Using ReadTwit the last couple of weeks has been interesting. It's enabled me to see more of what people I follow on Twitter are linking to, and that's not always a good thing. It seems that by occasionally looking at Twitter, I might be missing the fact that some of the people I follow actually spend a lot of time sharing stuff I don't care about at all. ;-)
So it was with that in mind, that I found myself nodding my head in agreement with this.
I've already mentioned my complete disregard for all things FourSquare, and how using ReadTwit helped me realize just how often some people "check-in" for no apparent purpose other than to become mayor of their dentist office, or something equally strange. It's also helping me realize that some people I follow have a tendency to promote the same stuff every single day, or just link to hollywood gossip stories that mean nothing to me. In essence, it has helped me see some the things that are normally hidden by the shear volume of tweets.
Of course, if you read the article, you also know they have huge problem with people feeding their blog posts to Twitter. I actually don't mind that, and I do it so I hope most people don't mind it. If you only have one link to your blog posts, and aren't posting 4-5 times a day, it's easy enough to skip on by without too much difficulty. On the other hand, if you repost the link for days on end, well that's just annoying.
So what are your biggest Twitter pet peeves? Do you think if you saw more of the details of what was in the firehose that you would be pretty quick to unfollow. I'm finding the unfollow button a lot more often myself.
So I noticed earlier this week that your profile photo was being sent out to anyone who had you as a contact on through the iPhone app, today F-Secure points out something about private photos that you might not have noticed, that anyone with access to them can share them!
Still, complaints about privacy aside, I think they have the best bit of advice:
There's is a very simple solution. If you absolutely don't want to share it, then don't upload it to a SOCIAL networking site.
I'd have to agree. Ultimately, even if Facebook did fix all the little holes and give you a chance to lock down every little bit of your profile to just a select group, there's nothing stopping that group from doing screen captures, or whatever, and sharing it with the whole world! If you really want to keep something private, don't post it online. Such a simple rule, it boggles the mind that so few seem capable of following it.
Being the avid social networker that I am, as well as an iPhone owner, of course I was excited to see that both the LinkedIn and Facebook apps were introducing features that let you sync information from those networks to your phone's address book. However, after I got both updates, downloaded my LinkedIn contacts to my phone and turned on "syncing" in the Facebook app, a curious thing happened.
I noticed that some folks I am connected with on LinkedIn, who don't happen to have a photo on their profile, and who I wasn't even aware were on Facebook, suddenly had photos along with their contact information on my phone. It seems that the Facebook app was grabbing their publicly available information, which now includes the profile photo, by matching up the LinkedIn email address, even if I'm not connected to them on Facebook.
So, if you've got a somehwat questionable profile photo on Facebook, you might want to be aware that it may be getting attached to your LinkedIn info, and sent to folks you connect with there, despite your best attempts to keep your Facebook profile a secret from them! Consider this your warning. :)
You might recall over a month ago that I wrote about non-lawyer staff and the marketing of a firm, and the importance of bringing more to the table than just doing your job, because any good employee can do your job, a great employee becomes a resource for the firm in many more ways than just doing the assigned work.
That could explain why I see much to like in this idea of coming in to a job and bringing your own identity, using the tools you choose, etc. You don't stop being you between the hours of 8-5, and you don't stop being an employee of the firm at 5. That's not the way the world works any more. Certainly there is much to be said for work/life balance, and I am a big believer in having a healthy balance between work and fun, but at the same time the best source of customers for any enterprise are the people your employees are talking to and interacting with. I know my impression of many companies has been based on what the people who work there have said about it, or experienced while working there, but it's something I don't think many companies think about, and dare I say, it's something very few law firms have stopped to consider. Oh, many will take great pains to not get a negative reputation among lawyers, but don't stop to think about all of the potential clients their support staff is also connected with. The wild world of Web 2.0 is starting to change that perspective, but slowly. It's now easy enough to see how connected many of the people who work for you are, and not just the potential damage that can be caused by disgruntled employees, but also the opportunity that having truly engaged employees brings.
Staff members who are proud of the firm they work for are, generally, more than happy to tell the people they know about it. That can't be a bad thing, can it? Unfortunately, too many places will never know, because they live in abject fear of what their employees might say if they were given the freedom to do so. That's too bad, and just might be an indictment of how they treat these non-attorney staff members. Not so much as people, with rich, full lives, relationships, and many things to offer, but as cogs in the machine, there to do your bidding for 8 hours per day and nothing more.
I know which kind of environment I enjoy working in more. I'd bet I'm not alone.
After a couple of days of using ReadTwit, I do still really find it useful, and I'm working on what hashtags to filter out, and even finding a few people who I really probably shouldn't have been following to begin with, due to the noise/signal ratio they are pushing out.
But today, as I was skimming my ReadTwit links, I really wished there was a way to filter on more than hashtag and username. Specifically, I want to filter out any links that point to FourSquare, as every time I skim the feed there are usually a bunch of "check ins" of Foursquare users on Twitter, with links to that location's Foursquare page. As I've said before, I don't really care about other people's foursquare check-ins, they provide no value to me whatsoever on Twitter, but most of the foursquare noise gets buried and is hardly noticeable. In ReadTwit, it's much more noticeable, and unfortunately, because it comes from multiple sources, many of whom are people providing lots of good links as well, I don't have any good way to filter it. A nice filter by URL feature would go a long way here!
I ran across this post about ReadTwit over the weekend and was immediately intrigued. I've watched as Twitter has become a source of interesting links being passed around by the folks I follow, I'm missing some really great information.
Now, as I've said before, I have no desire, nor the time, to try and read every tweet from the people I follow, nor do I have any expectation that I'm going to check out anything close to 100% of the links they are sharing, but I sure would like a way to see more than the 10%, less when I'm too busy to really check my twitter stream at all, that I currently see.
The other downside to trying to follow links to things shared on Twitter, is that most times you just get a link, with maybe a brief description, or the title. It's a lot of work to decide what's worth the click and what isn't, and again, when pressed for time, the title better be darned good to get me to click!
Readtwit filters your twitter feed to links only, resolves link destinations and publishes the content as an RSS feed. You can then use any feed reading software / service to read twitter posted content along with the rest of your feeds. Duplicate links in the same time-frame are grouped together. No more retweets overwhelming your link browsing activity.
Naturally, I went to check it out, and added my ReadTwit feed to Google Reader right away. The next morning, I had 97 items waiting for me in that feed, stuff I normally wouldn't have seen as it got tweeted while I slept, with 2000 characters of available items as a preview instead of 140, and the ability to filter out certain hashtags or users. I was able to skim through it right along with the other things I normally browse through in Reader. I haven't started using the filters yet, but I can see where I will start filtering users who send a lot of links to a subject that isn't highly relevant to me. I don't know, it's sort of an experiment at this point, to see just what kind of ReadTwit feed I can come up with that allows me to see more of the links people I'm following are sharing, without having to spend all of my free time catching up with Twitter!
However it ends up, I'm willing to bet it helps me see more links to good information than I'm seeing now.
I also wonder if this doesn't help, at least a little, with the security risks involved with shortened URLs, and not always knowing where they are leading you? Not sure if it's a cure-all for that, but can't see where it would hurt either.
Not to mention the other site I run, for child abuse survivors, and all of the many ways you can interact with that content as well!
So there you go, no matter what services you use or where you like to hang out on the net, there should be a choice for you to keep up with things being posted by me. I thank you for the interest in what I'm doing and talking about, and look forward to connecting with all of you, wherever it may be!
Here's to a getting your 2010 networking goals off to a good start!
OK, so I've seen all the "experts" talking about how Foursquare is going to be the next big thing, and I've seen other folks using it, and looked at what it is, and how they're using it, and I'm just not seeing the point.
Oh I see the point for commercial opportunities, isn't having all this data about where someone goes, how often, how much time they spend there, etc. pretty much the holy grail of advertising data? Heck, you can get users to advertise for you, for free, simply by coming to your place of business a lot, and checking in with FourSquare!
What I don't understand is why I, as an individual, would want to use it? To let people know where I am? I can do that with Twitter without checking in and sharing that information with the foursquare database, and even then, how often do you really care where I am? Seriously, it's one thing to share a favorite restaurant tip with folks via twitter, it's quite another to announce via Foursquare and Twitter every time you go to the grocery store, or to your office, or stop at Starbucks. Sharing that I'm a big fan of a local pizza place might be helpful information to local folks, letting the world know every time I go there, is borderline creepy, and completely useless to the people who follow me, unless they really want to stalk me. (But since most of my followers are not local, it's even useless for that!)
As I see it now, the only real "benefit" to using it is that some businesses might be willing to give me free stuff, if I "check-in" on average more than other users. So, again, I'm trading my privacy for a free coffee? No, thanks.
If there's a place I feel really strongly about and want to recommend on Twitter, or my blog, I'll gladly do that, without bugging all of you each and every time I go there, and without allowing a marketing company to track my coming and going.
So, those of you are convinced this is the next big thing, hit the comments and tell me if I'm missing something?
I found it somewhat interesting that both of these articles came to my attention yesterday, as they both deal with something I haven't seen many people talk about, let alone firms that actually embrace the idea. They both mention the importance of non-lawyer staff of law firms in building relationships, networking, and attracting clients to the firm.
Both postsfit in to what I've been saying for a long time about Social Networking and why you should actually encourage it. It's networking, and networking, assuming you've hired good people you can trust, is always a plus for your organization. When the good people you hired go out and represent you, they make your organization attractive to potential clients, potential hires, and the public in general. In turn, during a time when it's absolutely vital that you can show your value to your organization, what better value can you bring to the table than attracting new clients or good hires to your employer?
I'm not saying this takes the place of doing a good job. Not by a long shot, but in a tight budget tough decisions about who gets promoted, or who gets a raise, or even who gets laid off, have to be made. Whenever you can bring in a little extra value, you have to try and do it!
Let me give you an example. Last year, we were facing a tough budget decision about whether I would be able to go to the ILTA Conference. No one questioned that there would be value in me going, but how much value was another question. However, when I was asked to speak, suddenly, there was no question. Now, not only was I getting the value of attending the conference and all the networking that goes with that, but I was also publicly representing the firm as a speaker. That extra value really helped clear the way to me going, and of course, that speaking opportunity was brought about by connections I've made through online networking.
Of course, I've also been heard to say that clients don't hire a law firm because their tech guy is so good, even in Litigation Support. I do still believe that in general. If a lawyer is a jerk, me being a nice guy and great at what I do isn't going to help push a client to hire us. Still, if a decision is being made between two otherwise equal attorneys, if the Lit Support person that you know you'll also have to work with to some degree is someone you have interacted with already, that can help push it in the right direction for you. Sometimes, it really is just the smallest little "extras" you bring to the table that make all the difference.
What do you think? Should firms embrace the idea that even non-lawyer staff represent them and should be encouraged to engage online? Or is that still too scary for most?
I haven't yet seen exactly how this would work for myself, but in theory I think Facebook stumbled on to a change that most users are going to love! (For once!) The ability to set privacy on every individual entry is a huge game changer for how people will be using Facebook, IMHO.
All too often I've heard people talk about how they don't use Facebook professionally, only for personal contacts, (as if it were possible to always keep the two separate?). Now they can intermingle those two groups of contacts freely, and by simply using friend lists can share things freely with their personal friends, while still keeping those details away from their professional circle. I foresee a large number of people adding more professional contacts on Facebook, and possibly even being convinced to use Facebook in the first place, if this is an easy to use feature.
Of course, that's in theory. We'll see how the reality plays out.
As we in the US get ready to celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday tomorrow, many of us like to blog about the things we are thankful for. Each year, as I dwell on that thought, certain things always come to the forefront. I'm always thankful for the life I have, for the people who love me, for our health and well-being, etc. This year isn't any different, I recognize how incredibly lucky and blessed I am to have what I have, but at the same time I'm also feeling thankful for all of the connections I've made through the wonders of technology, especially social networking.
In the 8 years since I started a technology blog, which has morphed into this site, then adding the Child Abuse Survivor site, and things like Twitter and Facebook, I've gotten to know so many wonderful people that I wouldn't have had the opportunity to know. I've reconnected with friends from long ago, and had the opportunity to keep in better contact with my large Irish-Catholic family that has managed to spread it's way across the country. I've been able to use the tools to learn more about the people I see regularly, connecting with them over shared interests, learning more about my coworkers and friends than I managed to learn before.
Being naturally introverted, and sometimes painfully shy, I can easily recognize how much the ability to follow and connect with people online allows me to be much more social than I normally am in a public situation. It can be near impossible for me to strike up a conversation with someone I don't know, let alone try to "work a room" at an event. On the other hand, if I have already connected with others who will be at the event online, that becomes much, much easier.
The last 12 months has been a bit of a watershed in regards to connecting with people online, and building relationships that I am very thankful for. Part of that is the growing use of the tools by everyone, part of it is the pure happenstance of events occurring this year that provided opportunities to meet and connect. I've had a happy convergence of family events (traveling to NY, my cousin's wedding), professional opportunities (speaking at ILTA 09, doing social networking presentations in the office), the start up of the Abuse Survivors network, and lots of old friends creating Facebook accounts that have fueled those connections, but it's the communication platforms provided to us now that have made it easy to stay in touch with those folks.
So, while I'm not one to go on about the inherent wonderfulness of what is, essentially, just a tool. I am thankful for all of the relationships that have grown out of using these tools, whether they be a reestablishing of an old relationship, or the growth of a completely new one. Either way, I'm blessed to be in touch with so many people who teach me, inspire me by their actions, make me laugh, support me, encourage me, and entertain me to no end!
I hope you all enjoy the day, whether it's a holiday in your homeland or not, and know that I am thankful for you.
A.k.a. "Why I don't like Twitter's new retweet function".
As far as I can tell from the beta testing of Twitter's new Retweet function, someone inside of Twitter seems to want to make sure that original tweets are given more credit than they maybe currently get, and that no one dare change any of them. That seems very RIAA to me, but then again maybe that's just me. Unfortunately, it's also why I won't be going to Twitter.com to retweet anytime soon, but will continue to do it from Tweetdeck. Here's why.
The person I follow who retweeted a link or other information is more important to me than the person I don't follow who tweeted it originally. As I skim through the latest "x" tweets in my friend's timeline, unfamiliar avatars tend to get skipped over much faster that then handful of folks I know, respect, and trust to be providing the best information. Retweets of links by these folks get my attention quickly, and tend to get me to click the link in question, again because I know it must be good if it came from that person. I can't skim the front page of Twitter and know who retweeted a link, I only see the avatar of someone I don't necessarily know from Adam. Yes, it's nice that Twitter wants to make sure they get more credit than they currently do, but they are not a trusted source of information to me, yet. In the 10 minutes I'm skimming Twitter, I need to see my trusted sources in order to truly get that information, not a bunch of people I don't know at all with small print telling me who I follow that actually retweeted this.
Secondly, this inability to add anything to the Retweet is also quite limiting. Again, it takes away the ability to do any sort of remising, if you will, to better fit my audience. I ask you, which is more useful, and which is more likely to get you to follow a link? A simple retweet of exactly what someone else posted, or me adding a "this made me LOL" to the tweet? That extra comment allows me to not only point you to a good tweet, but also explain (if I can in 140 characters) why I think you should read it. It provides context, allows me to explain why I retweet something, or even respond to a tweet and include the context of my response. In copyright terms, Twitter made it harder to create a derivative work. I don't see how that is user friendly.
So, back to doing my retweets in Tweetdeck, where I still have some freedom. At least until Twitter makes their feature more useful than it is in this initial roll out.
Later this afternoon I'm going to be doing a presentation/demonstration of Social Networking Tools for a firm committee. I'm using this post to demonstrate how you can write in one place, and then use the power of RSS feeds and the tech/social media tools that exist to have that post appear in many different places.
So, if all goes well, by the time I show this to the committee, this should have already posted to Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, and a handful of other places, all without me having to engage with any of those sites, and those of you who follow me or are connected to me will have had the opportunity to see it, read it, and maybe even respond to me, without ever having come to my blog to do so.
That's how you leverage technology to improve your social networking contacts when you're crunched for time!
I finally got a chance this week to look at the new Twitter Lists feature, and I must say, now that I've seen it in use, I get it a little better than I first did. When I first heard about it, I honestly thought, "Yeah so what, I already have groups in Tweetdeck, I don't care about lists."
Now that I've seen exactly how it's implemented though, I come away with a couple of new thoughts. First, I see now that what you're building when you build lists isn't necessarily just a group of Twitter users, it's an actual timeline that others can "follow". So, for instance, instead of looking at a group of users that someone else put together and finding new people I might want to follow, I can take the lazy way out and just follow the timeline. Then, when I want to check in on that topic, I just click over and see what that group of folks is talking about. Probably the best example I can give for this is on my sports twitter account, where I was added to a list of NY Islander fans. That would be an awesome timeline to pay attention to while the Islanders are playing, wouldn't it? Again, there may be some folks in there I want to follow myself, but since I don't have time right now to spend going through it, this makes things way easier on me!
It's also a easy way for someone new to Twitter to find traction. Now, instead of trying to help them find good people to follow, and helping them figure out how to interact with them, I can point them to a list, let them look at that timeline and get a feel for what they can do with this tool in that way. It gives them a head start compared to the days of signing up and then wondering "now what?"
The second thought I had was that this really increases the visibility of things I tweet, including blog posts, in a way that may be harder to measure. I have over 800 followers on my main twitter account who may see anything I tweet, but now I'm also on a handful of lists, which have followers of their own, where things I tweet will show up. So, suddenly, there's another chance that something I say on Twitter will be seen by others outside of my existing circle of contacts.
On the downside, building a list when you have a significant number of friends can be a bit time consuming, as you have to go through the list and add them one by one. An importer from Tweetdeck groups to Twitter lists would be an awesome tool, if anyone is paying attention and has the skills to build that. :)
All in all, it's an interesting little feature that I'm looking forward to playing with, and more importantly, seeing how others use in their own social networking workflow.
I was approached on the LitSupport Yahoo mailing list a couple of weeks ago about writing an article to talk about social networking by none other than Mark Lieb of Ad Litem Consulting, and author of Litigation Support Department. With his help as editor, the finished article is now posted over at the LSVA forums.
Check it out and let me know your thoughts on Social Networking in the Litigation Support/Legal industries.
Interestingly, while I heard back from folks on Twitter about the post, on Facebook and even in person, there aren't any comments on the post itself. That tells me two things.
One, I can't control where the conversation about things I post here is actually going to take place. Thanks to the proliferation of social networks and the ease with with people can share links and other content with each other, anyone could be talking about something I wrote, and I may or may not ever find it!
Secondly, it proves that I was right in taking my RSS feed and shipping it out to Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and wherever else. It makes no sense any more to limit the blog posts to what appears on the website. It works better to pass it around to all the places someone might want to read it as opposed to making them come here to see it.
The stats of the site are really kind of proving that out. The site hits have dropped off a bit over the last year or two, the RSS subscriber numbers have stayed pretty steady, but I've got people following the posts on Twitter and Facebook who never used to follow it at all. That's where the audience is growing, not in subscribers or page views. (Though page views do go up quite a bit temporarily when something I post is discussed on Twitter the way that was last week.) What does that mean? I'm not sure. It gets tougher to measure just how much of an audience I'm reaching, and it requires me to pay attention to many areas to see what posts are resonating and which aren't. I can't just rely on page views or comments.
It's a whole new world, takes a bit more work to see what kinds of feedback I'm getting and where it is. As a blogger, you need to be involved in some social networks, getting your content out to those networks, and seeing what folks are saying about it there too.
Since I respect my followers, and have tried very hard to consistently meet their expectations of providing information that applies to them, and is in the general vicinity of what I do professionally, with a small dose of my personal life, I thought maybe spending a lot of time talking hockey and other sports might be a bit much for them.
So I created another Twitter account, @mikemacsports, just to talk in more detail about sports, and just in time for hockey season!
Feel free to follow me there too if you are a sports fan, but if you're not, I'll keep the sports talk on my main Twitter account, @mikemac29, to a minimum! :)
I know I said that I loved the entire post I pointed you to earlier from Stop Blocking, but there's one line that really resonates outside of this particular issue.
Who died and put CIOs in charge of worker productivity anyway? Iím not sure when supervisors and HR abdicated this responsibility to IT, but IT is simply not qualified to address employee productivity.
It immediately reminded me of something that I hear often from the Manager Tools guys, that there are so few people in management who really understand and work at being a good manager. This task of addressing productivity fell to IT because no one else has any idea of how to address productivity. Actually taking the time to set the expectations to the people who work for you, figuring out how to measure their performance and holding them accountable for meeting the goals you set out for them is quite a bit of work. I know, as a new manager I'm still struggling with figuring out how to do it! So, it's awfully tempting as management to start blocking things that would cause distraction, as if you could block every potential distraction!
"Then how do you know if your associates are working?"
I lean in, like I'm going to let them in on my secret formula.
"By managing them."
As I look down the list of reasons not to block social media, I'm struck by how many of them fit this very point. If you are effectively managing the people who work for you, they understand the consequences of failing to meet expectations and not being productive, they understand the appropriate ways to interact online, and what sorts of things are frowned upon by the organization. They know better than to disclose confidential information, and they know with certainty what will happen if they do. They understand that being careless with malware will hurt their productivity because they'll be without their PC while it's getting cleaned.
As I look back on 20 plus years of working myself, and all of the conversations I have had with others, there's something that really runs true here. There really aren't very many good managers. I find that many, not all, managers are in management just because they were the last one standing when others moved on (ed.- he says fully self-aware).
Most people are thrust into management because they've been good at a job, and a manager left, so they got the promotion. Not because they showed managerial skills, and they probably weren't given any managerial training either, they just happened to be good at one thing, so they got the spot. Is it any wonder then, that they surrender responsibilities to the IT Department? They don't know any other way to deal with the risks of something like social networking. They don't dare rock the boat by trying to be innovative, because being innovative requires confidence, and people who have never been groomed to be managers, yet find themselves in that position, lack the confidence to do things differently!
Seems to me that, instead of constantly worrying about what your people might do, with any tool, organizations might be better off training their managers to be effective, and innovative. That innovation will trickle down and take care of many of these issues. Right now, we're not seeing a lot of turnover in many industries, and it may be harder to spot bad management, but I guarantee you, when the economy shows signs of turning around, and people start to feel more confident in their job prospects, you'll see scores of unhappy, and very talented, people moving elsewhere. Finding quality and innovative management might keep a few of them around.
Why 54 percent of companies should stop blocking social media
I've made many of these same points myself, and made passionate arguments against blocking access to social media sites in the office, but I think this may be the most clear and concise list of reasons that I've ever seen.
As they say, go read the whole thing. I couldn't possibly pick out any one passage that would do it justice, but I will say that there is one passage that does merit some further thoughts. That is for a later post.
I saw this post over at Kevin O'Keefe's this morning and realized that there was one sentence that really jumped out at me about social networking, because it's something I don't think a lot of people realize.
Social media is not something to do 'when you have some time' - make time for it or you won't see the benefits.
This is something I see time and time again with people who are new to social networking. They sign up for a Twitter account, or a Facebook account, post a status along the lines of "Just checking this out", and connect to maybe a handful of people they already know. Then they forget about it. A couple of weeks, or a month later, they come back and post another update, something along the lines of "Still trying to see if this works for me", and go back to ignoring it again. Then, maybe they give it a third try a couple of months later. Eventually, they give up and declare the whole thing a waste of time.
It takes more than that. Just like in-person networking, it involves much more than simply showing up at a networking event, saying hello to two people, leaving, and awaiting all that great follow up you heard about. Good networking requires you to spend some time conversing with people, interacting with people, and following up with them. Online networking is no different. Making good connections requires interaction, it requires listening and it requires time and effort. Anything short of that will not lead to the best results.
The great thing about online networking tools, is that the time requirement is actually much less. I can pass along an interesting news item, blog post, or event to hundreds of people at the same time. I can skim through my Twitter stream or Facebook newsfeed and keep up to date on the happenings, and interesting things my connections are sharing, learning more about them and how I might be able to help them in the process, in very little time each day. It's remarkably efficient, and effective, when you take the time to figure out how to work with the tools, and how to really interact with the people you want to connect to.
Building relationships takes time. If you don't have the time to interact with me, why should I want to connect, let alone do business with, you?
Guy Kawasaki calls it Going on the Offensive with Facebook, and lays out some specific examples of how you could do it, but to me, more important than the specifics, is the overall idea.
I love the fact that Guy is willing to look at all of the scare stories about what you shouldn't put on Facebook, and how much that personal info is going to get you in trouble professionally, and counter that with the fact that you can use the tool just as effectively to promote yourself positively as you can negatively!
As I mentioned recently, Facebook and other social networking tools are incredibly effective means of personal communication. That has plusses and minuses, but if you want to promote the positive things about yourself, you've never had a greater opportunity to do so. Don't sanitize your profile, or worse yet, delete your profile out of fear. Rather use all of the aspects of your life to show off the unique characteristics that make you, you, and let your strengths and ambitions come to the forefront of your profile. Show us what you're made of, and why you're worth paying attention to, or working with.
Social Networking does expose the worst about people when they don't think about what they're saying, but it can also be a great tool to expose the good about yourself. Use it to do just that!
This actually goes double for you if you are, in fact, a douchebag. Go ahead and make that easier for me to find out ahead of time, m'kay? ;-)
As many of you know, I've been in DC this week, swamped with the ILTA09 conference, not just as an attendee, but also as a speaker. I was asked, many months ago, to be part of a presentation on social networking.
I've already mentioned that I thought the session went well, but wanted to write up a brief post about the basic point I tried to make there.
Social Networking is not something brand new to be scared of, it is the same behavior we've always engaged in, communicating, connecting, sharing, etc. It is, however, light years more effective than any way in which we engaged in that behavior before, and that has ramifications, both positive and negative.
On the positive side, it's never been easier to connect to people. The barriers to entry online have never been lower, it takes very little technical knowledge to create a Facebook account, for example, and that has fueled an explosion in the number of people using the internet to network with each other. There are thousands of social networks that exist online, all it really takes is finding out where the folks you want to connect are spending their time, and then getting involved!
Of course, that efficiency also means that it's never been easier to make a jackass of yourself, and have the whole world know about it. It also means that it's never been easier for other people to do things that impact how others may see you. The example I gave, you might not be stupid enough to drunk tweet, but the people you're drinking with might be that stupid and they might talk about you! Same damage done.
So, as you folks go back from the ILTA conference and try to talk to your firms about social networking, try to focus on the fact that it's not some brand new scary thing. It's networking, in a much more efficient manner, with all the benefits and risk that any networking holds!
I noticed that the latest version of the Firefox Delicious add-in allows you to not only tag and save a page, but also to send to contacts, or to Twitter.
That's in line with something I've been tossing around in my head of late, finding an easy way to share some of the links I'm posting to Delicious, and subsequently to this blog's RSS feed in a daily summary, to Twitter. I don't anticipate sending every bookmark to Twitter, but I will be experimenting with it. If you follow me there, let me know what you think, and if it's too much!
Fourth Rule of Knowledge Workers - Blocking is Somewhat Pointless
It's been a little while since I wrote anything in this series, Part 3 was way back on June 21st, which just goes to show how time can really get away fro you! So, here's the next topic for discussion, why blocking social networking sites may just be pointless.
First, let's examine the reasons, as I see them, that many management and IT types give for blocking.
1. It's not productive, it leads to people wasting time instead of working. 2. It's dangerous, employees might leak confidential information or just say something that makes us look bad. 3. We're worried about virus and malware exploits coming from social networks, or bandwidth being unavailable for other uses.
Of these, I can see maybe half a real reason to not allow social networking sites, but even that reason is somewhat disingenuous in many cases. Let's take them one at a time.
1. People have been wasting time long before the internet, in more ways than I could possible recite in a blog post. Some people waste just a few minutes at work each day, but always manage to get their work done as needed, and some don't. If you really think the people who work for you who are not getting their work done suddenly will because they can't use Twitter, you are obviously too naive to work in management. Go do something else. Besides, as I like to say, if you have employees not doing their job, why on earth are you talking to the IT Department about that instead of HR? You have a personnel issue, not a technical one.
2. Yup, they might do something or say something they shouldn't online, just like they might do the same thing every time they pick up a phone, send an email, chat at lunch in a crowded restaurant, talk about work to friends at the ball game, etc. You have policies covering confidential information and employee conduct, those still apply in the online world, it's not any different. Instead of blocking, just remind them of existing policy, and that they apply on Facebook too.
Also, if you're blocking because you don't want employees sharing confidential information, what do you do when they go home? They're probably already using social networks, and probably have 1, 2, maybe 15 profiles, all done on their own time with their own internet access, and you have to go home to see what they might be saying. That makes no sense.
Besides, if you're going with reasons 1 and/or 2 as to why you block social networking sites, any employee with an iPhone or any other sort of mobile phone with internet access gets around you in a heartbeat. So much for being protected from the evils of social networks!
Finally, number 3. I do actually see some rational thought going on here. Social networks do come with certain types of malware dangers, mostly due to their social nature. It's maybe a bit easier to trust a link from a Facebook friend, for example, and the malware guys seem to be catching on to that. At the same time, though, you have very similar dangers in email, and in many, many other websites. For example, I once witnessed a nice little piece of drive-by malware trying to load on my machine from a banner ad on a Major League Baseball site. Not a site that many people bother blocking, but also not really one that was related to my work. So, while you might eliminate a risk or two by blocking social networks, it won't make you safe by any means. You'd be far, far better off investing your resources in solutions that will help eliminate all risks of malware coming in to the PC, and being passed on to the network, regardless of source. There's always a new source, eventually you end up blocking everything. :)
Also, a note about bandwidth, also something I think there is some reason to be concerned about. Again, blocking social networking might free up some minor bandwidth, but singling out social networks as a source of bandwidth "waste" might also be a bit off base. We've already talked about the fact that there are many professional and career benefits in connecting with people in your industry, online or off. So, if you are blocking it for fear of bandwidth shortages, you'd better make sure social networking is less valuable than every other thing you allow to use bandwidth. That goes double for all you bosses that like to stream some music while you work.
To me you really have two choices. You can block all this social networking junk, and just hope that all of your employees who are using it anyway don't do anything stupid. That's a tad ostrich-like for me, personally. Or, you can engage in social networking right alongside your employees, encouraging them to connect with professional and educational resources, reminding them that the online world is just an extension of the world in which we all live and work, and therefore the same rules apply, and showing them that not only are you the boss, but you're also a real live human being with a real family, hobbies, and maybe even a sense of humor.
Of course, that might come as quite the shock to many of them, so do be careful!
A couple of folks in the comments there have already pointed out the obvious, being subscribed to someone on Friendfeed, and maybe seeing just the headline of a blog post included in my feed, does not an RSS subscriber make. In fact, as I've pointed out many times, while I'm happy to pull all my various stuff on to Friendfeed and make it available in one place as a convenience to you, I really don't like the fact that my full text RSS feed gets reduced to a lousy headline there. I think that makes Friendfeed a crappy way to interact with RSS feeds. Given the fact that traffic from Friendfeed to my blogs is basically non-existent, I assume that the folks on Friendfeed who want to read my blog are subscribed to it elsehwere for the full feed, and now being counted again as subscribers, for no good reason. On top of that, since Friendfeed is lumping everyone together, both of my blogs, and I assume the blog I occasionally write technology posts for, are getting the same subscriber counts, when it's obvious to anyone who looks through my subscribers that very few of them would have any interest in reading both blogs.
In fact the subscriber numbers for my Child Abuse Survivor blog, which draws very few tech-savvy readers likely to use RSS, went up close to 300% today. I highly doubt any of the 153 Friendfeed-reported subscribers even know it's included there, let alone read it!
Don't get me wrong, I've always taken subscriber counts with a grain of salt. Just because Bloglines reports a number doesn't mean all of those people even still use Bloglines, or log in and read anything, for example, but I could at least figure the actual number of folks reading was some percentage of what was reported, and be pretty accurate. Now, that percentage got a lot lower, and I'm not sure subscriber counts mean anything at all.
I can either ignore the increase in subscriber counts, or pull my blog feeds out of Friendfeed so they don't get polled any more. Given the paucity of traffic or comments from my Friendfeed stream, I'm tempted to do the latter. However, that would go against my theory of pulling the blog posts to any number of different services (Twitter, Facebook, RSS, etc.) so that you, the reader, can follow along wherever you already hang out. So, I'll just ignore the increased subscriber counts. They are truly meaningless.
They've also added the ability to be logged in to multiple Twitter accounts. Both are very, very welcome additions. Now if they can just get customizable column widths, I might actually have everything I want from the application, at least until I find something else to complain about. :)