Archives For Unplug

The folks at the AV Club wrote one of the most thorough and compelling reviews of an episode of Clarissa Explains It All you will ever read. And it just so happens it was an episode about the dangers of watching television.

And since I’ve been re-reading Neil Postman’s Amusing Ourselves to Death (written 30 years ago about the dangers of television), I found this particular analysis extremely compelling…

Television is a vast wasteland that’s nevertheless peppered with oases. It isn’t Roddenberry’s light diversion. It’s an aggressive medium, a tool for the dissemination of relatively quick, cheap, and above all unchallenging product directly into your home—don’t get up!—funded by massive corporations interested in maintaining the establishment by reinforcing conservative values, and I mean that aesthetically as much as socially.

It’s a creeping weed spread across pop culture, routinely crowding out the best and boldest, the new and the experimental. It’s easy.

But it also has all of the values Clarissa demonstrates and more. Correct me if I’m wrong, but Clarissa never defends the content, does she? She could have cited Blackadder, Twin Peaks, or Fishing With John, or someone a bit older might have, anyway.

The utilitarian defense works, but personally I think television is capable of great artistic achievements, too. Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman is all the defense television needs.

But Clarissa plays it safe at the end: Television’s fun, but shouldn’t we really be playing charades with our families? There’s some irony there.

If we were playing charades with our families, we wouldn’t be able to watch Clarissa do that with hers.

via Clarissa Explains It All tried to ban TV—on TV · TV Roundtable · The A.V. Club.

Last Week in Pictures

December 21, 2013 — Leave a comment

For the second time this year, I put my phone in a locked safe for an #unplugged week to reset, relax and reconnect with my fellow humans.

My wife and I celebrated our 10 year wedding anniversary with a kid-free cruise, and the sun was WARM.

Guardian: News is bad for you – and giving up reading it will make you happier

via PSFK: Beer Holder Blocks Cell Signal To Help Curb Phone Addiction

Part of my PR News Next presentation last month has been highlighted in this piece on PR News.

1. Possess a comprehensive knowledge of content strategy. According to Swan, more than 90% of marketers believe that content marketing will become more important during the next 12 months. Media operations are should be a management priority, while content will be a sustained part of PR and marketing communications.

2. Be a master of the most important communications tool conceivable to modern man: PowerPoint. Did you know that PowerPoint is used at an estimated frequency of 350 times per second? If you’re still struggling with putting together slides to showcase your latest campaigns success, you’re already behind the curve. Set aside some time to really learn your way around PowerPoint. For beginners, Swan outlined three must-haves for every PowerPoint presentation: Story arc, big visuals and context not content.

3. Unplug. Really. Fifty-six percent of your PR peers experience anxiety as a result of missing an important event or status update if they don’t monitor their social networks, Swan said. Employees who detach themselves from the office not only report higher levels of psychological well being than those who don’t, but also experience higher job performance at all levels. Do yourself—and your boss—a favor: Put down the iPhone.

via Back to School: 3 Crucial Skills to Master Today – PR News.

More than 1500 innovators, entrepreneurs, developers, engineers, angel investors and a handful of marketers descended on Las Vegas last week for SXSW V2V (visionary to visionary, or voice to voice, or voice to visionary, or visionaries to Vegas), bringing together creative people from all sectors to learn, think and network.

Hugh Forrest SXSW V2V

After six years attending SXSW in Austin, I was very excited to attend a more manageable and focused conference, where you could not only hit nearly every session, but you had the time and mental capacity to think, process and discuss takeaways with fellow attendees. Just like the good old days in Austin.

Here are some of my key takeaways:

  1. Embracing disruption through innovation:
    No matter what industry you name — publishing (Amazon), transportation (Uber), books (Kindle), watches (Pebble), healthcare (Google Glass), B2B, B2C — legacy companies, entrepreneurs and innovators are looking to reinvent the wheel. Unfortunately, companies built on traditional models who are resistant to change are in for a bumpy ride. But on the flip side, artists, creators and technologists are creating new business opportunities, and these big companies are acquiring them. According to the speakers throughout the conference, immigration, technology legislation, private and public investments, and connectivity will all drive or stifle this movement. Not to mention consumer adoption, but this crowd tends to believe consumers will come if the disruptive idea is great enough.
  2. Transparency Natives:
    Transparency Natives are defined as the next generation of consumers who have been raised on transparent business practices who possess full knowledge or access to information like: manufacturing conditions overseas, environmental concerns, health risks, executive scandals, etc.). It goes without saying that technology is equipping and enabling this transparency (user reviews, Wikipedia, Google). As such, it is already redefining traditional advertising and marketing strategies, which used to focus on how things should/could be, rather than magnifying how things are today.
  3. Hardware renaissance:
    Move over, apps. Building on the emerging trend highlighted at CES in January and SXSW in March, startups and entrepreneurs are continuing to focus on the importance, value and opportunity in tech innovations through hardware design. Crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter and Indiegogo are helping fuel innovations in hardware by providing the capital for hardware innovation up front.
  4. Future of Wearable Technology:
    Building on the hardware trend, innovators are excited about new wearable technologies like Google Glass, smart watches and fitness tracking bands. Whether it’s a focus on healthcare (teleconsultation apps reducing redundancy and improving coordination of care) to haptic feedback (using electronic current to simulate different forms of touch) to delivering on the promise of the smart watch (Pebble, Kreyos, iWatch) there is a growing focus on how these new devices will add value, talk to each other and create experiences that add value.
  5. Unplugging and Setting Up a Culture that Fosters Creativity:
    One of the benefits and challenges of starting your own company is you get to set the rules and working culture. For many start-ups, this means setting clear work/life boundaries to prevent inevitable burnout and a reduced spirit of creativity. This is a subject I’m passionate about, and it was radical to hear young entrepreneurs testify to the benefits of placing culture as a priority that drives business.

Compelling quotes from my notes:

Brian Solis at SXSW V2V

Brian Solis

  • We live in an era of “digital Darwinism,” a time when technology and society are evolving faster than the ability of many organizations to adapt.
  • Innovation begins with an idea on how to improve something that may not “be broken.”
  • All products are windows into new worlds.
  • As more people wear Google Glass, brands must consider how to architect ZMOT experiences from search to consideration to purchase to post-purchase sharing in an entirely new way.

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Steve Case

  • “If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, you have to go together.” -African proverb
  • Second internet revolution will be improving how we live our lives and contribute to growth that add value
  • If you want to get unemployment down, you have to go all-in on startups and entrepreneurs. Most of the Fortune 500 were started by immigrants, and most of the startups in Silicon Valley don’t come from traditional companies.
  • Europe’s economy is slowing down because they don’t have an innovative culture. Detroit is a real-time example of this. Sixty years ago, Detroit was Silicon Valley — the most innovative region when cars were the most innovative tech. And Detroit was the pride of American and envy of the world. At it’s core, today, Detroit has lost it’s innovative mojo. We need to understand that story so we’re making investments and not coasting in our own businesses and in our own communities. If we are complacent, our global competitors will eat our lunch.

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Micah Baldwin

  • When was the last time your life was running at a pace you could handle?
  • We’re told to embrace failure, but we don’t fail purposefully.
  • Pick things you’re not good at; try them; fail; and figure out what you can do successfully within those parameters.
  • “Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist.” – Picasso

Amy Jo Martin

  • “People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it. And what you do simply proves what you believe.” -Simon Sinek

Jeff Rosenblum (The Naked Brand Documentary):

  • Advertising should help companies be great, not just say they’re great. If you focus on behavior, you can build on magnets over megaphones.
  • “If you want to innovate from corporate culture, you have to get pretty far from corporate culture.” – Alex Bogusky

Rosa McGill

  • Build your team based on your target consumer. Companies should develop HR hiring practices that grows
  • teams who match their customer base, which will allow your business to best address their needs, interests and allow you to grow and evolve in lock-step with your audience.

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Toby Daniels

  • Technology was supposed to free up time for us to spend time with our family and kids, but we’ve filled that time with mindless social media activities.
  • We have become incredibly obsessed with what could be happening over there, while being distracted from the here and now.
  • The always-on culture is: revealing new advances in language, body language and nuance, helping many overcome isolation in their physical community, fostering global collaboration and partnerships, growing our circle of concern and leading to more personalized communication. However, we tend to only share the best of who we are — a curated sense of truth (success theater), and people aren’t expressing the true nature of who we are.

Tony Hsieh at SXSW V2V

Tony Hsieh

  • Most innovation happens when you apply something outside your industry to your own.

As I said in my 5 Things That SXSW V2V Does Better than SXSW Interactive post, the caliber of the SXSW community — whether in Austin or a smaller, spin-off conference in Vegas — continues to be extremely high and unrivaled by most events. The programming has ranged from adequate to engaging. Las Vegas is actually set up for conferences. The entrepreneurial and innovative spirit is contagious in Downtown Vegas.

And although I miss the barbecue, breakfast tacos and overall Austin-style we’ve come to expect from SXSW, I will gladly come to Vegas for Year #2 of SXSW V2V.

This morning I’m presenting at the PR News Next Practices Conference in San Francisco, splitting the 8 Essential Skills Communicators Will Need to Thrive in 2014 and Beyond with my co-presenter, Darrel Ng.

Here is my half of the presentation:

What skills do you think we’ll need this time next year?

In this timeless post from April 2011, writer and futurist Kevin Kelly details the skills needed to handle the influx of 21st century technology. 100 percent still valid today…

• Anything you buy, you must maintain. Each tool you use requires time to learn how to use, to install, to upgrade, or to fix. A purchase is just the beginning. You can expect to devote as much energy/money/time in maintaining a technology as you did in acquiring it.

• Technologies improve so fast you should postpone getting anything until 5 minutes before you need it. Get comfortable with the fact that anything you buy is already obsolete. Therefore acquire at the last possible moment.

• You will be newbie forever. Get good at the beginner mode, learning new programs, asking dumb questions, making stupid mistakes, soliticting help, and helping others with what you learn (the best way to learn yourself).

• Often learning a new tool requires unlearning the old one. The habits of using a land line phone don’t work in email or cell phone. The habits of email don’t work in twitter. The habits of twitter won’t work in what is next.

• Take sabbaticals. Once a week let go of your tools. Once a year leave it behind. Once in your life step back completely. You’ll return with renewed enthusiasm and perspective.

• How easy to switch? You will leave the tool you are using today at some time in the near future. How easy will it be to leave? If leaving forces you to leave all your data behind, or to learn a new way of typing, or to surrender four other technologies you were still using, then maybe this is not the best one to start.

• Quality is not always related to price. Sometimes expensive gear is better, sometimes the least expensive is best for you. Evaluating specs and reviews should be the norm.

• For every expert opinion you find online seek an equal but opposite expert opinion somewhere else. Your decisions must be made with the full set of opinions.

• Understanding how a technology works is not necessary to use it well. We don’t understand how biology works, but we still use wood well.

• Tools are metaphors that shape how you think. What embedded assumptions does the new tool make? Does it assume right-handedness, or literacy, or a password, or a place to throw it away? Where the defaults are set can reflect a tool’s bias.

• What do you give up? This one has taken me a long time to learn. The only way to take up a new technology is to reduce an old one in my life already. Twitter must come at the expense of something else I was doing — even if it just daydreaming.

• Every new technology will bite back. The more powerful its gifts, the more powerfully it can be abused. Look for its costs.

• The risks of a new technology must be compared to the risks of the old technology, or no technology. The risks of a new dental MRI must be compared to the risks of an x-ray, and the risks of dental x-rays must be compared to the risks of no x-ray and cavities.

• Be suspicious of any technology that requires walls to prevent access. If you can fix it, modify it or hack it yourself, that is a good sign.

• The proper response to a stupid technology is to make a better one yourself, just as the proper response to a stupid idea is not to outlaw it but to replace it with a better idea.

• Nobody has any idea of what a new invention will really be good for. To evaluate don’t think, try.

• The second order effects of technology usually only arrive when everyone has one, or it is present everywhere.

• The older the technology, the more likely it will continue to be useful.

• Find the minimum amount of technology that will maximize your options.

via The Technium: Techno Life Skills.

Have you ever noticed the rush you get from checking your email, googling a subject of interest, browsing your Twitter feed, receiving a text from your love interest, peeking at what your friends are up to on Facebook, or other similar internet-fueled activities? Did you notice that the anticipation of receiving the information you had sought out was often more gratifying than receipt of the information itself? …

The Internet can ensnare you in a dopamine loop since it makes the process of reward-seeking so quick and easy. Before you know it, you have several tabs open in your Internet browser so you can monitor and engage with your various social media channels while you try to get some work done. Over time, you may add more channels and/or check them more frequently.

via The Role of Dopamine in Internet Craving

Krista Peck, M.S.