Social Networks

Entries related to social networks, group psychology, anthropology, and really any of the social sciences.

Podcamp WesternMass

Podcamp WesternMass is tomorrow and I've been following some of the discussions about ideas for different sessions. There has been a bit of talk about '101' sessions, introductions to various aspects of social media. I always worry about these sort of sessions, where there is an information based power imbalance; the person leading the session having lots of information, and many of the other participants mostly having questions. I know these sessions are important, but I prefer dialogues between equals, so I haven't stepped up to facilitate a session like this. If I did, I'd probably want to talk about broad based strategy issues. What is your goal or mission? What is your message? What is your audience? Perhaps a little bit of a discussion about metrics and all of it leading back to the ideas of intent and impact.

Intent and Impact are issues that I'm particularly focused on these days. What is your intent when you follow someone on social media? When you retweet them? When you post something of your own? What is your intent when you post or share a political comment or a cute picture? How does this fit into group dynamics and parallel processes between groups? How does it relate to Zeitgeist? I wonder how much other people are thinking about this or are interested in talking about this?

I'm also especially interested in some of the more geeky discussions. My good friend Joe Cascio is going to be talking about Bitcoin. I hope this will be a lively discussion, perhaps tying in other issues like alternative non-dollar based currencies, micropayments, point systems and other rewards, etc. I wonder if anyone else there is playing with Raspberry Pi. I could talk a little bit about that, but it probably wouldn't be a great discussion unless a few other geeky people gathered and we shared ideas and brainstormed about what could be done with Raspberry Pi.

Staying on the geeky thread, I'm interested in augmented reality. I was accepted into ProjectGlass, which means I may be getting a pair of Google Glasses soon. What will I be able to do with these? What else is out there for augmented reality? What else is out there for immersive glasses?

One of the things people talk a lot about with Google Glass is taking pictures and videos. We've seen Instagram take off. What else is happening or coming in digital photography and videography? Anyone playing with Vine? What about creating your own Instagram like filters with Photoshop or Gimp? Are their other video tools people should be looking at?

Here, I'm especially interested in mobile, and I wonder what else is coming in Mobile. What are some cool things people are doing with mobile that I'm missing? Are there tools to encourage creativity? Audio, pictures, video production and editing tools? HDR? Panoramas? 3D photography? New ways of looking at creativity? Anyone playing with SuperColider on Android? (I haven't had a lot of luck with it yet). How about Creatorverse? Ingress?

This gets me to what I think was the most valuable session for me from Podcamp last year. I think it was supposed to be about Evernote. I like Evernote. I'm kicking around Google Keep. I've used Onenote in the past, and I'm wondering if there are things that I can be doing with Onenote at work. I've also been interested in mobile audio note taking. "Note to self" spoken into the cellphone to launch an app that does speech to text note taking. Maybe there will be some discussion about these apps at Podcamp WesternMass.

However, only a couple people showed up at the Evernote session, so we sat around sharing ideas. I learned a lot about Evernote that day, and especially ideas about using IFTTT with Evernote. If you haven't checked out "If This Then That" and your a serious social media person, then you're really missing something.

I guess that gets to what I like best about Podcamps, going to sessions where you discover something unexpected, maybe even as the session goes off topic, and everyone gets engaged in the discussion. Because after all, engagement is a key goal in social media and it should be in Podcamp as well.

So, are you interested in any of these topics? Are there other topics your interested in? Let's build the discussion and momentum going into Podcamp WesternMass.

RIP Alan Jobe

The other day, I saw a bunch of headlines about the death of Boris Berezovsky. I guess he was some important Russian who fled to England, and I mourn his death the way I mourn the death of any person. To quote John Donne,

Each man's death diminishes me,
For I am involved in mankind.

I looked through the local obituaries to see if there was a recent death around here with which I could compare Berezovsky's death; the death of an important person to those close to him, to those involved in mankind, but stripped of all the intrigue of a Russian Oligarch. Each obituary seemed both too close and too distant at the same time.

There is enough going on in my life right now, so I didn't write anything. Then, I found out that my boss' wife's grandfather died on Saturday. It was not unexpected. He had been in hospice. The family had gathered around him during his final hours, unlike Berezovsky who appears to have died alone. The wake is today and the funeral tomorrow, but I couldn't juggle the schedule to be there.

So now, it is evening. Kim is off at an event. Fiona is working on homework, and I am checking in on my connections on social media.

On Alan Jobe's Facebook timeline, I see a message,

Alan passed away 3/25/13 of a stroke at 7:50 PST.
I know he told me a lot how he loved having so many friends on here.

Alan and I have been friends for a long time. We were friends on Facebook, Twitter, Empire Avenue, EntreCard, and I suspect several other places. We had a lot of friends in common, mostly people who explored EntreCard and Empire Avenue. Yet, I never met Alan face to face, just as I haven't met many of our mutual friends face to face.

On the 21st, Alan put up a blog post, Gay As Hell or Where’d My Audience Go?. He reflected on how he has had more interaction at other times, and how things like 'mission inflation on Empire Avenue' may have affected his traffic. Several people stopped to write saying they were still there, still reading, but not interacting as much for one reason or another. Others stopped to write about what was going on with Empire Avenue.

So, I pause to say yet another goodbye. I'm too late for him to have read my comments while he was still alive, but I hope these words will mean something to the members of my online community that were friends with Alan.

I continue to keep my connections with Alan on all the social media sites where we were connected. It is the right thing to do.

A Podcast Presentation Tool - @bufferapp and @Tweetchat

On March 30th, PodCamp Western Mass will take place. Already, people are brainstorming session ideas. I've written about PodCamps several times in the past. What is the Difference Between a Good Podcamp and a Great Podcamp? is the blog post that perhaps best captures my thoughts about PodCamps.

A good podcamp does not have people coming in to do presentations. Presentations are done by self professed experts trying to tell other people something important that they’ve learned. There are places for presentations, but I don’t think podcamps are one of them. Presentations reflect a major problem in so much of online media today. Everyone wants to talk, and no one wants to listen. A good podcamp is one where everyone goes to listen and learn.

With this, I thought I'd share my latest favorite presentation tool, a tool that should work well for Podcamp. I've used it for a couple presentations and I know a few other people are thinking of using this idea.

On the screen where the presentation is being projected, instead of projecting PowerPoint, I project a Tweetchat using a predefined hashtag. I set the update speed to 5 seconds to try and minimize Then, I load up my talking points in Buffer. I set Buffer so that it won't do any automatic updates until after the presentation is scheduled to be over.

Then, when I do the presentation, I bring up Buffer on my Android phone. It should work the same way for iPhones. My tweets are their waiting for me, and I can click on the option to send each tweet immediately to twitter as I get the the tweet in my presentation. Within five seconds, it shows up on the screen.

What is also nice about this, is that gives everyone else a chance to add their thoughts to the discussion on the presentation screen.

For those who believe that presentations should follow a 10-20-30 rule, ten slides, twenty minutes and thirty point font, buffer helps with this, if you are using the free version of buffer, you are limited to ten tweets. When I do important larger presentations, I upgrade my buffer account to the paid version.

The problems I run into are trying to see what else has been added to the discussion, responding to it, and dealing with some of the delay. However, it is a great way of doing presentations and a skill I'm working on enhancing.

So, anyone up for some Buffer/Tweetchat enabled presentation/discussions at Podcamp Western Mass?

I Get My News….

Today celebrates the tenth anniversary of the launching of Blog for America. Over the past ten years, I've followed a lot of different blogs and used various tools to do so. Back in 2005, I wrote about using Flock, and Bloglines. I used quite a bit, but over time started using Bloglines more. Both were shutdown and then resuscitated. Flock never really did much for me, but I did end up using Rockmelt quite a bit, including some limited RSS capabilities.

When Twitter came along, I started spending more time with Twitter, and my wife even made a shirt for me with the line, "I get my news on Twitter".

When Blogline shutdown, I moved most of my blog reading over to Google Reader. Now, it has been announced Google Reader is shutting down, and I need to figure out where I go next. A lot of people have been writing a lot of blog posts about the end of Google Reader and what to do next. These have varied from recommending Feedly, news blur, and The Old Reader. Others have spoken about using IFTTT and a 'read later' site. The option that seems like it comes closest for me is the revitalized Feedburner.

Things that are important to me are the ability to look at all unread blog posts, or unread blog posts on specific blogs. It is important to me to be able to have many feeds. Currently, I'm following around 500 different blogs. Bloglines does all of this fairly nicely. The one thing that I'll miss when I finally move off of Google Reader is the mobile abilities. I haven't been able to find a bloglines client for Android.

Another thing that I liked about Google Reader is that besides having a mobile client, you could also read your stories on Flipboard. Hopefully, there will be the ability to read feeds stored from Bloglines or other sites from Flipboard and other mobile apps as well.

Other sites have suggested using newer news services that select what they think I'll be interested in based on topics. So far, other than Google News, none of these have really been all that interesting to me.

All of that said, I have three months before I have to move off of Google Reader, and I wouldn't be surprised to see lot of new developments between now and then.

If any of you have recommendations for good RSS/Blog readers, let me know

The EPIC New Facebook Newsfeed

The ‘Evolving Personalized Information Construct’ is the system by which our sprawling, chaotic mediascape is filtered, ordered and delivered. Everyone contributes now – from blog entries, to phone-cam images, to video reports, to full investigations.

Recently, I introduced a colleague to EPIC: The Evolving Personalized Information Construct. It was a video made in 2004 about the future of journalism.

It talked about the importance of things like eReaders and video, not quite getting the details right, but predicting a lot of what has happened over the past decade. For example, it suggested that Google would buy TiVo to corner the online video market. Instead, they bought YouTube. It suggested that Sony's ePaper would become the medium of choice, instead of mobile devices. And, it suggested that the challenge to Google would be from Microsoft having bought out Friendster, instead of Facebook becoming the 'social news network and participatory journalism platform [that] … ranks and sorts news, based on what each user’s friends and colleagues are reading and viewing and it allows everyone to comment on what they see.'

They also suggested that the evolving personalized information construct would be Google's and not Facebook's.

I thought of that video today as I listened to the announcement of the new Facebook newsfeed. In fact, during the presentation, Mark Zuckerberg even used the world evolving numerous times.

The creators of Epic challenged us, nearly a decade ago, to think about what happens to journalism in the age of social media. Perhaps, they merely scratched the surface.

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