Congratulations, Ottawa, for the Quiet Respect


“So very sad.  My heart breaks for the family, friends, and colleagues touched by today’s tragedy.” 22 October 2014

This status came up on my Facebook feed reminding me of what happened two years ago in Ottawa.  The moment I heard that a ceremonial guard had been shot, my heart raced, hoping it wasn’t a young friend of mine who was on duty that morning.

What a difference eight minutes makes.  It wasn’t her.

Of course, social media was buzzing with live updates through Twitter and chatter on Facebook, some of us looking for family confirmation that she was safe.

I learned that all the messages of love she received were heart-warming at first, but eventually, it was overwhelming and she stepped away from social media.  Many people experienced the shock that day and all of them had to process the information and move forward.  Having the whole scene revisited by the social media junkies kept the adrenalin pumping.

This keeping images and conversations going on for so long is not natural.  Humans need time to come down from a terrifying incident.  It doesn’t mean that we sweep it under the carpet, just that we learn to find that fine line between satisfying the need to know and fueling the sensationalism.  We need to know when to step back, as my friend so wisely did.

When the memory message popped up, I thought about sharing it.  I wanted to respect the day and those who were affected.  I wasn’t sure what the right thing to do was, but my gut was telling me not to share.

I watched my feed throughout the day.  The family members changed their profile pictures without adding words.  I liked each one as my way of letting them know I was thinking of them.  Other people had also changed their profiles, with no words attached.  No replies.  No discussion.  Just acknowledgement.

I felt proud of my Facebook friends for not sensationalizing the day and for their quiet respect.

Sometimes, the silence says it all.

Can You Write the BEST Status Update in the Class?

My headline got a 77!  Read on and then beat my score!

Do Facebook status updates pop into your head throughout the day?

At 6:30 am, this status came out of thin (wet) air:  Max may be blind, but he doesn’t care about the rain, so long as he is getting his walk.   fbstatus

I laughed at myself.  I would never post this, but we all know people who think we are waiting to hear about their mundane life story in real time.

Having just read all about monitoring social media and watched every TED talk the search engines found for me, I got to thinking about what makes a good status update.  My “friends” keep telling me how much they enjoy mine, but I had never considered what distinguished them from the eye rollers.

My Personal Status Strategy

  • 1 – 2 updates a day. The friends I enjoy are not on Facebook hourly, so posting more would diminish the value of most messages because they would resort to skimming rather than stopping to see what shenanigans I am writing about.
  • 1 repost a day – but making sure I put my own thoughts on the repost.
  • No preaching to the choir.
  • No personal angst.
  • Careful wording – making the mundane interesting.
  • Using humour as much as possible.

What the Experts Advise

For branding status strategies, I did some research on pumping up the wording to optimize hits, shares, and conversions.  I was amazed at all the teaching tools out there!

The Anatomy of a Successful Facebook Post was a good scan, but Social Media Examiner’s 6 Tips to Improve Facebook Posts was more eye-opening.  I must have had the post open for over an hour as I went back and forth between the article and its embedded links to other sites.

I got rather competitive with myself when I got to the Headline Analyzer.  You put in a headline/status update and then find out your score.  Using the feedback, keep tweaking until you get a good score.  I am determined to break 77!

Feedback from the Headline Analyzer

  • How to strengthen the headline.
  • What the linguistic weaknesses of the headline are.
  • What the headline would look like in a Google Search.
  • What it would look like as an email subject line.
  • What the reader sees when he or she skims through the title.
  • What they give you as a numerical score.

My First Attempt On Headline Analyzer


The Trap

In trying to up my score, I strayed terribly from the actual subject.  These tools will give us tips, but I am loathe to let them have the final say in anything I write.

It is, however, a useful exercise!

Your Mission, Should You Choose to Accept It: 

Write the Best Status in the Class!

  1. Play with the Headline Analyzer to try and get the highest score.
  2. In the comments, post your status and the score you got!
  3. The winner gets bragging rights!




Eavesdropping and Conversation Hopping — Just Like Online Discussions

The best seat at the Thanksgiving dinner is right in the middle.

Once the hosts settle down at the table and twenty of us raise a glass to the farmers, the chatter begins.   Because several conversations ebb and flow throughout the dinner, being in the middle lets me jump into the discussions on either side and eavesdrop on the ones further down the table on both sides.  It seems everyone but the very old and the very shy actively participate — except at dessert when everyone’s mouths are full at the same time.

But what if nobody talked? 

What if everyone said one thing and nobody used any of the openers as cues for discussion?  And then suddenly at dessert, everyone starts talking as quickly as they can in order to be able to say that they had conversation at dinner? But the conversation is forced and restricted by time.dinner 2.jpg

Have you ever had an online discussion that felt like everyone was doing their duty, rather than benefiting from a real discussion?  I pondered this issue and realized that when this happens, it is because of a self-imposed time restriction.  The forum may be open for eight days; then suddenly, in a panic, we log on and start typing so that we meet our obligation.

Have you ever made one of these moves?

Click on post #1.  I don’t have time to figure out what the writer means.

Click on post #2.  Skim. Skim. Skim.  This is way too long and rambling.  Too much to respond to other than, “Thanks for the interesting read.”

Click on post #3.  HAHAHAHA.   Engage in quick repartee. Google an appropriate meme.

Click on post #4.  WOW!  Great point.  I have already thought about this from a different perspective.  It won’t take me long to write an intelligent response… and fulfill one of my obligations to the discussion.

Click on post #5.  Hmm.  I think this is the same point as post #2, but more succinct.  Ok, time is running out.  I had better respond. Quick, google the topic for something interesting to add.

… and the forum closes.  Phew. I posted.  I responded.  But…

  • Did I digest other people’s ideas?
  • Was I able to examine my ideas by thinking about the responses to my initial posting?
  • Did I really milk the opportunity to learn and help others learn?


What if we took our time with the conversations and really heard everyone?

A fabulous online asymmetrical discussion is similar to a large dynamic dinner party.

Several conversations organically evolve from a single post to an engaging exchange of ideas.  Some threads stop after a couple of posts while others take on a life of their own.

Conversation Hopping

At Thanksgiving, you can’t really join the conversation at the end of the table, but online, you can hop into as many as you like.


Oh the joy of participating in a couple of discussions, but keeping an eye on others in progress… without appearing rude.


Imagine eavesdropping on 100% of the discussions, rather than contributing to the chatter.


Initiating and engaging in discussions over several days will consume a similar amount of time as cramming in an afternoon of postings; it will just be less stressful and more valuable.

My Fantasy Forum Timeline

Is this yours, too?


Draft an initial posting before the forum opens.


Post your initial posting soon after the discussion opens.


 Sit back and read without responding – unless something really strikes a chord and has you excited to respond. Take a couple of days to digest everyone’s initial ideas.


Choose a couple of threads to respond to and compose thoughtful responses. Read them through before hitting SUBMIT.


comments.pngWatch conversations, contributing to those that interest you rather than simply for the sake of saying something.

You have time to “meet the requirements”.


Each day, go back and see where the conversations are going, contributing succinct responses when appropriate.

Wrap it Up

On the second last day, think about the overarching ideas of the whole forum.  How would you summarize the ideas?

What is YOUR vision of a great online discussion?


50 Somethings, Second Wind


A friend and I found ourselves in our 50’s, single, working more than one job each, respected in our professions, and wondering how we were going to retire.  It became blatantly obvious that although we do use technology, increasing our skill levels had to happen.

 The Happiest 50 Somethings, the Busiest by Choice

Judith and I have decided to pool our resources – financial, intellectual, ethical, and professional – to start a business together, and enhance our lifestyle.  We have many role models:

  • Consultants who hone their skills, then sell those skills to high paying employers.
  • Retirees who have the will and drive to make a difference locally, volunteering or for extra income.
  • Part time employees, who seek a balance of needed income and meaningful projects.

Striking out on our own feels like a natural progression by optimizing our professional skills.

The Psychological Wall

Our combined experiences, along with a continuing enthusiasm for work, and a wealth of information at our fingertips make this all seem possible.  Being more flexible with where we work – at home or traipsing around the world – appeals greatly.  This ability to work from home means that one stream of income will be 100% digital and the other two streams will rely on social media to draw clients.

This is where the 50-somethings can easily hit a wall.  It seems that we have spent a lifetime mastering skills that soon become antiquated.  After a while, we both started waiting out the technology until we really couldn’t wait much longer.  This way, we got to skip a couple of generations and not clog up the minds with soon-to-be-useless technology.  Take the phone, for example.  The smartphone – iphone came on the market and we gave it all a pass while they worked out the bugs as our own flip phones were working just fine.  When they died, we bought second hand iPhones and didn’t bother with data. Until we needed it.



Now that the businesses are starting, we have to figure out social media beyond the platforms we already use for work and family. All I can say is thank God we have 20-somethings who come to dinner and do their laundry.  Apparently, we bred some resources.


Enquiring minds want to know…

If you are a 50 something…

Have you deliberately taken your career on a different route? Or are you thinking about a change?

Have you embraced the digital world because you want to steer your career or are you already immersed in social media and figure, “what the heck, I might as well see if I can parlay this into a side income”?

If you are a younger professional…

What do you admire in “experienced” professionals?

What drives you nuts about your elders online? (Kinda glad my daughters aren’t commenting on this blog.)



Sixty and Me



Social Media: The Benevolant Borg

If you identify as a Trekkie, has the whole concept of no money and self-cleaning homes led to fantasies of living aboard the Enterprise?  For the past quarter century, I couldn’t get my head around either of these concepts:  how could earthlings could ever evolve and develop this Utopian society.


A Thriving Cashless Society



Enter a caption

Gene Rodenberry, the creator of Star Trek, envisioned a post scarcity economy where there was no money.  As everyone had all the necessities of life, people worked for personal development, allowing their curiosity to fuel their activities.

Although we all still have to work, perhaps social media has sparked an economic and social shift in how we drive our society.

We have moved from:

  • Building Monster Homes to building Tiny Homes
  • Buying tools to sharing tools through the library
  • Funding through banks to crowd funding
  • Buying clothes to swapping clothes
  • Disposing stuff at Value Village to trading stuff on Bunz
  • Buying a single family dwelling to cohousing
  • Calling an expert to solve a problem to consulting the Internet for solutions
  • Competing to succeed to successful collaborating


Social Media Nurtures Our Confidence in New Ideas


Currency is a faith-based concept that allows us to place a value on a commodity.  Social media has created the tipping point where money is now a currency of choice, but not the only option.

Anyone can have an idea, float it out there for discussion, find like-minded and multi-talented collaborators, and quickly transform their idea into a project.  For ideas to take flight, they no longer need companies or governments.  They need moral support, followed by action; the moral support is akin to faith-based currency.

When I make a trade with someone on Bunz, I believe that the trade is fair and the other person won’t just show up and rob me.  My faith is based on watching others make their trades successfully; the moment I got a sofa in exchange for soil, I was hooked.

When I donate my candle making equipment to the tool library, I believe that I can come and borrow it the next time I really need it because I believe that the people running the library won’t rob me blind.

Why do I have faith that they are truly librarians?

  • On social media, I saw the idea of community tools discussed.
  • I participated in the discussions.
  • I saw a core group trying to figure out how to make it so, asking the hive for practical help.
  • I donated to the crowd-funding for the library because I had knowledge of the concept and the people driving it forward. I had never met them face-to-face, but the online conversations gave me confidence in them.
  • I boosted the signal in my own network by reposting articles and posting my own thoughts.

And now, I am loving the idea of minimalist living – but I still want to be able to make candles without paying for real estate to store the equipment. And I still can’t figure out self-cleaning homes.


Have You Joined the Cashless Economy?

borg “In an ideal world” used to be accompanied by a sigh of resignation.  Now, discussions on various social media platforms are moving us towards an ideal world by tapping into the hive mind which exponentially increases our collective knowledge, perhaps the most lucrative currency today.


Has social media given you confidence in a new idea?

What alternatives to money have you used?


The Reading List



Parlours, Pubs, and Clubs (Blog 1 Comm0011)

In 1970, I watched my parents pouring over bed and breakfast information the travel agent had given them.   We needed accommodation in England, Scotland, and Wales in August.  B and B’s were just getting started at that time, so there were only a couple of pamphlets for each location.  They chose the ones that had the pretty pictures as the prices were all fairly competitive.

The agency controlled the options and then directly contacted the businesses by snail mail to book the rooms.  My parents had no communication at all with the innkeepers and they had to rely on the agent’s biased opinion on the quality of the rooms and breakfasts.

In 2017, a friend and I will have a large, old multiplex in central Ottawa where we will not only co-house, but also run a bed and breakfast with some corporate housing and perhaps, foreign student housing.  Despite all the competition, the specialized housing market is expected to boom over the next few years.  Moreover, next summer will be a bumper year, with the 2017 celebrations.


A Building on the Short List

How can we use social media to fill our rooms?

What has changed since 1970 is the fluidity of communication.  Whereas ads and newspaper articles were written for an audience, that audience would passively receive the information: a monologue of sorts.  That information could then be taken to the parlour, the pub, or the club and be discussed amongst those present, but rarely directly with the author or with people who were not part of the social circle of the group.

In 2017, digital media has enabled information to travel faster and be developed in a non-linear direction just as the invention of the wheel fundamentally removed the most significant barrier to travelling.

If I were looking for a Bed and Breakfast, I would start by posting to my Facebook, asking my friends for recommendations.  Then, I would do a Google search and play “Follow the Links” until I found one that caught my eye.  Finally, I would read reviews and check out the location.  My kids would roll their eyes and then use Pinterest and Instagram to add to my pool. When I book, I would expect an email back directly from the hosts, confirming my booking and perhaps asking me what I like for breakfast.  When I used Air BnB this summer, I was glad to text a little with the owner before my arrival; I liked the human touch.

Judith and I have been active in environmental initiatives, particularly living lightly, for 30 years.  Our goal is to have the most eco, old residence possible.  Basically, Pinterest is going to come alive!  Each guest will be able to use their “Swiss Army Knife” room as a bedroom, a social room, or an office simply by using, for example, the murphy bed-desk and the sofa with storage.


A Murphy Wall Bed-Desk

Perhaps our social media would be effective if we engaged people interested in small spaces and living lightly in the brainstorming.  We could throw out our ideas and ask for input.  By providing exposure about the process, giving credit for the ideas, and making it easy to reach us, our social media strategy might create a buzz about the project.  When potential clients search for a roof over their heads, perhaps our place would jump out a them.  While they are there and after they leave, they can join in the conversation.

We would also have to genuinely engage in online communication with other groups, too.  I have recently learned that there is a community of BnB owners in the downtown core.  When one is full, they refer to other places in the community.  The owners who fear other BnBs as competition seem to have less business.  The collaborative process seems to work for everyone.  We have already had two well-known BnB’s enthusiastically offer to help us out – especially next summer.  They communicate with each other primarily through text, messenger, and email.  And meetings at local pubs.

At the moment, we have no social media strategy.  We know that the infrastructure of a successful strategy lies in many different platforms leading to conversion but it is the genuine content and the human interaction that will lead to paying customers.

Moving from the parlor, to the pub, to the club, and now to the blog, I would be very interested in your ideas on how social media can meet the needs of our business, our customers, and our community!

If I pour myself a drink while engaging in conversation on this blog, does that make this a “blug”? Perhaps, since this is more like a club –a “blub”?