Monthly Archives: May 2010

Top 10 things communication professionals can do to prepare for the future

I apologize if my last post seemed a little bit doom and gloom. To make up for it, I decided to make a list of what communicators can be doing to prepare for the terrible things I outlined in the aforementioned post.

Top 10 things communication professionals can do to prepare for the future:

  1. Focus less on tools and more on trends. Software and new technologies will change before you can master them, so your time is best spent figuring out why things are popular in the first place so you will understand where we will go next.
  2. Pay attention to mobile media and begin preparing content for mobile use. The future of content is on the go.
  3. Hold on to the value from traditional media. Good storytelling and other elements rooted in legacy media will still be the basis of successful media in the future. Content will always be king. Media ethics and standards should always apply to every platform.
  4. Read more than just 140 characters. Tweets are good, yes. They are pathways or links to relevant information found somewhere else online. However, if we forget how to pay attention to something for longer than 30 seconds or how to write well, the media industry as we know it will dissolve.
  5. Maintain your digital reputation. Download whatever free software or analytics tool you need to follow your brand online. Your identity is being chronicled for the whole world to see and whatever you want to do in the future will depend on whether or not you have preserved your past.
  6. Help adopters understand big changes in online communication. With our rate of innovation, there needs to be more attention paid to those who are at the bottom of the technological learning curve.
  7. Do not ignore the digital divide. When you are striving to digitize all of your content and move it all online, don’t forget the millions of people who are without Internet access. No matter how hyper-connected we may feel sometimes, information access is still a privilege.
  8. Research outside of your comfort zone. Understand as much of the communications industry as you can. So many fields within media are merging now as traditional things like video and print are adapting for a computer or smart phone. Media convergence is upon us! Subscribe to an interesting blogger outside your field to stay informed.
  9. Keep one eye on what is coming next. Technology is developing faster than we can say “iFad.” Do not get bogged down in today’s trends without paying attention to our media culture as a whole.
  10. Schedule more offline time and in-face meetings. Online networking can only take us so far. Invest in your workplace, families and friends by meeting in person and taking the time to stop the 24 hour multitask cycle.

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Top 10 terrible things that could happen to our media landscape

Your new iPhone will probably be outdated before you can even crack it with that inevitable life-shattering drop on the pavement. I have nothing against iPhones, in fact, I hope to get one as soon as Verizon will carry it. My angst comes instead with the perpetual push for more, for smaller, for faster and more powerful.

We are eternally trying to realize our George and the Jetsons fantasies of flying cars and robot housekeepers. “This will be the decade!” we project year after year. Meanwhile, there are millions left at the beginning of the curve. There are countless with no Internet access at all—forget about intelligent kitchen countertops and mobile microchips. Are we future-obsessed? I imagine if you’ve never used your phone for anything beyond a phone call, the iPhone might be a little overwhelming. Besides the digital natives, how much of the population can actually adapt and adopt technology as fast as it is developing? Are we moving so quickly that some people will be forever left behind?

The time has come for a realistic and admittedly cynical look at our media future. It is more of a wake up call than a calculated future projection. This is what we have to look forward to if we let a super sonic media obsession rule our world.

Top 10 Terrible Things That Could Happen to our Media Landscape:

  1. Trends toward customization will generate self-centered blinders that lead to ignorance and apathy. Users will forget that we are all interdependent.
  2. The 3D mobile media cloud creates hyper-connected, over-stimulated media addicts who cannot appreciate low-tech treasures like genuine friends and family.
  3. Trends toward transparency will lead to a general lack of privacy in our online and offline worlds. Eventually, we will be bombarded with targeted advertising that knows all of our private information.
  4. If online becomes the “default,” those without Internet access will fall further and further behind.
  5. An over preoccupation with prevention will force us to disregard the present. Life will become too fast-paced because we are constantly worried about the future.
  6. Children growing up online will fail to develop critical cognitive abilities like imagination, attention span and patience due to 24/7 media consumption.
  7. Blurred boundaries between things and people will force us to devalue genuine face-to-face relationships.
  8. Intelligent products and processes will lead to a loss of control on the part of human intelligence.
  9. The easier it is for people to communicate and publish material, the more noise will drown out quality content.
  10. High demand for low-energy media like viral videos and celebrity news feeds will lead to a scarcity of valuable high-energy media like lengthy literature and in-depth news.

I’m not saying everything on this list is guaranteed to happen. I’m simply saying that these are the risks associated with our media culture today. It is our responsibility to be aware of these dangers and to begin counteracting them as soon as possible.

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Managing your online footprint

I’m not talking about recycling and I’m definitely not talking about shoe size.

Your online footprint is the scope of your digital reputation. It includes every blog, post, comment, profile and picture tagged of you on Facebook. We create permanent files chronicling all of our thoughts, purchases and impulsive decisions. In the past, vicious rumors and embarrassing moments could crop up on isolated bathroom walls and then disappear. Today, hurtful comments appear to a much broader online audience and can’t be removed with paint or nail polish remover.

Kevin Colvin

What’s the worst that could happen? Well, for example, you could be Kevin Colvin. Colvin, an intern at Anglo Irish Bank, sent his boss an apologetic email explaining that he must miss work and travel to New York on Halloween due to a family emergency. Unfortunately, he posted a picture of himself at a Halloween party hours later, complete with a fairy godmother costume and drag makeup. Colvin’s boss not only forwarded the picture and pathetic email to his entire office, but Colvin’s story spread across the entire Internet, making an appearance on major broadcast news networks.  Now, if you Google “Kevin Colvin,” the first hit details this embarrassing story.

This is not an ideal situation considering a recent study by Career Rocketeer found that more than half of HR professionals and hiring managers will Google perspective candidates at some point during the hiring process. To go even further, 46% of those said that they eliminated candidates based on what they found online.

What should we do about it? Here are a few suggestions for cleaning up your digital footprint:

  • Remove contact information from your online profiles. There are too many people who can manipulate this information to your disadvantage.
  • If you can’t say something nice, at least say it to someone’s face. Rash decisions made in anger should stay as far away from your keyboard as possible.
  • Be cautious about whom you trust. Think twice before you send intimate photos of information, even in private emails. Anything that is considered “private” can be made public.
  • Be smart with your phone. Be careful who you give your number to and how you use GPS and other technologies that can pinpoint your physical location.
  • Don’t post anything online you wouldn’t want to be seen doing in public.
  • Monitor all photos that are tagged of you in social networks. Remove anything that looks suspicious, even if it is just the people around you who look sketchy.

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