Connecting people and ideas through improvisation

The Big (Sad) List of Social Media Titles

(cc) dougbeckers on Flickr

(cc) dougbeckers on Flickr

When I worked at Intel many years ago I wrote a blog for them about all the screwy Social Media job titles people had. It was on their external blog and lived for a year or two after I left, but now has gone poof. It’s a shame because many of the titles I joked about became real things. It was simultaneously sad and amusing.

I thought it would be fun to recreate the list and turned to my Facebook friends for some help. I somehow suspect every one of these is out there somewhere on a business card.

Thanks to Facebook!

Social Media Guru – Set up a Facebook account for himself one day, and in the course of doing so achieved enlightenment in the ways of all things social.

Social Media Sherpa – Acclimated to the thin air at the top of the social media mountain, he is adept at leading social media tourists to their death.

Social Media Shaman – Believes in the natural spirit of authenticity that pervades us all, and will awaken it within you after you agree to smoke something with him.

Social Media Wizard – Very mysterious and wise (he will tell you this), he will claim to be able to conjure lightning but can barely pull a rabbit out of a hat.

Social Media Ninja – Commits to all manner of grand and nefarious undertakings, but is never actually seen doing any of them.

Social Media Cowboy – Fearless in the face of the Wild West of social media, he will shoot from the hip in any direction, killing bandits, cutthroats, and bystanders with equal efficiency.

Social Media Sheriff – Wanders the town telling people how they should act but never actually gets involved. Spends an inordinate amount of time cleaning his gun.

Social Media Barista – Serves up highly caffeinated shots of social media espresso that gets you all excited and energized, but then fades quickly and causes you to spend excessive time in the bathroom.

Social Media Kaiju – Big in other parts of the world, he stomps aimlessly through things you love. Far more fun to watch when he is breathing radioactive ideas onto someone elses’ project.

Social Media Superhero – Intent on saving the world from madmen and evildoers, but does far more damage to the surroundings than anyone they fight.

Social Media Manager – Formless spirit who has had their social media soul extinguished and exists only within the confines of a vague job description.

Social Media Jedi – Will tell you to believe in the force of social media, and convince you that these are not the sites you are blogging for. (via John Davidson)

Social Media Slut – Their social feed only contains selfies. (via Stacey Champion)

Social Media Cynic – Posts once a week that they’re off all Social Media forever. (via Dick Carlson)

Social Media Mother – Gives unwanted advice to everyone and comments on every single post, nagging, asking nosy questions and won’t stop poking you. (via Stacey Champion)

Titles are fun, but if the person knows what they’re doing then no wacky title is necessary.

I’m sure my list isn’t complete, so if I’ve missed one let me know.

What really makes something “news?”

(cc) Ines Njers on Flickr

(cc) Ines Njers on Flickr

Recently I’ve been pondering what makes something “news.” It seems simple, but when I asked people for their own definitions almost nobody agreed. Does it have to be recent? Does it have to be life changing? Does it have to be strictly facts? News is very subjective in its definition.

It’s also very subjective in its impact. For example, finding out you’re pregnant is big news to the people involved, but not news to 99.99% of the world. News can be personal or global.

I began noodling on all the different responses people gave me, and how to tell if something is really “news” or just “information.” What I came up with are different attributes of news, and a bit of a range within each attribute. The idea is anything you find to be “news” should have some combination of these, and different news may have different attributes.

This is still a rough draft, but I’d love any feedback. Does something in here describe just about anything you would consider news? Are there any attributes missing? Are the ranges clear?

And I know this topic has been cracked in other ways, by other people and institutions, but I’m doing this as my own exercise in deconstructing and learning about the topic. So I heartily welcome your personal thoughts, but am not interested in any links/references to other material.

I’m also totally uninterested in a discussion of the different news outlets you use (or hate) by name. This is about the concept of news itself.

Disclaimers out of the way, here is the list I came up with:


  • World view – It changes how I view the world on a global/national level.
  • Overall life – Changes how I live my life.
  • Short term plans – I’ll act on the information sometime soon.
  • Immediate – I need to act on this right away!


  • Breaking – Critical and worth interrupting me to learn about.
  • General – I could go a short time without learning.
  • Of interest  – I could learn about it anytime.


  • Completely fact based – No perspective or commentary.
  • Some perspective – Perspective or context that helps enhance the news item.
  • Opinion and viewpoint – Analysis and summary from respected individuals.


  • Peer reviewed journals – Factual and objectively vetted.
  • Traditional media – Formally trained journalist in TV/newspapers/etc., either local or national/global.
  • Independent media – Self-trained reporters/bloggers.
  • Social networks – Hearing it from people you are friends with or connected with in life or online.
  • Self-discovery – Learning about it yourself.


  • Just happened – Occurred within minutes.
  • Recent – Occurred within hours.
  • New to me – Occurred a while ago, but I only just found out.


  • Global – Happened somewhere else in the world.
  • National – Happened within my country.
  • Community – Happened within my city/tribe/group.
  • Personal – Happened just to me and possibly immediate company.

What do you think?

Take action – SOPA and PIPA could destroy the internet… really!

This may sound overly dramatic, but it isn’t. The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect IP Act (PIPA) are two versions of legislation winding their way through Congress. Both are backed by the entertainment industry as a way (they say) to combat global video and music piracy.

The problem is this legislation is so vague it can give companies the power to order whole websites taken off the air for ANY sharing of content they feel violates their claims. Post a video of your kids with a movie poster in the background? That could get your blog taken down!

Google, Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, Wikipedia, YouTube, and hundreds of other huge sites oppose SOPA and PIPA. They could not exist if this legislation had existed when they were founded. Sharing ideas and content is how the internet works!

That’s why many of these sites, like Reddit and Wikipedia, are going entirely dark on Jan 18th, 2012, in protest of this bill.

This video does a great job of explaining PIPA, and SOPA is generally the same thing (House vs Senate versions).  Watch this, and please contact your congressman and tell them to oppose this legislation!
Don’t rely on someone else to do this – if you love what the internet has to offer, take action!

UPDATE: I was on Fox 10 this morning here in Phoenix to talk about SOPA/PIPA. If you are looking for a good introduction to what is SOPA to pass on to friends or family, this video might help!

My Beef with Klout

original image (cc) FotoosVanRobin

If you’re unfamiliar with Klout, it is a service that tries to measure social influence for people who are active online, and assigns them a score. The goal is to make it easier for companies to identify influencers in a topic area. If you haven’t checked your own score, hop over and take a look. Klout is watching you!

The big question is how good Klout does its job. In my humble option, Klout not only doesn’t do that great, but I don’t think it’s ever going to be possible for Klout to work the way businesses want it to.

The problem is that social influence is a hideously tricky thing to measure. Is it how often someone tweets? Is it what they tweet about? Does a retweet or reshare measure influence? Klout looks at all of these things and more, and has a ton of very smart people distill what works from what doesn’t to constantly improve your score.

There are two reasons I think it can’t work. The first is practical, the second is theoretical.

Klout Is Easily Confused

My first example of why I think Klout is silly is that I am not a terrorist.

I am many things, but not a terroristSee, a few months back a Phoenix area smart-ass gave me a fake +K bump on Terrorism for Klout. Others thought it was funny and did the same. I get a new one every so often, and for the past few months Terrorism has been my greatest topic of influence on Klout.

The thing is, I never talk about Terrorism. I only talk about it now in a weird meta-discussion about how I don’t talk about it, but that’s still a fraction of the things I say and do online. I work on local Phoenix events, work on digital publishing, and a ton of other things. To Klout, all of that falls below a practical joke. If you want hard proof that Klout’s engine is easy to game and trick, even with all those smart people they employ, here you go.

Summaries Are Always Incomplete

The second example is a bit more abstract, but I think just as real. Social relationships are a complex system, and you cannot simplify a complex system to a simple number without losing important information. Yes, Klout has more aspects than just the the Klout score, but even if you add in the other Klout items you still have a very small set of graphs and indicators to look at. Like the meat grinder at the top of this post, once the hamburger emerges you can no longer tell if what went in was Filet Mignon or leftover scraps.

Consider movie reviews as a less graphic analogy. Roger Ebert famously distilled the complex discussion of movies to Thumbs Up or Thumbs Down, and he has talked about the difficulties that creates. Does the Thumbs Up for a silly comedy like City Slickers mean the same as a Thumbs Up for a classic like Casablanca? They can both be good movies in their own way, but you need a lot more discussion to really compare the two. I personally love and respect Ebert’s opinion on movies, but I’ve disagreed with his ratings many times. I’d have missed many great films if I only used his Thumbs Up list as a starting point.

And that’s the problem with Klout – it will always be incomplete or wrong, and never be as good as business want it to be. Sadly, businesses want a shortcut to finding influencers, and they are going to start with Klout generated lists. This will drive people to try and game the system, and away we go. I understand why businesses want this short cut, but there will never be a replacement for simply being active in a community or social sphere. Then you will really know who the influencers are.

PS – If you want to opt out of Klout, you can do so by deleting your account an your Profile Settings page.
PPS – Krystofer James vanSlyke isn’t JUST a smart-ass. Check out his VoiceMuze project creating music from voice mail…