“Old” Social Media Sites You May Have Forgotten

As I was discussing old social media sites (and old is relative here since they were created within about a decade) with my son-in-law and daughter, they reminded me of some sites that I hadn’t even considered SM until now. Such SM as AOL chat rooms, Open Diary, Live Journal, Reddit, and Stumble Upon came up. I was never involved with the chat rooms or any of the others, but my children were. They were teenagers at the time and used Open Diary and Live Journal almost daily. If you don’t know about these “old” SM tools, let me inform you. 😉

Open Diary: OpenDiary.com

Open Diary is an interactive diary (blog) for you to write about your personal thoughts, feelings, actions, etc. It’s like a real diary, only this one can be viewed and commented on by anyone online. Open Diary’s welcome message says that it’s for connecting with friends, keeping your life online, and learning about yourself. They offer free blog space with an opportunity to upgrade (for a price, of course). The site lists a “People’s Choice” of entries as well as a “Theme of the Week.”  I don’t know how popular it is now, but as can be expected, the most popular blog diaries are about depression, love, and poetry. I say “as can be expected” because I believe that’s what most people write about in their physical diaries. I imagine that teenage girls make up the largest population of Open Diary users.

Live Journal: LiveJournal.com

Live Journal is another diary-type SM tool. It has more information about its users than Open Diary. Like Open Diary, it offers free blog space to whomever would like to keep a public diary (which seems to me to defeat the purpose of a diary since I always thought diaries were very personal and not shared with anyone except, perhaps, one’s closest friends). Live Journal, however, keeps stats about its users. It claims to have 53,8 million journals and communities who submitted over 141,000 posts in the last 24 hours. It also includes a poll and updates on news items and lists popular entries and communities. Of the two, I’d say Live Journal is more advanced in its offerings than Open Diary. If you love writing about your thoughts and feelings—and want public feedback—both SM sites are a free, easy way to accommodate you.

Reddit: Reddit.com

Reddit is a lot like Digg in that it lists the most popular news stories as found by its members. You can even pick a topic that most interests you such as Funny, Politics, Gaming, Technology, etc. These topics have the latest and most popular news about each topic. You can even go to specific categories about each of these topics. They include Hot, New, Controversial, and Top. I’ve never gone to the Reddit site before, but it seems to me that if you want to stay on top of the latest news on whatever topic you choose, this is the perfect place to do just that.

Stumble Upon: StumbleUpon.com

StumbleUpon is a great SM tool for those who want to discover new sites about whatever interests them. They claim to “help you discover great sites, videos and photos from around the web.” And it’s free! I think this could be a great resource for finding the best sites for anything you might want to learn more about. Twenty-five million members tell StumbleUpon their interests then StumbleUpon directs them to sites, videos, and photos related to those interests, and members rate them. I joined. 😉

Next week I’ll have information about the “Captcha” tool. Find out how this program protects social media tools like websites, blogs, emails, polls, etc. from bots.


The Use of Social Media During the Egyptian Uprising

My blog this week is about the use of the Internet in mobilization for political change. For example, during the recent political uprising in Egypt, technology (the use of the internet, specifically social media networks) impacted the riots. The government tried to shut down the internet upon realizing the threat of revolution was imminent. It didn’t work. According to The Egyptian Experience: Sense and Nonsense of the Internet Revolution, “The communications shutdown in Egypt neither stopped the protests, nor prevented protesters from communicating with the outside world” (Aouragh & Alexander 1). The authors contend that “user-generated and social network applications became tools [sic] of revolution” (2). They suggest that the internet not only aided the revolution, but it was the instrument for the revolution to proceed. It became the impetus where people who shared the same views on what was happening in Egypt could meet. It fueled an already growing dissidence among the younger population, the ones most likely to use social media. Popular social networking sites such as Facebook propagated political discussion where “opinions were shaped … and decision(s) were taken” (5). Sites such as Facebook provided the tools to interact and gauge support for change or, as the authors contend, were instrumental in “widening (the) ripple in the water” (5). Facebook was growing at an alarming rate, with 600,000 new users in January and February of 2011 alone. It became the meeting place for dissidents. Here, they forwarded emails, tweets and posts, thus increasing awareness as well as help in mobilizing the protesters.

One of the people the authors interviewed—Hossam El-Hamalawy, an Egyptian journalist—said that when the government banned Twitter, he was still able to login “in via a proxy in order to disseminate the news about the protests” (6).  And Twitter was an effective tool for the activists with 1.5 million Egypt-related tweets within a week after the January 25 uprising.

It’s ironic that the internet shutdown actually fueled the revolt. As Egyptian blogger Haisam Abu-Samra wrote, “Cutting us out from the rest of the world … didn’t dismantle the revolt. If anything, it removed distraction and gave us a singular mission to accomplish” (7). The activists actually saw this as a sign that the regime felt threatened and it, in turn, empowered the people further. I think Amr Gharbeia, an Egyptian blogger and human rights researcher, succinctly summed up the use of social media tools during the revolution when he said that we are the social network, not the social media tools. He said, “Turning off the technology doesn’t turn off the social network, because it is about people, not about technology” (8).

Works Cited

Aouragh, Miriyam & Anne Alexander. “The Egyptian Experience: Sense and Nonsense of the Internet Revolution.” International Journal of Communication 5 (2011): 1-8. Print.

What Can Social Media Do For You?

Social media sites abound. There are almost as many sites as there are interests. And, as social creatures, we love to stay connected. We thrive on what links us to other people. According to Dalina Castellanos of the LA Times, 90% of all small businesses are networking online through social media venues! She got this information from a recent survey by Manta—an online forum for small businesses. The survey found that 42% of the small business owners reported that one-fourth of their new clients came through social media networking! It appears then, that working with social media could make or break a small business. So, whether it’s a site for people with the same medical issue or a site that showcases a particular talent, we want to join in and meet others that are interested in the same things. So let this groundswell work for you!

As for me, I’m using the social media groundswell now for my personal interests. I love spending an inordinate amount of time using sites such as Polyvore, Pinterest and Facebook as well as watching videos on YouTube.

I am just amazed at what you can find on YouTube. I don’t think there’s been something I’ve looked for that I haven’t been able to find! I mean such obscure things as The Groovy Ghoulies (a Saturday morning cartoon series from the 70s). I wanted to show my kids things I used to watch as a child and, lo and behold, I found it on YouTube! Don’t you just love technology?! My son has started to make music videos of some local rappers and he’s posted them on YouTube. He’s also really into cars and loves to take videos of his cars and his friends’ cars. He even went to Hella Flush 2012 when we were in Hawaii and made a video and posted it on both YouTube and Vimeo.

It’s fascinating to me that most of these sites work so well together. For instance, my creations on Polyvore (a fashion and interior design site where you can design your own “sets”) automatically upload to my Pinterest account (a collection of images of things people find on the internet and share with otheres, or “pin,” via their own “boards”). I spend a lot of (too much) time on Polyvore designing rooms because I enjoy designing as well as the feedback from other users.

Another social media site I adore is Craigslist. I think it’s one of the best inventions on the internet to date. I’ve both purchased and sold items on Craigslist. This social media venue saves people so much money and time. You no longer have to spend the money to place a classified ad in the newspaper to sell unwanted stuff nor do you have to go to the effort of loading and unloading and pricing your stuff at a yard sale and sit there for hours waiting (hoping) for customers to come by and offer you a nickel for an item you placed a dollar sticker on. 😉 I even found my first job in the Washington, DC area on Craigslist! Come to think of it, I also found a job through my network on LinkedIn.

LinkedIn is a phenomenal resource for unemployed or underemployed people. Members can look for a job if they don’t have one or look for opportunities for advancement through their network of people they know or have been “linked to” through someone else.

Another site I frequent is Goodreads. It’s a website for people to share the books they love. They post and share information about books they’ve read, are currently reading or want to read. They can provide their opinion of a book as well as summarize it. It’s a really good way to find new books to read and stay up-to-date on books your “friends” are reading. My oldest daughter has an English Lit undergrad degree and an MFA (Master of Fine Arts) in Creative Writing so I’m always interested in what she’s reading or finding out her opinion on a certain book. There’s also a “Never-ending Quiz” feature where you can answer questions about books (made up by other members) to gauge how much you know about them. It’s really a lot of fun. They’ve also got features such as a “2012 Reading Challenge” and a featured poll. All these tools keep the site interesting and lead to more ways to stay connected with your “friends.”

So, as you can see from my social media examples, they are not only fun but provide excellent ways to stay connected with other people. You find something you’re interested in, and chances are there is a social media site out there for it.

Castellanos, Dalina. “Survey: 90% of small-business owners are networking online.” LATimes.com. 13 Sep. 2012. Web. 11 Oct. 2012.