Posts Tagged ‘wordpress’

Sometimes the Best Tools in Life Are Free

October 23, 2009

My fellow students and I are privledged to have acceess to some of the top software on the market. The latest version of Adobe’s popular Creative Suite — which comprises image editing, Web development and multimedia software — was included with our tuition and professional programs not part of that package, such as video editing client Final Cut Pro, are available on campus.

Still, our school can’t afford to buy us everything we need. And, many of us knee deep in student loans, we certainly can’t. So, quite often, we depend on free tools to get the job done. This is good practice as many of us can expect to be working for startups or nonprofits with relatively small budgets.

Free tools, we learned today, sometimes are preffered even by companies that can afford paid ones.

Elon Unversity alumnus Travis Lusk, who was to particpate in a School of Communications networking panel later in the day, told us this morning that most of the Web sites he oversees for WCBS-FM in New York will soon be produced using WordPress’s open-source content management system.

Lusk, as part of a talk on audience analytics, praised WordPress’s clean interface and its customizability through Cascading Style Sheets and widgets and called it the “most out-of-the-box SEO friendly [CMS] on the market, hands down.”

WordPress, for example, makes tweaking urls to match keywords a snap.

While Lusk depends on paid analytics tools like Clicky Web Analytics and OneStat.com for real-time audience information, Google’s free analytics software is a tool he regularly uses.

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The Molecule As a Social Media Metaphor

October 7, 2009

chemName a social media app and you’ll likely find it on Brian Solis’ Conversation Prism. There are nearly 200 social media icons on Version 2.0 of the colorful conceptual map, intended to assist organizations in applying social media to their brands.

Every industry needs an encyclopedia. Daily newspapers have the Editor & Publisher International Yearbook. Such exhaustive resources can be invaluable — in the case of the E&P Yearbook, locating potential employers is how I used it — but are too cumbersome for everyday use.

To fully make out the Conversation Prism’s icons requires a large monitor. Or, for $20, you can buy a 22″ by 28″ poster from theconversationprism.com.

With some study, advanced users can make sense of it. They recognize most of the icons and have used enough of the tools to know how they relate to each other. But the average business person will be overwhelmed: “Yeah, it looks pretty, but what do I do with it?”

A second shortcoming is that the Conversation Prism does a poor job of illustrating the crossover between different tools. For example, I’ve embedded a YouTube video on this blog. WordPress and YouTube are at opposite ends of the prism, however, suggesting they don’t interact.

An alternative metaphor that addresses these deficiencies is a chemical molecule. Think of the models from chemistry class (pictured above). Social media advisers would only need to present to managers the tools they’re most likely to use, and the relationship between them would be clearer.

Say a rock band wants to use Twitter to promote its music, videos and fan-produced photos. The “molecule” for such a campaign would have a Twitter atom at its core and music, video and pictures atoms branching off of it. Electrons within each atom would comprise the individual tools. Pandora, Seeqpod and Last.fm for music, for example.

The hands-on assembly of the molecules would engage the manager on a level staring at a chart just can’t. Plus, social media chemistry models would make for fantastic conversation pieces. Sit them on an executive’s desk or trade show table and you’re bound to get people talking. Conversation. What you’ve been going for all along.

What I’m Doing Here

September 6, 2009

Just another WordPress.com weblog. WP’s default tagline says what we’re all thinking, doesn’t it? “Yawn, another blog.” Here’s why I’m joining this exclusive 133-million-member club and why, I hope, it won’t put you to sleep:

Well, it’s for school. Elon University’s brand-spanking-new interactive media master’s program to be exact. My 36 classmates and I will be filing regular dispatches from the front lines of this emerging field. We’ll be responding to class discussions, chronicling our futures-oriented research and posting whatever else we find interesting. 

Before we get going, I thought I’d share my admissions essay. Written in February, it offers as good an overview as any as to how I arrived here and where I want to go next. My about page fills in the rest.

Why do you wish to pursue a graduate degree in Interactive Media at Elon?

A year ago, with not quite four years of community newspaper reporting and copy editing under my belt, I foresaw answering a similar prompt for a business school or law school application. My heart resisted leaving journalism, but my head worried about earning a comfortable living.

With media companies hemorrhaging money, jobs and audience members, few would have blamed me for fleeing to another field. My dad, as devoted a newspaper reader as you’ll find who cherished my choice of vocation, even encouraged my search for greener pastures.

I weighed my professional future against the backdrop of the 2008 U.S. presidential campaign, the first where candidates and those covering them fully embraced interactive media. Somewhere in between an animated snowman querying candidates about global warming and the president-elect texting supporters as he began his victory speech, I realized I’d be a fool to leave journalism now. The old model of gathering and delivering news may be dying, but the new model is just coming to life – and today’s practitioners are the ones who will define it. Elon’s interactive media program offers me the exciting opportunity to be among these pioneers.

Its flashy technology alone makes interactive media an enticing field. Just ask any of the millions of full-grown adults who drooled over the iPhone 3G last summer. But, what captivates me most is interactive media’s capacity to improve the quality of journalism. Readers can scour public documents for irregularities a lone reporter missed. Citizen bloggers can call out mainstream outlets when their reporting isn’t up to snuff. Mobile phone users can send and receive breaking news as it happens. Given all journalists have accomplished without these tools, there’s no telling what they’ll accomplish with them.

A master’s degree in interactive media from Elon would prepare me to navigate this new landscape as a manager at a community newspaper, a position I’ve long aspired to. At the same time, it would provide me skills that, if need be, could be easily transferred to a more lucrative field.