So What Am I Called Then?


Image by DeepBluC

This is a question I’ve been pondering a lot lately when I’ve cleared to many people what I do for a living. Could a simple deduction practice help to determine this?

So am I a,

1. Creative Director?

This is something I even printed on my business card, because at that time it sounded this is what I do.

But in order to be a director, shouldn’t you be having people to direct, right? Well, first of all, I work through networks, and my job description varies a lot, so simple Creative Director [although it sounds good and very mighty] doesn’t do the trick.

2. Just a “Creative”

Well this is most definitely an ambiguous term in a time when everyone and everything is somewhat “creative” or “innovative”. So, no thanks.

3. Social Media Expert?

I find this term a bit hilarious, but I had to put it here in order to make a statement: If there’s someone telling he is a social media expert, don’t believe him. At least too easily.

There are people who understand a lot more about the current web than others, but there are also some of those who try to open up for you a Twitter account or a Facebook Fan Page without really making it clear what it all means.

I would be most cautious about how much we can currently understand what will become of this early mess that we call social media, social web or whatever.

4. Digital Native

I could also be called digital media native, but it’s not quite selling and most likely there aren’t too many people who even know what that means. And in the end it’s more a description than a profession anyway.

5. Digital Media Agent

I tried this for a week, but the word agent sounds like I’m a movie agent, or something from the James Bond saga. Yes, I’m investigating things and sometimes wear a suit, but that’s about it. No Walther PPK, just a Mac, sorry.

With this description I wanted to be considered someone who connects people with digital media.

Epilogue

I believe that new times need new descriptions. We didn’t say ” Metal horse” when the car was invented.

So what am I then? Like I’ve always said that I don’t want to categorize people or to be categorized too heavily [that can prevent self development and growth], but sometimes it’s just something that you have to do in order to make other people understand what you do for a living and where your professionalism could be helpful.

So currently I’m using the title Social and Digital Media Coach. This for two reasons,

1. That’s the closest thing that sums up everything I currently do.

During my time as an entrepreneur I’ve been working with social media in education and in business, from the training to concept creation and even graphic design [yes, I still occasionally open Photoshop too]. I’m also a project manager in an international ICT project which includes usability, eLearning and Mobile. In addition to this, I’ve also designed user interface / experience and graphic design for a mobile application.

As you can see, describing my work with one sentence can sometimes be a hard task.

2. Because I don’t want to be mixed with the label “professional” or “expert” too strongly. I believe the things in social media to be flexible and something that you need to consider with your client or whoever you are working with. You know, together, and not from your professional ivory tower.

And this is how I want the process to be, because that’s the only way to make people understand the new possibilities the web can actually offer. Possibilities that go far beyond than just simple status updating or Fan Paging.

EDIT (after much reasoning): I have to admit that I was wrong; there’s no one definite term I could currently use. There’s just situational terms and being a creative person I just cannot lock myself up with one.

So yes, unfortunately the term “Creative” that I’m mocking up there is a good term, and so is “Trainer”. So let’s keep with these for a while.

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The Means of Charity for “Africa”

I just finished reading November’s number of African Business magazine. Again there were many interesting articles, but one particular named as “Rebranding Africa” got me thinking, what kind of help is really best for “Africa” and who’s to decide? There’s quotes because, as there is no such thing as Europe, there’s not a single Africa either.

The article I am referring here was written by Anver Versi and titled “Rebranding Africa”. In general it was about how the image of Africa is usually depicted as poor, uncivilized, corrupted and filled with hunger and how this image is too often done by Western people [sometimes to even market and thus get charity foundations more money], and how this all can be a preventing factor of foreign investments and business not finding motivation to come to Africa.

There are a couple of ideas in the article I’d like to refer to.

“The noisiest branding comes from outside the continent and it’s dominant image has been created by the charity brands”, says Melissa Davis of Truebranding in the magazine. Don’t get me wrong, I believe that many charity foundations have done awfully lot of good work, but isn’t the help a bit single minded and what are the real long term benefits? Sometimes I actually feel that just throwing few coins is an give-get yourself a good feeling-and forget action. But still I want to point out, that I’m not criticizing people doing so and am not that familiar with its outcome.

What I am stating is that could it be more meaningful for Western and for African people if we finally played together, collaborated with each other, gave them our expertise and learned about their culture of making business and start doing actual business with them? And I mean business that benefited both parties, not just charity nor in the other hand getting cheaper labour – I hope [although doubtfully] the West has learned something about China.

I’m writing this because I have always been a bit skeptical of just donating few coins to the oh so many charity companies that nowadays are stopping me in the streets. One reason is because of an article I once read about how many percentage goes to the pay of the people who work in the foundation and how small amount actually finds its way to the target, and other is that I have always considered this as a too easy way for me.

So what I have slowly grown wanting to do was to get an education, to become good in something, and then give from it in a sustainable manner to those who can use it. This certain project in Tanzania I have previously mentioned here, is finally a way to do that.

And also now I can see where the help is going, but it’s not actually “help” as such. It’s collaboration.

Like the social media era has now showed us, people commit better and get more excited about things when you let them participate and listen to their needs. When people consider something their own, they value it more.

And secondly, I’m not doing a one time deal. Most likely this project may have, and already has, more interesting ideas for the future.

I would advise anyone to consider this more often; Could your skills and knowledge benefit someone instead of the occasional coin? You don’t have to go to a refugee camp to help, there are as many different ways as there are people.

I would like to end to an idea stating: Shouldn’t this already be the time to start making valuable business like with anyone else in the world and forget it is Africa? That is the only way to make us meet at the same level.

The Meaning of Help

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Image by urbangarden

When I started to think about establishing my company, Digital_Alpaca, I started it from the values; from how my company could also for its part make this ball called Earth a little more decent place.

Back then I just had a glimpse of the idea, a feeling that there should be something more than just making money, cool mobile apps or web sites. I wanted to put my professional skills to a better use and offer my view and professionalism to the use for other people.

“Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth.”

I’ve always liked this quote from Muhammad Ali. I believe that if you want to be good in something, you should be egoistic because the true learning process is from the inside out. Otherwise if you do too much of the things that other people tell you to or expect you to do, you may get lost in the way or spend your time doing the wrong things. But one shouldn’t be selfish to the end. I don’t feel that real success can be achieved by only trying to get more to yourself – of course there are some who do, but are they truly happy is another question. I think one should share their selves to others in order to achieve a genuine and lasting fulfillment and self-development.

But back to my idea of wanting to do good. It came sooner than I thought, almost like dropped to my lap, and I’m really, really happy about it. Like I’ve tweeted the last two weeks, I’ve been taking part in hosting guests from the University of Dar es Salaam and Butimba Teachers’ College of Mwanza. The goal of the program that is going to be established is to improve the accessibility to high quality education in Tanzania through e-Learning programs.

My role is to give support in usability, visual design and designing to the web, and this week I gave the first basic presentation about these subjects to our guests. The actual workshops of these parts of the project take place next June in Dar es Salaam and after these past two weeks I’m really anxiously waiting for the next summer! The people who visited Tampere, were really great and I believe we will have lots of fun and of course a lot to do too.

I believe that the two weeks our guest were here, they learned a lot, but so did we who spent more time with them. In situations like these you start to understand better why you want to help and how.

For me it is more meaningful to help with ‘Me’ instead of just putting a coin to a box and never see where it’s going to help, or if it’s going to help. I’m not saying  fund-raising is useless and it should be stopped, but I myself believe in the longer sustainability of helping like this and I can see where the support is going.

Next summer is going to be something really different, I understand it now. It’s going to be interesting to see what kind of Marko comes out of it. I’m really thankful to be able to participate in a project like this and would like to give a “thumbs up” to those people who have originally started this and are managing it now and in the future. Something great has to come out from this all.