Tweet in review – October 11-17

This is the beginning of  ‘the tweet in review’, a regular feature on my blog that highlights some interesting, helpful or amusing tweets I’ve read in a given week. Essentially, it’s my twitter notes. Have a look and let me know what you think.

I hope you’ll add to the list.

Week of Oct 11 to 17:

  1. New blogging and social media resource: @ginidietrich Introducing For Bloggers, By Bloggers from @dannybrown
  2. A first glimpse of Google TV: @zaigham_inc Sony Airs First Google TV Commercial
  3. Sometimes, the volume of data that passes before us is a bit daunting. Here’s a 10 month compendium for ’10:  @lorirtaylor 50 of the Best Twitter Guides, Stats, Tips and Tools of 2010 (So Far) –
  4. Has anyone Googled google-ization: @Alltop_Social Amazing List Of Every Google Product And How Much We Depend On Them
  5. Publish books by pressing send:  @caroljsroth Barnes & Noble releases PubIt! Ebook tool. What are your thoughts?
  6. Creation by curation-a new approach to journalism: @jayrosen_nyu One of the most optimistic signs in journalism is the evolution of people like Storify’s Burt Herman

In praise of the iPad

I’ve never been a big fan of Apple products. I tried a Mac a year ago and discovered that maybe I’m not that intuitive. I use an iPod at the gym, but haven’t attempted the sophistication of playlists. I’m a shuffle kind of guy.

I guess that’s my way of saying I never had iPad envy. Sure the device looks good, but I’d struggled with the iPhone’s keyboard and thought iPad would be more of the same. Besides I hate lining up for anything; it’s too much like those old images of Soviets waiting for hours for a roll of toilet paper.

But…all that aside, I saw people I know and respect using iPads, heard them extolling its virtues, exclaiming what a breakthrough device it was. So I succumbed. I put my name on a list and waited. And after I got the email telling me it had arrived, I went to the Eaton Centre bought it, took it out of the box and was immediately struck by buyer’s remorse.

And then, I loaded my first apps (is that also short for Apple?) – Twitter, Linkedin, Facebook, WordPress, Kindle – and each effortlessly appeared. At first, I felt like Neil Armstrong on the moon. I was moving in a direction I wanted to go though it sure felt cumbersome.

Once I stopped looking for the start button and mastered some Apple idiosynchracies, things got a lot better.  Though I’m still not great at selecting and moving text – I opt to retype.

But when @thornley told me about Reeder, the RSS heavens parted. All of a sudden I could catch up and manage my blog feeds in a way I hadn’t been able to for a long time. The interface is fun and functional and the portability of the iPad means I can read them wherever I have a few minutes and don’t have to feel laptop-bound.

Do I need an iPad? Do I need a latte in the morning? Not really. Both are guilty pleasures, I suppose.

I do have to hand it to Apple for taking Internet portability to a new level and coming up with a visual-verbal-content-device. It reminds me a bit of the Moleskin notebook in its utility and minimalist-cool design.

I remember the first time I bought a Moleskin, took it to a cafe and started writing. I felt like a real expat author, even though I was still in Canada and wasn’t wearing a beret.

I get a similar feeling with the iPad. I’m just glad it didn’t come with a hat.

Note: this was written and most of the links added on the iPad WordPress app and then cleaned up with additional links added on a laptop. If anyone can tell me an easy way to add links on the WordPress app, I’d really appreciate it.

Here comes a great read… Clay Shirky book review

Every once in a while you read a book with such fresh ideas, clarity, crisp writing and aha moments that it literally jumps off the page.

I recently had that experience with Here Comes Everybody by Clay Shirky.

For anyone who hasn’t read the book, it’s an essential text that examines social networks from a historical, theoretical and practical perspective; seamlessly interweaving present and past. The author provides a context to better understand the ch-ch-changes unfolding all around us.

Shirky, a consultant and adjunct professor in the graduate Interactive Telecommunications Program at NYU, has a deep grasp of social media and a straightforward way of articulating complex ideas.  He contends we’re in the midst of a communications revolution, akin to the creation of Gutenberg’s printing press. And because we’re enmeshed in it, no one can predict exactly where we’re heading and what new developments we will see.  As an example, he cites the publishing industry and the fact that when the printing press was invented, few could predict it would spawn a bookselling industry and portability of shared knowledge – the parallels with smart phones are not hard to see.

He also talks about professions like journalism and how they’re based on a scarcity of resources. This makes sense. Not too long ago (last year?), all journalists were specialists in their field, employed by media companies (another scarce resource) to present and interpret news.  Along comes social networking and all of a sudden anyone can report news – and does.  We’re not talking about quality or talent or editorial integrity – just the act of reporting.

According to Shirky, the ‘management’ function of the industry has changed. In the past, editors would hear about a story and send a reporter to cover it. These days, it’s hard to find breaking news that citizen journalists haven’t uncovered because they happen to be there and have the technology at hand.

These are just a few of the topics Clay Shirky covers in a book that’s hard to put down, poses questions and challenges us to imagine the future that’s just around the corner.

What happened to Eatons?

Growing up, if someone had told me that Eaton’s would cease to exist, I would never have believed them. The department store was a Canadian icon. It had prime locations in downtowns and malls across the country, produced an aspirational Christmas catalogue, sponsored the Toronto Stanta Claus parade and, in Winnipeg (where I’m from), was the book end of a Portage Avenue stroll that started at the Bay and finished at the venerable merchant.

Yet here it is 2009 and Eaton’s hasn’t been a part of the retail landscape for several years. There are many reasons for that: different shopping needs, complacency, an inability to change.

I thought about Eaton’s after reading Matt Hartley’s article in the Financial Post on Canadian business’s reluctance to embrace online advertising (and I would say the same applies to other social networking opportunities, too).

It made me realize that a lot of what we consider certainties are time (and trend) sensitive. Sure it’s comfortable relying on the familiar. But in business, as in life, innovation, ideas and growth come from risk-taking and knowing when to try something different for a change.

Should a business have a website?

It’s hard to believe that question was seriously debated by companies not that long ago (OK, in the ’90s). There was this newfangled worldwide web thingy and many organizations were just not convinced it was going to last.

I actually worked at a PR agency at the time where the senior partners felt it was too forward for a communications firm to have a website; they didn’t want to give away ‘proprietary’ information like the fact we did media and investor relations.

No kidding!

I even wrote a site for the agency (on my dime) and bartered my hours by doing pro bono work for a design firm who brought it to life. And even when I showed the principals the finished product, it was still shot down (post Y2K, no less). Bitter? Not anymore. But I don’t mind saying the lack of a website put us out of the running for a number of great accounts.

So why do I bring this up? Well, my very good friend, Gini Dietrich, wrote a post yesterday where she convincingly disputes a Newsweek story that contends there’s no value in social network if you’re a CEO.

And it took me back to the fearful, wrong-headed, backward-thinking, anti-internet agency I once worked at – and (thankfully) left.

Granted, change is difficult for many individuals and organizations. But ignoring an emerging trend is worse. Especially when that new technology can help you build and strengthen relationships.

Yes, it’s important to be strategic, think critically, make smart choices, not fall for all the pretty, shiny things. But wouldn’t we, as business leaders, want to embrace meaningful ways of engaging with our customers and actually having an honest and open dialogue with them?

I think CEOs are missing out on many potential opportunities if they’re not listening, understanding and participating in social communities of relevance to their businesses and them.

Who knows what we might learn?

When time is not of the essence

Maybe it’s the slower pace of Victoria Day (a holiday Monday in Canada). But I’ve been thinking about timeliness and how we seem to attach a sense of urgency to many things that may not require immediate attention. (That’s to say some attention is necessary, we just don’t have to jump.)

Certainly in communications and client service, we need to be responsive. And with social media’s ability to spread like wildfire (combined with some folks’ lack of judgement), it seems like there’s a mini online issue that must be dealt with every other day.

That’s the new reality. And we accept it.

However, I was catching up on some blog reading this weekend and tweeted about two posts I found to be smart, insightful and well written: Joel Postman’s thoughts on attribution and Gini Dietrich’s take on being a CEO-entrepreneur.

Both were ‘in the archives’, so to speak, in that they had been published in late April/early May. And I noticed I started my tweets – ‘catching up’ – as if I felt I had to explain my sharing delay. But does that lessen the value of the content? Of course not.

It got me thinking that in our world of Twitter-immediacy, we need to make sure we’re not solely focused on timing at the expense of ideas.

Sure, we’ve always paid attention to things that rise to the top (i.e. news). But, there’s a lot of important and useful information that happens to have been written yesterday, last week, last month, last year… etc.

And that content deserves your attention when you happen on it; when it’s most relevant to you.


That’s something everyone in client service innately understands (or they should be in another business). As a PR professional, we provide our best counsel and then step back to listen and adapt.

However, add a ‘d’ to the word and it becomes compromised. One letter can mean the difference between a consensus and a failure.

I mention this because I got a call from the bank yesterday informing me that my debit card had been ‘compromised’. I thought that was a good way to explain the systematic withdrawal of funds from my bank account. (Don’t worry, I’ve been told they’re coming back.)

However, it also made me think about what I would have said if the situation occurred at home (I was robbed) or on the street (I got mugged).

Even though the outcome (barring physical harm) was the same, the words we choose to describe it tell a very different story.