Social Media Finally Expained in Plain English by CommonCraft

Lee LeFever, the founder of CommonCraft.com, created a straightforward overview of how social media can help businesses. For those of you who need to get up to speed social media, here’s your chance.

Of course social media gets more complex, but this a good starting point for newbies.

It would be great if Lee could put together a series on the IRS code.

The Greatest Misallocation of Resources in History

“The emersive ugliness of the everyday environments of America is entropy made visible.” So begins James Howard Kunstler’s 2004 presentation at TED. Entropy made visible. Yesterday morning I drove past the construction site of an older section of my township and I witnessed entropy visible. What has been for thousands of years a quiet patch of trees and thickets is now turning into a spate of modern huts composed of gaudy slabs of beige yogurt.

Entropy Made Visible

After I put my little one down to bed last night, I Googled through my disgust and found the video below. It’s about 20 minutes of your valuable time, but if you care about regaining a civil (and humorous) perspective on modern Suburbia, please watch this (if you don’t have time, bookmark this page or subscribe to my feed so you can enjoy it later):

Kunstler makes clear to us the vitality of civil design in our life. We have a responsibility to design meaningful spaces to live. Unfortunately, we don’t always get to see this basic need because we are accustomed and blind to the landscapes we build around ourselves. I don’t know how we’re going to get back to dwelling among more remarkable designs, but I know we owe it to ourselves and our children to do a far better job. Some kinds of form are critically functional.

The Public Realm

The public realm is a place that we aught to value, to care for, a place to “dwell in hopeful presence” as Kunstler points out. He says that our public places aught to have these key ingredients:

  • A well-defined space
  • A permeable membrane (e.g shops, bistros, cafes)
  • A place that you want to hang
  • A pleasurable experience

The next time you pass your local mall or shopping center take a good look. Do you love what you see there? I don’t either.

If we build places that we don’t care for then we degrade the very places we live in. McMansionWe degrade ourselves, our presence in the world, and our future; and we squander the very world into which we bring forth children. Look around the communities we have been building–do you really care for these places? Would you die fighting for them? This isn’t about the eye-soars associated with low-income slums. We are seeing more and more high-income atrocities of culture: McMansions abound like enormous fungal curses upon the land. We were entrusted by the universe with a beautiful world, with a free land and with enough brains to make the best of both. But what are we doing with that trust? I think we’re failing it. What’s the opportunity cost of lost trust? I don’t want us to lose trust. Not in ourselves. Not on the world stage. Not the trust our youth deserves from us.

The Bargain

I don’t know what kind of bargains we keep making with the devils within us, but it doesn’t look good. Literally. There comes a turning point in every civilization when it decides to either re-enlighten itself or to just throw itself on the Pagan fires of its self-constructed doom.

The ancient Romans had something important to say about the nature of nature:

Naturam expellas furca, tamen usque recurret.

(You can expel nature with a fork, but she will return.)

Which is to say that you can only temporarily carve out of nature’s bounty. If you live a life that is not in tandem with nature, then nature will find a way to snuff you out. This isn’t to say that we all need to drop what we’re doing and sit around in caves eating bowls of salad. That perspective belongs to fanatics (paradoxically that’s the sort of madness our disconnection with nature is breeding daily).  We don’t need to be paranoid about our carbon footprints. We just need to be mindful of nature’s built-in incentive to work with it. Maybe we need to build entirely new social marketing tools devoted to the fundamental project of civilization: intelligent design.

The Grandeur That Could Be Ours

The Romans arrived at wisdom too late. It’s not too late for us. But: the scarce resource of our given time is slithering away like a furious viper. We need to find a better use of the resources entrusted to us. Capitalism, democracy and freedom are all at stake. Ironically, for all of the architectural ingenuity of the Romans, in the end it was a carpenter who they nailed into history and their own coffin. This isn’t a matter of being cheap politically in vogue; it’s a simple matter of being alive and happy.

Link to TED video

James Howard Kunstler’s site

Going to Mars with NIN

As we all know, this past Sunday May 25 the Phoenix Mission to Mars landed successfully. I was a little man in 1969 when Neil Armstrong stepped onto the surface of the moon, a time when the images that came back were grainy black and white pictures piped through wavy television screens. My toddler is just about the same age right now as I was back then. And it blows me away that he’s living in a time when we can see all this through high-resolution computer screens that are way better than those cranky boxes of the 1960’s. It’s amazing how far we’ve come.

It’s kind of unfortunate that we don’t have video of the entire mission as it took place from launch to landing. But we do have computer animation to help us understand just how sleek this mission really is. And we have a very cool musical accompaniment provided by Nine Inch Nails’ Sunspots. Enjoy:

Watching that Delta rocket soar out of earth’s orbit is a remarkable work of art.

When the Phoenix landed, it took this shot of its foot (best seen with the 3-D glasses I’m sure you have handy):

Mars Rover Footprint

What makes this even cooler (at least for the geeks among us) is that you can receive communication from Phoenix via Twitter. Furthermore, the Mars Exploration Rover Mission can be seen on Facebook too. It’s a such a wild time to be alive. In a time when we hear so much bad news, it’s a proud relief to know there are some things we get right.

Youtube Link

The Biggest Drawing in the World?

August Zacchrison claims to have drawn the biggest drawing in the world using GPS and DHL. He sent a briefcase containing a GPS device through DHL on a path that traced his self-portrait accross the globe. I suppose we still need more confirmation that he did this, but it sounds very conceivable.

I wish the video was a bit more cleaver in presenting his idea. Still, it’s impressive; and it shows the creative potential for technology in the right kinds of hands.

Can you think of ways to use social media tools with the same kind of creativity? Could something like this be done with Twitter? A topic for me to cover in future posts.

UPDATE (May 27, 2008): Looks like this was all a fake. Still, a cool idea and it still brings up the whole matter of how we can use technology in ways it was never intended. I’m not sure why it was faked really. It would have been a greater story if it were true. But, hey, this is why journalism is still something we need to keep alive.

To Do List for the Twenty First Century

We are living through a time that will bring merciless changes to in everything we do. Moore’s Law is now no longer just applicable to microchips; it’s bleeding into our lives and unless we have an awareness of the dangerous opportunities we face, we will become replaceable cogs in a mindless contraption. So here is a list (certainly not exclusive or exhaustive) of ten items I plan to put into action for the rest of my life:

  1. Practice resurrection
  2. Abandon fear as a strategy
  3. Unlearn your prejudices every day
  4. Look where you are in the Long Tail
  5. Reject hope for presence of mind
  6. Remember impermanence
  7. Teach the young to forgive us
  8. Become what you already are
  9. Go where it hurts the most
  10. Encourage natural intelligence before it’s artificial

This is my list for how to thrive through the torrential culture shocks that are quaking through our mutual lives. You may have completely different ideas about how to approach our time. Do you have a list? If you do, please post them into your comments.