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Archive for the ‘technology’ Category

twitter bird

by shawncampbell on Flickr

How are you reading this blog? Did you find it on Twitter? Perhaps we’re Facebook Friends and you saw it there. Chances are it’s one of these two since Facebook and Twitter provide the majority of the visits to this site. As you also getting your news through Facebook and Twitter?

Twitter has been touted as the RSS Feed replacement on CNet’s Webware and Facebook is encouraging users to use its services as their own personal newswire, according to this article on ReadWriteWeb. Are these good trends?

Social Media Is Filtered

Sure, you could be like Don Reisinger, the author of the Webware article, and follow everyone who follows you on Twitter, but while a broader slice of the world than just those who you are personally interested, it’s still a filter placed by the population. If you don’t follow back everyone who follows you, which I do not, then your Twitter feed is filtered expressly by your choices. This also applies to Facebook. You can Like news organizations on Facebook and get your news that way. You could also Follow them on Twitter, but chances are, you are still getting at least some of your news through your friends. They are sharing articles which you then read.

the great wall of china

by Francisco Diez on Flickr

This filtering is a double-edged sword. It can isolate you. Social filtering is why I do not hear much news out of China. I’m not following anyone who is either in China or Tweets about it. But social filtering also keeps you from being bored with what news does find its way in front of you. You know you’ll like what you see, or at least be interested in the topic. Filtering makes discovering a new topic difficult. After all, even if you are following the actual news outlet, if you are following its Sports section, you still won’t hear much about China.

Social Media Is Easy

At the same time, it also makes getting your news really easy. You just visit the websites you were visiting anyway and the news is pushed out to you. Little, or no, effort on your part. The most you might have to do is go to your “News” List on Facebook to see what the BBC has put out recently. It’s a few clicks and you’re never leaving the party on Facebook. You can still Facebook Chat with your friends.

This is a good thing for society, I think. As well as making news more easily accessible, it makes it easier to discuss it. This encourages debate, both amongst the social media community as a whole and amongst friends.

Social Media Makes It Easy to Miss Things

farm ville opening screne

by tarikgore1 on Flickr

But there are still problems. Let’s assume that you are being very good and following respected news outlets on Twitter and Facebook. It’s real time. As Reisinger said, sometimes the Tweets go up even before the RSS article is released. So you’ll have to be on Facebook and Twitter constantly, or you might miss something. Now, many people are. They can’t stand to be away from Facebook for one second or their Farmville plants might die, but I’m not. I like movies. That’s roughly two hours away from Facebook I spend a day (when I can fit it in). I jog. That’s a half hour a day away from Twitter. My God, the news I’m missing!

I Don’t Use Social Media for My News

google reader snippet

by Search Engine People Blog on Flickr

Of course, I do keep an ear to the ground in social media to pick up on any new trends, but I use a Feed Reader as my main way to catch my news. Reisinger doesn’t like Feed Readers. They aren’t fast enough for him. If you want your news before anyone else has it, then yes, social media is probably more your speed. However when it is important not to miss anything, as with professional information, you might want to use a Feed Reader. If you are okay with missing information occasionally, then social media might be okay for you.

I need to have reliable, accurate, and consistent news for my profession, so I don’t rely on Social Media to get my news. There is always the option of a mix, or doing as Reisinger suggests and actually visiting the news outlet’s Twitter feed (or Facebook Page) to catch up on the missed items. I’m too lazy for that.

Feed Readers do have drawbacks. They aren’t very social and they can be a bit confusing. That’s why Mashable posted HOW TO: Get the Most out of Google Reader. Even the RSS icon and sign up process can be confusing. “Fan this Page to get news” is a much simpler call to action. It’s a news version of Amazon’s one-click purchase.

Other News Sources Do Exist

This post does make it seem like there is an either or choice between Feed Readers and Social Media, but there are other choices. How about those old favorites, bookmarks? Actually visiting a news website is one choice. Social magazines like Flipboard that mix social and feed information are another option. Even just Google searching interesting events and topics can yield plenty of useful information.

I just tend to use my Google Reader plus a dose of filtered social media shares. How do you get your news?

*This post was written as part of an assignment for my

Masters in Digital Marketing from Hult International Business School,

but since the topic was interesting, I decided to use it for this blog.

Read the rest of this entry »


Yes, you are that important. Well, at least you in aggregate. Just having the tools available to change the world won’t do much if the behaviors and habits aren’t in place to use them. Today’s content consumer not only has the tools but the behaviors to shape how digital media consumption and delivery will work in the years to come.

The two main behaviors that are affecting digital media’s place in our world are sharing and shopping around.

mail box with flowers

by kla4067 on Flickr

We Share Everything

We are share-happy, passing on restaurant reviews, news articles, comments on current events, and their our own insights with equal enthusiasm. I’d guess that sharing is on the rise and only going to get bigger.

Sharing has already had a tangible effect on the way digital media is consumed and used. Josh Catone tells of how sharing launched the Minneapolis/St Paul television station WCCO into celebrity. The station broke the news of a star NFL quarterback signing on with the Vikings with a Twitter post, before it even got the article up on the website. That day “WCCO” became a trending topic on Twitter. This only happens when people ReTweet or mention a subject a lot, thus sharing it. This fame helped the station to gain notoriety and build a reputation amongst Vikings fans, something important in the battle for attention. Clay Shirky, in his book Here Comes Everybody gives another example of the power of sharing: how the Boston Globe in 2002 published a string of articles about a Catholic priest’s pedophilia and forced the Catholic Church to reform. Of course, it wasn’t actually the Boston Globe. It was the hundreds of people it reached via sharing. Not everyone in Boston would care about this story. But Catholics around the world sure would, and did. Thanks to sharing and new forms of communication, people beyond the circulation boundaries of the Globe were able to communicate and organize themselves, spreading the news as they did so and giving the Globe a whole new audience to work with.

shopping bags held by a girl

by andrewarchy on Flickr

We Like to Shop Around for News Sources

The days of getting all your news from your local morning paper are long gone. People no longer have to sift through a bunch of filler to find the articles they want to read. Instead they are having that done automatically with news aggregators or a simple Google search.

This means that people are now getting their news from a variety of different sources. Sports from Yahoo, Politics from MSNBC, and society news from a list of cool bloggers. People are not going directly to websites anymore, they are going to RSS readers, link aggregators and social networks like Twitter. The articles can be thought of separately from the actual publisher because the reader isn’t going to that publisher, she is simply going to a cool story hosted on that publisher’s website. From there, the publisher may be able to rout the reader to something new on their website, but maybe not. As Clay Shirky points out in this talk, websites don’t have a front page because each page is a front page with the ability to grab and keep a reader’s attention. But because people are browsing multiple sources for stories rather than just a single newspaper, it is hard to get the consumer to click on the link and go to the website. The competition for that click is tougher because all the news sources are lined up next to each other with nothing but a brand name, short description, and a headline to work with. And worse, the newspapers don’t know who the potential readers are because much browsing is done on aggregator websites. It’s hard to target specific demographics without knowing who you are talking to.

The Future Will Look…

… different. My crystal ball gets bad reception, so I can’t predict how publishing will look in a few years, or even tomorrow. But, however it looks it will be shaped to accommodate sharing and aggregated browsing. I like to think that both sharing and aggregated browsing will meld, kind of like Digg or even StumbleUpon. It may even become a layer to a social networking site.

What do you think?

*This post was written as part of an assignment for my

Masters in Digital Marketing from Hult International Business School,

but since the topic was interesting, I decided to use it for this blog.

Image of three coffee mugs that playfully make a sheep

by Little Hippo on Flickr

Many people have enjoyed the habit of waking up in the morning, grabbing the morning paper, settling down with coffee and cereal, and learning what happened to the world since the day before. I used to watch my mother go through this ritual daily. I never did.

The question isn’t how do we get young people to read newspapers. The question is – is it even possible to save the traditional newspaper or magazine?

Unfortunately, I don’t think it is. Traditional print media, according to Clay Shirky in his article Newspapers and Thinking the Unthinkable, relied on the fact that printing presses are expensive, thus limiting competition and creating positive returns to scale. The press is no longer expensive. It’s pretty dang cheap. It’s the Internet. As I’ve stated elsewhere on this blog, I’m using free Internet (well, included in my rent), and the free version of WordPress. Competition has just boomed, but the costs for traditional printing remain the same.

Beyond simple infrastructure, the institutional organization used by traditional print media is being challenged by a more fluid and agile structure – one without managers. As Shirky described in his book Here Comes Everybody, businesses and organizations pay a price to be so organized. So they can’t cover everything, like special interest pieces or all the little town hall meetings that might, though probably not, blow up into a big story. Considering the cost of covering such stories, the returns simply aren’t there. However, in this new digitized world there are free or cheap tools that allow groups to organize themselves, such as wikis or simply shared blogs and e-mail, without having a concentrated managerial layer. When the structural framework is digitized to this degree, the transaction costs are lower, allowing these new publishers to tackle more niche subjects – and reap the benefits traditional publishers can’t touch.

The way news is presented when it is digital is not analogous to a newspaper, either. Digital news is often accessed through news aggregators, who categorize based on subjects or categories. News is no longer bundled with a bunch of different topics, like finance and movies, sold to the same consumer, who may only want one. Putting all types of stories in a single paper makes sense when you have to balance printing costs. But it makes no sense when data is digital. People just switch to a source perceived as better for that type of news or pull it straight off of news aggregators.

Image of an iPad open to a blog post

by Yutaka Tsutano on Flickr

Finally, people approach digital content differently from printed content. They want it cheaper. Susan Currie Sivek pointed out that a study by the Reynolds Journalism Institute found that though users thought that reading magazine apps on their iPads was about the same as reading the traditional print versions or going to their computers, they would be more likely to purchase these apps if the prices were lower than the print version prices. People simply think digital material should be cheaper. The news institutions have to meet these price points or deal with more piracy.

The traditional printing industry simply can’t survive in a world where data is digital, both the institutional and the articles. The digital world simply has very little resemblance to the traditional marketplace they were created to serve. This is not to say the institutions can’t adapt to this new world, but they won’t look the same as they do now.

*This post was written as part of an assignment for my

Masters in Digital Marketing from Hult International Business School,

but since the topic was interesting, I decided to use it for this blog.

Image of a newspaper vending machine
by laffy4k on Flickr

We all know that traditional media, particularly print, is looking rather sickly. I won’t list all the examples. I’m sure you know a few.

Rather, I want to list the reasons. I want to ask the question: “What disrupted the traditional media system and made it go bonkers?” Here are five digital disruptions that helped end the world of print media that we knew and (sometimes) loved.

  1. Sharing Because we can now share just about anything at the click of a button, the old model of paying for content went out the window. Of course some companies have taken to suing the people who do the sharing, calling it piracy, but they can’t sue enough people to persuade all the others to stop doing it. This was true in the beginning when sharing was via e-mail, and it’s doubly true now that sharing has become an integral part of our culture. In fact, Susan Currie Sivek describes how important sharing is to us. Apparently, when the new iPad magazine apps started coming out, one of the biggest complaints was that there was no easy way to share content. Allowing for sharing content may even be one of the reasons Flipboard had such an incredibly strong lunch. Not only did they let users share cool articles, they showcased the articles side-by-side with social commentary. When they launched they had to struggle to keep their servers up. The best worst case scenario.
  2. Aggregators And when people share, they often put it where lots of others can see it, on sites like Delicious and Digg. Or even certain Twitter feeds. Unfortunately for publishers, these aggregators allow people to skim headlines, get the gist of the news, and never actually visit the website. The publishers can’t claim these users for advertisers. They are, in a sense, wasted eyeballs. More than that, though, aggregators also throw the new breadth of competition into light. Suddenly users not only have a general idea of what the leading stories in different newspapers are, they see all sorts of topical stories lined up side-by-side. Competition goes from vague to very tangible as the story description or the headline either gets a reader or allows the other guy to get it.
  3. Lower Entry BarriersOf course, there is also more competition. Publishers used to have a monopoly on publishing because it cost a lot of money to run a printing press. Not any more. Heck, I’m publishing
    Stack of hundred dollar bills
    by AMagill on Flickr

    this right now and, as you may have noticed, I’m using the free version of WordPress. All I have to do is have Internet, and the local Library offers that for free, too. Suddenly, competition is potentially everyone with Internet access, which is not based on monetary investment, which the publishing companies still have to pay. And yes, much of what amateurs post is useless (except my posts, of course), but amateurs can also be a relevant news source, helping people stay up to date on hurricanes or spread political news.

  4. Advertiser Alternatives These new amateur publishers provide advertisers a host of new opportunities, from sponsored blogs posts and product placement to simply new places to stick ads. Advertisers also have the ability to post their own worthwhile content, like Kodak’s A Thousand Words. They can make games, post advertising to Facebook, even be on Facebook. Perhaps we are seeing the real value of advertising for the first time, as Clay Shirky suggests in this talk; advertisers pay a pittance to put an ad online versus what they pay to get one in a newspaper or magazine. What’s more, newspaper ads are not very targeted since the publications themselves are made to appeal to a very diverse group. Who would pay a premium for that when so many alternatives are available?
  5. Instantaneous The last major disruption is based on time. Suddenly the speed of everything is heightened. If a publisher wants to break a story, it has to move fast. Josh Catone gives us a great example of speedy news-breaking. TV station WCCO based out of Minneapolis/St. Paul broke the story of NFL star quarterback Mark Rosen’s move to the Minnesota Vikings on Twitter, even before they got an article up on their website. Because of this quick thinking, WCCO was able to triple their website audience and become a trending topic on Twitter. If a blogger had broken that story first, these gains would never have happened, but how many institutions do you know that can move that fast? The ability for news to fly on the internet is a major disruption to the way publishing has traditionally been done, including rigorous fact-checking.


So, do you have any other disruptions that digital has brought to the press media world? Share them in the comments!

*This post was written as part of an assignment for my

Masters in Digital Marketing from Hult International Business School,

but since the topic was interesting, I decided to use it for this blog.



Image of a players avatar in Farmville

by RJ Bailey on Flickr

I used to play Restaurant City. I used to play a lot. For a while 12 hours a day. Of course I didn’t spend 12 hours sitting in front of my computer on Facebook. School, work, eating, bathing and all that. This is not a post about gamer addiction and hygiene problems.

So wait. How could I play the game 12 hours a day and yet have a life? This is actually more common then you’d think. Players tell a game “build a bridge,” “open my bakery,” “fight that enemy,” “grow a crop.” These actions take time, so while they are going on, the players go off and live their lives. This is part of why the games are “casual.” Players don’t have to constantly be there and devote all their attention to it in order to play. Don’t try this while playing World of Warcraft. You’ll spend the whole time wondering why you’re dead.

But this “casual” is a lie. The games are no less involving and no less addictive. That’s why people will always be there to water their Farmville crops. I once heard it suggested that if Zynga wanted to destroy productivity, they would change the watering cycle to once every 15 minutes. I was always right back on Restaurant City at the right time to get my bonus cash. We get rewarded for keeping our eyes on the clock and thinking about the game throughout the day.

And that’s why “ghost playing” is deceiving. It makes it seem like you can have fun and advance in the game without giving up your life, but, honestly, I prefer World of Warcraft. At least WoW is honest. Facebook games take over your life more subtly.

Our world is becoming game-ified. Games are occupying more of our time, even when we think we’re not playing. How do you think this will affect society? Multitasking is now much more than just what students do while surfing the net in class. It’s a part of work, and now fun.

Posted with WordPress for BlackBerry.

A motivational poster saying "Google Before You Tweet is the New Think Before You Speak"

My boyfriend sent me this link a few days ago. I wish I had checked it out sooner. As far as I can tell it was originally posted here, though it was sent to me via

This poster is reminiscent of an SAT analogies question. Google before you _______: Think before you Speak. But is this true? Is Googling really the new thinking? Is Tweeting the new speaking? Besides the obvious change from a non-digital form of the action, we’ve replaced thinking and speaking with brand names. As much as I love Google and Twitter, they are companies. Thinking and speaking are my own creation, yes, defined by a word, but at least I don’t have to follow it with a (r) or ™ sign. Or pay royalties. But this might just be a mountain out of a mole-hill. After all, when I sneeze, I ask for a Kleenex.

There is the obvious applicability to personal branding. Tweeting is very public, like many forms of speaking, particularly when gabbing with the rumor-spreaders at work. Rumor-spreaders probably love Twitter, too, since it makes it easier to share the gossip. Only unlike just thinking before you speak, we now have lots of tools to be sure that not only is the information we’re sharing accurate, it is applicable. For instance, before posting this blog, I Googled the phrase “Google before you Tweet” and discovered that most of the mentions of this poster on the first few pages of results are just that, an image of the poster with little or no comment or analytical response.

So yes, please Google your topic before you Tweet about it. Be sure that you don’t jump into the middle of a conversation without knowing the details. It helps to prevent you from looking the fool. But please remember that Googling is not thinking. Googling happens on your computer; thinking happens in your brain. Both are useful.

A bank of computers

by izzymunchted

Lately Facebook came under fire for changing privacy settings and sharing user data with companies. There is even a new social network in the wings, Diaspora, ready to go head-to-head with Facebook over privacy and user-data control. This points to more than just Facebook messing up, however. This is a chronic issue with social networking. We’re putting our entire lives online. I like to tell my friends that their lovely privacy controls won’t keep out the FBI. They won’t even keep out a dedicated hacker. Witness the Twitter hacker in France getting in to President Obama’s Twitter profile (he got off light, by the way).

So how do you protect yourself? Obviously I’m not going to advise that you quit social media. But I am going to suggest that you watch what you put online very carefully. Let’s start with general tactics, and if I get a good response to this post I’ll go more in depth with each popular social network.

  1. Know what you are putting online and be consistent. For instance, don’t go around announcing your middle name if your middle name is a security question for your bank. Same thing for the name of your pets, a common security question.
  2. Use Strong Passwords. Most people don’t do this, so here’s an easy way to have a strong password that you won’t even have to remember. Go here (disclaimer, this is my father’s website).
  3. Don’t Click on Things You Don’t Know. Be very aware of what you click on and have a good anti-virus. Even messages from within Facebook can have a virus or cookie attached.
  4. Don’t be a Phish. Phishing scams are scams where someone attempts to get you to give them your passwords, generally by pretending to be a company you are working with. For example, if you receive an e-mail that seems to be your bank asking for your log in information, that’s a Phishing scam. But it’s not just financial institutions. Phishers pose as social media sites, too.
  5. Don’t Broadcast Your Location Constantly. Geolocation games are fun. I play Foursqure. But I watch who I make my friend in the app very carefully, and I don’t broadcast where I am constantly. I don’t check in to home or work, so my regular habits are a secret. This includes Tweeting or posting Facebook updates about where you are, not just using geolocation services. Consider this: burglaries happen frequently during the day, when the home owners are at work.
  6. Know Your Friends. How well do you know all your Facebook Friends? Use lists. Not only is this good for your personal branding, but it will help you maintain your privacy.
  7. Don’t Publish Your Address or Phone Number. I always wondered how the spammers got my phone number. Turns out I had it on my Facebook Profile. It could have easily been on my blog, too, if I hadn’t edited my resume. Be mindful of what you copy/paste.
  8. There Are No Take-Backs. Once it’s out there, it’s out there. There’s a digital log of everything posted anywhere on the internet. So think
    Cat on a Computer

    by dougwoods

    about everything you postbefore pressing that Send button.

  9. You Are Talking to a Cat. Online, no one knows you’re a cat. We warn children that their chatting buddies may not be other kids but rather creeps out to get them. Just because you’re chatting with someone who seems like a professional contact doesn’t mean she is. She could be a he out to scam you (or worse). Or she could be a cat.
  10. Be Yourself. Odd as it sounds, this is a safety tip. Don’t do online what you wouldn’t do in person. Great for personal branding and helps keep your reputation out of the gutter. For example, if you generally wouldn’t flaunt your body, don’t put sexy pictures online. Those pictures are asking for attention you really don’t want, even if your friends think those pictures are fun and have them up to. Do you want a creepo after you?

Do you have any great tips? How do you stay safe online?

*Great tips and inspiration from: Social Media Explorer and the Federal Trade Commission

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Who Am I?

I am a Digital Native who is trying to puzzle out what exactly that means. I share my thoughts on social media, digital business models, and PR here on this blog.

I am currently getting my Masters in Digital Marketing from Hult International Business School, having gotten my B.S. in Marketing from Arizona State University. Everything is on track and I am making headway towards my dream: World Domination... or being a productive, helpful citizen and marketer. Whichever comes first.

Don't hesitate to get in touch. I Tweet daily at @KateDavids and also have a science fiction and fantasy blog ( and Twitter (@Masked_Geek).

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