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May 2011

Why do you use social media? Kristin Alford

My guest post series “Why do you use social media?” is powering ahead, this week with Kristin Alford. Kristin is a futurist, technologist, communicator at Bridge8 and organiser of TEDxAdelaide.

I really enjoyed listening to Kristin’s address to Media140 recently, where her topic was “Digital dysphorias“.  As I witnessed Kristin bringing an iPad to a recent engagement party, I trust her experience in this regard. Enjoy!

1.    What is your favourite social media platform – and why?

Twitter. Because I use it is so many different ways. I follow lists of people from science, futures, Adelaide, media and politics and the arts so I get a feel for what’s going on in the world. I participate and co-organise chats like #onsci for science communicators and #futrchat for international futurists on topics of interest. I live tweet conferences as a form of note-taking and sharing. I get my news, recommended videos (like the latest TED one) and opinion articles through Twitter. And I socialise through #socadl and chatting with friends.

2.    What made you begin using social media?

@fang! I was using Facebook, and have been blogging since 2007. But I joined Twitter on the urging of @fang after a discussion on open science and in advance of the Science Online conference in London. It wasn’t hard to see how it could enhance my understanding of the world and expand the ideas we were exploring in blogging.

Kristin Alford
Kristin Alford

3.    What’s the question you’re asked most about Twitter?

1.    “Isn’t it just for talking about breakfast?” What’s wrong with breakfast? I like how Twitter can be so many things from the trivial statements of breakfast to breaking news. And how the diversity of its conversation oil social capital.
2.    “But don’t you find it distracting or time-consuming?” Yes. Yes I do. On many occasions. But occasionally I get the balance of my use right. And the benefits are worth it!

4.    Do you have a “plan” for your personal use of social media?

I decided to present my whole self online rather than focus only on certain parts of my identity. It’ part of a general philosophy in bring my whole self to work and being open and transparent in the way I work and in what I believe. I reflect my broad range of interests as a futurist, technologist, parent and in the context of where and how I live. That said I am conscious of the way I talk about my friends and family and try to preserve their privacy. I’m careful about not putting my own safety at risk. And I rarely criticise others in a demeaning way. But I hope that goes for offline as well.

5.    What do you gain from using social media?

Sometimes the click click click can be mind-numbing and at other times it provides space for reflection and expansion. Overall I’d say I’ve gained the three C’s: connection, collaboration and community. I’ve made close friends through social media and built working relationships. We’ve organised TEDxAdelaide and developed projects and interests with others that we might not have connected with otherwise. And there’s both online and offline communities like co-working spaces that have come directly from being on Twitter and aware of what’s happening in the community.

Now it’s your turn to contribute: why do you use social media?

For the plonkers who don’t get planking

As you grow older and morph into a being known as an “adult” you lose a lot of your childlike tendencies and sense of fun.

You’re expected to be polite, responsible, well behaved, pay your bills and show up at places on time. People expect you to be clean and to, er, smell nice.

Planking before Moonlight Cinema movie comes on
Planking before Moonlight Cinema movie comes on

If you have kids some childlike fun might creep back into your life. You run around the playground, you rediscover the thrill of hide and seek, you watch asinine morning cartoons. But you’re still the adult in the relationship, and you get to call when it’s time for everyone to brush their teeth and go to bed.

That’s why I liked planking.

Planking was an opportunity to be silly. Just plain old silly. To lie on your face in a public place, doing no harm to anyone else, but getting a rush because you’re doing something unexpected that just makes you (and others) laugh.

Planking can be innocuous fun and unites both the plankee and the photographer, because what they’re doing is so Monty Pythonesque and makes absolutely no sense. It’s a break from the restrictive adult world.

Tom Williamson took a photo of me planking at the lawn Moonlight Cinemas and I took a photo of him planking on the nearby bin; we had a great time doing it. Samantha Cain   planked on a table at the Governor Hindmarsh in front of a bemused man who looked vaguely like a bikie. Kate Potter planked on a pool table at an engagement party. Anthony Coles  showed me the planking way (and Paul Kitching  showed him), when he planked in the so-called corporate bar at the Big Day Out. All of these planks inspired laughter amongst us and we still look back at them with a smile.

The Wolfman’s plank when he celebrated a score was one of the most original sporting celebrations in a long time. I loved it.

But of course, like almost anything that humans do, planking was taken to the extreme. Some plankers started doing planks in precarious places and now our bit of fun is questioned by cynics, wowsers and people who don’t have a funny bone in their body.

Drinking can be taken to dangerous extremes. So is driving. Heck, even eating is taken to life threatening extremes these days.

For those of you who enjoy foolish planks, where you’re not balancing several storeys up in the air, I say keep on planking. Just #PlankSafe.

Why do you use social media? Tim Horton

Phew! This is now the fourth in this series, where I ask friends to share their social media experiences. Today, Tim Horton, the South Australian Commissioner for Integrated Design.

Tim Horton
Tim Horton

Check out the IDSC website for what this role means – but be sure to check the FlickR feed too. Tim often shares cityscape images.

  1. What is your favourite social media platform – and why? Twitter for keeping a watching brief on emerging global trends, programs and projects across the fields of design, planning and development. Facebook as a way of keeping a handle on a large extended family spread across the globe. Why? The ‘friend request’ permissions offered by Facebook supports a more deliberate strategy for crafting friends and setting up secure groups for more discrete sharing.
  2. What made you begin using social media? Watching an experimental boundary-riding colleague shift from blogging on his site www.supercolossal.ch to an expanded platform, including Twitter and Facebook.  While the commitment to a blog site seemed onerous, Twitter seemed to require no long term commitment. 18 months later it’s become second nature.
  3. What’s the question you’re asked most about Twitter? “How do you get the time?”
  4. Do you have a “plan” for your personal use of social media? No formal plan, but my ‘Twitter self’ is broadly professional; and rarely share personal/family experience. A general aim to share the breadth of the work the Commission on a day to day basis.
  5. What do you gain from using social media? A constant stream of local and global emerging initiatives in design, architecture & built environment policy, including experiences from cities, universities and research centres, and design practices. Related interests in science & innovation, information technology, environmental science, social science and social innovation. And intriguing personalities that feed, provoke and sustain an active and restless mind.

The 13 stages of #FF (a Friday the 13th special)

According to a story on Mashable in 2009 , Follow Friday on Twitter was initiated by a tweeter called @micah

(If you’re not on Twitter,  a quick explanation. On Fridays, tweeters may choose to take part in the tradition of Follow Friday - on Friday the 13th‘recommending’ a few of their favourite tweet pals, by circulating their names along with an #FF to indicate “follow Friday”).

I don’t want to join the chorus of blogs and tweets analysing whether #FF is useful or spammy. In this post – on Friday the 13th – I’m reflecting on my evolving opinion of #FF and want to know whether other tweeters have had a similar experience.

The 13 stages of #FollowFriday:

  1. When you’re a Twitter newbie, you notice a flood of tweets with #FF in them. You have no idea what #FF means. You ask. You don’t participate – just yet.
  2. One Friday, you decide to do an #FF. You tweet your favourite tweeters and hope you haven’t missed or offended anyone.
  3. You begin to receive #FF recommendations from others. You grin. The higher profile the person who #FF’d you, the more likely you are to be excited.
  4. You become dedicated to #FF. Religiously, you send some every week. You may send a few; you may receive a few. If you don’t receive an #FF, you feel down. You may eat a cookie.
  5. You thank everyone who gave you and #FF and you give them an #FF. It becomes an uninspiring Friday morning chore, second in line to checking your email.
  6. You begin to tire of #FF. The tweet pals who #FF’d you last week are giving #FF to others this week – and they left you out.
  7.  You begin to realise lots of people don’t read #FF tweets.
  8. You roll your eyes every Friday. #FF just makes your tweetstream look ugly.
  9. You ignore #FF for a few weeks or months.
  10. You tweet that you think #FF sucks, it doesn’t mean anything, it’s only friends supporting friends, bots supporting bots … and you’re not taking part in this immature popularity contest anymore.
  11. Sometimes you’re curious and you  read the #FFs sent out by your peers. Just to see who they’re “hanging with”.
  12. You notice that some people only #FF one or two others. And they provide reasons why. You start to do the same. It’s like that scene in Bridget Jones’s Diary “Introduce people with thoughtful comments”.
  13. You decide to produce high quality, occasional #FFs. Consider them gems of approval. You don’t do it every week.

What stages have I missed? What’s your experience with Follow Friday?

Why do you use social media? Mikyla Gilbert

My third guest in this series is Mikyla Gilbert, the spunky and energetic Publishing Editor of Adelaide Hills Magazine.

1.       What is your favourite social media platform – and why?
Tough question. I find following conversations on Facebook much more interesting, but have formed stronger and more meaningful relationships on Twitter.

2. What made you begin using social media?
I had buried my head in the sand for far too long. Then went to a social media seminar run by Publisher’s Australia where the guest speaker, Iggy Pintado questioned me as to why my publication and myself was not using social media. “Because I don’t know how and don’t have the time,” I said. Right there and then he signed me up for twitter and got me going – I guess you could say I got a swift kick up the butt.

Mikyla Gilbert, Adelaide Hills Magazine
Mikyla Gilbert, Adelaide Hills Magazine

3.       What’s the question you’re asked most about Twitter? How much time does it take in your day to manage your Twitter?

4.       Do you have a “plan” for your personal use of social media?
I have several Twitter accounts and Facebook pages and they all have a slightly different style and focus due to the nature of the brand or personal brand. The only important thing to remember is to make sure I use the right handle for the right comment!

5.       What do you gain from using social media?
For my publication, Adelaide Hills Magazine, I gain the exciting opportunity to communicate with our readers on a daily basis, instead of just four times a year. I also gain a lot of information when researching a various topic and can find ‘experts’ or ‘people in the know’ quite quickly.

Coming soon: Integrated Design Commissioner Tim Horton, plus the prolific tweeter we know as Catsman09!

Why do you use social media? Stephen Yarwood

This is the second in a series of blogs, where I’m asking some Twitter friends to share their social media experiences. This week, a very interesting insight into the challenges of being a Lord Mayor who tweets! Please read on for more from Stephen Yarwood.

1.      What is your favourite social media platform – and why?

Blogging – I enjoy creative writing.  I get to tell a story and explain myself far more effectively.  Twitter and Facebook are very difficult for me to communicate complex issues (cities are full of intricate topics) and people often ask me questions with complex answers via twitter and that is frustrating.

2.      What made you begin using social media?

Always been a tech head – love my digital dimension!  Also whilst being an outgoing person I like down time/privacy so it’s a good way of connecting to friends (previously) and city stakeholders (moreso these days) without always having to be “out there” all the time.  Especially with a family that I want to invest time in and a city to run!

I’m also an information junkie and get a great deal of quality information about cities, events, ideas and opportunities this way.  I think of social media as an up to date stream of consciousness that I can plug into to remain relevant in a constantly changing world with a new type of operating system.

Stephen Yarwood
Adelaide Lord Mayor Stephen Yarwood

3.      What’s the question you’re asked most about Twitter?  Why bother?

4.      Do you have a “plan” for your personal use of social media?

Yes, but it is always evolving as the technology changes and as my personal circumstances change.  Being a Lord Mayor using social media is fun and rewarding but also a real challenge.  I often feel obligated to read links, respond to people and chase up minor information and this is a real issue when I am very time poor and have a massive number of civic and administrative obligations.  I often feel like a customer service officer when I should be focusing on City Strategy, key stakeholder relationships, a $200 million budget and $1 million worth of corporation assetts.  Everyone wants to be heard and responded to but would be worried if that is what I did all day when my job is to run the city!

My plan is to learn about social media, adapt to it and to connect to as many people as possible in a meaningful way. I want to use it to promote appropriate things – city events, ideas and values, what council is doing and what it is really like to be the Lord Mayor of Adelaide.

I also want to have fun, to remain “real” and assure people that I am still a typical guy that likes to enjoy life and is not always serious or, even worse, full of himself!

5.      What do you gain from using social media?

I can listen, learn, get feedback and connect to quality innovators and communicators that care about Adelaide and its future.  I have made some great friends (that I hardly see these days) and can drive change but getting grass roots support to help make Adelaide a world class city.

Thank you Stephen. Next post – Mikyla Gilbert, publishing editor of Adelaide Hills Magazine.

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