Sunday, March 25, 2012

Silicone Bitch: Should You Throw a Party in the House of Facebook?

You want a crowd on your Facebook page, but how do you manage it when you can't possibly know how your page members treat each other? Photo via Mararie's Flickr.

I've been professionally involved in online communities for over a decade, either as a blogger, moderator, participant, event planner, and so on -- you name it, I've done it. One particular travel community I used to moderate was hugely successful. Currently, I have my hand as an admin in several Facebook pages. I also enjoy Facebook personally, as I am able to find like-minded folks there involved in a few hobbies I love and causes I espouse.

My observation of some bizarre, erratic member behavior in one of these communities has recently given me food for thought.

So social media managers, riddle me this ...

Let's say you host a party for your client in a house called Facebook. It's a really, really big house; there's room for everyone ... no worries, no problem. Pass the canapés and cocktails, we're good to go.

Thousands of people show up to talk about how awesome your client is and chat about stuff that's related to your client.

Everything is flowing smoothly. User-generated content just keeps pouring in. Great!

Occasionally, a few ornery and obnoxious people show up to your party and that's ok. You're the host. You throw them out and the rest of the guests carry on.

But one day, one of your guests decides that it's no longer your client's shindig, but their own. Oh really? Wasn't I managing my client's party? Well no, you weren't.

In the house of Facebook, you can throw a party, but you have no control over what kind of relationships your guests have with each other. Let's say John Doe takes exception to Jane Doe. Maybe John doesn't want to hear what Jane has to say. Maybe John doesn't want Jane to overhear his conversations with others. You can't throw John out for not liking Jane. He has a right to privacy. The house of Facebook is cool like that.

Here's the problem, however:

Jane never really did anything to John. In fact, John doesn't even really know Jane very much at all. And instead of simply ignoring Jane, John goes one step further, by throwing her into the closet -- blocking Jane from his timeline. So she finds herself wondering why she was in the living room enjoying a cocktail with other guests and is now suddenly locked up in a closet with a bunch of other folks, hearing only one-sided conversations. John might as well have put a muzzle on Jane and she wasn't even a troll.

You see, here's the thing. John talks all the time. He holds court in your party that you have thrown in the house of Facebook at your expense. Maybe John has a lot of cool things to say about your client, but your purpose in throwing this party was not to limit conversations, but to expand them. He keeps Jane and lord knows how many others in the dark in what is supposed to be an open, joyous, community-driven, crowd-sourced event.

John is basically sabotaging your party in the house of Facebook. It's disruptive. It censors information from folks who didn't do anything to offend John in the first place.

Yet there's nothing you can do, because John has every right to not like Jane. And so you sit and watch, as an insidious, underhanded cyber bully of sorts takes over your own soirée.

Lesson to be learned: Find a better banquet house for your next party -- a forum platform where you can not only block spammers and trolls, but also where you can supervise the flow of editorial for all guests to see.

Friday, March 16, 2012

On Jeremy Wade, River Monsters Season 4 and Digressions That Have Nothing To Do With Fishing

jeremy wade animal planet river monsters season 4
Ladies, do you know what our Hurricane Season Boyfriend has been doing since we last featured him in June 2011? Well, of course, fearlessly chasing river monsters around the world, but he did make a pit stop stateside to unravel the mystery of dangerous American creatures -- and he wasn't even following political candidates on the campaign trail!

Just in case you forgot, Hurricane Season Boyfriend is an annual series here at Sex and the Beach -- a pantheon of famous and sometimes infamous celebrities we'd want for chores around the house when another Category 5 hits the peninsula of Florida. Yes, because it's not a question of if it hits again, but when.

In 2011, Jeremy Wade blew the competition out of the water like a school of mullet freaking out over a pursuing tarpon.

Ladies, if you think your life is hard, just imagine being a 1-pound fish worrying constantly about being gulped down the cavernous mouth of a 100-pound fish that is basically nothing more than a Dyson vacuum with fins. Please donate your Xanax to the Mullet Anxiety Disorder Foundation. Sharing is caring.

Anyway, Jeremy Wade earned this exclusive, much coveted honor because anglers tend to be very handy in crisis situations -- especially foolhardy, obsessive ones -- which is basically synonymous with being a good angler. They know courage. They know determination. They know patience. They know tools. They catch dinner. And they tell good stories. You get my point.

So on April 1 -- yes, April Fool's Day -- all us fishing fools waiting with "baited" breath will be glued to our TVs for the season 4 premiere of River Monsters: American Killers.

How ironic! American Killers airs two weeks before taxes are due. You see, big fish should be caught with big taxes. Small fish should be caught with small taxes. You can't catch a shark with a cane pole and you can't catch a mullet with a shark rig.

Ladies, if you aren't familiar with rigs, here's a primer. A rig is the way you tie together the business end of a fishing rod, the point of contact between you and fish: bait, lures, hook, leaders, sinkers and so on -- all connected to the line.

You know how you prepare ahead of time what you're going to wear on a night out on the prowl? A rig is somewhat the same.

It's all about tackle balance. A shark rig would be one aspect of the complete "outfit" you'd need to pull a speeding semi truck out of the water with your own weight at the butt end of the rod, much in the same way you choose a slutty, head-turning black dress instead of schmatte to lure a sugar daddy into your arms.

Fishing is a seduction strategy of sorts, albeit a more rustic kind. Not that yours is any classier, mind you.

And speaking of shark rigs, it seems our Jeremy Wade was in Florida checking some monsters in our own backyard, without even having paid a visit to our governor!

Possible bull sharks in rivers? Goliath groupers up stream? Oh my!

jeremy wade bullshark florida river monsters season 4 animal planet
I can understand the bull shark -- in a previous season, Jeremy Wade recounted shark attack reports on Australia's Gold Coast in a lake ironically called Miami. In the River Monsters book, he describes Miami Lake as "a high density development where trimmed lawns go right down to the water."

Sound familiar, my Floridians?

Yeah, but the only difference is that here you wouldn't find some Housewife of Bal Harbour in an intracoastal channel using her Louis Vuitton bag as a flotation device.

It does make me wonder though: when I was a little girl, I would see sharks in the canals by the Coral Gables waterway. But they were most likely nurse sharks and not the notorious minotaurs of the seas.

jeremy wade goliath grouper river monsters season 4 animal planet
In any case, what the hell was a big-ass grouper doing up a river? I thought groupers spawned in the ocean and only juveniles lived in estuaries for protection. And I wonder if unusual migratory patterns are related to a grouper's ability to change sex according to the number of available mates.

Yes, I know some of you do this at South Beach clubs regularly, but it's not the same.

And truth be told, if Jeremy Wade wants to see some real Florida maritime predators, he should stop by South Beach on a Sunday afternoon in peak tourist season. They live on sand, not shore. Some of them have fake boobs, speak with Eastern European accents and carry roofies for their unsuspecting prey. Others wear gold chains and stuff big wads of cash in their speedos to lure two-legged blonde fowl. They prey on each other. It's amazing they've evolved so far without species annihilation.

Oh, what the hell do I know? That's why there's good folk like Jeremy Wade to explain these mysteries.

As for the bull sharks and groupers, we have more questions than answers at this point, so I reckon we'll have to tune in April 1st on Animal Planet for the two-hour season opener starting at 9 PM (ET/PT). The series will air regularly on Sundays at 10 PM.

Actually, I've seen a press teaser for the first episode, but you'll have to gut hook me for a spoiler ... and ladies, I'm not going to show you that technique. That's bad fishing.

You, however, can see this one:

All photo credits: Animal Planet

Thursday, March 08, 2012

Silicone Bitch: Shit Miami Social Media Say About Pinterest

News and notes about the South Florida social media and blogging scene, with a little tech thrown in for good measure. And maybe some other random events, too. Representing Silicon Beach since 2005.

Tuesday's Social Media Club South Florida meetup at The Stage in the Design District was a mixer in collaboration with @rbbPR to discuss SXSW. Rbb will be at SXSW representing South Florida with the hashtag #sxswsfl. Now, I'm not sure if much talk about SXSW actually happened -- I personally had 1.2 conversations about the mothership Austin conference -- but what did come up was the subject of the latest social network hot potato: Pinterest.

(Yeah, I'm missing SXSW yet again this year. Sorry, but I was busy starting a movement with HeartCamp, saving a local park from over-development and making short films about Hialeah.)

When I asked attendees what they thought of the platform, which is basically an online board where you can "pin" images of whatever you fancy, the responses were varied, pro and con. @mimi2point0 thought it wasn't good for law firms: "What are you going to do? Post a picture of OJ?" But @aubreyswanson loves it because she's a foodie and is into recipes. The recently betrothed @jeffzelaya -- who claims he is the only straight guy who uses Pinterest -- uses the platform as a vision board, mind you, not for girly stuff.

Karla from @giglogo thought it was good for bloggers to have pin buttons for SEO and @carlosmiller wants to post his most prized collectibles -- parking tickets. Clever guy @grantstern would use Pinterest to not post pictures of things he likes, which makes you wonder what's going on in that head of his ... and speaking of naughty things, @daniellaveras thought it was a pity Pinterest can't be used by couples to post their favorite sex positions. Well, heck, think about it: you're posting honeymoon ideas, right? Kama Sutra, meet Pinterest!

As for yours truly: "Pinterest is like a boob job. Just because it looks good doesn't mean everyone should have one." A couple of weeks ago, I tried posting photos of things I like, such as fishing tackle, and got frustrated after 2 minutes when Bass Pro Shops wasn't pin friendly. I think of Pinterest as I do of any social media platform: if the shoe fits, wear it. If not, stay where your tribe is, baby.

All in good fun, of course. See the video above for more. I hope to make this a regular series here in the Silicon Beach community.


Knight Foundation is encouraging you artsy types out there to apply for this groovy grant called Arts Challenge. Here's the great news: you do NOT have to be a 501 (c) 3 to apply. Even better: the first round of the process simply requires a one-page proposal. Boy, I wish things had been that easy when I was writing grants for New World Symphony. If you've got a creative idea that can help the community through the arts, don't be shy about applying. Learn more at Knight Arts. The deadline is March 19, so start cranking.

Speaking of philanthropy, don't miss Philanthrofest in April.

Monday, March 05, 2012

Saving Matheson Hammock, One Tweet at a Time

Palm Trees Should Be The Only Tall Objects Here

If you're new to this story, click here.

The Save Matheson Hammock Photo Day was well attended in spite of yesterday's blustery weather. About 30 folks -- including leaders in the cause -- showed up in support for what was a quiet day in appreciation of the park's natural surroundings through photography. It wasn't a protest at all, though someone jokingly called it "occupy Matheson."

We spent the first hour by the marina's bait and tackle shop waiting for late comers in what felt like a casual town hall. Afterward, we walked by the area where the proposed boatyard would be built, followed by a stroll up the bridge to enjoy a wider vista. Standing at the park's highest point, we talked about the sight lines, mangroves that would be destroyed and what would be paved over if construction ever took place.

Saving Matheson One Tweet at a Time

Save Matheson Group

Marina at Matheson

Miami Twitterati at Matheson

Slow Down for Manatees

Later we dispersed to take photos but a small group that I led stuck together, exploring the mangrove trail and the atoll pool. Our photographers ranged from iPhone instagram addicts (yours truly now quickly becoming one) to digital ninjas and even a fine art professional shooting old school with real film in a Hassleblad.

Throughout the day, we talked about our Matheson memories. Especially poignant were the stories from one family that had three generations of Matheson experience. And one woman spoke of how this had been the spot of her first kiss.

Boaters stayed home yesterday because of high winds and marine warnings. This was a blessing and a curse for us. Without the cold front, we would have experienced the traffic mayhem on a typical Matheson Hammock weekend and would have had a seriously dangerous challenge as pedestrians. But on the other hand, we enjoyed the peace and tranquility of this park as anyone might on days with little boat traffic. The silence was truly golden. Only the occasional crow disturbed the swoosh of the winds through the trees.

Boating School at Matheson

The Mangrove Trail at Matheson

Experiencing a Little Wilderness at Low Tide

Stop The Boat Warehouse With a Smile

CBS 4 Miami showed up for a TV interview, where yours truly volunteered to be in front of the camera to discuss social media and environmental conservation. And while I couldn't access my Twitter, others did tweet and post on Facebook to share the event live with the tag #savematheson.

As of today, a tweetreach report indicates that 17,139 people were reached via 50 tweets. Not bad for a simple, grassroots effort.

The Save Matheson Facebook page is constantly active. I'm really amazed at the community support Save Matheson is receiving through this social network.

Yet a handful of others who attended yesterday don't use social media at all, which just goes to show even an email newsletter can be an effective broadcast tool. In short, we're getting the word out effectively. Nearly 7,000 have already signed the petition.

Even the Puddles Are Beautiful at Matheson

Sea Grapes Matheson Hammock

Ecosystem and Boaters Must Coexist in Balance

Coconut Flotsam Matheson Hammock

Capuring But Not Touching a Spider

Photographer at Lagoon

A week or so prior to this event, I attended the City of Pinecrest public hearing where Aqua Marine Partners developer Andrew Sterner, as well as citizens pro and con, spoke to the representatives. I moved from my chair and sat on the floor behind Marc Buoniconti in his wheelchair, taking copious notes on my laptop after a fellow reporter took a picture of my laptop screen. (Yes, that actually happened and I called her out on it.) A few other weird things happened, but I'm not going to get into it.

Compassion got the better of me. I thought how sad this all was and how sad to see Mr. Buoniconti that way -- what an awful plight. I thought of how a community could be so divided when there could be so many other options. Only two people out of ten took the mic at the Pinecrest meeting to praise the development while complaining about scant boat ramp access. This warrants investigation. A number of boaters have talked to me about Miami-Dade boat ramp closings in recent years. Miami Herald? New Times? Hello? You out there?

I'd rather not belabor the political mess of all this, but suffice it to say that the City of Pinecrest disapproved of the development.

The cynics are going to call this your typical Miami story of political corruption and financial greed, but all I know is that there are nearly 7,000 folks who want to keep the park the way it is. There's nothing wrong with the idea of this dry dock facility. It's just the proposed location that's at issue.

It doesn't end here, of course. Any day can be your personal PHOTO DAY at Matheson. Just show up, enjoy the park, take photos and tag #savematheson.

What's next? Subscribe to the Save Matheson newsletter for more details and visit our Facebook page.