Today is the Birthday of a Social Media friend, who I first met through Twitter, and then extended my friendship onto Facebook.
He lived in Pittsburgh, and we never met in real life… but through the years we would talk about hockey… music… and as we got to know one another better, our past struggles with Depression.
Then one day, he was gone…
No warning. No last post. No rants about Facebook or Twitter trolls.
Just… suddenly… nothing.
And for the last few years, upon the occasion of his Birthday, it causes me, and his many other perplexed friends, to post on his FB wall, and to put out Tweets… hoping against hope, for a response.
But there are none.
I think we’ve all had friends who, upon encountering online trolls, or discordant opinions, have taken breaks, or retreated offline. I myself, have had periods where there is just “too much muchness”, and going offline seems the easiest way to quickly quiet, a sometimes overwhelming and noisy world.
But these retreats by me, and by others, are usually prefaced by a “Taking a break for a while” note… or alternately, a rant complaining about the ugly sides of Social Media. Some come back, and others do not. But in most cases, there is a build-up or explanation to the reasons for the interruption.
In Matt’s case, there was none.
It was he, who called his online profile ‘Spazz Matt’.
And, so today, it made me wonder…
About the nature of friendships, and how we are naturally drawn to some people. How we form bonds of commonality, traveling roads (whether real or virtual) together, and enjoying “shared” experiences together.
And it makes me wonder…
How someone could, after years and years, suddenly give up on all those friendships.
And then I wonder…
Beyond the facile friendships of an online community, if the struggle behind the persona, overcame the person themselves. I hope not.
But… in all likelihood, I’ll never know.
So, on the occasion of his Birthday, I post this Simon & Garfunkel video, in honour of Matt, who would (in my recollection) doubtlessly, mock my choice.
And, with apologies to S&G, I present… “For Matt, Whenever We May Find Him”
And, because I would agree that the tone isn’t quite right, I give you (again) the greatest song ever written…
“I’m Going To Go Back There, Someday” by the Great Gonzo.
Today is Spirit Day…
Recently we all heard about cyber-bullying causing a teen to commit suicide…
And we all rally around the sentiment “It Gets Better”
But does it ?
Tonight, I am watching on twitter, as adults spew venomous vitriol on Whoopi Goldberg, (@WhoopiGoldberg) for her question to Ann Romney on The View, about the Mormon faith, and asking to clarify whether the faith precluded Mitt Romney or his five sons from military service.
She is being attacked, not with reason or argument, but with the blunt force of hate and vile insults.
I don’t know that we can say “It Gets Better”… I just think the venue changes for the playground bully, who, after graduation, can go online and throw stones from the safety of an anonymous twitter or facebook account.
Cyber-bullying is not something restricted to any particular age, religion or political view… but the rules have to change.
I do not like censorship.
But I dislike HATE SPEAK more.
This past Friday and Saturday, I attended Northern Voice: a Blogging and Social Media Conference in Vancouver.
This year, the organizers moved the venue from UBC to the newly renovated Woodwards Building, now called W2. Kudos to them for a great change. The rooms were better suited to the crowd, and the wifi (for a large crowd of highly connected people) seemed to cope nicely.
This year, there were a number of high profile bloggers who were unable to attend: @Miss604, @Hummingbird604, @AprilFilms among them. But this conference is also about networking, connecting and engaging, and meeting with old friends, as well as those who you know online, but haven’t met IRL (in real life.) As with any conference of people with similar interests, there was lots of connecting with new tweeps (people from Twitter) as well. Throughout the conference this was the case, as people look at name tags, trying to match sometimes obscure twitter avi’s to the faces in the crowd.
The conference kicked off with a keynote by Open Media, talking about crafting a message via web and Social Media engagement, and leveraging interested parties to act in their own best interests.
After a self-imposed technical time out, where I sat in a corner, looking out over the W2 atrium, and watching a guy play basketball, while recharging both my dead blackberry and dead netbook, I joined the “Blogging to Inspire” session, just in time to catch the nugget: “Blogging should never be a ‘chore.’ Pause life and give yourself permission to take the time.“
Other than keynote speakers, there were frequently three sessions going on simultaneously, and it was often difficult to choose, but throughout the conference, it was great to be able to “keep an eye” on the other sessions by tracking the #NV12 hashtag on Twitter. (Even as I write this, I can review my timeline and the timeline of other participants by searching that hashtag.)
Next came lunch, which was (to me) both a mystery and a delight, as the W2 Cafe served meals that were tasty and refined beyond my palate. There were options: meat, vegetarian and gluten free. My choice was: “Elk Chili with roasted fennel, parsnip and baby carrots in an aromatic tomato sauce, gluten free. Served with oaten bannock. Dessert was an apple rhubard tart.” Like I said before… I am unable to quantify or identify flavours, but suffice to say, it was yummy.
After lunch, we split up again, and I journeyed back to the BASSment (That is what they officially call the room) for “PhotoCamp“, where John Biehler, Ariane Colenbrander, Morten Rand-Hendricksen and Syx Langemann worked through a variety of aspects of taking pictures… from picture composition, lenses, brand of Cameras choice, photo syncing software, to the best bag to carry and protect your cameras.
Among the nuggets: “Use a business card/napkin/whatever, and place it in front of your flash, to diffuse the light, whether from a popup flash, or from multiple light sources.” …in that way: “Light can be delivered as a “hug” illuminating and cradling your subject, rather than a “punch” of light, throwing contrast and shadows where you don’t want them.“
Syx was thrown a curve, as his prepared presentation (reportedly) didn’t work, but instead he delighted the crowd, walking us through the set ups and process he had undertaken, to achieve some very striking and genuine photos he had recently taken, with both members of his family that he knew well… and some he had only met that day, and the methods he had used to put the subjects at ease and engage them, in order to capture their essence. Incredibly informative. @Fraseropolis suggested adding a link to Syx’s site, and I whole-heartedly agree, so here it is: SyxLangemannPhotography.com
John Biehler talked about Light Painting, which is very cool, and I’m not going to try to define it. But, if you are a camera wonk, you should Google it, and check it out.
My day wrapped up with Kemp Edmonds talking about “Lifelong Learning.” Nuggets from Kemp include: “The only thing standing between you and your goal is _______” …whatever it is that is holding you back. and the thought that the most precious gift we can give the youth of tomorrow is the ability to “Find, filter and evaluate online content.” Many of the speakers had links that they posted, so content could be reviewed after the fact… for instance, Kemp’s talk was posted at: kempe.me/kempnv12
My end of day twitter comment to a friend was: “Northern Voice is ALWAYS a blast. You never know where inspiration and learning will come from, but it will always be there.”
The Conference kicked off its second day with Blaine Cook delivering a keynote on “The Wild Future“, which was an existential trip through connectivity, architecture and anarchic networks ?!? (Note to the Conference Organizers: IF you are going to challenge us like this first thing in the morning… the SFU Theatre needs to be a caffeine friendly zone.)
Doug Blackie then tried to take a light-hearted look “Inside The Blogger’s Brain“, but got his audience defensive when he identified all Bloggers as one of six types:
1) Virgin (Use comic sans a LOT)
2) Expert (highly technical know it all nutjobs)
3) Topic-Matic (ALLL over the subject matter map)
4) Axe Grinder (Blog is their platform/pulpit)
5) Therapists (Love to sell stuff)
6) Sleazeball whore (will blog for tix)
Most people who didn’t laugh at the “pigeon-holing” seemed to take exception to description 6. Personally, I think that the tag ‘Citizen Journalist/Blogger’ has become a license for SOME to believe that they are able to compete with the larger Mainstream Media, but without having to hold themselves to the same critical assessment of being unbiased and balanced.
For example, a Food Blogger who announces his presence to a restaurant, and asks for a meal to be comped, in order to Blog the restaurant is (IMO) unlikely to have a “regular” experience… But that is another discussion for another day !
He did have some very good points, which seemed to get lost in the “typecasting” hubbub…
Blogger types: Don’t get caught being a cliche or stereotype.
Avoiding the pitfalls in Blogging: Consistency / Accuracy / Brevity / Authenticity
Mike Vardy took us through the next session, talking about “Better Blogging Productivity“, and (for me) the important distinction between ‘distractions’ and ‘disruptions’: When thinking about sitting down to write a blog, you can close your email, shut down Twitter, close Facebook and turn off the TV. Those are distractions, and you can control them. If someone starts a fire, and you have to go douse flames… that is a disruption, and not much you can do about it. But it is important to set aside a time to write, and to OPTIMIZE that time, by removing distractions.
The other point that caught my attention was how important it is (if you want to grow your audience) to “Build a schedule” to push posts out, and in that way, not ‘abandon’ your readers.
Felice Lam tweeted (from this same talk)
Lunch followed this, with my selection being Shahi Murgh ?!? (Royal Chicken cooked in yoghurt) Again, most excellent.
After this, my conference day ended… (I sadly had to leave early for a family event) …with the wacky, zany and always entertaining Shane Birley taking a “Quantum Leap” through his old blog posts, to find “The Evolution Of The Personal Voice”
Shane took us on a trip through time, stopping at various blog posts that served as markers on his Blogging journey:
Self doubt: “Self” I said, “You had better have something useful and good to say.“
On being told he was being downsized: “#@%% YOU! I have a blog!“
On realizing he had returned to “the present”: “Where… Am……… I ???”
@shanebee giving his best James T Kirk impression
Very funny, and at the same time, reassuring… that all Bloggers have the same doubts, concerns, inner dialogues… but that if we trust our self’ we find that our sense of direction is usually pretty good !!!
The last and final “take away” from the Northern Voice conference is that each of us needs a huge honking projector to project our blogs onto walls, so that the sheer size makes them impressive !!!
The Northern Voice Conference is held annually, and (sometimes) the presentations are caught and links provided after the fact. The website is http://2012.northernvoice.ca/
If you have an opportunity to attend a future conference, I would highly recommend it. I’ve been the last three years, and I ALWAYS come away with new information, with batteries on my technology depleted, but my OWN batteries recharged !!!
Eleven days after the world became aware of the StopKony video, I still believe in the Invisible Children cause.
- Having watched the video.
- Having listened to, and investigated the concerns that some raised.
- Having watched the Official video reply.
- Having watched an interview on Piers Morgan Tonight.
- Having listened to/read the words of influential people (Oprah, Anderson Cooper, George Clooney) who have been talking about Joseph Kony and the LRA for years, and gaining no public traction.
- And despite the life of one involved individual suddenly and sadly, very publicly, unraveling…
I support Invisible Children, and their #StopKony #Kony2012 #SurrenderKony movement.
I will continue to help support individuals in Africa to start and grow businesses, through Kiva Microloans.
I will continue (periodically) to electronically lobby law-makers and people of influence, in order to urge them to continue the support of keeping the 100 US Advisers, in Africa, to further assist and help the local Governments in the region to endeavour to catch, and bring Joseph Kony to justice.
This campaign has been the subject of much debate, but I don’t see the downside of trying something new, considering that the Lord’s Resistance Army has been marauding the region, and terrorizing the people of various countries, for far too long.
It is well past a time where tyrants and mass murderers can operate without fear of the global community. Whether in Syria, Kosovo, Darfur or Central Africa… failing to stop genocide is NO LONGER AN OPTION.
I believe if Joseph Kony lived in North America, he would have been found and brought to justice in mere weeks. But, sadly, the voiceless people of Central Africa have lived in fear for too long, and it is time for the atrocities of the LRA (as well as those in Sudan) to be brought to light, and to the attention of the world… Further, the light needs to be kept there and held long enough to serve notice to our politicians that this is not a passing viral concern, gone next week, and must be addressed.
Yes, I am trying to help change the world with a few persistent mouse clicks.
I hope you will join me.
I’m not a big fan of Titles.
Or, of self-proclaimed experts, wizards or gurus.
Unless you are Royalty, or hold an Official Position in Government, you don’t get to give yourself a Title.
I have always believed that your work should speak for you.
So, I am seriously wondering at the number of Guru’s, Wizards and Experts popping up and popping off about Social Media.
I believe you do your work, and if someone else says good things about you… Great !!!
If you have to give yourself a Grand PooBah title to finesse or trick someone into giving you a job… then you are probably in the wrong line of work.
In Social Media, word of mouth spreads fast. But perhaps not as fast as typing “Guru” in your bio.
Currently, I am trying to pick up the pieces for a client, after a guru has charged top dollar for a dog’s breakfast.
(Yup… small “g” guru… a Title, given to them by me.)
From the post times on the two Facebook pages he “designed”, it took a little over an hour, at the beginning of December, to copy posts straight off the client’s two webpages… another three weeks to make a requested change… (which he only accomplished on one of the two pages) and despite repeated requests and increasingly urgent demands, after six weeks, the client is still waiting for the guru to grant access via admin rights.
Meanwhile, my client has two EXTREMELY expensive, out of date copies of their websites, posted to Facebook, that six friends of the guru have “LIKED”, and no one else in the world knows about.
THAT is just about as good an example of bad value for money, as you can get.
My client went in, and with good faith asked “Can you help us ?” and got a “Yes” in reply.
The actual answer should have been… “Not really, but I can charge you a LOT of money, and leave you hanging while I flounder and flail, because I’m not sure what I’m doing… but a lot of people seem to be making money on this, and I want to get in on it !!!”
A lot of businesses are trying to get onto the bandwagon of Social Media, and that is wonderful. It IS the future, and the time to embrace and protect your brand is right NOW.
However, I am stunned by the number of Twitter Experts with Egg Avitars and mis-spelled Bios… Facebook Whiz Kids who don’t know how to remove or tweak a graphic to make the WHOLE NAME appear… LinkedIn Guru’s who have no profile image or connections…
I’m not saying I’m an expert… I know I’m not.
I know some folks who are experts, and they don’t refer to themselves as experts or Guru or Grand PooBah… They let their work, and their clients speak for them.
In the meantime, there are a lot of folks out there who don’t have references, who are taking advantage of the demand, and taking advantage of their client’s trust.
I don’t like self-proclaimed Titles, and, even more, I don’t like folks unable to fulfill their self-proclaimed Title.
I’ve always been a bit leery of Facebook.
Maybe it is the Farmville thing… but I have never found it as connected an entity as Twitter.
It might just be that you get out of it, what you put into it… but I do most of my Facebook communicating through my Blackberry, so I don’t see all the “other” stuff.
This last week, there was a “thing” on Facebook:
Change your Facebook profile picture to a
cartoon from your childhood and invite your friends to do the same.
Until Monday (Dec.6) There should be no human faces on facebook, but
an invasion of memories. This is for violence against children.
Yeah, I changed my profile pic.
(And, before you start squawking about delusions of grandeur, Mighty Mouse was the subject of the Essay that got me into University, after I wrote the Province-wide English Placement Test in Grade 12.)
But, regardless, as I changed my icon, I thought about this “awareness” campaign, and how it, like LIKING something, usually does no benefit to the cause itself.
(The obvious exception would be a program, like WE Day, where a corporate sponsor steps up, and makes a donation per click or LIKE.)
You should like my OTHER Blog:
In an economy where people are struggling, let alone Charities… it is becoming common to SHARE or LIKE something, and have a sense of accomplishment.
If an individual is having a struggle, or a tough time, it can be wonderful to have anyone acknowledge your situation or give supportive comments.
But other than an emotional lift or acknowledgement… at the end of the day, it gives no tangible benefit.
Now, to be clear… To an individual, that acknowledgement can be a huge lift.
But to Charities and Organizations, (what I am REALLY writing about here) LIKING or changing an icon only gives an illusion of support.
Most of my friends, who are technically savvy enough, changed their icons to Cartoon Characters.
In a Vancouver Sun article today, it talks about how Canadians are giving less to Charities.
Now I’m not saying that Facebook is 100% responsible… not at all.
Certainly the economic downturn probably bears the greatest portion of the blame… but… it is VERY easy to feel like you are involved, or helping something on Facebook.
I have a few “FRIENDS” who seem to have nothing to do all day but find different pages of Facebook, and suggest it to their connections to LIKE.
The sum total of their day’s efforts, will not benefit any Charities or Organizations in any tangible way, at all.
So, this season, as we get ready for another Holiday Season, keep on changing your icons, and LIKING things… but also be aware and give to the poor soul shivering outside, ringing a bell by the Salvation Army kettle… Buy a Kiva Gift Certificate, and help someone with a Micro-loan… Buy a toy, and put it in the local toybank donation box…
But mostly… be aware that giving a show of support, and actually supporting these Charities and Organizations, are VERY different.
(Oh, and I LIKED this posting on my own Facebook page, for what it’s worth !!!)
I spent the bulk of this week helping new Bloggers, and folks who want websites.
I’m also helping them “tweak” their Social Media presences. (AKA… Get rid of the Twitter Bird !!!)
There are quite a number of folks who I have assisted recently. Not because I consider myself an expert… but I am user friendly.
It is always a unique experience, every single time… teaching people to use a computer system, and WordPress is no different.
I always try to cast my mind back to when I started Blogging. But because I had no one to ask questions, I left it alone for far too long.
With a variety of WordPress Themes available, and everybody wanting their blog to serve a different function for them, it is always a delicate balancing act, between overloading them, and giving them enough information so they are not frustrated.
It is also a matter of trying to ensure that what they get, is what they had in mind !!!
The great thing about using WordPress to help them, is the ability to switch most Themes in and out in a few keystrokes.
Beyond the basic Themes… Premium Themes like Headway offer an even-further customizable Blog experience… but baby steps.
It is daunting enough getting the first few posts under your belt, and pushing the PUBLISH button for the first time can cause people an unreasonable amount of disquiet. I think most of us have been there.
Fortunately, most of us also begin our Blogging “journey” in the shadows of relative obscurity, where our few readers are usually composed of family and friends, who are kind and supportive, and encourage us to refine our craft, and work out the rough patches to seek out a larger audience.
I hope that the folks I am assisting, enjoy Blogging as much as I do !!!
Because it is a Holiday today, I, of course, woke up waaaay stupid early.
I thought that, rather than doing the Twitter #FF or #FollowFriday list, the traditional way, I would document my suggestions this week, in an expanded form… more than 140 Characters that Twitter usually allows.
@OwenGreaves – Owen Greaves is a smart, cutting edge fellow who talks about Business and Technology. Forward thinker. (Abbotsford)
@gmarkham – Mark Hamilton is a journalism prof at Kwantlen, and usually in the middle of smart debates. (Vancouver)
@AnthonyFloyd – Anthony Floyd is a whip smart Tweep that is usually one of the first on top of information and stories. (Vancouver)
@RealReporter – Salim Jiwa goes not for fluff, but for the harder stories… and has brought them to us, on many platforms, for years. (Vancouver)
@LisaSawyer317 – Lisa Sawyer knows a lot of good people, and adds a lot of great energy and inspiration on Twitter. (Maine)
@AureliaCotta – Plugged into Eastern Canadian Politics & issues. (Toronto)
@JimBobbySez – Expressing loudly, the federal Liberal viewpoint. (Nanticoke)
@StevestonSocial – Kana is a great-hearted photographer, animal-lover and networker. (Richmond)
@PeteQuily – Pete Quily delves into social media, politics and technology. (Vancouver)
@TerryMcBride – Terry McBride is the Nettwerk Music Boss, and music industry maverick. He is changing the business model of the Music Industry. (Vancouver)
@RickHansenFdn – The Rick Hansen Foundation continues, 25 years on, to work on awareness of accessibility issues and Spinal Cord Injuries. (Vancouver)
@RickRake – Rick Rake is a retired print journalist from Abbotsford, who is busier than ever. (Abbotsford)
@lacouvee – Janis Lacouvee is a scotch-drinking, arts-loving maven, who will shave her head to help people. (Victoria)
@BuzzBishop – Broadcaster, dad and social media guy, formerly from Vancouver. (Calgary)
@mashable – Pete Cashmore is a Social Media and Trend guru. (Scotland)
@Miss604 – Rebecca Bollwitt is plugged into what goes on, in Vancouver and the region. (Vancouver)
@GlendaWH – Glenda Watson Hyatt lives with Cerebral Palsy, and reminds us about making the web and everyday life accessible. (New Westminster)
@FredShadian – Fred Shadian is a guy taking on a different goal every year, and inspiring people every step of the way. (North Vancouver)
@Kim23Supernova – Kim Woods is a lady trying to get her goals in life done early, so she can enjoy the ride ! (Toronto & Sarasota)
@SRobinsmith – Stacey Robinsmith – One of his many business cards says Political Junkie. Also a fighter for the underdogs. (Vancouver)
@CarolBrowne – Carol Brown is a wackycrafter, zany photographer, cat mom and pin collector. (Vancouver)
@RoyAtkinson – Roy Atkinson is a renaissance man who throws out one LOL groaner, every day. (Maine)
@BillyHost – Affordable and great-quality webhost and tech support in the Fraser Valley. (Abbotsford)
@kk – Kris Krug is a self-described… “techartist, quasi-sage, cyberpunk anti-hero from the future”. (Vancouver)
@DanGoodchild – Daniel Goodchild is another political junkie and techno guy. (Niagara Falls)
@StacieBee – Heart on sleeve wearer. (Vancouver)
@BarackObama – Inspiring change and making it happen, despite the doubters & the economy. (Washington, DC)
@DavidSuzuki – David Suzuki’s bot, feeding nuggets from his various ventures and observations. (Vancouver)
@craigkielburger – Craig Kielburger helped found Free the Children. (Global)
These folks are not necessarily the Tweeps that I Tweet with the most, and I have not included any family or “friends.”
I have met a few of these Tweeps, I would like to meet them all, and have a Tea or a Scotch.
By including them, and NOT others, I mean no slight… it is just what I could come up with at 4:30 in the morning.
Follow them, go ye forth, and conquer the world.
Justin Carlson of Carlson Media filmed the Third Tuesday Meetup of March 23rd.
(Yes, it was actually the fourth Tuesday… but whatever…)
Social Media and the Future of Citizen Journalism – (update: May 16, 2014 seems the video was taken down)
It is an 80 something minutes long film, and PROBABLY not good to load on your phone.
This is the discussion that caused the 3 am posting about the “J” word…
(…and for young children, the F and S word, are also accounted for, here.)
I came home last night from the Vancouver Meetup of Third Tuesday.
The subject was Social Media and the 2010 Olympics: The Future of Citizen Journalism.
I had been to tweetups before, but never one from this group, or one as large… (150 people RSVP’d)
It was held at the Vancouver Pub Ceilis.
The questions posed, were ones that had not occurred to me… because I had not believed I was Media. I did not apply for credentials, because I felt my reporting held no weight, and that I had no journalistic background to fall back on. (I have to believe that just because my father worked for the BBC, CKWX and the CBC… I did not inherit a typewriter and fedora as a birth right.)
However, I DID report on events at, and surrounding the Games.
Some of my pieces had an Editorial Slant.
I do not get “paid” for any posts I have put on my Blog, and I do not receive, expect or accept any “freebies”.
When I write a review of a Tea Shop, an Art Opening or a Restaurant… I pay for what I receive, and try to make notes and take pictures surreptitiously, so as not to draw attention to myself, or garner exceptional service.
Yes, I had an ad on my Blog, selling the “Beyond Blogging” book… but I bought the book myself, before I was offered the opportunity to sell it, as an affiliate.
My niece is enrolled in the Journalism Program at Kwantlen. I have a number of friends who are “accredited” media, and report on events, varying from the Provincial budget to missing children.
But I hadn’t EVER thought of myself, as Media.
I guess that I have to accept that, as we saw at the 2010 Games, Social Media IS having an effect on mainstream Media… and I am a very small part of that.
It was mentioned that CTV wasn’t going to broadcast the Paralympic Opening Ceremony on the night it happened… until Social Media caught wind, and applied pressure, and CTV changed their plans. (In BC, at least.)
I guess that is part of the larger question… but the rules are being made up, as we go along.
I know that when I write something, I take responsibility for it, and believe everything I write, to be factual, and correct. I stand behind what I say, and have taken “heat” for voicing my opinions on, amongst other things, Parliament being summarily prorogued.
The opinions on my Blog, are expressly my own, and although I don’t say that anywhere, I believe it is implied in the tagline: A brief and terrifying journey through the mind, music and musings of Bob Gray.
A media collaboration campaign to encourage social coverage of major events, highlight emerging media and provide a venue for discussing the increasing use of social media in society, particularly at events of global importance like the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver Canada.
I believe that Media is changing. Social Media is causing Mainstream Media to adapt and evolve. The way that we receive our news, and the sources of that news, are changing. The face of Media itself, is evolving.
I embrace that change, and welcome the evolution towards a grass roots Media, from what seemed to be a few massive News conglomerates, with vested interests.
However, I don’t know that I am prepared to call myself a Citizen Journalist… even though, by participating in Social Media, we all are becoming that.
I guess I’ve got some evolving of my own to do !!!