Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Everyone (but Malcolm Gladwell) is turning to social media

With technological advances in devices like tablets and mobile phones, and wireless connections reaching remote villages in India and even base camp of Mt. Everest, the ability to synergize with people worldwide has never been greater. People are virtually linking hands around topics, challenges, and questions on social networking sites like LinkedIn, Yammer, Quora, and Facebook, to share answers based on personal and professional experience, actual research, as well as new and innovative ideas.
This trend of seeking answers on social media sites is also prevalent among top companies, politicians, and even social movements. For example, President Obama just recently decided to start his re-election campaign by holding a Town Hall meeting on Facebook. There are also several books around how he won the first election because of his social media presence. 

This principle is also true in the publishing world. Amazon and publishing icon, Seth Godin, recently partnered up to create “Project Domino,” an online, social alternative to traditional publishing. Their marketing campaign has been purely social and synergistic, as they have sought the input and feedback of the community of various aspects of their new books. 

And even the wealthy are turning to social media for investment help. When smart people, who only take smart risks with their money are looking at the community for answers you know there must be something to it.
The beauty of turning to social media for solutions, is that is does not require you to be present…it moves on without you. If the issue is real enough and you have the right community, your dilemma will grow into its own viral movement. Continuously spawning new ideas, concepts, solutions, and third-alternatives. Even once you have discovered what you feel to be an adequate solution to your initial problem, the community may still contribute their combined wisdom, potentially fostering even more ideas that you can use.
No, seeking answers to questions is no longer confined to face-to-face settings, and formal meetings. With most challenging issues, true synergy can only be achieved by channeling the power of the community.

So, If all the trends, research, and virtual behavior is giving social media the thumbs up, why is notoriously forward-thinking author Malcolm Gladwell not aboard the party train? There have been a few articles addressing this exact question. In an interview with the thought-leader, earlier in 2010, he states that social media is still so new, and  in the "experimental phase" (See "The Tipping Point" for exact definition of this phase). Then in a post by Gladwell himself, called "Small Change: Why The Revolution Will Never be Tweeted," (October 2010) he suggests that social media is not a force yet, because in his opinion , it couldn't power a revolution. However, just four months later, in an article from the New York Times, social media is portrayed as playing a key role in Middle Eastern conflicts. Gladwell then responded with a short blog post, "Does Egypt Need Twitter," and television appearances defending his position.  The saga continued with a great rebuttal of his argument called, "Malcolm Gladwell Surfaces To Knock Social Media in Egypt," which I believe successfully puts the matter to rest.

My personal opinion on the topic can aptly be summarized in the cliche, "The proof is in the pudding Mr. Gladwell." Ironically, the author of "The Tipping Point" does not recognize yet that social media has already reached that point and is exploding forward.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Why you shouldn't eat and tweet

We have all seen the commercials, and witnessed real-life examples, of people walking into traffic, head down intently focused on their mobiles. Maybe you have been one of these poor souls yourself. To be honest this type of behavior is becoming typical...and not just with our youth, who always seem to be thumbing their device. Many adults now sport an Android/iPhone as well as one of the many assortment of tablets--a trend which ultimately increases their "coverage" and usage, while at the same time decreases their social etiquette and common sense.

While we are passionate proponents of information and knowledge being available to people worldwide, this zombie-like behavior that is becoming so prevalent in society is an unfortunate side-effect. There are some places and situations where taking out our mobile phones to update our facebook status, check our tweets, comment on a LinkedIn discussion, and "check-in" is not advisable.

Social media addiction in these situations is typically unacceptable:
  1. During family dinner time.
  2. On a first date.
  3. Work luncheons, or while doing performance reviews with your boss.
  4. During church.
  5. While jogging or in the middle of any strenuous exercises (think bench press).
  6. On top of a high building.
  7. While driving (good luck on this one).
  8. In an airplane after they have asked you to turn off all devices.
  9. When meeting you future father-in-law for the first time.
  10. While taking an important exam, like college entrance exam or finals. 
  11. And some we will not mention
If we choose to give in to our social media addictions anyway, some consequences could include:
  1. During family dinner time--estranged wife and children, the night spent on the couch.
  2. On a first date--may also be the last date.
  3. Work luncheons, or while doing performance reviews with your boss--you may be looking for a new job.
  4. During church--excommunication.
  5. While jogging or in the middle of any strenuous exercises (think bench press)--serious bodily harm or death.
  6. On top of a high building--loss of mobile or death.
  7. While driving (good luck on this one)--death again.
  8. In an airplane after they have asked you to turn off all devices--you may become good friends with TSA personnel. 
  9. When meeting you future father-in-law for the first time--wedding may be called off, or if you make it that far, you may be out of the will.
  10. While taking an important exam, like college entrance exam or finals--suspension.
  11. And some we will not mention--use your imagination. 
Luckily, there are many tools to help you control your addictions. Some of these are:
Tweetbeep -- It keeps track of conversations that mention you, and gives you hourly updates! You can even keep track of who's tweeting your website or blog.
Hootsuite --  View all of your social media sites in one place, AND schedule out future status updates and tweets.
Twittercounter and Twoolr --  Check out all the statistics about your twitter account.
The Archivist -- This site archives interesting tweets of your choosing, so you can retweet them later.

Friday, April 8, 2011

eLeven Learning Fragments (Issue 2)

Here are eLeven of our favorite learning fragments that we've uncovered over the past month. Want more? Follow us on Twitter @learningexplosn.
Learning to Teach Online can be tricky at times. This site is filled with great learning fragments directed to teachers, helping them learn the basics.

Stephen Easley’s post shares “five very hard lessons about the state of the law on social media, blogging and beyond.”

How can we describe it…. It’s sort of like Twitter with images.

This informative article helps you figure out why you should blog for your business and what you should blog about.

There are a gazillion tools for Social Media. Before you get overwhelmed with them all, start with these 10.

Here’s a different take on the top news stories via visual representation.

If you do any sort of public speaking, here are some great, yet simple, steps to improve your presentation.

Oftentimes it seems that relaxing your brain from reading and switching to visuals can provide new ideas and thoughts to form. This blog has some great imagery to help feed your mind.

If you’re road warriors like us, you may find yourself lost in a foreign land with a few hours to kill. Apps like these will help make the most of your time.

Is a staring contest art? I guess is the MoMA streams it live over the web it is. Check out how museums are turning to social media to bring art to us.
Listen to this podcast via CastRoller to find out!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Where you find the answers.

The Learning Explosion has forever altered how we learn. To help understand the impact of this event, ask yourself two simple questions:
1. “What problem did I have this week to which I didn’t know the answer?”           
2. Follow that with, “Where did I find the answer?”
If you are like most people, you probably turned to one of your trusted learning-fragment sources, like a favorite website or a mobile app. We doubt anyone drove to the nearest library, pulled down an Encyclopedia Britannica, and searched the pages to find the answer. If you did, we need to talk.
What exactly is a learning fragment? They are the result of the Learning Explosion. They are scattered bits of information and knowledge. Learning fragments can be found through many different sources such as social media sites, training workshops, video documentaries, online communities, blogs, books, or mobile apps.

So, keep a list of and let others know about them. If you're on Twitter, just add #lfrag to your tweets so we can all learn what you've found.

Monday, April 4, 2011

3 Things You Can Do To Harness The Learning Explosion

With The Learning Explosion we have more knowledge at our disposal than ever before. Information, or learning fragments, are continuously being created, discovered, shared, recreated, rediscovered, and shared again via blogs, tweets, emails, websites, learning tools, wikis, and thousands of other types of distribution channels. So what can we do about this real challenge? We suggest three behaviors:

Firstly, accept the facts. There is far more knowledge and information out there than we could even begin to access and process. There always has been. However, in the past you would have to walk into a library or bookstore to be reminded of this truth. Now you just need to turn on your computer or phone to receive the same message.

Secondly, be selective. Choose relevant subjects and topics that interest you, or that are related to your profession or passions. While it is so much easier for us all to be superficially competent in many topics, it is better for us to be masterfully fluent in a few. This is true especially if we wish to advance in our careers. Being relevant requires self-discipline to focus on our specific art, and to say no to the many other interesting but irrelevant arts.

Thirdly, harness The Learning Explosion. Once you have this essential trait of disciplined focus you must start creating your own learning lab. Your learning lab is where and how you learn about new ideas, where you test them, and where you organize them into salient concepts that can be easily accessed. This last behavior will take some time to fine tune. It may be hard for you to conceptualize what we mean by a learning lab, so let's take a look at a very basic, but efficient, example of a learning lab, your browsers bookmarking function. With bookmarks you can create respective folders that house the locations of all of your relevant learning fragments. If done correctly, all of the new relevant learning fragments that come across your path can be organized within seconds. Besides bookmarking, there are hundreds of online "learning labs" that you can use. Here are some examples:
- Genieo - automatically designs and generates your own personal online magazine, based own your past viewing history.
- iGoogle - create your own homepage in under 30 seconds
- Flipboard (for iPad) - allows you to receive access to relevant news sources and social media feeds in a classy interface.
- Scribd - Scribd is the world’s largest social reading and publishing company. Think of Scribd (pronounced “skribbed”) as the largest book club on the planet--except that anyone can join the conversation on any topic imaginable.
- Feedly  - like Genieo.
- Netvibes - personal dashboard to monitor all your favorite blogs, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and all of your favorite interests. Just type in a topic and get your free personal dashboard.
- - Everything YOU in one place. Choose an address. Gather all your digital stuff. Invite people to learn about you.

- And a whole bunch of other great learning labs out there:)

One, accept that you cannot put your arms around everything. Two, be selective in what you wish to learn, and lastly, harness the Learning Explosion by following a process to organize the learning fragments that you come across. Do just these three things and your life will change. You will no longer feel like you are drowning in a world of information...well, it may still like this a little:)