Recently, I’ve been in several discussions about Connecticut blogs, so I thought it might be useful to explore various ways people can find Connecticut blogs and ways that Connecticut Bloggers can be found.
To put things into perspective, Blogspot lists 59,900 bloggers using their software in Connecticut. Over the years, I’ve been picking out various Connecticut blogs that I follow in Google Reader and you can see some of them in my Connecticut section of Google Reader.
One of the oldest and best established aggregator of Connecticut blogs is CTWebLogs. More recently, newspapers are getting into the blog aggregation business. The political section of my blog appears in the opinion section of the Journal Inquirer. The Record Journal has a Community Blogs section on there website and other newspapers are starting to follow suit.
Politics is an area where a lot of blog aggregation goes on. LeftyBlogs has been around for a long time, aggregating blogs that are about local politics. Unfortunately, they have not updated their list in ages and it is pretty incomplete.
Ballotpedia is a wiki trying to provide a better list of political blogs. It does not have an apparent political leaning. Anyone can set up an account and modify it. So far, the modifications appear to be dominated by conservative bloggers.
Moving away from politics, an interesting list is New England Bloggers. They haven’t updated their list since last December, but you can still find many interesting Connecticut Bloggers on the list and in the comments.
More recently, Connecticut Bloggers have been gathering at various events. Wendy and Cheryl both wrote about their experiences at PodCampCT where various bloggers, podcasters and others interested in social media gathered.
Then, there is an emerging group of Connecticut Bloggers that plan on meeting regularly to share their blogging experiences. Wendy wrote about the first meeting and Lisa wrote about an upcoming meeting and listed blogs of some of the participants. Another participant, Christopher, wrote about the upcoming gathering in his blog as well.
As a final note, I would like to mention a few other Connecticut Blogs that I’ve been visiting regularly recently. Grampy’s World, Small Town Mommy and Moomettes Magnificents are Connecticut blogs I’ve found through various blog advertising networks like Adgitize and EntreCard. I particularly like Adgitize in that it brings in both traffic and a little advertising revenue.
There are probably several other good lists of Connecticut blogs. If there are some that you especially like, let me know.
Note: This blog post started as a message to a mailing list of Group Psychotherapists and has been adapted.
Yesterday was PodcampCT, an unconference about podcasting and social media that I helped organize. It was also the fourth anniversary of my first message on Twitter. I spent the day talking with many people, face to face, about the role of social media in their lives. In one of the discussions, I even brought up the line I often quote from one of the keynotes at the American Group Psychotherapy Association (AGPA) annual conference in Washington, "The self exists at the intersection of our internal neural networks and our external social networks."
It seems to me that there is something important in the idea of thinking about the types of relationships that we have as a result of online social networks. As I write this, I have 1,775 Facebook friends, 3,128 followers on Twitter where I am following 2,910 people. When I have time I try to read at least 300 different blogs a day, and get at least one blog post written each day. The stream of incoming emails is endless and many go unread.
Yes, the self exists at the intersection of our internal neural networks and our external social networks, and for me, that is a very busy intersection.
The British Anthropologist Robin Dunbar, has proposed a theoretical limit to the number of people that we can maintain stable social relationships. The work was based on studies of limits to group sizes and Dunbar suggests is based on the size of the neo-cortex. The exact number varies, but is typically presented as around 150, although Dunbar's work does also explore tribes in the 500-2500 member range.
Are my connections online more tribal than an indication of stable social relationship? Or, has online technology given us the ability to maintain multiple groups of stable social relationships? e.g. In writing this message, I'm stepping into the Group Psychotherapy group of stable social relationships after spending yesterday in the Connecticut Social Media
Enthusiasts group of stable social relationships?
What does all of this do to my 'self'. Is it more fractured? Is it richer? Some combination of both? How does this relate to people coming into small therapeutic groups? How are they changing and what is changing about what they bring into a group?
On top of this, what role does machine mediation take place. I was struck by a journal entry where the writer talked about calling people on the phone instead of contacting them via email. Later, in the entry she spoke about how Facebook has produced a new form of relating to people through a machine. This really struck me. Calling someone on a telephone is also relating to them through a machine. Actually, through a collection of machines, and these days, more and more of the machines involved in transmitting the audio signal from one telephone to another are computers.
Last month, there was an interesting article on NPR about functional connectivity MRIs. They are being used to better understand what is going on with autistic children. Instead of measuring the brain size of children, researchers have been focusing on the connections in the brain. The broadcast spoke about how some connections grow and others are pruned away as brains grow, but that process seems to get delayed for children with autism and some other developmental disorders.
What particularly struck me was about how autistic brains do not function as well because of abnormal retained connections all over the place. Does this say something about how we should be managing our social networks? Was the writer of the journal entry who was unsubscribing to many of her mailing lists on to something important?
I have not unsubcribed from many of the mailing lists that I am on, but I am selective about which emails I read and how closely I read them. I still read the Group Psychotherapy list fairly closely, but often with a little bit of a delay. I often simply glance at the title or author of emails on other lists before simply deleting them, and if I find the percentage of interesting emails I'm getting on some list drops below a specific threshhold, I unsubscribe. I have multiple email addresses and go for long periods without checking some of the email accounts.
Yes, I do believe the self exists at the intersection of our internal neural networks and our external social networks. Online social media has made that intersection very busy for many of us. Changes in technology will cause this to continue to evolve and our means of handling this and what it does to our 'selves' need to evolve as well.
Years ago, I read a fascinating paper entitled Our Best Work Happens When We Don't Know What We're Doing. It had been presented at the 1999 International Society for the Psychoanalytic Study of Organizations and talked about how “learning involves working at the edge between knowing and not-knowing”.
It seems like this paper provides a useful framework for understanding Podcamps. First, I should make it clear that it is not about trying to do something that you don’t know how to do. Any attempt by me at brain surgery would be unlikely to be some of my best work. Instead, the paper talks about “the edge between knowing and not-knowing”. I should also note that it has been years since I’ve read that paper, so my thoughts may have drifted from some of the original ideas in the paper.
To me, a good podcamp exists on the edge between knowing and not-knowing. It is important to know how to create an environment where people can learn. Podcamps grow out of the open space technology and unconference traditions where learning comes out of treating everyone as an equal and focusing on facilitated discussions instead of presentations.
I write this blog post a couple hours before PodcampCT starts. We still do not have a set agenda. We won’t have a set agenda until after people have checked in and shared there ideas for the sessions to cover. Even then, there will be a bit of flexibility in the agenda. Yesterday, I wrote some initial thoughts about a possible PodcampCT agenda, but the real agenda will form as the people gather, and the list of people attending continues to change as new people register. Even over night, new people registered, and I expect we’ll have people registering at the door.
One person contacted the PodcampCT organizers writing
I'm being asked to pay $25 and maybe more to receive, well, nothing specific, but it'll be about social media. Do I have that right?
The schedule lists time slots, but no definite topics to be covered...
I'm used to implied contracts – when I sit down at a restaurant table I expect to be served food, and I commit to paying for what I order. But I'm a little stuck on this implied contract: if I give you my $25 what, exactly, will I receive beyond the opportunity to interact with other people who also paid the $25 and want to receive some value for it?
Is this kind of transaction a "new normal" for online business: give me money and you'll get, well, something, probably?
The writer received several replies pointing out that, no, they don’t have it right. Participants will received some very specific information about social media. Definite topics about social media will be explored. The issue is that people don’t know the exact details of what specific topics will be covered. The conference itself exists at the edge of knowing and not-knowing.
As an aside, when I pay my $25 at a restaurant, I often sit at the edge of knowing and not-knowing. Yes, I could go to the same restaurant everyday and order the same clams and linguini. Assuming the same chef is there with the same ingredients, I can be pretty sure about what I’ll get. However, I like try new restaurants and new dishes. I like to experience something new, and learn more about what I like and don’t like. The same applies to Podcamp, except that it is a potluck where everyone brings their favorite dishes.
I do not know what I am going to learn today. If I knew it already, I’d probably have already learned it and would get less out of Podcamp. Instead, I am going with the expectation of learning something I don’t already know.
I know a fair amount about location specific social media. I’ll check-in on Foursquare when I get there. I might check in on some other systems as well. I know that some bright people will be there who know a lot more about location specific social media than I do. I hope to sit with them and others seeking to learn from one another and discover something I don’t know about location specific social media.
I also know a fair amount about the use of barcodes in social media. I’ve written a fair amount about QR Codes. I am hoping to sit down in a session talking about QR Codes. I suspect I won’t learn much that I don’t know about QR Codes already, but I expect that some people will ask questions, most likely about use cases, that will cause me to learn something new about how QR Codes can be used.
I know the framework of the schedule, four sessions, probably between five and seven concurrent tracks, with time for networking during coffee, lunch and afterwards for drinks. I don’t know what the group of people who gather will end up thinking is important and I hope to learn something from that as well.
On one level, I know exactly what I’m doing today. I’m going to Podcamp, a chance to learn about social media. On the other hand, I don’t know what I’ll be doing. I’ll be hanging out on the edge of knowing and not-knowing about social media. I’ll be moving that edge for myself and I’m pretty excited to be going.
More and more people are, and with Podcamp tomorrow it is well past the time for me to start organizing my thoughts about whom I want to meet and talk with, and which discussions I want to attend. (For those interested in why I said which 'discussions' I want to attend, as opposed to which sessions, or even worse, which presentations, check out my post, Podcamp Reflections - #PCCT. While you're at it, check out a related blog post about REBarCamp.)
Looking at the list of registered participants, I've been building a Twitter list of PodcampCT attendees. A few other people have been building similar lists. It gives me a chance to get to know some of the people ahead of time, although I must admit, I know a lot of them fairly well already. Please check these lists yourself and find people you want to meet at PodcampCT.
The other thing I'm checking is the list of session ideas for PodcampCT. There are some great ideas and I expect some great discussions. Exactly how the sessions will be arranged, in typical unconference style, will be determined the morning of Podcamp. However, that doesn't mean we can't spend time talking about the ideas, how they might be grouped and other ideas right now. With that, I'm putting together some of the groupings that make sense to me.
Morriss has suggested Geolocation – It’s Everywhere! and Sonya has suggested Location-based social networks. The two sound fairly similar, but there is probably enough to discuss in a few different sessions. Which service is best? What about privacy? Why do this at all? How does this relate to location based advertising? How does it relate to storytelling?
Related to this is a session idea by Giulia, Continuing the Social Circle – Online and In Person Doing things in person takes place at some location. What is the location? What roles do locations play in continuing the social circle?
Suzi had a similar idea, Crossing the Online Border: Taking Conversations Into the Real World.
Barcodes for fun and profit
Barcodes, and especially two dimensional QR codes, are a topic I’ve long been interested in. It is a topic that stands by itself quite nicely. Should we use QR Codes? Datamatix codes? Microsofts 2D codes? Are there advantages to using one dimensional barcodes like the UPC codes? How can you use them to promote your business? What can be done for fun and games with barcodes? Who is doing interesting things with them? To me, one of the most interesting aspects is how this ties together with location. Typically, I see a QR Code in some location. What is the location and how does it relate to a companies location specific marketing?
Another topic that is really important to me is narrative. What is the underlying story of any event, blog post, political campaign, or social media discussion? I have plenty of stories about the importance of narrative, so much so that my business card now describes me as an “Internet Raconteur". There are a lot of different ways to approach this. Andre posted a session idea, The Power of Story in Social Movements. This sounds like a good high level discussion. There are also questions about how it relates to business and other activities. Examples of successful narratives are also worth exploring.
As an aside, it is possible to vote, thumbs up or thumbs down on a topic, and Andre’s session idea about story received a lot of thumbs up, but it also received a lot of thumbs down. I’m curious about why.
Joe suggested an idea that is closely related, What’s your Social Media success story? Perhaps Joe and Andre can collaborate on this
Narrative is especially important in journalism. A good journalist tells a story that people can relate to while providing context and important information. Kirk has suggested Getting Social with the News Media. For me, news has always been social, especially passing around sections of the Sunday New York Times on the beach and getting into lively discussions about the articles. How do news organizations take this experience and recreate it online? This could be a fascinating discussion.
Another interesting take on this is Richard’s session idea, How to engage your community and stimulate dialog?. I guess that reflects some of my own thinking. Community engagement, to me, is based on narrative and discussion. Richard writes about the quality of the traffic, which fits nicely into the discussions about SEO and analytics below.
One topic that has brought a lot of interest are tools related. How do I do this or that task? Perhaps the best starting point is a session Jack came up with, Help Me! I’m New, Where Do I Begin? This should be one of the first sessions. It may help newer people figure out how to get the most out of the day.
Paul submitted Screencasting 101. How do you set up a screencast? What tools do people like to use? I haven't really done any screencasting. I've recorded sessions, using tools like FRAPS on the PC and load-applet on the N900 , but that is about it.
Besides screencasting, there are videos. Michael suggested How to use video sites such as YouTube, UStream etc… Hopefully, people will leave stream video from PodcampCT, share their videos on YouTube, etc. Another important topic related to this is editing tools. What do you use to edit your videos?
Christopher posted Using Audio to Market Your Business: Blogtalk Radio, Talkshoe, Podcasts. This sounds like a great session. My daughter has been doing an Internet based radio show using Blogtalkradio for over two years. It isn’t about her business. If anything, it is closer to a StoryCorps idea. I’ve been interested in looking at how Talkshoe contrasts with BlogTalkRadio. I’m interested in hearing what people are doing with Skype, SIP, Google Voice and other tools. I’m interested in finding out if there are other similar services. Also, I’m curious about how cellphones fit into this. I use Skype, SIP and Google Voice with my cellphone. As with video, editing is also an important subtopic here.
My preference would be to have this be a bigger topic than simply using audio to market a business. Going back to my focus on narrative, I would like to see something like, “What are the best tools to tell your story online using audio?”
Derek suggested 3D Virtual Worlds and Social Media. I really like this idea. I’ve written a lot about virtual worlds. This can also tie nicely into the various discussions about video and screencasting. I am a big fan of machinima and I’d love to see some machinima podcasts. A great illustration of what can be done with this on a very simple podcasting style is Virtually Speaking a talk show done in Second Life and simulcast on BlogTalkRadio.
Betsy has posted Teach me SEO Basics. I often dismiss SEO as snake oil salesmanship, yet I try to use as many SEO techniques as I can. My site is built on Drupal which is well set up for SEO. I joined in a great discussion about SEO basics at one of the WesternMass Podcamps. Charlie, who unfortunately won’t be able to make it, suggested I need more web traffic! This seems to fit nicely into a broader discussion of SEO and other ways of building traffic.
Betsy also posted Teach me How to Understand and Interpret basic online analytical tools. I play a lot with Google Analytics, Compete, Quantcast, Alexa, internal metrics and other tools. It is a great topic that people really need to discuss. It also fits very nicely with the SEO topic.
Much of this relates back to our online identities. Sherry has suggested Handling “handles”. How do you manage multiple Social Media accounts?. Another suggestion I saw, but can’t find now, is about managing email. That one seemed fairly specific about moving from Outlook to Gmail, but I think the bigger and more interesting issues are around how we handle our email, in terms of having multiple addresses, and perhaps multiple personae related to the addresses, how we organize the emails so we don’t get overwhelmed. All of this fits nicely into Sherry’s idea.
Tim suggested a closely related topic, Managing my social media time, or Let’s get real – I’m already busy running my business!
This post was created as a fairly quick perusal of session ideas and adding in a few thoughts of my own. I hope people will spend a little time thinking about what sessions they find most interesting and I look forward to seeing everyone tomorrow.
This list includes:
- Social Media Marketing: Strategies for Engaging in Facebook, Twitter & Other Social Media
- Facebook Marketing: Designing Your Next Marketing Campaign, 2nd Edition
- Facebook for Grown-Ups
- Sams Teach Yourself Tumblr
- Sams Teach Yourself Twitter
- USING WordPress
- Blogging to Drive Business
- 2011 Social Media Directory: The Ultimate Guide to Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn Resources
- USING LinkedIn
- All A Twitter
- It's Your World, So Change It: Using the Power of the Internet to Create Social Change
As I spoke with a representative of Que Publishing, I suggested asking PodcampCT attendees if they have read any of these books, or other Que Publishing books that would be of interest to other PodcampCT attendees and they are very interested in the feedback.
Have you read any of these books? Any other Que Publishing books about social media? Which ones did you like best? Why? Were there any that you didn’t like? What was wrong with them?
One of the things that I really like about Podcamps are that they are discussions, were everyone’s opinion is valued, and not simply presentations. Already, I am getting into some great discussions about Podcamp. Hopefully, we can get into some good discussions here about books Podcampers would like, and most importantly, I hope everyone signs up for PodcampCT before it is too late.