Internet Trends

Information today is real-time, fast and broad as evidenced by information flowing after the Japan tsunami. For more on global trends, visit

I read some interesting numbers about the internet earlier this week.

They were from Mary Meeker, a partner at the venture-capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers.

She presented on industry trends at the Web 2.0 Summit, a conference of the tech industry’s leading thinkers.

Here’s what she shared:
  1. In three years, China added more Internet users than exist in the United States. The biggest adders were China, India, Nigeria, Russia and Iran.
  2. Social networkers exceed internet users, and 70 percent of them use Facebook.
  3. Smartphone usage still has a huge upside. There are 835 million smartphone subscribers and 5.6 billion mobile phone subscribers.
  4. iPods changed the media industry. iPhones became bigger and more popular even faster than iPods. iPad growth leaves its “siblings” in the dust.
  5. Mobile search is growing rapidly.
  6. “Sound is going to be bigger than video,” says Alexander Ljung, founder and CEO of SoundCloud.
  7. Content is about global information flow. It’svreal-time, fast and broad.

How will these trends impact how you do business?

Life Lessons Learned from Travel

For the past several months, I’ve been racking up the air miles with trips to Iowa, Chicago, Colorado and Indonesia to name just a few places. With plenty of time for thinking while flying to the destinations, I realized that travel provides us with several life lessons, including:

  • Planning
  • Adaptability
  • Communications
  • Experiences

Travel provides lessons that can be applied to work and daily life. (Photo by Cynthia Price)

Planning is the simplest one. You need to know where you are going and how you are going to get there. You book your flight, hotel and ground transportation. But you also have to plan what to pack based on the weather. If you’re flying overseas, you need to research and find out if you need a visa and what is required when you go through customs. Traveling teaches us that it’s important to have a plan to succesfully arrive at your destination.

Adaptability is the norm of travel today. If your flight is cancelled or delayed, you have to adapt. When it comes to meals, you have to adapt to the food that is available. I spent a week in the Midwest, which is known for its excellent beef, but I don’t eat red meat. Baked potatoes were my go-to food. Overseas, I adjusted to different toilet styles (enough said!). The lesson is clear: If you aren’t adaptable, you aren’t going to have a successful trip.

Communications involves more than speaking with airline attendants. It’s about understanding regional dialects and accents. On a recent trip it was fun listening to a mix of Southern and Midwestern accents. It’s knowing that “pop” is the same as “soda.” Overseas I had to really listen to colleagues because English was not a first language. Despite that, we all understood each other because we took the time to really listen. If you don’t try to communication, your destination will remain unreachable.

Experiences are the best part of travel and why most people travel for leisure. It’s about the ability to get away from the every day. Travel provides opportunities to learn and explore. How open are you to the new experiences? Do you try the new foods?
If you are overseas, do you learn some of the customs? Travel enables us to try experiences outside of our comfort zone.

What lessons have you learned from travel?

Photography Tips from a Pro

Freelance photographer Asra says photography is about painting with light.

Photographer shares tips

Asra, who has shot for many music magazines, shares photography tips with writers. (Photo by Cynthia Price)

Asra, whose full name is Muhammad Asranur, has shot for Rolling Stones Indonesia, Spin (USA), 7×7 Magazine, the Guardian and Your Music Magazine, and recently shared photography tips with a group of writers.

He urged the writers not to use the auto setting on their cameras, but rather to become comfortable with the program setting. “It’s like only using first or second gear of a Ferrari,” he told the group. By using the program setting, you have “creative control.”

Some tips he shared:

  1. The shorter the time the shutter is open, the sharper the photo will be.
  2. The closer you are to your subject, the more blurred your background will be.
  3. Use as low an ISO setting as possible because the higher the ISO, the more the quality of the photograph is degraded.
  4. Hold your hand under the lens to support it and keep it steady. Hold your breath when you shoot and, if possible, lean against a wall.
  5. Get as close to your subject as you can because it will give you more drama.

He also recommended investing in the camera lens more than the camera body because the lens is what makes the photograph. “And it makes your camera look better!” he said. He recommended purchasing a wide-angle lens over a telephoto lens “to get the various elements of your photo, including the foreground and background, to be sharp and in focus.”

He also recommended always carrying spare batteries or battery packs. When not using the camera for a while, Asra said to remove the batteries so as to not drain them.

Photography, Asra said, “is not just about grabbing your camera and firing away.”

Literary Awards Are a Night to Remember

One day my book will be finished and it will be archived at the Library of Virginia. Until that day, I live vicariously through my author friends (author, as in published book; not writer, as in still working on one).

Literary Awards 2011

Adriana Trigiani, Earl Hamner and Richard Thomas celebrate Hamner's Literary LIfetime Achievement Award. (photo by Cynthia Price)

The best way for me to do that is at the annual Library of Virginia Literary Awards. As in years past, Adriana Trigiani hosted the evening. Herself a gifted and prolific writer, she always provides plenty of laughter and nuggets throughout the evening. This year was no exception. She related a story about writers.

“You’re a very dangerous person,” she said of writers. “Nothing is sacred.”

She talked about eavesdropping on some women on her flight to Richmond. All of us writers, scribbled the story down thinking, “This could work in my book.”

What did they say? They were talking about attending a wedding, and one of the women, in her best Southern drawl said, “First we’re going to socialize, then we’re going to scrutinize.”

Seriously, I couldn’t write it better than that.

While I try to be professional – after all, it is a black tie evening – I couldn’t help but introduce myself to Jan Karon, whose books I devoured during a few weeks after discovering them. Her Mitford Series, Adriana said, changed lives. And as Jan told me, “I try to give you a bit of peace from today’s crazy world.”

I can’t wait to read In the Company of Others, which won the People Choice Award for Fiction this year. She said of her win,” I am shaken, thrilled and delighted.” And she shared what almost everyone in the audience thinks about libraries, “It makes my heart beat faster to be in a library.”

And the evening is about being seen. Even Adriana admits to falling prey to it, describing David Baldacci, who presented the Emyl Jenkins Sexton Fiction Award, as “eye candy.” In talking with him about it later, he just laughed and rolled his eyes. I’ve always enjoyed his books, but as an aspiring author, I appreciate the time he has always given to writers.

The award he presented is always bittersweet as I remember my dear friend Emyl Jenkins. She continues to sprinkle fairy dust on me from afar, and for that I always will be grateful.

The highlight this year for me was watching my friend Julie Campbell win the People’s Choice Award for Nonfiction for her book The Horse in Virginia.

For many in the audience, the highlight was watching Earl Hamner receive the Literary Lifetime Achievement Award, which was presented by John-Boy Walton himself, Richard Thomas. As Hamner spoke, I was taken back to my childhood days, watching The Waltons with my family. At the beginning and ending of each episode, we heard Hamner speak and wrap up the episode, usually with a philosophical thought.

Thomas described each episode as “an American short story” and said of Hamner, “He wrote these wonderful words for us to say.”

Hamner told the audience, “Virginia has given me fine gifts,” including “the wellspring of everything I have written.”

Until next year’s Library of Virginia event, good night John-Boy.

Campbell Wins People’s Choice Award

Julie Campbell

Julie Campbell proudly displays her People's Choice Award. (Photo by Cynthia Price)

Many years ago, Julie Campbell attended her first literary awards at the Library of Virginia. Never did she dream she would be up on stage accepting an award for a book that she had written, but that’s exactly what happened during the 14th annual Literary Awards yesterday.

Julie won the People’s Choice Award for Nonfiction for her book, The Horse in Virginia: An Illustrated History. It explores the history of horses in Virginia during four centuries, including how the horse fit into society at any given time.  The University of Virginia Press developed the concept and hired Julie to write it and find the illustrations.

In her acceptance, Julie thanked many people, including those from Virginia Press Women, who had encouraged her through her years of writing the book and were there to celebrate her win. And she said, “Thank you for the stars that aligned tonight.”

The evening was all the more special because she had always been an admirer of Earl Hamner, who was the force behind the semiautobiographical television series The Waltons. During the Literary Awards Hamner was honored with the literary lifetime achievement.

Congratulations Julie!