I tried TinyChat which is a video chat service that promises to supplant Skype but the true potential is in the features included in the $14.95/mth price. The video quality is high. The features are well integrated into the user interface. I think this could be a lot of fun for synchronous chat but I question why use TinyChat instead of ustream.tv or Livestream.
I’ve also tried Twirl TV which looks a lot like Hulu for the networks. They also claim to only be letting the first 10,000 people in.
From the beginning I’ve described social media (mostly under the guise of Twitter) as a large party. You enter the scene. You hear a lot of noise. You focus on some conversations and it gets exciting. You still hear a lot of noise. You make some friends. You bond. You make some people angry with flippant remarks. You lose some friends. You shout at the crowd. Everyone talks about you. You step off your soapbox and rejoin the conversation. Everyone forgets you. You step out of the room to go to the bathroom. When you return, you find the conversation continued without you. You try to get people to tell you what you missed. Eventually you figure out you just have to pickup where you left off. You learn that you cannot follow everyone in the room. You realize that even though you aren’t following everyone in the room some of those people are still listening to you. Some people get to stand on the stage and everyone follows them. You think it is unfair that you aren’t on the stage. You meet some of the right people but still aren’t lucky enough to get on the stage. You don’t understand. You resent the people on the stage. You decide to ignore them. The conversation goes on. Eventually you follow the people on the stage again because everyone else is talking about what they said. The conversation goes on. Eventually we all return home.
We have social rules in society. For instance, we don’t sneeze into our hand then immediately shake someone else’s hand. Some people have difficulty understanding social rules in real life. To further complicate these social rules, they vary from culture to culture. Now, introduce the Internet and it’s latest craze, social media. To be in, hip, popular, and just not ignored on the Internet right now, you must be "social." For businesses, this means engaging your customers.
A great example is Comcast’s Frank Eliason and his use of Twitter. Frank created the Twitter account @ComcastCares and started using keyword searches with tools like Summize to find customer’s complaining about Comcast’s service and he tackled these problems directly, one on one. Rather than the customer reaching out to Comcast, Frank reached out to the customer and redefined customer service on the Internet. Now many companies use Twitter and blog searches to engage customers, retain customers, and repair their corporate image.
Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh took the Zappos core value #6 "Build Open and Honest Relationships With Communication" to an extreme by encouraging staff to embrace Twitter and blogging. Tony tweets as @zappos and blogs under the Zappos CEO and COO Blog. Even though he is a busy CEO, he takes time to respond to people like me. That’s engagement!
So what of social rules online? Just read comments at a major media outlet such as Knoxnews.com and see how the power of apparent anonymity can turn the uninitiated Internet neophyte, what I would assume is a normally decent human being, into a royal ass. I see horrible comments in such forums that I cannot imagine a person having the audacity to utter in mixed company in person. Twitter is undeniably one of the best examples of social media on the Internet. In 140 characters, you share with your followers (and the world if your Tweets are not set to private) the mundane in your life, the news, announcements, or whatever suits your mood. Seems simple enough, but there are unwritten, social rules which have formed around the service. Genuine Jeremy Floyd polled his followers and published Rules of the Road-Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Twitterverse. If you feel his list needs expanding, head over to his blog and add your social rules in his comments. You can also send him a message through Twitter @jfloyd.
"Social media" is the latest buzz word. What social media is really trying to describe is The Conversation(patent pending). I explain to prospective clients that people came to the Internet for these reasons and in this order:
When building a website it is important to consider this order of precedence. Most people mistakenly want to build their website or web application in the reverse order providing entertainment then utility then information.
The Internet is a reflection of the real world.
Yes, I just quoted myself because I cannot emphasize it enough. As I have come to play around with Seesmic, I’ve tried to answer the question of "what is it?" Answers have included "Twitter with video" or "Beyond description" and simply "addictive." But none of those really describe it. This comes closer:
[Seesmic] makes all the other Internet addictions look like over the counter crap.
To use some analogies, Twitter is like being in a classroom or a meeting and passing notes around without speaking with the ability for others in the classroom to request to see your notes (unless you’ve deemed them private). Utterz is like a party with the lights out. You can hear conversations and participate in conversations but you cannot see anyone. [update: Since first making this post I have begun to compare Utterz to CB radio][Update 8/20/2008: Since first making this post, Utterz has added many features including video. Its UI (UX to the MS heads) has improved dramatically. Utterz added or retained features of linking picture and text posts to separately recorded audio posts. Utterz has grown into a powerful and robust system.] Seesmic is that same party with the lights on. You can see and hear everyone. You can following multiple conversations, or participate in the conversations, or just wander around and hear the ambient noise.
Businesses and people alike need to know that Social Media has combined the 3 important elements of the Internet (information, utility, and entertainment) into a single application. With social media I can post a question and get a response quickly (information). I can interact, for instance, with Twitter I can add myself to the RedCross safeandwell database (utility). And naturally I can be entertained through any of the mediums, Seesmic being the example that says "we don’t need Hollywood!" (entertainment).
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