Showing posts with label online identity. Show all posts
Showing posts with label online identity. Show all posts

The #IceBucketChallege, Activism and Spotlights

So by now, many of us have heard about the #IceBucketChallenge for ALS.  A good amount of us have participated in it and still others have written and reported upon it.  This has been an interesting campaign that has been highly success for the ALS Association in raising awareness of the illness and what the organization does.  I was recently tagged and performed my own #IceBucketChallenge with my fiance since we were both challenged by her brother.  Of course, we followed through with a donation (above the $10 mark for each of us) and we nominated others to meet the challenge and to donate.  Here is our video:



There are plenty of people doing it but there are also lots of questions and concerns being raised about it as can be seen from the Twitter stream:


And of course, it was interesting to see how some people have tried to build upon the success of ALS and encourage support for their own causes such as the #SunBlockChallenge from BexxFine who does fundraising for the Melanoma Education Foundation.  


ALS in the Spotlight

We were nominated on Tuesday and planned to do it on Wednesday (you have 24 hours to accomplish it).  But between Tuesday's nomination and Wednesday's execution, I read a post by a friend on Facebook that got me to thinking differently about the whole thing.

The debate about whether the ALS #IceBucketChallenge is actual activism or slactivism has created lots of writing and reflecting.  There are plenty of examples online wherein the people performing it get it all wrong, fail to mention ALS in their video, fail to donate, or fail to make themselves more aware of what ALS is and the whole reason for the #IceBucketChallenge.  This criticism of the viral movement can be understood and has clear similarities to the Kony2012 viral movement.  Of course, there are differences here too.  Each action (whether you go for the bucket or forgo it) should entail a donation to ALSA and they have reported a significant increase in donations compared to the previous year (currently, well pass double the amount from last year).  While some still argue that more time and money are being wasted, I think that's questionable at best.  Giving and receiving donations are tricky things and there has to be some stickiness to encourage people to do it.  In this case, that people are "nominated" or tagged to do it, that there's some entertainment, and some pressure (24 hours) generates a more rewarding and engaging experience and that's important for both the people donating and the organization.  We have this ideal conception of all giving being this altruistic approach with nothing to be gained from the giver but the reward of giving.  And while there are kernels of truth in this, we also live in a system (capitalism) that repeatedly tells us that this is not the way to operate and therefore, we often need more than just that good-feeling to motivate us to act charitable.  Coupled with this, of course, is the fact that so many different causes pull at our heart-strings, it's hard to decide which ones to pick.  


And Then Robin Williams Changed The Game


The post that my friend posted, struck a chord--not just in me--but in many of his friends as well.  In the post, he raised the question about where we should shine spotlights and while ALS is important, it's sometimes hard to recognize the attention that it is getting and how the discussion around mental health and suicide is much trickier to deal or as easily rally people around.  




Image: Robin Williams.  Source: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/0/05/Robin_Williams_2011a_(2).jpgThat Robin Williams--a man that made so many people laugh and smile--a man whose movies so often found the inner hope within all of us--should commit suicide is a bit heart-wrenching.  It also reminds of that depression and depression-associated suicide is an equally real and tragic experience for everyone around.  In that, there's a horribly democratic element to depression that can also make it harder to talk about or create a rallying movement around.  After all, if it affects 1/5 of the population, it can be hard to feel like there is much that can be done.  It's also a sinister thing, depression.  It can lie in the shadows waiting to strike hard directly or suffer the person a thousand little cuts. I have another friend who posted the following about depression while writing this post that I thought in many ways got to the center of the challenge.  


Eryk Nielsen - Thoughts on Depression Part 1
  
Eryk Nielsen - Thoughts on Depression Part 2

Now for regular readers of this blog (all 2 of you), I've mentioned before about the trials and challenges I've had with depression and suicide attempts.  In reading about Robin Williams' cause of death, I took it a bit harder than I would have were it another celebrity in part because Williams was such a centerpiece of entertainment growing up, but also because his roles and messages carried  much meaning for me and were often uplifting.  One of my favorite movies of his and one that had a lot of impact on me while I struggled out of my depression and suicidal tendencies was What Dreams May Come.  It was a film that gave me another way of thinking about death and helped me think differently about a lot of things related to depression and suicide.



My friends both connected ideas that were circling in my head and many others out there who were reconciling their experiences or experiences of people they cared about.  Like Neil, I don't mean to belittle the #IceBucketChallenge but would like to acknowledge the importance of mental illness and the ways it impacts many of us directly and indirectly.  To that end, in addition to donating to the ALSA, I also decided to make a donation to National Association of Mental Illness to help find ways of helping others who find themselves unwell and unable to help themselves.  I would encourage you to donate as well if you have felt the impact of mental illness in your life.  

But more than donating, I would encourage you to reach out not just to people who you know have mental illness but just to everyone in your circle.  I think one of the biggest challenges around depression, suicide and the like is that it often goes unnoticed.  It is often an invisible illness.  I know in my own history, it was cryptic at best.  I left clues, but at the same time, they were clear clues to me because I knew what I was experiencing, whereas to others, they had little context to understand how that one comment or action was part of a larger pattern--part of a bigger call for help. That is all to say that I have no doubt we all have people who are suffering in some capacity and a friend reaching out to them could be just the something needed to help them out.  Finding ways of supporting people we care about in our life is probably the best thing we can do in the wake of Robin Williams' death.



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How To Be a Good Friend on Social Media Part 2 (or 2)

So if the first part of this series was about things you can do, these recommendations can best be understood as caveats and considerations about how you use social media with friends.


Assume Everything You Say Is or Can Be Public

Public Domain Image - Source: https://openclipart.org/image/300px/svg_to_png/191202/public-domain-logo-slightly-nicer.png
There are a variety of safety settings on many social media platforms.  But just assume that it can all somehow, planned or unplanned, become made public.  Assume what you post to your wall, to other people's walls, and even in "private messages" is as likely to remain private as it is to end up on the cover of Time.  Just plan for that and post accordingly.  That means you probably don't want to bash your work, your friends, your enemies, your in-laws or any other person or persons that you're at odds with unless you're prepared for potential exposure and confrontation.  


Think Before Posting

This is of course connected with the previous post but it's worth repeating.  The average person that is one social media has between 100 and 200 connections on their network.  That's a lot of individuals to keep in mind when you are posting.  However, that means you should take a moment to think before posting.  It's easy to take a shot at a particular group of people, business, political viewpoint, etc.  We do it all the time, but it's worth taking a moment and asking yourself if there is a better way of presenting it or expressing your frustrations without targeting, generalizing, or misrepresenting a group of people.  


You May Know Your Friend, But You Don't Know Your Friend's Friends

People Network - Image Source: http://pixabay.com/p-63769/?no_redirect
This follows along the lines of the previous two but it's worth more directly thinking about.  You have a sense of who you are connected with but not necessarily who your friends are connected with.  When interacting with your friends via social media, remember that there is a chance their friends are likely to see the conversation (particularly if it occurs on your friend's wall instead of yours).  Recognize that they have a variety of different views that are as likely to be similar as they are different.  Be respectful as you engage with them as you don't fully know where they are coming from.  Have dialogue but avoid getting nasty with them no matter what happens.  Be civil and don't assume that whatever happens between the two of you will be considered "OK" by your mutual friend.  


Write Longer Posts in Outside of the Post Box

I can often get into debates with people online.  I rather enjoy this in terms of the different ideas and thoughts that are presented.  However, if I'm typing longer posts--ones that are more than 1-2 sentences, then I'm likely to move to a different platform than the textbox provided.  This helps with a few things.  It helps me see everything that I am writing, rather than having to scroll up and down the tiny box.  It also helps me spell and grammar check--after all, if I'm trying to make an important point and my spelling and grammar are all over the place, my thoughts will be taken less seriously by some.  Also, depending on the textbox's protocols, I don't want to hit "Enter" (which i'm trained to do automatically) to start a new paragraph and all of a sudden, find that it has been submitted.  Last, but not least, is that by writing it in another environment gives me pause.  There's one extra step I have to do before posting it and this is important.  It helps me think about if I really want to post it.  This has led me on a number of occasions to delete it instead and choose not to engage in the debate.  Altogether, it allows me to better and more respectfully engage in discussion with people on my social networks.  


Strategically Correct/Critique

So this one is one of the trickiest in the lot.  I'm going to recommend what is probably the most civil thing to do, but then I'm also going to talk about what I do and why.  The most civil thing to when you find something that someone has posted is wrong, has mistakes in it, or is personally offensive for some reason is to contact that person privately and respectfully explain your concerns.  You will need to recognize and accept that sharing your opinion won't necessarily change the post but you will have clearly acknowledged your concerns.  The goal is to inform and explain your position if you find it offensive or to clarify how or why the post might be inaccurate if there is misinformation on it.  

However, that's where I deviate from my advice.  My approach (and I have lost Facebook connections because of this mind you and am ok with that) is that I'm likely to speak up on a person's wall when I find something offensive or factually inaccurate.  I do this because I'm personally a firm believer of dialogue.  When I find something that is offensive or disagreeable, I move into the conversation, not by attacking the other person (usually) but by critically considering what has been posted and commenting as such.  It's something I do regularly.  


If You Have to Block, Then You Should Boot

Muting image - Source http://pixabay.com/p-98510/?no_redirect
This more firmly applies to connection-based (where both people agree to be connected) than follow-based social media (where agreement to follow is singularly made and not mutual).  I'm a firm believer that if you have to block someone's posts, then you should not be connected to them on social media.  My reasoning for this is that if you are connected to someone on a social network, you're making a public endorsement and that is a mutually beneficial statement.  Each person says, "I publicly recognize this person as friend-worthy."  In such instances, if you are choosing to block the person's posts while still being connected them, then you are still benefiting from the connection while silencing the person.  That feels problematic to me and disingenuous.  If you cannot tolerate what someone is saying or doing on their social media, then maybe, you shouldn't be connected to them.  At this point, someone will usually say, "yeah but I see this person regularly and it would be awkward if I de-friended the person."  Absolutely.  But that means it's time to have adult conversations about your friendship or their questionable social media posts.  


What is some advice you would offer for better social media exchanges with friends, families, and colleagues?




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How To Be a Good Friend on Social Media Part 1 (or 2)

Social media has changed some of the ways we interact with friends and family for good or for bad.  This new space of engagement changes much of how we interact and to what degree we see our friends' larger picture.  We no longer see friends in as limited lens as we might have before but have a larger context of other friends, acquaintances, and family.  Because of the nature of these environments, it's as likely for one person to having meaningful dialogue with their friend on social media as it is one of their friends' friend whom the person has never met.  It means many of us are trying to navigate unclear waters and I thought post might help people better understand how to renegotiate friendship online.  

They are a mixture of Do's and Don'ts to help navigate this tricky new space that many of us find ourselves in.  We're often good at figuring out what to do in the face-to-face environment, but online isn't always as clear as it would seem.  


Identify What Your Social Media Approach Is

This sounds weird, but it's a useful personal exercise and one that can help you decide what it is that you are using these platforms for.  I have my take on social media and place it here on my blog.  It identifies why I use social media and what I want to get out of it.  I hear a lot of people who get frustrated or unclear about the purpose of social media or don't really think about using social media.  Giving yourself some time to clearly identify what it is that you want to get out of social media can help you better decide how you want to interact on social media.  Are you using it solely for finding different information via your social networks or are you looking to use it as a way of interacting with friends when unable to meet face-to-face?  Do you want to engage in debate or just relax in this space?  Determining what you want to do helps you determine where to focus your attention.    

Congratulate in Public

Paper Note with "Good Job" on It:  Image Source: https://c1.staticflickr.com/5/4038/4294686346_fa10e0e9c7_z.jpg?zz=1
Give friends credit!  Thank them for doing things for you or with you, on their achievements, and just for being awesome people.  You'd be surprised how a simple comment can light up a person's day and doing so on social media means it's public.  That can be a great way to provide a bit of cheer and excitement for someone since by thanking them, you're also bringing attention to them in both of your social networks.  Remember that this also extends to businesses, organizations, public figures, etc.  


Promote and Share Statuses and Links (Give Credit)

As you come across great content that you find through your networks be sure to give credit.  You may find a link on Twitter but repost it on Facebook.  If that is the case, be sure to tag or acknowledge who helped you find the source. Being acknowledged for contributions to our friends and connections experiences is in part a major piece of what drives social media--knowing that what we share, has an impact.  


Help Promote Social Media Efforts and Campaigns by Friends

"Always pay it forward and never forget to pay it back.  It's how you got here and it defines where you're going... @briansolis" Image Source: https://c2.staticflickr.com/8/7178/6904613521_cec81f5a96_z.jpg
I think this is an important and underused element of being a good friend on social media.  Many of us want to support and help people in our networks.  If we are taking the time to post some cause that a friend is pushing for, the hope is that our friends will if not directly contribute to it, then help out by sharing it onward.  When we advocate or promote on their behalf, we help them in ways that are still useful.  Many of us have hundreds (if not more) of people in our social network.  When we share someone else's post for support, aid, etc, we're leveraging our network to help spread their message and potentially expanding the reach exponentially..  That's valuable and powerful for helping out friends.  


Tag With Relevance

Whether tagging in these environments be sure to tag people that are relevant to content of the post.  To follow up on the previous recommendation (Congratulate in Public), when talking about companies, organizations, etc., be sure to tag them as well.  I do my best to include tags when trying to say something good or even critical (more about that below) of a public entity.  Regardless, don't tag unless there's clear reason for it.  Also, be aware as best as possible of your friends and family members' preferences for tagging.  Don't tag people who don't want to be tagged.


Like Statuses That Are Meant to Be Liked 


Dislike Button - Image Source: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/2/21/Not_facebook_dislike_thumbs_down.png
Or as I like to put it, "Don't like RIP statuses."  It's clear that some statuses are meant to indicate positive messages.  "I got a great new job!!!".  Perfect--like that a bajillion times.  But more vague messages, you'll want to stay clear from liking.  "I lost my job, today."  Use your words for these types of status.  "I'm sorry to here."  "Can I help?".  Liking such statuses can be confusing for the person who posted and it's even unclear to the people doing the liking.  Because usually the words used for positive credit are words or icons representing liking, hearting, or favoriting, to like questionable updates sends a mix message even though you are sometimes just trying to show support.  


This is the first half.  The second half will be posted next week.  What is some of the advice you offer for better social media exchanges with friends?




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Technology Conference Bingo Take #2!


Last month, I created a Social Media Bingo card that I shared at a conference on social media.  It sparked some interest but it need some more development as it was done very last minute.  

So here is my second go round with Technology Conference Bingo, revised and some rules added in to make sense of it.  


Technology Conference Bingo Sheet
Click on the image to get a better version!

Rules for Technology Conference Bingo


1.  You must announce that you are joining the game.  The best way to do this is by talking a selfie with conference elements in the background (to prove you were actually there) and posting to Twitter with the conference hashtag and this hashtag: #TCBingo

2.  Whenever you find a spot, claim it on Twitter by identifying


  • The session (can be abbreviated)
  • The Bingo slot (use numbers and letters, e.g. "N2").
  • Use the tech conference & #TCBingo hashtags.
  • Tag the Game Judge (person should identify himself/herself early in the conference but using the conference and TCBingo hashtags.

3.  The first person to fill a row (horizontal, vertical, or diagonal) should tweet out: "I win!  [Conference Hashtag] #TCBingo with [provide full listing spots claimed:  "N1, N2, N3, N4, N5".  

4.  In order to claim a win, you had to have actually posted captured slots as you went along (that is, you can just sum up at the end).  

5.  Judge will confirm winner.  Award (real or imagined) prizes (if they are offered).  

You can find all of this in a more pliable form at this link and if you wish to comment on the actual Bingo for critiques or other ideas, you can also do that here.


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The Ultimate Bingo me for Social Media and Other Techie Conferences

Today, I'm attending a social media conference at UMASS Boston.  I am looking forward to it and figure that it should be a good time with lots of inspirational ideas, some great tools, and a lot of gabbing away on social media (#UMBSocial).  

While social media is somewhat new (depending on who you ask), there are still some clear and consistent things that happen while at an event.  With that in mind, I decided to create and share this Social Media Bingo chart.  

Try it out and use it at your next social media conference.  I'm sure it will be easy to get a straight line of Bingo but I wonder how easy will it be to fill them all up.  








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Recommendations on Social Media Books

I do a lot of reading as we all know and I'm quite interested in social media and its relevance to modern society.  I regularly get asked for recommendations for books to help get a grasp on social media.  I often find it hard to recommend just one book.  It's like asking who is your favorite pet or child.  Well, here is my list of books on social media that I've read and found useful.  It's a list of books I both like (Jeff Jarvis, I'm looking at you) and dislike (Nicholas Carr, this one's for you), but all of which are relevant in the discussion.  This list was composed in November, 2013.  I anticipate that I will need to update it again in another year as I continue to devour books on the subject.  All that being said, if there's any that strike your fancy, that you've read, or that you're interested in knowing more about, don't hesitate to let me know.

The cumulative knowledge that I have culled from reading all of these has been that social media may be a new format of interaction for us but is not entirely in terms of how we excahnge and have dialogue among humans.  There is ample meaningless communications that go on day-to-day ("Hi, how are you?") and there's also deep and profound communications that occur.  Social media is no different--except that unlike ever before, it can be captured and quantified.  So while some may think Twitter is a sign of the end-times and full of irrelevant material, they miss how much of our day-to-day is full of irrelevance and meaningless banter ("It's a nice day.").    And like many things in our culture, it's easy to point to simplicity (ignorant tweets) than to point to complexity (because that requires context and nuance).  But there is more value to be gained than problems when as we move into social media.

Recommended Books for Social Media

Book Cover:  The Digital Divide ed by Mark Bauerlein Image Source: http://farm7.staticflickr.com/6048/6261457608_1794643d37_o.jpg
  • Anderson, Chris. Free: The Future of a Radical Price. New York: Hyperion, 2009. Print.
  • Anderson, Chris. The Long Tail: Why the Future of Business Is Selling Less of More. New York: Hyperion, 2006. Print.
  • Anderson, Chris. Makers: The New Industrial Revolution. New York: Crown Business, 2012. Print.
  • Andrews, Lori B. I Know Who You Are and I Saw What You Did: Social Networks and the Death of Privacy. New York: Free Press, 2012. Print.
  • Ariely, Dan. The (honest) Truth About Dishonesty: How We Lie to Everyone-Especially Ourselves. , 2012. Print.
  • Bauerlein, Mark. The Digital Divide: Arguments for and against Facebook, Google, Texting, and the Age of Social Networking. New York: Jeremy P. Tarcher/Penguin, 2011. Print.
  • Berger, Jonah. Contagious: Why Things Catch on. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2013. Print.
  • Bilton, Nick. I Live in the Future and Here's How It Works: Why Your World, Work, and Brain Are Being Creatively Disrupted. New York: Crown Business, 2010. Print.
  • Blascovich, Jim, and Jeremy Bailenson. Infinite Reality: Avatars, Eternal Life, New Worlds, and the Dawn of the Virtual Revolution. New York: William Morrow, 2011. Print.
  • Botsman, Rachel, and Roo Rogers. What's Mine Is Yours: The Rise of Collaborative Consumption. New York: Harper Business, 2010. Print.
  • Boyle, James. The Public Domain: Enclosing the Commons of the Mind. New Haven, Conn: Yale University Press, 2008. Print.
  • Brown, BrenĂ©. The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You're Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are. Center City, Minn: Hazelden, 2010. Print.
  • Carr, Nicholas G. The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains. New York: W.W. Norton, 2010. Print.
  • Chatfield, Tom. 50 Digital Ideas: You Really Need to Know. London: Quercus, 2011. Print.
  • Chatfield, Tom. Fun Inc: Why Games Are the 21st Century's Most Serious Business. London: Virgin, 2010. Print.
  • Chatfield, Tom. How to Thrive in the Digital Age. London: Macmillan, 2012. Print.
  • Christakis, Nicholas A, and James H. Fowler. Connected: The Surprising Power of Our Social Networks and How They Shape Our Lives. New York: Little, Brown and Co, 2009. Print.
  • Crawford, Matthew B. Shop Class As Soulcraft: An Inquiry into the Value of Work. New York: Penguin Press, 2009. Print.
  • Diaz-Ortiz, Claire. Twitter for Good: Change the World One Tweet at a Time. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, 2011. Print.
  • Duhigg, Charles. The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business. New York: Random House, 2012. Print.
  • Matthew, and Soumitra Dutta. Throwing Sheep in the Boardroom: How Online Social Networking Will Transform Your Life, Work and World. Chichester, England: Wiley, 2008. Internet resource.
  • Forni, Pier M. Choosing Civility: The Twenty-Five Rules of Considerate Conduct. New York: St. Martin's Press, 2002. Print. Fraser,
  • Gottschall, Jonathan. The Storytelling Animal: How Stories Make Us Human. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2012. Print.
  • Hadnagy, Christopher. Social Engineering: The Art of Human Hacking. Indianapolis, IN: Wiley, 2011. Print.
  • Holiday, Ryan. Trust Me I'm Lying: Confessions of a Media Manipulator. New York: Portfolio, 2012. Print.
  • Howe, Jeff. Crowdsourcing: Why the Power of the Crowd Is Driving the Future of Business. New York: Crown Business, 2008. Print.
  • Jarvis, Jeff. Public Parts: How Sharing in the Digital Age Improves the Way We Work and Live. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster, 2011. Print.
  • Johnson, Steven. Everything Bad Is Good for You: How Today's Popular Culture Is Actually Making Us Smarter. New York: Riverhead Books, 2005. Print.
  • Johnson, Steven. Future Perfect: The Case for Progress in a Networked Age. New York: Riverhead Books, 2012. Print.
  • Lanier, Jaron. You Are Not a Gadget: A Manifesto. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2010. Print.
  • Levine, Robert. Free Ride: How Digital Parasites Are Destroying the Culture Business, and How the Culture Business Can Fight Back. New York: Doubleday, 2011. Print.
  • Li, Charlene. Open Leadership: How Social Technology Can Transform the Way You Lead. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2010. Print.
  • McRaney, David. You Are Now Less Dumb: How to Conquer Mob Mentality, How to Buy Happiness, and All the Other Ways to Outsmart Yourself. , 2013. Print.
  • McGonigal, Jane. Reality Is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World. New York: Penguin Press, 2011. Print.
  • Mele, Nicco. The End of Big: How the Internet Makes David the New Goliath. , 2013. Print.
  • Mycoskie, Blake. Start Something That Matters. New York: Spiegel & Grau, 2011. Print.
  • Pariser, Eli. The Filter Bubble: What the Internet Is Hiding from You. New York: Penguin Press, 2011. Print.
  • Partnoy, Frank. Wait: The Art and Science of Delay. New York: PublicAffairs, 2012. Print.
  • Postman, Neil. Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business. New York: Viking, 1985. Print.
  • Postman, Neil. Technopoly: The Surrender of Culture to Technology. New York: Knopf, 1992. Print.
  • Reese, Byron. Infinite Progress: How the Internet and Technology Will End Ignorance, Disease, Poverty, Hunger, and War. Austin, Tex: Greenleaf Book Group, 2013. Print.
  • Rifkin, Jeremy. The Third Industrial Revolution: How Lateral Power Is Transforming Energy, the Economy, and the World. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011. Print.
  • Rushkoff, Douglas, and Leland Purvis. Program or Be Programmed: Ten Commands for a Digital Age. Berkeley, CA: Soft Skull Press, 2011. Print.
  • Rushkoff, Douglas. Present Shock: When Everything Happens Now. New York: Current, 2013. Print.
  • Shirky, Clay. Cognitive Surplus: How Technology Makes Consumers into Collaborators. New York: Penguin Books, 2011. Print.
  • Shirky, Clay. Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations. New York: Penguin Press, 2008. Print.
  • Sommers, Sam. Situations Matter: Understanding How Context Transforms Your World. New York: Riverhead Books, 2011. Print.
  • Steiner, Christopher. Automate This: How Algorithms Came to Rule Our World. New York: Portfolio/Penguin, 2012. Print.
  • Sunstein, Cass R. Infotopia: How Many Minds Produce Knowledge. New York ;Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008. Print.

Book cover: Grown Up Digital by Don Tapscott.  Image Source: http://farm5.staticflickr.com/4133/4946166454_28ca4b4420_z.jpg
  • Tapscott, Don. Grown Up Digital: How the Net Generation Is Changing Your World. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2009. Print.
  • Tavris, Carol, and Elliot Aronson. Mistakes Were Made (but Not by Me): Why We Justify Foolish Beliefs, Bad Decisions, and Hurtful Acts. Orlando, Fla: Harcourt, 2007. Print.
  • Thomas, Douglas, and John S. Brown. A New Culture of Learning: Cultivating the Imagination for a World of Constant Change. Lexington, Ky: CreateSpace?, 2011. Print.
  • Turkle, Sherry. Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other. New York: Basic Books, 2011. Print.
  • Waal, F B. M. The Age of Empathy: Nature's Lessons for a Kinder Society. New York: Harmony Books, 2009. Print.
  • Wasik, Bill. And Then There's This: How Stories Live and Die in Viral Culture. New York: Viking, 2009. Print.
  • Weinberger, David. Too Big to Know: Rethinking Knowledge Now That the Facts Aren't the Facts, Experts Are Everywhere, and the Smartest Person in the Room Is the Room. New York: Basic Books, 2011. Print.
  • Williams, Juan. Muzzled: The Assault on Honest Debate. New York: Crown Publishers, 2011. Print.



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Misadventures in Social Media: What's It All About?

This series of blog posts will focus on social media and my experiences, thoughts, challenges, and of course, mistakes in social media.  It stems in part from trying to be reflective about what I do in the digital world just as much as I try to be reflective about what I do in the physical world.  It also resonates with my Social Media Approach page in getting me to have more conversations about what it is we do when we step into the world of bits and bytes.

It's not entirely new for me to talk about social media and it's role in our lives.  I have talked about inherently sexist messages in Facebook memes, engaged educators and students about their educational usage of social media, issues with social media and higher educationreflected on how social media has made me a more sensitive person, its role in tragic events, poorly executed memes (by me, no less) and many other similar posts.  But this series of posts provide some insight (for myself as much as others) about social media, its challenges, and its benefits.  Ultimately, I hope that my reflecting on the process helps me better a communicator in general and also in social media, which is a tricky and new-found territory that many of us are trying to navigate successfully or otherwise.

Though some are apt to disregard or be wary of social media, I do think it is a powerful and compelling tool for human connection.  I'm less inclined to buy into the often disparate views of a Nicholas Carr or Sheryl Turkle (a summation of her book can be found in her TED Talk) or more to recognize that social media's benefits outweigh its limiting consequences.  Too often, I see people contending that social media is a threat or a sign of decline and see the direct parallels (and false arguments) that have been made with the internet in general, video games, horror films, horror comics, the dance hall, the printed word, and the written word; thousands of years of technological progress and enhanced human communication and we still get weak in the knees.

Social media does change the ways we interact, the customs we've come to expect (keeping in mind, they are just customs--representations of civilization--not civilization itself), and most importantly, for the individual, the power he or she wields to control her or her environment.  It's this last one that vexes people the most.  Nothing seems to enrage people (often in the name of "decency"--to which they often exhibit their own lack thereof by talking about said people behind their backs in often judgmental and insulting tones) more than the insolent person using his or her digital device to engage with conversations and meaning-making beyond the immediate physical place.  Yes, people use their social media networks and often accompanying devices to check out of the immediate physical and social space and check into a digital space with peers or even strangers.  Many dislike this; they find it disrespectful; and they see it that "kids today are...."  But how is this different from checking out from a social space by choosing to engage with other people's fictional friends (in the form of say reading a book while in that same space) or withdrawing into one's own world (by daydreaming in one's head or through physical exultation such as doodling)?

So that's my angle--to recognize the value of and development of social media.  But in doing so, I also want to acknowledge the mistakes, mishaps, and opportunities to learn and understand more about social media in this newly emergent landscape of communication.  I'm also likely to discuss different social media events, books, and talks/podcasts that catch my attention on the subject matter. So wish me luck with it and I hope to hear about your own adventures (perchance a guest blogpost!).



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Observations of a Tragedy In the Making

So just over an hour ago the reports came in about the explosionsat the Finish Line of the Boston Marathon.  A shocking thing for many people on many levels.  At this writing, three are reported dead and around two dozen injured.  Additional incendiary devices are being reportedly found.  It is a sad thing to witness.  It strikes close to home on two counts.  I live 20 miles north of Boston and I do hope to some day run a big marathon (and am training for a marathon this year).  But I am safe—as are the vast majority of those who attended and participated in the event. That is relieving but for the fact that in the ensuing weeks, we will be reminded time and time again of how it could have been us in some way, shape, or form.

My first response was the following which I posted on my Facebook and Twitter:  “so there has clearly been a tragedy at the Boston Marathon. Yes, check on your friends and loved ones to make sure they are ok. But do yourself and everyone a favor, step away from the newsfeed. Do not obsess over it. Do not constantly check FB, Twitter, newsites, and news channels for updates. Check back in the evening or tomorrow. Obsessing over it will continue to fester anxiety and worry without any real cure besides increased fear and anxiety--which doesn't do anyone any good. Instead, count your blessings and appreciate that you have a life to live.”

If it plays out like other such events—especially if it is terrorist-related—there will be many speeches, there will be much fear-mongering, and there will be a lot of anxiety induced.  And thus, we commit and are complicit in the second tragedy that befalls such events.  We learn the wrong lessons and further empower those who want to do us harm.  In the end, the terrorist can only take our lives.  But if we allow for it, they can also take our minds.  When we fixate on the violation that such an event represents, we can be so obsessively concerned about it, that we lose sight of what it is that terrorists want.  More than our lives, they want our minds.  They want the freedom of thought and spirit to be strangled away by fear of what may happen.  The power of the terrorist act is not the initial violence but in the internal violence that runs through everyone’s head as they replay and readjust their lives out of the fear instilled from the event. 

Though I am saddened by the tragedy, I am also deeply awed by the way we as humans react.  Though I read and see some people’s reactions focused on how sick/evil/wrong people are, I find that a train of thought a dead end.  There will always be extreme people—but they are still few in comparison to all the good people.  Regardless of the number of people involved in this—it will pale in comparison to the number of people who are doing good both directly and indirectly:  by being first responders, police officers, and caregivers to those affected or by donating money, time, and blood to the event.  In the aftermath of such tragedies, my faith for humanity is renewed because of the following:

1.  The Facilitation of Information
Within minutes of it happening, people were quick to info others.  Twitter, Facebook, and virtually all social media went full speed ahead with people trying to make sure people knew.  That information went from digital to physical and back to digital.  I watched as people at the coffee shop I was at read about it on their phones, communicated it with others which sent them to checking in and spreading it on their own devices.  There’s an undervalued awesomeness here in that in under two hours of the event—not weeks, not days, and barely “hours”, the information travelled around the world—thousands of miles through thousands of circuits and routes.  The instantaneity of the event sent us to check in with those who we cared about.  Which brings me to my second point:

2.  The Reiteration of Safety and Care
I received several texts and Facebook messages of friends checking in on my safety and I saw a great deal of my Boston-located friends and family checking in.  Myriads of people were able to quickly and clearly communicate their safety and allay the fears and concerns of loved ones.  We wanted to communicate our own safety and hear from others.  That is, we connected and appreciated how quickly our fear could be allayed.  We looked to love, first and foremost. 

3.  The Explosion of Empathy and Aide
More than anything what was impressive in the aftermath was the amount of empathy and aide that flowed towards Boston.  Innumerable wishes to the safety of people in Boston from individuals and organizations.  Prayers and thoughts of Boston in abundance feed my Twitter and Facebook feeds.  Coupled with this were helpful pieces of information too.  Below are some of them posted on Twitter and the ongoing information and response to the event.  Ample people both connected to Boston and having nothing to do with Boston sending their thoughts and prayers for no other reason than they feel its important for the people of Boston to know they care.  Some may find this frivolous—it’s just a tweet or a FB post, but then if it is so frivolous and meaningless why would so many take the time to do it—amounting to what collectively would look like hours (probably days) worth of effort to communicate said care and concern.  

I say all this—not to undermine the serious loss and sadness experienced by the victims, the victims’ family, or any others directly or indirectly impacted by the event.  I cannot speak to the ways in which this will deeply impact their lives.  But for the rest of us, I think there is much to consider about how we move forward and what lessons we take from this. 

I also say this from the safety of a coffee shop in Salem while the event unfolded.  I recognize that I am both physically and emotionally removed in many ways which I am sure some will consider for a reason to disregard what I have said.  Such is their right.  But I do believe there is value in learning the right lessons from this tragedy and understanding that though it is sad, there are many ways it reaffirms our humanity instead of rejecting it.

We may never be able to fully prevent all such events from happening.  This may be the "new normal" as some would argue.  However, what we can control is how we react to it.  We can reaffirm our humanity and push the fear aside or we can be locked into it.  I would chose to push the fear aside and from what I see around me--so would the vast majority.  Let us hope that is the lesson we learn here.  








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Social Media Project Update#2

So great news on this project front.  I will be presenting at the Massachusetts Community College Teaching, Learning, & Student Development Conference 2013 in April.   The focus is on social media and faculty/student engagement and I plan on bringing this research into the discussion. Below is the title and abstract.

Title:  Where Faculty Fear to Tread:  Role Modeling Civility in a Digital World

The rhetoric of social media boils down to being a miracle of the modern age or a clear sign of society’s self-destructive tendencies.  To this end, faculty and schools often fail in engaging their students through social media in meaningful ways.  So while colleges help equip students for the physical world, they poorly prepare them for the digital world.  This presentation looks at the ways and the whys for faculty and colleges to maintain a strong social media presence to aid and act as a role model for students in the digital world.  Just like faculty role model in students’ physical worlds, it becomes increasing important for faculty to be role models as digital citizens and work to develop students’ digital identities.  In an age in which applicants are Googled by interviewers, it’s important that faculty guide and encourage students to consciously maintain a public identity that both speaks to who they are and how they conduct themselves in this ambiguous and emerging new public sphere.  This workshop will address some of the concerns and misaligned fears about social media, identify some of the reasons and ways faculty can role model good digital identity, and provide some ways of constructing clear guidelines about productive social media between faculty and students.



So there has been some great response through email, Facebook, and in the comments sections by people about the project.  Since the last update on this project, I am now just under 140 participants that have filled out the survey.  That's great, but I'd really like to get more.  To that end I'm making March 1 the last day for submissions and I'm hoping that I can double the number of entries that I currently have, if not more.  So please, keep sharing this along and sending it to faculty and students.

For those that want to familiarize yourself with the original post or take the survey (or send the survey along to others, here is the information on that:

A few people have asked me about what they could do to help to support it and get more attention:

  1. Share a link on Facebook with your endorsement to this post (http://byanyothernerd.blogspot.com/2013/02/social-media-project-update2.html), the original call for participants (http://goo.gl/LOv3G), or to the survey itself (http://goo.gl/Y4q9n).
  2. Tweet about it with hashtags related to your school, discipline, or technology (2 good sources for relevant hashtags are Inside Higher Ed's Twitter Directory and Complete Guide To Twitter Hashtags In Education).
  3. Post it to your Google+ account.
  4. Like it on Stumble.
  5. Give it credit on Reddit (http://www.reddit.com/r/SampleSize/comments/17i96c/social_media_interaction_between_college/)
  6. Post it to your LinkedIn and/or Academia.Edu accounts.
  7. Post it to relevant Groups/Communities that you belong to on Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, and other social networks.
  8. Write about it or mention it on your own blog (and email me so I can give you props here).
  9. Post it on any other online forum that hasn't yet been mentioned but you are now thinking in your head, "Gee, I wonder if I should post it here."
  10. Take the following message and email it to your colleagues, instructors, or students (past and present).
Greetings,

A colleague/friend/acquaintance/stranger of mine is exploring interaction between college faculty and students via social media.  If you are a faculty member that uses social media with your students OR if you are a student who has used social media to interact with one or more faculty, would you mind filling out this brief (10 questions) survey?  http://goo.gl/Y4q9n

If you'd like to know more about the project, you can check it the description here.  http://goo.gl/LOv3G.

Thanks
Me

I appreciate all of your efforts and help thus far.  Seeing that people have filled out this survey from all over the world is pretty cool and the comments are absolutely fascinating.  As I move forward, I will be using this blog as a central place to share the data and results.  Be sure to subscribe to the site (upper right hand corner) by email or RSS feed to keep abreast of the future results.



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