TED Talk: The power of introverts

I to really need to pick up Susan Cain’s book Quiet. I watched her talk at Leading@Google a couple weeks ago because I could not find her TED. Now the TED is available.

My family very much was the one where we would hang out together reading. I’ve always been the one to hang back and watch and observe until comfortable. Before I even understood systems, my mind was attempting to reverse engineer them. Only then could I figure out how to use them.

Too bad human behavior is messier than computers.

If the above video does not play, then try Susan Cain: The power of introverts.

Collusion on Firefox

As we browse the Web, our browsers picks up cookies. Many sites will give our browser advertiser’s cookies. More importantly, the advertiser’s servers can look to see whether we have their cookies and where we obtained them. This is how they record our browsing habits. The more places they advertise, the better they are able to track us.

Collusion is an addon for Firefox detects the cookies added to my browser in order to identify the parties tracking me across sites are. For example, I just installed it and visited Google which dropped cookies for doubleclick, rubicon, bluekai, and others. I then went to the New York Times web site which added Nielson, Doubleplex, and other such as doubleclick.

This is going to occupy me for days… Maybe even weeks.

Check Your Google Web History

The EFF posted an article with screenshots on how to remove your Google web/search history. This is because their new privacy policy exposes what you have searched for in the past to your connections. They say to use the Remove all Web History button. Instead, I am using this as an opportunity to learn about myself. Not only does it have my searches, but it also has the sites on which I clicked.

    • My web /search history goes back to Nov 20, 3007.
    • Wikipedia is a common click.
    • I suck at spelling.
    • I search about myself.
    • Pretty sure this history is missing quite a bit.
    • Expanded search has no entries; Limited has too much to review everything.
    • If at first I do not find something, new variants pop up over several days.
    • About a tenth of my listed searches were in support of an active conversation.
    • Surprised my phone searches were not included in this history.

Responses to my Facebook post about this earlier today were a couple friends who found it already turned off. I found a number of 2007 and 2009 articles advocating turning it off. Even Google’s help on Basics: Web History says:

When you create a Google Account, Web History is automatically turned on.

I’m thinking more and more I need separate Google accounts for work and personal lives.

If Google is going to publicize what I search for to my friends, then it would be nice for me to have filters. Maybe I want any clicks I make to urbandictionary.com to be private? My vulgar vocabulary is weak, so it is a good source for understanding what a few friends mean. But I would be mortified for Google to tell my Mom to go there because I did.

Information Diet

Do we consume too much information? I might. Lately I have thought about reducing the amount of following I do. Typically I hit this point when I realize it takes me all weekend to catch up. To be fair I reach this point by getting all caught up over a long weekend and seeking out new stuff.

  • 40% the blog or news feeds (over 100),
  • 40% Facebook friends (remove over 250),
  • 40% Tumblr following, (remove 45),
  • 40% Twitter following (remove 100),

Then there are the potential stoppages:

  • Stop following tags on WordPress.com, Tumblr, Blogspot, Flickr.
  • Stop using some social media sites entirely like Google+ or Diaspora.

Given my social preferences, I have lots of time to spend online.

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

 

Google Needs a -1

Did a search for “behavioral economics phd” and looked at a site that put some for-profit Master’s at the top of the list. Going through its “Perfect School Match”, it does not have behavioral economics PhD listed. The closest is applied economics at all for-profits. Lame. Useless.

Went back to the list and noticed the +1 icon. Staring at it for a couple seconds, I realized even if I +1’d a page I liked, my visit to this crappy site helped it. Some other better site got screwed from being helpful to me and others.

If +1s or visits help a site’s search engine optimization, then we need to be able to -1 or cancel our visit so malicious sites do not benefit. Or… Provide better information about a site so I do not visit it.

A -1 button is like a Dislike button for Facebook: very unlikely to happen.

Ctrl+F

From Crazy: 90 Percent of People Don’t Know How to Use CTRL+F:

This week, I talked with Dan Russell, a search anthropologist at Google, about the time he spends with random people studying how they search for stuff. One statistic blew my mind. 90 percent of people in their studies don’t know how to use CTRL/Command + F to find a word in a document or web page! I probably use that trick 20 times per day and yet the vast majority of people don’t use it at all.

This incredulousness people do not know how to use Ctrl+F sounds like availability bias. Just because you know how to do something, does not mean everyone or even very many do.

If electronic literacy classes are the solution, then the rate should be below 90% as those have been around since the 1980s. After 30 years, there should have been a dent. Unless keyboard shortcuts are not content taught in these classes as they are so 1980s. People came up with the mouse for a reason, right? Some get so used to the one way they learned how to do it, they do not learn more efficient ways as that takes time and effort and their way is “good enough”. Others are always looking for how to improve how they do things to get it done faster. A few minutes (aka hours) looking for a better way is worth it for something that will improve life.

When I watch people do things on the computer to help me, I pay attention as maybe I can use that in the future. Of course, I would rather be able to do anything I need done on the computer than rely on others to do things for me. More… casual… users may be content to be inefficient so more efficient people will just take over and do the task for them.

UPDATE: By the way, I commented on a friend’s inability to quickly get to the top of a web page without a floating button to go to the top of the page that she could use the Home key. She was pleased to have a new way of doing things. Maybe I should have looked up common keyboard shortcuts and given her the list?

Real Names

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.

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.