Steve Woods

Archive for the ‘Social Media’ Category

Why Twitter’s Gonna Eat FourSquare’s Lunch

In Social Media on November 20, 2009 at 12:33 pm

Will FourSquare be the Next Twitter? Will it? Will it?

Has some version of this cluttered up your Twitter stream lately?

Pete Cashmore, Social Media Maven, founder and CEO of @Mashable, and new blogger at CNN.com, wrote a very interesting article recently.  In it he carefully makes the case for FourSquare as possibly the next big thing in Social Media since Twitter.  I heard of FourSquare a long time ago, but thought I was too cool for things like Twitter back then, and never considered giving it a shot.

I’ve read through the article twice now, was a bit intrigued, and before hitting the road yesterday after work, tried to download the application for my iPhone.

I can’t. Well, that’s not entirely true.  I can download the app if I want to, but I’d have to lie about where I live, in order to finish signing in, and to participate in the game.  You see, there’s a very limited drop-down menu of what I am sure are exciting cities to live in. I just don’t live in one of them.  Or even near one of them.

Not really a menu, but it sure felt that way... :0(

Oh, I am sure that Amsterdam has a lot of great cafes I could sip a nice latté in.  I have no doubt I could find a banging nightclub in Bangkok, and could bust a move until people laughed at me in unison.  I hear that Dubai is pretty hot these days (no pun intended.) Hell, I’d even down shots with the cool people in Hong Kong if I could…

FourSquare is Limited in Geographical Scope, Guys

I just wanted to play too...

So there I was, sitting in my now idling car, with a new download that I’ll eventually delete from my iPhone before the next sync.  Why couldn’t I just find and add my little city, or even one of the small-to-medium ones a short drive away?  How about that nice Cajun restaurant/nightclub 25 miles away, where I am sure I’ll never run into one of Mashable’s tech-savvy folks?  Thanks, Pete...

Out of a possible 10,016 big and little cities in the United States alone, FourSquare works with 48 of them (I am assuming when they listed Rome, they didn’t mean Rome, N.Y…..)  So 1/2 of 1% U.S. coverage by an Internet-based application meant to bring people together in fellowship. Wow.  I’d help spread that further, but I can’t, because FourSquare won’t let me

Is FourSquare’s Concept Unique?

On the drive home, I thought about what a great concept FourSquare was.  Then I realized I wasn’t thinking about FourSquare at all anymore.  I was thinking about the Concept.  Were there other applications that exceeded the 0.5% reach already, and could be used in the same way that FourSquare bills itself?

Read Pete’s article all the way through.  He’s a brilliant guy, and I have to give him credit where due, because he alludes to the precarious position that FourSquare holds as possible contender for next year’s Social Media Superstar….

Twitter’s Users Already Use the Concept of FourSquare

Meet @RadarDog. He's laughing at you.

For most of us, when we log off and head out the door, we don’t tend to include in the trip or where we go the people we met on Twitter.  But I have seen on Twitter more signs of Tweet-ups, or groups of Twitter friends/followers from one area or city, meeting up and enjoying each other’s company.  And by the way, Twitter is everywhere.  Even dogs have twitter accounts, guys.  Betcha they tweetup and hookup all the time now because of it.  They’re laughing at you FourSquare lovers with your fancy, opposing thumbs.

Geolocation is King

Geolocation is a big word for “Where you are, right now.”  This sort of information is typically hidden from those people we know in Social Media, because the concept sounds too much like we are inviting everyone to follow us home at night.   When we do allow an application to turn this on, it can find us based on our computer’s IP (Internet Protocol) Address, or using the GPS emitter on our phone.  And it’s pretty darn accurate.

The use of Geolocation information has been recently made available by Twitter to third-party applications.  So expect applications like Tweetdeck, Seesmic, Twitpic, and others soon to ask you if you want to share this.  If you say yes, when you send out tweets or photos, people will know from a marker on a map exactly where you are.  In other words, Twitter just shot a big hole in FourSquare’s boat…  Didn’t that sound cool? Makes me sound all Social Media Maven-ish.

Fun is Queen

Queen. Ha. I’m running with the whole card concept… Pete’s article refers to FourSquare as “highly addictive gameplay” and I am sure it is, if you live in a city that is cooler than mine.  And go out often. And go to the same places over and over.  How about trying out that Thai place for once, before your girlfriend dumps you…

Yes, they will find you in all languages...

Social Media games are growing rapidly, both in MySpace, FaceBook and Twitter.  We all see the automated status updates, tweets and even Direct Messages from those we follow, slipping in because they think others want to know if they killed someone in Mafia Wars or baked a pizza in Cafe World. Those that fail to turn off the clutter play with us a Social Media equivalent of Whack-a-Mole.  DM. Block. Tweet. Block. Status Update. Block.

There goes the horn. Work day's over. Sorry, guys!

In order to move up in FourSquare, you have to work at it.  You need to frequent your favorite places often, checking in to them using your phone’s app.  Sort of like the alcoholic equivalent of the Looney Tunes Wolf and Sheepdog. You gain points for showing up, for leaving your two cents about the place, and for bringing others with you (who you talked into having the app on their phones, too.)  The more points you receive, the more pretty badges you get, on display for all to see.  And you get to tweet those earned badges out to everyone.  Tweet. Block.  That’s right, during my silence perhaps you can create some paper equivalents of those badges in bright colors to actually wear around your very cool city…

The Benefits of Being Mayor

Play FourSquare loyally, and you move up through the chain established at a particular joint, becoming quite the authority on it.  People might recognize your face and say hello when they show up.  The love abounds. Visit more than anyone else, and you can become “Mayor,” receiving free drinks, entrees and sexual favors. I made up that last one.

Twitter Tweetups, Anywhere

Note the first one. Another dog Tweetup!

Okay, in Twitter you don’t get any badges, earn any points, and don’t get to be Mayor, Councilman, President or Prime Minister of anything.  Unless you already are one of those in real life, or are pretending to be.  But you can schedule and attend those Tweet-ups I mentioned earlier, letting trusted friends know via DM where you’re going, and inviting them.  And with the new Geolocation feature, you can use an iPhone app that tells them exactly how to get there.  And you know what? You can do this anywhere in the World with Internet access and your phone.  Even in my small town, or the one next door we all like to laugh at, because they don’t even have a McDonald’s yet…  That’s right, we are laughing at you again.

Twitter Will Eat FourSquare’s Lunch. Pete and I will go have Sushi

Pete and I takin' off for Bangkok. Tweetup, anyone?

I know I’m not a Social Media Superstar, like Pete Cashmore.  He’s worked hard to achieve that status, and he deserves it.  I love reading the very cool articles his team finds and tweets out.  He writes great pieces himself.  And I am sure he would be a lot of fun on that dance floor in Bangkok. I’m willing to go next time you want to take me…

I think Twitter has incorporated many of the best features of FourSquare, and we tweeters will make it fun on our own.  It will grow on its own, be supported by Twitter’s great team, and 3rd party apps will figure out ways to capitalize on Twitter’s API to support Tweetups.  Businesses will use our exposed Geolocations (Exposed Geolocations. Ha.) to find us nearby and offer up coupons or savings to entice us into their stores or restaurants.  And we’ll do it in the little backwoods corners of the Earth, without those stinkin’ badges.

Just stop following me home already, okay?  It’s really creeping me out…

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AFTERTHOUGHT: I was contacted today by the makers of an application called Flook, which allows its users to create “cards” about a location anywhere they have an Internet connection, simply by taking a photo with their iPhone and providing a commentary.  This can be then tweeted out.  When another person gets near a “Flooked” location, they are alerted, and can see all of the previous “cards” made about it by others.  They can flip through the cards to learn more, or comment back…

How to Retweet, Old-School

In Social Media on November 18, 2009 at 2:18 pm

Was NOT looking forward to this invitation...

I received the beta invitation (or warning) for the new Retweet feature at Twitter yesterday.  Igotta say, it’s one “improvement” that I had not been looking forward to, and I’ll likely work diligently around it for awhile.  I’ve been using the “Old School” retweet method of forwarding those nuggets of information I like to my followers, and it works just fine for me.

Negative sentiment on RT abounds

I know I’m not alone in my sentiment. There are a number of people on Twitter who’ve voiced their disappointment with this untweaking of a valuable communication tool that already works when done properly.  A few of them are pretty heavy hitters in the Social Media world, who have tens or hundreds of thousands of followers and have happily helped Twitter in its growth by providing interesting commentary and multimedia.  They ought to be listened to…

This morning, I came across a comment on Twitter from someone I follow, stating that she was often confused by retweets, trying to figure out who had made the original comment, and what was added by the retweeter.  I realized that if many of us are banding together to push Twitter to unhinge and remove the new feature (or improve it quickly,) we need to ensure others know how to properly retweet, Old School style.

“Old School” Retweet Methods

There are a number of methods people use to retweet information on Twitter, and not all of them are easy to parse.  So I thought I would share a few techniques I have witnesses, and demonstrate what I believe is best.

The Special Character Separator – This form of RT simply resends the message, but places a /, ~,::: or other special character or set at the end followed by the commentary by the retweeter.  Works well for most if you have it obvious, but sometimes the chosen separator doesn’t hit everyone over the head equally.

Use of special character to separate the information

Use of arrows to "point" your comment at the original tweet

The @Sender Put at the End – This form of RT places the @sender name at the end of the commentary, often in parentheses, and sometimes with the word “via”.  Commentary is normally placed after the parentheses.  This format is often constructed by mobile phone apps like Tweetie. The parenthetical separation is typically good enough for people to get who said what.  The person below, however, seems to have sandwiched the RT by commentary before and after…

Putting the (via @sender in parentheses) technique

The Pre-Comment This is my favorite, and I’ll explain why.  In this type of retweet, it kind of feels at first NOT like a retweet, because it doesn’t start out with RT at all. The commentary by the retweeter comes first, drawing more readers in, because it doesn’t feel addressed to anyone in particular.  Then the RT follows the comment, and we can sort of reverse-engineer the conversation.  Here’s an example…

Comment back is placed in front of the RT'd message

You get the commentary first, which seems interesting in itself, and then see that it is a retweet to @Alyssa_Milano  The RT letter set is enough of a visual cue to see the separation between the comments.  Alyssa will see all of the retweets she gets on her messages because like any good user, she is checking her @Mentions often.

The Pre-Comment method is elegant, interesting and if followed by everyone consistently, would be a model for Twitter to use when reworking that new feature I am so diligently ignoring…

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Social Media (and Life) Lessons from Mickey Mouse

In Social Media, What Day is it? on November 18, 2009 at 10:39 am

Still lookin' great after all these years...

Happy 81st Birthday, Mickey Mouse!  Mickey Mouse officially celebrated his birth with the screening of the cartoon Steamboat Willie on this day, back in 1928.

As usual, when discussing what day it is, I had to put some thought to how the remembrance and/or celebration of this popular character’s storied life can be tied to our existence in and use of social media.  And I believe that the celebrated Mouse ties in quite nicely.  Read and decide for yourself!

You can’t control how you come into a scene, but take hold of your future!

Mickey Mouse simply wasn’t really supposed to be.  You see, Charles Mintz of Universal Studios hired a young Walt Disney and his staff to draw for what became the lackluster Oswald the Lucky Rabbit cartoon series.  When Walt asked for an increased budget to support his staff, Mintz went behind his back and hired all of Walt’s staff out from under him, then offered him a paycut in reply.  Walt, of course, was angered and began formulating his exit.

Walt finished out his contract, swearing to control his own destiny by creating his own original works and always retain the rights to them.  He began working with Ub Iwerks, and asked him to come up with some interesting character ideas.  Animals were popular in cartoons, so Ub drew frogs, dogs, cats, cattle and horses, but none of these appealed to Walt.  Looking through some old sketches, Ub discovered that Walt loved mice, having had a pet during his childhood on a farm.  Ub went to work on a few and presented them to Walt.

Walt loved the mice, choosing one in particular, and naming it Mortimer.  His wife Lilian didn’t like the sound of the name and encouraged him Walt to reconsider.  Legend has it that after a chance meeting with Mickey Rooney, Walt decided on Mickey Mouse.

Hand in hand...

In social media, you have the opportunity to spend some time thinking about how you want to be viewed by your audience, how you wish to present yourself.  If it is your desire to have a wide swath of influence, make sure that what you say is either what others need to hear or can relate to.  And make sure that it is honest, coming from your heart.

Mickey Mouse has grown from a bit movie part to the dominating face of the Walt Disney Empire.  He is so inseparable from the Walt Disney brand, that statues commemorating Mr. Disney in his theme parks include him standing and holding Mickey’s hand…

Whether in Twitter or Facebook, you started out with no followers and nobody to listen to.  You diligently sought out interesting people to follow, speaking up and opportune times and saying hello to, and engaging them.  Keep it up.  Even those that have a million followers started with none as they furtively typed in their first comment to the virtual Universe.  Get in there and get involved.  People will love you, too!

Learn from your mistakes and grow

In the silent movie Plane Crazy, Mickey plays the captain of an airship, flying through the skies with his passenger Minnie.  As he has always, Mickey has eyes for Minnie; however Minnie is not interested in his advances.  Mickey continues his amorous plays for affection, going so far as to even force himself on his passenger.  A far cry from the happy-go-lucky and friendly Mickey we know today…

You are the captain of your social media plane. Pay attention to what you are doing there, to your many followers, and engage them in a manner that they deem appropriate.  Don’t force people to follow you back, or push yourself over and over into their conversations.

They do make a cute couple...

Minnie ultimately discovers a parachute and escapes the plane, and Mickey ultimately crash-lands.  The movie was a flop, and is one of the chief reasons that the premiere of his second movie, Steamboat Willie, is the one we use to officially celebrate Mickey’s arrival on the big screen.  It would appear that since their introductions, Mickey has learned from his mistakes, and treats Minnie with far more respect…

Mickey smoked in The Gallopin’ Gaucho, but eventually gave it up, and we are all happier for him, as he celebrates his 81st birthday in full health.  Yes, even mice can be exemplars of improving behavior.

The Biggest Fool is the Guy who Refuses to Learn From His Mistakes.  ~ Gary Arbaugh (@Gary1980Arb)

It’s easy to say something that might offend others in Social Media.  Don’t fret – simply apologize for it, consider a better way to have said what you did, and move on.  Realize that some people will bail on you because they don’t like your style, and you will have to simply accept you cannot please everybody.  If you are respectful and kind to everyone you meet, you will soon find the seats in your social airliner filled with plenty of people returning the affection…

Always be friendly and respectful to others

The original bromance.

Across the board, Mickey Mouse is the most friendly of all of Walt Disney’s creations.  No matter what is going on in his life, he greets his friends and even strangers with kindness and consideration.  He is always quick to welcome in someone at his door, always ready to lend a hand or lend something to those in need, and ready to cheer up his curmudgeonly friend Donald Duck.  Who by the way seriously needs to work on that speech impediment.

If all of us greeted our friends and followers with the same loving acceptance of whoever was on the other side of the connection, I have a feeling we would spend even more time in social media enjoying the company.  Get involved in causes after carefully researching them, and don’t be afraid to cheer up the grumps.  Everybody has a bad day.

Don’t let others get you down

For some, the term Mickey Mouse has been used to mean shoddy or shady, from a character in the movie The Godfather II referring to a “Mickey Mouse Operation,” to Indiana Jones saying “Yeah, and I’m Mickey Mouse.”  While visiting foreign lands and noting unusual (and questionable) currencies, Americans have often referred to the flimsy notes as “Mickey Mouse Money.”  British Soccer fans call the second-tier League  Cup competition’s award “the Mickey Mouse Cup.”

We all have our nemeses both in life and here in social media, who put us down privately (and even publicly,) or question our motives and abilities.  Despite this behind-the-back derision using his name, Mickey has remained cheerful and forward-looking.  He has refused to let anyone get him down, and as young children seeing his fortitude, many of us have grown to love and respect the Mouse.  Keep moving forward with purpose, and those that deride you will eventually fade away in their own negativity.  There is also the block feature…

Be consistent in all that you do

Always humble, always consistent...

We’re talking about a little guy who wears the same outfit 99% of the time.  Consistency is Mickey Mouse’s forte and one of the big reasons he has been so successful over the last 80 years.  We know the many consistent attributes of Mickey Mouse, and no matter the twists and turns of plot in a Disney cartoon, we know exactly how he is going to react.

Change your social media avatar only when needed, because it is part of that essential “brand” you have among others.  Changing your avatar temporarily makes it hard for people to find you in the stream of information, as you are now an unfamiliar sight.  You don’t want to get lost by the very same people who love what you have to say because you shaved that mustache or went blonde.

Take the time to truly know yourself, what you stand for and therefore how you ought to behave around others in all situations.  Be well-grounded and familiar in your own personal philosophy and make the difficult decisions that keep you on course with it, or change when needed.  Consistency in behavior sets the needed deep habits that will carry you through the hazards that come into all of our lives. Those that know and appreciate you will love you all the more for the bedrock you provide in their lives while facing the larger societal issues impacting the news or their lives, and will they reward you on Follow Friday by asking others to follow you too….

Be willing to try new things

From his exciting but lustful beginnings as a plane pilot to his happy-go-lucky, whistling days on a steamboat, Mickey has moved on to serve as a soldier, a musical conductor,  tried his hand at Wizardry, has been a detective, and enjoyed a host of other roles in life.  Mickey has cheerfully gone wherever sent by his animators, and If he were real, would’ve learned quite a bit from each new character.

Don’t be afraid to try new things.  We are always faced with little opportunities disguised as hard work, and should never shy away from them.  Often, these new responsibilities lead to growth whether as a person or employee.  Never be afraid to figure out those things that seem positively magical in their complication; we often discover they are not so difficult once in the middle of the fray.

Find and make a variety of friendships in social media.  Don’t keep your sphere of influence limited to those that look and sound and work like you.  A wealth of varied experiences and backgrounds keep the stream of information flowing on your computer screen interesting. Accept the friend and follow requests from oddballs once in awhile, because you will soon discover that those residing outside of the box say things that make you both laugh and think, to say the least.

Be always at the ready to take the lead when asked

Always ready to serve you...

In politics, of all write-in protest candidates, Mickey Mouse has led the charge when voters have been dissatisfied with their offerings. Because of his consistently cheerful countenance and pleasant ways, Mickey on countless occasions he has had his name written down on ballot after ballot, his name bandied about in practically every single Presidential election since his birth.  He has been offered up as a leader at school board, mayoral, city council, senatorial and gubernatorial elections.

If you follow Mickey’s social examples, you will soon find yourself in demand in the lives of your friends and followers, asking for help and sage advice.  Don’t shirk your new-found popularity; rather, once again jump in with both feet and expand your niche.  Give your opinion humbly, and accept the thanks when given.

Stand up for your ideals and beliefs

If you ever want to see the power of protectiveness, just begin a business enterprise using the Mickey Mouse character, without first asking permission from the Walt Disney Company.  You will soon find yourself swarming in legal battles and facing off against a league of attorneys four-deep.  Walt Disney is extremely protective of its characters, Mickey Mouse in particular.  It’s Mother Hen-like guard over its brand has allowed Disney to grow profitably into new ventures over time.

Don’t let others take credit for what you do, know or say. Stand up for yourself, and make sure others know from whence the good ideas flowed.  Politely remind people to retweet or recomment giving proper credit when due. Be consistent in branding who you are and what you stand for, so that others can easily define you when they too go to bat for you.

Tackle issues head-on

Mickey has always been up-front about problems or issues he sees.  If he sees someone being bullied, he is the first to gather up his gumption and speak out.  Invariably, he gets the snot knocked out of him, but her perseveres and ultimately wins out, and we respect him for it.

His values can make a difference online, too...

I have had the honor of helping Kirstie Alley (@kirstiealley) with Aquathon, a 24-hour social media marathon last July, wherein with the help of thousands, we raised $28,000 to drill 2 fresh water wells in Africa.  I am looking forward to Aquathon II, slated for May 1st of 2010, a dance-a-thon to held World-wide.  I am currently working with Josh Charles (@joshcharles) with his very meaningful project to donate 100% of the profits of his beautiful song Healing Time, to rebuild the homes in the Lower 9th Ward of New Orleans, where people are still smarting from the destruction of Hurricane Katrina.

There are a variety of issues you can address using social media.  Take one that means a lot to you personally, and run with it.  You can hold contests, tweet and ask for retweets, blog about your cause and send the links out.  Create multimedia presentations by playing music and sending photos related to the cause.  Be judicious in the amount of time you spend discussing your cause, so that your followers do not become jaded or block you due to the noise.

Of course, patterning your life or social media presence after a cartoon character might not seem desirable.  But at least take the time to learn from the values that made Mickey Mouse popular all around the World.  And if the big ol’ yellow shoes and round black ears fit, then wear ’em!

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From Tolerance to Acceptance

In Social Media, What Day is it? on November 16, 2009 at 10:09 pm

Tolerance n. 1. Recognition of and respect for the opinions, beliefs, or actions of others. 2. The amount of variation from a standard that is allowed. 3. Capacity to withstand pain or hardship. 4. Physical resistance to poison.

I thought I’d start out with a propaganda film from the 1950’s regarding Homosexuality, just to put you in the mood…

The video was created in 1961 by filmmaker Sid Davis, and was funded by both the Inglewood Police Department and his Inglewood Unified School District.  In those days, it was acceptable for government monies to help propagate the myth that Homosexuality was a “sickness of the mind,” or that gay men were pedophiles.  Although as a rule we’ve stopped using government funds to share such idiocy, the myths still exist in the minds of people we come across daily, and the ideals resulting from such falsehoods still slip out of the mouths of many.

Example of sadly familiar hate-tweets

Three days ago, I blocked a person on Twitter, an action that I reserve for spam-bots, britney-bots, someone trying to sell me something, people who are rude or obnoxious, and your garden-variety bigots.   This particular person fell under the last of those categories, and I had no qualms whatsoever as the block happened in a knee-jerk manner.

The last tweet I will ever see from the guy read something like this, “Here’s my daily sound-off on the Muslims.  They have no business being in America. Round em up and ship em off.” (I changed it a bit so nobody would find the guy using Twitter Search and slam him too badly…)

I don’t miss the guy, and he was completely lost to memory until I saw what day it was today – International Day of Tolerance.  So the question arose in me – Was I, too, being intolerant?  Should I have continued to follow the guy, despite his demonstrated hatred of those he obviously knew little about?

The Importance of Tolerance

We walk among our history, good or bad.

The next time you’re walking down a crowded street, take a moment to think about the incredible variety of backgrounds surrounding you.  The man walking by you enjoying his latté  may have come from grandparents who were chased from their homeland by people hating their faith.  The woman juggling the cell phone while folding and tucking the newly purchased newspaper may have heard hushed stories from her father about dear friends or relatives being killed simply because of their race.

We are the culmination of the co-mingled hopes and dreams of our ancestors, the centuries of hard work and strife as each generation before ours was pushed forward, cajoled and upbraided, supported and loved.  We are also the product of the intolerance our ancestors suffered, as well as the intolerance they may have shown to others.  The wounds are still there, if you look closely enough, listen carefully enough.  You can still easily find the stereotyping, the racial jokes, the homophobic commentary, and the fear and anger it incites in those that are ultimately its victims, the pain and hardship that stereotyped individuals have had to endure.

Remember these guys? Did you know them?

With each passing generation, the anger dims a bit, as tolerance spreads further, rippling outward from those that are exemplars of it.  There also remain those that abhor tolerance, angry vacuums of bigotry, using all available means to suck in those that are unprepared to face the variety of existence around them.  It is our role to face these black holes of hatred head-on, to become immune to their poisons, so that others do not lose their entire lives to it.

Raised to See the Difference?

We have grown up in a world that sees the differences, categorizing each other since early childhood. The playgrounds and hallways of our youth held the jocks, the populars, the socials, the nerds, the loners, the rockers, the goths, the emos, the eggheads, the geeks and endless other categories of those that were different.  Some of us wended and weaved among these groups, picking and choosing friends as we found fellowship in the varied ranks of many.  Many of us did not, choosing one group or another to temporarily identify with.

Tolerance must be learned, must be shared and supported as a life-skill.  Without it, our children will not be able to wend and weave their way through life, will find it difficult to reach across those artificial boundaries, and will be stunted in their ability to connect to a wider World filled with different people being rapidly woven together through social media and technology.  Without the ability to tolerate, people get paid by us to make movies to frighten our children with lies. And worse.

The Teaching of Tolerance

“The highest result of education is tolerance.” ~ Helen Keller

It always starts at home...

The teaching of tolerance begins at home, with how we behave and what we say around our family, especially our children.  Even the smallest allowance for stereotyping or discrimination cracks the door ajar for more, like dirty little flies scurrying into our home.

Avoid stereotyping -It is assumed that if you are reading this post, you know that people of all races are equally as intelligent, as funny, as quiet, as athletic, as studious, as hardworking.  Avoid the urge to lump in others who may share a physical trait, sexual orientation, or religious faith, no matter how many similarities you believe you have found in your experience.  Young children reside in what must seem to be a very complicated world, and many will readily grasp at these oversimplifications.  It’s a nasty little short-cut that bypasses true learning about the people around them, and should be avoided at all costs.

Avoid derogatory terms – If you have used derogatory terms in the past, stop.  And not just around your children, either.  Never denigrate others, no matter what they have done to offend or hurt you.  If you must vent, avoid the use of degrading terms related to race, sexual preference or religious background.  If you tell jokes or “funny” stories with those terms, you are simply hurting your children’s ability to tolerate differences they come across in others later in life. Examine the use of terms such as “That’s so gay,” and you will see how it poisons the atmosphere for others.

Be the example – Start at home and begin to learn how to tolerate the differences in opinion your spouse and children have with you. Listening is key in this.  The former head of the United Nations Kofi Annan, one of the most powerful negotiators in modern times, is noted for his ability to listen at the bargaining table.  Ask simple and meaningful questions to learn how other’s think, and they in turn will be more open to your thoughts. Speak respectfully, even in the heat of an argument.  And try to keep your opinions to yourself when it comes to how your teens’ friends dress.

From Tolerance to Acceptance

How big is your circle of friends?

The word tolerance has the connotation of “putting up with” someone, rather than accepting them. When we merely put up with working in the presence of an openly gay person, we are practicing the 2nd definition of tolerance, allowing for a so-called variation or deviation from what we believe to be the personal standard or societal norm. But if you discovered your coworkers merely put up with your presence in the office, how would it affect you? Where we define the area to draw our acceptable standards from is one way to move toward acceptance.

You can choose to restrict the definition of acceptable behavior to that found within your own home,  where everybody comes from shared values, experiences, race and faith. Anyone outside this tight circle would be a variation, a deviation of some sort.  But move your vision to the neighborhood, and what is acceptable expands with the borderline.  Now we have to include in what is “normal” the Gays and Lesbians, Muslims and Jews, Blacks, Hispanics and Whites that reside within this wider circle.  So many new capitalized words! So many interesting people!

When you move the sweep of the circle to encompass our entire nation, the variations are almost impossible to behold, and the border defining what is the standard blurs.  If this is from where you draw your definition of standard or norm, then you must now see the Bisexuals, Transgenders, people of mixed-race, all variety of faiths and intra-faith sects, agnostics and atheists, and so forth.  Gets pretty hard now, doesn’t it, to place someone as a variation or deviation from the standard, huh?

Of course, many of us expand  of our circle of acceptance only to the boundaries of our chosen faith and/or morality, and I understand this concept.  I cannot fault you for doing so, and do appreciate the extent to which some of us live closer to those boundaries, for it is at those moral walls that we hear the voices of the Outsiders.  Perhaps from time to time we can peek around and say hello…

Teaching Ourselves Acceptance

So how do we draw such a big circle, and move ourselves from tolerance to acceptance?

There's room under the rainbows...

Learn about other faiths – From Churches and Synagogues to Mosques and Temples, go out and learn about others’ faiths by participating in events there, and meeting their adherents.  Scan your local newspaper’s faith section for cultural fairs, open houses and open worship nights.  Say hello, try some interesting foods, ask a bunch of questions, mispronounce things, pick up some literature, and enjoy the similarities found in our common desire toward morally desirable behavior.  Look for interfaith alliance groups and lend your voice, too.

Show support for people of all sexual orientations – There’s plenty of space in Gay Pride parades for straight people to help hold up those big, beautiful banners. Ask your local chapter of PFLAG (Parents, Family and Friends of Gays and Lesbians) if they need any help with fundraising or activities.  Attend candlelight vigils in support of equal marriage rights, and share a cup of coffee with those seeking legal acceptance of life-long love and commitment. Read and learn about the difficulties encountered in the lives of transgenders.  Don’t worry, they’ll like you, too…

Become a community advocate against Racism – Donate time and/or money to help organizations that combat Racism in your community.  Make a few phone calls and ask if you can help flip pancakes for fundraisers, or attend speeches by civil rights leaders who come to town.  Take some time off from work to march with others whenever you can.  Shake hands and meet people in attendance, and begin networking with them.  Write to your local paper and exhort others to join in rallies against Racism and bigotry.

Creating a Global Standard

Our place is with them...

But what of an even grander sweep of vision, encompassing the incredible richness of human life on our whole planet?  Can you draw your circle of friends this wide? In this view, we gaze upon all of humanity, and all ethnic, religious and sexual differences disappear. We are left viewing the breadth of “human” existence.   From this standpoint, our backgrounds, orientations and preferences are no longer limited to what is valued in just our family, our neighborhood, our region or nation.  We become a part of the human PhotoShop colorwheel, blending into the person next to us, interconnected and part of a loving rainbow.

In a global existence, it is much easier to move from tolerance of others to acceptance of all.  From this place, how far is it to move into the warm embrace of those around us?  We are all equals, with so much to learn from each other.  We talk and share openly, visit each other’s places of worship in respect and admiration, breaking a variety of breads in fellowship at each other’s tables.  A much greater compassion is learned from connecting with each other, and soon, those that discriminate and differentiate become the variation from the standard.

The Global Standard and Social Media

Social media is teaching us to look across borders, finding fellowship in the wonderful people of all races, all backgrounds, all preferences.   We sign up, log on, and are soon swimming in what seems to be, at first, a sea of difference.  As we talk and share, view pictures of loved ones and celebrations, listen to music on instruments we cannot pronounce, receive recipes for foods we previously did not know existed, the armor of our stereotypes begin to fail us.  With the veil of distance removed, we go from seeing the differences to the similarities we all hold, and reveling in our new-found together-ness.

So was I being too harsh on the guy who was bashing all Muslims? Should I have left him in my stream as a sign of tolerance? I don’t think so, and here’s why.  Tolerance has its limits.  We should never tolerate words that harm or threaten to harm another.  Race-baiting, religious intolerance, and hatred run counter to the desired goal of greater  tolerance and acceptance.  I choose not to provide a forum for poisonous behavior, to lend even a speck of legitimacy by having him listed in my followers.  I don’t have time for haters, because I am spending all of my time in the company of wonderful people here seeking to know me, as I come to know them…

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The Follow Friday Primer

In Social Media on November 13, 2009 at 1:33 am

twitter_logo_what_doingYou just wrapped up your first week of Twitter, said hello to the world, quietly squeaking inside over your very first follower, discovered the joys of that reply button, and publicly thanked each and every new follow you received.

As the week progressed, you discovered the naughty Britney Bots and how to block and/or report them.  Depending on what you said, a variety of businesses showed up in your Follower tally.

As you gained confidence, you formulated pithy hellos to celebrities and pranced all over the power-user’s pages to see who they followed.  You marvelled at the sharing of music, photos and links to everything, everywhere.  Twitter was really starting to get exciting and cool, as the endless stream of information, emotions, laughter, love, angst and more went steadily by on your screen.

Just as things seemed to fall into a gentle rhythm, Friday rolled around, and after logging in you now find yourself surrounded in a sea of endless @ and # symbols. It’s Follow Friday on Twitter.  Now what do you do?

follow_friday_list

You are likely seeing a whole bunch of these...

There are a variety of resources that describe and help guide you through the process of providing shoutouts to those you love on Twitter.  I know, I’ve read a bunch of them, and have done my best to pull all of the hints and ideas together in one place.  If you landed here, I hope I can make this whole thing easier.

So start me off by explaining this Follow Friday thing to me.

twitter_micah

Micah Baldwin, Founder of #FollowFriday

Follow Friday has been around on Twitter since January of 2009, when Micah Baldwin @micah suggested it.  People agreed that it would be nice if everyone took at least part of one day a week to let others know which of those they followed they really like, for reasons left up to them.  Everyone would provide the name of their favs including the @ symbol so it became a clickable link, along with the hashtag #FF or #FollowFriday to let everyone know it was their Friday Favorites.  To keep from overwhelming a stream, people began putting a list of people on each #FF tweet, rather than one tweet for each person.

I’m just starting out and am still figuring out who I like to follow.

There’s nothing wrong with simply opting out of the whole Follow Friday thing until you get a handle on it.  Simply watch those you follow share their favorites.  Check out the names that jump out at you by clicking on their usernames to get to their profiles.  Read the new profiles and their recent tweets, and decide for yourself if you wish to follow them too.  One of the wonderful benefits of this is you could likely receive some follows in return.

Introduce yourself to your favorite new people you followed, the ones that show the greatest promise for meaningful interaction. You can even let the person who recommended them know in the same tweet! Here’s how…

said_to_follow

She included the new follow and who recommended it all in one!

People love to know that their hard work sending #FFs out have caused someone, somewhere to follow their favorites too!

I’ve seen how this works, and I want to jump on the Follow Friday love train too...

Once you are ready to begin sharing your favorites with the Twitter world, there are a few techniques to consider, to make your follows most impactful.  By no means do you have to follow these rules, but they help….

Follow Friday Do’s:

  1. twitter_alancolmes_ff

    Alan Colmes' Follow Fridays

    Spend some time thinking about who you will provide a #FF shoutout for.  There is nothing wrong with typing up the list on a Word document in order to keep things straight and save time later.

  2. Space your #FF tweets out, providing at least a 15 second period of time between each.  Even if you decided to use the Word document technique listed above, take your time…
  3. Don’t put more than 3 people in a #FF tweet and include a comment such as “Funny people, always there to make me laugh.”  This means you will have to come up with categories for your #FF tweets, and will need to pick the top 3 people in that group.  Challenge yourself to only send one tweet in that category.
  4. If you keep your tweet down to 120 characters, it will make it easier to “retweet” or RT it, as it leaves space for the additional @ symbol, username and RT. Yes, people do often RT Follow Fridays…
  5. Some like to send out #FFs for their new recent followers, as a weekly welcoming message. This is especially nice for those people that have immediately engaged with you and shared often.  Fox news commentator @AlanColmes did this for me, and I was impressed by it greatly.
  6. Perhaps you’d like to limit your #FFs to those of your followers that interacted with you the most in the preceding week, or were the most consistent in responding to your information.  This can include commenting on your photos, talked to you about favorite articles, listened to your music links, or read a recent blog post.  It can also mean those that shared their own information with you.
  7. For fairly new users, you can provide a #FF shoutout for those individuals that have helped you the most, introducing you to Twitter and encouraging you along the way.  Hint.

Follow Friday Don’ts:

  1. ff_thank_yous

    Don't forget to say Thank You!

    Don’t send out more than 10 #FF tweets at once.  Remember you are only one voice among potentially hundreds or even thousands of people someone is following.

  2. Don’t send your #FF tweets in rapid-fire succession.  You just become background noise, easy to ignore (or worse, to unfollow or block.)
  3. Don’t send #FF tweets chock-full of usernames with no reason as to why we should follow them.  C’mon, throw us a bone on this one, so we can at least make a quick decision about whether we want more information from “great fishermen” or “funny accountants” in our stream.  People rarely follow ANYONE on a list of names without a reason…
  4. Don’t forget to thank people for including you in their #FFs.  Check your @YourName mentions link to see them rolling in…
  5. Don’t recommend anyone you are not following yourself. Go ahead, check and make sure.

Other #FF methods being recently utilized

Twitter Lists – You can create Twitter lists and then tweet out the link with a description of its purpose. This will lead people to follow your list vice your followers, something slowly gaining favor as the new Twitter List feature finishes its rollout.

tweepmlTweepML – With many thanks to @BuzzEdition for introducing me to this great site.   Like Twitter’s List feature, in TweepML you can create a list of favorites in a variety of categories and tweet out the list.  I love that interested people can follow everyone on your TweepML list with just one click.  This saves tons of time! TweepML has recently added Twitter Lists support so you can type in the address of a Twitter list to follow everyone on it, but it is still buggy…  NOTE: Using this too much will cause Twitter to suspend interactions with TweepML for awhile, so be judicious.

Thinking outside of the box

With a bit of creativity and a lot of time, you can take your Follow Fridays to a whole new level.  Here is one such example from one of my favorite Tweeps, Gary Arbaugh (@Gary1980Arb):

The Twitter Love Boat

If you have found this post to be of help to you in navigating the vagaries of Follow Friday, please feel free to follow me at @_stevewoods and/or Retweet this article!

Giving Wooxie a Look

In Social Media on November 6, 2009 at 6:40 am
wooxie_main

Main page on Wooxie

There have been a number of websites that have tried their hand at replacing Twitter as the next best thing since, well, Twitter.  Many have fallen short,  providing a user experience that was lacking, and disappearing into the social elephant graveyard.  I recently was invited to try my hand at Wooxie, and was pleasantly surprised by what I saw.

Wooxie, a micro- and macro-blogging site created by Jeff Knize, is what Twitter should’ve been from the start, integrating within it features that the popular micro-blogging site has decided to leave up to 3rd-party apps such as Twitpic, Twitlonger, TinyUrl, Tweetdeck and others.  Remember back in September when Twitter went down for awhile (the Twitterpocalypse,) and everyone began searching for alternatives?  Although Wooxie does not have a great deal of users on board, it gained a significant following during that time.  And to be honest, most returned happily to Twitter when it came back up.  But you never know…

I’m going to tell you my experience with Wooxie, Pros and Cons, and perhaps you’ll consider creating an account and helping to get the party started…

PROS:

macro_blogging

The macro-blogging feature of Wooxie.

155 vice 140 characters – You’ll be pleasantly suprised to find 15 more characters to say what is on your mind in Wooxie.  How many times did you need just a few more keystrokes to make it all work, judiciously slaughtering your comment with the use of u, &, and vowel-less words? Knize says that his team determined that around 155 characters is the “sweet spot” for microbloggers to say what they need.

Macro-blogging – for those times when you need more room to say it, Wooxie incorporates a macro-blogging feature allowing 240 – 1,440 characters for the comment.  You no longer have to break up your tweet into many little ones, or log into 3rd party apps such as Twitlonger to make the story juicier. Just click on Wooxie’s Go Macro button and you’ll be given some extra space! Dude, if you still have problems with it, get a blog!

wooxie_categories

Interest Categories in Wooxie

Interest Categories – Rather than guessing or relying on tweets and profile information to find new, interesting people to follow, you can identify yourself using interest categories.  In your profile settings you can include yourself in up to 15 interest categories (there are 35 offered, including Social Media, Animals and Pets, Music, Family, Food, Video Games, Health and Wellness.)  Others can search by those categories and find you.

Searching for others from any of these categories is easy, sort of like a Lists feature, months before Twitter got it worked out.  Rather than relying on how others have categorized you, Wooxie allows users to determine that for themselves.  And whenever you are looking at someone’s username, Wooxie will tell you whether he or she shares your interests based on having similar categories chosen.

To change which of the 15 allowed categories you belong to, simply visit the Settings tab and check or uncheck the boxes as desired.  If the categories don’t properly define  you, then do so in your profile and through what you say…  See CONS below regarding a search feature, however.

Wooxie’s founders say that the categories feature will help its users avoid spammers, although I can see spammers in all categories waiting to be chosen by those that don’t take the time to look at what they say over time before following them.  Judicious use of the unfollow feature should take care of this.

wooxie_photos

Wooxie Photos and Albums

Built-in Photo Sharing and Albums – Wooxie not only allows you to upload images into your own integrated image library, you can even categorize the images into a simple personal or business album.  No longer will you need to visit Twitpic, YFrog or Twitgoo to house (and share) those pics of your trip to Hawaii or new puppies.  You can put new pics in and share them immediately as part of the interface (looks a little like Brizzly as it shows the images inline,) or you can simply upload them into one of your albums without sharing, and share them when you are ready at a later date.

Twitter and Facebook update integration – You can share your “Woofs” with your other social media accounts by providing Wooxie access to them.  As long as your Twitter login information matches your Wooxie information, you can tweet as you normally do on Twitter through the Wooxie interface, and even update your status on FaceBook simultaneously. See CONS about this feature.

Private or Public “Woofing” – A bit on the shy side? You can protect your comments from the eyes of others, sharing only with those that you allow to follow you, or go fully public with the details of your life, by choosing what you prefer in the Settings tab.

Rewoofing – Similar to the RT feature found only in 3rd party Twitter applications such as TweetDeck, Wooxie integrates a Rewoof (RW) one-click feature. See CONS for limitations on this feature.

wooxie_urls

Wooxie's URL Shortener

Integrated URL-Shortener – No bit.ly, ow.ly, or tinyurl accounts or systems in order to obtain a shorter link for those incredibly long blog post URLs.  Wooxie has a built-in URL shortener.  Although the addition of http://url.wooxie.com in front of each shortened URL is a full 8 characters longer than the bit.ly shortening system, with the additional 15 characters you get in Wooxie, it’s really not a loss… See CONS

Profiles and Backgrounds – As to be expected in social media accounts, you have the ability to customize with your own personal avatar, chosen color schemes, and canned or customized background images (700 kb max with jpg or gif support.)

Featuring Fans or Followers – you can feature either one of your “fans” who follow you, or one of the users you are following.  These will show up on your main page, telling everyone who visits who you think are especially great or interesting.  It’s easy to add them and take them back off later. See CONS about this one.

Replies, Favorites and Private Messages – Wooxie has been careful in including all of the best features of Twitter, including the ability to see who has mentioned you, the ability to save comments as favorites to review later, and the ever-necessary private messaging feature, so you can talk without others reading.

wooxie_adsense

The Google AdSense Interface

Google Adsense – Create an AdSense account, and you can make money as others visit your page and click on the advertisements there.  See CONS.

CONS:

Where are all of the people? This is a killer, and has to be addressed through marketing. Get the users there to talk with each other, and it will grow…

Search Feature? – This interface is in dire need of a search box allowing one to search for users by what they’ve said or what is written in their profile.  The category, username or name choices are severely limited.  I understand the desire to find someone with similar interests, but I want to define the keywords that make for that interest.

No Commenting in the RW (Rewoof) Feature – The Wooxie RW feature falls short in that unlike the very popular Tweetdeck, it does not allow for you to add some extra commentary prior to submitting the rewoof.  To add your own commentary to the RW, you are left copying and pasting.  In other words, it’s like what Twitter is moving to…..

Ads? Really? – The integration of Google’s Adsense is interesting and I am sure desirable to some, but for the rest of us, it might get a bit annoying, especially if the ads make their way into the longer comments and/or pictures sent out, so I hope that it stays on the profile page only, or it will probably backfire… Honestly, I don’t think anyone is going to click on ads on someone’s profile page, but for big players like Mashable, Google Ads just might bring in a small but tidy income.

No “Block” Feature – This is a biggie for some. You can unfollow users in Wooxie and no longer see what they have to say, but they can still contact you by addressing you directly. How do you leave that one out, guys?  It’s a must-have, to prevent bullying in the least…

wooxie_featured

Wooxie Featured Section

Twitter and FaceBook Integration One-Way – You can update your social media accounts, but replies won’t get sent back to Wooxie. But we are used to this, as Twitter does not grab back replies in FaceBook to sent updates.

Featuring Fans or Followers Limited – Although you can highlight these individuals, it would be nice to state why they are being highlighted. Perhaps a statement could show up when you hover your cursor over their picture?

URL Shortening not Tracked – Those of us who want to see how successful our link retweeting action is, would seriously like to see a tracker for the shortened Wooxie URLs.

After reading all of this, why not try out Wooxie for yourself? Go ahead, create an account using the same login information as Twitter, and give it a whirl. Lend your voice for awhile and let’s see if we can kick this party into gear.  The interface needs some additional work, so consider it to be in Beta form. If you decide Twitter is where you need to stay, at least you have a placeholder in Wooxie if things take off for them, too.  As for me, I was able to obtain the username Steve.  Very cool, if this thing takes off, I get to be the Steve…. Ha.

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The Emerging Global Sense

In Social Media, What Day is it? on November 4, 2009 at 10:50 am

“Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it, no matter if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense.”  ~ Siddharta

angry_dad

Dad was madder than this...

Today is Use Your Common Sense Day. How many times, growing up, did an adult say to you angrily “Use some common sense?”  Oh, it was the worse, because it left you feeling like you were mentally deficient, that some part of your logical faculty had been left off when you were formed in the womb.  It was a popular one for my Father when he was angry at some stupid stunt I had pulled and got into trouble over.  Of all the things he said to me, in addition to the belt-smacks on my bottom, that statement stung the most.  I was left wondering for long disquieting hours whether or not I was ever going to grow up and be as smart as my Dad, whether or not I would ever be good enough…

Origin of the concept of Common Sense

Common sense as a phrase was first coined by Aristotle, although he had something very different in mind from

aristotle3

Aristotle

what we think of today.  Aristotle viewed common sense as a physical reaction, a visceral response to the signals provided by a special, inner body organ, akin to our eyes or ears, tongue, nose or skin.  This mysterious, hidden organ pulled together  and filtered the information from the other organs and helped us to make sound, practical judgments.  Sound a bit like a brain, huh?  I believe Aristotle held this theory because of the bodily impulse we feel when driven to do what is right, or what our conscious tells us is best.  Like puppets, we are physically manipulated by the forces of common good. And like a puppet, if the impulse is strong enough, it is impossible to deny our master’s wishes.

Common Sense today

Today we know common sense as sound, practical judgment, derived from experience rather than study.  We didn’t learn to use it from long periods of time in classrooms, or as a result of pondering great works of literature; rather it is native good judgement, learned in the locality in which we live, allowing us to make what appear to be sound decisions in our environment.

Business group

We tend to shun those that oppose our beliefs.

As a concept, common sense refers to attitudes and widely held beliefs that ultimately may be difficult to justify.  Despite this fact, they are generally assumed by those holding them to be time-tested and reliable, generations after first developed. Break from these long-held beliefs and you will likely find yourself isolated from the larger group and labelled as mentally disturbed, mentally handicapped or socially inept.  Why don’t you just get it?  It’s common sense!  It’s not the fault of the one questioning; often, we deny them their fair hearing as a protective measure, keeping ourselves from having to share in the new challenge to our commonly-held beliefs.

The Genius of the Opposer

On the flip side of the coin, it is also the mark of true genius to shirk what is conventionally held as common knowledge, in the pursuit of a once-hidden truth which ultimately we come to embrace.  We once held as common sense that our big, beautiful Earth was flat, actually imprisoned those that said otherwise, and treated opposers publicly as insane or in league with the Devil.  The very word Satan comes from the Hebrew

einstein

He smilingly opposed those of his time...

word Ha’Satan, meaning “the Opposer.”  How much easier it must’ve been to simply point fingers at those that questioned our common-sense authority and call them such, than to take the long hours of time determining if what they were saying was valid, and/or admitting a personal mistake.

Through the centuries, we’ve also held as common sense that only men and women could (and should) be attracted sexually to each other, that men and women of different races could not marry, that the darker the skin the lighter the intelligence, that our circumstances are born to us and cannot be changed, and a host of others that still linger.  Just this week a judge stepped down after publicly refusing to marry an interracial couple, because he held the opinion that those relationships were fraught with disaster.  Remember, his opinion would’ve been applauded as common-sensical by a majority of our population 60 years ago, and is now derided by an even-great percentage.  Oh, how social tables turn…

The Value of Common Sense

So if common sense is so capricious in nature, why is it held in such esteem?  John Berger viewed common sense as a home-grown ideology developed by the great masses in response to having to figure things out without the benefit of a proper education in critical thought.  After all, most of us can’t afford an experienced, personalized teacher to walk us through life, spending day after day with us examining the values that guide us, exposing every closely-held truth to the light and helping us move past the misconceptions.  We have to get on with the practice of living today and now, working with others, trying to get along…

“Common sense is the collection of prejudices acquired by age eighteen.”  ~ Einstein

raft

Our cobbled-together, sea-worthy lives

Common sense works because it allows us to travel the rough waters of our lives on a lashed-together raft of semi-false wisdom.  But at least we are moving, right?  Berger viewed common sense as a mish-mash of religious hold-overs, information we individually discovered through experience, skepticism of “new” ideas as a form of protection of what we already hold as truth, and items held merely for comfort’s sake.   The very thought of trying to approach this mountain of tangled briars and slowly, methodically removing each branch, pricking ourselves emotionally along the way and crying through the pain is frightening, to say the least.  But as a society we go through this pain together and cyclically, in nation after nation, as one gifted, charismatic philosopher after another pushes us forward together.  Ghandi was one such figure, Confucius, Buddha, Martin Luther King, Jr. and a host of others.  There are men and women in our future, still-unborn, who will someday pull us closer to the shore and one day help us find more honest paths to stroll through in life.

Emerging from Common Sense

So why is it important to face up to our commonly held values, to cast them aside if they work so well?  Berger re-emerges in this conversation, and tells us that despite its efficacy in holding us all together “happily” in belief (unless you are on the short end of the commonly-held belief,) common sense never grows from its own nourishment, never moves itself (and hence us) beyond its current state, without the insertion of philosophy.

dark_forest

It's scary to go into unknown places...

Descartes viewed common sense as the faculty man uses to survive on life’s journey, until he finds himself in the mysterious realms dominated by the lords of philosophy, a domain in which all of the tools amassed in his life are roughly taken from him and cast into the rough seas of fact.  Some of us have a more difficult time with the loss.  You’ve seen them, sitting in the back row of your college Critical Thinking class, angry as the professor verbally pickaxes the sturdy foundation the student resided on up to that moment.  And just like that student, I have walked upon a firm foundation built on religious values, good intentions, stereotypes, personal experience and plain bigotry.  I have had the floor destroyed from under me on more than one occasion.  It’s a painful time, as I find myself once again in that place, the role of my Father played by life itself, and I once again that little child being painfully schooled.  And once again, I smart for a time, until I accept that I was wrong, that I have much, much more to learn, and forgive the harshness of the lesson in favor of the content.

Social Media and the new Global Sense

“Common sense is not so common.”  ~ Voltaire

With the advent of Social Media and Internet-connectivity, we find ourselves going through changes that do not reverberate in one isolated community, in one nation or religious group.  Our lashed-together rafts are no longer travelling down local streams, but are instead fighting against ocean currents.  Those locally-held belief systems are collapsing under the critical eyes of the larger community, whose lives were not shaped by the same values.  Login, and find yourself challenged in all directions.

global_sense

The emerging social Global Sense

The Internet is rapidly becoming that personalized teacher, ever-present and ready to walk with us.  Hold racist ideals because your parents do?  Be ready to have to explain yourself to a variety of individuals of every race, to those who never held such beliefs and are disgusted by those that do.  Misogynist?  Be prepared for an onslaught of women who have more than the mental capacity to decimate your “common sense” values with 140 keystrokes.  Common misconceptions, stereotypes, and small-mindedness have never known a time where there were fewer places to hide from the light.  What is true where you live is no longer true when dealing with the globalized community of Twitter or Facebook.

It’s time to step into the light, to share with others, to listen intently to the words of others, and learn from each other.  It’s time to do more than tolerate; rather, let us learn to embrace, and one more – let us learn to Change. Social Media is redefining common sense, pulling it from the tight grasps of the small village, the isolated desert town, the gated community lives we lead, and unfolding before us a new Global Sense of what we believe.  This shared stream of thought is being nourished daily by each and every one of us who are connected into the larger community, spreading runners underground and popping up in places impossible to ignore, knocking old, valued crockery off of shelves and upsetting those asleep.

It is unfortunate that my Father passed away before the emergence of Twitter.  If I could’ve persuaded him to discover it, I think he might’ve gotten a taste of his own medicine.  And I would’ve been there beside him, helping steer the raft…

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Getting the Most From Twitter Lists

In Social Media on October 30, 2009 at 2:08 pm

We’ve been awaiting (or dreading) their arrival, and now they are finally here.  I’m not talking about the Kardashian babies – no, I’m going to take a little bit of time to discuss the new Lists feature on Twitter and how you might want to think about using (and when not to use) it.

Last night I received my offer and stared at the screen, wondering how to proceed, while my fiancée stared at me warily from across the table.  I hadn’t put any time into thinking about how I should sort my followers, or even if I should.  As my mental clock thunked loudly away, knowing we had to get out the door and buy a few essentials for the house before getting the kids ready for bed, I began with trepidation to type in my first list name….

Just about everyone should have their List option by now.  If you haven’t, here are some basic changes this will make to your Twitter page:

lists

Changes due to the list feature

The Listed Link — You will see this on the  upper right-hand corner of your page, just to the right of your followers link.  This was real estate typically utilized by the number of tweets you made, but Twitter has moved that to just under your username.  Clicking on the Listed link will provide you a list of lists you have been added to by other list users.

The Lists Link — This is where all of the very helpful lists you make show up for you.  It’s located on the lower right-hand area of your page, under your Saved Searches feature.

Those lists that you decided to make public will be visible to anyone coming across your Twitter page.  Those that you made private will show up here for you when you are logged in; otherwise they are invisible.  Nobody else will ever be able to see your private lists.

Creating a List

You can make up to 20 Twitter Lists, with up to 500 people on each.  When you create your lists you are given a few options or attributes, each having their individual personal weight (and possible consequences.)  The very first time you make a list will be from that special window that shows up at the top of the screen, which is when you discover you have the feature.  Click on the Create List button to begin…

List Name – What you name a list is important, because its occupants may emotionally slide along the scale from elation to nonchalance to anger based merely on the name.  I know it’s a name that is meaningful to you; just remember that it may not have the same meaning to the individuals whose usernames reside in that list.  The list you just created  and named Silly People might say to you “These are people that I think are funny; they exude a jovial vivacity that I adore.”  The same list might say to one of its occupants “I don’t take these people seriously.  They are Twitter’s equivalent of the class clown.”

Description – You get up to 100 characters to add a short description of why this new list is meaningful to you.  This is a fairly new addition to your Lists feature, so if you  previously made your lists, you might want to go back and add this…

Menu for creating/editing your lists

Public vs. Private – This is also important.  Public lists will be displayed on the right-hand side of your profile page, and everyone on it can be seen simply by clicking on the link name.  If you create a Public list and add me to it, the number above my Listed link will go up by one, letting me know that I am on another list.  Like many, I’m likely going to check out who added me, so that I can thank them.  Twitter is all about communication, about sharing what we feel and think, about openness.  So if you added me to a list called People Who Tweet Too Damn Much, I’ll likely get the hint.

 

Suffice it to say that if you are creating a list called People I Care About More Than the Rest, you might want to make it Private, in order to keep from having to explain yourself to those not on it….  Of course, you will have to be logged in to Twitter, in order to see your personal Private lists.

After you have made your initial set of lists, you can make more by clicking on the little New List link under your set of lists.  Got a lot of lists? You can expand them all by clicking on the View All link next to it.

Following People vice Lists

I believe this part may be a bit confusing to people, so I’m going to cover it.  Here’s how this works…

follow_list

Following lists vice people

Following a Person on a List

To see other people’s Public lists, visit their Twitter page and look at the same place your lists are shown, the lower right-side.  Click on any list to expand it and see who belongs to it.  If you like someone on it and want to follow them, simply click on their name, visit their Twitter page, and follow like normal.  That person will be added to your list of follows, and their stream will show up on your page.

Following a List of People

Following a list is a little different, and needs to be grasped mentally.  If you follow a list, that list will show up under your set of lists on the lower right-hand section of your Twitter page.  Your lists all start with your name.  My first list is @_stevewoods/techies and the first list that I follow belongs to Jason Pollock and is called @Jason_Pollock/rising-stars It’s important to understand that in order to see what people in that list are saying, you will have to click on that list to view that particular stream, separately from your normal stream.

Another important concept to grasp is that the users on lists you follow will not be automatically added to who you are following!  If you want to see them all of the time, rather than when following a particular list, follow desired people from your chosen lists one by one so they show up in your stream all of the time.  So in a way, you can follow someone’s Twitter list until you’ve sucked it dry of all desired people, then unfollow it.  I know, it sounds like using someone, but it’s not.  You’re getting great follows, and moving on.  If you feel guilty about it, thank the person whose list you followed for awhile.  Think of it this way – if you love everyone on one of my lists and I delete the list, you won’t see their stream any longer. Grab ’em while you can!

Desirable lists to follow are those that are comprehensive in nature, and would be difficult (or impossible) for you to assemble due to knowledge or time constraints, and are just plain irresistible.  You’ll find a great resource, Listorious, below under Resources.  They are assembling a great number of these sort of lists, like the TEDsters list, with people who have presented at TED, the Technology, Entertainment and Design forum.

Please note that if you block someone that is on one of your lists, they will also disappear from your list, and your name will disappear from any lists they have with you on it.

Are Lists Doing Away With Follow Friday?

I’ve read a few comments on Twitter from folks saying “Thank God, with the Lists coming, we won’t have to do Follow Friday anymore!” Although I understand the sentiment involved with getting rid of the endless @ lists on Follow Friday, Twitter Lists don’t effectively replace the personal level of shout-outs that we give each other on those Friday mornings.

follow_friday

A great #FollowFriday -- Thank you!

Follow Friday shout-outs allow us to tell all of our followers that we think they ought to follow a few others.  It’s a day also to state WHY you should follow them.  Oh, I think the concept of how you should properly do a Follow Friday shout-out has been more than adequately covered.  Simply said, make it personalized, and honestly tell us why we should follow someone.  Exhaustive lists really don’t help much, and are often ignored.  And don’t try to fit everybody in all at once; maybe you can spread your Follow Fridays out over the span of the day.

Twitter Lists don’t replace a good Follow Friday because they are passive in nature.  For me to discover the incredible wealth of information that @Zaibatsu provides on a daily basis, I would have to stumble across his name on someone’s list.  Of course, with almost 100,000 followers, there is a pretty good chance I’ll run across his name eventually.  Even if I did come across his name, however, I would have to follow long enough to see his content, in order to decide I like what he says.

What about the woman with 257 followers, whose daily tweets reach deep inside of me intellectually or emotionally, but has only tweeted for a few weeks?  Even on a friend’s list of must-follows, odds are against me “discovering” her, unless I spend hours trolling lists.  And sorry, I just don’t have the time.

Follow Friday works because our friends actively shout out accolades about those whose steady stream of information makes them laugh, cry, think and more.  I scan the most thoughtful #FF’s and then give people a try.  It’s how I meet people who have 100,000 followers, and those with even less than 257.

Using a List

my_lists

My Thrown-Together Lists

Twitter Lists have their place, and are quite useful in that niche.    Use it to produce a steady stream that fits your current (or desired) mood.  Use it to strengthen the stream of great links to news articles, technology information, fashion advice, religious uplifting, loving fellowship.  Use it to make sure you never lose a dear friend’s tweets amongst your thousands of follows, to aid in maintaining that wonderful relationship.

If you are serious in trying to replace your typical method of Follow Friday with Twitter Lists, then create meaningful lists with less than 20-30 people in each of them. Click on the list to get the address for it, and copy the address.  Send out a meaningful #FF with a link to the list.

So go ahead and follow other people’s lists.  Follow a lot of them.  But take the time to find out who on those lists makes them desirable to you, then personally follow those individuals yourself, so you see them all of the time.  Because seriously, are you going to flitter back and forth between your Twitter Lists all day?

Emerging Twitter List Resources

Even though the Lists feature has only been around a little while, programmers have already begun working hard to bring desirable lists to you.  As I come across them, I’ll put my favorite List Tools here:

Listorious – (brought to my attention by Jason Pollock) They call themselves the Directory of Awesome Lists.  Here you can find lists based on popular tags, look up lists from a particular user or by keyword, and follow them with a single click.  You’ll have to provide protected access to your Twitter Account to get full use of it.

Listiti – (brought to my attention by Mashable) They will send you an alert whenever someone on a given list tweets something you are interested in.

Conversation List – If you allow it access to your Twitter account, it will dynamically create a list for you based on who you tend to converse with.

TweetML FOLLOW EVERYBODY ON A LIST! TweetML has always provided a great interface to follow groups of users.  Rather than follow someone’s Twitter list, simply type in the address for it ( like http://twitter.com/_stevewoods/techies ), in the box labelled Follow a Twitter List and press the Follow button. A list of users will show up and you can follow them all by typing in your Twitter information. It’s secure!

Third-Party Clients – Seesmic and Brizzly both have support for lists, and I hear that Tweetdeck has it in the works.  If you would like a Brizzly invite, feel free to contact me in Twitter at @_stevewoods.

Found another great Twitter List resource? Feel free to leave me a comment below.

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