Something to ponder about your future.... by Beth Harris Hess

What struck me when I read about the digital advancements described in the article below from Fast Company Exist, was that they are very exciting. Some also seemed sort of frightening, invasive almost.

This article got me thinking that the pivot point for how we incorporate these new tools into our world will be to what degree they enhance our lives, or do they over-tax our psyches?  Most likely a bit of both.

Many of the digital tools you'll read about come with very high cognitive and attentional commitments.  This puts the spotlight clearly on the impact to self, to health, to our relationships to our human need to restore.  Specifically, I pondered the processes by which we could counter an onslaught of digital management and attain a balance of fundamental restorative non-activity.

It seems in such digitally demanding environments, non-digital, restorative balance would need to be clear, accepted, intentionally planned time where the only objective is to refresh and recharge our physical, emotional and mental balance. The trick would be to find ways society can  accept and blend smoothly between the digitally cognitive and physical, mental and emotional restorative activities or in many cases, non-activity.

Integrating the scale of digital change as described in this article, suggests some challenges in cramming all this advancement into such a relatively condensed time window of our evolution.  Such overwhelming, rapid change can toxically stress our more slowly evolving human neurology, psyche and bodies if introduced without good social management.  Accommodating these type of digital stressors into our evolution at a humane pace, allowing for adaptation and still be able to thrive, will be success. 

As we adapt to an increasingly digital existence, the intensity of these type of digital advancements and productivity will need to be intentionally balanced with non-digital interaction.   Focus can be on rich human interaction, energizing physical activity and restful and renewing mental and emotional respites. Those who will thrive in this environment, will incorporate a mindful and intentional re-balancing of their daily life, not as an accident but as a planned part of their day. What type of re-balance would you or perhaps do you now carve out of your day? How do you see this part of your restorative life expanding as intensive and cumulative  digital interactions increase? 

On the upside, I believe it will become a vast commercial enterprise and economic opportunity, to provide society with methods, support, settings and programs that provide definitive peace, rest and renewal as the sole, pure objective and to offer these things across all environments in many different types of "flavors',  in defined, creative and refined settings. Commonplace, neighborhood balance stops, if you will. A healthy way of life. 

These digital tools are exciting, but they do come with high cognitive demands. The processes we use and priority we set on attaining a fundamental balance and rest, will be key to an inspired, balanced and healthy society that can produce incredible advancements and works that enhance human lives, repair our environment and carry the world forward.   Our sustained physical, emotional and mental health and in fact our very survival depend on a simple, primitive concept, really.  Balance. 

Here's the article about what digital tools will be ours to use or abuse. See what you think....



5 Ways The Internet Will Revolutionize Work And Play By 2025.

Experts imagine how our lives will be different when our connections are 100 times faster than today's. (Are you listening, Comcast?)

by Ben Shiller for Fast Company / Exist

For all the ways the Internet has changed how we live and work over the last 20 years, there are still plenty of areas it hasn't touched, and plenty more where it hasn't been as revolutionary as predicted. (Futurists in the '90s said we'd all be making virtual commutes by now. Most of us are still waiting.)

One limiting factor has been connectivity speeds, which haven't grown to allow for more sophisticated services and, in the U.S., have even fallen behind other nations. The current U.S. average connection speed is 10.5 megabits per second (Mbps) compared to speeds of up to 23.6 Mbps in South Korea, the nation with the best speeds.

But what happens when we do finally get fiber into every home? That's the subject of anew report from the Pew Research Center, which asked 1,464 experts to make predictions for what might become possible with speeds 50 to 100 times faster than what we have now. Below are a few ideas we picked out.


Many respondents said telepresencing will be a reality by 2025, especially for business. "I believe ‘telepresence’ will be a driving application in the workforce, and thus the ability to have multi-person meetings without travel will be enhanced significantly," says Jim Hendler, a professor of computer science at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. People won't need to travel so much, and we'll enjoy "truly immersive entertainment and communications," according to Kathryn Campbell, partner with interactive agency Primitive Spark. She predicts something like the Holodeck, the simulated reality room seen on Star Trek.


Dipping into faraway worlds will be easier, due to virtual and augmented reality. System programmer and author David Collier-Brown, expects to take a bus tour of Istanbul from his living room. Alison Alexander, at the University of Georgia, says the "global nature of connectivity could foster an integrated world economy, breaking down the importance of nations and governments." Bryan Alexander, senior fellow at the National Institute for Technology in Liberal Education, says life and games will become increasingly intertwined: "We should expect new forms of gaming to emerge, such as ones integrating daily life with games."


Today's intermittent life-logging will become "cradle-to-grave" and "always-on." Nothing will escape the cameras, such that there's be more pressure to live a full life, says educator Laurel Papworth. David Orban, CEO of translation startup Dotsub, expects "emotional computing" will process our facial expressions as well as our keystrokes. "Remote group collaboration will gain a fundamental new dimension in being able to record, transmit, analyze, and understand the full gamut of human emotions," he says. Hal Varian, chief economist for Google, expects more continuous health tracking: "It will be much cheaper and more convenient to have that monitoring take place outside the hospital. You will be able to purchase health-monitoring systems just like you purchase home-security systems."


Health and education could be (and, to some extent, are already) the next sectors disrupted by the Internet. "Just-in-time learning will continue to expand, permitting people of all ages to find the information they need when needed," says Internet policy consultant Ed Lyell. "Time in school will need to radically change since the talking-head, expert teacher is less and less valuable." Judith Donath, a fellow at Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society, expects more telemedicine and individualized health care. "The next big food fad, after hipster locavores, will be individualized scientific diets, based on the theory that each person’s unique genetics, locations, and activities mean that she requires a specific diet, specially formulated each day," she says.


The survey also picked up on a lot of pessimism about the future. Respondents expect digital divides to widen if fiber-grade Internet is limited to those who can afford steep charges. Speedier connectivity also may not be the elixir it's cracked up to be. "I note that there haven’t been any ‘killer apps’ for quite a while. All the recent candidates (social media) are minor permutations of Internet messaging," says Robert McGrath, an early World Wide Web developer.

Leah Lievrouw, a professor at the University of California-Los Angeles, expects efforts to "stabilize" or "lock down" the Internet to continue: "We might well increase digital bandwidth, but use it to deliver and meter familiar, trusted (and ‘safe’) products and services, or variations on them: media content, college lectures, voice telephonysecurity servicespublic utilities, financial information and services, health care advice, and so on," she says.

Online, there's a lot to look forward to, but plenty to guard against at the same time.



Hey retail!!! - 5 points to maximize holiday profit.

If the holidays are a busy time for your small business, you know how important the next few months will be.

Consumers are expected to spend big this holiday season. If you want them to shop small, you need to plan ahead.

Luckily, there are simple steps you can take to set your business up for success.

Here are five things to keep in mind as you prepare for the holiday season:

1. Plan for the “big” shopping days

Aside from the usual rush around traditional holidays, don’t forget the big shopping days that kick off the season:

Last year, consumers spent $5.7 billion at independent retailers on Small Business Saturday.

With the right plan, you can take advantage of this popular day and start your holiday season off on the right foot.

Take action: Circle these dates on your calendar right now. You can choose to participate in all three, or pick one and focus on making it an event for your business. After that, you can start to map out a promotional plan leading up to the big days. Get the word out early and make sure you give potential customers a reason to act.

2. Determine the channels that matter

With so much going on during the holiday season, it’s important to have a strategy for getting the word out about everything you have going on.

It’s not enough to talk about your business in one place and hope a lot of people are going to see it. You need to leverage the right channels to get in front of potential customers in the right place, at the right time.

This will include:

  • Email: Email allows you to create a series of timely messages to announce your holiday plans, remind people about important dates and deadlines, and thank people for shopping small during the holiday season.
  • Social: Social media allows you to tell your story in different ways, across a variety of channels. You can create a posting schedule before the season arrives, and use these different platforms to connect with customers and keep them engaged throughout the season.  
  • Mobile: Mobile is expected to influence 50 percent of offline purchasesthis holiday season. When planning your holiday promotion, make sure to think about the different devices your customers are using.

Take action: Think about the different channels you have available. When it comes to your email marketing, you can save time by using holiday templatesand scheduling your email announcements and reminders in advance. On social, you can easily tweak your strategy to include shareable holiday content, and even give your pages a holiday makeover.

3. Figure out how people are finding you

The ways in which customers find your business have changed a lot in recent years. While word-of-mouth referrals will likely still be your biggest driver of new business, there are also new platforms like social and search that help you reach new customers every day.

84 percent of shoppers will use some digital tools — including smartphones, tablets, and desktop — when planning their holiday shopping.

They’ll ask for recommendations on social media. They’ll search for your business on a search engine like Google or Bing. And they’ll use listing platforms and mobile apps like Yelp, TripAdvisor, and YellowPages to read reviews and get details about your business. Making it easy for them to find the right information will offer a huge advantage when it comes to bringing new customers through your doors.

Take action: Perform a search for your business and see what information shows up. If you have a brick and mortar store, you should notice details like hours, location, and service area show up right away. You should also see your website, social channels, and any listings sites with information about your business.

Make sure all the information a potential customer would need to find and visit your business is accurate and up-to-date.

4. Create a holiday offer

If you want to get people into your store this season, you need to make sure you have a compelling offer to get them to act.

The type of offer you create will depend on the audience you’re trying to reach and the type of results you’re hoping to achieve.

Here’s a look at the different types of offers you can create:

  • Offer a coupon: With Constant Contact, you can easily add a coupon to an email that customers can print out or redeem from their mobile device.
  • Run a local deal: With a local deal, you can create a great offer, like a $25 for $50 voucher, which customers and potential customers can purchase and redeem at a later date. This is a great way to generate new revenue during the holiday season, and can help bring new customers into your store.
  • Host an event: Hosting a holiday event is the perfect way to thank employees and customers for their continued support throughout the whole year. It’s also a great opportunity to bring customers into your store and provide a memorable holiday experience.
  • Add value: If discounts and sales aren’t the right fit for your business, there are a number of other ways you can add value during the holiday season.

Take action: Think about an offer that got people excited in the past. Even if it wasn’t during the holidays, chances are there certain details about the offer that stood out and could be used to your advantage. We’ve created a holiday promotional plan to help you get started (see pages 5-6).

5. Create a plan to stay connected

If your hard work pays off, you’ll have plenty of new and existing customers visiting your store or shopping online throughout the holiday season.

But once the holidays end, you’ll also need a way to bring these people back, so that you can extend your success throughout the whole year.

Be sure to ask new customers to join your email list while they’re in your store during the holiday season. Something as simple as a paper sign-up sheet can go a long way in getting people to stay connected. There are also mobile apps, and tools like Constant Contact’s Text-to-Join feature which allow people to sign up right from their mobile device.

Take action: Think about all the places people will be interacting with your business this holiday season. Making it easy for people to sign up in all of these different places — including in-store, at events, or on your website or Facebook Page — will allow you to grow your audience and drive results after the holidays are over.