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Strategic Social Media comes around Spring Quarter at the University of Oregon. Look for new content in April 2010.

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March 20, 2010

Is Social Media Turning Us Into The Matrix?

June 2, 2009

In eight days I’ll finish my MBA.  Great, right?  Well, without an obvious “next step” (translation = no job), I’m right back where I started two years ago.  Uncertain times like this drive me into a big picture, naturally reflective state – “What should I do with my life?” “What do I value most personally?” and “Is social media turning us into the Matrix?”

Ok, maybe that isn’t your typical what-the-hell-does-it-all-mean question, but this is a social media blog, so work with me.

Neo emerging from the Matrix looking nasty!

Neo emerging from the Matrix covered in goo.

In the Matrix all humans “live” in plugged in cocoons that facilitate all of their interactions electronically.  They see, talk, hear, feel, taste, etc through gigantic (and rather nasty) plugs that connect to their brain.  No physical interaction is necessary; it’s all done electronically.

I first noticed the Matrix at the University’s Student Recreation Center.  Everyone was plugged into their iPods or the exercise equipment, no talking, no looks, just zombie-style power walking and Stairmaster.  Everyone is in the same place but very much alone.

The Matrix also lives on the bus, where college students text, IM, surf the web, and talk on their phones.  No face-to-face interaction, only electronic communication.

The Matrix is most prevalent, however, in class.  It’s no secret that many (most?) students are on Facebook, Google Chat, Twitter, and email consistently during lecture.

Any bets on how many of these students are doing school work?

I'm sure they're all following the lecture.

This isn’t necessarily a good thing or a bad thing; it’s just an observation.  I think we can safely say that social media has increased the ability of all of us to be, well – social – at least electronically, but with networks much more diverse than we were able to maintain before.

But what price do we pay for social media?  Is social media decreasing our ability and comfort with communicating physically, through face to face interaction?  After all, when Neo emerged from the Matrix, his body was weak, he had to heal and build strength before he could survive in the real world!

While I’ve been amazed at the amount of interaction that students maintain through social media, I’ve been slightly underwhelmed by their ability to translate that electronic interaction into physical interaction.

No one talks to each other at the gym or on the bus.  In class, people might Google Chat about lecture, but not ask questions verbally.  I’ve had group members who remained silent during group meetings only to unload all their thoughts in a brain dump email after the meeting was over.  A number of my fellow students question the value of meeting face-to-face period, saying “we can all just figure it out through email.”

Could it be that the more you use social media, the more comfortable – and reliant – you become on it as a means of communication?  We all know it’s tough to introduce yourself to someone face to face, and it seems that younger generations are practicing that interaction less and less.

I spent some time researching this topic (or at least as much as could be expected from someone who is graduating in eight days) but was unable to find a direct answer to my question.  There are a number of articles posted on both the perils of social media usage in the classroom, and the potential benefits.  One article proclaims that continuous connection to electronic devices is killing face-to-face interaction, while another suggests it could actually create dissociative disorder.  I found a couple of people asking the same question, one from his video blog, and another who realized he was being unsocial while on his computer during a Superbowl party.   There is even a survey trying to figure out the answer!

Lucky for me, I don’t have to find an answer.  I can use this social media interface to ask – WHAT DO YOU THINK? After all, social media is all about dialogue and creating conversations.  So let me know:  Is social media turning us into the Matrix?  As electronic communication facilitates more and more of our daily interactions, will it decrease our real world ability to connect face to face, or at the very minimum, devalue face to face interaction?

I’m all ears – or eyes, I guess.

Jesse Thomas

jthomas@oregonmba.com

http://twitter.com/jessemthomas

facebook:  Jesse Thomas

Surfing the Web with the “Google Wave”

June 1, 2009

Next time when you’re on your computer surfing the web, watch out for the new wave quickly approaching; that is Google Wave.  As if Google doesn’t have enough presence on the internet already, it is now taking on a new direction heading towards the HTML 5 standard with their new application.

Google Wave was developed by Lars and Jens Rasmussen, and Stephanie Hannon as a tool combining email and instant messaging in a program with a layer of added functionality.  It is a service where users are able to communicate and collaborate together with richly formatted text, photos, videos, maps, and more.  Wave has a left-hand navigation tool bar and list of your contacts, a main wave inbox screen, and a number of indicators that shows when new content has appeared in the thread.  This original wave thread can then be opened up into another pane where you can instant message friends, upload pictures, make edits wiki-style with group collaboration, and add new wave members all in real time.

The Google Wave is in early stages of development and will only be a preview of what is to come from this new platform of communication.  Google’s plan is to introduce the wave in three phases; the first is to introduce the product as a web application, second where developers are able to get involved and make gadgets and sites for the wave, and third to fully launch the Google Wave protocol.  Once these phases are implemented, here are some scenarios of what can happen on Google Wave:

  1. Multi-person thread. If more than one of your contacts is online at the same time you are, you can talk with multiple people together in real-time on the same wave.  You can either start typing and your friend can see the message instantly, or delay the message being sent by going into “Draft” mode where you can save it and send the message when you want.  If a friend arrives late in a group conversation and wants to catch up on what is being said, they are able to rewind the wave using the “Playback” feature.  They are then caught up as they watch what was being said and can now add to the dialogue in real-time.  On the other hand, if two people want to have a private conversation they can break away from the shared wave.  They are still able to see the context being written by other members while only communicating to each other.
  2. Dropping Pictures into the Wave. If a web browser is already opened, pictures can be uploaded onto the wave to share with other people.  Once you drag the photos into the wave on your end, everyone connected to you can collaborate together to make titles for these photos or create slideshows for others to see.
  3. Blogging. This can take many forms on Google wave.  One option is for users that have their own blogs.  If you have a personal blog and want to share it with others on the wave you can allow people to see what you are contributing to the blog in real-time.  The visitors can join you, write on your blog, and place this information into the original wave.  A second option is for users who want anonymous collaboration from people on the wave for your site.  People can sign in with a comment user name or wave name, and make anonymous additions to the blog.

Now after reading more about the Google Wave, I had to wonder: Will this “new web” platform take off like developers are expecting or will people just be confused about what the wave really is?  I have to admit, the explanation behind communicating with friends on a wave, breaking off into another wave to chat privately, and still uploading pictures onto the main wave started to boggle my mind.  However, I soon realized that this product is only early stages of development and can only become clearer on how to use it when the protocol is introduced.  The Google wave has the potential to redefine online communication, blogging, and online social networks.  As one blogger commented, “a wave is shared, a wave is live.”  When this product is introduced in the near future, my question for you is: will you jump on the wave?

For more information, here is a preview of Google Wave at Google I/O:

http://wave.google.com/

External Links:

http://www.socialmediatoday.com/SMC/97584

http://www.techcrunch.com/2009/05/28/google-wave-drips-with-ambition-can-it-fulfill-googles-grand-web-vision/

http://googlesystem.blogspot.com/2009/05/google-wave.html

By Ashley Smith

Passion and the job search in the age of Google

May 30, 2009

I used to play tennis. I was obsessed with mastering my serve. I practiced endlessly to master that movement and reduce it to one smooth motion. The end result? A solid connection that looked almost effortless, my opponent stunned, and – thanks to my preparation – my victory in the match assured.

Sure, it looked good. It looked easy. But it wasn’t. Success in anything rarely is easy, but if you prepare yourself before hand it can look easy. Heck, it can even look downright impressive.

Let’s think about finding a job. You’ve mailed in your résumé, cover letter, and – if you’re smart – letter of reference. What happens next? Your potential employer Googles you.

“But Kai,” you whisper to the monitor, “Why would they Google me!?”

I’ll tell you, friend. Because employers are finally wising up. They’ve realized that we’re being stupid and putting whatever we want online. They want to hire the best person for the job and we both know that the person your résumé claims you are, well, isn’t 100% accurate.

On May 3rd, Rachel Reuben, the Director of Web Communication and Strategic Projects at SUNY Tweeted something very scary and very exciting:

What does this mean? It means change is afoot. It means that your serve isn’t as good as you thought it was and that it’s time to break it down and see where improvement can be found.

Recently another #J412 student wrote a post on ‘Maximizing YOUR online presence.‘ They raised some excellent points:

  • Assess your online presence.
  • Register Facebook and Twitter accounts
  • Create a Search Engine Optimization strategy

Everything they suggested is great and spot on, but I think we can take it a step further. First, let’s talk about what they’ve suggested.

  • Assess your online presence

This ties back to Googling yourself. Go on. Take a moment. Google yourself. Don’t worry, I’ll wait.

Welcome back. Here, while you were gone I pulled up a copy of the Google results for my first and last name without any quotes surrounding them.

I highlighted pages I've created to 'brand' myself online in yellow!

This simple Google search pulls up a few pages. My Facebook; my personal web space / online resume; my Twitter; my tumblog (blog on Tumblr, a popular microblogging service); my LinkedIn, an interview I participated in; an article I wrote for my newspaper, The Comic Press; my old digital presence’s twitter screen name, and my personal Google profile. When an employer gets my résumé and Googles my name, they find a digital presence that I’ve worked hard to put together. It isn’t perfect – yet – but it’s getting there. I have control over what they see.

I’m not sure what the Google results for your name look like, but there are a few things you can do to start improving your online presence and digital brand:

  1. Register a LinkedIn and start using it. Or, if you already have one, start using it.🙂
  2. Consider buying a personal domain name. I’m an advocate for http://www.firstnamelastname.com, but if that’s already taken don’t be afraid to get creative! http://www.firstnameresume.com, http://www.hirefirstnamelastname.com, and http://www.imfirstnamelastname.com are all great options that give you a start at a digital presence.
  3. Register your Google Profile.
  4. Consolidate your online brand. What is your most common screen name online? Do you contribute to discussions related to your field under that screen name? If so, is it on your résumé? What happens when you Google that? Does anything should up that you don’t want people seeing? Is your ‘other’ screen name professional?Up until last week I was ‘NinjaKai’ on a bunch of sites. Now I’m ‘KaiSDavis.’ ‘NinjaKai’ was great; I really enjoyed the screen name. But it wasn’t as professional as I wanted / needed. I decided to consolidate my online presence under the single banner of ‘KaiSDavis.’ This raises my Google results for that search string and helps me have a stronger digital presence.
  5. Participate in conversations. Twitter, blogs, comment threads, forums, interviews, email lists, google groups… The list is literally endless. Tons of options if you want to participate in conversations and, frankly, that’s the best way to go about this.

    Say you want a job in sales. But not just any sales position. You want into wine sales. You love wine. You’re passionate about it and not in that “Oh god, the wine guy is talking to me at this party, help!” way. We’re talking about a deep, burning passion where you tell 5 friends about a new Pinot Gris at a local vineyard and they all rush out and buy a bottle.If you’re that passionate about something – anything – why not talk about it online where it’s easily indexed? Find a forum where people talk about slot car racing and start earnestly talking about it because you love it. Your employer will Google you and see ‘Hey, this hoopy frood cares about something. That’s cool!” Maybe that’ll get you the job. @garyvee said it and I can’t stop believing it: It’s about passion. It’s about finding something you care about and feeling it, loving it, and living it 24/7!

Now there are a few points that I differ from my fellow author on:

  1. Registering a Facebook account is a great idea, if you fall into a very small set of people. Facebook is a ‘walled garden,’ which basically means the content is not indexed in Google, Bing, Life, or Yahoo. Which is great if you’re using Facebook to share pictures with friends. Not if you’re trying to use it for SEO to maybe get a better job. Of course, you could open up your Facebook account for the public to see, but then they get to see all of your inappropriate pictures. A better idea is to sanitize your existing Facebook account and open it up to the public for all to see. Delete those inappropriate pictures, put up a couple of nice photos, and you’re good to go*.
  2. Twitter. Ah, Twitter. Twitter was built on the idea of answering the question “What are you doing right now?” That can get boring and lead to a surplus of tweets saying “Typing on Twitter! Duh!” A more exciting idea is to answer the question “Why are you doing what you’re doing right now.” Most importantly, Twitter is about having conversations. You wouldn’t walk into a room at a party and start spamming your friends with one liners about your day, don’t do that on Twitter. Follow interesting people. Engage in conversations. Participate. If you start talking with people, you start making connections. More and more I see Twitter as a mixer or a cocktail party. A 15 minute intermission at a wonderful play. Everyone is milling about and talking about ten dozen things. Don’t stand in the corner or try to dominate a conversation. Find an ongoing conversation that you care about and start participating.
  3. Blogging is a dangerous thing. I’ve become more of a fan of a personal / professional online resume than a blog. Blogs demand content. Blogs demand an update schedule. If you start blogging three times a week and then suddenly crash down to three times a month, well, that can reflect poorly on you.If your posts are interesting, you can post infrequently and still have a large following. If your posts aren’t that interesting, you have to ask yourself why you’re blogging. Is it for Search Engine Optimization (SEO) for your ‘personal brand’? SEO is great, but only if it’s something positive about you that you want people to see, and maybe you don’t want your new boss to find your livejournal just quite yet! On the other hand, if you’re passionate about something, start a blog about it. It’s better to have a blog detailing your hobby that you’re passionate about than to have http://www.yournamehere.com with two posts about how passionate you are about the Internet. From 3 months ago. As the first results for your name.

One of my favorite metaphors of late is that of a garden. Let’s say you want a garden. Maybe you want to impress your friends. Maybe you want to grow vegetables to eat. Who knows! What matters is that you want a garden. Now, let’s say you start the garden one day and maintain it for a month. Then you forget about it.

Sure, you’re gonna get back to it someday and you tell your friends about how busy you are and you just don’t have the time, but you think it’s awesome that you tried gardening and it totally is a great hobby!

Then someone comes over and sees your weed covered garden. It doesn’t leave the best impression. They start to make assumptions based on that encounter, extrapolating that because you just forgot about the garden, you’d do the same with something – anything – else. A relationship. A job. Heck, even the blog that this garden is a thinly disguised metaphor for!

To be fair, the garden is more of a metaphor for your entire digital presence than just your blog. So here’s the question: is it better to have no digital presence than a messy digital presence?

Answer: Trick question.🙂 It’s better to have a clean and well managed digital presence.

If you don’t have the time to update a blog then don’t start a blog! Set up a resume page that looks decent (feel free to email me and we can bounce ideas off of each other about what that should look like!) and leave it at that. If you’re passionate, then blog! But only blog about what you’re passionate about.

So take the time and do a ‘personal audit’ of your digital brand. Google your name. Google your nick name. Click around. Find anything awkward? Look around your Facebook and delete photos, notes, or comments that you wouldn’t want your boss to see. Take some time to start refining your digital brand, your online presence. With time, eventually it becomes easier and soon enough you look like a professional.

Love,

Kai S Davis

*A funny story: A friend set his Facebook profile to private – 100% locked down – and started applying for management jobs. He gets a friend request from a very attractive woman who claims they met at the bars a few weeks ago and she just tracked him down. Of course my friend accepts the friend request and doesn’t put her on any restricted list. She turns out to be a fake account registered by an agency one of the companies he applied to hired to screen applicants. My friend’s carefully laid plans of hiding his pictures of binge drinking / partying / smoking were thrown aside and he lost his dream job.

How can YOU maximize your online presence?

May 29, 2009

print by melbyprint by melbyfootprint302897_sand_footprint

With the scarcity of jobs available today, it is important, more than ever, to stand out among your peers and other people competing for the same jobs as you. During the pre-interview phase, many interviewers will Google you to learn more about the type of person you are. So not only is it a good idea to clean up your Facebook and Myspace pages while you are job searching, but it is also very important that people, especially potential employers, can easily find you in the blogosphere. If interviewers cannot easily find you, they could assume that the reason your name doesn’t come up on the first, second or maybe even third page of google is that you are not involved with social media and that could cost you the job.

To build an online presence there are two main things that need to happen. You should establishing  your digital footprint by creating a Facebook account, Twitter account and perhaps a personal blog. These three platforms are great ways for you to start building presence online as well as credibility and a reputation if you haven’t already. The second step you must take is create a search engine optimization strategy to drive people to your sites.SEO in basic terms is a method of targeting viewers who are interested in what you have to say or offer.

So how do you use search engine optimization to maximize your online presence? First you are going to start with keywords. You are going to choose keywords that you think someone might type into Google or another search engine to search for you. If I was trying to optimize myself in the search engine, I would choose my name and the name of my blog as two of my keywords because those are two things that I would expect people to type in when searching for me. Once you have carefully selected your keywords you will infuse the keywords throughout the body of the content. It helps to include keywords in headlines as well. It is important that your content doesn’t turn into a blob of your keywords. Your content should be well written, unique and valuable because that is what readers expect. 

Another key element in search engine optimization is credibility. Credibility plays a huge role in your page rank. Your page rank is determined by how often you update your page and how many people link to you. Therefore, it is important to update your page regularly and create a name for yourself in the blogger world by reading, commenting and linking to other blogs. People will start to link to you and that helps to build your credibility, which raises your page rank.

Twitter on your TV: Has the social media site gone too far?

May 28, 2009

twitter

Headlines recently broke the story of a new television show concept: Twitter might soon be taking over your TV. Twitter, a social media website in which users can post everything from pictures to vital information such as what they had for lunch, was founded in 2007 and grew to 7 million users in just one year. The popularity of the website is not only evident by numbers but also recognition.

I should mention before I further discuss the possible production of the television program that I typically shun social media. Facebook and Myspace are foreign words to me. Before I enrolled in J412 I had only heard the word Twitter but never knew anyone who used it or what it was all about. That changed drastically after I became a member in order to feel in the loop with my classmates and my professor. Suddenly my previous reservations changed to excitement and curiosity. What is this “follow” option I wondered? Oh, I see, I can keep track of a person or organization and the things they write will be posted to my home screen. It took me about ten minutes of searching through followers of followers to discover what I had been missing. I felt connected to a secret society where people shared interesting articles, funny video clips, and most importantly unknown happy hours at up and coming bars. If this is social media sign me up. It took a few conversations with a roommate and fellow tweeter for my previous reservations to resurface. She “Follows” only celebrities and loves that she can “keep track” of what they are doing. The phrase she used was slightly disturbing. Twitter began to scare me again.

Enough of my personal qualms, the issues of access into the lives of others are starting to get wide-spread recognition. These issues were brought to the forefront in the media with the announcement that Twitter a television program that uses Twitter is in the works. Will it show people doing activities and then writing an update on themselves on their personal Twitter page? That would certainly make for dull programming so luckily this was not the idea. Unfortunately, however, the way the social media site is being transformed onto the small screen is arguably distressing.

The model for the show would be Twitter fanatics using the site to track their favorite celebrities in a competitive manner. Long Pause. Twitter gurus Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher have expressed their distain for the show. Ashton, who has over 2 million followers which is an embarrassingly higher number than President Obama, tweeted: “Wow I hope this isn’t true I really don’t like being sold out. May have to take a twitter hiatus.” Some may say if you don’t want people to be following you than you shouldn’t have personal information up anyways. Demi responded by saying, “The difference is I am sharing of myself vs someone else exploiting me. That is the incredible gift that Twitter has created.”

While some reports are stating that Twitter is in fact teaming up with Reveille productions and Brillstein Entertainment Partners to create the unscripted series the social media site rejects this notion. Twitter has issued a very definitive answer to the rumors around the show. Biz Stone, a co-founder of the site, said “Just to be clear, Twitter is not making a television show.” He went on to say, “Some Hollywood folks are developing something that leverages Twitter and they are extremely enthusiastic as evidenced by all the media hubbub yesterday and today. We have little to do with their efforts but we wish them success.”

Part of the fun of this site is found through the usage of celebrities. The popularity has stemmed from its strong celebrity support and it will be interesting to see the potential fall-out if they begin to feel exploited. Will more stars decide to forgo their beloved tweeting, or will the television program never come to be? We will just have to wait and see how this unfolds, as for me I think I might have to tweet about it until then.

Kelsey Parsons

To explore this topic yourself, please go to the following sites:

http://www.businessweek.com/the_thread/blogspotting/archives/2008/11/the_downside_of_1.html?campaign_id=rss_blog_blogspotting

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-1189177/Twitter-ye-Demi-Moore-Ashton-Kutcher-threaten-quit-Twitter-reality-TV-reports.html

http://tv.yahoo.com/news/article/urn:newsml:tv.tvguide.com:20090526:1006329__ER:1

http://omg.yahoo.com/news/ashton-demi-to-break-up-with-twitter/23002;_ylt=Aj2in6I4aAmh9oDmmoZrP8.CfNdF