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Posts Tagged ‘Facebook’

Paper 1.0 vs Web 2.0 for Environmental NGOs?

Posted by envirostats on Saturday, December 27, 2008

The Ecology Action Centre (EAC), an environmental non-governmental organization (ENGO) in Halifax, Nova Scotia, recently put out a call for volunteers and paid personnel to help produce and sell ad space for its Between the Issues (BTI) paper magazine “to help BTI pay for itself”.

At a key point for the future of the magazine, EAC opted to seek replacements: paid editor, commissioned ad sales rep and volunteer distributors to continue producing the 32-48 page full colour magazine. I’m blogging to debate the economic, media, environmental and public perception merits for an ENGO to be staying on Paper 1.0 (or Web 1.0 with non-interactive PDF online) when the world is already on Web 2.0, where EAC could produce something as simple as a blog.

Here were arguments provided to continue the paper publication, by an EAC staff. I won’t identify my source beyond that because I consider him/her a friend, comments were through Facebook comments and my source did acknowledge he/she were not in the position to be having this debate so it was all informal by me.

EAC did have “a long complex discussion behind this that relates to the demographics of membership; the level of tech comfort in the green citizenry of NS, our mission / audience; the practicality of existing off web ads at this point in time in this constrained market; control of the message and quality of this, our primary high end communication tool with the majority of our membership; the ability to consider this a membership benefit. The time for the online blog / mag is coming.”

Furthermore, “…overestimating Nova Scotia. Our audience is Nova Scotia. There are still areas with no high speed. Yes, the world you and I inhabit is all about web 2.0, but I’d need some proof that there are people outside major media that are actually making money at online advertising in a NS environment. There are lots of online resources. BTI serves a very constrained purpose. We are not trying to be all things to all people. With all due respect, what you propose goes beyond a simple individually run blog… The reputation of EAC is tied up in BTI and a lot of people are invested in that. The choice to go paperfree is coming, but it can’t be rushed.

If that were really a fair representation of EAC’s stance, I would politely say I think that’s very reactionary in nature for what I know to be a proactive organization. My arguments included the following.

Audience reach
EAC’s great work deserves to be for more than Nova Scotians. Also, you can’t Google stories in a PDF as EAC shares them now. Then, add social bookmarks to help readers recommend quality stories, for which they have many. Record readership on views (including locally with widgets like Feedjit) and engagement on number of comments to “prove” blog value for ad sales. If EAC still wants to have some paper copies, email sources the files to print out laser copies or deliver similar printouts that will be less resource intensive than full colour publications.

Audience access
The young will read it online, and feeds should be supplied to notify of new posts. As for older generations, even grandparents are tech-savvy these days because it’s how they can best stay in touch with their grand kids (or photos of them by Parents on Facebook, Flickr, Myspace, etc.). Nova Scotia’s Premier Rodney MacDonald has also committed to providing broadband access to the entire province by the end of 2009 that is well under way. Even on dial-up, though, blogs are not bandwidth intensive to upload. Put a few paper copies in select places if still desired.

Audience engagement
This is the huge factor. Magazines just don’t bring the audience interaction a blog with comments could. It is also less convenient to ask questions than typing in comments reading it online. As well, published thrice annually, it is a long time between issues. A blog could spread the stories to one per week or more frequently, keeping the audience interested all year round. If EAC wants to build audience base, this is what they have to be doing. Reaching and losing readers because they weren’t effectively engaged due to one way information presented is so old skool.

Economics
On the cost side, a blog doesn’t cost much to run, even if done on house resources rather than freely like at WordPress.com, mapped to EAC’s domain. Money for paper design and print could be put towards guest writers, although I’m sure EAC has plenty of great volunteer contributors. On the revenue side, given enough readership, which I am confident EAC could attract, they could sell online ads the same way they sell paper ads. Better, they could sell ads at much smaller rates for shorter durations (monthly versus once every 4 months) that would likely bring in more clients who have smaller ad budgets in these tough economic times. They also wouldn’t need many ads to profit on a smaller cost budget, and could rotate ads to get more ads!

Public perception
EAC is continuing to produce a full colour paper magazine when it has a choice to go completely online, without loss of jobs as they are seeking replacements to people leaving, staying in a medium that does not engage nearly as big an audience as it could be, nor as well. As an environmentalist and Web 2.0 participant, I can only say I am frankly disappointed, both philosophically and in it not reaching its potential.

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I’d love to hear your views on this matter. Please leave a comment!

(I realize the print readers aren’t present much to reply so please include or be considerate of their views! Thank you.)

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947 words
Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level: 8.8

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Posted in Canada, Demographics, Economics, Environment, Facebook, Internet, Moral Issues, Nova Scotia, Paper, Public Opinion, Social Issues, Sustainability | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

My Experience Breaking a National Story

Posted by envirostats on Thursday, December 18, 2008

10 PM Tuesday night, my friend D let me break news of her Cdn marathon record national story on my blog. Abbreviations are used to prevent conflict with the original story’s online search prominence.

Of course, my post wasn’t a national story of national media calibre, but it was important to communities like runners, Masters athletes, Nova Scotians, etc. and it was national because it involved a 17 year old national record. In breaking the story, I experienced the alternative media breaking news phenomenon I’ve only ever heard about… something many bloggers and journalists dream about but never get to do. For that, I am most grateful to D to indulge my idea I had while running, and enjoyed my experience immensely.

I was extremely happy to give D the attention she deserved. By that I mean early notice and story details, not audience because this blog’s audience comprise of users the world over searching for information available from past posts that were mostly related to the environment — not running, breaking news, local stories, etc. That said, word got around quickly with assistance of email and Facebook notifications through sharing it as a profile link. I also notified key media people and central people in relevant communities, as did D. Not a bad media strategy.

Using my blog, I was not constrained to story length. I was able to give more than race results and stories. D is a wonderful human being all around and I took time to convey that. I also had good pictures of D to use.

The story was immediately searchable and available to all online, not needing to wait for media’s working schedule. It was big news for D to share and I didn’t want to be subject to media’s timeline. I also made sure all the vital keywords were used, tagged and categorized so the story would be prominent in the blogosphere and to future searching fans of D. This was about now, but also hereafter!

Of course, in breaking a story, I had to provide proof, and this took me an unexpectedly long time. Not that I didn’t appreciate the work journalists have to do in their work to provide credibility before, but experiencing things first hand, walking a mile in one’s shoes as the saying goes, always gives true enlightenment. Like Confucius once said – I hear and I forget, I see and I remember, I do and I understand.

For proof, I had a disclosed, non-public source a step away from confirming, which I was able to bridge in what could be called a media coup d’état! I had to find the current records, which, disappointingly, was not easy to find online given a prominent organization had them! I had public rankings of current performance. I had proof of age with D’s own admission, though I purposely left out her birthday to avoid leaving vital statistic information about people online for identity theft prevention best practices. I see some media stories did not do that and if you asked me, I’d say they should know better! Besides, since when was mass media publicizing a woman’s age to the day so socially acceptable? 🙂

The real surprise in my research, though, was the confusion with the terms Masters versus 40 and over to properly classify D’s record. There was a whole story behind that which I wrote in the Research Notes section at the end of my post. It was so silly and stupid I could not refrain from making an unprofessional comment for a joke, which the blog media can easily afford unlike more mainstream media articles.

The most fun I had, though, was notifying media outlets of D’s accomplishment, with supporting information in my post freely available, and some of their hesitation at my lack of credibility. That’s fine. I understand. I just found it amusing. I can’t claim with certain my potential influence on media proceedings after my post, and don’t pretend I had any, but it was fun to know D got an e-media scrum Wednesday, and to see stories where some notification was given. Some of these were hastily put together with bad formatting, spelling mistakes, impromptu content flow, etc. that were a little less than professional. Perhaps they were Net savvy enough to know time lost meant more hits and prominence to my post over theirs? I did not link to these poorly formatted stories as they may be fixed now.

So while my experience was nothing grandiose, it was definitely a little thrill for what might have been a once in a lifetime experience. You know, some people live for the moment, but I live for the moments. This was great, but it was even better because it was a good news story about someone wonderful and her great accomplishments.

Thanks D! I know you’ve got more records in you and I hope you’ll let me break a few more if circumstances permit.

852 words (not subject to my personal 500 word guideline for Personal Reflection posts)

Posted in Canada, Facebook, Internet, Lifestyle, Nova Scotia, Personal Reflection, Social Issues | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

The Guideline Policy Tool, Or Should I Call It “Style”?

Posted by envirostats on Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Last month, I shared my Practical Guide to Facebook Etiquette (Netiquette), serving as a starting point from which people could customize their own Facebook Netiquette to help stay out of potential trouble with their Facebook activities. I chose that approach because it:
– was customizable to suit different individuals;
– was easily found by all wanting to know;
– was self-taught so all finding it could use it;
– had more details than “general advice” that already existed in excess, often neither effective nor comprehensive.

Since then, I’ve realized there are many problems for which the guideline policy “tool” or “style” would be perfect. These are problems where there may not be a clear entity expected to intervene or solve, like government, or none that can effectively do so, but problems where a little suggestion of practical action could help put it under the radar. These are problems involving legal human behaviours that can amount to big impact, for which there are no “obvious” answers unless one really thinks about it, for which effective guidelines could remove 90% of that work. These are problems resembling social epidemics from individual choice that can have impact from societal to environmental.

Why I think the guideline policy style would be so effective is because humans don’t like to be forced. We like choices, though too many choices can lead to decisional paralysis. The guideline policy style strikes a nice balance of convenience and individuality by giving starting points with options, and saving much thinking and research. The guidelines won’t ever be intended to solve problem entirely, due to voluntary uptake, but they can be expected to solve the problem sufficiently that it should no longer be a concern, to the individual or masses.

There are two main challenges to the guideline policy style approach. One is getting the word out, which a little Internet saviness can solve. The second is credibility. An effective set of guidelines could slowly build this, but the tiniest authoritative backing, by even just one person who might be viewed as authoritative enough to validate it, would be a tremendous boost. Any other source generally viewed to be authoritative enough to validate the guidelines would even be better, maybe like government, which should get involved, where possible, because guidelines are not intrusive in nature. I’ll leave it to you to imagine the difference between guidelines, credible or not, by someone unknown as me, compared to one by, say, government or a school board, accompanied with a press release or maybe just one journalist invited in for a newspaper story.

As a result of these conclusions, I have created a Guidelines Category on this blog in which I will be posting more guideline policies as I find problems I think I can help solve. If you have any suggestions, please share. I’m not promising to be able to solve everything or even try some,  just willing to share some common sense and putting some effort to package it in practical ways to freely share with others.

500 words

Posted in Canada, Guidelines, Internet, Lifestyle, Nova Scotia, Personal Reflection, Social Issues, World | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Are You Around Careless Facebook Users?

Posted by envirostats on Sunday, December 7, 2008

I’ve written a series of posts recently on Facebook etiquette (or Netiquette) that users might want to pay attention to in order to keep themselves out of trouble or limiting their potential for jobs, scholarships and so on (short Practical Guide; details in Part 1, Part 2, Part 3,). If you’re a Facebook user, maybe you’ve learned or maybe you’ve never needed to learn because you’ve been careful.

However, the other potential for damage related to Facebook presence is that just by being around careless, or intentionally malicious, Facebook users, you could get yourself in trouble, whether or not you even use Facebook!

Think about that statement for a few seconds, because this is going to ultimately affect pretty much everyone given how many Facebook users there are in most countries around the world, but especially North America where it is so prevalent, spread all around rather than just isolated in any regions. It is also the far more difficult thing to avoid because you are not taking the action, and could be drunk or just not paying attention, so it’s not as obvious to you.

You are constantly going to have to be aware of your actions in public now as if you are a superstar or media figure. It’d be on a smaller scale cause you might not be on People’s magazine or the National Examiner, likely, but if it potentially affects you on the job, or keep you from getting one, or a scholarship for students who are most prone to all this stuff, it’s going to be a lot worse to your life than an appearance on a national magazine. So if you’re one of these people who want to be like a star, this is one very good reason you can do that. Just act like a good superstar, careful of what you say, but especially what you do that might be caught in photos or videos from anything like cell phones or video cameras, from your friends’ parties to public concerts where people are recording for YouTube sharing. I realize this is a lot harder to do when you’re drunk, but if you keep it on your mind, you might remember every now and then.  And if you doubt what I’m saying about the superstar approach, don’t ever go around thinking you’re not significant enough to ignore it. Sure, you might not be Sean Avery or Britney Spears where people are hanging on your every word and/or action, but to the people possibly hiring you, working with you, or potentially offering you scholarships, you certainly are and they will be hanging on everything you do, especially big corporations and institutions who have something to protect but also have resources to screen your on-line or Facebook presence!

Now, I know teachers who are very wary of this sort of thing because they know their young students are out there on Facebook and in the world with their cameras, and would love to see their teachers doing something inappropriate, whether to see the teacher out of his/her shell or to use it for a joke and to get at the teacher for something. However, even the very best of those who are constantly in the media spotlight, whose job involves the media, forget about this, and that’s why I’m posting this with emphasis.

Just the other day, Jon Favreau, who was  Barack Obama’s chief speechwriter for his campaign season and who likely has some future White House speechwriting role for Obama now that he is President, was in a photo at a party where he posed with his hand grabbing the breast of a life sized cardboard cut out of Senator Hillary Clinton (CNN, Dec 6 2008). To make things worse, it seemed he was the one who posted the photo, even though he’s in it so maybe it was his camera, but maybe it was someone else’s. The article was not clear on that. While Favreau took off the photo just 2 hours after posting, it was reported, and every other photo of himself except his profile, you should also know what’s on Facebook is Facebook property forever so there was no taking it back!

You did know that, right?

Hmm. I’m having doubts on that one. It’s an old topic but maybe I’ll post something about it to tie it into another idea I had. Regardless, you’d best be careful, even the photos you currently have on Facebook even now if you have stardom aspiration of any form, whether as a movie or music star, politician, serial killer or otherwise. Not to worry about Facebook digging up stuff on you cause that’s probably malicious intent you can sue them for, but if it’s there and someone identifies you, copies it to send to media, it’s not Facebook’s fault any more!

So beware of those careless Facebook users around you, whether or not you use Facebook!

Oh, as for Favreau, he did apologize to Senator Hillary Clinton, who has acknowledged his interest in working for the State Department but is still reviewing his application. Hmmm. This should be interesting. Even if he were hired, there are still going to be some awkward moments, I think, especially if she is his boss or client, as in having him write some speeches for her on certain topics every now and then. Let’s see what happens.

Posted in Asia, Canada, European Union, Facebook, Guidelines, Internet, Lifestyle, Nova Scotia, Poll, Social Issues, United Kingdom, United States, World | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Institutional Banning of Facebook

Posted by envirostats on Thursday, December 4, 2008

In Canada, the public service and political provincial government of Ontario did it (May 3 2007). The University of Concordia did it (Sep 17 2008). Most recently, the public school system in New Brunswick did it (Nov 21 2008). No, they didn’t fall in love, but rather banned of Facebook so that all of their computers cannot access Facebook.

What do I think of it?

From the institutions’ perspective, sure, why not? All it begets you is computer problems (Koobface virus is the rage at time of posting, Globe & Mail Dec 5 2008), potential wasted staff/student time, the occasional public relations nightmare by your staff/student’s Facebook actions, maybe the odd stalker incident that challenges your security responsiblities, maybe organized protests to tarnish your name or even against you, and who knows what else as the technology develops and people use it in new ways. Given all that, why wouldn’t you ban Facebook?

There is some good that can come from Facebook, but it’s not like you get credit for it cause it’s your staff/students doing it, and unless they were paid to do it, even a good thing can be criticized for time that might or should have been spent doing something else… like their paid work for organizations like government? Government doesn’t need reinforcing of stereotypes about their work ethic, which is wrong for the most part, speaking as an insider.

As for some services you might cut off in banning Facebook, it’s not like your staff’s or students’ lives would be really affected by not having Facebook for a few hours a day. That would be your own disillusion of self-importance. There are other means to get around anything that might be that urgently needed that might be really needed via Facebook.

All and all, there isn’t really a lot of good that an institution can get from allowing Facebook usage on their computers.

Now, as for the user’s claim for freedom of access, information and such, there’s one easy rebuttal to that. It’s not their computer, network, bandwidth or anything like that, so they can shush, to put it politely. Maybe if they were willing to be monitored for time spent, both how much and when, pay for IT services incurred by problems they bring in like Facebook viruses, and so on, then perhaps we can have a discussion. However, I doubt they’d agree to that. Besides, this institutional banning only affects the institution’s computers. All their staff/students can still access Facebook on their computers and some cell phones, so long as they are not using the institution’s networks. It’s not a zone out.

So given these views, do I think Facebook should be banned institutionally?

Surprisingly, my answer is not necessarily, although it borders on the obvious because of proactivity rather than reactivity. You know, the proverbial prevention being better than a cure. However, some might argue that until signs of a problem start showing up, maybe there is no need to do anything about it. It’s not the way I would handle this policy with Facebook problems popping up everywhere of the kinds mentioned since I only gave examples I knew happened. That’s why I had posted my Facebook etiquette posts starting about a month ago. However, I could appreciate the argument, and I’ll leave it at that. Decisions to institutionally ban Facebook would not be popular, but fortunately, I’m nowhere near in the position to make such a decision… just blog about it.

 
 

Posted in Canada, Facebook, Guidelines, Internet, Lifestyle, Poll, Social Issues | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »