Narcissism, promises, and job approval: They might not mix well for President Donald

An inability to focus on consequences that do not center on him. Check. An absence of empathy for others. Check. A lack of impulse control coupled to a need to lash out at perceived offenses (and offenders). Check. A vainglorious view of himself. Check. An ever-present, almost childlike, need for praise. Check.

Build the Wall TrumpPresident-Elect Donald is a narcissist. That’s the conclusion of Alan J. Lipman, a clinical psychologist, chronicled in a commentary on CNN. But we already know that, don’t we? We’ve seen it repeatedly at his rallies and in his Twitter rants. But so far, he’s insulated himself from the consequences of his narcissism. Even past Republican critics, such as the speaker of the House, and big-money donors who did not support his candidacy are falling in line, creating an imaginary unity.

President-Elect Donald’s egregious behaviors have become acceptable because so many legislators and donors have too much at stake (power, influence, government contracts, etc.) to suggest the emperor-elect is naked.

But there’s one judge of presidential behavior, character, and leadership President-Elect Donald has yet to face — George Gallup’s question:

Do you approve or disapprove of the way ____ is handling his job as president?

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#Hashmytags #youselfimportantpricks – The Tech Curmudgeon

There was a time when stringing all your words together made you look ignorant, stupid, or insane. Now it makes you look #tech #savvy.

#SocialMediaWhen the Tech Curmudgeon was young, there was a period where people supposedly “in the know” were claiming that, in German, you could make any word you wanted just by stringing other words together in an endless line of barely pronounceable syllables. Reality was somewhat different, in that yes, you could kinda-sorta-maybe do that every once in a while under special circumstances and if you didn’t know what the hell you were doing and didn’t mind fucking around with someone else’s language as a joke. Basically, yes, it was possible, but it made you sound like an ignorant prick, not a fluent speaker of German – fluent speakers of German didn’t need to fuck around like this to make themselves understood.

These days, however, stringing an endless line of barely pronounceable syllables doesn’t just make you sound like an ignorant prick, it also makes you sound tech and comm savvy. After all, that’s essentially what hashtags are. Continue reading

Reducing the Nairobi attacks to a hashtag

The ease with which al Shabaab and other extremist groups handle social media is disconcerting.

Courtesy Wikimedia Commons

Courtesy Wikimedia Commons

For the New York Times, Nicholas Kulish reported yesterday that a representative of al Shabaab tweeted

Kenyan forces who’ve just attempted a roof landing must know that they are jeopardizing the lives of all the hostages at #Westgate

It’s beyond offensive to see an act of terrorism act that has killed dozens reduced to a hashtag by the group that committed it. It’s as if they’re branding it as militaries do with operations (Barbarossa, Desert Storm). Equally upsetting is the clarity of the Tweet’s composition, as well as the familiarity with Twitter and other social media that it and other extremist groups have demonstrated in recent years. It stands as sad testimony to how interwoven Islamist extremism has become with the fabric of society.

Cross-posted from the Foreign Policy in Focus blog Focal Points.

Twitter is the Rush Limbaugh of communications media

Whatever Twitter was supposed to be originally, as a communication medium it suffers from one basic problem: there is only so much you can convey in 160 characters. Especially when you burn 20 of those precious characters for a URL, another ten with an “@username,” and maybe another five with various hashtags. That leaves maybe 125 characters for any Tweeter to use.

And what good is 125 characters? It’s fantastic for basic advertising of the “Look what I just wrote up – give it a read and comment at my site if you are so inclined” variety. It works as an immediate version of the Facebook Wall where you can post cool links that you think your friends and/or co-workers might like. And it’s fantastic for repeating sound bites that enable close-minded thinking.

What Twitter is not good at, however, is serving as a medium for detailed, in-depth discussions about any topic that has nuance. Which, when you really think about it, is pretty much every interesting discussion worth having.

Imagine for a moment the following situation. You need to have a discussion among your co-workers about a topic that has some technical complexity. It could be an aspect of industrial climate disruption, avionics design, new product development, teaching methods – whatever. You can’t meet face-to-face because you and your co-workers aren’t all co-located, but you have the following communications methods available to you: Twitter, email, conference call, and video conferencing. What do you choose? I bet it wasn’t Twitter.

Email is better than Twitter for this kind of discussion because you’re not limited by length and you can include files that help explain things. But email is a notoriously poor communication medium, one that is plagued by users who simply haven’t been trained in how to express nuance in text. And when trained communicators can still mess up via email, you know that untrained users are all but doomed. It’s remarkably easy to offend someone inadvertently via email, for example, and sometimes things get so twisted up in email that emails can be misunderstood and taken all out of context (e.g. the Climategate mess).

A conference call is generally better than email because you can judge a lot from vocal inflections. Confusion is quickly identified and can often be corrected immediately. And when files have been distributed by email before the conference call (or are available via web conferencing tools), a tremendous amount of progress can be made in a very short period of time. Videoconferencing should theoretically be even better since you have even more non-verbal cues to help determine the level of understanding in a group. But in my own experience few businesses use video conferencing because the cost of entry is high and the improvements over conference calls are not so great.

Communicating complex topics requires a communication medium that permits complexity, not one that is designed to drive complexity out of communicating.

Years ago I was working at a summer job when I was forced to listen to Rush Limbaugh on a shared radio. About a half hour into my listening to my first ever show I realized just what Limbaugh’s shtick was – he took complicated ideas, oversimplified them until they fit whatever ideological box he was working with that day, and then he spoon fed them in sound bites to his listeners in a way that freed his listeners from the need to think. Listening to Limbaugh’s show one could be secure in the knowledge that yes, the world really was simple and that everything that wasn’t right was unambiguously wrong.

Twitter is the Rush Limbaugh of communications media. Twitter forces us to think in tiny, oversimplified, sound bite-sized boxes where reality’s glorious rainbows and shades of gray have been dumbed down to mere black and white.

Can somebody ‘splain to me how the heck Klout works?

I have a Klout account. If you don’t know about Klout, it’s basically a new, high-tech way of stroking your ego and keeping track of how important you are. And I am all about that.

Problem is, I can’t figure out how it works. Oh, I get the basic concept: the more people like and follow and share your stuff on major social networks, the better. Especially Facebook and Twitter. But it professes to also count WordPress, YouTube, LinkedIn, G+, Foursquare, Instagram, Tumblr, Blogger, Last.FM and Flickr. I don’t use all these services, but I have connected all the accounts that I do have.

My first issue arises with the fact that they’ll only let you link one account with each service. See, I run four Twitter accounts – one personal, one for Black Dog Strategic (my business site), one for S&R and another for 5280 Lens Mafia, the awesome new photoblog. I also have the bridge for my personal and business Facebooks as well as a few others, including the S&R page. And I host several blogs at WordPress, including Scholars & Rogues, my business site and Lullaby Pit, my personal site. There is some overlap here and there, but we’re talking about very different audiences in most cases.

Which means that you cannot conceivably measure my influence, such as it is, if you limit me to one account per network. You can’t get close. As I see it, this is a problem in the methodology. Not that I’m vain or anything. I just care about services getting it right.

Even if I accept the one account rule, though, the results I get still make no sense. You can change from one connected account to another and the results either don’t change or they change in the wrong direction. For instance, the S&R Twitter feed has more followers and gets more retweets than my personal account, so if I unhitch Klout from the docslammy account and hook it up to the S&R account, my Klout score should go up, right? Nope.

An even more baffling example: up until a few days ago I had Klout linked to my Lullaby Pit WordPress site. But I figured that if I’m using Klout, I might as well maximize it, because my future hangs in the balance. So I switched the connection from the Pit to the Scholars & Rogues site, which does massively more traffic. Heck, I might get less than 100 looks a week at Lullaby Pit, but S&R has been blowing the lid off lately. My recent life on Mars post drove significantly more traffic in a few days than the Pit did in the last year.

So this change should have caused my Klout score to go up, right? Like, by a lot. Nope. It actually went DOWN a point.

There are two messages in this for the folks at Klout. First, I’m whiny and I want everybody to pay attention to me.

Second, and more important, is that your service is of no value if people don’t know what the scores mean. You want recruiters and managers to employ your results in things like hiring decisions, but only a chimp is going to do that if the methodology is this unreliable. At an elementary level, if you’re measuring X, and X is good, when X goes up the score should go up.

Right now you have a useless metric that confuses and disappoints us hapless vanity seekers and provides no meaningful value whatsoever to that business community you really need to buy in.

Might want to look into it….

Obama wins Twitter statfest. So what?

In the world of meaningless statistics (see many NBA, NFL, MLB, and other sports stats), TPM has emerged as a new faux arbiter of political reality. You don’t grok TPM? That’s “Tweets Per Minute,” knuckleheads.

From @gov, Twitter’s government and politics team:

A new record political moment on Twitter: @barackobama drives 52,757 Tweets per minute. Over 9 million Tweets sent about #DNC2012.

And PCMag enthusiastically passes on Twitter’s parsing of the tweets by one-liners in the speech:

• 43,646: “I’m no longer just the candidate, I’m the President.”
• 39,002: “I will never turn medicare into a voucher.”
• 38,597: Discussing Medicare
• 37,694: “We don’t think government can solve all our problems.”
• 34,572: Quips about the Olympics and “Cold War mind warp.”

And more tweet stats are offered as well without an ounce of analysis what they mean — if anything.
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A prescriptivist confronts Twitter — and blinks

If you teach writing for a living, you tread that fine line between prescriptivism and descriptivism. A prescriptivist (which, sadly, I lean toward) is one who harrumphs over a misplaced apostrophe (even when meaning is quite clear) and tells people how language ought to be used according to her strict interpretations of the language’s rules of the road. Think William Safire.

A descriptivist views language as it is written, as it develops, without the harrumph, harrumph. She systematically studies linguistic change and records it without comment.

I raise the issue — to harrumph or not to harrumph — because I recently harrumphed … a lot. One of my graduates, who is distinguishing himself in his first newspaper job, is tweeting his stories at light speed to promote them.

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We're just serfs in the machines of Facebook, Twitter, HuffPo

I am a content slave — a serf, says David Carr of The New York Times.

[T]hink of Facebook, which is composed of half a billion freely given user profiles, along with a daily stream of videos, posts and messages. It is both a media site and a social network, and all of the content is provided free of charge. By creating a template for information and a frame around it, along with a community that also serves as an audience, this new generation of content companies have created the equivalent of a refrigerator that manufactures and consumes its own food. [emphasis added]

A helluva business model, eh? It’s paying off handsomely for the folks who own the refrigerator. Arianna Huffington et al. have sold The Huffington Post to AOL for $315 million. Over the past several months, Facebook’s market cap (a company’s capitalized value calculated by multiplying current share price by the number of outstanding shares) has been variously estimated between $25 billion and $41 billion. Continue reading

Pekar Tribute 5: Mike Keefe

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Nota Bene #117: Wake Up!

“Hollywood is so crooked that Mafia gangsters are entirely outclassed and don’t stand a chance. People in Hollywood are smarter. They have more sophisticated knowledge of money and deals and how to steal legally rather than illegally.” Who said it? Continue reading

Sarah Palin: Tweeting to the top in a $12 million year

Dr. Laura: don’t retreat…reload! Steps aside bc her 1st Amend.rights ceased 2exist thx 2activists trying 2silence ‘isn’t American, not fair.

This is a political communication from a woman whom her supporters wish to be the leader of the free world. That’s the title generally accorded to the president of the United States.

The quote, a tweet from former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and self-proclaimed chief Mama Grizzly, offers advice to conservative talk show host Dr. Laura Schlessinger who quit her job after using the word nigger 11 times in a call from an African-American listener, prompting numerous protests.

Palin’s advice consists of six letters — “reload.” Her explanation of the advice — consisting of a treatise on the First Amendment, the conditions under which that amendment does not appy, the existence of activists politically opposed to Schlessinger’s conservative ideology, the means of silencing a political opponent, the definition of “American,” and whether the contretemps between Schlessinger and activists is “fair” — consists of 91 characters, not counting spaces.

Palin has mastered the art of remotely operated and ideologically congealed political dialogue that includes inventing words.
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Nota Bene #115: RIP No. 32

“If you’re really pro-life, do me a favor—don’t lock arms and block medical clinics. If you’re so pro-life, lock arms and block cemeteries.” Who said it? Continue reading

Nota Bene #112: GOOOLLLLLLLL

“Freedom of any kind is the worst for creativity.” Who said it? Continue reading

Nota Bene #101: Your Pal, Mike S.

“The guys who are shooting films now are technically brilliant, but there’s no content in their films. I marvel at what I see and wish I could have done a shot like that. But shots are secondary for my films, and with some of these films, it’s all about the shots. What’s the point? I’m not sure people know what points to make.” Who said it? Continue reading

Nota Bene #94: Bear Vs. Ninja

“Overture, curtain, lights Continue reading

Nota Bene #87: Supersize Moi

There’s an old saying in Tennessee Continue reading

Business and social media: American companies growing up, sort of

Ever since the Internet began gaining popular awareness in the mid-1990s, the topic of how businesses can productively use various new media technologies has been a subject of ongoing interest. Along the way we’ve had a series of innovations to consider: first it was the Net, and the current tool of the moment is Twitter. In between we had, in no particular order, Facebook (not that Facebook has gone away, of course), CRM, mobile (SMS, smart phones, apps), blogging, RSS and aggregation, Digg (and Reddit and StumbleUpon and Current and Yahoo! Buzz and Technorati and Del.icio.us and seemingly thousands more), targeted e-mail, YouTube, SEO, SEM, online PR and, well, you get the idea.

We certainly hear examples of businesses getting it right with new media, but in truth these cases represent a painfully small minority. Continue reading