Tag Archives: humour

Why Is PRI’s The World Having Social Media Issues?

Some raw notes on why PRI’S The World (especially “The World Tech Podcast” or WTP) is having issues with social media. It may sound bad, for many reasons. But I won’t adapt the tone.

No offense intended.

Thing is, I don’t really care about WTP, The World, or even the major media outlets behind them (PRI, BBC, Discovery).

Reason for those notes: WTP host Clark Boyd mentioned that their social media strategy wasn’t working as well as they expected. Seemed like a nice opportunity to think about social media failures from mainstream media outlets.

My list of reasons is not exhaustive and it’s not really in order of importance.

Social media works best when people contribute widely. In other words, a podcaster (or blogger, etc.) who contributes to somebody else’s podcast (blog, etc.) is likely to attract the kind of mindshare afforded social media outlets. Case in point, I learnt about WTP through Erik Hersman because Afrigadget was able to post WTP content. A more efficient strategy is to actually go and contribute to other people’s social media.

The easiest way to do it is to link to other people, especially other blogs. Embedding a YouTube video can have some effects but a good ol’ trackback is so much more effective. In terms of attention economy, the currency is, well, attention: you need to pay attention to others!

Clark Boyd says WTP isn’t opposed to interacting with listeners. Nice… Yet, there hasn’t been any significant move toward interaction with listeners. Not even “letters to the editor” which could be read on the radio programme. No button to leave audio feedback. Listeners who feel they’re recognized as being interesting are likely to go the social media route.

While it’s a technology podcast, WTP is formatted as a straightforward radio news bulletin. “Stories” are strung together in a seamless fashion, most reports follow a very standard BBC format, there are very few “conversations” with non-journalists (interviews don’t count as conversations)… Such shows tend not to attract the same crowd as typical social media formats do. So WTP probably attracts a radio crowd and radio crowds aren’t necessarily that engaged in social media. Unless there’s a compelling reason to engage, but that’s not the issue I want to address.

What’s probably the saddest part is that The World ostensibly has a sort of global mission. Of course, they’re limited by language. But their coverage is even more Anglo-American than it needs to be. A far cry from Global Voices (and even GV tends to be somewhat Anglophone-centric).

The fact that WTP is part of The World (which is itself produced/supported by PRI, BBC, and Discovery) is an issue, in terms of social media. Especially given the fact that WTP-specific information is difficult to find. WTP is probably the one part of The World which is savvy to social media so the difficulty of finding WTP is made even more noticeable by the lack of a dedicated website.

WTP does have its own blog. But here’s how it shows up:

Discovery News: Etherized.

The main URL given for this blog? <tinyurl.com/wtpblog> Slightly better than <http://tinyurl.com/6g3me9&gt; (which also points to the same place). But very forgettable. No branding, no notion of an autonomous entity, little personality.

Speaking of personality, the main show’s name sounds problematic: The World. Not the most unique name in the world! 😉 On WTP, correspondents and host often use “the world” to refer to their main show. Not only is it confusing but it tends to sound extremely pretentious. And pretention is among the trickiest attitudes in social media.

A strange dimension of WTP’s online presence is that it isn’t integrated. For instance, their main blog doesn’t seem to have direct links to its Twitter and Facebook profiles. As we say in geek circles: FAIL!

To make matters worse, WTP is considering pulling off its Facebook page. As Facebook pages require zero maintenance and may bring help listeners associate themselves with the show, I have no idea why they would do such a thing. I’m actually having a very hard time finding that page, which might explain why it has had zero growth in the recent past. (Those who found it originally probably had friends who were adding it. Viral marketing works in bursts.) WTP host Clark Boyd doesn’t seem to have a public profile on Facebook. Facebook searches for WTP and “The World Tech Podcast” don’t return obvious results. Oh! There you go. I found the link to that Facebook page: <http://www.new.facebook.com/home.php#/group.php?gid=2411818715&ref=ts&gt;. Yes, the link they give is directly to the new version of Facebook. Yes, it has extra characters. No, it’s not linked in an obvious fashion.

That link was hidden in the August 22 post on WTP’s blog. But because every post has a link with “Share on Facebook” text, searching the page for “Facebook” returns all blogposts on the same page (not to mention the “Facebook” category for posts, in the right-hand sidebar). C’mon, folks! How about a Facebook badge? It’s free and it works!

Oh, wait! It’s not even a Facebook page! It’s a Facebook group! The difference between group and page seems quite small to the naked eye but ever since Fb came out with pages (a year or so ago), most people have switched from groups to pages. That might be yet another reason why WTP isn’t getting its “social media cred.” Not to mention that maintaining a Facebook group implies just a bit of time and doesn’t tend to provide direct results. Facebook groups may work well with preestablished groups but they’re not at all effective at bringing together disparate people to discuss diverse issues. Unless you regularly send messages to group members which is the best way to annoy people and generate actual animosity against the represented entity.

On that group, I eventually learn that WTP host Clark Boyd has his own WTP-themed blog. In terms of social media, the fact that I only found that blog after several steps indicates a broader problem, IMHO.

And speaking of Clark Boyd… He’s most likely a great person and an adept journalist. But is WTP his own personal podcast with segments from his parent entity or is WTP, like the unfortunately defunct Search Engine, a work of collaboration? If the latter is true, why is Boyd alone between segments in the podcast, why is his picture the only one of the WTP blog, and why is his name the domain for the WTP-themed blog on WordPress.com?

Again, no offence. But I just don’t grok WTP.

There’s one trap I’m glad WTP can avoid. I won’t describe it too much for fear that it will represent the main change in strategy. Not because I get the impression I may have an impact. But, in attention economy, “the squeaky wheel gets the grease.”

Oops! I said too much… 😦

I said I don’t care about WTP. It’s still accurate. But I do care about some of the topics covered by WTP. I wish there were more social media with a modicum of cultural awareness. In this sense, WTP is a notch above Radio Open Source and a few notches below Global Voices. But the podcast for Global Voices may have podfaded and Open Source sounds increasingly U.S.-centric.

Ah, well…


Swiss Made Smiling

Swiss Smile

Viral marketing at its best.

The video works well at exactly the task it was set up to accomplish.

The song is my new theme song. Downloaded the sound file and would play it in a loop if I had a portable media player.

I love the mission, the concept, the song, the video, the logo, the lyrics, the people, the humour.

The only problem I have is that the t-shirt is too expensive for me and I would really love to wear it and make the whole thing even more viral.

To be perfectly honest, the video moved me. It filled exactly the spot it had to fill.

Random acts of kindness.


One Think Per Child

Biancastrada Holdings LLC,  the group which brought you the famed and highly successful $100 laptop, is proud to present its new approach to saving The Rest of The World©: The One Think Per Child™ project (OTPC™).

OTPC™ is a brand new civilizing mission which goes back more than four centuries, to the early days of the Weberian Revolution. At the time, ideas were the size of dinosaurs and they terrified young children. Nobody ever thought that children could ever get their own ideas. But one pioneering young man by the name of Same-Old Paper single-handedly took control of the situation. He designed a smaller, Unified Idea (patent pending), which children could hold in their hands.

Setting up a small non-profit organization, Paper began to sell children “the one idea they would ever need,” henceforth known as “The One Idea®.” The printing press helped Paper quickly sell his Idea to all rich children around the World. Unfortunately, some tiny parts of the world were still too poor and desolate to afford Paper’s Idea. So Paper requested the help of Nicola Biancastrada, who had efficiently designed his own Ideas, through his training in architecture and political science.

What Biancastrada and Paper realized is that children in Africa or in Detroit can only afford inferior ideas, if they can afford any idea at all. So Biancastrada and Paper tried to find ways to manufacture The One Idea® at merely fifteen times the cost of the inferior ideas those hapless African souls were trying to own.

The result of the Biancastrada-Paper collaboration is the One Think Per Child™ program, a visionary project to give billions of poor children the possibility to afford The One Idea® on their own, regardless of adults around them. Biancastrada and Paper have a vision and they will make their vision come true.

Paper’s Idea is not merely a philosophical concept. It’s an educational tool, designed to help any child become elligible for welfare by the time they are forty years old. Philosophical details about Paper’s Idea are irrelevant since education is about Unified Thinking and the Whole Truth.

The OTPC™ project revolves around five core principles:

1) Child ownership. The One Idea® will enable foreigners to fully own children.

2) Low ages. As the saying goes, “catch them while they are young.”

3) Saturation. The One Idea® should leave no room for lesser ideas.

4) Connection. Anything a child does can be monitored through the World View Web.

5) Free and Open Source. The OTPC Non-Profit Foundation inc. surveyed the freshwater sources of the world in order to find the private corporation they charged with mass production of the OTPC Idea™.

While no plan has been made at this point to sell The One Idea® to children in rich and powerful nations, you can participate in the OTPC™ project through the Give Idea Get Ordained® program (GIGO®). This project, in collaboration with the Unified Free Church, enables anyone to purchase an OTPC Idea™ for a poor African child and become an ordained minister at the same time. Schools and States are welcome to take part in this program. Special discounts are offered to ideologues and demagogues.

Given the current relevance of the environment, the OTPC Idea™ is available in any color as long as it is green.

Act now!

The GIGO program and the OTPC Idea™ are only available from now until noon (UTC), 04/01/2008.


Post-March Wrap-Up

Well, it’s that time of the year…

TechCrunch has some important stories, today:

Also:

Not to mention ThinkGeek‘s seasonal offerings, like the Betamax to HD-DVD Converter, USB Pregnancy Test, YouTube Tazer, and Personal Soundtrack T-Shirt.

Remember, this is “Believe Everything You Read” Day.