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Student_in der Soziologie gesucht!

Nein – nicht, wofür du jetzt glaubst …

Sonntagnachmittag. Der gestrige Tag wurde von der Generation… (was sind die Damen und Herren jetzt eigentlich; für “Z” sind die doch auch schon zu jung, oder?) … an den Computern verbracht. Leage-of-Legends, Minecraft, oder was das Internet halt sonst noch so an Spielen hergibt. In Konsequenz dessen gab es heute also einen “Frische Luft”-Zwang-Tag. Weitestgehend Internet-frei (außer zur Navigation am Stadtwanderweg Nr. 4) und ohne der Chance, dem mit einem vagen “ich treff mich später noch mit Freunden; ich bleib da” auszuweichen.

Der Drittgeborene (14) schaffte es dann doch noch erfolgreich, sich vorzeitig vom gemeinschaftlichen Ausflug zu verabschieden. Hätte er sein Smartphone etwas selbstsicherer als Navigator zu verwenden vermocht, wäre ihm das lange vor dem Anstieg an den höchsten Punkt des Satzberges gelungen.

Mich stimmen derartige Situationen zweifach – völlig konträr zueinander – arg nachdenklich:

  1. Was ist so schlimm am Rausgehen?
  2. Warum ist ein Smartphone für einen 14-jährigen immer noch nur ein Tipp-o-phon?

Im Volksschulalter

waren mein Bruder und ich mit 3 Kindern aus der Siedlung befreundet. Unsere Eltern trennten streng in Schulgewand und Alltagsgewand. Deshalb hielt uns nach den Hausaufgaben noch das für uns überaus lästige Umziehen vom Treffen mit den geliebten Freizeitkumpanen ab. Wir haben damals Lokal-Geschichte geschrieben auf unseren Ausflügen in die dörfischen Umlande. Der Beweis unserer kindlichen Kraft, in der Lage zu sein, ein Wehr zu öffnen, endete für den örtlichen Forellenzüchter mit dem Verlust seines Fischschwarms – sehr zum Leidwesen unserer Eltern, die das entschuldigen mussten. Dass wir danach was zu hören bekamen, verstand sich von selbst. Tags darauf waren wir dennoch wieder draußen.

Gut – mag man einwenden: Damals gab es weder Computer (zumindest nicht im privaten Haushalt) noch Smartphones. Aber es gab Bücher. Fernsehen (hie und da). Matchbox-Autos, die man stundenlang unter dem Heizkörper in Reih und Glied aufstellen konnte, und Fußball-Sammelkarten. Gründe genug, das Haus nicht zu verlassen; und oft genug entschieden wir uns für sie. Uns rauszukriegen aus den eigenen vier Wänden war dennoch recht einfach und unsere Eltern hatten mehr Stress damit, was wir nun wieder anstellten, als damit, dass wir zu wenig oder zu spät selbständig werden würden.

Man mag auch einwenden, dass es wohl etwas leichter war, in der ländlichen Umgebung meiner Kindheitsheimat nicht verloren zu gehen, als in einer Großstadt. Ich meine hingegen, dieses vermeiden heute intelligente, hilfreiche Smartphone-Funktionen doch völlig ohne weiteres. Kinder lernen heute in dem Alter, in dem ich Fische unerlaubterweise in ihre Freiheit entließ, wie man ein Smartphone (zum Spielen) benutzt. Da könnte man doch annehmen, dass sie dann im gymnasialen Alter wissen, wie sie es dazu benutzen können, ihren frischluft-fanatischen Eltern zu entkommen.

Oder ist es vielmehr vielleicht so,

dass Eltern heutzutage die Computer-Verliebtheit ihrer Kleinen doch ein wenig genießen? Meint vielleicht manche Mutter, dass ein Nachmittag (10-12 Stunden) Strategiespielen am Kastl sicherer ist, als mit irgendwelchen Freunden, die man vielleicht garnicht so genau kennt, irgendwo in der Großstadt herumzuhängen?

Ein Teil meiner spärlichen Freizeit ist bekanntermaßen mit der Arbeit für eine mir aus zig-1000 Gründen lieb gewordene Organisation – http://www.cisv.org – gefüllt. Wir bieten Kindern ab dem Alter von 11 Jahren an, ihre Ferien mit Gleichaltrigen aus der ganzen Welt zu verbringen und zu lernen, wie die so leben. Für die 11jährigen dauert unser Programm 4 Wochen; das hat gute Gründe in der Zeit, die Kinder in dem Alter brauchen, um sich gegenseitig so richtig zu vertrauen. Wenn ich Eltern davon erzähle, höre und spüre ich die Begeisterung, die sie meinen Schilderungen entgegenbringen – bis zu dem Moment, an dem ich “4 Wochen” sage. Dann weiten sich oft genug die Augen mit Schrecken und es folgt eine Antwort à la “Nein, 4 Wochen – das ist für mein Kind viel zu lange! Das kann es noch nicht!”

Und wenn ich so über uns, über die Generation nach mir, über die nächste danach, … nachdenke, dann scheint es mir fast, als könnte man eine Rückwärtsbewegung des Abnabelns beobachten: Mir konnte es nicht früh und schnell genug von zu Hause weg gehen – sei es mit 11 auf den Feldweg oder zum Fischwehr oder dann mit 18 nach Wien. Unser Drittgeborener definiert soziale Interaktion über den Chat in League-of-Legends. Und wenn wir – was wir noch nie getan haben – dann doch mal das Internet abdrehten, dann sagt er, er verlöre alle seine Freunde.

Ich suche eine/n Soziolog*in,

die Interesse hat, das Phänomen Smartphone/Computer/Internetspiel im Zusammenhang mit dem Loslassen in der Kindererziehung zu untersuchen. Was verändert sich da? Haben diese Devices Einfluss auf den Freiheitsdrang unserer Kinder? Welchen? Und welchen haben sie einen auf das Sicherheitsdenken heutiger Eltern? Sind die vielleicht froh darüber, dass die lieben Kleinen lieber Zeit in ihrem hochsicheren, hochdigitalisierten Kinderzimmer als auf der Straße oder im Park verbringen?

Mich würde das wissenschaftlich interessieren? Ehrlich! Und ich biete hiermit Unterstützung an …! Ehrlich! Wer mag?

 

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What is Social Media still worth for?

I’m pretty pissed by the recent rumours (let’s call it that way) about the social media platform “twitter” introducing an algorithmic timeline (wanna know more about the matter? either follow the #RIPtwitter hashtag or read this (very great and insightful) article by @setlinger to learn about the possible impact)

So why am I annoyed? – Here’s to share a little

personal history:

When having joined twitter and facebook in 2009, things in both networks were pretty straight forward: Your feed filled with updates from your followers, you could watch things you liked more closely and just run over other boring stuff quickly. Step-by-step facebook started to tailor my feed. It sort-of commenced when I noticed that they were constantly changing my feed setting to (don’t remember the exact wording) “trending stuff first” and I had to manually set it back to “chronological” ever and ever again. At some point that setting possibility vanished totally and my feed remained tailored to – well – what, actually?

Did I back out then? No! Because by that time, I had discovered the advertisement possibilities of facebook. Today, I run about 6 different pages (sometimes, I add some, such as the recent “I AM ELEVEN – Austrian Premiere” page, to promote some causes I am committed to; these go offline again some time later). I am co-administrator  of a page that has more than 37.000 followers (CISV International) and it is totally interesting to observe the effects you achieve with one or the other post, comment, engagement, … whatever. Beautiful things happening from time to time. Personally, in my own feed, I mainly share things randomly (you won’t know me, if you just knew my feed); sometimes it just feels like fun to share an update. Honestly, I’ve given up fully to think, that any real engagement is possible through these kind of online encounters – it’s just fun.

Twitter is a bit different: I like getting in touch with people, whom I do not really know. Funny, interesting, insightful exchanges of information happen within 140 characters. And it gives me food for thought job-wise equally as cause-wise (#CISV, #PeaceOneDay, … and more). I came upon the recently introduced “While you were away” section on my mobile, shook heads about it and constantly skipped it not really bothering about were to switch it off (subsequent answer to subsequent twitter-question: “Did you like this?” – always: “NO”).

And then there was the “algorithmic timeline” announcement!

So, why is this utter bullshit?

I’ll give you three simple answers from my facebook experience:

  • Some weeks back – in November, right after the Paris attacks – I was responsible to post an update to our CISV-International facebook followers. Tough thing, to find the right words. Obviously I got it not too wrong as the reported “reach” was around 150k users in the end. Think about that? A page with some 37k followers reaches some 150k with one post. I was happy about the fact, that it was that much, but thinkin’ twice about it: How can I really know about the real impact of that? In truth, that counter does tell me simply nothing.
facebook post on "CISV International" reaching nearly 150k users

facebook post on “CISV International” reaching nearly 150k users

  • Some days ago, I spent a few bucks to push a post from the “I AM ELEVEN – Austria” page. In the end it reported a reach of 1.8k! “Likes” – however – came mostly from users who – according to facebook – don’t even live in Vienna, though I tailored the ad to “Vienna+20km”. One may argue that even the best algorithm cannot control friends-of-friends engagement – and I do value that argument; but what’s the boosting worth then, if I do not get one single person more into the cinema to see the film?
facebook I AM ELEVEN boosted post

facebook I AM ELEVEN boosted post

  • I am recently flooded with constant appearances of “Secret Escape” ads. I’ve never klicked it (and won’t add a link here – I don’t wanna add to their view count); I’m not interested in it; facebook still keeps showing me who of my friends like it and adds the ad to my feed more than once every day. Annoying. And to stop it I’d have to interact with the ad – which I do not want to. However, I don’t have a simple choice of opting out of it …

Thinking of all that – and more – what would I personally gain from an algorithmic timeline on twitter, if facebook hasn’t really helped me in my endeavours anymore, recently? Nothing! I think. I just don’t have the amount of money to feed the tentacles of those guys, having such ideas, so that their ideas would by any means become worthy for my business or causes. Period.

But as those tentacles rarely listen to users like me but rather to potent advertisers (like “Secret Escape” e.g.), the only alternative will probably again be, to opt out:

Twitter: NO to "best tweets"

Twitter: NO to “best tweets”

 

Having recently read “The Circle” that’s a more and more useful alternative, anyway …

 

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Read “The Circle” and opt out!

Is it – as a committed social media aficionado – applicable to call for an opt out of it all? It is, once you’ve read “The Circle”, the 2013 fictional novel by author Dave Eggers.

Eggers portraits a powerful internet company making money through advertising (links to Google or Facebook are purely accidental, of course). Mae Holland is a tech worker and in her second job after having graduated she’s given an opportunity at The Circle – an opportunity which most tech workers these days desperately seek for. Mae got support from her college roommate Annie who had already made it to the group of the 40 most senior managers in the company, directly reporting to the founders – “Three Wise Men”: Tom Stenton, Eamon Bailey and Ty Gospodinov. While the first two actively involve themselves in the company’s endeavours, Ty works on new developments mostly secluded in the background.

Mae starts in Customer Experience and works herself up the chain by overcommitting to objectives and seemingly easily (but in truth with great personal effort and sacrifice) following the increasingly demanding involvement not only in her work duties but also all virtual and physical social interaction with fellow colleagues. She not-falls-in-love with one nerdy Circler she has sex with, whom she somehow admires for his technological development of a system protecting children from violence; she commences to desperately long for encounters with another Circler, who becomes increasingly mysterious as the company develops itself more and more towards total transparency.

Eggers, the author, does not keep the reader long from his message: One of the first major announcements of one of the Wise, Eamon Bailey, is a development called “SeeChange” – an extremely low-cost, top-quality A/V camera, capable of running on battery for about 2 years and streaming its crystal clear 4k images via satellite onto the SeeChange platform. Anyone can install cameras anywhere, they are barely noticed and everybody can logon to SeeChange with their unique – very personal and real – identity, their “TruYou”.

Rings a bell? Well, this is only the starting point into a rollercoaster of more awesomely cool technology tools, all aggregated through “TruYou” and made available to everyone anytime.

Dave Eggers is brilliantly creating a staggering balance between technological blessings and their benefit for employees, communities and the people as a whole on the one hand and the increasing sacrifice individuals could be demanded to make on the other hand in order to leverage that technological advance. This is – in short – the utter embarrassing red line throughout the whole book from the very first page until the closing line.

Of course, “The Circle” addresses the time we spend in social media, the way we communicate with each other (personally and virtually), the blessings and the threats that a modern, technology-based life bears. While reading, I was constantly torn between appreciating the sketched development (note: this isn’t science fiction, this is just the next step in a logical advance that we’re facing) and detesting the commitment it would demand from the ones making real use of it. Being into like two thirds of it and swallowing the book’s lines in nightly sessions, my only remaining questions was this: Will Eggers eventually manage to destroy my thorough belief in the two main importances of modern social media involved life and communication:

  • Utter transparency: I want to always know – or: be able to know – who does what with my data
  • And utter free will: I want to always be allowed to opt out, if I want to

I will not disclose the answer – I’d be “spoiling”. BUT – if you haven’t done so far, I recommend: Read “The Circle”. And then consider carefully, where and what to opt in or opt out of. It remains important.

circlebig

P.S.: There’ll be a movie comin’ this year, starring Tom Hanks as Eamon Bailey. Don’t read the articles on it, as they all contain spoilers on one important turn of the story!

 

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Happy New Year

Between the years: From Dec 31st, 11:00 CET, to Jan 1st, 13:00 CET, I decided to publish a collection of facebook posts once going full circle around our globe – each saying hello to a few countries – each at the time where these countries enter the New Year.

As – obviously – I didn’t want to spend any more time on the computer than necessary, I used a free account of Buffer (https://buffer.com/) to schedule the posts. Limitations (learnings) of this is:

  • It wasn’t possible to create a schedule for all necessary times throughout those 26 hours
  • Post queueing was only allowed for up to 10 posts in advance
  • After 24 posts, Buffer said, that my account had reached its post limit per day – this was especially annoying as it said it not while preparing the post, but when the post was due, thereby making it impossible for me to react in time.

Anyway – the whole exercise was fun, revealed a few interesting insights into how world time zones are structured and brought some nice feedback.

Data for “countries entering the new year at …” came from http://www.timeanddate.com. They use an html “title=” attribute of a <span> to list all the countries on hovering over the respective table column. If you’re interested – here’s the full table of countries exported from the source.

Have fun!

11:00

Samoa and Christmas Island/Kiribati

11:15

Chatham Islands/New Zealand

12:00

New Zealand with exceptions, Fiji, some regions of Antarctica, Tonga, Phoenix Islands/Kiribati and Tokelau

13:00

small region of Russia, regions of Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Wallis and Futuna, Nauru, regions of US Minor Outlying Islands and Tuvalu

14:00

much of Australia, Sakha (Yakutia)/Russia, Pohnpei/Micronesia, Vanuatu, Solomon Islands, Bougainville/Papua New Guinea, New Caledonia and Norfolk Island

14:30

Small region of Australia: Adelaide, Broken Hill, Ceduna

15:00

Queensland/Australia, some regions of Russia, much of Papua New Guinea, regions of Micronesia, Northern Mariana Islands, small region of Antarctica and Guam

15:30

Northern Territory/Australia: Darwin, Alice Springs, Tennant Creek

16:00

Japan, South Korea, Sakha (Yakutia)/Russia, small region of Indonesia, Timor-Leste and Palau

16:15

Western Australia/Australia: Eucla

16:30

North Korea: Hamhung, Pyongyang

17:00

China, Philippines, regions of Indonesia, Western Australia/Australia, Malaysia, most of Mongolia, Taiwan, small region of Russia, Brunei, some regions of Antarctica, Hong Kong, Singapore and Macau

18:00

much of Indonesia, Thailand, Krasnoyarsk/Russia, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Christmas Island and some regions of Mongolia

18:30

Myanmar and Cocos Islands

19:00

Bangladesh, much of Kazakhstan, small region of Russia, Kyrgyzstan, Bhutan, British Indian Ocean Territory and small region of Antarctica

19:15

Nepal

19:30

India and Sri Lanka

20:00

Pakistan, some regions of Russia, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, regions of Kazakhstan, Maldives, Tajikistan, French Southern Territories and some regions of Antarctica

20:30

Afghanistan

21:00

Azerbaijan, United Arab Emirates, Armenia, Oman, small region of Russia, much of Georgia, Reunion (French), Mauritius and Seychelles

21:30

Iran

22:00

Moscow/Russia, Saudi Arabia, Ethiopia, Iraq, Belarus, Somalia, Madagascar, Tanzania, Eritrea, Uganda, regions of Ukraine, Djibouti, Sudan, Yemen, Kenya, South Sudan, Qatar, Comoros, Bahrain, regions of Georgia, small region of South Africa, Kuwait and Mayotte

23:00

Greece, South Africa with exceptions, Finland, Israel, Turkey, Egypt, Kyiv/Ukraine, Botswana, Bulgaria, Romania, Estonia, Palestinian Territories, Syria, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Latvia, much of Dem. Rep. Congo, Libya, Jordan, Burundi, Cyprus, Rwanda, Malawi, Namibia, Lebanon, Lithuania, Mozambique, Lesotho, Moldova, Swaziland and small region of Russia

00:00

Germany, Norway, Switzerland, Austria, France, Poland, Italy, Barcelona/Spain, Netherlands, Sweden, Nigeria, Denmark, Belgium, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Algeria, Tunisia, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Angola, Chad, Central African Republic, Hungary, Benin, Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, Albania, Serbia, regions of Dem. Rep. Congo, Slovenia, Niger, Congo, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Republic of, Kosovo, Montenegro, Gabon, San Marino, Malta, Liechtenstein, Vatican City State, Gibraltar, Monaco and Andorra

01:00

United Kingdom, Portugal with exceptions, Ireland, Cote d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast), Morocco, Iceland, Burkina Faso, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Togo, Liberia, Mauritania, Western Sahara, Guinea, Mali, some regions of Spain, Guinea-Bissau, Saint Helena, Gambia, Ghana, Guernsey, some regions of Antarctica, Isle of Man, small region of Greenland, Faroe Islands, Sao Tome and Principe and Jersey

02:00

Cabo Verde, Azores/Portugal and small region of Greenland

03:00

regions of Brazil and South Georgia/Sandwich Is.

04:00

Argentina, regions of Brazil, Chile with exceptions, Uruguay, most of Greenland, regions of Antarctica, Paraguay, French Guiana, Suriname, Falkland Islands and Saint Pierre and Miquelon

04:30

Newfoundland and Labrador/Canada

05:00

some regions of Canada, Bolivia, Dominican Republic, Amazonas/Brazil, Puerto Rico, Trinidad and Tobago, US Virgin Islands, Turks and Caicos Islands, Guyana, Caribbean Netherlands, Antigua and Barbuda, Guadeloupe, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, British Virgin Islands, small region of Greenland, Saint Vincent and Grenadines, Bermuda, Anguilla, Dominica, Montserrat, Sint Maarten, Barbados, Saint Martin, Grenada, Saint Barthélemy, Curaçao, Aruba and Martinique

05:30

Venezuela

06:00

USA (New York, Washington D.C., Detroit), regions of Canada, Colombia, Peru, Ecuador with exceptions, Cuba, Panama, small region of Brazil, small region of Mexico, Haiti, Jamaica, Bahamas, small region of Chile and Cayman Islands

07:00

USA (Chicago, Dallas), Federal District/Mexico, some regions of Canada, Honduras, Belize, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala and small region of Ecuador

08:00

USA (Denver, Phoenix), some regions of Canada (Calgary) and some regions of Mexico

09:00

USA (Los Angeles, San Francisco, Las Vegas), some regions of Canada, Baja California/Mexico and Pitcairn Islands

10:00

USA (Alaska) and regions of French Polynesia

10:30

Marquesas Islands/French Polynesia: Taiohae/Nuku Hiva Island

11:00

Hawaii, some USA Outlying Islands, Tahiti/French Polynesia and Cook Islands: Honolulu, Rarotonga, Adak, Papeete, Hilo

12:00

American Samoa, regions of US Minor Outlying Islands and Niue

13:00

Baker Island and Howland Island (US Minor Outlying Islands)

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Bedürfnispyramide / Hierarchy of Needs

… und auch wenn die allgemeine Digitalisierung und das dauernde Verbundensein grundsätzlich spannende und bereichernde Entwicklungen sind, dürfen wir – gerade dieser Tage – WLan und Akkuleistung auf der Maslow’schen Bedürfnispyramide ruhig ein wenig weiter oben einreihen. Tim Minchin hat da ein paar ganz gute Ideen dazu …


 

… and even though Digitalization and ubiquitous connection of everyThing are interesting and enriching advancements of mankind, we’re surely allowed – especially during these days – to put “WiFi” and “Akku” onto some higher places within Maslow’s “hierarchy of needs”. Tim Minchin has some nice ideas to this, indeed …

 

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The “Next Big Thing” series: From Social Network to #Social #Revolution

{this is No. 3 of the “Next Big Thing” blog post series, which discusses the revolution to come through ongoing innovation in IT and the challenges involved with’em}

 

Along with Cloud patterns the delivery of large engagement platforms – essentially web applications architectured, of course, specifically to serve a vast amount of simultaneous access and a huge stream of information – became possible.

If one does take a look back into history of social media, these platforms step-by-step evolved from pure public-chat and tweet apps into full blown areas for (group) communications, gaming, advertising and (sometimes) simply storing information. Not by what they were originally intended to be (facebook’s core goal was – and still is, if you trust Zuckerberg – to connect everyone) but by how the consumers (private or business ones) developed themselves within them as well as developed and matured their usage patterns.

However, there is a “meta level” beyond the obvious: Observing youth and their approach to using technology surrounding them might lead to thinking: Those guys have completely forgotten about communication and engagement. I trust, the opposite is the case. When I talk to my kids, I learn that they read everything, absorb everything, have a much faster ability to notice news, information, consume different channels, etc. The only thing is: They do not react, if it doesn’t touch them. And that pattern applies not only to advertisement-backed social media feeds but also – and maybe foremost – to direct 1:1 or group conversations. And this is why I believe that the social aspect within the Nexus of Forces will have a much stronger impact than we currently notice.

I tend to claim a social revolution to approach us because – together with the other forces – social media will become the integrative middleware between what we want to consume, businesses want to drive us to consume and how we consume it. No advertising phone calls anymore, no spamming in our mailboxes (hurray!), but a social feed of information which is far better suited to create the impression of personal engagement while in truth being just an efficient aggregation and combination of data that we all have earlier produced ourselves.

Are businesses ready for that revolution? Can they adapt their marketing strategies to leverage those vast new possibilities? Orchestrating services and data in order to feed social platforms with what is considered relevant to the customers of a certain enterprise will become a core IT capability in order to be able to become a player of relevance in the social revolution.

 

{No. 4 of this blog post series talks about the challenges of the “mobile everywhere” culture – soon to come – stay tuned}

feature image found at AFAO talks (http://afaotalks.blogspot.com.au/2012/07/going-social_20.html)

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3 importances for a self-aware social networker

The social and mobile world is undergoing another change in perception. Back in 2006++ when most of today’s social networks commenced their big leap into our everyday life, they drove the always-on culture, the work-everywhere culture, the instant-communication culture. People where happily adopting all the tremendously great possibilities they were given by the smartphone vendors who in turn where driven to ever-new feature climaxes by the evolving hype. And today – these days, virtually – a shift (maybe: a turn) is notable. The crucial point here: This turn is risking to go utterly and completely into the wrong direction!

And here’s why!

Why dictate instead of educate?

These days an article crossed my desk saying, that the German government has introduced a policy that employees must not be called or contacted anymore outside working hours. “The guidelines state that ministry staff should not be penalised for switching off their mobiles or failing to pick up messages out of hours”, says the article in The Telegraph. Digging further, one can find the Daimler “Mail on Holiday” program which allows employees to invoke an automatic process delegating and deleting eMails form their inboxes when on vacation or a Volkswagen initiative (admittedly already from 2011) where the company switched off eMail synchronization during out-of-work hours.

When reading this, the very simple thing I am really asking myself is: Where is the awareness education for people confronted with such kind of policies? How do employers or governmental organizations ensure that their core value – their employees – actually understand how mobile technology and social interaction influences their behaviour and – even more important – how they can find an approach of wellbeing to all the thrilling possibilities of technology for themselves?

Why allow speeding in messaging?

The second thing that hit me really hard was the article of a 17yo girl in an Austrian newspaper, contemplating the behaviour of herself and her friends in WhatsApp. What she essentially says is that FOMO (“fear of missing out”) is actually FOMF (“fear of missing friends”). Young people everywhere seem to have floated into a symbiosis with their phone for the sole purpose of instantly – literally within a second – answering any incoming message. Otherwise they would risk losing friends and social contacts because when their friends and schoolmates having seen them online sometime during the day wouldn’t receive an answer within “due course”, they’d assume not to be liked anymore and quit friendship.

The shocking detail here is two-folded: On the one hand, instant messaging conversations in 90% of all cases completely lack content anyway (they run along a thread something like “hey :)” – “hey :)” – “how r u” – “ok. and u” – ok, too” – what r u doin” – “nothing”) and on the other hand, not being answered can so frighteningly quickly evolve from frustration into anger and into ignorance within instances.

And I am asking myself: Is friendship worth anything these days? And who teaches our children how to keep it up? Who educates them for responsibility humans deserve and for responsibility and self-awareness and caution with the technological possibilities they are so happy to be given.

Why allow loneliness when everyone is always around?

The third thing that stroke me was another awesome TED talk (TED talks tend to be awesome whatever topic they touch) by Sherry Turkle, a psychologist and cultural analyst, talking about being connected and still remaining alone (here’s the link to it). What she is stating – undermined with respective research – is that we have grown more alone then in former times when getting in touch with each other was so much harder due to the lack of communication facilities. The truth of what she says is undeniable: When we wanted to arrange to meet our friends in the 8oies or even 90ies, we had to pick a landline, hope the other one was where his landline was and plan around other duties (like school, sports, music education, homework, shopping, etc.) as a long as to find a free timeslot for meeting for a coffee or coke. And by that, we were closer to each other than we are now. We always and ever knew our friends plans. We literally felt them without having to talk to them. Today, we don’t talk. We chat, message, eMail or tag’em in a post – and know nothing about how they feel. They remain as alone as we are in fact – with all those 100s of social network “friends” around.

And I am simply asking myself why nobody really notices?

The answer

The items above kept me thinking … thinking of a solution … Here’s what I think, we can do – as a parental guide, a school teacher, an employer or just a human friend. The solution to the huge challenge our society is facing with the equally huge technological possibilities does not lie with rules, regulations, policies and prohibitions. It will not help at all to tell our kids, our employees or our friends what they can do, shall do or must not do.

The true answer is within ourselves and the only thing helping it to surface is helping to create self-awareness about how we treat technology around us. So here’s 3 simple things to try:

  1. Do not ban eMail, switch off sync or forbid mobile phones. Instead, offer freedom to employees. Start with educating management to not expect availability from their people at weird times, teach them to accept individuality in how employees use the technology around them. And coach the employees in acquiring and living up to what they need for wellbeing at work. If one wants to switch off when leaving the building: Fine. If one wants to check eMails during vacation: Fine, too. I trust more than anything, that productivity increases when one can use social interaction and mobility the way they want it.
  2. Do make children understand the amount of pressure they put themselves and others into when expecting behaviour without explicitly explaining it. In terms of communications, I think, it is no bad thing to chat and message a response instantly upon message arrival. It’s getting tremendously dangerous when a response is expected without even taking into account what hurdles might hinder the other to respond. They might have forgotten their phone, be on holiday without parental phone admittance, be in a verbose conversation with someone. And their lack of responsiveness may have nothing at all to do with a lack of appreciation. Understanding the difference may make them truly self-aware and sensitive users of that great mobile and social revolution, we’re facing.
  3. And finally: Get a feeling on how much in touch you really are. How much you really know about someone who is posting on facebook or twitter, is joking with 20-something groups on whatsapp … and at the same time is feeling tremendously alone because of a complete lack of real life relationships. And maybe that one is you …

I think, the technology surrounding us – and the path, twists and turns this technology keeps taking – bares so many great advantages for our day to day lifes, if we only learn how to integrate them without letting it role over us destructively. So let us not let it do so!

 

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Internet behavioural education

Facebook: 1.26 billion users; Twitter: 500 million

Gmail: 425 million users (but Google+ only 343 – interesting, actually) and Outlook.com 400 million

WhatsApp: 300 million

LinkedIn: 238 million

Skydrive: 250 million

Shazam: 350, Spotify: 24, eBay: 120, Instagram: 150, Flickr: 87, Netflix: 38 million

Even Paypal (the payment platform: note – it’s about money!) has 132 million users

 

And then there’s this guy – a German “Spiegel” journalist – doing a self experiment by asking a group of hackers to inject malicious software into his devices (the full – German – article is here); and within 5 days his privacy is revealed and shared with millions, he’s outed gay on facebook, has a status posted that he’d resigned from his job, … …

… proving – by that experiment – that millions of billions of Internet users are actually idiots.

 

How can millions of billions still dare to use those services when it’s so ludicrously simple that their privacy is disclosed? Obviously the vast majority of those users still move safely around the net without fear. Why?

Maybe because they don’t reuse nor share their passwords, keep their pins secret, make use of elevated security measures (like security questions, alternate email, privacy settings). Maybe they also don’t click suspicious links in suspicious emails.

 

Folks – here’s a secret: Malicious software has to find its way into your devices first in order to successfully unfold its maliciousness!

I’m rather asking: How can an obviously small number of un-educated Internet users raise fear within the majority and thereby help such articles gain attention?

Maybe, we could push Internet behavioural education in our schools? I reckon, this might help more than slightly unrealistic self experiments …

 

(Figures above sourced from http://expandedramblings.com/index.php/resource-how-many-people-use-the-top-social-media/)

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5 reasons for me being only 1

Just recently I heard that quote again: “No, I don’t connect with my colleagues on facebook. facebook is for my private endeavours.”

Vice versa is heard as well sometimes, when people complain about my fb-feed being mingled with boring IT posts from twitter (“I don’t understand that, I just scroll over it.”).

Appreciated and respected, folks.

Why then am I still convinced that maintaining just 1 single profile is the better way of making myself seen online. I could well split up the fully automated fb-twitter connect. I could make dedicated use of the #fb tag in twitter to specifically decide what to push over to fb. I’m online enough to even post completely seperatly in the various medias (and the apps supporting it are convenient enough to do so).

So, here’s my 5 reasons why I don’t:

  1. My employer/customer may (should) get the full picture. Be it whilst looking for a new job or within an existing employment, I am convinced that it is beneficial for the company’s culture if people offer their complete “self”, if they do offer any such information on the net. If you intend to create a true colleagueship culture in your enterprise you’re doing better in encouraging your people to just show what they are (baring in mind that showing off in the net means of course always to consider carefully what you show anyway). But hiding certain aspects from your fellow colleagues that you show  – well – the NSA (in a way) just doesn’t make sense to me. The same – BTW – applies for your customers in case you’re running the company: why shouldn’t your customers know whom they’re engaging with?
  2. I wanna know what my friends do for a living.
    Consider going out with your friends: Is talking about what you do for a living a tabu? Wouldn’t you chat about your latest achievements, your most beautiful line of code, your latest plenary presentation received with awe by the audience. Why shouldn’t my friends know that I like what I do?
  3. Splitting posts causes too much time.
    I’m a lazy guy. Tasks I can avoid, I will avoid. Considering whether some nice piece that I wanna share may go to one or the other account (to the private or to the open, to the technical or to the musical, e.g., …) is just too cumbersome and effort consuming to do it. As simple as that.
  4. I disbelieve that literally everything within or coming from a person’s employing company is great (even if it’s my own).
    I got in touch with companies which put up a social media policy employees have to adher to. These policies normally prohibit employees from posting other than company praises to their online profiles (well, I might exagerate a bit here). However, reading about the big awesomeness of a product, company, service, etc. is something I may expect from a company’s marketing account but not from a human being capable of using her/his grey cells. Hence, don’t expect it from me!
  5. I am 1 person.
    Not 2, 3 or more. What you find about me in the net, will always show you the whole “me”. No hidden agenda, no false illusions about me seeming a technical nerd or not at all interested in my job. It’s just WYSIWYG.

Of course, living virtually according these 5 reasons involves a little bit of care about what people do with your profile with regards to tagging, linking, mentioning, etc. … but being online with just a single profile allows you doing that on the go anyway – more or less …

Lawnmowerman

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