WordPress WordCamp

After last weekend’s workshops, I felt a swift kick in the pants about my blogging habits. I realized I need to up my game and move from amateur status to pro. I’ve been dabbling and I need to commit.

In the workshop, “Triple Your Post Frequency,” Andraz Tori of Zemanta said blogging is like working out — You need to make it a habit, break a sweat, and sometimes hire a coach.

The workshops opened my eyes to the number and variety of people working with WordPress, our blogging home. A ton of hat-wearing dudes and chicks are using WordPress as a platform to develop websites. (I love the word platform, I always think of the public park district pool and the platform from which I jumped (and others dove) into a cool summer pool.)

The pre-party for WordPress WordCamp speakers and organizers at the Mad Hatter.

My workshop was on the topic of Social Media and Social Movements. When I saw my time slot, 9:30 am, I worried that it was too early to get enough activists to make the workshop lively – as I’d built in time for small-group discussion.

Thankfully, about a dozen bloggers showed up — including Ron Suarez, an Occupy Wall Streeter.and Yangbo Du, a global social media guru.

At the end of my workshop, a bunch of people started trickling in. Cool! Had word gotten out through Twitter how much fun we were having? How awesome my workshop was? No, Frederick Townes, lead techy for Mashable, was speaking in the room after me and people were jockeying for a good seat.

No matter. I’ve committed to posting more regularly. I am going to post on this blog every Sunday and post on MBCoudal My Rules every Friday. And then post on My Beautiful New York and Health and Fitness whenever the spirit moves me.

Because, much as I try, I cannot schedule or legislate my creativity. My muses are wild; they cannot be tamed.

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Workshop on WordPress

One of my New Year’s resolutions was to be viewed as an expert. So I have been teaching a lot since January. Teaching is a great way to find out how much you know and how much you still need to learn.

I’ve been teaching middle school kids comedy and creative writing. Beth Buchanan (on the right) and I’ve taught communicators social media skills at the Religion Communicators Council and at the United Methodist Association of Communicators. (I love team teaching — much less stressful than solo teaching.)

Me and Beth Buchanan. She’s my social media guru. Because of Beth, I got on Facebook and it’s been all downhill from there.

My next (solo) teaching gig is at Word Camp at Baruch College in New York City from June 9 to 10. The title of my workshop is “Social Media and Social Movements.”

My session, one of 80, is hands-on — perfect for beginners, non-techie types, and people devoted to a cause. But there are a lot of workshops that are geared to people who love ideas like digital marketing, shared hosting, HTML5, and hyperlocal. (Attend this conference to find out what those terms mean. What’ve you got to lose? It’s $35.)

I love WordPress for being my landing page — a place to post my resolutions and then achieve them. And along the way, help others to become experts too.

Keep It Brief

For greatest impact, when writing a blog post:

  1. Say it simply. “Hello.”
  2. Then get out. “I must be going.”
  3. Use short sentences. “Just do it.”
  4. Keep the words to one syllable. “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.” – Ronald Reagan
  5. Use short, punchy sentences. “In modern war… you will die like a dog for no good reason.” – Ernest Hemingway

Maybe this is why Twitter is so fun. I have to be lean in my writing. I have to convey a lot with just a little — 140 characters.

I love Twitter. I love its brevity. I love getting to know a person just from their short status updates. The man who says good morning from Japan, the woman who lists what everyone’s reading, the writer who posts opening lines for short stories.

I like to skate on the surface and sometimes click on the link and go deeper.

But sometimes — like right now, there’s not enough time to go deep.

This photo has nothing to do with the post. I took it at Bossey Ecumenical center in Switzerland.

There’s profundity in simplicity. So keep it brief.

Hello. I must be going.

Social Media Mania

I’ve been trying to post on one of my blogs every day for the month of June. Yesterday I was dragging. I didn’t have anything to say, couldn’t come up with a good idea, had too many social occasions to attend. One of those occasions was our monthly Lunch and Learn workshop which is a venue for our brilliant Communications staff to share their expertise.

At yesterday’s lunch, Beth Buchanan of the web team gave an awesome Prezi.com session. The title? Social Media Mania. It inspired and informed the two dozen of us there, half of us experts (ahem! like moi?) and half beginners (moi aussi!). After Beth’s session, I felt energized to get through my slog of a daily blog.

Here are a few take-aways from Beth.

Beth's profile pic!

How do we get into social media?

  1. Sign in
  2. Listen
  3. Engage
  4. Evaluate

I’m not particularly good at Numbers 2 and 4, but I am going to be!

Buchanan emphasized a few best practices for social media. Such as “Do onto others as you would have them do unto you.” In other words, think before posting.

Social media is a conversation, not a monologue, she said. So don’t swamp people with your point of view without taking an interest in theirs.

Another novel concept — and why haven’t I thought of this? — Have a social media strategy and make it work for you. To get thinking about this, start with the question, Who is my audience? (How am I supposed to know!)

I loved some of Beth’s quotes (and did tweet them during the session), like this one: “You establish who you are by what you post.”

On Twitter, Beth said if you’re tweeting for a company — for every three business posts, include one personal post. Duh! I microblog on Twitter for New World Outlook magazine @NWOMag and for myself @MaryBethC but I don’t cross-over; personal is personal and business is business. But I’ll try to cross-pollinate, just like Beth Buchanan, the social media maven at Global Ministries, does. Thanks, Beth! @BJBuc and @connectNmission !

Beth is the friend and colleague who got me started on blogging, Facebook and Twitter. And now there’s no stopping me! At least for the month of June!

Oh No, My Mother Just Joined LinkedIn

My mother just requested to join my network. What should I do? Soon she’ll be telling me to change my profile picture, get a hair cut, rewrite my status update, stop cursing. (I tell my son that last one!)

On the other hand, I may need a job recommendation and we have worked together. Seriously. I was a guest lecturer in her college classroom. And she’d be there if I needed her. It’d be a way for us to be linked if our phones went down.

I’m not sure. I’ve just felt that social media was my realm, my playground. And I’m doing great without her. I’m growing up, Ma.

I know Facebook is not far behind. Facebrag has a competitive edge. Who has the cutest kids? The most friends? The wittiest comments? Me, Joanne Woodward, Lou Stellato.

Yes, she’d get to see a lot more photos of her grandkids. And read a lot more of my writing, including this post. So I better stop writing now.

I do write to be read. And I do love my mother. So, yes I’ll accept her request to connect to my network on LinkedIn. After all, their tagline is: Relationships matter. Yes, they do. Especially the online relationships between parent and child.

More Friends

I’ve been trying to drive up my number of Facebook friends to surpass 1,000.  I believe the more friends you have, the more you achieve.

There are studies to bear this out. UCLA researchers studied LA high school students and discovered More school friends?=better grades. I like to think that the study goes for more adult friends too. More work friends?=better work.

Journal of Research on Adolescence — adolescents with more in-school friends than out-of-school friends had higher grade-point averages and — complementing this finding — that those with higher GPAs had more in-school friends. (from http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/06/100603172221.

It fits in beautifully with my Rules for Happiness #1 — Pile on the People. http://mbcoudal.wordpress.com/2011/05/23/pile-on-people-and-activities/

The key for me is to draw the circle wide. My friends are varied in status, age, race, gender.

I learned a long time ago, especially as a writer, that the person to befriend is not the CEO but the CEO’s assistant. He or she is the one who really knows what’s going on and can get you the good story.

I love that FB has made the word friend a verb as well as a noun. It’s no secret that I’m in love with social media, especially blogging on WordPress.

One of my real (and FB) friends mentioned that she’s concerned that by blogging we’re creating a false sense of intimacy. Maybe it’s true we reveal a little too much of ourselves. I’m not sure — to figure out what I think about this, I’ll have to talk it over with one of my friends. Or maybe I’ll just instant message them.

Blogging — Going A Different Way

On Faith

I love how easy it is to change directions on WordPress. I changed the name of A Church A Day blog to My Rules http://mbcoudal.wordpress.com/ when I realized visiting a church a day was too much of a commitment. (Although I just won a journalism award for that blog, so I will probably go back to A Church A Day when the kids go to camp this summer.) I also want to stick to My Rules because I want to be accountable to the 7 life rules I made up for myself.

On Fitness

I changed the focus of my running blog http://runningaground.wordpress.com/ to health when I found out I had basal cell cardinoma. But I still love the idea and name of Running Aground. I am logging, blogging, slogging my way to fitness.

On Writing

I changed this blog https://gettingmyessayspublished.wordpress.com/ to The Connected Life — a much better title than Getting My Essays Published. At first, this blog had a private setting because I wanted to keep track of where I was sending my essays and where they were, or were not, getting published. It seemed a personal and boring endeavor, the pursuit of publication. But then I wanted to comment on so many things about social media. I’m not really in love with this blog’s URL or the name. It’s kinda meh.

On NYC

My favorite of my blog titles is My Beautiful New York. This is the only title I haven’t changed since I started almost two years ago. I still love the name My Beautiful New York.

The title says what a blog title should say: Here’s something delicious. Here’s what I’m passionate about — or at least musing on. For a few months My Beautiful New York was mostly pictures downloaded from my phone.

When I post and want to refer back to an earlier post, I sometimes wonder Which blog did I write that for? Then I Google MBCoudal and a tag. 

And then there are times I wonder which blog to post on — should I post my musings on My Beautiful New York or My Rules? Like those several posts about the sidewalk art. They seemed like quintessential New York stories, but ultimately, I decided they had more to do with an epiphany or synchronicity. And that jibes more with My Rules.

Also there is this questing of PostADay2011, posting every day of 2011. The tag PostADay2011 is getting too big in my clouds. It’s dwarfing my other tags, so I’m going to have to untag PostADay2011.

I’d do it now, but I’m going to watch a movie with my kids. I love my kids even more than I love blogging. I do love blogging, especially because you can change their names. Kids? Not so much.

A Message from Judy Blume

There was a message on Twitter from Judy Blume to me. My breath caught in my throat.

I had been walking on Broadway for 30 minutes, heading to work yesterday morning. I stopped to check my phone. I was super excited to read what she, one of my heroes and the author of Are You There God? It’s Me Margaret, wrote to me.

See, on Monday I’d written to Ms. Blume:

@judyblume we have a mother daughter bookclub in #nyc Could you stop by #uws Sun, June 4? we are reading #Deenie THANKS SO MUCH!

Ms. Blume’s message said, “– love mother/daughter book clubs but won’t be NY then. Say hi to readers for me. Parental expectations-should be interesting.”

So I emailed the “Hi!”  from the great author to the mothers and daughters in our book group. And now I pass on Ms. Blume’s hello to you, blog readers. And rest assured, we will discuss parental expectations — and much more — at our next book group!!!

Happy Reading, everyone! (Here’s my post from our first mother/daughter book club https://gettingmyessayspublished.wordpress.com/2011/03/29/mother-daughter-book-club/. )

Huff Po Editor Talks About AOL Merger

Alana B. Elias Kornfeld, the Living section editor at Huffington Post, told the Religion Communicators Council yesterday she is not sure how the AOL-Huff Po merger will play out.

But she does know that some trends will definitely remain worthy of reportage — like the green movement and our need to unplug.

I find it ironic — and cool — that a plugged-in website advocates unplugging from the web. Don’t get me wrong. I’m a fan of living off the grid. I renamed this blog The Connected Life because I’m trying to connect more to family and friends through face time rather than Facebook time.

On religion, Kornfeld said Huffington Post is not interested in religion — as in the politics of religion — but in religion — as in providing a “Space that gives rise to an inspired experience.”

I’m a fan of share and inspired experiences. And a lot of people are fans of Huffington Post — 56 million unique visitors per month and they’re expecting at least 200 mill more with the AOL merger. Kornfeld said that AOL has a loyal brand following, while Huff Po has substantive content. Nice when big brand marries big content!

I am a fan of Alana’s. And of Arianna’s. I met Arianna a long time ago and kinda knew she was going places.

I love what Arianna’s been saying lately about our need to get more sleep! (my post from last month, inspired by Huffington’s Ted Talk:  https://gettingmyessayspublished.wordpress.com/2011/01/09/get-up-early/ ) I’d like to say more about yesterday’s luncheon, but you guessed it, I’ve got to go to bed!)

Incidentally, yesterday’s RCC was held at the Opus Dei headquarters on 34th and Lexington. Really nice and clubby, reminded me of the Yale Club. Nicer than the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints near Lincoln Center where the RCC met last month.

The RCC is a great group. At the annual gathering this year in Little Rock, Arkansas, Abderrahim Foukara, Head of Al-Jazerra in the US will deliver the keynote address. http://www.religioncommunicators.org/ Should be interesting.

the opposite of cyberstalking

Sometimes I worry that by writing so personally, I am opening myself up to cyberstalkers. It’s pretty easy to Google someone’s name and get all of their personal info. But why would anyone bother?

With the scourge of short attention spans, the cyberstalker might have the inclination to stalk me, but then follow through? Meh! 

I know when I’m half-way through typing in an old high school boyfriend’s name on Facebook, I find myself distracted. I’m looking up what my coworkers are making for dinner instead of checking up on Bob Stumpf. “I wonder what ever happened to Bob Stumpf? Oh, look, Julie’s making chili!”

I have Googled my ex and his name is very common — something like John Smith or Jim Brown. Okay, you got me, it’s Jim Brown. But after a page of Google links to the running back and then to the singer, I’m off on a tangent reading about the history of rhythmn and blues.

I did write about this in an earlier post. Are our short attention spans doing anything good for our souls?  https://gettingmyessayspublished.wordpress.com/2010/12/02/does-social-media-grow-your-soul/

What’s the opposite of cyberstalking? Cyberapathy! That’s the new trend in social media.