Twitter Admits Reliability Is Valuable?

Did I read the last two posts on the Twitter blog correctly?

They stated “You may have noticed we had an outage last night/stretching into this morning,” but instead they should have admitted that their service in the past few days has been intermittent at best.

On the heels of this, they then began today’s post with “We have a stated goal to make Twitter a reliable global communication utility. ” Really? Are they serious?

They have to know their service glitches have been lampooned in the blogosphere, and their credibility has seriously eroded as being a reliable (aka business-able) communication and microblogging (liveblogging?) tool. Many of us have started to rely on Twitter as a communication tool (via Web, BlackBerry, a whole host of applications, etc.), using it from everything from liveblogging to self-marketing and branding.

I know whenever I tell colleagues and friends about Twitter, the platform sounds so silly until I show people how it works and how I use it. Now, I really love Twitter. I like how my Tweets get archived daily on my own blog. How I am able to join a new organization and suddenly begin to have other people interested in reading my daily Twitter musings.

I really hope Twitter becomes more reliable. While this all this costs money, is there enough financing coming in to create and maintain the very reliability we all expect? 

Liveblogging 101

Our long-awaited presentation we are doing at this year’s Northern Voice has finally appeared on their website. As an all-volunteer conference, I really appreciate all the work and efforts the organizers are giving to make this year’s personal blogging and social media conference a success.

My session will be on Friday, February 22, 2008, from 14:00 – 14:30 (2:00-2:30pm) in a new track–Internet Bootcamp. Entitled Liveblogging 101, it is meant to introduce newbies to liveblogging.

As a technologist and qualitative researcher, I am really interested in how liveblogging is an act of involvement and participation. It is not a narrative of the events–that is stenography. It is an interactive co-creation of the event itself from the perspective of an active participant. This in fact summarizes what my blog title, Silence and Voice, is all about. With liveblogging, the silence is ended as participants take up and use their own voices to record the event as they experience it.

Liveblogging:  Unfiltered. Raw. Authentic. If you want it nice and neat, buy a book.

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Twitter in the Classroom

twitter It is nice to see some college classes making use of current technologies that are all the rage in the private sector and amongst early-adopters. It is another thing for a professor to formally integrate this by having students sign up for their own accounts.

Such is the story in the recent article in The Chronicle of Higher Education, where a professor uses Twitter to interact with his students. Thankfully I saw this article in my newsreader on the Twitter blog. While I applaud the effort, it will be wonderful when non-technology or media faculty begin integrating these technologies into their syllabi for their educational value alone, even beyond the technical “wow” factors. This is a wonderful start, and reminds me of when I taught high school years ago and began using email with students to review for exams and work on assignments back in 1997. How times have changed.

I wish I would have tried this with my class that just ended. It would have been great to discuss current news stories, share ideas about upcoming assignments, and even debrief what was learned. This debriefing is where I believe much learning is done, yet it is the connection between what happens in the classroom and how that gets realized in life that formally gets overlooked in the race to “do the assignments.”

I would be happy to speak with any of my former students via Twitter.

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Target Does not Care About Bloggers?

It seems bloggers are not welcome shoppers at Target.

One of my colleagues at NYU Stern pointed out a disturbing article that is fit for a discussion within a communications course. Today’s New York Times reported that Target snubbed a blogger from Shaping Youth who complained to the retailer about its seeming insensitivity to women in one of its current ad campaigns. Rather than provide an informed and sympathetic response to this audience of concerned shoppers, Target appears to have replied that it does not communicate with new media.

Huh? With all the edgy commercials and friendly feel of its stores that it tries to promote, it seems customers who question innuendo within its advertising just do not matter. With all the work and cost involved in television media advertising, is there such a thing as an accident or something that is not planned? Doesn’t the Target symbol of a bulls-eye have several connotations? Since when is it good policy to offend your customer audience and then not want to discuss it? Smells like a potential public relations nightmare. Doesn’t Target realize how online communication can spread in ways far more widespread than traditional, static media?

Too bad my Business Communication course just ended yesterday, as we could have had a field day with this one!

PowerPoint Slides Need Message Titles

One of the communication items I stress with my students is that PowerPoint slides require Message Titles, not Topic Titles. The difference? A message title tells the audience what to think, believe, do, or say as a result of your slide or presentation. Don’t just tell them the topic and allow them to draw their own conclusions, whatever they may be. If you have gone through all the work of gathering your message and are preparing to deliver it to an audience, you must have some point you want them to take away, something you want to persuade them to do or think, of even inform them that your vision of a situation is the most accurate one. To help them with this process, tell them by embedding your message or point in the slide title. When presenting, leave as little to chance as possible.

I started thinking about this with Garr Reynold’s post today about Bill Gates, where he compared a slide presentation from Bill Gates to one by Steve Jobs.

Bill Gates’ slides are overwhelming in content, the colors look dark and dreary, and as I scan the slides, I have no idea what main message (point? take-away? idea? belief? action?) he wants his audience to leave with. Granted, I am a huge fan of the business prowess of Bill Gates, and he undoubtedly said some interesting and challenging things while presenting, but I was not at the conference. I only have the slides, and reviewing them now does not help me at all. If anything, it has the opposite effect–what is he talking about? When they get printed and/or electronically distributed (as is happening here and at countless desks around organizations), they lose their meaning. That is not what a communicator wants.

Steve Jobs’ are clean, straight-forward, and more compelling. They follow what Seth Godin suggests with minimal text on slides so they help to reinforce the speaker’s message. Great for the audience that is there, perhaps, as long as they are primarily auditory learners. However, I have another reservation here–I was not in the audience at the time, and while the slides may indeed reinforce the presenter, that doesn’t do anything for me. Is Steve suggesting Apple is aiming at all-in-one? They have already achieved it? They want to ultimately sell only one all-in-one product? I am not sure. Once again, without message titles, I am clueless and left to my own thoughts.

Yes, presentations still have that “had to ‘been there” quality. BUT, as social media changes the way we work, it is also having an effect on how we communicate and consider the primary and secondary audiences we face. Message titles, even if they are just scattered through a presentation with the other slides filled with images and other engaging devices, will definitely help the various audiences far into our digital futures.

If only Amazon will hurry up with the delivery of Garr’s book Presentation Zen!