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Tag: Social Networking

Photo Credit: "Emoji Stickers | Wicker Blog" (CC BY 2.0) by Wicker Paradise
Getting Your Point Across in a Text Message

Getting Your Point Across in a Text Message

It is well documented that nonverbal communication transmits a significant amount of contextual information during personal communications. When using a written form of communication those clues are absent. The result is an increase in the chance of a misunderstanding because of the missing information. Emails have a reputation for being misconstrued and read in a negative context even when it is not intended. Email is no longer the preferable digital communication method for many people. Texting and instant messaging have supplanted the favored communication channel for many younger people. So we had a hard time understanding context when an email is used, now the problem is made more complicated as the message lengths become shorter.

Ashley Carmen wrote an interesting piece on The Verge talking about how people do not interpret emoji icons in the same way. I had taken for granted that the emoji image was standardized across devices. This is not the case as different platforms display the same emoji symbol differently. Adding these little images to text messages is a frequent occurrence. Reading her article made me wonder if the inconsistent emoji images had clouded the meaning of some of my messages. The short answer is clearly a yes. I asked a couple of people who I spoke with today about whether emoji icons had made them question the meaning of a received message. Both people confirmed they had experiences where they questioned the underlying message because of an emoji icon. Okay, a n=3 here, but I agree with the researchers’ position.

This serves as a good reminder to make sure that we are very clear in the writing of our text and email messages.

Treating text messaging as a quick communication method that does not need the scrutiny of a more formal communication such as an email is counterproductive. All communications regardless of their platform must be understandable by the receiver. There is nothing wrong with utilizing emoji images given its context is proper, but we should be aware that it may hinder the effectiveness of the message. Taking a moment to check the clarity of the message before sending it is always prudent advice. Ask yourself if this image or icon is adding clarity, authentic emotion, or introducing some vagueness that is not needed. The last thing any of us needs is to spend time explaining what our message meant when someone becomes offended due to a different representation of an emoji happy face.

Photo Credit: gross
Miss Me Yet?? No, Not Really…

Miss Me Yet?? No, Not Really…

Back in February, I decided to close or curtail the use of a significant number of my social media accounts. At the time, this radical action included the likes of Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, blogs, discussion forums, and general new sites. The first week was troubling as I felt a nagging sensation that I was being delinquent by not looking or logging into these platforms. For Twitter and Instagram, I did not have much of a choice as I closed my account. I also closed my tumbler account and unfollowed nearly all, if not all, WordPress blogs. There was a distinct feeling of loss as if my favorite security blanket went missing. I finally understood Linus.

After a month, the feelings of neglect and loss are all but dissipated. There is no sensation of obligation or failing to meet other people’s expectations regarding my involvement. There is a surprising upside to the amount of free time that has been created. It is a lot easier to find time to work out and see friends when you do not have as many digital obligations. This is not to say that I am some overgrown child that lives in their mom’s basement. We all have a lot of things competing for our time and attention and this is a surprisingly easy group of items to cut out to allows us to spend time more meaningfully with those that actually matter.

Just doing my part to keep my life a little simpler…

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Stepping Away from the Digital Life

Stepping Away from the Digital Life

Keeping up with everything is a full-time job. It adds stress and anxiety inappropriately to our lives. Periodically, I have to step away and look at how I manage our digital life. Simplification is needed to save our sanity, relationships, and give us the freedom to focus on what matters. The goal is to focus on the content that is critical to my life and career. Social media has been pared back to the interaction channels that allow me to connect with those people whom I care the most about and not the ones that provide the maximum voice. I have generated a surprising amount of free time and feel less obligated to maintain these digital connections. It is funny and a little sad that my stress level is lower as I reduce more of my digital life. The freed time is spent interacting and socializing with friends and family.

I realize that a meaningful engagement with one person brings more good to the world than superficial interactions with a thousand.

  • Twitter account: closed.
  • Instagram account: closed.
  • Facebook account: on a serious diet
  • LinkedIn account: maintaining a profile but no longer as active on news, commenting, and discussion groups
  • WordPress/tumbler: cut way back on the number of blogs I follow, comments on, and engage.
  • News websites: avoiding
  • Industry websites: following only two

I am not saying that I am jumping off of the grid or that social media is a waste of time. I want to focus on the parts of the social network that add value to my life and others. Moreover, I want real value and not just the illusory experience of superficial social interactions. I may add some of these accounts back over time but will focus on deeper and more personal interactions versus increased reach and share the voice.

Setting the Agenda and Leading the Conversation

Setting the Agenda and Leading the Conversation

Corporations and their management teams can lead and their respective market segments, but they can also lead in other areas such as industry trade groups and engaging in conversation with their customers and peers. For a long time, I have believed that the leadership team of an organization should engage in social media and Actively Participate in industry conferences in order to help set the agenda, lead the conversation regarding their industries, and help set best practices.

Companies and their leadership teams must go beyond social media and join the speaking/roundtable circuit. They will help define the very markets, shape regulation and best practice, build the company’s reputation, and highlight their strategic thinking. It is not easy to go down the path of active engagement in social media and/or speaking due to the time commitment involved. Certainly, this is compounded when most corporate social media is focused on the purposes of marketing the company’s products or services to a particular audience with the intention to move consumers along the purchase continuum. While a corporate approach (the corporation itself and not the products/services) to social media marketing is targeted to an audience, it is not typically the same audience that purchases the company’s products and services.

By engaging in conversation around industry norms and best practices, management can demonstrate high levels of leadership that enhance the company’s reputation while building individual members of the management teams personal brands. Not only does a company benefit in building its reputation and brand through peer and industry recognition, the individuals involved in the process benefit through the increased industry exposure.

It takes time and effort to engage in this level of social media and personal speaking activity. It builds the corporate brand and demonstrates industry leadership within a given market. It can act as a recruitment vehicle, tell the corporate story through the eyes of an individual, and humanize the entity. The benefits far outweigh the cost and time it takes to create, develop, and maintain a social media presence and engage in industry trade activity.

Photo Credit: Michael Cruse
Skype, oh how you bug me

Skype, oh how you bug me

I have used Skype (application used to make voice/video calls over the Internet) for the last several years and generally been very fond of the application.  Recently, Skype seems to be trying to move into a social media space with the introduction of their new “Skype Home” functionality.  This little and annoying pop-up occurs every time the application is started.

Therefore, every day I have to close this little annoying pop-up window that often comes with an advertisement to purchase something that I am already buying from Skype.  I am sorry and do not wish to nitpick, but I am already a paying customer.  Please give me the ability to turn this off.  I have scoured the net and only found numerous people complaining about the same irritation and multiple step work around that are more trouble then closing the window.  See I am not the only one upset by this “feature” and not really that crazy after all.

I regularly update the application hoping beyond hope that there will be a feature or function that will allow me to turn off this annoying and failed integration point to social media.  Skype should focus on being the best VOIP computer-based application and give up trying to integrate with social media platforms.  Sorry for the rant, but it is just really bugging me tonight, for some strange reason.

If you know how to disable this function, please share it!  You will have my eternal gratitude.

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By the way, who moderates the moderators?

By the way, who moderates the moderators?

It is no secret for people who generate online content that they often have to deal with problems that arise from participants in the comment forum.  From the inevitable spammers to the general antisocial types, it just comes with the territory.  Personally, I have been very fortunate that I do not attract the antisocial types to my various channels of online communication.  I find that the IT crowd tends to be a little more sedate.  However, this is not the case for many of the sites that I routinely follow.

I do find it crazy to see some of the comments that people make and the pure hate and discontent that are expressed.  Most sane and rational people would agree that moderators should control the insanity and purge the unduly harsh comments.  I was in this camp for a long time but have now come to the opinion that it is the community’s responsibility to control the antisocial types and not the various website operators or content creators.

NPR is instituting a “be polite” policy that will result in comments from “trolls” that do not respond to the website standards to be removed.  On the face of this, it seems like a rational action to help maintain the website standards for all community members.  This line of thinking strikes me as the homeowner association approach to online content.  I am sure most of us can express our “pleasure” in dealing with homeowner associations.  I do not believe the community members will receive this type of active policing by website operators ultimately any better.

The challenge that will arise is the subjective nature of what is acceptable and what is not acceptable.  There is just too much fuzziness in standards such as “being polite”, “do not ramble”, and “stay on-topic”.  One moderator may read the comment and considerate it is rude while another moderator may consider the same comment as poignant or witty.  I do not like the idea that my thoughts are potentially being censored or policed by someone else.  Hence, this is why I have my own blog, and I get to police most of my own thoughts.

Ultimately, the community will have to respond to website operators and the standards that they are hopefully applying consistently.  Due to the very subjective nature of this type of moderation, this will ultimately create as much controversy as the inappropriate posts that they are trying to control.  I agree that nobody likes a flame war inside of a comment forum, but the community is ultimately responsible for the standards by which it operates and not the website operators.

Teaching the new media ways

Teaching the new media ways

When does education stifle or retard technical and usage innovation? I am not sure, but it is something that I have been thinking more about over the past several months. The United States has been a hotbed of technical innovation, and many people I speak have a growing concern that we are losing our edge. Have we become over confident and lost the burning desire to innovate or does a generation simply need to absorb the changes and prime society for another creativity and innovation burst?

I recently finished reading a book (Confronting the Challenges of Participatory Culture: Media Education for the 21st Century by John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Reports on Digital Media and Learning) that makes the case on why we need to educate people of how to use online social media tools in order for them to effectively participate in the modern online culture. The book is thought provoking especially when you understand the usage differences among various groups of young adults.

After reading the book, I started to agree that we should consider the formal education of students in the YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter services of the world. Then I started to get that nagging feeling that it may be a mistake. If by educating people in the “proper” use these tools, we place them in an artificial “box” that stifles their creativity. I know that my thoughts have been influenced by the educators that I have studied under, and while they did their best to remain neutral, they did impact how I use and see technology.

I understand that the opposite can be said as well. That without a base level of understanding people cannot effectively use technology or improvise new uses and enhancements. This is a very sad but real situation of the modern era. I have worked with many people over the years that know so little about computers or the Internet that they could not participate in an online community. They are effectively locked out of participation and completely bared from being able to contribute to an online innovation.

Where does this leave us, or me? Why, I am still pondering the issue of course. Personally, I have limited my instruction that I give my children on social media and online technologies so as not to influence their usage, one way or another. I am available as a resource should they have questions, but I have opted for a more “play with it” educational approach. I am aware of my own biases regarding an online culture and do not wish to taint their views. Still, I cannot allow them to go into the wilds of the Internet unprepared so neutrality or ignoring the online danger is not realistic either.

We need to find the minimally effective education level for social media and online technologies. Give the youth of the world an understanding of the basic functions and then get out of their way. The younger generations will lead the way with new innovations provided, we do not muck up their thinking with too many rules about what can or should be done with social media and other online technologies.

The future of tech is very exciting, and I cannot wait to see what the next twenty years will bring.