Category Archives: social media

Technology for marketing & advertising – the event.

As a student, attending one of these events may seem a little daft, but with the promise of sessions discussing topics such as content strategy,  SEO, website design and usability, and the use of analytics and social media metrics how could I afford to miss it?

These topics all have a bearing on my degree subjects and any future career choices based upon that degree, the fact they were coming from the marketing perspective as opposed to a technical one shouldn’t really matter..

Should it?

..But first a word about the event itself, the chosen venue was easy to find as Earls court is directly opposite an underground station – definitely a bonus over a few other events I’ve been to in London, but the wifi was sadly flaky at best and as mentioned by another a blogger in the blur group the event app (should you have been able to locate and download it) was made pretty useless by this fact.

Seating areas were few and far between and the chairs used in the sessions were not designed with short folk like me in mind – It gets very tiring very quickly trying to balance a notepad or laptop on your lap when your feet are swinging 2 inches off the floor! Not exactly a fantastic scenario for someone who suffers from chronic fatigue syndrome when combined with all the travelling and walking attending such an event necessitates.

Session 1

The first session in my ‘not to be missed’ schedule was given by Neil Burton representing Web Spiders the company responsible for creating the seemingly elusive web app for the event.  I have to say he presented his material incredibly well – that may sound patronising but having tried my hand at presenting I know it’s no piece of cake.

He knew his audience and distilled usability principles into bite size demonstrable chunks without naming folk like Schneiderman and Nielsen to get the point across. The one page shopping cart he demonstrated was truly a thing of beauty and had me itching to find out if it was built in flash or used jquery (as you’ll see if you click the link; it’s flash.)

I will admit much of what he covered was old news to me but I admired his delivery. However he also covered something I should have been more aware of but coming from a tech rather than marketing or design background had not really looked into in this way before: multivariable testing along with a useful statistic and source for my soon to be written final report:

22% of companies spending at least £50000pa on seo (source; econsultancy search engine marketing benchmark report 2010)

(So that alone made the trip into London worth it for me)

session 2

The second session I attended was “SEO the latest keys to success; John Heffernan, MediaCo (UK) Ltd.” as I tweeted at the time; some of the information he gave had me arguing with him in my notes so that I wouldn’t vocalise my dissent and disrupt the session.

I’m not an SEO expert – or even practitioner (yet) but having attended more than a few mediaCamps and social media gatherings I know a little more than the average joe – and I like to think that the information I cull from my twitter stream along with the books I read help to add to that knowledge daily.

The claims made about this session were that the audience would:

  1. Gain a clear understanding of what Social Media is in practical business terms.
  2. Gain a clear understanding of Social Media fundamentals and how to get them right

It is these points on which I’d quite strongly disagree.
He had slides with a lot of different social media sites on them, he didn’t mention the need to see which ones fit best with your customer profile but you’d hopefully expect the audience to figure that out for themselves, he did however make the very valid point that in a marketing sense:

Social media is about syndicating content back to you – direct quote.

What he didn’t say ONCE to all these impressionable eager to learn people is that social media as a marketing tool is NOT a broadcast medium. It is about building relationships and hopefully fostering a sense of ownership amongst your audience in order to derive feelings of loyalty and positivity towards your brand.

Yes, he mentioned making link backs natural (and JC Penny was spoken about) and he eventually mentioned that a successful use of social media needed time devoted to monitoring the channels (with HSBC and a prominent house builder given as an example of #fail)

..but the most basic and fundamental thing about social media is that it is SOCIAL, and not once did that observation raise it’s hand.

Despite learning several things of interest during the session that one lack left a taste of disappointment as it felt like I’d seen an intelligent guy almost get it right.

Arrogant of me? Perhaps, but learning is subjective and that was my take away from Johns session.

If you’ve managed to get this far; congratulations! You’ll be pleased to learn I have only one more session to discuss:

Session 3

This was one I’d actually been incredibly excited about after reading the session page on the TFM&A website; Catherine Toole; Kingmakers: why 2011 is the year of the content strategist.

..Perhaps I’d been too excited because the 30minutes of waffle and example upon example boiled down to 2 points:

  1. Reduce effort – make everything as quick and seamless as possible for the user
  2. Use text and images effectively – have professionally written copy so great ideas from the top don’t fall at the bottom rung.

Now to be fair, the lass started on the back foot due to several technical issues (microphone not working, new mic battery died, laptop power started going 5 minutes into the presentation..) so maybe she is normally more of a Neil Burton type of presenter, but my attention began drifting after the 4th slide of examples and her offer to carry on into the lunch break for questions held no appeal for me whatsoever.

That being said, again I received a source that made the trip into London worthwhile; upon her recommendation I’ve read a couple of articles from the Harvard Business Review and can see how this one at least will be a useful citation in my forthcoming report.

Conclusion

After these three sessions I couldn’t summon any enthusiasm for the others I’d jotted into my schedule; my back was killing me from trying to balance on the slightly too high chairs and my disappointment at not learning as much as I’d hoped in those sessions was tempered slightly by the knowledge I know more on those subjects than I previously thought.
I wish I’d taken the time to track down the web spiders stand but as I had company it was hard to fit in the things we both wished to do – I’m especially gutted I gave into tiredness when I did as it meant I missed out on meeting up with @farhan who was also in attendance and tweeted the fact while my train was heading homewards, but all told it was a good day.

..and having a small child exclaiming in delight over the red ball and flower pen I obtained for her from the confex side just made it all that more worthwhile *grin*

Murder, she wrote..

Stef was nagging me about my salt and butter intake due to the fact being a CFS sufferer apparently has me in the ‘high risk’ category for heart problems, he then made a joke about how nobody would notice if I carked it so long as he continued to tweet and facebook in my place (and he could since he has all my passwords) and it made me realise how right he is.

I wonder when someone will resurrect murder she wrote and use this premise for a kidnap or murder victim – if you can’t prove when someone actually went missing how can you even think to find them?

..and what about my previous idea of how twitpic and similar mobile photo sharing sites could ruin a persons life if a total stranger took your picture and tweeted that if they shouldn’t make it home then the subject of the image would be to blame – it’s a scary world in which we live now folks, the paranoia crew can seriously mess with your mind ;0p

The truth about online social media

Having a blog or a twitter account or even an openly searchable facebook account leaves you at a social disadvantage offline.

Before the internet and this new ‘open social’ approach to sharing the minutiae of your life, you could meet and talk to a new acquaintance without many preconceived notions about them – and vice versa.

Now, the colleague you have barely exchanged 3 words with will suddenly reference a personal event in passing conversation leaving you with a slight gut punched ‘how did they know about THAT’ sensation.

It lasts a brief second before common sense kicks in and you first mentally revise every conversation you’ve had within their hearing and then the inevitable realisation that they must have read about it.

Early on in my online life (pre-blog) I was stopped in the street by a total stranger calling me Rosevibe instead of my name (hi Mark) who informed me that he lived a few doors away in my block of flats, he knew my taste in books and films, my occupation and various other items I’d posted to my profile.

It completely freaked me out at the time.

Yet now I have given complete strangers far more than a profile to go on. This and my other blogs give insight into my thoughts and feelings, my twitter stream and facebook detail my activities and my wishlists show purchases I plan to make – I’ve created the textual equivelent of a reality tv show without the excuse of a pay cheque and in doing so have given the psychological upper hand in any social meeting in the real world to the person who reads any of this.

It’s insane yet I continue to post; why? Well to be honest the ‘damage’ is already done; Almost everything I’ve written over the last 6 years has been cached somewhere and while a few of my views may have changed, those posts won’t.

To stand any chance of not being embarrassed by stupid things I’ve said or done I need to KEEP putting myself out there so that in this day and age of search and virtual reputation, prospective employers don’t judge me on events long past.

Like 99.999% of the human race I have issues – quite a few of ’em, but I’m far too British to ask a headshrinker to sort me out, I’ve always gone down the ‘bottle it up til you can write it down route.

I cringe to think of my naivity during the ‘early years’ of my virtual life. I started a blogger blog at the prompting of a friend and got so into it I also decided to transfer my diary online where it was ‘safer’

My thought process was; paranoia that family member/ other half would find my paper diary. Same applied to a file on my pc so far better idea to start a seperate blog, mark it private and keep everything online where those it may feature could never find it.

..Was a great idea until it started getting comments and my stat counter revealed the extent of the unexpected traffic.

I felt violated despite knowing that the only reason those private thoughts had been observed was because i’d put them on display.
The blog was deleted in its entirety.

That was my initiation into the reality of the web; the realisation that NOTHING online is private – no matter the passwords and settings you apply there is always the chance of someone finding it, either by innocent accident or malicious intent.

I can’t take back anything I committed to the electronic aether but I can temper the past with revelations of the present. It’s too late for me to completely audit my online presence because I’ve already put too much information out there, to you, the person reading this – learn from my mistakes; think twice before sharing anything online because the person you are becoming may not appreciate it being put before you out of context 2, 5 or 10 years down the line.

Like Social networking? Want to meet Kylie Minogue?

In best meercat voice:

SIMPLES! All you need to do is become a student and sign up to social networking site Studyvox.co.uk.

As the lovely lady is the site patron you too could wind up having a cheque or a music award passed into your sweaty grasp – it happened to me; it could happen to you.

Kylie minogue presenting me with my cheque

This time around there were 3 things each of the winners of the inaugural bursary awards had in common:

  1. we were all students
  2. we were all female
  3. we all thought this was some kind of a hoax or scam.

I kid you not, I mean; C’mon! Kylie Minogue handing out cash for nothing more than signing up to a social networking site?

It sounded insane! So much so that Stef and I even organised a house sitter ‘just in case’ while we travelled down to the event..  *blushes* paranoid much?

It’s taken me a while to recover from the exertion of travelling and being sociable which is why the date of the cheque is 25th of February but this blog post is happening in March – the joys of living with ME/CFS I’m afraid ( but this was an event that was definitely worth the health fall-out!)

Both Stef and I have been converted to the view of the studyvoxfoundation crew, we really want them to make of the studyvox.co.uk site everything they dream of. The people behind the charity are wonderful, caring passionate people not lacking in intelligence and their ideas are ambitious; they want to take on every big social networking site out there and as Kev the CEO put it “we want to take everything they’ve got horribly wrong and do it RIGHT!”

They want to create an online home for students, a place where;

  • their profiles will not be held up out of context during a job interview as evidence of lying and debauchery
  • they have representation and help with social needs (things supposedly catered for by the NUS)
  • where they can talk freely about their courses and the towns in which they live
  • a marketplace for them to sell anything from textbooks to clothes and furniture
  • a one-stop shop for all their financial needs and concerns
  • somewhere safe to upload their music, imagery and video footage

In short they are taking on Facebook, myspace, MP3unsigned, Youtube, directgov and any other site you can think of that can hold some kind of benefit to students.

It’s audacious, it’s ambitious, it’s totally nuts – but they are so passionate about their vision that you cannot help but be swept along by it.

The bursary awards are to be a regular thing, any student who signs up to StudyVox is in with a chance of winning – it’s definitely on the up and up, it’s legit and I have the pictures to prove it. If you don’t believe me then just look at some of the news coverage of the event on the BBC and in the Telegraph and obviously the foundations own news site the StudyVox echo (I have several times just to remind myself that I didn’t dream the whole thing)

They want to ‘put their money where their mouths are’ and show in a real way that they are there to help support the student community.

At present I will admit to a lot of teething problems with the social networking website – but that is less down to the vision of the group and more to do with the company paid to do the coding and design; I think, given time and a lot of tweaking this site could well be a force to contend with, the NUS would be well advised to take note and learn a few things.

Nothing of interest, just me being me.

I should be writing a follow up about my experience at #mcl3, or completing any one of the numerous draft posts I have lined up in the blog back room..

But I’m not. I’m on my blog writing whatever pours forth – because I can.

I know all the theory on what I’m ‘supposed’ to be writing (and how) but to be honest, I don’t think I care any more.
Copyblogger is one of my favourite reads and I’ve soaked up a great deal of knowledge from his generous offerings but I’m not a marketer and I’m not a product – not yet anyway.

Until my course is over and I’m in the job market I really am just rosevibe here and I once had a fair few blog friends who came around to visit purely because I was me and not some one-dimensional tweeter.
I miss that, a lot.

Over the last 2-3 years I’ve amassed quite a bit of knowledge about the web, social media, writing, conversation, e-learning, project managing, marketing, programming and jewellery making, but because I’m aware of how much I still need to learn to be as good as I want to be I never seem to find the time to put any of it into practice (coursework excepted that is) and it’s been remarked on by a few of my twitter friends (*cough* @PhilWoodMusic, @crashbox *cough*) that I talk about things but never seem to share my work..

A link tweeted by the aforementioned copyblogger for a post by Rajesh Setty explains my lack of sharing better than I could – even if saying so assumes that I think of myself as smart.

(..and we all know by now that I don’t, if I was it wouldn’t be taking me so long to figure out how xml, xslt, wsdl, soap etc work! never mind installing php on my laptop.. still haven’t done that *shame*)

I have so many ideas and half-formed projects in my mind that I need to become immortal just to see half of them through – it frustrates the hell out of me that I don’t have the energy or health to get even one off the ground. All my energies are directed into my course and my family right now – perhaps if I didn’t have ME/CFS to contend with things would be different, but as it stands – I’ll be lucky to come away with the degree I want.

..but if I get less than a 2-1 I’ll be screaming the C-B words, muchly!

I get annoyed so easily these days – mainly by people who needlessly mock others; who take delight in the misfortune of folk in the limelight and seem to have lost any semblance of nobility, civility, honour and conscience.

I’m not a saint by any means; but constant finger pointing and mob rule alongside the ‘reality shows’ and our rotten society as a whole.. it sickens me and makes me want to grab the face of the self satisfied wanker behind it all and ram it full force through the nearest window into a rusty spike.

I know.. a tad graphic – but I can’t convey the depth of Grrrrrrr! and Arrgggggh! that I feel when looking at what the people of this country have turned into in the name of multi-culturalism and political correctness when things like that are condoned and in some circles elevated to the height of fashion, wit and branded entertainment.

Now the beloved is pointing at the clock and ordering me to bed so I guess it’s probably for the best if I leave this here before I get truly riled and kiss off any chance of sleep.

..But, even after the revamp – don’t expect this blog to fully reflect my knowledge and experience, its a personal space and so will more likely reflect my feelings and opinions with the odd sprinkling of ‘professionalism’. I’m not focussed enough on one area to create something professional for myself, I’ll leave the professional stuff at work where it belongs – or create a section of the site for it ;0)

G’night all – if you love me, do me a favour and tell me something wonderful about the world, after the tv viewing and general crapness of our world on the surface, I could do with a glint of glory about this year to carry into the next.

love y’all

Vics Xx

A little less than Zen

I try to be a good person, truly I do but maybe I’m going against human nature and that’s why I have to work so hard at it.

What?! It’s the nature of humans to be nasty? Well.. The latest flurry of online nastiness could prove me right. The fact that I have contributed also leaves me feeling a little shamed – hence this blog post and not the one I’d intended to write.

Yesterday I followed a retweet from.. um.. I think it may have been @sizemore, though it could also have been @copyblogger or @documentally as any of those three guys give out interesting and thought provoking links on a regular basis. This retweeted link sent me to a blog post entitled Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway (or the privatization of the English Language) and it turned out to be a mini rant about a cease and desist order regarding a phrase used by the author on a previous blog post.

This phrase is apparently copyrighted by the author of a book and her lawyers (yup, lawyers not solicitors so it has to be an American thing right? Right.) have demanded that the blog change or at least acknowledge the books author. The writer has refused, adamantly.

To the delight and positive support of what appears to be a goodly portion of the blogosphere.

Unfortunately, naming said book author in the post has resulted in a legion of these supporters finding her Amazon page to attack and otherwise drag down her ratings. I have not done so, I have not sent a message of hate to the writer nor have I even visited her personal site. So why do I feel shame?

I feel shame because I read the post and was shocked that he had named the author in question, but did I comment on his poor judgement? No. Instead I responded thusly:

I came here via a twitter RT so whether she likes it or not there is much negative publicity regarding her work ‘doing the rounds’ following this incident.

Having actually read through all the previous comments (interesting conversation)

I have to plug for what Bill Schmeck Says:

“If you REALLY want to screw with the lawyers, tell them you’re going to send a copy of their letter and an explanation to the USPTO and ask to have the trademark withdrawn. If a mark is inappropriately granted, the USPTO can void it if someone challenges it.”

I’m guessing you won’t be that bothered but such an idea really tickles the vindictive child in me..

Perhaps it’s not so bad a comment in comparison to some, but did I air the thoughts in my head about “have you asked for a response from Mrs J?” “Was it really a good idea to link so clearly to Mrs J?” did I contribute to the ‘interesting conversation’ in a positive way?

No. I didn’t.
Which makes me a bad person in my own eyes. Others have been bigger than I and called the writer on these points, others have been far worse than I and spewed hate filled bile about Mrs J for the actions of her lawyers.

But this blog here, the place you currently rest your eyes.. This is my space where I can be as honest as I allow myself to be where you can see it. In real life I try to stick to the idea of “if you haven’t anything nice to say then say nothing” (note I said ‘try’ I don’t always succeed but if I catch myself being snide or malicious I do attempt to make up for it somehow) surely I am not the only person on the internet to look back at something they’d written and wish they could take it back and make it into something more worthy of the person they want to be?

I can’t help but wonder if that same thought is running through the mind of Leo over at Zen Habits right now.

#Twitter (again)

I was asked today to come back to the college in June (after exams etc) to give a presentation on twitter and other social media applications, this has made me go back to thinking about what is so great about twitter – why do I and others enthuse about it so much?

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ddO9idmax0o[/youtube]

I loved it back when it was just a webpage but now it’s because it has developed adaptability due to the amount of third party applications built around it – now it works differently depending on what you use to access it.
Using the normal web portal at twitter.com allows a basic view of peoples tweets (once you’ve added a few folks to follow that is) installing Tweetdeck allows you to view search results as well as a timeline made up of folks you follow and friend groups and replies etc so, for example; if you’re interested in media, any tweet mentioning media or #media will show in that search time line (all time lines have their own column so you can easily differentiate between groups)

It’s not just a place to announce that you’re heading to bed or about to have a cup of tea – or even as the video states ‘to let the people you care about know the little things you do in life’ (though that is a part of its charm) Twitter helps you to gather information/ interesting links/ peoples opinions on a subject, you can start/ join in conversations by replying with @username before the comment and make friends – look at the success of the recent twestival, online social media doesn’t have to stay online with twitter.

As far as social media goes it’s the best site around in my honest opinion.

#MCL2 – the write up.

I know, it’s taken me quite a while but to be fair I’ve been snowed under with work between now and then..

Anyhow, Media Camp London #2 was quite a different animal in comparison to #1.
Ok, so it still rained on the way there – this time however it was still raining on the way back, possibly in commiseration since we had to leave after the last session to go and collect The Child – but I digress..

For those of you not in the know, Media Camp is a place for people interested in social media, the web and internet ‘stuff’ in general to meet up and discuss ideas, projects and anything  else of mutual interest – so basically heaven for me; the only way it could be improved were if a karaoke were thrown in for good measure *grin* still, since I appear to be in the minority on the karaoke front I guess it’s just as well they don’t have that (although as it has been hosted both times at the SAE institute I’m guessing I could have found somewhere to sing if I’d looked hard enough..)

Unfortunately this time around, the weather managed to combine with a nasty bout of man flu so the turn out was a tad sparser than anticipated. I missed chatting once more to @Jof Arnold, @Adi, @Melinda, @Vero and Chris Garret because they were all unable to attend and 2 of the sessions were cancelled due to the presenters twittering in sick. That being said however, the enthusiasm of the remaining population remained undampened.

The day began well with a number of us congregating in the lounge as we awaited the start of the sessions, we twittered and bemoaned the lack of hot beverages and found ourselves united in the longing for refreshment – which is how I met Amanda aka Hedgewitch, a cracking lass despite her love of the Mac (yes,  despite it’s many faults I’m still a PC gal..) she’s pretty without being vacant; has an awesome personality, great taste in jewellery and a fine mind full of knowledge that I wish I could download for myself.

Despite the weather, the first sessions began on time.  ‘A taxonomy of social media’ was presented by Benjamin Ellis whom I remember meeting at #1, I learned about Dunbars number, agreed with the fact that visible conversations are self regulating and that self regulation/ feedback helps stop a social media platform from collapsing through disintegrating relationships – more of which can be read on his own blog post on the subject.

It was interesting to reflect on the differences in information dissemination – Video, being linear is more time consuming  whereas text is skimmable and the points relevant to the reader can be picked up in less time, I’m a skimmer and, I thought at the time of his talk, a bridger; that is, a person who bridges several networks.

But as Ann Wittbrock commented at the time; we all think of ourselves as bridgers, how can a network ‘work’ if it’s made up entirely of bridgers? It certainly gave me pause and made me evaluate my knee jerk ‘that’s me’ reaction to the talk, I’m not a bridger; I barely participate never mind connect – but I’m working on it ;0p

It was in here that the quote of the day was heard  “On the internet pigs CAN fly” I guess you had to be there but it made me chuckle. The basic thought behind the phrase was that you could have an absolute sow of an application but with a good enough network it WILL take wing and fly – just look at twitter.  (Not that I’m saying it’s a sow but..)

Sadly we missed the next session because refreshments showed up and the need to drink and feed overtook any other consideration, during this respite we learned that geek girls love Kipling, the colour purple and cake, and I found the Italian guy sold Chino so promptly bought up his stock (I”m selfish like that, he only had 3 cans..) and got to catch up with @Asha2 who finally joined the twitter crowd just before the event.

The next session I attended proved to be confusing, in hindsight I should probably have hopped over to  the DIY online monitoring one with Stef but I like to learn and so persevered on in an attempt to understand what the people around me were discussing. It’s likely that all I did was muddy the waters in my feeble attempts at contributing and so for that I do apologise to my fellow attendees – sometimes, I forget to engage the ‘shut up’ portion of my brain – as the folks in Chris Hamblys session may well have noticed *blush*

Chris was talking about a virtual  learning environment and as this is quite similar to the Cable project I’m part of at Hatfield uni I kind of *ahem* spoke up – A LOT.

I would like to take this opportunity to apologise profusely to the American gent I kept speaking over – I just have this nervous energy that runs my mouth into overdrive when I finally feel as though I know what I’m talking about; it’s so rare that I get a tad carried away when it happens.. So, sorry.. *blush*

I did enjoy the Judith Lewis (aka deCabbit) session about online reputation management, there I learned about Gorkana, a media portal for journalists and PRs which will be looked into as soon as I have some time, she also very kindly sent a copy of her slides to those of us who expressed an interest; many thanks and much kudos to that leather clad SEO goddess! It was a good day all in all, it’s just unfortunate that I didn’t get the opportunity to speak more with CJ (again) or with any of the other interesting folks these events abound with, advice to anyone attending is:

Don’t rush off after the last session, the best networking conversations happen in the pub!

Blended learning

On top of my coursework I’ve joined the University Cable 3.0 project team, we’re trying to organise collaborative online learning between members of the 4 consortium colleges studying on the Foundation Degree Business and Computing Programme.

Last Thursday and Friday were spent at a residential at the manor of Groves hotel it was both an exhausting yet invigorating experience as in the space of 2 days we managed to hammer out a guideline of where the project needs to go and form an action plan regarding the tools we need to use to get there.
On the other hand though – it was awful!

It’s the longest I’ve spent away from Isabella since she was born, I had almost 2Gb of photographs loaded onto my phone and had Johnella laughing at me because I kept changing my background image whenever I felt bad about leaving her (so quite a bit..) I was suitably punished though by having what must have been the worst room in the place – the shower had temperature epilepsy, the bed cover appeared to have been vomited on at some point and then brushed ‘clean’, the lamp by the work desk didn’t work and the tv remote only worked when it felt like it. Still, I did get wireless access and the food was of a consistantly high standard so it wasn’t all bad.

Because I’m ‘only’ a student, to be invited to participate in something that will shape the way in which one of my modules is to be taught is a big thing. I and the other 3 ‘student consultants’ will be awarded Elluminate licenses before next semester as this is one of the technologies we shall be trialling, we’re to be heading up ‘virtual teams’ in the ‘human computer interaction’ module for research and focus group purposes, these teams are to be made up of small groups from each college under the guiding hand of a single tutor with the student leaders providing feedback and support.

Exciting times my friends! As this is a pilot scheme it’s going to be a lot of hard work as we ascend the learning curve but I’m just thinking of how useful this experience will be in the ‘real world’ when I’m back amongst the contributing members of society.

It also means I now have even more of a reason for looking forward to MediaCampChris Hamblys 3 o’clock session:

Distance learners and virtual communities – creating a sense of community and life-long learning in an online school

What’s in a name?

I’ve been dipping in and out of the blog and social media ‘scenes’ for a while, I *know* all about how I should be optimising my website for search engines and keeping my posts organised, concise and FOCUSED – but I am not a brand, I am not a company, I am a jewellery making, blog writing, new mother and student geek, so on what am I supposed to focus?

Like most of you I’ve yet to find a niche for myself, I have no single overriding interest that I can turn into my strength and identity as so many others here have, I have no expert knowledge on any subject nor do I have the concentration to gain such. I learn only as much about anything as I need in order to complete the task at hand (with maybe a little extra if it interests me) my time management is abysmal and yet it rarely bothers me because I do prioritise and the majority of my tasks are still completed on time.

So, all this being the case – what is my marketable brand? In simplistic terms I guess it’s Rosevibe. That is the handle I use for everything and the name by which most of my net friends know me (well, that and Vics) but what does that brand stand for? What does it say?

Nothing. It’s a name and nothing more.

I intermittently read the blogs and tweets of people I respect from the social media scene (Loudmouthman, Sizemore and Chris Brogan to name 3) and have learned many a useful tidbit. But what have I given to them? I listen and offer observations, I ask questions and try to clarify my understanding of the answers given and I try to be a friend to everyone on my contact list.

Perhaps that’s the service I offer; a virtual sounding board, someone who isn’t too involved in whatever is being discussed yet knows just enough about the subject to offer a fresh perspective or a new idea – or at the very least ask questions in a way that shows perhaps their idea isn’t as simple to get across as they’d originally thought. I’m a test subject – but what shiny new buzz word can I coin to encompass such a thing? What new label can I give to the complex being I am that will turn “Rosevibe” into something more than a name? Something that I can market once my degree has been gained and I’m actively searching for work?

Propitious I may be – good at naming things I am not (which is why I always wrote the lyrics but the guitarist named the song) Methinks the old ‘consultancy’ label may be dusted off in lieu of a sparkly new buzzword as, like the little black dress, it hides a multitude of sins and accentuates the delightful.
So these are the questions I’ve been asking myself lately: What would you brand yourself? What do you offer?

In the realm of the virtual, how do you answer those questions? I’m interested to know what people think of themselves in a marketable sense and what they think of marketing in general, but then I’m interested in a lot of things, that’s what makes me ME – What makes you YOU? What would you brand yourself? What do you offer?

MediaCamp London #2

In July I went along to an event organised by some folks I’ve come to know through using various online social media. As a direct result of that I have been offered work (paid) and participation in several interesting sounding projects (paid and unpaid) which, sadly, I’ve been unable to take up because of this gorgeous little creature

Isabella - supergirl!

So not only do I have the reassurance of knowing there is work out there for me when our little girl is of an age to allow me to take it, I’ve also made the acquaintance of many interesting and knowledgeable people – several of whom have since helped me to understand things I’ve struggled with in my studies.

I would not have received that help or those opportunities without my participation on the social networking scene. Through use of twitter I learn about up and coming events, new toys on the market, what the people I choose to follow are currently up to and how they feel about life in general. I can ask a question and have several answers within seconds (depending upon who is online at the time) and can start a conversation that spans several levels as other people I’m not connected to take the responses of those I am and run with it.

The reason for this post is that there is another of these events coming up and it seems only fair to let everyone know about it so that they too can not only learn a few things but also make some great contacts in the process.

The event is called media camp london and it would seem that even the guardian has taken an interest this time around:

MediaCamps – filling the skills gap

I know that at present the sessions seem quite thin on the ground, but last year things were being added right up to and including the start times – not only that but the meet up, chill out and chat rooms proved to be equally useful (if not more so) at providing insight and discussion on topics not covered by any of the more structured presentations.

Come along – Stef and I shall see you there!

Social media mafia – Mediacamp London

I’m not able to speak for everyone else who attended but as far as my first social media event goes, what an absolute corker! The discussions were stimulating and the topics interesting, I’m just sorry that I couldn’t get into all of the sessions but the building was just too hot for me to risk cramming into the busiest ones as I’d doubtless have passed out and made a tit of myself..

The main message coming through in the sessions I did attend was that there is a lack of education in using social media tools within business that prohibits employee buy in. I’ve found that this is true not only in business but in education, my course leaders are trying to push the use of wikis, discussion boards and blogs with very little uptake amongst the students, perhaps if there was more in the way of explanation for the reasons behind using these things with an understandable incentive in place then this would change.

There was also a lot of comments along the lines of how ‘green’ the business world is and how Social media tools can help

To paraphrase Steve Lamb (aka actionlamb) during his presentation with Adi Ben-Nesher from Accenture;

“Corporate culture needs to accept that technology can be used anywhere that there is power – an employee can be more constructive spending an extra hour in bed on their laptop than struggling through commuterville hell. ..Social media tools help you cut the crap by establishing a relationship, it’s an informal way of keeping tabs on what’s going on around you ie you know a persons mood and can gauge when is a good time to approach them with an idea or to tap them for cash”

Ok so the ‘tap them for cash’ comment made me chuckle but in business it’s a valid observation; most start-ups are always on the look out for funding. If you know someone is having a bad day through comments on their facebook page or twitter stream you know that today is not the day to bug them for help with your project.

In the ‘Talking social’ session before the lunch break there evolved an interesting mini discussion on the differences gender makes to the use of social media and the privacy aspect of leaving information online, I’ve had a couple of bad experiences with unwanted telephone calls after leaving contact details visible where there was also a photograph available. From the show of hands in the room it appears I’m not the only lass so affected – even a couple of the lads had experienced something similar, this is why I’m loathe to give out that kind of information and value twitter so much; people can still text me using the dm feature without knowing my number – social media tools allow me to participate in a virtual social life while still keeping a ‘safe’ barrier in place that allows me to screen the people wanting access to me.
Obviously for me this works, but as former accountant James (whatleydude) of spinvox said; if his contact details were not available online he’d have missed out on three very interesting phone conversations. Speaking to Vero of Pepsmedia by the drinks machine also shows that contact details online are not necessarily a bad thing; she received an offer of work based purely on her blog – perhaps it’s the luck of the draw but this is definitely an area in which you need to weigh up the pros and cons before putting yourself out there – after all, you’d not leave your phone number attached to a short bio of yourself on the side of a bus would you?

..or would you?

The best part of the day for me though was meeting so many people. I finally put physical form to both Nik (aka loudmouthman) and Suzy (aka SuzyMiller) as well as discovering a whole host of intelligent and interesting people.
The aforementioned Vero is a cracking lass with a great sense of humour (and I may well have to purchase Mario carts on the wii just to take up her challenge) Melissa Norman of the London Games Fringe is also someone whom I’m looking forward to meeting again when I attend the (tba) games fringe events happening in October, Melinda of the missgeeky blog – I’ll be keeping an eye out for the next geek dinner event with glee.. CJ seemed like a great person to know, sadly newt started making his/ her presence felt during the html/ css talk and I had to leave to find some air.

On the plus side, I then got talking to folks in the chill out room and Mike (Waugaman) gave me the name of a podcast to check out and suggested that I make use of spinvox when the time came to announce the arrival of our screaming little lump of humanity – a suggestion I will most definitely be taking up now that I know more about the service provided by the whatleydude (who by the way is also a great guy, funny, engaging and ridiculously enthusiastic about what he does)

I also enjoyed chatting to Tom Holder of Simpleweb and Jof Arnold of BrainBakery in the pub afterwards, yes, much of what they discussed was well over my head but the parts I understood were tantalising and whetted my appetite for leaning more of the joys of programming – I’ve also decided that hovercraft racing sounds like the coolest thing ever and while Tom may be a programming god, it will be that little nugget I keep on hand whenever I think of him *grin* if he and Jof didn’t live so far away I would definitely be proposing a building project – I may not be able to ride motorbikes anymore but no one could complain about me sitting on a racing hovercraft!

Well.. Not that I’d listen to anyhow ;0)

Chris Garret is probably one of the most switched on young men I’ve ever met – the guys on my course could definitely learn a lot from him! While he may be young he’s pretty damned brilliant from all accounts (and not his own either, Tom was singing his praises from the rafters) I may well be bugging him for wordpress tips in the near future 😉

The person I spoke most with in the evening was Adi Ben-Nesher (whilst being force fed chips by Chris Hambly) and despite repeated claims of laziness throughout the evening, is definitely a busy lad and someone everyone should know – he has excellent taste in music (we were both amazed that Jenny turned down free Iron Maiden tickets to stick around for the drinking portion of the event) the poor taste to have once owned a Harley Davidson (though he does have a point that a pocket rocket would have been too small for him) and makes it his business to connect people.

So despite feeling like all I did was talk about the belly all day I’ve gleaned a few pointers on things that could prove useful in the future and have several projects and products to check out when I finally have some time.. Yup, Mediacamp London was a definite success as far as I’m concerned and I seriously cannot wait for another event of it’s kind to take place at a time and location within my power to attend!

Tutorom is the place to learn online.

For video or flash tutorials Tutorom really is the place to be. I found this while catching up on my feeds over at Cybernirvana it’s proof positive of why I keep Zia at the top of my info list *grin*

The concept is simple:

Learn. Teach. Collaborate. Online Elearning the tutorom way.

Access thousands of lessons or use our tools to create and control access to your own courses, collaborate with colleagues and much more.

But the content they already have on there is stunning. the database is well laid out so searching for a tutorial is simple (which reminds me, I also need to look for a databasing tutorial) I’ve found some incredibly simple to follow flash mathematics tutorials that should stand me in good stead, I’ve been worried about my crappy grasp of maths for a while.
The beauty of it is though, alongside the more academic type of tutorial you also have videos on everything from belly dancing, jewelery making and improving your golf swing to changing a spark plug in your car and applying eyeliner.

I’ve been unable to do many of the things I love online lately, moving house and starting college has taken a lot more out of me than I’d bargained for, I’m missing my twitter friends and participating in the odd podcast, as you can see from the date I last posted, blogging has taken a hit too and I haven’t had a good sing in months (though I have been keeping an eye out on all the new releases at singsnap so once I have mic and webcam set up again I’ll have quite a list to get me going)

Thank goodness for facebook is all I can say, without that I’d have been off the radar for good – twitter is practically useless at college since the filtering system won’t allow me to open any tinyurl type links and I can’t follow any links from my feed reader either which can make catching up on my feeds a rather frustrating experience, but now I’ve discovered tutorom I can use that time more constructively (assuming the college system allows me to, I’ll have to check tomorrow on that front)

Well, that’s your wee byte from me today – if you know of any other sites like this then do let me know, it’s always handy to have a tutorial resource when you’re learning about something, different people teach in different ways so while I may not understand one thing on here, elsewhere may provide an easier way to understand it.

Can our social skills be hurt or helped by what we do online?

I saw this posted in the comments of a blog post by Mediajoltz and it got me to thinking.

From personal experience I’d say immersing yourself too far in the web can only hurt your real life social skills – by that I mean; if your primary method of social contact is via a monitor and a keyboard then you will find it very hard to hold a face to face conversation with somebody without making some serious faux pas.

Conversation is a skill like any other, if you don’t practice a skill then you WILL lose it.
You can’t throw up an emoticon to soften a comment in real life and you can’t take time to frame a reply in the same way you can online – folks will be patient with you in cyberspace, they know other things could be distracting you and that gives you time to think through what you say, there’s no pressure and when you have typed your reply you have the chance to change what you’re about to say before it’s sent..

That’s not possible in a face to face situation.

For a long time I’ve thought that my verbal communication problems were a direct result of my illness. I shied away from meeting people face to face or from holding telephone conversations with people I barely knew because I was embarrassed.
I was embarrassed because I’d lost the knack of talking to people, of being able to convey a point and express myself clearly – I felt like a moron – but I blamed the illness because of the ‘brain fog’ that’s brought on by being constantly ‘tired’.

In the first year of succumbing to the damned thing I became a virtual hermit, I spent most of my time in bed and slowly lost contact with all of my friends thereby limiting my face to face contact options.
This meant my conversational skills diminished through lack of practice and I then exacerbated the problem by only ‘speaking’ to people online. Now that I’m slowly clawing back some semblance of verbal competence I struggle.
If I’m having a bad day the brain fog is a problem – but then being overly tired will cause anyone to stumble in conversations and they won’t appear at their best. My illness is directly tied to low energy levels so it’s to be expected that I’ll stumble a little more often than most.

Now that I’m back at college, I’m being forced to communicate every day with people I barely know and I yearn for the ease of a keyboard. I infinitely prefer using the net as my method of communication, it takes the strain away and allows me time to form a coherent response. It also lets me pick and choose who to converse with and when to do it – at MY convenience.

Which is where I come to my main point.
Online I probably come across as an interesting and relatively amusing person – offline I’m ‘weird’ and that’s all down to the way I live online; because for the last 3-4 years it’s the only way I’ve lived.
I struggle in a social setting not because of my illness but because my social skills are lacking. They are lacking because I’ve limited myself – online I can choose who to talk to and what to talk about and can completely disregard anything in which I have no interest or knowledge.

Which means online I am always comfortable and never have to really stretch myself – if I’m unknowledgable about the topic under discussion then google bridges the gap.
That’s not possible in a real life social situation.
I’ve become overly reliant on the net instead of my own memory, I’m constantly wishing I had access so that I can refer to things in a discussion, I’ll remember reading an article but can never remember the salient attributes of it (though that could be down to the CFS; memory problems are a recognised symptom) It’s frustrating that in real life I’ve no google back up and I can’t turn to my thesaurus if I’m struggling for a word.

This reliance also means my conversational topics are limited; hardly any of the people I speak to in ‘real life’ know the websites I frequent, they don’t ‘get’ social networking or blogging, my online musical collaborations may sound ‘cool’ but it’s not interesting if you’re not a musician and showing off pretty handmade jewelery can only take a conversation so far.

Still, at least I am aware of the areas in which I’m lacking. A little more time in the world offline observing the people around me and interacting with as many as possible should bring my social skills back up to scratch..

..Now if only most folks didn’t find my love of karaoke to be weird as well *sigh* it’s my favourite offline activity and none of the college lot are remotely interested in it 😥

The internet as a means of exclusion

You and Yours:How has the internet changed your life?
Broadcast on BBC Radio 4 – Tue 04 Sep – 12:00

I recorded this show the other day and converted it to MP3 because I know the BBC website only holds it for a week.
Sadly I’m having a few problems uploading it to my host (big file + dodgy connection = problems) Once I’ve got that sorted it’ll be linked to on here for your listening pleasure, until then should you be curious enough to want to hear it then just contact me and I’ll email it to you.

A lot of issues were discussed but the one that caught my attention was this; according to guest Justin Maclaren, 17 million adults in the UK have never used the net.
He quoted that statistic from the ONS database (office for National Statistics) and from the same source you can see that of all the people questioned apparently 40% of women don’t use the net and 82% of people over 65 have never used the net.

That’s a lot of people, a heck of a lot of people all of voting age, many of whom will have kids who were not included in the count of the net excluded.

A teacher came onto the the phone and said that children without home access are at a greater disadvantage than other kids, she seemed to think that not having home access can be detrimental to the future prospects of these children when compared to a child that does. But the teacher had a valid point; she claimed that there is an educational divide growing in this country and so far it does not seem to be recognised as such.

A gentleman caller (Ken Whaley) actually said that he was ‘sick of hearing about the internet on other forms of media’:

It’s talked about as though it’s a free service which everybody has free access to and it’s not..

He points out that he finds the idea of the net quite interesting and would love to try it out, but the cost of a computer and monthly connection fees are too great for his income, I can relate to that because if it wasn’t for Stef I would be hard pressed to have net access myself.
Yes, you could walk to the library, but you have time restrictions there and the equipment is limited – you couldn’t participate in a podcast and in some libraries you can’t upload or download files because they don’t allow portable hardware to be used for fear of viruses.keep warm keep well campaign poster

It’s an undeniable truth that some people are being excluded by cost as opposed to apathy.
I personally know of three families that received their very first computer this year, 2 of those computers were second hand units cobbled together from parts donated by friends so that their children could keep up with the other kids – not to get ahead, just to keep up.

It’s not only educationally that these families suffer, people excluded by cost from the targeted campaigns of the government will have fewer options than those with access to that information.
Some government posters only have a website address on them as far as further information goes – this ‘Keep Warm Keep Well’ poster is just an example and it’s targeted at the very people who, according to the aforementioned ONS surveys, statistically have never used the net or are unlikely to have access.

So what’s being done by the government to see that these people and their families do not fall behind in this age of information overload? I’m afraid I couldn’t begin to guess.
From all available evidence it seems the government are only just coming to grips with the net themselves so boxing it up for the general public is a task largely left to the private sector.
There are plans and trials in motion across the UK for free public wireless access, but this is coming under fire from various health groups because of the growth in numbers of people suffering from electrosensitivity, so far these groups have not proven very effective at stalling those plans but the arguments are persuasive so it’s a case of ‘wait and see’.

It just makes you think though, many of us take the internet for granted because we use it daily; it’s easy to forget that not everyone can afford it or even know what a fabulous tool it can be.