Rob Cottingham's blog

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Selectively filtering comments? You may not get away with it for long.

You've just pruned the comments in your company's blog for comment spam, libel, hate speech, pornography and other abuse. But just as you're about to close the laptop, you spot one last comment.

It isn't abusive - but it's sharply critical of your organization, and touches a nerve. How easy it would be to just reeeeeeach over and click the "delete" link...

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I'm on a panel. (No joke.)

Rob at the Massive Technology Conference 2008

I'm hunkering down for a massive April Fools Day.

OK, make that a Massive April Fools Day.

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When you empower your users, online traffic jams don't stand a chance

Nurture online community success through your community members

My last post talked about how open systems teach us that we can, in fact, self-organize and find solutions, in a world that so often seems to be telling us to be passive and compliant.

In my case, the solution cleared a traffic jam... with more than half the cars already on their merry way by the time the police arrived.

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JotSpot is now Google Sites... and the lines blur

User-friendly online tools make managing information easy - inside and outside your team

Wondering what happened to Google's acquisition of hosted-wiki-on-steroids-provider JotSpot? You're looking at it.

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Toonblogging Northern Voice, day 2: Advertising

This morning's first session, led by AdHack's James Sherrett, was a lively discussion of the role that advertising has – or, maybe, doesn't have – in blogging.

James asking how else ads affect blogs; his T-shirt has spam ads on it

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Toonblogging Northern Voice, day 1

Friday at Northern Voice is the unconference day, a self-organizing but surprisingly unchaotic event.

The turnout is impressive, and I miss getting a seat for the first session... which is cool. There are plenty of corridor conversations to be had... so many, in fact, that I miss the second session.

So I'm hell-bent on making the third session, which turns out to be a well-run discussion on multilingual blogs and web sites.

(participant raising hand) By 'multilingual', I thought you mean PHP and Python.

Session leader Jim DeLaHunt walks us through a conversation that, sadly, lasts only half an hour. We've only scratched the surface, but it's enough to make me want to explore further. I'm especially intrigued by the mechanics sites use for determining what language to present to a particular user:

How multilingual web sites work: 1) Server asks browser what language it prefers. 2) Browser says 'French'. 3) Server says 'Sorry, I don't speak French.

The early afternoon is PhotoCamp. Funny thing how it seems Northern Voice has always had a huge photography component. I've never seen so many digital SLRs in one place. It nearly overwhelmed the presenters...

(presenter behind a mountain of photographic and computer equipment) ...And if you could actually see the presentation screen, you'd see a pretty picture.

Miranda Lievers warns us about how strong overhead sunlight can cause a subject's eye sockets to be in dark shadows, and describes the condition evocatively as "raccoon eyes."

(a raccoon speaks) Actually, yer gonna get that effect no matter how I'm lit.

More than one speaker has a Facebook status update notification pop up while they're presenting... including one by a friend whose status line indicates they're watching the presentation.

(presenter in front of screen; notification appears saying 'Your wife has left you')

The last session I hit is Megan Cole's Social Media Mecca - a long-overdue conversation about collaboration and community among social media consultants in the Vancouver area. Good on her for bringing it up; I only wish there'd been another two hours to keep the discussion going.

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Talking about crisis communication at Northern Voice

I'll be speaking about crisis communications and the social web on Saturday at Northern Voice, the kick-ass Vancouver-based blogging conference now in its fourth year:

Imagine a situation where all eyes are on you or your organization, and you need to communicate quickly, clearly and effectively... probably under severe stress, with a lot more noise than signal out there.

It's called crisis communications. And whether it's something as serious and far-reaching as a natural disaster, or as personal as the arrival of a newborn, you'll want to be prepared.

Discover how organizations large and small use social media to keep the lines of communications open when it matters the most. Learn how to use blogs to correct misinformation and get your message out. And find out why you need to build relationships and networks now... before you need to use them.

Moderating the event is the one and only James Sherrett. Come on, come all - I've had a blast speaking at Northern Voice in the past... even when I had to loop in a fellow panelist by holding a cell phone up to the microphone.

We're proud to sponsor NV again this year; the inaugural conference, back in 2005, helped to spur the birth of Social Signal.

If you're interested in Web 2.0, blogging, podcasting, online video, virtual worlds, social networks, photo sharing and the like, you won't want to miss it. And if you're a beginner who wants to get your feet wet, then Friday's Internet boot camp is an absolute must.

See you there! 

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Nine (or ten) ways to stumble in social media

Last week's presentation at the Vancouver High-Tech Communicators' Exchange was a great time: a really engaged audience, provocative and challenging questions, and a razor-sharp co-presenter – mi amigo Kris Krüg. (Catch Dave Olson's amazingly thorough account here.) We took a look at marketing with social media, through the lens of some very successful efforts.

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Join Kris Krug and me for "Social Media: A New Way to Market?" - Jan. 28 in Vancouver

I've never really had a chance to share a stage with the multi- poly- omni-talented Kris Krug... so I'm doubly excited about a talk I'll be giving on Monday night for the High Tech Communicators Exchange:

Facebook, Linkedin, YouTube, MySpace … what does the social media revolution mean to marketers and communicators? How is it redefining how we communicate, connect, network and build relationships with customers, stakeholders and even employees? How are companies using social media to increase visibility and build awareness? What are the risks and pitfalls of using social media? And what’s coming next?

The January 28th High Tech Communicators Exchange will start the discussion on how best to navigate this brave new world as part of our business strategy. Local social media guru Kris Krug, President of Raincity Studios will share insights into how social media is evolving, changing the rules and empowering people. You’ll also hear from Rob Cottingham, President of Social Signal how his company has helped companies like Vancity ( and BC Hydro make the most of digital technologies.

A quick word about the Exchange: it's been a labour of love for Catherine Ducharme since 2001, and now serves more than 380 communicators, PR professionals and marketers in Vancouver's high-tech sector.

Which brings me to a post I've wanted to write for a while.

I've been thinking a lot lately about the immense service provided by the world's convenors – the folks who devote time and energy to bringing people together on common ground. Just in our area, there are people like Catherine, our friends Jason Mogus, Sarah Pullman and Jodie Tonita with Web of Change (plus Phillip Smith by remote control from Toronto)...

...the Northern Voice blogging conference team (Darren Barefoot, Kris Krug, Brian Lamb, Cyprien Lomas, Boris Mann, Dale McGladdery, Lori Pike, James Sherrett, Travis Smith, Julie Szabo, Roland Tanglao and Lauren Wood)...

and Gerald Bauer who pulls together our local Facebook Developers Garage (coincidentally, also happening Monday night – wish I could be in both places!).

There are many more... and just those few individuals, and the

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Accepting on behalf of the social web...

Bix is having a competition to find the most inspiring story of charitable giving. And Beth Kanter has nominated, well, the whole dang social web:

Vote for this entry on!

It's just one example of the power of microdonations... especially when you combine them with a compelling story:

I raised money on my blog to send Leng Sopharath, a Cambodian orphan, to college via the Sharing Fdn. 81 of my blog readers made a donation. We raised her tuition in 24 hours and raised enough to support a 2nd college student. This is the power of the social web to do social good and where a lot of small gifts can make a huge difference.

So, social web, head on over and vote for yourself. (Oh, and for a terrific cause.)

Social Signal on...

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