Nerdtackular Links

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Sometimes I can be a little “geek chic.” It’s been an exceptionally nerdy morning for me out here in DC as I combed through Twitter onto a couple too-dorky-too-ignore links. Who better to share these with than my dear friends at SSG?

  • The Harry Potter Alliance – Mashable featured this nonprofit as one of 9 Non-Profits that Get Web Humor last January. While that’s a century ago in social media time,  I couldn’t help but be impressed with what I saw. After all, they are doing exactly what I want to do–make a difference in the world by getting people to care about the issues that matter by reaching out to them in new, fun ways on issues they already care about. Did I mention it’s fun?

Here’s their mission statement:

The Harry Potter Alliance (HPA) is a 501c3 nonprofit that takes an outside-of-the-box approach to civic engagement by using parallels from the Harry Potter books to educate and mobilize young people across the world toward issues of literacy, equality, and human rights. Our mission is to empower our members to act like the heroes that they love by acting for a better world. By bringing together fans of blockbuster books, TV shows, movies, and YouTube celebrities we are harnessing the power of popular culture toward making our world a better place. Our goal is to make civic engagement exciting by channeling the entertainment-saturated facets of our culture toward mobilization for deep and lasting social change.

  • My second nerdtackular link of the day also involves wizards and social media. Facebook founder, Sean Parker got married on June 1st in a lavish Lord of the Rings-themed ceremony. 10 million dollars of elvish lavish. And because everyone hates money when they don’t have it, there was some backlash. In what Social Times called “a Tolkienesque-length novel,” Parker took to Tech Crunch to respond to some of the media reports. Really, though, this is all about the wedding. Jaw. Still. Dropped. I want to go to there.
  • Lastly, and most excitingly, earlier this week Space.com reported that scientists identified 3 potentially habitable planets around the star Gliese 667C, about 22 light-years away from earth. These super-earths could host alien life forms. A couple years ago, I joined tens of thousands of Americans in signing a “We the People” petition asking the White House to officially acknowledge the existence of aliens. My decision to sign was more about the petition process itself than the content (although, um, yeah, obviously aliens exist *scoff*). That said, I was only somewhat disappointed at this response issued by the White House. ET may have phoned home, but nobody phoned the White House–yet. Anyways, promising stuff for Team Alien in the fight against Team Twilight.
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Good Tweet, Bad Tweet

A couple weeks ago, my parents and grandparents stumbled their way from Los Angeles to the District. Somewhere in between getting lost on the wrong side of the Key Bridge and chowing down at some of DC’s finest, I got stuck on a topic that I never talk about–social media.

Techies aren’t just born, they are bred.

I filled the 8 days I shared with my family with talk of tweets and pins, teaching them how to check-in on Facebook and explaining Twitter and Pinterest. The result? I was tagged into every restaurant we went to 3 times, and my grandpa (@MillenniumMayor) has been spam tweeting Karl Rove, Glenn Beck, Martha Maccallum, and Sarah Palin.

It’s not surprising when social media noobs like my family ask how to do Twitter the right way. I hesitate to say that there is a right or wrong way to tweet, but there are definitely better, more effective ways. Have I lost you?

Don’t fret–I have a perfect DC meets LA way to explain!


Bad Tweet

Earlier today, the US Embassy in Brussels tweeted:

The tweet references the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) which had an event on the topic of women and counterterrorism (#WomenAndCT) yesterday afternoon. It’s a well-done tweet, with the exception of using the wrong handle for CSIS. On the other hand, CSIS does a terrible job with their response:

I have a ton of respect for (and would love to work for) the Center for Strategic and International Studies, but this tweet is simply bad form. CSIS has forwarded a modified tweet from the US Embassy in Brussels that looks like it was written by Justin Bieber after he raided his parent’s liquor cabinet. Why did they shorten keywords like instrument and expert and remove the space between 4 and peace, but leave important and according complete? This tweet could have read:

MT‏ @usembbrussels #Women are important weapon against terror & instrument 4 peace say experts @CSIS http://bit.ly/HXg9jG #terrorism #Verveer

Is this better? What do you think?

Good Tweet

If you are scoffing at seeing my own face listed under the title of good tweet, fear not. My vanity has not yet taken over.
Earlier this week, I had an exchange on Twitter which I think demonstrates best practices for political and advocacy Twitter usage. As an extra bonus, it also includes one of my favorite topics, Kim Kardashian!

Kim Kardashian took headlines by storm this week when she said on her reality show that she might consider running for Mayor of Glendale someday. The city of Glendale, sometimes referred to as “Little Armenia” by locals, is very close to where I grew up–in the same congressional district, in fact. Congressman Adam Schiff represents the district, and so I thought I’d poke a little fun at him and the situation.

I never expected a response, and yet within 24 hours:

What can politicians take away from this tweet? The response (1) demonstrated that he was actually listening and engaging rather than just broadcasting, (2) took the opportunity to share one of his positions that his constituents feel strongly about (Armenian Genocide), and (3) it felt personal and real, not stiff or like a form letter. These are the kind of interactions that politicians should be aiming for to maximize the impact of their online discussions.

But the conversation didn’t end there. No, Kim Kardashian didn’t chime in. @CharaGG, however, did:

The link posted goes to an indiegogo website that asks people to donate to her documentary project that deals with Armenian genocide. My guess is that she either follows Rep. Schiff due to his strong support of Armenian Genocide recognition, or she searched for Armenian genocide on Twitter and inserted herself into relevant conversations. In doing so, she tapped into a conversation that was already occurring online with people who care about a topic. This is good social networking. This is digital engagement.

Until next time.

A toast, “To Mayor Kardashian, may the stress of politics not make her want to pull her own extensions out.”

“The people drawn to Twitter are people on the cutting edge, the real nerds who are resentful of the fact that the general population have found and taken over Facebook”

~Steve Dotto, host of Dotto Tech

Meme Me

I’d like to talk about my life, but it really isn’t that interesting. Do you really want to hear about poverty in America, counterfeit antimalarials in Uganda, or any number of the other school/work-related projects I’m constantly working on? I doubt it. Only my nerdy self finds that work interesting. Instead, how about we take a little quiz!

What’s a meme?

a) A mute, french clown
b) A cultural trend
c) The sound the fat lady makes before she sings
d) A narcissistic cry for attention

Too easy? The answer is b. A meme (pronounced similar to the word gene from which its structure originates) is a cultural trend. On the Internet a meme is an idea–in any form from hyperlink, to video, picture, hashtag, or even intentional mispellings like “teh”–that spreads virally from person-to-person through social networks, blogs, email, etc. Usually, Internet memes evolve over time, with imitations and parody.

And now…an example–“Condescending Wonka”

Believe it or not, the “Condescending Wonka” Meme began just over a year ago on Reddit, but didn’t really pick up steam until probably around October/November 2011. Memes take the same picture of Gene Wilder from the 1971 film “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” and place, you guessed it, condescending comments around it. The first one I ever saw made me literally laugh out loud with the caption, “Oh you wear a Northface jacket? You must go on so many adventures.”

Here are some other notable examples:

(I had to delete the examples due to some problems with malware, sorry)

Why all the meme talk? Today, while avoiding developing objectives for my communication plan on combating counterfeit anti-malarials in Uganda (super uplifting topic), I made my first tumblr site which is about to be filled with memes of my own. Except they won’t be featuring the smug mug of Mr. Wilder. Instead, I let the strange profile picture of my dear friend J.P. serve as inspiration for a line of memes. The concept currently revolves around the idea that he is a kind of evil super villain/the most interesting man in the universe/well, JP. Stage 2 of implementation involves introducing other pictures to the mix, but until then–check them out! It’s really probably only funny if you know JP, but who knows? You may be inspired to share one!

Click on the pic below to check out the Tumblr!

MakrezMemes.tumblr.com

A toast, to being rick roll’d! (If you clicked on “What’s a meme?” above, you know what I’m talking about. If you don’t know what being Rick Roll’d is…Google it.)

God exists, if only in the form of a meme with high survival value, or infective power, in the environment provided by human culture.
~Richard Dawkins, discussing the non-Internet form of meme

I Put the Social in Social Media

imgresThey say the first step is admitting you have a problem.

I wrote a blog about QR codes, my Thanksgiving had a hashtag, and I sleep with my iPhone under my pillow — My name is Liane and I’m a technoholic.

When I sat down to write today, I intended this blog to be a defense of the social aspect of social media. Then, I remembered the cardinal rule of writing: know your audience. If you are reading this BLOG, chances are you’re pretty okay with social media as you probably got here via Twitter, Facebook, or e-mail. A defense of social media belongs in a newspaper….and that newspaper belongs in a museum where other old, historic things go to be forgotten.

Instead, I’m going to invite you to share in the joy that is Social Media Week DC!

From February 13th-17th, cities all over the world (Hamburg, Hong Kong, London, Miami, New York, Paris, San Francisco, Sao Paulo, Singapore, Tokyo, Toronto, & Washington DC) are participating in Social Media Week. As a girl with a passion for new media, I could not pass up the opportunity to sign up for a couple of the amazing events happening here in DC. Hopefully, I’ll also have enough time this week to blog about the events, but if not be sure to follow me on Twitter @liane_w for live tweeting from the following events:

Monday, February 13, 2012
Nothing! — I need to work on the formative research for my Media, Development, & Globalization project :/
Tuesday,  February 14, 2012

Digital platforms have changed the media landscape forever, but how has it changed the way the media covers politics? We’ll ask a panel  from Gannet, National Journal, ABC News and Politico as they discuss 2012 election coverage.

The social media landscape has changed drastically since 2008. We’ll hear directly from panelists from Google, Twitter and Facebook as they delve into the tools and innovations that candidates and campaigns have utilized as the 2012 campaign heats up.
Wednesday, February 15, 2012

We will explore the driving forces that have been evolutionary markers for social media, transitioning it from the past to the present, and giving us a glimpse into the future. This session is for those wishing to understand where their organization is placed on the evolutionary timeline, what is next for social media, and why. In our interactive discussion, we will reminisce about famous flops, share success stories, and discuss the future of what social media can be for Government agencies and Non-governmental organizations.

As we look back on the impact social media has had on the healthcare industry over the past year, we see dramatic growth in social media adoption by health care consumers, providers, and organizations. While the industry has taken a giant leap forward into the brave new social media world, we’ve only scratched the surface of what is yet to come.

So what does the future hold? Join thought leaders from Eli Lilly, Inspire, Ogilvy and Ozmosis as we explore the positive impact social media has made throughout the healthcare system.  Together, we will examine how patients, providers and healthcare organizations have leveraged social tools to enhance communication, promote education, improve the delivery of care, and reduce growing costs.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

How does social media change how statecraft is practiced in the 21st century? Who’s participating and why? What have been some lessons learned from the pioneers who have logged on to listen and engage? Three representatives from the U.S. Department of State will share case studies and professional experiences gleaned directly from the virtual trenches.

This panel discussion and networking event will introduce you to some of the people behind “American Censorship Day” and the “Internet Blackout Day” for a candid discussion discuss their the strategies and tactics that lead up to  over 14 million people to contacting Congress in a single day.

We will discuss how Internet experts, non-profit organizations and entrepreneurs from across the political spectrum came together to successfully derail SOPA and PIPA and offer a glimpse into what this means for future advocacy campaigns.

Friday, February 17, 2012

While Sean Parker may predict that social media will determine the outcome of the 2012 election, governance is another story entirely. Meaningful use of social media by Congress remains challenged by a number of factors, not least an online identity ecosystem that has not provided Congress with ideal means to identify constituents online. The reality remains that when it comes to which channels influence Congress, in-person visits and individual emails or phone calls are far more influential with congressional staffers.

“People think it’s always an argument in Washington,” said Matt Lira, Director of Digital for the House Majority Leader. “Social media can change that. We’re seeing a decentralization of audiences that is built around their interests rather than the interests of editors. Imagine when you start streaming every hearing and making information more digestible. All of a sudden, you get these niche audiences. They’re not enough to sustain a network, but you’ll get enough of an audience to sustain the topic. I believe we will have a more engaged citizenry as a result.”

This conversation with Lira (and other special guests, as scheduling allows) will explore more than how social media is changing politics in Washington. We’ll look at its potential to can help elected officials and other public servants make better policy decisions.

Alright, enough of that! I will try and update as much as possible about the fascinating information I learn this week. Let me know if you want more information/want to hear about a specific event/really love newspapers–yeah, right. Stay tuned 🙂

In honor of Charles Darwin’s birthday, today’s extremely appropriate blog quote:

“In the long history of humankind those who learned to collaborate and improvise most effectively have prevailed.”
~ Charles Darwin

I Don’t Mean to Get Graphic

One of the things I’ve really enjoyed about the blossom in technology is the rise in infographics. People have been using clever means of displaying information for all of time. Now, thanks to programmers after my own heart, creating easy-to-digest data displays need only take a matter of minutes.

I may be somewhat of a wonk (click here and see definition 1), but I think what I’ve brought to most of my jobs thus far is the ability to take complex policy information and break it down in ways that anyone can understand. [Thank you, Ralf and Erik, for teaching me to “dumb it down.”] While I refuse to make policy a huge part of what I do on this site, I thought this infographic about the State of the Union was timely and a great way to demonstrate how an infographic works.

 

Some of the interesting take-aways, IMHO, are that the highest volume of tweets occurred during discussion of topics that relate to young people–education and college tuition, Steve Jobs, the “spilled milk” joke. This is obviously not surprising since we are talking about Twitter reactions.

 

What did you think about the State of the Union?

 

A toast, to wonks everywhere–may we learn to sound less condescending.

“Bill Gates‘d be a broader guy if he had dropped acid once or gone off to an ashram when he was younger.”
~Steve Jobs 

An Explanation

3534516458_48e4e8595fIf you are reading this post, I think it is safe to assume you are either family or a friend. Hypothetically, you should know a fair amount about me and what I am doing out here in DC.

I made that assumption. I thought, these people are my friends and my family. Turns out, not a safe assumption to make–not safe at all.

The night before I left for DC, my parents took me to a farewell dinner. It felt like my Last Supper–though, if I was going to have a last meal Roy’s wouldn’t be too bad. In typical Liane fashion, ever my Father’s Daughter, I spent an inordinate amount of time talking about myself. The waitress came over, smiling and waiting patiently as I blabbered about something I was “feeling” about the impending move. Eventually, I did need to pause to breathe and my mother politely turned to the waitress with pride and said, “She’s moving to DC for grad school tomorrow.” I excused myself to go to the bathroom and upon my return my mother throws this at me:

“The waitress asked what you were studying and I didn’t know what to tell her.”

I looked at my parents in utter disbelief. I started planning for graduate school my third year of college–over two years before that dinner. I’d prepared a binder of all my options. Not just any binder–color-coded, alphabetized, quick reference fact sheets–this was the kind of binder that Type-A, OCD, control freaks dream about. I’d spent more than one Sunday morning drinking coffee and flipping through my options with them. They were there every step of the way, as I narrowed my options. I’d chosen my program months ago and spent the time before I left having to tell every person we met about leaving. My mother could name every single class that my brothers were taking, but she had no idea what Master’s program was moving her one and only daughter across the country.

My eyes turned to my Dad, certain that the self-proclaimed “ultimate boyscout” would remember. Don’t they teach mnemonics in the Boy Scouts? Nope, another blank stare.

Why am I publicly chastising my parents for this action?

(1) To explain why I have an attention-seeking personality

(2) To ease your guilty conscience, since I’m pretty damn sure you don’t remember what I’m studying either

(3) To make them feel guilty before my birthday which is in 13 days!

This is the part where I play psychic and answer all the questions you are about to have:

Well, Liane, what DO you study?
Media and Public Affairs at George Washington University

What the hell does that mean?
The program focuses on the place where politics, media and public affairs intersect. Still confused?

What’s the point of that? Are there even jobs in that?
Absolutely! Media, and social media, is one of the largest growing fields in the country–inside and outside of academia. This kind of degree could open doors in new and traditional media organizations, government, politics and business. So, anywhere really!

What do you learn?
Currently I’m taking classes in Media Theory, Media and Foreign Policy and Research Methods. I will probably talk about some of that more in detail at a later date.

My research interests within this realm of study are still a little fragmented.

Generally, I am curious in how social media will continue to shift the way politicians interact with the public. As someone who witnessed the development of new media “on the frontlines”, I have strong feelings about the value that it has to society. The shift of the dynamics of interpersonal relationships and the construction of individual identity has been staggering, but I think we are still just beginning to see where new media can take us as a society.

In terms of  the “public affairs” side:

  • Politics, primarily Elections –Working on the Hill made me jaded about the amount that people can do once their representatives are actually in office. Elections, in my opinion, are still the most vital part of democracy.
  • Education–The children are our future–and I hate dumb people and I wish there were less of them.
  • Foreign policy–Since our education system sucks, globalization reigns supreme, and I don’t have the time to learn Chinese.

Well, now that you know what I’m studying–I should probably actually go study

A toast, TO BOOKS!

“A room without books is like a body without a soul.”
~Cicero

Static

I’ve spent the last two days staring at my computer screen. Mostly doing nothing, sometimes refreshing my Facebook homepage. I sit there cursing my friends for not being more interesting as I realize that somewhere out there on the other end of cyberspace they are probably doing the same thing.

It’s a little like that car commercial:

I actually find this commercial to be extremely insightful. What do you think about it?

Ok, now back to staring at the screen and hoping that my Research Memo & Communication Plan Proposal will write themselves..

And now, a toast, “To people whose idea of a social life exists outside of the confines of their computer screen.”

“Little girls think it’s necessary to put all their business on MySpace and Facebook, and I think it’s a shame…I’m all about mystery.”
~Stevie Nicks