Social Web

Why do you use Twitter?

I just responded to a question on Inbound which I thought I’d share. I’ve been thinking about why I use Twitter for about as long as I’ve been using Twitter and I don’t have any real answers yet. That said, it’s a conversation worth having.

I use Twitter primarily for news and updates. I’ve done that pretty much since I joined Twitter in early 2007. It is still the best service for that. Facebook and other services seem to be a little too “heavy” when it comes to checking in for updates or developments I’m tracking. That Twitter is still relatively unfiltered, algorithmically speaking, means I can rely on it more than Facebook to give me a fairly uninterrupted perspective on what is going on in the world. Being close to a newsticker makes it pretty helpful for this stuff.

I don’t agree with using Twitter as a personal social network. It has always seemed like the digital equivalent of trying to have a private conversation in a crowded room. You just wind up shouting at each other while anyone and everyone listens in. I suppose DMs make this possible but none of my friends use DMs for personal chat. Twitter just doesn’t have that “personal chat thing” like WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger have. It also isn’t a particularly effective engagement tool either.

If Facebook could figure out how to give us chronological and unfiltered streams in a lightweight app interface, it could really give Twitter a run for its money. Facebook is heading in the opposite direction so that isn’t going to happen. I also think there is something to Joshua Topolsky’s article “The End of Twitter” but I don’t know what could replace it at this stage.

Applications Blogs and blogging

Options for sharing video outside YouTube and Vimeo

I uploaded a video as part of a short post earlier this week and I noticed that it didn’t display particularly well in the post. I could have shared to YouTube first and embedded the video but thought I’d see what a direct upload would do. Turns out, not much. 

Surely it is possible to embed videos like you can images and have them render as playable videos in blog posts? Doesn’t HTML 5 have a video tag that works in all the major browsers?

WordPress has its VideoPress player but it’s a paid feature. Shouldn’t this capability be more freely accessible? What are the options?

Mindsets People Social Web

Facebook + emigration = meaningful sharing with people who matter

I started posting more to Facebook when we moved to Israel about 2 weeks ago. Most of my posts were (and remain) intended for my friends and family so I share those posts just with them. That is why I haven’t blogged nearly as much about our move.

I resisted using Facebook for a long time, preferring Path by far but missing a critical ingredient: enough friends and family to make it worthwhile. My Google+ profile’s value hasn’t been as a way to share with friends and family (even though it can do that so well) so I keep returning to Facebook. Regardless of my reservations about Facebook, it is still the service all the people I want to share with are using.

I’ve been sharing my experiences in Israel as a new import on Facebook and it has become an awesome place to share with and keep connected to our friends and family. Sure, Facebook is probably mining my data to present ads to me but I don’t see that. What I do see are friends’ comments and likes and more interaction with people who are important to me.

I’m even having a ball with Messenger and stickers.

Another reason I’ve been enjoying Facebook lately is that some of the brands we use here are active on Facebook too. They use Facebook Messenger for customer support calls too. I’ve gotten more done using Messenger to talk to brands in the past 3-4 weeks that I did with other platforms for years.

It all comes down to sharing with people I want to share with using a couple simple lists and having good experiences doing that. It’s meaningful sharing and I’m enjoying it.

Applications Useful stuff

iOS 8 just made Flipboard much more useful to me

I haven’t used Flipboard all that much lately for one reason: the built in sharing options for articles I read and wanted to share have been too limited. Sure, you could share on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn but that involved a lot more time than using something like Buffer and Buffer enables me to share using different profiles on each service (for example, I have a Twitter profile for my business and my personal one – Flipboard only supports one profile on each service).

I realised this morning that Flipboard supports the new sharing options that comes with iOS 8 that connect with other apps installed on my devices, like Buffer. Other apps I use like Reeder and Feedly have supported a variety of sharing options for a while now so I’ve tended to use these feed readers as my primary news aggregation sources. Now, Flipboard has just become a lot more interesting for me and I’m pretty pleased about that!

Here is a quick guide to using those sharing options in 3 steps. Just bear in mind that the iOS sharing options leverage installed apps on your devices and you may need to activate the apps in the extended sharing menu.

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Mindsets Social Web

Our hyperconnected social Web can be a desperately lonely place

I think it is possible to be so connected online and be lonely at the same time. We connect to so many people, call so many people “friends” who probably aren’t. Although we have hundreds or thousands of “friends”, can we meaningfully share our intimate moments, fears and challenges when they could betray insecurities when we have to be seen to be courageous and confident to survive?

We have more and more ways to share our lives. How many of those channels really allow us to be authentically vulnerable and terrified by the challenges we face before we find the strength to persevere? This is one of the costs of the social Web we don’t quite realise yet because we are so caught up in connecting and “friending”.

Social Web

Should Path be less, not more?

Lauren Hockenson has a great article on GigaOm about the new Path releases titled “Once again, Path proves why it has been trendy but not trend-setting“. Here is a snippet:

The issue with Path is that it can’t resist hopping on a new social trend. The app takes cues from practically every other social media platform in the public consciousness, seen most explicitly in its decision to hop on the ephemeral trend pioneered by Snapchat. As a result, it’s hard to explain to anyone why they should use path or find cues about how to actually use the service. Even in its decision to “simplify” with Path Talk, the new app chock full of tons of features that kind-of but not-quite match up.

I had a similar discussion with Nathan Jeffery and Darren Smith on Twitter earlier and its a fair criticism:

I’m still thinking about the latest release so you can probably expect more from me on this (as usual).

Blogs and blogging Social Web

Blogging 2.0 – when your blog becomes your social hub

You may have gathered that I think about how we use social services like Facebook, Twitter and others quite a bit. You also probably know that I am a pretty big Path fan although it’s not clear whether Path has much of a future when it comes to the people who mean the most to me (Update 2016-02-18: Path seems to have largely fallen by the wayside for me and my friends who were previously big fans. Slack has become a great option in its place, which is pretty interesting).

I started thinking about blogs in a social context. Blogs like this one have become personal hubs where we share our ideas, passions and more. For many people, their blogs are their digital news feeds and identities but they aren’t nearly as optimised for personal sharing as dedicated social services like Facebook, Google+ or even Path. This is one of the reasons why many people use Facebook or Google+ as their personal blogging platforms. These services have pretty granular sharing options even though their users don’t have meaningful control over their “blogs”.

At the moment this WordPress blog enables me to share posts publicly (my default), password protect posts or keep them to myself with a private publication option. What if WordPress enabled me to share posts with limited groups of people that I define instead? What if people could register using a variety of social profiles and I could allocate those people to groups and when I publish blog posts, share selectively?

It may look a bit like BuddyPress although what I have in mind doesn’t necessarily involve creating a social network on your site but rather establishing your site as a node in a decentralised social network of connected sites.

That sort of model would probably look a lot like Google+ Circles but it would be my site which I directly control and can host. Imagine that becomes a wider practice and now you have a distributed social network constituting a network of blogs that link to each other, can be followed and participated in. WordPress would be an ideal platform. It already has a substantial network of users. Theoretically possible. The question is whether anyone would take advantage of the functionality?

Mindsets Policy issues Social Web

Why are we abdicating responsibility online?

Woodrow Wilson, One of Leakey’s Local Characters, in His Pickup. He Never Works, But Sits Staring at the River from 7 A.M until Sunset 06/1972

Last week’s European Court of Justice ruling that Google must remove search result listings that EU citizens require it to remove (subject to their requests passing a test the court proposed) touched on a trend I’ve become increasingly concerned about: our collective reluctance to take direct responsibility for what we share online and where we share it and our insistence that online services be held accountable for what we ultimately endorsed when we shared our data with them. We need to decide what world we live in. Do we live in a world where we are willing to take responsibility for our activities and make deliberate and empowered choices in the process or are we happy to surrender our autonomy to institutions and expect them to make decisions for us? We seem to be collectively opting for the second option and I wrote about this in my most recent column on titled “EU search results censorship is about our irresponsibility with data, not Google’s“. Here is a preview:

Last week’s European Court of Justice ruling that a Spanish citizen (and, by extension, all European Union citizens) could require Google to remove search results pointing to content about that person was not the “clear victory” for online privacy protection. Quite the opposite.

For the most part we rush to submit as much information about us as we can because we want to use these services without much thought about the implications for us down the line. Then, when we feel that our trust has been betrayed, we are outraged and the object of our frustration changes something and we fall back asleep. We find ourselves in this position where vast multinational companies have tremendous amounts of information about us because we gave it to them with our blessing, thanks even. Instead, perhaps we should consider whether handing over so much really serves us? Do we really need to disclose so much? Should we not insist on other ways to share that don’t leave us exposed?