Tag Archives: Facebook

Facebook for Social Support? I like.

When we first rolled out TryStack, a place for trying out cloud! for OpenStack, we heard the groans from the audience since our first ID check is through a Facebook login. No Facebook, no TryStack. But since we’ve worked through the manual process and put a straight-through “Login using Facebook” link on the Dashboard, I have to say the process is super easy and repeatably so.

And I’m quite glad that we have the TryStack Facebook group for people to ask questions specific to TryStack. As the OpenStack doc coordinator I’ve found the group to be very valuable in telling me what information they’re missing, where they get confused about usage, and so on.

I especially like the video linking I can do in Facebook comments. Here’s a link to a video I made introducing people to TryStack.

Become a fan of my book!

I’ve put together a Facebook page for my book, Conversation and Community. I’ve had requests for a place for people to talk about the ideas in the book, and after talking it over with others, I settled on Facebook as a good place to bring together all the different sorts of communicators who have found my book helpful. From a pastor in Michigan to a small business on the west coat, to all the technical communicators who have found it useful, let’s gather together to socialize and talk about this shift towards enhanced social communication techniques.

Creative Commons is so cool

The two photos on my book cover are licensed with the Share-Alike and Attribution Creative Commons license, which means that as long as the book cover created with those photos is also shared for others to adapt, we can use the photos by attributing the source of the photo – and the photographer.

Last night I used FlickrMail to send messages to both of the photographers to tell them we’re using their photos, and also to get their mailing addresses so we can send them a printed copy of the book.

And then the neatest thing happened. From the photographer of the Danish keyboard I received a message in return already, and a request to be his friend on Facebook. I accepted and checked out his online profile. As it turns out, he’s in Houston and I’m in Austin!


He had already posted a shot of the cover to his Wall, and his friends were commenting and complimenting his photography. I got so excited I broke my cardinal rule of never posting to social sites during work hours, and I added my own gratitude and compliments. I think it’s the neatest thing that Creative Commons sharing gave us both such a boost.

As Jude said in his FlickrMail reply, “I enjoy sharing my work with the community. I’m so glad you found it. I think the Creative Commons License is such a wonderful resource.”

Social networking and generalizations

I’ve seen a few too many email blasts and blog entries with a lead that dramatizes social media with these sweeping generalizations about age groups using social software. The average age of Twitter users is 32, so any line about 30-40 year olds is plain wrong. The average age of Facebook users skews upwards due to the pranking popularity of choosing “69” as one’s age.

Recent demographics from Facebook say that in the last 60 days (from end-of-March 2009), the number of people over 35 has nearly doubled. The fastest growing demographic on Facebook is still women over 55. Over 4 million more US women 35-44 and nearly 3 million more US men 35-44 used Facebook in March 2009 compared to September 2008. The majority of US Facebook users are now over 25.

Because the data doesn’t match these types of age scales, I cringe a little when I see age generalizations associated with social software.

There’s ethnographic data from danah boyd that describes that the actual difference between people using different social software sites is in fact class-based.

People are networking as always – and I’d argue, the usual is to relate more to people your same age in a similar life stage. But you miss out when you box people into age groups.

I blogged previously about the need for visibility into younger age groups to getting involved in associations like the Society for Technical Communication (STC). As a result, I had great pointers to 20-somethings who were doing neat things in the tech comm space. Tony Chung, your name came up! He’s a fellow blogger with me at the Duo Consulting blog. Another woman had been given her mother’s tech comm consulting business at a quite young age and was succeeding mightily.

Ann Wiley wrote a great email about how much age doesn’t matter when it comes to technology. And I agree, and I hope she doesn’t mind if I quote her here:

Those of us who came into the world in 1948 are blessed indeed. The horizon is very big, looking out from that year, and it gets bigger all the time. The war was over, our parents were indulgent, and technology came our way. The question is, what can we make of all that opportunity?

It doesn’t matter what age you are when you get into social technology, but your attitude does matter.

One last personal anecdote about the benefits of spanning generations in all your activity. One of my best running partners of all time is now in her seventies, and I ran at the same pace as she did when I was in my late 20s and she was in her mid-60s. She was and still is a faithful companion, a good listener, and a wonderful mentor and coach.

Non-profits, organizations, and social media

I have gathered several questions recently related to social media and non-profits using technology to further their causes. Many other people are writing about this with much more authority than I, but I would like to share my perspective and link like crazy to the experts.

What sites or tools are defined as social media? Blogs, wikis, Second Life?

Scoble has an excellent article, What is social media?, explaining how social or new media is different from old media. This article gives me a gold standard to compare all tools with traditional media like newspapers, television, and so on.

How have non-profits and professional organizations found ways to use social media to further their causes or to serve their members?

There are plenty of examples, especially now that Facebook has introduced the new Causes application. This blog post “The Long, Long Tail of Facebook Causes” describes it with links: The very cool Causes application by Project Agape enables anyone with a Facebook account to support and engage their Facebook networks to support a “Cause” – be it “Save the Seals!,” “End Global Warming!,” or “Fight Hate.” All of the Causes have to be attached to a Guidestar-verified 501(c)(3).” The quoted blog post also has tips for promoting a cause on Facebook. Plus it has number to back up its claim of the Long Tail at work – the total donations ranged from ran from $5 to $22,871. There’s another blog post that gives you steps for promoting your cause on Facebook.

The Red Cross created a visual in Second Life to raise awareness about disaster recovery. Often this type of display is too costly for most non-profits, and it’s difficult to measure the effect and return on investment. There also is a subculture of “griefers” on Second Life that makes any investment in presence risky.

This blog entry says “As I mentioned in my blog post on the Red Cross entry at Second Life, depicting a disaster zone, one way is to create awareness, convey a mood or show people the challenges in such areas. This awareness is much more valuable than the lousy linden bucks it brings in tips.There is a thin line though; It is great to raise awareness but the cost is a consideration. The presence should be sponsored, not funded with sponsorship money.”
Good analysis and commentary. Linden bucks are the currency in Second Life and there’s a direct exchange rate between Linden bucks and US Dollars (300 to 1 USD I believe?).

What are mashups and are they automatically part of social media and web 2.0?

Mashups combine and layer information on top of another item to bring more information to the reader. Layered maps are an excellent example of a mashup. Microsoft’s latest CRM offering shows a mashup of layering an aerial photo of the event location or venue in order to offer additional information to event planners. I believe mashups are directly related to social media because it is putting extra data together to form a more user-centered picture of the user’s goals.

But what if I’m not in my twenties?

My former coworker Michael Cote is now an industry analyst and he has this great post about how different websites like facebook and myspace are actually “colonies” where you are gathering with like folk. It starts with this great quote about how difficult it is for
30-somethings to get 20-somethings to read their blog. I cracked up because I realized it’s so true for me. Read his post here:
Cote talks about the “web I know” and it’s different for all of us, based on age, based on experience, based on education level, based on professional achievements, and so on. I feel like I too need to constantly be on the lookout for what “teh kidz” are doing, as a parent, as a blogger, as a writer.

There is some research on the average age of people on Facebook and I would guess it is moving upward.

Actual usage may go down as users age, though, so they need to continue to get people to sign up and join their “colony.” And Danah Boyd has written a wonderful essay about class and MySpace and Facebook. She’s truly a pioneer in this research and writes so well that you want to finish every essay right away.

Anyway, besides the nagging detail that I’m in my 30s, and have a job, house, spouse, kids, pets, and other responsibilities, there’s another reason why I had been hesitant to sign up for facebook, and that’s the little feminist voice in me that dislikes the term facebook because for me, it has the connotation of that book that all the first year college students get where they’d look up incoming students and rate them on looks. (Am I the only one who had that type of incoming book in college?) I think that perception is melting away rapidly, though. Facebook only opened to non-current-college-students in September 2006, so it hasn’t even passed the one year mark as an open area.

How can I keep up with social media and the technology?

You don’t have to feel like you’re telling the kids to “get off your lawn” but you should be aware of the social media push and also recognize (and throw off) the hype when needed.

I have discovered the new tag “nptech” for non-profit technology, and will keep an eye on that tag in del.icio.us, in blogs, and other areas of the web. There’s a lot to keep up with, and constantly analyze.

I’d also encourage everyone to try out the sites to gain familiarity with the site’s look and feel and implementation, and find ways to use them for your everyday pursuits.