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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, get more likes on TikTok.

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, look for tips about how to be great at growing your business.

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.

Reclaiming the Rolodex

Facebook is the new RolodexI’d like to talk about the statement to the left, made by Brian Devine via Twitter yesterday morning. (I should mention that it caught my attention when it was forwarded by Jonathan Rick, who, in case you’re wondering, I met in person first and then connected with online.)

I completely agree with Brain: I do believe that Facebook and other online networks – loosely defined – such as LinkedIn and Google have become the contact management systems du jour.

The problem, and what worries me, is that we, as individuals, had full control of the data in our Rolodexes of yesteryear. We chose when to add, when to remove, when to edit contacts. And that Rolodex was ours to keep, save any unfortunate circumstances (I’m thinking natural disasters here), for as long as we wanted no matter where we went.

Now, we are at the mercy of these companies. For example, I use Google Contacts to stay in touch – by e-mail and phone – to friends, family, colleagues, and former classmates around the world. But let’s say that Google decided one day without warning to stop supporting that feature? I would be left with no numbers or emails addresses for any of my closest contacts. And, at least with Google Contacts, I am able to export all the data I’ve inputed into the system and take it to another provider or save it on my comptuer (or another location) for safekeeping.

Neither Facebook (nor LinkedIn nor MySpace) allow anything of the sort. (It should be noted that Facebook, in its infancy, did have this feature enabled. With its epic growth, however, I think Facebook thought that for privacy reasons, enabling users to exports the contact information of other users they connected to through the site could be dangerous.)

Where does that leave us? What happens if our account were to get hacked or accidentally deleted? I’m sure many of you shudder at the thought of losing all those connections (and pictures and videos and messages and everything else that’s now contained within the site).

When I said this all to Jonathan (in less than 140 characters!), he replied: “Since we all use Facebook voluntarily, if we disagree with the Terms Of Service, then we should stop“. He has a good point. BUT – because that’s where the majority of our contacts are active, we miss out by not participating in the service. So, we’re stuck in between a rock and a hard place since there’s not much we can do, is there?

I can’t offer a solution (other than to reiterate how important backing up and creating copies of such information truly is) but I do continue to hope that in this era of collaboration, Facebook as well as other services can find a balance between user privacy, a competitive advantage and allowing users to own and manipulate their data in a suitable manner.

Definitive Social Media Aspect of 2008?

On his blog, Tom Raftery contemplates what Social Media will be defined by as we look back at 2008…

According to him, in 2004 we had blogs, 2005 brought audio podcasts, followed by video podcasts in 2006, and finally, 2007 was the year of microblogging.

He asks: “We are in November now of 2008 and I still don’t see any big transformative Social Media technology which has occurred this year. Has it stalled? What am I missing?”

This got me thinking… and I have two very different answers:

1. I disagree that 2007 was the year of microblogging. I would counter that 2007 was the year of the social network, with Facebook opening its doors to the general public in late 2006, and the continual growth of other sites like MySpace and LinkedIn.

That being said, I think 2008 could be the year of microblogging. It seems that everyone and their brother (and their brother’s business) has become a Twitter member, and the role of the site in the recent tragic Mumbai terrorist attack highlighted the platform’s reach and influence. And when Facebook comes knocking, to the tune of $500 million, and YOU TURN IT DOWN, you know you’re doing something right

2. Okay, so I know that I just told you that Twitter was the IT thing this past year, but there’s the thing, I don’t think it’s hit its peak yet… All though it has become a central part of my world, and probably yours, it still hasn’t been fully embraced by the public as a whole.

Given that, I really think that apps will be social media’s legacy in 2008. Seriously.

Think about it: Apple unveiled its app store for its iPhone, Facebook has been inundated with its app add-ons, and even LinkedIn has jumped on the bandwagon.

Companies realized that doing things the closed-off, aloof way is just sooo 2007. Instead, 2008 brought a spirit of openness and partnership… or at least the realization that it might be worth it to disclose some proprietary knowledge so that developers, both amateur and professional, can learn your product, become an evangelist, and help your site extend its capabilities — for free! Pure genius.

So there you have it. That’s my take.

Now it’s your turn: What do you believe to be the definitive social media aspect of 2008?