Is Obama Too Cool To Be President?: What People Are Talking About Online This Week, April 23-27

A conservative group called American Crossroads thinks Barack Obama has been too busy being cool. Dubbing him the “Celebrity President”, they’ve released a video documenting the last four years of the President’s moves and grooves – from hanging out on Jimmy Fallon’s show, to dancing with Ellen DeGeneres, chugging a Guinness, crooning a little Al Green and dismissing Kanye West as a “jackass”. About the only thing missing from the video aimed at convincing younger voters that cool ain’t gonna pay the rent (or your student loans) was this week’s viral Instagram snap (shown here).

Yep, our first social media President has done it again. Keeping pace with the online chatter about the importance of photos in any and all narratives, this week Obama posed for an Instagram photo with the exact type of voter the American Crossroads group was trying to convince to vote against him in November. University of Colorado junior Madalyn Starkey bumped into Obama on a campaign stop in a Boulder bar. Her boyfriend snapped her with the Celebrity President making a “wow factor” face and posted to Instagram. Typical viral activity ensued for the next 24 hours, with Starkey being dubbed “Dive Bar Girl”. We know pictures speak a thousand words. We think this one will probably translate into a thousand votes. Only six-and-a-half months and a couple of million more Instagrams to go until Election Day.

What else are people talking about online this week? 

We know you do! Catch up on these stories and more and join the conversation over at the Online Media Roundup.

Insta-This: What People Are Talking About Online This Week, April 16-20

Unless you’ve been under a rock or have yet to purchase a mobile device, you have probably heard of a little app called Instagram that lets you take photos with your phone and post them around the interwebs. Some guy named Mark Zuckerberg apparently got wind of it, and bought it last week for a cool $1 billion as an add-on to his social network, Facebook.

This left a lot of people scratching their heads wondering what the world was coming to. Why the obsession with photos – good, bad, professional, amateur, sunrises, sunsets and everything in between? And then it dawned on some of us — pictures can tell a pretty good story really fast.

A glance now is worth 140 characters (or carries more impact than a Twitter tweet). This was evident this week with the passing of American TV icon, Dick Clark, also known as “America’s oldest teenager.” He was 82.

Dick Clark spent 60 years of his life in front of the camera. Whether he was being photographed as a young Philadelphia deejay, for publicity stills as host of the long-running American Bandstand, as the face of ringing in another New Year at Times Square on New Year’s Rockin’ Eve, or any of his thousands of other TV hosting, emceeing or award-giving gigs, the Clark photo archive was jam-packed.

Major news outlets and tiny blogs around the world were able to access hundreds of Clark stills online within hours and put together “photo obits”. Yes, there were captions. But they weren’t really needed. Whether you were 15 or 50+, whether you grew up with Dick Clark or had no idea who he was, one flick through a 10- to 15-photo online slideshow told the story. This guy epitomized rock and roll and American pop culture. He made an impression. And photographers, good and bad, professional and amateur, were there every step of the way to document it.

Will photos replace words? Of course not. But do they help us get up to speed on certain stories in a way words can’t. Yes. Is every picture worth a thousand words? Nope. But isn’t is great so many of us can snap and post what’s in our mind’s eye in a couple of seconds with Instagram? Mark Zuckerberg thinks so. And so do millions of Instagram users.

Other visuals telling us some stories this week — photos, videos and those amazing infographics — include:

Here’s to a snap-happy weekend! Catch up on these stories and more at the Online Media Roundup.

Photo source: This photo of Dick Clark jumping was taken in 1952 by photographer Phillippe Halsman and appears in his famous “Jump Book”. Read more about the “Jump Book” here.

The Death of Dick Clark and the Birth of the Photo Obit


It’s fitting that Americans have taken to the interwebs to laugh, cry, share and snark in a collective show of mass online grief over the death of our oldest teenager, Dick Clark, who passed away this week at the age of 82.

After all, what’s the preferred way of teenagers to connect over anything? Online, right? Social networks, texts, IMs.

We’ve seen the unfortunate passing of more than a few celebrities unfold on Twitter over the past year. Both real (Whitney Houston, Davy Jones) and imagined (Cher, Jon Bon Jovi, Chris Brown).

The news of Dick Clark’s death broke in a similar pattern, with tweets from Sen. John McCain, Rep. Mary Bono Mack, Snoop Dogg and Duran Duran within minutes of each other that got #DickClark trending and led to complete, standard journalism 101 obits coming forth from CNN, the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times within the hour. (By Journalism 101, we mean those obits we know were prepared and fact checked years in advance, all that’s needed is the lead paragraph that gives us the specifics of the death – time, place, cause.)

Flash forward to the wonderful world of Web 2.0 and the 24-hour news cycle.

In less than a day, a new phenomenon has been unleashed – the photo obit. Clark’s life, which played out for nearly 60 years on our TV screens, was well documented with photos from nearly every segment of it. Host of American Bandstand, New Year’s Rockin’ Eve and the $20,000 Pyramid, award ceremonies and guest appearances. We have young slicked back Dick, middle-aged sideburned and bell-bottomed Dick, older-aged super-tanned Dick. Whatever Dick you want, you can get in just one of the many photo tribute outpourings online. They come complete with captions that tell the story, in case you need them, but those are pretty much irrelevant.

There’s been a lot of talk in the past week since Facebook purchased the popular photo sharing app Instagram for $1 billion. Most people want to know why. It only took a week and the death of an 82-year-old teenager for that question to be answered.

Photographers have long known that pictures speak louder than words. Now the rest of the world knows this, too. For the past few years we’ve had less and less use for words, but we thought we needed at least 140 characters. Now we see that in the fast-paced, Web 2.0-driven 24-hour news cycle we don’t even need that. A good photo, and when warranted, a lifetime of great ones, can tell the story – at least at first glance.

Streamlining Web 2.0

Whenever I hear about deals like last week’s Facebook purchase of Instagram for $1 billion, or read a story with a title like “11 Startups That Could Get Bought for $1 Billion Tomorrow” , I get to thinking about the good old days. Web 1.0, and the ability to start shifting a bulk of my research and fact checking work out of the public library and into the home office. All I needed was a PC and a dial-up Internet connection and suddenly I could do twice as much work in half the time.
It was 1995, then 1996. It seemed a new search engine was coming at us every week. Google didn’t exist yet. You had a choice of email providers like AOL offering a way to search. Or you could go with the latest model with a clever logo and promise of getting you closer to what you were looking for – Yahoo!, Lycos, Excite, HotBot, WebCrawler, Ask Jeeves, Alta Vista.
In fact, as that decade came to a close and Google became a part of the playing field, the choice of search engines and determining which one had access to the most data is similar to the choice in social networks we are grappling with here in the midst of Web 2.0. In this land of suddenly plenty – which ones will keep us connected to the right people at the right time?
Of the 11 startups identified as potential $1 billion businesses, five are genuine social networks and the rest are all bona fide Web 2.0 businesses that promote sharing and expediting retail transactions – whether it’s your spare room (Airbnb), groovy new online playlist (Spotify) or making a wishlist for your fantasy kitchen (Pinterest). The problem with this plethora of social networks and online services is similar to Web 1.0 and the search engine scene. Sure, some of these products and services are better than others, but few are bad. We don’t have time to use – or even try – them all, and if some are bought up by the bigger players and integrated into or complement and enhance current services, we will spend less time trying to organize our online lives and get more done!
Will there soon be an Instagram button on Facebook? (As a third party, you could always connect your Instagram account to Facebook … or Twitter). Will Google use some of its cash to buy a social network like Path that would allow you to put those family and friend Google+ circles on steroids and optimize the less-is-more trend in social networking that cites our real reach is no more than 150 people? (The average Facebook user has something like 254 “friends”, you know who you don’t really know.) Could Apple buy Spotify? These are some of the what-ifs that make up the 11 Startups That Could Get Bought for $1 Billion Tomorrow.
As Web 2.0 continues to streamline, the huge chunks of our lives now spent online will get smaller, just like they did, briefly, when the term “Google it” took over the searching through search engines to find the most effective one. For now, we continue to grapple with terms like friend, tweet, check-in, link , Yelp, stream, share, and pin to connect and accomplish. Eventually Web 2.0 will get down to two or three. And then we can move onto Web 3.0.

Dog and Pony Show: What People Are Talking About Online This Week, April 8-13

Just when you think all is clear and women can get back to living life in the 21st century, along comes another round of comments gone viral and tweets and retweets that have even men we think of as our friends – Barack Obama, Joe Biden and their advisers – galloping down the low road to defend the wife of billionaire GOP presidential contender Mitt Romney. What’s going on here!?

Ann Romney (or @AnnDRomney as her just-launched-this-week Twitter account brands her) was somewhat blind-sided by a comment by staunch Democrat Hilary Rosen on CNN. In the context of Mitt Romney would be turning to wife Ann for advice on the economy, Rosen pointed out the absurdity of this by saying Mrs. Romney had “never worked a day in her life.”

The next morning @AnnDRomney shot back (via her Twitter account, two tweets, more than 31,000 followers) “I made a choice to stay home and raise five boys. Believe me, it was hard work.”

Yeah, maybe if Mitt was a working class guy or some middling Massachusetts middle manager. But as one commenter has pointed out in the New York Times,

“are we to believe the billionaire Romney’s have no housestaff? No drivers? No nannys? No maid? No gardners? No “personal assistants”? Is she really doing the laundry, picking up the dry cleaning, scrubbing and disinfecting the toilets and floors of bathrooms used by 6 male family members, grocery shopping with coupons and planned list to keep under $150 a week, driving to multiple soccer practices, the cooking, the bill paying, filling the gas tank, making sure Mitt’s lunch is made for work?”

While Hilary Rosen has said she was sorry about the unfortunate comment, there’s a lot of underlying chatter that she’s not really that sorry, nor should she be.

It was unfortunate that Obama, Biden and their advisers didn’t let this play out a little more before scrambling to distance themselves from Rosen and joining forces with Sarah Palin, Elizabeth Hassleback, Rush Limbaugh, et al. It will not take long for Americans to realize the GOP “Moms Do Work” and “Moms Drive the Economy” coffee mugs and bumper stickers are good for one thing. Stocking up on them now and selling them on eBay in a couple of years.

Mrs. Romney is an accomplished dressage horse rider (yes, that’s the kind of sport the average working mother has hours to devote to, for sure). That provides us with the “pony” for this week’s show, but the “dog” is an even uglier stretch.

While too many Republicans, Democrats, men and women, have waded knee deep into the muck caused by Hilary Rosen’s comments, other online attacks on women are breaking out over our looks:

Thank the goddess for one tough lady still left standing at the end of a week like this. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is not only still texting, and enjoying her whole week of meme fame, she even took a call from GOP presidential candidate dropout Rick Santorum.

Take a cue from Madam Secretary and keep your sense of humor. Things will get worse. Make sure you keep up with it all on the Online Media Roundup. Join the conversation. Make your voice heard.

Photo courtesy of The Chronicle of the Horse.

Instagram, Facebook and Privacy: Rumblings on the Wall

Within minutes of Monday’s announcement that the world’s biggest social network (Facebook) acquired the world’s hippest (Instagram) for a cool $1 billion, the cries of more lost “privacy” commandeered online conversations. Twitter was the go-to guy to let your followers know what you thought of the deal.

This is not a post about existing privacy settings, changes that may (or may not) take place on Instagram now that it’s part of Facebook or Facebook’s well-known “tweaks” to its privacy settings when they think you’re not looking. This is a post about posting things online and common sense. If you think you’ve heard it all before, click here to read something more interesting. If not, here are three tips to help you understand (or, “get over”) this “invasion of privacy thing”.

1. The idea of social networks is sharing to keep connected online. You may not want to share everything you do with everybody you know. That’s why there are different types of social networks that provide different ways to share with different people identified as “friends”, “followers”, “circles”, etc. Obviously, for those who had recently left Facebook, or use it less, and have turned to Instagram for what they thought was a less invasive, more visual way to interact more anonymously, the Facebook buys Instagram deal is unsettling, but….

2. Don’t use any social network with privacy settings you can’t comfortably control to share photos, updates, thoughts or links. It’s simple, kids. Think. I know right now you want to post how much in love you are with your current girlfriend (and why), that your boss is an a-hole and photos that you think are going to gain you fame, fortune and thousands of “likes”. But think for 5 seconds before you post. Ask yourself how important it is for you to share this particular moment in time. If you are 22, pretend for an instant you are 32. If you are 52, pretend you are dead. When you post to social networks (no matter how “protected” you think you are) there is probably a way around its privacy settings for the very determined to access your information.

Consider for 5 more seconds, though, this short-attention span thing. It works both ways. You may think there is an army (or one person) out there who will go to great lengths to access your online information. Think again. That army (or person) probably won’t have the bandwidth – or the savvy – to dig for days to uncover and unlock your Instagram account.

3. Consider something more intimate. A private Tumblr or Blogger blog, perhaps? Both of these are easy, fun and free ways to create an online timeline, diary or collection of photos, videos, personal opinions – rantings, ravings or rumblings. You can use these so-called “online tools” from the privacy of your desktop, laptop or mobile device to post whatever the heck you want. You can keep access to this site 100% private (i.e., for those who are unfamiliar with that concept or perhaps have forgotten about it, it means no one knows about this site but you). Or, you can give select friends, family and colleagues access via a private link (warning: slippery slope ahead).

Bottom line? Even if you password protect this private online site; even if you don’t tell a soul about it, of course, it can be compromised. Do you remember keeping a journal? Writing in a notebook and stashing it somewhere in your bedroom where you thought your mom or your siblings could never find it? Guess what? They did. Same could probably happen with your super-duper, password protected, firewalled within an inch of its being extremely personal and confidential blog. It might not be mom who finds your innermost thoughts. It might be a potential employer or that WikiLeaks guy or one of the Murdochs. But if you’re that worried about it, simply “never put anything in writing” (or in more current terms, “never press the share, publish of upload button”).

Obviously, lots more common sense can be added to these three tips to locking down your online accounts. The very private among us will always feel compromised when it comes to how much to share, when and where. They will argue that it’s not fair that they can’t post that great sunrise photo they just took on Instagram because somebody they went to high school with 20 years ago, worked with 10 years ago, or met randomly 5 minutes ago might see it. If that’s the case, you’ve got to let go of Instagram (or Facebook or Twitter or Insert Social Network not named – or not yet invented – here). The concept of social networking is really not for you. You can’t have your free cake and expect CIA-level security with it, too.

April Fools: What People Are Talking About Online This Week, April 1-6

After some of the tough online conversations we seemed to be having this year, this week was like a breath of fresh spring April air. Maybe it had something to do with April Fool’s Day, but the topics swirling online this week were decidedly lighter than they’ve been in awhile. And that’s a welcome change.

Exhibit A is this “bad ass” photo of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, rocking a a Blackberry like no one else can and apparently texting behind some designer shades. The photo went viral early in the week, and by Thursday had spawned this totally hawt Tumblr, “Texts from Hillary”. Wouldn’t you like to be on the receiving end of one of these? Or maybe you wouldn’t. Hil calls out the Prez, Sarah Palin, Condi Rice, Colin Powell, Anthony Weiner, hubby Bill and even Oprah. In spite of those snarks, I think you’ll sleep better tonight knowing Madame Secretary is busy “running the world.”

Instagram, the super-popular iPhone app that turns any picture into one almost as cool as Hillary Clinton sending a text in shades, released a version for Android devices. iPhone fans didn’t like all the the “inferior” camera phones now allowed in their playground. A mini-Twitter war erupted over whether the iPhone was the king of all smartphones or not. A dustup that CNNTech dismissed as a “first world problem” if ever there was one.

Jeremy Lin, New York Knicks basketball one-hit wonder, was back in the news this week. After taking basketball fans by storm earlier this year with some amazing antics on the court, the point guard needed knee surgery. He held an online Facebook chat with fans just hours after the anesthesia wore off, but needed to take a break during the chat to throw up. Will this be how “Linsanity” ends?

In other light news:

We hope you’re week stayed on the lighter side, too. Catch up on these online stories and more at KazzaDrask’s Online Media Roundup. It’s not too late to join the conversation.

Instagram for Android, There Goes the Neighborhood


True confession. I love Instagram! I’ve been using it for more than a year and have posted nearly 150 photos, first with my trusty old iPhone 3G and now with my constant companion the iPhone 4S. Follow me at @ktdrasky. I promise – only limited photos of my cat and home-cooked meals.

As an iPhone user, I guess it was mostly lost on me in the beginning that the Instagram app was only available for Apple products. We iPeople do tend to live in our own world sometimes, a neighborhood, if you will, one described this week as “a gated community“. It’s a precious place where only the artistic and creative (and those who appreciate them) tend to flock and espouse that technology can have “taste”, as our late guru Steve Jobs insisted upon.

I don’t know much about Android products, even though my partner uses them (and therefore doesn’t even know what an “Instagram” is). When she hands me her Samsung phone while driving and asks me answer a call or read the directions, the object is so foreign in my hands, so, um…distasteful, that I invariably cut off the caller or lose the Google map. She equates this with left brain/right brain thinking. Left brainers handle logic and information In fact, they downright “get it” on the first pass. Right brainers think conceptually. We’re ruled by artistry, empathy and emotion. Which no doubt leads to increased purchases of iPhones and downloading the Instagram app.

This week the Android masses, the left brainers, are being allowed into the iPeople playground. Instagram is now available for Android products. And the backlash has begun with digs on Twitter that the gated community has turned into a “Section 8” housing project.

According to CNNTech,  “More than 1 million Android users downloaded the [Instagram] app in the first 24 hours.” And for many of us who have had Instagram all to ourselves, that’s an overwhelming influx of new users who may not get the unwritten rules of Instagram-land. These include uploading only your best photos and doing that incrementally. No matter how great your shots were from that road trip last week, please don’t add all 127 photos at once. Save that hooligan-type behavior for Facebook.

My response to the trampling of my gated community has been twofold. I haven’t followed anyone new yet this week, and I’ve told my partner that she can now download Instagram for her Samsung. She didn’t seem even remotely interested.

Sources: CNNTech, “iPhone Snobbery Greets Instagram’s Android App” by Doug Gross and ReadWriteWeb,“6 Effective Ways to Get More Instagram Followers” by John Paul Titlow.

Nirvana for Freelancers: The One Thing at a Time Mantra

A well-written piece on time management and the evils of multi-tasking has been making the rounds online and through various social network channels, in particular nearly every group you belong to on LinkedIn. It’s called “The Magic of Doing One Thing at a Time” by Tony Schwartz of The Energy Project.

If you’ve read this far before clicking to something else, you’ve got a pretty good sense of what this is about. As Schwartz points out, technology has turned us into a bunch of hyper-wired, multi-tasking mutants who check email during meetings, eat meals over our laptops and text while driving (even though we know we shouldn’t) . The ability to be connected all the time has eliminated “stopping points, finish lines and boundaries…..Wherever we go, our work follows us, on our digital devices, ever insistent and intrusive.”

A popular fix for this, also making those weekly LinkedIn tips, is to do your work in 60- to 90-minute increments. The theory goes that we are only able to focus that long on any one project anyway, so to maximize production we should disconnect from all intrusions (both real, like someone at your door and imagined, like you have a more interesting email somewhere). I’ve personally been practicing this one and have seen some improvement not only in a sense of finishing something but also in less time spent with my chiropractor, who was preaching the “get up and move around” every hour theory long before Facebook came on the scene and became my preferred mid-morning and late-afternoon snack, eliminating even getting up and heading to the refrigerator for this long-time self-employed freelancer.

A quick glance at the most recent comments on the “The Magic of Doing One Thing at a Time” piece shows a bit of a corporate backlash against some of Schwartz’s tips, like doing the most important thing on your list first thing in the morning and establishing regular, scheduled times to think more long term, creatively, or strategically. Apparently bosses get in the way of this. Another tip is to take real and regular vacations. Probably somewhat easier when that’s a paid perk, something I’ve experienced a total of once since 1989.

But whether we’re able to sit cross-legged on the home office floor and be one with our creative and strategic thinking or have to take a paid personal day every now and then to achieve — for now, the writing of pieces like the one by Tony Schwartz is on the wall. The hyper-connected workforce, both independent and otherwise drawing a paycheck must begin to establish the habit of doing one thing at a time in incremental blocks of time. Or else….

Source: Harvard Business Review: “The Magic of Doing One Thing at a Time,” by Tony Schwartz.