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Archive for the ‘Technology’ Category

Do you have the answer?

Adam Zand (@NoOneYouKnow) commented on a previous post I made and suggested that we co-present a panel at PodCamp Pittsburgh 3 about how SM is a lot like high school. It didn’t happen due to Adam not being able to make it down from Boston and well, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to jump into my first PodCamp with a presentation.

I’ve been revisiting that ever since, when I see all of the tweets in my Twitter stream about “Top 50 Tweeters,” “Help me get to 5,000 followers!,” or “Who’s the hottest blogger?” – junk like that. Sadly, it really does seem that social media sites are progressing into popularity contests.

Why? I thought the purpose was to create relationships and share ideas, not make it about who has the most followers, comments, linkbacks, whathaveyou. True enough, there’s some vanity involved when we check out our Twitteranks, Twitter Grades, and utilize other web sites that tell us just how we measure up against our fellow social media users. It kind of reminds me of Snow White’s wicked stepmother who consulted that magic mirror to know she was still the fairest in the land. Is that really what we need to keep ourselves going?

There are incredibly smart people out there who are utilizing social media for great things, but why are only a few people called rockstars? Why can’t we all be rockstars?

What you’re doing is just as cool as what I’m doing. We might want different outcomes, but I’d like to think we could all be on the same social level, without trying to one-up each other. I don’t think, however, we can truly be social as a whole until we get rid of the labels and all of these self-serving motives (and yes, I know we all have self-serving interests in a sense) that do little more than try to inflate online social status.

I’d like to take a line that those High School Musical kids so cheesily, yet happily sing: “We’re all in this together.”

They have a point.

Do you agree? What are your thoughts on social media and popularity?

You can also feel free to email me your thoughts and I will post them in comments under anonymous or any way you’d like.

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A few days ago, I read an article that Facebook sought to acquire Twitter, but the microblogging service apparently backed out over the financials. It seems there’s disagreement over the value of the Facebook empire. It’s been appraised as high as $15 billion, but the Twitter folks believe it’s inflated from a more realistic $5 billion. To them, this meant that Facebook’s offer of $500 million in stock was really only worth $150 million.

Frankly, I’m pretty happy that the deal fell through.

It may come to pass that Twitter will be scooped up one day from a large media conglomerate. It seems it happens often. My main concern is that if Twitter is acquired, it’ll be absorbed into some service and lose its identity. I’m afraid that’s what would happen if Twitter went to Facebook. I’m already sick enough of 99% of the applications and do-hickeys on Facebook. Would Twitter just become a built-in component of the site or would the Facebook folks be content enough to let it stand alone? If that were to happen, I think the dynamic of community would largely change and not necessarily for the better.

I’m not dissing Facebook as I like it and do use it, but there’s just so much more to Twitter than “What are you doing?” I think the concept of community is inherently different for each service – while Twitter’s community seems small and inviting, Facebook’s community just feels cold and disconnected. At least, that’s the experience for me.

The biggest problem Twitter faces right now is generating revenue. The service has one part down with a user base that has rapidly expanded the last year, but like any business it has to show its backers that it is sustainable. Should it stay as a free service? Should it incorporate ads into the user experience? I think it would be wise of Twitter to spread its wings and find out, instead of taking the easy route and having another company do it for them.

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i5invest.com

Photo credit: i5invest.com

In an age where people advocate transparency online, it is also important to remember that sharing too much of your personal life may not always be a good thing, whether it’s due to professional or personal issues. Aside from utilizing Google Alerts and other services, there’s a little site called 123people that may be able to help you monitor what’s out there about you.

According to the site’s about page:

123people is a real time people search tool that looks into nearly every corner of the Web. Using our proprietary search algorithm, you can find comprehensive and centralized people related information consisting of images, videos, phone numbers, email addresses, social networking and Wikipedia profiles and much more.

While that can be a little scary, it’s also a great way to keep your online identity in check. Maybe you forgot about that tagged photo your friends posted from Spring Break or that one forum handle that you just can’t seem to remember.

I don’t know if it finds EVERYTHING, but I think you’re bound to become more aware of what you’re doing online and if there’s something you disagree with (say, someone’s posting false information), you can take steps to remove it – for a fee, of course.

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OK, can we make an effort to move on from this Motrin bitch fest? The online ads are being pulled and those in print will follow eventually. An apology has been issued and I’m sure the company is going to be much more careful. If this is what was wanted, congratulations, you’ve succeeded. Now what?

How are we going to harness all this power for good? There are far more important things in this world to worry about than a questionably offensive advertisement. Hell, I think (and there are others who’d agree with me) that there are far more offensive ads that have seen the light of day, yet I can’t seem to recall anyone really making a fuss over them.

I want to focus on something that is bigger than you, bigger than me, and bigger than all of the kerfuffle that is still plaguing the Twitter stream – people who don’t even have the luxury of engaging in this conversation because their worries are far less trivial. They worry about where they’re going to find the money for heat, warm winter clothing, whether they can have a Thanksgiving meal next week, or even afford Christmas gifts next month. They might sit behind an avatar online, but they’re in your neighborhood – on the other side of town, across the street, even next door. They are the people who matter most and I want to try an experiment. I want you to help me help them. I want us to help them together.

We know the economy is in a slump and people are tightening their wallets, which means many organizations are downsizing or looking for other cost-cutting measures. For nonprofit organizations that heavily depend on public and private donors, this could spell disaster.

The unfortunate aspect with a worsening economy is that the need for assistance has gone up, with those who may have never utilized help from charitable organizations finding themselves turning to them in desperation. The Salvation Army is just one example of organizations that are facing these issues right now.

I can speak from personal experience (disclosure: I worked for a TSA office briefly) that TSA, armed with a simple mission of “doing the most good,” is very much committed to making the world a better place and helping to ease the struggles that people face every day. Although its most famous fundraising tactic, the Red Kettle Campaign, doesn’t officially kick off until Nov. 27, it doesn’t mean that the organization doesn’t need your help now – many offices have already started to roll out the red kettles and bells early.

Locally, we’re seeing a shortfall (at least in my county) of at least $200,000 while need is increasing, and I’m sure if you looked at your own area offices, you’d see the same thing. Last year, I participated in the roll-out of a online initiative that would take the red kettle from the streets to the internet. I had my own kettle, but didn’t do much with it as there were so many distractions going on at the time.

I’m not giving up. It’s time to try this again.

I’d like to ask the community to put its power to good use and help me out. I’m starting small with a fundraising goal of $125, but would love to be able to give a much larger donation. As cliche as it sounds, every cent counts. You can even start your own!

If people can make noise about an ad, they can surely spare a dime or two  or fundraise to help those less fortunate … right?

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Part of the great thing about using today’s social media platforms is that we can develop relationships online, but convert them to offline social circles, meet-ups, tweet-ups – anything we desire. I think many can vouch that they’ve made some great friends through social media.

What is alarming, however, is when people take things a little too far and fail to separate reality from fantasy. We need to realize that while some people try to be as transparent as possible, not all do so and it could end up hurting others in a big way.

While this article wasn’t TOTALLY shocking, it is a sad telling of what could happen for people in real relationships who are becoming too immersed in the digital world.

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I’ve got nothing at the moment – again. I had a few other important things to think about today, so we’ll return to your regularly scheduled program tomorrow.

In the meantime, watch some puppies. They’ll bring joy to your soul.

By the way, with recent mentions on sites such as Gawker and Dlisted, the viewership of the live puppy cam has shot up to an average of anywhere from 5K to 7K viewers (at least that’s what I’m seeing whenever I pop in to watch). I even saw the numbers reach over 9.2K one day. Amazing.

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PodCamp Pittsburgh was not only a public forum meant to talk about social media, but also create it.

While we were off learning in the Sunday morning sessions, Chris Brogan led the charge to create a community-oriented blog that would showcase the best of Pittsburgh from the perspective of its most ardent supporters – its residents. Enter OMGPittsburgh.com.

It’s still in the infancy stage with the lack of a unique header (it’s coming) and just a smattering of posts, but what I can tell you is that already, its authors are sharing community news and their views on what they believe makes this city so great. I even took a moment to briefly recount my little journey here and why I’ve come to adopt Pittsburgh as my home.

The great thing is that whoever wants to have a voice can sign up for an account and post away. I’m not sure how many are signed up currently, but I think it is the hope of the blog’s organizing team that there will be at least 100 contributing authors.

Wow. Think about all of the different viewpoints and stories that could be shared by 100 people. This is something that Pittsburgh needs – an active voice beyond the tourism bureau and tucked away forums. Pittsburgh still struggles, in a way, to position itself to those outside of the city as a place that is growing and thriving. We know it, but not everyone else does. Therefore, it’s up to us with this initial grassroots effort to get out the word and make a case for our city.

Pittsburgh was thrust in the national spotlight recently over the whole Ashley Todd debacle. People, upon hearing the initial story, might have been quick to judge our city as violent and unsafe, but sites like Shopping Bloomfield (the neighborhood where the “attack” happened) and OMGPittsburgh (among others) will tell you differently. Take a look and give us a shot.

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