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Category Archives: Social Networks

Sometimes technology is NOT the answer

You might be surprised to see me talk about this topic here.

Though I’m a computer and technology advocate, (and teacher) I do make jabs at tech. Technology is meant to serve us, not the other way around. I’ve lately seen how completely ridiculous Instagram has become as pre-teens overrun the space. Classic example: a handful of 11 and 12 year-olds at a party, sending each other status updates. From within the same room!

I thought this was an age thing, until I read this thought-provoking piece titled “Technology is Not The Answer : A Student’s Perspective.” It was published in Education Week in October this year.

By a high-school junior.

He cites cases of why students need to develop personal relationships, and not just on-screen button-pushing skills.

Back to Instagram.  This is how WikiHow recommends how to gain followers.

Like and comment on pictures. Once you start following some people, take some time to Like and comment on their photos. Not only will this make the other person feel good, but other people may see your name or comment and check out your profile. If you stay active, this can lead to a steady stream of new followers.

It’s all about making others feel good?

It may be time for schools to require any student who has a phone in their backpack to  take a digital literacy 101 lesson. Maybe this is harsh, but some parents need this too.

If you don’t believe me:

  • Google the words Instagram, stupid, and people and check out sites such as damn cool pictures.
 
 

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The Internet of Things – Cool or Creepy?

Just putting the final touches to an article on the biggest, hyped concept –the Internet of Things.

It’s not difficult to grasp what this is supposed to mean –after all the Internet as we know it is nothing more than a collection of billions of things such as servers, routers, ATMs, satellites, and devices that send and receive data.

But I came across a few interesting ways this IoT space is developing, sometimes in a quiet, boring way. By invitation, or by accident we subscribe to (and nurture) the Internet of Things. Not many people have heard of the use of Near Field Communication (NFC) by some hotel chains in (get ready for this…) bed-sheets and pillowcases! Soft, fluffy things, in other words, can provide data.

Sure, in the post-WikiLeaks world, many of us are extremely skeptical about where this data will end up. There’s a bumpy spot in our passport cover that I am told is an embedded device. It is one of those ‘things’… But what about biometric wristbands? How about license plates with RFID tags?

You would be surprised what people surveyed (by Pew Research) have said about what to expect.

 
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Posted by on December 15, 2014 in Hype, Social Networks, Technology

 

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Texting Vs Talking – Another View

My son was home for a few days, and his cell phone died.

The world didn’t evaporate into a mushroom cloud. You see, not being connected doesn’t faze him. “My friends all know that I don’t respond to texts immediately,” he replied when I asked him if it found  that not having a phone for a week caused him any problems. It made me wonder if Milennials have reached the turning point of incessant texting.

Just a few years ago, this was what we were hearing about 18 – 24 year olds.

  • 43% of 18-24 year-olds say that texting is just as meaningful as an actual conversation with someone over the phone (2010 eMarketer report)
  • More Millennials (than members of any other generation) use their phone for texting. (Pew Research)

What if people stopped staring at their phones and actually spoke to you? Would that creep you out?

What if people stopped sending you links to stupid cat (or anti-whatever) videos, and actually called you to chat?

 

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Update on my book: “Chat Republic”

It’s official, and I’m now ready to announce the title of my book, which is in its final stages.

It’s called Chat Republic.

Angelo Fernando, Chat RepublicI’ve been covering the intersection of technology and business; technology and culture for more than 18 years. More recently, I’ve focused on digital media and our social media-centric lives, and I wanted to put my ideas into perspective.

Chat Republic is more than a fictional country. It’s about the spaces you inhabit.  Those online and offline communities you move in and out of: conference rooms, Google Circles, IM lists, Facebook, online forums. I think of it as a ‘country’ whose fluid borders take the shape of a giant, invisible speech bubble.

The conversations and opinions pouring in and out of our republic, in real-time, are what make our communities more civil, more vibrant. Our chats are certainly not friction-free! But absent these conversations we would be one dimensional citizens, won’t we?

As of today, I am planning to launch the book in two time zones, in June.

Some specs:

  • 25 Chapters – Divided into 3 sections
  • Case Studies from the U.S. and Asia
  • Interviews with non-profits, tech companies, activists, chief execs, editors, citizen journalists, PR consultants, podcasters, government officials

More information here at ChatRepublic.net

 

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Online Privacy for the rest of us

If you didn’t see the blackout yesterday in protest of the Online Privacy Acts going through the House of Representatives and Senate (known by their acronyms SOPA and PIPA) it’s time to pay attention.

It won’t be trampling on the Wikipedias and the Facebooks of this world alone. Google, Reddit, and Craigslist, WordPress, Mozilla, and O’Reilly also protested the acts.

As Shel Holtz rightly noted in a great insightful piece, SOPA threatens much of the content residing on websites of organizations “as long as it resides on a .com, .org or .net domain. All it takes is for a user to upload a video, a photo or a presentation that violates someone’s copyright—even if it’s someone singing a cover of a song at a party—and under SOPA, Internet service providers could be ordered to block the domain name.”

Even those involved in advertising and SEO work.  Even Higher education! Syracuse University’s School of Information Studies, according the ReadWrite Web.

I just submitted an article for publication on infographics, so this one caught my eye. It summarizes the issue well. But…. does that mean this blog too could come under scrutiny by the SOPA police?

If you care about having your voice heard, you can sign the petition here.

Updated: The House of Representatives statement on the blackout, says that this was a Wikipedia ‘publicity stunt.’ In a press release (responding to the claim that some organizations had dropped their support of SOPA) it stated that ““Contrary to critics’ claims, SOPA does not censor the Internet.”

 

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Dealing with downtime in an always-on world

This is my column in LMD Magazine, published in March.

LMD Magazine - Blog Buzz - Angelo FernandoConsidering all the time we spend online trying to be productive, it maybe a good idea to think about what we might do with our downtime when we are offline – off the grid, so to speak. I come across plenty of discussion on this, where people – especially in HR divisions – wrestle with the concept of that work-life balance.

Some make a case for there not being a work-life balance as such, because work and life have collided and the two aspects of life can’t be easily pried apart. In other words, a work-life imbalance is more the norm!

And if you buy this, you will most likely agree too that there is no difference between online and offline.

You are in a nice quiet restaurant with your family, but pull your Blackberry out every few minutes to check on the incoming stream of emails and texts. Your kid may ask to play with the iPhone… and before you know it, you’re forwarding a YouTube video to a friend.

Or you are relaxing on a towel on the beach, but feel compelled to snap into citizen-journalist mode and take a picture of some dude and upload it on to Facebook. Or if you’re into status updates, you ‘check in’ to a location using Foursquare, even if there’s no apparent benefit.

Faced with this magnetic pull, and the urge to be online while you are offline every moment of the day, where do you find that elusive downtime?

While driving? Forget it! They may have been one of the few insulated spaces in which you could happily be off the grid in the days gone by, but cars are now coming with smart dashboards to help us stay connected.

One company, Hughes Telematics, is working on ‘in-dash applications’ that will keep drivers updated on a slew of communications or travel-related news and issues. These include Twitter integration, iPhone controls for passengers who want to change the music, check the pollution index outside or cite emissions data… and so on!

Another company, Visteon, has the ultimate iPad in-car device. It’s a docking station with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth that turns your iPad into a second dashboard to help you interact with the vehicle’s electronic controls. This could include engine information, GPS directions or the ability to pull in external information such as web radio… and even make phone calls!

This so-called ‘embedded connectivity’ could make for smart driving… or make it highly distracting for the man or woman at the wheel, depending on your perspective.

BRAIN POWER.
Few like to venture into this area for fear of being branded as Luddites. But sometimes it’s good to hit that ‘pause’ button, and wonder just where we are going with so much technology in our lives.

A recent study on downtime by the University of California points to how brains function better when they break away from constant activity. “Almost certainly, downtime lets the brain go over experiences it’s had, solidify them and turn them into permanent long-term memories,” says Loren Frank, Assistant Professor at the university’s Department of Physiology.

Learning, he contends, diminishes as a result of non-stop stimulation. About two decades ago, many spoke of ubiquitous computing as a good thing. Computer devices would become so embedded in human environments that we would not need to enter ‘machine environments’ to engage with them.

CONVERSATIONS
It is very easy to make fun of teenagers who can’t stop texting, even while they are spending time ‘alone’ with a certain someone. But the truth is, adults are getting far more addicted to digital tools, to the point that it’s impossible to get them to pay attention to the real – as opposed to the virtual – situation.

Sometimes, this even distracts us from large physical objects that are in front of us. A hilarious example of this is captured on video, where a girl fell into a fountain at a shopping mall while she was busy texting (if you want to watch this, just Google the words in the previous sentence!).

Texting in church used to be disallowed, since mobile phones were supposed to be turned off anyway. Today, some progressive churches in the US are experimenting with it, asking young people to text a question after the sermon – they’re just trying to be more interactive, I suppose! But whatever happened to asking the congregation to raise their hands?

In our zeal to be interactive, are we going too far by trying to promote conversations and interaction as full-time activities, leaving little room in our lives for offline thinking? At the end of last year, in JWT’s annual list of ‘100 things to watch for in 2011’, the ad agency pointed to digital downtime as being a big trend. This was somewhat related to another trend it called ‘digital interventions’. This refers to friends and family members staging interventions to take a person offline, because they sense it is necessary to help the person log off!

REALITY CHECK
Maybe it’s time for a reality check – even in a column like this, that by definition covers digital communications! I meet with organisations that are looking to find ways to be more digital, and I have to admit that I have advised and coached people on how to be more (and I put this word within quotes for good reason) ‘productive’ by using digital strategies.

But I am acutely aware that there is a downside to all of this, especially if we go headlong into all things digital and ignore the rich analogue, traditional communications opportunities swirling around us. Becoming digital just because we can, and turning everything into a relentless social-media stream is not the answer to our communication problems.

In fact, sometimes the opposite is true. The answer to a particular communications problem might be to get off our digital high horses and tune into the analogue world around us. The customer-service person could assume that there are no complaints this week because no one has emailed a complaint or posted a rant via Twitter.

The truth is that there might be an ugly customer problem out there being passed around word-of-mouth channels in taxi cabs and trains that no one is paying attention to (but you wouldn’t hear it, would you, if you’re in the cab or train with a pair of noise-cancelling headphones?)

Spending a portion of our day offline might be a habit we soon need acquire – or require – our employees to cultivate. Being plugged-in doesn’t mean shutting out the rest of the world. It’s so basic that HR people don’t even think it’s necessary to instruct new recruits to do. But at the rate at which our offline lives are being infiltrated with online tools, digital downtime may be one of the most productive issues today.

 

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Social media driving you to distraction?

The jury is still out whether social media is making us more distracted or not. I’ve met many people who claim that the best way to ‘work’ (and it’s within quotes for a reason) is to turn off the wi-fi and stop mult-tasking.

Like that’s easy!

But forget external communication for a moment. Could socially interactive apps make us more productive when we collaborate? I could give you five reasons why (and a few good books to read on the subject). But for now, here’s a presentation my colleagues at GreenNurture just posted to SlideShare.

I would use it for any ice-breaker, or at the start of a discussion in an organization!

Is Social Media Distracting Your Employees?

 
 
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