I know. It’s another article that appears to allude to the demise of Google+. You can find more than a few of these scattered about the Internet from the past few years. Many are asking why the seemingly plagued social network still exists. The big news this week? Among all the other famous couples calling it quits out there: Google+ and YouTube.





However, what appears negative at first glance might actually be a positive. As Google’s Bradley Horowitz states, “We think changes like these will lead to a more focused, more useful, more engaging Google+.” It’s clear that Google still hopes to have a relevant social network. And separating its services will allow those who enjoy the social aspect to remain focused on what they like about its community features.

Now, don’t run out and cancel your Google+ profile right away. It’s going to be a process of separation that will take awhile. However, the future holds a Google account that won’t be searchable or followable. This has promise for those users who may not want to make their every move in the Google framework public.

I brought Toshie, my laptop from 1992 (pictured below), in to work today. It’s been fun to see my coworkers “ooh” and “aah” over how antiquated it is. But it just brings back good memories for me. Granted it’s heavy, has a roller ball instead of a track pad and has a little over 4,000 K of memory on it. But it still works and it’s one of my treasured items.

I’ve been playing around with computers since, well, junior high. So what, you might say. However, this was in the 1980s when personal computers were not all that common. I was lucky to grow up in a household that always looked forward to the next new element in technology. We were the first family on the block to have Pong and Atari. I was about 12 years old when Dad and I took apart our first home computer because it stopped working, attempted to fix it and put it back together. And it worked! That was my first tech high.

Fast forward a few years later. I took one of the first DOS programming classes that my high school offered. And the first lesson I learned in programming still holds true to this day: Programs will do what you tell them to do—nothing more, nothing less. I learned that lesson the hard way when my pinball game that I programmed shot the balls the wrong way. And I am remembering it as I learn new coding languages.

When it came time for me to go to college, Dad asked me if I wanted a word processor or a new thing called a laptop. He pushed for me to go for the laptop and to always search out the new. So I agreed. For four years, I wrote college papers and short stories on Toshie. I had my first instant message conversation on Toshie.

Fast forward to 2013. Our mobile phones have operating systems. We heave enraged birds at bewildered green pigs on a variety of devices. We are writing and inspecting code for digital ads for tablets. I am still excited and always get the giggles when I open a box to a brand-new computer/smartphone/tablet/phablet, etc. I’ve been waiting all day to hear the news coming out from the Xbox reveal and to see what I’ll be thinking of buying next.

It’s been a crazy-fun 21 years since I first opened my Macintosh Powerbook 165c and named it Toshie. Those 21 years have been filled with wonderful technological advances that have helped create ideas and shaped our present. What will the next 21 years hold? And will we looking at the pictures of today’s technologies on “remember when” Twitter and FB posts, all the while thinking, “Oh, yeah. I remember that I actually had to touch the screen to make a call?”

On May 14, 2013, student innovators, academics and corporations got together at the Dell Social Innovation Challenge Awards at Austin Music Hall to demonstrate what the powers of positive thinking and purpose with a healthy side of inspiration can accomplish. This was truly a celebration of student innovation with lively music, good food and beverages and a raffle for prizes given by some of the sponsors. And I must admit, it was a great venue to meet others as everyone was talking about who and what their driving inspirations are to make this world a better place.

First, here are the staggering numbers:
Over 25,000 student teams have applied in the seven years of the Dell Social Innovation Challenge.
Five teams were finalists for the awards. That’s out of 2,600 projects that were sent in this year.
$350,000 was awarded last night to various projects.

Next, the truly inspirational:
Karen Quintos, CMO of Dell Inc.; our co-founder and chairman, Roy Spence; and Blake Mycoskie, founder and Chief Giver of Toms shoes were among the speakers of the night who shared the stories of their companies and gave advice to the young entrepreneurs. They also all touched on the fact that big things start from small seeds. If you think you can’t do something because you’re only one, then think again and think bigger.

Quintos told us that every student has the power to change the world. And that is a LOT of positive change. Spence said that entrepreneurs represent the spirit, passion and drive of the future. He also said that having a purpose with true passion is being brave enough to jump first and learning to fly on the way down. Mycoskie informed us that giving is the most gratifying experience of his life.

Each of the five finalists gave a 90-second speech informing the audience of their projects. All were excited to spread the word of not only why what they are doing is important to them, but also how their projects would help to make the world a better place. The grand prize was awarded to Solar Conduction Dryer for their approach to help improve the economic condition of the Indian farmer population by solar processing of agricultural products.

I walked away with a wonderful sense of purpose. I took notes throughout the night of my projects that I had hoped to start when I attended college and how those might be presented now. I woke up in the middle of the night with the hope that I had passed on seeds of great vision to my students in my almost 11 years of teaching at the high school and college levels. A few speakers touched on this when they vocalized the importance of teaching social awareness and never giving up on your dreams to the next generation of students.

So what are you passionate about and how are you going to help change the world?

Image courtesy of @DellSocialInnov.

I guess I am late to the game in learning the term FOMO (Fear of Missing Out). When I first heard of FOMO, I thought it was some sort of new plague set to take out mankind, never realizing that I should be afraid of missing out on so many things that are happening around me and to my Facebook/Twitter/Google +/foursquare/Instagram/Pinterest friends. (Oh, wait, am sensing a pattern here.)

Being of a generation that was raised to use cell phones (car phones back then) only in emergencies because of the high cost of the calls, I would never have imagined that I could be using my cell phone to keep tabs on so many people! I only recently discovered that I have attachment issues with my iPhone (when I left it at home one day and felt the need to hold it and peruse every app for at least 30 minutes to see what I might have missed). But at least I now have a name for the malady. And I am not a lone sufferer, it seems.

However, this raises a question. Are we missing out on life around us as we become more attached to our mobile devices and social media and less attached to going out and living? I am not convinced of this yet as I love all the benefits that social media provides. I can keep up with past students, high school friends,  trends and current issues that face our society. And the fact that social media is available on mobile phones, we can share while out and about and living the grand life. No longer do we have to wait to get home to load all of the pictures of our fabulous outings. We can load a couple of well-taken shots right from our phones, just enough to make our friends jealous and give them a serious case of FOMO.

Do you suffer from the Fear of Missing Out? Do social media and mobile devices provide a newer way to try to keep up with and outdo others?

Throughout my life, I have often tried to bring two of my passions together: science and art. (Disclaimer: the terms “science” and “art” are being used in their broadest terms here.) I often have teased my father, who was a chemical engineer before retirement, that I had I not gone into the study of languages and literature, I would have been a physicist. The beauty of physics (mostly theoretical) stupefies me. Most of my life, however, I have been judged as just a “word nerd”. Though I love the term and am proud of my nerd-dom, I also have worked throughout the different scientific realms throughout my wordy career.

For one of my jobs, I worked as the head of the student-run portion of IT for a graduate school of business. One of the economic students asked why he never saw me in class. I responded that I was working on my advanced degree in literature. Immediately flustered, he asked how in the world I could know and understand the intricacies of the computing world? And were they short on business students to help run things? Had I had my very first laptop (see picture below) with me, I would have pulled it out of my bag and said, “I have been using computers since the mid 80s. I took one of the first programming classes offered in my high school. Why do you assume that I wouldn’t understand computers?”

Well, you might ask, what does this have to with my present job in advertising? Quite a bit. The studio artists I work with bring computing sciences and art together on a daily basis, and quite amazingly, I might add. Us word peeps (I am including more than just the proofreaders here…) deal with a wide range of topics thanks to our wide range of clients. If we don’t have the knowledge to write about, proofread or process their terminology, then we find it. And we all use computers/social media/apps/programs to do it. So I am proud of all of us for delving into the science and the art of things.

And I look forward to the possible day that I proof some work of my past high school students who learned HTML coding through the grant we received to set up a scientific website to show off their English-language skills. We learned together and taught each other. We were amazed by the ease of our journey.

How do we take just one more step to show how science and art can take the next step together?

And here is my still-viable Macintosh PowerBook 165c that I powered up this morning:

One of the SXSWi lectures that I attended was called 11 Reasons that QR Codes Suck. I won’t list all 11 reasons here. It’s sufficient to say that the major theme of this talk was trying to figure out why QR codes haven’t caught on quite as much as some had hoped. The speaker admitted that while they are used quite a bit, but not everyone liked using them. And when asked the ever-important question why people didn’t like QR codes, the majority of the users answered: They keep me from being mobile.

Wait. Just a second. The scanners are on MOBILE phones, right? How do QR codes impede that mobility? Users have to stop walking, unlock their phone if they have it locked, find and open the app, position the scanner over the QR code just so, and then the user is taken to a URL where sometimes they receive more guidance about where to go/what to do from that point on. That’s at least two or three minutes of finagling, opening, downloading, etc., when the user might be just walking by with a group of friends and they really didn’t want to stop.

The speaker didn’t have a solution, except to use QR codes where the user is already resting. For example, in a magazine ad where the user might be seated and not mobile.

I researched Near Field Communication as I was asked to do so by one of the people who used me as their surrogate for SXSWi. So i investigated, probed, asked about NFC and if it will replace QR codes totally, or are there uses out there for both technologies? For those not in the know, NFC is a technology that allows a user to swipe their NFC-enabled device over something that has a chip. The information contained in the chip is then passed on to the phone. NFC can be used for payment purposes, gaining information about a sale and so much more. It’s been around for awhile, and the technology seems to be constantly updating/changing as more uses are found for it.

My question to you is do you think it’s a fight to the finish with only one winner standing or is it a well-mannered footrace where these two technologies can show off their starring qualities and share the limelight?

Last year I met a young lad on a first date. After talking a while at dinner, he asked me, “Why do you call yourself a nerd? You don’t look like one. Prove it.” So I listed all the captains of Star Trek and various characters of Star Wars; described my love of computer programming, string theory, time travel and all things space related; and relayed my love of the fluidity of language (not just the English language, either! I listed at least four that I have studied.). He said that he needed more proof. My lists weren’t enough.

Well, I should have used a time-travel machine to fast forward to my time at SXSWi and had someone take a picture of my face during the different lectures I attended. I would have then traveled back in time and shown him those very pictures. The picture of my eyes wildly trying to suck all information they possibly could would been proof enough. I learned about QR codes, eye tracking vs. remote usability, high-fidelity prototypes vs. rapid iterative testing, the proper use of a serial semicolon and so much more!

Maybe next time I should lead with, “Oh, I’m a nerd. But what do you think about QR codes versus Near Field Communication for marketing reasons?”

My favorite thing about SXSW is all of the information my brain is soaking in. The breadth of information is amazing. So far I have learned that QR codes aren’t turning out to be the wonderful makerting tool that we might have hoped they would be. I’ve learned that Source Map is a cool dev tool. I’ve also learned that Last Chance Kitchen helped Bravo learn how transmedia is changing television.

How cool is this? All of this information is available in one conference! And I still have lots of learning yet to do over the next days.

Imagine walking into a building that is filled with such positive energy and so many wonderful ideas, you don’t know how you could possibly take in all that you want to from the day. That’s how I felt at the AWC last week. And to help remind people to take home something positive, there were signs dotting the interior of the Austin Convention Center tasking attendees with a question of a similar theme: What is the one thing you will take with you today to help you change your life?clip_image001Out of the two panels and various speakers I listened to throughout the day, one message jumped out at me repeatedly. Know yourself and what your passions are, and be true to those passions. It’s something to keep in mind as we go through our daily business, no matter what we may do here at GSD&M or with our time outside the agency.

My main passion is helping others and bringing a smile to their faces – whether it be through cooking/baking a surprise treat for the people I work closely with or working with animals through volunteer groups or pet sitting. I also love working with words, helping to transform simple grammatical units to great ideas. My job as a bilingual proofreader here at the agency allows me to do just that. And it’s a job I am thankful for every day. These have been my passions since I was a teenager and I helped to rehabilitate horses, learned to bake with my mother and took various creative writing classes.

So let me ask you. What is/are your passion(s) and how are you working with them on a daily basis? Have those passions changed throughout the years or have they remained the same?

Be yourself; everyone else is already taken. –Oscar Wilde