Browsing "technology"
Aug 3, 2011 - technology    No Comments

Pretty graphic, bad data.

I’ve been meaning to post about this for awhile, but earlier this summer a colleague was tweeting from a conference about social media, and this infographic came up: Still Think Social Media is a Fad? One of the ‘facts’ she tweeted was that “50% of the world’s population is under 30. 96% of them have joined a social network.”

(highlighting above is mine, and not part of the graphic.)

That immediately piqued my attention, because, really? 96% of the WORLD’s population under 30 is using social media? Even the ones fighting to survive in Darfur, or those in remote villages in South America? You can’t toss around a “world” statistic and get such great results. 

I asked for the source of the info, and was led to the blogpost above, and if you look at the complete graphic, it only lists generic websites: “,,” etc — and not actual published data. Antennae start to wiggle on my head. This is the kind of stuff that I warn my students to watch out for, and this graphic is getting praise?

I asked on the creators site via the comments where the info came from.

That “world’s population” stat is really, really bad data. Where is that statistic from? According to this site: less than 29% of the world’s population has internet access, so saying that 96% of the world’s population under 30 (which, also, insinuates birth-30) is connected to a social network (and in this graphic it’s implied it’s one online, not a general human social network) is just really, really bad data, and it makes me question all other statistics on the graphic. It’s pretty, but one bad number makes me doubt the rest.

The author, Angela Neilsen, responded with:


Hi Mark and Gretchen – thanks for the comments. The stat about the under 30 I got from the video produced by (, of which on the same page they quoted their sources as well.

As for full urls Gretchen – thanks for pointing that out. I had originally put in the long urls to the specific pages, but at completion removed them as I didn’t think people would want to type that much data. In addition, so many times pages get moved within a domain, or renamed, that I didn’t want to make people think they were bad pages if that happened. But it’s still certainly a great point and I’ll keep that in mind for future infographics.


With that link, I was able to dig deeper:


Thanks for the link — the video source has misrepresented the statistic — yes, 50% of the world’s population is under 30, but the 96% stat was based on a national survey of 1227 US kids between 9-17, and that was in October 2006, so the juxtaposition here and in the video is really, really apples vs oranges. (When I talk about deep links, the video site is providing what I like to see when people are using stats to back their point )

Social media is awesome, it’s not a fad, but any critical thinker should immediately question that “96% of the world” stat. “50% of the world’s population is under 30! 100% of them claim ice cream is their favorite food!”(Oh, but for ‘them’ I meant the people that live in my house…..) 

And, well, that was the end of the conversation. The graphic wasn’t changed. The posts weren’t updated to show that it was really, really poor use of data, it wasn’t even acknowledged in the comments that well, I was right! And I love to be right.

The graphic is all over the internet now:

(there’s more.)

And I’m kind of amazed that more people aren’t questioning the numbers, and that the author hasn’t edited the graphic or provided an addendum. But hey! It provides a great example of how to think critically about infographics and statistics in general, so it’s a great teaching tool for that! 

Aug 3, 2011 - education, technology    No Comments

Missouri’s Facebook Law

Have you heard about this? Missouri has created a law that prevents teachers from interacting with students via social media.   My first thought was that I went back to the conversation my ED307 students and I had about social media and boundaries, where they all very strongly agreed that teachers shouldn’t friend students, but when presented with more real life situations, they realized that area gets gray, really quickly.  What about the student that is a family friend? Or the parent friending a teacher? Or the parent that is also a teacher? (My mom was a teacher in my school; would she have been allowed to friend me on Facebook?)

The law is part of the Amy Hestir Student Protection Act, which is named for a student who was sexually abused by a teacher…. decades ago. Which brings back my mantra “the internet is real life.” Will banning teacher/student interaction via social media stop sexual abuse? Nope. Will it create a false sense of ‘safety’ for some people? Yep.

I DO think it’s a good idea for teachers to be professional in their use of social media, and think that the idea of a fan page for a teacher is a great one. But I think this law is a little short-sighted, because it didn’t take Facebook/social media to create an environment for abuse for Amy Hestir, and it won’t prevent it in the future.

Jul 12, 2011 - technology    No Comments

How business goes wrong with Facebook

I love social media, and I love connecting with business on social media. However, there are way too many businesses who are operating under a Facebook profile, and not a Facebook page. Generally, my thought is “well, they just don’t know better,” and I sigh, loudly, and move on, because I won’t friend a business. 

But, the internet is real life! It sure is. And just as I don’t invite door-to-door salesman into my home, I won’t invite a business into my Facebook. I don’t have anything to hide, but it makes me question their motives. After a recent conversation where I learned that, actually, there are several businesses that prefer the profile, just to have access to their client’s pages, I’m even more committed to trying to right these wrongs.

Firstly, it’s against Facebook policy to represent a business or organization via a profile. No, really, it is.  There’s even a way for an average user to report it, over on the left of their profile, scroll down to “Report/Block this Person” and a menu comes up. Choose: “This profile is pretending to be someone or is fake,” and then “Represents a Business or an Organization.”

Or, if you are realizing that you yourself are committing this faux pas, you can easily roll your business profile to a Facebook Page following these steps:

Convert your Facebook profile to a page

Or let’s try it the nice way. Fill out this form and let businesses know WHY this is bad, and why this isn’t winning them any friends. I can think of a half dozen businesses that I’d love to see in my news feed, but I won’t make them my friend. Are you in the same boat? Let them know. I’d love to email the businesses doing this with the instructions above, and solid reasons as to why it isn’t working for the rest of us when they operate this way. 


Jul 7, 2011 - technology    No Comments

Followup from SMBBGR

Thank you for attending my talk today at SMB Bangor! I hope you found it informative and valuable to helping create your own professional and personal policies around social media.

To clarify some points, when I mentioned that I don’t talk about politics, that’s me! I am not a politician, I am a teacher and a geek, and I might mention politics as it pertains to my interests. My issue was that it’s not often professional for a business presence to post like an angry BDN commenter, which I’ve seen happen. It might win friends on your team, but it alienates those on the opposing side.

Facebook & businesses: Get a fan page! I won’t add a business as a friend, because in most cases, I don’t really want a business accessing my own facebook feed. There’s nothing there that is untoward, it just doesn’t feel right. The internet is real life – I don’t really want you to sell me widgets in my house, but I would love to come to your widget store and chat with you there!

Promotion, sharing, complaining — all happen on social networks, but it’s really the OVER-promotion, OVER-sharing, OVER-complaining that gets under folks’ skin. I want your business to have a special offer for me for being a fan, that’s great! I don’t want that to be the only communication we have, and I don’t want it to be the only reason you are using social media. Promotion from a business is expected, and a great use of the tool. Promotion from your Facebook friends is where it gets icky. If you only see me as a possible customer for your most recent foray into a multi-level marketing opportunity, I will hide you, and then I see nothing. Great for me, but it means your message is totally lost, now.

Having a personal AND professional presence: I don’t, but that’s in part because I have a career that I love, that is so ingrained into my life that I can’t separate it out. Technology is something I am passionate about, and to try to keep my thoughts separate from my general posts would be impossible. If I were tweeting for a business, as an employee that may or may not be there forever, then I would probably want a separate account (either the hired gun tweeter or the business.) Since my career is going to be focused on technology regardless of where I work, I don’t maintain separate accounts.

And, again, it all comes back to “the internet is real life.” The people who OVER-share/promote/complain are probably the same people in your office doing the same thing with detailed visits of a doctor appointment/party catalogs in your mailbox/whining about the boss, it’s just that in a social network, it’s much more public, and it’s magnified with that publicity.  We all have people that rant about politics in our real life, or we all have people that are really passionate about their career or product and so it ends up peppering a real-life conversation. Just know that what you’re saying — online and off — impacts others’ opinions of you or your brand.