Dual Passions: Volunteer Work & Social Networking

 I've recently read two articles that lay out the case for why it's important that you include your volunteer work in your resume/CV or LinkedIn profile, regardless of whether or not you're currently looking for a job.

In an article from Fortune/CNN, Still not putting volunteer work on your resume?, the author says, "According to a new survey from LinkedIn, 89% of U.S. businesspeople have significant volunteer experience. Yet only 45% include it in their resumes. The same report tells why leaving it out is a mistake."

And "41% of hiring managers say they consider free labor for a good cause to be "equally valuable" as other experience, and one in five has hired someone for a paying job because of his or her volunteer work."

In the second article that caught my eye recently, Volunteer work helps Boost your resume strength, Nicole Williams, the author of the book "Girl on Top" and a spokeswoman for networking site LinkedIn, said, "...job seekers should make sure they include their volunteer jobs on their resumes and their online profiles to differentiate themselves from other job seekers."

"The majority of people volunteer, and nobody's putting it on their resume," Williams said.

I'm assuming (hoping?) you have a LinkedIn profile. Even if you love your job, couldn't be happier, you still need to take ownership of your personal brand and show up in search results when someone Googles your name. You owe it to yourself to keep your skills and your online profile up-to-date at all times. (Keep an eye out for my soon-to-published blog post on Personal Branding.)

Updating the new volunteer experience & causes section in LinkedIn shouldn't take you more than a moment or two, and will look like this on your public LinkedIn profile:

 And if you're not out there volunteering, here's my personal plug for that: Get out there and do it! Volunteering is an amazing way to help your community, network, and truly realize your blessings. I find that when I volunteer, the benefits definitely go both ways. :-)

The New Facebook — Powerful Social Connections or End of Our Privacy Forever?

Oh my, there hasn't been this much build up and drama since the world was wondering "Who shot J.R.?" back in 1980. Well, okay, there was more serious drama this summer when we we didn't know whether the U.S. was going into default or not because our representatives in Congress couldn't get their act together.

Today the question burning up the Twitterverse and social sites:
  • Is the new Facebook design going to be the greatest thing since sliced bread, or the beginning of the end? 
  • Or rephrased: Is Facebook making amazing leaps and bounds into leveraging the full power and potential of social networking, or are they leading us down the path of losing any hope of keeping our data private forever?

It depends on who you ask. If you talk to the 34,000 individuals who signed up as Facebook developers in a single day because developers get a sneak peak at the new timeline layout, or if you read the article in CNN Tech by Pete Cashmore, founder and CEO of Mashable,You'll freak when you see the new Facebook, you'd be on the apple pie and motherhood side of the great Facebook divide.

However, if you subscribe to the viewpoint of blogger Adrian Short, Facebook is going to be collecting every bit of private data you have no idea that you're exposing with its "frictionless sharing" so they can share it all with advertisers who will dish up even more tightly targeted ads, you'll be rushing toward the doomsday side — It's the end of the web as we know it.

Facebook has crossed the privacy line almost every time they've added new features, and it's to the point where now it's clear they're pushing the limits with each re-design, waiting to see if the 750 million of us online with them will balk or go along with the changes. And I'm glad we have watchdogs like Adrian Short pointing out where Facebook is taking liberties with our privacy and our private data.

I used this e-card from Someecards in an earlier blog post about the recent Facebook changes, and it's so true, I'm going to use it again (despite the typo, lol):

No one is forcing anyone to use Facebook. It's a free, entirely voluntary service that's making its founder and shareholders some of the richest people and companies (on paper) in the world. And if they do cross the line on what they do with your personal data, you have every right to complain and push back. And, there's always the ultimate voting with your feet — delete your account and walk away.

But excuse me while I go sign up as a developer — I'm eager to get a sneak peek at the new timeline. :-)

*9/27 Update: Here we go again, but it's a good thing  — an article in the Wall Street Journal today where Australian technologist Nik Cubrilovi called Facebook out on their privacy intrusions, and Facebook is having to defend the liberties they're taking. Expect this feature to disappear soon. Facebook Defends Getting Data From Logged-Out Users

Overwhelmed by Choices — How Social Networking Can Help, Part 1

Last month I spent 12 hours in a car (6 hours each way) with 2 teens and their fully loaded iPhones®. I think among the 3 of us we had enough music to listen 24/7 for at least 12 days straight, with no repeats.

I heard a lot of music called Dubstep, totally new to me, which Wikipedia defines as: "a genre of electronic dance music that originated in south London, England. Its overall sound has been described as "tightly coiled productions with overwhelming bass lines and reverberant drum patterns, clipped samples, and occasional vocals." Some of it I liked, some of it I despised. We had some overlap in taste on some pop music, and a few of the non-misogynistic and non-sex-filled rap songs. It was an informative trip for me, music-wise.

And of course they were less than thrilled when I took over the music for an hour each way, and plugged in my iPod® with the jazz, classic rock, Latin, and pop that I like. (In fact, they both put their earbuds in and listened to their own tunes during "my" time, but I digress.)

Driving that long stretch of Highway 5 in Northern California with no distractions other than the teen music selections pumping loudly out of the speakers got me thinking about the plethora of choices we have today as consumers in every category. I could have spent days researching electronics, phones, furniture, clothing, appliances, but realized I had to limit myself (or this blog post would be a book, lol), so I chose four categories that were relevant to my life (and most likely to yours too):
  • Music
  • Groceries
  • Online books
  • Local restaurants
So we start with music. Ignoring all the other sites where you can download or listen to music, I looked only at iTunes®, which Apple® touts as "the #1 online music store". And while I knew there was a lot out there, I really didn't get it. Did you know iTunes now carries more than 18 million songs* worldwide?
    I can hardly wrap my brain around that number. Doing a few calculations — if you did nothing but listen to music 24/7, it would still take you over 141 years to listen to that entire playlist. Apple has a program called Genius® that generates recommended playlists for you, based on your current library, its ratings system and collaborative filtering. But again, how on earth do you even begin to select music from 18 million songs? Staggering.

    And then let's take a look at the local grocery store. When my neighborhood store was purchased a few years ago by a big conglomerate, one of the first things they did was whittle down the number of selections. So instead of eight varieties of Special K cereal, now you can only buy two. Yet, the average grocery store in 2010 stocked 38,718 items. You could spend hours just reading the backs of an entire aisle of cereal boxes, trying to decide which box is the healthiest, cheapest, lowest sugar, most fiber, least preservatives, ....

    The third item on my list is electronic books. Do you own a Kindle yet?  I don't, and I'm back and forth on it, because I love the feel of an actual book in my hands, and I enjoy turning pages — I'm not sure I'm willing to give that up. My son got one for Christmas last year which he is enjoying immensely, and I have a quite a few friends who love theirs. My son and my Kindle-owning friends can choose from more than 950,000 books, including New Releases and 110 of 111 New York Times Bestsellers, all available on amazon.com.

    And now to my last example. I queried how many restaurants there are in my hometown of San Jose, California. Guess what?  4,084. So if I ate at two restaurants a day — say lunch and dinner, every single day, I should have eaten at all of them once in a little under 8 years. (I remember doing a similar exercise a few years ago about the number of wineries in California, and I know it was several years worth if you visited one a day. :-) )

    We, American consumers (and this is probably true for most first world countries), are flat out overwhelmed with choices in every part of our daily lives. How do you find new musical genres or artists? Select books or restaurants? Or choose what you want to cook/eat at home? I don't know about you, but sometimes I'm almost paralyzed by the choices. I want to close my eyes and do the eeny, meany, miney, mo selection process, which I guess is one way of dealing with it.

    And yes, you can ask around, call your friends, bring it up at the gym, but chances are those particular friends haven't been searching for a great vacation read, or some really crazy running music lately. So where do you turn?

    Stay tuned for part 2 of this blog post coming soon. :-)

    * From the iTunes website

    Like It or Hate It — Everyone Has an Opinion About Facebook's New Look

    So you woke up this morning, logged onto Facebook, and what did you see? Very little on your home page that looked the same as it did before you logged off for bed last night.
    Facebook users have been pretty vocal today about their dislike of change, and specifically the ones Facebook made overnight. We've seen a few little tests popping up recently, then disappearing within a few hours, but it appears they rolled it out, for at least all the US and Canada users, overnight. (I've not heard from my non-North American friends yet.)
    My only complaint is that the friend feed in the top right makes me feel like a stalker. My teenager says if you even go look at a friend's Facebook page to catch up on what they've been up to that you're stalking — which I feel is a little harsh — I'd prefer to think of it as catching up. :-) But to have it scrolling by you a mile a minute — every comment, photo, link, and like that each and every one of your friends is making every second of the day — now that is the definition of stalking in my book...
    I wanted to share a few of my favorite complaints that I've seen posted today: 
    HATE the New facebook News Feed
    Photo of signpost with signs that say: Lost, confused, unclear, perplexed, disoriented, bewildered. Underneath the title reads: Welcome to the new Facebook.

    And posted as a status:
    I do not like green eggs and ham, I do not like Facebook spam. I do not like the new Facebook change, I do not like my friends rearranged. I do not like them in a row, down below or coming up and appearing slow. I do not like them by family, friend, city or state. I do not like the page to hesitate. I do not like the Facebook change, I do not like my friends rearranged! I do not like this new Facebook crap. Kill it, smash it, make it scrap.
    And of course, there are some "putting it all into perspective" cards already out from someecards (A hilarious and usually totally non-PC free e-card site when you have a few minutes to check it out):
    I'm appalled that the free service that I am in no way obligated to use keeps making changes that mildly inconvenience me.
    I bet the only person happy with Facebook today is the CEO of Netflix.
     **And unbelievably, I forgot to include the link to The Oatmeal's take on the entire thing.

    Here's a nice summary of the changes: New Facebook: 6 Things you Need to Know from a group called Lujare.

    And if you're really unhappy, there are also tips on how to get rid of the friend stalker feature on the top right of your page.  Hate Facebook’s Changes? Try These Two Apps!

    It's pretty funny when you think about it. I've been a regular and faithful Facebook user for over two years now, and I can't think of a single time that the fairly regular design and function changes have been embraced. And of course some of it may well be Facebook's highhanded and non-communicative approach — here it is — take it or leave it.  And I wonder if it's more a symptom of today's uncertain economy — another change in your life that perhaps you don't feel you have any say in?

    Just a thought.

    Is Social Media Becoming More Accessible to People with Disabilities?

    Two new and unrelated Mashable articles caught my eye today that make me hope that maybe, just maybe, social media channels are starting to think inclusively. People who are deaf or hard of hearing are excluded from two channels the hearing take for granted: voice-only chats and uncaptioned videos. And people who are blind or low vision miss a lot of context if there isn't alternative text (descriptive text read by a screen reader) on a photo or graphic, or a transcript accompanying a video.

    The first Mashable article is about Google+'s newest upgrades to Hangouts, that explains how it's even more sign language friendly than it was before. It turns out that whomever in the Hangout had the most background noise had the most face time, since it was voice (noise) activated. The new feature allows everyone to turn off their microphones, then whomever wants to “Take the Floor” hits Shift +s to request it. Slick.

    The second Mashable article talks about a new photo sharing platform called Fotobabble that adds voice to photos. The blog focuses on the marketing campaign enablement when someone uses the Facebook app, iPhone app or website to add voice to any photo, but I'm sure the accessibility community is looking past marketing campaigns and anticipating that the easier tools make it to make accessible content, the more frequently it will happen, naturally.

    Exciting stuff. :-)

    What Would the Social Media Landscape Look Like if China Could Play?

    I'm liking Google+. I asked a question, and in a short time had an answer: Yes, China has banned Google+ in addition to Facebook and Twitter (which I already knew about). I wasn't surprised, but really wanted to know.

    And then I realized what an interesting and potentially drastic change in the landscape we'd have immediately if the Chinese government unblocked its citizens' access to those three social networking channels.

    The Internet World Stats website tells us that there are almost as many Chinese language Internet users as there are English Internet users:

    Top Two Languages Used in the Web (# of Internet Users by Language)*

    IN THE INTERNET                     English                          Chinese
    Internet Users
    by Language                          565,004,126                    509,965,013
    by Language                          43.4 %                            37.2 %
    in Internet                            301.4 %                           1,478.7 %
    (2000 - 2011)                     
    Internet Users
    % of Total                            26.8 %                             24.2 %
    World Population                   1,302,275,670                  1,372,226,042
    for this Language
    (2011 Estimate)

    The formatting capabilities of Blogger aren't particularly sophisticated, but I think you start to get the picture. What we don't know is how many of the almost 510 million Chinese language Internet users are also fluent in English.

    I quoted these statistics in an article I wrote earlier this year on the IBM Accessibility website:
    • Facebook is expecting to reach 700 million users worldwide within the next month or so2. The average Facebook user has 130 friends and is connected to 80 community pages, groups and events3.
    • Twitter is growing almost as quickly. 460,000 new accounts are created daily, and 140 million tweets are sent each day4.
     According to an article in Tech 24 Hours, only 50% of tweets are in English as of earlier this year. Japanese is the second most prevalent language used for tweeting.

    And Facebook's press center has the following up-to-date statistics:
    • More than 70 translations available on the site
    • About 70% of Facebook users are outside the United States
    • Over 300,000 users helped translate the site through the translations application
    These statistics make a strong case that while Twitter and Facebook started in the US, in English, both are making significant gains around the world in multiple languages. And if even a small percentage of Chinese citizens were able to access the big three social media channels tomorrow, I think it's clear social networking would be forever changed. Automated translation services and applications would suddenly be everywhere.

    A potential view of how that future may look: A friend introduced me to a short-lived sci-fi series called 'Firefly', that takes place in the year 2517, after the arrival of humans in a new star system (a series which I LOVED btw, even though I was warned they only filmed one season before it was cancelled). Due to the earth's political history leading up to 2517 (lots of wars, yadda, yadda), the people of the future speak and write English and Mandarin Chinese comfortably and interchangeably.

    Maybe it is time to sign up for those Chinese language lessons.... :-)

      * -- I've reproduced just the top two entries of Internet World Stat's table here for simplicity's sake, and the credit for the numbers is all theirs.

    Why "Do Not Disturb" Is My New Best Friend

    I've always considered myself a great multitasker and amazingly efficient — listening to a conference call, carrying on several IM conversations and answering emails — all at the same time, and not dropping a single ball. But with the advent of social networking, and my complete and total immersion in it, I think I've reached my limit — a self-induced ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder). I find myself jumping from task to task, checking Twitter, back to email, over to Facebook for news or comments, tweeting, answering an IM, sending an IM, and at the end of the day — not feeling like I've accomplished everything I needed to do that day. I've been writing more for work, versus editing, and I'm one of those reluctant-to-get-started kind of writers who just needs time to ramp up and do it, so that jumping around isn't particularly conducive to getting over the hump of committing to and typing those first sentences, and sticking with it as the ideas and words start to flow.

    If you've seen the Disney movie, Up, where Dug the talking dog constantly interrupts himself with, "Squirrel!", losing all focus on the conversation or task at hand, then you know exactly what I'm talking about. (If you don't, check out this YouTube clip.)

    This recent article in Mashable confirms what I've been feeling lately: Why Multitasking May Make You Less Productive.

    And I've independently come to the same conclusion as the author of the article: Scheduling blocks of time to focus on a single task with all distractions turned off (email alerts silenced, cell phone away, browser tabs ignored and instant messenger alerts hidden).

    So don't take it personally if you look for me on IM and you see my status as DND (Do Not Disturb). It's not you, it's me. :-)