Category Archives: digital technology

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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Social Media Analyst- A Brand New Job on the Market

At one of my media lectures the term “social media analyst” innocently uttered by a media savy lecturer (Kate Crawford) floated around the class, causing confusion and chaos. Most people had never heard the term. Some (like me) have, but were left with only a vague idea of what it means. One girl said she was working as one.

It’s not surprising. After all a social media analyst is a new role. So have a look.

Social Media Strategist for a university in USA

TO SUM IT UP: A social media analyst works for a company, any company that uses social media networks in some way.

He/she looks at HOW people interact with facebook, twitter, myspace and others.

BASED ON THIS: he/she comes up with trends and conclusions.

TRENDS: are used as a means to achieve different ends, depending on the given organization.

The data is USED STRATEGICALLY AND CREATIVELY for coming up with a plan to help the organization achieve what it wants.

FOR PR/MARKETING COMPANIES:

If the company is marketing a brand such as PEPSI, it might want to promote awareness and get more fans on its facebook page. Analysis of facebook user patterns will help the company and Pepsi to target specific groups; interact with fb users more or on a different level; come up with ways to engage people and get more exposure.

FOR MEDIA AND PUBLIC SECTOR COMPANIES:

If the social media analyst works for a media outlet such as Sydney Morning Herald, it might want to make sure that the reputation of the newspaper stays intact or that journalists know how to use social media in their work. Analysis of twitter will help journalists tap into a rich informational data base and help them utilize the tools of twitter to find sources or spread information correctly.

So that’s all I can say for now.

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University – the digital playground

As I was walking down the billion sets of stairs of UNSW it became blatantly clear to me that this place is a viral gold mine.In the nearly empty evening time campus people are scattered randomly along sides of buildings, benches and even toilets surfing the net, sending emails or skyping family members from india, russia and china. And that’s freakin awesome.

SO I had to stop and blog about it before the revelation flew out of my mind. The fact that I am now sitting down on random uni lawns, yet still effortlessly connected to the web kinda reinforces my point. I can almost feel myself entering a bizzare invisible digital air as soon as I step on campus. I can do my work anywhere, sitting or lying down, standing up or in a lecture. As a very impatient high strung, twitchy person I get really bored really fast during class. So now I can do my assessments, looking up academic articles or read the news. And I don’t feel guilty because if anything I am being more proactive and learning more than I would from the bloody lecture.

The amazing thing is I have seen incredible change, a drift to digital technology in universities that is far above what I expected. In 2006 the thought of having constant internet access in uni was highly improbable and the deficit of power plugs for lap tops killed any desire to drag one with me. Now I have an iPad which is not only light as a feather in comparison but I can also charge it practically anywhere on campus.

I just spent 3 hours engorged in a PR report at the library which has created a study space designed almost specifically for free agent internet users. Comfy chairs and long wide benches that you can climb like stairs and stretch out on. And of course power plugs galore, everywhere.

To summarise: I am just so happy that my short attention span in lectures now has a cure and always will from now on. And that I can blog my thoughts while lying down on grass.

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