According to Julie

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Social media is all about digital culture

the web is not about the tools or the technology. It is about the culture,

Image and quote from Tara Hunt

As a communication consultant, I get a lot of questions about the technical side of social media. But I rarely meet clients who want to learn about digital culture. (I really appreciate the clients who do, as well as my colleagues who discuss this kind of stuff with me.)

The interesting debates about digital media have always (to me that is) been about the impact of technological changes on our culture. Does Facebook change our criteria for “knowing someone”, blur the boundaries between acquaintances and friends, turn people you met randomly once into real connections? How do Google and Wikipedia fit into the way we teach students how to research something? Does the rise of Instagram, Snapchat and Vine indicate that we are generally communicating more visually than before? Too often, questions like this are ignored in favor of discussions about how to use specific features of Facebook or Twitter to get the maximum number of eyeballs pointed at a certain product.

Tara Hunt has written a blog post I want to put on everyone’s required reading list. It’s not a complaint about “marketers don’t understand my geeky online sub-culture”, but a good explanation of what makes the internet special and how companies should adapt to this. Trying to appeal to “the mass” is less important compared to finding a niche. Listen about three time as much as you talk. Brands have better options these days than “interrupting the socializing for their commercial breaks”.

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Where do all the girl geeks go?

Do we need more pink nail polish in tech newsrooms?

“Girls study tech and media, but they don’t become tech journalists. Where do the girls go?”

I’ve heard variations of this question hundreds of times. This time it was at a Girl Geek Dinner, where we discussed the lack of female journalists who specialize in technology. The question came from Beathe Due, dean of computer science at the University of Østfold, a school that actually offers a bachelor program in digital media production. There are plenty of girls at this program, and other tech-related educations around Norway – and the world. And girls outnumber guys at journalism school and in social media.

So why don’t more of these girls become tech journalists? Where do they go?

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I guess I’m a social media expert

vintage social media

I am reluctantly accepting my fate as a social media expert.

Don’t worry, I’m not going to call myself a guru in my Twitter bio or anything, but I’ve stopped rolling my eyes when people introduce me as their expert source on Facebook or Instagram (“Have you seen my Instagram?” I shudder, but I keep it to myself). At first, being introduced as a social media expert made me feel like my boss had just said:

“This is Julie. She likes wearing clothes in her spare time, so we made her our stylist.”

Then I realized that I have actually gained some experience over the past decade or so, even if my Masters degree is in Economic History, not Digital Future.

Or to continue the metaphor, most people are more naked than I thought.

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Come back soon! I’m writing.

I’ve been spending some time drinking from this cup lately. My job sometimes involves writing about how I think other people should use the internet. And since that’s also what I do on this blog, I often find myself coming home from work and wanting to dance, watch television or even jog (!) rather than write anything.

But things will calm down soon, and then I can tell you how simultaneously ridiculous and perfect it is that I work as a “social media expert”. And also how I did in fact learn to enjoy jogging. 

In the meantime, enjoy one of these blasts from the past:

Or just read Middlesex, because it’s a great book.

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Why I don’t give personal social media advice

sosial-media-nail-art (2)

Image source

An important part of my PR job is giving social media advice to Burson-Marsteller’s clients. So you might expect me to be able to give social media advice to my own friends. Seems fair. But I am not qualified to deal with your personal online issues.

Here’s why:

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Think about why you started

why I started

“When you feel like quitting, think about why you started.” I’ve been thinking a lot about why I started lately, especially when it comes to dancing. I’ve been feeling like there are things I should be able to do within dancing that I can’t do, both in terms of specific moves and techniques and in terms of time and money investments.  When people talk about competitions and international events, I don’t get excited. I just start thinking about how tired I will be, and whether I will have to take time off work.

But this weekend I had some really good social dances. After a particularly crazy sequence of spins and dips and ducks, in the midst of an adrenaline rush, I thought: I started dancing so I could feel like this on a regular basis. All the technical training, the private lessons, the sleep deprivation and the tired feet are just means to this end.

I started dancing to have fun on the social dance floor. I dance to be able to follow anyone, and have fun with any leader. I dance so that when advanced leaders ask me for a dance, they can have fun too.

I didn’t start dancing to compete. I didn’t start dancing to gain any sort of fame or any recognition other than smiles from my leaders. I didn’t even start dancing to teach – although I like to think I am improving my social dance experiences by developing good habits with my students.

This way of thinking works for other parts of my life too:

I started working in PR to make communication my job. I started because it would mean being paid to write. I work in PR because I believe most problems can be alleviated – if not solved – through communication.

I didn’t go into PR for money, fame or a glamorous lifestyle. I didn’t start my job because I thought it would be easy. I started because I thought I would be good at it.

I started blogging to write. I blog because my blog is a place to store my thoughts, so they are not bouncing around in my head and getting mixed up. I blog to get things out of my system. I blog to organize my thoughts – whether they are about content filtering algorithms or pop songs accused of “rapeyness”. I started blogging to practice writing something that might be read by someone other than myself or my school teachers.

I didn’t start blogging to gain lots of readers or to fit into a certain niche or to prove anything to anyone. I started blogging to practice writing with readers, but I don’t write for my readers – (sorry, everyone) – I write for me.

And I dance for me – and for my current dance partner. Even though it isn’t New Year’s I will consider this post an official resolution.

If you liked this random piece of motivational life advice, you might like this post too: Six months left


Image source: Popsugar Fitness, via Pinterest


I want to personalize my own online experience

girl geek dinners oslo

I just got back from a Girl Geek Dinner here in Oslo. As always after these events, my brain is full of ideas and thoughts about the internet, and my phone has been low on battery for a while. So after discussing Klout, Fanbooster, and statistics in social media for a few hours, I rushed home to my laptop to write a blog post/note of some of the thoughts that were going through my head. Here goes:

One of our discussions was about content filtering algorithms – like Facebook’s system for choosing what shows up in your news feed or Google’s algorithm for search results. On the one hand, these algorithms are tools to help us deal with the impossible amounts of info that our friends, ex-classmates and brands we once liked throw at us on a daily basis. On the other hand, they might trap us in a filter bubble, where we only see views we already agree with and only interact with people who are like us.

Some discussions, including to a certain extent the one the Girl Geeks (with a few Guy Guests) just had, make these two factors seem like a complete either/or dichotomy: an unfiltered stream of all information or a carefully curated selection. To me the ideal is fairly simple: I want a filtered internet, but I want to filter it myself.

I love being able to use digital media to filter the world, to view it the way I want to. I want to get recommendations from Twitter users I follow, bloggers I read, Facebook friends, even mass e-mails from my co-workers. I love that I can get my own mix of views on the world from sources I enjoy and trust, and that I have more options than one news network. 

Tools that let me filter my own content are great, and I wish there were more of them in online news sources. I would love to be able to check a little box that said “No sports news please” and another one that said “I don’t know who reality stars are, so I won’t click on stories about their sex lives no matter how hard you try.”

The difference between these options and algorithms is that the first are options. There is a huge difference between “You told us you like this, so we’re giving you more of it” and “For reasons we will never tell you, you will never see this content”.

Facebook doesn't care

Compared to pre-internet information segmentation, algorithm-based filtering is becoming both more invisible, harder to break out of and more difficult for actual word-reading, picture-viewing, link-clicking people to understand.

Many people decide for themselves that they have no interest in political views different from their own. But when they search the internet, and don’t see any of these offensive views, they should know why. It should be because they decided to filter something out of their lives, not because a company tricked them into thinking that something doesn’t exist.

Related posts:

Facebook illustration by Sean MacEntree, Creative Commons

If Girl Geek Dinners sounds interesting to you, see if there are events or other ways to get involved with this network in your area. If your area is Oslo, here’s the local network website – and you can join our Twitter discussions with #GGDO

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Links according to Julie

Words are the most powerful thing on the web


Justin Jackson wrote those words. He is right, and you should read the whole thing. I work in the field of communications/PR because I want to work with words. I work with digital media because the internet is a great way to distribute words to lots of people.

So have a great month of July. Here’s a collection of good online reads from the month of June:


Thomas Beller in The New Yorker: The ongoing story: Twitter and writing

It used to be a radical cri de coeur to claim, “We live in public.” Like many mantras of the cyber-nineties, this turns out to be mostly true, but misses an even larger truth: more and more, we think in public.


Mr. London Street: Four pints

A theologian, an environmental engineer, a sports physiotherapist and a lawyer walk into a bar: it sounded like the start of a joke. Maybe in a way it was: a joke about how we all spend three years studying these things and then go and get jobs which bear no relation to them.


Graeme Wood in NYMag: Scrubbed

Metal Rabbit Media, he said, was a boutique shop for the online reputations of very wealthy people. He worked by mining the client’s history of publication and philanthropy, then pumping up the volume to drown out all else. Basic service costs $10,000 a month, Tom said, which could make Phin’s total bill, running from the first website in December 2010, nearly $300,000.


Anna Latimer in XOJane: In defense of being a pretentious little shit

My 29-year-old friend Rose, an Oxford graduate, wrote to me of how she sometimes tears up thinking of the passionate writer she used to be. “Maybe what I would write now is better for being more self conscious and tempered and aware of others. But I think there’s definitely something sad about the loss of that intensity and passion.”


Latine Fatale: How to talk to little girls

Not once did we discuss clothes or hair or bodies or who was pretty. It’s surprising how hard it is to stay away from those topics with little girls, but I’m stubborn.


Mat Honan in Wired: Inside Digg Reader’s race to build the new Google Reader

In fact, it could be a perfect fit with the rest of the Betaworks puzzle–Chartbeat could point out stories that are being read all the way through; could give insight into what people are linking to; and Instapaper could even show which stories people may want to read but don’t have time to, right now. Its own reader would give Betaworks a way bigger piece of the fast. But the only sure way to grab that fast was to tie its fate to the exodus of passionate Google Reader fans.

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What I learned at work this week: I might be a robot

If you spend an hour or so systematically googling things you have never shown any online interest in before, Google will make you prove you are not a robot. I learned that when I went through 50 or so blogs of the kind I rarely read myself, googling the same two phrases within each site – for like two hours. Suddenly I had to type in one of those prove-you-are-human codes because of my “unusual search patterns”.

I have mad google skills

Image source: someecards

Related post: Knitting sushi and googling