Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Web Secret 390: 8 seconds

8 seconds.

According to a YouTube video, that is the attention span of Gen Z, aka the generation that comes after the Millenials.

There is no agreement on the exact dates of the generation with some sources starting it at the mid or late 1990s and no clearly defined end point. (But when I eat in a restaurant and watch a 2 year old swiping an app on an iPad - I tend to think that a kid like that belongs to an as of yet undefined generation of the future.) For the sake of simplicity, think high school and middle school kids.

The characteristics of this group are being defined as I write this, but the video takes a stab at it:

Key points from the video - in case you don't have the attention span for it:

They are younger than Google - the first generation to have grown up with social media.

To them, 30 seconds is an eternity.

They live through their devices. Many of them use up to four simultaneously (laptop, tablet, cell phone, iWatch.)

They were born into a post 9/11 world. Millenials grew up in a time of plenty. But these kids lived through a recession. They witnessed their parents and Millenial siblings``````` struggle with a crumbling job market and college debt.

Accordingly, they do not have much faith in experts, they want to get the info from Google, or better yet, their peers. And they plan on paying of their debts ASAP.

They are highly connected and collaborative. More resourceful than Millenials and even more entrepreneurial.

They are not bound by conventional ideas of career, instead they dream up and implement career in their bedrooms (none of them use a desk.) They endorse the power of DIY (do it yourself.)

They are activists who want to make a difference in the world.

Many of them will live to see the year 2100.

Imagine that.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Web Secret 389: Classic Arts Showcase

Once upon a time, a multi millionaire from North Dakota noticed that the majority of Americans were rarely exposed to the world’s greatest performances.

In 1981 when MTV began airing short 3 to 5-minute rock music videos in succession, with no schedule and no particular order of play, the millionaire came to believe this format would be ideal for presenting classic arts performances – one in which viewers could see a wide variety of short performance videos, each of which would be a rare and unexpected gem.

And that's no fairy tale.

The visionary Lloyd Rigler did just that, launching Classic Arts Showcase in 1994. The program offers the greatest recorded performances of all time, at no cost to the viewer, and with no commercial interruptions. Today, it is available in more than 50 million homes, and can be streamed 24/7.

It's a buffet of dance, orchestra, opera, and film performances, from all over the world, and from every era since the invention of the moving picture.

Thank you, Mr. Rigler.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Web Secret 388: StoryCorps

You probably know that I write my posts in advance of their publication date.

As I sit here, it is 9/11/15 and I want to tell you about StoryCorps.

StoryCorps is one of the largest oral history projects of its kind. Since 2003, StoryCorps has collected and archived more than 50,000 interviews from more than 80,000 participants. Each conversation is recorded on a free CD to share, and is preserved at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress.

Why the 9/11 connection?

They aim to record one interview for every person who was killed on 9/11. Some of these interviews have been transformed into animated shorts.

Here is one:

I know you get it.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Web Secret 387: Boom!

Women's cosmetics.

I glaze over. Overwhelmingly, cosmetics are marketed by 20 year old models and celebrities who are over Botoxed and plastic.

I am so sick of it.

So when I came across Boom! (and I wish I could remember how I came across Boom,) it was so refreshing, so different that I stopped everything to analyze its greatness.

And share it with you, because believe it or not, anyone can use some of the ideas behind this website to market their services or products.

1. Authentic - Cindy Joseph is a 60+ woman who has developed her line of cosmetics for older women. Yes, Cindy is attractive and models but she looks like a real person. And she uses other older women as models for her products. I believe her.

2. Aspirational - Cindy has a fantastic tagline for her line: "It's about women. it's about beauty. it's about time." Who doesn't want to be that confident, natural, beautiful, and most importantly visible older person?

3. Accessible - Cindy markets her products with short videos. Nothing technically fancy - but Cindy has written a great script, which she delivers with conviction. You could make a video like that.

4. Disruptive - As if it wasn't enough to own her age, Cindy has some revolutionary ideas about makeup and the older woman. Some of them are:
  • Women older than 50 tend to lose definition in their eyebrows. Just go with that. Don’t recreate the brows you had in your 20s.
  • Tinted moisturizers don’t work.
  • Do not wear any eye shadow at all. (Gasp!)
  • The older you get, the less makeup you should wear.
Cindy - well done.


Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Web Secret 386: The What’s Underneath Project

It's been a while since I have showcased a website that uses the Internet to communicate a powerful message.

The "What's Underneath Project" invites a diverse group of women and men of myriad body types to strip down to their underwear in a New York City studio and recount their experiences with body image and style on video.

The primary objective of the project is to empower people to realize that true style is not about money, trends, Photoshopped imagery or a singular ideal of beauty. By asking people a series of intimate questions about style, body image and self-expression, while simultaneously having them remove their clothing (down to their underwear,) the series shows people that true style is about the authentic person inside the clothes, their confidence, their spirit and their willingness to express themselves honestly.”

Does that sound like it would be titillating, voyeuristic, inappropriate?

It's not. The videos feature all body types, ages, issues, men, women, trans. Some are famous, some not.

And they are beautiful, touching, elevating.

Throw your preconceived notions out the window and watch:

Lea DeLaria

Jillian Mercado

Sarah Jane Adams

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Web Secret 385: Computer security

Are you sloppy about computer security? Me too, sometimes.

So here is a refresher, courtesy of the Iowa State IT department. (Caveat: some of these recommendations are PC centric, Mac users will have to find their equivalent.)

Here are five easy ways to keep your computer secure:

1. Update, update, update. Don't postpone requested updates. Make sure automatic updates are turned on and note programs that you need to manually update from time to time.

2. Use an anti-virus monitoring program. There are free programs like Avast!. Make sure the anti-virus is installed, turned on and is set to scan the hard drive on a periodic schedule.

3. Scan occasionally for malware programs. Find a malware scanner and use it every few weeks to check for malware left by websites and software on your machine after getting the latest updates for the scanner.

4. Put yourself behind a firewall for protection. A good firewall can be your first line of defense in blocking hackers from getting in and preventing malicious programs from phoning back home. Use the built-in Windows firewall or try a free program like Comodo Firewall.

5. Don't open suspicious web pages, e-mails or files. If it looks fishy, don't open it. If you already opened it, close it right away and run a virus scan.

Bonus tips:

Create good passwords. You've probably heard that you should use lowercase letters, uppercase letters, numbers and symbols in your passwords. That's all good, but did you also know that the length of a password is more important than the complexity? Passwords get exponentially more difficult to break the longer they are, so strive for 10 or more characters to be safe. You also don't want to have passwords that are words from the dictionary, passwords that are super-easy for you to remember or passwords that don't change from site to site.

Be encrypted. Unless the website you're viewing is encrypting your communications, (you'll notice a padlock in the browser or an address beginning with https,) anyone around you with the right tools can read your password as you send it over the unsecured Wi-Fi network.

Beware of location-sharing services like Foursquare, Gowalla, Google Latitude or Facebook Places. You should be careful who can see your updates and make sure you trust them. If a malicious person could get your updates, they could potentially determine your routine, the location of your house and more just by following the GPS breadcrumbs you leave behind.

Be careful out there.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Web Secret #384: In praise of conferences

Face time is an English idiom for direct personal contact between two or more people at the same time and physical location.

I know it's valuable. For just that reason, I attended the World EAP Conference earlier this month.

But how to explain what is great and important about face time?

My colleague Mike Jacquart, who edits the Journal of Employee Assistance, did just that in a blog post written in August.

Here is my condensed version of what he wrote:

"Each year for the past five years, I have had the wonderful opportunity to attend the World EAP Conference, which is held in a different city in the U.S. each fall. Employee assistance professionals from roughly 40 different countries are in attendance. So even though I have never traveled abroad, I’ve still met people from all over the globe! Pretty cool, huh?

I also have the opportunity to email with people from different cities, parts of the U.S., and even other countries the remainder of the year. It’s great to be able to tell someone, “Hey, I got an email today from China” or wherever it may be, but it still isn’t quite the same thing as face-to-face. You get to actually meet this individual, listen to him or her, even get to actually “know” this person… especially over time when you see some of these same professionals at events like annual conferences. As a result, you are able to engage in important face-to-face networking at conferences… as well as the professional development you’re able to gain in your field. Interaction and coursework is more difficult to do online… certainly not impossible in this day and age… but in my view at least it’s harder and … might I add… often not as good.

If you haven’t noticed by now, I find the whole conference experience a very refreshing, invigorating change of pace from plunking away at my computer all day, sending emails, and (sometimes) talking over the phone… which helps some, but it still isn’t the same as being in person.

It is fascinating to me that in a day and age in which we are more connected than ever in some ways, with more and more of us working remotely than ever – and even busy texting and staring at a screen even when we ARE in person… it seems as though we are also more DISCONNECTED than ever, too. Remember when talking over the phone or seeing someone in person were your only options?! ...Sometimes I miss those days.

Several of my friends travel a lot for their jobs, and so I asked them once, “Couldn’t you just set up a video conference on Skype? Why do you have to fly there?” Over time, as I’ve been to more conferences myself, I’ve seen that it wouldn’t be the same thing. There’s something about meeting someone in person, responding to nonverbal cues – and the individual responding to you! – that remains quite different. Of course, there are also often-subtle cultural differences you would never pick up on without being face to face.

So the next time you are at a conference… seminar… workshop… whatever you want to call it… be sure to introduce yourself to at LEAST several new people… AND… if it isn’t possible to eliminate hauling out your smartphone… and it probably isn’t realistic… at least cut back on the time you spend texting or otherwise focusing on your mobile device. For instance, spend the time you’d otherwise spend on your smartphone by “absorbing” your environment. Who in the room (large or small) is smiling? Laughing? Engrossed? Bored? Take note of roughly how many people are in the room. And so on.

You’ll have loads of other times you can be completely engaged on your mobile device, so while you’re at a conference or other event, take advantage of all the face-to-face opportunities you can. There is no reason to be “disengaged” when you can be engaged."