fighting the lack of good ideas

my theory of social networking

I know lots of folks who like to have everything they share on one social network (eg Google+) magically appear on all others they use, too (eg Twitter & Facebook).

While I sometimes share identical content out to several networks, I rarely want precisely the same thing going everywhere all the time. In fact, while I love employing Buffer and IFTTT (including using the latter to push content from G+ elsewhere), I rarely like having the same posts (which aren’t links) appear anywhere else.

Why? To ensure I don’t miss some of the conversation or points raised by splitting my attention between, say, Facebook and Google+.

I find that the communities represented on the social networks I use, while overlaps occur, tend to be relatively distinct.

I see this problem occur in communities I belong to, too – such as the BGLUG. There’s a Facebook group, and a Google+ community. When events are scheduled, they get posted both places: which is great for publicity .. but not so much for keeping continuity of community.

Continuity of conversation and interaction is a Big Dealâ„¢, in my opinion.

Multiple conversation points are great – but fragmentation of discussion is not so great (eg comments on a blog post + comments on the social network link post of the blog post).

I asked a question about a subset of this problem a few years ago on Stack Overflow – and the best answer for integrating WordPress-to-Facebook commenting was to use a plugin. That’s awesome – but doesn’t begin to solve the problem of discussions across more than one network.

So, for now, I’ll continue to encourage all my socially-network friends, colleagues, family, and readers to keep conversations as separate as possible on the networks they frequent: improve your signal-to-noise ratio, and make the internet a better place.

posting from google+ to other services with ifttt

I’ve been using If This Then That (best part? it’s free!) for several months, and wanted to share a simple way to post updates from Google+ (or any RSS feed, but I digress) to your other social media services.

Currently I only use Google+, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook – though I am sure this basic process will work for any other ifttt-supported social media service which you can access in a write form (they call them channels).

There’s a way to use email to post updates to Facebook and Twitter, but I kinda like the ifttt method more – it’s more intuitive to me.

Here’s the basic method (or you can use the recipe I shared that does this):

  1. login/authorize GPlusRSS with your Google account
  2. copy the RSS feed GPlusRSS gives you of your G+ public posts
  3. login to ifttt and enable/authorize (if you haven’t previously) the channel for the social media service you want to post to (I’m using Twitter for this example)
  4. create a new recipe
    1. click “this”
    2. click “Feed” (at this point you can post everything or you can post some things – I’m going to go the some route here)
    3. click “New feed item matches”
    4. in “Keyword or simple phrase”, enter something unique-ish (I use “#twt”)
    5. in “Feed URL”, paste the URL GPlusRSS gave you at parent step 2
    6. click “Create Trigger”
    7. click “that”
    8. click the social media channel you chose in parent step 3
    9. click “Post a tweet”
    10. click “Create Action”
    11. in “Description”, give it a good name, such as “post G+ updates to Twitter if tagged #twt”
    12. click “Create Recipe”
  5. done

If Google+ ever decides to open their API better, ifttt should be able to have a channel for them.

Until then, the above method works like a champ – I use similar recipes for cross-posting to LinkedIn and Facebook from Google+ along with Twitter.

hashtagiquette – inline, or append?

There seems to be a great deal of divide over where, when, and how hashtags should be used on social media services like Twitter.

If you google “hashtag etiquette”, you’ll get a variety of differing results.

So – what’s the best route to follow? When is it ok to create your own? Why would you want to use them at all?

Why use hashtags?

Dating back at least to the heady days of IRC, hashtags give a convenient (if implemented) way to finding related content to what you are looking at now. (In IRC they are used to call attention to a user and/or name a channel.)

For example, on Twitter, if you search for, say, “#ObamaCare“, you’ll see a variety of recent tweets that talk about or reference the “Affordable Care Act”. If you want to join an ongoing discussion, it’s a good way for people to be able to find you and what you think.

When make new ones?

Some folks seem to get a thrill out of hashtagging everything they say. Like this: “#crazy #TSA #waittimes #patdowns #cavitysearches #whowouldeverwanttofly?”

#your #statusupdates #look #so #cool #with #your #hashtags #saidnoonever

pretty much

So when should you make new ones? When you’re tweeting something that hasn’t been before, or you want to repurpose an old tag, or some other Really Good Reasonâ„¢.

For example, when I was at Moab Con in 2011, I live-tweeted many of the sessions, appending or prepending (depending on where I thought it should go) #moabcon2011 to my tweets or folks could find and follow easily. Or when a family we knew was doing an adoption fundraiser 5k, they used “#r2b1h” for “Run to bring 1 home” (which, very excitedly and unexpectedly has now turned into bringing 3 home!).

Where do they go, then?

The general “best practice” (though I despise that term) seems to be to tag inline, and append additional tags at the end (and post any links that may be in the tweet). For example, you might tweet a news story thusly, “#Amtrak considering fleet replacement and new stations #train #transit #rail” (story and link made up).


Overall, hashtags should not be repetitive (eg “#Ubuntu #Linux 13.10 betas available #linux), and every tag should add something to the post – the first tag tags the entire post, and adding more makes the post harder to read, and adds no semantic value to it.

This same concept applied when tagging blog posts, question on sites like the Stack Exchange family, etc. In many ways, it’s no different than the old card catalog at your local library. Tags are like a selective concordance – there may (or may not) be a reason to have a truly exhaustive concordance for something (eg Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance), but in all likelihood, you don’t really care every time someone uses a simple word like “the”. You care to find the meatier terms in the text.

Maybe we can all enjoy SMS to the masses a little more now. – schedule social media posts

I learned about this week – finally a way to not overload Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc with posts – and put them in relevant venues easily.

Thanks, Passive Panda.

plugins galore

I found the Auto Tweet plugin today and have added it along with several others to the pantheon of WordPress additions that make up this blog.

WP is awesome – the plugin architecture is super cool. But there are times when I wonder why more of the plugins haven’t been made core aspects of the product itself.

on twitter and the police

Dave Winer had an interesting take on the recent Twitter-NYPD flare-up.

Personally, the thought of any government organization demanding records without a warrant is abhorrent.

However, since the entire point of Twitter is to make your tweets public … then what is there to subpoena? They’re all out there – visible to the world… Unless the user has deleted them (and, from my understanding, they are “real” deletes (unlike facebook “deletes” which may or may not go anywhere)).

So, NYPD – why are you not just looking at the tweets that are available publicly? Why are you trying to demand data that may or may not exist, and without a warrant?

Lastly, to Mr Winer’s comment that “the government has no business investing taxpayer dollars in private companies”: there’s a couple big problems therein. First, since it was in reference to the Library of Congress, we should make sure that in addition to not “investing” in archiving tweets, they also not invest in archiving books, journals, newspapers, etc – after all, those are also coming from “private companies”. Second, if the government shouldn’t be investing taxpayer dollars in private companies, then where, exactly, do you propose the “government” get what it needs to operate? By fiat? By dictatorial claim? No – those aren’t good public relations moves. The government needs to obtain the services and goods it needs to continue its functions from private industry (or we need to abandon this whole ‘capitalism’ thing and go for a pure central economy wherein all produced goods and services are provided by the government).