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Posts tagged with Holidays

Getting social for the Fourth

With the long Independence Day weekend tempting us right over there on the horizon, many of us are packing our bags, fueling up our cars or just getting ready for a holiday weekend close to home. Keeping the spirit of the holiday in mind, we dug up a few fun links about the Fourth and social media - have a look if you're searching for something to distract you from a holiday weekend that's only a day away.

  • How Would Social Media have Shaped the Declaration of Independence? For one thing, the blogger notes, that "bill of particulars" in the Declaration where colonists specify complaints against King George is made up of a bunch of statements that are each about the length of a tweet: "He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness of his invasions on the rights of the people." (129 characters)
  • Online Comments on the Declaration of Independence? If the Declaration had broken as a news story today, of course the full text would be posted online. And open to user comments. (GEORGE3: This is the most idiotic piece of cr*p I ever read. Maybe next time they should try getting somebody who can actually write.) Be sure to read the real user comments at the end of this column about, well, user comments.
  • Transparency and Vulnerability in the Interconnected Age. On a more serious note, here's a comparison of the sort of radical transparency the Founding Fathers exhibited by signing their names to the Declaration of Indpendence with the sort of online transparency we're dealing with these days. Looking at the role of social media in recent political struggles worldwide - anything from Saudi Arabian women calling for the right to drive, to social's acceleration of uprising in Egypt - how might the American Revolution played out differently had our country's founders been wielding iPhones?
  • Declaration of Independence from Social Media (for One Day). You knew it was coming (and maybe you're even taking heed yourself): a call to pull the plug from social over the long weekend. Yes, it's an amusing riff on the real Declaration - Social media has refused to assent to social laws most wholesome and necessary for the public good, such as not allowing us to disconnect from people we haven't spoken to in years - but if checking in on Foursquare is starting to feel more like a chore than a game, it might be worth a thought.

Unless you're committed to "checking out" this weekend, you've probably seen some fun, useful or interesting connections between social media and the Fourth. We'd love to see them - please share in the comments below. Happy Independence Day!

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Tune in or drop out for Memorial Day?

As we head into Memorial Day, the first big outdoor holiday of the hear and the unofficial kickoff to summer, here's a question: How much of your holiday weekend will be spent talking about the holiday weekend on Facebook, Twitter or the social network of your choice?

For many of us, the answer will be a lot, whether it's because we finally have some time outside the office to play with our techie toys or because we're part of that camp that just likes to obsessively document everything (I'm raising my hand on that one). Of course, photos, stories and tweets from a family holiday can be a fantastic chance to bring loved ones closer; I've got a friend, for example, whose fanatically detailed Facebook albums of Thanksgiving, Christmas and the like aren't for herself, but for her husband, stationed overseas with the military.

The argument goes the other way too, though. Last year on my own annual Memorial Day road trip - a trip to Denver for a dance festival - I remember a really distinctly creepy moment during a particularly beautiful performance when everyone around me was too busy recording the show on their fancy phones to, as it seemed, actually enjoy what was going on a few feet in front of them. By the time I got to my hotel room a few hours later and cracked open Facebook, there were already videos and photos up from the night.

While that sort of real-time citizen reporting is one of biggest areas of potential for social media, as well as an amazing tool for networking - based on tags on that night's photos, I probably added half a dozen Facebook friends before I even saw them again at the festival the next morning - it does provide an equally dazzling capacity for burnout. While the concept of a "social media sabbatical" isn't a new one, it probably won't be going away any time soon, either. Sites like Sabbath Manifesto urge people to take part in a "weekly timeout" - in the case of Sabbath Manifesto, even providing an iPhone app that'll "check out" of your social networks for you so you're not distracted by some cute cat video when you log onto Twitter to tell your friends you'll BRB. (Who could blame you, after all? It's even been proven that using social media boosts production of oxytocin, the same "cuddle chemical" that activates when we're in love.)

Last Memorial Day, executive creative director Steve McCallion from big creative firm Ziba wrote a pretty poignant column for Fast Company suggesting that, in light of our collective burnout and the reason Memorial Day exists in the first place, we may all just want to take a break from our phones, laptops, Facebook profiles and Twitter streams for a while and use the occasion to make the holiday more meaningful:

"Web traffic monitoring sites could follow up with a graph visually depicting the drop in traffic to document the power of this collective action. Maybe we could start small, asking for a mere 10 seconds of silence. Each year we could add 10 seconds. Gradually increasing the time each year brings us to a full minute in 2015: a shared national journey toward relearning the concept of sacrifice."

If social media is a big part of your life, personally or professionally, that's a pretty tall order; if you or your brand "live" online, it might not even be possible. So what do you think - would signing off social for a brief sabbatical, whether for Memorial Day or just because, improve your quality of life or keep you from connecting to people important to you?

And with that, I'll give it a try and log off for the long weekend. Maybe.

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Tweeting a little holiday spirit

Since we're still knee-deep in that festive week between Christmas and New Year's - and because the top-10 lists of 2010 social media wins and fails keep rolling in - here's one social media story to bring a smile. While us Lawrence folks have been enjoying a mostly pleasant winter so far, London has been pretty well socked in with the worst winter it's seen in some 40 years. While for many it's merely inconvenient, the low temperatures and heavy snows have been literally life-threatening for London's homeless and at-risk population.

With that in mind, creative digital marketing agency Saint London and creative agency RKCR/Y&R created the Twitter Knitter project. The premise was pretty simple: Tweet a holiday message, use the hashtag #warmupcamden (the borough of London on which the project concentrated) and hope that your maxim makes the cut for being knitted into a warm holiday scarf. (The site puts it well: "We've combined one of the latest technologies - Twitter - with one of the oldest - knitting - to create Twitter Knitter.") The finished scarves were then handed out on the streets of Camden to rough sleepers, construction workers and others who looked, well, cold. Others were sold in local thrift stores to raise cash for related causes. Tweeters who submitted winning messages were notified via tweet and invited to watch via live webcam their scarf being made.

Want to see the highlights, including some of the winning tweets? There's a video here. And with almost 365 days left until next Christmas, any ideas for turning tweets into community assistance at a local level for next winter's holiday season? (After all, we may not be so lucky with the weather next winter!) Let us know in the comments. And happy New Year!

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Happy holidays, new media-style

If you're settling in right now for a long holiday weekend, chances are you're probably also catching up on errands, checking a few things off your to-do list or sorting through the unopened mail that tends to accumulate at this time of the year. Check that stack, though - are there fewer holiday cards in it than there were last year? Any holiday cards at all?

If the glitter-and-Santa card garland on your mantel (anyone else do this?) is looking a little uninspiring this year, blame social media - at least according to a Mintel International study quoted recently in the Chicago Tribune. According to the numbers, holiday card purchases have been slowing every year since 2005 and, in 2009, took the first decline ever. It's just a .4% drop, but correlates directly to our rise in use of email and, more immediately, social networking such as Facebook. Says Kit Yarrow, Golden Gate University professor and researcher in Gen Y culture: "Gen Yers are notorious for not sending thank you notes and not RSVPing. I just think that method of communication is foreign to them."

(Oh, and an aside: That Tribune article? All those mentions of greeting cards in the copy triggered a flood of banner ads for Hallmark. Contextual advertising works!)

For those who sent out a Facebook message this year instead of taking the time to address a stack of mail, history suggests you're not alone. Ironically, the Tribune story points out, greeting cards themselves started out as another time- and face-saving measure during the holidays. Hallmark maintains that sending holiday cards originated in 1843 when a British businessman hired an artist to create a trinket he could send out in lieu of a more involved greeting. Fast-forward a century and a half and - even after the drop in popularity - Americans are expected to send out some 1.5 billion holiday cards this year, compared to Facebook's 500 million members ... and that's Facebook on a global level, not just Stateside.

So, how many cards did you get in the mail this festive season? My personal count: four, and that's living just a few miles away from the Hallmark plant. That said, the holiday greetings I've received via Facebook, Twitter or even email don't amount to many more. Evidence of that Gen Y abandonment of the polite gesture, or what? (And does "Happy Xmas fwendies LOLOLOL" - from a Facebook friend who shall remain nameless - count as a holiday greeting at all, social media or no?)

For what it's worth - and whether or not a blog post counts as a "real" holiday greeting - here's wishing y'all a "merry merry." Enjoy the holiday weekend, and whether you connect on paper, in person or on the Web, may you share it with the folks who mean the most.

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