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Speaking @ PRSA Buffalo: Getting started with social media for PR practitioners (Pt.2)

PRSA Buffalo - Social Media Panel
Kara Kane, Anthony Dicembre of and me after our PRSA panel

A nice turnout of about 80 public relations professionals showed up for our PRSA panel on social media today (see Part 1)! While we were each given 15min to infuse our knowledge and experience into the thirsty crowd, we ultimately took up 30min each. That left a mere 10min for Q&A. What can I say… Oops! ;D

Sorry no one took videos, but I did an audio recording of our presentations. To top it off, I’ve synchronized the audio with the Slideshare presentation below so you can now laugh along with the audience. Yes, apparently they found us funny. Only catch, syncing audio with the Shareshare presentation takes up a lot of my time (thus I only did mine), so I’ll only be linking to Kara’s and Anthony’s audio recording.

The diligent citizen journalists at WNYmedia have written up about our talk, with some pointed insights on the state of our local PR industry. Do read the comments for their article entitled “PR Professionals Have a Lot to Learn“.

Finally, to keep the conversation going, we’ve created a PR + Social Media learning group on Join Buffalo’s very own social networking service while finding peers from the PR industry.

While Anthony has made his slides downloadable, here are audio recordings of our three presentations shared via my favorite Soundcloud widget. You get to jump and comment on the parts you like:

How Obama could set the stage for Participatory Governance

UB Students watching inauguration
UB Students watching inaugurationUB Students watching inauguration
UB students watching the inauguration at the Capen Undergraduate Library

While the world watches the inauguration of our 44th U.S. president, Barack Obama, those of us fortunate enough to have Internet access were able to express our thoughts alongside numerous live video streams including,, Hulu and Joost.

Of particular note was the CNN/Facebook collaboration on their own shared viewing experience. Since both CNN and Facebook were relatively more mainstream than say twitter, more viewers were ready to participate. Live - Facebook
Watch video sample taken by Dusenyao

According to Mashable, CNN served 13.9 million live video streams globally since 6am. More than 200,000 status updates were made at a rate of 3,000 users per minute, through the Facebook integration on Meanwhile, Twitter sees 4 times no. of tweets per minute over the course of the inauguration, peaking when Obama was sworn in as 44th President.

But it doesn’t end there. On a more intense level, we’re seeing a lot more involvement from the citizen journalism perspective, at times such coverage is given equal representation alongside mainstream production. Bottom-up, coordinated a special Inauguration 2009 page which aggregated about 122 live videos from around 35 mobile producers today. Top-down, we see how CNN has the “Your View of History” map showing both iReporters and CNN coverage around DC: - Your View of History

From the era of participatory media (i.e. blogs, twitter), have we been primed to take on the more focused task of nation building through participatory governance?

The practice of crowdsourcing has been transitioning from one industry to another. Major corporations such as Dell and Starbucks have been turning to consumers for new ideas. News media agencies such as CNN and Fox News have been soliciting unique coverage from citizen reporters.

Now, virtually moving presence from to, the Obama transition team has been setting the pace for citizen participation on government ideas and policies. The most obvious improvement is accessibility for the new White House web site, which is 100% HTML/CSS valid (hat tip Vantan), and now features an official blog with RSS feed which you can easily subscribe to:

The White House Blog
Here’s a before and after screenshot of the web site

While it remains to be seen how citizen participation could be ideally solicited, another front would be to allow open access to government data which could in turn be made more useful by talented individuals among us, as seen in the BART poster I saw in San Francisco:

Build your own BART apps Developer Tools

Barrack Obama, from the elections all the way to his presidency, has been the most connected president to date. As a reminder, his promise on the issue of technology includes 1) Protecting the openness of the internet, 2) Deploying a modern communications infrastructure (reducing digital divide), 3) Improve America’s competitiveness (investing in scientific innovations).

Eh Sai! I’m personally enthusiastic at how America turns out from our era of networked democracy, since this would set the stage for other nations (such as Singapore) to follow. Congratulations America, the world is watching and learning! For fellow Americans, ReadWriteWeb has seven tips to help Obama restore America.

UPDATE 1: CNN is soliciting for photographs of the inauguration to piece together a Photosynth called “The Moment“. FYI, Photosynth is a Microsoft technology that creates 3D spaces from anyone’s 2D photos, giving you the near ability to experience slice of time as if you’re actually there.

UPDATE 2: Megan Taylor of MediaShift has written a more comprehensive piece, “Innovation in Inauguration Coverage

UPDATE 3: Lance Miller wrote about the “pluggable government” and notes how citizens learn to wrangle. By wrangle, he mentions Bruce Sterling’s vision: “Wranglers are the class of people willing to hassle with Spimes. And it is a hassle. An enormous hassle. But its a fruitful hassle. It is the work of progress. Handled correctly, it can undo the harm of the past and enhance what is to come.” — When Blobjects Rule the Earth/SIGGRAPH, Los Angeles, August 2004

Changing the way I use twitter…

Lunch with @KeithBurtis & @jhsu

Over lunch at the classy Black & Blue (map), I finally got @KeithBurtis and @jhsu to see why I was disturbed by the way I was using twitter. There was an imbalance, and I sought to fix it.

As we munched on our lunch special Kobe Beef Burgers, I mentioned how I was losing grip on how personal twitter used to be. As twitter grew in popularity, so did the number of friends and followers I made. I believe that since I was an early adopter of twitter, and taught classes where I had students try twitter, I had exceptional traction which propelled my numbers even higher. Folks looking at the decent follow count might think that I’m actually interesting to follow, and by late 2007, I had crossed the holy 1,000 follower count.

1,000 twitter followers later...

As with blogging, having a larger audience came with a conscious responsibility to share more value with my particular twittersphere. Since I produce content over a variety of services, and since I was lazy, I used third-party twitter services like Twitterfeeder to send my flickr, as well as blog posts from here, automatically as tweets. The key idea was to have my twitter stream consistently (and automatically) productive.

The 5 Stages Of Twitter Acceptance by @rohitbhargavaMr. Tweet Blog

Combined with the ever-handy Socialtoo service, I could get an email report of twitter users who followed and unfollowed me on a nightly basis. I did use Socialtoo’s auto-follows and auto-DMs at first, but that was what trigger the sudden realization of how I was losing my twitter identity: I had become a faceless twitter user. While basic users (including bots) use twitter as a dumping ground for links (sometimes lifestreams), highly engaged users made everything personal by being more conversational; an passage from blogging all over again.

I was using twitter like I was on speed, pumping out hard and fast…. the numbers had seduced me:

Twitter Nutrition Facts
14 Updates/Day
42% Conversation
50% Links
701 Friends
1.7 Ratio
courtesy of Mr. Tweet

Pragmatically, most would say that the conversation is a signature of being human, which in itself is a value which we cannot yet reproduce mechanically simply by constantly tweeting links. The reward of twitter was that our connections felt alive whenever someone @replies (reciprocates).

In a low-resolution environment of 140 characters, I thought I could get by with being human through a simple machine. On the contrary, twitter was about the celebration of being human, and I had a choice whether to partake in it. The humor, spelling typos and mis-directed links, all added to the texture of twittering much like the beautiful flaws of an oil canvas painting.

Granted everyone has the freedom to tweet as they like, though the cost of which comes in the unfollows. While @jhsu noted how twitter works best for quick, short alerts, @KeithBurtis reminded me that there’s a difference between sharing vs blurting (great article!). We were in agreement to how we tend to get sucked into the game of numbers, where the natural inclination was increase followers/friends across social networking services.

At some point, some of us get jaded. That’s where we fall back into the primal way of communication, herein returning to the close knit friends who tend to reciprocate more so than others. An effort had to be made to save my twitter sanity…

So I began pruning.
Reducing noise, stress.
Remembering less is more.

Keith joked that he did the same, and by removing irrelevant followers, it gave him that fresh hair cut feeling. He used Twitter Karma, which lets you see your followers’ last posts in a glance, amongst other stats. Since I needed to unfollow a ton (bad case of auto-follows), I preferred MyCleenr, which lists followers based on how long ago their last tweets were. Those who haven’t tweeted in more than a year, went straight to the delete bin, while the remaining corpus were visually inspected over time.

As silly as this sounds, now I feel reborn.

I’ve even started blogging in person again. The way I previously used twitter drained away all my love for thinking things through. All I had cared about was fitting everything into 140 characters. Life became too fast, thoughts became too bite-sized. I essentially felt dumb and numb, and it had a larger impact on the way I perceived things than I had realized.

In a Buddhist kind of way, to be happy on twitter, meant making others happy too. And to be true and honest, Keith’s advice was to talk to someone without an agenda. For me, the biggest move was to ignore the numbers and just enjoy life. Just like how some of us used to blog, we could either live it up and be ourselves, or be encumbered by the wants of others, letting the number of unfollows pull you down.

Lastly, be sure to read David Pogue’s experiences with twitter… there’s truly an uncanny resemblance!

Interviewing some folks you might know in San Francisco…


This week’s going to be exciting, not just for Macworld Expo 2009, but also for the folks who’ve made time off their busy schedules to chat with me while I’m in San Francisco.

Steve Mann: the early cyborg – Monday @ 2.30pm
To kick off the week, I had the opportunity to video chat with Steve Mann, the “world’s first cyborg”. I’ll shared how it went in an earlier post, but I’ll probably write follow-up post once I have more time to edit down the full video of the interview.

Daynah & Emily Chang – Tuesday @ 12noon
On Tuesday noon at Macworld, I’ll be meeting someone I call the “human connector”, Daynah. I’ve discovered that she really active on the social web and has quickly grown to know and be known by various online microcelebrities. Hopefully I’ll also get to meet Emily Chang, a well-recognized web designer / strategist who’s best known web site is eHub, which tracks new Web 2.0 services as they emerge.

Bhaskar Roy, founder – Tuesday @ 5pm
Late afternoon, I’ll take a train down to Redwood City, where I’ll meet with founder, Bhaskar Roy (@broy). This is a particularly exciting startup for me to watch. I’ll chat with Bhaskar on how videos shared from mobilephones amplifies the way we make memories and socialize. I’ve also heard that there are Singaporeans working there, maybe I’ll get to meet them.

Tara Hunt, The Whuffie Factor – Wednesday @ 3pm
Tara Hunt has graciously agreed to walk me through their co-working space, called Citizen Space. As mentioned on their web site, “[t]he idea of Citizen Space is to take the best elements of a coffee shop (social, energetic, creative) and the best elements of a workspace (productive, functional) and combine them to give indie workers the chance to have their own, affordable space.” This would naturally brings us into The Third Space (Ray Oldenburg, 1989), which talks of community building and hints at the importance of social capital. Being the subject of her upcoming book, The Whuffie Factor, Tara explains that “money isn’t the capital of choice in online communities, it is Whuffie – social capital – and how to raise it”. I’ll chat with her about social currency and how we could possibly gauge it.

Dave Cohn, Spot.Us founder – Thursday @ 3pm
I met Dave in January last year, where we talked about pro-am journalism (Assignment Zero) and whether blogging/Digg-ing/retweeting were considered forms of journalism. Now Dave has launched an ingenious community funded news reporting service in the form of Spot.Us in San Francisco. In many ways, he’s really making things happen in the bleakest of times for the news print industry. I’ll be visiting his home and finding out more about Spot.Us, as well as how this model of grassroots-powered journalism could be employed in other cities as well as countries.

MingYeow, Mr. Tweet co-founder – Friday @ 9am
As a product of their discovery recommendation engine, Mr. Tweet aims to help users build meaningful relationships on Twitter by looking through their network and tweets. The service then 1) show key followers & influencers users should follow, 2) recommends enthusiastic twitter-ers relevant to users. I’ll chat with our Singaporean friend MingYeow to learn more about what’s involved in developing Mr. Tweet and how quality supercedes quantity in today’s socially networked environment.

Let me know if you have questions or suggestions for any of these interviews. Depending on my multi-tasking ability, I might try to live stream video via Qik. Just watch for my tweets.

Just spoke with Steve Mann – world’s first cyborg

Interview: Steve Mann - CyberGlogger

This video chat was conducted via Steve Mann’s Eyetap wearable video device, Skype as well as the standard cellphone. I’ll have a full video of this interesting discussion once I make the necessary edits (it was a lenghty discussion after all!).

Just moments ago, I remotely communicated with the original cyborg (or glogger as he prefers), Steve Mann.

As a professor at the University of Toronto, Mann, together with Professor Ian Kerr, have written extensively on surveillance, sousveillance, and equiveillance. “Sousveillance”, a term coined by Mann, creates a new dialog for cyborg technologies, as well as related personal information gathering technologies like camera phones.

Steve Mann's "Wearable Computer" / "Reality Mediator"

We touched on the ethical, legal, as well as cultural metaphors which gloggers like ourselves could employ to rationalize the need for such making memories (post-terminology for recordings). Thanks to the advent of camera cellphones, Mann noted about how our society was naturally reaching the middle ground of equiveillance.

Stay tuned for the full interview video in time to come. Meantime, here are some behind-the-scene photos and video.

theorycast.53 :: Life of a Social Cyborg

“Technophile Kevin Lim has found a way to make his private life a public event, broadcasting his experiences live to the Internet”.

For those wondering what it’s like capturing chunks of my daily life, here’s a short documentary of the social cyborg experience.

You’ll see highlight videos shot through my wearable camera outfit, as well as a show-n-tell deconstruction of my entire sousveillance outfit for the Buffalo News. The last video clip was produced by videographer Joseph Popiolkowski, as it is a supplementary video accompanying the Buffalo News article on lifecasting.

If you’d like to know more, see my introductory article to the social cyborg.

Hello Buffalo News readers, the Social Cyborg welcomes you…

Buffalo News: Living Under the Lens (12.29.08)
Read online version or print version (scanned)

Scott Johnson's "Kevin the Lifecaster"

Welcome Buffalo News readers!

You probably dropped by after reading Steve Watson’s article entitled “Video technology creates a few very-public lives“, which offers a great dialogue into the ambiguity of identity in our increasingly networked lives. As I’ve mentioned at the end…

“We are rethinking the things that we’ve taken for granted,” Lim said. “Whether it’s privacy, identity, or so on. What’s happening is we are re-evaluating these things. Because the status quo just isn’t enough.”

As someone transforming into a “social cyborg”, I’ve been experiencing what it would be like to be hyper-connected as a human being. My project continues to push the boundaries of digitizing and sharing rich experiences, by combining streaming video, GPS data and possibly bio + emotional impulses as accurately as possible. While experimenting with ways of establishing a richer sense of presence and feedback in a non-directional everyday setting, this project dabbles on concepts relating to:

1. Continuous Partial Presence: Be it text updates or video feeds, loved ones feel as if I am actually close by when I am actually half the globe away.

2. On-Demand Crowdsourcing: Decisions can be augmented by the minds of many. As I engage in everyday affairs, my peers are polled to suggest what I should do (e.g. purchasing decisions, useful lifehacks).

3. Public Therapy (?): The idea that I’d be mindful of habits since my life is visible to all, and particularly magnified for my internal review.

4. Redefinition of Identity / Privacy: Privacy is a broad term, so here I am trying to find boundaries. Technology augments behavior, for instance, private phone conversations become public after cellphones were introduced.

5. Memory Prosthetic: I can opt to record moments of my life on video, and render the media deep searchable by date, time, subject matter, etc.

If you’re interested to learn more about me, check out my About page. If you wish to learn more about lifecasting, check out the following key articles below:

"Kevin // Social Cyborg" on theITsociety quarterly (01/08)
How (and WHY) you might want to build your own lifecasting kit

As featured on Zaobao Weekly
Zaobao Weekly newspaper features the Social Cyborg

How about you try it?
If you’d like to try something like this, but can’t afford the equipment, all you might need is your camera phone. Using Qik, you can easily broadcast video live from your cellphone, and even get viewers to chat with you right while you’re shooting! Here’s our Prime Minister demonstrating Qik at his National Day Rally speech and here’s my Qik profile if you’d like to add me as a friend.

So… what’s next?
My friends have made interesting suggestions on how I could further this project, but I’d love to hear your thoughts on how you’d like to see this take flight. I also encourage you to try this on your own, so feel free to ask if you have any questions.

Finally, do watch out for Alex Halavais’ upcoming “wear-tech” blog (TBA). As a tech enthusiast and assistant professor of communications at Quinnipiac University, he’s been my key mentor and sense-maker in our age of complexity.

It’s almost 2009… what’s up with Kevin?

In the Qik video above, I’ll share a personal update on: A Singaporean Gift, Spending Christmas alone, Dissertation progress, the last Macworld in 2009, the Social Cyborg on Weekend Buffalo News, performing Self-Surgery on bump on inner lip, slow blogging for now.

A Singaporean Christmas gift

Opening up the care package from Singapore, I find a treat I’ve not tasted for more than a year. It’s “Bak Kwa“, which is like the sweet roasted version of American beef jerkies (it’s actually pork). This particular package I received even lets you soften the meat by dipping the individual sleeves into boiling water before eating.

Here’s a video demo showing you how I enjoy this doggie treat. Thank you @Prissyhan!

Fun Facts from our Buffalo Holiday Tweetup

Buffalo Holiday Tweetup - 5
All our twitter mobiles… Yes, Trism counts!

Last Saturday, we organized a last minute Buffalo Holiday Tweetup at Brennans Bowery Bar. It hailed a decent turnout, including new faces like Matt Hames and John Piercy. Steve Watson was there as well to observe for an article in the Buffalo News.

  1. According to Steve Watson, @Wegmans isn’t actually run by Wegmans supermarket, but by four Wegmans fans! If you don’t know about Wegmans, it’s a big deal to us because it one of the best damn supermarkets around! Just see @Wegmans tweets to see why…
  2. Our very own woodspinning @KeithBurtis is now hired as community manager for BestBuy’s Remix Developer program. Like a growing number of corporations, BestBuy executives probably did extensive online searches of their prospective employees before deciding on their candidate. With Keith actively building rapport from his woodworking art, it was natural that BestBuy selected him to build a community around their new developer program.
  3. I share Chris Smith’s enthusiasm for David Cohn’s community-funded news project. We look forward to seeing new forms of participatory journalism develop, especially since it’s good for the profession, yet reflects the input of the local community.

iPhoto panorama by John Piercy

Here’s a Qik video as well as snapshots of everyone who attended with their twitter names!

How I use Tweetdeck (for hardcore twitter users)

How I use TweetDeck

If you’re a hardcore twitter user, what tricks do you have up your sleeve?
For me I trick out Tweetdeck as seen above.
Flickr your screenshots and tag them tweetdeck!