NYC Event: Social Media & Democracy

Posted by Paull Young | Posted in Australia, Current Affairs, Internet | Posted on 20-04-2010


I’m heading to an interesting event put on by the Aussie consulate in NYC tomorrow night, Social Media and Democracy: The New Era of the Citizen Elect (who knew the editor of the WSJ is an Aussie?)

Let me know if you’re in NYC and want to tag along – and yes, I’ll be sure to live-tweet it and post some follow up thoughts here.

From the Advance site:

Victorians Abroad and Advance invite you to Social Media & Democracy: The New Era of the Citizen Elect at 6pm on Wednesday 21 April.

Join leading Victorian, Robert Thomson (Editor-in-Chief, Wall Street Journal) and a thought-provoking panel moderated by Evan Ratliff (Wired) for an eye-opening look at our digital future.

*What is the future of the new era of the ‘citizen elect’?
*What tools can help create a healthier democracy and engender ideas?

*What can the Government of Victoria learn about citizen engagement as it heads into an election year?

*Opportunities, pitfalls and strategies for this new form of digital collective action.
Join us for a behind the scenes look by key Australians and Americans who are leading this exciting new era of governing through social media.

Keynote speaker:

Robert Thomson

Editor-in-Chief, Wall Street Journal


Andrew Rasiej

Founder, Personal Democracy Forum

Vice President of Communications, NARAL Pro-Choice New York / National Institute for Reproductive Health

With questions moderated by:
Evan Ratliff
, contributing editor, Wired magazine and writer for The New Yorker, New York Times, Sunday Magazine, Men’s Journal.

Wednesday 21 April, 2010

6.00pm to 9.00pm


Level 50, 55 Water Street

New York, NY  10041

Talking Transparency with the University of Oregon

Posted by Paull Young | Posted in Internet, Marketing | Posted on 19-04-2010


Last week I did a guest lecture on transparency with my good friend Kelli Matthew’s J412 class at the University of Oregon (via skype – I wish I’d been out there in person!).

Kelli’s students are a bright bunch, so I’ll mainly highlight their thoughts here as they live-tweeted the lecture. I joined them to talk about astroturfing and some other issues as I’m quoted in their course text, Shel Holtz and John Haven’s excellent Tactical Transparency.

My speaking notes were brief and included the examples below along with a look at WOMMA’s code of ethics and Honesty ROI.


Tweets From The Students

Kelli told me her students were a bright bunch and they didn’t disappoint. Here are a selection of their best tweets from the lecture that should give a flavor of the conversation.

Thanks again for being a great audience J412!

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Men are from Mars, Women are Watching Glee

Posted by Paull Young | Posted in Current Affairs, Humour, Internet | Posted on 13-04-2010


This post is spurred by the spontaneous explosion of Glee related excitement stemming from the women I follow on Twitter right at this moment.

Here’s a quick look at the #Glee related enthusiasm appearing in my Twitter stream right now:

But this phenomenon does seem to be isolated to women (well, a few of my gay mates are also pretty darn excited), and the male/female divide has never been more evident than the current Google Hot Trends rankings:

#3: ‘what time is Glee on Tonight?’

#5: ‘Ashley Dupre Playboy pictures’

So essentially, while every woman in America is pining for Glee to start, every male is trying to find pictures of a former call girl in the nud.

NB: If you’re not familiar with Google Hot Trends Wikipedia has a good explanation. I keep track of it via RSS – it’s interesting keeping a finger on the pulse of the zeitgeist via its hourly updates!

Google Hot Trends is an addition to Google Trends which displays the top 20 hot searches (search-terms) of the past hour in the United States. For each of the search-terms, it provides a 24-hour search-volume graph as well as blog, news and web search results. Hot Trends has a history feature for those wishing to browse past hot searches.

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The Utility of Foursquare

Posted by Paull Young | Posted in Internet | Posted on 12-04-2010


Like many of the uber-geeks out there, I’ve become a big fan of location-based social network Foursquare. Like Twitter 3 years back, it’s the domain of early adopters, and just like Twitter it is beginning to draw a lot of hype and attention from marketers.

But does Foursquare hold value for those who don’t live deep within the social media universe? Is accruing badges and broadcasting your whereabouts something that will really breakthrough with the masses? Some recent personal experiences have shown me that there is value: especially when your network of connections hits critical mass.

The first real ‘a-ha’ moment for me came from SXSW this year when Foursquare told me my long-time online friend Beth Kanter was also at Austin airport. This led to a chance tweetup with JD Lasica and others that turned what would have been a frustrating flight delay into an enjoyable experience.

Beth posted a nice rundown of that experience:

When I left SXSW, I used Foursquare to check into the Austin Airport. Three minutes later I got a tweet from a colleague, Robert Fabricant, who I hadn’t seen since we were on the faculty at PopTech and didn’t realize was attending SXSW.  Then I got a dm from Paull Young who I didn’t get a chance to talk to during the conference.

Also delayed was another colleague, JD Lasica. So, instead of reading trashy magazines, I got a chance to have a great conversation with some colleagues.

It demonstrates that you need to have a critical mass of friends using the platform in close proximity.  SXSW and perhaps the NTC would be the only places where that would happen.

Foursquare in Action

This weekend a trip to Chicago (mum is in town from Australia) led to a bunch of truly useful actions, enabled via Foursquare.

After a great brunch with Phil and Leticia Gomes we headed to Chicago’s iconic Art Institute, and my check in revealed that the ‘Mayor’ of that venue gets free access to a special event. In addition, the History Channel provided a few tips alongside those from the crowd.

After leaving the Art Institute we entered Millenium Park, where an innovative Explore Chicago program left some informative Foursquare tips, and another user gave some great advice on how to photograph the famous ‘Bean’ sculpture.

As we headed back to the hotel a tip on Twitter sent us to the Atwood Cafe for a quick bite, upon checking-in Phil Gomes popped up for the second time that day and directed me to order the calamari.

And finally, the day capped off with arrival in Kohler, Wisconsin and spotting a friendly face via my client John Engberg appearing as mayor of their magnificent American Club.

So a day in the life with Foursquare proves it can be pretty darn useful – especially when you’re on the road!

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Australia’s Greatest Social Media Star: Fully Sick Rapper

Posted by Paull Young | Posted in Australia, Humour, Internet | Posted on 09-04-2010


Christiaan Van Vurren is the greatest contribution Australia’s made to the social media scene.

Fighting tuberculosis, his excessive time locked in quarantine has given him plenty of time to produce a bunch of hilarious YouTube videos via his alter ego the ‘Fully Sick Rapper‘.


And to make a serious point, I actually think this is a great (if extreme) example of Clay Shirky’s thesis on ‘social surplus’. Essentially, the rise of social tools and self-publishing allows humanity to use their ‘social surplus’ to create and add value, as opposed to dumbly sitting in front of a television screen.

Much the same as peasants would drink themselves into a gin stupor during the industrial revolution, and also how in the past a bloke in quarantine would have to spend his days reading, watching DVDs and masticating (you’ve gotta watch the vid above to get that joke), instead of producing media that is generating hundreds of thousands of views and global attention.

Howard Rheingold on the Internet & the Public Sphere

Posted by Paull Young | Posted in Internet | Posted on 06-04-2010


Howard Rheingold, one of the earliest and deepest thinkers on virtual communities and online interaction (wayyy before social media hit the scene), has a great 10 minute video with some thoughts on the Public Sphere in the Age of the Internet.

A great quote from the end of the video when Rheingold quotes Future Forecaster Paul Saffo: “You oughta look twice as far backwards if you want to look forward

Clay Shirky and the Complexity of Video

Posted by Paull Young | Posted in Internet | Posted on 01-04-2010


Clay Shirky, brilliant as always, had some interesting thoughts on the rising simplicity of video.

The full post is worth a read, and a couple of pars stood out for me:

The most watched minute of video made in the last five years shows baby Charlie biting his brother’s finger. (Twice!) That minute has been watched by more people than the viewership of American Idol, Dancing With The Stars, and the Superbowl combined. (174 million views and counting.)

Some video still has to be complex to be valuable, but the logic of the old media ecoystem, where video had to be complex simply to be video, is broken. Expensive bits of video made in complex ways now compete with cheap bits made in simple ways. “Charlie Bit My Finger” was made by amateurs, in one take, with a lousy camera. No professionals were involved in selecting or editing or distributing it. Not one dime changed hands anywhere between creator, host, and viewers. A world where that is the kind of thing that just happens from time to time is a world where complexity is neither an absolute requirement nor an automatic advantage.

When ecosystems change and inflexible institutions collapse, their members disperse, abandoning old beliefs, trying new things, making their living in different ways than they used to. It’s easy to see the ways in which collapse to simplicity wrecks the glories of old. But there is one compensating advantage for the people who escape the old system: when the ecosystem stops rewarding complexity, it is the people who figure out how to work simply in the present, rather than the people who mastered the complexities of the past, who get to say what happens in the future.

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