Sunday, November 27, 2011

Facebook Friending Strategy (Social Network Niceties)

This post is a few scattered thoughts on the following:
What is the purpose of facebook?
Why have a “friending” strategy?
Who do I consider “friending” on facebook?
Of those I consider “friending”, how do I filter?

Before making any serious choices, you must have a set of values and ideals that give you direction. Putting it another way, if you don’t care about anything then you don’t need to make decisions. What you care about and value will influence your use of social media tools, and how you use them.

If you are using facebook, chances are that you want to connect with friends and people you know. That’s kind of the whole point of this thing. Unless you are a celebrity of some sort with fans you want to communicate with, or who you want to communicate with each other, there is not a whole lot of point in deliberately trying to tick up a great number of friends.

Facebook is not (first and foremost) a marketing website. Google plus is where you can get to know new people based on interests rather than merely interacting with people you already know. This makes G+ much more useful as an all-encompassing (one-stop) social media tool.

Why have a friending strategy?
So that you are being considerate to others. So that you are aware of your own actions (you might be stalking or freaking others out without realising)

Who do I consider friending on facebook?
Anyone I know through work (other teachers and students), sport (parkour, rugby of old), old school mates, people I know from church, people that I interact with in other ways (online, meet in airports, etc)

How do I filter?
I don’t usually friend anyone who has a high level of privacy on their facebook page. If they don’t reveal a lot of info about them self it is likely they don’t want further interactions or they only want to interact with close friends.
I don’t tend to friend anyone who doesn’t have many friends. If someone has 50 friends and is one of my students then they clearly don’t have much online activity. I will balance this with how old someone is - older people tend to have fewer friends but sometimes it is good to have that connection in case you might want to get in touch.
I don’t friend anyone who is immature and who I am not seeking to influence to help them grow into a more mature person - they will only spam my information stream.
I try to only friend people that I will potentially interact with, either to contribute something of value to them or to for them to contribute something of value to me.

There is a tension to keep in balance with friending. You must balance your desire to be in contact with (have access to) a person with your reasonable guess of how much they desire to have contact with you.

I can see more shift towards Google+ over the next few years as the platform develops and as people begin to understand (and trust) the wider social use that G+ offers compared to it’s main competitors (facebook and twitter).

Friday, November 18, 2011

Voting System Analysis for the Referendum + Helpful Table Format (NZ Elections)

The following is my current reasoning behind voting in the referendum the way I plan to (for a change to SM). I'm interested in your thoughts about my reasoning so please let me know what you think.  If you want to skip to it, the table is at the end with a link to the Google Doc (it wouldn't fit nicely on the Blogger layout).

Ranking systems seem superior to non-ranking methods of voting. This is due to votes not being wasted. If your top ranked person doesn’t get in, and there isn’t already a clear winner, your second placed ranking will count. This means FPP and MMP should be crossed off the list leaving PV, STV, and SM. [Edit: I've just discovered that I misread the info - SM IS NOT A RANKING SYSTEM.  However, it is good because, like MMP, it is a good combination of local and nation-wide representation

If we didn’t have a party system, I would prefer PV because that gives the best local representation. Since we seem stuck with a party system it makes sense to have some influence over the party representation in government. This means we should be considering STV and SM only. [Edit: and MMP if my ranking criteria is out the window - still SM + ranking would be good]

STV requires a coalition to be formed on most occasions. This gives “extra” influence to smaller parties beyond the influence they deserve from the votes. I don’t think this is fair. [Edit: Likewise MMP relatively more often requires coalitions, and with parties that are over-represented because of so many list seats available]

SM doesn’t usually require a coalition which means smaller parties have the influence in parliament at the same level as the number of votes they received. [Edit: and those smaller parties do have influence which is important]

From this analysis, SM (Supplementary Member) seems like the best system of voting. So vote for a change in voting system and vote for SM.

My analysis began by forming a table [Edit: Table will be updated to fix my error but I will keep the original available] (link goes to a Google Doc you can print for easy reference).  I used the information sent out to all registered voters in the election pack.  If you prefer more detail you can read what the Maxim Institute have to say.  My view was not influenced by their conclusion that SM is the one to pick.  I came to my choice independently.  A quick look around the Internet has failed to turn up anything from the political left on the voting systems.  There is the campaign for MMP group perhaps, but they don't seem to realise that all of the benefits of MMP and more are available under SM.

Maybe I'm way off.  If you think so, let me know and let me know why you think this is so.



Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Speaking “To” Versus Speaking “With”

Do you see other participants in a conversation as and audience for your ego? Or do you listen with intent?

Quite a while ago I came to the hard conclusion that I was often seeing myself as the main person involved in the conversation. I became concerned that I wasn’t listening to the other person in a way that was meaningful. Instead of trying to understand the meaning of their words and their feelings behind the words, I was listening for key words that I could use to jump in and speak my opinion.

What I do now is to try and follow what the other person says, repeating back to them in my own words and with my own experiences in order to ensure that I understand what they are saying and how they feel about it. This creates strong links with the person you are conversing with, and even if you don’t have an experience that is similar to them you can still show that you value what they say.

The trick is to really value what they say. If you fake it, they will know. Two things that are helpful to remember in this “real” valuing:
  1. You don’t have to value something that is not valuable to you. There is a difference between understanding what someone else values and valuing it yourself. You will not typically form any lasting friendship with someone in whom you do not share much in the way of values. In practice, there are very few people who do not share something with others though. We are all human and seeking answers on one level or another.
  2. Someone may be further ahead, or further behind you, in their experiences. You can see your role in listening to them as an encourager to keep them inspired, or you can draw inspiration from them. It can be hard to listen to someone excited about something you discovered yourself some years ago, but if you apply the right mindset to the situation you can forge a positive link with the person.

At the heart of all of this is love. Do you care enough for others to take the time to listen to them? Or would you rather say your piece and then move on to the next person - cold marketing style that is no different from email spam that nobody wants to engage with?

“To” is a one-way process.

“With” is communication together, on a journey, sharing strengths and overcoming weakness.

Even if you see this as splitting semantic hairs, I hope you can see the value of real listening and collaborative communication.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Ecclesiastes (Funeral Reading/Message)

My grandmother died last week and I had the honour of giving the following reading at her funeral.  The people attending were mostly non-churchgoing folk.  I wanted something that could provide some comfort but at the same time challenged people.  As always, I welcome your feedback.

This reading is from the book of Ecclesiastes which is wise king Solomon’s account of his search for meaning in life, and in death.

(3) What does man gain by all the toil at which he toils under the sun? (4) A generation goes, and a generation comes, but the earth remains forever.

2:4, 8, 21, 
(4) I made great works. I built houses and planted vineyards for myself. (8) I also gathered for myself silver and gold and the treasure of kings and provinces. I got singers, both men and women, and many concubines (20) [but] I turned about and gave my heart up to despair over all the toil of my labors under the sun, (21) because sometimes a person who has toiled with wisdom and knowledge and skill must leave everything to be enjoyed by someone who did not toil for it.

3:1-2, 12-13 
For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: (2) a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; (12) I perceived that there is nothing better for them than to be joyful and to do good as long as they live; (13) also that everyone should eat and drin/>And Solomon’s second conclusion is that we will all die one day, and we are reminded of this in the death of all loves ones, so we need to ensure that we bear our own mortality in mind when we make decisions and go about our lives.