Tips to Drown out the Twitter Noise

Folks, this has become a big issue on Twitter –  how do you get to the real good stuff on your Twitter feed? Where are the tweets from your community? And how do you make an effort to use Twitter most effectively for you and your organization? My team and I compiled a list of tips to drown out the Twitter noise so you can easily access the most useful content and conversations.bird

  • Use hashtags – Hashtags are still really useful. People and orgs will tag their content based on the topic, and this lets you find the latest trends or the niche content that interests you. For example, nonprofit tech related tweets tend to use the hashtag, #nptech, progressive groups use #p2 and #activism, feminists tend to use #fem2, and other good hashtags include #gov20, #vets, #milfams, #philanthropy, and #socent (social entrepreneurship).
  • Keep an eye on #FF When tweeters that’re the real deal post a Follow Friday (#FF), they’re carefully selecting people who are the real deal. This is an effective way to find “friends of friends” in the Twittersphere.
  • Don’t be afraid to unfollow tweeters – If you follow someone and realize that their tweets just don’t interest you, don’t hesitate to unfollow them. It’s not rude, it’s efficient.
  • The mute button – Twitter just rolled out a new mute button yesterday, and everyone will have it soon. The point of the button is to silence people you don’t want to unfollow, but are tired of seeing their tweets in your feed like if they are live tweeting a conference for several hours. According to Twitter:
      • To mute a user from a Tweet, tap more and then mute @username. To mute someone from their profile page, tap the gear icon on the page and choose mute @username.
      • The muted user will not know you’ve muted them, and of course you can unmute at any time.
      • The muted user will still be able to favorite, reply to, and retweet your Tweets; you just won’t see any of that activity in your timeline.
  • Build lists on Twitter – You can organize your Twitter followers into different lists. If you’re into tech, for example, you can have a tech list where you group all the techie folks, if you are following people who tweet about journalism ethics, you can make a list for them. Once you have a list, you can click on it and just see a stream of users’ tweets who you’ve assigned to that list. To manage your lists, go to your Twitter dashboard, click “More” then “Lists” and you’ll be taken to a page that lets you do everything Twitter List related. (See image below for more…)
  • Subscribe to lists on Twitter – Other people have already done a lot of the work for you by creating their own lists. You can seek out lists that interest you, and subscribe to them. This will help you to further involve yourself in the Twitter community, and is a good way of finding others who tweet about your interests without much effort.

Craig Twitter Dash

What tricks do you use to manage your Twitter account and drown out all the extra noise?

A Transitioning Veteran’s Biggest Challenge

DMG PhotoWhile transitioning out of the military, the greatest challenge I faced is one that many Veteran organizations don’t attempt to solve. I wasn’t wounded and I don’t suffer from psychological burdens with PTSD that keep me from chasing success, as these challenges far surpass the ones I’ve experienced.

What I’m referring to, something that I believe applies to all Veterans, was my lack of understanding about the differences between military and civilian career progression. 

Military job fairs, translating Military Occupational Specialties (MOS) to civilian skills on resumes, interview training, and other mechanisms for helping Veterans transition are valuable services that combat challenges during transition.

However, while in the military I followed a rigid career path as I was promoted to higher rank. Roughly every few years, the group responsible for career progression in my unit gave me limited options to choose from for my next military job. There were many mentors available to me who had followed a similar path to make it easier for me to make an informed decision.

If I worked hard at obtaining a specific job that was on my list of options, I could increase my likelihood of getting it.  Yet, if I did no extra work to get my next military job, the military would still give me one.

I found a very different scenario in civilian life. I was fundamentally unaware of the tactical actions I had to take to succeed, which proved overwhelming and frustrating after my career in the military. I was lucky to overcome this and find what I love to do, but am concerned that many of my fellow Veterans are not so lucky.

While leaving active duty, I often heard ex-military folks suggesting a common set of options for my post-military life: government agencies, defense contractors, medical device sales, getting that next level academic degree. I’m sure many Veterans hear the same advice, and treat those options as if they are the only ones available, falling into old habits from how they found their previous jobs in the military.

mil jobfair

But those options didn’t fit my ambitions. I realized that my true list of options was limitless, yet I didn’t have that person assigned to me to ensure I ended up in a position that suited my skills; nobody standing by to mentor me as I made a decision that would impact my family and me for the rest of our lives.

I found two key skills most valuable to help overcome this transitional challenge:

1) Networking to find mentors – Because no one was assigned to give me a job, I learned that networking was key for civilian employment. Finding a “wingman” to go with me to networking events (where I felt awkward and uncomfortable otherwise) to introduce me to his/her network was enormously helpful.

Organizations that help connect you to like-minded folks in specific civilian industries, such as Vets In Tech and Get Skills To Work, are great places to start searching for these live events and mentors.

Online social networking tools allowed me to research people who had the job I thought I wanted, and I was able to use those tools to get to more of those people than I ever expected. RockTech’s platform (tailored with content for Veterans in partnership with General Electric) can help Veterans looking to get more from LinkedIn.

The marriage of online and offline tools was overwhelmingly useful.

2) Selling my plan to my new mentors while seeking candid feedback – You never really have to sell anything in the military, especially not yourself.  You have to earn badges and ribbons, make rank, and score well on evaluations, but you rarely have to verbally sell yourself as you do in civilian life to get your next role. This concept is inconsistent with the humble professionals we are taught to be while in uniform.

Additionally, when you present your battle plan, the military teaches you to deliver it with confidence and a command presence that leaves no question in your conviction for executing that plan.

You can’t tell your troops to take a hill and then say “… er, um, unless you guys have a better idea?” Because many veterans join the service early in life, often while still teenagers, we often don’t know where to start crafting our civilian battle plan and just aren’t qualified to speak with such confidence.

We need to make a plan and ask for candid feedback from mentors who have experience to help confirm or deny whether our plan makes sense. An extra challenge here is that many civilians handle Veterans “gently”, out of respect for their service, often being too nice to provide candid feedback.

If you fall into this category as a mentor to a Veteran, realize that this Service member has likely weathered much worse than a verbal disagreement. You’re doing them a disservice if you don’t provide constructive criticism to help them shape their career.

If you know of resources for Veterans to use in their transition for these or other skills, please share them in the comment section.

5 women bloggers you really need to follow

Hey, I don’t think women are noted frequently enough for their accomplishments. Women dominate social media and have a huge impact in the blogosphere, but aren’t always recognized.

My team and I compiled a list of women bloggers who are the real deal. You should follow these folks on Twitter, and check out their blogs. These women are on top of of the latest tech news, nonprofit strategies, and social media trends.

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5 Women Bloggers to Follow:

Xeni Jardin is an editor and blogger for Boing Boing, a web zine they describe as being “devoted to the weird, wonderful and wicked things to be found in technology and culture.” Independent for nearly 25 years, they publish a daily mix of short articles, long features, and video productions.


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Beth Kanter is the author of Beth’s Blog: How Nonprofits Can Use Social Media, one of the longest running and most popular blogs for nonprofits. Beth has over 30 years working in the nonprofit sector in technology, training, capacity building, evaluation, fundraising, and marketing.


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Shelly Kramer blogs about internet marketing, social media, and tech at V3, a full service integrated marketing, digital communications and social media agency.


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Kara Swisher is co-CEO of Revere Digital, co-executive editor and blogger for Re/code, and co-executive producer of The Code Conference. Re/code is an independent tech news, reviews and analysis site. Because everything in tech and media is constantly being rethought, refreshed, and renewed, Re/code’s aim is to reimagine tech journalism.


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Amy Vernon is the author of Dear Amy. Amy is among the top 15 contributors of all time on Digg.com (and the highest-ranked female ever), and is recognized for her knowledge of writing, community, and social media.


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Who would you add to this list? What women bloggers do you have bookmarked on your reading list?//

Local-Global Youth Development

Folks, the Organic Health Response (OHR) is located on Mfangano Island, Kenya, in the heart of Lake Victoria.  They seek to activate information technology, social solidarity, and environmental sustainability to turn the tide against HIV/AIDS across Lake Victoria.

Over the years we’ve supported OHR’s ICT initiatives, namely a highspeed Internet link from their ICT resource headquarters, the Ekialo Kiona (EK) Center, on Mfangano Island to the nearest mainland city of Kisumu. This record breaking link is East Africa’s longest wifi connection (You can read more here: WiFi to Help Out HIV/AIDS on Mfangano Island).

The Ekialo Kiona Center implements a suite of programs including the innovative Cyber-Voluntary Counseling and Testing Pilot, a computer lab with 17 low-powered Inveneo PCs, an organic demonstration farm and native tree nursery, the world’s first microclinic program for people living HIV/AIDS, and EK-FM, a youth-driven community radio station.

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The Organic Health Response helps connect kids to their local ICT resources by hosting school field trips to the EK computer lab. According to OHR,

“Last week, a group of 15 kids trickled in to the EK Center for their first tour, led by EK’s ICT Coordinator, Brian Mattah. Sounds of excitement bounced off the ferro-cement walls, as little fingers punched away at the keyboards.  For many, this was their first experience in front of a computer screen. In conjunction with a fieldtrip, Mfangano youth are paired with student pen-pals at Rutherford Elementary School in Stillwater, MN. Over the years these kids will learn to communicate with each other via email. At the same time, students in the USA learn about life on Mfangano Island and help raise money to support each field trip.”

The EK Center’s the only high-speed Internet hub on the entire island. For local youth, there are no training facilities in their island communities to support a healthy connection to the outside world.

OHR supports local-global youth development by providing ICT experiences at a young age (computer training, journalism, radio production, and editing skills), in hopes of building and empowering skilled and empowered leaders for the future.  EK-FM youth presenters have been sending us posts over the last few months (More here…). Stay tuned for even more from these talented folks.

 

 

 

The Future of EK Radio

Folks, I’m still working with the Organic Health Response on IT support, and we just got an update in from the radio team on Mfangano Island, Kenya. They interviewed community members and asked them about the future of the radio station. The Ekialo Kiona Radio, EK FM, is proud to be Suba. “Turi alala,” its slogan, means “together” in the local Suba language.

Here’s what they had to say: 

The Organic Health Response (OHR) had a vision to establish a youth-driven, wind-powered, Suba language radio station on Mfangano Island, Kenya. On World AIDS Day Dec. 1st, 2012, OHR successfully launched the radio station EK-FM. Today they broadcast live from a hand-welded communications tower on Mfangano to over 200,000 residents in rural Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania.

EK-FM is grounded in the philosophy of open community discourse as a cornerstone of holistic and sustainable responses to cultural erosion, environmental degradation, infectious disease, and economic isolation among remote indigenous populations.  

EK-FM mobilizes youth activism, empowers marginalized groups, promotes HIV prevention and treatment services, encourages sustainable agriculture, and most importantly, preserves the endangered indigenous Suba language (Olusuba).EK-FM has had a very impactful first year of broadcast, putting OHR and the Ekialo Kiona Center (with IT support from Craig Newmark) at the center of the Suba cultural map in Kenya.

Last week, youth presenters from the station interviewed community members on Mfangano Island and asked them about the future of EK-FM. This is what they had to say:

      •  “I see EK Radio as the only communication tool for the people of Abasuba and that it will be the only way to help salvage the almost extinct Suba language,” paused Ex-Assistant Chief, Mzee Charles Kasera, a Suba elder who helps run the Ekidiori Radio Program focused on Suba culture.
      • “Aaaaaa …. This is our voice! No one can take it out from us. In fact is has given us, our men, children, and community at large to share together. So, EK is there to stay. It is for eternity,” said Suba, a Piki (Motor cycle) rider on Mfangano Island.
      • “This is the clearest radio station along the Lake Victoria region. It is even clearer than those with sophisticated equipments. I don’t want it to go away since it is my favorite station. Let it stay forever,” said Pema, a boat manager who resides at Kakiimba village in Mfangano Island.
      • “I see a radio station that accommodates thousands of people from different regions in the Island, who have come to seek and experience its services. With all the programs, I see a community that is well informed and equipped with first hand information,” says Nancy Sungu, a young radio presenter with the EK Community Youth Radio.
The newly built, ferro-cement studio on the island. The team moved into the new space in February 2014.
The newly built, ferro-cement studio on the island. The team moved into the new space in February 2014.

I Could Not Press the Computer Keyboard Buttons

Folks, I’ve been doing some monetary support for the computer center at Mfangano Island, and have recently received a few updates from people who have been using the center. I wanted to share their stories with you. Here’s Eric’s story:

It was in June 7th, 2010 that I first joined Ekialo Kiona Center. Though I had been living on Mfangano Island for a long time, I had never used nor handled a computer before. When I heard that becoming an EK member would give me the opportunity to learn and use computers, I got excited and joined the club. All people who join the free community cyber-cafe (with onsite Voluntary HIV counseling and testing) through biannual HIV testing receive free unlimited access to the Internet. Even though I had never known my HIV status before and feared the process (and of course knowing my status) I decided to go through the process, just to get chance to touch a computer.

It was not easy for me in the IT room! Just touching the keyboard was so strange to me. In fact I believed that the ‘Wazungus’ (white people) were the people who knew and can handle these gadgets. At first I feared I could damage the computer so I did not want touch it. But anyway, I got the opportunity that I could not leave to pass. It took me only three months to know everything about the computer: handling the keyboard, writing, accessing information, and using the internet, among others.

I can remember an incident when I received my first email message from my friend Graham Tattersall, who I had met some years back. I yelled so loud that it made a lot of noise in the IT room and I had to be sent out for more than thirty minutes before being allowed in again. I didn’t believe I could get a mail from that far. It is marvelous; technology has changed my life and the lives of many people like on Mfangano Island.

That is the power of technology through EK Center on Mfangano Island and its environment. Thanks to those who have made this a reality.

Eric Omondi

 

Eric Omondi is a youth and is currently a volunteer in the EK FM Youth Radio, a project under EK Center

 

 

 

Things I Carry: A Nerd’s Survival Kit

An older photo of me with the Note II, I’ve upgraded to the III since…

To make sense of the following, consider that I identify as 1. nerd, fifties-style, and 2. customer service rep for over eighteen years. While customer service comes first, my time is also spent in public service and philanthropy, quietly for the most part. For me, all that means I need a lean and effective set of tools.

(Yes, this is obsessive, and it’s been each and every day for all of the nineteen years, but I really am a nerd, and that’s how we roll.)

Maybe eighty percent of my work can be done with a good, large smartphone. I’m using a Samsung Galaxy Note III, which gets the job done. It helps that I can use alternate on-screen keyboards, making typing much easier. What really helps are keyboards where you can swipe across the keyboard to type, like Swype and SwiftKey.

Home screen widgets also make my life easier, particularly my calendar, but also weather, and wifi, and 4G signal strength.

The Chrome browser syncs up with my desktop and notebook systems, easing my work burden a great deal.

With the shutdown of Google Reader, well, I’ve been trying out Feedly: So far, so good.

I also read a lot of books, maybe eight per month, and the large screen is good for my eyes. Using the Kindle app, but it’s growing problematic. (I’ve read around 700 books, mostly science fiction. See comment about 1. being a nerd, and 2. how we roll.)

This kind of phone is really a handheld computer/communicator, and that will be an increasing reality as its software evolves. Maybe in a few years a good phone will be the only system we have, automatically connecting wirelessly to larger screens and keyboards.

Speaking of larger screens and keyboards, sometimes I really need that, as well as some specific software. When I travel, my solution is a MacBook Pro Retina 13″. In my home office, I use the MacBook.

Stuff evolves, and my watch is becoming more useful. Through my life, a watch has been the only bling I wear, though I added a wedding ring last year. However, I’m now donning a Pebble watch, which combines a nice looking analog watch with extra function. It functions as a little smartwatch with caller id and text messages, which has proven unexpectedly useful. (For older readers, it’s the Dick Tracy kind of deal, you’d see me interacting with my watch. That’s no longer a sign of eccentricity… I think.)

My deal really does involve the smallest set of tools needed to get the job done, wherever I am. It’ll be interesting to see how the phone might supplant notebook and desktop usage, and to see how watches and other wearable computing gadgets evolve.

Less is more, but whatever tools I use, the job’s gotta get done. After all, a nerd’s gotta do what a nerd’s gotta do.

10 Women Run Startups You Should Know

Folks, there are a lot of really good businesses out there, and my team and I want to highlight 10 women run startups that you should really know about. These startups are doing great work and really getting the jobs done in their arenas. We took a little bit from each org’s website to capture what they’re doing in their own words. Make sure to visit their sites, support ’em, and follow ’em on Twitter. These women are really changing the world.

 

Infographic by Women Who Tech
Infographic by Women Who Tech
  1. CyPhy Works: Helen Grenier, CEO

    (Please note that we used Helen Grenier’s Twitter account because CyPhy Works’s doesn’t appear to have an account.)

    CyPhy Works research starts with people -They look to the places where people need empowering technology to reach beyond what they currently can. Then they turn their attention to scouring the market landscape and literature to see what, if any, un-utilized research can be leveraged to enable the people in need. Once they fully understand what people need, and what people have done to address that need, they focus their attention in their labs where their people develop transformational technologies that make it possible for people in need to achieve their goals more efficiently and more effectively than the status quo would allow.

  2. DailyWorth: Amanda Steinberg, Founder & CEO

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    DailyWorth says, “We’re closing the income gap by enabling women to reach their maximum earning potential.We’re closing the wealth gap by empowering women to invest and build wealth to fund the lives they want.We’re helping women get the most value for their money, whether they’re purchasing products that enrich their lives, supporting causes they care about or investing in companies they believe in.We publish exclusive, expert content daily to more than one million female financial decision makers. Explore the website and sign up to get our tips and tools delivered daily to your inbox.”
  3.  Plum Alley: Deborah Jackson, Founder & CEO

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    “I founded Plum Alley for women to create products, build companies and enhance their esteem and wealth. We offer 3 things: a way for women to raise money for projects, hire experts to help them, and provide a way to sell their products with an emphasis on their story.”
  4. ThinkUp: Gina Trapani, Co-Founder

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    ThinkUp is a brand new app that connects your Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or other social networking accounts and tells you what matters about the time you spent there. ThinkUp can help you have more fun with friends, connect better with your network, and even learn a little bit about yourself. ThinkUp is also our new company, focused on the idea that people are looking for tech companies they can trust. We’re putting our users and community first, because we think that’s the best way to create a better web for everyone.
  5. LightSail Energy: Danielle Fong, Co Founder & Chief Scientist

    (Please note that we used Danielle Fong’s Twitter account because LightSail’s doesn’t appear to be in use.)

    LightSail aims to produce the world’s cleanest and most economical energy storage systems. Compressing air creates heat energy. Until now, this was wasted, drastically reducing efficiency.LightSail isdeveloping breakthrough, high efficiency energy storage systems using compressed air. Our key insight: rapidly capturing the heat of compression with a water spray.

  6. Tech Cocktail: Jen Consalvo, COO

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    Tech Cocktail is a media company and events organization for startups, entrepreneurs, and technology enthusiasts. Since 2006, its goal has been to amplify local tech communities and give entrepreneurs a place to get informed, get connected, and get inspired. Tech Cocktail dedicates itself to covering news, how-to’s, up-and-coming startups, and industry trends online, and hosting events in over 20 cities in the US and abroad.
  7. uBeam: Meredith Perry, Founder

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    In 2012, Meredith Perry took on $750k in seed funding to build out uBeam’s technology for wirelessly charging electronic devices. uBeam transmits power over the air to charge electronic gadgets wirelessly. It’s like Wi-Fi for energy.
  8. Angaza Design, Inc: Lesley Marincola, Founder & CEO

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    Globally, more than 1.2 billion people live outside the reach of an electricity grid. Consumers in this off-grid world spend hundreds of dollars each year to light their homes and power small electronics, and they do so using expensive sources of energy such as kerosene lanterns and disposable batteries. Modern options such as photovoltaic solar cost far less when amortized over time, but the comparatively high upfront price of these energy alternatives has kept them out of this enormous market.The Angaza Pay-As-You-Go platform enables distributors and manufacturers of energy products to offer pricing that reaches 1.2 billion consumers in the off-grid world.
  9. InVenture: Shivani Siroya, Founder & CEO

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    The Problem? There are almost 400 million low-income and unbanked individuals that cannot access basic financial services due to a lack of credit scores.

    InVenture’s Approach? InVenture facilitates financial access for low-income individuals and the unbanked by creating the world’s first credit scoring service enabled by their SMS accounting tool, InSight.

    Their Impact? InVenture creates a fair market by taking the data collected through InSight and shares this information with lending institutions to help individuals qualify for and access affordable financial services tailored to their needs.

  10. Embrace Innovations: Jane Chen, Co Founder & Chief Business Officer

    // Embrace is a healthcare tech company that provides a line of innovative, affordable, and high quality medical devices for emerging markets. Their vision is to empower the disadvantaged to improve their lives through disruptive technologies.

 

Who would you add to this list? My team and I would love to hear about some other great women owned startups.

My First Job: What Big Blue Once Was

My first real job was at IBM, in the old Boca Raton lab, in 1976. (Important: IBM has become a very different company in the last twenty years, so please assume none of this applies to the current company. Also, this is all to my recollection, and memory is unreliable.)

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The offer was made early, and sounded great. I’ve never been in love with the beach, but thought it might be fun to live near the ocean, and live in a city whose name means “mouse’s mouth.”

The job was in “advanced technology” and dealt with systems architecture.

It took a few years to sink in, but turns out that in corporate language, “advanced tech” is a euphemism: It isn’t what it sounds like. But the software design process didn’t include asking actual customers about usability. I discovered later on, through founding craigslist, that listening to people is about the smartest thing you can do.

I got involved in some software development. That led to some customer involvement, but I was too easy to read, and customers looked to my reactions to see if marketing was, say, stretching things. We nerds are not great salespeople.

After some years, the opportunity to transfer to IBM in Detroit was made, to be involved in a joint effort with General Motors to do factory automation work. Well, I took the offer.

Detroit was pretty good for me, I liked the people and got involved with the local science fiction community, and the local artists community.

After a total of seventeen years, IBM was going through a lot of changes. I took a really good buyout offer and ended up moving to San Francisco, where I got another job and a few years later started craigslist in my spare time.

Photo: Adam Jenkins/Flickr

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