When social platforms help us connect locally

Social platforms can be great for connecting people from all over the world. But they can also be great for connecting people locally.

While facebook drives me nuts, I ❤ its events feature. I wish it had an app of its own like messenger does. When the weekend is approaching I use the location search filter in events to see what’s going on in different “day trip distance” towns and cities. This has been particularly fun during the holidays when so many holiday craft fairs and concerts are going on.

I like it when technology makes it easier for me to connect with folks who live and work where I live and work. Craigslist can work like this–it helps co-located people share or sell goods and services. I like searching by location on Etsy. And I remember the moment when the organic farms around here created paypal websites for CSA signups. It felt like a significant shift in their capability to get, keep, and grow community members.

What other social platforms help co-located people connect in meaningful ways? And which ones don’t exist yet? And how might we create them?

 

 

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Understanding Intimidation

Intimidation tactics are an abuse of power–a form of bullying.

Intimidation tactics come in many forms. They can occur in personal or professional relationships. Sometimes these tactics are visible which makes them easier to identify. Other times they are more passive which makes them harder to identify.

No matter what side of intimidation you are on, it’s helpful to understand that it all stems from fear. Fear lives in the oldest part of our brains, the amygdala which is sometimes referred to as our reptilian or lizard brain. That old part of our brain has had a lot of practice over the years and is really good at driving fear-based thoughts and actions. But with your own practice, you can teach yourself to override it.

No matter the form intimidation takes in your life, here’s some advice:

If you are the intimidator, cut it out. You don’t need to make people feel bad in order to do your thing. Try to identify what drives your behavior and let it go. 

If you are the intimidated, ask yourself why you let other people’s baggage get in your way. You’ve got your own stuff to deal with, right? That’s enough.

With practice, you can rise above it. Rise rise rise.

 

Artist Spotlight: Cory Henry

Cory Henry is a Brooklyn born musical prodigy with breadth and depth. He plays keys, all keys: Hammond organ, synth, clavier, piano. He plays a range of styles: jazz fusion, gospel, R&B, pop. And he gathers fantastic musicians to collaborate with.

Put some headphones on and check out this video of 4-year-old Henry playing the organ at church. About 45 seconds in you see him trying to reach the foot pedals which is adorable. But pay special attention to his left hand. Magical.

 

TAKE IT FURTHER

Go on a listening binge. You can start here, but anywhere is good

If you want to read more about Henry, check out this 2018 interview with Forbes

and for some music history, check out this live video of Weather Report, 1976

 

 

 

Shorter Sprints in Education

This past week I listened to an interview with SVA Products of Design (PoD) founder, Allan Chochinov. PoD is a graduate design program in NYC that brags in its advertising, “Killer faculty, Killer jobs, No grades.” Love it.

In the interview, Chochinov discussed a few pedagogical tips and tricks that they employ in PoD. One is shorter classes. There are a few reasons to do this. One reason is so that they can bring in top-notch NYC professionals as adjuncts who would find it hard to commit to a 15 weeks course, but can commit to meeting once a week for 5 to 7 weeks. Brilliant.

But the other reason that these shorter courses work is that they edit out the slump that students feel a few weeks into a project. Which just turns into a distraction. They want to change projects, then a few weeks into their second project they want to switch back to their first project. In the end, they have two underdeveloped projects. Not a win.

Now, I used to address this project slump by having students read about it. For myself as an artist, when I discovered that “slump” was a thing with a name, that made it much easier to navigate. But it’s possible that it’s too much to ask of today’s students. It might be better to prioritize teaching and learning agile development over endurance, at least in an intro course.

Graduates these days only stay at a job for 16 months on average. It’s possible that endurance isn’t as relevant as it used to be. Food for thought.

 

TAKE IT FURTHER

Interview with Allan Chochinov here

 

FOR FUN

Core77 Gift Guide here

How to Harness the Creativity of Your Team

Yesterday I participated in a workshop that helped me articulate the following guidelines for removing barriers to innovation and for harnessing the collective intelligence of a team. Thanks to all who participated for sharing your perspective. It was inspiring.

Below is a list of action items that leaders should address early and often when working with a team. These are also things that team members should ask for:

  • Define what success looks like
  • Articulate priorities
  • Figure out what not to do
  • Check in on team member goals
  • Acknowledge and celebrate the diverse points of view of your team
  • Call in an outside facilitator when you have issues that are too hard to navigate internally

 

TAKE IT FURTHER

Yesterday’s workshop was lead by a thoughtful, down-to-earth facilitator, Erica Marx

Distinguishing Platforms from Aggregators

Yesterday Innovation Writer, Ben Thompson, shared a piece about two scooter-sharing startups. I thought the piece was going to be a prediction about which startup would be acquired by Uber. Instead, the piece was about Uber and aggregation theory.

Aggregation theory is about how a company understands its goal. The theory distinguishes platforms from aggregators. If Uber only understood itself as a car-sharing platform, then its view of itself would be to provide car sharing services. As a platform, it would view the recent dent in car-share rides made by scooter-sharing as a threat. But if Uber, instead, sees itself as an aggregator of transport options, then they see the scooter-sharing space as an opportunity and thus they would work to acquire a scooter-sharing platform.

As the saying goes, the customer doesn’t want a drill, they want the hole in the wall. Aggregators who understand this have a monopolistic edge over silo-visioned platforms. But what does this mean for startups? Is the dream to get acquired by a huge aggregator and if so, what are the steps you have to take to get that dream? Or is the dream to carve out a niche, to be small but scalable and repeatable in your own space? And if so, how do you win at that?

The answers to questions about the types of dreams startups might have are personal and situational. But the answers to questions about how to achieve those dreams, whether going for an acquisition or planning to walk to the beat of your own drum are less clear. Is it about who you know? Charisma? Tech talent? There’s a lot at play.

Another question: Is aggregator the new word for monopoly and platform the new word for small? Or are there instances in which a startup that doesn’t want to be acquired can become an aggregator in their own right.

What do you think?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Doubt is a form of FOMO. FOMO is a form of Privilege

Making decisions is hard. And even once we make them, having confidence in the decisions that we make can also be hard. Because many of the decisions that we make don’t give immediate feedback that tells us, “You made the right choice.”

It’s often the case with me and the people that I know that making a decision is a form of privilege. So rather than get crippled with doubt about a decision that I’m making or plan to make, I’m trying to channel faith and gratitude. I won’t ignore doubt when it creeps in. That can be dangerous. But I do want to make a connection between doubt and the privilege that allows me to have that doubt. It’s a package deal and a deal that I’m lucky to have.

 

FOMO – Fear of Missing Out

 

 

 

Finishing strong

I had a choir director who would remind us as we approached our concert date, “It doesn’t matter how you start. It matters how you finish.”

While there are some things in life for which this advice isn’t a fit, many things are. If you are prepping for a concert or an event, it’s ok to have a slow start. It’s not ideal, but it’s ok. Because what really matters is how you respond to that slow start. One kind of response to a slow start is to shut down or to spiral with shame. That kind of a response is paralyzing. Another response to a slow start is to start again, to give yourself a second chance, to take it up a notch and hustle to the deadline. That way you can finish strong. And how you finish, in many situations, is what really matters. 

Snapshot time and continuous time

I’m working on a perpetual lunar calendar and playing with ideas on how to visualize time. While sketching I was reminded of this funny thing about how we visualize time. Digital clocks are about this moment. They tell “snapshot time.” While analog clocks point to a moment but in a larger context, a 12 hour cycle. They tell “continuous time.”

Extending this distinction to perpetual calendars, the ones that hide most of the back plate and show only today’s date through a tiny window are telling snapshot time. It’s Saturday 24 November and that’s what time it is right now.

But the value of using a lunar calendar isn’t in knowing what moon phase we’re in right now. The value is in being aware of where we have been and where we are going. Something like an analog clock is a better visual for this. 

Connect to long time

In Douglas Rushkoff’s book, Present Shock, he describes how our “now now” relationship to technology is driving us crazy. For this problem, he offers this solution: connect to nature. More specifically, he suggests that we connect to natural cycles, such as the lunar cycle, to slow down our nervous now habits. 

Rushkoff cites the work of Dr. Mark Filippi who claims that our brain chemistry is affected by moon phases and if we pay attention to that, we can consciously leverage the state of our brain. 

This is another one of those theories that I don’t buy into 100%. But what I do like about it is that it encourages us to slow down how we connect to time, to pay attention to how we feel and to patterns of how we feel, when. I appreciate the mindfulness of the practice.  

If you’d like to track your state of mind with the moon calendar, check out my little chart here 

TAKE IT FURTHER

The Long Now Foundation

Custom Moon Jewelry by Elaan Greenfield