Posts Tagged ‘social media’

Photo: Yehor Milohrodskyi via unsplash.
The flag of Ukraine.

This will be a short post. I want to tell you about something inspiring I got involved with that ended yesterday.

Full-blown war in Ukraine started February 24 when Russia invaded the sovereign nation, but Russia had been attacking and nibbling away at Ukrainian territory for years, and Ukraine was ready to defend itself.

Shortly thereafter, a Ukrainian journalist called Igor Nalyvaiko, alarmed at the Russian disinformation he was seeing all over social media, especially English-language social media, set up a counter-effort.

Working with Ukrainian media people who spoke English, and reaching out to editor types like blogger Asakiyume and me who are native English speakers, he launched a noble experiment that lasted until July 11, when the media company backing him shut down. In the process, he built a team of new friends — Ukrainian and American — who feel invested in one another’s lives because we were interacting 24/7 across a seven-hour time difference.

If you have ever been devastated by an injustice in the world and learned that in addition to donating money, you could contribute a skill you happened to have, you will understand what a gift this was to the volunteer “proofreaders.”

I will quote from an explanation of the initiative that Igor wrote for the new proofreaders who kept signing on.

“Ukraine: Battling Disinformation In the Fight for Existence – A Voice From Ukraine 25 March 2022

“Hi Guys, 

“I was requested to shortly outline the principles of this translation initiative and its purpose for the new coming proofreaders. 

“U24 World is a 24/7 news outlet covering the current situation in Ukraine following the Russian invasion. Its aim is delivery of truthful information to fight Russian propaganda worldwide. The initiative was urged by a group of enthusiasts and workers of the national TV Channel Ukraine and volunteers who were able to join in the fight on the information frontline.

“Being assigned as a translator and a coordinator of the translators’ team (In my past life I used to be a host and a journalist but had to join the ‘international battalion’ and really think that can do much more here at the moment), I started to look for native speakers (English) proofreaders who could help in adaptation of the news for the western audiences (making the information readable), refining the word flow and delivery ,since we are working non-stop to cover every event that might be useful and can shed light onto the actual state of affairs taking place here in Ukraine.

“The work is arranged as follows: as we work 24/7 for optimization reasons we operate in 4-hour shifts. However the times are quite hard and not each one can afford 4 hours to devote to the project, so I am coordinating the group to make the process as comfortable as possible to the realistic extent under warfare conditions.

“There are editors who send Ukrainian news in the group chat, a translator (who is on the shift) picks up the news and sends a translation back into the chat tagging a native speaker who is on the shift. the English proofreader checks the translation and refines it so that it looks readable for English-speaking audience and then tags a Ukrainian proofreader (who is on the shift). The latter one checks if the information is not distorted in the final proofread adaptation compared to the initial Ukrainian news and tags an editor, which means that the editor can pick it up and post the news on one of these three platforms: Facebook, Twitter, and TikTok. …

“Thank you for your assistance and support. Yours,  Igor.” 

I think it’s safe to say, that grateful as we are to have been part of the collaboration, it also meant something special to our Ukrainian partners running to bomb shelters that strangers across the world were donating hours of their time, expecting nothing in return — just wanting to say, “You are not alone.”

My team may never know why this noble experiment shut down so suddenly, but we will cherish the experience and will, of course, continue to support Ukraine in other ways.

If interested, check out an audio summary at Happiness Quotient, here.

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Photo: Rob Hitt.
A kitten is on duty in a New York shop.

New Yorkers seem to love the cats that hang out in little food shops and chase mice. More often than not, local culture overrules concerns about health regulations. And shoppers love to share photos of their favorite bodega cats on social media.

Hakim Bishara writes at Hyperallergic about one such enthusiast. “Who doesn’t like bodega cats? The feline sheriffs, tasked with warding off rodents and pests in New York’s convenience stores and delis, have long signified a unique and beloved local phenomenon.

“Since 2012, Rob Hitt, a Brooklyn-based web developer and music producer, has been taking and collecting photographs of domesticated cats in bodegas across the city and posting them on his social media. Since then, his Twitter and Instagram accounts have gained a massive following, with hundreds of contributions featuring adorable bodega cats patrolling stores, perching on shelves among products, climbing onto ATM machines, or examining customers with a suspicious eye. …

“While New York’s public health department codes prohibit bodega cats, they have been valuable assets to their owners, who prefer to pay the $200 to $350 fine for holding the cat than dealing with a rodent infestation, which can harm products while also incurring a penalty of $300.

“As Hitt’s social media clout grew, he started an online shop selling bodega cats-themed merchandise, from shirts and tote bags to baby onesies. A portion of the profits goes to NYC animal rescue and trap–neuter–return organizations including FlatbushcatsTrapKingPets Are Wonderful Support (PAWS) NY, and others. Hitt also promotes the work of such organizations on his blog.”

By the way, when a bodega cat was kidnapped a couple years ago, the neighborhood was outraged. The New York Times had that story.

Azi Paybarah wrote, ” ‘The incident happened at 7:19 a.m. Friday,’ Anik Ahmed said. ‘She went outside at like 7:20, and the guy picked her up at like 7:23. And we noticed the cat was missing by 7:35.’

“Mr. Ahmed, 27, was referring to Lexi, the year-and-a-half-old tabby who has been a fixture at 71 Fresh Deli and Grocery, his store in Kips Bay, Manhattan. Surveillance video appears to show the cat vanishing when a man passes by. …

“She was ‘the neighborhood’s cat,’ one worker told NY1. The Daily News described how ‘bereft’ workers were searching for ‘the furry darling.’ …

“Fliers with Lexi’s picture are being distributed. Mr. Ahmed said he thought the catnapping was intentional, but added, ‘I’m not going to press charges.’

“Lexi came into Mr. Ahmed’s life when a friend’s cat had a litter. Soon, Mr. Ahmed said, he found himself with a curious kitten who befriended customers and workers alike.

“She even started helping around the store: Mr. Ahmed said the building’s superintendent noticed a reduction in the rodent population.

“Before opening the deli about five years ago, Mr. Ahmed was a software engineer tester, looking for potential breaches in new websites and apps. He acknowledges now that he could have kept Lexi more secure.”

More at the New York Times, here. I haven’t been able to discover if Lexi was ever returned to Ahmed. If you know, please comment below. And you can enjoy lots of pictures of other bodega cats at Hyperallergic, here.

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Photo: Frankie Steele, The (Louisville) Courier-Journal
Carmichael’s Kids indie bookstore at its opening. Writer Shea Serrano recently directed his Twitter followers to the online store. The move generated more than 1,100 orders in a day.

Say what? I thought it was agreed that online shopping has killed retail. But wait! Maybe social media can save the day.

USA Today recently reposted an article by Jeffrey Lee Puckett from the Louisville Courier-Journal that highlights the possibilities. (Hat Tip: ArtsJournal.)

“Two years ago, [writer Shea Serrano] and some friends started the FOH [not translatable for family blog] ARMY and began practicing random acts of kindness such as raising money to help send a teacher to Turkey.

“Wednesday [May 17] was the group’s first FOH Indie Bookstore Day. Carmichael’s [Kids] was endorsed by Serrano after one of the store’s employees, Mark Schultz, messaged Serrano and questioned his decision to include a link to Amazon in an earlier tweet.

” ‘Some guy who works there sent me a message one day and he seemed nice so that’s why I decided to try and do the 1K in a Day thing for them,’ Serrano said in a Twitter message. …

“Serrano is best-known for his 2015 book, The Rap Year Book: The Most Important Rap Song From Every Year Since 1979, Discussed, Debated, and Deconstructed. …

‘The really cool thing is that he’s not encouraging people to buy his book. He’s encouraging people to buy any book,’ said Carol Besse, co-owner of Carmichael’s. ‘The orders have been so interesting, all across the board, all good stuff.’

“To pay back Serrano’s kindness, Carmichael’s will offer free shipping on all FOH ARMY orders, Besse said.” More here.

This twitter effort strikes me as a variation of the cash mob, which I don’t believe can be the salvation of a retail business in and of itself. Although I have to say the West Concord 5&10, which was the focus of a cash mob I described here, is still going.

The Holy Grail for retail will probably be some combination of online and bricks-and-mortar that recognizes customers like to have their purchases delivered to their homes and that also takes into account what sorts of products absolutely need to be handled before purchase.

But the article shows that it doesn’t hurt to have employees who notice Amazon references on social media and say, “Hey, what about us little guys?”

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My husband pointed me to this story about a British scuba diver who found her camera three years after it was lost, thanks to social media.

The Telegraph reports, “A British scuba diver has been reunited with the camera she lost three years ago after it washed up 600 miles away in Sweden — in full working order.

“Adele Devonshire, 37, was diving off St Abbs in Berwickshire, Scotland, when the clip holding her camera snapped. After a search of the shore in July 2013 she gave up hope of ever seeing the Fuji camera and waterproof case ever again.

“But she was astonished when she saw an online post [in July] by Lars Mossberg, 57, who found it perched on a rock on the shore of a small Swedish island.

“The plastic housing was covered in scratches, but despite having travelled across the North Sea, the camera turned on first time — without even being charged.

“Father-of-two Mr Mossberg tracked down Mrs Devonshire by posting some of her photos — of her father and her husband — to a ‘Lost at Sea’ Facebook group where they were seen by a friend.

“It took just five hours to find Mrs Devonshire, after the pictures were recognised by a pal who had been on the dive when she lost it three years earlier. …

“After listening to the voice on movies on the camera [Mr. Mossberg] thought it must belong to a Briton, so posted a few photos of Mrs Devonshire’s husband Paul and father Roger to Lost At Sea.

“The photos were posted at around 5.30pm on Friday, and remarkably were spotted by Mrs Devonshire’s friend by 10.30pm that night. She had only joined the 2,500 member group that day.

“Mr Mossberg verified Mrs Devonshire was the owner by asking her some questions about the photos, and was set to post it back to her on [the following] Monday.

“Mrs Devonshire added: ‘I never did buy a new one so I’m really looking forward to getting it back. It has been on quite the journey.’ ”

More here.

Photo: Lars Mossberg / SWNS.com
Lars Mossberg found Adele Devonshire’s camera perched on a rock on the shore of the small Swedish island Gullholmen.

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Gaia Pianigiani wrote recently at the NY Times about an effort by new residents of a town in Italy to get to know neighbors through social media.

“When Laurell Boyers, 34, and her husband, Federico Bastiani, 37, moved in together in Bologna in 2012, they did not know any of their neighbors. It was a lonely feeling. …

“So Mr. Bastiani took a chance and posted a flier along his street, Via Fondazza, explaining that he had created a closed group on Facebook just for the people who lived there. He was merely looking to make some new friends.

“In three or four days, the group had about 20 followers. Almost two years later, the residents say, walking along Via Fondazza does not feel like strolling in a big city neighborhood anymore. Rather, it is more like exploring a small town, where everyone knows one another, as the group now has 1,100 members.

“The idea, Italy’s first ‘social street,’ has been such a success that it has caught on beyond Bologna and the narrow confines of Via Fondazza. There are 393 social streets in Europe, Brazil and New Zealand, inspired by Mr. Bastiani’s idea, according to the Social Street Italia website, which was created out of the Facebook group to help others replicate the project.”

The original meet-and-greet concept has evolved into neighbors helping neighbors in many ways.

“A few months back, Caterina Salvadori, a screenwriter and filmmaker who moved to Via Fondazza last March, posted on Facebook that her sink was clogged. Within five minutes, she said, she had three different messages.

“One neighbor offered a plunger, then another a more efficient plunger, and a third offered to unblock the sink himself. …

“Nothing comes at a cost in the Via Fondazza group. Some of the community’s facilities are donated, but most of the benefits stem from the members’ willingness to help, share and live better.” More here.

Photo: Nadia Shira Cohen/New York Times
Residents of Via Fondazza in Bologna, Italy, at a neighborhood bar. The street’s Facebook page has grown to 1,100 members.

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Did you ever have a secret language?

I spoke a lot of Goose Latin when I was about 10. (How-fow do-foo you-foo spee-feak goo-foose La-fa-ti-fin? Tha-fat i-fis my-fi se-fee-cre-fet.) I don’t think my mother had much trouble cracking the code.

I have always been interested in how people disguise what they are really thinking when they speak, and I once made a video about having an extremely polite tea with someone I didn’t like, using a voiceover for my true thoughts.

A more serious reason for speaking in code was described in a Boston Globe article by Joshua J. Friedman last month.

“To communicate while living under an authoritarian regime requires a special sort of linguistic creativity. As a new paper by Nassima Neggaz in the journal Language, Discourse & Society reports, one solution that Syrians have found is to speak in codes. …

“Neggaz interviewed approximately 20 members of several close groups of relatives and university friends in Homs, Hama, and Damascus about the codes they used between 1980 and 2011. She found that members of one group, to speak of someone who was hiding from the regime, would say that the person was ‘sick,’ mardan. Members of another group would say that he was ‘studying’ (‘am yadruss) or that he was ‘taking exams’ (‘andu fhussat).

“To describe someone who was being detained or who was in jail, it was common to say that this person was ‘at his aunt’s house’ (huwa fi bayt khaltu). To suggest that a person was an informer, some speakers would say khattu heluw: ‘His handwriting is beautiful.’ ” More here.

Image: Christoph Niemann for Time, content.time.co

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Photo: Ashley Foughty, via Associated Press. Foughty spotted the renegade Rusty in Washington’s Adams Morgan neighborhood, and twitter did the rest.

Ashley Foughty uses social media.  And a good thing, too. If she hadn’t responded to the zoo’s call for help finding an escaped red panda, who knows what might have happened.

Trip Gabriel writes at the NY Times, “Rusty the red panda, who disappeared from the National Zoo, hijacked the news cycle on Monday.

“To help find Rusty, a raccoon-size mammal with a striped tail and moon-shaped face, the zoo turned to social media, and suddenly half of official Washington broke from Serious Events to tune in to the saga of the runaway panda.

“On Twitter and Facebook, the hunt for 11-month-old Rusty … exploded in a mix of concern, humor. …

“ ‘Rusty the Red Panda eats shoots and leaves,’ Jake Tapper, CNN’s chief Washington correspondent, filed to Twitter. …

“The zoo announced Rusty’s disappearance to its thousands of Twitter followers in a message at 11:51 a.m, which was retweeted nearly 3,000 times in an hour. …

“At midday, mentions of ‘Rusty’ on Twitter nearly equaled those of ‘Obama.’ ….

“ ‘Edward Snowden and Rusty the red panda relaxing on a Havana beach,’ wrote J. D. Ross, a communications director at Syracuse University, referring to the American security contractor wanted on spying charges. …

“Once again, social media proved to be a powerful dragnet. Around 1:15 p.m., a Washingtonian posted a picture on Twitter of Rusty in a patch of weeds in the Adams Morgan district, not far from the 163-acre zoo.”

Read what happened next. Note to all escaped zoo animals: Twitter will find you.

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I’m learning about cash mobs and how they are used to help small businesses and promote economic development.

I like that it’s kind of a surprise for the business. The town selects a shop for some policy reason like wanting to revitalize a particular part of town or to encourage a promising entrepreneur. It promotes the business for a cash-mob day and encourages local folks to spend some money. People do because it’s fun, and because they, too, want to help.

“A cash mob works like this,” writes the Globe. “City officials, civic groups, or individuals use social media, blogs, and e-mail to spread the word about the event. As @Lowellcashmob tweeted this week, ‘Infusing revenue into Lowell businesses, you never know where the cash mob will strike!’ …

“Merchants do not run them, but are selected for a ‘hit.’ Participants are encouraged to spend $10 to $20. There often aren’t any discounts or incentives — it’s less about nabbing a Black Friday bargain and more about sharing the wealth.” More here.

Got me thinking. How else could this work? Could the town choose a local blood bank for a cash-mob day? How about a “paint the youth center” day? Or a day to buy something at the Pirate Supply Store to support the tutoring program? Would people think that was fun, too?

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