Tag Archives: instant messaging

An Interview on New Media (Part One)

I was recently interviewed by Alexa Lee of The Daily Universe, Brigham Young University’s student newspaper, for an article she was writing about twentysomethings who are successful at using new media as business ventures. I have provided a sneak peak of the article below.

(Please note: This is the first in a three part series – for the next two weeks I’ll post an additional questions that I was asked along with my answers.)

What got you started in new media?

I’ve always been an early adopter of technology and have found the internet to be a powerful place to connect with people in my offline social circle as well as to expand my network by finding people around the world who share the same interests – both personally and professionally. That being said, for me, exploring new media was a natural progression of trying online tools as they emerge. First it was instant messaging, then blogs, RSS feeds, social networks, etc.

Why do you think people use new media, why do you use new media, how do you use new media?

I think that people use new media for all the same reasons people use traditional media. These reasons include staying up-to-date on current events, connecting with friends, all sorts of research, etc. The fundamental concepts are all the same, it’s just that the tools have changed.

I use a variety of online tools to strengthen and to expand my network. Using Facebook and LinkedIn, I stay in touch with classmates, colleagues and other contacts I’ve made along the way. Through Twitter, I discover people with similar interests in my area and around the world and have immediate access to world changing events as they happen. Each site, in its own unique way, enables me to connect with thought leaders to create a community of professionals sharing resources and ideas, and that is truly empowering. Finally, my website serves as my online epicenter where all my online interactions come together. The blog I have there allows me to document my life and share my views.

My First Rule of GChat

HAVE A QUESTION ABOUT GCHAT? My “Answers to Common Questions About Gchat” post may be helpful to you.

GChat Status Let me start by saying this. If you are still using Hotmail or Yahoo or any other type of web-based (or even worse: non-web based!) program that is not Gmail, finish reading this post and then go SIGN UP!

Google is one of those companies of which I am truly in awe. (Facebook, Twitter, Apple, AIM, are others that come to mind). Google’s products have COMPLETELY revolutionized our lives. Gmail, Google’s web-based mail application, simply BROKE THE MOLD and shifted the way we think about e-mail communications.

The first example of Gmail’s uniqueness I can think of at the moment is the threaded conversation feature, which has made it easier to follow the life of an e-mail. And the second is its chat feature within the mail client.

In fact, GChat is to this second era of the internet what American Online and American Instant Messenger were to the first. (And, as I wrote in October, it has helped bring about the convergence of our offline and online identities.) People you e-mail a certain number of times get added to the list of people you can chat with. And there are different ways to alert those people to your availability: you can be available to talk, idle if you’re away from the computer, ask people not to message you if you are busy and, lastly, you can “go invisible”. This last status allows you to view and message your contacts without allowing them to do the same.

In the past few weeks I’ve had several experiences which have led me to the creation of my first rule for GChat: I do not talk to those who have made themselves invisible. Why, you ask?

To begin, I consider myself to be a compassionate and loyal friend who stands by and supports the people she cares about. And, truly, I expect nothing less from the people that I allow to be a part of my life. Yes, those words were chosen carefully – being a part of my life and commanding my friendship are privileges.

When someone is “invisible” it means that they can contact me if they need me, but I can’t contact them to do the same. It ruins any chance at a reciprocal relationship which makes it inherently selfish. And that’s the sort of thing that I just can’t tolerate from those around me.

Listen, folks, I know it seems like such a trivial thing to get caught up in, but I think it’s a small thing that reflects a person’s general personality and that’s why it bothers me.

But, let me turn it over to you. How do you feel about “invisible” people on GChat? Do you yourself have rules for GChat?

HAVE A QUESTION ABOUT GCHAT? My “Answers to Common Questions About Gchat” post may be helpful to you.

Struggling with Facebook Statuses

I have recently been receiving quite a bit of traffic to this website from those who have specific questions about Facebook functionalities. If YOU are one of those people, I am more than happy to do my best to answer your question. To do so, simply submit it here.

If you’ve talked to me lately, you’ve probably heard about my frustration with Facebook status updates.

When the updates were first added as a Facebook feature during the Spring of 2006, the site was still only open to those with .edu addresses.

In fact, I distinctively remember first discovering status updates. I accidently put “Julie is Jeff’s” rather than “Julie is at Jeff’s” as one of my first statuses. They were that new that it was before I instinctively translated my thoughts into third-person snippets and formatted them to fit the “Julie is…” standard. I didn’t catch the error until Jeff pointed it out to me. And I remember being hugely embarrased by my Freudian slip. But I digress…

In the Spring of 2006, Facebook was still unknown to the general public and only used by college students. Status updates were to social networks what away messages had been to Instant Messaging services… And users weren’t afraid to push boundaries and include “not-for-adult-eyes” content since, well, there weren’t any adult eyes to see it.

But, here we are, three years later, and the landscape of social networks has obviously changed. Our safe playground is no more.

Currently, my status updates can only be seen by my “wide inner circle”… I’m still defining what that means, and I promise it’s the subject of a half-written blog post on Facebook privacy, but let’s just say that these are the people who are my “friends” and/or my high school and college classmates. Family members, colleagues and professional contacts compromise the majority of those excluded. Now, let’s be honest, as someone whose profession is the mastery of social media, I understand the consequences associated with anything created online – whether it has been restricted to certain users or not. As a result, my updates have evolved to be, for the most part, pretty benign. But I still don’t think my colleauges need to know when I’ve had a late night out and am struggling to keep up in the morning. (Not that I do that… frequently.)

Facebook Status Update

But, by restricting these updates, I’m effectively limiting the power of Facebook since the focus of the site has shifted to exactly this feature  in the latest redesign. And the whole thing is compounded by the fact that Status and Shared Link privacy is a single control (also the subject of an upcoming blog post). Everyone who can’t see my statuses also can’t see my shared links. Let’s take a step back and think about this – a lot of the content I’m sharing on Facebook is local, since that’s what affects my daily life. Now, guess which of my Facebook contacts would benefit most from this content? Would it be the high school and college classmates who have now scattered all over the country, or would it be my colleagues and professional contacts who are DC-based? You see what I’m getting at?

So why not just give in, realize that Facebook has evolved, and open up my status to everyone? Well, because, that’s not how I’ve chosen to use Facebook. Instead, that’s how I leverage the power of my Twitter account. I use Twitter primarily in a professional capacity, sharing useful links and remembering that I must be well-behaved and well-spoken at all times. My Facebook friends DON’T CARE about developments in my industry. They want to know what’s happening in my personal life – presicely the information that my professional contacts don’t need to see…

What it comes down to is that I’m struggling, as is everyone else, to find a balance between managing my personal and business contacts. And when things are so interwoven (since you can bet that everyone in the Social Media space is on Facebook), things aren’t so easy.