Intro to Networked Collaboration

Why Twitter?

Lots of people don’t ‘get’ Twitter when they first try it, but like any social network, it doesn’t work until you are following lots of people aligned with your interests, and people are following you. And because it’s such a simple idea/interface, I think it’s nuances and advantages might be elusive, but I can give you some pretty strong reasons for using Twitter and why it’s not ‘useless’:

1. Spidering and interconnectivity between platforms
One big reason is that when you ‘tweet’, it spiders out to many different platforms. Twitter also allows for interconnecting between platforms. You can connect your ‘tweets’ so that they show up on your Facebook status, as sms messages to and from mobile phones, and within instant messaging like Google chat.

So, for example, I can tweet from my mobile phone, and it instantly goes to all these things: my Facebook status, on the Twitter website, my buddies’ IM windows (Google chat or AIM, depending on how they’ve set it up), and for those who’ve set up to receive on their mobile, to my buddies’ mobiles. That’s one action (me tweeting from my mobile) that goes to 4 different platforms. Now that’s efficient!

When something like this makes my life simpler by taking one effort and multiplying its effects, that’s cool

and speaking of multiplying effects…

2. Google loves Twitter
Meaning that if you want to move up in the Google search ranks, Twitter or microblogging in general, is a great way to do that.

Let’s say that you’d like to drive traffic to your band’s site (or your company site or a project site, etc). Then what you’d want to do is optimize search engine results – to move your site up in Google rankings and to have lots of hits associated with that so that naturally moves people toward your site. That’s called Search Engine Optimization or SEO. (That’s my rough definition of SEO – anyone else is welcome to try to clarify that).

Google loves new information, so when it gets fresh info from blogs and microblogging sites like Twitter, Jaiku, Pownce, and things like that, those show up high in the search rankings.

A couple of links on Twitter & SEO:
Twitter, SEO, and Online Marketing: You’re Missing the Point
Twittering for SEO

Are you trying to create more online presence for yourself, your band or your company? Then you need to be on it.

3. Breaking news
I now get most of my breaking news from Twitter. Because it’s so immediate and mobile, it’s an ideal platform for distributing breaking news. Check out Here’s how reporters use Twitter for an idea of how journalists and news services are using Twitter.

4. Mobility
Like I said before, I love that I can tweet from my mobile. I just send a msg to 40404 and it instantly updates several platforms. I can also receive my friends’ tweets by mobile (and you can specify which ones). There are also a host of different Twitter clients that make it super-easy to update on the go, like Twittelator for iPhone or TwitterBerry for Blackberry.

5. Easy!
The ‘tweets’ are limited to 140 characters at a time, so it’s easily do-able. It’s almost like writing a haiku – short poetry that’s search-friendly. 🙂
I’m not the kind of person that keeps a blog on a regular basis, but even I can do 140 characters once a day!

So I do my one or two tweets a day, from my mobile, or from a Twitter client, or the web, or whatever, and it keeps my friends ‘in touch’ but it also provides visibility for whatever I tweet about.

Some links to consider:

Student ‘Twitters’ his way out of Egyptian jail — a student covering anti-government protests in Egypt got arrested and was able to send a one-word tweet that got him help getting out of jail

Business TV: Peter Shankman explains Twitter in a paragraph – short n sweet explanation from PR & social media guru Peter Shankman, founder of Help a Reporter. Note: Peter built his Help a Reporter community, which connects reporters with news sources, strictly from using Facebook and Twitter. Within 3 months of starting, he had about 20,000 members and it continues to grow exponentially.

Clive Thompson covers the idea of “ambient awareness” really well in his NY Times article Brave New World of Digital Intimacy

The question isn’t “Why use Twitter?” but rather, “How can I leverage Twitter to work for me?”

I think there are two things that you must do before making a quick-snap judgment about it being useless, so that you can make it work for you and see some advantages:

1. Find people to follow that are in your industry and scope of interests

Whatever you’re into, be it journalism or music or marketing or international development, etc…find the people on Twitter that are involved in and talk about those issues.
For example, if you’re into journalism, check out How journalists can master Twitter .
Go to and do a search on your topic of interest and see who’s talking about what and add them accordingly. For example, are you into international development? Try typing in “international development” and see what results you get. Try another one – you’ll be surprised at the amount of intellectual discussion that goes on via tweeting.

2. Listen and give feedback

Part of building community is also being community. If you want to tweet announcements about your band/company/project/etc, that’s fine, but if your tweets are ‘one-way’ and you only tweet to tell people about upcoming gigs, you’re really not having a conversation. People can usually smell marketing a mile away. Just be real. Tweet in the moment. Give feedback and reply when you feel moved to. It’s about building relationships. This is not just about Twitter, but about social media in general. If you want to have online presence, and you want people to talk about your project/idea/company/etc, then you have to be a good listener too.

Ok, so my challenge to you all is to find Twitterers that are involved in things that align with your interests. Share who you find with everyone in class by posting those Twitterers to our Twitter roll page. This will be part of next week’s assignment.

Happy tweeting!

October 16, 2008 Posted by | tools and methodologies | , , , | 6 Comments

On convergence and participation

In Convergence Culture, Jenkins writes, “Convergence is a word that manages to describe technological, industrial, cultural, and social changes depending on who’s speaking and what they think they are talking about.” I must say that I was relieved to read this sentence! Over the course of this week the notion of convergence has been simmering on the back burner of my mind, and I’ve been asking myself what exactly we mean when we talk about convergence. Apparently it’s quite subjective! To me, the most interesting interpretation of convergence is the merging of old and new media delivery systems as a result of (or resulting in) a change in cultural participation. For the rest of this post, this is the interpretation of convergence I’ll be using.

A huge example of convergence in our recent media history was ABC’s decision to begin airing full episodes of the network’s shows online. Critics of the move predicted that once viewers began watching full episodes online, they wouldn’t return to watching ABC programming on television. Perhaps, however, it doesn’t matter if viewers begin watching most of their television online. Could this be the beginning of a new convergence trend? reported that in May 2008, ABC viewers watched “a record 815 million minutes of full-length episodes during the month, a 53 percent increase over the previous month and an increase of nearly 110 percent over May 2007. The full report is HERE. My own experience with ABC’s online episodes was one that actually increased my television viewing. I often come home late at night after bartending and want to watch something besides infomercials. I got hooked on “Desperate Housewives,” “Brothers and Sisters,” and “Pushing Daisies” through online episodes, and soon I was making time in my schedule to watch the new episodes as they aired on TV. What a sly way to get me addicted to three ABC shows!

I came across another interesting example of media convergence today. I do some work at Sirius Satellite Radio on the Metropolitan Opera Channel. The Met Channel is a recent project with a goal of making a wide range of full-length Metropolitan Opera recordings available to the listening public. As the channel’s popularity has grown, the demand for older and more obscure operas has increased. This afternoon I was uploading a 1935 recording to the system and my supervisor remarked that this particular opera had never been broadcast. When it was recorded in 1935, the three-plus hours of music were all contained on large wax-like discs that held five minutes of music each. With the improvement of sound restoration technology, it is now possible to merge this extremely old form of media delivery with a very new form—satellite radio. Exciting!

The Hopkins reading intrigued me with its thoughts about participation (and by extension, participatory culture.) To live is to participate. We are, by default, participating. It would follow that there is no non-participatory culture, so all culture must be participatory. The question then becomes not “will I participate?” but “how will I participate?”

September 18, 2008 Posted by | convergence | , , , , , | 5 Comments

Brett’s first assignment

I thoroughly enjoyed reading about Shibuya and Helsinki. I see
convergence as Jenkins describes “going on inside the brain” of one
person’s experience, choices explicit or unconscious about media and
the effect on freedom of ideas, understanding, constructed reality,
use of the mind, etc. rather than as he defines about “technological,
industrial, cultural, and social changes” that sound pretty exogenous
to the individual’s experience to me so far.  The meaning of the youtube remark may refer to his beliefs  “old and new media collide”, “power of the media producer and media consumer interact in unpredictable ways”, and “flow of content across multiple media platforms” (the notion “each of us constructs our own personal mythology from…information extracted from the media flow…” is definitely worth talking about later).

I do definitely agree that none of us knows the rules about this new interchange between
readers/viewers/users and the monolith media mediators (owners,
editors, publishers, producers, advertisers, sold-out-journos, etc.)
in participatory culture.  I am glad of that because we have the
chance to shape them to our liking beyond what any collectively dumb
congress could dream up. The notion that some individuals have greater
abilities to participate in this emerging culture however, also holds
true for the culture we are emerging from. Many people have been kept
without voice in that system. Not sure the emerging participatory
culture will correct that inequity since not everyone is participating
in this gadget game of ‘market forces’.

The readings raise questions for me about the emergent redefinition of
the public space, the nature of our intimate relationships, our self
identities. All the while reading, I am asking myself about what
actually constitutes communication or discourse, which is the most
important thing to me.

My greatest inspirations of life have been the kind of alchemy of
ideas I experience in NYC, or I imagine transpired in Toledo in Iberia
in the Middle Ages when the great classical texts were translated from
Greek, Latin, Hebrew and Arabic into vernacular languages and the
ruling Arab sultanate gave us the Astrolab and enabled Europe to
develop the culture which led to the Renaissance, the Enlightenment,
and the world we currently know. This translation was done in teams,
so bi-lingual or tri-lingual individuals could discuss the meaning of
a word or a text before committing quill pen to paper.  This is what I
love about NYC, we come together from all over the world, the nation
and mix, collide and experiment with our knowledge, ideas and dreams
to create a new world based on a combined vision and skillsets to do
it. My greatest dreams would have been working in Alexandria in
Alexander the Great’s Library, or in Amsterdam hanging out with

So far, the communication I see in this networked world is different.
It do not see it so much as about inspiring discourse yet, but more
about freedom of association, change in family power, ability to
construct a new space of our own making nested within real space, and
ability to find and connect with people who at least symbolize freedom
to us.  In this way, I see it as akin to the freedoms observed by
wealthy western women in the 1900s by the proliferation of the
bicycle.  No longer did she need a man (even a servant) to drive a
carriage, or to stay all day in the company of her family on dark
shaded porches or on long walks in parks or on lawns. She could take
off for a while on her own, or with chosen companions to pass some
time and have conversations out of earshot of chaperones and monitors.
I think it has been said that such movements as ‘women’s suffrage’
and the Red Cross may have been enabled by this new independence for
the feminine power. This kind of thing is clearly happening now for
some young people on the planet with these technologies.

I do see the SMS thing as a great way to poll, to elicit engagement
and action from the crowd in the moment like in the Philippines. This
is very cool and much needed in our world, but I also care a great
deal about media literacy, commitment and responsibility for
self-education and self-informing, and representative samples in the
crowd that must go along with these new emergent powers for
‘democratic movement’ and any perceived ‘rights’ that may attach to
these new ways.

The SMS culture or virtual space does challenge my increasingly
emergent and gratifying practice of mindfulness which calls me to be
present with the people and situations I am with in the moment
(although when I am on my own or working at my desk I love the
Internet). I do not carry a blackberry or iphone for that reason, and
I still switch it off when I am in meetings, meals, and cars so that I
can be present, look deeply into eyes, see subtle facial expressions
or sense changes in emotion that speak powerfully to me, pickup on
tiny threads of words and thought, open a new train of thought, keep
my eyes on the road, etc.

I am inspired by citizen journalism and emergent alternative media to
replace the FCC licensed stuff which is failing us. I am inspired by
the concept of the Mash-up from the point of view of breaking down
barriers of information and understanding, and am committed
professionally to trying to develop tools and protocols and prototypes
that can really enable that kind of real discourse at which I marvel.

So, I am not yet inspired by what I see happening with the mobile
internet as concerning ideas, discourse and true learning from each
other. The Helsinki concept of live, work, collaborate is the part of
all of this that inspires me, rather than the street culture, virtual
world thing described in Shibuya.  In many ways, the mobile and media
convergence culture described at Shibuya or Helsinki looks to me to be
a continuation of a media experience that probably started in the US
in the 1950s, a movement toward constructed realities by homogenous
groups and conformity around suburban mass-materialist culture enabled
by new media (i.e. broadcast TV in the 1950s, game shows, variety
shows, Mickey Mouse Club, Romper Room, Miss America pageants, etc.),
technocracy, and the change in discourse observed through the
broadcasting career of Walter Cronkite, which bibliomane or
bibliophile still lament. But, I am optimistic about the prospect of
new media forms and practices that can take us further toward
realizing the true potential of not the technologies, but of greater
merger of human viewpoints, knowledge, thought and inspiration in a
Quantum way on a troubled planet, once we learn more about how to do
what the translation teams did in Toledo.

Re: social networks I like to use. LinkedIn has been an amazing way to
find old friends and colleagues from around the world, and to now stay
permanently connected (as long as we keep our profiles updated with
current contacts). That has been the greatest joy. I haven’t really
met anyone new from LinkedIn beyond some superficial connections for
business yet.  LibraryThing is the other social network I love because
it is based all about our personal library books as content of the
personal profile. This really allows you to know something about a
person, and to connect with people who share your quirky interests
(and who have proven their commitment by reading these many long
books). I have not begun to scratch the surface of that one, but have
invested in uploading my library and writing reviews of my favorite
books. A Small World has been a kind of funny one to connect with
friends around the world of a more purely social nature, although not
as daring or intimate as myspace or facebook.

September 7, 2008 Posted by | culture, social networking | , | 2 Comments

Erin’s First Week Assignment

Henry Jenkins says that convergence culture is where old and new media collide. Converging media is all around us, and has been all around us for some time. In the 1870s, telegraph technology collided with Bell’s new technology to create a new media; the telephone. Highway billboards have become large TV screens in increasing numbers, tapes have given way to digital music technology in the form of CDs and mp3s, VHS media has met its digital future in the DVD and Blu-ray disc, direct marketing has progressed from catalog mailings to telemarketing to email marketing to text message advertising, TV viewers are spending more and more time watching YouTube videos, and digital written communication is moving away from email towards online communities like MySpace and Facebook. These examples illustrate progressions from one media type to another, but perhaps convergence culture signifies something more. Convergence culture implies a situation where the collision of old and new media produces a noticeable cultural shift. One could argue that all of the above have created cultural shifts, and yet Jenkins says, “YouTube is the fullest embodiment of convergence culture”. Perhaps he is alluding to the participatory nature of YouTube (he goes on to speak about “participatory culture”). YouTube is a prime example of participatory culture. It is only successful when users participate, i.e. upload their own media content and view the content of others.

Each new wave of media that rolls into our culture corresponds to a different point in my life. Email became mainstream as I was graduating from high school. The internet became highly accessible during my freshman year in college. I saw a mobile phone for the first time during my junior year, and I bought my first cell phone three years later when I moved to Manhattan. I now rely heavily on email, Facebook, and texting. I see the genius behind i-mode’s targeting of Japan’s child/adolescent market. These technologies hit me when I was in my late teens and early twenties, and as much as I do use email, Facebook, and texting, I can imagine them being even more ingrained in my life had I been exposed to them as a child.

I find that Facebook has changed the way I interact with specific groups of people. It’s incredibly easy to let all my Vermont friends know when I’m driving up to visit my parents. When my dog had kennel cough (highly contagious!) I alerted all my dog park friends at the touch of a button. If I’m singing in something or going to see a show, I can invite my music and theatre friends through Facebook. Casting directors are beginning to form groups on Facebook to make it easier for actors and singers to submit themselves for projects. Lastly (and somewhat to my embarrassment), my roommates and I regularly leave notes for each other on Facebook instead of walking out to the kitchen and writing on the dry-erase board on the fridge! Food is optional; Facebook is not.

September 7, 2008 Posted by | collaboration, convergence, culture, social networking | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Convergence Culture

I use LinkedIn and use (but usually don’t post to) comments on Amazon, BestBuy, etc. LinkedIn is an incredible way to network for business — hugely convenient and saves a tremendous amount of time. I didn’t grow up with cellphones, e-mail, texting, Facebook, etc. It seems that the introduction of all of these is both a great advance, and yet in some ways a burden because we have the ability to be constantly connected. The benefit of being able to conduct business at anytime–anywhere, for instance must be significantly increasing our productivity, but aren’t we losing something in the process?Also, I think it’s fascinating to see the large number and wide range of web communities. I’m a gardener and there are forums on the most esoteric topics. Again, I think this presents positives and negatives. How great to be able to converse with someone, in England about ferns (if that’s what you’re into), but are we spending so much time communicating about ferns that we don’t have time to be out there planting them?

February 7, 2008 Posted by | culture, social networking | , , | 4 Comments

Convergence Culture

In the Henry Jenkins reading, he is quoted as saying “YouTube is the fullest embodiment of convergence culture.” What is meant by that?
YouTube is the most widely used network for gathering and sharing videos. Everyone “converges” there for information. YouTube permits everyone, everywhere to share information and create content of any kind to be shared with anyone around the world. You can access any type of media: news, music, interviews, classic commercials etc. It can also be used by students, companies and political parties who want to share a message. It allows everyone and everything to have their “15 minutes of fame”.

What is “participatory culture”?
A participatory culture is people sharing ideas, creating projects, getting involved in community affairs and knowledge sharing. This culture makes you feel like you are part of something bigger and facilitates making connections to those around you who may share the same ideas and interests.

What are some of the social networks you use and why do you use them?
Honestly, I created a Facebook, MySpace and LinkedIn page for past courses and rarely if ever use them. While they all facilitate networking, I find that I don’t have the time to post daily or connect with people in that way. I prefer simple email and the phone. My colleagues who do use them, do so for photo and music sharing, networking, dating, advertising, party planning, and catching-up with old friends.

How have technologies like sms/text messaging, youtube, and myspace changed the way that we interact?
SMS & Texting: These technologies have taken away face to face time. Sure they have made life easier and perhaps more interesting, but I miss the “real” interactions.

Youtube: I absolutely love it. Being able to watch old music videos, relive my youth with vintage food/toy commercials is simply amazing. The community of Youtube is a special breed, someone is always posting new content for the most obscure subjects.

Myspace: Don’t use it.

February 5, 2008 Posted by | convergence, culture | , , , | 9 Comments