Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Why Cloudtouched?

So how did I come up with the name of cloudtouched?  It stems from my career actually.  I'm in an IT management position with a fairly large company.  And I'm used to hearing a number of our senior-most leadership talk about the cloud as a platform for everything without having taken the time to describe or define how the cloud is to be leveraged or what are the boundaries of the cloud as they pertain to operations.  And as an IT professional, without requirements, I can't give you a solution.  :)

But when sitting down to come up with a name for this blog, I looked at my career and thought about how I always illustrated the internet, the meta, the cloud in any of my diagrams.  And for those of you who use Microsoft Visio for diagramming technical solutions I'm sure you've just connected A to B.  You always depict the internet as a cloud.

Elegant?  Deep?  Fulfilling?  No, not really.  But I found it appropriate given my experiences.  So I hope you enjoy it.  :)

Monday, May 17, 2010

How to share, instead of what

I've often found myself struggling with the what part of sharing when it comes to the meta.  Lets face it, acceptance is a very strange thing in this medium as it challenges our traditional perceptions of interaction and communications.  But I was recently cracking open a @ChrisBrogan book on Social Media (http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/7555218-social-media-101) and one of the early chapters challenged me on something I hadn't considered.

You see I always had the perception of a blogger as being an authoritative resource in whatever subject they might be sharing.  Perhaps this is naive, but regardless I took it somewhat for granted and applied that concept to myself.  I figured that if I am going to share something via a blog, I had better have the answers.  Why else would someone want to read what I am sharing if I just left things open-ended?

Well I have to admit, I find greater enjoyment in what I read when it challenges me to think about things.  The author doesn't have to know the answer.  And even if they do, are authors more effective when they allow the reader to draw their own conclusions?  Wasn't that what Alfred Hitchcock was more successful in terrifying you with, what you didn't see?  The imagination is powerful.  After all, the mentoring process is about dropping clues and allowing your staff to find their way.

If I am to be successful in this medium, I have to be willing to share those things that I don't know the answer to. And just maybe I need to leave my opinions with me.  Maybe I should wait until you engage me to supply them.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The useful camera

I recently had a conversation with a colleague about something I had read a while back.  The concept of the ready or useful camera.  I have my DSLR, I have a P&S.  But both of those cameras require me to remember to bring them with.  They are a little bulky (or in the case of the DSLR very bulky) to simply carry on me.

However there is a camera that is by my side no matter where I go.  It is the 3 MP camera that is integrated into my smart phone.  I'm making myself a promise to use it more and more.  Seeing a great shot present itself is nothing if you don't have a useful or ready camera at your side.  And with my Blackberry, there is always one there waiting to be used.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

A fun experience with my son

I thought I'd share a recent experience I enjoyed with my 7 year old son.  Both he and I have a number of common interests, but both of us have grown up with Lego in our lives.  These little blocks have been our building blocks to unlock our imaginations and creative desires on more than one occasion, and still to this day are a common interest that serves as an escape and a private place that both my son and I can enjoy together.

Recently my wife picked up the Lego book (http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/6621418), and my son and I sat down to flip through this and its companion book together.  As we leafed through, page by page, we'd stop and point at cool sets, constructions that neither of us had seen before, of at things that would be fun to try and build.  We'd flip through the Star Wars sets and my son would relate stories from the Clone Wars animated series on Cartoon Network.  We'd reach the old castle sets and I'd share with him how I built those as a kid and he'd ooh and ahh at the pieces with a huge grin on his face.  I was wearing the same grin.

So thank you Lego for this trip down nostalgia lane, for this common interest and passion I share with my son.

Thank you leg godt, we do indeed "play well".

Sunday, May 9, 2010

I want my MID

I just envision Dire Straights singing... "I want my meta ID..."  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lAD6Obi7Cag

And yes, I'm listening to the track as I type this...

I want a universal meta ID.  Something that follows me across all social media platforms I chose to consume.  I shouldn't have to log into my blog, twitter, gmail, last.fm, facebook, digg.com, news sites, youtube or any other site with anything other than a single, universal meta ID.

OpenID, Disqus, would one of you get it together?  Tackle the world!  Make those monolithic beasts come to terms with the reality of single sign on?  I want my SSO!  Oova mova!

The notion of SSO is actually not that difficult, and I hope these large social players all embrace the concept.  Take a look at Disqus (http://disqus.com) as an example, your comments can be aggregated to a single repository with a common ID.  Oh and by the way, Disqus links to OpenID.

Hello?  Is there anyone out there?  Sorry, that is a Pink Floyd song.

Anyway, I just want something simple yet elegant.  And the technology is in place.  It just takes these large social platforms to realize that they don't have to be so proprietary.  Someone else has figured out the authentication thing, let them do that.  You just handle the linking.

Then we can all just get along.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Are you engaged?

Ok so maybe I have ranted on this before, but do you ever get the feeling that the art of conversation, and by association actual engagement with other people, lost?  I can't blame the entire notion on the Twitters and Facebooks of the world for facilitating such fragmented communications between people without taking a deeper, and possibly introspective look at the situation.

It seems to me the business normal of the past decade has been to continually do more with less as a result of the negatively trending economic outlook.  And when I look at the social and business interactions I have in the workplace I see the same trend of fragmented communications happening professionally as well as personally, and I do believe this concept was more prevalent earlier in the workplace.  The constructs of work-life balance get thrown out the window, and we kill off those social interactions as a result.

Does the do more with less notion breed this need for fragmentation?  What if we just took a few sparse moments to relate something meaningful about ourselves through what might be perceived as commonplace interactions?

I recently had my one-on-one meeting with a member of my staff and I forced myself to start the conversation off socially, rather than professionally to challenge this notion in a small experiment.  My colleague and I are both hobbyist photographers and we took a journey down that path that was fulfilling in more than one way.  For starters, I think it strengthened the relationship I have with this member of my staff.  The added benefit was that good feeling you get when you have a conversation of substance, it shifted my outlook for the day to the positive.  When you talk about things that inspire you, you cannot help but be inspired again.

The feeling hit when I shared a concept from a photographer that always gets me excited about photography as a medium within to tell a story.  The photographer in questions suggests that one should look at everyday objects which you perceive in your peripheral subconsciously in a different way.  We all go through life with our brain actively perceiving and processing millions of tidbits of information, but we rarely stop to comprehensively process it all.  This would be impossible to do.

Take your daily commute as an example.  You may pass by thousands of cars along your journey from home to place of business.  But what can you recall about them?  Your brain knew they were there, perceived them to be red sports cars, blue sedans, white SUV's, but did you connect with them in any way?  Did anything stand out?  Can you report specifics about any car you didn't follow directly behind?  How about that car you followed?  Probably not.  

The point of this exercise is to look at the stapler on the desk and to visualize and think of a chair, and to do this 10 times a day.  This forces our brain to actually take in what we are looking at and to think about it in a new way, and therefore perceive it in a new way.  The end goal is to correlate this to how you look at a scene and to actively perceive its elements rather than just raise the camera and click.  To think about what you are shooting, the angle, the composition, lighting etc before just snapping the shot.  Perceive through the lens, and within it, not just from behind it.

What struck me about this conversation is why do we not take this same approach more actively with all of the elements of our lives?  Come at them with a fresh perspective?  We all talk about the benefits of the "new eyes" approach and bringing someone in fresh.  At what point did we lose objectivity in subject matters we are supposed to be experts in?  We hide behind the notion of being too busy, which all of us are in some way or another.  But what I want to try to do is become more engaged with those things I take for granted, and that was the message I reminded myself of when relating the story above and through the exercise.  I guess we should stop and smell the roses from time to time, because they can lead us on adventures and give us the means to relate and share stories with other beings in a meaningful way.  In essence the main subject of my story became the lesson that ratified the point of this social exercise.

I have a simple snapshot of my daughter to thank for this conversation and reminder.  My pledge?  Try to start all meetings with something personal.  Just because it is business, doesn't mean the human aspect of social interaction needs to be lost, dismissed or forgotten.  We are after all still humans.  I've been doing this for years in the building of my relationships, but even I forget from time to time.  We are after all still human.  Bring this level of interaction to as many areas of your life as possible, and I'd hazard a guess that the quality of the connections you make increase 10 fold in short order.

We will probably always be challenged to do more with less.  Modern economics and the emerging market trends are telling us this plainly enough.  The notions of work-life balance may be nothing more than a ploy of HR.  I just hope that we can retain the human element amidst this change and not just treat everything like demographics.

And with that, I relinquish my soap box...  For now.