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Saturday, January 28, 2012

Pinterested? A(nother) primer

Since joining a few weeks back, I've seen quite a few blog posts and articles (such as this one) crop up about how best to use Pinterest, which I would succinctly describe as a visual social bookmarking service.  It's still in invitation-only mode (if you'd like an invitation, feel free to contact me for one), it allows for users to:

  • Create collections of bookmarks ("boards").
  • Boards may be assigned a category, which others can then search for and browse through.
  • Boards can be either solely editable by oneself, or contributed to by other users, whom one can specify by name.
  • Boards may be "liked" via Facebook plugin.
  • Add bookmarks as represented by either images and videos, either found anywhere online (publicly accessible), or via upload.
  • At the time of pinning, one can use Facebook and/or Twitter to share out the pin.
  • Comment on any pinned items.
  • "Like" and "re-pin" items.
  • Follow all of or a subset of other users' boards.
  • Draw users' attention to pins by @ referring to them like in Twitter.

So far, it seems to have a somewhat older and quite female demographic - and initially it was easiest to trawl through Wikipedia to populate my favourite foods board, though since then I've been adding more boards, since.

Truth be told, I haven't fully taken advantage of all its features. Even so, it's clear that there would be many more ways to benefit from it, such as what's listed in this "creative use" suggestion list.

Here's my "to try" list:

  • Hack the URL here:[Web site URL here]/ to find all pins that have been stored already from that site.
  • Plan a vacation using others' input for accommodation, dishes, sights etc.
  • Compile a "must see" collection of film/plays/musicians etc.
  • Assign my own graphics to my blog posts, and collect permalinks to my blog entries to publish there.

For my professional interest, I've started a board for infographics related to SEO and SMM and such, which has resulted in the highest individual board following count of all my boards so far. 

And for fun, I've created a photography board that solely contains my handiwork, mainly courtesy of my DSLR-like point and shoot (for those wondering what I use), though if I really get the hang of using my smartphone camera, I may pin some of those, too, as they are automatically uploaded via G+. I use my eponymous hashtag oh my photos to see if I can somewhat track how widespread my images become re-pinned, although when a user does re-pin an item, s/he has the option of editing the caption that's associated with it.

Upon first authenticating (with my Facebook credentials), I found that I was instantly following over 60 Facebook friends who had likewise allowed linkage of their accounts with Facebook. I'm also easily able to invite any other Facebook friends who have yet to join, but strangely, it doesn't (yet) have similar support for Twitter despite its integration as a publishing medium. Also, I've found browser-based differences in reliability (e.g. Chrome won't let me pin videos), but its bookmarklet function is extremely convenient to use, and it's easy to convert the time-sink of random web-surfing into an exercise to accrue Pinterest pins.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

SOPA, PIPA: aka explaining today's site blackouts

If you haven't read about the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) or the Senate version, PIPA, today's blackouts (of prominent sites including Wikipedia) may have surprised you.

Courtesy of the Oatmeal, which is also blacked out today, here's an animated graphic that humourously (and effectively) demonstrates why this legislation should be stopped:

For a more serious (but concise) look, here's an infographic about SOPA.

Finally, from today, Forbes' interview with Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO) about SOPA and why he opposes it.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Thoughts on IFTTT

Thanks to Google+, I first learned about a service called IFTTT ("if this then that").  They provide a very simple interface where the registered user can set up tasks. Each task consists of selecting a channel (such as Craigslist, Delicious, Instagram and many other social utilities), where a trigger event from said channel results in an action on a target channel. For instance, one can set up an email to be sent to one's account when the local forecast calls for snow. Or in my case, I've set up a task that tweets a customized message of thanks when I'm re-tweeted or followed.

Possibly the most powerful channel that's available on IFTTT is the "Feed". Any RSS feed URL can be used as a trigger. This means that I can now consider leaving networkedblogs, on which I currently rely to syndicate new blog entry notices to Facebook and Twitter. I'd also like to review all my feed subscriptions, and see what else I'd like to automate.

Thinking along those lines, I especially appreciate that many of the channels have filterable action triggers, such as keyword or hashtag values that one can specify. That way, I could ensure that I always see new content about certain topics from specific channels, be they in the form of public bookmarks on Delicious or results from Twitter searches.

I just need to take the time to set it up. Preliminary testing has proven that it works well. However, not every available "recipe" (crowd-sourced configurations that anyone can activate for themselves) is a good idea: case in point, the service is not smart enough to discern whether a tweet is spam or not, so thanking everyone who @mentions you, while tempting to implement, could inadvertently help reward spammers.

About Mayo

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Professional: As "Senior Enterprise SEO Strategist" in IBM's Digital Marketing division, I provide consulting and training services for both internal and external clients. Formerly I was involved in Natural Language Processing, software localization, quality assurance and documentation authoring.
Personal: INTJ Nikkei Nisei ex-patriated Canadian who takes photographs and enjoys Baroque through late Classical music. The G+ page shares some of the "best of" photos.