Category Archives: IT

Facebook Publishes New York Times, BuzzFeed with “Instant Articles”. Let’s note this.

According to Re/code, the New York Times, BuzzFeed and others have received really good terms with Facebook regarding the publishing of “Instant Articles”. For instance:

Facebook’s “Instant Articles” are designed to load, um, instantly on Facebook’s iOS app — which is the heart of Facebook’s pitch.

Facebook lets publishers use their own publishing tools, and then converts stories automatically into a format that works on Facebook’s app. There are also some cool bells and whistles, like a photo and video-panning feature Facebook imported from its all-but-forgotten Paper app. Here’s a demo video:

Facebook will let publishers keep 100 percent of the revenue they sell for “Instant Articles”; if they have unsold inventory Facebook will sell it for them via its own ad network and give publishers 70 percent of that revenue.

Facebook will give “Instant Article” publishers access to performance data on their stuff, provided by Google Analytics and Adobe’s Ominiture.

ComScore, the Web’s most important measurement company, will give “Instant Article” publishers full credit for any traffic those stories generate on Facebook’s app.

Publishers can control much of the look and feel of how Facebook presents their stories; the item BuzzFeed publishes tomorrow won’t be mistaken for National Geographic’s.

Facebook says it won’t alter its algorithm to favor “Instant Articles” over any other kind of content. But given their novelty, and the fact they’re designed to be eye-catching, it seems very likely that these things will get lots of attention at the start.

Very generous. Enticing, even.

I am keen to revisit this in a year from now, to see if Facebook has revised these terms. If Facebook treats these terms like they treat your privacy, in a year or so I expect the revised terms will not be as generous. And if some companies are not careful, they will find they let their own IT teams dwindle and they will have no choice but to stick with Facebook.

In 1996, James Fallows wrote about Microsoft, the Internet, and even something called Java

I remember all this, but for those of you who feel like the Web has always been with us, it’s worthwhile reading his piece, The Java Theory in The Atlantic.

He didn’t know it at the time, but everything was about to change. I enjoyed reading it, first with hindsight, and then reading it while imagining/remembering what it was like then.

Worthwhile.

Here comes Yik Yak: a mini primer (plus 2 or 3 — ok, 7– thoughts on it from me)

By now you have heard of Yik Yak (or were curious enough to click through). Here are three links that can tell you more about it:

  1. If you want to get the basics, check out this: You Asked: What Is Yik Yak? | TIME.
  2. If you are a big user of Yik Yak, you most likely are on campus. College students are where it is seems to be taking off. Like any platform, eventually you see people coming out with ways to take advantage of it. Here it was used to have a back channel for a speech Ted Cruz was giving: Ted Cruz Has Skeptics at Liberty, and They Use Yik Yak – Bloomberg Politics.
  3. And here it was used for cheating on exams! Another Use for Yik Yak on Campus? Cheating on Exams – Wired Campus – Blogs – The Chronicle of Higher Education.

My thoughts:

  1. Yik Yak is a platform. Like any platform, people using it will invent new uses for it. I expect to see Yik Yak used in all sorts of innovative ways, and I expect it will grow as a result.
  2. Yik Yak is big on college now. But it likely won’t be limited to that audience. Facebook was also once limited only to colleges. Look how that turned out.
  3. Yik Yak is partially a response to all those Privacy is Dead advocates and those saying young people don’t care about privacy. Yik Yak is anonymous, and I expect there will be more social media going this way. It’s hard to exploit users when your service does not depend so much on identities.
  4. Anonymous social media is also a dangerous thing in the wrong hands, as is illustrated in some of the examples.
  5. Social media needs to mature to a position that is not anonymous but also protects people privacy. Otherwise people will tire of being abused by one or the other and shy away from social media.
  6. I think social media and the people who create it are anywhere near that mature yet.
  7. Privacy lives. Privacy is all about control about information about your life. To say privacy is dead is to say no one has control over information about their life, which just isn’t true. What is true is that new technology will continue to come out and force you and everyone else to think about privacy and what you want to share and what you want to keep to yourself.

 

 

Thinking of upgrading your Internet connection? You should test it first

If you think your Internet connection is too slow, or you just want to upgrade it, you owe it to yourself to measure how fast it is. There are a number of ways to measure it, but I like using this: Speedtest.net by Ookla – The Global Broadband Speed Test.

Record both your upload and download speed. Ideally, do it at different times of the day, and do it for both weekdays and weekends. Once you have that information, you can decide on what services would be an upgrade to this.

Also, while speed is important, the other thing to consider when you are upgrading your service is what your monthly bandwidth usage is. Your current ISP should be able to tell you that.

 

If you think it is alarming that Facebook also collects what you decide not to post, then I have some news for you

If you think this is alarming: Facebook also collects what you decide not to post, tech consultant warns – Technology & Science – CBC News, then I have more news for you.

Not only can Facebook do this, but they can do other things. For example, if they wanted to, they could track where you move your mouse, even if you don’t click on something, using technology like the kind mentioned here: web page mouse tracking – Google Search.

In fact, you don’t even have to go to Facebook to have them track you: Facebook Is Tracking Your Every Move on the Web; Here’s How to Stop It.

And if you use Facebook on your mobile phone, there’s potentially even more information they can track about you.

So, lots of reasons to be concerned. I all but avoid Facebook, but it is not an easy thing to do. In addition, I don’t think Facebook is the only one that does this. They seem to be just the most notorious.

 

 

What you should know if you are planning to learn to code

If you are going to learn to code and you are planning to stick with it, then you owe it to yourself to read this: Why Learning to Code is So Damn Hard.

It’s well written, and it has some great graphs, including this one:

I think any area of learning where you get good initial training would look similar to this. I recommend you find some mentors to help get your through the desert of despair.

P.S. Yes, I realized they borrowed heavily from Gartner’s Hype Curve. :)

Three takes on twitter (2015): one mine, two others by WiReD and The Atlantic

Here’s two takes on Twitter worth reading for anyone still fascinated by Twitter as a company:

My take on Twitter?

  • Twitter is gunning for revenue growth.  They are sinking any profit they make into research in order to continue to grow revenue wise. It works for Amazon, so maybe it will work for twitter.
  • As they try and ramp up their revenue growth, they are cleaning up their act and acting quicker against trolls. I’d like to think it is because they are more concerned about users, but it is just as likely that they have decided trolls are bad for business
  • New user growth is flat. I am not surprised. I barely get new users following me, and if you think about it, the same is likely true for you.
  • Interaction is dying off. I still get a fair amount of interaction, thankfully. But it is much less than it used to be. Based on some recent analysis, that seems to be the case across the board, even if you are famous. Person A tweets: Person B responds, and at most, Person A favours Person B’s tweet. I believe Twitter is becoming less of a social community and settling into being just a microblogging platform.
  • I think Tweetstorms are terrible, still.