Tag Archives: Facebook

Narcissism and Hubris in the Status Update


The forward-most car on the 5:30 p.m. 303 train from LaSalle Street station in Chicago to Vermont Street in suburban Blue Island is ungodly noisy.

It has a screech not unlike a large dying animal when the car shifts from left to right as it slowly leaves the station.

But it doesn’t impede the conversation that occurs between the long-time commuters of the forward-most car on train 303.

They all know each other and have for a long time.

They greet each other with hugs and ask after loved ones they know by name.

When I found my way to the forward-most car on train 303, I was lonely and growing bitter commuting in from the Chicago suburbs every weekday.

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Little pink houses and barbed wire fences

From Wikimedia Commons
Pink Houses

As a missionary kid, I spent a big chunk of my life living in community.

I don’t mean just a small town, I mean living with 20-30 people in close quarters, like sometimes in the same room.

Most of my parents’ friends know more about me than I remember about myself.

I’m often reminded that when I was living in the Rax mountains of South Eastern Austria in the late 70s, I sometimes confused my two languages – German and English – in rather amusing ways.

When I learned that my pet fishes had babies, I ran around yelling “The fishes had sex! The fishes had sex!”

Continue reading Little pink houses and barbed wire fences

What to do when your Facebook Edgerank drops –

Like any good relationship, you need to have a two-way conversation, a meaningful dialogue. When I started work at a newspaper in Oregon some years ago now, There was a slogan in use. “Join the conversation.” What struck me as funny was the fact that it wasn’t actually a conversation. We pushed out the news, vetted by editors, reported by reporters and drenched in integrity. You were expected to have the conversation about the gospel we were publishing each day.

I remember being asked to start a MySpace page for a newspaper I worked at. But the idea was not altruistic. My editor was simply looking for another way to push out content. Another delivery vehicle, a number generating miracle. This has always stuck me as odd. It is perhaps the one thing that turns me off about the news business in general. Turns out I was right. News, is a conversation. It’s a give and take between two or more people. It’s not a one-sided relationship. And many news agencies are learning that the hard way now that Facebook changed their Edgerank algorithm to favor better engagement over pushing links. About three weeks ago, we noticed a dip in Facebook referrals. We went from many thousands reached to just a few thousand reached with virtually no viral reach. We panicked. We went to forums and searched high and low for an answer. It seemed as if Facebook was finally forcing the revenue issue, and it looked like they were holding our hard-earned fans for ransom. If we paid Facebook some money, they would release a few more of our fans, and our precious referrals would return. But that’s not actually what happened. Vadim Lavrusik, a Facebook liaison to journalists, told us that it’s all about the kind of engagement we were doing. Links, banal headlines, self-serving content just wasn’t cutting it with Edgerank, because it wasn’t cutting it with our fans. He encouraged us to try a few different tactics for a few days. Instead of posting links with small picture embedded, we posted full pictures with links. We started targeting our stories to their impact audience. We started engaging with individual fans. We posted with our fans in mind, not with our own interests and needs at the top of the list. We posted less frequently, but we posted the best of our content. At first nothing happened. We called out Vadim on Facebook and whined a little. Then, incrementally, as you can see by the graph at the top of this page, we started to see an increase in engagement. Soon we saw more likes, more shares, more organic and eventually way more viral. These are not the only things you can do to increase engagement. We are experimenting with many other techniques right now. But these few things will improve your relationship with your audience and get back to a two-way conversation. The main issue is that most news organizations still view it as a one-way relationship. Even this setback may not help them bridge the digital divide. I hope it does though. When that Facebook crack goes away for a little while and your page views drop, it may be that come to Jesus moment many stodgy media outlets need. Then again, it may not. But I believe Darwin had a little something to say about that. Engagement is relationship, it’s a two-way conversation. I’m glad Facebook is finally holding people accountable for better engagement. If I had the controls, I’d do the same thing.

indispensable part i –

I should be at ONA this week. I’m getting little snippets of the conversations going on there on Twitter and Facebook.

But I’m here in Chicago dissecting a teacher strike, planning for election coverage and social media strategies for public radio in general.

It’s lonely work sometimes.

There is something measured and good about getting away to talk to others about your line of work. It’s good to hear people relay their own experiences so you can gather ideas or add and subtract your own.

The conversation that I keep stumbling onto has a lot to do with something the media has always had. Would like to have again. But never will.

The ability to be indispensable.

At one time a train like the one I’m riding right now would have been full of trench coat wearing men reading newspapers and talking about the White Sox post season hopes. Today it’s full of fleece-wearing men and women reading iPads, Kindles and Samsungs.

A few peruse the local newspaper app but many are on Facebook, Twitter or YouTube. I see businessmen following latest analysis videos on Bloomberg, and the guy in front of me is reading the gossip columns on the RedEye app on his iPad.

Nothing they are reading is indispensable. I realize that’s a rather subjective statement, but if one online service was down, they would likely go another. My Facebook app would not refresh this morning, for instance, so I switched over to Twitter.

I peruse a lot of news on my iPad. I don’t have any must haves. Some days I go to Romenesko, some days I do not. I haven’t subscribed to a newspaper in three years. I didn’t have cable television for two years, but I just got it again, because it’s bundled with my phone and Internet.

The closest thing to indispensable is my Wi-Fi connection at home.

But even that is questionable, because my iPad with LTE is actually faster, so when the power goes out, I still have that.

Lately my wife and I have been watching HBO reruns on the iPad in our bedroom, just because Hulu + and Netflix are more familiar to us anyway. It’s strange to have a bazzilion channels to choose from on television. I can’t find anything that is indispensable. 

But nothing is indispensable in the way that newspapers, television and radio were in the past.

The only time TV was allowed in the evenings around dinner time was when the news was on. I used to read the newspaper every morning because my parents read the newspaper every morning.

I was able to speak with authority about current events in school. I could converse easily about many topics, most of which I got from the indispensable news.

Today I have the world at my finger tips. I can search for anything. There is very little I don’t have access to. And yet In life I find myself in the awkward position of having to say that I don’t know about something a lot more than I used to.

I spend my mornings, from 5 a.m. on, trying to familiarize myself with what I think might be important. Local news, as in my southwest Chicago suburb. Regional news, as in Chicago, the Great Lakes, the Mid West, national and world events.

Still, I’m routinely caught unaware.

You know how we as humans will sometimes say yes when asked if we’ve heard or or seen something, even if we have not? Many times we do this so we can progress the conversation rather than have it end awkwardly.

It’s easy to go look something up now, and I feel like there are days where trying to keep abreast of the situation is exhausting. So I’m getting myself into the habit of just saying no, I’m unaware of that, which forces my friends and family to give context and perhaps send me a link.

We no longer have the same indispensable sources of information. We have billions of sources living out there in the ether of cyberspace.

I can barely talk about my favorite football teams with my sons, because we do not all read the same analytical column from the Monday newspaper, if there is even such a thing as a Monday newspaper any more.

They read a half-dozen ESPN apps and college football analysts I’ve never head of, not to mention the myriad arm-chair ESPN analysts on Twitter.

Today when I think of news, I think of being indispensable again. I think about where I would turn in a natural disaster. What information source would give my family the best information to insure our survival?

If there is no power, there are no printing presses and no television or radio broadcasts. There is not Wi-Fi and no Internet.

Maybe I shouldn’t watch NBC’s new show “Revolution,” but I think a lot about how information is disseminated today. And I’m worried, because we’ve lost our indespensible news sources. They’re still here, but they’re fighting for air and relevancy online and on your phone. 

Yesterday I got rid of a dozen apps on my iPhone so I could make room for the iOS 6 upgrade. As I was hitting the little x for delete button, I was thinking these apps were once indispensable. I had to have them for one reason or another. 

But here I am deleting them with no feelings of remorse. 

What is indispensable to you? Where do you inform yourself? What couldn’t you live without? 

The survival of news as information will depend on finding that promised land of indispensability.