Archive for the ‘Social Media’ Category

I do have a Facebook account, but I don’t use it – not even to spy on my children. So I wonder: is this just an interesting experiment, or the start of something big?

At Basecamp, we’ve decided to go Facebook Free from today. If you’d like to join, either today, tomorrow or next year, just comment on this post, and we’ll highlight credible pledges for all to see. You’re also free to use the 100% Facebook Free badge that we’ve released under Creative Commons (CA BY-SA 4.0) and have it link back to this page.

Anyway, since I don not use FB (or Instagram, for that matter) in a professional context, you could say I’m “Facebook Free” as well. Hi there, DHH!

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That’s not my title, it’s the conclusion of Dave Pell when he wrote about the Facebook affaire a few weeks ago. You can’t blame him for saying so, and he’s illuminating, serious and funny at the same time in “The Flight of the Zuckerberg“.

2. Facebook is constantly urging you to share your immediate thoughts and reactions to every life event. We were a couple days into the company’s biggest challenge before Facebook’s creator shared any of his thoughts on the matter. There’s probably a lesson in that…

11. You read the stories about Cambridge Analytica and you think, Damn, these guys are total geniuses who can control our minds. You watch the undercover video of the Cambridge Analytica execs and you think, Damn, these guys are seriously some clown-ass schmucks. Like always, believe what you see…

12. If Facebook really manipulates our thoughts, they must want us to be really pissed at Facebook…

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Why Do We Blog, Jason?

Last week, Jason Kottke’s blog celebrated its twentieth birthday. Yes, that’s less than Johann S.Bach, but nevertheless quite a feat: I don’t know many blogs that go back so long (Dave Winer’s Scripting.com is probably the most prominent one).

His first post, March 14, 1998

I can’t say that I have read every one of Jason’s posts, but at least I knew – and appreciated – his writings many years ago; I even referred to his blog in 2003. Some of his latest words resonate clearly with my own experience:

I had a personal realization recently: kottke.org isn’t so much a thing I’m making but a process I’m going through. A journey. A journey towards knowledge, discovery, empathy, connection, and a better way of seeing the world.

In December 2014, I mentioned a similar realisation on the one but last slide of a presentation on blogging. Check it out on “My Life As A Blogger In A Few Images“.

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More than 15 years ago, I wrote about my resolve to keep up with the writings of Brent Simmons. I wanted to do that, not because he was one the makers of Frontier and working at UserLand, but because I liked (and still like) the fact that he applies ethics to all aspects of his life – including programming and software.

You don’t have to agree with his take on things, but at least go over and read Brent’s hopes for 2018:

Rebuilding the social open web is not the one cure that we need for all our ills. I’m fully skeptical of technological solutions to problems of culture and politics. But it is an important thing we can and should do. My small hope for 2018 is the knowledge that I’m not the only person thinking that way.

Building a social open web will, unfortunately, take more than one calendar year. But it’s important to start (some will say: to continue) the construction of such a web: every journey starts with a single step. Technology won’t bring the cure; only people can do that.

PS. No, I haven’t yet started reading Tim O’Reilly’s “WTF What’s The Future And Why It’s Up To Us”. But you can see why I had to buy (and read, I promise) that book.

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Now That’s Activism!

(Thanks, BoingBoing, for pointing me to this story: “Man spraypaints Twitter office sidewalk with abusive tweets it refuses to delete“)

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David Byrne wrote Eliminating the Human.

Human interaction is often perceived, from an engineer’s mind-set, as complicated, inefficient, noisy, and slow. Part of making something “frictionless” is getting the human part out of the way.

I’m not an engineer, but it’s true that certain processes, certainly in a business context, can benefit from automation.

While Facebook and others frequently claim to offer connection, and do offer the appearance of it, the fact is a lot of social media is a simulation of real connection.


We have evolved as social creatures, and our ability to cooperate is one of the big factors in our success. I would argue that social interaction and cooperation, the kind that makes us who we are, is something our tools can augment but not replace.

Personally, I would rewrite that last sentence: “I would argue that social interaction and cooperation, the kind that makes us who we are, is something our tools should augment but not replace” (and perhaps I should have used the word “must”). But you have to read the complete piece David Byrne wrote – really. Or better yet: check out the extended version on his website.

(I found this portrait of DB on http://liveforlivemusic.com/)

It took me a lot of time to learn that talking to people can be more effective (not necessarily more efficient) than a note, an email, or a letter in the right situation. How do you know when to use which tool? Well, you have to learn that by doing and making mistakes ;-)

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Social media are everywhere these days, to the point where they suddenly seem to be more important than any other communication medium. Families and friends use them to stay in touch while on holiday, companies use them for informal meetings and discussions, news media distribute their headlines with them, politicians on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean (and probably elsewhere in the world too) use them to try and set the stage for policy changes.

Privacy questions remain, however. Especially now that the concept of real and virtual walls around nations is rearing its (ugly) head again. So here’s an interesting suggestion from Maciej Cegłowski, in a post titled “Social Media Needs A Travel Mode“:

All I care about when I’m on vacation is posting devastating beach photos that will make my friends jealous. So why do I need to carry the complete list of people I went to high school with, or an archive of messages I exchanged with a chance acquaintance ten years ago?


We need a ‘trip mode’ for social media sites that reduces our contact list and history to a minimal subset of what the site normally offers. Not only would such a feature protect people forced to give their passwords at the border, but it would mitigate the many additional threats to privacy they face when they use their social media accounts away from home.

Reinforced real borders the world all over form a strong contrast with an Internet that has (almost) no frontiers. So I do wonder if we’ll ever see such a thing – perhaps Diaspora could propose a solution?

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