Facebook Chronicles: Meeting the Mentor or Supernatural Aid

by Barb Cashman on May 14, 2012

Come on Barb – Supernatural Aid ? I know, I’ll go to any lengths to get people’s attention!  I was thinking that, once my biz page got the requisite 30 “likes,” meaning I achieved my “EdgeRank” minimum (see the definition here), and I have access to “insights about my activity,” well, I thought it sounded rather mystical, even supernatural.  There, that’s it.

Now for the mentor part.

First, a confession – I do love reading Net Smart!  A brief recap of the first chapter: mindfulness online can help us shift from TIME management to ATTENTION management; Howard Rheingold suggests writing a one sentence goal for the day before you turn on your computer and start clicking and, instead of multitasking all day, try doing a single task for 15-20 minutes instead.

OK, on to the second chapter “Crap Detection 101.”  Important to remember here is the paradigm shift of publishing in the information age: for books it was filter, then publish; for the Internet it is publish, then filter.  The first step here for enabling your “crap detector” is setting it up: How do you decide if something is “true?”  Here he looks at the the “whois” feature to “look behind the curtain” so to speak, and see who is the owner of a website (this embedded feature I find this particularly helpful to moderate  comments on my website’s blog).  He also questions search engines’ authoritativeness (hint: “cream” doesn’t always rise to the top there); explains page rank (see p. 83); and gives tips about how to weed out the folks who are raising “spam blogs” on the “content farm.” I found his analogy that search engine optimization is to the Internet what public relations is to public opinion rather insightful (it’s about manipulation).   Rheingold devotes several pages to an explanation of how to “see” search engine results more clearly.

Once you’ve got your crap detector calibrated for the environment, it’s time to get it tuned … I thought his statement “promote the notion that more info literacy is a practical answer to the growing info pollution. Be the change you want to see” is a good candidate for an axiom.  He suggests “tuning” the detector by recognizing that the Internet essentially undermines authority (particular for those of us who are “digital immigrants,” and have a history of consulting encyclopedias) and that the wealth of information creates, by consequence, a poverty of attention.  This is where Rheingold directs his attention to “infotention,” which is attention to information.  This point really drives home the reason I’m writing these posts I suppose – to get my colleagues to think a bit more about Facebook and other social media instead of just “reacting” to their information overload.  Rheingold astutely points out in this regard “not drowning is not the same as swimming.”

So, are you an IDDer (my moniker for those of us with Infotention Deficit Disorder, and no – I don’t think it’s in the DSM-V) who is ready to take the plunge?  Remember, information overload panics HAVE occurred before in human history, so it’s not the end of the world! Tips to manage your infotention successfully:

  1. The answer to almost any question is available, if you know how to search;
  2. Search to discover, not just to find;
  3. Look beyond the first page of your page results to see what else is “out there;”
  4. Use detective skills to find the author of information and check sources for assertions in websites, triangulate your sources if you can and it’s helpful;
  5. If you’re finding too much information you anticipate or agree with, take a look at your filter bubble;
  6. Use mindfulness techniques to establish new habits to keep yourself on track; and
  7. Train your attention along with your judgment or the technical leverage of all this access to information is useless!

So back to the question of what you will do with your time … do you suspect social media involves wasting too much of your time?  Take a look at Adrian Dayton’s article “Are Social Media Worth Your Time?”   I found a nifty slide show by WestLegalEd Center “Developing Your Social Media Strategy,” which recommends first off, don’t make social media your goal – rather focus on visibility as the goal with content tying together your visibility on the Internet in both search engine and social media contexts.  I should mention that the link is to a slide show, which has some very cool graphic illustrations – including one showing the one-to-one and one-to-many types of communications at which social media perform well  (networking and broadcasting).  I liked their six steps of social media “how to”:

  1. Consider the opportunity (people relying on a variety of alternative online sources)
  2. Target properly – use the correct media, aimed at the right folks
  3. Package it up by putting together information for others to use (links, sites, articles, etc.)
  4. Pitch it – contact targets and share the stuff you’ve put together
  5. Push it (Salt-N-Pepa optional), which is identified as key – share it and get others to pass it around
  6. Circle back by making contact with the original outlet and letting them know you promoted their work (so they’ll want to work with you again)

That’s all for now; as always – we’d love to hear your comments.

Read more about Barb’s Facebook Chronicles here.

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