Blogging 4 Business: Panel on User-Generated Content [en]

Panel: Euan, Struan, Mark, Lisa

Engaging with the consumer.

Blogging 4 Business

Struan: lawyers hate risk, and also really bad at blogging. Law firm in New Jersey which was told not to blog. Works for big law firm. Been advising clients about blogs and online stuff for the last 12 months. Problems with user-generated content, or staff which might be blogging. Risk-management perspective. Caution.

Mark: short war between Israel and Lebanon. Photographs discovered by bloggers. Wake-up call about how powerful blogging and user-generated content can be. Reuters in Second Life: what journalist ethics in a virtual world? *steph-note: hate it when “virtual” is used to describe digital spaces, because it sounds like “unreal”.* [Global Voices Online](http://www.globalvoicesonline.org/).

Lisa: worked for eBay. Hard to give all power to users, keep some control. Yahoo.

Euan: “branding”, “customers”, event terms like “web2.0” etc., vocabulary indicating hordes of people piling onto something that was previously small, maybe fragile. Real danger of killing it in the process. How do you influence (rather than “control”) these environments? *steph-note: let me add “engage with your brand” and “user-generated content” to that list, just mentioned in the moderator’s question.*

Lisa: Quality? depends what the objective is. Asking users to provide photos of sunsets which match the one in the film. Ad contest, winning one (Doritos) cost 12$69 or something. Doritos: is it going to be good? Five finalists (with which D. were all OK) were so keen on winning they actually did their own campaigns, sending the videos to their friends, etc.

Mark: social media providing an alternate way of judging which photos are best for illustrating a subject.

Struan: as soon as you encourage the community to produce stuff, you need to be prepared to what might come back your way. *steph-note: stuff will come back your way whether you ask for it or not; it’s already out there!*

Lisa: when there is product attacking a product which has positive to it, there are often many positive comments which come to its defence.

Euan: flamewars etc. Law struggling to keep up with what’s happening. Jonathan Schwartz who wants to blog financial information, but it’s illegal to do so for the moment.

Struan: there is nothing to stop the information getting out through an unofficial channel.

Moderator: July 2006, Reuters brought to task by some bloggers. What was the internal response to that? (We know the public one…)

Mark: very quickly issued a classic release for news organisations in which they thanked the blogger for the photograph. Hasn’t happened again. Been continuous dialogue with professional photographers and bloggers.

Moderator: need for vetting UGC? Editorial decisions that journalists take all the time but that the public may not be familiar with.

Struan: YouTube, MySpace, not in their interest to check the content (if they did, more liability!) as long as they react quickly in case of content. Guardian: comments not approved — Time: comments approved => higher risk, because involves judgement call. *steph-note: I think this is with UK law, not sure it would work like that in CH.*

Euan: if you try to sanitise the conversation it will move somewhere else.

Lisa: guidelines. Help community moderate itself.

Question to Euan: what are the rules to “keep it pure”, when consulting? (re: fears of “commercialisation”)

Euan: authenticity. It’s not anti-advertising, or anti-commercialism. *steph-note: not sure I got that Q&A right.*

Struan: biggest problem for companies getting into blogging is finding something interesting to write about, and somebody who is capable of writing it. *steph-note: I agree, but it’s often because they don’t think of looking in the right places.*

Question: legal implications if you have bloggers and you let them do it, and they say things that are not necessarily the view of the company?

Struan: company won’t be really able to distance itself from the bloggers. Need to trust the people who are blogging. Posts don’t need to go through the legal department, but some guidelines are in order. When can they blog, how much? Do they understand the basics of trademark and copyright law (to avoid silly lawsuits), do they understand what is and is not confidential? Manageable risks, not something to panic about. Plain English is OK. Encourage bloggers to get a second opinion if they have doubts about what they’re posting. Fair use.

Euan: BBC blog policy (wiki page, developed by existing BBC bloggers). Much more conversation than if just the legal dept. had taken care of it.

Struan: blogger who wrote some potentially offensive political stuff on his blog, somebody googled him, found he worked for Orange, he was suspended (later reinstated). Petite Anglaise story (well recounted). The employer should have had guidelines to protect itself (not nice for bloggers, but better for the company).

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Teenagers and Skyblog: Cartigny Powerpoint Presentation [en]

[fr] Une présentation que j'ai donnée en juin lors d'un colloque de recherche à Cartigny. La présentation powerpoint contient un "tour d'horizon" plutôt visuel de ce que j'ai pu rencontrer durant mes "promenades" sur la plate-forme Skyblog. Cela représente assez bien les préoccupations des écoles qui me contactent afin de venir parler de blogs aux adolescents, aux parents, et aux enseignants (pas tous en même temps bien sûr!)

Earlier this year (in June) I was asked to give a presentation on teenagers and blogs at a medical research workshop in Cartigny, near Geneva (Sexual Health of Adolescents in the Internet Age: Old Concerns, New Challenges). I’ve just received an OK to put it online, so here it is: [Teenagers and Skyblog, Powerpoint [8Mb]](http://climbtothestars.org/files/20060622-teenagers-and-blogs.ppt).

It’s basically a very visual “collage” of what I’ve found during my expeditions on the [Skyblog blogging platform](http://skyblog.com) which a lot of French-speaking teenagers use. It reflects the kind of issues that I’m asked to come and [speak about in schools](http://stephanie-booth.com/offre/conferences/) (to teenagers, parents, and teachers — not at the same time, of course).

My excuses for the format — no powerpoint on this machine, so I can’t convert it to anything nicer.

I’ve just discovered SlideShare and uploaded the slides there. You can view them below:

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First Steps in Second Life [en]

[fr] Mes premiers pas dans l'environnement Second Life. En trois sessions (hier soir, ce matin, et ce soir) j'ai tout de même réussi à changer d'habits et de coupe de cheveux. Je trouve l'apprentissage difficile. Ce n'est pas habituel pour moi de me sentir maladroite et submergée d'informations devant un ordinateur!

A few months ago, I signed up for Second Life. I spent one evening going through the “training” island, and then didn’t go back until yesterday (Second Life won’t run on my windows box).

Well, people, I’m finding it really hard. I’m not used to finding myself in an environment I have trouble using and which is confusing to me. Here’s the story of what I’ve been through and understood (or not) — with pictures, so that you can get an idea what’s going on in there if you’re not familiar with Second Life. I’m Stephanie Spicoli in Second Life — do get in touch in-world if you have an account.

One thing I’ve pretty much figured out is how to use the arrows to walk around. Sounds silly, heh? At first, I kept running into things. Now I’m getting used to turn left/right, and backwards/forwards.

Yesterday evening, I spent some time in the welcome zone — lots of weirdos there. A kind person helped me out a bit by giving me things and showing me some place I could go to which were nice.

Put this way, it sounds straightforward, doesn’t it? Well, it isn’t. What happened is I started having all sorts of little pop-ups appearing on my screen. I didn’t know for the life of me what to do with them. First I clicked “Discard” on all of them because I didn’t know what they were. Then I had to ask her to give them to me again, and vaguely understood I had to keep them in my Inventory (that’s where you store things in Second Life, kind of like a big handbag). But I couldn’t figure out how to put them in there. Actually, I just had to close the pop-up windows, they were already in my inventory. Gosh. Thank goodness chatting is pretty similar (albeit somewhat laggy when it comes to typing feedback) and I’m at least familiar with that part.

Very confusing I then teleported to New Citizens Incorporated, a place which gives classes and has lots of free stuff for newcomers. You can see the shops on this photograph. I went into one of the shops, and the shelves were absolutely packed with all sorts of stuff which didn’t make much sense to me. Well, one type of item I understood was “clothes”. I wasn’t really interested in clothes at first, until I saw another person wearing exactly the same outfit as I was! I was still wearing the default outfit they give you in the training zone.

That set me off on my first mission: try to get some new clothes. Not as easy as it sounds. I managed to get a box or two of female clothes off a shelf (Cmd-click on the box, and choose buy). Of course, I tried to wear the clothes directly and ended up with a box on my head. Then I understood I had to go in my inventory, drag the box out of it so it was on the floor, Cmd-click on it, choose open, then go back into my inventory, look at what items of clothing were in there, Cmd-click the ones I wanted to wear and choose “wear” from the menu. Sounds like a lot of trouble just to change clothes, doesn’t it? Well, it was. It probably took me an hour. Needless to say that in the process I ended up in my underwear — though hopefully I managed to avoid being stark naked in the middle of NCI Plaza.

Classes you can take at New Citizens

At that point I was ready to try to do something with my hair. Somebody told me there were classes organized for new Second Life citizens, so I went to have a look at the program. Unfortunately there was no class named “dye your hair pink in less than 30 minutes”, so I postponed that piece of fun to the next session.

Instead, I played around a bit with the camera controls (I desperately wanted to see what my face looked like) and tried to take a snapshot or two. Managed to zoom out! Well, I still have a lot of learning to do. Zoom in and out works now that I’ve understood I can use the MacBook trackpad scrolling technique (go up or down the trackpad with two fingers, and it scrolls/zooms). As for detaching the camera from right behind my avatar and moving it around and up and down… well, sometimes I manage, sometimes I don’t. It’s a bit hit-and-miss — again, not something I’m used to on a computer. I’m aware that for many people, normal computer use is just as confusing as Second Life is for me now. It’s an interesting experience for me.

As I’m writing this, I’m trying to remember when I did what. I’ve been on Second Life three times (last night, this morning, tonight). I’m honestly not certain which part of the story I’m telling you was last night, and which part was this morning. My memories are a bit confused and jumbled up.

Right, I went to look at the time I took the various screenshots I have: this morning, I chatted quite a bit with a bunch of people who were trying to build a Griefball.

Meet the Griefball!

A Griefball? Well, as one put it, mainly a statement — but the idea was also that this ball would then be programmed to get rid of griefers. Griefers are the Second Life equivalent to trolls. We had one this morning, by the way: he was dancing all over the place and making noises and stuff. Pretty irritating. I “muted” him (the equivalent of “ignore”) and then I think somebody else filed an abuse report on him. How do you mute somebody? Not too hard: Cmd-click on that person’s avatar, and click “Mute” in the menu that appears.

This morning, I also decided to do something about my hair. After a few random clicks in my inventory (I saw I had different kinds of hair in there) I finally landed in the hair style editing menu. Holy cow! There are **tons** of settings. You can literally spend *hours* doing your hair in Second Life.

Spend hours doing your hair

I also managed to make it pink (my initial goal). The magic slider for that is “rainbow colour” (don’t ask).

Tonight, I:

– grew a pink tiger-tail (not quite true, somebody gave it to me)
– swapped my red shirt (arghl, not nice with pink hair) for a green one (which I modified myself!)
– went for a stroll in the park by sunset
– got stuck in a mountain (no photos of that, I was too busy trying to get out).

Want pictures? Clicky below:

Stephanie Spicoli New green shirt Sunset

Overall, for the moment, I’ve met quite a few nice helpful people. What makes Second Life exciting is also what makes it really difficult to get into: it’s complex. I’m spending a lot of time learning stuff which isn’t really that interesting in itself for me (I have no ambition to become a digital hairstylist) but which is needed for what’s coming next. Feeling comfortable with your inventory, moving the camera about, doing things with objects… there are all basic skills and I’m not comfortable with them yet. But if you want a world where people can be digital artists, build businesses, organise live music performances or conferences, you need that level of complexity to allow users to be creative.

As one of the people who helped me out this morning said: “there’s not a lot of hand-holding”. Inside Second Life, of course, there are classes and coaching, but in my opinion the interface is complicated enough that it’ll get in the way from getting help in-world for many people.

I’m certain there is (will soon be) a market for introduction classes to Second Life… in First Life.

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LIFT'06 Photographs [en]

[fr] Les photos de LIFT'06 aujourd'hui sont en train d'être mises en ligne à  vitesse tout petit v. Merci de votre patience.

You probably noticed I’ve been [uploading LIFT’06 photographs](http://www.flickr.com/photos/bunny/sets/72057594058518485/) to Flickr since yesterday. I took a whole bunch of really fun photos last night, but upload is slow as slug, so I don’t know when they’ll be up. Thanks for your patience!

Cosy Geeking
Robert and Anina geeking away

Almost all of my photos are CC-licensed. Feel free to use them on your blogs if you’re speaking about the conference — a mugshot or two does tend to liven-up text-only conference notes.

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Fête nationale suisse [fr]

Une jolie photo du bûcher du 1er août.

[en] August 1st is our national day. I took many pictures of the bonfire.

This isn't a time of writing for me, but I'm putting lots of photographs online.

A Tourist in India [en]

Some thoughts about being a tourist in India, and how I hate being a tourist.

– ‘Your country?’ Asks the man on the bus.
– ‘Switzerland.’
– ‘Svizerrland!? Ooh. Why you are not staying there?’
– ‘I am staying there. I came on holiday to visit some friends. I used to live in Pune.’
– ‘Ooh, so you are just tourist, then!’
– ‘Well, er…’

That was a week or two back, on the overcrowded bus which was finally taking me down to E-Square to see Ek Haseena Thi. I’ve always hated being associated with ‘tourists’, in India or elsewhere.

Tourists come to see, not to share. They watch the world outside from cozy A/C boxes. They are impolite, they don’t know how to dress or behave, they can’t eat the food or find their way around without a map. They see what they are meant to see, stay in places specially designed for them, and buy things in shops that nobody else would buy. They have money, lots of it.

In some ways, I have to admit that I am indeed a tourist. I take lots of photographs. I buy loads of stuff in shops to bring back to Switzerland for my enjoyment and that of others. I don’t really keep an eye on what I spend, I eat in nice places, I go to the cinema as often as I like.

But on the other hand, I much prefer trying to share the life of ‘normal’ people or just walk around the town I’m staying in, rather than sleep in expensive places and do the things that only the tourists do.

I like people. I do my best not to turn them into objects. I like everyday life. I like soaking in the atmosphere of a place or time.

I’m very suspicious of other foreigners I come upon in India. I kind of assume that they are not like me, more the ‘hippy-dippy’ type, as Aleika and I used to call them. Some sort of anti-tourist snobism, in a way.

Of course, I’m wrong. Lots of foreigners in India are certainly nice people. I almost walked off for ever after saying hello to Aleika, mistakenly assuming she would be ‘at the ashram’. Quite a few of my friends from Switzerland or elsewhere have been to India, so they would therefore certainly have been ‘foreigners nice to know’ had I met them in India.

Ironically, I find myself looking at other foreigners with as much curiosity and maybe more questions as many Indians who see me walk by. Why are they here? What brought them to India? What are they looking for? How long are they staying? Do they ‘fit in’ or not in their home culture? What is their life like here?

The result is that I’ve had very little contact with other foreigners in India, and I’m aware that I’m probably passing by people who would be interesting to know. I keep myself ‘aside’, comfortably settled on a jute bag full of preconceptions and marked ‘Fab India, Pune’.

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