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Powering Down by Bob Sprankle

I'm barely awake, watching the ending scene of my favorite movie, It's a Wonderful Life, but this time it's different. When the camera zooms in on Jimmy Stewart holding Zuzu, and the bell rings, a line has been changed:

"Daddy, teacher says that every time a bell rings, a new Web 2.0 app has been created."

Jimmy Stewart tells Zuzu that she's right. He's got tears in his eyes. I'm wide awake now. Did I just hear that correctly?

Ok. Clearly I need a break. Time to shut down the pipelines. Turn off Twitter, disconnect the iPhone, unplug gMail and pull the plug from all that is streaming and fed by RSS syndication.

It's hard to stop, but I've made a promise that I will take an entire day during this upcoming Winter Holiday vacation (here in North America) to completely unplug. It's something that no longer comes easily ---turning off all the "stuff." I'm not saying that I'm at the level of crisis like some, but sometimes it's hard to remember what life was like without all the connectivity and new Web 2.0 tools to try out every time I turn around. Vacations are always a good time to refuel and refocus. This year, my inspiration for letting go of the digital for a day comes from a book by A. J. Jacobs, called The Guinea Pig Diaries: My Life as an Experiment, in particular, Chapter 8: The Unitasker. In this experiment, Jacobs strives to stop the curse of multi-tasking and return to a simpler, more focused mode of life. He sites the article, "Is Google Making Us Stupid?" by Nicolas Carr as part of his own inspiration and tries to suss out all multitasking in his life and commit to one act at a time as part of a self-imposed experiment.

Hey, I should be able to do at least a day of this, right?

Having made this promise to myself and my amazed family, along comes another book of inspiration: a free ebook put together by Seth Godin, comprised of over 70 "big thinkers'" micro-essays of ideas to chew on as we head into the New Year. It's called What Matters Now and, according to Godin, will set you on the path to "a different way of thinking, a useful way to focus and the energy to turn the game around." While not all the essays have been earth-shattering to me, I've bookmarked quite a collection that have spoken directly to my "rebooting and refocusing" quest as well as given me things to think about once I plug back in:

  • Right out of the gate, Elizabeth Gilbert hit me with the essay, "Ease," which tells me to "take a step back" and turn off all my electronics.
  • Howard Mann cautions us that "more megaphones don't equal a better dialogue" and to be aware of how large and loud the "echo chamber" is becoming.
  • Guy Kawasaki tells us of 10 important things to remember when evangelizing.
  • Mitch Joel reminds us of the importance of Compassion.
  • Karen Armstrong reminds us of the "Golden Rule."
  • David Weinberger reminds us how the hyperlink makes us smarter by bringing differences and disagreements "only a click away" and gives us the opportunity "to live together peacefully in a world or unresolved differences."
  • Mark Rovner asks us, "What would Buddha Tweet?"

This book is a wonderful gift (holiday or otherwise) that Godin has placed at our feet, perfect for reflection in these hyper-changing times. I invite you to check out What Matters Now and pass on the link to friends. Which essays speak to you? What would you add?

Are you like me? Have you been planning on a "reboot" or a "powering down?"

Happy Holidays!