Posted in kids, television, z personal

Stop it, Rihanna

Hi, My name is Joi and I’m a pop culture addict.  I have been one for most of my life.  In fact, I can’t remember a time when pop culture wasn’t important to me.  One of the more embarrassing areas of my addiction is pop music.  I am obsessed with it. I know all the words, the back stories to most songs and much of the gossip that was woven in with the releases.

Tangentially, I consider myself a progressive, probably more so than most.  I really don’t care what you do in your house, your bedroom, etc.  Try not to hurt anyone without their consent. This is, of course, with the caveat that the persons participating are A.) Adults and B.) Capable of granting consent without coercion.   And while I don’t care what you are doing behind closed doors, I would prefer if you just kept it to yourself.  I am happy you are happy being an exhibitionist, just please don’t do it around me.

So, given all of the above, I have a huge problem with many pop artists of late and their disregard for the public space and their audience demographics.  The airwaves, specifically, are supposed to be family friendly space.  Why do we bleep curse words, but not content that talks about abuse?  How does that work?

Some examples?  Eminem talk about tying a girl to a bed and lighting the house on fire.   Rihanna’s new song S&M has tons of explicit descriptions of pain/fetish play, and she has an older song about Russian Roulette.  Bruno Mars has songs about being bored and choosing marriage for the evening, and another that describes multiple ways he would kill himself in order to prevent the object of his affection from leaving.  And just pick randomly from the Brittney Spears catalog lately – threesomes seem to be one of her favorite topics, but who can forget Hit Me Baby and Slave for You, among others.

Eminem is a difficult example, as he would never posit himself as targeting a younger audience.  But Rihanna, Brittney and Bruno Mars – they are clearly targeting the tweenie boppers and their song lyrics are insanely inappropriate.  I don’t expect their music to be all Pollyanna, but you cannot have your cake and eat it too (altho, I DO hate that cliche – why CAN’T you eat your cake that you have?).  You shouldn’t market yourself and stylize yourself for a younger audience, cashing in on their lucrative wallets, and then pretend that your music is not intended for their ears.  Or at least not be flabbergasted when someone calls you out on it.

Yeah yeah, I hear what you are thinking, that innuendo has been part of songs forever.  I agree and I think it is fine.  My problem is that we have left innuendo land and are now knee-deep in explicit description land.  What happened to nuance, metaphor, allusion, subtlety?

Those of you who know me offline know that I am far from a prude.  But I know how to separate my worlds and how to draw lines for appropriate behavior.  why is it so hard for millionaire pop stars with a gaggle of handlers?

I have been a children’s content producer for years.  We have an ethical responsibility to our audience.  In the online world, we have tons of watchdog organizations making sure we stay on the straight and narrow in the ethics arena.  It is fair for me to bring this up.

Will I change it? – uh, probably not.  Do I sound like a geiser screaming for the kids to get off the lawn? – kinda.  But if you can’t rant on your blog, gosh darn it, where can you!

Posted in z personal

What I’m thankful for

Last year around this time, my life was a bit complicated, so I sat down and thought about what I was thankful for.  Yeah, cliche, but it helped me a great deal.  So I decided to do it again this year.  It’s a shame I only force myself to think about what I am thankful for in an organized fashion once a year.  Kinda like how I formally review my goals at the beginning of the year.  Well at least both happen regularly.  Maybe I will add to my goal list to increase the frequency… Regardless, here are my publicly sharable list of thankful things for right now (feel free to not read, gets a bit sappy):

– My family – they are numerous and crazy, mostly don’t share my world view, don’t appreciate good restaurants and live in the suburbs.  But they are so amazing and I am totally head over heels in love with all of them, so much that I can overlook political, religious, ideological and all other difference (as much as possible).

– My siblings – holy crap, they are great.  I am the oldest of 5, all of us with completely different personalities.  But we are all so close and there for each other through good and bad, no matter what.

– My parents – I love the relationship we have as adults.  They love me as much as I love them and I am so happy.

– My new nephew – OMG, he is amazing.  I understand that others have felt this before and now I understand.  He is so cool and cute and great.  Not sure on the smarts yet, but I am gonna go out on a limb and say he will be brilliant.  I love being an aunt and can’t wait for my siblings to reproduce more.

– My dog – Linus is the best dog.  Many agree with me. I am so glad he travels well, because this gypsy lifestyle would suck without him.

– My friends – As a professional networker by habit, I know a great deal of people.  But the people I choose to call “my friends” are really the cream of the crop.  I have “crews” in the different cities I travel to, some of them vacation buddies, some of the them weekend dinner friends, some of them baby mommas/daddies that I steal time with when our schedules permit.  But I am truly thankful for each and every of them and glad they are in my life.

– My job – I love National Geographic Animal Jam.  I love Smart Bomb.  I love Salt Lake and DC.  I love my team.  I feel very lucky to be able to work with them each day and do the cool work we do.  We rock and the kids are starting to realize that too.

– My industry – I heart all you folks.  You are all so passionate about kids and their happiness and safety.  We fight the good fight (and sometimes the bad fights and nasty fights) but we keep our heads up and focused on the light at the enbd of the tunnel.

– My drive/ambition – Yeah, it’s huge and scares even me.  But it has brought me so much over the years that even though I am getting tired lately, I keep going.

Cool, that’s a happy list.  File it away til next year… 🙂

Posted in trends, z personal

My fav holiday tasks

I have had a crazy year, especially within the past couple months and I wasn’t really feeling up to decorating and embracing the holidays like I usually do.  My other Holiday fanatic friends were appalled and ganged up on me a bit.  Their peer pressure convinced me that I should rally and get in the spirit.

So I did.  Tree is up (almost done resting and ready to be trimmed) and the house is decorated.  I have already finished a quart of nog this month and I am thinking of what Christmas baking I will do for what party.  Mission accomplished, friends.

So in that vein, I thought I would share my favorite Holiday tasks that I do to get in the spirit.

1. Xmas Movies – Haven’t watched any yet this season, but just thinking of them makes me smile

  • Elf – I LOVE THIS MOVIE.  I get giddy thinking about it.
  • Scrooged – I know this is a bit sacrilege to say, but Bill Murray’s Scrooge is the only way I can consume this classic, the story has gotten old for me otherwise.
  • Christmas Story – One of my all time favorites.  Sweet yet mildly dark in it’s story.  This story, in contrast to Dickens’, never gets old for me.
  • Rudolph the Red nosed Reindeer – “I want to be a Dentist” and the island of misfit toys makes this my favorite Berl Ives classic
  • Frosty the Snowman – Not my #1 Ives animation, but up there.
  • As a side note: I did a search on Twitter the other day and accidentally found TONS of people lamenting and rejoicing in the sappy Christmas movies on Lifetime and Hallmark Channels 🙂

2. Xmas Music – I love it.  I prefer cheesy, funny, silly or fun takes on traditional.  And the more obscure the better.  My friends Tom Deja and Theo each always make great mixes. And I have been exploring Pandora’s Christmas mixing abilities (try asking for an Ella Fitzgerald Christmas tune – hours of goodness will follow)

2. The lights “Downtown” – I think this is universal to all “Downtowns,” nowadays, but the lights on the major street(s) (I am partial to my Chi-town) during the season are so pretty, especially with a new snow on a milder evening.

3. Holiday Parties – I know they stress people out, but I love them.  Probably because I rarely throw them.  Love getting together with different friends groups and all my crazy family members. Especially love the traditional foods and treats I get to have only this time each year.

4. My Holiday decorations – I inherited half of mine from my mother, when she decided to class up her decorations, so, like most of my aesthetic, I have a hodge-podge of old and new, gaudy and pretty, decorations throughout my house.  The best:

  • Hand crocheted stockings made by my late grandmother
  • 30+ years worth of hand made cartoon character wood ornaments from my grandfather and cross stitched ones from my mother.
  • Not one, but two, 4-foot long latch hook rugs. One by my mom from the 70’s and one by me that took 7 years to finish.
  • An altar’s worth of snowman figurines
  • An obnoxious monster toy that sings Mahna Mahna when you press his foot.

🙂 Happy, Merry, and all that jazz to everyone. 🙂

Posted in online community, z friends

Just Be Cool (Netiquette 101)

Had a bit of a family flame war on Facebook today.  Oh, n00bs… So I wrote this letter to my FB friends, old and new alike.  Thought I would share it on here too.

I have been an internet nerd for over a decade now and I am excited to see such an influx of those who “aren’t good at computers” joining the connected world.

As a online community person, I know that there is a trajectory that a user goes through, no matter their age, as they are introduced, learn and soon, master this brave new world.

I wanted to take this chance to remind my newbie FB “Friends,” as you climb higher up the ladder of knowledge about these new playgrounds, there are somethings you might take for granted or forget in your haste to assimilate into this new environment:

  • Take control and use your blocking and filtering tools. If you don’t like something, almost every site (including FB) has tools to help you not see those things – and you can always leave too.
  • FB has very few content rules, meaning anyone can post whatever they like – esoteric, prolific, insane, benign, professional, inspirational, etc – it’s the beauty and drawback of social media.
  • Give people the benefit of the doubt.  Maybe they WEREN’T mocking you.  Maybe YOU read it wrong.  Usually, it is text, after all.  you don’t have the benefit of body language or tone to help you out.
  • You can liken it to a playground for kids – Just because you want to play a fairy tale princess game on the jungle gym, doesn’t mean everyone else does. There are also: kids who want to play tag, kids who want to read, kids who want to kiss up to the teachers, kids who want to tell dirty jokes…
  • Don’t be a hater – there are too many of those already in the world online and off. And noone likes them. Anywhere.
  • The internet is a relatively public forum. Social networks are a bit more walled, but they are just the same. If you wouldn’t rip on your nephew at the summer bbq, in front of the whole family, don’t do it online. Online is almost worse as it’s now documented.

So, my newbie friends, if it feels like I am giving you a lesson that I would an 8 year old, it’s kind of because I am.

You are new here in this digital space and we will have patience with you while you learn the ropes. But don’t use up your newbie cards to soon, because the internet is like the real world and people will just stop dealing with you here too.

Now if you can’t manage the offline space either…

Posted in marketing, online community, Safety/Privacy, traveling, web business

OCS09 – Are you going?

The Online Community Summit will be held October 8th & 9th in Sonoma, CA. It is hard to believe that the Online Community Summit is now in it’s eight year!

The Summit was originally convened by Jim Cashel of Forum One in October of 2001 as a unique invitation-based event, bringing together thought leaders from business, government, finance, academia and the media, who despite different positions share a keen interest in online group collaboration. Each year we gather a select group of senior online community professionals to discuss topics addressing business strategy, emerging technologies, key trends, as well as many tactical issues during the breakout sessions.

This year, I will be hosting the Summit, along with co-host Joi Podgorny, Head of Community at Mind Candy. Joi is an online community expert with areas of expertise in virtual worlds and online experiences for children.

Online Community Summit 2009 – Initial Topics & Session Leads

Really excited to be helping out with this this year.  Love this event and always leave excited and invigorated. 🙂

Posted in gaming, kids, online community, Safety/Privacy, traveling, virtual worlds

Did I tell you about my new job?

So most of you who read this know already, but if you don’t, I got a new job!  And its in London! Working with a fantastic people at a fantastic company who I have been a fan of for years! Exclamation points are fun!

Moshi Monsters!

I am the new Head of Community at Mind Candy, makers of the wonderfully addictive Moshi Monsters.  We are experiencing terrific growth in our traffic and subsequent community, thanks to aforementioned addictive quality of the game, as well as due to the super powers of our Marketing team.  My job is to make sure the kiddos (and grown up fans) stay safe, have fun, and keep on playing.  Cool, eh?

If you don’t already have a Monster of you own, go NOW and adopt one.  If you become a member you get access to even more cool stuff.  And once you have one, become friends with my Moshi.  It’s name is Fizmo (bonus points to those of you who know where that name comes from 😉 )

My Moshi - Fizmo

You have been warned.  This is gonna be big. 😉

Posted in traveling

Hardest part of moving to the UK, part 2

Yeah, did I speak too soon or what…

So the bigger thing you should apparently worry about when moving your life to another country, even if it’s to a country that your own country is on benevolent terms with, is making sure your travel paperwork is in order.  And not last minute. And if it’s not, don’t go to the country until it is.

I didn’t do those things.  I was so worried about leaving the US, that I really didn’t pay enough attention to the details of getting into the UK.  As such, I didn’t really know that you have to have everything all buckled up before you get there.  Oops!  8 hours of detainment and a prompt flight home taught me a lesson I will never forget.  Do not underestimate paperwork.

SO, since I am a “teach a man to fish” sort of thing, I thought I would share more tips, just in case you ever have to make the move yourself.

  • READ EVERYTHING. 4 or 5 times. Really – skimming over a paragraph that details some random original document you need from your university that you haven’t talked to in 15 years can cause all kinds of trouble.  Seriously.
  • GIVE YOURSELF TIME.  I am a master at planning and scheduling.  What I am not a master at is giving myself more than enough wiggle room.  This usually is fine for me, but in total black box situations like this, the more time the better.
  • ALLOW TIME TO BE EMOTIONAL.  I hate this bullet point.  I am not an emotional person, well, not the sad, weepy kind, at least.  I didn’t factor in my family acting like I was moving to the moon or going to war, which took a bunch of time to sort out.
  • DON’T DOUBLE BOOK/PAINT YOURSELF INTO A CORNER. This could take the form of scheduling a big meeting for the day or week you arrive or say, inviting many family members to vacation as soon as you arrive. The latter was the case with me and I had to ask my wonderful family to cancel their vacation due to my planning missteps.  Not fun. (They are going to come out later in the fall/autumn, no worries)

I am still not done with the process, but thankfully my gracious hosts are letting me work remotely until I get it all sorted out.  I am gonna work really hard at not making a “Part 3” to this blog post. 😉

Posted in traveling

Hardest part of moving to the UK

Well, it’s all hard.  I thought it would be all easy  (really I did – I am a REALLY good planner) but many parts are hard.  Saying goodbye to loved ones (who all act like you are moving to the moon as opposed to a country 6 hours away by plane), realizing you have to find a NEW fav book store/bike shop/local pub/burger joint, coming to grips with the fact that you actually do NOT need to transport your 7th grade passed notes.  All tough. 

But the WORST is figuring out the PETS passport regulations:

My beloved Linus P Alexander has to stay with my family until Christmas when I come back for a visit. 

The rules are rigid as the UK has abolished rabies and is justifiably paranoid of it’s return.  If you violate any of the rules, they take your dog and put him in quarantine!  for 6 months!

So I followed the rules and, get this, THE RULES INCLUDE A 6 MONTH WAIT TOO!  I was hysterical for a couple days.  At least he will be with family, but still, I won’t wake up to his snorting face in mine, pleading to go out for a walk. 😦

So beware!  and follow the rules!

  • Have your pet microchipped

    Before any of the other procedures for PETS are carried out, your pet must be fitted with a microchip so that it can be properly identified.

  • Have your pet vaccinated

    After the microchip has been fitted your pet must be vaccinated against rabies. There is no exemption to this requirement, even if your pet has a current rabies vaccination

  • Arrange a blood test

    After your pet has been vaccinated, it must be blood tested to make sure that the vaccine has given it a satisfactory level of protection against rabies.

  • Get PETS documentation

    For animals being prepared in an EU country, you should get an EU pet passport. If you are preparing your animal in a non-EU listed country you will need to obtain an official third country veterinary certificate although note that Croatia, Gibraltar, Norway, San Marino and Switzerland are also issuing passports.

  • Before your pet enters the UK, it must be treated against ticks and a tapeworm

    Your pet must be treated against ticks and tapeworms not less than 24 hours and not more than 48 hours before it is checked in with an approved transport company for its journey into the UK.

  • Arrange for your animal to travel with an approved transport company on an authorised route

    Your pet must enter the UK from a listed country travelling with an approved transport company on an authorised route.

Linus says hi (snort).

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Posted in marketing, online community, web business, z personal

Reclaiming your personal brand

We are more connected than ever, but that also means we more transparent than ever. Company’s have been worried about their brand integrity forever, so why would it be strange to manage your own?

Taking care of your identity online is an unfortunate chore that we all should have as part of our online habits. It doesn’t take much to discredit your name online, so make sure you are in control of how you are represented, just in case someone wants to help you form that identity in a negative way. This has now happened to multiple friends of mine, so I thought I would post my tips to them for everyone.

Scary cautionary tales – Here are just 3 stories of non-webby people who, because they had such a limited presence online, one small thing made a huge impression:

  1. DUI in public paper from years ago – many local papers publish their crime blotter sections online now. Wouldn’t you hate an embarrassing evening from 5+ years ago to show up on an employer search?
  2. Relationship help in forums – Forums are great ways to reach out to the masses for help on problems that you either don’t have anyone to relate to in your face to face networks or you are not comfortable with sharing. But if you were writing about something private about your boyfriend’s hangups, make sure to keep your details private too. (that means the details in that forums profile area too)
  3. Multiple account holders – be careful how you associate yourself with accounts that have multiple people sharing the same login. I know someone who helped design a site for someone to be nice, associated that site on her portfolio, only to have the site owner drastically change the content to be very questionable after the fact.


  • Consistency is the key, use the same bio wherever it makes sense. I have one typed up in a saved sticky note on my computer that I can just cut and paste from when I join a new site.
  • Wherever possible, change the generic link location to your real name (i.e. linkedin/in/joipodgorny)
  • Use your real name – joipodgorny – as your user name for all profile and sites that you don’t mind your real identity being shown. (some of these sites are listed below)
  • Pick a profile picture, name it YOURREALNAME.jpg (i.e. joipodgorny.jpg) and use it in all of your profiles
  • Assume EVERYTHING is viewable somehow to someone. This puts the private feeling some web communities foster into perspective and helps you to be aware of what you write before you write it.
  • Use tags whenever you can. They help associate your content with keywords that you choose, and give more relevancy to your content.
  • Have a list of 2 or more pretend usernames that you can use when you want to go all ninja-secret online.

But remember:

  • The cool thing about the web is how you can try on different identities – take advantage of it. Just remember, the more detailed you are, the more clues to your real identity you give. Even if you don’t give your real name, but you tell your town or favorite local pizza place and a couple other you-centric details in a “secret” identity, people can figure out if they are so inclined.
  • You can still have fun online in all of these sites, just remember that what you type and do and post is permanent in many ways. Just think before you hit the enter key. Sharing a virtual 4-leaf-clover with a friend is great in all contexts, but virtual s&m toys may look odd to the clients you forgot you added to your friend list.
  • This may sound paranoid, but it’s simply a reality. You don’t have to do any of these thing, you don’t have to do all of them – and there are certainly TONS more ways than this list. But the more you are aware of how you come up online, the more control you have, just in case something were to happen.

Good sites for helping you manage your personal brand identity. (The more you belong to, the more you dictate how you show up from a google search)

Social Networking Sites: – business social networking site. Put your resume up, recommend people, get answers to business questions. – social networking site – – social networking site – social networking site – social networking site – you can make a wish list of items you want, but it has a profile section
yahoo/msn/google – every free email site has a profile associated with it, fill it out with the info you use on other sites – social networking news site that launched their own social network.

Personal Website/Blog generators – These are great ways to generate content you want about yourself. Not for everyone, but even sporadic posting helps increase the amount of you-authored content about you online. I have a personal blog and a professional blog that I post different content to. Again, choose the site titles accordingly (i.e. this site’s name has MY name, see how I work that? :P)

Microblogging tools – This is a relatively new kind of site. They are like blogs in that you post about yourself, but it’s more like sending a short message into the universe for everyone to see.(they all have 140 character limits, like SMS). There are tons of different ways to use these tools, but if your goal is to increase the you-authored info on the web, these are great tools for that.

Social Bookmarking tools – I personally love these tools as they allow me to keep a running tally of cool sites I find, associated them with tags/keywords, and save them for later. I have used them for years and find myself checking my archives all the time. They are great in the personal brand context too, as if your username on your bookmarks is your name, they can be another source of reference for your name in search results.

Aggregators – This category is more advanced, but certainly helps in flooding search results. They are simply sites that catalog the info on blogs and other sites online. If you log your info into them, they are very good at popping up in search results. There are hundreds of these sorts of sites, I just pulled a few that showed up at the top of some of my friends vanity searches.

Feed distributors – These are services that take your posts on one site and distribute them to other sites automatically, via the RSS feeds associated to that content. I have my twitter set up to post to my facebook status, so I only have to post my updates in one place. (I don’t “have” to post anywhere, but you get my drift. 😛 ) The first 3 are actual sites that manage multiple rss feeds.
each social network

Hope this helps. Feel free to post your own tips. Again, it’s not paranoia (unless you make it that way), it’s simply being smart and in control of your own identity.

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