Archive for the 'New media' Category

Moving to “The Smith Compound”

Where coyotes live…

Time to give this blog a rest and try something new.

The Smith Compound actually has been up for a few weeks now, and your blogger has not been in Iowa in some time. He’s a mile high and Mrs. Smith will be, too, before a whole lot longer.

The Smiths are still very much interested in cycling and what’s going on in Iowa with our many friends and relations.

We are fortunate that we will be able to stay in virtual touch so easily, but things change. Shit happens. Time flies.

Please visit as often as you can, even if it’s only at the new digital home in the West.

Why is there water?

Just as air is for filling up volleyballs and basketballs and footballs*, not to mention bicycle tires and soccer balls, water for many of us is something that keeps a canoe or a kayak or a bass boat afloat.

Water is for washing cars, keeping the lawn green, swimming around in and splashing on others. We drink it and use it to brush our teeth and wash our clothes and do so many other mundane things.

In much of the United States and, I suppose, much of the rest of the world, we have trouble even imagining life without clean, fresh water.

Take a look at charity: water and it won’t be so hard to imagine.

You’ll learn that:

“Almost a billion people on the planet don’t have access to clean drinking water. Unsafe water and a lack of basic sanitation cause 80% of all disease and kill more people than all forms of violence, including war.”

You will learn what you can do to help, and how far even a modest cash donation will go.

Another way to help: Buy a copy (or two or three) of the social media book Age of Conversation 3: It’s Time to Get Busy! using one of these links:

Why? All of the proceeds go to charity: water.

I know that because I’m one of the book’s many co-authors. I slipped in there among some pretty deep thinkers and innovative marketing types. Consider it a must-read, and help bring clean drinking water to people who really, really need it.

* * *

*Paraphrasing the great Bill Cosby, of course.

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An open social media letter to some friends

Party Line

Image by mhartford via Flickr

Dear friends:

You don’t need to be dragged kicking and screaming into the world of social media after all.

You are already here.

That “kicking and screaming” image came up twice recently, once when I used it and then just the other day when I started reading “The New Community Rules: Marketing on the Social Web.” Across the top of the book’s front cover is a quote from Dave McClure, 500hats, in which he says of author Tamar Weinberg:

“I can think of no one more qualified to bring you kicking and screaming into the 21st century…”

The book, obviously, targets those who have a stake in marketing themselves or their companies well. You may or may not have a similar stake, although if I were selling real estate (you know who you are) I would be exploring the possibilities.

So why do I say you are already here in the world of social media? In part, maybe I use the terms “social” and “media” a bit differently from the way some others might. (A telephone line could fit into my definition of a social medium.)

Look at what you’ve been doing:

  • You have sent emails to many, many people – sometimes sharing the pictures you’ve taken on your cell phones and digital cameras.
  • Growing numbers of you text friends and family. (That’s one digital habit I’ve managed to avoid picking up so far.) Maybe you’re even sexting each other. I don’t wanna know.
  • You frequently use search engines to get new information on where to eat or drink or how much your trip will cost, and you share what you’ve learned.
  • Some of you read blogs and the comments on blogs and news stories.
  • A couple of you participated rather actively by commenting on what I said in an interview about “Age of Conversation 3: It’s Time to Get Busy!

Still, many of you do not use Facebook or Twitter or LinkedIn or any of the other sites and networks commonly thought of as “social media.”

That doesn’t matter. You are already part of the conversation, which is what is important.

And I didn’t notice any kicking or screaming.

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AOC3 authors will help “Make a Wish”

Off the bike:

With an international co-author cast of 170 or so writers, marketers and thinkers, there are bound to be more than a few thoughts provoked by “Age of Conversation 3: It’s Time to Get Busy!

I had the good fortune to sneak in there amongst them and was able to do it without using the word “bicycle” even once. (I did use “snark” in a sentence – as a verb – and hope it will make its way to a dictionary someday.)

Not only did each author contribute a few hundred words, they’ll be giving the proceeds away to help the Make-A-Wish Foundation make wishes come true.

For my part, I’m looking forward to seeing what the rest of the folks have to say about community, engagement, marketing and social media, and I am more than a little excited about being a part of this project.

It’s coming soon…with words by these folks:

Adam Joseph Priyanka Sachar Mark Earls
Cory Coley-Christakos Stefan Erschwendner Paul Hebert
Jeff De Cagna Thomas Clifford Phil Gerbyshak
Jon Burg Toby Bloomberg Shambhu Neil Vineberg
Joseph Jaffe Uwe Hook Steve Roesler
Michael E. Rubin anibal casso Steve Woodruff
Steve Sponder Becky Carroll Tim Tyler
Chris Wilson Beth Harte Tinu Abayomi-Paul
Dan Schawbel Carol Bodensteiner Trey Pennington
David Weinfeld Dan Sitter Vanessa DiMauro
Ed Brenegar David Zinger Brett T. T. Macfarlane
Efrain Mendicuti Deb Brown Brian Reich
Gaurav Mishra Dennis Deery C.B. Whittemore
Gordon Whitehead Heather Rast Cam Beck
Hajj E. Flemings Joan Endicott Cathryn Hrudicka
Jeroen Verkroost Karen D. Swim Christopher Morris
Joe Pulizzi Leah Otto Corentin Monot
Karalee Evans Leigh Durst David Berkowitz
Kevin Jessop Lesley Lambert Duane Brown
Peter Korchnak Mark Price Dustin Jacobsen
Piet Wulleman Mike Maddaloni Ernie Mosteller
Scott Townsend Nick Burcher Frank Stiefler
Steve Olenski Rich Nadworny John Rosen
Tim Jackson Suzanne Hull Len Kendall
Amber Naslund Wayne Buckhanan Mark McGuinness
Caroline Melberg Andy Drish Oleksandr Skorokhod
Claire Grinton Angela Maiers Paul Williams
Gary Cohen Armando Alves Sam Ismail
Gautam Ramdurai B.J. Smith Tamera Kremer
Eaon Pritchard Brendan Tripp Adelino de Almeida
Jacob Morgan Casey Hibbard Andy Hunter
Julian Cole Debra Helwig Anjali Ramachandran
Jye Smith Drew McLellan Craig Wilson
Karin Hermans Emily Reed David Petherick
Katie Harris Gavin Heaton Dennis Price
Mark Levy George Jenkins Doug Mitchell
Mark W. Schaefer Helge Tenno Douglas Hanna
Marshall Sponder James Stevens Ian Lurie
Ryan Hanser Jenny Meade Jeff Larche
Sacha Tueni and Katherine Maher David Svet Jessica Hagy
Simon Payn Joanne Austin-Olsen Mark Avnet
Stanley Johnson Marilyn Pratt Mark Hancock
Steve Kellogg Michelle Beckham-Corbin Michelle Chmielewski
Amy Mengel Veronique Rabuteau Peter Komendowski
Andrea Vascellari Timothy L Johnson Phil Osborne
Beth Wampler Amy Jussel Rick Liebling
Eric Brody Arun Rajagopal Dr Letitia Wright
Hugh de Winton David Koopmans Aki Spicer
Jeff Wallace Don Frederiksen Charles Sipe
Katie McIntyre James G Lindberg & Sandra Renshaw David Reich
Lynae Johnson Jasmin Tragas Deborah Chaddock Brown
Mike O’Toole Jeanne Dininni Iqbal Mohammed
Morriss M. Partee Katie Chatfield Jeff Cutler
Pete Jones Riku Vassinen Jeff Garrison
Kevin Dugan Tiphereth Gloria Mike Sansone
Lori Magno Valerie Simon Nettie Hartsock
Mark Goren Peter Salvitti
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Age of Conversation 3: It’s Time to Get Busy!

Off the bike:

As a daily newspaper reporter back in the 20th century, I was used to writing news stories one day and having them land on people’s doorsteps just a few hours later. Books don’t happen like that.

Age of Conversation 3A call for authors to contribute chapters to this book went out five or so months ago. It’s due out in mid-April as hardback and paperback and in Kindle and iPad versions.

Click the cover image for more about the book, which I co-authored with, oh, somewhere around 175 other writers. (Maybe I should say co-co-co-co-…authored.) Among them is my former colleague Carol Bodensteiner, author of Growing Up Country: Memories of an Iowa Farm Girl.

Hiya, Carol!

Another book, which I’m not sharing with so many other writers, is nearing publication, too, after about a year in the works. More on that in the next few weeks, too.

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Keep the newspaper? Some advice for me

Off the bike…

Mrs. Smith and I are trying to decide if we should renew our subscription to the newspaper that employed her for 19 years or so before she decided to move on.

I asked for advice the other day. Following are some of the responses that came via Twitter and Facebook. (I think I used my weekly quota of asterisks.)

Unless otherwise indicated, these came from Eastern Iowa:

Dave* – I would keep your Gazette subscription for sure!

Paul (MN) – I went to weekend only subscription a couple years ago. I can only take the time and aggravation a couple days a week.

Ron – I only read the Sat/Sun edition for years then dropped it to read the e-Edition

Rita – If I made the choice on that in my household – it would be ‘no’ though I do enjoy chatting with the delivery woman at 6:30 am. It is a rehash of local – on all the time – news.

Rob – Dumped mine 20 years ago. Test is: do you recycle them unopened??

Denise – Haven’t gotten the paper in yes. There r so many ways ti keep informed

Jennifer** – Keep it. Keep it. Keep it.

Beverly (MN) – I got rid of mine years ago. Minnneapolis Trib had nothing to say and had gone to bigger print…I think to fill the space. Tried New York Times on sunday. That kept me up to date. So, you decide…

Sarah*** – How will you do your crossword puzzles?

B.J. – Good question, Sarah! I hardly ever get to do them (since your Mom does them). I swore off Sudokus as a waste of time. I can read those great Jennife rHemmingsen columns online…. Still undecided and waiting for more community input.

Larry – We still get the weekend papers but gave up the daily 6 months ago. No content beyond what was on last nights TV news and I can read it on line for free. I don’t miss it a bit.

B.J. – We do read them pretty closely B4 recycling. Sometimes enjoy the wacky letters to editor. Check the obits to make sure I’m not there….

D’Anne (NJ) – if you can subscribe (paid) online, save a tree; I still subscribe to 2 dailes (7 x/week) although both are available online, 1 is free online, but who’s paying the freight if there’s no advertisers? and advertisers won’t advertise if there’s no circ. even so, on line adverts go for pennies, not the $$$ of paper. So subscribe (online or paper) to newspapers with meaningful content.

I had thought I might provoke a response from a circulation type making a case for home delivery, but nothing like that so far. One more loss won’t make much difference, right?

Now leaning toward dropping it to see if I can handle the withdrawal. I had a rough time recently when visiting my sister at her newspaper-free home in Denver, but after 14 days the craving for the rustle of newsprint with my morning coffee was pretty much gone.

* * *
* Dave Storey is publisher of the Cedar Rapids Gazette. Nice try, Dave. I hope the feedback from these folks is helpful.
** Jennifer Hemmingsen, Gazette columnist.
*** My daughter.

C.R. hosts open house June 3 on its brand new “Bicycle Friendly” action plan

From email received this morning:

The City of Cedar Rapids will host a Bicycle Advisory Committee Open House on Wednesday, June 3, 2009 from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the African American Museum Celebration Hall located at 55 12th Ave SE, Cedar Rapids, Iowa. The event is free and open to the public.

There will be a short presentation on what the Bicycle Advisory Committee has accomplished, current City projects designed with bicycle accommodations, upcoming events, and details about the Bicycle Friendly Community Action Plan.

The Bicycle Advisory Committee’s mission is to establish Cedar Rapids as a Bicycle Friendly Community. On May 27, City Council approved the committee’s Bicycle Friendly Community Action Plan that will help meet this goal. Some of the steps in the Action Plan to improve conditions for bicycling in our community include:

  • Provide safe and convenient bicycle access to all parts of the community.
  • Establish information programs to promote bicycling.
  • Make the City a model employer by encouraging bicycle use among its employees.
  • Ensure City policies, plans, codes and programs create a more bicycle friendly community.
  • Educate all road users to share the road and interact safely.
  • Enforce traffic laws to improve the safety and comfort of all users.
  • Develop programs to encourage bicycle use in neighborhoods.
  • Promote intermodal travel between public transport and bicycles.

Blogger’s note: If you ride your bicycle to the open house, park it on the trail side of the building just outside the windows. You’ll be able to keep an eye on it pretty easily.

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Let us suppose: The “heretic” Malcolm MacLean and journalism today

Off the bike

A few words and links about journalism:

In the early 1970s, the University of Iowa School of Journalism was denied accreditation and lost a good bit of its reputation. This sort of thing happens sometimes when innovators are involved.

It is a complicated story, which is conspicuous by its absence from this timeline.

Some of it was documented in the Iowa Journalism Review several years ago (albeit very poorly, to judge by the subsequent comments from Brent Ruben, Richard Budd and Ken Starck). I have not read the book mentioned in that story, but I will be looking for it. I suspect there are good lessons to be learned.

I met the central figure, Malcolm MacLean, just once, when I visited the university as a high school senior.

Much of what he said, I readily admit, went right over my head. As a school newspaper sports editor and aspiring Hawkeye journalism student, I was focused on what we were having for lunch at the Memorial Union, the blizzard my mother and I had just driven through, and on what I thought of as journalism’s nuts and bolts – writing a good lede, the inverted pyramid, and getting the facts right.

Except for the lunch, the blizzard and, to some extent, the inverted pyramid, those things are still important.

But so, as we’ve come to see more clearly in more recent history, is imagination.

One of my favorite phrases, which I have used more times than I can count in just as many contexts, I learned from Dr. Joe Ascroft, who taught one of my freshman journalism classes in that soon-to-be non-accredited program:

“Let us suppose.”

Let us suppose we are trying to build a strong team of journalists for a thriving organization today. What lessons might apply? What skills would we look for?

I’ll propose a few basic principles:

  • Get the basics right, of course. Write clearly.
  • Learn and use the many tools of the trade.
  • Value diverse experience and perspectives. If the best minds in publishing have brought us to our present circumstance, cast the net wider.
  • Find ways to involve people with content. Look for connections between information and people, and show those people the connections.
  • Acknowledge your biases and let the community judge.
  • Be a part of the community.
  • Have no fear.

MacLean might not have seen the Internet coming, but he and the J-School staff of the time had us thinking beyond the printed page. We were learning about film and broadcasting and interactivity as well as typography and writing newspaper stories and headlines.

All of those skills are needed now.

My hope for journalism is that someone is looking beyond the next few months with a good deal of imagination and no fear at all. My guess is that Malcolm MacLean would be right at home in digital journalism and looking well down the road, afraid of nothing.

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They dig our district and want to plant us some trees

Trees Forever and Alliant Energy want to know where they should plant some trees.

John Wauro, vice president of the Linn County Trails Association, explained in a blast to the membership:

Trees Forever along with Alliant Energy has announced a program called “We Dig Your District” to plant trees in each of the five Cedar Rapids City Council Districts.  They are asking for suggestions for locations (including trails) that could benefit from a few well-placed trees.  See [the Trees Forever web site] for more information.

LCTA would like to submit suggestions for one or more of the council districts.  Please send me trail locations, trail parking lots or other trail related locations that additional trees would contribute to a healthier and more beautiful community.  Include a description of what makes this location special and how trees would make a difference at this site. Alternatively, you are welcome to submit your suggestion directly to Trees Forever as described on their web site.

Important:  The deadline for submission is February 25!

To help the LCTA get more trees along the trails, send your ideas to and send them soon.

Join the LCTA, while you’re at it, and thank these folks for getting things done.

Those trails didn’t just happen, you know.

To Robert Davison: Be the media

Off the bike…

Interesting letter to the editor in this morning’s Gazette / yesterday’s online Gazette.

Robert Davison of Cedar Rapids says the newspaper needs a columnist who will be a “biased promoter” of Cedar Rapids.

Not that anyone asked me, but I couldn’t disagree more.

For one thing, such a columnist/promoter would not be taken very seriously as a journalist. The newspaper might as well devote a column to be authored on occasion by the head of the Chamber of Commerce, local economic development groups, maybe the mayor and various business owners and non-profit causes. (Now that I mention it, I seem to remember seeing guest columns by some of these characters. They even let me do one about bicycling last summer.)

I’d say this to Mr. Davison, pretty much as I said to cyclists who bemoan the lack of bicycling stories in the local media:

If you want someone to champion Cedar Rapids, find something good to say and say it. Get your friends and neighbors to say it.

You may not quite understand this yet, but you are part of the media.

  • You and others have your say occasionally on the Gazette’s opinion page and letters and comments in other media.
  • You are free to write your own blog, to be your own columnist and promote Cedar Rapids as much as you want, whenever you want. You might get people to read your column and help you spread the good news. You might not.
  • You can publish information about Cedar Rapids in various social media for all the world to see.

I even started a blog for folks who want to share nice stories about what’s going on in their communities. It’s called Iowa Nice. No, it’s not just about Cedar Rapids, so some other places get mentioned.

It’s about whatever contributors want it to be as long as it’s related to the overall theme of Iowa people being Iowans, about favorite Iowa places (physical, digital or otherwise).

You’re not confined to the Gazette’s opinion page any more.

Be the media.

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