Weekly Reading Ramblings – Week 4 (Part I)


Robin Rambling on Week 4 Readings (Part I)


This week’s readings were about community engagement, collective action, and participating in Twitter Chats – a form of community engagement, in my opinion.  If you don’t know what I mean by that, you’ll have to read through my ramblings.  And, even if you feel me – hopefully, you’ll keep reading as well.  You can even leave a comment at the bottom there.  Yes – see, right there at the bottom where it says to “leave a reply” – feel free to share your insights with me!

Chapters 6 & 7 of Clay Shirky’s Here Comes Everybody

clayshirkyIn Chapter 6, Shirky focuses on collective action and institutional challenges using the  1992 and 2002 priest/molestation scandals involving the Catholic Church to show how social tools have helped shape the power of groups when acting together.  The difference in the two time periods is obviously the spread of internet usage and the creation of social tools, such as Twitter, Facebook, blogs, and the like.  In 1992, the Catholic Church was able to keep the scandal and actions of Reverend Porter relatively under wraps because parishioners couldn’t easily share information about the scandal with one another or readily coordinate an group action.  On the other hand, in 2002, these obstacles of geography and shared information were no longer obstacles.  The Boston Globe series detailing the history of Father Geoghan, the priest who worked at various parishes in the Boston archdiocese since the 1960s and during that time had molested over a hundred boys, was able to be shared with ease through social networks and e-mail.

Shirky noted that “the impulse to share important information is a basic one, it’s manifestations have often been clunky,” and he is right.  I immediately remembered the newspaper clippings haphazardly Screenshot 2014-03-15 21.04.37held by magnet to my grandmother’s refrigerator.  She would clip any article that she thought my mother needed to read and each week a large portion of the time that my mother spent with her was taken over by the forced “share of information.”  My mother would have rather read these clippings later in the evening when she had arrived home and spent the few hours that she had to spend with my grandmother, having a conversation.  I think the part that my mother missed was that my grandmother wanted her to read the articles right then because she was not only interested in sharing this “important” information but then having an intellectual discourse about that topic.  To be fair, I think another reason was that she didn’t trust my mother to actually read the clipping from Ann Landers that she found so important.  Shirky’s point was that the exchange of information prior to the social tools of today was time consuming and the seemingly minor difficulties of clipping and saving or clipping and mailing a newspaper article were significant enough to limit the frequency.  I don’t think everyone was determined as my grandmother and I will discuss those determined people and their impact more when we get to Chapter 7 and later in Chapter 10.

Going back to the Catholic Church scandal, it wasn’t just the fact that “easier and wider dissemination of information changes group awareness,” but that in order to have a large effect, there would need to be a change in collective action as well.  Shirky uses the group Voice of the Faithful (VOTF), started in 2002 by Boston physician James Muller–only a few weeks after the Boston Globe series appeared–to show how the use of social tools not only made it easier to share information across geographical boundaries but to grow an organization’s membership exponentially in a previously unheard of period of time.  Thirty people showed up in the basement of a church in January of 2002 for the first VOTF meeting. By March, more than 500 people overflowed their small meeting room and by the summer of 2002, VOTF hosted their first convention boasting over 25K members.  The rate of growth was almost a thousandfold increase and until social tools came into play, this was inconceivable.  In many ways, it still is. I have helped increase membership for many organizations and although, I’m good, I have never increased membership by that many, especially in that amount of time–nor have I seen it done.  Nonetheless, one of the differences between pre-social tools and 2002 was the ease in group discovery and joining.  With social networks, email, and websites it is much easier to locate groups that hold the same interests or passions that you do and once you locate them, it is easier to get information about their mission and goals. Plus, when you are ready to actually join the group, a simple online registration form and PayPal widget for dues saves each person a ton of time. Social tools then save the organization or group money because printed materials and mailing costs are no longer a factor.  The growth of VOTF, along with the growth of several other groups with similar missions, helped effect change in the Catholic Church due to the power of collective action.  Shirky notes that before social tools, the Catholic Church was not “inimical to improvised global organization of its parishioners because it simply wasn’t an option.”

Finally, in the last two paragraphs of Chapter 6 Shirky explains that “social tools don’t create collective action–they merely remove the obstacles to it.”  A point that I believe is often forgotten or overlooked by many.  People have protested organizations and governments forever – anyone remember the Conflict in Vietnam?  Imagine what could have been different if the protesters of the 1960s to early 1970s had been able to use the social tools of today?  I will end this discussion the way that Shirky ended Chapter 6–with a quote that spoke volumes to me:

“Revolution doesn’t happen when society adopts new technologies–it happens when society adopts new behaviors.”

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Screenshot 2014-03-15 20.26.23In Chapter 7 Shirky explains the difference between the power of individual action and collective action using the 1989 protests of the German Democratic Republic in Leipzig in comparison to the use of Flash Mobs and other socially coordinated tools of today as an example of how collective action can bring social change.  I found the history of Flash Mobs quite interesting as I have a weird fascination with them– I always wanted to be a part of one or randomly be surrounded by one.  Ironically enough, Flash Mobs began as a way to mock hipster culture (and you just have to love that) but over time they have become a useful tool of government protesters in places such as St. Petersburg, Russia and Belarus.

Never seen a Flash Mob?  Check out this video:

And here is one for political action:

Being who I am and believing in liberty and freedom, I found this chapter especially interesting due to its political content.  I actually LOLed when Shirky explained one particular Flash Mob protest of the Lukashenko government in Belarus.  People were instructed to show up in Oktyabrskaya Square to eat ice cream and were subsequently arrested by the tyrannical socialist regime.  The catch?  As police were hauling away the ice cream eaters, bystanders were snapping digital photographs and video to upload to Flickr and Livejournal to show the world the Lukashenko oppression.  Shirky states “Nothing says ‘police state’ like detaining kids for eating ice cream.”

Wow!  Doesn’t that just sum it all up?  Before social tools, governments were able to get away with a lot more.  Shirky explains that “political action has changed when a group of  previously uncoordinated actors can create a public protest that the government can neither interdict in advance nor supress without triggering public documentation.”  Today, tyrannical governments get away with far too much in my opinion but when they are really naughty–they have to be better at hiding their secrets because the internet seems to tell all, just like it did with the NSA.

Remember when I mentioned those “determined” people in the discussion of Chapter 6?  Shirky brings up an incredibly important point about the motivation of groups and the determined people behind them.  Many people believe that a group of hundreds is run by hundreds when in actuality it is the determination and driving force of a handful that keeps the group running.  He states “many people care a little about the treatment they get from airlines or banks, but not many care enough to do anything about it on their own, both because that kind of effort is hard and because individual actions have so little effect on big corporations.”  This also applies to political change and is something that a person in my line of work deals with every day.  For example, during the 2012 Ron Paul Campaign in Shelby County (I was the Chair for the Official Ron Paul Campaign), each of my team members couldn’t wait to participate when it was something they perceived as “fun,” such as a protest or a sign wave.  However, when it came to the actual “work” of the campaign such as the door-to-door activities, phone banking, Get Out the Vote, and poll standing –the activities that actually WIN election–they weren’t as interested.  In fact, some wouldn’t even participate.  It was left to the handful of highly determined and motivated team members to carry the weight of the group.

Shirky reminds us that the “old model for coordinating group action required convincing people who care a little to care more, so that they would be roused to act” but now “the highly motivated people can create a context more easily in which the barely motivated people can be effective without having to become activists themselves.”  This may be true for some groups and somewhat so for political action, but isn’t the case when it comes to political campaigns.  Yes, the Facebook groups and meme sharing are needed and those who aren’t as motivated can certainly help with certain tasks–the spreading of the message, the education of others, and the sign waving.  However, when it comes to the actual actions that WIN the election the motivated “people who were on fire” still wonder “why the general population didn’t care more, and the general population” still wonders “why those obsessed people didn’t just shut up!”

Click Here for Part II – Twitter Chats

Weekly Reading Ramblings – Week 4 (Part II)


Robin Rambling on Week 4 Readings (Part II)


Screenshot 2014-03-15 21.10.4410 Tips for Participating in Dizzying Twitter Chats                                                  by Kenna Griffin                                                           

Journalist and media veteran, Kenna Griffin supplies Twitter Chat n00bs with some helpful hints to overcome the first time jitters.

Griffin explains that feeling overwhelmed during one’s first handful of Twitter Chats is extremely normal and that the fast pace of the posts can cause a dizzying effect in most people.  However, she believes that the information and connections that one gains from the experience is worth taking a deep breath and not giving up.

Griffin spells out some simple reminders and guidelines for the Tweet Chat beginner, ranging from the importance of the Chat subject matter to understanding the chat’s rules.  She also gives the basic instructions for tweeting a formal introduction and reminds readers that it’s okay to miss things during the chat – not all tweets are meant for everyone.

Personally, I found her 10 Tips to be quite helpful as I am just now learning the ins and outs of the Tweet Chat.  For example, I wasn’t aware that each chat had specific rules and those rules were typically given out approximately one hour to 30 minutes before the scheduled start time.  I was also relieved to know that it was in fact correct to use the TweetChat hashtag EVERY time you posted, even when speaking to a person from the chat through a direct message and that following people with whom you spoke during the TweetChat was appropriate and encouraged.

If you are new to Twitter or just new to Tweet Chats (or Twitter Chats, depending on who you are talking to), I highly suggest you check out Kenna Griffin’s 10 Tips for Participating in Dizzying Twitter Chats and some of the other articles located at the bottom of this post.

Other Articles of Interest for this Week:

Need More Information about Twitter Chats?

Check out these articles which provide helpful hints, tips, and tricks:

(VIDEO) How To Twitter Chat

(VIDEO) How to Participate in a Live Twitter Chat

Find Your Perfect Twitter Chat Match:


Journal #4 – The Twitter, the Tweet, & Me


The Twitter, the Tweet, & Me


“Create some lists on Twitter related to your beat and other interests. Find some new people to follow related to your topic of focus and other interests. Start interacting with others in your area of focus. Describe what you did in your journal blog.”

So Twitter, we meet again.  Last week, after reading the Mashable Twitter GuideBook, I was feeling a bit more comfortable with the whole Tweetin’ thing.  It’s not that I don’t know how to tweet or dislike tweeting – it’s that i’m not the most comfortable with tweeting.  I often wonder – why tweet?

I mean, I get it – “live life in 140 characters or less.”  If you haven’t noticed – that’s not exactly MY motto.  In fact, I would feel rather hypocritical even pretending to use it seriously. However, I am a Political Public Relations person – I suppose I should become “twiterate” quickly.

In order to move forward in becoming “twiterate,” there is this thing called organization through list-making that I must attend to.  Great – organization – another term that typically escapes me – especially in the social media world.  I never got into “lists” on Facebook and finding bookmark on my browsers was like searching for a needle in a haystack until recently.  I’m good at organizing and work stuff is always well-organized but my personal life is always lacking in organization.  I have specific places for all my clothes and expensive hangers and drawers on which to put them, but somehow yesterday’s clothes (last week’s clothes) are usually found tossed over a chair and several pairs of shoes are lining the hallways and rooms of my house.  Maybe the word I am in need of here is none other than motivation…or time.  Yes…time.  That’s probably the one.

But…I  figured that not every person who sings the praises of Twitter Lists could be wrong and maybe, just maybe it would make Twitter more Robin-friendly – especially for my new TN Liberty blog.  This way I could easily keep track of each section of Tennessee.  Hopefully, this list-making would keep me from overlooking any current events and grievances, state legislation, and news specifically relevant to the state of Tennessee and the issues of the Liberty Movement.

So in keeping with my new found organizational spirit, I started making those pesky lists.

twitter_bird_follow_me twitter list

The next step was to finally download TweetDeck – a dashboard/app type device that supposedly makes Twitter more organizable and easier to use.  Done.  If you’re interested in using TweetDeck, Google Chrome browser has a nifty free app/extension that you can download, by clicking here.

Then, as I began to rifle through the 840 people that I’m currently following, I decided that one of my future steps would be to give the ol’ Twitter a good spring cleaning.  Not today – but someday soon.  Before reading the Mashable Twitter GuideBook I really didn’t understand that Twitter was “different’ than other social mediums in terms of the following/follower relationship.  I felt that because some random nutjob followed me that I owed it to him/her/it to follow back.  Does anyone want to take a guess as to what that left me with?  Yep – a whole lot of weirdos, nutjobs, and people I am tired of hearing from every 2 minutes.  But, for now, the  nutjobs would remain.

Once I had TweetDeck up and running and started to use the +Create lists button, I began to remember why I am not a social media organizer.  There are too many crossovers – too many possibilities – nothing is cut and dry!  What is an over-analyzing follow freak to do?

You guessed it!  I made a ton of Twitter Lists.  I’m not sure I’m any more organized now than I was before.  When I think about it, I kind of liked the haphazard Twitter feed.  I would see a tweet about politics or a Young Americans for Liberty meme, right before one about a new journalism startup or a restaurant opening in memphis, followed by a friend posting another story explaining the anti-feminist culture of television or a guy friend explaining how he “leveled up” (whatever it is called these days) on WoW or Skyrim, followed by an album release date by The Dirty Guv’nahs, Jason Isbell (a Tiger alumni by the way), and Lucero, or a neat fact from Pew Internet or UberFacts and the most recent Tiger Basketball score.  It kept me current and well-rounded.

At that moment is when I realized that I would use the Twitter Lists when I needed them to make sure I was getting all the pertinent news for my TN Liberty blog but I would keep my news feed formatted in the way that made me who I am today, for daily viewing.

As I started to put the people into groups, the cross-overs and the decisions about what stockfresh_id322778_shouting-bluebird_sizeXS-300x300type of group they should belong to, began to make me crazy.  I couldn’t decide where these people should go.  Were they a newspaper or a media news organization?  What if they were a friend but also a musician?  How about a member of the Liberty movement and a classmate?  What if they weren’t exactly a Liberty Organization but they weren’t a real person either?  All this classification was unnatural.  Aren’t we taught to not classify people?  I was finding this to be quite challenging.

So, I took a deep breath and did the best I could.  Some people and organizations overlap.  I guess that ‘s life though.  Nothing is ever neat and perfect.  You have gray areas and cross-overs, friends that belong in more than one group, and friends you don’t know what to do with.

Here is a list of my Twitter lists:

use twitter listsFor more about Twitter Lists, check out some of these helpful articles:

The Complete Guide To Using Twitter Lists Like a Pro by 


How to Get Started With New Twitter Lists by Amy-Mae Elliott at Mashable

8 tips for using Twitter Lists by  at Poynter

How to use Twitter lists to replace Google Reader by Allyson Kazmucha

Twitter Lists Explained: How to Create, Find and Get On Them by Amanda MacArthur

Twitter lifts the limits on Lists by Jack Schofield for Jack’s Blog

Twitter Enhances Lists: 4 Ways To Take Advantage by Steve Cooper at Forbes

Twitter Lists – The Complete Guide by Twitter Power Systems Blog

Make the Most of Twitter Lists: Essential Tips and Tricks by  at  GeekSugar

HOW TO MAKE TWITTER LISTS by   at Digital Trends

twitter groups

Journal # 3 – Topic Blog Influencers


Topic Blog Influencers

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“Develop a list of at LEAST three other blogs or Web sites that meaningfully address your topic of interest.  For professionals, a blog is often a “hub” for other social media activity occurring around the web. Summarize and evaluate some of the key features of each blog or site using bullet points on your journal blog.

Answer all of the following questions: What kind of problem do these websites/blogs help solve for their audience and/or what needs do they fulfill? What do they do well? What could they improve? Can you identify any gaps in their content or features that a competitor could fill, and how is what you could offer different or better? Look at their social media presence and the comments or interaction they get: Are they cultivating an active community around their site?”

My Topic Blog, TN Liberty, is a forum in which to share information about news, events, politics, and laws concerning our state. All conservative and liberty-minded activists, students, campus and community leaders, and voters, are encouraged to contribute. TN Liberty, is also a location for resources concerning bills up for approval, TN Congressional representative’s contact information, statewide and county events, activism advice, mentorship, and grassroots training, among other issues as needed and requested. TN Liberty serves as an extension of the TN and MS Leadership page on Facebook and may ultimately be followed with a MS Liberty blog. There are contributing writers on topics concerning the Liberty Movement in Tennessee, liberty-minded issues, and various opinion columns.

For this assignment I started by searching for other bloggers who are advancing the liberty movement. I found that many of these sites were highly specialized and a little on the fringe. That is not the type of blog that I want TN Liberty to be. I feel that it should be specialized by pertaining to the state of Tennessee, but it should also contain information about why the Liberty Movement is so important, how our government is violating the Constitution, and what actions a citizen, can take to advocate for Liberty and Freedom.

Next, I found an interesting site that ranked the top libertarian leaning (or liberty-minded so as not to be confused with the Libertarian Party) websites according to Alexa and Compete.

Here I settled on several top ranking and well-known liberty-minded sites to which I could make some comparisons.

They are as follows:


The Liberty Paper

The Liberty Crier

Let’s start with Reason.

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  • Reason is the monthly print magazine of ‘free minds and free markets.'”
  • “It covers politics, culture, and ideas through a provocative mix of news, analysis, commentary, and reviews.”
  • Reason provides a refreshing alternative to right-wing and left-wing opinion magazines by making a principled case for liberty and individual choice in all areas of human activity.”
  • Reason.com is updated daily with articles and columns on current developments in politics and culture. It also contains the full text of past issues of the print edition of Reason.”
  • At first glance, reason.com looks a little messy in terms of visual appearance.  A little cluttered and although I understand that this is because the site’s home page is the first stop for ReasonTV, Reason24/7, the Hit & Run Blog, and stories from the printed magazine, as well as the location for Top News Stories (sortable by Featured and New) and a lot of advertisements.
  • Reason is financially backed by a national non-profit and thus, has the ability to aggregate thousands of news stories as well as employ a staff of over 50 for the website.  However, I believe they could significantly improve their website by maximizing the white space and uncluttering the articles.  It could look much cleaner.  Once you click on the headings for the different sites within the site, they pages get a bit cleaner and more visually appealing.
  • TN Liberty is a more more localized blog/site and will not need to run every single news story and headline that potentially has anything to do with liberty or liberty politics.
  • Reason does enjoy a fabulous social media presence with stories and photos shared through their Facebook  page and on their Twitter each day.  On Twitter, Reason has over 130K followers and on Facebook, over 125K likes.

Next, we examine The Liberty Paper:

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  • The Liberty Paper  is a web-based news site commentating and reporting on legislation and events, which affect the American peoples’ liberty domestic and abroad.”
  • The Liberty Paper was launched in the summer of 2012, by political commentator and legislative lobbyist, Michael Lotfi.”
  • “To date, TheLibertyPaper.org has enjoyed an ever-growing, loyal fan base, which has generated hundreds of thousands of readers in more than 140 countries around the world.”
  •  TheLibertyPaper.org is updated only semi-regularly with articles and columns on current developments in politics and culture. If you look at the current home page, you will see that the most recent article posted is from January 27th, 2014.
  • TheLibertyPaper.org is also riddled with advertisements and donate here boxes.  I understand why Michael Lofti would choose to accept advertising and donations – hopefully, someday soon, the TN Liberty blog will also accept advertisements and donations.  However, I feel the visual esthetics of the site could be cleaner and the ad placements more controlled.
  • TheLibertyPaper.org is run by a friend of mine.  He is a recent graduate of Belmont College in Nashville, TN and a well-known activist in the state.  However, I have mixed opinions of his work, his self-promotion, and his ability as a journalist.  Each story is riddled with grammatical errors to say the least.  He was also given a column at the Washington Post.  On his first article, there were complications and the post was ultimately removed due to his lack of due diligence and his reporting false information.
  • TN Liberty is will certainly provide a more grammatically correct site as well as one that is more visually appealing.  However, it will not focus as heavily on National stories and investigative muckracking.  I hope to provide a forum in which concerned residents of the state can ask for advice as well as receive news – especially that which is most pertinent to their area.
  • TheLibertyPaper.org does have a social media presence with stories and photos shared through their Facebook  page and but no Twitter as far as I can find.   On Facebook, it has just a little over 4K likes.

Finally, let’s take a look at The Liberty Crier:

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  •  The Liberty Crier is updated daily with articles and columns on current developments in politics and culture. If you look at the current home page, you will see that the a rotating Top Story Box
  • The Liberty Crier is a very visually appealing blog sites with a lot of features.  The masthead is clean and displayed prominently.

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  • Some other interesting aspects that The Liberty Crier features are categories for:

1. Top Headlines

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2.  Member Blog Posts

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3.  Documentaries

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4.  Channels

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  •  The Liberty Crier seems a bit lacking in their social media presence with their Twitter receiving only 1200 followers.  Their Facebook page has only 8.9K likes.  This seems rather odd to me because it is not being a new website.
  •  I envision the TN Liberty blog looking closer to this blog/site than any of the others in this review/comparison.  I also plan to add a forum for discussions among Tennessee residents and allow for contributing writers as well.  The main difference will be that TN Liberty will be localized plus – it will have a much bigger social media presence.

Weekly Reading Ramblings – Week 2


Robin Rambling on Week 2 Readings

Social media

I know exactly how Anne Trebek feels. No, i’m not a book editor or a literary critic. I don’t live in Cleveland or mingle among the literary and academic elite. I do, however, use Twitter…and Facebook…and Tumblr…and any other social medium that allows me to connect with people. People who share my passion for liberty, freedom, Ron Paul, education, journalism, animal rescue, travel, and about a million other hobbies and interests. In the past two years, I have been lucky enough to meet people, experience opportunities, and open doors that would have remained closed, if it weren’t for the vast reach and power of the internet’s social networking capabilities.

In “Only the Literary Elite Can Afford Not to Tweet” in SFGate,  Trubek explores the upside to being a member of a social media community.  She is an avant Twitter user and although, Twitter isn’t my favorite social networking site, it’s in my top three. I can easily see the Twitter appeal and it has helped boost my number of career connections, tenfold. Truth be told, it’s Twitter’s stringent 140 character limit that secures it’s number two spot on my favorite’s list. I know that comes as a shock to those of you who know me, but it’s not all about my lack of brevity. In order to be concise while Tweeting, one must use the “&” symbol and abbreviate words. My academic training rears its ugly head and that voice inside of me screams “NOoooooooo” whenever I begin to substitute symbols and abbreviations for words. I suppose it’s no longer the cardinal sin it once was and that just because I’m able to tweet using symbols and abbreviations doesn’t mean that i’m any closer to losing the ability to spell out words like “love,” “for,” and “you” with the teenage millennial substitutions of “luv,” “4,” and “u”. So far, I’ve managed to keep a significant number of followers while only using the abbreviated syntax sparingly.

Trubek noted that because of social media’s vast reach, she was able to gain an “intellectual community” that she otherwise lacked in her daily life. I can certainly relate. My local friends are by no means stupid, but many do not share my interests or passions – and if they do – there is a significant difference in our intensity levels. Now, that I have made my passion my work, it is nice to live two lives to some degree, as Trubek suggests. At her office, she “mingles” with intellectual equals who are eager to participate in conversations pertaining to her passion – editing, but when she closes her office door and opens her front door every evening, fulfilled by her work and her community, she is comfortable letting her other interests run free.

Growing up without the connectivity of the internet, I didn’t realize how big of a change it could make in one’s life until recently. After obtaining an Advertising degree and struggling to find work that didn’t feel like work, I began to question how I would be able to find happiness in a career for the next 50 years. I hated everything about the day to day and was disturbed about the lack of fulfilling jobs available in this city. One day, that all changed and it wasn’t until I read Anne Trubek’s words that I realized the debt I owed Facebook and Twitter. She is right – with social networking sites people are less judgemental. Even though physical appearance is part of that, I’m not talking about a “catfish” scenario. People of all ages can become friends and colleagues through Facebook and Twitter. In fact, one of my best friends, and fellow activists, lives right here in Memphis but I met her originally on Facebook. Her youngest son is a college student at the University of Memphis and she is 15-20 years my elder. I’ve actually never asked her age specifically, because it mattered so very little. However, I truly believe that without social media being our first connection – we would’ve never gravitated to each other. If meetings and networking events had been our first introduction, the categorical differences would’ve placed us in separate “groups.” Social media can act as a “leveller” in many ways. I have been able to change career paths and have conversations with cutting-edge influencers who give me the same respect as they give a 20-year political campaign veteran.

Next, Trubek addresses social media self-promotion. Many critics, with beliefs similar to Jonathan Franzen’s, consider garnering publicity for oneself through social media channels to be a new form of bragging and boasting – and it can be but it isn’t a cut and dry as they make it sound. I find the methods in which some self-promote to be arrogant and flamboyant. That doesn’t mean that all social media self-promotion is arrogant and flamboyant – in fact, if done correctly and with class – it won’t be a turn off, it will be a turn on – garnering you the attention you deserve. There will always be the “used car salesmen” of the internet but that doesn’t mean you have emulate their actions – there are plenty of ways to promote yourself, without selling yourself.

This week’s readings were very Twitter-ful and helped to give guidance in the art of Twittering. Okay, so you caught me. I’m trying to be cute because it’s easier than going through four articles on different standards and processes for one’s use of Twitter.


In “Storyful’s Validation Process” by Malachy Browne, he walks the reader through a series of steps that could help a journalist in the digital age of information ascertain the verifiable truth. First, he notes the mantra “there is always someone closer to the source,” and goes on to explain that journalist’s you should always try to locate the original source of any videos. Fair enough, you say? Exactly – wouldn’t most people do this? Well, one would think so but honestly, I’ve seen so many incorrect and false posts on Facebook that reliable sources just re-posted without verifying – I have come to realize the answer is No, most people wouldn’t do this. They would assume it was the truth, and we all know what happens when you assume. Browne explains the multitude of techniques that you can use such as examining the embedded data within the images, cross-referencing the video uploader’s social media accounts for location, reliability, bias, and length of existence, as well as consistent video quality and number of close friends, and checking the video descriptions for any telling information such as a date or a specific location or IP address.

Next, Browne gives an example of a video posted to YouTube that shows residents of coastal Meulaboh, Aceh fleeing from the April 11th, 2012 tsunami. Storyful was able to verify the video uploader was from Meulaboh, that he had previously uploaded other videos from Meulaboh in the past six months, and that he was an active Twitter user and blogger, as well as verify the location in the footage through a visible sign that read “Meulaboh Lagoon.” They concluded that this video was in fact truth and because they verified that information, they could feel good about publishing it.

Browne delineates several other techniques that one could use to corroborate the content of a video before assuming its truth. Once the uploader has been assessed, he suggests that you focus on the content.  First, you ask the obvious questions such as does anything in the video look out of place and does it make sense in the filming context.  Then you move to the more detailed questions by examining the background of the video and checking for geo-tagging, landmarks or topographical data. One should also check to ensure that weather conditions in the footage match other reports for that given day including checking to see if the shadows that appear in the videos jive with the time of day that is reported. Next, Browne reminds you to check for accents or dialects that could create a disconnect between the people speaking in the video and the location in which it is supposedly filmed, as well as verifying that other users have mentioned the “event” in local news reports, news wires, twitter feeds and lists, or by posting other videos and images.

At first glance this looks like a lot of work and admittedly, it takes time as Browne suggests. However, as journalists it is our responsibility to gather and report the FACTS – not the potential facts. A few extra minutes spent doing due diligence could ultimately save you a lot of time trying to repair your reputation. The world doesn’t forgive journalists as easy as it forgives Justin Bieber.

Other Articles of Interest for this Week:

The 2014 #JBowl Journey – Storified


The 2014 #JBowl Journey – Storified

#JBowl – no, this is not on the syllabus, and we haven’t really talked about Twitter yet. But let’s do it! SuperBowl has something for everyone – hate football? Well,there are always the ads, the halftime show etc. Or, you can use Twitter to express your disdain for all the above things. IMPOSSIBLE for you to watch even a few minutes? Google some of the ads or other clips that will be posted online after/during the game. Some of you have done this before, but it can be an interesting learning experience to actively participate in an event online. Tweet your thoughts/observations using the hashtag #jbowl. Show us “the scene” where you are watching the game. Respond to other folks also using the #jbowl hashtag. Create a Storify of the above…and include a few other tweets you found fun or interesting.

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