Storing Social Media Posts for Later

When I’m racing around online and want to keep something to read or re-read later, I often save it to Instapaper. But that’s historically been a less-than-enjoyable process when needing to grab a post/tweet. And saving anything off Instagram? Forget it…or resort to hoping you can save it to Pinterest. (I don’t know about anyone else, but the copy and post option works about half the time for me.)

But over the last few weeks, we’ve gained the ability to save posts for later within the app itself without leaving the app. Yes, we have to remember we saved something and go deal with it, but I’ve made it part of my habits and it’s proven a good way to grab something to read or use later (often landing in Instapaper once I decide it’s useful).

So…saving something for later on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram…by platform.

Facebook

You’ve seen people admitting their leaving a comment solely so they can find the post later. (Those commenting, “Following”, may want the notifications, but if not…pay attention.) In the upper right hand corner of every Facebook post are three little dots. When you click on those dots, a menu drops down, offering you several contextual choices, including “Save [media]”. When you select this option, Facebook stores the link/video/etc along with the source post to a folder in your sidebar labeled “Saved”. When you’re done, you can close the item in the Saved folder and it will remove itself from the folder.

No more “Following”. Got it. Cool.

Twitter

After years of being very frustrating on this point, Twitter has finally given us a bookmark feature…on the app. The website doesn’t connect at all with this feature, but I’m hopeful it will catch up. Using this feature has been a little counterintuitive for me. In the row of buttons under the tweet, click on the Share button. (On my phone, it looks like <. On yours, it may look like an inbox.) A menu appears with an option to share to Bookmarks, which you then access by going to Bookmarks in the app menu. When you’re done with the bookmark, you click on the Share button on the post and select the option to remove the bookmark.

Instagram

This one is also somewhat recent, but each post on Instagram has buttons under the picture. One of them looks like a little banner. Click on it, and you can either be done or you can add the picture to a collection (because you can curate private collections on Instagram). To access these images, go to your profile and click on the little banner below your bio. Every image you’ve saved will be sitting there in the grid format Instagram is famous for. To unsave the image, you can just click on the little banner again. What’s really nice about saving posts on Instagram is that you can access them from the website (when it’s working), unlike Twitter.

There you go. Saving posts on three major social networks. Feel free to come back to this post eight months from now and point and laugh. (I do that sometimes to my older posts that are now nothing but an archive of deprecated tech.)

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Why We Start With History

It’s been my experience as a teacher, trainer, and student that learners (especially as they get older) hate the first few days of any class because they have to sit through the history lesson that invariably starts off any type of class, training, or orientation.

But the problem is: Virtually no industry or topic exists in a vacuum. It doesn’t come into being the moment the learner decides they want to get into the industry or learn about the topic. (And we’ll be kind enough to not get into what that mindset says about the learner.) Things happen. Inventions happen that change the industry/topic. Conventions adapt to a changing time or shifts on cultural perspectives. People impact the industry/topic in significant ways.

These changes help shape the industry/topic into what it is when the learner steps into the stream. And it can be useful to learn about them because it can often show where the industry/topic has been, what’s important to it, and what struggles it has been through, creating a starting point for conversations on current issues, struggles, and developments in the industry/topic that have less chance of repeating history or reinventing already failed wheels.

It’s a rooting in the industry/topic, and committing to learning it at even a surface level shows the learner’s level of commitment to the industry/topic itself.

This is especially important for autodidacts (self-directed learners), who must find these historical resources on their own, and again says volumes about the learner who actually takes their own time to learn about the industry/topic they are getting involved with. Even if they don’t root themself until they’ve been working on their skill development for a while. Taking the time, making the effort, can help the learner avoid putting their foot into something the industry/topic consider taboo or just downright unwanted.

And then the class moves on to the basics. Even if it’s just a review or the teacher checking for where the class is in general, the learners get antsy all over again.

The Power of Transferable Skills

One of the scariest moments we can face in life is changing what we do. Maybe it’s just thinking about taking up a hobby outside our comfort zone. Maybe it’s exploring new career directions. But so many people get to this point, panic, and run away. Not because they can’t do it, but because they’re afraid of starting over, of being the new face in the room, complete with the lack of knowledge that comes with beginning a new path.

But the funny thing is, if you’ve had any sort of life experience, the chances are good you aren’t starting from scratch. The skills and knowledge you learned and mastered in earlier periods of your life don’t magically disappear when you start on a new path. You an completely change paths, and those skills remain useful. In fact, working with those skills in a new setting can help you develop a deeper, more masterful understanding of the skills. This is actually a critical part of education. Touching on a skill in a variety of settings, even subconsciously, helps strengthen it. Allowing a skill to percolate in our head, can often embed it in our head to come out at the most unexpected moment later on.

This is part of why having a meandering background isn’t as disastrous as some would have you believe. Skills that came from stops along a disjointed path can blend in the most unexpectedly helpful ways later on, without us even realizing it. Skills you were forced to practice, that you were absolutely positive would never show up again, can become the one skill you need to make a new path easier to move forward on.

This is why it’s important to go out and try things, and to actually do them yourself or stand as close to them as you can while they’re happening. That exposure is a key step in your learning, and can actually serve you well as you pursue your various interests.

Audiobooks and Literacy

There’s been a disturbance in reading circles lately over whether or not audiobooks count as “real reading”.

And I, a former teacher and current narrator, have some thoughts on the matter…and a pretty low opinion of those claiming audiobooks aren’t real reading.

Once upon a time, I taught for several years in a K-12 learning center, where it wasn’t unusual to find reluctant readers among the fifth grade though eighth grade crowd. Some of them were wrestling with learning or physical disabilities that made just focusing on what they were reading difficult, and it didn’t feel like it was worth the fight to them when they could see other kids reading the material quickly. Some of them were still working on comprehension skills, and felt “stupid” because they could read all the words but couldn’t make them make sense.

So they gave up.

While we recommended many of these kids explore graphic novels that targeted either their age group or one group lower, there were some kids who benefited from switching over to audiobooks. And really, it should have occurred to us sooner, because we used listening center methodology common to kindergarten classrooms in our own younger reading programs. For these older kids, they could find and load the audiobook that matched the book their class was reading onto their phone, and then it just looked like they were reading while listening to music when they were really reading along (because they often were trying to hide their struggles).

This workaround helped these kids build and strengthen their reading comprehension skills, ultimately doing better in their English classes as they were better able to understand and work with the material. That’s pretty compelling evidence that listening to a book is “real” reading.

But consider this: When I finally decided to give voiceover a try, I started at the Washington Talking Book & Braille Library, and I’m reaching out to Learning Ally as soon as my schedule permits. Both are dedicated to making textual materials, including educational materials, available to those with vision-related disabilities. And then there are radio reading services, who among their services read newspapers, ads and all, to an audience composed of people with vision-related disabilities who benefit from the service.

This is where I lose my patience with people who look down their nose at audiobooks as quality reading experiences. Actually, this is where I hope those people have perfect eyesight every day of their life and never have to consider alternate ways to read. Or where I ask if those same people think reading Braille is not “real” reading…because it’s pretty much the same situation. Not everyone has perfect eyesight, or eyesight that can be adjusted through medical means (because that’s what glasses are) , and they still read…be it books, magazines…for pleasure, for work, for learning…through whatever means they can get their hands on. If you dismiss this whole group of people who read through other means, for whatever reason, it actually indicates that you’re an ableist, someone can only empathize with the needs of people in absolutely perfect health.

Bottom line: There are a lot of people, in every single demographic, who benefit from audiobooks for a wide variety of reasons. That doesn’t make them lesser readers. It doesn’t make those who look down on them the literary elite. And maybe it’s time to accept that reading is reading, regardless of how it takes place.

Productively Managing Jealousy

We’ve all been there. We’re working on a craft, learning, practicing, and trying to reap some sort of benefit from all that hard work…only to watch others get noticed. Get the role. Get the contract. Get the acknowledgement. And sometimes, it keeps happening. It’s rough to watch and keep your own spirits up.

Some people hit this point and start blaming others for why they themselves aren’t getting where they want to be. It’s someone else’s fault you aren’t getting roles. The other person engaged in some insidious behavior to get whatever it was they got that you wanted, and you didn’t because you would never stoop to that level. The person doesn’t want it as badly as you did. The people making the decisions (who may or may not have ever heard of you) hate you because they know you’re so much better than them. Or even better, they sometimes transfer their anger. The other person needs to stop succeeding because it’s making you look or feel bad.

What’s really going on is that you are feeling jealous. And jealousy can be a fairly evil emotion. It’s certainly one of the more irrational ones. As in, it whispers irrational lies in your head, until you do something completely stupid and irrational, destroying things that were important to you. But it’s okay, jealousy tells you, because it’s always someone else’s fault.

Let’s make something clear right now: Your jealousy, and any actions resulting from it, are never somebody else’s fault. Your actions are always your own doing, your own choices. Get that into your head right now, because it’s going to make the rest of this easier.

Jealousy happens. No matter how nice of a person you are, there will come a day when jealousy will sidle up to you and tell you someone else deserves to have a cake dropped on their head because you didn’t get what you wanted, what you had been working toward. It’s startling natural, can look like a friendly voice, and can have some pretty negative consequences. But it doesn’t have to. It’s how you choose to respond to your jealousy that makes it a bad thing. If you act out maliciously against the reason you’re feeling jealous (because remember, the jealousy has told you it’s their fault you’re feeling this way), you’re doing it wrong and headed for trouble. If you stop for a moment and ask yourself why you’re feeling jealous, you just might learn something important about yourself.

Interrogating your jealousy can have a number of positive consequences. It can help you identify skills you’d like to learn or practice more. It can help you verbalize a challenge or obstacle you’re struggling with, giving you a better chance to confront and conquer that challenge/obstacle. It can help you verbalize a goal you maybe hadn’t been able to wrap your mind around before. It might even help you identify something you’ve been holding on to and help you release it. If you’re smart about it, you can actually use your jealousy to help you grow and improve in your craft and to help you find and focus on your goals.

So, the next time you find yourself upset at another person who’s just sitting there minding their own business, ask yourself what’s really bothering you. The answer might just surprise you, make you better at your craft, and save you within your industry or community of practice.

Participating in a Hashtag Community

Recently, we looked at participating in Facebook communities as part of our learning network. Other social media platforms are important to building your learning network, too, but not all of them offer a way to gather together easily. That’s where hashtags often come in. It’s easier to gather people on Twitter and Instagram around an event- or interest-related hashtag, and there are communities that make great use of them.

I’m part of a couple of hashtag communities on Instagram. One of them is led by a user with a crazy awesome level of understanding of how hashtags work and how to make them work. The overall community has a hashtag, and then each weekly challenge has a hashtag related to the community hashtag. So through the first, we can find everyone’s post in the community, and through the second we can find everyone’s posts related to a challenge. It’s great!

Another of these hashtag communities…has all but left Instagram for a Facebook community over the last year. (And it’s funny to watch those who recently joined the Facebook community start discussing moving over to Instagram.) The community centers around a series of daily challenges, organized by month, where the challenge’s name is the hashtag. At first, things went well. But then people who were practicing a similar craft, but didn’t understand that particular hashtag went to a particular activity, started using the hashtag. And they did it on all of their posts, regardless of what that picture was.  So the community altered their hashtag slightly in an effort to make the hashtag’s intended audience clear, but the same people jumped on that hashtag as well. The hashtag has effectively been ruined on Instagram by people who couldn’t be bothered to learn what a hashtag is, or what hashtags were relevant (or in this case, off limits) to their own work.

If you’ve read my Facebook post, you already know where this is going.

When you use an event- or interest-related hashtag for posts that have nothing to do with the event or interest, you’re hijacking the hashtag. And hijacking hashtags doesn’t help anybody, the hijacker least of all. Some hashtag hijackers are just trolls, out to ruin other people’s fun because they have no skills or interests to focus their time on. But others do it because they’ve decided the best way to show off their skills is to blast it out to anyone who might have even the tiniest possible interest in their work. I can think of people I will never follow (and in some cases have blocked) on Twitter and Instagram because they engaged in hashtag hijacking trying to get their posts more widely seen. I’ve even been known to mark posts as spam because they hijacked a hashtag.

So…if you are thinking about using a hashtag (and used correctly, they’re a great tool for meeting and interacting with people…or for just getting your snark on), research the hashtag first. Make sure your post will contribute to the discussion going on in that hashtag, or fit in with whatever is being showcased. Don’t just throw on a hashtag in the hopes you’ll gain exposure, because you will gain the wrong kind of exposure and might find yourself shut out or ignored.

Participating in a Facebook Community

One of the things I like to talk about around here (when I talk at all *wink*) is the importance of communities of practice. These are groups that come together to learn, practice, and share information around a given topic or skill. And one of the easier ways to accomplish this is to join related Facebook groups (unless you’re one of those who has decided Facebook is not for them, and that’s perfectly fine. You may not gain much from this post.) I’ve been joining a fair few groups lately, some related to my professional interests, some related to personal interests. Meeting a new group of like-minded people can be pretty exciting, but there are some things to be aware of to make the experience smoother.

Communities have the ability to lay out guidelines, and many of them take advantage of this feature. On the website, these guidelines will be in a box in the sidebar or on the About tab. On the app, there will be a link to them just below the cover image. Some communities prefer to use a Pinned post, so look at the top of the community. It’s your responsibility to find and familiarize yourself with the community’s rules. Some communities have little to no tolerance for those who cannot be bothered to read the rules and abide by them.

Once you’ve read the guidelines, take a few minutes to skim the group and see what people typically post. If the majority of posts are of one type (text, for example), do not think you are being clever posting a different type because you want to stand out. It’s quite possible the community makes the type of posts it does for a reason. If you see no self-promotion posts, do not think you will be clever for doing it first. There’s probably a reason why you aren’t seeing those posts (possibly laid out in the guidelines? *wink wink*).

If you don’t see any “Thanks for adding me” posts, do not think you will be clever by being the first. If you really, truly are incapable of stopping yourself from writing a nonsubstantive “Thanks for adding me” post, see if the community has an Introduction thread. Many do in an attempt to curb those pointless posts, and your comment will cause the post to pop up in the community, allowing existing members to know you’re there and what you have to offer as a member of the group. (Also, seek help…and maybe three or four hobbies. Because, honey, if you are that desperate to be seen and think it’s acceptable to only be seen by taking up space pointlessly, you have issues.)

Once you’ve read the guidelines and familiarized yourself with the content expected from community members, it’s time to write your first post. Think about why you joined the group, what you’re hoping to gain from the group, and then write a post that reflects that. In other words, add value to the group. Make sure your post conforms with the community guidelines, and ask yourself if your post is relevant. If it fails either condition, maybe don’t write the post. And if you’re posting just to post in a community, you’re probably doing it wrong.

Facebook communities can be a great asset to your learning and skill development, but it’s important to do your part to be an asset to the community.