Tag Archives: socialmedia

What is social media?

Social Media apps

 

For the last few years, the terms “web 2.0” and “social media” have been used for nearly anything new and interactive on the internet. Since Voices of the Past and sites like it integrate many basic social media tools, let’s take the time to consider the concept of social media and its potential to advance heritage preservation.

 

In technical terms, the social media phenomenon is a fusion of cross-platform technology, open-source web code and the interactive presentation of audio, photos, videos and text. But at its heart, it’s about empowering people to achieve goals through connection with others who share similar values, regardless of their location.

 

Core to this connectedness is the idea of community and how it’s being redefined. For example, the purpose of Voices of the Past is to inspire connections to heritage values using new media. You don’t have to have lots of money, a Ph.D., or be a credentialed preservationist to view the site or interact with it. It doesn’t matter where you live either. If you care about heritage, you belong here.

 

The accessible nature of social media tools, coupled with the relative anonymity of the web, levels the playing field for discussion. This takes away some of the fear of saying the wrong thing and allows people of many different backgrounds to interact as peers.

 

Social media comes in a variety of flavors. Some of these tools—like forums and message boards—you may already be familiar with. Others, like photo sharing (Flickr), video sharing (YouTube), wall posts (FaceBook), blogs (WordPress), music sharing (iTunes), and internet telephony (Skype), may be new.

 

When you visit the a site like Facebook or MySpace, what you’re seeing is a form of social media called a “social network.” Essentially, it brings social media tools together on the same web page. The efficiency of social networks is leading to an explosion in their popularity. The combined worldwide user base of MySpace and Facebook roughly equals the population of the United States.

 

So how’s this different from the web we used to know? For one thing, you’re no longer just reading the company line. The web is now instantly interactive with the potential for infinite conversation on any given topic. It’s like the old gossip fence, except your neighbor is potentially anyone in the world.

 

What’s been the reason preservation and heritage issues have been so hard to communicate? It’s because they, like politics, are traditionally local. And while probably nothing will ever most people care who’s the state representative for Burning Moscow, Nev., you very well may throw in with an online group that is fired up about preserving the Old West mines there.

 

So, your worldview isn’t just limited to your place of residence anymore. With social media, your interests can help define your social responsibility in the realm of heritage values. Explore and enjoy!

 

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Boag takes an already great conference FOrWarD

Paul Boag in character

Chairing a tech conference and maintaining the eccentric air your audience of artsy-techie designers expects would seem to be mutually exclusive goals. Not for Paul Boag, the brilliant designer and podcaster, whose on-stage persona hovers somewhere between Gilbert Gottfried and Steve Coogan in Dr. Terrible’s House of Horrible. But hold it all together he did, through tech glitches, speaker overruns and who knows what else.

My favorite Boag moment followed the blatently useless Photoshop face-off. “I thought this might be an exercise where we actually learned something … But NO!!!” I nearly fell out of my chair. Thanks to Paul, Jo Andrews and all the Carsonified folks for a conference that was at least 98 percent useful.

I hoped to shake Ryan Carson’s hand and say hello in person, but he had the best excuse in the world for staying home. The first weeks after my daughter was born were the most special of my life. Sleep eventually comes again, but those early moments with big blue eyes staring up at you at three in the morning are so, so fleeting.

My one <rant> vaguely related to the conference would be all the whining in social media about the product demo’s. FOWD is open to folks besides web design geniuses and I personally did learn a couple of things from the demonstrations. And if the demo’s can keep the conference price down so that folks trying to establish a name for themselves can afford to attend, show some grace and just tune out for the half hour, especially if you’re a presenter!

You can make up the time by opting out of the design challenge next conference.

This is the last post on FOWD. Loved it. Loving London. Thanks to Adii, who gave me the pass to be there.

More posts coming on my adventures wandering the city.

Fast times at WordCamp Dallas

My wife took this picture. Does that make it a three-way?
This is what happens when you ask to take a picture with the magnificent Lorelle

I know just enough code to be dangerous, and my wife has never even heard of WordPress. So it was with equal amounts of faith and trepidation that we loaded up the truck last weekend and moseyed over to Dallas for WordCamp 2008.

Now, I’m a communicator and my wife is an educator. Both geeks in our chosen fields. But how would we hold up in a room of 150 pro bloggers? Between talk of php, sql, seo and “link love” would we understand anything being said? Did we even want to?

My descent into social media madness will likely be detailed in another post. For now, the relevant fact is that I’m attempting to build the elusive social media newsroom for the federal organization with which I work. I chose WordPress as my platform because it’s a content management system that regular folks can figure out. It’s also Web 2.0 saavy, with a plug-in and widget for every flavor, nationality and orientation of social media. I’m a big fan of it, which brings me back to WordCamp.

I’ve been jonesing for professional development in social media in the worst way. But federal travel cutbacks, the insane cost of conferences these days, and the rural location of my hometown has limited my training to webinars. Then I subscribed to the WordPress podcast a few weeks ago. Hosts Charles Stricklin and Jonathan Bailey were talking about WordCamp Dallas. Dallas?! Four hours away. I can do that! Just 20 bucks? You’re kidding me. A T-shirt and lunches too? Then the kicker: Charles lives an hour north of me and Jonathan a few hours south, in the Big Easy. The stars were aligned. I had to go.

Continue reading Fast times at WordCamp Dallas

PR + Web 2.0 + Teaching equals one real mashup

In January, I took over as an adjunct instructor in the capstone “Campaigns” course for PR majors at the local university. Three hours, one night a week. Piece of cake.

After all, I had 15 years in the PR practice since graduating from that same university with a journalism degree. Lots of experiences to pass on to these pliable young minds. My plan: make the class exciting with a cool social media spin. I’d be brilliant (thumbs in suspenders). It’d be fun.

Who could have known the extent to which a social media focus would challenge the traditional PR pedagogy. When I talked to faculty, the conversation took on a “oh how cute” sheen. The students scarcely had a conception of what “social media” was, and OMG, you mean we have to, like, APPLY it in REAL LIFE PR?!!! After the first two classes, I would have settled for Second Life.

We all persevered, hopeful that the team-based nature of the class would inspire the ol’ Higher Order Thinking Skills to kick in. Then I started seeing it–those moments when a face would light up, expression intent on my stumbling monologue. A raised hand. An honest-to-god social media “connection.” And one-by-one, I’ve witnessed those moments on each face.

But then I look at them and know the field they are going into is much different than the one I faced in the mid-1990s, back when a lot of the internet was still text-based. In the last couple of years, the learning curve has steepened within a rapidly changing spectrum.

Continue reading PR + Web 2.0 + Teaching equals one real mashup