Facebook listens

After the brouhaha that erupted over the change in Facebook’s terms of reference (TOS), founder Mark Zuckerberg has reverted to the old terms for the time being while the organization works to develop its new TOS.

And this time, they created a Bill of Rights and Responsibilities group, with five clear principles (including an apology for any misunderstanding). They are encouraging users to provide their ideas and feedback as they set out to develop a new version.

As a communications advisor, I’d say they did all the right things quickly and effectively to help restore people’s confidence and their credibility.

– Listened
– Accepted responsibility
– Reached out to their users
– Communicated their principles and commitment
– Apologized

And I applaud them for that.


Something newer

Earlier in the month, I wrote about a job seeker who sent me a snail mail resume and cover letter addressed: ‘Dear Sir/Madam’. Thanks again for all your thoughts.

Today, we received another note I wanted to flag (again for the wrong reasons).

It was addressed to the principals of three separate agencies, but all were listed in the ‘To’ line of one email.

Now, I’m sure a ‘multiple submission’ wasn’t her intention, but it reminded me of the Hollywood agent’s trick to spur a bidding war.

My business partner, Louise, sent her a polite and pleasant note thanking her for her interest and suggesting that, in future, she may want to reconsider the group application approach.

Everything that’s mine is Facebook’s

Facebook has altered its terms of service and the wording indicates that it will now own all of the content people post – in perpetuity. The change has generated a lot of disgruntled comments on Twitter and in the blogosphere here and here. And it’s easy to understand why.

I’m not a big Facebook user but I think that signing away all rights to your ‘friends’, photos, ideas, thoughts and intellectual property is probably not a smart idea. That said, I won’t be cancelling my account anytime soon and I’m sure many people will feel the same.

After all, Facebook is a wonderful platform to connect with people, chat with them, share moments of your life.

Mark Zuckerberg defends his position on the Facebook blog. Trust us, he says. We’re good people. And I have no reason to believe otherwise, except for the fact that as a CEO he needs to protect his company’s rights.

But, as individuals, we have our rights to think about, too.

I wonder about the ramifications for businesses and organizations with FB groups which have their own sets of copyright and intellectual property rules (not to mention lawyers) to contend with. That should make for a good long legal debate.

I can’t begin to speculate on the answer.

But it seems to me there’s a difference between sharing and a giveaway. And, however, mundane, I don’t want my life’s minutiae assigned to someone else (that sounds a bit like an Albert Brooks comedy plot).

To me, this IP grab is like visiting a store and having the retailer ask you to hand over all your personal belongings when you leave.

It will be interesting to watch how Facebook deals with the fallout, what the outcome will be and how it will affect all of us in the long run.

New Toronto in Old City Hall

I first met Bobby Rotenberg around the time he launched T.O. magazine, an upstart, edgy city publication I had the pleasure of writing for, a long time ago. Since then, I’ve bumped into him from time to time and reconnected when we found out our kids go to the same school.

He mentioned that he’d written a novel (his first), slated to come out in early March 2009 and offered to send me a copy.

So when Old City Hall arrived, I read it right away. The book is a stylish, witty page-turner. Crime fiction that centre’s on Canada’s best known, craggy talk radio host. It starts when Kevin (I want to say Peter) Brace confesses to murdering his wife in their luxury condo, and then says nothing more. With its sharp twists and turns, you’re taken on an investigative journey that surprises and entertains. The characters play against stereotype – Jewish homicide officer, lawyer turned cop, new Canadian crown attorney – and offer a new perspective on the formerly bland and conservative safe haven Toronto used to be.

The prose is stylish, the dialogue fresh and the cast are a quirky and believable mix of the people you’d see living and working in Toronto today; a reflection of our coming-into-its-own metropolis.

Bobby has combined his love of T.O. (i.e. the magazine) with his work as a criminal lawyer to offer both a superb story, and a wry commentary on the city and its foibles; its inner workings; what makes it tick.

And that is an extra gift.

Look for Old City Hall in March at your local bookseller or online here.

On Twitter and tweeting*

*’Tw’ pun alert…

You may have noticed I’ve experienced a twepiphany recently and have been a lot more active on Twitter. And looking back to my first tweets, it feels like I’ve had to pass through a number of stages to get here.

I started out as reluctant, moved on to critic, window shopper, wader and now full-fledged user (with my Twitter ID appended to my email signature).

And, as a user, I thought I’d share some of the things I discovered along the way:

  1. Start slowly and experiment. But be aware that you’re broadcasting so please use good judgement. Sure no one’s perfect and you may end up looking like an idiot on occasion. But that’s part of the process (at least it was for me).
  2. At the beginning, find a few people you know or twust and follow them. Don’t pick too many or you might feel overwhelmed. You can add more later (see number 8).
  3. Try not to feel too guilty if someone follows you back before you post your first tweet. No one’s expecting a proclamation.
  4. Find your twitsonality – your Twitter personality, tone and voice. Be yourself and be authentic. And have something to say.
  5. Don’t just tweet and run. Stick around for a few minutes and take part in the conversation.
  6. Sometimes you only have time to browse and click and that’s OK too.
  7. Remember you have a day job.
  8. Most important: it’s all about the people you’re following! That’s been my biggest revelation. Some of the folks I know personally. Others, I’ve met via my blog or tweets. But they’re all smart, funny, informative, energetic, insightful, helpful and entertaining. It takes time to find the right people to follow, but it’s worth it.

Let me end with a warning before you take a big gulp of Koolaid. Twitter is fun and, once you’ve been bitten, it can be addictive. Try to make sure that you’re remain user and don’t fall into substance abuse. (We all know where that leads.)

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to log into Tweetdeck to see what I’ve missed.

Something old

In today’s mail, amid the bills, solicitations and magazines, I noticed something a bit odd: a plain envelope, hand-lettered and with a name I didn’t recognize on the return address.

My interest was piqued so I opened it. Inside was a note with the generic salutation, ‘Dear Sir/Madam’, and a resume. Both were printed on faux antique stock. I was somewhat taken aback.

I decided to give them a quick read, and when I finished I thought, now what? I felt as though I’d received a quaint relic from the past that was interesting for nostalgia sake but otherwise of very little use.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I have used Canada Post to send a variety of correspondence…in the past. But it’s 2009! Why would someone trying to break into PR choose a communications vehicle that positions her as seemingly out of touch? And why would she not take the time to find out who I am before contacting me?

Joe Thornley said it’s important for young people who want to enter our profession to build relationships online. I completely agree. Many of us are very accessible here (read our blogs, find us on Twitter, Linkedin, etc.).

Reaching out to us virtually (without stalking, of course) is a good way to get to know us and get us to notice you.

It can also demonstrate your intelligence, personality and understanding of the latest tools. And then you’ll be one step up when we meet in person.

Introducing the Twittionary

Is your head swimming from the seemingly endless stream of Twitter puns, apps, widgets, programs and…you name it?

Mine is.

So much so that last week, I half-jokingly suggested we need a Twittionary.

Well, the more I thought about it the more I felt this might be a useful tool; presented as a Wiki (Twiki?) so it could be kept up to date. I figured it could be a good weekend project (to take my mind off shoveling snow).

I did a search and found the term had been coined last fall by Shannon Yelland in her comprehensive post. I contacted Shannon and asked if I could use her material as a starting point and she graciously consented.

And so… I’d like to introduce Twittionary – an unofficial glossary of all things Twitter.

Bear in mind this is a ‘twork-in-progress’ and needs your help to keep it current.

If you get a chance, feel free to browse, look things up, add/edit/correct, join the community and pass along info about the site to keep our collective twocabulary growing and fresh.

(BTW, you’ll notice that unlike traditional dictionaries, there’s an overabundance of entries under ‘T’.)

I’d be interested to hear what you think.