Category Archives: Things to Create: Professionalish Adventures

[Review] TINT: Aggregate and Embed Social Media Content

In today’s content-rich web ecosystem, the importance of content curation has found itself in the spotlight–and deservedly so. As seas of content grow deeper and ever vast, curators–those who collect and present content for specific audiences–become necessary navigators.

This is not a novel idea. Take restaurants, for example. These flavor curators collect raw ingredients and present/market them for specific tastes.

Just as new tools have developed to bring high-quality content creation to the masses (ie Easel.ly), high-quality curation tools are growing in popularity–take Storify and Paper.li for example. Recently, I’ve tried out TINT on wluLex’s Facebook Page. This is from their about section:

Tint is a simple, yet effective tool that lets anyone aggregate any social media feeds into one page and embed it anywhere they want.

You can aggregate from Facebook pages, Twitter accounts/hashtags, Instagram accounts/hashtags, Youtube channels, etc. and embed it beautifully into any website, WordPress, Tumblr, Wix, mobile apps, Facebook Pages, and more!

Click the image below to check it out. Seeing is believing! (I couldn’t embed TINT into this blog as I’m using WordPress free.)

wluLex's Tint has been embedded onto a FB page as an app.

wluLex’s Tint has been embedded onto a FB page as an app.

Pros:

  • Free (1 Tint per account)
  • Aggregate from Facebook, Twitter handles, Twitter hashtags, Instagram accounts, Instagram hashtags and YouTube channels
  • Optimized for mobile
  • Several design themes to choose from–and they’re pretty attractive
  • Individual pieces of content are editable (title, URL, image or delete)
  • Embeddable: HTML, WordPress, Tumblr, Facebook Pages, and others
  • Once embedded, users can share (Facebook), Reply, RT, and Favorite (all Twitter)
  • Paid features include: greater design customization, TINT logo removal, Facebook tab embed, design templates, and support

Cons:

  • Only 1 Tint per free account
  • Limited to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Youtube
  • No content filters
  • Takes a while and is fairly involved to embed into Facebook Page App
  • Only embeds into Facebook Pages (not profiles)

We hope to implement this technology across other FB pages and even on Washington and Lee University‘s soon-to-be Social Media Mashup page.

Have you used TINT? How do you like it? Are you smitten with some other curation tools? Let me know!

Navigating a Sea of Information: Considerations and Tools

All, I hope the new year has been welcoming thus far. As promised, here are some of the considerations, processes and tools I use when navigating the daily seas of information. Keep in mind, this is merely the process that works for me and, therefore, it may not work as well for you as individualized processes can. I hope it can inspire some new perspectives, at least. Clearly, I’m a 21st century over-thinker.

I employ a four-step process for transforming information into action: Collecting, sorting, learning and implementingBelow, I only focus on collecting and sorting; learning and implementing are where individuals come into play.

Navigating the Seas of Information

  1. Collecting Information:
    1. Considerations: Why do I seek information? Where does the information I’m exposed to originate? How can I ensure a balanced diet of information?  While the first consideration is for the individual to decide for her/himself, I see four major areas of information sources, listed below. By viewing each of these sources as just as important as any other source, a balanced diet of information is possible.
      1. Authoritative: Websites, blogs, media, publications, speakers, etc.
      2. Social: Friends, family, coworkers, followers, etc.
      3. Experiential: The random experiences throughout the day that do not derive directly from authorities or social networks but happen nonetheless.
      4. Creative: The ideas, connections and questions we formulate within our minds, often spawned from other types of info sources.
    2. Tools:
      1. Google Reader (Website): This is an RSS (Really Simple Syndication) feed that I use to centralize and automate Authoritative and Social information from all of the websites and blogs I so choose. Google Reader is a tremendous time saver as you don’t have to manually go to each site (I’m at 35 per day and counting) over and over throughout the day. Further, by sorting all of my different feeds into folders, I get a leg-up on the sorting of my information. You can mark items as being read/unread and star items as well–whatever helps you know which information is new or important. You can also send articles from G-Reader straight to Instapaper (see below). I only use G-Reader this when using a desktop/laptop, however. For mobile access to G-Reader I use Flipboard.
      2. Flipboard (Mobile: iOS, Android): This is my go-to mobile Authoritative & Social information app (free). I use Flipboard to access my G-Reader feeds, Twitter feeds/lists, Instagram and Facebook updates and other information sources. It is free and is, in my opinion, the most visually impressive and fully functional way to view information on the market today. Imagine a virtual magazine of everything you’re interested in and more. That is Flipboard.
      3. Tweetdeck (Desktop App): This is my Twitter (Authoritative and Social) client of choice when using desktops/laptops to help me sort and browse all of my Twitter feeds and lists (Twitter lists are a major step in towards making Twitter work for you). I use the browser version, but there’s also a fine desktop version. You can also send and schedule tweets from this app. Given Twitter’s recent API changes, the fact that Twitter owns Tweetdeck provides a sense of security with this tool.
      4. Social Networking Sites (Website and Mobile Apps): For Facebook and some of the newer social networks (Authoritative, Social), the best interface is the native website or the official mobile apps. Sure, there are a growing number of semi-effective Facebook clients out there, but none is quite as good as the original thus far–at least when it comes to content intake alone.
      5. Evernote/Mobile Devices: Evernote is the BEST way to capture any type of information as it is available for all platforms including mobile. Given that our phones are our ever-eager companions throughout experience, availability and ease-of-use make Evernote powerful. It is the best way to centralize and organize the information you collect throughout the day. This app allows you to collect any form of information media (photo, audio, video, text) and tag/catalog it for later.
      6. Email: Some of us still get information (Authoritative, Social), work or otherwise, via email. May not love it, but live with it we must…for now.
  2. Sorting Information
    1. Considerations: What information do I consider worth knowing? What are the different reasons to know something? How do we separate the important from the unimportant?  When considering how important information is, I typically consider these four factors:
      1. Urgency: Is this information time sensitive? Is someone else waiting for my response?
      2. Utility: Is this information useful for navigating different parts of my life?
      3. Passion: Is this information regarding something I’m already interested in?
      4. Inspiration: Perhaps this information is neither urgent, useful nor something I already care about. That doesn’t mean it can’t hold some tangential or inspirational value!
    2. Tools: Having collected information with the above tools, I skim and sift through article titles, ledes, and opening paragraphs before rerouting anything of interest (the four factors above) into these tools for later consumption:
      1. Instapaper:  Instapaper allows you put everything you definitely want to read later in one location and it exists as an awesome mobile app as well as a website. When browsing through G-Reader or Flipboard, I have the option of sending articles directly to Instapaper. There is also an Instapaper plugin that allows you to save any webpage you’re looking at in a browser instantly. Instapaper is typically not the space for urgent information as there is no scheduling or timing aspect of this tool. It is purely a depository.
      2. Social Networks: This is where a lot of urgent information goes. Further, if the information is something that could be urgent, useful, interesting or inspiring to friends, social networks are great. Here are two awesome ways to deal with social information:
        1. Storify: Storify is a great way to curate and share themed information. With Storify, you can present information you collect from social networks or websites into a visually accessible “story” that you can then publish. I like this platform as it’s considerably more digestible than a mere list of links in addition to the editorial license of curating content into your own themes. Here is an example of a Storify I curate here.
        2. Paper.li: Paper.li is a great way to regularly collect and curate information from sources you designate. Paper.li is different from Storify in that it automatically collects information from designated sources and self-publishes new versions of your “paper” at intervals you set. Further, you can setup your Paper.li to sort the content into topical sections, each of which appears in your single paper. This is different from Storify, which is more of a single “section.” Here is an example of a weekly Paper.li I curate here.
      3. Evernote: Some articles are so important that I want to keep forever. Here, articles are sent to Evernote. Keep in mind that with the free version of Evernote, notebooks are not shareable so the information is only for you.

As you can surmise, this process does take time. However, utilizing these tools dramatically reduces said time and effort involved. Also, practice makes perfect. #ExtraSelfAwareness.

Do you have a great tool you use? Perhaps you have a consideration of your own. How do you absorb information? Let me know, comment below.

@wluLex: Student Social Media Curators, Creators, Innovators.

This school year, starting in September ’12, the Washington and Lee University Communications & PR office challenged itself to create a socially legitimate channel for sharing and distributing relevant information to W&L students currently living in the small town of Lexington, VA.  Up to this point, the office has successfully engaged alums and parents via its Facebook page and Twitter handle, @wluNews. However, that simply wasn’t good enough…we were missing a huge and vital part of our audience: current students.

The current student population is most directly impacted by, and constitutes, the current snapshot of the active W&L community. They are what W&L is (sure, W&L prides itself on its vibrant alum network, but that’s more of what W&L was. Though I’m certainly not trying to downplay the importance of heritage). Not to mention, current students possess the greatest savvy of how to navigate the modern virtual information space. And of course, with this savvy comes the efficacy to be very selective when it comes to considering what is “relevant” and how to find it. A classic marketing problem presents itself yet again-the audience we want next the must is the most difficult to reach.

So, how can this valuable audience be engaged? We have less than enthusiastic stats on email readership, website page views are shockingly low and the news aggregator, a daily email titled “Campus Notices,” provides so much one-size-fits-all information in such a dry manner (text only) that its value is lost to students. Further, it takes no time to realize how little time mobile-ready students are willing to spend searching for and absorbing information. Long emails, 40K+ page websites and information hunts are simply unacceptable for students who are on the go and looking for time-sensitive info.

…Instant and ubiquitous gratification of the need for socially and personally relevant news…that is the name of the game.

So, what is socially and personally relevant to students? What is the best platform for making this information available everywhere? How can an official University office gain the necessary social legitimacy to find itself in the realm of the relevant?

Enter wluLex. Boom.

Mission Statement: wluLex is the student-led social media hub of creativity, information & interaction for the W&L community in Lexington.” 

Mission Statement

We interviewed an impressive pool of applicants for eight paid positions. In interviews, which also served as focus groups to learn about the current social media landscape on campus, we challenged students to blend the concepts of social media, school pride, relevant awareness and the growing ubiquity of mobile tech. What is relevant? Who is relevant? Why is it relevant? How does it become relevant? Where and when do you find it?

The students we hired are not simply savvy and diverse. Most importantly, they are curious and ambitious. They have a vision for how connected this community can be and they are willing to attain it. Here they are (these are the bio posters/infographics we’re using as part of our official launch campaign, which is taking place this week):

So, what has the team accomplished?

  • Amassed over 700 Twitter followers with great levels of engagement.
  • Created a workflow that involves each student having a different “beat” of student life and being responsible for taking that beat social (art, student organizations, student programming, varsity sports, campus recreation, community involvement, admissions and academics). Additionally, weekly meetings to synergize our visions are key. Finally, office hours which include individual Personal Growth Plans (blog post to follow soon) help keep each member intellectually and passionately engaged and improving.
  • Create content as well as curate. Examples:
  • Create an avenue for the student body to pose questions directly to other students.
  • Create an avenue for different University departments to quickly spread information to their audiences.
  • Provide insights on which social media platforms are currently relevant. Namely, Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest. (We’ve just launched our Facebook page and will be unveiling our Pinterest page in the coming weeks.)

And we’re just getting started.

What do you think? Have questions? Maybe some recommendations? I’m so all ears.

WLUR Top 150 Albums of 2012: 20-1 by @wluLex

And WLUR’s top album of the year is…

via: http://www.amazon.com/Five-Seconds/dp/B008234PBW/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1355775536&sr=8-4&keywords=twin+shadow

Five Seconds by Twin Shadow

 

Check out the top 20: here

Here are the top 150: here

An E-mail to the Team Before the Break: Holidaze Brain Food

Here is a recent email to the ballers that are @wluLex (Twitter)–Washington and Lee University’s student social media creators, curators and distributors.

Yo,

When you get a chance, here’s some grade-A thought fuel. GREAT investment of small amounts of time over the next month. Pick a handful to watch and we’ll talk about some of the greatest hits at our next meeting—if you had to pick just one for everyone to watch, which one would it be? Please feel free to share others!

  1. TED Talks on social media: http://mashable.com/2010/02/08/ted-talks-social-meida/
  2. The man, Steve Jobs’, famous Stanford Commencement speech: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VHWUCX6osgM
  3. TED Talks on Creativity, Inspiration & Passion: http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/4-mustsee-ted-talks-creativity-inspiration-passion/
  4. Meet the Coolest Mayor in the World (an example of where personality & passion can lead): http://www.messynessychic.com/2012/11/28/meet-the-coolest-mayor-in-the-world/
  5. Best of the World 2013 (via Hank, because it’s awesome): http://travel.nationalgeographic.com/travel/best-trips-2013/#/shangri-la-records-memphis-tennessee_61106_600x450.jpg

See the passion in the speakers’ eyes? That is what we are shooting for next term. It is time to embrace our roles as the ambassadors for our ideas.

Keep it Kept,

Jamie Goodin
Washington and Lee University ’10
Web Communications Specialist
x5854, 434-944-5446
@wlunews
@wluwebcomm
@wlulex
@goodinhere
 
What do you guys think? Any other videos? Any thoughts inspired?

Questioning the Good Life: Eric Wilson on the Importance of Melancholy

As part of Washington and Lee’s interdisciplinary seminar, “Questioning the Good Life,” sociologist and author (here’s his book, Against Happiness: In Praise of Melancholy) Eric Wilson gave a lecture and discussion on the importance of melancholy (W&L press release here). I was lucky enough to manage @wluNews‘ twitter account for the event. My arm wasn’t twisted too much–who doesn’t want to unlock the secrets to happiness?

In a very small nutshell, Wilson argues that periods of melancholy, defined below, are necessary to happiness as melancholy allows us to see the world in new, infinite ways. Ultimately, I thought he did a better job of articulating the merits of novel experiences in life than he did in defining happiness. I guess they say variety is the spice of life.

During the Q&A after the lecture, I asked him if the familiar, non-novel parts of our lives have value. After all, are we honestly supposed to live our entire lives in a sea of uncertainty to find happiness? To which he replied: there must be familiarity to come back to-or else the unknown has no meaning. There must be a polarization. —More thoughts on his response to follow in the comments section.

Here are the associated tweets (chronologically) as well as some stuff that didn’t make the Twitterwebs.

#wluHappinessHere, Wilson made two important distinctions:

Melancholy vs. Depression: Melancholy is the novel, unique, random feelings of sadness we all feel. Depression is a state at which the feelings of sadness are no longer novel or unique–because they’re ever present.

“American” Happiness vs. Joy: Roughly speaking, “American” happiness is a feeling of contentment, of having what you want. Joy, on the other hand is the feeling one gets when he or she becomes so overwhelmed with emotion that crying is only a hair away.

#wluHappiness

Noted that he suffers from depression as well has bipolar disorder. He urged medical treatment in dangerous situations, but seemed to hope that people don’t confuse “depression” and “melancholy.”

#wluHappiness

He recalled a difficult period in his life (starting college) and the terrible dread he felt; he had left home to play football for Army. It took the pain and sadness following his arrival to make him realize a huge change was needed.

#wluHappiness

Here, Wilson started pulling in some of philosophy and literature’s greatest hits: Pseudo-Aristotle, Sarte, Blake, James, Keats, Tolstoy, and Dickinson. I’ve simply added a few relevant quotes with tweets below; when paired with the tweets, Wilson’s general views are well-outlined.

#wluHappiness

Blake: Without contraries is no progression. Attraction and repulsion, reason and energy, love and hate, are necessary to human existence.

#wluHappiness

Blake: Art can never exist without naked beauty displayed.

#wluHappiness

James: To study the abnormal is the best way of understanding the normal. 
#wluHappiness

Keats: Nothing ever becomes real till it is experienced. 

#wluHappiness

Dickinson: My business is circumference. Here, Wilson quoted Dickinson who viewed things from every angle. This multi-angled view of the world may go on toward infinity.

#wluHappiness

Tolstoy: It is amazing how complete is the delusion that beauty is goodness. 

#wluHappiness

Blake: To see the world in a grain of sand, and to see heaven in a wild flower, hold infinity in the palm of your hands, and eternity in an hour.

#wluHappineses

So yeah, I’m pumped for the next chat. Please feel free to comment or start a discussion below!

WLUR Top 25: 11/7/12

This week’s WLUR Top 25. Tame Impala’s Lonerism LP continues to hold the number 1 spot for a third week in a row. Click the WLUR icon and enjoy via Spotify!

Washington and Lee's Radio Station

Number 1: “Mind Mischief,” Tame Impala. Lonerism

Storify: Parents Weekend at Washington and Lee 2012

Another Storify effort. Here, @wluLex (Twitter) collecting and curating uses of “#wluParents” on Twitter and Instagram. Crowdsourcing win.

#wluParents

Storify: Halloween at Washington and Lee 2012

Happy Halloween! Here’s how #spooky W&L was this year: http://myw.lu/TUCaz7. Via @wluLex (Twitter).

Storify is a GREAT way to combine the social media content of your choice into a feature story. It can draw content from Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Flickr, Instagram, Google, and even simple URLs. Dig it.

Infographic: Top 5 Things to Do This Parents Weekend

W&L's Parents WeekendAnother infographic! This content brought to you by my awesome team, @wluLex (Twitter).