My grandmother liked the evening news. She liked Walter Cronkite, anchor of “CBS Evening News,” for nearly two decades.
It was appointment television. Forget trying to call her during the news. You could be in the same room, but you didn’t dare make a peep.
Grandma knew what she liked in terms of getting news, and she stuck with it. But she didn’t always agree with Cronkite and lamented the limited choices for getting news.
I suspect today’s choices would have excited her. There are a lot options for getting news and, well, the evening news is just one of many. We can get news in an instant in many different formats, and we’re getting much better at finding what we like.
We’re living in a world of insatiable information-seekers. We want more news and information. It doesn’t mean we always make optimal choices in terms of “where” or from “whom” we get our news, but it doesn’t stop us from searching.
Evidence for this can be found among the growing audience for podcasts.
According to a report released last week by the Pew Research Center, the percentage of podcast listeners in the U.S. has substantially increased since 2006.
In 2017, 40 percent of Americans listened to a podcast at least once.
This is up from just 9 percent in 2008, according to Pew. You can read the full report at pewresearch.org.
This could be due in part to the successes of popular podcasts such as narrative nonfiction hits “Serial” and “S-Town,” daily news from Marketplace and Bloomberg Day Break, or information with a twist from episodes of “No Such Thing As A Fish” and “Radiolab” (check out their CRISPR episode for some truly disturbing information).
Unlike radio, it’s hard to know exactly which podcast genres people are downloading.
Elisa Shearer, a research analyst with Pew, noted that data on podcasts “applies to all types of listening and does not break out news.” This is due to challenges with compiling information on podcasts, making analysis by genre difficult.
If, as the data suggest, podcast listening is on the rise, then it’s not hard to fathom a day when it surpasses terrestrial radio listening.
I suggest this is because we like news and talk radio.
According to Pew, the news and talk radio format is king in terrestrial radio. The percentage of radio listeners who turned to news and talk formats is at about 10 percent. Pop radio (i.e., Top 40) was second at about 8 percent.
Sure, terrestrial radio stations are making podcasts. But it’s important to note that podcasts can be created by anyone and we can download them for playback on commutes to work or when we’re working out.
Thanks to podcasting, we have choices – thousands of genre-busting, eclectic sources of news from around the world.
Grandma would have been happy.
I started writing this column in June 2014, and I haven’t missed a week.
Yes, I’m patting myself on the back. That’s a small accomplishment for this big guy.
Nearly three years and a few extended deadlines later, I’m in a reflection phase.
Are we getting better at using social media or, as a friend recently lamented, will it be the downfall of society? Ironically, he posted his little missive to Twitter.
Thanks to the amazing and often forgiving editors at The Vindicator, I’ve been able to share some thoughts on life with social media and how it’s changed us, for better or worse.
The best part is that some of those thoughts have come directly from you – friends, followers, readers. Thank you.
In that first column (Adam Earnheardt is a Shameless Self-Promoter, June 29, 2014), I shared strategies for social media self-branding.
We’re constantly showcasing our individual identities online. In many of the same ways corporations are building brands and cultivating new customers online, we’re building an audience and sharing our thoughts on politics, sports, family and friends, dogs and cats.
As I noted in that column, we’re not always aware we are “self-branding” until it is too late. Some times we say or post something deemed inappropriate that causes us to lose friends. (To which one reader responded, “Well, they probably weren’t my friends anyway.”)
Losing friends is bad. But for some, the consequences may be far worse. Just in the last two weeks we’ve seen celebrities and political pundits lose jobs, endorsement deals and fans because of misguided social media posts.
Based on those examples, your answer to the question posed above (“Are we getting better?”) would probably lean toward that of my Twitter friend, prophesying about social media and the end of days.
I’m more optimistic than that. I like to think that we’re getting better at using social media to share with people who we are, who we think we are, or who we want to be.
I spoke to a group of residents at Shepherd of the Valley in Poland last week about creating their own social media identities. Some were already on Facebook, but others were looking to connect with the world in new ways.
One resident said, “I have 14 grandchildren, and all of them are online. I’m going to make one of these Facebook things and watch them freak out. They think I’m inappropriate at Thanksgiving. Wait [until] they see me on [Facebook].”
Another resident said, “I have so many recipes, but no one to share them with, and Facebook doesn’t seem like the right place.” I suggested building her brand on Pinterest.
These two users are evidence to me that social media is still a fun and interesting place to learn about the world and share a little about our place in it.
Bergen Giordani is One Hot Cookie.
Lest you think I’m starting this week’s column by making some wildly inappropriate statement about my friend Bergen, let me explain.
Bergen and her daughter, Morgen, started the specialty cookie business, One Hot Cookie, in downtown Youngstown in 2013. Business is good. They’ve grown to three locations, including shops in Niles and Boardman, and they have plans for more.
Bergen does all this while serving as the development director at YSU’s Rich Center for Autism, where she leads a half-million-dollar-a-year campaign to support children affected by autism.
I sat down with Bergen to talk about the upcoming DOYO Live conference (Aug. 2-3 at YSU), how she uses social media to connect with cookie lovers, and about crazy cookie toppings.
Q. I have to be honest. One Hot Cookie is one of my guilty foodie pleasures. My wife and kids call me a cookie monster. And I love how engaged your business is on social media. So, what’s your recipe for driving social media users to buy cookies?
A. It’s really interesting to see what posts get the most engagement. Facebook and Instagram have algorithms that are constantly changing, so working around those is always challenging.
We try and post a ton of pictures and to be authentic. I think it helps if people can identify a brand as someone they know or want to know, so we try to and have a healthy mix of cookie sales propaganda, hilarious photos of our Cookie Dogs doing their thing, actual photos of customer orders, especially late night downtown. Those are the best customer cookie creations, without a doubt.
We’re starting to focus on Internet sales more and more, and we’re experimenting with “boosted” social media posts to target specific demographics and locations, to broaden our reach outside the Mahoning Valley but still targeting regions that have a connection back to this area.
Q. What’s the weirdest cookie topping you’ve ever tasted?
A. Crickets. Hands down, the crickets.
Q. What? That’s crazy!
A. Remember a few years ago when the cricket farmers were in Youngstown? We did a Cricket Cookie for Halloween.
But, funny story, while we’re really good at making cookies, we’re not so good at roasting crickets. We kept baking these frozen crickets, tossing them in salt, and trying to find out what the “best” tasting roasting time was for these frozen crickets. That was the most disturbing taste-testing we’ve ever had.
We also did pulled pork on a cookie for a fun twist a few summers ago, but that one was actually really good.
Q. What’s the single most important ingredient to creating a successful business in the Valley?
A. The connections that you make are the single most important ingredient. In the Mahoning Valley in particular there’s no such thing as six degrees of separation. It’s more like two degrees, which is both slightly creepy and awesome. You never know what a casual conversation or social media comment can result in.
True story: a passing comment in a restaurant resulted in One Hot Cookie being the first tenant at Erie Terminal. Truer story: it wasn’t a restaurant. It was a bar, and I was a waitress.
So, the moral of the story: don’t underestimate or prejudge people or how you’re connected to them.
Q. You’re pretty active in the Youngstown community. How do you use social media to engage with the community?
A. I feel like in today’s world more people are “talking” on social media than in real life, for a variety of reasons, time being one of them, at least for me. It’s easy to engage on social media at your convenience whether that’s 5 a.m. or 11 p.m. —times when you wouldn’t or shouldn’t call or text people.
In that regard, social media allows you to be social on your time schedule.
Through social media I can stay informed about what’s going on in the community. I think that people can see who you’re connected with, through comments and likes, and networking becomes easier and more organic.
Once you realize you have common friends it’s easier to reach out and start a conversation, whether it’s about a community event or cause or something more business-related. In my opinion, social media sparks conversations and opens doors that would be nearly impossible or at least incredibly awkward to do in real life.
Q. I love your ice cream sandwiches. I saw a brownie-cookie ice cream sandwich on your Instagram feed the other day and my stomach growled. What’s your choice for the best ice cream sandwich cookie combo?
A. Aww, thank you.
I have a couple combos in my rotation: There’s the Cookies and Cream Brownie with Cookies and Cream ice cream and a double chocolate chip cookie on the bottom. That’s pretty intense.
It’s like a meal.
Then there’s the classic, our traditional chocolate chip sandwich with vanilla bean ice cream. You can never go wrong with that combo. It’s like your Grandmother’s pearls, always on point.
One of our newest additions to the menu is the Smash Cup, which is a milkshake, cookie sundae hybrid. It’s incredible.
But, when it comes to Smash Cups I go for the Salted Caramel Pretzel every time, which is funny because as a stand alone cookie, the Pretzel is one of our best sellers, but it’s not one of my personal favorites. However, as a Smash Cup, it’s perfect, all day long.
Q. I saw some recent One Hot Cookie cross-promotion on Facebook with Niles Residence Inn and Martino Motorsports. How useful are social media platforms in helping to promote these relationships?
A. It’s funny, both of those relationships started very organically from—wait for it—actual human interaction. But, through promoting the Residence Inn event we booked two graduation parties and a wedding—just from that post alone. So, that was a great example of showcasing what we can do when we take the show on the road.
It’s one thing to say “yeah, so we do graduation party catering” and it’s another to see the set up with the warm chocolate chip cookies and trays of specialty baby bites.
Martino Motorsports have been huge fans and supporters of One Hot Cookie since practically day one. When I started to tell our team that we were doing this and that it was tied to Ryan Martino, they didn’t know his name. But when I said, “you know him, he’s the Banana Pecan, no Pecan guy,” our employees in both Youngstown and Boardman knew exactly who he was.
(Ryan) will probably kill me for saying that, but it’s true and it’s hilarious.
From promoting The Martino we have been approached by other businesses for some co-branding and promotional opportunities. One in particular will launch in late June or early July. So, it’s been incredible to see how these two very organic relationships have multiplied tenfold simply from social media.
Q. DOYO Live is right around the corner. What will you be sharing in your talk?
A. I’m super excited to be part of DOYO Live this year. Dennis (Schiraldi, creator of DOYO Live) is great, and to go back to what we were talking about earlier about connections—I’ve got several connections to Dennis—and his positivity and perseverance have really driven this conference to a whole different level. It’s incredible.
In my breakout session I am going to focus on grassroots social media marketing. When my daughter and I first launched One Hot Cookie back in 2013, we were broke.
I feel like everyone has heard that part of the story before, but my favorite part of the story is when I called my dad and said, “I’m starting this cookie shop” his first response was not “that’s terrific, I’m so proud of you.” Nope. It was “you aren’t going to quit your job are you?” Which, I feel, was his roundabout way of saying “I’m not giving you any money so don’t even ask”
But, all that aside, starting a new business with a $0 advertising marketing promotional budget meant that we had to hit up social media hard, and in order to get organic, or free, growth on social media meant we had to be witty and clever and authentic.
So, my session will focus on our story of growth that is 100-percent directly tied to social media and the tactics we used that were wins, and of course what we’ve done that ended up being giant fails.
Q. You’re bringing cookies right? Cause that’s a session I’d go to.
A. Of course we’ll eat cookies during the breakout session because, well, why wouldn’t we?
Want to learn more about One Hot Cookie? Check them out online at theonehotcookie.com to view the menu, schedule a party, or place an order. Follow them on Instagram at @onehotcookie.
For more on DOYO Live, including tickets and schedule, go to doyolive.com.
Weddings are big business.
According to a survey by The Knot, the average wedding costs more than $35,000.
For the 13,000 U.S.-based brides and grooms who completed the survey, that cost didn’t include the honeymoon.
When my wife and I were married in 2000, we looked for inexpensive options such as the church, flowers and reception location.
Married friends suggested we look at wedding websites to find deals and make plans for the big day. We turned to TheKnot.com, a wedding planning site launched in 1997 with a mission of reducing the anxiety most couples feel about planning weddings.
Back then, there really weren’t many online planning options for couples.
Twenty years later and The Knot still rules the web-based, wedding-planning world. Its success is due in large part to an easy-to-navigate website and simplifying the process.
Some of The Knot’s best features are found in app form.
So, for my family (we have three weddings this year), friends and loyal readers, here are two of my favorite wedding apps: The Knot (https://www.theknot.com/) and Joy (https://withjoy.com/).
The Knot. With information, ideas and advice on everything from wedding cakes and icing flavors to dresses and tuxedos, The Knot has become a clearinghouse for every tiny detail.
Because weddings can be very detail-heavy, The Knot offers checklists for every step, including a robust guest-list manager for planning meals and seating arrangements.
Budgeting is one feature that has received a considerable update on The Knot since the late-1990’s when my wife and I were planning. At over $35,000 a pop, it’s no wonder why budgeting a wedding is such an important step. In fact, it’s one of the first places The Knot suggests couples focus their attention.
Download the app on your Apple- or Android-enabled device and get personalized budget breakdowns based on average wedding costs for things like rings, entertainment and limousine services. If your budget is way below the national average, then The Knot’s free budget tool is a must-have.
Joy. How I wish this app (and smartphones) were around on our wedding day.
My wife and I thought it would be fun to put disposable cameras at each table. What we developed were mostly blurry pictures of smiling friends clearly having a good time.
Thanks to smartphones, we no longer need disposable cameras. But we still need a way for wedding guests to share with us those amazing pictures.
To solve this problem, Joy, a free wedding-planning app available for Apple and Android devices, allows you to collect images from guests and share them with the rest of your guests. It serves as kind of a private social network for connecting friends and family long after the happy day is over.
Have a favorite wedding app? Share it with me at firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know how you used it to plan the big day.
Puking rainbow selfies. Face-morphing filters. Voice-modulation tools.
Social media can be fun.
While studies continue to detail the negative impact of Facebook and other platforms on our psyche, it’s important to remember that most social media are meant to be just that: forums for sharing and serving as a welcome respite from everyday life.
Social media is supposed to make our lives better, not bring us down.
Some platforms continue to roll out amazing filters and tools for making social media enjoyable. A favorite pastime in the Earnheardt house is to sit and scroll through the new filters on Snapchat, Facebook and Instagram.
It’s a fun way to connect with my kids, even if I never post a single face-swap pic.
Here are some fun new filters and tools we’ve tried recently:
Snapchat Lenses: Snapchat launched Lenses over a year ago as a new way to express how we’re feeling. Since then, as Snapchat announced in their Lenses update, “We’ve become puppies, puked rainbows, face-swapped with our best friends – and begun to explore how Lenses can change the world around us.”
A few weeks ago, Snapchat added new ways to use Lenses.
“While Snapping with the rear-facing camera, simply tap the camera screen to find new Lenses that can paint the world around you with new 3-D experiences.”
Snapchat continues to dominate the face- and voice-filtering selfie game, while other platforms like Instagram and Facebook are trying to keep pace.
Instagram Stickers: With an update in April, Instagram provided users with new sticker features for stories and direct messaging. Included in the new features are selfie stickers for adding smaller, thumbnail-size pics to be used as reactions in stories and messages.
“Turn your selfie into a sticker so you can quickly share your reaction or trade faces with someone [or something] in your story,” Instagram announced in a blog post.
Take a photo and you’ll see a new sticker with a camera that lets you create the mini-selfie.
“Before or after capturing, tap to apply different frame styles: fade or circle. Put your selfie sticker anywhere.”
Facebook Spaces: Facebook recently introduced Spaces, a new virtual reality app for connecting with friends in an interactive, albeit virtual environment. Spaces launched in beta for Oculus Rift and Touch, their VR companies.
The first step is creating an identity that represents the real you. “This helps people recognize you and makes VR feel more like hanging out in person,” Facebook said.
It’s a fairly simple process: choose one of your Facebook photos and select from an array of options for creating your VR avatar.
“Start with one of these options, then customize until it feels just right,” Facebook added. You can change hairstyle, eye color, facial features and more until you look like, well, you.
Now in year two, DOYO Live is Youngtown’s digital marketing and interactive design conference. This year’s conference will take place Aug. 2-3 at Youngstown State University.
Over the next few weeks, we’re featuring a few local entrepreneurs speaking at DOYO. This week, I’m excited to connect with Marisa Sergi, CEO and founder of RedHead Wine.
Q. Your profile notes that your interest in wine started with a sippy cup at age 5. So you kind of grew up with wine and social media? How connected are wine and social media?
A. Although we’re just getting started, I’ve found that social media is a great way to meet my customers. Many of them have reached out to compliment the wine or ask my opinion on wine and food pairings. Social media makes it easy for me to share my passion for wine with lots of people.
Q. Have any tips for getting people excited about wine via social media?
A. My favorite post is a live video of our team bottling our new product line extension, RedHead rose. It was a fun way to share the behind-the-scenes magic of how we make our wines and to share our passion with our fans. My goal as a winemaker is to help people understand more about the world of wine.
The video has already had a few thousand views.
Q. Why locate RedHead Wines in northeast Ohio and not in, say, California?
A. I’m from here and I enjoy the Youngstown area. I felt that starting this company here was a natural tribute to my family who immigrated to northeast Ohio from Italy.
California has a very established wine market and part of my mission as the winemaker and brand ambassador is to unmake tradition a little bit and make unconventional decisions.
It’s really cool to get reactions when I tell people this wine is produced and bottled in Youngstown, but that it’s made from California grapes. We bring refrigerated semi-trucks from California to Ohio to ensure our product is as fresh as possible. We start crushing the grapes as soon as they arrive at L’uva Bella Winery.
Q. You’re speaking at DOYO Live? We’re still a few months out, but have you landed on a topic?
A. I absolutely can’t wait to contribute to DOYO. My topic is, “Guerrilla Marketing 101: How to Create Buzz for your Brand.”
We have an exciting presentation planned with lots of practical tips on how to raise the profile of your brand without breaking your budget. Whether you’re a startup business or an established company, we’ll share ideas guaranteed to help you bring attention to your product.
Q. What excites you about DOYO? What are you looking forward to most?
A. DOYO offers something unique to the Youngstown area. The event will have world-class talent including marketers, business professionals and entrepreneurs who have real world experience to share with those in attendance.
In addition to sharing what I have learned running a B2B and B2C company at such a young age, I am looking forward to learning everything I can from other participants.
Youngstown also houses one of the best business incubators in the world, the Youngstown Business Incubator, and DOYO being here will highlight it to out-of-towners, too.
Q. Care to share any advice or stories about how you cultivate links in the wine industry via social media and digital marketing?
A. The best advice I can give anyone for connecting in the wine industry and across all industries is: “The answer is always no, if you don’t ask.” Remember that quote.
Also keep in mind how accessible information is on the internet as you work to build your brand and go in “for the ask.” For example, if you want to connect with an editor of a website or magazine that you think would be a good fit for a possible story about your business, find their information on LinkedIn, their website or other social media platforms.
Do your homework so you don’t waste their time or yours. If you understand and embrace the power of no longer being limited to the “six degrees of separation,” your chances of being successful are much greater. Using this approach can allow you to make connections that can lead to achieving your professional or personal dreams in ways beyond anything you might have ever imagined.
Learn more about Sergi and RedHead Wine at www.RedHeadWine.us. Have questions or want great wine tips? Check out her Twitter accounts at @RedHeadWine and @MarisaSergi.
DOYO Live, Youngtown’s digital marketing and interactive design conference is Aug. 2-3. I’m honored to feature some talented, local business owners who are building their brands in the social media world.
Today, it’s Deanna Fusillo of Sassy Girl Media, based in Canfield.
Q. So, what is Sassy Girl Media?
A. Sassy Girl Media is digital marketing company that specializes in social media marketing and web design. I guess that would be the appropriate response, but it really is so much more to me.
Sassy Girl Media is the child of starting a separate business seven years ago as a single mom with no budget. And when I say “no,” I mean that budget was $0.
I started a business as a way to find a balance between providing for my family financially and being present for my boys and their events. Not an easy task. I had to teach myself how to design websites and promote my business organically. That meant that during the evenings and every other free moment I was attending online courses, reading books and blogs and reaching out to my resources for help.
It wasn’t fun and completely overwhelming. What I didn’t realize was that all of that blood, sweat and tears were actually preparing me to create Sassy Girl Media, where I am able to support others who are just like me.
I have small to mid-sized clients who depend on me to do the work for them. I also have another group of clients who are startups and small business owners, and I teach them how to do it for themselves through my program, The Startup Circle.
Q. Webster’s definition for “sassy” is “lively, bold, and full of spirit; cheeky.” How does being sassy translate into the world of marketing, particularly on social media? I would think being “cheeky” on social media could get some people in trouble.
A. Ha! It definitely can. However, there’s balance in everything. I love the definition of “sassy” because it does seem to fit my personality. In the world of social media and marketing I believe it translates into being authentic, transparent and true to yourself.
So many times we want to promote ourselves or our businesses in tones similar to those we’ve seen before. Don’t get me wrong. There is wisdom in watching big brands and their marketing strategies. But there is awesome freedom in breaking those molds and letting our own personalities, or the personality of our brand, come through.
Q. You’re speaking at DOYO Live. We’re still a few months out, but have you landed on a topic?
A. I am so excited to be part of this for the second year. My topic is about women in entrepreneurship, pushing boundaries, and breaking the rules.
I’m speaking about what it’s like being a woman entrepreneur and how in a lot of industries, men are still the majority. Men and women are wired differently, we have different processes and strengths. I’ll be sharing how to recognize those strengths.
The benefit to understanding this is that we learn how to use those strengths to carve our own path but we also learn how men and women can complement each other based on the strengths we each have.
I guess you can say that this is when my parents get to say that I’m using that psychology degree from (Youngstown State University).
Q. Your bio on the DOYO Live website says your a “hashtag abuser.” There’s got to be a good story there.
A. There really isn’t one story so much as there are a few eye rolls and jokes by my boys with my hashtag use.
I’m that person that will use a lot of hashtags. My boys will make fun of some of the hashtags I use when I post pictures of them on Instagram. But being completely open, there’s more. I’m guilty of creating entire sentences with a hashtag, even including hashtags in my texts or verbal conversations.
So, I fully understand how they “should” be used, but I admit to abusing it.
Q. DOYO Live is expanding a bit this year. Why do you think this particular conference works in a small but vibrant town like Youngstown?
A. I’m so excited about this conference being here. We are so lucky to have an event like this right at our fingertips without having to travel to cities like Chicago or Orlando.
Youngstown is the perfect place. This once forgotten city is young again and it’s a strong force packed full of brilliant and creative innovators. When you look at different marketing platforms, it’s hard to not notice that digital is a favorite.
It allows the small business owners to successfully compete with the big companies. No other from of traditional marketing gives entrepreneurs that type of power without the budget to support it. And let’s face it; Youngstown has so many amazing entrepreneurs, makers and small businesses owners in this area that it makes complete sense.
Q. Care to share any stories about working with particular clients and what you and they learned about social media marketing from the process?
A. I have learned so much from each of my clients and hopefully they are learning something from me as well.
There is a theme that I see often and had to learn myself early on. What I knew about marketing a business was that it was a way to sell my product. So that’s what I did: sell. What I quickly learned was that social media marketing isn’t about selling. Well, not in the traditional ways that I thought.
I see this often with clients when they first visit my office. They want to “sell” their product or services. But social media marketing is a different animal. It’s not about the pitch. It’s about conversations and relationships.
“Brick and mortar is now click and order.” I wish I knew to whom to give that quote credit, but it’s so true. Our laptops and mobile devices have become our storefronts. And although that is a big change, what hasn’t changed is the relationships we build, the way we get to know our customers and how they get to know us.
Social Media marketing may be technology, but it’s still about that connection. We’re human. We all want to be part of something.
Learn more about Sassy Girl Media at SassyGirlMedia.com. Visit doyolive.com to read speaker profiles, get tickets and join the DOYO community.
Last week I noted that it seems strange for a tech-lover to rant about new technologies.
The truth is, I love new tech, but I miss the reliability afforded by old tech.
Case in point: I played music at my college radio station with “two turntables and a microphone.” Yes, that’s a lyric from Beck’s “Where It’s At.” In 1996, I played that song a lot on my radio show using something called a CD player. When the CD player broke, I pulled out an old vinyl record because, well, Napster wasn’t invented yet.
I was equal parts excited and confused when new tools like Napster emerged. But I still wanted to learn, create, and grow with new tech.
This is because of my proud membership in the often overlooked and perpetually underrated Generation X. Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos are of my generation, as are many tech entrepreneurs.
During my lifetime:
I’ve gone from making mix tapes on a dual deck boom box, to burning mix CDs, to embracing an ever-expanding iTunes playlists.
I started my Facebook account when you had to have a .edu email address to do so.
I bought my first pen drive that cost nearly $100 and held 124 mbs.
My first social media consisted of typing lines of green text on a black screen in a shared-use computer lab.
There were no photos, no graphics, just a bunch of nerds trying to slay imaginary dragons together on a text-based MMOG (that’s “massively multiplayer online game” to you kids) and geeking out that we got to do it together.
I’ve lived through, learned, discarded and replaced more technology in my 46 years than most Millennials.
If the digital revolution were the Wild West, I went there on a covered wagon, built a log cabin and fought bears.
I understand how things work because I was able to tear it apart and put it back together. All of this gives me an appreciation for new technology and part of that appreciation is an understanding that not all of it is built to last.
Many apps will go the way of MySpace and Vine (you kids still using Google+, right?). If I like a product, then I’m done auditioning new ones because, no matter how “user friendly” the interface is, sometimes this old man just wants something familiar and reliable.
I realize all this complaining may give the impression that I’ve given up new technology for the life of a luddite. Nothing could be further from the truth. I eagerly await the next generation of VR devices, driverless cars, vacationing on Mars and teleportation.
My point is not to bash technology, but rather acknowledge the intellectual and societal effort it takes to keep up with the new tech generation.
As a social media columnist and teacher, I regularly interact with folks who give me recommendations on new apps and other tech.
“Try this,” a friend exclaims. “It’ll change your life.”
Everyone means well. After all, I proudly wear the mantle of early adopter. I have the charges on my credit card statements to prove it, from my good friends at Google Play and iTunes.
The other day, a student suggested I use Box instead of Dropbox or Google Drive for cloud-based, file sharing. I resisted, only to watch the young’un roll his eyes at me in disgust.
Of course, the kid didn’t want to change his tech to accommodate mine.
Didn’t I know that Dropbox and Google Drive were for old people?
What I wanted to say, but didn’t at the time, is “let me tell you a thing or two about technology, you little punk.”
Of course, I would never talk this way to a student.
But the eye roll was enough to curl my old man ear hair.
When I was growing up, we played video games on bulky machines in our living rooms.
Those, “throwback” consoles you young’uns like so much were our nirvana.
When you died in a level, there was no going back to the same part of a game. You went back to the beginning.
Those things in your pockets that allow you to take photos and video of every morsel of food you eat or silly animal you see? I had to major in communication to get my hands on that kind of tech.
I edited my video on what were essentially two interconnected VCRs.
It sometimes took hours to get one good minute of footage.
My audio often crackled because, well, one wrong move with the long microphone cord would result in “literal” crossed wires.
I shot my pictures on black and white 35-millimeter film and developed them in a darkroom using harsh chemicals that your mommy would never allow your precious little fingers to touch.
These days, we need to keep our digits Purelled and pristine to operate touchscreens.
Nope. Back in my day, a camera was a camera and everyone knew you were taking his or her picture.
Don’t even get me started on “risque” photos.
I still have vague flashbacks to college parties, kegs in basements and Polaroid cameras. I’m really hoping those never end up on Facebook.
It may seem strange for a tech columnist to prattle on about analog media, but it was comforting to know that if the VCR ate your tape, you could use a pencil to fix it, not stare at a screen with messages about buffering and lost connections.
Back in my day, we had some control when using mechanical devices.
I miss that control.
Rant part two, coming next week.
On Feb. 16, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg wrote in his Building Global Community statement
“As we build a global community, this is a moment of truth. Our success isn’t just based on whether we can capture videos and share them with friends. It’s about whether we’re building a community that helps keep us safe – that prevents harm, helps during crises, and rebuilds afterwards.”
These are important words to consider in the wake of Sunday’s horrific murder in Cleveland, a crime that played out for the world to see via Facebook.
Like any new communication technology, there will always be those who mean to corrupt it, to use it for malicious purposes, and to circumvent the altruistic intentions of the medium.
And like every form of communication, those who create a new medium and make it available to the world become targets of contempt the moment the medium is used for a nefarious purpose.
We’ve seen these crimes transpire on television. Not often, but it’s happened. So, it wasn’t a question of if a video like this would be shared on Facebook, but when.
So, as expected, critics quickly emerged Sunday in the wake of the murder to condemn Facebook’s streaming video service.
As news of the murder and manhunt broke, media outlets rolled out a cadre of experts including law enforcement, government officials and pundits, many of whom leveled accusations at Facebook.
But as they spoke, one fact was clear:
Those who were condemning Facebook were from generations of technology immigrants, Boomers and Gen Xers who didn’t grow up with new media. Those who grew up with this technology would have likely offered a competing point of view, likely with messages of hope and trust in video sharing.
When a public relations nightmare hits, Facebook typically turns to their vice president for global operations, Justin Osofsky.
In a post April 17, Osofsky said, “As a result of this terrible series of events, we are reviewing our reporting flows to be sure people can report videos and other material that violates our standards as easily and quickly as possible.”
Osofsky pointed out that Facebook is exploring ways that new technologies can help ensure the safer communities to which Zuckerberg referred in his Feb. 16 statement.
“Artificial intelligence, for example, plays an important part in this work, helping us prevent the videos from being reshared in their entirety,” Osofsky said.
Facebook is clearly working to enhance the video review process.
One friend posted Sunday, referring to the Facebook murder, “If [Facebook] can deny my video because it contains a few bars from I Walk The Line, certainly they can create an algorithm to find and delete these kinds of videos.”
Like Facebook, we’re all trying to figure out how the streaming of personal videos fit into our daily social media diet. But one thing is for sure: This was one of many big tests for Facebook and it’s way too early for someone to suggest they failed.
Dr. Adam C. Earnheardt is associate professor and chair of the department of communication at Youngstown State University in Youngstown, OH, USA. He researches and writes about social media and technology, sports and fans.