Saturday, February 28, 2009

Fear and Loathing in Social Networking

Today's New York Times contained this interesting article that I can only read as a full frontal assault on social networking. Anyone who reads the times knows that it has been critical of social networking in the past; even going so far as to call services like Twitter a "pariah that devalues real journalism" and saying it fosters the "me first" mentality.

I think we all understand why the Times says this stuff: they're scared. We live in a world where news now routinely breaks on networks like Twitter and Facebook before it even crosses traditional news wires and that can be a pretty terrifying thing for old school journalists. The landscape is changing and they are finding themselves in a brave new world where fewer and fewer people are waiting on them to deliver the facts and, instead, often providing the news to them quicker than they can get it themselves.

Personally, I think the Times is misplacing blame. The problem facing traditional journalism has nothing to do with Twitter or Facebook or any one piece of social media. It's a problem of adaptation. We live in an increasingly mobile society where information is in constant flow. When something happens on one side of the world it's often only a matter of seconds before news of it is delivered via text message, email, tweet, or Facebook post to millions of people on the other side. Traditional journalism is stuck in an old age with old, broken, protocols and they will continue to see their influence decline until they adapt to the way people want their news: immediate and delivered wherever they are.

No, the problem isn't Twitter. It's a simple issue of adapt or die. Unfortunately, we might be seeing the final death throes of traditional media. Long live new media.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Want to avoid an awkward conversation? Here's how!

We've all been there: you really need to call someone back but you know the conversation is going to be uncomfortable. Maybe you've waited until the wee hours of the morning to call, desperately hoping to get their voicemail so you didn't have to deal with the person directly or desperately tried to find their carriers voicemail backdoor so you could call directly into their voicemail.

Maybe you've wanted to get some information to a friend or business associate but didn't want to get caught in a long, drawn out conversation when a quick 30 second voicemail would be enough.

Problem solved: Enter SlyDial!

SlyDial is a free, ad-supported service that launched last July that allows you to call just about any mobile phone and be connected directly to voicemail without any fear of getting that person live. It doesn't ring the phone, it doesn't disturb the person at all. The only trace you've called at all is a voicemail notification and the sound of your smooth, sexy voice, giving the illusion of a real attempt at communication.

I've been using SlyDial since shortly after it launched and I have to say it often saves the day. I can't count the number of times I've been able to avoid those long, useless, conversations and get information to someone quickly and efficiently. SlyDial is a god-send, really.

Check out the video above for a real-life demo of the SlyDial service. Then, check out the SlyDial website and try the service out. Once you do, you'll wonder how you ever lived without it.

What a wonderful world

Sometimes, we just need to be reminded what a wonderful world we live in.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Kofi Annan Q&A via social media

The interview above was conducted between social media site Seesmic's owner, Loic LeMeur and former Secretary General of the United Nations, Kofi Annan. Prior to the interview, LeMeur solicited questions for the Secretary General via both Twitter and Seesmic and got a rich supply of responses.

While this isn't the first time Seesmic or Twitter have been used as a medium to get people involved with important issues and individuals, this very well might be the first time a major world figure has interacted in such a direct way with the social community.

Thanks Loic!

Monday, February 2, 2009

T-Mobile: How to lose a customer in 3 months

I've been a customer of T-Mobile for nearly 5 years. I've tried the other carriers but something has always brought me back into their fold. Maybe it was the cheap rates, the great customer service, or how they really seemed like a different kind of carrier: one that actually wants their customers to be satisfied. Now, after 5 years of loyalty, I have come to the point where I will probably pay their early termination fee and jump ship to either AT&T or Verizon. What's even sadder, however, is that I've reached this point in a mere six months.

Since July, I've been through four Blackberry Curves.

Since July, every single phone that T-Mobile has sent me has had problems:

Phone #1: The USB port stopped working.
Phone #2: The wifi stopped working
Phone #3: The keys stuck
Phone #4: The phone randomly reboots.

Each of these problems necessitated a phone exchange and all of them happened within three months of each other. Every time I exchanged my phone, it meant going at least 3 days without phone service.

I strongly suspect that the current phone (#4) fried my SIM card so that meant nearly a full week without phone service.

What did T-Mobile offer me for all of this trouble? Nothing. Nada. Zip. Zero. Well, that's not totally true I suppose: they did waive shipping costs of the new phone "because I am a loyal customer". WHAT? So if a NEW customer were having this problem they'd be treated even worse?

WTF, T-Mobile? Where has your customer service gone? You are OBVIOUSLY about to lose a LONG TIME customer and all you can say is "sorry"? Not enough. Not nearly enough. I expected better and you'd failed miserably.

This love affair is quickly ending badly.