PHOTOS: Iowa City in the Rocky Mountains

Spent a long weekend in the Rockies with many of my best friends, most of whom I lived with in a big house in Iowa City during college. Our second 106 reunion (106 N Governor was the address of the house) was incredibly fun: great hiking, awesome weather, and good times catching up with old friends as if a day hadn’t passed since the last time we were all together — 3 years prior in Oregon.
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Spring Cleaning

springtime on the patio

It’s already been an incredible spring with some good stories to tell, but to shake off the cobwebs I thought I’d give the little bloggy a minor makeover. New theme, in with some new plugins, out with some old. So help me out here – play around with the Facebook social plugin stuff — if you’re into that — unfortunately I won’t be customizing my content for you but I might look into sending your grandma a new pair of shoes if you’re nice. And thanks to Facebook’s concern for your privacy, her shoe size should only be a couple clicks away. But really, if you happen upon this old, neglected blog-o-mine, I do appreciate any and all honest comments and criticism. This has always been more of a testing ground for me than anything else — a place to play around before I bring things to the big stage (or any level of greater accountability).

But seriously, spring is here, I’ve got some time, and a whole lotta ambition. Let’s shake things up, start something new, and rock out in the sun. You ready? (P.S. if you’re on Spotify, I a made a little mix for this right here.)

Checkin’ Out Google FriendConnect

google friendconnect opensocialSeems like years since the announcement of OpenSocial, but finally invites went out today for Google FriendConnect and as you can see at left, I’m testing it out. Biggest complaint is that it can’t be constrained to <200px (I confine all sidebar elements to 160px or less, which is why the FriendConnect badge is a bit cut-off). Either way, let's be friends, dammit! Below are the other widgets available. (Actually, they won't render even with my inline.js WP plugin – so check out the widgets here). Play away!

The Added Value of Twitter is in the Little Things

Twitter - Jerry Taft
Jerry Taft, long-time Chicago TV weatherman is an avid Twitter user. Thanks to his recent tweet I got a twinge of nostalgia, imagining the news team I grew up with in the ’80s.

Twitter has not even come close to beginning to lose its edge in my world. Many of my closest friends and peers do not use this — but this was much the case with AIM and Y! Messenger in years past. Twitter (and the numerous search engines built upon its API) enable each user access to immediately strip any and all degrees of separation from one’s self and one’s interests of the moment.

When Cubs season came around, I immediately searched Cubs on Tweetscan and added about a dozen folks who were tweeting from Wrigley on opening day (Another search tool launched more recently is Summize). The majority of people I follow are in Los Angeles. I do have a habit of adding folks depending on what locale I am in — I want to hear the local noise (which I can find by searching TwitterLocal or BrightKite). There’s a Twitter wiki with an up-to-date index of all tricks and tools for enhancing the Twitter experience here.

The way Twitter works is much more dynamic than instant messaging. What Taft tweeted above — in <140 characters, an hour or so before going on air -- was only seen immediately by a handful of people (a portion of his 77 followers who happened to be following their Twitter feed at the time). However, his announcement of the Ch. 7's new team -- and the fact that it's the same team that me and my peers grew up with on Ch. 5 in the 80s -- can also be found on Google (which crawls and indexes Twitter daily) and in posts such as this one, (especially after I put the names Magers, Yu, Giangreco, and Taft in text). It may seem subtle, but Taft is promoting his newscast in a very nuanced and personalized way. There isn't such a mention of the reformation of the classic Chicago news team on the ABC7Chicago website, or elsewhere for that matter.

What’s the point of all the noise?

I find it hard to cut down on the number of people I follow (currently over 400) because each and every one of them adds value to my daily life. It may only be one in every ten tweets that does anything for me — often less, but, as with anything today, it is easy to turn on and turn off Twitter. And later, to do filtered searches. Alas, too much time on Twitter can get crazy, for example, a friend comments on a friends tweet and suddenly there’s another person you’re interested in following.

It’s not about who you know or who follows you. With Twitter, it’s about who you follow, and how you choose to use the little 140-character gems of wisdom and added value in your life.