more ramblings


Social Media

Social Media and the Search Engine

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The internet is full of conversations and discussions. More good information passes my screen in a minute than I can work through in the day. In this world of disconnected conversations it’s important to understand that it’s the people on the other end that matter. I watch people out for the popularity contest rather than actually contributing real value to the environment. How many users can you have, how many hits can you get.

Jim Connolly posted a great blog entry about maanging the Search Engine Optimization (SEO) side of things with the human side. In his posting Focus on people – Not ‘hits’! he notes how true growth comes from the people. Engage your users and they will return. SEO is important but it should not be the sole purpose of your site. Don’t forget the power of your users.

Social Media Primer

social-media-marketingRecently I was asked “OK so what is the different between Twitter, facebook, Myspace, LinkedIn, Plaxo etc. which one do you think is best?” So here’s a little primer on the various social media and social networking tools available.

First off, what is social media? Wikipedia states “The term most often refers to activities that integrate technology, telecommunications and social interaction, and the construction of words, pictures, videos and audio.” What does this mean to you? In short it means you can communicate with more people easier. These sites were originally used for entertainment purposes, but have been finding their ways into large enterprises as a core tool in facilitating business. Understanding these is important, not just to keep up with your teenagers, but to keep up with business in the new communication age.

Information and Content:

Our story so far. Email broke on to the scene and invaded businesses. The ability to communicate digitally significantly increased the amount of knowledge and information flowing around the enterprise. Soon we found chat programs such as AIM, Yahoo Instant Messenger, MSN Chat, and Google talk, which allow individuals to communicate real-time with another party. These two tools ushered in a change from local and national focused groups to a globally centric society. But you know that already. Lets move on to the fun stuff.


Blogs, short for Web Logs, is a sort of online diary of sorts. Originally, only web designers and technical individuals were able to publish content on the Internet for the world to see. Blogging applications opened up the web for everyone. These tools allow anyone with rudimentary computer skills, to simply type and click to post content online with no technical knowledge needed. The Internet saw a huge boom in content. Where once only large news companies could report on events, now anyone with a computer could post their thoughts ideas and information. Blogs are now used on the Internet as professional News tools, personal diaries, and reputable information sources. Companies are also incorporating blogs into their intranets to capture knowledge,manage internal communications, and generate ideas.


100px-feed-iconsvgRSS is short for Really Simple Syndication. The problem the Internet faced was that to get all the information you wanted you had to go out and find it. Sure you could book mark sites, but still you would have to go to them regularly just to see if there might be new content. RSS offers a way to have content sent to you when it has been updated, similar to how emails show up in your box after someone has hit send. When you sit down to your email program it tells you if there is new mail or not. You don’t need to go to all your contacts and ask if they have new information you should know about. You get it as soon as its ready without having to go look for it. RSS is typically used with a tool called an aggregator. These tools allow you to collect and organize your various RSS feeds and offer a central point to go for all the information you subscribe to. Google Reader is one of the most popular tools and allows online management of your feeds so you can access it from any computer you may be at.

People and Connections:

Business cards, Rolodex, Address books. The problem with these is keeping them updated and fresh. However you use these tools, be it for keeping track of family member addresses,professional networking or even initiating sales calls, making sure the contacts are kept up to date is always challenging.
Plaxo: Years ago Plaxo came on the scene trying to solve this problem. They offered a service where your contacts could come and update their information directly in your address so the information would be kept up to date. The early implementation of this concept was met with mix results. While the concept was interesting, the tools would email all your contacts in your lists asking for updates. People wanted more control, and while it eventually came, users had a bad taste from earlier experiences with Plaxo.


Since the dawn of organized commerce, the mantra has been to expand your network. It’s not what you know it’s who you know. Six degrees of separation and more. You’ve heard all this, that’s why we’re members of professional organizations and why we go to conferences, heck that even why we go to lunch with some people at work. So it was no surprise that the Internet would come along to help us network.

pic_logo_119x32LinkedIn: Many services have popped up in this arena. One of Plaxo’s rivals, a company named LinkedIn, came along and cemented itself as *the* directory to be registered in online. LinkedIn provided similar features to Plaxo in that you would register your information and invite people in your lists to join the service, however LinkedIn also spent a lot of time trying to connect people with each other (thus the name LinkedIn). After completing your profile, LinkedIn would suggest some people you might know based on things like your school or workplace. It also cross references the contacts you have to see if maybe your contacts have some people you might know. This ability to find the people you know, coupled with the added privacy and the simple fact that the contact information is very up to date has made LinkedIn a premier tool for managing professional contacts.

logoPlaxo: Plaxo came back on the scene but more because of the new service offing they added. A feature called Plaxo Pulse was one of the first tools to take full advantage of the emerging Web 2.0 integration that other sites were offering. Plaxo Pulse would give you a centralized view of what all your contacts have been up to recently. Bob, posted a new blog entry, Jane uploaded pictures, Jim updated his position title etc. This was a great feature for helping you stay connected to your network. It makes it easier to say, “Hey Bob, i saw you got promoted from director to VP way to go, how is everything going?” Plaxo even offers birthday reminders based on your contact’s profile. Even if you don’t know when the birthdays are of all the contacts in your list, if they entered it in their profile Plaxo will let you know its coming up. Sending a quick “Happy Birthday” has never been easier.

l20531316728_5806Facebook and MySpace: These two sites also allow users stay connected but in a more interactive way. As with LinkedIn and Plaxo, MySpace and Facebook start with your profile. Enter in who you are, what you’re interested in and some people you know and you’re off. These sites encourage more real-time contact. If you remember back the chat clients we talked about before required you to be online and in conversation with a person at the same time they were. The new age of communication is asynchronous. People don’t have one conversation at a time and they don’t have conversations at the same time as the person they are conversing with. Sites like facebook allow users to post messages and responses when they have time. header_43Similar to email except that the information is open to the group of friends. Think about an email that has multiple recipients (family), “hey all jimmy has his first girlfriend”. Grandma replies to all, “that’s great”, aunt Becky replies to all at the same time “how sweet”, uncle john replies to all on grandmas email “way to go tiger”. All these people are communicating in their own time and with each other. One problem is this type of communication through email clutters up an inbox and offers a chance to lose a message. If I were to open up Uncle John’s email and saw grandma’s response in there also, that’s great, but I miss Aunt Becky’s response. Doing this online in a site like Facebook or MySpace allows everyone to participate cleanly and in a more organized manner. Yes companies are implementing internal Facebook sites also.

Twitter: This one is a bit harder to explain It’s commonly called micro blogging. The basic premise behind Twitter is that you can post content in 140 character segments. People who follow you will see your updates. This is ll just like blogging. Also as with blogging people can reply to you online for all to see. However it’s much more than blogging with less words. Looking at just the first page of the twitter site you start to see the difference. On the first page it says, “What are you doing?”. So I type “getting ready to head to the bar”. Sure I could do this in a blog but blogs have become more article oriented paragraphs of content. Twitter offers quick updates on the world around you. While twitter has a website where you can manage your updates and track friends, this is more of the old style of information management where you have to go out and get it. Using twitter clients allows you to get a constant feed (similar to RSS) on what your network is up to. many of the tools also enable you to see what everyone is talking about, what trends the masses are focused on.


Web 2.0: Web 2.0 has many connotations. Simply put however its the idea that sites and services on the Internet should be able to work together, share information and utilize features from other sites rather than having to reinvent the wheel for a great service. What you’ll find now is sites like twitter allow you to post updates into Facebook. You blog can pull Facebook information and display your twitter posts. Plaxo can let you know you contacts updated content on all these sites.

Mobile: As computing becomes ever more mobile, access to the Internet and all this online information becomes much more fluid. People can chat asynchronously via text messages, post pictures on where they are right now. The walls and barriers that kept information isolated are disappearing.

As we see the progression the Internet over time we see that people want to be connected with each other. They want to get and share information. They want to connect with new people. Social Media sites are allowing individuals and organizations the opportunity to share information like never before. Success in the future will be based on your ability to adapt to these changes today. So get out there and create a profile.

Fixing TweetDeck and Adobe Air Apps

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image TweetDeck is a great Twitter client that allows you to manage volumes of communication most efficiently. After installing and using TweetDeck  image for awhile I closed a few of the content panes. Later I closed a few more. Down to a single pane I accidentally closed that one too. Apparently in the clients (as of v0.19.3b) there are no options to open new panes anywhere in the main window. All these options are in the content panes themselves. So here i have stuck with this great tool but no way to view any content. What to do. I promptly uninstalled and reinstalled TweetDeck…no good. Uninstalled TweetDeck all the rest of my Adobe Air apps then reinstalling the all again. Nope still broke. So I dug a bit and found that the AIR apps can store data locally in cache files. These files apparently aren’t cleaned up on uninstall. After locating the cache files and a quick reinstall of TweetDeck all is well.

image If you ever have issues with Adobe Air App preferences look for the cache files on your drive. Mine were at C:\Documents and Settings\[user]\Application Data\TweetDeckFast.[guid] and C:\Documents and Settings\[guid]\Application Data\Adobe\AIR\ELS\TweetDeckFast.[guid]

Deleting these files fixed my problems and allowed for a clean reinstall.

What’s in your iPhone

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So what is taking up space on your iPhone. I’ve ended up deleting many apps and those that remain have earned it. Here is a brief list of what’s in my on my iPhone

I have a few others like PacMan but they all don’t get enough use for mention

What’s in your iPhone.

Leave feedback and let us know

— Post From My iPhone

Virtual Professional Organizations

In today’s busy society professional organizations are having an increasingly difficult time attracting and retaining members.  Attendance at regular meetings is dwindling and leaders are challenged with maintaining these groups.

I’ve been interested in how communities develop and grow and have looked to technology to foster community grown and success.  Years ago I was challenged with developing online communities for educational, professional , and consumer user groups. Back in the early days of the Internet these systems tended to me more static with centrally developed content. In the past few years many tools have emerged that drastically shift this paradigm and enable a new model for professional organizations.

The Virtual Professional Organizations emerging today enable greater communication, easier networking, and greater activity. Tools such as blogs and wikis allow members to contribute directly to the organization, enabling content to be created from anyone rather than a centralized few. Social media tools such as facebook and twitter allow individuals to meet and talk directly with other members about specific issues while continuing to contribute to the organization as a whole. While these new technologies breathe life into professional organizations, new challenges are presented. With so many avenues for communication and content distribution, organization and structure become a lager challenge. Maintaining the focus and vision of the group becomes more difficult. As with the introduction of anything new, this bit of chaos will undoubtedly settle over time and Professional Organizations will continue to find new life in the digital world.

FEEDBACK: I’m interested in hearing any positive or negative experiences you’ve had with online communities. What are some great examples of these communities using multiple technologies to connect individuals near and far.

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