COM0014 – Blog #2 Tell me a story

Everyone is a storyteller; I bet you told at least one today already. Some of us tell our stories face to face, while others put them in print and still others share them digitally.

A good storyteller gets the same reaction from their audience no matter the medium. But sometimes a story benefits from gestures and actions to enhance the narrative. These people also eliminate distractions created by going off on tangents, using improper grammar and making incorrect references.

My favourite storytellers chose their words in such a way that help me to form pictures in my mind. I really enjoyed reading Kathryn Stockett’s book The Help and was anxious to see the movie adaptation. What I imagined through her written words was surprisingly similar to what was depicted on the screen.

In my recent blog post What I did on my summer staycationI mentioned seeing a performance of The Four Tellers, where storytelling takes center stage. This popular form of entertainment recounts generally humorous stories of locals and events. In order to preserve the integrity of the stories, the ‘tellers’ use raw details which typically flies in the face of proper grammar and references, and which only adds to the humor.

Do you have a favorite storyteller or do you tell stories yourself? In this short YouTube video, one of my favorite storytellers (and lawyer by day) Gary Evans recounts a story of some well known Prince Edward Island locals. Please take a watch, I hope you enjoy.

COM0014 – Blog #1: What I did on my summer staycation

After a very long and horrible Prince Edward Island winter, I was looking forward to a nice, warm (ok hot) and sunny summer. It took a little bit to get here but once it did, it really was great.

While I like to travel away to other places, it takes a lot for me to leave my home province in the summer. Prince Edward Island regularly serves up great entertainment, food and beaches and I took all of that in.

I am a beach person and spent time at my favorite spots, as well as some places that I get to see less frequently.   From West Point to Basin Head and with a good mix of PEI’s North Shore in between, I got to enjoy the sun and the sand fairly frequently this summer.

Ross Lane Beach

Ross Lane Beach

Living on an island means there is an abundance of coast line and much of it can be appreciated as beach space. My go to spot is Ross Lane Beach, which is part of the Prince Edward Island National Park. Located a short drive from Charlottetown, on PEI’s north shore, this is a quiet little beach with parking, sand and proximity to friends’ cottages.  I took this picture around supper time after the surf guards had finished for the day.  It was too nice a day for me to go home.

When I have a little more time I enjoy spending time at Basin Head Provincial Park. Situated in the eastern part of the province, the beach and surroundings make for a great day trip from Charlottetown or other parts of the province. Named Canada’s number one beach by Vacay.ca in 2013, this surf guard supervised location is known for its ‘singing sands’.   The sand squeaks when you walk in it – take a listen to it here in my short video – apologies in advance for the voice over by my friend trying to tell me a story.

So when I wasn’t busy soaking up the sun and the sand, I spent some time enjoying some other things PEI has to offer – the food and entertainment.

About half way between Charlottetown and the Confederation Bridge (PEI’s fixed span link to New Brunswick) you will find the community of Victoria-by-the-Sea. Known for its little shops and theater, ‘Victoria’ also is home to a few nice places to eat including the Lobster Barn Pub and Eatery. It serves LOTS of local flavours and has become one of my favorite spots!

I also had the chance to take in one of PEI’s local favorite pastimes – story telling. The Four Tellers was staged at the King’s Playhouse and ran to sold out crowds Monday evenings throughout the summer. This popular source of entertainment, generally humourous, included stories of local characters from the past and present and sometimes most often embellished.

Have you had the chance to visit PEI? What was the favourite part of your trip??

 

New Opportunity Seeks New Look – Blog Post #6

On Monday, April 20th I will be starting a new job! My new role will see me moving into a new office and I would like it be an inviting space to meet with client and colleagues.

I don’t know much about the space I will be occupying other than it will be an office with a door, so I know I will have walls. This article from allbusiness.com provides a few tips to consider to help me plan.office picture

 

Make First Impressions Count – In my new role, I will be a consultant to local entrepreneurs and other business people. There won’t be much first impressionfreedom in the design but I look forward to having an office space that people enjoy spending time in.

Add a Splash of Color – It is not likely that there will be an opportunity for a change of color scheme but I hope to add some interest with decorative accents.

Look for Cost-Effective Office Furniture Alternatives – My new space will be pre-furnished so I will work with what I am provided.

clutterDeclare War on Office Clutter – I have fallen victim to clutter in the past but have managed to keep things sorted out when ‘company’ comes to visit. My new role will see more frequent visitors and therefore I will need to keep things in better order.

 

Plan to Win the Office Space Race – Having been in my current role for almost six years, I am pretty used to where everything is and where things go. I am sure it won’t take too long to get in the groove in my new spot.

Put Yourself into a Position of Power – There is likely not much opportunity to change things around in my new space but I do hope to make the most of what I am given.

Connect with the Local Arts Community – I look forward to having some art in my new space and while I may not have the luxury of an original mural I do hope to have something interesting on my walls.

Don’t Overlook Ergonomic Issues – My employer is known for promoting a healthy working environment, so I look forward to my new desk and chair.

A View to a Thrill – I think most people hope for a window with a decent view, but even if I don’t have something to look at I know I have something to look forward too – a great new opportunity with room to grow!

Whenever I think of new office spaces this episode from WKRP always seems to comes up.  While I don’t know exactly what my new space will look like, I know I won’t need to borrow any of Les Nessman’s tape.

 

If you build it they will come

A couple of weekends ago, a friend and I took a drive to the eastern part of Prince Edwsignard Island to take in an open house at the Great Enlightenment Buddhist Institute Society‘s (GEBIS) newest campus.

In 2009, a former Montague lobster supper and motel property was up for sale. Previously the home of traditional east coast hospitality, the real estate was purchased and renovated to become the province’s first Buddhist retreat. Construction on a new campus in Little Sands, not far from the original location, began in 2011. This new campus is home to between 80 and 100 monks and nuns, and regularly hosts people from around the world at its meditation programs.

The open house provided insight into daily monastic life and included a tour of the dormitories, displays of traditional works including art and sculptures (made of butter), a guided tour of the prayer hall by the resident monks and nuns, followed by lunch in the dining hall.

small rose

Rosettes sculpted in butter.

The hosts went out of their way to make guests feel welcome and the tour made for a great day in an otherwise bleak winter. For a province with traditionally Christian practices, this event provided a great opportunity to learn more about people who have become part of our Island community.

Lighthouse made of cookies.

Lighthouse made of cookies.

To learn more about the GEBIS check it out online or Twitter @GEBIS_Canada.

Six seconds to fame

According to the Oxford Dictionary of Current English…

Vine. n. A climbing plant, especially one that produces grapes. The thin stem of a climbing plant. Origin Latin vinea ‘vineyard, vine’.

Until about a year ago this was my definition too, until I saw my first Vine video. These six second-or-less shorts are created on a smartphone using the Vine app and run on a continuous loop.

When I first saw these short videos I wondered who would watch them other than the creators, or maybe their friends and family. I had no idea that they would prove popular enough that businesses would use them as a means of promoting their products. Consider Ben Phillips, who has made up to a reported £12,000 per vine – yes that’s £2,000 per second or $3,646 CDN (at an exchange of approximately $1.82) per second!!!  Furthermore, think about the fact that his account was reportedly hacked and his content deleted.

For the most part, watching Vine videos make me dizzy, or did until I discovered those made by Zach King. King incorporates illusions into his videos, most of which I need to watch over and over just to understand what I am seeing – or not. It’s really quite amazing when you think what he is able to include in a matter of six seconds.  Check out more on him near the end of this post.

As I continue to learn more about Vine videos, I offer and make short introductory comments on Six Things You Didn’t Know About Twitter’s Vine App according to CNBC’s Eli Langer:

The early bird gets the worm…or Vine.

1. Vine, Twitter’s video-sharing application, can be found online at Vine.co. When shared in a tweet, all clips post to Vine live at Vine.co, instead of Vine.com. Why? The latter domain name belongs to Amazon. Before Twitter acquired the Vine app, a source tells me Vine co-founder Dom Hofmann inquired about the Vine.com domain. The price tag? $500,000. Hoffman balked and purchased Vine.co, making way for Amazon’s Quidsi network, which features category-specific retail sites, to purchase the Vine.com domain. Vine (the video app company) didn’t respond when asked for comment.

Interestingly, according to web analytics site Alexa, traffic to Vine.com spiked upward in 2013, the same month Twitter introduced Vine (and Vine.co) to the world. Vine.com would not say whether an uptick in visitors results in increased sales.

The Twitter account managed by the team at Vine is @vineapp, since @vine is taken by a user who checks into the social network intermittently. Vine owns VineApp.com, which directs visitors to the same homepage as Vine.co.

A rose by any other name.

2. Why was the app named Vine? A source says it’s short for Vignette, which is defined as “a short impressionistic scene.” Vignette is also the name of a photo filter offered by the signature Twitter app.

Anything you can do, I can do better.

3. Vine limits its videos to six seconds, but Twitter user Will Smidlein recently figured out how to upload a three-minute music video to a single Vine clip. On the same day Twitter released Vine on Android, Smidlein, also known as @ws on the micro-blogging site, exploited a hole in the video app‘s coding that allowed him to share the ever-viral “Rickroll” YouTube video in its entirety. The bug was later patched, but not before Smidlein says he “ruined some poor engineer’s day.”

Do you see what I see? (and possibly my most favourite of this list)*v_lrg_green

4. Vine’s logo connects the “V” and “I” in its name in the same way a vine loops and wraps itself around a tree. Even cooler, if you turn the Vine logo upside down, it displays the number of seconds your mini-video can be-“6.”

If you only had six seconds.

5. Dorsey loves taking Vine selfies with his iPhone’s front-facing camera. The tech guru, who one day hopes to be the mayor of New York, has posted dozens of Vines standing in front of various landmarks across the world. Recently, he scaled a San Francisco bridge to take an epic vine that would make even Godzilla jealous.

Six seconds you will never get back.

6. The Vine with the most likes belongs to actor and comedian Will Sasso. The clip, where Sasso attempts to sing but ends up spitting a whole lemon from his mouth, has more than 440,000 likes and has been tweeted nearly 29,000 times. Go Internet!

*I did not display the logo upside down in order to comply with brand guidelines.

As mentioned earlier, I have been really amazed and entertained by Zach King’s Vine videos. Check some out for yourself in Zach King’s Best Vine Compilation 2015.

Do you use the Vine app? Will you??

Bubble bubble toil and trouble

The first time I saw online advertising that related to one of my recent web searches I thought it was interesting that technology made this happen.  I also thought it was kind of creepy.

Last week I came across a TED Talk in which Eli Pariser discusses how our online behaviour has the potential to impact web searches and social media feeds through ‘filter bubbles’.

wordmaze

According to Technopedia, a filter bubble

“is the intellectual isolation that can occur when websites make use of algorithms to of selectively assume the information a user would want to see, and then give information to the user according to this assumption.”

The assumptions are made based on previous behaviors, what you ‘like’, browsing history, search history and where searches take place can impact your future search results and feeds. Algorithms (mathematical codes) are used to serve up the answers to search requests and the feeds in social media platforms.

As an evidence based researcher I want to be able to access all of the information when I search for it, not just what a bot wants to serve up to me.  The following video suggests a couple of ways to ‘burst’ the filter bubble including:

  • using search engines like DuckDuckGo, with no track policies that help to ensure everyone sees the same results,Bubble
  • switching from Facebook to Twitter, as it shows every update in your feed no matter the content,
  • enabling privacy settings on search engines.

What about you? Have you noticed a difference in your search results or Facebook feed? Have filter bubbles changed what you see?

One Tweet Wonder-er

A few years ago, a friend suggested that I start using Twitter. @heloros appeared with a little egg for a profile photo until about a year ago when I put up one of myself and I took the big step last spring of issuing a tweet. That’s right, I am a one-tweet-wonder.

Facebook is more my thing and seems to meet my needs. I guess the real reason for my lack of interest in Twitter is as the result of not understanding enough about how it works and can be used.

“A little knowledge is a dangerous thing, but a little want of knowledge is also a dangerous thing.” Samuel Butler

Fortunately, what I may lack in knowledge I make up for in curiosity and am interesting in getting a better understanding of different social media platforms. On February 15, 2015, necessity became the mother of invention and I found out how useful Twitter could be.

snow st. peter's roadAnother snowstorm started that day, which left Prince Edward Island with 86.8 cm before it was all over. The significant snowfall combined with sustained winds in excess of 150km/hr resulted in reduced visibility, power outages, cancellation of flights and the closure of the Confederation Bridge. This picture was taken during that storm on a main road just outside Charlottetown and gives a good sense of what things looked like during the storm.

 

 

 

In times like this access to information in real time can be very important and among the millions of Twitter users is @RCMPPEITraffic.

The members of the RCMP who operate this account provide practical information in real time and often mix in a little humor. They don’t tweet just about weather but I did appreciate these…

They also issue some general safety messages and some keep the humor theme…

After reviewing the ‘getting started’ content on Twitter’s support page it appears I am well on my way to moving past my novice status and am likely ready to make a second tweet soon! I have Discovered Sources, Checked Your (my) Timeline, and (I can) Take It With You (me). Now Continue reading

Getting to know you…Getting to know ALL about YOU!

Personal privacy is something most people have thought about at one time or another. Growing up this meant ensuring the lock on my diary was secured and the key safely stored. In today’s environment keeping things secure ranges from proper disposal of paper correspondence and records, to taking care of my presence online.

privacy keyWhat people are prepared to share online is as individual as their profiles. Like many, I am concerned about my presence and appropriate ‘sharing’ online. Increasingly we see the impact of what we share or do online, as well as how easy it is to learn about people with a few keystrokes. Consider the reactions of the people in this BuzzFeed video when they are confronted with details that have been learned about them after a little bit of online research.

Even if you do what you think is best to keep your online identity in check, Neil J. Rubenking’s February 2014 PC Mag article recommends reviewing your settings from time to time to confirm that they are still applicable. However, not all the information learned about us is as the result of our conscious sharing.

In her article “All Eyes on You”, Jennifer Golbeck, PhD. details the types and ways information is collected about us, often without our knowledge. In doing so, these ‘back-end’ processes learn more about us than we may appreciate. When you think about it, collecting personal data isn’t really all that new. Did you shop in a store this week? Most if not all bricks and mortar retail outlets monitor and record customers through close circuit video surveillance and regularly track habits and interests through purchasing preferences. But what about our online behaviour?   In her 2013 TED Talk, Golbeck explains how our actions in digital spaces are used to help determine things about us and in some ways predict what we do in the future. Big brother doesn’t appear to ever really sleep.

privacy cartoon

Increasingly we are learning how what we considered some randomly posted information is now available for all to see, read, infer and share. From the retweeting of personal photographs to closed communities on Facebook, the general public is learning a lot more about others than they might have ever been interested. The internet is a VERY public space and one where keeping things private means keeping them to yourself, or as Goldbeck suggests we can choose to just “get over it”.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YLWmjpPoJHk

http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2453770,00.asp

https://www.psychologytoday.com/articles/201408/all-eyes-you

https://www.ted.com/speakers/jennifer_golbeck