1. A Call to Rainbows

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    A common man’s alternative to Stephen Fry’s open letter.

    On August 7th, Stephen Fry wrote an eloquent open letter to the International Olympic Committee and British Prime Minister David Cameron, calling on them to ban Russia from hosting the 2014 Olympic Games in response to their “barbaric and fascist” (to use his words, mind you words that I wholly agree with) laws regarding homosexuality.

    I support Mr. Fry’s call to action. I believe the IOC should step in and threaten removal of the Olympic Games if Russia does not change the stupid and prejudicial “gay propaganda” law. I believe they should act on their threat when Russia inevitably does not comply with that request. This would be an amazing step forward from an organization that seems to do their best to dodge and weave around the political issues of host countries (human rights in China anyone?).

    But I have no faith. I don’t think the calls of Fry and others across the globe will be answered. I don’t expect the 2014 Olympic Games will take place anywhere other than Sochi, Russia. And I, excuse my pessimism, believe the dialogue about this atrocious law will die down as people become distracted by the bright lights and dancing of another opening ceremony and the triumphs of many deserving athletes.

    So, what do we do?

    I believe we should look to the past for inspiration (much like Russian lawmakers). I’m referring specifically to the 1968 Olympic Games held in Mexico City. At these games, a very public act of protest drew international eyes and minds away from sport, if only for a little while.

    After winning gold and bronze respectively in the 200-metre race, American athletes Tommie Smith and John Carlos raised black-gloved fists during the entire American national anthem after receiving their medals, a symbol borrowed from the “Black Power” movement to call attention to black poverty and other struggles faced by African Americans. Australian silver medalist Peter Norman supported this act of protest and wore a human rights badge on his jacket along with his American counterparts.

    Smith and Carlos competed in the games. They trained and toiled and it paid off. Then they used that stage to make a statement.

    I thought about how a similar approach could be applied to the Russian Olympics, and this is what came to mind: I would like to see every country that does not support the propaganda law include a rainbow somewhere in their team uniforms.

    I want the rainbow that has come to symbolize the homosexual community to become a symbol of the Sochi olympics, one burned into the brains of viewers more than any logo or mascot.

    I want spectators to pass rainbow flags to their athletes in lieu of national flags during medal ceremonies. I want these athletes to speak openly in interviews about their thoughts on the law. I want the rainbow to embody Olympic victory in 2014.

    I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t know if this is logistically possible. I know that the IOC strictly regulates team uniforms, including colors. I understand that many teams had their uniforms planned and completed for years now.

    I also understand that athletes may want to focus on the sport and competition they’ve trained their entire lives for, and not worry about being exposed to fines or worse. This is more than okay, and this idea should not be enforced on anyone.

    But I imagine a beautiful scene of Russian law enforcement officials trying to arrest half of the athletes present during the opening ceremony parade because of the rainbows they are sporting. I imagine lawyers stepping in and defending their right to wear the colours that adorn the olympic rings. I imagine Russia’s handling of this situation being criticized world over. And I imagine the lasting image of a nation whose antiquated and prejudicial laws ruined their Olympic games motivating other nations with equally antiquated and prejudicial laws to rethink their hosting bids.

    I may not have written this with the eloquence of Stephen Fry. I may have missed key information about Olympic regulations and Russian law. But I know that if an athlete stands atop a podium in Sochi and waves a rainbow flag, that image will be worth more than any medal to a lot of people world over.

    Image by strangedejim on Flickr.

    Posted originally on Medium here: https://medium.com/better-humans/6fa83d1dfb05

     

  2. newyorker:

              A summer cover by Ian Falconer from our archive

    New Yorker covers are my favorite covers.

     

  3. Google Plus for Business – How to Create a Google Plus Page

    Create a Google Plus Page

    Originally posted on blog.hootsuite.com/create-a-google-plus-page

    When you create a Google Plus page, you create new business opportunities across all of Google’s products. From bringing you closer to the top in Google searches, to having a Google map with directions to your store appear when someone types in your brand name, these are not benefits you’ll want to miss out on.

    The good news is that it’s fairly simple to create a Google Plus page. Here’s how you do it:

    Create a Google Plus Page in 4 Steps

    To create a Google Plus page, you must first have a personal profile (create yours here). From your profile you can click “Pages” in the left-hand menu, and you’re on your way.

    The second step involves choosing a category that defines your business. If you’re a location-based business, like a restaurant or clothing shop, you’ll likely select “local business or store.” Entering your phone number will allow Google to find your business, confirm the information you enter is correct, and find your location on Google maps. Enter your external website, select who your content is appropriate for, review Google Plus terms and select continue. You now have a Google Plus page.

    The third step to create a Google Plus page involves filling out your page to make it informative for followers (and potential customers). This includes describing your business, entering contact information like an email address and phone number, as well as choosing a branded profile photo (often a company’s logo).

    Finally, companies should put in the extra effort to make their Google Plus page visually appealing. Add appropriate branding, from a captivating cover photo to interesting photos and videos that show what you’re all about. If you’re a boutique you can post some fun behind-the-scenes footage from your spring photo shoot. If you’re a bakery, photos of scrumptious daily specials can draw in new customers. Also, include external links to your other web properties (website, Pinterest page, Tumblr, etc.) to help your Google search placement.

    To summarize:

    How to Create a Google Plus Page

    To watch the full lesson on Google Plus, and to increase your skill set through ongoing social media education, sign up for HootSuite University today.

     

  4. Video on Instagram: Facebook announces competitor to Vine

    Facebook has created its own competitor to Twitter’s Vine. Video on Instagram is a new functionality on Instagram that allows users to record clips, apply filters, and share them with friends as they currently do with photos.

    Where Vine videos are limited to 6 seconds, Instagram videos will max out at 15 seconds. Unlike Vine, videos on Instagram will not loop.

    “We need to do to video what we did to photos,” co-founder Kevin Systrom said during the announcement. Part of that is applying filters to beautify the videos you take. Thirteen filters created specifically for video, all different from the photo filters, are included with Video on Instagram. You will also be able to edit specific clips of your video while you are in the middle of filming, giving videographers more opportunities to get things ‘just right.’

    Another functionality built with video beautification in mind is Cinema. Cinema is a functionality that allows you to stabilize shaky videos for better quality clips. As Systrom said, “this changes everything.” It gives individual users and companies the ability to film stabilized, potentially professional quality visuals without having to invest in fancy equipment. It can be spontaneous, on-the-spot, and still well-composed.

    View the full post on the HootSuite blog here: http://blog.hootsuite.com/video-on-instagram/

     

  5. Are you following any brands on Vine?

    Six seconds may seem like a short time. But a six-second Vine video can add a lot of punch to a brand’s social engagement. Twitter’s Vine, a short video-sharing service launched in January of 2013, quickly gained steam with social media users (so much so, that Instagram may soon be adding video). Slowly but surely, the same can be said for major brands.

    While the six-second clips don’t offer much in terms of production value, the videos are a quick, easy and cheap way to add some life to blog posts or websites, and to show that your organization is on top of trends and active in the social space. Here are five brands on Vine that are capturing people’s attention by taking advantage of one of the hottest new social tools: