Sunday, July 29, 2012

RE: MS WRITE NOW Reflects Upon New Experiences and a New Conference her

The UNConference:  UNConventional, But With UN-Deniably Positive Results
As a Marketing Coordinator by day I attempt to keep pace with the moving target that is social media and its plethora of possibilities.  As a member of the Social Media Club leadership team by day and night I assist in promoting the club’s mission to share, engage and collaborate with the community on the issues of social media and technology.” 

I also make a valiant effort not to blurt out excitedly, “Oh, I know what that is!” every time I actually know something on the topic of social media.  Who can blame any of us for expressing the giddiness that accompanies the momentary bliss that is the understanding of a new app, feature, or device? 

Recently I’ve been learning scads of new things, some of which I can even talk about in a PG-13 blog.  One of these is a concept and resultant participant-driven conference format called the Unconference.   

(Can you hear the term Unconference and not think UnCola if you’re of a certain age or big on 7UP lore?) 

The Unconference operates from an agenda that is created upon arrival by the participants, for the participants and there are UN-Rules:
1.       The people who come are the best people who could have come.
2.       Whatever happens is the only thing that could have happened.
3.       It starts when it starts.
4.       It's over when it's over.
5.       The Law of Two Feet ("If you are not learning or contributing to a talk or presentation or discussion it is your responsibility to find somewhere where you can contribute or learn").
Where did this un-format come from?  Like most concepts it gets a bit murky. Where or to whom you attribute the idea depends upon whether you enjoy the bounty that is Wikipedia information or if you get your facts from academics who study these types of trends.

For our purposes we’ll go with the background that credits the “Open Space Technology format/method developed by Harrison Owen developed in the mid 1980's.”

(Yes, you’re onto me; I’ve taken the Wikipedia path to knowledge.)

Usually at conferences we listen to (and do not interact with) others unless you count shared eye rolls, meaningful glances at wristwatches, and shrugs of surrender with your fellow conference attendees. 

Not so at an Unconference because it is unscripted and the partakers set the agenda connecting everyone through active participation.  In addition to this you add a short and personal action plan to the mix and you’ve got yourself a “wha la!” moment or two.

In a polar opposite twist on that pop adage “what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas” what occurs at an UnConference does not stay at an UnConference.  In fact, as thought-provoking discussions bud and burst forth into full bloom they are being tweeted, retweeted, and webcammed on out into the free world in real time.  Not only are the conference attendees there, but so is anyone else who wants to join the information party. 

The turn-out at the Social Media Club’s first Unconference on Friday, July 20, 2012 was stellar with over 60 people turning out from a multitude of career paths; media outlets, advertising agencies, and state agencies to name a few.

The event was held at the roomy and hospitable facility that is the College of Continuing Education at Sacramento State located in Napa Hall.  The CCE was both a generous partner and gracious host.  

Terms like “thought leadership,” “open discussion” and “hash tags” were bandied about and half sheets of paper were flying around with clever ideas scribed on them.  (Okay, they weren’t flying, but rather firmly adhered to the white board in readiness for placement in a jigsaw puzzle-like schedule that would allow for everyone’s conference topic ideas to see the light of day.)

As the day rolled out everyone was fully engaged in this rich process, the exchange of knowledge, and the ensuing interpersonal interactions.  The Unconference meetings culminated with each contributor striking a camera-ready pose, holding up a piece of paper emblazoned with what was learned about social media and what action was going to be taken next. 

What an UN-Conventionally productive way to end an UN-Convention.


Sunday, July 8, 2012

RE: MS WRITE NOW (Humor) The Board of Hosiery

The Board of Hosiery

I feel compelled to write about a crisis that has truly reached epic proportions.  While I admit this catastrophe may not exactly pose a threat to national security, I know I no longer feel secure.

What is the issue?

Hosiery.  (Please note this term encompasses all related terms of yesteryear up to and including the present time; tights, stockings, nylons, pantyhose, and leggings.)

Let me now back up and provide some specifics about a hideous trend that has merited disappointingly few public comments.

There is a packaging practice whereby hosiery is encased in a piece of sharp, inflexible, NASA-enhanced cardboard shoved into only one of the legs.

Every time I open up a new pair of tights I feel as though I’m playing a twisted game of “Operation – Accessory Style.”  I find myself holding my breath, working with marginally steady hands as I slide the trapped leg down, over and out of the board, taking special care not to cut them wide open on the incisor-sharp edges.

The end result of my sweat-inducing task that has me removing these items as carefully as I would remove a bucket of nitroglycerin from a natural gas mine usually nets me an intact product.  That’s how I know it’s going to be a good day.

These tights of which I speak often kill a “Jackson” in one fell swoop.  Hey, while I’m on the topic of money is it just me or does Alexander Hamilton look totally hot on that ten dollar bill?  Have some faith here now.  I can find my way back even though I’ve gone on a bit of a “bird walk.”  Here we go. 

So Alexander probably wore hosiery back in the day, but we’re talking about women’s tights here.   

It’s hard to believe that a simple task like this can render me stressed out before I’ve even donned my complete undergarment armor allowing me the illusion of sleekness.  This is because of the high probability that I will snag my new tights forcing me to go “Old School” with a vat of clear nail polish in order to stop the snag from graduating to full-out “run for it” status.

I don’t get it.  How hard would it be to simply, say, throw the tights into a bag and call that proper packaging?  It’s not like the cardboard serves some sort of purpose by holding a specific leg shape that we’re all going for.

Because of my tights-wearing penchant this “steady as she goes” hosiery liberation activity occurs quite frequently.  In fact, the other day I scored some super stylish fishnet numbers in a smoky blue transitional-season color.  Although I didn’t have to trade a pack of cigarettes and chocolate for them they were extremely hard to come by.

You have to know the attention to detail I employ in accessorizing.  I’ve been known to build an entire outfit around one bracelet and this particular morning it was a similar deal.  I had my outfit all worked out, complete with a whimsical cowboy vest in full possession of that subtle mid-range blue.  I was on a fashion coordination high and because of that I flew too close to the sun. 

(Are you catching a whiff of foreshadowing here?)

On my way out the door, because I was so danged pleased with myself I decided to show my husband what I had wrought in color coordination earning noteworthy status in what would no doubt go down in the annals of fashion creativity.  (This is in my own mind you understand.) 

In the process I noted another exciting development; my tights were long enough to actually be comfortable, extending above my waist.  That's when I made the rookie error of impaling my tights upon my skirt zipper as I showed him the high water level of my tights. 

I had navigated the dreaded cardboard disk of destruction only to fall prey to the evil zipper of graspitude.  I unzipped my skirt thinking I would fix the problem easily and quickly; however, each time I zrrrppped down and zrrrppped back up the blasted thing got more and more enmeshed in my tights mesh. 

At that point I was a mesh, let me tell you, because my work schedule dictated that I needed to be out the door in 10.5 seconds or I would encounter commuter gridlock in addition to skirt gridlock.

Not being overly dramatic I wailed, “Oh, my God, why do these things happen to me?” as everyone in the family attempted to help me, including the dog who jumped up to see if there was some sort of food involved.

Those pitbull teeth – and I’m talking about the zipper here – were not letting go and so it had to be done.  I needed to apply fashion triage, save the skirt, and maybe enough of my tights to wear out the door.  I scissored those bad boys out of there stat.

I learned something that day.  It’s a little something I like to call “Fashion Roshambo” whereby instead of rock, scissors, paper the game is played with zipper, scissors and cardboard.  Scissors win.