COM0014 Blog 2 Storytelling


Storytime. Some words are more than the sum of their letters. When you read them or hear them, a feeling washes over you. Storytime is one of those words for me.

It embraces me with warmth and comfort, bringing a smile to my face.

It instantly brings memories of sitting on my Mother’s knee hearing her hypnotic voice bring life and imagination to words. Of having my own kids plead “one more Mommy, please read us one more” as they bounced up and down in their onesie-jammies, favourite stuffy in their arms. Or of many campfires in the deep dark night, quiet of the forest, whisperings of ghost stories. And of course, the belly laughs from long-forgotten times of my brothers and I growing up, that are only remembered on those rare occasions that adult siblings gather together.

Does the word storytime give you this kind of pleasure? Are there other words that do that for you?

A good storyteller grabs your attention, draws you in, captivates you then leaves you wanting more. They understand your needs and spin the tale accordingly.

Some people are lucky enough that it’s a natural ability, others have to work at it. The good news is that with the advent of the internet, we are introduced to many writers we may never have had the opportunity to hear. Learning about different cultures, places and traditions.

There are as many varied styles of relating a story, as there are ways to receive them. So whether your reading purpose is elementary, inspectional, analytical or syntopical, you will find authors and stories available to suit you.

The significant increase of writers via the online world should not be a concern because for every storyteller, there will always be an avid following of listeners, waiting to be enchanted or educated or simply read to sleep.

After all, Storytellers are listeners too.

What does storytelling mean to you?

COM0014 A1 Blog1 What I did on my vacation :D


My last vacation was in November 2013 as a wedding crasher in Cuba. It was one of those friend-of-a-friend situations that whisked me away on impulse.    Do you know what I mean?

I almost had to be carried kicking and screaming to Cuba once I realized (too late) that I would be cut-off from my crackberry, internet and social media addictions.

Ironically, my very first Algonquin WordPress blog from the first course I took is a tongue-in-cheek prequel to my anticipated SocialMediaholic withdrawal symptoms on that vacation.

You may have already seen it.

I never did write the “My Cuban cold-turkey holiday nightmare” blog that I predicted then. There’s a very good reason for that.

It was an utterly funtastic amazing adventure with 57 strangers.Pic1

Attending a wedding where you only know two guests, (briefly met the bride once and don’t know the groom at all) is a very stress-free event.

As an outsider, there is zero drama and responsibility.pic2

 Have you ever felt that kind of freedom at a wedding?



Although the other 57 guests seemed to be a fairly chillaxing group.





With the wedding out of the way on day two, we were free to explore the wonders and beauty of Cuba. Pic3Did you ever dream of a Cuban vacation?



The Memories Varadero resort is Canadian owned and the pairing of these two countries results in the friendliest atmosphere on earth.


We were entertained, wined, dined and spoiled every day. The weather could not have been any better, it was an absolutely picture perfect week: Sun, Sand, Ocean, Fun.

An early morning eight-jeep convoy adventure took us racing through city streets Pic7

to a one-hour snorkeling excursion,Pic6

immediately followed by a boat tour with a fresh-caught lobster brunch.

From there we off-roaded our way down rocky trails to a government-owned ranch and zoo where we were served a traditional Cuban meal followed by a sampling of local fruits and honey candy.

After that we drove to a cave where we dove and swam in an underground stream surrounded by stalagmites and stalactites. Pic8On the way back we handed out candy and books, we had brought from Canada, to local children along the dirt roads leading back to the compound.Pic9

The entire day had cost only $60 each and we marveled at how an expedition like that at home would have cost many hundreds of dollars per person.

When was the last time you got that kind of value out of $60?


Our next adventure was a day trip to Havana which we arranged through local guides as opposed to the commercial tourist operators.

For $45 we were taken by air-conditioned vans to the highest bridge in the country Picc10where we were served Pina-coladas.

We visited a local market, guided through the streets of old Havana, Picc12served lunch in a historic neighbourhood, Picc11toured through museums, shops and the local hospital. We were free to embrace the culture and the people at our own pace.


As if these two fun-filled days weren’t enough, we also had horse & carriage rides, Picc14




flea markets,

Picc15Picc17ocean and pool activities, waterslide,


a wide variety of delicious food, Picc16para-sailing, catamarans, kayaking, volleyball, nightclub music and dance every night.

There was so much to see and do, I slept a total of only 25 hours over the seven days to make sure I didn’t waste precious paradise time.

If you haven’t experienced a vacation like this, don’t you think it’s time you did…..


COM0011 Blog #6 The Hastings Cup

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I had the good fortune to become involved with The Hastings Cup late last fall. It’s a newly established snowmobile ice oval race, part of the Eastern Pro Tour. My role was undefined by the committee as the members were flying by the seats of their pants. I took it upon myself to take over the media end of things. I secured sponsors, arranged the photographers, organized a meet-and-greet evening with the drivers, created a Facebook page and started a Twitter presence. Next, I negotiated (begged) a web developer to place a page marker website prior to the race and afterwards to polish the site with media collected over the course of the weekend. Like most of the people involved with the project, he agreed out of the goodness of his heart and his passion for both sledding and Bancroft.


Facing obstacles such as Mother Nature (which nearly cancelled the event twice) plus government regulation hurdles and insurance policies moving like sloths the committee forged on and thankfully didn’t hamper spirits.

I have been involved in similar events in small communities before but have never seen quite the overwhelming success that this one accomplished in its very first year. I attribute the large number of spectators and gate revenues directly to the Social Media exposure.

We were unable to promote the event through traditional avenues far enough in advance due to the precariousness of the weather and the holdup in the permits which delayed breaking ground until the third week of December.

Once the January melt ended and we saw that the hundred amazing volunteers were willing to work day and night to pull it off we started a radio and print campaign. Because of the short lead-time before the event, this method of marketing would have brought only local attendance.

It was Facebook and Twitter that reached far out into the snowmobiling world to bring onlookers from all over Ontario, Quebec, New York, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and all parts in between. The day that I got the Facebook insights indicating that the weekly ‘total reach’ was over 4000 and the ‘number of people engaged’ was over 700, I knew we were in the clear. We didn’t have a lot of followers, but through strategic connections the posts were getting out there.

1557638_209788879223268_737712345_nOn top of my media role, during the event I also oversaw the staging area of th1794559_209789819223174_1117069965_ne pits. What a thrill! Being outside in the fresh cold air, surrounded by snow, the smell of sled exhaust and the ear-shattering brrrrrraaaaaapppp of the dozen-at-a-time engines was truly cathartic.

The venue has been leased for three years and I expect (hope) we will have more attendees than we can manage in 2015. There continues to be fantastic interaction on the sites, as we post more pictures and videos of the results of our efforts.

1798826_209790919223064_1414419646_n1555416_209788202556669_793526505_nBrothers Dale #24 and Geordy #04 Dingman both took wins for their age classes: 13-16 and 10-13 respectively. They are the future of ice oval racing. There wasn’t a mother in the crowd that didn’t cringe watching these little guys fly around the track.

The Pro Champ race at the end of Sunday was full of drama and excitement, bringing a climax to the weekend that any who witnessed will not soon forget. Two separate collisions, one of which took a driver to hospital in Kingston, where he still remains today, and then a disqualification as the second placed rider drove his sled into the winner as they crossed the finish line.

Colt Dellandrea1012066_435527723242553_1708458188_n Colt Dellandrea #53, barely 20, from Kincardine brought down 60-year-old racing legend Jacques Villeneuve #96 followed closely by Sabrina Blanchet #79 of Quebec, a 17-year-old who has been racing since she was 8 years old.

I would be remiss if I were to not mention that it was on an Arctic Cat ZR440 that Colt rode to his first Pro Champ victory.

(Admittedly Arctic Cat green pulses through my veins)1890574_435527676575891_1022927730_o


Without online media channels to broadcast the event in advance, and the pictorial results afterwards, it would barely be a blip on the winter Ontario tourism map. Most rural communities need events like these to survive in these tough economic times. Having events only attended by local residents brings no money into the area. Through the power of Social Media it looks like there is a brighter future.

COM0011 Blog#5 Tantalizing Teasers

Need to get a super-buzz going on Social Media? Start with a teaser. Many companies are moving to this technique so that they are assured of an audience.

It’s no wonder this type of campaign is successful when so many tweets and posts fly by our vision everyday. Without them there’s a good chance we will be watching a competitor’s ad instead, and marketers don’t want to sit around waiting for that to happen.

Anheuser Busch has several commercials in the can with a variety of celebrities in anticipation of February 2nd. Don Cheadle  and Arnold Schwarzenegger are just two of the preview ads in the “Whatever Is Coming” series for Bud Light.

Major players attempt to entice consumers to take the bait and follow the buzz. Like Audi who is aiming for big payback with their Doberhuahua creature and Sarah McLachlan

SuperbowlSuperbowl XLVIII is a perfect platform to launch from, well at least for those multinational brands who can afford to pay the exorbitant $4 million/30 second-rate according to‘s sources.

Several players have released their full ads: Axe,  Butterfinger  and Carmax with two versions, one for the Big Game and one for the puppy game.

Others like Coca-cola aren’t revealing anything until the day of.

The best use of Social Media in their campaign has to go to DoritosDoritos and their return of the “Crash the Superbowl” contest. Five finalists have their creations running. On January 29th viewer votes will decide which one gets aired at the Superbowl along with a million dollar prize. The many levels of interactive participation put them miles ahead on the road to success in Social Media.

When the Today Show aired the finalists compilation they refused to air my favourite of the five, deeming it unsuitable for morning tv, so you have to watch it separately. Take warning before you watch it, I like advertisements (like this and Butterfinger) that push the envelope. so it may not be to everyone’s taste (pun intended).


COM0011 Blog#4 25 Tabs Later

25 Tabs Latertoomanytabs banner unpredictable blog 4

There’s a point when you have to surrender and come to terms with the fact that your in-depth research was completely wasted and you will never get those hours back.

That pivotal moment for me was today, more than a week into my reading, which I foolishly believed would take one evening at most. Day after day I would optimistically logon to the internet, hoping this would be the day I’d find my project’s holy grail and the search would end. It’s completely against my nature to ever give up but enough is enough. There simply are no mind-blowing visionary ideas about the year 2014 in Social Media.

Each and every article or post I encountered was shamelessly mundane. Not an original thought among the so-called experts. No brave foresight, no bold predictions!


It was largely different spins on the same jargon but among them I also found opposing views.

For instance, they were all in agreement with the upsurge of Pay to Play. Not the case though with the second item on Dave Kerpen’s list. In this piece, he suggests that Twitter becomes the “next billion-user platform” while conversely the Vertical Response blog emphatically states “Twitter’s popularity will fall”.  Jayson DeMers points out in Forbes  that it “seems that writing 140 characters and taking 3 minute long videos is becoming too tedious”.  Rick Mulready agrees with Jayson’s outlook of “Micro video to the rescue”, touting the rise of Vine, Instagram and SnapChat .

A difference of opinion arises between Anita Loomba’s “Content continues to be king” and Kerpen’s statement that “you’ll have to prepare to have the results of your hard work in content marketing literally vanish”.

toomanytabs unpredictable blog 4 kerpen

There is a resounding cry that LinkedIn “will be a go-to news source and a go-to distribution channel” closely followed with heralding Google+ and how it “FINALLY Hits the Tipping Point”.

I found underlying tones that Facebook will face negative reverberations. Although none will come right out and say it, but instead meekly form it as a question: “Will Facebook Tank?”; “Is Facebook dying?” and then marginalize their own answer.

Many more predictable predictions topped off the lists such as: the increase in social/native ads; social media integrated into the workplace or school; hashtags on everything; wearable products; brands moving away from mass media and the sway to all things mobile.

Would it really be so difficult for any leader in the Social Media culture to take a risk and provide us with forecasts on par with the Sploid blog I found? In Five surprising things that will happen in the next five years Jesus Diaz reports on IBM Research’s 5 in 5 list. Diaz is on the mark in referring to them as “futurists”. Their prophecies were refreshing and enlightening. If the world is not already headed in the direction they’ve plotted then perhaps it should now take aim.

 5in5 blog 4

So, is it just me that thinks these Social Media forecasts are unremarkable at best? What is it that has these specialists stymied? Are they fearful of putting themselves “out there” and potentially being embarrassed by their off-the-mark projections later? Or has the industry seen so much upheaval since inception that it’s an impossible task and I’m being pernickety?

My breaking point occurred when I read this quip at the end of Constance Aguilar’s Post Planner blog: “OK, Nostradamus — It’s Your Turn!”.

                If only…..

Nostradamus blog 4

COM0011 Blog#3 Hashtags: Not Just A Pretty #

Hashtags: Not Just A Pretty #

In August 2007 Chris Messina tweeted the first hashtag:


3 days later the first published use of the term “hash tag” was in a blog post by Stowe Boyd:


Over the last six years it has been honed and developed further into today’s trending world. It works well as a great marketing tool, a routine interaction about a given topic/brand, as well as providing businesses with extensive data analytics.

However, a day doesn’t pass without encountering the misuse of hashtags. It would appear that the common belief is that if you casually throw a pound sign in front of any word a connection is made. I have seen posts with a dozen hashtags built into the sentence which served no purpose and ended up raising spam flags.

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Perhaps it’s the visual simplicity which leads the public to believe there are no guidelines or best-practices and ostensibly their inherent failure to grasp the concept.

Recently, I polled a group about what they know about using a hashtag. Not one could give a valid description or define its use. Even in spite of the fact that half of them actively insert random hashtags in their daily posts with zero intention of ever revisiting the subject. They had all managed to interface with the ones they saw on tv, in print or in a supplier’s post, but they never stopped to contemplate how the data is logged and recovered or its proper utilization. They were all enjoying the #birthdaypartyforBob #drinkingsangrias and #samplingbrie while #celebratingwithfriends.

There are so many dialogues on some hashtags it’s nearly impossible to find a specific post. Take #facebook which according to Google’s keyword planner has 4.6 billion monthly hits. Ironically, the number one hit for #facebook links to Twitter’s website.  #Superbowl was used three million times in five hours. Facebook introduced hashtags in June of this year. It only took a month for a fanpage to emerge called “stop the overuse of hashtags”

The word hashtag has been integrated verbally into everyday speech to such an annoying extent (even worse than hearing someone audibly exclaim the individual letters O.M.G.) that Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake made this parody video

There’s no question that hashtags play a vital role in breaking-news, events, and commercial  Social Media. Perhaps not in personal social networks though, at least not until people are educated. Until then, I propose we use this:  #warningdonotattemptthisathome

COM0011 Blog Post #2 – Cyber Fandemonium

Two weeks ago there was a roar of anguish all over the World. Tweets were burning up the airwaves. Every second timeline on Facebook sporting a picture with RIP at the top along with a steady stream of sorrowful comments from people hearing the news for the first time. Truly tragic. Victim of a senseless car accident. He’d been entertaining millions for years. His final words a tribute to his family waiting at his bedside. YouTube even had a video playing of the accident. My phone was chirping for several days from all social networks and sources. People were talking about it everywhere I went. Their eyes would glaze over slightly as they shook their head and dropped their shoulders. The wave of shock soon turned to outrage. The recurring consensus was that it just didn’t make sense, why would they do this? A common sentiment was that if it had to happen, it should’ve been Chris who died. That sounds rather cold and heartless until you realize that I’m writing about Brian Griffin, the affable cartoon character dog, on Family Guy, now in its twelfth season.

It had been announced the week prior to the accident that the actors voicing four of the main characters had just negotiated a big pay raise ranging from $175000 to $225000 per episode for another two to five seasons. However, series creator Seth MacFarlane who is the voice of Brian and two other main characters had not finalized his contract. Perhaps negotiations with Fox didn’t go as well as planned and Brian was written out.

Fox and Seth MacFarlane were raked over the coals in all areas of media by the huge 18-49 year-old demographic that makes up the audience for the show.

The following weekend on November 30th, Paul Walker, the hollywood star best known for his role of Brian in the film series Fast & Furious, died tragically in a car crash. His death drew a lot of attention on social media as well, but not near the amount as animated Brian. I read many posts from users who were tired of the mourning of Paul Walker invading their pages and chastised people for acting as if it was someone they actually knew and lamented that these same posters didn’t mourn our military casualties the same way. That didn’t happen with the RIP Brian campaign, there hadn’t been any complaints of over-exposure there.

Curiously, it didn’t take long for conspiracy theorists to start connecting the dots between the two deaths saying that the Family Guy episode was forewarning the death of Paul Walker due to his charity’s relief work for Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines. The news of his demise paled in comparison to Brian Griffin. It was only because of the blogger who tastelessly published “Top Five Reasons Why I’m Glad Paul Walker is Dead” that the media was brought to a buzz again. Adora Bull (not so much anymore I think) is apparently under guard and suicide watch after all the death/rape threats from his fans reacting to the release of her article.

In spite of Walker’s angered-fans virtual attack on the reporter, Brian Griffin continued to be a mainstream topic throughout the media. Today, my phone twirped, bleeped and pinged itself into a low-battery state as it was announced that the character Brian Griffin will in fact be resurrected and return to the Family Guy series this month. This may not be welcomed news for the fan from the United Kingdom who had RIP Brian tattooed on his arm.

Now if only Paul Walker’s fans could figure out how to use the power of social media to bring him back to life, that would definitely be newsworthy.

I am both fascinated and impressed by the degree to which social media empowered the fans, both in a positive way in the case of Brian Griffin, and a negative way in the case of Adora Bull.

That being said, I find it very disheartening that humanity’s enormous loss of Nelson Mandela yesterday garnered less than one-third of the Mashable shares of that of a hand-drawn dog.  

Where do you weigh-in on this cyber fandemonium?

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COM0011 Blog 1: Will Social Media consume social life?


Fifteen hours into my day, totally immersed in my virtual life, I wonder if I should step away from the computer and watch tv to take a break from my work and studies. Nahhhhh, instead, I take a ten minute shower and return, refreshed, to my office chair.

Fast forward 3 hours: following two episodes of Sons of Anarchy, I check the time, It’s 3:00 a.m. (essentially 4:00 if you consider that DST just ended at 2:00 and the clocks have gone back)

Sleep escapes me – nothing new there. As the songwriter Warren Zevon said “I will sleep when I’m dead”. My mind is a veritable pinball machine of activity.

A new project is my personal dealer. The rush of ideas to launch or revitalize a business is my drug. The chance to brainstorm and find a spin to carve a market, to find a niche is my high.

An instant message inquiry from a potential client earlier today pulls at me like a sparkling gem just out of reach and my brain is in overdrive with concepts to market their business. These rapid thoughts, are in direct competition to the forensic detective receptors searching every nook and cranny for ideas for my upcoming Social Media course assignments. The combined effect of which is like “pop rocks” inside my head.

In an effort to tame my brainwaves, I start reviewing my day. I recall that I emailed my Professor beseeching advice on when to slot in the next online course among the 26 scheduled to be completed in the twelve months commencing January 1, 2014. One of my justifications for handling this excessive course  load is that “I have no social life”. Why did I say that? I now ponder.  Of course I do, don’t I? For sure I have a social [media] life, but have I backed myself into a technology corner? How much time have I spent away from electronic devices today?

Let me truly consider this for a moment…Today, I took the dogs out four times for 5 minutes each time. Fed them twice, me once. Had that ten minute shower…..yahhhh hmmmm? Not really balancing on the “living life to the fullest” scales very well. Even my so-called break from the computer was still in front of the tv,  with my ‘crackberry’ glued to my side.

If it wasn’t for the middle of the night tv show along with the YouTube videos I was required to watch as part of my assignment, I wouldn’t have heard another human voice today. I didn’t see a single person, I had no phone calls. No real face to face anything.

I communicated, no denying that. I texted, I bbm’d, I messaged on Facebook, I posted for work, on my personal timeline, wished a friend a happy birthday (gee that seems insensitive now that I see it in print), commented on posts and liked a few things. Reviewed statistical data for clients pages.

Tweeted for work, for clients and myself personally. Connected on LinkedIn for work and school and updated that profile with my college program. Did some reading on WordPress, liked a blog ,forwarded a blog and added some to my “follow” list . Checked to see if there have been any more followers or likes to the blog I prematurely posted on Friday. I hate to admit i am jonesing a little for more reaction there.

I emailed updates to clients, followed up on a repair ticket for the College’s Blackboard, solicited my Professor’s opinion. Engaged on the course’s discussion forum (but not in real time). I read up on all my course material and gathered and printed anything crucial to my first assignment. I bounced around from site to site for a while. Ordered some material off of the recommended reading list from Chapters-Indigo. Updated my calendar with reminders, due dates and appointments.

I uninstalled and reinstalled Twitter on my Blackberry and downloaded the LinkedIn App which I had never bothered to before. Tried to make some Google+ adjustments but hit some brick walls due to missing info I now need to source. Familiarized myself some more with the WordPress dashboard and the Algonquin College Blackboard. Checked the Ontario Colleges website to see if my program offer had been confirmed.

I watched/skipped through a 1 hour video tutorial on social media practices that I randomly came across only to find out it was actually an infomercial. Paid my Bell bill using the online banking app on my phone. I texted my friend some suggestions on how to reduce swelling to avoid an unnecessary trip to emerg after she had overworked her newly replaced elbow.

I watched the video performance “United Breaks Guitars” twice!! Once for the assignment, once for entertainment. Digging deeper into that story led me to the Los Angeles Times where I learned of an LAX airport shooting on Friday and the assassination of two French journalists in Mali. Both distressing and discouraging news reports but also disturbingly my only exposure to the raw and real world.

Did I feel alone or lonely at any point today? No. Not even for a second. Not even as I write this and I become aware that my day was devoid of human contact. Does this happen everyday? No. But if I am truly honest with myself, I have to admit it happens with increasing frequency. I still feel like I belong, like I am part of something and it’s satisfying my visceral social needs. But should it be? Is it time to admit my addiction?

I was lamenting today (by i-m of course) to my potential client that I was forced to postpone meeting them because of the vacation I am due to depart on in 3 days. I explained that it was a themed wedding and admitted that while I would physically be sitting on the beach, my mind would likely be in Canada on my clients and my schooling.

Well, no wonder I’m not excited at the prospect! I’m going to be surrounded by people 24/7 for an entire week. This is newly outside my comfort zone, I’ve lived alone for a year and a half now.

No surprise either that I have organized and printed my assignment notes to take with me. It’s as if I’m about to be sentenced to a mandatory detox.

It’s Cuba!! There wont be internet, there wont be texting or Bbming or Facebook or LinkedIn or Twitter or YouTube or email or  Google or WordPress. No course material, no forum. There wont even be a phone.

I will be in complete w i t h d r a w a l….

My subconscious obviously knew this and that’s why I was experiencing no ‘happy vacation’ excitement, why I still haven’t started packing yet and why I am scrambling at the last minute to get enrolled in one more Social Media course before I go. I will need the extra fix upon my return!

This is very puzzling as I have always been an outwardly socially engaging person. A very short time ago I lived to ride atvs and be outside 18 hours a day. Social Media has essentially absorbed my life by osmosis.

Is it just me or has anyone else out there turned into a de-socialized Social Media junkie robot?

: o

Hello my name is Lee…and I am a SocialMediaholic…

p.s. I hate to predict this but…..stay tuned for my next blog: My Cuban cold-turkey holiday nightmare

REFERENCES: United Breaks Guitars: Dave Carroll