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What does it mean that digital technologies are increasingly a part of...
How to Make Journalism Work on Facebook and Tumblr by Lydia DePillis (via thenewrepublic)
David Pogue, Facebook’s Grab for Your Phone. What Gives?
What happens when Facebook tries to hack the way the mobile Home screen works? It screws up the whole smartphone paradigm of apps first and foremost.
The real problem is that Facebook Home is trying to hack our brains: Fail.
From a presentation called Overload, Shmoverload I gave (I think) at Etel, uploaded to Slideshare on 8 March 2007. This was based on the change in cognition that I predicted would arise from the use of tools like Twitter, Jaiku, and Facebook.
On Monday, Facebook put up a blog post saying “engagement has gone up 34 percent on posts from people who have more than 10,000 followers.” But Facebook did not share real numbers or metrics, leaving people guessing what 34 percent actually equals.
Meanwhile, over the weekend my Inbox filled up with dozens of e-mails from people who owned small businesses and said they had also been affected by Facebook’s news feed changes.
One of those e-mails came from a small father-and-son Web-based motorcycle company in Florida, BikersPost. The company said it had built most of its business around Facebook, but was now unable to reach its fans. Although Facebook is asking public figures to pay $7 per post to reach their subscribers, BikersPost says it is sometimes being told to pay as much $7,500 to reach the core of its subscribers and their friends.
Kris Olivera, who co-runs BikersPost, said that when his fan page had 200,000 fans, it was getting much more traffic than it did today with more than 600,000 fans. “After Facebook introduced promoted posts, we see much less traffic than a year ago,” he said.
In a statement to The New York Times, Facebook said it was not suppressing content to highlight paid posts.
Facebook is equivocating with the ‘most popular’ posts language. They have throttled down the feeds in order to gouge businesses to pay. Facebook will find pay-for-play self-defeating. Companies will drop out.
I confess that I was surprised to read Nick Bilton’s piece the other day, where he finally realized that Facebook’s EdgeRank is siphoning off his followers as part of an ‘advertising’ model that is more like a Mafia shakedown than advertising. Other tech writers (Anthony De Rosa, Felix Salmon) also seemed surprised. But EdgeRank is year-old news, and many have griped a long time ago:
Ryan Holiday, How Facebook Gets Away With Being Broken On Purpose
I don’t mean to pile on any of these well-meaning writers. (Some, like Zach Seward at Quartz, pretty much nailed it with his analysis of how Facebook tweaks “the black box that is EdgeRank,” in order to promote and incentivize features). They are right to be outraged and perplexed. Facebook’s pay-for-placement program is ridiculous. Except it’s been ridiculous for quite some time. And apparently part of the reason Facebook has been able to get away with it is that few media gatekeepers, who are supposed to follow this stuff for a living, know how the platform really works.
The common dismissal I’ve seen from far too many journalists–“how else should Facebook make money?”–implies that they or their sources just don’t understand the ad business. They aren’t able to see that Facebook’s sponsored story play is fundamentally different from most ad models.
Take Tumblr’s new ad platform Radar, on which I have done six-figures worth of buying for my client American Apparel. To create it, Tumblr designed entirely new advertising space on the platform that people have to pay to be a part of. In that case, buyers didn’t previously have access to it so if they want it, they have to pay for it. Tumblr’s interest is to make that space as attractive and valuable as possible to buyers, so they’ll pay for it. In this case, our interests are aligned–however long it took Tumblr to get here.
That’s very different from Facebook’s model, in which the worse Facebook posts ‘work’ for brands, the more brands will need to pay Facebook. That means that Facebook and I now have divergent interests. Intentionally or not, the less my posts show up, the more I need to spend to cover the difference, especially since brands have invested in and become dependent on Facebook over the years.
And all the more reason for all of us — including brands — to ditch Facebook, just like all the teenagers are.
Phil Zimmermann, the creator of Pretty Good Privacy, is widely considered the godfather of encryption software. After making his software available for download in the 1990s, he was the subject of a criminal investigation that was eventually dropped in 1996. Today, his P.G.P. software is the most widely used e-mail encryption software in the world.
But these days, Mr. Zimmermann is busy with his new venture, Silent Circle, which provides encryption for smartphone users. At a security conference in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Mr. Zimmermann introduced the service, which is available for Android and iPhone. Silent Circle lets users make encrypted phone calls, send text messages and do videoconferencing. Messages are scrubbed completely from the phone after a predetermined amount of time. Communications are secured using a new, peer-reviewed open-source encryption technology
His target market, Mr. Zimmermann said, is soldiers based overseas, business people who operate in known surveillance states, human rights activists, dissidents and (more recently) journalists. Since starting Silent Circle in October, Mr. Zimmermann, said, he has spent nearly all his time in Washington signing up government agencies and contractors.
He was adamant that the service be subscription-based. Individual users pay $20 a month, while businesses are charged per employee. He said he was often asked why people would pay to use the service when they could just as easily make free calls with Skype.
“I tell them go ahead and use Skype — I don’t even want to talk to you. This is for serious people interested in serious cryptography,” he said. “We are not Facebook. We are the opposite of Facebook.”
A large and growing number of people, including perhaps employees who don’t want their employers snooping at email or messages.
Asking students about their Facebook use leads to answers that are wildly unreliable:
Rebecca J. Rosen, Report: You Do Not Use Facebook Nearly as Much as You Think You Do
A new study reports (pdf) found that college students estimated that they spent 149 minutes *per day* on Facebook, but when monitoring software was installed on their computers, the data revealed a much smaller number: just 26 minutes.
Reynol Junco, a scholar with Harvard’s Berkman Center, says that the students in the study did have a pretty good sense of their relative Facebook use: Students who were heavier users estimated higher; those who were lighter users suggested as much. But ALL were wildly off when it came to the absolute estimate. (Though the number of students participating in the study was quite small — just 45 — Junco says the effect was so huge that the result is nevertheless reliable.)
Why were the students so off in their self-reports? Junco has four theories.
"It could be," Junco said to me, "that the self-report questions aren’t specific enough." The question students answered was "how much time do you spend on Facebook each day?" which seems pretty straightforward — except that that phrase "spend on" is actually a bit ambiguous. In focus groups after the study was complete, when Junco asked for their own theories about the results, "a lot of them — and this was very surprising — a lot of them said that they would take the question to mean how much time to do they spend *thinking* about Facebook," Junco explained. Spending time on something doesn’t just mean the act of being on Facebook, but the act of expending mental energy on it. That ambiguity may have led students to overestimate their time on the site.
Another explanation — one that Junco particularly likes, though he needs more research to support it — is that students might have internalized societal expectations about their social-media use. “Society tells youths that they use technology a lot. They hear it from everybody. They hear it from the popular media; they hear it from adults; they hear it from their teachers,” he said. “That would lead them, not very consciously but possibly subconsciously, to give very inflated estimates.”
The third possibility is that student might be using Facebook from mobile devices that the software used in the study doesn’t track, in which case the whole study might be wrong. This is my bet. The kids might be Facebooking on their mobiles half the time they are hanging around with pals.
And the fourth possibility is that they are just bad at estimating how much time they are doing something.
Danny Sullivan gets to the heart of Facebook’s Graph Search: it depends on how connected you are, and who you are connected to.
When I’ve watched Facebook show me demos of Facebook Graph Search, and do some of the example searches I’ve itemized above, it’s impressive. But it’s also impressive because it’s a person from Facebook who makes heavy use on Facebook to connect to things and who is in turn tapping into the knowledge of many other Facebookers who are similarly hyper-connected. They are not, in a word, normal.
Consider me. Not only have I not liked my electrician, my plumber, my dentist, my doctor or my tax person on Facebook but I don’t even know if they have Facebook pages. I have nothing to offer to my Facebook friends in this regard.
Similarly, despite the huge number of books I read through my Kindle, I never go to like those books on Facebook, so books I love are more or less invisible on Facebook.
Facebook itself understands this challenge, but it’s hoping the promise of what search can provide will help encourage people to build the connections they may lack now.
“There are now new reasons to make these connections. We’re hoping the existence of that will encourage it,” said Tom Stocky, director of product management at Facebook, who has worked closely on the Facebook search product. “But absolutely, early on, that [your degree of connectedness] will make the experience you have with this vary.”
There is a problem here. People are generally *not* motivated to do things now that could prove useful in the future only if everyone else does it too. Generally, people are motivated by immediate needs, like figuring out where to have lunch, today.
I like the weaker argument, that Facebook’s new search will make the Facebook experience slightly better — like allowing you to find all the pictures you’ve liked — instead of it becoming the social era replacement for Google search.