December 20, 2013

Ross' Rad Reads - Dot Complicated

Let me tell you a story about Randi Zuckerberg. A few years ago, I had the opportunity to chat live online with her and Soleil Moon Frye for a show they produced called Mom Up. They invited me to talk about my work with The Mom Pledge.

It was great fun chatting with them. Both were incredibly personable, interesting and nice. I had a ball and was excited to have the exposure.

I had no idea who Randi was.

That night, as I was showing the recording of our chat to my husband (which has since been lost by the host company Spreecast - boo!), he inquired about her.

"Zuckerberg, as in Mark?!"

"I don't know," I answered.

"Not a very usual name. And she certainly looks like him."

"She does, now that you mention it."

I did a quick Google search. And promptly felt like a fool. I had done zero research in advance of the chat. I knew Soleil from writing for her website, but had not looked into my other hostess for the event.

Oops. Not cool.

But in a way, I am glad I didn't know. Because I probably would have made assumptions about Randi. And that would not have been fair. She is so much more than, "Mark's sister."

She is a success in her own right, and deserves to be viewed as such. She has her own media company and has won critical acclaim for her work.

I have been following her website and newsletter since they first launched. And even had the honor of writing for the site.

Her relationship to Mark, her former position at Facebook and the opportunities that followed do make her uniquely qualified to write a book about technology. And she has written a great one.

In so many ways, at so many times during this book, it felt like Randi was writing about my own life. Her description of her early career days took me back fondly to my own. We had very similar weddings. And we are both moms struggling to balance work, family and technology's role in our lives.

She is extremely candid about the joys and frustrations technology creates. And she looks at the positive and negative ways it impacts every facet of our lives, from our personal relationships to our professional lives.

She offers practical, prescriptive advice for making the most of technology while not letting it control us or get in the way our lives. I wanted to shout, "Amen!" when she wrote about the importance of being authentic online. And I love her "Pick Three" rule.

Randi truly understands technology in all its forms. And while she loves and embraces it, she also admits there are dangers and limitations. She advocates using it wisely and in moderation. Her guidance for parents in particular is spot on.

She offers insight not only into how technology has developed and changed our lives to date, but also where it is heading. What we have in store. And given the future of technology, the lessons she offers are so important.

In addition to her own knowledge and perspective, Randi cites facts and figures from a wide variety of interesting and important studies. Particularly about the use of technology. The habits and behaviors of the people who use it and the ways in which they do so.

This book made me think a great deal about how I personally utilize technology, and how it influences my life. I have been an "early adaptor" of many new technologies. I'm proud of that and technology has enhanced my life in many ways.

But it does feel sometimes as if it gets in the way. Especially with my family. I don't want to let that happen. Part of that has to do with the fact I work from home. Which technology enables me to do. But part of it is my own responsibility. And I have the power to change the aspects I don't like, to control technology rather than letting it control me.

I love a book that makes me think. And leads me to have important conversations with the people who matter in my life. This was one such book. I love Randi, and hope to someday have the opportunity to chat with her in person, rather than via technology.

But please make note, Randi. If I ask you to use my phone to take a photo, just say no.

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