Conversation in the Digital Age: Panel of Experts Will Discuss How We’re Changing

The topic of the evening is an exploration of conversation in the digital age, as two Hartford institutions come together to bring some perspective to how we communicate in the age of technology, and how we don’t. On Wednesday, May 4, The Connecticut Forum in partnership with the Mark Twain House & Museum will present DISCONNECT: Conversation in the Digital Age. The event is described as an (old-fashioned) conversation with three nationally-recognized digital experts to discuss “how social media and our ubiquitous devices have impacted the art of authentic conversation.”  They pose the question: if conversation is how we truly connect to others, what happens when face-to-face communication decreases?Forum, Twain

The panel will feature Dr. David Greenfield from the Center for Internet & Technology Addiction, Slow Tech Movement founder Janell Burley Hofmann, and tech ethicist David Ryan Polgar. Jamie Daniel, director of programming at The Connecticut Forum, will moderate the conversation.

Polgar says that opportunities for fluid conversations have diminished, to our detriment. “We have adapted technology faster than we can adjust our norms or our etiquette.  Do we ever have a prolonged conversation anymore?  There’s a difference between communication and conversation,” he suggests.

“We’re constantly packaging ourselves – exercising brand management in our conversations,” he observes.  “We’re so plugged in, we don’t do eye-to-eye communicating much anymore – there’s a need to increase facetime in our communication.”

Polgar is a frequent speaker and respected tech commentator/writer, and has been featured in The Boston Globe, Financial Times, BBC, SiriusXM, Sydney Morning Herald, VentureBeat, US News & World Report, TEDx, and Forbes, among other publications. He is also co-founder of the Digital Citizenship Summit, a global network of summits focused on safe, savvy, and ethical use of social media and technology. With a background as an attorney and educator, he examines tech use from an ethical, legal, and emotional perspective, providing a unique look into emerging trends and business speakers

“We’re thrilled to collaborate with the Twain House on this timely event,” said Connecticut Forum Executive Director Doris Sugarman. “We welcome opportunities like this to facilitate and encourage dialogue about compelling topics that impact our communities and our lives.”

Individuals planning on attending can send in a question in advance of May 4, via a link  that provides a form for questions to be directed at a specific panelist, or the entire panel.

Janell Burley Hofman is the author of the book, iRules: What Every Tech-Healthy Family Needs to Know About Selfies, Sexting, Gaming and Growing Up. She is also a speaker and consultant on topics like technology, media, health, relationships and personal growth. She will be signing copies of her book after the program.

Dr. David Greenfield is the founder of The Center for Internet and Technology Addiction and an Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Connecticut School of Medicine. He is recognized as one of the world’s leading voices on Internet, computer, and digital media behavior, and a pioneer concerning compulsive and addictive use. He is the author of the Virtual Addiction, which rang an early warning bell with tech overuse when it came out in 1999.  He lectures to public and medical/psychiatric groups throughout the world, and has appeared numerous times on national media and publications.

“I am looking forward to hearing from this panel of experts on questions that we consider every day,” said Jamie Daniel, Director of Programming at The Connecticut Forum, who will be moderating the discussion.  “How is technology changing the way we make friends, fall in love, and parent our kids? How is our online discourse impacting the way we engage in politics? Connect with one another? Shape our communities? And how is social media changing our relationships - and our brains? This amazing panel will help us consider all of this, and more.”


The Connecticut Forum is a (c)(3) nonprofit organization serving Connecticut and beyond with live, unscripted conversations among renowned experts and celebrities, and community outreach programs including the Connecticut YOUTH Forum.  The Mark Twain House & Museum has restored the author's home, where the author and his family lived from 1874 to 1891. In addition to providing tours of the National Historic Landmark, the institution offers activities and educational programs that illuminate Twain's literary legacy and provide information about his life and times.

Tickets for DISCONNECT are $10. ($5 for Mark Twain House & Museum members and Connecticut Forum subscribers) The program on Wednesday, May 4 begins at 7 PM.  Photo: (l to r) David Greenfield, Jannell Hofmann, David Ryan Polgar.

New “Digital Cookie” Program Brings On-Line Sales to Girl Scouts of Connecticut

Another time-honored tradition has transitioned to the digital age.  Girl Scouts are now selling their celebrated line of cookies on-line.  Connecticut is one of the Girl Scout Councils across the country to be participating in the inaugural year of the Digital Cookie program – and the response has been better than expected. The new Digital Cookie program strengthens, expands, and enhances the well-known and highly regarded Girl Scout Cookie Program by “combining the values and lessons of door-to-door and booth sales with crucial 21st century business and entrepreneurial skills,” official say, “continuing Girl Scouts’ long tradition of preparing today’s girls to be the female leaders of tomorrow.”14_GSCP_digital-channel_4C_multi-color

Here’s how it works:  Prospective cookie customers are able to purchase cookies on-line, after having been contacted by a Girl Scout. (Or you can tell a Girl Scout you know that you're interested in becoming a Digital Cookie customer.) Each scout has their own personal page thru which the cookies are ordered, so the scout will receive credit for the sale, just as when the transaction is completed in-person.  Officials say that some girls will market their online cookie business by inviting customers to visit their personalized cookie websites through a link sent via email.  Others will take in-person orders using a unique mobile app designed specifically for Girl Scouts.

pin“We were excited here in Connecticut to give our Girl Scouts the opportunity to participate in a pilot of Digital Cookie, a first-of-its-kind web platform that lets girls sell cookies from their own protected, personalized websites,” said Tiffany Ventura Thiele, Communications & PR Manager for Girl Scouts of Connecticut.

“Digital Cookie represents the next evolution of the iconic Girl Scout Cookie Program, adding a digital layer that broadens and strengthens the Five Skills girl learn, while introducing modern elements like website customization and e-commerce,” Thiele explained.

Those skills haven’t changed:  goal-setting, decision-making, money management, people skills and business ethics.  With the new on-line system, customers will be able to pay by credit card and have cookies either delivered by the Girl Scout or shipped.Girl-Scout-Cookies-2015-665x385

Sales are running strong thus far.  To date, in Connecticut, nearly 38,000 packages have been sold on-line, with more than 2,500 girls participating.  In fact, orders placed in Connecticut have been shipped to 49 states and the District of Columbia, as well as to military personnel.  (If you’re wondering, nearly two million boxes of cookies were delivered this past weekend, based on initial orders taken by Girl Scouts in Connecticut.)

Nationwide, a majority of the 112 local Girl Scout councils are participating in the Digital Cookie program for the inaugural 2014–2015 cookie season, which began in January.  Additional councils expected to be on board by the end of the year, using an updated version of the program, which will be tweaked based on the feedback received from participating Councils.

mtc_raisins_w_backgroundOfficials stress that “because 100 percent of the net revenue raised through the Girl Scout Cookie Program stays with local councils, when you purchase Girl Scout Cookies you’re not only getting a delicious treat — you’re also making an important investment in your community.”

There are two new cookie options locally this year:  Rah-Rah Raisins, an oatmeal cookie, and Toffee-tastics, a gluten-free butter cookie with toffee pieces.

An informal poll on the national Girl Scouts website asks visitors to vote for their favorite Girl Scout cookie.  The top three thus far:  Samoas (30%), Thin Mints (27%), and Samoas (13%).

If you’ve yet to place an order, there’s still time if you have a sweet tooth for Samoas, Thin Mints, Tagalongs, Do-Si-Dos, Savannah Smiles, Trefolis or the two new offerings.  The Girl Scouts of Connecticut’s cookie program will continue with booth sales through the month of March, so there’s still a chance to fill the cookie jar.