The Social Web at Work – Parachute 2009

Parachute, a New Zealand Christian Music Festival held at Mystery Creek, Hamilton, New Zealand, has recently finished and, while our church had its share of musicians playing at the event, I started receiving a fair number of followers during and after the event – even without attending, or referring to it. It would appear that the power of the social net is such that, by association, newcomers to a community will seek out others to follow and often it’s solely the adjacency to someone they currently follow that you will be selected as a person of potential interest.

One of these people is Vaughn Rivett who took the initiative to create a twitter identity for the event and used it to post information and public service announcements over the weekend. Vaughn has recently published an article on his blog outlining the process and what happened which makes for some interesting reading. I’ve already posted a comment suggesting the inclusion of hash tags for next years event, but click over there and make your own comments as to how he (and the organisers) could embrace the social web to gain even more traction for next year.

Since Vaughn started following me, we’ve had a bit of back and forth starting from an issue I was having posting a comment on one of his other articles, moving on to the fact I own a EEE netbook and resulting in him using some of his business contacts to actually find me a car charger that I was looking for prior to Christmas (and as a result, being able to help some other EEE owners looking for the same). Again, the social web strikes, connecting two people who didn’t know about each other until a few days ago, and resulting in unprompted offers of assistance to solve a problem.

Edit: As I drafted this article up, Vaughn has tweeted out (using a suggested hashtag) a request for retweets to do just this.

Awesome the speed of the web isn’t it?

New Plugins Added

I’ve recently been updating a number of the sites I look after to bring more services to them and make them a little more self administrating.
To this end, I’ve been gravitating toward some of the WordPress articles I’ve seen sitting in my RSS reader as well as those which come through my twitter stream.

One of there articles of note was “24 plugins that I currently use on my blog and why you should use them too” and, while I don’t use all of the plugins Marko uses, it was nice to have some I do use validated by their appearance in Markos list. It was also a new perspective on ‘useful functionality’, many of which I hadn’t previously considered.

To that end, I’ve recently added:

  • CSS Compress – Which essentially removes comments and unnecessary ‘stuff’ from the code which makes up a published page
  • Referrer Detector – Which is designed to use the referrer content in the incoming HTTP connection, and display a relevant greeting to the visitor
  • MaxBlogPress Ping Optimizer – Apparently there’s all sorts of “Really Bad Things(TM)” that can happen if you’re like me and end up re-editing posts after they are published (because of spelling/grammatical mistakes et. al.) which can end up getting your domain blocked by some ping update services.
  • Yet Another Related Posts Plugin – This will look at a posts categories, tags, title and content – then try and find other articles you’ve written which may be similar, suggesting them as further reading at the bottom of each article.

So – I’ll be test driving these here on Rob the Geek for a while, if they prove useful then I’ll look to add them to my other sites.

By the way – I’m LOVING the new WordPress 2.7 dashboard – adding new plugins is soo much easier now I don’t need to fire up an FTP client.

Your Life on the Internet

The following is a translation from an article published by French Magazine Le Tigre. It has been lovingly translated by one of my work colleagues (who happens to also be French, but now a New Zealand citizen, so he’s mostly okay 🙂 ).

It just goes to show how much information we’re putting out there on the web…

Happy birthday Marc. Today is the 5th December 2008 and you’re turning 29. Marc you don’t know me but never mind I know you very well. Unfortunately you’re Le Tigre’s first Google profile. Simple stuff really: we’re picking up one anonymous person and we’re telling his story thanks to everything this person has left and posted on the Internet, voluntarily or not. Do you mean we’re taking the piss? Not at all! We want to demonstrate the fact that private information posted on the Internet are not private anymore and that is worrying. But be sure that I have no bad intentions and I love meeting people I don’t know. Let me warn you: I am going to tell everything I know, in total contradiction to what we preach at Le Tigre. But this is for a good cause and anyway this is your fault: you just had to be careful.

I was initially sacred to have an issue with my sources. Not because I was missing information but because I had too much. Because of homonyms, there are at least 5 other Marc L on the Copains d’Avant website. But you’re not on this one: it must be a generation thing, at the end of 90s/early 2000, people registered massively on this website and published their education path in order to find friends they had lost (from primary school or college). It was before Facebook. Ah Facebook… But hold on. I met you Dear Marc on Flickr, this massive pictures’ database that allows people to publish photos and share them with friends (a feature Facebook quickly copied). In order to find someone to talk about, I did a search with “voyage” as key-word, hoping to find a good “client”, as journalists say, capable of posting his travels’ photos. I quickly found you: you have to admit you love Flickr where you posted more than 17000 photos in less than 2 years. Obviously there was a good chance for me to find your photos.

So Marc. Nice face, mid-long hair, thin face and big curious eyes. I am talking about the photo taken at the Starbuck’s Cafe in Montreal where you went with Helena and Jose on the 5th August 2008. Looks like you had a good evening as well as a good weekend in Vancouver. I really like this photo album because Jose took the photos and thus I can see you more often. You hired a motorbike, went to the beachfront but you didn’t have a swim, just chilled on the beach. Overall you spent a month in Canada. You were initially alone, at the Central Hotel, in Montreal (see the “around my hotel” photo album). You were there for work. Work? You have been an Architecture assistant in a big architecture firm, LBA, since last September (see your profile on Facebook). The firm has several offices in several cities and you’re supposed to work in the Pessac office, in the Bordeaux region. I guessed that because you often go to the Utopia (cinema/cafe in Bordeaux) and you often go to Arcachon. So in Montreal you were in an office with Steven, Philipp, Peter, working on new building plans, in front of 2 computers, one desktop and one laptop. By zooming the photo we can even see that you had a Packard-Bell laptop and that you used paper sheet as a mousepad. I didn’t say it was interesting, I just said we could see it. On the 21st August, Steven gave you a ride to the airport. Back in France to attend Juliette and Dominique’s wedding then the week after your Lola’s (your niece) baptism in Libourne. Lola is Luc’s sister; Luc often makes funny faces with his glasses.

But let’s talk about you. You’re single and heterosexual (see Facebook). In spring 2008 you had an affair with Claudia R who works at the “Centre culturel franco-autrichien” in Bordeaux (didn’t find it easily though because of the ü character that you have to spell ue in Google). I confirm that she’s a charming woman: small breasts, short hair, nice legs. You give us her parents’ details, Boulebard V in Bordeaux. You played petanque in Arcachon with Lukas T, who’s a colleague of hers. At the end of May, there are only 4 photos of your stay at Claudia’s apartement (looks like you wanted to hide something) and then a more compelling photo a few days later, taken by Claudia herself: we can see her bed and you’re laid down. With your clothes on though. On another one you’re brushing your teeth. It was on the 31st May: 2 days earlier you were at Lukas’ party (nice party where Lukas played piano and sang songs in German as, everyone had a good laugh as you can see in the video on Flick). On the 31st the way you and Claudia hugged each other tells the story. And then on the 22nd June, this time for sure, you’re holding hands at the Cap Ferret where you went for a walk. It’s the last time I’ve heard from Claudia. Please note than I have her work phone number (found the job description on Google and I know she looks after people’s recruitment) so I could give her a call. But even if I could, I won’t dwell on it. Before going out with Claudia, you were with Jennifer (it lasted 2 years at least) who like modern art (you went to Beaubourg together and then you went to see Madonna at Paris Bercy). She was living in Angers before moving to Metz, her cat’s name is Lula and she looks a bit like Claudia. In summer 2006 you went to a camping in Pornic, driving a white Golf Volkswagen. You went to the Atlantic coast, then to Brittany. You had short hair at this time and I have to admit long hair fit you better.

We didn’t talk about music. At the end of the 90s you were playing in a punk band; you were living in Merignac (near Bordeaux). There are still traces on this period on Flickr of course but also on Google archives. You know what? That’s where I found you mobile number: 068336****. I wanted to check out whether this number was still current. I called you, you said “Allo?, I said “Marc?, you said “Who’s that?, I hanged up the phone. Here it is: I have your mobile. This article was saying: “2001 was a great year for the Punks. Looked after by Domino, they performed in front of more than 700 people at the Olympia in Arcachon. It was a great concert”. But it looks like the band split in 2002. We understand why: you went to university in Montpellier (see Facebook, Education) and the others pursued their studies as well… But you see, never give up, because with Michel M, the guitarist, you played together again, on the 19th June 2007 at the Cafe Maritime in Bordeaux. There’s a short video in which I heard you singing, nothing’s great, just OK. And then with Dom, you started playing together again in the streets of Nantes during the music festival in 2008. You had practiced at his girlfriend’s place (Carine T). Dom is Dominique F, he’s finishing his PhD in Bordeaux. The subject is a sociology study of migrants. Funnily enough, I found you had an page on Youtube while searching for information about Dom. And then that you were in Italy early 2008 (till the 27th March when you filmed your comeback in Bordeaux). I have to admit I didn’t find out what you were doing in Rome: you probably went there for work because we can see you live in an apartment with a laptop. You went to a party with Philippe S and sang on Valentine’s Day at the Gep Wine bar.
I cheated twice: to access your personal profile on Facebook I setup a fake profile and I sent you a friend request… You didn’t accept my request at first – unlike Helena C (who’s one of your friend) – and you replied (in English I don’t know why): “Hi Who are you? Regards Marc”. I was about to write a lie (that I was a Facebook fan living in Vancouver and that I loved your photos and all this bullshit) but when I was about to click “Send” Facebook advised me: “If you send a message to Marc L, you allow him to see your profile and friends as well as basic information for a duration of a month”. I thought that the reciprocity should be true and then I didn’t have to send my reply back to you as I had access to your basic profile.

I’m thinking of the year 1998, 10 years ago, when everyone was going on about the power of Internet. I probably would never found anything about Marc L at this time. But nowadays I found everything I wanted. I can imagine what your life is like, your life as a young employee and soon-to-be architect, your love for music and how much you enjoy playing with your mates, your trips, your next girlfriend (I bet she’ll have short hair). But I’m missing one thing: your address. And this is an issue: how can I mail you Le Tigre? I know you live at Avenue F but I’m missing the street number and you’re not in the white pages. However is there a need for me to send you the magazine? In fact I don’t need to; after all you know your life better than anyone else.

Much thanks to Fred (who has a facebook profile but won’t give me permission to link to it, despite it’s ‘private’ status) for taking the 30 minutes out of his life to translate this work.