Archive | July, 2011

Customs — on getting by in physical and digital spaces

31 Jul

Customs LinesRecently, I was traveling internationally and got stuck in a crazy long Immigration, Baggage, Customs maze of lines.  An hour and many crying children later, one of my travel companions admitted that when she was a child, she had thought that Customs was where they told you about the customs of the county that you were going to be entering.  (Here we drive on the left side of the street, here we take siestas, here we run with the bulls…)  Customs would be a kind of very brief download of the cultural information that you needed to get by in your new place.  You’d know what behavior was expected of you and of everyone else.

Actually, Customs is just a place where you wait in a line, turn in a form, and maybe get your bag searched.  It’s really not that exciting.  I think I like her way better.  It’s nice to know what you’re getting yourself into. Continue reading

Site stats and the gamification of writing

19 Jul

MarioThis week, I’ve been lucky enough to have my blog featured on Freshly Pressed for the second time.  Both times, I’ve spent most of the day going “refresh, refresh, refresh!” on my site stats page.  I guess seeing the numbers come in makes me feel like I’m not just talking to myself here.

But really, they’re just numbers.  I’m sure a lot of people click on my post and go “That’s boring,” or “That’s not what I thought it was,” and click away.  Cognitively, I get that.  But, sitting here, I feel like Mario collecting coins in one of those bonus levels.  The happy music is playing.  And whenever I reach 100, I get an extra life. Continue reading

Amazon, eBooks, and the demise of Borders and bookshop culture

18 Jul

BooksThe era of the big box bookstore is coming to an end and I, for one, am saddened by this.  Yes, I know they were big, bad corporate giants that came in and destroyed neighborhood bookstores and coffee shops, ending third places and stifling locally-owned businesses in many communities.  All that’s true – and awful.

But at this point, the closing of your local Borders isn’t likely to mean that a locally-owned bookstore is going to spring up in its place.  (Although I wish that would happen!)  It’s really just going to drive more business to Amazon (or iTunes).  Yes, I know they’re both big, bad corporations, so why should I care if people buy from Borders or Amazon?

Because I like bookstores – large and small.  I like browsing.  I like wandering the aisles and touching the books.  Picking them up and feeling their weight.  I like to pick an edition based on the way the pages feel in my hand.  For me, buying a book is a tactile experience.   Continue reading

Google+ and the future of search

17 Jul

SparksIs G+ a killer app?”  Oh, come on that’s what everyone’s wondering.  Some people think that it’s going to rival Facebook.  Others think it’s here to challenge Microsoft.  I’m wondering if it’s here to change search.

You may not have heard about it, but G+ has a feature called Sparks, which brings content from around them web to you through your Google+ account.  Sparks features streams (to use Google speak) of information on a variety of topics.  It’s preloaded with some topics when you join G+, but you have the ability to add others.

Although Sparks hasn’t received nearly as much press as some other G+ features (like Hangouts and Circles), it may be the one that has the biggest impact on how we use the internet.  By bringing content directly to us, Sparks has the potential to change the way we get information, specifically the way we search.  Continue reading

What G+ is really about (pst!!! it’s not social)

14 Jul

Google+ CirclesI’ll admit, I’ve been a bit down on Google+.  I rushed to join and then struggled to find anything that interested me.  (Thus the “Google+ is… crickets?” post the other day.)  Well, I finally found something there that piqued my interest.  Or, more, someone there that piqued my interest.  Vincent Wong is a techie, an economist, and the first person that I’ve found to have a real perspective on G+ that’s not “OMG guys it’s the new Facebook!” Continue reading

Becoming Real: Harry Potter and The Velveteen Rabbit

12 Jul

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone Book CoverIn honor of the release of HP 7.5 this weekend, I bring you an excerpt of my thesis, “The Branding of Harry Potter: How Fanfiction is Challenging Concepts of Owner and Author”.  Before jumping in, here’s what you need to know:

I love Harry Potter and I love fanfiction; not in the way that I sit around and read it all the time, but you know, if I’m ever in a really bad mood…  I love fanfiction because it teaches people how to write and encourage people, especially young people, to find their voices and develop their skills as storytellers.  Everyone knows that Harry Potter struck a chord with a generation, but not many people know how it uniquely impacted creative and bookish teenagers.  Millions of their derivative works can be found on fanfiction archives across the internet.  Their writing and art, based upon Harry Potter and other fictional stories that became touchstone cultural artifacts, made up some of the earliest examples of Web 2.0.  And they did it all because of their love of the stories that inspired them.  Here we go… Continue reading

All I really need to know about social media, I learned in Kindergarten

11 Jul

Kindergarten Class - credit to woodleywonderworksFind social media culture confusing?  You passed Kindergarten, right?  You can do it.  Her’s what you need to know.  Some rules to live by, erm, tweet by.

  1. Share everything – Okay, maybe everything is an overstatement, but when it comes to social media, you’re trying to connect with people and telling your story.  And, let’s be honest, your story probably isn’t a #1 best seller, or at least it’s not going to be without your help.  The only way that your friends will find out about the cool place you went, the beautiful picture you took, or the great article you read is if you tell them.
  2. Play fair – Link baiting is not okay.  Neither is black hat SEO.  Sure we all want to be popular, to have more page views, more followers, what have you.  But, those rules and standards exist for a reason.  Everyone else has to follow them and so do you.
  3. Don’t hit people –This should really be “don’t poke people”.  It’s weird and annoying.  Just don’t do it. Continue reading

What does my Facebook say about me?

8 Jul

I’ve been writing a lot about what does your e-mail address say about you, about controlling your online identity and personal brand, and about knowing the importance of what the internet has to say about you.  So, now is time to see what the internet has to say about me.  Specially, in this case, what my Facebook profile says about me.

Maggie O'Toole

This is my current Facebook profile picture.

In my last post, I mentioned Facebook’s Download Your Profile tool.  Of course, I had to try it.  Initial reaction: it’s not very user friendly.  For security purposes, you have to jump through a lot of hoops.  But, I’m glad of that – I don’t want just anyone to be able to download a file that’s an easily searchable record of everything I’ve ever said/done on Facebook.  (Nothing too bad, mind you, but let’s just say that I didn’t understand about personal branding and reputation management in college.)

After jumping through the hoops to download my profile, I received a zipped folder comprised of html files for each type of information that I had posted on Facebook: newsfeed, pictures, etc.  I was hoping that it would all be in an easy to use document that I could run though some filters to come up with some stats about my Facebook usage.  (I was hoping for my very own Facebook infographic like the LinkedIn ones that I wrote about a few weeks ago.)  Alas, the Download Your Profile tool isn’t that user-friendly.  So, I decided just to look at the Newsfeed page, as that’s where most of the text goes anyway. Continue reading

Download your Facebook contact list — before it’s too late

5 Jul

Facebook vs. Google, Sword Fighting Social Media SitesThe battle for control of your personal network is on.

In case you missed it, Google+ officially rolled out last week, which had social media junkies like me all excited to get on it as soon as possible to see what it was all about.  So, we get our coveted invites and made it there and… crickets.  A social media sites are no fun when there’s no one there to socialize with.

Immediately I, and apparently lots of other people, too, thought, “Wouldn’t it be great if I could just bring my download my Facebook friend list and bring all by friends over to Google+ with me?” We’ve spent all this time building our digital personal networks and want them to travel with us wherever we go.  After all, their our contacts, not Facebook’s.  Seems logical, right?  Continue reading

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