Tag Archives: Facebook

Deactivating AddThis

I’ve been using a couple of AddThis plugins on this site recently, in an effort to make it easier for folks to share things that they find interesting on the site, or to encourage folks to share or like the Facebook page, etc.

Tonight, however, I’m deactivating AddThis on the site. The reason? This article about tracking web visitors using canvas fingerprinting.

Rich Harris, chief executive of AddThis, said that the company began testing canvas fingerprinting earlier this year as a possible way to replace “cookies,” the traditional way that users are tracked, via text files installed on their computers.

“We’re looking for a cookie alternative,” Harris said in an interview.

Harris said the company considered the privacy implications of canvas fingerprinting before launching the test, but decided “this is well within the rules and regulations and laws and policies that we have.”

He added that the company has only used the data collected from canvas fingerprints for internal research and development. The company won’t use the data for ad targeting or personalization if users install the AddThis opt-out cookie on their computers, he said.

Arvind Narayanan, the computer science professor who led the Princeton research team, countered that forcing users to take AddThis at its word about how their data will be used, is “not the best privacy assurance.”

Look, I’m not particularly interested in tracking my readers. I am interested in having easy ways to help you spread the word about my sites, but there are plenty of other ways to do that. It’s not worth alienating those of you with privacy concerns, especially when I fall into that category myself!

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Depression Stigma in IT?

Closeup fireI’ve been struggling with writing this for a couple of weeks now, but ever since I saw the article over on TechCrunch entitled We Need To Talk About Depression it has been on my mind.

The article talks about some of the stigma associated with depression and mental health in a startup company.

Building a startup is like climbing a mountain and being told you’ll only get the gear you need–harnesses, helmets, bottled oxygen–as you struggle toward the peak. Long hours away from family, responsibility to investors and users, and the fear of failure are extremely stressful and they sometimes coalesce into something more severe.
I’m not a startup founder, but as a TechCrunch writer I’ve gotten to know many, some quite well, and I’ve seen how entrepreneurship can put even the most optimistic people at risk for depression.

It got me thinking about the tech world in general. There are certain stereotypes about tech workers; we work long hours, have no social life, deal with highly stressful situations putting out all of the technical fires that happen within our organizations, etc. Those stereotypes, unfortunately, also turn into expectations. I have always thought that was one of the bigger problems with attracting females to an IT career, this sense that they would be expected to work long hours, be on call for emergencies, and non-emergencies, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, etc. (Granted, there are many other reasons why there are a lack of females in the tech world, but this is not an article about that)

Those expectations would make it difficult for someone dealing with depression as well. As John Grohol stated in response to the above article:

 Indeed. When you’re young and feel like you have endless energy, working 80 hours a week (and getting paid for 40) seems like a good idea. But it’s not. It eventually catches up to you, stresses you out, and throws your entire life out of balance.

Some of the articles written around this topic sound like thinly-veiled excuses for the discrimination and prejudice that many have experienced in startup cultures. That because these environments are stressful and demanding, it somehow excuses discrimination and stigma of mental illness.

Here’s where it gets personal to me. I’ve struggled with depression. I’ve attempted suicide before. Sure it’s been years, but this is something that I know I have to be on the lookout for every single day of my life. It’s also something that, while I freely discuss it on my other site, I don’t often discuss professionally. Continue reading

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Trying Out LinkedIn Publishing

You know me, I can’t resist trying out new tools. So, naturally, when I got the invite to start publishing on LinkedIn, you know I had to try it. My curiosity about LinkedIn’s new tool got the better of me!

Anyway, I wrote up a piece about career advice I read a long, long time ago, called the Appreciation File. I’d appreciate it if you went and checked it out, and shared it with your own LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook followers as well! (See what I did there?)

Thanks!

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Smartphones Are Changing How People See The Internet

Reading this latest article about the future of the mobile web, Smartphones: The silent killer of the Web as you know it, I’m struck by the difference between how young people interact with the web, and how us old veterans do it.

Young people don’t use tablets because they don’t see them as necessary for accessing the internet, since their perception is that apps are what makes up the internet. They’ve grown up primarily using their phones, not using laptops with Web browsers. To this generation, it seems slow, purposeless even to go from website to website in a single, sub-par Web browser environment when they can get rich app experiences right from their home screen.

Of course, this sort of information intrigues me in two ways. One, is that part of the reasoning behind using apps instead of w web browser has to be because using a web browser on a phone sucks. Partially that is because sites don’t look good at all at that size even with a mobile theme like the WordPress option I use for this site. It’s better, but not great. Another reason it sucks is because we’ve become so good at redirecting people using phones to an app instead of the website. I can’t tell you how frustrating it is to click a link in a blog post on my phone to a news story, and have that site take me to the iTunes store to download their app, or redirect me to the mobile home page of their site instead of the link I wanted to read. It degrades the experience of using my phone to browse the web, so it’s no wonder people are much more likely to use an app instead.

This leads me to the second reason this intrigues me. If it’s true that more and more of the internet “audience” is using mobile devices, and only accessing the web through apps, what’s a website owner to do? As an independent, and unpaid, site owner I can’t pay to have someone develop an app for me. I’ve looked at some of the free “create your own app” services, and frankly, between very limiting licensing and very limited features, they didn’t really provide much of a resource. Not to mention that you still have to pay to be an Apple developer or Google Play developer if you want your app to be available in either of those places.

So it would seem that the only way to get your content in front of this growing mobile audience who doesn’t use a web browser, is to get your content into the apps they do use. This is why I’ve been toying around with various social networks, trying to get my content, and the other content I want to share, in front of this audience. I’ve been using the more traditional routes, posting to Twitter, Facebook and Google Plus, but recently I’ve also started to dabble on Tumblr and Flipboard, which seem to be a bit more popular among that younger, smartphone-using, audience. Over at my child abuse blog, I’ve already added a Flipboard magazine, and a tumblr blog. Both are an effort to get that content in front of smartphone users, and hopefully to get them to likewise share it. Over the next few weeks, I suspect I will be doing similar types of things here and on my other sites.

The bottom line is that I have my website in order to share ideas and information with other people, whatever the topic might be. If they won’t come to the site, I should try and get that same information to them another way. Developing my own app isn’t really an option, but getting the content into the apps they already use, is.

The trick is being able to also interact with people in those apps as well so that you don’t appear to just be auto-posting to a social network and dropping out like some spammer, which takes some time and effort, but ultimately that is the goal of all this sharing isn’t it, to spark conversations? So what if they happen in Tumblr instead of in the comments.

As I develop other tools for this site and others, I will be sharing that information, so if you want to use those services to get the content I’m sharing on your smartphone, or know someone who does, they’ll be able to do that.

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This Week’s Links (weekly)

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

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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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This Week’s Links (weekly)

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

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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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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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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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