Multitasking Takes Toll on Blogging

I’m starting this post for at least the third time. After firing up the laptop to write, I went to check email. There I found some information I needed to go reply to a comment on one of the Facebook pages I manage. Then I ignored and confirmed some friendship requests, and checked the latest updates in my newsfeed.

But, wait, I’m supposed to be writing a post for my 30 day blogging challenge; so, I start clicking on all the different browser tabs I’ve left open to things I meant to come back to and read. I should find some topic ideas there. I read a couple and one looks like something good to share on Twitter. Which leads me to scroll though my Twitterfeed to see who else is on and what they’re tweeting.

Oh, yeah, that blog post. Wait, the evening news is on and I want to catch the weather. But first there’s some story on “vampire facelifts” – the one viewers apparently picked to watch by texting in their votes when presented with three potential stories earlier in the newscast.

Ok, so back to the browser tabs. Here’s something that looks interesting: “Multitasking Takes Toll on Memory, Study Finds.” But, it’s a New York Times story, will I be able to see it or is it paywalled? Looks like I can see it for now. It says:

Researchers said the key finding of the new study is that people between the ages of 60 and 80 have significantly more trouble remembering tasks after experiencing a brief interruption than do people in their 20s and 30s.

During the study, subjects were asked to look at a scene, then were interrupted for several seconds by an image of a person’s face. They were asked to identify the person’s gender and approximate age, and then returned to answer questions about the earlier scene. Older subjects found it much harder to disengage from the interruption and reestablish contact with the scene, the researchers found.

Oh, well. That’s just for people over 60 – I’m only 41. Sure it’s not 20 or 30, but still, right?

Crap. I missed the weather forecast. My husband has apparently switched the TV over to CNN and Anderson Cooper is talking about how stupid people are to pay Snookie to be Snookie – or just “show up and throw up” as he puts it. Can you believe Rutgers paid her $32,000 to speak there?! I better come up with something more intelligent than her to say in my blog post today.

Now, why did I open that new browser tab?

Can’t Cry for Ad.ly

Cat Sticking Out Its TongueJust read on All Things Digital that Facebook has told Ad.ly they can’t operate their celebrity pitch service on Facebook’s platform.

The post titled “Facebook Gives Ad.ly’s Celebrity Endorsement Business the Boot” appears to have gotten several important updates since it originally went up (guess sometimes it pays to be late to reading the day’s news). This includes a denial from Ad.ly that they were using personal profiles, rather than fan pages for their ads, as well as this from Facebook:

“We feel that it is important to take action when we see repeated violations of our Terms and activity that is misleading to our users and partners. Adl.ly was told many times that their activity with personal profiles was not allowed. They nevertheless attempted to circumvent the rules and were caught. We’ve officially told them to stop, they say they have, and we consider the matter resolved.”

I have to say for once, I’m in Facebook’s corner on this one. It’s for purely personal reasons, rather than professional – I just dislike the thought of celebrities getting paid to push company’s products on me through their social media profiles.

Certainly, I have and do exercise the option to not follow or fan any that do; but, I still dislike the whole concept, and therefore, can’t bring myself to shed a tear for the loss of Ad.ly’s ability to operate in Facebook.

Image via Creative Commons courtesy of gigibiru_kukuning the cats ♥♥♥♥

Of Oreos and Internet Access

Oreo
For me, it’s Oreos or Pringles. For my husband, it’s ice cream. I believe everyone has a food or two that they can’t resist.

I don’t just mean a simple craving. No, this is something different. Something that “owns” you as my pastor once described the cookies his mother in law made that “called” to him in the middle of the night until he got up and ate them all.

This is not something you just like to have. This is that thing that you can’t know is there and not go for it. I’m talking about that thing that even when you don’t really want it, you want it.

It could be a serious daily addiction, or as in my case, just something that’s best not to have in the house unless you’re ready for a binge.

Why am I thinking of this tonight? Well, one reason is that my husband came home with a can of Pringles yesterday and I now find myself eating several despite the fact that I just got back from a great dinner with friends and I’m not at all hungry.

The other is that, while eating them, I read this article from The New Yorker titled “In Praise of Distraction.” It’s about how blocking employees from the distractions of the Internet at work may actually be detrimental to their ability to get work done.

It looks at several different scientific studies that point to our inability to concentrate on a task when we know of a distraction that is within our grasp, but is forbidden. They note that “asking people to regulate their behavior without interruption (by, say, never going online at work) may very well make them less focussed and less effective.”

While many team managers may loathe the idea of having to take responsibility for actively managing how their employees spend their time, rather than letting IT firewalls do it for them. And many IT managers may seek only to save their organizations money by saving bandwidth rather than worrying they’re watching too many cute kitten videos. They may both actually be standing in the way of their company’s growth.

Sure, too many Oreos are bad for me. And, I know I can’t keep them around the house on a regular basis. But, there’s no getting around the fact that we all know the distractions of the Internet are right there every time we’re on a computer – there’s just no way to keep it out of the house.

So, don’t expect your employees to be able to resist and don’t expect them to be more productive if you try to tell them they can’t go get it out of the pantry. Instead, allow for it, and actively manage it to ensure it doesn’t become a problem.

Image via Creative Commons by mihoda

Move Fast and Break Things

This past Thursday, my employer Dell was one of several partners on hand at Facebook’s headquarters to announce the Open Compute Project.

Those of us who couldn’t attend got the inside view from our cloud evangelist Barton George. He blogged about on Direct2Dell, but his tweets gave the real-time point of view, including photos like this one.

Move Fast and Break Things sign

My reply to Barton what that it’s something Facebook seems to do really well. I mean when there are web sites like facebookdown.com and downrightnow.com/facebook, it’s gotta be a sign, right?

But, is that a good sign?

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Faith and Science Colliding

I don’t understand it, but I still like to see this announcement of a “mysterious bump” that could be a new force in nature. Physicists at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory have found something in their data that could be evidence of a new elementary particle.

Why do I like it? One reason is a bit of sentimentality. You see, it was a graduate school co-op at the Super Conducting Supercollider (SSC) that brought me to Texas back in 1993. Even though it was a job in the library, rather than the public information offices, my PR professor said it would be good experience to be part of such a ground-breaking project.

Super Conducting Supercollider Tshirt

He was right. I did get much more out of it than that cool t-shirt above. It was a great experience to be around so many intelligent people in the pursuit of new knowledge.  It was also what led me to Dallas where I met the man who will have been my husband for 15 years next month.

So, yes, I feel a certain connection to Fermilab, and the LHC at CERN, even though the actual science they pursue is beyond my basic comprehension. Because, sentimentality aside,  I think it’s important that we continue to experiment just for the sake of new discovery and the U.S. Congress was short-sighted to cut funding for the SSC. (doesn’t seem to have saved us from budget woes, has it?)

But, doesn’t searching for the “god particle” conflict with my Christian faith? I don’t think so – both science and faith are looking for the ultimate higher power and I don’t think they have to be mutually exclusive. God is beyond my comprehension, too, so who’s to say the power of God is not the power of the god particle?

The search for both is, as this blogger put it more eloquently than I, “based on faith in the existence of an unseen force that controls the universe.”

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The Twelfth Night Brings Shakespeare and Marketing

On the twelfth night of my blogging challenge, my muse gave to me … Shakespeare.

What is love? This not hereafter.

Present mirth hath present laughter.

What’s to come is still unsure.

In delay there lies no plenty.

Come and kiss me sweet and twenty.

Youth’s a stuff will not endure.

It’s the one piece of poetry I still remember from high school English and I always thought it was one of Shakespeare’s sonnets; but, when I looked it up to see if I’d really remembered it correctly (I did – gold star for me) I found out it was actually from his play Twelfth Night.

This is actually the second time that Shakespeare has come to me recently. Last time, it was in the form of a keynote address at the March 2011 iMedia Brand Summit.

Shakespearean scholar, and iMedia’s chief content officer, Brad Berens gave a lively presentation on
what today’s brand marketers can learn from William Shakespeare.

It was different as marketing conference keynotes go, but enjoyable, and now you can enjoy it too:

20 Percent of Kindergarten-2nd Graders Own Cell Phones. Really?

Only 47 percent of high school students believe schools are doing a good job leveraging new technologies to enhance learning.

That was one of the results of the Speak Up 2010 survey of almost 300,000 students, 43,000 parents, 35,000 teachers, 2000 librarians and 3500 administrators from more than 6500 private and public schools.

It’s one I take with a huge grain of salt when I also see that students’ main complaints were around blocking of certain websites and inability to use their mobile phones. I’m definitely in Shel Holtz’s court when it comes to fighting for corporations to stop blocking for their employees, but have no problem with my kid’s school doing it. Call me a hypocrite if you will.

What really struck me while reading about this survey, however, was this:

Bar Chart - Parents Would Buy Their Children Smartphones

Not only are two-thirds of elementary school parents “likely” to buy their children a mobile device – which can cover a lot of territory from cell phone to tablet – but the study also found that 20 percent of kindergarten through second graders said they already owned cell phones.

Really?

I mean, I consider myself a tech proponent in the raising my child. I not only got her online at an early age, but we even spent time visiting and reviewing many different virtual worlds. But I have yet to see a strong benefit to giving her a cell phone.

She certainly asks for one, but my patent response has been that she’ll get one when she needs one.

Can anyone convince me that children under 8 years old really need their own phone?

Image Credit: Read Write Web

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Rumored Twitter Brand Pages: Boost or Bane?

One of the links most often shared in my twitterstream today was to this ReadWriteWeb article “Twitter to Offer Brand Pages Like Facebook’s, Report Says.”

And it led to this brief conversation (who says Twitter is just broadcast?)

Twitter discussion thread
My thought was that I could see a benefit if it was more of a landing page than something like a Facebook fan page – less a place to interact and more a place to find out how/where to connect with a brand on Twitter.

There’s a need for that sort of page that led to the creation at my company of www.dell.com/twitter. But that page could be so much better and something integrated into Twitter might make it that much easier to manage and keep updated.

That would be my hope anyway.

What think you? Would company profile pages on Twitter be a boost or a bane?

Get in the Boat with Project Noah

The photo-sharing application Color got a lot of attention recently with its $41 million funding. And all the Instagram pics I’m seeing in Twitter and Facebook are already getting as old to me as past trends overusing photo edge effects for desktop publishing.

But there’s another mobile app out there that leverages your smartphone’s camera in what I think is a unique and useful way – to document nature around us.

Called “citizen science” and billing itself as a tool to explore and document wildlife, Project NOAH (for Networked Organisms and Habits Habitats) has the lofty goal of building “the go-to platform for documenting all the world’s organisms.”

Project NOAH mobile app

I’d downloaded the application some time last year after reading about it, and found it to be a fun way that my girl and I could do something together. We documented several different flowers and bugs we found in our urban habitat – my favorite being the largest centipede I’ve ever seen in the wild which we spotted exiting one of our local movie theaters. (that is as we were exiting, not him, although he did appear to call a crevice in the stone wall of the building home)

Then, after some time, our participation slacked off. So much so that I apparently missed many upgrades and additions to it – including that hallmark of gamification – the badge.

But I was reminded again recently when one of those Instagram photos caught my eye – this one of a giant slug. I tweeted to the photographer that it would be a cool one for Project Noah, and one of the founders, Peter Horvath, chimed in to second my suggestion!

So, I was also inspired to share with any of you who are following along with my attempt to blog every day for 30 days. I’m behind on updating my phone’s OS, though, so will have to do that before I can get the latest features. But if you like nature, taking photos and have an interest in helping document the world around you – go download it now!

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