Saturday, April 30, 2016

Lotus in the Mud: Lessons for Happiness in Social Media

Via Abraham Morales on Flickr

This was a pretty crazy week on Social Media with posts running the gamut from shocking and depressing to good-natured fun to "feel-good" and uplifting.  Just as I felt myself feeling dragged down by the online cruelty and hate I found some fun and beautiful posts that brought hope and happiness.

A lot has been written about the potential of social media for learning and education but the fear that one slip can become a huge career-changing faux pas puts many caveats on this potential.  The perceived anonymity, the endless seeking of superficial likes and retweets and viral nature of the medium, have contributed to the rise of a culture of mobs and bullying by hordes.

The week started with a post on NY Times about the YouTube video of two female sports journalists who fought back against their harassers. The only way to be able to watch even part of the video was by thinking about the courage of these two amazing people and ignoring the mindless, hateful comments.

And then the terrible story of a young man in a NFL draft (the lottery for a lucky few who survive the unpaid commercial exploitation that is NCAA football).  While I don't know anything about this particular person - his skills, his character, his background - the story was gut-wrenching.  Someone apparently got access to his Twitter account and posted a video of him smoking cannabis via a "Bong" device, which is something like a hookah.  This was done just before the draft and led to several teams skipping him and choosing someone else.  While there are many perspectives on this, the episode captures the hate, jealousy and power of the medium and the huge risks it brings.

But as the week went on, there was something better - this story via Buzzfeed.  An embarrassing photo of a firefighters rescuing a group of police officers stuck in an elevator.  Apparently 12 tactical team officers got on an elevator - they exceeded the weight limit- and the elevator got stuck.  The firefighters before they rescued them took a photo and there was some good-natured banter back and forth on Twitter.
Image via @Gregg Favre  
And this morning I woke up this post from the POTUS and FLOTUS helping Prince Harry increase awareness of the Invictus Games which uses the power of rehab sports to help injured servicemen/women in the road to recovery.


It was great to see these last two posts because in a big way they helped overcome the negative feelings generated by the first two.  The positive feeling helped restore faith that the medium can be used for good and fun.
While  we have read about studies regarding mood disorders and depression caused by Facebook it is good to think about the key factors in happiness:

  1. Good social relationships (belonging)
  2. Spending a part of your day doing things that you are good at and passionate about (mastery) and
  3. Having autonomy and freedom to make life decisions (autonomy)
 - and this excellent piece in The Atlantic shared by Eric Warm  on Twitter helped start off the weekend.  The article summarizes an interview with Raj Raghunathan the author of "If you are so smart why aren't you happy?"  He advocates for the Abundance-minded approach to life vs. the Scarcity-minded approach, 
"One extreme is a kind of scarcity-minded approach, that my win is going to come at somebody else's loss, which makes you engage in social comparisons. And the other view is what I would call a more abundance-oriented approach, that there's room for everybody to grow".


He then goes on to talk about the dispassionate pursuit of passion,
"...basically the concept boils down to not tethering your happiness to the achievement of outcomes"
"Ultimately, what we need in order to be happy is at some level pretty simple. It requires doing something that you find meaningful, that you can kind of get lost in on a daily basis". 
To cap it all was the terrific NPR story of students reporting on their teacher -  and the most important rule of her class - BE KIND!

Hope the Twitterverse is listening to her!

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Hottest stocking stuffer this holiday season?

Google Cardboard, the under $10 device that allows you to experience virtual reality with you smartphone is my selection for the most popular gift this year. 

Everyone who sees it gets a big smile on their face followed by, "Oh my gosh" or "How does this work?" Or "Wow!"  

By leveraging the smartphone which already has a chip, accelerometer, GPS, hi-res display and app stores, Google has hit a home run almost like Chromecast. The price cannot hurt either. 

So what can you do with it?
1.  The Cardboard app has a some great use cases highlighted by the demo video. This is a great place to start. 
2.   VR reality apps like roller coaster experiences
3.   The palace of Versailles is a great example of a virtual tour guide. 
4.   Collection of great photospheres in the updated Google Street View app  I loved the Sagrada Familia and Machu  Pichu. 
5.  The NY times app (NYT VR) with its great refugee camp story and the incredible Mini Cooper memories video. 
6.  Watch 360 degree videos on YouTube (Android only for now). You can find this on the #360 Video channel. The resolution of these videos is nowhere near the NYT app
7.   The most crazy thing was seeing my own street in Google Streetview.  It was almost like standing there on the street looking at my house but I was playing with this inside the house.  The clash of RL and VR took my breath away for a second. The only thing that prevented it from being perfect was the Streetview was shot in the height of summer and right now it is the fall with almost no leaves left. 

It was a great experience and it is just the start of the journey. Looking forward to some great applications of this technology except we will probably see a spate of 3D selfies. 


Saturday, August 1, 2015

Making sense of Wi-Fi Sense - Different implications of Home vs. Business!

With the roll out of Windows 10, the feature that is ruffling the most feathers is Wi-Fi sense.

What is Wi-Fi Sense? 

Wi-Fi Sense lets you "automatically" share your password to access Internet using your router with a "friend". Before you get all hot and bothered, there are a few caveats:

  • You have to first tell Windows 10 that you do want to share that particular router's information
  • You then have to select which group of contacts (outlook, skype or Facebook) will be able to get this information
  • The contacts have to have a Windows 10 device
  • The password that is shared is encrypted
  • The contact cannot share the connection information with their contacts without knowing the actual password - which they don't because it is encrypted.
  • They cannot connect with Wi-Fi Sense unless they themselves as shared one of their own connections.

What does this all mean in practical terms?

Setting 1 - Home

The most likely setting is when you have a friend visiting your home and needs Internet access.

Scenario 1.
If the following four conditions are met:
  1. They have a Windows 10 device
  2. They have WiFi Sense turned on and are sharing one of their own connections
  3. You have WiFi Sense turned on and are sharing you own Internet connection
  4. They are in your Outlook.com or Skype or FB contact lists
Then they will be automatically connected to the Internet without asking you for the password.
They will not be able to share this information with their own contacts (unless those contacts are also your contacts in one of the three groups listed above).
WiFi Sense options in Windows 10

Thus this scenario does not pose much of a concern for me.

Scenario 2.
There is the alternative scenario that is more bothersome.  Suppose you did NOT turn on WiFi Sense.  Then they will have to ask you for the password.  Often you will just tell them the password or write it down for them.  If they have a Windows 10 device, they can now share this information with their contacts.  This is because they just need to know you password when they elect to share the connection information.

So my suggestion:
If a friend has a Windows 10 device, do one of two things
  1. Turn on WiFi Sense so they get an encrypted password.  The conditions listed above in Scenario 1. would still need to be met.  OR a lot simpler:
  2. Offer to type in the password for them (without them seeing it) on their device and select
    'Not shared'.  If they ever want to turn sharing on, they will be asked for the password which they will not have.  

Setting 2 - Small Business


Now take a different setting - a small business for example
They could actually turn WiFi Sense on and tell people to connect with them on Facebook.
If they do, they would automatically get free WiFi!
This might become a great marketing tool once Windows 10 becomes more ubiquitous.
Of course the person would need to have to use their own Internet access to connect to Facebook first and then they would be able to get WiFi through the small business or they could have added them on Facebook ahead of time.
I am not sure if this would work right now for FB pages or just for FB friends.  But with this does seem quite possible in the not too distant future.