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Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy New Year's 2013 - A Look Back and a Hope

In just a few short hours, the famed Tiffany Crystal Ball will descend down a flagpole in a crowded Times Square,New York with a countdown echoed lodly both in Times Square and in living rooms across the eastern seabord.  At the stroke of midnight, 2013 will be ushered in and we will speend the first few minutes and perhaps the day ahead with close loved ones.

2012 has been a year many of us will be happy to see gone.  This fall saw the devesatation brought on by Hurricane Sandy in the New York-New Jersey area.  I am particularly grateful that my home saw some superficial damage and the inconvenience of a lack of power for a two week period.
Other neghibors were not so lucky and even today and in the future weeks and months, the work will continue to repair and rebuild in many local communities.

2012 also saw a continuation of mindless gun violence in the USA.  As I noted a few posts back, when I began my blog, my first blogpost concerned the shooting of Representative Kathy Giffords of Arizona.  2012 was a year when this violence spread to movie theatres and schools.  A simple solution will be difficult to achieve but hopefully in 2013 our leaders can join together to reduce the amount of dangerous weapons and evaluate how they can be left in the most resposible hands.

The amount of mindless violence is somehting we all need to take a stand against.  In simple, quiet ways we can all make a difference.  There is no cost to kindness.  In my opinion we all must work towards a forgiving and just society.  That will be my pledge as I enter into 2013.  I want this world to be a better place for my young children and it has grown cold and coarse for too long now. 

As we close out 2012, let us all strive to make a difference in our communities.  I am reminded of a little prayer from St Francis of Assisi:

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.

Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury,pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. Amen

My best wishes to you, my readers, for a happy and healthy year in 2013.  I thank you for finding me and look forward to hearing back from each and everyone so please leave me a message.


St. Francis of Assisi - Jusepe de Ribera

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Book Review: The Zen of Social Media Marketing: An Easier Way to Build Credibility, Generate Buzz, and Increase Revenue (2013) by Shama Kabani

The last several years have seen an explosion in the amount of social media use both by businesss and individuals.  It has easily moved well past any novelty phase and is now an essential tool for marketing communications, personal development and in the instance during the "Arab Spring of 2011", social media can contribute towards the toppling of entrenced dictatorial governments.

I recently was presented with an advance copy of The Zen of Social Media Marketing: An Easier Way to Build Credibility, Generate Buzz, and Increase Revenue by Shama Kabani in order to provide a review to the readers of my blog.

I began a blog in January 2011 in order to have forum where I could opine, on a fairly regular basis, about current events, sports, politics, education and other topics I wanted to share or spark some debate with my readers.  Also, I wanted to develop a new skill set I could someday use as I teach with my students in the 21st Century Classroom.  During those formative months as I built my blogsite and added assorted elements on the pages I came upon this book in its 2010 edition.  I was particularly interested in Ms. Kabani's chapter on Twitter.  At that time I had begun to use Twitter regularly and preferred it over Facebook which I viewed more as a "friends and family" place.

In fact, I remember that I began following Ms. Kabani immediately after reading that chapter.  I also began developing a Personal Learning Network on Twitter consisting of teachers and administrators to develop and network myself in my new career as a Teacher here on Long Island.

Ms. Kabani's book is a necessary tool for all readers who wish to increase their knowledge base about social media and how to use it as an effective tool to incorporate it into their business communications strategy, non-profit marketing or in developing their own personal brand.  I appreciated the updated content and the new chapter on Google+ as well as the overview on Social Advertising with its overview on Groupon and Facebook ads. 

Ms. Kabani's new edition provides a thorough description of Search Engine Optimization and it will aid those readers seeking a targeted audience for their product or service.  In my experience, it explains the large number of views I received and still receive for a blogpost made in the spring of this year when I worked on building a baseball card tabletop as it continues to be viewed consistently as it shows up on  search engines by using several vital keywords. 

Finally, video and its use on the web is given a whole chapter investigation.  From someone who made a few attempts with an audio podcast on his blog, video is one of those things I would eventually use on my blogsite.  These examples are just the tip of the iceberg as far as the amazing amount of information provided.  I highly recommend this book The Zen of Social Media Marketing: An Easier Way to Build Credibility, Generate Buzz, and Increase Revenue by Shama Kabani as a vital tool and reference to add to your business/personal development arsenal. 

In closing remember, the word Zen is derived from the Japanese pronunciation of the Middle Chinese word Dzyen, which in turn is derived from the Sanskrit word dhyāna, which can be approximately translated as "absorption" or "meditative state".  Absorbing the wealth of information provided in this book will not be too daunting and your application of the knowledge provided will make truely make you a "Dalai Lama" of social media marketing. 

***** Highly Recommended

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Like a Phoenix...

"I read the news today oh, boy."
The Beatles - A Day in the Life

This blog post is a reflection on the tragic events which took place this past Friday, December 17th in Newtown, Connecticut: the senseless massacre of 27 individuals, 20 of whom were children no older than my own son.

I started this blog in January of 2011 as an educator focused on using technology and experimenting with the medium but also as a platform to express comment and debate regarding current events.  One of my earliest posts was a discussion of the shooting of Congresswoman Kathy Giffords of Arizona.  It's sad to me that  almost two years since then the American public has been witness to more displays of gun violence in malls, movie theatres and houses of worship.

It seems in my lifetime, 1970's onward, the proliferation of guns has had a hamrful effect on our society.  My opening quote from the Beatles was written by John Lennon, another victim of gun violence in 1980 here in New York City.  The news I read today was terribly sad.  The innocent children had their whole lives ahead of them.  Despite the overall tragedy of this sad event, the actions of the slain principal and teachers, as well as the actions of the survivors, showed the personification of the words selflessness and bravery as they defended their children from harm.  As an educator, their example is one I will take back to my classroom in the days, months and years ahead.  I also offer my prayers to the families of the victims and to the survivors as they begin the healing process.  That road towards healing will be arduous and there are no easy remedies which will heal the pain and suffering Newtown is feeling. 

However, if there is any good that might come out of this tragedy perhaps it can follow these two tracks.  First, there must be a concerted collective will of the citizens to have "rational" discussion on the accessibility and need for semi-automatic guns.  I respect our Constitution and I respect the 2nd Amendment.  I don't want to see any of our rights reduced or repealed but our founding fathers did not envision the sheer firepower of today's arms.  Is it a necessity for the individual to have this kind of firepower?  For what use would the individual have the need for such arms?  These are just two questions I would ask gun manufacteurs and gun enthusiasts. 

Second, without getting specific on the recent perpetrators of gun violence, it seems that there is a similar script in play everytime: the lone nut.   Access to weapons for these individuals must be restricted.  Also, mental health services should be promoted and provided to these indivduals.  Also, I am astounded that no family members noticed or even kept an eye on some of these individuals before they acted out with such destructive force.  What does that say about the current state of families?

Like the mythical bird the Phoenix, thru this tragedy perhaps a rebirth from the ashes of a great tragedy can take place.  One where we as a citizenry demand a stop to the incessant and  mindless gun violence.  One where we as educators can ensure our children a safe learning environment. In this holy Christmas-Hanukkah-Kwanzaa season, let the light shine as a refuge for those mired in the dark and feeling hopeless.