Tagged: Communication

Confumbled – Social Media breaking down language borders

So I’m Dutch and I’m in no way a native English speaker. I do ok, blog in English, get myself understood and can even be relatively ‘witty’ in my Social Media responses. It has allowed me to interact and connect to numerous people around the world and it has even given me some new friends. Ok, yes, I know. How can you call them friends without ever meeting them?!? But with some of them they really do feel like friends.

And in about 48 hours I’m flying out to Lotusphere to actually meet them….

I can’t wait! I look forward to really meeting these people but at the same time I’m a bit apprehensive too. Truth is that connecting over the internet really isn’t the same as connecting in real life. Apart from the obvious facts that Social Media allows you to filter out the less attractive and boring elements of your personality it also helps eliminate language borders.

Again, as a non-native English speaker I think I do pretty well, but I do mess up…. regularly…. This has lead to several funny (and embarrassing) instances and confusions where I tried to express something which actually came out as something totally different.

My Dutch colleagues would now argue I don’t just do that in English, bytheway…

Saving factor here though is that as Social Media is mostly a ‘written’ form of communication it has something of a grace period. Allowing you to at least think for two seconds and read back that post, tweet or chat message (as well as having a spelling control) before clicking the ‘send’ button. Believe me, I’ve become a regular speed-Googler over the last few months and have Urban Dictionary bookmarked as a favorite.  Problem is though, these don’t yet come as build in options for my mind and so I will have to do without my regular safety nets next week…

….So that’s why, even with all my enthusiasm about going to Lotusphere I’m also still feeling a bit apprehensive about talking to all of you with whom I’ve been chatting, Tweeting and Facebooking. Not knowing, whether I will be able to actually have the same kind of spontaneous interaction without having Google & spell checker at my fingertips is daunting….It almost feels like sitting my high school exams again.

Luckily for me I’m also pretty sure most of you guys will forgive me for my little language-mishaps. And if I do ‘confumble’ my English big time and mess up I can only hope you guys will look through it and have a laugh with me about it. It’s all in good spirit!

Social translate… Google Giveth and Taketh

For the last year and a half or so I’ve been an avid user of Yoono. A browser plugin that allows me to review and update my Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Foursquare activity streams from within a side bar in my Firefox. I love it. It’s easy, simple and because it’s integrated in the browser it always keeps my Social streams in my perephial view. Right where I like it to be.

Now one of the things that I discovered recently is that it has a function to translate tweets right there and then in the sidebar itself. Simply right click the tweet and select “Translate (via google)”. The translated text is shown right there and then in your stream.

Ok, yes. Google translations aren’t exactly accurate all the time but in general they do the trick. And it means I could follow people I would otherwise not, simply because I can’t understand a thing they are saying.

Like Mitsuru Katoh (Katoman), a Fellow self-proclaimed Domino Geek and IBM Champion from Japan. My Japanese is next to zero so this translate function really helped me and made it possible for me to socially connect to someone I would otherwise probably not even know about.

Unfortunately this morning the translate function didn’t work and a tweet to @YoonoSupport helped clarify:  

@Yoono The translate (Google) function doesn’t seem to work this morning. Anything going on?

 Bummer! 

Ok, I can understand Google wanting to make a buck out of this (although I’d wonder who’d want to pay for the crappy translations they give) but maybe Google had an alternative reason as well. I can (somewhat) understand them trying to promote their own networks so maybe this is a function they wanted to keep free exclusively for their own platforms….. aka Google+! I know Mitsuru is on G+ so lets check it out…..
Well, you guessed it. No function there to translate from within the stream itself.

Yes I know about the other Google translate options for translating whole sites but that is not really an option to me. As a Dutch national I read & write in English, Dutch, German and (a little) French and I follow people in all of those languages. Now I don’t need (or want!) those translated as that sometimes means you lose part of the underlying sentiments and jokes. I want to be able to control which tweets I want translated and which I want to read in their original language. And I want to do it from within my active streams itself, not by having to step out to a different site. That takes out the whole social context in which I’m operating.

 So for now it seems I will have to unfollow Mitsuru… Not because he’s not nice or interesting but simply because I can’t understand his tweets (Sorry Mitsuru, I’ll buy you a drink at Lotusphere).

Oh and for those (like me) wondering what that second tweet form Mitsuru said? I ran it through the ordinary translator and it came up as “That I was better with an umbrella. Worry.“. 

I guess it was raining in Japan :-) 

Get in touch!

You would think that getting in touch with people has become a whole lot easier since we’ve all become so ‘social’. Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Connections, IM, chats, etc. You could even say that in some cases it’s hard NOT to. But still I find that really getting ‘in touch’  sometimes is a challenge. Take a recent situation I encountered.

I wanted to ask a distant social business contact something that required some delicacy and a personal touch. I didn’t know the person ‘in person’ (there’s an ocean between us) but I ‘knew’ her on Twitter, Facebook, through Connections, Sametime and even through a persistent Skype chat group. More then enough venues I guess to contact her. But this was harder than I thought.

First I considered the Connections link I had to her. The question was related to that anyway so this seemed logical. The problem though was that she hadn’t listed her contact details and I wasn’t about to put my question on her public message stream.
Next was twitter but that is mostly public and even when I had used a DM I couldn’t really get my question into a 140 character text anyway. So that one was out of the question too.
Facebook wasn’t ideal either. On reviewing her Facebook stream I figured she used it strictly for non- business related stuff and as it was a business related question I didn’t want to use that route (DM or Chat) for a business related question. Even social business has its etiquette…..

So I looked on. She didn’t have a blog (I knew about or could find) and on LinkedIn I found several people matching here name, most without pictures, so no luck there either.
My last chance seemed to be the Sametime and Skype chat. Not ideal but it would at least allow me to ask her for her mail address.  The problem was though that she wasn’t online much and by the time she was, I wasn’t (that darn ocean again!).

This was frustrating! Here I am, connected to this person on at least 3
social networks and 2 IM systems and still I had trouble getting in
touch with her! Having this persons email address would
have saved me a lot of trouble. In stead I had all these social links
but no decent way of getting in touch.

So in the end I solved it the old fashioned way. I called her company switchboard and asked for her.

Ironic isn’t it? That even with all these digital channels and links to her I
finally had to resort to the old fashioned phone call to really get in
touch.
..

VMWare’s Mother’s day offer

Did you get it? No? Well than you missed something.

Two weeks ago I received two messages in the mail from VMWare with a Mother’s day offer:

The first one addressed me, telling me how VMWare would save me time that I could than spent on finding my mum the perfect gift (yeah right) but the most interesting one I think is the second one, the one that actually indirectly targets the mums themselves through you as the recipient. Telling you how it would help your mum run her PC apps on a Mac.

Now why do I find that interesting? Well, lets face it. For most people in the VMWare target audience, ‘mum’ is really not that savvy with pc’s. My mum (bless her), struggles to send an email and doesn’t even know the difference between a Windows pc and a Mac. I can’t blame her, she is of a generation that didn’t grow up with pc’s and only learned using one as a bare necessity when my brother temporarily moved to the Caribbeans.

Yes, there is a whole new generation of mum’s rising as we speak that did grow up with computers and might be interested in the VMWare tools but somehow I doubt that many of their kids actually were on that mailing list VMWare used to send out the offer. Most of them are simply to young. So was this a shot in the dark?

Well that is why I find it intriguing. Over the last two weeks several people told me about this offer and how funny they found it (for the above mentioned reasons). Which is precisely why I think it was a really clever piece of marketing.
I mean, how often would you actually talk to your friends of colleagues about such a message? In general most people would regard it as spam and delete it right away. But this one was so outrageous that I actually took time to read it. Clearly I was not alone.
On the other hand it is not that outrageous at all as even the older generations are catching up quickly and generally aren’t that dimwitted as we might think they are when it comes to pc’s. So eventhough it might not seem the most obvious target group it certainly is gaining corporate interest fast. Whatever the reason; it worked! They got my attention and (as an avid reader of my blog) undoubtedly also my mums attention.

I still don’t think she has a clue what VMWare is though….

Valentine

I received a message last weekend with the subject “Er is iemand die van je houdt” (‘There is someone that loves you’). Of course I was curious, it was valentines day so who wouldn’t!

Unfortunatly for me, it wasn’t what I was hoping for:

A marketing ploy, yes…., but in this case, a nice one. A group of 25 Dutch Business Partners has come together to start their own marketing campaign for creating a positive vibe around Lotus products. “Is that really necessary?” Well frankly, yes. Marketing unfortunatly isn’t one of IBM focus points here in the Netherlands so it could do with some extra support.

Thus came they idea of doing a campaign, supported by IBM but led by the Bussiness Partner community. I love it! Not only because of the very strong theme “Lotus Loves People”

but mostly as it shows how the Lotus community here in The Netherlands is really committed to the Lotus brand and that by working together they can really accomplish something.

So ok, it wasn’t the Valentine I hoped for but still I found it a really nice gesture to get. Let’s hope it does the same for all those executives and decision makers out there that are thinking of buying Lotus products!