Tag Archives: socialmedia

How to tighten up your privacy settings at Google, Facebook, Amazon and Venmo

Do you use Google, Facebook, Amazon or Venmo? Ha! Of course you do. Do you want to having better control of your privacy regarding these companies? If so, go here: A guide to every privacy setting you should change now – Washington Post.

(Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash )

On Facebook’s new glasses

So Facebook has teamed up with RayBans to make the glasses seen above. One of the features of these glasses is you can tap them and record pictures and videos. Mike Isaac has a good write up on them, here. I’d like to highlight one quote from that piece:

“Facebook is not naïve to the fact that other smart glasses have failed in the past,” said Jeremy Greenberg, policy counsel for the Future of Privacy Forum, a privacy nonprofit that is partly financed by Facebook. But, he added, “the public’s expectations of privacy have changed since the days of previous smart glasses releases.”

Yep. Pure Facebook. An org funded by Facebook indicated that people are cool with potential invasions of privacy.

From a design point of view, this partnership has made a better looking pair of glasses than Google did with their Glass product. From a privacy point of view, however, these things things are at least as bad if not worse than Google’s product.

I can’t predict how well these will do. I can predict, however, that we will see abuses of privacy as a result of them. For more on them, see: Smart Glasses Made Google Look Dumb. Now Facebook Is Giving Them a Try. by Mike Isaac in The New York Times.

How is twitter holding up in 2021?


How is Twitter holding up in 2021? It depends on how you look at it. As a service, it is trying to innovate with new features, but as this piece argues, it is kinda stuck: Twitter Is Stuck With Itself, Too – The New York Times.

As a company, though, it is doing well. For example, it continues to be profitable: Twitter Continues Its Profit Streak, While Still Shedding Users – The New York Times. The shedding users is a concern.

And compared to other services like YouTube, it is doing ok, as this piece shows: YouTube Is Underwhelming – The New York Times. In fact:

Twitter, which is not so hot at money, pulls in roughly double the ad sales on average from each of its users compared with YouTube.

Perhaps it should be acknowledged that the early social media companies like Twitter and YouTube are mature now and their growth and innovation peaks are behind them. Maybe they will continue to be like Facebook: mimicking every new company in the hopes of draining off some of that enthusiasm.

At least Twitter as a company seems to be doing well. For 2021, that may be all they need to be.
(Photo by Edgar MORAN on Unsplash)

Good rules for twitter use


There’s been some discussion of the pros and cons of twitter this week. From one of the pro pieces came these rules which I thought were pretty good:

Never check the site before 8am.

Mute anyone who is neither funny nor polite.

Mute notifications regularly.

Delete the app periodically.

Never assume anything is important just because it’s big on Twitter.

Never say in conversation, “As I recently tweeted”.

The pro piece is here: I’m a Twitter addict and I don’t care | Financial Times

(Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash)

How powerful is twitter?


I agree with this assessment by Noah Smith: it is not powerful at all. It can seem powerful at times, like a very high wind. But like a very high wind, it either subsides or moves on. Sometimes there is damage, but mainly not.

If you disagree, I recommend you read his piece. It’s a pretty strong argument for why twitter as a social force is limited.

P.S. I have felt that for some time. I mainly post things that are either positive or amusing. If I want to take social action, there are concrete ways to do that.

P.S.S. Tweets are like straw, blowing this way and that way, yet not moving and not affecting things, besides making a nice noise.

(Photo by seth schwiet on Unsplash )

On China and LinkedIn

Unlike other social media giants, LinkedIn rarely generates controversy or makes the news. An exception to that is this story about the platform running into problems in China: China Punishes Microsoft’s LinkedIn Over Lax Censorship from The New York Times.

What happened? In a nutshell:

LinkedIn has been the lone major American social network allowed to operate in China. To do so, the Microsoft-owned service for professionals censors the posts made by its millions of Chinese users. Now, it’s in hot water for not censoring enough.

I am not sure how they are going to recover from this, if they ever do.  It’s going to be worth keeping an eye on this, as well as how other social media companies make changes to suit the needs of the Chinese government. Those companies might find they land between two chairs if the U.S. government starts pressuring them in other ways.

(Photo by Greg Bulla on Unsplash)

On my tweeting and my working

Someone today highlighted my tweeting while working. I thought it useful to explain how I work and how tweeting fits in.

For the past many years I have mostly worked in solitude. I get assignments and projects where I am mostly working by myself. I have some meetings where I talk to people, but 50-90% I don’t speak with anyone, day in and day out.

For many people that would be unbearable, but mostly I like it. Mostly. I do like to have company and I do like to stay in touch with the world. For that I use work tools from time to time. But I also use twitter.

On days where I am not slammed with work, I will use the pomodoro approach. I will set a timer for 15-25 minutes (depending on how good or bad my ADD is that day). Then I will take a 5 minute break and check out and respond on twitter. Then I will set a timer again. By doing this, I can get my brain to stay focused. I can do my work in focused spurts and then let my squirrelly brain go for a few minutes.

I have found by doing this I am the most productive I can be. So if you think, “how can this guy be productive if he is on twitter all the time?”, well, now you know.

P.S. If you say “why can’t you just stay focused like me”, I can just say my brain isn’t like yours. You may as well ask: “how come you can’t be the same height as me?”

(Photo by Chris J. Davis on Unsplash)

On making a mediocre dinner and appreciating mediocrity

I just made a mediocre dinner. You can see it above. It’s not styled in any way. The lighting isn’t great. The ingredients are cheap and basic. The side of mustard looks awful. it’s a pile of food on a plate to feed a hunger.

While it is mediocre, it isn’t bad. The food is fresh. It’s filling. It may not be the most nutritious meal ever but it’s nutritious enough. It killed my hunger and I enjoyed eating it.

While I was making it, and even before, I thought: how should I prepare this so that it will look good enough to share on social media? Should I make a sauce? Chop up some herbs to make it more photogenic? Plate it attractively?

Then I thought: I just want to eat some food that I like that is ok. It’s like a hot dog or a bowl of cereal: it can satisfy a need without being of interest to anyone but the person eating it.

And maybe I need to think more of food that way. I am not a chef or food professional, but the way I share my food photos and think about my meals, you would think I am aspiring to be. I think that aspiration is a problem at times, just as it can be for anyone with aspirations on social media. Maybe it’s time to revisit my relationship with food and my relationship with social media.

Social media can be a force of good. It can let us discover people with talent that we might not otherwise notice. It can help us celebrate the finer things in life. But it can also distort things and get us seeking attention when we don’t really need it. Perhaps a simpler and more basic approach to things outside of social media is better.

Enjoy things for what they are. Understand there is a place and a time for the most basic to the more advanced. Know when it is right to share things and when it is right to just live and be in the moment and then let it go. Those are all imperative sentences that can apply to me. Perhaps they can apply to you as well.

To many people, grey is a dull and boring colour. But for people like me, there is so much to appreciate in the colour grey. Likewise for things mediocre. My meal was mediocre tonight, but it was filling and tasty and nutritious and economical: all things I appreciate. May you appreciate all the grey and mediocre things in your life too.

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On the Facebook Boycott, and social media platforms generally

Like Fox News, I suspect Facebook will make tweaks to its service to make boycotts go away: As Facebook Boycott Grows, Advertisers Grapple With Race – The New York Times. But either through intent or due to systematic issues, I don’t think Facebook will ever change from being a malignant platform. Certainly not a long as Mark Zuckerberg reigns as CEO with a growth over everything strategy.

It’s easy to blame Zuckerberg. But even if he did moderate Facebook, I think we’d be not much better off. Facebook and to some degree Twitter and Reddit are all social media platforms intent on growing as much as possible. They have some other guiding principles for their companies, but growth is top of the list. In some ways they are like invasive species: they move in and grow incessantly until they dominate an environment, often at the great expense of whatever was there before (e.g. newspapers).

I believe the next thing societies need to do is understand this invasiveness and what it does to the existing social contracts and come up with approaches to manage these platforms. I am not sure how successful we will be. The Chinese government seems to have managed it, but at the expense of the people they govern. There needs to be a better way. I wish I could see better examples of what it is.

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On Reddit finally getting its act together

Glad to see Reddit is finally getting it’s act together:
Reddit, Acting Against Hate Speech, Bans ‘The_Donald’ Subreddit – The New York Times.

Reading the story, you can see how extremely slow Reddit has been to deal with this. And even before they shut down this part of their site, they gave it ample warning:

… the company’s executives have struggled in particular with how to handle “The_Donald” and its noxious content. Reddit said people in “The_Donald” consistently posted racist and vulgar messages that incited harassment and targeted people of different religious and ethnic groups on and off its site.

“The_Donald” has also heavily trafficked in conspiracy theories, including spreading the debunked “PizzaGate” conspiracy, in which Hillary Clinton and top Democrats were falsely accused of running a child sex-trafficking ring from a pizza parlor in Washington.

Reddit said that as of Monday, it was introducing eight rules that laid out the terms that users must abide. Those include prohibiting targeted harassment, revealing the identities of others, posting sexually exploitative content related to underage children, or trafficking in illegal substances or other illicit transactions.

While the site had already banned many of these behaviors, the latest changes take a harder line on speech that “promotes hate based on identity or vulnerability.”

Mr. Huffman said users on “The_Donald” had frequently violated its first updated rule: “Remember the human.” He said he and others at Reddit repeatedly tried to reason with moderators of “The_Donald,” who run the subreddit on a volunteer basis, to no avail. Banning the forum was a last-ditch effort to contain harassment, he said.

“We’ve given them many opportunities to be successful,” Mr. Huffman said. “The message is clear that they have no intention of working with us.”

I mean, the rules (highlighted in bold) were what they had to follow. And they couldn’t. Meanwhile you have Glenn Greenwald tweeting this blanket statement:

Why trust Silicon Valley? Well, for once, they seem to be waking up to the problem they’ve been having. I trust them more now than I have for decades. For too long Reddit has hosted some of the worst parts of the Internet. Glad to see they’ve decided to flush it. Let it crawl off to the chan sites of the world.

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Why I post mostly random nonsense on Twitter (as opposed to trying to influence the world with my tweets)

Many years ago I gave up on the notion of having any form of influence using Twitter, either as an individual or as part of a bigger force united by some such thing as a tag. Indeed, I gave up on the idea of using Twitter for anything other than sharing things with the few people who engage with me at all on this site.

I don’t think I can accomplish much of anything positive on this site. Anything I do share has a life span of 18 minutes on average (see below). For the few people who follow me and engage with me, that life span is likely longer. I know there are people who read tweets posted hours or even a day earlier. But those people are exceptions. Exceptions I appreciate!

Occasionally I share something and it gets shared by someone with more followers, but that rarely gets me more followers or other forms of engagement. It’s something odd to note and move on.

I treat this site as a coffee shop I wander into from time to time. I overhear some distorted form of the news, I get some weird opinions. From time to time I hear something brilliant. Often I’ll laugh at something odd or funny. Then I log out. This site is no longer the Cafe Central in Vienna, with Trotsky in the corner plotting revolution. If it ever was.

Besides, I am aware that there are people here who do try to use the site to foment small bursts of unrest and unhappiness. Why encourage that in any way?

If you still believe or witness positive change happening because of your engagement here, then that’s great. I suspect for the vast number of people updating statuses and reading them, that does not occur.

As far as mediums go, I still like it. I have given up on most other social media, save this and Instagram and my blog. I still get some social engagement from this and Instagram, which keeps me coming back. And Instagram and my blog are good ways to leave a record (something twitter is pretty poor at doing).

So if you wonder why I post mostly random nonsense on Twitter (as opposed to trying to influence the world), now you know.

P.S. Regarding the lifespan of a tweet:

Tweets have the shortest lifespan of any social media post, about 18 minutes. And there’s not much you can do about it. Twitter is fast-paced, and messages get buried more quickly. The newest algorithm  means that posts are no longer displayed chronologically, so yours might live a little longer, but your tweet will still get pushed down the page quickly.

via What Is The Lifespan Of Social Media Posts? – Epipheo

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What is the Internet?


I have long ranted against people who confuse the Internet with the (World Wide) Web or social media or basically the part of the Internet they are familiar with.

Well now I no longer have to rant. I can just point people to this: The internet, explained – Vox.

The writers are Vox have done a fine job of explaining what the Internet is. Take a few minutes and read it. I’ve been on the Internet since the late 80s (email was the main use back then).  While it is constantly evolving, the fundamental aspects of the Internet don’t change much. Read that piece and you will be good for a few decades.

 

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Yes, social networking technology distorts how you think of the world


And this piece tries to show how this happens: The Social-Network Illusion That Tricks Your Mind – MIT Technology Review

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Do you take great Instagram photos? Now there’s an app that lets’ you sell them.

The folks at 8×10 want to make it easy for you to sell your Instagram photos. (And let’s face it, some  of you take great photos!). For details on the program, go here: 8×10 – Sell Limited Edition Fine Art with a Single Post to Instagram

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The things you reveal about yourself inadvertently when you post on Instagram


Suppose you post a lot of pictures with blue colours in them on Instagram. So what, you say? Well, according to this, What Your Instagram Posts Reveal about Your Mental State (and Why That’s Important) | Social Media Today, it shows you’re depressed. Whaaaaat? you say! In the piece, they state:

…. the researchers asked 166 Instagram users for permission to analyze their posts and also asked whether or not they had a diagnosis of clinical depression from a mental health professional. What they found was that people with depression over-indexed in several categories in regards to their Instagram post composition.

For example, people with depression prefer darker colors and more grays or blues than non-sufferers.

You might think this is not much better than phrenology, and I tend to agree.

Just keep in mind that all those pictures you post are being analyzed by someone to sell you something.

Read the article and decide if you want to reconsider what you post.

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So you want to become famous on Instagram? You might want to read this first

Why? Because as this article shows, become famous on Instagram is a lot harder than you might think:  I Tried to Make My Dog an Instagram Celebrity. I Failed. – The New York Times.

Yes, I know you are not a dog, but the same lessons will apply.

My guess is that the ship has sailed on become famous on Instagram. Same for podcasts and any other social media that has been around for a few years. You need to get in early, work hard, and take advantage of network effects.

If you do decide to become Instagram famous and manage to pull it off, please come here and mock me and I will update this post. 🙂

On deplatforming on social media

Deplatforming is starting to rise up as a means of dealing with the bad effects of social media. For instance:

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On cities and digital technology and loneliness

This is a good piece: How to redesign cities to fight loneliness.

It talks about how cities and services can be changed to fight loneliness. This is good. The flipside of it, though, is that cities are designed and have evolved to promote loneliness. One of the reasons people come to cities is to get away from things. The cost of that is often loneliness.

Cities are not the only contributor. Digital technology also can contribute to loneliness. But like cities, digital technology can also help to assist those struggling with being alone.

The bigger problem is loneliness in general. Cities and digital technologies can help there. But there are bigger social and cultural issues in the mix, and those need to be addressed as well.

 

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Beyond Twitter, or how Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Has Mastered the Politics of Digital Intimacy using Instagram.

An interesting development. Ocasio-Cortez is using Instagram in a way that may bring on the new version of the fireside chat. For example:

A few days before Thanksgiving, newly elected New York Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez went live on her Instagram feed to cook dinner and chat with her hundreds of thousands of followers. She took questions on topics ranging from the challenges of entering Congress, to the specifics of progressive policy goals like the newly dubbed #GreenNewDeal, to whatever else came up. She made mac-and-cheese in her Instant Pot. The next day she used Twitter to thank attendees of the Instagram Q&A, but if you’d missed it, too bad: Instagram Live Videos are only available after the fact if the account holder chooses to save a replay and make it public. The same is true with Instagram Stories, which by default vanish from the site after 24 hours, unless the user saves them as a “highlight.” Right now, Ocasio-Cortez has only five of her many stories saved at the top of her account. If you want to keep track of the congresswoman-elect, you’d better stay logged in.

It will be interesting to see how this form of communication develops. For more on this: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Has Mastered the Politics of Digital Intimacy – Pacific Standard

Apparently there is a link to delete instead of deactivate your Facebook profile

And this page apparently has it: This one link is the only way to truly delete your Facebook profile | IT Business. I haven’t tried it: I am settling on deactivating my account for now. If you want to go beyond deactivating, go to that page and try it.

 

Are you afraid of Facebook tracking you? Do you use Firefox? Then read on.

If you are afraid of Facebook tracking you and you use Firefox then you want to consider this:  Facebook Container Extension: Take control of how you’re being tracked | The Firefox Frontier. 

If you are comfortable installing extensions you really want to consider this.

Blogging: still a good idea


Of all the social media that has come along in the last 10 years, blogging is in some ways the best of them all. It allows for a wide range of expression.  It is not ephemeral. It has a freshness to it, but you can look back in a few years and still read it.

I recommend that everyone blogs. Even in 2017. If you are still skeptical, consider this piece: Seth Godin Explains Why You Should Blog Daily — CJ Chilvers

Where is Facebook now and why should you care

Facebook and politics

John Lanchester manages in a review of a number of books to extensively pin down where Facebook is, here:

John Lanchester reviews ‘The Attention Merchants’ by Tim Wu, ‘Chaos Monkeys’ by Antonio García Martínez and ‘Move Fast and Break Things’ by Jonathan Taplin · LRB 17 August 2017

Here’s some reasons why you should care, even if don’t use Facebook

Facebook has an ability to influence politics in ways that no one understands, except possibly Facebook. I don’t imagine they are going to share that information readily. Politicians need to push back on Facebook and discover the extent of their influence.

My belief is that the strength and influence of social media like Facebook is going to decline in the next few years. That’s not anywhere certain at this point, though, and the power they have needs to be limited now.

Cindy Sherman is on Instagram and is doing something new

And the New York Times has a good analysis of here work so far. I really enjoyed the analysis. As for me, I found it interesting that she has transitioned the account from a basic one that recorded events the way most of us do into something that extends her art in a way few of us can do. I also like that great artists like Sherman can take new media and incorporate it into their work but also extend it. David Hockney did something similar with the Brushes app. Here's hoping more artists do such things.

Instragram = advertising

Each social media has an implicit purpose. The stronger ones have a purpose that is clear. Facebook: stay connected to family and friends; LinkedIn: connect with employees/employers. For Instagram, the purpose is advertising. For most people, it is advertising your life. For certain people, with many many followers, it is advertising products.

To get a sense of how much Instagram is about advertising, see this: Confessions of an Instagram Influencer – Bloomberg. While many of us are amateurs at advertising on Instagram, this article will show you how the pros go about it.

I have often looked at people Instagram proposes I follow and I have wondered why people take the photos they do. This article helps explain that. It also helps one understand why some people’s photos look nothing like yours.

How to stop Whatsapp from sharing information with Facebook 

Instructions are here as to how to stop Whatsapp from sharing information with Facebook.

Facebook owns Whatsapp. I expect this simple opt out may not be so simple in the months and years to come. You may have to make a harder choice then when it comes to privacy on Whatsapp. In the meantime, you can follow those instructions to maintain the separation between your Whatsapp data and your Facebook data.

Some big changes on twitter

Two new things: 1) a quality filter 2) notification settings. While people are talking a lot about the first one, I think the second one might just be the thing most people need. For more details, see this: New Ways to Control Your Experience on Twitter | Twitter Blogs

How the ‘Spicy Boi’ comments on Hillary’s Instagram shows the difficulty of dealing with trolls

To see what I mean, read this piece in NYMag, Everyone Is Commenting ‘Spicy Boi’ on Hillary’s Instagram. Note how the social networks cross over the various platforms. The social organization of this activity goes from platform (iFunny) to platform (Twitter) to platform (Instagram). No doubt at some point it will appear on Reddit, 4chan, and who knows where else. It’s very hard to deal with trolls when you have people on one platform (e.g. Twitter) trying to control things, yet you can have social groups planning raids, etc. on other platforms.

Three thoughts:

  • the comment section for big accounts on Instagram is next to useless. I wonder why it is even enabled for them? I think they should disable it, or give the user the option to disable it.
  • In many cases, the comment sections should be limited to such things as “Likes” or “Thumbs Up” or simple polls.
  • Social media needs to involve either really good AI or (better) really good people to moderate things. It can’t happen soon enough.

Twitter: a former bar you used to love and now visit nostalgically

I’ve likely said enough about twitter. So much so, that there doesn’t seem much else to say. I wanted to highlight this comic, though (the long, slow death of Twitter | Technology | The Guardian) because it wonderfully sums up the arc of Twitter over the years. It matches my thoughts and feelings about the platform very well.

I still come to Twitter, the way you go to a bar you used to love. There’s not as many friends there as there was before, but there are still some. It becomes as much a visit to experience nostalgia as anything else. But then the shouters and the fighters show up and you remember why you lost your interest in it.

More on the decline of Twitter from a variety of sources

From the New Yorker and Business Insider. A rebuttal here, on Medium, and also Slate.

My take is a simple one: most people are interacting less on Twitter. This likely leads to people contributing less on Twitter, which leads to a downwards spiral. I see this on other social media as well.

The one exception to those interacting less are active self promoters. Self promoters, whether doing it personally or professionally, are still interacting regularly with social media such as Twitter. After all, it’s free and it’s better than doing nothing.

Overall, though, I expect there to be a decline in use of all kinds of social media, until someone can invent a social media that is more effective than what we have today. That may be a few years off.

On Facebook, the company

Facebook is a company. It’s not Mark Zuckerberg. It’s not an app you use on your phone. It’s a collection of services that is growing rapidly and it may be poised to grow at even crazier rates than it has now, if you believe what is in this piece, Inside Mark Zuckerberg’s Bold Plan For The Future Of Facebook. Key point it raises:

The Facebook of today—and tomorrow—is far more expansive than it was just a few years ago. It’s easy to forget that when the company filed to go public on February 1, 2012, it was just a single website and an app that the experts weren’t sure could ever be profitable. Now, “a billion and a half people use the main, core Facebook service, and that’s growing. But 900 million people use WhatsApp, and that’s an important part of the whole ecosystem now,” Zuckerberg says. “Four hundred million people use Instagram, 700 million people use Messen­ger, and 700 million people use Groups. Increasingly, we’re just going to go more and more in this direction.”

Reading this, you get the sense of a company that is going to bigger in a few years than it is now, which seems incredible to me. Note this article: it will be worth revisiting in a few years.

That said,  there are a few points I’d like to add:

  1. I actually think that Facebook the app/website is declining in active usage. It is very clever showing you things people like, even if people you know aren’t posting things. You get a sense of activity on Facebook the app/website whenever you log in. You never get the sense that it is not being used by people, even if many of the people you follow aren’t actively contributing at all. I suspect if you dropped your Facebook friends down to next to none it would still show you the same amount of information. If Facebook the company is going to remain successful, it needs to diversify from it’s main service.
  2. It is interesting that people continue to compare Twitter to Facebook. To me, there is little to compare. Facebook seems to have a better growth plan and even have a better app. If Facebook the service declines, the diversification into places like WhatsApp and Instagram is strong in a way that is unlikely to be matched by services like Vine or Periscope. While there is some commonality between the two companies, I think the story of their divergence will become a bigger one over time. Contributing to that big difference is Facebook remains a stable company with a stable leadership while Twitter’s leadership remains chaotic and unstable.
  3. The narrative in that story is very optimistic. If the numbers for any of those organizations start to slip, I could see the narrative changing, just like it has for so many IT companies. Right now the narrative is: Facebook is a very successful company and it is going to become more successful with all these promising ideas. The narrative can easily become: Facebook is a very troubled company and it is going to become more troubled with all these ideas doomed to fail. (See Yahoo! for an example of such a narrative.)

Where Twitter the company may be going

This piece: Startups and Shit, Twitter’s Product is F—– Fine by @startupljackson on Twitter, is the best analysis I have seen of what twitter can and should be doing over the next time.

Read the piece, but in a nutshell, Twitter should not look to grow Twitter the Service so much as Twitter the company, that company being a collection of services, from Twitter to Vine to Periscope to…well, we will see. The Twitter service itself provides a foundation for the company to grow on. Over time, if Twitter the service shrinks, Twitter the company could still grow based on the other services.

Smart take on the company.

Twitter is in trouble! Again!

Since I have been using Twitter, it’s been in trouble. And according to this really good piece, Twitter is in trouble. Here’s why. – Vox, it still is! What is new is the the type of trouble it is in. Previous troubles were technical and then social. Now it’s business trouble.

My take:

  1. they need to be less controlling and make it a platform.
  2. they need new leadership.

Otherwise they are going to become MySpace.

 

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.

 

 

Some thoughts on blogging and social media with the news that Dooce is retiring

According to one big name blogger, Jason Kottke, another big name blogger, Dooce, is retiring. How big is big? According to this piece in the NYTimes.com (Heather Armstrong, Queen of the Mommy Bloggers – NYTimes.com), she is hinted at having earned $1M / year. That’s pretty good money. This comes on the heels of Andrew Sullivan, another big name blogger, who recently retired too.  From the sounds of it, Jason Kottke himself is thinking that the days of blogging are numbered. It seems the days of a very limited number of big name bloggers making good money are numbered.

Dooce, Kottke, Sullivan and others rode the wave of the golden age of blogging. Dooce and Kottke kept up the format longer than others. Sullivan, Josh Marshall, and many of the political bloggers I started following years ago, have all but abandoned pure blogging. Marshall’s TPM still retains some elements of his original blog, but his site is more like CNN and less like a traditional blog. Sullivan’s site was chronological, but it was more like a blog on steroids that turned out 30 or more posts a day from a variery of sources. Others, like Nate Silver (538), Matt Yglesias and Ezra Klein (Vox) all went off and start up variations of what Marshall did with TPM. The model of Vox and 538 is more like Buzzfeed and less like a blog.

Kottke and Dooce are good at what they do, but they also were in the right place at the right time. I admired Kottke and modelled my blog off of what he did, but in truth, there was no way my blog would ever catch his. The same goes for Dooce and her mommy blogging. They occupy the left end of the long tail, while most of us occupy the right end. That’s fine: it is great that it is possible for anyone to be able to write and have it published for free. While your writing may not be read widely, it will be read by more people than you expect. That has certainly been the case for me. When I first started, I was thrilled to have anyone read my blog. As of this post, thousands of people have read my posts over 800,000 times. I am still astonished by that.

Like much in IT, blogging hasn’t died so much as it has been displaced. One time blogging was about the only social media out there. Now, all media is social media.  There are so many choices now. Not only that, but as networks get faster, sites like YouTube and Vine and other visual sites attract more attention. Video is the future.

Blogging still exists and likely will continue to exist for some time. The fact you are reading this proves that. As well, blogging platforms like WordPress seem to be doing well. While some platforms like Posterous went away, others like Tumblr continue to attract new writers and new audiences. I expect to see people writing in this format for some time to come.

What I don’t expect to see happen is individuals making the money that Kottke and Dooce and Sullivan made. Those days are done. Perhaps people will make money blogging by doing it in conjunction with sites like Patreon.com. That’s a possibility. Also, people may use blogs as a way to promote other ways they make money.

Blogging, derived from the words “web logging”, was a way to log your thoughts chronologically on the web. It seems  old and trite now. But the need to write and the need to have others read the words that you have written will never get old. We need new and better platforms. Medium.com tried to do that. Other sites, from Google+ to Facebook to Twitter to Ello have all tried to offer some way to do that. Maybe the golden age of online writing via some platform like blogs is over, and people will write less and share less. Or maybe people are waiting for the next great platforms to start creating again.

 

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.

ifttt 101. Yes, you need to take this course. It will change your life.


Of all the things on the Internet, ifttt is one of my favorites. It could be yours too. Simply, it is a way to take two of your favorite things on the Internet and combine them into something even better.

First, to learn more about it, go here: How to Supercharge All Your Favorite Webapps with ifttt.

Second, once you read that, go to the site and browse the recipes. Or try and create your own: it isn’t hard.

I especially encourage it for anyone trying to update several forms of social media at the same time. You can link Facebook, Instagram, WordPress, Tumblr, Google, Blogger…you name it. With some practice, you will find recipes that help you keep all your social media in sync and working automatically.

I also encourage people who are interested in the Internet of Things. Or people who want to supercharge their phone. Or…well, just browse the recipes and you’ll likely see one that makes things easier for you.

Ello, we must be off.

I thought: I better share some thoughts on Ello before it is too late!

Here are two views on Ello. First one, negative: Aral Balkan — Ello, goodbye. Second one, affirmative: How To Ello In 5 Easy Steps.

My own view is that people are not going to adopt a new social network unless there are significant benefits to doing so. The last one that I have seen that was successful was Instagram. In the meantime there has been a number that have not taken off, from Google Wave and Google+, to app.net and Yo. I suspect that Ello will join the latter group, rather than Instagram.

What happens to your online life after you die?

In most jurisdictions, not much. The state of Delaware is attempting to deal with this legally. To see why,  look at this chart:

The law has an interest in determining how to deal with this online property, especially as it will sooner than later come up in legal disputes.

Here’s hoping more jurisdictions get on this as well.

Does Twitter suck now? Here’s some opinions to compare with your own

I’ll let you decide. Here’s two points of view (not mine):

1) Yes, it does suck (The end of Big Twitter – Text Patterns – The New Atlantis)

2) No, it does not suck (Does Twitter Suck Now?)

My thoughts are mixed on this, as I’ve written earlier.  I’d like to say it is getting better, but I cannot.