Have you heard about the Amazon Fall? It’s a social media phenomenon that has been dubbed by many as that because they think it might be the beginning of the end for online bookstore, Amazon. It’s a “glitch” that somehow removed the search-and-ranking algorithms for Gay, Bisexual, Lesbian and Transsexual material from the online bookstore recently. One of the local connections to making sure this doesn’t happen again?
It’s Vancouver social media figure, prominent blogger and environmental specialist, Dr. Raul Pacheco-Vega, aka hummingbird604.com. A Technorati authority, organizer of Vancouver Bloggers’ Meetup, a top ranked blogger on Urbanspoon, a top 10 Twitter Elite in Vancouver and nominated in 3 categories for a Canadian Blog Awards 2008 (Best Blog, Best Personal Blog and Best Local Blog), Raul knows social media. My interview with the great doctor is below.
1. Tell us about environmental policy and social media. How do you achieve synergy/communication between these two distinct categories.
You know, at the beginning it was very hard for me to fathom an intermingling of both interests of mine. I *am*, after all, a specialist in environmental policy. And I do social media because I find it fun and exciting. So I didn`t actually quite *get* how I could mesh both. At a recent talk I gave, I finally figured it out. As a scholar of environmental policy, I am interested (amongst other things) and have done research on networks of environmental activists. If you translate my analytical skills to the understanding of social networks, the framework itself (a networked society) is the same. The nodes (i.e. the actors that participate in the network) are the only element that changes. So I have finally (after 3 years of blogging, Twittering, Facebooking, Flickering) managed to find how my research interests tie together: I am a specialist in environmental policy that understands how our networked society works. I am happy with this, I have finally reconciled my research with my consulting and fun activity.
2. What is Amazon Fall?
Amazon Fail is a social networking phenomenon that arose from a change in the search and ranking algorithm in the online bookstore Amazon. For some reason (the company itself calls it a glitch, but few people online believe it) texts that had Gay, Lesbian, Transexual, Bisexual content (GLBT) were de-ranked and eliminated from the search algorithms. For people who are concerned about basic human rights, and the rights of GLBT people, this was a slap in the face and a showcase of discriminatory behavior. This lead to an online upheaval movement, called in Twitter short-hand “amazon fail”. My blog has a post on the topic. I was pretty outraged, being an advocate of GLBT issues.
3. How about your PR brand management strategies for social media marketers?
You have to remember that I come from an academic background. So for me, every social media campaign, every online marketing experiment is a research project. I am interested in the way in which information flows from one node to another (from actor to actor) so, I am always trying to find ways in which the properties of social networking sites can be applied to ensure strong PR brand management strategies. I was part of a panel put together by AMUSE Consulting, along with Shane Gibson and Jay Piddy. It was great!
4. What’s the best thing about Twitter for you?
It is really good, it`s a great tool to create new friendships. The people who talk to me on Twitter know that I`m honest, open, and out there. And particularly, I am intersted in developing great friendships.
5. How does it feel to be a PopVox Nominee?
Gosh. I am flattered and a bit worried. It appears as though I have to be nominated EVERY SINGLE TIME. So, it`s not really like I am getting additional votes when the nominations are announced, but in order to be part of the nominations, I need to be nominated every time. Kind of worrisome, because frankly, I am not self-absorbed enough to ask my friends to keep the nominations coming. I am flattered that a few friends nominated me, but I don`t really have it in me to ask for more people to continue nominating me so that the judging committee can see that I have a huge followership and back up. It`s just an honor to be nominated.
6. Thoughts on Vancouver’s tech scene, bloggers and social media people.
Well, what can I tell you. I love Vancouver`s tech scene. And it has welcomed me (a PhD in Environmental Studies who specializes in environmental policy research) very warmly. I think I`ve positioned myself in the Vancouver tech community as part of the core of people who care about the community and who tries to give back. I am co-organizing Mental Health Camp with Isabella Mori for that mere reason – to give back to the community.
7. Tell us about Net Tuesdays, especially this one coming up.
i spoke at the last Net Tuesday (which is a bi-monthly gathering of social media for social change people) – my talk was on how we can harness social media for public policy and environmental policy. I have taught university-level on public policy AND environmental politics, so it was great to merge my research and teaching interests with my social media shenanigans.
Overall, I do hope that the Vancouver tech community appreciates my contributions, because I am very, very committed to it.