Blogging and tech entrepreneur Anil Dash: “Marc Andreessen famously said that ‘software is eating the world,’ but it’s far more accurate to say that the neoliberal values of software tycoons are eating the world.” www.youtube.com
Huawei demoted two employees and cut their monthly pay for using an iPhone to send New Year greetings from its official Twitter account. Huawei is not fucking around. www.reuters.com
As opioid deaths have soared in recent years, police departments and strangers with cameras have started posting raw, uncensored images of drug users passed out with needles in their arms and babies in the back seats of their cars. The videos rack up millions of views and unleash avalanches of outrage. Then some other viral moment comes along, and the country clicks away.
But life is never the same for the people whose bleakest, most humiliating moments now live online forever. In interviews with The New York Times, they talked — some for the very first time — about the versions of themselves captured in the videos.
An unelected council of a few dozen Facebook employees decides what more than 2 billion people are allowed to share. Facebook “has quietly become, with a speed that makes even employees uncomfortable, what is arguably one of the world’s most powerful political regulators.” Max Fisher investigates in depth at www.nytimes.com
I’ve been struggling with my conscience this year about my Facebook usage.
On the one hand, Facebook has numerous, documented problems.
On the other hand, it brings people together.
I enjoy the conversation on Facebook, which I don’t find anywhere else — and I know from experience that asking people to follow me on another platform just doesn’t work.
And I use Facebook for professional and community activities.
I don’t know what to do about this. What do you think?
By visiting Myanmar for a meditation retreat, and tweeting about how wonderful the experience was, Jack Dorsey is lending financial support to a genocidal country. And speaking of tone-deaf, the Times headline makes it appear that Dorsey is being accused of merely being impolite, rather than supporting genocide, or at least ignoring it.
Did I Make a Mistake Selling Del.icio.us to Yahoo? (New York Magazine)
Much as I loved del.icio.us – and I continue to use del.icio.us clone Pinboard.in – del.icio.us was never going to be Facebook- Google- or even Twitter-big. People like images and design; a bare-bones text-only site was always going to be a niche.
(Oh, yeah, is that so, respond Reddit and Craigslist, sarcastically.)
Dave is my blogging spirit animal. I like blogging, and I like sharing on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Tumblr, and Medium. Of those platforms, I get the most return from Facebook. But blogging AND sharing to Facebook and Google+ are just too much work. So I’m going to start focusing mainly on the blog, and just automatically share links to Google+ and Facebook, until those platforms become easier to deal with in conjunction with a blog.
I’m working on figuring out a way I can share short updates directly to those services and to the blog simultaneously. This will involve automated email and plenty of duck tape.
You’re welcome to leave comments here, or on Facebook or Google+. Or just stop reading, even if you’re a close friend or member of my immediate family. I do not require other people to participate in my peculiar hobby.
I will revisit this decision when it doesn’t seem to be working for me, or when the tools for sharing blog content to social media get easier to work with.
I’ll keep mirroring my posts to Tumblr and Medium because that’s easy.
And I’m still trying to figure out what to do about Twitter.
Sierra was the target of a flood of graphic death threats over her blog about web design. Yes, that’s right — web design.
Benjamen Walker’s Theory of Everything podcast:
In 2007 writer, programmer, and horse trainer Kathy Sierra quit the internet because of misogynist hate trolling. She stayed off the social web for 7 years but last year she came back to see what Twitter was like. She tells us why she only lasted a few weeks and her theory about why so many women are targets online. Plus Danielle Keats Citron explains how we could use the law to drain the cesspool.
In the future, communities might choose, like the Amish, to remain static at past technology levels — the year 2000, say, or 1950 — as a living record of people’s relationship with technology and how it changes over time.
Social Media theorist Nathan Jurgenson wants us to understand what is truly revolutionary about ephemeral photographs and platforms like Snapchat, Fred Ritchin says we are going to get our minds blown “After Photography” and Finn Bruntun explains why we need to preserve our transition from Analog to Digital.
That surprises me. I find Markdown quite natural, which goes a long way to explaining why I do most of my writing in Ulysses.
I’m writing this post in Markdown, and if you’re reading it on Facebook or Google+, that’s how you’re reading it. But I’m not writing this post in Ulysses; I’m composing it directly in WordPress, which is how I do most of my writing for the blog and social media.
Via the Mac Power Users podcast, which compares Scrivener and Ulysses. I’m listening to the episode now.
I’ve been blogging at my own self-hosted WordPress blog for a few months. Before that, I did it on Google+, and before that various other platforms. I simultaneously post to Facebook, Tumblr, Medium, Twitter, and Google+. Here’s how I think about what to post:
Almost all of my blog posts are links to external content, with comments of my own. They’re short, sometimes just a sentence or two. Many of my blog posts are just an embedded tweet, image, YouTube video, or Tumblr post.
This kind of thing used to be called “tumble blogging.” There used to be several services for tumble blogging. Tumblr is the last man standing there.
Tumble blogging means posting a lot of fast, frictionless, off-the-cuff posts. Just say what’s on your mind, no matter how long or short the post might be.
In the past few years, I’ve seen people say they don’t think they can blog because they don’t have the energy to write long, organized, coherent articles. That makes my teeth hurt. Long, organized coherent essays are not required for blogging. Those essays are called “articles,” and they go on “magazines” or “news sites.” Blogging can include long, coherent, thoughtful essays, but it’s meant to be fast and off the cuff.
Personal blogging has mostly moved to Facebook nowadays. Which is great, because it brings people together and opens up blogging to people who would not otherwise do it. But it’s not entirely great because it gives Facebook far too much control of the situation. Remember a short time ago when Facebook employees suggested the company should block a Donald Trump Presidency? And remember when Facebook said nope nope nope we don’t do that. What happens next time if Facebook says yes? And they do it to a candidate or issue you like?
Facebook isn’t the only blogging platform, of course. It’s not the only social media platform either. But Facebook has the vast majority of users. Everybody else is by comparison a niche.
Says here that Spaces is designed for “small group sharing.” Aren’t there already a million tools for small group sharing? Wasn’t Google+ supposed to be all about private sharing? Isn’t email great for small group sharing?
Looks like Google is flailing with this one.
Also, I’m increasingly getting disenchanted with Google+. Google seems to be focusing on Collections and Communities for Google+, neither of which are particularly interesting to me. And Google’s continued refusal to open up a write API for Google+ runs counter to how I use social media.
I’ll continue to use Google+ as long as interesting conversation happens there, but I’m seeing a significant reduction in that recently. And it’s getting inconvenient for me to post to Google+. So if I disappear from Google+, you’ll know why.
For the long term, you can find me on mitchwagner.com. Or on Facebook – Facebook seems to be eating the Internet. I’m also on Tumblr, Medium, and Twitter, but all of those platforms seem precarious.
With regard to Spaces: It seems like this is another in a long line of Google social products that are doomed to either disappoint (Google+) or fail (Reader, Orkut, Buzz, Wave).
People are using messaging apps for updates from friends and family about their lives – in other words, people use those apps for “social networking,” says Mike Elgan on Computerworld. The former social networks are now social media, overwhelmed by professional media organizations sharing their content.
Another nail in the coffin for social networking: “the general world of online distractions, including YouTube videos, games, articles, podcasts and more.”
Just in time for me: I’m going to a conference next week where I’ll want to do some livetweeting, so I’m looking forward to trying this out.
But where’s Mac support?
Tweetbot for iOS Updated With New ‘Topics’ Feature for Linking Multiple Related Tweets – Juli Clover, Mac Rumors
In late February I decided I wanted to control the posts I make to social media. For several years before then, I posted to Google+, and used a service called Friends+Me to copy, or syndicate, those posts to Facebook, Tumblr, and Twitter.
This Google+-first strategy worked out well in a few ways. It was fun for me – and that’s the primary reason I do this, for fun, although I do get some professional benefits. I accreted a modest but decent-sized community. I got in some great conversations. I got in touch with old friends and stayed in touch with them, and made a few new friends.
But I was unsatisfied in that I didn’t control my posts. If Google+, Facebook, or those other guys disappeared or changed their business model to exclude me, I’d be screwed. Also, I couldn’t control the layout of posts. I couldn’t insert a simple link, or image, or video. And it was hard to find old posts when I wanted to refer back to something I’d written about in the past. Annoying.
I decided to go back to blogging, something I’d done sporadically before the social media era. I’d made a return to blogging once before in 2014, but went back to the Google+/Friends+Me method after a couple of months because I noticed all the conversations were happening on Google+, Facebook, and so on, so I figured there was no point in doing it on a blog.
This time, I had a reason to do it on the blog: Because it gave me control over my work. I hoped people would come to the blog to read and comment, but I’d be fine if the conversations continued on social media. Indeed, I’d be fine if the number of conversations reduced, because I was starting to get Internet-famous enough to attract rude strangers to my posts.
It’s been more than two months of the experiment. How’s it going so far?
Quite well, actually.
I still get in a lot of good conversations on social media and I have the blog, mitchwagner.com, as a hub. In addition to the pleasure of posting and conversations, I can fiddle around with WordPress, and its plugins and themes and stuff, which I like.
And Now, I Unfollow Thee [Katherine Rosman – The New York Times]
I am aware of one person I admire, and with whom I’ve occasionally corresponded over email, who unfollowed me on Twitter a couple of years ago. This happened soon after I made a comment in an email conversation that could have been construed as bigoted.
I also noticed a few months ago that someone who I once considered a real-life friend had unfollowed me on Twitter, after I made a comment that could be construed as disrespectful to his profession.
In both of those cases, it could just be that they found they weren’t enjoying all the posts I make about 20th Century kitsch and technical computer networking news.
And of course the real question is why should I, as a grownup man with a wife and a dog, care about all this high school bullshit? And it’s not like I’m up nights worrying about it and sobbing into my pillow. It just occasionally pops up in my head. Why did those guys unfollow me?
Ironically, in real life social situations, when the conversation turns to social media, I often tell people yes I am very active on social media and it’s ok if they don’t follow me. And I mean it. I know my tastes are idiosyncratic and not for everyone. If you enjoy my posts, great, I’m delighted to have you in my little club of lunatics. If not, that’s fine too and we can still be friends.
At least that’s what Silvia Killingsworth says on The Awl: O Reader! My Reader
I disagree. Inoreader is way better than Google Reader ever was. Lately, I’m finding myself using Inoreader more and social media less.
Inoreader is a pay service. If you want something free, Feedly is very nice.
RSS was never hugely popular, and with the alternatives popping up in the aftermath of Reader’s demise, I wouldn’t be surprised to find that it’s more popular now than it was when Google Reader was around.
Can Twitter prosper as a 300 million user service?
Will investors allow it to, or will they tear it apart to try to recapture their value from it?
In retrospect, it seems clear that Twitter went public years too early.
So that’s a step in the right direction.
It’s also a step in the direction of more diversity, replacing two white dudes with a white dude and white woman.
Twitter Swaps Out Two Board Members [Peter Kafka – Re/code]
… what’s hot now in social are raw, unfiltered windows into the lives of others.
Wasn’t this a trend around 2000? People mounted webcams in the corners of their houses and we got to watch them eat, poop, and have sex all day. Anybody remember JenniCam?
I expect the Mitch Stares Slack-Jawed at Screens for 10 Hours a Day channel to be a MEGA-HIT.
Soon to be followed by a spinoff: Jesus, How Old Are You And You Still Haven’t Learned To Chew With Your Mouth Closed?
Why Facebook And Mark Zuckerberg Went All In On Live Video [Mat Honan – BuzzFeed]
The mob was outraged at Nintendo for toning down the sexualization in American versions of some games, particularly sexed-up depictions of teen-agers and eliminating the features in one game that allowed players to change the sizes of women characters’ breasts. They blamed Nintendo employee Alison Rapp, and harassed her until she was fired. Rapp actually lobbied to keep the breast-size-change feature.
Yes, this is a real thing that actually happened.
Did Nintendo Fire an Employee to Appease a Gamergate Mob [Joshua Brustein and Jing Cao – Bloomberg]
The super-rich often say they’re broke when courts rule against them for big financial claims, but then their posts to Instagram and other social media give them away. They’ll post pictures of themselves with yachts and private jets. Moreover, investigators check the location metadata on posts to track down real estate assets.
And fraudsters are getting into the act, compromising email accounts and sending fake invoices for hundreds of thousands of dollars.
[The] rich kids of Instagram are, often unwittingly, revealing their parents’ hidden assets and covert business dealings, providing evidence for investigators to freeze or seize assets worth tens of millions of pounds, and for criminals to defraud their families.
Leading cybersecurity firms said they were using evidence from social media in up to 75% of their litigation cases, ranging from billionaire divorces to asset disputes between oligarchs, with the online activity of super-rich heirs frequently providing the means to bypass their family’s security.
Oisín Fouere, managing director of K2 Intelligence in London, said social media was increasingly their “first port of call”. Their opponent in one asset recovery case claimed to have no significant valuables – until investigators found a social media post by one of his children that revealed they were on his $25m yacht in the Bahamas.
Daniel Hall, director of global judgment enforcement at Burford Capital, said their targets in such cases tended to be people “of a slightly older vintage” who were not prodigious users of Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, but whose children, employees and associates often were. The firm recently managed to seize a “newly acquired private jet” in a fraud case because one of the two fraudsters had a son in his 30s who posted a photograph on Instagram of himself and his father standing in front of the plane.
“That’s the kind of jackpot scenario one hopes for,” said Hall.
The growing significance of social media in litigation was recently illustrated by rapper 50 Cent, who was ordered by a Connecticut court last month to explain a photo on Instagram in which he posed with stacks of $100 bills that spelled out “broke”, months after filing for bankruptcy. The rapper claimed the money was fake.
Yachts, jets and stacks of cash: super-rich discover risks of Instagram snaps [David Batty – The Guardian]
But I’ve increasingly become dissatisfied with that arrangement. Those platforms are owned by other people – Google, Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr. Those companies control the format of my posts, and who gets to comment on them. Those companies can make changes to their service, or even shut down entirely, and there’s nothing I can do about it.
All of that was something I was willing to live with for the trade-off of connecting with other people. But in recent months, the kinds of connections I get through those services have been unsatisfying. I’m getting more comments from jerks and other unpleasant randos, and getting tired of blocking them.
So now I’m posting my links and kibitzing here. Because I own this site, I have greater control over the platform than I do over what happens on social media.
A blog is a home. Social media is couch-surfing.
Does this mean I’m leaving social media?
Not at all. I’ll continue sharing my posts from here to Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr, and watching discussions there as before. Indeed, I’m looking for better ways to share on those platforms without taking up a lot of my time. Because this thing I do here is just a hobby.
I did this experiment once before, for five months in 2014, and ended up going back to social media. But now it’s different. At that time I was still concerned with increasing the numbers of people following me on social media – the size of my communities there. I’m less concerned now. My community numbers have been flat recently on all the services I use, and I don’t mind it. The noise from jerks and unpleasant randos is loud enough to make my social media experience less pleasant. More followers = more noise.
Also, social platforms like Twitter, Facebook, and Google+ are starting to become public squares. We’ve always talked about them that way, but I’m seeing that myself now and it’s a mixed blessing. We’re not individuals there, we’re just part of the group. I’ve had people commenting on my posts and refer to me in the third person – not even by name, just as “OP” (for “original poster” – a shorthand I first saw on Reddit). They start calling each other names. When I ask them to be civil with each other, they want to know who the hell I am to tell them what to do. I don’t bother to ask anymore. I just block them when they get too annoying. It’s tedious. It makes social media too much like work.
By moving off of social media to a blog platform, I make it harder for people to find and read my posts. Not a lot, just a tiny bit. And I like it that way. I’m hoping that tiny little speed bump will improve the quality of conversation. Anybody willing to make that tiny bit of effort to get here is welcome. But they have to make that tiny little bit of effort.
If my follower numbers grow by a little or a lot, I’ll be happy about that. But if they don’t, I’m fine with that too. I don’t plan to take any special steps to grow my follower numbers – no ads or search engine optimization or suchlike shenanigans. I want people to be able to find me easily if that’s what they want, and if they’re not interested, that’s fine too. 1
Also: I recently read a blog post by a friend who’s taking a Facebook break. She values her privacy so I won’t link to it. But she, like me, is an introvert. And like me she finds social media connections to be a substitute for real life connections. She was finding going on Facebook often made her feel bad. I can relate.
I hope that by taking this baby step back from social media, I can understand better the extent to which I value personal connections, and how much I need of them, and to what extent I’m happy to be my introverted self. 2
If you’re interested in continuing to read my links and posts, thank you! Just keep on following me on social media, as you were, and click over here to read anything you find interesting. Or don’t – that’s OK too. Or you bookmark this site and come back regularly. Or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Also, you can get a daily email newsletter of my posts. I think the newsletter option is nifty and I’m surprised more people don’t take advantage of it. Perhaps I haven’t spread the word enough?
By the way, my blogging here might be temporary. I get infatuated with one technology or another and then lose interest rapidly and move on, much to the annoyance of a few friends who look to me as a technology bellwether.
On the other hand, I do stay with some things. I’ve been an online enthusiast for 27 years, longer than the Internet has been popular with the general public. I’ve been in the Appleverse for nine years now and am still satisfied. And I’ve been blogging like I do here for about nine years as well. So don’t be surprised if this blog is still up and running in some form 10 years from now, and don’t be surprised if I give it up in a few months either.
I do expect that if I stick with this for years I won’t always be on WordPress. But I do think whatever platform I’m using, I’ll continue blogging, continue doing it here at this URL, and hopefully all the archives will be in the same place too.
- Even friends and family should feel no obligation to connect with me online. This is my peculiar hobby that I’m happy to share with anyone, but have no interest in inflicting on people unwillingly. ↩︎
- “Introvert” has become such an overused word on the Internet. It makes me feel like an annoying hipster to proclaim myself to be one. On the other hand, maybe I’m missing out on an opportunity to ride the hype. I could start introvert clubs! Host an introvert conference! Just send me money and stay home and do whatever you want without interacting with other people. ↩︎