Photo of an iPhone reading 'Me Me Me'

We’re a bunch of self-absorbed jerks, and it’s the Internet’s fault

I’m on the #22 Knight, heading downtown with a busload of fellow commuters. Nearly all of us have our heads bent down, staring and tapping away at our various mobile devices.

The isolation is striking, the few times I look up to notice it. This will probably be the largest crowd I spend this much time in today, and yet we’re utterly alone, once you discount the millions of people those devices connect us to.

It wasn’t always like this. Back when I was a university student, facing a daily commute of well over an hour, the bus was much more of a social venue. You’d strike up a conversation with whoever was sitting or standing next to you. Share photos from your vacations. Discuss, conceive and — on longer routes — raise children.

In the winter, there’d always be some resourceful scamp who would flood the aisle with a few inches of water, which (this being Ottawa) froze solid in seconds, and an impromptu skating party would ensue. In the summer, the bus would fill with the mouth-watering haze of passengers’ hibachis and kettle BBQs grilling burgers and hot dogs. Forgot to bring one? No problem — people always shared.

Some bus routes became known for their communities’ idiosyncrasies. The 25 Express was a philosophers’ cafe on wheels, with a series of guest lecturers paid through passenger donations. The 85 had a great street hockey game (and, rumor had it, was regularly scouted by savvy NHL teams).

But then came the Walkman, and then cell phones, and finally the coup de grace: iPhones and their ilk. Today most people can’t even remember a time when buses were abuzz with conversation, when elevators were the place to see and be seen, and when doctors’ waiting rooms doubled as ersatz discotheques. Projecting their Internet-era toxic isolation onto their own memories, they figure people just spent their time with their noses buried in newspapers, books or magazines. But I remember. I remember.

(I’d have more to say about this, but the jackass next to me keeps pestering me, asking what I’m writing. Some people.)

How many ways can I say I’m sorry?

The New York Times has strung together lines from notable apology speeches into one big, remorseful Frankenpentance.

Tragically missing, though, is anything from Rob Ford’s rambling, defensive apology from last November. Where’s “I know I have let you down and I can’t do anything else but apologize and apologize”? Or “I was elected to do a job and that’s exactly what I’m going to continue doing” – which would have fit perfectly right after Nixon’s “I don’t believe that I ought to quit, because I am not a quitter”?

I’d say the Times owes us an apology.

Seeking Redemption, Sometimes With a Familiar Ring – NYTimes.com

 

Filed under: Uncategorized Tagged: apology, politics, rob ford

Nancy Duarte’s Resonate is free on iBooks

iTunes - Books - Resonate by Nancy Duarte

This is worth a heartfelt OMG: Nancy Duarte’s Resonate is now available as a free download from iBooks. You need an iPad or a Mac to use this version, but it has all sorts of interactive goodness and bonus material, including lots of video.

I’ve gone on about Resonate at length before, but to recap: if you write or deliver speeches and presentations, it’s absolutely invaluable. (And if you don’t have an iPad or Mac, you can always buy it minus the supplementary content.)

Go get it!

Resonate by Nancy Duarte

Filed under: Presentation Design, Speechwriting Tagged: books

anger

So now I’m a meme.

There’s a lot I love about the web. And as passionate as I am about attribution and misappropriation, I’m still kind of smitten by the way an image can take on a life of its own.

Case in point: Back in 2007, my laptop was stolen. Mainly as catharsis, I posted these selfies from the webcam of the replacement computer: The five stages of grieving for your stolen MacBook. Continue reading

Trained canine driver on closed course. Do not attempt.

Back when my grandmother was a stringer for the Toronto Star, she sold them a story about a Northern Ontario family that had trained a groundhog to pull a little sled behind it.

Here’s the YouTube era’s version of that story, as told to promote the Aukland, New Zealand SPCA‘s dog adoption program.

With well over 10,000,000 views, it’s blown up since it was posted a little under a year ago. But as Beth Kanter and Katie Paine will tell you, what really matters for your organization is whether it yields results — in this case, more adoptions.

Which is why they had me draw this cartoon for their book Measuring the Networked Nonprofit… which shows you exactly how to tell whether your online efforts are yielding bottom-line, tangible positive change.

Cartoon about YouTube and cat adoptions