With Christmas a few short days away, it’s time for my yearly roundup of interesting holiday-oriented doings on the Web. Each year, people find different ways to use the ever-changing array of available technology to celebrate or capitalize on the holidays. These are some of the interesting ones for 2011.

NORAD Tracks Santa Clause

NORAD is the joint U.S.-Canadian missile-tracking organization. For more than half a century, NORAD has also been tracking the yearly journeys of Santa Clause — all due to a misprinted phone number in 1955. In 2007, NORAD formally partnered with Google to create a suite of digital-age tracking tools for those who wish to monitor St. Nick. One of my favorite ones is the Santa tracker browser plugin for Google Earth.

For those, like myself, who grew up calling NORAD on the phone, the old line still works (within the U.S.: (877) HI NORAD/(877) 446-6723; International: +1 (719) 556-5211 (Cost may be incurred)), but it’s now been supplemented by email: [email protected]. Drop them a line and get a personalized update from Santa!

Social Media Puts a Dent in Christmas Card Sales

The tradition of sending Christmas cards is not only a way for families to stay in touch, but it’s also a huge industry. These days, the staying-in-touch part is being co-opted by social media, and the companies that make cards are seeing their sales decline.

WRAL.com reports:

‘I realized that everyone I want to send cards to is on my Facebook account, so they’ve seen all the pictures I’ve taken all year long,’ [Stacey] Mark [of Cary, NC] said.

A Pennsylvania market research company has studied the decline in Christmas card sales over the past five years.

According to Pam Danzinger, of Unity Marketing in Stevens, Pa., among the people who bought greeting cards, 77 percent bought Christmas cards in 2005.

Last year, that number dipped to 62 percent.

It’s logical, but I’ll bet it does not make for good Christmas tidings in the offices of Hallmark and its competitors.

The Twelve Days of Social Media Christmas

Brian Rice posted this 21st-century reboot of the holiday classic on Business 2 Community recently. Here is an excerpt to let you know what you’re in for:

On the third day of Christmas,
My true love sent to me
Three LinkedIn invites,
Two friend requests,
And an iPad in a gift box.

While the poetry may be questionable, it truly is a seasonal sign of the times.

Digital Nativity

While I won’t endorse any one tradition or religion — such is not my place — this is still interesting and topical. The following YouTube video plays out the Christian story of the nativity as it may have progressed in an era of Facebook and Google Maps. No matter what your beliefs are, it makes for an interesting update to the story.

Radical Transparency and Santa Claus

I’m going to close with one item from the archives. December of 2010, to be exact. The always thought-provoking Jason Falls took a look at the idea of radical transparency in the age of Facebook and WikiLeaks, and threw a curve ball into the game by invoking St. Nick. His post on Social Media Explorer, Christmas: a Breach of Trust,” is as timely now as it was last season, when he first published it.:

Let’s put a different spin on what radical transparency means in today’s world. If we demand transparent honesty from our government, our churches and synagogues, our companies and brands and perhaps even each other, who will be the first to stop lying to our children about Santa Claus?

Source: “NORAD Tracks Santa,” Wikipedia
Source: “Christmas card sales decrease as social media gains popularity,” WRAL.com, 12/20/11
Source: “The 12 Days of Christmas: Social Media Remix,” Business 2 Community, 12/01/11
Source: “A Very Social Media Christmas,” Grow, 12/14/11
Source: “Christmas: A Breach Of Trust,” Social Media Explorer, 12/24/10

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