March 30, 2009
With all the networks and tools emerging in the web 2.0 cloud and competing for your attention, do you find yourself challenged by sorting out the options, making the most of, or simply keeping up with them all? There sure are a lot of social networks popping up these days, and for every social network, there are a dozen more free tools just waiting to be utilized. How you choose to use these networks and tools should be considered your blank canvas... your picture waiting to be drawn.
Even novice web users are familiar with Facebook and Twitter, but you name the theme, and there's a list of social networks to support it. Some networks are more professional than others. Some more playful.
I recently found Plinky, where you answer a weekly prompt to spark digital discussion in your own creative way. All these tools are just other ways to express yourself. From Google docs and webmaster tools that support business on the web, to sites like Aviary that bring you Photoshop and Illustrator-esque functionality for next to nothing or totally free, these cloud tools are coming out of the woodwork or falling from the sky. Now the question is, "which ones should I use" and "how can I leverage these?" The answer is simple: use the ones that work best for you. Only trial and time will tell you for sure.
Here's how I manage my own time when it comes to qualifying, utilizing and not being ovewhelmed by these tools, which if you're not careful, can become a full-time job in just keeping up with them all. The first hour of my morning consists of the following:
1. Hit Google Reader where I have all my subscriptions to my favorite feeds. These feeds consist of tech news, design trends, individuals blogs... the list goes on. I have over 100 subscriptions that consolidate massive information into the reader for my quick scanning.
2. I will 'favorite' or 'share' the best entries in Google reader, and it will automatically update my Facebook account. I also add links to Delicious so I and my team members can see what I'm pushing to the front. In fact, we use a common company account for Delicious so that all of the people on our team can collaboratively add relevant links ranging from hot design trends to the latest jQuery snippets.
3. If I'm really excited about an entry in Google Reader, I'll Twitter the link, which shows that I'm sharing knowledge and could create some followers. This in turn, also updates my Facebook account. Do you see where this is going?
4. In turn, for that brief moment on Twitter, I might respond to a few @replies or contribute to some conversations I see going on. After a while, you will notice your name showing up in the #followfriday lists (where fellow Twitterers suggest to all their followers the recommended people to follow)
5. I also have Flickr, YouTube, Last.fm and a couple other sites that I frequent and that add activity updates to my Facebook stream. So, in reality, I don't actually spend a lot of time in my Facebook account other than to upload the occasional photo album. However, it sure looks like I do!
6. I set up Google alerts to scan for my name, my company name, or any of my product names on the Internet. If something is being said, I want to know. I also have these alerts set up in my reader. So, while I'm purusing my morning news, I can see any of these alerts as well.
7. Next up, Twitter search. Arguably one of the most valuable tools on the net. I type in my name, company and products here as well. This lets me see who's talking about me NOW. While I'm there, I might see what's being said about my friends... or maybe my favorite wines. At this time, I might share another link on Twitter, that again, updates my Facebook account.
8. I manage my own personal blog and I contribute to my company blog. These RSS feeds can be set up to syndicate into a variety of places. I have a combination of my personal and company blogs being syndicated into my Facebook and LinkedIn accounts. This goes a long way. While I'm keeping my company site up to date, this valuable information is being recycled as it heads to my various other accounts. Other team members on my team do this as well so that our reach is increased even further.
9. Do you use a CMS to manage your website? We do, and our CMS is considered a Web 2.0 CMS that allows us to syndicate pages, blogs, RSS feeds and more. When we write a blog, we do it in our CMS. Of course, whatever blog tool you are use should have an RSS feed that can be syndicated. This is important. It allows you to move your ideas further from your site, which draws people back to your site.
This is only a smattering of what I'm doing now. When I dicover a new social site, I see it as my obligation as a web developer to take a test drive and understand how it works, and how it could integrate into my morning regimen. I tend to change it up here and there. Some networks, I let fizzle out so I can spend more of my time on the networks that work for me. Remember, I try to keep this consolidated to the first hour of the day and some of these tasks might be relevant to do on a weekly or monthly basis.
Take some time yourself to leverage the new media and turn it into a systematic approach that broadens your reach, sharpens your mind and strengthens your brand.
March 27, 2009
M74: The Perfect Spiral. An island universe of about 100 billion stars. Shooot, that's tittly winks!
There's already been so many comparisons and attempts to put our federal spending into perspective that I found no harm in contributing one more. The point here was not necessarily to complain about our spending... but to illustrate a very interesting point.
I was recently looking through some amazing pictures taken by the Hubble, Hubble's Greatest Hits and, how can you not be amazed by, galaxies, stars and the thought of never-ending space?
Remember when we would read in texts about galaxies containing 100's of billions of stars and other quantities that you could never conceive, let alone try to count to?
It then occurred to me that our country has already spent more dollars than the number of stars in the M74 galaxy above. Hmmm... only about a hundred billion stars? That's tittly winks! I mean, this either suggests that space is small and manageable or our spending is completely out of control. Can this be true? Numbers we've never thought about growing up are now numbers we hear on a daily basis an need to understand how to manage.
What does this mean to us... to our children? I love life, and my country and I appreciate the small things I have and the little gifts life gives to me every day. Are these things going to be around much longer? Can I expect to stick my head out the door tomorrow and breath clean, safe air?
When I break things down like this, I just wonder. Could you ever have imagined a higher number than one that quantifies the number of stars in a galaxy? Just some rhetoric to get your thoughts flowing, maybe to help keep what means the most to you in perspective, or perhaps just my opportunity to squeak out a rant or two. Have a great weekend!
March 20, 2009
...and I wasn't there for it!
The world's oldest champagne, bottled before Victoria became Queen, is still drinkable, with notes of "truffles and caramel", according to the experts.
An "addictive" bottle of 1825 Perrier-Jouet was opened at a ceremony attended by 12 of the world's top wine tasters.
Their verdict: the 184-year-old champagne tasted better than some of its younger counterparts.
There are now just two 1825 vintage bottles left - and Perrier-Jouet has no plans to open them soon.
March 16, 2009
When you get a voicemail that sounds like this, what else can you do but post it for everyone else's enjoyment. This is my man Felix, a VERY incredible Nigerian sculptor. About 6 or 7 years ago, I was introduced to Felix by another entrepenuerial client who was always looking for ways to invest his money. He most enjoyed investing his money in people that he believed in and especially the creative types. Felix is one of those types. And he brought Felix to us to make him a web site that showcased his work.
We ended up going over to his house and shooting a bunch of his life-sized pieces of sheer BRILLIANCE to build him the web site.
We also got to shoot a bunch of pics of him in action with his wood chisels and blocks of wood that quickly became something of a miracle in front of our eyes.
Felix has sold his work to the likes of Bill Cosby, David Hasselhoff and many others. I was so in love with Felix's work. I remember wanting to work out a barter to maybe trade a sculpture for the web site. But alas, since his work was bumping six figures, it was obvious that wasn't going to happen.
The point of this post? Nothing more then to introduce you to my man, Felix whom I loved working with and still admire. He still puts on the occasional exhibition and updates his site for the next one. Visit his site to see some of the most fantastic wood sculpture you will ever witness and tell him Jason Morgan sent ya!
March 14, 2009
Only a portion of the silent auction table. Just a beautiful display for a wine lover.
This was the 19th annual Cincinnati Wine Festival. It's grown to be one of the largest ones in the country. This year, over 600 wines and 130 wineries were present. If you are a wine enthusiast, this is the opportunity to sample hundreds of wines in one place.
Since I am always on the hunt to find wines I like, I've found it is very difficult without doing the tastings. The alternative is to buy full bottles which can get real expensive, real fast.
The admission for the event is pretty steep at $70 for the grand tastings... and another $35 if you wan to attend the master tastings. While it makes it a little less a attrative for the person only getting into wine, it's w ell worth it if you ar going for the reasons I do. You also get to bring home a couple $20 Riedel glasses after the event. Much of the funds go to several big charities so that too makes it worth it for me.
The food is gourmet. The Cincinnati State Midwest Culinary Institute was present with some amazing food and desserts. I got a few pics. I have a lot of respect for this school and the emerging chefs that come from it. I've attended several events that were served by the students and it makes me want to go back to school.
Overall, another great event. My wife and I were able to escape for the first time in a long time, and we had transportation to and from... so we we did it right.
March 09, 2009
100+ year old beech tree.
Met up with the guys for a Sunday morning canoe and hike. The typical type. We get together as often as possible just to catch up and air out the brain once a week. They mentioned to me in the past about some local eagles, but you know how you never really think much into it until you actually see one? Sunday, I was not expecting to see one. Between it and the other really awesome features of this planet that you don't get to see on the beaten path each day, it was a pretty potent visual experience.
Of course, pics do it no liberty, but I was running on dying batteries and I can't complain. It was kind of windy when we put in. The idea was to canoe up a tributary and then hike around the ridge on foot. As we approached the bank we would start the hike, the guys in the kayaks up front spotted the eagles in the trees. One took off immediately.
We were pretty far up the river at this point. We were very quiet and let the water float us down stream. Being reasonably still and quiet, let the bird get used to our presence. I was certain it would take flight, but, it sat there and even allowed us to pass.
I caught some acceptable pics. Also on the hike, we saw some large trees that in relation to the rest of the forest, escaped the logging industry. To see these giants nestled between all the smaller trees around them was beautifully insane. All in all, just another journal entry for a Sunday outing, but this is the kind of stuff that makes you happy to be alive.
March 03, 2009
President Franklin D. Roosevelt hired Arthur Morgan (seated in car, 2nd from right) in 1933 as the first Chairman of the TVA Board, Morgan was famous for two things that might seem to have nothing to do with each other: building efficient dams for flood control, and believing in the perfectibility of humankind. In TVA he saw his chance to bring the two together.*
We Morgan's have some pretty interesting people, in our lineage. From Sir Thomas Morgan, knighted in 1658, who was awarded the original Morgan coat of arms, to John Hunt Morgan (Morgan's Raiders,) Daniel Boone (whose mother was Sarah Morgan,) and other Welsh dignitaries. We had royalty in our lineage, really. Just ask my wife who is the authority on confirming these awesome connections.
We've traced back 100's of years, and together, we truly do love discovering our past. But, you only need to go back to 1878 to find, Arthur E. Morgan (1878-1975). Arthur Morgan was a thinker, a scientist, hydraulic engineer, ethical leader, and was the key figure behind the Tennessee Valley Authority, a project he was called on by Franklin D. Roosevelt himself. He was the de-facto master in hydraulic flood control at that time. He was also president of Antioch College from 1920 to 1936. He was born in Cincinnati, Ohio and raised in northern Minnesota.
Arthur Morgan was a collectivist, with many social ideas. It was intriguing to me because today, there seems to be a hard line between liberals and conservatives. The word socialism is a taboo word today. It swims in the same pool as Marxism and Fascism, of which I understand as other shades of Communism.
To understand his thinking, we have to put ourselves in the context of life between 1878 and 1940. Liberalism was very different and socialism was not yet stamped with failure. Arthur found many social ideas appealing because of his strict, ethical principles. In 1933, he was astonished when President Roosevelt invited him to the White House and offered him the chairmanship of TVA. “I like your vision,” said FDR. Arthur Morgan dreamt of the perfect society, a utopia. Yeah, what we've all read about in school. He looked at his appointment to the TVA as a way to bring his visions together.
Morgan was famous for two things that might seem to have nothing to do with each other: building efficient dams for flood control, and believing in the perfectibility of humankind.
Reading his diaries and several other books I found on him, he was a genuine individual with good intentions. He believed in hard work and our responsibility to contribute to society. He was good friends with Thomas Edison, Charles Kettering, and he was at the "first flight" launch in Dayton with the Orville brothers. As you can see, his peers offered a lot to measure up to.
Morgan's TVA boasted low accident rates, high worker morale, and ingenious solutions to tame the wild Tennessee River.** However, he butted heads with David Lilienthal, another young director on the committee. David suggested to distribute the power produced by TVA would be better to let a network of local public utilities handle the job. Arthur argued that the TVA enter into an agreement with the existing private utilities to distribute electricity. It seems Arthur he just didn't like David and considered him a political opportunist. Arthur went as far to suggest to the president David not be re-appointed. The fighting went on for quite some time, and when it finally spilled into public view, Arther was asked to substantiate his claims, and either could not, or would not. This is another story in itself.
In the end, President Roosevelt suggested that Arthur resign, and when he refused, he was ultimately fired by FDR for insubordination. He was 60 at this time and most thought he was at the end of his career. But, he returned to Yellow Springs, and lived for nearly four more decades, and maintained a strong interest in Antioch College. He served as a trustee for many years and as a perennial lecturer. In retirement he founded Community Service, Inc., to promote recognition and development of the "small community." The small, self-sufficient community was the vision and desire of Arthur Morgan. He published a string of thoughtful books on topics ranging from the ideas of Sir Thomas More to dam-building by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. His last work, “The Making of TVA,” was released in 1974, just a year before his death at age 97. In it he documented the creation of the dream he had done so much to shape, but had seen fulfilled by by others.
I'm blown away by the accomplishments of Arthur E. Morgan and I've not even touched on them all. The point of this blog was to lay out a collection of interesting facts I have been dying to document as well as make a contribution to our Morgan genealogy. Additionally, it has again shown me the importance of while we don't always see things eye-to-eye today (and it's harder than ever today as life has become so complicated,) we should first seek to understand... and then be understood. I look back at a successful man by any standards we use today but I see some flawed visions that may not have been apparent by the standard of thinking during the time. Still, it's something to live up to and it reminds me that the role we play now is likely only the start of something bigger when we are gone. I hope we leave a legacy that our children will be proud of.
Books I've read and have referenced for this article:
Finding His World, the childhood diaries assembled by Lucy Griscom Morgan
My World, Arthur E. Morgan
FDR's Utopian, Arthur Morgan of the TVA (still reading)
Arthur Morgan Remembered
C O N T A C T
- email me at krullion at hotmail dot com
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