Sunday, May 30, 2010

Soulstrip: A Poetic Masterpiece

This is cross-posted in the Huffingtonpost Books Section.

Poetry has always given our lives special meaning. Maya Angelou painted a memorable, moving portrait of self-love in "Phenomenal Woman". Emily Dickinson's garden of scented, exotic flowers inspired the beautiful vision of "There is Another Sky". And the words of Kahlil Gibran are so deeply invested in the light of the human spirit that you feel anything is possible.

Daniela Hoeche, an amazing young poet from Germany, is headed down the same road of literary notoriety. Her book, SoulStrip, is one of the best books of poetry to arrive this year, and, one of the best I've ever had the pleasure of reading. In short, it's an unmistakable masterpiece.

Of all the themes and subjects the book addresses, love is the one that constantly pulls at the reader. Here is a great example from the title poem:

Words find an address
I can send them to
The soul connection
Between us two
My shades are gone
It's a soulstrip baby
It's on

Emotional, fearless, and simplistic. She's making an extraordinary expression of love, baring her soul for all to see. She wants you to know that her love is real. And it's that authenticity that runs throughout poems like "Music", "You" and "The Peace Inside of Us". But of all her poems, my favorite is "Motivational Rhyme":

We are emotional lifers / passionate givers,
Writers of feelings, builders of meanings,
Singing believers, blessed receivers,
People of choices, the future's voices

These four lines of the poem speak to the impact she wants her book to have on the reader, and, to what believes in and fights every day to make a reality. Soulstrip is for the global citizen whose dream is about connectedness and a healthy respect for all shades of humanity. As Hoeche explains, "Never before has the world been so close together, never before has the world been so visible."

If Soulstrip is any indication, this could be the first of many great works to come from Daniela Hoeche, an important voice for a new century of literary creativity.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

11-Year-Old Girl Uses Artwork To Raise $$$ For Birds Harmed By Gulf Oil Spill

Artwork by Olivia Bouler

This is a truly heart-warming story. When Olivia Bouler of New York (an 11 year old!!!) saw the news about the birds endangered by the Gulf Oil Spill, she wondered what she could do to help. She contacted the National Audubon Society, and offered to produce some artwork to help them raise money to protect the birds of the gulf.

Here is the letter she wrote:

Dear Audubon Society,As you are all aware of, the oil spill in the Gulf is devastating. My mom has already donated a lot of money to help, but I have an idea that may also help. I am a decent drawer, and I was wondering if I could sell some bird paintings and the profits to your organization. My mom is in touch with an art gallery where I live. She is going to sell them here.

I also am hoping to go to Cornell in the future. I want to become an ornithologist. I know a few species of birds. I also acknowledge that this is breeding time for plovers, terns etc. I will do all in my strength to earn money. All I need is your OK. Here is a picture of a northern cardinal as a sample.Thank you for your time.

Olivia, 11 years and willing to help.

There have not been many great stories to come out of the BP oil spill fiasco, but this is clearly the best, in my opinion. The shame in this is that an 11 year old has done a better PR job on the situation than BP, which, according to some, is the most environmentally friendly oil company in the world. To read more about this amazing story, check out the Huffington Post Impact article right here.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Guest Blogger: Nicky

Today's Guest Blogger is Nicky, who tweets under the name Rocksstar10. She's known in social media circles for her enthusiasm for technology, and passion for education and great music. She's a 17 year old blogger from India who started TheNickyBlog. I am happy that she graciously allowed me to share her new post with my readers. This is a great piece below about using twitter to connect, and network, in the best way possible. Enjoy!

How To: Build Great Twitter Relationships

by Nicky

Twitter can be used in a number of ways. Some use it to promote, some use it to share, but, what I love the most about twitter is that one can make lifelong friends here. Yes, it is possible. The key is to build great relationships based on trust. There are people who haven’t met each other personally, but, still care for each other like best friends. I believe twitter relationships are no different than real ones. It takes the same effort from both sides. In this post I would like to discuss 10 ways to build awesome twitter friendships with your followers.

1. Don’t treat your followers as just followers: What I mean is, they are human beings and have feelings. They follow you because they like your tweets and find you interesting. [Except for the spammers of course]. I believe in addressing my followers as friends. Spend some time replying to them, retweeting them or even better, complimenting them. Compliments are great ice breakers. But be sure that you really mean what you say. Overdoing it can get you branded as a creep.

2. Be real: Just be you. People will love you for being you. In order to meet some like-minded people, you need to express your thoughts, your ideas and thinking. Twitter is all about expressing ourselves!

3. Shun Negativity: Choose to be positive all the time. Say hello to random people from your stream, say thank you when someone retweets you. The other person will definitely appreciate the gesture, and that could be the beginning of a new twitter friendship.

4. Encourage: There are a lot of tweeps who share personal details of their lives on twitter. Nothing wrong in that. Instead, it helps us know the person better. So if any person tweets about being sad, depressed, or is going through a bad patch, don’t forget to send out that encouraging tweet. It might seem like a small thing, but it makes a big difference.

5. Don’t insult: Yes, there are differences of opinion. That is bound to happen when so many minds collide. But know that whatever you tweet shows up in google search and STAYS THERE forever. Even after you delete it. You don’t want people to remember you in a bad light. Swearing or cursing is a bad idea. So, again, be positive spread positivity and do not insult or threaten fellow tweeters.

6. Trust is very important: DMs are used for long, private conversations. If it’s a DM, reply as a DM. Be a true twitter friend.

7. Ask questions: This is a great way to learn new things. There is always something to learn from each tweeter. Don’t hesitate to ask questions and get tips from experienced twitter veterans. I have done it and still do. Twitter never ceases to educate and we must make the most of it!

8. Take the initiative: You have to go out and socialize. Take the first step, the initiative. You will be surprised by the responses you get. You never know, you might meet some really great people in the process!

9. Share: Like someone’s tweet? Would like to share it with your followers? Then DO IT! Retweeting a form of appreciation and a way of showing twitter love. Twitter is equivalent to sharing and caring.

10. Respect: They say “If you expect respect, be the first to give it”. So true. You must follow those people who respect you for who YOU are, flaws and all.

Twitter relationships aren’t built in day. Of course, there are no specific “rules” to make great twitter friendships. But there are “ways” to do it. Finally, it’s only twitter and you’re here to have fun. Don’t forget to have a blast!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The Incredible Rise of a Twitter Visionary

This is the latest post in my series, TwitterPowerhouses, which focuses on the contributions of people who've helped to expand, influence, and redefine how we view social networking. This is cross-posted in the Huffingtonpost Technology Section.

How do you become influential on Twitter, and position yourself for greater success? How can you effectively use social media to promote a cause or business? What are the emerging technologies that will impact nearly every aspect of our lives? Those are the questions, and Twitter legend Glen Gilmore is the answer.

Admired and honored for his long list of impressive achievements, Gilmore is undoubtedly a trailblazer and a Renaissance Man for the new millennium. He had a distinguished and celebrated career as a suburban mayor, and, is currently enjoying success as a popular consultant to education, government, and corporate entities. Described as a "man of action" by TIME Magazine, he brings a broad range of expertise to the social media arena.

As Gilmore's social media stock continues to rise and rise, there is much to be learned from his example. He engages, mentors, and provides invaluable tips and information. While his huge number of Twitter followers have gained him attention, the depth of what he shares has given him immeasurable respect and influence. Yes, quality over quantity. As you will see in the interview below, he is "one who can walk with kings and queens without losing the common touch." Absorb, and apply, the greatness of Glen Gilmore.

Explain your success on Twitter, if you would. I say this because when I talk to people - who have 100 followers or 100,000 followers - about who they respect, your name always comes up.

My "success" has come largely from simply my sharing my journey of learning. When I started on Twitter, I took the name TrendTracker because my aim was to use the network to help me track trends. At the same time, I delved into a profound journey of learning into the concept and the terminology of social media. I set up listening platforms that flagged some of the best posts on the topic of social media, and I shared what I found to be interesting. Along the way, I discovered that a lot of my posts were being shared by others and that people were reaching out to me for advice on the topic. I tried to help whenever I could, and still do.

The biggest secret to success on Twitter is sharing: You are what you share. People who follow me know that I try to be as accurate as possible with the information I communicate. This means that if someone points out information contrary to what I've disclosed, I try to share that as well. This is crucial to becoming a trusted curator of information on any topic. Whatever area you decide to claim as your niche, you must also allow others a view into your world. Whether it's music or movies you're enjoying, or just taking the time to talk with your followers. Don't lose sight of the fact that it's a social network: people are here to connect. If you show your passions, you'll connect with a lot of people who share them as well.

Currently, you're an adjunct instructor with the National Emergency Response and Rescue Training Center at Texas A&M University, which develops courses on crisis management and also integrates social media. How do you think social media (and Twitter in particular) perform when responding to crisis situations?

Social media generally, and Twitter in particular, made a real difference for good in the response to the earthquakes in Haiti and Chile, for example. People are on social networks in huge numbers and they flock to those networks when a crisis occurs. In the aftermath of the quake in Haiti, Twitter, according to Neilsen, became the leading source of discussion about the quake. The first photos and videos of the earthquake aftermath that appeared on the major news networks were taken from social networks, from users on the ground who uploaded what they were seeing moments after the disaster struck.

And, the Iran election crisis, for example, demonstrated much more of Twitter's awesome ability to carry real-time, one-the-scene news from forbidden and dangerous zones. Just as importantly, it helped to destroy stereotypes about the Iranian people: it showed a multi-dimensional society. The scores of chilling videos, shared via Twitter, covering the raw courage of the Iranian people, especially women, destroyed forever any notion that the nation does not have a strong segment thirsting for democracy and human rights. Twitter is humanizing the world in a way that brings great promise to our future.

When such disasters strike, traditional media often can't get to the heart of where they occur. Again and again, we've seen that the first and sustained reports, as well as the photos and videos, come from social networks, from citizen reporters. Savvy users of Twitter also know to add hashtags to serve as beacons for others in honing in on a particular topic. In each disaster, hashtags and user groups were created to make it easier for people to follow the moment-to-moment reporting that took place on social networks. Many of the major news networks set up listening posts on Twitter. These consisted of Twitter lists allowing Twitter users to share information about the disasters.

In both the Haiti and Chile earthquakes, and the Iran election, we saw Twitter being used to spread the latest developments on the damage assessment, relief efforts, needs reporting, missing persons identification, and relief support and targeting.

The use of social media in emergency preparedness and response is still in its infancy. These events demonstrated that Twitter is a primary vehicle for getting on-the-scene information out quickly and reliably, connecting people most affected by the disaster, and helping emergency responders understand where the need is greatest. They also help direct people from around the world who were interested in contributing to the relief efforts. Those of us who are on the social networks understand the unparalleled capacity for Twitter and Facebook to share information instantly and reliably around the world in a targeted fashion and to elicit collaboration. These are powerful tools for disaster preparedness and response.

It has been said that the diversity and global nature of social media enhances the experience. Do you agree?

One of Twitter's greatest attributes is its ability to bridge boundaries of all sorts. We easily cross continents and time zones in our conversations. We form friendships without consideration of social standing, ethnicities, or nationalities. The bonds formed in social networks naturally reach beyond the virtual world and extend into the real world. When we hear of a crisis in a far-away place, we think of people we've come to know personally, by name. The countless global connections formed in social spheres, along with the unfiltered exchange of information, are undoubtedly transforming our world. They're wiring us together in a positive way. The connections are too many and too deep to be ignored. These are no longer strangers in strange lands: they're people we hear from regularly and have a real bond with. We all have a common desire to discover and learn.

What's next for TrendTracker?

In the field of social media, I plan to continue my journey of learning, sharing, and connecting. I just returned home from three back-to-back events. The first was in Miami, the second in Washington, D.C., and the third in Memphis, where I had the opportunity to speak about social media. At each of these events I met great people, gained tons of information, and cultivated new wonderful relationships. At the last event, hosted by Howell Marketing, where I serve as the senior social media and governmental affairs advisor, I was thrilled to be part of a program keynoted by Chris Brogan. It was great to get to meet, on a personal level, someone who helped us all understand so much about social media. The event itself also created a lot of buzz and brought together, for the first time, many friends from across the country and even Canada. My hope is that I'll have the chance to be part of more events like these. Also, as an attorney, I'm interested in continuing to study the unique responsibilities and risks that come with social media, and the implications of recent FCC rule changes governing blogging, which trigger new responsibilities for bloggers as well as the businesses that sponsor them.

How would you define yourself in 140 characters?
Hmm...Hmm...Caring, inquisitive, learning, loving life...connecting and sharing whenever I can.
To read more about Glen Gilmore's awesome approach to social media, friend him on his Facebook page and follow him on his Twitter feed.

In case you missed it, here's Part 5 of the series: 16 People on Twitter Who Inspire the World.