ˈvər-chə-wəlˈdā-vəs Serial storyteller, poetry pusher, digital doodler, flâneur.

The Ever Evolving Social Media Revolution

If in doubt about the social media revolution, just watch this sequence of three video presentations. Pay attention to the statistics; watch the revolution evolving in real time as the social media juggernaut sweeps the globe.

The social media revolution is
mushrooming while you sleep!

The next three videos are based upon Socialnomics: How Social Media Transforms the Way We Live and Do Business by Erik Qualman. This first,Social Media Revolution, asks if social media is a fad that can be waited out, a fad that can be ignored, a fad no less or more important than any other.

Is social media a fad? Or is it the biggest shift since the Industrial Revolution? This video details out social media facts and figures that are hard to ignore. This video is produced by the author of Socialnomics

Take a look!

If the music distracts you or wakes up your parents, mute the volume. But watch. Read. Wake up!

The social media revolution doesn’t sleep. Ever. And while you’re dozing off, it’s already evolved. The next video, Social Media Revolution 2 (Refresh), updates the social media and mobile media statistics.

Ready for Social Media Revolution 3? This longer, more powerful video was produced in June 2011. Also “based on #1 International Best Selling Socialnomics by Erik Qualman this is the latest in the most watch social media series in the world.”

‪So, what do you think? Still plan to wait out this annoying social media fad? Still hope to ignore it? Good luck!

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The Cinnamon Peeler, by Michael Ondaatje

Michael Ondaatje‘s words resonate for me in ways unlike any other living English language writer. In my perfect world daydream, I am always accompanied by Ondaatje, like a translator or a tour guide for the world’s many mysteries. His vision and his use of words is simply unrivaled. The Cinnamon Peeler is no exception!

In Ondaatje’s poetry as in his prose — even in his unrehearsed, spontaneous conversation — music, meaning and perception are inextricably intertwined. He speaks as a chorus with layers of voices, layers of stories, harmonizing and enveloping the reader, the listener. I can imagine no finer companion for a walk in the woods, a long train trip through a snowstorm or a tin of tawny port by a popping campfire!

Cover of

Cover of The Cinnamon Peeler

I happened to meet Michael Ondaatje about fifteen or sixteen years ago in New York City. Accident. An embarrassing accident, in fact. I’d been invited to “crash” a filming of Literati in the Playbill Suite at the Algonquin Hotel. I was fresh out of college, and I was trying to decide whether to follow my undergraduate studies in Spanish and Latin American literature with a doctorate. Chilean writer Ariel Dorfman was being interviewed on Literati, and I’d convinced World Affairs Executive Producer Larry Shapiro to let me ask him some questions in the green room after filming. I’d studied in Santiago, Chile while Patricio Aylwin was reinventing Chilean democracy, and I’d read (and/or seen performed) everything Dorfman had written up until that point. I was certain he could advise me on my studies…

Today I remember virtually nothing about my conversation with Dorfman. But while sitting in the green room, waiting and rehearsing my questions, I chatted with some of the crew who were setting up for the next filming session. A bearded fellow sitting next to me asked why I wanted to speak with Dorfman, and then chatted lightheartedly about Literati and his interview. His interview? Yes, it turned out he was being interviewed next. He introduced himself as Michael Ondaatje. I’d never heard of him. He talked about working with Anthony Minghella on a film adaptation of a novel he’d written called The English Patient. Unfortunately my mind was so focused on Dorfman that I mostly enjoyed the magic of Ondaatje’s voice. I recall telling my girlfriend later that I would have been happy to have him read me the phone book.

A couple of years later I would see the film and remember my conversation with Ondaatje. The film was spellbinding. I watched it twice. And then I went out and bought the novel. And read it twice. And then I bought and read In The Skin of the Lion. Twice. And so on until I’d read all of his fiction, nonfiction and poetry. My appetite has endured through Anil’s Ghost andDivisadero and I’m looking forward to The Cat’s Table which will be published this autumn.

A warm thank you to Michelle Rummel (@shellartistree) for bringing this video to my attention. And thank you to Tom O’Bedlam who’s YouTube channel SpokenVerse offers up many more delicacies if you’re interested. And thank you also to Roger Ebert who chronicles the bizarre backstory for this video.

If you would prefer, you can also watch Michael Ondaatje reading The Cinnamon Peeler.

The Story of Ferdinand, Revisited

Did you know that Ferdinand the Bull turned seventy five years old on March 31?

After posting my “Make Way for Ducklings” video on Rosslyn Redux, several friends mentioned that Robert McCloskey’s Boston duckling adventure was one of their favorite children’s books too. Which inevitably prompted me to throw The Story of Ferdinand into the mix. A lifelong fan of Munro Leaf and Robert Lawson’s masterpiece, I’m forever finding excuses to toss the flower-sniffing bull into conversation…

From good things, good things come! I was rewarded with exciting news: Ferdinand is a septuagenarian! For three quarters of a century Ferdinand has inspired kids (and adults!) to stop and savor the blossoms.

The Story of Ferdinand

The Story of Ferdinand (Image via Wikipedia)

Once upon a time in Spain there was a little bull and his name was Ferdinand,” the book, which was illustrated with simple black-and-white ink drawings, opens. Deep in corrida des toros country, Ferdinand stood out from all the other bulls: “He liked to sit just quietly and smell the flowers.(ArtsBeat, New York Times)

Pamela Paul‘s post lead me to the quirky video above in which Seth Rogannarrates and the Salastina Music Society accompanies. Creative interpretation of the story!

Chasing down a related link to a vocal rendition of Ferdinand the Bull by The Lennon Sisters I stumbled across this version performed by theDixieland Swingsters. In fact, it turns out that YouTube is chock full of Ferdinand videos including:

I suppose that 75 years is plenty of time for derivative works to be inspired, produced and forgotten. And yet, I’d never stopped to consider the cretive legacy that The Story of Ferdinand. Cool. But I’m still sticking with the original. Simple line drawings and all!

Digital Book and Audio Book Integration

Drew Frish of Electric Type on digital and audio book integration

Electric Type's Drew Frish on digital/audio book integration

Drew Frist is the founder of Electric Type (@electrictypeco), a digital book publisher who just released their debut digital children’s app, Jungle Book: The Story of Mowgli & Shere Khan. It looks delicious! Check out the promo video, and I’m guessing that if you have kids you’ll head over to iTunes before long.

In a recent video response to the question, “What are your thoughts on audio books?”, Frist expressed a wish that I’ve been trumpeting for months: it’s time for user friendly digital book and audio book integration. Print books are familiar and nostalgic. Digital books are cheap, quick, frictionless and they eliminate paper cuts. Audio books are perfectly portable and they expand our reading opportunities to the car, the gym, the ski slopes.

Why aren’t we bundling all three? This value-added merchandising play is not only good business in an increasingly competitive publishing world, it’s actually better than all three. In short, bundling digital, audio and print is better than the sum of its parts.

Most of us still love paper and ink. Bindings. Smells. Easy marginalia. Worn pages. Dog eared corners. It’s a habit with some enduring benefits (ever read your iPad in full sun?) and a viable long tail. In short, many readers still want print books.

Digital book detractors have not immersed themselves in the experience. Just my two cents, but I find it hard to believe that print book purists don’t accept that there are some amazing opportunities with digital publishing. Instant access to almost everything no matter where you are. Did I mention instant? Did I mention cheap? Did I mention searchable content? Okay, the technology is still new and rather clunky, but progress is being made at warp speed.

I admit that once upon a time I scoffed at audio books. Remember when they were recorded on tapes? When they were almost all abridged? When the audio book technology and availability were more hindrance than help? I changed my tune almost a decade ago when my then-fling-now-bride and I were commuting between the Adirondacks and Manhattan. Five hours in the car wrestling with tailgators and snow storms was transformed into five hours of “reading” books that we might not otherwise have taken the time to squeeze into our busy lives. Outstanding recordings, many by the authors themselves, and none were abridged. In those early days we listened to CDs. Remember those? The advent of compact disks reduced the need to abridge books because they could hold so much more data than tapes. Before long we transitioned to MP3 downloads from places like and enjoyed the dilated offerings and the instant access. Driving bliss. It wasn’t long before audio books crept into my workouts, flights, train rides, etc.

So spoiled! So many choices. So much bickering about which one is best.They’re all best! Do you remember this video?

We have so many amazing resources at our fingertips, and yet we live in a culture where opinions are celebrated without necessarily stopping to evaluate or analyze them. Remember debate? No? It was a logical, quasi-methodical framework for constructively addressing differences of opinion. Weird, right? I know. Now we just shout opinions, whine opinions, burp opinions, snore opinions, regurgitate opinions, sweat opinions and generally excrete opinions around the clock. It’s cool. It’s social…. ;-)

An avalanche of opinions. But are we evaluating and analyzing this avalanche of opinions, or are we just scrambling to keep our heads up and our opinions spouting? Is anyone stopping to ask if print books, audio books and digital books need be mutually exclusive? With such distinct merits and appetites for all three, it would make a world of sense to zip them all up together in the same pair of pants so that they could audition for the lead roll in our storytelling opera.

Some of my best book experiences lately have resulted from buying all three formats, and in many cases re-consuming large sections of the work in multiple formats. Active writers, researchers and thinkers would relish the opportunity to:

  • buy a bundled, multi-format title from their favorite seller
  • tuck into the hammock to read the print book in the shade of a towering oak tree
  • continue the story on their iPod while mowing the grass
  • bookmark a quotation while listening to the audio book so that they can send it off via Twitter or email
  • sync the audio book with their digital book reader to pick up where they left off
  • quickly locate and share the bookmarks via email, blog post, Facebook, etc.

So often while I’m listening to an audio book I’ve yearned for a quick and easy way to bookmark, quote or share a passage. So often while reading a digital book I’ve yearned for a high-quality audio performance to pick up where I need to leave off to drive to a meeting. So often while reading a printed and bound book I’ve yearned for an efficient way to search for a passage…

Isn’t it time that we integrate digital books and audio books seamlessly in a single, user-friendly app? And wouldn’t it be great if this integrated digital app were bundled with a print copy? It’s a win-win-win proposition!

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