According to Julie


Leave a comment

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”.

Advertisements


Leave a comment

Moselle: A backpack that fits my life

Moselle backpack from Côte et CielI do not travel light. Leaving the house without water, an umbrella, sunglasses and an extra sweater makes me feel unprepared and vulnerable. My wallet is usually stuffed with receipts, coffee shop loyalty cards and really random mementos (never cash though). I never know when I might need dance shoes. And although I chose my own laptop because it was lightweight, Burson-Marsteller did not take this into consideration when they chose my work computer.

So I tend to lug a lot of stuff around back and forth between the office, dance class and home. Several well-meaning adults have told me I should trade my shoulder-bags and briefcases for a backpack. But backpacks make me feel like a tourist, or a little girl on her way to school or someone who thinks they’re going hiking when really they’re just taking the tram to the office. I see those people every day, with their water-proof jackets and sensible shoes, dressing like their children. We call them “allværsjakker” in Norwegian, those unnaturally colorful, weatherproof tents that some people just wear with everything – and wearing a big backpack feels like a few steps away from joining the allværsjakke-enthusiasts.

I’ve blogged in Norwegian about the allværsjakke style rules

Call me a vain, superficial person, and I will respond that I actually need to look like an adult when I’m so often the youngest person in a meeting. And feeling like an adult on my way to the meeting helps.

Enter Moselle, the backpack my dad got me for Christmas last year, and which I still take to work every day. It is to a standard backpack what my white trench coat is to other people’s “allværsjakker” – the fancy, professional, feminine, French version.

Côte&Ciel / Moselle Backpack / Paris from Côte&Ciel on Vimeo.

This is what I love about it:

– It has room for a laptop (in an inner pocket designed for 11” to 13” computers), my dance shoes, and all the other things I think I might need during the day

– It doesn’t make me look like a hiker or a tourist – although the jury is still out on whether I look like a little girl going to school

– It’s lightweight, small and fits close to my back, so I can turn around on public transportation without hitting someone in the face. Just look at how flat it is when it’s empty:

backpack_moselle_grid_side_final2

– The color goes with everything I own

– The zipper is positioned to be slightly more of a challenge for pick-pockets, compared to most backpacks

– After spraying it with the same protection spray I use on my shoes, it has stayed water-proof for the past seven months – although I plan on respraying after this week’s downpour.

– My dad was really excited about giving it to me, so I think he put a lot of thought into it, and it’s feels good to really, really appreciate a gift

One drawback so far: the zipper is a bit weak.

Moselle is from the French company Côte et Ciel. They make other backpacks and bags that look nice too. They didn’t pay me to write this, and they have no idea I am doing so. I just want to spread the word about something I like – and answer the “Where did you get that?” question once and for all.

I won’t be offended if we match, but you could always get the black version.

Related post: Dressed for anything

Update: Well Dressed Dad appreciates stylish backpacks as well and has plenty of recommendations on his blog. One post mentions Côte et Ciel and includes a photo of the boring backpack look.


Leave a comment

“Racism bad. Eat kale.” – Why Upworthy is noteworthy

Upworthy finds stuff – often, but not always, videos – on the internet, adds a longer-than-standard headline and gets lots and lots and lots of people to look at this stuff.

Here’s their front page today:

screenshot from upworthy.com

There’s something generally annoying about Upworthy. Maybe it’s their incessant nagging demanding that I like their Facebook page or maybe it’s their constant presence in my Facebook feed, whether I like them or not. Maybe it’s the same vague irritation I feel whenever anything becomes super-popular (yeah, there’s some hipster in my personality).

But as a communication geek, I have more reason to like Upworthy than dislike it.

One of Upworthy’s founders is Eli Pariser, the guy who wrote The Filter Bubble. It’s probably a good thing that one of the fastest-growing sites on the internet is founded by someone who thinks Google’s and Facebook’s content filtering algorithms could have scary consequences.

Upworthy’s mission is to “draw massive amounts of attention to the topics that really matter”. It’s hard to hate that. Upworthy uses all the tricks at their disposal to spread content they think is meaningful. They argue that the lowest common denominator when it comes to human beings browsing the internet is not sex, violence or sheer silliness, but “a human craving for righteousness”, to quote this New York Magazine article about the Upworthy team.

The whole NY Mag piece is worth reading, to get a behind-the-scenes view of how the Upworthy team works. In terms of readers, Upworthy is one of the fastest-growing sites in internet history, and more traditional news media are copying Upworthy’s methods for spreading information (from Washington Post’s Upworthy-inspired Know More to tweets that parody Upworthy’s headline style). This supposedly silly video-sharing site is doing what The New York Times says it cannot do right: Researching and testing headlines and other tools for spreading information, so that stories reach the biggest possible audience.

When I worked as a front page editor, I followed the principle that “Readers don’t mind being tricked into reading something worth their time.” If the actual story was good, I could break out every trick in the book (read: not at all written in any book I had access to. It’s not like there was a journalism school syllabus for online front page editing). At a business newssite, that could mean pictures of pretty women or furry animals (bear market = cute grizzly bear). But basically, the more in-depth and well-researched the story, the more tabloid I could go on the front page. I used tabloid as a verb, as in “tabloidizing” important facts and stories.

Upworthy follows this same principle. They’re using different – newer – ways of tabloidizing to spread messages they believe make the world a better place.

Here’s one of the most interesting paragraphs from the NY Mag article:

One curator shares the tip of trying to express the core point of the content in four words. Mordecai gives it a shot: “Racism bad. Eat kale.” Then he lets everyone in on his newest data discovery, which is that descriptive headlines—ones that tell you exactly what the content is—are starting to win out over Upworthy’s signature “curiosity gap” headlines, which tease you by withholding details. (“She Has a Horrifying Story to Tell. Except It Isn’t Actually True. Except It Actually Is True.”) How then, someone asks, have they been getting away with teasing headlines for so long? “Because people weren’t used to it,” says Mordecai. “Now everybody does it, and they do cartoon versions of ours.”

 

Today’s Upworthy front page shows that the headlines are adapting to this new discovery. On the surface, Upworthy seems to break most of the established headline-writing rules, but that’s mainly because their headlines are so long. They’re still doing what headlines are supposed to do: tell the reader why they should click on the link.

I’ll be following what Upworthy does going forward, to see how the new social media version of tabloidization develops.


Leave a comment

Links according to Julie

illustration photo of laptop and cocktail

I’ve been offline a lot in July, but here is some recommended reading:

“I was seven when I discovered that you were fat, ugly and horrible.” I wanted to blog about this open letter from Kasey Edwards to her mother who called herself fat. But it all felt too personal and weird, so just read Edwards’ writing instead. And then maybe read this other blog post I wrote about when our bodies make us feel fat, ugly and horrible.

16 exclusive perks of being a teenager around the mid-2000s This post made me think about how my media habits have been shaped by having experienced the evolution of social media.

Do you see blue I the way I do? This is the qualia problem, explained in cartoon form in Rookie.

The rich have less leisure time than the poor. This article in The Economist was part of what made me commit to getting more sleep.

This interview with a couple who have been long-distance for 3,5 years really put my own ten months of LDR into perspective. I also just found a recently-started blog chronicling a long-distance relationship. I love the blog title “Dancing long distance.”

Yes, you can even. The internet is changing our language.

The image in this post is from picjumbo, where you can get free high-res photos that you can use for your blog, presentation, website etc. Thanks, Viktor!


2 Comments

We should all just go to sleep

Around 3:30 AM on a Sman sleeping at desk with giant cup of black coffeeunday night, I was sitting in a hotel room in Poland, winding down after dancing, reading an article that was telling me I should have left the dance floor hours ago. In the Danish newspaper Berlingske, Chris Macdonald’s article Den store løgn om søvn (The great lie about sleep) listed the effects of sleep deprivation: weak immune system, over-dependence on caffeine, high blood pressure, weight gain, and unhappiness. “The brain and pretty much all of the body’s biological processes suffer when you are sleep-deprived.”*

I was reading this at the worst possible time, towards the end of a long weekend of dancing all night and then dancing all day. But it was the conclusion that really stuck with me:

It took us a long time to start taking the dangers of cigarettes seriously. The same thing is happening with sleep today.*

I’m not the only one who is tired all the time. No one sleeps enough, and no one is taking it seriously.

Some of my co-workers seem to work around the clock. My parents don’t have any pattern to their sleep habits at all, as far as I can tell. And then there are my dance friends. Our lifestyle just doesn’t allow for sleep.

One of the big threats to my sleep is West Coast Swing. At West Coast Swing weekend events, people complain if the evening dance parties end before breakfast is served. You’re supposed to attend workshops during the day, compete in the afternoon, dance and party from evening until breakfast, then take a nap before your next workshop.  If I want to leave the dance floor “early” (like I had left at 3 that Sunday night), or nap instead of taking a dance class, I hear “You can sleep when you’re dead.” or “You’re here to dance, not sleep.” But I can’t enter a voluntary coma when I return from dance weekends, so I have to sleep at some point during the weekend.

Back in Oslo, it’s hard to consistently go to bed early when I’m teaching or practicing until ten pm three times a week. And I tend to feel more alert in the evening, which makes my sleep schedule look a lot like this:

Sleep schedule - tired all day, waking up at night

My combination of consulting work and late night dancing is pretty much a recipe for sleep deprivation. But I’ve certainly experienced worse – when I combined late-night dancing and starting work at 6AM.

The thing is, it’s not just me. There is this widespread idea that rest is for the weak. Rich people now have less leisure time than poor people. Although that statistic is made up of a lot of different factors (including involuntary under-employment), one important reason is that the most high-status, highly paid jobs are considered more interesting than free time. Even when we are not paid overtime, we would rather work too much than not work enough. Leisure is associated with boredom and uselessness.

But we need to appear boring and useless from the outside in order to let our bodies be productive on the inside.

So last week, when I found myself sitting in a circle of teenagers,talking about our current life goals (long story), I listed one of my own goals as “getting more sleep”. And although the teenagers probably thought I was joking, I consider that casual statement – and this post – as my official commitment to getting more sleep. Just because I can function on six hours a night, doesn’t mean I should. I  deserve to be more alert, creative and happy, and less dark under my eyes.

I am going to follow the advice of this t-shirt:

T-shirt with writing "I have so much to do that I'm going to bed"

In case I need any more motivation to just go to bed, I will reread this horrifying Huffington Post story.

*My translation from the original Danish.

Image sources: Gadgetsin.com (apparently you can buy that giant coffee mug), The Meta Picture, Skreened (you can buy the t-shirt too).


Leave a comment

Gjesteblogger hos NRK Beta

Jeg gjesteblogger hos NRK Beta!

Les innlegget  her: Hvordan du kan ha en smarttelefon og likevel være en hyggelig person

Innlegget handler om folkeskikk for folk med smarttelefon. Så gi meg gjerne beskjed – i NRKs kommentarfelt, her på bloggen, på Twitter, Facebook eller i “virkeligheten” –  om hva du synes om levereglene jeg foreslår.

Dette gjør meg selvfølgelig kjempeglad, men litt starstruck. Jeg har vært fan av NRK Beta lenge,  og det har jeg også blogget om.

Hvis du kom hit fordi du likte NRK Beta-posten, bør du også lese disse: