Today I’m working on taxes for our two college students’ FAFSAs and watching “Abstract: The Art of Design” on Netflix in the background. Christoph Niemann is both in his story and telling his story about craft and life. He is a character and an animated person with his character . . . and a voice.
Two of his statements struck me about the work I’m doing now on career and vocation exploration.
First: “Creating a process to do it allows you to do unembarrassing stuff on command is the only way you can survive . . . if you create an armor of craft around you.” This makes sense from other work on creativity and boundary-setting. We often can do better regular, daily work in creative spaces if we set hard edges around the work and create routine. Having the skills and letting them work in focused settings then lets creative work have a place to build.
Yet Second: “The one thing that is dangerous about working on your craft and the world around you is that it can keep you from asking the really valid questions . . . what is the real thing I’m trying to get good at?”
Intriguing question. It isn’t “what am I good at?” It is a sense of becoming in terms of craft, in terms of skills. What stands in my way to “trying to get good at” something? Fear? Practice? Focus? Direction?
I just went to a friend’s 55th birthday party last night, and we told stories of how old we were from when we all met decades ago. Travel and children were our benchmarks in the time road. “How are things?” “Great — I’m planning a trip to South Korea.” Is how we are doing a postcard or Facebook post about the event-based measures?
The party was at an improv club, which added an oddly critical narrative layer to our gathering. They quizzed the birthday girl about her daily life and then created an exaggerated parody of her life as a humorous struggle with time and interaction with others. It broke away pieces of an interaction and circular time life.
None of us in our stories of the evening told stories of Becoming.
Two nights ago I had the honor of talking about the social impact of technology on music with a private group in Century City. People stayed for hours, talking about our shared Becoming through streaming music’s transformation. We talked about the Becoming from our work in the world — and continuing the conversation afterwards.
How do we talk about Becoming with others? With ourselves? Can we get caught up in so many of our busy metrics with time in a busy personal framing that we (and I) lose track of our shared Becoming stories?
In older days, I would Google myself to see how I surfaced. That’s not just an ego thing — I found many strange things attributed to me. I research myself, or at least my professional reach.
In current days, there are tools that help me “research myself” using visualization tools.
I’m sharing two here:
InMaps from LinkedIn Labs
(revision: This tool is no longer available.)
I have a lot of LinkedIn connections. LinkedIn says 500+; it is a lot more than that.
LinkedIn Labs provides Inmaps, an intriguing tool to visually map the inter-connectivity of your Connections. It gives you a color coded interconnected visual that you need to figure the connections out for yourself.
Here is mine, updated to today:
The labels on the bottom left are provided by color code, and you can roll over each of the dots to see who each person is. You then can extrapolate for yourself the nature of the connections that are influencing the color codes. The Green on the bottom left, for example, are many of my friends from Fielding Graduate University in educational research, who are some distance away from my Blue friends on the bottom right, who mostly are digital media professional acquaintances from the past decade plus. LinkedIn has a good video from 2011 on how to use this tool on YouTube here.
There are many tools to look at Twitter. I have (at least) two Twitter “handles”: @maremel and @gigijohnson. I try to use @maremel for industry trend information and new Maremel programs and projects. @gigijohnson, on the other hand, is for more perspective comments. I have faded with both into retweeting articles I enjoy, and I can see that in my own casual observation.
SocialBro lets me take this a little further. I can break my Twitter followers into a wide variety of categories, including how often they Tweet and how stale their Tweets are or how many influencers follow them. Here’s a partial visualization of Twitter followers with larger followings who follow @maremel, as well as below that a tag cloud of what types of words Followers use in their bios:
I pay for the service about $7/month; price is related to the volume of followers you are analyzing. It also can track the overlap between your followers and other third-party accounts. I use the tool to analyze similar companies to various clients and partners to see who are combined influencers and who might be intriguing to start to follow or converse with in the Twittersphere.
What other visualization tools do you use to spy on your social self?
Dr. Gigi Johnson shared five (5) steps to both grow and simplify how we can use abundant data to make better daily and strategic decisions. She addressed questions such as: How can I use the data that I can get now at a reasonable price with reasonable use of time to help my work thrive? How can I find ways to SAVE time and energy around data? How can I have the right data when I need it for decisions? and Can I create systems and structures to make this daunting task a little simpler?
We’re building new short-form classes here at the Maremel Institute (and join our email list to find out more about the upcoming schedule). One that so far is in high demand is on Social Listening, the arts of using social media for business intelligence not just on big trends, but also on where unique conversations are going on that align with your work and message.
We tend to start at the middle when sometimes we need to start at the beginning.
Some of us at Maremel have been setting a non-profit organization up for cloud-based collaboration. To get them all on the same page, we helped them move their shared work documents to Google Docs.
Movement screeched to a halt. Quite a few group members needed a tutorial-style boost into Google Docs — just the basics to get started — though did not raise their hand directly that they didn’t understand the basics.
This need prompted us to return to the web for inspiration. We took a look at the currently available tools online to understand Google Docs from scratch. We hope this might be helpful for some folks who might not be comfortable otherwise getting started by trial and error.