(un) Acceptable spam

We all hate spam don’t we? Don’t we?

Just like all of the junk mail that drops through our letter box at home, the spam we receive in our email inbox and the spurious comments made on our blogs, fill us with a mild annoyance. 

The junk mail goes in the bin and the spam gets deleted – it’s just a short time out of our lives, but time with which we could very well be doing something more useful. Or, at the very least – time which the spam sender has stolen that we might otherwise count as ‘our time’.

But what about those emails we all get from the likes of Amazon (please rate your recent purchase) or Linked-In (such and such a ‘friend’ wants to ..)? They are spam too you know! Unlike (e.g.) Martin’s Money Tips and Tesco, I haven’t specifically asked Amazon or Linked-In to send me emails (often on a daily basis), their emails are uninvited.

However, I play the game by deleting about 50% of their emails and responding to the rest.

But no more!

Amazon recently asked me to rate an earlier purchase – fair enough. This would be one of the latter 50%, where I played the ‘social’ game. I was asked to tick a ‘star’ list on the email and instead of just accepting my choices there and then it took me off to a page on the Amazon web site. Here there were a series of questions to be star-scored 1-5: Again, fair enough.

But then there was also a comment box and it wouldn’t let me leave the page without making a comment. Being fair for the final time: I didn’t want to leave a comment, that would be a minute of my time too much – and at the end of the day, given that I’d given each of the previous four questions a (5) = ‘brilliant’, it would only be blowing more smoke up the vendor’s arse – which I have no wish to do. They, the vendors, don’t really concern me that much – they are shopkeepers, no more than that, I don’t write to W.H.Smith (M&S, Boots, Poundland etc.) and tell them they are wonderful – why should I do that for someone who sells me stuff through Amazon.

Linked-In are always sending emails telling me that such and such a person wants me to be their friend – but then when I click yes I’m taken to the web site where another five minutes of my time is wasted trying to see the relevance of the aforesaid email. STOP. I’ll visit the site and tidy up my contacts etc. when I feel like it!

And finally, when did the science behind advertising change from; ‘annoy the customer and they will not buy’ – to – ‘annoy the customer and they are sure to buy’? 

Why do the web robots think that because you searched for something back in 2011, bought that thing, did that thing and blogged about it in 2012, that you might never have heard of it? The Coeur de France is all over my laptop like a rash! Everything I open on the ‘net has an advert for them. STOP, I’ve been.  The same with Amazon (again), why do they advertise (via spam emails) the same thing I bought last week, as if I’d never seen it/them? STOP.

(oh and I’m now getting adverts for Gites in France that I’ve already seen – )

Picture credit (Tin of Spam) – http://www.flickr.com/photos/ajc1/519906069/ [Thanks for using creative commons]

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How big is the web?

It never fails to surprise me how much bigger the web has got every time I look at it.

I use the web for all sorts of things, but mostly to see how its many features might help learners to learn and teachers to teach. I try to work from a position of ‘what is it about THIS site that can/could/will enhance the learning process?’ I deliver workshops that underpin this basic use, but at some point during each workshop, I tend to realise that there is such a lot more that could be effectively used. This week’s workshop in Fareham, for the RSC-SE was no exception.

Over summer, I’d been commissioned to build a Web 2.0 Moodle ‘course’ that informed practitioners and managers about the benefits that Web 2.0 could bring. This had been a huge undertaking, which resulted in five Moodle sites, each one dealing with a different aspect of basic use. As far as I know, this course, and others built over the summer, are being launched at the JISC Advance RSC-SE ‘e’ Fair.

My Fareham workshop had been arranged to introduce the Moodle sites and to try out the staff development exercises that each course possesses. The five pages had evolved as I began to map out exactly what we could do with Web 2.0. Throughout my development, I tried to underpin the course with three core Web 2.0 uses: communication, collaboration and sharing. With these three as my bedrock, I expanded into five main themes: Web 2.0 overview; Blogs, Wikis and Microblogs; Creation; Storage; Social Networking. Each section of the site contains information, advice, lists of sites and services and case studies. Some features, such as Xtranormal and Screenr, are modelled as a matter of course.

I’m really proud of the work and hope that the sites are successfully employed all over the south-east. My remit was to make the course downloadable by institutions, and as a result there is no built-in requirement to use forums etc., or any form of assessment, as these would need to be set up locally. Nevertheless, even as they stand, the five pages are a powerful collection of Web 2.0 I.A.G.

So, back to Fareham: I had to combine ‘storage’ and ‘creation’ as each of these is a huge subject and needs more time to complete than we had available. This, the third session of the day, was less successful then it could have been due to difficulties with the Internet connection but it wasn’t until the final session, Social Networking, that it occurred to me that rather than modelling the Moodle staff development activities, we could have done more exploration of what’s out there and discussed usage. To fill in time lost earlier, I showed iPadio and Screenr to the group and was immediately blasted with lots of ideas for use (whereas creating media and uploading to YouTube and Flickr had not rung any bells).

And there hangs my question: what else could I have demonstrated? What else would have rung their bells and got them excited about Web 2.0 use, whether it be storage, creation or whatever?

What might I have missed when building the Moodle course?