Posted in Children, Creativity, Relationships, Technology

Is media (cell phones, tablets, laptops, gaming) robbing you and your family of valuable time?

Surfing the Web
A Sketch I Drew of My Daughter.

If you’re a parent, perhaps you’ve struggled over the same issue.  Media and its domination over our attention during non-work time in our lives seems to grow daily.  You go out to a restaurant and find groups of twenty somethings all sitting around a table, physically present, but their minds are engaged in the firmware held in their hands, mentally distant!

Our son is fascinated with Minecraft, and our daughters enjoy keeping up with the latest music videos, Dr. Who, and other electronically facilitated entertainment.  I am enamored with social media (in all its forms), but my wife appreciates a living, breathing, conversant subject to interact with.  She, and many others complain about what our society (this generation) is coming to; worries about the quality of relationships, and ability to exercise human kindness and respect in this instant gratification “push button” world.

During my recent convalescence from ankle surgery, I had a lot of time to observe our family dynamics and watch the rhythms of our lives with some mental objectivity and decided to make a pie chart of the activities of each person in our household.  I came up with several categories of activities and set a value to each one to determine how big of a piece of the pie each one made up.

In spite of the fact that our family sits together to consume most meals, and we don’t have kids watching movies in moving vehicles, the “family” piece of pie still falls short when compared with academics, media, peers & play, life skills (chores), sleep/hygiene.  Family time means different things to different people.  Reading aloud, playing table games, taking a walk, camping, fishing, bike riding…these are all great family activities that don’t require a screen, keyboard or mouse!

So this week, in order to “set the example” I chose to do less time in social media and more time reading books that have been on my list.  I finished reading the following books:

* Crowdsourcing by Daren Brabham, where I learned his definition of crowdsourcing as “an online, distributed model that leverages the collective intelligence of online communities for specific purposes set forth by a crowdsourcing organization, corporation, government, or volunteer.”  Not to be confused with crowd funding and other crowd models of resource aggregation.  Its a quick read I highly recommend if you are interested in future methods of ways to handle global issues & problem solving.

* A Parchment of Leaves by Silas House, an author who does an incredible job of character development by painting a beautiful world with words.  I associate a talent of his literary skill with the movie motion picture effect of “slow motion.”  His introduction to specific moments make your mind play out the words on your mind’s screen just as if the video had been playing in slow motion!  I’m simply going to have to add the rest of his works to my reading list.

The observations I made about my own media/online habits helped me decide to start a reading journal.  This allows me to record the book title and author, as well as key takeaways, recommended books, and other ideas found in the pages of these authors.  It will also hold me accountable to choosing quality over quantity.  When I log onto my social media accounts, I find it easy to get sucked into a time warp where there’s lots of individual bursts of entertainment, insights, newsy bits…but, the book I really want to read won’t read itself.  The value of 100 tweets read doesn’t stack up to a work of studious effort of a passionate author about a particular topic or discovery.  So, while I still engage online, I also consider the value of my time and adjust appropriately to improve the quality of what I’m acquiring in my grey matter.

Last week I told my children (then tweeted), “We are all architects! #Architects of our wakeful time. How you use it determines what gets built! What art though building?”  So, I put this question to myself every day now.  It really helps me weigh the value of my options and make the best choice to achieve my goals.  Due to different choices I am making, I was also able to draw the picture illustration in this post!

Tomorrow, as a family, we will have a discussion about “family time” and how to ensure that appropriate time is invested in the face-to-face, non-electronically facilitated engagement & entertainment….a steady diet of learning about each other, supporting each other, preparing for our tomorrows by dreaming out loud today.

Thanks for reading and I do hope you contribute your comments and thoughts on this post.  Is media (cell phones, tablets, laptops, gaming) robbing you and your family of valuable time?

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Posted in Business, SocialMedia

How to Manage & Increase Your Twitter “Following” @ No Cost

This blog is the result of a light bulb coming on after observing some personal angst/confusion about “how” to be an effective follower.  My last post on this topic “What IS a Follower” in 2010 still has merit.  But I’ve decided that another post might help those of you who ask “How do I get beyond the limit of being able to follow 2000 tweeps?”

Remember, like I said in another post in 2010 about “Why I Tweet” I’m not here to “sell you anything” or make you chase annoying adds about some quick get rich course.  I’m here to help minimize confusion and guide newcomers along this social media landscape.  I’ve been “Twittering” and blogging for several years now and enjoy sharing what I learn.

So, onto the meaty part of this post.  How can I manage my throttled Twitter “Following” budget and still attract new followers?  There are two ways to “follow” twitter users.

  • The approach of pushing the “Follow” button on a users’ profile may or may not result in them following you back.  Remember the value of a Twitter account is in increasing the number of people your message can reach.  Every time you push that button you move the total number of people you can follow to some strange ratio of following to followers ratio that Twitter has set on each Twitter account.  So how do you get more followers once you’ve reached the 2,000 limit or that magic ratio limiter?
  • Another technique of “following” involves a couple of additional steps but is well worth your time.  List creation is one of the best ways to recognize people their profession or passion.  By creating a List with a catchy title (category), you can add people to your list (in effect, a behavior that allows you to consume the thoughts (tweets) of people who interest you.  The best thing about this form of “following” is that it does not count against your follower limits.  You’re not “following” them using the button method, your following them using a more powerful method of expertise management.

For example, some day I will complete a lifelong goal of publishing a book.  So I used that goal and Twitter as a resource to create a “Writeminds” list.  On this list of authors (hobbyists, newly published, seasoned authors and publishers) I have added over 400 Twitter user accounts who have identified themselves as being writers, bloggers, authors, publishers, or screen/script writers.

Here’s the magic/value of this form of following over mashing the “Follow” button:  By adding a Twitter user to a list I accomplish four simple things:

  1. I have recognized the aspirations or activities of an individual for something they are devoted to or passionate about.  Who doesn’t love to be recognized for their desire to become something they are working towards?
  2. I have created a simple way to better manage my time in searching for content related to a particular topic; in this example what are writers working on, talking about, sharing, revealing?  Its better than Google search results–I can make contact with the horses mouth.
  3. I have established a connection with expertise I could not have easily encountered by walking through town or browsing the phone book looking for “people” who might have the ability to help me along my journey.
  4. I have created value for others!  Anyone can subscribe to my “Writeminds” list and take advantage of the resource.  My list of authors most likely will not be the same as your list of authors so you can create your own and subscribe to mine.

When you “follow” people by curating a list of Twitter users who identify themselves with something that interests you, you immediately expand your virtual family with other birds of your same feather.  You also reward the individual you “follow” by recognizing their contributions!  The best part is, because you have recognized another’s talent, time & effort, many can’t resist following you by the easiest method out there (mash the button).  So, your follower count begins to rise because others begin to recognize you as someone who is offering something with no expectations in return.

Social media for professionals is a value based proposition founded in charity.  Go out of your way to make someone’s day.  Build a list, start adding people to the list and watch your follower count grow!  The greatest benefit of this behavior is you now can quickly stay abreast of topics that interest you with these interest “channels (lists)”  you’re creating on Twitter!  If happen to make (in real life~telephone, email, in person) contact with the people you follow using the list method, feel free to spend some of your follower limit by mashing that “Follow” button.

I’m interested in hearing how this method works for you~please share.

Cheers,
Ed

Posted in Writing

National Poetry Month

This is my attempt at honoring National Poetry Month!  One goal this year is to acquaint myself with all the National Holidays and special days recognized and celebrated by all the peoples of the United States of America.  So, I did a little research and came up with over seventy reasons to celebrate throughout the year!

At first, I wrote my poem and decided because of the content it should be titled “Spring, Sprang, Sprung!”…but I did a quick check on Google to see if I would be stepping on previous author’s toes and decided to steer clear.  So, here’s my attempt to capture my favorite season and celebrate National Poetry month!

Spring Demands Attention!

The wind chimes clang

as mornings rays gently pry

tender crocus, tulip and daffodils rejoice

tis Spring cries the Robin!

Soils perfume a moist radiant air

a mix of cut grass and tree blossoms bright

the panorama is a bouquet of celebration

Winter’s spell is broken honk the geese!

Children frolic and explore the earth reborn

clouds herald the supply of natures drink

bees buzz excitedly at each colorful revelation

“Arise!” demands the sun!

By:  Ed Milligan

I’m excited at what I will learn about people and culture in this little self-imposed continuing education assignment to explore and understand the history behind each of these holidays.  I’ve added a few links to help you learn a little more about the history of National Poetry Month and how you can participate:

The history of National Poetry Month (started in 1996)

Poets.org A hub for poets everywhere!

April 14th is “Poem in Your Pocket Day!

Find out what’s happening in your state to celebrate National Poetry Month.

For those in NebraskaPoetry Menu (great contests, opportunities for educators!)

 

Go ahead now!  Its your turn.  Try it–you may discover you have talent hidden in places forgotten!  Have a great weekend everybody!

Cheers (follow me on Twitter @justasked)

Posted in Education, Relationships

Got Man Points?

A man and a woman
Image via Wikipedia

This message brought to you as a result of my daughter asking, “Is there such a thing as “Woman Points?”

     One really can’t answer that question without first asking “What is the thing about “Man Points?” As much pitting against the genders as there is coming from both sides, I wouldn’t be surprised whatever the answer was of who started this ridiculousness in the first place.

But it does beg the following questions:

Who came up with the rules?
What are man points (or woman points?)
How do you gain or lose points?
Are there differences based on culture/geography?
Are there certain times where the rules and conditions are suspended/ignored?
Who’s keeping count anyway–is there an invisible point balance following men around?
How do you assess who has how many?

      Anyway, I took a stab at what I could intuit would be cause for gain or loss of man points.  This intuition/recollection of course being the result of a couple of decades mixing with other adult males and listening/observing comments and criticisms made by men about other men:

Gain Points                                                    Lose Points

Hunt or own a gun                              Cook better than a woman
Follow or play sports                           Like or do any crafts 
Fix your own automobile                     Still live with your mother
Go to bars & check out women           Comment on a woman’s clothes
Drive a truck                                        Focus on clothes color matching
Scratch yourself or spit publicly           Clip coupons/go “sale” shopping
Open doors for women                        Clean up after yourself
If you don’t fuss over your looks        Spend >5 minutes on appearance
Responsible but socially clueless        Squeamish or too picky

     I did some Google searching and found out there’s even an iPhone “app for that!” http://themanpoints.com/index.php The sad thing is it that it is a “tracking application” for keeping count of how many good deeds you’ve done for your significant other–pretty pathetic if you ask me.  It even will produce a report for you on your “ManPoints Statement” so your good deeds don’t go unrecognized.  What!!!!  Not only are you not man enough to do “WHATEVER” is your responsibility to share around the house or parenting, it sounds like you need to schedule yourself for a chest implant to pin your points on!!??!!

Here’s another stab someone took at defining what a real man is:  http://www.askmen.com/money/mafioso_60/98_mafia.html in an article titled, “Top 10:  Traits of a Real Man.”

     My thought is that we lose opportunities to learn and grow as individuals when we prejudge others based upon differences in how our gender is expressed through appearance, verbal patterns, culture or gestures.  Sometimes it is difficult to become accustomed to extremes or unique expressions, but underneath it all…we all share the same basic human needs/desires!  If you make the personal/physical investment in time to commit your life to another human being (especially if kids come into play) then you owe it to each other to share all responsibilities equally to the greatest extent possible. 

     Twenty years ago, there was a difference between women’s work and men’s work due to societal ignorance and stereotypes but with the advent of the industrial revolution, and companies like Craftsman and Black & Decker (and others), there’s nothing stopping either gender from accomplishing great things indepently of each other or as a team.  Also, any male with a mind and a heart in the right place can learn to nurture and care for children and hearth with as much devotion and commitment as any woman.

Ladies please, give us some honest feedback concerning this topic!