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The Right Time and Place: Hope for the Social-Media Marketer

social-networking

As I am oft to do, I found myself thinking about if my social media presence is really worth the amount of effort that I put into it. Does all this networking really amount to anything? Or, am I just spinning my wheels? There is always that sinking feeling that no matter how many people I network with, that I am forever resigned to be a small fish in a huge pond, and my work as an Author will never see a positive result from it. I’ve never given into this way of thinking, but admittedly, it’s something that has plagued me. Until recently.

As I am also oft to do, I was watching some interesting videos on Youtube. The video in this case was a speech given by one of my favourite intellects of our time: Ray Kurzweil. If you don’t know him, which is very unlikely, I’ll fill in the gap for you.

Ray is a futurist, famous for writing his incredibly successful book ‘The Singularity is Near’ wherein Ray discusses how very shortly, within the next three decades, humankind will undergo a rapid change as a result of its developing technology. He is also a famed inventor, responsible for creating the first keyboard capable of orchestral quality sound recreation. My friend, an audio engineer by trade, actually uses one of these keyboards, so I can attest to its amazing sound. In Kurzweil’s book he predicts some incredible things. Some of which are so far-reaching in their implications one might seriously consider discounting the man as a nut-job. The problem with Kurzweil is this: he is not some nut-job. His hugely successful career is a testament to that fact. The man is considered such an amazing mental power Google has seen fit in recent years to hire him as director of engineering. There is no denying, the man is on the cutting edge of what is possible in the coming future.

Introductions finished, let’s get into what exactly the man was talking about in his video that I found inspiring. He was talking about what had made him so successful in his career. Namely what gave him an edge over the competition. To do this he asked a question. He said to the audience in attendance, ‘Why do you think Facebook is so successful?’. He asked smiling, ‘Do you think it’s because Mark Zuckerberg needed to reach an age where his brilliance could be released on the world?’. One could assume from the playful way in which he suggested the idea, that this was most certainly not the case.

He went on to say that although there was no denying the brilliance of those involved with the project for recognizing the opportunity, there were far greater forces at work for its successful carrying out: right place, and right time. Kurzweil assured the audience, and I’m inclined to agree with him, that Zuckerberg and his cohorts were not the first to have this idea: interconnected social systems on the web. The important thing to realize he said, is that even if you had conceived the idea many years before, regardless of how amazing it was, you could not implement it without other technological factors catching up. Kurzweil pointed out that Facebook was impossible in a time when using the Internet meant dial-up modems and crackling interruptions to the connection as we yelled down the hall at loved ones for sabotaging our usage. And like a magician pulling the rabbit from his hat, when Kurzweil said this the audience gave an audible ‘ohhh’, myself included.

The point Kurzweil was making—if you haven’t already guessed—is that success is the result of two equal parts: knowing what technology, creation, or innovation is needed, and realizing when temporally it can be nominally utilized. Now we come to why I found this utterly inspiring. This concept is directly relateable to social-media as a tool for advertising, and whether or not it will grow in both potency and potential. This relates as well to a thought I’ve had recently: no matter the era, we are always living with the illusion that we are living in the future, or at the very least, the cutting edge of what is possible. When in reality, this could not be farther from the truth. We are no less cave-men, by technological standards, than cave-men.

From considering these two ideas: the still massive potential of social-media, and our misunderstanding of technology, I derived the true significance of what Kurzweil was saying: we have only now just reached the tip of what is possible through social-marketing. The evidence perhaps which best demonstrates this fact is the growth and progress of information technology / the Internet and its usage. Certainly it’s easy to lose ourselves, like I do so often, thinking that we’ve pretty much bottomed out. That is to say, how much faster or more interconnected could we become? The answer is simple: a lot.

I did not want to stuff this piece of writing with a bunch of figures, as it is more a philosophical rambling piece, but I’ll toss in a few for their added strength to the argument. I was looking at figures which displayed the Internet’s growth taken from the year 2000 until 2012. The stats were quite a revelation. Africa’s growth usage in the aforementioned time periods was mind-boggling, growing roughly three thousand six hundred per cent. During the same time period globally, the Internet’s usage grew five hundred and sixty-six per cent. The Internet is booming, and in the coming five years will grow yet again at a nearly inconceivable rate due to Moore’s law of exponential progress. You can see its evidence everywhere: phones, computing power, and transmission speeds. With the advent of ‘fifth generation transmission’—in which speeds achieved are thirty times faster than the current LTE—the world is going to change in a way that for lack of a better word could be described as—weird.

So for those of us worried if we’re tapped out in terms of what we stand to gain in free advertising from social-media, fear not. If you have started to throw together a ‘social media mud-hovel’ as I like to describe my current empire, you have not missed the boat. You actually stand perfectly positioned to still reap all the benefits of this rapidly changing era. Put succinctly, you have entered into the arena, at the perfect place and time.

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Safe Walls

I walk down the halls check all of the rooms
Everything in its right place clean sharp corners to sleep
No one’s getting round my eye on my keep
It took so many years to get it right
Each timber a flight from some new life

I made it safe I made it sound
Safe walls that rose from solid ground
I wonder though am I afraid these walls that surround of mortal clay
They keep everything out except what I’ve let in
The cast is growing smaller patience growing thin

These hands were good these hands held strong
How quickly they built a mocking bird’s song
I’ve got a castle now fill it with all my pets of prey
They are the only ones I can count on not to come back at the end of the day

I made it safe I made it sound
Safe walls that rose from solid ground
I wonder though am I afraid these walls that surround of mortal clay
They keep everything out except what I’ve let in
The cast is growing smaller patience growing thin

To build a home is a sacred thing
They say build it in your heart where you can be king
But what of your heart its state and its place
Making decisions in the dark hidden from the light of days
The perfect sanctuary respite reprieve
Who knows behind a darkling gate what we come to believe

I made it safe I made it sound
Safe walls that rose from solid ground
I wonder though am I afraid these walls that surround of mortal clay
They keep everything out except what I’ve let in
The cast is growing smaller patience growing thin

Winter Waterfall

Avocado

While living in Japan I’ve tried to avoid setting a strict unbending routine. With that in mind, when Kimura sensei, a diminutive woman with a fierce passion for life, invited me out this past weekend for a fresh air frolic to a waterfall in Chiba Prefecture, I said yes. I work with her at Matsuo JHS. We met at the start of my second year during the annual March term shuffle of teachers. One of those wonderful unexpected surprises. Accompanying Kimura sensei and myself on the hike were two of her friends. Before continuing I should mention that Chiba Prefecture has a business relationship with the state of Wisconsin USA. Defining the relationship is the salty business of soy sauce and the factories that make it, of which Wisconsin has many. Additionally, I’ve discovered it includes programs recruiting Wisconsians who wish to teach in Japan. Kimura’s friends are two such recruits who’ve made use of that association. It was from them I finally learned of the relationship’s extensive impact on the region. It did much to clear a growing haze of foreboding clouding my thoughts. One that had me deeply concerned that I’d landed myself in an episode of the twilight zone, titled “Revenge of the Fromagians,” where the only people left in Japan were those of native birth, and those with a profound knowledge of cheese, bordering on eldritch.

We, the Canadian and pair of Wisconsians, met Kimura sensei at the train station in the morning. A glorious winter sun brightly lit a cloudless sky, providing the backdrop for a wonderful day. We did not wait long before a smiling Kimura sensei drove up in our ride for the day. Her vehicle defined Japanese engineering, gas efficient enough to run for days on an eye dropper. Small enough to fill me with horror as I speculated that only a cirque du soleil performer could actually fit in it. The ride was surprisingly smooth and spacious. All I had to do was nearly crush the girl sitting behind me. Not in a metropolitan area to begin with, we quickly found ourselves surrounded by pastoral Japan’s elegance. Tiny roads, rice fields, and corridors cut out from the forest, provided space for homes. Ubiquitous towering bamboo surrounding us created the illusion that an infinite forest stretched in all directions. A fascinating element of Japanese architecture is its mix of old and new. Out in the boonies however, ancient styles are unquestionably prevalent. With no signs of modern society other than the road and car, the mind can play tricks on itself. I found myself more than once stopped at a crossroad, stealing surreptitious glances out the window. Worried a charge of mounted samurai lay in wait to overturn the vehicle and slay us for the honour of their Daiymo. The cowards never did attack.

Kimura sensei eventually informed us, much to the relief of my crushed friend in the back, that we would make a stop at a mid way point. I recommend that anyone visiting Japan, who finds themselves out in this neck of the bamboo, stop where we did. A place called Awamata Herb Island. Vegetarian paradise. The business has a fantastic concept, green house herb garden with attached restaurant. All the food cooked in their kitchen comes from the seasonal produce grown in the greenhouse. I’ve included at the top of this post a picture of an avocado tree found within. Enjoying first a walk through the fragrant rows of plants, we then ordered our food from a cashier and waited for our order to come up in the pass. Picnic style, comfortable sturdy wooden benches provided the seating while we waited. Above us hung a low net ceiling completely grown through with verdant vines. The greenhouse’s proximity foreshadowed the food with its herbaceous smells. I had the basil pasta and tormented the women of our expedition by treating myself to two desserts, woe to those who watch their waist line. If partaking of meals while sitting in an idyllic garden interests you, there exists no finer venue.

Lunch

Concluding our conversation, our plates wiped clean, we set out again. Driving twenty more minutes brought us to a parking lot. A short walk through the countryside awaited us before actually reaching the river trail leading to the waterfall. This, presented another opportunity to experience rural Japanese culture. Stalls dotted the landscape, set up by local farmers who sold seasonal items, from decorative wreaths to enticing simple sweets. Everything tempted me and I would have tried it all if not having eaten so recently. Passing through the farmers fields we reached stairs which descended to a place marking the official start of our hike. Reaching the bottom a concrete lane snaked along the walls of the riverbed, well maintained and populated by others out to bask in the sunshine. Beginning the walk signaled the start of new easy flowing conversation. Time, like the water beside us, passed pleasantly. I punctuated our discussion with stops to snap pictures of our surroundings. Great shots were in abundance. Wherever you looked, frames of natural symmetry vied for the camera lens’s attention. Trees hung over the water and walkway, sparsely graced with vermilion leaves. Stragglers, defiant of Fall, still clung to bony fingered branches bleached white in the mid day sun. A pastel blue sky made a perfect canvas for the sharp colours contrasted against it, yellow, gold, and orange. Even the surface of the water became art, blanketed with the small star shapes of Japanese maple. They have a word for when the wind blows and cherry blossoms fall from trees. I imagine there must be a Winter equivalent for dead leaves, I never asked. With my camera battery exhausted we came to the waterfall. Taking a break at the popular spot, we assisted those needing an extra pair of hands to take a picture. After snapping a group shot of our own, we then started on our way back. Kimura sensei hosted us that night for dinner. We dined on Okonomiyaki, a Japanese style savoury pancake, along with plenty of wine, beer, and sake of course. A treasured memory and one I will not soon forget.

I talk about this trip on my YouTube channel DaveTrippin, if you care to check it out.

The gallery section of this web-page has more shots of the journey if you wish to see them.