Category: - Clips and Phrases A Personal-ish Sometimes Blog by Miriam Jayne
 
 
This question recently came up in an online group I'm part of (this is an edited version of the ask, keeping the questioner and the group anonymous):

What is the benefit of "Jewish" learning and conversation about social media, online comms or video when the content is arguably secular?
...I wonder if... we aren't collectively imposing a filter on learning from outside the Jewish community. A cognitive tax penalty on useful information that isn't overtly Jewish, from Jews, for Jews, or in a Jewishly convened space. A way of moving slower, on purpose, because a particular useful info-nugget or best practice didn't come from a Jewish authorized source.
The best real world evidence for this might be the proliferation of synagogue membership software that is often more expensive, harder to use, with less features, than what is available to anyone willing to browse the database market...


It was a prescient question. Here's what I wrote in response:
A couple things (and I can't guarantee this is going to be any different than what you've heard elsewhere, but hey)-It's because there is value to learning about social media from/with other Jews because of commonality of language, environment, experience, community, goals, etc. (The same could be argued about the nonprofit community - yes, learning about the ways businesses, governments, individuals, and other kinds of groups are using these tools is valuable, but there's a different set of concerns or values or a worldview that it's also important to address.)

It's because social media isn't about technology (well, it is, but you know), it's about people, and we're all talking about one particular group of people. (Not to suggest that Jews are at all homogeneous.)

It's also because it feels safe. And maybe validating. And it's just what we do. 

And I'm sure there are other reasons. 

And, to be honest, I think a lot of us are actively learning about these things outside of the Jewish world - individually. I went to NTEN (and the #SM4NP conference, and New York Social Media Week) and can name 10 other "professional Jews" from the area off the top of my head who also went. We're bringing that learning back to our community, and groups like this, and even keeping up ties with those folks we learned from/with in those spaces. 

I do think the Jewish community does a lot of "navel-gazing" (not a term I've ever really used, but I keep hearing it). We too often look to ourselves - and only ourselves - for answers and fall behind because of it. And I think many of us who work in an open, social, networked way, and rely on these technologies, and see the benefit in them aren't necessarily the ones deciding which synagogue membership software is best. In that respect, you're touching more on a generational/leadership issue than a social media one.

I'm glad you asked the question; I think it's an important and relevant one. I'd be curious to hear others' responses.

And I'd be curious to hear yours...
 
originally posted on JewPoint0, Darim Online's blog

Any “Sex and the City” fans out there? Me – guilty as charged. Skip down to the paragraph that begins with “in talking to” if you’d prefer to avoid the fabulousness that’s about to ensue…

The following clip does an especially great job of illustrating a point I’ve been thinking about a lot lately. (Be forewarned there is some naughty language sprinkled here and there.)
Carrie, the show’s witty protagonist, has just been broken up with by a depressingly lovable fellow writer, Berger. But she’s not so much upset about the break-up as she is bewildered at the medium through which the break-up message was conveyed: that most ubiquitous of office supplies, the Post-It. It’s clear to the stylish gaggle of ladies who lunch that the message and it’s delivery do not line up.

In talking to both individuals and groups about social media, many colleagues and I tend to stress that “it’s just a tool.” At the same time, we all know full well that social media is much more than that.

Here’s an analogy; let’s talk about food. Here in the U.S., eating is primarily done with forks and knives. Those are our tools and we don’t think too much about it. But what happens when those tools are traded out for a row of six different forks, or a pair of chopsticks, or a communal piece of flat bread? The cultural implications of the tools with which we eat are suddenly brought to the forefront.

Change the tool, and (to some extent) you change the culture. Or, similarly, to quote Marshall McLuhan, the medium is the message.

To touch briefly back on the aforementioned saga, Carrie later goes on a rant about how a break-up should ideally be handled. She stresses that the message of ending a relationship should be delivered in a way that honors what the two people had together. Essentially, the message and the medium should match.

I’m confident everyone reading this post has had moments like this – moments in which we’ve questioned what is appropriate to share (or find out) via Facebook, or over email, or in a text. The screenshot below illustrates a very mild example.
And it’s not only due to issues of public vs. private in these spaces, but something deeper. There’s something about posting certain messages on Twitter, for instance, that feels like the digital equivalent of breaking up on a Post-It. But these media are all developing so quickly, becoming so deeply ingrained into our lives and even onto our physical selves, that’s it’s often unclear how to draw these boundaries. Or whether it is a fool’s errand to try to do so.*

How can an organization keep up and be successful in this environment? I’ll give you my thoughts on this in a follow-up post. But now, I’d love to hear yours. Have you ever had a Post-It moment? What are your impressions of the relationship between the medium and the message? What are the implications for Jewish organizations in the connected age?

*To further complicate the matter, “social media” is not some monolithic beast. The term refers to a field, a loose configuration of platforms and spaces that allow for certain kinds of interaction. Each space has developed a culture of its own. There are behavioral and conversational norms that are perfectly acceptable in one space that would seem quite odd in another. For instance, sharing pictures of your breakfast has become fairly acceptable on Facebook; doing so in LinkedIn may not go over so well. (But now I’ve gone off about food again…) 
 
originally posted in EJewishPhilanthropy
written by my colleague Rebecca Saidlower, Associate Director of Marketing at The Jewish Education Project, and me

The social media revolution means big things for nonprofits. Social media demands a kind of openness and authenticity that can be challenging, but also empowering. Now more than ever our friends, fans, and followers can connect with us (and we with them) immediately and personally. The recent release of Facebook Timeline for Pages provides a new opportunity for your nonprofit to share your story in a rich, engaging way, with both those outside and inside your organization.

Here are a few ways you can take advantage of your Page’s new Timeline:

  1. Document the history of your organization since way back before Facebook. You can add milestones with short stories, links and photos going back to whenever your organization was founded. Visitors to our page can now learn, with just a few simple clicks, how our agency has been transformed since its original founding in 1910 and how BJENY and SAJES became The Jewish Education Project.
  2. Make major events and accomplishments in recent years stand out from your Facebook chatter. You may have posted about that successful conference or big award when it occurred, but chances are those posts have since been lost amongst all of your other daily conversations. Now you can add those events as Milestones, and include a big glossy image, so that your major accomplishments will stand out when a visitor scrolls down your page. We chose to highlight the Jewish Futures Conferences and the day we were included in Slingshot ‘11 – ‘12 as one of the top 50 innovative Jewish Non Profits in North America, along with other big agency events.
  3. Choose a cover photo that represents your organization’s mission. Before, most Pages had organizational logos on top. With the inclusion of a cover photo in addition to a profile picture, you can add a picture that showcases who you are and evokes an emotional reaction. We chose an image of an educator working with children, to showcase both the educators we work with directly, and the children whose lives they impact.
  4. Pin important news items to the top of your Page. Making a major announcement or promoting a big event? You can pin certain posts to stay at the top of your page for a week at a time. That way you can continue to post interesting links or stories without worrying about your key messages getting lost on the page.
  5. Take advantage of Facebook’s apps and tools! Now is a great time to make sure you are using your Facebook Page in the best way possible. We finally added an app to connect our Page to our e-marketing tool so that visitors can join our email list in one simple click. The new Timeline also let us select specific organization that we “Like” so that we can feature our more prominent partners, or other organizational sub-pages.
While we focus on the newness and excitement of social media, it’s easy to get caught up in anxiety over the future – what’s the next big thing, where should I focus my efforts, etc.

Facebook Timeline offers a unique opportunity to reflect and celebrate our accomplishments, to see how far we’ve come. It’s about new tools and technologies, yes, but it’s also about affirming your voice, vision, and values as an organization. Building the timeline could be a great excuse to bring together staff, new and seasoned alike, to explore the history of the organization. Perhaps there are personal stories, little triumphs along the way that wouldn’t normally be recorded that now have a place to “live.” Perhaps you will rediscover shining moments, seemingly insurmountable challenges, questions asked and answered and asked again, and find avenues to share those stories with your followers in ways that add meaning and depth to their relationship with you. The internal conversation that ensues in crafting this space may be just as valuable as the product that emerges.

Developing your Facebook Timeline is both an exercise in organizational memory and an opportunity for deeper engagement, and we hope you’ll dig in and try it for yourself. We also invite you to check out our new Facebook Timeline and post feedback so that we can learn from one another, and continue to improve the way we connect with our audience!
 
It’s funny how many of my high school vocal lessons translate into guidelines for social media. Here are a few tips I've learned as a singer that have also helped me think about social media in useful ways:
  1. It’s all about the song. I can run scales and hit divalicious high notes till my nose bleeds, but if it doesn’t add to the meaning of the song, it’s all in vain. So too in social media. We are capable of all kinds of fancy, flashy things. But if they’re not adding to the meaning, the value, of what we’re trying to put out in the world, why waste the effort?
  2. Practice. Some are more naturally gifted vocal artists, some have social artistry down pat, but we could all do with a little refresher course. 
  3. Give your voice a break now and then. Same with social media. Turn off, recuperate. It'll do your voice (or eyes, or mental health) good.
  4. Sing your own songs. It’s your voice, literally and metaphorically. Be who you are, be real, and be heard. People will appreciate it.
  5. Sing other people’s songs your way. A couple years back there was a contestant on American Idol who sang “I Will Always Love You” pitch-perfect. The judges’ criticism? She sang it too much like Whitney Houston's version; she didn’t make it her own. There’s always room in the world for a really clever, fun, unique, poignant, unusual, or just damn good cover. How does this translate into social media? Curate good content. Comment on it. Make it yours.
  6. Learn from great voices. When I was first getting in to singing, I focused a lot on being a great belter - it was all about hitting notes high and strong. And that has its place. But then I would listen to Billie Holiday and her deep-blue swing, or Willie Nelson’s southern sentimentality, or Ani DiFranco’s chatty interludes, or James Brown’s vocal fireworks, or any number of unique voices. I took a little bit here, a little bit there, learned from each one, and developed my sound. So too in the social-digital world do I keep my eye on the voices of those I admire, and imitate them, and learn from them, and they help me find my own voice.
  7. Sing with others. It’s hard to give up center stage. But I tell you, nothing teachers you more about being a good singer than having to sing with someone else, and there are few things more rewarding than a really beautiful chorus of human sound. One would think this piece would be easy online; social media is inherently social, right? But you’d be surprised how easy it is to forget this, and how often we can fall into star mode, losing sight of the chorus.
Any singers/social media gurus out there have something to add or amend? Or, has anyone else transferred lessons from another activity, hobby, or talent into the online world?  
 
Originally published on Darim Online's blog, JewPoint0
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Photo Credit: j&tplaman
Trying to get your community or organization engaged in networking through social media, but running into roadblocks with colleagues who aren’t quite there yet?  Instead of getting frustrated over what’s not working, what’s not growing, let’s refocus. 

What’s already happening online?  Where are seeds just taking root?  Where are the fertile areas you can cultivate, and spread from there?

Taking time to tend your social networking garden can be hugely rewarding for everyone, and will help spread the message of the power of online social networking to even the most skeptical colleagues when they see what fruit it can bear!

Social Networking Gardening Tips:

Step 1: Seek out the gardeners. Find out who among the people you work with is blogging, tweeting, active on Facebook or LinkedIn, etc., by doing basic searches in those networks and asking around.  See which friends you have in common – you may be surprised and delighted at the connections you find!

Step 2: Watch their seeds and shoots. Subscribe to posts and friend these folks in whatever way you feel most comfortable (adjust your privacy settings as needed).  Put them in lists you can easily come back to (Twitter/Facebook), subscribe to blog posts via RSS, and bookmark whatever other sites might be relevant.

Step 3: Add sunshine, water, and fertilizer regularly. Schedule a regular time to focus just on networking with these groups.  Try taking ten minutes, two days a week, to go through the friend lists and RSS feeds you created and comment, reply, and retweet.  Share resources you think might add value to that person’s work and suggest people they may gain from being in touch with.  For some cases, it may be best to send a personal email or make a phone call to deepen the connection.

Step 4: Bonus step! Find the other gardens where your gardeners’ seeds have taken root. Uncover the conversations where your colleagues and their work are being talked about that they might not even know of!  Set up a Google Reader or Google Alerts.  Go to Google Blog Search.  Type in the names of the people and/or institutions you work with and see what comes up.  If there are a few meaningful, relevant results in the search, subscribe to that search by scrolling to the bottom of the page and clicking the RSS link.  Check in on that RSS feed every now and again and share with those people the (good) news you found about them.

Some additional tips:

Be sure to subscribe to comment feeds on the blog posts you reply to so you can see where the conversation goes and easily follow up.

Use a consistent username across platforms so that folks will begin to recognize your presence and personality.  This will also make yourself more searchable in the future.

Put a pause between your fingertips and the keyboard – think about your voice, tone, and the value you’re adding to the conversation.  Be consistent.  If your organization has one, make sure to adhere to the guidelines of the social media policy, and develop that document as needed based on your interactions.

Don’t neglect IRL (in real life) and other media. Networks need to flow within and among different platforms to be truly effective.  Mentioning a Facebook post in a phone call, or a blog comment in a coffee date, then tying those conversations back to their original host platform can be a great way to weave people and ideas.

Serendipity happens! Being active in social media means you open up all kinds of potential for new connections – whether you plan on it or not.  Have an open mind and welcome the unexpected!

How have you found and cultivated the fertile areas in your organization?  What resulted from these interactions?

 
Originally published in Darim Online's blog, JewPoint0
Facebook groups have changed a lot in the past year or so, and they’re more powerful than ever.  Here are some helpful hints to make your Facebook group a truly vibrant platform:

Maximizing group features for networking and engagement:

Tagging individuals in posts. This is an excellent means of publicly introducing two (or more) folks within your group.  Include bragging rights – what makes these members unique?  Give them a question to explore together, and encourage the dialogue.  This means you have to know your group – who they are, what they’re up to, what they need, etc.  Think:
  • How can I encourage others to use the group in the same way, not just as a means for marketing/broadcasting information?
  • How do I go from network weaver to empowering others to weave one another?
The power of pictures. Facebook is a “picture economy” (whereas Twitter is a “link economy”); pics are the most engaged content, the most in-demand.  Pictures are great conversation starters.  Tagging folks in pictures and asking them to tag themselves also increases engagement, puts a face to a name, and humanizes the process by bridging online and on-land worlds.

Questions and polling.  Thoughtful, simple, directed questions can be a powerful engagement mechanism.  Think about allowing others to add their own options to the poll – when is it appropriate, and when is it unnecessary or confusing.  Expect to get answers both in the poll itself and in the comments, and run with both!

Group chat. Facebook groups mostly function asynchronously, but a synchronous activity now and again can really rally the troops. (Note: this feature does not function with groups of 250 members or more.)  Consider the following:
  • What are the deeper conversations your group seems inclined to have?
  • Can you assign someone to host that conversation and empower them to lead the charge?
Docs. Docs are like super-simple wikis, and probably the most truly collaborative aspect of a Facebook group.  Because they are collaboratively editable, they are great for anything that requires a teasing out a group voice – agendas, statements or announcements, etc.
  • Docs live in a designated place within your group and are therefore not as subject to the news feed, which is more timely.  Docs are great for posting information that you plan to come back to again and again.
  • Conversations will naturally spring up in the comments section of your document.  It’s important to manage the flow between what is being written in the doc and what’s happening in the comments.
Events. Creating a group event for actual in-person meetings makes a lot of sense, but there are other ways the events feature can be used – general publicity, announcements, calls to action, booking a time for a group chat, etc.
  • Events need not be restricted to members of the group.  Use them when you want to introduce a broader audience to your group’s good work.
  • Bear in mind – events can be great, but tend to get lost in the new Facebook layout.  Timing is key.  Be conscious of who you are reminding of the event and how often.  Remember you can also post the event’s unique link to the group or your personal profile page.
  • Finally, events, like docs, also have a comment stream attached.  Monitor accordingly.
Other big ideas:

Have a goal for the group, or at least a project everyone can rally around.  Give the group a sense of purpose.

No one person “owns” a Facebook group. It belongs equally to all the members and should be treated as such. (Think about using the Docs to build a group statement of values – decide as a community how you will use the group and treat one another while active in it.)

It’s easier to post than to reply. Engagement takes investment. Try setting aside a specific block of time every day or week to monitor and engage the group.  Ask other members to do the same – spread the responsibility around and see what kind of ROE (return on engagement) you get.

No medium exists in a vacuum. Think about the relationships between what happens in the group, on Facebook in general, over email, on the phone, in person, at events, etc.  To be truly effective, the online experience should be tied – topically, in culture, in voice, in attitude – to the experience(s) of the group in other spaces.

Groups don’t provide hard analytical data the way Pages do, so it’s up to you to gather both the qualitative and quantitative results. Consider asking:
  • Who’s posting most often?  Who’s replying?
  • What topics are folks posting about?  What topics are getting the most feedback and engagement?
  • What times of day are people posting?
  • Are members typically sharing links, photos, videos, event invitations?
  • What else can you learn about your members through their activity? What do they care about?
How have you made Facebook Groups work for you?  What are your success stories?
 
Originally posted in Darim Online's blog, JewPoint0

Beth Kanter and Allison Fine accurately quip in “The Networked Nonprofit” that “social media is a contact sport.”  You can’t expect to succeed without getting your hands dirty.

As it happens, that’s just how the young nation of Israel agrees to learn the Torah - standing at Sinai, overwhelmed by the presence of the Divine, they collectively intone “na’aseh v’nishma” (Exodus 24:7 - what an appropriately enumerated verse).  Loosely translated, “we will do, and (then) we will hear/understand.”  Or, even more loosely translated, “first we will give this a try, then we’ll have some idea what it’s all about.”  Israel agrees that the Torah is not an intellectual exercise, it is a lived experience. 

“Na’aseh v’nishma” is your social media call to action. 

Knowing conceptually that it would be useful to connect with other people free of the constraints of time and space is an important step.  But it can’t compare to, for instance, engaging your network on Facebook to help find the modern equivalent of “na’aseh v’nishma.”*  Sensing that social media increases the likelihood of serendipity doesn’t hold a candle to finding your next job through Twitter.  Believing that social media is a key part of your communications strategy is very different from putting that belief into action. 

But what about those who need to feel the ROI (or rather, ROE - return on engagement) before diving in?  What about the “lo n’aaseh” (“we will not do”) folks? 

On the one hand, there are those who will take on this challenge only because they “have to.”  A friend recently told me about a colleague in her office who, upon taking the job, was cajoled into creating a Facebook account for the first time.  The position involved working heavily with teens, and the person he was replacing realized as he was ending his tenure that he had missed out on opportunities for engagement by avoiding social media - “Facebook” was the advice he passed on to his successor.  The new colleague is seeing early signs of success, meeting the teens in their own space, in their own language.  Another friend had a similar experience:
On the other hand, there are those for whom working in social media may never feel like the right fit.  It may move too frenetically, require too many technical proficiencies, feel too exposing or time consuming, or any number of things.  At the same time, social media is becoming part of the vernacular of our culture. Even the most reluctant of us may have to reexamine our practice in light of new ways of working.  This is a familiar story to some:
Ultimately, you can’t really “get” social media without saying “na’aseh v’nishma” and engaging it as a contact sport.  Facing reluctance is tough - there are always reasons not to do anything!  So if you’re working on a co-worker, easing them into working with and through social technologies, it would be useful to have the following things in mind:

  1. Have a plan and a goal. Pick one thing, something that requires little effort, but can reap big rewards.  Choose an internal project to work on in a Facebook group instead of over email, or tweet out questions during conference calls to solicit input from your organization’s followers and fans instead of (or as part of) a newsletter.  Talk about both how things change, and what that means for your work.
  2. Blend online and on-land experiences. Reference Facebook in phone calls, share a great question from an email conversation on LinkedIn, bring digital spaces into your in-person conversations.  These online spaces are not something “other,” they are powerful connective tools that can weave worlds - and people - together.
  3. Once you get started, remember that these things take time. Look for the bright spots, the places where your colleague is having success (or learning to redefine success).  Focus on those, and encourage growth from there.
With social media, as with so many things, the understanding is in the doing.

Admittedly, this is no easy task.  Success in social media does take an investment of time, energy, thought...much like any meaningful human relationship.  But this is how we learn.  We do, and we do again.  And then we understand.

What was your “na’aseh v’nishma” moment?  When did the “doing” make all the difference? (Share your voice in the comments and one lucky commenter, chosen at random, will receive a free copy of the book “Switch”.)

*The modern equivalent of “na’aseh v’nishma” could arguably be found in cognitive psychology: “effort justification.”  It’s a fancy way of saying that when we work at something, when we dig in and invest ourselves, we understand it better and appreciate it more.  Hat tip to Jay Schreiber and Rabbi Josh Yuter for helping me out on that one.
 
Musician friends!  Care to join me in a last-minute undertaking to do some good?
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Remember Playing for Change, that awesome series of videos of people from all over the world playing the same song, spliced together in expertly-edited harmony?  It was amazing, right?  

So, Playing for Change is now a foundation that is "dedicated to connecting the world through music by providing resources to musicians and their communities around the world."  Yes.  Also amazing.  Sign me up.

The first Playing for Change Day is happening this year on Sept. 17th (now you get the whole last-minute part, right?).  It is "a global day of action where musicians of all varieties perform on stages, cafés, city squares, and street corners worldwide and raise money to bring music into the lives of young people."  The money raised from events on Playing for Change Day will go to building music schools, establishing music and arts programs, buying instruments, and connecting kids and their communities.

So, I clearly just found out about this, but I'm excited.  And I hope you are too.  It's late to put together a really effective on-land event, but, dear musician type folks, it is not too late to make something awesome happen online.

Care to join me in putting together an as-yet undefined worldwide music something on Sept. 17th?  Get in touch!  Email, Twitter, leave your thoughts in the comments, whatever.  Let's make this happen.

 
Originally published on the Darim Online Blog, JewPoint0.
This year’s Social Media for Nonprofits conference in New York wasn’t actually about social media.*  It was about values and personality.  Two ideas in particular stood out – uncomfortable transparency and practical optimism.  Here’s how they came through…

Uncomfortable Transparency:

On charity:water’s fourth birthday, the young nonprofit celebrated by live-streaming an ambitious new drilling project…and failed.

When Paull Young, charity:water’s Director of Digital Engagement, told this story at the conference, it was with genuine disappointment, but also gratitude.  Charity:water’s followers and fans posted on Facebook comments like, “We appreciate your transparency,” and “I think this is perhaps even more important than sharing your successes.”  Donations  flooded in, and the next day charity:water got more hits on its website than ever before.

Young called this “uncomfortable transparency.”  He urged us to be honest about our failures as well as our successes, and to “fail fast and learn.”  Ultimately, he reminded us, people want to hear the truth.  (Several months later, charity:water returned to the drill site, this time striking water.)

Practical Optimism:

Seeing Alexis Ohanian on stage showing a picture of a grinning kitten and declaring that this shot embodied his feelings about the Internet, the audience couldn’t help but be charmed.  We were surprised and delighted by his joyfulness.

Ohanian, a co-founder of RedditHipmunkBreadPig, and other do-gooder projects with goofy titles and terminally cute mascots, is a firm believer in the “benevolent web.”  At the beginning of his presentation, he asked for a show of hands, “How many of you believe that most people are fundamentally good?”  The vast majority of attendees smiled, lifting their hands high.  “If you believe that, then most of the people online are good, too…”  He went on to talk about a Reddit community devoted exclusively to sending pizzas to one another, and a save-the-whales naming contest that resulted in both the cancellation of a whale-hunting expedition and a several ton sea creature being dubbed “Mr. Splashypants.”

Ohanian’s enthusiasm was contagious.  I walked away from his presentation feeling like I did after seeing “Scott Pilgrim vs. The World” – really believing in the eventual triumph of love over hate, of light over darkness, and knowing that I could be a part of that.  His optimism wasn’t blind hopefulness, either; it was authentic, even strategic.  Essentially, he reminded me that you can’t work in the nonprofit world without believing that things can be better, and that people want to be good, and do good.  That fundamental assumption, that practical optimism, should be reflected in the way we work online.

There were many other outstanding presentations, and I encourage you to check out the hashtag (#sm4np) and Slideshare for some great resources.

*(Ok, you got me – #sm4np was about social media, too.  The conference provided a solid overview of some important themes in effective social media use: listening, storytelling, branding, analysis and reflection; all kinds of good stuff.  Farra Trompeter of Big Duck, who also spoke at the conference, wrote an excellent overview of the complete line-up of sessions, which you can see here.  Gatherings like #sm4np provide excellent opportunities for getting introduced to new tools and concepts, as well as prime networking time.  I highly encourage representatives from Jewish organizations to attend these events when possible, hear about what’s happening in social media and the nonprofit world, and share what they’ve learned!)

Do the concepts of “uncomfortable transparency” and “practical optimism” resonate with you?  Share your thoughts in the comments!
 
It should be clear at this point that my husband Alan and I are big, big nerds.  (If you needed more proof, he's reading the Myst books right now and I...well, read my other blog posts.)  

So in that vein, we're watching the entire Star Trek: The Next Generation series from the beginning.  Here's a way cheesy promo spot to get you excited for the rest of this post. 
There have been all kinds of articles talking about Star Trek technology, comparing it to the types of nifty gadgets we actually have today.  And a competition has even been launched to help expediate the creation of a real-life tri-corder to diagnose disease.  Pretty cool stuff.  Even if you're not a nerd (I think).

But there are some other interesting lessons we can learn from Star Trek, especially when it comes to social media.  Here are a few:
  • "These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise..."  Best. Elevator pitch.  Ever.  We should all be so eloquent, succinct, and powerful in pitching our own organizations and their missions.  And we should all have Patrick Stewart do our voice-overs.
  • High-ranking crew members are forever going on "away missions" to weird places that just so happen to be able to support human life.  Watching this, I wonder - where is your Flip cam?  Your iPhone?  How are you not recording every moment of this?  On the one hand, I'm right - they should really be documenting these "strange new worlds" they're seeking out.  On the other hand, there's a nice lesson in here about human experience.  Lose yourself in the documentation, and you miss the big picture.  (Like the, dare I say it, John Mayer song, "3x5."
  • A similar lesson applies to the power of speech, and face-to-face contact.  Crew members aren't (at least to my knowledge) constantly texting one another.  They tap their chests and start a conversation, or they bring up a video screen and talk things through, complete with facial expression and body language.  (On that note, there's a great TED talk about the power of video here.)
  • "Captain's log..."  I love blogging, but as a singer I also know there is something about recording your own voice - getting the tenor, the pauses, the changes in pitch, the mood...  It's powerful.  Hearing that back months, years, after completing a mission must be an intense exercise in reflection.  And how much more could the person taking our position after we leave learn from not just our words, but the sound of them?  If podcasts/vlogs were as neatly searchable as they are on the Enterprise (and they will be, one day), it would be amazing to see what more we could learn about ourselves.
It's interesting to think that Star Trek, for all its visions of the future, hardly addresses issues of social media.  Video chat, sure, but not much else.  The Federation is bureaucratic and hierarchical.  The staff meets in a board room.  Officers are divided by color.  This is hardly the authentic, transparent, simple kind of organization that succeeds in social media spaces.

Nonetheless, there are some interesting lessons to be gleaned that can help us make our own experiences in social media more meaningful and productive.  Bottom line: Star Trek blends social technologies that best mimic true human interaction and learning into the work of the ship.  

Is there more to learn here?  More to criticize?  What would you add to this list?