Monthly Archives: March 2012

Quantifying Words and Impact

Measuring anything is generally the stuff of scientist or statisticians.  As one who brokers in words it can be hard at first to think about how we might measure the impact of what we put out in the world.  There are so many variables. But, after priming my brain reading an explanation of a scientific study written for wordies, I was in the right frame of mind to come up with my own equation of quantifying words and impact.

I started out with something obvious: Hit Count.  One of the benefits of online journalism is that producers can really understand which articles are most widely read. With the traditional newspaper, I imagine editors relied heavily on reader mail to estimate how many might be interested in a particular subject. But with the internet, we know this within hours or even minutes. The immediacy of the internet and hyper-immediacy of social media and mobile technology have changed how we gauge interest in what we write.

But interest isn’t necessarily impact.  A video of a shy teenager who sings like Paverati went viral this week. That doesn’t necessarily mean teenagers all over the world will start belting out arias. But at least a few of them may know what an aria is now. In comparison, a member of Congress was reprimanded for wearing a hoodie on the House Floor this week. This was also the result of another viral video. And the impact of this act could be far broader.

Although having a high hit count on a given piece of media is necessary to have an impact, I decided that hit count alone isn’t enough to measure it.

My next thought went to comments.  Comments abound on line. Ever since the early days of the internet, we have been contributors in one way or another.  Remember chat rooms?

But. there’s are more than a couple of things to consider when using comments to measure the impact of what is written. Comments carry immediacy, but often lack intimacy, and quantity (q) doesn’t equal (≠) quality (Q).  No matter how many trolls contribute with their best AM radio host impressions, their contributions seldom make genuine dialoge (d) let alone discourse (D).  So with that in mind I give you the following expressions to consider:

Q < q
q without Q ≠ d
Q + q = d
d + q = D

There’s a larger question here of how we measure the the quality of comments to determine whether they contribute to dialogue, but for this purpose, lets just assume we’ve figured that out. I am not ignoring the importance of this question, just setting it aside for later consideration.

Moving on to another expression that will eventually become part of an overall equation to measuring impact is sharing (S). Media that goes viral can be considered both qualitative and quantitative.  Although not all viral media is qualitative it is all quantitative. With that it mind the question becomes how we measure the quality (Q) of viral media.

So now we add action (A) to the equation. If we want to measure the impact of media and online journalism, we need to consider action. Action is what defines Effective Media (EM), and Effective Media can be measured by the Action that is a direct result of Quality Dialogue that is Shared:

(EM=(QD(S)) = A

So, if we want to consider Impact by measuring Action, that measurement has to be proportional.

A local news story that creates community action for example can be considered effective, where a local story that goes national without Action may not be considered as effective. And, this requires us to decide which actions are effective, and which are not.

Is community action less effective than legislative change? Is legislative change more effective than public opinion?  Does public opinion have a place in Discourse where ideas are considered with great rigor?  And how do we translate and channel all of this back to those who create content, news, media and journalism?

For producers, be they journalist, content writers, media creators or what ever falls in to the et. al. of this category it’s important to consider why we do this.  Yes, we want to tell stories. Yes, we want to put information out there that may not otherwise see the light of day. Yes, we want to eat.  But ultimately, altruistically, what is it we are really trying to contribute to?






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Facing Facebook Part Duex

Facing Facebook Part Deux, Soap Box MomentI must say, I feel compelled to have a soap box moment.

In many ways we (as in those who engage in Social Media) live very public lives. We share are thoughts, locations, our pictures and our moods with those we call “friends,” meaning those we choose to share with. There are many a various level of social media privacy, from the bare it all everything about me is public and out there for the world to see, to the “I will only show you a very abstract picture of myself and share things I come across” to “you want me to put what on the internet?”

Bottom line is if it’s on line, it is fair game, unless you have an iron clad agreement with everyone you choose as a friend to totally 100% respect your privacy.  Yeah, good luck with that.

So with that in mind, employers may feel compelled to want to look at your Facebook to see how you are amongst friends. Yes it is an invasion of privacy, but dear reader, I’d like for you to consider that such things may be for our benefit.

WHAT? Yes I can hear that internal dialogue you are having right now as you read this where you begin to think I’ve lost my mind, but I implore you to keep reading and hear me out.

I’d like to propose the possibility that just maybe by putting it all out there, flaws, faux pas, all of our reality, that we might be able to forgo pretense and truly accept each other as people. Who among us, doesn’t have something to hide? How much better might we be with a policy of radical honesty? Would we be inspired to be more forgiving when we recognize another’s deeds as ones we have committed as well?  Or is that simply just what it means to get to know one another by discovering who another person is based on the information she chooses to share?

Ideally, if asked, I’d like to say I would share, with the notion that I have absolutely nothing to hide. “Here you go, this is me, these are my friends, if you really want to judge what kind of worker I will be based on that, I hope you know how to read between the lines for both the good and the bad.”

On a more practical level though, I may feel compelled to lock some stuff down.  Because when it comes down to it, I gotta eat.



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Facing Facebook with Employers

Should a potential employer be given free reign in your Facebook account?Facing Facebook with EmployersWeb 2.o aka Social Media has transformed how we live. We get our news via Twitter, LinkedIn is a
requirement for anyone trying to get a job, and Facebook is now a verb.  So much shared personal information coupled with the power of Google (or your search engine of choice) is creating new dilemmas for us all, but especially for job hunters.  In a still struggling economy, those seeking work are now asked face Facebook with Employers.

A recent Associate Press report explains how employers are asking candidates for access to their Facebook accounts. While the savvy Social Media user knows how to successfully keep prying eyes from that which is discriminating, the act of cyper-stalking may have gone too far.

How much of our personal lives and opinions should we be required to share with a potential employer?  Is it fair to be judged on our personal comments between friends?  Will this deter a new resurgence of Facebook use?

It seems that the evolution of social and profesional mores lag behind that of social media.  What else can one expect, when we so willingly provide such low hanging fruit?


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