Social Network? It’s Like Two Peas in a Pod

Pea pod
Originally uploaded by JussiV

When we see two people who are alike, we often say that they are “two peas in a pod”. Sometimes this relates to appearance, but it can equally apply to behaviour or attitude.

One of the things that is interesting about the community side of social networks is that we are able to reach past the differences that may otherwise keep us apart. For example, geography is now no impediment to friendship or connection. And it certainly does not stop collective action or emotional support.

A great example is the effort that has gone into imagining, creating and delivering the Frozen Pea Fund website inspired by Susan Reynolds. All contributions to the Frozen Pea Fund until October 2008 will go to Making Strides, the breast cancer campaign of the American Cancer Society.

Now, while I live in Australia, I personally don’t care where the cancer riddle is solved or by whom … I would just dearly love it solved.

And tonight as we are all looking forward to the comfort of friends and family in the lead up to Christmas, please also spare a thought for Susan and the many others in her situation. Spare a thought and some change … and help make the world a better place for us all.

Frozen Pea Friday

I read this week (unfortunately I can’t remember where), that you KNOW you are part of a community when you disappear from it for a while and the community members come looking for you. And this is what is a revelation about social media — not only do we participate in the big picture ideas of others, through micro-blogging such as Twitter, we are also exposed to the minutiae and sometimes intimate details of the lives of others. Others who we, at some point, come to recognise as friends.

With this in mind, in a matter of hours, Susan Reynolds heads into surgery. And in support of her efforts to overcome cancer, many of us are turning our images, our avatars etc into pea-themed pictures.

This great idea was the brainchild of the charming and energetic, Connie Reece. And if you want to participate, you can do so easily — change your Twitter avatar and post it to this Flickr group. And as you post, send you best wishes and thoughts from your place in the world to Susan.

The Lazy Worker’s Guide to Office Politics

Found in my office
Originally uploaded by kaymoshusband

No matter where you are in your career, you are bound to come into contact with office politics. Like all kinds of politics, however, sometimes it works in your favour, other times it can tear your heart out.

Early in my career I got caught in some office politics and suffered badly from it. But, it did not kill me … in fact, it made me a whole lot wiser. But really, I would have preferred to know a little about what to expect … so I have put together a few tips that you can share around the office (this is important, see tip #3).

1. Dress for your NEXT job. Remember that management are always looking out for the leaders … and while the quality of your work matters, you need to register on the radar of those who make decisions. One of the easiest ways of doing this is to dress-to-impress. (Of course, sometimes this means wearing black jeans or fancy custom shoes.)

2. Listen more than you speak. In the world where politics rules (ie the workplace), you will be judged by what you say. You need to be careful to listen to the conversations around you before you jump into them.

3. Spot the players. In every offers there are a number of people who do things behind the scenes. Some "make things happen", others "know the secrets". There are the "gatekeepers" and there are the "toxic talkers". There are also the great "career vortexes". Learn who is who in your office — each will have a role in your success and your failures.

4. Make someone look good. If you can find a way to make someone look good, then their success will rub off on you. Now you do need to be careful that you don’t simply become fodder for the career vortexes who will take all your information and goodwill and pass it off as their own. But they can help you at least a little if you can stand it.

5. Share the good stuff and take the blame. If you are getting rave reviews, then it is likely that you had some form of help. By including others in your success you will build stronger networks while also demonstrating that you understand the value of teamwork. Also, if something has gone wrong (and it is your fault), put your hand up. You will be found out eventually.

6. Visit desks. It is easy to send emails or instant messages. It is even easy to pick up the phone. But if you can find a way to make a visit (even for no reason other than to say hello) to someone’s desk they will soon see that you dont just want something for nothing.

I am sure there are plenty of other tips, but these are proven to work. Have a good day at work!

Stop Kids Finding Bad Stuff on the Web

Originally uploaded by servantofchaos

If you are like me, at this time of year we get together with our extended families. This inevitably means kids, toys and a bit of technology thrown in. And each year I think to myself, "I must install those parental controls on my computer", so that I can happily let my inquisitive nephews search the web/play online. And each year, I forget. But this year I WILL do it.

However, this year there is something else. A neat new search engine designed specifically for kids, called Quintura. Once you enter your search terms, Quintura brings back a nice tag cloud of related words that your kids can click on (no need to type additional search terms). This really makes searching a lot more fun and far more intuitive (something that Google and others could learn from).

What I particularly like is that this takes the experience of search to a whole new level. This interface turns "search" into something closer to a game … providing kids with information that rewards (and encourages) their curiosity while also letting parents breathe a sigh of relief. Now THAT is a user experience that extends way beyond the screen — when someone who actually DOESN’T use your service supports and trusts it, then you are onto a winner. I am sure many brands would love to be in that position!

Tip of the hat to Ewan McIntosh.

Number of Chinese Bloggers Exceeds Population of Australia

When I was last in China, I spent quite a lot of time with kids like the ones in this photo. I was attending an exhibition in the holiday resort of Hangzhou (which also happens to be one of the regional centres of technology and animation) with hundreds of other vendors. My focus during the event was to engage and entertain kids with some interactive and stimulating digital games.

What struck me was not only the outgoing and friendly personalities of all the kids (except when they were frightened by my Gweilo appearance), but also the fact that these kids were talking to me in English. And I don’t mean the stilted, embarrassing mishmash that I normally trot out as an excuse for “foreign languages”. I am talking real conversation, real questions, personal interest.

These kids took every opportunity to speak with a native English speaker that they could. A few feet away you could see smiling grandparents and excited parents watching as their pride and joy edged ever closer to ask a question. And like kids everywhere, once the ice was broken, the flood gates opened. “What is your name ?” gave way to questions about home, family, school, favourite things. They were bright, fun and engaging kids, open and enthusiastic. And they could all use computers, picked up the games and activities with a few clicks, and were keen to see their names on the leaderboard. Technology was definitely seen as an advantage … and every kid I spoke to saw the potential.

I was reminded of all this today as I read Shel Israel’s third post summarising his findings from the SAP Global Survey. This third posting builds on the Overview and the Seven Key Findings (regular readers will find little to surprise, as Shel, himself, notes), and provides an EXCELLENT snapshot of the state of social media play all around the world. There are some amazing statistics, including:

  • Facebook has grown at a rate of 400% during 2007, but not in Germany where its adoption continues to lag (despite 45% of Internet users engaging in social media of some kind)
  • Scotland continues to be a world leader in the field of education (just take a look at Ewan McIntosh’s brilliant blog to learn more)

But the one statistic that really hit me was this — there are now 20 million bloggers in China. That is the equivalent to the entire population of Australia. A great example of SHIFT HAPPENS unfolding in front of our eyes.

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Attend for Free — InterestingSouth Videos Now Live

Originally uploaded by thomaskiesl

The folks at Precinct have done a great job of editing together the videos from InterestingSouth and they are now available for your viewing pleasure, courtesy of pureprofile.

I am particularly excited to be able to see Katie Chatfield’s presentation which was unable to be shown on the night. I am also keen to see the following presentations which I missed while collecting tickets at the front door:

You can also see my presentation on what happens when the world view of a four-year-old meets the Cluetrain Manifesto. Don’t forget to catch the fascinating Dr Adrienne Whithall’s presentation on happiness.

In fact, ALL the presentations were fantastic … take an hour or so and fill your mind to the brim. You’ll be all the better for it.

Open Mic Blogging @ Drew’s

I think this is a great idea … open your blog up to the chaos of individual content and perspective! My good friend and co-Age of Conversation conspirator, Drew McLellan, has opened the door to you all!

That’s right, one of the world’s most respected marketing bloggers is offering a spot EVERY Friday. All you need to do is take a look at the profile of Drew’s readership and then e-mail Drew with a post.

I, for one, am looking forward to this series. It is bound to be suprising.

Oh, and do you like this photo? Wonder if they are related to Sean who apparently is my “naked nemesis”.