Tweet 2001: A Social Media Odyssey

HAL 9000 “I am putting myself to the fullest possible use, which is all I think that any conscious entity can ever hope to do.”

As I get closer and closer to my 2001st tweet on Twitter, I wanted to pause for some quiet reflection on my personal odyssey in social media – but then I decided to blog about it instead.


The Dawn of OCDQ

Except for LinkedIn, my epic drama of social media adventure and exploration started with my OCDQ blog.

In my Data Quality Pro article Blogging about Data Quality, I explained why I started this blog and discussed some of my thoughts on blogging.  Most importantly, I explained that I am neither a blogging expert nor a social media expert.

But now that I have been blogging and using social media for over six months, I feel more comfortable sharing my thoughts and personal experiences with social media without worrying about sounding like too much of an idiot (no promises, of course).



My social media odyssey began in 2007 when I created my account on LinkedIn, which I admit, I initially viewed as just an online resume.  I put little effort into my profile, only made a few connections, and only joined a few groups.

Last year (motivated by the economic recession), I started using LinkedIn more extensively.  I updated my profile with a complete job history, asked my colleagues for recommendations, expanded my network with more connections, and joined more groups.  I also used LinkedIn applications (e.g. Reading List by Amazon and Blog Link) to further enhance my profile.

My favorite feature is the LinkedIn Groups, which not only provide an excellent opportunity to connect with other users, but also provide Discussions, News (including support for RSS feeds), and Job Postings.

By no means a comprehensive list, here are some LinkedIn Groups that you may be interested in:

For more information about LinkedIn features and benefits, check out the following posts on the LinkedIn Blog:



Shortly after launching my blog in March 2009, I created my Twitter account to help promote my blog content.  In blogging, content is king, but marketing is queen.  LinkedIn (via group news feeds) is my leading source of blog visitors from social media, but Twitter isn't far behind. 

However, as Michele Goetz of Brain Vibe explained in her blog post Is Twitter an Effective Direct Marketing Tool?, Twitter has a click-through rate equivalent to direct mail.  Citing research from Pear Analytics, a “useful” tweet was found to have a shelf life of about one hour with about a 1% click-through rate on links.

In his blog post Is Twitter Killing Blogging?, Ajay Ohri of Decision Stats examined whether Twitter was a complement or a substitute for blogging.  I created a Data Quality on Twitter page on my blog in order to illustrate what I have found to be the complementary nature of tweeting and blogging. 

My ten blog posts receiving the most tweets (tracked using the Retweet Button from TweetMeme):

  1. The Nine Circles of Data Quality Hell 13 Tweets
  2. Adventures in Data Profiling (Part 1) 13 Tweets
  3. Fantasy League Data Quality 12 Tweets
  4. Not So Strange Case of Dr. Technology and Mr. Business 12 Tweets 
  5. The Fragility of Knowledge 11 Tweets
  6. The General Theory of Data Quality 9 Tweets
  7. The Very True Fear of False Positives8 Tweets
  8. Data Governance and Data Quality 8 Tweets
  9. Adventures in Data Profiling (Part 3)8 Tweets
  10. Data Quality: The Reality Show? 7 Tweets

Most of my social networking is done using Twitter (with LinkedIn being a close second).  I have also found Twitter to be great for doing research, which I complement with RSS subscriptions to blogs.

To search Twitter for data quality content:

If you are new to Twitter, then I would recommend reading the following blog posts:



I also created my Facebook account shortly after launching my blog.  Although I almost exclusively use social media for professional purposes, I do use Facebook as a way to stay connected with family and friends. 

I created a page for my blog to separate my professional and personal aspects of Facebook without the need to manage multiple accounts.  Additionally, this allows you to become a “fan” of my blog without requiring you to also become my “friend.”

A quick note on Facebook games, polls, and triviaI do not play them.  With my obsessive-compulsive personality, I have to ignore them.  Therefore, please don't be offended if for example, I have ignored your invitation to play Mafia Wars.

By no means a comprehensive list, here are some Facebook Pages or Groups that you may be interested in:


Additional Social Media Websites

Although LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook are my primary social media websites, I also have accounts on three of the most popular social bookmarking websites: Digg, StumbleUpon, and Delicious.

Social bookmarking can be a great promotional tool that can help blog content go viral.  However, niche content is almost impossible to get to go viral.  Data quality is not just a niche – if technology blogging was a Matryoshka (a.k.a. Russian nested) doll, then data quality would be the last, innermost doll. 

This doesn't mean that data quality isn't an important subject – it just means that you will not see a blog post about data quality hitting the front pages of mainstream social bookmarking websites anytime soon.  Dylan Jones of Data Quality Pro created DQVote, which is a social bookmarking website dedicated to sharing data quality community content.

I also have an account on FriendFeed, which is an aggregator that can consolidate content from other social media websites, blogs or anything providing a RSS feed.  My blog posts and my updates from other social media websites (except for Facebook) are automatically aggregated.  On Facebook, my personal page displays my FriendFeed content.


Social Media Tools and Services

Social media tools and services that I personally use (listed in no particular order):

  • Flock The Social Web Browser Powered by Mozilla
  • TweetDeck Connecting you with your contacts across Twitter, Facebook, MySpace and more
  • Digsby – Digsby = Instant Messaging (IM) + E-mail + Social Networks
  • – Update all of your social networks at once
  • HootSuite – The professional Twitter client
  • Twitterfeed – Feed your blog to Twitter
  • Google FeedBurner – Provide an e-mail subscription to your blog
  • TweetMeme – Add a Retweet Button to your blog
  • Squarespace Blog Platform – The secret behind exceptional websites


Social Media Strategy

As Darren Rowse of ProBlogger explained in his blog post How I use Social Media in My Blogging, Chris Brogan developed a social media strategy using the metaphor of a Home Base with Outposts.

“A home base,” explains Rowse, “is a place online that you own.”  For example, your home base could be your blog or your company's website.  “Outposts,” continues Rowse, “are places that you have an online presence out in other parts of the web that you might not own.”  For example, your outposts could be your LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook accounts.

According to Rowse, your Outposts will make your Home Base stronger by providing:

“Relationships, ideas, traffic, resources, partnerships, community and much more.”

Social Karma

An effective social media strategy is essential for both companies and individual professionals.  Using social media can help promote you, your expertise, your company and your products and services.

However, too many companies and individuals have a selfish social media strategy.

You should not use social media exclusively for self-promotion.  You should view social media as Social Karma.

If you can focus on helping others when you use social media, then you will get much more back than just a blog reader, a LinkedIn connection, a Twitter follower, a Facebook friend, or even a potential customer.

Yes, I use social media to promote myself and my blog content.  However, more than anything else, I use social media to listen, to learn, and to help others when I can.


Please Share Your Social Media Odyssey

As always, I am interested in hearing from you.  What have been your personal experiences with social media?

Commendable Comments (Part 1)

Six month ago today, I launched this blog by asking: Do you have obsessive-compulsive data quality (OCDQ)?

As of September 10, here are the monthly traffic statistics provided by my blog platform:

OCDQ Blog Traffic Overview


It Takes a Village (Idiot)

In my recent Data Quality Pro article Blogging about Data Quality, I explained why I started this blog.  Blogging provides me a way to demonstrate my expertise.  It is one thing for me to describe myself as an expert and another to back up that claim by allowing you to read my thoughts and decide for yourself.

In general, I have always enjoyed sharing my experiences and insights.  A great aspect to doing this via a blog (as opposed to only via whitepapers and presentations) is the dialogue and discussion provided via comments from my readers.

This two-way conversation not only greatly improves the quality of the blog content, but much more importantly, it helps me better appreciate the difference between what I know and what I only think I know. 

Even an expert's opinions are biased by the practical limits of their personal experience.  Having spent most of my career working with what is now mostly IBM technology, I sometimes have to pause and consider if some of that yummy Big Blue Kool-Aid is still swirling around in my head (since I “think with my gut,” I have to “drink with my head”).

Don't get me wrong – “You're my boy, Blue!” – but there are many other vendors and all of them also offer viable solutions driven by impressive technologies and proven methodologies.

Data quality isn't exactly the most exciting subject for a blog.  Data quality is not just a niche – if technology blogging was a Matryoshka (a.k.a. Russian nested) doll, then data quality would be the last, innermost doll. 

This doesn't mean that data quality isn't an important subject – it just means that you will not see a blog post about data quality hitting the front page of Digg anytime soon.

All blogging is more art than science.  My personal blogging style can perhaps best be described as mullet blogging – not “business in the front, party in the back” but “take your subject seriously, but still have a sense of humor about it.”

My blog uses a lot of metaphors and analogies (and sometimes just plain silliness) to try to make an important (but dull) subject more interesting.  Sometimes it works and sometimes it sucks.  However, I have never been afraid to look like an idiot.  After all, idiots are important members of society – they make everyone else look smart by comparison.

Therefore, I view my blog as a Data Quality Village.  And as the Blogger-in-Chief, I am the Village Idiot.


The Rich Stuff of Comments

Earlier this year in an excellent IT Business Edge article by Ann All, David Churbuck of Lenovo explained:

“You can host focus groups at great expense, you can run online surveys, you can do a lot of polling, but you won’t get the kind of rich stuff (you will get from blog comments).”

How very true.  But before we get to the rich stuff of our village, let's first take a look at a few more numbers:

  • Not counting this one, I have published 44 posts on this blog
  • Those blog posts have collectively received a total of 185 comments
  • Only 5 blog posts received no comments
  • 30 comments were actually me responding to my readers
  • 45 comments were from LinkedIn groups (23), SmartData Collective re-posts (17), or Twitter re-tweets (5)

The ten blog posts receiving the most comments:

  1. The Two Headed Monster of Data Matching 11 Comments
  2. Adventures in Data Profiling (Part 4)9 Comments
  3. Adventures in Data Profiling (Part 2) 9 Comments
  4. You're So Vain, You Probably Think Data Quality Is About You 8 Comments
  5. There are no Magic Beans for Data Quality 8 Comments
  6. The General Theory of Data Quality 8 Comments
  7. Adventures in Data Profiling (Part 1) 8 Comments
  8. To Parse or Not To Parse 7 Comments
  9. The Wisdom of Failure 7 Comments
  10. The Nine Circles of Data Quality Hell 7 Comments


Commendable Comments

This post will be the first in an ongoing series celebrating my heroes my readers.

As Darren Rowse and Chris Garrett explained in their highly recommended ProBlogger book: “even the most popular blogs tend to attract only about a 1 percent commenting rate.” 

Therefore, I am completely in awe of my blog's current 88 percent commenting rate.  Sure, I get my fair share of the simple and straightforward comments like “Great post!” or “You're an idiot!” but I decided to start this series because I am consistently amazed by the truly commendable comments that I regularly receive.

On The Data Quality Goldilocks Zone, Daragh O Brien commented:

“To take (or stretch) your analogy a little further, it is also important to remember that quality is ultimately defined by the consumers of the information.  For example, if you were working on a customer data set (or 'porridge' in Goldilocks terms) you might get it to a point where Marketing thinks it is 'just right' but your Compliance and Risk management people might think it is too hot and your Field Sales people might think it is too cold.  Declaring 'Mission Accomplished' when you have addressed the needs of just one stakeholder in the information can often be premature.

Also, one of the key learnings that we've captured in the IAIDQ over the past 5 years from meeting with practitioners and hosting our webinars is that, just like any Change Management effort, information quality change requires you to break the challenge into smaller deliverables so that you get regular delivery of 'just right' porridge to the various stakeholders rather than boiling the whole thing up together and leaving everyone with a bad taste in their mouths.  It also means you can more quickly see when you've reached the Goldilocks zone.”

On Data Quality Whitepapers are Worthless, Henrik Liliendahl Sørensen commented:

“Bashing in blogging must be carefully balanced.

As we all tend to find many things from gurus to tools in our own country, I have also found one of my favourite sayings from Søren Kirkegaard:

If One Is Truly to Succeed in Leading a Person to a Specific Place, One Must First and Foremost Take Care to Find Him Where He is and Begin There.

This is the secret in the entire art of helping.

Anyone who cannot do this is himself under a delusion if he thinks he is able to help someone else.  In order truly to help someone else, I must understand more than he–but certainly first and foremost understand what he understands.

If I do not do that, then my greater understanding does not help him at all.  If I nevertheless want to assert my greater understanding, then it is because I am vain or proud, then basically instead of benefiting him I really want to be admired by him.

But all true helping begins with a humbling.

The helper must first humble himself under the person he wants to help and thereby understand that to help is not to dominate but to serve, that to help is not to be the most dominating but the most patient, that to help is a willingness for the time being to put up with being in the wrong and not understanding what the other understands.”

On All I Really Need To Know About Data Quality I Learned In Kindergarten, Daniel Gent commented:

“In kindergarten we played 'Simon Says...'

I compare it as a way of following the requirements or business rules.

Simon says raise your hands.

Simon says touch your nose.

Touch your feet.

With that final statement you learned very quickly in kindergarten that you can be out of the game if you are not paying attention to what is being said.

Just like in data quality, to have good accurate data and to keep the business functioning properly you need to pay attention to what is being said, what the business rules are.

So when Simon says touch your nose, don't be touching your toes, and you'll stay in the game.”

Since there have been so many commendable comments, I could only list a few of them in the series debut.  Therefore, please don't be offended if your commendable comment didn't get featured in this post.  Please keep on commenting and stay tuned for future entries in the series.


Because of You

As Brian Clark of Copyblogger explains, The Two Most Important Words in Blogging are “You” and “Because.”

I wholeheartedly agree, but prefer to paraphrase it as: Blogging is “because of you.” 

Not you meaning me, the blogger you meaning you, the reader.

Thank You.


Related Posts

Commendable Comments (Part 2)

Commendable Comments (Part 3)