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What Gardening Can Teach You About Social Media

Credit: Greg Younger / Flickr

My friend Imelda Dulcich shared a great post yesterday in which the central thesis was that planning a Facebook page is like planning a garden: You should have an idea of what you want it to look like before you start.

Gardening is also a nice analogy for social media in general:

  • Like Imelda said, it takes planning and forethought.
  • It requires you to tend to it constantly.
  • It’s never really “done.”
  • It’s on display for everyone to see, at all times.
  • If you cut corners, people will notice.

Think about that. Think of your social presence as your little garden, and think about how you treat it. How does your garden look? Is it how you want it? What do you want?

Good stuff to think about this spring.

Photo: Greg Younger / Flickr

Paul_Balcerak__paulbalcerak__on_Twitter

If you have the new Twitter profile, you’ve probably noticed Favorites are a lot more prominent. And, as Kevan Lee pointed out the other day, you may want to rethink your “favoriting” strategy because of it.

I, for example, use the Favorite button as a Like button for Twitter and as a read-later button (I have an IFTTT recipe that adds all my favorites to my Pocket account).

What would be awesome, and what I’m sure Twitter won’t do but anyway, is if each user could customize the language on their page to say whatever they wanted. So like, I could change the word “Favorite” on my page to “Read Later” or “Best Tweets.” Universally, it would still be called the Favorite button, but users would know there’s an added layer of context.

This would do two great things:

  1. It would play into existing behavior. Most Twitter users I know have their own way of using the Favorite button, and it varies pretty widely.
  2. It would incentivize Twitter users to visit each other’s pages and thus spend more time on the site. Think about it: If you got a notification that someone “favorited” one of your tweets, wouldn’t you click through to see what they meant by that?

Like I said, Twitter probably won’t do this, but they should. It would be one small customization that would make the overall experience better.

Why Twitter Is Trying To Be Facebook

Coletivo Mambembe / Flickr

Coletivo Mambembe / Flickr

In the last few months, Twitter has hinted at a gradual slide toward looking and feeling more like Facebook. Specifically, its teased a Facebook-y redesign for profiles, toyed with getting rid of @ mentions, and just yesterday, it introduced multi-photo tweets and photo tagging.

For Twitter purists, this sucks. As Gizmodo put it, if we wanted Twitter to be Facebook… we’d be on Facebook.

But for Twitter, the changes and proposed changes aren’t without good reason. For starters, just look at the world’s most popular social networks:

If that wasn’t enough, Twitter was just surpassed by Instagram in terms of total U.S. mobile users.

In short, Twitter needs to grow. It appears it’s trying to do that by appealing to the masses—and no social network is more massive than Facebook. It’s familiar, and maybe familiarity will be enough to get some people to try Twitter.

Whether more Facebook-like features are implemented will depend on how Twitter’s core users react. There’s a balance to be struck between “things we can do to attract new users” and “things that will attract new users but piss off old ones.”

Expect the search for that balance to become more intense and more regular. Twitter is, after all, a publicly traded company now.

Russell Wilson Talks to the Media

One of the best things I’ve implemented to boost my productivity at work is Tac Anderson’s GTD hack. The part that helps me the most is writing out what my day will look like, hour by hour.

Lately—and you’ll notice this per the notes above—I’ve been taking a page from another productivity master’s book: Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson. Here’s what Wilson said he did during halftime at the Super Bowl that helped the Hawks keep momentum going into the second half:

I took my whole uniform off, I took a shower and everything — we had about 45 minutes. So I took a shower, I re-taped everything, got my arm stretched again — we got into a whole ‘nother stretch again. So that kinda restarted our minds. And so we came out of halftime, it felt like it was a brand-new game.

I don’t always have the luxury of a 45-minute break in the middle of the day at work, but on days when I do, I make a point to take a break. I’ll go out for a walk, get lunch, whatever, and when I come back, I re-evaluate what I have to do for the rest of the day. I treat the second four hours like it’s a whole new day. Here’s what it looks like:

An image of Paul Balcerak's day planner

The effect is twofold: (1) It makes the day seem shorter, since it’s broken up into two manageable chunks; and (2) it helps me focus on the absolute must-do stuff, because rather than having eight whole hours! to do whatever I need, my time appears more limited.

Try it out this week. Write out the first half of your Monday tonight, before you go to bed, and then re-plan the noon/1-5 p.m. half of your day at lunch tomorrow.

Photo credit: WEBN-TV / Flickr

A photo of books in a library

I’ve been collecting a higher-than-average number of social media links lately. I thought I’d drop some of the more standout ones here in case you don’t follow my Tumblr or Delicious accounts:

Photo: CCAC North Library / Flickr

This Data Visualization Of Seattle Buses Is Awesome

I’m a big fan of infrastructure—so much so that I started a Pinterest board recently dedicated to it. Maybe it’s the data geek in me. I just love seeing systems work.

This 24-hour time lapse representation of Seattle’s bus routes is one of the coolest things I’ve seen in a while:

It’s also great at getting the message across. Seattle and King County routes are being threatened right now by gaping service cuts. Watch this video for even just a few seconds, and you start to appreciate how drastic those cuts would look in real life.

Fuck It—Write It

Credit: Hafiz Issadeen / Flickr

Partially inspired by the link I shared in my last post, and this piece from Kelly Clay back in October, I’m refocusing myself on this blog. In essence, if I’m stuck on a particular thought and I’m debating whether or not to blog about it: Fuck It—Write It.

You’ll notice the look of this site has changed; that’s because I’m done messing around with trying to make it look just how I want it. There was a time when that mattered to me, but if I’m being honest, I’m no designer. I built this thing to write, and to help focus my professional development.

So that’s what I’ll be back to doing. And maybe the occasional Seahawks or Star Trek post. Let’s do this.

Photo via Flickr

‘It’s time to fuck things up [and] burn things down’

Image of a fireball on black background

One of my favorite sites to read is designer Bobby Solomon’s The Fox is Black. It has nothing to do with anything I do, really; it’s just an enjoyable read and often showcases pretty stuff.

Anyway, Bobby posted some thoughts this week on changes to his blog, and they’re worth passing along. Consider this for your blog, your life…anything:

So as simple as that, you’ll start to see a shift in the site. There will be more random thoughts and ideas being pushed out and less of me worrying about whether or not what I’m doing fits with the old space. It’s time to fuck things up, burn things down, and try to again to create something that truly fits me.

Watch Me Live Tweet SAM Remix On February 21

Photo of the facade of the SAM

I’m very excited and honored to have been chosen as one of the guest-tweeters during the next SAM Remix on February 21. This is a super cool event: It’s essentially a club/mixer inside an art gallery, with live art and performances included. Here are some of the features I’m most looking forward to this round (check out the event page for a full list):

I’ll be tweeting from the @iheartSAM Twitter handle at the opening of the event, from 8-8:50 p.m., and if you email me (paulbalcerak [at] gmail [dot] com), I can give you a discount code for $5 off an adult ticket.

I hope to see some of you guys out there. I’m seriously geeked out over being able to do this. Please do stop by and say hey to me if you’re there, or talk to me via @iheartSAM on Twitter the night of.

30

30

Today is my 30th birthday.

I’ve joked that I’ve been in my thirties for a while now (re: house, baby), but now it’s official. It means a lot and it doesn’t change anything at all.

In terms of taking stock of my life, I feel great. I have everything I need:

  • Oliver and Nikki
  • Health

Everything else is frosting compared to those things.

I’ve always struggled with goals, but there are two things I’ve never wavered from. First, above all, I want to be happy. Second, I want to spread that happiness in any way possible. I’ll let the world and history decide if I’ve accomplished the latter, but at the former, I’ve succeeded extraordinarily (see “everything I need” above). I’ve done so through a combination of optimism, hard work and luck

In the interest of achieving those goals in the next 10 years, here are three specific things I want to focus on:

Be better at spreading happiness

This mainly relates to being a husband and father. I only listed two things I need, but if health falls off—and it always does, eventually—I will still have what I need most. My goal then is to make sure my family knows how happy they make me, and the best way is to reciprocate as much as possible.

Be better at meeting people and making friends

At times, I’ve been a bit of a wallflower. We all have. The fact is, everyone’s shy and just wants someone to come up and talk to them. It’s the warmest feeling when you’re alone in a crowded room. Be the guy that walks up—that’s all.

Be better at sharing what I’ve been given

As I said earlier, I’ve been amazingly lucky. I’m in a position to be able to give back regularly, and one of my immediate goals is to create a structured plan for doing so.

I’m excited. My 20s we’re a blur in a lot of ways, and I’m sure my 30s will be, too (re: kids). Right now, though, it’s the present, and the future’s just starting to open up. I’m ready to boldly go.