SMXQ: Bernard Goldbach

Bernard Goldbach is a lecturer in Media at LIT – Clonmel. (Previously the south campus of the Tipperary Institute.) He is a noted early adopter in the Irish tech and social media scene. He was one of Ireland’s first ten bloggers and also one of the very first users of Twitter in the country. He can be found on Twitter: @topgold

1. Could you tell us about your background (where you’re from, what you’ve done)?

I grew up American in Pennsylvania Dutch country, living next to the Amish but learning the value of “work comes first” from a German-Irish-Russian family. The family motivated me to become the first person in three generations to go outside of the State for a college education and that decision pushed me into qualifying as a multi-engine instructor pilot. Over a 10-year period, I racked up more than 3500 flying hours and I only got shot at once. In the mid-90s, I flew into Ireland where I parked my plane and started flying a laptop.

2. What was your route into social media?

I entered a very traditional social network involving “ring knockers” inside the Washington DC beltway in the mid-80s. This circle of insiders uses a classified and encrypted form of social networking that predates Facebook. Working with that insider social network took the wind out of me. I waded into the waters of electronic social media
on the heels of a stinging personal episode involving the compromise of extremely sensitive personal data in the early 90s. Today, as a social media lecturer, I feel empowered to teach others how to avoid the pain I have felt when sensitive information creeps into the public domain.

I started on Compuserve as an assistant forum administrator of the education forum where I monitored predators in 1993. I grew up on e-mailing lists, including the original webmaster-shoptalk in 1997. I’ve been blocked, banned and served solicitors’ letters for my activity over the years and now live in a semi-reclusive part of Twitter. (Ed. Really?)

3. Tell us a little bit (if you can) about what you’re interested in or working on right now.

Augmented Reality and specifically Layars displayed on Android devices interest me. I also feel a special kinship to Limerick OpenCoffee and the dedication shown by early advocates, James Corbett and John Kennedy. I’ve always been mesmerised by pinpoints on maps and will continue working with geodetic services in every third level module that I teach at Limerick Institute of Technology.

4. What social media services do you use regularly and why?

I try to have all the social media services come to me so I’ve set up a series of special words, phrases and user activity levels to vibrate my phone when something happens. Those e-mail and lightweight text alerts listen to Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, LinkedIn, Foursquare, Last.fm, Typepad, YouTube, Qik, Delicious, Boards.ie, Get Glue and the O2-Ireland forum. I gave up following public timelines and work with lists of people and clouds of words instead. I try to have my alerts point me to what I should be seeing so I can share the important stuff with others.

5. If you could only keep one service or tool, what would it be, and why have you chosen it?

I live with just one service – Ovi Maps – even when without a mobile data connection. Ovi Maps are social tools. You can find things on those electronic maps and make your way around foreign destinations without the worry of extortionate data charges. I’ve used my Nokia handsets to add comments to maps, to connect with people while on the road and to spend my time wisely at well-defined free and open wifi points. Once I learned how to cache my map data, I had a significant part of the Lazy Web in my pocket.

6. Including your own area of expertise, what developments in social media do you think are particularly important?

I believe we are starting to unravel the metadata and core processes that give greater meaning to the context of our online interactions. I hope the research continues and that I can enhance my online life through better contextual awareness.

7. What can you do now that you couldn’t do before the arrival of social media?

Through portable systems like Online Meeting Rooms, I can see and meet people I have never physically encountered. I can carry on a live and totally synchronous video conversation with several other people without connected to either power or data cables while walking the Golden Vale of Tipperary.

This capability still amazes me and more so because it has enabled me to rejoin conversations I left 30 years ago with other pilots. And when I turn off the video camera, I can toggle into spaces like Facebook and the Zoomr network where I can see photos and read snippets from people I last saw in the 70s.

8. What issues, either technical or social, do you see with social media?

Location-based services infringe upon privacy and that has to be controlled. I think there needs to be an “eject” lever that people can use in every social network they join. Executing the eject sequence should vaporise all remnants of one’s existence in the chosen online space. Also, I believe newcomers should be shown examples of the snarky behaviour that exists in many online communities. Some of the rudest, loudest, and most obnoxious people also serve as key gatekeepers in social networks where their personal agendas erode the quality of online engagement for others.

9. What one piece of advice would you give to someone entering the social media world?

Real-time search, an ability to search at the speed of thought, is emerging faster than we can imagine. And when that real-time search becomes a native skill of the online community, meaningful online collaboration should improve markedly.

10. How do you see social media helping and improving things for us in the future

Learn to listen first, then to converse regularly. Like a real-world community, a social network improves with interdependent contributions.

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SMXQ: Michael Fitzgerald

Michael Fitzgerald was one of the organizers of the very successful BizCamp Galway which took place earlier this week. He has a background in industrial engineering and now runs OnePageCRM a cloud-based system for small business.

1. Could you tell us about your background (where you’re from, what you’ve done)?

Originally from the Comeragh Mountains in Waterford (home to the largest glacier lake in Ireland), I qualified in Microprocessor Electronics and worked as a Sport Science Technologist before heading back to University in NUI Galway.

My career then turned towards product design and marketing for multinational companies, before I found my feet firmly on the internet. Quite varied you may say, but I’ve loved the journey.

2. What was your route into social media?

I had already been using LinkedIn and Facebook, but the first social media tool that I ‘really’ took to, was Twitter. They say there are two types of people when it comes to Twitter, those who get it, and those who don’t – well I started off not getting it until I read an article “ignore Twitter at your own peril” – so I gave it another go and it took off from there.

3. Tell us a little bit (if you can) about what you’re interested in or working on right now.

We’ve been building web applications and eCommerece systems for clients, but our future is geared towards “building great web apps for small business.”

We’ve created a novel and very effective Sales Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tool called OnePageCRM.com.

It takes the essential parts of a CRM application, compresses them to a single-page application that’s strongly influenced by Getting Things Done (GTD,) a personal time management system, to give you one of the most ‘effective’ sales tools on the internet.

OnePageCRM is web-based and we have found that our centralized presence in the cloud as opposed to supplying every client with their own specific download saves a tremendous amount of time and increases efficiency. All software needs to be updated and ours is no exception. With one update at our central server everyone using our software is immediately using the most current version.

4. What social media services do you use regularly and why?

I use Facebook/Facebook pages, LinkedIn and Digg but mostly Twitter, as it has been good to me. When you move into a new business area, you need to get to the “town square” in that sector. In the town square you’ll find your competitors, suppliers, customers, peers, key opinion leaders etc. and even employees, Twitter has helped me get to that point quickly by interacting with the relevant people.

Facebook is good to see what the cousins get up to in the US, but I use Facebook pages for business purposes. I’ve always been a good networker, so LinkedIn was a natural extension to that.

5. If you could only keep one service or tool, what would it be, and why have you chosen it?
It would have to be Twitter. It’s been great for finding the “early adopters” for our Software as a Service (SaaS) web applications. We use a very gentle approach to communicating with people on Twitter for the first time. I never use any service to auto-follow users, only specific and personal interaction. Word of mouth is the most powerful marketing out there, and Twitter gives everyone a voice.

6. Including your own area of expertise, what developments in social media do you think are particularly important?

I think ‘context’ is going to be the most relevant in the future development. We all have a personal side, a work/business side and a special interest / hobby side to our lives. Getting the segregation right is difficult at the moment.

7. What can you do now that you couldn’t do before the arrival of social media?

As stated above, in business, I can learn a huge amount about my area, meet relevant peers, and get opinions on what we’re working on very easily. You hear some people commenting that social media is “anti-social” – for me it has been the opposite. I now physically meet and chat with more people because of Twitter.

In addition, I have better quality conversations with those people because I know more of what was happening in their lives or business prior to physically meeting them.

8. What issues, either technical or social, do you see with social media?>

I think location-based services are good, but I think they could be done better. For instance, the service for me to ask “where are my friends now?” is good – but if it wasn’t always pushed to the stream you could give off your location more often and not cause clutter.

9. What one piece of advice would you give to someone entering the social media world?

Treat your social media interaction like you do in real life. If you wouldn’t shout something out in front of everyone one passing on a street, then don’t say it publically in social media.

10. How do you see social media helping and improving things for us in the future?

The real-time search will be the killer outcome of all this social media content. My favourite example of this is Baker Tweet. Imagine in the future walking through a city you are visiting and turning to your phone to ask “which cafe has the freshest raspberry scones right now?”
I’d love that… ‘cos I love scones ☺

SMXQ: Ina O’Murchu

Ina O’Murchu is an occasional contributor to Technology Voice. She will be speaking at Ignite the West this Friday, September 10th, and at Bizcamp Galway the next day.

Could you tell us about your background (where you’re from, what you’ve done)?

I’m originally from Galway City. I grew up here but spent some time in London and Dublin. I’ve worked in the technology sector for fifteen years, and I have worked in the Social Web space this past seven.

What was your route into social media?

A degree in chemistry started it all off. I was twenty-two and had just bought .net magazine. I had to select a final year project as part of my course that summer. Always interested in new things, I applied to design the chemistry department’s website as my final year project. The more time I spent on the Web during that year, the more I realised the huge impact the Web was going to have on society, and the more and more I got into it. I abandoned my chemistry skills and ended up working in tech. After a number of years working I went back to retrain, and I completed a Master’s degree at the Digital Enterprise Research Institute (DERI) in NUI Galway.

While I was at DERI, I began researching online social networking. This was B4FB (before Facebook) during the days of Orkut – before the Brazilians took it over! This exposure to new emerging online media at DERI led into a foray of research into social media, online communities and Semantic Web technologies.

Tell us a little bit (if you can) about what you’re interested in or working on right now.

I’m working on business strategies for growing community and measuring that growth in community online. Not the fluffy stuff, but scientifically and organically approaching social media to grow community. It is the more sophisticated side of social media. Anyone can use social media and it takes very little effort to be a status monkey, but to actually make a community grow and measuring your reach and where it goes online is the hard bit.

I also run Open Coffee Galway once a month in Galway City. It is an informal meetup to discuss internet and other technology developments along with having interesting speakers from time to time. I also run Twestival Galway to raise money for various charities using Twitter. I am also bringing FashionCamp Ireland to Galway next April in association with the Fashion Fiesta, which is run by the Galway Technical Institute. I am very excited about the project as they are very forward looking and progressive as an institute.

What social media services do you use regularly and why?

The usual suspects of Facebook and Twitter. They are the easiest to connect with my online social networks. Especially on my mobile. I am starting to use LinkedIn more and more there is a wealth of information and talent there.

If you could only keep one service or tool, what would it be, and why have you chosen it?

Facebook. Well it’s where everyone is isn’t it? I find I use Facebook chat and the Facebook e-mail a lot for connecting with people. It’s also highly addictive. It can make for compulsive viewing.

Including your own area of expertise, what developments in social media do you think are particularly important?

I think the area of collaboration in the future is set to be huge – we can expect video to become easier to use and for people to edit.

What can you do now that you couldn’t do before the arrival of social media?

Connect with my family abroad – call and see them overseas with no cost involved. I remember a time when making long distance calls in Ireland was considered a rarity and expensive. It’s the instantaneous connectivity of it I love.

What issues, either technical or social, do you see with social media?

The bad side of it is always there. The bullying and negativity (trolling is a good example of this). I also see a major issue with younger people uploading photos, videos and comments of things that they are doing in their late teens and not realising that it’s permanent once online – the 15 minutes of privacy is the future I guess.

I also see Facebook as a locked-in one view of the world. I hope they implement some technologies which will allow your data to move around the Web. Facebook crashed earlier this week and my first thought was: “Oh no, all my photos”! I guess we will have to wait and see what happens as it does have 500 million people.

What one piece of advice would you give to someone entering the social media world?

Listen to and engage with your community.

How do you see social media helping and improving things for us in the future?

I think we are about to enter a new collaborative age with people from all over the planet being able to swap ideas and build together in a way that has never been seen before. With all of these tools adding to collaboration, we can expect some interesting projects and societal developments taking shape swiftly. People thinking locally can now work globally with the new age of social media.

SMXQ: Ted Vickey

Ted Vickey hails from Erie, Pennsylvania and now resides in Galway, Ireland. He started his first company when he was 24 years old and his first client was The White House: official residence of the President of the United States of America. He is now working on a PhD in social networking and exercise adherence at the National University of Ireland, Galway. He will be speaking at BlogTalk 2010 on how to make best use of your profile and connections on Linkedin.

1. Could you tell us about your background (where you’re from, what you’ve done)?

I am an American entrepreneur living in Galway, Ireland. I studied Exercise and Sports Science at Penn State. I then had a 17-year stint living in the Washington, DC area.

Two years ago, I decided to live my bucket list. One item on that list was to live in Ireland and another was to get a Master’s degree. I finished my Master’s in International Business from the University of Limerick earlier this year, with my thesis on how the Irish entrepreneur uses social networking to create, manage and grow their business.

2. What was your route into social media?

I’ve always been known as the guy that knows everyone that gets things done. It was one of the things I learned at the White House. You can’t do it alone, you need help along the way. As an entrepreneur, I learned early that it isn’t always what you know, but rather who you know. Social media is a key resource for me in many aspects of my life – from my education to playing golf around the world. From growing my businesses to researching my Irish/German/Polish/Italian family history.

3. Tell us a little bit (if you can) about what you’re interested in or working on right now.

I am very excited about my PhD looking at how we can use social networking and social media to increase exercise adherence. We’ve all heard the same message for years, but inactivity continues to be a challenge for many and the global obesity rate is expanding. This current generation has grown up in a digital world, thus we need a digital solution to live longer and healthier lifestyles.

4. What social media services do you use regularly and why?

I am an evangelist for Linkedin, a big fan of <a href="Twitter, a frequent mayor on FourSquare, and an active user of YouTube and different blogs.

I have a plan for my LinkedIn network: if you want to achieve your goals, your network can’t be accidental. You need to be conscious and purposeful about whom you’re devoting your time to and why. LinkedIn will help you build stronger, more genuine relationships by providing you with information about the people that matter most. When someone makes a connection with me, I often ask how I can best help them.

For my personal use, I use Facebook to stay in contact with friends and family from all over the world. The jury is still out for me on Facebook and business uses. While there is a huge pool of potential customers, I haven’t yet seen a stable business model with Facebook.

5. If you could only keep one service or tool, what would it be, and why have you chosen it?

Hands down, no questions asked: Linkedin. If you can learn the effective ways to use LinkedIn as a business tool, you can find your dream job, grow your own business, increase your personal brand, and even win a political election. Through my LinkedIn network, I have sold product, hired experts, found golfing partners, researched graduate schools, hired employees, helped others and made a difference to those around me.

6. Including your own area of expertise, what developments in social media do you think are particularly important?

Social media is all about relationships. The need for building social connections hasn’t changed over the years, but the tools that we use to participate, share, create and network have.

7. What can you do now that you couldn’t do before the arrival of social media?

Social media is a digital bridge that can allows real-time interaction between friends from down the street to halfway around the world. It is a mutual desire to build a connection where ten years ago a connection could not have existed. Physical distance is no longer a challenge for personal and business growth. A small one-person company on the west coast of Ireland can now compete on a level playing field with a large company in downtown New York city.

8. What issues, either technical or social, do you see with social media?

The biggest issue I see with social media is that people take the “social” out of the equation. Would you rather have a core group of followers who care about you and your product and tell their friends about you, or a large number of followers who know nothing about you with no reason to follow you?

9. What one piece of advice would you give to someone entering the social media world?

Social media isn’t hard, you just need a good plan. Take time to create a plan.

10. How do you see social media helping and improving things for us in the future?

Social media IS the future. With so much noise online, you need to be innovative to stand out.

Ted can be found on Twitter as @tedvickey and on Linkedin here.

SMXQ: Darragh Doyle

Darragh Doyle is the communications manager of boards.ie. He is a self-confessed internet enthusiast with extensive experience in online community building. He has a blog called This Is What I Do and you can find him on Twitter at @darraghdoyle.

I have given Darragh the briefest of introductions because as you can see he has an awful lot to say for himself.

1. Could you tell us about your background (where you’re from, what you’ve done)?

I’m from a Kilkenny village called Graiguenamanagh which, in many ways more than I sometimes care to admit, has defined who I am and how I react to things. I’ve lived in a variety of places and haven’t lost my fascination with people and how they interact with each other or the world around them.

I’ve had a varied career path – stepping in and out of business, charities, retail and even acting.  I’ve always followed a “talking to people” route in my professional life and this has transferred online quite easily. Where I now work with boards.ie, I am able to blog, tweet, Yelp, Facebook, Foursquare, and more. Basically I use the Internet to tell people about things I think they’d like to know.

2. What was your route into social media?

I’ve got an extensive background working online – starting in 1999 shortly after I left the seminary I was studying at. I started in a customer service role with the launch of the Irish Independent‘s online initiative Unison and moved into the marketing/communications/PR side from there. I’ve been employed in Ireland, Spain, London and Manchester by a variety of companies who are looking for new and better ways to communicate with their customers and make them come back. I’ve been lucky enough too to work with some of the best known brands and PR companies in the country on a variety of their campaigns, and with charities, events and festivals who are looking to attract new audiences.

3. Tell us a little bit (if you can) about what you’re interested in or working on right now.

Right now, both as Communications Manager for boards.ie and in blogging/tweeting, I’m involved in and genuinely fascinated by three different things:

  • a. Customer service – this has always been a love of mine and I’m keen to help develop it as comprehensively as possible. I have work on a boards.ie initiative called “Talk To Forums” where we allow companies to talk to our members and in turn facilitate communication from our members to companies. This negates the need for complicated phone or contact systems. All you have to do is post and get an answer to your query.

    I’m working with some of the biggest companies in Ireland helping develop their social media strategy in this regard and I’m glad to say making friends along the way. The other benefit, because I’m quite vocal in my requirement for high standards in this area, is that I get fantastic customer service when I need it – because they know I would point out when I didn’t and what they should do to improve it – not just for me, but for everyone. It’s one of my passions – my ultimate goal is to own a small café one day, just to see how I’d do…

  • b. Metrics – There’s a lovely fluffy side to social media, where we talk about influencers and social media experts, gurus, ninjas, and the like. We have blogger campaigns, PR invitations and the like but how does that translate into cold, hard provable statistics? For example, I know that 2.2 million people visited the boards.ie website in March of 2010, but where did they go, what did they do, and what are they interested in?

    When PR companies talk to bloggers and companies and get them to feature a product or service, what benefit is the client actually getting? Are awareness and sales actually going up or is it only in a relatively small community? Services like our recently launched BoardsDeals.ie show exactly how many people have paid for an offer – that is a real benefit to the consumer as well as to the business. I would like to explode all of our statistics in an equally open way. I don’t understand the hesitance of many new media outlets to engage on this level – suggests a lot of smoke and mirrors to me. There’s a need for transparency right across the spectrum.

  • c. Social media for broadcast – slightly related to my metrics point, but I love seeing how people can get their message across – whatever that message may be – creatively online. Should someone factor in all of boards.ie, blogs, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Tumblr, Foursquare, Flickr, Pix.ie, Vimeo, iPhone and Android Apps and more into their social media strategy? Are we seeing the end of expansive expensive websites? How important is mobile? So you need a massive budget to be able to do all of this or is it just about playing smarter and thinking more? My hope is that it’s a lot more of the latter than the former. It’s something I’m working on with a variety of people.

4. What social media services do you use regularly and why?

I’m most active on boards.ie (funnily enough), Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Yelp.ie, Foursquare and Tumblr, but I also have active Pix.ie, YouTube, Vimeo and Picasa accounts. Why? Well it goes back to getting my message out there and communicating with people in whatever way I can.

5. If you could only keep one service or tool, what would it be, and why have you chosen it?

Twitter, definitely. It’s a brilliant outreach service – I compare it to Grafton Street in Dublin – as much as there are retailers, entertainers and distractions there on the street, there’s also people you haven’t seen in ages, people you remember you need to talk to and people you’d like to get to know. It’s also wonderful to see the positive impact a message of 140 characters can have on someone’s day – one of my main motivations in telling as many bad jokes as I do!

6. Including your own area of expertise, what developments in social media do you think are particularly important?

Customer service and reviews – the voice that people now have to show bad service and that companies are now accountable to the people who give them money. Nothing new here of course but there’s a lot of great stuff happening. I also think we’re both seeing and needing to see more improvements in the legal framework surrounding defamation vs. free speech.

7. What can you do now that you couldn’t do before the arrival of social media?

Talk to people I don’t know or have people who don’t know me talk to me.

8. What issues, either technical or social, do you see with social media?

Legal problems regarding what people think they can say online, a sense of entitlement or self importance from those who see themselves as influential over things that are really, basically, none of their business though they feel the need to involve themselves. The ever increasing need for faster service. It’s a tough one that goes back to who people are and how they use the Internet.

9.  What one piece of advice would you give to someone entering the social media world?

Don’t do what I did – take it seriously enough to try change who I was because of what people said about what I was doing. It’s only the Internet. Do what you think is right, take constructive advice seriously and appreciate it, and read a lot. A LOT. Oh, and obviously, enjoy it…

10. How do you see social media helping and improving things for us in the future?

I think we will be more educated – both about the news and what is happening abroad, about our rights and responsibilities and how we communicate with each other. That’s my hope anyways – and something I’m working towards. There’s a lot of people out there doing the same.

SMXQ: Mark Cahill

Over the last 13 years, Mark has worked with major corporations such as Dell, Airtricity, Trinity Biotech and Johnson & Johnson. Mark is one of the founding organisers and speakers at Bizcamp Limerick. He is also a member of Engineers Ireland (IEI), the Irish Internet Association (IIA) and the MBA Association of Ireland (MBAAI). Mark is also a guest lecturer in the University of Limerick, Ireland, in entrepreneurship and marketing, with a focus on social networks and social media. Mark is also a co-founder of Social Bits, an Ireland-based consultancy firm specialising in the application of social media and Semantic Web technologies. You can follow him on Twitter at @markcahill.

1. Could you tell us about your background (where you’re from, what you’ve done)?

My background is in engineering and information technology. I have a BEng in Computer Engineering, and I have always had an interest in anything computer related. I worked with Dell for over 11 years before leaving to work for myself. Before leaving Dell, I commenced my Masters degree in Business Administration (MBA) which I completed in 2008.

2. What was your route into social media?

As part of my MBA, my thesis was titled “To what extent have online social networks changed business to consumer marketing”, so it looked at how the marketing landscape has been disrupted by online social networks. I had already started to use Twitter in January 2008 and I was fascinated with how you could communicate with so many “like-minded” people. 

3. Tell us a little bit (if you can) about what you’re interested in or working on right now.

Late last year we started Social Bits, which is going from strength to strength, and I also lecture to university undergraduate and postgraduate marketing students, as well as MBA students in the field of marketing via online social networks.

4. What social media services do you use regularly and why?

Twitter is probably my top one. The reason I use it is to stay informed. The real-time nature of Twitter is incredible, when something happens you usually hear about it on Twitter first. If there is an event worth going to you hear about it on Twitter. If there is an event you can’t make it to you can usually “listen” to the live tweets to get an idea of what is important.

5. If you could only keep one service or tool, what would it be, and why have you chosen it?

Twitter again, but this is cheating, because Twitter is linked to so many other services such as Plancast. It is hard to separate Twitter (or most other social media tools for that matter) as they are all interrelated to some extent.

6. Including your own area of expertise, what developments in social media do you think are particularly important?

I think the development of location-based social networks are very important. Location-based social networks enable brick and mortar businesses to build customer loyalty in a new and exciting way. It is also a good way for someone who is a stranger to a town or city to locate what they need to find, whether it is just a coffee or some type of service. I can also see the relevance of layering the Semantic Web on top of, or integrating it with online social networks, as context gives more accurate information: this is good news for marketers and good news for customers.

7. What can you do now that you couldn’t do before the arrival of social media?

Talk to lots of like-minded people.
 
8. What issues, either technical or social, do you see with social media?

Privacy it the big one. Because you are not paying for the use of social media platforms, such as Facebook and Twitter to name a few, you don’t have real control over what is put out there. The best rule is, if you don’t want anyone to know, then don’t put it out there.

9. What one piece of advice would you give to someone entering the social media world?

Learn about the social media tools, and start to listen, observe and lurk, once you feel comfortable with the conversations, then jump in and participate. Like learning a new language, the best way is to immerse yourself in the language and the culture, therefore you need to immerse yourself in the language and culture of “social media”.

10. How do you see social media helping and improving things for us in the future?

  • More transparency.
  • More accurate advertising.
  • Better internal communication within businesses, and better communication between businesses and their customers.
  • Better communication between people.