Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Social Media at Momiji: Week 3

Social media is any website, forum or application that lets you store and share content (text, photos or videos), communicate with others, and/or have followers and follow others.  Beyond Facebook and Twitter there’s a social media for every interest, including, news, career/ business, music, art, photography, creative writing, technology and more.  Over the next two sessions I’ll spotlight some of the most popular. For those of you with children in your life, I’ll highlight what they’re up to on the net these days.

Most of the websites discussed in this workshop can be browsed without joining.  Join only if you want to share your content or express your thoughts.  Take your time, do some research (lurk) particularly for any site you decide to pay to join. Consider your internet footprint. While putting yourself out there may be well worth the risk, personally and/or professionally, get to know your comfort zone. 

Removing your internet footprint:

Before you become active or more active on social media, it’s worthwhile to be informed about your internet footprint and best practices (the legal stuff).  For instance, the first version of this blog was wiped out and renamed due to a rash, misinformed personal attack on my professional reputation and the reputation of supervisory staff at workplace where I’m employed part-time. I followed best practices and yet an individual was able to cause trouble for me in the ‘real world’.  The internet isn’t terribly fair. So, Google yourself, if you haven’t already.  Yahoo yourself too.  Try Facebook’s new privacy tool as well.  You can delete posts and content or close any account, but your stuff will remain searchable for at least 3 weeks and possibly forever.  This wiki-how article does a great job of describing the steps required to attempt to eliminate your internet presence (my apologies for the confusing ads contained in therein): 


It has become much more than just a search engine. This blog, for instance came along with my Google email account (gmail). Google+ is a social network you can personalize.  Google ‘Drive’ offers a range of free online programming for office, home and student use.  This includes Google Docs, a free document creation and sharing program, as well as a shareable spreadsheet software (similar to Window’s Excel) and much more.  Picassa is Google’s photo retouching, sharing and storage service. Most of google’s office-type services can be published to the web as a distinct page accessed by a url (which you can post in a blog, comment or status update).  Yahoo, another search engine offers email, and ‘groups’, which anyone with a or account can open and administer for free. 


Blogging is for those who love to write and want to share information and/or ideas about their personal or business-related interests. Most blog accounts give you the ability to personalize your page display, create posts with links, photos and videos, receive comments from readers and have followers.  Google’s “Blogger” service is just one of many free and for fee blogs available.  Technically Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr are blogs, because they function as platforms for putting your voice and interests out there in the internet ether, and for receiving feedback from followers.  Some blogging ‘hosts’ or platforms are more searchable than others, depending on the host’s blog access and/or your settings (open to all or limited) and popularity, or number of followers.  Some offer fancier options. Wordpress is the most popular and commonly used in business, often as a newsletter and to encourage feedback. Many workplaces expect employees to have at least a basic understanding of Wordpress.


Reddit:  This news-oriented website has on occasion made news by applying the critical minds of its users to top stories.  It is sometimes used for live Q & A sessions (ex., author Robert J. Sawyer, politician, David Soknacki). The session is advertised in advance in other social media, such as Facebook and Twitter, so that those interested can read along or join in (if they have a Reddit account). Member posts are rated on the number of responses they receive.  Reddit membership options/ privileges increase with the number of posts you write and scale of discussion they generate. Also relatively new is an option to give ‘gold’ to a poster. Gold is bitcoin, which I believe you can purchase through Reddit. I’m assuming this feature is used to support charitable or political causes.

Of course you can comment directly on articles posted on news websites, such as CTV, CBC, Fox and so on. You can also sign up for news feeds for your internet browser, which will appear on your browser home page. Twitter allows you to follow news media and/or reporters/columnists. Radio used to be the fastest news provider. Twitter now puts you with the reporter and their smartphone at the scene. For in-depth stories, magazines are available on news feeds, twitter, etc. You don’t necessarily need a subscription.  Depending on the media outlet, some are free without limitations (Huffington Post), some allow a set number of free articles per month at no charge, and others restrict select articles.  


As I mentioned, you and people from across the globe can join Wikipedia and discuss, correct or even write articles, or provide photos. For this reason I include it among social media. and How-it-works, as far as I know (things are always changing on the net!) hire and pay qualified contributors. Wikipedia has expanded to include dictionary and how-to websites. All you need is an email address to sign on. You will be confined to the ‘Sandbox’, that is you’ll be monitored and have limited privileges, until you learn how to format and compose on the site.

Another organically created website is the Urban Dictionary. Warning, it’s x-rated, by and for youth. Young people submit definitions to common and youth-culture words and phrases and the most liked definition rises to the top. I’m letting you know about this site, because besides being an example of crowd sourcing like wiki, it’s an up to the minute window into the often closed to adults world of today’s youth.

Photo Sharing

Tumblr, Imgur, Flickr:  Tumblr is very popular among tweens, teens and the under 25 set.  In addition to functioning like a blog, it’s a place to share and store photos and GIFs (photos often found via Google image search, animated together in short loops so that the subject repeats a usually humorous action over and over).  People on Tumblr (and elsewhere) also use graphics software, including Photoshop, to alter photos for artistic or humorous effect. This is called photomanipulation.  People share a variety of images on photo sharing sites as well as other social media like Pinterest, Facebook, and Twitter.  Dedicated photo sharing sites such as Flickr, have photo contests and other features attractive to shutterbugs.

Backing up your photo albums on the cloud is wise due to the real possibility loss due to weather, flood or fire.  (Backup as well on your hard drive and external storage such as thumb drives.)  Photo sharing and cloud storage also comes packaged with major operating systems, including Windows and camera software (HP and others) and via Adobe (known for its internet, office and graphics software).  Choosing the photo service that’s right for you may involve trying out a few. 


Pinterest is a unique website. Each person has a ‘board’ or set of pages devoted to ideas, recipes, photos, home d├ęcor, art, objects that they find interesting or beautiful. This is a forum on taste, rather than personal/ family/ work life.  You do not have to have the creative rights to items you pin on your board. For example you might display a Martha Stewart cookie recipe.  Anyone can find Pinterest images and links via google or other search engines. Only members can ‘pin’ other members’ posts to their own board. The number of pins or favourites a post receives will bring it to the top in searches. I don’t belong to Pinterest, but find it helpful resource for art and craft ideas for teaching. 

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