Geek Speak: Monica Hamburg, social media evangelist
Monica Hamburg calls herself a social-media evangelist, humorist, and “weird person”. Hamburg writes about social media on Me Like the Interweb, and she maintains another blog called Your Dose of Lunacy that's devoted to humorous observations.
Born in Montreal, the 35-year-old Vancouver resident makes her living speaking about social media and doing consulting work. Hamburg also contributes to One Degree, a Canadian digital-marketing e-zine. The former legal assistant is a sometimes actor who had a small part as a Hungarian reporter in the film Underworld: Evolution and has done video-game voiceover work for Electronic Arts and Radical Entertainment.
At the upcoming Northern Voice conference, Hamburg will speak about how bloggers can discover their on-line voice and find subjects to write about. The conference will take place on May 7 and 8 at the University of British Columbia’s Point Grey campus.
The Georgia Straight reached Hamburg on her cellphone in a Robson Street café.
Why do you call yourself a social-media evangelist?
Because I think I preach the good word of social media. I really love it. I recognize that there are some issues and some problems and that it’s evolving. All these tools are really evolving. But I really do love it. I think it’s quite beautiful how it’s connecting people. So, I really like to talk about and educate people about what it’s doing and how it’s working right now.
What’s a major challenge facing social media right now?
There’s a number....I think a big challenge is the overwhelming information. It’s just there’s a lot out there, and people get really overwhelmed....And I think sometimes people use it to kind of make snap judgements and say things too quickly. You know, sometimes—service industry, right?—somebody will be in front of a bar or something and say, “It’s taking too long to get in. How frustrating.” But they don’t recognize there are things behind. I think that the problem with social media sometimes is people can do things too quickly and regret it later or not understand the complexities of things.
Do you think Google Buzz has a place in the social-media landscape?
You know, I’ve said no to so many things and then they’ve become big. I thought Twitter was a bit ridiculous when I first started using it, and obviously I was pretty wrong. So, I’m going to say that maybe they’ll make it different. The problem is a lot of these things don’t integrate enough. Nobody wants to start off their base enough. They’re like, “I don’t want to start out again with another network. I’m tired.” I think we all are, to some extent. So, I think the ones that integrate things are going to be more successful. I don’t know. Google Buzz will probably take off, and I’ll be sitting here looking at this article and shooting myself.
What are you working on right now?
I’m doing a number of things. So, I consult. I work with clients. I do the comedy stuff, like I have a blog and I try to write on that stuff. I’m working on a book, which I might be working on for the rest of my life, about sort of the weird stuff that I come up with.
Another thing I’m working on is exploring the connections between social media and psychology, like exploring what’s going on and kind of looking at it. I’m a bit of a psych nut. I’m not formally educated in it, but it’s something that I read a lot, and I really like looking at the other side and looking at human behaviour. So, I’m talking too fast and telling too much. But I want to say basically I’m working on a series for One Degree, where I’m exploring those issues, like cyberpsychology, how we communicate on-line—some of the difficulties, some of the challenges with what’s going on, and some of the great stuff that’s happening and how psychologists sort of talk about that as well.
How do you approach your humour blog?
How do I approach it? With a big axe and an ice pick. How do I approach it? How do I write the stuff? All right, how I write the stuff is basically, you know, there’s already weird stuff that I have in my life. There’s things I notice. The bonus, obviously, in my life is being on the Internet for 10-plus hours a day—sometimes more—is that you’re bound to come up with really weird stuff. You’re researching something, you see a site, and you’re like, “What is that?” You know? It jumps out at you, right? Naturally, I just find really weird things, not even trying to look for weird things.
What’s one of your social-media pet peeves?
Sort of narcissism. Sometimes people think, because they’re on social media, that the world wants to hear about what they do all the time. I think that and I hope that I advise people and that I try to not make it so much about me and how awesome I am, because not only is that probably not true but it’s not really very interesting.
I think you always have to keep an eye out for what would be interesting to other people. Most people are not going to be so interested in every minutia of your life, you know? I don’t need to give you examples. Anyone on Twitter would understand that sometimes it seems like, “Okay, this is just a congratulatory party for yourself.” That rubs me the wrong the way.
Every Friday, Geek Speak catches up with someone in Vancouver’s technology sector, video-game industry, or social-media scene. Who should we interview next? Tell Stephen Hui on Twitter at twitter.com/stephenhui.