Tag Archives: Social Media

The Worst Side of Aggregation: Thoughts on Google

As part of our module on Aggregation, I find myself pondering Google’s dominance as a search engine and Web 2.0 service provider. While the company claims to “do no evil,” it seems that Google has outgrown its the slogan. While they aren’t on par with Hitler or Stalin, that doesn’t mean that they only do good–far from it.

Google amasses massive amounts of data via its search engine, browser, email service, Picasa, Google Docs, Google Maps, Google+ and Google Scholar for sale to advertisers.Television, newspapers, radio also make their money from advertisement. Yet only a few Nielsen families who’ve agreed to supply data on their behavior are needed to keep these older media in business. Even if you don’t set up a Google account, Google profits from your search behavior. Is there any harm in this? Well, that depends on how much you value privacy and whether you feel entitled to good customer service in this business relationship.

Let me state upfront that I’m no fan of Google after a hacking I experienced a few years ago. I try as best I can to use none of their services.

If you have a customer service issue with the corporation, I’ve found it impossible to get help or information. Given Google’s size, the media’s coverage of its fun workplace, its slogan to “do no evil” and its desire to provide more services as time goes on, one would expect a customer service staff that’s responsive to consumers’ needs. When my account was hacked into, they closed off my accounts, try as I might I could not reopen them. Both Facebook and Yahoo responded within hours to my emails and Yahoo had a representative call me in response to a letter. Google did not respond to letters or emails. Unless you have an employee’s direct line, a call won’t be accepted.

Some have argued that more regulation is needed. Governments regulate utilities because they’re necessary to our lives and they have little competition. Perhaps Google and Facebook need to be considered utilities. People do need information in the information age, almost as much as we need water and power. I’m all for more regulation because Google has not cooperated by changing its policies when governments and individuals have stood up for their privacy rights.

The results of a drawn out legal battle came out this week and Google’s been required to pay 38 states $7 million dollars in a legal settlement. Furthermore, they must develop a campaign training employees in privacy protection and they must destroy the data they collected. Seven million seems like a pittance and hardly a deterrent. Google has yet to delete data it promised German courts it would delete two years ago. Yet it is a win, however small, for those who value privacy.

What concerns me with this issue is not just Google’s overreach and the relatively small settlement, but how journalists fail to tell the whole story. It seems too many reporters are still enthralled with Google’s Wonderboys, Sergy Brin and Larry Page. According to the Columbia Journalism Review, most news outlets reported the story in terms that favorably depict Google. and others report that the fault lay with a “rogue engineer.” However testimony shows that the engineer, Marius Milner, informed colleagues at Google that he was writing code that would collect this data and Google was uncooperative in providing evidence to the Federal Communications Commission. Google’s behavior in this case and in the legal disputes in Europe show me that they do have too much power and should be reined in.


Chittam, R. Poor coverage of Google’s Street View scandal settlement. Columbia Journalism Review. March 15, 2013. Retrieved March 23, 2013.

Newton, C. Google reaches $7 million settlement with states over Street View case. CNET. March 12, 2013. Retrieved March 23, 2013.

Further reading

  • James Farrows of The Atlantic explains why he won’t adopt Google’s new Keep feature. Google has a record for dropping services that lack mass appeal. Google, heed the Lucas Critique. You’re training people to avoid your new products.
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Posted by on May 18, 2013 in Library and Information Science


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Literature Review for Final Paper

For my class Social Media for Information Science Professionals, I had to work on a group project. This group consisted of bright, hard working professionals and we developed a strategy for a hypothetical technology museum dedicated to Steve Jobs and Innovation.

Here’s my bit:

Prior to the 1970s, museums focused on the collection, upkeep and recording of items in their collections. Barbara Franco, former director of The Historical Society of Washington, quipped that museums were in the “salvage and warehouse” business (Weil, 1999). During the 1970s a paradigm shift occurred and museums began to see their mission as directed towards people. While museums in the 19th and early 20th were satisfied with a relatively small number of visitors from an elite class, now they have a broader mission and strive to draw visitors from all ethnicities, and income levels (Weil, 1999). Consequently, museums are now in the business of education, conversation, collaboration and sharing as well as collecting, organizing and preserving (Proctor, 2010). Early attempts to better reach the public took the form of devising entertaining ways to showcase the collection (Watkins and Russo, 2007). Social media allow museum staff to communicate beyond the walls of the museum reaching people who may never visit, but who may want to engage with the museum staff, collection or people sharing an interest in the museum.

Social Media and the New Museum Paradigm

Whereas in the past museum staff worked behind closed doors with little interaction with visitors, social media allows for immediate communication that can build the democratic relationship museums now seek (Bailey, 2009). When used effectively, social media provide an ideal means of connecting with the public in a meaningful way as to promote and hold exhibits (Bailey, 2009) or solicit donations.

All museums must realize that even if they reject social media, their users haven’t (Proctor, 2010). Visitors record and discuss their museum experiences in blogs, on Facebook, Twitter and other social media. For example, the Flickr Group “At the Museum” has almost 3000 members and over 87,000 photos (Flickr, 2013). To balance a museum’s duties to its public with its duty to its collection, Nancy Proctor explains that “museums need to reconcile the apparently contradictory views of democratizing control and preserving and valuing expertise” (2010). In the era of Web 2.0 Lynda Kelly believes museums need to:

“share authority, take risks, give staff and communities permission to experiment and play . . . encourage connections and networks both internally and externally, provide scaffolding and support that others can work from . . . allowing third parties to access their material and see what eventuates, acknowledge that a healthy community will self-monitor and self-correct take their place as the subject matter experts, while also drawing on the power of their collective communities” (2010).

Data on Museums’ Use of Social Media

In a recent online survey of 315 American museums using social media, Adrienne Fletcher and J. Lee Moon learned that 94% of surveyed museums used Facebook, 70% use Twitter, 56% use YouTube and 49% use Flickr (2012). While 60% of the respondents use social media to list events and post reminders, many museums use social media for online promotions, to reach out to a larger audience, or for conversation with stakeholders (Fletcher and Moon, 2012). Chris Alexander’s team of researchers examined the YouTube use of five museums and found that all five museums reported that You Tube videos “have helped introduce new audiences to their museum, have helped [their] core audiences get a closer connection to programs and services, and have helped to explain a difficult topic/concept/artist in a way that other resources couldn’t” (2008).

Effective Use of Social Media

Since social media is analogous to a cocktail party, users don’t want to be ill-mannered guests who simple tries to sell, sell, sell (Bailey, 2009). Sophisticated social media users ask questions, amuse, educate and enlighten those they communicate with. (Bailey, 2009). As social media is casual and somewhat intimate, institutions that simply post press releases and event listings, “just don’t get it” (Kidd, 2011). Nina Simon illustrates the kinds of interaction in a hierarchy she developed for museums’ social media use.

Source: N. Simon, Museum 2.0

As the pyramid grows steeper, the interaction between the museum and its users gets more interactive, more democratic; control is shared In the best cases, a museum reaches “the holy grail of social discourse, where people interact directly with each other around content” (Simon, 2007). Effective social media use should ideally capitalize on the strengths of each platform. Examples of successful social media implementation include Tweetups, events for users who promise to document their visit (Preston, 2011), changing rules regarding photography, and allowing visitors to upload their videos on the museum’s YouTube channel and website (Kidd, 2011).

Ethics of Social Media in Museums

In using social media, a museum staff must consider ethical questions concerning accountability, censorship, and transparency. For example, how can museums, such as the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, reconcile the ideal of free speech with its mission to honor and memorialize a people? (Wong, 2011). The often casual tone characterizing much social media is at odds with the seriousness required of some exhibits. Some museums note the friendly nature of microblogs and their personnel use their own names on Twitter. Although Wong was assigned to tweet or the U.S. Holocaust Museum, she was not hired to be its spokesperson. Consequently, the museum decided not to allow her to tweet under her own name (2011). Each museum needs to consider their reputation, audience and responsibilities in creating and implementing a policy of social media ethics (Wong, 2011).

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Posted by on April 18, 2013 in book lovers, Library and Information Science


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Ted Talk on Social Media in China

Yang, the Chinese Oprah, summarizes how Chinese use social media while outlining the hot topics in its society.

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Posted by on March 10, 2013 in Practical, Theory


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The Tao of Twitter

tao-of-twitterI’m not a big Twitter user, but since a few friends signed up, I did too. I didn’t use it much until I saw a TED talk extolling the unintended virtues of this service. When I realized I could follow politicians and tweet about their performance, policies and speeches as I heard about them, I figured that someone’s tallying up the yeas and nays and this seems a more convenient way to voice my concerns.

Still I don’t tweet daily and I can go a month without checking my account, but that’s fine. Infrequent use doesn’t mean a service or product isn’t useful. I don’t wear hiking boots every day, but I wouldn’t throw mine out since they fill a gap. Also, I think information professionals need to understand and use all popular social media to reach all patrons.

I am curious about Twitter and how organizations can use it effectively. Thus Mark Schaefer’s The Tao of Twitter: Changing Your Life and Business 140 Characters at a Time caught my eye.

After just a few chapters, Schaefer’s book has been helpful. He begins by describing how one of his twitter exchanges led to a networking relationship which resulted in career advice and new video equipment for his mentee, new business for a a former colleague and lots of valuable knowledge for himself. He’s used Twitter to invite people into his web brainstorming sessions, which have resulted in eliciting effective ideas quickly and inexpensively. His tweets have led people to his blog, where he shares his thinking on marketing, his field. In turn the blog has led clients to him. They like his thinking and establish a rapport and when they have work he can do, they’ve called him.

Schaefer boils the “Tao of Twitter” down to three elements:

  • Targeted contacts
  • Meaningful messages and
  • Authentic helpfulness.

Since I use Facebook more than I tweet, I wasn’t aware of the strengths of Twitter. Schaefer points out that:

  • Twitter users are the most influential online consumers–more than 70 percent publish blog posts at least once a month, 70 comment on blogs, 61 percent write at least one product review monthly and 61 percent comment on news sites.
  • Daily Twitter users are six times more likely to publish articles.
  • Five times more likely to post blogs, seven times more likely to post product reviews at least monthly, compared to non-Twitter users.
  • 11 percent of online consumers read Twitter updates, but do not have a Twitter account themselves!
  • 20 percent of consumers indicate that they have followed a brand on Twitter in order to interact with the company–more that email subscribers or Facebook fans. (p. 32-33)
  • 79 percent of Twitter followers (versus 60 percent of Facebook fans) are more likely to recommend brands since becoming a fan or follower (p.26).
  • Facebook’s share links average only three clicks, while Twitter’s tweets generate nineteen clicks on average (p. 27).

Image representing Twitter as depicted in Crun...

Image via CrunchBase

I was quite surprised by these facts; I thought I’d seen that Twitter was in a slump. Then I considered that television news does often include tweets in their coverage and that celebrities use Twitter a lot. So it is an influential medium. Also, Twitter users may be in a different demographic than I am thus I might be out of the loop as far as its popularity and use.

Scheafer moves on to not just tell people how to handle the basics of Twitter, but how and where to use it wisely. He recommends using the list feature to create lists of users who relate to certain topics you’ve determined are useful, how to find people who located near a specific location and who share a specific interest. He suggests signing up for Twellow, service like the yellow pages for Twitter that Schaefer recommends for finding accounts according to business, location and/or keywords.

I’ve set up a few lists and will add a few more. I looked at to find out my Twitter grade. I wasn’t surprised that it’s pretty low since I don’t tweet regularly. Maybe that’ll improve after I finish reading The Tao of Twitter and I implement these ideas. To find out what’s been tweeted recently, you can go to Local Chirps and input a location.

Certainly a library, museum or other non-profit could benefit from an effective Twitter account and Schaefer’s ideas can make their tweets effective.


Schaefer, M. W. (2012). The Tao of Twitter: Changing Your Life and Business 140 Characters at a Time. New York, NY: McGraw Hill.

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Posted by on February 11, 2013 in contemporary, non-fiction


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