Tag Archives: Facebook

Huge Writing Announcement: “Hot Mess: speculative fiction about climate change” – Kindle, Smashwords & Nook

Welcome to my 100th post for rlbrody.com.

I didn’t realize I’d have something significant to say when I hit this blogging milestone. Imagine how excited I was when I realized. (Actually, if you follow me on twitter, you probably don’t have to do much imagining.)

So here it is. Huge Writing Announcement.

A few months ago, I posted about an anthology I was putting together: short stories about global warming and climate change, and their effects on humankind.

Today that anthology – Hot Mess: speculative fiction about climate change – went live on Amazon.com.

Over the next 36 hours or so, it will populate to Amazon’s international sites. Over the next couple of weeks, Nook, Smashwords and CreateSpace (a print service – that’s right, actual books) will join the Kindle version of Hot Mess for sale.

But today, it’s just there for Kindle. If you’re a Kindle owner, or if you’ve downloaded one of their ten billion Kindle apps for your smartphone, iPhone, iPad, or desktop, you can click on this link right here and you will be able to download your very own copy of Hot Mess. And you should. Because not only is it a piece of work I’m over-the-moon proud of, but it’s work with a grassroots-level charity angle: each author has agreed to donate a portion of whatever earnings they have from Hot Mess to a charity or awareness-raising organization close to their heart,  involved in dealing with climate change.

So go buy Hot Mess. What will you be getting?

The anthology starts with She Says Goodbye Tomorrow by Eric Sipple, a story about wine and family and loss and memory.  From there, my super-short Haute Mess takes a whimsical, fashion-based look at how visual and physical climates interact. Miranda Doerfler gives us In Between the Dark and the Light, an action-filled tale about a father and his daughter, followed by Sare Liz Gordy‘s Traditionibus ne Copulate, which (I think, and I know she’ll correct me if I’m wrong) translates to “Don’t fuck with tradition.” Next, my piece Mom. Mom. Mom. Mom. Mom. is a domestic coming-of-age tale about a boy, his mother, an industrial accident and the house computer. Finally, RJ Astruc brings the anthology’s central questions back to the forefront with her fictional travelogue, The World Gets Smaller, and Things Get Left Behind.

Hot Mess features hand-drawn illustrations by musician/ecologist Hannah Werdmuller as well as a fashionably modern – and eye-catching – cover design from Sarah Hartley. Mere Smith’s assistance with proofreading and Jason Derrick’s with formatting were (and continue to be) very much appreciated. This book wouldn’t be out today without your work. Thank you, so much, to each of you.

A little over seven months ago, I approached four writers and asked them if they were interested in writing a short story anthology about climate change. They were. The project started. Now it’s over.

Except it’s not. There’s still loads to do: more uploading, more formats, more reviews, more readers, more awareness. I will talk about all of that more later – in another blog entry. Earth Day is next month; I’ll definitely talk about it before then. I hope you will, too.

For now, please read Hot Mess.

Then start talking, posting, retweeting, and facebooking about it.


UPDATE (3/21): You may have noticed that some of the above links are now directing you to Smashwords! You can now buy the book directly there; in a few weeks it will have populated out to sites like Kobo, the iTunes store and more.

If you’re reading on Kindle, I would still recommend you purchase the Amazon version, as that has been optimized for your platform. Nook users, Smashwords does a lovely job of converting to a Nook-friendly format.

Click Here to Buy Hot Mess


UPDATE 2:  This morning, I got to send my dad a text: “Your daughter is currently outselling Isaac Asimov in her category.” (We’d just pulled ahead of “I, Robot”).  The book rose to just over 9K in the Amazon store rankings. Within our own category (sci-fi anthologies), “Hot Mess” shot to #20 on the top #100 list, climbed up another few spots before topping out at #15, and lingered there overnight. (EDIT: Hannah has just let me know she saw it at #14 at 2am! Not sure if that’s EST or PST, but either way!) Not bad for Upload Day, right?

Theater Review: MANGELLA by Ken Ferrigni at The Drilling Company

To those who know me off this blog (and probably a number of you on it), the news that I’ve been a geek since before it was cool isn’t going to come as any big surprise. Partly because of that, and partly because of a project I’m working on that uses disruptive technology as the axel for its narrative, I went to see Mangella by Ken Ferrigni – a cyber thriller about a man (Anthony Manna) trapped in a logic loop with his computer Gabriella (Ali Perlwitz), his aging, dementia-ridden father (Bob Austin McDonald), and Lilly (Hannah Wilson), the hooker who’s come to save him from it all.

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“Getting” the Internet: The CDC and the Zombie Apocalypse

When people think of social media jobs, they might consider pop-culture commentary and corporate representation – but what about social media in public service? Last week, the Center of Disease Control’s (CDC) Office of Public Health Preparedness and Response used a darkly fictional twist – and a keen understanding of social media’s strengths – to tap into the hive mind’s love of all things undead, sparking a global viral sensation of Zombie Apocalypse humor (and educating the public) in the process.

Many companies use social media without really “getting it,” so seeing a government agency set such an excellent example, particularly in a way that acknowledges the foibles of internet culture, is really exciting. Curious to know more, I reached out to the CDC, and the lead for the Emergency Web and Social Media Team, Catherine Jamal was generous enough to answer some questions regarding the process of seeing Preparedness 101: Zombie Apocalypse go viral.

So sit back, and prepare to be infected…with knowledge.

Generating Zombies: Social Media at the CDC

Using collaboration between teams, the CDC’s Office of Public Health Preparedness & Response created the Zombie campaign to revolve around emergency preparedness and the agency’s response to emergencies.

Members of the team had used social media for emergency preparedness in multiple situations, and unsurprisingly – given how this project came together – Jamal says there is “a lot” of social media experience at the CDC. When it comes to their online activities, the organization – like many businesses – uses a strategy that links information via website, social media, and more. In terms of their specific use of Twitter, the H1N1 outbreak was the catalyst behind the CDC’s emergency twitter feed and a Facebook Page.

“This idea [for the Zombie meme] came up during a brain-storming session between CDC communication experts in the Office of Public Health Preparedness and Response,” said Jamal. “We were exploring how we might reach more people with our preparedness messages since personal preparedness is such a critical component of developing resilient communities.”

What companies can take note of from the CDC’s approach here is that they observed how a real world disaster – the Japan Earthquake – unfolded in the popular consciousness via a discussion their representatives took part in via the twitter account,@CDCemergency. The team noticed that “several people tweeted about zombie preparedness,” perhaps planting a seed for the later idea.

When that later idea was used – when the campaign was launched on 5/16/11 – Zombies were used as a metaphor for serious disasters: hurricanes, disease outbreaks, earthquakes and floods, to name just a few examples. This allowed @CDCemergency to introduce a topic that “people don’t typically talk about until it’s too late.” (Put another way, don’t wait to try and buy 10 gallons of water till the day after the apocalypse.)

But it’s not just peoples’ immediate safety that the CDC is interested in protecting. In a larger sense, “The campaign was also to have a broader conversation about the role of public health in keeping people safe from health threats every day.”

 Going Viral: Spreading the Zombie Apocalypse Infection

If you’ve ever posted a photo of your cat on Twitter, you know the path to viral isn’t always an easy – or obvious one. For every Rebecca Black, there are millions of…well, the rest of us. I was interested in knowing what the CDC had used to launch interest in their campaign, since my awareness of it came well after Zombie Apocalypse began to trend on Twitter. This thing spread like the Rage virus; how did it get out there so fast? Jamal outlined its evolution:

Beginning with a post on Dr. Ali S. Khan’s public health matters blog, the campaign initially “utilized several additional existing social media channels including Twitter, Facebook, widgets, and badges. The blog post had an accompanying web page discussing the related social media.”

As noted above, I learned of the meme via twitter – but shortly after, mainstream news outlets picked up the story, and it went global IRL as well as online. So not only does the CDC Office of Public Health Preparedness and Response and now have a successful viral campaign on their hands, but the team’s public health message is being spread effectively at breakneck speed around a globe fraught with earthquakes, monsoons, floods, disease outbreaks and more.

The team “hoped that by using zombies as our focus and marketing the message via social media, we could gain the attention of a younger audience that is difficult to reach with traditional preparedness messages.” At a glance, it would appear they were successful – they were as surprised as anyone else to see CDC hit Twitter as a Trending Topic the day of the release.

To give an idea of how significant the jump in the CDC website’s hit was, Jamal provided the following context: while a typical blog post on the CDC site receives between 900-3000 total page views, the reach of Preparedness 101: Zombie Apocalypse came out to over 2 million views – in less than a week. This makes it the #1 page on the CDC’s website.

That’s at least over a six hundred percent increase, based on the higher end of the figure. The average might reveal a far higher leap. Clearly, and whatever fears one might have about the public’s need to be entertained in order to be educated, this is an effective way to transmit information. “All zombie movies have a hero of some sort,” goes the CDC’s message, “and we encourage people to be ready to be that hero!”

The Serious Side of Social Media Outreach

Given the success of the Zombie Apocalypse meme, it’s not surprising that  the CDC is interested in continuing to use social media for their outreach, offering the following advice: “A good way to get ready for the next apocalypse – no matter what it is – is for people to take some personal responsibility for themselves and their community.”

So what say you, dear readers? Has Preparedness 101: Zombie Apocalypse got you stockpiling twinkies for the End Times?

Visit the CDC Preparedness 101: Zombie Apocalypse Guide for information that can help you and your family prepare for a variety of disasters. Check out some of my Zombie-Related reviews for more braaaains…

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“You’re Cut Off!” Party – I Sip Champagne in NYC on VH1’s dime, and enjoy it.

Do you want to answer our questions?” she asked, shoving an iPad in my face.

“Does it require me allowing an app permission to access my basic data? I retorted.

She cocked an indie-eyebrow at me and binary code passed between our eyes. “Yeah,” she said.




“It’s okay…”

She had an answer, at least, I thought. She knew what I meant when I asked her, I thought.

Dissecting Facebook’s New Privacy Controls

In their latest privacy policy update, Facebook states that they will give the option to turn off ALL the applications, games and websites’ access to your personal information. I decided to check it out.

The first two sections seem straightforward enough: “My Account” leads you to the “Privacy Settings,” which lead you to “Choose your Privacy Settings.” I’m now going straight to “Applications, Games and Websites” – because this is where facebook has been most insidious about their lack-of-privacy-creep.

(For those who want to delete all their apps, you can tick “turn off all platform” applications if you want…but I prefer to just lose the excess baggage of apps I no longer want having even a backdoor route into my account information).

Here are a list of 28 applications that have access to my personal information. Some are news sites; I let The New York Times , The Washington Post, and The Huffington Post stay because they’re useful in sharing data via iTouch app. Some are a little bizarre, and I chalk them up to the early days of my facebook membership. They get little “ticks”, so I can remove them from the list.

This gives me momentary pause, except that harkening back to my last blog post on the subject, I realize that these apps are no longer part of what I want from Facebook. So out they go. “What Sexy Cartoon female are you?” (Jessica Rabbit) goes out the window, as does Starbucks’ “You Deserve One” app. I’m horrified to see that I allowed foursquare to access my information, since I intentionally don’t post location information on my facebook account; I had forgotten this one even existed. “Death’s Time”, “Caprica Open Mic” and “Which GLEE character are you?”  (I don’t remember) also get the tick. I hesitate at LoKast, a short-range disposable social network that debuted at SXSW last year, mostly because I thought the idea was really interesting and I was hoping to find other LoKast-ers in the city. That never happened, and the site doesn’t seem to be taking off among my social group, so toodle-oo, LoKast.

I realize, now that I’ve read to the bottom of the pop-up box, that there’s a Select All tick box, so I could have ticked them all at once.

With that, I click “remove selected,” and see that I’ve removed 23 of the 28 applications that had access to my information, and most of them I hadn’t even remembered granting access to in the first place. Suddenly, I feel a heck of a lot better.

I’ll try to do another section of this in a while, but we’ll see how it goes. No promises.

The Facebook Detox: Reconsidering What I Need From Facebook

After reading articles like this (http://www.danah.org/papers/talks/2010/WWW2010.html) and this (http://www.facebook.com/l.php?u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.readwriteweb.com%2Farchives%2Fwhy_facebook_is_wrong_about_privacy.php&h=01a8d), not to mention loads of others, I’ve been getting more and more uncomfortable with continuing to use Facebook as my main social network. It’s been occupying a lot of the time I spend thinking about the internet (which is, let’s be honest, just plain a lot of time). Out for drinks with a friend on Friday night, it turned out both of us were having similar misgivings about Facebook, and both of us are starting to think it’s time to move on. Our reasons for wanting to go are the same: increasing discomfort with Facebook’s privacy policies and Mark Zuckerberg’s increasing megalomania are losing our trust – which, as has been said again and again, is one of the only real currencies Facebook has when it comes to its users.

More interestingly, from my perspective, the things keeping us from leaving the service are the same, and boil down to two main points:

  1. We don’t want to lose our data
  2. Fear of slipping away from access to mainstream internet use.


As someone who has always been ahead of the general internet curve when it comes to adopting new services, I’m not too concerned about the second point. Since 1993, I’ve been using the internet to connect with niche interest groups from scifi fandoms to geography-based communities.

To me, the first point is my immediate concern. I want to leave Facebook, but I have taken literally hundreds of phone photos over the last few years, and now it seems like getting those photographs is going to involve manually clicking through each album and saving them to hard disk. It’s a step I’m almost ready to take, but it seems surprising to me that nobody has created a program that will take my data from my account and zip it into a nice, neat folder.

Knowing that an easy way to download-and-delete my profile information probably isn’t going to come along any time soon, instead I decided to at least limit the potential for Facebook to keep invading my life: I deleted the Facebook app from my iTouch on Friday night and haven’t missed it since.

My rationale is that now I have to go to the facebook website – a practice which served me just fine for the first three years I was on the service – and make the effort to engage with the platform, and this may refine and improve the quality of the time I spend on th service, while discouraging me from placing extraneous data there just because it’s the easiest way to quickly share information.

As for the bulk of the links my facebook friends have been enjoying (or not) on my site? Well, I can still link all that to Twitter, where I don’t share nearly the level of personal connectivity with my readers on an ongoing basis (even though you guys are awesome, you’re still part of the Internet at Large and I’m trying to be smart about that!).

Ever since I first downloaded Semagic, I’ve been trying to balance my use of apps with my use of website; this has become harder since the rise of Apple’s App store/iTunes, but for people like me who like to immerse ourselves in as much of the internet as we can, taking a step back from those apps may offer an option  

By Sunday morning, I’d refocused my idea of using Facebook for what I wanted to use it for – keeping an open line of communication with people I care about having in my life – rather than what Zuckerberg and the rest of the company want me to use it for – putting every detail of my online life in one easily accessible place. Did a major friends-list cull, taking out those people who don’t really use this as a method of keeping in real contact, or the people whose lives (I’m sorry to say) I’m just not that in need of constant awareness of.

Moral: One way to take a step back from computer/internet overuse/addiction is to go back to using websites rather than apps to access your information. It forced me to slow down and reconsider why I want to be using Facebook – which, I’m confident, will ultimately improve my use of the service as and if I continue to use it.