Category Archives: Social Media

What this election lacks

This is one of my favourite scenes from one of the ten top films of all time.

Fantastic story, brilliant script and a cast that grits and grumbles through a film that will leave you drained. There’s no high-speed fight scenes, no time/space/body-shifting heroes, no fantasy land; but since 1976, Network feels as modern a story as it did then. It informs us deeply about the world we live in, the machinations of the powerful and the television that dominates our lives now. Crammed with intelligently written scenes, full of a richness of meaning and purpose. Not to mention a very embryonic form of  social media.

The full scene, below, is brilliant if you have the time, but the clip above gives you the meat of the argument.

Apologies for the  French subtitles as everyone else only shows the truncated scene. Only the French understand mise-en-scéne and the second clip above captures the drama and operatic scope of the scene, from Howard’s lonely, determined, rain-soaked march to the thunder and passion of the entire city screaming into the night.

If only the current Australian election were able to elicit passion on this scale.

Social Media, what does it mean to you?

A Social Media Consultant, a PR consultant, two agency specialists and a client walk into a bar…..

Sounds like an 50’s style joke doesn’t it?

At Social Media Club Sydney two a few weeks ago (I know, I am soooo slack! I’ve been meaning to write this post for a while now) the talk was “Do you need an agency to run effective social media campaigns?” and the point that interested me the most was that everyone had a definition for what Social media was but they varied wildly, sometimes based on what that person wanted from it instead of what SM was about intrinsically.

I later asked around the audience, and also got a wild array of possible definitions, some from Social Media users and others from “experts”, many of whom could remember who’s definition on the panel they liked or aligned themselves with but, ultimately, couldn’t remember the actual definition.

I remember the response from a student, uninterested in marketing or advertising, defining Twitter as a “marketing channel”, which really shocked me, although I wasn’t surprised in hindsight, considering the celebrities using it to keep them in the public eye and “sell” themselves.

Thankfully a few cool heads, both on the panel as well as in the audience, continued to press for the simpler and more engaging descriptions, which did not focus on sales, marketing or advertising but the more intrinsic communication, connection, engagement and sharing descriptions I prefer to lean towards.

I guess this is where I put my stake in the sand and tell you my definition. Fair enough! I think Social Media is something that is detached from platform, API, protocol and application, as well as detached from marketing message or advertising reach, although it can perform with those very easily. At heart, SM is a public conversation, generally around a topic, recorded. Ultimately it is about people, conversing and interacting.

Feel free to challenge me on this, and you can do so at the next SMCSYD, How Do You Measure Social Media Engagement, on July 20.

If you have to blame someone, why not Drew’s cancer?

Just a short note today to talk about Drew’s Cancer. ( I know, not a good plan to start a blog with an external link, but bear with me. All these links will open in a new browser window, if that’s any consolation.)

A few weeks ago Drew Olanoff was diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma. You can read all about the experience on his Tumblr page. So now he’s facing 6 months of chemo, but since the cancer has a record of being 90% curable, he has a good chance of beating it. He decided he needed to attack it mentally as well as medically so he started blaming the cancer for things happening in his life, losing his keys, his team losing a game, stuff like that. A way of berating and offending the cancer. It is a common suggested treatment to visualise an affliction and imagine physically beating it to help contribute to recovery.

He got together with some friends to take the battle with his cancer to the streets, or in this case, to the interwebs, in case others needed someone/something to take the rap for things happening in their lives.  He invites you to give his cancer a swift kick, in the easiest way possible.  He created a hashtag for the cancer and anyone on twitter can have a whack at his cancer for anything not going right in their day. Something like: I #blamedrewscancer for inspiring me to keep plugging on but also #blamedrewscancer for the current Sydney cold snap! Double-whammy!

He’s teamed up with sponsors who will donate a dollar to two prominent American cancer charities for every participant who tweets with that hashtag in it. The site has been brilliantly designed by 9Astronauts in just a few weeks, maybe only a few days, to great effect. It works well, doesn’t require flash, is very Web 2.0 and is fun. A few minutes after you post your twitter with the hashtag, it pops it onto a placard as if you were at a public demonstration.blamedrewscancer

It’s great to be able to help Drew feel surrounded by people berating his cancer, but it also is a great view of community and social media in action. The spectrum of tweets are anything from people sincerely wanting to make Drew feel better, not alone, to people pimping their own blogs, events, sites, etc. Although the same person posting repeatedly does not contribute to the charity coffers, it does help spread the word, and add to Drew’s sense of not being alone.

This is what makes open APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) so powerful and exciting. The Twitter API lets anyone tap into the stream of public Twitter messages and find things of interest or collate research about your brand, company, location, interests or pastimes. And not only that but collate it against something else, like how Jonathan Harris did with blogs for We Feel Fine. You are probably familiar with the example of the Google API where you get to collate maps of things of interest to you using their pool of information about the world… or the moon, ..or Mars… Open APIs are one of the knowledge-sharing elements of Web 2.0.

So if you twitter, take a moment today to blame something in your day on Drew’s cancer by using the hashtag #blamedrewscancer.

Oh, BTW: my WordPress threw away my posting this morning so I had to completely rewrite this, and I frikkin’ well blame Drew’s cancer for that too! i.e.:

I #blamedrewscancer for WordPress not saving my post while I was writing this today!

The site: Blame Drews Cancer

The hashtags showing recent posts: #blamedrewscancer

community and coding fun at WordCamp Australia, day 2

WordCamp Australia day2

After a great day at Word Camp Australia, my personal highlight of day two was definitely Harley Alexander of Baffle! inc who gave a fun and entertaining presentation on a simple but complex (yes, I just wrote that!) concept, WP_Query versus Query_posts.

The great thing for me was that he is 15, has been using WordPress since he was 12, and has several tutorials and tips on his blog and a forthcoming book, How to Be a Rockstar WordPress Designer.

His significant height belied his modest age, and his comfort and confidence with talking about coding issues made his presentation very charming. I liked that he was teaching his teachers about WordPress as well as that his teachers were confident enough to let him do so.

Once again, a committed, interested and passionate disseminator who will definitely go far if he manages to not let the attention get to his head. I look forward to reading more of his stuff as well as his book, when WP2.7 actually ships so he can complete the screen grabs.

The second great thing today was the formalising of the WordCamp Association Australia and its’ committee which I hope to support once I get this little matter of gainful employments sorted. (offers and introductions, both contract and permanent, welcome!) I have a 2 week gig till Christmas so looking to line up some work for the new year.

Saying that, it was definitely not just these few people who impressed me, it was everyone, with their own individual passions driving their creative and business ideas, who floated my boat. Thanks everyone; rom the presenters to the Twitter backchannel chatter, loved it!.

Shattered, neighbours’ late night kitchen renovations kept me up all night, going home probably. Thanks everyone! Now to go home and shave this effing ‘tache off so I can kiss my missus proper-like!

The Tribe at WordCamp Australia

WordCamp Australia, Day 1

Only about 75 people here, in a small hangar like cavern, quite appropriately called the big red box in canal street, Sydney. (Sorry, gotta complete my wordpress upgrade before I add the images!)

On the bus home, hired macbook on my lap (don’t get me started on how my MacBookPro died after a simple Safari update on Wednesday!!), reflecting on a good day at #wordcampau.

Instead of some florid exponation of how cool it feels to be here (v!) and the quality of the people attending (high!) I thought I’d riff on Matt Mullenwag whom I never met before but got a good feeling from the second I met him.

If there is anyone I would like to run my business (or organisation) or run a business I depend on, it’d be him. Calm, humble in the face of talented critics, open-minded to everything that is mentioned, charming to both the thoughtful and ignorant in equal measure, I beleive Matt is a example of a good leader (in the Seth Godin definition) of a tribe. His real passion in both wordpress.org and wordpress.com, and in the desires and aims of the people who use the tools he and his company Automattic create and drive for us is tangible.

Contrast that with the arrogant, obnoxious, controlling nature of people like Steve Ballmer and it becomes very clear who inspires and influences grass roots passion and who is intent on control and manipulation.

Good to see and truly inspiring of confidfence in the WordPress future.

On a side note, special thanks to Adam Makda at Next Byte / Rushcutters Bay who got me an excellent mac to hire at a decent price for a week while their techies at Broadway branch repair my sick Mac Book Pro. Advice on how to restore from Time Machine and even an offer of his personal mobile number in case I needed tech support during he weekend. Another truly helpful, committed and passionate person who cares about what they do.

Contact me if you want to know how easy it is to restore a disk from Time Machine in record time with a minimum of fuss.

On to day two at Word Camp Australia!

barCampSydney4, fragrantly remarkable day at U of NSW

Sydney is one of those cities that carries its own perfume, one you get a whiff of from open bus windows, moments stuck in traffic jams, or just walking down the street. It is the unmistakeable scent of gum trees, the eucalypt sweet-citrus that is as much a part of the city as the Harbour Bridge or the Opera House.

I thought about this as I got my coffee with @neilphillips the morning of barCamp Sydney 4, hosted at the Roundhouse, University of New South Wales, my partner’s alma mater, and wondered how I got to this place, something I regularly do since migrating here only a few weeks ago.

I already noted, I’m sure, how friendly and open I find this city, and it was very evident at BarCamp, where even passionate and aggressive debate was accompanied by true camaraderie and mutual respect. This was my first barCamp, 160 people concentrated in a strangely cat-litter scented music/meeting venue, and I am definitely going to the next one, and definitely presenting something having gotten over my initial shyness and wariness.

For those not in the know, barCamp is a unique type of dedicated conference focussing on web applications, open source platforms and next generation web environments, roughly speaking. I was attracted to it as it is a real User Generated Content (UGC) environment, where you show up and add your topic of interest, what you want to lead a discussion or presentation on, to a schedule board first thing in the morning, or even hijack a rebuttal space later in the day, as happened in the Roll your own / Don’t roll your own CMS debate I thoroughly enjoyed. It’s open to whomever adds their name to the wiki roll call, fantastically dynamic, and thoroughly free to boot! There is some sponsorship but corporate presentations are not permitted and, it is a participatory, not spectator environment.

I enjoyed the entire day, but had to mention some highlights. (great pictures by JJ Halans available on flickr) There are hashtags feeds at #bcs4 and #barcampsydney for those interested in the copious chatter.

The speed networking was very helpful to this new soul trying to meet like-minded people in my industry, everyone friendly and open and engaged. Then the “Why it make sense to create your own CMS” session from Tom Voirol (as well as the impassioned rebuttal from Plone and Drupal experts) and Mick Liubinskas from Pollenizer talking about focus was gratifying to hear. Journo Katherine Small’s talk on how to get media attention (hope she distributes her presentation online!) and Scott Drummond’s discussion, “WTF is a Community Manager” were well presented, inspiring and enlightening. The passions around Dave Field’s presentation on “HCI failure” showed real insight and cross-platform passion.

And that was all before lunch! (hope to post a picture here once I debug my image upload issues with WordPress). in the meantime check out these two pictures of me: http://www.flickr.com/photos/halans/3030931432/in/set-72157609079396406/ and http://www.flickr.com/photos/halans/3031460988/in/set-72157609079396406/ from JJ Halans. Yes, it is a truly frightful Movember I’m sporting. Also found a pic on ZDNet’s bootstrappr site if you’re interested.

The afternoon session contained a great talk about the OLPC project from Pia Waugh and what is in the damned thing, both hardware and software, as well as availability and upcoming deployments in Australia. Calling it a collaboration and education tool is about right. There was show-stopping mind-hacking session, A.K.A hypnotism, from Melinda Hall @headwellred that, among other things, showed us that it doesn’t have to be digital to be both fascinating and powerful. Nic Hodges led an interesting talk about idea generation and as the late afternoon fast approached, we wound up with an open discussion on how to battle the government’s desire to implement an unworkable, expensive, ill-considered blanket content filter across all Australian ISPs. It sounds like there is now a URL: banthisurl.com and some real activity around it. It was discussed that talking about #nocleanfeed wasn’t helping and we need to speak to non-techie people about it, not the “preaching to the converted” we now have.

So now it’s back to networking and job-hunting, looking for dynamic companies who might be interested in, in conversations about strategy, User centred design, end-to-end iterative project planning and management, future-focussed website creation and good places to have coffee. Hope to see some of you at WordCamp Sydney at the end of the month and please try to remember I am fundraising for Movember, raising awareness about men’s health issues like Prostate cancer and Depression, so your generous donation will be very appreciated and help justify me having to grow this ludicrous ‘tash.

Now off for a cycle round Sydney Park to clear my head and recirculate the blood round these laptop bearing knees.

Movember is moustache month

During Movember (the month formerly known as November) I’m growing a Mo. That’s right I’m bringing the Mo back because I’m passionate about tackling men’s health issues and being proactive in the fight against men’s depression and prostate cancer.

For those non-antipodeans among you, a Mo’ is a moustache, ‘tash, lip-warmer, soup-filter, abomination, etc!

I also have a moSpace (!) where you can read about the progress of my Mo’ and donate to my cause. In there you can see where I managed to insert an image of a previous version of the JoeMo from 1989, and track this current mo’s progress.

To donate to my Mo you can either follow the link above to donate online, send a cheque to the address noted below (remembering to note my registation number so I get credit for begging your donation), or contact me directly through this site to find out other options open to you.

Remember, all donations over $2 are tax deductible.

The money raised by Movember is used to raise awareness of men’s health issues and donated to the Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia and beyondblue – the national depression initiative. The PCFA and beyondbluewill use the funds to fund research and increase support networks for those men who suffer from prostate cancer and depression.

Did you know:

  • Depression affects 1 in 6 men….most don’t seek help. Untreated depression is a leading risk factor for suicide.
  • Last year in Australia 18,700 men were diagnosed with prostate cancer and more than 2,900 died of prostate cancer – equivalent to the number of women who will die from breast cancer annually.

For those that have supported Movember in previous years you can be very proud of the impact it has had and can check out the details at: [ Fundraising Outcomes ].

Movember culminates at the end of month Gala Partés. If you would like to be part of this great night you’ll need to purchase a [ Gala Parté Ticket ].

POSTAL DONATIONS:

Write a cheque payable to Movember Foundation, referencing my Registration Number 1714401 and mailing it to:
Movember Foundation
PO Box 292
Prahran VIC 3181 Australia

More information is available at http://au.movember.com/.

Thanks in advance!