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Maintenance Day

This site may go down for a bit due to some maintenance.  If When I get the site back up, this post will be taken down.

Wish me luck :-)

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« Previous Entry: Quotes n Notes: Visioneering Your Futures

Quotes n Notes: Visioneering Your Futures

"It's a poor sort of memory that only works backwards" ~ Lewis Carroll

The best performers - be they athletes or actors, singers or speakers - visualize their successes before they happen. They "see" the actions and reactions in their mind's eye. Thus, when it's time to shine, they've already "seen" how things unfold (or can unfold) and they work from that.

In The Last Samurai, one scene shows the main character practice this "seeing" - first visually and then actually.

Produce your content with focus. See the message. Produce the message.

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« Previous Entry: Whistle Stops: 06/19/10

Whistle Stops: 06/19/10

Whistlestops_39_3 Whistle Stops are conversations, eye-openers, or tools representing the brain train discovered while traveling along the Conversphere.  From business to education, life hacks to giving back, these are the posts and links that have in some way grabbed my attention this week!

Elsewhere:

Here at ConverStations (in case you missed it):

And on Twitter or Facebook:

  • The strongest faith looks backward AND forward. Poor is the faith that looks only in remembrance. #Faith  
  • Avoid the Noise: Like a Tweet? Favorite it now, RT it later. Everyone wins. #SkimScanSave  
  • 10 Legit Ways to Gain a Twitter Fast Friend Following http://bit.ly/j8npfb #702010 
  • The "problem" is often not THE problem. #Questioning
  • Aint' it funny how the way you feel shows On Your Face? "A merry heart maketh a cheerful countenance. . ." Prv 15:13 #EWF
  • "In teaching you cannot see the fruit of a day's work. It is invisible & remains so, maybe for 20 years."~Jacques Barzun
  • When I aspire to be the dumbest person in the room or conversation (mindset, not actions), I learn a ton!!
  • Biz Folks "When I was in School..." shouldn't b past tense; Edu Folks "When they get in the Real World" happens daily #bizucation

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« Previous Entry: Half-a-Blog: Tethered to SoLoMo

Half-a-Blog: Tethered to SoLoMo

Halfblog Putting a few pieces together on some of these "half-baked, half-blogs" . . .

Tethered to Always On

I left my iPhone in the car. At first, I thought "big deal" -- at first. But then, I saw a great photo/story opp I wanted to share on Instagram . . . and reached for a device that wasn't there. No problem. I noticed clouds overhead and wanted to see the radar . . . and remembered my phone, in my car.

I wondered how come my best friend hadn't texted me yet, if I had checked in at my choice of workstation for the day, if the Pirates won. I wanted to listen to the book I had on Audible, check my balance in my bank, cross reference a Bible verse . . . but all that was in the car.

So many things one can do on a mobile device, from social to local, everything is becoming . . .

So-Lo-Mo, Joe

If you haven't heard of the newest acronymn, you will - because it's sticking around. Just like blogs were a handful of years ago, the Social/Local/Mobile (SoLoMo) push is gaining speed in usage, infosumption, and content production. By business and individuals.

And mobile apps are becoming so easy to create, every freelancer should have their own app. Of course, the more in-depth of an app you want, the more it will cost. And there is profit to be made on an app, especially if  you . . .

Build Your Mobile Apps with In-App Purchase

I'm hooked on the Smule Magic Piano. It's the closest thing to a game I have on my device. So relaxing. A free app, that gives away free songs daily. Yet it also has it's best songs available for sale. Immediately. With a single click. This could get has become addicting.

I notice some of the most popular apps available are free on the download, then upgrades and additions are premium and available for purchase (freemium). These apps get the users in the habit of using - so much so that they become . . .

Tethered to Always On - I'm gonna go get my phone from the car.

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« Previous Entry: Strong End Summit: Don't Hear the Boundaries

Strong End Summit: Don't Hear the Boundaries

Friday afternoons are often a bit more relaxed, but relaxed doesn't mean lazy. The Strong-End Summits (videos that will keep brains and hearts afire) are a way to end our week strong and come back refreshed.


A few immersions into new possibilities (see if you can hear them)

Maya Beiser's presentation at TED2011

The 2Cellos (Sulic & Hauser) SCAMPER an anthem

One Cello - Four Players: Simultaneously

Those weren't Mission:Impossible, but this one is:

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« Previous Entry: Blogs as a Classroom Tool (Guest Post)

Blogs as a Classroom Tool (Guest Post)

71366436 by Lindsey Wright

Classroom learning has come a long way since the Internet first entered classrooms around 20 years ago, and even since the first online school presented an alternative to attending traditional classes. Now, tablet computers, smartphones, and a host of other interactive technology enables students to connect with learning resources, teachers, and peers around the globe. While much ink has been spilled discussing the dangers of allowing students to use social media and the Net freely, the benefits fostered by these technological leaps mustn't be overlooked. Of the beneficial applications of Web 2.0 in the context of education, one of the most well-used by teachers and students is the blog, a web tool whose simple communicative power and interactive nature make it a favorite. 

Blog Basics 

Much has been made of blogs: commercials joke about them, TV shows discuss their power, and traditional media outlets track their every move. One need look no further than The Guardian’s list of the 50 most influential blogs (which includes recognizable names like Perez Hilton alongside the likes of Students for a Free Tibet and the techno-junkies of Engadget) to see exactly how important blogging has become in popular culture and academic circles both. 

Even in its most basic form, the blog’s appeal from an education perspective is the interactivity it invites. Rather than perpetuating a gulf across which readers and authors rarely or never interact, the blog invites readers to post their own thoughts and share their expertise, thereby transforming it from a unilateral transmission of knowledge into a constantly changing vehicle through which knowledge is imparted in multiple directions. 

Students and Technology 

Today’s students inhabit a digital world. Many are plugged in for most of the day, and asking them to turn off their cell phones can be enough to induce an anxiety attack. In fact, research shows that modern technology has actually changed the way the brain works. It can shorten attention spans and reduce the capacity to communicate in the analog world. This doesn’t mean that technology should be completely eschewed, however. On the contrary, numerous studies have found that embracing the digital world is also highly effective at engaging students. 

A study published by Walden University, highlighted a number of facts related to the role of technology in the classroom. For instance, it was found that students who actively used technology as part of their learning process tended to be more engaged. This engagement translates over to development in critical cognition, a skill many students struggle to build and teachers take great pains to encourage. As an extension of classroom technology, the blog gives students the opportunity to interact with lesson materials, share their thoughts, think critically about problems with peers, and share research related to their own investigations. 

The Educational Blog Structure 

Students might not believe it, but they crave structure. This is why classrooms have rules and good parents establish boundaries. The blogosphere should be no different, and educators setting up classroom blogs should take steps as appropriate to insure that their students are protected from outside threat and interference, and that they behave in a suitable manner at all times when using the class blog. To this end, a number of specialized blogging services have emerged that allow teachers to establish a controlled blog environment. 

For elementary and middle school students, one of the best is KidBlog.org. This site requires a username and password to log on, ensuring that only those with business on the site and invited by the teacher can post. Furthermore, it allows teachers to set up the blog as private, ensuring that only other class members can see blog postings. Teachers maintain complete control of the site and can establish rules related to such common online problems as bullying, thereby eliminating one of the biggest concerns of parents and educators when it comes to using internet technology in the classroom. ClassBlogs.us is another popular education blogging tool more suitable for high school students. While blog controls are similar to those discussed above, ClassBlog offers additional features including learning logs and electronic portfolios to make students take charge of their digital learning beyond their contribution to the blog. 

The Role of the Blog 

The blog as a learning tool can fill a number of roles, some of them not necessarily new in and of themselves. For instance, it’s not a stretch to take the typical student essay question and create a blog posting from it. Instead of simply writing an essay to be read only by the teacher, students' peers can comment on their writing, refer to their own textual support, and engage in a group discussion through comments and follow-up posts. The blog becomes another tool to foster that most elusive of classroom objectives: critical thinking. 

Blogs can also serve as bridges between classrooms, enabling collaborative work between classes in the same school, or connecting students between states, countries, or continents. They can also grow into repositories of past classes' work, becoming a developing resource for teachers' and future students' reference in completing particular assignments or practicing certain exercises from one year to the next. Whatever their specific use, blogs' key function is to turn any passive, one-sided transmission into an opportunity for conversation. 

Blogs are not without risks, and teachers must be aware of those risks if they are going to effectively use blog tools in their classrooms. Careful monitoring and clear rules are essential to maintaining the integrity of a class blog. However, with the proper precautions and common sense safety, a blog can lead students to participate in critical thinking beyond the classroom, engage subject matter without the prodding of a traditional homework assignment, and contribute to a learning environment in which students seek information beyond that found in their textbooks, in interaction with each other.

###

Lindsey Wright is fascinated with the potential of emerging educational technologies, particularly the online school, to transform the landscape of learning. She writes about web-based learning, electronic and mobile learning, and the possible future of education.

 

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« Previous Entry: "Am I Adding to the Conversation?"

"Am I Adding to the Conversation?"

I hear this question a lot. Usually about two weeks after someone starts a blog or twitter account.

"Am I Adding to the Conversation?"

It's a good question -- and at the same time, a not-so-great question.

456611804_d638a680cb Really? What on earth do any of us think we can add to the conversation that will be mountain moving? After all, there's nothing new under the sun, hmm?

In some sense, no - none of us are able to add to the global conversation, per se. And what a freeing thought that should be to us.

And oh, the pressures of being eloquent, prize-winning prose-ologists . . . well, I get mental meditating on such massive machinations.

So now that we understand our words will hardly motivate nations or create cultural shifts or gaps in the ozone - now we can be free to just spill and see what transpires.

Write fast, publish bits and pieces, and by articulating what you're thinking -- you'll get better.

All that said -- yes. You are adding a great deal to the conversation. Because you're participating in it. If it's important to you, it will be important to someone else too. And there's always room for one more good one.

There's always room for one more good one.

Photo on Flickr by ohhector

 

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« Previous Entry: Can Your Customers Find You? #ShinglePage

Can Your Customers Find You? #ShinglePage

Too many small businesses in rural areas are stuck in the yellow pages ages. As I drive through the rural towns of the Midwest and talk to mom 'n pops around the country, they are at a loss.

Many small rural businesses think they have to compete with the big box stores (they don't) and they have already developed a loser's limp.

But there are some interesting statistics they may not know. Here's what they should know:

30% of small businesses do not have their own website.

20% of all searches are for local businesses

40% of all mobile searches are local

Here's what we might not know: We might NOT know if your business exists.

Are you findable on the web?

To get started - a single page (or "shingle page" as I call 'em) can help get a footing to findability.

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« Previous Entry: Walking the Stacks of Our Life

Walking the Stacks of Our Life

45394246 While cooking up some scrambled eggs, I looked in the fridge to see what I could add to the mix. Ham? Not today. Rice? Uh -- no. Bell Pepper?  Yes, that sounds good.

While folding the eggs (want fluffly? fold, then scramble), I wondered how scrambled eggs was like content marketing with social media.

"Are scrambled eggs like blogging?"

Maybe yes, maybe no. Ah, but the questioning itself . . .

The interesting habit many pick up after a few months of blogging is this type of questioning conversation in their mind.

"Is _____ like _____ ?"

Thinking in these metaphors, similes, and analogies helps keep our storytelling and storylistening fresh. 

The world becomes a library as we walk the stacks of our life.

"The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing. One cannot help but be in awe when he contemplates the mysteries of eternity, of life, of the marvelous structure of reality." - Albert Einstein

 

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« Previous Entry: Are You Talking Write? #TalkWrite

Are You Talking Write? #TalkWrite

Talkwrite A few years ago, The Age of Conversation launched its first edition. I was fortunate to be part of the league of contributing authors.

My piece pointed towards how writing for the conversational reader was changing. While much of this style of writing includes what I call Eye Rests, my thinking is we need to write conversationally, not compostionally, dig?

The writing is easier. The reading is easier. And by the similarity, you will be more easily recognized in both your talking and your writing.  Here's the piece that appeared in AOC I a few years ago:

Do You Talk Write?

Don't be nervous. It's okay. You don't even have to imagine your audience in underwear. It's not so bad, ya'know.  Just put both hands on the keyboard and start talking...with your fingers. Write like you talk and more people will hear what you're writing.

If you're hung up on the advice of your English teacher, get over it. Either he didn't explain right...or he was wrong.  Top Journalism professors have been singing the "write like you talk" mantra for decades. A few reasons why:

  • People are more likely to remember what you've written.
  • Because they remember it, they are more likely to share your thoughts with others.
  • We live in the McNews generation. We scan. Lectures don't sustain our attention - neither do long sentences.

Writing like you talk can also be a freeing feeling to those who think they are poor writers. Of course, writing is a muscle that improves with consistent use. Here are a few exercises to build up those muscles.

Get to the Point: You can always elaborate as you get into the story, but unless you want to lose readers...get to the point likkety-split.

Pause on Purpose: How do you punctuate a pause when you're talking? With a sigh? Maybe a single word. Hmmm...how can we put this in written form? Oh...we just did, yes?

Read Out Loud: We've all seen this exercise, but do we practice it? If you do, one of two things will happen. Either you'll write like you talk - or talk like you write. For the love of Shakespeare, let's hope it's the former.

Keep 'em Moving: Your words. Your readers eyes. Like they're standing in line at Starbucks waiting for morning coffee. Keep them moving forward or lose 'em.

Listen, when your readers tell you they can hear your voice in the words - you've hit the target.

Still nervous? Don't be. Remember, you can always imagine your audience wearing a clown nose or something.

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« Previous Entry: Driving the Streets of Social Media

Driving the Streets of Social Media

90910994 I don't like to tailgate others when I drive.  I really really don't like it when others tailgate me.  Why would anyone want to tailgate?

Also disturbing is when people drive while texting or driving drunk.  Or dart in and out and between lanes during commute times (wake up earlier?). Or throw cigarettes out the window.  And cruise control on a busy freeway ... and bright lights at night ... and...

Why do people do that?  I choose not to drive like that (and I hope you don't either).

I guess there are many ways to drive, different reasons, multiple circumstances.

Just because we don't like how some folks drive, that doesn't stop us from getting behind the wheel. Does it?

On Twitter, some folks talk about their pizza. On Facebook, some folks show images of their cat yawning. Don't like it or understand it?  Then don't do that.

There is no rule that says you have to talk about your pizza or show pictures of your pets.

I guess there are many ways to engage, different reasons, multiple circumstances.

 

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« Previous Entry: Guest Post: Develop a Copyright Strategy

Guest Post: Develop a Copyright Strategy

This guest post is written by Lauren Carlson of Software Advice and points to an important topic and blog post about Copyright Protection

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. So, when someone copies your work, you should be delighted, right? Not necessarily.

We at Software Advice have been active bloggers for quite some time, and as a result, have often had our content "borrowed" by other websites. Going along with the above adage, we weren't bothered too much, and thought it was nice that other sites wanted to use our content. However, with Google's latest algorithm change, the Panda update, things have changed up a bit.

The Panda update was meant to reduce the number of "spammy" websites, or content scrapers, that don't produce original content, but steal from other websites. This sounds like a positive update, but in some cases, Google screwed up. When the update went out, we saw a handful of spam sites disappear - good news. However, we also started to see cases in which spam sites were ranking higher than the original publishers of the content. Unfortunately, we experienced this firsthand.

The logical thing to do would be to force the scraper site to remove the stolen content. However, filing an unregistered copyright claim will do about as much damage as a toothless tiger. The only way to ensure that your content is protected is to register it with the U.S. Copyright office. So, that's what we did. Yes, all 1,200 pages of our website are now protected. Spammers beware! The process of copyrighting content is somewhat involved and can be slightly overwhelming for the first-timers out there. So, we decided to write about our experience, explain the process, and pass along any little tidbits of wisdom we picked up along the way.

To read the post, visit our blog here.

 ---

Lauren Carlson writes about various topics related to CRM software, with particular interest in sales force automation, marketing automation, and customer service. She has a background in the music industry, and when she isn't writing about software, you can find her running at Town Lake and singing at local venues. She is a graduate of the University of Texas with a bachelor's degree in journalism.

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