Archive | July, 2010


Facebook Questions: Both Literal and Metaphorical

Facebook is rolling out its questions feature to users.  While I’m waiting to see the feature in action, I’m not too excited that this will be some type of killer feature.

As a highly opinionated person, it’s not much of stretch that I’m not a fan of crowd sourcing.  To me, Questions seems like running out into the street and yelling your question out, hoping that some sane persona passing by will answer it in a timely, relevant, and much saner manner than you asked.  These people are either saints or madmen.  I’m not sure which.

Still, Facebook Questions will be better than similar services such as Formspring or Yahoo! Answers only because people won’t be anonymous.  If people start asking dumb questions like, “Am I pregnant?!” or “I think I have a STD, do I?” the question will be associated with that person’s name and profile.  This means one thing: Public Ridicule.  While I don’t like to call people out, shame is a good tool to prevent really dumb questions.

The more features Facebook rolls out, the more Facebook becomes like AOL in the late 90’s.  There’s a lot of interesting, useful, and relevant content on the site, but you know there is much more when you get off of Facebook and go onto the rest of the web.  Questions is one more feature designed to try and keep people coming back for more, but doesn’t seem fully baked.

The biggest problem with Questions is it doesn’t connect you with your friends.  Sure, you could make a new “friend” or ten, but the nature of this feature doesn’t build on any of the existing relationships you have.  Where is the network in this social network?

So, do you want 500 million bad answers, or one good answer?


It’s my Forum and I’ll Crush Your Soul if I Want…

It’s my Forum and I’ll Crush Your Soul if I Want to.

I don’t understand people who get upset when they get kicked out because they did not abide by the rules of the forum.  It’s like getting mad for going to jail because you murdered someone.  Grow up, get over it, and start acting like an adult online.

Or continue to act childish and go somewhere else.  There’s an entire internet waiting for you to piss them off.


Twitter’s Fundamental Change for the Worse

Twitter plans to introduce media into the Tweet Stream. This is the worst idea in the history of Twitter.

For now, let’s ignore the fail whale problem. Even though we know the server load will only increase exponentially as the stream has to distribute hundreds of images and videos along with text, let’s ignore this for the greater issue at hand.

Twitter loses its fundamental purity of form by inserting media into the stream.  It becomes a gimped version of Tumblr.

On Twitter, all people are equal.  Everyone gets the same one hundred and forty characters to work with.  Whether you want to write a funny tweet or get people to click a link, you have to write something good.  You have to make your words work.  Videos and Pictures integrated into the stream annihilate the need to make your words relevant.

 With 100 million users, there is no way Twitter can control who is sharing what image regardless of if it is copyrighted by someone else.  While this isn’t entirely a bad thing, it doesn’t sit right.  Users go to Twitter to see a person’s unique words and images.  The last thing Twitter needs is to become a realtime version of 4chan.

Part of what makes Twitter so addictive is you are able to check it very quickly.  Loading images and videos into the stream will increase the amount of time it takes for the stream to load.  Without that quick load ability, Twitter could lose some of the potential addiction it has on mobile devices.

Moreover, this just seems to aim at destroying a huge amount of the ecosystem built around Twitter.  Should Twitter choose to host images itself, image services such asTwitPic and yfrog will be decimated.  Video services like Qik and Twitvid could also be thrown aside if Twitter chooses to host video.  This will build a more bad blood between developers and Twitter.  There is already a rift growing between them, and media has the potential to push it over the edge if Twitter shows it doesn’t care for those services that have helped it grow to this point.

The worst aspect of this is that Twitter loses its fundamental equality.  Nothing can compare to seeing that one tweet that makes you laugh out loud, or really think.  The marvel in this is that each tweet is sort of like poetry; grand ideas crammed into as short of a form as possible.  Images, video, and other media take that away.

And once that purity is lost, it can never be reclaimed.


Side Note: In 2008, my cell phone was stolen.  I couldn’t…

Side Note: In 2008, my cell phone was stolen.  I couldn’t replace it for an entire month.  In that time, I learned the ways of people who survived before cell phones.  I learned how to communicate without the ability to text and how to memorize numbers that i needed to call.

Then I got a new phone and went right back to the way I was before.



I’ve done a lot of thinking this weekend about how I blog, and I came to a realization:

I can’t keep writing posts the way I do five days a week.  It kills me.  I already have a job and other responsibilities, and until this blog starts printing money for me, I can’t give it all the attention I’ve been giving it.  Trying to crank out five decent posts along with pictures each week was just making crappy content for everyone.  The last thing the internet needs is more crappy content.  We already have Mashable for that.

My plan is go to keep posting the same type of articles Monday, Wednesday and Friday.  Tuesday and Thursday will be for pictures.  It’s my blog, so changing this schedule is fair game at any point.  If you have a problem, contact me or leave a comment.  Either way, I’ll probably ignore it and keep doing what I want to do.

I’ll be back Wednesday with a real post about how something or other online pisses me off.  I expect you all to wait impatiently until then.


How Long Have You Used Facebook?

In August, I will have used Facebook for 6 years.

That’s a quarter of my life.

By Facebook’s standards, I’m an old man.  I’ve been on the site since it was college students only, through the continual process of opening up to the entire planet.

If there was a virtual porch on Facebook, I’d be sitting out there every night with a beer, complaining.  My ranting would go something like this:

These kids today with their apps and their photos.  In my day, we had one photo, and you had to make it good, otherwise no one wanted to look at you.  If you had 100 friends, you were considered popular! And we didn’t even think there could be apps, let alone wasting hundreds of hours making a virtual farm no one cares about.

I will be aging gracefully on Facebook.

I want to know how long you’ve used Facebook?  A day?  A year?  Two years? Five years?  I want to find people to sit on the porch and reminisce with me.


500 Million Facebook Users Later and Where Are We?

Facebook passed 500 million members yesterday.  The number is great for them, and it’s mind-boggling how they keep the site running smoothly with all the traffic they receive (Twitter, take note).  The number comes as a laurel in the middle of another year filled with controversy.

Facebook argues its network increases the openness and connectivity of the world.  But with 500 million people on the social network, the world isn’t smaller.  For all this connectivity, are we any better than where we were six years ago before Facebook?

  • People are still without access to food and clean water.
  • War still occurs around the globe.
  • HIV/AIDS is ravages across Africa and the rest of the planet.
  • You still live in your parent’s basement.

While Facebook would have you think you were not as connected with people before you joined, you were probably more tuned into those connections.  People took the time to write e-mails and make phone calls that had more significance than a quick “My car broke. FML!” status update.  You probably wouldn’t be able to count your number of friends into the hundreds.

That’s not to say that any social network is more useful than Facebook, but it can at least be argued people use LinkedIn to help people build new businesses and jobs. That’s a much more noble cause than figuring out how to serve the most relevant ad.

Facebook wants people to share their stories, but the time is now to stop looking at the past and look at the potential of 500 million Facebook users.  Imagine what 500 million people could accomplish if they worked towards a common goal.  We could rebuild Haiti.  We could stop climate change.  We could get you out of your parent’s basement.

Facebook: the door of possibility is wide open.  Use your power to actually make the world better.  Become something other than the social network people love to hate and hate to love.

There is no excuse.  You have 500 million reasons it can be done.


What if You Couldn’t Unfollow?

Whenever I run a post about something I hate seeing on Twitter, Facebook, or wherever, I always get asked the same question:

If you hate seeing this stuff so much, why don’t you just unfollow those people?

While I have a perfectly long and blog-worthy answer to that, it got me thinking in a different way.  What if you couldn’t remove someone as a friend online?  Once you made that decision to follow someone, you couldn’t give them up and had to stick with them no matter how terrible they were.

It’s a terrible thought, isn’t it?  As much as we cherish some relationships, the ones we think of as disposable we want to keep that way.  There’s comfort in the thought that if following someone on Twitter gets boring, you can simply remove them from your view.  Your friend on Facebook start leaving too many angry comments?  De-friend them.

We look at our online relationships this way because they are set up to be this way. They are set up so within a few clicks, if someone bothers or bores you, you eliminate them quickly and quietly. The last part, quietly, is key.  People would go crazy if they knew when people were constantly breaking off the relationship.

Don’t you deserve better online relationships?  Don’t the people you follow deserve better?  Then keep your online network small, nimble, and effective.  Start following people for a reason other than they retweeted you once or you met them at a party last week.  Do you homework and skim through their recent tweets and content before you make the decision to follow them.  Ask yourself, “Can I interact with this person, and what will it bring me?”

The answer doesn’t have to be profound, but there better be an answer.