Archive

Posts Tagged ‘Twitter’
12 Feb

#wjchat: Five years of thank you

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instagram-wjchat

It’s crazy to think that every Wednesday for the past five years, the Web/Digital community has come together for 90 minutes on Twitter to talk about their craft, sharing their knowledge and experiences.

The most important thing I cherish about #wjchat is the community.

I am grateful to be a part of it.

The next important thing I cherish is the incredible team of volunteers who, over the years, make this weekly miracle happen, often from behind the scenes.

Your past and current team #wjchat crew members are:

(I hope to god I haven’t left anyone off the list… if so, please contact me!)

And, of course, there are countless people who have supported our weekly efforts along the way.

Thank you to each and every one of you. Here’s to five more years and temporary tattoos that are a bitch to take off!

Note: You can read about the making of #wjchat here: http://blog.webjournalist.org/2010/02/27/the-birth-of-wjchat/

24 Mar

Twitter bot vs misinformation = @accuracybot

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I made this icon by hand in less than two minutes, so I know it does not look cool. But you get the point.

I made this icon by hand in less than two minutes, so I know it does not look cool. But you get the point.

We’ve all seen them.

We all hate them.

But what if we created a “spam” Twitter bot for good?

Here’s my latest idea: What if we create a Twitter bot account that actively tweets at people who are spreading misinformation via Twitter?

We know that vaccines don’t cause autism, why not tweet a response (with a link) to someone making that claim?

We know that Obama was born in the US. Let’s tweet a response to someone tweeting about his birth certificate.

Let’s then move the bot – or bots – into breaking news situations where misinformation, including images, spread quickly on Twitter.

The way I see it, this isn’t too “hard” to do… but it requires a few things:

Step 1: Create an account
Step 2: Identify misinformation
Step 3: Define pattern of misinformation tweets
Step 4: Craft 140 character response to misinformation tweets
Step 5: Repeat steps 2-4 for the next set of misinformation.

Oh yeah, that whole coding a Twitter bot is perhaps the most important step.

If this works, I can for see news organizations creating accuracy bots of their own battling misinformation.

What do you think?

More importantly, are interested in helping create this?

I already did Step 1: @accuracybot

18 Aug

Comparing presidential candidates’ fake Twitter follower accounts

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There have been a couple stories recently about using fake Twitter followers as a way to show influence in politics.

Thanks to the Status People, there is a way to check to see how many alleged fake followers you or other Twitter users have: http://fakers.statuspeople.com

It’s not perfect, but it’s something.

It takes a “sample of your follower data. Up to 500 records depending on how ‘popular’ you are and assess them against a number of simple spam criteria.”

They also say that this tool is accurate for 10,000 followers or less. “If you’re very ‘popular’ the tool will still provide good insight but may better reflect your current follower activity rather than your whole follower base.”

You can read more about the Faker Followers tool here: http://fakers.statuspeople.com/Fakers/FindOutMore/

With those caveats in mind, here are screenshots of the presidential and vice-presidential candidates:

Presidential candidates:

Out of Obama‘s 18,653,463 followers, 7,088,316 are identified as fake accounts following. Out of the 868,277 that follow Romney, 173,655 are considered fake, by the site.

On the flip side, that’s 4,849,900 “good” accounts following Obama and 425,456 following Romney. We’ve leave out the inactive ones.

 

Vice-presidential candidates:

That’s 22,491 fake accounts among the 112,455 following Biden and 52,916 fake ones among the 203,523 accounts following Ryan.

The “good” accounts are 42,733 for Biden and 77,339 for Ryan.

Truthfully, there are no real conclusions to make here… just some numbers/stats to look over.

NOTE: I took the “test” and am proud to say that only 3 percent of my followers are fake.

12 Mar

My proof, my metrics, my ROI on Social Media: #WJCHAT

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It happens on occasion (okay, with this friend it happens a lot), but I battle with a friend over Social Media’s role in our lives and relationships.

I’m not a fan of the outsider, knee jerk reactions to Social Media that say we are getting dumber, we can’t focus and we are so lonely.

All those things may be happening, but it’s not because of Social Media… not solely anyway. These are, in fact, the same claims that have been preached about with every new development ranging from radio, TV and, I believe, even books.

So, I’m not a fan of those re-occurring, blame-the-newest-thing-for-our-bad-thing argument.

Nor am I a blinded super fan of Social Media… there’s crap out there (lots of it) and “gurus” making money by ripping people off.

I am, however, a fan of the true connections that have been made possible because of platforms like Twitter and Facebook. These platforms are just the latest evolutionary step from mail to telegram to telephone to Internet to e-mail, etc.

And, as you may have guessed, I am a SUPER fan of communities like #WJCHAT, that support and educate each other by harnessing these platforms.

The two-year anniversary of our little community was in February and, in my hopes to gets some attention to it, I asked a couple journalism sites to do a write up on us. To be honest, I didn’t really make a hard pitch.

Naturally, as good journos, the question led to why… but more importantly, what has #WJCHAT done? Where’s the proof?

I don’t have those metrics.

While we often talk about analytics, ROI and such, for me, I don’t really care about those when it comes to #WJCHAT.

All I care about is that people know that they are not alone in their struggle to find their place in journalism, that they are getting educated on how to improve journalism and that they are sharing their knowledge and experiences so we collectively “save” journalism.

My latest reminder of this was today’s ONA featured member piece on Tauhid Chappell.

I remember Chappell popping into the #WJCHAT stream and meeting him IRL at an ONA event. But I didn’t know that our little community played a role in his journalistic development… but it was enough that he felt compelled to mentioned #WJCHAT in his profile piece.

That is my proof. He is my metric.

Tonight I will be meeting “strangers” for the first time IRL at our now annual #WJCHAT meetup at SXSW.

I will be seeing old friends and making new ones (once we get over the awkward oh-yeah-I-know-you moment after we connect the avatar or handle to the face and name).

That is my proof. They are my metric.

Do you know that I have only met, maybe, half of the people who volunteer each week to run #WJCHAT. Never meet them outside of email, a collaborative document or Twitter chat.

These folks are my colleagues. They are my friends. They, too, are my proof… my metric.

Everyone in this diverse community is my argument proving that Social Media is an undeniably positive element in our modern lives.

And, my goal when Twitter life and real life merges later today, is to be present with this community of friends… and, on occasion, awkwardly look at my phone to see if I need to tweet out something.

Thank you for being part of this community. < cheesy >It’s been a positive element in my life.< /cheesy >

03 Aug

What’s your role in correcting a retweeted hoax?

It happens to all of us, and last week it happened to me.

I got punked… by a hoax.

That study that claimed IE6 users have a lower IQ, as much as we may still feel like it’s true, was a fake.

I’ve been punked by hoaxes in the past, I’m sure, but the difference with this one is that I retweeted it and helped spread the misinformation. And, in turn, my tweet was retweeted a half dozen times.

Now, I didn’t know it was a hoax at the time. I have to admit, though, I immediately bought into it. Old browsers are hated by Web Developers. But when I shared it I was thinking it was “proof” rather than trying to willing lie to people.

In other words, I don’t think I committed a journalistic sin because I didn’t know it was fake at the time. Retweeting a rumor and treating it as fact, that’s a journalism sin… this was more a case of journalistic laziness, because in my heart “I knew it to be true.”

Typically, I read the links before I share them with others – not endorsements, per say, but informed sharing. In this case, I didn’t even question it and re-shared. (NOTE: I still believe there is something wrong with you if you are using IE6.)

Tim Carmody, who wrote the piece exposing the hoax for Wired, said it perfectly:

.@ One thing I talk about in the article is how these hoaxes 1) give us ammo in an argument & 2) confirm what we already think.
@tcarmody
Tim Carmody

While I didn’t commit a journalism sin, I did, knowing or not, participate in spreading this hoax. So, what is my responsibility now?

I went straight to the correction expert and asked Craig Silverman, of Regret the Error, for advice. His response:

@ @ You should message anyone who RT’d your incorrect RT to let them know it was a hoax. And ask them to spread word.
@CraigSilverman
Craig Silverman

My response:

@ Will do! And I’ll say two ‘Our Fathers’ … that’s the Catholic side of me. I can’t help it. // @
@webjournalist
Robert Hernandez

While not a sin, I still felt dirty. So much so, that I also posted a correction on Google+ and wrote this piece.

I’m happy to report, moments after I asked those who retweeted me to spread the corrected info, nearly all did.

What are your thoughts? How would you have corrected this “error?” Do you consider it an error?

21 Apr

Q&A with the mystery man behind #Quakebook

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NOTE: Originally published on Online Journalism Review: http://www.ojr.org/ojr/people/webjournalist/201104/1964/

It’s been more than a month since a 9.0 magnitude earthquake rocked Japan, triggering a massive tsunami, the combination of which have killed thousands. And while the country is slowing putting itself together, under the looming dangers of a potential nuclear disaster, there are many organizations — and individuals — coming together to help in any way they can.

For this week’s post, I chatted with Our Man in Abiko, an international man of mystery behind #Quakebook, a crowdsourced project to help those affected by the devastation.

NOTE: The Q&A was done through e-mail over a course of a couple of weeks.

First, for those who don’t know about it, can you describe what the #Quakebook is, how it came about and your role?

Quakebook is a twitter-sourced anthology of first-person accounts of the earthquake and immediate aftermath. It was conceived, written and ready to publish as a fully designed PDF book within a week. It has 89 contributions from “real” people as well as 4 from celebs solicited thru twitter – William Gibson, Yoko Ono, Barry Eisler and Jake Adelstein.

It is not a collection of tweets, but mostly one-page essays.

I thought of it in the shower Friday morning, March 18th thinking that wouldn’t it be great to do in words what mash-up videos can do on YouTube, especially @fatblueman’s Christmas in Japan video. Check it out, you’ll see what I mean. [The video: http://youtu.be/lmCrIZeob4w]

No-one has received a penny. We got Amazon to waive their fees so ALL revenue goes to the Red Cross. Pinch me, I’m dreaming.

Oh, my role? I’m cheerleader in chief, marshaller of the troops and getter arounder of problems. Don’t like titles!

NOTE: Our Man recently did a video recently sharing the story of Quakebook: http://youtu.be/cQ_-3-wwLKs

Once you had this idea, how did you go about starting this? Can you talk about the crowdsourcing process?

I had no plan as such. Every time I hit a wall, I asked the good folk of twitter to give me a leg up :)

The original tweets and stuff are all on quakebook.org and www.ourmaninabiko.com

Talk about the “real” people that contributed to the collection. Have you ever met them? What journalism skills did you apply in collecting their stories?

The real people started with whoever sent me email from around the world, supplemented by my neighbours, my wife and mother-in-law and also I got my wife to chase down eyewitness accounts from devastated areas through blogs.

The celebs we picked up along the way. The highly unscientific approach has somehow created a snapshot of many disparate elements of the disaster.

I kept in anything that was sent and was not a rant or shopping list. (There were only two like this).

What is your ideal goal you hope to achieve with this book?

I want it to raise oodles and noodles of cash for the Red Cross, but beyond that, I want it to serve as s valuable historical record to answer the question: what happened at 2:46 on March 11, much like John Hersey’s “Hiroshima” answers What happened on Aug. 6, 1945.

What has been the best part of this project?

The therapy of writing and sharing what we have written; seeing the whole project becoming stronger than its constituent parts.

What has surprised you about the process? What’s been the highlight?

How the weekend stops dead any progress with the traditional publishing industry, while the reverse is true of us amateurs. The highlight? Seeing a tweet from someone that they had downloaded the book, and cried. I then did the same and got teary eyed too.

What do you think about those reluctant to use crowdsourcing in storytelling, particularly in journalism. Any advice to them?

Trust people to deliver, and they will. If you get sidetracked by someone with their own agenda, or who doesn’t get the point of the project, don’t waste your time, find someone who does. Behave morally and you will quickly attract the right kind to whatever your project is, if it has merit.

Can you tell me what you did prior to this project? What were you doing in Japan? Talk about Our Man In Abiko.

I’m a British self-employed English language teacher, 40. I’m a former local newspaper journalist. My wife is Japanese and we’ve been here since 2007. Got two kids. My favourite colour is red.

Our Man in Abiko began as a satirical blog on Japanese politics, became a persona to keep me sane.

Since the earthquake, I realised Our Man was needed to perform Churchillian tasks of rallying the dispirited to overcome our woes.

What is the backstory with Our Man in Abiko? What’s your name and what brought you to Japan?

Not saying. It’s not my story that’s interesting, it’s Japan’s.

Clearly the book is the focus, but “Our Man In Abiko” is a man of mystery. People are naturally going to ask, “who is this guy?” What can you tell them?

He likes Earl Grey tea, playing with his kids and world domination, you know, the usual.

[After more prodding]

OK, well, the Our Man persona began just as a joke on my blog, I took on the mantle of a redundant British agent sent to monitor the wilds of Tokyo commuterville… But then with the earthquake, suddenly the time for fun was long gone, but I realised I had a fictional character who could do great things. I could not muster the troops and build a resistance movement to the earthquake, but maybe Our Man in Abiko could.

Well, Our Man, congratulations on the success with this project. How and where can people find it?

All details are on http://www.quakebook.org and you can buy the book now here: http://amzn.to/quakebook for Kindle (you can download a free Kindle player for PC, Mac and Smart phones there too.)

Thanks for chatting with me. And good luck on this and other endeavors.

Thanks a lot.

09 Mar

Q&A with Al Jazeera Online Producer Bilal Randeree

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NOTE: Originally published on Online Journalism Review: http://www.ojr.org/ojr/people/webjournalist/201103/1949/

Without a doubt, the leading news organization covering the historic Middle East unrest is Al Jazeera. Available in limited markets here, their Web site has been the home for its impressive coverage.

“We had figures that indicated that we had 2,500 percent increase in traffic; 60 percent of that traffic was from the United States of America,” said Satnam Matharu, the director of communications, in a recent interview with NPR.

From my point of view, the lack of distribution for the English broadcast, the use of technology in the unrest and the quickness of the evolving news has been a prefect combination that has enabled Al Jazeera to be a leader in coverage and use of tech.

Bilal Randeree, Online producer for Al Jazeera EnglishFor this week’s post, I ‘interviewed’ Online producer for Al Jazeera English, Bilal Randeree. Because of the time difference and the constant news developments, Randeree and I ‘met’ on a collaborative document to have this conversation over several weeks.

First, Bilal, thank you for taking the time to answer my questions. I know you and the entire Al Jazeera crew have been extremely busy. Why don’t we start with you introducing yourself, your role at AJE, and how you started in journalism? Also, while it’s clearly been a newsy few weeks… how does it compared to your usual daily routine?

Hey Robert, sounds good. Really busy with Libya at the moment – I’m sure you’ve seen all my tweets (@bilalr) – our live blog is hugely popular once again!

I’m going to give a few very brief answers now cos I’m taking a quick break from the shocking news, so here goes:

I’m from South Africa – worked in banking for a few years, based out of Johannesburg – I then moved to London, but the timing was bad cos the financial crises hit as I was settling in!

As a freelance writer at the time, I was constantly asked to cover the crises from the ‘inside’ – what I learned then made me realize that working in corporate was not for me. I went back to school and did a post-grad in journalism. It was that degree together with my experience in corporate that landed me the job at Al Jazeera as a Business Journalist.

However, after moving to Doha I soon changed over to a general Online Journalist. I write for the Al Jazeera website, and update and maintain our various social media and online platforms. The past few weeks have been incredibly busy, with most of my colleagues and I working long shifts, day after day.

Can you describe the online operation at Al Jazeera? How incorporated is the Web staff? Do the different ‘sister stations’ with different languages have different Web staffs?

The English and Arabic channels are largely editorially independent – and so are the two websites. However, there is always the necessary collaboration and exchange of information, sources and resources.

The English website actually started before the English channel, but I’m not sure how things operated back then. These days, the website news desk is in the AJE newsroom, so we interact with broadcast quite a bit.

Typically, broadcast has reporters around the world covering the news for us – they are limited in terms of time on air, so the website is where our audience comes to for in-depth coverage and analysis of international news. Together with news from our reporters, we use the main news wires as sources, together with good old fashioned telephone journalism – the internet is a major source obviously, and we are constantly finding and using new online tools for news gathering and contacting sources on the ground.

Bilal Randeree, lower right hand corner, works a only few feet from the set.

Bilal Randeree, lower right hand corner, works a only few feet from the set.

So, when it comes to AJE, the Web site came first … that’s a quite different experience from most newsrooms. And it sounds like it has had some interesting effects. How would you describe the culture of the ‘converged’ newsroom?

Well, to be honest I’m not in the ideal position to answer this question, seeing that I’ve been here for a year now, and the English channel has been running for a good few years already. In terms of convergence, its a constantly changing relationship – broadcast and web are continually finding new and better ways to work together and support each other, over and above the obvious. The most recent development, starting with our Tunisia and then Egypt coverage, has been the ‘Web Desk’ that TV hosts – they prop a presenter in front of the camera, that discusses what is going on online, how readers are interacting with us on different platforms, and also what is being shared, discussed and debated on the internet.

Can you talk about, and perhaps list, all the different Web platforms and tools AJE employs (Twitter, Tumblr, iPhone Apps, etc.)

I have only recently started the Al Jazeera Tumblr account, but we’ve been active on Twitter and Facebook for a while now. The New Media team has traditionally been very strong and innovative, but the link between the tools they develop and experiment with, and how they are used on the News Desks was not at its best about a year ago. In that time however, Network wide training courses in Social Media were held, and the change is quite noticeable – besides the Web team, lots of other AJ people are active on different platforms.

Our live blog has been the latest hot development and we are seeing an incredible following, mainly for the hot news events that are constantly developing – first with Egypt, and now with Libya.

I tweeted that I was interviewing you and got this question from @Abdulla_AlAthba. He asks ‘Did twitter make it easier for [journos] @ AJA to track the news?’ Can you talk about how technology has changed the way Al Jazeera does its reporting.

Well, while Al Jazeera English and Al Jazeera Arabic both form part of the Al Jazeera Network, the two stations operate relatively independent of each other. There is collaboration between journalists on both sides, but not all stories are covered by both, or in the same way.

In my personal experience, from the beginning, when things started in Tunisia and English broadcast was not covering the story in depth, due to a lack of sources on the ground, I was able to build up a good network of trusted sources through Twitter. While Twitter does alert us to events that are unfolding, its rare that Twitter itself will be a source – rather, a journalist can find sources and make contacts on Twitter, and then follow up with phone calls or emails, etc.

What stands out for me, when I look at Al Jazeera, is how technology is so embraced and employed in all different types of coverage. What do you think is the reason why it seems to be more open and willing to embrace technology, while other news orgs may be… a little… more reluctant. Or, is it my imagination, and Al Jazeera is facing with the same tech cultural issues other newsrooms are?

Well, I can’t speak for how other media organizations work – and for us at Al Jazeera, it’s not just the way we embrace technology, etc that makes us stand out from the rest, but rather almost every aspect of our coverage.

I would assume that compared to most other big media organizations, the fact that we are still not able to be broadcast extensively around the world, we know and value the importance of the internet more, and hence make more/better use of it.

Can you talk about the equipment/gear Al Jazeera reporters, those that cover breaking news and file for the Web, carry with them? I hear Flipcams and phones instead of laptops.

We have been using Flipcams for a while now, and have some cool campaigns running where we give citizens Flipcams and they produce content that feeds back to us.

For reporters and producers that cover live events, there are a few different tools they use – mobile phones for tweeting, sending through Audioboos and Twitpics, from places where there is no internet or the internet gets blocked, we issue Thuraya IP modems.

Our New Media team also has iPhones and BB‘s that they issue out to anyone going out into the field, that has all apps and software, customized and tested for ease of use.

Thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions. I know you’ve been quite busy!

Robert Hernandez is a Web Journalism professor at USC Annenberg and co-creator of #wjchat, a weekly chat for Web Journalists held on Twitter. You can contact him by e-mail (r.hernandez@usc.edu) or through Twitter (@webjournalist). Yes, he’s a tech/journo geek.

29 Nov

Was the Washington Post ‘s Twitter ‘Election’ sponsorship a success? Yes

In a recent interview with On The Media, Twitter co-founder Evan Williams mentioned that The Washington Post’s purchase of the trend ‘election’ yielded a “9 percent engagement rate.”

Host Bob Garfield added context to the result by saying “the click through rate on a display ad across the Internet is substantially less than 1 percent.”

NOTE: Jump to 3:25 to hear the exchange.

At posting, there is no transcript at the moment, but here’s a link to the story: http://www.onthemedia.org/transcripts/2010/11/26/04

Whether it was a gimmick and a proof of Twitter advertising concept, you have to admit it is a bit of a success… well, compared to the crappiness of Internet advertising, which you know is, well, crap.

Two questions come to mind:

1. Whose idea at WaPo was this?

2. What were the factors in this scenario that made for a “success?”

If you know the answer to Q1, let me know. And what’s your theory on Q2?

20 Oct

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

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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.

20 Sep

Real-time tweets from Discovery Channel hostage situation

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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.

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