Pinterest Is Sexist….Against Women Says Forbes Feminist

Wednesday, April 11th, 2012

Pinterest is sexist….against women. Seriously, that’s the position of Victoria Pynchon who says:

Pinterest Frames Women’s Interests within Tight Gender Boundaries

Go on over to Pinterest and try to find a category for business, marketing, management, entrepreneurism, politics, activism, reproductive choices, negotiation, finance, investing, law, consulting, journalism, or pretty much anything having to do with women working for a living.

This is, in a word, ridiculous.

Go to Barnes-N-Noble and what do you see? Racks of home improvement, cooking, house and garden, and fashion porn. That’s right, porn. It’s fantasy for the average woman, who comes home to her crappy couch and Hamburger Helper.

Where does she come home from? Work. What does she read because the last thing she wants to do is watch the news and/or think about business? Traditional Home, Better Homes & Garden, or in my bigwig President of a division at a Fortune 500 corporation sister: Rolling Stone (I know, I don’t get it either) and Conde Nast Travel or something.

What’s in these magazines? Beautiful pictures, mostly. Some human interest stories. Tips for living.

Why, just like Pinterest!

Yesterday, President Obama’s Pinterest team pinned some garbage about how awesome he is and so I trolled the pins. I linked to the truth. I disputed on a factual basis. No one disputed the facts, mind you. They disputed whether I should be talking about politics.

“Pinterest is a happy place,” one pinner said.

Okay then.

I’m figuring that Pinterest has done tons of market research and knows exactly what women want. Just as random porn sites know exactly what men want.

Is this a gross overgeneralization? Of course.

I noticed the constrained categories on Pinterest, too. Eh. I’ve worked around them. I have a Best Practices business page. I have a Tech Talk page. I have an America the Beautiful page. And then there’s the Politics of Freedom page.

They have lots of followers. My recipes page has more. Yes, I’ve used some of them–even women who own a couple business have to eat, and horrors! might like to cook.

What seems sexist to me is that a woman would consider a site dedicated to what most women consider interesting discriminatory.

After years of attempted gender reconstruction, and after years of women working (and nearly 80% of women do), women are still wired as women. That is, what stimulates them visually is, say, different than men. And that’s okay.

Being a girly girl is okay. I say that as a woman who has always liked “guy stuff” more–Google search metrics pegged me as a 50 to 60 year old man interested in technology and politics.

What bothers me is that to be a feminist, one cannot have traditionally feminine interests without being perceived as “less than”. Who is discriminating again?

If the majority of women like gardening, cooking, home improvement, kids crafts, and fashion, what do I care? Really? Why in the world should the difference bother any other woman?

I suggest the tomboys among us embrace Pinterest. It’s finally a female-dominated social media platform. It’s beautiful in form. It’s aspirational in substance.

Pinterest has the men joining in droves, too. As the demographics even out, categories will probably be added. Why? Because the market demands it.

It’s not discrimination. It’s Marketing 101 in practice.

But really, if men have to submit their boards to categories of the Matriachy’s standards, is that so bad?


My friend Adrienne Royer says this:

There’s so much stupid here, I don’t know where to begin.

1. Pinterest is still in beta. You MUST ASK FOR AN INVITATION. The women who are there are there because they want to be. Pink, lace and pretty houses aren’t being forced down their throats.

2. You’d think a writer at Forbes could do some research. Pinterest was started by a group of guys. Unless these men miraculously understand women better than any XY chromosome in history, the adoption of the site by women was purely accidental.

In fact, Pinterest was started to be an idea board for creative thought leaders. The main founder has a degree in architecture and worked at Facebook. He was into design, typography and photography. He thought the site would take off in the creative class.

The way women have taken to it has shocked everyone, including Silicon Valley.

3. The real story isn’t that Pinterest isn’t forcing the patriarchy down our throats. The real story is that women love social networks, the ability to share information that is vetted by trusted people and the ability to research. The real story is how Silicon Valley is still a boy’s world and women are pretty much shut out. Right now, there are all kinds of venture capitalists scratching their heads and wondering how Pinterest became some popular because none of them ever thought about designing a social network that would draw women.

Why aren’t they harping on that?

Social Media Can Kill Your Job Prospects

Monday, March 19th, 2012

A quick way to kill your job hunting: be an idiot on social media:

One in five technology firms has rejected a job applicant because of his or her social media profile, according to a Eurocom Worldwide Survey.

The annual study had previously found that almost 40 percent of respondents checked out potential employee’s profiles on social media sites, but this is the first year that companies had confirmed that they had rejected applicants based on their digital presence.

“The 21st century human is learning that every action leaves an indelible digital trail. In the years ahead many of us will be challenged by what we are making public in various social forums today,” said Mads Christensen, network director at Eurocom Worldwide.

“The face the one in five applicants disqualify themselves from an interview because of content in the social media sphere is a warning to job seekers and a true indicator of the digital reality we now live in.”

Don’t be a social media dummy. It could cost you.

Via @sistertoldjah

Pinterest: Remember How People Made Fun Of Apple?

Monday, March 19th, 2012

Franklin Center is putting together a new website and I wrote a post for them about Pinterest. Here’s a snippet:

BONUS: Tips for Integrating Pinterest into your journalism:

1. Always have a picture in your post/article. Pictures are the way people search topics on Pinterest. There needs to be an “anchor”.

2. Make the picture in your post relevant and logical. Pinterest, like the internet, is literal. Clever and ironic pictures won’t make sense on Pinterest where no text is visible.

3. Put a Pinterest plugin on your Website. Make sure people can see what you follow.

4. Create a board on Pinterest of your work. People will follow and share your articles this way.

There’s much more at the link, including how Pinterest is the next Apple.

My Hierarchy of New Media: How I Use Social Media These Days

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2012

So many choices, but really, only a few matter.

Too much media? Maybe. More like too much noise and not enough sound.

Since I consume vast amounts of noise and sound, you might wonder what I consider to be the best media and how I take it all in. Or not.

Anyway, media power users have their own methods of choosing, consuming, and digesting media. It’s probably not the same for most people.

Here’s most people: I use Facebook. Also, I check my email. And if I’m savvier than 3/4’s of my friends I Twitter. And Skype to call the kids. Sometimes, if I remember, I use Foursquare. And if I’m kinda diligent, but if I’m the majority (92%) I’m not, I use LinkedIn.

Clearly, that’s not me. Please know that I haven’t actually audited my life. This is just a survey of how I perceive my own use. Reality might have different percents of time, but this is how my mind works when choosing my media.

So, most mornings, I check my email–usually in fear. I hate email. There’s too much of it and no matter how many Gmail filters I create, there’s too much crap. The “Mute” feature has been helpful for all the chains of email I get.

While I’m packing my kids lunches, getting them ready for school, I might check Twitter and fire off a couple RTs of good stories. Because of the news cycle, many journalists have their stories go up early on East Coast Time which is an hour before me. So, if I check things at 7 am my time, it’s still 8 on the East Coast. This is all done on my iPhone, unless I am printing homework or something for the kids at the computer.

Aside: I own a Mac i7, MacBook Air 11″, iPad 1.0, iPhone 4G.

By about 8 most mornings, I’m at my desk. I throw on my Microsoft LifeChat LX-3000 Headset
(doubles as back up microphone for podcasting–I’m looking to buy some sweet cans) and fire up Spotify. I don’t effectively use Spotify–a social music sharing app. I haven’t got my full music library uploaded from iTunes yet. It takes some time that I haven’t made for it. I have followed a couple friends who also use it, but haven’t explored their music choices nearly enough. I get into music ruts and play stuff to death depending on the mood I’m in. Still, Spotify has better sound quality than iTunes (yes, I can hear it). No, I don’t use a media player like this. I don’t even open iTunes, really, unless I want to buy something or upload something, etc.

A note about Spotify. Sometimes I spam my Facebook followers and sometimes, I don’t. Set your listening session to “private” if you don’t want to share it with Facebook, or just don’t link the two.

I check my email again.

I check Twitter again. Speaking of Twitter, I don’t use the native Twitter, I use old-school Tweetdeck v.038.1. No, I haven’t updated. Twitter, who now also owns Tweetdeck, seems intent on committing user interface suicide. They hate their users, especially their power users. I find this irritating. The new Tweetdeck is native and not based on Adobe Air. Air is definitely a resource hog. Still, I’ve heard nightmares about the new version. Other power users use Seesmic. Again, I got in a tech rut and like it.

For those who don’t follow too many people and who like seeing a stream of tweets, but like a pleasant UI, download Echofon Pro for your desktop.

For Twitter on my iPad I use Echofon Pro and for pleasure, use Zite or Flipboard–both fun interfaces that are easier to read. I find that they bring my attention to different media in different ways.

It’s important to keep in mind that with all the customization, we’re limiting our own point of view. If keeping the big picture is your priority, make sure you follow diverse people and keep your interests broad. If you don’t care about having tunnel vision because your social media intake is purely for pleasure, just be self-aware. There’s lots you are not seeing.

Speaking of new versions that suck: Skype did the same thing with their upgrade. So, I roll old-school with Skype, too. I’m using Version Skype is a free internet-based phone and messaging app. I use it almost daily but almost exclusively for my podasts.

After email and Twitter, I hit Pinterest and reluctantly, Facebook (this is variable as I can go days without checking it). On Facebook, I’m still slowly whittling away at acquaintances and trying to only follow people I actually know. This has caused some heartburn, but when I had “friended” 5000 people, I was hating everyone and couldn’t keep up. Am I missing some networking opportunities? Maybe, but at this point, people can find me all sorts of places, so Facebook is going back to its intended purpose for me: keeping up with actual friends.

Pinterest I’m still exploring so I’m spending more time in it. I kind of use an emersion therapy on myself to learn the language of the new media. Pinterest speaks to my OCD, my desire for categorization, and my desire for more relevant search.

For everything but news, Pinterest beats Google and even Twitter by a mile. I don’t like Twitter’s search. Pinterest is visual–humans are visual. It is easier to find a product or something I’m interested in by scanning pictures. Now, my friend Robert Scoble says Storify is better. I haven’t used it yet, but have downloaded it and am starting to play, so I’ll let you know. Pinterest does have some limitations but that’s one of its strengths–simplicity.

If I have clients, I’m checking their stuff everywhere too and monitor it via Tweetdeck. There is no multi-user monitoring device for Facebook. That’s irritating. I’m doing word searches. I’m getting Google alerts. And of course, I’m also making phone calls. Phones: the original technological social media!

If I’m focusing on blogging, I write a blogpost. I use WordPress. I still have my Blogspot blog for backup. I have plugins for YouTube, Facebook and Pinterest. Writing takes uninterrupted time. I try to get my post done and then go check on socmedia stuff again.

If I see patients, well, everything is on hold until I’m not with them.

Google+, the socmedia that Twitter fans love to hate, is still my favorite social media to learn and grow as a person. It all depends on who is curating the content and because I’ve been choosy and kinda anal about how I organize the people I follow, Google+ continues to be my “breath of fresh air” social media platform. It is where I learn new things, therefore I love it.

When I go some place and happen to remember, I check into 4Square. Meh. I check in as I’m leaving because it’s all so stalkerish. It can be helpful when I travel, though. I just don’t care to know that someone is at CVS, nor do I care to share such mundane details.

Perhaps the biggest shift in my new media consumption is to ignore most blogs unless I find the information through another media like Twitter or Pinterest or more rarely, Facebook. I still use an RSS feeder and through Flipboard on my iPad, it’s truly an enjoyable experience. But really, I read blog posts via Twitter or not at all. I am too harried to go from site to site. Ben Domenech, Jim Geraghty (and of course mine) and a few others have good wrap up emails that make my life easier. Most of the time, I am beating Drudge now, in my own Twitter feed. So why go there?

After work, if I can wrest it from my youngest’s hands, I get on the iPad and read, play Words With Friends, play cards, and do home stuff like, and play with Pinterest more.

There is rarely a time when my phone, computer, or some form of tech isn’t with me. It’s simply integrated into my life. With family obligations pressing in at certain points and little time, Twitter because a way to stay involved and continue sharing news without a huge time commitment.

So there ya go. Twitter is easiest and most mobile, thus the ubiquity of my use. People ask how I can tweet so much. It’s everywhere with me and easy to use, so why not?

A Politician’s Quick And Dirty Guide To Social Media

Friday, July 22nd, 2011

Social Media: At least you don’t have to touch people

Google added it’s new social network to the interwebs two weeks ago and I considered writing a post that addresses only Google Plus. Then, I reconsidered. Google + needs to be talked about in the context of everything else out there.

First, a couple overarching principles for every social network:

1. Don’t be a jerk. It should go without saying, and yet…
2. Pretend you’re talking to a person face to face.
3. Nothing can ever be taken back ever. It’s the internet.

One big mistake politicians make is ignoring social media entirely.
A good politician will recognize that most public relations now is done through social media. That is, communication from the pol to his constituents happens on a much greater scale and more quickly and directly via social media. Yes, phone calls, hand shakes and kissing babies still matters and it matters a lot. But the fact is, politics is a lot like church: most folks hear the pastor give the sermon and never interact with him. There are a few true believers in the Amen Pew and they talk to everyone. Social media reaches the Amen Pew. Why wouldn’t a politician have a communications strategy for these true believers (and skeptics)? It’s really short-sighted and yet, many politicians still regulate their social media staff to an after-thought.

Here’s the perspective you should have on Social Media from Gary Vaynerchuk:

My suggestion? Integrate social media with communications. In fact, a comms director who is social media ignorant shouldn’t be a communications director. In the political space, a comms director who doesn’t know the major new media players like bloggers (at whatever level the politician is at) shouldn’t be employed, either.

Social media and new media relations isn’t magical, but it requires work just like it requires work to form relationships with journalists. The lines are blurring and journalism has become more democratic and diverse. A blog can be far more influential to the type of people a politician wants to reach to influence who will then influence the people he wants influenced.

Now, to the social networks.

I’m starting with Facebook because right now, it’s the juggernaut. Here’s a couple of rules.

1. Only follow close personal friends and family on your Facebook account.
This is yours. If you’re not into social media, don’t sweat it. Just don’t do it. There is no harm to not having a personal Facebook account. (This will cause some social media folks to howl, by the way, but my rationale is this: there are so many other social networks with which to engage people. A politician needs to have his real life too. Keep your FB account that life.)

2. Set up a public page aka Fan Page.
If you want this to grow, you have to feed it. Facebook pages are not magical wonderlands where followers just sprout out of nothing. Even the biggest named person has to give something to get something. The Fan Page is a good place to put ALL press releases. It is a good place to get feedback on certain pieces of legislation. It’s a good place to explain your rationale for a decision you’ve made.

3. Interact there.
Facebook has some nice tools for social engagement. You can create events there and schedule them that will invite your fans. You can do nice targeted advertising. You can have more inclusive and cohesive conversations then say Twitter.

All this said, Facebook is my least favorite social media application. Why? They don’t let you easily export your data. It’s clunky. But everyone is there.

Good example on Facebook: Sarah Palin.


1. Be honest about your account.
That is, if you have your own Twitter account, fine, but run it yourself. Don’t know about Twitter and don’t care? That’s okay. A Twitter account can be run by your comms director or whomever you trust, but make clear that the account is being run by that person … or a person other than you. You can also name the account @JoePoliticsNews or some such. That way, people know it’s about you but not necessary from you.

Governor Rick Perry of Texas, for example, has a bunch of accounts. His staff runs one. He has his personal account (puppies!). And there’s an election news one, etc. If you don’t know about Twitter, or are a communications person, follow his accounts to get a feel for how a major politician can use Twitter to interact.

Another example is Mayor Cory Booker of Newark, New Jersey. He interacts. So does Representative Thad McCotter of Michigan. These guys use Twitter and talk to their constituents and anyone else who will listen. There are quite a few pols who do this well.

2. Either follow everyone or follow no one.
Either follow the world (highly recommended) or follow no one. I strongly advise against following porn stars, hookers and underage girls. (You’d think some things don’t need to be spelled out and yet they do.) Twitter clients allow for lists so a politician or his staff can follow journalists and influencers without offending their constituents by not following them. So, my ultimate recommendation is to follow everyone. Just because you follow them all doesn’t mean you have to pay attention to them all. It’s just polite to be friendly.

3. There’s no wrong way to tweet. Oh wait, yes there is..
Here’s some guidelines: Be friendly and helpful but not overly personal. Boundary issues? Twitter is not for you. Be honest and engaging. Every once in a while get into conversations with folks. I’ve asked Representatives and Senators questions and Twitter gives them a good forum to give unspun answers. Sick of the media twisting your words or meaning? Well, judiciously use twitter to tell people what’s up. If you are inauthentic, Twitter will reveal you. It is a social medium. It is also a really good way to provide information and to be a news stream. Use it!

Bad example: Anthony Weiner. Don’t be that guy. Please. Spare us all.

Google +

Intro: You’re asking, What the heck is Google + and why should I care? Google + is a brand new social network created by Google (duh). It is a hybrid of Twitter and Facebook in some ways and a completely new thing in others. Like Twitter as many people as want to can follow you — millions even. Like Facebook, you’re limited about who you can follow to 5,000 people. In addition, of those 5K people, you can organize these folks into circles. Just like real life, Google + allows you put people into categories and interact with them (and only them, if desired) in those circles.

Why do I love Google + for Politicians?

1. Google + lets you tailor messages to the people you want to reach.
Want to tell the whole world about your new legislation? Make that a “Public” message. Want to share a message with key activists, donors, etc? Create circles for them and communicate with them. Want to send out a press release? Create a circle for the press (I have one of about 500 people right now, myself and include bloggers in that circle, fyi) and send the press release that way. And guess what? Those people can communicate back with you easily.

2. Google + allows for this new thing called “Hangouts”.
Hangouts are like a Skype conversation but for up to (for now) 9 people. I say for now, because a business version of Google + is coming out and I’ll bet that they allow dozens if not hundreds of people on a Hangout. We’ll see. But for now, Hangouts would be a wonderful way for a politician to meet with his constituents without leaving the comfort of his office or home. You know those key activists you meet with weekly? How about having a Hangout? You know those donors in five different counties (states)? Meet in a Hangout. You know those key reporters who you want to talk to and don’t want to repeat yourself ten times? Have a Hangout and talk to them. Have a constituent group who is hopping mad about fill-in-the-blank and so much so you worry about your personal safety? Have a hangout and talk about it with people and be safe.

Details about a hangout. Google makes it so that whomever is talking has the camera on them. Anyone can share a YouTube. So, if you’re on the road and your campaign manager wants to show you the latest ad, he can. Links can be shared. The possibility for this tech and politicians is endless.

Here is Michael Dell in a Hangout. He plans to use them for customer service:

3. Google + allows for a great way to share extended thoughts.
More extensive than Twitter. Less static than Facebook. More privacy controls than all of the above. Google + has less limits and yet more controls. This is essential. Newt Gingrich has already had a hangout on Google +. Other politicians are jumping on and trying it out. Early adoption celebrities (who face many of the same security and need-to-connect-with-the-public issues) are really enjoying the medium.

All in all, though it’s early, I feel that Google + has the most to offer politicians. The short coming? While Facebook has 750 million people on it (600 million check it monthly anyway) and Twitter has around 60 million active users, Google + has probably around 15 million … after two weeks. It took Facebook and Twitter years to get that many folks. I predict serious growth right now. Google has 193 million users monthly (as of last November). That’s a lot of people. And even more use Google to search.

Google + integrates with other shared services as well. Unfortunately most government folks cannot use many of these tools, but for real life users they’re valuable and make Google products sticky.

There are other social media too.

Foursquare: Foursquare and Gowalla are location-based social media and useful for politicians who want to tell people where they are.

LinkedIn: Businesses and job seekers use LinkedIn. It’s the mature social network for business types. I haven’t seen a lot of political uses for it other than networking and following people important in the business world.

Are shaking hands, knocking on doors, kissing babies and taking pictures important? Yes. Absolutely. They’re essential especially for lesser known politicians.

Can social media make a huge different in a politician’s scope of influence, connection to constituents, and control of the message? Yes. A million times yes.

Whereas social media was a catch phrase a couple years ago, it’s real life, now. Companies are very effectively using Twitter, for example, to do consumer outreach and conduct customer service. Celebrities are very effectively using Fan groups on Facebook to give followers special deals.

There are so many innovative ways to use social media and yet, at its fundamental level, social media is all about a politician’s stock in trade: influence and talking to people.

Educate yourself. Need some help and training? Worried that the “social media expert” is hosing you? Email me at melissa.clouthier at or call me at 713-306-8867.

Social media is a really fun, direct way to communicate from the comfort of your home and jammies. Why more politicians don’t embrace it, I don’t know. But it is a natural fit for the politics business and the innovations that are coming along will make it even easier to be more efficient with your politicking.

Spring Cleaning & Spring Colors

Tuesday, March 29th, 2011

So, I’ve been wanting to change my website for some time, but haven’t had time to do it. I worked with Ali Akbar for months on and off when we had a chance to chat talking colors and ideas to make my blog look more like “me”. Turns out, I’m rather difficult to pin down.

Finally, though, with the push of another designer, we got here. The guts of the website design are the same and we’re going to add a few things here and there in a bit.

Still, I’m very curious about what you guys think. The colors are very daring. Well, as daring as a website can be. But let’s just say that according this Gender Color Theory, the colors are all wrong. And yet, when I asked people what colors they thought of when they thought of me, they said orange (go figure) and a golden yellow. Many also said pink. These colors are not traditional political colors. They’re not traditional anything colors.

We’ll see.

Also, I’ve been rather quiet here mostly because I’m blogging all over the place and don’t like duplicating content. I’ve decided to make this site more personal and kind of a page where you can see everything I’m up to lately and then go to the links if you’re interested.

Many thanks to Ali Akbar and the designers at Vice & Victory. They do great work. Check them out for political consulting, online stuff and online fundraising.

Thanks also to Daniel J. Summers my long-suffering tech guy. He has been a constant help for two years. I am extraordinarily blessed by the people I’ve met online. Daniel and I have never met in person and yet I trust him completely. New media world, baby! If you need work on your site, you won’t find anyone more knowledgeable, resourceful and reliable.

Your feedback is welcome! Please share your thoughts on the New Look. It was time for some spring cleaning around here.

Armano: You Are The Media. Do You Trust You? Me: Trust Is Topical

Tuesday, February 9th, 2010

David Armano a Twitter friend (we’ve never met, but I value his perspective and suspect I’d like him in person) has a must-read piece about trust in the media. And since we are all media now, who do we trust? His whole piece is worth reading, so please go look at the research, and then come back here for my thoughts.

It’s simple, really. We trust those who we respect, but we respect different people depending on the circumstances.

So, when I ask an opinion about guns on Twitter, I listen to the recommendations given by former military, current CHL instructors who are police chiefs. I could listen to my brother, and I do, he has some valuable insight, but I more heavily weight the expert.

The same is true for nearly every topic. I have a friend who I call when I have a economics questions. I have a friend who knows everything about Texas tax policy. Then there’s the local blogger who knows every dirty nook and cranny of Houston politics.

My brain doesn’t have enough room for all this information. It doesn’t need to have it. I have trusted advisers everywhere who can help me.

When it comes to social media growth, development and research, I trust David Armano. His advice and information over the time I’ve been on Twitter has been solid. Had he flaked out at some point, I’d discard his advice. So far, he’s still reliable.

There are an infinite number of “experts” who are regular people just like me but who have expertise in a slice of information. They become my friends. I value their perspective even more.

Or not. There are some people I don’t particularly like, but they have extraordinary insight in an area and I respect that.

With social media, who qualifies as an expert is fluid. People can observe another’s intellectual implosion online and a once-valued expert becomes a former expert in short order.

Where my opinion conflicts with David’s perspective is this: I may have a couple thousand friends on Facebook and Twitter (which I do) but I won’t trust them just because they give me an opinion. Human interaction is far more nuanced than that.

Just one example: I asked my followers on Twitter to recommend a cake company in Washington, D.C. Five people recommended the same place. But one of my friends recommended that place plus a place that was even better that was near her home. In addition, she said she’d help me pick up the cake. So I Googled both cake shops, called both cake shops, got stellar service from the out-of-the-way place and called in assistance from my friend.

Did I trust all the recommendations? Yes. Absolutely. But I also made my purchase decision based on intangibles and finally, the old business stand-by–customer service.

Social media is a tricky thing to study. It’s not like Google, where every metric can be broken down. It’s more human, more fickle, but the data a user gathers can be infinitely more helpful and accurate. I choose Twitter and Facebook over Google every day. Or rather, I get their recommendations and then Google the filtered information.

I trust my friends. I also verify. And an “expert” is all in the eye of the beholder.

Productivity & Social Media

Monday, October 26th, 2009

Another stupid study about wasted work time and spilling company secrets from the Telegraph:

More than half of office workers use sites like Twitter and Facebook for personal use during the working day, and admit wasting an average of 40 minutes a week each.

One in three of the 1,460 office workers surveyed also said they had seen sensitive company information posted on social networking sites, leading to fears about how workers use the internet.

Philip Wicks, consultant at Morse, the IT services and technology company who commissioned the survey, said the true cost to the economy could be substantially higher than the £1.38bn estimate.

Oh bah. Twitter and Facebook are social. Like the coffee station at work is social. Like the water cooler is social. Like the printer is social. They are gathering places for where people already talk. And everyone talks at work.

The concern with social media isn’t the time, it’s the ability to spread a message. Where office conversations can be like the game Telephone–one message to one person, one by one, and by the end, it’s distorted–social media can multiply a message exponentially. I tell my 10,000 “friends” on Twitter and they tell thousands more of their friends.

Even with this, though, there is a feedback loop. Often, when a message is spread via Social Media, a link goes with the “gossip”. A person who lies, distorts and spreads disinformation can achieve social pariah status pretty quickly. [Exception: Andrew Sullivan] Not so, in an office. The office gossip can be annoying, but most people deal with him or her because the information can be useful and powerful. And even still, these dynamics play out online and offline.

People are people. Work gets mental interruptions almost all of the time. That people take a few minutes for Twitter or Facebook is just another version of the same. Listen, the day that social media loving workers take as much time as those who take smoking breaks, there can be a conversation. In the meantime, bashing social media is just the latest way for bosses to obsess about their worker production.

P.S. There’s a recession. Most people are working very hard to keep their job. The bigger concern these days, I’m guessing, is burnout, not lost productivity. If anything, there isn’t enough play and too much work at work.

H/T TechCrunch

It’s A Dangerous World In Here

Friday, August 28th, 2009

The internet ain’t no place for the innocent. It’s the wild west around these parts, with infrastructure still being built and social feedback loops yet to fully developed. There is little policing, few laws. At times, it can feel like an ominous town, with bad guys sizing you up from under their ten-gallon hat–just waiting for a moment of weakness.

Bad guys don’t have to be quick on the draw on the internet. They can be stupid, unemployed ner-do-wells with nothing better to do than sit around and hassle people. In fact, a big part of the discourse online is just that. People with too much time on their hands hassling people who actually work and produce something.

I have written before that the internet is a place to share information, not hide it, and I wanted to illustrate that with some examples:

First, the not-so-anonymous blogger. There are many bloggers out there who don a nom de plume to hide their identity. America has a very long history regarding pseudonyms. And many people use them online for professional reasons–they have a job or profession where it wouldn’t do to have their opinion known. But online anonymity is an illusion. A determined person or P.I. can find a persons true identity fairly easily.

Example 1: Congressional staffer boinking Congressmen and writing about it.
Example 2: Hacker terrorizing others. (He’s a professional, mind you, and STILL got caught.)
Example 3: All the anonymous asshats cyber stalking Governor Palin.

In all cases, the bloggers were smart. They knew the internet and they were exposed. Word to the wise. If you’re going to be anonymous, know that a controversial topic will likely uncover you.

Second, social media as a weapon. The above folks were using blogs rather destructively, but some anonymous bloggers are constructive and deserve anonymity. Still, it doesn’t take much to uncover someone. People can also use social media to destroy.

Danny Glover recounts how a not-so-sweet mommy blogger stomped her cyber feet:

Extortion has found its way into the blogosphere — and all for a pair of Crocs. A greedy “mommy blogger” at the recent BlogHer conference threatened to write something bad about the maker of Crocs if its representative didn’t find her a free pair of the comfy sandals.

No doubt about it, that’s low. As I see it, there would have been nothing wrong with said mommy blogger bemoaning her missed opportunity to get good swag at the conference. But threatening to go negative as a way to get a gift she clearly didn’t deserve is completely unethical.

The same is true for anyone who uses social media as a weapon. The blogosphere is an effective check against bad customer service, but customers who abuse it are as bad, or worse, than the companies who mistreat them.

It is as easy as a couple clicks to ruin a person’s reputation–or try to. While the vile creatures who spread false rumors and invective about Sarah Palin are now outed and exposed for frauds, Andrew Sullivan continues on his merry way after being as salacious and evil as his online equivalent Perez Hilton. Cruel language can be devastatingly effective as both of these rumor mongers have proven.

Finally, the internet world connects directly to the real world. It is the real world. The notion that there is a separation is an illusion. People assume that those online are somehow more trustworthy–or, that they’re so far away that even if they are kinda bad, they’re harmless. That is not true. Consider this:

U.K. insurance company, Legal & General, took a survey of 2,092 users of social networking Web sites. Almost four out of ten (38 percent) of those who use social media at places like Twitter or Facebook post their vacation plans. Potential burglars could find this information valuable in seeking targets of crime.

The report titled “The Digital Criminal,” said that criminals could obtain vital, personal information from online users of social media.

It is nigh to impossible to hide my own activities. Someone in my family inevitably gives it away. You’re in Michigan?! Where? Or, in the case of my Australia trip, my family didn’t have to write, tweet, Facebook or say anything. I live-tweeted the whole trip. Still, I try to not give away my activities–exact location. I try to have a house sitter. Those sorts of things to mitigate against the dangers.

The internet should be interacted with rationally. It isn’t a magical place. There are people on the ends of the intertubes. They can be bad, good and as mixed as a real life person can be. They are real live people. Even anonymously. Even remotely.

Twitter, Blog Commenting & Doc Weasel: Thy Name Is Parody

Tuesday, August 18th, 2009

I got this comment from my post on Twitter from famed blogger Doc Weasel [language and link warning: he likes using bad words and images might not be safe for work]:

ugh. twitter is for twits, but only because of the fortuitous syllable synchronicity. In reality, it’s for self-absorbed douchebags. There have always been people who think they need to say every stupid thing that comes into their heads: now we have a means to broadcast it immediately to a group of other smug douchebags.

No one is that witty. No one has that many intelligent, important things to say. And I refuse to believe anyone is bettered by reading any of this useless tripe.

Thankfully, it’s a trope so stupid and useless it’s become risible and passe even as it’s booming. I give it another half a year before the sheer idiocy of “tweeting” your own deep thoughts incessantly is reduced to that circle of people who are oblivious to their own pathetic boobery and the well-deserved ridicule of the rest of us.

Blogging and commenting (not excluding this one) brought writing to it’s least well-thought out, unimportant and retarded level. Well, tweeting has managed to reduce writing to the cyber-equivalent of instantaneously disseminating your brain farts far and wee.

Anyone who sends out twitters is a pathetic douche. Anyone who willingly subjects themselves to twitters is a f*cking idiot.

Who is the bigger douche? The writer of the “retarded” post or the douche who comments on the douche-baggy post? One would think a non-douche bag would have more valuable time than to waste it on an unimportant and retarded blog post.

As to the substance, I recommend watching this video:

Like it or not, blogs and social media are here to stay–well, as long as there is electricity, anyway. And last I checked, there are douche bags in real life too, spewing all sorts of nonsense. They’re called co-workers, guys at the bar, and family members. At least on social media, you can filter and block them.