Archive | May, 2011

I’ll have my free cake and eat it, too

29 May

Man yelling at laptop

Today in Slate, I’m mad that free services don’t provide me with free and seamless tech support.  Wait, what?  Yep, that’s it.  Slate’s Farhad Manjoo complains about the level of tech support he gets for Gmail, Mint, and other free online services.  Usually, I’m on the side of the individual consumer against the big, Afaceless corporations, but this article reminds me that the customer isn’t always right.  Continue reading

xoxo for xoJane

23 May

They say that life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans.  You know what doesn’t happen when you’re busy making other plans?  Blog posts.  Sorry I’ve been away for a while.  The new job’s great, but it just doesn’t leave me with any time to blog.  So, this is going to be a short one.

I found an awesome new website!  xoJane.  Here’s what they say on their “about” page: Continue reading

Hyper-text and Storytelling

16 May

Young Indian man reading on a laptop.Today SocialTimes has an article about Twitter, hyper-text, and the evolution of storytelling (Are Twitter Storytellers the Heroes of a New Postmodernism?).  It’s written by Amanda Cosco who is proving to be my social media soul mate – recently she’s written articles on foodies, citizen journalists, Lady Gaga, and super hot nerds.  Ms. Cosco discusses @VeryShortStory a Twitter feed that’s been telling an ongoing story in bursts of 140 characters over the course of the last two years.  She discusses the positives (including interactivity) and negatives (including lack of continuity) of telling a story through Twitter, but the piece really gets interesting when she talks about reading in a larger cultural context. Continue reading

Google doesn’t think I’m funny – Humor, headlines, and SEO

13 May

I once read that you should write for your readers first, search engines second, and your ego third.  I try to consider all of these things when writing this blog, but find that they’re often in competition.  (I try to include keywords like culture, social media, and bog whenever they fit, but sometimes it’s hard to do it without getting in the way of the narrative style.)  Yesterday, I found this on The Awl.  Apparently I’m not alone in my battle to balance all three.

Stack of Newspaper Headlines - Burns out, Storm Kills, Drugs, Recycling, Stem cellsGoogle doesn’t laugh
It doesn’t even titter
It can’t guffaw like Facebook
It won’t split its sides like Twitter

Google doesn’t crack a smile
It won’t respond to mirth
There’s not a single laughing part
Not even Google Earth

Your title might be funny
Forcing chuckles from the chest
But Google sits there stone-faced
Resolutely unimpressed

Don’t try to brighten someone’s day
Don’t aim for “smart and winning”
Your goal is catching Google’s eye
And Google isn’t grinning

Best to stick to SEO
And trade your wheat for chaff
Forget the humor, blogger boy
‘Cause Google doesn’t laugh Continue reading

The Like Button Turns One (Happy Birthday!)

11 May

Facebook Like Icon - Thumbs Up, Number 1Okay, so I am about a little late covering this, but that doesn’t make the news any less interesting, right?  Facebook’s Like Button turned one year old on April 22.  According to

In one year, more than 2.5 websites have integrated Facebook’s like button on their websites, giving Facebook the ability to not only gather information about its users on its own site but also gather information about them from all over the Internet. In this manner, Facebook had conquered the Web.

Aragog coming out of his lair with Harry Potter and Ron WeaslyI’m just going to assume that that means 2.5 million websites… When Facebook started, it was its own walled garden.  What happens on Facebook, stays on Facebook, so to speak.  But, in recent years, Facebook has expanded its footprint and, through like and share, begun to spread itself across the web.  I like to think of Facebook as a giant spider growing ever bigger and taking over larger and larger parts of the web.  (Get it, web?)  You know, like Aragog…

Anyway, about the Like Button… As SociaMedia explains, clicking the like button isn’t really about liking the status (in that you enjoy it), but about giving feedback.  It’s the easiest way of acknowledging a friend’s status update.  Explaining the Like Button and its role in giving feedback, SocialMedia really explains social networking in general. Continue reading

Do You Have a Personal Social Media Policy?

8 May Social media network logos coming out of megaphone

Recently, I read an article called What’s Your Personal Social Media Policy? Social Media Policy Thought Clouds Many companies have social media policies (some quite draconian, others pretty normal), but those are meant to protect the company’s image and interests, not the person’s.  In the article, Mike Brown discussed his own social media faux pas and how he’s developing a policy to prevent them in the future.

He started off by saying:

Googling “social media policy” returns nearly 5 million hits – obviously a topic getting lots of attention. Modifying the search to “personal social media policy” reduces the hits by 99%. That’s relatively scant attention to how individuals could or should formalize how we conduct ourselves personally across various social media channels.

In an era where people are building (and sharing) their personal brands online, your personal social media policy is important to consider, especially if you’re someone who’s in the business of selling/promoting yourself or your personal brand. Continue reading

What does your e-mail address say about you?

5 May

SocialTimes is covering AOL’s earnings (or lack thereof).  AOL LogoReally, coverage of AOL on a social media site?!  Social Media is Web 2.0 (or maybe 3.0) and AOL is 1.0 (or really some sort of beta version).  For me, AOL was the Internet before I discovered the Internet – before I knew that I could leave the walled garden and find all the cool social media and culture things that I post about on this blog.  (It was silly and very limited.  But, I do kind of wish that I still got to hear “Welcome.  You’ve got mail.”)

E-mail envelopeSince starting the new job, I’ve been reading a lot of business and marketing blogs.  Yesterday, I read one where the author talked about her impressions of an AOL e-mail address.  (I’m sorry, I forget the blog.  If it was yours, or you know whose it was, please post a link in the comments!  I hate not to give credit where it’s due.)  She said that she had recently purchased services from a person with an AOL e-mail address and had been very hesitant to do so.  Yes, that’s a judgy thing to say, but I agree.  Having an e-mail address that ends with screams 1995 and implies that you aren’t conversant with new media trends and probably don’t know you’re way around the Internet too well. Continue reading

You Tweet What You Eat

3 May

SocialTimes has an article today (Sorry, You Ate 500 Calories Over Your Limit Today — Foodzy Turns Dieting Into A Game) about Foodzy, a new social media-based app that allows users to track their food consumption and share their successes in their diets with their social network.  According to SocialTimes, “Foodzy rewards you for making healthy choices or fun eating habits with badges.”  I guess this is better than the shaming suggested at the Slate event, but I still don’t think that I want updates about everything I eat going to all of my Facebook friends.  Unfortunately, you can’t sign up for Foodzy yet, so you’re all going to have to wait a while for status updates like “Maggie ate oatmeal with Craisins and way too much brown sugar and half-n-half.”  (Really, everything is better with half-n-half.) Continue reading

I spend 4 minutes every day working for the Department of Agriculture. And you probably do, too.

2 May

As today was my first day at my new job, I spent a lot of time filling out forms.  How many exemptions am I claiming on my taxes?  What percent of my income do I want to put into my 401(k)?  Do I want to participate in a flexible spending plan?  So, really, I spent a lot of time thinking about my income and how best to maximize it and, depressingly, how a larger part of it is going to taxes than ever before.  Apparently, since I got a raise Uncle Sam did, too.

My thinking about this today gives me the perfect intro to introduce you to some cool interactive infographics that I came across this weekend.  (Seriously, interactive inforgraphics are like the highlight of the Internet!) Continue reading

Rock, I mean Like, the Vote

1 May

Today SocialTimes introduced me to Likester, a new site which keeps track of real time trends on social media sites, particularly Facebook.  (Think of it as following hash tags to the nth degree.)  Although Likester also allows users to see trends within their group of friends, it’s bigger (and cooler) impact is in allowing people to understand what’s going on globally (and instantaneously).  As they say in About Likester:

What people are liking right now is really interesting, and worth calling out and celebrating. It’s usually very different from what they’ve liked since the beginning of time. Whatever trends are happening, anywhere in the world, you’ll likely be able to find evidence of them here. While we won’t attempt to explain them, some research likely would. You can filter trends by time period, such as “today”, and you can further filter by category (“People”, or “Websites”), as well as by any combination of city, state, or country. So you can see what restaurants are hot in Paris, France today. Or what websites people like this month in Seattle, Washington, United States. The possibilities are endless.

You all know how enthusiastic I am about the archival of the Internet.  But, this is even better, because it’s happening in real time and can have real time implications.  According to Social Times:

Do you want to be on top of the latest American Idol predictions? Then head over to Likester because the web site has successfully predicted the bottom three contestants on American Idol, as well as successfully predicting that Stefano Langone would be eliminated. 

Admittedly, that’s a silly example of Likester’s power.  But, swap picking the losing candidates of American Idol for picking the losing candidates of a national election and you’ll see the impact that Likester can have.  It allows for real time data about what people actually think and like (or at least what they want their friends to think that they think and like…), which has got to be better than the lies that they tell to pollsters.

Likester (and the million other services like it that are soon to be with us) will allow us to see what amounts to polling data instantaneously and probably to get predictions of returns way before the news networks are able to announce them.  (I always get my results online anyway – way faster, especially for local things, to go directly to the county Board of Elections sites and do a little bit of math.) Continue reading

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