Archive

Posts Tagged ‘Social Media’
20 Oct

What’s in a name? Backstories to some personal brands

Comments off

NOTE: Originally ran on Online Journalism Review: http://www.ojr.org/ojr/people/webjournalist/201010/1897/

By now we’ve all heard that the journalism game has changed and we need to take our careers into our own hands: get a domain, embrace social media and start managing your brand.

But to start, it all begins with one of the most common questions I routinely get. What the heck do I call myself? What’s the name of my brand?

For some lucky folks, their name is unique enough that they are able to secure it as their domain, Twitter handle and more. But for the rest of us, we have to be a bit more creative and invent a new digital identity.

Many times these personal brands are inspired from the most odd places. I know someone whose handle was from Spaceball’s “gone plaid” scene.

Here is a small, somewhat random, collection of personal brands and their backstories.

Digidave // David Cohn
David CohnIt was (from) my college freshman dorm roommate … This was in 2000 and he was much more technically savvy than me. Granted – at the time this just meant he was on AIM all the time and used his computer as an alarm clock but still.

I, on the other hand, was going through my hippie phase and believed that we needed to break away from computers man and just… ya know – be free man.

He kept telling me to embrace the digital-dave. That became Digidave.

The joke name then lay dormant until I became a tech-writer (the irony) and fully had embraced the digital-dave. After I chose it as my handle on Digg in 2004 – it stuck.

writepudding // Liana Aghajanian
Liana Aghajanian“writepudding” is meant to be a play on the delicious treat, “ricepudding.” It’s rather silly really. When I first started blogging around five years ago, I wanted a name that stood out. I thought to myself, “I really love rice pudding and I obviously love to write,” so I just combined the two and came up with writepudding. It sounds more like an inside joke than I’d like it to, but it feels comfortable and it’s just stuck with me through the years.

Darthcheeta // David Andrew Johnson
David Andrew JohnsonI was given the nickname “cheetah” long ago and have always used variants of it as my usernames, gamertags and chat handles for IRC, ICQ, and AIM. It is not after the cool fast cat, though, but the ape in the Tarzan movies – I’m Cheetah the Web Monkey.

In true early online nerdiness, the really skilled web designers, producers and developers in Scripps came to be known as The Jedi since our knowledge of the web “force” was so strong – coders and scripters were very rare in journalism in the 90s.

So of course, when I got promoted out of local properties and went to DC in 2000, the “jedi” around the company said I had crossed to the dark side – and one registered the AIM screen name “darthcheeta” under my new email address as a going away gag. (Not enough characters for the last h). It stuck and I’ve used it for everything since. …

mediatwit // Mark Glaser
 Mark GlaserI think when I first joined Twitter I figured it was another fly by night social networking tool. I had very mixed feelings about devoting a week of coverage on MediaShift to Twitter in 2007. Anyhow I picked mediatwit because it sounded funny and irreverent. I don’t regret it. I plan to change the name of my podcast to The Mediatwits to build on the name.

What I do regret is not getting the feed @MediaShift which was taken by a squatter/imitator. I do have PBSMediaShift, though.

superjaberwocky // Michael Becker
 Michael BeckerThe name superjaberwocky is my regular online handle, or at least it has been since I started regularly using the Internet back in 1998. I was in high school then, and I attended a summer course at Montana State University where they put us all into a computer lab and told us to sign up for Hotmail accounts, basically saying that it would be good for us to have e-mail accounts set up because they’d be useful in the future or some such nonsense as that.

I was sitting in the lab trying to come up with a username for the then pre-Microsoft Hotmail when I hit upon a word from my childhood memories, “superjabberwocky.” Back when I was a little kid, I would go to the house of a neighborhood girl who was my babysitter. Her brother, older than me, would play board games with me, like chess. Occasionally, he would declare “superjabberwocky,” which meant that he won, no questions asked. (Usually, he wiped the board of all pieces after declaring this.)

I entered the name into the Hotmail signup form and was told that Hotmail usernames were limited to 15 characters. Rather than think up a new name, I dropped one of the B’s, and the name “superjaberwocky” was born.

I had no idea what the jabberwock was until much later. I kept using the name at various e-mail services and online accounts. I even signed up for services I never intended to use, just to make sure I had my username of choice in case that service hit big or in case someone decided that they wanted to steal my online handle. (No one ever has.)

Nowadays, I try to get on board with new Web services early and try to get just my last name at those services, “becker,” as a username. I feel like that will better reflect on me professionally in the future. Still, when all else fails, it’s a pretty safe bet that nobody else is “superjaberwocky.”

littlegirlBIGVOICE // Bethany Waggoner
 Bethany WaggonerSo the name Little Girl Big Voice comes from the fact that I’m not exactly massive LOL, but can still project my voice into a room like nobody’s business. I was that kid in class being told to please use her “inside voice” all the time. Even on the playground. Plus I had opinions. Ask anyone who knows me, I usually have no shortage of things to say about what I think is whack or super dank in the world. So It started as the name of my blog, where I wrote columnesque posts about current events, and then just sort of became the perfect representation of who I am.

ohmykevin // Kevin Cobb
 Kevin CobbWhen I first thought about branding myself online, I knew I wanted the same username for multiple accounts, including a url. Many clever variations of my full name were already being used, so I had to come up with something that was both unique and available.

Around the time of my username search, I became an ordained minister through Universal Life Church. My friends started to jokingly say “OMK!”, short for “OH MY KEVIN!” — and it just stuck with me.

Journerdism // Will Sullivan
Will SullivanI have a pretty common name. First, a fairly common last name in Sullivan and a first name that can be interpreted as a proper name, as well as a verb and a noun. So anytime someone asks a question on the web such as, “Will Sullivan …do so and so…?” it flags alerts I have tracking my name. People asking questions about Blogger/columnist Andrew Sullivan flag me all the time.

There’s a lot of Will Sullivan’s around the world. In fact, at Northwestern (where I studied for my masters degree) another Will Sullivan entered the school the semester after me, which made it lots of fun and still to this day leads to confusion among our classmates, professors and professional associates. He’s a great guy though, so it’s not bad to have my name associated with him.

There’s another Will Sullivan who’s a fictional Boston attorney in some mystery novel that I kept seeing alerts for. There’s an Australian rugby player, a Georgia football player, a photographer, an aspiring rapper, and another journalist working at the New Orleans Times-Picayune. I actually have a Twitter list tracking some of them that I check out once in a while to make sure no one has scorned their psychotic lover or robbed a bank so I can get a heads up if I need to go on the lamb: http://twitter.com/Journerdism/the-web-of-will-sullivans

So I basically came to the conclusion that I needed to find some sort of personal brand name, like Madonna or Grand Master Flash, to break out and prevent confusion. I figured I’d never beat out all these other Will Sullivan’s treading on my name — especially in search results — so I started brainstorming names. I’ve been a chronic nerd all my life and involved in journalism since puberty, so mashing the two words together seemed to work into Journerdism.

The ironic thing is over time I’ve built up enough name recognition as Will Sullivan (along with Journerdism) that I have taken the lead for Will Sullivan in search results too.

10,000 Words // Mark S. Luckie
Mark S. Luckie10,000 Words wasn’t my first choice for a blog/Twitter name. I actually wanted to use Prometheus after the legendary Greek man who stole fire from the god and brought it to the people. But that was a little much to explain and plus the domain wasn’t available. So after a little bit of brainstorming, I came up with the name “10,000 Words” which derives from the phrase “a picture is worth a thousand words.” It became 10000words.net because the .com domain was already taken by a Japanese site. And the rest is history.

 

Allow me to re-introduce myself. In my digital life, I go by:

WebJournalist // est. August 9, 2006
I notice that the .org of it and webjournalism was available. I purchased the domains thinking that one day I’d launch a tool/tips site. A year or so later, I got the Twitter handle and have been trying to establish that as my brand. It wasn’t until I started working at USC that I had a little more time to share my thoughts on Web Journalism. While I’ve gotten compliments on my handle/brand, I think it’s actually shortsighted. It’s the Web now, but what is next?

ElProfe // est. June 26, 2010
This is a recent brand I created just a few months ago specifically for my students. Profe. is Spanish slang for professor. I thought it was representative of how I carry myself in my new role in academia… experimenting with Journalism, Technology and Academia.

iSoar // est. April 18, 1999
My first domain name was based on a logo I created when I was a kid and an obviously lame play on words. I freelance web design, and while an “eye sore” is perhaps the opposite image a designer wants to invoke, I couldn’t help but fall in love with it.

Whatever you chose, whatever inspired that decision, make sure you embrace it and start managing your brand. Put yourself out there and share your work with the world.

05 Oct

Two new Social Media emerging tools — possibly useful in Web journalism

Comments off

NOTE: Originally ran on Online Journalism Review: http://www.ojr.org/ojr/people/webjournalist/201010/1891/

Think about it, two or three years ago most people had never heard of Facebook. Tweets were still mainly owned by birds, not limited to 140 characters. FourSquare was some vague game from elementary school.

In general, most people had written social media off as some sort of high school fad.

Well, you should know by now, Web-based Social Media is not a fad.

If you still doubt this, temporarily remove your head from the sand and go talk to one of the more than half a billion people that spend hours and hours sharing news, photos or running a virtual farm. (For the record, I am not a fan of FarmVille.)

In its constant evolution, though, technology routinely leapfrogs past itself as it innovates and disrupts the status quo.

In other words, you ain’t seen nothing yet.

What’s next? It’s geolocation paired up with augmented reality, in my opinion.

Those creating these new tools typically don’t have journalism as a possible application in mind. But I, an admitted tech/journo/mad scientist geek, can’t help but apply the journalism prism to some of the latest tools and technology.

So, in that vein, here are two emerging tools I’ve came across that I think are worth keeping an eye on. They may not be perfect now, but I encourage you to experiment with these and see if there is a journalistic application here.

NOTE: I recently posted my Web Journalism’s rules of tech engagement, so feel free to refer to them and keep them in mind as you read. All of them apply, especially #1 and #5.

Whrrl
This new social media site may sound similar to its forefathers, but it has one clear difference (that I think they underplay). It’s not about you, it’s about community… and it’s about moments.

On Twitter or FourSquare, you are telling the world where you are… in Whrrl, you are “creating a story.” Your posted photos and notes from your check-in are auto-grouped with others and, potentially, are telling the story of a moment collectively.

Example: We’re celebrating your birthday at a bar. We capture the moment by sharing pictures, videos, comments, etc. Those not attending could virtually experience the moment and add to the conversation.

Neat… but where’s the journalism?

Change the previous example from “birthday” to, say, “election.” Reporters and citizens are posting their experiences — comments, photos, videos, etc. — at polling sites, leaving a virtual marker filled with content for others to add or re-live. This would also work for a sporting event, a protest/rally or any news event where people gather in one location.

Collectively, we can capture the moment in real-time with rich multimedia. This doesn’t replace the article or video piece, but can really enhance them.

stickybits
This tool launched earlier this year at SXSW and is referred to as digital graffiti. Now, how to explain this… um, think of a digital bulletin board or wall where anyone could post anything.

Like a Facebook wall? Sort of.

Instead of the wall living in your computer, it is at an actual, physical space… because the information is embedded onto a sticker with a barcode. Scan it with your smart phone and read or leave messages in multiple media.

While finding these stickers is a cute game, they’ve recently graduated to using standard barcodes, which are on millions of products.



You can get barcodes for free and even order them in sticker form if you want.

Where’s the journalism here? Well, my brain is still thinking of different applications, but what immediately stands out here is the distribution.

Imagine going to a polling place where people can scan a sticker to read or leave messages. The only way to get that unique experience from that polling place is to be at that location.

From news to reviews, we could possibly embed our stories on anything and anywhere. And, more importantly, we can get user engagement. We’re not talking about from behind a computer, we’re talking about out in real life.

Take some time and play, er experiment, with these new emerging types of technology. Get in the habit of exploring this stuff… and share your experiences.

21 Sep

Real-time Web + Journalism = Real-time reporting

Comments off

NOTE: Originally ran on Online Journalism Review: http://www.ojr.org/ojr/people/webjournalist/201009/1887/

The next phase of the Internet affecting journalism — for better or worse — is well underway.

We started out with Web sites, then blogs, then the interactivity of Web 2.0. Now, we are in the era of the real-time Web.

Which, for us in journalism, means real-time reporting.

This next phase has the power to improve and advance our journalism, but also puts our core journalistic values to the test.

Twitter’s original question, “What are you doing?” has evolved to “What’s happening?” Social Media has made telling people where you are, what you think, what you see, a common expression on the Web — again, for better or worse.

Yes, Social Media is routinely filled with TMI and, quite frankly, unless information. But it also has given the average person the ability to document and share newsworthy and historical events the moment they happen are happening.

Just look at the latest example from a few weeks ago: A gunman walked in the Discovery Channel headquarters holding people hostage.

The real-time Web went to work with first-hand witnesses.

DaAnGrYASiAN was one of the first tweets from scene

I was in my office, across the country when the news began to break. For those that know me and have attended my workshops, you’ve heard me go on about harnessing the power of social media.

Well, here was a perfect example. So, I tweeted two tips:

WebJournalist's tip to D.C. reporters

WebJournalist's second tip to D.C. reporters

Searching Twitter, I was able to find people sending updates from the Discovery Channel’s zip code (Here are some highlights that I found). Using FourSquare, I was able to find someone who had “checked in” to the building before the incident.

Mikefa123 checked into the location hours before the standoff

Possible witnesses, potential sources.

The power of the real-time Web was in full swing… and so was its potential danger: People with best intentions can give out incorrect information.

techsavvymama retweets a photo from the scene circulating the Web.

DaAnGrYASiAN wrongfully thought to be the gunman

Now, don’t become all traditionalists on me and dismiss this new phase by saying that risk of misinformation is way to high. Let’s be honest here, the concept of possible bad information has been around long before Twitter… and even before the Web.

Remember that saying, “if your mom says she loves you, check it out.” Well, if your mom tweets she loves you, check it out.

These are not facts. These are tips. These are potential sources. These are places you as a journalist bring your core values — news judgment, ethics, accuracy, transparency — to vet information to make sure you have accurate information.

But mistakes will happen — in both paper and pixels.

That’s why our core values are so important. They should constantly guide us through any story, under any deadline.

In the real-time Web speed is highly valued. But responsibility and credibility outweighs that. Be known for getting it right first, not for getting it first and wrong.

This is where being a “professional,” whatever that means, matters. But remember, the real-time Web also can help. Here’s that photo that @techsavvymama retweeted, along with an explanation from a former Discovery Channel employee why the person in the photo likely is not the gunman.

YFrog pic of someone with gun

Former Discovery employee explain why it probably isn't the gunman

NOTE: @techsavvymama messaged me immediately after I published this post to say that she believes the garden is, in fact, open to the public.

For the record, real-time reporting is more than just using social media.

A reporter can be sending out images or live video (UStream, Qik, Twitcasting, etc.) from their cell phones. A photographer or reporter could be automatically uploading images from their camera using technology like the Eye-Fi.

It’s journalism without a safety net… it’s hyperlocal AND global journalism… it’s working under the deadline of now, 15 minutes from now and 15 minutes ago.

The journalism game has changed — again. And this won’t be the last time. While technology evolves, what is constant and never-changing are our core journalistic values.

Hold them close as you harness the power of real-time reporting.

20 Sep

Real-time tweets from Discovery Channel hostage situation

Comments off

On Sept. 1, 2010, James J. Lee walked into One Discovery Place armed with pistols and explosives. Here is a sample of tweets sent from the zip code of The Discovery Channel’s headquarters in D.C. These sample messages are collected from Twitter Search and listed in chronological order with a PDT *timestamp.

These are typical citizens that dabble in Twitter. The majority had less than 100 followers. For examples, one user has 46 followers and had only had 47 tweets at the time. These folks are not social media gurus… they are regular, real folks.

Mikefa123 checked into the location hours before the standoff

DaAnGrYASiAN was one of the first tweets form scene

techsavvymama retweets a photo from the scene circulating the Web.

DaAnGrYASiAN wrongfully thought to be the gunman



* I noticed that the timestamp varied between the Chrome and FireFox browsers. These screen shots were taken with FireFox.

09 Jul

How to routinely crowdsource – easily

Comments off

For the last few months I’ve been giving a presentation on How to Harness the Power of Social Media or Advance Social Media Reporting or what I called (and still need to refine) Real-Time Reporting.

In the presentation, I introduce how social media tools like Twitter, FourSquare and even YourOpenBook.org can help improve our reporting.

I know I am guilty of it at times, but I hate when people vaguely talk about how great new tools are but don’t give concrete examples… so for this particular session I try to outline actual steps/scenarios on how to actually use these things in real life.

During #wjchat episode 22, I was asked how do you actually crowdsource… I rattled off five steps that capture what I tell folks during my presentation.

In cased you missed those tweets, here they are… slightly longer than 140:

Step 1:

The moment you know you are going to an assignment/event/location, announce it. Tell people you are covering the event and ask who is attending. The sooner, the better… and do it multiple times… without looking like a crazy spammer.

Step 2:

When you arrive to the scene, tweet that you are there… again, ask who is there too. The point is to find sources! Also, get people to join your reporting… ask for tips, suggestions and possible questions.

Step 3:

Give updates from the scene… not only text, but send out images and videos when applicable. Again, do a call out for tips, suggestions and questions. You are giving people direct access and getting them an opportunity to get involved.

Step 4:

When you are done, tell people when they can expect to see or read your completed, “official” piece. And, if you got responses, thank people for their help.

Step 5:

After piece runs, ask for feedback, comments, thoughts and tips. Engage with your community before, during and after these acts of journalism… be genuine and social in social media!

 

Additional tips:

Make sure you use hashtags throughout the process! Either use the established one or create a logical one the community would use.

You may or may not get responses, but doing this doesn’t cost you ANYTHING. Remember, it takes less than a minute per tweet!

If you get responses, don’t feel forced to use them, but be grateful you have people engaged enough that they want to HELP you. Make sure you response and thank them. I have a few examples of how crowd sourcing has helped reporters do simple, routine stories. Makes your job EASIER! And makes you more relevant and valuable to the community… which routinely translates to job security. (Well, it should.)

Everyone knows that “If your mom says she loves you, check it out.” That old journalism saying applies to tweets, as well as your mom. Just because someone tweets that they are there or gives you a juicy tidbit of info, it does not mean that it is fact. Check it out! What do we call this… reporting! Do some of that. If you get lazy, you get burned. More importantly, credibility is hard to build, but easy to lose.

And remember, these tweets/communications took only moments… think about it. Fifteen minutes can make all the difference.

Here’s a PDF of my Social Network Reporting presentation.

 

19 May

Youropenbook.org and Facebook’s flawed privacy settings can help your reporting

Comments off

Get past the awkward and dark predetermined searches like “I hate my boss,” “I lost my virginity” and “I’m not a racist but” … and look at what youropenbook.org presents to us as journalists.

While the 105 million+ people on Twitter know their tweets are default set to public, they are still a fraction of Facebook’s 400 million+ users that post T.M.I. they’d only share with their closest 300 friends.

Facebook gives you a false sense of private… but by now you should know better.

The walls around the Facebook garden have crumbled because of the company’s seriously flawed privacy settings.

And while as a user you should be freaked out and proactive about your personal settings (and more conscious of what you are posting!), as a journalist this is presents an incredible, unfiltered opportunity to access your community on a diversity of topics.

Hold your nose and thank youropenbook.org for making it easier to access your the community on Facebook – for better or worse.

You can now quickly query what’s on the mind of the millions of users that are sharing their raw opinions about any topic… sadly, they usually think it’s “private,” often sharing their opinions with their social guard down.

Here’s a quick search on the some newsy topics.

Arlen Specter

Bangkok, Thailand

Illegal immigrants

Even boring old healthcare.

Go to the site and do a search on something related to your beat or community. Who knows how long this tool will actually last (Facebook has sued before).

But while this is still around, look passed the initial shallowness of the tool and look at the possibilities that help you improve your journalism.

Oh, and do yourself a favor and check your privacy settings on Facebook… come to think of it, just check your privacy at the door before you log onto the Web. It’s all public… whether you like it or not.

π