Tag Archives: facebook

I’ll Tumblr For Ya

After the announcement of Yahoo’s purchase of Tumblr, I decided to give the popular micro blogging site another look. When I first heard of Tumblr a few years back, I was intrigued by the fact that the site was very mobile friendly at a time when that was not the norm. But I was getting into Twitter and had little interest in adding another blog.

tumblr_for_yaSince that time, a lot has changed. So I decided to create my own Tumblr and check out the scene. Now, many many hours, and weeks later, I’m totally hooked. I think that Tumblr combines the best of the Twitter, Facebook, and WordPress in an easy to use package.

It’s easy to find people to follow and subjects of interest. You can post as much, or as little as you want. And simply “liking” something is a breeze. As a bonus, spam bots don’t appear to be as rampant as they are on Twitter.

I’d heard that Tumblr had a younger demographic than Facebook, and it definitely shows. I think that the anonymity and multimedia friendly platform more readily fosters vibrant, interest driven communities. My favorite hobbies, Sci-Fi, Anime, and Cosplay, are well represented there!

While I have no intention to abandon what I’ll call, long form blogging, I’m definitely going to be spending more time on Tumblr. You can find me at is this thing on?

Genesis Of The Borg?

As I left work on Friday, I was thinking about all of the people who I see constantly talking on their mobile phones, or texting while walking. It seems that most people just cannot stand being alone, even for a few seconds. Having watched this for years now, I wondered about what would happen when people get their mobile phones implanted into their bodies and tied directly to their brains.

locutus of borg
We only seek to raise quality of life for all.

My first thought was that things would be a lot quieter when I was out for a walk. But then it occurred to me that the technology would probably allow one to carry on multiple conversations in a way that an external phone cannot. Then add social media like Facebook to the mix, and a person could be calmly walking down the street with a multitude of voices in their heads. How many voices do you need in your head before they become indistinguishable from your own thoughts?

This is probably how the Borg got started. It was all innocent enough at the beginning. No one needed to be alone anymore. It raised the level of life for all. But we all know what kind of ugliness can arise from internet connected mobs. With so many dark voices, speaking loudly, it’s no wonder the Borg went off the deep end. Perhaps they were searching for more virtuous voices to drown out the darkness. Who knows, but we do seem to be on a path to the Collective.

Coincidentally, I’ve just discovered a great discussion of this on the Trekcast Episode 85, a cool Star Trek podcast.

Google Plus Me Baby!

Google’s new foray into social networking, Google+, is where all the cool kids are hangin out now. Of course that leaves me out as usual, LOL. While my often cool spouse has received and invite and joined the party, I have not. She put me in one of her circles, I just haven’t received notification from the system which reportedly is currently at capacity for this stage of the roll-out.

I cannot say that I’m a big fan of social networking sites. As I have ranted here before, sites like Facebook just recreate the cliches and awkwardness that left me on the outs growing up. And what’s worse, many of my peers aren’t exactly internet mavens by any stretch of the imagination. As a result I tend to lean more towards Twitter than Facebook, where I can build an identity much less encumbered by the usual social barriers, and much closer to what I consider to be the real me. Or at least the real me in the context of the internet.

So why should I care about Google+? Because it seems to solve one of my biggest problems with Facebook. It allows you to group your acquaintances and friends in whatever circles you find appropriate and share with those circles only what you want to, without leaking. This leakage is why I’m so wary of Facebook. I have a lot of non-mainstream hobbies and interests that I’d rather not share with everyone I know either voluntarily as my own status update, or involuntarily through someone tagging a picture of me I rather not have tagged. I don’t expect complete privacy, but I would like a little more control.

I’m actually very proud of my hobbies and interests. They’re an expression of a large part of who I am. But I’d rather minimize the amount of trouble that may be caused by people who either don’t get it, or flat out don’t like it. I love many of these people dearly, but they really don’t need to know about the wig I just got for my Uhura cosplay last week. Much less spread that information to someone I’m doing totally unrelated business with.

I may not ever become a big fan of social networking applications, but they seem to be a fact of life now. So hopefully, Google+ is the next big step in their evolution.

Cage Match: Facebook, Flash, and the iPad!

In the run up to the Christmas holiday, I got the distinct impression that my spouse wanted to get me an Apple iPad as a gift. It’s no secret that I’d love to have one and now that I’m actively developing iPhone applications, it might even become a business necessity. But the lack of Adobe Flash support on the iPad continues to dampen my enthusiasm for the device.

I don’t really have any immediate need for an iPad, but I began to think that my wife might actually make better use of one than I. The way she works with her MacBook around the house makes her more of a candidate for an iPad than an ebook reader like a Nook or Kindle. She’d been asking me which ereader she should get. I lean towards the Nook since I already have one and like the hackability that its Android OS basis provides. But my wife likes being able to do a lot of things at once. She’s a big multitasker and I’m sure I see her lugging about her laptop and the ereader before too long.

So I began to make plans for an iPad for her. An iPad would allow her to do many of the things she does with her MacBook, casually at least. Some light word processing, web browsing, and of course reading ebooks using the Kindle or Nook reader apps. But my plans came to a screeching halt once I remembered that Facebook and Facebook games are a big part of her computing use around the house too. So I started to dig.

It turns out that the iPad Facebook Experience is not too great. Follow the link for more details, but in a nutshell she won’t be able to play Wordscraper on an iPad. That’s  a total deal breaker here. And if even a fraction of the 600 million account holders on Facebook play the Flash based games on the site regularly, that’s a lot of lost iPad sales. At this point I think Apple is leaving a giant hole open for Android based tablets that do support Flash to waltz right in and take a big chunk of a market Apple deserves a lot of credit for creating.

I think that 2011 is going to be the year that Apple finally allows Flash support in iOS. Android is catching up and in the tablet market in no small part due to the popularity of Facebook games, I can see the Flash issue being a big market stick to beat Apple with. We’re already starting to see this in ads for the Samsung Galaxy Tab and some of the Android smartphones that support Flash. Whatever the technical merits of Apple’s arguments against Flash, I can’t believe they are willing to leave money on the table.

Oh Facebook! How Cheeky You Are!

A few days ago, I noticed in my emailed Facebook status update notifications, that I could now reply to them via email. That is, I could reply to a friend’s status update without having to go to and login to Facebook. I thought it was interesting, but could not see the immediate benefit to me. Nevertheless, I started using the new feature.

Later, after talking with someone about how Facebook has become a popular vector for PC viruses and how many companies are beginning to block Facebook access for workers, it struck me! Being able to reply to a status update or comment on one via email is a way to get around the block. Keeping people from sending email to certain addresses is a thornier issue than blocking access to a particular web site. And it is highly unlikely that mail from Facebook itself poses any kind of security threat. Still, people are supposed to be working, right? Facebook you are so cheeky!

Heartache and the Tyranny of Social Networking Sites

This isn’t a continuing series, just some random thoughts from an observer. An observer I say because I’ve never been a social butterfly. I’ve always thought of myself as more of an observer, but over the years I learned to play my part and function reasonable well in social situations. I like to joke that I’m just a collection of heuristic algorithms!

Anyway, even in the best of times, breakups and other drama reek havoc over one’s social network of friends and acquaintances. But now, social networking sites like Facebook have the effect of magnifying this in  a way not seen since people started accidentally clicking reply to all on sensitive email messages. At least with Reply to All, things are going out over email to a relatively static and known list of recipients. But with sites like Facebook, not only is the list dynamic, there’s really no way to know who is now privy to your status. And triple damage bonus points come if/when it leaks to the general web and is indexed by search engines like Google. From that point the whole world, including past, present, and future employers may have access to info about your social life.

None of this is really new. But it really hurts when you see someone you care about driven off of the network in part because of this. Well that’s all I have for now, just had to let that out. I don’t know of any real solution. I think that social interactions will just have to renormalize, which like resetting the world economy, is going to take a long time.

The Future May Come in Waves

Another article has popped up proclaiming the death of Facebook. I read this with interest in part because I’ve become a bit disillusioned with Facebook myself for reasons I’ve discussed before. And I’d read some of what Phoebe Connelly referenced in her Guardian article. But her comments about the risks of data in the cloud resonated a bit and got me to thinking about possible solutions.

It seems pretty clear by now that social networking sites/services are here to stay. The question being, what form will these take in the future? Popular services come, mature, and go away as people’s interests and technology changes. Can any of this be future-proofed? Probably not, but it seemed clear to me that having all of your eggs or data in one basket is a bad idea. So I started to think about what a distributed, federated social networking service might look like. This would be a service which allows the same kind of sharing we are familiar with on Facebook, but with individual members having their homes on servers maintained by different companies. This would be pretty seamless from the user’s point of view just as it doesn’t really matter what company hosts your email these days.

Well, my rush to the patent office was cut short by the realization that the smart folks at Google had already begun the process of building this as Google Wave! A little Googling turned up this article on New Rowley, Google Wave: Users may need it, but it will be hard to get them to use it. It may well be that users familiar and comfortable with Facebook, and Myspace may eschew Wave based services and stay put. But I suspect that the tech people and the Cool Kids are going to cause a rapid expansion of the Wave space once it enters a wider release. I’m going to try to ride this wave myself,  and the pun was definitely intended!

Now I know why the folks who run Facebook, MySpace, and perhaps Twitter, may be a bit worried. Google Wave may take the bat right out of their hands. In any case, it won’t happen overnight and if they’re smart, they’ll quickly provide their own Wave compatible services and just accept that they have to share some of their revenue with someone else or risk losing more members entirely.

Hokusai's Great Wave off Kanegawa

Ultimately, federated social networking services should give users more control over their social data and how it is used. But like most freedoms, this one comes with responsibilities and risks. Users will have to be more responsible for managing the collection of services they use. They’ll also have to ready for those times when some of those services fail. At least in this scenario, the failure of one provider won’t result in the loss of all of your data! Finally, as always, let the user beware! Not all service providers will be uprigtht and honest. There will be some rip offs! But in the end, I think this is the next wave, so get your board ready, you won’t want to miss it!

Second Chances and My New Digital Self

Yesterday while working I received a chat message in Google Gmail from a colleague on a project I’m working on. These days, just getting a chat message is not a big deal, but as someone from *ahem* the dawn of email, the real time nature of chat still takes some getting used to. Nevertheless, I use chat along with a growing plethora of social network related sites and applications. As a professional and an enthusiast, I’m intrigued by the opportunities these tools present to create a new digital self. But do you create the person you are, or the one you want to become?

I used to joke that I come from the time when people used their real names on the Internet. But in an age of Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, and soon Google Wave, it seems that that time has come again. While I have no intention of spreading my real name all over the net in anything less than a professional context, I am becoming more comfortable with the notion of embracing a digital self more identified with my real self.

It feels like a second chance to reach out in ways not limited by physical separation, or a dubious set of in-person social skills. Well, I’m not really all that bad in person, but I’m no social butterfly either. In any case, I’m excited by the possibilities and filled with a new courage to be who I am as well as who I want to become.