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Hasdai Westbrook

BIG CHANGES AT CHANGING MEDIA

By | ChangeEngine | No Comments

CHANGINGMEDIA IS NOW CHANGELINGMEDIA

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We are delighted to announce our takeover and replacement by ChangelingMedia™. ChangingMedia is no more, its corporate body having been filched by fairies at the stroke of midnight to serve the cruel whims and strategic communications needs of his imperial majesty, the Goblin King, doomed to toil forever as perpetual slave to his eternal holding company in the mysterious, cobweb-strewn Enchanted Woods®.

We look forward to implementing ChangelingMedia’s exciting vision of appearing eerily similar to the company we replaced like a newborn babe in its crib, while spreading mayhem and mischief and poisoning the very air you breathe with our soulless malevolence.

No longer “Evil Geniuses for Good”, we are now simply and proudly Evil Geniuses for Evil (©). We look forward to working with you!

[Pictured: Our New Corporate Mascot!]

Tel-Hai Campaign Goes Live!

By | ChangeEngine | No Comments

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Welcome to Tel-Aviv International Airport, and to the newly launched campaign ChangingMedia has been working on for Tel-Hai College in the Galilee! The multimedia campaign will roll out across digital and print channels over the next few months, showcasing the innovative, pluralistic vision for the future Tel-Hai is pioneering. We’re delighted to be part of such an inspiring project.

An Immodest Proposal: A Better Bet for Warren Buffett

By | An Immodest Proposal, ChangeEngine | 7 Comments

The trouble with poverty is that there’s no money in it. Unlike, say, NCAA basketball – a business worth almost a billion dollars a year. And though Warren Buffett’s cash was safe long before UConn cut down the nets on Monday, the world’s fourth richest man was willing to shell out a billion dollars of his own should any of us have come up with a perfect tournament bracket. Shabazz Napier, the transcendent point guard who led UConn to victory and helped make the school, its sponsors and the NCAA hundreds of millions of dollars, struggled during his time there to afford food. In the United States, one in six people and a quarter of all children go hungry, and almost 50 million Americans live in poverty. Globally, hunger kills more than three million children a year and over a billion people live on less than a dollar a day.

So here’s an immodest proposal: why not make poverty pay? Or, to put it more precisely, why not give eradicating poverty some clear market value? If Buffett is willing to reward a lucky guess with an astonishing fortune, how about a billion bucks for the person who alleviates the wretched conditions of the most unfortunate? Why is that not a bet worth making?


As it stands today, the fight against poverty is driven by charity and goodwill. Any kind of profit motive is considered unseemly. Helping the poor is a testament to how much you care, in which effort and good intentions are applauded no matter the result. It’s where scoundrels go for redemption and goodie two-shoes go for a spit-shine ethical polish. If we fail, no-one loses, other than the poor of course. It’s not as if anyone’s going to lose a billion dollars over it, or a shot at a billion dollars.

There’s no doubt that anti-poverty crusades are noble, Buffett’s own efforts included. But while we’ve made gains in reducing global poverty (largely due to China’s industrialization), this system on the whole doesn’t work very well. How could it? It’s based on the kindness of people’s hearts, and kindness doesn’t pay the bills or get me a shiny new iPad. That’s not a condemnation; it’s just a fact.

The profit motive is one of the most powerful forces known to human history. It drives capitalism, moves mountains, and conjures fierce competition, economies of scale, creative destruction, iconoclastic visionaries and innovative ideas. Some would say it’s the cause of poverty in the first place (including Buffett’s own son) but good luck extirpating it. Instead, why not try to harness it?


So how would this work? Well, pick a metric. Any metric. Malnutrition, household income, a solid roof over a child’s head – whatever suits your fancy, or a billionaire like Warren Buffett’s. That metric now equals revenue – this much poverty reduced equals this much money, like a bounty for the death of a rogue gunslinger or a unit price. Appoint an auditor to impartially determine whether gains have been made. Pool the money from as many billionaires and corporate behemoths (and governments) as necessary to create the payout fund. Announce, award, repeat.

Before this starts to seem implausible, consider the precedents. The Google Lunar X Prize will award $20 million to the first team to land a robotic spacecraft on the surface of the moon. We’ve spoken in this space before of the need for a moon-shot for justice, “a space race for social change.” Well, what’s more worthwhile? To put one small unmanned drone on the moon or take a giant leap forward out of poverty for all mankind?

Only that space race can unleash the energy and ambition we need to radically impact poverty. Whether it’s cheap, sustainable generators for the developing world, a farming system, or a jobs scheme, the prospect of riches would attract the best and brightest and encourage the most effective and efficient solutions so as to maximize profits. Entrepreneurs could take on venture capital in anticipation of reaping great rewards. “Social return on investment” would finally have real meaning rather than a fuzzy feel-good vagueness. Anti-misery magnates and transformative tycoons would take greater risks and try bigger ideas. Wheat would separate from chaff.

As one participant at the Ashoka Globalizer on Economic Inclusion said: “wouldn’t it be great if ‘billionaire’ was re-defined to mean someone who had improved 1 billion lives?” Yes, but wouldn’t it be even better – and a greater incentive for greater solutions – if that person could make a billion dollars from improving those billion lives? It seems odd that the rewards for helping to rid the world of the scourge of poverty should be dwarfed by the proceeds from creating the Shake Weight or the ShamWow!.

The Nobel Peace Prize cash award won by Muhammad Yunus was about a million dollars for a lifetime of battling poverty. Warren Buffett makes more than that in an hour. The Hult Prize gets closer: “the annual competition aims to identify and launch the most compelling social business ideas—start-up enterprises that tackle grave issues faced by billions of people. Winners receive USD 1 million in seed capital…” But that’s still chump change. And for the most part we get this: “By taking part in Activities, students can earn points on their way to become an Anti-Poverty Crusader. We will share the hard work of the winning school via our website, email database and social media. In addition, your school will receive a framed copy of one of the photos featured in the Make Poverty History photo exhibition.” Hardly a Lamborghini and a solid gold jet, or the cover of Forbes magazine.


Think of all the anti-poverty start-ups that might emerge if kids knew those points could be profits. Better yet, think what a person living in poverty might do if we weighted the rewards even more greatly for the poor to create those businesses and ideas themselves. There’s nothing to be lost with this model – the risk is entirely on the entrepreneurs and their backers; no results, no payout. Sticking with the current system is far more of a risk. The poor will continue to rely on the largesse of the rich and languish in the back of our minds as a guilty afterthought. Selfishness will run rampant and charity will continue to be seen as a speeding ticket or a piddling penance on the way to acquiring sybaritic fortunes.

Solving poverty is currently a hobby of the wealthy, let’s make it an industry for the innovator. Let’s make it everyone’s business, and whether or not it’s our problem, let’s make it our profit, until there’s nothing left to gain. Let Warren Buffett bet us all that we can’t eradicate poverty and have him pay out for our million and billion-dollar ideas. On reflection, the wealthiest might consider this quite a modest proposal. Because the only other solution for the poor masses gorging on the air promise-crammed and told for centuries to eat cake might just be to eat the rich.


Are You A Soul Food Junkie?

By | ChangeEngine | 5 Comments
What are you doing this Sunday? I have the good fortune to be moderating a terrific panel on food justice with a city councilman, a celebrated urban farmer, a vegan soul goddess, a champion in the war against hunger, and the city’s food access mastermind. The panel will follow a screening of Byron Hurt’s documentary, Soul Food Junkies, which is a truly lyrical and profound exploration of the role of food in African-American life and its complex power to both sustain and destroy.

Come join us for a great opportunity to learn more about Baltimore’s struggle for greater food justice.
The event is at 2pm on Sunday, April 6th at the Lewis Museum (corner of Pratt and President streets). Did we mention that it’s completely FREE!!! See the museum’s website for more information, or register for the event on Facebook.
Hope to see you there!

ChangingMedia Proud to Sponsor Purim Pandemonium

By | ChangeEngine | 3 Comments

ChangingMedia is proud and delighted to be an official sponsor of Purim Pandemonium: Art Comes Alive! Come celebrate the carnival of mischief and chaos dressed as your favorite work of art, sip Artinis with the Mona Lisa …

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… an Apple Magritta with the Son of Man … the-son-of-man-1964

 

 

120px-Van_Gogh_Self-Portrait_with_Straw_Hat_1887-Detroit … or a Dark and Starry Night with Van Gogh. 

 

Saturday at 9pm @ the Jewish Museum of Maryland. Snap up your tickets before it’s too late!

To #SaveBmore, Embrace The Wire

By | #SaveBmore, ChangeEngine | 65 Comments

We’ve all heard it. Many of us have said it. It’s a plea, a prayer – uttered so often it’s damn near a mantra:

“We’re not just The Wire.”

Baltimore wants nothing more than to be seen as something other than a byword for crime and decay, for poverty and violence. We’re not just the wasteland made notorious by David Simon’s landmark series, occupied by drugslingers and sociopathic murderers and sicklied over with impenetrable despair. That’s just the image that’s been conjured up in the public imagination, we say. We’re sick of people’s eyes growing wide in horror when they hear what city we live in, the inevitable questions … “Is it like that? Is it just like The Wire?”

In the past few weeks here at ChangeEngine, we’ve been debating what might “save” Baltimore from a present and a future where so many are condemned to a shadow existence and forced to the margins by poverty and inequality. And yet it seems like what Baltimore wants to be saved from most of all is itself, to be delivered from the stain on our reputation, the shame of The Wire; to shunt those things that cast an ill light on our collective existence back into the shadows.

But that shame, left unchecked, will destroy us. If we truly want to save Baltimore, to save ourselves from the perpetual instability of illusory wealth and the criminal waste of lost promise; if we truly want to fulfill Dr. King’s vision of a “beloved community” rather than languish in the spiritual poverty of a divided society, we must not be ashamed. We must not shy away from what The Wire represents and the heavy burden it lays at our door … because we are The Wire and we need to own it.


What we’re saying when we deny The Wire is that we’re not just ‘those’ neighborhoods, not just a city of poor black people embroiled in the drug war. In trying to sweep those people and places from our consciousness, we not only caricature what The Wire actually depicted but fail to heed its prophetic call. As David Simon said:

“[T]hat’s what The Wire was about … people who were worth less and who were no longer necessary, as maybe 10 or 15% of my country is no longer necessary to the operation of the economy. It was about them trying to solve … an existential crisis. In their irrelevance, their economic irrelevance, they were nonetheless still on the ground occupying this place called Baltimore and they were going to have to endure somehow.”

When we say we’re not The Wire we’re saying we should be like one America, and forget the other. And that we can only succeed if these people, this other Baltimore, disappears. But that’s impossible, it’s unsustainable; it will undermine the very future we hope to create by ignoring the things that horrify and embarrass us. The ONLY way we can make Baltimore not just about The Wire is by embracing the story it tells about us.


“See, back in middle school and all, I used to love them myths,” says Omar, the predatory gunslinger who roams Baltimore’s streets like a swaggering pirate as he schools a sheriff’s deputy about the Greek god of war. So complete a work is The Wire, so vivid and eternally real are the likes of Omar, Stringer and Bubbles that these offending shadows have become our mythology, our epic.

Whether it’s Omar resplendent in a shimmering teal dressing gown, scowling at the terrified ‘puppies’ who fling their stashes his way on his early morning hunt for Honey Nut Cheerios; Clay Davis’s sheeeeeet! stretching on to the last syllable of recorded time; a forensic epiphany derived entirely from a dialogue of f-bombs; the death of Wallace, of Bodie and Sherrod, of Prop Joe; the fall of the Barksdales, Dukie’s descent or Cutty’s redemption – these moments confer an identity that’s deeply ours, as iconic and intrinsic as Poe’s mournful features and gutter requiem.

This is our story, an epic of the American post-industrial city struggling for existence and meaning where all sustaining truths and certainties have been annihilated. It has the power to unify our consciousness and to rouse us to collective action. The Wire didn’t focus on the “bad side” of Baltimore; it cast a glaring light on what was wrong with America. Its creators offered us a study of dysfunction and neglect – a diagnosis, a pessimistic prognosis, and no real hope of a cure. That part is up to us.

And yet the cures we’re presented with are largely exercises in denial – efforts to tell a different story rather than confronting and changing the one we have. We are told to ‘Believe’ in Baltimore, then beggar belief by proclaiming ourselves ‘The Greatest City in America.’ We swear up and down that we’re not The Wire, as though that wire is live and we dare not touch it.


In the standard gospel, salvation comes through expanding the ‘white corridor’ that runs along 83, pushing out the ‘bad Baltimore.’ The Grand Prix, the creative class, a shiny new development downtown – these are the pet miracles of urban renewal evangelism. But without justice, they can only be a mirage. Just as civil rights activists were willing to be beaten and bloodied because they knew that no-one is free unless all of us are free, not one of us can say he is truly wealthy as long as any of us is poor. As long as we’re erecting monuments to distraction, condo towers with a stunning view but no vision, we’ll be blind. No sustainable salvation can come of growing that privileged bubble. We’ll fool ourselves into complacency, into thinking we can ignore The Wire, and the bubble will burst.

Saving Baltimore requires a shift in thinking, a hard confrontation. It requires ambition and audacity – the kind that causes a person to get up every day and try to keep children from dying on the streets, to battle slumlords who profit from blight and misery, or fight to keep the prison industrial complex from throttling whole communities. We would do well to pay tribute and attention to those on the front lines of social change, who wrestle with the darkness, who suffer a thousand everyday defeats and win a thousand everyday victories in the struggle to make a better world.


Like them, we must grapple with the darkness. Most urgently, we must fight to end the drug war. As The Wire makes so vividly clear, the war on drugs has become a war on the urban underclass, a war on the most vulnerable and powerless. Each drug arrest in this city costs us at least $10,000. Statewide we spend hundreds of millions of dollars to incarcerate non-violent drug offenders, 90 percent of them African-American. This despite clear evidence that white and black people use and sell drugs at roughly the same rate.

In the starkest of terms, black (and poor) people are being arrested and incarcerated, their lives ruined, for something everyone does. And that is the greater cost. This war destroys families, robs children of their parents and leaves them destitute, cripples chances for employment and advancement, and causes young people to be murdered in the streets as they scuffle over turf in a society that gives them nowhere to call their own.

We can change that story. Think what all the resources squandered on this folly could do if devoted to social change, what dynamism could be unleashed. Think of what it would mean to reclaim all the talent and energy lost to the criminal justice system and to the miasma of distrust and despair that crushes and humiliates the spirit and leaves so many feeling that the game is rigged against them.

This is about more than just one policy. Just as we condemn an addict to the clawing, scraping chaos of the criminal underworld when we force him into the shadows, so too do we deny ourselves a brighter future and invite in all the ills we run from by denying what The Wire says about us. Baltimore could be the one city in America that truly confronts the issue of its underclass and the ravages of exclusion rather than pretending it’s not there and brutalizing it when it rears its head. We must resolve that we don’t want to run from The Wire, but rather change the system that generates those conditions.

The engine of salvation is not in our stars but in ourselves. We need a Manhattan Project for transformation, a space race for social change. Let’s work to provide the greatest rewards to those whose efforts most benefit the least well off. Let’s energize social change makers to move to Baltimore and cultivate those already here. And let’s start treating them like rock stars, not martyred idealists.

Baltimore doesn’t have a PR problem; we have a poverty problem. We don’t need a better image; we need a better way. We need to celebrate and attract those who want to make a difference, not engage in a desperate charade to prove we’re just the same. So Just Say Yes – we ARE the Wire. Only then can we change the story. Only then can we start building a city of which we’ll never be ashamed, a place where every one of us is truly cherished.

 

Biting Galileo’s Style

By | ChangeEngine, Silo-Breakers | No Comments

Yes, we admit it: we’re shamelessly ripping off Galileo’s style for our own purposes. But in this case we come by it honestly. Our impromptu Silo-Breakers series prompted a tremendously thought-provoking contribution from our friend, Rodney Foxworth, on the power of racial divisions in Baltimore. So provocative in fact that it sparked its own spirited back-and-forth via email, even as we were discussing the mundane details of when to schedule publication.

The exchange put us in mind of Galileo’s “Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems” where he framed his argument for the Copernican model of the universe, in which the earth revolves around the sun, in the form of a classic Platonic dialogue. Perhaps the reference is obscure, but then again maybe not. Perhaps there’s as much progress to be made scouring our souls as gazing at the stars. So here, in somewhat briefer form, we present our dialogue on the cosmology of our personal universes and on the forces that keep us apart…

(TAKE THE BREAKOUT CHALLENGE! What’s YOUR silo? And how do you break out of it? Let us know @ChangEngine #breakoutchallengefacebook.com/ChangingMedia, or email hasdai@changingmediagroup.com.)

The Divine Baltimore Comedy

By | ChangeEngine | No Comments

Editor’s Note: inspired by our call for those laugh/cry moments that make you go “Oh, Baltimore,” the brilliant Devan Southerland shares with us her fond impressions of Lexington Market and its environs. (Share your own “Oh, Baltimore” moments and memories by commenting or letting us know via Facebook or Twitter #ohbmore). 

Dear ENTIRE AREA within three blocks of Lexington Market,

Your area is something that can’t be replicated anywhere else in the world.

No matter what sidewalk I stroll upon in your vicinity, someone always seems to walk up on me to the point of them bumping into my purse…forcing me to make sure I still have a wallet. Only there is where I can wait patiently to meet a friend and have entrepreneurs of all types stand near me on the sidewalk selling goods including, but not limited to Tims, Big White Tees, “CD’s and movies, ya’ll, “that Precious movie, ya’ll”, ‘loose ones’, $1 gloves, socks, Tussy deodorant, “Weed, weed, weed, got that weed, weed, weed” and a day old student continuation bus pass.”

I love the COMPLETE violation of personal space one feels no matter where they are.

I love that everyone yells their conversations… whether talking to someone next to them….or a couple of blocks away…or on the chirp phone…or to the cashier trying to ring them up.

I think it’s funny that 60 percent of the people walking around are on the dope, looking for the dope, nodding out from the dope, selling the dope or trying to recover from the dope….but failing real hard.

It’s enjoyable that your area’s Rite Aid stays in business not only because it has 1 Hour Photo…but because it sells liquor. However, I hate that it always seems to run out of the reasonably priced Seagrams Iced Tea Vodka. Damn…if only I drank Colt 45 or Remy Martin…

I adore walking into your area’s stores, seeing a pile of other customers’ bags in the corner by the front door and rethinking if I want to leave my bag there with ‘bag check’ to spend money…but it’s just so hard to resist that cute pair of blue boots that will go with my outfit I’m wearing later that night! And they’re $20!!!!

I digress.

Apparently, your area makes people think that even the most stone-faced individuals – like myself – welcome unwanted, unwarranted and UNINVITED conversations from strangers. Even conversations seeking advice! For example, one young lady decided to stop me in the pouring rain and say, “Excuse me, can you tell me if I did the right thing? This man back there said he was hungry so I just gave him the gizzards I just bought. Was that the right thing to do???”

Here’s to you, the entire area within three blocks of Lexington Market. Now you can’t say I’ve NEVER said good things about you.

DevanDevan Southerland, a.k.a. the Lovely Ms. ‘S Page, is an experienced dream doula and legend maker. A proud Baltimorean, she studied Family Studies and African American Studies at the University of Maryland-College Park. If you are worthy, she has rap for you.

 

 

Image Credit: Lexington Market, 1858 Wikimedia Commons

Lindsey Fisks LIVABILITY

By | The Good Plan | No Comments

ChangeEngine’s irrepressible blogger on all things urban, Lindsey Davis of The Good Plan, got a shout-out today from the good people over at Livability — an online hub for cities that punch above their weight — in their weekly round-up of all ideas spiky and intriguing. When alerted to this fact, Lindsey went into what might be described as paroxysms of enthusiastic analysis, producing a set of pithy, punchy, point-by-point responses that bears an uncanny resemblance to Fisking. (“Ooo new word!” says Lindsey.)

So, as a kind of capper of our own on the week, we present Lindsey’s rapid-fire reactions to Livability’s weekly round-up, with a focus on demographer Joel Kotkin’s provocative suggestion that the suburbs, not San Francisco, might be the template for the future of the American city:

“Could urban sprawl be the best indicator or future city growth? Many urban planning theorists prescribe the idea of high density and central cores as the best way for cities to grow…”

-High density and central cores are the “Best way for cities to grow”? No! Smart development of high density and central cores are the best way for cities to grow.

“…but then there’s Joel Kotkin, a demographer who says data shows legacy cities are a model of the past and that the cities of the future will resemble those experiencing more outward growth.”

-Legacy cities are a model of the past and the future will resemble outward growth. Shocker. So alternately, legacy cities would be forgotten, we’d start ALL over in some field somewhere, build brand new infrastructure? Well, yes. Legacy cities are a model of the past YET A FOUNDATION FOR OUR FUTURE DEVELOPMENT BECAUSE HALF THE WORK IS ALREADY DONE. And yes, we’ll have to move out. We certainly can’t keep going up. Unless you live in Hawaii that is.

“Are Sprawling Urban Regions The Next Great Cities?”

-Are sprawled regions the next great cities? I mean, what’s the alternative here. Something has to be ‘new’ and ‘next.’ If we’re making ‘new’ cities I would think we’d place them in an area where economic activity exists. Also, how are we defining a city? Is the word ‘city’ becoming clichéd? Just like “innovation”… (cue dramatic sigh).

“Kotkin says low-density, car-dominated, heavily suburbanized areas with small central cores are likely the next wave of great American cities.”

-I absolutely agree with Kotkin in that low density, car-dominated areas are next. The infrastructure exists, moveable people exist, we’d be more likely to start corralling businesses there than go to a field and build a utopian city with bicycle lanes adjacent to tractors.

“He cautions ‘urbanistas’ to wake up and recognize that the future is going to look more like Houston, Charlotte and Phoenix and less like Boston, Chicago or San Francisco.”

-Well, I don’t think the future will look like Charlotte or Houston. The next cities might, but think of it in stages – we have to enter stage one car domination before evolving to city 2.0 with bikes and trams and transit. Its easier to take people who live somewhere and make them dense and miserable and then make their lives easier via light rail, than to build a light rail in middle of nowhere Nebraska and then expect people to move there.

“The best practice for fixing a city’s problems might be staying away from the best practices. Things that make one city livable may not work in another city. That’s the point Lindsey Davis, a city planner and blogger, makes in a recent post about best practices for cities.

-OMG! THAT’S MY NAME! OMG!! AH! I’m KVELLING! AH!

Stay tuned for the next installment of The Good Plan, where Lindsey will take on Kotkin’s thesis in more detail, though with perhaps a touch less kvelling.

IMAGE CREDIT. Livability.

The Top Ten Most Useless Top-Tens About Social Media

By | ChangeEngine, Social Media | 2 Comments

As someone who spends a good deal of time helping organizations great and small harness the power of social media, I often find myself stumbling across “top-ten lists” of social media tips from a never-ending parade of blog evangelists, web-thumpers, and manic e-preachers. It’s intriguing how closely these features tend to mirror the anxieties and misconceptions that I come across in my face-to-face conversations with real-life people seeking insight, which is no doubt one of the reasons they’re so popular.

The top-ten list itself is one of the dominant tropes of the infinitely-aggregating (and often aggravating) digital media age — link-bait for our flicker-quick attention spans, churned out as proven traffic drivers to cater to our jones for simple answers. A vast number are about sex of course, or at least love. In fact, the social media top-tens remind me most of the advice lists written in breathless tones by relationship “experts” that we all click-through eager for some secret insight, even though our rational minds know the premise is absurd…”Ten Ways to Know She’s Into You!”* or “Top Ten Things Your Man REALLY wants!”** Superficially revealing, deceptively empowering, and almost certainly completely useless if applied to your specific circumstances.

So, without pointing any particular fingers, here’s a run-down of the top ten kinds of top-tens for social media, and why you might want to use them for novelty purposes only…

*Because it makes perfect sense that the answer to a mystery that has eluded every poet, philosopher, and evolutionary biologist since the dawn of time can be imparted to you by a freelance “Passion Consultant” in a 500-word post on DudesHealth.com
**Chris Rock has helpfully boiled the list down to three.

Updated1) “Top Ten Reasons You Should Be On <Insert Social Media Site> RIGHT NOW!”

I’m often asked in panic-stricken tones “should I be on…?” And my answer invariably is, “well, that depends.”

Facebook, right? I need to be on Facebook!”

Well, maybe. The real question is who you want to reach and why. Your audience isn’t “Facebook.” There are a billion people on Facebook, and unless you have a cat with a Hitler ‘stache you’re not going to reach them all, nor would you want to.

Oh right, I should be on Twitter.”

Your audience isn’t anyone called “Twitter” either. These things were created to help us communicate with people. Sometimes the most powerful social media tool is e-mail, or that most dynamic of social inventions — a conversation.

2) “Top Ten Twitter Hash-Tags You NEED to Be Using, Like, YESTERDAY!” 

Speaking of Twitter, no magic tags. Event tags good for
events. Build relationships, find your voice. Remember,
you only have 140 charact... #WasteOfTime 

3) “Top Ten BEST Practices for Social Media!”

Nooo. Nope. There are no generalizable social media tips for content or strategy other than don’t post bomb threats, pornography, or pictures of your Weiner.

4) “Top Ten Ways to Go VIRAL!” 

The percentage of content on the internet that actually goes “viral” – as in ubiquitous enough for you to be sick of it (or at least vaguely aware of its virulent existence without even seeing it) – is so infinitesimally small, you might as well have a “top ten ways” to win the lottery or hit a half-court shot. If you insist on chasing the chimera of being the next Gangnam Style, by all means spend your waking hours trying to come up with a hilariously preposterous little dance move that sets the world on fire. But that’s probably time better spent creating quality content that resonates with your audience.

5) “Top Ten Ways to Make SURE … !”

There’s a great deal of fear associated with social media — of wasting one’s time, of bomb or Weiner-wielding lunatics, but mostly of criticism. Most of these “Make Sure”‘s are of the “something doesn’t happen” variety. But there is no certainty in social media, whether of results or consequences, be they negative or positive. There are ways to watch and listen, to learn, to harness these tools for your own ends. But if there’s one thing that’s true of social media it’s that it’s not an inanimate technology like a crankshaft or an engine; it’s a human system, and so susceptible to failure, horror, and great joy.

Pac-ManReverse2

6) “Ten Creative Ways to Use …!”

To be fair, these are actually the most useful of this breed. It never hurts to be open to new ideas or new ways to use familiar platforms. The key word here though is “creative,” as in being inspired to create something fresh and meaningful in a way that expresses your unique voice. Slavishly following some tip will lead to derivative drudgery, which brings us to…

7) “Top Ten Trends You NEED to Jump On Before It’s TOO LATE!”

People are using video/audio/auto-/wiki/real-time/Vine/ …people are using this… people are doing that. Media trends in the digital world have the half-life of a mayfly. It doesn’t necessarily matter what other people are doing (again, most of these trends probably involve cats.) It matters what you’re doing.

8) “Top Ten Predictions – The Next BIG THING in Social Media!”

Always good for a chortle. If the people who make such predictions really knew what the next big thing in social media was they’d be poppin’ champagne in a solid-gold jacuzzi molded into the fuselage of a diamond-encrusted private jet, not sharing that information with you via a top-ten blog post for the standard digital media industry fee of no money at all.

9) “Top Ten Ways to INCREASE Your Site Traffic Using Social Media!”

… Slow down, think about who you want to reach and why. Most tips for increasing site traffic won’t work, won’t be sustainable and some of them might even get you on Google’s naughty list. Though, of course, a top-ten list is a pretty sure-fire way to drive traffic 😛

10) “Top Ten Social Media BLOGS You Should Be Reading!”

The blog you’re reading is almost always one of these. They all tend to consist of advice that’s either too broad, wrong for you, or too technical (i.e. written for other breathless professionals!!!). You’re better off reading blogs, websites, and content by people in your field, or finding outlets that share your passions and values. Oh, and of course, you should be reading ChangeEngine 😎

RunAway

IMAGE CREDIT. Hasdai Westbrook.