It’s Time To Talk About Gun-Meme Control

As a few of you know, I lost somebody in my family to gun violence. I guess you all know that now.

I don’t let his death (at age 26)  consume me. I don’t commemorate the anniversary. I am way past the guilt phase; there is absolutely, nothing that I could have differently in his lifetime  that would have changed the outcome. Moreover, I go to great lengths to not let his death color my judgement on topics such as the capital punishment, gun rights, etc.

However, in this era, there are periodic reminders of that event, of that unnecessary waste of a young life, and it’s difficult not to go back to that day. The reminders aren’t limited to actual news events, either. It’s more the followup that occurs on the social-media channels such as Facebook.

That all being said, I think the shrill cries of “we need more guns” and “we need to ban all guns now” are equally ludicrous. Honestly, my opinions are not that extreme one way or the other, and think that many of conclusions on the topic are the result of a gross oversimplification of reality.

However what is really, really peculiar to me is that some (not all) of the people who brag about having Jesus on their speed-dial are the first ones to respond to a headline-grabbing shooting with status updates bragging about how many rounds-per-second their piece can fire. Or they share memes, adorned with dodgy statistics, hackneyed phrases, and often with fake quotes.

Whether the claims in the post or shared memes are right or wrong is inconsequential. My personal opinion is that it’s pretty fucking insensitive to post these publicly after mass shootings. Or any other time for that matter.

I don’t need anymore goddamn reminders of that early morning phone call I got a few Augusts ago. I doubt anybody who’s gone through a similar experience is chomping at the bit to see your memes of Ronald McDonald cradling an AR-15,  either.

If these memes of gun worship really make you feel better, then consider putting them in your computer’s screen saver or you phone’s photo gallery. I think many of us would prefer you keep your false idols to yourself.

I expect, like with other controversial topics, my opinion will be considered offensive to some  and might  result a few “unfriendings” of Facebook,  etc. If that is your choice,  so be it.

That’s a clear  indicator we weren’t friends to begin with.

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Once You’re Gone, You Can’t Come Back

(This article is about Linkedin’s publishing features, I guess the headline qualifies as clickbait, is the first time I did that intentionally, and sickened to say this, but it felt great).

For the second time, I inadvertently deleted a draft of an in-progress Linkedin article. In both cases, I don’t really know what happened. I think today the draft was deleted when I was merely trying to delete the header image.

Unlike the previous occurrence, the draft I deleted this morning was approaching completion. I had just done my final(ish) rewrite and was planning to publish the article this morning.

Linkedin’s Help section said “Once you’ve deleted your article from LinkedIn, it no longer exists on our platform and we’re unable to retrieve it.”

Hmm….that has a bit of a 20th century aroma, doesn’t it?

I acknowledge that I was controlling the mouse and keyboard, I was the user who (unintentionally) went through the sequence of events to delete the draft.

Though rewriting a nearly completed article seems like a rather severe punishment for the crime (misdemeanor?) of an absent-minded misclick. Agree?

One (3rd-party) help page suggested a work-around that would have me create a new, empty article and “just” paste the text of the deleted article.

Just? Paste? That assumes that the text of article is on my clipboard, and that I JUST copied, or JUST cut it. It’s an equally viable recommendation to say ” ‘Just’ don’t delete anything, ever.”

Perhaps Linkedin could “just” add a draft-restore feature.

I understand why all deleted content can’t be in a recoverable state until the end of time. Linkedin can’t store every byte of user-created data forever. There has to be a purge cycle.

Though, the ability to recover recently lost content seems like an expected feature of modern information systems. At least I expect it.

Perhaps it’s time that Linkedin and I had the “Principle Five” talk, about tolerance for (user) error in design. Quite simply, Principal Five of the Universal Design guidelines holds:

  • “The design minimizes hazards and the adverse consequences of accidental or unintended actions.”

I recognize that not every potential user pitfall can be accounted for in testing a site as large as Linkedin. Thus, improvements are often going be the result of input from users.

On that topic, I don’t see a means to submit feature requests or to provide constructive criticism to Linkedin. It might be there somewhere, but is not immediately evident (<sigh> a Princple Three violation).

Providing users the ability to recover an inadvertently deleted draft does not have need to be a lifetime commitment for Linkedin. It seems that a predefined recovery window (one or three days, perhaps) would be sufficient.

Hell, I if I had a 45-second window to recover a draft, I wouldn’t be writing this article.

If you were fished in by the headline and read this to very end, thanks for doing so, here is a token of my appreciation;


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Content and Coffee Tour 2017

(My “Content and Coffee” tour is resuming after a brief respite. Below is a description, from article,  originally posted on Linkedin in April 19th 2017.  )

Pancakes Make People Happy

Pancakes (and Coffee) Make Me  Happy

Just got home from my second stop on my Content and Coffee Tour, meeting with Matt Patulski at Little Lucy’s Café in Grand Rapids. This meeting comes just a few days after the inaugural event with Laura Bergells at the venerable Horrocks.

Both are long-time friends with great ideas about creating, managing, publishing, and curating content, who happen to like coffee (what are the odds?). Glad to be working with both of them on the West Michigan Content Strategy Meetup.

A couple of weeks ago, I completed an engagement as a SharePoint administrator. I’d contacted a few friends (some of them are actually former colleagues and clients!) about “catching up” over coffee. Then at our content strategy meetup last week, and talking to members, the idea evolved into a listening tour where I learn, and document, as much as a I can about all forms of content.

I’m planning some more stops in West Michigan, Detroit and Chicago in the next few weeks, and possibly Whipple Ohio (the quality and volume of happy content there is stunning).

I’ll also be making a nostalgia trip to the East Coast later in the year, so I’d be up for content talk at Fenway Park, or in Bar Harbor, or at the Delaware Water Gap. I might even be talked into Glastonbury, Connecticut.

Let’s talk! I’d love to hear more about content tribulations and triumphs from all of my content friends and friends to be.

If you don’t like coffee, that is not a showstopper. We can make it Content and Skimmed Milk, Content and Sushi, Content and IPA, or Content and Onion Rings.

Because everything goes with content!

If we can’t meet in person, let’s talk via phone, Skype or your favorite communication vehicle. Please contact me here and we’ll make arrangements.

(You want that mug, don’t you? Everybody does. You can order one here. Or you can visit POSH in Chicago, on State Street, that great street…)

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Feeling Their Pain: Addressing Heavy-Backpack Syndrome

My son’s school held an event last week where parents were invited for coffee and conversation with the school principal.  Some of the discussions were specific to the school, though many were more-universal topics: dress codes, athletics, standardized tests… for all of these there were clear next step for action.

Heavy-backpack syndrome was also brought up. There were a few soft recommendations, but no action items.

I entered parenthood a little later than most people do, but I’d been reading about backpack burden for many years.  Until my son entered 6th grade last year, this wasn’t a proximate issue.  In 7th grade now, he is a strapping young man, bigger and taller than most of the kids his age.  His backpack, replete with books for 6 classes, change of clothes for sports, a water bottle, and homework projects, causes him pain in his neck, back and arms.

Not severe pain, but daily pain. If you’ve suffered carpal-tunnel, or other repetitive-stress injuries, minor stress on a regular  basis can become a debilitating condition.

His current daily load, weighs in at 30+ lbs. To read that term (30+ lbs) that might not sound like a significant burden. So think of this it way, imagine yourself hauling around two of these all day:

Shot put


When the backpack burden  comes up in conversations with schools, some talk about the future:  when all the materials will be digital and the kids will just need to lug around a tablet.

Some teachers and many parents, prefer to talk about the distant past. Back when they lugged a heavy backpack. I always grit my teeth during  the “in my day”  rants, which soon  decay into tales  of a  15-mile walk to school: barefoot in the snow, uphill both ways and they “didn’t complain!” Sounds to me like they’re complaining now, about events that years, or decades in the past.

The fact is that is students’  backpack burden is a problem that has been discussed for generations with seemingly little effort to provide solutions. Because it doesn’t directly effect those in positions of power, the adults.

It’s not enough for adults to talk about, or hear about the problem.  Change will only happen if there is first-hand experience with the burden.

Thus I propose this  empathy-building exercise:

  • For one month, school staff, and parents would be asked to lug around 25+ lbs of dead weight in a backpack and walk with it for at least 5 minutes, every hour. This should be repeated 5 days each week.
  • Provide a mechanism for participants to provide feedback and solution proposals, and establish deadline by which the feedback will be published.
  • Escalate the challenge to district leadership and establish deadlines for the superintendent to evaluate and propose solution scenarios.

If solutions involve significant policy changes, or costs, then the challenge should be made to state and federal lawmakers. Change will follow.

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