As Chip Griffin of CustomScoop points out in his comment, this switch from email to social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace is a phenomenon that Shel Holtz has been reporting on for a little while. Well, of course, if it has to do with communication on the web, few are going to take notice before Shel! I feel so out of it. I don’t have a Facebook page. But after reading this post by Michael Arrington about a Goldman Sachs employee who noted on his Facebook page that the nearly half his day he spent on Facebook was more important to him than his job, I’m almost fearful of the addictive powers of these sites.
But then, I’m from the days when I can remember an actual working Linotype machine, type was placed with wax, and if you packed a writing instrument with you, it was a slick portable typewriter. To think that email is quickly slipping into history makes me feel like I am sadly watching the last horse leave on the Pony Express.
I’m traveling this week and one of my meetings was with the CIO of a large university. Since I am involved in crisis communication technology and one of the key stakeholder groups university leaders need to communicate with in a hurry when things go wrong is students. The system we were discussing pushes out messages via multi-modes: email, fax, text-to-voice telephone and SMS (text messaging). But, the administrator said, the students don’t use email anymore. Now, I haven’t seen the stats on this yet, but he said he hears that students check their email with decreasing frequency. On the other hand, he said the average MySpace or Facebook user checks their page 30 times a day! Again, don’t quote me and I may not have it right, but the trend is probably accurate.
This article from eMarketer.com bears out the fact that young people are spending a tremendous amount of time of the social networking websites. Of course, from my point of view in delivering communication technology solutions, we have to figure out how to reach key audiences the best, fastest, most comprehensive ways. That may very well mean posting urgent or emergency messages to their social network sites. With their permission, of course. It is a strange and changing world.
A growing issue for companies and organizations involved in a “blogwar,” is the posting of copyrighted content on places like YouTube. Here’s the scenario. Your company produces ads or promotional videos which the critics take, distort, turn into parodies, comment on, or in other ways attempt to turn against you. Then they post it on sites like YouTube, GoogleVideo, MySpace, etc.
If your company is in this situation, you have an interesting dilemma. Use the copyright laws to require your critics to take the offending post down? You can do that, but you face the very likely attack in the blogosphere of “trying to control content and end debate.” It runs counter to the blog values that says anyone should be able to say anything about anyone else and any for profit entity that tries to protect itself is not transparent and is trying to hide something. So the policy seems to be that reserve the big legal hammers for only the most egregious violations of copyrighted content and have a pretty high level of tolerance for most of the garbage that gets thrown out there.
Now some help on this issue is coming from content producers who have a strong financial interest in protecting their copyrights. We noticed lately how YouTube had beefed up their requirements for the person posting content to make certain that they owned the copyright or had permission from the copyright owner before posting anything to YouTube. Clearly a defensive measure.
Now comes a lawsuit by Universal Music Group against MySpace for failing to police MySpace users against posting copyrighted material (music in this case) which they don’t own. Look to see MySpace beefing up its policies in order to protect itself. Clearly YouTube and MySpace don’t believe they are in a position to take no responsibility for the copyright issues. And since they are the big target, it means that they will work harder to protect themselves against those who misuse copyrighted material. And that’s good news for those in “blogwars.”