Update: Planning Social Media and Mobile App for An Event

As you know, one of the big projects I’ve been working on this summer is creating and executing the social media event plan for the International Congress of Behavioural Optometry (ICBO) conference in Birmingham, England this September.

This project, which was sponsored by the Shepherd University Foundation, has been a lot of fun and a great learning experience. I’ve been working with the Optometric Extension Program Foundation (OEPF) who is organizing the conference. OEPF is an international nonprofit that does important work advancing the discipline of optometry.


I thought I’d take a moment to post a status update on the project. After completing the social media plan for the event, the majority of the work has focused on preparing the ICBO 2014 conference app to create an app that helps OEPF meet its goals. The app is titled ICBO Social and works on iPhone, Android, and HTML5.  Once complete (I hope to finish building the app over the next few weeks), we’ll move onto promoting the app as the primary means of social engagement at the conference. We’re also presently working to get buy in from key stakeholders: exhibitors and speakers.

The reason the app is our primary social tool and centerpiece of the plan is because (as I like to say) ICBO Social is no ordinary conference app. OEPF and I have been fortunate to be using DoubleDutch as the platform to build our app. DoubleDutch is doing amazing things pushing the envelope on conference apps and what they offer is like no other conference app I’ve seen before.

ICBO Social (and all DoubleDutch apps) is a comprehensive social network built around the conference and thus exclusively for conference goers.

So attendees won’t just be seeing an agenda, or have the ability to create their own schedule, or see a list of exhibitors. And they won’t be limited socially by Twitter feeds. While it has these features, the app is really designed for the social interaction to occur within the app itself.

It contains an activity feed (like Facebook or Twitter) where you can see what other attendees are posting (comments and photos), liking, and where they are checking in.

Gamification is a great part of the app. Users are rewarded for their app activity. They can earn badges (like on Foursquare) for checking in, posting photos, and more. And, they can earn points for in app activities. I will be creating custom badges and designating higher point values for certain behavior to encourage desired behaviors. There is also a leader board app users can check to see how many points they’ve accumulated in comparison with others. And we may use those points to give prizes as further incentive to use the app.

Each individual has a robust profile that shows their activity, what badges they’ve earned, and connections to their social media accounts.

The app also encourages deeper engagement with exhibitors. Attendees can check in to exhibitor booths, share photos, leave comments, etc. Given these abilities, features of the app can be harnessed depending on what the exhibitor is looking to achieve.

The app also enables us to easily get feedback from attendees by the use of surveys and ratings.

We also plan on  using the app to bolster our Q&A speaker sessions at featured speaker events in order to give more attendees the opportunity to ask questions.

Lastly, we talk a bit about analytics on this blog. By driving activity within the app (as opposed to encouraging its spread it across social networks), I’ll be able to get a more comprehensive look at engagement via the app analytics in the CMS  – such as # of check ins, what events people checked into the most, top contributors, and other engagement metrics.

Having been to many conferences and used social media at many and many conference apps, I know the value of being able to connect and stay current with the conversation at the event. I believe using this app will greatly enhance that experience by centering it and making it super easy for participants to stay up to date with and be a part of the conversation. All of these things will enable ICBO attendees to network, interact, and build lasting connections and thereby further establish the ICBO conference as a highly valuable must attend event.

While the app is the major focus of the social media engagement experience of the conference, we’ll also be encouraging attendees to discuss ICBO 2014 on external social media channels as ways to build excitement before the event, continuing the conversation after the event, and, importantly, increase awareness of ICBO among the wider optometric community and non attendees.

It is exciting to see how the DoubleDutch platform is enabling us to create a true, encompassing social experience for attendees and I’m very fortunate to be learning and using this cutting edge tool.

Note: The app is sponsored by HOYA and the app splash screen shown above was designed by one of their very talented graphic designers.


Top Journals in Communication According to Google Scholar in 2014

Google Scholar recommendations

If you are a lover of Google Scholar like me (I’ve written a few posts on becoming a G Scholar power user, in case you’ve missed them) you may have seen that the 2014 Google Scholar Metrics are out.

Here are the top 5 journals in Communication according to the ranking:

  1. New Media & Society
  2. Journal of Communication
  3. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication
  4. Public Opinion Quarterly
  5. Public Relations Review


A complete list is here.

So how is it ranked? According to their site, Google uses h5 scores for h-index and h-medians. An h-index is described on the Google Scholar Metrics page as: “the largest number h such that at least h articles in that publication were cited at least h times each. For example, a publication with five articles cited by, respectively, 17, 9, 6, 3, and 2, has the h-index of 3.” They describe an h-median score as “the median of the citation counts in its h-core. For example, the h-median of the publication above is 9. The h-median is a measure of the distribution of citations to the articles in the h-core.” The h5, what they use, is that score for only articles published in the last 5 complete calendar years.

What’s covered in 2014’s list? Articles published between 2009 and 2013, indexed in Google Scholar in June 2014.  Here’s more detail on what is included.

There you have it. According to Google’s ranking system (that is, based on citation numbers as described above), those are the top journals in Comm. You can see all the different fields, browse, and search the Google Scholar Metric here.

For more information on G Scholar Metrics, here’s a release on the Google Scholar blog.



Facebook’s Controversial Study: Some Thoughts and Teaching Opportunities


By now, you’ve probably heard about the controversy surrounding the massive study conducted by Facebook, titled “Experimental evidence of massive-scale emotional contagion through social networks” and published in the June Proceedings of the National Academic of Sciences.  In the study, individuals, and lots of them (there were 689,003 unknowing participants) were exposed to positive or negative posts on the service. The study then looked to see if people who saw more negative posts in turn wrote more negative posts.  (As a side note, if you aren’t familiar with the idea of emotional contagion, a few semesters back I used an interesting book called “The Dragonfly Effect” in my Social Media and Social Change class. The book discusses the concept. Essentially, the value of the idea as argued by the book is that an emotion has a viral quality to it that can spread and that thus telling the emotional aspect of your cause is critical for spreading support for a social causes.)

I’m not here to comment on whether the study was ethical or not (certainly it wouldn’t have passed any IRB I’ve ever heard of). No matter your opinion, this case brings up a very interesting situation that will make for a great discussion opportunity in a research class when it comes time to talk ethics and IRB.

In my experience teaching research methods, students tend to be disinterested (see: blank stares, checking smart phones) in discussions of the ethical obligations of researchers and the IRB. And I understand. Unless a student is going to graduate school the likelihood that she will have to deal with IRB and research ethics outside of our class seems fairly low (unless of course they participate in studies). But this case is an important reminder to students that research does not have to be confined to the academic setting. While this study was published in an academic journal, the Washington Post reported that according to posts on the Facebook page of employee and co-author Adam D.I. Kramer, Kramer stated “… we were concerned that exposure to friends’ negativity might lead people to avoid visiting Facebook.”

And what better way to find out than through social scientific study? Facebook has the access and clearly the ability through their algorithm to manipulate what you see. The fact that they are doing this doesn’t surprise me (They manipulate users’ news feeds in an attempt to optimize their service). And the anxiety and controversy it is causing doesn’t surprise me (It brings questions to the mind of many: How else are they manipulating me? And that breeds distrust). What I find interesting is that they make public their work and used it to contribute to scientific understanding. And, in a way, I’m glad they did because it creates teaching and learning opportunities for all of us.

Great Discussion Topic For Class #1: Informed Consent: What is it?  What consists of consent? And did users consent in this case? And what are the ramifications of not having informed consent?


I tell my students Informed Consent means exactly that. You are INFORMED as to what the study is about and you CONSENT to participate. There was no overt informed consent. No one actively stated their agreement to participate in the study, and they were not informed about the study and what it entailed.

The obvious argument is that Facebook should have disclosed this information. From a professional communication perspective, this works. Clear. Transparent. Don’t violate the trust of your users.

If Facebook was concerned that negative content might lead people to avoid visiting Facebook, was their answer to enlist users in an experiment without their consent? Which is more likely to keep people from visiting Facebook?

I always tell my students that one of the ramifications for unethical or deceptive scholarly research is the threat to public trust of scholarship and scholarly institutions. The public has long heard about the Milgram studies and other ethically dubious research. And they’re nervous to participate in academic research for those reasons. People don’t like to be duped and the common perception is that scholarly research involves deception or trickery – that some hidden hand is manipulating them in an uneven interaction where the researcher is supposed to be blindly trusted. And this case with Facebook may produce the same wariness among the public psyche as those famous studies we all learn about in school. Indeed, it seems more and more people are concerned about privacy and what they’re giving up about their lives for gain of free services (e.g., concerns about Google and its Google Glass).

Now, Facebook argues that your consent to participate is implied as a result of agreement to the Facebook terms of service.  And it can be argued that if people knew they were being manipulated then the Hawthorne Effect would likely take place. And thus the experiment would have not been effective – thus, in the eyes of some, justifying the use of deception.

I’m sure that asking my students next time I teach communication research class: “What if you were one of the participants? How would you feel?” will produce a lively response. I’ll be sure to remind them that it is possible they were and they’ll never know it. I’m interested to know their informed opinion after we discuss these topics: What responsibility does Facebook have to disclose this information?

Great Discussion Topic For Class #2: IRB – what is it? Why is it important? And what needs to be reviewed and what can be exempted?


Who is responsible for reviewing a study such as this and making sure it passes appropriate guidelines to ensure participant rights are considered and protected?

Of course, at a university we have the Institutional Review Board. We’ve all dealt with them at one time or another. But when a corporation does a study, shouldn’t that also fall under review of a governing board?

Interestingly, this study was done in part with researchers at Cornell. And a quick read of this Washington Post article gives the casual reader the impression that Cornell IRB reviewed and approved this research. However, you’ll note that it states that they approved the use of pre-existing data from Facebook. And that is something many of us have used in conducting our research on Facebook or Twitter. Simply, the data already exists and we’re going to analyze it. But that wasn’t the case in this study, really. Facebook conducted the experiment and now researchers from Cornell were going to analyze it. It seems there may have been some confusion about the fact that Facebook conducted the experiment. And clearly there was some confusion in how the media reported this / or how the public was interpreting it. Because that article was updated to note that Cornell did not approve manipulation in the study. And a follow up article discusses that Cornell’s IRB has made effort to clarify that the study was conducted prior to Cornell’s IRB was consulted.

Because it may seem confusing to someone not familiar with the distinction between conducting an experiment and using pre-existing data, it is a great opportunity to explicate this distinction to students and help them understand the notion of pre-existing data and public data and what can be exempt and what can’t be (and that even if something is going to be exempt, it still needs to go through IRB!).

Altogether, I’m sure this will really help students see why IRBs are in place, the importance of their role, and while it is a lot of work to go through the process, why it is important for ensuring public safety and trust.

These are just some thoughts and starting points. And this post is getting rather long. So I’ll leave it there. I’m looking forward to sharing this with my students and a more relatable and lively discussion when it comes time to talk ethics and IRB next time around. :)

What do you think? Was the study ethical? What other articles or questions would make for a great class discussion on this subject?

** Facebook logo Copyright Facebook. photos: Crystal Campbell | Neil Conway

Time Management: How to Read when You Don’t Have Time with These Tricks

I like to write posts every once in a while about productivity tips and tricks or time savers. That’s because I know I love reading these types of posts and believe maybe some of the tricks I’ve picked up along the way might help others.

I wrote the below blog post months ago but never got around to publishing it. When I came across the Umano  app yesterday I was so happy. I was also reminded about the below post I’d drafted.


First, Umano. Umano is an app that reads popular articles to you (you can also listen on their website). Voice actors record the articles and you listen. Simple as that. You can build a playlist so the articles cycle through one after the other. There are advanced paid features but the free app works great for me. Since downloading the app I’ve listened to about 10 articles already and I love it. I can tell this is going to be one of my most used apps for getting content. Here’s why:

I’d been long using Pocket and my Mac computer to achieve what Umano does. But Umano uses real voices rather than the robot in your computer or phone. This is a huge time saver. I get lots more content when I’m doing things that prevent me from reading – like brushing my teeth or cooking.

So why not just use Umano? Because Umano only has articles that are popular. I like to read a lot of posts from academic blogs and social media blogs I follow, the type of niche content that wouldn’t make it into Umano. In fact, I listen to a lot of content – such as websites or documents. That’s why I use the Pocket app and the text-to-speech engine on my Mac. So here’s the original article I drafted up:

You want to read more but don’t always have time to. You know that staying up to date on the latest news and trends in your field is no longer an option. It’s a must.

But great articles go whizzing by on Twitter or your RSS reader that you never get around to reading. You’re busy.

That’s why having your computer or smartphone read to you is an efficient way to save time while staying up to date on the latest buzz.

Imagine having blog posts and news articles are read to you while getting ready for work in the morning, cooking dinner in the evening, working out at the gym, or.. well, anytime you don’t feel like staring at a screen.

A student told me about this about two years ago. He’d have his Mac read him the online assigned for my class while he cooked dinner. (I’ll explain how below). But since you can’t always be at your computer, there are smartphone apps that can read to you on the go.

The one I’ve used is called Pocket (formerly ReaditLater) for Android.


With Pocket, you can use the TTS (text to speech) engine on your Android phone to have your articles read to you. (I’m not sure if the iPhone has a similar function – does anyone know?)

Pocket is a simple but extremely useful app that allows you to collect articles on websites, blogs, news outlets, and so forth. There’s a browser plugin for that. Installing the plugin adds a button on your browser. Click it whenever you’ve got an article open in your browser that you want to save for later.

All the articles you “pocket” are saved to your account and accessible on your app, on the web, or on your Mac via their app in the Mac App store.

Using Text-to-Speech with Pocket on Android

In the Pocket app on your Android, select the more button (in the top right. It looks like 3 buttons on top of each other). And then Listen.

It’s as simple as that.

Listening on a Mac computer

To get your Mac to read text to you, go to Settings -> Speech. Click “Speak selected text when the key is pressed.” Then select the key command you want to use. I use COMMAND+S. Now, go into MS Word or a website in your browser, highlight the text you want the computer to read and click your command key. Your computer will begin reading.

As I said, I’ve been doing this for about a year. The voice sounds like a robot. But it’s not hard to comprehend and I don’t mind it. The way I see it. Time is precious. Time management is learning to maximize time – and time spent doing mindless tasks like cleaning, getting dressed in the morning, etc. are perfect opportunities to get more out of time.

How do you “get more out of your day”? If you’ve tried having your computer or phone read articles to you, how have you found it?

logos: copyright of their respective companies.

ICA Conference Panel: Social Media Data

I’m back from a great trip to ICA! The conference was filled with inspiring and informative panels. And it was great to see colleagues and friends!

I want to take a quick minute to share a post summarizing a great panel I attended. Since Mary Joyce (@MetaActivism) summarizes the post here and the capabilities of the software, I thought I’d just let her do the talking. :) But first, a quick overview.

The panel was “Integrating Social Media Data Into Communication Research Using Application Programming Interfaces (APIs).” I attended it Friday morning and was fortunate enough to get a chair. The room was packed with dozens of people sitting on the floor or standing in the back or along the wall. It seems interest in social media data in the field of communication research is on the rise.

Here’s a great summary of the presentations by Mary Joyce over at Meta-Activism.org.

Back from Poland and off to ICA 2014 in Seattle!

Hope everyone’s week is off to a great start! It is very busy here. Kelin and I just returned from a weeklong trip to Poland. We went to Krakow and Warsaw.

I’m leaving early Thursday morning to head the International Communication Association conference in the beautiful Pacific Northwest! If you are going to be at ICA in Seattle, feel free to stop by and see our poster session for our paper:

Dalisay, F., Kushin, M.J., Yamamoto, M. (May, 2014). The politically demobilizing role of conflict avoidance for participation, efficacy, and attention to information sources. Paper accepted for presentation at the annual conference of the International Communication Association, Seattle, WA.

Location & Time : Sat, at 4:30pm, in the Metropolitan Ballroom.

I hope to see you there!

Just for fun, I thought I’d share just a few of the many photos we took during our trip to Poland. I wish I remembered the names of all of the amazing historic buildings we saw to go along with the photos. I highly recommend visiting Poland, especially Krakow!   For each city, I also listed some highlights. Some photos go along with the highlights. Click the photos to enlarge them.


krakow theater

town square krakow



photos: Theater in Krakow, and the town square in Krakow

The Wawel Royal Castle

The Schindler factory (made famous by the Schindler’s List movie) – Although we didn’t get to go into the factory (which is now a museum), just being able to see it from the outside was an amazing experience.

Krakow Jewish Ghetto – We went through the location where the Nazis forced the Jewish population of Krakow to live in 1 of 2 walled in sections across the river from Krakow. This was near the Schindler factory.


Nowa Huta and the “Communist Bus Tour” – where we learned a ton about the history of the fight against communism in Poland, and got to tour Nowa Huta (the city of the New Steel Mill) which was a planned socialist city. I didn’t know much about how Poland won its power and the years of protest and bloodshed that led up to it, a good bit of which happened in Nowa Huta and during strikes in that city. Interestingly, a town square that was once called Stalin Square was renamed to Ronald Reagan square to honor his fight against communism.


photo: in the distance you can see what looks like a large field. This was supposed to be a made man lake in Nowa Huta. But the USSR never completed it due to a lack of funds. However, some maps showed that the lake was there.


Nearly 90% of Warsaw was destroyed during World War II, including a systematic campaign by the Nazis to make an example of the city to the rest of Europe because the citizens of Warsaw tried to fight back against the Nazis. So most of the buildings are rebuilt. But the city took great care to replicate the buildings as closely as possible to the originals. Highlights included


Photo: The Palace of Culture and Science, the tallest building in Poland was a gift to Poland from the Soviet Union in the 1950s. It used to be named after Stalin.

The University of Warsaw


Photo: The University of Warsaw main entrance

“Old Town”

mermaid statue




photo: Mermaid statue in the old town square in Warsaw, 2) more of the old town’s center.

The Warsaw Uprising Museum – Unfortunately I didn’t get any good photos because it was dark. But this experience was absolutely moving. It was one of the best museums I have been to. This museum is dedicated to the efforts of the Home Army (the small army of Warsaw citizens) who fought the Nazis during a 63 day campaign in 1944 as the Russians approached the city, pushing the Nazis back. After taking Warsaw, the Russians provided very little support for the Home Army and arrested many of their members. Leaders were imprisoned, many never to be seen again. The Russians downplayed the role the Home Army played in the battle for Warsaw. And much of what the Home Army did was not acknowledged until after the end of the Cold War.


That’s all for now. I hope everyone is having a great week!

- Cheers!



My 2014 Summer Plans: Social media planning for an international conference

It is hard to believe that the 2013-2014 academic year is over. Summer is upon us.

It was a super busy year. I had so many ideas for things I wanted to blog about, and never got around to: Like my final project in Communication Research where students build surveys and use iPads to collect survey data around campus. With summer here, I thought I’d take a moment to highlight my big plans for the summer.

The International Congress of Behavioural Optometry Social Media and Mobile App

International Congress of Behavioural Optometry  ICBO    Home

This summer I earned a grant via the Shepherd University Foundation at Shepherd University to complete some exciting and important volunteer work. I will be working to help the Optometric Extension Program Foundation (OEPF) create and execute a social media plan for the International Congress of Behavioural Optometry, the premiere international conference in the optometric community. The conference is held every four years and this year’s event is in Birmingham, England in September. The Optometric Extension Program foundation, an international 503c non-profit, OEPF helps advance the discipline of optometry by helping educate optometrists and their staff in addressing learning related visual problems (including performance as well as concussions), sports vision, vision rehabilitation, etc. They also do outreach to the public about these issues.

Planning the social media is going to be a lot of fun and a lot of work. And we are just getting started. A major component of “ICBO Social,” our social media efforts, will be creating a conference mobile app aimed at really bringing the conference experience alive with exciting engagement opportunities for attendees to interact with the conference and one-another.

While most conference apps simply provide a way to get the conference agenda on their smartphone, the ICBO Social app is so much more (we’ll be using DoubleDutch to create the app). The ICBO Social app is inherently social and aimed at interaction. The best way to describe ICBO Social is as a social media platform for mobile devices (available on Google Play and the App Store) that we are creating for and will be specifically used by conference attendees and exhibitors.

That creates opportunities for attendees to build profiles, connect with one another based on interest, share comments and photos to the activity feed, see what events others are attending and commenting on via the activity feed, like and comment on others’ posts, learn more about exhibitors, and build real connections with exhibitors through the interactive opportunities popular on many social media platforms.

It will be an easy-to-use, fun, engaging, and rewarding way to get the most out of the ICBO 2014 conference and build lasting relationships.

While the app is the centerpiece of the plan, there are a host of other components that could be their own blog posts themselves!

Over the summer, I will not be blogging as often. But I will post from time to time on my progress with ICBO Social along the way, as well as discuss other projects (I’ve got a few exciting research projects I’m working on), updates from my classes, and hopefully some fun posts about a few vacation trips I’ve got planned, etc. Not to worry –  I will be picking back up full swing with weekly or bi-monthly posts in the Fall.

In the meantime, keep in touch via Twitter or LinkedIn, blog comments, or email. I will see you all in a few weeks!