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Social Media Favourites of 2013

December 25, 2013

Everyone wants to be online.  They feel they should be.  The evidence is that we should be.  While the “how” of it is a bit mysterious, the fact is that a growing online presence equals growing success in business and in the promotion of causes we believe in and in the inclusion of people we care about.  As Seth Godin said, so nicely, on Christmas day in his blog:

When you’re offered precisely what you were hoping for…
say, “yes.”

If you’re a musician, that means that when the internet says you can play what you want, record the way you want to, release it when you like, at the length you prefer, to the fans you’d like to share it with…

If you’re an actor, that means that when the internet says you can perform what you’d like, film it with the team you’ve chosen and distribute it far and wide…

If you’re a writer, that means that when the internet says you can write what you want, when you want to, at any length and subject matter and intensity you prefer, and then send it to five or ten or a million friends and followers…

You get the idea. Now, for the first time, you can choose yourself. You can be responsible for what you do and how you do it. You have to do the hard work of finding and pleasing an audience.

But you do have to say, “yes.”

Several years ago we hoped to start some new conversations about person centredness and accountability in our field – how do we take the idea of “community” out of the rhetoric and create conversations that include everyone?   Since January 2009, some 57,874 people have dropped in on our blog to read some 388 posts by various people and participate in this conversation.   We know that when we meet people in our workshops they often feel they already know us, and they’ve been hungry for these conversations too – and some of them live in rural areas where they don’t have others to talk to, or they work for big agencies or government departments who seem uninterested in change, or they’re parents who spend all day with their kids and, at the end of the day, or unimaginably early in the morning (for me) they log on to see what’s happening.

Here’s my rather idiosyncratic and whimsical “best of 2013” in Social Media list.  Of course it’s impossible to think of everyone so it’s an evolving list…    perhaps what it represents is that I do like generosity, creativity, a desire to partner in all kinds of ways, and an authentic love of learning and joy in the arts.   Lee-Anne Ragan in her social media classes suggests learning about one new form of social media each year – I’m not sure that learning how to read e-books counts, but I think it does for me.  In 2013 I tried out kindle on my Ipad, got a kindle device from amazon and tried out Kobo – the latter because I wanted to support independent bookstores.   Of all these I really like the kindle app on my Ipad and have gone from one of those “I only deal with real paper” people to one of those “Oh there’s no digital edition?  What a shame…”  people.

People with intellectual disabilities do not appear in social media as we hope they are present in our communities.   Search Tumblr for “intellectual disability” and you only get about half a dozen posts – but they are pretty great stories about people with disabilities who are cared about, or have just been discovered in their neighbourhoods, or suddenly perceived.  I liked this comment by one user, just a little warning for her followers: “I know a lot of you haven’t been follow me for long, but I love kids that are intellectually disabled. I’ve taught a life skills choir for two years. I’m easily offended and very over protective of them.”

For more on why we think facilitating the presence of people with disabilities in ALL our communities is important, check out this presentation, originally given at an Inclusion B.C. Conference.   In May I will be presenting Social Media: “Please leave your cell phone ON!”  Connected and included! at the annual Canadian Conference on Developmental Disabilities and Autism  in Winnipeg – if you are there, say hello!  (or Tweet me!).

Here are some of the social media sites I’ve been enjoying in 2013.

Screen Shot 2013-12-24 at 11.00.34 PMTumblr

Screen Shot 2013-12-24 at 10.55.34 PMIn keeping with our literacy theme, I really like – all things about books and reading and learning, all the time.  The joy is infectious!  is cartoonist / artist / teacher Lynda Barry’s blog site – which she uses for several inspiring things, but not least as the teaching platform for courses that she leads.   Fascinating and quirky.

The Park at Night 1918  Georgia O’Keeffe

The Park at Night 1918 Georgia O’Keeffe

I also really like Ben is Painting – the tumblr blog of an adult student who has returned to school to study art.  This might have been my favourite site to hang out with over the last year.   It’s been sort of like going back to art school!

So far, Britain has been my favourite place to visit – so I love the Tumlbr blog Love of London  – pictures of big and small moments, intimate and public scenes, often uploaded as they are taken and posted.

Screen Shot 2013-12-24 at 11.01.57 PM


For the second year running (for me), Noah’s Dad continues to inspire and educate in all kinds of ways.   Not least of these is Dave Smith’s facilitation of conversations with parents of kids with disabilities.  Not until I see them occurring do I realize how necessary these conversations (and photos) are.

Parker Palmer – poems and ideas from the author of Healing the Heart of Democracy and other wonderful, thought provoking books   has a lively, interactive presence on Facebook.  He might not always answer, but sometimes he does.


Kindale Developmental Association has, with their Kindale Community Building twitter account, done a phenomenal job of becoming a useful presence in Vernon and its related communities.  In just a couple of years they’ve accrued more than 2000 followers and have a constant stream of information about all parts of their community.   Cindy has just agreed to write a short article about how they’ve done this, which we can look forward to in 2014.

Inclusion B.C. and its Executive Director Faith Bodnar also maintain an active twitter presence, more directed towards disability related issues.

 Mail List

Inclusion B.C.’s mail list is the amazing work of Charlotte Lynn Kates.  Here is an example.   This is one of the best ways to keep up with what’s happening in the province, country and world of disability rights and access.  Here’s an example of what it looks like.

I’m not really sure how to subscribe but you could ask “C. Lynne Kates” <> to add you.   It might be for members only, which would just be one more good reason to get a membership!

Screen Shot 2013-12-24 at 11.06.04 PMBlogs

Harold Jarche’s Life in Perpetual Beta is always a thoughtful, inspiring read about leadership, technology and networks.

I really like Donna Thomsons’ blog, The Caregiver’s Living Room – such thoughtful and thought provoking considerations so humbly and intelligently offered, out of her own experiences.   Her writing is a model for what and how we might communicate in our field.

Screen Shot 2013-12-24 at 11.33.57 PM


I am a big fan of Athabasca University   International students with lots to share, great professors and excellent courses.   I just finished a master’s degree there and am already wondering how to replace it.  Perhaps my favourite educational experience ever.

Screen Shot 2013-12-24 at 11.35.48 PMI am also, as are so many, a growing fan of Emma Van der Klift and Norman Kunc’s “Conversations that Matter” site.  Set up based on the conceit that one is at a conference this growing site incorporates great presentations, but also a future of pub chats about presentations, a shopping hall with goods by the various presenters and other fun stuff.  However, every presentation is followed by a discussion which can be filled out and sent on the the HR department to demonstrate staff training for oh y’know things like accreditation…    The whole thing is a really great and affordable alternative to sending staff to conferences, or perhaps augments those opportunities, which people say is where they do their best learning.   And, hey, it’s Norm and Emma: provincial treasures.

Cornell University’s Citizen Centered Leadership series is another really great idea, beautifully executed by the tireless Carole Blessing.   Check it out – there’s a new cohort about to register and begin learning together.

Screen Shot 2013-12-24 at 11.08.38 PMYoutube

OpenFutureLearning is coming up with such great little animated videos of people like Beth Mount and David Pitonyak.   Superb job.

Screen Shot 2013-12-24 at 11.10.00 PMSlideshare

So far the best organization I’ve visited and gotten to know a bit is LiveWorkPlay in Ottawa, the work of Julie Kingston and Keenan Weller.   You can (try to) keep up with them here on Slideshare, where they upload powerpoints from their various presentations.

I also have a growing fondness for the work of Jane Hart


Lee-Anne Ragan’s company Rock Paper Scissors has been teaching for the last twenty years in ways that others still present as innovative.  And now she’s doing it globally!

Seth Godin’s site is a superb example of the kind of online presence one might want to plan for and no one has more significantly and generously used social media.   He’s also a great demonstration of how to write incredibly brief, insightful pieces which are transformational.


websites are so interesting – after spending time with Elena Rivera McGregor it’s hard to look at them uncritically again.

Brandy Agerbeck is a genius.  And also a lovely person.  And she lives in Chicago, my third favourite city, which is becoming my second favourite city.  Check out the link there to her TED talk.

Print by David Fullerton

Print by David Fullerton

Online Stores

I still think that Jack Pearpoint and Inclusion Press should get a medal for their tireless and brilliant work around fairness and person-centred initiatives.

I’m also really partial to the online art gallery, The Compound Gallery, in San Francisco – these are savvy, whimsical, delightful characters who answer my emails at midnight and mail things off the next day – and you can feel their joy in sharing what they love from a long way away….  They also host the “art in a box” subscription service – which regularly sends you affordable art (and fun bling in every box).

Christina Merkeley’s Shift-It Consulting site is just great – full of useful information for those interested all aspects of “interactive visual thinking” –  she’s on twitter, writers a great blog / e-newsletter and has figured out how to create an interesting series of online workshops and products which you can purchase on her site – even if the subject does not interest you, check it out as a great example of leadership and a leader’s personality shining through.

Note: this is a revised version of an incomplete article published earlier, by mistake.

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