December 23, 2008

I'm Dreaming of a Wired Christmas

This holiday season, I've got social networking on the mind. Over the past few weeks, I've blogged about both Facebook and Twitter, having joined Facebook and thus far rejected Twitter as less than useful. For many of us who are not the earliest adopters, I suspect that 2008 was a watershed year for social networking.

The 2008 election no doubt provided a huge boost for social networking. Barack Obama's use of Internet technology, especially social networking, to help win the Presidential election will be the subject of textbooks and case studies for decades to come. Now that the election season has turned into the holiday season, I am finding social networking to be an invaluable tool in other ways. In just the past few days, I:

-- used Facebook to find the email addresses of some new "friends" and send them an article regarding something we talked about over Thanksgiving dinner;

-- added someone I met at a recent trade show to my LinkedIn network; and

-- took a look at some fun photos of a recent writers' holiday party that one of the attendees put up on our Yahoo! group.

Who knows what other social connections, business associations, and synergistic combinations of the two will result from the use of these and other social networking tools?

Labels: , , , ,

Read more!

December 15, 2008

Deadliest Popcorn Bag on the Planet?

I was shocked to unfold the above-pictured microwave popcorn package and read Step 2: "Stay By Microwave & Listen," accompanied by a drawing of a woman seemingly standing with her ear up to the door of her microwave oven. Is this the last company left on the planet that receives no advice from lawyers or insurance companies? I think they left out the steps which state: "Hold cell phone up to other ear to maximize risk of brain cancer" and: "While eating popcorn, sit as close to television as possible."

Labels: ,

Read more!

December 11, 2008

Headline of the Day: Bush Versus the Brazilians

The headline at today says it all: "Bush is Back!" But they aren't talking about the president kind of bush. According to the article, "a cheeky Inauguration Day event called 'Shave the Date'" is scheduled to take place, for which women are being called upon to "Show your love for your country" by "leav[ing] no bush behind" and "rid[ding] the world of bush once and for all." However, according to Salon, Shave the Date is bumping up against the reality of the economic crisis. More and more women are being forced to trim back their personal spending. As a result, according to Salon, the Brazilian is going the way of the leisure suit and, instead, "when it comes to our most private places, bush is back."

This article is sure to cause a raging brush fire of a debate, or at least a deep split of opinion. Is bush really back? Is the Brazilian really dead? Is this the "Change we've been waiting for"? Even in a recession, will women really stop spending money on grooming and beauty treatments? Or will women "leave no bush behind" on Inauguration Day to show their patriotism? Will this become a badge of honor, the new lapel flag pin for women? How will men's opinions and preferences figure in the mix?

America wants to know.

(Flag of Brazil from

Labels: , ,

Read more!

December 06, 2008

Facebook's Siren Song

I just joined Facebook after having received a bunch of invitations in recent months. However, the jury is still out on whether I'll remain an active Facebook member, or a member at all.

On the plus side, Facebook is a fun way to have old friends find and contact you. Likewise, Facebook is another avenue to keep up and communicate with your current friends and loved ones. Through Facebook, I have learned some interesting things about my friends, such as the fact that a number of them have adopted the middle name "Hussein."

However, Facebook has a couple of significant minuses. First, Facebook involves a loss of privacy. Depending on how you adjust your settings and what information you list, your Facebook profile may include your full name, your photo, your email address, your mailing address, your place of employment, your interests and activities, etc. This is not necessarily information that you would want to place into the public domain, especially consolidated on a page or two. Everyone from stalkers to marketers could then use Facebook to follow your life and make unwanted contact with you. To avoid this intrusion, you might have to be vigilant in tweaking your Facebook settings to maximize your privacy, but, in doing so, you might defeat the reason for joining Facebook in the first place, i.e., making yourself accessible for others to find you.

The other downside is that, like Twitter, Facebook can be a giant time-suck. The "What are you doing right now?" box at the top of your Facebook home page is almost identical to Twitter. I'm surprised at how many people are using this device to update their Facebook pages during the day, and at how many people are then responding to these messages. My Facebook "wall" is now covered with this graffiti. Similarly, I have received a number of comments on my posted photos. While this attention is amusing and flattering, who can afford to be lured away from work and other activities by yet another attractive, time-consuming technology? Who has the discipline not to get inhaled into this giant and ever-growing vortex of Internet inanity? Besides, I'm already too busy cat bowling and reading hopelessly corny email jokes.

While it has been enjoyable to have old and current friends get in touch with me via Facebook, somehow I don't think I'm going to be a very good Facebooker.

(Charlie Chaplin "Modern Times" photo from


Read more!

December 03, 2008

Should I Twitter?

As an active blogger, I'm not averse to new technological and social networking tools. But any tool is only useful if it's useful. I'm still trying to figure out how Twitter is useful.

I've spoken to friends about Twitter, and have followed discussions about Twitter on some group bulletin boards. Many people say that they're addicted to Twitter, and that they use it every day. They say that Twitter is a quick way to update people on what they're doing. But how important is it to know what people are doing all day? Aren't people's daily routines fairly hum-drum? If following their daily details was so important, I would already be on the phone or emailing with them numerous times during the day. Do I need to know via Twitter that Jay is "in a boring meeting" or that Julie is "making meatloaf"? At the expense of doing my work?

Other people say that they use Twitter to "promote their blogs." I'm not sure exactly how that works, but constant pimping of one's blog is extremely off-putting, and would be no less so over Twitter.

On the other hand, I'm no Luddite. So somebody, please convince me why I should Twitter. If you can do so in a 140-character Twitter message, even better.

(Photo from


Read more!