Checking Out Of Social

…for now.

Over the past few years, I’ve used social media as almost a full replacement for real social interaction. It started out nicely enough and I’ve definitely interacted with plenty of people that have changed me. Some positively, few negatively, and the rest have been there. Unfortunately, with time what I, and others, want or need has changed, not unexpectedly; operating as if nothing has changed leaves me feeling somewhat empty.

July and August of 2008 was when I started actually using social media for purposes outside of just keeping up with friends on Myspace and Facebook. I ended up on Pownce, Twitter, Friendfeed, Ustream, Seesmic and others in rapid succession. That was also when I began taking blogging a bit more serious, in retrospect a very bad thing.  I decided sometime around then that I had to interact and add value on Twitter every day, no matter how small.  I kept it up for a few months pushing a motivational quote or video in the morning to try and lighten the increasingly gloomy situation.

Come March and April of 2009, Friendfeed rolled out their real-time site and I became instantly enthralled in the interaction on the service. It was so far superior to anything at the time, and still to most today, that I gradually stopped devoting time to the other sites. In between April and August of 2009, I interacted and got to know many people on Friendfeed, one in particular was Holden Page who people used to confuse with me and likewise me with him.

August 10th, 2009: The day that Friendfeed was lost; Facebook purchased Friendfeed and in the next few weeks, a large portion of the English-speaking community leaves. This push left only the most diehard lovers of the site and community there, but with the knowledge that it’s not going to get better and there is a chance the plug will get pulled. Every time something new has come along the question has been, “Will, or can, this replace Friendfeed.” The answer never an absolute yes, and nothing came by that could truly match the service with it’s community for nearly two years.

July 2011, the weary ship set adrift just a few years, yet a lifetime, ago finally scrapes against something that can truly match it, Google+. When Google+ launched it immediately became a haven for the reFFugees, and has thus sucked most of the remaining members of the community away. My community there is now gone; it’s not where I want to be any longer, as shown by my interaction recently. I guess I could try to embrace Google+, but it is not the site or community I want.

So for now, I’m checking out on actively utilizing social sites. Will I come back? I don’t really know. I’ve had fun over the years, but it’s mostly been for naught or worse. With the time I’ve recently had, I’ve had time to think about a lot of things that matter and those that don’t. I want to spend more time creating value that is going to last and less on the frivolous affairs.

P.S. for Friendfeeders: Right now, I don’t think I’ll be going Full-Cristo, but it could be a possibility in the future.

P.P.S. to Louis Gray: I know it’s probably your job, but please don’t encourage people to +James Fuller on Google+. 😛

Graph Attention Profiles – GAP(ML)

This was an idea I had earlier this morning about how to optimize social ad placement services, (MyLikes (Aff. Link), Magpie, etc. ) These services work by placing ads into the a social stream , I like MyLikes model, they let you decide what to put into the stream based on what you like, but this doesn’t factor in what your followers like, the ad needs to be relative to them, not you*. Thinking about how to determine the relevancy to a group, I came up with an idea based around averaging individual APMLs(Attention Profiling Mark-up Language).

I haven’t thought it out fully, it’s only been a few hours, but using APMLs as the starting ground. You sum the weights, per topic, for all of your followers and then divide by #number of followers, to get the APML for your Social Graph, per network which I’m calling GAP currently. I see this as an extended OPML format for APMLs , handling not only weights of relevant interest, but also handling access to the APMLs monitored by the graph.

One thing that would conflict with the APML format, which the GAP could stay very close to, is what is deemed Explicit Data. You aren’t the one determining relevancy, so it isn’t necessary. I’d either use or replace it for something that handles the APML list being monitored, the list becomes the explicit data for the weighting, but it also allows you to weight the APML’s individually as well, I don’t know that this is necessary, but it allows accessibility to possibly increase relevance to your graph, based on who is likely to interact more with you.

So this is just a thought, about a open-method for sharing graphs and relevance between services, rather than every service handling a proprietary model of the graph, and a proprietary model of relevant data. First things first, is that we need support for APML, which we have Chris Saad to thank for, then we can handle how we manage our networks relevancy.

One final issue with the GAP is that it has a specific use case, is that it is a way to share graphs and relevancy to exterior networks, but the file size for the GAP if it handled all the networks simultaneously it would become quite large, implicit data would be 1 line per topic, per network, and explicit data would be 1 line per person, per network. For early adopters and people with large following bases this could become quite large, even for a regular user on one network it would likely be 300-1000 lines.

*= MyLikes already uses a similar model, influenced by clicks per ad and number of ads you share. MyLikes Influence Rank

The Future Of Privacy Is Full Publicy

Zuckerburg was right, “privacy was no longer a ‘social norm’,” being public is the new social norm, though most people will still tend to reject reality, even myself. I’ve finally gotten over about 90% of privacy issues, I might get upset by/at them, but even if there is something exposed, I’m preparing for it now. Anyone under the age of 21, within the US, who has ever used the internet has already lost their identity, so why should they worry, about what any company is exposing about them? It’s time to get over these feelings and accept the change that is coming, a ton of privacy isn’t worth an ounce of knowledgeable protection.

Just the other day, Facebook, proposed an update to their privacy policy to allow third-parties to have access to your data, some point in the future, and with this comes, yet, another wave of criticism, some. People are jumping all over Facebook, because they feel people will be paranoid that their data is vulnerable, and that their data shouldn’t be given out willie-nillie to just any third-party site that Facebook comes to agreement with. You would think people would be used to this type of position coming from Facebook, by now, this is their fourth or fifth slip up, but still people complain for a few months and then calm down, until it happens again.

Our most personal data in the US, social security numbers, is insecure, especially if you were born after 1988. The numbers can be defined through 2 data points, date & location of birth, and a little brute forcing. So for the younger generation, nothing is private, not even our government provided personal identification. If we aren’t protected in that regard, should we really be worried about those images from last weekend or who our friends are, what our opinions are? I think Eric Schmidt said it best, in an interview where he discussed privacy, “If you have something that you don’t want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn’t be doing it in the first place.”

I know I jumped on Facebook, but they aren’t the only sites that have huge inventories of data on their users, in hopes of adding relevancy, Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, et al. Facebook is the simplest site to jump on because of it’s repeated transgressions in the area. Google has faced it as well, though, when it didn’t take enough discretion in opening up their Gmail users privacy through Buzz. As the web keeps advancing, privacy options are going to be set to off on default, it will be up to the users to change the settings to keep themselves private, this has been called ‘publicy’.

Are you prepared for the next generation, the age of publicy? Are you ready to get dirty mucking around with settings to protect what little privacy, you will have in the future? Will you let everything go, and change how you interact on the web? These are questions that we will all face, but I think I’m prepared to be completely open in my environment when it comes to social matters, they aren’t anything compared to my financial information or my social security number, which can apparently be brute forced by a bot-net of 10,000 machines in ~1.27 seconds.

Update: Tyler Romeo’s latest post, Why I Dislike Facebook & Foursquare, makes a great point in contrast to the opinions I made here, I agree with quite a bit of what he has to say as far as respecting your users and offering secure protocols, to help protect your users. Take your time and go check that post out.

7 Tips To Remember During Human Interaction

We’ve all been had human interaction where we feel that we aren’t getting our point across. It is one of the most annoying feelings to feel you’re not being heard, or skipped over for no particular reason.  Here are a few tips that I use, on a daily basis, to have deep, meaningful, human interactions.

1. Listen First, Speak Later
If you aren’t listening to them, you have no clue where the conversation is going. If you don’t know where the conversation is headed, you don’t have a clue what you should say. You should hold your words back and carefully sculpt them to what is being said, that way you give credence to what the person is saying, even if you don’t agree with them.

2. Be Happy, Be Calm
You should never get upset in a conversation, because you will become short-sighted. If you become short-sighted you end up risking killing the conversation, or even worse destroying the relationship you have with the person. One thing I do, when I do get aggravated, is I pause the conversation. On the internet, I take a stroll through the house, before going back. In real-time interactions, such as over the phone or in person, I ask them to excuse me, to do something important or use the restroom.

3. Be Responsible
With great power, comes great responsibility. In a world that treasures the passing of knowledge, you wield the greatest power of all, your words. You should take try your best in making sure that what you say is accurate, and not offensive. If you do misspeak make sure that you remedy it, which leads to the next point.

4. Apologize Quickly
An apology might not right every wrong, but it shows that you understand you made a mistake. It is not an excuse to try to get people off your back, if you use it this way, you’re not being sincere. To truly apologize, you first have to state that you are sorry, then show proof that you understand why you wrong.

5. Be Accepting
Always be willing to accept someone’s ideas, even those you might not agree with. Being open to new ideas only leads to a more open and intellectually satisfying discussion. Acceptance is the first step in understanding something new.

6. Be Understanding
Once you have accepted external views, your next task is to step into the person’s shoes, as best you can, and attempt to understand what they are saying. Understanding what someone says makes you much more inviting to converse with, even if after understanding you point out where they have erred, which hopefully is reciprocated.

7. Offer Help
If someone is having a problem, that you can possibly help with, offer your assistance. In offering assistance, you have very little to lose, and much to gain, a new best friend, possibly. I’ve been through this cycle many times, and have made some very good friends by helping them when they needed it.

Here are a few bonus  tips for interacting in the physical world.

Smile
The best way to lighten the mood is to smile, you let everyone know that you enjoy their company. A smile is also a very attractive thing that can make you, and your ideas more appealing. This is the same as an apology, however, and if you aren’t sincere it’s not hard to figure it out, though it might take a bit longer with a smile.

Eye Contact
Eye contact is a great way to show that you are engaged with what the person has to say, and that you aren’t just shrugging off what they say. A few tips on eye contact, don’t stare, and occasionally break contact, for 1-2 seconds, to observe your surroundings.

Social Geo-Location Is A Weak Medium

Earlier, I was watching an Iron Maiden concert and realized that any decent medium can be used to express a story or culture. Social Geo-location might be able to pass a story, but the majority of the usage I’ve seen, thus far, doesn’t. This is just one of a few issues that make social geo-location weak, there is the issue of user base, barrier to entry, and application of the data.

I feel that the location services aren’t proper for expressing the story. They don’t describe the why and what is happening the majority of the time, and when they do the data is extremely condensed to fit within the minuscule boxes of Twitter or SMS. Twitter is hard enough to express a story through, though you can still manage to get it or a cultural message across in one tweet. Sharing a cultural message through one of these locations is likely even harder, with the exception of religious establishments.

How social can you really be with these applications? These applications all have tiny user bases, even after quite a bit of promotion on large blogs and a period of time. Foursquare, which is one the most publicly discussed ones, only has half-a-million, even after breaking out at SxSW, last year. Compared to Foursquare, few of the other services come close in size comparisons. The problem with low user adoption is that without your friends, how relevant can the product be, which I’ll discuss a little later.

The barrier to entry for nearly all of these services, is that they are limited to internet enabled phones, or smart phones. In fact, only one service of the several that I’ve looked at, had a entry level that wasn’t quite restrictive of it’s base, and it’s none other than Foursquare, with SMS check-in’s, which still appears to be hit or miss. If you’re reducing your initial growth capabilities, immediately, in a social market, you’re damaging your product.

The services use the location data, in their own ways, but I don’t know if they are applying it where it would actually be of value, as an addition of context. If you can take the data from these products and connect it to events and people as they occur, you simplify the enrichment of the story. It’s still pretty easy to just say where the event’s took place, with the addition of maybe 2 dozen key strokes, as I write this at my house.

Another issue is that the product might not be relevant to users, especially, when people begin using them to check in as they leave. If I were to use these services, it would be to let my friends know where I am, so now you have users undermining the principles of your product, way to go. You’re app actually ends up being even more irrelevant than it already is. The likelihood that your friends are even on the service is an anomaly in the first place, unless you live in a metropolitan area(e.g. New York, San Francisco, LA, Portland, Miami, etc.).

I give all the people who work on these applications props, though, because they discovered a great system. They created a user-promotion based advertising system, which you encourage by having deals with various venues to reward the heavy users, and little trophies for reaching little milestones for the rest of the users. They have also brought the idea of geo-location to the fore, which sometime in the future will be used to add context to real stories or cultural messages. So I would like to thank all the people, who work on these apps, for their work, but you guys apparently don’t understand geo-location, it is better served to add context to other mediums, than as an independent social medium.