hmm... thoughts

Social Networking 101


Yesterday, I had a crazy thought. Big surprise, I know. It was listening to a story on KPBS about how all of the community colleges in California are jam packed with laid off workers trying to learn new skills. And I started thinking… that’s a lot of small businesses… that’s a lot of people looking for jobs… that’s a lot of people with time on their hands.

What if I offered a class in social networking? Something that covered entry level and helped get people started without looking like a moron? Spend 5 sessions covering stuff like creating accounts, building a network, etiquette, promotion, style, generating content, creative commons, etc. The weekly sessions would cover:

– Facebook

– Blogging

– Twitter

– YouTube, Flickr, and other media sites

– PhotoShop/just enough for your social networking needs

Do you think people would actually pay for something like that? I’m thinking it’d be fun to do it tutor-style. Small group of people, meet at my house, 30 minutes of instruction plus an hour or so of practice.

I know there is a need for this because I’m constantly helping my friends already. While I don’t mind helping my friends at all, it makes me think that there is a large population who wants to learn how to do those things for themselves or their business who just need someone to sit down and explain things, then show them how to get started.

Of course, I am already silly with stuff to do. So I don’t think I’m really serious about this… but it does have me thinking.


5 Reasons I Love Social Networking

The last 12 months has seen a major shift in how people view social networking. A year ago most adults (who weren’t in youth ministry) said the word “Myspace” with a suspicious scowl. If they used it they kept it on the downlow.

Now everyone has Facebook. (150 million users and growing every second; it would be one of the largest countries in the world by population.) Now, most everyone is jumping on Twitter and getting completely addicted to that. The swarm of humanity has taken what was done in the margins and brought it to the mainstream. It’s a beautiful thing!

As a person who “lives online” through my work, I thought I would share 5 things I love about social networking.

1. Meeting new people. I’m pretty brave so I’ve taken to joining meet-up groups and showing up to meet people who share a special interest. It’s really not as creepy or as weird as I thought it’d be.

2. Learning stuff about people I already know. The “25 random things” meme on Facebook has reached legend status. I’ve been tagged on that thing probably 50 times and I don’t mind reading them all.

3. Reconnecting with long lost friends. Sure, there is the occasional misfire as a person who was a jerk to you in 8th grade friend requests you or wants to follow you on Twitter. But over all, I’ve had amazing reconnections.

4. Getting exposed to the good stuff. This is especially true on Twitter! If there is anything new and noteworthy, social networking sites are all over it way, way before it hits the mainstream media. I suppose that’s both good and bad as there is such a thing as being too current on stuff. Also, a danger to this is that it’s hard sometimes to distinguish right away what is actually newsworthy.

5. Instant feedback. Who needs focus groups anymore? I can pop an idea on Twitter of my Facebook status and get 25-50 responses right away.

What about you? What are things you love about social networking?

parenting Web/Tech

5 Best Online Communities for Kids

If you don’t have young kids, than you probably have no idea that social networking has really taken off for kids. In fact, I’d call these social play sites. Our kids are completely addicted to them. They are safe, fun, and most of them teach values that any parent would like to encourage. Here are the top 5 in no particular order. Our kids say “We like them all the same!

#1 Web Kinz (Cost: Stuffed Animal about $15) Chances are if you’ve heard of one site kids are hooked on, this is it. Parents buy a Web Kinz stuffed pet at a boutique store (like Hallmark) and once home parents create an account for that animal. Kids play games and do tasks to earn money. In turn, with the money the kids can buy accessories for their child’s online version of their pet, feed their pet, take him to the doctor, or even send them on vacation! What I love about Web Kinz is that the site is constantly updated with new challenges. I also love that kids learn a bit about the value of money, earning things, and trading. What I don’t like is that the stuffed animals are $15-20 each and the kids always want a new one.

#2 Club Penguin (Cost: Free and subscription service) This is Disney’s entry into social networking. There are two levels, paid and free. Our kids only use the paid component and seem to like it just fine. Unlike Web Kinz, a child’s character in Club Penguin is decidedly social. Within their virtual world the penguins can go to a series of different rooms. Our kids love taking their penguins to parties! I love that the kids can play against each other on seperate computers. Snow ball fights abound here in San Diego! As a parent, I like that Club Penguin is a bit more narrative based, too. I often will see Megan reading pages of text. And every day I catch her reading the site’s blog!

#3 HandiPoints (Cost: FREE Some pay upgrades available on This is a really cool concept. Instead of games competing with parents to get stuff done, HandiPoints is built around the idea that playing games online is a reward. Our kids love to earn points online by doing chores around the house. Parents have their own login area where they set up their child’s task chart. Megan and Paul each have seperate tasks and they can login to their own area to check off their daily tasks and earn points. With the points you can buy stuff like furniture and clothes for your character.

#4 Moshi Monsters (Cost: 100% FREE) This kicks the cuteness factor way up! Our kids love playing with their monsters. Kids adopt and name a monster they help create. The more they play that game and earn rewards, the more control they get over their characters environment and personality. Mom and dad don’t really get the point of this one, but kids love it.

#5 Woogi World (Cost: Free and paid subscription) Our kids dig this site and it has a clear goal parents can understand. “Teaching kids internet safety, life values, and fun!” WW is run by a foundation with a specific goal for the site beyond commerce. So you may want to read up on it before letting your kids join. Individual kids can join, but you can also partner with schools so a whole classroom can create accounts to teach kids about safety. It’s a little like all the rest with a decidely educational and parental bend. Our kids like this one… and I can see teachers and homeschool parents endorsing this one as it is clearly the “safest” for kids, even if it isn’t the most fun.

What do your kids play? What sites are they hooked on? What sites should I have mentioned?

hmm... thoughts Web/Tech

Zloop: Is this the next social network?

zloopLast night I had the chance to talk to Brent Myers, an evangelist for Zloop. Zloop is a new social network that is built around two general concepts:

  1. Security. Your “loops” are private to whom you invite.
  2. Mimics real life. You can control which loops see which side of you.

If you are looking for a more detailed description, here is Zloop’s description: About zloop
(pdf file)

Last night I got an invite and created a few loops. At this point, it’s clear that zloop is in a late Alpha, maybe early Beta testing mode. There are some cool features to this idea and some weaknesses. Here’s what I like/dislike so far.


  • General concept is cool. Kind of like a combo to Facebook/Linkedin. I like being able to manage different
  • File sharing ability. Yup, attachments are cool.
  • Privacy. Cool idea.
  • Loops. Like that I can keep relationships separate, as needed.


  • Missing some obvious components. Web 2.0 site with no RSS? No ability to search loops? No ability to find friends? Weird.
  • No rules. There is no TOS statement… can’t believe it! There’s nothing that stop hate groups or hate loops. Major problem here.
  • It is another profile to manage. Who needs that?

If this were something I could install on my servers, run it as my brand, and manage it within a terms of service… this would be an incredible tool for YMX. But it’s not. As cool as it is I really wonder if it will take off as the current version is not significantly better than Facebook. It has potential, it’s worth checking out, but right now… it’s got some “cool factor” to inject.

Don’t take my word for it, try it! Leave a comment and I’ll send you an invite.