Posts Tagged ‘Social Networking’


My work has always been about relationships

December 8, 2009

“It’s time I sling the baskets off this overburdened horse. Sink me toes into the ground, and set a different course”. – Phish, from “The Horse

I learned something about myself last week. Something I essentially already knew deep down, but hadn’t had the opportunity to jam into my face for several days straight. Everything I do in media, everything I do period, comes from a relationship I have formed along the way. Relationships are at the root of everything.

This might not sound like much. Of course, you might say. Sure, of course. But it isn’t “of course”. You have to experience it first hand, perhaps through a social experiment, like I just conducted, in which one group of data points in your sample place relationships at the center, and one group of data points in which relationships are almost entirely removed. Read the rest of this entry ?


Time to Put LiveJournal Out of Its Misery (A Note to International Media Trainers)

September 5, 2009

638335723_b785e0009b_oNormally, I focus more on promoting things done well rather than rail against things done poorly. But, I gotta say, there’s room for exception in some cases. Enter:  LiveJournal. I’m sorry, but I kinda think the world would be a better place without LiveJournal, given the available alternatives.

Sure, it would leave a huge number of people who use it to blog, express themselves, connect with others, create networks, social network, and whatever else they do, out in the cold. Particularly in eastern Europe, in places like Russia and Ukraine, where LiveJournal has a commanding lead in the blogging platform market. But, while my party line tends to be “try NOT to make things any harder in developing and transitioning countries, because they are hard enough already”, with LiveJournal I have to take a longview, pragmatic, and perhaps short-run heartless stance and say, “Cut the cord. You’ll thank me for it”.

Because, to everyone still on LiveJournal, I have to say:  in the end, all this platform’s doing is holding you back. It really is subtraction by addition. And besides, there are so many other options that are much, MUCH better.

Okay, here are my bones to pick with LiveJournal (and trust me, running through this is going to hurt me more than it is going to hurt you, LiveJournal devotees): Read the rest of this entry ?


MediaNext: Facebook and Social Networking – Training Links I Used in Ukraine

August 6, 2009
Here are the links I used during my MediaNext training seminars on Facebook, Vkontakte, and Social Networking for Ukrainian journalists and NGOs in June and July. You will find examples of how these tools are being used by journalists and NGOs (case studies, if you will), links to articles with statistics and trends in these tools, and other misc. links backing up with at I was training. You will also find at the bottom a section of “helpful links” and one on “Facebook Tips”. I was working with co-trainers, so these aren’t all of the links we used in our seminars. But, this gives you a good base.

Three other things to note:

  1. Languages – You will see that some of this is occasionally in Ukrainian or Russian. In those instances, I tried to provide an English translation to make it easier to read for non-speakers. In some cases, I have used Google Translate to translate into Ukrainian. Be careful with these, because occasionally the translations are a bit funny. However, they are close enough to be informative. Also, ideally I would have a Russian version, Ukrainian version, AND an English version. But, time is finite.
  2. Downloadable Version – I have also created a downloadable PDF version that might be a useful alternative for you. Please let me know if you have troubles with this, and I could post a different version.

I hope these links below will prove useful for you. I tried to stay current, using links and info only from 2008 and on. I’d love to hear any thoughts, questions, or feedback on any of this. Enjoy! Read the rest of this entry ?


MediaNext: Training Materials for Facebook Pages and Groups, in Russian and Ukrainian

July 17, 2009

In this post, you will find links to documents I created that explain how to use Facebook Pages and Groups in Ukrainian and Russian. If you click on the links, you should be able to download Word docs. I have also provide the links to the original English versions of each of the Facebook pages.

Unfortunately, I have been unable to find these instructions available in Ukrainian or Russian, so I had to translate them myself. I used Google Translate to do it. The translation will probably be a bit funny at times. Better than nothing, right? The text comes from Help Center pages on the Facebook site. I would have just run those pages themselves through Google Translate, and provided the links below, except that Facebook has been programmed in a way that won’t allow Translate to actually translate these pages. To get around this, I copied the text itself over to Translate, translated it, and then dropped it into Word docs. Therefore, this information will have to be from these documents I uploaded.

Also, here is a blog comparing benefits and drawbacks of Facebook Groups and Facebook Pages



MediaNext: Training Facebook in the Land of Vkontakte

July 15, 2009

3704908885_46773f4ba4_oSo, you are sitting in Ukraine, and you are wondering, “Do I train Facebook or do I train Vkontakte?” If you understand what both can do, which one is more powerful, you think the answer’s easy—Facebook. Then you realize that Vkontakte is the website that gets the most traffic in Ukraine, among ALL websites. Yeah, it’s that popular. Facebook? #36.

Do you train the more powerful tool? Or, do you train the tool that everyone is already using? If your goal is to train skills that add a lot of value and power, using a site that is #4 in the world, and will therefore catch you up with everyone else in the world, you go with Facebook. If your goal is to tap into large groups of people in your country, you go with Vkontakte.

This presented me with a real dilemma. On the one hand, my mantra for the whole training was to “go where they already are”. Social networking doesn’t groove so well if you go somewhere dead (and by dead, I mean like when you walk into a bar or a restaurant and the serving staff all look up at you at once, happy to finally have a customer). On the other hand, this is Facebook we are talking about. Facebook can flat out haul ass compared to Vkontakte. It can do so much of what I wanted our trainees to go home knowing how to do that Vkontakte simply can’t. Read the rest of this entry ?


MediaNext: Training Online Social Networking in Ukraine, Americanskiy Style

June 27, 2009

This is how social networking is really done.

Teaching social networking in Ukraine is a fascinating experiment in “how can an American, with a rather different concept of social networking from Ukrainians, explain this concept and the tools to be used with it in a useful way for these trainees, and not offend anyone in the process?” 

The main tools for our social-networking session were Vkontakte and Facebook (not excluding all the other tools that qualify as “social networking”, like LiveJournal, YouTube,, all things Yandex. However, before we got into the tools, it was important to explain social networking. After all, the tools aren’t the end, they are the means to the end. 

So what was the end in the case of this session? First, to help them understand the basic principles of social networking, and connect them to these tools. Second, to help people understand how social networking will help them as journalists, media activists, and NGO strategists. Third, to confuse people, and offend them, as little as possible with my “American” perspective of America, and more importantly, Ukraine. Read the rest of this entry ?


MediaNext: Teaching Twitter in Ukraine, Convincing the Skeptics of Its Power

June 25, 2009

3346248321_259f26a0feTwitter was the tool I was most excited and nervous about teaching in Ukraine. On the one hand, I think Twitter has a number of uses that make it a powerful tool for research, communication, and broadcast that are rather distinct in the Web world. On the other hand, it’s not something widely used in Ukraine, nor are these powerful uses immediately apparent from Twitter’s front page—the result is that Twitter may seem too simple to provide many complex uses. In other words, it can appear to the beginner to be a gimmick, something fun at first, but ephemeral. I was excited to teach Twitter precisely because I think it is powerful, and that few in Ukraine were using it at all, let alone to its potential. But that is also why I was nervous—the hardest thing about Web 2.0 technology is behavior change.

There were some things about Twitter in the Ukrainian context that I was particularly concerned would stand in the way. First and foremost, united among all of the Web 2.0 tools we were teaching, was this idea of freely spreading information to the world, letting go of control over it, thinking “What will be useful to someone else?” In my past experience in Ukraine, I have found that information is not something you just give away for free. In the Soviet Union, information was the real currency. It didn’t matter how much money you had, because there was little on the shelves to buy. You had to know someone with the goods on the black market. That information was the real commodity in the Soviet Union.

Now, fast forward to the generation following the Soviet Union, a generation upon which we are still on the cusp. There are still feelings that information is not something you just throw around for all to benefit from at no direct cost. Not everyone feels this way, but it’s still an issue. How weird the idea must be to suddenly be told you should regularly send Tweets with your daily pearls of wisdom, useful online articles you found, your feelings and reactions to a public event. This last one is especially pertinent—for many in Ukraine, what you think about things are still very much reserved for private spheres. Imagine how vulnerable one might feel at the thought of saying to him or herself, “I’m going to Tweet this information so ANYONE can see it, and not just the people in my immediate circle of trust”.

This approach to information, in my travels in Ukraine, has often presented a real challenge to NGOs there. Those I haveencountered tend to see information as theirs, and not something that should be available for all who can benefit from it, especially competing NGOs. NGOs in Ukraine can be VERY competitive for funding and resources. It was not rare, in the past, for me to encounter NGOs that would rather keep information that, if free, could have been very helpful to the public, in the name of maintaining their comparative advantage. It’s the mindset that if you have something that others don’t, but that others want, they will need you. Once they have what you have, it can threaten your existence as an organization. Never mind that your whole purpose as an organization is to help the public as much as possible, and to build your programs around the idea that, hopefully, you will one day no longer be needed. This is very complicated in Ukraine. And an American that comes in slinging around Twitter and encouragement for you to be free with all of your best information can easily be met with skepticism and suspicion.  Read the rest of this entry ?