Category: www

Its sad how political debate on the Internet has devolved with the rise of social media over the years. There is absolutely no worse offender than Facebook. Facebook has a major sharing crisis. People are posting less and less content. Content is what ultimately drives people to social networks.

To combat the trend of declining sharing, Facebook has implemented a number of mechansims. The first one was the website embdeded share button, which made it easy for people to post content from external sites. The second was the “like button,” which is basically one click sharing. Then Facebook introduced the ability to re-share content from your feed, making easy for posted content to go viral.

All of these advances have made it very easy for people to share information. So what’s the problem?

The ability to easily share other people’s content on social networks has led to a decline of political debate on the Internet. When is the last time you saw someone post something political on Facebook that was original content? People are no longing expressing their own thoughts and views, instead they are simply reposting cookie cutter content that is designed to be eye catching, but rarely ever does it actually inform.

Contrast today’s state of deterioration with the “old days” of blogging. The vast majority of content posted on blogs was original content. Sure, people reposted pictures and linked to other websites, but it usually included original content that built upon the parent post. The length of that content went far beyond 140 characters or an awkward picture with a catchy headline.

The real tragedy in this onslaught of unoriginal content is that good information is being drowned in a sea of “shares,” “likes,” and “retweets,” by people have never written a single original thought online. Its no longer about crafting a clever argument, its simply about re-sharing as much crap as possible.

Dislike

The ability to moderate comments and user created content on a website is not a new technology. Slashdot has had comment moderation for over a decade. As the ability to vote on user generated content has grown more popular, so too has the inability to vote down or “dislike.”

The most common example is Facebook, which introduced a “like” button, which was really just a ripoff from Friendfeed. While Facebook is the most widely known case, I find the lack of moderating down comments on Yelp even more annoying.

On Yelp people will write reviews that are completely idiotic. A negative review because the restaurant was busy, or because the weather was bad, or because it was a chain. Yelp only gives people the ability to “compliment” a review, so moronic reviews never get put in their place.

Has our society become so insecure, that we cannot take honest feedback when it comes to our online contributions? Does every child get a medal? Life is a two-way street; online moderation should be the same way.

How dependent is your organization on one datacenter? That’s a good question to ask before a disaster strikes. It amazes me how many organizations do not take site redundancy seriously. Last week, several unrelated high profile datacenter incidents brought many organizations to their knees.

Several marquee names had issues. Many organizations assume that because they are with a well known provider, that they wont have issues. Its like buying a BMW and thinking there is no chance you will have a car accident. I’ve also witnessed organizations who think they are immune because they have their own datacenter. That’s about as logical as building your own car and thinking there is no chance of an accident.

If your organization’s primary datacenter burned down tomorrow, how would business be affected? How long would it take restore the same level of service? Are your critical services site redundant? These are the kinds of questions that should be addressed before disaster strikes.

Disaster recovery was a hot topic after 9-11, but its faded away over the past few years. Its much sexier to talk about virtualization and cloud computing, both of which are not immune from non-redundant datacenters.

Having hosted and developed websites for over a decade now, it was always funny sifting through the logs in the early days. When the Internet first became popular to consumers, pornography accounted a for a huge portion of search engine traffic. 90% of my search engine hits in the mid-90’s were people looking for porn (must be my last name). In fact, it was so bad back in the day, that the number one SEO move was to put porn keywords in your META tags.

A few years ago, I heard about a pornographic Youtube clone called “Youporn” in a Techcrunch article. Out of curiosity, I looked up Youporn on Google trends and compared it to Web 2.0 darlings Twitter, Flickr, Yelp, and Digg. Here are the shocking results:
Youporn Google Trends

While there is a ton of buzz about Twitter, Youporn is insanely popular, yet its barley mentioned in the press. There are 37 news articles that mention “Youporn,” compared to 75,000 for Twitter. Yet, if you look at the trend results, the Youporn keyword is TWO TIMES more popular than Twitter.

While the results are shocking, Youtube is still far and away the king.

Since Lance Armstrong’s comeback started earlier this year, he has embraced Twitter, blogging, and video blogging as means to communicate and interact with fans. A few weeks in to the Giro, Lance Armstrong stopped speaking with media, after the Italian press tried to vilify him because riders staged a protest on really dangerous course. This protest happened a day after a rider nearly died in a horrific crash.

Lance decided to cut out the middleman, and embrace new media as a means to disseminate information. Naturally, the mainstream media was not happy with the embargo. The major mainstream media outlets have a centuries old tradition of getting their asses kissed by those being covered. A New York Times writer published a snarky rebuke of Lance’s boycott yesterday. Quite ironically, it was in a New York Times “blog.”

Cycling is a sport that is poorly covered in the United States, so its easy to see why Lance would consider the press to be unnecessary. The New York Times sent Juliet Macur to cover the Giro. While Macur might be a gifted writer, she knows very little about cycling. Is it necessary for sports figures to embrace the media anymore?

Personally, I find Lance’s twitter feed and video blogs to be really interesting. Much more interesting than a lengthy media profile done by a journalist. There is certainly a need for good journalism, especially when it comes to controversial issues like performance enhancers. However; journalists need to accept twitter, and the fact that direct communication via the Internet is here to stay. Long gone are the days where major media outlets were the only method of disseminating information to the public.

The growth of social networking over the last decade has been staggering. Social networking on the Internet is not new, but Facebook has become the Google of social networking sites. Friendster started the trend. Orkut was interesting for 3 months, and Myspace grew exponentially, only to turn in to a e-trailer park.

There are so many use cases for Facebook, because its really a combination of a variety of existing Internet sites in one portal. Whether you want to keep up with family, close friends, co-workers, old classmates, or distant relatives Facebook is the Swiss army knife of social networking.

Once people “see the light” with social networking, they instantly start evangelizing. Its really interesting to hear people’s excuses for not joining Facebook. “Why do I need to join Facebook?” “I don’t care what Ed is having for lunch.” “I talk to all the people I want to via phone and e-mail.” “I find it nosy!” “I can’t control it!”

You can either join the social networking party, or look like luddite. In a few years, people who don’t use social networking will look as obsolete as people who don’t use e-mail. You can resist it all you want, but its only a matter of time.

Social networking is not a necessary technology. By its nature, technology is inherently unnecessary. Human beings only need food, water, and basic shelter, everything else is unnecessary.

GPS? Computers? Ipods? Cell phones? TV? Radio? Air conditioning? Automobiles? Trains? Deodorant? Horses? Electricity? Plumbing? Clothing? Fire?

There is not much in life that is truly necessary. So they next time you’re looking to justify not using a new technology, find a better excuse.