June 27, 2011

The Internet Is a Time-Waster? U.S. Adults Seem to Think Otherwise

Seventy-seven percent of American adults use the Internet: 78% of adult men, 76% of women. That's according to a December 2010 survey by Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project. Seems like even the folks who think the Web is a "series of tubes" like former U.S. Senator Ted Stevens (R-AK) have decided that it's indispensable after all.

It's not much of a surprise that 90% of 18- to 29-year-olds are online, but now, so are almost half (46%) of Americans age 65 and older.


Thank goodness for the Pew Center, huh? Headquartered in Washington, D.C., Pew describes itself as a "nonpartisan 'fact tank' that provides information on the issues, attitudes and trends shaping America and the world." The Internet Project is one of seven focus areas, including America's Hispanic population, journalism, religion, social and demographic trends and global attitudes.

I believe Pew's Internet & American Life Project is one of the best mirrors available to view our digital selves. Name a category: age, race, social groups (sports teams, bridge clubs...), even generations. Pew is probably already tracking how that cohort is using the Net. Perhaps you're thinking that you're ahead (or behind) the curve of web users your age. Visit the Pew site and find out if you're right.





June 25, 2011

Weekend Comix

What good is being a Goddessblogger if you can't take weekends off? How about a little communications humor?

Courtesy of Dan Piraro's Bizarro (Sorry, but including the art costs big $):

God: I meant to end the world, like, a month ago, but I forgot to sync my BlackBerry.

June 24, 2011

Blogging with Photos: The Next Nail in the Coffin of Good Writing?

Honestly, there oughta be an SAT test question: "New is to the Internet as what is to snow?" (If you answered "white", you win.)

Blogging has been fairly limited to just 3 primary platforms, Blogger, a Google product, and WordPress.com/WordPress.org and TypePad. I use Blogger, but I hope to transfer over to WordPress before the end of the year. The layouts, widget options and, well, everything looks so much better!

But then, at some point last year I started hearing about Tumblr. At first, it seemed to me that Tumblr was all about photography. People whose posts consisted of only a large pic and a caption. Then, that changed, too. Part of Tumblr's appeal, so they say, is the ease of posting on the go from a smartphone. (New to Tumblr? Check out Social Media Explorer's list of the top 25 Tumblr blogs from last June.)

This week I was invited to be a guest blogger at Digital Media Geek. That's where I learned about Tout, a brand new site to moi. According to the Geeksite, Tout allows people to update their Facebook friends and Twitter followers with up to 15 seconds of real-time video. Why use words with a video clip of your own, or YouTube, will do?

The fact that Shaquille O'Neill used Twitter (@Shaq) to make his retirement announcement from the Boston Celtics was well publicized. Not so much the fact that the video he tweeted was done through Tout.

Tout won't be the last app to encourage pictures over narrative. But, what does that mean in the long run for us all?


June 21, 2011

A Camera with a Projector Built In? Why, That's a Great Idea!

Joyous news, Goddessfriends! You may recall the sad announcement last April when Cisco announced the end of its popular Flip video camera. I'm still bummed about that. And yes, there are other pocket cams out there, but it ain't the same.

Today's good news is that there's a new video camera available that simply fills my mind with possibilities, especially in the hands of America's nonprofits. This is NOT a paid ad. Honest I just love this thing.

The bad news is that it costs a lot more than the terminally ill Flip. More than twice as much, to be precise.

Introducing the 3M Shoot and Share, a camcorder with a projector built in!

You can also upload PowerPoint presentations with drag-and-drop ease, and project them, too -- a professional speaker's dream. The camera records still photos, too. If you're thinking the pic that comes out can't be that big, wrong-o! Projected images can be up to 65" wide!



Price? $235 - $300.

Please note: I'm judging this cam as a non-user, examining only its amazing potential for anyone challenged to afford a true projector for office or organization. Reviews say that its video output isn't as good as the Flip Ultra HD {sob!}, but hey - tradeoffs make the world go 'round.

P.S. If all you need is a good little cam to take the favorited position previously held by the Flip, PCmag.com recommends the Sony Bloggie Touch at $200.

June 20, 2011

Apples & Androids Are Killing Blackberry. Sorry, But I Just Can't Stop.

"BLACKBERRY MAKER RESEARCH IN MOTION
HAS DISAPPOINTING EARNINGS REPORT, STOCK PLUMMETS"

That sad little headline from the Los Angeles Times (6/10/11) wasn't happy news for Research in Motion (RIM) or its customers, BBerry users like me. I have to confess that the headline didn't surprise me; I'm guessing the company wasn't caught off guard, either.

The Los Angeles Times reported that Anil Doradla, a technology analyst at Chicago's William Blair & Co. said, "RIM did not have a smartphone in the top 3 positions at any of the 4 major North American carriers. Additionally, during the quarter RIM saw significant price cuts at AT&T and Sprint."

Blackberry's ultimate demise by the forces of Apple's iPhone and Google's Android has been predicted for a long time. The Goddess believes the final blow will be the arrival of iPhone 5...at Verizon stores. Thousands of BBerries were ditched last February after the initial iPhone/Verizon pairing, but I predict that I'm not the only one waiting for the harmonic convergence of a new iPhone on the Verizon network.

If it were up to me, of course, I'd bite the bullet and buy the darned thing now, but all the technoids say September will bring the newest little Apple to the spotlight. I'm cool with that.

I'm even cool with the murmurs that this autumn will only see an iPhone 4.5 -- minor tweaks to the iPhone 4 -- with a truly redesigned #5 phone not available until sometime in 2012. Heck, the iPad2 was released less than 5 months after I bought an iPad, so I've already experienced (with apologies to Elisabeth Kubler-Ross) the 5 stages of Apple Grief:

Shock. Apple announced WHAT??
Anger. Apple announced WHAT!!
Denial. Well, I don't care, I like what I have just fine.
Depression. I can't have the new thing. There's just no way, and it's better than what I have.
Acceptance. I have what I have.

At this point, an iPhone is all that's left to make my i-ddiction complete. It seems a logical purchase, but if Apple drags its feet, I may have to give more consideration to life in the Droid lane. Phone shopping feels almost as important as buying a car, and no one wants the long-term regret of a poor choice.

June 15, 2011

Cong. Weiner Teaches 4 Critical Lessons in Online Communication. Listen Up.

There are enough lessons for communicators in Cong. Weiner's ongoing tragicomedy that it could fill a college syllabus. At the least it could entertain and educate the audience at many a PRSA luncheon (Public Relations Society of America).
  • Speed-of-light delivery around the globe is the behind-the-scenes puppeteer in the destruction of many a career. Take the time to proof the text for typos, especially if you're writing on an iPad or smartphone. Check the address just before you hit send, every time you hit send.
  • It doesn't matter what the program is (e-mail, Facebook, Twitter, etc.) and it doesn't matter if you use a laptop or a Blackberry. If there's a Send button involved, your secrets aren't safe. Just because they're called "Direct Messages" and "Instant Messages," never be fooled into thinking that those missives are truly private. And, once the Internet has ahold of your secrets, cussing out Mark Zuckerberg or any single app administrator really won't make any difference.
  • Many people are calling "Weinergate" the biggest Twitter Fail ever. It reminds every Twitter user to double-check that any tweet intended for a single person (Direct Messages) begins with "D". Tweets beginning with "@" go to everyone using Twitter worldwide.
I thought I'd covered all Mr. W's digital goofs over 2 posts until I checked out this week's issue of Time Magazine. I always love the insights of Media & TV Critic James Poniewozik (left), so if I have to be proven wrong, let it be by him, ya know?

Here, then, is the #1 lesson in online communication to be learned from Cong. Weiner, exquisitely put by Mr. Poniewozik:
"Don't tweet where you eat."
Translation: Never use a professional account for highly personal correspondence.

If the Congressman had opened a free, secondary Twitter account using a screen name, the oopsies! bulge-in-the-underpants pic would have never been attached to him. Seriously. The dude had more than 82,000 followers. That's not the account you use to send pictures of your manparts. That single action would have preserved the previously upward trajectory of Mr. Weiner's career. (The Goddess believes the risk of being caught helped to fuel his guano behavior.)

You're not sexting, you say? There's other personal messages you may not want the world to see. It's not that rare for a senior manager to accidentally receive the Can't-Wait-Hot-for-You e-mail Don in Accounting e-mailed to Marsha in Marketing. Even knowing that each sizzling message lives forever somewhere in the company's servers, it's a risk many of us take.

And yes, opening a second e-mail or Twitter account can be a pain; a time-eater if nothing else. Would you prefer the out-in-the-open alternative?

How 'bout this? If the subject is sex, drugs or anything illegal, take the time to open another account.

June 14, 2011

The Congressman, the Comedian & Communication at the Speed of Light

There are people working full-time to make sure that you have the opportunity to see every dirty photo Cong. Anthony Weiner ever tweeted. There are others weighing in on the went-too-far ranting humor of Tracy Morgan. A good week for the Goddess, because it's all about communications.
  • As pieces of his starry career continue to splinter at his feet, Cong. Weiner is trying to fall on the sword of Rehab, perhaps his only PR Ace left in a pretty murky hole. It might work...if only for those darned pictures!
  • Tracy Morgan, a comedian who gets laughs from humor that earned its rough edges from the streets, might be described as a pissed-off marble shooting around a tiled bathroom. On a GOOD day. While performing, Mr. Morgan said, among other things, that he'd stab his son to death if he spoke to him in "a gay voice". He apologized fairly quickly after at least one fan complained online, but the damage was done. (PR Folk note: Ryman Auditorium released a nice little statement of its own.)
Now, gay groups are on fire, and other celebs are speaking out. Some, like Chris Rock and Tina Fey are providing lukewarm support. Others (Wanda Sykes, Nia Vardalos) are screaming "Off with his head!"


Rising above the smarm-oozing headlines, these two scandals illustrate in stunning fashion THE defining component of communication in 2011.

Speed.

Once Cong. Weiner misaddressed a Twitter message and hit Send on his smartphone, his career was toast.

Mr. Morgan presented his comments on a stage in Nashville, but quotes from his mean-spirited rant were out in cyberspace even as people were walking up the aisle to leave the show.

For some people, the realization of how quickly a brand can be digitally annihilated makes them so afraid that they vow, "That's it! I'm only using e-mail." No Facebook, no blogs (which will put them a step behind when the world moves on to whatever comes next). Um, you should remember that e-mail is pretty speedy, too.

But, digital illiteracy is not what we're about, is it, Goddessfriend? I say, view the congressman and the comedian as the Living Lessons they are: When your message will be delivered at the speed of light, perhaps you should slow down and think harder when you're crafting it.

June 10, 2011

Weiner Wisdom: If There's a 'Send' Button Involved, Your Secrets Aren't Safe

For a blog devoted to modern communication, the sad, tacky saga of New York Congressman Anthony Weiner abounds with teachable moments and examples of what NOT to do in a crisis. As of today, with a majority of his constituents saying they want him to stay, he's hanging in, though with few public friends. (Photo Credit: AP)

I hadn't thought of actually counting the many communications lessons in this story. My main goal was to get the spotlight off of Twitter. This is a story of user error. Period.

Mr. Weiner had previously sent his lewd little snapshots as "Direct Messages" (DM). A private one-to-one conversation amidst the waterfall of everyone else's tweets. (If a person isn't following you on Twitter, you cannot DM them.)

As the Huffington Post points out, Direct Messages begin with the D symbol. A message sent on Twitter with the @ symbol goes to the addressee...and the entire Twitterverse.
Example: DLady Gaga Can I meet you backstage? (Direct)
@LadyGaga I think you're great!! (All Twitter)

My argument is that the exact same thing could have happened using e-mail, or Facebook. To a lesser extent, I think it could have even happened by text on a mobile phone.

For the love of the Goddess' sanity, please tell every (male) politician, teen, etc.:

If you want to flirt sexually with someone, do it without hitting a "Send" button. No matter the gadget, if you can send it "directly to her", you can also send it to the entire globe. Or, a hacker can expose it for you.

In the blink of an eye.

Forget for a moment the sleazy elements of whichever married man is busted this week or the next. The Rule applies to men and women, teens and kids. The Internet, especially the social web, is designed to share information with each other, not keep it private.

Any illusions of privacy that we enjoy while online are exactly that.

P.S. A media-ambush is the one occasion when "I have no comment right now" is perfectly acceptable. Preferred, even.

June 7, 2011

Note to Self: Use Evite, Not Facebook, to Send Party Invitations

No way could I ignore this recent news story wrapped around a perfectly universal teachable moment in modern communication. Ponder this, Goddessfriends:

Thessa uses Facebook to invite her friends to her 16th birthday party. In her excitement, she forgets to mark the post as "Private" to only certain people. Result? The invite goes viral, with more than 15,000 people confirming their attendance online. The majority of them had never met Thessa before, online or off.
Her parents made her cancel the party, but on the previously scheduled date, more than 1,500 people showed up at their home. It took 100 police officers, some on horseback, to gain control of the crowd.
The Associated Press reported that "dozens of girls wearing flip-flops cut their feet on broken glass and firefighters had to extinguish two small fires."

It was also revealed that some wannabe partygoers "brought birthday presents and homemade cake and there was lots of alcohol as the crowd chanted again and again, 'Thessa, celebrating a birthday is not a crime,' -- in obvious reference to the massive police presence." (Photo Credits: AFP)
Parents everywhere should be hyperventilating over this coulda-happened-anywhere, coulda-been-a-lot-worse funny little news kicker.

No exaggeration...parents everywhere.

You see, this story happened in Berlin, Germany. Wasn't it easy to envision Thessa and her flip-flop wearing Facebook buds at a mall near you?

I was going to ask you to consider whether Thessa's biggest mistake was neglecting to check her Facebook security settings before posting the invite, OR using Facebook to send party invitations when more secure free e-options are available. I think either one is a contender, though I'd never use FB for anything I'm worried about other people seeing. I guess paranoia can be a good thing after all.

I've changed my focus to look in on Mom and Dad, who are surely still drinking in the basement as you read these words.

This story has a lesson for any parent of a teenaged party host or hostess: Have another all-caps TALK about social media. Soon.

Sorry, but the subject of being smart with what and how you communicate online is just as important as sex and drugs. Those TALKS are never "done" with just a single parent/child sit-down, either. And, even if you know there are paper invites being sent via U.S. Mail, it couldn't hurt to discuss how conversations about an upcoming party will be managed online.

How to start the conversation? Cruise around sites like WiredSafety, then...talk. You know Thessa's parents wish they had.

June 3, 2011

Reason #98 Kazillion To LOVE the Internet: No More Karaoke at the Mall

Thanks to advancements in search engine mechanics, mP3 technology and digital everything, never again should a full-grown adult have to humiliate himself in front of a teen salesclerk, clueless about the music they want to buy.

btw: Anyone denying that the elimination of such soul-shaming antics is a big freakin' good thing must have been born since the launch of iTunes in 2000 and never had to do it.

Buying an album, tape or CD in the early and pre-Web 2.0 world when the only lyrics you know are, "Making my way downtown, walking fast" (Vanessa Carlton's A Thousand Miles) was achievable, but embarrassing. Far worse than singing a capella in a crowded store? Humming. The chorus of Smooth by Santana and Rob Thomas, for example, was never meant to be hummed like Muzak.

The realization that Music Forgetfulness can go on the heap with Multiple Landline Phones came to me this week via MTV's Mob Wives, a show that I've only watched in stolen moments here and there, and every peek has included a hair-pulling girlfight. (Think Bravo's Housewives on big Godfather steroids.)

Commercials for Mob Wives run on multiple networks and always include a snatch of the show's theme song, which I do love. The only lyrics I can make out are, "the big, big bang, the reason I'm alive".
The voice sounded a bit like Adele to me, so my first try was to go to iTunes and listen to a sample of every song on her latest album, 21. Nada.

Next, I dropped my phrase of lyrics into Google and was rewarded with video of Rock Mafia performing The Big Bang. I was so happy about my find, I didn't really mind feeling like I should have been able to guess the title.

The moment when I really did feel like a dumb Goddess? Writing this post. That's when I learned the song is easily accessible at the Mob Wives section of MTV.com, a site it never even occurred to me to visit!

June 2, 2011

Looking to Connect with Bloggers? Get Some Clues from MAC Cosmetics.

"Blogger Relations" sounds so up-to-the-minute that the very term itself can intimidate some folks into deciding they don't even need to learn a better definition. Blogs are different from traditional print and broadcast media, of course, but so what? Good PR pros always knew the nuanced differences between the requirements of, say, a science mag, a science TV show and the newspaper columnist who does the science Q&A column. (Image Credit: CaliforniaFamily.CA)

It's really not that different when learning to distinguish blogger preferences and reach. Yeah, it may take a bit more effort to read posts over time to really understand the site and the blogger behind it. But if a blog is well read by the audience you need to reach, a post that's dedicated to your organization or product will go far. The challenge is to believe the numbers and analytics that say so; it's just not the same as holding a hard-copy newspaper clipping in your hands.

I write a blog, and I love it for a blur of reasons. Because of my own struggles to produce posts -- content-- on a regular basis, I know the challenge must be fairly universal across the blogosphere. I'd love to be a devoted reader of all of the blogs and bloggers that interest me, but just a quick scan of the mega-blogs (Mashable, Huffington Post, etc.) eats up an entire morning, no prob.

Yes, the Goddess confesses to being being a sporadic blog reader, even with RSS and an iPad. The Flipboard app that creates an e-zine from RSS feeds and social links helps, but I can still be surprised to find that a blog is sporting a totally new layout since the last time I read it. Or, the blogger has shifted focus somehow. That happened this week when I dropped in at Afrobella after an absence of, well, let's say lots of months.

I knew that Patrice Yursik (Below left, Credit: Errol Dunlap) had attracted headlines with the blog she started in 2006 about her decision to embrace her natural hair, leaving chemical straighteners behind. I even knew that she'd been profiled last May by Black Enterprise for Black Bloggers Month. The surprise came when I saw how her blog's scope has expanded. The subhead explains it as, "Beauty. Hair.
Culture. Life." That about covers it. Macy's ads and giveaways. Wowza, this baby blog is all grown-up.

My prodigal visit coincided with Ms. Yursik's announcement that she'd recently been invited to MAC Cosmetics' Toronto lab with 8 other beauty
bloggers (Lipstick Powder and Paint, The MakeUp Girl, Temptalia, Beauty Blogging Junkie, Beauty Maverick, Beauty and Makeup Blog, Nitrolicious and Shades of U). Each woman was selected for a once-in-a-lifetime adventure to work with chemists and create a lipglass or eyeshadow for MAC's new Bloggers' Obsession collection.

Pure. Genius.

A cosmetics line developed by, not just your customers, but the beauty bloggers who have reviewed your product in the past and surely will in the future. Crayola crayons gave Oprah
her own color, which garnered predictable heaps of publicity, but MAC's marketing brains had to work harder. A lot harder.

Bloggers' Obsessions are on sale starting June 21st, but only where bloggers live: online, (Surely there'll be some samples at BlogHer '11 in August, don'tcha think? More than 2,500 women bloggers in one spot!

(Oprah's Crayola, by the way, is The Color Purple, and
Afrobella's lipglass is All of My Purple Life. Of course, purple is the Goddess' FAVORITE color, too. Crown chakra, y'all!)

The cosmetics world holds special events online and off for beauty bloggers, but I hereby dub this campaign as thinking way outside of that famous box. How might YOU go 'above and beyond' to attract and truly engage the bloggers in your sphere?

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