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Every Minute Counts.

May 10, 2010
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Everything we do has an effect. From the toothpaste we use to brush our teeth, to the eggs we eat for breakfast. Whether or not we take the bus to work or school, or walk, or drive individually in a car. Did you pack your lunch today in a paper bag and wrap everything inside in plastic? Maybe you took the time to find a recycling bin for your empty plastic bottle. Do you own a reuseable bottle? Do you try and buy local, keeping more money in the community? Do you separate your trash? Do you choose not to eat processed foods? Do you carpool?

In the face of global climate change, most of us are thinking about these things, choosing to reduce, reuse, and recycle, whether for hipster reasons or more genuine ones. But do you ever stop and think about what the Web is doing to the environment? The web makes life easy. We get up in the morning, find out what the weather is going to be, check on friends through Facebook and learn more about the world we live in. We keep in touch, work distantly, share knowledge. We explore other cultures, learn from experts, and contribute to collaborative projects. We enhance our lives in a myriad of ways that wouldn’t be possible without the web. And it’s all “green” right? Good for the earth?

Well, not really.

Every minute, every hour we spend connected, we are gaining valuable information… and losing valuable resources. It’s not just our laptops and desktops, but our televisions, our mobile phones, our iPods, our xboxes… any electronic device, really. And its not just the energy it takes to power your device and the web itself, its also the materials that went into creating the devices and the energy that was used and the greenhouse gases that were emitted to manufacture the device.

We can’t eliminate computers and cell phones and gadgets from our lives, so we just have to learn to be more environmentally friendly about the way we manufacture and use electronics and the internet. We have to learn to be aware, and (please excuse the rhyme…) we have to learn to share, too. We have to tell our friends and family, and not in a preachy way, but in a “did you know?” kind of way.

We need to learn how to conserve energy, not just at home and at work but online too. Which is why I developed InteractiveCarbon.com, a resource for more information and also a handy tool you can use to get others interested in conserving energy too.

Or at least get them thinking about it. Check it out here.

Preserving… the human race?

May 5, 2010
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Everything is online these days. And anyone can tell you that, not just the 20-somethings and the younger generation who have been raised in a web-world of wonderment. My grandmother asked me the other day, in regards to — well, I don’t remember, actually (let’s blame that on Google making me stupid, shall we?) — anyway, she said to me, “Can’t you find that online?” She’s honing in on 80.

This morning I logged onto Facebook to find this message on a friend’s status:

There’s a site called Spokeo.com, a new online phone book w/personal information: everything from your pics posted online, approx credit score, home
value, income, address, age, etc. To remove yourself: search for yourself to find the URL of your page, copy it and then click on “Privacy” at the bottom of the page and paste the URL to remove yourself.

Of course, I immediately checked it out, and found that according to Spokeo.com (or spookey.com as some friends commented) informed me that there are three Linda Misiura’s on the East Coast, and one of them was me… at least by my address. Now, that’s worrisome, but really, a quick Google search would probably bring that up anyway. As I explored further, I discovered that spokeo.com thinks that I’m in my 70s and that I have below average income. While the income thing is most certainly true and I have just hit a major mile marker as far as age, it just wasn’t quite that high up the scale. So I left it, as is, because really, that’s not me.

Our personal information is available in numerous places online, more than likely, and also more than likely, we are the ones that put it there. From profiles on social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter to online shopping systems like PayPal and GoogleCheckout to random services we sign up for on the web, we’re constantly putting our information out there. Are we putting too much on the web? Not enough? The wrong things?

The Internet makes it possible for us to track every aspect of our lives and preserve it for posterity. But what happens if there is no web? What happens if, or the cynical might perhaps say when, the digital breaks down? Will be lose everything? There is a movement being made right now to preserve everything digitally… but is this too much risk? Are we preserving the human race for eternity or are we risking losing everything?

The argument is to be made for backups, I think. And in this case, we have to think about keeping hardcopies of the really important things that archeologists will be looking for in the future, just in case the unthinkable occurs.

Fumbling Toward the Future.

April 28, 2010
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Second Life. Have you heard of it?

Released in 2003 by Linden Labs, Second Life is a massively multiplay online world in which people live through simulations of people, called avatars. It hit it big for a while: CNN had a news desk in Second Life, American Apparel was selling virtual clothes in a virtual store front, and IBM took initiatives to build an online presence.

Seven years later, in the start of the second decade of the new millennium, Second Life mania has died down. But why? Is it still a valuable business tool, as some claim? Or is it simply a more “realistic” version of World of Warcraft? Is it a game, or something more? Is it the future?

From a business perspective, Second Life can save a company a lot of money, cutting down on travel costs, both in terms of money and time. Other than saving, it appears that there isn’t much room in Second Life for Big Business to be making money, so is there any real value in it for corporate America? Do these virtual interactions really serve the same purpose as in-person meetings do?

In a creative environment, there may be a desire to use such technology to communicate with distanced offices, and yet I think that the creative types will find the environment of Second Life does not enhance the conversation at all. Though are things to look at, “people” to look at, having conferences in this virtual environment is probably no more productive than handling the same conversation over the phone, and perhaps even less due to the distraction factor. Enter Skype: the online video conference service. Now that most laptops come equipped with cameras, Skype is taking off in a way that Second Life never did, and for this reason: in business, people want to deal with people.

Because when it comes down to it, we want to collaborate with other human beings. We want to see their expressions and hear their voices. We want the hands flapping around and adding color. Or, at least I do.

So are these virtual worlds the future? What are your thoughts on virtual worlds mixing with business?

Welcome, iPad.

April 2, 2010

Hello, iPad! Welcome to the world. It’s a little different now than it was when your parents were growing up, but let me tell you, Powerbook and Macbook Pro are so, so proud of you.

You’re causing quite a stir in the world, let me tell you. People are up in arms over whether you’re the next hot new thing or whether you’re going to live your own peaceful life, keeping to yourself like your Uncle Newton.

It’s because you’re different. Now, don’t take that in a bad way, we’re all a little different. But you, Pioneer, are the first of your kind: you’re accessible to all in both price and size and you’re beautiful to boot.

But that comes not without controversy. You see, while you’re stylish and beautiful and can access the internet without a contract, you also can’t not be adapted or changed or programed in anyway. Which is good for you, and good for your everyday owners, too. You’re less likely to catch a virus and unlikely to be taken apart to be left in pieces by a novice programmer. However, this means that you won’t grow as quickly as some of your ancestors. You’re not like everyone else, you know. You’re great for reading or finding a recipe or watching movies anywhere on-the-go. And you’re going to be famous for your battery life and portability.

But you’re going to have some adversaries too, dear. You’re not good for word processing and you’re not good for creation. At least right now. I don’t want to limit you, I want you to grow! I’m telling you your limitations so you can be aware of them and work beyond them. Don’t worry, you’ll have help along the way, though not like your parents did. Most of your new upgrades and software will come from the top programmers, not from tinkerers and techies with curiosity and a drive to create and make things better. I’m not sure how this will work out yet, but I will be there to see you through.

Are you a computer? An electronic device? A giant iTouch? Honey, I’m not sure. We’re just going to have to wait and see. You’re either going to live a life of fame or go out with a bang. It’s up to your owners, now…

I need:

March 19, 2010
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Spring Break. Pronto.

And generative technologies will continue to make us more dependent on technology and perhaps cause us to lose our intelligence, as well…

It’s Called Accountability.

March 6, 2010
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You’re being watched. Did you know?

Anytime you’re online, chances are someone is watching you. Maybe not you directly, maybe just tracking your ISP, but still: your every move is being recorded. Somewhere in your nebulous future, if someone wants to know what you’re doing this very minute and you happen to be online, your whereabouts in terms of net-visiting will be able to be tracked. That someone will know where you were on March 6, 2010 at 5:24 pm.

Scary, no? Or is it?

In my head, the second question sounded very much like bad film voiceover, or maybe from an informercial, full of dark overtones and reverberating unbearably, so for that I do truly apologise. But, really, is it all that scary? The Internet is supposed to provide transparency for businesses and corporations. How can we expect them to expose their innards when we want to hide our own every move?

We need to step up and come to terms with this all-access view of life. Yes, we should have the freedom of privacy in our own homes, but does that right extend to the Internet? I don’t think so. The Internet is a public forum, a place for ideas and goods to be exchanged and shared. We don’t have reasonable expectation for privacy in an open air market; why should it be any different on the Internet?

We need to learn that we are accountable for our actions on the Internet, even if no one is sitting right next to us to see exactly where we are visiting and what we are saying. Anytime we’re online we contributing to the global conversation, and we need to be respectful of others and accountable to ourselves and our actions.

So, don’t lie. Don’t cheat. Don’t visit places you’re embarrassed for others to know about, and don’t talk crap about your boss or your job, unless you’re willing to be held accountable. Typing on the Internet is just as good as getting on the soapbox in the town square, maybe more so these days.

People are going to hear you. So only say what you want others to hear.

Ease.

February 27, 2010
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Technology has made my life progressively easier and more difficult all at the same time. Access to information has become easier and easier, and with that, the expectation of finding and knowing large amounts of information. What’s a girl to do with the so-called information overload that everyone is talking about these days?

Well, that’s easy, really. Just Google. (After all of my professed love for the company, did you really expect anything else? If you did, well, let me know? I might be missing out on something big…)

Google can help you email. And Google can organize your email and keep you from sending emails without attachments when you mention you attached something. Google let’s you chat. Google can organize your life and send you updates via text and email and popups as to when your appointments are scheduled and can share your calendar with your friends or the world. Google can bring all of the news to one place for you, so you don’t have to visit 5 different news sites every day. Google can gather your blogs and put them together in a seamless reading experience. Google can prepare word documents. And spreadsheets. And presenations. And forms. Google can get you from point A to point B, can tell you the best price on anything you wish to purchase, and can usually find the answer to any question you might have, like whether Coca-Cola originally contained trace amounts of cocaine. (It did, but only trace amounts.)

As I’ve said before and will continue to say, Google makes my life easier. Tremendously so. So why not use it?

The controversy is as old as the day as long: privacy. Books haven been written about Google’s invasion of privacy and its impending world domination; websites are devoted to going “Google-Free.” But what is the hype about? Is it just hype? Or is it something more?

It comes down to this: Google is a company. Companies exist to make money.

Let’s extrapolate a little further. Google provides all of its services free of charge. But nothing is free! Just like physics, in the business world, everything has an equal and opposite reaction. And in the case of Google and all it’s fabulousness and life-simplifying services, we’re trading information (which some might argue is really our privacy). Every time I open Gmail (which, let’s face it, is about 25 times a day, if its not open continually) or use Docs to share a spreadsheet or share an event via Calendar or do any sort of search, I am getting something valuable and giving away something that is just as valuable, at least to Google.

Is the trade worth it? I’d say so. As my dear friend Kenya Ford likes to say, “What you be doing, anyway?”