Bandwidth » Current Affairs http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/bandwidth Insights from H&K Canada's social media strategy team Fri, 07 Jan 2011 21:05:56 +0000 http://wordpress.org/?v=2.9.2 en hourly 1 Info-Images + One Cartoon 2010 http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/bandwidth/2010/12/29/info-images-one-cartoon-2010/ http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/bandwidth/2010/12/29/info-images-one-cartoon-2010/#comments Wed, 29 Dec 2010 22:27:31 +0000 Boyd Neil 417677:4590288:9859144 The images and infographics below struck a cord with me for a variety of reasons throughout the year. And be patient with the scrolling. There are six images in all . .  . and the best one is the last.

Where dweeb, nerd and geek meet. (I sure hope I fit the geek category and not the others.)

The death this year (one hopes) of the self-described social media guru. (And not a moment too soon.)

Facebook rules

Paul Butler, an engineering intern at Facebook, made this image from a sample of 10 million Facebook friendship pairs. The map was created organically from the pairs, and the lines represent human relationships.

Okay, maybe mobile browsers rule (Although personally I find my mobile brower frustrating to use, slow and with insufficient screen clarity. But I guess that’s just me.)

Facebook Places versus Foursquare (Some research on what people think about whether Facebook Places will overtake Foursquare, and some who don’t care. And apologies to the creator of this graph and academics who have to identify sources in their papers — I can’t find the source for this anymore. If someone would like to point me to the owner, I would be more than happy to give approprate attribution.)

The social demographics of Facebook and Twitter. (Too bad the creators couldn’t measure login by the hour: I wonder what the stats would look like then.)

]]>
http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/bandwidth/2010/12/29/info-images-one-cartoon-2010/feed/ 0
Twitter Helping Politicians Use Itself http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/bandwidth/2010/11/07/twitter-helping-politicians-use-itself/ http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/bandwidth/2010/11/07/twitter-helping-politicians-use-itself/#comments Sun, 07 Nov 2010 15:50:16 +0000 Boyd Neil 417677:4590288:9399299

According to ClickZ (via KStreet Café) Twitter has hired Adam Sharp to provide advice to DC politicians and bureaucrats on how to use the micro-blogging platform for the pubic good. Why?

“A Twitter spokesperson told ClickZ in June: ‘We are seeing strong growth of government, policy, and political usage of Twitter, and we want to help officials get the most out of our service to better communicate with constituents.’ “

(Given Facebook’s capacity and usage as a hub for political campaigns, maybe it should be thinking of doing something similar, if it hasn’t already.)

Not a bad idea at all . . . social web platforms providing strategies to specific target user groups for getting the most out of them. It should make government relations consultants a bit nervous that platforms are  stepping into their advisory role.

]]>
http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/bandwidth/2010/11/07/twitter-helping-politicians-use-itself/feed/ 0
A Random Social Web Walk . . . With Voting http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/bandwidth/2010/10/07/a-random-social-web-walk-with-voting/ http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/bandwidth/2010/10/07/a-random-social-web-walk-with-voting/#comments Thu, 07 Oct 2010 17:52:35 +0000 Boyd Neil 417677:4590288:9086283 Some random social web information and ideas:

From Mashable, a tongue-firmly-in-cheek campaign from the marketing firm Proximity will see the person who checks in most frequently on Foursquare at the City of Chicago Mayoral HQ become the new ‘mayor’ of the city. The current front runner is Rob Mowry who looks strangely like Rob Ford a real candidate for mayor in Toronto. Just showing up, rather than making change, seems to work for mayors in Toronto so why not a Foursquare mayor?

My Vote . . .

The title of this article by Robyn Urback in Canada’s National Post newspaper says it all: ” Facebook’s ‘I like it’ campaign pointlessly sexualizing tragedy”. The idea is that for breast cancer awareness month, women are supposed to say where they like to leave their purse. (I know: I don’t understand the connection either.) The result is such comments as ‘I like it on the floor’. Get it? Unfortunately, the article doesn’t tell you who thought up this offensive campaign.

My Vote . . .

According to a study sponsored by StephensGouldPincus in the US, “the total percentage of work devoted by communications consulting firms to social media as opposed to traditional media is 30% overall. Next year, the percentage will increase to an average of 42%, with firms over $3 million in revenue increasing to 46%.”

My Vote . . .

In post about a Gallup poll which shows that distrust in the media continues to edge up, Valeria Maltoni says something that people like me who blog about current affairs should remember:

Especially if you are creating content, you should do your homework, look to diverse sources. A greater share of voice comes with greater accountability.

My Vote . . .

It’s a good day. I liked three out of the four things I read.

]]>
http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/bandwidth/2010/10/07/a-random-social-web-walk-with-voting/feed/ 0
Gladwell on the Sidelines http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/bandwidth/2010/09/28/gladwell-on-the-sidelines/ http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/bandwidth/2010/09/28/gladwell-on-the-sidelines/#comments Tue, 28 Sep 2010 10:57:36 +0000 Boyd Neil 417677:4590288:9023240 Malcolm Gladwell tends to write about what exists and why, not what is coming into existence and what it means or how to advance it.

In an article in the October 4th issue of The New Yorker called Small Change: Why the revolution will not be tweeted, he does it again with social media activism:

. . . it is a form of organizing which favors weak-tie connections that give us access to information over the strong-tie connections that help us persevere in the face of danger. It shifts our energies from organizations that promote strategic and disciplined activity and toward those which promote resilience and adaptability. It makes it easier for activists to express themselves, and harder for that expression to have an impact.

He is talking, of course, about ’slacktivism’ which is the pundit’s dismissive term for the way many people leave their militancy on the walls of Facebook pages:

Facebook activism succeeds not by motivating people to make real sacrifice but by motivating them to do the things that people do when they are not motivated enough to make real sacrifice.

Contrasted to this is “high-risk activism” which is at the core of disruptive social change like that which started the civil rights movement in the US in the late 50s and early 60s . . . “Activism that challenges the status quo – that attacks deeply rooted problems – is not for the faint of heart.” It requires, as Vladimir Ilyich Lenin (rendered in the picture above) and Gladwell agree, strategy, discipline and hierarchy. (That’s why the Bolsheviks led a revolution and anarchists could not.)

No argument there. But to say this is not Facebook, Twitter and other social networks is short-sighted and something of a straw-man line of reasoning. Yes Facebook and Twitter are weak-tie networks and will never in themselves be platforms for sweeping systemic change. But they do a couple of things well: they create ties where there were none before; and they are a source of ideas. People making connections and debating ideas are fertile ground for social activism, just like the late night chats of the freshmen in Greensboro who courageously challenged racism at the Woolworth’s lunch counter in 1960, Gladwell’s apocryphal story (not in the facts, which are true, but in the significance Gladwell affords it) starting point for his article.

I wish Gladwell had spent his awesome intellectual gifts thinking about what use of the social web could move weak-tie connections to the strong-tie relationships that are midwives to strategic and disciplined social activism. He should take a close look at successful online political and community organizing (such as the Obama election campaign about which he says nothing) and see how it converts loose networks into a campaign force. Or he should imagine a Facebook campaign which, at its inception, builds in mechanisms for organizing action, for gathering and unleashing committed high-risk activists.

Instead, Gladwell plays to the myopic crowd who find it easier to talk about limits than about opportunties.

]]>
http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/bandwidth/2010/09/28/gladwell-on-the-sidelines/feed/ 0
Howard Rheingold’s Social Media Literacies http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/bandwidth/2010/09/25/howard-rheingolds-social-media-literacies/ http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/bandwidth/2010/09/25/howard-rheingolds-social-media-literacies/#comments Sat, 25 Sep 2010 17:54:08 +0000 Boyd Neil 417677:4590288:8983194

Howard Rheingold, author of Smart Mobs among other writings on technology and culture, spoke (inspirationally) last Thursday at Toronto’s Ryerson University about the use of social media in education. That’s him below . . .

One of his themes is the need for educational institutions, instructional designers and teachers to recognize the new ‘literacies’ required of graduates, and the implications of them on how and what is taught.

The ‘literacies’ in Rheingold’s lexicon are attention, participation, collaboration and critical consumption, all of which make sense given the ubiquity of information, ease of search and value of networks in invention and ideation. Critical consumption – or crap detection – is especially important in a culture in which even barely educated Hollywood celebrities and 16-year-old pop singers have political and social opinions they think worthy of tweeting. And I would also add visual mindfulness to the list given the increasingly dominant place of images in online narratives.

I did wonder, though, about how much Rheingold values what he called ‘alphabetic’ literacy and the role it plays in his collaborative model of learning. As the final assignment in his course at Stanford, Rheingold asks his students, reluctantly I sense, to create (not ‘write’) an essay drawing together the words or concepts defined throughout the course. But the chronicle seems secondary to the process of connecting and interacting to develop the understanding, which now that I think of it is true . . . to a point.

My experience teaching at two urban Canadian universities and as a communications consultant in a large firm, makes me sensitive to any devaluation of the act of writing and what it requires in logical structuring and presentation of ideas. I see a lot of sloppy writing, from essays to news releases. And by sloppy I don’t mean the creative manipulation of language to make a point or give birth to a feeling, which can be artful.

Writing in Wired a few months ago, Clive Thomson reported that:

In interviews, they (students) defined good prose as something that had an effect on the world. For them, writing is about persuading and organizing and debating, even if it’s over something as quotidian as what movie to go see.
Nothing wrong with that. But persuading, organizing and debating, especially persuading and debating, without the rigor of expression is ineffective and usually boring. Not that I think Rheingold undervalues rhetoric. He is too much the master of language and reasoned argument himself. But I do think he and others should be careful not to turn a blind eye to how untutored many people are these days, and the fault is only ours when we don’t ask for high standards in expression even if people are attentive, participatory, and collaborative and exhibit effective bullshit detection.
Critic and scholar Jacques Barzun justifies why in the preface to his 1986 book A Word or Two Before You Go:

The fact is that great ideas and deep feelings cannot be fully known or enjoyed, rightly valued or reported, unless they are closely scanned in the only way open to us – matching the experience with the right words.

]]>
http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/bandwidth/2010/09/25/howard-rheingolds-social-media-literacies/feed/ 0
Social Media ‘Advocacy’ http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/bandwidth/2010/01/29/social-media-advocacy/ http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/bandwidth/2010/01/29/social-media-advocacy/#comments Fri, 29 Jan 2010 13:37:39 +0000 Boyd Neil 417677:4590288:6411228 Domino's on a Roll

As a corporate reputation watcher, I like to find examples of new takes on traditional reputation building. Here's one to watch at a website called pizzaturnaround.com. Domino's Pizza, the unfortunate quarry in a legendary YouTube video, is now addressing criticisms of products in a series of videos in which it admits customer dissatisfaction with its pizza. 

Rather than hide behind weasel words like 'enhanced' or 'improved', the company is changing its pizza recipes, from crust to sauce to cheese to find a combination its customers will find more appealing. Organizations whose reputations are in the toilet could learn from this 'let's be honest about what's wrong and just fix it' approach.

Political iPhone Apps

In Canada, we are well behind Americans in using social media as a political organizing and advocacy tool, largely as a result of differences in our political systems. In the U.S. individual senators and members of Congress aren't subject to the party discipline which hampers independent thinking here in Canada.  The flip side is that in the U.S. politicians become the target of interest group pressure and popular advocacy, and the newest channels for pressure are social media.

Ian Capstick at MediaStyle singles out three political iPhone apps, at least two of which could be adapted for use in Canada. One is a complete contact list of members of Congress and their staffs and the other an application which allows users to see "if a brand they are about to purchase is – or is not – supportive of their community."

]]>
Domino’s on a Roll

As a corporate reputation watcher, I like to find examples of new takes on traditional reputation building. Here’s one to watch at a website called pizzaturnaround.com. Domino’s Pizza, the unfortunate quarry in a legendary YouTube video, is now addressing criticisms of products in a series of videos in which it admits customer dissatisfaction with its pizza.

Rather than hide behind weasel words like ‘enhanced’ or ‘improved’, the company is changing its pizza recipes, from crust to sauce to cheese to find a combination its customers will find more appealing. Organizations whose reputations are in the toilet could learn from this ‘let’s be honest about what’s wrong and just fix it’ approach.

Political iPhone Apps

In Canada, we are well behind Americans in using social media as a political organizing and advocacy tool, largely as a result of differences in our political systems. In the U.S. individual senators and members of Congress aren’t subject to the party discipline which hampers independent thinking here in Canada.  The flip side is that in the U.S. politicians become the target of interest group pressure and popular advocacy, and the newest channels for pressure are social media.

Ian Capstick at MediaStyle singles out three political iPhone apps, at least two of which could be adapted for use in Canada. One is a complete contact list of members of Congress and their staffs and the other an application which allows users to see “if a brand they are about to purchase is – or is not – supportive of their community.”

]]>
http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/bandwidth/2010/01/29/social-media-advocacy/feed/ 0
Social Media and Civic Engagement http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/bandwidth/2010/01/18/social-media-and-civic-engagement/ http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/bandwidth/2010/01/18/social-media-and-civic-engagement/#comments Mon, 18 Jan 2010 13:49:26 +0000 Boyd Neil 417677:4590288:6328483 The British magazine Prospect featured a debate this month between Evgeny Morozov and Clay Shirky about the advantage -- or danger -- the Web brings to global politics, civic life and the pursuit of such values as freedom, liberty and democracy.

These two examples capture the differing points of view of the two debaters:

First to Clay Shirky:

Nevertheless, I want to defend the notion—which Morozov goes after in the “man most responsible for intellectual confusion” section of his essay—that social media improves political information cascades, as outlined by the political scientist Susanne Lohmann. It also represents a new dynamic within political protest, which will alter the struggle between insurrectionists and the state, even if the state wins in any given clash. Where this will lead to a net advantage for popular uprisings in authoritarian regimes is an open question—and a point on which Morozov and I still disagree on—but the new circumstances of coordinated public action, I believe, marks an essential change in the civilian part of the “arms race.”

Now for Mr. Morozov's rebuttal:

One possible reading of the current situation on the ground in Tehran is that, despite all the political mobilisation facilitated by social media, the Iranian government has not only survived, but has, in fact, become even more authoritarian. The changes currently taking place in Iran are far from positive: a catastrophic brain drain triggered by the recent political repressions, a series of violent crackdowns on politically active university students who have chosen to remain in the country, the persecution of critical bloggers, journalists and editors, the appointment of more conservative ministers to the government, and mounting pressure on dissident politicians. From this perspective, the last six months could be taken to reveal the impotence of decentralised movements in the face of a ruthless authoritarian state—even when those movements are armed with modern protest tools.

I am on Mr. Shirky's side in this debate; as, I suspect, would be New York Times journalist, and Iranian exile, Nazila Fathi who wrote yesterday that "Protest was not about to die in Iran. Neither was news about it, nor our part in telling the story. Three things have made all the difference: the global reach of the Internet; the networking skills of exiled journalists and our sources; and the resourcefulness of Iran’s dissidents in sending information and images out."

Shirky's premise is that we are witnessing a fundamental shift in what he calls civic life. The demos is choosing more and more to play out civic life, and to participate in communities and the politics of their nations, through social media -- Twitter, Facebook, blogs, mobile chats and hundreds of social networks. The effectiveness of these social media today in toppling regimes, or the fascist backlash that sometimes result as Morozov points out, from this digital engagement, is not the crux of the matter.

The question should be: Is the existence of social media changing what we mean by civic life, and how we discuss politics, organize civic action and combat despotic regimes? The answer is yes, and political thugs and petty autocrats should be taking note.

In Canada where the government prorogued parliament for what some felt were cynical and partisan reasons, civic opposition took the form initially in the creation of an anti-prorogation Facebook group. The group offered no suggestions for effective action, just a way to express outrage at what they apparently felt was a haughty political manoeuvre. 

But almost 200,000 people have taken the time to identify themselves as opposing what some called a "sad day for Canadian democracy".  'Question authority' as the slogan from the 1960s urged of us, and they are. Is it enough to change the governing party's mind? Not likely given it's reputation, deserved or otherwise, for being opaque and distant and proud of it . 

However, to continue with the 1960's metaphor, 'somethin's happening here and what it is is EXACTLY clear' (Buffalo Springfield song for those who weren't around). Nearly 200,000 people have taken a step to make their feelings known . . . and in a public way that six or seven years ago would have been impossible.

People in democracies and those suffering under authoritarian regimes are channeling their impatience, indignation and anger through social networks. They are coalescing their opposition in groups mediated through these networks.

And both are just a step away from direct civic engagement and action.

]]>
The British magazine Prospect featured a debate this month between Evgeny Morozov and Clay Shirky about the advantage — or danger — the Web brings to global politics, civic life and the pursuit of such values as freedom, liberty and democracy.

These two examples capture the differing points of view of the two debaters:

First to Clay Shirky:

Nevertheless, I want to defend the notion—which Morozov goes after in the “man most responsible for intellectual confusion” section of his essay—that social media improves political information cascades, as outlined by the political scientist Susanne Lohmann. It also represents a new dynamic within political protest, which will alter the struggle between insurrectionists and the state, even if the state wins in any given clash. Where this will lead to a net advantage for popular uprisings in authoritarian regimes is an open question—and a point on which Morozov and I still disagree on—but the new circumstances of coordinated public action, I believe, marks an essential change in the civilian part of the “arms race.”

Now for Mr. Morozov’s rebuttal:

One possible reading of the current situation on the ground in Tehran is that, despite all the political mobilisation facilitated by social media, the Iranian government has not only survived, but has, in fact, become even more authoritarian. The changes currently taking place in Iran are far from positive: a catastrophic brain drain triggered by the recent political repressions, a series of violent crackdowns on politically active university students who have chosen to remain in the country, the persecution of critical bloggers, journalists and editors, the appointment of more conservative ministers to the government, and mounting pressure on dissident politicians. From this perspective, the last six months could be taken to reveal the impotence of decentralised movements in the face of a ruthless authoritarian state—even when those movements are armed with modern protest tools.

I am on Mr. Shirky’s side in this debate; as, I suspect, would be New York Times journalist, and Iranian exile, Nazila Fathi who wrote yesterday that “Protest was not about to die in Iran. Neither was news about it, nor our part in telling the story. Three things have made all the difference: the global reach of the Internet; the networking skills of exiled journalists and our sources; and the resourcefulness of Iran’s dissidents in sending information and images out.”

Shirky’s premise is that we are witnessing a fundamental shift in what he calls civic life. The demos is choosing more and more to play out civic life, and to participate in communities and the politics of their nations, through social media — Twitter, Facebook, blogs, mobile chats and hundreds of social networks. The effectiveness of these social media today in toppling regimes, or the fascist backlash that sometimes result as Morozov points out, from this digital engagement, is not the crux of the matter.

The question should be: Is the existence of social media changing what we mean by civic life, and how we discuss politics, organize civic action and combat despotic regimes? The answer is yes, and political thugs and petty autocrats should be taking note.

In Canada where the government prorogued parliament for what some felt were cynical and partisan reasons, civic opposition took the form initially in the creation of an anti-prorogation Facebook group. The group offered no suggestions for effective action, just a way to express outrage at what they apparently felt was a haughty political manoeuvre.

But almost 200,000 people have taken the time to identify themselves as opposing what some called a “sad day for Canadian democracy“.  ‘Question authority’ as the slogan from the 1960s urged of us, and they are. Is it enough to change the governing party’s mind? Not likely given it’s reputation, deserved or otherwise, for being opaque and distant and proud of it .

However, to continue with the 1960’s metaphor, ’somethin’s happening here and what it is is EXACTLY clear’ (Buffalo Springfield song for those who weren’t around). Nearly 200,000 people have taken a step to make their feelings known . . . and in a public way that six or seven years ago would have been impossible.

People in democracies and those suffering under authoritarian regimes are channeling their impatience, indignation and anger through social networks. They are coalescing their opposition in groups mediated through these networks.

And both are just a step away from direct civic engagement and action.

]]>
http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/bandwidth/2010/01/18/social-media-and-civic-engagement/feed/ 0
Future of Newspapers – Debate Rages (?) http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/bandwidth/2009/08/14/future-of-newspapers-debate-rages/ http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/bandwidth/2009/08/14/future-of-newspapers-debate-rages/#comments Fri, 14 Aug 2009 20:05:54 +0000 Boyd Neil tag:typepad.com,2003:post-6a00d83451d94369e20120a4f5787c970b Debate about the future of newspapers won’t die for some time yet I think . . . at least among journalists, news media watchers, some bloggers and Clay Shirky.

Roy Greenslade on Greenslade Blog wrote this week on newspapers and magazines charging for their online content. Greenslade’s title alone raises the key question: "Paid content is all the rage with US publishers – but where’s the proof that anyone will pay?"

I chuckled over the comment from Steven Brill, founder of Journalism Online, in the piece that JO "has helped shift the debate over charging for online news from ‘if’ to ‘when and how’" because beleaguered publishers have moved past the "abstract debate" to agree that paid content is the way ahead." (JO’s goal is to help them get there.)

Now there’s a shock right? Publishers think the solution to declining print revenues is to charge people for accessing onlne content.

Megan McArdlein The Atlantic online framed the debate marvellously this way "The problem besetting newspapers is not that there are hordes of bloggers giving it away for free . . . Even if every newspaper and magazine in the country entered into a binding cartel agreement not to put more than a smidgen of free content on their websites, newspapers would still be losing money, and closing by the dozens.  It’s the economics, stupid . . . We’re witnessing the death of a business model."

So how exactly is pushing people to pay for online content recognizing, as people like Shirky and McArdle (and dozens of others) have been rightly trying to point out, that the paid online content model which has been tried many times before will not revive the fortunes of "old" media.

]]>
http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/bandwidth/2009/08/14/future-of-newspapers-debate-rages/feed/ 0
TechCrunch-Twitter Dust-Up http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/bandwidth/2009/07/17/techcrunch-twitter-dust-up-2/ http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/bandwidth/2009/07/17/techcrunch-twitter-dust-up-2/#comments Fri, 17 Jul 2009 20:33:02 +0000 tag:typepad.com,2003:post-6a00d83451d94369e2011572137413970b Some bickering broke out this week between Michael Arrington at TechCrunch and the folks at Twitter about some documents leaked to Mr. Arrington and then published in a column/post. I haven’t been following the chatter about it, but there is a good summary at Social Media Today.

What caught my eye from Amy Mengel’s report was this comment:

"But, let’s all remember that bloggers, like Arrington, aren’t journalists.
They don’t operate under a professional code of ethics. they don’t report to an
editor or publisher who tells them what to write about or what they can or can’t
reveal. Many of them are ethical, many of them are former journalists, many of
them would have chosen not to publish the documents."

Separate from the facts or otherwise of the particular events (now heading to the courts apparently), the question in my mind is this: When does a blogger who writes for a group-edited blog become de facto a journalist and perhaps subject to the same standards of ethical conduct to which journalists are expected to adhere (to the extent that they do in reality anyway)?

Wikipedia describes Mr. Arrington — a lawyer — as a "founder/co-editor" of TechCrunch. Many think of TechCrunch as an online news source. So, if it walks like a duck and talks like a duck . . . ?

]]>
http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/bandwidth/2009/07/17/techcrunch-twitter-dust-up-2/feed/ 0