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Turning Hashtags into Plowshares

 

There were “Nine Black Categories” during the Cultural Revolution: Landlords, rich farmers, anti-revolutionaries, bad influences (the catch-all available in any culture), right-wingers, traitors, spies, capitalist roaders and lastly, intellectuals—scholars have been last, or next to last in Chinese caste hierarchies since the Yuan dynasty where they were only slightly better regarded: They were ninth in the caste order and beggars ranked tenth. But, I digress…

Chinese revolutionaries might have hated Twitter and other social media even more than the PRC central government does now because in the often quoted words of W.B.Yeats: “The best lack all conviction while the worst are full of passionate intensity.”

A card game, called Beat the Landlord, game grew out of this cultural conflict: Dou Di Zhu– (literally fight the landlord) and continues to be wildly popular on the Internet here with millions of players. The game allows two “bandits” to gang up on one “landlord” in an attempt to allow his partner player to divest himself cards and win. The landlord does not often fare well. I have grown weary of a few Internet landlords and short of beating on them I have just opted to delete them from view.

Social Media has been a digital gift from the heavens for me. I have been active on the web in one form or another since 1978. Social Media as I knew it then worked well because the conference moderators insisted we divest ourselves of titles and station and work on tasks that benefited the community as a whole.

I was playing Scrabble online with a social media “influencer” a year or so ago and we were both updating our experience as we battled. Suddenly he told me that he had to stop clogging his tweet stream with game details as he had lost followers during our contest. His reason for being on networks was clearly different than mine. I have used blogs and networks for years as a way to make and maintain friends. And as a result I have met In Real Life (IRL) dozens of people that were first introduced to me only as avatars, long lines of updates, shared pictures, music selections, videos or blog posts. It has been magical. And on my recent trip back to the States I revisited “old” Internet friends (some I had known for 7-10 years without ever meeting in the flesh) and I sought many I had not met, but for whom I had developed a special affinity. I found them to be even more gracious, kind and fun than their 140 character at a time persona allowed for online.

I use Twitter and Facebook in place of an RSS feed now and revel in new information about cultures, conflicts, charities and ways to improve my quality of life and that of others. I am pro revolution and pro profit as long as there is truth in the advertising…

But, of late I have noticed a disturbing trend. Sites like Quora, and Twitter have given credence to digital landlords, anti-revolutionary government and corporate eavesdroppers, rich corporations looking to speak to trends as opposed to consumers, link baiting spam laden roaders and those that inherited social wealth by association or early adoption who now look to dictate the set, setting and content of our conversations and want to make more money telling me how I can do it too. They act as landlords and exclude or attempt to evict those with differing views or too little to offer them as they extend their tweetreach or make their personal brands more recognizable.  And many of them display far from exemplary conduct as they write the leases that we aspiring digerati will tacitly sign in order to get along with them hoping to be included or for fear of being vilified, or worse, cast into the darkness of less social cyberspace.

I once asked the author of several books and hundreds of articles to “retweet” (broadcast again) a status update of mine wherein I listed the URL  of a U.S. sanctioned charity helping flood victims in China. I was told in seconds that under no circumstances would he jeopardize his social capital by assisting an unpopular cause. People were not happy with China. Lions 2, Chinese 0. “The best lack all conviction…”

Two gurus in Hong Kong refuse to add their name to any charitable cause not self organized because of its possible negative impact on their branding.  One of them actually refuses to pay admission to Internet supported charity affairs because his presence alone has value. His has a lot of social capital, earned by gossiping about others and devaluating their currency, though I wonder how many friends he’d have if he socially sobered up and put principles before his own personality.

Another Internet luminary recently assaulted a well-followed China Twitter user and lambasted him, among many things, for using a pseudonym and for not being in what the communication constable construed to be viable social media circles and for artificially growing his Twitter following. What he did not know is: the monicker is his court appointed name and the man he citizen arrested (with not a little police brutality and great fanfare involved), or rather the criminal in question, has secretly helped fund out of his own pocket important TEDx and intercultural social events that would otherwise not have happened.  I neither know, nor care, how he amassed a huge audience. Ironically, the cybercop in this episode of Social Media’s Most Wanted was concomitantly announcing to the world via his updates how proud he was that answers he offered on Quora were being voted to the top of listings. Now there is a real resume builder. This is the same man who incidentally told me, a former EOD trained Ordnance Officer in the Army, that I was wrong about what weapons were in use during my time in service when the closest he has ever come to the military is a Tom Clancy novel. This is a man who tirelessly works online to build his personal brand as an intellectual and contrary to most things. “…while the worst are full of passionate intensity.”

And last, but not least in my not nearly exhaustive (maybe exhausting) rant is the visit by two writers for a brand name commercial financial rag. Their boss called with a day’s notice and asked if I would host them on their first trip into South China. I have done this for many journalists and business people. The heavy lifting is usually done by bright and self effacing volunteers from the local community who translate and accompany them to parts of Guangzhou, as a favor, that newcomers might never otherwise see. “In your life, you meet people. Some you never think about again. Some, you wonder what happened to them. There are some that you wonder if they ever think about you. And then there are some you wish you never had to think about again. But you do.” These two were hosted for meals in a restaurant that stayed open just to be kind to them,  given true visiting royalty status and then left only to write a blog post later that never mentioned the volunteers or kindness showed them, but instead only remarking about how filthy the air was in our city.The two poison ivy league graduates from well heeled families left several young students in Guangzhou wondering if our privileged company knew the difference between engagement and entitlement.

It is about conversation, not adulation. It is about earning relationships, not winning or displaying stinking badges. It is about dissolving boundaries, not drawing yourself into some inner circle. It is about traveling the hills and valleys of the bell curve, not cowering in the far end with only folks with similar statistics in some strange social equation. It is , for me, about trying (and sometimes succeeding in spite of myself) to do something good even if I have to panhandle…

There are no “Seven Keys to Internet Success.” There is one:

Be authentic

And while you are being authentic, if you can find the time to do a #randomactofkindness just do it.  Turn a couple of #hashtags into ploughshares.

And I try to remember that there is usually are real people and dear friends at the other end of my updates. And I believe that if had to belong to one of social media’s black categories I’d likely shoot for scholarship or refine being a beggar…

 

“God, grant me the Senility to forget the people I never liked anyway, the good fortune to run into the ones I do, and the eyesight to tell the difference”

 

 

Charity in China,China Business,China Business Consultant,China Editorials,China Expat,Cross Cultural Training,Human Rights,Intercultural Issues,Personal Notes,social media,The Internet,中国

3 responses so far

An Open Letter to the #140conf

Jeff,

I hope this finds you well and not too overwhelmed by the hundreds of nominations folks have sent in for the #140conf –especially after your carb-laden drive back from IHOP today and what was surely a stimulating  visit with one of my favorite online connections, @geogeller.

With Twitter censored/blocked/banned/muted here in the Middle Kingdom and my VPN suffering some neural disorder of late I apologize that I didn’t catch the call for attendees nor did I make the deadline for nominations. Here below the far side of the Great Firewall we have to make-do with state run papers, tunnel networks, and year old broadcasts from Hong Kong of American Idol’s Got Talent in Funny Home Videos to keep us acculturated until we return to the land of round doorknobs, boneless chicken and (insert envy here) IHOP.

I am writing in hopes that you were given leads for a few China-centric microbloggers. No, not the ones who live within arms reach of San Francisco and its technocentric, wash-my-back-and-I-will introduce-you-to-my-VC and his friend who lived once in Shanghai–the financial Haight-Ashbury of China where all the pretty people go to gamble on the Chinese version of the American Dream–who knows a lot of peeps. The real China Twitterati. And please don’t get me wrong: I cherish my association with many bright successful entrepreneurs and old China hands in Shanghai and SF, but, I digress….

Here is what I mean to ask of you:

A military medial supervisor of mine, years ago in Germany, was giving a lecture on psychopathology and said that the real definition of “crazy” was fighting someone twice your size. During my tenure in China, I have come to call such actions “bravery” and am glad that there are those crazy enough to wade in treacherous digital waters to lead others through China’s information Killing Fields…

Too often U.S. and world conferences ignore Asia and the folks who will make up–according to Forrester–almost 50% of the world’s Internet traffic. While @Loic lamented, at France’s LeWeb, America’s narcissism and self-centered deprecation of anything not engineered in Silicon Valley, there was little Asian representation at that event–and this after Loic had been an invited guest at Open Web Asia. And Blog World Expo has routinely ignored a demographic with more users now than America has citizens. Those wanting to Digg their way to China (sorry) simply don’t have the tools to do it nor a craftsman to show them how to use them if they did.

140 conference

Apart from the human rights imperative that the government here has created with censorship and dis-information, there are hundreds of millions of Japanese, Chinese, Indians, Vietnamese and other APAC Netzens that would love to be part of the global conversation and could teach us all a great deal about business and cultural opportunities beyond our borders.

And while I seriously feel that there are extraordinary China savvy expats both here and abroad, I advocate for native voices who are part and parcel of the social networks here: Dr.@ganglu the founder of Open Web Asia;  @Isaac the first blogger in China, Harvard Fellow and founder of CNBloggercon; @zola, China’s first guerella blogger and citizen reporter; and dozens of others…

Your last conference should be applauded if only for drawing Al Jazeera and the Israeli Consulate to the same event. Here’s hoping you continue setting global conference precedents at your next 140 character conference.

Wishing you much success,

OMBW

China Business,China Editorials,china internet,Chinese Internet,In the news,Intercultural Issues,Online Digital Marketing China,social media,Twitter

7 responses so far

Blue Feather Tweeters

flip the bird

Forget all the incestuous top Tweeter lists, the rankings of the most re-tweeted, the scores for the most influential, the “find a MLM spammer to add to your follower cool twitter application” lists and the “Twitterati” glamour gurus vying for rights to the title of most vapid… So, I thought “How about a list of the top 20-30 nicest people to meet and tweet on Twitter? ” Here are my first picks for Blue Feather Friends–who actually talk to you….

I follow a lot of folks because I am a student of anything and everything on the net. I have used hundreds of Facebook and Twitter Applications, joined  (and un-joined) groups with great names like “Ban the Racist Bicycle Bells,” My life is a musical” and I’ve been bought and sold hundreds of my friends in and out of slavery and then raced them in cars that don’t move. I have crashed my site dozens of times with new WordPress plug-ins and I have tried virtually  (and to the lament of my twitter stream) every mobile and fixed Twitter client around. And aside from the auto-generated DM’s that say “Thanks for the follow <<insert first name here>>”  via folks in a race to catch Obama in the followers count, and that big breasted bot with 450 different profiles, I have become grateful for the many people who have enriched my life and replaced my blogging, RSS reading and shower time (phew) with interesting stories that I will no doubt re-tweet one day to my grandchildren.

Following are a few of the nicest people you’ll ever tweet. I don’t know how many followers they have, whether they won shorties or longies or what their Hub score is… And this is not a list of my favorite charities, business folks, incredible journalists or people you need to suck up to to get them to add you (Brian Solis, Mashable, Winer…)…I will do those lists one day as well…

These are just  people who aren’t so impotent (sp?) they only follow and/or talk to themselves…

Maybe in a day or two I will post my top financially useless, but great smile-making Twitter applications and add a few more suggestions for people to chirp with…. Feel free to add your own BCTs in the comments section…..

  • http://twitter.com/shelisrael is from California. He is writing a book on Twitterville and is a bit of a celebrity, but his bio’ is right: he is a nice guy who actually talks TO, not at, you. And he is his own virtual assistant 😉
  • http://twitter.com/danharris He is a lawyer but don’t let that put you off. This is the most tireless guy on the net. He actually reads and comments on dozens of blogs, runs the best law blawg on the planet ( http://chinalawblog.com ) and still has time to go to his family’s sporting events in Washington, root for the Cubs and then Tweet about it! Caution: Do not try to sneak a knuckle ball by him–he will hit it out of the park.
  • http://twitter.com/gyspsydust A world-class Chinese medicine expert from Illinois and one of the nicest people on the net. We met on Facebook when she suggested pointed me toward W.H.O research on a medicine that cured a recurrence of malaria that had hit a visiting guest–and it cost us less than a buck.
  • http://twitter.com/sdweathers A growing celeb’ on the small screen here in China. He posts great culturally entertaining pics, fun and informative links and actually takes the time to answer his tweets.
  • http://twitter.com/deswalsh An Aussie coach and consultant who has forgotten more about social media, blogging than I will ever know. He and his “girlfriend” (sorry, inside joke) artist  http://twitter.com/suziecheel  are an endangered species: kindness, wisdom and humility abound…
  • http://twitter.com/taweili Did you ever get a growing gift on Facebook? This is one of the team that built that application. He is a cross-cultural commentator and shouts out some very sensible answers about life and tech from farther inside the matrix than I have ever traveled….
  • http://twitter.com/grahamdbrown from London he runs one of the coolest and most purposeful blogs around and remains as authentic and likable a personality as you can find in the Twittersphere….
  • http://twitter.com/davidfeng when you think David Feng you think War and Peace, Ulysses, Everything You Wanted to Know About Beijing Subways Even if You Didn’t Think to Ask…The only guy on Twitter who HAS to have a David Feng Lite stream…I met this Swiss master at the first Beijing Tweet-up–there were three people and 10 electronic devices present….
  • http://twitter.com/JeffreyJDavis from Charlotte. Personable, but not afraid to call out the thought leaders. His profile says it best: “Innovator, Leader, Strategist, Executor, Mentor, Smartass, Kiteboarder, Dad, Husband”
  • http://twitter.com/thomascrampton An American gone Hongkese whose blog features impromptu camera phone interviews with the likes of Oliver Stone….He is an old-school journalist (small stuff like the NYT and IHT) who, despite his celebrity, is engaging social media with the heart and curiosity of a child combined with the shrewd thoroughness of a trained  reporter–No small feat, that…
  • http://twitter.com/winserzhao A die-hard social media fan with his own travel company. The ONLY one of the 8,000 Tweeple I reached out to for help  that answered the call to rescue a newlywed–stranded in China– who had all his money and documents stolen just after his wedding.
  • http://twitter.com/johningz I think Foreigner did a song about him once….He lives in GZ where I do…The whole city keeps getting younger around us….He can Tweet and eat Pizza at the same time…and does….most days….every day….
  • http://twitter.com/casperodj A Dutchman studying in Britain now. He made history by beating the news wires with tweets from the earthquake zone in Sichuan China…A former Olympic caliber archer, he made watching the shooting events from Beijing a blast by live-tweeting the events…
  • http://twitter.com/Meryl333 Delightful, spiritual ex-lawyer and biz strategist from Chicago now in San Francisco….She sometimes beats me at online Scrabble….

This is by no means an exhaustive personal list and it augments posts where I have mentioned others…And I do mean to add more later…

I am http://twitter.com/lonniehodge I am a Twitterholic….

Uncategorized

12 responses so far

Twitteronandonandon: A Twelve Step Program for Compulsive Micro-Bloggers

I happened to see a note twish by me the other day by one of the new young guns in the China Blogosphere. He expressed concern that if he engaged in a ridiculously fun and multicultural exchange about ethnic differences in emoticons that it might affect his image. He had to be, as a budding new ad exec’, cognizant of his “personal branding.” Imagine that: using social media to actually socialize or have fun–the nerve!   ( ̄ー ̄)   I do apologize if they offended anyone

m(_ _)m

I have watched the micro-musings of the people our vigilant young executive follows and subsequently “twits up to”: they are primarily people known to others obsessed by new social media tools by as the “Twitterati” or the elite and best informed new media types on the net. Poo.

Guys like Owyang and Kawasaki are pushers!!! (check out Guy’s pic on Twitter for a look at his 70’s pimp/dealer boa if you don’t believe me!) and they both pay a million virtual monkeys using a million computers to pound out a million tweets in hopes of a single retweet in the NYT. As an aside: Owyang has become a pro at slipping in tweetle doses of infomercials that lull you right into thinking you should go back to that site he mentioned and pay money to criminally investigate that anorexic retired mailman next door whose name may very well have showed up on some perv’ list–while you are in your boxers (or worse), jazzed on coffee, listening to a podcast, twittering, skyping and stalking him through the kitchen window all at once…

Now, I have a lot of respect for guys like Chris Brogan who can tweet an Irishman under the keyboard. This guy can handle his social media! And I am a huge fan of the naked conversations of Shel Israel who has the chutzpah to actually talk about enjoying a date with, brace yourself, his wife. To Jim Turner: You gotta quit writing stuff people can actually use. Someone may think you take this seriously! And ya gotta love tweets in a French accent by Loic…and it is like waiting for fake fireworks at the opening ceremonies when Captains Scoble or Arrington go in search of the Great Fail Whale…

Once, long ago, I remember wishing I was a florid alcoholic (and don’t think I did not try!) so I’d have a group I could share my joys and sorrows with…And when I got sucked into a conference net in 1978 I thought I had found a virtual home. And then Twitter–and its sophisticated and server friendly interface–came along and all five of us using it got along great! Now, with 3 million people shooting 140 intercontinental ballistic characters across borders daily its a little noisy and not a little dangerous sometimes in there…Still, as an expat it is the closest I can get to an English speaking coffee clatch, but I digress…

We need a flesh and blood group!–a tweet-up without computers!–where we can actually press the flesh (I heard that Bloggess!) and  sǝʌlǝsɹno ʇɥƃıɹ. I propose this for my advertising “friend” and others:

TWITTERONANDONANDON!

BLOGONANDONANDON
If you answer yes to three of any of the questions below you just MIGHT be a compulsive blogger and a candidate for twitterononanonandon (IF you take this post seriously, I have another group for you…):

  • Do you lose time from work due to your tweeting?
  • Is tweeting making your home life unhappy?
  • Do you tweet because you are shy with other people?
  • Is tweeting affecting your reputation
  • Do you tweet and re-tweet for fear being left out?
  • Have you ever felt remorse after a tweet?
  • Have you gotten into financial difficulties as a result of your tweeting?
  • Do you turn to lower companions and an inferior environment when tweeting?
  • Does your tweeting make you careless of your family’s welfare?
  • Has your ambition decreased since tweeting?
  • Do you crave a tweet at a definite time daily?
  • Do you want to tweet the next morning?
  • Does tweeting cause you to have difficulty in sleeping?
  • Has your efficiency decreased since tweeting?
  • Is tweeting jeopardizing your job or business?
  • Do you tweet to escape from worries or troubles?
  • Do you tweet alone?
  • Do you claim to be a “Social Media Evangelist” when you were just converted from selling adwords to dentists only a year ago?
  • Have you ever had a complete loss of memory as a result of your tweeting?
  • Has your physician ever treated you for tweeting?
  • Do you tweet to build up your self-confidence?
  • Have you ever been in a hospital or institution on account of tweeting?
  • do you need just one more little tweet even when your friends say they have had enough?

I am headed to the States soon and wil be happy to meet with you about starting a group. Drop a note here or better yet:

tweet me @lonniehodge

E-DIOT

With apologies to my good friends at AA, NA, CA, ACA, ALANON…

ONE TOO MANY BATTLES OF THE BLOG

This was a slight re-hash of an old post on blogging–for those of you new to the net blogging was a phenomenon from the days of Dinosaurs and Celine Dion–those of you who recognize it, thanks for bearing with me….

Humor,Just Plain Strange,Personal Notes

7 responses so far