Tag Archives: Social Times

Harry Potter Poked You Back

8 Oct

Or, SocialSamba brings characters to (digital) life

Last Action HeroRecently, a new social network launched.  SocialSamba gives you a social media space to interact with your favorite characters.  (Social media, characters, fanfic overtones … obviously I am way excited about this.)

The Social Times article that introduced me to SocialSamba started off with:

“Have you ever wished that you could be friends with the characters from your favorite movies and TV shows in real life?  Until recently this was impossible—after all, these characters don’t actually exist outside of the TV shows and movies you love.”

Wait what?  You’re saying that they’re not real?!  Must I introduce you to Six Characters in Search of an Author? Continue reading

The Six Degrees of Kevin Facebook

22 Aug
Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon - Way to own your own meme

Way to own your own meme, Kevin Bacon!

Or, Watch Maggie geek out about Facebook and math at the same time

Yesterday, I woke up to find that The Social Times had an article called “The ‘Small World Experiment’: Yahoo and Facebook Help Research Six Degrees of Separation”.  Then I listened to “Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me” – and it was the one where they interviewed Kevin Bacon.  He talked all about the game and how originally he had thought it was people making fun of him, i.e. this guy has been in so many movies and he still sucks.  Kevin Bacon’s personal insecurities aside, I took it as a sign that I should write a blog post about the Six Degrees research. Continue reading

Get ready for the 2012 campaign season — on your Facebook

18 Jun

Political Candidate with Social Media ButtonsMashable (via Social Times) is reporting that social media has a big impact on how we get our news and information.   (I’m thinking I might need to start a “well, duh” tag.)   We’re more likely to get information, to actually watch/read the information, and to share the information online than IRL.   Because of all this, “social media users are more likely to be influenced by Facebook “friends” than the evening news.” And in all of this, they’re using the term “social media voters”, a term that I’m going to wholeheartedly embrace. Continue reading

Infographics show Facebook is taking over

15 Jun

An article on Social Times combining infographics, Facebook, and social media trends?!  Obviously this is terribly exciting.   If you come here often, you know that infographics (especially interactive ones) are one of my favorite parts of the internet. (Other people search for porn, I search for infographics.   What can I say?) Continue reading

Civilizing Facebook

1 Jun

Original Civilization video game boxHow did I miss this news?!  Civilization is coming to Facebook!  (And now you’re probably like, what, Facebook is the bane of civilization and is ruining our culture and ability to communicate effectively and to interact with each other.)  No, Civilization with a capital C.  Civilization the video game.  Probably the only game I’ve ever actually loved.  (Although Super Mario 3 for Super Nintendo may be up there.) 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

Social Media and the Art of Storytelling, Reader Responses

20 Apr

This is the customary follow-up piece written by someone who didn’t consider all of the lovely ideas that the commenters brought to the table while she was writing her original article.  Unfortunately, a lot of times writers of these pieces seem to miss the bigger issues that the commenters brought up and instead focus on a few straw men that they can tear down to bolster their argument.  Of course, I wasn’t really making an argument, so hopefully I won’t fall into this trap.  (But, let me know if I do!)

Thanks to being featured on Freshly Pressed, Social Media and the Art of Storytelling has become my most viewed post.  After reading the comments (and responding to as many of them as I could), I realize that I left some lose ends in that post.

One thing that was pointed out time and again was that online communication cannot fully replace face to face interactions.  I think broadsideblog said it best:

There is something much more powerful about telling one another our stories face to face, not pixel by pixel. We need to know the effect on one another of our stories, whether tears or laughter, sighs or gasps…. I want to hear the voice, see their eyes, and when I am story-telling I need to see and hear what’s compelling — and what’s not.

Of course, that’s totally correct and applies not only to storytelling, but to communication in general.  You don’t comfort a grieving friend through chat and you don’t celebrate your child’s 5th birthday with an e-card.  It’s just not the same.  Some things do require physical presence, eye contact, and touch.

But, the medium through which we communicate is changing and we’re losing these elements in many of our day-to-day interactions.  (Earlier this year, I did a Facebook poll of my siblings and cousins to see how they wanted to celebrate Christmas…)  That’s happening and we can’t stop it.  So, really, the question is, how can we make sure that changes to the medium don’t affect changes to the message?  (Yes, yes, I know – “The medium is the message.”)  As commenter Jaime Greening said:

the medium of the story matters, but it neither stops nor starts the story. the story originates in the storyteller and germinates until it finds an audience. human beings must tell stories, and we will use what is available–twitter, fb, blog or cave walls.

Perfectly said.  Now can someone please make an evolutionary chart that shows the progression of storytelling mediums from cave paintings to twitter?  Information is Beautiful, maybe?

Another thing that came up a lot was people wondering how all of these stories that we’re creating and posting online could be preserved.  Listener commented:

And to think, for millenia the vast majority of people existed with no record of their existence other than their DNA. I suppose we are lucky.?! This should be motivation to make use of the new-found ease with with we can create.

At what point will historians, museums, or historical societies start to preserve and catalogue the virtual world? It seems quite a daunting task to take a snapshot of the entire web. Since things online are always changing, you’d need to somehow capture everything at once if you wanted a representative view of the web of 2011, for example.

I do have real answers to this one, not just the meandering thoughts that I’ve had to the previous two.  (But, don’t worry, I have meandering thoughts on this, too.)  We as bloggers aren’t alone in recognizing the need to capture our stories, our culture, and our communications and to save them for the future.  The Library of Congress does, too.  Last year, they began archiving tweets.  They’ll be searchable for scholars in the future.  To learn more about the archive, read How Tweet It Is!: Library Acquires  Entire Twitter Archive.  Imagine if historians had similar data from different periods.  What if a civil war scholar could get data about opinion and chatter on any given day in the lead up to the war.  What if a WWII scholar could look into the social networks of Germans leading up to the war and see how densely Jews were tied into larger social networks and at what point those ties broke?  (Have I mentioned that I’m a history nerd?)  Also, the Internet Archive, is working to catalog the Internet and its growth and changes for future scholars.  (Who knows, your blog may appear in a book 100 years from now!)  Their project, the Wayback Machine, allows you to see to internet site at different points in the past and view their development over time.  So cool!

I did have one commenter, Alecia, who kind of stumped me.  (Unfortunately Alecia didn’t link to her blog, so no pingbacks for her.) She asked:

Why is storytelling so important in relation to digital social media?

When I first heard about the importance of storytelling in today’s tech world, I was a little confused. Storytelling doesn’t seem that important to me. But Guy Kawasaki and other ‘connected’ people I’ve read about stress storytelling’s importance.

Why do you think digital storytelling is important?

I think I may have failed a bit on my response:

Hmmm. For me, I guess I’ve never questioned that story telling is important. I think of it as a basic way that we interact with and connect with each other. It bonds people together and forges shared experiences.

I’ve always been really interested in the study of what myths and creation stories say about a culture. I think that you can tell a lot about a people and what they value from the stories that they tell. Are you familiar with the Horatio Alger stories? Stories are often shorthand for our hopes as fears.

My real interest in writing this is that we don’t lose storytelling’s place in our culture as we become a more physically disconnected society.

So, readers, commenters, I put it to you.  Why is storytelling important?  Can you help me articulate it any better?


MaggieCakes is a blog about culture, social media, and what’s new in the world of Internet culture. Every day (okay, I try for every day) I comb blogs and news outlets for the news about internet culture and social media to bring them to you (with my commentary, of course) here on MaggieCakes. MaggieCakes is hosted by WordPress and often draws upon Slate, Jezebel, The Hair Pin, and SocialTimes for links and inspiration. My post Social Media and the Art of Storytelling was featured on Freshly Pressed, bringing a while new readership to my blog. Find anything interesting in the worlds of culture or social media that you’d like to see a post on? Leave a comment or send me an e-mail at 2maggieotoole@gmail.com.

Social Media and the Art of Storytelling

6 Apr

A few days ago, Chris Sullivan of MyNorthwest.com wrote an article called “The art of storytelling in a world of technology”.  He asked if you can tell a story over Twitter and wondered if the limitations of the medium limited the message.  He quoted professional storyteller Anne Rutherford as saying “Whatever their age, whatever their circumstance, if it’s a good story and it’s well told we completely have the ability to respond to that. However, what I think we’re losing is the opportunity to be in those situations.”  Ms. Rutherford believes the communications over digital technology, particularly via social media, are causing us to cut back on our in person interactions, and thus on our chances to tell and listen to stories.

In response to Mr. Sullivan’s article, Amanda Cosco of the Social Times said:

“It is my argument that social media makes story-telling even more possible today than in earlier years. While I’d agree with Sullivan that we’re not sharing stories in the same manner as we used to, I’d suggest that Story itself is an evolving beast, something that grows and mutates with time. Throughout history, storytelling forms have changed with technology— from oral traditions, to the printed word, to most recently digital media—but the elements of narrative can be detected throughout, as Story manages to creep its way into every linguistic or visual expression.”

And, I agree.  We use social media to connect and to share about our lives.  Really, our posts, tweets, and status updates come together to tell our stories.  A new “friend” is a new character entering the story.  Every check-in on FourSquare brings a new scene.  So, while the medium may be changing, the stories are still being told, now more than ever.  After all, we’re all writing our autobiographies, whether we know it or not.

Admittedly, social media tends to focus more on non-fiction than fiction.  (Interesting, because if you asked teens or twenty-somethings what they prefer, I bet the vast majority of them would say fiction.)  But, there are whole realms of online social interactions that are devoted to fiction.  Although they’re not as big of names as Facebook, they’re still important.  LiveJournal has many story writing communities.  And, there’s always fanfic.  (Yes, I realize that fanfiction.net is probably the lamest fanfic link, but I’m not sure who all is in the audience here and how many of them would think I were crazy if I posted some other ones…)  See the story of Cassandra Clare (fanfic author that got a book deal and made good) for an example of social media and online communities leading to authorship.

In response to Mr. Sullivan’s dare (“I challenge you to tell a great story on Twitter”), I submit that Charles Dickens released his stories in serial format.  I’m sure that they were much longer than 144 characters, but his medium was novel at the time, too.

So, keep updating, keep posting, and keep tweeting —  after all your writing you’re own story.  (And if you don’t write it, it probably won’t get told.)

Update: I’ve posted a follow-up piece, Social Media and the Art of Storytelling, Reader Responses.  I was so impressed with the thoughtful and articulate comments that I couldn’t just let them sit without a reply.  Read some selected comments and more on the topic here.


MaggieCakes is a blog about culture, social media, and what’s new in the world of Internet culture.  Every day (okay, I try for every day) I comb blogs and news outlets for the news about internet culture and social media to bring them to you (with my commentary, of course) here on MaggieCakes.  MaggieCakes is hosted by WordPress and often draws upon Slate, Jezebel, The Hair Pin, and SocialTimes for links and inspiration.  My post Social Media and the Art of Storytelling was featured on freshly pressed, bringing a while new readership to my blog.  Find anything interesting in the worlds of culture or social media that you’d like to see a post on?  Leave a comment or send me an e-mail at 2maggieotoole@gmail.com.

The YouTube Family Singers

4 Apr

Usually I think that YouTube is cool, but kind of worthless in terms of accomplishing anything other than giving people all over the world access to funny cat videos.  (Not to disparage the value of funny cat videos…)  But, today I saw something that I’ve never seen before – people making something beautiful and positive over YouTube.

Inspired by a video of a young girl singing one of the pieces that he had written, composer Eric Whitacre “used online video to bring together singers from around the globe to participate in a virtual choir with over 2,000 voices… They recorded videos of themselves singing their parts, uploaded them to YouTube and were edited together with the thousands of other participants to create a single video of Whtacre’s choral composition, ‘Sleep’, 2,000 singers strong.”

The video will be released later this week; but, right now you can watch the first one that he did, which featured 185 signers.  It’s truly amazing.  (Although maybe the graphical layout could use some work…)  I am as excited about this as I was about flashmobs, and that’s saying something…  So, if you’re in the mood to smile, visit SocialTimes’ article about the topic when you can watch the show and Mr. Whitacre’s TED Talk (or watch this Sound of Music flashmob video).  Another personal note, I would love to give a TED talk one day.  Maybe we’ll add this to my list of life goals, along with meeting the Spice Girls (hey, I was twelve when I but that on the list!) and joining MENSA (no defense of that one, apparently I’m an intellectual snob).


MaggieCakes is a blog about culture, social media, and what’s new in the world of internet culture. Every day (okay I try for every day) I comb blogs and news outlets for the news about internet culture and social media to bring them to you (with my commentary, of course) here on MaggieCakes. MaggieCakes is hosted by WordPress and often draws upon Slate, Jezebel, The Hair Pin, and SocialTimes for links and inspiration. Find anything interesting in the worlds of culture or social media that you’d like to see a post on? Leave a comment or send me an e-mail at mo134603@ohio.edu.

An AppStore a Day Keeps the Lawyers… Involved?

23 Mar

Amazon and Apple are at again, hashing out trademarks and usage of terms that one considers generic and the other proprietary.  Amazon has launched an “AppStore”, which Apple seems to close to its “Apple App Store”.  According to Social Times, Apple has filed a lawsuit and is seeking damages from Amazon.

Towards the end of their article, Social Times asks:

Can the history of the term “app” be traced and attributed? How common is the term? Is “App” the new Kleenex- a brand which has become synonymous with an item? For all the users – who have no stake hold in the term – does anyone really care?

I’ve always been interested in what happens when a brand becomes synonymous with an entire product category, known as a colloquial brand.

I also found this list of The Top 100 Brands Synonymous with Their Product Category.  (Should that be “Their Product Categories”?)  I was surprised by a lot of them, including these:  Zipper, Popsicle, Ping Pong, Heroin, Dumpster, Dry Ice.  More can be found here.

Here’s what I always wonder: is this a good thing or a bad thing for a company?  It’s good because it means that their product is successful, the most successful and well known in its category.  But, it’s bad in that they lose (at least some) control of their brand.  Is this something that brand mangers strive for or fear?

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