Boundaries

If you want to learn everything about someone, just become friends with them on facebook. The details often go beyond their birthday, city of birth, and even mother’s maiden name – things you would need to pull of an identity theft. You may know when they are out of town, their religious and political beliefs, and far more.

Not long ago many people would sit down at a meal and pause for a moment to give thanks, perhaps making the sign of the cross with their hands. Today those hands might raise their phone, posting a picture on facebook. Yes, you’ll even know what someone had for breakfast if you are their “friend”.

We live in a world without boundaries. And that may be the one true thing that has gone horribly wrong amid a sea of mistakes we are making as we navigate a stormy, changing world.

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Can We … Talk?

People’s Economics,” the three-part series of talks held at the Sidhe Brewing Company in St Paul, are over. Viddy will be up soon so that everyone can see the result for themselves, but I’ll give you my take. It was a great experience and, as usual, the comments after my li’l schtick were the highlight.

There’s nothing better than people sitting down over a few beers and talking about real stuff.

For that reason, the rumors that this will be followed by “Barataria on Ice” are completely untrue. Besides, I can’t skate. The most important part wasn’t the performance but the chance for people to sit down and simply talk. Non-partisan, totally real, honest talk. And I think that we’re going to start seeing more of it, too.

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Whither, Twitter?

The question always comes up in about the same way whenever I have a new client seeking social media advice.

Client: “I don’t get Twitter. Can you explain it to me?”
Me: “It’s like a personalized news ticker and public chatroom.”
Client: “That’s it? That’s all there is to it? Why is there all the hype?”

At this point, we have less dialogue and more handwaving. People who aren’t on twitter already don’t “get it” and will probably never become users. That’s reflected in their falling growth rate, down to 4% each quarter. And it’s starting to show up in their stock price now that the six month lockup period is over, allowing insiders a chance to sell. It’s below $33 a share, down 25% from the first day of the IPO last November. It’s worth about $19B total, about the same as Facebook’s tab to buy WhatsApp.

Is Twitter dead? No, MySpace and AOL are still around – but that’s where it’s headed at this rate.

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Seek the Original Source

The internet is a wide, rolling river of information. It can be treacherous and dangerous to wade into if you’re not careful. If you’re looking for a cool drink of truth, the muddy brown of this mighty Mississippi of data often has a harsh stench of bias bubbling along with the waves. What can a reader thirsty for knowledge do?

The answer is to seek the source – the cool, clear stream that feeds into the torment at the headwaters. I call it the “Urquelle”, a German word meaning “original source” favored in the mountains and rolling hills that are the source of so many great rivers in Bavaria and Bohemia. This process of seeking out primary sources is valuable not just for writers, for whom primary sources have long been a staple of good, useful prose. As surely as reading is writing, today’s discerning reader should also seek the Urquelle.
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