Saturday, December 31, 2011

House Cleaning at the 3rd Place

It's the last day of 2011 and I'm doing some house cleaning at the various places I hang out on the web. I'm looking through the folks I follow and eliminating some that just aren't all that productive. I started at following 125 Twitter accounts at 11 h 16 m to go to 2012 here in Sacramento. I'm trying to evaluate them by volume and benefit that I have gained through following them. I should point out that I follow Twitter accounts for work, news, and knowledge. I use other 3rd places to link with friends and family. at 11h 0m to go to 2012 I am following 95 Twitter accounts. Most are related to things I'm doing at work, news, or interests at home.

I have 72 followers. I'm uncertain why most of them follow me, but I suspect many of them do so to get me to follow them and buy some product or service. At 10h 47m to 2012, it's not exactly working. I am following fewer than 10% of the people who follow me. Mostly for the same reason that they follow me -- I don't want to know about their product or service.

On to Facebook . . . Not much to change here. Not exactly rolling in friends, and am following only a small number of pages. Made a small change to my user name.

. . . 10h 36m to go and on to Google+. This one was new this year and I'm still evaluating it as a place to hang out (pun intended for one of their features . . . one I haven't tried yet). No changes here, so I'm moving to the oldest blog I have on the website. For a while now, I have been revisiting, rewriting and removing some of the blogs I wrote over the years. Today, I'm looking more at removing than anything else.

. . . 10h 3m to go and I'm done visiting my 3rd places and tidying up for the year. From my places to your places, a blessed and prosperous new year to all the world.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Wolfram Alpha

If you like to know stuff, you need to try Wolfram/Alpha. Here's a widget to try:

I'm just now trying out this beta widget for fun. If it doesn't work, try the link to the site. It's interesting.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Monetizing Social Media

I have followers who are obviously only following me in the hopes that I will follow them and then buy their product or service. They are using social media just to get people to buy their stuff. Others try to monetize social media by placing advertising on their content.Hopefully they have some content worth monetizing. I just read an article stating that some of the social media IPO's are down as much as 30-40% over their initial prices. The markets are, obviously, unsure of the profit potential of social media.

I find that promoted posts appearing in my stream irritate me much the same as SPAM does in e-mail. Only, this time, I can't avoid them by routing them to a SPAM folder. They are there for me to read -- like I'm really interested in the black friday specials from . . . or the weekly sales from . . . or getting my . . . adjusted. Nope, I'm not. We'll see how social media is monitized in the future as platforms like Facebook are utilized by more and more commercial enterprises.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Finding Friends -- Does it HAVE to be this Hard?

I don't have a lot of friends on Facebook. In fact, my kids laugh at me. But I tried to find a couple of people today and it was difficult. You can put their names into the search box, but, unless they have an extremely rare name, you get hundreds of returns and can't filter them by any other criteria. You can "Find Friends" and enter all sorts of criteria, except the most important one, their NAME. Hey Facebook. How about combining the two in to something really useful?

Sunday, November 6, 2011

You shouldn't do everything just because it's available . . . (paraphrase from Louis CK on Conan)
I saw this and thought, "yeah, he's right" Louis hates Twitter. He has an account just so he can tell everyone how much, it seems. He's right about the fact that you shouldn't do everything just because it's available. The idea is to experience life. But it seems that more and more, recording life is experiencing life. Turn off your device and live.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Sharpton on MSNBC

Al Sharpton is hosting the 6PM slot on MSNBC. I heard an interview on NPR with a black journalist in which the premise was, "why Sharpton and not a black journalist?". Although the discussion went on for about five minutes, the answer was given in the first minute of the piece. Ratings were up 18% during Rev. Sharpton's trial period in the slot. And ratings -- read "profit" -- are the name of the game, not good news reporting and analysis. It's the same reason we see people buying wedding dresses -- people watch it. You can dress it up all you want, but ratings are the name-of-the-game in broadcasting because profits are the name-of-the-game in business and broadcasters are profit-driven enterprises.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Social Media Fatigue

Are you suffering from social media fatigue? Take a look at this article.

But what bothered him most was how the site seemed to suck up all his time. Without even thinking about it, he caught himself automatically checking Facebook on his phone while sitting at the bus stop.
It seems that this could be a major issue for some people. The emphasis seems to be on followers or friends -- quantity over quality. But how do you deal with all the stuff that comes from thousands of these? People collectively spend 700-billion minutes per month on Facebook according to the company. That's a little hard to believe. For the 6-billion inhabitants of the planet, that would mean each one spends 116 minutes per month on Facebook. And, consider the number of people on the planet who don't have access to the Internet and of those who do, how many don't have access to the Facebook site(s).

One site estimates that there are 2.1-billion internet users in the world (March, 2011). That raises the time to 350 minutes/month. If these users sleep eight hours per day, then in the average month, the users spend 1.2% of their time on Facebook. And, of course, not every one of the 2.1 billion inhabitants of the planet with Internet access are Facebook members.

Facebook says they have 700-million active members. That means that these users spend 1,000 minutes/month on average on Facebook. That's 3.5% of their waking hours on Facebook. That may be more time that some of them spend with their kids. (We could get into all sorts of analysis of how many have kids, but you get the idea, it's a lot of time.)

And many of us are on other social media sites -- Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, etc. How do you keep up with it all. Or maybe the better question is, DO you keep up with it all?

I mean if you follow thousands of people on a service, how do you keep up with the torrents of stuff that comes your way? I suspect that many of us start to treat social media like much of the other media to which we are constantly exposed. It washes over us, but we don't pay it much attention. It is just there, competing for our attention, but not really noticed consciously. We become numb to it.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

The Berlin Wall

The road where the museum is located was divided in two on August 13, 1961, and some 2,000 east German residents were expelled from their houses to allow the communist authorities to secure the new border.
[source] I was there. My dad was stationed in Ulm, Germany, at the time. We had to have bags packed and be ready to leave with 24 hours notice. That was 50 years ago. Things have sure changed in that time. Here I am writing something that is potentially read by people around the world. The dividing line between cultures is being defined by electronic walls and social media is spurring further change. The wall was up for 28 years. It's mind-boggling to think what the world will be like 28 years from now.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Social Media Newbies

I'm convinced that the only people who follow me on Twitter are people who want my business. OK, there may be a few others like family or friends, but not many. You can tell the newbies. You get a notice they are following you and you wonder why. So you bop on over to their page, take a look around . . . and you still wonder why.

OK, they grabbed everyone in a geographic area or who even remotely did something related to their business or is male, or . . . The idea seems to follow me so I will blindly follow them, see their tweets about their product or service and be tempted to buy their product or service.

Well, here are a couple of tips for anyone doing this . . .

  1. Don't assume that I will follow you just because you follow me.
    Quantity is not my motive. I really don't care how many followers I have or how many people I follow. I'm more interested in following people who have something to say that I am interested in.
  2. If you do want to get me to follow you, say something I'm interested in.
    No, your next sale isn't interesting to me, but maybe something about what you do IS.
After all, it's social media, not sales media. You will get my interest by having something interesting to say--by telling me something helpful that I don't need to buy to know. By doing that, you are showing me your expertise and peaking my interest in the area you are selling into. Maybe even eventually getting my business.

Which, after all, is your sole reason for following me in the first place . . .

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Google+ The New Facebook

I made the mistake of starting an update on one of the laptops and now, I'm waiting for that to complete, so I thought I'd dump some thoughts . . . I was invited to Google+ and have joined. It's yet another place where I am on the web. Not enough members yet to actually become a regular third place, but someplace where information can be shared. To me, it's a lot like Facebook. The only thing that I see as an advantage is the ability to post only to a particular circle. This allows you to say something to just your family, say, rather than the whole world. We'll see if there will be enough people signing up for the service to make this feature worth it.

Friday, July 29, 2011

What causes you to post?

I have written about this before, but what causes you to post something on social media? I know some people constantly post things about where they are and what they are doing. They take pictures of friends and family and even strangers and put them on line with witty comments. They check in while going to the grocery, the gym and maybe even the restroom. No, it's not those types of posts I'm thinking about. It's the type of posts where you express an opinion, talk about something in the news and the like.

This week, it appears that the debt limit crisis and the inaction of the idiots (politicians) in the zoo (Washington D.C.) which has caused several posts on my blogs. I think my blogging depends on what is happening and where I am. I happen to be spending some time at the computer at the moment and find that, as I read news about the inaction on this subject, I find it easy to put things down (or rather up on the web).

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Taxes - Internet sales, that is

Taxes, we all pay them. It it said that "death and . . . " are the only sure things in life. But this time, we are talking about sales taxes on Internet purchases. For the most part, we don't pay them. When you buy that book, the money for your purchase goes to the location of Amazon or Barnes and Noble, say, but the taxes that would be charged if you bought the same book from a brick-and-mortar store, say your local Barnes and Noble bookstore don't come back into the community. Your local community looses. All the services supported by local sales taxes looses and maybe one of your neighbors loose their jobs, too. I'm not really for increased taxes, but I do want those services, so I'm in favor of paying state sales taxes on online purchases as long as those taxes come back into my local community to help support the programs I want.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Expanding Places - Google+

I'm in another place -- Google+. You gotta love it. More places than things to say. Today, I'm putzing around with a Google Chrome add in which will allow me to post to both at once. One feature of Google+ that I like is the ability to limit posts to a particular "circle". There are things that I want to share with my family or close friends that I don't want the world to see. Pretty nifty if it works as advertised. How many places are you?

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Cell Phones, the new computer?

Yesterday, two of my kids upgraded their cell phones to new models. One got an android phone and with it, had to pay the extra for the upgraded monthly service. This got me to thinking that the cell phone is the new computer for these kids' generation. Their connection to the outside world is through the cell phone and not really the phone part. Do you notice that they actually never make phone calls? Their communication is through the texting and services like Facebook and Twitter. I have a work cell phone only and find that I use it frequently to connect with the outside world. I think that the cell phone will continue to be the device which is most used by generations.

The tablet, you say? Well for those with 4G plans, it's really just a big cell phone. The only difference is that the phone part has been removed. I know for my kids, except for calls from their parents, the phone part could be removed from their devices and they wouldn't even miss it.

Perhaps we should rename the cell phone? After all the phone is so infrequently used that it is becoming less and less relevant. Perhaps we should call them slates, mini-tabs, or cell thumbs since kids use their thumbs for texting so frequently that there's even a new condition named after the carpal tunnel like pains that sometimes occur due to frequent use.

Either way, they are a third place which has to be considered in the design of websites and services in today's world.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Ruthless - without Ruth

For some reason, I got to thinking about the word "ruthless". I reasoned that "less" meant without, so the word meant "without ruth". Now my mother's name was Ruth, so I thought that was interesting. I went to my friend and looked up the word "ruth" (you can do the same here) and I found out that it means "pity or compassion". It's a good description of my mother who had both.

By the way, the slang definition of "ruth" is a women's bathroom, but I think without a women's bathroom is a pretty lame definition of "ruthless".

Saturday, June 11, 2011

More like a mobile home than a mansion . . .

Does your third place move? Do you find yourself spending more time in one place than another which shifts over time?

I find the place where I spend much of my time on the web changes with time. I get interested in one place and they find that the action is better at another place. Then, I find myself spending more time there. Services like Twitter and Facebook let you link your places, but I find myself spending more time in on than the other (e.g. checking posts, etc.). It's sort of like owning a Recreational Vehicle and picking up every so often to move to a new park. The basics remain the same, but the scenery changes.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Reviewing old Thoughts

I have maintained a blog on for a number of years. I'm going through old blogs to either remove them or add my thoughts for them today. You can find them here and probably see some of them on my Twitter that I feel are worth the comment.

I'm doing this because I think that my thoughts and the environment change over time and, perhaps things that I thought and said in past years just don't apply to today's world -- or maybe they do, bummer!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

The Rapture - May 21, 2011

The Rapture is due to start today. My wife tells me the news said around 6:00 PM. But 6:00 PM where? Here in the U.S. most time references on the TV are for Eastern Time. Even if something is happening on the west coast (3 time zones away), they state the time in ED/ST. I suspect this is because people on the East Coast can't make the translation, but I can't prove it. Anyway, it seems a bit strange that God would be tied to a timezone. Unless maybe he is spending his summer in the Bahamas, Hawaii or some other exotic locale.

By the way, as I write this it's already 11:20 PM in Hong Kong and I haven't heard that they have ceased to exist.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Something's Wrong and Blogger's Back

I wasn't really sure where to put this as I wanted to comment about Blogger being back -- obvious since I'm writing this on Blogger -- and make a comment about something I just saw. A photograph just sold for over $3-million dollars (source). A photograph . . . imagine what good you can do with that type of money . . . how many people you can feed, clothe, house . . . and someone paid that amount for a picture. What's wrong with this picture?

By the way, I decided to put this here because the fact that I'm just blogging about it and not shouting in the front yard at the top of my lungs is indicative of the times we are in.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

How do you keep up?

I know that people are all over the place on social media. I'm on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, as well as several blogs and my own site. And this doesn't count the number of sites that I follow. Just reading Twitter and news feeds takes time to keep up. So how do you do it?

Perhaps the more pertinent question is

It is worth it to do all this?
Sometimes I wonder. I have continuous contact in my work life and in my home life and I wonder, sometimes, if that really makes work-life balance. I feel pressure on both sides to make these things interesting and to keep up with all the things which are going on. Unfortunately, I don't have a staff of hundreds to keep up. There are just three of us -- me, myself and I -- and sometimes, it seems overwhelming.

So how do you do it?

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Facebook . . . OK, I'm there . . .

I finally broke down and joined Facebook. Not because I wanted to share something, but because others are using it to share things that I want to see. It's frustrating that I have to sign up, but, it is apparently the reality of the information landscape today. I give up . . .

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Coverage in a Time of Conflict

I was listening to developments in Libya, I heard coverage of Qaddafi's comments about the no fly zone enforcement being "terrorism". It struck me as incongruous that we are seeing the conflict from both sides. Today, conflicts are carried out in the media, including the Internet, as much as on the ground. But coverage on the Internet is international and seen from both sides. So as much as it might encourage one side, it convinces the other that there point-of-view is spot on.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Why do you follow (friend, favorite, . . . ) me?

Although we all tend to think that the words we commit to our blogs are golden, I have been wondering why people follow those of us who are not the opinion leaders in a particular topic. I have done some looking and found that, generally, these are people who are hoping I will follow THEM in the hopes of selling me something.

I suspect that they search for tags, keywords which relate to the product/service they are pushing and friend/follow a user in the hope that they will, in turn, follow them and purchase their goods and services. Oh well, there goes what little hope I had that someone actually cared what I think!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Celebrities as News?

On NPR recently, they had an entire piece on Charlie Sheen's meltdown. Why is this news? Is every news outlet becoming a tabloid newspaper in the search for profits, even non-profit organizations like NPR? OK, I can see some value in this story. After all, he is the star of the most popular sit-com on US television and that property means scads of cash for the company which produces it and the network that airs it, not to mention the other places where it is in syndication. So, maybe that part part belongs on the business page detailing how these organizations are loosing (making?) money from Charlie's antics. But do I really have to sit an listen to a 4-5 minute piece on NPR like it was on the same level as the activity in the Arab world? Of course not, I can change radio stations or choose another form of news like podcasts or such. I am really tired of the cult of celebrities which the world seems to have fallen into where people make news just because they are rich or famous or something . . . Come on world, more about what really matters and less about the rich and famous.

OK, now I'll stop mentioning celebrities just because . . .

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Become a Better Reader

Take a look at this article. The write makes some good points about reading things on the web. I think the best is the first:

Don't take things at Face Value
Even if the article was written by an unquestioned expert take the time to question it. The author says

. . . every article ever written has something in common: they were all written by a person, and as much as we’d all like to be perfect, sometimes we get things wrong.
Yep, and sometimes the writer has some sort of motive. Whether it's to get you to vote a particular way or to buy something or even to continue reading to support the advertising on the site. Be cautious and take note of that nagging little voice in your head.

Question, try, comment, and participate to get the best out of an article. Mull it over, just because it appears on the web doesn't mean that it is gospel.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

I'm not on Facebook

I have said it before in posts on this and other blogs. But, yesterday, one of the impacts of this statement was brought home to me by my teenage daughter. She said she did not receive an invitation to a party because she was not on Facebook. The implication among her peer group is that everyone is on Facebook.  She isn't. We see no reason for her to go there an share the personal details of her life with the world and, perhaps, cause other harm by posting things that shouldn't be there. By we, I mean her parents and my daughter.

But this is one of the consequences of this decision. The question becomes, should it be a consequence? Should I be forced onto some social media platform in order to be included in the group? What is our society becoming that we can't communicate except by friending someone on a particular platform. Sure, it's a great deal for advertisers and others who make money off the platform, but is it such a great deal for the society as a whole?

I, personally, think that the more direct contact methods, e-mail, text, phone, even physical mail are preferable for this sort of thing. Heck, the user could even send and e-vite that comes to a person's e-mail, thus not forcing them to join a social media platform just to be part of the group.

Maybe we should form our own group . . . the "Don't force me to join" group . . . or maybe UNgroup.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Linked to People

I have said before that I'm not on FaceBook for various reasons, but I am on LinkedIn and I see that litte statistic that the 82 links result in 533,638+ connections to other professionals. Now that's a pretty interesting statistic, but it's like a lot of statistics in my life when it results in a so what reaction. It's not like I'm going to invite all those people over to dinner.