Christmas Cards, So Passé?

Last week, I shared some of my favorite family Christmas cards from through the years. Each card represents a moment in our lives, and in society. Trends change in hair, clothes, and even the cards themselves. It seems that the ever-growing grasp of technology on culture has even overcome this time honored tradition. Much to USPS’ chagrin, snail mail continues to make its way towards becoming utterly obsolete. Christmas cards have devolved from handwritten notes to loved ones, to mass-typed family newsletters, to electronically ordered pictures mailed to relatives, to ecards, to a Facebook post simply stating “Happy Holidays.”

Where’s the love?

That might be a bit of an over-exaggeration. Even among my tech savvy generation, there are the few who find ways to bring a personal touch to their holiday greetings. In fact, this year I’ve creating my own original holiday greeting and annual update. Check it out:

Holiday Infographic 2013

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Nerdtackular Links

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Sometimes I can be a little “geek chic.” It’s been an exceptionally nerdy morning for me out here in DC as I combed through Twitter onto a couple too-dorky-too-ignore links. Who better to share these with than my dear friends at SSG?

  • The Harry Potter Alliance – Mashable featured this nonprofit as one of 9 Non-Profits that Get Web Humor last January. While that’s a century ago in social media time,  I couldn’t help but be impressed with what I saw. After all, they are doing exactly what I want to do–make a difference in the world by getting people to care about the issues that matter by reaching out to them in new, fun ways on issues they already care about. Did I mention it’s fun?

Here’s their mission statement:

The Harry Potter Alliance (HPA) is a 501c3 nonprofit that takes an outside-of-the-box approach to civic engagement by using parallels from the Harry Potter books to educate and mobilize young people across the world toward issues of literacy, equality, and human rights. Our mission is to empower our members to act like the heroes that they love by acting for a better world. By bringing together fans of blockbuster books, TV shows, movies, and YouTube celebrities we are harnessing the power of popular culture toward making our world a better place. Our goal is to make civic engagement exciting by channeling the entertainment-saturated facets of our culture toward mobilization for deep and lasting social change.

  • My second nerdtackular link of the day also involves wizards and social media. Facebook founder, Sean Parker got married on June 1st in a lavish Lord of the Rings-themed ceremony. 10 million dollars of elvish lavish. And because everyone hates money when they don’t have it, there was some backlash. In what Social Times called “a Tolkienesque-length novel,” Parker took to Tech Crunch to respond to some of the media reports. Really, though, this is all about the wedding. Jaw. Still. Dropped. I want to go to there.
  • Lastly, and most excitingly, earlier this week Space.com reported that scientists identified 3 potentially habitable planets around the star Gliese 667C, about 22 light-years away from earth. These super-earths could host alien life forms. A couple years ago, I joined tens of thousands of Americans in signing a “We the People” petition asking the White House to officially acknowledge the existence of aliens. My decision to sign was more about the petition process itself than the content (although, um, yeah, obviously aliens exist *scoff*). That said, I was only somewhat disappointed at this response issued by the White House. ET may have phoned home, but nobody phoned the White House–yet. Anyways, promising stuff for Team Alien in the fight against Team Twilight.

I Don’t Mean to Get Graphic

One of the things I’ve really enjoyed about the blossom in technology is the rise in infographics. People have been using clever means of displaying information for all of time. Now, thanks to programmers after my own heart, creating easy-to-digest data displays need only take a matter of minutes.

I may be somewhat of a wonk (click here and see definition 1), but I think what I’ve brought to most of my jobs thus far is the ability to take complex policy information and break it down in ways that anyone can understand. [Thank you, Ralf and Erik, for teaching me to “dumb it down.”] While I refuse to make policy a huge part of what I do on this site, I thought this infographic about the State of the Union was timely and a great way to demonstrate how an infographic works.

 

Some of the interesting take-aways, IMHO, are that the highest volume of tweets occurred during discussion of topics that relate to young people–education and college tuition, Steve Jobs, the “spilled milk” joke. This is obviously not surprising since we are talking about Twitter reactions.

 

What did you think about the State of the Union?

 

A toast, to wonks everywhere–may we learn to sound less condescending.

“Bill Gates‘d be a broader guy if he had dropped acid once or gone off to an ashram when he was younger.”
~Steve Jobs 

A Nod to the Future

If you have not downloaded and used a QR reader on your smartphone, you might as well be using your mobile as a paperweight.

My initial exposure to QR codes (Quick Response Codes) happened over a year ago, though I don’t remember the exact circumstances. Although I recognized that it was “cool”, I wasn’t sold on its utility in the current sphere of technology advancements. Despite the growing prevalence and influence of mobile media (stuff you can do on your cell phone), especially in this globalized world, there just didn’t seem to be a market for this technology–yet. Much like the early days of Facebook and Twitter, people knew they liked it and they knew there was potential, but people hadn’t figured out the true scope of what it could become.

The first time I used a QR code and reader in practice was during the gubernatorial election in California. I’d done my homework and I knew my candidates and my issues. As a majority of these synced up with the voting guide of a rather well-known talking head duo, I simply snapped a picture of the QR code they provided for direct access to their voting guide and ran out the door. When I got to the polling place, my voting guide was conveniently pulled up on my mobile browser. I enacted my civil duty and continued on with my day.

It’s said that technology comes to politics 3-5 years after it hits the commercial sector. I guess that didn’t apply here.

QR codes, with all their potential, have been grossly underused. However, I think that is about to change.

I’m going start by challenging you to download a free QR reader on your phone. I currently have the rather cryptically named “QR Reader for iPhone”. Next, open the app and use your camera to scan the picture of my QR code above. Pretty cool, right?

There have been numerous articles written in the last year or so about the potential that QR codes. If you don’t think that QR codes can benefit you or your business, you are wrong. I challenge you to comment, and I will give you great examples of how you can integrate this new, FREE technology into your life.

I know this sounds like some kind of weird sales pitch. But you have to admit–in this Reality 2.0, technocentric world getting ahead in life means getting ahead of technology. Also, I just wanted an excuse to make a QR code for my blog–which ideally I will be updating more regularly now that I am getting into the flow out here.

If you are interested in knowing more about QR codes, here is a link that will give you more information on what they are and what is currently being said about them on the technoblogosphere:

http://mashable.com/follow/topics/qr-codes/

As a sidenote, Mashable.com is one of my new favorite sites. It primarily handles things like the future of new, social and mobile media but in a real and interesting way. Not too much jargon with very practical suggestions and insights. You might want to check it out!

Don’t forget! If you want me to tell you how QR codes can improve your life–COMMENT!

To techocentrism and the people who know what that means!

If it keeps up, man will atrophy all his limbs but the push-button finger. 
~Frank Lloyd Wright