Tag Archives: politics

New Tricks for Facebook

29 Apr

Facebook can’t exactly be called an old dog (at 7 years and counting its younger than many of man’s best friends) but more and more talk has been conspiring about new uses for the social networking site. The flexibility of communication available on the software platform allow facebook to do many more things then its core functions. Applications are a given part of facebook, many a high school student or grandmother spend hours playing mafia wars or developing a virtual world on farmville. The key to a new trick is when you take the existing elements available and find totally new uses for it. In recent months a few interested proposals for new tricks for facebook have arisen.

Agile Management

There are many different styles of project management but my personal favorite is the agile way. Finding the perfect piece of software to handle agile project management is an ongoing mission of mine (right now I’m pretty happy with Assembla). I was excited to see someone suggest that facebook groups be used as a way of managing an agile project. Sure there are issues like code repositories (if you’re developing software) but for many projects facebook could be just as viable as basecamp.

News Reporting

Journalism is no longer a fringe use of facebook. The rise of fan pages like that of NPR’s have married the two nicely. The use of facebook as a news source is still a little less set in stone. Facebook, much like twitter, is crowd sourcing at its finest. Everyone publishes information about an event/story and then others connect to that item comment on it and share their perspectives. With some search skills and third party tools facebook has a lot of potential for journalists.


The 2008 Obama campaign reached out to young voters like never before. The use of facebook and social media at large was a significant change from prior campaigns and has now come to be accepted as a necessity for all politicians. Facebook allows politicians to connect with individuals in ways that are time sensitive, subject relevant and accountable. A great example of merging social media and politics is the fan page of Oakland Mayor, Jean Quan. Her facebook presence promoted fans to share relevant information about the issues prior to election and now that she’s mayor it serves as a sounding board for the community. Kind of like a 24/7 town hall meeting.


For More Than Just Tech

17 Mar

Based on the high use within the tech industry many have come to see LinkedIn as a social network of professionals and business people but mostly as a place for business people to find and network with technical job seekers. The article LinkedIn for Journalists shows that this just isn’t so.

Its easy to envision how LinkedIn can be used by recruiters and even by prospective employers but not so much for journalists. Recruiters see LinkedIn as a great tool because they can find anyone, in almost any industry and select for specific experiences and skills, without ever having to make a phone call or ask for a resume. Employers see it as an asset because it takes care of the problem of asking for references and vetting the histories and connections of possible employees. As it turns out these LinkedIn functions are the same that are used by journalists.

LinkedIn for journalists come down to two main topics, transparency and research.


With the rise of the internet as a source of data, one of the biggest issues in journalism is ensuring that you’re information is real. While LinkedIn is still venerable to falsification of information the incentive to provide factual information for business reasons is high. The connection to other professionals (not necessarily friends) is also measure towards ensuring info can be backed up and verified by largely reliable third parties.


What could be better for researching issues and how they relate to people than a large, searchable database of people related to industries and how the work that they did (all filled with keywords)? For a journalist trying to track down leads for a story this LinkedIn is an invaluable resource. Facebook may have a patent on social searching but LinkedIn is the original social search engine for business professionals.

Its true that nothing can replace the hard work of gathering information and looking at it in new ways until all the pieces fit together but LinkedIn does a pretty nice job of making all of that easier. Now if it had a tool to mind-map all of the data you want to save… that would be great.

Journalism or Invasion of Privacy?

1 Mar

An interesting point was presented on NPR today regarding the role of social media sharing, the arts and privacy.

Patti LuPone was speaking about her broadway career on Form when a listener asked about her 2009 reaction to an audience member using flash photography during a stage presentation of “Gypsy.” LuPone’s response gave a very new perspective to me on the role that social media has in privacy and the arts. In short, she explained that while the flash is a very distracting thing to both audience and performer that isn’t the main annoyance. The issue is really in the invasion that social media has made into the theater and the demystification of a sacred place.

Its been a long time since I’ve attended a show of any sort where I wasn’t subjected to the glow another audience member’s LCD screen or even worse the persistent buzz created by text messages on vibrate notification (just because it doesn’t ring doesn’t mean its silent). I understand the general annoyance that comes along with our increased use of technology but until this forum, I had never thought about the implication it had for the sacredness and privacy that a performance is supposed to hold.

The arts are a special subset of our day to day life, they are the closest thing that we as adults have to magic and wonderment. When the auditorium doors close there is an unstated (and in some theaters well stated) understanding that while inside this space you are separate from the rest of the world. Bringing social media into that space is not sharing your experience with the world, rather its destroying the sacred privacy that is intended only for those inside the doors.

Many arguments can be made for need to share the arts but none of them support the use of audience created digital media. While in many situations having a smart-phone can make you into an instant social media journalist, the theater is one place where real time updates need to be left at the door.

The full broadcast of forum can be found here: http://www.kqed.org/a/forum/R201103011000

Social Media as a Tool for Collaboration

25 Feb

With the rise in social media technologies over recent years there has been a constant question in place, “how will social media change the world.” While many people propose that the change has to do with mass distribution of information I argue that while increased access to and distribution of information world wide is an amazing and earth-altering advance in technology it may not be the biggest thing that social media has to offer us.

In the midst of the great discussions over the role of social media outlets, like twitter, during the then eminent revolution of Egypt a thought occurred to me… it then became a tweet.

RT @breannadrew : Does the use of #twitter in north african revolutions show promise of twitter as a tool for political collaboration

The idea that twitter and other social media tools could do more than just inform people but could truly connect people around topics provides long-term promise for the platform and differentiates it from all previous methods of information dissemination.

What was initially most off-putting to me about twitter was the idea that all day long large groups of people go about their day and periodically publish to the world short bits and pieces of their lives. This behavior seemed, in short, useless. Aside from my mother, very few people are deeply interested in my daily musings and activities. The functionality of twitter increases slightly as a tool to publish information about broader topics, but in this manner is used mostly for posting links – not purely tweets. But the holy grail of twitter use comes as a tool for social collaboration.

Yes, oftentimes input comes in forms that are greater than 160 characters but more often it doesn’t. After a month of waiting, observing and stewing over the possibilities that twitter may hold for collaborative tool it all became clear. Low and behold @KQEDnews confirmed my suspicions that the next big thing in social media will be collaboration.

@KQEDnews KQED News

#BaySnOMG is phenomenal! Who says you need a bunch of meetings to produce a collaborative media project??? @TheBayCitizen @CCTimes
Three news agencies all working together to develop a common goal, and doing it in segments of less than 160 characters. Now I’ll admit that developing a hash tag for a possible weather event might not be the most significant collaboration ever but its proof that it can be done. And further, the goal was to aid the most effective dissemination of bay area, snow related information.