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    Online observations of public relations, marketing, advertising and social media; the occasional frivolity; and The Rundown show notes. Jump in, the water's fine.

    Please Note: Everything posted on this blog is my personal opinion and does not necessarily represent the views of my employer or its constituents.

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The Gap, A Digital One

Yes, the elusive and sometimes controversial topic of digital divide. It’s a hot issue especially, since Web 2.0 is bursting-at-its seams. Yvonne DiVita’s interview with AT&T’s Spokesperson Claudia Jones over at the Lip-stiking blog strikes a match to the conversation. They discuss AT&T’s Project Lightspeed, which connects rural communities to the Internet at a faster pace. Diva Marketing‘s post “Bridging the Gap” furthers the conversation on digital divide. The digital divide refers to the gap between those who have a lot of access to the Internet and those who have little to no access. Typically, the discussion revolves around the ‘haves and have nots’ or ‘wealthy vs. poor.’ Toby’s post on Diva Marketing points to relevant articles and projects working to eliminate the digital divide. I suggest parousing through them, they are very enlightening. I was intrigued with Washington State University’s Digital Divide Project, which works with and provides resources for teachers to incorporate technology into their classrooms.

A similar project is The George Lucas Educational Foundation (edutopia) whose mission is to “celebrate and encourage innovation in schools.” They support several programs that are working to close the divide. Community technology centers provide access to multimedia tools, like video cameras, editing equipment, computers, and the Internet to students in inner-city neighborhoods. In my past life I was an inner-city public school teacher and part of me is still really passionate about urban education. My students had access to computers and the Internet at school, but may not of had access at home. My class spent time doing assignments on the Internet and I believe it enriched their experience while learning about the infamous Shakespeare. I think that projects like Street-Level Youth Soar, a Chicago nonprofit, make a tremendous and positive impact on student’s lives. What is imporant is that through education and projects focused on inner-city youth the digital divide can be bridged.

I really like what David Warlick of the blog 2 Cents Worth has to say. It is totally on point.

“There are lots of digital divides, each with its own seeds for danger. What I was thinking about was the digital divide between tech-savvy students and students with little or no access to networked digital information outside the classroom — and to some extent, the digital divide between tech-savvy students and less-savvy teachers. …

Today, the divide has multiplied, because people with contemporary (digital/21st century) literacy skills not only consume content, but they are the content. Being literate means being part of the network. The difference is not merely the individual who can read and individual who can not. It’s the difference between networked communities of power, and individuals who are cut off. This is a distinction too broad to ignore or postpone.”

A new form of literacy has emerged, as David points out and how we go about breaking this alternate form of illiteracy will change all of our lives.

For further reading check out:

Blog Search Update

I had been planning to do a review of blog search engines since I posted about Sphere the other day. Well, now I don’t have to. Tom Raftery beat me to it. His review is brief, but thorough.

First off, let me mention that both he and I were testing subscribed searches, mostly. That’s when you go to a blog search engine and tell it look for a search term like “weasel bucket,” and sign up to receive emails or RSS feeds when that search engine finds your term. For PR, that would be a great way to keep track of what people are saying about your clients or brands.

Tom and I agree on a number of things. My conclusion is that, therefore, we must be right. While he tried to search for things important to him, I did the same. I pretty much came up with the same results, using several different search terms. Here are my thoughts:

  • Sphere is good, very good for being so new. If it continues to improve, it will be contender.
  • Technorati still reigns in this area, in my humble opinion. The most thorough results regardless of what I was looking for. I did miss a few, though, and those were usually picked up by Sphere.
  • I haven’t personally tried IceRocket, yet, but will have to add it to my collection. Tom indicates that it produces the most results, but that the results are filled with spam. Like we need any more spam, right?
  • PubSub. I had high hopes with PubSub, but it appears to be falling off the radar. Tom agrees. Ironically, I became aware of all the services PubSub had to offer during a podcast interview between Tom and Salim Ismail, [then] PubSub CEO.
  • Google Blog Search. Tom didn’t review this, either because he finds no value in it or just didn’t think of it. I’ll have to post a comment and ask him. Another person did comment on Tom’s post about GBS, but Tom hasn’t responded. GBS is what my WordPress uses to tell me when people are talking about GOPR, but it misses a lot. Way more than I find acceptable.

So, in conclusion, do what Tom suggests. Use a combination. For subscribed searches – or for any search – a combination approach is best. If you tinker with them enough, you’ll find each has its own strengths and weaknesses when you’re using a real-time search. I haven’t made time for that, but I’m sure others have and I’d be interested in their thoughts. I’ll have to keep track of my searches in the future.

Woof! Woof!

Speaking of social media and your daily dose of vitamins. Welcome Dogster and Catster. It’s like Myspace for dogs and cats. The site is equiped with a blog, daily diaries, forums and a lot of other community development tools. They not only have a Dog Lovers Blog titled For the Love of Dog Blog, but also a company blog aptly named Company Blogster. Dogster actually won the 2005 Webby for best community site. The Adopt Me and We Miss You pages are heart-warming and sometimes sad. I tend to get lost in the adoption site wanting to bring home a friend for Bailey, but he would be jealous. Bailey

Talk about the changing sphere of the Internet and social media. Dogster and Catster have taken community and social interaction elements of the Internet and ran with them in a positive way. The site is witty and creatively raises awareness to homeless pets and animal welfare. Also, this is a perfect site for so many dog and cat owners who make up an enormous demographic. What a way to harness the communication power of pet owners worldwide.

Check it out! Give a dog bone!

Social Media: Vitamins of the Web

Like getting enough vitamins or fiber in your daily diet, social media might actually be good for you. Things like blogging and podcasting, you say? Indeed. Let me show you some examples.

This report from The Boston Globe entitled "Blogs 'essential' to a good career" pretty much says it all. But, in typical Luke fashion, please allow me expound upon the self-evident. The articles lists several excellent reasons to blog, one of which is to help you launch your career by demonstrating your work-ethic and mental processes. If you don't believe me, check this out.

And, as you know, corporations can reap the benefits as well. Sure, we've been talking about this for a while, but here's a study that actually gives some empirical data. This study, pointed out to me by David Phillips on FIR (thank you), indicates that blogs have "relational strategies," such as conversational human voice and commitment. These strategies were found to correlate significantly with relational outcomes such as "trust, satisfaction, control mutuality, [and] commitment." Blogging can make your organization seem like Soylent Green, you know, made of people. It has worked wonders for Microsoft…

Podcasting, how does this fit in? Easy, for many of the same reasons as The Boston Globe article about blogging. Plus, listening to podcasts in their entirety could get you a two-minute self promotion spot on a major mash-up edition of influential industry-related podcasts. Chris, I listened to the FIR#131 and ATS #29 mash-up. Your promo was great, good luck.

And some new information about the web in general is always good. For instance, the Pew Internet & American Life Project released a study (abstract w/link to pdf) last week showed a gigantic increase in the influence the Internet has on our lives (hat tip). You don't have to tell me! Nearly half of my graduate education came from the Internet – by my own choice, of course. Some stats:

  • 50% in the number who said the internet played a major role as they pursued more training for their careers.
  • 43% in the number who said the internet played a major role when they looked for a new place to live.
  • 14% in the number who said the internet played a major role as they switched jobs.

In sum: Social media is good for you. The Internet continues to grow in popularity and usefulness. Eat your fruits and veggies. Any questions?

Podcast patois

Yes, I had to look up patois, but I couldn’t pass up the alliteration. This is just a quick post regarding a thought I’ve had about podcast conversations.

We enjoy the podcast because of the subscription, right? I mean, why else would they have become such interesting tools? These audio comments that rode in on the RSS wave have only a few things that separate them from streaming audio and downloadable content, am I right?
So, here we have a subscribable audio file that gets automatically downloaded to my computer and I can listen to it whenever I want, not just when it happens to be on. I get to choose, I get to decide – and best of all – I don’t have to do it standing near my computer. We love the portability, we love the timeshifting. Audio content that we like, when we like it, where ever we like it.

But there are some problems. Most of us subscribe to many more podcasts than we can listen to – even in our daily commute. So we have to wait until a business trip or a vacation stuck on a plane before we can get caught up. At times this means listening to three or four episodes of one podcast two or three weeks after you listened to the last batch. And, worse yet, if you subscribe to a long podcast that is produced daily, you can get really behind. It’s February 27th and suppose you’re listening to six episodes of a podcast that is produced every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from earlier in the month. That’s two weeks worth. Well, they are throwing around phrases like, “as we talked about on Monday’s show” and “We referred to that on Friday.” If you’re not careful, it can get pretty hard to keep track. I listen to podcasts that don’t even count their shows, so they can’t even tell you which show number it is. And that’s what I’m asking for.

Timeshifting has made old broadcast terms meaningless. Hobson and Holtz talk about this every once in a while. “Tuning in,” doesn’t make sense any more, for instance. Also, “rewinding” since nothing is being rewound. Talking about “Monday” or “yesterday” on a podcast is confusing and also needs to be changed.

I’m proposing we think about this. If podcasting is a viable tool for PR professionals now and in the future, we need to eliminate error possibilities and make them easy and simple to absorb. Count your shows, refer not to “Wednesday’s show” but even “last show” or better yet “show #45.” It’s a little thing, but it’s the little things that can easily be improved upon.

Some of my favorite podcasts have just recently started counting their shows…a sure sign that I’m on the right track. Now to get it one step further and quit talking about days of the week as if I’m listening to it when they’re producing it, because I’m not. I’m sitting in traffic, enjoying the company of podcasters and basking in their new podcast patois.