Monthly Archives: June 2008

Seminar on Social Media Adoption in the Enterprise

[fr] Dernier jour pour s'inscrire au séminaire sur les stratégies d'adoption des nouveaux médias dans l'entreprise organisé par mon amie (et néanmoins experte de renommée internationale) Suw Charman-Anderson. C'est à Londres, ce vendredi.

My friend Suw Charman-Anderson is organising a seminar this Friday in London on the adoption of social tools in the enterprise: Making Social Tools Ubiquitous. There are still some places left. The sign-up deadline is tomorrow — act fast.

You’ll find a description of this seminar below. This is a chance to learn about social tools in the enterprise directly from a world-class expert who has practical experience introducing social tools in various businesses. Want a peek? here are notes I took from her talk last year at the Future of Web Apps conference.

Overview You may have heard that social tools – such as wikis, blogs, social bookmarking and social networking – can help you improve business communications, increase collaboration and nurture innovation. And with open source tools, you can pilot projects easily and cheaply. But what do you do if people won’t use them? And how do you grow from a pilot to company-wide use?

Social media expert Suw Charman-Anderson will take a practical look at the adoption of social tools within your business. During the day you will create a scalable and practical social media adoption strategy and discuss your own specific issues with the group. By the end of the seminar you will have a clear set of next steps to take apply to your own collaborative tools project.

The setting Fruitful Seminars take place in an intimate setting, with no more than 9 people attending, so you to get the very most out of the day. The are held at the luxurious One Alfred Place, and include tea & coffee, and lunch from the restaurant.

Who should come?

  • CXO executives
  • managers
  • team leaders
  • decision makers
  • social media practitioners
  • social media vendors

Or anyone in situations similar to these:

  • You have already installed some social tools for internal communications and collaboration, but aren’t getting the take-up you had hoped for.
  • You have successfully completed a pilot and want to roll-out to the rest of the company.
  • You want to start using social tools and need a strategy for fostering adoption.
  • You sell social software or services and want to understand how your clients can foster adoption of your tool.

For more information, check out these recent posts Suw wrote:

The second Fruitful Seminar, held by Lloyd Davis, will take place on July 16th: Mastering Social Media.

Not for you? tell your friends about it. Not this time, but want to keep an eye on what Suw, Leisa and Lloyd are doing with Fruitful Seminars? sign up for their newsletter. Otherwise… time to sign up!

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Posted in Corporate, Social Media and the Web | Tagged Blogs et entreprises, enterprise, fruitful seminars, lloyd davis, seminar, Social Media and the Web, Social Software, Software and Tools, suw charman-anderson, training, workshop | Leave a comment

Entry-Level Diagnostic Quizz on eCulture

[fr] J'ai été approchée récemment par Théo Bondolfi de la fondation Ynternet.org, ce qui a débouché sur un premier mandat ou je sers "d'experte culture internet". Nous finalisons un Quizz eCulture de base (servant d'outil diagnostic avant de suivre un cours) mais voulons nous assurer qu'un tel travail n'a pas déjà été fait ailleurs. Jetez un oeil au document de travail pour le quizz (c'est un peu en chenit, vous êtes prévenus).

A week or so ago I was approached by Théo Bondolfi of the Ynternet.org foundation. It seems we are doing a lot of work in similar fields, though our worlds and networks are very alien to one another.

I’m still trying to wrap my head around how they work and what our differences in perspective are. Clearly, their involvement in international projects and high-level local politics is something I’m completely unfamiliar with, being more a product of the “startuppy-immersed” online culture myself. It’s also a very francophone world which is making me feel a little like a foreigner ;-)

A first small project I am collaborating on with them is the finalisation of an entry-level diagostic quizz on what they call eCulture, for ycampus. It’s basically a collection of 15-20 questions for beginners on online behaviours and social protocols allowing an optimal use of online tools.

The reason for this blog post is the following: though what we’re doing seems pretty basic, we haven’t been capable of laying our hands on anything similar already in existence. One would assume that this work has already been done somewhere, right?

Particularly as the time available to complete this project is quite limited, we’d like to make sure we’re not reinventing the wheel, here.

The final quizz will be published under a Free license. I’ve made our working document available to the public for reading, so feel free to have a peek if you understand enough French (it’s messy, consider yourself warned).

If you know of anything similar in the works or already published, please let me know.

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Posted in Being the boss, Connected Life | Tagged Consulting, cyberculture, diagnostic, eculture, Online Culture, questionnaire, quizz | 1 Comment

Communauté Coworking Léman

[en] In the process of gathering a community of people interested in coworking, in the Lake Geneva area. I have a concrete possibility of setting up a coworking space in Lausanne, but need comitted people to make it happen. Join the mailing-list and introduce yourself so we can talk about it. There is also a blog and a Facebook group you may join and tell your interested friends about.

Il existe depuis quelque temps une mailing-liste et un blog pour parler de coworking et partage de bureaux en région lémanique. Depuis cet après-midi, on a même un groupe sur Facebook. Si la question vous intéresse, rejoignez-nous!

D’où ça sort, tout ça? Petit retour en arrière.

En avril de l’an dernier (2007), je suis à Leeds et je m’apprête à faire la connaissance d’Imran Ali, découvert via un ami commun sur Twitter. Je feuillette ce que Chris Messina et Tara Hunt ont publié au sujet du coworking (je me prépare à aller passer un bon mois à San Francisco chez eux, donc je fais mes devoirs), et je réalise qu’Imran s’est inscrit sur la page Coworking Leeds du wiki. Amusante coïncidence.

Imran ouvrira, avec l’aide de Linda Broughton et le soutien de la Leeds Metropolitan University, l’espace de coworking met:space; c’est entre autres grâce à cette communauté que Going Solo prendra place le 12 septembre prochain à Leeds, dans le même bâtiment!

En mai de la même année, comme mon départ pour les USA se rapproche, je retourne me renseigner un peu sur mes hôtes (Chris et Tara), qui ont passablement contribué à populariser le principe du coworking, en particulier à travers leur espace de coworking Citizen Space. Je visite le site, je lis un petit peu, je découvre, j’aime, et je me dis: “ce serait cool d’avoir quelque chose comme ça à Lausanne.” J’envoie un petit mail très court à deux personnes, je m’inscris sur la liste de discussion coworking, mais ça s’arrête là.

En juillet, je suis à San Francisco (et peut-être même installée dans le canapé de Citizen Space!) quand Olivier écrit Et si on co-travaillait? — on est au moins deux à avoir le même genre de bonne idée à peu près au même moment… les temps sont mûrs en Suisse Romande, ou le seront bientôt. Quelques e-mails sont échangés, une poignée de vaudois sont intéressés, mais rien d’assez solide pour véritablement aller de l’avant.

Décembre de la même année, le sujet coworking revient brièvement sur le devant de la scène lors du premier Website Pro Day. On se retrouve à quatre chez l’un d’entre nous pour travailler chacun de son côté sur sa présence en ligne professionnelle (Website Pro Day!), et c’est vachement sympa. Donc on reparle de coworking. Dans la foulée, je crée un compte Basecamp et un wiki, qui péclotent un peu et finissent par se mourir, comme nos discussions sur le sujet (en tous cas en ce qui me concerne: je commence à être très prise par Going Solo).

Plus tôt cette année, dans les mois précédant Going Solo, il a semblé à deux reprises qu’un local pour y créer une communauté de coworking m’était tombé dans les bras. Réflexion faite, ce n’était pas réaliste, mais ces fausses alertes m’ont (sérieusement) relancée sur le sujet. D’autant plus que je me retrouvais sensibilisée à la problématique du travail en indépendant par la préparation de Going Solo.

Après la deuxième fausse alerte, j’ai décidé qu’il fallait commencer par se concentrer sur la communauté. Trouver un local, ce n’est pas le plus difficile. C’est trouver les gens, le problème. J’ai donc créé la liste de discussion par e-mail Coworking Léman ainsi que le blog associé, que j’anime seule pour l’instant mais que je voudrais également pouvoir remettre en d’autres mains.

Et là… il y a quelques semaines, bonne surprise: les 3 artistes/artisans (dont la céramiste Sylvie Godel) occupant les bureaux du rez inférieur de mon immeuble cherchent à remettre leur local. Il y a donc une possibilité concrète de coworking à Lausanne pour la fin de l’été ou cet automne.

Bon, fini l’histoire. En pratique?

Vous avez besoin d’un bureau de façon irrégulière — ou fixe — en compagnie d’autres personnes sympathiques, ouvertes à la collaboration et au partage, mais avec qui vous ne travaillez pas forcément?

Ça vous intéresse peut-être mais vous n’êtes pas vraiment sûr?

Vous travaillez principalement sur ordinateur ou chez vos clients?

Le coworking est peut-être pour vous.

Pour en savoir plus, inscrivez-vous à notre liste de discussion et envoyez si le coeur vous en dit un bref e-mail pour vous présenter et poser vos questions!

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Posted in Connected Life, My corner of the world | Tagged Announcements, bureaux, co-travail, colocation, Coworking, histoire, lac léman, lausanne, léman, My corner of the world, Online Culture, partage, région lémanique, suisse, suisse romande, switzerland | 2 Comments

Ressources for Parents and Teachers (ISL Talks on Social Networking)

[fr] Quelques liens, points de départ pour mes deux conférences plus tard dans la journée (parents et enseignants, au sujet des adolescents et des réseaux sociaux comme Facebook).

I’m giving two talks today at the ISL, one for teachers and another for parents, about teenagers and social networking (that the request was specifically for “social networking” makes me happy, because we’re finally moving away from the whole “blog” thing). I think we’re moving away further and further from the “internet as library” metaphor, and the “internet as city/village” image is the one that most people are starting to have.

I have already gathered many links with useful information all over the place, but I think it’s a good thing to collect some of them here for easier access. If you’re reading this not long after I posted it, you’ll find a whole series of quotes in my Tumblr, too.

General starting-points

Fear of sexual predators

This is by large the most important fear linked to teenagers and the internet. Thankfully, it is much exaggerated and no more of concern than fear of predators offline. Three starting-points:

The real issues

You’ll see that these are much less “newsworthy” than sexual predators.

  • privacy (in the sense of revealing too much about yourself or in an inappropriate context, which leads to embarrassement or social problems) — a look at Facebook privacy settings
  • permanence of online media
  • weakness of anonymity
  • misunderstanding of how online interactions affect communication and relationships (“chat effect”, flame wars…)
  • slide-show of a presentation I gave about the kind of mischief teenagers get upto on blogs (what I managed to lay my hands on, with screenshots — no fear, it’s pretty mild)
  • intellectual property (copyright)
  • necessary to move away from a model of “education through control” as everything is available at a click of a mouse (age-restricted content like porn, shopping, gambling)
  • rumors, hoaxes and urban legends (use snopes.com to debunk them)
  • bullying and many other unpleasant online phenomenons are also offline phenomenons, but sometimes less visible to adults; the core issue does not change — if these problems are addressed properly offline, then they will also be online
  • cyberaddiction is not common at all, despite what some articles might want to have you believe — unhealthy usage of the computer usually is not the problem in itself, but an element of a larger problem which needs to be addressed
  • the jury is still out on gaming — though it’s clearly not healthy to be spending too much time immersed in interactive virtual worlds when you’re learning to get to grips with reality, it seems that participating in multi-player online games can have a significant positive impact on ability to work in teams and solve problems creatively

Other links or comments

I will probably add to this article later on, following the requests made during the talks. If you want to suggest a topic or ask a question, feel free to do so in the comments.

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Posted in Connected Life, Digital Youth, Social Media and the Web | Tagged bebo, Digital Youth, facebook, information, Links, myspace, Online Culture, parents, prevention, resources, school, skyrock, social networking, social networks, Social Software, switzerland, talk, teachers, teenagers, teens | Leave a comment

5 Lessons in Promoting Events Using Social Media (Back to Basics)

[fr] Leçons apprises lors de la promotion de Going Solo:

  • communiquer directement avec les gens (messagerie instantanée, conversation offline, téléphone) est le mode de communication le plus efficace
  • ne pas négliger l'e-mail, les dossiers de presse, le matériel imprimable: tout le monde ne lira pas le blog ou Twiter
  • rien ne devient automatiquement "viral" parce que c'est sur internet: aider les gens à vous aider à passer l'info, par exemple avec un e-mail "forwardable"
  • aller où sont les gens, les retrouver dans leur communauté (Facebook, MySpace, Rezonance, LinkedIn... partout)
  • ça prend du temps... beaucoup de temps

J'ai été surprise à quel point tout ceci a été difficile pour moi, alors qu'une partie de mon métier consiste à expliquer aux gens comment utiliser les nouveaux médias pour communiquer plus efficacement. Une leçon d'humilité, et aussi un retour à certaines choses basiques mais qui fonctionnent, comme l'e-mail ou le chat. En récompense, par contre, un événement qui a été un succès incontesté, et tout cela sans le soutien des médias traditionnels (pour cause de communiqué de presse un poil tardif) -- mis à part nouvo, qui a répercuté l'annonce, mais qui trouvait que c'était cher!

One of the big lessons I learnt while organising Going Solo is that promoting and communicating about an event through social media requires a huge amount of time and energy. In this post, I’d like to share a few of the very practical things I (re-)discovered.

Even though part of what I do for a living is explain social media and its uses in marketing to my clients, I found it quite a challenge when I actually had to jump in and do it. (Yes, I’m aware this may sound pretty lame. By concentrating on the big picture and the inspiring success stories, one tends to forget some very basic things. Sending managers back to the floor every now and then is a good thing.)

The main lesson I learnt is the following:

  • 1. The absolute best channel to promote anything is one-on-one personal conversation with somebody you already have some sort of relationship with.

Any other solution is a shortcut. And all shortcuts have prices.

This means I ended up spending a lot of time:

  • talking to people on IM, IRC, and offline at conferences
  • sending out personal messages on LinkedIn and Facebook.

Anytime you do something to spare you this time (like sending out a collective e-mail, writing a blog post, or even tweeting — situations where you’re not adressing one specific individual directly) you dilute what you’re communicating. You open the door to:

  • imperfect understanding of what you’re trying to say
  • people not feeling like it’s really addressed to them (lack of interest, or lack of awareness that their actions are important to you)
  • people simply not seeing it.

I have many examples of this. I created a page with material people could use to promote Going Solo, in particular, blog sidebar badges. But not many people put them up spontanously, even amongst my friends. But when I started pinging people on IM and asking them if they would please put up a badge to support my event, they did it. They just hadn’t got around to doing it, hadn’t realised that them doing it was important for me, or it had simply slipped their mind. It’s perfectly understandable: it’s “my” event, not theirs.

Another example is when I started sending out my “forwardable e-mails” (lesson #3 is about them), most people stopped at “well, I’m not a freelancer” or “I can’t come”. It took some explaining to make sure they understood that the main reason I was sending them the e-mail was that they might know somebody who would like to come to the event, or who could blog about it, or help with promoting it. If I spared myself the personal conversation and just sent the e-mail, people were much less likely to really understand what I expected from them, even through it was spelled out in the e-mail itself.

And that was a big secondary lesson I learnt while preparing Going Solo: it’s not because people don’t get back to you, or don’t act, that they aren’t interested or don’t want to. The burden is on you to make it as easy as possible for them to help you.

Let’s continue on to the next lessons.

  • 2. Blogs and Twitter are essential, but don’t neglect less sexy forms of communication: newsletter, press release, printable material.

The first thing I did for Going Solo was to create a blog and a Twitter account. Getting a blog and Twitter account off the ground isn’t easy, and it took quite a lot of one-on-one communication (see lesson #1) (and blogging here on CTTS) to get enough people to link to them so that they started taking off.

But the lesson here is that not everybody is on Twitter, and not everbody reads blogs. We highly-connected types tend to forget that. It didn’t take me that long to get the feeling that I had “exhausted” my immediate, social-media-enabled network — meaning that all the people who knew me directly had heard what I was talking about, linked to stuff if they were going to, or registered for the event if they were interested.

So, here are some less “social media cutting-edge” forms of communication I used, most of them very late in the process (earlier next time):

Some comments.

Our press release came out so late that we got no coverage at all from traditional media, bar one exception, which focused on how expensive the event was. This means Going Solo Lausanne is a great case study of successful event promotion entirely through social media.

When I created the newsletter, I spent a lot of time following lesson #1 and inviting people personally to sign up, through IM most of the time. I sent out invitations through the Google Groups interface, of course (to the extent that I got flagged as a potential spammer). But I also went through the process of inviting people directly through IM.

A word of warning about newsletters: don’t add people to your newsletter unless you’ve checked beforehand that they were OK with it, or if you have a very good reason to do so (they are the speakers/attendees for your event) — but even then, it can be risky. I was recently added to a bunch of mailing-lists without having asked for it, rather than invited, and I find it really annoying. It’s way more impolite to unsubscribe from a newsletter than refuse an invitation to subscribe, so adding people can put them in an embarrassing situation (be impolite vs. be annoyed at getting newsletters one doesn’t want).

  • 3. Don’t expect “viral” or “organic” spreading of your promotion to happen, but prepare the field so it can: the forwardable e-mail.

There is so much talk about the fact that social media allows things to spread all by themselves (and indeed, there is an important potential for that, and when it happens, it’s very powerful) — that we tend to expect it to happen and be disappointed when it doesn’t. And let’s face it, it’s not something that we can control (sorry for stating the obvious again, I’m doing that a lot in this post) and it takes quite a bit of skill to create the right conditions so that it may happen.

So, now that we’ve set our expectations, what can be done to help things spread? I mentioned having exhausted my immediate network higher up, so I needed to come up with a solution which would help me reach beyond it. How could I get my friends to mention Going Solo to their friends?

Of course, our use of social media in general allows that. Blogs, Facebook Groups and Events, sidebar badges… all this is material which can spread. But again — what about the people who aren’t bathing in social media from morning to evening?

Back to basics: e-mail. E-mail, be it under the shape of a newsletter, a discussion list, or simple personal messages, has a huge advantage over other forms of online communication: you’re sure people know how to use it. It’s the basic, level 0 tool that anybody online has and understands.

So, I started sending out e-mail. A little bit of push is good, right? I composed a rather neutral e-mail explaining what Going Solo was about, who it was for, giving links to more information, and a call to action or two. I then sent this impersonal text to various people I knew, with a personal introduction asking them to see if they knew anybody who could be interested in information about this event, and inviting them to forward the message to these people. Nothing extraordinary in that, right?

I of course applied lesson #1 (you’re starting to know that one, right?) and tried as much as possible to check on IM, beforehand, if it was OK for me to send the “forwardable e-mail” to each person. So, basically, no mass-mailing, but an e-mail written in such a way that it was “forwardable” in a “here’s what my friend Steph is doing, could interest you” way, which I passed along as a follow-up to a direct chat with each person.

In a more “social media” spirit, of course, make sure that any videos you put online can easily be shared and linked to, etc. etc — but that will be pretty natural for anybody who’s familiar with blogging and “being online”.

  • 4. Go where people are. Be everywhere.

Unless your event is already very well known, you need to go to people, and not just wait for them to come to you. If you’ve set up a blog, Twitter account, newsletter, then you have a place where people can come to you. But that’s not enough. You need to go where people are:

  • Facebook
  • Upcoming
  • LinkedIn
  • Xing
  • MySpace
  • Pownce
  • Seesmic
  • Existing communities big and small… (blogs, forums, chatrooms)

Again, this is a very basic principle. But it’s not because it’s basic that it’s invalidated by the magic world of social media. Where you can create an event, create an event (Upcoming, Facebook, Pownce, Rezonance — a local networking thingy); where you can create a group, create a group — I waited a lot before creating a Facebook group for Going Solo, because I had a fan page for it already, but as you can see the group worked much better.

  • 5. It’s a full-time job.

Honestly, I didn’t think I’d spend weeks doing nothing else but send e-mails, update Facebook pages, blog, send e-mails, talk to people, IM, tweet, e-mail again… to promote Going Solo. It’s a huge amount of work. It’s so much work that one could imagine having somebody full time just to do it. So when you’re (mainly) a one-person shop, it’s important to plan that a significant amount of your time might be spent on promotion. It’s easy to underestimate that (I did, and in a major way).

Working this way doesn’t scale. At some point, one-on-one communication takes up too much time and energy to compensate for the benefits it brings over more impersonal forms of communication. But that only happens once your event is popular enough. Before you’ve held your first event (which was the situation I was in with Going Solo Lausanne), you don’t have a community of advocates for your work, you don’t have fans (you might have personal fans, but not fans of your event) or passionate attendees ;-) , you don’t have other people doing your work for you.

At the beginning, every person who hears about your event is the result of sweat and hard work. Hopefully, at some point it’ll take off and you’ll start seeing more and more people blogging about the event you’re organising — but even then, it might take a while before you can just sit back and watch things happen. But in case this moment comes earlier than planned, you’re all set: you have a blog, a Twitter account, a Facebook group and a newsletter. Until then, though, you’re going to be stuck on IM and sending out e-mails.

A few last words

I hope that by sharing these lessons with you, I’ll have contributed to making things a little easier for somebody else in the same situation I was. You’ll have understood that I haven’t tried to be exhaustive about how to use social media for promotion — indeed, I’ve skipped most of the “advanced” stuff that is more often spoken about.

But I think it’s easy to get so taken up with the “latest and greatest” tools out there that we forget some of the basic stuff. I, for one, was guilty of that initially.

Also, one thing I haven’t spoken about is how to talk to people. Of course, some of what you’re doing is going to be impersonal. Own up to it, if you’re mass e-mailing. Don’t pretend to be personal when you aren’t — it’s hypocritical, doesn’t come across well, and can be smelled a mile away.

I haven’t quite finished reconciling my practical experience with how I believe things “should” work. I’ve learnt a lot, but I certainly haven’t figured everything out yet. I would have wanted to do a lot more, but time simply wasn’t available, so I tried to prioritize. I made choices, and some of them were maybe mistakes. But overall, I’m happy with how things went and what I learnt.

If you have had similar experiences, I’d be really happy to hear from you. Likewise, if you disagree with some of the things I’ve written, or think I’m wrong on certain counts, do use the comments. I’m open to debate, even though I’m a bit hard-headed ;-) .

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Posted in Being the boss, Social Media and the Web | Tagged advice, chat, communication, e-mail, entrepreneuring, event, facebook, im, instant messaging, lessons, marketing, Personal, promotion, Social Media and the Web, Social Software, Thinking, tools, twitter | 31 Comments

LIFT’08: David Brown Workshop — Teenagers and Generation Y

[fr] Notes prises lors de LIFT'08. Workshop sous forme de table ronde avec 4 ados de 16-17 ans, étudiants à l'école internationale de Founex.

I took these notes at LIFT’08 in February, and am only publishing them now, I’m afraid!

Workshop notes with real live teenagers! No guarantee as to how exact my notes are… etc.

Panel with real teenagers LIFT08

Four teenagers from the International School of Founex

Trying to formalize things. A bunch of themes/apps to approach this session:

Social networks, IM, Music, Video/Films, E-mail, Blogs, Niche Web2.0, Location based, Connectivity (what hardware?), Phone SMS, Own tools, Wow and virtual worlds… Real world.

Friends/social circle, buying/e-commerce/for free, advertising/marketing/messages, geographical distance, homework, privacy security personal data, organising, fragmentation

Going round the room to see who is who and what their interest in teenagers and the net is.

steph-note: worried that the approach here might be a little too “adult-oriented”

Teens (seem like a highly educated, very literate bunch, critical; international school!):

Chloe: Facebook to communicate with teachers, a lot for school. Not a gamer, more of a social/pictures person. Maths homework via internet (Mathletics). 2h a night.

Luisa (?): 16 — Facebook to communicate with each other, organise meetings, not a gamer.

Elliot: not much of a computer-user, heavy mobile phone user (text/calling), would play games (was denied electronics until he was 12). Facebook: good way of archiving who your friends are and what they look like — good way to communicate by replying in your own time.

Liam: typical: video games, music (not a hardcore gamer though), Facebook to keep track of friends (social circle online and offline overlap). Wikipedia saves your life for homework.

Elliot: FB = great way of controlling the photos of you other people are posting on the internet.

Liam: used to use MySpace but now really identified with Emos… so.

Chloe: used to have a skyblog, had lots of french-speaking friends. In the international world, more Facebook. Was one of the first in her school to have FB, as one of her best friends moved to the US and they had it there.

ELuisa: FB really helps you keep up-to-date with people you’ve met over the summer. With e-mail, your friendship wears out.

Liam: regular e-mail is good for attachments.

Luisa: it’s weird to have your teacher as your friend. steph-note: they don’t want to know too much about their teachers lives

Chloe: concerned about providing stalker material (cleaned up and deleted many people she didn’t really know). Didn’t realise that everybody in the Switzerland network could see all her info — changed the setting, and is spreading the word around her, even to her teachers.

My parents use the internet to work/communicate (use FB e.g.) so quite open-minded. Used to ask for her e-mail password in case anything happened, but Chloe doesn’t really think it’s necessary.

Luisa: keeping up on FB gives you something to talk about when you go back — you’re up-to-date.

Never considered using Skyblog as public, and parents uncomfortable. FB: more control and privacy, feels comfortable with it.

Elliot: couple of friends of mine rejected from universities based on their FB page.

Chloe: Rumors?

Elliot: heard that some employers now demand access to your FB page (but could be untrue). FB information is rather light-hearted, likes and dislikes, etc — not really the business of the school or the employer.

My question:

  • how much of a threat do sexual predators online seem to you?
  • do you feel that holding back personal information keeps you safer?

Chloe: not that concerned (from what I understand), doesn’t think that holding back information keeps her safer — weirdos can get that info anyway. steph-note: good for her! Weird IM people: blocks them.

Luisa: less concerned than she feels she should.

Elliot: more concerned about internet fraud. (E-bay.)

Question: buying online?

Answer: not much (trust, likes going into shops and talking to people)

Chloe: doesn’t like the idea of paying by credit card.

Luisa: amazon++ that’s ok.

Q: concert tickets

Elliot: yeah, tickets often available only online — got semi-scammed once.

(The panel seems divided on online shopping.)

Luisa: convenience vs. safety (giving your credit card number)

Elliot: quite wary of using the credit cards he has, because he knows he’s being tracked quite closely.

Comment: the teenagers here have little “positive” experience of using their credit cards to counter-balance the media scare about issues like fraud or identity theft — which can explain their general wariness.

Chloe: her dad and her do grocery shopping online on LeShop.ch, and she’s comfortable with that. Useful.

Luisa, Liam: really weird to go shopping for clothes and food on the internet.

Elliot: gets information in the store and order it online.

Our panel doesn’t seem that familiar with the “go in town, take photos, post them on facebook, get feedback, buy online” method.

Luisa: more “funny” pictures from changing rooms, but wouldn’t really put them on FB.

girls: ask opinion about shopping for clothes to offline friends with them, but wouldn’t do it via the internet. So much more fun to do it offline. No fun to do it over the internet.

My question: plagiarism in homework

Answer: systems in place in school to detect it, don’t do it — know people who have gotten away with it, but this is more something the younger grades do. Doesn’t make much sense because you can’t fake oral presentations.

Elliot: wikipedia not regarded as a good source.

Liam: because anybody can write what they want on it.

Got to be careful with what you find in wikipedia. Experimented with putting BS into pages just to see they could.

Music creation and writing on the computer. Picture editing.

Consensus: online doesn’t beat the real world.

Luisa: a good photographer is not somebody who’s skilled in photoshop, it’s somebody who takes a good picture.

Some consensus here that digital art is “less” than using classical techniques. Don’t feel “creative” in front of a computer.

Comment: you guys actually look down to things that are easy. steph-note: spot on

steph-note: interesting how fascinated we adults are to have a chance to actually talk with teenagers!

steph-note: conversation is interesting but going off-topic as far as I’m concerned (about being critical in general, having role-models).

Elliot: technology makes it easier to be critical and determine if what is said in a lecture is a widespread view or not, etc.

Question: do you have any role-models? steph-note: imho badly phrased… need to be more concrete: who do you look upto? admire?

Discussion about music downloading. Awareness that they have the means to buy the music they like (wealthy enough).

Luisa: “the internet isn’t the only way of spreading…(the word?)”. Doing things for real (building a schoolroom in tanzania) has more impact on me than buying a cow through the internet.

Not much webcam use (just Chloe, friends in the states).

steph-note: sorry, tuning out — could have done with a break but didn’t push for it.

Discussion about creative commons and copyright. No perception that photographs you find in Google are not free of rights. Seems to be a lot of confusion about copyright regarding images/photographs. Contrast with discourse about music downloading.

Blogs: a fashion that has gone past. steph-note: confirms what I thought, and also why I’m not asked in for talks in schools as much as before. I think FB and social networking in general are “replacing” blogs for teenagers. In francophonia though, I guess FB hasn’t taken off, so it will still be Skyrock. But it’s called Skyrock now, and not Skyblog…

Less use of MSN, but Skype and Facebook.

Elliot: in the UK, Blackberry

This bunch are the student council, go on humanitarian trips, etc. Not the most tech-savvy necessarily, but talkative!

Gambling.

Data usage: this is Switzerland! Data is horrendously expensive, and it’s not in the culture to use it.

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Posted in Digital Youth, Live Blogging | Tagged conference, Digital Youth, lift, lift08, school, switzerland, teenagers, teens, workshop | 7 Comments

About Not Reading

[fr] Je me suis rendu compte tout dernièrement à quel point il est facile de répondre à une question sans l'avoir lue en entier, de commenter sur un billet de blog sans avoir cliqué sur le lien. FriendFeed pousse un peu à ça, avec sa manie de lister des titres de billets sur lesquels on peut commenter (je prétends pas avoir une meilleure solution).

Récemment, je demandais à mon entourage leur avis sur une question de workshops avant ou après Going Solo (j'en parlerai ailleurs plus en détail, ce n'est pas le propos de ce billet), et j'ai été étonnée de la quantité de réponses qui semblaient indiquer que mon interlocuteur n'avait en fait pas lu le lien que je lui avais donné.

Je ne vais pas jeter la pierre, je me rends régulièrement coupable du même raccourci (commenter sans avoir lu) même si j'essaie vraiment de me limiter. Ça me rappelle les Mythologiques de Lévi-Strauss, qu'on cite à tout va mais que personne n'a en fait lues en entier...

I’m guilty too. I sometimes read the title of a blog post, or a few sentences of an article, and comment on it.

It struck me recently how common this practice is, and also how it impairs communication. It’s the shortcut, the bet we make that we guessed or assumed correctly, the easy way out. Communication with no parasites requires work, and patience.

These last two days I’ve been trying to make up my mind about whether to place workshops before or after the main day of conferences for Going Solo. It’s a tricky problem which I don’t want to start discussing right now (I’m going to blog about the issues I face more precisely on the Going Solo blog shortly).

So, I chatted with people, Twittered about it, got into e-mail conversations, and decided to sum up some of my thoughts in a Tumblr entry, which allowed me to simply point people there and ask them what their thoughts were.

And I was amazed at how many people didn’t actually respond to my point of concern (“are there any economical/sales/marketing reasons for putting a workshop before a conference, if there are other good reasons to place it after”) because the title, visible in the URL, led them to believe it was a simpler question: http://steph.tumblr.com/post/37831000/workshops-before-or-after.

Now, I’m guilty as much as they are. I took a shortcut too by blogging my thoughts and giving them a link, rather than engaging with each of them personally from ground zero.

But setting aside the question or workshops (which I’ll expound in another post), it did serve as an enlighting reminder that people (me included) do not always read what they react to.

It reminds me of one of my university teachers who told us the following story. When he was doing his PhD, he started trudging through the four volumes of Claude Lévi-Strauss’s Mythologiques. For those who are not familiar with Lévi-Strauss, Mythologiques is his master work and is oft-cited in many disciplines of the academic world. Well, as he was stumbling upon some particularly nasty passages, he started asking collegues and professors what they had thought of them. And to his surprise, he realised that nobody he could find had actually read through the four volumes. Everyone was talking about this work, but nobody had actually read it in its entirety.

Isn’t that incredible?

Well, not so incredible if you think of it — at least not in the academic world. And obviously, not in the blog world either.

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Posted in Stuff that doesn't fit | Tagged assumption, Blogger musings, commentary, commenting, communication, Psychology / Sociology, reading, Thinking | 16 Comments

Against Threaded Conversations on Blogs

[fr] J'avoue une préférence marquée pour les conversations linéaires plutôt que hierarchiques (en arbre). Les conversations linéaires génèrent peut-être moins de commentaires, mais elles ont un rapport signal/bruit plus favorable, n'encourageant pas le hors-sujet. Elles sont plus faciles à suivre et me semblent plus adaptées aux blogs.

So, now that Going Solo Lausanne is behind me and I can come back to a slightly more sane pace of life (and blogging here, hopefully), I’m starting to read blogs again, a little. Don’t hold your breath too long though, contrary to popular belief, I’ve never been much of a blog-reader.

Blog commenting

One topic I’ve read about a bit, and which is of particular interest for me, is blog commenting. Aside from the fascinating topic (I’m not kidding) of blog comment ownership, which I touched upon myself more than 18 months ago, there is the age-old debate: threaded vs. non-threaded comments.

On the backdrop of my break-up with coComment (impending, in the process, fresh) and their post about commenter’s rights, I’ve taken a closer look at Disqus. It looks promising, it does some stuff I like, but also stuff I really don’t like, like the dreaded threaded comments.

So, here’s an attempt to try to explain why I think that threaded comments in a blog context are not necessarily a good thing — although popular wisdom would have that they are “better” than normal, flat, conversations.

I did a little research to see if I could find anything solid to back up my claims (if anyone knows of proper research on these issues, let me know), but I didn’t find anything really solid. So, I’ll just have to try to make this logical enough that it can be convincing.

The appeal of threaded conversations

Threaded conversations are as old as the internet itself. Usenet, e-mail discussion list archives. So, they’re nothing new, and have been around a while.

When blogs started including comments — oh yes, there were blogs way before there were comments, and the commenting script I used on this blog was for many years a popular destination — so, when blog started including comments, those comments were not threaded (in the sense that they allowed hierarchy in the comments, or branching off, or a tree-like view).

For many years, all I saw on blogs was linear conversations, as opposed to threaded, tree-like conversations. Most forum software also functions like that.

Then, of course, with some regularity, I’ve heard people asking for plugins to make the conversations on their blogs “threaded”. And I wondered. Why the attraction to hierarchical conversations?

When we have a conversation, be it with a single other person, or around a big table, it flows in one direction: the direction of time. There is before, and there is after. One might say “you said something 10 minutes ago that I’d like to answer” — and we’re quite capable of following this kind of conversation. We do it every day.

If we chat, be it on IRC or on IM, or any other kind of chatroom, we know that there are often multiple intertwined conversations going on at the same time. With a bit of practice, it doesn’t bother us too much. But the important point remains: the conversation is ordered chronologically.

So, be it offline or online, most of the conversations we have are time-ordered.

I think the appeal of threaded hierarchical conversations lies in the fact that they seem more “orderly” than one long stream of posts, ordered not necessarily by the logic of the conversation topic, but by the flow of time in which it takes place. It’s hierarchical. It’s organized. It’s neat, mathematical, logical. Algorithmic. Computer-friendly.

But is it brain-friendly?

Human-friendly conversations

Human beings do not think like computers. Though some human beings who spend lots of time programming or give excessive importance to logico-mathematical thinking might like approaching problems and the rest of life in a binary way, that is simply not how most people function. (Literary backdrop for this paragraph: A Perfect Mess.)

I think people who like threaded conversations like them because they have a higher order of organisation than non-threaded conversations. And better organised should be… better.

You won’t be surprised that I disagree with this. A good conversation online, for me, is one that can be easily followed, caught up with, and participated in. In that respect, a linear suite of comments is much easier to read or catch up with than a huge tree. When it comes to participating, the linear conversation offers only one option: add a comment at the end. In the tree, you first have to decide where in the tree you’re going to post. (Literary backdrop for this paragraph: The Paradox of Choice.)

How the format impacts the conversation

Another way to tackle this is to examine what impact hierarchical and linear comment threads have on the conversations they host.

Hierarchical – Threaded:

  • off-topic comments branch off into separate conversations
  • overall, more comments
  • lots of parallel conversations

Linear:

  • conversation stays reasonably focused
  • less comments
  • limited number of parallel conversations

I personally do not think that “more comments = better”. On a blog post, I like to see the conversation stay reasonably focused on the initial topic. For that reason, I think that linear comments are best on a blog.

More conversation is not always better

Of course, there are always parallel conversations going on. On Twitter, on FriendFeed, in IM windows I’ll never know about. As a blogger, I would like a way to point to these conversations from my post, so that a person reading could then have access easily to all the public conversations going on about what they read. Conversation fragmentation is not something we’re going to get rid of, but we can try to minimize it.

Increasingly, our problem is becoming one of signal-to-noise ratio and chatter. These are subjective notions. My signal is somebody else’s noise, and vice versa. I’m happy that there is chatter and small talk in the world and online (it’s a big part of human interaction and what relationships can be made of), also about what I write. But on my blog, I’d like to keep the chatter somewhat down, even if that means my “number of comments per post” or “conversational index” is not high. I’d rather have less conversation here, and give it a chance to be more interesting and accessible to outsiders, than huge 50+ comment threads that nobody is going to read besides the hardcore die-hard social media types.

More reading and listening

You’ll find some of the links I found on del.icio.us. If you’re into videos, the topic was raised about 6 months ago on Seesmic. Here’s what I had to say at the time:

I’ve also dug up a few quotes I found in some old discussions on MeFi. They’re in my Tumblr, but as Tumblr tumbles along, I’m reproducing them here:

If you’re trying to build community, it is clear that linear, non-threaded discussions are superior. There is a good body of research on this – it’s not new, it’s not a novel idea. For tech support stuff, hierarchical tree structures are better, in general.

Micheal Boyle (mikel)

One of the arguments for adding any feature that is designed to hide noise is that it gives it a permanent home. When Slashdot added moderation and auto-hiding to their threads, they gave the -1 NATALIE PORTMAN’S BOOBS brigade a permanent home on the site.

I checked out digg’s new setup earlier this week and 75% of all the comments were complaining about mod points. I don’t know if that’s an improvement.

Matt Haughey

This place is like a pub.

One does not have threaded conversations in a pub.

five fresh fish

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Tagged Blogger musings, blogging, Citations, commenting, comments, computer, conversation, conversationalindex, discussion, disqus, hierarchy, human, linear, logic, neatness, order, threaded, tree | 20 Comments