Jan. 28th in Corvallis: Community Management & Yahoo Pipes

I wanted to let people know that I will be in Corvallis, Oregon on Wednesday to present at 2 different events. I might also try to arrive earlier in the day, so let me know if you want to meet with me while I am in town.

Online Community Manager: Yes, It’s Really A Job
Wednesday January 28, 2009 from 4:00pm – 5:00pm
Kerney 112, Oregon State University, Corvallis, Oregon
More details on Upcoming

Online community managers are being hired in more and more companies and organizations. In this presentation, I will talk about how communities are managed and why companies need community management. I’ll also provide some specific job requirements and skills that community managers need in order to be successful.

Corvallis Beer and Blog with Yahoo Pipes

Wednesday January 28, 2009 from 5:00pm – 7:30pm
Cloud 9 Restaurant and Bar
126 Sw First Street, Corvallis, Oregon
More Details on Upcoming

I will be there to talk about Yahoo Pipes and other things related to online communities and social media. Mainly, it is an excuse to hang out at another successful Beer and Blog!

A big thank you to Lance Albertson and Tim Budd for coordinating all of this!

Communication Issues and Corporate Blogs

A couple of weeks ago, I blogged about Why Your Company Should Have a Blog. In the comments of that post, we had an interesting discussion about some of the communication issues that can result when you have employees blogging. I decided to elaborate a bit and turn it into a full post about how to minimize communication issues on corporate blogs.

Jason Mauer, Developer Evangelist at Microsoft, made this point in the comments:

One issue Microsoft has run into: as blogs turn into more of an official voice with announcements coming through blogs instead of customary PR channels (press releases, etc), people can’t tell the difference between when someone is talking as an official mouthpiece of the company, or when they’re just stating their own opinion. One recent example is the release of an open source CMS app called Oxite. The team that built it had good intentions, but when they released it the community interpreted it as some sort of best practices guidance from MS about how to do a MVC-style web app on .NET, which it definitely is not (at least at this point). (Quoted from Fast Wonder Blog Comments)

Managing communications can be easier when you have a single company blog with fewer authors. It can get very tricky when managing corporate communications for a company the size of Microsoft or Intel with many blogs and many people communicating with the outside world.

Many companies use their blogs as a way to make announcements and other official communications for the outside world. For your readers, it can be difficult to know whether a blog post is an official announcement or something less formal. In companies, like Microsoft, with bloggers spanning across many blogs, it can help to educate people to clearly state whether something is opinion or official statement. When I worked at Intel, my intel.com blog and this blog had disclaimers at the top of the sidebar making it clear that the posts were my opinions and not official statements. It can also help to educate bloggers about including clarification within the text of certain types of posts. For example, a short paragraph about why the team released the open source CMS app along with a note about how it wasn’t the best example of how to do a MVC-style web app on .NET might have diffused your issue. We get so wrapped up in our work that we don’t always take the time to think about how what we do will be perceived by people outside of the company, but it can help to give bloggers a little training with things to think about. Lightweight social media guidelines might also help in some situations.

I suspect that this is mainly an issue for larger companies or ones that tightly control communications. I’ve worked at several smaller companies where this issue never really came up at all. In other words, don’t sweat the communications issues unless you really think that it might be an issue at your company.

Summary: A few tips for managing communications

  • Include disclaimers in the sidebars for blogs that contain opinions and not official statements.
  • Clarify whether a blog post is an announcement or something less official if readers might be confused.
  • Train bloggers to think about how their posts might be perceived by those outside the company.
  • Put a very lightweight set of social media guidelines in place.
I’d love to hear more examples of communication issues that you have encountered or steps that have worked for you to avoid misunderstandings in blogs.

Pipes within Pipes: A 2 Minute Yahoo Pipes Video Demo

We’ve talked about many different uses for Yahoo Pipes in previous 2 minute Yahoo Pipes demos, but you can also use most existing Yahoo Pipes within other pipes. In this demo, we’ll use a couple of pipes I’ve previously created as the input into a new Yahoo Pipe, and we’ll introduce the union operator as a way to pull several inputs together.

More Details

  • The Demo Pipe. A copy of the Pipes within Pipes demo pipe click “View Source” to see the modules.
  • Union Module. Pull several inputs together into a single output.
  • Unique Module. Use this to prevent duplicate results when multiple search queries might return the same results by filtering on item.link.
  • Sort Module. Sort by date in descending order to make sure things are sorted in a logical manner.
  • Pipe Output. The final module in every Yahoo Pipe.

I’ve created many Yahoo Pipes, and most of them have been published on my Yahoo Pipes and RSS Hacks page where you can also learn more about my Yahoo Pipes Training courses.

Related Fast Wonder Blog posts

Blogging Elsewhere

Here is this week’s summary of links to my posts appearing on other blogs:

GigaOM’s WebWorkerDaily

Shizzow

Portland Data Plumbing User Group (pdpug)

If you want a feed of all of my blog posts across multiple sites, you can also subscribe to my über feed.

Recent Links on Ma.gnolia

A few interesting things this week …

How to: Build a Social Media Cheat Sheet for Any Topic – ReadWriteWeb

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49 Amazing Social Media, Web 2.0 And Internet Stats

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AboutUs completes Series A Funding; our plans for the future

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Shizzow for Android – Matthew Gifford

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The Winnie the Pooh Guide to Blogging — Copyblogger

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Gyminee: Tracking and Social Networking for Nutrition and Fitness

I rarely do reviews of individual sites here on this blog, but I wanted to make an exception for Gyminee. I made a commitment to getting back in shape about 3 months ago, and I have been inconsistent at best at tracking my progress until Todd recently found Gyminee. I really liked the idea of being able to track my workouts / nutrition, but I was even more excited to find that I had several friends in Portland already using Gyminee. I committed to using Gyminee diligently for one week to see how I liked it, and a couple of people asked me to do a quick review of it after a week, so here we go!

Gyminee has a freemium business model. You can make great use of the service for free, but they also offer pro accounts for people who want a few extra features (similar to the Flickr model). You get to set your own goals (weight loss, resting heart rate, arm size, etc.) and track your progress toward meeting the goals. You can track every workout and everything you eat in Gyminee, and it calculates calories in vs. calories out along with a bunch of other measurements in a daily dashboard.

Fitness Report

You can also set up custom workouts and favorite foods to make it easy to record your workouts and add foods that you eat regularly. I’ve also heard that the iPhone app for Gyminee is outstanding and makes it easy to track while on the go. One interesting feature is the add a new recipe where you can enter in your recipes, and it will calculate the nutritional properties (calories, protein, etc.) for you. I was talking a couple of people today, and we were talking about how you could use the recipe feature to record common meals to make them even easier to record. For example, you could create a favorite breakfast “recipe” containing a cup of cereal, a half cup of soymilk, and a banana that you could add as one meal.

While the tracking features are great, the real reason I’m covering it here on this blog is because of the social networking features. You can add your friends and track their workouts and progress to encourage each other to meet goals or create friendly competitions among friends. Anyone can create or join a group, Stumptown Stompers, for example, and they have forums for just about any topic. Users add the foods they eat, and other users can access those same foods, so after one person enters your favorite brand of cup of soup into Gyminee, all other users can find it and add it to their nutrition tracking. The community elements of the site make it much more than your typical workout tracking tool.

picture-17

Now that I’ve told you everything I love about Gyminee, here are the negatives:

  • It’s a free service, but the ads and the up sell to a pro account can be obnoxious.
  • Tracking nutrition can be a huge time commitment, especially if you cook for yourself. Most prepackaged foods can be found already entered on the site to use, but your custom recipes have to be entered manually. I’d love to see more flexibility around ways to enter estimated calories for a meal without having to add a new food or recipe.
  • I would love to be able to set my own nutrition goals. It uses a very rudimentary calculation based on weight and exercise to set your nutrition goals for you. In my case the amount of protein it recommends is ridiculously high, and I have yet to meet their “goal” for my protein consumption, nor do I want to meet it. If you aren’t tracking nutrition or the goals don’t make sense for you, you can’t adjust them, so it shows your friends a big red ‘F’ (which is what I suspect is happening with maestrojed above).
    [Update 9:12 on 1/13/09: As Stephen points out in the comments, you can adjust these settings. My feedback now is that this should be more intuitive to the user. I was looking for it on the goals page, not the log page.]

Feel free to add me as a friend on Gyminee if you are using it. I would be curious to hear what other people think of it.

Using PostRank: 2 Minute Yahoo Pipes Demo

Yahoo Pipes can also be used with other services, like PostRank, for example. PostRank, originally called AideRSS, is a service that rates the posts on any blog by popularity using comments, links, bookmarks, tweets, and other measurements to give each post a rank from 1 – 10. Luckily for us, PostRank conveniently stores the rank right in the RSS feed allowing us to access it from Yahoo Pipes. In our last Yahoo Pipes demo, I showed you how to Modify RSS Feeds to work better for your purposes. I recommend watching the 2 minute demo about modifying RSS feeds if you haven’t already, since we will use those concepts again in this pipe.

More Details

  • The Demo Pipe. A copy of the Using PostRank demo pipe – click “View Source” to see the modules.
  • PostRank. Using the 2 feeds that we’ve been using for most of these demos, ReadWriteWeb and GigaOM, we analyze each of them using PostRank, filter by the best posts, and copy the RSS feed for the output.
  • Fetch Feed. Fetches the elements from 2 PostRank feeds for ReadWriteWeb and GigaOM from the previous step.
  • Sort Module. Sort by PostRank in descending order to keep the posts with the highest rank at the top.
  • Loop module with String Builder Module. Loops through each element in the feed and builds a string with item.postrank:postrank: item.title. This string is assigned back into item.title.
  • Pipe Output. The final module in every Yahoo Pipe.

I’ve created many Yahoo Pipes, and most of them have been published on my Yahoo Pipes and RSS Hacks page where you can also learn more about my Yahoo Pipes Training courses.

Related Fast Wonder Blog posts

Blogging Elsewhere

I recently started a weekly summary with links to my posts appearing on other blogs. Here is this week’s update:

GigaOM’s WebWorkerDaily

Shizzow

Legion of Tech

In case you missed it, here is last week’s edition of Blogging Elsewhere.

Recent Links on Ma.gnolia

A few interesting things this week …

Vanity Fare – Strange Love Live

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Social networking is starting (really) to make sense for business | InfoWorld | Analysis | 2008-12-29 | By Bill Snyder

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FOLLOW FAIL: The Top 10 Reasons I Will Not Follow You in Return on Twitter

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Employment Situation News Release

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Report: Community Platforms Market Led by Jive Software and Telligent – ReadWriteWeb

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SXSW Interactive Portland Meetup on January 19th

Are you planning to attend SXSW Interactive or considering attending?

I was just talking to Hugh Forrest, SXSW Interactive Event Director, and he told me that they are organizing a meetup here in Portland on January 19th. I can say without hesitation that SXSW is my favorite event (outside of Portland). It is also affectionately known as spring break for geeks due to the large number of parties every evening, and the sessions never start before 10am to accommodate our late night partying.  The Austin BarCamp also runs in parallel to SXSW at a nearby location, so many of us hit BarCamp along with the main event. In other words, it’s a great event. You should join us at the meetup if you want to learn more:

January 19
6–8 p.m.
Fez Ballroom: 316 SW 11th

Here’s the catch: If you want to attend, you must RSVP to interpress@sxsw.com. Please be sure to put Portland in the subject line of the email (they are doing a few of these in various cities).

This will give you an opportunity to learn more about SXSW from the people who organize it.  If you’ve never attended or were on the fence about attending, it’s a great opportunity to learn more. For those of us who already love SXSW, it gives us an opportunity to get to know some other Portland people who plan to attend.

On another note, a few of us plan to use Shizzow to keep up with each other at the event and find the best sessions, parties, lunches, etc. If you don’t already have an invite and would like one, please let me know in the comments, and I’ll hook you up with one.

Tons of Portland people attend SXSW, and I strongly encourage you to think about going. It’s in Austin (the cool part of Texas), really smart people attend, there are great parties, and the sessions are amazing.