Streaming Awareness By

By Mike Maddaloni on Tuesday, June 14, 2011 at 04:00 AM with 4 comments

Let’s all take a look at the photo below, which is of the Chicago River one recent night at dusk.

photo of the Chicago River

The photo is of the river looking west and slightly south, as it flows away from Lake Michigan. To the left is the Hotel 71, the right is Trump Tower, and many corporate headquarters in between. I was impressed with this photo, which I took with my Nokia E7, in that I did not have to retouch the photo, as well as it fit well with something I have been thinking about – what I have been missing by not being on social media as much lately.

Over the last month, and for many reasons, I have not been using social media much. I may check and send a few tweets or Facebook posts and my blogging has been sporatic at best. The act of engaging with social media is not something I have missed at all, rather the interaction with friends and those I only know thru social media I have missed. Which is the way it should be, right?

It turns out I have missed more than I had thought, and looking more I have missed some things I wouldn’t want to miss – birth announcements. The fact that a new life has joined this planet is definitely something I want to know about, even from the most distant friend. However it was over a week after a friend’s kid was born that I learned of it, but not directly, rather from reading between the lines of a Facebook post. Upon going back in their Facebook wall stream, I saw photos an announcement made at a time when I was not the social media site at all. In the process of going back in time, I saw 2 other people I know have had kids within the last year that I wasn’t aware of.

Not to play high and mighty, but when my wife and I were blessed with our children, we did post it on Facebook, but we also emailed our friends and even sent a photo birth announcement to some. Not everybody we know is online, nor are members or active in social media. We did this not only to cover the bases of various forms of media, but wanted to make sure we got the word out, as we have found from recent experience that the most creative of messages can get lost (but I digress, as this is a topic for another time).

At first I felt bad – I never congratulated someone on the birth of their children – but I had more pressing things to act on so I let this thought go to the back of my head. It wasn’t until I got to the point between the Wrigley Building and the Michigan Avenue bridge, the point where I took the photo above, that all this made some sense to me.

The analogy of social media content streaming is nothing new, and it does flow like a river. Earlier that day there was surely more boat traffic and activity on the Chicago River, and by my viewing it at this point in time I missed it. Typically I wouldn’t do any research to see if I missed anything. If someone was on the river or wanted me to know about it, shouldn’t they make a point of letting me know? Blame is not the right word to use here – there was a missed connection. Nobody was hurt, and it is what it is (or water under the bridge?).

The very concept and usage of social media is surely not to blame, as I can count many more gains than losses with it. I have been able to reach out to people throughout the world and have had opportunities I wouldn’t have had otherwise. To offer an example of missing and gaining with social media at the same time, it involves a company whose headquarters is in the middle of this photo, United Airlines. One day they tweeted they were at the Chicago Theatre a few blocks from me giving out theatre tickets. I missed their original tweet, but my good friend Glenn Letham in Vancouver, Canada retweeted it to me, just in time to get over there and claim tickets.

Overall, social media had been a positive part of my life. Has it for you? Please share any thoughts and insights in the comments below. In the meantime, I have some people to congratulate.

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This is from The Hot Iron, a journal on business and technology by Mike Maddaloni, Founder and President of Web consulting firm Dunkirk Systems, LLC.

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