Author Archives: acselden

U.S. Army using social media as new recruitment strategy


The United States Army is now using Facebook, Twitter and its own blog called “Army Live” to recruit new people, and to give soldiers and their families a place to connect.  This is according to a NY Daily News article by Stephanie Gaskell.  And according to an article from the Army News Service, the social networking pages and the blog were launced by the new Online and Social Media Division of Army Public Affairs.  Gaskell points out that  the Army’s Facebook page has about 3,000 friends, and it has more than 5,000 followers on Twitter.  It’s interesting to note that on the Army’s Twitter page, the bio section points out that “Following does not = endorsement.”  

The U.S. Army wants you – to be its friend on Facebook.   You can also follow the Army on Twitter. Or post a comment on its new blog. They’re all part of the Army’s new mission: social networking.  “If Ashton Kutcher can do it, the U.S. Army can do it,” said Lindy Kyzer, who posts the Army’s “status updates” on Facebook and “tweets” on Twitter. […] “We know that our ability to share the Army story is shaped by how we tell it and where we tell it,” said Lt. Col. Kevin Arata, who heads the Army’s new Online and Social Media Division. “Using social media platforms allows us to tell our story where we know people are at and are listening.”

I also recommend this article from ReadWriteWeb on how the U.S. State Department is sending Twitter to Iraq “to bring the microblogging service into government and civil society there.”

Some say social media could be used to boost national security


In a recent UPI article, National Defense University researcher Mark Drapeau says the U.S. Department of Defense should consider using social media for national defense purposes.  Drapeau points out the recent terrorist attacks in India, and how quickly information about the attacks spread through sites like Twitter.  He says the India bombings are just one demonstration of how potentially powerful social networking can be if used for national defense.

Drapeau has called on the Defense Department to develop a comprehensive strategy for utilizing social-media technologies to support U.S. government strategic security objectives.  “It’s still important to be aware of the power and reach of these tools,” Drapeau said, according to Nextgov.  “If you work in national security, some of these things happening in other countries may affect your job or mission. What’s happening over the past couple years is people in other countries are using Facebook, Twitter and blogs to organize. In some cases, even when government security knew it was happening, they were overwhelmed by the amount of people who show up.”

Facebook’s attempt to “involve” its members just a con?


An interesting article posted by Lidija Davis on ReadWriteWeb yesterday asserts that Facebook’s extension of the “site governance vote” to its users could never work the way Facebook says it could.  In fact, Davis and others are calling this seemingly generous move by Facebook downright deceitful.  Back in February, Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced that Facebook would soon start letting its users vote on major changes to the site, calling this action an “unprecendented” effort to involve users.  But global privacy watchdog Privacy International is calling foul.

They say the problem lies with the condition that 30 percent of Facebook‘s active users (active meaning that a user has logged in sometime in the last 30 days) have to vote on a proposal for the voting to even count.  This means that, for the current vote on Facebook‘s Terms of Service to be valid, 49 million people would have to vote.  But this seems pretty unlikely, considering that, as of a couple of days ago, there were less than 281,000 votes.  Privacy International is calling this a “publicity stunt and a massive confidence trick on its 200 million users.”

“While we support the concept of user participation, the idea of establishing a thirty percent participation threshold is a complete joke. It will never be reached, and Facebook knows it. Earlier this year the figure had been set at 25 percent, and it was edged up because of concerns that users might actually succeed in changing the terms and conditions,” Privacy International’s Director, Simon Davies claimed in a statement Friday.

Check out the whole article, “Facebook’s Site Governance Vote: A Massive Con?”

Can investigative reporting survive through online grassroots efforts?

ReporterJay Rosen posted a link on his Twitter a few days ago to the Knight Digital Media Center article “New grassroots life for investigative reporting?”  In it, author David Westphal discusses recent efforts to revive and sustain watchdog journalism through grassroots efforts, funded by foundations and philanthropy.  He mentions organizations like Texas Watchdog, which received a year of foundation funding to keep an eye on the Texas state government, and ProPublica, a recently launched investigative non-profit.  Westphal seems to believe there is hope for these attempts to prioritize watchdog journalism, and he highlights some of the creative ways that these organizations are working to sustain themselves in the long run.

There are multiple strikes against the idea that watchdog reporting can actually gain a foothold as a grassroots movement. Practically any business model has sharp limitations when it comes to investigative work, which is time-consuming, treacherous in its predictability and certain to be controversial. So is there a financing mechanism that legions of out-of-work journalists and others could adopt that would at least partially bankroll accountability reporting projects?  The answer is likely many months or years away.  

Voice is financed partly by foundations and mostly by philanthropy, and neither the foundations nor philanthropists are intending for their funding to be permanent.  But it’s an island of stability compared to the challenges facing other sites. Texas Watchdog got first-year funding from the Sam Adams Alliance, but now is looking to other potential revenue streams, including advertising and money made off a citizen journalism training program. Baltimore’s Investigative Voice is in a different situation. It basically began with no start-up funding, and exists now with a few advertising dollars and contributions, but mostly free labor.

I think it’s great that Texas Watchdog gets some of its money from a citizen journalism training program – what a creative idea.  Hopefully organizations like these keep up the search for a business model that will work long-term for investigative journalism.  Be sure to check out the whole article.

Belmont students teach art classes to former addicts

At Room in the Inn shelter in downtown Nashville, several Belmont University students turn out every Friday morning to teach art therapy classes to men in the Odyssey Program, a program for recovering addicts. And on March 19, Belmont University hosted “A Place at the Table,” an exhibit featuring art created by residents of Room in the Inn’s Campus for Human Development.

Below, you’ll find a video story with footage from one of these art classes, a slide show featuring artwork from the exhibit with reactions from those in attendance and a map of local homeless services.

You can also check out  a full-size version of this map.

Nashville Homeless Shelters

Jeff Jarvis gives newspapers the harsh speech they need to hear


Jay Rosen posted a link on Twitter today to a great post by Jeff Jarvis on Buzz Machine. In “The Speech the NNA Should Hear,” Jarvis holds nothing back as he delivers his fictional speech to the Newspaper Association of America. His basic message to newspaper heads: “You blew it.” Jarvis chides newspaper executives for failing to take any substantial actions to adapt to the changing media world.  He also strongly suggests that newspapers stop complaining and actually thank aggregators, bloggers and Facebook–as without them, newspapers would lose half of their traffic.  So much of what Jarvis says rings true, it’s scary.

Here are some of the highlights:

On most of your sites, only 20 percent of the audience in a day ever sees your homepage and its careful packaging; 4 of 5 readers instead come in through search and links. In the link economy – instead of the outmoded content economy in which you operate – Google and aggregators and bloggers are bringing value to you; they should be charging you for the value they bring. You should rise up today and give Mr. Schmidt a big thank you for not charging you. But you won’t, because you’ve refused to understand this new business reality.

The financial crisis only accelerated your fall. It didn’t cause the fall, it accelerated it. So now, for many of you, there isn’t time. It’s simply too late. The best thing some of you can do is get out of the way and make room for the next generation of net natives who understand this new economy and society and care about news and will reinvent it, building what comes after you from the ground up. There’s huge opportunity there, for them.

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Hilarious mockumentary – “Flutter: The New Twitter”

Check out this hilarious mockumentary, which follows the development of a fictional service, called Flutter, which takes Twitter to the next level.  Forget micro-blogging, Flutter is nano-blogging!

Surviving the transition to online journalism requires more than just a degree in journalism


Jay Rosen posted a link on Twitter today with the article “You’ve got to know what you stand for to survive in journalism online” by Robert Niles.  Niles, from the Knight Digital Media Center, covers a number of topics in his article, but one point I found particularly interesting was his assertion that a degree in journalism is no longer enough.  Niles points out that, as more and more lay-offs take place at traditional news organizations, the number of times a story is edited before being published decreases, increasing the likelihood that an inaccurate story will be published.    Niles says that up-and-coming journalists need to have an additional degree, or extensive experience in covering a specific beat, to maintain traditional journalistic values.

We now need writers who have more practical expertise and academic training in the beats that they will cover, so they can take more responsibility for the accuracy of their work, without editing assistance. It’s not enough for aspiring journalists to study how to craft a story – they must bring also a passion for and training in a beat to cover.   Newsrooms can’t expect j-school graduates with one 200-level econ course to their credit to be able to attract an audience covering the business beat when they are competing with bloggers who have PhDs in economics, or years of industry experience.

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5 Ways Newspapers can Avoid Extinction


A Mashable article by Woody Lewis, “Newspapers: 5 Ways to Avoid Extinction,” provides some interesting and helpful advice for newspapers desperately attempting to save themselves.  And Lewis has some really strong ideas.  One piece of advice he gives that I find particularly interesting is his suggestion that newspapers may want to seek out strong technology partners at universities, where students are being trained to use the web.  

His five gems of advice are:

  • Embrace chaos

Chaos can be traumatic for the unimaginative, but abandoning the center of gravity can be a lifesaver. Believing in the sanctity of newspapers will not improve their chances. Random events, driven by technology and social use patterns, will shape the future.

  • Devise a new strategy that emphasizes alliances and collaboration

Whether the affiliate organization is for-profit or non-profit, when a newspaper reaches out to another entity, it practices a corporate form of social media.

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Who will monetize social media?


In the Mashable article “Who Will Monetize Social Media?”, author Ben Parr discusses the  front-runners in the race to establish a viable and sustainable way to monetize social media.  Parr says the top candidates are Facebook, Twitter and Apple mobile media.  The Mashable poll accompanying this article asks readers “Who will be the leader in monetizing social media?”  The results were mixed, with 15 percent of people responding that “There will be no one leader.”  But the option getting the largest number of votes was Apple mobile applications, with 27 percent of the votes.  Parr says that while Apple itself is not a social media outlet, the incredible success of the iPhone demonstrates how indispensable Apple may be a social enabler.

Apple isn’t a social media company, so why does it get a spot on this list? The answer is the wild success of the iPhone application store. Apple has succeeded where Facebook has not – in monetizing third party applications. On top of that, it has created a vibrant marketplace for mobile social media.  Will that innovation lead to more social media companies turning to mobile devices for monetization, a place where people seem more comfortable paying for software?