Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Information Overload

I’ve been accused of being a techno-phobe, and I’ll admit that in some instances, the accusation may be deserved. Maybe. More often than not, I believe it’s simply a case of refusing to embrace the latest technology simply because it’s there. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not enamored with every new digital toy (and iteration of every new digital toy) that comes along. In fact, years ago… possibly even before the mainstream use of the Internet (gasp!)… a few colleagues and I formed the ATS Club (All Technology Sucks). While we’ve gone our separate ways, I’m still vice president in charge of membership, so lemme know when you need to join.

So from my “techno-phobe” soapbox, I’ll tell you that I haven’t fully embraced Twitter. The idea of answering “What are you doing right now?” to followers still begs the question “Who cares?” Granted, there have been some creative marketing uses of the platform, but there are volumes (and volumes and volumes to the Nth degree) of tweets that fall into and belong in that “Who cares?” category. If you disagree, listen in on the cell phone conversations of people around you. Blather? You betcha. Need-to-know information? Not a chance. I’d bet real money that the content on Twitter mirrors that same sort of information… again, with a few creative exceptions.

The Library of Congress announced recently that it’s going to archive every tweet (excluding the private ones) since Twitter’s inception in March 2006. From what I gather, most users didn’t even know they could make their tweets private until that announcement came along. As I figure it, that means the government is going to spend money (that would be your money and mine) to archive over four years’ worth of predominantly inane crap for all posterity. And I’ve been worried about paying for health care reform. Silly me.

One of the better uses I’ve heard about Twitter is a Korean barbeque truck announcing its location to followers. Folks know exactly when to head to the corner to grab lunch. Perfect. But do we really need to have an everlasting archive of “Corner of S. Broadway and W. 1st St at 11:55”? And that’s going to be followed by a non-private tweet from some guy who over-indulged on Korean barbeque and feels the need to share his gastrointestinal woes with his followers in 140-character announcements. Oh, we definitely want to keep those messages forever, don’t we? It’s times like this, boys and girls, when I believe we’ve lost our collective mind.

The really funny thing is that despite its raving popularity, the folks at Twitter are still trying to figure out how to make money. That’s right – millions of users without making a dime. Hard to imagine. Seems “popular” doesn’t necessarily mean “profitable.” Embedded ads are right around the corner… that much more to archive. Hopefully the Library of Congress has a really big server.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

One Particular Harbor

I’ve been a Jimmy Buffett fan for over twenty years. I say “fan” rather than the typical “Parrothead” reference because I’ve always been drawn more to his ballads than the party songs often equated with the “Parrothead” moniker.

“I know I don’t get there often enough, but God knows I surely try. It’s a magic kind of medicine that no doctor can prescribe,” sings Buffett in One Particular Harbor. I’m certain that when he penned those words, he envisioned a turquoise blue-watered, secluded bay deep in the Caribbean. But for me, my “one particular harbor” is only as far south as Grassy Key, Florida, and the water there is best described as murky green. Regardless, those lyrics fit my feelings about and relationship with the Dolphin Research Center perfectly.

My first experience there occurred in December 1989 as a bucket-list type experience: swimming with dolphins. I returned a few years later as a DolphinLab participant, and from there my interaction with the facility has continued to grow. While I’m captivated and intrigued by dolphins, my continued admiration and support of the facility is founded in the people there… always has been, always will be. I’m quite saddened by the recent loss of one of DRC’s co-founders: Jayne Shannon-Rodriguez.

Jayne along with Mandy Rodriguez founded the non-profit DRC in 1984 upon “inheriting” it (and all its debt) after it operated as the Institute for Delphinid Research and prior to that as Flipper’s Sea School and Santini’s Porpoise School. Their vision was to create a unique educational and research facility. Job well-done my friends. But that vision and impact have traveled far beyond the perimeter fencing of the lagoons that are home to a colony of bottlenose dolphins and a few California sea lions.

Like the ripples created by dropping a stone into a quiet pond, the effect of Jayne’s vision and energy has spread out around the globe. Employees (both current and former), visitors, volunteers and contributors have grabbed Jayne’s message and shared it. And to the benefit of all of us, the message is not simply about dolphins but about ocean and planetary conservation as well.

I’m only one of hundreds of thousands who have been touched by Jayne’s energy and mission. While we all mourn her loss, what she began moves forward. Her vision was clear, and her dedication to it over the years was unwavering. For those closest to her, my hope is that you find comfort not only in your memories, but in the impact she’ll have well into the future. For Jayne, may you rest in peace and rest well knowing the world is simply a better place because of you.