Two sweet social media icon sets you can use in your next project

If you are looking for some great social media icons, let me recommend two names. You might also want to follow them on Twitter, Dribbble and what not.

Gedy Rivera

Gedy Rivera’s absolutely stunning 155 vector and custom shape social media icons are amazing! This vectorised icon goodness, available in EPS, CSH and SVG formats, will not let you down. You can use the icons for both personal and commercial projects, and you get free updates.

Buy Gedy Rivera’s social media icons for only 5 dollars here.

Rogie King

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Rogie King’s basic social media icons are similar to Gedy’s and are just as sweet! You can pick any variant you like of the basic flat icons that are optimised at 32 and 64 pixels in five different styles (circle, rounded square, square, symbol and monochrome. All files are semi-transparent PNG bitmap. In total, you get over 1100 icons, and you can try out some free icons before you purchase the whole set, too!

Buy Rogie King’s social media icons for only 5 dollars here.

Assumptions about content and context

Always readily and all too often without grounds, I assume things. For example, I assume that the readers of this blog post are proficient in the English language enough to understand what I’ve written. Some of my assumptions have been proven wrong or even plain broken before. I am certain though that I am not the only one with the experience.

One of the things I assume right now is that I can prove that you do not need to know a language to understand the meaning of a phrase. My premise is that if content is king, then his queen’s name is context. The nagging can’t-live-with-or-without-her queen. Context defines, refines and represents content in the marvelous light, just like a queen completes her king.

Here’s the example. Here are seven words in the Russian language:

Понедельник, вторник, среда, четверг, пятница, суббота, воскресенье.

Now, if you do not read or understand Russian, is there a way for you to know the meaning of these words? (Without any translation help, of course.)

What if I abbreviated the words like this? Would it give you any hint?

П.

В.

С.

Ч.

Пт.

Сб.

Вс.

Let me give you another hint. Maybe this will help?

П. 10:00-12:00

В. 9:00-12:00

С. 10:00-13:00

Ч. 8:00-11:00

Пт. 9:00-11:00

Сб. закрыто

Вс. закрыто

The seven words and their abbreviations as content did not change their meaings. Just like the fact of king being king that does not change whether you know it or not. At first, the content was empty to you, provided you were not familiar with it. The meaning of the seven words could not produce any effect.

Not so if you add some context adorning its neck. What changed throughout the three parts of my example was context. It brings out the beauty of content and makes you connect with the king on a new level.

You might argue that the assumption I made (that I could prove you did not need to know the language to understand what a phrase meant) was lame: take a word or phrase in a language you don’t know, and you are left with an appliance without a manual – you can guess what it’s for, but if you’ve never used it before, it’s to no benefit for you. Absolutely, that’s exactly what my point is. Without knowing what an axe is for, you can end up using it for the wrong purpose – cooking an axe soup or porridge will ruin your axe and leave your stomach empty.

Yes, I assume things. I do, because assumptions help me stop treading water and move on. They enable me to glance past the used-to, mundane and common-place. I believe using assumptions as a tool is legitimate – however, throwing them as a spanner in the works isn’t.

Customer relationship: availability

Say you post on a Facebook page of a business or a government organisation or @-mention them on Twitter. How long do you expect it can pass until you receive a reply from them? Are your expectations different if instead of contacting them on social networks you e-mail them?

I’ve found that businesses and organisations, on their venture to provide their customers with exceptional service, tend to send contact-us-between-8-and-17 signals across their social network profiles. They have set hours that they want to be expected to be available on the social networks.

Whether this strategy is something that serves the interests of the customers and public is arguable. The nature of social networks is fast. Speed and relevancy are never to underestimate in the relationship with your customers. If you know your customers are prone to contact you between 17:00 and 18:00, but you make a conscious choice not to serve them after 17:00, you should better have very good reasons for your actions (or rather inactivity).

Another aspect of the nature of social networks is that they are interactive. So, neither is dialogue to underestimate when it comes to customer service and experience. Take note of the behaviour your customers exhibit. Come to an agreement as to what works best for both your organisation and them.

Your customers are in for a relationship, make the most of it. Do not be afraid to show that things might have been going too fast, and that you wish to slow down. If you aren’t ready to take things further and at the same time are sincere about your motives, you might have a future with your customers.

On the other hand, if you are indeed ready to move past the acquaintance stage and on to the first base (I might be pushing this relationship metaphor too far, but bear with me) with your customers, be honest about why you choose to make yourself available in the evenings and on the weekends. Only make sure beforehand that you both are running the same race at the same pace.

Conversation with Seth Godin

Last week, the inspiring Blaine Hogan interviewed/talked to Seth Godin, an entrepreneur, respected author and public speaker. The interview is broken up in three parts that are available as videos on Hogan’s website:

Here, I reflect on some of my favourite quotes from their conversation, all Godin’s (no offence, Blaine).

Art is doing human work that’s never been done before in a way that connects people, with generosity.

We are taught to think in a certain way. Seth Godin challenges us to shift the perspective:

[People] would rather complain about the box they are in than acknowledge the fact that someone just took the lid off the box. And it’s up to them to get out of it if they want.

In a world where you pursue status and higher score, this is a breath of fresh air:

A great blog post isn’t a blog post that gets retweeted a lot. A blog post is a great blog post, ‘cause someone – just one person – felt a genuine connection to what I said.

Implication: I’m not using the #blogg100 challenge to gain popularity or score higher on Klout. I’m learning to write, learning to think and learning to connect. If anyone finds it valuable, I’m happy. #blogg100 is a chance I took and am taking daily. Should any of my blog posts not hit home or should I fail never posting a set of 100 blog posts, hey, at least I’ve tried.

Here’s what Seth Godin thinks of the modern Olympics and how they contrast to the original (not the first modern games in 1896, but the ancient competition from 776 BC to AD 393):

The original Olympic ideal of amateurs just expressing themselves through physical activity has been replaced by this corporate coached measured drug-enhanced processing of human activity.

On commitment, diligence, persistence: grit is what every “artist” should have an inclination to.

Grit is perseverance, determination and not settling. Steve Jobs didn’t design anything, and he didn’t invent anything. He had the grit to, when he saw that something was right, make sure it stayed right. He didn’t compromise it, it shipped. Great artists ship.

Memories and experience

Recently, my wife and I started writing down words and phrases our almost-three-year-old daughter says. We often laugh at how sweet she sounds when she pronounces words we all use every day. Sometimes, she surprises us though by saying a word we know we’ve never explicitly taught her. We hurry as we jot down the date of her saying the word and us hearing it for the first time.

Which got me thinking. My human body is limited by time. I can only perceive and describe reality from one perspective – the present. What has happened to me is duller by every second that passes, and what will happen to me is, ultimately, unclear. Who I am today, therefore, is the best representation of what can be defined as my true self. I might be at peace with this representation, and I might not.

I’ve heard that the shape of a human ear is unique to every person, which does not change with age. Whether it is true or not I don’t know. What I do know is that what makes me most definitely unique is my experience and my memories.

Sure, I can take photos, record voice notes, publish video messages or send e-mails to my descendants in an attempt to preserve my memories of those near and dear to me. These are good ways, but do not underestimate the power of “showing” compared to “telling”. I am persuaded that sharing my memories with others in a way that they become part of their own experience is the best way of preserving them.

Pocket – a smart way to consume content, later

I usually stumble across an interesting article, a recommended video or an animated gif everyone talks about at a time that is too busy or in a place that is inconvenient. Pocket lets me save stuff to read it later.

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Here’s what I love most about this miracle of an app (yes, I’ve come to love it).

Pocket works on many devices

Pocket works on a wide variety of devices (I use it on my desktop computer, laptop and smartphone). If I save an item for later consuming on one device, I can pick it up almost instantly on another.

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Pocket has an article view and a web view

Pocket is an app that evolved from Read It Later. And when they claim to be the best way you read things later, they mean it. Say you saved a blog post to your Pocket. Are you interested in archive links in the sidebar or navigation bar of the blog? Most probably not. In the “article view”, Pocket shows your the relevant blog post text, omitting the rest. Handy? Certainly.

Should you want to see the context of a web page the blog post originally appeared on, no problem. Just switch to the web view and enjoy. Handy? You bet!

Share what you’re reading from inside the app

Pocket lets you share what you’re reading or what you’ve read from inside the app. You can e-mail an article, share it on Twitter, Facebook or Evernote. When I read several articles in a row and want to share them with the world, share-to-Buffer feature helps me spread out my reading tips during the day.

Introducing Pocket is a video from Pocket on Vimeo.

If you haven’t used Pocket before, go to getpocket.com, give it a spin and tell me what you think, either by commenting below or mentioning @clartem on Twitter.

Empowerment is the function of media

I often find myself enveloped by media, a medium, instead of the consequence I can achieve by it as an instrument. I think, maybe, forgetting what social or digital media really are isn’t inherent to me alone.

When I talk about social or digital media, I prefer omitting the synthetically descriptive “social” and “digital”, mostly because I believe both adjectives limit the idea of what a medium is. Previously, I wrote about conversation and interactions being key components of our usage of media.

Recently, I was reminded of how the digital era we live in has impacted human race. Technology has clearer than any other process made a point of bringing about the notion of human race as a unit, a oneness. Media has brought us closer, making it possible for human communication and interaction to transcend the boundaries of room, and, in a sense, even time.

All media are a means, a method, a mechanism that isn’t an end in itself. They serve a higher purpose. The function of media is to make sure humans come together. Their mission is to to see it through that we connect, to empower us for interaction.

And that is what I’ve found I need an almost daily reminder of. That it is the connection that is of greater value and interaction that has a meaning, not the consumption and production of material, which mark a good part of my days.

A reminder that when a medium becomes more precious than what it helps me gain, my focus has shifted and priorities have skewed. And that media is only there to empower me to experience the fellowship of a community and the intimacy of a family.

Acronyms and context

There’s something about shortening of words that makes my heart beat faster. The subgroups of abbreviation, (grammatical) contractions and acronyms, aren’t less of a trigger for my linguistically inclined mind to reel. Isn’t our language more beautiful with morpheme likes of Ms, Blvd, Interpol and HTML?

Definitions first. Abbreviation is a shortening of a word by any kind of means. Contraction is omitting some of the letters or syllables and drawing together other parts of a word (Ms, Dr, let’s, o’clock). Acronym is a shortening of a phrase formed by the initial components in a phrase or a word (HTML, AD, NATO).

If used correctly, or rather consequently and in a mindful manner, abbreviations are a powerful tool in both written and spoken communication. All too often, I come across problematic usage of abbreviations in texts. Usually, it’s acronyms that get misused.

The most obvious, and unfortunately most common, problem I see is using acronyms without providing any context for your readers. It results in segregation – though your text is publicly available, only the “elect” understand your reference to an acronym. It would not be that big of a problem, of course, if an acronym had only one meaning and it could easily be found an online acronym finder.

So, please, provide some context the next time you decide to use an acronym. Don’t assume your readers are familiar with your subject as much as you are. I assure you, the results will definitely be greater than the effort you put into making your message clear (IMHO).

Why I’m not a hummingbird when I come to your site

I am constantly amazed at how people are watchful, vigilant even, of me as a visitor to their sites. Their wary eyes observe every single step I take, as soon as I land on their territory. They keep quiet, uncertain, relishing my first appearance. They try to get to know me, my habits, my temper, my drive. They are always looking for the answer to the Question, gnawing at their stats. How can we make him stay longer?

Now let me tell you, I’m not a hummingbird you can scare off by a feather. I’m a scar-faced war-beaten flesh-starved nubian vulture, for goodness’ sake. I know what I want, and if you don’t have it, I’m out of here. I’m not going to amble around your green pastures looking for my prey. No honey and milk can make me stay, when all I want is raw meat and blood.

Here’s a perspective. When you meet a person for the first time, you don’t start by asking them to answer a couple of questions about yourself. Then why are you popping a web survey up before I had a decent chance of taking a look at your stuff?

And here’s the news. If you want me to stay longer, be prepared to sacrifice time and effort. You may know the length and strength of my carnivorous beak, but if you don’t know my personality, how will you ever make your stuff attractive? Say hi. Get to know me. Contribute to the relationship. And maybe, one day, I’ll eat your vapid sprigs or twigs, thinking I’ve been a hummingbird all along.