COM0015 – Blog #1: The best stuff, and how I find it

As we’ve seen in our reading, there a ton of great ways to monitor what’s happening among online communities, and to track new content as it is shared with the world. For me, though, nothing holds a candle to the late, lamented Google Reader. It was easy to use, it was free, and it had a clean, simple interface that I found led to a great user experience.

Until I come across a monitoring tool that captures my heart and bandwidth the way that Google Reader did, my preferred approach is an ad-hoc one, using Instagram and Facebook searches.

Solid listening skills

I’m in control

There are two reasons that I prefer to do manual searches of mainstream sites like Instagram and Facebook for the purpose of social media monitoring. The first is that it gives me the illusion of control; I type in the keywords or hashtags I want to search, and I determine for myself if what comes up is relevant or not. Of course, I know that I’m still at the mercy of the platforms’ algorithms, and that I’m not seeing everything. Nonetheless, a part of me still feels that what I find through manual searches and analytics tracked on a spreadsheet will be more accurate.

The second reason is that, because these Instagram and Facebook are now so ubiquitous, they are considered “safe” by the IT group at my work. I am trying to explore tools like delicious.com and diigo.com, because they are new(er), they are still blocked by the firewalls that IT has set up; this means that if I come across something interesting while surfing at my desk, in order to save it to most social bookmarking sites, I would need to go to the “trouble” of finding that same content using the browser on my cell phone (thereby eating into my own data plan) and bookmarking it there.

Where’s the good stuff?

My two go-to sources of news and updates are Jezebel and CBC.

Jezebel is a prime spot for feminist commentary on cultural trends, from the trivial, like the latest Snapchat filter, to the revolutionary, like the #metoo movement. Jezebel is owned by the same company as Gizmodo (Gawker Media), and the two sites cross-publish from time to time. So when I make my regular visits to Jezebel for its take on news and culture, I am also often presented with tech articles from Gizmodo, where I can get more technical information about the tools supporting or driving the trends.

CBC is more closely tied to my organizational interests. Working for a government department, much of my time is spent preparing for and responding to news coverage. CBC, being a national news site, covers federal policies and spending very frequently, and I need to know what they’re saying about my department and Minister so that I can anticipate their reaction to upcoming issues, as well as the questions they are likely to have for us. CBC also has really interesting radio programs that talk about the place of tech in our culture, and about apps in development (e.g. Spark, Quirks and Quarks, Day 6), and through that I often learn about broader industry issues that will help my professional development.

Photo credit: paulsgraham.ca

A new listening tool? That sounds scary to me…

As I said, Facebook and Instagram, being such mainstream tools, are the ones which I am most comfortable. But I know that, in order to advance in the communications field, I need to change my social media habits. The New York Times published an interesting article related to this recently, Why Trying New Things Is So Hard to Do. The crux of the article is:

“Habits are powerful. We persist with many of them because we tend to give undue emphasis to the present. Trying something new can be painful: I might not like what I get and must forgo something I already enjoy. That cost is immediate, while any benefits — even if they are large — will be enjoyed in a future that feels abstract and distant”.

There might be better monitoring tools out there, but after a work day spent at the computer, when I get home, I’m often ready to unplug, rather than hopping back online and exploring new tools. So, my question for you, dear reader: how do you push yourself to try new tools? How many monitoring platforms did you experiment with before deciding on your favourites?

COM0014-Blog #7 Live the story you want to tell!

For as long as the world has existed stories have been told through cave paintings, pictograms, and writing.  Now we have blogging, I wonder what the next thing will be.

I have enjoyed this course and it has made me more confident in telling my story.  I was one of those people that would be surrounded by crunched up paper because I just couldn’t get it right, or so I though.  At a very young age we all learn how to listen to a story and as we get older telling stories becomes an every day conversation.  Having the passion about what you are talking or writing about and making your audience feel it brings them into your story.  I have no problem getting up in front of people and speaking, in my voice they can hear my passion but how to get that passion into writing is a whole new talent.  One of the things that I have learned through this course is that I write better when I finish what I start immediately, no taking a break or starting than finishing the next day.  Not sure why this works for me but it does.  When I started this course I didn’t know the importance of adding images to blogs but now I do and use them regularly.

After starting this course I bought a journal to keep in our family room and we, my husband and I, have been doing entries.  We told our kids about it and they thought it would be something for them to treasure in the future.  Someday when I am old and maybe even forgetful I can look back and see these great memories written down and tell the story I have lived.

Thank you Nelly Leonidis

 

COM0014 – Blog #6 Do you want to know my story?

It was December 19th, 1965 that I would travel home for the first time with my mom and dad, officially adopted. I was only 2 months old so none of this really meant anything to me, I was feed, diaper changed and everyone loved me. That all changed when I was 10, I opened a drawer that held some interesting folders and boxes, so of course I had to check them out. Who was this Mary Elizabeth that her name showed on all these papers?

As it turned out Mary Elizabeth was actually Lisa Marie, yep that’s me. I had a hard time dealing with this fact and spent some time in foster care as well as counselling but in the end it all was good until August 1992. I received a call from The Catholic Children’s Aid Society, they left a message saying they needed to speak with me about an urgent matter. I immediately called back and it was like no one wanted to talk with me, they kept passing me around. Finally I spoke with someone who had the task of telling me that my biological parents thought I was dead since I was 3 months old. Apparently when you place a child for adoption you have a grace period of 90 days before you can be legally adopted, but I was only 2 months old when I was adopted. Back then unwed young moms were frowned upon and the nuns that ran the Children’s Aid didn’t think they should be able to come back for their children.

My biological mother refused to work with the Children’s Aid so she told them if I was interested in meeting her to meet her on Thursday at the Mother Tuckers restaurant in Burlington at 6pm, she would be wearing a blue coat and reservation would be under Thelma. Never have I been so nervous going into a restaurant, thank god I was there first. I sat nervously waiting, anticipating her arrival, when she walked around the corner it was like looking into a mirror. We embraced and talked for hours, we both shed a lot of tears so it was a good thing we were in a dark corner. I learned that night that I had a biological brother. Two days later I meet my biological father and brother, again talking for hours.

My mother put me in the care of the Children’s Aid because she had no family and needed to find a job. She knew she had 3 months and felt if she couldn’t get her life together by than, then I deserved better. My father was in the army so when he came back she told him about me and he said let’s go get her, it had only been 9 weeks. They stopped at a store on the way to buy me an outfit to wear home. I can only image their excitement when they arrived but it was short lived, they were told I had died, death certificates to prove it. Why would they question what they were being told? Six months later they married and welcomed a baby boy 2 years after that, than divorced 8 years later.

What started this entire journey was my doctor putting in for a health history request so I would know my biological family’s past medical history. So now that we know all of this what do we do? First thing call the lawyers, they literally were knocking down our door seeing the dollars. We decided not to sue for many reasons but the big one was that it would null and void my adoption with the Murphy’s and I couldn’t do that to them. At a time when I had no one they were there to love me unconditionally.

Today I still see my biological family who live within a 2hrs drive and my kids are lucky having extra family. Recently my dad passed and now it’s my turn to be there for my mom. She was there for me in the beginning and I will be there for her in the end.

COM0014 – Blog #5 A Brand New Me

Who am I? At first glance, it’s a simple looking question and seems just as simple to answer, but not so much.  I believe that every day I am changing through new experiences, knowledge and like a fine red wine I only get better with age.  I spent much of my younger generation trying to find myself because I was adopted but as I aged I realized that I needed to invent myself, I was a clean slate that could be and do anything I wanted.

Fast forward 40 years, I own 3 successful businesses and am now semi retired.  People often tell me that I need to learn the word “No”, yes I tend to take on too much and I set my standards quite high but I enjoy seeing what I can do.  My greatest strengths are my creativity, drive and leadership, I thrives on challenges and work well under pressure. It has been often commented on
that I know how to put people at ease and am always willing to lend a hand.  The one thing that I am most proud of is that I work with my husband, son and daughter, and every weekend we still all get to just be a family.  Learning to keep things separate has made us a very strong unit.

Some of my personal traits have made me a successful business owner, I believe that if I didn’t have drive I would have been happy working for someone else, if I didn’t have a vision I wouldn’t be happy with where I am, and if I didn’t have strength I would still be trying to find myself.

Recently I lost my dad, for many years I thought his love for me was less than what he felt for his biological children, he was always so much harder on me.  As it turns out he loved me more but in a different way, he said I was the strong one that could be counted on, my heart was big enough to love all things and that I had the ability to see the good in everyone.  I can only hope that others see me the way he did because I sound like a really good person.

Favorite picture of my dad teaching my son to fish

COM0014 Blog #3: Life is a Highway

Truck drivers get a bad rap, so trying to recruit new drivers is not an easy sell now a days, hence the reason for a driver shortage.  All the things that use to entice people to drive truck don’t seem so appealing now, the ability to travel while making money was a dream job and its one of the oldest professions.  People always say if you got it a truck brought it.

The study by the Canadian Trucking Alliance forecast a shortage of 34,000 drivers by 2024.  The demand for drivers is expected to grow the most in Ontario, followed by British Columbia.  Most people that become truck drivers are people that have been in a family of truck drivers, little boys and girls love to go for rides in Daddy’s truck right?  So how do we recruit new drivers, through our past students.  For every new student they send our way they receive $100.00.  Sure we have facebook, twitter, etc. but the people that follow us are usually already driving truck.  We do job fairs and each year we take a truck to various high schools and talk about truck driving as a career choice.

As we look to the future of truck driving the introduction of the self-driving truck has been a hot topic.  While it remains I believe there will always be a need to have someone in the truck in case of electronic issues, loading and unloading and border crossing.  I for one do not look forward to seeing a transport truck with no driver, how about you?

http://cantruck.ca/truck-driver-shortage-accelerating-according-to-new-cta-study/

COM0014 – Blog #2 – Writing a Digital Story

It is difficult to change the way I write when I have spent so much time training and learning to write prose as I presently do. When you’re telling a conventional story, you want to give the reader just enough information to keep them interested but not enough to give the hook – or big twist – away. However, writing for social media and digital communications is a different formula; you want to lead with that key piece of information because that is what interests the reader from the get go. You then want to introduce the points you will touch on in the article.

An additional point which I understand completely but also find baffling is knowing the end game before you even start writing your first sentence. Out of everything I have written, my favourite piece to date by far is the one I wrote with little planning, the character and her story evolved that year as I did and because of that became my most important story. I wrote stories, first outlining key elements and then starting, but I found the experience less exhilarating as a creative person.

The constant here of course is grammar, spelling and punctuation. The moment any piece of writing other than that of a second grader’s is riddled with mistakes it is looked at as unprofessional.

What styles of writing do you use when writing? Is your writing conventional, unconventional or somewhere in between?

Targeting Photographers and Models

Flash Designs Studio has five target audiences: photographers, models, stock agencies, people wanting family portraits and businesses wanting event photos. FDS has targeted the first two in marketing efforts so far, so let’s focus on them. These photographers and models are in Ottawa, ethnically diverse and artistic, visual people.

Most photographers who attend workshops and Meetups enjoy photography as a hobby, while some use it as a retirement business (local key players lead these sessions, as FDS soon will). As photography can be expensive, most in this target audience have post-secondary education, established careers and good salaries with disposable incomes. Most are open to sharing their images and insights, as seen at clubs and Meetups and on Facebook and online forums like PhotoNEWS, Photo Life, Outdoor Photography Canada and Canadian Geographic’s photo club (national key players).

While most photographers are men, models are young women who are in post-secondary school or just starting their careers and have modest incomes. An effective strategy has been doing “time-for-print” shoots; the only payment for models and FDS is to build each other’s portfolio.

According to Facebook Insights, 64% of people reached are female and 45% are ages 35 to 54. According to Google Analytics, 54% of FlashDesignsStudio.com visitors are male and 61% are ages 18 to 44. While 95% of Facebook visitors are Canadian, 43% of website visitors are Canadian and 24% are British (some of the more active Twitter photographers).

FDS does not have enough Twitter nor Instagram followers to generate statistics. These platforms and blogs are not as popular as Facebook with these target audiences. Instagram’s former square format and Twitter’s former text-only format may have deterred these groups. Advertising saturates Twitter feeds, possibly further deterring use. Because of this, FDS focuses more attention on Facebook than any other platform.

Post 4 – Out of the Box – COM0015

Assignment1 – Post 4-2106

Iliana Auverana

We have focused primarily on best practices in a very new and evolving field, what unexpected applications have you found in the field of online marketing and social media?

The digital world is rich in information and knowledge; what have become a huge challenge is how to keep up with news in your field, and how to organize information. There are amazing tools out there, but which ones serve better our needs? It depends on what we want and how open we are to new ideas. Socialcast seems to be the perfect tool for the “flow of knowledge” among workers and experts no matter their location; it allows the exchange of ideas in real time. A group of people belonging to a Socialcast community, working in a particular project, receive ideas or information and can respond in real time. A wiki and a database-store information are used to allow easy accessibility to information and data to all people involved in a project.

out-of-the-box2

This platform also provides analytic tools and dashboards to keep everybody on the loop. I read a case study about it, but I couldn’t try the tool because I couldn’t provide a company name.

I found this tool extremely interesting because I see a similar trend in the government with the implementation of GCConnex. This platform allows employees to have virtual meetings in real time through a chat function, people can share files, have group discussions about a topic of interest to them, and a lot of more. The culture is slowly changing. Governments are becoming digital. There is a global movement towards digital to communicate with citizens and get them engaged. This policy called “Digital First” is changing the way governments around the world are making decisions. If you are interested in learning more about trends in this field, you can read the article written by PwC http://www.pwc.com/ca/en/industries/public-sector-government/unlock-the-power-of-digital/digital-government-trends.html

 

https://spark.adobe.com/post/l89hKFSC3sT8  (Picture created with Adobe Spark)

 

 

Com0014, Blog 2: Becoming a Digital Storyteller

Being a digital storyteller isn’t all that different from being any other kind of storyteller; it’s just a different platform. While telling a story can be therapeutic, if authors don’t keep their readers in mind while they’re writing, they should keep their writing in a personal journal. Those who want to share their stories need to ensure readers will find the information interesting, if not useful.

In journalism school, I learned the importance of keeping the reader in mind and the inverted triangle. Even in the late 1980s, instructors stressed how readers have limited time, so we had to get to the point quickly. In today’s digital world where everybody can quickly and easily share their stories, short and punchy is more important than ever.

While blogging provides an opportunity for writers to get into more details to back up their main point, space constraints of Facebook and Twitter only allow writers to share the story lead. Is that enough? Is the only real usefulness of Facebook and Twitter to point readers/followers to where they can find more substantial information on the business’ website and blog?

Even with communication styles, it’s important to keep the reader in mind. No matter what the topic is, simplicity, consistency and correct spelling and grammar are always appreciated.

What was new to me were the different levels of readers, so much so that I had to look up the word syntopical online because it is not in my Canadian Oxford or Merriam-Webster dictionaries, or even Word’s dictionary. As Danielle Fremes wrote in her blog Storytelling in a Digital Age, “is that state of enlightenment a realistic goal of the content creator, and consistent with how the majority of us use the Internet?”

COM0014, Blog 1: Getting Lost on The Lost Highway

The expansion of Hwy 7 in the 1930s was part of Ontario’s economic stimulus after the Great Depression. As the main link between Toronto and Ottawa, it had a descent beginning with motels, restaurants and gas stations springing up for truck drivers and tourists to stop along their way. Unfortunately, it didn’t last long. When the four-line divided Hwy 401 was finished in the 1960s, people took that route instead, taking the flow of trade with it. My husband and I needed to use the now nearly deserted highway this summer to get to a campground just north of Hwy 7 on Hwy 41.

rust-bucket-heap3

When I first heard about The Lost Highway as  a photography Meetup, I knew Norm and I would want to check out the rust bucket heaps, the Hubcap Hotel and the other abandoned vehicles and businesses. We couldn’t attend the Meetup, but we used the information provided to check it out on our way to the campground. I envisioned creating black and white images with a derelict truck providing a splash of colour and sepia-tone images of long-forgotten motels, diners and gas stations. The section on the Hubcap Hotel is particularly worth scrolling through.

The 2013 TVO documentary, The Lost Highway, included the owner of the Kaladar Motel talking about how the motel business dried up and how he now sells hubcaps at the Hubcap Hotel. Hubcaps for cars made decades ago now fill the rooms; nuts fill the dressers.

rust-bucket-heap2

Norm and I tried to find the Hubcap Hotel using the Google Map of Lost Highway landmarks. Appearing to be on the south side of Hwy 7, just west of Hwy 41, we drove back and forth on that stretch with a GPS telling us that we were passing it, but just not seeing it out in the field. Turning south on Hwy 41, we tried to access it from the side, along the Trans-Canada Trail. We walked about a kilometer along one trail before heading back as the GPS told us we were still too close to the highway. We walked a couple of kilometers along a second trail, which was closer, but still we saw nothing more than mosquitoes in the woods. The hotel and the rust bucket heap near it were to remain lost on The Lost Highway.

rust-bucket-heap1We did find one pair of rust bucket heaps off Hwy 7 on N Rd/Mountain Grove Rd. I always find it amazing how many pictures Norm and I can take of the same thing, from different sides, different angles, different points of view. We could each post more than a few images online with no two being alike. I’ve shared three of my photographs here.

The only other Lost Highway landmarks we found were the many wooden shacks selling blueberries, which made the outing that much sweeter. It may be cliché that life is about the journey, not the destination, but we certainly did have fun getting lost on The Lost Highway.

If you have any better luck finding The Lost Highway, please let me know. I would be happy to hear from you.