Channels of Communication


Last night was the fourth Geek Dinner called ‘Dangerous Drumstick at Summerville’. It was the first time I had the opportunity to attend one of these dinners and I decided to prepare a talk and presentation on “Channels of Communication”. Overall it went very well and I feel it was because my confidence had improved since my previous talk on “The End of Email”.

The way in which we communicate has changed this century. There are so many more ways to get your message out to your target audience directly or indirectly. Social Media has facilitated the rapid increase of community tools that we have seen in the past 3-4 years. More and more media rich internet platforms, centered around community interaction, are bringing people together to collaborate, communicate and interact online.

Charl Norman wrote a great blog post about South African web start-ups to watch out for. Some of these start-ups have created effective new channels for South Africans to get their message out to the rest of South Africa. These are some of my favourite South African sites:

  • Amatomu is a blog search engine and article aggregator, focusing on blogs published in South Africa. It incorporates a great ranking system and has generated a fair amount of my local traffic for our site!
  • Afrigator is also a blog aggregator with a built in ranking system that extends beyond South Africa onto the African continent.
  • Muti is a social bookmarking site inspired by reddit and Digg but dedicated to content of interest to Africans.
  • Zoopy is South Africa’s first Photo and Video sharing network similar to YouTube. I chatted to Zoopy for the first time at the Open Content Evening a couple of weeks ago, and it sounds like they are going to wow us sometime midway through October with some new features.
  • Freelancentral is an online directory of freelancers in South Africa’s creative industries. This portal is a great central hub for Freelancers to communicate with potential employers. I have been watching this website since the BarCamp event in June 2006. Hats off! Well done Jo!!!!

What about Social Media on a global level? Social Media describes the online technologies and practices that people use to share content, opinions, insights, experiences, perspectives, and media themselves. Most people still don’t know what Social Media really is. They might know if you mention YouTube or sometimes Flickr, and most have heard of the infamous Facebook. Social Media can take many different forms, including text, images, audio, and video. The Social Media sites typically use tools like message boards, forums, podcasts, bookmarks, communities, wikis and weblogs etc.

A few prominent examples of social media applications are:

Web Syndication or RSS feeds are a constant feature throughout all of the above sites. Here is some information about RSS and some tools for mashing up your feeds:

  • RSS – Real Simple Syndication allows you to put a web feed out so that people can pull it the form of an RSS feed. You can attach this feed to statistic tools, like FeedBurner to gauge popularity of various content feeds from your site. Think of it as an easy notification tool for your readers.
  • FeedBurner is the leading provider of media distribution and audience engagement services for blogs and RSS feeds. Our Web-based tools help bloggers, podcasters and commercial publishers promote, deliver and profit from their content on the Web. FeedBurner also offers the largest feed and blog advertising network that brings together an unprecedented caliber of content aggregated from the world’s most recognized media companies. FeedBurner now supports splicing of RSS feeds from other sites like del.icio.us, Ma.gnolia, Flickr, etc.
  • Yahoo! Pipes is a Web application from Yahoo! that provides a GUI-based interface for building applications that aggregate Web feeds and other services, creating Web-based apps from various sources, and publishing those apps. Pipes can also be used effectively to mashup RSS feeds.

Social Tagging is another common feature or characteristic of these Social Media sites. Also known as folksonomy, social classification and social indexing, Social Tagging is the practice and method of collaboratively creating and managing tags to annotate and categorize content. In contrast to traditional subject indexing, metadata is not only generated by experts but also by creators and consumers of the content. Usually, freely chosen keywords are used instead of a controlled vocabulary. Collaborative tagging became popular on the web in 2004 with social software applications such as social bookmarking and annotation of photographs. Websites that support tagging and the principle of folksonomy are referred to in the context of Web 2.0 because participation is very easy and new tagging data is used in new ways to find information.

Now I am going to list a number topics mentioned briefly above:

Micro-blogging:

Social News:

  • StumbleUpon has been around since 2002. I first encountered the site through a Firefox plugin before I became familiar with the term Social Media
  • reddit is one of the more popular social news sites, but like all of the rest of them it is becoming more spammy by the day. reddit not too bad, but I am hearing more and more that spammy articles are climbing the ranks
  • Digg‘s traffic has been on a decline for sometime now and will probably not recover
  • Muti

Social Networking:

Social Bookmarking:

Social Media channels cover many areas of the web. The above content is a taste of what is to come when we launch the Social Media Marketing wiki on Monday the 1st October 2007. We have installed a modified version of MediaWiki, with numerous MediaWiki Extensions. First the wiki will be closed for editing by the public except for a few select Social Media Gurus in SA. I am trying to promote Open Content and will release all of the content as Creative Commons Share-Alike License. I plan on opening the wiki up to the public early in 2008. We want to create a good structure from the beginning, so I have decided to start small and grow the content over time. I will be focusing on create a well structure semantic wiki.

Social Media Marketing Wiki Web Address http://wiki.socialmediamarketing.co.za

Please help us spread the word through your Channels. Let us help you to learn more about the power of Social Media through the content that will be published on the wiki in the weeks to come.

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Traveller, extreme sports fanatic, entrepreneur, trance head and WordPress / Open Source geek.

4 thoughts on “Channels of Communication”

  1. Hey Ashley! Thanks for coming to the Dinner, and for presenting too. It’s always nice to have new people at the Dinner, and also always nice to have people who are passionate about things and who are willing to share that passion with everyone. I’m looking forward to future Dinners with you, and I hope to see you at *Camp in December!

  2. Hey Ash – thanks for the mention and kind words 🙂 We’re working hard to help make freelancing a more widespread and popular option! See you at PodCamp?

  3. I am always keen to support members of the Geek Community. Especially when they provide a great product. Unfortunately I won’t be making the PodCamp as we are doing some camping in the morel sense @ Beaverlac near Porterville.

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