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  • June 2023
    S M T W T F S
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Lose the Phone; Get Creative

Students looking into phones and tablet pc at school - Shutterstock

Students looking into phones and tablet pc at school – Shutterstock

Listening to Science Friday last week, I was intrigued by a segment about how our ubiquitous use of smart phones is actually decreasing our creativity.

The basic premise here is that every second that we’re not engaged at work or doing chores or other responsible things, we’re using our phones to play games or network or watch videos.

Consider this WNYC article referenced during the show, which says:

Fifty-eight percent of American adults have a smartphone today. The average mobile consumer checks their device 150 times a day, and 67 percent of the time, that’s not because it rang or vibrated. Forty-four percent of Americans have slept with their phone next to their beds.

So what’s the big deal? Well, we’re filling our brains up with nearly passive, slack-jawed “entertainment,” and we’re losing our ability to let our minds wander. The continuation of the premise is that this is affecting our ability to think deeper – or in some cases at all. Their argument is that in order to get creative, often we have to get bored first. We have to have nothing else to do and THEN we turn our brains on. It works for some, a study from last year showed that “Most men would rather shock themselves than be alone with their thoughts.

But kids do get bored. I did it, my kids do it, and I’m sure you did it. But remember that at some point you hit a rock bottom on boredom, which launched into some creative game, process or endeavor. I’m going to assume here that you don’t permit your small children to play on devices ANY time they want. But, are we missing out on all that as teens and adults?

I used to tell my nephew all the time that I never got bored, that I always found something to do. That was at the time of my life when I was playing and writing A LOT of music. Before that I had been doing a lot of theater. Before that it was writing or role playing games or LEGO. It was something.

That was before I had all these responsibilities where my free time was just long enough to annoy me, but not long enough to get involved in anything. I’m thinking of that space between getting home from work and getting dinner ready. That few minutes between cleaning up the dinner dishes and getting the kids ready for bed. Those minutes between getting the kids in the bath and then having to get them out again.

Or I’m stuck in the car on my long commute. Boring, maybe, but not the best time to learn to play the violin, for instance. So, that’s my problem. Even my time in the car is often spent listening to NPR or podcasts. I never just drive silently and think – again, it’s partial thinking. I still have to drive (yawn).

New Tech City has paired with the phone app Moment to help people rethink your relationship with your tech and is developing a Bored and Brilliant project to “help you detach from your phone and spend more time thinking creatively.”

Moment helps you track the time on your phone and lets you set timers to better manage your time. Want it to ding you after 10 minutes on Facebook? Goes quicker than you thought, I bet. It’s interesting and I’m going to try it out. Had a family feature too…Hmmm.

Of course, critics of the radio piece and project have focused intently on the word “boredom,” which they feel isn’t accurate for what we’re talking about. Boredom is more, they say, than just not having anything to do. But I think they’re arguing semantics. Anecdotally it makes very clear sense to me, and I applaud the effort.

Challenges kick off Feb 2 – are you in?


Friday Frivolity: A Facebook Update In Real Life

Many of us get really frustrated when our online platforms make changes to the user experience. Sometimes we like them, but more often than not, we get really angry and outraged by changes to our favorite social networks. I’m not immune to the anger; I’ve just gotten really good about understanding that I don’t have control over these things and I’m not obligated to use the platforms anyway. But, still, it can be a hassle.

I’m also a big fan of the “[insert online tool] in Real Life” meme. This video, shared with me by one of my bosses, demonstrates the disregard many of us feel when new changes occur to these platforms. I give you: A Facebook Update In Real Life.


Internet Party: Social Sites as People

Or, Why Nobody Gets Anything Done On the Web.

A new fav. Enjoy.

The Google portion is one of my favorites. Also, Facebook not caring.

YOLO, LOL, SMRICJRES. Okay, I made that last one up.

Podcasting Continues its Slow, Steady Burn

I’m happy to report, NPR is celebrating podcasts on Morning Edition.

First of all, let me tell you I was caught off guard. I have always felt, anecdotally, that podcasting continued its slow burn of acceptance and usage. But it’s hard to tell as research on it is thin. PEW hasn’t covered it much since 2008, and Edison put out The Current State Of Podcasting 2010, which showed, among other things, that podcasting had emerged from the early adopter phase into a more mainstream community. My guess is, anecdotally, that it’s because we’re no longer counting a podcast as an audio file delivered by RSS – per the definition, but also because tech has gotten a little easier and mainstream media continues to push podcasting as an on-demand distribution channel. See NPR Podcasts, for example.

podcast_logoSo anyway, it was a pleasant surprise to hear an Arts & Life episode featuring “‘Bowery Boys‘ Are Amateur But Beloved New York Historians.”

The authors, from the story:

“We bought Podcasting for Dummies,” says Meyers, “partially to figure out what a podcast was, and also how to record these things.”

The pair doesn’t use fancy equipment, either.

“Bowery Boys” co-hosts Tom Meyers and Greg Young call themselves “home-schooled historians,” and they do extensive research for their show and its related blog. For an episode about Manhattan’s grid pattern, they dug up this map from a book published in 1840.

“I think that for the first episode, we recorded with a spare karaoke microphone that we had in the closet for … other occasions,” recalls Meyers, laughing.

Their story really resonates with me for several reasons. Podcasting – and much of social media – is not about production or gear or even spelling (based on much of it I see), it’s about passion. It’s about sharing your passion with the world – and the technology just helps amplify. To hit any sort of critical mass – and I use the term loosely – you still have to be cogent, informative and entertaining. Why else read/listen/watch?

I’m looking forward to catching the rest of the featured podcasts. In the meantime, what are you doing to share your passion for work or life?

Friday Frivolity: Look at this Instagram

During a very interesting professional development presentation at Kent State University yesterday, I was exposed to this highly entertaining video from College Humor: Look at this Instagram. It says a lot about our desperate need to overuse fun social tools. And what it says about us. Visual communication can be an amazing way to tell stories, but what story are we inadvertently telling? Take a look at your social media posts, bios and pictures. What are you really telling people?

Special thanks to Eric Stoller for the presentation and for showing me this video. I’ll be posting some more in-depth thoughts about his “Digital Identity, Social Media and Higher Education” presentation as time allows. But in the meantime, enjoy…


My apologies, but College Humor has disabled embedding this video. You can still click on it to watch on YouTube. It’s worth the click.

Mobile and Social Snapshot – Thoughts this week

A few posts from around the web this week have caught my eye – as well as the eyes of the denizens of my own social networks. I thought I’d share some of those thoughts with you.

First, mobile.

MarketingProf’s article Mobile Subscriptions to Surpass World Population by 2013  provides some really great insight into the world-wide mobile landscape, including:

As of early 2012, more than six billion mobile subscriptions were in use around the world (pre-paid and post-paid), providing mobile access for more than three-quarters (75%) of the world’s inhabitants.

It’s no surprise to me that mobile is so prevalent, especially where wire-based Internet infrastructure isn’t there. Mobile has the greatest potential because it’s not just a convenience in some places – it’s an information and communication necessity. Great stats here. Check it out.

Next is PR Daily’s 5 Common Mobile Myths Debunked. It’s a great read for anyone thinking about or engaging in mobile marketing. Two of my favorites here are “Your mobile audience is distracted” and “Mobile apps are much more powerful than mobile websites.” You will learn something here, even if you’ve done some mobile marketing recently. If you’re working with an agency, see if they’ve recently spouted any of these to you. If so, ask them about it or start thinking about changing agencies. 🙂

Finally, this last article has really created a maelstrom amongst my social media peers – at least the ones I respect. NextGenJournal’s eye-catching headline “Why Every Social Media Manager Should Be Under 25” written by a recent college grad. It’s a short article, but teeth-clenching, and it’s agreed that the real value of the article comes from the comments. Some of my favorites include:

  • Linkbait. And a ridiculous premise.- Meg Geddes
  • …you just alienated every hiring manager you’re likely to encounter by calling them old and out-of-touch. – Peggy Gartin
  • When I have clients who need a community manager skilled in posting duckface photos on Facebook, tweets with text slang, Forever 21 hauling videos on YouTube and Tumblrs populated with the latest animated gifs, I know exactly who to call. – David Jones
  • Forgive me if I missed it since there are a whole lot of comments/replies here, but it appears the author hasn’t responded to any of the comments. Yeah, these kids really GET social media these days. *insert eye roll* – Kelby Hartson Carr

And it goes on and on. I personally haven’t gotten through the 350+ comments, but I’ll go back and read them when I have a bad day. They are creative and uplifting. In the meantime, I hope the author – through all the sarcasm, finger wagging and lecturing – understands what the largely-over-25 community-at-large was trying to tell her. And I hope she listens. Update: I’ve not seen a response from the author, but here is a response from the site where her post lives, NextGenJournal.

What’s grabbed your attention this week?

Facebook Timeline: Outrage and now Scams

Someecards achtung user card

A lot of folks are hating on the new Facebook Timeline. Personally, I love it. Got my cover image up and am aiming to be a little more creative with the cover image when I get a few minutes.

But now the new thing is, as reported by Inside Facebook, is Timeline-related scams develop on Facebook:

“A number of scammers are taking advantage of Timeline backlash by developing pages that include deceptive instructions on how to revert to the old profile. These fraudulent Facebook pages prompt users to click a number of Like buttons, invite friends, watch YouTube videos and download files. Timeline, however, is permanent once a user opts in to try it, and will be mandatory across the site within weeks.”

Another post I saw today covers the “Hover Over My Name” scam detailed by Jon Loomer, which unveils a similar scam with a twist on an old scam.

Facebook has always had a problem with the general user being able to keep up with the changes and trends. A lot of people just don’t pay attention. A lot of people just want things to stay the same. But things changes, folks.

I think the most damaging issue here as noted by the Inside Facebook article is:

As of this writing, the Facebook Security page has not warned users of claims to deactivate Timeline. There is also nothing in the Help Center explicitly telling people that the feature cannot be removed.

I think one’s perspective on the educational portion of sites like this changing is how much time you spend researching or reading about the change. If you did, you feel like the site did a good job. If you didn’t, then you feel like they abandoned you. YouTube did a nice job of education folks about the new profile pages when it made its changes. While there are still complaints, I don’t feel that get as much press.

Either way, these services are controlled by the owners of the sites, not you. So we’re at their mercy for now. Don’t like it? Disengage or roll with it. Just be careful and think for a second before you a) blindly do something you think will “secure” you or b) ask others to pass it on.

What’s up with Luke Armour?

Hi. I’m Luke Armour. You may remember me from such memorable moments as Friday FrivolityA Virtual PR Murder Mystery, and even sometimes some thought-provoking articles and podcasts.

Recently I made a career change and left my position at Fleishman-Hillard. Many factors contributed, including a lengthy commute, work load/type, travel and being too far from my growing family for too many hours a day. If you’ve ever driven in Cleveland during the winter you’ll understand exactly what I’m saying. Add another 60 miles to that and you’ll wonder how I managed for 3.5 years. I sometimes do.

I enjoyed my time at FH, learned a lot, made some friends in house and on the client side, and have many fond memories. But it was time to move on.

In the short term, I am conducting some freelance work as a marketing and communications consultant. I have my eggs in a basket or two for the time being. I’m closer to home (read: in home). I’m pretty happy.

So, with my reduced commute and fiery new take on life, I expect to be making this blog a more productive and interactive venue…again.

Thanks for your patience and hope to see you around. Feel free to connect with me here, on Twitter or on LinkedIn.

Important Facebook Changes And Why You Should Care

In an effort to become the center of the social hub and violate your privacy (which, incidentally, Facebook doesn’t believe in anyway), Facebook made some interesting changes recently to…well, nearly everything. As a marketer and, more importantly, your friend, I just want to point a few things out that may be of interest to you.

Facebook changed its privacy policy AGAIN. You may want to check to see how much of your information is shared on Facebook to people who aren’t your friends. And I mean friends in the Facebookian sense, not, you know, real friends. Visit your profile while you are NOT logged in and see how much of your information you can see. My guess is, you’ll see a whole lot more than you thought. You can change this in the privacy settings. You should all do this. Facebook makes it a point not to widely announce these changes to the average user, so people who want to protect their info should regularly check to see what the privacy settings are. When the Internet nerd herd raises alarm bells about this, I’ll try to keep you in the loop.

Continue reading

Friday Frivolity – Web Site Story

Geek dinners tend to resort to nerdy talk about tech news, the latest shiny social media gadget, and the latest social networking stories and stats. In our space, it also tends to turn into a discussion of the latest PR and marketing gaffes. It is called a Geek Dinner, after all.

I was pleased, while in Toronto last week for a vacation with my wife, when she agreed to join me for such a meet up with some of Toronto’s PR and marketing best, Donna Papacosta, Dave Fleet, Martin Waxman, Ed Lee, and fellow FHers David Bradfield and Eden Spodek. It was a blast to meet some of my coworkers face-to-face finally and shake hands with some of my inspirations and corporate rivals. Bonus, my wife even enjoyed it, so she says.

Donna, in addition to organizing the whole thing, tipped me off to this hilarious gem from College Humor that turns West Side Story into…well, I imagine what a Geek Dinner Musical would sound like. Thanks to all for making the trip downtown for the meet up.

Vodpod videos no longer available. more about “Friday Frivolity – Web Site Story“, posted with vodpod