March 31, 2009

P&G adjusts to the social Web

Stowe BoydI had the opportunity to talk with Joe Schueller of P&G several times in the past weeks, and I found the experience extremely rewarding. Joe is an Innovation Manager in Procter & Gamble’s Global Business Services organization.

We talked about the econolypse and its impact of businesses like P&G. See the original post on the Enterprise 2.0 blog. Joe makes some great points:

1. P&G had already been working to damp the cycles of oscillation and impacts based on things like the rise in gas prices in 2008. The new downturn has just sharpened focus.

2. Joe believes that P&G has grown intolerant of duplicative work, for example.

3. He quotes the CEO of P&G, who stated recently that the company has many, many networks of smart people, and the trick is to get them to find each other and dream up new ways to deliver great products.

Continue reading

March 31, 2009

Comparing TypePad and WordPress for blogging

Both services are versatile, but WP has pulled ahead

Matt Mullenweg, CC photo by Robert Scoble

Matt Mullenweg, CC photo by Robert Scoble

JD LasicaPeople still ask us all the time which blogging platform they should use. (Micro-answer: It depends on what’s important to you.) A few weeks back the team here stared down the issue ourselves when we made the decision to switch Socialmedia.biz from TypePad to WordPress.

Why did we do it? Let me explain.

First, a word of praise for TypePad. I began blogging in May 2001 after interviewing Dave Winer, Doc Searls and Dan Gillmor on the subject for this piece in OJR. They looked like they were not only having fun but doing something that mattered. So I started on a Manila blog, switched to MovableType, and then became one of TypePad’s early customers when Ben and Mena Trott of Six Apart rolled out what was then the Mercedes Benz of blogging platforms.

By that time I was fairly comfortable with CSS and Advanced Templates, so the cookie-cutter offerings of Blogger or LiveJournal never appealed to me. Besides, my blog was evolving from personal commentary about media to a business focus on social media, and I rechristened New Media Musings as Socialmedia.biz in 2005. TypePad gave me the ability to design a slick-looking blog with rich, archived content and even some third-party doohickeys in the sidebar.

But over at WordPress, a revolution was brewing — and finally reached the point where I could no longer ignore its pull. In WordPress.org, Matt Mullenweg (pictured above) offered a free, open source platform that thousands of developers were coding for. (We opted for self-hosting rather than the hosted wordpress.com version.) Somewhere between 2007 and 2008, WP became not only comparable to TypePad, but better. Not because of Matt’s coding prowess, but because of the power of crowdsourced development. I now find myself attending WordPress Camps, alongside BarCamps, Social Media Camps and other open media efforts born of my involvement with Ourmedia.org.

Continue reading

March 29, 2009

Twitter users: Help people find you

twitter-page-doesnt-exist

JD LasicaOne of the shortcomings of Twitter is that it can be find to hard to find people — even people that you’re following — when you don’t have their Twitter ID right smack in front of your nose. Sure, you can go hunting and pecking in TweetDeck, or do a Google or Twitter people search, but that’s a pain.

Sometimes it can make for a guessing game. What’s Doc Searls’ Twitter handle again? Not www.twitter.com/docsearls (if you go there you’ll get Twitter’s “That page doesn’t exist” message, shown at top. Doc is actually at @dsearls. It may not be a large number, but I’d guess that at least a few people type twitter.com/docsearls into their Web browser and leave, assuming that Doc doesn’t Twitter, when his tweets are well worth following.

dsearls

Similarly, you won’t find Amy Gahran at @amygahran, but at @agahran. Rebecca MacKinnon and Huntley Tarrant, smartly, have shortened their Twitter handles to @rmack and @huntleymt, respectively, though have no pointers there.

Now, I’m no scold, but I don’t like wasting time, and it takes only a few seconds for anyone to claim their real name on Twitter (assuming no one else has grabbed it), and then point people to the Twitter ID that you prefer. And more important, by claiming your real name on Twitter, you’ll be heading off some possible mischief down the road, as some squatter may swoop in, steal your identity and use it for untoward purposes.

Continue reading

March 28, 2009

Using Twitter at the Chicago Tribune

james_janega1

JD LasicaI‘ve been arguing for some time that journalists need to embrace the best elements of social media — going beyond the new media and multimedia elements of the craft developed over the past 15 years to develop a true conversation about the news with members of their communities.

In the past few weeks I’ve begun plying the waters to see who’s begun to take advantage of the new social tools now available to all of us, in preparation for an online course I’ll be giving, along with Paul Gillin and Michele McLellan, at the Poynter Institute’s News U. starting next month about how news organizations can incorporate social media in their news offerings. (The lessons are equally applicable to corporations, government agencies, nonprofits and other institutions.)

Here’s the first of four segments in the series: a 23-minute audio podcast with Chicago Tribune general assignment reporter James Janega about his use of social media tools, particularly Twitter, in his reporting for the paper.

Stream or download the interview (time: 23:28):

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Continue reading

March 27, 2009

Unigo: Student-powered college advice

JD LasicaAt South By Southwest Interactive in Austin Texas, two weeks ago — inside the bloggers lounge — I ran into Julia Kaganskiy, the social media and community manager for Unigo.com.

If you haven’t heard of Unigo, you will. It’s a crowdsourced college guide that offers honest appraisals of life at hundreds of U.S. colleges, including the ability to find out what it’s like to major in a particular subject on a college campus.

Crowdsourcing doesn’t always work, but when users know their subject — and college students know their campuses — it can produce a more useful, authentic and accurate picture than that produced by traditional information sources. Julia says putting an editorial filter on crowdsourced content “sets it apart” and increases the signal level, and I think a lot of sites are finding the same thing.

Continue reading

March 25, 2009

Twiphlo: Making geolocation small & beautiful

Stowe BoydStowe Boyd, a longtime fixture in the tech and social media worlds, is joining Socialmedia.biz as a contributor and collaborating strategist. The following originally appeared in his blog /Message.

Geolocation tools fall into two broad categories:

  • Predictive location, generally oriented toward arranging to meet with other people when traveling to other places (like Dopplr and TripIt), or in your own town (like Mixin)
  • Location streaming, generally oriented to keeping others informed of location (like Google Latitude, DodgeBall, Plazes, or Brightkite), either for arranging meetings, or to maintain a geolocational lifestream.

I have used tools in both categories, and written about my experiences with them.

twiphloMost recently, I have been using Dopplr for predictive purposes, and Brightkite for location streaming. But in recent weeks, I have found that Brightkite is too rich an experience, overlapping too much with what I am doing with other tools, particularly Twitter as my primary lifestream, and the various blogs I maintain on Tumblr. Perhaps it is also that I don’t have a deep sense of community on Brightkite.

One thing in particular annoys me about Brightkite, and that is the Twitter integration. While they have provided a sophisticated template-based approach to posting tweets based on Brightkite location updates, the tool to support updating Twitter location in the user profile is just broken. When I post ’542 Brannan St, San Francisco CA 94107′ the Twitter location gets set to ’542 Brannan St’ dropping the city, state, and zip code.

I was quite happy to stumble upon a small but beautiful location streaming tool the other day, called Twiphlo. It seems like the main window is designed for a mobile interface use, like iPhone. The basic idea is that you can post something, while at the same time updating your Twitter profile location.

Continue reading