Archive for February, 2009

When # is useful info

February 27, 2009

Between the US Air splash landing in NYC’s Hudson River, the Turkish Air crash in Amsterdam and a host of other news (Bali, Dar Fur etc), Twitter (and other social sites-Mahalo, Beebo etc) have gotten a lot of cred as a source for news.

For someone such as myself who is the “gate keeper” for traditional news the question is how can we harness this great flow of information–and make it a plausible and usable experience to someone who is seeking out news and information from a “traditional” news source?

There is a pretty strong argument not to worry about it. Make it clear the source (a search of the # tags) and let the users work it out–its what they do on Twitter, Tweetdeck, Twirhl and wherever else they consume. Or we can right extensive algorithms that filter the API’s and try to manage the experience. But that of course opens up a whole other set of discussion–big, bad media is tainting the story, and muting voices.

The reality is, no matter what any of the big media outlets do with Twitter-big media is a bit targe. See what happend to my professional colleagues at ABC News last week.  The good news is they tried.  As has my network. Here is a sampling.

Watch as this unfolds–and be proactive.  Let us (or me right here) know what works and what doesn’t work. Yeah its a brave new world out there–and we can change it all one post at a time.

The Contrarian View-Questions to Ponder

February 25, 2009

OK-contrarian is a little strong-call it another view.

I met the S/O of a friend last night and among the topics we covered was social media–and what we see as the  differences between Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, Plurk etc.  To set the stage for this–Jenna was introduced to me as the “Queen of Social Media” because she is on Facebook and Twitter.  Her boyfriend is on Facebook only, and well, “I update my status there, and that’s enough,” w as the argument.

Jenna countered with Twitter is a conversation.

I countered with leveraging tools like FriendFeed or Plurk you can update all of the networks concurrently–so there is no additional updates.

Jenna and I then briefly discussed update versus conversation.

This morning from Twitter I found out about the Turkish plane crash, reaction to Obama’s speech last night (did anyone else find amusing all the members of Congress live Tweeting during the speech?), a fire in Queens and some good industry reading that I was able to buzz.

But I did not engage–I was strictly a consumer. Others though were engaged in the two way via Twitter, something that is much tougher to do on Facebook.  So perhaps I should further think through my automatic updates from Ping that spread across my networks–am I doing a dis-service to the networks by at times simply doing a status update when there are consumers looking for conversation?

An Unexpected Boost

February 23, 2009

So my Sunday morning (and in fact most of my Sunday) did not go exactly according to plan–but there is a happy ending to it all, so I guess I should not complain.

It was about 730, and I was on my way home and getting off the LIE notfar from my house.  Suddenly, although my foot was on the gas pedal, the car was not accelerating. It was still moving, the engine revving, just not going over 25 MPH.  I knew the problem.

With some cajoling I got it to a service center I knew would be open on a Sunday, if for nothing else to confirm the worst.  My 8 year old (150k miles) Saturn has a blown transmission.  According to the diagnostic, the car was not seeing second, third, fourth and reverse.  About what I expected, but not good.

So, what does all this have to do with social media you ask?

This is where it all comes together.

Partially because I was going to start dumping plans for the day, partially because according to one of the Twitter analysis services (I can’t remember which one) and partially because it was something to do, I put out an update that I was off to the land of the car dealer.

On my way I got a DM from Twitter from one of the best negotiators I know with some tips on how to position this instant purchase to my advantage-thank you, it worked grat.

I got a Facebook message from an old friend who’s husband has  a couple of used car dealerships in his portfolio-could be a destination for what is left of my Saturn.  Thanks.

I got a slew of recommendations on cars. Always helpful since I was going to make a car purchase with no research.

And when I settled on the Forrester, I got information on the costs and sticker prices seen in  CA, MA and TX.  Again thanks for all of that.

WOW.

A couple of Tweets/FB updates and I had a negotiating strategy, research, well wishes and a possible disposal of my old car.  Now that is effective since the car dealership I was going to is no more than 20 minutes from my house.

Outside of walking away from financing under 4%, $5k off sticker and a dealership that jumped through hoops to put me in my car on a Sunday–there is a great case study here about the true power that these tools can harness.

Just for the fun of it, last night, I started to Google a little bit of new car information, and I was well into it for 45 minutes, with not nearly the progress I made in less than 20 from posting on Twitter and Facebook.  and I still did not have a full picture or the comparative analysis.

Yes, I have a pretty broad network (perhaps too broad).  But its a great tool to tap into–because I am not an auto-motive expert by any stretch.  I am not a keen negotiator by any stretch.  But yesterday-because of my extended network, I was.  And when I needed it, it was there.

So thank you to all who shared with me yesterday, and I look forward to helping–as I did ot a friend who dropped their Bold into a sink.

We’re all in this together–and unless we are getting direct TARP we need to help one another (OK that was a little political).

Tools of the Socialization Trade

February 18, 2009

I was talking with a friend who carries a BlackBerry about upgrade options the other day. She is adamant about wanting an iPhone.  When I asked her why, I am pretty sure the answer came down to the apps (hell, Apple has an app for woman to track their menstruation).  So, being the semi-geek that I am, I started talking about the other options in the market–from the BlackBerry Bold or Storm, to the Android to the soon to be release Palm Pre.

Fast forward to this week–as the Mobile World Congress convenes in Barcelona, there is some exciting product news about Android, Pre, Nokia and more — that will make being in touch easier, and should make the social media experience (from Twitter, to Facebook, to My Space to new platforms) easier.  Already these devices have LBS/GPS and plenty of location based apps.

Check out the latest from Palm on the Pre:

Not to be outdone, Google announced new handsets for its open source Android:

And Nokia will enter the app business. Check out this live blog of the announcement.

So now the question is, what will Apple do to keep the place its cut out by being first in market:

Coming of Age in a Social Media World

February 10, 2009

Sometimes its funny how disparate events can get you thinking.

In this case a couple of things made me think about what is the right age to introduce social media to kids.

Case Study 1:

My niece is about to be 12 and she and her friends all have Facebook pages.  After taking a look at them, I realized that she combined with her friends were not being internet smart. When I spoke with her parents, they pleaded Facebook illiteracy.

Case Study 2:

At the birthday party of a friends daughter I had decent conversations about Facebook, Twitter and text messaging with kids older than mine (in the 9-15) age range. Also saw the devices some of the older kids were carrying (impressive). Now I am waiting for my kids to point this out to me.

Case Study 3:

(and this is a verifiable true story) While sitting in a Starbucks with someone in the industry discussing mobile and social media the actress Renee Zellweger who wanted to know more about what we were talking about.

So, three very disparate interactions, but all based around the concepts of social media and how we can and can’t interact with one another.

I am trying to think about this from the perspective of my kids or my niece–coming of age with all of this–and the conversation I had with my sister-in law who is Facebook illiterate.  She was telling me how my niece will text over talking on the phone (I will too) and how she really did not understand how the interactions between friends on Facebook played out.

Now I admit to being pushed into this stuff professionally–and enjoying the crap out of it.  But for someone who is coming of age with all of this–Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, Social Median, Stumbled Upon etc all out there– in the You Tube generation–its a different perspective.

Suddenly there are no boundaries, and the world is a smaller place. My friend from sleep-away camp who lived in Texas and was in a different time zone and needed coordination to call is now just a simple text away. It makes a difference.

But that instant contact capabaility also changes the dynamic–and lets face it, when I was 12 the “long distance bill” was something to think about as I chatted with a friend in Montreal. Today, there is no such thing.

So, while the world is now readily available as we come of age in this social media world, we have to think about the consequences–when is there too much information out there.  A good friend of mine had her world’s collide recently when her professional life collided with her private lifestyle.  My conversation with my niece was about what she and her friends collectively post about themselves on Facebook.

As a parent its one of my greatest fears and hopes–that my children are able to harness this power and safely have these great experiences that for me was about a pen, paper and stamp.

What We Twitter (or Plurk or Ping) and When

February 5, 2009

An interesting discussion occurred in the CBSNews.com newsroom yesterday. It involved CNet correspondent Natalie del Conte, CBSNews.com correspondent Cali Carlin and a CBS News photographer about Twitter.  This convergence of people came about because Natalie was being interviewed about a segment she did on the CBS Early Show yesterday on the new Google Latitude.

The photographer (who is just getting onto Twitter so I won’t share his name until he is more comfortable) is trying to figure out if Twitter is a good utility for him and is something he can sustain.  Natalie and I were telling him about the media folks who run the gamut who are on Twitter including NBC’s Jim Long, CNN Steve Brusk etc.

The commentary turned to my Twitter/Plurk/Ping stream–and basically its about going to the gym at 430 in the morning, the weather I encounter on my way, my morning LIRR commute and my morning web-surfing where I check to see if the world is safe.  The latter is accomplished by perusing my Google reader, Social Median and Digg primarily, and then I will buzz my Twitter followers for cool links.

But it got us talking about what we Twitter and when, why and where we Twitter from.  Now Natalie and I are pretty regular users of Twitter.  Cali and the photog are on the cusp of jumping in.

I think the goal is to offer some level of controlled voyeurism into our lives.  Not that it is all that glamours, but it kind of is an opportunity to put stuff out that we want.  On my Twitter roll is Ashton Kutcher, Demi Moore, Tina Fey, Katie Couric, Shaquile O’Neil–and they all do different things with their Tweet stream.  But I think in the end its still a way to manage their public discourse.

And from that discourse we establish our social network, and the social networks of our friends, families and followers. 

I think its fascinating when New Media Jim (an NBC News Washington based photographer) takes us behind the scenes at events he is covering. I wish my network had a photographer doing the same thing–it shows a different side of the news.  The same way as when Katie Couric popped out a quick video of her green room interview with Joe Torre:

Its about connecting, making connections and delivering to our audience–not unlike TV, web or mobile.

#Superbowl and the $%&*(@^% Feeling

February 2, 2009

OK, so one of the cooler aspects of Twitter, and something many of the other sites and services (I am thinking Friend Feed, Plurk etc), is the ability to group updates with the “#” and then view them as a running commentary.

But this is also one of the biggest distractions of the service too.

Case in point-last night’s Superbowl.  Now I was not what you would call glued to the game. In fact, the game was on, and I was helping a neighbor move some boxes and furniture around in his new home.  From time to time I would check in on the Twitter world – since there I would get the prime plays, the great commercials and generally an update on the game.

Oh yeah, and a lot of “Steelers rule,” and the helpful “Go Cardinals,” and the equally useful “that call sucked.”

Before anyone jumps up on me, I get it-Twitter is an open platform and all of the users have equal ability to use it in the way they see fit.

But there has to be a way to make it more useful to the reader, without compromising the content creator.

There was some great stuff in the stream.  Comments about the games, the plays the commercials.  Thoughts from the people really into it, thoughts from those being social about it and thoughts from the fans.

Too much of though was buried by just chatter–the stuff the mutes a community and does not make it grow.

Yeah, $2M for 30 seconds of Superbowl air time and the cost of my $.02 simply priceless.


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