Archive for January, 2011

children playing with tin can & string telephoneThe BBC have launched a new podcast called the Secret History of Social Media. The first episode of the three-part series aired last Wednesday and was extremely interesting.


Our guide, Rory Cellan-Jones begins with an example of today’s use of social media; a wedding where the bride and groom used Facebook to send the wedding invites and both Facebook and Twitter to keep their guests up to date on all the wedding preparations.


A somewhat extreme example of social media usage, but it is increasingly common for us all to live our lives online; keeping friends regularly updated on the day-to-day activities of our lives, as well as bigger events like weddings, christenings, new jobs and so on.


Most of us think that Social Media really only started in the last 10 years or so, but the BBC takes us all the way back to Berkeley in 1973 where Leopold’s Records set up the world’s first computer based social community, by placing a computer terminal beside the musician’s bulletin board and inviting visitors to the store to post messages. Several more computer terminals appeared in other locations around the San Francisco bay area and locals soon used them to arrange parties, gigs and leave messages for friends.


Not only was the online social community a first, but letting people use a computer was rare, as this was a time where only a handful of people, usually those studying science, had access to a computer.


In the 1980s another online community was born as a result of a helicopter crash.  Dr. Larry Brilliant, who was working for the World Health Organisation, was in Nepal conducting a survey on blindness when a helicopter went down and a replacement part was needed to fix it. Dr. Brilliant had an acoustic modem, given to him by friend Steve Jobs, which he manged to network in and organise the spare part to be donated by Aerospatiale, for Pan Am to fly the part to Kathmandu and for the RAF to transport it overland.


Dr. Brilliant turned the experience into a company, and so the Well (or Whole Earth ‘Lectronic Link) was born, and brought together people who conversed on a miriade of topics.


The Well gained popularity after fans of the Grateful Dead, or Deadheads as they’re known, began using it as a meeting place, and the band responded in kind by posting playlists and announcing gigs.


During the 1989 San Francisco earthquake the Well was used by the community to help identify those in trouble and get help to them – something we often see Twitter used for nowadays.


Online communication expanded with the UK’s Prestel and France’s Minitel giving millions of telephone users access, and in other places the Bulletin Board System gained popularity allowing even more people a taste of online based communities.


And all this happened before the world wide web!


Are you familiar with any other pre-millennium online communities? Please share your stories in the comments section below.


To listen to Wednesday’s podcast and subscribe for the final two installments go to http://www.bbc.co.uk/podcasts/series/shsn.


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sarah ryan linkedin inmapsThis week LinkedIn released a new lab called InMaps. It allows you to visualise your connections, with different groups colour coded. The tagline – “Your professional universe visualised”.

Yesterday I connected my profile with InMaps and received my very own connections visualisation, which you’ll see in the picture. Now I don’t have a huge number of connections (73 – if you want to connect I’m at http://www.linkedin.com/in/sarahcryan – let me know you’re reading the blog), but it was certainly interesting to see the different groups and how they are connected to each other. You can also get a snapshot of a connection by clicking on them and seeing a brief overview of their experience, education, as well as shared connections, at the side of your screen

LinkedIn appear to be pushing InMaps as having 3 main uses:

  1. To better understand your connections and the distinct groups;
  2. To create opportunities for your connections by being more aware of your connections and how they might benefit each other; and
  3. To show you if you are under-represented in a certain area, as a means of encouraging you to make more connections in that field.

That’s all reasonable and I can certainly see how it has those uses, it’s also pretty interesting to see your connections represented in an infographic like this.

However there are a few problems that I’ve come across that might prevent you from using InMaps:

  1. You have to have at least 50 connections;
  2. You have to have at least 75% of your profile completed; and
  3. It doesn’t appear to update.

The first two points might not be a huge issue, as people with less than 50 connections probably don’t use LinkedIn that much and therefore would not necessarily be interested in InMaps.

The last point however, is something of a flaw. I discovered it today as I attempted to redo my own InMaps , and although I know that my husband connected yesterday with a connection of mine, this wasn’t represented. I was given the same visualisation as yesterday, and in fact it was also displaying yesterday’s date.

So I’m wondering, is InMaps only a once off tool? Or else is it just slow to update?

Either way that is definitely a flaw in my book.

I also wish there was a way to edit the groups, or add new colours, as currently any solo connections seem to get lumped together with one colour which is not necessarily accurate.

Maybe they’ll improve the functionality, maybe not. For me it was interesting to see once, but given the lack of updating, it’s not an overly usable feature.

What do you think? Have you tried InMaps yet? Did you like it?

[UPDATE: I have just been made aware that there is a maximum connection number as well, anything over that number and you can’t use InMaps. I’m not sure what the maximum number is but I believe it is over the 500 mark. Check out the discussion on LinkedIn http://lnkd.in/yaydnn%5D

[UPDATE 2: I have been sporadically checking my InMaps to see if it has updated yet. Today, 3rd March, was the first day it had. Over a month after creating it.]

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group of people I think that often it is too easy for us to get caught up in the ‘what can social media do for my business‘ mindframe. We can forget about the social part of social media, and more importantly about our community.

People have written hundreds of thousands of words about how important it is to build an online community to help grow your online presence and boost your business. But what about reaching out to that community? Or taking advantage of the eyes following you to help those in your offline community?

Today I read 2 blog posts which highlighted how social media is being used to reach out to communities, to help others and to bring us closer together.

The first was by Ken Mueller about a terrible fire that happened in his area last Thursday, and the second was by David Meerman Scott about the flooding in Queensland.

I hope you read them both and that they give you ideas about how you can use your social presence to help your own community.

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briefcase of moneyPreviously I talked about advertising on Twitter and celebrities being paid to tweet about certain products. The problem being that advertising on Twitter, versus other platforms, is not always clearly marked as advertising, so there is very much a transparency issue.


Recently the rapper known as 50 cent has upped the stakes and is facing possible investigation for insider trading as a result of several tweets he sent out.


As we all know celebrities can influence many things from fashion trends to charities supported – but I think influencing stocks might be a first.


50 cent’s promotion during a single day sent one company’s stock, HNHI, from .10 to .39 per share. 50 posted several tweets to his followers saying “TVG’s stock went from 5 cent to 10 in one day”, “You can double your money right now. Just get what you can afford” and “Ok ok ok my friends just told me stop tweeting about HNHI so that we can get all the money. Hahaha check it out its the real deal.” (TVG is a subsidiary of H&H Imports Inc. the publically traded company).

50’s followers promptly went out and bought $50 million worth of shares and 50, who had purchased 30 million shares for $750,000 last autumn, netted an estimated $8.7 million as a result of the stock surge.


As you can imagine, there has been a lot of coverage on this for a variety of reasons. Not least because there are very strict guidelines about influencing stock prices and so there has been talk in the media that 50 will be investigated over his actions. However, given that 50 has not sold his stock it is difficult to accuse him of the “buy, lie and sell high” tactics that investigators usually look into. Also, he only said to his followers that he thought it was a great company, and there is no evidence that he doesn’t in fact think that.


However, 50’s lawyers have obviously been on the phone, as not only have the original tweets been deleted from 50’s twitter page, but disclaimers have appeared saying “I own HNHI stock thoughts on it are my opinion. Talk to financial advisor about it.” and “HNHI is the right investment for me it may or may not be right for u! Do ur homework”.


Whether or not 50 did, or did not, do something illegal is a matter for the authorities. However, given the complete lack of transparency, it certainly comes off as a little shady.


But then again, taking financial advice from a celebrity? Seriously?


What do you think? Are 50’s actions shady? Do you approve of celebrity endorsed tweets?


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man with tape over mouthWhile home in Ireland for a few weeks over the holidays (hence the dearth of blog posts) I heard an interesting story involving Twitter.

Gráinne Seoige (@grainne_seoige), a TV presenter, was tweeting to two friends in Irish in the early New Year, and was castigated by a follower for tweeting in a minority language. The follower, @purplepauline, said to Gráinne that it was rude to tweet in Irish in a public conversation as not everyone understood the language and that she should DM her friends if she wished to speak in Irish.


Full conversation as follows:

tweet 1

tweet 3tweet 4tweet 5tweet 6tweet 7tweet 8

tweet 9

(the final comment by @purplepauline is written in Polish, and says “I will not listen to you”).


I found this exchange interesting for a number of reasons.


Firstly, I believe that someone has the right to speak to whomever they wish, in whatever language they wish, via their own Twitter channel, and to be honest I was pretty surprised that someone would object to this.


Secondly, it raises an interesting point of view, if @purplepauline objects to the conversation in Irish taking place within a public forum, does she also object to people conducting ‘private’ conversations in a public forum as well? That is, messages which are just intended for one person and not all followers? Should we not say hello to someone, or comment on something they’ve published or indeed arrange to meet up with someone on Twitter? Should everything that is not intended to be relevant for the general public be kept to DMs? And if it is to be the latter, will we lose something in the process?


Many companies use Twitter as part of their customer service efforts, and some take the conversation to DM, or even offline, when answering customer queries, but many conduct the troubleshooting (as far as is possible) in the public forum. This proves to other followers that they are engaged and care about their customers. But of course, Follower_A’s problems are of little concern to Follower_B (generally), so does that mean we shouldn’t be keeping the conversation public?


Personally, I talk to people on Twitter both publically and via DM, as I think most people do.


What do you think? Should more be kept off the public channels? Or would that result in us losing part of the essence of Twitter?

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