MSVU Social Media Course Blog

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Use your wiki but scrutinize it too!

Like Katia, I too found the article on the student wiki hoaxe to be a little alarming. I also use Wikipedia fairly regularly and mainly in part to its prominence near the top of Google searches. However, I rarely, if ever take the information found there as an academic source for scholarly research.  

Perhaps, what is most concerning about this case study and wikis in general is the ease with which contributors can manipulate the reader. Large corporations or product and service providers for example may (and do) use these wikis to promote themselves and sell their products. Instead of providing unbias information, these corporations are making pitches and vying for our consumer time and dollar. Of course this is expected of any business concerned with the bottom line, but it is when it done covertly that it becomes unethical and shady. The consumer or reader has a right to know who is publishing this information so as to be able to evaluate the senders intentions in disseminating the message.

It was refreshing however to hear that the administrators of the wiki that featured the fake quote noticed the lack of attribution and removed it from the site. It’s nice to know that we have these sorts of watch dogs, guarding or at least filtering out some of the questionable material. What’s more, being analytical and continiously questioning content and attribution is really our only safe guard against being dooped like the journalists in the article. Red flagging questionable content is a courteous action we can all take to forewarn our online peers.

May 24, 2009 Posted by | Comment on Course Material | | Leave a comment

What to believe online – “Student hoaxes world’s media with fake wiki quote”

What information can we trust? Millions of people a day conduct searches online to find out information. Some is for grade 4 history reports while others are to some degree of great importance.

Shane Fitzgerald, a Dublin university student tested the media by posting an inaccurate quote by Maurice Jarre (French composer), which he said hours before his death.  This was a false quote written really by Shane to prove that our world is becoming too globalized.

When reading this article I found it scary but also entertaining. The scary part is that it is possible that one can have the power to alter and add information on the Internet, where millions of people a day seek to find true facts. It is also a little disturbing that this student would take advantage of the death of someone to conduct an experiment.

However I do understand what the student was trying to prove and test. It’s entertaining that people based a lot of what they know from reading something fast online.  It does go to show that people these days “do” and then ask questions later when receiving information.

Personally, I use Wikipedia to conduct fast searches, and I’m not going to lie, I use the information there because it’s quick and easy and sometimes I can’t find the information anywhere else (maybe there is a reason for this lol). But like Walsh said in the article, “ if you see that quote on Wikipedia, find it somewhere else too.”

I don’t know about you guys but I’ll remember to do that!

May 24, 2009 Posted by | Comment on Course Material | Leave a comment

Online activism: passive or encouraging?

The radio interview presented near the end of class on Wednesday about “Slacktivism” got me thinking about the role of social media in how activism is done today. As someone very interested in the non-profit sector of PR, I’ve always thought of social media as an extremely useful tool for the non-profit sector to embrace when spreading the word about certain causes. However I need to agree with Evgeny Morozov, when he speaks of the implications of online activism. While social media can help increase awareness about organizations and fundraising efforts, how can support be measured online? Of course if your particular Facebook group reaches a high number of members, it can be said that those members are aware of the organization/cause. However, are those members active? Are they donating money? Are they volunteering?

For me personally, I try to limit the number of causes I support online because there are so many organizations doing such great things, and as a student I am limited in how I can show my support. I feel like its up to whoever is maintaining the site to make sure they are doing what they can to help motivate the members to get involved. This could be done through providing volunteer applications, keep members up to date about fundraising events, and how they can donate money online. Evgeny Morozov also brought the point of peer to peer influence, and how some online users support certain causes if their friends are. When you see a friend sign up for a certain group, it does encourage you to check it out and see what the group is all about. This should be something that organizations take advantage of, rather then look down upon, in my opinion. In the end, awareness online is better then no awareness at all.

Tying in with the participation aspect of social media, we always need to consider who is actually participating in online activism efforts. We need to consider those members that do not have access, and those that may not know how to properly use social media tools. We need to utilize the members that will actually contribute, and learn to keep them interested but we should also be pro-active in motivation the more passive supporters, and not see them as only a number. With that in mind we should think of social media as a useful alternate tool to use to recruit support, but certainly not a substitute.  


May 24, 2009 Posted by | Comment on Course Material | Leave a comment

SLACKER!!! Yep I’m talking to YOU

I found Nora Young’s interview with Evgeny Morozov on online activism or “slacktivism” very interesting. I believe that it is a perfect reflection of today’s society where the average person is very complacent and does not have the attention span to understand the problem or the drive to fully fight it. Our generation is full of “slackers” that think change in the world is a natural progression that does not have to be fought for. Unfortunately I admit to being one of them.

 I think this is a generational issues and not the fault of social media. If anything social media helps more people learn about the. It is not technologies fault that society has little drive to do anything more than type their name to the cause. Social media also allows interest groups to form quickly and communicate on action plans.

May 24, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Music to the ears of PR practitioners

This week in the Ascentum blog, a team member writes about President Obama’s Memorandum on Transparency and Open Government. To achieve this transparency Obama has created a system of three levels; transparency, public participation, and collaboration. Being a Public Relations student the most exciting term used is “public participation”.

“Executive departments and agencies should also solicit public input on how we can increase and improve opportunities for public participation in Government.” Barack Obama

It will be interesting to see how they will receive this feedback from the public and promote two-way communication.

May 24, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Little bit of history repeating…

The wheels started turning when I was reading Birdsall’s Web 2.0 as a Social Movement for the class readings.

As Birdsall points out “the right to communicate” is as important today as the previous right to freedom of opinion and expression. I believe these all are true, in today’s world we should have the right not only to freedom of speech, but the right to communicate. However when Birdsall mentions larger telecommunications companies allowing faster computer connections to only those who can pay for it, this brings us back once again to the age old predicament of those with the wealth have the information and power.

Just as the printing press in 15th century suddenly allowed those who could afford books, the ability to learn and gain knowledge. This kept those who could not afford books to stay uneducated and content in the lives they were living, not knowing what else was out there.

Today it is still happening. Those that have money, have the ability to communicate. We in Canada have money that folks in some countries couldn’t even fathom. We are able to own computers or at least have access to computers through schools and libraries. However for many this is not a reality. For millions their main concern is to sustain life.  Even in Nova Scotia, many families do not have access to the kinds of technology that many of us take for granted.

The cycle of information and power staying in the wealthy ranks seems to be continuing and developing today. Those who have the wealth have the information and can now better communicate this knowledge with each other.

Although it is important to keep the rights we have and should fight for the right to communicate, perhaps we should also focus on the right for all people to have access to opinions, expressions and have the ability to communicate. If not, we continue the cycle of keeping knowledge and power from those who simply, can not afford it.

May 24, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | | Leave a comment

“Meat or mind?” Who are you?

I really enjoyed the poem, “Meetspace” discussed in our last class. I think Elizabeth Barrette poses the issue of identity during these “online” times in quite a provocative way. More than talking about self-identity, Barrette deals with the issue of gender identification. Of course, gender identity isn’t a new issue in society but with the prevalence of the “cyberspace” world a new dimension has been added.

 Before, gender identification was based mostly on physical appearance. People would assign an individual as male or female depending on how they look physically. Now, however, people can create online identities that can be male, female or even gender neutral.

More than gender, this division of self can manifest in other forms. An example mentioned in class was of people who are very comfortable communicating online but then are super shy when it comes to face-to-face contact.

 So, I guess the question that comes from all this and from Barrette’s poem is: Who is the real you? “The meat or the mind” as she puts it- your online persona or the physical self?

This has great implications on the world as a whole. Even though there are still a great deal of people in the world without internet access, I feel for certain that kids growing up in this cyber generation are sure to face a whole new set of self identification issues. Adolescents face enough of an identity crisis without have to try to define themselves on Facebook or Twitter at the same time. 

I believe there is no real right answer to Barrette’s question. I think that both the online persona and the physical “meat” of a person are all parts of an individual. Some people spend their whole lives asking themselves “who am I?” The cyberspace world is just adding another layer to this and spicing up the debate…. who are you???

May 24, 2009 Posted by | Comment on Course Material | | Leave a comment

“Are You Passionate?”: How to generate and harness passion through social media

What are you passionate about?

When most people answer this question they tend to err towards the typical responses of family, friends, music,  peace, war, politics and so on. In Neil Young’s 2002 song “Are You Passionate?” he asks “Are you passionate? Are you livin’ like you talk?…. Are you loving it?Can you ever get enough of it? Is it everything?” Of course this song is not about passions generally (it goes on to talk about war) but those few lines give a nice overview of what passion is to people. If you’re passionate about something you’re actions will reflect your passion and you’ll want to share it with others. I don’t want to go so far as to say that passion consumes people’s lives entirely and can be “everything” to them; but sometimes when people are passionate about something it can become a main factor in their life. For example how some people feel about a particular charitable cause or political injustice often plays a major role in how they live their day-to-day lives.

Passions can play such a large part in people’s lives. So how can we as communicators get people passionate about the products or services of our organization through social media channels so that they share their passion with others?

The latest podcast post on Managing the Gray deals with passion. C.C. Chapman, recently gave a presentation about passion and how to best use it in a social media context. I like the example he gives about the latest movie you’ve seen and how it’s likely you were swayed into seeing it probably because of a friend’s recommendation more than the print ad. Passion is contagious and that is why it is important in social media.

He speaks about how to leverage social media and how to get consumers to be passionate. His recommendations include:

  • Asking fans to share their thoughts instead of waiting for them to respond
  • Keep it simple- you want the portal to be accessible to as many people as possible
  • You cannot buy passion but it can be fueled- hold an event, offer incentives to get consumers’ opinions
  • Listen to the consumer and what they’re saying about your product and the competitors (tools like Radian 6)
  • The more voices you get the better the story is going to be
  • If there are people within your organization who are passionate about it, get them to share their stories too
  • Let consumers tell their own stories, don’t try to translate it to corporate speak to fit your messaging
  • Give it time to grow

I agree with Chapman that passion has great potential in the world of social media. I mean, isn’t it true that the reason most people start blogs is because they are passionate about the topic they blog about. For example, my roommate blogs about her vegan cooking and follows several other blogs on the same topic. I like the suggestions he gives about harnessing such passion to the benefit of an organization but I feel like it doesn’t really address how to create such passion in people but rather how to address it once it already exists.

Any ideas on how to get people passionate about a brand or product?

May 24, 2009 Posted by | Review of Monitored Site | , , | 3 Comments

“Twitter’s #hashtag: Handy search device, or irksome clutter?” A blog on Ragan

“Have you #hashtagged your #conference or #hobby on #Twitter yet, or are you #waiting to figure out the #definition #first?”

This week on my blog site I found an interesting article on Hastagging on Twitter. Personally I had no idea what Hastagging was all about.  “Hashtagging, is the practice of putting the pound symbol (#) in front of a word.” There are no rules for hashtags, anyone can use them for anything. Like any tagging the idea is to label something so you can easily find it later when doing a search. The new “thing” on Twitter is Hashtagging an event or activity.

Personally, I think hashtags are useful for stuff like live tweeting events, but on the whole, I think they are more confusing than they are useful. First of all, you’re already limited to 140 characters, do you really want to use a bunch of them for your #hashtag? And when reading other peoples post, it can get confusing on what they are trying to say with all the pound symbols being thrown out  left right and centre. 

I personally think Twitter should come up with a way of tagging posts that is invisible to userslike tagging blog posts. That would also make it possible to go back and add tags onto existing posts, or to fix you’re tweeting about something that requires a tag (like an event) but you forget to add the hashtag.

Any thoughts?

May 24, 2009 Posted by | Review of Monitored Site | Leave a comment

Hey SocialMediaGroup, Update Your Darn Blog

I’m monitoring the blog for Social Media Group (SMG). So far, it hasn’t been an overly wearisome task to keep up with the site’s updates. In fact, the same blog entry has been greeting visitors since May 12, when I began monitoring it.

The current entry is titled Microsoft to Sponsor May 12 TGGD. The article is a last-minute plug for a Toronto Girl Geek Dinner (TGGD) that took place on the evening of May 12. 

TGGDGirl Geek Dinners are monthly events that feature expert panelists to teach young women and others about new technology. The dinners are held around the world in casual pub settings and are open to everyone. The concept sounds extremely cool. Maybe our class could work on developing something similar in Halifax. It might be a fun class side project…but I digress.

Back to my beef with SMG. I think it’s pretty upsetting that SMG has not only failed to update its blog in nearly two weeks, but is providing visitors with old, irrelevant information when they enter the website. With the TGGD event already passed, Toronto-area visitors may make the mistake of reading the post, getting excited about the Dinner and planning to attend, only to find that it’s too late. (To SMG’s credit, the post does serve the purpose of advertising to future Dinners, but only if interested visitors take the time to follow the link to the TGGD main website.)

As a national leader in social media, SMG should set a better example for its current and potential clients. One of the chief advantages of social media is the speed and ease at which its users can update and share information. Part of SMG’s mandate is to show client companies the advantages of social media tools, when they are used properly. Failure to update a blog frequently does not constitute proper or effective use, especially for a self-proclaimed social-media leader.

Get with the program SMG—after all, it’s your program.

How frequently do you think social media leaders/advocates should update their blogs? What about social media-savvy businesses? Regular Joes?

May 24, 2009 Posted by | Review of Monitored Site, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | 4 Comments