Posts tagged ‘social media’

Everybody’s Doing It (Or Getting Others To Do It For Them)

During a recent interview with the New York Times, John McCain says the following about his use of the Internet:

I am learning to get online myself, and I will have that down fairly soon, getting on myself. I don’t expect to be a great communicator, I don’t expect to set up my own blog, but I am becoming computer literate to the point where I can get the information that I need.

It doesn’t get any better for McCain in this exchange between Mark Soohoo, one of his eCampaign directors, and Tracy Russo of the Edwards campaign about how important it is for the next president to understand the Internet:

As you can imagine, McCain’s lack of web 2.0 skills (and web 1.0 skills, come to think of it) have been the subject of abundant jokes, criticism, and general disbelief. An account of the New York Times story has received almost 1,500 diggs and the quote has spawned parody blog posts about McCain’s Internet explorations.

After learning that McCain depends on his wife and advisors to help him go online to read newspapers, the following words on McCain’s campaign site seem somewhat empty to me:

John McCain believes the Internet offers tremendous promise in terms of freedom of expression, information sharing, and the spread of knowledge and commerce. It represents the greatest innovation of the modern era in terms of the democratization of free speech and access to information. From human rights groups in China to bloggers here in the United States, the Internet has opened a global dialogue that has propelled the world into an exciting new century of connectivity and communication.

And what should we make of McCain’s Facebook page, MySpace page, and YouTube channel? When a presidential candidate who doesn’t email and can’t figure out how to go online is using social networking sites and viral videos as part of his campaign strategy, it’s clear that social media has become one of campaigning’s required tools. It’s now as obligatory as press conferences, press releases, and those annoying recorded phone calls at dinnertime. Gone are the days when we’ll marvel as a presidential candidate like Howard Dean who harnessed the power of the Internet to conduct fundraising and who benefited from his supporters’ online organizing. Now everybody’s doing it (that’s not to say they’re all doing it equally well, as ATW and Mknac point out).

In a Washington Post op-ed last winter, my instructor expressed his serious dismay at politicians’ lack of technology literacy. He asked:

…why is it that we blithely allow our leaders to be ignorant of the force that, probably more than any other, will drive and define the nation’s economic success and reshape its society over the next 20 years?

I don’t have the answer to his question, but I wonder whether time will be the main factor in ensuring that we have technologically literate politicians. We may just have to wait until our digital natives are all grown up. After all, McCain’s daughter has a blog.

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July 27, 2008 at 10:52 am Leave a comment

And the Tagline Is…

A Girl’s Guide to Social Media, Communications, and Life As I Know It.

I know – it’s a little long. But brevity has never been my strong suit. Take a look at my Second Life post if you don’t believe me. Finishing my work early is also not one of my defining characteristics, which is why I’m enjoying a Web 2.0 July 4th alone with my laptop while my boyfriend lounges at the pool with his friends. But I digress…

A million thanks to those of you who voted on my tagline! I had such fun reading everyone’s comments and it was great to view the spike in my blog stats.  ; )

The official tally ended up at 10 votes for A Girl’s Guide to Social Media, 1 vote for Web 2.0 from a PR Perspective, 5 votes for Beyond Press Releases: Your Daily Dose of Web 2.0, and 1 vote for Communications in a Web 2.0 World.

It’s clear A Girl’s Guide to Social Media was the overwhelming favorite. I felt compelled to tweak that tagline a bit because my blog attempts to address social media through a communications lens, which I didn’t think the original tagline made clear. And I wanted room to occasionally blog about topics of interest to me outside of Web 2.0 and communications.

Stay tuned for my custom header idea. I have the perfect design in mind, but I have no idea how to create it. I may have to employ the services of mahjesstica. Check out her custom designed smoke.

Thanks again to the tagline voters and happy July 4th to all!

July 4, 2008 at 2:17 pm Leave a comment

Make More People Care

I don’t remember when I first heard about Wikipedia. It could have been six years ago, or maybe it was three. What I do remember was my dubious reaction. The idea of an encyclopedia editable by all seemed absurd – even stupid. Why leave the door open to the potential for complete inaccuracy?

But now I’m an occasional Wikipedia user and I think Wikipedia is a great free resource. So what changed my mind? It’s hard to say because it’s not as if I was even aware my mind had changed. Maybe it was the quality of the entries I stumbled across. It could have been the breadth and depth of topics the online encyclopedia covers. Perhaps I just had to get used to the idea of wikis themselves.

It’s likely that all of the above contributed to my change of mind. And after reading about Wikipedia for class, I’m only more convinced that the online, editable encyclopedia is providing a valuable service. It might not quite be the charitable humanitarian effort its founder, Jimmy Wales, envisions, but it’s become the fastest-growing reference work ever and an incredible example of how an online network of unpaid volunteers from across the world can pool knowledge and efforts to create an always-changing, living, breathing font of information.

My social media instructor asked us to consider whether we should trust Wikipedia or an expert-led encyclopedia more. My answer is that it depends. I actually think comparing Wikipedia to something like Britannica Online is comparing apples to oranges. Wikipedia is free and accessible to anyone with an internet connection. And for real-time information, it just can’t be beat. For better or for worse, Tim Russert’s Wikipedia page was updated with news of his death before any of the networks made the announcement. But if I had to do research for a paper or for a project at work, I wouldn’t rely solely on Wikipedia. I might use it as a starting point, though. The beauty of Wikipedia is that it requires citations, so following a Wikipedia page’s references to primary sources is a good way to track down information straight from the experts.

We were also asked how Wikipedia could be set-up to better provide accuracy. I started to brainstorm ideas, only to find that many of them are already in practice. Wikipedia’s organization and its system of checks and balances is a lot more structured than I had envisioned.  For example, any user can put an article on his or her watch list, which records all changes to that entry. As a last resort, particularly controversial pages can be locked in the face of constant vandalism or editing wars.

Actual studies have shown that vandalism of Wikipedia articles, such as mass deletions or insertion of obscenities, are typically corrected by users who care in a matter of minutes. And according to Clay Shirky, author of Here Comes Everybody, “if enough people care enough about an article to read it, then enough people will care enough to improve it, and over time this will lead to a large enough body of good enough work to begin to take both availability and quality of articles for granted, and to integrate Wikipedia into daily use by millions.”

So my solution to providing better Wikipedia accuracy: Make more people care.

June 22, 2008 at 10:58 pm 1 comment

Vote On My Tagline!

It’s about time I assign a tagline to my blog and what better way to do so than have my readers – all 5 of them at last count – vote on their favorites. In case you haven’t figured it out already, my blog focuses on social media and web 2.0 through a communications/public relations lens. I’d love for the tagline to convey this theme in a fun and catchy way. This might be a tall order, particularly when you read some of the options below. But I’d welcome your thoughts on which tagline comes closest.

Here’s what I’ve come up with so far:

Melissa’s Musings

A) A Girl’s Guide to Social Media

B) Web 2.0 from a PR Perspective

C) Beyond Press Releases: Your Daily Dose of Web 2.0

D) Communications in a Web 2.0 World

Please comment to submit your vote. And feel free to suggest your own tagline. I can’t promise cash prizes, but you’ll get a special shout out in a future blog post if I choose your suggestion. And thanks go to my coworker Kevin for coming up with this poll idea!

June 19, 2008 at 3:42 am 15 comments

Adventures in Podcasting

My social media instructor recently tasked the class to watch a vlog or podcast and then write about it in our personal blogs. He gave us a short list of suggestions to start with: TWiT, Rocketboom, Web Alert, and Ask a Ninja. I tried watching TWiT, quickly grew bored, and moved on to Ask A Ninja, which, I’m not ashamed to admit, I just don’t get.

So I moved on to Episode 152 of Diggnation with Kevin Rose and Alex Albrecht who discussed their ever-growing Twitter networks, shared the top 10 features of Firefox, and outlined Digg’s recent top stories which covered everything from heat sensitive wallpaper to Weezer’s new music video. Rose and Albrecht concluded the episode by dispensing some hilarious relationship advice in response to a fan email. I watched the entire program (which ran over 45 minutes) and I enjoyed it, even though there were a few long spans of tech speak that I barely understood.

During my podcast explorations I developed the impression that most podcasts are targeted to my boyfriend’s demographic – young, geeky male tech types. In fact, my boyfriend regularly listens to Diggnation on his commute to and from his job as a software engineer. So I did a quick Google search on “podcasting for girls” and discovered the Rumor Girls. I watched Episode 142 during which Karla and Karen Gilbert discussed Jimmy Buffet and debated the origins of the phrase “what have you.” I liked that the video podcast was short, snappy, and made me laugh more than once. What’s more, it turned out to be practical podcast viewing because the girls shared a code I can use to buy a discounted domain name – another class requirement.

June 16, 2008 at 4:18 am 1 comment

Musing #1

Welcome everyone! I’m a part-time graduate student in a corporate communications/public relations master’s program at Georgetown University. I’m taking a social media class this summer and one of the class requirements is to start a blog.

While this is a class requirement, it’s also something I’ve secretly wanted to do for quite some time. I’ve blogged a little for my job (I work at an education association), and I’ve been itching for a forum where I can write in my own voice about topics beyond education. So stay tuned for reactions to my class reading assignments, as well as some additional posts about whatever happens to be on my mind at the moment!

May 21, 2008 at 12:55 am Leave a comment


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