Category Archives: SocialNetworking

If They Sell Advertising We Aren’t Their Customers

I found much of what Doc Searls wrote about Mozilla to be true of just about all of the services we use online these days.

By becoming an advertising company (in addition to everything else it is), Mozilla now experiences a problem that has plagued ad-supported media for the duration: its customers and consumers are different populations. I saw it in when I worked in commercial broadcasting, and I see it today in the online world with Google, Facebook, Twitter… and Mozilla. The customers (or at least the main ones) are either advertisers or proxies for them (Google in Mozilla’s case). The consumers are you and me.

This is what we’ve been seeing with Google’s pushing their users toward their social network, Facebook pushing business pages towards becoming customers and buying advertising, and we will continue to see it more and more. These companies, much like broadcast radio and the old days of broadcast television, only create products that will assist in selling advertising.

So, yes, Google, Facebook, Twitter, Mozilla, etc. have an interest in creating popular products that people like to use. After all, without the users, there’s no advertising market. But it’s not quite that straightforward. Because there’s always that third party involvement, the relationship between the user and the company is never a direct relationship. The company has another master to satisfy and sometimes, that master’s interests will be in direct contrast to the user’s interest. When two master’s interests are in competition, it’s usually going to be the one who signs the checks who wins.

You might not think that’s fair, and maybe it isn’t. There’s definitely a line that companies probably can’t cross with their users before they lose them and thus lose the advertisers as well, but we’ve gotten pretty entrenched with these products. It will hurt to walk away from using Facebook, probably more than it costs to continue using it, but there’s always a line in the sand, or at least a point where the law of the land and government agencies would step in and protect consumers.

Then again, with Google taking up lobbying the government as an arm of their business, I wouldn’t count on that.

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Simple Tags Makes Adding Tags to Old Posts Easy

Tag Cloud

It’s one of those things that I’ve gone back and forth about for years. I never started this blog with the idea of adding tags to posts. In fact, when I started it way back on Blogger, I don’t even think you could.

By the time I could, and wanted to, I had years of old posts without tags. Going back and trying to tag those items seems like a ridiculous amount of time and effort. So it hadn’t ever happened.

Lo and behold, a couple of weeks ago, I heard about a WordPress Plugin called Simple Tags. Not only does Simple Tags let you create auto tags, so even if you forget to tag a post, it can assign tags based on keywords, but it lets you go back and do the same thing for all of your posts.

Now, basing it solely on matching keywords isn’t a perfect solution, but in this case, there was no reason to let the perfect be the enemy of what is clearly better than doing nothing. So I came up with a list of keywords, and went ahead and let Simple Tags do it’s thing.

For example, if I used the word Twitter, or Facebook, in a post, let’s go ahead and add that tag. Same for Apple, Google, Microsoft, and so on. So now there’s a nice set of tags, and even a tag cloud, to help you find more posts about the same subjects, and I can continue to fine tune my tags to create some interesting ties to posts on the same subject.

Now I’m going to do the same thing over at the Child Abuse Survivor blog too, which has been going almost as long as this one.



WordPress Issues Bug Fix

I knew something weird was going on. My co-blogger over on the other site tried to create a new post last week, and it disappeared on him.

I found that odd. When I logged in, as the admin of the site, there was no indication that he had created anything. We had planned to try again in the next day or two, when I saw an announcement about a Wordpess 3.8.3 release, less than a week after the 3.8.2 release. Working for a software company, I know that a quick version update means something was wrong with the release, and sure enough, in the announcement post, I saw what looked like an explanation for what had happened to Ken’s post.

The “Quick Draft” tool on the dashboard screen was broken in the 3.8.2 update. If you tried to use it, your draft would disappear and it wouldn’t save. While we doubt anyone was writing a novella using this tool, any loss of content is unacceptable to us.

As the post goes on to explain, there is a possibility that the draft is in the database, if you update quickly, since the database will only save those sorts of lost drafts for 7 days. Sure enough, Ken’s partial post was in there after I applied the update.

So go apply the update before you try and save any drafts!


A Different Perspective on Social Networks

I can still see you


Let’s look at social networking from a different perspective, shall we?

As I’ve made my way around the interwebz recently, I’ve been reading up quit a bit about increasing traffic to a blog, or increasing engagement with your fans, etc. Call it a professional curiosity, as a blogger I’m always interested in the latest best practices, what’s working for others, what isn’t etc., but as I’ve made my way around, I’ve also realized that just about all of the social media advice out there is 100% targeted toward people with something to sell. While some of the advice is still worth checking out, I can’t help but feel overwhelmed by the commercialism of it all.

Look, I’m not against commercialism, every business has to make money, and they do so by selling things. I’m all for that. But even individuals who aren’t trying to sell something have a place in social media. In fact, as someone who’s been blogging for over a dozen years, without it being part of a business, I’d say there are lots of reasons to have a large social media presence any way.  Continue reading

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A Friendly Reminder About The Date


If you are ever going to pick a day to stop believing everything you see on Social Media sites, tomorrow would be a great day to start.

Consider yourself warned.

Personally, I’ll probably be avoiding Twitter, and others, tomorrow. It’s just too much work weeding out the chaff. I’m going to consider my online presence closed, unless something really interesting happens, that has nothing to do with April Fools.

Besides, tomorrow is also the 14th anniversary of my first date with the woman who is now my wife, which is a much more important thing for me than any prank could be. You may have your own thoughts on our first date, but I like to think that we started out on a “fun” day and have never stopped having fun!

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Facebook Making Pages More Useless

Given recent history of Facebook not showing posts from pages that you’ve liked and actually want to see posts from, the fact that they are coming out now and telling page owners that they are going to be displayed to even fewer fans in the future has me thinking about just dropping my Facebook pages altogether.

Given their response that the best way to reach the same people who have asked Facebook to show you their updates, is to purchase advertising, I’m tempted to not bother with trying to keep up Facebook pages for my blogs any more. Originally, I set up pages there as an easy way for people who used Facebook to follow the blog there, but obviously Facebook has decided that you shouldn’t be allowed to do that as a blog reader unless he blog owner pays for advertising. So, if you really want to follow this blog, check the sidebar for the RSS feed or email subscription. Don’t use FB to follow your online news sources.

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Using Twitter A Little Makes You More Productive

At least that seems to be the findings of new research.

I’m not that surprised by this. Microbreaks are an important part of staying productive. We simply can’t slog through work as effectively without taking a mental break. I’ve also noticed when I’m working somewhere onsite, there’s a difference in how I feel about what I do after I teach all day. On days when I don’t get to spend the class lunch break by myself, I feel very disconnected, not just from my social world, but also my work world. I don’t really get to check email or any sort of communication all day long. When I get a chance to take a lunch break and look at my phone, I simply feel more on top of things at the end of the training day. I don’t feel the tension to get back to the hotel and deal with email and check in with what is going on in the world. I have a pretty good idea of what I need to respond to, what I need to look at and don’t feel as overwhelmed by it.

Feeling overwhelmed is no way to stay focused and productive. If looking at my phone during breaks helps me avoid that, it’s better for everyone.

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Ever Used a Hashtag on Facebook?

Make Use Of lists 5 reasons why no one else is either.

What I found interesting in this article is that it seems to me that Facebook feel into a classic software blunder. They saw a feature in a competing product, Twitter in this case, and wanted to replicate it, without stopping to realize two things. One, why it was popular on Twitter and two, that it wasn’t really all that compatible with how people actually use their own product.

That means that if you only allow your friends to see your status updates, then only your friends will see your hashtag. This would explain why so many hashtags seem to go to empty conversations streams. Unlike Twitter, where everything is public, private hashtags may not have as much of a point, and make users question the real purpose of Facebook hashtags.

Frankly, this was one of the first things that occurred to me when I heard they were rolling out hashtags. How would that work when I post status updates that aren’t public? Is the point really about having conversations, or pushing people to have more public conversations instead of only among their friends? Obviously, if I’m hoping the use of hashtags will somehow get me noticed on a grander scale by anyone following that hashtag on Facebook, I’d make them public, but I’m not sure anyone really uses Facebook that way.

Twitter hashtags are great because they allow me to follow a real-time stream of updates around a topic, or at an event, etc.. Facebook status updates are not a very good real-time conversation, and users don’t really use them in the same way as we would a twitter stream.

Frankly, I’m not all that interested in what random strangers on Facebook say bout a given topic, that’s where I interact with my friends, or my page’s followers. I interact with the world at large on Twitter.

Adding hashtags to Facebook would be like adding music sharing to Flickr. It’s just not what people do there. If you’re developing any product, you should probably understand how your users use it before you try and replicate a feature just because it’s popular elsewhere.

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