The Twitter-verse

Third Tuesdays & Twitterville Monday September 21, 2009

On Wednesday evening I went to my first Third Tuesday Meet-up for Shel Israel’s Canadian book tour for Twitterville. First off, let us all just ignore the fact that it was a Wednesday and not a Tuesday. Logistically, if the tour revolved around the five or six Third Tuesday meet-ups in major Canadian Cities pour Shel would have been cooped up in Canadian hotele for the next 5-6 months … Anyways, I’m digressing.

As this was my first Third Tuesday, I really had no preconceived expectations for this gathering of Social Media Evangelists. But needless to say I was pleasantly surprised with the event. It was really well run and the amount of knowledge passed around in conversation was a kin to the types of dialogue that one would expect to find at SXSW. Which is a dramatic change from the hair pulling frustration of most networking events in Calgary.

Overall, it was fantastic event and definitely one that I will be trying to attend in foreseeable future. So kudos to the organizers.

Twitterville & Shel Israel

So now on to the meat of the evening – Shel Israel and his new book Twitterville.

I won’t go into immense details about the book, as I will probably do a better review on the corporation’s blog later, but I will give a synopsis of some key points that Shel did touch upon.

As a speaker, Shel is a mesmerizing storyteller. The beauty of his talk (and the 50 pages of Twitterville that I’ve leafed through so far) is Shel’s ability to encapsulate a somewhat complex and difficult concept with a handful of choice words and anecdotes. He has a knack for taking the how, what and why of a story and converting it into a logical reason for his cause in a matter of seconds. Something that was completely evident through his hour and a bit chat on Wednesday night.

During his talk, Shel leveraged some of the meaty anecdotes from Twitterville to engage the audience in a dialogue regarding the use of Twitter as a business tool. From his stories regarding Ford’s struggles with the Ford Ranger club to David Alston’s effect on U-Haul’s customer service policy; Shel was able to make key points about twitter as a business tool, while backing them up with simple and provocative examples. For those familiar with Twitter and its professional capabilities, these few quotes might not resonate as strongly for those who haven’t looked at the service in this light before. But below are some of the more interesting morsels of knowledge that Shel brought up during his talk.

Twitter is the place where people act (online) in the most honest of natures.

Twitter encourages and leverages the cult of generosity.

There is nothing faster in a crisis than Twitter (in reference to the Iranian Elections and attacks in Mumbai).

Things [and moments] happen on twitter, that couldn’t happen in real life.

You very rarey begin a business conversation with business. On twitter, businesses cannot connect with their audience unless they interact on a personal level first.

While these tidbits of knowledge probably would have worked better in a twitter stream during the talk, I’ve found them very refreshing. As someone who works with businesses trying to leverage twitter, sometimes the most difficult task is to justify the benefits of Social Media for businesses. Shel’s tidbits are great food for thought and something that people looking at exploring this new marketing avenue should reflect upon.

As mentioned, I plan on exploring Twitterville a little more indepth at a later date, but in the mean time take these tidbits with you and consider picking up a copy at your local book store or at Amazon.

Categories: The-Twitter-verse, The-Calgary-Vibe,

Andrew W.K. Tuesday July 21, 2009

This post will probably destroy any street cred I had remaining after my last post, but I love Andrew W.K.

I know that’s not really a surprise, but over time I’ve drifted away from this guilty pleasure. But recently I started following him on twitter and seriously anyone who uses there term Party in 60% of his posts deserves your respect. Plus anyone who can play Fox news like this is a golden god in my books.

Categories: The-Music, The-Twitter-verse,

robo.to Monday June 29, 2009

Domo Arigoto, Mr. Robo.to?

Alright, that was bad. I apologize for that.

I’m sure everyone and their dog has made that joke since robo.to went live a couple of months ago. Anyways, a couple of weeks ago a link to robo.to kept popping up around the designer groups I stalk. Like any curious (wannabe-in-the-know) person I had a quick look at it.

Essentially Robo.to is a new product/web application from ParticleBrand a small San Francisco development company. In it’s simpilest form it’s a cool little online video calling card. One that allows users to produce a 4-5 second clip from their web cam and allows them to publish their status to Twitter, Facebook and also other GeoLocational apps. To make that much cooler it also displays your recent photos on Flicker. Which pretty much covers the trifecta of social sites for any online persona at the moment.

So it’s essentially a little online social media hub. You can check out my profile at http://www.robo.to/ctoverdrive or if you’re too lazy to click on anything here’s a little example of a my most recent robo.to update.

It seems pretty gimmicky at the moment, but something about this tells me that it has some strong potential in the future. I could feasibly see it as a landing place for personal use. Instead of passing out business cards with fifteen different contact links and account handles, it seems that one simple robo.to link will allow people to find all the info they need about you.

Either way, give robo.to a whirl.

Categories: The-Blogosphere, The-Twitter-verse,

Twitter and the Cyber War in Tehran Wednesday June 17, 2009

So this will probably get me banned in Iran, but I guess I’ll have to just accept that my one reader in Iran won’t be able to see my Random Thoughts ever again… oh well.

But being a Twitter Advocate, I can’t just let the recent events in Iran pass without some commentary. If you haven’t been paying attention here’s a dirty synopsis;

The Dirty c.t.o Synopsis

So, last week there was an election in Iran.

Then to nobody’s surprise Mahmoud Ahmadinejad won. At this point most of the world just looked away, because really was it a surprise that Ahmadinejad won? Really? What reason would there be to question it? Dictator wins his own election. Ooo the shock.

But then a funny thing happened. The young people of Iran and some election watchdogs started questioning the irregularities in the results. People started protesting peacefully (which goes against everything Western Society knows of the locked down Iranian society). Then absolute chaos ensues. Protesters were met with gun fire. And all of a sudden, the demonstrating citizens of Iran started organizing themselves against the government using … dah, dah, dana – Twitter. (and to a lesser extent Facebook … but most people got distracted by the Quizzes – I’m kidding)

Suddenly, the hashtag #iranelection became a trending topic. People in the Western world started opening up proxy id’s to allow organizers to by-pass the Iranian blockades of twitter. Members of the twitterverse started adjusting their time zones and home locations to try and confuse the Iranian government about the number of users on Twitter in Tehran. (Albeit it’s still up in the air if that’s even useful) There was a call to arms for hackers to attack the Iranian government web site. The U.S. state department advised Twitter to reschedule an important maintenance to allow open communication between the protesters. The Iranian government started setting up fake twitter accounts to confuse citizens and blame it on Western Society. The Twitterverse started lashing out at CNN and the BBC for ignoring the chaos in Iran … All of this spurred on by that little 140 Character application we all like to make fun of.

Yes, there is far more to this story then I just wrote about and for those looking for a informed spin on the political connotations, it would be better to search the net. Because events in Iran are developing at a rate that very few people can comprehend. From a distance it’s all very surreal … surreal like a crazy game of Shadowrun) (I know, i know my nerd is now showing).

Without question it is an interesting time for this country.

So What Does This Mean For Twitter?

Not to take away from the events in Iran, but it also happens to be an important moment in the social media phenom’s short life span. (As mentioned by Clay Shirky)

For a while now, I’ve always believed that the biggest misconception about Twitter has been the opening question on the main page – The question of What Are You Doing?

Misleading, because the true power of the platform has not been about answering that question, but about the ability to broadcast 140 characters of free content to anyone willing to listen.

But the question on the front page has always detracted from Twitter’s real power. Most people can’t get past the initial question. To most, what I’m doing, literally means eating or sleeping. But people in Tehran, aren’t using Twitter to answer that question with starting a revolution or tossing Molotov cocktails.

To these people the Twitter question has no application to their usage. Twitter has become 140 characters of open communication and a tool that has become very critical to events there.

The latest series of events will probably do more to clean Twitter’s stigma left by Oprah and Mr. Demi Moore, than good old time would have. As Shirky mentions, this could be the tipping point where people start ignoring the question What Are You Doing and understanding the platform a bit more … eventually taking it a bit more seriously.

How do I find out More?

For more information about the actual situation in Iran, here’s a few links that will provide some real information.

1) The Boing Boing – CyberWar Guide For Iran

2) TED Talk: Clay Shirky on Twitter & Iran (via DuncanKinney)

3) Iran Election, Uprising Tracked On Twitter As Government Censors Media

4) The Big Picture: Photos From Iran’s Disputed Election (again via. DuncanKinney)

Categories: The-Twitter-verse, The-World, Bumbershoot 2008, The Blogosphere

Encouraging Media Accessibility With Twitter Thursday April 30, 2009

So you’re all probably pretty happy that it’s been a good solid week since I mentioned Twitter on the ol’overdrive. Well, the breaks over!

A couple of weeks ago the social media beast known as Twitter reached the point of no return in terms of popularity growth as Overlord Oprah, Ashton Kutcher, and CNN catapulted twitter into the mainstream consciousness. Because of which twitter’s growth is almost unstoppable now and could reach 50 million people by the summer 2009. With that amount of growth, there is going to be a flood of new users desperately trying to take advantage of the service. Some will miss the boat completely, but some will use twitter to actually become more accessible.

Let me use the local Calgary Media as an example.

Media Accessibility on Twitter

One of the trends emerging with the growth of Twitter is the new found level of accessibility between the audience and some members of the media (Yes, I’m talking some and not all members of the media).

As a trend, it seems that the earliest media adopters of twitter, the reporters and news anchors and journalists, are benefiting by using the application to interact with their audience at a more intimate level. Over the past two months, it has become quite common in the Calgary Twitter realm (Sorry, I don’t have a better way to describe it) to see members of CTV, Metro, FFWD and the CBC communicating openly with the Calgary (#yyc) community. Followers of local media members are engaging in conversations with the media on a whole new open level. Whether it is casual conversation or reporters collecting eye witness accounts or authors and radio personalities spurring a rally for the CBC; the relationship between the media and the community seems to be exploring a new intimate ground on twitter.

So What’s Different Now?

I’m sure there has always been dozen of streams for the local media and the Calgary community to interact. I’m also sure that the media has always tried to be as open as possible, it might just be me, but there has always been a perceived aura of inaccessibility when it comes to the community engaging the media.

But all of sudden it seems to be changing? And why now? I’m just guessing, but I see three key factors, all of which seem to be enhanced by twitter’s platform.

1. Breakdown of Formal Communication Barriers It would be foolish to pretend that communication with members of the local media were not filtered in the past. Letters to the editor and emails to the news team have always had to go through some filtering process.

But now the members of the media that are choosing to be accessible on twitter, are moving against that grain. Communication is free and open. There is no filtration being applied between tweets and the aura of inaccessibility appears to be breaking down. Anyone can respond to a tweet from any member of the local media on twitter. Sure they may not care to read it, but it is instant and it is visible to to the world, which is far more gratifying than mailing off a letter to the editor.

2. Competitive Forces in the Media Industry The news industry has always been a competitive one, but now you add in the uncertainty that’s swirling around and you bet it’s going to be even more cut-throat.

With each local media outfit scrambling to break stories faster and build loyalties with its audience; the media appears to be reaching out to get feedback and reactions at a faster pace. What better way to communicate and find out about the latest news then with an instantaneous tool like twitter.

Another Example of the media connecting with The community

Because of it’s instantaneous nature, twitter is encouraging the members of the media to become more engaging and to build a trusted repertoire with the local community. Which becomes a win-win for both parties. The media receives feedback and information at a faster rate and the community feels involved with the story.

3. Twitter’s Sense of Openness and Engagement Now this might change as more people join, but at the current moment Twitter has an innocent sense of openness and engagement. People make comments, some people read them, some people interrupt with their own two cents and some would rather just retweet the crap out of everything that goes through their window. Either way, there is odd sense of free engagement flowing around. It’s like a nerdy utopian love-in.

So when members of the media start tweeting or posting their comments, it provides their followers (and subsequently members of the community) with a bit more insight and a bit of chance to interact. Which helps to break down the aura of inaccessibility that used to shroud members of the media. Due to the nature of twitter it is okay to pop in with your own comments or respond to people’s insight.

The New Relationship?

While this all seems very rosy and idealistic at the moment, it can take a turn for the worse. Just ask writer/director Kevin Smith (NSFW link), but in the mean time I encourage people to take part in the evolving relationship between members of the media and their local communities on Twitter.

And to all the media members embracing Twitter, congratulations and thank you for your input.

Categories: The-Twitter-verse, The-World, The Calgary Vibe, The Canada Vibe

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