All posts by kylebwinkelman

Technology: Increasing Productivity or The Ultimate Distraction?

“Hang on, need to reply to this important email!” — you’ve never heard this one, have you? Frequently, I find myself pondering whether technology improves my productivity, or acts as my biggest distraction. The answer always seems to differ, depending on the day. So, is it possible to find the appropriate balance in the complexities of this digital age? I know it is, but the first step is acknowledging the problem.


You Are The Master, Not Your Device

If you want to stay on task, don’t blame technology, it simply comes down to time management and us as individuals. Sure, it’s easy to get sucked into that cute dog picture on Facebook, take a Candy Crush break, or get caught up in a maze of so many hyperlinks you’re not even sure what day of the week it is. The trick is, realizing it’s happening and learning how to better manage your time. It’s impractical to think anyone can eliminate distractions entirely, but you’re losing more than you think by allowing it to occur frequently. Gloria Mark, who studies informatics at the University of California, Irvine, found that for every 30 seconds of distraction, you are losing 30 minutes of concentration.

Also, sorry to burst your bubble, but the whole humans being able to multitask thing, is unequivocally a myth. People might think they’re multitasking, when they’re really just switching from one task to another very rapidly.

The Solution?

As I said previously, it starts with better managing your time. As simple as it sounds, set clear boundaries and schedules for your social media, texting and internet surfing-type technology uses. It does make a difference. Additionally, there are multiple apps available to assist you in managing this sort of thing. For example, RescueTime will monitor your daily habits and send periodic alerts indicating how you used your time online. You can also set time allowances for different websites and apps. When you’ve reached the time limit, it will automatically block that website/app from being used. Apps similar to this one are OFFTIME, Moment and Flipd. Give one a try, it may just be exactly what you need.

There’s no question that technology has made the modern workplace more streamlined, efficient and accessible. Used properly, it can be one of humankinds greatest tools.

So, to answer my original question — increasing productivity or the ultimate distraction? I guess, both. It’s up to you to decide.

Kyle Winkelman



Should College Athletes Be Paid?

As a former student-athlete and longtime college sports fan, this is a topic I’ve kicked around more then once. Is it a matter of protecting the purity of amateur athletics? Or is the NCAA simply unwilling to share a portion of the billion dollar pie? I side with the notion that athletes should be paid, and I’ll tell you why.

ncaa money

NCAA: The Money-Making Machine

Let me set the stage by providing some statistics, I think you’ll notice we’re talking about more than a few pennies here. In 2014, USA TODAY Sports reported that the NCAA made more than $1 billion for the year. Not to mention, 24 school athletic programs made more than $100,000,000 in the 2014-2015 athletic year. In 2014, the University of Alabama reported $143.3 Million in athletic revenues — more than all 30 NHL teams and 25 of the 30 NBA teams. Let that one sink in for a minute.. Keep in mind, while universities and the NCAA rake in enormous profits, they don’t have to pay for the labor that is actually generating said profits. In 2015, a single ticket for an NCAA Men’s Final Four game cost $1,151.98!

Do the scholarships many of these athletes receive hold monetary value? Of course. The value still pales in comparison with the profits being collected because of their efforts. All arguments aside, the reality is, colleges and the NCAA are exploiting and profiting off the backs of unpaid college students. Something else to consider, the amount of time student-athletes must devote to their respective sports. Results of a 2011 NCAA survey showed that division 1 football players averaged 43 hours/week, baseball players averaged 42.1 hours/week, and men’s basketball players averaged 39.2 hours/week. This, on top of actual class time and homework, leaves zero time for a job where they would actually get paid. Journalism students can freelance for professional media companies, music students can use their skills to earn money on the side, so why are student-athletes treated any differently?

Paying Athletes: The Upside

Despite being the reason and ones responsible for generating these enormous profits, the athletes are the only people not seeing any of the money. For me, this is reason enough to start forking it over. Those of you still not convinced, here are some other potential benefits to paying them.

It’s common to see athletes leave college early for the bright lights of professional sports. Why? THE MONEY. Now, I recognize that not every player turns pro early for this reason, but you’re kidding yourself if you think it’s not the driving force majority of the time. Paying student-athletes wouldn’t stop all of them, but for those players on the fence, think how much easier the decision to stay in school would be if they already had money in their pocket. So many of these student-athletes come from low-income families, struggling just to make ends meet. If I were the athlete in this situation, I would absolutely cash in on my physical talents while I had the chance. If we want these kids to value their education, give them incentive to stay.

The way the system is setup currently, makes me wonder, what is it teaching the kids? That it’s okay to exploit others as long as you’re making a profit? Maybe that’s a stretch, but I think it’s still worth asking.

Kyle Winkelman



Climate Change: The Nonsense Continues

I told myself I would avoid writing about the political issues that are now cemented into our daily news like a bad song stuck on repeat. I stumble across one ridiculous climate change article and here I am. But hey, there’s always next time. The piece I’m referring to, “A Conservative Journalist’s Reflections On The March For Science Protests” is an op-ed authored by Michael McGrady. Buckle up, because this one’s a doozy.


Is This Real Life?

To begin, Mr. McGrady portrays March for Science and climate change policy supporters as contributors to the demise of diversity of opinion and scientific integrity. Talk about a delusional spin of reality. Furthermore, he defends climate change deniers right to opinion by portraying them as the victims of liberal bullies attempting to “suppress other valid perspectives on the issue.” Oh, and one of my favorite parts of the article, “I leave you, now, with a question. What can we do to make it clear that the right wing is equally supportive, even more so, of scientific inquiry and freedom of thought and conscience?”

Parts of the article are so outrageous, it almost seems pointless to criticize. Yes, the author and everybody else are entitled to their own opinions, but the article completely misses the larger point. Do we debate the validity of gravity? What about the Earth revolving around the Sun? Do we question force = mass x acceleration? My point is, climate change is not up for political debate, nor should it be thought of as a fight between right and left. It’s not a political issue, it’s a logical issue. There’s overwhelming consensus in the scientific community regarding climate change. Denying its validity is simply choosing what you want to believe over what the evidence proves is true.

The future of our species hangs in the balance, are you ready to wake up?

Climate Change: The Facts

To further justify my position, I’ll turn to NASA for support. I urge readers to click on the links and see what they have to say about this issue.

Statement on climate change from 18 scientific associations

“Observations throughout the world make it clear that climate change is occurring, and rigorous scientific research demonstrates that the greenhouse gases emitted by human activities are the primary driver.” (2009)

“Scientific consensus: Earth’s climate is warming”

“97 percent or more of actively publishing climate scientists agree: Climate-warming trends over the past century are extremely likely due to human activities. In addition, most of the leading scientific organizations worldwide have issued public statements endorsing this position.”

I dream of a day when this is no longer a political issue, a day when the collective whole who inhabit this planet commit to finding solutions.

Kyle Winkelman

Video, Social Media and The Future

The Digital Takeover

When my father purchased his first smartphone AND joined Facebook in the same year (2016), I knew the world had officially changed. He’s one of those stubborn, old school baby boomer types. He would rather take four wrong turns, pull over to stare at a grossly oversized map, or ask someone for directions..then admit he needs me to take out my phone and punch the address into Google Maps. When he finally joined the digital world, I wondered, why now? I realized it was out of necessity. Social channels are how we communicate, replicate, deliberate and stay current. They influence our everyday actions and perceptions, whether we like it or not.

This powerful reach and influence means marketers must constantly develop fresh, creative content. The latest trend is video, largely driven by a growing thirst for appealing visual content. Wednesday, at the Social Media Week New York conference (#SMWNYC), Facebook’s Marketing Director of North America, Michelle Klein stated, “1.8m words – or 40,000 pages of typed text – is the equivalent of one minute of video to our brains. And by 2020, 75% of all mobile data will be video.” She spoke of video bringing consumers together on a massive scale, using examples such as the Ice Bucket Challenge and Women’s March.

As consumers, we’re constantly swiping, clicking, scrolling and skipping over information presented to us on social media. So, video marketing and expressing ideas visually…makes sense. Our brains process images must faster than words, so video gives marketers a chance to get the message across before people lose interest.


Taking it Further: Fractionalized Content

So, is that it? Grab a camera, film a few eye-catching scenes and bingo, all marketing goals are accomplished? Unfortunately, no. Technology and social media have made it easy for people to skip, fast forward, or close things they have no interest in watching. This is where fractionalization comes in. Videos are tailored to specific social media platforms, and for specific audience subsets. Meaning, the video contains actors/spokespeople that look like, act like, and speak about things the intended audience cares about. Combine that with all the analytics/targeting services available and marketers can reach exactly who they want, when they want. They’re able to quantitatively track how many people they’re reaching, making video effectiveness relatively measurable.

Looking Ahead: The Impact

What does all of this mean? For starters, I believe some of the most sought after professionals will be those who are highly digitally and visually creative. With so much digital information at our fingertips, quality content is more important than ever. Each year, companies continue to spend more money on social media marketing. In 2017, expect this money to be spent on video.

For consumers, I think the impact resembles a bit of a double-edged sword. Yes, video and social media provide an efficient way for businesses to connect with consumers. It certainly creates a more direct line of communication, and finally flows two ways. We’ve also seen how video and social media can help provide the spark needed to ignite a social movement for a meaningful cause.

However, there is second edge to this sword. All of the targeting services available to marketers, means each of us leaves a very distinct digital footprint. It means we’re more susceptible to seeing certain types of information and content. I can’t help but think we’re losing some of the necessary variety in the information we consume. How can people be objective, if much of what they consume is based on their own subjectivity? To be clear, I’m not in opposition of how digital marketing is structured. As we’re each scrolling through our news feed, what’s important, is being conscious of why that video is there in the first place. Don’t fall victim to blind influence. We all have the ability to seek new information and continue playing devil’s advocate.

Kyle Winkelman



Corporate Profits Trump Science

With a new president in the White House, environmental policy and science are on the hot list of topics expected to see major change. Shortly after being sworn in, President Donald Trump had the climate change page on the white house website taken down. The President has repeatedly expressed his view that climate change is not a serious concern. Vice President Mike Pence doesn’t believe in climate change or evolution, and Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson (former ExxonMobil CEO) doesn’t believe human activity is causing climate change.      

In 2009, the Environmental Protection Agency  (EPA) issued a groundbreaking finding that six greenhouse gases (including carbon dioxide and methane), “threaten the public health and welfare of current and future generations.” This had previously been established as fact in the scientific community, but the importance of the “Endangerment Finding” was it allowed the EPA to regulate emissions from cars and power plants under the Clean Air Act. Lawsuits challenging the finding quickly followed and President Trump’s newly appointed EPA Head, Scott Pruitt, was one of the attorneys that mounted said lawsuits. Yes, you read that correctly. The man selected to lead the EPA has a history of fighting on the side of corporations and has challenged scientific findings of the agency.

To learn more about Trump’s fight against science:

How did we get here? How do so many embrace the short-sighted belief that protecting corporate profits is, somehow, more important than the sustainability of our planet? The basis for scientific discovery is fact, facts accumulated through rigorous testing that attempts to disprove them as otherwise. Compared to his predecessor, President Trump and his new regime clearly take a very different stance on science and environmental policy. This new administration stands on the side of protecting and maximizing corporate profits. What needs to be addressed, is the administrations blatant denial of scientific facts regarding the consequences of certain destructive business practices.

This is not a call for the downfall of Corporate America, nor an attack on capitalism and free enterprise. I simply aim to facilitate a discussion about the bigger picture, social responsibility and the future we want to create. The key word here is future, our very existence is contingent upon having a planet capable of supporting human life. Neglecting to recognize facts and take measures to combat climate change jeopardizes the well-being of future generations. Scientific discovery is how we better understand the world around us, how we learn to make better decisions and improve. Science matters.

The good news is, people from all over are taking notice. More than 800,000 people involved in a private Facebook group organized a March for Science and plan to act.

Here’s a link if you want to learn more or get involved:

Kyle Winkelman