Goose River flooding

I remember putting on my rubber barn boots & grabbing a shovel, heading down by the banks of the Goose River between Mayville and Portland, right there on North Dakota Highway 200 by the park.

Goose River flooding homes in Mayville, ND

Several homes and businesses have taken on water in Mayville as the Goose River spills out of its banks, according to the Traill County Sheriff’s Office.
Capt. Steve Hunt said the flooding began late morning and early afternoon Tuesday along Highway 200 at the bottom of a hill in Mayville.
The flooded buildings included a city shop, three businesses and four homes, he said.
“At least two of them have a foot of water on the main floor,” he said.
The city planned to shore up sandbags around its water plant, he said. 

Mike Nowatzki, Forum report  3/25/09 Forum newsroom
Posted by: floodblogger on 3/25/2009 at 8:59 AM |

The situation in the Red River Valley this year is a flash-back to 1997, when a late ice-storm slowed down the snowmelt saving Fargo from the Flood of the Century and dooming Grand Forks.  The Forum is reporting today:

About 3 inches of snow had fallen by 7 a.m. in the metro area, and the National Weather Service predicts 5 to 8 inches total from Fargo north to Grand Forks before the storm diminishes this evening.

I’m following flood info & river levels on Twitter, too.  Not much I can do from 200 miles away, but maybe it will put those old memories in perspective.  Be prepared out there.

  • *******************************

Edit: Steve Gunderson has posted a great photo album from the Goose River flooding at Mayville-Portland on his home page.  The photo below is a greenhouse we helped get going when I worked for Traill County.  The owner is a great guy, but maybe I should have worked harder with him to find a safer location.  Shoulda, coulda, woulda….

Kost Hydroponics, Mayville, ND, Flood 2009

Kost Hydroponics, Mayville, ND, Flood 2009

Bozeman Explosion

At about 8:12 AM MST yesterday, a large natural-gas explosion rocked historic downtown Bozeman, Montana.  Several buildings in the 200 Block of Main Street, across from First Security Bank, were destroyed and one woman is missing.  There were no other casualties.  From what I’ve gathered from Twitter (#bozexplod) and the Bozeman Daily Chronicle, it’s taken 24 hours to isolate the gas leak and subdue the fires.

 I lived in Bozeman almost 5 years.  It’s an amazing, creative new west meets old west, Yellowstone Park and working cattle ranches and mountains and blue ribbon trout jumping into your creel should you be a sufficiently virtuous fly fisherman.

Couple points we can take away from this disaster:

  1. Do you have a personal and professional disaster recovery plan?  Where would your family meet if your home was destroyed?  What would your business or organization do if your office exploded, was hit by a flood, or a pipe froze and burst?  Visit for tips.
  2. Social media like Facebook and Twitter increasingly fills the real-time information gap in this sort of situation.  However, smart organizations can integrate these tools to reinforce their value.  The key, as always, is building your network because you never know who is going to know what you need to know when you need to know it.  You know?
  3. On a similar note, a really smart guy I once worked for used to say that Scope is as important as Scale.  A larger city might have more firefighters, more specialized equipment and nifty high-tech recovery tools.  In a smaller citylike Bozeman, though, everybody knows everybody else and they know who can help get the job done—there are numerous examples coming out of city workers sticking to the job into the night despite the cold and snow, along with construction workers, lumber yards, ordinary citizens and more.  No matter if you’re big or small, make Scale work when it can and Scope when Scale can’t.

It’s a good reminder to Prepare, Plan, and Stay Informed.

Be Prepared.

Are you reading this at work?

The line between work-life and home-life, professional and personal, is in constant flux.  As organizations search for excellence, re-invent, re-organize, upgrade, and update, the one-time rules on engagement get a bit squishy.  Governing magazine—a freebie for bureaucrats like me—offered an insightful observation on “The Millennial in the Cubicle“, relevant to government, non-profit and for-profit enterprises:

According to a recent Pew Internet & American Life Project study, 70 percent of working Americans now use the Internet on the job. That means that increasingly both the public and the private sectors are having to figure out how to balance the rights and interests of employees and employers in an environment where opportunities to do too much electronic wandering are virtually limitless, and where lots of employees spend most of the day on computers and tapping away at cell phones and other communication devices for legitimate work purposes.

Are you reading this at work?  One reason I’m working on this blog is to look at applications of social media for my “real work” in local development.  Is this blog strictly “real work” then?  Well, not stricktly.  I may be trading time during the work day that I make up by coming in early and staying late or eating lunch at my desk like I am today.  “Real Work” still needs to get done, but the timeline isn’t banker’s hours.

Complaints about overly restrictive use policies and Web blocking ought to be a wake-up call, say many in public-sector information technology and personnel management. Witt’s generation — the “millennials,” who have grown up texting, Twittering and YouTubing, and often doing all of those things simultaneously — are going to push hard for governments to open up on-the-job technology so that they can work the way they’ve become used to. “We’re going to be seeing a new generation of employees who say, ‘What do you mean I can’t look at my Facebook page while I’m at work?'” says Craig Paull, head of IT for Kent County, Michigan.

Devil’s Advocate:  I got some good advice from a prof back in college.  When you’re working for the government, don’t do anything you wouldn’t want in the headlines of the local newspaper.  There was a big buzz for awhile on “running government like a business”.  I like the idea, but the problem is the stockholders are everybody that pays taxes.  The rules are a bit different on the public dime than in private business.  I understand that.

However… public, private and non-profit organizations are all in business.  They have (or should have) a mission, a vision, strategies and objectives if they want to succeed and provide a value in this world.  If you’re gonna do a job, do it right.

Fundamentally, technology has helped create a layer of employees who view work in a whole new way, according to Lee Rainie, director of the Pew project. “It’s clear that the boundary between work and play is not as bright and distinct as it is for their parents,” says Rainie. “Nobody has done a systematic study, but as the digital generation enters the workforce, they will have different expectations about the work environment and using technology, and different norms about what they owe their boss versus what they owe their friends.” 

Some of the conflicts are generational.  Baby Boomers tend to think about work and life, paid-work and volunteer-work, differently than my Gen X peers.  The Millenials coming after, who the heck knows what they’re thinking. 

Change is, of course, the only constant.  So you may as well embrace it.  Learn to love Social Media.  Adapt your work life to Twitter and Facebook.  Adapt your home life so your Blackberry habit isn’t quite so annoying to spouse and children.  Some people see these tools extending work into homelife.  I don’t know about you, but I don’t only have ideas between 8am and 4:30pm.  If I figure out a problem for a client at 8pm, I don’t want to wait until 8am to get down the details when I can access work remotely and take care of it then and there.  At the same time, I may be pulling up Facebook at 9am to check on my kids instead of jockeying for PC time at home come 9pm.  Tools are tools, for good or evil.

Get ‘er done, but with balance in all things.



Following the pied piper of social media, you can now find me at LinkedIn:

RT @BrickandClick Retweet @cheeky_geeky LinkedIn is my Rolodex. Facebook is my scrapbook. Twitter is my lifestream idea generator (hmmm)

I’m looking at my claim on my professional name @ LinkedIn as more of a defensive mechanism than an offensive move into new public policy career space.  I am more and more convinced of the old saw: It’s who you know as much as what you know.  So for those in the know, John Shepard be there on the Rolodex of Web 2.0.  All 3 dozen of us.

Mostly it’s another bee in my bonnet on the topic of work-life integration.  There’s some buzz going on there.

As for Facebook, yeah.  Scrapbook.  that’s good.  I’m leaving lots of scraps on there.  Not keeping track of my Friend-count to see if I’m scaring ’em away.

Twitter, tho, that is becoming my idea drug of choice, in multiple flavors @johnshepard, @jcshepard, @johncshepard.  Watching The Matrix In Code.  Good ideas.  Bad ideas.  Data, data, data….


Edit 4 Feb 09: 8 Twitter Networking Tips: From Online to In-the-Flesh 

1. Use Your Twitter Profile As You Would a Business Card, 2. Let Your Twitter Feed Be Your (Ongoing) Portolfio, 3. Grow Your Twitter Network, 4. Get the Lowdown, 5. Tweet Yourself Up, 6. Ask for Help, 7. And Help Others, 8. Plan a Tweetup.

Blogs vs Twitter II


Had an A-Ha! moment on the Blogs vs. Twitter debate this week, late in the day Thursday catching up on the day’s twitter traffic after a mildly productive afternoon.

I’m thinking of Twitter like a stream and the blogosphere as lakes and oceans.  Fishing moving waters requires different techniques than still waters.  You have different gear, different approaches.  It would never occur to me to try to catch every fish that swims by.  Just the one that happens to be in the pool that i can reach.  just. right. then.

I am also a slow learner.  So I’m going to give an example.  The material is political, but my point is about the social media tools.

  1. First, I noticed a tweet by a Brit I follow re: a muslim cleric spouting off in support of spousal abuse.  Political topic, trying to stay away from that on this blog for now.  A quick retweet @JohnShepard, don’t think much about it.
  2. Over on JohnScout, I had written a post touching on the newly inaugurated president’s time as a Cub Scout in Indonesia.  This islamic nation has the largest number of Scouts in the world. I had referenced @JoshuaGodinez‘s blog  in that post, then saw him tweet about muslim Scouts in Scotland and their special Oath.  Hmm.  Maybe a topic for a follow-up post, so a quick retweet.
  3. Then, I noticed another headline on Geert Wilders.  For a few months I’ve seen the Dutch parliamentarian in the news.  He made a film, Fitna, about the dark side of Islam.  Many people are unhappy;  Thursday there were several tweets about charges filed by Dutch courts.  Again, at face a political topic, but Freedom of Speech and cultural issues—this is getting closer to what I’m willing to tackle at  However, by this time I was late for dinner.  So I did the re-tweet thing.

It’s not about the ends but the means. 

Perhaps the world is a better place for me not taking time to blog this political topic.  Who knows, perhaps we averted a new Crusade.  Either way, the Twitterverse is good for quickly bringing in data and sharing it.  Not alot of processing is going on in 140 words let alone 140 characters.  This blog is about 400 words, more or less.  It takes time to process data into information.

I used twitter like a stream.  Topics come, topics go, here’s the link, read it and see what you think.

The Intersection of Facebook & MySpace

Blogs vs Twitter

I have resisted joining the blogosphere, much as I have resisted Social Media overall. I’m just not a very social guy.

Before I got on Twitter I noticed different websites and tools waxing and waning in favor with the tehnorati.  On 20Oct08, Paul Boutin wrote in Wired Magazine (“Twitter, Flickr, Facebook Make Blogs Looks So 2004“):

“Thinking about launching your own blog? Here’s some friendly advice: Don’t. And if you’ve already got one, pull the plug.”

As I am by nature a contrarian, I have proceeded to do the opposite.  Boutin points out that opinion leaders such as Jason Calacanis have abandoned blogs in favor of social media tools such as Twitter, YouTube, etc.  His point is the pros have taken over the blogspace and it’s almost impossible to cut through the clutter.

“The time it takes to craft sharp, witty blog prose is better spent expressing yourself on Flickr, Facebook, or Twitter.”

I worked at student newspapers in college (official and alternative), had a column in a weekly local newspaper for awhile, and regularly spout out in letters to the editor.  I also started doing record reviews while a volunteer DJ for KRFC-FM community radio in Ft. Collins, CO, and have tried to keep that up on since.  I agree, it takes time to do it right.

RSS Icon

RSS guru Dave Winer is playing with different ways to integrate social media tools.  On 1Jan09, he posted his thoughts on a debate between fans of blogging and tweeting.–Michael Arrington’s 22.12.08 post “I’m sorry Robert But It’s Time For A Friendfeed Intervention.”  Arrington & Calacanis think Robert Scoble is harming his brand by neglecting his blog in favor of Twitter/Friendfeed.   Scoble replies that… well as of 12:00 CST Fri 9Jan09 he didn’t have a reply on his blog yet, but his link led me to check out Friendfeed for the first time….

I saw another observation on this debate, but IE crashed and haven’t found it again. Basically, Scoble is a news junkie–he lives to break the next big thing.  Arrington & kin are analysts–they live to understand the next big thing.

Anyway, I don’t know (or care) enough about the personalities involved to make a relevant comment on their personal choices.  I do like Winer’s conclusion that these divergent opinions are two parts of the same thing.  He notes:

“Technology is a process, an evolution — don’t focus on what’s here right now today, because a year from now it’ll be different. Look at the trend.”

Outside this conversation I’ve seen many others wring their hands over using tools such as Twitter effectively. For example, there’s a PR guy on Twitter with Colorado Farm Bureau.  Remarking on a Columbia Journalism teleconference 9Jan09:

@agripundit From *Twitter 4 Journalists* webcast: Its not about who follows you,its about who you follow. Very true. #columbiaj

I’ve seen such advice elsewhere (e.g. @jamesdickey‘s 10 Commandments of Twitter), but it didn’t really sink in until now.  It is about Purpose:

  • Twitter’s primary value for me is the data input. It’s a quantity thing. It’s like watching The Matrix in code.
  • Facebook & blogs have more value as information output.  It’s a quality thing. Where I can hash over ideas, think about it and let things perc for a bit.

We are asking not a yes/no question, but a yes and no question.  Be clear about your purpose for the tool.

That doesn’t help figure out how to get a cool clear drink of water out of the firehose that is Twitter. For now, it does give me a better idea what flavor beverage I’m looking for.

JC on Twitter
John on Twitter

Email? How quaint…


Update: @SteveThornton says this better than I can pro & con on TwiTip,
  Twitter versus Facebook: Should you Choose One? 
 (saved me a post!)

Update2: On the other hand, plenty of folks do believe… Personal blogging is dead.

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