Category Archives: communication

Blackberry Riots

What can I say, the lootings in London once again demonstrate that social media is penetrating every aspect of our lives. Both Mashable and the Guardian reported this week that looters organised themselves using the Blackberry BBM messaging service. According to both sources rioters chose Blackberry as the weapon of choice because the messaging service is free and used by a wide number of people in the UK.

Here’s a video that sums up Blackberry’s role in the riots.

So how did Mashable and The Guardian report on this?

Mashable

‘London riots: Blackberry Messenger used more than Facebook or Twitter’

I’m very impressed with the layout of the Mashable webpage to the point where its more entertaining than the actual content. So I shall talk about it first!

Layout

I often read Mashable and I’m always very happy with the hyperlinks they provide within the text. It’s very relevant and interesting. The hyperlinks themselves almost tell the story in images. In this article the hyperlinked words/phrases were:

‘Blackberry’, ‘Facebook group quickly sprung up’, ‘particular post on the Facebook page’, ‘BBM’, ‘a recent study’, ‘got its hands on BBM messages directing rioters’, ‘Research in Motion’ and ‘this tweet’.

Interestingly, the ‘Blackberry’, ‘BBM’ and ‘Research in Motion’ hyperlinks lead back to Mashable’s ‘topic’ sections which give you the option to follow them to get the latest updates. I guess this is a good way to self promote with out overt…self promotion.

The social media bar on Mashable slides up and down with you as you scroll through the page meaning its never out of sight and you always have the quick option of sharing on twitter, facebook, tumbler and so on. Page itself has a three column layout where the right hand side column has interactive and static ads.

Now to the actual content:

Mashable tends to regurgitate information it gathers from other news sources which also explains why it has so many hyperlinks.

The Guardian

‘London riots: how Blackberry Messenger played a key role’

A quote from the former deputy mayor of London is kinda evidence that reporters actually got out of the office and went to get an interview. The image supplementing the story is not stock footage (it comes from a photographic press agency) and is quite effective to communicate the action of the story.

London riots: a looted O2 mobile phone store in Tottenham Hale retail park. Photograph: Ray Tang/Rex Features
The Layout
The page layout is definitely less ‘social’ than the one created by Mashable. The online Guardian seems to be an extension of the print version, I don’t think they’ve gone far enough to engage with the readers the way Mashable has, but Mashable of course is all about digital tech, so its a bad comparison.

 

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Filed under communication, information, new media, news

Two Ways Twitter has Changed the Way We Consume Information

The way Osama Bin Laden’s Death broke on Twitter gave rise to new questions about its role  as an informational hub and the role of the audience in generating news. In my opinion,

  1. Twitter has changed the way in which people search for information
  2. It has also provided certain individuals with the power to influence and generate news

The truly innovative aspect of Twitter is that people are able to search for and find news that have not yet been broadcast, written about or published.This was the case with the news about Osama Bin Laden’s death.

According to Fast Company the interest of the public was sparked when the White House announced an urgent presidential address. Amongst this demand for information  Keith Urbahn’s news breaking tweet about Osama Bin Laden’s death was spread freakishly quickly.

Urbahn’s power to create  news came because his information responded to the public demand.

It was only because his tweet coincided with the most talked about topic and the time at which it was delivered that it had such prevalence. This demonstrates is that unlike traditional media that used to ‘push’ news towards the consumer, Twitter provides a place where people can ‘pull’ the right information from their network.

Just want to show you a Twitter visualisation that demonstrates how information networks are created on Twitter. I know the topic has nothing to do with what I’m talking about but I thought it was a good visual example!

It seems that information is trusted when it either comes from a variety of unrelated, unbiased sources or if it is provided by influential and credible individuals.

This guy’s quote, published by Arnnet perfectly describes how info trust is built:

“After first seeing one or two tweets on the subject, I quickly did a hashtag search to verify that what I was reading was being referenced by a large number of people and linked to a reputable news source. After that little process, I felt as though I could trust what I was reading and that I had been informed of the news from many different vantage points, each with independent motivations, backgrounds, national histories. I find that process much more trustworthy than listening to a single TV station.”

The way the news broke also makes it possible to suggest a profile of the twitterer who can successfully act as an influential citizen journalist. The key individuals in the OBL case were Keith Urbahn, the former Chief of Staff in Donald Rumsfeld’s office and Brian Stelter, a digital media reporter for the New York Times, who re-tweeted Urbahn’s tweet.

Both were professionals in their respective fields and both were active on Twitter during the crucial time. Although Urbahn had a relatively small following of 1016 people, according to Social Flow he “had the right combination of influential people reading his tweet and confidence in the accuracy of the information.” This of course included Brian Stelter who was not only a reliable source but also had a huge Twitter following of 57 535 people. When he re-tweeted Urbahn’s tweet it was spread by his following, making the news viral.

Based on this information I am suggesting that the successful citizen journalist on Twitter must be credible and reliable, he or she must be timely in providing information and they must have the right twitter following. This can either be a very large following but most importantly it must contain the right people.In other words the twitterer must have influence.

Here is a list of most influential twitter users.

You can use Twitter Grader to find out how influential a particular twitter user is.

I found this tool really cool too. It lets you search for influential people who are interested in the same things you are.

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Osama Bin Laden and Twitter

At this point we are all familiar with this:

I could rave on about Osama Bin Laden related issues for the next five hours. I could tell you that I want to write a letter to the American government saying something like “shhhhh, please be quiet and stop celebrating the murder of a terrorist master lord! You might hurt Al -Qaeda’s feelings!” I could ponder the pros and cons of releasing the photos of OBL’s dead body or re-watch old September 11 documentaries in morbid fascination.

Instead I’m going to say what Osama Bin Laden’s death has done for Twitter. In the international relations/war on terror scheme of things, the way his death broke on Twitter is a trivial matter BUT it is important for the future of news and information spread. It’s important for us, the people who have never had much control over news, to recognize that we can all create news now, one tweet at a time.

WHY SHOULD YOU CARE?

Because if you know how information spreads on Twitter, you can spread information on Twitter. Fast. Like wildfire. Like the ripple effect. Like a Lamborghini on the freeway.

But it ain’t easy.

How did people find out about Osama Bin Laden’s death and when? May 1st around an hour before the official presidential announcement by Barack Osama (oops Obama). Here’s good timeline.

People are naturally inquisitive and people who use social networking are neurotically inquisitive. They are addicted to information and they hunt for it like…hunters…SO speculation about what-the-hell-is-going-on began as soon as the White House announced that there would be a presidential address. It was after a bit of a wild guessing game that people began to mention Bin Laden. But at that stage it was still just the blind leading the blind.

FINALLY Keith Urbahn (sorry people, not the singer/husband of Nicole Kidman) tweeted the tweet that made the difference.

Urbahn was a reliable source because of his position as Chief of Staff in the Office of Donald Rumsfeld. The trustworthiness of his information meant that it was re-tweeted by 80 people in the new minute.

His tweet also got re-tweeted by Brian Stelter, a very influential tweeter (he is a machine. I’ve never seen anyone do that many tweets in one day).

And that’s how it took off. The crazy tweetering, digital river of information. And then Obama gave his speech.

For the twitter universe, he was a bit too slow (and a bit too triumphant for my liking).

But you know what? I’m glad that he was too slow. Down with the controlled media. We don’t need it to tell us everything anymore. We can tell each other whatever the hell we want. As long as we have access to information and the right twitter following, we can break news. Of course a lot of elements come into play, but that’s the essence of it.

Social flow did an awesome analysis of how OBL’s death broke on twitter zoomed through the wired world (I just like the pretty graphs). Actually I gonna insert the pretty graph;

Based on what I’ve read and the Social Flow analysis this is the way to break news on Twitter:

  1. Have the information
  2. The news has to be timely. No one will care if it happened a week ago (unless its something massive) or if no one knows about it or its significance.
  3. Be well connected on Twitter. That doesn’t necessarily means have millions of followers, just have the right ones.
  4. People must trust that you’re not the boy/girl crying wolf. Reliability is the key.

I actually think that by using Twitter as an information hub, we are making a statement about the world we live in and about our own role in it. We are shrinking the world and growing our individual significance. News is no longer decided by journalists and the media, nor should it be.

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Facebook Studio

I remember being amazed and astounded the first time I used a chat room online. It was an almost surreal experience for a 10 year old who had never actually owned a computer and barely understood what the hell the internet was all about. But once I got it, I really got it. For about a month chat rooms were my life, and I obsessively build online friendships with people I just knew were cool and awesome. My longest online buddy went under the name of “bigdong1988”  (back then I didn’t know what ‘dong’ meant).

Now that I think of it, our relationship probably looked something like this:

In any case it was the feeling of connecting with a stranger that I liked, but more than that it was having a link to the rest of the world.

Compare that to now. Compare that to the level of connectivity Facebook provides for its users. And now, taking it up by more than a notch Facebook is pulling in the world of business into the conversation.

Facebook in its infinite wisdom has decided to launch Facebook Studio, a stand alone community site where ad agency creatives can share ideas, comment on campaigns and learn what it takes to create a successful page for a brand.

Why?

Facebook is trying to entice a new generation of advertising executives to tap consumers’ emotions through social advertising.

By strengthening its relationship with ad agencies and teaching them how improve their results, Facebook hopes these agencies will push their brand clients to spend more on Facebook’s own marketing and advertising services. Here’s a little piece of their persuasion.

What Facebook Studio allows

•    Ad agencies can display their work
•    Host live events for advertisers
•    Browse a collection of work that represents some of the best marketing on Facebook.
•    Agencies can create their own campaigns on the site,
•    Sort through a directory of agencies: which will include pictures, videos, summaries of campaigns
•    Enter a contest for the best Facebook campaign.

Why do I care?

It’s just fun to watch. No, seriously. Go on it. Campaigns are presented as short videos and since its an international platform you get to see the weird stuff companies all around the world are doing.

It’s also like a game. You can try out the stuff they’ve created. For example (my favourite) The Altoids Curiously Strong Awards.

Click on ‘visit’ button under the video and it will take you to the facebook app. Try it out for yourself.

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iPods, Youtube and Self Reflection

Digital Media and Self Reflection

After my countless degree changes, I found myself doing a Journalism and communications post grad degree. I am now finding this position slightly problematic as have never done journalism in the past yet assumed I would be good at it.

My delusion was shattered when I was faced with writing a hard news story, which also meant facing grueling research and interviews. I had no f&%$ idea how do interview people, despite reading the theory behind it, because clearly you have to interview people to know how to interview people. So I did. And I sucked. My questions went something like this;

“So would you say that the new mental health care center is inappropriate because it’s not exclusively for mental health, like I mean, because alcohol abuse patients have to share amenities or because …um it’s such a big centre with many floors and …um patients don’t feel comfortable or what would you say is the…. problem with the new center or how is it worse than community centers? …um.”

Epic fail.
I’m probably on the level of this chick:

So how is this connected to digital technology? Well, the main reason I could reflect upon this monstrosity of a question above, was taping the interview and playing it back afterwards with an iPod touch. I do realize that tape recorders were around long before iPods but the difference is the package. The difference is the ease with which I am able to record audio files and mess around with them using iTunes. Three, four years ago I would have had to go out and buy a tape recorder if I wanted to use one for an interview. The odds are I wouldn’t have bothered.

But with an iPod touch I get it all. I get to surf the net and do my journo research online if I want to, I get to listen to calming music while I’m freaking out about the due date, I get to record my hideous retarded interviewing, and acknowledge it via playback in iTunes. Most importantly by listening to myself I get to improve the way I conduct interviews in the future, oh and of course there’s that tiny benefit of having the interviewee’s answers on hand for quotes.

Similarly video blogging is a great way to self reflect (in other words to see how your nose twitches when you want to emphasize a point, or how one of your eyes becomes oddly squinty when you smile, or how you say uuumm, every ummm second ummm word).

I do video blogs for my university and seeing myself from an observer’s point of view has been really interesting.

1. I get to see the way I naturally speak.
2. I get to sort my thoughts out and make my mind clearer by scrutinizing whether what I’m talking about actually makes sense.

I’m going to attach one of my video posts, just for shits and giggles (try not to cringe or die of boredom).

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Writing Digital Resumes

There is so much written about the art of resume writing. How to make it sound good, how to emphasize the good and tuck the bad under the carpet. Which verbs are the most effective, which ones are not. What duties to describe, how to phrase achievements and boast without boasting. Whether to provide references/date of birth/extra curricular activities or hide them to avoid bias from the interviewer. Blah blah.

What no one seems to get told about now, is that the most awesomest pedantically written resume will result in zilch if the writer of the said resume has a shitty facebook page or an inappropriate Twitter account. For example a seemingly able female psychiatrist didn’t get a job after the recruitment agent saw indecent photos of her on facebook (here’s the article). Fast Company even offers you tips on how to sensor your social media when you’re job hunting…just in case.

Think I’m exaggerating? Think again:

Because that is what’s going to be looked at by employers now and in the future. Hell it might even become a compulsory slot in the application process “please provide fb and twitter account details”. So just as in all other areas of our lives its time to adapt and innovate, especially as users of digital.

This guy agrees with me:

To counterbalance the horror of social media self censoring you can spice up your resume with the joy of digital creativity.

I get particularly twitchy and irritable when I have to write a really dry application for anything (probably because I’ve applied to so so many random things in my life). That’s led me to stop giving a f*_*k  start being creatively free.

For example in my application to the Peace Conference of the Youth in Japan, I decided to push interactivity.

In other words I did what I do in my blog posts (and what countless websites do) and attached a heap of hyperlinks to illustrate what I’m talking about. It is possible that my application will thrown out in disgust because I dared to do something unexpected and disturbingly different to the application instructions. But I figured I have the right to some creativity after having to suffer the torture of application questions like,

“What are your main interests under the present social situation?  Why?”

I mean, c’mon, WHAT DOES THAT EVEN MEAN?

Anyway as I toiling away, writing, finding examples and hyperlinking them into the text, I realized that I was having fun. I was also reaching out to the people who will (hopefully) read my application, in a way that made my application more relevant and alive to them. I was giving them more reasons to keep reading by  engaging them on a deeper level.

If I had more time I would have made a YouTube video to include in that application. Just to make it clear, I exist, this is who I am, these are my passions and skills.

Think about it. It’s the perfect way to sell yourself. You have all the control. You can edit, do a 1000 takes until you get it right. The same with the text. Unlimited attempts. Hyperlink this, double check relevance. Delete or retain. So simple.

To conclude:

  1. Use social media responsibly
  2. Innovate your resume

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Twitter-Where Art Thou?

It always baffles me when I see a company website that does not have a twitter account. That’s so much additional exposure lost, yet I see this again and again on Australian websites. Let’s face it people, Australians don’t like Twitter. I can say this with certainty, having heard it said repeatedly at:

1. University (UNSW): My media lectures bring up this deficiency whenever they have the chance saying something like “But of course no one in Australia really uses Twitter” with a  condescending snicker of  disapproval. (UNSW of course has Twitter)

2. Journalists: Annabel Crabb (writing for ABC’s The Drum) and Julie Posetti have both bagged out other journalists for being caveman-like in their ignorance about new media and especially Twitter.

3. People @ TCO (where I intern): When I timidly suggested that they use Twitter to promote their clients, they shook their heads sadly and told me it would never work. It wouldn’t be worth it. “People don’t really use Twitter in Australia”.

I was doing a news story on climate change (why, why,why the hell did I pick that twisted spiderweb as a topic??) and saw that both companies I interviewed for the story didn’t have a Twitter account. I think of it as an opportunity lost, even if not many individuals use Twitter. Companies should still do everything they can to get exposure for their services. Have a look;

Company #1: CO2 Australia: is a carbon offsetting service for companies. Has a blog, yet no Twitter. I would rather look at Twitter than read a long blog entry. Especially if the company is new to me.  Especially if I am another company that HAS Twitter and I am looking at CO2’s services.

Company #2: Get Up! Australia: is a grassroots NGO. Their goal is to hold governments accountable for their policies. And have heaps of ppl join up. No Twitter though.

To me its simple. Yes not many people here use Twitter. Or they have an account and don’t log on (most of my friends are like that). But all people search for services online at one time or another. If they see that little ‘join us on twitter’ thing on the page often enough, they might just do that. And companies might just benefit. Like they do in America.

Everyone wins. So use the damn thing.

Here’s a quick video about why Twitter matters. This dude is way better at explaining it than I am

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