Tag Archives: smart phone

Family Parties: 2.0

13 Mar

Aside from the now outdated use of the phrase 2.0 to describe anything inovative, today was a wonderful use of social media and technology to bring a 3 year old’s birthday party to a whole new level of family interactions.

After moving 3000 miles across the country to the Bay Area everyone in the family knew that holidays and celebrations would be a little bit different. It just wasn’t logistically possible for every family member in the same location for each and every persons birthday and the borderline excessive number of holidays we have. For 7 years now we have been experimenting with different methods of sharing these special occaisions and I think today we finally got it right.

From the get-go this was a tech-savvy event. Evites were used instead of the traditional mail method, while this was wonderfully efficient and a great way to provide a sense of inclusion to family members that I know wouldn’t be able to make it, there are downsides as well. Many people don’t check email as frequently as some of us do and by the time they see the Evite its just one more suspect message in the sea of inbox spam. Also, I realized there are a number of people I wanted to invite that I don’t communicate with by email (or even facebook). People like neighbors and a couple of elderly relatives had to be invited by phone. Next time I’ll opt for a hybrid Evite/Mail Invite option.

The key to the party inclusion came with google video chat. A quick positioning of a laptop and click of the icon connected the party in California with the grandparents in Indiana. We opted to leave the camera rolling for the whole event which turned out to be great fun. Every so often someone had a quick conversation with the camera and then went about their business again, much like a real party – just in two locations.

The final touch of tech on this party was the wrap-up.  When all was said and done numerous pictures were ready to be shared with family, friends and other parents (everyone wants pics of their kids). Pics went from the phone up to facebook and were ready to be shared within 15min of the party ending. This led to a great amount of discussion from everyone that was at the party as well as all the family and friends who were unable to make it.

So maybe a few more improvements could be made but all in all this was the best social media – interactive – video cast, kids party any of us had experienced yet. For next year… only the imagination limits the possibilities.


IRL Etiquette for Social Media

11 Mar

Social media has become a staple in the lives of most Americans. With the rise of smart-phones it no longer is the domain of the anti-social computer geek and has entered into the realm of everyone – everywhere. There are many benefits that come along with having social media accessible to us all the time but one BIG annoyance that it brings.

One of the biggest complaints that comes from both users of social media and those that live without it is the use of social media in public settings. No one minds when you’re a lonely teen sitting in your bedroom spending hours on end texting but there is a huge amount of hatred towards this behavior coming from an adult that’s at a dinner party. I myself have often had a reaction of annoyance at friends, family and co-workers that sit down to a brunch and pull out their cell phone – it has been so much a distraction that my dinner table actually has a no electronics rule.

Yet for the first time yesterday I experienced the urge to use social media while in the midst of a meeting. It wasn’t that I was chatting away with friends or anything social for that matter. The whole issue was that I was in the middle of a rather sticky deployment of a new site, it was halfway live and there were more bugs than I’d every like to admit showing up. An office lunch meeting was getting started, and while I’m not at all a quiet person, there just wasn’t that much for me to say in this meeting. For the first time it actually felt like I was being more responsible and working more diligently by monitoring and responding to other developers txt messages then by placing all of my attention on the in person meeting I was attending. I had become that person I can’t stand.

This brings about a great question:

What is the most appropriate use of social media in public?

Having been on the otherside (that group of people that would prefer to go back to phones having cords), I totally understand the annoyance that is felt when everyone around you is having one sided conversations or all you hear is the clicking of tiny keyboards. I also now understand the increased productivity that can be achieved by using social media in a smart way. So here are my simple guidelines for social media etiquette.

Put family first – it doesn’t matter how important that text might be if you’re at a family gathering pay attention to your family. If you really need to check in to see your latest tweets then excuse yourself from the table and check your phone in the privacy of the powder room.

Think about what 5minutes gains. Sure you might get notifications every 20seconds about new information via txt but is all of it necessary right now? Even if your in an informal public environment there might be something gained by not grabbing your phone as soon as the alert comes in. Finish your in-person conversation and then check the phone, now you have 5 alerts to respond to all at once instead of being bogged down with one every 20 seconds.

Set your phone to vibrate. Regardless of how often you check your phone or where you check your phone everyone around you will appreciate it if they don’t have to hear your phone ringing all the time. Many smartphones even have different alerts for different types of messages. Let calls be heard by a ring (since we do really want to know if the babysitter is calling us about an emergency) but set txts and other notifications to vibrate or even silent. You’ll still get the messages but no one else will have to hear about it.

That’s it… simple enough, 3 rules that can keep everyone productive and happy.

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