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February 1, 2009

Impression of Twitter

As someone who keeps to herself often I am not very good at being social and I even forget that there is indeed a necessary point to human interaction. Twitter was really easy to use and the whole concept of“asking shows that you care� is a great sentiment, but I honestly do not think I will use it outside of this classroom. We have become spoiled by the variety of options in our lives and when something has so little features it becomes a turnoff and I am no exception to this; I did not care for the word limit, or the inability to go back and edit a misspelled word. On the other hand of things I can see the reason for this since (it could be something that is just in my head, who knows..) In actual life when you speak out loud to another person there is no back key, and so it would make sense that Twitter does not allow this feature. It gives everything a more unedited genuine feel of your current thoughts right than and there. Another reason I would never seek out Twitter on my free time is because it is a program that takes up a lot of time. It is really easy to write a quick sentence, but the constant need to turn on my computer and keep checking to see if anyone has replied can make one a little obsessive.

Before I read chapter six of Connect!, I always regarded communication as an exchange of information but after giving it some more thought my personal view of the word “communication� has changed. When I read stories in books, it is not only descriptive imagery the author is trying to rely to the reader, but rather a wanting to build a relationship between reader and the characters. The author wants the reader to become attached to the world they have created and the people who exist in that world.

Since I am still getting use to the World of blogging I am using my love of reading as a security blanket, so be warned now: most if not all my posts will contain a book or reading analogy. Good-bye until next time.

January 30, 2009

Twether or not to twitter?

Getting used to Twitter was a bit weird for me. Although I'm an avid user of some networking sites such as Facebook and MySpace, I found that Twitter was really cut and dry. Only 140 characters can be used in the space provided, so you are very limited to what you can say about your current project, setting, feelings or mood. And I do love the idea of being able to communicate to people in a moment's notice, but I have also been pretentious about too much communication. (I don't like the idea of having to always carry my phone around with me to every room in my house.) I do feel that if I had a mobile device with access to mobile web, I would probably utilize Twitter and other "webifying" communications more readily.

In Connect!, they list chatting, Instant messaging, status updaters, wikis and voice chat/videophoning as great ways to "webify" beyond emailing. (Connect! p.143-150) In today's hectic world, one can get too caught up in all of these simultaneous multi-medias. I sometimes find it hard to talk to one person in the middle of a project because I'm trying to write a concise, yet meaningful sentence. Imagine if I was trying to type a conversation while doing that too...disastrous!

However, I can see how Jen and her colleagues used Twitter to their advantage, by getting the word out on important events in a very precise and quick manner. Thus, I think it matters what you are focusing on or where you are working to determine if you can utilize these webifying applications in your job setting. I find it hard enough to finish a piece of homework without finding someone else's Facebook profile to look at or some article to read on MSN. So where it may work for some people, I just don't think that Twittering is for me...

January 29, 2009

I'm all a Twitter about workstreaming!

I am super into Twitter now that Krista taught me how to link my Twitter account to my Facebook account. I'm actually posting a little too often but that is my favorite feature on Facebook so now I have two different places to update. I used to only have four people to follow and now I get to read all of your posts and I love it! I've already learned that one of my classmates went to my old high school hang out last night and that there are fans of the show Robot Chicken which I also enjoy. This is neat.

I like the idea of workstreaming using Twitter. I think I have mentioned before that my current job doesn't require this level of technical sophistication but I would imagine that if I were a web worker, this would be a great tool for communicating in a team. I would think that checking your Twitter account to see what your coworkers are doing would be helpful in many ways. You could gauge your progress in comparison to your coworkers and alert them to what you have been working on as well. It allows a small space for a quick reply to someone's tweet and the best part is you don't have to be at a stuffy office. I think it's great.

The one thing that I didn't care for in our readings (Connect!) this week was the section on virutal meetings aka conference calls. This may be just because I don't like talking on the phone but I think speaking to more than one person at a time sounds like a disaster. Zelenka points out that there is a productive way to conduct conference calls but it still sounds odd to me. Other than that I think the life of a web worker sounds appealing.

Finally a way to connect!

The work we have done this week has been eye opening and provided me with a number of new ideas on how to manage my team. As a sales manager, I have a team that is spread out through the western part of the US and it is difficult for me to keep in touch and help them where I need to. Personally, I don't think Twitter is the answer because we are in the field callin on prospective customers, but other options outlined will make it easier to connect with them. I did enjoy the time on Twitter because it gave me a forum to let people know what is going on in my day and the status I was at.
As for applying this to work, currently we use our cell phones to send emails, text messages and calls when necessary but we all have different schedules and meeting set and don't want our phones going off during an imprortant visit. By webifying our schedule and making sure that the time zones are followed, will give us an idea of when the other people are available and when we can make a call. The other tool that I will be implementing is a status update sent out, so that if somebody is unavailable we know that and can wait to make contact. Personally, I am not technical or internet savy so this is a big eye opener to me and what I can do with my remote team.

I really liked how the article mention that workers would send emails at late or early times in te day to show a boss that they are working. Personally I have done this on the weekends and late at night to show them that I keep long hours. As a boss, I feel that the article was right on by saying trust is implied when you hire someone and if they feel that they have to earn it, that will lead them to doubt themselves and less likely to take risks.

Twitter - Fun, but personally not so useful

So, after using Twitter for a couple of days I have some mixed feelings. On Facebook, I absolutely love the status update feature. It's one of my favorite things about Facebook - you can put a small quote or song lyric, provide a link for people to look at, or, as it was meant for, tell people what you're up to. I always found myself wanting a little more flexibility with the feature however. I think allowing a little more characters and maybe some HTML coding so you can customize link names or change the style of the text would enhance the feature more. Going into Twitter, since the site is dedicated completely to status updates, I was expecting to get this extra flexibility. However, I found that some of my posts had to be shortened because they were too long, and I still have no ability to customize the appearance of my status update. Maybe these additions would be a little too extravagant and make too much of the simple status update, but without them, I feel like an entire site dedicated to status updates is pretty useless. With the functionality that it currently has, it doesn't seem much better than the status feature integrated into Facebook as only a small part. The disappointments I came across with Twitter were also listed as cons in the Anywired "Workstreaming with Microblogs" reading.

In regards to the Connect! reading for this week, I would say Twitter serves as a phatic communication, which are those that "serve social purposes like relationship building" (Zelenka & Sohn, 142). Later in the chapter, when they discuss status updater sites, also called microbloggers, it's mentioned that Twitter is criticized for its "inanity, narcissism, and disruptiveness" (Zelenka & Sohn, 147). I'm not sure that these words really describe Twitter; I don't think a site like this could possess these kinds of qualities because it is so interactive. The users make the site what it is by posting their status updates.

Let's get together...yeah, yeah, yeah!

I hope you all remember the song from The Parent Trap, wow...that makes me feel old, because I am not talking about the Lindsay Lohan version. Oh man...

Anyway, I found this week to be absolutely fascinating and extremely insightful. First off, to add and respond to what others have said about Twitter, I agree that it is cool and for perhaps long-distance minimized convo it is useful, or maybe office stuff, but it does have its limitations. This may be better as a starting point for someone like my granny, who simply could not handle Facebook.

I really enjoyed the Connect! article for this week. I love that it broke down different instant messaging ideas and provided etiquette! My mom works virtually from home and relies completely on her instant messenger. The only thing is...they can't exchange personal, specific information through it, because of the possibility of interception, I am not exactly sure. The best part is when her co-workers don't know what smileys are...so funny!

I also loved the other article about online task tracking! I am definitely going to join Tumblr to help with my wedding plans. Some accomplishments I have made online this week have been pure inspiration from class. For example: I created a Google email account and began making Google Calendars. I print them off and hang them on the fridge to help my fiance and I keep track of our appts, special work days/times, church events, etc. I also recently started a book club with some of my girlfriends. We were discussing how to keep track of everything, dates, locations, the books, who was bringing what, you name it. So I thought....why not start our own website just for our bookclub? I have also recently created a website for my wedding. www.ewedding.com/sites/mathi144 terrible cover picture of me, eww!

Anyway, I am really glad that we finished this week with the U's helpful reminders of not over-exposing yourself on the internet. The bookclub website is a great idea...but sharing the exact date, time, location, and easy to follow directions to someone's home could be opening us up for trouble...so that part we will still need to email or send to each other another way. Any suggestions on that??

Thats all I have for now...I really liked learning this week about Twitter, getting to know people better, and also gaining info on all of the personal and professional resources out there. I love organization, everything having its own home, place, etc. so this is music to my ears! Have a great week everyone!!!!

New ways to access PEOPLE...we really are using everything!

The reading from this week was interesting because I didn't know how much communication tools were available that I wasn't actually employing. Twitter seems like a cute page, but like some of you, I also agree that it doesn't seem like a great tool. I guess since Facebook already allows us to update our status, I don't understand why we are limited to a certain number of letter characters in Twitter. I suppose if Twitter allowed us to do more, other than post geographical information and momentary updates, I might want to log into that website a little more often. I don't hate it, I just don't enjoy logging in to update.

I was reading about the Time Zone Dementia, and it's funny because I've never had to really deal with that. [Zelenka, p.152] The only past experience I've had online is when I had a Thailand epal, we would talk together at different times of each others day. But I can see how one could get the confusion of a change of time zones. My boyfriend works at a small software company based on helping businesses effectively manage their time. I'm bringing this up because I thought it was insane that their were like ten different clocks on one of the walls, representing different time zones. I suppose if we were all scattered over the USA, we should all be installing one of those applications on our dashboards.

Anyways, this week I will be using what I’ve learned about scheduling my life, and hopefully succeed at trying to webify my schedule. I really hope I can log on tonight and join in the chat at 9 pm. Hope to see you then!

Twitter is effective, but I don't think I need it...

Twitter is interesting Web 2.0 application that I had heard of, but never actually used myself until this class. The main reason I have not used it until now is that I did not see much use for it. When I first saw Twitter about a year and a half ago I just shrugged it off as being exactly like the “status� option on Facebook. I thought if I had Facebook to tell my friends what I’m doing, why do I need Twitter?

After reading the articles and watching Jen Wigham’s video, I can see that there are some potential positive uses for Twitter in the workplace. As Jen mentioned, It helped the Uptake team stay coordinated and get feedback from there user base such as the instance she mentioned where their reporter got arrested.

The Anywired article also mentions how Twitter can be used for workstreaming. Skellie defines a workstream as, “a live updated record of work you’ve completed. When doing group work with remote colleagues, it allows you to keep track of what everyone else is doing. When working solo, it helps you keep track of your own productivity� (Skellie). Twitter makes this easy because it is easy to update and concise (under 140 characters) so it is easy to follow as well.

The Connect! article mentions Twitter as a substitute for email, which from my experience with Twitter this week and Jen’s video it seems like a very effective substitute. For instance when I updated my Twitter, all I had to do was go to Twitter.com and type something quick into my home page and everyone following me could see what I was doing. It would have been much more complicated for me to send an email addressed to everyone in the class to tell them what I’m doing. Twitter is a faster and easier alternative.

But as Jen mentioned, there is some downsides to Twitter as well. The ease and ability for people to post information allows them to post virtually anything whether it’s factual information a lot. Also on a personal basis, I don’t feel that I have too much use for Twitter. I’m OK with not knowing what my friends are doing every second of the day. To me it seems a tad creepy to know where my friends are at all times or to let everyone on the internet know where I am at all times (Yes, I know there is privacy features that can avoid that). It just doesn’t seem like that necessary of a tool to me right now, but if I had an actual use for it such as the Uptake team then I would consider being a full time Twitter user.

January 28, 2009

Who are you followed by?

My mom once sent me an article titled, “Are you addicted to the internet.� It had a check list of things like checking your email more than 5 times a day, spending more than hours a day on the internet, and many more for a self diagnostics to decide if you were in fact “addicted to the internet.� I remember reading it in my Bailey Hall dorm room freshman year and it really made me stop and think for a minute. Was I addicted to the internet? I had just created a Facebook profile and was on that countless hours a day constantly updating that. As a freshman I also found it so cool that I actually got numerous emails a day and never wanted more than two or three unread messages in my inbox. Since then I have cut back on my logged on time to Facebook and UMN email, but definitely not on my internet time.

This week was the first that I had ever heard of Twitter. It was confusing at first… and I am still not sure if I have it down yet or not, we will soon find out. It would be nice if we could form a “group� on twitter for our class so we all could be connected to each other through the group. Does anyone know if that is possible?

Our reading from Connect! this week examines many alternatives for people to communicate outside of email because it’s not always the best choice for communicating with people synchronously (Connect, 143). But I beg to disagree with the statement; with many new phones and technologies today many people can have conversations via email. I actually prefer this instead of setting up six different accounts on different net works to “chat� with my 10 different groups. I personally don’t like getting bogged down with passwords and usernames that I can’t keep straight. Some of the alternatives that the book discussed were instant messaging, chat rooms, social and professional networks (such as facebook and myspace), blogging and many more, all of which I have worked with one form at some point in time. However, One type of communication on the internet that I had never heard of was a wiki, other than Wikipedia. I was glad to see that there was a small reference in the reading as to what a wiki was because we will be building one in this class.

Request to follow me on Tweeter... AmandaEberle (EBZ was taken).... so long for now

Closed Captioning Provided by...Twitter

This week has been a rush of new technology for me. I joined Facebook and finally had a chance to communicate with friends who I hadn’t talked to since I became a mother. Then when I joined Twitter, I was skeptical. I couldn’t figure out why this even existed when you could blog on Facebook and share pictures too. As soon as I started using the application I realized its potential as a workstreaming tool.

I shared my experience with Twitter casually with my supervisor and manager at work in a “hey guess what I did this weekend� fashion and I received eye rolls and responses like “interesting…so you aren’t doing this from work are you?� and “oh I did that as part of my Master’s program too, but it’s not really applicable to what we do here.� I was so disappointed. Here I was imagining how much more work I could get done if I could communicate via Twitter or IM instead of being interrupted mid flow by “prairie dog� behavior (Zelenka and Sohn, 155). I envisioned online conversations with our vendors instead of daily half hour conference calls with NetMeeting for updates, and replacing our monthly con call with Ireland with a microblog so we could collaborate more regularly on projects. This would be especially useful considering one of our department goals is to align best practices between the two groups. But, this technology just doesn’t apply to our work environment…

One other comment about the Connect! reading that really struck home with respect to my workplace was the idea of how social networks work (Zelenka and Sohn, 166-167). Medical device sterilization is a niche field, once you are in you will probably stay in. So when I read the definitions for homophily, clustering, small worlds, and stagnation I was immediately reminded of my department and how often you hear “because that’s how it has always been done� (Zelenka and Sohn, 166-167). I worked through the definitions for weak ties, dilution, and cross-pollination and I was reminded that the knowledge I pick up from my husband who is in the specialty gas industry, my friends who are computer programmers and software testers, and my classmates who come from all different backgrounds, is very valuable to my team. For example, had I not talked with a friend of mine who works at a different company in IT, I would never have figured out how to get our new software program installed because our firewall was inhibiting the license registration.

Finally, I was particularly amused by the submarine periscope analogy (Rangaswami, Thinking about Twitter) and the concept of the “adda� where everybody is talking at once and yet the conversational whole somehow auto adjusts so that each individual conversation finds a balance within the whole (Rangaswami, Musing about Capillary Conversations). I think of workstreaming and Twitter like a narration, a play-by-play, or closed captioning for life. Have you seen the movie Stranger than Fiction?

Food for Thought:
Are microblog posts directly influenced by the content of posts around them, or are they isolated? In real life it seems that a conversation is influenced by nearby conversations and actions. Is this also the case in the blogosphere?

Social Networking Updates

I'm not too sure how Twitter really fits in the professional world. It seems like it is more for fun. In Connect! (Zelenka, 2008, p. 166) homophily is described. I totally agree with this concept because if we weren't all in the same class or cluster, I don't know that I would be following everyone since we probably don't have the same interests.

Webifying your schedule sounds like a great idea being that everyone is busy and you need to find a time that fits everyone's schedule. I don't know that I like the whole idea of my schedule being out there for everyone to see as suggested (Zelenka, 2008, p.154). If I use multiple calendars: one for work, one for school, one for personal, etc. I think that I would get more confused if all of my meetings and due dates were in different spots. This could cause me to miss something important or double schedule something if I didn't check all of my calendar time slots. Also by putting all of that information out there could be putting you at risk for stalking, harassment, etc (UMN guide). This means that you need to fully understand how to use the privacy settings on each individual site.

There are a lot of options out there for connecting with others that I was not aware that they existed. Some techniques might work best for one person and not another, so you need to learn what the most effective way to get a hold of each person on your team is.

All in all, there is A LOT to learn in the web working environment. Each program has it's benefits and it's downfalls, you just need to figure out which works best for you.

Tweeting as Workstreaming

When working with others such as collaborating on a project or working as part of a team it is important to stay in contact, especially for web workers. The readings for this week highlight different ways you can do this and ways to keep people up to date on what everyone is working on through workstreaming.

I agree with Zelenka & Sohn (2008) that phatic communications (those that are more for social purposes, like a conversation around the water cooler) are important to keep conversations going and make social contacts (142). Since there isn’t a water cooler to do this around when web working, virtual ways are needed to do this. Zelenka & Sohn (2008) give a number of possibilities (besides email) that include instant messaging, chat rooms, video chat and status updaters (143-147). This week our class spent time working with a status updater: Twitter. This type of tool is defined as a way to keep all of your contacts knowledgeable about what is happening in your life (Zelenka & Sohn 2008, 147). It works both ways and allows you to know what is happening in your contacts’ lives as well. Indeed Twitter is an excellent way to keep informed. I also believe that it is a great way to get to know everyone. During this week, I was excited to leave little, concise messages about what I was doing or thinking and then reading what everyone else was doing or thinking. The limit allows for only the most pertinent information at the time of the post which keeps things incredibly simple and concise. This makes it easy to read, understand and get the point across.

After tweeting this week I agree with Skellie (2006) that Twitter is best tool for workstreaming in a group (1). It provides our class with a way to keep everyone updated about what each person is accomplishing and what still needs to be done. For a group it works well instead of using another tool like trying to mass text everyone or getting everyone into a chat room. In watching Jen Wigham’s video for this week, it is easy to see how Twitter has benefited the UpTake. During the RNC, they used Twitter as a tool to keep tabs on what was happening with the convention and with their correspondents in the field (Wigham 2009). Now the UpTake uses Twitter as more of a press release in order to keep people informed (Wigham 2009).

January 27, 2009

Un-Googleable No Longer

I try really hard to keep my personal life offline. My mission is to stay “un-googleable.�? Yes, I have a Facebook, but only to stay connected with out-of-state family members and real life friends. I do not accept friend invitations from random people (even if they say they attend the U of M) and I am extremely cautious about the information that I give online. The article put out by the U of M: Office for Student Affairs, Living In Online Communities, brought up a very real concern in my mind: predatory behavior. It hadn’t occurred to me that listing my class schedule could lead to stalking. It seems strange that Facebook would have such an application, considering its potential for misuse. Needless to say, I was a bit hesitant about creating a Twitter account. I wondered whether my Twitter would show up on a Google search. It did. And so did my last blog post for this class. Apparently, our class blog is publicly viewable. I have failed catastrophically.

Maybe, just maybe, online social networking isn’t all bad. After reading Workstreaming with Microblogs and Chapter 2 of Connect! , I certainly see the potential for increased productivity as a result of work-related blogging. Last week, Jennifer Wigham mentioned the use of text messages as a common form of communication in her line of work. While I’m not big on texting, I see its use in situations like the RNC, where you can’t exactly run out and answer the phone. It seems to me that microblogs (Twitter, Tumblr, Soup.io) are a desktop variation of text messaging. I like the idea that people can update each other at leisure and omit needless details. The word limit present on Twitter is great; it encourages clarity and conciseness.

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