Social media in real life – fun and games with SMCSTL and Filament

Last night I attended the Social Media Club – St. Louis (@smcstl) happy hour in celebration of Social Media Day. The event was held at Filament, an incredible new meeting and conference space in downtown St. Louis from my friend Matt Homann and his partners. The team went all out to create a fun evening while showcasing the talent and approach of the Filament team and their process.

The main gathering space was where most of the conversation happened, and good conversation it was. Putting a bit of twist on the typical SMCSTL member engagement on social media during an event, where people are encouraged – expected, even – to be engaged with their gadgets and online networks, the side rooms were each converted into an “offline” version of a social media tool.

In the LinkedIn room, you were asked to post your resume in haiku-ish fashion; three lines of 5, 7, and 5 words. (You can see mine at Resume in haiku(ish).)  The Instagram room had a wall where you could post your hand-drawn selfie, such as this one by Jessica. And, of course, the Facebook room had a wall where you could post and share.

If you live in St. Louis and are at all interested or involved in social media, you really should check out the Social Media Club – St. Louis Chapter.

And if you live anywhere and are looking for an incredible place to hold your next meeting, conference, retreat, off-site, whatever, definitely check out Filament. Because if you absolutely need to have that meeting, you might as well do it right.

All this machinery making modern music

To make music these days, musicians need to know just a bit more than how to play their instrument. A guitar player, for example, needs to be able to play the guitar (a given), but also must have an understanding of how the guitar is built, what accessories provide what features, how to mic the amps. Likewise a drummer, bass player, or other band member. Then comes the process of recording music to produce a song and, hopefully, all the work that goes into putting on a live performance. There are a seemingly endless supply of options available to these musicians that must be overwhelming at times.

Kind of like the seemingly endless onslaught of new collaboration tools and ways to communicate with others.

A little over 5 years ago, I wrote the following:

I’ve been messing around with blogs (with varying success) for over 5 years now, have set up and contributed to my fair share of other online sources like wikis and as a commenter to other blogs. But I’ve only recently really understood the value and, yes, appeal of text messaging and the ability to send photos and videos from anywhere on my phone. And, though I’ve recently signed up and started experimenting with Facebook, I’m still not quite sure exactly what to do with it. And don’t get me started with things like Twitter – as much as friends and others praise it, I just don’t get it.

Of course, it has only gotten worse (better?) since then.

List of feed options for the Lifestream plugin
All this, plus a way to add any that aren’t already included

I have spent the better part of the past year or so exploring and trying out new tools, seeing where they add value or don’t. I still don’t use Facebook much, but have found my groove with Twitter. I see the value and potential of Google+ but just can’t quite get into it. On the other hand, I have come to love and rely on Jive in our “behind the firewall” social/business network. I’ve signed up for many of the niche services that have come out: I really like InstagramUntappd is a cool idea, and I don’t get Pinterest (at all). A quick look at the feed selection list for the Lifestream plugin for WordPress gives an idea of what’s out there. I have no idea what most of them are, and this isn’t even all of them! (Lifestream provides a way for you to add “generic” feeds for all those that they’ve missed.)

Speaking of WordPress… Although I haven’t been blogging publicly for a while (16 months or so, yikes!), spending a lot of time writing and making things happen behind the firewall, I have kept up with the evolution of WordPress and the great tools available in the system, not to mention the evolution of its positioning in the market from “just another … blog” to “just another … site”. I’ve read a couple of good WordPress books through my Safari Books Online subscription, and played around a bit under the hood.

Wordcamp St. Louis 2012

And in a couple of weeks I’m attending WordCamp St. Louis 2012 to learn and share even more.

I could say that all this goodness was part of why it has taken me so long to actually get back up and running. (I told @tomcatalini back in April that I was “very close” to a return to blogging, not sure 4 months counts as “very close”.) And though it sounds like an excuse it is, at least partly, true. Part of my absence has been directly related to my trying to figure out what direction I wanted this blog to take, to build on my previous blogs or to try something new. But part has been trying to understand what is possible with regards to how I do it.

A perfect example of this interplay was my discovery of different post formats, along with the Showcase page template in the Twenty Eleven theme, and how I could use it to capture and present both my own extended thoughts on things (an ounce of perception) and a log of my more random thoughts and observations (a pound of obscure).

I don’t need to worry about all those sites and services in the list above that I don’t know about, or know how to use, nor do I need to worry about all the bells and whistles in WordPress. Perhaps they will be of value to me some day, and if so I expect that I will find them if and when I need them. What I care about is what I can do with them. 

Like the musicians I mentioned earlier, my purpose is not to “play an instrument” or to set up a bunch of gear. My purpose is to make music, and all this machinery is just a way to do that.

Now, let’s see what kind of music I can make….

Does social media make you more social?

A common misconception about autistic individuals is that they shun social contact, that they are all introverts.  But in many cases it is simply the means – not the desire –  to be social that eludes them.  Face-to-face, real-time conversation can be difficult, but it is not because their there is no interest in communicating.  Enter social media.

To get an idea of what some autistic individuals have to say, check out the autistic bloggers at The Autism Hub.  These individuals have embraced what blogs have to offer in terms of a way to get their ideas out to the world and to engage in conversation with their readers through the comments.  These same people are also prolific users of social networking sites – such as Facebook, MySpace, Second Life, and even their own Ning communities – to connect with their friends.

I’ve been thinking of this in the context of making use of social media in the enterprise.   One of the problems that many implementations of KM had (have?) is its “mandatory” nature:  “you will contribute to the knowledge store, you will reuse, etc. etc.”    As different as SM is from KM, I see SM in the enterprise facing a similar issue. Just because it is available doesn’t mean that everyone will use it.  Just because social media is a good tool, doesn’t mean that everyone will naturally know now, or want to, use it.  If someone isn’t social by nature, giving them a tool that allows them to be social isn’t really going to help.

In other words, social media doesn’t “make” people more social.  Social media simply provides social people an opportunity to better express their inherent social nature.