7th Heaven? I’m Not Saying It’s Aliens, But…

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Americans seem to have been infatuated with the concept of extraterrestrial life ever since Italian Astronomer Giovanni Schiaparelli placed his eye on the lens of that new (and very powerful) refractor telescope in the Osservatorio Astronomico di Brera. The Brera Observatory (so named because it was located in the Brera district of Milan, Italy) to this day sits on the very urban corner of Via Brera and Via Flori Ocsuri. The Jesuit astronomer Ruđer Josip Bošković (or “Ruggiero Giuseppe Boscovich,” depending on which ethnic group you believe controlled Dubrovnik in the Republic of Ragusa at the time of his birth) built the observatory in 1764. Within a decade, Pope Clements XIV issued his July 21, 1773 papal bull formally suppressing the Jesuits. Among other things, this papal bull passed the ownership of the observatory to municipal, rather than religious, authorities.

His early work having brought fame both to him and his country, the Kingdom of Italy bought Schiaparelli an 8.6 inch Merz Equatorial Refracting Telescope from famed German optician Georg Merz. In 1874 the telescope was installed on the roof of the Brera Observatory and Schiaparelli used it initially to study double stars. With the opposition of Mars set to happen on September 5, 1877, Schiaparelli turned his sight to the Red Planet. (An “opposition” is an astronomical event that occurs when the Earth is exactly between the Sun and the planet.) It was during this period of observations, beginning on September 12, 1877, that Schiaparelli drew his now famous map of Mars. Here lies, as they say, the rest of the story.Continue Reading “7th Heaven? I’m Not Saying It’s Aliens, But…”

How to Prevent Real Identity Theft: Claim Your Name

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this-is-real-gold-1175628-1279x1032During the heady days of the California Gold Rush of 1849, prospectors would hurry to their preferred site. They hoped to be the first to discover the valuable ore there and then stake their claim, thereby giving them preemptive rights over all other prospectors to that particular spot of land. This practice wasn’t limited to miners. The Homestead Act of 1862 (and the other Homestead Acts that followed) allowed any adult who was the first to settle a piece of property to lay claim to it. You even see elements of this “first come, first serve” philosophy in traditional U.S. Patent Law. Here, the first to claim an invention retains all patent rights on it.

These three examples have one thing in common: a wide open territory. Whether it be undeveloped land for miners and settlers, or the vast unexplored realm of ideas, there’s a bit of terra incognita associated with the idea of being the “first to claim.” The other commonality they all possess is they aren’t new. They come from an era when America was a frontier waiting to be discovered. With the passing of centuries, this “Wild West” spirit has since dissolved into the annals of history.

Yet, there remain new worlds to discover, new territory to explore, new stakes to claim. Remember when the internet exploded in popularity in the 1990s? Prospectors in that era Continue Reading “How to Prevent Real Identity Theft: Claim Your Name”

Star Trek Into Darkness Review: Man Enough to Admit the Truth

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Here’s the good news: My daughter and her college girlfriends went to the New York red carpet premiere for one purpose: to leave with a picture of themselves with Star Trek Premire Red CarpetChris Pine. They succeeded. As for the movie, with the exception of my daughter, none of them had ever seen any of the many versions of Star Trek available in this universe and, in fact, openly declared their dislike for science fiction in general. After seeing Star Trek Into Darkness, they emerged as fans. They couldn’t believe how great the movie was. They were bubbling with excitement, eager for the next sequel.

That’s what they call “expanding the constituency.” It’s a marketers dream come true, and no doubt one of the reasons Paramount partnered with J. J. Abrams for the Star Trek reboot.

But I’m part of the original constituency – the one dating back to Star Trek: The Original Series (a.k.a. “TOS”). For my part, I fulfilled my dream merely by Continue Reading “Star Trek Into Darkness Review: Man Enough to Admit the Truth”

Who Owns Your Data?

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Towards the end of the day, I finally rediscovered how to use Twitter on my Blackberry. Then I discovered I could retweet faster than I could type. Since a lot of 965897_88613402_data_stock_xchng_royalty_free_300folks had similar ideas to mine, retweeting became the most efficient method for me to get those ideas out of my head and into the Twittosphere known as #SMACSRIT.

#SMACSRIT was the hashtag for the Rochester Institute of Technology’s Social Media and Communication Symposium (SMACS) II, a lively, entertaining and enlightening event held on – at least what started out as – a rainy Thursday on September 29, 2011. I could write about each session, but, perhaps bowing to the behavioral phenomenon called “recency” – the tendency to overweight the last thing seen – I’ll focus on the final keynoter, who posed an intriguing question while Continue Reading “Who Owns Your Data?”

“Hey! You’re Not Supposed to Do That!”

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Screamed the older woman to the group of middle schoolers playing football in the middle of the astroturfed field house. The field house was the University of 585059_95438463_Robot_Football_stock_xchng_royalty_free_300Rochester’s Goergen Athletic Center. The tweens – both boys and girls – were members of various Lego robotics teams. The woman was a coach for one of the teams. Apparently, her concern involved something about the potential of a football crashing into someone’s fragile plastic robot – a potential never realized despite the footballers ignoring her plea.

But, think about the setting before you off-handedly flip the page.

Earlier in the day, at the morning coaches meeting, one of the coaches labeled the Continue Reading ““Hey! You’re Not Supposed to Do That!””

Is Social Media the Key to a Better Government, a Better New York and a Better Western New York?

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I’ve been meaning to write this for a while – maybe years – but I’ve been too afraid. I’ve been too afraid people would see the idea as crazy. I’ve been too afraid people 15141_3708_ethernet_router_stock_xchng_royalty_free_300would fail to believe the problem exists. I’ve been too afraid people would read politics instead of common sense. In a phrase, I’ve been too afraid.

And, I admit, I’m still a little afraid. With today’s culture in the noose of political correctness, it seems any misplaced modifier has the power to send one to ruin. Ruin, I am told, is not a very good place to visit, let alone live in. Perhaps it’s because it rains there every day.

Whatever the case, on the whole, I’d rather be in Philadelphia. Well, maybe not the City of Brotherly Love, for it has become the City of the Blogger Levy. According to the Continue Reading “Is Social Media the Key to a Better Government, a Better New York and a Better Western New York?”

Has Chris Anderson Crossed to the Dark Side?

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Last week, Chris Anderson, Editor-in-Chief for Wired Magazine and author of The Long Tail and Free, took a trip to the Dark Side. In doing so, he introduced a 689354_27523471_gothic_stairs_royalty_free_stock_xchng_300cavalcade of fascinating concepts, revealed an insider’s secret fear and scared the you-know-what out of a cadre of faithful fans. What did he say? More importantly, why did he say it? Most urgently, does this portend a change no one wants to see?

Speaking at RIT’s “The Future of Reading” conference, Anderson offered no apologies for the apparent decline in the publishing industry – he pointed out Conde Nast, his employer, had sales growth in 2009 despite the record industry downturn. Further, he added these two choice morsels: “books still work” and “the web FAILed.”

Actually, in the case of the latter, Anderson referred to his own magazine’s site, which generates precious little cash flow for his company. You could envision him shudder as Continue Reading “Has Chris Anderson Crossed to the Dark Side?”

Six Things I Discovered From My Twitter Experiment

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3251106353_5e938c592f_o_Twitter_Logo_Bug-Eyed_Bird_250Have you ever read a book that offered a great idea and wondered if it really worked? That’s precisely what I felt after I read Twitter Power by @Joel Comm (here’s the book review). In the book the author outlines a 30-day plan for “dominating Twitter.” So from November 14, 2009 through December 13, 2009 I conducted an experiment. In the process, I discovered these six critical facts about my Twitter use. Has your own Twitter experience revealed similar eye-openers?

  1. Continue Reading “Six Things I Discovered From My Twitter Experiment”

Final Tally – Midnight, December 13, 2009 – Did It Really Work?

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Start of Day Twitter Stats: Follow: 172 Followers: 194 Listed: 9

Missed yesterday? Go here to read what happened on Day 30 – December 13, 2009 (Sun): Have Fun!

twitter_power_joel_comm_150Above you see the final tally as of Midnight, Day 30. In fairness, if I used the same criteria as in all other previous days, the number would have been reported as of the following morning: 202 followers. Who estimated the closest? @mikegastin, who guessed 207. If you’re interest Mike, I hit 207 late on the 31st day. Now, before anyone says anything, Mike was also the first person to guess – on Day 13 – so he really did do the best job.

@mikegastin wants a free trip to Aruba as a result of his grand prognostication. Unfortunately, I didn’t have anything the budget for prizes, so the notoriety of the mention represents all I have to offer. Hopefully, it’s good enough. On the other hand, Mike might be pleased to know Continue Reading “Final Tally – Midnight, December 13, 2009 – Did It Really Work?”

Day 30 – December 13, 2009 (Sun): Have Fun!

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Start of Day Twitter Stats: Follow: 170 Followers: 184 Listed: 9

Missed yesterday? Go here to read what happened on Day 29 – December 12, 2009 (Sat): Find Followers on Your New Timeline

twitter_power_joel_comm_150It’s the last day. Where will I end up at midnight tonight?

You might notice a steep jump in followers between yesterday and today. I must attribute it to one thing: @chrisbrogan started following me. The total increase of 24 followers represents more than a 15% increase in followers in one day. Yes, I know we started with a low base, but I can’t discount the significance. I certainly can’t say it had anything to do with what I did yesterday. I was having fun teaching my daughters how to tweet and how to blog. OK, OK, I did get into a few conversations, including the one that led @chrisbrogan to follow.

Also, for the first time since the start of this experiment, I’ve got more followers than people I follow. I don’t know exactly what that means, but it must mean something.

As I near the end of the road in this experiment, I can say I’ve learned a bunch of things. I’ll compile them and present them as separate blogs – bite-sized pieces if you will. Tomorrow I’ll post my preliminary conclusions. They may surprise you. Because I’ve been holding back a vital piece of information from you. It’s a piece of information all good experiments require.

How many followers do you think I’ll have after 30 days? Click here to enter your guess on my Survey Monkey survey “Chris Carosa’s 30-Day Plan to Dominate Twitter Experiment.” There’s no prize, but the fan who guesses the closest correct number the earliest will “win” and I’ll mention you if you want me to.

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