Social Media Experimenation

By MarkBurhop

If you don’t really have much reason to go beyond email for electronic communication, stop reading now. If IM is a distraction and you keep it turned off this post is not for you.

This post is really for the hyper-connected… those people that seem to be always using the latest technology…those people that think traditional blogs are “old school”. Every company has them. If you have older children, chances are your family has them.

During the Siemens PLM Connection conference some of us will be experimenting with some interesting social media tools. I’d love for the hyper-connected people that are still reading this to join in too. You don’t even have to be here to do it. Tell me what works, what doesn’t work, what has potential for the future, what is a dud.

So what are some of these technologies?

Feeds and Aggregators

Blogs and websites are great but being able to pull content from different locations to create a custom page is the future. Why save a dozen bookmarks and jump to each one looking for new information?

There are some upcoming tools for doing this. I chose for mine and have it set to pull in the latest Siemens PLM and PLM World blogs, Youtube videos on synchronous technology and various conversations occurring at the conference. If you have a PLM blog on Siemens PLM tools and products send me an email and I’ll add it too.

Or, create your own aggregator. Tumblr is one I have tried. This lets you combine a bit of light blogging with feeds. Pownce is another.


Video is getting way too easy. Youtube is virtually mainstream now (yes, your company should unblock it!). Many people have been doing podcasts for years. What seems to be the next step is interactive, realtime video, video blogging, and video comments. One technology I know some of the hyper-connected folks at Siemens are experimenting with is “Seesmic”. It is still in alpha but I’ve been seening more and more blogs that support video comments.

Cellphone and Blackberry

I didn’t mention twitter in my list. For the hyper-connected, twitter is mainstream. What I will mention is that you can get it on your phone and blackberry. For my Blackberry, I use TwitterBerry. For the iPhone there are several tools.

Another interesting technology is brightkite. You can use your phone to show where you are and what you are doing so your friends and others can meet up. Again, this is beta software but seems to have potential especailly at a huge conference like what is happing at the Gaylord Palms this week. This place is huge.

Want to share your photos on twitter? Then you might check out twitpic. Here’s an example from the Siemen’s PLM World Blogger meetup.


Tags are pretty common for blogs and photos today. For the conference, we are using “plmconam08” as our tag. What makes tags interesting are all the tools being created to data mine for these tags and collect useful information. One tool we are using for the conference is eventtrack. It will find our tag in any number of other tools (twitter, Freindfeed, Pownce, slideshare, etc.) and consolidate it for our event.

There are other tools that collect tags as well. You might use summerize to find plmconam08 as well.

With camera phones you can also post pictures directly to a number of photo locations. Combine this with the Feeds above and you post photos to a blog with only about four clicks on your cell phone. This week, I’ll send photos to flickr which will be grabbed by the plm soup aggregator.

Virtual Worlds

Second Life is the first platform most people think about when talking about virtual worlds. However, there are many others. For engineers, this technology has some interesting potential. Virtual Worlds are naturally collaborative and 3D which are two important aspects for product design. They give a stronger feeling of “being there” that you can’t get on a audio or web conference.

This isn’t a perfect technology… it’s still to hard to use for most. But for the hyper-connected it is worth taking a tour through Second Life and other VW’s to understand the potential. I wonder what it will be like in 3-5 years.

Today, this is just experimentation using a wide variety of web based tools. Some will be useful to you either personally and professionally. Some will be a waste of time. Tell me which ones are which.

Please now return to your email.

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This article first appeared on the Siemens Digital Industries Software blog at