It’s the cutest thing… – Littleprinter Review

I accidentally acquired a Bergcloud Littleprinter about a year and a half ago, after it had been passed between a number of friends who weren’t sure what to do with it. I’ll be honest, I didn’t even know what it did, so it languished in it’s packaging in the corner of my room until I really really needed a small box to send my camera off to the repair shop (yep, my beloved 60D is poorly, but it appears to be a fixable issue) so I decided to remove the contents and figure things out.

The picture shows the actual printer itself – a dinky little cube with a roll of shop receipt – type paper covered in stylised smiley faces. However, the printer is controlled by a larger box rather like a router, which plugs into your actual router. It’s got an almost 1960s TV sci-fi feel, with blocky font labels and large white LEDs in plastic.

 

My Little Printer prints it’s first ever item, actually it’s activation code. Each strip prints with the smiley face at the bottom, which the website claims can change features (hair style etc.) over time.

The actual set up is the most interesting thing. The printer is designed to be connected to mobile devices, though it can be connected to any computer – anything with internet as far as I can tell. I needed to create an account using my phone, and then things started to get strange….

Little printers are designed to do two things. They can print messages and photos from any device with account access to them – they don’t have to be on the same network. Here’s a Vine of my printer reproducing an Instagram photo of me. I can see how this might be great in an office situation where people can print messages to each other, though with it’s smiley faces and general cutesy-ness, it’s as much designed for home use – their website suggests that families and children would love using this to keep in touch.

The other big feature is publications. Little Printer has almost two hundred publications, almost like apps for a printer. These can send you the new headlines of the day, or a summary of your website use, or a picture for your kids to colour in. I was initially confused by this, but eventually opted for a sample of existential aid publication ‘why’, which twenty seconds later gave me this.

 

 

While a part of me cynically feels that this is an executive toy of the digital age, grown from a gimmicky start-up of the kind I hear about constantly on TechCrunch and similar, most of me really likes this idea. I wish it had more social media related publications: for example it can give you daily engagement stats on Flickr and some for Twitter, I would like to see more like that as the idea is really sound, especially if you were running a site or company that needed to keep track of those details and pass them on easily as something similar to a post-it note. At the moment it’s still very developer driven, a place for people to test their ideas (the creators, Bergcloud, seem to have quite close links with Github.)

At the moment I don’t massively have a use for it but I feel like I might in the future. Plus, it’s cute and a bit silly. I’m really glad I have one of these.

What I’ve been doing – Social Media Strategy for a Charity

Over the past two weeks, I’ve been lucky enough to start volunteering with a local charity, Willow Wood Hospice in Ashton, Greater Manchester, and working on their social media and digital output. This is the first time I’ve done anything like this, so it’s an enjoyable challenge. This meant working with their PR and Fundraising team to make some slight changes to their pages, produce new content, and hopefully come up with a long term plan. I’ve only been there twice, but I wanted to make a quick blog reflecting on what’s happened so far.

The charity’s head of Fundraising and PR wanted to focus on three main platforms, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, which made sense as they have a small PR team and need to focus on improving what they have rather than trying and perhaps failing to maintain too many channels of communication.

Willow Wood already has an established Facebook profile, so the first thing was to scan through the analytics (Facebook Insight) and try to figure out any correlations or patterns which might help improve their outreach. There was a noticeable trend ofย  statuses getting more attention (click-throughs/likes/comments) than posts, which I assume is caused by how Facebook prioritises statuses. More importantly, I noticed more engagement on posts just before midday and at mid to late afternoon, presumably because it will be at the top of people’s newsfeeds when they check Facebook in their lunchbreak or after work (useful to know in general.)

I was keen to have more engagement on both Facebook and Twitter – replying to followers and even like ‘liking’ posts. While the staff have limited time to spend working on this, they can pick and choose which ones to reply to – it’s the engagement level and making people feel appreciated. I also thought they might want to start utilising Twitter as a news tool and way to connect with similar organisations so I spent some time building private lists. If only I could remember to do that for my own account!

I was initially surprised that Willow Wood wanted to move into YouTube, but they do a lot of events so it does make quite a lot of sense. This led onto a side project as I felt that the YouTube page needed a ‘channel trailer’ that would autoplay for anyone opening the page. It needs to be a fairly high quality video, and more importantly it needs to say and show exactly what the Hospice does. I realised I’d missed producing video since leaving University, so, that’s a fun work in progress.

I will probably post another blog explaining a bit more about my ideas for improving the Hospice’s social media, and maybe one on making the video too after it’s up (no spoilers!)

Screenshot of in progress ‘Willow Wood Trailer’ video

The Attempted Backlash against ‘Generation Overshare’

I’ve been hearing the phrase ‘Generation Overshare’ quite a lot recently – referring to the way people (especially young people, you know, with their pesky facetweets and iDroid phones…) have a tendency to share everything they are doing, comment on every situation, take a picture or video of every thing they do. It’s a derogatory, disapproving term, certainly, and I have also noticed a trend of people trying to reject the need to share in various way. Social Media detoxes, where like, diets, people cut out Facebook and limit their intake of internet calories, seem fairly popular, and others have tried to publicise how much we are ‘missing out on’ by spending all of our time online. Musicians post signs at their gigs, imploring people to enjoy them live, not ‘through their phones.’ At Manchester International Festival last year, concert goers at the Massive Attack vs. Adam Curtis shows were forbidden to take pictures of the inside of the venue so that it wouldn’t be ‘spoiled’ on social media for other nights.

(‘Look Up’ by Gary Turk, 2014)

 

This is a difficult topic where I can understand both sides. It would be hypocritical of me to claim that social media ‘oversharing’ is bad, I do it a lot, I wrote a dissertation on Instagram, and I have defended social media as a positive force before. Yet there are people who worry about the online society, who maybe feel cut off and that it affects people in a negative way. Clearly there is a problem here.

The trouble is, I don’t believe we can ever step back from sharing at this point. The Social media detox seems to be more of a crash diet, a week’s deprivation followed by a binge. The film posted above makes great points, yet to date 12,000,000 people have apparently sat online to watch it, discuss it and share it on sites such as Buzzfeed. Our world has been permanently augmented and it some ways is as much digital as ‘real’. We can stop sharing, but would we want to?