News Update :

A Facebook Experience

Friday, September 12, 2008

I may be the ultimate multitasker. I always have TV, usually live news, on in the background while I’m working. I often just turn a video up loud so I can listen without bothering to mute the TV. It works for me. . .

Yesterday, I read on a blog or heard on TV something I considered unusually nonsensical about alternative energy and the (non) positions of our political candidates. What strikes me is that none of them are willing to state the basic truth; it took us a long time to get into this mess, and it’s going to take years to get out, even if we have broadly-based commitment, which we clearly don’t have at the moment.

I’ve heard the TV ads of T. Boone Pickens. They make sense, and I had looked at the Pickens Plan website, which I thought was impressive. But yesterday, something made me mad enough to go there and sign up, right in the middle of writing my blog post. I didn’t want to spend much time, but I did decide to register and add their icon to my Facebook page, frankly not knowing exactly what was going to happen. With very little effort it went onto my profile page; if I could have gotten it onto my home page there, I don’t know how. Doesn’t much matter anyway.

When I noticed a picture of one of my former students and her beautiful children, I decided to say hello, so I sent her a quick Facebook email. The Pickens Plan icon had been added to my email template—fascinating, but I needed to finish the post.

Today, I wanted to explore further. I checked my profile page and see that there’s a feed with one piece of current news from the Pickens site. I discovered that the link that shows on Facebook,, is the personal page of the site, not the home page. I was there, so I filled out a profile; just what they intended, I think. They ask more questions and allow for more detail than most profile pages. That level of detail will help other members who want to organize something, which seems to be the main objective. Maybe some human attention will be paid at “Pickens Central.” That remains to be seen. I was member number 157330, so they can’t spend much time on each one! He’s already maxed out his Facebook friends at 4921!! (If you have a Facebook account, you can log in and see it. If you don't--why not?). But you can still invite your friends to his own community, and there are multiple opportunities to do so. You can also see other members by zip code. “Cape Cod” also worked for me, which suggests a robust search engine, since it’s not a zip, town or state.

So the community building efforts look good. It also has a MySpace app. It has email, RSS and supports Twitter. It also supports a blog that is apparently open to all registered members—not that common in my experience. Like Facebook (it looks as if it may use the same wall application) I can upload photos and videos to my personal page.

I successfully added a “member” badge to this site; see the right bar. It has a link to my personal page on the Pickens site—cool! They have other widgets that have news feeds.

At this point, I’m a bit tired, and I don’t think I’ve fully explored the capabilities of this site. It occurs to me that if I was spending a lot of my own money on this campaign, I’d want the best, and that’s what he has, although I can’t find out his agency of record or site developers. But they are good!

It also occurs to me that what I initially considered the quick addition of an app to my Facebook page—mostly to see how it worked—led me on quite an odyssey. It inspired me to set up my own personal page and to see who else in my area was involved. It also offered me opportunities to spread the word—some of which I took; others of which I want to think about.

My personal opinion—a smashing use of Web 2.0 techniques in the service of a critically important public issue!
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