My Blogging Experience…

“Blogging?” “Wait, you want me to create and write a blog?” Those were some of my first thoughts upon embarking on my blogging journey. I was nervous, at first, but soon became at ease. If I had to describe my blogging experience in one word, I would say FREEDOMblogging

Blogging gave me creative freedom to express myself, give my opinions on hot topics and current events and expose others to information and knowledge they may have never had exposure to. What was truly unexpected, was the fact that I learned a great deal of information myself. I visited other blogs, I researched countless new sites and entertainment blogs. I also paid closer attention to television broadcasts and current events. I’ve always participate in these sorts of outlets, but I listened in a different way, I listened for different reasons. Sometimes I would find myself writing down hot topics or events that sparked my interests.

My experience with blogging was also similar to diary or journal writing. I found myself writing about things that I enjoyed or was passionate about. Often times I would find myself debating on whether a chosen topics was too sensitive or too controversial or just plain boring! I would ask my family and friends how they felt about my topics this way I would have an idea what my readers think as well. And I have to admit, once I nailed down a topic, everything else fell into place….just like writing in a diary.

 

Blogging2Throughout my blogging experience, I would find myself with a topic that really interested me but I didn’t know how much information was “out there.” Although I didn’t use it often, Netvibes was a good source for this sort of searching. To be honest, Netvibes probably had too much information (if there is such a thing!). Whenever I would enter my blog topic, lots of information would populate. Some of the information would be relevant, some would not. I found Netvibes to be a good source just to see if my topics were “hot” meaning “are my topics relevant amongst others right now”. I could also use this dashboard to find contrasting opinion to my own. It is better to have too much information than too little when looking for background on a blog topic.

I will have to admit that blogging did take a lot of time. I’ve seen blogs where someone literally just wrote what they were thinking and never looked back. I really took my time with choosing topics, researching and actually writing my blog. I really wanted a reader to come to my blog, get a sense of my identity, see what I was passionate about and actually learn something new. This takes time, several hours, sometimes several hours a day. Being that blogs are very personal(they are YOUR thoughts and opinions), I wanted to take my time and make sure that I really conveyed my thoughts properly. I mean, if I’m going to write, it better be good!

As previously mentioned, blogging was a new experience for me but a good experience. I definitely have a newfound respect for avid bloggers! It is HARD work but can be very fulfilling and rewarding.

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Is this grade school or the Grammys?

grammys-2013The Grammys is usually music’s biggest night, featuring top artists from Beyonce to Paul McCartney, but this year the newly enforced dress code has taking the award. For the past few years, one could argue that the Grammys has been just as much about fashion as music, if not more about fashion than music. Major networks, like E! News and CBS, host multiple hours of red carpet shows to showcase what the big stars are wearing to the night’s event.

Let’s take it back to the Grammys in 2000. I’m sure that we all can remember Jennifer Lopez (or J. Lo then)’s barley-there, blue and green Versace dress, right? How could you forget it? The dress made headlines across the world and became a star of its own. Diddy couldn’t take his eyes off her and neither could million of others! imagesOther stars, like Rihanna, Lady Gaga and Pink, have made some daring fashion choices as well. The Grammys has finally had enough. While watching Good Morning America, I was fairly surprised to find out that CBS announced a new dress code that will be enforced during tonight’s show. CBS, hosting network of the Grammys, does not want to see fleshy under curves, buttocks, thong-type costumes or the sides of breasts along with a host of other things. Yes, they actually said these things in a mass email sent to attendees and performers. Take a look at the video regarding the slightly ridiculous dress code.

What’s the problem you ask? Well for me, I’m curious. Why now, after 40 years, has CBS decided to enforce this dress code? I also find it quite interesting that this dress code directly affects women, men are pretty much safe here. It is very rare that you will find a man with side boob or fleshy under curves showing. Has CBS become sexist and super conservative? Have women lost their ability to be creative with fashion or their personal style? Have they lost their ability to wear what makes them feel beautiful?

Trust me, I wouldn’t be caught dead in some of the flesh-baring outfits worn to the Grammys but who am I to say that Rihanna or Lady Gaga can’t wear it? I can understand the concerns of parents or personal viewing preferences, however, if you a worried about your children viewing it or you find it personally offensive, simply don’t watch it. It’s your personal choice to watch and its the stars’ personal choice to wear what they want. Dress codes seem more appropriate at school, or weddings or formal events. But the Grammys? No. This is a time when the star’s should really bring it, show who they are and if that involves a little leg, who cares? I mean, Vegas is a city built on a little leg and side boob, I’m sure the Grammys will survive.

grammy-nominations-garticleMy eyes will be glued to the TV tonight to see if the big-time celebrities follow the new rules or decide to be daring and break them. I mean, CBS never talked about consequences. Everyone can’t be as modest as Taylor Swift but my advice to the artist, “Express Yourself!” Yes, I had to end with a Madonna reference.

Just for fun…what do you think of the new dress code at Grammys? Ridiculous? All for it? Don’t really care?

Suggested Articles:

http://www.cnn.com/2013/02/09/opinion/obeidallah-cbs-grammys/index.html

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/tv-column/post/cbs-grammy-awards-dress-code-wont-wreck-your-grammy-viewing-fun/2013/02/08/19cc9460-7193-11e2-8b8d-e0b59a1b8e2a_blog.html

Is PRIVACY possible and how BRAVE are you?

In today’s age, almost everyone is using the internet. We use it for online shopping, online bill pay, to send greeting emails to family and friends, to file our taxes, and most frequently to social network via Facebook, Twitter and the likes. The problem is, with every click, our information is shared and our privacy is at risk. Is privacy possible in this digitally-consumed world? And how brave are you?

I believe, like many other millions of people, that Facebook is one of the biggest (if not the biggest) culprits in the invasion of our privacy. Let’s take a look at this video. It shows how and what Facebook does with your information and most of us aren’t even aware.

Do you really have privacy? Facebook stores and shares your private information like your IP address, other online activities, your statuses. For instance, if you change you relationship status to engaged, you will start to receive bridal info, vacation destination packages and other related wedding information. The same “technique” applies when you are online shopping or when you give your email address to retailers for coupons.

Another problem with Facebook and other social networks, as shown in the video, is that they have privacy policies but if you don’t view them frequently you will miss the constant changes. No emails are sent to update you or millions of others on new additions or subtractions to the privacy policies. Most often you must log in to your account, to see that changes have been made. facebook-thumbs-down-190x135-jpg_213453More recently, New York Times reported that about 61% of Facebook users have voluntarily taken a break and of those who have taken a break, 4% have left due to privacy concerns.

We must realize that companies are not always to blame for privacy invasions. You have to consider who you are sharing your information with too. Friends share your pictures, videos, and posts to their friends, then their friends share with their friends, then you are on Good Morning America (ok, that was drastic but VERY possible). This next video shows how “personal sharing” affects our privacy.

Scott McNealy, Sun MicroSystems CEO, is noted for saying, “Privacy is dead, deal with it.” But is it really? Is there something that we can do to make sure that our privacy is protected? In my opinion, privacy is dying but it is not dead yet. Privacy is possible if we, as internet users, take the necessary actions. Below, I have listed my recommendations for making sure that privacy is somewhat possible.

  • We must stay up to date on privacy policies, whether it be for companies like Facebook, Target or Turbotax.
  • We need to make sure that we are surfing under a secure connection.
  • Take action in the judicial system, if needed. Sometimes legal action is needed to make sure that companies are taking the appropriate steps in keeping our information private and being held, by law, to not share our information with third-parties or advertisers. The ACLU has really made an effort on advising individuals on the necessary actions for protecting our privacy.
  • If posting personal things, ask yourself, “do I care if others that are not my friends see this?” If there is any doubt, simply don’t post.  Limit sharing strictly to friends where possible.
  • Think before giving out your email address to receive store/retail coupons. Is the savings worth your privacy?

Protecting our privacy is an ongoing battle and can be difficult for many people. People are turned down for jobs because of their personal pictures or posts, many are “cyber-bullied” because of their personal opinions by people they don’t even know and if I google my name right now, my address and home phone number pops right up. If you choose to be an internet user, you must be brave. You must understand the consequences in participating. It is our duty to know how our privacy may be at risk. If we don’t protect it, who will?

Suggested Readings:

http://www.nbcnews.com/id/3078854/#.URaNKqVqtFI

http://www.wmps.com/blog/online-marketing/social-media/is-privacy-still-possible-online/

http://www.privacy.gov.au/topics/technologies/privacy

Black History 365

Black History

Black history is usually associated with the month of February, noticeably the shortest month in the year. But in reality, black history is with each one of us all year long. How, you ask? Well everyday we use certain inventions or products that were created by African Americans in history, from peanut butter to traffic signals. (To learn more about the origin of Black History, click here.) Let’s go on a little journey…Black History 365.

Living in the city, traffic can be a nightmare. But imagine what traffic would be like without a traffic signal. Nevermind, let’s not imagine it. Thanks to Garrett Morgan, we have the traffic signal which he invented and had patented on November 20, 1923. Garrett can also be accredited with inventing gas mask. The gas mask was initially used for miners but Garrett was asked to produce them for the US Army as well.

It’s a Wednesday morning, you wake up for your big interview but you forgot that you didn’t iron your suit. Crap. No worries, you can grab the iron and thanks to Sarah Boone, an African American inventor, you have an improved iron boarding too. In 1887, Boone was noted for her major improvements to the ironing board.

There is nothing worse than being extremely cold in the winter. Thanks to Alice Parker, inventor of the heating furnace, we don’t have to worry about a thing! Parker invented the gas heating furnace in 1919. Because of Alice Parker’s heating inventions, billions of people have been kept warm.

Have you ever been on the verge of a bad hair day but thanks to a handy brush, your day was saved? Yes, me too. Thanks to Lydia O. Newman, an African American woman, the brush was invented in 1898. The purpose of the comb was to lift and separate hair.

Charles Drew

Charles Drew

The American Red Cross hosts thousands of blood drives and millions of people donate blood every year. That is a LARGE amount of blood, where is it stored? Thanks to Charles Drew, African-American physician, surgeon and medical researcher, blood banks were developed. Because of Drew’s development, thousands of soldiers were saved during World War II. Drew became the first African American surgeon elected as an examiner on the American Board of Surgery.

George Washington Carver

George Washington Carver

From children to adults, peanut butter jelly sandwiches are a classic lunch or snack. We have George Washington Carver to thank for peanut butter. Carver was an African American American scientistbotanisteducator, and inventor most notably known for his work with crops such as peanuts, soybeans and sweet potatoes. In 1914, Time magazine proclaimed George Washington Caver as the “Black Leonardo.”

There are many more African American inventors throughout history that have some kind of impact on our daily lives. Although it’s February, as shown with the few inventions above, black history is much greater than a month, it’s all year long!

What is good storytelling?

Before anyone can understand the principles of good storytelling, you first must first know the definition of storytelling. The National Storytelling Network defines storytelling as, “the interactive art of using words and actions to reveal the elements and images of a story while encouraging the listener’s imagination.”

As children, one of the very first storytellers that we are introduced in our lives is Dr. Seuss. In my opinion, next to grandmother, he is  the best storyteller! Storytelling is the interactive art of using words and actions to reveal the elements and images of a story while encouraging the listener’s imagination. Please read the excerpts below from Dr. Seuss’ The Cat in the Hat.

“Then our mother came inThe Cat in the Hat
And she said to us two,
‘Did you have any fun?
Tell me. What did you do?”

And Sally and I did not
know what to say.
Should we tell her
The things that went on
there that day?”

“Well… what would YOU do
If your mother asked you?”

-Quotes from Dr. Seuss’ The Cat in the Hat

There are some key ideas in Dr. Seuss’ style that could lead us all to being good storytellers. Let’s take a look at three very important factors in good storytelling:

1. Your reader or audience must be engaged.

Most importantly when telling a story, Dr. Seuss is engaging. When your reader or audience is engaged, they want to know more. Your story can engage audiences/readers through interaction like questions or it can engage your audience by a personal connection to a story about personal experiences. When telling a story, especially in a blog, you should paint a picture for your audience. When they are using their imaginations, they are more likely to stay engaged.

2. Your story shouldn’t be too long that you lose your audience’s attention.

Dr. Seuss’ or Theodor Giesel was once dared to write a children’s short story with 250 words or less using a selection of certain words. He won this dare with a short story that that we now know to be “The Cat in the Hat” which is one of the most popular children’s books to date. In Dr. Seuss’ books he gets to the point quickly and the stories still remain enjoyable and most importantly memorable. William Lee and Rick Patrick, co-creators of Talkingstick, suggest that stories should be kept simple because the brain could get overwhelmed when processing too much information.

3. Be aware of the flow of your story.

Your story must have a beginning and end. The beginning of story is very important because this is where you first capture your readers attention. The end of a story is where you can you can conclude any important points. The core or spine of the story should also flow. All parts of the story should tie together, continuing to create a picture for your reader or audience. If you go astray, so could your reader.

When following the three suggestions above, you are definitely on your way to a good story. Always remember to engage your reader, never have too much information and make sure you story flows. When blogging, it’s also helpful to include pictures and videos to aid your story. Visuals yield memory.

North, South, East, Dr. WEST…

Last Sunday, on the eve of MLK Jr. Day and the 2013 Presidential Inauguration, I went to hear Dr. Cornel West speak at Kennesaw State University. If you have ever heard Dr. West speak, you know that he is a dynamic opinionated speaker yet sometimes very controversial. Any opportunity that I get to listen to him, I do. Not because I agree with everything he says, because I don’t, but because every time he speaks I learn something. This time was no different. He spoke vividly of the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and what he truly should for, he spoke about the times then and the times now. He also briefly spoke about the differences in Dr. King and President Barack Obama.

He mentioned that Dr. King worked and marched for justice for all people, not just blacks, but ALL people. Dr. King also marched for the impoverished, in the cities of New York to the slums in India. One of the differences that he spoke passionately about was that the bulk of the country’s wealth resides with an elite few. He made it clear that he was disappointed, and that Dr. King would have been disappointed, to know that the government used or “found” billions of dollars to bail out banks and automotive companies yet nearly 50 million Americans are living in poverty and struggling to survive. Dr. West touched on the thousands of people dying overseas in war, yet, the President really does “nothing”. He also spoke about how Dr. King stood behind his Christian values and never went astray but he does not see this same allegiance in President Obama.

More recently, Dr. West spoke on a panel where he states that President Obama didn’t deserve to be sworn in on Martin Luther King Jr.’s bible. President Obama used two bibles during his Inauguration ceremonies, one of the bibles belonged to Abraham Lincoln and the other bible belonged to Dr. King. I have posted a link to the video below for your reference.

Cornel West: President Obama Doesn’t Deserve To Be Sworn In With MLK’s Bible [VIDEO]

Wow. Dr. West thought that President Obama should not have used Dr. King’s bible because he contradicts the beliefs and principles in which Dr. King stood for. Dr. West’s position was not surprising to me at all but it did make me think. First, President Obama is not Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. nor should he be expected to do everything like he did. Dr King was a great leader, preacher and social activist. President Obama is a politician; he is the President of the United States. Although I studied political science in college, I’m no political expert, but even I know about the politics of politics. In this country, presidents are people-pleasers and they try not to “rock the boat” too much. Often times they are finding a means to an end. As president, there are certain unwritten rules to be followed that do not apply to social activists and leaders. I say all this to say, everything takes time. I truly believe that the president used the bibles, or both of the bibles, to show how we are progressing forward. It took over 200 years before a black president was elected to led this country and there is STILL a long way to go. One day, there will be a President that truly uploads Dr. King’s beliefs and principles but that comes with time. Nothing worth having comes easy, as we have learned from Dr. King, but we must keep moving forward one step at a time, one day at a time.

Social Media Round 1: Personal Use vs Professional Use

Lets’s just be honest, social media has taken over our lives whether it be personal or professional. Either you are tweeting about what Kim Kardashian is wearing at the MTV Music Awards or you are posting new volunteer opportunities on your organization’s Twitter page. We can’t avoid it, it’s there.

Each use of social media is incredibly important but they should remain as far from away from each other as possible. When the two are merged, you may need a boxing ring because a fight is destined to happen. Personal use of social media really has no boundaries. You can post pictures from your beach vacation in Cancun, you can blog about your religious beliefs and you can like or dislike posts on other social media participants’ pages. The possibilities are simply endless.  When using social media personally, you can be who you want and say what you want. Your main goal is to let your friends, followers and readers know about YOU and your thoughts and opinions. This is very different from the professional use of social media.

Professional use is full of boundaries and requires guidelines in order to be effective and of course…professional. Unlike the goal of personal use, professional use serves a very different purpose. It makes a cause, organization or company’s presence known to millions and millions of people. Either an event is promoted, a product or service is marketed, a cause/stance is made clear or questions are answered. Professional use really isn’t about “making friends” or being “social”, it really is about presence. Before newspapers/magazines and television were the only outlets to reach people but now that social media is so big, professionals and professional organizations have to participate. If they don’t and remain silent, it is possible that people will lose interest or react negatively. Training is also very important with the professional use of social media. Any volunteer or employee who will be controlling the social media activity must have proper training. They need to know what to say, how to say it, when to say it and who to say it to. It’s almost like you only get one shot and it better be GOOD!

Truly understanding the difference of the two uses is cloudy for some and could possibly lead to some tough consequences. I think everyone should really examine their purpose before posting. Ask yourself, “personal or professional?” and remember the playbook is very different for each one.

 

Further reading:

http://socialmedia4nonprofits.org/

http://blogs.hbr.org/cs/2011/11/social_media_success_is_about.html

Who cares what you think?!

Well, hopefully somebody does! This blog, my blog, gives me a chance to share what I’m thinking on hot topics and hopefully hear from you too. I have to admit, it’s kind of exciting! I simply ask one thing of my readers…bear with me as I move along on my first blogging journey. Happy Reading!

“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” – Dr. Seuss