Tag: social networking

Unfollow me, please

I have been actively engaged on Twitter for roughly twenty months. During that time I have met some interesting folks, and had some fun. I also learned a lot about people, social interaction, marketing, network complexity, and myself. But no longer.

The experiment is now over

Before detailing the underlying reasoning, I’ll draw the sketch: between consuming RSS feeds – which I do several times a day during the work week – and keeping track of social network updates, it was just too much. In addition, many of the networks give users the ability to syndicate content from one service to the other – as I was connected to many of the same users on multiple networks, a significant amount of the information being delivered was redundant. I couldn’t tell whether my memory was failing or I was experiencing digital déjà vu.


Around the world in nine paragraphs flat – 03/30/09

World MapTechnology

– Jeff Bezos spent a week working in one of his own warehouses. When I first heard about it, I thought he was making a shift from strategic to operational, with an eye to cutting some costs. I was right. But I admire the man and the company enough that I can only believe those that were cut were treated right. If they weren’t, I’m assuming those cut couldn’t cut it themselves. I have a couple of friends working their, and have, on occasion, wished I could join the fun.

– Google layed off some sales folks in the past few weeks, and I imagine it’s all for the better. Their top dog of sales, Tim Armstrong, is gone. New blood replaces, and cohesion will be key to Google’s finding their next growth spurt. Will the next chapter in Google’s story be charging full steam into the enterprise? They don’t want to suffer the curse of eBay, but I hope they don’t listen to BusinessWeek either – those guys suggest they first buy Twitter and then get better at acquisitions.

– On that note, Twitter and Facebook are capturing so gosh darn much attention I’d usually be willing to bet that they’ll fizzle out in the blink of an info tech eye. But I don’t actually think that’s going to be the case.


I’m bullish on Twitter and Facebook – just wholeheartedly bearish on all the media who can’t find another story.


And, I’m feeling sorry for the folks on the job hunt after they get their master’s degrees in social networking, as well as those businesses that try hitching a ride based solely on advertising. This is one godawful hype brawl, and plenty of folks are going to get knocked out.


– The S&P has been on a tear the last few weeks, but now it has the Quadruple Confirmed Evil Knievel Formation to contend with. If that technical analysis wizardry isn’t enough for you, there’s another economic bubble about to rear it’s ugly head. It’s called the budget deficit.

– In the luxury goods department, modern art prices are getting slashed and burned as collectors run to the masters. I’m not surprised – tossing a couple of cans of paint on a 20′ X 20′ canvas and calling it a million bucks was bound to fizzle on the business model front. The art world is certainly not without it’s scammers. Top shelf wine lovers are getting a bit more cautious now too – cult wine lists, space on which once sold to the highest bidder (yes, before you got your first bottle), are now looking for the last sucker too. Once the lists start including grape juice in a box, I’m in.

– This morning’s Asian markets were closing on an ugly note, with the Nikkei and Hang Seng off over 4.5%. Meanwhile, some commodities prices are on the skid as well. US markets have been on a tear as of late, but Nouriel Roubini was also saying a few weeks back to expect a bear market rally. I thought he might just be a little tired from all the media attention, and yet things are shaping up for him to be right. Again.

Fly Fishing

– There’s a recession in fly fishing – interest is down and nobody seems to have a solution yet. Still, there are a few folks keen on catching a big trout on the fly – my only suggestion is that instead of putting that goal on a list of things to do before dying, why not try making a habit of it. Easier said than done, and probably a significant part of the reason fly fishing is taking a hit – it’s less instant gratification than constant aggravation. Neverthless, I am, and shall remain, a glutton for punishment.

– Thomas McGuane wrote what is easily my favorite book on fly fishing, The Longest Silence: A Life in Fishing. And this last weekend he took aim at shotguns, dogs, and dinner. I’m all for dogs and dinner, as long as the dogs aren’t begging for mine. As for the shooting, I’m pretty sure I’ll be spending more time at the clays course this summer, and I’ll credit the story as well. As for my dog, he’s a herder. Anyone have some spare sheep?

And finally…

– Speaking of the Wall Street Journal, there’s been a lot of hype about ‘brownlining’ over the past few weeks, and with Denver’s urban South Platte on center stage. Fly fishing history is being rewritten, and there’s even a new ‘nation’ for those who’ve been busted scratching rocks with their cleats and are now banished from the clear stuff. Even wholly unprofessional (at fly fishing) jokers such as myself have been fielding inquiries as to how it’s done, as well as a few more that say “great going Gracie…now the the joint is going to be packed all summer.” I don’t know how it’s done (I’m just lucky), and as for the crowds, well the flows looked docile in that WSJ video, but said water level won’t be a crowd pleaser for much longer…

South Platte Flow

MG signing off (to get some more coffee)

Gems in the Rough: Social advice at FunAdvice

Management finds a way.

When a person performs a search, often they are looking not specifically for a product or a service but an answer. Sometimes it’s just a second opinion before pulling out the wallet, but more and more often it’s an inquiry about relationships, health, or even technology that doesn’t naturally result in the immediate employ of a new device or professional. The person inquiring simply needs advice.

There is no end-all be-all in obtaining educated opinions, and the internet will often offer you content from a special interest publication or personal weblog as a cure to what ails you – consider yourself lucky if you get a good answer without pouring through pages and pages of search results. Meanwhile, in step the advice sites – Yahoo! Answers, WikiAnswers, Answerbag, etc. – internet venues where questions can be asked and everyday folks can throw in their two cents too. Rather than leave your inquiry to search devices, these Q&A sites aggregate common (and some not-so-common) questions and allow other users of the sites to provide the answers – you absorb and contribute as you see fit. Communities of people seeking advice, and dishing it out.

funadviceI stumbled upon one of the lesser known sites in the Q&A arena not too long ago, FunAdvice.com, and was immediately curious as to what they were up to. I’d bumped into many sites before that seemed like so much MySpace/Facebook half-baked knockoffs that I wondered how a “no name” site like FunAdvice could survive unless it was simply a “bandwagoner” parsed together for a quick exit. I’ve since had a chance to chat with one of it’s owners, Jeremy Goodrich, and am now in state of slight shock – without as much as a single mention in the ‘major internet media’ FunAdvice has managed the following (1):

  • More than 100,000 registered users;
  • Over 2,000,000 monthly visits;
  • Almost 200,000 private messages exchanged between members;
  • and…

  • The site has surpassed financial breakeven without the help of third-party capital.


The joke starts off “To delete your Facebook account…”

This morning’s MySpace note reminded me that I had some housekeeping to do. One of the duties was to delete a few social networking accounts – I don’t use them and likely never will, preferring the dynamics of voice intonation and facial expressions over web pages. This task, however, proved more complicated than I thought.

I’ll toss out a caveat – MySpace was a cakewalk. I logged in, and clicked on account settings. The “delete” link was easy to find, and I clicked it. The page asked me in no uncertain terms whether I wanted to do this. I pushed the equivalent of the yes button. Thirty seconds later I received an email with another link to complete cancellation. I click that, push one button, and it’s done (or at least promised within 48 hours). Seconds later I notice that the MySpace messaging account I had input into Adium (but never actually used) had gone offline. I was now pretty certain my account had been taken care of.

On to Facebook…I am now reminded why I avoid signing up for too many services on the web – some are simply run by jackasses.

First and foremost, trying to find a link to delete your account within Facebook is kind of like trying to find a prostitute inside the Vatican City – you’ve heard rumors it’s possible, but nobody is pointing the way. I wound up having to run a Google search to acquire this:


So I click said link, and wind up at a page that tells me I need to log in. I enter my log-in information, but instead of getting redirected to the page I previously requested – you know, in the same sort of manner virtually every other web service on planet Earth operates when you click on a link that requires prior login – I wind up at a generic contact page. Furthermore, the “Issues” drop down list of the form now staring me down doesn’t even contain a selection for “delete account.”

I have to say I’d actually thought of writing a desktop script to repeatedly request account deletion, but soon realized someone else had probably tried that. How do I know? Well after finally reaching the proper page and requesting account deletion, I was met with this message:

Thanks, your inquiry has been forwarded to the Facebook Team.

At that point I realized I was running late. So I walked the dog around a few blocks – when I returned, this was sitting in my inbox:


The Facebook Team has received your inquiry. We should get back to you soon. In the meantime, we encourage you to review our Privacy and Security Help page (http://www.facebook.com/help.php?page=433). There, you’ll find answers to many common questions.

Thanks for contacting Facebook,

The Facebook Team

It didn’t take a deep investigation to realize this was an auto-generated message. In addition, the return address had been purposefully obfuscated to either prevent a reply or keep damn good track of who did reply:


I then run through the same process roughly ten times – hitting the delete account page and proceeding – hoping the “Facebook Team” truly gets the message. Then I run out for breakfast. When I returned, there were no new delete account messages waiting for me – someone has obviously tried the delete-account-many-times approach, and Facebook has taken appropriate measures. Several hours later my account was still active.


1) Facebook goes to great length to prevent you from finding a way to delete your account. Links are extremely non-obvious, and the site purposefully tries to circumvent your reaching the page. You are forced to find a link to delete from outside the site, and make sure your are logged in BEFORE you can properly access said link.

2) Facebook communication makes them sound apprehensive about deleting your information. They may claim that this is for your own protection, but I consider the sequence and tone more that of one that wants to carefully review your information first, just in case there is something of value to them within.

Keep in mind – you don’t have this problem elsewhere. I’ve been plenty of places where going through the delete account process gives you fair warning, just before your account disappears. I’ve got MySpace on the tip of my tongue…cripes, even Google lets you delete accounts and the result is instantaneous. Finding yourself in the position of having to wait for some “team” to “get back to you soon” is more than mere bullshit.

You know what they say…if it looks like a duck, and quacks like a duck…

Then don’t forget your waterfowl stamp.

LinkedIn tip sheet (and a “how do they do that?”)

Bernard Lunn started by comparing LinkedIn’s search feature to Google, and concluding the former was better. I found Mr. Lunn’s personal use cases even more intriguing than his headline, and think you should read it through. I’m sure folks can cook up even more derivatives of Mr. Lunn’s methods (and I’d love to hear about them).

Further, I find LinkedIn’s ability to find people for you even more fascinating. The first time I was exposed to the “you may know so-and-so” bit, the name was Adam Ostrow. I enjoy Adam’s take on the digital world, and link to Mashable every now and then – we exchanged a few emails about MindSay way back when as well. So I wrote the “you may know so-and-so” indicator off as some stealthy web-crawling on LinkedIn’s part. Since then, I’ve received a few more for a few more people, and most were probably from the same source. But just recently I received a “you may know so-and-so” for someone I conversed with briefly, some time ago. I never blogged the subject matter, never linked to the person (they don’t have a blog, but do have a simple brochure-style website) – we exchanged a few emails via POP clients, and talked on the phone a few times. That’s the extent of it. We are now connected on LinkedIn, but share no connections per se.

I really want to know…how do they do that?

Are social networks…

1) Bill Gates’s nemesis?

2) The Hotel California?


3) Just a time sink you can map (and of course, waste more time doing so)?

Everything has its limits. Thousands of daily “friends” requests aren’t going to do you much good – those “requestees” will either try taking yet more of your time, or they’re making the request because you are desirable for whatever reason and their hope is the resulting association will make them so too. Not having the ability to fully extricate yourself from the situation doesn’t help matters.

I am quite surprised users are just waking up to these issues now.

Mark Cuban thinks the internet is just dead and boring, and blames the economy. But maybe it’s the users…dying of boredom, and attempted to alleviate what ails them through the virtual world.

No firetrucks will arrive as online privacy battle heats up

To get people thinking about the related issues, Marshall Kirkpatrick has put together a list of questions well worth asking, and discussing. It is indeed timely.

Online social networking is already on fire, but there is a price to be paid as well – mashups galore are making it ever easier to get the data you want, as well as enable people to acquire data on you. I find it amusing that users scream when their Facebook accounts are disabled because they tried to mine some of the data within, but in the Scoble case and many others just face the facts – all those people you think are your friends aren’t really your friends. The majority of the people on that “friends list” won’t ever ask you out for a drink, help you move, or read your business plan, and they certainly don’t want you taking their email address to another site so that service can spam them with invitations to join the next best thing. I’m no particular fan of Facebook, but I can’t help but give them a thumbs up here. The myriad of user privacy settings they offer are there for a reason, to prevent pseudo-friends from taking users’ data while they are attempting to grab their own.

It’s a quandary for many internet users. The fact that some join and befriend in the first place makes them particularly vulnerable. It won’t be long before the type of intrusion exemplified by Robert Scoble/Facebook is going on undetected – its centralization makes it low hanging fruit. Meanwhile we’ve moved beyond the average person’s grasp of privacy – it no longer exists – the best one can hope is that the information available about them isn’t ultimately damaging.

No fire truck is going to arrive to help you if it is.

UPDATE: If the risk of all that social networking data floating around isn’t bad enough already, you can always worry about your ISP doing the mining.

UPDATE 2: Regarding the Scoble/Facebook drama, Paul Buchheit wonders: Why aren’t Gmail, Yahoo! Mail, and Hotmail blocking Facebook? Another good question, and with TOS excerpts to boot!

Happy Holidays (and headline hoopla)

Cheer and good tidings first; light reading last

  • Charlie Crist calls for an investigation of “Florida’s subprime-tainted fund.” It’s really a SIV tainted fund and a sub-prime tainted SIV, but I’ll spare you the details. More on the Florida Fund fiasco here, here, and here.
  • Research In Motion: no slowdown. Is it a consumer thing? Personally, I’m very happy with my Blackberry, although I consider it a business tool.
  • Myspace. Facebook. Go WordPress!? This may sound a little outlandish now, but the open source blogging application has the install base and the development community to really put a hurting on the “traditional” fare.
  • A Home Price Heat Map, compliments of Stephen Heise. Data runs from 1975 to Q3-2007. Very interesting – hit the pause button along the way.
  • A reminder: next time you look into that camera someone might be recording the color of your eyes, among other things.

Again, happy holidays!

The Social Graph and Participant Motivations

Two interesting articles on social networking and data elements from Read/WriteWeb, compliments of Alex Isgold and Bernard Lunn.

Some will find them lengthy for blog posts, but follow through. Bernard’s concluding inquiries on network types reads like the first chapter of an introductory sociology course. Smart stuff.

Social Web’s Bill of Rights – Vaporthinking?

Pete Cashmore says it’s all hot air:

This sounds a lot like talk and no action to me. Do 99% of those users on social networks care about this stuff anyway? And what difference does it make if anyone agrees to this – it seems like the return of that familiar form of verbal vaporware, pioneered a few years back by the “Attention Trust“, which asked website owners to be respectful of the “attention” of their users. Or perhaps the Blogger’s Code of Conduct proposed earlier this year is closer to the mark: that too fell by the wayside when it emerged that no one really cared about a unified code of ethics for bloggers. I guess you can call it vaporthinking.

I concur. And market forces will ensure social networking participants don’t care either.

UPDATE: A somewhat alternative viewpoint on this from Josh Catone. Good argument.