Key Advice Blog

Aside

Posted on: 20/02/2012

Canada’s Public Safety Minister Vic Toews’ online surveillance Bill C30 has been lifted from parliamentary discussions and shot into the social media sphere with support from Vikileaks, Twitter and blogs. Who’s right or wrong may take some time to answer, but people are wanting answers now about the effects of social media on politics.

Social media research is a relatively new field. Melissa Martin’s column in The Winnipeg Free Press Voting with your tweet? Toews’ Twitter flap may show social media as new grassroots political force highlights some US research into the new media getting up-close-and-personal with politics. Heather LaMarre, a professor at the University of Minnesota, has been researching the ‘off-line’ effects of ‘online’ social media movements. The jury is still out – but research shows they are having an impact.

Martin’s refers to the academic lingo for this movement – ‘intermedia agenda-setting’ – then translates to ‘plain speak’ -meaning politicians listening via traditional media. Going one step farther, in plain language, the voice of the masses on social media are not only being heard, they are being sought out.  The translation, on the surface, is simple and clear. They are sending out strong waves of public sentiment that can not only alter, but bring down, political decisions, officials and parties.

Grassroots movements are growing like weeds on the Web. Attempts to squash them, will be a bit like trying to control dandelions by hand-picking them. For every one eliminated, a new one seems to grow in its place.

CBC’s Community Team discussion ‘Should the controversial surveillance bill be scrapped?‘ is gaining some momentum, driven by the force of public and social media rejection of the bill and concern over its extensive reach into their lives. When the minister supporting a bill that has potential to infringe on its citizens’ privacy, personal communications and online presence isn’t aware of the Bill’s small print, it is time for a stop and think session.

What do you think?

Social media surveillance exposes Bill C30

After the global success of International Plain Language Day 2011, the plans for an even greater event are officially underway for IPLDay 2012 october 13. If you have plain language ideas, expertise or stories to tell, IPLDay 2012 has incorporated  SlideShare and YouTube presentation options. Local events will also be organized.

IPDay has a blog set up to give you all the details in one place. As co-organizer with Cheryl Stephens, we feel sharing our commitment to plain language on new and social media platforms will help spread the work, and keep it on the world’s agenda.

Here is how you can support and share information about IPLDay 2012.

LinkedIn – Plain Language Advocates and IPLDay sub group

Facebook – Page

Twitter – #iplday

Spread the word.

 

As we near the end of the year of revolutions, it is worth noting the quiet one going on in redesigning how we work. Future workplaces look set to model freelancers’ style - using a more open, free-style work practice and environment. It is all about mobility, flexibility and connectivity.

It is well-known amongst freelancers that working from home can be very productive – with the ability to create a personalized workspace, choose the most productive time to work (based on your body clock) and not be caught up in day-to-day office culture that can be time consuming. So what are traditional workplaces borrowing from homeworkers?

Cindy Krischer Goodman’s story for McClatchy Newspapers (MCT), highlights the findings of “Future Work: How Businesses Can Adapt and Thrive in the New World of Work” co-authors Alison Maitland and Peter Thomson. They found companies are looking closely at the workspace and doing away with cubicles, in favour of coffee-shop interior design. They are getting rid of schedules, in favour of a work to the task not the time clock approach. The movement is gathering strength, but not everyone is jumping on board.

 At the Washington Work-Life Focus conference, Goodman reports although there is evidence to support rewarding productivity instead of time, many companies don’t want to move away from traditional practices – yet.

 However, those implementing the changes can look for these new definitions for the old standards:

  1. Time management = choose your own working hours.
  2. The office =  home, coffee shop, anywhere. Telecommuting is in.
  3. Management leadership = move to ‘enabling’ rather than ‘controlling’.
  4. Networking  = meeting will be done virtually and using social media.

New technology – like Skype, videoconferencing, Google chat – is making this easy, efficient and inexpensive to adapt to the new world of work. The change is coming. All organizations have to do is decide whether to lead or follow.

Has your organization tried it? What is it like for you?

Other stories:

The 2020 Workplace

The Workplace of the Future

Kate is now working from a small town in BC with a client in Alberta, visiting the office occasionally. Skype, videoconferencing, intranet sharing are now daily work tools.

 

It looks like technology has joined chocolate and coffee as one of human's top cravings. According to a recent survey tablets 
have surpassed laptops on the consumer 'tech craving' list. But, that's just the tip of the chocolate shavings pile.

If seeing is believing, watch Mashable.com's video explaining research results saying 69% of consumers crave tablets.
And if you thought an apple a day was the way to go, would you believe two? Opinion-based social community SodaHead.com 
polled 1,150 readers about this year's gift wish list. Guess what we are craving? Yes, Apple's iPhone 4S led with 39%; with
31% sinking our teeth into the iPad2. Kindle Fire and Xbox Kinect followed in third and fourth - quite a distance behind.
With Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project study finding 66% of adult Americans use social media, it is
no wonder that tablets, smart phones and readers top the list.

What's topping yours?

International Plain Language Day (IPLD) October 13, 2011 is gaining global support from plain language professionals in Sweden, the UK, Canada, the USA, Australia, New Zealand, Europe, India, and Africa.Events and contests are being planned in various localities.

So far, we know of these plans for IPLD:

In South Africa, a social media meme for the worst example of gobbledygook.

In Calgary Alberta Canada, a petition campaign on City Hall steps to have IPLD declared by the city for 2012.

In Atlanta Georgia, another contest for an example of the worst government writing.

In Ottawa Canada, a celebratory luncheon.

In Washington DC, a workshop for government writers.

“The movement for plain language is really growing. For example, LinkedIn’s Plain Language Advocates Group I host is nearing 800 international members.” said Cheryl Stephens, a leader in the movement and an expert in plain legal language, “From October 13, U.S. government materials written for the public must be in plain language.We’ve chosen this date to celebrate hard-won achievements in many countries who are making materials understandable and usable.”

“Plain Language” is the design of clear information focused on the reader, to fit the reader’s information needs and reading abilities.

“Cheryl Stephens and I started the international plain language network and conferencing in the early 90s using only email and web pages,” said Kate Harrison Whiteside, a social media and plain language consultant. “For IPLD we are using all the social technology available to get world-wide support for this important day.”

The health, legal, government, banking, social, education and business sectors around the world are all making progress in recognizing the need and the demand for plain language, and putting it on their agendas.

“We need to keep raising the demand for plain language from the public,” said Stephens. “Plain language is now recognized world-wide; the next step is to have it integrated into all communication training and delivery. The importance of communicating clearly to our audience is ever greater.”

On October 13, 2011, people and organizations will be hosting events online, in offices, and on the streets to mark their support for putting readers first in communication by using plain language.

Contacts

Cheryl Stephens, plainlanguage.com

email@cherylstephens.com 1-604- 802-9606

Kate Harrison Whiteside, keyadvice.net

kate@keyadvice.net 1-587-896-5377

International Plain Language Day Links 

IPLD Facebook Page

Twitter – #iplday

LinkedIn – Plain Language Advocates – IPLD

 


The latest report on real-time communications tools surpassing e-mail in popularity and practice is not a new finding. But, it is a new warning to Canadian businesses to embrace social and interactive media so they don’t get left behind. And, the sooner the better.

According the Calgary Herald story, nearly half of chief information officers surveyed said instant, interactive and intuitive platforms  – like SharePoint, Google Docs and Skype – will replace e-mail in five years. Shocking? No. Social Media Today reported this in 2008. Transform Magazine, in 2002, reviewed three  business case studies about collaborative technology in an article ‘Collaboration: Beyond E-mail’. In reality, it is already happening.

In a recent blog post – Social Media as a professional tool - I reported that although 77% of Canadians have a social media presence, less than 30% used them for professional reasons. Personal use will increase confidence. Professional use will increase connectivity. All of this can lead to an increase in benefits to your organization.

Like newspapers, email will probably not disappear. But, the speed, social interaction and resource saving aspects of the new communications sharing technology cannot be ignored. Plug-in now and join the conversation – before you are left behind.

Plain language and social media may appear to have a lot in common. They promote conciseness, usability and targeting messages to your audiences. But is there more than just a communications bond between them?

Plain Language spent the early part of this century doing what it did best – print content. But, the movement is gaining momentum when it comes to content we put on websites, in blogs, and on social media platforms. CommonCraft’s Social Media in Plain Language videos have shown great SEO and popularity – although they could benefit from an updated sequel version. However, while many of us continue to use print to get our plain language message across – the power of video (done well) and other social media platforms can’t be ignored.

Emerging Technologies Librarian is just one site blogging about the new Plain Language Medical iPhone App. It takes medical terms and translates them into plain language at the click of a button. This demonstrates how the power of plain language and social media can really have a cultural impact on critical communications. How long before other sectors follow?

Perhaps the biggest stumbling block for achieving a stronger connection is the bad publicity plain language government plans get – promising plain language, but not delivering. Social Media Strategery blogger Steve Raddick, gives a history of US government attempts to get beyond stage one. City of Calgary Alderwoman Druh Farrell has council support for reviving their earlier plain language commitment, which Literacy Alberta executive director Janet Lane whole-heartedly supported via their Facebook Page.  The movement may seem slow, but once it gets to the next stage, it will be brilliant.

The power is in the synergy of the two: using plain language on social media platforms and social media platforms to promote plain language. Both will help us move both to ‘higher ground’.

Check Out: International Plain Language Day plans on Facebook.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.