War and Peace and Social Media

This is a topic near and dear to our hearts: war and peace and Israel.

I just read a blog post positing that social media could have the power to interrupt aggressions between Iran and Israel. Read it here.

As has been in the news lately, the leaders of those two countries are ramping up their rhetoric as they point figurative warheads at each other. Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, added some perhaps unintentional comic relief by drawing a rough sketch of a bomb during his talk at the United Nations last week. This, after Iran’s leader, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, delivered a fiery speech against the “Zionists.”

While leaders have political clout, we the people have social media clout.Israel Loves Iran

The Israel Loves Iran campaign, started by a group called the Peace Factory, is a Facebook page that has more than 87,000 likes as of this posting. Its message has appeared on buses, on flyers, on videos. It brands itself as “A bridge in the Middle East between the people.We are not enemies. We love each other.”

If the power is with the people and not with power-hungry, nuclear-warhead-toting heads of state, then all will be right with the world. People who have seen war do not want war. Iranians and Israelis have lived through their fair share of bloodshed, heartache and international criticism. Their collective voice rings loud and clear through this campaign. Now, the only catch will be if their plight can be loud enough for their leaders to heed.

The power of social media is tested again.

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Sounding Facebook’s death knell

Speculation has been circulating for weeks now, ever since Facebook’s IPO fell short of amazing in May, that the largest and most popular social networking site has begun its decline into irrelevance á la MySpace and Friendster before it.

It’s only a matter of time, right?

What is the likelihood that in this rapidly changing world of social networking that a company like Facebook or Twitter or LinkedIn or Pinterest can outlast the constant march forward—ever reinventing and revamping itself to grow its appeal and broaden its user base and ultimately its profit margin.

So, we watch and wait to see what Facebook’s next move will be to quell these speculators that are watching its stock ticker like a heart-rate monitor. Critics point to Facebook’s tardiness at jumping into the mobile arena. Its Facebook apps have been slow and clunky. They point to its ongoing charade with privacy issues, saying people want to keep their information private and find Facebook’s past sly changes to privacy protection confusing and untrustworthy. Analysts also point to users wanting to keep their social circles more intimate, and Facebook’s philosophy promotes expanding one’s network, meeting as many new Facebookers as possible and maintaining an ever-expanding Friend’s list.

Other critics say Facebook’s consistent roll out of new features in its most basic of layouts and functions, such as the Timeline and the News Feed, make the site less desirable to use. And as the social web shifts into a money-making model, will Facebook be able to keep up?

Even while Facebook closes in on 1 billion active users worldwide, there’s a lot of history pointing to its eventual demise. Does anyone still have a MySpace account?

YouTube video captures our age

'100' Video

This YouTube video is amazing in that it takes the viewer from age zero to 100 in 150 seconds.

A camera stays fixed to a close-up of 100 people starting from an infant to a centenarian who state their ages for the camera. Of course, the baby that stands in for zero gurgles at the camera, and the one-year-old’s age is proclaimed by a woman off camera. But, by watching the progression of images, you get the sense of the wonder of the aging process and of the utter humanity of it all.

It’s in Dutch, so the bonus is if you don’t already know Dutch, you can also learn to count to 100 in that language.

Watch it here.

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Pinterest: I think I love you!

Pinterest

I was hesitant to answer the invite to join yet another social network. But I’m so glad I did.

Pinterest isn’t like other social networks in my eyes. In fact, it  may very well be the first social network I actually enjoy …The first social network that doesn’t make me  angsty, angry or annoyed.

When I log onto Pinterest, it’s as if I am on a journey of discovery and enlightenment, a search for do-it-yourself projects (projects I never even knew I wanted to do myself).

Since joining, I’ve made a portable sewing kit out of a mason jar, a cork candle holder and a bedside table cover. I’ve even been inspired to decorate my garden.

Pinterest appeals to the OCD part of my brain that feels compelled to organize things. It also appeals to the visual part of my brain, which likes things to be organized in a clean and attractive fashion.

On Facebook and twitter I often feel like a spectator of other people’s “exciting” lives. Not so with Pinterest. Here there are no Farmville requests, no random status updates, no over sharing. I’m not cluttered by people’s private conversations made public. It’s all about what I find interesting. I can click on the posts that appeal to me and easily filter out those which don’t.

Ultimately, what I love best about Pinterest is how it sparks positive ideas that occupy my mind long after I’ve logged off. Instead of logging off Facebook or twitter with an ugly feeling, I am filled with a desire to beautify my life.

The Facebook problem

Last week, my family and I traveled to a Caribbean island for a spring break vacation. There, for the first time since I’ve had a Facebook account (2009), I went without access to the site. I spent an entire week off Facebook.

It felt good. Actually, I didn’t even miss it enough to think about how good it felt. It was only after I came home, opened my laptop and checked my account that I realized how much I didn‘t miss Facebook.

I have a habit of checking the site intermittently a few times a day. If something a friend posts strikes me, I’ll leave a comment of give a “like.” But mostly, I scroll through the last 10 or so status updates, wonder why it is I have a compulsion to check Facebook, then close the site. Facebook does little for my own social good. I don’t feel deeper connections to my Facebook friends. I don’t feel compelled to post updates about my every move. I didn’t even post photos from our spring break trip, much less announce that we had gone away. I figured, those who cared already knew. Why bother anyone else with these details?

So the question has since arisen, do I need to keep my Facebook account? And if so, why?

I read a personal account of a social media writer who defriended 90 percent of his Facebook friends. He did this because he was having trouble filtering through his myriad of friends’ status updates to find the ones he really wanted to keep in touch with on the site. He cut down his list of 650 friends to just 65 friends. He described it as a tedious process, especially when he got close to the 90 percent goal. But, in the end, he said the purging was worth it.

Hey says:

Because as I look at my news feed this morning, I’m finding updates from people I like, miss and am actually interested in. They’re not lost in the clutter of a hundred different status updates by half-forgotten strangers from high school or ex-bosses that I never socialized with in any real sense of the word.

Since reading his account, I have had that little fly buzzing in my ear, every so often bumping into my cheek and asking me why I have not done the same. Who would I let go? Who would I keep? Would I care if I missed an acquaintance’s announcement of her new baby? Would I have reduced my social capital by condensing my network?

This is a topic we have discussed on this blog a few times. We have even talked about clearing out Twitter followers to streamline that feed. That exercise proved to be well worth the energy.

The question remains, however: Streamline or cast a wide net and wade through the chaos? Is social media about being social, interacting with those you care about and who care about you, or is social media about meeting new people, gathering information and connecting with as many people, brands and ideas as possible?

For me, the verdict is still out.

Social media-related reads

Every morning I go through the list of Mashable and Read Write Web articles that appear in my inbox. I read about one-fourth of the links, and here are a few of my favorite over the last few weeks:

Source: Catchfire Media

  • 10 Historical Events Affected by Social Media (Mashable): This is a slideshow showing photos and tweets from events, such as the Japanese earthquake in March and the Haiti earthquake in January. It poses the question, what would other major events have looked like, such as Katrina and Sept. 11, 2001, if social media had existed as it does today.
  • Facebook Timeline Designs (Mashable): Also a slideshow, this article is all about inspiration. While we experimented and discussed early on the implementation of Facebook’s Timeline on users’ profiles, these 10 images really take the timeline to the next level.
  • Here’s How People Look at Your Facebook Profile (Mashable): Do you ever wonder what people take away when they glance at your Facebook profile? Is it your cute profile picture, the number of friends you have, your latest status update? This article discusses a study that captured where participants’ eyes lingered and the order in which the page was scanned. Sounds like an old study done for advertising firms on what catches people’s eyes, but it is interesting and worth a look.
  • Drug Cartel Murders Another Blogger (Read Write Web): It’s a scary time to be a blogger or a journalist in Mexico and in areas of the Middle East. Following attacks on free speech is an important part in protecting democracy and our ideals. I’m glad these stories are being followed and written about by sites with large audiences.
  • High School Student Punished for Joking Tweet about Gov. Brownback (Forbes.com): Speaking of free speech, this 18-year-old high school senior was disciplined by her school after sending out a tweet critical of the governor during a visit to the Kansas state Capitol. What ensued was Twitter stardom for the teen and some really bad press for the governor and his staff.

Enjoy reading and please share any of your favorite social media stories!