If you have a few minutes, please visit my photography website and take a look at some of my work. I'm really enjoying my shutterbug hobby. Maybe someday it will become a second business!
If you have a few minutes, please visit my photography website and take a look at some of my work. I'm really enjoying my shutterbug hobby. Maybe someday it will become a second business!
Do you know what to do with this black and white square? Survey says... probably not.
Recently, an article from AdAge® Digital pointed out that QR codes are not gaining traction with consumers even though many marketing, advertising and public relations professionals seem to be in love with them. The article above cites a study completed nearly a year ago (a century in online time), saying that "only 5% of Americans who have mobile phones have used them."
What bothered me most about this study and this article wasn't the 5% statistic; it was the number of marketing and public relations professionals I am "friends" with or "follow" who were ready to lift the dying QR corpse on to a pyre and watch it burn. "HA, I TOLD YOU SO" was the general sentiment offered. It's as if they wanted vindication; proof that these silly QR codes are an ineffective tool.
Here's the problem with that: all the statistic and the article has proven is that we've failed to write and implement strategies and tactics that leverage this exciting new technology.
Translation: If QR codes aren't working, it's really our fault.
I am disappointed in the way that we tend to only embrace and utilize technology when it's already deeply rooted in society and someone else can show us how to use it best. We need to be early adopters, not laggards. We should be in on the ground floor, shaping the way these new technologies are used in marketing and public relations (and making our clients look like digital rock stars). To do that, we need to approach things like QR codes with a little more of what we learned in the college classroom - Objectives, Strategies and Tactics (a little Diffusion of Innovation wouldn't hurt either).
What follows here is my analysis of the problem and detailed examination of potential barriers/solutions to QR code success.
What is a QR code? A Quick Response (QR) code is essentially a new-fangled barcode (a matrix barcode to be exact), that has been around in some form or another since 1997. These 2 dimensional codes can be printed on many things the same way a barcode is on items at the grocery store, but now there are mobile apps to read them. What does this mean for the general public? It should mean that they can download a free application onto their smart phone and gain access to exclusive content from their favorite brands.
Why are QR codes an exciting new technology to begin with? Well, imagine all the people out there who have smart phones and don't really know how to use them to connect with their favorite brands and neat exclusive online content (I know a few). These folks still consume physical communication mediums; they still get their info from things like newspapers, restaurant menus, signs on the bathroom stall, billboards and posters (don't we all?). Or, consider tech-savvy people who don't feel like typing a long web address from a piece of paper into their browser even if the address might lead to something neat.
Sometimes, the creators of these physical pieces of paper/plastic/metal want to move the reader from looking at a flat, non-interactive surface to connecting with an interactive online presence. In the past, we had to count on users writing down (or remembering) our web address and actually following through on their mobile phone or computer when they arrived at home.
No longer - just pull out your smart phone, scan the QR code with a free app, and BAM! You are magically taken to content that thrills you.
It has been quite a year since last I wrote on the blog. In summer 2012 I finished my thesis (Facebook Anonymous Information Seeking (FAIS) Behaviors - Emerging Definitions and Conceptual Relationships) and taught my first class as an adjunct at The University of Akron. Late in August, I was offered a full time Visiting Lecturer position in Public Relations by The School of Communication at The University of Akron. I accepted and embarked on a full teaching schedule.
Teaching upper level courses in Public Relations has been a very rewarding experience. My first semester I taught Public Relations Strategies, two selections of Public Relations Publications and Interpersonal Communication. Of all three classes, Public Relations Publications is the one I was most able to make my own. I chose new books, re-interpreted the curriculum into new and exciting projects, and used my former training in typography to set my standards high. The results have been incredible. I always tell students that my favorite moments are those when I see one of them create something I never would have thought of. It's a surprisingly common occurance in Publications.
If we are Facebook friends, some of these photographs might seem old, and they are certainly not all-inclusive, but they are some of my favorites over the past year or so. If you're new to me, you can see some previous photos here: Photography Portfolio.
Father's day has been over for a few hours now, but I find myself thinking about my father as I edit the final draft of my Master's Thesis. My father was a software engineer who loved technology, and I know he'd be interested in my study, which looks at computer mediated communication, specifically, information seeking behaviors on Facebook. It was my father who taught me to love science. I remember watching video from the Hubble telescope and I remember dad bringing home freeze-dried ice cream from his trips to the NASA space centers. To me, his job was glamorous, working on space ships. And he did, he programmed the software for the life systems on the space shuttles. Tucked away at mom's house are photographs of him with famous astronauts. He even had his picture featured in a book published by NASA.
I remember being little and getting into all sorts of scientific trouble with dad. We raised sea monkeys, used a rock tumbler, made a human hair hygrometer and went by the lake to watch for waterspouts. I remember trying to assemble models of human cells with plastic bowls and clay, and I remember how excited he was to build us our first computer. My dad's home office was full of curiosities like an old reel to reel tape machine, little bendy circuit boards and electronic tools.
When the school let us shadow someone, I wanted to shadow my dad. I went with him to a day at work and then I went with him to teach night school at Cleveland State University, in their department of continuing education. His students were surprised that a tween was so adamant about following along with the C++ lesson they were learning. Another year I had a math project, and dad and I wrote a program where you plugged in the endpoints of two lines and the program calculated the intersection. I was so proud of that little program.
To get into my memories of my father is somewhat painful I must admit. Life is so very long, even when you are 29 years old. The things that happened when you were 8 or 12 or even 16 become so foggy and fuzzy. They are like still photos or a few strips of film that you can barely run through the old rusted projector. It's heartbreaking sometimes, not being able to enjoy a vivid, visceral memory. The one memory that is always vivid, maybe because mom has it on video tape somewhere, is the way it sounded when Dad talked to me when I was a baby. "Julie Ann," I can hear him saying. Maybe on some Christmas morning, or during some other family get together. It's the memories that you play over and over that you remember, but you know there were so many days in between that are gone for good without someone else to remind you.
Anyway, I don't want to write too much else right now about our relationship. I do have to get back to editing my massive thesis document. But, the thing that inspired me to pop on and write, that I do want to write about. As I was working, and thinking about my dad, I did what I often do when I'm thinking of someone, I google them. Strange? Maybe. But, somehow a person's google results are proof that they were here. I've googled great grandma Marian a number of times since she passed away last month and seeing the story I wrote about her on her 100th birthday and her mixed media piece at the Lakeland art show, somehow I find some comfort in that.
I've google'd my father before. One time I even found a patent with his name on it, but that was nowhere to be found tonight, maybe it's expired by now. In fact, only two things came up. One was my great grandmother's obituary, which listed his name as someone who had preceded her in death. The second is a note I wrote on a donation website in 2009, when I made a donation in dad's name. A friend of a friend was looking for books for the kids in his classroom in an inner city school in NYC. He wanted to start a library. When my friend posted about it, it made me think of dad and how important education and reading were to him. Anyway, it broke my heart tonight that he only appeared in three Google results. Dad was a remarkable person, and I feel like there should be more of a record.
Though I miss my father frequently for many important reasons, I often begin missing him because of technology. I'll be sitting around marveling at something new, or messing with some piece of technology; my iPhone, my computer, my e-mail, Google, Facebook, my blog, my amazing photo editing program, etc., and I'll realize at some point that Dad never got to see any of these things. He passed away at age 43 in 1998. In 1998, there was no Facebook - was there even Google? Not really. Google incorporated in September of 1998; my father passed away on August 23rd. I can't even imagine how fascinated my father would have been, or how he would have become involved with the wonderful technology we have today.
And, it makes me sad that he's not indexed in Google for all of his accomplishments as a programmer and as a person. So, I'm going to put his full name here, and someone can read about our sea monkeys, the games we played on the Vectrex and his love of Peter Gabriel that I didn't understand until he had been gone a few years. My father's name was James David Powell III. I wish he could see all of the amazing things that have happened since he has been gone, and I wish I could search him on Google and find pieces of his life, which are pieces of mine as well. Mostly, I wish I could know him as an adult. I wish we could talk, adult to adult, and I wish I could know him better. I wish he was here to meet my husband and to be a part of my family. I wonder how life would be different if he was here. Suffice it to say, losing him has been the biggest heartbreak of my life, and the biggest lesson in the fleeting nature of existence. I try not to take anything for granted, and I hope that one day I get to see him again.
Happy Father's Day Dad.
Mother's Day is a time to reflect on the blessings of your relationship with the woman who gave you life on this earth, who nurtured that life from a tiny seed to a whole person and who denied herself to give you the greatest gift that one person can give another in this life.
One of my earliest memories of my mother is sitting at a kitchen table coloring. She always had the most beautiful penmanship and she could color perfectly in between the lines. I remember I would ask her to draw peas and carrots, and she would draw perfect little green peas and square orange carrots (like my favorite frozen veggie blend), using a tight swirling motion to create even coverage with precision. To my little mind, she was a crayon magician. I also remember bath time, and the way it felt when she reminded me to say my prayers, my skin still soft from the soap and water in my warm pajamas. I remember hearing the theme from Married With Children playing just before the door closed, when she would head down to spend mommy and daddy time after the little ones fell asleep.
I also remember her on Christmas. Mom and dad's epic shopping and wrapping made for the most exciting days of my childhood. I remember laying in bed in another house with candelabra in the window and pink footie bambi pajamas. Dad had just read us the Night Before Christmas, and I remember laying with a pounding heart, looking at the flower patterns on the ceiling, waiting for Santa. Little did I know that Mom and Dad were down there stacking presents and adjusting bows before they collapsed a few hours. In her beautiful, long nightgown the next morning, mom would sit and watch with excitement as we opened each gift. That year there may have been ice skating lessons, which meant even more work for mom, getting both me and my brother there each time. I never became a figure skater, but I still remember the excitement of opening the package with skating lessons.
Mom made sure that we had so many opportunities. I remember when we purchased my first violin at Phabe's music, and I'm sure it was a sacrifice for my parents at a few hundred dollars. I also remember when she bought me my current violin so I could study in college, a much bigger sacrifice and investment. I remember countless trips to various places so I could take a lesson, play in an orchestra, act in a play, check out library books, visit my grandmas, participate in Life Teen and see friends from our old neighborhood. When I was being bullied and teased in school, mom and dad invested in Catholic school in the hopes of giving us a better education.
I remember mom making play-dough. Those were some of the funnest days. She had a secret play-dough recipe that was much better than the stuff that came in cans. We'd spend hours at the kitchen table morphing it into dinosaurs and dolls and various shapes. I'm sure that play-dough was an unholy mess to make and clean up, but she made it anyway and spent afternoons playing with us.
Maybe her most remarkable sacrifice, the one that meant the most then and still means the most now is that mom gave up her independence and chance at a career life to make us her life. Though I know many moms need to work and choose to work, I want to thank mine for being home with me. Those long hours spent coloring or playing, picking up crab apples, going to swimming lessons, skating lessons, music lessons and God knows what else, those hours made my childhood really special. Looking back now, I envy my childhood self. Running in the sprinkler on a hot sunny day, coloring or reading on rainy ones. Having someone to hold my hand, dress my scraped knee and wipe my tears when the kids played tricks on me at birthday parties in my delicate adolescent years; I can never say thank you enough for those things.
And then came the most difficult time for all of us. My father passing away suddenly in his early forties made the world stop in its tracks. The pain and anguish suffered by mom, me, my siblings; even now, more than a decade later, the profound sadness and anger that accompanied that event is fresh in my mind. Coupled with the angst of my already challenging transition to adulthood, I am sure I was not a pleasant person to be around. Mom then began to teach me the most important life lesson, by example. Faced with a difficult path, she could have chosen to react many different ways, but the way she reacted then and now is to do what she had done all along, to put herself second, to put her needs and wants and desires second, maybe more like fifth, and to put her children ahead. She has helped each one of us above and beyond the call of duty, nurtured us, given to us, shared with us, sometimes to her detriment. If not for her, none of us would have ever had a chance to be where we are now. At this moment I am reminded of the help she gave me with my wedding, which was far and above what was comfortable or easy for her. It was a beautiful day I will never forget and without her, it never would have been possible.
She has also continued to help others. Her family, my father's family, my new family, a little boy in Guatemala through Catholic Charities, a young man at the school she works at and even a rescue dog from the church parking lot. Mom has made her home and heart open to so many who are either orphans or who have difficulties in this world. She has showed us by example how to follow the Golden rule, how to treat others as we want to be treated. She has walked the walk of love. This was never more obvious than the day I sat with her just before her mother passed away and watched her dab her mother's lips with a moist cotton ball to keep her comfortable. During the heartbreaking moments, mom's love shone through and touched my heart.
Mom may not always be perfect, but she was perfect for me. I want to be like my mother, a person people can count on, a person who is reliably good, who gives of herself to help others. I hope that I can be as good a mother to my children as my mother was to me.
I love you mom. I will never forget everything you have done for me and everything you have given me. You gave me life and you made my life a life worth living. Thank you for being you.
This is a poem and piece of art that I created for a design class. Though this design was not chosen by my professor, I was proud of my work on it. Thus, I am sharing it with the dwindling readers of my much-dormant blog. I'm finishing up my Masters thesis right now, so I don't have a lot to share other than to say that I'll be back soon!
This image, and the poetry therein is copyrighted by me. Please do not use it without permission. Thank you!
I think it all comes down to this statement. I am a writer, a crafter of copy. I enjoy telling a story, whether it's about pneumatic parts or heartwarming community events. I am also a photographer and sometimes graphic designer. I love composing images. In addition to these things, I am a researcher. I love using statistics to determine scientific truths about communication patterns. I love pouring over articles and digging for dirt on stories.
As I work more and learn more, I am leaning towards journalism and fiction. Journalism because I love to tell the stories of the deserving and sometimes the utterly undeserving and fiction because reality gets too depressing without a little flight of fancy here and there. Thus, I am looking for new opportunities to write creatively. My strengths right now are fashion and event-based writing. Anyone looking for a journalist?
A while back, I wrote a post about how to deal with rejection. That particular post was inspired by a disappointing experience. I had submitted some photographs to the Cleveland State University student art show, and none of them had been accepted. I had gone through a lot of trouble to have them custom matted, and I was fairly devastated.
Fast forward over a year, and for the very first time, I am showing my photography in a gallery - Cleveland's Wall Eye Gallery, to be exact. It's just two of my photos in a show with works from 52 other artists, but it's certainly something I'm very excited about. My true love is photographing people (which I do for engagements, weddings, other happy moments and just for fun), and it's not often that people in a gallery want to look at your best-composed engagement photo. I do, however, have some great photos taken this year that showcase something other than all of my gorgeous human friends. The two photos appearing in the show are "Jeffrey," a two-photo piece showcasing a cute giraffe, and "Luz Sagrado," a photo from the interior of Cleveland's Trinity Cathedral.
The great thing about Festivus! is that it's a cash and carry show, with every work in the gallery offered for under $100. I'm hoping that my photos find a home with someone, where they will be enjoyed! The show opens Friday, December 17 from 6-10 p.m., and has hours on Saturday as well, from 12 - 6 p.m.
I also hope you will consider coming to opening night to say hello, take a look at all of the artists' work and maybe even purchase some art for your home. I did last year. I purchased two lovely paintings by Cleveland artist Elise Schieman, which now hang in my living room. Here's the link with all of the show information: Wall Eye Gallery Festivus! Show Information. The gallery also has a wonderful, kitschy boutique shop with lots of great gifts, and the show will feature a Festivus! pole and a wall of grievances. Bring a date - grievance together :).
And, now, a preview of this most exciting Festivus! Success. Here is one half of my two-photo presentation called "Jeffrey."
Well, I haven't posted in quite some time now. It's funny to look back at my last post which references my exciting adventure with the Allison Bencar band. Suffice it to say that any exciting experiences I may have had were wiped out by her poor management of our relationship. It seems like such a long time since that entry - nearly everything has changed! I'm a full-time graduate student, nearing the completion of my Master's of Applied Communication Methodology. In addition, I have welcomed two new friends into my life. Muffin, our adorable dachshund puppy, and Dylan, my husband's cousin who is staying with us this fall while he studies music at Cleveland State. The landscape of my world might have shifted, but some things are always the same - I'm buried in 18 different kinds of work. I'm skipping off to bed right now, but I wanted to say hello and assure anyone who's still reading that I will be writing again.
Thanks for sticking around!