Age of Conversation & Kids: Digital Citizens v Snark Tanks

May 26, 2010 When I mention social media being part of kids’ identity, parents often cringe and squinch up their faces like I’ve force fed them BeanBoozled Jelly Bellies in pickle and ‘rotten egg’ flavor.

Some parents perceive social media to be one behemoth danger zone of Facebook/Formspring/Game Chat/Text-fest “words that wound”—injuring kids like drive-by hit-n-run color commentary.

Can’t blame ’em, as the constant stream of disturbing new stories on kids’ digital abuses far outweigh the ‘long lost brothers reunited on Twitter’ conversations, kids as heroes mobilizing for change, mobile apps for social good, children for peace linking friendships across global borders to create better understanding, or youth service learning with rapid responses in Haiti shipping tents and donating their own time on their own dime to deliver lightening fast aid.

As one of the contributing authors to The Age of Conversation 3, my goal is to use the social media conversation to DO something(besides chat, sell stuff and engage in a ‘colossal time sink’ as we adults carp about from time to time) So what are the best practices to  ‘get busy,’ learn the ropes of digital citizenship and apply them to our causes…Enter the social media sages of Age of Conversation 3…

The Age of Conversation 3 is our probono, collaborative effort of 171 global authors (yes, I am one of them) sharing marketing tips and ‘how-tos’ to help guide us all into action, from youth orgs, media movements and kids’ concepts and ideas inching in a positive direction for humanity throughout the globe, to our definitive Oct. 22, 2010 summit plans to reverse the sexualization of children in media/marketing, it’s easy to see how these 202 pages can help us all get to where we want to be.

As I wrote in our very first AOC iteration of this collaborative global book three years ago,

“The Age of Conversation is not only upon us, it’s within us, and it’s coursing through our veins.”

Never has that been so true as the last couple of weeks popping in and out of conversations with thought leaders coast to coast that amaze, stupefy, educate and bewilder me with ‘why haven’t we done this before?’ tactics of using social media ‘early and often.’

It’s refreshing (and a bit surreal) to see how fast we’ve moved beyond theory, chatter and mental floss to newly revamped Facebook privacy settings, digital policy, cyclebreaking and culture shifting that is nothing short of…”Epic Change.” (unabashed plug for Stacey Monk’s awesome work!)

From the Actionist Network (being created by Jess Weiner and her ever-emerging Confidence Community which ditches egos and personal brand building in favor of a collective whole) to the simple ‘rev power’ of connecting the dots between entities that don’t often overlap in the Venn Diagram of life…it’s awe-inspiring to engage in this Age of Conversation in real time.

Sometimes it’s been an opportunity to bring our ‘personal brands’ face to face, other times we’re building a sense of community  and purposeful alliances online using social messaging tools like Twitter. (recap of ‘how/why Twitter works’)

Just yesterday I was wishing for a clone to teleport in ‘Beam Me Up Scotty’ style between the Mobile Health 2010 conference at Stanford with BJFogg’s crew and the YPulse Mashup 2010 in San Francisco, as I could see strong social media potential to interweave communities and couldn’t figure out how to ‘be two places at once.’

Using social media to track conversations in both conferences via hashtags (wth? What Twitter Hashtag?!) helped me link up the new Frontline SMS BullyProof app being announced at MobileHealth (using anonymity for good, to report digital abuse; aka cyberbullying among peers) with the MTV’s prosocial crowdsourced site for digital citizenship called  A Thin (where kids sound off on behavior that ‘crosses the line” into digital abuse and controlling/bullying exploitation)…

In a simple ‘you two should talk’ type of tweet, I can honestly say I have every confidence that a simple little 140 character conversational blip will jumpstart not just a convo but a hearty ALLIANCE leveraging mobile health apps with media/MTV might to pay it forward on behalf of a gajillion kids suffering from peer abuse…

Would these two entities both serving kids have found each other? Sure, soon enough. But Twitter made it instantaneous, with real time connectivity to vault two conversations in separate conferences into a unified ‘what if’ and ‘let’s talk.’

By looping stakeholders who are listening with intention (yah, yours truly) it helps cut to the chase and unify thinking into a stream that flows smoothly, pushing the concept farther, faster without any shifts in the current.

My tweet became a real time conduit for Twitter used as a ‘messenger service’ turned virtual handshake in an aha connect the dots moment among executives…

Not to get all Gestalt theory-ish, but when “The whole is greater than the sum of the parts” you’ve definitely got an “Age of Conversation,” worth exploring at a nuanced level.

Mind you, I’m in the “Ancora imparo” (I am still learning) camp of using social media to champion change, whereas many of these co-contributors are marketing pros that have dedicated their entire careers to brand-building in the digital sphere. Nevertheless I’m getting the hang of it fairly fast, and thankful to have a community of digerati bigwigs to tap for pragmatics.

Now, with AOC3, you can too.

When the very first edition of Age of Conversation emerged three years ago, social media was just a “concept” not a pragmatic part of the media plan…

In Age of Conversation 2 we incredulously wondered ‘why don’t they get it’ and subtitled it same, trying to explain the power of the medium in fresh new ways with 237 authors weighing in (ok, maybe too many?)

…And now, the shift from theory into practice is what makes Age of Conversation 3 THE ‘must have’ guide for turning ‘what ifs’ into ‘how tos.’

These days with social media cross-pollination, educators become learners, kids can become teachers, and mentors take shape in both directions adding insights, relevance, and value to the conversations…There’s no longer that assumptive reasoning that sage=age to glean Yoda-like tidbits of wisdom.

In fact, one of my favorite Slideshare presos of Jedi Wisdom (see below) comes from Rodd Lucier’s site, “The Clever Sheep…leading in new directions.” I love the whole “What Would Yoda Do?” theme about digital influence on curriculum and pedagogy in schools.

Rather than becoming culture sheep guided by pop icons who hijack the conversation with who makes the most noise, gets the most attention, or comes up with the most outrageous shock schlock, it’s high time we ditch the ‘sheeple’ side of social media and become dyed in the wool leaders, a conversation tapping into our very core, especially among those of us working with youth.

Now more than ever, youth have the tools to lead conversations on a social landscape  far more equally, especially when reins are turned over to lead with participation opportunities, open source vision, and collaboration…

In the three short years since the two editors, Gavin Heaton and Drew McClellan began painstakingly donating countless hours and resources towards helping the rest of us ‘pay it forward’ to our own communities, the entire social media landscape has exploded with a wide array of woollies flocking into social media ‘just because’ …

There are ‘clever sheep’ in wolves’ clothing, snappy border collies guiding the masses in unison, and a wide array of ranch-style analogies, come to think of it, when applied to finding new herds, wandering off solo and rounding up elsewhere…all the more reason ‘savvy’ critters engage in conversations of trust, building a shared community.

Needless to say, trust agents and credibility have become the new ‘social currency’ for conversations, and Gavin and Drew have led the way in creating a level of brand trust unsurpassed in this author community. AOC3 is rich with trust, talent and expertise.

The Age of Conversation community is bonded deeply by Drew and Gavin’s credibility among those of us who TRUST them implicitly (especially those of us who have been authors for all three books, myself included!)

Every single penny of profit generated by Age of Conversation 3 goes to charity on behalf of children…

We all trust we’re in this for the right reasons…

…Trust each other to guide us through the learning process of what can make or break a social media effort with impact…

…And TRUST our editors who have repeatedly reconvened this collaborative process to represent a shift over ‘personal branding’ toward more of our  ‘CoLAB’ for the future evolution of collective intelligence. (as those of us who are diehard fans of Doug Engelbart fully embrace) The first two editions made a total of about $25,000 for Variety, The Children’s Charity, and so we’re once again poised to leverage social enterprise for social good, as we sort out who the recipient will be this round.

‘Buy it Now’ as the banner says…

Buy it. Then use the book to build it.

Whatever ‘it’ may mean to you…

If the conversation is worth having,  “if you build it, they will come.” Here’s to conversations that matter…online and off. Proud to be a part of it.

Age of Conversation 3 (202 pages; hardcover; paperback; Kindle; ePub) was published by new digital publishing company Channel V Books (, and is now available through all major online retailers, as a Kindle e-book, and will soon be available as an ePub for other digital readers.

Our illustrious leaders: The Age of Conversation 3 & More AOC3 Resources


About Drew McClellan: Drew’s Marketing Minute (“tells stories, asks questions, milks sacred cows”…)

About Gavin Heaton: Servant of Chaos (“born on a boat in the Indian ocean…”)

How It All Began: Drew, Gavin, and a Vision

AOC3: 171 Authors Take the Online Marketing Conversation to Print

AOC3: Meet Our Publisher: Channel V Books

Age of Conversation 1, 2, & 3 Featured on Shaping Youth

Age of Conversation: eBook for Variety the Children’s Charity (4-07)

Launch of AOC: A Youth Social Media Primer (7-07)

The Age of Conversation Goes Ka-Ching! Using Social Media for Change (9-07)

Using the Age of Conversation For Social Good (3-08)

AOC2: A Tribe of 237 Leading Change (10-08)

The Age of Conversation 3 Authors

Adam Joseph Priyanka Sachar Mark Earls
Cory Coley-Christakos Stefan Erschwendner Paul Hebert
Jeff De Cagna Thomas Clifford Phil Gerbyshak
Jon Burg Toby Bloomberg Shambhu Neil Vineberg
Joseph Jaffe Uwe Hook Steve Roesler
Michael E. Rubin anibal casso Steve Woodruff
Steve Sponder Becky Carroll Tim Tyler
Chris Wilson Beth Harte Tinu Abayomi-Paul
Dan Schawbel Carol Bodensteiner Trey Pennington
David Weinfeld Dan Sitter Vanessa DiMauro
Ed Brenegar David Zinger Brett T. T. Macfarlane
Efrain Mendicuti Deb Brown Brian Reich
Gaurav Mishra Dennis Deery C.B. Whittemore
Gordon Whitehead Heather Rast Cam Beck
Hajj E. Flemings Joan Endicott Cathryn Hrudicka
Jeroen Verkroost Karen D. Swim Christopher Morris
Joe Pulizzi Leah Otto Corentin Monot
Karalee Evans Leigh Durst David Berkowitz
Kevin Jessop Lesley Lambert Duane Brown
Peter Korchnak Mark Price Dustin Jacobsen
Piet Wulleman Mike Maddaloni Ernie Mosteller
Scott Townsend Nick Burcher Frank Stiefler
Steve Olenski Rich Nadworny John Rosen
Tim Jackson Suzanne Hull Len Kendall
Amber Naslund Wayne Buckhanan Mark McGuinness
Caroline Melberg Andy Drish Oleksandr Skorokhod
Claire Grinton Angela Maiers Paul Williams
Gary Cohen Armando Alves Sam Ismail
Gautam Ramdurai B.J. Smith Tamera Kremer
Eaon Pritchard Brendan Tripp Adelino de Almeida
Jacob Morgan Casey Hibbard Andy Hunter
Julian Cole Debra Helwig Anjali Ramachandran
Jye Smith Drew McLellan Craig Wilson
Karin Hermans Emily Reed David Petherick
Katie Harris Gavin Heaton Dennis Price
Mark Levy George Jenkins Doug Mitchell
Mark W. Schaefer Helge Tenno Douglas Hanna
Marshall Sponder James Stevens Ian Lurie
Ryan Hanser Jenny Meade Jeff Larche
Sacha Tueni and Katherine Maher David Svet Jessica Hagy
Simon Payn Joanne Austin-Olsen Mark Avnet
Stanley Johnson Marilyn Pratt Mark Hancock
Steve Kellogg Michelle Beckham-Corbin Michelle Chmielewski
Amy Mengel Veronique Rabuteau Peter Komendowski
Andrea Vascellari Timothy L Johnson Phil Osborne
Beth Wampler Amy Jussel Rick Liebling
Eric Brody Arun Rajagopal Dr Letitia Wright
Hugh de Winton David Koopmans Aki Spicer
Jeff Wallace Don Frederiksen Charles Sipe
Katie McIntyre James G Lindberg & Sandra Renshaw David Reich
Lynae Johnson Jasmin Tragas Deborah Chaddock Brown
Mike O’Toole Jeanne Dininni Iqbal Mohammed
Morriss M. Partee Katie Chatfield Jeff Cutler
Pete Jones Riku Vassinen Jeff Garrison
Kevin Dugan Tiphereth Gloria Mike Sansone
Lori Magno Valerie Simon Nettie Hartsock
Mark Goren Peter Salvitti
Watch for more updates on the Age of Conversation 3, as we learn from the pros in ‘applied science’ and uncork new conversations among authors one by one…Ancora imparo indeed. I have a long way to go!



  1. bill daul says:

    The list of authors I am disappointed…couldn’t someone have put them in alphabetical order!!!!

  2. I agree, Bill, it’s hard to read, but with this social media tribe, it’s only a matter of time before someone puts the list in a.) alphabetic b.) chapter category c.) expertise or some fascimile thereof! 🙂 I consider this to be ‘my first post’ about AOC3 but certainly not my last…

    Much more learning to come from these folks and perhaps I can even see if they can give us ideas on using social media to unite multiple entities for the 10-22-2010 kids’ summit to reverse sexualization at Hunter College in NYC this coming fall! (see link below) Fingers crossed! They’re the troops to do it for sure! 🙂
    .-= Amy Jussel´s last blog ..Sexualization Summit: Save the Date Oct 22, 2010 NYC =-.

  3. Great post, Amy! Thanks for all the kind words and effort.

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