bit of the various outfits she wears, she pulls off the androgynous look quite well – better than most.

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via Oren Lavie, “Her Morning Elegance” Music Video

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newspapersLast night, I attended the Association of Women Journalists annual meeting. Initially, I was there to promote my NPO, but it didn’t quite turn out that way. 

In hindsight, it may have not been the best venue to pitch our organization, but I got some great information that I want to share with you.  

Jane Hirt, newly minted Managing Editor of the Chicago Tribune, served as the event’s guest speaker. As she centered on the crisis of newspapers and media, Ms. Hirt gave the expected “anti-hunker down” pep talk.

Essentially, journalism is changing. Get used to it.

Wanting information will never go away, but how that information is accessed will always evolve. If that includes moving from one platform to another, then I consider it a small (albeit, inconvenient) change. 

Nonetheless, her suck it up speech was palatable. Mostly, it was because she didn’t sound like a jerk. Nevertheless, how can you sound like a jerk when you have a smile like that?

If you dislike change, you’re going to like irrelevancy even less.

Maybe journalists take themselves too seriously. Perhaps, so seriously that change seems too ludicrous to even consider. Change, however, is about the ridiculous. There’s very little room (if any) for staid conformity and static values.

In a world where it’s possible to meet your lover or wife online, how can journalists not expect to have their own medium do the same?  Being productive involves remaining relevant. Remaining relevant has nothing to do with the phrase “staying the same” – no matter how much you convince yourself otherwise.

The world likes to fall into this trap of thinking when it comes to success, “Well, that was them and we’re not them.” But, you  know what? They were not always who they were. In other words, Oprah wasn’t always Oprah (as she is now) and online journalism wasn’t always online journalism (as it is now).

So, if you insist on believing that change involves some instantaneous and overnight boom of recognition, creativity and wonderfulness – then close your eyes and wait. While you’re at it – hold your breath.

Widen the scope of your competition.

Ms. Hirt mentioned that when she started RedEye, she wasn’t just competing with other newspapers. She was competing with how people chose to spend their time. Books, sleep, ipods and blackberrys were her competitors as well and factors to consider when launching a newspaper geared toward the 18 to 34 set. 

Consider that the “spirit” of competition is not just about becoming the next Google or Apple. You aren’t just competing with other bloggers or journalists. Remember what you are vying for: people’s time or money (or both) and how they choose to spend it.

Insist on riskiness if you insist on longevity. Manage reinvention…and stay on your toes.

People mistake that if you’ve been around for a long time, you probably don’t have to reinvent yourself. Or, shouldn’t need it. This reminds me of a podcast with Guy Kawasaki and Penelope Trunk mentioning the “democratization” one can enable.

In other words, what are you freeing up (or locking down)?  What ways are you creating access to your product or information? Are you (re)inventing opportunities for people to access it?

Simply, are you a connector or a disconnector?

Reinvention involves risk. But, everyone knows that. And, people like to take what they call “calculated risks.” But, those are iffy too, because the payoffs can be so variable. Even failure can be the better reward.

If you got everything right the first time, how do you know if you are doing anything truly meaningful?

Millennials and a woman’s style of management. Common sense meets youth?

As Millennials enter the workforce, baby boomer-esque management styles will inevitably need to transform. Gen Y’s are less tolerant of the once-a-year performance evaluation and the Big Boss you never see 25 floors up. 

We want collaboration, less hierarchy and to be treated as peers (not wage slave underlings). We take soul searching to the edge because we cultivate our own fulfillment to the maximum. We give ourselves space to grow and opportunities to grow it. That’s where our loyalties lie.

Ms. Hirt mentions that a woman’s style of management appeals more to the Gen Y job seeker. Yet, I like to think that a desiring collaboration has little to do with the womanly style of management (and more to do with common sense). 

It can mean all the difference between a dying industry and a dead one.

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Petar_C @ Flickr

Photo Credit: Petar_C @ Flickr

I had an interesting conversation with my Editor about the validity of social media sites and blogging. As a career journalist, it boggles his brain that people are so willing to famously record their lives for the sake of readership and attention (at least, that’s the motivation behind it, he thinks).

And, as a journalist, it makes no sense to him that people think their opinions and ideas matter so much that they should be read by (possible) thousands on the web-o-sphere.  

Despite  knowing that blogging is about conversation, I think some journalists see it as conversation circulating in a vacuum.

As for my own shortcomings as a blogger and journalist, I still have to decide how much of myself I want to reveal in my posts. I’m not against honesty – but I always think people can have too much of a good thing.

I even de-friended a “friend” on Facebook because she updated too much. I know, that’s terrible. I’m a horrible person with no soul. But at least I didn’t do it for a Whopper.  And, to further add to my (ridiculous) hypocrisy, I was the jerk who was updating her own FaceBook page a gazillion times a day via my links on Twitterfeed.

But, I felt like I was getting on  people’s nerves doing that, so I dismantled the connection.

At times, the social media/blogging experience is uber wonderful. You read breaking news, discuss cool topics and connect with people who are interested in the same things you are. Other times, I feel like I’m the only one wearing sweats in a nudist colony. Everyone is so in tune with themselves.

The barrier to entry on broadcasting yourself to the world is so low, everyone wants an opportunity to chronicle every (insane) mundane event in their life. From cataloging hundreds of photos on Facebook to tweeting obscene updates on Twitter. Even blogging – your opinions count in the blogosphere (but only if someone is reading them).

So, instead, soul searching  morphs to a point where it becomes self-flagellation. Instead of having the secret embarrassment of making mistakes, people blog/FB/tweet about their not-so-secret pains and upsets. What happens with the intimate connection of just keeping some revelations to yourself? What happens with having whatever clarity of thought be just for you and no one else?

There’s transparency – and then there’s unabashed nekkidness.

But, I guess that is the point. The democratization of information. But, when did that include the democratization of extreme self-awareness to be witnessed by all?

Everyone is scrambling for a voice. People want recognition. They want to be heard. People need to learn from others. But then, only the rest of the world seems to be paying attention to the same percentage of people. Was your life any more (or less) interesting before you got a blog? Do 475 people really need to see you making out with your ex-boyfriend on Facebook? How thoughtful is that post about your girlfriend dumping you on your birthday?

Particularly, I’m interested in being meaningful. Blending complexity. Creating autonomy. Building relationships. And, I’m not sure how well people are blending, creating and building when they are so narrowly focused on steering attention on themselves.

I haven’t been able to (yet) reconcile the distinct voice I can have in the chattering mass of the blogosphere. Or, justify not having my photos scattered all over the web universe. Maybe that makes me (too) intensely private. But, in a world where everyone seems to be watching (and wants to be watched) the idea of keeping it to yourself seems dead.

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rubber-band1There’s loads of talk about having a personal brand, specializing and niches. But, why just have a brand? What’s the point of a niche when the blogosphere is teeming with others talking about the exact same thing you are talking about?

Stretching yourself means reshaping your topic. I means connecting the unexpected and making something unheard of out it. It’s not as intriguing to talk about marketing to Gen Y when all you’re doing is talking about what that marketing means to other marketers. Reshape your topic to the point that it’s unrecognizable. Marketing doesn’t look like marketing anymore because you managed to link sex in movies to Gen Y women buying more clothes. It’s a stretch, but the real creativity is finding the points that link such a concept.

You don’t need to know what links you’ll create when you’re stretching because that’s the whole idea. The stretching creates the points. The point is the new ideas you come up with.

So, be a stretch. Why be an engineer who only talks about engineering when you can talk about the comedy of engineering mistakes? That’s a stretch because most engineers aren’t funny (with the exception of my boyfriend). Make something not normally humorous funny. Provide information to your readers that requires you to be engaging.

Why have a blog about career advice when you can advise people on how not to work instead? That’s a stretch because career advice doesn’t advocate that you don’t try to work. Being a stretch forces you to think about your topic in new ways that are not readily apparent to the average eye.

And if you are careful, you’ll learn something. You’ll bring your readers to more than just the edge of an topic. You’ll have stretched it into something new altogether.

What an enlightening idea, indeed.

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Marius!!! @Flickr

Photo Credit: Marius!!! @Flickr

“Jump out of the window!” may seem like irrelevant instruction when you hear it. After all, why jump out the window when you can walk out of the door? 

Nonetheless, when you are up several floors in a burning building and a crowd of fire fighters outside below you are holding a safety net, jumping out of the window can seem like the best advice yet.

After I graduated from college, I was still in the process of finding myself. I wanted to make a ton of money, but have a fulfilling career as well.

In reality, that didn’t leave me a lot of options. I did one smart thing though, I contacted a bunch of college alumni and grilled them about their current careers. I met a filmmaker, a real estate guru and some other random, interesting people.

However, I remember meeting with one particular alum that (should have) changed my life forever.

I told him I wanted to try my luck at consulting. Never mind what kind of consulting or what consulting actually means – I decided I should pursue it.

Also, I didn’t want to seem directionless. Consulting sounded sexy (or whatever word people use to make their professions sound cool) and they made scads of money for doling out information whether anybody listened to them or not.

It sounded like a suitable venture. In hindsight, considering my personality type, it was probably just as well I didn’t go into consulting after all.

Mr. Peacock (uncanny connection, don’t you think?) told me two things. “Consulting is hard on marriages – they get divorced a lot,” and “You need to start a blog.”

Both pieces of advice seemed totally irrelevant to me. As a very young twenty something, marriage was the furthest thing from my mind (not really, but it was not nearly as close to my mind as it is now).

Secondly, what was this blogging stuff? It didn’t sound like anything a freshly minted political science major did straight out of college. All the job choruses sang that liberal arts majors went into professions teaching, becoming lawyers or consulting.

Truthfully, I didn’t know a thing about blogging. I dismissed it as a labor of love for computer geeks or an adventuresome outlet for alternative journalists. Oh, what little did I know.

The trouble with good advice is that it always seems irrelevant when you initially hear it. That’s the good thing. If you only listen to what you want to hear you won’t learn anything . Or, if you follow the same tried-and-true counsel, it won’t work for you. Why? Because great advice leads you to undiscovered pathways. 

When you get weird, seemingly irrelevant guidance: pay attention. It will challenge you to do things you may not otherwise try. Whereas old, staid, been-there-and-do-it-again advice won’t get you much of anywhere.

Good advice is not meant to be comfortable or make you feel great about what you are currently doing.

It’s meant to confront you and change your mind.

That’s the other wonderful thing about good counsel. It’s more about action than pondering. It won’t encourage you to think more about your predicament. It will inspire you to do something about it.

It provides options not questions. If you are seeking the help, you’re already asking the questions, aren’t you?

Unfortunately, I ignored Mr. Peacock. I never contacted him again.  I figured that maybe he didn’t really understand me. How could he? We’d only met for cookies and coffee. Yet, that shouldn’t have mattered, good advice can come from someone even if they’ve only known you for five minutes. 

That’s the dark side of such a process.  People sometimes mistake that only those who know them can give valuable words of wisdom. Yet, the underlying current of all advice giving is to exchange ideas. 

Understand and trust that taking and giving advice is risky at both ends. It has little to do with how well someone gets you.

When people don’t understand that, they indubitably screw up the whole point of getting advice in the first place.

And, that’s terrible. After all, Mr. Peacock was only trying to help. Yet, I’m thankful. Sometimes, you can’t recognize good help when you ask for it (or, get it) because you don’t know what it is. And, you won’t know what good advice is because you don’t know what it will sound like in the first place.

But, great advice is still good advice. It doesn’t expire. It won’t disappear. Instead, it’s timeless, universal and requires little change. So, even though I met Mr. Peacock several years ago in a River North cafe, I can’t say my idea of starting a blog was my own great idea. It wasn’t. It was Mr. Peacock’s idea. 

Therefore, taking good advice  is just as much a matter of when you do as it is what you do. What if I had not met Mr. Peacock? What if I didn’t have the blogging seed planted in my head?  Maybe, several years later, I would have never thought to blog in the first place. 

Timing is just as important when you act upon anything (good advice included).

The nicks and scratches I suffered along my professional journey to get here probably have made my posts more relevant to readers now.  Relevancy is a good thing.

Except maybe when it comes to good advice.

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