NFAIS 2009: The Rise of Social Media and Multi-language Communication

The Impact of Global Digital Natives: The Rise of Social Media and Multi-language Communication and Content

Nora Ganim Barnes from the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth spoke first on Social Media Adoption from Higher Ed to the Inc. 500.

Nora was going to give us the first longitudinal results of the conference. The sample used for her study included all kinds of schools size 20 students to 39,000 students. These questions were posed to the school.

The first question was what are you familiar with? Social Networking was the highest ranked and Podcasting the lowest ranked. The use of Social Networking from 2007-2008 went from 29% to 61%.

When asked if colleges accept comments on your blog – 22% said No in 2008! If you don’t accept comments, it’s a message board – not a blog. A blog is supposed to be a conversation. Nora says that while colleges are adopting social media quickly – they’re not exactly doing it right. Another example of this is that only 49% are offering RSS feeds for their site content!

She also found only 1 out of 5 schools were using social media to research potential students – this number should be much higher!! Do you want to give a scholarship to a student and then find them on Facebook and see that they did something very embarrassing on spring break??

Next the Inc. 500 and Social Media, 209 participated in 2008 and 121 in 2007 from 26 different industries. When asked how familiar they are with social media, the same ones were at the top and bottom as the higher ed study. 49% say they’re using Social Networking in 2008 compared to 27% in 2007. For those not using social media yet, 26% of them plan to use a blog soon.

The grand summary shows that 85% of colleges/universities in 2008 are using social media and 77% of the Inc. 500 are doing the same.

She then asked how they’re monitoring the buzz about their organization – and not enough were – you need to be paying attention to what people are saying about you, your school, your library and your company online – set up alerts and keep up with it!!

Bill Kelly followed Nora with his talk Building a Professional Social Network: Keys to Success.

In the last few years we have seen an explosion of social networking on the web. A number of studies theorize that our motivation to connect with each other goes back a long way (he showed us a picture of gorillas). He noted that the most popular networks aren’t always geared toward on profession and so a set of sites has cropped up for your specific network (he mentioned sciences in his talk – but I recently joined Ravelry – a network for knitters – so they exist all for all kinds of groups).

He pointed out that before you start a community like this you have to find out what motivates your audience. The universal traits he found among scientists were: Creative, Curious, Dedicated, Entrerenuerial, etc. It doesn’t matter what kinds of professionals you want to bring into your network, you just have to remember that they have always been communicating, so you have to allow them to continue that communication in a superior way to the alternative source.

They did a survey of 1500 scientists to see how they’re using social media – unlike most professionals, these people do not spend their days at a keyboard, so their networks need to meet their needs of finding research – so you have to keep in mind that all social media is not right for all audiences and all purposes, you have to mold it to meet your networks’ needs.

You also have to remember to position your network so that it’s in the eyes of your target customer/network. You can’t be all things to all people! An example of this is that discussion boards are still the preferred method of communication in the science community. In fact, most scientists aren’t reading science blogs on a regular basis.

You also have to be careful to use their language and explain who you are for science networks to work – they’re always questioning credibility. You have to create a welcoming environment which means including safe images and content that fits the audience you’re trying to attract. And even if you do everything right – it’s always possible that those who sign up for your networks may never come back after signing up.

Loyalty is important to promote your social network. Bill says that loyalty is measured many ways. Those who visit the site but don’t contribute are loyal, those who open your emails but don’t visit the site are loyal. Loyal users are those who feel that they can’t afford to leave because they may miss something important. So, make sure you’re building trust and providing new features and value to the site.

In conclusion, while it’s not easy – it’s well worth it!

Jack Harvey from the US Patent and Trade Office came next with this talk titled Pilot Concerning Public Submission of Peer Reviewed Prior Art.

“Prior Art” is the term given to patents and printed publications used by examiners in rejecting claims in an application. Getting prior art before the examiner, early in prosecution, generally improves the examination process. The website implementing this pilot project was launched in June of 2007.

Pilot project overview:

  • 400 volunteered published applications
  • No more than 25 applications from any one company
  • up to 10 pieces of prior art are submitted for consideration by the examiner during examination

Why did they want to participate?

  • Public Criticism of Patents
  • Published applications will be on the website for up to 3 months
  • Provide peer review of applications
  • Leverage existing technology for collaborative filtering to provide best prior art to the Office
  • Improve patent quality

To date, participation has been okay. Of the 400 slots, only 150+ applicants have consented and accepted to participate (some of these include HP, IBM, Intel, GE, Microsoft, Sun). Pro se inventors make up approximately 15% of those 150+. Nearly half of the applications have received a first action on the merits. To date, only 10% of the peers have found art that the examiner didn’t – in the 90% of cases, the examiner found what they needed on their own.

This pilot project is that it has been covered extensively in the news online and offline – and yet the participation is still low – which makes Jack think that maybe not enough people know about it – maybe it has to do with some of the things that Bill mentioned about gearing your network to the right audience and bringing them in.

Jack gave us some feedback from the examiners and it was all positive. They thought it was a good idea and that i was going well. One examiner said, “I think it would be helpful as a whole, it seems that peers interpret claims and references differently.” So, from the examiner’s perspective it’s a great pilot.

Even though the pilot runs out in June, but President Obama has a plan to reform the Patent System in which he calls for ‘citizen review’ (read more in this post by Beth Simone Noveck on Cairns Blog). The US Chamber of Commerce Report also says that “PTO should expand ‘peer-to-peer’ pilot program.” So there is a lot of call for this type of program, but there is something stopping it from moving forward, so this is a tool to keep an eye on and promote.

Leonor Ciarlone from The Gilbane Group was last up on this panel with her talk Challenge 2009: Aligning Global Content with Business Value.

Leonor wanted to bring in the multi-lingual aspect to everything we’ve talked about at this conference. To start, she pointed us to a report they did at her company on ‘Multilingual Communications as a Business Imperative‘ in July of 2008.

Leonor was very interesting to listen to – but I have to say that I was a bit lost – it was very very business heavy – so my recommendation to you (if you’re interested in business stuff) is to read the report that I have provided a link to above.

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