I just saw that my article on Enterprise Data Modeling: 7 Mistakes You Can’t Afford to Make at Information Management magazine was on their list of the Top 10 Stories of 2011. In fact, it made it to the top five stories. My friend Corey Smith ( blog | @heycorey ) then took it upon himself to ask
I’d like to know the 7 mistakes I *can* afford to make, so I can stop worrying about them?
He wasn’t specific about whether he meant in enterprise data management or not, so I’m responding in general. These are all mistakes, but one can afford to make them, in moderation.
- Peanut butter: I’m not a fan of it, especially when it’s hidden in other stuff like pretzels and vodka
- Rounding Up: Mathy people say that you should round up sometimes and round down other times. And sometimes you don’t. I say, make everyone happy and round up, right?
- Non-Alcoholic Beer: I have to say that this stuff is usually quite bad, which is why it is a mistake. But sometimes you need to have a beer and this is all they will let you drink. Like at lunch in the US or between real beers in the rest of the world.
- Twitter Grammar: 140 chars is some*s 2 short 2 say something 1derful.
- Running: What can I say? I do it, and I want to do it more. It always feels like a mistake when I start doing it. But I can afford to do more.
- Bacon: I prefer the veggie kind. Others don’t. We both feel as if the other is making a mistake. That’s okay.
- February: It’s post holiday season, it’s not really spring and hardly anyone can pronounce it correctly. But everyone has to do it.
So there you go, Corey, your list.
Everyone else, go check out my article as well as all the other Top Stories in from Information Management.
Updated with a new technique for filtering: the Global Filter. See half way down.
I tweet a lot. According to Twitter I’ve posted more than
50,000 60,000 tweets since I joined. I happen to know that Twitter lost a few thousand more last year, so yeah, I tweet a lot. I even use the phrase "avid Tweeter" in some of my bios.
Some people started following me and exchanging Tweets with me because I tweeted about NoSQL, big data, open data, open government, data modeling, normalization, databases, SQL Server, DB2, database design, data architecture, the Zachman Framework, or other data-centric topics. And then there are those who followed me because I shared information about Space Shuttle Endeavour, STS-134, Atlantis, STS-135, Juno, Ariane rockets and my attendance at various NASATweetups and SpaceTweetups. Others decided to follow me because I shared information about Technical Barbies, specifically @venusbarbie and @data_model. These girls travel with me as I attend events and meet interesting people. Others followed me as I covered live events about Toronto’s government failing local citizens. Some people have followed me because I’ve worked with them in the past, attended school with them, or met them at a family event. The point is that people follow others because they are interested in what the other person is sharing at some point in time.
Some Twitter users create many accounts and tweet only about a single subject from those accounts. They mainly broadcast information from those accounts and rarely converse with others. Think of these accounts specialized Twitter accounts. To a degree, the Technical Barbie accounts are like that. But that’s not how I use Twitter. I use Twitter to build relationships with people, to share interesting things that I come across in my travels, and to share links to stories about things I think others would be interested in. If I Tweeted only in only about one topic, I’d meet fewer interesting people and I’d discover fewer connections to a variety of people.
Someone today complained to me about the fact that I sometimes tweet or retweet posts that are not in English. They want to be protected from having to see a foreign language in their Tweet stream. Personally, I find that a bit sad, but I pointed out that they could use a feature of their Twitter client to translate foreign language Tweets into English, which I cover below. Another person complained to me because I tweet on topics other than data. I’m not sure what to do with those complaints because I’m not just an English Data Robot. I think that sound incredibly boring, too. However, I have met a non-trivial number of data-space-government people who share an awful lot of similar interests as I do. In fact, some of us are planning a NASASpaceSQLPASSTweetup in the near future.
Having said all that, I do recognize that not everyone is interested in all the things I’m interested. I’m pretty sure my spacetweeps generally don’t care about normalizations and that my data friends don’t want to see more than one or two astronaut photos a year. You do want to see at least that much, right? That’s why the Twitterverse invented some nifty features and approaches to allow people to manage some of the overload of Tweets coming their way.
Hashtags aren’t an official part of Twitter, but early on Twitter users realized that they need a way of tagging and filtering the fire hose of Tweets in their stream. When I attend events, I try to use a hashtag to add some useful meta data to my Tweets. This tagging allows follower to do a few things:
- Find Tweets from the event, even from people they don’t follow
- Filter out tweets they don’t want to even see
- Archive or repost Tweets someplace else about one topic.
Last week I was a-Twittering like crazy, as were 59 other Twitter users, at #SpaceTweetup, an invitation-only event hosted by the European Space Agency in Cologne Germany. There was indeed a fire hose of information coming at us and we were making ourselves busy by posting photos, videos, and messages about all we were seeing and doing. Most of use included the word #SpaceTweetup in our messages so that we could easily see what others were sharing on Twitter. If you had an interest in space, this was a treasure trove of AWESOME stuff about ESA and their missions. Plus astronauts — lots and lots of astronauts. If your attitude about space stops at Tang and space pens, then this hashtag could have been your friend as well. Almost all Twitter clients have a way to filter out tweets from a specific person or with a specific word. I primarily use Tweetdeck as my Twitter client, so the examples below are from there. If your client doesn’t have a similar feature I suggest you find a client that does.
The button with the downward arrow is the column filter button in Tweetdeck. It allows you to include or exclude Tweets within a column based on criteria you supply. You can choose to filter on accounts, text, the source, or time of day.
To filter in or out content, use the plus sign or the minus sign. For filtering out Tweets with certain hashtags, you’d want to choose TEXT from the first field, then the minus sign from the second, then fill in the hashtag in the third. Let’s say for some crazy, crazy reason you didn’t want to see any Tweets about #spacetweetup:
The above is what your filter setup would look like: TEXT – spacetweetup.
From that point on, you just wouldn’t see any tweets that had that word, spelled exactly that way, in that column. If someone is on a rant (Who, me?) and you just want to temporarily stop seeing all her Tweets, you could use the Name field plus her Twitter ID to filter out her rants for a while. Once the coast is clear, you could just click on the X to remove the filter.
Of course, if you really, really need to see tweets only containing a certain phrase, you’d set up an inclusive filter and you’d see only Tweets containing that one phrase.
Our blog uses categories on posts. You can use these similarly to hashtags to find posts on a single topic or to filter out posts on topics you don’t want to read about. How you do this is dependent on your RSS feed reader. I’ll try to put together a post with one example soon.
New: Global Filter
In addition to the column filters, you can add a global filter to Tweetdeck to stop all tweets meeting certain criteria.
Here you can put words like NASATweetup, or runmeter (my running application) and you’ll never see them again in any column. You can also hide users, but I’m not sure why you’d want to do that rather than just unfollow someone. I guess perhaps if you wanted to give the appearance of following someone while not having to see their Tweets. I still recommend you just unfollow them, though.
The From Sources criterion would let you block things like Tweets from Foursquare if you feel they are useless or silly.
For my friend who complained about my non-English Tweets I told him to use the Translate feature of his Twitter client to do the heavy lifting of participating in the conversations I was having and retweeting. Unfortunately for him, he decided that this was too much work, so he still wanted me to stop my non-English Tweets. I can’t help him. But you have the magic right in front of you to be part of the global community.
Here’s a sample Tweet coming from ESA Italia and it’s in…wait for it…Italian.
I could make a decent guess at what it says, but instead, I just go to the Translate feature of Tweetdeck to see what it does say:
And what do you know, it isn’t a Tweet about fat attractive alien pasta, but a Tweet about photos taken with 3D glasses:
My anti-multi-lingual friend feels that all of Twitter should be in English or stay the heck away from his Twitter stream. And you know what? He can work on doing that by not following people who share in multiple languages, which is what he chose to do.
Saying Sayonara When None of That Works
How do I know my two friends chose not to use these features? Because they chose to tell me they thought my Tweets were not meeting their needs and they needed to let me know they were unfollowing me. The great thing about Twitter is that it isn’t a friend model, like Facebook where both parties need to agree to be BFFs in order to see each other’s posts. Twitter works on following model: you follow people and they may or may not follow back. So you can unfollow people without affecting them at all. It’s poor etiquette to announce your unfollows. If you have good friends and you want to let them know you think their inadvertent crotch pics are starting to look intentional, then by all means contact them to ask if they need a new phone case or some intervention. But announcing that you are leaving is not cool. I keep using the cocktail party analogy to explain Twitter. If you were at a gathering with several discussions going on, you wouldn’t turn to the others and say "your conversations are non-value-add. I’m going to leave this conversation and go on to another one that caters to my needs only." Well, if you would do that, then good thing you are leaving. Normally you’d either try to steer the conversation in other direction or you’d wander off to another. Only jerks would say "your conversation sucks, so I’m leaving" in front of everyone else.
So to summarize:
- Use a Twitter client. You’ll never "get" Twitter if you don’t.
- Use the hashtag and filter features to tailor the tweets you see. Adjust those filters as needed.
- Follow people when they are interesting, filter them if they are doing something right now that isn’t, and unfollow them if it turns permanently uninteresting to you.
- Don’t announce you are unfollowing. Just do it. Don’t feel guilty and don’t ask the other person to stop being complex humans.
- If you need to read only single topic information, go with mailing lists, forums, or RSS feeds from curated sources. Twitter isn’t any of those.
- Use the features of your RSS reader to filter blog posts, too.
I had a fabulous time meeting DAMA Members in the US Midwest over the last couple of weeks. I was worried most about making all these flights, but they all worked out well. These DAMA Speaking Tours are something I look forward to every year. If you are interested in booking one, contact chapters in your general area and propose some dates.
This afternoon I’m presenting at the Professional Association for SQL Server (PASS) Professional Development virtual chapter. My topic today is about how to ensure that you are doing the right things now to support job and project search efforts when you need them. Join me at 1PM EDT
A workshop on issues and ideas that today’s data professionals can do to build their careers and networking skills with other data management professionals.
Workshop topics will include:
• Demonstrating your expertise
• Building a portfolio of your success stories
• Getting others to sell your skills and business value
• Building & extending your data management skill set
• 10 Steps to highlighting you and your work
Bring your thoughts, ideas, and experiences.
As a virtual presentation, I’ll be relying heavily on Q&A from the audience, as well as input from Twitter to ensure that this is the most interactive it can be. Please join us as we talk about how we as a profession can best ensure that we are all working and our projects have the right resources to be successful.
The hashtag to use during this talk is #PASSProfDev
A recording of the presentation should be available on 24 Sept 2011 at http://prof-dev.sqlpass.org/ .
We had great interaction for a Live Meeting. Great job, everyone.
Information Management Magazine published a list of 17 females on Twitter to follow, drawn primarily from the data and information sector…and I’m one of them. A great group to be part of. Note that 3 of us are part of the DAMA International Board.
I haven’t blogged yet about my NASA Tweetup experiences, for the most part because I’m worried about coming across as too emotional about the entire experience. As I previously posted, I’m attending a special NASA program that brings 150 Twitter users from around the world to Kennedy Space Center to watch the launch of the Shuttle Endeavour on her last mission, STS-134. I started this post hoping to keep it as a short overview. It’s not.
Pre-Tweetup – Level Green
The launch was originally scheduled for mid-April, then that was moved to 29 April due to a traffic jam in space. No worries. I arrived here in Florida on 26 April. Wednesday I picked up my credentials and then went over to the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex to add to my space brain, the term I’ve been using for being inundated with science about space exploration. I also met up with my house mates of Venus House for the first time.
Thursday – Level Orange
Thursday we headed over to Kennedy Space Center (KSC) to get settled in the Tweetup Tent (affectionately referred to as the twent). I new we were going to be close to the iconic Vehicle Assembly Building, but I had no idea we’d be parking right next to it. That was just awe-inspiring. There we met our fellow Tweetup attendees. We started with the obligatory “everybody introduce yourselves, tell us where you are from and something interesting about you”. Crap. Interesting? Okay, I’ll say that I’m a…well, let’s wait to see what everyone else says. I was sitting on the far end, near the air conditioners. They started on the other side. As people stood up to say who they were I sat there stunned by the number of accomplishments and backgrounds. Quick…what the hell can I say that is interesting? Somehow “I like data” just didn’t seem to be that interesting with this group. Attendees came from all walks of life: 3 -time Jeopardy champion, Internet company founders, Twitter staff, rocket scientists, TV and film stars, musicians, pilots, journalists…well, you can read what most said about themselves at http://nasatweet.com/wiki/STS134_Fun_facts …but I think that most people were a bit too humble about their interesting things. So I finally settled on “I’m a former national spokesperson for Women in IT. I help encourage girls to take more science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM)” That seemed to go over well, with this crowd being STEM friendly. I mentioned that I had brought the technical Barbies with me to enjoy the launch, too. I was already starting to have the overwhelming feeling that this Tweetup was going to be something like I’ve never experienced before. Emotions were at Alert Level Orange by that point.
We did a tour of the KSC property, including the inside of the VAB. There we got to see Atlantis being prepped for her last voyage soon after Endeavour’s trip. Did I tell you we got to go inside? That’s insane. There aren’t normal tours for going inside the VAB. I guess to other people it’s just where they work. For me it was just amazing. I need to find another word. Someone find me a thesaurus.
Thursday was a full program of speakers from NASA, including astronauts and staff. More on that later. We were supposed to go out near the pad to watch the retraction, but freaky storm weather cancelled that. My first disappointment. Emotions still at Level Orange, but barely.
Friday – Level Red
On Friday we headed back over to KSC ready to experience an opportunity of a lifetime — to see the launch from just over 3 miles away. To put this in perspective, if you were 400 yards from the launch the heat and flame would kill you. If you were 800 yards from the launch, the sound would kill you. So 3 miles is close. It’s as close as non-workers can get. Emotion Levels were Reddish Orange, sort of like a tequila sunrise. I set up my tripod to reserve a space. Right next to a tripod from an international camera crew. My tripod looked sad next to theirs, but it was setup and ready to go. More exciting program inside the twent happened, and I’ll post pictures of that in a later post.
Every presenter over the two days spoke of the emotion and the feeling of awe of what they did for a living. It was all about STEM, but overall the most blow-me-away thoughts were about humanity, peace, the meaning of life, and…emotions. As each person spoke, I could see the passion they had about the work they did; they were changing the world and they loved every minute of it.
Sadly, as Rob blogged, the launch was scrubbed about noon on Friday due to a mechanical failure. We were terribly disappointed, but all of us understood that safety first is the key phrase. We watched the Astronaut Van drive slowly past, it made an unexpected turn into the VAB drive. We were hoping that it was just making a special drive by of the special observation area, but it wasn’t to be. I was interviewed by NPR’s All Things Considered about this disappointment. I found out that interview made it to the air because people all over the US started tweeting that they heard me on their drives home from work. How wonderful is that?
I have to say that seeing that Astro Van take a turn when it wasn’t supposed to was heartbreaking. It wasn’t a crushing blow because I was by then riding a full RED ALERT emotionally already. I had experienced so many amazing things up to then it didn’t matter. The launch would happen when Endeavour was ready for it to happen.
Later in the afternoon President Obama arrived, even though the launch had been scrubbed, to meet the astronauts and their families. We were able to wave to him as he waved back at us, a bunch of Twitter Space-crazed photographers.
And then there was more: NASA Tweetup attendee Chris Cardinal proposed to attendee Nina Tallman, right in front of the Countdown Clock. As a fellow geek, that was so amazing to see. My emotions were now just going crazy. I took a bazillion pictures.
Most of us stayed in the twent, listening to ad hoc program presentations, chatting about everything that had been happening so far, and talking about making extended travel arrangements. We looked forward to a launch in the next 48 hours. All was fine.
Saturday – SQLSaturday
When the scrub was announced, Kendal van Dyke (twitter and another former NASATweetup attendee) reminded me there was a SQLSaturday happening in Jacksonville. I caught a ride with him and two other great SQL community members Bradley Ball (twitter) and Dan Taylor( twitter). So I got to spend time with the rocking SQL Community at the last minute. What a great opportunity. For the ride back we were all really tired and we had great gut-busting laughs, the kind that are hilarious if you are tired, entirely stoked from being with a great community and punchy from getting only a couple of hours of sleep. Thanks, guys, for taking care of me and the Technical Barbies. Oh, and for letting me be part of your SQLRoadtrip.
Now – Back to Tequila Red Orange
I have many photos and blog posts to share and am struggling with how to not overly spam this blog with them. I have lots of potential blog posts that talk about data, project management, decisions, and costs, benefits and risks. But my main concern is that I’m still GUSHING with emotions and I don’t think my posts will come across as anything but completely insane. I’ve been struggling with this post, trying not to fill it with #FTW #AWESOMESAUCE #ZOMG and 10,000 exclamation points. Did I tell you have pictures?
I so wish I could have taken every single girl that I talk to about taking more science, technology, math and engineering along with me to see an hear just how freaking rewarding STEM careers are. I’d show them how these careers change the world and make lives better. I’d show them the fabulous role models, how much fun they have, and how being in a community of insanely smart people can make every minute count.
As I am putting the finishing touches on this, NASA just announced that the current date (more about that coming, too) will be pushed back again. I was doing okay travel-wise because I was already planning on being in Orlando for SQLRally on this Saturday. Staying over a few extra days was cheaper and easier, so that’s what I’m doing. As of right now, it will be later and not 10 May as last announced. You know what? I’m still at EMOTION LEVEL RED…ish. All things considered.
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