Archive for February, 2010

I’m LinkedIn, on Facebook and Tweeting – Now What? Personal Blog #1

My social networking sites are all set.  I’ve been a member of the business site LinkedIn for about a year. Occasionally, I hear from groups I belong to as well as an update from a former co-worker, but it seems mainly a place to put your resume.  Tweeting is ok.  I follow a few people, politicians, but it’s no big deal.

But Facebook.  Oh my goodness.  I had no idea what was in store for me when I signed up.  Every member of my generation is on Facebook.  They’ve all invited me to be their Facebook friend  – high school classmates whom I hadn’t heard from or seen in 30 years, college friends, relatives I see maybe twice a year, and former co-workers too.

They seem to be on Facebook day and night, talking about everything.  I have no idea how to respond.  What makes me uncomfortable are my high school friends discussing such private matters as illnesses and in some instances death.  Should I send a sympathy card or respond in some way to these traumatic events being experienced by my long ago friends?   Most of the time I don’t even know who they are talking about.  What is the proper etiquette?

Then there are my relatives who devote hours playing games called Bouncing Balls, Farmville and reporting on their scores.  I just don’t get it.

My 23-year-old law school student daughter friended me as a courtesy.  Although I have tried to resist going on her Facebook page, I have, but there’s way too much information for a Mother to see.

Having said all this, Facebook is fascinating and addictive.  During the blizzard of 2010 I could update people on the amount of snow we had and post photos as well.  It was a convenient and informative way to tell people about the blizzard.

Can the sharing of information through this social networking site make the world a better place?  We shall see.

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Do We Need a Bill of Rights For The Social Web? Weekly #3

It sounds like motherhood and apple pie.  Ownership of personal data.  Control over how that personal information is shared with others.  Freedom to grant access to personal information to external sites  That’s all part of A Bill of Rights for users of the Social Web opensocialweb.org/ authored by Joseph Smarr, Marc Canter, Robert Scoble, and Michael Arrington on Sept. 4, 2007, which sounds good on the surface.

But what does it really mean?  How should companies treat the data they collect from users of social Web sites.  How can this Bill of Rights be enforced.  Isn’t this overcomplicating the future growth and success of the World Wide Web. 

The only Bill of Rights that makes sense right now is the Airline Passengers Bill of Rights.  The new social media tools allowed stranded airline passengers who had been imprisoned by the airlines on the tarmac for hours,  to organize, unite and actively seek new laws to stop these practices.  Clay Shirkley in his new book “Here Comes Everybody” talks about this organizing success.  This is the new way to coordinate group action.  If the social web some day needs a legally enforced Bill of Rights, the new social media tools will be there to make this happen.

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Who deserves credit for being the first real blogger? Weekly #2

Many people could lay claim to being the first blogger.

Justin Hall, whom the San Francisco Chronicle called a “Pioneer Blogger” who had foreseen that journalism was going to change, or

Dave Winer, a software engineer and writer, who thought the media did a lousy job of covering the tech industry because they didn’t understand it, and who accurately predicted that someday everyone would have their own Web site, or

Jorn Barger who used the term Weblog and then became known for his controversial links, or

Political bloggers, such as Drudge, who brought their sites to national attention and are as influential today as CBS Newsman Walter Cronkite in his heyday, or 

Evan Williams who invented “blogger,” a free tool for automating the updating of web blogs which allowed millions to blog. 

This guessing game is all part of the fun of reading Scott Rosenberg’s new book, “Say Everything,” a detailed history of blogging.  It is filled with inside stories about some outrageous characters who pioneered blogging, each one building on the work of the others.

Perhaps then there is no one person who can be given all the credit for being the “first real blogger,” but that seems to be avoiding the question. So, drum roll please, I present the “first real blogger” award to Evan Williams, and here’s why:

By inventing his tool, “blogger,” Williams brought blogging to a mass market.  Blogging no longer was for the techies and super brains.   Blogging no longer required intensive labor with a limited set of options. 

Suddenly blogging was for everyone. Williams did much to enhance blogging’s popularity by allowing the ordinary people to become involved.  “Blogger” was perfect for the novice and its sign up rate jumped from 2,300 user accounts in 2,000 to over 100,000 by the beginning of 2001 and by the middle of 2002, there were over 700,000 user accounts.   During that time, Williams almost went out of business but cut costs by keeping it going in his small apartment.  By 2003, “Blogger” had been purchased by Google.  Because of this simple tool, people were empowered to start their blog or a blog for their business or their organization.

Rosenberg writes “by bringing blogging to a mass market, “Blogger” validated the idealism shared by many of the pioneer webloggers, from Justin Hall to Dave Winer and beyond–the belief that one day millions of people would pour their writing onto the Web, if the software developers and designers and Web companies would just give them good simple tools and then get out of the way.” 

Evan Williams did just that by giving the world his simple tool.  His impact is still being felt today with his latest business Twitter.

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Average Folk Don’t Have A Clue About Manifesto – Weekly #1

A  Living, Breathing Cluetrain

A friend of mine, Rob Wade, and his family were excited about the delivery of a new television the day after Thanksgiving.  What a perfect time for a new TV with all the sports and holiday entertainment ahead. 

The TV arrived on the big day but it was not the one they ordered and it didn’t work.  Rob’s wife called the Best Buy store where they purchased the TV, to talk to the manager.

Rob overhears the conversation which becomes rather heated with the Best Buy manager being rude and not willing to remedy the problem.  Rob goes to his Blackberry and twitters the following:   “I will never buy another TV or anything else at Best Buy in Arlington.”

Within 15 minutes, Rob was twittered by three Best Buy employees, all in different locations, and all offering to help, even providing their phone numbers.  In 24 hours from the time Rob had done his first twitter post, the TV they originally ordered, was installed  and working in the Wade’s home.

Oh, the power of the internet.  The power of twitter.  Or was it the Cluetrain Manifesto playing out just like the authors wrote about in 1999.

Now, I’m certain Rob, his family nor the Best Buy staff had any idea that they were a 2010 living breathing example of at least nine theses of the Cluetrain Manifesto.  But, in fact they are.

The first theses – Markets are conversations.  Rob sent his message on twitter which resulted in a conversation with three Best Buy employees.  Indeed, the market conversed a human voice coming across twitter.

Hyperlinks subvert hierarchy, another theses, was certainly proved.  Best Buy employees did not go to the rude store manager for help.  As far as we know, he was never contacted.  The employees subverted the hierarchy and solved the problem themselves.  Working together as a team, the networked market here did not let the company get in the way.

Forget the television ads selling the company, today it’s the networked person-to-person that is selling the company, another theses clearly shown in the Rob and Family versus Best Buy.  The Best Buy staff knew that all of the TV ads and promotions in the world would not change the situation unless they personally acted.

Both the Wade Family and Best Buy staff had to be laughing once a satisfactory outcome was reached.  They all had beat the old system.  Companies looking down from their Ivory towers need to lighten up when this happens and not take themselves too seriously, another important theses.

Brand loyalty, a thing of the past because of the blinding speed of the networked markets, is another Cluetrain theses.  Rob was ready to never be a Best Buy customer again, according to his first tweet.  In seconds, the Best Buy brand loyalty was gone.

Best Buy to its credit got out of the way and allowed its employees, connected by twitter, to do their job, perhaps inadvertently upholding another theses–smart companies get out of the way.  (Maybe Best Buy got out of the way because they didn’t have a clue.  Did Best Buy fire the rude manager?)

Everybody likes this marketplace better, is the seventh theses in the Manifesto.  The workers as well as the customers, all like it better.

Companies can still make money.  Yes.   In fact, that’s probably the only way companies are going to stay in business by staying out of the way and empowering their employees.

The power has been turned up side down, number nine and the final theses.  It may sound confusing, say the authors of the Manifesto, but everyone is linking up. 

Eleven years after the Cluetrain Manifesto was published, Rob, his family, and three employees of Best Buy lived it.

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