Daniel Sieberg is a former co-founder at a blockchain-based journalism platform where he led eco-system growth and business development. Sieberg previously helped build the News Lab at Google and was a senior marketing executive there for six years; he also served often as official Google spokesperson. Prior to joining Google in 2011, Sieberg was an award-winning technology correspondent and anchor/analyst for CNN, CBS News, ABC News, BBC News and MSNBC dating back to 2000. He also worked as a business and civics reporter for the Vancouver Sun and wrote his first book, The Digital Diet, about a healthy approach to consuming technology.

Daniel Sieberg has been a featured speaker at events all over the world including the London School of Economic...

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Tech Life 2025

What are the developments today that will impact our lives in the near future? Daniel Sieberg, former Google spokesperson and marketing exec and now cofounder at Civil, examines the trends around everything from blockchain and crypto currency to AI to virtual reality and puts it all into context for both a techie crowd as well as the layperson. Sieberg will also explore how the pace of change has increased so dramatically (and why) and what this means for short-term forecasting and projections in any business.

Telling A Better Story

 At the core of any successful business is a story of why; why does any business exist and what are they trying to solve? And beyond that narrative, how is that story best articulated and conveyed with customers and a broader audience? The art of telling a better story through people, crafting the right words of engagement and learning from other successes (and failures) is just part of what Daniel Sieberg will cover. He’s a former Google marketing executive and now cofounder of Civil, which is a decentralized platform built on blockchain technology aimed at supporting quality and sustainable journalism. 

Understanding Blockchain and Cryptocurrency - How it can Benefit Anyone: Blockchain/Crypto/Bitcoin

Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin, crypto currency, blockchain - these terms are increasingly becoming a part of our global conversation about how we improve communications, security and business models across a wide range of verticals. It’s important for any leader or business owner or just a curious third-party to begin to understand the implications and get ahead of this seemingly unstoppable new technology. Daniel Sieberg, former Google spokesperson and marketing executive and now cofounder of Civil (journalism supported by blockchain), is ready to break it all down in ways people can understand and act upon.

Living Life in a Tech Start Up

One about being a part of a startup/why I left Google - change is often scary, risky and hard and especially when it means pivoting from one career to another or making bold choices as a leader. Human nature can force us to try to cling to what we know in service of retaining order and calm in our otherwise turbulent lives. But sometimes taking that leap can expose us to new strengths within us and actually enhance our well-being and sense of identity (maybe even make us happier). Daniel Sieberg takes us through his personal journey from technology reporter at national news outlets to Google executive to co-founding a cutting-edge startup in the blockchain and crypto currency space. The tips he provides can benefit anyone faced with difficult choices at all levels of their life and the enterprise.

Other topics:

The robots are coming - don't be afraid!

These days robotics is increasingly a part of our lives from assisted-living robots in Japan to automation in construction and manufacturing to new ways to think of animatronic creations as companions. Some of this technology is driven by advancements in artificial intelligence and more realistic design. And largely the goals are to aid in human production, development and efficiency. But should robots look like humans - or not? Will we one day call robots our friends? And do initial forays into robot communication - like "bots" in social media programs - provide a glimpse of how we might one day interact with virtual beings? Daniel Sieberg, longtime tech expert and Googler explains the short-term future of these technologies and how we shouldn't fear the rise of the robots.

Next-gen Healthcare Trends

Subject area: healthcare future, medical

From pedometers to smartphone apps to glucose-sensing contact lenses, what’s next for people to personally monitor their own well-being? How can we give people access to their own medical data and make informed decisions? When is knowing too much not helpful? Daniel Sieberg, who spent 20 years reporting on technology for the likes of CNN, ABC, CBS and the BBC and authored The Digital Diet before joining Google four years ago, looks at the technologies available on the market today, how consumers are embracing them and looks ahead to what might be possible. This is a chance to dive into the self-monitoring aspect of healthcare for a thought-provoking presentation on a topic that offers a potentially dramatic shift in medicine.

How is Your Brand Really Being Perceived?

Subject area: brand marketing, small business

How do you connect with consumers in a way that's authentic amidst a flood of information online? What can any company do to highlight the "why" of their business? Daniel Sieberg, former technology reporter for CBS, CNN and ABC and current exec at Google, examines what it means to really engage with people around a product or idea and how to win hearts/minds in a meaningful way. It's about more than just a plan, it's about turning customers into fans through the right amount of transparency and access to the very DNA of your company. This talk will feature an actionable plan to get started with new implementations in any business.

Today’s “Smart” Traveler

Subject area: tourism, travel

Tourists today have more options than ever to explore unseen and niche places within any location. From mobile maps to restaurant recommendations to virtual tours. Plus we've all got a camera in our pocket at all times. But what's the best way to tap into these technologies without losing a real-world experience? Daniel Sieberg, former technology reporter for CBS, CNN and ABC, author of The Digital Diet and current exec at Google, has been to 50+ countries and 600 cities and offers his take on the right way to be a digital explorer without missing everything around you.

News 3.0

Subject area: digital news revolution, media

The ways in which we consume (and produce) news has evolved rapidly in recent years from mobile to social to UGC. It presents both challenges and opportunities for traditional media, and there are more changes coming including VR, expanded data journalism and increasing eyewitness videos. In addition, media startups are seeks to disrupt the establishment with a slew of new ways for people to get the information they care about. What does it mean to our pursuit of quality information? Daniel Sieberg, former technology reporter for CBS, CNN and ABC, author of The Digital Diet and global head of media outreach with the Google News Lab, outlines the pace of progress within the news space and looks ahead to where it's going.

Do You Need a Digital Diet?

Subject area: consumer behavior, psychology, health and well being

On average, we check our smartphones more than 125 times per day. Per DAY. And what are we doing with that time? Playing Candy Crush? Checking for emails that aren't there? Sharing selfies? How is the world adapting to such a heavy influx of data and personal technology and what's it doing to our relationships, our work/life balance and our sense of self? This is relevant for a wide range of audiences from families to businesses to individuals all trying to adapt to our connected age. There’s a lot at stake from productivity to our identity to the next ways we’ll be communicating with each other. Daniel Sieberg, former technology reporter for CBS, CNN and ABC, author of The Digital Diet and current exec at Google, offers ways to better understand the dilemma of today's connected consumers and a plan for coping with it all.

Why Follow the Leader?

Subject area: leadership, business

Why do the best leaders succeed? What is it about them? And is it possible to emulate their behavior? There's a potential leader in all of us, but it often requires a deep examination of everything from our core values to our ability to relate to others to our ability to emotionally invest in our people. The impact can be felt from the boardroom to the mailroom and even the living room of your clients/customers. There’s no silver bullet, but Daniel Sieberg, author of The Digital Diet and current exec at Google, outlines a leadership path for anyone looking to better their skills and lead with heart. Sieberg has interviewed some of the biggest leaders in technology while he was a tech reporter for CBS, CNN and ABC, completed elite-level training courses and leads a growing international team within Google. It’s also about lessons learned from 25 years within the media-tech industry, the psychology of how people respond to direction/guidance and even what coaching youth soccer can tell us about leading the next successful team.

Books

  • The Digital Diet
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News

  • Goodbye, Denver Post. Hello, Blockchain.
    Goodbye, Denver Post. Hello, Blockchain.
    Jun 19, 2018
    Goodbye, Denver Post. Hello, Blockchain....
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    Goodbye, Denver Post. Hello, Blockchain.
    Jun 19, 2018
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    They left The Denver Post amid newsroom layoffs and interference in the editorial process by the newspaper’s hedge-fund owners. And now those reporters and editors are creating their own news outlet, The Colorado Sun.

    They will be partnering with the Civil Media Company, an ambitious New York start-up that aims to use blockchain technology and crypto economics to start 1,000 publications nationwide by the end of the year.

    “It is absolutely exciting,” said Larry Ryckman, a former senior editor at the beleaguered Denver daily, who will serve as the editor of The Colorado Sun. “We have been so eager to get moving.”

    The editor has assembled a team of former Post employees, including five reporters — Kevin Simpson, John Ingold, Tamara Chuang, Jennifer Brown and Jason Blevins — and two senior editors, Eric Lubbers and Dana Coffield.

    Mr. Ryckman and Ms. Coffield resigned in May from The Post, which has suffered low morale under the ownership of a New York hedge fund, Alden Global Capital. The company took control of the newspaper in 2013, after acquiring its bankrupt parent company, MediaNews Group, and runs it through a subsidiary, Digital First Media.

    “None of us wanted to continue dismantling the Denver Post newsroom,” Mr. Ryckman said.

    Tensions between the Post’s newsroom employees and Alden peaked in April when the paper published a special Sunday opinion section comprising articles that were critical of ownership. The lead editorial in the section was blunt: “Denver deserves a newspaper owner who supports its newsroom. If Alden isn’t willing to do good journalism here, it should sell The Post to owners who will.

    Chuck Plunkett, the editor who oversaw the section and resigned from the paper soon afterward, has agreed to contribute to The Colorado Sun.

    The new publication will have a conventional website whose data will be written permanently into the secure digital ledger known as the blockchain. Expenses for the fledgling outlet will be covered by a grant from Civil, whose sole investor, for now, is ConsenSys, a Brooklyn-based blockchain software technology company founded by the Canadian entrepreneur Joseph Lubin. Mr. Lubin is also a co-founder of the Ethereum, a virtual currency and blockchain database platform. As part of its plan to fund new media entities, Civil plans to unveil a new token this summer called CVL.

    People who purchase the CVL token, a form of cryptocurrency, will have a say concerning the projects hosted by Civil — meaning that they can vote on whether one of its websites violates the company’s journalism standards, which are outlined in the Civil Constitution.

    Matthew Iles, the chief executive of Civil, said that by selling ownership stakes to the public, the company seeks to eliminate the possibility of one company or a small group of investors exerting power and influence over a journalistic organization and compromising its mission — exactly what many employees of the Denver Post accused Alden of doing.

    “We hope that Civil is going to become this publicly owned domain for journalism that anyone who’s interested in the promise of sustainable, independent journalism around the world should be in possession of, to maintain and support it,” Mr. Iles said.

    The Civil chief executive had his first discussions with Mr. Ryckman in April, a time when Alden had ordered more layoffs at the Post.

    “It felt good to talk to somebody who was trying to do what felt like the right way to support local journalism in a new funding model,” Mr. Ryckman said.

    Matt Coolidge, a co-founder and the head of communications for Civil, said the company would not disclose how much of the $1 million it had raised for journalism projects was going to The Sun, but added, “Suffice it to say, we are committed to giving them the support they need to get to sustainability.”

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    Mr. Ryckman said he was looking forward to having some resources to work with as he builds a publication on explanatory journalism, feature stories, and investigative articles. “We are not trying to create a mini Denver Post,” he said. “We will break news but we ’re not doing breaking news.”

    Once the grant money runs out, it will be up to The Colorado Sun to sustain itself. But Mr. Iles is confident that the project will succeed.

    “When we learned about Larry and what he and his team had in mind for The Colorado Sun, it became obvious that this is a project we needed to support and we needed to partner with, because we believe, ultimately, that terrific journalism is the secret here and not blockchain,” Mr. Iles said.

    Josh Benson, a co-founder of Old Town Media, which has been advising Civil and will work with The Colorado Sun to build a sustainable newsroom, said of the Sun project: “What they want to do is make something that is independent, incredibly useful, long-term sustainable, possibly a model for other things, ruthlessly correct — all the things you want a first-tier news organization to be.” said

    By the end of June, Civil will have started 13 newsrooms throughout the country.

    “My hope,” Mr. Iles said, “is that people will see The Colorado Sun as the tip of the iceberg.” He added, “I’d like to think that, if your local news organization is struggling, or if you believe that independent journalism is important, but you don’t yet really know what to do about, I’d like you to see how Civil can be home for ideas.

    “I want newsrooms around the world,” he said, “to see The Colorado Sun as a leader in that regard.”

  • Hooked on Hardware? Tech Giants Face Tough Questions Over Device Addiction
    Hooked on Hardware? Tech Giants Face Tough Questions Over Device Addiction
    Mar 13, 2018
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    Hooked on Hardware? Tech Giants Face Tough Questions Over Device Addiction
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    When their parents drive them up to Paradigm Malibu’s bougainvillea-festooned treatment facility on Via Escondido Drive on the Pacific Coast, the kids sometimes refuse to get out of the car.

    Nearly all of them become anxious and upset when they’re asked to surrender the thing that led them there: their smartphones. A few have even threatened to kill themselves at the prospect of having their internet cut off.

    Paradigm Malibu, established in 2012, started out catering to clientele with classic drug and alcohol addictions. Now it has developed a program specifically for adolescents with device-use disorders. It’s not alone: Several rehabs have sprouted up across the U.S. to treat those whose lives have become unmanageable because of technology.

    “Smartphone addiction” may seem like a cliché — an eye-roll-inducing first-world problem — but it can have devastating effects. Extreme use of digital devices and the internet can lead to behavioral disorders that are as debilitating or life-threatening as alcohol or drug abuse. And aside from those most severe cases, addictive technologies may be breeding an entire generation prone to depression and loneliness.

    Recent studies indicate problematic internet and device use affects roughly 5%-8% of U.S. teenagers, according to Dr. David Hill, who chairs the American Academy of Pediatrics’ Council on Communications and Media. “If you look at the role that screen media is playing in our society — contributing perhaps to fearfulness and isolation — there are ways to say perhaps it’s a bigger crisis than opioids,” he says.

    Now the problem has come to the boardrooms of technology giants. And it could alter the way companies like Apple, Facebook and Google design smartphones, apps and media, with some critics raising the specter of government regulation if the industry doesn’t get its house in order.

    In January two large Apple shareholders, Jana Partners and the California State Teachers’ Retirement System, sent a letter to the company’s board urging Apple to develop solutions for the “unintentional negative consequences” of iPhone usage among kids. Meanwhile, one of Facebook’s investors has pressed it to create a committee to study the potential financial exposure to the social giant for the platform’s mental health consequences.

    Apple CEO Tim Cook has acknowledged that he’s personally concerned about the dangers of overusing technology. “I don’t have a kid, but I have a nephew that I put some boundaries on,” he told a group of college students in the U.K. at an Apple coding event in January, per a Guardian report. “There are some things that I won’t allow. I don’t want them on a social network.”

    Concerns over tech addiction have spawned a movement among people who used to work in Silicon Valley to advocate for their former employers to change their ways. (A recent Wired article labeled the employees “turncoats.”) The most prominent of these activists is Tristan Harris, a former design ethicist at Google. He’s now the executive director of the Center for Humane Technology, which he co-founded with venture-capital investor Roger McNamee, an early Facebook backer. Their aim is to push the industry toward “technology that protects our minds and replenishes society.”

    From Harris’ standpoint, a profit-motivated corporation sees addicts hooked on its products or services as a boon to its bottom line. Technology companies whose business models hinge on maximizing attention “are not aligned with human well-being,” he says. “It’s not because they’re evil but because that’s their model. The key thing is, the addiction [to technology] is not happening by accident — it’s happening by design.” Harris believes the industry will respond to public pressure to create more ethical, less harmful products.

    But the tech reformers aren’t just about picking fights. The investors who called on Apple to examine the issues related to phone usage by kids say they want to work with the company to use scientific research to create safeguards, according to Dr. Michael Rich, director of Harvard University’s Center on Media and Child Health in Boston, who helped draft the letter. That could include more fine-grained controls to time-limit device and app usage. Rich compares his ideas to the advocacy that resulted in the auto industry equipping its vehicles with seat belts and airbags.

    Companies sometimes say they’re doing everything they can in order to shield themselves from liability, notes Rich. “What we’re hoping to do,” he says, “is bring key stakeholders and thought leaders to the table as equals and fix this as best we can.”

    Tech giants have taken steps to respond, although critics say they’re not moving fast enough.
    Apple, commenting on the investors’ letter, has said: “We think deeply about how our products are used and the impact they have on users and the people around them. We take this responsibility very seriously and we are committed to meeting and exceeding our customers’ expectations, especially when it comes to protecting kids.”

    Apple notes that it offers an array of controls to restrict apps and features, in-app purchases, and types of content. With iOS 11, released in autumn, the company added a Do Not Disturb While Driving feature that turns off notifications if the device senses the user is in a car. That only came, however, years after research demonstrated that distracted driving was a significant contributor to accidents.

    Samsung, another large smartphone maker, in January announced a partnership with Arianna Huffington’s Thrive Global wellness start-up to launch a kind of “Do not disturb” app for Galaxy Note devices that automatically replies to incoming messages for a set period to let senders know their owners are out of pocket.

    Facebook, for its part, has acknowledged research on the ill effects of social media and says it’s trying to do better. The company is changing algorithms to improve the quality — over quantity — of the time its 1.4 billion users spend on the service. That includes showing fewer viral videos on Facebook starting in the fourth quarter. Company CEO Mark Zuckerberg wrote in a Jan. 31 post: “By focusing on meaningful connections, our community and business will be stronger over the long term.”

    The medical world is still trying to get a handle on the long-range impact of smartphones and social media on childhood development and adult mental health. Studies have linked excessive tech usage to depression and anxiety. To be sure, it’s a stretch to call internet devices, say, the “new heroin.” Unlike addictive substances, there’s no chance of physical dependency.

    But many smartphone apps, especially those that are ad-supported, are engineered to hit the same pleasure centers of the brain that alcohol and opiates do. What some in the field refer to as “problematic internet use” can have real consequences. Broadly speaking, it can make an individual’s day-to-day life unmanageable, with symptoms that also include severe insomnia, impulsivity and worse.

    Technology addiction is “a progressive disease that could potentially lead to death. That’s the reality of it,” says Dr. Hilarie Cash, chief clinical officer of reStart, a Seattle-area rehabilitation center that specializes in such disorders. “Most of us don’t get that far. But most people don’t die of alcohol poisoning, either.”

    What sets off alarm bells for healthcare professionals is the nearly ubiquitous reach of smartphones. About 95% of U.S. adults now own a mobile phone of some kind, and effectively 100% of Americans ages 18-29 do, according to the latest data from Pew Research Center.

    Marc Benioff, CEO of Salesforce.com, is distrustful of both device makers and social media. “I think that for sure, technology has addictive qualities that we have to address, and that product designers are working to make those products more addictive, and we need to rein that back,” Benioff said in a recent CNBC interview in which he opined that governments should regulate social media like tobacco companies or junk-food producers.

    Even binge-watching has come under fire for its potential health risks. Last year, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine issued a warning about the need for adequate shut-eye — after Netflix CEO Reed Hastings told analysts the company’s No. 1 competitor was sleep. “When you watch a show from Netflix and you get addicted to it, you stay up late at night,” Hastings had said on an earnings call.

    The threat of legislation alone could jolt tech firms into action. “Companies are not going to self-regulate, and most people don’t recognize that it’s potentially a serious problem,” says mobile-industry analyst Jeff Kagan. “The question is whether the industry will come up with a solution.”
    Of course, new media and technologies frequently blossom amid fears that they’ll corrupt people’s minds. Edward R. Murrow, in a 1957 interview, warned that television entertainment was fast becoming “the real opiate of the people.”

    Some believe the hand-wringing over device addiction is just so much hysteria. “We’re not injecting Instagram or freebasing Facebook,” says Nir Eyal, author of “Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products.” “This is on a different scale from heroin or cigarettes. There’s nothing hacking through the brain barrier. It’s kind of loony what’s going on right now.”

    Eyal is the organizer of the Habit Summit conference in San Francisco, now in its fifth year.

    Among other things, attendees to the event (tickets start at $900) are promised tips on “the stages of habit formation and how to optimize for user retention.” The former software engineer — who insists he’s not an apologist for the industry — argues that the human-psychology techniques that Facebook and others use to make their products habit-forming can be employed in apps that are healthy and productive, like learning a new language or exercising.

    In a separate category, Eyal says, are predatory gambling and gaming apps, which he agrees should be curbed. He also thinks parents should be able to have more tools to monitor or restrict their kids’ smartphone usage. But in general, he says, device-usage problems are akin to binge-eating, not popping painkillers. “If you are a food addict, you need help. But it’s not about the food,” he says. “There’s something else that’s going on.”

    The problem, though, really can result in life-or-death situations. One teen patient treated by Harvard’s Rich was so severely addicted to social media and online gaming that he began skipping school and holing up in his bedroom, awake all night. When the boy’s parents, frantically looking for a solution, removed the family’s internet router, he grew despondent and tried to kill himself.

    “His virtual world became more real than the real world,” Rich says.

    Such cases are rare. But Rich is concerned that the pervasiveness of personal technology is breeding a range of behavioral problems, particularly in children. “You go by any playground at recess, and the kids are all staring at their smartphones,” he says. “Is that pathology or is it just the way the world is evolving?”

    To Dr. Jean Twenge, a professor of psychology at San Diego State University, it’s very clear that overuse of digital media is linked to mental health issues and unhappiness. Her research has found that U.S. teenagers who spend three hours a day or more using electronic devices are 35% more likely to have a risk factor for suicide than those who spend less than an hour with them — while those who spend five or more hours are 71% more likely to have a suicide risk factor.

    The hard part is determining cause and effect. Do depressed kids use social media and devices more? Or do smartphones lead to depression and anxiety? What we know for sure is that the largest change by far in teens’ lives over the past five years was that more of them owned smartphones and were spending more time on social media, says Twenge, author of “iGen: Why Today’s Super-Connected Kids Are Growing Up Less Rebellious, More Tolerant, Less Happy — and Completely Unprepared for Adulthood.”

    “It doesn’t matter whether you call it an ‘addiction’ or ‘overuse,’” she says. “I’m just interested in the consequences.”

    For actor Kirk Cameron, the best answer is more-assertive parenting. He’s produced documentary film “Connect,” which recently premiered with two limited theatrical screenings and will soon be released on home video. The movie looks at young people struggling with technology-overuse problems and strategies for dealing with them. His biggest takeaway from the project: Parents have to enforce ground rules for their children’s device usage.

    “We cannot outsource parenting to a piece of technology that blocks content,” says Cameron, an evangelical Christian who’s had to wrestle with overseeing the device usage of his six kids.

    For those truly in need of a tech detox, there are programs like those at Paradigm Malibu. The kids coming to Paradigm with problematic device-usage behaviors are spending upwards of nine hours per day on their phones, checking them hundreds of times daily, says Dr. Jeff Nalin, the company’s co-founder and chief clinical officer.

    “When somebody doesn’t want to give up their phone, they feel like their whole world is imploding,” he says. “These kids use devices as a coping mechanism because they’re feeling crappy about themselves. But you’re sticking a cork in a volcano. At some point it’s going to blow.”

    Paradigm Malibu is a high-end facility. The company charges $49,000 for a 30-day in-patient program (though it says health insurance on average covers 60%-80% of the cost). The three-story residential center is nestled against the Santa Monica Mountains, a block away from the Pacific Ocean.

    Nalin says the focus of the treatment is to help afflicted teens find a healthy balance of screen time. “There’s really no way to be ‘device-free’ anymore,” he says. “You can’t just stick your head in the sand and say, ‘Don’t use the device.’”

    Daniel Sieberg is a former technology and science journalist who — while he wasn’t on the brink of suicide — says he felt addicted to devices to a degree that was unhealthy.

    “I was in denial about how badly I was managing my own life,” says the 46-year-old. He says his health and well-being were suffering, as were his relationships in the real world. “I look back and think, ‘Wow, how did I let that happen?’”

    Ultimately, Sieberg says he turned his life around after an intervention from his wife, who had nicknamed him “Glow Worm” because he would almost always be staring at a screen while in bed. The four-step program he created for himself to curtail tech usage began with him quitting social media for several months, and he wrote a book based on the experience: “The Digital Diet.”

    “There’s a growing movement to be mindful about technology,” Sieberg says. “The message is, you can love your technology — just not unconditionally.

  • UVic Alumni Week a full slate of events Shelagh Rogers to interview Daniel Sieberg live on stage at First Metropolitan
    UVic Alumni Week a full slate of events Shelagh Rogers to interview Daniel Sieberg live on stage at First Metropolitan
    Jan 29, 2018
    ...
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    UVic Alumni Week a full slate of events Shelagh Rogers to interview Daniel Sieberg live on stage at First Metropolitan
    Jan 29, 2018
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    More than a dozen events mark the University of Victoria’s annual Alumni Week to start February.

    The week kicks off with the UVic Vikes women’s and men’s basketball teams playing rare Thursday night games against rival UBC Thunderbirds, Feb. 1, at the Vikes for Life Basketball Night in CARSA performance gym.

    Alumni week continues with presentations, awards, shows and entertainment.
    From Feb. 2 to 4, the UVic School of Music celebrates its 50th anniversary with the New Music & Digital Media Festival.

    On Feb. 5, UVic hosts the Distinguished Alumni Awards Night at the Songhees Wellness Centre, honouring 13 outstanding UVic grads, such as Ry Moran (2002), the first director of the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation, Julie Angus (2001), scientist and best-selling author and adventurer, and country music artists Carli and Julie Kennedy (of Twin Kennedy), 2008.

    On Feb. 6, UVic Chancellor Shelagh Rogers interviews Daniel Sieberg (1998) live on stage at First Metropolitan United Church. Sieberg is a former Google executive and is the author of The Digital Diet, on breaking the tech addiction, and is co-founder of Civil, a news-making platform.

    On Feb. 7, Twin Kennedy is throwing a free concert at Felicita’s pub in the Student Union Building.

    The Legacy Art Galleries on Yates Street hosts “Trans Hirstory in 99 Objects: The Transgender Archives meets the Museum of Transgender History & Art,” until March 29.

  • From Marketing Lead at Google to Co-Founder of Media Startup
    From Marketing Lead at Google to Co-Founder of Media Startup
    Dec 11, 2017
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    From Marketing Lead at Google to Co-Founder of Media Startup
    Dec 11, 2017
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    Daniel Sieberg’s life is full of great achievements. An Emmy-winning correspondent working with first-tier media went on to lead the marketing department at Google News Lab. Now, Daniel is starting a new period at Civil, a cutting-edge organization aiming to merge journalism and the blockchain technology.

    Daniel agreed to share his extensive experience with us. Learn how to take the best of both worlds and succeed in seemingly opposing fields.

    Could you tell about your professional background? What was your role at Google and Civil, one of the innovative blockchain startups?

    I’ve always worked at the intersection of journalism and technology going back to the late 1990s when I was a business-technology reporter for the Vancouver Sun. I’ve also worked as a technology correspondent for the likes of CNN, CBS News and ABC News over the course of nearly 15 years and joined Google in 2011.

    I created one of the first teams to support the editorial efforts of newsrooms – Google for Media – and later joined forces with other colleagues to help found the Google News Lab. Today, it is a global effort to collaborate with journalists and entrepreneurs to build the future of media. I no longer work for Google having just left a few weeks ago to join Civil and its efforts to merge news and blockchain technology.

    What projects did you work on at Google?

    I was mainly focused on those two teams – Google for Media and the Google News Lab – but within those, I had the opportunity to participate in a number of projects, including our first launch of training resources for journalists in Africa. Our initial partnerships work in Europe and help forge relationships with key organizations in the US like the Online News Association (ONA), Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ), and others. I got a chance to travel to more than 20 countries to hear what journalists need in today’s digital transformation and help assess the best ways for Google to support them.

    You have an extensive background in media and journalism. What made you shift to the corporate sector?

    I’d always known people working at Google and when I heard about the potential to work there in 2011 I got very excited. It was a relatively new territory to carve out the team that grew to Google for Media and the Google News Lab but it was also incredibly inspiring to see all the great work being done across the company for news. I spent six years at Google and learned so much from my colleagues and peers. It was a chance to work for a major global company and create as much opportunity for impact as possible.

    How were media and technology connected at the Google News Lab? Was it a non-profit project?

    It wasn’t a non-profit project but rather a team within Google that focused on that intersection of news, storytelling, and technology (e.g. separate from the revenue teams, ad sales, technical support, etc.).

    What were you trying to achieve at the Google News Lab?

    Our goal was to demonstrate Google’s commitment to the editorial side of newsrooms and foster innovation at all levels of newsroom production. Over the course of a few years, the team grew from just a handful of us to having leads in multiple markets in Europe, Asia, and South America. I’m really excited about the work being done and look forward to seeing where it all leads as an outsider and googler.

    Where is the intersection of marketing and journalism? Did you aim to provide quality information to users or promote Google products?

    We wanted to ensure journalists could take full advantage of Google tools – everything from maps to search to trends data and more. We conducted hundreds of in-person trainings for journalists and created a self-guided learning portal.

    We also wanted to illustrate the power of Google trends data in helping inform and guide stories. So we built out that effort under our data editor, Simon Rogers who now leads a global team to work with newsrooms all over the world.

    Besides, we wanted to broker partnerships with organizations that are committed to helping journalists succeed in this digital era and provide whatever resources we could. There’s really not an “end goal” per se but more about continuing to support newsrooms everywhere the best way possible.

    Can startups create objective marketing content or is it inherently biased?

    In my opinion, if you believe strongly in the product or service or company you represent, then marketing can be objective. But of course, we all carry an inherent bias and certainly need to be aware of that whenever creating marketing campaigns or collateral.

    Can corporate blogs or pages on social media become the new media of tomorrow? What do companies need to change their approach to content in this case?

    It’s possible for corporations to use those platforms for authentic and genuine marketing opportunities but it’s also up to the readers to take that content with a grain of salt and ensure they know when it’s sponsored content or not. Starting with the audience and putting them first is critical to creating something meaningful rather than just thinking about what’s timely or important to the company.

    How can aspiring startups find ways to be featured in the media? How can they approach journalists with their innovative ideas?

    It’s tough to break through the noise but I recommend spending time at events (even if you aren’t officially presenting), reading about what reporters are covering or interested in through their social media channels and not being afraid to reach out to them. But you need a refined elevator pitch, a clear ask, and a thick skin.

    Being an insider in the innovative media startup, could you tell us about main issues businesses face today? How can they overcome those?

    Businesses face many issues with marketing and there’s a lot that could be done. My biggest piece of advice is to be authentic and real. People are savvy today when it comes to seeing through marketing campaigns that don’t have a real sense of purpose and connection with the audience. Marketers should be storytellers – and the best stories use people and their experiences to convey the value of any product. Let their voices be the star.

    Could you tell us about Civil? How does this media startup work and what’s new about it?

    Civil is a news platform built on the basis of blockchain technology. It helps to provide better security of the network as well as promote content creation directly for the audience.
    At a high level, blockchain is essentially about liberating data from a central, consolidated server and enabling secure, reliable peer-to-peer transactions that improve efficiency while reducing costs for all parties. This is the decentralization concept in a nutshell. While Bitcoin is the most well-known application of blockchain to date, it’s just the tip of the iceberg. Blockchain can, will and already does enable far more than just cryptocurrencies and it’s approaching the stage of mass awareness and growing adoption, much like the internet in the early 1990s.

    Think of it as an unchangeable, secure network of decentralized computers that can facilitate countless types of transactions. It’s a news platform with blockchain underpinnings – but for consumers, the content will still be consumed on the mobile web or an app.

    Journalism will be one of the first, truly consumer-facing applications of blockchain technology. Civil’s model will introduce the power of blockchain technology to a much broader, consumer-centric audience – marking one of (if not the) first consumer-focused applications of the blockchain.

    How can such blockchain startups change the way journalism works? Can they benefit the entire ecosystem?

    It is advertiser-driven interests and the business-focused decisions of publishers/other third-parties that have driven journalism to its current, dire state – and blockchain offers the potential for a new model that takes those actors out of the picture.

    There is also an immutability of the blockchain records that promise a permanent archive of content coupled with the opportunity to create a robust marketplace of journalism through crypto-currency that hasn’t explored before. There are of course many challenges ahead but we’re excited to take the initial steps forward for journalism. But we can’t do it alone and encourage interested parties to reach out and see how they might be involved (write me to learn more at daniel@joincivil.com).

    Do you think that newsmaking blockchain startups will compete with traditional news sources? Or is it the beginning of the end for the latter?

    The blockchain is still an experimental platform for many sectors – from healthcare to voting records to financial transactions – but we hope the depth and breadth of what’s been demonstrated globally with blockchain broadly will help people both understand the potential and demonstrate a trust in the technology.

    But of course we understand it’s new and confusing to some and we want to be as transparent with our process and philosophy as possible and be fully collaborative with the industry. We see many ways to work with both newer, startup newsrooms as well as legacy ones around the world.

    What has Civil already achieved? How does this media startup impacts the industry?

    Civil has already generated impressive momentum with journalists and citizens alike:

    • We’ve got an active Slack channel with hundreds of engaged users from around the world (“amazing interest from journalists in Mexico City after the earthquake, for instance…”).
    • We’ve also officially signed more than a dozen journalists from the likes of New Yorker, LA Times and Politico as part of our initial roster of journalists. We will be announcing several additional newsrooms in the coming weeks (for more, including a chance to create a newsroom for Civil, check out joincivil.com).
    • We have a partnership with ConsenSys (a development and investment arm of Ethereum, the second-largest crypto-currency and a system that offers the creation of more than just crypto-currency) and that backing gives us a solid foundation while ensuring Civil is committed to the long term. Our focus is on building a quality product, not watching token price fluctuations.

    To that end, Civil will run a token economy with a token launch that will come in early 2018:

    • Civil’s focus is on developing a quality product and experience for citizens and journalists/newsmakers alike. We’re not going to be a flash in the pan, and we believe strongly in having a substantive product available when we issue a token sale.
    • Our efforts in the meantime are focused on building out the platform, recruiting/onboarding more journalists in a multitude of markets and building out our community of engaged citizens that want to see more / better local, policy and investigative-focused reporting.
    • And, yes, we want journalists to get paid well for quality, impactful journalism.

    How do you choose which topics to cover? Is the approach similar to a lean startup where public feedback always comes first?

    To be clear, Civil isn’t doing the reporting as we’re the platform for others to do their reporting. We’re focused mainly on newsrooms that have an interest in local, investigative and policy content but there will be ways that people who use Civil can help guide or “sponsor” coverage that they think is important to their neighborhood or society using their Civil tokens on the platform. People can allocate their tokens towards issues that matter to them and rally others to do the same.

    We’ve seen design thinking for startups among your topics of interest. What is it all about?

    Design thinking is primarily about putting your audience first and creating anything new with a user-centric approach. There’s an entire ethos that involves a structured brainstorm to help channel people’s ideas into prototypes and something tangible. Ideally, it also brings together people from across the enterprise – eng, marketing, legal, finance, etc. – depending on the project to get a diverse viewpoint on what works best.

    What are the main benefits of design thinking for startups?

    One of the main goals of design thinking is to fail fast and isolate the best way forward in a condensed period of time. Teams will often create a design sprint, which takes place over 3-5 days of ideating, strategizing and prototyping to get to a product or service approach that works best for users. It can be extremely helpful for startups to create this kind of opportunity and involve the right people across the team. If folks also want to search for their own ways to do it – bringing in a third-party facilitator is usually the best way to go.

    What is the role of a customer in a lean startup?

    The customer’s needs should be put first throughout the process – sometimes teams will even bring in a few users for some of the process (or at least interview them at some point) and really channel their feedback into everything throughout the experience.

    How can marketers in a lean startup apply the design thinking approach? 

    Marketers could use design thinking sprints to narrow their focus and create some structure around a campaign. Too many ideas can lead people to be somewhat scattered or overwhelmed so these design thinking sprints give a framework while still providing a chance to experiment and iterate.

    Should marketers collaborate closely with UX designers when trying to bring a product to the market?

    Yes and yes! Whenever possible it’s worth marketers talking to UX designers and bridging that gap. Both bring strengths to the table and UX designers can definitely aid in the prototyping phase as well. The best design thinking experiences bring marketers and UX designers together to help tell a story that really resonates with users.

  • CBS News: High art: Inside the growing world of aerial photography
    CBS News: High art: Inside the growing world of aerial photography
    Nov 06, 2017
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    CBS News: High art: Inside the growing world of aerial photography
    Nov 06, 2017
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    Aerial photography used to be reserved for only professionals, but flights and views that were once almost impossible to get are becoming routine -- making for a spectacular surge of aerial photography nationwide.

    FlyNYON is one of the businesses taking advantage of a rapidly rising aerial photography market by offering tours without the doors. These days, people don't just want to look at great photos, they want to take them themselves, CBS News correspondent Jeff Glor reports.

    "It's an experience. The city actually is an experience, from the air. There's nothin' like it," says Tim Orr, the company's COO.

    When the company launched in 2013, it was geared to professionals. Now, Orr says his business is pretty much all social media.

    "We were posting our photographs, just sharing what we see with the world. And it was coming back tenfold, 'how can I do this? I wanna do that. Where'd you get that picture?' And it just, the lightbulb went off. And it was like, I don't see why you can't come either. So we opened the doors. And people started jumpin' on board," he says.

    Orr has quickly expanded to Las Vegas, Miami, San Francisco and Los Angeles. 

    "This makes it accessible to everybody. You buy a seat, you go up when you want to, and you take your photos and you post them on Instagram or Facebook and your friends are going 'Whoa I wanna do that,'" he says.

    It's a long way away from where Alex MacLean started 42 years ago.  Maclean has published 11 books on aerial photography over his career.

    "I would go up and go shoot and come back and get my film back three days later and it was all over-exposed, and you wanted to shoot yourself, and it was really expensive. Now you can see how you're doing right on the spot. It's very simple," MacLean says.

    His views of landscapes range from tobacco farms to rows of cut flowers to B-52 boneyards. 

    "The first thing I had to do was learn how to fly and that was tough in itself because I was terrified of flying," MacLean says.
    Glor joined MacLean for a recent flight outside Boston in a Cessna 172. They flew over the famed Walden Pond, where the water level is so low it's nearly surrounded by beach. 

    Much of MacLean's work today focuses on the environment.

    "It's the most immediate threat in so many different ways. Everywhere you look, you can see climate issues at play. You know from agriculture, to coastal areas, heat, forest fires that we have now," he says.

    Google is also in the game. Google Earth lets users aerially explore the entire planet in 3D. Now you can trace the path of hurricanes and see how the earth has been affected.

    "It is such a unique vantage point to be able to see a place from that altitude and to kind of understand more of how the earth is connected between the oceans, mountains, and different land masses and there's really no way to do that without having that kind of a perspective," says Google News Lab's Daniel Sieberg.  

    This year, Google also added a voyager feature -- part tourist guide, part teacher. You can tour everything from the Kennedy Space Center to lost civilizations.

    "Voyager's a bit of your guide to help you navigate some of these places and to have that kind of ability to spin the globe, zoom into a place that you think might be interesting and go along for the ride and see where it takes you," Sieberg says.

    All this said, Orr says the most important place to capture a memory, is still in the mind.

    "Actually they're shooting so fast trying to capture everything. Sometimes, we actually tell them, 'Hey, put the camera down. Look at what you're seeing.' Picturing the memory is actually, sometimes a lot more valuable," he says.

  • Tunisie Telecom signs ICT deal with media Union
    Tunisie Telecom signs ICT deal with media Union
    Sep 08, 2017
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    Tunisie Telecom signs ICT deal with media Union
    Sep 08, 2017
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    Tunisia's fixed and mobile telephony company Tunisie Telecom has committed to provide telecommunications services to the National Union of Tunisian Journalists (SNJT), building on its existing relationship with the organisation.

    The telco says it will offer SNJT members and their families preferential packages, payment facilities and advantageous rates for several services in its portfolio of fixed telephony, mobile and internet products.

    New technologies will be installed at the Union's headquarters, according to Nizar Bouguila, Tunisia Telecom Chairman and CEO.

    "The partnership between Tunisie Telecom and the Syndicat des Journalistes Tunisiens is strategic for the national operator and is of particular importance in that it contributes to facilitate the work of journalists and enable them to communicate information on time and with the required quality. Tunisie Telecom, which continues to strengthen its role as an active player in society and its role as a global operator, has steadily improved this partnership since 2010 and will further enrich it by 2017."

    Neji Baghouri, President of the SNJT says Tunisie Telecom has done well to support to the information sector in general and journalists in particular.

    "This new convention opens new horizons for journalists through ICTs, which are the essential tools of a free, professional press in the digital age."

    The new deal between Tunisie Telecom and SNJT comes two months after Code for Africa, Google News Labs and the World Bank announced that they would give 6,000 African journalists training in data journalism skills until February 2018.

    The journalists trained as part of that initiative, which started in June, will be picked from 12 African cities, namely Abuja, Lagos, Nairobi, Cape Town, Durban, Casablanca, Yaounde, Dakar, Freetown, Dar es Salaam, Kampala, and Johannesburg.

    Daniel Sieberg, head of training & development at Google News Lab says the web and digital tools present an interesting array of options for journalists although learning how to use these tools can be a daunting task for many of them.

    "While the global news industry faces a knowledge challenge with regards to digital tools, Africa, by virtue of its non-digital education systems, faces even greater odds in the battle for digital integration in news and storytelling. In Nigeria for instance, only a few of the journalism institutions offer training programs that focus on web tools, and many top news organisations lose out on stories due to their inability to utilise newer and more engaging digital techniques."

    A massive open online course (MOOC) is now freely available online, covering a range of web concepts and practices for digital journalists as part of the training. It will be followed by monthly study group meetups in collaboration with Hacks/Hackers to provide more focused, in-person instruction.

  • 6,000 African reporters to be trained in digital journalism
    6,000 African reporters to be trained in digital journalism
    Jun 12, 2017
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    6,000 African reporters to be trained in digital journalism
    Jun 12, 2017
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    Up to 6,000 African journalists will receive training in data journalism skills this year in a Code for Africa digital journalism initiative supported by Google News Labs and the World Bank.

    Code For Africa is empowering journalists in Africa by giving them the necessary support to better understand the Web and how to use the tools available to them online.

    The Code For Africa Digital Journalism initiative will take place over the next nine months (to February 2018) and see the 6000 journalists trained in 12 major African cities: Abuja, Lagos, Nairobi, Cape Town, Johannesburg, Durban, Casablanca, Dakar, Freetown, Dar es Salaam, Kampala, and Yaounde.

    Code For Africa is a data journalism and civic technology initiative operating across Africa that trains and supports journalists and civic activists to better understand and use web tools for news reporting and storytelling.

    Training will take place in three formats.

    • Beginning June 15, in-person training sessions will be held in the cities mentioned above. In each city, training will be conducted in three newsrooms and will be held twice a month for the duration of the initiative.
    • Beginning August, a massive open online course (MOOC) will be made freely available online, covering a range of web concepts and practices for digital journalists.
    • There will also be monthly study group meetups in collaboration with Hacks/Hackers to provide more focused, in-person instruction. Monthly meetings will take place in Cameroon, Kenya, Morocco, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Tanzania and Uganda.


    Commenting on the initiative, Daniel Sieberg, head of training & development at Google News Lab said: “The web and digital tools present an interesting array of options for journalists, but learning how to use these tools can be a daunting task for many media people.

     “While the global news industry faces a knowledge challenge with regards to digital tools, Africa, by virtue of its non-digital education systems, faces even greater odds in the battle for digital integration in news and storytelling. In Nigeria for instance, only a few of the journalism institutions offer training programs that focus on web tools, and many top news organisations lose out on stories due to their inability to utilise newer and more engaging digital techniques.”

    In 2016, Google announced its commitment to train one million African youth within one year to help them create and find jobs via the web. “With the digital journalism initiative we want to contribute to the growth of Africa’s news and media ecosystem by training present and future practitioners on how to employ existing tools to tell stories, and support them to create locally-relevant tools that will reshape how Africans consume news,” he added.

  • Google News Lab powers digital journalism training for Africa
    Google News Lab powers digital journalism training for Africa
    Jun 08, 2017
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    Google News Lab powers digital journalism training for Africa
    Jun 08, 2017
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    Google News Lab powers digital journalism training for Africa
    By Daniel Sieberg

    For journalists, recent advances in digital technology present compelling new opportunities to discover, tell and share stories—like this one from the Mail & Guardian that uses Google My Maps to highlight top water wasters in metro areas during the drought. But learning how to use new digital tools for reporting can be intimidating or even daunting. This is particularly true in Africa, where digital integration in news and storytelling often remains a challenge. Few journalism institutions offer training programs in digital tools, and news organizations often lack the capability to use new digital technologies in their reporting.

    That’s why we’re supporting a new initiative that will offer journalists across Africa training in skills like mobile reporting, mapping, data visualization, verification, and fact checking. In partnership with the World Bank and Code For Africa, this project aims to train more than 6,000 journalists by February 2018, in 12 major African cities: Abuja, Cape Town, Casablanca, Dakar, Dar es Salaam, Durban, Freetown, Johannesburg, Kampala, Lagos, Nairobi and Yaounde. By providing the instruction and support to better use available digital tools available, we hope to empower journalists across Africa to produce cutting-edge and compelling reporting.

    Training will take place in three formats:

    • Beginning June 15, we’ll hold in-person training sessions on topics ranging  from displaying data with an interactive map to effective reporting with a mobile device. In each city, we’ll conduct trainings in three newsrooms and hold trainings twice a month for the duration of the initiative.
    • In August, a massive open online course (MOOC) will be made freely available online, covering a range of web concepts and practices for digital journalists.
    • We will also hold monthly study groups in collaboration with Hacks/Hackers (a global meetup organization) to provide more focused, in-person instruction. These monthly meetings will take place in Cameroon, Kenya, Morocco, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Tanzania, and Uganda.


    In 2016, we announced our commitment to train 1 million African youth on digital skills during the year to help them create and find jobs. We hope this new initiative also helps contribute to the continued growth of Africa’s digital economy.

    Please visit www.academy.codeforafrica.org to learn more and to register.  

  • USA Today: How to turn off the always-on work culture
    USA Today: How to turn off the always-on work culture
    Apr 17, 2017
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    USA Today: How to turn off the always-on work culture
    Apr 17, 2017
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    How to turn off the always-on work culture
    USA Today: Marc Saltzman

    Stop me if this sounds familiar: you need some well-deserved time off work – and off the grid — but you don’t want to seem unresponsive to clients or co-workers.

    Just as technology makes you accessible to everyone, anywhere and anytime, you can use these same tools to responsibly take a little time off for when you need it, without suffering from FOMO (fear of missing out), or risk upsetting your colleagues. Perhaps a short digital detox is just what the doctor ordered.

    “We’re all pulled in so many directions with technology, whether it's for professional or personal reasons, and sometimes the two clash,” says Daniel Sieberg, author of "The Digital Diet" (Crown; $4.95) in an interview with USA TODAY. “Our time is the most valuable commodity on the planet, and sometimes we need to recharge or re-energize, and it will ultimately allow us to be more productive and effective in the long run.”

    Out of office auto-replies

    When you’re taking some time off, start by tweaking your OOO (“out of office”) email auto-reply message. That way, whomever is writing you shouldn’t expect a quick reply. Many put the dates you’re away, too.

    If you can delegate, perhaps include a line like “If it’s urgent, please contact ______,” or have a trusted coworker access your email while you’re away.  Setting up an auto-reply is quite easy for popular email programs, like Outlook and Gmail.

    With Outlook, for a POP or IMAP account, first create a new message, and then enter the desired subject and message for your OOO auto-reply. Save the email. Now you can create the rule for your auto-reply, such as having the bounce-back message sent to everyone or only specific contacts. To do this, click File>Info>Rules and Alerts. If you’re running Microsoft Exchange, it may be under File>Info>Automatic Replies.

    Speaking of Outlook, if you allow for your free/busy information to be visible to others in Outlook Calendar, you can indicate you are out of office by adding an item to your calendar for the days you’ll be out and specifying for it to show as “out of office.” Some people even send a calendar item to their team members so their out-of-office dates are on colleagues’ calendars too.

    With Gmail, click Settings in the top right of the page, and scroll down to the "Vacation responder" section. Turn this on. Fill in the date range, subject, and message. Underneath your message, check off the box if you only want your contacts to see your vacation reply.

    At the bottom of the page, click Save Changes. That’s it.

    Other email tips and tricks

    Control freaks, like yours truly, might log in to check email while on vacation perhaps once or twice a day for a quick scan of your messages. Personally, I’ve found spending 20 minutes out of 24 hours to put out little fires is well worth it for the peace of mind.

    One more suggestion: if you don’t want your clients to know you’re away, you can always schedule emails to be sent while you’re away.

    With Outlook, you can queue up a bunch of messages before you leave and then have them fired off later. Start a new message, click Options near the upper-middle of the screen, select Delay Delivery, and finally, click Do Not Deliver Before. Now select the date and time when this message should be delivered using the drop-down boxes. Write your message, click Send and it’ll hang in your outbox until your specified time. Note: your PC needs to be on for it to send at the specified time.

    Gmail users can also do this via a third-party tool, like the free Boomerang add-on.

    Slack, Skype

    Business communication extends well past email.

    Popular tools like Slack and Skype for Business can also be used to (gently) tell people you’re unplugging for a bit.

    A new feature unveiled this week, Slack — a cloud-based team collaboration platform — now lets you set your status, so you can let your teammates know you’re away, when you’ll be back, whom to contact in your place, or anything else you want to share.

    You can pick from five default options for common scenarios when you’re away – such as being on vacation, off sick, or working remotely – or create your own custom status update, up to 100 characters and illustrated with an emoji of your choice.

    You can set a status from a web browser, or on the desktop and mobile versions of Slack. From your computer, click your name in the upper left corner of your sidebar, then select Set a status. On the iOS or Android app, tap the More items icon (...), or edit your status directly from your profile.  Your Slack status will be displayed until you change it.

    Another trendy productivity tool, Skype for Business, also lets you manually change your status to “Off work” or “Do not disturb” -- the latter which will block people from instant-messaging or calling you.

    If you like, specify your location, as well as enter a custom message that will appear in your contact card across Microsoft’s Office 365.

    On a related note, before you head out on vacation you can send a message to your teams in Microsoft Teams, new group chat software, to let them know when you’ll be back to work.  

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