It was the worst? or best? of times…

22 04 2013

WheelchairOne year ago today my hubby crashed his mountain bike and was paralyzed from the neck down. I’ll never forget that phone call from his biking buddies, the ambulance ride, standing in a deserted hallway at UMass Emergency, days in the ICU, months in Spaulding rehab, and months on months working his ass off at home on every nerve, muscle, body functions, mediation – you name it – a spinal cord injury affects everything in the body and everything has to be worked to recover.


Ed at a charity event this March

I kissed Ed this morning, shook his hand, and told him to give me a kick in the ass – all of which worked well. He is well down the multi-year recovery road – able to walk, limited use of his hands – although he has many battles still to fight, some seeming more exhausting than the ones already past.

I want to thank each and every friend – the support you all gave us this past year is what made this past year a great year, even though it was a tough year. Charles Dickens said it well… but I had to change the order of each phrase to really express what I mean…

Charles Dickens: A Tale of Two Cities
Modifed by AmyO: A Tale of Two Perspectives…

It was the worst of times (pain and despair), it was the best of times (friendship and strength), it was the age of foolishness (how little we know), it was the age of wisdom (how much we learned), it was the epoch of incredulity (how could this possibly have happened), it was the epoch of belief (it really is possible fight to get better), it was the season of Darkness (oh no, the spinal electrical shocks continue to cause more damage), it was the season of Light (when an amazing neurosurgeon fixes that bad issue), it was the winter of despair (no need to explain), it was the spring of hope (we’re out walking!), we had nothing before us, we had everything before us, …

Thank you all for your support. Love you!


It was a very good year… when I was… 17? 21? 35?

1 10 2011

…yah those years were fun – and I’ll admit this past year wasn’t my seventeenth, or twenty-first or even my thirty fifth as Sinatra crooned. While I turned just a bit older during the past 525,600 minutes, more happened than even Sinatra coulda imagined. My two daughters left the nest, and I had a blast visiting them in their new homes in diff areas of NC. I started a new job running product management for cloud services at Nokia, graduated from Northeastern’s executive MBA program, and the next day started a new job as head of analytics at Nokia. I traveled internationally a buncha times: Mexico, Finlandx4, China, Hong Kong, India, Germany twice. OMG saw the most amazing places and met some incredible peeps. Just check out the view from my hotel room in Agra.

Ain’t nothin slowing down around here. Who said “age considers; youth ventures”? I’ll stick with “how sweet it is!”.

Tweeting for the Newbie

23 08 2010

I’m a huge twitter fan – it’s an incredible source of information, a good discussion forum, and all-out entertaining to boot! My passion seems contagious, because recently a number of friends have asked me how to get on twitter and what to do once they’re on… So here are my seven easy steps for getting started. And once you’ve started, follow a few people like @TweetSmarter and @twitter to learn more quickly.

1. Go to and create your account. On the ‘Account‘ screen your username will be what people see when you tweet (mine is ImAmyO). Then go to ‘Profile and fill out your bio with some interesting stuff about yourself and post a pic. No need to mess with the mobile settings or your screen design – always time later for that…

2. Follow someone. Are any of your friends on twitter? Or find someone famous that does something interesting (I follow @MarthaStuart cuz I like to know what she’s eating). Follow the news (I like the CCN Breaking News feed @ccnbrk). Follow someone in your industry, again if they’re posting cool stuff. Use ‘Find People‘ in the upper corner of your screen to look for people. Go to and enter a word that is important to you – on twitter the word is called a hashtag cuz you can put it in your tweets as a flag so others can easily find info on a subject. Twubs will show you a bunch of tweets on the subject – you’ll see #<the word you entered> in the tweets. Follow some of the people tweeting on your topic of interest. Then go to the profile of each person you follow, by clicking on their name in your following list, go to their following list, and follow some of them! Look for people who tweet topics of interest to you, and especially people who include a lot of links to other site – that’s where twitter starts to become a good knowledge-base.

3. Tweet something. Come on. What are your reading? What have you seen? What do you know that would help others? Post a link in your tweet to something you read online. Post a link to a picture. And here’s a tip – since a tweet can only be 140 characters, you don’t want to waste them on long links. So go to and enter the long link (sometimes I post links to NYT articles that are almost 100 characters) and will give you a short link instead.

4. Retweet something. Huh? Yup, this is the essence of twitter. When someone you follow says something interesting, you can retweet it so that all your followers see it. Now don’t get too caught up in the fact that you probably don’t have too many followers yet, retweet anyways cuz on twitter retweeting is seen as the highest form of flattery…

5. …besides following someone who follows you – that’s also a twitter form of flattery. As time goes on and you tweet / retweet more, and follow more people, people will start to follow you. They’ll find you because of your bio, what you tweet, and who you follow, and who’s following you (just like you did in step 2 above). So what should you do? Follow them back. For sure, not always, but click on their twitter handle and go to their profile page. Check out their bio, and what they’ve tweeted. If it’s interesting, follow them! That’s how the network builds.

6. Be informed and entertained. You can watch your twitter feed (that’s all the incoming tweets from people you follow) on, but I like to use a different twitter app called TweetDeck. Download it from and you’ll see that you can arrange columns with different searches. I also love the way it pops the latest tweet up in the corner of my screen; I can scan to see what’s going on and quickly decide if I want to check the tweet out further. Retweets are easier in TweetDeck too, and there are TweetDeck apps for your smartphone as well.

7. Repeat steps 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 in random order for infinity. You’ll be engaged, enlightened, and entertained. Enjoy!

The Old Give and Take

16 08 2010

When I was helping my daughter unpack in her new apartment in North Carolina last week, I ran across one of her psychology books called “Influence: Science and Practice”. At first my interest was piqued simply because of all the talk in social media land about influence these days, but by chapter 2 I was hooked. It’s the same topics all over twitterland and facebookhaven. But down to the brass tacks – or should I say the science of psychology – of the basics of influence.

The textbook was copyrighted in 2001, well before the emergence of social media as a marketing channel. And it explains so well the basics of influence, upon which social media marketing relies. Chapter 2 was all about reciprocation – the old give and take. Take the experiment by psychologist Dennis Regan in 1971. Two subjects in a supposed  art-appreciation experiment were supposed to rate paintings. But one of the subjects was actually Regan’s assistant Joe, who had an additional role to play. In some of the cases, Joe would leave the room during a rest period and return with a Coke for himself and one for the other subject. In other cases, Joe would return with only a Coke for himself.

After all the paintings had been rating, Joe would then ask the subject to do him a favor. Joe was selling raffle tickets and would get a $50 prize if he sold the most tickets. And across the board the subjects who received a Coke from Joe bought twice as many raffle tickets as those who hadn’t received a favor from Joe. It didn’t matter if they liked Joe or not; if they felt they owed him a favor, they bought twice as many tickets.

Social media marketing is all about reciprocity. Give away content on your site that will help others. Retweet interesting information. ‘Like’ good products and services. Which creates a cycle that may help you.

Time and Space

12 07 2010

When I missed my sister’s phone call, she yelled at me on facebook “ur 2 busy blogging, twittering, fbing…2 p/u the old fashioned phone…” Truth be told, I often prefer online forums over voice conversations: the asynchronicity, the one2many-ness and many2one-ness, the visuals, the links, the networks. A community with subcultures that affect how we interact. Subcultures created by time and space.

Consider differences in the state of technology at the time of adoption. My daughters don’t naturally use the ‘comment’ and ‘like’ features on Facebook because those features didn’t exist at the time they started on FB years ago. Matter of fact, the news feed didn’t even exist. It wasn’t until FB opened up outside schools that those features were added. Go to the wall of 19-22 year old these days and you’ll see one side of a conversation – the other side is on someone else’s wall. Go to my wall and you’ll see interactive conversations among a disparate group of friends, all using the ‘comment’ feature to engage in a conversation. Same technology, adopted over different periods of time, causing major differences in the subculture among users.

And then there’s space. HBR just published a map showing social media usage differences by space, or locale. Internet users in India and China tweet 3x as much as those of us living in the U.S. Some our lower usage can be traced back to the reliability and relatively low cost of our old phone network; we think nothing of just picking up the phone here. But in developing nations, wireless and cellular networks often emerged before – and sometimes instead of – local phone networks. And by the time the Internet was available in many locales, microblogging technology had matured. With less predisposition for the phone, those users turned to the social network.

And then there’s Japan, where social networking is used to communicate among close circles of friends, not to extend those circles. And South Korea, where users approach social media from a gaming perspective. And France, … but you get the picture. While it may be one network, it’s certainly segmented by time and space.

I’m gonna sign off now and go call my sister on the old fashioned phone.

It’s the content, stupid

28 06 2010

Linotype Machine

Not to point out the obvious, but with the low barrier to entry for using social media it’s pretty easy for anyone to say anything to anyone about anything these days. In contrast, my dad was trained as a printer in Ireland, and spent decades here in the U.S. working the night shift to produce the newspapers we relied upon for the news each morning. Reporters hunting down the scoop by day, editors fine-tuning the story in the evening, and my dad toiling through the wee hours setting the type. I loved waking up to the news he brought home each morning in that freshly printed paper.

These mornings I roll over and grab my iPhone off the nightstand. I click one of multiple apps to see what’s happened overnight. I check in on blogs, scan my twitter feed, make sure my facebook friends aren’t having major issues – all before I lift my head from the pillow. It’s over coffee that I turn to traditional media for more news: wsj, theregister, nytimes, … While I trust my friends to offer up their views on just about everything, I want their opinions supplemented by reporters hunting down scoops, backed by intelligent and thoughtful editors working the story.

That’s why I’m so intrigued by the Atlantic’s recent article on Google’s attempt to save traditional media. User generated content is often ad hoc, and it works best for me when supported by a system of professional journalists working the systemic stories.

The Sunday paper best exemplifies the traditional journalistic business model. All that news is paid for by the huge bundle of colorful ads that sit in the center of the folded paper. But in new media, the news doesn’t arrive in one convenient bundle that advertisers can use to push their message. And that one convenient bundle represents the traditional journalistic business model. But it’s not a question of whether we still need professional journalism, it’s a question of how to change the traditional media business model to support that profession.

Google acknowledges that they need the content produced by professionals to sustain the Google business model. And those professionals need to adapt as well to these changing times. The first thing to go will be the print, as more and more journalism goes on-line. That radically changes the cost structure of the news business. The second change is news aggregators, like Google News, directing traffic through content excerpts. And finally, the news will again be supported by ads, not in a bundle this time that falls out of your Sunday paper, but in on-line ads tailored to your interests via clickstream analytics.

So my dad no longer needs to set his linotype (good thing, cuz he retired and is now happy volunteering at a local cancer center), but we do need the journalists to feed content into our news ecosystem.

Mother’s Little Helper? Data

24 06 2010

I’m fully supportive when my loved ones go off-the-grid on some new adventure. But the worrier inside me usually starts roaring around 3am… “Is everything ok?” “Where are they now?” Until recently it was pretty difficult to calm my worrier. But now, like the lyrics of the Stones, I’ve discovered my own mother’s little helper: Data. Yup, data.

Ed's Kilimanjaro RouteIn March my adventurer photographer husband spent 6 weeks in various parts of Africa working with children’s charities, exploring and mountain climbing. And attached to his backpack was a GPS sensor, which sent data about Ed’s whereabouts to a centralized service. I could go to the service website to see his location mapped, like his footsteps up Kilimanjara shown here. And I could post these satellite images to Facebook so friends and family could keep track as well. No more lost sleep. Saved by the data.

I was at an interesting conference this week where much was discussed about data. FindMeSpot SatelliteStephen Baker, of Num3rati fame, delved into the next big wave of data coming from sensors in the world around us. Kinda creepy in many ways, but as with every new innovation, there’s a cost-benefit analysis to be done. In the simple case of the FindMeSpot, I’m all for it. We’re gonna have some interesting discussions, though, over the next few years as sensors become more prevalent around us. And we’re certainly not gonna suffer from a lack of data.