(from March 15th)
This weeks guest came in to talk to us about online communities and digital spaces. She had an interesting career so far doing some acting and also working on digital spaces and installments. Originally from New York, she told us of her experiences teaching at NYU and acting.
I am sorry to say, but this speaker came in completely unprepared. She said she was feeling under the weather and although I completely sympathize I do find it hard to believe she has ever taught a class, or done acting. She seemed nervous, unsure, and told us more about her personal life in a timeline fashion as opposed to things that are relevant to the industry. No offense, but I do not care about your break-ups and relationships unless it is pertinent to digital media or my career.
This speaker had recently gotten a position incubating and creating an online community (sorry I am being so vague but I do not want to say something negative and have it get back to them or bash them in a public forum!). The problem with her talking about this is that nothing had happened yet. She was unable to answer questions and in my opinion did not even know the basics about social media or online community management. Every time someone asked her a question she completely evaded giving a straight answer.
This project she was currently working on is funded and has quite a few connections. Unfortunately, judging from what she told me, it is going to seriously struggle. The press that it gets will come largely from the prestige of the funder and their ability to bring in talented guests. However, I really wish this speaker had shown us some examples of past success or what even made her qualified to run this project.
She literally gave us nothing. Her idealisms were good: foster community, build a network, give people a chance to engage – but she completely lacked the ability to articulate how she was doing this, how it had been done in the past, and how this was going to work. Which brings me to another issue.
No offense to the person who hired her, and IN ALL FAIRNESS, she may actually be qualified. But in this particular presentation I ended up being insulted that she might have gotten paid for this. Someone asked a question in the class: “What are some important things to take note of in terms of community management?” And she literally answered nothing. The woman asking the question ended up answering her own question and the speaker agreed with her.
I believe that this speaker was the perfect example of someone who has great talent as a host (this speaker did a lot of on camera work and hosting) being hired for something that she (as I said based on what I saw during this ONE day) is completely unqualified to do. Being good on camera does not mean that you can run a community. I thought about asking her about the main principles in being a community manager but thought it best to just keep quiet as to not come across rude or perhaps make someone feel bad when they already admitted they were feeling under the weather.
In conclusion, sorry for the downer post. From a positive perspective, if she can get hired to run an online community – I am not than qualified to do something bigger and better. And let me be clear – I am HAPPY to be wrong about her. I hope she is qualified and a completely different person on another day. But unfortunately the only people this speaker would be useful for are those that are just learning what a community manager is.
NOTE: This is part of a series based on classes I take on Thursday nights for my M.A. program. The class is taught by Charles Falzon, a professor and media television and distribution entrepreneur. He is also the Chair of the Ryerson School of Radio and Television Arts (to be changed to Digital Media soon). The class is lecture-based and usually involves a notable media industry expert coming in and talking for an hour, taking questions, followed by a couple hours of discussion and lecture from Charles. He has asked to reflect upon the opinions and news we hear, so I figured I might as well post them on my blog. Hopefully the insight of some of these leaders also causes you to think or reflect on the state and direction of digital media.