Almost Foiled by Facebook

A coworker asked me how long a certain song was playing in the lobby. I responded that I posted about it on Facebook and can find out from that.

Only I could not find it. I went to my page and hit End until I was too far back in time. Then I used the browser search to look for keywords. Nothing. More keywords. Other songs I about which I recalled getting lots of comments. Nothing.

Then I remembered Facebook defaults to showing Highlights. I had to change it to All Stories and do it again. That worked.

It is like they do not want us to be able to find anything.

Graph Search is okay. What would really be nice is being able to find that specific status update I want to reference. Maybe I need to go find a more archivist centric social network?

Face Recognition Obfuscation

Parents of young children posts lots and lots of photos on Facebook. Tags in the photos of their children are of either or both parents. Children under thirteen are not allowed on the site. Babies lack the motor control to operate a camera or computer. So expecting children to have their own identities on Facebook are probably unrealistic.

Now that Facebook attempts to identify photos of people automatically, boy is it confused with these parents. Underneath photos of a friend’s child, Facebook had the “Want to tag <parent’s name>? Yes No.” Um, no.

Those of wanting to go anonymous on Facebook and prevent suggestions for friends tagging you in photos, the solution is to create a photo bank of someone else you tag as yourself. Facebook will not know to tag you when a friend uploads a photo of you. Of course, you will want to prevent friends from tagging you too.

 

Trust in Info-Infrastructure

James Fallows has an interesting piece in the Atlantic called Why NSA Surveillance Will Be More Damaging Than You Think discussing trust in the US for the info-infrastructure of the Internet is part of why we have Google, Facebook, Amazon, and Apple. As that trust gets eroded by the behavior of the US government, users may elect not to continue leaving their data with US companies.

The real threat from terrorism has never been the damage it does directly, even though attacks as horrific as those on 9/11. The more serious threat comes from the over-reaction, the collective insanity or the simple loss of perspective, that an attack evokes. Our government’s ambition to do everything possible to keep us “safe” has put us at jeopardy in other ways.

It will be interesting to see whether the fall of the US information giants could be due to a balkanization from a Asia, Europe, and South America backlash. Some regions already have giant amounts of participation in non-US alternatives. This was from long before the NSA scandal.

 

Posts From Non-Friends

Facebook seems hell bent on making itself no longer just a place for interacting with friends.

Facebook prefers the Top Stories sorting of the Newsfeed. I prefer the Most Recent sort.  So naturally I end up changing the setting back to Most Recent a few times a week. Lately, even while sorted by Most Recent, I am seeing older status updates and photos pop-up my Newsfeed. They have a recent comment added to them.

Even worse, some of these status updates and photos are by friends of friends. Because we are not friends and they only allow friends to comment, I can see their content my friends like but not interact with it. This was odd with the Ticker. Over half the entries I saw were from friends interacting with people I do not have as a friend. These stories by non-friends appeared in the Newsfeed at the same time I hid the Ticker, which suggests the activity is Facebook trying to get around my attempts to ignore.

There is a sweet spot in the morass that is Facebook privacy where some non-friends allow Facebook to share their posts with me. It feels like they have no understanding where their content is going. Facebook should work harder to help users understand the effect of the privacy choices they make. The alternative is the Myspace Effect where people feel there is creepy sense of not knowing who is seeing what and migrating away from the service.

Follow on Google+ Too…

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.

Open Letter to UX Designers

Do not move things right before I click on them.

Windows this means you. Opening up a new window steals focus from my mouse to the new one. Opening a new window when I did not explicitly request it and while I am typing or navigating something in order to do something critical infuriates me.

Facebook this means you too. Adding new comments to the Newsfeed a tenth of a second before I click on a comment box means I click on the wrong one. It is the kinds of thing that will drive people like me to Google+.

My coworkers will thank you too for me not discovering creative new obscenities to describe your products.

Sincerely,
Ezra

 

TED Talk: After your final status update

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.

Better Circles and Lists

Last week I blogged about Facebook Lists and Google Circles being similar concepts so nothing Earth shattering.

The problem with is both reliability and validity. The imperfection of human recall and recognition means both Lists and Circles have glaring obvious holes in establishing the correct connections. As users increase the size of their social networks, the problem just gets worse as errors accumulate and the effort at resolving them becomes more daunting. At this point, most people of which I am friends with on Facebook after 2009 are not in a list. Those who are probably are not in all for which they qualify. Google+ probably will end up in a similar condition in a year or two.

Wedding

The girlfriend of friend of my brother added me on Facebook to see wedding photos and tag herself in them. I happened to take of her and her boyfriend dancing and tagged him. The photos are in my Weddings album where family and my brother’s halo list could see the photos. She still could not see the photos until I realized my mistake and added her to the halo list.

Klinsmann Excitement

A friend had a great Google+ post about Klinsmann’s hired as the US soccer coach. It is the kind of thing where I probably want to post to friends who like the game and no one else. It is easy to pick out who hold certain roles. Correctly recalling who have specific interests seems much more daunting.

What I would like to see are recommendations about my potential connections based on mutual properties, interests, and connections. We already are asked to name our work places, education, interests, and location. People who are connected probably belong in the same group. The things we post probably are already being analyzed to determine how to advertise to us. Use that information to help us better identify who will be interested in what we share.

Obviously, no one should completely rely on recommendations any more than the recommendations of whom to befriend or instructions suggesting one drive a car into a lake. Okay… Maybe those who completely rely on technology to tell them what to do deserve the consequences.

Halos and Circles

Facebook and Google+ both have ways of categorizing people for targeted sharing.

The first way I attempted to handle my Facebook lists was basic categories like Coworkers, Family, Friends, Internet, and Locals. Then I switched jobs. It became a little weird to gripe about the new job to both, so I went down the crazy path of splitting lists in more and more specialized so I could include and exclude very targeted photo albums and posts. I have four family lists: Dad’s family, Mom’s family, Sister-in-Law’s, and Extended (beyond aunts, uncles, and first cousins). I also have VSU IT, VSU library, and VSU other former coworkers, USG coworkers, and a random cloud of friends who happen to work at UGA. There are 64 lists. It surprised me it was not closer to a hundred.

A goal for a while was identifying the supernexuses of my clusters of friends. (Malcolm Gladwell in the Tipping Point described them as “Connectors“.) Many of my contacts were due to my social connection with a specific person or a couple people. We friends form a ring around these…. A halo. An example are the high school and college friends of my brother and his wife. Maybe an electron cloud would have been more appropriate? Anyway, the point is I used an allusion to a round object for naming some of my Facebook lists.

Google+ has circles instead of lists. It struck me as odd Google and I both would use a round shape for categorizing people. Of course, Google using “Halo” might invite lawsuits from Microsoft who owns Bungie, makers of the game Halo. More likely it is all coincidence.

Recommendations

There seem to be two ways to recommend something to others…

  1. Because the person making the recommendation likes it.
  2. Because the person making the recommendation knows the one receiving it and thinks that person will like it.

The last time I looked, I am not anyone else. I like things others do not. Others like things I do not. My list of books I hate falls includes the favorites of others. What another likes is only a measure of whether we like similar things. Only if we actually have strong similarities in what we like would the recommendation of what I like have real value.

Reading books people know about results in people either telling me their opinions. They loved it, hated it, felt ambivalent, or may want to read it. That last group want to know whether I like it. When they are my friends, I tend to offer why I think they will or will not like it.

Yesterday on Facebook, a friend asked whether Catch-22 is good. As an Austen fan, I did not think she would adore a book about war, bureaucracy, and most especially sex with prostitutes. Male friends who did not know the one asking about the book said they loved it. They naturally recommended reading it. If she had similar tastes to them, then I would agree.

What I get for discussing things in public.

Also what I get for discussing books people have or want to read. I probably should stick to esoteric non-fiction no one else wants to read.