Blogs in a post-truth society

I love Michael Lopp’s writing in Rands In Repose. His entry The Likeability Feedback Loop captures why I still have my RSS reader and try to comment on posts that engage me.

Social media gleefully feeds a post-truth society and it does so by design, but social media is not the problem. Fake news is not the problem. The problem is we the people taking the time to think critically.

Comments are open here because I know that while it is my great joy to understand and write about a few select topics deeply, what will make these topics honest and true is if you tell me what you think.

Bloggers tend to engage their readers, welcoming feedback, and asking for more when they fail to understand it. Not every one, but enough that it makes commenting worth the chance. They enjoy the conversations.

When WordPress Jetpack released their publicize tool to put posts on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and Google+, I almost refrained from using it. I was not sure at the time I wanted to mix my social media and blogging spheres. It fractures the conversation. The responses on those spaces do not make it back to the post, so there are five different spaces for the conversation.

Of late, Facebook also notifies me each week how many likes my content received. The most recent one was about 230-something which pleased me because it was around 140 the two weeks prior. And then I realized just how shitty it is that I valued myself over Likes. So very superficial.

The comment I left for Michael:

Blogs are harder to consume than social media. There is the challenge of discovering ones I like enough to subscribe. The constant dying of RSS readers. And the death of blogs I enjoy as the bloggers encounter life changing circumstances.

Social media is far easier. People I follow suggest things for me to read. I subscribe to essentially curators who put in front of me the things I want to read. And really I am surprised Facebook and Twitter have not gone the way of SixDegrees, Tribe, Friendster, and Myspace.

Trash the Memories

Been paying attention to the Backupify blog. Let’s disregard the distressing idea someone would bother to tweet during his (probably not her) wedding.

Show me someone who can’t use Twitter. Probably from their mobile phone. Possibly while getting married…. After all, you wouldn’t want to permanently lose your wedding photos. Why wouldn’t the same logic apply to your wedding tweets?

I’ve been reading old LiveJournal blog posts as I go through them categorizing, tagging, and changing visibility settings. Several I have just trashed. I’m sure I meant something profound way back when. The old me maybe had potential, but it surely failed to express any of it well. Whenever I look at my old photos, I also think if I knew then what I know now, then I could have done a better job.

Here is to hoping the 2015 doesn’t find me as pathetic as the 2010 me finds the 2005 me.

Integrating With Facebook

At least a couple years ago, I set up the Facebook Notes app to import this blog’s posts as notes. By setting this up, a number of friends have taking to commenting on my posts. I get far more comments on Facebook than I do here.

However, this was a horrible way to get traffic to this blog.

  1. All of the text and images go into Fb Notes. Nevermind the terms of service. People looking at my blog posts think I wrote it in Facebook. Unless they are observant enough to see “View Original Post” links in tiny text, they have no idea about the blog which was originally the point. When I cross post stuff to multiple blogs I make it obvious the other places it exists.
  2. Embedded videos get stripped from Fb Notes. Lately, I have been posting embedded TED Talks videos here. So I have to think about how to change my posts to accommodate Facebook.

So, I discovered some friends who are also photographers on Facebook use an app called NetworkedBlogs. (They are Flip!Photography, Invisible Green Photography, and Stylized Portraiture.) Once configured, this app will post to my and friends’ (on my behalf) Facebook Walls a link to my wall. The format of the posts look similar to when a link is posted, such as a thumbnail.

The setup is also fairly easy. Enter the location, description, category, and email for your blog. Prove it is yours whether by having others verify it belongs to you or placing code on the site. Finally, go to “Feed Settings” link and click “Auto-publish to personal profile”.

I am hopeful this solves my problem. If so, then I have another blog to setup. (Someone asked to buy that domain. I guess I asked too much for it?)

Turnitin.com

I’m surprised I have not blogged here about the student lawsuit against Turnitin.com? An anti-plagiarism service, Turnitin has students or faculty members upload papers into the database. By comparing new papers to the database, it gives ratings as to whether it is likely a student plagiarized.

Now the search goes out for any student who has a paper that’s being held by TurnItIn that they did not upload themselves. Students Settle with TurnItIn

In theory I could be someone in this situation. Back in 2005, a coworker asked my mother if someone by my name was related to her. This coworker was taking some classes at the university I attended. Turnitin had threw up a cautionary flag on the Originality Report because it was somewhat similar to something with my name on it. The problem is this product came into use at the university after the time I was a student. So I never submitted anything to it. The department from which I got my degree kept a copy of my papers (many submitted by email) and used this product at the time.

Another possibility is this tidbit about the product: Over 11 Billion Web Pages Crawled & Archived. I was actively blogging before and at the time of the incident. Assuming it could identify my name out of all that content, this match could have come from my blogging.

When I contacted Turnitin about this back in 2005, they told me I would have to remove my paper. I re-explained that I didn’t submit the paper. So Turnitin explained that whoever did put the paper in the system would have to remove it. The guy acknowledged the difficulty of the situation in identifying who posted it.

Scott Kelby’s Worldwide Photo Walk

Playing with trains

Originally uploaded by Ezra F

A while ago, I mentioned the Scott Kelby’s Worldwide Photo Walk scheduled for Athens Georgia. Several folks from the Athens Flickr Meetups showed up for this yesterday. Others I know from work, photography classes, and even just eating at restaurants also showed. Twice today people have mentioned they saw me and expressed interest.

Steven Skelton did a great job.

After 3 hours of walking and standing my feet hurt. 🙂

tag:

Worldwide Photo Walk

Flickrite Shadows I’m looking forward to this Athens part of the Worldwide Photo Walk in four weeks. I’m even more impressed it filled to the 50 person capacity. We have been having meetups for Athens Flickr users since September. I don’t think any have approached half that number. (There are only 32 members in the Flickr group.) I attribute this success to Steven Skelton‘s efforts spreading the word.

Facebook Usernames

If you cannot find me, then you are not looking. If you search on Facebook for Ezra Freelove, then I am the only result at the moment. Maybe all you knew was Ezra and the city where I lived? Facebook search is not so great you could find me through my first name plus something else you knew about me (other than email or city). Probably this is for the best. We don’t want to make it too easy to stalk people, right?

Allowing users to make a username is a promotion. The blogosphere making a fuss over all this is a Chicken Littleesque. Sure Myspace, Twitter, and a number of other sites have addresses with usernames in them. No one is forcing people opposed to having one to make one. Only in the past month could one choose a username for one’s Google profile. Prior to that it was a hefty large number of numbers.

I think the reason some people prefer usernames comes down to elaborative encoding. To retain something in memory, we associate that something with existing items in memory. Short-term memory has only about 7 slots and digits are each a single item. Assuming a single incrementation per account created and over 200 million users, using a numbers means there ought to be 9 digits worth of numbers to memorize. Words occupy a single slot in short term memory, by far simplifying remembering. Which would you rather try to remember 46202460 or ezrasf?

An argument against usernames comes down to using the memory of the Facebook database or other computer memory. Computer memory is better than human memory for stuff like this.

All of these work and go to the same place:

  1. http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=46202460
  2. http://www.facebook.com/ezrasf
  3. http://www.ezrasf.com/fb

Pick your poison. Enjoy.

2nd Blackboard Blog

A blog without comments to me isn’t a blog. Blog posts are about stimulating discussion, so the comments are most important feature. Content without feedback is a publicity or news story not a blog. So Blackboard Blogs at educateinnovate.com isn’t really a blog.

Steve Feldman, Bb performance engineer, had the first Blackboard Inc blog with Seven Seconds. He mysteriously stopped last fall. 🙁

Ray Henderson, new Bb President for Learn, has a blog. Read this introduction post. He specifically wants discussion and dialog. Someone at Blackboard who understands The Cluetrain Manifesto? I am hopeful this is a sign of positive change.

Feedback Loops

Remakes don’t scare me. Some are good. Some are bad. 

The thing to remember is, “Its just a movie.” The world won’t end over a poor movie. There’s always another one in a few weeks to either like or hate. If it stands up to the test of time, then you’ll buy the Blue-ray and next three formats over the next 30 years. If not, then just ignore it ever existed… Much like I’ve done with Superman III, Superman IV, Star Trek The Final Frontier, and hundreds of other movies.

Getting worked up over change? Not worth it.

Quibblers would have kept “Star Trek” more like its old self. Quibblers inhibit revolution. Quibblers would deny the basic law of forward motion in pop culture:

If you love something, they will remake it.

But if you really love it, you will set it free, and let them.

The Trouble With Quibbles

Film makers should keep in mind, the types of people involved in  fads: connectors, mavens, salesperson. Fans are mavens. People are going to trust the opinion of these fans. So if the fans’ concerns are just a few quibbles but still an endorsement, then the general public will flock to the movie. If these quibbles amount to wide rejection of the movie by the existing fans, then the general public will mostly stay away from it.

Quibbles are not really the issue. Endorsements are. 

I think you missed that there is a life-cycle to most such endeavors, and feedback is very useful at specific times, and disruptive (in a bad way) at others.

So, the problem with “fan feedback” non-stop is that they tend to fall into a mob mentality, off being “trolls” about any innovation. But, that said, remember that early forms of the Batman movie with the Heath L Joker was shown to fans (at a Comic Con) to get feedback on the style and whether too over the top. The feedback was used to find the balance and deal with the nature of the ending. Fans were given leaks and teasers (semi-trailers) along the way as well, but the mob rule was not allowed not hound the people making it.

That said, what makes a movie work or not is very different from what made its source material work. The reason the Spiderman movies worked for a large audience who knew nothing about the comics had a lot to do with the simpler nature of the comics. Batman has always been more complex in the psychology of its heroes and villains, as much by what does not happen as what does. Watchman is trickier given its narrative model and how much it connected with its time (Cold War, etc).

— PaulK
The Downside of Feedback

Design by committee sucks. So fans should not take over the process. However, total rejection of fan criticisms probably will result in rejection by the fans and slow sales.

Expression Costs

(This started out as a blog comment for Sania’s post Facebook Killed Your Blog. I’m posting it here first.)

We share blogs with the whole world. So our blogs get lost in the noise, bolstering the need for a whole industry optimizing getting found in search engines. Its a concerted effort just get noticed. That’s because blog readers have to seek out blogs to follow, subscribe to the feed, and follow. Finding the best blogs to read is sometimes difficult and more from word of mouth than anything search engines provide.

Blogs also tend to have a lot of information to digest. Social networks have just a line or two with maybe a link to more information. Blog readers typically are designed around the idea of collecting all the posts and letting the user pick which to read. Social networks typically are designed around the idea of just showing recent posts and letting the users choose how far back in time to read.

As technologies lower the costs to express ideas (aka get easier), blogs will get left behind as they have become upside down in value. The costs of writings, reading, subscribing, and commenting on blogs are more expensive compared to micro-blogging or status updates.

Why blog when hanging out on social networks are so much easier? Blogs can only survive as long as they have information worthy.

Why blog when readers are no longer reading? Posting blog entries on social networks does help keep traffic levels somewhat by getting exposure.

As bloggers providing valuable expression leave blogging, the value of blogs decrease. People will still blog. It just won’t be the popular thing to do.