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Thursday, March 31, 2011

Mormon Mommy Blogs: Hip, Candid and Addictive?

Can you really get hooked on shiny, happy commentaries on Mormon motherhood and domestic bliss? Well, urban online mag Salon certainly thought so when it published Why I Can't Stop Reading Mormon Motherhood Blogs by Emily Matchar, a "young, feminist atheist" early this year.

As Matchar puts it, the appeal seems to go beyond the expected niche for these blogs.

"They're members of a large, close-knit network of Mormon lifestyle bloggers -- young stay-at-home-moms who blog about home and hearth, Latter-day Saint-style. From Rockstar Diaries (Naomi) to Underaged and Engaged (Stacie) to Nie Nie Dialogues (Stephanie) to Say Yes to Hoboken (Liz), Mormon lifestyle bloggers occupy their very own corner of the blogosphere.

"Their lives are nothing like mine -- I'm your standard-issue late-20-something childless over-educated atheist feminist -- yet I'm completely obsessed with their blogs. On an average day, I'll skim through a half-dozen Mormon blogs, looking at Polaroids of dogs in raincoats or kids in bow ties, reading gratitude lists, admiring sewing projects."

The creators of these blogs are Instagram-hip chroniclers of puking babies, doting husbands, harried shopping trips, forays into vintage fashions, and weekend DIY projects gone awry. But despite being a running log of domestic vicissitudes, these blogs are contemporary cool and some, like Nat the Fat Rat, are pretty darn candid.

And as one of Matchar's 464 commentors writes, "you are attracted to the positivity."

That positivity shines through even in the face of tremendous adversity, as in the case of Stephanie Nielson (below), who experienced a near-fatal plane crash and lived to blog about it and the struggles she faces raising her kids in the aftermath of severe burns. "I am Stephanie Nielson," she says. "And I am not my body."

Some may be uncomfortable with faith-based references mingling so casually in these posts. But as a blogger and a Mormon myself, I know that blogging is all about growth and personal development - and these women are writing what they know and blogging who they are.

It's been said that audience is essential for a blogger's growth. In that respect these women owe their audiences. And it's nice to know that their readers, even those that don't share their faith, are finding value in their work.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Is Everybody Happy? Manitoba's New Media Gurus Say 'Yes'

NMM: Funding Announced for a New Media Strategy from Handcraft on Vimeo.

Yes, Manitoba's new media industry is $433,000 happy after this Monday's announcement of a whack of funds to boost the profile of the province's interactive digital media firms around the globe. The announcement was made by Lynne Yelich, federal minister of state for Western Economic Diversification.

This video has the smooth production values you'd expect, Kevin Hnatiuk, executive director of New Media Manitoba is positively effusive, and a buoyant atmosphere prevails. You can even see United Way Winnipeg's social media guru Erica Glasier grabbing some video with her iPhone.

Oh, and in case you missed it, Erica and Kevin Glasier were responsible for the inspired design and quick turnaround on the Pray for Japan t-shirts that local HOT 103 personality Ace Burpee is currently hawking.

The flash of inspiration here? The shirt's QR code takes you directly to the Red Cross mobile donation site. Brilliant concept, worthy cause and only $20.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Roots and Technology - Relatively Speaking

Something big has been happening to me lately.

The desire to learn my family history is exerting a substantial pull on me. I find I'm being moved to get moving on a project which previously held little interest.

Now, I'm starting to discover some very cool things. And I'm also noticing that genealogy - the detective work of getting to know your bigger family who have already passed - is starting to make inroads even in popular culture.

NBC's Friday night line-up boasts "Who Do You Think You Are?" a co-production with that traces the family history of one celebrity. Each week, the guest celeb sets out on an journey that gradually reveals astonishing nuggets about the lives of the folks that populate their family tree.

Now the show originated in Britain years ago and spawned knock-offs in Canada, Australia and elsewhere. But our family came to it late with the U.S. product now in its second season.

So last week, we propped up the iPad at the dinner table to take our first look. The guest, 80's pop star Lionel Richie, was often startled at the unfolding developments - especially when he learned his great-great-grandfather was a white plantation owner.

But the show focused on his great-grandfather and pursued the circuitous trail of a man who was divorced by his decades younger bride for suspicious reasons. He was the presumed renegade that no-one in the family knew or talked about.

Ultimately, the reason for his two-year period of travel away from his wife was revealed to be his commitment to building a national fraternal organization for African-American men long before the American civil rights movement found its legs. The work and sacrifice Richie's ancestor lived was often poignant.

Who knew that genealogy could make such great TV?

Another discovery that had my mind chewing on possibilities was the fact that this past February in Salt Lake City, the RootsTech 2011 conference made its debut.

Even though I have barely dipped my toes in this work, RootsTech, co-sponsored by the good folks at FamilySearch, seems like a pretty powerful draw - one that melds my budding interest in family history with a full-blown love for all things tech. You can YouTube RootsTech to get an idea of the scope of the event. The 2012 date is February 2-4.

Funny that the stars align themselves the way they do sometimes, but another smallish thing that will help me get get my feet fully immersed in genealogy is that I bought, or got rather, a Flip Video camera (thank you Air Miles), that makes it duh simple to shoot decent HD video.

It struck me just a few days ago that I should fire up the Flip to record my dad's stories about his youthful flight from the Russians during WWII and get some of the dates, times and places that were important in his life. Naturally, I'll plumb his memory for names and birthplaces of relatives I need to research.

I must hustle on this project. My dad is 72. I need to ferret out and record those stories while his memory and health are still relatively strong.

My family means the world to me. And the prospect of researching my ancestors is one that has me itching to start. I want them to be real for me - for my kids. And the question that gets bigger for me each day is quite simple.

Just who are they anyway?

Saturday, March 5, 2011

92 Crazy Good QR Slides that Will Blow Your Mind

I was floored when I discovered Erica Glasier: Oversocialized. This rich repository of posts on all things tech from the interactive/social media guru at United Way Winnipeg absolutely rocks. Check out this amazing slide deck on QR codes. Watch them full screen for maximum impact. Erica knows her stuff, I suspect, as few others do.