Saturday, February 22, 2014

O, the shame of it all!

Leonid Pasternak
Thursday evening, the Social Media Club Columbia had a roundtable on blogging. I sat there with some kind of facial grimace that I hope resembled a smile, all the while remembering that my last post here was, to put it mildly, ancient.

Does it help at all that I poked around to read the blogs of some of the other participants, only to discover that the majority were as neglected as mine? No. I take no comfort in that at all.

In my goal planning for this year at work, I determined that I should create 48 blog posts over the year. That's not an unreasonable goal for a business blog. So far, I'm on target.

I hate to admit it, but sometimes I'm a much better theoretician than practitioner.

I'd appreciate it if you would skip over to the business blog and read the post I wrote for Clean Out Your Computer Day. It's one of those that writes itself for me.

Image: Wikimedia Commons

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Going emo over emoticons

Smiley face 2
Smiley face 2 (Photo credit: Wikipedia) 
When I was a kid (shush!), it was the rage to dot your i's with hearts, and punctuate most things with smiley faces.
Somehow I did end up with a pair of yellow smiley face earrings, and a rather large metal smiley face necklace. I'm not sure how that happened-- must have been a gift. Probably from that person who always used to tell me to smile.
I was a serious holdout. In my weaker moments, I played with the bubble writing, but natch. To this day, I've never used a heart as the dot over an i. Or a flower.
What I do go all curmudgeon about is the smiley face.
The logic is simplistic: Readers can't always glean the substance of the personal written word, and need a hint to understand the emotional overtones of an email. Hence, the proliferation in the use of the emoticon; i.e., the emotive icon.
Yes, I use the :-) quite a bit, and I cringe each time. Actually, I tend to use :) . The big yellow ones didn't have a nose, and it's easier to type. :P
I do have a certain fondness for :P .
But what are we conveying by punctuating our emails with smiling emoticons? Are we saying, "Hey, don't take it personally"? I think sometimes we are.
Just as frequently though, I think that little emoticon is an attempt to pull the wool over the reader's eyes, as in, "Yes, I just said something really nasty, but I'm going to put this little smiley face here so we can both pretend I didn't really mean it that way." Who are we fooling?
I wonder why we feel so inadequate in our written communiques-- both as scribers and as readers-- that we must resort to using a visual representation of our meaning.
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WoW Librarian

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

I'm No Chatty Cathy

Working in social media is a bit of a paradigm shift for me. The fact is, I'm one of those people who can go a very long time without talking. I worried that my children would not learn how to talk, because no matter how good my intention, I would stop vocalizing. My internal dialogue would be going full steam, however.

I'm not much for small talk; I'm capable, but it's not an enjoyable exercise. One of the primary goals of a social media strategy is to engage people in conversation. Now, one might think that the 140 character tweet could circumvent the small talk issue. Um. No. Not for me.

For example, the pundits advise not merely tweeting the link to an article you've found interesting, illuminating, or otherwise noteworthy, but adding a few words to say why you found it noteworthy. My inner voice says, well, I wouldn't have forwarded it if I didn't find it of interest, now would I? Then I sigh and remind myself that ESP is not an ability shared by very many people, and someone else may not find said article as enthralling. Save the time of the reader, whispers Ranganathan.

It's not that I don't have anything to say: I do. My internal dialogue is very busy, and can be very opinionated. Perhaps I censor that inner voice a little harshly.

By this time, if you've stayed with me this long, and you haven't been living under the rock next to my cave, you might suggest I have the classic symptoms of an introvert. And you would be right.

But here's the paradox. A social media platform can be a wonderful mouthpiece for the clown behind the curtain. "I am the great and powerful Oz!", one could bellow, and no one (except that confounded little dog Toto) would know that the voice comes from someone who dreads the prospect of going to a gathering of more than five and having to exchange small talk.

A Google search for "social media introverts" results in a wealth of hits-- 1.4 million. Who knew there were so many introverts out there expressing themselves through Twitter, blogging, and curating content?

I had one of those Chatty Cathy dolls. The novelty wore off with astonishing speed. It was a small talk nightmare. Those eleven sentences were not at all entertaining after the third or fourth repetition.

And that just might be the cause for my silence.
WoW Librarian
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Friday, March 30, 2012

Trending in LinkedIn Today

LinkedInLinkedIn (Photo credit: Christopher S. Penn)
A quick snapshot of my "LinkedIn Today" for March 30 at 11:24 am:
By the time I finished putting this together at 11:32 am, the top story rose to 1527 shares.
Hm. It's all pretty social. 'Magine that.

WoW Librarian
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Wednesday, March 21, 2012

An ex-pat finds a home in a bookstore cafe

I've joined the forces of those who use the neighborhood bookstore cafe as their home office. We hover around the electrical outlets, plugging in our laptops so that we can work at full power. We pay for our seats with extra large coffees and bookstore memberships so we can access the wi-fi. We ask complete strangers-- our office mates-- to watch our things while we head for the restrooms and do a quick browse on our way back.

What brought me to my office away from home? Mostly it's the realization that once I'm home, the distractions are overwhelming and chaos seems to reign. My creative output slows to a trickle, and even dries up. And so I've fled my refuge to find a place where distractions are more easily shut out, including my neighbor who is singing while wearing headphones. I'm an ex-pat from my house.

The ambiance here is casual but studious. The piped-in music is soft. I’ve learned that eavesdropping can be fun. The typical drivel I block out by second nature. But every now and again, the most fascinating conversations tickle my ears; quiet discussions between complete strangers who are just whiling away some time, relaxing and sipping their coffees.

The new strategy is working out thus far. I've set up a schedule, and I'm ticking things off my to-do list. I've updated my LinkedIn profile, and re-written the About page on my website. I've caught up on some other writing; I've made notes for some new blog posts.

I look forward to my nights in the bookstore cafe. Do you have a special place where you find you are more productive? A bolt hole to escape to? Tell us about it in the comments below.

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Queen of the Free

Queen of the free e-book, that is. It's true. If there is a free e-book out there, I'm bound to download it.

I'm one of those people who never seems to have enough information. I research until the last possible minute. And that's a problem. Jill Chivers calls it "drinking from the information fire hydrant". She's identified two kinds of information seeker personalities: the data gatherer and the data analyzer. The gatherers rarely have enough information; the analyzers may not have it all, but often suffer from information overload.

Am I a data gatherer or a data analyzer?

Both, it seems. Which leads me to the next problem: counter-research. Have you noticed that data are like fish on dry land? Flopping about, impossible to catch. Were they always like that? Slippery devils. For every bit of data that says "X", there's another bit that says "Y". Coffee is good for you. Ah, no. It's bad for you. Except on the fifth Thursday of the month, when it's good for you in the morning, but not at night. Sean D'Souza suggests setting an egg timer when you start your research-- no more research when that sand runs out. The data no longer applies, anyway.

Sitting in my Chrome downloads there are four e-book/whitepapers, a report, an mp3, a zip file, and a jpg. Yes, I've listened to the mp3 (a Daniel Pink interview on employee engagement); the zip file has been installed; and the jpg has been shared. The report is an index of technology wages-- that's a keeper. And those four e-books are all on some aspect of social media strategy.

It's positively amazing how much information is out there. Much of it is very useful. Some is well-intended. Some may be perfunctory-- e-books and whitepapers must of course be produced for a successful social media strategy.

Don't get me wrong. I've certainly benefited from many-- if not most-- of those e-books and whitepapers. I'll be writing a few myself, and I hope they'll fall into the useful group and people will download them. Nevertheless, I think it's time to weed my free e-book collection.

By the way, here's a HubSpot article on why e-books are better than whitepapers. And yes, I've already downloaded the free guide to e-book creation. I'll read it while I drink my coffee this afternoon.
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