Gen Wise Perspective

Gen Y's perspective (pun intended) on our journey through work, life, and everything in between.

Archive for the category “Technology”

What are 10 things I learned from my first SxSW Interactive experience?

Throwing up the hashtag sign. Yeah, we're nerds.

This was my first year at SxSW Interactive, and I have to say that it was absolutely a blast. I am definitely going back next year, and now I have these 10 lessons to take with me:

1. Pack your hipster gear

Never in my life have I seen so many hipsters in one place. This one is merely a joke—please don’t take me literally and go buy skinny jeans, a plaid shirt and funky sunglasses just for SxSW. But be ready to do some great people watching. And if you’re a hipster, then you absolutely belong here.

2. You look like an outcast without a Mac

I was definitely one of the only people without a Mac or an iPad. Boo me. This point is just another fun one. You can rock your Dell with pride too.

3. Carry your chargers with you at all times

Everyone here was hoarding the outlets. Good thing they were so accommodating and had power strips everywhere. I mean, we have to be connected at ALL times, right? Trust me: you do not want to have your phone or laptop die on you. It’s your way to stay in touch with everyone. Keep your charger on you, even when you go out at night.

4. Use a location-based check-in service (even if just for this occasion)

So, I actually didn’t do this. I don’t use Foursquare or Gowalla and I made it through SxSW just fine. Part of the reason is because everyone also shared their location via Twitter and/or Facebook. But really check-in apps are ideal for a conference like this.

You’re trying to meet up with people you either just met or only know from social media and planned to meet in person. We’re all floating around one concentrated area, so it only makes sense to check in and see what’s happening around you.

5. Talk to people you don’t know

This might be the most important point. Talk to everyone because that is the most interesting part of SxSW. I learned more from the people I met than any panel I attended.

6. Attend sessions you know nothing about

I realized that the panels and speakers aren’t very beneficial if you already know about the topic. Don’t get me wrong—these are some very smart people with great insight, but if I blog about social media and talk about how it can be used from a marketing perspective, why would I attend a panel on it? I made that mistake. Then I found myself thinking: I’ve heard most of this before.

But, there are so many panels and speakers that covered subjects I don’t really know anything about. I should’ve gone to those, even if it wasn’t directly related to the industry I work in. I’d rather learn something new than hear the same ole shit I read/write about all the time.

7. Prepare to cope with a hangover for a few days in a row

Bring your aspirin, eye drops and whatever else you need to deal with your hangover and lack of sleep. It’s inevitable. You want to go to the events and parties at night, but you want to make it to those early sessions too. SxSW is one place you need to be a trooper.

8. The SxSW Go app is extremely useful for figuring out which sessions to go to

The official SxSW Go app was great for finding out about everything going on around you and planning ahead. You’re able to set up a schedule of events you want to attend and receive alerts beforehand, which is very helpful because time really gets away from you when you’re down there.

9. Wear comfortable shoes

You will end up walking all over the place all day and night long. Be prepared for it. You’ll regret it if you wear shoes that aren’t made for walking. I always wear flats and I’m still bandaging up my baby toe on both feet. Ha!

10. Unofficial parties and unplanned outings with new friends are WAY better than the official stuff

You’ve probably heard this before and it’s so true. The official stuff ends up being packed. You’ll probably wait in line and be super crowded in. Not very fun.

On that same note, skip a panel or session and go to lunch with new friends instead. I promise you it’ll be much more interesting and beneficial to you. If you stick to all the planned, official events you will be missing out on the best part of what SxSW has to offer: the people around you.

Above all, take a step back, think about why you’re there, and enjoy what’s happening around you. Take your nose out of your smartphone for a few minutes and take it all in. There is a lot of creativity and innovation happening all around you. You don’t want to miss it.

For those who have been to SxSW, are there any other vital lessons I should add to this list? Let me know about them in the comments.

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When is it necessary to communicate face-to-face?

As digital natives, Gen Y-ers have less of a tendency to communicate about things in person. Kim and I work in the same office but still email and tweet at each other instead of just getting up and talking face-to-face (although we do that too—she’s my girl!). But, it’s not uncommon for Gen Y to behave this way. We text or send a Facebook message before we pick up the phone and call you.

Yet I still believe there are times when it’s necessary to communicate face-to-face.

It’s a matter of respect. There are certain topics of conversation that deserve to be discussed in person—serious, personal and/or private matters, for instance. Please do them justice by making the effort to speak about them when you’re able to look someone in the eye.

And what about tone of voice? Let’s not forget that things can easily be misinterpreted when the computer (or mobile device) stands in the way. I’m an extremely sarcastic person (those of you that know me are nodding along thinking, “Yep, she’s a smart ass”), but sarcasm doesn’t translate very well if someone can’t hear your tone of voice.

This last point is going to sound so obvious, but the other time I think it’s necessary to communicate face-to-face is when you’re in the same room as someone. I know we all sit there two-thumbing our phones while at dinner with friends, but aside from that being rude…it just doesn’t make sense. Be present. Be in the moment.

I’m not saying you can’t check your phone, but have you ever seen those people who don’t say a word to one another because they’re so absorbed with whatever is happening on their phone? Come on, what is SO important on your phone that you can’t speak to the person sitting across the table from you?

Maybe I’m a little old school. I do still use a notebook and paper. I prefer reading actual books instead of using an e-reader. But I really think there’s some validity to my face-to-face argument.

Why?

Face-to-face interaction will never be completely replaced. We’re human beings, aren’t we? We have an inherent need to interact with one another. Let’s not become robots that are unable to communicate in person or have no personality because we never had to learn how to talk to someone without taking time to think of a witty response before hitting send.

Think about this: job interviews are face-to-face. Meetings are face-to-face (sometimes). Other business matters are still often settled face-to-face. Networking, although it can be done via social media, also happens face-to-face. The first impression someone has of you probably has a lot to do with…your face.

Just trying to make a point here.

What point is that? Don’t undervalue face-to-face interaction, regardless of how tech-savvy you are. There are times when it’s necessary.

(Image from msnbc.com–link to textaholic article by clicking on the pic)

Is Gen Y using Twitter to their benefit?

If you didn’t realize already, I am a huge advocate for Twitter. I am on there every day pretty much, and I have met some truly amazing people from the site. However, I have so many friends that are looking for jobs/internships and give me the hardest time for telling them to make one. Granted you need to do other things besides be on Twitter, it’s a great place to start. Here are some quick Friday tips for using Twitter the right way (in my opinion of course):

Get involved in chats.

Every day, there are thousands of people that get involved in chats on Twitter. Using a #hashtag  and setting a specific time lets people all engage on the same topic, and share ideas. My personal favorite is #u30pro, a chat started by David Spinks, Lauren Fernandez, and Scott Hale. It’s a community and twitter chat that focuses on issues and trends surrounding young professionals. Not only can you gain knowledge from people that are in the same field as you, you can meet some awesome people too.

TALK to people.

Sounds crazy, right? Talking to people seems like something everyone would know to do. I have seen plenty of accounts that just RT articles (usually just their own) and don’t take the time to talk to anyone. Remember: Twitter is a conversation. If you are just RTing posts all day, people will get sick of you fast. Have as many @ replies as you do article posts. Keep the conversations going.

Show some personality.

It’s okay to tweet about things you are into that don’t relate to your job. I’m pretty sure that a good 50% of my tweets are about the Chicago Bulls. No matter what team you root for or what hobby you have, its good to let people see it every now and then. It shows you are on there to let people know more about you, and not just your job.

For most, these tips are a refresher. Do you have any quick Twitter tips? Let me know what they are.

And lastly, never, under any circumstance, should you send an Auto DM. Don’t even get me started on those….

Image source.

Team Facebook vs. Team Google: Which side are you on?

I don’t mean to pick sides, but this is an interesting topic.

Today, Facebook announced the launch of their e-mail/inbox service. Even though they are calling it a “social inbox” instead of e-mail, each user will have an @facebook.com address. Honestly, I’m not too excited about it.

Although I am a social media nerd who is obsessed with new ways of meeting and interacting with others, it will be hard for me to want to use a Facebook e-mail account. To me, Facebook is a place to see what is new with my friends and family, and keep up on the latest events my friends are attending and promoting. If I want to talk to someone personally and privately, I send them a message. It’s as simple as that.

Besides that, Facebook doesn’t really have the privacy issues under control yet, and I am always constantly checking to see how mine are set to make sure I am not giving out information I don’t want to. I’d say step one would be to get privacy orders managed. That way you have the users trust and they know they can trust the service. When I polled my Facebook friends/Twitter users yesterday, 90% said they would not use a Facebook e-mail/messaging account because of privacy issues.

Another point that was raised was that G-Mail already has e-mail under control for many. With the amount of free space available, a chat option integrated, and fast connectivity already in place, most G-Mail users will stay right where they are.  And how could you blame them? I am totally on Team Google for that reason alone. I don’t need to set up an entirely new e-mail account, let alone have another account I have to check.

Don’t get me wrong, I still spend countless hours on Facebook each week. I just feel the need isn’t there for an e-mail account. Maybe once they roll out the plans for it there will be more rationale behind it, but for now I am on the fence.

What do you think?

In other e-mail related news, AOL announced a new launch of their e-mail service. You can read more about that here.

Is Gen Y’s behavior really such a bad thing?

Photo from ThomasTalksTech.com

Of course to some extent each generation has its own characteristics, but Gen Y’s always seem to be discussed negatively. It’s starting to get on my nerves, which is why I was thrilled to see David Teicher providing some clarification on our generation in this AdAge article earlier this week.

After I read David’s article I realized a main part of this problem: we’re just not on the same page as other generations. This probably happens every time a new generation comes up the pike. So let me remind you: Just because we do things differently doesn’t mean that it’s wrong.

Many of the “issues” brought up about Gen Y are the same as incompetent behavior that occurs with people of any generation–It just comes out in a different form.

For instance, a Millennial might send an email with “UR” instead of “your,” but is that really any worse than someone from a different generation using “you’re” when they’re trying to say “your”?

My point is that the problems with work ethic and the way people approach their jobs (or job hunting) occur across the board. It has nothing to do with our generation in particular.

I think the main thing that sets our generation apart is that we’re digital natives. Technology drives the way we communicate/interact, socialize, approach our work…basically how we do everything. But here’s the thing: our entire society is shifting toward digital. So maybe Gen Y is actually ahead of the curve, huh?

It’s something to think about.

But please, embrace what Gen Y has to offer because there are many hardworking, innovative, intelligent and well-spoken Millennials out there. I promise. Work with us instead of going against us and blaming our faults on our age. Maybe, as Nancy Lublin suggested in her Fast Company article, we need to be managed differently. Isn’t it worth trying to collaborate? Wouldn’t that be much more productive?

Are we ready to get rid of print completely?

Last week, U.S. News & World Report, a monthly news print publication, announced it will no longer be distributing print copies of it’s reports. Cutting back on print and switching to digital is a rising trend in society. This lead me to question, are we really ready to get rid of print resources completely?

Call me old school if you want. Personally, whenever I am waiting for a Metra or passing time before an appointment of any sort, grabbing a magazine or print newspaper is what helps me pass the time. There is something about holding a magazine in your hand and being able to see it in a regular font size that makes me feel like I can never completely turn away from print. I know many that love their Kindle devices for reading books, but I still love to buy hard copies of books and read them.

Timeliness

There is one aspect where digital will reign over print any day: timeliness. Breaking news is sent to Twitter and RSS feeds instead of the local papers. The instantaneous word of mouth provided in the digital realm is one force that will win over print any day. Print can’t compete with technology in this aspect since timing is everything in the news. One point, digital.

Magazines

With iPads all the new craze, newspaper subscribers are logging in to read the latest digest instead of going to the newsstand. But what about magazines? I still love my monthly subscriptions to Chicago magazine and Elle, and don’t plan on giving those up for the digital world anytime soon. Actually, that’s one of the only times a day when I am not in front of a computer screen. One point, print magazines.

Technology overload

Maybe it is the takeaway from the technology world for me. Trying to find a time a day where you aren’t in front of a computer screen is becoming a bigger trend then ever. And with Gen-Y’s out in the business workforce, technology is pointing at them in all directions. It’s nice every once in awhile to just take a break. That’s when print comes back into my world.

What do you think? Do you read magazines/newspapers online or in print? Are you ready to ditch print?

What Does “Social” Really Mean Anyway?

Inspired by a Harvard Business Review article, “The Devolving Meaning of Social Media” and a blog post reaction to that article by Matt Cheuvront, I decided that I needed to turn to the dictionary for answers.

Why? Because these people are bringing up some great points – what does social really mean? And, has the definition been tainted by the hype of social media?

Thank you online dictionaries (like m-w.com, my favorite) for providing these definitions of the word social:

  • “Marked by or passed in pleasant companionship with one’s friends or associates”
  • “Of or relating to human society, the interaction of the individual and the group, or the welfare of human beings as members of society”
  • “Tending to form cooperative and interdependent relationships with others of one’s kind”

The last one is my favorite. It gets right to the point: forming two-way relationships with your niche audience. There you go marketers. Merriam-Webster just schooled us.

The point here is that this definition came from the dictionary. It didn’t come from some “expert” or “guru” trying to give you the secret to social media marketing success (because there is no secret). It’s taking a basic principle and applying it to today’s technology and forms of communication. People have always been social and will always have an inherent need to connect with one another, but now a main way we do this is via social media platforms.

Apply that to marketing. The idea of a consumer wanting to make a personal connection with a brand has always been there. All social media does is provide the tools for making that connection. Those tools will continue to evolve and change many times over, but social networking (in some form or another) is here to stay because in its simplest form it’s just…socializing.

So before you get all caught up in “doing social media,” just take a step back and really think about what social actually means. It’s the core definition of the word that really drives the use of social media for marketing purposes, not the other way around.

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