Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Web Secret #121: The World Is Changing Fast

Recently, I watched a brilliant TEDIndia presentation on "6th Sense Technology." Basically, this genius guy created a wearable device that enables new interactions between the real world and a computer. He did this using the innards of two computer mice.

Honestly, I was kind of zoning out during his talk, (maybe because the air-conditioning in my house had broken and it was about 90 degrees in my office.) But, what caught my attention was the mice - because they looked, well, antiquated. I checked the date of the presentation - November 2009. Figure my guy did his work in early 2009, maybe late 2008 - from my 2010 perspective the mice looked old.

I started to think about how fast the world is changing. I came across a video that made that point vividly, Shift Happens 2.0:

The video pointed out:
  • The top 10 in demand jobs in 2010 did not exist in 2004.
  • Current students are preparing for jobs that don't yet exist, using technologies that haven't been invented, in order to solve problems we don't even know are problems.
  • The amount of new technological information is doubling every two years.
  • By 2013, a supercomputer will be built that exceeds the computational capability of the human brain.
What does it all mean?

Honestly, I don't believe anyone has a clue. This exponentially accelerated change is unprecedented in human history.

I do have one piece of advice.

TURN IT OFF. Your computer, iPad, smartphone, cable TV with 400 channels, satellite radio, Facebook, Twitter. One week per year, one day per week, one hour a day.

Whatever you can handle.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Web Secret #120: The Therapist's New Couch is Online

Many couples have made the painful discovery that the Internet is ruining their lives.

Whether their partner rekindled a long lost passion with an old flame they found on Facebook, or he/she discovered a craving for online porn, gambling, shopping and more, without a doubt, the web is now a source of temptation and sin that did not exist even 5 years ago.

Of course, the Internet seems to have been invented to make us contemplate the inherent yin and yang of existence. So for every evil, it offers up a potential solution.

The newsletter "Connections" recently published "The Therapist's New Couch is Online", a thought provoking article by Tim Atkinson which highlights how some are taking an online approach to end marital strife.

Tim points out that research shows, "most couples wait several years after problems emerge before seeking out relationship counseling. And by the time they get into couples therapy it might well be too late." The thinking is that though "an online method won’t be as powerful, couples might use it earlier than traditional marriage counseling, and so it would be more effective." He enthuses, "If this is the way the world is heading, then it feels good to know that [we are] heading with it..." and concludes by exhorting his colleagues to, "Be part of the future, and take a look."

I read Tim's post shortly after taking a look at the most recent Beloit College Mindset List. Each August since 1998, Beloit College provides a look at the cultural touchstones that shape the lives of students entering college each fall. It is a catalog of the rapidly changing worldview of each new generation. Within 10 years, these young people are going to be invading the workplace and our professional practices. If you don't think their Zeitgeist is dramatically different than the over 25 crowd, better start studying the List.

You will be meeting the class of 2014. Online.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Web Secret #119: Secrets for Gen Y

I almost called this post "Steve, Don't Eat It".

(Steve writes some of the funniest posts in the blogosphere, many involve his adventures with the "Good Lord, NOOOO!" aisle of the supermarket".)

Less obliquely, what I am trying to say to Gen Y is, when it comes to social media, DON'T:

Tag yourself in photos that show you wearing skimpy garb holding a brewski.
Discuss your sexual fetishes and proclivities.
Broadcast how much you hated your old boss/company/colleagues.

Today, more than ever DON'T.

  • 75% of U.S. recruiters are required by their companies to do online research of candidates
  • 70% of U.S. recruiters report they have rejected candidates because of information found online
Match that with:
  • The 1st Amendment (Free Speech) does not cover photos
  • The Internet records everything and forgets nothing
  • Every online photo, status update, Twitter post and blog entry can be stored forever
  • The Library of Congress will be acquiring and permanently storing the entire archive of public Twitter posts since 2006
Figure that the worst thing you have done is the first thing people will know about you.

  • Be careful.
  • Do not post anything on any site that you would not want a potential employer to see.
  • Be discreet.
  • Set your profile to private and block inappropriate comments that others may make on your profile.
  • Be prepared.
  • Regularly check your online persona using reputation manager programs like StepRep. Make sure you are ready to explain or counter any “digital dirt” employers may see.

When all else fails, consider becoming Web Dead.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Web Secret #118: Social Media for Damage Control

I am often asked to advise individual practitioners and organizations considering an initial foray into social media. They are often paralyzed and fearful. What if someone posts something negative or inappropriate about them - either on their Facebook or Twitter or maybe on someone else's social media channel? Then what?

I am an advocate of prudent use of social media - especially for medical and mental health practitioners who deal with extensive confidentiality, malpractice, encryption and other issues. But at this juncture, if you are going to interact with Gen Y and beyond, you must engage in the conversation.

Something else to remember - social media is a double edged sword - it can be used against you. But it is also a formidable weapon that you can wield on your behalf. Case in point:

If you were running a company and one of your employees went ballistic on a customer before loading up on booze and dramatically storming off, thus garnering national attention, what would you do? That's what happened to JetBlue when one of their flight attendants got into an altercation with a passenger, and self ejected himself from the plane after grabbing a few beers for companionship.

The incident became international social media fodder. Many organizations would take a "sshhh" let's not comment approach.

Not JetBLue. They used social media to fight back, with a clever blog post that prominently features a clip from Office Space, the cult movie about the humiliations and frustrations of work life. The post, titled, "Sometimes the weird news is about us..." begins:
"It wouldn't be fair for us to point out absurdities in other corners of the industry without acknowledging when it's about us. Well, this week's news certainly falls into that category. Perhaps you heard a little story about one of our flight attendants? While we can't discuss the details of what is an ongoing investigation, plenty of others have already formed opinions on the matter. Like, the entire Internet."
In taking this bold approach, they showed they are on top of the situation, unafraid, able to laugh at themselves. And to top it all off, they grabbed the opportunity to finish off this PR coup by ending with "we just want to take this space to recognize our 2,300 fantastic, awesome and professional Inflight Crewmembers for delivering the JetBlue Experience you've come to expect of us."

How clever.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Web Secret #117: Social Media in a Disaster

Whether you have a business or a private practice, you may have to cope with a disaster. Disasters come in all shapes and sizes and potentially threaten your ability to deliver services and your bottom line.

Consider these disasters:
  • natural - floods, earthquakes, and snowstorms
  • man made - oil spills, or employee goes "postal" in the workplace
  • health related - terminal/chronic illness, death, and pandemics
Should you use social media to manage a disaster? Does it work? How would you use it?

In a recent blog post, social media expert Jeff Bulla, cited a major Red Cross study that assessed the role and importance of social media in disasters. They asked “what is the general level of use of social media in the community?” and found:
  • Nearly 3 in 4 participate in at least one online community or social network.
  • The majority (82 percent) participates in social media at least once a week.
Those surveyed had strong expectations about the role of social media in the event of a disaster or emergency:
  • About half would sign up for emails, text alerts, etc. to receive information.
  • About half would mention emergencies on their social media channels.
  • Facebook was the most commonly used channel.
  • Nearly half would use social media to let loved ones know they are safe.
  • More than two-thirds agree that responders should monitor and respond to postings on their websites.
  • Younger people are more likely to request help through social media or text messaging.
So what do these results mean for you?
  • You need to proactively plan your use of social media during a potential crisis.
  • You need to establish policies/best practices for your use of social media.
  • If you don’t - others will do it for you - and you will have lost control of the message.
  • The younger your employee population - the more important this planning becomes.
What tools might you use to accomplish this?
  • Probably nothing is faster than using an existing Twitter account. Another option is to create an account that remains dormant except in the event of an emergency.
  • Post info on the wall of your Facebook.
  • Post info on your website (this can be very slow).
  • For a more ongoing response, consider creating a dedicated blog to provide information, tips, etc.
Remember the Boy Scout motto: "Be Prepared." The time to figure out how you would use social media in an emergency is NOW.