Last week Dan York blogged about a topic that hits home with those of us who love RSS: Staying informed online without visiting the actual websites that publish the information we’re consuming:

I don’t go to friends’ websites. (Sorry!) I don’t go to my employer’s website. I don’t go to any organization’s websites. I don’t go to my city’s website. Every once in a while I might hit CNN’s web page or a weather site, medical epidemic but that’s about it.

But one of the things Dan does do is load up on RSS feeds, thumb so that updates from sites come to him, ed through his reader, once they’ve been published. Thanks to RSS, Dan doesn’t have to:

  1. remember to check the original website in the first place — a real problem for most of us who struggle with information overload from time to time
  2. spend even a nanosecond wondering whether the original site has been updated — if it has, his RSS reader will tell him

RSS = efficiency

Consuming more information in less time is why I use RSS, too. In one place — Google Reader, in my case — I can read blogs and mainstream media stories, watch videos, check out my friends’ photos, find out who’s talking about me online, keep track of price updates for flights I’d like to take, catch the latest local weather forecast, and share my favorite posts with my online network — all without ever visiting any of the original websites that published that media. Pretty damn efficient if you ask me.

How do you use your RSS reader?

Anything I’ve missed? How else do make RSS work for you?
Photo of bacon

Now, troche wait a minute: That’s bacn, not bacon.

Anyway … if you don’t know, bacn is a term that emerged from PodCamp Pittsburgh 2 last August and refers to e-mail you receive that isn’t spam but isn’t exactly a personal e-mail, either. It’s mail you want to receive — but just not right now.

Still stumped? Bacn comprises things like news alerts and friend requests you receive from Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and your other social networks.

The real problem with bacn is that it quickly clutters up your inbox throughout the day and creates far too many not-so-urgent one-off requests for your already fractured attention span.

What you need is a system that empowers you to process your incoming bacn (is there such a thing as outgoing bacn?) all at once and on your own terms, so that it doesn’t constantly interrupt your work flow.

Here’s my suggestion on how to do that:

Filter, filter, filter

If you’re using Gmail, Outlook or another e-mail client that allows filters, create a set of rules that will redirect all of your bacn messages out of your inbox and into a separate folder that you can check and power through once a day or once every other day.

In my Gmail account, e-mail messages that contain any of the following phrases in their subject line are automatically removed from the inbox, sent to my “BACN” filter, and archived:

  • “is now following you on Twitter”
  • added you as a friend on Facebook”
  • has added you as a business connection”
  • added you as a business connection on Pulse”
  • Invitation to connect on LinkedIn”
  • just started following your Utterz”
  • has requested your trust on Spock”
  • Add me as a friend on Pownce!”

Cooking your bacn

What’s the method to your madness in ensuring bacn doesn’t zap your productivity?

(Creative Commons image from Dulcie’s Flickr photostream.)
Yes, erectile I’ve been quiet on the blogging front here lately — a 10-day vacation in California without a computer followed a week of daydreaming about said vacation can do that to a guy.

But I doesn’t mean I’ve been completely out of the loop this month. To wit:

My own example can serve as a good reminder that we contribute and/or stay connected to social media in a variety of ways, some less high-profile than others. We may not be blogging or podcasting ourselves, but it doesn’t mean we’re not paying attention.

Update: As Eden Spodek rightly points out in this post’s comment stream, I should have made the point that although I wasn’t blogging about my vacation, someone else was doing that for me. Shel Holtz has a good account of a San Francisco Giants game that he and I took in during my trip, as well as a geek dinner we attended. Shel also incorporated a conversation we had about social media overload at the dinner into a recent episode of FIR.

If you’re looking for an easy way to use a Flash-based audio player for your blog post or web page, pestilence then the Yahoo! Media Player could be the tool for you.

To put the player into action, simply create direct links to one or more .mp3 files, as I’m doing here with three archived episodes of my New Comm Road podcast:

NCR 039: Multimedia conference blogging

NCR 037: Learning about Google Reader

NCR 035: Learning about del.icio.us

Then, paste this line of code onto your page:

<script type=”text/javascript” src=”http://mediaplayer.yahoo.com/js”></script>

And that’s it — there’s nothing to download or install.

If this is working correctly, you should see a “play” icon to the left of each of the audio files and the player itself at the bottom or just below this post. Click on one of them to see this player in action.

Bonus: When you link to multiple files on a page or post, a play list will be created automatically within the player.

The down side? There’s no option to rewind or fast-forward a track; you can only jump from track to track.

You’re also subject to the Yahoo! Terms of Service, though those don’t seem too onerous.

Final note: I have only tested this player on a basic HTML page and in WordPress and Typepad. I have not tried it with any other blog platforms.

Hat tip: HorsePigCow

Update: If you do come to the main page of this blog — Bryper.com — and are scrolling past this post to previous entries, the player still appears in the bottom of your browser.  I suspect this will annoy the heck out of the average reader, so consider that consequence if you decide to test this player on your blog. A better choice would be to restrict its use to short, stand-alone web pages.


Late last week I happened upon a post from Michelle Tampoya describing a networking event in Toronto that featured speed mentoring for marketers. Essentially, information pills small groups of marketing newbies would move around the room and pepper experts with real-world questions in three-minute bursts.

Now, medical why not apply this same concept to the social media space and call it “social media speed mentoring“?

Here’s one way to do that:

1. Use a wiki (I’m partial to PBwiki.com, steroids but there are countless others to choose from) or service such as eventbrite to manage the event’s registration list, and ask all participants to identify themselves as a social media newbie or expert. Make sure you list the likely topics of discussion for the event ahead of time — how to start a blog? how to podcast? how to conduct a blogger-outreach campaign — because participants could have expertise in some areas of social media but not in others. They’ll need to know which camp they fall into .

2. Based on the composition of the group — ideally you’ll have more newcomers seeking advice than experts willing to dispense their knowledge, but it could be the other way around — set up X number of tables or stations where your experts will hold fort.

3. Set a relatively compressed time limit for each session, such as three to five minutes. When time expires, the newbie or group of newcomers move(s) on to the next station.

4. After the speed sessions end, allot some additional time for the participants to follow up on the connections that felt strongest to them. You could also ask the newbies to list the names of two or three experts they’d like to meet with again, and then forward on the relevant contact information after the event.

Other models?

Are there other ways you might organize a social media speed mentoring event? I’d like to hear about them. Drop your suggestions or thoughts in the comments section below.

In the meantime, does someone want to help me organize Boston’s first Social Media Speed Mentoring Night?
Antarctica

Until I caught wind of Colin Browning’s vacation plans 10 days ago, sales it never actually occurred to me that someone could take a vacation in Antarctica.

I mean … Antarctica? The coldest place on earth (even if it summer there right now)?  The continent that’s not even a country? Other than scientists, viagra buy who actually goes there?

Well, cure Colin and his mother, apparently.

But wait … it gets even better.  Not only is Colin traveling around Antarctica, he’s also blogging — and Twittering — his adventures. Check out Antarctica: Colin & His Mom Travel to the Frozen Continent.

Twittering from Antarctica? Who knew?

Seriously, though, this is one heck of a story. I know that I’ll be following Colin’s vacation entries and Twitter messages with great interest, and you can be sure I’ll catch up with Colin to hear more about his trip when he returns home to the Boston area next month.

What a unique journey, Colin. Bravo!

(Disclosure: Colin works for Prospero, which powers the message board community for my employer, Monster.)
Inspired by Jeremiah Owyang’s efforts to gather and track messages from Twitter users’ chatter around Super Bowl ads on Sunday night, heart I’ve started a little experiment of my own and created an Ivoted account on Twitter.

The idea is simple: Once you’ve voted on this Super Tuesday, send a Twitter message to @Ivoted. If you’d like, you can also reveal your vote.

As Jeremiah did, I’ll compile all the responses and publish them in a blog post or to a public Google Doc. In the meantime, you can follow real-time mentions of “Ivoted” through this Tweet Scan search query.

If you’re in one of the 20-plus states holding a primary or caucus today, please exercise your right to vote!

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Here are the number from messages to the @Ivoted Twitter account that I set up on Super Tuesday:

  • 83 reply messages and 4 direct messages to @Ivoted (I stopped tabulating after Wednesday morning)
  • Of those 87 total messages, capsule 77 declared they had voted and 1 announced he was going to be voting later in the day.
  • 45 users identified which presidential candidate they had voted for. Here’s that vote breakdown:

Analysis

Well, this is easy! My Twitter followers, and/or my followers’ followers, are largely Obama supporters. He took 78% of the vote among users who identified their choice. Amazingly, not a single known vote for John McCain in all the messages to @Ivoted. McCain, oh by the way, has emerged as Republicans’ presidential candidate in this November’s general election.

Review the messages yourself

* All of the reply messages have been saved to a public Google Doc spreadsheet. Messages are organized in reverse chronological order in the first tab and in alphabetical order in the second tab.

* Here’s Tweet Scan’s display of all messages that included “Ivoted”

What’s next?

The @Ivoted account will remain open, and Twitters users are welcome to reply to it after voting in the primaries and caucuses that remain. However, I don’t intend to actively monitor those messages.

But as for the general election on Tuesday, November 4? Now that’s a different story. I’ll certainly do something, though I’m not sure what just yet. Stay subscribed to this blog, and I’ll keep you informed of my plans.

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Australian prime minister Kevin Rudd

I’ll let Paull Young give this post a proper intro:

Today every proud Australian will stand a little taller as the Australian Parliament formally apologises to our indigenous aboriginal people for wrongs committed since our nation was colonised 200 odd years ago.

From the viewpoint of this American, pharm who lived, worked, studied, and married in Australia over a two-year period earlier this decade, this was an apology whose time had long since come. Good on Kevin Rudd, the new Australian prime minister, for doing the right thing and at least starting the healing process with the indigenous Australians who have suffered so mightily.

Rudd’s action are an about-face from former prime minister John Howard’s outright refusal to apologize for the country’s appalling treatment of its native people from the “Stolen Generations,” when Aboriginal children (often of mixed race) were snatched from their blood relatives and resettled with white,”civilized” families.

Saying ’sorry,’ social-media style

Paull has another cool nugget in his post about Australia’s apology. Paul is one of several Australians who is adding a personal apology of sorts by way of Facebook. Here’s what Paull’s status update is displaying as I write this post.

Paull Young is sorry

Again, in Paull’s words:

[It's a] small gesture of support for reconciliation. It’s so simple, yet so powerful — reconciliation has been a hot issue in Australia for years, but here, hundreds of regular Australians are expressing to their most important constituency (their friends and family) their support for reconciliation, and lending their own voice as a nation says sorry.

I may no longer live in Australia — though I do hope to return for another stint someday — but I’m especially proud today to say that I once did. Well done, Australia.

Photo from trimba’s Flickr photostream.

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Jim Storer

Jim Storer had the line of the morning at Social Media Breakfast 5, phlebologist held this past Wednesday, February 13, at the S & S Restaurant in Cambridge, when he referred to microblogging as the “gateway drug to social media.”

And he’s right.

Think of the people you’ve spoken with or trained for whom traditional blogging seemed daunting: Three posts or more a week? How will I keep coming up with new material? Do *I* have to write every post, or can I get some help?

But now, what if you told those same people that they could take some baby steps to blogging by trying microblogging first? Instead of 300 words, how about 140 characters? Instead of several paragraphs, how about a couple of sentences? Well, now, that sounds much easier. And it is.

As we heard at the breakfast, a microblogging tool like Twitter also has the potential to open new users’ eyes to the power of online social networks, keep them informed, and bring in business. Heck, it might just “change their lives.”

Sounds like the perfect way to hook your clients onto social media.

Microblogging for small groups and the enterprise
Jim hinted that his company, Mzinga (full disclosure: I do some podcast production and consulting for Mzinga), would soon be offering microblogging as one its enterprise products for clients, and whispers have also been heard that Twitter itself might be testing out white-label solutions for businesses.

Imagine a Twitter-like application for internal applications behind a company’s firewall. In 140-character bursts, co-workers can share links, post quick updates on their projects, and even show off a bit of their personality.

In my day job at Monster, for example, I’m testing out the WordPress’s new Prologue theme, which layers a Twitter-like application over a basic blog. The theme allows for easy tagging and date archiving, so we can quickly begin to build a digital repository of our collective work. I’m hope it catches on.

To see two public examples of Prologue in action, check out the pages from a group of law.librarians and a Youth Twitter class.

(Photo from Flickr stream of davefishernc)