Categorymicro media

Berlinblase is back

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Berlinblase.deWith Barcamps abound and the Web2Expo just around the corner, it’s time to once more kick off a few side projects. One I’m particularly fond of is Berlinblase. (I hinted at it here.) Johannes Kleske was so kind to write up a neat brief summary, so please allow me to simply quote at length:

Yep, we’re back! After our first attempts with rather spontaneous group-mashup blogging for the Berlin web week (Barcamp Berlin 2 and Web 2.0 Expo) last year, we intend to take it to a new level this time. Tumblr is awesome and helped us to get things started but we want more. And WordPress looked so damn hot … that’s why we set up this new group blog. Content-wise we will cover a lot more then last year, starting today with the Barcamp in Stuttgart. Look to the top right for a list of all the main events we will be bubbling from. We will still aggregate all the interesting articles, pics and media bits about these events. But we will also bring you a lot more original content and personal opinions from our crew, flavored with tasty podcasts, spicy interviews and of course, delicious live twittering. As you know, we are very passionate about the various spheres x.0. We have met some of the most amazing people and found truly mind blowing ideas in ‘this thing’ we affectionately call “the bubble 2.0”. We love to hype the cool stuff like crazy. But we will also call you out if you give us BS ;-) So, a hot new season of conferences and barcamps is upon us and we will try to be your inside source. But most of all we’re looking forward to meet as much of you guys as possible. Because in the end, we’re in this for the friendships and yes, the cold ones with old and hopefully many, many new friends. Keep on bubbling! Peace.

Next-generation marketing: It’s the groups, stupid!

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David Cushman of Faster Future has this neat presentation about how PR works completely differently in networked environments, like on the web or mobile devices. It’s all about group behavior:

David Cushman: Adapting brands to the networked world.

(via End Of Control)

Seven rules for a corporate presence on Twitter

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Twitter still seems to be one of the bigger mysteries for many folks out there, particularly in the corporate sphere. No surprise, it’s one of those phenomena that aren’t easily understood at a first glance. (When looking at a few hundred web 2.0 services for a study I was working on, Twitter was one of the very few – maybe the only one – I thought wasn’t even worth signing up for. Err, right.)

So all the better that Joel Postman over at Socialized shares his experiences with corporate Twitter accounts. His seven rules for success:

  1. Create a Twitter profile that helps people verify your legitimacy
  2. Let consumers know who they are talking to
  3. Empower your Twitter representative to make a difference
  4. Protect consumer information
  5. Include your social media affiliations on your corporate web site news page
  6. Be human, and have a sense of humor
  7. Turn control over to “regular” employees

That’s the short-short version, so don’t miss out on Joel’s more in-depth explanations. Also, to get a better understand Twitter and where they’re coming from, I recommend this video interview with Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey on Vator TV. Jack Dorsey spent 15 years writing dispatch software for couriers, taxis and 911, so he’s very familiar with the concept of background noise and what has been called :

Tooltips for syncing slides and video

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VCASMO is a pretty neat tool to sync video and slides. Just sayin’. VCASMO syncs videos fromm youtube or similar sources, and slideshows from slideshow.com. It’s a great little mashup, the results can be embedded either 440 pixels wide (as seen above) or 850 pixels wide:


Then there’s the Adobe Air based service Parleys, which looks very slick indeed. I can’t seem to find the embed code, so I can’t really tell if it’s embeddable. Here’s a demo. (Here’s a quick run-through of Parleys.com’s publishing tool.)


Omnisio actually looked the most promising, judging by the user interface and overall smoothness. It seems, however, like Google has aqcuired the service and is integrating parts of it into YouTube, namely into YouTube annotations. Sadly, that means you cannot create new slideshows with Omnisio. Also, the annotations seemed to be the most annoying part in the demos I watched. (I turned off the annotations after a few moments each time.) Let’s see where we’ll see Omnisio again:

</p> <div><a href='https://www.omnisio.com'>Share and annotate your videos</a> with Omnisio!</div> <p>

Update: The latter two services were added after the initial publish.

Learn from the Fail Whale: failing doesn’t need to hurt

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If there’s one thing all Twitter users have in common, it’s that they’ve experienced down time. Twitter is famous for it’s long and regular down times, and since the service is growing so fast, it will continue to be unavailable fairly frequently for quite a while. Usually, with the fickle web audience, this would mean the end of the service. Not so for Twitter. Twitter users aren’t a more forgiving bunch than others – it’s a lot of early adopters on the service which usually wouldn’t mind shooting down a service that doesn’t do what it promises. So why does Twitter get away with it?

Twitter's Fail Whale

It’s the Fail Whale, the image that is displayed whenever Twitter is “over capacity”. Every Twitter user is familiar with the Fail Whale.

Of course, it’s not the Fail Whale itself. But the whale is a symbol here, it stands for Twitter’s open, relaxed, ironic and fun way of handling their problems. “Look, we sometimes screw up, but we’ll try to make it fun for you,” they seem to think.

And it works! Not only do Twitter users forgive their favorite micro blogging service all their problems. The Fail Whale has grown its own fan base, and it has even been seen in the wild. Check out the myriad of Fail Whale variations and references on Flickr, a few of which I picked below. (Could you imagine a huge fan base for your average “404 – file not found” page? I think not.)

Image by Scott Beale / Laughing Squid of laughingsquid.com. Image licensed under CC. LED Whale Love” by Scott Beale / Laughing Squid. Licensed under Creative Commons (by-nc-sa). More on the LED Fail Whale here.

another fail whale by Flickr user emdot another fail whale” by emdot. Licensed under Creative Commons (by-nc-sa).

Fail Whale @ the library by flickr user Timothy Greig Fail Whale @ the library” by Timothy Greig. Licensed under Creative Commons (by-nc-sa).

Lesson learned? Your service/company/organization doesn’t have to be perfect in the web 2.0 sphere. That doesn’t mean that it’s ok to launch with a crappy, buggy beta and think your users will fix everything. But it means that if you’re conscious about your problems and communicate them openly and in a relaxed, fun way, chances are your users will stick with you. Don’t pretend to be perfect – nobody is – but talk to your users. The more open, the better.

Presentation: “What the f**k is social media?”

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Always a big fan of neat visualizations, particularly of complex topics, I found I really liked this 101 on social media by Marta Z. Kagan. Titled “What the f**k is social media“, Marta gives a quick, easy-to-understand rundown of the basic terminology paired with well-presented thoughts on why social media matter:

You can find more in Marta’s blog.

(via CyberSoc)

Workshop on social media in higher education (follow-up)

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As mentioned before, earlier this week I had the chance to hold a workshop on social media in higher education at Universitat Oberta de Catalunya (UOC). (Slides below or on Slideshare). It was a great group, very active and engaged despite their completely different backgrounds and the language barrier. (Thanks guys!)

Special thanks, again, to Josep Maria Duart, who invited me and Carlos Albaladejo, who organized everything (including a lot of green cables) and blogged live from the workshop.

(This presentation is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution Sharealike, so you can use it both non-commercially or commercially as long as you do two things: a) reference me as the author and b) share your stuff under the same license.)

The workshop was roughly divided into three parts: A bit of Web 2.0 theory, just the basics plus some case studies of social media use in higher education; Then a practice session where we’d split up and play around with blogs, Flickr, Twitter etc; And a final part where the audience would share their experiences and we’d develop new ideas for social media use in the classroom.

This structure seemed to work quite well; maybe a stronger focus on practical applications would have made sense, i.e. maybe I should have shown more tools & tricks. Altogether, though, I have a good feeling everybody learned a fair bit, including me:

1.) Twitter, it was agreed on, isn’t the primary choice for in-class teaching. Which totally makes sense here, given that UOC is a virtual university and everything is done online anyway. Also, Twitter tends to draw a lot of attention, so you want to factor in some extra time for discussion if you show Twitter (which worked fairly stable – no fail whale sightings at all!). Twitter, it was proposed, would make a good presentation tool: “Begin with twitter, use it for presenting tools, end with theory.” By the way, nothing beats the effect of discovering your colleagues posting live, it’s always a blast:

Twitter: First Post

2.) Blogs and Wikis are a great start for university courses to start using social media. Wikis are harder to maintain as the entry barrier (syntax and writing culture) is higher. Blogs are easy to start, and I was glad to hear that one department was afraid of enabling comments until they noticed that the comments were overwhelmingly constructive – now they’re open and not moderated. Great!

3.) Flickr can be useful, but it’s probably won’t be a key service for your classroom – unless you are looking for photos licensed under a Creative Commons license that allows you to use the photos for free as long as you link back to the source. You can search for those photos here.

4.) Etiquette in our times of digital social network is still evolving, and quickly. What do we post online, why and how do we post? Should teachers be Facebook friends of their students? How much of a role do cultural differences between the U.S. and Europe play when interacting online?

5.) One thing, however, clearly stood out. Everybody agreed there is one major issue with everything Web 2.0: Time. Time, time and time. Maintaining social web tools like wikis, Facebook or Twitter takes time, and a lot of it. Where should that extra time come from, or where else can we save it?

To wrap this post up, here’s a few more links.

Links & tools that might be useful:

  • Google Feedreader to follow many RSS feeds more easily
  • Summize.com to scan Twitter for interesting conversations about certain keywords
  • del.icio.us to collect your bookmarks and share them with friends and colleagues (my bookmarks for elearning)

Useful articles, posts and blogs:

Thanks again everybody for the great time, and please feel free to get in touch anytime via email or Twitter.