Tag Archives: social media

Yeah, Pokemon Go Is A Real Virtual Thing

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A photo of a gravel street in Old Sacramento with a cartoon figure superimposed on it.

Rhydon has been seen near the Eagle Theatre in Old Sacramento State Historic Park. Beware!

A screenshot showing the Pokemon character "graveler" in front of a steam locomotive

Graveler in front of a steam locomotive at the California State Railroad Museum.

 

The social media landscape changes so quickly that it’s been difficult for the Media Platypus-ers to keep up with the rapid pace of things. Mostly it’s incremental– changes to Facebook algorithms, reading the extra ninety six pages of the latest ITunes Terms of Service Agreement, and wondering whatever happened to the first part of 2016.

But then comes Pokemon Go, and this seems to be a game changer. A silly game app with ridiculous characters that for many of us harken back to early childhood (or early parenthood) has come back, not to haunt us with memories of bad animation, but to get us out of our chairs and into the real world while searching for a virtual one. What a concept!

For the two or three people who have not heard all of the babble, Pokemon Go is an app for Androids and the iOS platform that puts you in a virtual reality platform on your device. Using your camera and the device’s GPS capabilities, you hunt for various creatures from Pokemon (Sand Shrew, anyone?) and in the right place you’ll find them and have various interactions, battles, and all sorts of nonsense that to the people around you who aren’t playing, will look really, really weird.

This really isn’t the first app that puts virtual reality aspects into historic areas. My historian friend

screenshot of the Ingress app, showing green and blue abstract polygons over a streetmap of a portion of downtown Sacramento California.

Ingress activity in downtown Sacramento. Who knew that there was such turmoil in our State Capital?

Kyle is addicted to Ingress, from the same developer, and in fact the Poke Stops in Pokemon Go are really the same thing that portals are in Ingress. I’ve actually used Ingress and as a result I understand even less of it (and it drains my phone battery,) but it involves portals and power sources that are constantly being seized by either the green or blue guys, and it just depends on what side you’d like to be on. The “adults” who are into Ingress can be also seen exploring historic areas and places they might not have otherwise explored, but rather than chasing silly cartoon characters, they are much more intelligently looking for portals and power centers to seize from the other entity.

I’m officially old these days, so it makes no sense to me, but with age comes perspective (I made this part up) and as an observer and a person who specializes in communication and enlightening people’s worlds, I’m delighted to see these things, even if I think they’re stupid. Why? Because they corollate with a theory I developed about geocaching in the early 2000s, about using technology to get geeky people away from their screens and into the outdoor environment that I think that everyone should be intimately acquainted with.

Without going into detail, I have tech-obsessed relatives who began geocaching, accidentally went outdoors, and without even knowing it, developed walking muscles, got tans, and learned about the natural and cultural environment while finding caches. Today I have a brother-in-law who is a world-class cacher, with thousands of caches to his credit, but he’s still very much a geek, and proudly so.

Pokemon Go is doing the same thing in a much more socially engaging way, or at least it’s really caught critical mass in a way that geocaching just hasn’t. It’s both funny (go to goo.gl/WEplXS to read people’s complaints about sore legs from too much walking while playing Pokemon Go) to experiences that are directly useful for interpreters (goo.gl/4RKgVR) in that Pokemon Go (and Ingress, and even another app called “Tour Guide” can help you learn about the cultural environment you’re in.) It seems to me that the opportunity to link Pokemon Go and other players with our parks and historic sites is just an opportunity begging to be exploited.

This isn’t to say that these are appropriate everywhere, and indeed, the administrators of Arlington National Cemetery and the Holocaust Museum in Washington D.C. have asked people to respect the character and purpose of their sites by not engaging, and honestly I think that it was really stupid for Niantic and Nintendo to populate those sites with Pokemon characters (plus I wish that there was an opt-in/opt-out choice for businesses and landowners) but I’d prefer to dwell on the positive.

On the Facebook Group #diginterp, I asked the question of whether Pokemon Go was a problem for interpretive sites. Overwhelmingly, the answer has been NO! I think that a lot of interpreters and social media types are embracing the opportunity to engage with a new audience segment, sometimes even when they bump into you while staring at their device.

As always, I don’t know what will come of all this, but it’s a great new avenue into engagement. I just hope that we can come up with something that’s a bit more attractive than gravelers, sand shrews, and rattata!

Lorde! New Zealanders talk funny … ah where is that again?

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“All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players…” William Shakespeare

Lorde performs on September 28, 2013 at Showbox at the Market during the Decibel Festival in Seattle, Washington; photo Kirk Stauffer.

Lorde; photo Kirk Stauffer.

Our whole country has gone Grammy-mad this week, after Kiwi teenager Lorde won two awards. All our news programmes, radio, social media networks are a buzz with this achievement.  There’s no mistaking the fact that she has become world famous in New Zealand. Even her fingernails have their own twitter account.  There hasn’t been this much hype around one person since… well since Peter Jackson won his first Oscars!

Watching the awards show I learnt three things:

  • Americans really know how to put on a good show.
  • Celebrities are experts at using twitter
  • Being famous does not automatically make you funny.
  • Music is the one universal language.

OK so that’s four things. But the last one got me thinking. It got me thinking about culture and communication. And the challenges of getting it right when your audience potentially is the whole world.

How does an awkward teenager from a group of islands somewhere near the South Pole co-write a song that explodes across the globe, in a way she described as mental”? (Yes New Zealanders talk funny). Well, you can read how she did it in this interview with her manager; “How to make it big online”.

Social media has bought people around the world together, regardless of cultural differences and geographic boundaries – creating a global village. It exposes us to new ideas and differences of opinion. It encourages interactions, conversation, debate. It’s a powerful tool. No wonder interpreters are drawn to it like moths to Tilden’s flame.

The downside to all this sharing is that sometimes its hard to maintain a unique voice. Despite the distance, NZ is heavily influenced by all things American, especially in the entertainment industry. This point was bought home to me when listening to my five-year-old talk to her friend during imaginary play – they were talking for their make-believe characters with American accents! Bits of our own culture are being ‘acquired’ too – there’s an American company called Kiwi, unashamedly named after our national bird, and someone in Germany trademarked the name Moana – which means ocean and is a popular girl’s name for our first peoples – Maori.

A lot of the content shared online by interpreters is written and this is tricky too – with slang, colloquialisms and spelling differences even between countries that use the same language. You may have noticed I like to spell programme with two mms and colour with a u.

So with all these extra challenges, how does an interpreter communicate successfully via social media? The advice from Lorde’s manager is that success for a musician starts with a good song. The same goes for interpreters.

Start with core principles.

  • Make it enjoyable.
  • Make it relevant and meaningful.
  • Make it organised and thematic.
  • Make it personal. After all, if its not personal, its not interpretation.

Lorde has struck a chord that has resonated around the world, by writing about what she feels and what she has experienced. But she is a real person, and that’s where it starts – she’s keeping it real. And we are prodigiously proud of her.

Check out some other kiwis doing their own version of her Grammy-winning song. (I didn’t say it was good.)

Lorde's home town sign is altered in a play on the lyrics of 'Royal'.

Lorde’s home town sign is altered in a play on the lyrics of ‘Royal’.

The popularity contest everyone’s tweeting about!

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Forest and Bird e-poster. M Herrick.

OK so New Zealand has a lot of birds. And we’re pretty proud of how unique they are – I mean 87% of them are found nowhere else in the world! We’ve named ourselves after one of the weirdest ones – kiwi.  So it’s no wonder that when Forest and Bird Protection Society launches its annual ‘Bird of the Year competition’ we all jump up in a flurry of ruffled feathers to vote.

Forest and Bird e-poster. M Herrick.

Bird of the Year competition/campaign advisor, poster-designer and general go–to person Mandy Herrick  says that the competition is about celebrating our native birds and highlighting the threats they face.

“The voting page outlines the threats to each species of bird, and outlines how special they are by giving the public the latest (often rather grim) population figures,” says Mandy.

“Last year’s competition received 10,292 votes and we received just over $3,000 in donations.”

Look a little deeper, beyond the figures and the ‘pretty birds’ and you find that there are some very clever reasons why this competition is so successful. Here are three…

1)    Forest and Bird invites people to become ‘campaign managers’ for their favourite bird and makes it easy to do so.

Celebrities make great ‘campaign managers’ of course, but anyone with a passion for birds can be one. These ‘campaign managers’ tap into their own networks and connections, star factor, and ‘friends’. They make the most of the power of word of mouth. “Like me, like my bird!”

Last year, NZ comedian Raybon Kan campaigned fiercely for the karearea under the tagline “NZ’s got talons” and won the competition.

“Enlisting people (celebrities or otherwise) who are passionate about our birds is key,” says Mandy. “One campaigner went to extreme lengths to raise the profile of their bird by inking his bird onto his body last year (the tieke). Let’s just say this really raised the bar!”

2)    They make the campaign visually rich by creating e-posters and sharing these via twitter and Facebook.

“We give campaign managers the chance to create their own poster or they can just give us a tagline and we’ll create a poster for them,” says Mandy.

Forest and Bird e-poster; M Herrick.

 

3)    They keep the “buzz” going with regular updates and postings.

“Last year, we did regular graphic updates of which birds were polling well. This always creates a boost in voting and pushes the smack talk to whole new levels,” says Mandy.

“(The competition) created a conversation about our birds and it’s fun. Some people run information-rich campaigns, others concentrate on more superficial characteristics of their bird; i.e. their looks. Any which way, it helps to raise awareness, and hopefully will lead people on a path to becoming more aware of our birds, and perhaps protecting them in the future.”

So, if you like this post, make sure you vote for the bird that INNZ is backing this year –wrybill/ngutu parore. Wading in with personality and pizzazz it’s the only bird in the world with a beak that is bent sideways – and always to the right!

Why vote wrybill? Because we are all a little bent!

Wrybill_poster

P.S. there’s been no mention of rugby, hobbits or Flight of the Conchords in this, or my last post, so I’ll leave you with this tenuous link – Jermaine Clement’s Pretty bird clip.

This just in! How social media campaigns can be successful

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I am often a great supporter of procrastination. Not a proactive supporter, just a passive one. In fact, I often find that the mere act of doing nothing has the unintentional effect of encouraging procrastination.

So, I was busy procrastinating from writing my latest blog post for Media Platypus. I guess I was just waiting for something to happen on its own, when – ding! – something suddenly appeared in my inbox. It was a report from Ipsos, a worldwide market research firm. But, this isn’t just any report. It is a report about social media campaigns. Bingo! Procrastination 1. Hard Work 0.

This new report (from Ipsos’ UK office) attempts to identify ways that social media campaigns can be successful. It is something that I fully intended on coming up with myself, but how about I just tell you what the report says instead?

In a nutshell, this report identifies three things you must do to be successful with your campaign:

1. Play to the strengths of each platform. They are all different. I can’t stress the importance of this one enough. Just because they are all grouped together under the umbrella of social media, it doesn’t mean you should take the same approach with each platform. They are all different and have different users. And, these users have different behaviour and reasons for using those platforms.

.

Social Media – as explained by the act of peeing

According to their survey of UK users, Facebook is about sharing enjoyment with friends, Twitter is about discovery and connection with like-minded individuals, and YouTube is about entertainment and relaxation (like TV). The implication? Your content for Facebook should be focused on bringing friends together, your content for Twitter should be about discovery, and your content for YouTube should entertain and inform.

2. Deliver content people want to engage with. This seems obvious, but I see a lot of examples of content that either isn’t engaging or is on the wrong platform. When surveying how people interact with brands on various platforms, Ipsos discovered that people look for promos and offers on Facebook, and news on Twitter. Linkedin was more for learning from experts.

3. Be relevant and add value.  If we want people’s time, we need to reward them for it. 45% of people that “like” a brand on Facebook subsequently unlike it. There are all kinds of reasons for this, but often it is because there is some immediate one-time reward or contest, and there isn’t enough relevant and rewarding content to continue.

If you would like to read the entire report (it isn’t very long), you can check it out here. As for me, I have some serious procrastination planned.

‘Tall Poppies’ in the land of hobbits

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Like all good leaders, I love to delegate. So this second post from Interpretation Network New Zealand is penned by our esteemed Secretary, Oli du Bern, whose day job title is Visitor Experience Manager for Wellington Zoo. Like all good second-in-commands, he starts off his missive by complimenting his leader; adding fertiliser to the roots of this ‘Tall Poppy’. Enjoy. 

When we (INNZ) agreed to make contributions to Media Platypus, we wanted to provide insights with a uniquely kiwi flavour.  In light of this, I will do my best (in this and future posts) to reference flightless birds, The Flight of the Conchords, hobbits, our rivalry with Australia, and the world’s greatest sport – rugby (in which, we are better than Australia). Sarah did a great job with our first contribution, sharing the success of Sirocco the Kakapo (hurray for flightless birds!).

For this post, I want to address a challenge that we face working with social media and interpretation in New Zealand.

Ever heard of ‘Tall Poppy Syndrome’? It is a phenomenon widely recognised in the UK and Canada, but also part of our national identity in New Zealand.

Tall poppy syndrome (TPS) is a social phenomenon in which people of genuine merit are resented, criticised or cut down because their talents or achievements elevate them above their peers.

Credit: Jo Caird/Rugby Images.
All Blacks do the haka, led by their fearless captain Kieran Read; Credit: Jo Caird/Rugby Images.

A perfect example is our national rugby team, my beloved All Blacks – the world’s number one rugby team, and the greatest team in the history of teams. They recently beat France in a three game series 3-0 – a fantastic accomplishment, as France is a formidable rugby nation, ranked 5th in the world.

At the end of the game the third game our fearless captain, Kieran Read, was interviewed. The first comment from the interviewer was not “well done” or “bravo”, but instead, “A tough game tonight Kieran.  A lot of mistakes were made.   Your thoughts?” To which Captain Read replied, “Yeah, it was a frustrating match…”

Where was the celebration? Where was the “Wow, fantastic! Congratulations on an entertaining series, how does it feel to have beaten France?”

I think this syndrome is a barrier to engagement in social media.  The nucleus of social media is people’s willingness to share things about themselves. Share their lives, their work, what they like and what they are proud of. In a social climate that likes to cut participants down for their success, putting yourself or your work out there can be difficult.

In the big wide world of social media, there are plenty of challenges to conquer. In New Zealand, one of our challenges is curing TPS through the celebration and encouragement of success. In September, at the INNZ Spring Workshop, one of the sessions is social media for interpretation. I, for one, can’t wait to learn from some of the successful social media programmes out there. Hopefully we can share some of our social media tall poppy stories with you all.

I will leave you with these wise words from Bret, Jemaine and Murray of Flight of the Conchords (New Zealand’s forth best folk parody duo).

Jemaine: “Bret dissed a lot of people in that rap thing he did.”

Murray: “Who were these people you are dissing? The only one I could make out was Snoopy! What’s your problem with him?”

Bret: “No, Snoop Dogg.”

Murray: “Yeah, I know he’s a dog, I’m not totally in the dark ages. I do go out every once in a while. But, Snoopy’s loveable! Leave him alone.” 

Flight of the Conchords; Credit: Monik Markus.

Musical Comedy Duo ‘Flight of the Conchords’ – Credit: Monik Markus.

 

Welcome Home, Commander Hadfield

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15 years ago, I met the now famous Commander Chris Hadfield. I was creating a Space Camp at IMAX Theatre in Winnipeg in conjunction with the film, Mission to Mir. Yes, it was a neat project, but to me, it was just an excuse to legally spin kids in a “spaceball” until they vomited.

Well, Chris Hadfield was passing through town, promoting the film and the Canadian Space Agency (the agency responsible for the “Canadarm“). He was on a fast promotional tour, with very little spare time. Yet, he took the time to meet with me and film a personal message to the Space Camp participants, instructing them on their “mission.” I was pleasantly surprised that this busy astronaut made time for a group of children in Winnipeg.

Today, Chris Hadfield is a household name. Earlier this week, he returned to Earth after a four month mission as commander of the International Space Station (ISS). During his time in orbit, he amazed and inspired people from around the world.

We watched him discuss life in zeroG, including how to go to the bathroom, clip nails, and try to cry in space.

He answered questions from students through live feeds, sang songs with the Barenaked Ladies in real time, and posted some of the most beautiful images of Earth I’ve ever seen.

One of Chris Hadfield's stunning photos he tweeted from the International Space Station

One of Chris Hadfield’s stunning photos he tweeted from the International Space Station with the caption “The Greek islands, like delicate, shattered eggshell pieces.”

 

One of Commander Hadfield’s great achievements is that he demonstrated, better than anyone I can think of, the power of using interpretive techniques through social media. His videos, photos, and vivid descriptions of life on the ISS brilliantly connected people with space (and Earth), and turned on a whole generation to science. He built strong emotional and intellectual connections, related his messages to his audience, used drama and surprise to provoke us and maintain our interest, and connected everything to the higher messages, or intangibles, of the resource.

As a result, Commander Hadfield skyrocketed to social media superstardom over the last four months.  He currently has over 90,000 subscribers and 11 million views to his YouTube channel and almost one million followers on his Twitter account. In addition, the Canadian Space Agency has been posting most of the videos of Commander Hadfield, with over 25 million views on their channel. In essence, he has shown how to harness the power of social media the way an interpreter would – to connect us, inspire us, and make a difference in the world.

Before returning to Earth this week, he posted one last video – a cover of David Bowie’s “Space Oddity.”  The video has since gone viral, with over 10 million views in just three days. It is a beautiful rendition, but also a fitting summary of his time in space, and a wonderful example of how he used the arts to connect people with science.

This mission to the ISS wasn’t just about station repairs and the numerous scientific experiments performed in zero gravity. This was also about connecting millions of people to the wonders of space and science, and showing the world from a new perspective.

Well done, Commander. Mission accomplished.

What Is Social Media? (A Waste of Time?)

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Early last month, I started a one-hour address to a meeting of state parks managers, as I often do, with a question: What is social media? It’s meant to make people stop and think about this thing that we talk about so much and that seems to pervade most aspects of our lives—but that can be so hard to pin down when it comes to defining it.

This question has yielded a number of responses, many of which are more metaphorical than specific (social media is a party, a donut, a bikini, a platypus, etc.), but always fun to talk about. Other responses are interesting, but perhaps not super helpful (social media is an activity rather than a thing, media is a plural word so the questions should be “What are social media?”, etc.). But this meeting of state parks managers was the first time I was stopped in my tracks by a response. The room filled with oppressive silence, a few polite coughs, and then a gruff voice from the back of the room:

I don't know who said it, but I picture him like this.

I don’t know who said it, but I picture him like looking this. Photo by Leroy Skalstad.

It’s a waste of time.

I was taken aback because I go into these talks wanting to be perfectly clear that I am not a social media evangelist. I recognize that there are positives and negatives to social media, and that our job as interpreters is to make it (or them) work for us—to get our messages out there, to promote awareness of certain resources or issues, to reach beyond the boundaries of our site. But the question of whether we should be doing social media at all is not one that I expect.

My first reaction when someone at an interpretive site tells me that they don’t have a Facebook page (let alone a Twitter handle, Pinterest account, or LinkedIn page) is that they had better get one soon, because if they don’t, someone will do it for them. My second response is that having a Facebook page now is what having a website was a decade ago. If you don’t have one, people wonder why not.

I understand what someone means when they say social media is a waste of time. The potential certainly exists for an afternoon to disappear in a puff of cat videos and debates over the relative merits of a fourth Bourne Identity movie* (such a bad idea). But for an interpretive organization or an interpretive site to discount social media out of hand because it might be used frivolously by some is short sighted. In the July/August 2012 issue of Legacy magazine, Kirk Mona wrote an article called “Embracing Technology,” in which he said, “There is no inherent message on Facebook; users create the content. If voices that support nature are absent, then nature is not part of that dialogue.”

And this gets at the crux of my point. If people with meaningful things to say stay away from social media because they think it’s overrun with cat videos and Bourne Identity debates (again, what were they thinking?), then that’s all that will be there. If interpreters populate the social media landscape with their important messages, then those messages will be there.

I had a second opportunity to speak to a captive audience about social media last month—NAI’s first-ever Social Interpretation workshop, a two-day event in Cave Creek, Arizona, whose participants specifically chose to be there, and in some cases went to great lengths to do so. It was an uplifting experience for me, not only because workshop participants were engaging and enthusiastic about the potential social media offers, but because I got to see saguaro cacti (by far my favorite plant) and the Arizona Diamondbacks were in town and some of us found our way to the ballpark. (Shameless plug: NAI is offering a second Social Interpretation class near Saint Louis, September 23 and 24. Click here for information. I’m told the Cardinals will be in town.)

I think it’s time to stop asking whether interpretive sites should be on social media, and start focusing on how we should be using social media. Yes, it’s possible to waste time online, but our job as interpreters is to provide the opportunities for meaningful engagement.

———

*As a person who has not been to a movie theater in years and who watches everything on Netflix, some of my popular culture references may be a little dated. And that fourth Bourne movie was terrible. I mean, the agents get their skills from a pill? It completely undermines the awesomeness of the first three movies.

The Power of the Community

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A photograph of a space shuttle on the back of a 747 airplane flying over Sacramento

This evening I’m sitting in tranquil California, worried about my friends back east (not to mention tens of millions that I don’t know) who have been affected by Hurricane Sandy, and thinking about the power of social media and the concept of community.

I’m old enough to remember when our society wasn’t quite as fractious as it seems today, and social media has to share some of the blame for that. Social media can isolate us, can lock us into narrowcasting that only reinforces our pre-existing biases, and use up a perfectly good afternoon when we should be working in the orchard…

Or so I’ve heard.

But social media also has a remarkable ability to bring us together when there are clear events or occasions that seem to demand our attention. For instance, about five weeks ago, the shuttle Endeavour flew over Sacramento and in particular did a literal flyover of the California State Railroad Museum, where I work.

Everyone, and I do mean everyone, stopped to witness this. It wasn’t just our facility of course, and the shuttle flew over the State Capitol, San Francisco, a NASA facility in Mountain View, and then arrived in LA where there was an entirely different event involving a two day move to its new home at the California Science Center, but I don’t think that I’ve been part of a truly universal moment like this since, well, I don’t remember.

Since I’m the social media guy for the Railroad Museum, and since I’ve been kind of a space geek since I was genuinely a child, I sort of co-opted our Facebook page for the day and put up an album of Space Shuttle photos.

screenshot of a facebook photo album showing space shuttle endeavour photos.

The CSRM Facebook album showing the Endeavour flyover.

Big deal! But it is kind of a big deal. I have guidelines and missions and responsibilities to focus on railroads and stuff like that, but the occasion and the opportunity was just so profound that it transcended everything else. It was a sense that everyone who witnessed the fly-over, regardless of personal interests, political affiliation or anything else, felt the same sense of national pride, perhaps of some melancholy about the end of the shuttle program, of awe at what humans can create and take the risks of climbing in and going into orbit. It was an extraordinary moment. I was able to vicariously share this by merely posting some photos, but in the process I connected myself and our institution in a different and more compelling way than we normally do. We were essentially all one in this process.

For the past couple of days, I’ve been feeling the same sense of community on a national level concerning our worries, observations and fascination with Hurricane Sandy. As I’ve checked my Facebook and Twitter accounts, I’m seeing far more informative and visually compelling coverage of the hurricane’s effects than I see in my newspaper or through traditional media:

screenshot of a facebook post

Adam Deras on Facebook.

Amtrak post on Facebook

Amtrak update on service interruptions.

Kelly Farrell update on Facebook

Kelly Farrel Facebook update

Twitter screenshot

Twitter screenshot with hurricane information for Philadelphia residents

I could post on and on of course, but you get the idea. To me, at least, the sense of community is remarkable. In addition to Facebook and Twitter, there are of course Tumblr feeds, Pinterest boards, blogs and all kinds of stuff where people are reaching out, both officially and unofficially, to help each other, lend moral support, show love and concern, or just verbalize what they feel. Far from isolating us, social media is helping us come together to share the event.

I’m heartened by this. Frankly, I’m a bit weary of how segmented and inward looking that many people seem to be these days. Perhaps this is just the stress of the upcoming election or other polarizing conditions. Regardless, I’m really impressed.

In 2010, there was a huge earthquake in Japan, with a resulting Tsunami effect that had minor effects here in California, but was much more serious in Hawai’i. It wasn’t that long ago, but a colleague who had friends over there had a heckuva time getting through to her friends and kept finding the same news stories over and over again, which was very frustrating for her. I suspect that today she would be much happier to be facebooking, twittering and IM’ing her friends in a society that’s much better attuned to living in this way.

My concerns about over-reliance on technology and using social media as an excuse to avoid human contact still remain, but for big events like we have going on right now, these tools help unify, inform and comfort us. I’ve got no real slam-bang point for this post, but it just sort of makes me feel a bit better during a time of great stress for myself and many of my friends and colleagues.

And now for the something completely different department:

If you’re frustrated with Facebook and feel that you’re not seeing your friend’s posts as often as you used to, YOU’RE RIGHT! Those weirdos in Menlo Park or Farmville or wherever they exist keep changing how the danged platform works and populates your newsfeed. You don’t get all the posts from all of your friends. It’s a long story, but it’s got something to do with Mark Zuckerberg wanting to make even more money to spend on hoodies and Skittles.

George Takei, one of our patron saints here at Media Platypus world HQ, even complained publicly about this on his Facebook page, and got a response from someone at Facebook because he is the AWESOME George Takei. You can read about it on the All Facebook blog if you’re so inclined, but basically the workaround is to look for the gear icon on your page in the upper right corner, and add the person that you want to hear more from to your “interests” list. Cool! Now it’s even simpler to stalk someone online.

…And I’ll bet that you thought I’d work Halloween into this somehow, huh! Nope. Nada. Sorry about that, but I just forgot to shoot the really cool pumpkin shot that I had in mind for this.

By the way, since I can’t seem to do it for the header photo in the same way I can for the body photos, I want to credit my colleague Robert Mistchenko at the California State Railroad Museum for his classic photograph of the Endeavour that sits at the top of this post.