My Dad gave me many things during his life, but I think the best gift was the example of how to be a good father.
We tell people all sorts of things, but our kids ignore that, and watch what we do. Dad was always a decent guy, even when provoked. He could be an annoying adversary in court, but he always played by the rules, and looked for humour during his day.
I don't always get through the day with a fun story for the kids, but it's not because I don't know how.
Informal Learning and Community Libraries - Are multiplayer online games a model for the new skillsets required in a world with widely distributed content? Interesting post by Irving Wladawsky-Berger on a talk by John Seely Brown.
Stowe Boyd has a response to established media organizations that pooh-pooh the online revolution that's been taking place with social media in recent years:
Web culture is happening: a spontaneous global culture is emerging, and it is based on openness, inclusion, acceptance of diversity, and the desire to make the world a better place to live.
This movement is driven both by the failure of traditional organizations -- media, government, and religious -- to cope with the modern world, and the stresses we, as individuals, are confronted with.
Web culture is a return to earlier elements of human social life, especially the importance of social relationships and the central importance of self-expression through art, principles that have been devalued for the past few hundred years. This is almost a reversion to tribal norms, although the tribe may be a diffuse network of woodworkers that you submerge into everyday via Yahoo Groups.
Web culture is living at the edge, where people are interacting with others directly, and organizations form organically, as groups seek to legitimize order that has emerged within the group, not impose order on supposed chaos.
Right on, Stowe. Blogs, vlogs, podcasts and other online tools aren't the answer to all the world's problems. But ignoring their emerging importance is like complaining that kids listen to music too loud and wear weird clothes.
Canada's biggest credit union has never been afraid to try new things in the realm of community involvement. So it shouldn't be a surprise they're going to start "a user-driven blog" that has a community focus.
A recent job posting by VanCity called for a passionate blogger who can "animate an online community where people in the Lower Mainland & Victoria can find information, tools and connections to inspire and support change in their own lives, their communities, and the world."
The term position will see the blogger reach out to community members, help them take part, write for the blog, encourage discussions, "moderate comments, defuse conflict and occasionally arbitrate disputes."
VanCity has brought in online strategy firm Social Signal to set up the blog.
What's cool about VanCity is that, while providing financial services that are more than competitive with the banks, they have a strong community focus. And they aren't afraid of projects that have the potential to get a bit messy. Helping young people get off the streets, for example, or creating housing for people in Vancouver's drug-ravaged downtown eastside.
Unlike some other financial insitutions, I think VanCity has the stomach to deal with the hiccups of negative blog comments and online disagreements. This will be a project worth watching.
With his PubSub PR List headed for possible oblivion, Constantin Basturea is using a new Web 2.0 toy that lets public relations and marketing types share web content with each other. Basturea sets up an area on Crispy News, a digg-like tool for news items, just for public relations news .
Check out the site. I've signed up. I guess I just want to have my say in what items get to the front page.
Vancouver web geek and photographer Kris Krug tries out a new kind of Naked Conversation, on the Great Wall of China. I'm sure there are rules about this sort of thing. Something about using your right hand to make the devil horns....
One of my classmates was the valedictorian for our high school. But sometime between our grad banquet and the commencement ceremony on the last day of school, he ran into some trouble.
The incoming class president had based his election campaign on insulting our grade as degenerate, beer-swilling losers. As punishment, he was driven up a mountain and abandoned in his underwear. The police got involved. Suddenly, the valedictorian duties were up for grabs, and they asked me to fill in.
That first big public speech was a rush job for me.
(Lesson No. 1 - Take the time to get it right.)
Thinking back on the bland statements about challenges and opportunities, I cringe for the West Vancouver Secondary School Class of '77. The grad class' motto was "The Year of the Beer." You would think I could find some lively comments to make.
(Lesson No. 2 - Engage your listeners.)
No mention of drug charges, teen pregnancies, long-term bullying and emotional abuse. No challenge to the school credo that a university degree was the only worthwhile goal for a West Van grad. Nothing to suggest that for some of us, our years in high school were extremely boring, humiliating, depressing, or all of the above.
I delivered what the administrators wanted, but it wasn't a speech that would change anybody's mind about anything.
(Lesson No. 3 - Decide what you want your audience members to think or do differently, and build the talk that will move them in that direction.)
Because I was the second choice for the job, it just didn't feel like my speech. I never sat down and worked out the kind of speech I would want to hear if I was in the audience.
(Lesson No. 4 - You have to own the speech, using your ideas and your words.)
My son Sam is working on his valedictory speech right now, as the Grade 8 class departs for high school. To make matters more complicated, he has to alternate between English and French.
The advice I gave him was: "Be yourself. And practice."
In fact, that's the advice I give everyone I coach in public speaking.
(Lesson No. 5 - Read your talk out loud, edit the stuff that doesn't sound right, and practice.)
There's nothing wrong with suggesting themes or story ideas to journalists. They feed off of that sort of input, even if they don't use your specific suggestions.
However, telling them what not to write just gets their backs up. I've followed up with journalists to propose that revealing too many how-to details of a robbery victim's security set-up helps other robbers more than it helps the public. But I wasn't telling them they shouldn't write about the robbery.
When Apple sent their handlers to help tech journalist Tom Yager understand how misguided he was in pursuing a story, they tried to convince him he was pursuing a topic that was so obscure no one cared about it.
Isn't that what the editors are supposed to decide?
It's frustrating when the story you want journalists to write about is being ignored for the scandal of the day. Or even worse, when a journalist seems to be on a vendetta that zeroes in on one point of view to the exclusion of all others.
Organizations can argue with writers and their editors about what should and should not be the focus of editorial coverage. But a complaining phone call can feed the fire, instead of putting it out.
It's not a question of ethics. Complain all you want. Just don't underestimate the stubbornness of journalists when they're told that a topic shouldn't be pursued.