Sunday, December 2, 2007

How to Block Facebook Beacon using Mozilla Firefox

Last week our class discussed the privacy concerns surrounding Facebook Beacon, which was launched November 6th.

Here's a link from WikiHow on how to use Firefox to completely disable Beacon.

Eventually, like the News Feed, Facebook is going to come up with their own way to permenantly opt-out (or how about even an option to opt-in??). In the meantime, Firefox users can make sure their data isn't being mined and sent out using BlockSite.

Has anyone tried this? Let me know how it went for you!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Talented Communications Student Seeks to Use Social Media and Technological Skills in her New Career


Megan Garza
St. Edward's University
Communications Student
Email: meganlgarza [at] gmail [dot] com

Talented Communications Student Seeks to Use Social Media and Technological Skills in her New Career

Joining a successful technology organization is anticipated after upcoming college graduation.

Austin, TX -- November 29, 2007

  • Megan LeeAnne Garza - graduating with a Bachelor's of Arts in Communication from St. Edward's University in Austin, TX on December 15, 2007 - seeks a challenging career that will merge her interest in communication and technology.

  • Megan plans to utilize her talents in presentational speaking, writing, customer service, and proficient computer knowledge in an online marketing position.

  • She is often described by co-workers and supervisors as a self-starter who is patient, diligent, organized who thrives in a fast-paced work environment.

  • Computer Skills include proficiency in: PC and Mac use, Microsoft Office, Windows Vista OS, Audacity, Adobe Dreamweaver and Photoshop. She also has blogging experience and is social media literate.

  • Megan is "Web Essentials" Certified by St. Edward's University, which includes classes in HTML, CSS, graphics and web accessibility. She also created a web site to be graded for certification in Summer 2007.

  • Since August 2004, Megan has worked at the St. Edward's University IT Helpdesk, where she assists students, faculty and staff in-person and via telephone to analyze computer troubleshooting issues (internet connectivity, software support, virus/spyware issues). As a senior student worker, she is also responsible for training new employees.

  • In Fall 2007, Megan was granted a Marketing internship at the Austin-based non-profit Knowbility, Inc. Duties included contacting donators, non-profits and affiliated companies via email, making calls to media outlets, writing articles for Knowbility's newsletter, photography and photo-editing, proofreading grant proposals and outgoing emails, and working all events.

  • Honors and Awards include: Dean's List since Fall 2004, St. Edward's Trustee's Scholarship, two-time winner of the Dean's Scholarship, and being featured in a 2-page spread of St. Edward's University Viewbook, a booklet mailed to prospective freshmen about her work experience in IT (nominated for the article by her supervisor) in Summer 2006.



Feedback written by Megan's Helpdesk Customers:

  • "Megan [was] very helpful and knowledgeable. The time frame was very quick. Going with out a computer is hard, so its good to have it back! Thank you for your help!" - a student, 2007

  • "Megan was great in assisting in the matter. You at IT have a great dedicated worker and willing to help someone like me that is limited to computer knowledge. Thanks Megan." - a staff member, 2007

  • "Hats off to the Help Desk once again! You all are great to help work through to the resolution of a problem. Even when the first call didn't succeed with what we were trying to do, subsequent calls were able to find a workable solution. A+++++ for effort, determination, and helpfulness. Thanks so much! :)" - a staff member, 2007

About Megan:

Megan LeeAnne Garza has attended St. Edward's University for 3 1/2 years pursuing a Bachelor's degree in Communication at St. Edward's University in Austin, TX. Before attending St. Edward's, she attended Communications Arts High School in San Antonio, TX where she won the Faculty Scholarship and was named "Best Senior Communicator" in 2004 by the CAHS faculty. When she's not catching up on her RSS feeds, Megan enjoys reading, drawing (she recently illustrated a storybook for a friend's wedding proposal) and making homemade organic bath products for her friends and family. She lives in Austin, TX with her puppy.


Media Maven: The Social Media PR Blog

Megan's blog for her "Internet and Social Media for PR" class

Megan's Technorati Profile

Megan's LinkedIn Profile

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Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Blogging like a Human in a crowded 'sphere

So you're ready to shake up the social medias. You're ready to have some authentic conversations. You dream of becoming a Technorati star, an influencer.

But how will you separate yourself as a blogger from the rest of the sphere? Why read you and not one of the other kazillion blogs out there?

In the end, it comes down to substance of course, but just as equally... s t y l e. How you write is probably what will distinguish you immediately from the pack, especially when you're discussing topics a lot of people are covering. This gets back to the Cluetrain we were just talking about: sounding like a thinking human, not like an echo.

Here are ProBlogger's 5 tips to help you stand out. Some good advice there - I especially like #5.

Building on those, here's my suggestions from a person who follows a variety of blogs spanning various topics:

  1. Have a sense of humor. I think even a formal blog could do with a little humor. To me, humor is also memorable, which will make me remember you/your post.
  2. Brevity. I'd rather write a shorter, more concise post (depending on the topic) than a dissertation. Unless I'm really interested in the topic of the post I'm more likely to skim a longer-than-your-usual post.
  3. Break it up. I love lists. When it comes to blogs, I like short paragraphs because breaking down the text makes it easier to digest. A big block of text is a turn-off - my eyes don't like it and I'm much more likely to lose interest faster.
  4. Pictures with Purpose. Pictures rule, but only if it actually has something to do with what you're talking about. Pictures are a great way to grab attention, break up the flow of text and visually demonstrate an idea. However, pictures are annoying when 1) there are too many in a post and I have to keep scrolling past them and 2) they are random stock photos that don't really add anything to my understanding of your topic. If you don't often have pictures, try popping one in when applicable, but don't feel pressured to spam your posts with unimportant pics.
  5. Bold is Beautiful. I like when bloggers do this, but like any suggestion, it can be abused and misused. I like the idea of bolding your key ideas/main idea. Think in this way: "if the reader only looks at my post for 5 seconds - what do they absolutely need to read?" But bold with caution, don't go crazy. Perhaps even try color, but that can be misleading because people might think it's a link.

What annoys you about the way bloggers write/format posts? What do you really like that you try to emulate?

Friday, November 23, 2007

Cluetrain's 95 Theses Response

Not long after the Internet begins to go mainstream, the writers of the Cluetrain Manifesto post their 95 Theses in 1999 about how information and communication accessible to anyone with an internet connection will change the future of how people and companies interact. 8 years later, we can we still learn something by getting back to basics.

2. Markets consist of human beings, not demographic sectors.

3. Conversations among human beings sound human. They are conducted in a human voice.
22. Getting a sense of humor does not mean putting some jokes on the corporate web site. Rather, it requires big values, a little humility, straight talk, and a genuine point of view.

I think this is the crux of what web 2.0 should mean for PR and marketing professionals. No matter how you're trying to engage with customers, sounding like an actual person counts for a lot. Aren't blogs more interesting when the writer is easy to understand with a bit of humor and personality? In practice, it might be more advisable to have a group of employees blogging rather than a CEO - multiple, down-to-earth voices are going to be more interesting and provide more frequently-updated content.

As a result, markets are getting smarter, more informed, more organized. Participation in a networked market changes people fundamentally.

This is something I've learned particularly from this class - once you start particpating in discussions, reading blogs and listening to podcasts, it's hard to stop! Suddenly the Internet becomes more than Google and Facebook and it becomes a way to learn, stay on top of your industry and your interests and even get involved.

39. The community of discourse is the market.

This reflects the idea about how non-CEO company bloggers may be a better solution because they'll get updates posted more timely and frequently. I'd rather read a blog that's contributed to by multiple employees for this reason - unless your CEO is really good about posting in a reliable time-frame. What could be worse than a CEO blog only updated rarely and randomly? Most would say they shouldn't even bother.

40. As with networked markets, people are also talking to each other directly inside the company—and not just about rules and regulations, boardroom directives, bottom lines.

Again, what a great resource employees can be- they are knowledgeable about their company and industry, and those who can write will come off more humane and real should they become bloggers or podcasters. Employees have ideas and recommendations, and they need to be tuned into.

64. We want access to your corporate information, to your plans and strategies, your best thinking, your genuine knowledge. We will not settle for the 4-color brochure, for web sites chock-a-block with eye candy but lacking any substance.

If I'm going to read a company blog, it should be a bit more substantial than posts of press releases. Let's talk about hot topics, innovations, events, etc. Ever seen an amazing website with sparse content? What's the point of dazzling me with your website if it isn't substantial? That's the key to the Cluetrain, I think: say something, and make it substantial.

We are immune to advertising. Just forget it.

This one I don't know about. Advertising still fascinates us - especially when it's memorable, like being unique or really funny. How often have I gone into dorms and seen the student's favorite magazine ads, movie posters, etc used as decor? I don't think we're immune completely, but rather extremely tolerant to what's been done to death. For advertising to work, it's going to need to be innovative to grab our attention.

You want us to pay? We want you to pay attention.

Cluetrain in a nutshell. I'm not going to invest in some expensive product if I don't respect the company that made it. Dell is a good example of a company trying to turn their image around. Apple learned how to turn a new, greener leaf. They listened: the company is better for it and their customers made a difference using the internet as their vehicle for change.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The Future of Blogging: Market your Blog

There's been discussion of my fellow classmates looking to take what they've learned from this social media/internet for PR class and using it after the semester ends by launching their own blogs. I sincerely hope that there are some great new blogs coming out of this class as we pair our interests with our new web 2.0-ness. Today, I'd like to offer a great page of resources from ProBlogger that lists all of the great articles that resulted from their "31 Days to Building a Better Blog" project.

This page, and ProBlogger in general, is a great one-stop shop for blogging resources - especially for those interested in gaining more readers and publicity for your blog (and who isn't?).

If you think you'd like to take this a step further and turn blogging into a job, then check out ProBlogger's Job Board, which lists companies who are looking for bloggers to write about a specific topic or industry.

Who out there is starting their own blog after this semester? I know Aisa is.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Web Video Class Project: Religious Tolerance

For our final group project of the semester, each group had to make a video about a social issue they were passionate about. We used Flickr images to make a video collage about religious tolerance by showing different religions' takes on "the golden rule". Even though each religion practices differently - the message of respect is the same.

The song is "Wisdom" by Delerium.

Religions in order of appearance: Judaism, Hinduism, Sikhism, Native American Spirituality, Islam, Wicca, and Christianity.

Monday, November 12, 2007

And speaking of getting caught by your "social" life...

Check out this article from Valleywag about an intern who said he had a "family emergency" but then submits his Halloween party pics on Facebook from the night he was supposed to work.

This article features his original email, the reply, then the office-wide email sent with his lovely Halloween picture.