Tag Archives: Web 2.0

O..M..G… They can’t be in our Social Media Club! Gosh!

A few weeks ago, I attended an event where Kara Swisher referred to the whole social media scene as the “social media self-reflecting echo chamber” and some of its stars as “assclowns.”

There was some uneasy chuckling at this — it was, after all, a panel called “Is Social Media Killing PR?”  But mostly people knew exactly what she meant.    There has been much, much sucking up and self-referencing going on lately.

I could have left it at that, until I read a post on an otherwise usually very thoughtful marketing/buzz blog.  It warned all you unsuspecting innocents out there how to tell if your Social Media Consultant is really a carpetbagger.

It carried a breezy video comment with a young pup smilingly declaiming that there are actually people who don’t know what the Cluetrain Manifesto is, and knowing what it is should be a test (I am actually quite fond of the Cluetrain Manifesto, in the nostalgic way some people might be of, say, Goodnight Moon or their first love; but some of my more acerbic peers refer to it as the Common Sense Manifesto).

You know, it was harmless.  Maybe they just were trying to be cute. He was contributing.  And yet the combined effect reminded me of an endless string of cliche movie scenes: the stepsisters make fun of Cinderella:

The Socs make fun of Ponyboy:

The Mean Girls… well, you get the idea.

Some of the insights were fine.  You should be wary of someone who doesn’t listen.  Or whose first suggestion is a Facebook group.

But as one Twitterer told me privately, “the tone [of that post] made me cringe.  It was so smug.”

Yah.  We’re smug — because we broke the code, and we got here first.  Or more first-ier, anyway.  We know things these noobs don’t know.   (insert comment calculated to suck up to Michael Arrington).

I have nothing against Michael Arrington.  He’s great at what he does.  In fact, leave him out of this.  It’s the whole wink-wink say-no-more, you can’t be in my club thing that has sprung up lately.

Sidebar-With-A-Point: You know who got me into Twitter?  @micah (Micah Baldwin) and the late @mochant (Marc Orchant).  Two incredibly different men; two very different approaches.  About a year ago, at deFrag.   Marc started telling me excitedly about Twitter after Gnomedex; it was a “breakthrough” for him.  Micah laid out his arguments for Twitter completely differently.  But clearly, simply.  Not once did he say, “you’re too old,” or, “you’re too new.”

Both guys were amazing that way.  Brilliant, kind, open — natural teachers who had been at the social media game for a while.  They were and are symbolic to me of what makes the open web succeed: you give people the information, explain why it’s useful, and see how they connect with it.

Micah could have given me, you know, that half-smile that kids reserve for people over 40 when they see them dance, when they’re embarrassed for them.

But instead he was just straight-up.  “No, Twitter’s really cool.  You should do it.  Here’s the value for me:….”   He laid it out, and he made sense.    I was on Twitter that afternoon.

Yeah, several months after he and others were on it.

Maybe it’s the economic downturn — in a recession, some people want to make just that much more sure that someone knows that we know what we’re doing and knew it FIRST before those  new people came in and started LIKING social media and trying to USE IT and making it all, you know, social and useful.

And yes, the blog post had a point — because there’s money to be made in brandishing phrases like “personal brand” and “social media consultant,”  it helps to have some insights.

But part of why I didn’t get on Twitter earlier was because of a guy who was in some ways the opposite of Micah and Marc.  A blogger/social media personality who trails little odorless puffs of hype behind him like the low-carbon Highlander Hybrid he started driving after he saw it on Project Runway.   He is smart, he gets ironically and mildly underexcited about everything, he blogs about everything, people love to say they know him, he claims to know everyone.

I suspected that for him Twitter was the solution to that old Eminem song:  “It feels so empty without me.”  That was how I saw it — microblogging a tech raven’s life as it flew from one shiny object to the next.  So since he was excited about Twitter two years ago, I felt forced to hate it, even though he didn’t know and wouldn’t care.

I was wrong about Twitter.  I avoided this cool thing, just because he was annoying.  (But haven’t you done that?   Maybe it was a book, like The Tipping Point or Tuesdays with Morrie, that you avoided just because people flocked to it in droves and formed well, Facebook Groups about it.   Or a movie that could not have possibly lived up to the hype.  Or even Ron Paul, or Barack Obama.

But you give in –  read the book or see the movie, or listen to Barack Obama talk.  You  concede that though the hype is annoying — well, there’s something there.)

The whole social media self-referencing echo chamber is getting annoying.  But there’s still something there of value for people that are willing to walk past the posted insults of the  Socs, or the whispered taunts of the Mean Girls, and make their own way towards the amazing resources to be found.

My husband works only tangentially with the tech world.  He’s starting to find the value in Twitter as a tool for conversations with customers he didn’t know he had — just the way the Cluetrain Manifesto would want him to — and he wouldn’t know how to find the manifesto if it bit him in the …a**clown.

So please let’s stop the code words, do our jobs, follow our curiousity and trust that it will sort itself out, for the most part without having to act like Closed Web Snobs.

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Filed under Ethics, Tech and hype, Technology and PR, Web 2.0

OMG It’s TGI(3G)F — or, The iPhone 3G/Life of Brian Mashup

John Dvorak, the irascible critic/reviewer, once said that when his click counts were getting a little low, he needed only to say something critical of Apple — and watch the clicks add up. Because, well, they defend their kingdom fiercely. And it’s such an in club — if you join, man, you’re in. But if you’re out? Well, let’s just say you could get blamed for a lot of things.

As it happens, I worked on a Mac for years and loved it. But when I left the nominally more creative side of my business, I left the Mac as well and switched back to PC-dom.

Perhaps it wasn’t as elegant or fun. Then again, the world didn’t end when I switched.

So it was with some bemusement that I watched the grownup equivalent of “OMG! The iPhone3G!!!!” frenzy this (now past) week.  Even though the reviews were mostly positive, a few pointed out that amidst its “functionality and beauty” there were still some glitches and hidden costs. But no fear, the data points are ready, any criticisms (however mild) can be argued with zeal.

Don’t get me wrong. The iPhone 3G is way cool, and in general Apple products are elegant, thoughtful, well-marketed, and smart. But watching the frenzy … the lines… the “Countdowns” over the iPhone 3G kept reminding me of the scene in Life of Brian where the hero, Brian, mistaken for the Savior, has accidentally lost one of his shoes. His followers have fervently taken off one of their shoes “so we can be like YOU, Master!”

The willingness to proclaim everything Brian does or mentions as “a miracle!” is very Apple-esque (or -esque of nearly anything in tech where the hype just gets breathless. Google. Web services, once upon a time. Heaven forbid, blade servers. Chips.) As for the declaiming around him that “only the true messiah would deny his divinity” — well, I’m not sayin’ it reminds me of the fans of the guy in the black turtleneck. But hang out on certain discussion boards for a while and connect your own dots.

As Allen Stern of CenterNetworks (a great Web 2.0 news and analysis blog, by the way) said on Twitter: “Anybody want to get 100 people to line up outside of the Sprint Store, just for the hell of it?”

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Filed under Tech and hype, Technology and PR, Uncategorized

Priv-Note: An Explosive Web 2.0 Concept in Service of Privacy

Sooner or later, it had to happen.

You know all those scenes in Mission Impossible where an envelope or tape-recorder has played its vital message and immediately begins to ignite? Ed McMahon or someone gravely intones, “This message will self-destruct in 10 SECONDS. 10, 9, 8….”

That’s the concept behind Priv-Note — notes that self-destruct after being read. Post a note to someone anywhere. Send them the link.

Once your recipient clicks on the link, you (the sender) get a note that the message has been read.

And then, minus Ed McMahon — or any cool voice, really — the message self-destructs.

There are obvious applications — love notes, one-time offers. I’m wondering if it’s enough for a business model? But regardless, in this era of debate over unauthorized surveillance, I’m sure they’ll win fans just for their pro-privacy messages.

What would you use Priv-Notes for?

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Over 30 and Web 2.0 Test: Weezer’s “Pork and Beans” video

Watch this video — Weezer‘s “Pork and Beans.” How many YouTube celebrities can you identify? And what do you think this video is trying to say? I’m thinking in particular of the scene where the band member seems to be just munching on cereal, idly watching the NumaNuma guy — but right inside his apartment.

My question: What do you think is the (tongue in cheek) point of this video?

Here’s why I’m asking: a few months back, I was at a WebGuild event at Google featuring Jia Shen of RockYou, Jonathan Abrams, a co-founder of Friendster, and another Google developer.

Someone asked, mildly, their thoughts on the future for Web 2.0 in the enterprise.

I thought they’d make some comment about the Enterprise catching up with the tools its workers were bringing in, at least. That’s a big “duh” — from Cisco to BEA, the enterprise has been figuring out how to make social networks and the interactive web work for them.

But to my surprise, Jia Shen said, “No. I don’t see it. I mean, web 2.0 is about ‘hot or not,’ right? I don’t see older people getting into it.”

Glancing around the room, fully half the people there were over 40. Just because Jia Shen can’t imagine that anyone over 40 would have a life, let alone a SecondLife, or be using Web 2.0 mashups behind the firewall — doesn’t mean that we don’t get it. Leaving “Hot or Not” aside for the moment, the technology behind that site is simple voting; several present and former clients use similar code to rate the content inside their companies (for usefulness, among other things).

I live in the Web 2.0 world fairly constantly. And what’s more, I have teenagers. My hip factor increases exponentially just because I knew all about the Numa Numa guy two years ago; I rolled my eyes at “These Shoes Rule! These shoes SUCK!,” and watched Chris Crocker’s tearful pleading on behalf of Britney, and the witty Evolution of Dance, all at my kids’ behest.

So when I saw Weezer’s “Pork and Beans,” I cracked up. Thought it was really clever — a nod to this generation’s celebrities, as well as a wink (or maybe a jab in the ribs) to our inertia-bound scrutiny of other people’s Web moments.

Then I shared the video with a few friends and colleagues.

No giggles. No guffaws of recognition. Nada. They gave me those understanding smiles you reserve for people who are just a little bit crazy.

Most of my peers hadn’t seen the videos to which “Pork & Beans” refers. Made me wonder whether a) I have no life — but not in the way JiaShen imagined; b) I had slipped into the ranks of the very, very immature; c) whether there might be any truth to this Web 2.0 generation thing. Like, by having teenagers I’d essentially slipped past the bouncer — but it’s all over as soon as they’re out of the house. Suddenly, I won’t be able to tolerate anything newer than Fleetwood Mac or maybe MC Hammer, pre-Dance Jam.

What do you think? Is Web 2.0 a “generational thing?” Can anyone partake? Or will they have to make a YouTube specifically for people who were born before 1979?

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