Wednesday, August 18, 2010

All your social media in one spot

Like it or not social media is here to stay

Anyone who has followed the politics of developing democracies will have heard of the term political capture. Now what does political capture have to do with either music in particular or the daily events that make up the music of our lives? Probably not a great deal, though if we were to understand that political “capture” occurs when a dominant person, or group, manages to attain an overwhelming degree of influence in an organization, or in this case a medium in the evolution in communication, then the naysayers of social media were entirely mistaken; because Facebook, one of the many platforms of social media which is just over five years old has grown to the the size of what would be the third most populous country on the face of this planet and one might to want even say that it has a fair amount of political capture in this arena. So to all you naysayers of social media, whether it be Facebook, the short but not always sweet Twitter, the more musically oriented MySpace, professionally inclined LinkedIn or Google Buzz sorry folks, you were wrong! Social media is hear to stay, for better or worse.

For the longest time friends would say to me, let's get in touch on Facebook and I resisted. I didn't resist because I'm not into new technologies or anything that has to do with “social media” it's just I was always looking for those platforms which served my needs from a professional perspective first, followed by my personal interests and communities. As a result, the first social network I was connected to was LinkedIn and it was in the first days of the launch of the site. In fact I was quite flattered when when I got a response somewhere along the following ines from a good friend in the the spring of 2003. “Vasyl you are always connecting people, its so good to hear that you have found a way to do this and make it into a business. I wish you all the best with your new venture LinkedIn!” As you can imagine, I was surprised that a friend thought of me in such a way, that I had developed LinkedIn and that is what I was doing as my job. I sent her a courteous comment back and explained that I was not working at LinkedIn but I was back into my professional area as a librarian, information specialist and maybe journalism would still be there on the side.

Eventually the various social networks platforms that I was using began to grow, some I used more than other and each with their own particular reason. When MySpace was bought by Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation for $580 million in cash some of the naysayers started to come around. In fact at the time of the purchase MySpace had a greater share of the social network than what was slowly growing into the Republic of Facebook. It didn't take a long tome for MySpace to start to drift away from what had attracted me to them in the first place – its focus on music. I always looked towards MySpace for music, new and upcoming indie artists and helped a number of small limited budget artists find their way online through MySpace. Over a year ago some industry insiders were saying that it was time for MySpace to return to its roots.

Picking and choosing the plethora of different social networks that exist was hard enough, including those that are lesser known such as Plaxo which focuses on being your address book wherever you have web access; Friendster one of the oldest social networks; and Orkut owned by Google, which as one of the early Gmail adopters I got an invitation to, though dropped using it for a number of different reasons. While Google has its Buzz now, I am more of passive user and only use it to disseminate information, it was just a little to confusing as these reviews suggest, but it may surprise some of us down the road.

Short and Tweet

While all of the different forms of social media above serve play a role and fill a particular niche for different users there just had to be a way in which to capture a market share of how people used their phones to communicate, and the limit imposed for text messaging developed by Friedhelm Hillebrand. Yes, and it's too bad the old sod doesn't get royalties for every text message or SMS as most of Europe calls them, I imagine he would be quite well off for his retirement if he did. The SMS has a limit of 160 characters and it is not by accident, you will understand, if you digressed to read the previous link about our friend in Bonn.

While text messaging or SMS have 160 characters, along came the short and brief Twitter, which in fact a wonderful 140 character idea. It fit the already developed standard that existed, and cut it by twenty characters in order to give users a name. How considerate of them, you got to love some tech folks. I'm certain that there are plenty of people out there that were saying to themselves: “Why didn't I think of it first!” Sure Google Buzz doesn't have that 140 character limit, but if you can't say in a targeted and pithy way, who is going to read it in our fast paced and often truncated world of communications.

So, here I was faced with something completely new that the director of an NGO I had been consulting for the last ten years had asked me to look into as we were out at his cottage last summer. He said to me, “Bill, I want to better understand and use this social media to make our country and the world a better place, for my children, and hopefully your children in the future!” So I set about in exploring not so much other social media, but tools that would allow an individual to work with a variety of social networking platforms from their desktop.

Yes, I'm not breaking any new speed records in terms of available technologies, but I was searching for something that would not only meet the criteria of being able to handle a number of different types of social networks, but it also had to be able to handle Cyrillic characters. After all I was in Ukraine at the time I had this task before me. After spending a little time at one of the things I do best, researching, I came across a few apps that allowed me to log in to many different social media accounts at once and interact with each of them from a client on my desktop. Sure, someone out there reading this will say, “Ah he's plugging the company!” But I will assure you I have no relationship at all with the makers of TweetDeck.

After first installing the Adobe AIR package which TweetDeck runs on, and always to integrate a number of different elements of contemporary web applications including in the construction of internet applications that use Flash, Javascript and HTML, though this was completely painless operation and in a few minutes I had TweetDeck up and running.

The first thing that concerned me was the Cyrillic support, which unfortunate for them didn't have at the time other applications didn't have. Had they, they would right now be getting the free plug. In the set-up section of TweetDeck which one finds underneath the little wrench (spanner) icon in the upper right hand corner one can find the Settings of TweetDeck. In order to make sure Cyrillic is supported in TweetDeck you open the Settings Option, then the Colors/Font Option and under this option you make sure you select the International Font/TwitterKey option (See picture on right).

Yes, yes, I know, why didn't I deal with setting up accounts first. Setting up each social media account you want to have access to from TweetDeck is a walk through process where you add the account. (See picture below.)

I do recall however that there was one step where I needed to actually set up a TweetDeck account as well, but its been so long ago now I can't even remember what that was like. In any case, once you have your accounts up and running on TweetDeck you should have a panel for each of your accounts. For each of these there are a number of different options you can set up, from frequency of updates to filters on each panel. Below is a screen shot of what my TweetDeck looked like about two weeks ago when I decided to sit down and write on this topic.

Take TweetDeck for a spin, I did and I still use!

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