Tag Archives: social media

Sharpening the Saw: Organizing My Social Media House

Ducks in a rowAt the beginning of the year, I’d made a commitment to learn 10 new tools and blog my findings. A quick review of this blog shows that I didn’t meet that goal.

To this, I’ll swiftly blame a busy schedule. There’s the family (of course), and work (don’t get me started), and the internet with all its shiny baubles.

But there’s also this: it’s challenging to learn a new tool well. Take, for example, my Google Hangouts post. It indicates that I’ve learned how to use the tool. But have I adopted it as a tool in my personal learning network?  Have I used it to support any of my training sessions? No.
And as I checked Jane Hart’s list of tools, I realized that there are quite a few on that list that I use poorly.  I have a Twitter account(#1 tool for learning, according to Jane Hart). I subscribed to blog feeds via Outlook once upon a time, and switched to Google Reader when I realized I could access the feeds on my more convenient mobile devices, then switched over to Feedly(#19) out of necessity. And I’m on Facebook(#9), and Google+(#10), and Tumblr(#65), and*… I think I once had a Diigo(#21) account, or a del.icio.us(#60), or both. I was basically subscribing to information overload, and thus ensuring I paid little attention to any of my feeds.

So the latter half of the year I’ve focused on consolidation and organization.

I once believed that I needed multiple accounts for most of my information services: one for “business,” one for “personal” pursuits. With the advanced search algorithms available in email, and the prevalent use of hashtags, and other advances in the tools we use, no more. So I’ve consolidated:

  • I’m directing all correspondence to one email account;
  • I’ve transferred all those folks I follow into one Twitter account (I once managed (poorly) three of them);
  • I’ve given up on the news aggregator accounts altogether.
  • I’ve mothballed my personal blog; my whimsical posts on Facebook fulfill that need to boast about my kids to family and friends.
  • I have done away with about 7/8 of my e-newsletter subscriptions. Goes a long way to reducing my Inbox clutter.

I’m not doing away with my information feed.  Rather, I’m working to refine my personal learning network so I can get to this information readily.  All that talk about mobile learning? The way I see it, it’s really key for informal learning.

For most of those e-newsletters I’d unsubscribed from, I’ve been able to add them to a blog feed. Of the rest, many of these topics get repeated in my Twitter feed, or Google +. And if not, well, I’ve learned that I don’t need to read everything that crosses my path. I’ve done fine. I’ll do fine.

My primary source for articles to read will be Feedly, which I’ve sorted into lists: Training, Work Related, Corporate News, etc.  My other feeds, such as Google +, will probably fall into dis-use (although that’s a tough call as I’ve found some fairly intelligent discussions there), and I’ll sign into Twitter rarely — to join one of the Twitchats I appreciate, for example.

Future Considerations:
Most of these decisions are about time and mental bandwidth.  I have so little of each.  But again, it comes down to learning the tools. Each social media account I’ve opened, I’d done so because I’d gotten caught up in the press. But I’d never tapped into their potential.

One of the tools whose potential I should harness is LinkedIn.  These posts feed there automatically, but LinkedIn is about managing your professional presence, and a wayward post or two a quarter doesn’t do it. It’s likely that I’ll be more participative in some LinkedIn groups in the coming year.

For the other tools, I’ll need to ensure they align with what I’m trying to accomplish. Twitter is a perfect example. Most of the people I follow primarily post links to articles that they believe are interesting. Well, I’ve already subscribed to feeds of articles I believe should interest me. Which do I spend my time on? I may benefit from honing the people I follow in Twitter. I may benefit from better application of lists. I may do just as well to chuck Twitter altogether, and focus on the lengthier discussions available in Google +.

At the end of the year, I find that I appreciate Jane Hart’s challenge. It showed where my personal learning gaps were — not with new tools, but with the resources I’d already signed up for.


* and there was Plaxo, and Ning, and Posterous, SlideShare, ScoopIt, Yammer, Klout…

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An Open Place

Dr. Beverly Kaye, had shared her “5 P’s of Development” at a recent ASTD National conference for Chapter Leaders. They’re over there to the right.

We considered the first “P,” “Place,” in yesterday’s post. The question asked: “What one trend or change will impact the way I do my work?” The take-away she provided: It’s not enough to know your job. It’s equally important to know your organization, your industry, and your profession.

  • Place
  • Person
  • Perspective
  • Possibilities
  • Plan

An example of people questioning “Place” in their development comes from the November issue of the Harvard Business Review.  Their article “Community Relations 2.0” discusses the utilization of social media to create online communities that deepen relationships, organize people, synthesize knowledge, and filter information.   When discussing the ability of online communities to gather information from disparate sources into meaningful data, the article focuses on the growing ALS population and their usage of the site: PatientsLikeMe.

Medical knowledge tends to progress slowly, acknowledges authors Gerald C. Kane, Robert G. Fichman, John Gallaugher, and John Glaser.  They conduct studies that take years.  They publish their results in white papers.  Results are refuted by other doctors conducting other year-long studies.  For the patient, this process can seem like swimming through Jell-o — full of sugary hope, but tough to slog through.

PatientsLikeMe asks:  “Do you have a life-changing condition?”  (There’s that word: life-changing.)  “Learn from the real-world experiences of people just like you.”  Their philosophy? All about openness.  “We believe sharing your healthcare experiences and outcomes is good.”

This is quite different from hospitals where privacy laws ensure that each interaction is focused on the patient, and from research facilities where proprietary tactics shut the door on open discussion.  There, the focus is insular.  For PatientsLikeMe, the focus is broad, sweeping.  There is no focus — there are open minds and open eyes.

Nervous SystemThe concept is simple.  The patients share their stories, their insights, their feelings. They document their health, their symptoms, their moods.  They create a community for anyone wishing to analyze his/her place to do so.  And they, in turn, learn from others just like them.

It’s an empowering site.  There’s the man who reviewed research that supported his belief that he was not getting enough medication to treat his condition.  He shared it with his doctor, who reviewed the data, concurred, and upped the man’s dosage, thereby improving his quality of life.

There’s the community of ALS patients who shortened the length of a study from years to months. From the article Community Relations 2.0: “The site has aggregated patient-reported data heretofore inaccessible to the general public.  Community members even band together for sophisticated research efforts.  Inspired by a report suggesting that lithium may benefit ALS sufferers, members recently launched what PatientsLikeMe cofounder Jamie Heywood describes as ‘the first real-time, real-world open  and non-blinded, patient driven trial.’ ”

Say it with me.  Wow.

These people believe that it’s not enough to stoically know how only their lives are going.  In order to move out of the place that they’re in, they actively seek to learn what’s going on in the medical industry and the community of people just like them.  They’ve identified not only their Place, but also where they’re going.

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