Tag Archive | "new media"

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Don’t Thank Your Famous Fans

Frequently, when I start following a new blog or Twitter account, I get a note that says something like, “Thanks so much for following me! I’ve read your stuff for a while and I love it – look forward to chatting!!”

That’s flattering, but truly unnecessary. The fact is, I (and I suspect that this is true among many others) don’t follow you because we want to chat, or because we want to boost your ego. I follow something you’re doing because you have information and I want it.

It’s as simple as that. I think that your blog might help me learn, I think that your Facebook page may have interesting events I should know about, I think that your Twitter feed may have local news before someone else’s, I think that your YouTube channel will make me laugh. You see, it’s all about me. I think, I want, I need.

People are selfish. They do things that benefit them. Now sure, I become friends with people I interact with on the Web, and sure, I chat with people, and sure, I can be generous to them. But there’s no need to thank me. I’ve already rewarded me by following you.

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Animal Behavior: How Microsharing is Like the Honeybee Waggle Dance

Some of my readers may know that my background is in scientific research, and more specifically on the neurogenetics of animal behavior. One of the projects I was fortunate to be involved with was the International Honeybee Genome Project, within which I analyzed a family of proteins that likely underlies some of the social instincts that species exhibits. One behavior that honeybees perform is the “waggle dance,” in which a forgaging bee leaves the hive in search of a food resource, finds it, and then returns to the hive to report the good news via dancing. The speed of the dance is inversely related to the distance to the food, and the angle at which the dance is performed is directly related to the placement of the food in relation to the sun’s place in the sky (amazing, right?). Honeybees have been doing this for a long time, long before humans invented these “new” social media tools. Twitter and similar microsharing services like Identi.ca perform the same basic function. Twitter caught fire at the SXSW conference, where people would report that a certain afterparty was awesome, or too crowded, and attract or repel others to/from the location with the “resources” (free booze). Is this really so different from a waggle dance?

I had an interesting discussion about digital communication today at the international marketing and communications firm Fleishman-Hillard (thanks Rachelle Lacroix!) today, and one thing we discussed was why so many people seemingly still know very little about social media, generally speaking. Related to that, I’m fascinated by people’s fascination with the fact that I’m a scientist who’s gotten interested in social media and Government 2.0 – to me it just makes sense. It’s just one big animal behavior problem.

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Microsoft Public Sector: The Bright Side of Government?

My colleague Steve Lunceford from Deloitte called my attention to a new Facebook Fan Page that Microsoft Public Sector (government group) started, called “The Bright Side of Government.” From an initial glance, it looks pretty cool. First, there are a lot of nice features, including YouTube videos from Microsoft principals, and links to local and state governments using emerging technologies in new ways. There’s a theme to the page that’s greater than the Microsoft brand. And there are some links to other sites like Twitter and LinkedIn where people can connect deeper or converse with the people behind the site.

In the recent past, I’ve been somewhat critical of the Federal government’s Facebook Fan Pages; perhaps this “cause branding” tactic is something that Web and Public Affairs folks in the government should look at. For example, rather than have an EPA “Fan Page” (Who’s truly a fan of the Environmental Protection Agency? How many people wake up in the morning excited about new environmental regulations or inland waterway policy?), have a page devoted to news and information, and yes, fandom, over a larger movement: “Green for America, Green for Everyone” (or whatever).

Second, there is a call to action on the Fan Page. At the time I looked at the page, the status update stated: “Is your city/county/state/agency on Facebook? Share it with us so we can add it to the Bright Side Stars tab!” One of the biggest challeges I’ve faced as co-chair of the Government 2.0 Expo is finding local government success stories in the realm of social technology and new media; The bright Side of Government may become a resource people like me who are trying to plan well-balanced and thoughtful events in the Gov 2.0 space. People and groups that develop unique resources and generously give them to the community develop strong brand engagement with their communities.This isn’t a fair post, because I’m not looking at other companies. Who else in Microsoft’s sector (Intel, Apple, Cisco, Google…) has something similar, or worse? What about brands more generally, how does this effort by Microsoft Public Sector stack up?

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Washington DC’s Most Creative New Media People [including me!]

I’m pleased to say that I made Washington Life’s “Creative List” of people working with new media this month. There are some other great people on the list, including Peter Corbett of iStrategyLabs, Teresa Carlson of Microsoft, Alec Ross of the State Department, Shana Glickfield of NextGenWeb.org, and more. Check them out!

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Seed-Funded Psychometric Web Identity Startup Looking for Chief Scientist

So my buddy Tim Koelkebeck of Apps for Democracy fame has a new startup called MyType that’s looking for a chief scientist. And the company sounds like they might be on to something important (I have a Ph.D. in animal behavior, so I know this stuff, okay?? :)   How can I deny Tim access to my social network of govies, techies, and influencers? Hope that some of you or your colleagues find this job posting useful!

About MyType

MyType intends to develop a psychological identity platform that will allow web users to incorporate a psychometric model of their personality into their online identities. This will enable websites to perform “likemind collaborative filtering”, e.g. Amazon could recommend books, the New York Times could personalize headlines, ad networks could target ads, and Google could alter search results based on personality.

Our alpha Facebook application’s ~50,000 monthly active users have answered tens of millions of psychometric questions, linked their Twitter accounts, and generally been willing to volunteer any information that we can analyze and provide minimal feedback on.  We’re releasing a more viral beta application around Thanksgiving.

Role of the Chief Scientist

We’re looking for a top-notch data mining/machine learning scientist to predict user preferences via psychometric models and develop a general identity model that combines the best of various psychometric measures.  You must be proficient in the LAMP stack as you will be doing some app development in addition to analysis.

Practical Considerations

We’re offering a startup salary and equity.  Location not important for now, but must be willing to move to SF if we raise another round.


If interested contact tim@mytype.com please!

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The Social Media Political Campaign

Recently, a local government employee in California declared his run for the U.S. House of Representatives – on Twitter. In full-blown ‘Government 2.0′ style, he appears to be communicating his message in a very personal manner, largely through new media technologies. Will that be enough to carry him to Congress?

New Media Elects a President

The world has seen a U.S. President campaign partly by grassroots organization via new media channels, and now everybody wants to learn. In the nation’s capital, consultants, lobbyists, and people closely associated with political parties want to know about things like organizing a tweet-up about pending immigration legislation in a specific zip code on the Mexican border. It will be very interesting to see who the winners and losers are – both by the judgement of voters and that of social media gurus – during the 2010 Congressional election season.

But what about the reverse? Too much emphasis is placed, perhaps, on traditional political consultants learning about new media tools and incorporating them into a traditional campaign. What if an avid new media user with some political chops used his social network for a major political run?

Adriel Hampton for Congress

A little over a week ago, Adriel Hampton declared his candidacy for what will probably be a special election for an abandoned seat (CA-10) in the U.S. House of Representatives.  An employee of the city of San Francisco and a former Chronicle newspaper editor, he seems to be personally interested in his local community. Speaking about social software on his website, Hampton said: ‘I want to use these new tools to join [Obama] in Washington, D.C., to transform a government that has become strangely disconnected from the everyday realities of people in District 10.’

His campaign Twitter account accumulated about 600 followers in its first day, and he has also started a podcast
, among using other new media tools.  And the novelty of the campaign (and probably the candidate) sparked mainstream news coverage, even in national political publication Politico.

Count the Metrics

It’s hard to quantify the impact of a candidate’s performance during a press conference, or the effects of a new policy proposal made in a speech. But new media ’success’ is increasingly based on metrics. And early metrics for the campaign fall a little flat. After an initial one-day 600 follower boost, the @Adriel4Campaign account flatlined. And since declaring his candidacy (and asking for $100 from each of his followers, many of whom do not live in his Congressional district), his personal account has also flatlined.

Not to be Twitter-centric, while it is way too early to judge interest in and traffic to his campaign website, custonm Ning social network, podcast, and so forth, mainstream media coverage also evaporated after about two days, and it wasn’t even all positive. This SFist article reports Hampton’s tweets as ‘meth-like’ – not a terrific quality for someone campaigning to hold the public trust.

What’s the Verdict?

When long-shot Barack Obama started his campaign for President, few people were betting on him to win. So it is far too early to truly judge Adriel Hampton’s campaign for Congress. Nevertheless, it is clear that it takes more than merely utilizing new media tools to make things happen. And using them improperly – particularly if the candidate’s words are search-engine optimized - may end up being worse than goofing a question at a press conference, or performing poorly at a debate shown only on a local television channel.

Candidates need platforms, personalities, financing, timing, and luck to pull off a successful run. In the end, a campaign is a campaign, and new media tools are just that – tools. They can in principle helpful for executing a campaign against a candidate’s core strengths and beliefs. But they more than likely cannot be used successfully in isolation.

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