Making my Web experience Delicious

7 11 2009

Bookmarking online content has become a relatively commonplace activity. I bet if you were to ask a random sampling of Internet users if they have bookmarked content recently, many would answer in the affirmative. With this in mind, I recently made a concerted effort to utilize a pretty nifty bookmarking application called Delicious.

Before I continue, I should preface that I have previously harbored great resistance to Delicious because I did not see its purpose. As I saw things, why would I want to go through the trouble of downloading this application when I already had the power to bookmark online content through my web browser? Well, my friends, here is what helps set Delicious apart from the pack: versatility. Delicious is unique because instead of saving metadata to your computer in the manner that a web browser bookmark would, Delicious saves this data independently from your computer. What this means is that every single webpage you bookmarked is accessible every time you log online, on any computer.

Since I started to work Delicious into my online user experience, I have been impressed. Now that I have taken the first step, I have grown to really like the tool. To make your experience even more user friendly, I highly suggest downloading the Delicious toolbar so you have easy access to Delicious features through a series of several little buttons installed on your standard web browser.

Since I am not someone who is a major bookmarking fiend, I am not necessarily using the full capability that Delicious has to offer. However, if you are one of those people who bookmarks dozens of sites each day, Delicious is very capable of taking on the task of easily organizing and categorizing all this data. Unlike standard web browser bookmarking, Delicious makes it very easy to arrange all bookmarks in precisely the organizational manner you the user sees best to fit your purposes. It all comes back to versatility. Delicious has done well to make bookmarking content a more user-friendly experience.

Meshing marketing with social media = tips

28 10 2009

As you read this, people are logging online. Many people in fact. Many of whom you will never meet. You will never get to shake their hands or share a hug with any of them.

Imagine that scenario from a marketer’s perspective. Your goal, hence your livelihood, depends on connecting with those online strangers. Questions is, how in the world can that be done and done effectively? Increasingly, one answer is social media.

Just as the name implies, social media revolves around the idea that people can build a relationship of sorts with others, who they have not physically met and probably never will, by bridging their solidarity with shared interests. If you are a marketer, it is imperative you harness these opportunities to some degree. In order to do this, it would be wise to begin your marketing endeavor by reading Jessica Want’s post at iMedia Connection. As an information architect at the New York City interactive marketing agency Flightpath, she provides some insightful perspectives on how to go about making social media work for your intended purposes.

It may seem simply silly to state this but I bet some folks out there fail to relate this pretty important component of social media, relate to the audience! There is no way any marketing venture will result in satisfactory results if no attempts are made first to understand the audience, what they are like, how to they see things, how do they feel about particular issues. Basically, this is the equivalent of electronically walking in the audience’s shows. Taking the time to do this sort of activity will likely provide solid dividends down the line.

Unless full faith can be had in independently owned online spaces, it would be helpful to own your own parcel of online real estate to use as the launching pad for any interactive social marketing campaign. The form of this space can take on a plethora of forms, depending on many factors such as your target audience or financial considerations. Whatever form the space takes on, it’s success will be restricted if it isn’t easy! Remember the old adage, “Keep it simple, stupid!” Well, it is very apt in this type of situation. Don’t build a marketing effort through social media where users have to go through cumbersome registrations, perform security checks, sell their favorite pair of jeans or go download a hefty file that will take occupy a nice chunk of their hard disk. These are not easy. They are not generally fun; at least I am making a guess the majority of people would not be smiling after all of these tasks.

To be clear, this is not an exhaustive list of tips on creating social media that is actually useable. Rather, it is meant to bring attention to the topic and highlight a couple of what I think are the most important points presented by Ms. Want. I encourage you to read more at her post. What do you know; I am being social and utilizing media doing it! It is funny how things work out that way.

Impacting music through interactive media application

23 10 2009

As a nascent interactive media student, I am just beginning to understand and apply concepts relating to the form and function of interactive media. One such example of this application is forthcoming in a small group project. Within this vein, everything revolves around a band…

Hypothetically speaking, a band

Hypothetically speaking, a band

The project is one that I consider to hold great potential if approached with a solid footing and appropriate resources. We are currently in the discover phase of working with an established band to understand how we can best apply interactive media principles, along with our collective skill sets, to elevate the band into the next level of music world bliss. Is it too much for us to handle? I don’t think so, as long as we have a clear roadmap of the bands aspirations. In the first discussion our group held with one of the band’s founders, it was clear that there are at least two key areas where the band feels they are lacking. The first is a lack of micomedia presence. They have social media presence established, such as Facebook and Myspace. However, they self admit that they have avoided venturing into Twitter and similar tools because they are unsure of the point behind their use. Another area where there is room for improvement relates to the bands electronic press kit. This feature is pretty important when considering that many times this is the tool on the forefront of the bands image, the first exposure a performance venue may have with the band. If the press kit appears to be of a template design, where the true identity of the band is constrained, this presents a problem.

I am excited to explore how my skills, matched with those of my group, will mesh with the future trajectory of an interesting musical group. More and more musical personalities are moving greater resources into online spaces to connect with audiences in various interactive manners. If our group can better connect this band with their established fan base, we have provided a service. However, if we can expand the band’s fan base by reaching those who would be interested in their music if only they knew of their existence, we maybe on to the beginning of something big.

Prism of Self Promotion?

10 10 2009

The online, hyper connected world can be a scary place. This can be especially true when entering the fray from a business perspective, where the intent is to cultivate interest so that revenue generation can result to some degree or another. One tool that has received significant buzz online is The Conversation Prism. What is The Conversation Prism? The answer to that question is debatable, although the most clear-cut answer comes from its creator, Brian Solis, who says that it “helps chart online conversations between the people that populate communities as well as the networks that connect the Social Web.” What does this mean? How can we trust his perspective on this issue? I wonder about the answers to those very questions. Either Solis is a rather insightful individual regarding the social media landscape or he knows how to talk himself up very well online. This maybe particularly so when you consider he has established his career based upon this information visualization.

I think that the attempt made by The Conversation Prism to provide a level of basic understanding to communication relationships is a noble one, however I do not completely agree with it. One of the most glaring problems is the coloration used throughout the visualization. Several classmates noted this during classes this week, opining that the colors simply serve to dress up the diagram at the cost of diluting the message. Since the diagram roughly takes the shape of a flower, why is it that some “petals” are warmer colors such as red, orange and yellow while others are cool colors like variations of blue and greens? Do these stipulate differences in user interactivity levels of the mediums contained within these “petals”? Had I been in charge of crafting a similar model, while maintaining the general guise of Solis’ creation, I would have done away with the color pallet, instead vesting interest in a uniform neutral background for every portion of The Conversation Prism. In this sense, there would be little or no suggestion that one area of the Prism is more dynamic, active etc. than any others.

The Conversation Prism is an interesting tool but I think it has served most poignantly as a self-promotion lightning rod for Solis. In the world that exists today, change is constant. In turn, a visual such as this will not remain up-to-date unless it is changed constantly. There are much too many social media communication channels and tools to account for and summarizing their supposed relationships in one crafty graphic is not realistic. The Conversation Prism is a resource of note but should not be used as a primary representation of online communications today. A better grasp of these complexities comes from hard work and first-hand experience in your own field. Having a poster of the Prism hanging on your office wall may look nice but trust your gut when it comes to making strategic decisions in the online space.

Maximizing netiquette

2 10 2009

In the world of information abundance that is blossoming online, it is amazing that so many websites have managed to survive. Do not misinterpret this to mean websites do not fail. Oh no, some absolutely do fail. More specifically what I mean is how certain websites are able to carve out their own niche and present information in ways that attracts attention. Looking at this scenario, it is the cumulative effect had from employing numerous little tricks and tweaks that make a website a dominant force online. We centered much of the class discussion on Thursday to the ways and means by which this can be done.

One such technique is ensuring the alt tag for your website is a mirror for the underlying purpose or intent of the entire site through the posted images. If your website discusses the health benefits of salsa, do not place the word “Mexico” in the alt tag representing the image or else this gives the impression that the content throughout the site is relating only to Mexico! Plus, search engines regard these tags highly in helping to quickly sort and distinguish which search results hold relevance to what a user is looking for. Along similar lines, syndication can open up tremendous possibilities for your site when it comes to people looking for specific topics. I love the idea of syndication online. My opinion of it in broadcasting is a complete 180-degree shift, but that could be a whole different blog post. Anyways, syndication is a tremendous means of building your brand and showing that you are a heavy hitter, you know what you are talking about if other websites and their operators are willing to showcase your work within their online real estate. Assuming now that you have attracted viewers to your site, either directly or through syndication, peoples’ eyes are exploring what’s there. How do you know what is the most popular page on the website? Sure, you could made a guess based solely on comments people leave on each page but this may not be an accurate accounting for how users are dividing their time while visiting. This is where the tremendous advantages of Google Analytics data can come to the rescue. Seeing real quantitative data reflecting how people maneuver around your website can go a long way in future content development. In a sense, it is similar to getting inside the user’s mind and studying a snapshot of how users see your website and the intent behind their visit. Websites can be made much stronger and more relevant due to the use of this information.

The aforementioned techniques are only a sampling of what can be done to make a website garner attention. But, each one can pack a powerful punch when used effectively. I like the idea of maximizing your website, even if it is just using one powerful technique at a time.

Passing through “Elsewhere”

24 09 2009

Wednesday’s class was unique. For the first time in, I have to really jog my memory here, years where I went on a fieldtrip. Yes, reread that last sentence to make sure it sunk in. A graduate student going on a field trip, has a comical ring to it doesn’t it?

The trip was one that broke the mold of what class is like within a classroom. It was planned that way on multiple levels. The field trip was to an institution of sorts in Greensboro, North Carolina called Elsewhere. The former retail space is literally a living time capsule, frozen in time. Think of it this way, the camera shutter opened in 1939 (when the store opened) and snapped closed in 1997 (when the original owner passed away). Throughout that time, items was collected and stored. Item after item brought into the space, never to leave. It was within this foundation that our class was to identify our memories through physical objects contained inside the building.

View from inside Elsewhere, looking towards the front

View from inside Elsewhere, looking towards the front

Trying to make sense of the plethora of items ranging from toys and books to clothes and luggage was challenging. I kept asking myself, how can I identify myself, my family, memories I can recall, from all of this stuff? Searching amongst everything did eventually provide me traction in advancing my memories to seemingly random physical objects. This was the underlying point of the exercise. Port keys are a name for an object, a representation that leads to a deeper meaning, in this case memories. In essence, I was looking for my port keys. Tasked with identifying objects for categories such as family, community, entertainment, ancestry, nature and discipline/career required me to look beyond their mere physical presence. Instead, looking at meaning, applying this physical object to something much more significant than in its singular form. Although I was wary of this approach on first inspection, it grew on me. At this point, I am not sure the pictures I did capture do an accurate job visually articulating meaning to the life experiences of my family and myself. Moving forward, I am hoping that I can hone in on the most expressive links between physical space, Elsewhere, and the expression of who I am as a person through memory triggers.

Who knew….all those objects do have stories to tell!

A confluence of words and a concept

18 09 2009

Earlier today while sitting down and thinking over class thus far in the semester, my mind started connecting words on a page — which I will explain below — to words delivered via Skype in class. The parallel brought life to a concept that was initially introduced to me as ink on a piece of paper.

The words on a page, ink on paper references are to the material covered in the enlightening book “Groundswell” by Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff. While reading through sections of the book and understanding how the power of people can turn a traditional business operation upside down among other things, I could not shake, nor did I want to, a fundamental message found on page 18. That message reads as follows: “…concentrate on the relationships, not the technologies.” These words carry significant weight in light of the breakneck speed of online expansion. However, these words also carried a personal significance. To elaborate on this, I should reference a class discussion with Mark Luckie.

The opportunity for our class to hold a Skype discussion with Mr. Luckie was a great means of personalizing concepts relating to the online landscape. One of the difficulties I have found myself having in the online world is with blogs. Now that I am blogging for several classes, I have found myself being stumped what to write about or how to write about a topic. I have asked myself why write about Topic A when it seems multitudes of other people out there have been writing about Topic A for months or years before I entered the blogging scene. I am not looking to beat a dead horse. The discussion with Mr. Luckie provided perspective though. While struggling to find my “voice” online and write as I feel comfortable expressing myself, Mr. Luckie made a very worthwhile comment. He noticed that since he started blogging on a regular basis it is almost always the blog posts of his that are last minute that garner the greatest interest and reader response. This was a valuable realization for me. This casual comment showed what happens when a blogger, a rather good one at that, find their voice. Mr. Luckie has found his voice and has virtually run with it ever since. He seems comfortable in what he writes about and how he frames his message. Due to this, people enjoy what he discusses and they are drawn to participate in what he has to say. I hope that through the “Groundswell” message and Mr. Luckie’s lessons I can harness my voice online in the near future