Archive for February, 2011
In response to the commentary by Erik Sherman at bNet called So, Why Does the Air Force Want Hundreds of Fake Online Identities on Social Media? and this posted discussion question by Steven L. Johnson, this post will look at the ethics of government use of social media.
When governments become involved with social media and its use to spread propaganda and attempt to influence others, there are two sides of the coin. The one side, it can be looked at as completely unethical and opposite to the purpose of existence for government. This is especially true when the attempts are used against its own populace. Our government is in place to serve its constituents, not to push its propaganda back on to them. However, on the other side of the coin, it can be a valuable asset for espionage/infiltration and monitoring potentially dangerous groups before any type of incident arises. Creating fake online personas is just another tool for them to utilize. The government already spends billions of dollars on physical persons to influence opinion, maybe this way, they can move away from spending so much on the physical people and digital personas to accomplish the same thing at a fraction of the cost.
As with everything, the more you want security, the more you lose your freedom. I leave you with a paraphrase of the words of Benjamin Franklin, those who give up their liberty for more security, deserve neither.
Social media is being used more and more in everyday situations. However, should it be used in emergency situations?
Social Media’s Role
I think that social media should be used in conjunction with current methods for reporting emergency situations. The nice thing about social media is that it can reach millions of people across the globe in a matter of seconds. However, you never really know if those who can actually do anything about a situation will get the message. The benefit of calling 9-1-1 on the phone is that you know you are talking to someone who can dispatch help to the needed location right away. You have that vocal affirmation.
I would most likely use social media to let family, friends and loved ones know that I was OK if I was in or near an emergent situation. Additionally, I would also use it to let people know that I was in an emergent situation, after the proper authorities were notified. I actually did just that a few weeks ago when I was in a car accident. I first called 9-1-1, AAA, my insurance and towing company, then I took a picture and uploaded it to Facebook to let everyone know I was in a car accident, but that I was OK (Post can be found here).
As I said earlier, social media should be used in conjunction of current emergency methods, not as a replacement. What are your thoughts?
Do you agree or disagree with the importance of social connections when making buying decisions?
I agree with Craig Donato, CEO of Oodle, from his article, Social Commerce and the New Rules For Local Businesses.
People are constantly influenced by their peers and acquaintances. This is seen in the early, developmental stages of kids when they are growing up, and continues well into adulthood. The opions of our friends will usually vastly outweigh those of the most qualified critic. A reason for this could be that a sense of trust is already established between friends, whereas a critic or marketer focus only on the product.
The most relevant example from my own life is when I purchase music. I know my friends who share similar music taste with me, and if they recommend a song/artist/CD, I know I will like it. The same cannot be said with the similar feature in iTunes that tries to determine what music I may like based on my previous purchases. Here, there is too much of a reliance on the hard data and not enough about knowing me as an individual to make adequate selections.
Those who find the majority of their business through word-of-mouth will highly benefit from this type of implementation. Potential customers will see if their friends like/use the company or product and the sense of trust that was instilled in the friendship can carry over for the benefit of the company.
I decided to register for the TopCoder website. Just wanted to see what it was all about and the different opportunities that were available. I filled in all the standard demographic information with registration and proceeded to look around.
On their blog, I found this post about Jack Hughes coming to speak to our class today. I am excited to hear what he has to say and learn more about the community and opportunities.
I decided to try my hand at putting together a short animation using State made by Xtranormal. With this software, you can turn text into a movie. I decided to animate part of the opening sequence to Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog, written by Joss Whedon, Zack Whedon, Jed Whedon, and Maurissa Tancharoen. The original 2008 musical tragicomedy produced for the Internet, tells the story of low-rent supervillain Dr. Horrible, his hero nemesis Captain Hammer, and his romantic interest Penny.
The basics of the software a easy to learn, but it takes time to learn the different nuances, such as camera tracking and gestures. I definitely look forward to putting together my next animation now that I have the basic learning curve out of the way. So, without further ado, here is my animated opening to Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog.
After looking at all the options that were available to me for widgets, I decided on 7 that I thought would really benefit my blog, while not causing over crowding. Those that made the cut were Pages, Recent Posts, Tag Cloud, Websites, Flickr Photos, Archives and Sitemeter. Below, I’ll describe why I decided on these particular ones.
I not only picked the Pages widget, but also decided to have it be the first widget on the right-hand sidebar. This widget lists pages that I create in an easily found location on the top-right of my blog. Pages are, in a sense, more permanent blog posts, or content that people may want to reference more often than the casual blog post. This facilitates the need for quickly finding that information.
I chose Recent Posts as the next item so that wherever the reader is browsing in my blog, they can easily access the most recent information that I have posted.
As I write more and more posts, tagging each as I go, I am interested in what I spent most of my time writing about. The Tag Cloud with show that, as posts that share the same tag will display that tag larger in the cloud than the others. This also provides a way for readers to click on a tag to bring up all posts that share that tag.
Websites are displayed next, which redirect readers to different websites that I use and hold accounts for. This allows them to see some of my other work and get a better idea of who I am.
This was by far the most difficult widget. It involved a lot of customization and coding. I wanted a way to display some of the photos that I have taken over the years in the sidebar as a widget. Flickr has enabled a way for its members to create badges that display their photos that can be posted anywhere on the internet. So, I used the Text widget to paste their code into, and then proceeded to heavily modify it to fit this blog’s layout and theme. Overall, I am very pleased with the result.
In addition to Pages and the Tag Cloud, I wanted to have a way for readers to view older posts without having to page through every single one to get to the one they want. Archives enabled me to do just that in a very elegant manner.
I use Sitemeter to track visits to my blog. In order to enable that, I had to use another Text widget to paste in the code generated by the Sitemeter website. This allows me to keep track of how often my blog is being read.
These widgets have worked great for me so far. Do you use any widgets on your blog? Let me know what you use in the comments below.
Plugins give me great opportunity to customize my blog how I like and track important data. I have settled on 4 important plugins that I use to make this blog successful. Those are cforms, GoogleAnalyticator, Unfiltered MU and Viper’s Video Quicktags. My reasoning for these can be found below.
I use cforms to create and maintain a contact form that visitors can use to contact me. This allows them to write me a message and provide me with a means to respond to that message. Additionally, this plugin can be used to create other forms to gather all types of data. I am sure I will be using more of this plugin in the future.
This adds the necessary code for me to use Google Analytics to track and manage my blog traffic. I can analyze my visitors to better tailor my posts to them, as well as figure out how they are arriving at my blog.
I use this plugin to enable iframes and other HTML code that is normally stripped out when writing a blog post. An example of me using an iframe is on my Photography page. Here, I use it to display a portfolio I put together.
Viper’s Video Quicktags
I found this to be the most efficient way to quickly embed video from internet host providers on my blog. Keep checking back on my blog for an animation that I am working on that will be embedded from YouTube using this method. This makes the whole process very easy.
These plugins have really complemented the work that I am doing on this blog. Do you use any plugins on your blog? Let me know what you use and why in the comments below.
The controversial issues of allowing employees access to Facebook, and other social networking sites, while at work has long been debated. Below, I will discuss my thoughts on whether or not they should be banned, and if I would work for a company that bans the use of these social networking sites.
Do you agree or disagree that “Facebook should be banned in the workplace”?
I agree that there are some places of employment that should not allow employees to access social networking sites, with the understanding that there are plenty that can allow access with business operations remaining unaffected. Occupations that require a higher degree of focus and concentration are among the top of the list that should ban such sites. These social networking sites provide distractions for employees, preventing them from doing their work, or not allowing them to remain completely focused on the tasks that they need to accomplish. This has the potential to lead to costly mistakes and a reduction of current level of business operational efficiency.
However, it should be noted that if employees really want access to these sites, there are ways they can still gain access. One such alternative is through the use of modern smartphones. Most smartphones have ways to access the internet through either a Wi-Fi connection or their cell service. Employers are unable to prevent access with the latter method, and can only prevent access on their own Wi-Fi network.
Would you work for a company that banned the use of Facebook?
I currently do work for a company that bans the use of social networking sites. I agree with this decision because of the fact that I work in a hospital where there are many instances that require the utmost concentration. If an employee is busy wondering if someone replied back to their message or conversation, there is great potential for mistakes to be made. And in a healthcare setting, that is unacceptable.
I currently use social networks for my private, personal life. When I am at work, I do not care if “Roman is having an OK day and bought a Coke Zero at the gas station.” It does not impact my working day, and can wait for my perusal until I arrive home after work. So, for me personally, I would work at a company that bans the use of Facebook and other social networking sites, because I do not feel the need to access them while at work.
I’m interest to hear your thoughts down below in the comments.