Archive | February, 2009

Response Post #5

24 Feb

The Long of the Short of It

So, when I first heard the phrase “long tail” I immediately visualized a pheasant. I mean, I married a hunter who grew up in Iowa – all he ever talks about is hunting pheasant when we head back to his parents – what do you expect me think when I hear “long tail!” However, that image quickly went “poof” because pheasants don’t exist in social media, at least, none that I know of.  However, after really getting into Chris Anderson’s The Long Tail (both the book, and the article) the phrase long tail became much clearer and much more applicable to everyday things. Anderson’s example of Amazon really solidified the concept for me. At first, selling less of a lot more was a bit confusing, but applying it to Amazon and Apple’s iTunes was like turning on a light bulb for me. Not only is Amazon an amazing example of social media at work – without even trying to be a social networking site – Amazon sells a lot of stuff, but it’s a lot of little things made bigger by the customers who visit Amazon to buy something! So there is an explanation of the business model Amazon has adapted – the long tail. Now, obviously the long tail makes much more sense when you see it in graph form – for the simple reason that it shows a long tail and a short body. But it also helps to convey the message that the long tail theory has solid roots in just about every activity out there – isn’t math the universal language? And the long tail theory has it’s roots in math. Now, math certainly is not my favorite subject, but it is something I can get behind when it helps me to understand social theories and the world around me. Which is exactly what the long tail chart did when reading Anderson’s book. Not only did Anderson describe long tail in detail, he also showed it to me so that I had both the examples he used, and a visual chart to drive the point home. Given all the information Anderson presented, I’m starting to see the long tail in a lot of my daily activities and how it’s all around us – whether it’s Amazon selling things, iTunes offering a variety of media, or Facebook bringing together millions of users from around the world – long tail can be found just about anywhere.

Extra Post #1

18 Feb

Facebook’s Debacle – Will you really delete your account?

With all of the stories floating around the blogosphere and media over the past days, I feel the need to comment on Facebook‘s “term of use” debacle. I know I mentioned it in my previous post, however, I feel that it warrants a more in depth discussion.

I’ve been reading not only the articles and posts about Facebook’s issue, but also the comments from users, readers, and the general public regarding their feelings towards Facebook. Some are eye opening and some are just plain dumb. Others surprised me. For instance, on CNN.com, someone by the name of “Tom” posted the following comment:

“I definantly will be deleting my account, i don’t want some of my family pictures to be the right of the site to do what they want with, this really is disappointing. Not to meantion the ‘SPIN TACTIC’ that they just tried on the world, thats a real insult to my intellegence, and i think all the people on the site as well”

Obviously, “Tom” is not satisfied with the way Facebook has handled the situation – as well as the rest of the angered bloggersand reactors. But I wonder, will he really delete his account? His online social network? His only way (most likely) to communicate with his Facebook friends – most of whom he probably hasn’t seen or thought of in years? Much of the posting I’ve seen states similiar “delete thoughts;” but how many people will actually act on it? I know if I deleted my account, I would lose access to the gossipy, influential, entertaining aspects of a world that I have created for myself. My online virtual world of life. Sure, I only talk to about 25% (and that’s being generous) of the people I’m friends with, but I can assure you, I’m interested in all of them. Who hasn’t Facebook stalkedan old beau, friend, foe or co-worker? Sometimes on a boring day, Facebook stalking is a grand source of entertainment. I think it’s fun to look up past high school buddies and see where they are now. I might not want to talk to them or they to me, but it’s always interesting to see how lives have played out – who’s married, who’s had a baby, who went to law school, who got fat, who skinny, who knocked up the prom queen (true story!) etc. So I would like to pose a question to anyone out there who has stated they are deleting their Facebook account – did you really delete your Facebook profile? Or was it a heat of the moment, pissed off statement that you meant at the time, but were never planning on following through with?

Response Post #4

17 Feb

A digital Bill of Rights? Yeah Right.

You’ve got to be kidding me, a Bill of Rights for the internet? Who has this much time on their hands?! However, after reading through the short, and simple theory – I totally support it. It’s not complicated, touchy or weird – just plain simple statements. Things most internet users assume they have already. Because, really, who reads an entire “term of agreement” anyway? And if you do, do you really understand it if you don’t have the letters ESQ after your name?

While the Bill of Rights – as it relates to social media – was written more than a year ago, with the recent news regarding Facebook‘s privacy terms, it is more relevant than ever before (apparently someone did read the entire term of use agreement, otherwise I wouldn’t be bloggingabout it!). For example, while I’m pretty strict with what I post to my Facebook account, I have posted photos I would not want used without my permission, for instance, my wedding photos. Now, I highly doubt Facebook is interested enough in how I looked on my wedding day to use them for it’s own project, but I am protective of them enough that I would have a very big problem if I found them splashed around with out my consent. Yes, I uploaded them thereby agreeing to abide by Facebook’s terms of use, but that still doesn’t give anyone the right to pilfer or plunder someone else’s stuff. Electronic or not. It’s stealing – plain and simple – I can show off pictures of my family and friends to colleagues – or even photos of my home – but that doesn’t give them the right to break in and take the picture on my mantel because they liked it. That’s why I think the companies who use the Bill of Rights are taking a step forward in social media and digital decency. Much like Jet Blue‘s passenger bill of rights after it’s disastrous airport delay last year, the Bill of Rights that Scoble and others have created is definitely a step in the right direction. It won’t solve all the problems, and won’t be the silver bullet for all things wrong with the internet, but it is a basic and simple human nod to honesty.

Response #3

10 Feb

Will Google Take Over the World?

I often wonder this when I hear Google compared to Microsoft, Wal-Mart, and other ginormous companies. Because it has become such a symbol for the internet and the web’s rise in popularity – it has also become a popular target for those disengenuined by pop culture, corporate bureaucracy and anything else dealing with lots of money. While I agree with most people’s thoughts on the subject, such as this article by Robert Cringely, I also think – who cares? Just because a company has worked itself into a giant success after faltering for years and now has bragging rights, why is that such a bad thing? It makes me think that the people who complain about these companies and situations are just jealous, in the “why didn’t I think of that” way.

Luckily however, I am allowed to have differing opinions on the same subject. After reading John Battelle’s book The Search, my split personalities began to emerge. In chapter 7, Battelle discusses those businesses affected by Google’s random algorythm updates and how dependent said companies were on Google. To me it’s unreal that Google can make or break a company online. I mean the world wide web is so large that even if Google didn’t pick up on it, another search engine would. Then I started to think – what other search engines? Yes, I use Yahoo! and MSN and AltaVista, but when I truly am looking for something -searching – I use Google. It’s gotten to the point where I even tell my husband to just Google something if I don’t know the answer (a rareity I know!). So Yes, I suppose Battelle is right – Google is one immensely powerful company. While it may not take over the world – it has certainly taken over some people’s worlds. Neil Moncrief didn’t start out working for Google – he just wanted to sell big shoes – but in the end, Google most certainly controlled his world.

Response #2

3 Feb

To Vlog or Not to Vlog? Podcast or No Cast?

While I’m sure many of you out there are comfortable writing and posting to a blog, taping and posting a vlog or podcast is a different story. Knowing that my thoughts are out there for all the world to see is one thing, but to put a face/voice to my thoughts – that’s another thing all together. Not to mention, who would be interested in me? It’s bad enough thinking about who wants to read my blog, but who wants to see my face talking about what I think? Campbell Brown I am not. However, when I think about what vlogging and podcasting has done for advocacy campaigns, presidential politics, gossip sites and others, the power of the internet – and the first amendment is undeniable.

Take President Barack Obama for example, his campaign website offered blogs, podcasts, vlogs, Facebook  links, Twitter updates, and many other digital media. While not everything has transitioned to the White House, his blog and vlog have – albeit in a scaled down, alert security for each comment kind of way- but he has tried to transition technology with him. Fans (or not) can log on to www.whitehouse.govand view his speeches, read about his daily policy battles and even sign up to get updates from the administration. None of that was possible before President Barack Obama. Not to mention his highly controversial Blackberry and much coveted email address.

While President Obama’s campaign is a great example of using cutting edge social media tools, other campaigns have not been as lucky. HCAN, and it’s Health Care for America Now! website has tried to utilize tools, creating a blog, podcasts, vlogs, etc. but their site is so incredibly busy it’s hard to read the pages, let alone navigate to a specific blog, or podcast. HCAN has however, embraced other social media with great success – it’s Facebook pages, Flickr and YouTube sites are heavily populated and well read. It’s not a perfect social media campaign, but they are trying.

BTW – if you haven’t seen this HCAN website you need to check it out. It is by far one of the funniest, tongue in cheek, yet serious information sites out there. Also check out their ad insurance company rules for some big laughs.  It’s too bad HCAN doesn’t use its insurance company rules website as the basis for their campaign, it’s laid out better, offers more of a targeted message, and it’s hilarious. Always a bonus when you’re discussing serious issues where everyone has a story to tell.

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