After “Audacity,” Now What? My State-of-the-Blog Address

My confession about falling down the “rabbit hole” of social media–The Audacity of Hype–is this week’s “Soapbox” essay in Publisher’s Weekly.  The piece has garnered quite a few comments.  One tweeter described it as:  “Moving account of hopes/fears of writer plugging her book on social media (Consequential Strangers).”  I’ve also received several emails and Facebook messages and questions from other writers. And PW printed a letter from someone in the real estate business for whom the piece also resonated:

I thought I was a Real Estate Broker, but the last few years it’s been all about desk top publishing/marketing and advertising via social networking. Makes “hauling & hoping” not look so bad after all!

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Why Shorter Posts? A River Runs By Us

I’ve been trying to keep entries shorter these days, because who has time to read? According to a Forrester Research survey, a quarter of us on line are “creators”–we write, post videos and music–leaving less time for others’ ruminations.  Making it worse is the sheer volume of information.   Facebook may be the water cooler in the sky, but email, blogs, and Twitter are part of a river that flows past us each day. 

Digital life has become a constant offering of links.  Read this, because someone you admire suggests it. Read this, because the information will help you [fill in the blank].  Read this, because it’s outrageous.  Read this for a good laugh. Read this, because it will bring a tear to your eye and rest0re your belief in humanity. I only recently have begun to give myself permission to not have to read it all.   Enticing, fascinating, and compelling though it all may be, my day simply isn’t long enough or my brain wide enough.  

The best we can do is think of ourself as gold miners–sifting through the stream, plucking out nuggets that seem to glitter, and then storing them to examine later.  It’s so time consuming, that we either give up altogether or rely on others to do the panning for us.   For example, I trust Mashable.com to keep me up to date on social media.   Which brings me back to my point of this (somewhat shorter) entry:  I will continue to try to be concise.  Except when I can’t.  Thanks for understanding.

They’re not “friends”–they’re consequential strangers

Just read a great article in Business Week, “What’s a Friend Worth” by Stephen Baker.  In a graphic use to illustrate the piece, quotation marks appear around the word friend, because most of our Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter contacts are relations that don’t quite qualifyas friends. They’re consequential strangers.  Some of them are merely blips on the social radar.  Others are “anchored” to a particular place or activity.  And a few, such as a long-time business associate or a trusted advisor, skirt the periphery of  friend territory.  We’ve always had peripheral people in our lives, but  now that we’re “swimming in information,” as Baker puts it, consequential strangers are more important than ever–and technology allows us to keep track of them.  The fact is, each of us has a unique “social convoy”–an entourage of people we collect as we make our way through life.  While family and good friends often go the distance, consequential strangers tend to be shorter-term recruits, brought on board for a specific reason. When you hit an unexpected detour–and need information, clarification, or a connection–they’re the ones most likely to help you find an alternate route.