From Space to Cyberspace: A New Way to Watch a Meteor Shower

The meteor shower that occurred early this morning was not only all over the sky, but all over Twitter.  Star gazers tweeted their reactions and thoughts on the event using the hashtag #meteorshower.  The responses were varied: some people very disappointed with the show, complaining that they stayed up late for nothing.  Others were very impressed.  One user tweeted “Staying up late to watch the #meteorshower makes everything ever seem worth it.”

Most users referenced an article from the LA Times Travel Section in their tweet, since the article directed people to use this hashtag.  It also recommended using the Twitter Search “Orionids.”  

While American Amateur Astronomers (or just plain star gazers) are making strides to connect to the public and share their experiences with other watchers, one British group has developed their Twitter usage to include video footage and photographs  in their meteor shower watching.  The Newbury Astronomical Society (NAS) has made Twitter a central part of their membership activities, using the social network as a form of communication between members, as well as the public.  The group succesfully tweeted their way through the Perseid meteor shower this summer, and has plans to tweet about two upcoming events: the 2nd Moonwatch at the end of October, and the Geminid meteor shower in December.  A great benefit is that enthusiasts can take questions, or simply have discussions over the Internet using Twitter.  It reminds me of some of the examples seen in Chris Anderson’s book “The Long Tail” we recently read.  Because of social media, amateur astronomers have access to display their thoughts and footage from the meteor shower now, not just professionals.  And anyone can view this footage.  You don’t have to be in a classroom, or at a space convention: you can simply sit at your computer and see everything- even if you missed the metorshower.  

This YouTube video illustrates exactly what the NAS is aiming to do, and Dr. Robert Massey from the Royal Astronomical Society explains how Twitter is a great format for discussing and showing footage of the meteor shower:

This very dramatized trailer created by Adrian West of the NAS acts like a movie preview for the two upcoming events that the society plans on covering through Twitter, where “Amateur astronomers and the public will join together” to “Share images, information and knowledge.”  If you can get over the Star Wars-Esc aspect of the trailer, it’s a great video for conveying exactly how Social Media sites like Twitter aid public awareness and knowledge:

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October 21, 2009 at 6:19 pm 1 comment

Twitter Offers a Great Way to Save Money

I’m a bargain hunter extraordinaire, which means I’m all ears when it comes to saving some cash.  That’s why an article CBS recently published titled “5 Ways Twitter Can Save You Money” caught my eye as I was browsing through my Google Alert for Twitter news.

The story was written by Jeff Wuorio, and appeared originally on CBS’ Moneywatch.com.  Wuorio explained that if you wade through all the crap, like Ashton Kutcher’s tweets on what he’s doing this instant, there’s a lot of really helpful ideas and people out tweeting away.  There’s also a lot of bargains…  now I’m listening.

Wuorio explained a few scenarios where people saved huge chunks of change on vacations, financing offers and cars, and then gave five tips to aid bargain hunters in their search on Twitter.  These include going directly to the source, that is, following businesses like JetBlue Airlines that routinely tweet about specials.  Another tip is to interact with friends, family members, and other Twitter users who share interests like traveling, or shop at the same grocery store even, who can share deals and finds.  The next tip is to let a website or service like CheapTweet or Fat Wallet scan through Twitter looking for the best deals for you.  These bloggers spend all their time doing this, so why not let them save you some time in search for your precious bargains? Another tip, more relevant to saving money solely on traveling is to follow a specific area.  The example Wuorio gives is to follow @BostonTweet, which recently updated information about free museums in Boston.  The final tip is to make Twitter use easy on yourself by organizing.  A useful tool is Tweet Deck, which is a free browser that manages groups, conversations and regulates Twitter spam.  

There’s a immense variety of great articles out there about specific ways people have saved money on Twitter.  One article I recently read in CN Traveler discusses how to save money on your next vacation airfare through Twitter- there are a ton of these ones. 

Compared to other social networking sites, Twitter has an advantage because it’s quick and easy for businesses to get the word out about specials and bargain products.  The true bargain hunters, like the woman in this YouTube video from NBC WLWT, will find the deals, with Twitter as their aid.  It doesn’t take much of an effort to do so yourself… so go ahead, save some money!

October 9, 2009 at 1:21 am 2 comments

New Group on eHow Gives Members a Chance to Promote Themselves

I discovered a brand new group today on eHow called “\”Promote Yourself\”.”  The group will probably grow rapidly, since it’s so new and already has 26 members, compared to many groups that have been existing for quite some time with the creator as the sole member.  The rest of the groups on eHow are fairly small, averaging around four or five; but can fall anywhere between one and 100.

The intention of this group, which was formed by a user who just joined the eHow community yesterday, is to attract new readers to posts written by users that want to get their articles out there.  It also gives people a chance to see what sort of articles other users are reading and which ones they enjoyed (or didn’t).eHow

In a blog post on the group site, one user wrote, “Let’s all promote each other!”  This is social networking at its finest: for eHow users to be able to promote their own work, and then read other articles and discuss them and recommend them to other users is the precise aim of the eHow social community, and with that, the goal of this group.

October 2, 2009 at 1:57 am 1 comment

MySpace’s Twitter Sync Takes Off

In my last post, I discussed the new syncing capabilities between MySpace and Twitter.  Since then (about a week ago), the the link shortener, lnk.ms has become the second leading one on twitter, following the dominating bit.ly.

This doesn’t necessarily mean that that the new links people are posting are contributing any new growth on MySpace or that followers are clicking on those links.  However, it’s a movement toward growth and interaction between social networking sites.

According to this Silicon Alley Insider Chart of the Day, the MySpace URL shorterner on Twitter is the second most popular out of five. 

URL Shorteners on Twitter

October 2, 2009 at 1:56 am Leave a comment

MySpace and Twitter Join Forces for Easy Syncing

MySpace and Twitter have united to form two-way syncing that’s available in seven different countries, including the U.S.  The syncing allows users to update their status on MySpace as they normally would: from their online site or mobile phone, and that status is automatically synced and loaded onto their twitter page.  

According to the MySpace website, only Twitter is available now for syncing, but more networks are in the works: Facebook perhaps?

Numerous comedians and musicians like John Legend, Lenny Kravitz, and Jim Gaffigan have synced their MySpace and Twitter accounts, but it unknown how many total users have done so.  This function is available is countries including the U.S., the U.K., Canada, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand and India.

Sync your MySpace and Twitter accounts at http://www.myspace.com/sync.

September 23, 2009 at 6:09 pm 1 comment

eHow Users Share Their Experiences With New “I Did This” Format

So you’ve read the eHow article on how to get rid of the odor in your kitchen after cooking and you find it works great (I did, and it does).  So share it!  eHow authors want some feedback about their articles, and other readers want to know if those how-to’s really work before trying them.  

The new “I Did This” format on the eHow homepage allows users to do just this.  They can share experiences and comments and photos about a completed project or task and tell the eHow community all about it in an informal, blog-like setting with less restrictions than the typical how-to article.  

The eHow homepage has a link for the “I Did This” section, complete with featured users and their experiences as well as an area to browse stories by category.  Check out the new addition to eHow at: http://www.ehow.com/how-did.html.

September 23, 2009 at 5:53 pm Leave a comment

Social Media to the rescue!

Covering both eHow and Twitter, I came across a perfect combination of the two while doing my research.  eHow tweeted it and announced it on their facebook page: that they have a new how-to guide called “How to Tweet your Way Through An Emergency.”

 The article is complete with directions, a list of necessary materials,and  tips and warnings.  The article also explains that Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has joined forces with The Safe America Foundation to educate people about staying informed through the use of social media during an emergency.

The guide then walks readers through the process of setting up an account with twitter and how to get text message alerts.

I thought this was a perfect example of how social media forums interact in order to create new methods of informing people.  Many eHow readers might not have a twitter account, and by reading this article they can learn all about it and why it’s a beneficial media tool.  By tweeting the article, eHow alerts twitter users to visit the website for the new article.

September 17, 2009 at 11:48 pm Leave a comment

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