How Do You Get Your News Today?

I'm amazed by the speed in which the announcement of Ginny Rometti succeeding Sam Palmisano in January 2012 as IBM's president and CEO hit the Twitterverse. I saw the first tweets by IBMers Kathy Mandelstein (@katmandelstein) and Jon Iwata (@coastw) at 1:19 pm PDT in my hourly Twitter scan. They linked directly to the IBM announcement: Virginia M. Rometty elected IBM president and CEO. Minutes later, the New York Times followed with an article, and Fortune, CNET, Mashable, TechCrunch, etc. followed with tweets.

Now granted, I am an IBMer, so obviously I'm very interested in news about IBM. But it made me realize again just how much of my news I get on Twitter and Facebook these days. I found about the death of Steve Jobs and the East Coast earthquake on Facebook. The Japan earthquake and tsunami and Egyptian revolution news came via Twitter. The earthquake in Turkey and Netflix's series of mistakes from Facebook.

When social networking first grabbed my attention two and a half years ago, I was excited about the potential. I wasn't farsighted enough to see where it could go, but knew it was going somewhere, and it did tie in with my enjoyment of reading science fiction partly because I love the creativity and imagination authors employ to describe how everything, including communications, will continue to evolve and be used in the future. (Small side note: I recently discovered Peter F. Hamilton's work and am working my way through his Void trilogy after finishing the Commonwealth Saga. It's amazing (and a little scary) how easily you can see current social networking evolving into the Unisphere.)

I'm not alone in getting my news from the social networking channel. According to the latest Pew Study on Media Attitudes, 1985 - 2011:
Social networking has expanded the ways in which the public gets news and information. About a quarter (27%) of adults say they regularly or sometimes get news or news headlines through Facebook, Twitter or other social networking sites. This rises to 38% of people younger than 30, but now spans a notable share of older Americans (12% of those 65 and older) as well. ... And when asked to describe what they like about getting news over social networks and Twitter, answers range from features of the technology such as speed, portability and brevity to ways in which the content is more customized, personal and topical.

When you compare the statistics from three years earlier, Pew Study on Media Attitudes, 1985 - 2008, you can see how the "news from social networking" questions have evolved, since this was the only conclusion:
Social networking sites are very popular with young people, but they have not become a major source of news. Just 10% of those with social networking profiles say they regularly get news from these sites.

Will getting your news via social networking replace more traditional channels like television, newspapers and magazines?  Supplement, yes. Replace? Clearly not in the immediate future. But as the participants in the 2011 Pew Study reported, customization, personalization and topicality are growing more important to us in this flatter, networked world, and social networking does all three of those very well. :-)

Image: nuttakit /

Vacations, Prioritization & Social Media

I'm one of those people who, as much as I want to go and need to go on vacation, have a self-inflicted excruciatingly painful week before I go.

On Sunday, I start planning my week and creating a long list of all of things I have to get done, both at work and at home. Last Sunday, my master to-do list looked something like this:
  • Facebook Expert Hour invitation
  • New hero spot started
  • Mobile app article reviewed, signed off & delivered
  • Meet w/ Fran to hand over social media reins
  • MCE page
  • Pedicure
  • Cat food
  • Mop kitchen floor
  • Pack....
You get the picture. A list of what I can realistically complete only with 33 hour days this week and no sleep.

By Tuesday, I'm beginning to panic. Meetings get added to my calendar. I spend hours on hold with the insurance company. The list is getting longer, not shorter. One to-do gets completed and crossed off, but five new ones are added. Plus two committee meetings that I can't miss this week. I'm working until midnight almost every night. I have trouble getting to sleep because my brain won't stop churning away, and I refuse to get up and work more.

And now all of a sudden it's Friday. I'll be on the plane in less than 24 hours. And it all becomes clear. I CANNOT get it all done. No one can. It was an impossible list to begin with, and I was setting myself up for failure to think it could all get done. And as that moment of truth dawns, I relax, and begin to prioritize. This task and that one really can wait until I get back. My colleague can manage this one. My web producer can text me when this one is done. One of the kids can mop.

And it makes me realize how important prioritization is to social media channels. My main ones, for now, are Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. I'm flirting with Google+ and Tumblr and StumbleUpon and YouTube and Pinterest, and have some new ones bookmarked for further investigation. And while it's important to test these new ones out, and perhaps integrate them into my overall social media mix, it's not critical that it happens right now, this week.  The week I'm back will be fine. When you're spread too thin, and try to take too much on, either you won't get it all done, or if by some miracle you do, it won't be your best work.

Prioritize. What a lovely word, releasing me. Aloha. :-)

The Demise of Blogging — Fact or Fallacy?

I slept in yesterday, and deciding to take advantage of my unusual, but obviously much-needed Saturday of leisure, I spent some time digging around about blogs.

I'm a fairly new blogger who only this summer realized that I had things I could and wanted to say about social networking. What started out as a (successful) experiment at work — using social media channels to start conversations about accessibility and build communities — quickly became a personal passion where I'm energized about social networking's potential for personalizing the connections and interactions of our ever more automated and global world.

No, I'm not this bad yet. But it's early still. :-)
 So I started my loosely defined investigation at BlogHer, a blogging site recommended by a colleague and fellow blogger who's been very supportive and helpful with my foray into blogging (Thank you, Laura!). I follow BlogHer on Facebook, so I stay current on featured blogs and topics. BlogHer is a social networking success story. Three women started the site in 2005 in response to the question, “Where are all the women bloggers?” They now have 50 employees supporting 27 million unique visitors a month who visit the site, 2,500 network bloggers, and a free-to-join directory of 22,000 registered private blogs. It's a vital and thriving community, where questions are asked and answered, and new knowledge and insight are gained daily. (And yes, my blog is one of those 22,000, lol.)

Then I started searching for blog directories where I could register my blog, and that's when I realized there are hundreds and hundreds, if not thousands of blog directories out there. Some of them are upfront about their commercial purpose they want several hundred dollars a year from you to list your blog in their directory (sorry, not happening any time soon guys.). But many of them will take a reciprocal link as payment, so I'm testing out a few of those.

My search led me to wonder just how many people are blogging? I've read articles over the past couple of years that claim blogging is dying, but then I look at the success of Huffington Post and find that hard to believe. (Started in 2005 for an investment of $1 million by Ariana Huffington, HuffPost, as it's known, was purchased by AOL in the spring of 2011 for $315 million dollars).

A little more digging (thank you, Google), and I found this illuminating blog post, Are Blogs Growing or Dying? by Oklahoma City University Professor Kenna Griffin. Professor Griffin spent some time analyzing the report, Technorati’s State of the Blogosphere 2010, and she came to this conclusion:

In 2011, there are millions of blogs in the blogosphere, with nearly 1.3 million blogs registered on Technorati alone.

Make no mistake, there still are personal blogs, with arguably the fastest growing blogging segment being Mommy Bloggers. But many of today’s blogs are corporate, organizational or niche, with a fair number of blogs acting as the sole storefront for entrepreneurs.

And a quick peek at Wikipedia confirms Professor Griffin's conclusion: As of 16 February 2011, there were over 156 million public blogs in existence.

Maybe I should have added blogs to my list of everyday categories of items where the choices are staggering in an earlier blog post, Overwhelmed by Choices — How Social Networking Can Help, Part 1.

And so, with a hat tip to the brilliant and witty Mark Twain, I'm happy to conclude that, "The reports of blogging's death are greatly exaggerated."

It's Like the Internet Itself is in Mourning — RIP Steve Jobs

I was as shocked and saddened last night as the rest of the world when the news hit that Steve Jobs had passed away. And I was surprised by how emotional and sad I was feeling about his death — much out of proportion to what I'd think I'd be feeling about the death of a high tech CEO.
I worked on a Mac for a few years, but have been a PC person for most of my life. We own some iPods and my daughter got an iPhone a few months ago, but we're not truly "Apple" people, in fact, I've always been amused by how militant "Apple" people were.

And yet....

It could be because he was only 56 — not all that many years older than I am. Or it could be because he was a local boy who made good — he grew up in the Bay Area, started Apple here and became a high tech titan, redefined what good design is, and helped make Silicon Valley what it is today. As a friend and former manager said on my Facebook posting about it, "...also the fact that we (you and I at least) were working in high tech during the early Apple days. We remember that special time in Silicon Valley history and have watched Steve Jobs and the evolution of Apple ever since."

I'm kind of stunned and at the same time impressed by the outpouring of grief and remembrances on social media channels. Facebook has a new page and a new community, both called RIP Steve Jobs, and together they have almost 100,000 fans. I gave up trying figure out how to count the tweets hashtagged #RIPSteveJobs, #SteveJobs, #iSad, but I'm sure we'll be seeing some totals in the next few days.

 Not surprisingly, Apple's home page is now a tribute to their founder. And even Google quickly added a tribute to their home page.

Time magazine stopped the presses to rework their cover story. President Obama, Bill Gates, and Mark Zuckerberg all had words of praise for Steve Jobs' legacy, and condolences for his passing.

Fandango offered to donate up to $10,000 to the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network in memory of Steve Jobs if they got 10,000 likes on that post on their Facebook page, and they were well over the 10,000 in a little over 3 hours.

There have been shrines and flowers and tears, and hundreds if not thousands of articles and blog posts about how personally people are feeling his loss from our world.

I doubt that Steve Jobs could have known how his creativity and perfectionism and vision would be mourned. But he did know what was truly important, and that's a lesson we can all take to heart.

"When I was 17, I read a quote that went something like: "If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you'll most certainly be right." It made an impression on me, and since then, for the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: "If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?" And whenever the answer has been "No" for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.
Remembering that I'll be dead soon is the most important tool I've ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure - these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart." ~ Steve Jobs