We are not in Twitterville anymore, at least not how you remember it

Twitter is most definitely not what it used to be in a number of respects:

“These are the features that make Twitter Twitter,” Sippey wrote, referring to expanded tweets. For established Twitter users and developers, that statement is hard to swallow. For one thing, expanded tweets are a brand-new product that hasn’t been around long enough to have any impact whatsoever. More to the point, nearly all the features that make Twitter what it is today were invented by users dissatisfied with Twitter’s own user interface.


LinkedIn unfollows Twitter

I think tweets disappearing from LinkedIn streams is a good thing. It cleans up those streams quite a bit. David Graham has a few thoughts about this little breakup which are worth reading. David is a local LinkedIn guru so he is someone you should pay attention to if you rely on LinkedIn:

I wonder how many people around the world are hastily changing their social strategies in reaction to this announcement. While I understand the reasoning about the “severed” relationship, I do not appreciate how these decisions are made and carried out without any due consideration of the millions of users of these social networks (many of which are paying users).

Business and work Mindsets Social Web

When you are the troll


There are days when the filters between impulse to tweet and actually tweeting stuff take a break and I behave like a self-righteous ass. Today was one of those days. I was at Pick ‘n Pay Norwood where I am practically conditioned to be agitated and found myself in long queues with cranky kids and I started posting photos and tweets about the queues and lousy service. I was annoyed that I was standing in queues which seemed like they just weren’t moving (people were reading books while waiting) so I did what any person with a smartphone, access to a public medium and a sense of entitlement did: I posted two updates complaining about the store and the queues.


Pick ‘n Pay’s long suffering social media people responded almost immediately and didn’t express the tired frustration I must inspire and I received a call from a shift manager at the store (Duncan, I think) about an hour later who even apologised for the queues. If I were him I would be thinking that queues are really not unreasonable at lunchtime on a Saturday and yet he still apologised. By that time I realised that I bore a strong resemblance to the trolls we all try avoid and had deleted my tweets.

Today reminded me that Pick ‘n Pay’s management really are trying to improve service levels in their stores and the social media team is passing feedback along to the branches really quickly. They are also serious about engaging because they even engage whiners like me despite me sounding like an mp3 on repeat (I think the “broken record” analogy will be lost on most people these days). Second big lesson is this little one: just because you can tweet about something that pisses you off, doesn’t mean that you should. Tweeting about every niggle increases the amount of noise and reduces the likelihood that brands will pick up on and do something about the important signals. It’s basically a case of not seeing the signals for the noise.

Social Web Travel and places Useful stuff Web/Tech

Twitter comes to the rescue as @PigSpotter helps co-ordinate hijack rescue

Hijack rescue co-ordinated through Twitter

I saw this headline this morning in The Star (read the article on IOL):

An sms and social network frenzy saved a Joburg man who was trapped in his car boot after being hijacked at the weekend.

What a terrific story and a great ending for the poor guy who was hijacked. I disagree that Twitter is a truly useful social network for personal sharing but when it comes to social signalling, Twitter is possibly the best tool available. This story just demonstrates its effectiveness.

Blogs and blogging

Twitter conditioned me to write badly

(2) Twitter / HomeThe problem with using Twitter a lot is that I catch myself writing truncated sentences and leaving out words as if I still have to fit my thoughts into 140 characters. At least blogs, Facebook and Google+ let me compose complete thoughts. I know what the response to this is: Twitter’s constraints force users to be more focused and concise and that can lead to clearer writing. That is true too but the tendency is more towards shrtr wrds & mssng pronouns to squeeze a thought into 140 characters.

Brevity is fine at times but I like to be able to explore a thought in more detail or publish a post than runs to 160 characters and that reads like I am proficient in my chosen language.

Just ranting arbitrarily.

Business and work Mindsets

I wasn't seriously complaining but @MTNSouthAfrica still came through

I tweeted this fairly facetious complaint this morning more due to a silly mood than any real complaint about MTN’s data network coverage. Our DSL line was on the fritz, apparently due to some Internet Solutions maintenance work on its lines, so we switched to cellular data on our phones for our morning data fix. My house sits in an spot on the network and we can’t get decent 3G signal there. Some parts of the house have 3G, others have EDGE and others have almost nothing. I’m not sure if its the roof or just location.

Anyway, I tweeted what I tweeted, realising that network technology is probably just not at the point where it is cost effective to truly blanket everywhere with a fast data connection (still dreaming of the fictional and possible worldwide data communications skin that spans the globes with high speed connectivity and costs almost nothing). Generally I am happy with MTN’s network and where there is crappy signal, its usually not the end of the world (it would be great if the Drakensberg had more than minimal EDGE connectivity, though – we enjoy going there and still like to stay in touch).

MTN surprised me, again, with a message from an MTN representative asking if he can help resolve my connectivity issues. I explained that I was just being silly and it wasn’t anything for him to spend his time on. It was still really great that he took the time to get in touch.

Update: I just received a call from an MTN engineer who is going to look into reception at my house. What started out as a silly tweet and vaguely serious rant has turned into a very solid example of great service from MTN. Short of MTN shutting down one day, I am not moving to another network for the foreseeable future! These (crazy) people rock!

Mindsets Mobile Tech Social Web

From privacy to publicity and the #JugCam debate

The #JugCam debate is a minefield and its probably not a good idea for anyone other than a woman feminist to say or write anything about it. Any perspective other than a feminist one is sure to be as incorrect as any answer to the dreaded “Do I look fat in this?” question.

If you haven’t discovered the #JugCam meme yet, its pretty simple. The idea is to tweet photos of women in bikini tops at cricket matches in an effort to spice up the game a bit. I believe the person who came up with this idea is person tweeting as @followthebounce (almost certainly a guy). A couple guys responded to the idea with tweeted photos of women at cricket matches in bikini tops. One or two photos were of women who posed, a couple were women in the crowd and a number were screen grabs from the TV feed.

Fleabeke: I don't usually start argu ...

I went back a bit and as far as I can tell, the woman tweeting as @Fleabeke sounded a call to action against the #JugCam meme and declared her intention to fight it. A number of people (primarily women) joined the Twitter protest against the meme on the basis that it is illegal (I doubt it); exploits women; encourages photos of women’s breasts being published without their knowledge and consent and is downright sleazy. Intellectually I understand some of the arguments and where they come from. To me the arguments against #JugCam resonate a little with some of the ideas behind the Slut Walk movement (my favorite slogan is “Its a dress, not a yes”). I don’t really agree with the protest against #JugCam.

I am going to throw what I am certain will be an unpopular argument against the wall. As the Twitter debate evidences, we live in a time when we are increasingly online, socially connected and capable of publishing a dizzying amount of content on the Web for virtually anyone to see. This is not new. We’re had the ability to take photos with out phones and upload those images to the Web for several years now. As more people use more capable smart devices we will share even more of our daily experiences online. Often this sharing will be inappropriate and perhaps even malicious. For the most part people will just share stuff because they can. We are getting to a point where you can’t go anywhere without seeing smartphones or other devices being used to take photos, record video and publish that content to sites you have no control over.

When it comes to the #JugCam meme (which is an organized version of what guys have probably been doing at sports events for some time now), we have to start making decisions about how we behave in such a connected world. I know how this next bit sounds but I think it has to be said and really does have some merit as an argument: women who wear bikini tops at public sports events like cricket matches must be aware that their photos could be taken and uploaded for broader consumption. I’m not saying its ok for that to happen, it is a little creepy, but it happens. Arguing that people (ok, men) shouldn’t be allowed to do this in public spaces without express permission is a little disingenuous. If a woman is opposed to being photographed in a bikini top and having her photo published online then she should reconsider wearing a bikini top at these events. Women should also be free to express outrage at their photo being published and demand that it be removed but whether that actually happens will likely come down to a decision based on the rights to freedom of expression, dignity and privacy being weighed up. I suspect the legal position will be something along the following lines: women in public wearing bikini tops have no real legitimate expectation of privacy when they are in public and can’t complain if their photo is taken and published online, particularly where they are aware that this could (and does) occur.

@magependragon: Giggling at #JugCam outcry ...

As I mentioned at the beginning of my post, this debate is a minefield. It includes elements of historical gender-based discrimination and objectification. It touches on how men, generally, tend to treat women as means to satisfy their own desires without consideration for women’s feelings and sensibilities. It also touches on notional privacy issues and the idea that “its a dress, not a yes” (although there is no suggestion that taking photos of women in bikini tops and tweeting the photos is directly and necessarily linked to sexual assault). Another argument is that women should bear in mind that wearing a bikini at a public and televised cricket match can draw attention from smartphone toting guys who have an impulse control problem.

I think our privacy norms are changing and we are becoming accustomed to being a little more public. I also think the vocal feminists on Twitter are going a little too far with their protest. They’re entitled to oppose what they view as offensive but its practically fashionable to assume we don’t live in a world where people don’t always behave with utmost respect and where women (justifiably) dress as they please but in a fictional world where doing so doesn’t attract any unwelcome attention, whatever that may be (it still amazes me how men are expected to just know what is appropriate behaviour and what isn’t without being given much guidance and I’m not talking about obviously offensive comments, touching and assaults – those guidelines are pretty well established).

The Web and all its bits and pieces have changed how we live our lives and relate to each other. We have to start making more decisions about our publicity levels and act accordingly. Perhaps women who object to being photographed in bikini tops at cricket matches shouldn’t wear bikini tops at those matches. Perhaps people should be discouraged from taking the photos of bikini clad women in the first place so women feel more comfortable wearing less at these matches for whatever reason. Or perhaps we should reassess our norms when it comes to our privacy expectations and publich sharing on the Web.

Social Web

Do you Twitter?

For those of you who don’t know, Twitter is a web application that is intended to answer a question: What are you doing now? The way Twitter works is that users post updates on what they are doing from time to time. Those updates are limited to roughly the length of a single sms (about 160 characters) and could be something like “At the conference watching Joe Bloggs speaking about Twitter”. Other users who have added you as a friend become your followers and they receive your posts pretty much as you post them.

There are a number of ways you can do this. For starters you can add posts on the Twitter site itself using the post box at the top of your screen when you have signed in.

You can also post to Twitter by IM and even by SMS although if you are posting from South Africa on your mobile phone you will be posting to a number in the UK so watch out for the SMS charges! Of course yet another way you can Twitter is through a desktop application you can install on your computer. I have installed Twitterrific which is a desktop client for the Mac and which shows me updates as and when new posts come in and which also enables me to post new items to Twitter.

As Scott Jangro points out in his post titled “Why I Hate Twitter“, because Twitter is being used for big announcements and day to day small stuff, it can become an addictive service where someone will post something and you will respond and eventually get caught up in a virtual IM (instant message) session over Twitter. That being said, Twitter is being adopted by politicians in the US Presidential election process (John Edwards has a Twitter account), by A-list bloggers to talk about what they are up to as well as the rest of us.

If you would like to track my Twitter feed you can check out the sidebar widget I added to Wired Gecko. It is a really handy way to see what someone is up to if you don’t have a Twitter account. I am unsure how valuable the service will be over time. I suppose one big question is whether Twitter is just a fad or a trend that is due to continue. A similar feature exists on Facebook at the moment where you can add status messages. That feature’s reach is limited to Facebook itself but there it is. Do you use Twitter? What are your experiences and thoughts?

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