Digital Dalliances

If Only The Dead Knew Facebook

Posted on May 24, 2012. Filed under: Digital Dalliances, Public Relations, Ramblings, Social Media, Society, Sporting life | Tags: , |

Mark Zuckerberg, founder and CEO of Facebook

Mark Zuckerberg, founder and CEO of Facebook (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“I come from a long line of dead people,” novelist Lawrence Block observed via one of his tough-guy detective characters.

No truer words were ever spoken. So far as we know, no person to date has ever lived forever. Candidates are out there – baseball slugger Ted Williams was famously put on cryogenic ice post-mortem, with the hope that science could someday get Teddy Ballgame back into the game of life. And why not. Teddy enjoyed life, loved fishing and if anything can make a person want to live forever, it’s fishing. Better than sex, or at least longer-lasting, plus it’s legal to practice in public.

Forgotten Even By Their Kinfolks

Now I don’t know how all those dead people throughout history, so many of them unsung and totally unknown today — even by their living kin — felt about living lives of ultimate obscurity. Quite possibly, most of them never gave it much thought. For all the Julius Caesars, Cleopatras and Charlemagnes of history, there were millions – nay, billions – more who never achieved much more recognition than an ant.

Would that have changed if Facebook had been around in ancient Roman times? What would those Facebook pages have been like – would the people, the men and women in the Roman street, have been so diligent in posting the daily details of their private lives into the public databanks of Facebook I? One can only speculate. And if so, what would they have said?

Heard On The Ancient Roman Street

“Giancarlo is off fighting the Goths on the northern front today. Lions mauled the Christians today in the Colosseum. What a spectacular finish by Mario in the featured chariot race last night. Luigi’s is having a special on clams today. Ran into Ovid on the Appian Way this morning, he was out for his usual morning jog…we chatted about the weather – too hot! — and the inflation rate — too high! My tooth aches this morning. Anybody know any good dentists in south Rome? Saw Brutus at Alfonso’s Sporting Goods store this afternoon – he was checking out knives. Here’s a picture of me and my family at our barbecue last weekend, it was finger-lickin’ good. I hear there’s an orgy tonight at the Campesino Club, who else is planning to attend? How about them Lions? I like Rafael’s House of Furniture. We’re taking our vacation on the Riviera this year, we leave next week. Am I the only one who wishes that Cicero would shut his mouth? Anybody know any good restaurants in Naples? I’ve got to go there for business next week. Avoid walking near the Tiber downtown – it really stinks this time of year.”

And so forth.

That Was Then, This Is The Now Of Facebook

Fast forward 2,000 years, to a time and place – well, any place since we live in such a globally connected world today — and the citizenry, well, the citizenry is chitter-chattering away all over the Internet. Facebook. Twitter. Tumbl’r. Pinterest. WordPress. YouTube. It’s a communicative cornucopia, a frenzy of engagement of epic proportions. Digital dynasties emerge overnight – Pinterest, for God’s sake? Where was Pinterest five years ago? Big Data is on the rise. (Lesser data, such as newspapers, are crumbling into oblivion however.) Lady Gaga is more famous than Cleopatra, Walter Winchell has been replaced by TMZ and hardly anyone reads Ovid anymore.

But the people of the Facebook street, a billion or so strong, they are making up for humanity’s time lost in historical obscurity. Just think, 2,000 years from now, assuming the robot class hasn’t assumed dominance over the clamoring masses, people of that time will likely be plumbing the digital archives of the early years of the Third Millennium for clues into what life was like for the 21st century ancients. What a wealth of data they will have to draw upon, assuming they’re interested. Who knows? By then, history might really have ended for all time, replaced by what we know not – since we who live today belong to a specific historical period. Perhaps Teddy Ballgame will re-emerge from the cryogenic crypt to instruct the 41st century masses in the fine art of whacking a baseball.

So the next time you go to tell your Facebook followers what’s on your mind, just remember: you’re teeing it up for history. You just might want to keep that 41st century savant in mind.

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An HTML Line Not To Be Crossed

Posted on March 1, 2012. Filed under: Digital Dalliances, Public Relations, Sporting life | Tags: , , , |

Manhole Cover Brick Sidewalk Lines Geometry

Working with website coding this morning. It’s a difficult process, one in which I’m self-taught.

Today, I’m struggling with how to put in a new horizontal line on my pages. I want to standardize one across all pages, so I’m working with CSS. You wouldn’t think it would be that difficult. A solitary line, extending across the page — I wanted this one to be inserted just below the box that contains my site navigation links — seems simple.

I started with my home page — the one that goes by the name of “index.htm”.

A Line Too Far

But no, when I opened the new page, I lost the horizontal formatting on my navigation section. The links now lined up in vertical list fashion. Terrible. Not what I wanted at all. So I looked at the CSS page to see if I’d done something wrong. Couldn’t find any errors there. Looked at the code behind the page itself, and it seemed fine. But no go.

Need A Virtual Pencil

By this time I’d saved the page, so all the changes were set in stone. Whatever had happened was beyond my immediate ken. So I took a look at another page, unsullied by my recent changes. And there it was. A piece of critical code was missing from my home page. Washed away somehow by that simple act of adding a horizontal line.

Twenty minutes of head-scratching, and now I was back to Square One.

Oh, well.

Some fast web research revealed that there is really nothing simple about coding a horizontal line for a website. One site of particular merit was that of Chris Hope and his Electric Toolbox. It’s near unbelievable that creating a line could be this daunting — it’s just a line, for God’s sake. A pencil and a ruler is all you need to draw a line on a sheet of paper. Lines have been around since at least the time of Aristotle. Nothing new about the line. And yet, this particularly line danced havoc with my website.

Now I think I’ll run down to the local coffee-house and get in line for a steaming hot cup of java.

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Shouting Fire In A Crowded Room

Posted on February 11, 2011. Filed under: Digital Dalliances, Public Relations, Public Relations Commentary, Social Media | Tags: , , , , , |

Truman Capote, as photographed by Roger Higgin...

Truman Capote, photographed by Roger Higgins

Never shout “fire” in a crowded room – unless there actually is a fire, of course.

That’s an axiom we’ve all grown up with, and yet, it seems to be pretty much useless as an admonition in a digital world driven by fire-shouters.

Just today, as every online day, I’ve seen a Tweet or two alluding to some set of “essential” things I need to know about this, that and the other thing. All of which are aimed at making me feel as if I’m an inadequate marketer unless I quick grab hold of the mouse and click on over to the poster’s page of invaluable, nay business- and reputation-saving, tips. It’s all about garnering attention, certainly, and I can understand that – in the battle for share of the digital marketing mind, all is fair.

But I as a client, assuming I were a client, would not be much in a mood for getting much work done if I spent the livelong day chasing down every hot new lead purporting to clue me in on what’s missing in my marketing strategies.

The Chattering Seas…

Since I am both client and client-seeker, in my business life mind you, I am sorry to say that on certain days it just seems as if I’m adrift in a sea of mind-addling marketing teases. That’s the time I spend online, exposed to the Twitter medium, for example – a medium that I abuse, no question about it, and much to my chagrin. Because when you get right down to it, there is a lot of essentially non-essential information floating about hither and thither under the guise of essentiality.

Which is not to say it’s not good information. People dispense with an abundance of good information all the time via the social media platforms. But separating out what’s essential versus what’s only good, therein lies a challenge of epic proportions. But that’s only half the challenge, and indeed the lesser half as it stands. The better half of the challenge, the more Herculean aspect, is to know how to rein in one’s curiosity, it seems to me.

What Would Pliny Say?

Because the Internet is a world of wonders for those with a yen for the new. There’s always something new out of the Internet, to piggyback off the statement that Pliny the Elder made re: Africa some years back. The trick, it seems, for me, and perhaps a few others, is to try and figure out how to enjoy and even benefit from this world of endless inspiration, entertainment and edification without going crazy. I’m reminded of the comment once made about Truman Capote, how he in his years after writing In Cold Blood mostly abandoned the writing craft and became a magazine addict. Better than an opium addict chez Coleridge, perhaps, but still not highly conducive to the pursuit of personal productivity.

So there you have it. Resolved, here and now, to be a better, more conscientious consumer of digital goods.

How to do it? Perhaps I’ll write on that later on. Maybe even put together a series of essential tip sheets on how to make the most of your Internet experience.

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