The Next Great Debate? Or A Sign of the Times?

teens-staring-at-phonesI’m not a massive fan of the humor/satire site The Onion, but an older video from their site recently made its way to my Facebook timeline – and I was thinking that could easily be me (maybe without a discussion on euthanasia of course).  The surgical attachment of devices to the hands of my teen-aged girls – is this the next great debate? Or a sign of the times?

From The Onion archive story tells the story Caitlin Teagirt a 13-year old who is reduced to simply rolling her eyes and grunting because of digital addiction.

To be fair to 15.5 and 13.5 – I am perhaps guilty too of being over connected (but that’s also how I pay the bills).  But at this point, it’s generally easier for me to communicate with my kids via text – or if I really want to capture attention Snapchat.  Shame on me for getting to this point.

At the same time, I also see technology is the equivalent of making phone calls and gathering up with my friends when I was their age.  For both girls, there is a constant flow of group texts, group Snaps and group Chats – it’s not a lack of socialization.

To me the issue is the dynamic within the house – and the rolling eyes and the ever-present mobile phones.  It’s an uphill battle and one I’m not entirely sure I want to take on – after all I’m not contemplating euthanasia and it’s not getting in the way of the important aspects of home life.

When thinking about the question of if it’s the next great debate, or just a sign of the times – I’ll fall to the latter and accept the present.

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Labels, Stereotypes and What We Do

A recurring theme lately in our house has been stereotypes and labels.  It’s mostly mainstream stuff and not meant to be hurtful, but still if you watch enough TV or read some current books-you see the stereotypes everywhere.

Sometimes I think it’s just easier to fall back on the labels than to think about people as people.  Other times I think the labels and stereotypes just make it easier.

Who knows? It’s just one more thing the single dad tries to navigate.

 

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The Video

Flipping through the Sunday Times (as I try to do each week), I stumbled upon (OK, in full disclosure this was handed to me more than I stumbled upon it) an interesting read in the Modern Love column by Dean Murphy who is listed as a New York Times editor.  Now I do not know Dean to the best of my knowledge.  But we do share the bond of being widowed with children at home.

According to the column, the Murphy’s lost their wife/mother a short time after a cancer diagnosis and just months before the Murphy;s would celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary.   The vehicle of the column is how Dean kind of steps outside of himself as tears well up in his eyes watching the wedding video with his kids.

It’s a great read and is full of the insight that a single parent will have-that it’s a constant struggle to stay balanced.

The other memory this column kicked off for me though is the story of my wedding video, and I’ll kill the punchline now, it’s never been watched.

I am not an overly nostalgic.  I am not really one to look back at pictures or videos anyway.  But in the case of the wedding video, it was a kind of strange time-stranger than most go through for their wedding and year after and that could be among the reasons why the video has never been viewed.

  • Five months before I got married, my mother retired from her job and my brothers and I were able to pull off a pretty nice surprise party for her.  A good event.
  • Four to six weeks later came word that my younger brother died suddenly.  He lived in Arizona and there was a mental and physical strain to get him buried in NY.
  • Then came an accepted job offer in Dallas so I left my job in NYC and Risa started talking to her company about transferring.
  • Next was the dual track planning of a wedding and honeymoon and a cross-country move.
  • Then we got married and went on our honeymoon.
  • We came home and moved to Dallas.
  • After settling in (about 10 months later) came the brain tumor diagnosis.

Somewhere in the midst of the diagnosis and the first surgery we got the wedding video.  At the time we decided very consciously not to watch it.  We would watch it for our second anniversary-the surgery would be behind us and life would be ahead of us.

What we didn’t know, or didn’t hear about brain tumors though was that life was never really ahead of us.  There was post diagnosis and post surgery life-13 years in fact.  But that life was a constant cycle of tests and scans and doctors appointments.  All those plans-including watching the video were kind of forgotten.

2012 would be our 15th wedding anniversary. The video is still in its white box.  It’s been packed and unpacked many times.

And it remains un-played.  Maybe I should transfer it to DVD or some other digital format, although I am still not sure if viewing it is in my future.  Maybe the girls will ask about it, and I’ll pull it out.  I’m not sure.

For now though, I know where it is.

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Going from Grind to Grind

After a week-long business trip in Vegas, the thought was I’d be able to come home to a long weekend and kind of catch up.  So much for best laid plans.

Yeah, there was plenty to catch up on from the week that was.  The kicker though, the plan to take the MLK Day off and unwind has fallen apart.  So, now it’s a work from home (WFH) day.  The girls are off with friends and I have a full call docket.

Grinding from a week away to the daily grind and back into the work grind.

 
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The Holiday Break: A Look Back and Ahead

So, we made it.  Individually and collectively, we’ve made it to the holiday break.  This means a new year is upon us, which also gives us a chance to look back at the year that was.

It’s a chance to glean a lesson, reflect on what has happened and perhaps more importantly take those lessons and go forward.

At least for us, 2011 was a year of immense transition, so many things occurred, so many people came into our lives and so much has gone on-it’s great to take a moment and take a breath.

It would be folly for me (or any of us of that matter) to try to go through a list and thank everyone for the love, support and help we’ve had over the last 12 months-we would leave too many people out and not do justice.

Instead, I hope everyone will accept from me (and 11.0 and 9.0) our eternal thanks for all you have done to be there for us-and know when we can we try to pay it forward and we are committed to doing just that.

 
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The Lessons Learned on a Sunday Bike Ride

It was an eye-opening bike ride late this morning when 9.0 and I set out for a short ride with her friend from across the street.  The differences between boys and girls became pretty clear.

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A Lazy Saturday Upon us

 

It’s a lazy Saturday here.  I was going to actually blog about that, and try to break out of the downer kind of blogs I’ve been writing this week…and instead I figured I’d try a V-Blog.

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So let me know what you think.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Search Generation

The Connected Generation Doesn't Need Today's ToolsOne of the ways I hope to keep myself on the professional cutting edge is to offer a fresh perspective on the way content is consumed.  One of the best ways I know to gather this information is to watch my kids (11. 0 and 8.5) and their friends as they gather around an iPod or computer.

Today though, I had the chance to go into 8.5’s third grade class and talk her peers.  While under the guise of talking to them about journalism and news (which we did a little), I used it as an opportunity to find out how my daughter and her generation seek out and share information.

While it’s not a huge surprise (at least I hope its not), TV, radio, newspapers were not even in the discussion.  I was a little surprised-Facebook and Twitter was not either.  There are a lot of reasons for the latter-responsible parents is my hope, but the reality is 8-10 is well under the age requirements for those sights.

However, based on the discussion-text, text chat, video chat and especially search are far more important anyway.

On the discovery side-when I asked a class of 20 or so third graders how they find things out-and things I defined as news, information, websites, songs, videos, movies and entertainment-search was the number one way to find things.  And when I pressed the kids, they didn’t care what the search engine was (Google was as good as Yahoo was as good as iTunes search).  All they need is a search box and an execution point.

The quick take away on this is to over tag if necessary, but make sure tags capture all the keys to the content and all the imaginable entry points.  While I am among the people who believe SEO, as we know it today is a dying art, the reality is SEO will continue to be a discoverability driver in some form.  (An interesting note, one of the kids wanted to know about a way to search content shared via text chat, hmmmm).

On the consumption side, once again search was a huge driver to finding content.  One of the girls in the class even talked about setting up an RSS homepage-similar to Pageflakes or MyGoogle to capture key elements.  But a huge consumption driver for text and video is images.  It’s a concept I am late to embrace but important.  In the digital clutter, you still need to capture eyeballs.  See any of the e-book stores (Amazon, B&N, iBooks).  Which books are you likely to purchase if you are just scanning a topic?  Eye-catching cover art is the driver.

Finally, when it comes to sharing information text, text chat chat (including video chat) was the focus.  One boy in the class said (and his classmates agreed), “I can send an email, but no one reads email,” from the mouths of 8+s comes great truth.  Email has been a dying medium for more than five years now.

The take away here is to make sure your packaging includes interoperability to share via text-because that is a key driver to reach the generation that is not tethered by Blackberry Enterprise Server, Outlook Exchange or Gmail on the go.

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From Film at 11 to We are Here Right Now

I don’t consider myself to be old, however, my daughters (the older one especially) likes to remind me that I am creeping up there in years.  So it’s with that backdrop perhaps that I got a little nostalgic as I was watching the live video of the miners being pulled safely from their underground home of more than two months.

I am old enough to remember the tag line “Film at 11.”  Now I don’t remember it in my professional experience–but growing up I can remember Chuck Scarborough on WNBC (Channel 4 in NYC) or the late Bill Beutel on WABC (channel 7 in NYC) saying that line during what I later learned was the :57:30 cut-in.  You know it as a tease for the late news that comes during primetime viewing.

For those without the reference–here is a one time ABC News colleague of mine Christina Lund with the familiar tagline (this one delivered on KABC-Los Angeles in 1976)

And that’s what happened.  If you wanted to see the story you waited for the news to come on.  In talking to some of the long-timers at places I work or have worked, by 1976 the conversion to videotape was well underway-but the myth of film at 11 lived on for years beyond that.

Fast forward to Tuesday night into Wednesday and the miners.  Gone was the quaint notion of video.  Obsolete the idea of waiting 10 minutes, much less until 11.  This (like so many events) played out in real-time in bits and bites transferred in real-time around the world–with instant commentary from Twitter, blogs and news organizations like CBS (where I work) CNN, NBC etc.

And as all of this was going on — generally in that lull when the rescue capsule was being sent back down to the miners and being reloaded and resurfacing — I was able to think about the change I have seen in the news model both as a consumer and a professional.

I did wait for film (or video) at 11.  I can remember when a reporter going live was a big deal.  I’ve sprinted across snow-covered fields in New Hampshire to a feed point to make slot.

I’ve also pulled out an air-card or MiFi and upload a video file, used QIK to send breaking news video back and updated a story via Twitter using my smart phone camera.

I am not sure I know the “tipping” point in all of this-when the idea of waiting became quaint, but its a good thing.  News  is a commodity as is information.

While I truly do not think “back in the day” that information was being hoarded and doled out–there was a certain eloquence to it.  I also would not have been subjected to Ali Velshi on CNN cramming himself into a model of the rescue capsule.

And that’s not to pick on Mr. Velshi (whom I do not know). It’s the rest of the story.  Because we demand to see these things unfold in real-time and unedited, the ability to package and present may be a victim.

Flashback to January of 2010 and the Miracle on the Hudson.  Gripping pictures, a story with a happy ending–and miles of instant analysis.

Even when the news is bleakest–9/11 is the moment that leaps to mind the need to “fill the void” was evident.  I can even think back to the crash of TWA flight 800 off the coast of Long Island–and the long night I spent on a boat listening to coverage that did not equate with what I was seeing (my Nextel died so I was on my own until the boat came in)–but it’s not all bad, it really is not.

Because all of those sources, all of that information–gives us the power to be the packager.  Yes, news organizations need to be the gatekeeper.  But I can be my own editor and decide what makes sense.

So turn to Twitter, see what your social network is sharing via Facebook–check the blogs watch the video–its part of the human experience and its the job of my colleagues and me to make sure its there for you with context.

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Would You Believe?

It was one of those days when through varied implied and implicit connections I managed to have conversations I had a seven in the morning ring true by four in the afternoon–without having any knowledge that one would lead to the other.  It’s a true Maxwell Smart, “Would you believe?” moment.

In the morning I was talking to a commuting buddy of mine about how blogs and social network can drive the news cycle.  The example we were discussing was the issue reported in the iPhone 4 device.  Here’s a good write through on that if you need the background.

The upshot of the discussion though was how a few bloggers can grab hold of something–and drive via Twitter, Facebook and comments a story until the “main stream” media picks up on it.

So today–what would happen if the BP capping of the well spewing oil in the Gulf was staged.

Step away for a moment.  How easy would it be for them to design a set similar to the one we’ve seen for more than 80 days from the bottom of the Gulf of oil spewing.  But this time–with no oil and this cap in place?  Switch the video source–and what do you know, it’s a capped well, right?

A few conspiracy theorists blog about this.  Spread it via Twitter.  A few Facebook shares–and you have a rumor ready to rumble along.

The final connection to all of this was an email today that CBS News was going to support the News Literacy Project.  One of the goals of this project is to help primarily students differentiate fact and fiction in this connected world.

Play it out–in Dallas in November of 1963.  Imagine a wired world, with instant mobile images and video.  Twitter to share the news far and wide and the second gunman theory? What would that look like today?

Would you believe we have the power to make things happen–to make people listen.  I guess it’s equally important to have something to say.

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