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What +1 Means For You (And Me)

Back in April 2011, Google unveiled what would be its version of “Like” or “Retweet”, in respect to Facebook and Twitter. Recently, I’ve found myself unabashed, stating “I’d plus one that“. Too easily, I fall into these social media/real life crossover effects. In an article from webseoanayltics.com, I discovered what exactly the +1 feature does.

It has effects on click through rates for ads and websites, weighs in on search engine optimization and works as a bookmarking feature (which is much more evident if you are a Google+ user). On Google+, your profile has a +1 tab where you can view everything you have +1’d. Articles you post or posts in general have a +1 for their popularity or a number totalling the number of people who have added a +1 to the post. 

In regards to SEO, “Google already uses data from 3rd party Social Media sites (Twitter, Facebook, Flickr etc) as signals to determine the Search Engine Results. As a result we should expect that the number of +1s of a page will be used as asignal on the future. Nevertheless by definition the +1 button gives more weight to what your friends think as important and as a result we should expect that it will carry more weight when one of your contacts voted for a particular page,” states Vasilis Vryniotis, who wrote the article The New Google +1 Button and the Effects on SEO. He went on to state ‘As we said above the +1 button will allow users recommend and share content with their friends and it will be visible next to the search results. Along with them the logged in users will be able to see if the people that belong to their Social Circle have +1’d any of the pages that appear in SERPs. Currently the Social Circle is calculated based on the data that come from GmailGoogle TalkGoogle ContactsGoogle Reader and Google Buzz. Nevertheless Google says that on the near future they will incorporate information from other 3rd party networks such as Twitter, Flickr etc.”

On Google’s website describing +1, they state, “Sometimes it’s easier to find exactly what you’re looking for when someone you know already found it. Get recommendations for the things that interest you, right when you want them, in your search results”. The main point of this article, published soon after the release of +1, is that the more people that +1 this blog post on Social Ed Culture, the more likely it is to pop up higher on the list of results for a google search related to this article or with words within my “tags”. So please, +1 this article!


Here Comes Everybody, With New Online Tools For Activists

Mashable.com has become my primary source for developments in social media, emerging technology and even pop culture. Not a surprise as the site is so customizable. Today, I stumbled upon an article titled, 5 Online Tools For Activists, by Activists, by Susannah Vila. As introduced in the article, Vila “directs content and outreach at Movements.org, an organization dedicated to identifying, connecting and supporting activists using technology to organize for social change”.

In her article, she identifies five online tools: 1) CrowdVoice 2) Sukey 3) Off-the-Record Messaging 4) Crabgrass and 5) Piddler. These tools emerge as niche-oriented platforms for activists. Vila theorizes that through a need for socialization, which directly correlates with the same statement by Clay Shirky in his book; Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations, users will congregrate online to support like causes. Shirky was led by the same conclusion that the majority of people who participate online in support of a cause are initially pulled in by watching their peers become active within a similar activism and from there they share and inform others. Vila and Shirky share this common outlook, Shirky outlined examples of when activism catches on within a circle of influence and becomes a online phenomen which potentially occurs at certain points when a social network is popular at a given time and not crowded by other sites. This may be at points when there are not prominently emerging sites, like Google+’s unveiling. Will we see large scale following of causes in the near future, once the shock of this new social media tool takes on relative use? Shifts for movements due to shifts in or primary, popular networks.

Vila lists five online tools that are newly emerging that could potentially sway a large crowd if they become popular enough globally, to effectively advocate a cause. CrowdVoice is open to all users to share content to support causes and share information related to their concern. Among the current topics are LGBTQ Rights in the USA, Protests in Iran, Demands for Reform in Jordan, the topics are varying and may be too broad for users to find a cause to become passionate about if it becomes to difficult to discover peers. Aesthetically, the site appears to be cluttered with information.

“Sukey is our name for a set of applications designed to keep you protected and informed during protests. When you see something interesting, you tell us. When we’re confident that something has actually happened, we tell you,” states the website of Sukey.org. Accompanied by a mobile application, this site appears to take action itself, mobilizing others to follow suite. They claim to “keep demonstrators safe, mobile and informed”. Based in London, Sukey encourages users to use twitter as a form of notification, brought together through hashtags. Off-the-Record Messaging appears to be the more dangerous of the suggestions, it encrypts your messages so that they cannot be read by those intercepting the message. This may imply to some people that users have something to hide, which can be both good and bad.

Crabgrass is a software that is more directed for the organization that would utilize its services rather than the overall audience that would be supporting an organization. It was setup by Riseup. Vila points out that the United Nations Development Programme and Camp for Climate Action are both users of Crabgrass, which definitely adds credibility to the service.

Finally, Vila suggest Piddler as an online tool for activists. Piddler is a social network allowing users to be completely anonymous beyond information they provide. It is secure and may provide the opportunity for activists to organize and mobilize their efforts for activism without being traced and followed by advertisements or opposing organizations. The site claims to be “clever, secure and quick,” which are definitely terms that one would be looking for in a social network.

The five tools outlined by Vila are great resources for those looking to become active; they provide very different benefits of safety, privacy, secure communication, mobilizing and connection. Here Comes Everybody can be embodied by many networks that Shirky could not have even been aware of when writing his book, but the evolution of activism and the ability of those to come together online continues to develop.


“Campaign Dimensions” Applied to Humorous Online Politics Guide

In a series of articles published by PoliticsMagazine.com and written by Professor Alan Rosenblatt Ph.D., the main focus is on The Dimensions of a Digitally Networked Campaign, followed by three supporting articles in which one dimensional, two dimensional and three dimensional digital networks can be utilized within a campaign and must be integrate together for that campaign to potentially be successful. The ability of individuals receiving and collecting messages from the campaign and how they internalize those messages is related to how they are broadcasted, transacted and discussed (or networked). Within the first dimension there is a focus on information and a campaign disseminating relevant facts and statements in a one-way communication. For campaigns, this would be the obvious first step, telling people what you’re all about or what you stand for without expecting a verbal response. In a two dimensional strategy the individual, or “voter”, as Rosenblatt references them, is given the opportunity to transact or engage in an action that would preferably benefit the campaign or cause. Finally, in the three dimensional strategy, the voters are able to discuss the cause or issue without interference or interaction of the campaign. they are interacting “off the grid”, in these cases you would hope that your initial message you disseminated in one-way communication would have a root meaning, allowing voters to spread the “gist” of your argument.

Rosenblatt’s Campaign Dimensions article series provides a framework by which a political campaign can be designed within. A campaign would realistically start with communication, rallying people to join you for a cause you can effectively articulate. In Online Politics 101, by Colin Delaney, we are introduced to a comprehensive online guide to social media and social networking, web design/layout, strategy, influence, optimization and rules for online politics. This guide is humorous and witty, allowing the reader the opportunity to image how they might utilize these suggestions without overshadowing jargon. Delaney shows how through social media tools, or online political tools, you can effectively communicate one dimensionally through your website or “hub”. In a transactional sense, he provides insight on what and what not to do in an email marketing campaign and how to manage your email list, as well as pointing out some issues to look out for or what to expect. The community aspect of Rosenblatt’s articles can be demonstrated in Online Politics 101 from a bloggers point of view or through social networking. The culmination of a informative, transactional and community oriented dimensions and spread throughout your overall strategy, which Delaney broke down for each element, within the online campaign.

In conclusion, Rosenblatt’s series on campaign dimensions set a framework for how to gain useful tactics from Online Politics 101. Looking at the tools in Delaney’s text from a dimensional angle, you see a clear path of how to logically construct a political or advocacy campaign.