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A male friend asked if I use Pinterest. His wife laughed and laughed. She nearly dropped their daughter from all the laughter. It was if there was something humorous about two guys discussing a web site.

Well, I do use Pinterest some. I don’t spend massive amounts of time on it like I hear some of my female friends do. The only somewhat exemplary board I have is Teeshirts I Own. When people ask where I get any or all of my shirts, I can just point to the board. I use a browser bookmarklet to pin the shirts I buy to the board. The bookmarklet ensures a link to the web page source.

Curating a collection of digital stuff is where Pinterest excels. Well, that and sharing the board (aka the collection) with others.

Anyway, rumor is there are not many guys on the site. Before about a year ago, maybe 3 out of a hundred contacts I had were guys. I just did the math and out of 300 people I am following (304 following – 4 non-people), 43 are male. That is about 14 in a hundred male. A sample size of one is not very good, so don’t take that as the real population.

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As a Valdosta State University student, we nicknamed the student paper the Speculator. Incorrectly reading between the lines were their specialty. Grammatical errors and spelling mistakes were part of their standard. But it was amusing to see them go after the administration. Not so much to be reported on when I made big mistakes.

As university staff, I made the Spectator in information technology articles on viruses, online elections, WebCT upgrade, and the portal. At first they made me nervous because I worried about them finding out about the skeletons. After a couple interviews, it became obvious they had no idea about the skeletons and would only cursory look at the topic without digging very deep. So it would good publicity and exposure.

The Red & Black as a daily published much more that the Speculator. Last year the paper moved to a weekly print but daily web. This week several students (Editor-in-Chief, other editors, photographers, etc) all quit in reaction to a memo placing editorial control in the hands of non-students and hiring professionals to take over more decisions in the creative process. Immediately the students setup a web site, Red and Dead, a Twitter account @redanddead815, a Facebook page. Their Twitter account was suspended for gaining followers too quickly.

At present, the whole story is extremely one-sided. A couple statements from the R&B board against the draft memo, dozens of statements, bloggers, and newspaper articles like the Chronicle of Higher Education, New York Times, and Washington Post critical of the board. It is like the board is not even trying? Or unaware or unable to use the public relations avenues available to them. None of this means they are in the wrong or think they are in the wrong. It just helps the rush to judgment against them.

Maybe these students are in the wrong field? Public relations seems to be their strength.

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Scrambls encrypts social media posts and lets users specify exactly who can see them, across all social media sites. The user can form groups from friends and family, going as broad as everyone with a Gmail account down to a specific colleague or even those who know a certain password. Everyone else (including the social media site itself) will only see a series of random numbers and symbols, keeping content private and secure.

From 7 steps to social media stardom.

The article points out a problem is the readers have to be users. So enough people in each user’s social network needs to join for it to become useful.

Far more serious potential problems…

    1. Should your encryption key(s) get deleted, corrupted, etc. Will you lose access to your posts?
    2. When this service disappears through bankruptcy, buy-out by AOL, or the FBI shuts down their servers because terrorists encrypt their posts, then will every user loses access to their own and friend’s posts?
m4s0n501

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Nearly two weeks ago, Google+ launched Pages, a version of a person profile for non-people. (Google does know the Supreme Court deemed corporations people too, right? So corporations should have a person profile.)

Companies desiring a social media presence have created a page in addition to their Facebook pages, Tumblr, and Twitter accounts. Over the past couple weeks, I have seen a number of posts on Facebook and Twitter alerting me to the new G+ page. They invariably ask me something like “Make sure to follow <corporate name> on Google+, too.”

Wait.

I am already following you on one of these which is how I saw the message. Following you on two, three, or more social media sites gets me what exactly? The same post multiple times. Maybe I notice something important faster. That might be one in two hundred posts? More likely I will shift the important followings to where I tend to spend most of my time.

This is the same strategy I use for following friends. At least some of them tend to post different things in different places.

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The idea of preserving social media after our deaths seems creepy to me. But then I do

“You can imagine what something like this will look like 5, 10, 20 years from now as our technical capabilities improve.” It seems like a ENORMOUS claim that a social media company will last 20 years. Today’s top social media companies were founded in…

  • Facebook: February 2004 (7 years old),
  • Twitter: March 2006 (5 years old),
  • LinkedIn: May 2003 (8 years old),
  • Myspace: August 2003 (8 years old),
  • Ning: October 2005 (6 years old)

The odds of any particular social network existing after a sophomore in high school student today graduates from college is low (chosen because that is about when COPPA starts). This is a fickle market space where users literally vote with their attention. Google is working on their third social network in 6 years. Why would we trust these sites when they seem likely doomed to have limited lifespan? But maybe it is only important to immortalize someone for only a few years?

Introduction from TED site:

Many of us have a social media presence — a virtual personality made up of status updates, tweets and connections, stored in the cloud. Adam Ostrow asks a big question: What happens to that personality after you’ve died? Could it … live on?

Link to Adam Ostrow: After your final status update if embedded video below breaks.

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Google+ suspends accounts who supposedly violate their real name policy. Google+ then restores accounts of those mistakenly suspended. There are naturally advocates for those seeking to be online under a pseudonym. There do seem to be legitimate reasons to communicate online under a less than real name. Harassment by bullies, stalkers, criminals is just one. Employers are known to fire employees for expressing political opinions, photographs of Macs delivered to Microsoft, and other questionable online expressions. Which is easier? Operate online under a pseudonym or have a good lawyer? Female authors used to publish books under male names because publishers rejected the same manuscript. African-American and Hispanic sounding names on resumes are rejected when the identical one under a Caucasian name is extended an interview.

Then there is the question of brand identity. There were a few years when most people having conversations with me most days in a week knew me as something other than Ezra. Danah describes it nicely…

The thing about the tech crowd is that it has a long history of nicks and handles and pseudonyms. And this crowd got to define the early social norms of the site, rather than being socialized into the norms set up by trusting college students who had joined a site that they thought was college-only. This was not a recipe for “real name” norm setting. Quite the opposite. Worse for Google… Tech folks are VERY happy to speak LOUDLY when they’re pissed off. So while countless black and Latino folks have been using nicks all over Facebook (just like they did on MySpace btw), they never loudly challenged Facebook’s policy. There was more of a “live and let live” approach to this. Not so lucky for Google and its name-bending community.

Of course, there is another side where trolls (people who attack others online), bullies, spammers, and phishers abuse the system. Every web site struggles to deal with these issues. Too large a volume of negativity can kill off a social network. The exodus from Friendster and Myspace started when visitors saw more spam in the Inbox than legitimate messages than friends. Every social network has to figure out how to deal with misuse. Enforcement of aggressive policies are a legitimate strategy when just starting out the idea is not to screw up where the competitor you seek to replace is failing. With enough push back by users, Google+ will figure out what is and is not acceptable. Or… We will find somewhere else.

See! Simple.

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I met Allie for the second time at a birthday party. The birthday girl is a Social Tech Ghost. Allie is a Pseudonym Surfer and former Dunbarian. Another person at the party is an Infrequent Checker. I decided these remain legitimate strategies to keep from getting drawn into spending too much time online. Since I like to label things, Social Ghosts, stuck in my head. From the perspective of someone relying on social network web sites to communicate, these are difficult people to locate, keep, or reach. Much like ghosts.
:)

The Social Tech Ghost: This person entirely abstains from social network web sites. This is a person who wants to see you in person or talk to you on the phone. Email is grudgingly accepted. Twitter, Facebook, Myspace, and Friendster are accused of ruining friendships due to being impersonal. They are fads to be resisted in order to maintain strong social bonds. Probably this person would be a fan of Malcolm Gladwell’s article Small Change except they do not read my blog post about weak ties, Twitter, or Facebook so they did not know about me posting the article.

The Pseudonym Surfer Ghost: He or she participates online under fake names. You drop them from your friend list because you have no idea who they are. They might work in an environment hostile to employees getting tagged in photos of wild parties. They might be online to interact with a handful of family and close friends not any random acquaintance who feels they deserve to be friends.

The Infrequent Checker Ghost: This person has a profile. However, months can go by between logins. Peer pressure forced them to get an account, but there is no peer pressure to actually use it.

The Dunbarian Ghost: Too many “friends” causes this person to purge. The right number may or may not be Dunbar’s Number: a mean of 147.8. What is important is the person feels the need to be social with everyone on the list of friends and too many makes that too hard. Therefore some need to get lost.

I am sure there are more. What other social ghost archetypes do you know?

P.S. From the “In Real Life” perspective, I am a Social Ghost. So. Meh.

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One of the out of session discussions at the Georgia Baha’i School yesterday morning was on how bad online media are for us. (I’ve boiled down what was described to neurotransmitters.)

  1. Dopamine: Anticipation with each click will lead to a reward leads to addiction-like behaviors.
  2. Oxytocin: Lack of touch leads to feeling lonely.

For those of us seeking to feel connected, online media provides a false sense of connectedness. We feel more connected, but this is an illusion. We need the oxytocin for a true connectedness which we don’t get enough through online media. The best use of online social media is to discover the connections necessary for quality face-to-face time with people so we can get what we need. I’d say most of my current face-to-face arose from being active online.

The problem is when our interactions devolve to only being through this. Lately I’ve been thinking I consume too much media which distracts me from trying to be around people. With 592 people on my Facebook friends list, I’m probably reading too many Facebook status updates, apps, etc. Between my RSS readers (yeah, plural), I have 277 subscriptions with at the moment around 1,600 items marked for me to read. With 76 TiVo subscriptions, I’m probably watching too much television. I feel so constantly behind with these technologies I feel like I need to work through them which means I’m spending less time with people.

This isn’t really new for me. My bad habit is to invest myself too much in media by not culling enough of the subscriptions. I’m also hesitant to assert myself in other people’s lives. Some call it reticent: “reluctant to draw attention to yourself”. I’m the person who is likely found hanging around the periphery of a party. This recipe for disaster is why my resolutions usually have something about participating more in social activities. Without such goals, my only social interactions would be through work.

Hanging out with some friends earlier, got me thinking about this. I forget the circumstances of the discussion to start this post germinating in my head.

One of the tools people have for seeking a new job is their social networks and increasingly the online ones. LinkedIn seems to be the popular social network for this. (BTW, I’m glad to give recommendations for anyone I’ve worked with and seeking a job there.)

I can’t say that I would know what everyone in my Facebook “friends” list does. A possible solution is for Facebook to provide a filter displaying current employer and position similar to its phone book filter for the friends page. Users can only see phone numbers both entered and selected to be available, so similar permission-based exposing work information ought to apply.

Until then, it appears one can click on position and employer to search who else lists them. One can also edit the cp= variable in the URL. Change “System” in the example below to “Photographer”.

Example URL: http://www.facebook.com/search/?cp=System&o=2048

The o= appears to be the kind of page, so that should remain 2048 for “People”.

If your search term uses spaces, then use a plus sign (“+”) or ascii code (“%20″) to represent the space.

Example: System+Support+Specialist

I’m sure there are better ideas out there.

You’ve read my previous posts on Dunbar‘s Number, right?

Go on…. I’ll wait.

Remember the one on Scoble and Facebook? Good. For a while, I fastidiously ensured my number of friends stayed below 150 because I took the idea of Dunbar’s number as a life strategy. Then I let it slip to 200 which I pared back down to 150. My laziness let it hit 500.

It appears Robin Dunbar is now studying Facebook users to see ‘if the “Facebook effect” has stretched the size of social groupings.’ He says despite the large number of friends people only interact with about 150 of them. Maybe like most of psychology, the subjects are college students who supposedly are almost all on Facebook. In the real world, most of the people with which I have regular interaction, exactly those Dunbar’s number covers, are not my Facebook friends.

My Facebook friends instead are my information buffet. Social networks are how we keep in touch with what is happening in the world. My information technology friends provide me what is happening in my career field. My photography friends provide me with useful tips for a big hobby. Also, the bigger our social network, the more opportunities for help from or being consequential strangers. Social networks are a strategy not a replication of the brain.

The term “friends” used by Facebook, I think, is a brilliant marketing ploy. People would much rather show up as my friend than my contact.
:)

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