Wednesday, May 7, 2008


One thing that we haven't talked about all semester is virtual communication. We talked about Second Life, which is more of a social networking tool, and about AIM and such but never about talking with people face to face on the internet. Skype can be used just as AIM is used to meet people. The only difference is that you can make your name public so that people do not need your screen name to find you. You don't have to enter a chat room or anything. However, this can be very scary. The moment I attempted to make my name public, I was getting at least four or five instant messages and invitations to chat in a matter of minutes. These people were clearly looking for conversations that I was not willing to have. I blocked them immediately and made my name private again.

When my boyfriend was in Spain studying abroad, Skype saved us. Communicating to Spain is cheaper than in previous years but still very expensive. We would plan on times to talk during the day that he could be in a location with wireless so he could Skype. However, this was not easy seeing that there was a five hour time difference. I would have to wake up really early or he would have to stay at school very late in order to talk (the house where he was staying did not have wireless). I can see why companies doing Business with each other have a difficult time having conferences. There is no convenient time for everyone when people are trying to work together from across the country.

Another problem with Skype is that the face to face chatting had to be done with wireless. If the computer was simply plugged in to an internet line, the connection would be too slow and cause the screen to freeze up very often. Video chatting is very fun and makes internet communication more personal. Computers no longer have to take kids away from personal interactions because they can do the same thing through the computer. However, Skype should develop some restrictions for younger users to prevent creepy people from contacting them. All of the random chats freaked me out and there is no telling what more naive children would think or get themselves into.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Expansion is not always a good thing

Social Networks today are beginning to attempt to accomplish too many things at once. It is difficult to keep the profiles consistent so that they might be useful.

Facebook-- As most everyone knows Facebook has been coming out with application after application for facebook pages. It started out with a few quizzes here and there, a few game apps, super poke and super wall applications that allow more options when posting on a wall or poking a friend. On holidays you could virtually hang mistletoe over a loved one or throw a party for a friend. However, applications snowballed. Now, there are too many applications to count and you constantly get requests to add another one to your page. There is no way for the applications to be useful and fun anymore because not everyone has the same ones. Also, they made the facebook pages cluttered and did not add anything to the main purpose of "networking."

Too Many to Count-- Another problem with social networks is that there are simply too many. There is almost no way to keep track of all the networks out there. There is not one place that employers can go to search for potential employees because their resumes can be posted on a number of different sites. is not the only place that people from your high school might be searching for you and not everyone may have a LinkedIn account so you might not be able to find the person you are looking for because you are missing a connection.

I know first hand that there are simply way too many social networks on the web. The woman who owns the travel agency that I work for wants me to post her events on as many pages as I can. This means that I have to find all networks that are either travel, jewish or singles (the travel agency used to be only for jewish singles but is now branching out). We attempt to find sites that might be useful that will either allow us to post the trips on a free calendar or a place that might partner with us and provide a link to our site in exchange with providing a link to their site on our page. However, it is difficult to figure out which sites will help us most. We started off with a list of about 400 different social networking sites and Jewish Community sites! Imagine how long that takes to go through and figure out which ones might actually be helpful and which ones won't be.

It is just becoming more and more difficult to contact the people we want to. Somehow, these sites need to be consolidated, which could possibly happen naturally through competition. The ease and simplicity of social networking sites will eventually make the difference. I think that there will always be a place for social networking sites that cater to very specific audiences but the general sites will have to endure a fight before making it.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Google Docs Posts on my Blog: Assignment #3

So when I was publishing my group's assignment #3, I saw that there was an option to post to my blog. I just wanted to test it out and see if it worked. Guess it did! So, here is assignment #3 (I only posted my part because you prob won't read the whole thing because it is really long). If you want to view the full document go here here.

Katie Acuff

Social Networking and Business

Assignment #3

Sometimes people just need to voice their opinions in somewhere other than a personal journal.  Blogs have become the place for just that.  It does not matter what the topic is, a blog can be found or created.  Have a problem in your work place? Then, send your problem to the HR Lady, there is no doubt that she will give you an upfront opinion about what should be done.  Want to learn how to cook with different kinds of salt?  No problem, look up Deglazed. Matt, the computer nerd turned culinary master, would love to give you a lesson.  Outraged about the state of schools in the US? The NYC educator will be sure to let you know that it's even worse than you thought.  These are just three bloggers out of millions and they cover a wide range of topics as it is.  There is no doubt that you can find a blog on any topic that sparks your curiosity, but whether it is worth reading or not is the question.  There are definitely some things that can make a blog stand out and some things that can set it back.  For this assignment, I went through some of the best blogs to find out what really works. 

Evil HR Lady


Writing Style: The Evil HR Lady has a slightly different approach to her posts than most blogs I have read.  She will pose a problem or question submitted by reader in italics and then goes on to describe the situation in greater length and really pick it apart.  She is very upfront and opinionated, but not in a good way.  I really like to hear different opinions on topics, but in this case, her opinions are very self centered and irritating.  I feel like she tells the reader what to think instead of allowing the reader to form their own thoughts.  I almost feel as if I posted something in opposition to her blog entry she would snap back at me and tell me that I am wrong.  

    The posts on the Evil HR Lady blog tend to be longer than desired in my opinion.  I read about half way through and I feel as if she drags on her point and could have cut a lot of words.  While the wording is easy to read, the posts are not concise.  


Writing style evolution: The evolution of this blog has been formed not by the writer's commentary but by the questions submitted.  As time has gone on, the questions and dilemmas have gotten to be more complex, deserving more extensive answers.  The questions and answers have gotten longer and longer.  However, as the posts have gone on she finally stopped referring to herself in third person, which was much less irritating.


What attracts comments: Up until recently, there have been about 2-8 comments on each post of the Evil HR Lady blog.  Now, each post gets anywhere between 10 and 20 comments for each post (which makes sense seeing as the blog made the "Best Business Blogs" list at the end of 2007).  The posts that get the most comments tend to be the posts that affect more people than just the writer.  For example, the post with the most comments is about paid time off.  Most people have a very strong opinion about what they think they should get as far as vacation time and sick days go.  Also, this topic can spark a lot of discussion because there is no consistency in companies and their policies on time off.  

    The posts that attract the least comments tend to be those where it seems like the Evil HR Lady has addressed all sides of the dilemma and therefore does not seem welcome to posts (because she clearly knows all about the topic).  


Gadgets and Advertising:  There are very few gadgets on this blog, much less than the blogs we have created for class. There are very few small icons at the very bottom right side of the page that allow you to see the site's stats and a visitor counter.  The only things that she includes on her blog are links to HR sites and things that she reads.  There is also no advertising on her blog except for the small picture that you can click on to see that her blog made the "Best Business Blogs" list.  While it is nice to not have many distractions on the page, it makes the blog seem a little bit less legitimate.  If the blog had not made the "Best Blogs" list, I may not have trusted the HR Lady's credentials.


Writing Style: Matt, the blogger responsible for "Deglazed" writes with very clear jargon.  I can almost hear someone saying what is written on the page.  The language is how anyone would speak to a friend and therefore makes it fun to read.  The thing I like about the posts are that they allow us to follow his thoughts and day to day activities.  He tells funny stories that relate to the food content of the post, since, after all, it is a blog about food.  The only problem with giving the reader information about himself is that occasionally it makes his blogs a little longer than desired.  I read about three fourths of the entry and then am ready to move on to the next no matter how interesting the post is.  However, most of the blog entries are a great length. 

Writing Style Evolution: Surprisingly, the authors writing style has not evolved much over time.  He has stayed very consistent from the beginning.  This is an odd case though.  The author of this blog has switched from a career in computer programming and online marketing.  I am sure that through online marketing he learned how to conduct himself online.  The writer of the blog has had a sense of purpose from the very beginning with his blog.  He has a very clear personality through his writing and has kept it constant.  He has a great sense of humor which adds greatly to a blog that has the potential to be a very bland and straight forward blog about cooking.

What attracts comments: The reader can definitely tell when the writer of the blog is excited about something that he is writing about, whether it's a great new recipe or a movie that he loved.  The posts that have an attitude of excitement tend to get the most comments on this blog.  However, the comments are typically not very long because they are simply thanking Matt for a suggestion he made or complementing him on a recipe.  Also, something I find very impressive, he gets a lot of posts when he asks for suggestions.  He asked for a suggestion about what would make a good winter pizza and people definitely seemed to have their own opinions.  

Gadgets and Advertising: The main gadget used on Deglazed is Stumble Upon.  I like that this is used because it is a fun site and something I would like to run into when I am bored.  It shows that it is a light hearted blog and is meant for enjoyment.  The only other gadgets are for making the blog a favorite on different accounts like Yahoo, MSN, AOL and Technorati.  As far as advertising on this blog goes, the advertising used is simple. They are the sites that have given his blog praise and sites that he finds entertaining. 

NYC Educator

Writing Style: The writing style of this blog is a little bit less conversational than other blogs.  However, it's an education blog so it has to be, right?  The topic of this blog makes it difficult to be lighthearted and fun to read, so it's not.  Instead, the blog uses the interesting facts and the bleakness of the situation facing US schools to attract readers.  The writer does add humor through pointing out the ironic comments from people who have a significant influence on the education system.  It is so sad that it is almost funny.  The writer finds the holes and pitfalls in the arguments made by government officials.  He is very blunt about the situation and seems as if he feels there is not much hope.  

    In each post, there is a lot of information as well as commentary.  Some posts rely on facts about schools and some rely on his thoughts and narration of his experiences within the schools.  The balance really contributes to his point that nothing is really improving in the school system.  The author does a great job at making sure the posts are not too long so as to keep the reader's attention. 

Writing Style Evolution: The blog entries have evolved slightly from the blog's beginning in May of 2005.  The entries are more in depth about the topics he presents.  The writer ads more of his opinions and has gained more of a sense of humor as if he has become jaded.  He continues to experience the downfalls of the schools today and find the ironies in public policy and school board decisions. 

What Attracts Comments: Since the NYC Educator blog addresses so many controversial topics about the United States education system, there does not seem to be a pattern in the blog entries that attract the most comments.  The beginning entries on his blog have little to no comments, however, they also rarely have tags.  As he continues blogging he ads more tags, which seem to increase comments on his posts.  There is a definite positive correlation between the quality and number of tags and number of comments on each entry.  

Gadgets and Advertising: This blogger does a great job with adding pictures to each post which can draw people in to the article.  However, once again this blogger does not use many gadgets.  He advertises other blogs that he has enjoyed and where his blog has been ranked highly but that's really it. You can also see the websites that probably inspire many of his posts, sites about the problems with education today.  By adding those sites, he adds legitimacy to his posts because you can go and get the solid facts and see that he is not just making things up.  I guess you can include the normal site traffic tracking as a gadget but it is small and not very noticeable.   

    The writing styles of the blogs that I reviewed are all very similar.  They have a colloquial feel and all add a little bit of humor to their posts.  The writers all pose questions to the audience in one way or another which encourages reader interaction.  The trick of great blogging seems to be approaching a usual topic in an unusual way along with adding appropriate tags to make the entry searchable.  If a writer can make the reader think about something in a different way encourages continuous interest and commentary. Also, an important thing in blogging is to use gadgets sparingly (or maybe I am finding that this is just a pet peeve of mine). A moderate use of gadgets is best.  Too many provide too many distractions for the reader and too few make you wonder if the writer knows much about blogging. 


List of tips that can help your blogs:

  • Write as you speak
  • Include videos, pictures and/or graphics (it visually supports your message)
  • Keep track of your readers and their comments
  • Allow comments from your readers to get feedback from them
  • Keep your blogging style consistent
  • Don't include to many gadgets and widgets that might create distraction from the content of the blog
  • Add something about yourself to show that you have some sort of credibility
  • Make sure each post has a point and is relevant
  • To increase popularity, find a different way of talking about current issues, approach usual topics in unusual ways
  • Don't include too much advertising, your blog might be confused for a commercial website
  • Make sure posts are not too long, be concise
  • Create interesting and relevant tags for each of your posts to get noticed
  • Organization is key, make sure your readers can navigate your website
  • When you decide to voice a controversial opinion, make it aware that the opinion is your own and encourage conversation regarding it. 



Sunday, April 13, 2008

Need an escort? Call your cell phone

Admittedly, I am one of those college students that absolutely has to be connected at all times. I have an iPhone and use it constantly. However, I agree with the idea that all the gadgets out on the market are encouraging students to be social, not just on their computer. I never have to run back to my room to check my e-mail to check for an e-mail from my boss or from the people I babysit for. If there are any last minute changes in assignments for a class, I can always be on top of it.

Along with staying in contact with important people in my life, my cell phone makes me feel safer. I would definitely rather have a cell phone with a GPS tracking device in it than not have a cell phone at all. In fact, this past weekend I left my cell phone at a friends apartment and I didn't have it for Friday night and all day Saturday. When the people I babysit for asked me to babysit from 8-1030 on Saturday night, I told them I would if they could drive me back to campus afterward. I did not feel comfortable walking back, even though it is just a few blocks from campus, without my cell phone. I also feel much safer with my phone when driving because of the maps application. I know that if I get lost anywhere, I will be able to find my way back. The maps application is starting to be one of those things that I don't know how I ever did without.

While a GPS escort system is a good idea, I wonder how many students will actually use it. I mean, there is no harm to creating it and promoting its use, it might be a waste of money. The expensive to implement the service might outweigh the benefits of its service. But then again, if one life is saved, then it is worth it, right? The expenses I am thinking of is putting the equipment in campus police stations and how many times the call will end up being bogus. Will it really allow police enough time to get to the location? And, it depends on how legitimate the campus police are. Often, the campus police is not a necessarily trusted source of safety (even though they should be). I know that if something happened to me I would call the local police station way before I called campus police.

Although GPS locating can be very scary, I would not give up having my phone and access to the internet. The GPS capabilities can be turned on and off and therefore should only be on if the person is using it at the time. The escort system is a cool idea; I just wonder how useful it will end up being in the long run.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Wiki wiki

Information sources such as Wikipedia simply cannot be relied upon for updated and verified information. Although there is a good chance that the information is correct, there is also a good chance that the information sways in one direction or the other. There is no way to know who was the last editor of the article and where they got their information as well.

Political information is a prime target for misrepresentation of information. It is so easy for someone to write slanderous words against a candidate they do not like or to glorify a candidate they do. Professional blogs are slightly more reliable than wikipedia because posts have to be looked at before publishing them online. Debates about political figures usually attract people who are of one extreme opinion or another. If you think about it, the only people who are going to take their time to voice their opinion on a wikipedia page are people who think very strongly about an issue, not the average middle of the road people.

However, the great thing about Wikipedia and other sites is that it provides free advertising. As government elections become more and more expensive, the web is a way to curb a few costs. Wikipedia and individual's blogs are a great way to get the word out about the favorite candidate. The information necessary to make your decision is all on the web. Facts and opinions are all presented in different formats on the web and available through many different seach engines, blogs and sites. Sorting through the information simply takes time and patience, not to mention the smarts to ignore extreme comments.

Monday, March 31, 2008


While I like the idea of blogs doing the work for us in finding jobs, I also worry that as the dialogue within the blogs become more widely accepted, the internet will begin to become bland. The extreme opinions and thoughts presented on blogs add color to the world and reminds me how different people can be. If people feel as though they cannot write their true thoughts on the internet, postings will become bland. If you are applying to a job within an IT department of a company, the employers should not care about a crazy weekend you had with your friends in college. What is the world without extreme points of view? If we truly watch what we say on our blogs in order not to hurt anyones feelings or disagree with a potential employer, then political debates wouldn't even be able to be posted. Yes, I know, maybe I am taking this to the extreme. However, if you think about it, a simple post about a political candidate could hurt you for getting a job if it disagrees with the potential employers thoughts on the subject. As we become more and more aware of what we are posting on the web the information will become bland.

American History textbooks are a great example of how being too careful can hurt. As people become more political about the textbooks, the publishers have to attempt to please everyone. The textbooks cannot make the United States look bad and cannot sway too much to the left or the right of the political spectrum. Everything inside textbooks must be 100% PC. Children are learning only parts of American History and not the full story. They are told what to think instead of having both sides presented and being allowed to make their own decision on the matter.

Just as textbooks are leaving out important info due to censoring, so will the internet if we try too hard to appease everyone. Having opinions and voicing them is not always a bad thing. If there could just be a way where people can present their ideas freely on the internet as well as use it for career and job purposes. For now, we have to post anonymous blogs without any trace of ourselves attached.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Social News websites are definitely a great source of free advertising for small businesses. I just recently got a job working for a woman who owns an independent travel agency and operates it from her own home. Previously, the target market for the travel agency was jewish singles. Now, it is more simply for people who want to take an off beat adventurous international trip. I have realized through her agency how important social news sites are.

My job for the Steppin' Out Adventures Travel Agency is to keep up with event postings on all of the various social networks and social news sites. Some sites even have a calendar where anyone can post upcoming events. Through posting on all of the sites, we will be able to figure out what generates the most site hits and what sites are really worth the time. Attached to her home site is a tracker that will tell the administrator where they get the most people. The amazing thing to me is that she knows exactly what needs to be done, it is just the time that is needed. In order to keep up with all of the social news sites, a lot of time is needed. I am hired for 10-15 hours a week to just make sure that all of the sites are up to date and all the upcoming trips are advertised well.

I have already learned so much from the owner even though I have only had one meeting. She is really good at keeping up with contacts. Any e-mails she gets from travel companies, jewish groups, singles groups, or anyone who could be a potential market, she sends an e-mail back telling them about her upcoming trips. She keeps all the mass e-mails and keeps track of who she has told about what. She is always open to new markets and keeps all her contacts because she will never know when they might want to put a trip together with her.

There are just too many social news sites on the web that companies really have to do their research to figure out what is worth their time. The market is divided in to so many different segments that establishing a target market is very important if you do not want to waste your time. However, flexibility is also needed in case your original target market is slightly off.

I will make sure to keep you updated about all the new things I learn through my new internship! It should be really interested and perfect for this course!

The picture above is from