Monday, August 27, 2007

Wal-mart's facebook page and user reaction

Wal-mart dove into the social media pool again earlier this month with a Facebook page promoting a Roommate Style Match. They've gotten lot of press, mostly due to the negative comments from facebook users.

I did a quick tally and it looks like about 60 percent of the 200+ comments are negative, but about 25 percent are positive or even defending Wal-mart (the rest had little to do with Wal-mart either way). Here are some of the most interesting.

From a user angry about the invasion of corporate profiles on socnet sites (and a reminder to all of us to tread carefully in this domain):


Here's a comment that reminds us of how media savvy we all are these days:


A lash out against myspace as an ad platform:


And finally, a comment about Wal-mart and moderation. By the way, it's a good thing Wal-mart did not moderate these comments. If you're going to play in this space it's important to keep an open dialog.



These comments are all good reminders about how to think about this space and about interacting with users. Remember, they talk back--and that's good.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Young People and Happiness Study

MTV and Associated Press released a study today about young people and what makes them happy. Of their many findings, the following:

"Cell phones, the Internet and other technologies are integrally woven into the lives of today's young people and nearly two thirds say they make people happier. Half of those young people polled say the Internet alone helps them feel happier.

And here's a quote from almost 30 years ago from some of the founder of the Internet (JCR Licklider & Robert W. Taylor,"The Computer as a Communication Device," Science and Technology, 1968):

"Life will be happier for the on-line individual because the people with whom one interacts most strongly will be selected more by commonality of interests and goals than by accidents of proximity."


An interesting prediction that seems to have come true.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Expedia MySpace page is live!


Expedia just launched its own MySpace page today. This was one of my favorite projects to work on. The client was amazing and the concept is great, if I do say so myself.

What's so great about it?

For starters, it relies on real people to blog from their travel location. This page is not able selling products but rather connecting with people via travel. It also lets other MySpace users take fun stuff back with them to their own page, such as travel "stickers," wall paper and a ticker that lets you know when the next traveler will be featured.

Please check it out, and make Expedia your friend!

Monday, August 6, 2007

Traditional vs. Digital Media


I got a great used copy of Saint McLuhan's "The Guttenberg Galaxy" this weekend. Flipping through it, I was reminded of this slide I created a good three years ago. I took it out of my social media deck because few folks really groked it. But I offer it up as part of the dialog, and have a feeling that three years later, a lot of us are a little smarter about this space. Feel free to comment on it. I welcome feedback.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Building the Ideal Digital Community

I was talking to a colleague the other day who urged me to post this paper, which I wrote during grad school a few years ago.

The idea is that the ideal digital community will actually be owned by its users, just as Linux is owned by its developers. While we have seen the "ownership" in a design sense of pages in MySpace and Facebook, we have yet to see a social network completely owned by its participants. Listserv may be the closest thing to participant ownership, but we have yet to see this in a social networking site. So, for example, what if MySpace was a cooperative owned by its users? Would it become a more credible advertising platform or would owners ban advertising? You get the gist.

The conclusion of the paper follows, and the entire paper is here.

Ideal virtual communities enable participant ownership and design, as well as decentralization. There must be a way to combine the methods of Linux development and distributed computing with structured virtual communities. As more mobile devices are Internet enabled, the potential to integrate these abilities in the everyday appear to be possible. What will it look like when distributed computing is applied to affordable housing challenges; or when the trade of goods enabled through virtual networks reduce the amount of garbage discarded; or when car pooling is empowered via trusted, mobile networks? When communities, whether defined by interest or geography, are empowered to truly work together to make decisions, take actions, and solve common problems, then the truly extraordinary may occur.