Growing a Quality Twitter Posse: My Do’s & Don’ts

My Twitter posse is always there for me. Today they offered fast, good ideas for E-Media Tidbits.

Like a lot of people, I’m an avid user of Twitter. But I don’t do so aimlessly. Twitter is worth my time because every day it offers me clear rewards:

  • Posse power. The 700+ Twitter followers I’ve accumulated have proved to be a collectively generous helpful group that offers, by-and-large, on-target and useful information whenever I ask for help, feedback, or insight.
  • Radar & serendipity. The 150+ people I currently follow on Twitter generally provide, at any time of day or night, a steady stream of interesing, useful, timely, or entertaining content.
  • Relationship-building. This may sound strange for a text-only, short-post medium, but I’ve found Twitter to be a more natural, human tool for keeping up with friends and colleagues on a daily basis. It also relieves the sense of isolation from working at home alone every day.
  • Convenience and lack of pressure. I leave Twitter on when I have time or can offer divided attention, and turn it off when I need to focus. I feel no need to “catch up” on posts that happen when I’m not online. (Replies or direct messages to me do get saved so I can see them later, however.)

Of all those rewards, “posse power” is by far the most important and valuable. I’ve come to the conclusion that Twitter has become so very useful to me because I’ve actively cultivated a high-quality posse.

Here’s how I did it…
Continue reading

I’m trying out Seesmic: Twitter meets YouTube

I’m trying out the new video-based social media service Seesmic, based on recommendations by Paul Bradshaw and other colleagues. It seems kind of rough so far, but I’m used to rough.

Here’s what I like and don’t like about it so far…

(UPDATE: Heh… OK, another thing I don’t like.. Apparently embedding a Seesmic video in a WordPress blog like this one isn’t as easy as it should be. Obviously, it’s not playing. Bummer. For now, here’s a link to my video post.)

Also, I haven’t yet investigated how mobile-friendly Seesmic is. Would be nice if you could combine some of the live/mobile functionality of Qik here.

Follow me on Seesmic: I’m agahran there. Send me a video! Tell me what you think of Seesmic so far. I’ve also enabled the Seesmic widget for this blog ,so you can see my latest video posts in the sidebar. I’ve also activated video comments for this blog.

Dale Willman on radio in Indonesia

Dale Willman
Borobudur, a Buddhist temple on the island of Java.

For a change of pace, here’s an audio podcast. My good friend and environmental journalism colleague Dale Willman just got back from a three-week trip to Indonesia where he was training radio journalists there how to do an environmental radio show — and just how to do radio production, period.

Yesterday Dale and I had a fun conversation about his trip, the state of media in Indonesia, and why text messaging is so popular there.

Listen now! (Or right-click to download)

Dale Willman
In the studio: One of the Indonesian radio journalists Dale helped to train.

Beth Kanter digs further into the Nokia N95 firmware quandary

eschipul, via Flickr (CC license)
My friend Beth Kanter is keeping a close eye on Nokia, hoping to keep her new N95 from turning into a brick, like mine did.

Recently I bought, fell madly in love with, and then sadly had to return a near-perfect moblogging tool — the Nokia N95 — after the very first firmware upgrade turned it into a brick within days of my getting the phone.

My friend and fellow blogger Beth Kanter also bought an N95 around the same time, from the same vendor (Amazon.com). So far her N95 has been working pretty well for her (with some frustrations), and she’s detailing her learning experiences with this device in a special blog. She has not yet updated her firmware. Frankly, it seems like my experience scared her about taking that step — which is entirely appropriate, given what happened to me.

Amazon sold me an unlocked N95, which was presented as a US version. I soon found out it had arrived with vastly outdated firmware — version 10.2.006. (The current US version is apparently 11.2.009 — which is far behind the latest version, not available to US users yet.) When I couldn’t make Nokia’s own moblogging service, Share on Ovi (formerly Twango) work with my phone, I suspected it might be because of the outdated firmware. So I updated my firmware using Nokia’s own tools and process. That’s whate turned my expensive moblogging tool into an expensive, unresponsive brick.

Nokia wouldn’t guarantee that they’d fix or replace the phone for free, and they’d take weeks to get it back to me in any case. Since Amazon only allows 30 days to return a phone for a refund, and I was understandably wary of trusting Nokia not to leave me holding the bag on this, I decided to give up and just returned the phone. Which totally sucked. I was devastated. I really loved this device.

Hoping to avoid a similar fate, Beth registered her phone warranty and called Nokia customer support. The rep told her, “Yes, we’ve heard of the unresponsive brick problem. The problem occurs if you have a phone that isn’t a ‘US’ phone, but try to install the US version of the firmware update.”

Beth and the rep then verified that, indeed, the phone in her hand which she bought from Amazon was a US version. And the rep confirmed that “All unresponsive brick problems were due to a mix in the firmware versions.” Meaning that it should be safe for Beth to go ahead with her firmware update.

Here’s a subsequent call Beth made to Nokia customer service to reconfirm all this information. (Beth, I love you for this!)

Note that in this case, unlike the first Nokia rep Beth spoke to, this rep specifically told Beth that they advise N95 users NOT to update their firmware unless they’re experiencing “functionality problems” — which could include incompatibility with desired services.

Despite Nokia’s assurances, Beth’s still leery of the firmware update, and I don’t blame her…

Continue reading

N95 Report: Why I had to give up

NOTE: I posted the article below about 10 minutes too soon. After completing the Nokia firmware upgrade as instructed, using their software on a Windows laptop, my lovely N95 morphed into an expensive brick. It won’t start.

It’s surprising how upset I am about this. I’ve held off for years on getting a serious cell phone because I don’t really want or need a phone, I need a moblogging tool. I hate talking on the phone, it’s a low priority for me.

Last Sunday, when I decided to take the plunge and get the N95, I was so excited. And believe me, right now I really needed something positive to be excited about. I’ve been vastly overworked and very stressed.

I really WANT to be moblogging. I’m so ready for it. I’ve been wanting to do it for ages. But the tools weren’t where I needed them to be. They still aren’t. I can’t be bothered with carrying 3 or 4 different pieces of gear and lugging a laptop about. I was willing to pay top dollar for a serious integrated moblogging tool.

Yeah, I know the iPhone 3G *might* be coming out soon. But no word whether it would have a Bluetooth keyboard option, and I really really really really hate iPhone’s touchscreen keyboard.

And, yeah, I know the Nokia N96 *might* be coming out soon too — but after this experience I’d only want to go with a Nokia again if I could get it from a local retail store where I could exchange it fast if it bricks out again. Right now, their only store are in NYC and Chicago.

I’m not ashamed to tell you this experienced has reduced me to tears on this lovely spring day…

Continue reading

Social Media Tradeoffs

Travelator, via Flickr (CC license)
Though it’s often trivialized and denigrated, instant gratification is a very powerful thing.

As I’ve gotten more comfortable and involved with using the microblogging tool Twitter, I’ve realized that I’ve been using the social bookmarking tool del.icio.us less and less. I’m not the only one.

When I posted about this on Twitter, my friend Beth Kanter tweeted in response:

“I’ve had the same experience — less social bookmarking, more Twitter. But Twitter not great for retrieval.”

“Twitter offers immediate gratification and connection with people, not just resources. But retrieval is hard.”

This got me wondering about why I really use each of these social media tools in the first place. But Beth has a point: I’d be lying if I downplayed the appeal of instant gratification.

The question then becomes: What precisely am I finding so gratifying with Twitter?…

Continue reading

How and why to get started with blogging: The REAL answer

afkatws, via Flickr (CC license)
Don’t just start blogging. Spend some time scoping things out first.

Almost daily, people e-mail me to ask me for advice about their online-media careers. I just got such an inquiry this morning. It started out pretty typically:

“I found your Contentious.com recently. I’m very interested in online writing as a career. Can you tell me something about it? How do you start, etc.”

OK, after I explained that I needed his question to be more specific so I could offer a meaningful answer, he offered a bit more detail: He’s about to graduate with a sociology degree, likes writing, and wants to combine those skills to earn a living. Still an overly generic inquiry — but since it’s a basic question many people have, here’s my honest answer:

Don’t assume in advance that being a writer (in any medium) is your ultimate career goal. Often, media is merely a means to an end — I guess that’s why they call it “media,” since it’s usually “in between” real stuff happening.

In my experience, it’s more useful to pay attention to what’s really going on, what people really want or need, and what you really have to offer, than to assume you already know what you “should” be doing. You can’t really be in business by yourself, since business is about the exchange of value. Who are you going to trade with, and what do they need?

Increasingly, participating in online, conversational, and social media (from blogs and forums to Twitter and Second Life) can help nearly anyone find their niche and their path. Because ultimately, these forms of media are about PEOPLE (especially binding communities) — not technology.

On the practical side, here’s the advice I offered this reader…

Continue reading

Post-travel catch-up: How do you do it?

Amy Gahran
Barcelona was fabulous, especially the living statues. Now it’s back to real life. (Cringe!)

I’ve just returned from a 2-week trip that mixed business, vacation, and family. It was quite a whirlwind, but it was also fun, exciting, and important in many ways. While I was gone I was able to keep E-Media Tidbits going, but not much on Contentious. Due to laptop problems (now fixed, all I needed was a new power converter), I was mostly on other people’s machines and didn’t want to hog them.

Now I’m back home, in regular life again. Fortunately I feel rested — I managed to get adequate rest while on the road, and when I got home yesterday I went straight to a fabulous massage and then took it easy all evening. Today I’ll go for a bike ride to get some exercise.

However, I really need to hit the ground running to prepare for a workshop I have to give in L.A. next week. Of course, I have backlog — bills and billing, touching base with clients, responding to correspondence, cleaning house (it’s a bit chaotic, which makes it hard for me to concentrate), and finding a way to do an adequate brain dump so I don’t lose the insights gained on this trip.

How do you manage your post-trip catch-up? Any tips I might benefit from? Please comment below!

Twitter wildfire updates: Useful, or not?

Twittermap
Twittermap is one way to find recent individual “tweets” from the wildfire region — or anywhere.

As I intimated in today’s linkblog post, the widely trivialized microblogging service Twitter seems to be redeeming itself somewhat during the current Southern CA wildfire crisis.

HyperGene Media Blog noted yesterday that the free mobile-friendly service is being used by news outlets and emergency services to deliver text updates. (The best example of this so far, in my opinion, is from NPR affiliate radio station KPBS in San Diego.) And of course, many individual Twitter users in the affected regions are posting their own updates — one way to find these is TwitterMap.

My question for Twitter users: Are you using Twitter to follow (or post) news and updates about the Southern CA fires?

If so:

  • Is this useful for you?
  • Which kinds of news/updates are most helpful or significant to you? (Give examples)
  • Which fire-related tweets do you think are least helpful, or even annoying or potentially harmful? (Give examples)

Please comment below. Thanks!