Facebook vs. MySpace and Breaking the Sex Barrier

In full discloser, I’m a Facebook fan. For me there is something a bit dark about MySpace, yet I have an account with both. Where do others stand in this battle between these two social networking giants?

According to Google Trends Facebook passed MySpace in the number of Google searches in the first quarter of 2008 and has continued to rise surpassing YouTube searches in the final weeks of 2008.

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So what is “the sex barrier” and how does it relate? The Sex barrier is represented by the green line in the second graft. If you have more people googling for your product than are googling the word “sex”, you’ve broken passed the sex barrier. Searches for the word “YouTube” passed the word “sex” in the first quarter of 2007, searches for “Facebook” passed it in the second quarter of 2008. MySpace has yet to break the barrier.

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The word Obama did it briefly in November 2008. More people world wide, according to Google, were looking up stories about Obama winning the U.S. Presidential election than were searching for sex related stories, products, etc. However searches for sex did not decrease as a result of the Obama searches. I’m not sure what this data indicates other than marketers have done an excellent job of selling sexuality online. This shouldn’t be a surprise.


The next barrier to pass is the word “free”. In Google searches the word “sex” is no where close to the word “free”. People want free stuff. However, in 2008 both YouTube and Facebook surpassed the magical word “free”.


Compared to these four words; free, YouTube, sex, and Facebook, searches for words like god, war, church, health, cancer, bush, give, and beer hardly register (Sadly, more people and googling for “beer” online than “peace”, but not by much).


So what does all this mean? Several things. First, since I’ve included the words sex and free in this post several times, I will probably get a number of online visits from people who won’t find what they are looking for. Second, using Google Trends is great for getting a ball park idea of search terms people are using. And third, I still like Facebook better than MySpace and I recommend it to everyone, unless you’re a musician. If you are a musician or a singer/songwriter use both. Searches for “MySpace” passed searches for “Music” in mid 2006 and it doesn’t look like it will to change anytime soon. For music, MySpace is on top.

“Let’s take a five minute break.”


These six words can invite chaos into the classroom. Whether you’re teaching online or in a more traditional setting, getting adults back to class after a five or ten minute break can be a challenge.

A few years ago I came up with a simple remedy. When it’s time to take a break I start a simple PowerPoint timer I created that counts down from five minutes to zero, accompanied by a song that is just under five minutes. Everyone can see how much time is remaining and when the music stops, people tend to find their seats.
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Here are links to five and ten minute versions:
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You’re welcome to use, share, or modify them, just don’t try and sell them. They are free for everyone. To start the timer open the presentation and click on the first slide. It’s that simple. If you want to add more slides for a longer break, remember that only the first slide is set to begin with a click.

Choosing the right song is up to you. I’ve used music by Vince GuaraldiHenry ManciniElizabeth Mitchell, and Big Audio Dynamite. Music is powerful messenger so choose carefully.
Regardless of whether you use music or not, see if these timers (Or others) can make a difference in getting people back in the room and focused on the content.

The CommonCraft Show: Attention grabbing low-tech educational videos

Below are two attention grabbing plain English educational videos from The CommonCraft Show. The first is about Google Docs and the second, CFL bulbs. If you think there is no profit in this kind of work, think again. Google is a CommonCraft Productions customer.

Sometimes a simple design is better. Watch and learn.

Don’t shoot: Stop Bullet Point Overkill

Bullet Point OverKill 

Bullets points are not the answer. What value do they add to a presentation when the text is already in a 28 point font and is the only text on the screen?

If you must use bullet points, use them sparingly and use them well.  Here is one slide example (Click once to advance the slide).* 

PowerPoint presentations can shine without bullet points.

Think before you shoot.

*The animation is better in PowerPoint, NOT PowerPoint Viewer.

The Best Stats You’ve Ever Seen — New Eyes for Old Data

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The Universe is filled with infinite data and our access to that data is begining to blossom. In the past decade an incredible amount of information has been placed within public reach. Once the wow factor of endless access has worn off, making the old numbers relevant and bringing the digital archive to life is challenging. Can new tools bring life to old data?

A hand full of designers are successfully pulling back the curtain to reveal hidden beauty in the numbers. Here is a synopsis of what a few of them are doing.

Hans Rosling has created something brilliant with Gapminder World. Visit his site and watch each nation progress as statistical data changes (Additional data can be displayed by clicking on the words “Life Expectancy in Years” on the far right of the Gapminder screen). To hear Dr. Rosling explain Gapminder, watch these entertaining presentations recorded at TED (June 2006, June 2007).

Amnesty International gives us an interactive bird’s eye view of the destruction in Dafur with Eyes on Dafur: Satellite Evidence.

For violence in the United States see what the LA Times has done with public data and Google maps to track every Homicide in Los Angeles County during 2007 (708 victims as of 10/30/07).

For a less detailed look into history view the interactive maps American Leadership and War and History of Religion by Maps of War.

There is no “us” in Lectern

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In most training environments a lectern is an unnecessary barrier between you and the audience. Unless you are reading an extended portion of text or perceive your audience as hostile, as one might in the Whitehouse Press Briefing Room, think twice before you set up shop behind a lectern.

You may need it as a stand for your laptop, but there shouldn’t be a need to stand behind it for very long. Get a clicker with a built in mouse so you can run your presentation software from anywhere in the room. I’ve know instructors who take a lectern with them wherever they are teaching, as if to establish their authority with the class. In my experience this can limit a learner’s interaction with the content. The message of a lectern is a message of dissemination. You’re broadcasting; it’s not a two way conversation. It can come across as a “You are the masses and I am enlighten” approach.

Having interacted with experts in the field of teaching and leading, it’s clear that they would much rather teach one on one or is smaller settings. These leaders can be extremely effective in large settings, yet each of them understands the disadvantages created by emotional distance. This applies equally to the digital realm. 

Ever walk into a room and the first thing you feel is the tension? You couldn’t see it but there was no denying the obvious. You could literally feel the barrier. As an instructor, don’t think you are protected by the magic of the wires. If you have a lectern mind set your audience is at a disadvantage. Remember, there is no “us” in lectern.

Google More

 

You’ve seen Google Maps, Google Images, and Google Video, yet Google has so much more to offer. Here are four examples.  

  1. Ever wondered who categorizes the images on Google Images? Try Google Image Labeler and find out.  
  2. Tired of sending documents back and forth through e-mail for editing and wondering who has the current version? Try Google Docs & Spreadsheets. 
  3. Want to know who invented the first pocket protector, the electric tooth brush, or the hulla hoop? Try Google Patent Search 
  4. Want to know exactly what people are searching for on Google? Go to Google Trends.

These are just a few of over 50 services available from Google. As a co-worker of mine, Kurt Fanstill, said after attending an indexing conference, ‘this is not an information age; it is an information retrieval age. Sorting through the data to quickly find what you need is the key and Google continues to unlock the doors.