Social Networking



Dear Reader,

Exploration and Innovation have previously been the domain of Universities and Governments marshaling their collective resources.  How does humankind’s drive to colonize Mars in the digital media age take shape?   In the form of a reality show.   Yes, you heard right, Reality show.

It is possible to think that television has been lost in the sea of digital media, but apparently not.   From its inception, television has been leveraged to communicate, bring us together as a digital society, and socially engineer our future selves.   Presidents became closer to mainstream America, we share entertainment, atumblr_mqxvemvpsO1r01w8mo4_1280 (2)nd we witness events as a nation. We all held our breath while Apollo 13 was clinging tenaciously to life.  Broader still, other countries share our adventures into television media.  Although television now has rivals in the Internet, Cell Phones, and Tablets, television has grown to be a dominant force in our global community.

Television with the onset of reality programming has provided  Mars One‘s entrepreneur,  Bas Lansdorp, with the means to finance his dream of colonization of Mars.  Mars One is a non-profit organization working towards the goal of colonizing Mars with the first four people by 2023.   Working within our current technology, Bas, is currently seeking volunteers to go on a one-way trip to Mars.   If anyone ever told you to “Get Lost!” this is the way to do it.

As immediate as 2016, the project will be capable of unmanned demonstration.  The Mars One website showcases a complete list of FAQ’s including the business model, cost of the project, and its feasibility.  Its creator has managed to recruit an incredible amount of support including a Nobel Prize winning theoretical physicist, and world-wide suppliers for all the technical resources they will need.

The Journal of Cosmology said, “…, to attain it [an outpost on Mars] would require not only major international cooperation, but a return to the exploration spirit and risk-taking ethos of the great period of Earth exploration, from Columbus to Amundsen, but which has nowadays been replaced with a culture of safety and political  correctness.” in an article exploring the proposal in 2010.   That article goes on to analyze the potential challenges faced in such a venture.

NASA’s footage of Mars Moons passing each other from the Mars surface is beautiful.   There are individuals willing to take the risks involved in a one-way trip to Mars to be able to witness this firsthand:

This will be an epic media event.   mars-one-childrens-t-250The entire worldwide community will watch these events unfold.   Bas Lansdorp has thought of everything.  Where would any pop media event be without T-Shirts?


NewDirectionsInSensoryDeprivationDear Reader,

I often wonder what the introspection of a 20-somthing in the technology age looks like.  Lindsey Arsenault realizes the experiences of life provided by technology pale in comparison to those experienced in reality put her reflections in a recent blog post.  She coined the phrase, “Sensory Deprived Existence” while reflecting on the place of technology in her life.   As an artist, she is a self-proclaimed “raw emotion addict”.   Perhaps its the drive for experience that reinforces the dichotomy of real vs. virtual to her.

40sAs a 40-something adult who remembers rotary dialing telephones and 3 tv networks, technology is not foreign to me; but I conceptualize life as defined by real interactions with people.   When I was 20-something; life consisted of time with friends, family, and real experiences.  For myself, technology is merely a supplement to enhance relationships and my journey through life.   Its a tool not an end of itself.  Even so, there are times that the sensory-deprived existence threatens to encroach on the fullness of days lived out among others.   How often have I been guilty of saying “yes” to the sensory-deprived existence when my love of all things digital takes over?  Saying Yes to a Sensory Deprived Existence.


images (3)Dear Reader,

Is social media the devil in disguise?

The ills of Facebook are legendary – the lack of privacy, cyber bullying, and abuse of personal information for sales.  Whether you are a fan of social media or not, it has become a part of our culture.

Media, social or otherwise, has long been controversial.   The US Constitution guarantees the freedom of the press in the First Amendment established in 1791.   The freedom of the press was universally recognized by the United Nations General Assembly in 1948.   There have also been laws passed to prohibit abuses of these freedoms – libel being the most noted example.   The press has had some notable influence in the United States when the “checks and balances” system has suffered.  The rise of Joseph McCarthy to almost unassailable power in post-Nazi America in the ’50s was checked by Edward R. Murrow who pioneered broadcast journalism when television was new.   Murrow, on his show “See It Now” exposed McCarthy when the formal processes failed.

Like Edward R. Murrow with the use of new technology, will we allow social media to form us or will we form social media to our needs and best interests?

So what are the advantages of Facebook?   Among other things, my friends who regularly post to my wall are all media-savvy and I stay more up-to-date on the news than before.   I have found long-lost high school and college friends and I’m once again involved in their lives.   I keep up with my brother’s children who are all grown and leading their own lives now.   I keep up with distant family members as well.   Social media, like any other instrument of communication, is what you make of it.   I do not post anything on Facebook I do not wish to be public knowledge.   I take Facebook as the poor man’s advertising.   Your web personality is reflected in your posts.   No one can expect the cyber community to cyber-revolution-FINAL“know who I am” unless they make it clear.  The responsibility for one’s communication with the cloud community is on the individual.

The positive use of social networking is overwhelming – advances to business, professional networking, following trends, in addition to the aforementioned connection with friends and family.   Entire websites have come up to help people promote positive social change including Idealist and  Change.Org among a plethora of others.   The fact is that social good far outnumbers social bad.   The bad just attracts better headlines.

This post would not be complete without covering the topic of cyber bullying.  Cyber bullying iscyberbullying-2 an extension of bullying that has gone on forever.  Sadly, human nature has not advanced with technology and headlines love attention-getting stories.  “When a dog bites a man, that is not news, because it happens so often. But if a man bites a dog, that is news.”  was coined in the mid 1800s regarding this phenomenon.  How many of the headlines regarding cyber bullying go on in real life?  And are we giving it undue attention?  Cyber bullying will probably always exist in some form as real-life bullying has always existed.   Extensive measures have been taken to counteract this problem and will continue.

The challenges for the modern world really haven’t changed.   Employ critical thinking when absorbing information.   Is something shock journalism or serious journalism?  How accurate are the news stories being published and by what source?   What agenda drives the information?  Buyer beware.


bill-shockDear Reader,

I wound up switching from an unrestricted Internet Provider to a restricted plan because I needed a better connection.   For the first time I encountered datashock.   Once I called up my provider and increased my data for the month, I had to figure out which device was the guilty party and how to manage my errant devices.  For those of you who don’t know data-saving tactics, here is a brief run-down:

  1. Close all your apps. If they are left running in the background they will use data while you are not watching.
  2. For a machine running Windows 8, you can set your metered data settings. Tutorial available here.
  3. Windows 8 also has a built-in function to show estimated data use.  Pull up your networks in the charm bar, right click your network and show data use :Screenshot (19)
  4. For Mac users, its a bit more elusive.  Groovin’ on apps wrote a great post here.
  5. There are a couple free apps in the Apple store Mac users can download to monitor data usage including Onavo:

Screenshot (20)

  1. Make sure apps are not updating automatically if possible.
  2. Video streaming of any kind is your worst enemy.
  3. Make good use of public networks if possible.  Now is the time for a coffee shop or restaurant with free wifi.   The price of the meal is less than your data plan.

Happy surfing!


Dear Reader,

logo @NEGiveCamp is always a surreal experience.   For one weekend, I’m in an environment of total teamwork absent of self-interest, political agenda, financial goals  – everyone pulling together to help the organizations depending on us.  I planned my week of vacation around this event.

This year, the experience was healing for me.   New England Give Camp is annually hosted by Microsoft’s New England Research and Development Center at 1 Memorial Drive in Cambridge, MA.   For those of you blog followers who aren’t familiar with Boston’s geography, that is literally about a block or so from the bombings and where the officer was killed.  In addition to being so geographically close to the horrific events it was chronologically close to the events as well – about 3 weeks after.   I was terrified to get on the train to go into town.  The first night I was awakened at 3 am by a loud bang!   It turns out one of the other campers had stumbled during the night, but I was panicked for a bit.

However, being a New Englander, rather than head to the Bahamas for vacation, I pick up my weapons of choice (my trusty laptop and my courage) and I head into terrorist country.   logo

There is healing in community sharing.   I met old friends and we talked.   We processed the events together.   We worked to fix the problems in the world together.  I saw the young children that were not traumatized by the events, but were rather energized to make a difference.    Joy Olaes Surprenant always comes.   She began a wonderful organization, Catching Joy, that teaches the children the joy of givi559643_312590812203058_1173642950_ang back.   After the events of the terrorism, her organization was flooded by children wanting to know how to make a difference.

My team was helping out the fledgling organization, GVNGTogether – a non-profit that is innovating philanthropy.   Rather than philanthropy being one individual helping others, GVNGTogether is creating a community of philanthropists benefitting others.

I realized that those two terrorists made headlines and an impact.   New England Give Camp may not make the same headlines, but our impact is greater.   We outnumber them.  There are 120 of us volunteers, 24 non-profits and uncounted numbers of people positively impacted by that.   It doesn’t always feel like it, but the good is winning.   Its just not quite as flashy as Superman.


DSCF7321Dear Reader,

Here it is, the last day of Give Camp.   We have approximately 4 hours to finish up our work…  much like Celebrity Apprentice or Face Off! some of us are frantically coding DSCF7320and putting on the finishing touches of our work in the final 4 hours.  It’s been another crazy, while awesome adventure as always.  What is different than other years is engaging in this event in the shadow of the events of the Boston Marathon only a week past.  The impact on our non-profits and this event has been profound.   Profoundly good.   In addition to our technical work, we have raised funds for the victims of the bombing and for Sean Collier.   Catching Joy spearheaded creating cards for all the wonderful protection and support people of greater Boston.   Catching Joy’s growth as a non-profit has been skyrocketed this year with an overflowing of interest from children wanting to better the world and not knowing where to start or how.   TDSCF7336hey will be holding 26 special events during the coming year in anticipation of the next Marathon and in memorial of this last one.  Catching Joy’s entire impact will be on the very young children of the area and growing them into adults who know how to redirect the negative back to the positive.

There were two terrorists for those events.   Give Camp had 23 nonprofits + approximately 150 volunteers + many corporate sponsors.   Although the impact of the terrorists was profound, our impact will be greater.   I always tell my friends that this weekend is good for my soul.   It refreshes my humanity and reminds me of the beauty of the world around me.   No year has this ever been more true than now.


Dear Reader,

“A rising generation of younger donors and philanthropic leaders could bring new money Screenshot (11)to nonprofits and fresh energy to their boardrooms—if boards can overcome their current dysfunction enough to engage them.”  Rick Moyers, The Chronicle of Philanthropy.

Each year at New England Give Camp I see the world through someone else’s eyes.   Seeing the world through the eyes of the next generation provides a view of the challenges of the new world for them.   Meggan Levene, the founder of GVNGTogether  is teaching me  how the spark of philanthropy is finding its future among the X and Y-gens.

In Meggan’s own words, “A few years ago, I was hearing the same things over and over579605_10150941401546100_770778118_n again from my friends: ‘I want to make a charitable contribution but I can’t figure out which organization to donate to.’I don’t really give because it doesn’t seem like the small amount I can donate really makes a difference.’I wish I could find people who care about the same issues that I do.’  I realized my friends saw ‘giving back’ as much more than writing a check They wanted to use their knowledge, expertise and passion to make a difference, and they wanted a community of like-minded individuals to do it with.”  Meggan realized the collective community among her peers and GVNGTogether was born last year —  taking the I out of giving back!

This weekend will find our team giving Megan’s Website and Facebook pages a facelift to continue the cycle of giving back.

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