Social Media Reset

Man drawing a game strategy

From time to time it’s nice to take an inventory of what I’m using in terms of social media, what’s working and what’s not. I want to make sure I maximize my time and put the right content in the right place. Here’s a look at what I’m using currently in terms of platforms and tools.

Twitter

Twitter is still my main social media channel above all others. It’s a non stop cocktail party that remains the most real time social network out there. I use it to connect with colleagues, expand my network and share with friends.

Twitter Tools

Tweetdeck
Tweetdeck is my main weapon on twitter. I read and compose on my computers on it. I manage several accounts and generally consume via a few lists. I don’t often flip through the column of everyone I follow. I’m using the last version of actual Tweetdeck from before Twitter took over and made changes I didn’t like.

Plume
Very similar to the old Tweetdeck on Android which is why I now use it since the old Tweetdeck has been mothballed by Twitter.

Connect with me on Twitter

Facebook

Still primarily a connect point for people I already know. I’ve started to ramp up personal activity on Facebook. Last year when they changed how viewable items were based on content type and where the post is generated I found I was getting the best results by posting directly on the site or in the official Facebook app on my phone.

Connect with me on Facebook

Instagram

This has started to grow on me. As a photographer with a formal training I keep this one focused on the images. I don’t follow people who use it as a life stream with pictures of their kids, dogs and ‘inspiring quotes’.

Connect with me on Instagram

Tumblr

This is my cycling stream. I post cycling specific content and follow cycling Tumblrs. I mostly just use the website as well as tell Instagram to post there when it’s a cycling photo.

Connect with me on Tumblr

Spotify

I’m loving Spotify! It’s definitely a game changer. It’s also a lot more of a social network than people give it credit for. I have started to kick it up a notch by following specific people, curating great playlists and even opening some up to be editable by my friends. The premium version is more than worth the ten bucks a month.

Connect with me on Spotify

Strava

Strava was launched primarily as a cycling site where you upload your ride data and ‘compete’ against other riders on the same segments of road and trail. They’ve since added the ability to load up running data and other sports. I even uploaded a skateboard session. I’ve found it to be much more social than some of the other similar apps out there. I’ve connected with people I didn’t previously know and have connected for bike rides with them. Really cool.

Connect with me on Strava

Foursquare

Foursquare is my go to for finding places to go. I tend to only check in at interesting places rather than every single place I go. I check in at my favorite restaurants, stores and businesses in an effort to have my check-ins mean something.

Connect with me on foursquare

The outsiders

MySpace launched a new site a couple months ago. I signed up. I don’t quite get it but I’ll check in from time to time to see if it can have any use. I have yet to work Google+ or LinkedIn into my stable of social media mainly because I can’t find a use for them yet.

Language and Substrate

Most of you will not understand what follows. I apologize in advance.

The culture that shaped me (skateboarding) and the language it created, is finally being recognized for the impact it has had on the culture at large. A pioneer and hero of mine, who today would have been marginalized because the language and substrate of our culture doesn’t make sense to a mind like his (it doesn’t make sense to a mind like mine), is finally being recognized for what he is…brilliant. That is, of course, Rodney Mullen.

It’s only now that we are able to decode the language his story is written in.

Those of us marginalized by ‘normal’ genuinely see a different world. I can already see it in my son Steele. He even takes in the world around him the way I do. Rather than simply looking at reality, he feels it with an inner sense I still can’t describe, even though I understand it. I can’t tell you how awesome it is to have another soul with which to journey the plane of alternate reality I hover in. Over our 13 years of marriage my wife has learned how to connect with me, speak to me and hear across her world and mine.

Enter Rodney Mullen. I’ve been tuning into his journey since the beginning when I first stepped foot on those seven plies of hard rock maple set upon urethane wheels. The skateboard has been my brush and the street my canvas for more than 25 years. It gave me a language and substrate by which to communicate with a sub culture and a culture at large that I truly believe kept me from doing countless other destructive things in search for a way to hear and be heard in this world.

Rodney Mullen is a kindred spirit who sees the world in a way that I see it and was at a loss in terms of how to connect our world with ‘theirs’. He didn’t understand their words and their rules. Often written off and outcast for being counter to culture; it is actually a case of loss in translation that we simply didn’t have the time (or care) to decode.

But through the years of creating a language and finding others who could ‘speak’ it and build upon it…a new culture was built and people like Rodney could be viewed as normal in that new society.

The take away here is for the creative among you. At it’s root; being creative is coming up with a new idea that is useful. But new is scary. New might not fit within the language of the culture you’re trying to create in and for.

The finite content and context of the culture or sub-culture you’re working with can create an environment where you literally can not even speak or hear when your mind is truly free to create because you have moved onto the new and out of the current system. Think of the last time you had a brilliant idea from deep inside and all you got back were blank stares. It’s not that it wasn’t a good idea; it’s just that the language and substrate were not in place for normal people to hear it. You, quite literally, may as well been speaking another language.

If you truly are a creative soul…then you understand this pain. If you made it this far in this post and you haven’t made sense of what I’m talking about than let me look at it from the other side. I’ve been talking about the conditions in which real, true creativity happens. Let me quickly point out the opposite  of it. The infertile desert of creativity; what does THAT look like?

Once you have made something, built something, developed an organization and a plan then what? You defend it. You protect it. Instead of your goal for building this thing being the main thing the institution is now the main thing. N+1 where N equals ‘maintain the institution’. True creativity can’t happen here when you have to spend all your energy on feeding the machine. The solution, I think, is to create space, a team, a department for you (or your team) to be completely free of worrying about the N in N+1 and instead focus on the +1. This is where creativity happens. I recommend getting the most ‘out there’ people you can find.

So with that; you should watch Rodney say it:

If you don’t have a person like this in your life; find one. Care for them. Work to understand them and then ask yourself;

Am I continuing to create or am I simply defending what it is I have already created?

Horse Meat, Ikea and Transparency

horses

So there’s Ikea, minding their own business one day and someone discovers that a trace amount of horse meat is found in meatballs served at their cafe. I never knew Ikea even served food; do you have to assemble it yourself there at the cafe?

Ikea probably isn’t known for their food nor do they depend on it to have a thriving business model, after all they sell furniture. Yet a lack of transparency from one of their venders, who probably accounts for an immeasurably small line on the Ikea balance sheet, was found to have used horse meat in meatballs supplied to Ikea.

And in a flash Ikea has a PR fire to deal with.

Transparency is everything in our new, real time, communication world. Your organization simply does not have the resources or the power to control the message the way you once did in years past.

The only thing you can control about the message is how transparent you are and in that transparency you better have a good message because we can see right through you.

The old adage; sell for what the market will bear just doesn’t ring true anymore. No longer can you and your team scheme and strategize for how to game your ‘target’ into acting on your pitch. You have to have a real story that provides people with real value, because if word gets out you’re trying to slip one by, game over.

Re:Create 2013 Recap

Screen shot 2013-02-11 at 10.03.34 AM

Once again an amazing surprise filled week has come to an end and now it is time to put into action that gleaned from wonderful conversations with brilliant people. Here are my notes of things I learned and things I shared.

Burnout

Burnout, avoiding burnout, recovering from burnout and everything that goes with that seemed to be a recurring theme this week and it was providential that Mike Woolley was on hand to share his wisdom on the matter.

Key take aways: slow down, don’t try to please everyone, be real about problems and don’t value some job over your well being.

Sunday Sucks

Another recurring theme was the various shortcomings of the Sunday morning ‘church’ experience. People fell into various camps on this one but most would agree that the ‘C’hurch has been phoning it in, at the very least, on the art and creativity side. Andy Crouch hinted at this in his talk and equated what the Church is producing with post cards rather than art…I think he’s right on.

The Sunday church experience is a pretty sacred cow to a lot of people (Boomers, older X-ers) and will take some time to rethink. I know I have some strong ideas about this.

Worship Music is Tired

This was an undertone both in the conversations I had and some of the content presented. Andy Crouch really drove it home with his talk. I love how he said it’s not so much about why artists are making terrible art but rather who/what in church culture trained people to want this crap? We CAN do better than this. I’m anxious to see what the next generation can come up with.

Spotify

I was whipping my phone out throughout the week adding new tracks and artists to my ‘Recommended’ playlist. Heading into the week I assumed that literally everyone there would be on Spotify; I was shocked at how many people had not even heard of it. If music is important to you, get on Spotify now. If music is your career then you need to get Spotify Premium …NOW!

Various Highlights

For me, Andy Crouch was the absolute highlight of the week…hands down. I’ve seen him in action a couple of times before and I knew he would bring some fantastic creative wisdom.

Phil Madeira was a joy to listen to both in the interview and in concert.

Marridee’s, always the breakfast of choice at Re:Create now has some stiff competition right around the corner at Frothy Monkey.

2013 – Here We Go

old-world-map

Like most years in my role I get pretty dang busy from October right up until Christmas and I have to cut out some peripheral activities…like keeping the blog updated. So here’s a flyover of what’s coming up this year.

Re:Create Conference – February 4-7
Re:Create is an intimate gathering that has become close to my heart and an important part of my year. It’s kind of a hybrid between a retreat and a conference.

SXSW Interactive – March 8-12
In terms of content, this is the most important conference of the year for me. The conversations regarding culture, sociology  technology and creativity are un-matched by any other single gathering. If understanding culture and the future direction of society is valuable to what you do…you need to consider attending.

Echo Conference – July 24-26 tentative
I’m noodling with the idea of heading up to Dallas for Echo Conference. It presents a good opportunity to connect with people and hang out. The content is on the 101 side of things so I encourage a lot of people who are newer to creative roles in church space to check it out.

Cycling Events
I’m working through my event schedule right now but I expect to be at all the early season Texas classics with Bat City Cycling. I’ll also be at some spring events like Coldspring, possibly Joe Martin stage race. I’m also looking to head to Northern California for Levi’s Gran Fondo which gives me a chance to go see my family

Sandy Hook; I Wish I Had the Answer

Friday is my day off and I was out running errands and hustling around. As I made my way to the bank I flipped on KUT. There was an interview taking place and within a few minutes it was clear that they were talking about some kind of recent crime. It had to be something terrible for KUT to break from music to full on news mode so I leaned in and tried to piece it together. The interview ended and the news person cited what was known so far; A shooter went into and elementary school in Connecticut and killed 26 people…some where children.

I cussed out loud.

I pulled into the bank parking lot in a trance with the 100 yard stare. I’m pretty sure I went into the bank and did some banking but I was out of it for sure. I went home and sat at my computer and went straight to the NPR site to get some facts. I was also in the middle of a side project so text, emails and phone calls were humming on my phone as I think the people I was working with were pretty focused on their task and had yet to hear. Eventually that stopped.

I couldn’t focus. I cried a couple times. I saw President Obama say a few words…I lost it again.

This hit me hard. This hit closer to home and deeper in my soul than the events of September 11, 2001; mostly because where I was in life then and where I am in life now.

I think it hit a lot of people really hard…these were little children with their whole life ahead of them. This was a new level of evil, fear and insanity.

How are we to procede?

Leave the people of Newtown alone

They need to start processing this, coming together as a community and a family. They need to find some kind of new normal. They cannot begin to do this until the last news van pulls out of town and the last reporter has called. Danah Boyd really brought it home on this issue as she recalled the story of kids who were never able to get back to their life in Columbine because of the relentless media presence. I can’t tell you the name of a single youth killed at columbine but I can tell you who did it.

Turn off your TV. Stop tuning into the circus. The media will continue to pimp the people of Newtown to the masses as long as we keep eating it up. So stop. We know what happened now, or at least enough, so lets cry and let these people get on with their lives. And to the media people; act like humans for once…please. I don’t know the name of the broken soul that perpetrated these awful acts and I don’t want to…ever.

The gun debate

It’s the Guns – But We All Know, It’s Not Really the Guns

I wish it were as easy as passing a law, it’s much more complicated than that. These crimes are a symptom and the debate I see around gun control is simply about dealing with the surface level issue. I don’t really care where you stand on the gun issue and we should move on from that debate for now. Not enough people are talking about the underlying fear and the failings of our system, community, families and health industry. Here’s a quote from an article you must read:

“We Americans are incredibly good killers. We believe in killing as a way of accomplishing our goals. Three-quarters of our states execute criminals, even though the states with the lower murder rates are generally the states with no death penalty.

Our killing is not just historical (the slaughter of Indians and slaves and each other in a “civil” war). It is our current way of resolving whatever it is we’re afraid of. It’s invasion as foreign policy. Sure there’s Iraq and Afghanistan – but we’ve been invaders since we “conquered the wild west” and now we’re hooked so bad we don’t even know where to invade (bin Laden wasn’t hiding in Afghanistan, he was in Pakistan) or what to invade for (Saddam had zero weapons of mass destruction and nothing to do with 9/11). We send our lower classes off to do the killing, and the rest of us who don’t have a loved one over there don’t spend a single minute of any given day thinking about the carnage. And now we send in remote pilotless planes to kill, planes that are being controlled by faceless men in a lush, air conditioned studio in suburban Las Vegas. It is madness.

We are an easily frightened people and it is easy to manipulate us with fear. What are we so afraid of that we need to have 300 million guns in our homes? Who do we think is going to hurt us? Why are most of these guns in white suburban and rural homes? Maybe we should fix our race problem and our poverty problem (again, number one in the industrialized world) and then maybe there would be fewer frustrated, frightened, angry people reaching for the gun in the drawer. Maybe we would take better care of each other.”

Friday I got to hug and kiss my children when they returned home from school. I want them to grow up to realize their dreams. I want them to live in a world where they don’t have to have fears about stupid stuff. Yes, life is hard and trials will come and there will be fear; but we still need to progress toward something better…otherwise, what’s the point?

 

The Rules

bart-simpson-blackboard

The rules have never been good to me. I’ve tried to follow them at various points throughout my life…but it just rarely worked out. Obeying the rules has done little in the way of shaping who I have become.

I’ve tried the rules on and found them to be an awkward fit. I did my best to play it off and look like I knew what I was doing but I never did. In the midst of that honest observation I discovered that nobody else has a clue what they are doing either.

I still remember the point in my life when I first came to the understanding that the rules were a huge bluff. A smoke screen to attempt to get me to fall in line and not ask too many questions. It was at this point I first realized that everyone is more or less flying by the seat of their pants building sand castles trying to convince everyone they’ve built something stable. Constructing a complex system of rules to protect this fragile existence.

I first came to this place in my life in second grade. I was in a strict catholic school in Chicago that was a palace of rules. For reasons I never quite understood, but I hope to get a handle on one day, I saw through the facade. What I saw behind the rules was….nothing. I added up the cost of playing their game and doing their homework and it was a zero sum in my young mind.

So I stopped playing the game.

We were given these pink sheets that contained our homework at regular intervals. We were to take them home and return them to a basket in the classroom at the end of the week. I concluded that the system did not build in any consequence that I could see for not complying and I thought the work to be rather boring so after the first couple weeks I stopped bringing my pink sheet home and instead crammed it into the back of my little desk immediately upon receiving it.

There the pink sheets piled up, week after week. I don’t remember ever sweating it for even a second; and this is coming from a boy who, in matters of harm to others, had a heavy conscience.

The bi-annual parent teacher conference came up and there I sat in the corner of the room while my mother talked with my teacher on one end and my father sitting at my desk pulling piles of crumpled pink sheets out. All three visibly upset and doing their best to make clear the fact.

I don’t remember any consequences of that day, I’m sure there were some. I do know that I was moved on to third grade when the time came. What trouble I may have conjured on myself for my actions I have long since forgotten.

What I do remember is this; I called their bluff and it felt good. They built a system that had gone unchallenged for so long they weren’t sure how to react when it was. They failed me at the point of helping me understand why the pink sheets mattered. I learned more about life and people in that interaction than all the pink sheets in the world could teach me. Was I in the right? Probably not.

Since then I’ve grown much wiser and I can say I choose my battles much more carefully.

The thing the rules have taught me is to ask why. If the why question can’t be answered, and in the answering have weight that matters, then I am uninterested in your rules.

 

My Favorite Conference


I kind of cringed when I typed that title because it’s hard to call Re:Create a conference. It’s part retreat and part learning experience along with some incredible experiences with collaboration holding it all together.

Having been to a good many conferences in the past, as an attendee and as a speaker, I had some pretty high standards. I’ve been to what many would consider the one by which all are measured; SXSW. I’ve also been to much more focused and intimate conferences and everything in between. Let’s just say I’ve been to enough of them to become fairly cynical about conferences.

I first had the chance to attend Re:Create in February of 2011 and little did I know what I was getting into.

I could riff on and on about my three Re:Create experiences thus far but I’ll let the conference website tell those stories, but let me some it up the best I know how.

The experiences can be as epic as any conference I’ve been too, Ed Kowalczyk played in 2011. The speakers can blow your mind just like any other conference…except you’ll get to meet them, shake their hand and ask them questions.

Those are both well and good but here’s the thing; attend Re:Create and you become part of a family and a tribe that is there with you, in the trenches, all year long. As a creative, that’s really important to me, like minded people who can support and encourage me.

I can’t recommend it enough and I’d love to see you at Re:Create here in Austin next month or in Nashville in February.

[fine print: I sit on the board of Creative Community Inc., the non-profit that puts on Re:Create]

Remarkable

gangnam-style
Remarkable. It’s a simple word when you think about it. Worthy of making a remark. When something is of paramount remark-ability it will spread like wild fire. Case in point, this video from PSY. Break it down to the sum of it’s parts and it is not remarkable. The song sounds like all the techno songs I’ve heard the last 10 years. The dance moves aren’t that good. It’s not even in English.

But take Park Jae-Sang (PSY), the mastermind behind the Gangnam Style song and video, he gets it. He knows that if he turns it up to 11 and goes into each scene with complete commitment, he’ll achieve what he is looking for. A video that you simply can’t stop watching because each new visual experience is remarkable in every way.

He’s not trying to achieve timeless art. He’s not trying to change the course of music history. He just want you to watch. And you will. And you will tell others of it because it is remarkable.

Pure brilliance.