cc licensed ( BY NC ND ) flickr photo shared by Ronan_C

My list of words never used here include things like “monetize” or “viral” (oops I just used them). But in terms of trying to get a message out, I am keen to experiment with ways to make it go further.

Yesterday, in one of those serendipity series of events triggered by what might be properly termed as “goofing” off, I came up with what i thought was a clever way to amplify the sharing of a Google form via twitter.

First of all, I am unabashedly in love with Google Forms…

It does in minutes what I previously had to do in custom PHP code/databases, or wrestle with other packages that were clumsy and inflexible. I use GForms for things like surveys, webinar registrations, conference evaluations, collecting input for projects, demos of the “real time” web (audiences are wowed to see the data dribble down the spreadsheet as they watch it). I have created so many forms in the last 18 months I cannot even remember them all.

But filling out forms can be tedious, and I try either to keep the form as short as possible, or try to inject a bit of humanity into the process (or what I think si funny and others may not, oh well).

One oft neglected feature is editing the confirmation message that appears when you are done. If I click “submit” and see:

Thanks!

Your response has been recorded.

My thought is… yawn, stock meaningless message. This is a golden opportunity to make your form personable, and you close with a template response. Yawn.

So this was my tangential silliness yesterday. It started from a semi-rambling post on the future and the past, but wrapped with a memorable clip from the All in the Family shows I watched in the 1970s- the argument between Archie Bunker and his son-in-law about the proper order of putting on shoes and socks.

I was both smiled and pleased when Leslie commented that that same clip was memorable to her. I thought it would be a fun thing to try and get some responses and ask people whether they were more of a “sock and sock, shoe and a shoe” person or “sock and a shoe, sock and a shoe” type.

Very silly.

Meaningless.

That never stops me.

So I quickly created a Google form that is still open. Now the URLs you share for forms are about 3 miles long and ugly. I always use a URl shortener on mine, I use http://bit.ly for this, but rather than accept the alphabet random soup that it generates, I use the customize option to create my shortened URL. The URL is a message, and also, it is easier for me to recall a string I make up compared to “Rh5xv8”. My survey thus as the prettier shorter URL http://bit.ly/sock-shoe (you have to create a free account on bit.ly to do this, well with it since it tracks the usage of your links).

The survey is short (and silly)

And as usual, I thought about that confirmation message. I first re-wrote the text, and had some fun in making it appear like it was not the same message for everyone:

Thank you for digging deep into your soul.

From my detailed artificially sweetened intelligence, I can see that while you answered the poll, there is a nagging doubt whether you may have chosen the truest answer. Good luck in that unevenly distributed future.

But then, here is my self-rated brilliant idea, I thought, wouldn’t it be cool if I could offer a link/button to tweet out the survey link? The challenge is that you cannot use any HTML in the message, all you have is the ability to insert a URL.

Here is the trick. If you want something to be tweeted, you can construct a URL that will bring up te twitter web site, with the message pre-filled in (of course it requires that the user has a twitter account, and is logged in, shoot me, its not perfect).

Like try this: http://twitter.com/?status=I+like+cheese. This will put in your twitter message the life affirming message, “I like cheese” – they can still modify it before tweeting.

What I wanted was the tweeted message to include the link back to the survey, and my own twitter handle, so I could follow action by checking my replies, say something like:

Now you can see that the format for the twitter URL is something like:

but you have to substitute “%20” for blanks, and then there are other changes you have to do for things like question marks, etc. This is because the text of the string must be “url encoded” to work as a url parameter.

No problem, there are anumber of tools to do this, I use the handy ones at http://www.functions-online.com/ all the time to test out PHP functions via the web interface. The function we use is rawurlencode. So on the site, I can enter the string as I want to use:

and when I click Run, I get the one to use in the URL

It’s a pretty long URL!

But it works.

But the problem with this long URL is that used in the Google form confirmation, it would display ugly, flowing way off to the right. So I can run it through bit.ly again- this time I dont care about the random name since it is going out in twitter.

For my form, then this is what someone sees after doing the survey:

And the link thus creates this tweet:

Again, this does two key things- it spreads the link for my survey to other people’s networks, and the inclusion of the “@cogdog” gives me some measure that people are using this.

It’s kind of small, but I was pleased with the concept.

I cannot claim it a raging success, as the survey got about 57 responses at the time of this post, but it went farther than if I had just tweeted it out myself.

Oh, and the results? Very illuminating. More than 3/4 of people are Archie Bunker traditionalists- sock and a sock, followed by shoe and a shoe:

(click to see full sized chart)

And among the responses to the open ended question

  • It clearly illustrates that we put ourselves into unnecessarily defined boxes. and also that we dont leave the,
  • Nothing philosophical, but now I am probably going to waste a bunch of time watching more Bunker videos. My dad and I used to watch All in the Family together.
  • Then there are times when I only wear shoes without socks because my feet get hot and sweaty. I’ve also gone barefoot from front porch to alley and front porch as far as partway down the sidewalk to friend’s car to continue conversation. Weather permitting. Sometimes I prefer to go barefoot into the garden, too. Almost always barefoot in my house.
  • I think it reflects how a person conceives of and relates to objects. I’m very curious how many people do sock/shoe and what they say about it. It seems rather illogical to me. It’s the pairing thing. But I’m practical. I relate socks to each other and then shoes to each other for practical reasons. If there’s a fire while I’m dressing, I can run out in socks. My feet get cold easily too, so I get my socks on as quickly as possible, even if there’s no danger of fire.
  • I think it reflects how a person conceives of and relates to objects. I’m very curious how many people do sock/shoe and what they say about it. It seems rather illogical to me. It’s the pairing thing. But I’m practical. I relate socks to each other and then shoes to each other for practical reasons. If there’s a fire while I’m dressing, I can run out in socks. My feet get cold easily too, so I get my socks on as quickly as possible, even if there’s no danger of fire.
  • no.
  • I believe there may be links to election voting preferences!!
  • OK, I admit it. I THINK about this every time I put my shoes and socks on… and I do vary it.
  • I can decide to do the shoes later and still walk around without looking foolish or lopsided, duh. Didn’t need to view the video because it’s in my mental archive.
  • I’m curious: do socksock people tweet more often?
  • Volg je dezelfde manier die anderen volgen alleen maar omdat het volegns hen zo hoort of heb je zo je eigen ideeen over wat je doet en hoe je dat doet?
  • I heart that scene. That is all.
  • The first time I ever thought about this was that All in the Family episode.
  • slow and steady, eddy.
  • Archie Bunker, along with Homer Simpson, should be required study for all college students.
  • I do it both ways, but once had a roommate who told me that it is better to do sock-sock – shoe- shoe in case there was a fire and you needed to move quickly. That poor logic pushed me to sock-shoe-sock-shoe out of spite. I prefer sockless as in sandal-sandal, but barefoot is good too.
  • Global vs Sequential tendencies? Meathead makes a good point – in YMCA changerooms, I definitely am a sock and a shoe but every day in my home I am sock and a sock. CONTEXT is everything ;)
  • What does it all mean?
  • I am confused.
  • Didn’t have to watch, I remember it well! Getting deeper: We are one shiney blue marble in space, though looking closer it’s our choices that divide us.
  • Since I was linked to this through Alec Couros’ twitter – I’m already thinking the link is related to education in some way. Even if it isn’t really, like this one. But I can make a connection anyway. Like Archie Bunker and his son in law, students have different ways of approaching things. As a future teacher, I need to be aware of the many ways people learn and accommodate the multiple learners in my classroom. I need to realize that not everyone will put on a sock and a sock (a shoe and a shoe) but might mix it up or wear no shoes at all – that is, students will have different approaches to attain a similar goal. This can be turned into a life lesson as well: accept those who are different from you – in the end, we aren’t so different. Or, I could talk about how the process, or the journey is more important than final outcome or destination. We all end up wearing socks and shoes at some point, how we get there is our choice. Okay… before I get even more crazy about socks and shoes and how they reveal some sort of ultimate truth – I’ll just stop myself.
  • It proves that something I never even thought of before could be made hysterical by Archie Bunker. Great, great show!
  • “Impatience is the source of all violence”- Pema Chodron Read _Being & Time_ and get back to me… ;-)
  • Loved the video and the whole concept – made my day!
  • I don’t usually wear socks. But if I do, I’m a sock and a sock. Feels weird to have a sock and a shoe and a bare foot!
  • Loved the video and the whole concept – made my day!
  • I do believe I’m more a sock shoe person but I always put my socks on then my shoes. The bigger question is do we as teachers welcome different approaches? Do we let students try things in different ways? do we honor student attempts? Does it really matter how things are done as long as they are done? I can think of a million ways to use this clip.it’s brilliant. Thanks form the laugh.
  • Doesn’t really apply in Canada, we don’t wear shoes indoors. My socks are in the bedroom and shoes are by the door. Long delay between sock and shoe donning.
  • 42? honestly?

The survey remains open! be part of this ground tickling research http://bit.ly/sock-shoe

Profile Picture for Alan Levine aka CogDog
An early 90s builder of the web and blogging Alan Levine barks at CogDogBlog.com on web storytelling (#ds106 #4life), photography, bending WordPress, and serendipity in the infinite internet river. He thinks it's weird to write about himself in the third person.

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