Friday, October 23, 2009

A Shiver From The Shriver Report

The Center for American Progress's Shriver Report, released last week, offers a stunning perspective on the transition of American women in the family, the workforce and our culture as a whole.

May of the top line insights from the report are painfully obvious to those of us in the 4 out of 5 families no longer in traditional households, i.e. with the man working and the woman caring for family full time. What is surprising is the perspective on how the new reality of two income earners conflicts with the institutions and traditions still moored to the old "wife at home" model. Among many areas of concern, this has especially dramatic implications on the future of elder care in America.

Read the report in its entirety, including excellent graphics, or check out the executive summary.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Book Bits For The Traveler – Ask Arthur Frommer

While these columns usually focus on books to read on the plane, Ask Arthur Frommer, a new page turner from the dean of American travel writing, is something you will instead relish before your trip.

Frommer is the catalyst for the post-WWII travel for everyone ideal. His 1959 book Europe on $5 a Day was a pivotal transition from the Grand Tour tradition of European travel to the cultural immersion and spend less, absorb more, philosophies spawning Rick Steves, Lonely Planet and Rough Guides.

Billed as a reference book, Ask Arthur Frommer is an encyclopedia you will happily read from cover to cover (like the People's Almanac). In fifteen chapters the reader encounters hundreds of sections offering topical advice on travel planning, insights for the business traveler and a generous sprinkling of Frommer’s pro-travel, pro-freedom perspective.

As someone who, until recently, spent Medallion-level time on road, I found many good business travel insights in Frommer’s book. This includes and introduction to for car rental deals, insights about getting the most out of frequent flyer programs and practical tips about health and wellness during crammed business travel.

The book, however, is primarily a treasure trove of advice for the passionate leisure traveler. Frommer shares the best website for international festivals (, trumpets the best and worst destinations in the world for meaningful travel (sorry Dubai), and details lodging, airfare, and attraction information for budget conscious adventurers. While there is a generous review of cruse ship and resort-based travel, Frommer’s passion for the adventure of self guided travel is and overriding theme.

Former is a idealist and strong proponent of travel as a tool to overcome prejudice and ignorance. He has strong words for the luxury travel industry, private jets, and the New York Times travel section. There is loves for Amtrak but disdain for a government telling him where he can and can not go.

Based on the timeliness of much of the information in the book I assume this will become an annual publication. If so, this candid, fun to read collection of tactics and tips will become a must have for US and International travelers.

Want more from the big guns? Try Bad Lands by Tony Wheeler or Rick Steve’s recent Travel as a Political Act. Frommer’s original Europe of $5 a Day was reprinted recently too!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Friday, October 09, 2009

Beating Dave to the Punch

(click image to enlarge. From

Just to save Dave the effort! Have a great weekend all!

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

New Search Technology a Game Changer

Yesterday I attended a great session on advances in search technology held by the AiMA. This included presentations from Yahoo and Google/YouTube as well as a demonstration of Microsoft's new bing search engine.

The real insight from the event is a ramification of the push for search engine results featuring live content from sites, not just static listings. A representative of Autotrader.Com challenged the presenters about how this technology deprives his company of the revenue they generate via site visits. The answer was basically "The Times They Are a Changin'."

The latest BusinessWeek has a feature on the future of Google with all kinds of new developments in search.

Monday, October 05, 2009

The Ultimate Sacrifice

My sincere condolences to the family, friends and fiancée of CPT Ben Sklaver. CPT Sklaver lost his life in the attacks this past weekend in Afghanistan. ‏Ben had many ties to the CDC community in Atlanta and impacted the live of thousands via his work in Africa and the efforts of his Clear Water Initiative.

Anyone still holding stereotypes about the apathy of Generation X would do well to read about the accomplishments and focus of this young man.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Fear and Loathing in Social Media

Last week’s New Media Atlanta summit on Social Media was billed as an exploration of the business application of social media tools. This was an event I was not going to miss, but I did not expect the one-two punch of awe and befuddlement I carried out the door.

Walking into the conference center I immediately pinned that I was the only person in the room without a high-end laptop or mini and the cords and cables that go with them. Mac ruled the house. The scene was akin to the taper's section of a Grateful Dead show. Two rows ahead of me was a guy wearing Sennheiser headphones hooking up a preamp(?) to his computer to connect his digital camera.

The day itself was a blitz of marketers, technology experts and pundits addressing the permanence and future of social networks. You can view a few of the presentations from the event here.

The highlight of the session for me was a panel discussion with the social marketing leadership of Turner (Seth Miller) and Newell Rubbermaid (Bert DuMars) along with Peter Fasco from marketing firm mass+logic. The discussion centered on how Seth, Bert and their teams use Twitter, Facebook and other resources to connect with their customers, address service issues in real time, and provide intelligence and consumer insights back into their organizations.

Checkout the Sharpie blog and the brand's Twitter and Facebook communities for a great example of how a major brand is interacting with its customers in the digital realm.

Three big takeaways from the day's proceedings:

  • Your organization and its brands must have an active voice in the world of social media. You are already in this game rather you know it or not.
  • There is a direct correlation between mobile Internet connectivity and the use of social media applications. The coming explosion of mobile Internet access foreshadows the ubiquity of social media as a communication vehicle.
  • Social media is a unique tool for businesses to listen to their customers. Learning from customers, enhancing their brand experience and meeting their needs can not be lost in an effort to advertise and promote.

The closer for the event was Chris Brogan, the Terrance McKenna of social media and author of the new book Trust Agents. Chris's amazing, PG-13 presentation offered a visceral, no B.S. examination of the opportunities and expectations associated with the Age of Social Media.

Watch the first few minutes of the video to see Chris address the BackNoise for the conference. During the course of the conference my neighbors in the back row were engaging in an anonymous Twitter-type exchange about the speakers, their lunch plans, and a variety silly topics.

Chris displayed the BackNoise narrative behind him for the entirety of his talk. While his ability to confront real time gossip was impressive, I left the conference thinking about the down side of all of this new technology. At what point do we begin to sacrifice real though and meaningful human interaction for instant electronic exchange?