Facebook's Spring Awakening

This week Facebook not only made some drastic changes to it's own site but made some noticeable alterations to the world wide web. I found nearly every story about Facebook intriguing this week, as they begin to play a huge role in the way millions of people interact on the Internet. Below is a quick breakdown of Facebook matters at hand this week.

1. Mark Zuckerberg announces the idea of the "Open Web." Highlighting Facebooks Open Graph Protocol, which from what I understand is basic code (part of the META tags)that incorporates primarily a like button, and ultimately a connection to from any website back to Facebook. Facebook then becomes this underlying, or overruling, system of personalized connections across the web. Like a fabric the rest of the web must then exist on, it's a bit overwhelming. In the past Facebook only stored personal information for 24 hours but now all information will continue to be stored so that developers can have continual access to the info. From what I've read it seems that developers just hacked around the original policy but it still remains a privacy issue.

2. Gets rid of Facebook Connect.This was announced as part of the Open Graph launch. Facebook Connect was the dialogue box that popped up previously when you wanted to connect with a site. With the launch of Open Graph Facebook has 30 web services that can allready connect, providing a personlized experience (via FB) on any of those websites. A few of those include Pandora, Microsoft Docs, Yelp, and IMDB. But the like button is up almost everywhere at this point. I haven't clicked like on anything yet though... it's a bit eerie and I'm a bit skeptical about widening my virtual footprint so quickly.

3. Part of inner-company challenge called Hackathon Facebook developers have created Facebook Me. A themed mini-blog that creates automated content using your Facebook profile. 

4. Facebook has eliminated the "become a fan" option replacing it with the soon-to-be synonymous "like" button. Along side this they are linking Profiles and Pages together. So I have a few friends that have a profile and also a page because they're entertainers, I'm going to have to keep an eye out to see how this effects my home feed and their walls.

5. Russian hacker Krillos steals 1.5 million Facebook IDs.

6. Facebook Lite, stripped down version of the original site, no more.

7. Facebook COO in Vogue...

What an eventful week for Facebook!

Machines + Cinema = Machinima

This week in my Social Media for PR class we discussed and viewed different machinima (derived from machine and cinema,) it is the use of real-time three-dimensional graphics rendering engines, like video games, to generate computer animation.

I'm a huge fan of Sims 3, and I absolutely love World Adventures. I've thought about making a video using the recording feature on the Sims 3 dashboard but I've never really been sure how to go about it. More afraid of the editing aspect than anything. While the machinima I found created with Sims 3 didn't incorporate mummies or tomb exploration (aspects of World Adventures) I really enjoyed them because it was an environment I was familiar with.

These two do a really great job of silent storytelling. Hats off to Maxis for incorporating such relatable facial expressions -

A story about a guy whose life is changed forever in one single moment. Great video.
I Go to Sleep (Sims 3)
“She longs for him, as he for her.” A really heartfelt short, the emotion portrayed by a sim is kind of baffling to me but it definitely works. Cool cinematography too.
These are all comedies -
Little Pablo: All that Glitters (Sims 3)
Just a lil joke movie. Really short.

Alien Dope (Halo 3)
A couple aliens get bored and abduct a human, who is a pothead. Hilarious.

World of Workcraft
(World of Warcraft)

From wegame.com, a group of dragon slayers seek out a new way to use their time.
A Day in the Life of a Turret (Portal)
If a turret bitches about its job and nobody is around to hear it, does it make a sound? You bet it does. “A Day in the Life of a Turret” catches two turrets on the job during a typical day at the Aperture Science Enrichment Center, and the monotony that lies within.
And although the rest are all visually pleasing I found something honest and eery about these two:
Earth Day 2010 (Fallout 3)
Oddly beautiful.
I'm Still Seeing Breen (Half-Life 2)
In a tyrannical world a battle rages. The “lip-syncing” part is really original I think, and it has a nice (yet rough) feel for a rock video.
Perhaps I'll play around with Sims 3 this week and see if I can't some up with a story of my own.


Oh no! Someone saw a SEXT!

"Walking to the library,
Girl behind me: "We started sexting recently...but she got mad at me saying, I don't tell her important things about my life, so I texted her saying I got an A on a test and added a sext at the end. She texted me back saying, congratulations, I'm proud of you. And I was like did you get the secon...d part? And she said, yeah, but the first part was more exciting."
Gay friend: "Ouch, that's happened to me before. It's so embarrassing."
From the Overheard at Saint Edwards Facebook Group

To take a more risqué (AKA raunchy) description and text-based example of the sexting phenomena check out Urban Dictionary. And in case semi-explicit language isn't part of your mini-blog good ol' Wikipedia defines sexting "the act of sending sexually explicit messages or photos electronically, primarily between cell phones." Sexting has been on the tip of the media tongue the past few years as adolescents across the globe are spotlighted in legal cases surrounding the issue. Also a study from The Pew Internet & American Life Project found that one in six American teenagers are participating in sexting.

With it in the news and likely in the living room it is no surprise earlier his week Consumer Reports challenged Microsoft's new Kin video because of a sequence showing a possible sext. Consumer Reports asked on their electronics blog – "Does it encourage sexting?

For roughly 10 seconds of the minute long video there is a sequence where a young-man is shown putting the Kin mobile phone under his shirt and snapping a picture of his bare chest, nipple included, then later you see a girl's face and her reaction to the picture. A smirk.

Microsoft ultimately edited the video because of the Consumer Reports blog post and said, "it was never our intent to promote it [sexting] in any way." The edited version is pretty much the same commercial minus the 10 seconds of scandal.

Check out the original video ad below.







Time Warner Cable Takes Time to Focus on Twitter

This week in Social Media for PR we talked about social auditing and watching an organization or a brand through social networks such as Facebook, Twitter and the blogosphere.

I've collected some tweets and posts from the past few days to begin to discover Time Warner Cable's success and failures.

I was glad to find that not only does Time Warner Cable have a twitter account devoted to customer service but the entire structure of media that is Time Warner Inc. has an account that promotes upcoming premieres and events.

With only 542 followers @TWCableHelp isn't reaching its customers. Isn't something being loss when a company creates this dynamic but doesn't fully use it to improve their public relations?

They are trying though. Or at least created the appearance of that. A user created side panel on the @TWCablehelp lists four members of their Twitter team: @TWCablePhil @TWCableBrienH @TWCablePaulS @TWCableBrianP 
And they also share an afterhours help email TWCable.Help@twcable.com
The guys are definitely polite on @TWCablehelp too.

So while I doubt these twitter users  know about @TWCableHelp perhaps the customer service representatives should reach out to these customers through the medium in which they're expressing concern about the company.

 And there were also some other things that users found relevant and re-tweeting about, some of those below.


I'll post again about Time Warner Cable next week as I delve deeper into the organizations presence in social media.



VIDEO: A View From The Hill - Urban Legends - Part One

This year at St. Edward's University students and faculty are celebrating 125 years of excellence. This isn't your traditional SEU video, but our take on another side of the story. The paranormal one. With multiple primetime TV shows highlighting ghostly phenomena we thought this hopefully viral video would be not only informational but entertaining.

The film features host Chicca Antonelli. The production team consisted of Andrew Zimmer, Haza Newman and myself, Kiara Brynne Smith.

Visit our class blog for more information on the Social Media for Public Relations course taught by Corinne Weisgerber.


The End of the World - WAIT - No.... it just got better!

God, I love Firefox. But since my recent upgrade I’ve encountered a couple crashes. 
Firefox is supposed to be better than Explorer, cooler than Safari, and simply tighter than Chrome. Even though the shiny new browser is getting all the buzz, and IE8 is looking great to some previous haters, I’m still standing with Firefox. It’s held fast, rang tried and true, and I refuse to sell my soul to Google – at the moment.
 While I didn’t discover the root of evil brewing in my browser (got close maybe) I found something else quite tantalizing. I did a bit of searching, Web 2.0 style, and was pleased to discover Mozilla is taking all the steps in the right direction to make me, the cacophonous and concerned consumer just  another faithful and Facebook savy fan.  Mozilla Firefox can boast about their 1.3 million fans on Facebook but check out their Twitter! Only 29 followers at the time of this posting so all social media watchdogs keep an eye out to see just how beneficial tweeting may be when trying to reach the confused public.  
Mozilla has a number of interesting online projects to help their users not only learn about the product but get the most out of it then fall in love with it and ultimately share it. SUMO Blog is one of them, short for Support Mozilla, and this Wednesday they posted about their Twitter exploration. Mozilla is attempting, through social media, to hold onto their fans and stomp out viral bushfires before anyone gets burned.
They shared 3 objectives concerning their new @firefoxcares account.
  1. Reach out to users who need help, using little snippets that could solve their problems. Long-term, we want to reach close to 100% of all users.
  2. Get a better understanding of the current perception of Firefox and the biggest problems users experience, and act upon that information.
  3. Prevent issues from becoming viral by intercepting and channeling to SUMO if help is not possible through Twitter.
I’m a big fan of numero 3.

(Take the hint Nestle. Everyone else is.)


Greenpeace's Viral Assault on Nestle is Hot.

In an ingenious grass-fire like storm of viral upheaval Greenpeace has spread the word and lit a bottle rocket underneath environmentalists all around the world. The next target on the end to global warming: the deforesting-orangutan-killing-palm-oil-fiend-and-proud-supporter-of-chocolate–and-cheese… Nestle.

Nestle’s Facebook Page where tens of thousands of “un-fans” actually became “fans” of Nestle’s page in order to voice their outrage over destroying one of the most biologically diverse ecosystems in the world... has actually been taken down. Overran with comments against Nestle, and especially the KitKat (highlighted in Greenpeace’s video that ignited the blaze,) it seems as though the company decided to cut ties from FB and remain vocally absent in a battle happening on the frontlines of social media. Good idea? Probably just more bad press…

Greenpeace, however, is present on all fields and tweeting a ton. They’re interacting, not riling up tweens who deface their trademark (my interpretation of Nestle’s comments on their FB page when it was still flowing) – they’re ready for business baby. Riding out the rage and enjoying the spoils. Interacting with followers and also putting them straight.

Touche Greenpeace.

And it’s only getting hotter... Bet Nestle would like a break now.


Where are you?!!

I don’t really want to know where all my friend’s are every moment. But sometime, say a Friday night at 10:30… it’d be pretty nice to locate my friend base.

Foursquare (Check in. Find your friends. Unlock your city.) Gowalla (Go Out. Go Discover. Go Share.) Loopt (Discover the world around you.) and Yelp (Real people. Real reviews) are some of the location based check-in services that use GPS mobile devices to help consumer “find” the friends, places, and bar specials they desire.

Leading the foray is Foursquare which incorporates gaming tactics that involve users more than the other sites. For example, you can win badges. Foursquare actually introduced 16 new South by Southwest badges just for the crowds that showed up in Austin. One being a Tarantino badge, check-in for sitings of the famous director Quentin Tarantino, a known fan of Austin.

Foursquare can connect with your Twitter and Facebook networks, and has user comments, or reviews, so it becomes not so much where to go… but what to do when you get there. It allows people to unlock the neighborhoods they frequent, and discover places they might not have thought to enter.

They idea itself could seem scary to some, but the rapid evolution of these sites is not something to discard.

But the key – everyone must have the ability to opt-IN. NOT OUT. The moment a consumer begins to feel their information is being used without their consent this idea of playing with “where” can turn to playing with “who” and no big business wants the fingers pointing at them.


A Podcast From the Hill

Podcast Assignment for Social Media for Public Relations class. During the podcast we discuss the growing St. Edward's community, interview Arnold Hernandez, an alum and current admissions staff, and muse about our own SEU futures.

00.30 - Homecoming
01.30 - Recent Events
Transit's Show, Gallery Exhibit, Precious Screening
02.50 - Arnold Hernandez's Journey
06.35 - Our SEU Future
07.30 - Closing

A Podcast From the Hill – Episode 1, March 8th, 2010

[Intro Music Begins]

Intro: Welcome to “A Podcast From the Hill” the source for your St. Edward’s happenings every second Monday of the month. This week your hosts Haza Newman, (hello) Andrew Zimmer (hey there), and Kiara Brynne (howdy) discuss the growing St. Edward’s Community.

Andrew: As fellow Hilltoppers may know two weeks ago St. Edward’s University celebrated it’s 125th anniversary.

Kiara: Kinda crazy!

Andrew: It is! It’s exciting. And I think the student body, myself included, was definitely ready to participate in the 125th homecoming festivities. They went all out this year!

Haza: Banners, giant footprints, free food everywhere… With so much activity happening around campus, it was almost hard not to get sucked into that – spirit.

Kiara: You’re right. The St. Edward’s community is growing, that spirit, I think, was ignited or grew in a lot of people this semester.

Andrew: And it’s really cool to be a part of it right now, but after we graduate are we still going to be a part of it?

Haza: Maybe. I mean it depends on a lot of things.

Andrew: Exactly. Later in the podcast we’ll talk to an alumnus of St. Edward’s that decided to stick around, and be a part of the community even after graduation.

Haza: We were pleased to discover that St. Ed’s not only helps students “learn to think”, but offers career placement after graduation - while also creating so many opportunities for current students to contribute to the very rich history of this university. And hopefully 125 more years of excellence.

01.30 - Recent Events

Andrew: And this month there are several events around campus for students to show off their talent and also enjoy themselves. Tonight Transit Theatre Troupe, a student producing organization, closes their first show of the semester Recent Tragic Events.

Kiara: The play, written by Craig Wright, takes place the day after 9/11. The show is most importantly free, its pretty hilarious and also beautiful. 80% of donations will go to the Haiti Relief Fund, a recent tragic event, and the other 20 to help Transit continue to offer free site specific theatre on St. Ed’s campus.

Andrew: And where’s that happening?

Kiara: Right outside Trustee Hall at 7:30. Tonight. So Haza, what’s going on with the photography department this month?

Haza: Over at the Fine Arts Building on Friday the Photocommunications Senior Exhibition opened and it runs until April. Friday night the crowd sipped wine and enjoyed the exhibit. But the Fine Arts Gallery is open every day. I think its definitely worth checking out.

Andrew: And if you’re Facebook savvy check out the The Committee for Multicultural Advancement’s event, they’re hosting a screening of Precious March 27th in Jones Auditorium, at 7pm to celebrate Womens’ History Month. Following the film there will be a discussion with Sociology and a Social Work professors.

Kiara: Precious is a really powerful film. I totally recommend heading to Jones that night to catch it.

02.50 [Music in]

Haza: This week we spoke to Arnold Hernandez, a former St. Edward’s student that now works in the admission office. Arnold has returned to us after working with broadcast channels, working as a motivational speaker, and in the public relations field. As a member of the graduating class of 2003 its interesting to hear his journey and how he found his way back to St. Edward’s.



Kiara: So do you guys think you’ll want to give back to this community after graduation? Or can you even imagine working here?

Andrew: Definitely. I’ve got so much from attending St. Edward’s. I know that I would be thrilled to work with the theatre department after graduation, or even if I got a desk job. I think I would really enjoy coming to work on our beautiful campus.

Haza: I think I would really like to give back to St. Edward’s. I’ve always wanted to be a teacher and maybe if things worked out with the photography or communications aspect I’ve what I’m studying I’d like to come back. What about you?

Kiara: I want to make it a priority at some point, for sure. This university has been my life for three years, you know? And I don’t think once I’m gone I’ll be quick to forget the time, energy, and emotion I devoted to this place. Especially the theatre department.

Andrew: Those were some great points. Arnold had some good input on what its like to be a graduate and employee of St. Eds.. Hopefully, current students won’t dismiss the idea of giving back to the school. Their contributions would be invaluable.

[Music in]

Kiara: Be sure to follow StEdwardsU on twitter for down to the minute news on campus. Thanks for joining us this Monday! I’m Kiara Brynne.

Andrew: I’m Andrew Zimmer.

Haza: I’m Haza Newman. And this was…

All: A Podcast From the Hill.

Kiara: If you’d like to discuss this weeks episode, or read the transcript, you can find that and more at www.apodcastfromthehill.blogspot.com.

Andrew: Thanks for listening!

Kiara: Thanks.

Haza: Thanks!


The Dalai Lama Joined Twitter… Wait. What?

So he did it, like really. Check out @DalaiLama. And he even received a welcome from Twitter VP Sean Garret.

It was influenced in part by a hoax that happened last year. @OHHDL, The Office of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. The incident was one that actually influenced Twitter to create verified accounts. Check out who @verified is following for a list of verified accounts.

Conon O’Brien also joined the twitter scene on Wednesday. And Bill Gates joined back in January...

It seems like the big voices are starting to realize Twitter has an audience that’s willing to pay attention. And I think it's a bigger step for contemporary leaders to make, opposed to celebrities. If religious leaders, especially, can begin to utilize social media they ultimately will be reaching a whole new audience. A younger audience that could be more receptive to these ideas when posed in a realm they feel comfortable with. One that is modern and new.

Twitter just passed Myspace in daily status updates, 30 million for Myspace vs. Twitter's 55 million. Twitter continues to grow! I wonder who else is going to join the conversation...

Is Podcasting Social Media?

And what exactly is social media? …

From what I understand social media is like a framework in which infinite conversations continuously evolve. Conversations between consumers and marketers, between teachers and students, fellow peers and followers. It’s person to person. It’s a two way street, where both sides share in the discussion. A continuous exchange of ideas.

That doesn’t really sound like a podcast.

Podcasting isn’t social media. But it does have the potential to be social and the potential to start a conversation. A huge concept behind podcasting is mobility, but a listener on the go isn’t likely to carry that excitement home to immediately comment on a website. So if a listener could leave a voice comment maybe then it would truly be social.

But maybe the majority of listeners are at home at their computer. Then it's not about when they can listen, but what they're listening too. Generally podcasts are integrated with social media aspects though. The series could be paired with a blog post, or the author could have a twitter or website. The fact is, it takes less time to read than it does listen.

Podcasts can be important to social media strategy among companies, and social media can expose and be a pr tool for podcasts. Podcasts can be social because of the sharing aspect, and in that sense social media and podcasts are really both tools that can attribute to the same outcome.


New Kids on the Web

In Ben McConnell and Jackie Huba's Citizen Marketers they state that "content creators online tend to be young, and they're getting younger."

Today social media and the world wide web are so connected it is normal and almost natural for an internet user to eventually add something to the webscape. Nearly everything is accessible when you sit down at a computer, add in cellphones (ownership of cellphones among 4-14 year-olds has shot up 50% since 2005), and you can have middle schoolers updating their Twitter and Xanga accounts over lunch.

One new kid on the web, that of whom I'm a fan, is Tavi. Tavi Gevinson started her blog "Style Rookie" in March of 2008, when she was 11. She also works for British magazine Pop where she writes another mostly photo blog, and has been featured on the cover. She's a superstar in Japan, and a "dork" as she claims on her blog. Check her out at fashion week here! Also... she's the inspiration for the new Rodarte line at Target.

Pretty cool for 13. I think.

Google's Buzz Going to Far?

A couple weeks ago Google released their new social networking platform Buzz. Buzz initially required no set up, and at the time was connected with the a users Gmail account. The first step was to create a circle of friends using your most recently emailed contacts... and to opt out of this, and several other elements you had to individually turn each one off. It was like Google thought,"Let's just throw everyone out there and see what happens." 

There's something concerning about Google playing with address book contacts. Google already has numerous features that a user has access to once you create a Gmail account. But the vast majority just want the inbox and the outbox and the good ol' stuff, what we're getting now is a whole new world. There's been a quite an uproar over the platform, which provides very open social messaging features. Buzz allows users to upload full resolution photos and inline videos, as well as connect easily to Picasa, Flickr, and Twitter. 

Last Wednesday laws firms in San Francisco and Washington D.C. filed a class action lawsuit against Google on behalf of a 24 year-old Harvard Law School student Eva Hibnick. Besides probably several million dollars they're also asking Google make a commitment to not do this again during future product launches. I think Google definitely crossed the line. There's a line between personal and social and I'm so surprised and almost hurt they forgot that.

While Google has apologized and added an opt-out feature there's a bleak cloud hovering over Buzz right now. What's going to happen with the fledgling service? Do we need to create more regulated ways of controlling our privacy? The World Wide Web is an ever changing legal field and privacy has always been an issue. Google knows they did something wrong, but look how much information they have about each individual user... Someone has to protect that information if they're going to forget to.


Fanatic or Foe?

It bothers me when my friends and family discount social media for something less than a brilliant marketing tool bringing global masses together. I’ve had several late night debates over the benefits and failures of Twitter, my own self dramatically involved in the future potential this one website holds for millions of individuals and hundreds of corporations.

Reading Ben McConnel and Jackie Huba’s Citizen Marketers (When People Are the Message) is going to give me one more tool to help bridge the gap and usher my peers into the social tech of the next decade.

Here are a few of the citizen marketers McConnel and Huba mentioned:
Hacking Netflix, Ilounge, The Barqs Man, and Vincent Ferrari

I definitely consider myself a fanatic when it concerns certain hobbies and leisure activities. Mostly Harry Potter and TV. I will forever be obsessed with the wizarding world imagined by J.K. Rowling, the mystical yet demonic Sunnydale of Joss Whedon’s Buffy, the special world of Peter Petrelli and The Invincible Girl set in Tim Kring’s Heroes, and currently the Battlestar Galactica prequel Caprica airing next Friday on the newly rebranded SyFy.

I am a fanatic about TV in my daily life; surely I could harbor this personal oddity for greatness?

The series Caprica is just beginning, and I see such potential in this beautifully original new show. I spent a couple hours of my Saturday afternoon reading up on Battlestar Gallactica, a show I’ve never seen before but follows the same timeline as Caprica, only to slightly understand the world of The Twelve Colonies better. But I want to be a part of the discussion because Caprica is posing great questions about religion and the philosophy of science.

So whether I’ll be a filter, a fanatic, a facilitator, or firecracker… I hope to find a voice among the masses.


The New Playground

A hundred years ago buildings and rooms were keeping people in, and not just physically, but psychologically and emotionally as well. Today the significance of the physical realities in our world are lessening. Today we think different.  The teenage version of my grandmother would be baffled by such alien terms as texting, blog, and website.
Information travels across the world now, through walls, and through pockets. You can be anywhere and have a meaningful experience, even alone in front of your computer. You can find out what your best friend did Friday night, or where Ashton Kutcher went for lunch on Tuesday. You can order dinner online and blog about it during breakfast telling your mom to do the same.
The environment within which all of us are allowed to play has changed. Every person is represented virtually on the internet. You’re identity transformed into something intangible yet very real. And social media supports the building blocks of that virtual existence. Who you are, what you like, how you spend your time, what you find funny, what you don’t support, what you love, what middle school you went to, where your parents grew up, where your grandma died, what you did on the fourth of July two years ago, and where you had your last birthday party… It’s all online now. (AND SO MUCH MORE) Probably. For me some of it’s in my profile on Facebook, a bulletin on MySpace, a re-tweet on Twitter, a blog on Live Journal, a Google search on my dad, or a website my thirteen year-old self made.  
I’m a little bit there, aren’t I? In all those places?
It’s not exactly me, but it sort of is.
[I’ve been watching Caprica, a new science fiction series, in it a girl is able to replicate herself virtually and later that virtual self is transferred to the real world. It’s weird and oh so interesting.]