Young People Use Social Media

Last night I went to a meeting of the DC chapter of the Social Media Club, a group of like-minded people who are into “sharing best practices, establishing ethics and standards, and for promoting [social] media literacy.” It had a great time.

The most fascinating part of the evening was the average age demographic. There may have only been a handful of people over the age of 30. It was all 20 somethings who work at PR firms.

I think it was a testament to how much the younger generation depends on social media as a way to disseminate information. It’s something that can’t be ignored. The organizations that are ignoring it are getting left behind or have been left behind in the dust.

So does your organization use social media (blogging, podcasting, social networking) as a tool for getting its message across? How receptive has your management been? What tactics have you used to achieve by-in?

BTW – One thing I was slightly bummed about last nite. Debbie Weil, one of the thought leaders on corporate blogging and a Washington DC native, stopped by but I think when she saw how young the crowd was didn’t stay long. Hopefully I’ll get a chance to meet her again sometime soon.

How do you discover new media content?

Everyday, I find more and more content on the Web. I can imagine for someone who doesn’t work on the Web for a living that having this plethora of content at your finger tips can really be intimidating.

How do you make sense of it? How do you find the good content online that you trust? How do you separate the wheat from the chaff?

How do you discover new media content?

Twitter – Blogging with Instant Response

One reason why i’m starting to really dig Twitter is that it allows for blogging with instant responses from your readers. If you have a question about anything, you can ask it of your Twitter followers. If people have an answer, you’ll probably get a response right away.

Being able to tap into your social network and get instant feedback is a pretty powerful feature.

3 Tips for a Compelling Second Life Simulation

I’ve been playing with Linden Lab’s Second Life for a couple of years now. My roommate in college was into it from the beginning. At first, I thought he was crazy but I slowly started to understand. Before too long, I could tell that Second Life was going to become something that we’d all want to pay attention too.

Recently, it seems like every major media company has launched their own presence in Second Life. Every couple of days you’ll read about it in some major news publication. This is great but when you go to the company’s Second Life simulation it’s typically empty.

There are three things that you can do which will help save you from this same fate of Second Life simulation mediocrity.

1. Create an amazing environment
When I walk on to your Second Life island, I don’t want to feel like i’m standing infront of just any old building. Create something exciting. Create a place I’d love to travel to but can’t do it right this second, like the other side of the world. Create some place that is only a fantasy, like something out of a book. If the experience of the environment is good enough, I will want to come back there again and again.

2. Create great community
Second Life allows for me to interact with other people that are across the country or on the other side of the world as if they are standing right next to me. This is very powerful. This allows for some pretty amazing cross cultural exchanges. If you can bring an interesting diverse community of people together that I can’t get easily in real life, I’d come back to the simulation.

3. Create great activities
In Second Life, you are not bound by the same physical or social boundaries that you are in everyday life. This allows a more wide range of activites to take place that you wouldn’t normally be able to do at the drop of a hat. You should create activites in your Second Life simulation that are fun and that I wouldn’t be able to do otherwise. For example, I recently went skiing down the side of a big mountain with a variety of friends from across the world.

You can mix and match or even do all three and you will have a great Second Life simulation. It will spare your fate from becoming just another island in Second Life that no one comes to.

Self-Expression, Search, and Life Context

After reading Danah Boyd’s “Blogging Outloud: Shifts in Public Voice“, I got thinking. I really wonder why the context of the creator’s life work isn’t more so taken into consideration when a user is searching for something on the Web.

Before the Web, a person’s various writings, creations, and expressions were individual separate items. Now with the Web, we live our lives online. Our lives are on display through the user-generated content and the online social networks that we participate in.

Our various self-expressions don’t have to be taken as disparate items they can be really looked at with the context of the creator’s whole body of work.

How much more could a search engine learn about Web site if it was seen along side everything else that that author has created?

Would a search engine be able to understand how well thought out an issue is if it understood the other times that an author thought about an issue? It could show the difference between a fleeting thought and something that a user has been researching and musing about for a while.

Could the content of a web page have subliminal meaning that would only be understood if it was judged in relationship to all the other works that went around it?

You don’t ever have individual thoughts. My thoughts build upon other thoughts which build upon other thoughts. My blog isn’t just a conversation with my readers it displays an evolution of myself. It is a conversation between me and history.

With technologies like OpenID (a single online identity), we can tie together expressive works across multiple disparate systems. I have written short stories using Ficlets but written blog posts using WordPress. With OpenID, the short stories and blog posts can be tied together to the same author.

NOTE: I dunno…this has been just rolling around in my head. I have been probably drinking too much coffee. If this post doesn’t make any sense, humor me.

Having Great Content Isn’t Enough

One truth that I’ve been learning lately about generating content for the Web is that having great content isn’t enough. You have to understand what your users want and you have to understand the nature of the community that you’re trying to get across to if you want to be successful with getting your voice heard.

Prior to the World Wide Web, there were so few sources of knowledge and wisdom that were speaking. Just being out there and communicating meant that you were probably an expert in what you were saying.

Now, how many new blog posts get written everyday? How many YouTube videos are created and how many stories are submitted everyday? There is more user-generated content then any one person can consume. There is such a low barrier of entry for creating content.

I think that everyone deep down has something to say and something that they are trying to express to the world. Everyone should have the ability express themselves and their ideas. The $100 million dollar question is how do you find the good ideas that resonate with you and your community.

There are some really smart people who are working on these problems. How do you find the great Web sites, music, books, blog entries, podcast, or videos among all the rest which will meet your interests? Do you depend on DJs, experts, friends, your community, or a computer algorithm to tell you what you should keep your eye on?

Text Messages Take Priority Over E-mail

I have learned that for me, e-mail is broken. I may get an email that I need to respond to. Then right away I may get 60 or 70 other emails that will shove the important email below the scroll. It goes off my radar.

All of a sudden, I find that one important email falls between the cracks and I don’t end up getting back to a person. This is bad. I get too many emails where people expect me to read it right away and act right away.

The device which has really come through for me is my mobile phone and the ability to text message. Not too many people text message me; compared to my over abundance of email. Text messages come to me right away. (My Samsung Blackjack doesn’t have push email.) Text messages, by their nature, are quick and easy to respond to.

I’m able to give text messages a higher response priority then my email. I’ll respond right away.

It was interesting when Chris Wetherell on a recent episode of the Merlin Show and Justine Ezarik on a recent episode of MacBreak Weekly confirmed this communications phenomenon.

With Twitter, people can have the updates of their friends and family go right to their mobile phones via text messages. If people can constrain themselves to only follow their close friends (and not 1000 people) with Twitter, text messaging may help Twitter take off because it takes advantage of the high priority that people put on text messages.

dotMobi Mobile Web Developers Guide

The Mobile Web is the future. Good reliable resources are just starting to trickle in. Blue Flavor’s Brian Fling and the dotMobi crew have set the bar high with their dotMobi Mobile Web Developers Guide. Check it out. It is a great resource.

Do you use the Mobile Web? Do you develop for the Mobile Web? Any Mobile Web resources that you’d recommend?

The Online Social Interactions Stack

In our day to day lives, we have many different types of social interactions. There is the quick innocent flirting, the short broadcast messages, the free flowing conversation, the ramble, and the structured prepared thought. Just like real life, there are different types of online social interactions.

In the beginning, there was blogging. People used blogging for everything. People blogged short quick thoughts, the blogged long drawn out diaries of their day, they blogged Bob Dylan lyrics, they blogged structured opinions, and they blogged photos of their cats.

Recently, we have seen different types of online services that allow for different types of online social interaction. Every Web early adopter crowd can’t stop talking about Twitter. Merlin Mann is in love with Tumblr. Who doesn’t use either WordPress, Typepad, or Moveable Type?

In a recent episode of This Week in Tech, Leo Laporte talked about how blogging, Tumblr, and Twitter were all important to him because they served a different need that he had. Leo is absolutely right.

I propose the Online Social Interactions Stack:

Level 0: Quick Personality & Life Updates
These are quick updates of what is going on in your life or the life of your organization, either aimed at the whole world or a specific group of people. These communications should be under 140 characters. Twitter is the best example of a tool for this type of communication.

Level 1: Free form expression
These are your unstructured thoughts. This is for when you have something you want to express to the world but you don’t know exactly how to do it. You’re not exactly sure what you’re message is. You just want to get it out there. Tumblr is the best example of a tool for this type of communication.

Level 2: Prepared and well formed thoughts.
These are the types of thoughts that you have taken the time to structure and plan. There is a beginning and an end. You know what you’re trying to say. There is message you’re trying to get across to your readers. WordPress or Typepad are the best examples of a tool for this type of communication.

What do you think of the Online Social Interactions Stack? Am I missing anything?

AOL Launches Ficlets – a platform for collaborative story writing

Today, AOL launched Ficlets. The Web application is a platform for users to write short stories. The stories have to be greater than 64 characters but less than 1024 characters. You don’t use Ficlets to write your book. You use ficlets to because you get to collaborate with the world.

Users are encouraged to read other people’s short stories and then build on top of them by either writing a prequel or a sequel. If you find another short story that you like, you can take it in your own direction. Its kind of like the campfire stories that you told to each other growing up and everyone got to tell one part of the story. When you were finished, there was this amazing creative work before you.

It gives you the ability to log into the system using OpenID. I had never used OpenID before. It was surprisingly convenient. I used this blog’s URL as my identifier.

Within Ficlets, you can identify other writers who you want to follow, to be your editor, or to inspire you as a muse.

You can browse through Flickr photos and use them for inspiration.

The best is that all content that is created in Ficlets is under a Creative Commons license.

Feel free to check out my profile and some of the short stories that I have put together.

Ficlets is something that Jason and Cindy have been hinting at (usually calling it ProjectX) for the last couple of months. I’m glad to finally see it launched. I really love the site and I can’t wait to use it more.