Seriously, why do we Facebook?

I’m an analyst at an online marketing company. You would think that I could easily explain what social networks are really for. Self promotion? Communication? Maintaining relationships with people across the world? The answer is messy and changes almost daily.

cat chased by turtleI personally am very bad at my own social media presence. I’m grumpy, I don’t like people, and I unfriend individuals for posting crap like Anti-Vaccine stuff with increasing regularity.  I post an inconsistent mix of articles ranging from geek culture to race issues. Basically, for myself, I break all the rules I’m very familiar with for marketing one’s product or self. If I ever have a book or comic to push, I’ll have some clean up to do.

So what am I doing with Facebook? I mostly use it keep tabs on friends I never see, and send them links to stuff I think they’ll appreciate. I’ve thought about trying to do that with email, but it never really seems to take off. I deleted my original profile and now use a new, very incomplete profile, free of my work or educational history, that is constantly asking me to fill that out. I verified with a Google Voice number I use specifically for things I don’t want contacting me. I do not upload my own pictures there. There are a handful of pages I actually pay attention to, simply because those entities for some reason put more work into their page than their real website (or don’t have a website). A few social groups use private groups to communicate, that’s the main reason I still log in at all.

zombieWhat am I doing with Google+? Basically just hanging out in a private group for the department I work for. I do like using it to find more intellectual things to follow (I have a growing list of Robot-themed pages and people) for the sake of getting interesting news on topics I like. I’m certainly not using it to connect with anyone. And since Google killed the authorship search feature earlier this year, it’s growing less and less relevant. I’m sad about that.

What am I doing with Twitter? I don’t post much, and when I do it’s usually just sending out the same links I like to post on Facebook, though I tend to filter myself much less on Twitter when it comes to sending out incendiary articles. I have pretty much zero following of my own at the moment, so I have that rare opportunity to shout whatever I damn well feel like and no one will hear me. I do, however, avoid hashtag campaigns. The GGator nonsense was more than a little scary.  Mostly I just get to follow people who are interesting; scientists, authors, bloggers I like. It’s also the best way to get immediate news, either locally or nationally, sometimes globally.

corgi runI’m trying to start blogging again, and I really enjoy WordPress and Medium. WordPress has a really great community devoting specifically to teaching people how to make the most of WordPress and develop the habit of using it. I have to wonder if other networks would benefit from such a program.

Tumblr… I get addicted to Tumblr and have to take breaks. It’s probably a good thing that no one bothers with the #NSFW tag, so I just can’t waste time there during my work day.  I like it. If you can just find your people on there, it can be a really beautiful/crazy/weird thing.  But it is really intense, difficult to wrap one’s head around, and Yahoo is trying all kinds of stuff to figure out how to make money off of it.

skateboardcatSo what about Ello? Or Diaspora ( I like both of them, but I can’t get any of the people I communicate with online to really use them.  Diaspora would really fit with one of the communities I associate with, but migrating all of them over would take an awful lot of organization. Maybe I just need to go look for other burners already on there and call it good.

I think Ello is for artists and techies right now.  I wish I had the time and focus to try and connect with any of them.  If I was actively producing art right now, this is definitely one place where I would show that off.  Although one could easily ask there why do I need something else besides DeviantArt to maintain?

I wrote most of this blog post originally in my Ello (@cheeseandglory). I only pulled it out so I wouldn’t lose it if the browser crashed. It feels an awful lot like Livejournal, or even the old Myspace blogging feature. That isn’t a bad thing. They were solid services then, and Livejournal is still very much alive and kicking.  I like that Ello currently has limitless possibilities, and that the people who are using it have to figure out how they want to use it.

white squirrelI started thinking about this very big question this morning because I’m reading a white paper from Radium One on a concept called “Dark Social,” which is a very silly name for a simple fact; almost 70% of the times a link is shared, it isn’t done through a Facebook/Twitter/social network post, but rather through directly messaging the link to someone, posting it in a forum, or *gasp* even emailing the link to someone.  That tells me that we’re still interested in a more direct communication, and a conversation about the things that interest us with the people we bother to communicate with.

That’s a big deal.  Huge, in fact.  That’s the baby being more interested in the cardboard box the toy came in than the toy itself.

terrified spacecatPeople get mad at Facebook partly because they’re being herded into someone else’s big vision about how everyone is someday going to communicate, and these people don’t feel like they’re in control.  But the fact is that most of those people have no idea how to be in control of their online lives; it takes a lot of work, knowledge, and deep understanding to really get that. They use Facebook because it’s easy, and it’s easy because it’s prepackaged. It’s like choosing the Twinkie you can eat right away over baking an amazing eclair from scratch. Or Hell, just knowing where to go to get an amazing eclair from the local small business baker.

I am aware that the above paragraph is a very big generalization that ignores the subtleties of demographics. Young people in their 20’s are much more likely to have an innate grasp of what makes a social network useful or useless. Hence Snapchat, Vine, and a million other little mobile experiments coming, going, and occasionally sticking around.  But young people still aren’t using Diaspora, an open source social network alternative that really puts the user in control, down to choosing the server your data is stored in. That might change if they ever get a stable app and someone feels like putting some resources into promoting a Pod to young demographics. That would be a very interesting experiment.

chicken riding turtleThese are very big questions, the evolution of which has fascinated me since the age of IRC channels and MUDS (yes, you read that right).  I’m very interested to see what, if any, effect wearables will have on communication and digital socializing (There’s another thing currently with limitless possibilities, that clever people with find interesting uses for eventually).

My mind may be drawn into these issues today because I recently finished John Scalzi‘s excellent scifi novel Lock In, which tackles a number of big questions about how society responds to and eventually integrates technology.  And there’s my anthropology background; I simply am fascinated by the feedback loop between technology and cultural change. Social media is can even effect how the brain is wired.

Obviously, these things chew at my consciousness pretty insistently. I won’t bore those reading my blog with too many posts like this (unless you folks actually like this sort of thing), but occasionally I just need to ramble on a deep topic.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled cat gif.


What I read today March 26th

Chickens are amazing creatures, the Canadian Apocalypse is at hand, Facebook continues to ruin everything, Animal Planet sucks, Robert Frost was an incredible poet, facts never stop true believers even if they’re facts about what they used to believe, and incredibly successful Microsoft program manger Scott Hanselman advises just dropping that damn ball so you can get some real work done.

duck loves cat

Colossal: The Bizarre World of Chicken Beauty Pageants Photographed by Ernest Goh

Photographer and visual artist Ernest Goh is known for his work photographing wildlife and other animals. His latest book documents the strange world of chicken beauty pageants in Malaysia where he encountered a breed of bird called the Ayam Seramas, an ornate chicken raised not for its meat but purely for its appearance. These chickens not only have decorative plumage but possess the ability to strike ridiculous poses.

Read Write: Facebook Buys Oculus For $2B, Betting On Virtual Reality To Replace Smartphones

“Mobile is the platform of today, and now we’re also getting ready for the platforms of tomorrow,” Zuckerberg said. “Oculus has the chance to create the most social platform ever, and change the way we work, play and communicate.”

Slate: The Personhood Movement Is Tired of Republican Congressmen Betraying It

Slate: Canada to Suffer Brunt of “Double Bomb” Monster Storm

Such an intensification rate has rarely occurred outside of tropical cyclones and is almost unprecedented for a winter storm.”

The Writer’s Almanac NPR: A Prayer in Spring, by Robert Frost

Slate: “God Does Not Regard the Fetus as a Soul” Conservative evangelicals didn’t used to care much about abortion or contraception. The strange story of how they came to be obsessed with them.

Io9: More Reasons To Stop Watching Animal Planet

“…the city of Danville is rightfully concerned that a TV crew released poisonous snakes into their community pool.”

Zapier: How to Scale Yourself and Get More Done Than You Thought Possible

“If you find yourself saying, ‘I need to work late to catch up,’ then that’s a problem, that’s a big problem,” he says, admitting he’s guilty of using this phrase himself. The remedy isn’t as easy as “hoping” you’ll catch up with your to-do list.

What I read today March 19th

A new app to help you avoid people who suck, AirBnB learned their lesson and is ready to clean up the orgy that happened in your living room while you were away, the long lost wizard founder of Friendster wants to organize your social media feeds into something genuinely manageable, and cultural appropriation still sucks. Oh, and Marvel taunts the fandom with hints at one of the greatest things that could possibly happen.


The Verge: Nuzzel keeps track of Twitter and Facebook so you don’t have to

From the creator of Friendster (a long lost digital civilization that lives on in legends and myths). I’m going to have to play around with this.

Vice: This App Tracks the People You Don’t Like So You Can Avoid Them Forever

“We advise the heavy use of the hate follow.”

Fast Company: The Secret to AirBnB’s Freakishly Rapid Orgy Response: “Scenario Planning”

“…the company spent the past year preparing for scandals not just related to sex parties, but also to prostitution and even suicide. “Because we’re a high-profile company, there are things that will go wrong,” Airbnb hospitality chief Chip Conley told me recently. “So how do we deal with the aftermath of things that don’t go well?””

Salon: I still can’t stand white belly dancers

““I’m Egyptian and I love white belly dancers!” Good for you. Come live in America for 23 years, have people throw lit cigarettes at you and make fun of your mother’s accent and sneer at your muhajjaba aunt and try to deport your brother, see a white woman be applauded in a bar while dancing to “Walk Like an Egyptian” in a “Nefertiti hat,” and if, after that, you still feel the same way, cool, write your own opinion piece about it.”

Comic Book Resources: Feige Teases ‘Unbelievable’ Ultron, Possibility of Captain Marvel Movie

“Frankly, if we do a Black Widow movie after Age of Ultron, when she’s been central in three or four movies I don’t think we’d get the quote unquote credit for it,” he told Badass Digest. “People would say ‘She’s already a big giant superhero!’ But if we had a great idea, we’d do it.”


What I read on Friday

Friday is here.  To celebrate I am including two anecdotes about my day.

sparkling cupcake

A coworker showed up with amazing chocolate cupcakes. This makes me self-conscious because I’m planning to get up early tomorrow to make chocolate cupcakes for my boyfriend’s birthday party (but they’re not traditional cake cupcakes, they’re going to be my ridiculous dark chocolate pumpkin bread in cupcake form).  Coworker’s cupcakes have beautiful, perfect, home made frosting in a delightful pink shade balanced with chocolate chips.  My frosting execution tends to look like something about to creep, and leap, that one should generally beware of. Anyways, here’s some marketing stuff, an article on how cool volcanoes are, a great podcast on the search for exoplanets and extraterrestrial life, and a return to the dream of the space elevator, which it seems is really going happen, eventually, in the future.

Business Insider: Your Facebook News Feed Is Changing Starting Today
Not particularly interesting. Jonah Peretti: “Both Time and BuzzFeed grew by creating irresistible lists”
Apparently Buzzfeed’s founder hopes that Buzzfeed will be the Time Magazine of the digital era.  It isn’t a totally crazy idea.

Scientific American: Found in Space, Part 1
Scientific American: Found in Space, Part 2
“Journalist Lee Billings Talks about his book 
Five Billion Years of Solitude: The Search For Life Among the Stars. ”
I love this podcast. I may have to pick up Lee Billings’ book.

Video: Drones Over Dolphin Stampede and Whales off Dana Point and Maui
Beautiful video of a huge school of dolphins, and a baby whale cuddling with its mom.

The Bloggess: Dogs love (to eat) me
I recently started following this blog (thank you, WordPress suggestions box).  She’s hilarious, and I need to buy her books.

Kickstarter: Ifukube and Godzilla: A Musical Celebration
As will eventually be evident in this blog, I have something of an obsession with Godzilla, and kaiju movies in general.  Akira Ifukube was the genius composer behind all the most iconic monster themes to come out of Japan in the second half of the 20th century. G-Fest is an annual convention for Godzilla fans that, sadly, I haven’t yet made it to. This kickstarter is funding for a live symphonic concert of Ifukube’s work at G-fest this year.

The Daily Dot: Laverne Cox should win an Emmy for ‘Orange Is the New Black’

Mashable: What Glaciovolcanoes Can Tell Us About Past Ice Ages
“In western Canada, where scores of volcanoes erupted in the past millennia, geoscientists are quilting together the past thickness of the North American ice sheet with lava, and linking it to ocean cores. For example, ocean cores are often correlated by changes in oxygen isotopes (atoms with different numbers of neutrons) in ocean sediments. Edwards can now point to a volcano in British Columbia and say the ice on land was at least 985 feet thick during a certain marine isotope stage that corresponds to a cold Earth.”

Extreme Tech: 60,000 miles up: Space elevator could be built by 2035, says new study
“Arthur C. Clarke once famously said that we will build a space elevator 10 years after they stop laughing — and they’ve stopped laughing. He said that in 2003, and while his timeline may have been off, his sentiment surely wasn’t. The concept of a space elevator is taken seriously at NASA these days, as it eyes both shrinking budgets and growing public expectations. Space is quickly becoming a bottleneck in the timeline of human technological advancement.”

Final anecdote:

lovecraft seussWhile eating my pizza at the Greek place around the corner that is far too complicated to get too, an older gentleman in an EMT jacket who sported a fantastic white mustache waved and muttered at me in an effort to get my attention. He wanted to look at my t-shirt. Realizing this, I straightened up, moved way from the table, and adjusted my hoodie so that he would have a clear view.

“Lovecraft and Dr. Seuss? Right on!” he cried out in the middle of the restaurant.

I laughed, excited that someone outside of the convention world got the joke. Especially a random old EMT guy whose visage would have fit into a cowboy movie.