A tag cloud (a typical Web 2.0 phenomenon in i...
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“Never write anything down that you wouldn’t be proud to show a nun,” my mother once advised me. Curious advice for a then seven-year-old, but she saw the sparks of my word-smithing passion early.

To divulge or not to divulge. That is the question in our Web 2.0 lives.

Lately I have been fascinated with the concept of our digital selves as social media and the notion of transparency continue to shape the public relations industry (of which I am a part). We reveal what seem to be our deepest secrets (I prefer dark chocolate) and stay in touch with people via Facebook that we haven’t seen in twenty-five years. We create a false sense of familiarity, as if we really know what’s going on with the other person, only to be shocked when we see that person in the flesh to realize all is not well in the State of Denmark.

In truth, through our online self-branding management efforts, we develop a pseudo-reality for ourselves and, along with it, pseudo-selves.

Roaming about as the avatars of our own creation, we have reached a Brave New World of information exchange at the highest (and lowest) level. But much of what gets belched broadcast out onto the Internet has the life of a match. It fizzles out of existence as quickly as it was written. All the while we self-soothe, thinking someone might be listening or care what we write. We yearn for connection and get it in some way ~ oftentimes through people we don’t know. We meet on a virtual plane for a passing moment at a cross-section in time that can be instanteneous or time-controlled, should we choose not to respond just yet.

I have ambivalent feelings about the very medium that has granted me much of the freedom to pursue my life’s work. The Internet is more powerful than most of us realize.

Despite its influence (or perhaps because of it) transparency and authenticity are great challenges in today’s 24/7 world. As a human race, we may be more connected than ever before, but our digital existence is merely a part of our greater selves.

Will our children realize there is a parallel universe beyond the screen? I am optimistic that they will.

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Slow is the New Fast

April 20, 2009

Seth Godin recently talked about the pending death of all newspapers. Since I admire his thinking, this has gotten me a little worried. There’s nothing more enjoyable than reading the paper with a steaming cup of coffee in the sunshine on a Sunday afternoon. It is the ultimate slow event as you power down to power up for the week. 

newspaper-printYou can’t curl up to a magazine quite like you can a paper. The smell of it alone brings me back to my six-year-old self. As a kid, I was an early riser, like my dad. We’d both go to the newspaper store on Saturdays to pick up what my dad called ‘the only newspaper worth reading’. He’d hand me a stick of Trident gum while he’d buy the New York Times and a pack of cigars. The overwhelming blend of tobacco and newsprint was stamped on my olifactory memory forever.

In a recent post, Seth Godin asks:

Ever notice that most car specs focus on acceleration, not braking? It’s more fun to focus on getting fast than it is on getting slow.

How would you manage or market differently if you knew that you had to hit the brakes, and hard? Slowing one thing and speeding up something else.

I would argue it is fun to focus on slow, that it has remarkable potential to align your life with what is truly important and that it allows the noise of your life to fall away. Embracing slow is about mindful living. Granted it’s worth asking how mindful it is to stay stuck in one routine because ‘you’ve always done it that way’. I’m all for tradition (and newsprint) when it serves a purpose, but Seth also has a point. Savvy businesspeople foresee trends and position themselves ahead of the curve. My only hope is we can still have a few remnant papers to curl up to. If only for a Sunday afternoon…