Sunday, December 28, 2008

Don't be a DWIM (Drive While Instant Messaging)

This is a short post, but I got the inspiration to do so as I was driving a few days ago. So I pulled my car over to the side of the road and sent this post to my Blog at Rockland Web Design. You'll notice that I said that I pulled my car over. And that is what I'd like to discuss with you today - how to stop Driving While Instant Messaging, or as I like to call it, "DWIM".

It's the biggest temptation since the advent of cellphones - DWIMming. I'm not sure if that's the way we should refer to the practice, but it seems to have a ring to it...just like the Simpson's foray into Webster's dictionary with the word 'meh'. I can envision a day when teens will be telling their friends "dude - you are such a DWIM." I mean, who wants
to be called that? It's almost like 'dweeb' but with an actual negative connotation to it that is rooted in reality. 

Um, maybe I'm going a little overboard. But I digress...  

I myself am a recovering DWIM, and I am quite ecstatic that our local government in Rockland County, NY is about to enact a law that bans the practice of driving while instant messaging.  Don't ask how this law will be enforced; I haven't the faintest idea. Maybe your local neighborhood officer will now ask you to whip out your mobile device, physically inspect it, and determine what time you sent your last text message, to whom, and how frequently you responded. By the way, the correct response to that request is - "Officer, you are not my girlfriend". Not that I have any experience with that situation. None at all.

According to a recent survey by observed that 47% of drivers 18-24 years old, and 27% of those from 25-34 have sent a text message, instant message or email while driving. So far, four states - New Jersey, Washington, Alaska and Minnesota - have enacted laws banning the practice.

I'd like you all to make the New Years commitment to stop the madness of Driving While Instant Messaging. Thusly, I've devised a simple 12-step program to help you to stop DWIMming. It is fashioned after the classical AA program --- after I wrote the above post from the side of the road, I finished it by going home and checking out Wikipedia's page on the 12-step program. From it, I believe we now have an anti-DWIM version of this well-known program. (Note: the original 12 steps are posted below in their original form to protect their creative integrity.)

So here it is - The 12 Step Program to Stop Being a DWIM:
  • Admit that you have a very, very bad habit of Driving while Instant Messaging ("Hello, my name is Tom...and I am a DWIM.")
  • Recognize that you do not have control over your mobile device anymore - it now has control over you
  • Give yourself over to a higher power and let go, man! (um, or woman)
  • Realize that people may actually wait more than 14 seconds for their message response from you
  • Be conscious of your tendency to reach for your mobile phone while driving
  • Notice any triggering thoughts, feelings or other stimuli that cause you to want to DWIM
  • Track your DWIMs...write down the daily, weekly and monthly running total somewhere (NOT while driving!) Focus on reducing your DWIMs each day, until you get to zero. Hopefully that will happen by later tonight...
  • Check your phone once before you put the car into drive, and once upon arriving at your destination
  • If you check at a traffic light while stopped, that is a grey zone, but realize you may be honked at by annoyed drivers and irritated skateboarders trying to cross the road
  • Turn off beeping/vibrating sounds your phone makes when you receive a message
  • If you must send a message, pull over to the side of the road and do it there. This is safer
  • Encourage other potential DWIMmers to also follow these steps, and make fun of them if they don't.
If all that is too much for you, try this: while you are driving this week, if you get the urge to whip out your phone and stare at the screen in the midst of oncoming traffic, remember this simple phrase: 

"I will not be a DWIM".  

Say it with me now:  

"I will not be a DWIM". 
"I will not be a DWIM". 
"I will not be a DWIM".  

And remember to post your DWIM experiences on our Facebook "Don't be a DWIM" group --- so others learn from our experiences, and make the commitment to stop DWIMming. Look for me on FB, or simply do a search for "Don't be a DWIM - Driving While Instant Messaging is BAD."

Safe driving!

Tom Ossa 
Rockland Web Design 
Stony Point, NY
(845) 271 - 4488

P.S. Contrary to pop culture criticism, AA has helped countless people turn their lives around. Aside from the slightly humorous tone above, I thought it to be a good idea to post the original AA 12 steps program:

  • We admit we are powerless over our mobile devices—that our lives are becoming unmanageable.
  • We believe that a Power greater than ourselves can restore us to sanity.
  • Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understand Him.
  • Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
  • Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
  • Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
  • Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
  • Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
  • Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
  • Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
  • Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His Will for us and the power to carry that out.
  • Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

Monday, December 15, 2008

The Changing Landscape of Business

I agree, ladies and gentlemen - it is lovely chart. Yet if you look at the fine print at the bottom of the graphic above, you'll notice that the numbers are fake. I wanted to point that out to you before we start so we collectively agree this is an overly optimistic chart. 

But what about the charts that we've been reading over the past three months? It probably looks something like this:

As usual, the truth exists somewhere in the middle. Let's begin...

Over the past two months, we have been inundated with every possible scenario involving the recent crash of the financial industry, and the subsequent ripple effects that have affected businesses worldwide as a result. Just last night I was speaking with a very wise gentleman - a retired attorney - who predicts that 2009 is going to be a very difficult year for most of us.

As we absorb more gloom and doom, as well as hope and optimism, we start to gather a clearer picture of what will really occur in the coming year, and how these occurrences will change the landscape of business. I think you would agree with me when I say that this knowledge will be vital in helping us to not only survive, but thrive in the economic downturn.

Below are five predictions that we have regarding the changing landscape of business, from the perspective of a bunch of web geeks. We hope that this will help you to set your sails properly during the coming storm (I would say the "perfect storm"; but if you recall, George Clooney didn't fare too well during that whole thing...and we'd like you to make it to the other side of the shore).

  1. The death of the corporate website - When I read this a few weeks ago, I started panicking and worrying that Rockland Web Design should start offering coffee and sandwiches as a side business. But the good news is that websites with social interactivity will thrive in the next 3 to 5 years. This means that you will hear less of "We pride ourselves in our outstanding customer service, and commitment to quality", and more objective reviews.
    - Reviews of products and services by consumers (Increasing customer service by company)
    - Testimonials from satisfied and unsatisfied clients (increasing company focus on quality)
    - Collaboration: clients will be encouraged to interact on websites, thereby making them more involved with the parent company and subtly encouraging their brand

    So I'm not worried anymore. 

  2. Networking: online and offline - At our last ProMetroNet event, we saw people networking that we hadn't seen in months, even years. The sudden seismic shift of the economic landscape has certainly lit a fire under the pants of business persons looking to find more business. Online, popular Social Networking sites like LinkedIn and Facebook added new features that allow a more effective and efficient online experience. My new favorite is the PowerPoint tool, which allows your company to upload presentations to your LinkedIn profile using Google Documents (call me and I'll explain). My buddy Chris Keller from Liberty Tax was very jazzed when he saw this, and plans to upload a plethora of materials. So...are you doing any Social Networking these days? :-)

  3. The (further) rise of the mobile workforce - Having a cool laptop and an iPhone 3G is just the beginning. Imagine a world where your workforce is spread out over thousands of miles, and any one of your (trusted) employees can log into a central location and access data to get their work done, as well as use the programs that help them to work. Impossible? Not any more. Buzzwords such as web video conferencing, data centers, cloud computing and unified communications will translate into a new work experience like we have never experienced before. It will also change the landscape of offices and production facilities, as there will be less need for office workers to make the two-hour commute each day to New York City; rather, they can put little Johnny on the school bus, go for a jog, have breakfast and log into the company's intranet at 8:30 am. It also means that this new workforce will need to be more disciplined than ever to get their tasks done each day. This means NOT spending more than the necessary time allotted for Facebook and LinkedIN. 

  4. Security - For you IT people that are worried about where your company's data is going (did little Johnny accidentally bring the company financials to show and tell?), new security protocols will help to ensure sensitive information and programs are kept on lock down, unless properly "checked out" by an authorized user. This also means that the network will need to beef up external threat monitoring procedures - your Norton Antivirus program probably won't be cutting it anymore.

  5. Advertising changes - for the big one. We've been tracking the demise of the yellow pages for several years now. And while we won't see the print advertisement go away anytime soon, we will notice that companies such as ourselves to turn toward online advertising in droves. The reason can be summarized in two words: measurable results. Statistics software already allows company to track very detailed information such as user visits, most popular content on a website, keywords used to find a website, even the location of each visitor (not down to what part of the house they are checking you out from...that's too much - only narrowed down to city and state.

    In a nutshell, businesses will be able to track their more popular products and services, and refine their marketing strategy based on the wealth of data - all for significantly less than the cost of a full page spread in the local newspaper.
For those of you that are still focused on the gloom and doom of the coming year, remember two things: 

First, whether you love him or hate him, our incoming President is the first Commander in Chief to fully embrace the power of the web - considering it was a major factor in his election. And while you won't see Mr. Obama in a one-on-one online conference anytime soon, I imagine that this full embrace of the web will encourage businesses to adopt technologies that help them to stay competitive in the coming years. 

Secondly, at the beginning of the industrial revolution many critics complained that our society will not survive the advent of machinery replacing humans for repetitive labor. Now, over 100 years later, we are going through a similar period of cutbacks. While economical workforce and business adjustments are necessary from time to time - don't just yet buy into the idea that our economy is wrecked beyond reproach and cannot recover. For every setback that does not mesh with your business model, find a way to embrace the advancement that has emerged in its place. Nothing is set in stone right now, including our business plans. Stay fast and flexible, and your company will thrive.

I will get off my soapbox now.