Archive for November, 2009

Grandma got run over by a scammer….

Monday, November 30th, 2009


Another holiday has come and gone. The crowds gathered on Black Friday and today the techies drain bandwidth for Cyber Monday. With most readers of Collective Thoughts being tech savvy, I don’t have to break down the dangers of online shopping and scams. However, I would like to encourage everyone to pass on the knowledge.

For example, your grandmother or mother (depending on your age), how much do they know about these scams? A lot of baby boomers are taking to the Social Web and think they are beginning to get an idea of how it all works. However, in most instances, this is not the case.

Are you familiar with the old saying about “knowing just enough to be dangerous?” Well, in today’s Social sphere, that statement rings truer than ever. Technology has accelerated at such a significant rate, catching up isn’t so easy for a less tech-oriented generation. They want to use sites like Facebook, Myspace and Twitter to stay connected to their friends, and let’s face it; these sites, security-wise, have become a hen-house of sorts, and there’s no farm dog there to look after them. Weasels and foxes abound.

I, as well as my colleagues, have noticed GenX and GenY are starting to step in and police their family’s actions. Not only in Facebook posts, but also in online shopping, and gaming apps. With all the gaming apps like Farmville, Mobsters, and the hundreds of others, the tech-educated have noticed a lot more scams and virus outbreaks. The problem is that the users of these apps have no clue what they are doing. These apps are addicting and annoying to non-users. I have actually un-friended people on Facebook for being app addicts. I really don’t care how many pigs you raised, or how awesome of a hitman you’ve become. I am concerned for your well being aunt Kim. How many offers did you sign up for to get “FREE” Farmville upgrades? Watch your credit card statement Aunt Kim.

TechCrunch did a great piece on these scams that I highly recommend you read and share with your families. In case they are not techies, direct them to the Washington Post article as well. It really is up to us to watch out for them and educate them.

Speaking of education, in the TechCrunch article they target Video Professor. Apparently Video Professor has some special offers in the game apps to get upgrades for the game. The offer claims that you pay only $10 for shipping up-front. But then there’s always the fine print. Apparently, the $10 is for shipping all of the Video Professor’s library and you have to send them back or get charged $189. A lot of people have fallen victim to this scam. They have seen Video Professor on TV and therefore assume he has credibility and that they’d not get taken by the guy. Video Professor said it’s all clear in the fine print.

If Video Professor wants to show you how to do things correctly on the internet, then why are they doing things wrong? Should you not protect your brand? The web is buzzing about the article where Video Professor was called out and they have even made it a point to go after anyone who criticizes them. Here is my guidance Video Professor, from someone who I dare say has gained an Associates Degree from the Social Media “Community” College but is not an “Expert” or “Professor” in Social Media: Accept the fact that what you are doing is wrong. Do it on as many blog posts and Social Networks as possible. Then, set up a means to refund EVERYONE you have done wrong. Make the refunds as public as possible. Also, engage — not aggressively — but engage your critics. Find out what your critics have to say and ASK them how you can make things better. Additionally, make sure all offers are CLEAR. Not just in fine print. This would absolutely improve your image.

People everyday are taken for a ride, be it online shopping scams, 419 scams, gaming apps, or viruses. Let’s all pass our knowledge on to the less fortunate, and have a great and safe Holiday Season.

Social Media Rigor Mortis: How Behavior Kills Value

Thursday, November 19th, 2009

We’ve all seen it. What once worked in social media six months ago doesn’t work now. Why, for instance, does a large following on Twitter no longer indicate influence? Or why is blogging no longer as impressive as it was in 2003? Both these examples follow a predictable economic formula:

As “x” social behaviour multiplies, its social value approaches zero.

Let me break that down for you. The more you do the same thing, people’s appreciation of it lessens. The more you do the same song and dance, don’t be surprised if your audience dwindles. This should be obvious, but it’s not.

LiveJournal: An Example

Most of us think of LiveJournal as the walking corpse of the social media world, but it wasn’t always so. It was one of the first platforms to combine blogging with social networking. More fascinatingly, people who had a LiveJournal felt it gave them status: in order to have one, you had to be invited.

Then it happened. Danga Interactive, LiveJournal’s parent company, removed the invite requirement. Soon everyone who wanted one could have one. This was the beginning of the end.

The problem was everyone wrote about the same things: breakfast, cute kittens, and favourite movies. LiveJournal succeeded in the task of being a journal, but as the novelty of public journalling wore off, so did its perceived value. Soon, users left LiveJournal for the unique feature set of MySpace — and we all know what happened to MySpace.

State of the Social Media Union

Most popular social media tools have their time in the sun then go through a slow rigor mortis. Usenet was once the reason people paid for Internet. Chatrooms were how people dated online. MySpace was a “place for friends”. What happened?

Everyone was doing it, and everyone was behaving the same way. Usenet became so burnt out over flame wars, the term “troll” was coined and “Godwin’s Law” became a law. The acronym “ASL” became such an overused greeting in chatrooms, their very purpose became sexual gratification. As for MySpace, “making friends” became the basis of many a Catch a Predator episode.

We are seeing the same pattern of behavior happen on Twitter, Digg, and Facebook — and if people keep doing the same things, those social networks will soon have less social value than they currently have now.

How Can We Add Value?

The social media slide into rigor mortis is not inevitable. The only way to reverse the lessening of social value is to give your audience value. That is to say, behave in a different way from everyone else. If a platform is flexible enough for innovative forms of communication, and if communities are courageous enough to move beyond their own cliches, social media can thrive.

Want to remain relevant in social media? Behave differently.

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The Art of Social Media War

Thursday, November 12th, 2009

As a known Social Media enthusiast, I’m privy to a ton of information. I stand on the sidelines of various Social Media realms and watch as drama unfolds. I find that it’s usually the best thing to do when two opposing forces in Social Media go head to head. It’s not that I’m disloyal, don’t get me wrong, but rather that I prefer to not get involved.  “Jay not get involved? Since when is Jay a pacifist? I thought Jay was a Marine!” Well, yeah, I choose which battles to fight, especially when it comes to elite Diggers throwing down on each other.


I refuse to name names, that wouldn’t be classy of me. I am, however, going to give a run down on how the battle has been fought; it’s actually been quite interesting.

It all started with Google. Yeah, you heard right, Google. Google has been posting Sesame Street / Google Logos all week to celebrate Sesame Street’s 40th anniversary. As anyone who is an internet junkie knows, Google tends to do this sort of thing to celebrate milestones or holidays.

One Digger, with a good ratio I might add, had been placing these images on his site, and submitting the new image each day to Digg from his site.  Another Digger saw it but had also submitted the image directly from Google. The first Digger (Digger A) cried Dupe! In doing so he went after the other Digger (Digger B) and reported the image to Digg. Well, things got real nasty.

Name calling ensued in a chat and before you know it Digger A got Digger B banned. A fine line was crossed in the whole ordeal.  Digger A was posting the images on his site, some people calling him out for “Blogspam,” but he considered the images a place holder as Google would change them everyday. Digger B, being an old school Digger, had linked to the original source.  Digger A did not care, he was mad over the whole dupe ordeal. Things escalated sverely after that.

With the banning of Digger B, being an old school Digger, things did not look well for the upstart. I even shot a friendly warning to Digger A. “Hey man, he is old school, watch your step, his loyalties run deep.” I guess my warning fell on deaf ears. The name calling and threats continued. Digger A then lashed out at other people in the chat who were making lighthearted jokes about the situation. With a line in the sand already drawn, my advice would have been not to upset everyone else.

Elsewhere, other old-school Diggers heard of Digger B’s banning at the hands of Digger A. Things do not look well for Digger A. Yesterday his account was banned from Digg, his site is under DDOS attack, a satire blog has been erected to forever mock him and a lot of people in the Social Media Community are upset with him.

You guys still with me on the whole A/B thing?

Many mistakes were made during this dis-agreement.

1. If you do have an issue with someone’s submission, especially a dupe, approach the individual who duped you. If the individual will not take down his submission, make a friendly game out of. (Okay, first one to the FP wins, loser buys a beer at next meet up.)

2. Social Media or Social News Sites are just that, Social! Play well with others. Do not soil your name and give yourself a bad reputation.

3. Keep your friends close and your enemies closer.  Sound familiar? It should. Same rules apply to any war if you expect to win. If you do have a rival, find out his mistakes and exploit them if need be, but it must be done in a way that keeps you squeaky clean. Name calling and bashing only makes you look bad.

4. KNOW YOUR ENEMY! Good Intel is always key to winning any war. Know who is loyal to them and their amount of influence. Crossing one person could mean crossing more people than you realize.You must also know the level of your rivals technical skill — there are a lot of good hackers out there. Do your homework!

5. Be prepared to defend yourself and your brand. A good defense is also a great offense.

6. Never, Never, Ever, write a check your butt can’t cash. If you have to resort to threats, make sure you can carry them out. Empty threats make you lose credibility.

Hopefully you should never have to deploy any of these tactics. Just like real life, most small conflicts can be settled using a good attitude, and a little respect.

Then again, The Internet is serious business.

Social Media: Expertise? Not Required. Sanity is Optional.

Tuesday, November 10th, 2009

TwitterIn the grand scheme of things I am but a babe when it comes to social media. A rookie. A noob, if you will, though to spare my fragile feelings I’d just as soon you didn’t, really. Nope, no expert opinions here folks, just me stumbling along, trying to learn what I can. Like some great person of yore once said, “I’m just a worm crawling through the dirt of life.”(Actually that was me, I used it as a tag line on one of the many social media outlets I’ve tried, and may perhaps still use, I’m not really sure, but feel free to use it for your own purposes if you like.)  But this is a good thing actually. In Zen Buddhism there is a concept known as beginner’s mind, and it means, basically, that the mind of someone who is new to something (a beginner), is free of the rigidity and ‘old-hat’ mentality of the expert who has seen and knows much. They are open to new things and new ways, and the ever-changing sea of social media is inherently new. Isn’t it?

The metaphor of the sea is particularly fitting because not only is social media, and with it the Internet, constantly changing and growing, it also implies a flow. A constant flow of information: emails, images, blurbs, and yes… tweets. We often find ourselves buried beneath a relentless tide of information. Will it ever stop, or do we even want it to really? More importantly, how do you handle it all?

If you’re anything like me, the Internet has reduced your attention span to that of a gnat; there’s just so much to look at. Sometimes I feel like a cat in a room full of laser pointers. No, really! Even when I sit down at the keyboard with a plan, fully intent of looking up one thing —  just one thing! — if I’m not careful, I end up clicking 57 links, only snapping out of the trance once done digesting  the Evolution of Toilets (via

This isn’t a new idea though, is it? The Internet has been driving us mad with choice from day one. But now we have social media thrown into the mix; Twitter, Facebook, and MySpace just some of the names which come to mind. Naming all of them would be another post altogether (actually that would be another venture-funded web project and a lifetime of work—venture capitalists, feel free to email me, we’ll talk). It’s a wonder we get any work done today at all.

It can be done, and trust me, there are greater minds than this one working on it. David Allen, bestselling author of Getting Things Done, advises that one must be judicious in choosing who and what we interact with online, and even he acknowledges that it’s a slippery slope.

The most obvious issue about social media: Is this a useful way to spend your time, or is it a sinkhole of attractive distraction? It could very easily be one of those one minute, and the other the next! It all depends on why you’re doing it, and this must be evaluated moment to moment. It’s an important distinction to make for yourself, because focus is probably your greatest asset that you can control. You must be judicious about where you place it and what you let grab it, thus reducing your effectiveness.

[via Newsweek, March 10, 2009]

A while back over on Mashable, author, speaker, and Wall Street Journal columnist Alexandra Levit wrote a post on managing your time and your social media fix. It basically echoes Allen’s advice: draw up some boundaries, and mind your commitments. This is, of course, easier said than done.

Simplification and discipline are key here ( listen to me now, as if I know what I’m talking about all of the sudden), especially given the fact that more and more of us are packing smartphones with instant access to emails, tweets, instant messages, and the whole of the Internet. It’s a conundrum, and I’m afraid I don’t have any hard and fast advice; I’m still trying to manage my own habits, while I struggle to maintain some semblance of a regular blog posting schedule—and if you’ve seen my blog, you’ll see what a bang up job I’m doing there—keep up with news, and trends, and friends, and preventing the slow creep of insanity that comes with wanting, and inevitably failing to read every last blip, chirp, snort, buzz, squawk, squeak, and bleep that we can get our hands on.

Going Mad

And that, my friends, is the heart of the matter isn’t it? We can’t read it all, but something about these here interwebs makes us want to—that’s probably another post, we might come back to that. What is it? The interactivity, the instant gratification, the variety? Hell, I don’t know, but as a diminutive Jedi Master once said, ‘Control, control, you must learn control!’

I leave you with a small collection of the better suggestions I’ve found in one place that deal with this very thing. From Mashable again, a few suggestions on how to handle your voracious social media appetite and still get at least a few things accomplished. Now if you don’t mind, I’m really jonesin for some Twitter time…and I forgot to email that one dude, oh and I need to…nevermind, I’m done here!

Collective Thoughts is Back!

Monday, November 9th, 2009

We're back!

credit: AFP

I’d like to thank you all for your patience through the times that this site has been quiet. Many of the original authors have gone on and are quite busy, but I didn’t see why that had to be the end of our community.

After about 2 years of reflection, we’ve seen where our strengths and weaknesses were, and wanted to give you a list of what the new Collective Thoughts will be about:

1 – Updates. Things slowed to the point where we were updating only monthly. Look for many more frequent posts in our new organization.

2 – Focus. While the post focus is still going to be revolving around social media, what’s meant by focus is the authors and their perspectives. I feel that we had the SEO / Social contingent, but this time around, we have a more rounded model across the realm of social – including more that are new to the game, PR types and the like.

3 – Bells and Whistles. We’ll be making some changes and tweaks to the overall UI as well as adding in some of the latest new fangled fun gadgets.

4 – Authors. In the past, we have not had guest posts. We’re changing things up a bit adding more regular and guest authors, though at this point it is by invite only. If you’re interested in contributing, contact us.

Looking forward to coming back into the fold with you!

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About Us

Welcome to the new wisdom of crowds. Each member of Collective Thoughts is here because not only are they a known or rising star in their own field, but they also have a passion and unique understanding on social media. Together, we make up Collective Thoughts. More

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