Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Socially Minded Moves to Wordpress

SOCIALLY MINDED has moved to a new location at: www.sociallyminded.wordpress.com

Friday, January 2, 2009

Socially Minded Time Out

I am taking a short hiatus from Socially Minded in order to fulfill one of my New Year's resolutions for 2009 - to redesign my blog in a way that encourages me to share more of who I am and what I'm passionate about. I've had a great time blogging about social media, events and PR this past year but I've had a hard time keeping a regular posting schedule. When I come back with new posts, I'll let you know how often I'll be adding my voice to the blogosphere.

Thanks for following these past months. Talk to you soon (at the end of January)!

Friday, December 5, 2008

My Brain on Google: Part One

According to Matthew Arnold, "Journalism is literature in a hurry." As someone studying public relations with an undergraduate degree in English literature, I certainly relate to this statement. I remember taking my first class in the introductory Journalism sequence and being shocked to discover that the style of writing that would have earned an A+ in my upper-division English classes could barely pass for a B. I didn't know AP Style, my sentences were always too long and my word choices too grandiose. I still face the challenge of achieving brevity in my writing today.

Although there is certainly an important value to communicating in concise, easy to understand language when writing for newspapers, magazines, and Web sites, it does concern me that readers are increasingly demanding that content be kept brief and to the point. People are spending more time online reading information, but the style of reading has shifted from delving into long, complex passages to scanning short passages and images.

Tufts University developmental psychologist Maryanne Wolf suggests "that the style of reading promoted by the Net, a style that puts 'eficiency' and 'immediacy' above all else, may be weakening our capacity for the kind of deep reading that emerged when an earlier technology, the printing press, made long and complex works of prose commonplace." The invention of the printing press allowed us to massively distribute works of literature and the invention of the Internet has allowed us to distribute works on a much more global scale and at a lower cost. The question is -- what kind of content are we distributing and what is the thought process through which we take in this new kind of information?

A quick survey of blogs, Web sites and various Web platforms shows that content is usually brief in nature. Perhaps what is most significant is the way that online readers engage with the Web -- even when stumbling upon long prose, readers tend to scan passages, quickly jumping from link to link to access information. Unlike the experience of sitting down to read a singular novel, online readers generally do not intend to read from only one site or to engage with only one topic on the Web. Online content is designed in a manner that propels readers from one site to another, making the term Web very fitting when one thinks about how content is connected.

Easy access to the most up-to-date information has an enormous value and should not be discredited; however, there is also something to be said for the process of digging for information and taking the time to discover it line by line. The ability to concentrate on long passages of prose also seems to improve the ability to hold more in-depth discussions. Perhaps it is simply a matter of style, but I have noticed that the discourse in English literature classes tends to be more philisophical and sustained for longer periods on one topic whereas discussions in a Journalism course are more likely to be objective and rapidly-changing from one subject to another.

A tendency to explore a range of topics and take in small, disjointed pieces of information is not something to be concerned about; the inability to extend a thought-process beyond that, however, is of concern. Due to the fact that communication mediums can influence us as much as we influence them, we should consider what impact the Web has on our minds.

In my next post, I'll explore how the Web is influencing my brain and discuss the Atlantic Monthly article 'Is Google Making Us Stupid?' by Nicholas Carr. Until then, I'd love to hear -- do you think the Web has altered the way you think?

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Do You Speak Twitter?

"May I offer you a Twittonary?"

"What's a 'Twittonary'?"

"A dictionary for Twitter, of course."

Since Twitter took off in 2006, thousands of users have started micro-blogging. The popularity of Twitter has encouraged its users to create unique terms for Twitter language (twitterspeak) to describe people on Twitter (tweeps, tweeple), the Twitter community (twittersphere), and updates (tweets). For a full list of Twitter Terms, check out 'Twitterspeak: 66 Twitter Terms You Don't Need to Know' or 'Twittonary.com'.

Learning the language of Twitter is helpful, especially if you are just getting started and feeling a little confused. However, what's more important is to understand the writing style of Twitter, which could be called Twitter Style.

If an AP Style guidebook existed for Twitter, I think it would include the following guidelines to help users make the most of their micro-interactions:

  1. Posts must be written in 140 characters or less. Brevity is crucial.
  2. Capitalize when appropriate. Writing in lowercase does not save characters and it makes for confusing messages.
  3. When possible, use proper punctuation. This will ensure that your message is clear.
  4. Writing in fragments is acceptable.
  5. Avoid using "text-message" language, such as OMG (Oh my God), 4U (for you), and CUL8R (see you later).
  6. Appropriate abbreviations and contractions are preferred.
  7. Symbols (&, =, @) are allowed in order to save characters.
  8. If possible, avoid misspelling words for the sake of brevity (such as nite, thru, foto). This is a personal preference, but if you have to shorten your words too much, Twitter may not be the right forum for a particular thought.
  9. Use an asterick symbol to designate italics. Such as, 'Jenny, you *must* see this movie.'
  10. If you really want to emphasize something, write is all caps, but use caps sparingly.

In addition to understanding the terminology and style of Twitter, there are also great resources for learning more about using Twitter effectively to communicate. One of my favorites is a post by Jeff Sexton called '7 Principles of Web 2.0 Copy - Twitter Style!' I recommend paying special attention to his thoughts on authenticity, sharing and speed.

To view my posts on Twitter, visit me at http://twitter.com/aseits. I don't always follow my own rules, but at least I know when I'm breaking them.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

The Special Event Conference

Last year, I had the great fortune of attending The Special Event 2008 in Atlanta, Georgia. This conference for event planners is one of the most well-organized and informative national conferences I've ever been to. At the conference, I learned new skills for planning events for nonprofits, green events, contingency planning, and time-management skills. My two favorite sessions were 'Hot Event and Entertainment Ideas' with legendary planner Michael Cerbelli and 'How to Gain the Competitive Advantage through Business Etiquette' with Anna Post.

This year, the conference is being held at the San Diego Convention Center on January 28 - 30. Education sessions are divided into tracks such as 'Wedding Trends', 'Design', 'Sales & Marketing' and 'Professional Development'. In addition to learning valuable information from leading experts in event planning, The Special Event also features a world-class tradeshow floor, an upscale wedding luncheon and a gala and awards celebration with opportunities for networking.

Click here to download an event brochure for The Special Event 2009. I hope to see you there!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Travel Blogs

I love travel – the trip, the planning process, travel magazines, shopping for luggage and toiletries – and everything that goes along with it. Most of all, I love the experience of trading in my usual routine for something that promises adventure and excitement. If I could, I would travel back in fictional time and inhabit the world of Indiana Jones.

My love for travel causes me to devour every bit of travel information I can get my hands on. Lately, I have been paying more attention to travel blogs and following a few travelers on Twitter. There are hundreds of travel blogs out there with first-hand accounts of travel to every country and state. This is fantastic for keeping travelers well-informed and providing authentic, transparent information about what's out there.

Listed below are some of my favorites:

Almost Fearless
Europe String
Travel Q & A
The Perrin Post
The Daily Traveler
World Travelista

I'm also excited to discover so many tools on Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites that allow you to share your travel photos and experiences with your friends and families. It is so exciting to get a taste for the world, even if it is vicariously through those you love and trust.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

The Web and Widgets

People may dislike using the term 'widget' to describe tiny Web applications for blogs and social networks, but they certainly love widget applications. According to Garrick Schmitt in The Razorfish Consumer Experience Report, "widgets are remaking the Internet" with hundreds of millions of consumer downloads occurring.

David Lenehan defines widgets on his blog ReadWriteWeb as follows:

"A Web widget can be best described as a mini application that can add functionality to your Web page, blog, social profile, etc. If you find a widget that you like, you simply copy and paste some code and add it to the HTML of your Web page. Photo galleries, news, videos, advertising, mp3 players and pregnancy countdown tickers! You name it, there is probably a widget that does it."

Internet users are interacting with widgets every day -- playing YouTube videos within another site, adding a Project Playlist song to their MySpace page, and posting video feeds on their friends' walls -- and in the process, they are freely distributing decentralized content all over the Web.

With millions of widgets used to share and consume information, advertisers and marketers should not underestimate this viral future of Web content. More than ever, consumers have the opportunity to customize the information and entertainment they take in and to share that information freely through a variety of Web services. The end result is an Internet landscape made up of highly distributed, customized and networked content. If advertisers fail to grasp the entire ripple effect of content distribution, continuing to focus on singular Web sites as a one-stop shopping place for information, they are likely to miss out on the Web as a whole.

Are you considering widgets when you discuss social media strategies with the companies you work with?