Thursday, 24 September 2009

How To Get Hidden

I said in my last post that i feel it's important to use each social medium for what it's meant for,. and to use crossposting to get your material seen as widely as possible.  I also said that it's important to avoid crossposting loops where the same piece of information appears three or more times in a row, and this is why:

The same piece of information, three times in a row, reposted by various crossposting mechanisms so it finally ends up filling my Facebook stream with what ends up being just spam.

This is the quickest way to get on my facebook "hide" list, and no doubt on many others' hide lists too.  And that's counterproductive, because now you're not getting seen by those people on that social network.

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Monday, 21 September 2009

S*cial St*ff

Have you been noticing the shift in social media and networking?  I've watched as (90's) the personal web page flourished and was replaced with blogs and content management system backed sites.  I watched as ICQ and MSN Messenger converged on blogs and suddenly became systems like Jaiku and Pownce and Twitter.

Blogs are still popular today, I skim over literally hundreds of articles every day.  But I'm seeing the popularity of blogs waning, and I can see why.  So why am I writing this in a blog article?  It's a slightly long story.  And that's part of the reason.

I've been noticing people whose status updates read something like "I really need to give [Twitter|Flickr|my blog] some attention."

And I've resisted the urge to say anything to those people, and just watched...  Some work it out, some don't.  For instance, I watch that person and see them tweet twice, then go silent on Twitter, their picture updates dry up on Flickr. And with that, their social network loses an arm or a leg.

The problem is that microblogging, photoblogging, videoblogging, podcasting, and lifestream apps are each just one facet of one's network.  And sites like Facebook are alluring because of their integrated approach, so many people end up on there, or on whatever the latest and greatest aggregated SN site is, and stop using the others, other than on a sporadic basis.  Now, I figure across all my social networks I might know 2,000 - 5,000 people.  Many of them are in multiple networks, because I (like the majority of us) look up the people we already know when we first join a new medium.  But quite a few - not so.   They are on my Twitter and my Flickr, but not on Facebook or Friendfeed or Plurk.

I find that I'm shunning the blogs I write, because a short paragraph and a link on FB is so much easier, and reaches about the same audience.  Most of the time that paragraph is too short to becoem a decent article, and too long to fit in Twitter's 140 character limit. Yet I want my friends on all the networks to see it.  What to do?

Disambiguate.  Long word, means don't let people guess who you are.  I'm "teddlesruss" across all my networks.  People can see my name and my avatar picture and they become familiar with that, no matter what site they find it on.  It's a bit like brand recognition.  If you can't get the exact same userID on every social networking site, consider either getting as close as you can to the same across all sites, or else perhaps re-branding yourself with a tag that you can use uniformly across all the sites.

If you're "" on one SN site and "JimboC" on another and "VenturaAce" on another, then I'm not likely to connect the dots without a great deal of help.

Integrate. I find that by letting my different updates on different sites also update the other sites, that informs a lot more of the people in my contacts lists.  There are mechanisms that let you rebroadcast your updates from one medium to the other.  You may need to look for them and figure them out, but it's worth it because your message will go out to more of the people you know. (Or are trying to reach - so there's your lead, Big Company Wanting To Use Social Networking To Our Advantage...)

I use a variety of inbuilt and third party tools to make sure my status updates propagate nicely.  Something to look out for is to avoid "loops" where a service (say, for example) tweets a status message, then posts a status update to facebook, which promptly publishes another tweet containing the exact same text.

Discriminate.  In the sense to discriminate between the purposes that different social networking tools are designed for.  Hence (finally!) the reason for this blog article.  Blogs are suited for longer articles where there's a lot of ground to cover.  My blog posts get picked up on facebook and posted as Notes.  People get the first few hundred characters, and can either read it as a note on Facebook, or follow the link here to the blog. Meanwhile, a third party app announces the blog post on Twitter, with as many characters as will fit.

And Friendfeed and so forth each have their own mechanisms to pick up the new blog article and publish it to my stream.  And so forth.

That leaves just one thing. Obviously I can't make a blog article shrink enough to fit in one tweet, and I don't want to publish the whole lot as a 140 character serialisation.  Luckily, the answer here is just plain good news writing.

Intrigue.  In the first 140 characters, you have to plant the hook you want, the one that will pull people into following the link in there. Good newspaper practice was to make the first paragraph the "hook," but now thanks to modern technology, we have considerably less space than that to make our pitch for attention...

- - -

And that's about it. Don't abandon Twitter or Flickr just because facebook has status updates and a photo album, don't forget that your videos should still end up on YouTube and Vimeo, that your Friendfeed friends who aren't on Twitter would still like to know if you published a blog article.  And try and work in each medium live and exclusively at least several times a week.

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Monday, 14 September 2009

Rabbit Romances

Funny how little things can take over your life.  Like li'l rabbits.  Just waved goodbye to the last of a litter of seven, and realise how big a hole they are going to leave after just ten weeks...  For instance, I've spent most of those ten weeks learning new things about rabbits.  Deep, meaningful stuff like how they'd cluster together on the lawn until they saw that I was sitting with them, then they'd relax and scatter around and play.

And less meaningful but way more important stuff, like - did you know that a pair of rabbits will mate as soon as the doe has given birth?  And by the time you find the second litter hidden among the hay and bedding in a totally different part of the run, they've already done it again?  So yeah, I won't really have a chance to miss the first litter before the second one has already started developing personalities and acting cute and adorable.

And that third lot were born Sunday morning 13 September sometime, so I really won't have time to miss the middle litter.  And no, there aren't going to be any other litters for a while because I physically separated Eddie from Peta with a crowbar and a huge bribe of carrots as soon as I realised he'd done the dirty dancing thing for a third time...

Apropos of which:  I also learned from the WA rabbit club that females are hyperfertile as soon as they give birth.  Which explains why Eddie was running up and down his hutch beside the night hutch, poking his nose and front paws through the netting and with this really cute soppy expression on his face.  You could almost hear him saying it "Oh you're so... so fertile baby!  OMG I want you!"

He's such a pushover for a hyperfertile female...

But to save his pain we took him for a run on the lawn to burn off the feelings, and moved him to a run where he's not quite so assaulted by the scents and sounds of hypersex.  I learned something else from rabbits today.  Two things.  Carpe diem, seize the day.  Because one day someone's gonna put a run of netting between you and the object of your desire.  And also, I learned that love is a chemical.  A bunch of VOCs drifting on the air, a scent of pheromones, one hankie dropped and a flash of lace, and you're poking your nose through the bars and singing love songs...

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Saturday, 5 September 2009

Don't Post It? Whyever Not?

The Yahoo article is right - we have ever more ways to disseminate and post information.  About us, or our business.  Or for others to post that information, whether sanctioned or not.  But I'm not sure the article goes far enough into the matter. I've got news for the people who say that these social networks are such a ruin for normal social etiquette.

They ARE the new social etiquette.  

See, there are all these people out there stuck in the past.  Did they learn from history?  Not likely...  To them, it's new and they haven't found their footing in the new society, so it's automatically "bad" and "disruptive."  Once again, I seem to find myself one of the few in my age bracket that gets it, and in fact from that article it seems that many younger people don't get it, either.

It all revolves around that elusive concept of privacy, and the lengths some people will go to, to get it.  But think back - in early times as far as humans go, it was quite normal for 10 - 40 humans to live together in a cave.  Privacy was non-existent under those conditions.  Even later on, the head of the village was quite entitled to walk in and tell you you were doing it all wrong.  As it was, pretty much everyone knew everything about everyone else, and whatever you did, was public knowledge in as little time as it took to whisper it in the marketplace.  People built their own private caves, but developed new ways to figure out what the neighbours were up to, and better ways to disseminate it.

Now the older school of social interaction says that news carried by physical letters is quaint and old-fashioned, and email is the bomb.  But Twitter or Facebook updates are just not right, not kosher, not "real social communications" because they don't have "control" of information about themselves.  They never had it before, either, but they are prepared to overlook that because this new stuff is just so evil and invasive...

I have a very much larger circle of friends now than I ever could have had in the late 70's.  Despite working on a large mining site, living in a mining town, working as an announcer volunteer on community radio, joining a local music club, and starting a computer hobby club with about 30 members, I imagine that the number of people I regularly interacted with in a year would have been about 100.

Today, I have four times that many people I regularly interact with on Facebook alone.  Twitter adds about 200 more and includes many friends off FB, and then Friendfeed, Plurk, Flickr, Tumblr, and various other such sites probably take the number of individuals I interestedly follow and chat with to close to a thousand.

If one of those friends is having a baby and someone else posts the sex of the baby, that's fine with me.  When they send me the email with the picture on the tummy, I'll be as effusive and congratulatory as if I'd just that moment found out.  More, in fact, because I'd have had a little time to prepare for it.

If someone else lets slip that the friend is getting engaged I'll send them a congratulatory private message, I won't post it on their Wall for all to see - because I understand how to use the two for their relevant purposes.  Once they post the announcement publically, I'll issue a public congratulation too.  The private message says "I know about this because I am interested in you and your life, but I see you haven't made it public so I'll maintain silence for you" while the public acknowledgement later on lets everyone that I indeed am a friend of them and support them.

The problem with all these new means of communication aren't the technologies themselves, it's the fact that most people don't think before they type.  Everyone has a couple of friends whose Wall posts to one another are even embarassing (or coma-inducingly boring and irrelevant) to third parties.  Instead of taking such sensitive matters to a private mail or a direct tweet, they are using the public forum as though they were the only ones in it. Often to great detriment, as those people who lose jobs because of it will attest.

If there's one piece of advice I'd like to offer the friends of mine who discuss little Billy's ingrown penis wart (or whatever other insipid drivel they are airing in public) it's to imagine themselves looking at their public profile from the outside.  THINK before hitting the send button.  

That's honestly all it takes to avoid becoming the subject of a Yahoo article...

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