October 15, 2012

Losing our sense of urgency

We used to be more urgent than the Internet.

A dozen years ago, you would find many a netizen rushing home from work to get online so they could connect with friends, read the latest posts and comments, check their personal email for ezines, or jump on a discussion list. A few of us could sneak a peek at work, but not many. Corporate firewalls were sealed tight, and applications were sturdy and strict pieces of software, not fun three-letter words you can run on a phone.

That lacking begot urgency.

We were faster than the flow of information.

We rode data; data didn't ride us.

Because the enterprise and the personprise were still individuated -- no BYOD, rare instances of telecommuting, and certainly no blogging from work -- we had to expend a great deal of effort just to connect. We sought content; content didn't seek us.

And here we are now, streams and feeds 24/7, an enmeshment of who we are wherever we are, with information following us. Worries of Big Brother replaced by Big Data - what do we do with all of the digital stuff assaulting us, and how do we keep up with our friends.

What is the ratio between interesting things that would be cool to know more about vs. how my friends are feeling--are they hurting? Getting married? Have a new job?  Should I have to go to three different social networks to find out? Times how many friends? And what is the likelihood I'll give up before I find out, distracted instead with the guy who feel 24 miles from space.

We are fat with content now; we are lean with empathy.

But we can't turn back. I'm not sure anyone would really want to. And I don't have the answer yet. George Girton says I should try App.net - something you pay a little bit for so you don't have to deal with ads and have control of your feed. Maybe. But gosh I don't need another place to go, or barrage of information to dodge.

The great enablers of technology are the ones who solve problems like this.  When we had all of the information and no way to find it, Google came. Now that we have all of this information and no way to parse it, I don't know what will come. But something will. Analytics is taking care of the dilemma for the enterprise.

But can analytics scale down? Can it draw meaning from micro-personal information as well as it handles big data?

Now that everything we need to know is out there, how do we visualize toward empathy? How do we make meaning?

October 14, 2012

when she turned 5, the blogosphere sent presents. now she's 15 and the blogosphere should send me some redbull.

down and up

a guy free-fell 24 miles from space today. More than 127,000 feet. He broke the speed of sound. michael o'connor clarke would have dug this. I hope he got a view of it. :-)

digital breadcrumbs for michael o'connor clarke

I've been thinking about you all day, Michael all day.

I even went to mass because I felt, well, if it could add in any tiny way to the comfort being sent to Leona from all parts of the globe, then I should do it.

Michael, I went for you too. You see, you would be one of the few who could get me in the doors. Can you see me? Standing outside, wondering, having never been to this church, hardly to any church in recent memory, would the side doors lead me awkwardly into the midst of communion lines? Then what would I do? Stick out my hand and say "Amen"? Michael sent me?

It took me a minute to make my way in. Would I remember the responses? Did you know some of them have CHANGED? Yes, for real. They don't say "It is right to give Him thanks and praise" anymore - at least not at this church; they say something else, I think, "It is right and just"?

Today I didn't feel like it was right or just. I felt like nothing made sense.

But in that not-making-sense-ness, I felt you poking my shoulder, poke poke, as I stood in the back. You  tried to get me to laugh. I couldn't help it. I did smile.

I didn't make it to the end, but I did stay through the part where all 200 of us prayed for those family and friends who had died. And so I prayed for you. And I stayed for the "peace be with you" part, and shook some people's hands for you and Leona.

If only you would have stopped nudging me so I could have stopped giggling.

me and my blog brother:

remembering michael o'connor clarke

some of my favs from michael...

I hope that Michael's  blogs are preserved - so many great ideas, so much he contributed.

Goodbye blog brother, for now.

I am thinking of my blog brother, Michael O'Connor Clarke, a best friend I only met once, but a friend I talked to by phone, flew in Second Life with, worked with on client accounts, celebrated the birth of a child with, and wrote with online for the last 11 years. I hugged his children and amazing wife Leona when they came to visit in 2006.

Our friendship, interwoven lives painted in pixels and over wires. Every conversation was  ocean deep and jarringly funny. We snorted, guffawed, and plotted revenge against arch enemies together. We brain-jammed ideas together that could change our craft forever. We were PR superheroes, digital nobility, and tip-jar street musicians all at once, because blogging was like that.

How is today any different? I see him - he's right there. He's on facebook, the same page, there in the photo, from just some months ago, or the other one, him in the crisp, white, button-down shirt, hand in hand with the kids, telling them some large tale or small instruction--we'll never know. We just know how much he loved them. So how, really, can he be gone? But he is.

Can we stop Twitter, just for a moment of silence? Can the Internet slow down to grieve? The constant roll of newsfeeds and hashtags fail to notice. In the end, we have to mean more to one another than a final post, a last tweet. This is the place I came to heal from loss, not to compound it. But we surface into one another's lives within this digital world inevitably to be pulled apart in the real one.

When Michael and I first met online, we told each other we were brother and sister separated at birth and given to different parents. Maybe not far off, born into an online family, to fight, tease, help, and sit with one another almost for real.

All along, we were tapping out SOSes one post at a time.

This much I know: We are in and out of each others lives here -- more out than in physically; more in than out in every other way.

I miss him. Already. I don't want him to be gone.

And I want his children to know that we are loosely-joined family. As Michael would do for me, I want to tell his children this. If ever Charlie, Lily, Ruairi, you want to know what I loved about your dad, you want a place to stay when you're older and decide to visit Atlanta, you want help with a term paper, you want a ride, you want me to beat up a bully, you want something I can offer, know that your father was my brother, and I am here for you.

Leona, for you I weep today, and tomorrow I will smile remembering how he talked about you, how very much he loved you; you were and are and always will be his joy.

And I will remember his wit, his humor, his rough voice over the phone walking through cold Toronto  mornings as we talked about clients, kids, and the next great idea.

Good bye my brother. Too soon.

photos: Some rights reserved by AKMA