Archive for the ‘Social Media’ Category

  • “Head to Head: iPhone and iPad Square Off”

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    Just a short snippet to share a great example of the value of infographics which we waxed on about in yesterday’s post: “A Picture: How Logos and Information Graphics Tell Your Story or Convey Your Brand in Much Less Than a Thousand Words.”

    This morning’s infographic by Henry D’Andrea aimed at those trying to decide which device – an iPhone or an iPad – is the best all-around deal for them will find this “Head to Head: iPhone and iPad Square Off” post from thetechupdate.com illuminating.

    Courtesy of: http://www.dailymail.co.uk

    The Bard continues to be in awe…

  • Picture It: How Logos and Information Graphics Tell Your Story or Convey Your Brand in Much Less Than a Thousand Words?

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    Courtesy of: http://www.how-to-draw-funny-cartoons.com

    In our digital world where vital “Tweets” can be no longer than 140 characters – not words but characters – visual information is even more critical than it is in traditional storytelling.

    Budding entrepreneurs will find some great tips and – of course – pictures in today’s “Quack” (aka Post) by Rebecca Hume at Duck Call, that zippy, smart, brandraising blog.

    Bulletin from the Duck Pond is:

    “Good infographics can illustrate ideas that might take pages to explain in writing. They function as a visual shorthand, clarifying relationships with a degree of immediacy and impact text just can’t offer. Effective graphics can be created for many types of information, but they are best suited for showing comparisons, structures, and processes.

    Figuring out what type of infographic is right for a project typically requires three steps:

    1. Know the story you want to tell.
    2. Find the information that best tells the story.
    3. Determine the form that most clearly displays that information.

    Just as with writing, information design must have a thesis statement…”

    Continue reading until you reach the other side of this duck pond because there’s lots of good data here.

    Meanwhile, should you wish to pare those words down further, perhaps even eliminate them altogether and create a successful brand logo, check out this one-page snapshot of all the elements to consider. It was “Tweeted” to you today from the SE Toolbelt, that fabulous and free open-content community resource center, created to help social entrepreneurs plan, start, manage, and grow successful social enterprises.

    Shakespeare would have been proud of your literary gambols…

    Courtesy of: http://www.dailymail.co.uk

  • Senior Entrepreneurs: Innovative, Foolhardy or Desperate?

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    As more and more research details that older Americans are starting businesses at a higher-than-average rate, it’s important to study the why and how of this phenomena.

    Anita Campbell, Editor and Founder of Small Business Trends, LLC, posits the question, StartUps Are Graying, But Is It a Good Financial Move?

    Campbell writes, “The face of the typical startup entrepreneur these days is a bit wrinkly, sporting some gray hair, and having the wisdom that comes with age.”

    She refers to a Business Week article by Scott Shane where he says, “according to recent research, these days those 55 and over are more likely than young people to be starting businesses.” And Shane, in turn, cites research by Dane Stangler of the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation that showed in every year from 1996 to 2007, Americans aged 55 to 64 had a higher rate of entrepreneurial activity than those aged 20 to 34.

    In the name of realistic scrutiny, I just Tweeted an Op-Ed piece in today’s New York Times, Entrepreneur or Unemployed?, by Robert B. Reich, former secretary of labor, now professor of public policy at the University of California, Berkeley,

    Reich captures the under-reported truth behind this entrepreneurial joy, saying, too often the catalyst for this entrepreneurial surge is, “In a word, unemployment. Booted off company payrolls, millions of Americans had no choice but to try selling themselves. Another term for ‘entrepreneur’ is ‘self-employed.'”

    Reich continues:

    “According to an analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics by an outplacement firm, Challenger Gray & Christmas, the number of self-employed Americans rose to 8.9 million last December, up from 8.7 million a year earlier. Self-employment among those 55 to 64 rose to nearly two million, 5 percent higher than in 2008. Among people over 65, the ranks of the self-employed swelled 29 percent. Many older people who had expected to retire discovered their 401(k)’s had shrunk and their homes were worthless. So they became ‘entrepreneurs,’ too.

    Maybe this is a good thing. A deep recession can be the mother of invention. These Americans are now liberated from the bureaucratic straitjackets they thought they had to wear. They can now fulfill their creative dreams and find their inner entrepreneurs. All they needed was a good kick in the pants.

    But this upbeat interpretation doesn’t include lots of people who don’t particularly relish becoming their own employers, like an acquaintance whom I’ll call George. George was an associate partner at one of the world’s largest technology and consulting firms until he lost his job last year in a wave of layoffs. For months, George knocked on doors but got nowhere because of the deep recession.

    But this upbeat interpretation doesn’t include lots of people who don’t particularly relish becoming their own employers, like an acquaintance whom I’ll call George. George was an associate partner at one of the world’s largest technology and consulting firms until he lost his job last year in a wave of layoffs. For months, George knocked on doors but got nowhere because of the deep recession.

    Finally, his old firm got some new projects that required George’s skills. But it didn’t hire George back. Instead, it brought him back through a “contingent workforce company,” essentially a temp agency, that’s now contracting with George to do the work. In return, the agency is taking a chunk of George’s hourly rate.

    Technically, George is his own boss. But he’s doing exactly what he did before for less money, and he gets no benefits — no health care, no 401(k) match, no sick leave, no paid vacation. Worse still, his income and hours are unpredictable even though his monthly bills still arrive with frightening regularity.

    The nation’s official rate of unemployment does not include George, nor anyone in this new wave of involuntary entrepreneurship. Yet to think of them as the innovative owners of startup businesses misses one of the most significant changes to have occurred in the American work force in many decades.”

    In addition to more realistic depictions of this frequently “involuntary entrepreneurship,” I’d like to see more research on how seniors’ are underwriting their start-ups. Are they, for example,  throwing all their savings and what crumbs might remain in their 401-K retirement accounts into these ventures? Is this, as Anita Campbell pointed out, a wise move? Young entrepreneurs have many more years to recoup those funds should the new enterprise fail.

    In that regard, it would also be valuable to see some data on Senior “Entrepreneurs” success rates. How do Seniors compete with the more tech savvy, viral-marketing-driven young entrepreneurs? Robert Jones, asks in his SmartBrief on Entrepreneurs nugget, “Are older entrepreneurs at a competitive disadvantage in a world of social media and digital communication?”

    Jeff Wuorio, makes a start at answering some of these questions with his four tips in The Older Entrepreneur’s Guide to Success, but clearly – there are a lot more questions to be answered before we revel in the “Senior Entrepreneur” phenomena.

  • “Bold But Not Brash:” Still Working and Blogging Full Time At Seventy

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    This morning I found “The 70-Something Blog” by June Kugel – thanks to Paula Span’s post in the the New York Times, The New Old Age: “A Blog About the Road Ahead.”

    Span writes, “Ms. Kugel believes in recording and reflecting on big transitions. In her 59th year, she had kept a journal in a loose-leaf binder, which she still rereads on occasion. On her next milestone birthday, updating her technology, she launched “The 70-Something Blog” and committed to posting twice a week. ‘I’ll let you know my triumphs and my low points,’ she promised her readers.”

    “I don’t write the blog for a million people to read,” she told Span. “I write it for me, to document this particular decade.”

    June Kugel is associate dean of students at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government, and she still bikes the two miles to and from her office everyday.

    Two of my favorite excerpts from her blog posts provide a flavor of her writing and her zest for her work and her life.

    This first is related to a bathroom refurbishing project she and her husband undertook:

    “We were efficient about choosing and ordering everything, and had the contractor all set. True, our project started four weeks later than scheduled, but that’s to be expected. Once the work started, it was just five days of disruption until the bathroom looked beautiful. A new shower curtain would be the final touch. That was a bit complicated, however, involving six visits to the Marimekko store. But on Thursday night we hung it and everything came together.

    When we went on our usual Saturday walk, Peter [her husband] and I commented on what a difference the shower curtain made, how it was worth all the trouble to get it. Peter called the shower curtain “bold (fearless and daring), but not brash (impudent or saucy).” I walked a few steps thinking about how he characterized the shower curtain and how I wished I could be described that way…. Maybe it’s not too late.”

    My second favorite is about her work at Harvard:

    “My new boss has been on board for eight weeks. I had mixed emotions about giving up ‘his’ position after being the interim boss even though, as I have written before, I did not want the job. I knew I could be helpful to him since I know the ropes, and I wanted him to succeed because I care deeply about the mission of our organization. But I could not predict how it would feel to have a boss who is the age of my children.

    “We’ve spent a lot of time together since he arrived. He’s smart. He gets it. He has a lot of good ideas. He is moving in measured steps, and he is very consultative with me (and others). He considers me a partner. We are developing trust for one another. All that is good.

    “But what is even better is that I feel like I have renewed energy, that it’s a whole new job, a whole new challenge. I’m seeing things through his eyes at the same time that I am giving him a lot of context and experience. I’m working as hard or harder than ever before, but I feel like I have a new purpose and a new challenge, even while staying at a place I’ve loved working at for almost thirty years.  Am I lucky or what?

    Yes she is lucky and so are we – her readers!

  • “Brandraising!” How to Cultivate and Communicate Your Logo

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    Elizabeth's Garden Tulip

    To paraphrase William Blake who saw “the world in a grain of sand,” let’s examine your world as a single flower. The flower or logo representation is organic. It is the who, what, where, when and how of you.

    I love the term “Brandraising,” which I first encountered in Sarah Durham’s book “Brandraising: How to Raise Money and Increase Visibility through Smart Communications.”

    The book, while directed at organizations, is also an excellent tool for defining, developing, cultivating and communicating your own personal flower or brand.

    "Brandraising: One Organization, Many Channels," by Sarah Durham

    Think of the top, “Organizational Level,” of the triangle as your personal core components: your vision, mission, values, objectives, positioning and personality, which make you who you are. List each of your unique attributes, including your strengths and qualifications.

    Then, for the middle, “Identity Level,” be creative. What does your “visual identity” look like.  Are you a flower or a thorn? Are you people focused or technology focused? Do you see yourself in a global arena or in a local niche? Be sure the visual identity or logo you create best conveys the message of who you are. You would not, for example select a field of wildflowers for your logo if you wanted to develop weed killers or even sell weed wackers. If you want to convey high energy and cutting-edge think tank skills, a sand chair and beach umbrella would not do the trick.

    Last, but far from least, for the “Experiential Level,” you should maximize all the channels and tools available to connect with your audience and to let your audience connect with you. Communication is a two-way street. You sell yourself and your brand not just by broadcast advertising but more effectively by listening to your audience. Listen and take time to analyze their challenges so you can contribute realistic solutions designed to best meet their needs. Seize the opportunity to present yourself as the individual most qualified to resolve their problems.

    “Brandraising” takes time and nurturing, and it must be authentic. It is not easy but the long-term benefits are enormous. You will be able to do what you like to do and work with those who understand and share your vision and values. The flower that is your world will become a garden – ideally a community garden.

  • Online Privacy an Oxymoron: “The Fix” and A Fix

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    Today, when every single detail of our lives is more visible than any time in the history of humankind, why in the world would Connecticut’s Attorney General, Dick Blumenthal, lie about his military service? Clearly he’s not stupid; he graduated from Harvard and received his law degree at Yale… Yet one has to wonder when he holds a press conference in which he categorizes the lie as “a few misplaced words.” Could it be that he assumes his constituents are less intelligent or less connected? Surely, it’s not just because a former president may have gotten away with it…

    Ethics and moral issues aside, we all know that privacy – even for mere mortals who have no intention of ever running for anything except perhaps a mini mini mini marathon – is fragile at best. Privacy for public figures, attempting a political run in what is admittedly the most toxic political environment in memory, is virtually non-existent. Our personal brands and our reputations are everywhere and open to scrutiny.

    In “The Fix,” the Washington Post’s political news and analysis column, Chris Cillizza details the self-imposed threat to Blumenthal’s Senate campaign. The tragedy is that this serious character flaw may obliterate all the good work Blumenthal has accomplished over the course of many years for veterans. At the very least, it will invoke inquiry into Blumenthal’s motives for his veterans’ advocacy work: was it sincere or just political expediency?

    For all who remain online privacy innocents, we recommend you give this “Fix” from reclaimprivacy.org a test drive. The website provides an independent and open tool for scanning your Facebook privacy settings. The results are revealing and allow you to fix the settings to secure a smidgeon of privacy – Maybe!

    Telling the truth, of course is the best “Fix.” As the author, Rita Mae Brown, once said, “the best thing about telling the truth is that you never have to remember what you said!”

  • Betty White: Stereotype-Buster or Panderer? Who Really Won the Evening: SNL, Betty White or Facebook?

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    Did any one else see the great triple paradox between Betty White, the 88-year-old “golden girl,” and her Mother’s Day Eve hosting of that “mother-of-all-Saturday-Night-Live episodes,” and her put-down of the gallant white Facebook horse she rode in on???

    The media is exclaiming about Betty’s stunning performance on SNL. RTT News, the Global Financial News wire proclaimed: “Betty White’s appearance on ‘Saturday Night Live’ this weekend was a hit with viewers. The NBC comedy series recorded its best overnight ratings in 18 months on Saturday. The show picked up an 8.8 share, according to Nielsen, making the episode the highest rated since November 1, 2008, when Ben Affleck hosted and Senator John McCain was a special guest.”

    While the NY Times “Arts Beat” blogger, Dave Itzkoff loudly proclaimed, ” All it took to reinvigorate a 35-year-old comedy show was the presence of an 88-year-old woman,” he also noted towards the end of his blog in a much quieter tone:

    “If you watched carefully, you might have noticed that many of Saturday’s skits were simply new variations on recurring “SNL” bits like “MacGruber” or its “Lawrence Welk Show” parody. …And if you really want to get picayune about it, most of Ms. White’s jokes boiled down to some version of her (a) saying something totally inappropriate for her age, or (b) making some kind of subtle — or blatant — sexual innuendo. But really, who cares, when so many of them worked?”

    This begs the question: did they really work or were some folks just dazzled by someone whom they thought was beating the “old woman stereotype” or in awe that SNL finally offered an old lady the role of host?

    My reaction is that Betty White was just fighting one stereotype with another and not too successfully at that.  I had a truly “feisty” grandmother and she never once pandered to deliver something “totally inappropriate for her age” or subtle or otherwise “sexual innuendo.” Betty White delivered what she or the folks at SNL wanted her to deliver, and I call that pandering not stereotype-busting.

    Robert Bianco, USA Today, also sensed something was askew as he wrote: “Betty White’s ‘SNL’ stint: Less than Golden.” …Perhaps no show could have lived up to expectations created for this week’s Saturday Night Live by the Facebook campaign that got Betty White her first hosting job after a 35-year wait… Yet in the end, Saturday’s over-hyped NBC broadcast mostly served to explain why SNL seemed so reluctant to bring White on board. Clearly, they didn’t know what to do with her. …So they had her make some blue jokes, bear the brunt of multiple “isn’t she old” jokes, and pump for the upcoming MacGruber movie — and then make a few more blue jokes. …None of this was White’s fault, who once again proved that she is both a pro and an extremely good sport. What laughs there were, outside of Weekend Update, were pretty much provided by her and her alone, and that’s not something you can say about every host. She just deserved better. And after a 35 year wait, so did we.”

    The final – for now – element of the paradox is: why did Betty skewer the horse (Facebook) she rode in on. My feisty grandmother taught me to never insult your host, but right out of the box, Betty did when she called Facebook a “waste of time.” Had she forgotten that she was finally offered the top SNL spot after her fans launched a hugely successful grassroots Facebook campaign.

    As the Christian Science Monitor noted, “In January, David Matthews, of San Antonio, launched the Facebook page “Betty White to Host SNL (please?)!” after Ms. White appeared in a popular 2010 Super Bowl ad for Snickers candy. By mid-March, several hundred thousand Facebookers had signed on to Matthew’s petition, and it was announced that the former Golden Girl would be hosting a special Mother’s Day episode on May 8.”

    How was Facebook a waste of Betty’s time: for the SNL invitation and for whatever her professional future – thanks to Facebook – now holds?

    It makes me wonder what other issues might be resolved through the power of a Facebook campaign!

    One more thought:  When I read in today’s Washington Post, Adam Bernstein’s tribute to Lena Horne, who died Sunday at age 92, I was reminded of her 1942, ground-breaking contract with MGM in which it was writ that she would “never have to play a maid.” Perhaps, Betty White’s next contract – be it with SNL or another – should stipulate that she “never has to ‘play’ at being an old woman!”

  • You Are What You Tweet! How to Mine and Mind Your “Twittersphere.”

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    Yes, those pithy 140 character manifestos are the heart of the matter, but those whom you choose to follow and those who choose to follow you are of equal import.  Each component constitutes your brand, so you need to think before you tweet.

    Twitter offers a unique opportunity to promote your brand and your expertise but it is not just a one way street. Well it could be, but to use such a vast social media network just to promote yourself is a huge underutilization of the tool. Twitter is also a listening device and information filter. You can find the latest research and the response to that research. You can identify trends and position yourself vis à vis that intelligence accordingly. By focusing your tweets you can become an area issue expert – a thought leader – and connect with a highly targeted group that is directly relevant to your interests. These connections can be invaluable sources for new ideas and alternative, out-of-the-box ways of thinking.

    Again, the beauty of Twitter is that you’re not just telling the world you are an expert. By tweeting in an authentic and transparent manner, people will take note and begin to follow you. They will find you, and Twitter is good about alerting you as to who is on your trail. I know because Twitter keeps emailing me about people who are following this blog. Even more, Twitter let’s you review your “follower’s” profile. Then you can decide if you want to be followed by that individual. If not, you can block them or, if you think you’re being spammed, alert Twitter and the powers behind the Tweets will investigate.

    Once you have okay’d a follower, it’s easy to follow them in turn. However, I would caution against this until you are sure that they add something positive, credible and equally authentic to your network.

    This is not a popularity contest where the Tweeter with the most followers wins. Remember, your Twitter network is very transparent and you will quickly lose credibility if it’s perceived you’re just racking up numbers and not monitoring content quality.

    In the same way, don’t you start following any dog’s body under the sun. Make sure there is value added there for both you and your followers.

    Last, but far from least Tweet. You need to contribute to the dialog. You have an opportunity to demonstrate your unique insights . If you provide valuable content, and share links to interesting,  on-topic articles and blog posts you will gain influential followers. If your Twitter “followers” find your content useful and insightful, they may re-tweet you, broadening your network and reinforcing your position as a thought leader.

    You, too, should re-tweet. What you choose to re-tweet indicates what you find interesting or provocative and becomes part of your brand. Plus, it signifies that you are aware that you do not know everything and are open to learning more. Other Tweeters like to be recognized for their expertise also – and the more you share the more people will be willing to share with you.

    The ‘twittersphere’ can be a rich medium if you cultivate it with care.

  • Be Resourceful: 10 Simple Tricks To Remembering Names

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    Here in Maine “resourcefulness” is a necessity and not just a positive attribute. Knowing, for example, that – due to our prolonged frost season –  it is unsafe to plant our gardens a moment before Memorial Day, some of us have created unique winter gardens from one of Maine’s most abundant natural resources: the stones, which thrive on our beaches year-round.

    Rachel's Winter Garden

    In a different but equally vital ode to resourcefulness, Helen Coster in  Forbes Magazine’s “Entrepreneurs” section, recently published a great top ten list of simple tricks to remembering names.

    As much as we Savvy Seniors tout the value of social media networking, we never minimize the benefit of face-to-face, in-person networking. The big risk, however, is that just as you connect with the person most vital to your life, your work or your future you draw a blank on his or her name. It happens to the best of us. The only aspect that could be age specific is that the older we get, the more names we hold in our mental database.

    Forbes presented the tips in a funky slide slow that’s a bit difficult to follow, so we’ve copied and pasted them here for your ease of reading and remembering. Our favorite – being as resourceful as we are – is #9, Speak Up.

    Thank you, Forbes!

    1. Plenty of business deals (and romantic rendezvous) have been foiled because someone failed to recall the right name at the right time. There are tricks to remembering names. Benjamin Levy, author of Remember Every Name Every Time, advocates the FACE method: “focus, ask, comment and employ.” Focus: Lock in on the person’s face. Ask: Inquire which version he prefers (“Is it Ted or Theodore?”). Comment: Say something about the name and cross-reference it in your head (“My college roommate’s name was Ted.”) Employ: Put the name to use–“Nice seeing you, Ted”–to drive it home.

    2. Repeat, Repeat, Repeat: The most surefire strategy is to repeat the person’s name–both in your head, and out loud–as soon as possible after you’ve been introduced. Occasionally use the person’s name in conversation. “Pleasure to meet you, Bob,” or “Bob, so good to see you.” Don’t overdo it, of course, but don’t worry that Bob will recoil, either. He’d rather you remember his name than not.

    3. Picture This: Turn someone’s name into an image that you can remember. When you meet Shirley, think of a Shirley temple. Don’t laugh – it works.

    4. Spell It Out: Another imagery-based tactic: Ask someone to spell out his or her name. If you can picture the letters in your mind, you’ll have a better chance of remembering the name. A derivation on that: Imagine the person’s name written across his forehead, like a billboard.

    5. Connect: Try to associate names with things people tell you about themselves (careers, hobbies) that will trigger the sound or association of the name in your mind. Fred likes to fish, Margarita runs a bar, you get the idea.

    6. Word Play: Let the words do the work for you. Mnemonic devices (Dale works in sales) work nicely, as does alliteration (Jim from Jersey).

    7. Lead the Way: If you know that your name will be hard to remember or pronounce, do other people a favor and help them out. They’ll return the favor – or, if you’re chatting with a Mike or a Bob, maybe they’ll make some big production out of their own common name, making it stick in your mind.

    8. Put Pen to Paper: It’s not enough to write down a person’s name as soon as possible after meeting them. Record the name in a “new contacts” file, and include when and where you met.

    9. Speak Up: Embarrassing as it seems, don’t be afraid to ask someone to repeat his or her name. Start out with a compliment, such as “I’ve had so much fun talking with you, and I’ve completely forgotten your name.” If you realize you’ve blanked on a name a few seconds after introduction, just say “I’m sorry, I missed your name.”

    10. Prime the Pump: You spy a person, whose name you’ve forgotten, making her way toward you. What to do? If you’re speaking with someone you know, introduce them right off the bat. The newcomer will probably introduce herself on her own. Problem solved.

  • Multitasking: Why Two Tasks Work and Three Are Overwhelming

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    In today’s social media driven environment, opportunities to multitask at warp speed proliferate. Online, we can dance from snippet to snippet of news, music, e-books, webinars, job postings, how-to tips, etc, etc.  But how much of the “information” is our brain actually capable of absorbing?

    Two (I was going to cite three but thought better of it after reading article #2) fascinating articles shed much needed light on the highly vaunted “art” of multitasking.

    In The Myth of Multitasking, Karen Hopkins, reports, “when we think we’re getting better at multitasking, we’re really getting faster at switching back and forth between two different things at different times… training gets the ‘Thinking Brain’ to think a little faster. So we’re switching tasks quickly enough to appear to be doing them simultaneously. Which,” she continues, “is still nothing to shake a stick and sneeze at.”

    I almost missed that simultaneous “shaking a stick and sneezing!”

    In the second, more recent article published in Scientific American, How the Brain Keeps Track of Two Tasks at Once, Katherine Harmon points us to new research which”illustrates how the brain can simultaneously keep track of two separate goals, even while it is busy performing a task related to one of the aims, hinting that the mind might be better at multitasking than previously thought.”

    Etienne Koechlin, director of the cognitive neuroscience laboratory at the French National Institute for Health and Medical Research in Paris and coauthor of the new study shows that “rather than being totally devoted to one goal at a time, the human brain can distribute two goals to different hemispheres to keep them both in mind–if it perceives a worthy reward for doing so.”

    Caveat Emptor!  I said I was only going to cite two articles, but I’ll just point you to this third one by Naomi Kenner and Russell Poldrack which tries to explain What Happens When You Try To Do Three Things at Once?

    As I try to visualize this, the first thing that comes to mind is “visions of sugarplums dancing in our heads” but, then, they are all sugarplums, aren’t they?

    "Can You See What I See?" illustration by Walter Wick

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