Both time and space have been conquered by the Internet.
We here at Grannelle loathe and abhor self-promotion, but we never mind when someone else lauds our efforts (go figure). I therefore take great pleasure in presenting a guest posted blog: An interview with Gregory Stringer, written by Leanna Francis, bi-linguist, educator, and journalist; a digital age triple threat. It was originally published in Leanna’s journ65 blog. My own remarks are contained within <em> and </em> tags (italics for you lay folk, and assorted Social Media professional wannabes). Without further ado, let’s hear from Leanna:
An interview with Gregory Stringer
Gregory Stringer is working night and day trying to understand the ins and outs of social media as well as he can so as to reach his goal of being an e-commerce specialist. What he is doing is largely only possible because of the power of social media, because he is actually doing what he wants to do and building a strong online social and business network to take him towards his goals. Gregory is studying for his real degrees, but is also earning his own degrees in social media and internet negotiation. (For those of you in the class who don’t know, Stringer is not a classmate, he is auditing the class for scholarly purposes.)
Read his blog; it’s hilarious (Thank you, Leanna! I’ve often thought so, but then…) and you’ll learn something no matter what level of internet proficiency you have: https://gregorystringer.wordpress.com/
I was lucky enough to get an interview with him; what follows is that interview.
1. I heard you’re working around the clock online without getting a salary for it. Why and how do you persevere?
Whenever I find something I’m passionate about, I throw myself into it heart and soul. I’ve done this with other activities in my life – respiratory care, performance magic, and now Social Media. Each of these has brought me a great deal of enjoyment; you might say they’ve all been labors of love. The former two required that I be a particular place and time, but with Social Media I can engage from the comfort of my home. Since I sleep very little (approximately 3 hrs. out of a day), I sit at my workstation, read, and post.
2. What started you on this journey with social media?
I was taking a class in communications technology as part of the Web design major where I go to school (Pellissippi State Community College in Knoxville, TN). My professor, Walt Reedy, happened to mention a course on Lynda.com on Social Media marketing. Since I had already started a blog (which at that time was called “Gregory’s Rants”), it seemed a natural outgrowth. I joined Twitter, LinkedIn (where I met one of my most important mentors, Shari Weiss), and changed both the focus and name of the blog: Grannelle’s Social Media.
3. Explain Grannelle. What inspired you to create it and what are your hopes for it?
My son, Rusty, my wife, Annelle (Rusty’s stepmom), and I are all three students. Rusty is working towards an IT (networking) degree, Nelle is a natural at Web development/design, and I am in the process of moving my major into the marketing department. Taking each of our specialties together, it seemed only natural and logical to combine them into a company that would offer eCommerce outsourcing to small, local businesses that might want to go global with their efforts. We aren’t off the ground yet, as we are all three still in school. Still, we hope that in the near future we are able to assist business owners in expanding into a world market. It doesn’t make much sense to start a business just to make a profit; better to be able to help others, and if we pocket some coin along the way, bonus. As far as the name, G stands for Gregory, R for Rusty, and Annelle.
4. What do you consider to be the first use of social media that human beings engaged in?
There’s a lot of discussion about this lately. I suppose that since Social Media includes the use of media, and that it is social in nature, it is an interactive format. Therefore, I would think SM would have its origins as a communication dimension with BBS’s (Bulletin Board Services), in the late ‘80’s and early ‘90’s. Many will argue it would have started before, with dating services, clubs, etc., but that precludes the use of media, particularly interactive media. BBS was a way that questions and answers could be crowdsourced over large geophysical areas.
5. Why do you believe there has been such an explosion of social media in the world?
Because it is so accessible. Prior to Websites like Six Degrees, Friendster, LiveJournal, and now Facebook, the only way for most people to communicate with faraway friends and relatives was long distance phone service. While cell phone service has pretty much killed that, Social Media, with its ability to post pictures and video, has buried it.
6. Once a person gets involved with social media, are they likely to use it for the rest of their lives, or do you think this is more of a cultural phase that will pass?
I remember in the early ‘90’s, the same was said of the Internet, a fad that would soon pass. To be honest, I don’t think SM’s true power has yet been realized. It is still in its infancy at this point in history, and much more has yet to be discovered. Consider the massive efforts at marketing currently taking place; major corporations are investing billions of dollars in an attempt to make SM pay off. How will the average person leverage its advantages in the days to come? So to answer your question, I’d say yes, people will continue to use it for the foreseeable future.
7. I know that you study sociology, and how this study is a can of worms that one does not close easily. How do the concepts that you have studied in sociology intersect with the way group interaction plays out within social media?
I don’t really think one can study Social Media seriously without understanding, on some level, the science of sociology. That is not to say I have anything other than a passing understanding, but I plan to study it further with classes in the coming terms. Sociology is the examination of behavior patterns, and until now there hasn’t been a better place to see these patterns in action. The seeming anonymity of the Internet has enabled even the shyest of humanity to speak with candor, and to open their truest feelings to society and the public at large. No scientist is more in a position to glean understanding about Social Media than the sociologist.
8. Who is a sociologist (Titled or armchair) whose work you respect?
I have recently started to work with, and also begin a friendship to, a fellow named Joe McCahill. Joe is the founder of Social Media Design, and has undergrad and advanced degrees in sociology. He started the group with one very important rule, no self promotion. He has thus far gathered some of the most important thought-leaders in the field, and all of them are there not to tell everyone how important they are, but rather to discuss and study Social Media from an intellectual standpoint. So far, most of the conversations there are way above my head, as anyone there without a doctorate has at least their master’s. Pretty heady stuff, to be sure. While I serve as an administrator to the group, making sure all the machinery is oiled, I feel like a mascot most of the time (I should add that I’m not made to feel that way; everyone treats me as an equal, and my contributions are respected). Still, it is a very robust learning experience for me.
9. What can we do to make sure that the globalization of trade systems does not harm people?
As with everything else in our universe, there is both good and bad to be found. My own belief is that the erasure of boundaries is one of the great positives that have been borne out of the online community. People today have a say in what is and isn’t acceptable in corporate policy because of Social Media, and they certainly don’t mind expressing their displeasure when the situation warrants; look only to the revolutions in the Mideast, and the support garnered on Twitter and Facebook. Google Maps has been instrumental in keeping everyone up to date as to when Internet service has been shut down and reactivated. The creation of a truly open world market can be of epic benefit to mankind, and perhaps the Web society will see that it is initiated and maintained in way that it does.
10. Make your own question – what is it that you most want people to know?
How do we attenuate the noise in Social Media? So much is being posted every day (YouTube has more video uploaded in a week than has been broadcast by the three major networks in their entire history) that it is difficult to know the difference in usable information and incessant babble. The process of critical thinking is more important than ever.
I’d like to express my appreciation for Leanna’s outstanding efforts. She is a consummate professional, and working with her was fulfilling.
Remember, if you liked this, please tell others! If you didn’t, well…