MSVU Social Media Course Blog

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Power to the people. I mean ALL people!

On the current edition of the Spark radio show/podcast/blog there are many interesting topics to explore. I’m really enjoying this exercise and finding myself constantly surprised by how many relevant issues are discussed on Spark.

This week Nora Young interviewed Ethan Zuckerman of Global Voices Online. Zuckerman mentioned that in 2006, Technorati reported that there were more blogs written in Japanese than in English. Zuckerman says that today English is actually a minority language on the net. There is a great need for translation so that more information can be shared. Global Voices serves as a social translation site, where people from all over the world can offer up translation services to make blog content available in multiple languages.

Social translation seems to be similar to the wiki concept—people who are bilingual or multilingual and who are willing to translate content in their free time are able to register on the site and begin translating. As Zuckerman points out, many times Google Translation and other websites don’t provide the best translation services. “Translation is about taking text and making it comprehensible”, not just word for word. Global Voices uses volunteer authors and part-time editors to create the site that emphasizes “voices that are not ordinarily heard in international mainstream media.”

On a larger scale, Global Voices aims to:

  • Call attention to the most interesting conversations and perspectives emerging from citizens’ media around the world by linking to text, photos, podcasts, video and other forms of grassroots citizens’ media.
  • Facilitate the emergence of new citizens’ voices through training, online tutorials, and publicizing the ways in which open-source and free tools can be used safely by people around the world to express themselves.
  • Advocate for freedom of expression around the world and protect the rights of citizen journalists to report on events and opinions without fear of censorship or persecution.

    Finally, another thought-provoking quote from the website:

    “At a time when international English-language media ignores many things that are important to large numbers of the world’s citizens, Global Voices aims to redress some of the inequities in media attention by leveraging the power of citizens’ media.”

    Personally, I think this is a global step in the right direction! What do you think?

    P.S. If this whole social translation thing really grabbed your attention, I dare you to check out another really interesting site: TED -“Riveting talks by remarkable people, free to the world”.


June 7, 2009 Posted by | Really Relevant Interesting Stuff, Review of Monitored Site | , , , | Leave a comment

And in this corner, Wikipedia…

scienceA few weeks ago an online controversy was brought attention to on the blog I have been following, Net Effects. Well this week, Evgeny Morozov is blogging again about the Wikipedia vs Scientology scandal.

In case you have yet to hear, Wikipedia is taking a stance on their opinion on Scientology and are banning any IP addresses associated with the Church of Scientology editing any Scientology-based articles. Yikes. As Morozov says “Wikipedia, the encyclopedia that anyone can edit but scientologists”. Soon mainstream media jumped on the scandal story.

This week, Morozov follows up the coverage with some points to ponder.

1) The Church of Scientology is a large institution and has lots of money to spend on defending the Scientology name. PR companies representing Scientology would be able to think of other ways around IP addresses associated with them. The added interest raised in the media will bring more traffic to the Wiki page, making Scientologists more apt to find ways around the ban to have control over the pages content.

2) The Wikipedia editing war between Wikipedia and Scientologists is not the first of its kind. But it raises an issue about how controversy articles on Wikipedia are being updated. To eliminate these petty editing wars, Morozov recommends that Wikipedia invest in better tools that will distinguish between legitimate and illegitimate updates. Although this tool exists in WikiTrust, many times Wiki Admin and other editors get boggled down in petty editing wars. As Wikipedia is an important project, Morozov suggests that the editors and Wiki employees spend their valuable resources on more important issues just as approving new articles rather than spending hours on smaller controversies.

Wow! So this raises so many issues, eh? Does Wikipedia have the right to ban an organization for not agreeing with their beliefs? Is this getting into free speech issues?

What do you think?



June 7, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | | 2 Comments

If You Build It, Will They Actually Come?

In the same spirit as many other recent blog posts, I too really enjoyed Harold Simons’ presentation via Skype on Wednesday. I am starting to learn a valuable lesson in the realm of social media—don’t knock it ‘til you try it. Now, I don’t think this mantra applies to everything; however, as an outsider looking in on the Rogers Plus internal website, initially I was quick question their social media strategy. Do they really expect employees to jump on board with an interactive internal site? What about when the hype wears off and they are left with a lacklustre employee gossip page frequented by five disgruntled employees?

I know, I know, hard to believe I could be so cynical. Realistically, I’m always a little hesitant to believe that new initiatives are really as great as they sound. In this day and age we see beautiful words, beautiful pictures and beautiful people promoting beautiful things all the time. But until you actually try on the dress, use the new vacuum cleaner, drive that car, or try out the new interactive website, it’s hard to know if it’s all as beautiful as it sounds.

As Harold continued with his presentation, I realized that Rogers Plus really does seem to have a good thing going. It is encouraging to hear that Rogers has found a way to increase employee involvement, start dialogue, and enhance organizational culture through social media. Nothing is perfect, but I can tell that Rogers Plus has a positive attitude and an effective strategy when it comes to the use of social media as an internal communications tool. Am I ready to pitch this idea to an organization? Am I ready to believe that social media really can benefit an entire organization (internally and externally)? Lots to think about…but I know one thing is for sure, I am a cynic no more.

June 7, 2009 Posted by | Comment on Course Material | , , | Leave a comment

I’m hip, I’m cool, I skype!

My street cred in the world of social media is about to take a near-fatal blow. I had no idea what Skype was until I started this class.

I can practically hear the wave of gasps and oh no’s as I try to explain myself.

I’ve used sightspeed to stay in contact with my friends, thinking it was the next best thing to sliced bread. Cliched, but sliced bread is pretty awesome in my world. Anyway, I’m getting off track. Skype = awesomeness. Skype opens up so many possiblities for PR practitioners that I’m giddy with excitment to get into the “real world” and start throwing these ideas out. As I’ve mentioned in my last post, I’m a newly hired Media Analyst for a government department in Ottawa. This involves news conferences – and you know what news conferences involves?

Teleconferencing.Yawn. Droning voices coming from a machine without a face. I’ve often listened to reporters on teleconferences and wondered if they looked as boring as they sounded. Now there’s a chance to actually find out!

Skype could be the new teleconferencing. It’s like teleconferencing on crack – the cat nip for PR professionals. The use of video conferencing, while not a new idea, is something that my peers in the workforce almost feared. What if there was a glitch? What if there was reverb? All valid fears, but I believe my co-workers were thinking of the hazards of teleconferencing the old way with satellite an an actual video camera. Today, all you need is a web camera and a laptop.

Not only do you save costs by having a web conference, you’re increasing the potential volume of media in attendance (I know I’m repeating myself from my last post, but it’s just so awesome to me). Think of a traditional news conference in a board room or hotel with maybe a dozen local media in attendance. Add a video conferencing element, and I’ve got reporters from the Associated Press, reporters in Britain, Austrailia Newswire, etc. The list is endless and the globe can be infintismly small when considering the possibilities.

So, until I’m in the workforce and have the opportunity to be a part of this, I’ll continue my giddy excitement of Skype (and Sightspeed).



June 7, 2009 Posted by | Comment on Course Material | Leave a comment

Media Relations Evolving due to Social Media

I read an article today regarding media relations, and as some of the third years in our class are experiencing Media Relations class this summer, I found it particularly relevant and how they tie social media as a contributing factor on how it will evolve in 20 years.

Don Bates: What will media relations look like in 10-20 years?

Here are some of the major key points that Bates took from his research on social media’s affect: (

  • Social networking sites and podcasts are used least often for editing and reporting compared to other sources, and most often by editors/ journalists younger in age and experience. Blogs are used almost as often as trade journals.
  • For monitoring responses to stories, only websites and blogs are considered important; conferences, trade journals, industry newswires, social networking sites, and podcasts are rated as unimportant.

As a future Media Analyst, and knowing we will be starting pod casts next week, the thought comes to mind – how can we make this important? How do we take this prediction and shape it so the use of social media in media monitoring and relations can be utilized? When we graduate, of course. We need to take our ideas to those who may (or may not be) as tech-savvy as we are, and show them the many benefits of social media in media relations. Here are a few examples I came up with:

1. Skype: video conferencing can bring in a much larger volume of press when doing a news conference. With the teleconferencing and microphones, have a small laptop set up with a webcam so people can connect via Skype (or other video conferencing alternative).

2. Facebook/Myspace/LiveJournal, etc: Like we learned in class, we run risk of discovering “slacktivism”, but to the critical mind, Facebook, MySpace and other social networking sites are a gold mine for finding out perceptions to news, a new product, a crisis, etc. On my second workterm during a Canadian Coast Guard crisis, I scanned facebook and within 12 hours of the crisis hitting, there were 25 seperate groups in memory, in anger, for support and for information popping up all over the site. Understanding that people use Facebook much like a forum to express themselves, it really is worth taking advantage of.

3. Podcasts: This could really be much more internal. At my work terms, employees were allowed to use their iPods and MP3 Players as long as it didn’t affect work productivity. Why not have an audio version of a newsletter or a message from the CEO/Director downloaded straight from an organization’s intranet site? As long as it’s creative and upbeat, people will be less likely to ignore it. Even add some humour into it, and you may have a hit on your hands.
Media relations and media monitoring is going to change in the next 20 years, according to Don Bates. Not drastically, but he predicts that social media will have a significant impact on how it will be done. As future PR practitioners, I believe we can use social media to our advantage in media monitoring/relations to reach more audiences and to move up with the technological times.

June 7, 2009 Posted by | Review of Monitored Site | Leave a comment

Thanks Ben & Kimberly!

I found the demonstration on twitter by Ben Boudreau and Kimberly Walsh super eye-opening. It was amazing how fast the dialog can take off in different directions and how outside parties can quickly join the conversation and make judgments based on little fact. It is obvious that people have something to say and I believe they will respect organizations that allow them to do that.

I can see why it would be a difficult transition to for an origination to start using the tool because it means giving up control and having the manpower to keep up on the ever-changing communication. With that said it has immense vale for creating buzz and that is priceless.

June 7, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Online tools for Organizations; Social media or more corporate messaging?

I found Wednesday’s class with Harold Simons via Skype very interesting. This was the first time I had seen this popular communication tool in action and was very impressed. How small the world has become now with new technologies like Skype. It makes you wonder what’s next.

Although Skype was very cool, Simons’ insights on internal communications made me think about how corporations use these online technologies. Rogers Plus’ internal website is a great resource for new employees joining the team and to receive information on the companies strategic goals. But is the internal site just another avenue for corporate messages or is it truly a social medium? There seems to be a thin line between too much corporate messaging and a two-way communication tool for employees. Can there really be a social media internal website, or is it just more one way corporate messaging?

What are your thoughts on this?



June 7, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , | Leave a comment

Not you Grandmas Public Relations: Actual Two-way communication!

On the Ascentum blog this week, Manon Abud writes about a new communications initiative called Inspiring Education: A Dialogue with Albertans. There may be a hidden agenda on Ascentum’s part because they may be working with the organization but I was unable to find that information.

The project invites people to “Tell your story. Share your opinions. Join the conversation!” Therefore decisions that will be made about the future of Alberta’s education system will contain ideas that came directly from the public. People can attend the conversation to share their ideas, send a YouTube video with them speaking theirs mind or get involved in the twitter dialogue.

June 7, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Social Media: Do not litter!

 Ever create a website or blog, and eventually desert it only to come back months later? Its sort of like going away on vacation and leaving a messy apartment behind only to have to clean up the mess when you return. This is what Livingston speaks about it in his latest entry titled “Clean up your Social Media Litter”.

 It seems these days that the question isn’t weather or not you are part of a certain social media networks, but whether or not you upkeep them properly. Livingston talks about this in terms of companies and organizations, and creating social scars. In other words, organizations try to adapt and often disregard the tool, leaving behind “internet litter”, which could be picked up later, or just left there. Livingston suggests that this means that a) there is a lack of understanding about how online efforts can impact your brand, b) efforts are seen as a way of trying the latest tactics rather then a well thought out long-term strategy and c) organizations don’t understand the dynamics of web communities.

 I couldn’t agree with Livingston more. If you create a Facebook page – you need to keep updating it and keep it current. The same goes for websites, blogs, twitter, etc. These are efforts that should be integrated into strategies, not just fun tools to try out only to disregard them later. Livingston also touches on unfinished web pages, and how important it is to direct people to something they can use while something else is under maintenance. Otherwise, it sends a message that the organization doesn’t care. As future PR practitioners, we need to understand the importance of maintaining these tools, not just the initiative to get them off the ground. We also need to know when a tool works or when it dosn’t. When it dosen’t work – we shouldn’t leave old information lingering in the webspace to confuse our publics.

 On a personal level, social media litter might not be so bad, however this coming from someone with many blogs that haven’t been updated for months and some for years. Perhaps I should take Livingston’s advice on this matter. Time to clean up that 3 year old Livejournal account.

June 7, 2009 Posted by | Review of Monitored Site | 3 Comments

Social Media Madness

Monday’s class I found extremely engaging and guest speakers Ben Boudreau and Kimberly Walsh were very engaging. It was very beneficial to hear their different perspectives regarding social media. I found it interesting how they presented their blog project that they run together as an example of how viral social media tools, such as blogs can be. It reminded me of a blog my mother created last march. The blog was based around Juno, a foster cat my mom took in through the Antigonish SPCA who was abandoned and pregnant. The blog was called “Juno’s Diary” and told the story of Juno’s time at mom’s house while pregnant up until all the kittens and Juno herself was adopted. The Blog became a hit locally but also picked up attempted across the world, and also got media coverage on CBC radio. What started out as a fun hobby for mom, became an opportunity to educated people about such issues as adopting animals, general pet care and spay and neutering your pets.

 The section of the class related to Twitter was extremely hands on and we got to see for ourselves just how fast things spread in the online world. The creation of a fake product, and the promotion of it on Twitter, triggered a frenzy of haters, supporters and sometimes just people wanting more info. And the tables turned when people found out the Kermit Card was made up. People were in no way inhibited in voicing their opinions on the matter and every second a new tweet popped up with a different opinion, a different voice.

 Like many others in the class, I kept thinking about how much time people spend focused on Twitter, and just how seriously people read into “tweets”. I am still pretty new to Twitter and only use it for personal/social use.  I generally do not think what I say on Twitter will be a source of insight for all my followers, then again – I am new to it and am still exploring different ways to use it. Overall, it was interesting to see how fast information is exchanged and how, if monitored, it can provide opportunities for organizations/people to clear up misconceptions and provide correct information.

I had to laugh while watching a new episode of the Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien, in which he poked fun of the Twitter Madness right now, particularly around celebrities on Twitter.  His “Twitter Tracker” segment involved an uncanny voice telling Conan the best Tweets from celebrities. I had to agree with Conan’s indifference towards Twitter, who really cares what Asten Kutcher is picking up at the grocery store or how Miley Cyrus is in the line at Starbucks. Its astonishing how much people rely on these tweets to feel like celebrities are “just like them”. After all, it’s like their managers or assistants posting the tweets anyways.

 As for Twitter, when used properly it could be a great tool to disperse information quickly and reliably, but for me personally my life is not tweet worthy….yet.

June 7, 2009 Posted by | Comment on Course Material | Leave a comment