Archive for the ‘Social Media’ Category

An Average Day on Facebook


3-Way Street

I had the opportunity to attend the Fall Transportation Conference this week in Las Vegas . John Penuelas, Traffic Engineer for City of Henderson, showed this video as part of his presentation. I could not resist myself from posting this interesting 3 minute clip.  Please make sure your speaker volume is at its max and watch the video in full screen.

Social Networking @ work

Facebook, YouTube, and personal emails like Gmail and yahoo mail are blocked in my workplace. Yahoo messenger and Gmail chats are not accessible. Twitter site is restricted and many other social media are blocked.  BlogSpot and WordPress blogs are filtered in with a warning. I understand it is a statewide decision, not the decision of NDOT management. I never tried to find out the reasons behind these regulations. I think the reason is the security of the IT network system. The belief, that these social media will distract the employees and will reduce the performance, may be another reason. The interesting contradiction is that NDOT tweets, has a Facebook page, and a YouTube account.

Before I joined the NDOT, I worked for NCE, a private consulting company. When I work at NCE, I didn’t have Tweeter account. But I accessed Facebook account and saw many YouTube video clips. There were no restrictions at all on the use of social media. I never heard any complaints in any of the meetings that employees are soaked in social media and projects are not moving. We all worked hard. Actually I used the yahoo messenger constructively to get help for work related matters.

There is an interesting article in the Costco Connection June 2011 issue about social networking in the workplaces. It is written by Sheila Sobell, a freelance journalist from Reno Nevada. She points out many advantages of utilizing social media, citing expert quotes and research findings. Use of social media is essential to team building, well-being and a sense of collective purpose, especially in smaller companies where staff may be isolated at different sites. Allowing social networking in the office and even incorporating it in a company’s operations can increase worker productivity. Diversions such as watching a funny YouTube video provide necessary mini breaks that improve concentration and productivity. Nobody cares about smoke breaks during the work hours then why cares break with Facebook. A liberal social networking policy is a helpful tool in retaining talented employees. Not only does allowing employees Internet access boost trust, but it also assists in talent retention. On a practical level, mining social networks online can lead to the discovery of knowledge helpful to company growth.

The social media got its own drawbacks too. All these social media channels are pretty new and evolving at a much faster face than the products and services of many companies. It make it difficult to have an official social media policy so that abusive can be prevented. We all heard the problems faced by Chrysler Motors. An irresponsible person expressed his rants using the company’s tweeter account. It turned out that it is not intentional and the tweeter was thinking that he logged into his own account.

Whatever it is, the social media is an evolving media and is not going to go away. We should accept its existence and learn to use it constructively. After all, how many of us don’t have a smart phone where we can get access to all the crap.

My Personal Brand

A few months back, I started a process of branding myself. I did not get confused with many options. Only after a week long thought, I decided to go with Public Servant focusing on the transportation sector. It is a good fit to me as I am a state employee in Nevada. I work in highway infrastructure building and maintenance sector. All the highways are owned by federal, state, and local public agencies except the negligible miles of private roads. So public sector is inevitable in this industry. I am proud to be part of that community.

There are not many efforts in the public sector to brand its products and services. Also public sector is behind the rest of the world when it comes to branding. I did some research to explore the social media activities in the transportation agencies. The results were not satisfactory to me. Most of the tweets are from organizations – not from persons. There is no personal touch in those tweets. There is virtually no active blog though a lot of websites.

In my branding efforts, I am trying hard to reach public sector employees who are enthusiastic about social media and people who want to learn more on the transportation agencies and their products and services. During these days I learned a lot about social media and how to employ them for the professional and business purposes. I understood well about many-to-many communication.

Over the years there were several presences about me on the web. Most of them did not appear with my consent or my knowledge. I used to have a fear of online presence. I used to think that twitter is a celebrity thing. When I first got into the Facebook, I twisted my name so that it won’t appear on the name search. During the last few months my web presence increased tremendously. Nowadays I don’t bother about online presence and I feel happy about it.

Social Media in Transportation Agencies

I use my Facebook to share my trip photos with my friends. I never had a twitter account. I thought it is a celebrity thing. Though I was reading blogs for more than five years, I never thought to have one for me to express my thoughts. Many professionals and public still consider the social media platforms like twitter, Facebook, blogs, and YouTube as teenager entertaining stuff or tools to connect and share information among friends. Until I start taking the class Personal Branding by Dr. Bret Simmons at the UNR Business School, I also had the same perception. That perception is not true anymore. More and more businesses ranging from family owned deli shops to Harrah’s entertainment industries actively involve in social media to take their business and products to the people. Social media became a big industry like the previous era advertising agencies.

In the past month, I was researching the social media applications in the transportation agencies. All the agencies have their own webpage. They update the pages often with the latest information. I found twitter is most effectively used my many organizations. Most of the state departments of transportation (DOT) have twitter accounts. Nevada DOT frequently tweets about weather related road conditions and travel restrictions. Many DOTs tweet about new projects, recent achievements, and other public information. The Northern and Southern Nevada Regional Transportation Commissions also have their Twitter accounts. In some DOTs, the district or regional offices have their own twitter accounts. The United States DOT (Federal agency) tweets about the recent projects, policies and other public information. In addition to that, many transportation advocacy groups use Twitter to share information with the people. Also, the high rank people like Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood and Nick Rahall, the House ranking member of committee on transportation and infrastructure tweet on the important transportation issues.

I am disappointed with the use of blogs by the above agencies. The federal US DOT and some other transportation advocacy groups like American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) blog on the problems and recent developments in transportation. Other than that I did not see many blogs specially from the state and local organizations. Though many organizations have their own Facebook pages, they are pretty much non-active pages. I saw a few YouTube videos of some events and speeches by the officials. Still, that is fewer than what I expected to see.

Social Media and Civilian Revolutions

One of my favorite TV program is the GPS- Global Public Square which airs at 7.00 am and 10.00 am Pacific Time on Sundays on the CNN. The program anchor is Fareed Zakaria, a leading journalist in the CNN and a columnist in the Time Magazine. Last Sunday, in this program, there was a discussion on the role of social media in the civilian revolution in the Arab countries. Fareed Zakaria and Malcolm Gladwell, the author of the book Outliers, were discussing the role of social media. From the beginning, The Egyptian revolution was nick named as “Facebook” revolution. I have no doubt that technology advancements and social media played a major role in spreading word around the world. But, can we really say that this revolution was started using the social media?

 Fareed’s take is that social media played a major role. For a long time, the people of Arab nations had only one choice to get to know the news. That is the Government sponsored television and radio station programs. Then the satellite TV was introduced over there. Then the internet came in. Those channels provided more diversed opportunities to the people. And finally the social media platforms started rolling in. The main difference between the previous channels and the social media is that the previous ones are one-to-many communication methods and an authority can control it. Social media is many-to- many communication channels and there is no control. Sure!!! The social media played a role in gathering the people that enforced the revolution.

 Malcolm has a different take. He doesn’t impress with the idea that social media played a major role. There were several revolutions happened well before the inventions of social media platforms. Malcolm thinks that people under dire circumstances will gather to express their concerns in any way. Millions of East Germany people gathered in front of Berlin Wall in 1989 when only 13% of them had telephones. He doesn’t feel that the absence of communication was a barrier to revolutions. He concluded that the benefit or cost of social media to the oppressed or oppressor will have to be figured out.

Blood Type and Diet

I have never heard that certain foods are beneficial to certain blood types until my friend Dale introduced me the work of Dr. Peter J. D’Adamo and his website a couple of month ago. Dr. Peter J. D’Adamo first wrote about this concept in 1997. Later on he wrote several books based on his work. All of books are about diets, exercise and healthy living and he try to correlate them with A, B, AB, O blood types. For each blood type, Dr. D’Adamo categorizes three diet groups; highly beneficial, neutral, and avoid. Dr. D’Adamo does not claim that blood type diet is directly helpful to lose weight, but he claims it will lead to a healthy living. The healthy life style will make us lose weight. We can see more details at his website. On the other hand, many nutritionists and critics cite that there is no scientific evidence behind Dr. D’Adamo’s claim.

Dr. D’Adamo puts a great deal of efforts on the social media to promote his research and publications. He is on the Facebook. He is on the twitter. His website is full of educational resources. The blog is current and updated pretty often. He runs a discussion forum. If we search the words like “blood type diet”, “eat right for your blood type” or similar words that relates to Dr. D’Adamo’s work, his website pops up within the first few search records on the Google. He got an iPhone app too.

When I first read about this concept I could not believe it. My blood type is A. Dr. D’Adamo recommends that blood type A should follow a vegetarian diet. What a surprise. I became vegetarian when I was 10 years old while all my family ate everything. Most of the people who grew up in Sri Lanka cook food with a lot of chili powder so that the food will be very spicy. From the childhood, I prefer to eat non-spicy food. Coffee is a must drink for me in the mornings and it is beneficial to me. Unfortunately it is bad for Dale’s blood type. Poor fella does not drink coffee these days. Type As should avoid distilled liquor and beer (which I am not going to listen), but red wine is great.

I found out that if I want to follow Dr. DAdamo’s blood type diet, I don’t need to make any radical changes in my food habit as I am already going along with his recommendation for most part. I bought the “Blood type A Food, Beverage and Supplementary List” book and I am planning to follow as much as possible at least for a while.