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.

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.

Learning and Pandemic Readiness

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This is an update toFlu Pandemic: Compliance or Readiness” posted in February.

As of November 12, 2007 the World Health Organization has confirmed 335 cases of H5N1 in humans. Nearly two thirds of those infected have died (206 deaths). The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is funding pandemic planning activities across the nation, yet for many organizations this is not a priority. It’s not even on the back burner.   

Imagine all organizations (vendors, customers, utilities, etc.) experiencing 35% absenteeism (35% is the projection). In that environment, our current model of “just in time” economics will not succeed.

Organizations need to develop contingency plans by trouble shooting to identify options for a successful strategy. Training professionals need to be at the core of this endeavor. Will your team be ready to deliver a life saving message when the time arrives? For a high level overview for the issue, watch Scott McPherson and Elliott Masie’s discussion, Learning and Pandemic Readiness recorded at The MASIE Center’s Learning 2007 this past October.  

These particular plans may not need to be put into action (Although an epidemiologists friend at the CDC says it’s only a matter of time before a pandemic strikes). It may not be bird flu that hits us, but as Dwight D. Eisenhower said, In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.

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.