Category Archives: Fostering Sharing

I’m a Skype Type

Greetings again, after a brief blog vacation. Rest assured that I have been thinking of you often.

And recently I’ve taken part in one of the greatest online sharing experiences of our day: Skype.  Wow. It allowed me to stay in touch and keep up-to-date with my boyfriend while he was in Mumbai on business. It permitted me to enjoy an Indian sunrise or two. It even gave me the opportunity to meet his friend who served him breakfast every day. For free. The few times it did cut off (for like 10 sec. twice, total, in two whole weeks) it didn’t annoy be a bit, especially after seeing this video. Talk about amazing.

I remember when an older, retired-to-Florida uncle of mine once said “I won’t need a computer until it allows me to talk to my grandkids up north on my TV, just like I was with them in real life.”

Well, either I’m old, or technology is to the point where it can enliven our fantasies, or both. Maybe it’s both.  But so cool anyhow.

Special thanks to Katie for sharing showing me the above video!!

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Green Confessions, hosted by Zipcar

zipcarCheck out this great email from Zipcar yesterday. It looks like they (and a few partners) are attemping to foster real-world comraderie among their location-fragmented, island hopping Zipsters—all while shining a spotlight on our lovely planet. There is nothing like free booze to lubricate the conversation.

(My confession is that I took a cab to work today because I was running late. That didn’t save money or the earth! What’s yours?)

Happy Earth Day! (And check out Verdantic.)

Hi Christine,

Ever leave your lights on when you leave the room? Forget to recycle? We understand that nobody is perfect, and that’s why we’re inviting you to confess your eco-sins at Zipcar New York’s first-ever Green Confessions party.

We’ll be at BLVD at 199 Bowery (at Spring St.) tomorrow (Earth Day!) from 6-9pm collecting your green confessions. Be sure to rev up your Twitter accounts and activate your mobile device (install TwitterFon for iPhones or TwitterBerry for Blackberrys) so you can participate in our live Twitter feed of confessions. Flash your Zipcard at the door for plenty of snacks and libations.

And as an added bonus, if you bring a friend to sign up for Zipcar, you’ll both get $75 in driving credit—not a bad way to repent.

See you tomorrow,
The team at Zipcar New York

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Filed under Digital/Social Networks, Email, Fostering Sharing, Just HAD to Share (Random)

Deep and/or Wide

I read Vanessa Grigoriadis’ article “Do you own Facebook?  Or does Facebook own you?” in New York Magazine last week and thought she had a great voice and a few great viewpoints. In particular, I’d to point out what she wrote about the term sharing:

Sharing is actually not my word. It’s the most important Newspeak word in the Facebook lexicon, an infantilizing phrase whose far less cozy synonym is “uploading data.” Facebook’s entire business plan, insofar as it is understood by anyone, rests upon this continued practice of friends sharing with friends, and as such it is part of the company’s bedrock belief, as expressed in the first line of its principles: “People should have the freedom to share whatever information they want.” “A lot of times users-well, I don’t want to say they undervalue sharing, but a lot of times they don’t want to share initially,” said Chris Cox, Facebook’s 26-year-old director of products. “And then eventually, they say, ‘Okay, I’ll put a profile picture up here. I’ll do it.’ Immediately, their friends comment on it, and there are no tacky, weird strangers around, and suddenly they start to realize, ‘Hey, wait, this is different. I am on the Internet, but I am in a safe place.

She goes on to state how “In a time of deep economic, political, and inter gene rational despair, social cohesion is the only chance to save the day, and online social networks like Facebook are the best method available for reflecting—or perhaps inspiring—an aesthetic of unity.”

And, in my last quote of this post, I’ll note her note about how, on Facebook, “many actions that take on weight in the real world simply don’t pack the same punch: You can reconnect with long-lost friends without a gooey, uncomfortable e-mail about why you grew apart; you can forget to return Facebook e-mail and nobody minds.”

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Filed under Charitable Giving, Digital/Social Networks, Fostering Sharing

Soso Free Music (in China…)

So today’s big news in the digital music realm is that Google will start offering links to free music download sites—but only in China. Check out The New York Times coverage and the article’s comments, like this one:

“When 99% people are not paying for music, you can’t simply accuse all of them as pirates.”

It seems like Kodak could learn a think or two about how free is the key. I guess we’ll see how this all pans out over time for the rest of the world.

soso2What’s more, and somewhat along these lines, today I also had a moment to delve into Miller Theatre’s (a music presenter, mind you) web stats. I was initially amazed to see that a good chunk of our web traffic is from China. (This is not necessarily in sync with our in-person audience demographics.)  And that Soso Music is a big referrer to us. But now, after learning a little more about internet use and music popularity trends in China, maybe I shouldn’t be surprised at all. Fascinating.

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Not Kodak’s Moment

Christy, age 3, and Shannon, age 7

Christy, age 3, and Shannon, age 7

Here is one of my parents’ favorite old pictures of me and my sister. The quality is poor because it’s old, it’s not digital, and my dad xeroxed it and then snail mailed it to me.

I prefer to use and was happy with Kodak Gallery for my picture sharing. And, when I finally got a Mac, I was even happier to learn that there is an easy upload application for Mac users. But some bad news came this week—Kodak jumped on the “strengthening” the Terms of Services bandwagon. Here are the basics of their new policy, which is also oh-so-cutely highlighted on their homepage:

  1. You must spend $4.99 annually if you use 2GB of storage or less.
  2. You must spend $19.99 annually if you use more than 2GB of storage.
  3. If you don’t follow rules A/B, your pictures may be deleted.

Yikes! The good news is that I’m covered for this year. But, now I’m nervous. The phrase “may be deleted” is a bad thing when it comes to priceless memories. Will Kodak notify me prior to cutting me off? I assume so, but still…the beauty of the Kodak Gallery—the ability of freely share photos with everyone with an email address, including my dad—is gone.

I was thinking of switching to Snapfish, but it turns out they have a similar policy. Hmm… On one hand I don’t blame these services for trying to make a buck. And, minimum purchase requirements seem less stingy that annual fees I suppose. Then again, I believe that some users might prefer the peace of mind of just paying for use up front; the alternative as it stands now a) seems like a hassle to stay on top of even if your status is communicated clearly and b) comes across as purely restrictive and negative with the deletion threat.

In broader terms, what is really happening here is an older company trying to hold on to an old fashioned (i.e. hard copy) way of doing business.

The solution to this issue? I haven’t a surefire one. But, I bet it lies somewhere in between considering the free service as a branding investment more than as a storefront and rewarding users who pass on their pictures (and the brand) to others and do spend money, rather than punishing those who do not.

Now, look at this: a video highlighting the Kodak brand in general and, by default, the Gallery in particular, too. (The longer version is even more touching, and is the thing that compelled me to dig up the ol’ photo above.) Consider the core message—it boasts a strong story, yet is almost laughable considering the new Gallery codes.

“Keep me, protect me, share me, and I will live forever…Keep it Kodak.”

For now I will just ensure all of my pictures live in iPhoto on my hard drive. Over time, I will probably shift my dollars spent on prints to be through this site, too, because it will become my new photo home base. The only problem now is that sharing high resolution images from iPhoto to non-Applers (i.e. my dad) becomes tricky.

Clearly, I’m on the market for a new picture portal. I want to have my cake (free storage) and eat it (be able to share via email), too. Does anyone have any recommendations?

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Happy Friday. I’m in love.

foxCan you guess what this adorable little widdle creature is?  It’s a six-month-old Fennec Fox born in South Korea. I found this image on Zoo Borns. (Thanks, Anastasia!) I’ll give you a moment…

Awwwwwwwww….I want one. And apparently, according to some of the comments alongside this image, other people do have them as pets. I wonder if my landlord would make me pay the dog fee?

Ok, realistically, what the heck is this site?

It appears to be a picture blog hosted on Typepad. But who hosts it? I see that there is a picture submission policy, but who reviews them? Is it a Zoo? Are the zoos on the left listed randomly or they officially a part of this? The babies ooze cuteness, yes, but are they rare? The host does Twitter and have Facebook, but why does he/she do this?

It took a bit of digging to bring to life this slight glimmer of a mission within a random post. While the simplicity of it all is wonderful, this could be so much more developed. Don’t you think?

People like to see these behind-the-scenes photos and there’s nothing like an infant to get us all caring. Without overtly soliciting them, the site has garnered many comments, ranging from general praise to shameless product promotions. And of course the global environmental implications run aplenty. I’m curious—I want to know more about this little guy, but I’m left with nothing.

What about posting about follow ups after the  little ones get older? Or opportunities to allow real life zoo visitors to submit images (easily, that is) of the creatures if they get the chance to see them on display? Could viewer interest ever benefit the babes financially through a charity effort? (I would so “adopt” Dumbo here.) Could this be a platform to make a case for Zoos keeping animals in captivity in certain instances?

To me, this could be way more than another superficial Cute Overload. I’m thinking more along the lines of this endearing site: Dottie the Rhino. (Though I’m saddened that it’s not so updated.)

What do you think?  Do you like the non-purpose nature of this?  Or, do you agree with my thinking that those innocent eyes could breed a special community of sharing and conversation?

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Get out your Sunglasses and SPF

sunglasses-lincolnTo combat today’s snow, I’m paying more attention to the Sunlight FoundationEllen Miller, co-founder with Michael Klein, made time after her weekend at Transparency Camp to answer my email inquiries about projects, e-innovations, and how the org measures its sunlight strength:

CP: Sunlight boast so many fascinating projects; if you had to pick just one (or two), which do you think fosters the best open dialogue? In other words, which allows for the best exchanges, the smoothest networking, and the easiest sharing between and among political figures the public and/or the public?

EM: Sunlight’s work is mostly about transparency of government data, particularly the date that concerns money, power, and influence. But the site that fosters the best open dialogue would be OpenCongress, which allows you to connect with others over legislation that you might both have an interest in. It allows you to create your own pages (via the My OpenCongress features) and allows you to share things you are reading (through My Political Notebook features). My second choice would be Congresspedia—a wiki just on congress. The latter project is being merged with OpenCongress.

CP: The internet came into play mid-career for you. Can you recall at what point you realized the communications channels and overall information dissemination model needed to shift?

EM: I realized the power of the technology—for communication in particular—pretty much from the beginning. I’ve been an early adapter, as they say. Our first home computer was the 1984 “Baby” MAC. It’s been a long love affair with technology since then. But, a seminal article by Tim O’Reilly, “What is Web 2.0“, was a real eye opener when I read it in the fall of 2005.

CP: Many of my 20- and 30-something peers are hesitant to adopt emerging technologies…

EM: Really?  Hard to imagine!…

CP: …yeah, so I can’t imagine the resistance you have gotten from even more deeply tradition-laden lawmakers. Any particularly funny responses you would be willing to share?

EM: Well, responses we get from members of congress (MOC) are not so amusing as they are horrifying.  One member told me, when we were discussing the possibility of putting daily schedules online, “That’s more information than anyone needs to know.” Mostly the responses we get are ones of bafflement—MOC in large part just don’t understand the technology and what it can do for (and to) them. They know email is overwhelming now and so they hate it. But this is changing. More and more MOC are on Twitter, for example. The few early adopters in the House and Senate are pusher others into it. As one colleague puts it, most MOC don’t get the difference between a server and a waiter.

CP: How does Sunlight measure its impact?

EM: We have specific metrics in terms of media mentions, email list subscriptions, op ed endorsements, visitors, and searches on sites that we both run and that we fund.

CP: Do you track who (demos or otherwise) makes up your audience? What, if any, evaluation methods are in place to measure not only the amount of sunlight you are shining, but what audience(s) are “soaking up the sun”?  

EM: We have done a survey of users. But honestly we can’t do enough. I think we have to do a better job of deciding who our audiences are and targeting them more directly. (We believe they should be journalists/bloggers, the online engaged citizen activists, and elected officials.)

*Special thanks to Ellen Miller for her time and to Elizabeth for helping me coordinate this interview!*

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