Social Media – Publishing on the Semantic Web with Small Rivers Paper.li

Day 26: Putting the Social Network to Work –

The job search continues.  Resumés are being fine tuned and sent out. Job search websites like Workopolis and Monster are being queried. Friends and family are being reminded to get the word out. Bushes are being beaten… you get the picture.

Those of you who have joined me here on the Missionlog blog have already heard how I’ve been using my online social network to assist with my job search. I’ve been punching up my Twitter and Facebook profiles and got some good buzz from improving my LinkedIn profile. As a matter of fact, the LinkedIn article  – The Value of a LinkedIn Recommendation – was broadcast (re-tweeted) several times on Twitter and also ended up in four online “Daily” newspapers from paper.li by Small Rivers.

It showed up on Canada Homeless & Poverty News from @CanadaVolunteer and quickly was re-published on more, extending my social media reach beyond what I would normally expect.

Your daily online paper from paper.li can be set up and published in just a couple of minutes, or you can spend some time to customize it if you wish. Basically the service scrapes articles found in links from your timeline in Twitter of people you follow, designated Twitter lists or even keyword and hashtag searches. It then retrieves the information and inserts it in a pre-formatted online publication and shows the Twitter name of the contributor (the person who tweeted the link).  You can name the paper as you wish. Mine is the Helping Hands Daily (be sure to check it out) and is gleaned from a custom list followed by or following @canayjun on Twitter –  Activists, volunteers, journalists and other good folks who just plain “get it” when it comes to issues of homelessness and poverty.

 

There are thousands of these paper.li dailies out there. I’ve just started publishing mine and will continue to work on it to improve it’s relevance and scope. The good folks at Small Rivers are continuing to develop the service to make it more useful to people who want to make their social network work. Hopefully it will help me get the word out to prospective employers who are making a difference in ending homelessness.

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GeoCities closing – the original Mission_log site moves here to WordPress

Sad but true, Geocities is closing –

I created one of my first websites there – called it the Mission_log, it was located at http://ca.geocities.com/mission_log/ (it’s still there until Yahoo! pulls the plug on all the sites later this summer) I’ve been referring web visitors here to the new WordPress Mission Log since September of 2007, but back in the day that little GeoCities site really helped get the news out about the homeless and my work with Project417.

The older logo of mission_log project417

One of the logos of mission_log project417

What was Geocities? How soon they forget.  Geocities grew out of a small internet start-up called BHI – Beverly Hills Internet back in 1994, changed names to the current one in 1995 and quickly grew to one of the busiest sites on the web, by 1999 it was the 3rd most visited website behind AOL and Yahoo!  Before the dotcom bubble burst, Yahoo purchased Geocities for billions, but it never reached its former popularity as Yahoo!Geocities (which was where I joined in) It had grown to popularity by offering ordinary users a free place to host their personal website – and offered a strong array of tools to help design the sites. Yahoo added to those – but as you can see if you visit the old site, the pages always managed to look a little clunky, and to get any kind of custom look I had to try my hand at raw HTML editing, which can be daunting. But it was a learning experience, and I found several open source WYSIWYG applications like NVu to help edit the html.

The first missionlog logo

The first missionlog logo

squeegee

squeegee

My first post there was in 2004 (actually, ported over from an earlier Sympatico home page, which continued to show up in search engine cached results for many years after it was taken down – the internet has ghosts).  It was when I first left my job at Meteor Telecommunications to work for Project417 fulltime helping the homeless in Toronto. I used it as a kind of newsletter (blogs were not so popular back then) to let folks know what was going on in my life, to appeal for donations to Project417, and to tell stories about the homeless people I met out on the streets of Toronto. Often the content matched the hardcopy newsletters I was producing on an old blue bondi  iMac computer (which I still have, disassembled in storage)

Using a work-around here on wordpress that actually is for future scheduling of posts, I can change the date field back to the original dates of the original mission_log articles – so I’ll be importing them and they’ll show up in the archives like Back to the Future…

The first is the Toronto Sun Letter of the Day from 2005.

To be continued…

Toronto Helps – More volunteers help with sandwich runs to the homeless

Numbers of new volunteers increase at Project417 grassroots program for Toronto’s homeless – Thanks to Social Networking , Blogging and Search Engine Optimization:

2009 has been an exciting year here at Project417. We’ve seen a marked increase in the number of local Toronto volunteers willing to come out and help us on our sandwich runs to the homeless

A sandwich run is simply volunteers delivering nutritious bag lunches to homeless street people by walking well traveled routes in the downtown Toronto area where street involved people live. It is a relational outreach – a grassroots community building activity – in addition to delivering a meal to a hungry person, hopefully friendly conversations take place and bridges of trust strengthened.

Volunteers handing out bag lunches

Volunteers handing out bag lunches

Project417’s volunteer ranks have been swelled this year by caring people from all walks of life, from young teens to working adults – bank executives, health care professionals, singles clubs like Meet Market Adventures, whole families and even the cast of Toronto’s smash hit “We Will Rock You”. This past year we have hosted more than two thousand volunteers. Most of these new volunteers found out about us through search engines like Google. If you follow that Google link you’ll see that Project417’s sandwich runs are ranked first and three other results relate to our sandwich runs to the homeless.  Even Microsoft’s brand new offering Bing -which replaces their MSN Live search – ranks the MissionLog right here first and five or six other Project417 results including volunteer videos on Facebook.

I’ve worked hard over the last few years to improve our search results so that Project417 can more easily connect with volunteers, because, in the end, the beneficiaries are Toronto’s homeless and under-housed. We can’t afford professional SEO services or IT  Web 2.0 and 3.0 consulting, so all of this sucess has been home grown sweat equity. By far the biggest success has been WordPress.com – where you’re reading this blog right now – the MissionLog or missionlog.wordpress.com – WordPress is one of the most popular blogging platforms. It’s free and the blogs don’t carry any advertising. It is easy to use and set up your own blog, but has powerful options like tagging, gadgets, video and topical categories that really help  optimize your search engine ranking. There are a host of other online tools I’ve used to promote this blog and the Project417 official website and I’ve listed some of them at the end of this post.

Here at Project417, we’ve been facilitating sandwich runs for almost twenty years – our Director, Joe Elkerton first started going out to visit the homeless in the late eighties with a handful of college friends when reports of deaths among the homeless outside on the streets first surfaced in the news. This was before government sponsored programs like StreetHelp and Streets to Homes. The main focus of the program is not simply delivering food to hungry street people. The key factor is communication through conversations with our friends on the street. We don’t try to be experts or counselors, rather we try to help our volunteers – ordinary people – engage with the homeless. This is true community demonstrated by the caring act of delivering a meal.

Anyone can volunteer with us by invitation by emailing volunteer@project417.com – After taking part in our orientation presented by experienced team leaders the night of the sandwich run we head out on the streets for two or three hours. Find out how truly liberating this volunteer experience can be – to step outside your personal comfort zone and meet our homeless friends on their own grounds.

You can help get the word out online – visit any of the following links and share them in your blog or on facebook, or post them on Digg or Reddit. There’s lots of photos and even video of our volunteer experience.

Project417 Sandwich Run to the Homeless

TOStreets – another blog on Windows Live Spaces

TOstreets on MySpace – the MySpace page

Project417 – The Facebook page – become a fan

Canada News Blog – a more general blog by Canayjun (moi)

Hogtown Prophets – Listening to prophetic voices from the street

And some of these great link sharing sites –

Twine.com – visit Homeless on twine

Technorati – Homeless blog search by Outreach417

Twitter – follow @canayjun on Twitter

Delicious.com – Outreach417’s bookmarks – hundreds!

[I’ll post more here soon]

50 Reasons to Leave Facebook

From a recent Facebook Note –

Facebook Note

In no particular order:
(like, you really need 50 reasons?)
1. You have better things to do, no really.
2. Have you ever actually read the Facebook Terms & Conditions?
3. See number 50
4. It spawns spam – it is spam spawning.
5. Facebook mines your personal data and relationship information to sell to advertisers.
6. You’re already a member of other social networking sites like StumbleUpon, or Myspace, or Spaces, or Digg, or etc etc

19. You spend more time on Facebook than you do actually with your friends in person.

22. Twitter…

For all fifty reasons, especially #49 and 50, click read more or Digg it up.

read more | digg story

The reason an article on leaving Facebook would appear on this site, which is normally devoted to volunteerism, activism and homelessness issues – is that Facebook wants our business.  Recent Facebook developments and upgrades have concerned many Facebook users, and forced them to realize they are not Facebook “customers”, merely data sources to be mined on behalf of real Facebook customers: businesses, organizations and advertisers. Project417 does have a Facebook page – and it has been a frustrating experience, for a charitable, non-profit to navigate and configure exactly what that Facebook “Page” is supposed to accomplish or leverage from the 175 million plus Facebook users.

To really find out, I suppose, would mean spending money, i.e. paying the Facebook gurus to improve our exposure – which rankles because we’d rather spend money helping the homeless. Our Facebook page has 47 fans (out of 198 friends and countless friends of friends and the Facebook Networks it appears in). While this WordPress blog – missionlog.wordpress.com – has had more than 15,000 views since inception – AND WordPress.com has a no banner advertising policy. The Missionlog blog turns up frequently in search engine results from Google and the rest and regularly gets referrals from StumbleUpon, Digg and Reddit to name a few. That is visibility for our cause – it has been a real benefit to the poor and homeless we help, even contributing in a real way to recent relief efforts in Texas following Hurricane Ike. The pre-Christmas volunteer team that was such a big help down there found Project417 on WordPress, right here.

So for Project417’s humanitarian cause, social applications like the WordPress blogosphere, and others like Blogger, iGoogle, Youtube, MySpace, Spaces, Flickr Photos, Picasa Web Photos, Twitter and many others, have only helped and are generally very easy to configure and begin sharing with friends and supporters. Not to say that their focus is not on generating profit, of course they are businesses too, but they have arrived at successful business models by focusing on users first, and letting the resultant traffic drive their growth. Facebook’s business model however, seems to have morphed into the tail wagging the dog – a frantic search for the most money-making interface at the expense of users.

As a user – it was fun on Facebook for a while, connecting with friends, updating the status, writing on walls, tagging photos. But did Facebook make friends for me? Of course not, they all came from my existing (multiple) email address books. The Facebook “friend finder” might have added two or three people to my contact list (by mining friends of friends), but then those connections probably would have been made at any of the other existing social network sites, or by the tried and true email forwarding method. But of course then things changed. The new facebook look and feel. Questions about the terms and conditions and ownership of content – all issues stemming from Facebook’s yearning to evolve from a Harvard University bulletin board and high-school messaging service into a scion of business profitability.

So is Facebook enriching my friendships? Or infringing on time spent valuably with people in person? Will leaving Facebook, lose me friends? Of course not. Will I be out of touch because I’m not logged into facebook? – I think not.

Will the joke be on Facebook when people leave Facebook and delete their profiles? I trust they see the humor – maybe it will spur a change.. You can make it happen. Share this blog on your Facebook profile. Digg it up! Post it on Reddit. Blog it here at WordPress,  forward an email to everyone in your address book –

Click here - it doesn't do anything.

Click here - it doesn't do anything.

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