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Social Media is the Aleph

  
  
  
  
  

In his short story “The Aleph,” Jorge Luis Borges recalls an experience he had gazing into an aleph. He describes it as “one point in space that contains all other points. The only place on earth where all places are—seen from every angle, each standing clear, without any confusion or blending.” This fictional story regards the aleph as a both a gift and a curse because it gives the gazer a chance to see and know everything on earth. That is what social media has developed into today. Through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and countless other sites, we now have the opportunity to see all—to see into people’s lives and to see the world like never before. Social media has opened up the unimaginable universe. Like peering into the aleph, checking your newsfeed or your Twitter timeline provides insight into everything in our world, from every angle—simultaneously, infinitely.

The aleph is significant beyond Borges’ short story. Its symbol is the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet and is literally a part of the word “alphabet.” It is venerated by Kabala and other mystic traditions that put value on an aleph as the pursuit of truth. Like the aleph in these ancient traditions, social media is the means by which we seek truth in modern times. From companies to customers, from artists to fans, from friends to family, and from your PC to mine, we can now paint a more accurate, “truer” picture of the people we interact with via social channels. Social media offers us an endless amount of communication that is continuous and extremely transparent. Through following people, companies, bands, etc. on social media, we can see who their friends are, what interests them, where the have been, where they plan to go, their religious, and political stances and a plethora of other information that we otherwise wouldn’t have discovered.

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"Aleph Sanctuary" - Mati Klarwein

Thanks to the advances of social media technology and the massive amounts of information these sites are processing, we have transitioned into the age of the “recommendation.” There are logarithms, programs and software that can now introduce you to more people, places, and things based on what you already like and your physical location. You can discover when concerts and art festivals are happening in your area, what news is breaking, and what song will go well with your mood for the day. Other sites will recommend vacations spots, restaurants, lawyers, and doctors. Heck, these sites can find you a job or an employee—all out of the comfort of your living room! This age of “recommendation” is giving us options like never before and it is shocking how incredibly accurate the recommendations are.

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As our technologies grow and progress, we must accept that our lives are no longer veiled in secrecy. You can be a pessimist and see this as an intrusion on your privacy, but if you are receptive to this information exchange, the possibilities are endless. The more you share, the more people will share with you. The more you follow, the better recommendations you will get and the more useful social media will be for you. So instead of being wary of this connectivity, you could revel in the endless possibilities of this aleph. It will undoubtedly open your world to bigger and brighter things while introducing you to more people and experiences you would have never had an opportunity to access before.

Jake Annear

Let’s Get Ready to Tumbl! A Guide on Tumblr for Business

  
  
  
  
  

I consider Tumblr to be a guilty pleasure of mine, and to be honest, I probably spend more time on that website than on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter combined. I think it’s because Tumblr has a very different culture than the other sites, and it’s a culture that I’m very in-tune with because I fit into the majority demographics quite well. I am, after all, an Asian college student between the ages of 18-24 with no kids making less than 50k. While that might seem like a very niche group, Tumblr’s growth in the past couple of years seems to suggest otherwise. In fact, Google’s data predicts that there will be more people searching the word “Tumblr” than “blog” by the end of this year. So, take these pros and cons into consideration and decide for yourself if your brand belongs on Tumblr. If you decide to jump onto the bandwagon but don’t have a marketing team consisting of teenagers obsessed with One Direction, read the rest of this article to get ready to Tumbl. 

 

What happens on Tumblr stays on Tumblr

There’s a saying that goes, “What happens on Tumblr, stays on Tumblr,” and for good reason. This platform has been known to be somewhat of a “second life” for “Tumbleloggers,” a place where people post things that they wouldn’t share with their Facebook friends, but would gladly share with a group of like-minded Internet friends who follow each other due to common interest. For example, on Facebook I’ll often share news articles and music videos that I feel might spark the interest of the general public. But on Tumblr (I can’t believe I’m admitting this), I’ll re-blog photos of beluga whales and Rick Genest and follow blogs that share similar things. I wouldn’t share these particular things on Facebook or Twitter because I can’t think of one friend or follower of mine that would appreciate this content. Tumblr thus creates the perfect opportunity for businesses that want to connect with a niche group.

 

Posting Tips

A few things that make a microblogging site like Tumblr so popular are the ease of navigation, the simplicity of design, and ability to post virtually anything – meaning brands can share different media, including text, photos, links, chats, audio and video, all on the same platform. Here are some tips on what and how to post on Tumblr:

Screen shot 2012 07 18 at 11.02.49 AM resized 600Photo: The Tumblr dashboard, displaying several posting options

  • Keep the words to a minimum. Tumblr is highly image-based, and because most Tumbleloggers come across content by simply scrolling down a dashboard, it’s best to keep lengthy written posts to a minimum. 
  • Post content that you wouldn’t be able to find elsewhere. People won’t want to subscribe to accounts that post things they could easily find on a website or on a Facebook page, so even if it’s just an office playlist or backstage photos of a fashion show, there are Tumbleloggers out there that would love to share your “insider” content with their followers.
  • Tag your posts! Tags allow your posts to be “Tumbld upon” by other users who are searching the same tags, leading to more views, likes, re-blogs and new followers.

 

A few examples of noteworthy Tumblr presences:

  • Oscar De La Renta: Their bio – “…reporting from inside one of the world’s most prestigious fashion houses” – says it all. Vintage photos, quotes from De La Renta himself, backstage photos and more. 
  • Universal Music: An inventory of online tidbits about Universal’s top artists. A vintage photo of The Rolling Stones, .gifs of Lana Del Rey’s newest music video, and never-before-seen photos of Justin Bieber attract music fans of all types.
  • Sesame Street: A perfect account for bloggers who look forward to visual mementos from childhood popping up on their dashboard. Puns from the street, celebrity appearances, photos of the characters and share-able, kid-friendly holiday cards are popular on this Tumblr.
  • NPR: By far my favorite account to follow for stories and interesting pictures from their worldwide coverage. For wordy posts, NPR publishes engaging, clickable headlines that direct to the whole post. 

 Screen shot 2012 07 18 at 11.17.05 AM

Photo: screenshot of a photo post from the NPR Tumblr with options to "reblog" and/or "like" in the top right corner

What are some of your favorite brands to follow on Tumblr, and what do they post that you would consider reblog-worthy?

 

Jaime

For your personal entertainment, a list of my top five favorite Tumblrs to follow:

Where is the love?

  
  
  
  
  
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When it comes to social-networking behemoth Facebook, you don’t have to look far to find the love.  Users write sugary messages like, “miss you xoxo,” on friends’ walls; they compliment pictures; and they hit the “like” button as if it’s click competition.  Research has shown that such positive interaction produces oxytocin, or the “cuddle hormone,” in users, meaning the feelings are real, even if the platform is virtual.

But what about other community-sourced sites?  Are they oozing with affection and adulation?  Not necessarily.

On Wednesday, Wikipedia will launch WikiLove to encourage more positive interactions among editors.  The initiative, which has been in beta testing, allows contributors to post friendly comments along with images of barn-stars, beers or kittens to the editor’s discussion page.  The 10-year-old online encyclopedia found that editors who had received negative feedback were 69 percent less likely to continue contributing.  Conversely, users were 78 percent more likely to increase their load after being praised.

The WikiLove initiative will include a small heart as a way to offer positive feedback to various editors.  This feature hearkens back to blogging platform, Tumblr, which also utilizes a heart button.  Founder David Karp designed Tumblr to foster an appreciative environment by allowing for re-posts rather than comments, which can veer toward sarcasm and criticism.  Additionally, Twitter encourages friendly decorum through retweets, @ mentions and recommendations like #FF (Follow Fridays).

Given these successes, Wikipedia seems poised to join the be-friendly-feel-good league.  However, it is possible that the little red heart button will go largely ignored.  After all, Wikipedia is no Facebook.
Nicole Duncan
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