Friday, July 22, 2011

Why Press the Like Button?

Why press the like button? What is it that makes the like button such a popular and useful web phenomenon? Think about it... Last time you clicked the like button, what was your motivation for doing so - really?!

To be heard, noticed and appreciated is a deep human need. Does the like button fulfill that need? Maybe it does, both ways?

For sure, the like button is good for something! Consider the following suggestions.

When readers and viewers click the like button it is a way for us to get instant feedback about who's been reading what we shared and to know what they thought about it. In more than one way, the like button is a wonderfully simple way to pay someone a valuable compliment. And why is it a valuable compliment? Well, for one, you're saying you like what they are most occupied with right now. With the click of a button you communicate that, in one way or another, you share the same view and that you have something in common. (Note! Retweeting twitter updates has something of the same effect.)

Find Your Voice & Inspire the Voice of Others
Stephen Covey in his book The 8th Habit explores what he claims is our quest to "find our voice and inspire others to find theirs". Clicking the like button might be the "embodiment" of habit 8 in that we by clicking a button encourage others to continue sharing and indirectly tell all other readers what we like. A trace of hundreds of likes will surely tell the world quite a bit about who you are as a person. Over time, the sum of all the like buttons you press, become part of the fabric of your personal online brand.

The Original Idea Behind the Like Button
Of course, one of the virtual web 2.0 principles behind the like button is "user generated content stage two". The interactive web has allowed anyone to share anything anywhere. Once this grew to a reality it is only natural that the next step is "user liked" rating and visibility. The more likes the higher the visibility, based on the assumption that liked content is better more relevant (and possibly more important) content.

Another brilliant concept that empowers the like button is by how we like and share across different websites. In this way web traffic on one site can literally have a ripple effect to a related facebook group and visualize who among your friends and contacts like the same website.

Like Button Sharing
A wonderful way to follow "the likes" of your friends could for instance be by visiting likebutton.com. This type of functionality shows how likes are reflected almost as if you are the originator of "the liked content" itself.

For this and other reason some people press the like button often for selfish reasons, simply by how it makes them more visible online. That's why some networkers not only post and share relevant content with their connections, but also follow what their friends are sharing, letting them know what they think by "liking them" or anything else someone else has shared. Also, instead of participating by having to comment with well thought out sentences, clicking the like button is a quick way to do just that.

I Like You
However, in my view, the most wonderful thing that inspired me to author this quick article is the double meaning of the like button. I believe the real driver among friends, is the combined message of "I like what you shared", and the possibly far more important signaling than that:

We're really saying: "I like YOU"
"I read your updates and have an interest in your life and what you say" - a small but meaningful way to express on a daily basis; "I like and appreciate you as a person. Thank you for sharing".

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The iPad - Toy or Tool?

Is there anything the iPad (tablet) can do that either the Macbook (laptop) or iPhone (smartphone) cannot? The answer is probably "no"! So what is it that makes the iPad so great if both the laptop and cell phone already can do the job?

There are quite a few things the iPad does much better than my Macbook or iPhone. In my view, if you give it a chance a tablet like e.g. the iPad quickly becomes indispensable. Instead of listing a bunch of brilliant iPad applications, which so many have done before me, let me share two main areas that stand out:

Vidar Top playing the piano with the iPad displaying sheet music.

Reading and Viewing
Whatever we used to do in front of the screen, most of it is so much better with the iPad.
  • Reading the news almost feels like holding a virtual newspaper, sharing via twitter or commenting articles as you go. Yesterday CNN launched live viewing via their iPad application.
  • Reading books becomes much more interactive, e.g. looking up footnotes in a split second, marking text as well as adding notes that immediately are indexed for searching and future reference.
  • Any PDF document is easily converted to book handling format.
  • Viewing photos (or movies) becomes natural in every casual setting. (The phone is simply too small to really enjoy multimedia, the laptop too clumsy or formal.)
  • ...and browsing the web in general feels so much more interactive and right.

Replacing Paper
Maybe, for the first time in the digital knowledge worker age, getting rid of paper --completely-- is for real. I can print documents from my iPad, but why should I..?!
  • Brain mapping is intuitive and easy. It's one of many creative "paper based activities" I thought would never change.
  • Drawing is just like the real thing, only quicker and more advanced with every needed tool, quite literally, at your fingertips.
  • All notes are synchronized in the cloud with any other device.
  • Clutter generating activities like sticky notes and task lists are gone from my desk and pockets completely.
  • ...in short, almost every application that ever used to require printing no longer demands it from a user perspective.

Tool Enhancer
Consequently, I find that the iPad appears to be superior in every respect as a tool in support of teaching, presenting, taking notes and almost everything else. If you're unwilling to give any type of tablet a fair chance you're missing out on a great tool that lifts all existing tools.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Hot, Cold or Lukewarm?

Literature on personality types is extensive and has long traditions. Any generalization has a large number of flaws, but nonetheless, personality characterizations can sometimes be useful to highlight certain traits to learn more about ourselves.

Some years ago I made a more or less formal statement about myself that might have been included in my mission statement:
I'd rather be an open enthusiast labeled by others as an idiot occasionally swimming in deep water than a closed pessimist considered by peers as politically correct and always remain anchored in a safe harbor.

To me, these few words summarizes the needed awareness of "risk taking" as part of personal and interdependent growth. It can make you wonder at times: How can we enthusiastically embrace other people? How can we work with other people in such a way that we communicate trust in them, but at the same time reduce risk and the number of mistakes we make together?


To Be Hot - Not Cold
During the past twenty years I've encountered three types of people; individuals we might categorize as hot, cold or lukewarm.

Now, nobody likes to be "explained as a predictive model" or "branded" (in the real meaning of the word). However, as long as we keep our eyes fixed on what we ourselves can change and improve, it is my experience that books such as "The Color Code", "Personality Plus", "Men Are From Mars Women Are From Venus" and many other similar books do provide insights to specify what can be improved. A small part of wisdom must be to witness the mistakes of others and try to correct them in ourselves.
We can influence others, but we can only change ourselves. However, when we change ourselves, our influence on others increases. (The 3 Energies Behind Sales Success)

In my desire to make a difference I find that it's impossible to be skeptical in the outset and THEN make wonderful discoveries and contributions filled with opportunity afterwards. Believing in others and their thoughts and ideas is an essential beginning. It's taking risk that people have value.

Without being willing to risk making mistakes by believing in others, there is no mutual growth. (Preferably we make mistakes in "the small and private" and succeed in "the big and public", if we can.) Willed innovation together with other people has to start with enthusiasm - an almost naive belief in something beyond what seems to be currently possible.

Sure, we need all types of people, but I confess: I so much more enjoy working with optimistic people that dare to believe in something, fully aware of initiative as the deciding factor of greatness. Are you self aware? Have you chosen to be positive and optimistic in the outset?