Thursday, January 22, 2009

Facebook makes the world even smaller

I just got back from a business trip to Philadelphia, travelling with a co-worker. He noticed I was accessed my phone a lot and asked what I was up to. I ended up telling him quite a bit about Facebook and Twitter. He had signed up for a Facebook account to see someone's pictures but didn't get it. He hadn't heard of Twitter and after I described it, he thought I was even more crazy. When we stopped to eat dinner I chuckled 'I guess I better tell the world that I'm eating a spicy chicken sandwich at Max and Erma's."  He shook his head "Why on earth would anyone care?"  Mind you, I'm fairly new to Facebook and have only about a dozen Twitter followers (ltbaxter), so it was hard to argue with him. As we get on the plane less than 40 minutes later, I checked my mobile Facebook again. It was fun to tell him I got four responses, one person recommending their cookies, two others wishing me safe travels, and one more from Buffalo giving me the scoop on "real" buffalo chicken sandwiches :)

Even cooler, via Twitter and Facebook I noted a friend was reading a book while waiting at the airport. I told her that was a good book, and over the course of our connections we continued to update on book and flight progress. I mentioned I was now going through my connection in Cleveland and would be home before long. Finally, ending in Indy, I headed toward baggage claim. There was my friend with a broad smile - "I saw there was a flight coming in at the same time from Cleveland, was wondering if I would run into you here!" It just made the world seem that much smaller, and really surprised my co-worker. "Hmmm, maybe that stuff isn't so useless after all?!"  Also, my wife got to follow along via her Facebook account and the Twitterfox extension for Firefox. The neat thing was that it turned one of the quietest / loneliest of activities - business travel - and mobile social networking helped me feel connected with my family and friends (and the rest of the world) all along the trip, like I wasn't in it alone. Nothing earth shattering, but just one more tool useful in building community and staying connected.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Review - Same Kind of Different As Me

Same Kind of Different As Me: A Modern-Day Slave, an International Art Dealer, and the Unlikely Woman Who Bound Them Together - by Ron Hall and Denver Moore with Lynn Vincent - Book Review.

Last month my sister-in-law read a book called "Same Kind of Different as Me" and when she was done, she highly recommended that I read it. This week I found myself with a copy and thought I would give it a try. I'm very glad I did - 'Same Kind of Different As Me' is an amazing book: gripping, inspirational, and eye-opening as well.

The book interweaves the stories of two men who on the outside seem very different. Ron is a rich international art dealer, and Denver was raised as a sharecropper, did time in prison, and becomes homeless on the streets of Ft. Worth. The story of how they met, how they became friends, and what they learn from each other is fascinating. Hearing two (and very different) sides of many events in the book was very interesting. There's a pervasive spiritual aspect to the book, as the faith of the main characters (and Ron's wife Deborah) play a crucial role in who they are and what they do. (I found that a positive element, but if that concerns you, don't worry - they don't get all preachy!)

What was particularly interesting for me was as side effect of diving in so quick that I didn't realize something very important... I thought the book was fiction and only after I finished did I realize it was not! The idea that within my lifetime there have been people still living in conditions indistinguishable from slavery, facing unthinkable racial hatred, was chilling. That background made the building of a friendship between the two men even more incredible. The power of love and faith that puts itself into action - not just from a distance but up close and personal - triumphs in a touching way in "Same Kind of Different as Me". I highly recommend the book for any reader! (Actually, for the non-reader, I would recommend the book on Audio CD or audio download)