The domain name,, is for sale

Real Joe

Real Joe was a blog that I published from August, 2000 to December of 2005.  Its tagline: Important stuff. Plain talk. Ordinary guys.

  1. The word ‘Joe’ in our culture is associated with the common man, a typical ‘guy’ or ‘fellow,’ the ‘average Joe,’ an ‘ordinary Joe.’  It also has taken on this ‘common man’ association with some demographics, e.g., G.I. Joe, Holy Joe, Joe College, Joe Sixpack, Joe Lunchbucket. The phrase ‘real Joe’ as in “He’s the real Joe” has come to be associated with authenticity and a lack of pretentiousness in a male.
  2. The word ‘Joe’ also refers to coffee, as in a ‘cup of Joe.’ The origin of that phrase is not clear.

If you’re interested in purchasing the domain name, contact me.

Electric bassist Travis Freudenberg will Reboot your computer

Travis Freudenberg, Reboot Computers, Northfield Reboot Computers, Northfield  Reboot Computers, Northfield
I stopped by Reboot Computers on Bridge Square on Wed. to meet proprietor Travis Freudenberg who, earlier in the week, had submitted a LoGro banner ad (free for a month).

Reboot Computers

Travis does all the usual computer servicing and repair (PCs and Macs), including:

  • System diagnostics
  • Virus removal
  • Data transfer
  • Data recovery
  • Custom system builds
  • Wireless network setup
  • Hardware sales and installation

You can follow Reboot Computers on Facebook or on Twitter.

DSC02420 Travis Freudenbert and Not One Stone at the Fine Line Music Cafe School of Salmon by Not One Stone
Travis is also an accomplished bass guitar player. From the bio page of one the bands he currently plays with, Rare Medium (Jazz/Funk):

Travis Freudenberg is an electric bassist with over 15 years of electric bass recording and performance experience. A graduate of the University of Minnesota Morris, he received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Jazz Studies and, oddly enough, Biology in 2001. While in attendance at UMM, Travis recorded, toured, and performed with a variety of different groups, including UMM Jazz Ensemble 1, No Smoking, The Black and Blue Note Jazz Quartet, and the Booty Police.

Travis was a featured soloist with UMM Jazz Ensemble 1 at the 2000 Montreaux Jazz Festiva in Montreaux, Switzerland and also at the 2000 Vienne Jazz Festival in Vienne, France. He was honored with the Keith Carlson Memorial Jazz Award as Outstanding Jazz Musician at UMM in 2000.

He also plays with the hard rock group, Not One Stone. Here’s a clip of the song Catching You from their School of Salmon album:



I own a Mac but I am not a Mac person

I’ve never been a Steve Jobs fanboy, even though my personal and professional life have benefited greatly from the technologies he popularized.  He was a tyrant, he didn’t spend much time with his kids, and he wasn’t interested in philanthropy.  His death this week is an interesting cultural phenomenon to me, but the outpouring of sentimentality is more than a little strange. See The Onion: Apple User Acting Like His Dad Just Died.

I’ve owned many Apple products since the early 1980s, including the Apple IIe and the original Macintosh.  I currently have an iMac though I mainly use it as my Windows 7 desktop. My kids gave me an iPod years ago and Robbie and I both use it to manage our music collection.  I didn’t like the proprietary nature of the iPhone’s operating system and app store so I’ve opted for Android-based smartphones ever since they were available.  I didn’t like how the iPad required synchronization with a Mac platform ("Huh? I can’t dump my photos on it without using iPhoto? PHHHTTTTTT!") so I’ve waited for another tablet to catch my fancy.  Last week, I placed my order for a Kindle Fire. So I’m an Apple agnostic.

im-a-mac-im-a-pcTen years ago, I heard a marketing guru state that she was a "Mac person." She was illustrating the extent to which people can become emotionally attached to products—and that this was a desirable thing for a company.

Ever since, I’ve tried to become more aware of and discourage my tendency to do likewise in my life as a consumer.  I have enough trouble with my ego and mistaken ideas about who I really am.  Over-identification with a product is a trap I’m better off avoiding.

(FYI, I loved those I’m a PC/I’m a Mac commercials. For more, see the April 2011 HuffPo article, Mac People vs. PC People: What Your Gadget Says About You.)

So yeah, R.I.P. Steve.  Now let’s move on.

Free live text chat: WordPress Q&A on Tuesday, June 28, 10 am

Got a question about WordPress, either the .com or .org versions?

Join me for a free live text chat here on LoGro, Tuesday, June 28, 10-11 am and I’ll answer as many WordPress-related questions as possible.

The Q&A is mainly intended for beginning and intermediate level users, including those who are the administrators and editor of their blog sites as well as those who are just authors or contributors.

Use the form below to email yourself a reminder about the event’s date/start time: Tuesday, June 28, 10-11 am.

If you can’t attend the live event:

  • Submit a question ahead of time by attaching a comment below to this blog post
  • Come back anytime after the event is over to read the transcript

What is the Internet hiding from you? If you have an ‘anchoring community’ then probably not much

Eli Pariser’s new book The Filter Bubble: What the Internet Is Hiding from You and his TED Talk video are getting a lot of attention this week.

Eli PariserAs web companies strive to tailor their services (including news and search results) to our personal tastes, there’s a dangerous unintended consequence: We get trapped in a "filter bubble" and don’t get exposed to information that could challenge or broaden our worldview. Eli Pariser argues powerfully that this will ultimately prove to be bad for us and bad for democracy.

in the Author Q&A on Amazon’s page for his book, Pariser writes:

We’re used to thinking of the Internet like an enormous library, with services like Google providing a universal map. But that’s no longer really the case. Sites from Google and Facebook to Yahoo News and the New York Times are now increasingly personalized – based on your web history, they filter information to show you the stuff they think you want to see. That can be very different from what everyone else sees – or from what we need to see. Your filter bubble is this unique, personal universe of information created just for you by this array of personalizing filters. It’s invisible and it’s becoming more and more difficult to escape.

Nick BiltonLast year, NY Times tech reporter and blogger Nick Bilton published a book titled I Live in the Future & Here’s How It Works in which he cited a research paper by Matthew Gentzkow and Jesse M. Shapiro titled Ideological Segregation Online and Offline in which they found "no evidence that the Internet is becoming more segregated over time."  

In an April 2010 column titled Riders on the Storm, David Brooks wrote about this, too.

This study suggests that Internet users are a bunch of ideological Jack Kerouacs. They’re not burrowing down into comforting nests. They’re cruising far and wide looking for adventure, information, combat and arousal. This does not mean they are not polarized. Looking at a site says nothing about how you process it or the character of attention you bring to it. It could be people spend a lot of time at their home sites and then go off on forays looking for things to hate. But it probably does mean they are not insecure and they are not sheltered.

If this study is correct, the Internet will not produce a cocooned public square, but a free-wheeling multilayered Mad Max public square. The study also suggests that if there is increased polarization (and there is), it’s probably not the Internet that’s causing it.

For more, see this blog post from April 2010 by Michael Cervieri titled, Does the Internet put us in Ideological Ghettos?

I’m not too worried about a filter bubble, as my ‘anchoring community’ seem to provide the antidote. Bilton wrote in his book:

I can tell you firsthand that thanks to my anchoring communities, I see a drastically wider range of viewpoints online than I’ve ever experienced reading a print newspaper, watching the nightly news, or reading select niche magazines.

What are anchoring communities? Bilton:

By offering their own digital links and connections, anchoring communities help us cope with the massive numbers of people and the incalculable amount of information online and give us neatly refined selections to sift through together.  They help us contain information flow. These social networks provide cognitive road maps that help us navigate all the information and help relieve the mental taxation of trying to manage excessive information on one’s own.

Currently, Twitter is the online tool I use the most to connect me to my anchoring community, both for Northfield-related information as well as everything else. But the cool thing about living, working and being engaged in the Northfield community is that my daily face-to-face roaming about provides this, too.

The new rules of phone calls: how not to be a jerk

angry_on_the_phoneI don’t answer my cell phone anymore (I don’t have a land line) unless it’s a good friend or family member.  I figure if someone doesn’t want to take the time to email me or text me ahead of time to A) let me know why they want to talk; and B) arrange a time, then I’m not going to interrupt what I’m doing at their whim.

So I was thrilled to see this NY Times article last week: Don’t Call Me, I Won’t Call You.

Phone calls are rude. Intrusive. Awkward. “Thank you for noticing something that millions of people have failed to notice since the invention of the telephone until just now,” Judith Martin, a k a Miss Manners, said by way of opening our phone conversation. “I’ve been hammering away at this for decades. The telephone has a very rude propensity to interrupt people.”  Though the beast has been somewhat tamed by voice mail and caller ID, the phone caller still insists, Ms. Martin explained, “that we should drop whatever we’re doing and listen to me.”

Yeah, baby.

If you leave a voicemail, have the decency to explain why you want to talk so I can judge whether a return call is warranted and how soon. I hate it when people leave a "Hey Griff, call me" voicemail and then hang up.

Lastly, speak distinctly, as your voicemail automatically gets translated into text and then sent to me via email and text. 1) It’s very handy to have the text of a voicemail be searchable in my Gmail, with your phone number clickable.  2) If you drone on and on and on in your voicemail, I don’t have to listen to it. Text is fast. Audio is slow.

Northfield Patch, hyperlocal news, and the future of journalism

Jane McWilliamsI normally prefer more narrowly focused blog posts. And any one of the three subjects in the blog post title would typically suffice.

But Jane McWilliams is teaching a Cannon Valley Elder Collegium course this spring titled The Future of Journalism (4 slots left as I write this) and local media moguls from KYMN, the Northfield News, Northfield Patch,, and yes, even Locally Grown are among the guests she’s having attend various class sessions.

  1. Since Northfield Patch is the new kid on the block here in town, its time to scrutinize their effort, both locally and nationally.  What has been their impact on Northfield thus far? What do you like about what they’re doing? What’s disappointing or problematic?
  2. PatchPatch is a national chain of hyperlocal news sites owned by AOL. There have been many other high profile hyperlocal news projects launched, with many failures already. What’s being learned out there?
  3. Journalism (local, state, national, international) continues to be in a state of extreme flux.  What do you like and not like about what you’re seeing?

If you come across interesting resources related to these issues, be sure to post them in a comment with a link and, if you’re up for it, an excerpt.

WordPress for Noobs course begins March 14; sign up now and save $25

Time for a little shameless self-promotion.

WordPress for NoobsI’m nearing the end of teaching my first online course, WordPress for Noobs.  It’s gone well so I’m offering it again, starting March 14.

  • I’ve revamped the WordPress for Noobs course introduction screencast. When I created the first one, the course didn’t exist. I’m now able to take you behind the scenes to show how the course actually works.
  • I’ve updated the Noobs Course Outline page to more accurately reflect what actually has happened. I’ve added a column for weeks (Week 1, Week 2, etc) to show what gets delivered and when.
  • I’ve updated the testimonials page to include comments from participants
  • The fee for the course remains $97 but it goes up on March 8 to $122.

WordPress for Noobs starts soon. Get it through Your Thick Skull.

Hayes Scriven makes use of a QR code for the NHS ‘Next Level’ campaign

I got an email this morning from Northfield Historical Society Executive Director Hayes Scriven:

Hey Griff, I saw a story over the weekend about a town in Florida using a version of QR Codes for tourism.  That reminded me about your blog post: A QR Code makes its appearance in the January NEG. How else might the codes be used?

So I wanted to look into how they work.  I found out they are really easy, so I did this one for our capital campaign.  Now, that I know how easy they are I am going to do a few more for other areas of the museum.

NHS 'Next Level' campaign QR code flyer NHS 'Next Level' campaign QR code flyer triggers video

Hayes attached a camera phone photo of a Next Level campaign flyer (with QR code on it) in the window of the NHS. I aimed my smartphone at the image attachment on my PC and within 5 seconds (photo above right), a YouTube video started to play, Taking Northfield History to the Next Level, featuring Corrine and Elvin Heiberg.

The school district unveils a new website, built with WordPress

About a year ago, Northfield Public Schools superintendent Chris Richardson accepted my offer to meet with him so I could explain why the District’s website sucked big time.  He took copious notes, and his eyes did not seem to glaze over. But I seriously doubted anything would come of it.

Heather Kuchinka and Matt HillmanImagine my delighted surprise when two District staffers, Administrative Support Assistant Heather Kuchinka and Matt Hillman, Director of Human Resources and Technology, signed up for my online WordPress for Noobs course. They then revealed that they were about to unveil a new District website, based on WordPress, constructed by Daniel Edwins, WordPress guru at Neuger Communications Group.

Last week,  gave Heather and Matt gave me a preview and during the meeting, Chris stopped by to toss around some lingo, something to the effect of "We’ve got a boatload of RSS feeds and our permalinks are the prettiest around." You rock, Chris!

Northfield School District websiteToday, the District portion of the revamped site is up, and according to this news item (note that pretty permalink), "In the coming months, we will be rolling out new individual school sites in an effort to mirror the updates made at the district level."

They’ve set up a feedback page with a form on it, but I hate that.  I can’t learn from the feedback from anyone else, nor can I read their reaction to the feedback. So if you’re a fan of public feedback and conversation-as-a-path-to-public engagement, post your feedback in a comment here and I’ll see if I can twist their arms to join us.

Northfielders at the MWMC social networking panel

MWMC social networking panel at St. Kate's MWMC Board member Katie Fisher speaking to audience Elizabeth Child introducing MWMC social networking panel at St. Kate's
Thursday night I was part of a social networking panel at St. Kate’s that presented to the Seasoned Professionals special interest group for the Minnesota Women in Marketing and Communications (MWMC). Fellow Northfielder Elizabeth Child (on the right in right photo above) put the panel together.

MWMC panelists Griff Wigley, Lynsey Struthers, Michael Wells MWMC panelists Griff Wigley, Lynsey Struthers, Michael Wells 
I was joined by St. Olaf grad Lynsey Struthers, Interactive Strategist with The Lawlor Group, and Michael Wells, Digital Communications Manager at St. Catherine University. It turned out to be quite a fun evening.  We didn’t do presentations at all (no PowerPoint!) but rather just engaged in conversation with a very smart audience who had lots of great questions.

Some of themes I tried to address in my comments can be traced back to these posts from my Wigley and Associates blog in the past year:

WordPress for Noobs (online course) begins this week. Get it through Your Thick Skull

My online course, WordPress for Noobs, begins this week.  Get it through Your Thick Skull.

Your Thick Skull; Griff Wigley, instructor

WordPress for Noobs - screenshot

(See my Nov. blog post for background.)

Locally Grown (the blog and the comments) now available on the Kindle and the Nook eReaders

Subscribe to Locally Grown on the Amazon Kindle Locally Grown on Griff's Kindle

eRreaders are hot, especially the Kindle and the Nook. (We’re now a two-Kindle household.)

For a small monthly fee, you can now subscribe to Locally Grown on your Kindle and get the blog posts, the comments, or both:

If you have a Nook, you can install an application called NookFeed and subscribe to our blog’s RSS feed or the comments’ RSS feed for free.

A QR Code makes its appearance in the January NEG. How else might the codes be used?

NEG0101.thumbnail QR code ad in NEG WordPress for Noobs ad in NEG WordPress for Noobs course QR Code

I bought a small ad for my WordPress for Noobs course (starts next week! Call now! Operators are standing by! Not available in stores!) in the January 2011 issue of the Northfield Entertainment Guide (NEG). See it on page 11.

My ad contains a QR Code, which Wikipedia describes as a

matrix barcode (or two-dimensional code), readable by QR scanners, mobile phones with a camera, and smartphones. The code consists of black modules arranged in a square pattern on a white background. The information encoded can be text, URL or other data.

QR Codes marry the analog world, especially print, to the digital. (They do work online, too. Try it by pointing your smartphone’s code reader app at the code in this blog post.)

I used the free QR Code generator here to make my code.

WIRED_QRcodes copy qrbuckle-660x440
Left: See this blog post about the QR Code in a TAG Heuer print ad in the December issue of WIRED Magazine.

Right: A QR Code belt buckle.

How else might QR Codes be used in Northfield?

Tom Swift: Long Live the Book

Tom Swift has a new blog posted titled Long Live the Book.

Tom SwiftOf course, I am not suggesting e-readers are a fad. In fact, except for when confronted by another doomsayer, I scarcely think them anymore than I think about other gadgets for which I have yet to acquire a use. I only want them to keep publishing paperbacks. I don’t want to look at a screen, however cleverly rendered that screen, than I already do.

The deep pleasure that comes from words on paper in a quiet room cannot be mimicked. If enough people value that experience — and not just those of us who learned to “do the Google” seemingly last week but also even those tech-savvy college kids (look, ma, hands!) — books will endure. Does it have to be either/or?

Discuss here or there.

WordPress for Noobs begins January 10. Get it through Your Thick Skull

In late October, I hosted (with a little help from my friends, Tracy Davis and Sean Hayford O’Leary,) two WordPress Q&A webinars for Northfield area WordPress users. A few days later, I attended my first Minneapolis-St. Paul WordPress User Group meeting. And two weekends ago, I presented two sessions at WordCamp MSP in Richfield.

All of which served to convince me that A) the popularity of WordPress continues to grow; and B) the demand for help in using it continues to grow.

So I decided to create an online course called WordPress for Noobs, and have it be the first course delivered by my new interactive learning platform:

Your Thick Skull

Your Thick Skull; Griff Wigley, instructor

Continue reading WordPress for Noobs begins January 10. Get it through Your Thick Skull

Got questions about using WordPress? Register now to attend your choice of two Webinars on Oct. 26

WordPress webinarMany websites and blogs in the Rice County area are running on the WordPress platform, the most popular content management system in the world.  While WordPress is relatively easy to use, its flexibility and extensibility can be overwhelming.  And some of its advanced features can challenge the technical ability of even savvy webmasters.

So I’m putting on my Wigley and Associates hat and teaming up with two of my longtime colleagues, Tracy Davis and Sean Hayford O’Leary, to offer two free WordPress Q&A Webinars on Tuesday, Oct. 26, one at 11 am and the other at 8 pm.

Sean Hayford O'Leary Tracy Davis Griff Wigley
Sean and Tracy are experienced designers with considerable technical skills.  I can’t design my way out of a paper bag but I have set up many dozen WordPress sites and I’m not half bad as a coach.

The 11 am Webinar will be primarily for intermediate to advanced users with Sean and Tracy featured; the 8 pm webinar will be for beginning to intermediate users with me as the beauty on duty.

If you’re using WordPress and live or work anywhere in Rice County, you’re eligible.  But you must register ahead of time; the sooner the better, as we’re limiting each session to the first 25 registrants.


  • WordPress Q&A Level 2 (intermediate to advanced users, featuring Sean and Tracy): Tuesday, October 26th, 11 am-noon CDT
  • WordPress Q&A Level 1 (beginning to intermediate users, featuring Griff): Tuesday, October 26th, 8-9 pm CDT

Have questions about the webinars?  Attach a comment below or contact me.

Buttons added to posts: Recommend and Retweet


We’ve added two buttons to the bottom of every blog post here on LoGroNo:

  • If you have a Facebook profile, you can click the Recommend button and your recommendation will show up as a one-liner on your Facebook status with a link to the blog post.  Many blogs and news organizations are doing this now. For example, see this week’s MPR story on the St. Olaf memorial chime tower which, as of this writing, has 56 recommendations.
  • If you use Twitter, you can more easily retweet a blog post. Clicking the retween button puts the blog post title in a Twitter text box, shortened with a URL link to the post.

And if you view the individual web page for a blog post (like for this one), you’ll see some additional options for ‘sharing’ the blog post via email and other social media services.

Doing this helps spread the word about a blog post. And we appreciate it.

The pros and cons of the twittersphere for BP and the City of Northfield

We got an email from Tim Freeland at KYMN today, alerting us and other local media folks to someone called @City_of_Nfld_PR on Twitter. Adam Gurno blogged about it on this morning, too.

Looks like the City now has a problem similar to BP with a person on Twitter called @bpglobalpr. See news coverage here, here, and here.

Is it a cause for alarm or just a harmless spoof?

Personally, I object to whoever’s encroaching on my faux franchise.

The heart of downtown, now streaming live 24/7

KYMN Radio and the Northfield Historical Society announced today via their respective blogs (here and here) that a webcam would now be streaming live video from Bridge Square.  KYMN’s Tim Freeland and NHS’s Hayes Scriven are the geniuses behind this.

You may remember that Tim Freeland and Adam Gurno did a proof of concept last year with the time-lapse video of the December snowstorm which was picked up by MPR. (Nice work, everyone. Have some Google juice.)

However, the moniker “KYMN-NHS-Cam” is kind of lame. How about SquareStream? RiverStream? Should we have a “name-the-camera” contest here on LoGro? Continue reading The heart of downtown, now streaming live 24/7

On social media mindcasting and lifecasting: it’s tricky

Jay Rosen Earlier this week I read a blog post by Bora Zivkovic titled Twittering is a difficult art form – if you are doing it right (which started with a tweet by Aaron Naparstek) and followed his link to Jay Rosen’s blog post from a year ago, Mindcasting: defining the form, spreading the meme. Rosen tweeted about it this week, too.

mindcasting I also re-read the March 2009 article in the LA Times, On Twitter, mindcasting is the new lifecasting.

  • Mindcasting (WordSpy definition): “Posting a series of messages that reflect one’s current thoughts, ideas, passions, observations, readings, and other intellectual interests.”
  • Lifecasting (Zivkovic definition): “to be in a continuous presence in a community of one’s liking.” Rosen extreme example: “what you had for breakfast or how much you hate Mondays.”

All this helped me rethink my own use of social media:

Continue reading On social media mindcasting and lifecasting: it’s tricky

Another Twitter advantage: listening to the collective voice of selected thought leaders

twitter-48 In the two years I’ve been using Twitter, I’ve primarily seen it as a micro-blogging service, another platform for publishing with some unique advantages that make it an important complementary tool to a blog.

But in past few months, I’ve discovered how valuable it also is for tuning into the voices of the people I’m most interested in.

David CarrDavid Carr wrote a Jan. 1, 2010 NY Times column titled Why Twitter Will Endure in which he describes this unique advantage of Twitter.

I’ve reread his column several times as I’ve come to experience what he’s described.

Some excerpts:

Continue reading Another Twitter advantage: listening to the collective voice of selected thought leaders

Give us your tired, your poor, your huddled electronic masses

This Saturday, March 20, from 9a to noon, Carleton College is sponsoring a home electronics equipment recycling day. Items accepted include TVs, printers, fax machines, computer monitors, microwaves, stereo equipment, VCR’s, DVD players, electronic games, laptop computers, calculators, portable audio players, cordless phones, cell phones, keyboards, etc.

Depending upon the nature of the item, a variable small fee will be charged to defray the costs of recycling. (This opportunity is offered to individuals/households only, not businesses.)

For more information about what’s involved in manufacturing these items, why you should recycle them, and some heinous human rights abuses in this industry, see the Materials Processing Corporation  blog:

E-waste sent overseas for processing to places like Guiyu has very detrimental effects on the health of the e-waste workers, and even the residents of the towns where this processing takes place:  “According to reports from nearby Shantou University, Guiyu has the highest level of cancer-causing dioxins in the world and an elevated rate of miscarriages.”

Therefore, it is of the utmost importance to recycle electronics with firms that have promised to process everything they take in here in the United States. A list of these recyclers, which includes Materials Processing Corporation, can be found here.

For more information, dropoff location, and details on the fees, please see the Carleton website.

Do you use Twitter? We’d like to follow you


We’re now following 80+ Northfield-area people and organizations who are using Twitter.

If you don’t see our LoGroNfld Twitter account among your followers, follow us and we’ll likely follow you.

Or let us know that you’d like us to follow you by attaching a comment here or by using our Contact Us form.

On using Twitter and Facebook with a blog: It’s Complicated

Social media policy sandwich board at the Goodbye Blue Monday coffeehouse This sandwich board in the front of the Goodbye Blue Monday caught my eye, not only because it’s clever (“Look for us on Facebook & Twitter – but you won’t find us”) but because I’ve been trying to get smarter about how Twitter and Facebook can complement a blog.

Continue reading On using Twitter and Facebook with a blog: It’s Complicated

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