Discussing News on Facebook

Discussing News on Facebook is not as interesting as it is on Google Plus. On Facebook publishers and friends tend to share and promote clickbait rather than articles that they have actively looked for and read. Google+ in contrast is a place where people surf the web reading news stories and when they find a good one, link to and share it. For this reason I go to Google+ for news and current affairs if I go to a news aggregator rather than Facebook.

The technical change this time around is that Facebook will favor links shared by your friends and family over links that publishers place directly into the News Feed through their pages. source

The language used is interesting, “favor links shared by your friends and family”, there is no mention of original content, there is no mention of photographs. The focus is on news curation rather than personal content. The unique selling point of facebook is not that we share links but that we are a community of friends and family. If we share news and current affairs then there are dozens of alternatives.

It has two priorities, Mosseri says: to inform and to entertain. Source

When I look at a news feed and when I read headlines I want to be informed and educated. Entertainment is not key for my news consumption habit. I do not want to be told how to feel or how it will change my life. After years of Facebook use I see the social network as superficial. It failed to encourage the right user behaviour.

In many cases, their feeds have been overrun by posts from pages and publishers they follow, some of which post as often as 200 times a day. They may click on and like those posts, but ultimately they don’t want posts from their friends crowded out by all that professionally produced content. Source

That I am blogging about these articles rather than simply sharing them to Facebook shows that the sense of community that helped Facebook grow and thrive over the years has been undone by years of prioritising the wrong content. That decline started with farmville a few years ago and culminated a few weeks ago with me reverting to this blog.

I took a break from writing this post to look at how many personal posts I could see and the answer is very few. Facebook has already damaged the personal relationship that people have with it. People now use it passively, liking and sharing links rather than conversing.

Facebook is no longer the conversational social network that it once was. People have lost the habit of conversing with their friends and Facebook is doing what it can to re-engage an audience that has already found other distractions. With a hot story like BREXIT you can be certain that I wanted to discuss it. Google+ has been an interesting place for these conversations.


Social Media and The Human Return on Investment

Social Media and the Human Return on Investment, because contrary to popular belief we use social networks to socialise, not to shop.

As we grow older and more mature our close network of friends changes and evolves. We go from school friends to university friends and then to professional friends. In the process we move from a village to another village, from a town to another town and eventually from one city to another. In the process the links we have with some friends strengthen and others degrade over time. This is modern life.

I find it hard to discern whether the return on time invested on social networks like Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and others is decreasing because people’s understanding of these social networks is shifting or whether it is related to growing up. As the people I know get married and have children their priorities change and privacy becomes more important. We have to keep the children safe.

Facebook, as a social network is less engaging than it used to be. The people I have as friends post less frequently, the events we can participate in together is shifting and the content shown in timelines is evolving. To compensate for the decline in friends engaging in social networks like twitter and Facebook people are following publications, brands and news sources. This flow of information is tailored to the lowest common denominator. The sensationalist writing style discourages me from following these sources of information.

I have a concern that what were social networks until two or three years ago have become advertising networks on which people occasionally socialise and interact with other individuals. I feel that a bigger and bigger portion of the time that people spend on advertising networks is looking at mainstream content and comments. On Facebook as I scroll down the timeline I notice an increasing number of adverts. Personal posts are less and less frequent. Has the community left this “social” network?

I have spent years thinking about online communities and how they interact. During this time I have seen the ebb and flow from one type of community to another across multiple platforms and applications. Within the next two to five years social networks will be virtual reality environments such as we saw with World of Warcraft, Everquest and Second Life. The question is whether people will want to socialise in virtual reality or whether it will be populated by gamers.

Every online social network is stigmatised. This stigmatisation prevents people from fully exploiting the potential of social networks. We see this stigma through the use of dating apps rather than Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and other social networks. Dating apps are stigmatised but at least you swipe left or right and you’re done. ;-). You’re only “active” for a few seconds at a time. On Facebook and twitter you need to be active for hours, days, weeks or even months… You have to be careful. You may be stigmatised. 😉

Now that most people see social networks as a waste of time it gives us more time to do other things. It gives us time to read, to do research, to watch television and even to go two or three hours without looking at a mobile or computer screen. Imagine that. 😉

I believe that on the one hand the stigmatisation of Social networks as a waste of time has discouraged people from using them to their full potential. As a result of this people feel comfortable spending ten to fifteen minutes a day on these networks. On the other hand I see marketers, public relations specialists and advertisers push for their campaign to be seen. As peer to peer communication goes down and human return on investment (ROI) decreases, and as marketing campaigns take over the timelines they are effectively closing the door on people’s motivation to spend time reading through their timeline.


Vanity fair is wrong to label Zuck as the top disruptor

Zuckerberg Tops Vanity Fair’s 2015 List of Disruptors

Every successful social network first establishes a friendship network where a tight knit group of people interact with each other on a very frequent basis. In the case of facebook it was uni friends interacting with uni friends from the same campus. On twitter it was people in the same time zone conversing with people in the same city as themselves. It eventually led to face to face meetings and a new network of recognised friends.

The same can be said of Seesmic when it was about “Join the Video conversation”. Notice my avatar… It’s the seesmic racoon. 🙂

Zuck wasn’t a disruptor or genius so much as the right person in the right place at the right time. Nothing he did was innovative. He just packaged it effectively.

As a side note I have noticed that over a number of years the social aspect of twitter has suffered. It no longer feels like a social social network. it feels more like Google Reader.

it’s amusing to see how social networks evolve and revolve from one type of network to another depending on what people want-

Mark Zuckerberg Tops the 2015 New Establishment List—and Snags the October Cover!

I remember when there were dozens of RSS aggregators for the sharing and distribution of blog articles. Over time traditional sources used the same technology. Google Reader and Google News became good sources for getting news stories and information. Facebook and twitter, social networks, decided that conversations were a waste of time and so encouraged their networks to be used as news aggregators. Recently Facebook reached the billion user daily mark.

Amusingly this happened when the social network is at it’s weakest. It’s Unique Selling Point, connecting friends, has been lost. I went back to blogging because I grew tired of the rubbish being shared on twitter, facebook and other social networks.

For years I insisted that social networks were a great way of meeting new friends and finding new business opportunities but as everyone overdid it with followers so the conversation and personal connections decreased.

In the article they state that “Facebook chairman and C.E.O.Mark Zuckerberg has struck deals with The New York Timesand BuzzFeed to publish articles directly into users’ pages.”

I don’t go to facebook for news. I use the NYtimes app, I use Google News, I use news360, scoopinion and other applications. I use the applications because I found the condescending and sensationalist tone used by facebook marketers was offensive. We are a generation of university graduates on a university social network being treated as if we were primary school students. I don’t appreciate it.

I also don’t appreciate the multiple posting of the same articles and tweets in timelines both on twitter and facebook. In theory twitter is an app that you keep open and monitor throughout the day. If something has to be posted several times then congrats on having such a disengaged audience. ;-).

The Facebook and Friendfeed lifestye

Facebook and friendfeed are now the same thing. They both provide exactly the same thing but for different audiences. Facebook is a network of real friends, where you share everything with those that count on you as a friend. That’s where you get party pictures, relationship statuses and more. Friendfeed is where you go to get world news, current affairs and industry information from people you have yet to meet.

Both of them now allow you to filter your information by groups or lists. I for one have two twitter lists in Facebook, twitter friends I’ve already met and had a good time with, and a second twitter stream where it’s twitter friends I have yet to meet. That’s where I can follow those of you whom I have unfollowed on the real twitter, for lack of proper interaction.

On friendfeed I have a twitter stream as well, but this is raw, I can still react to your twitter stream by selecting to comment straight into the twitter stream or by proxy through comments in friendfeed. In part this evolves according to how willing you are to adopt the friendfeed lifestyle.

I’ve been thinking of friendfeed and how friends in news could use it. I spent four hours at work, off the clock, chatting with someone that works in news, but doesn’t use google reader and speaking about how we, as individuals filter our news. Everyone does it, but most people are happy jumping from one site to another to get the information. The website that person looked at does have RSS feeds which could be aggregated into google reader and feedly.

That’s an important advantage. It means that when you’re off work, in between shifts you can still get all the news coming to you, but without using the professional systems. It means that you shape the information flow, as well as it’s speed. The more sources you add to your reader, the faster information comes in and overwhelms you, if the right filters are not in place.

Look at the social media landscape now and it’s not that busy if you’re looking for hard news but that will change as people grow more accustomed to the way the current social media types use it.

We need to shift away from the social media types to the lifestylers. I use this term to describe everyone that uses the social media, not as a promotional tool for their activities and their blog posts, but instead for the content created by others with society at large as a source of information gatherers and sharers.

How would friendfeed look if the film and television industry used it. How much more conversational would the WEF Davos room on friendfeed have been if those participating in the conference conversed here, as much as at the events. A lot of conversation is invisible because those who talk about it do so with those in the industry. What if part of that discourse came online?

Look at the BBC website for example, and how it provides three top stories today, Madagascar and the new president, Russia and it’s rearmement plan and Fritzl. If the news editors for the News agencies met on friendfeed and discussed the top three international stories how much richer would the dialogue be? How many more related stories would we find?

We can get a taste for this from Google’s news page, according to country. You can see which stories are the most written about and see how the dialogue is advancing but that’s an algorithm. It requires little time or involvement to exist. As a result recommendations may not be that interesting, or that well selected.

Imagine a top three international stories room on Friendfeed and how that would progress, as news agencies provide items for national news bulletins. You could have sub sets to that room according to regions according to treaty alliances. There could be a room where NATO encourage Europt to work closer, making Europe as an entity more powerful. You see that with recent discussions from various recent Nato events.

I watched and listened to plenary sessions taking place in Africa during the changes-challenges.org when live streams were being made available by the event organisers for greater transparency. Some sessions were on the front page of the website. As a result even if you were not invited to the event there was a certain degree of transparency, the same was true of the World Economic Forum. As part of my work I have been streaming such events and I have tried listening in, to see what people were saying.
What is a shame is that at the moment there is no diversity in these online communities. Only the earliest of the technologically adopters are participating. the conversation, as a result is boring for anyone but those hyper-engaged within these communities. I use the term hyper-engaged because in reality there is a lot of information coming in. All of that information takes time to ingest. The best way to absorb all of that information is for us to watch it in real time.

Facebook have that option now, the real time view, if I remember the term correctly, and that will help to introduce a large portion of people to what is called the “Real time web”. The real time web is best demonstrated by the real-time view on friendfeed. People are finding new sites, commenting on links and more n real time. As soon as something is added to the stream you see it. If you’ve got two or more screens then you can monitor all of this in real time. There are apps to help with the assimilation of all this information.

Of course we’re not there yet, at the moment the geekiest of the geeks are playing with it, and some have more time than others to be invested in this. It’s just that it’s so well adapted to all professions that it will be interesting to see how Friendfeed and Facebook revolutionise the way we get our information and how we react to it. What I love most is that because facebook brings that to over three hundred of my university, school and work friends we, social media types have an easier job of driving adoption to the masses.

The twitter back channels

Twitter is one of those places that takes some time to get the hang of but once you do it’s going to suck you in and won’t spit you out till you’re exhausted. It’s a little bit like seesmic except that in this case you don’t look like you’re so in love with your computer that you’re talking to it.

In reality twitter is just the surface of our interaction with the groups of friends we have met and made through this network. Twitter is first and foremost about short messages to say what you’re doing right now. Over time though it’s become much more. As more and more people started to use it so the want to comment on what people are doing increased. Overtime as more and more comments were made so conversations occured. These conversations are a little more complex than you may think. Initially conversations via instant messaging services like ICQ, Skype, Yahoo and others are about one to one communication. Twitter is about the overheard conversation. In other words as I’m talking to one person another person overhears what I’m saying and they want to join. Over time a community forms. Some call it the twitterverse, others the twittosphere, and some call us the twitterati. The result is the same.

It’s a community of people based around twitter. They are for the most part involved in the social media although a growing number of people are “tourists”, in other words they’re looking at this social networking system or tool and seeing how they can apply it to their own lives and business practices.

There’s another dimension. The invisible conversations that are taking place. With some people I have exchanged hundreds of messages in private, via direct messages. With other people it’s via google talk and in other cases via the skype chatrooms. In other words it’s a dynamic conversation across a number of instant messaging services. There are a number of uses. In some cases some conversations are too personal to have out in the open, with others the conversations are very focused and the community is a community through a skype chatroom or conference call. As a result there is a strong feel of belonging within certain communities.

Seesmic is one website and over time a community that has profited greatly from twitter, and I mean in terms of the members of the community rather than the wealth generated. As people created videos so a link with the video title would appear. As the “Seesmic” tag appeared more and more so a buzz was generated to create interest. As more people were invited through friends using twitter so more interest grew. It was also a two channel conversation. One channel being twitter where short messages could be exchanged easily and the second channel video where opinions could be exchanged through visual means. Quite a few parties took place then.

Many questions are also asked by those that use twitter. Some of these questions are easy to answer within 140 characters and a list of responses is left as a blog entry. It’s a quick method of getting a number of points of view efficiently. Occasionaly entire conversations come to life about a number of topics and multiple people talk to multiple people and after three or four hours results and conclusions are drawn up and a comprehensive blog post covering a range of issues can be written up.

Twitter is a simple way of keeping in touch with what friends are doing but it also creates links with people we would find very hard to get hold of using more contemporary methods such as facebook, e-mails and other. This is a glimpse of what the future of communication will hold. Skype, seesmic, gtalk, facebook are all there to add depth to the twitter conversations.

Likemind Coffee morning in London

Two nights ago whilst having a conversation about technology with Fooz on twitter I got a message from Jamie about the Likemind coffee morning in Central London that she thought might be of interest to me. I decided that I would go and it was worth the effort. From what I gather it’s held once a month.

It’s a meeting that started around 0830 and continued till 1030 where a few people from various backgrounds in the media came to talk about a variety of topics. It ranged from Facebook and those that influence discussions to Qik, twitter and seesmic. Of course other topics were also discussed.

I talked to Mark of Wishful Thinking who wrote the e-book Time Management for Creative People. He has some interesting ideas and his blog can be found here. Whilst talking to him he touched on a number of interestin topics of which i would like to find out more. One was copyright and music for example, recommending a blog or two I should read and from the conversation I am interested in seeing what he’s been writing about.

If I’m not mistaken (and I did meet quite a few people) I also talked with Lauralynne about the challenges of finding work but also about twitter, a subject I know well. Arriving at almost 400 tweets she has a very different to the whole twitter thing. When talking to people many of them are not sure what it’s about yet and that’s why talking to her about it was good.

I talked to her about how society is changing. Previously when you met people you would meet them in person, be friends with them for a few weeks or months and one of the two would move to another country or another city and so the link would be lost, hence the utility for something like facebook. It then progressed onto a conversation about twitter. I explained my view that twitter is not just about saying what you’re doing. Another person who was listening in asked us to define twitter. I defined it as a multiplatform chatroom that you can take with you. I talked about the key difference between IM and twitter.

With instant messaging you chat with someone and you’re telling them about things as if you’re talking and you expect an answer. With twitter it’s about the day to day life. Through following your stream they’re going to come through a lot of noise depending on how often you tweet. That noise is what makes conversations easy when you meet twitter friends. You’ve got three topics ready because you know about the good and bad things currently going on in their life. It means you’re friends offline. Live in a city like London and you meet these people and a physical world friendship can occur.

The motivation behind this point was the notion that technologies are helping to seperate people and I wanted to refute that argument with the points made above. If you go through some of my previous posts you can follow the progression of these ideas further.

I heard Mark Iddon talk about his blog about multiplatform content and it sounds interesting although I have not yet had the opportunity to visit the site. Another person I came across was Damiano whose blog Nitmesh sounds interesting. It is described as : “A comment on the imploding chaos of the convergence that hopefully entertains, enlightens, educate, reminds and shares ideas that might stand out and make a remarkable difference”.

Overall the meeting was good, productive. I arrived feeling both inspired and shattered. Normal, I got to sleep at 4am and got up at 630 because I enjoyed the thought of being able to have more conversations in person rather than via twitter or seesmic.

Two million members for the London Network on Facebook.

There are now two million people who consider themselves to be part of the London network. It is currently the biggest network Facebook has to the best of my knowledge. I know it was the largest before and there’s a good chance it has remained so.

That’s a lot of people. There are 117 events occuring just for today. There are almost a quarter of a million post on the group wall and the top three posted items are Clarkson’s story about bank pranks, Israeli girls and a crash on the m40.

Now what would encourage so many people to join this facebook network. Are they all immigrants or students, are they people who have friends in this city so they decided to become part of the network. What does it mean from a social point of view?

As i’ve mentioned there are 117 events for today, 165 for tomorrow, 161 the day after and so on. Does this mean that as a person London living in London I could get everything I want and need socially via what the London network is telling me is going on? Would I be able to fill an entire day with activities via this network? It could be interesting to try it and see what happens.

Are you part of the London network? 116 of my friends are listed as such. How about you and your friends?

Plaxo Pulse and Facebook

For all of those privacy advocates I’m on your side for this issue. With a lot of communitis you create a profile and friends can see it. What you give them are both your name and possibly phone number but no more. When you’re building a database of contacts you must ask for it.

When you add friends to outlook, address and other applications you’ve done research and the users have given their consent. That’s not the same as harvesting them direct from facebook. No one said they wanted you to have their e-mail address. No one chose to give you those details.

If you want them ask for them. Taking contact details from 5000 people is unethical and wrong. That’s very similar to spam behaviour.

What makes this worse is that Plaxo is associated with this. I use Plaxo pulse and you can see it on the right side of this column.  I don’t mind their services but for people to harvest their friend’s data without prior consent will help increase this feeling of insecurity.

We’ve had that debate on Seesmic, on Facebook and other online communities. If we want real communities transparency and trust are key. Stop abusing it.

The Scoble Vs Facebook event

This is a response to a post on Segala: Scoble opens up debate about walled gardens after being booted by Facebook.

There are two key factors to take into account. The first of these is the issue of privacy and the second is the free flow of information.

Unlike most other sites facebook is both hated and detested by different groups of users. As a recent university graduate and member of the international community it’s a great way to keep up with what my friends are doing without having to make hundreds of five second phone calls.

The second aspect has to do with Openness. Facebook was started as a forum based on one campus in one university but due to it’s popularity expanded further. As a result it became a national and then international sensation. That’s whilst still a student based website.

This is where the issue of privacy plays a key role. If we are to trust this website then it must make sure to do everything within it’s power to stop information collected. That includes e-mail and phone numbers,

What you display is your choice and your friends can do what they want with that information, within the limiations set forth by facebook.

That’s where trust comes in. Without trust Facebook will dissapear much faster than any network because people give real names, real relationships and real addresses. Identity theft would be a disaster.

Now how does this all fit in with Robert Scoble?

He’s got over five thousand facebook friends. If he decides to collect all the details we’ve offered up to facebook then both Robert Scoble and Facebook will suffer. Scoble for a breach of trust. Facebook for the same.

Now what good has come of this so far? We’ve seen that they take privacy very seriously. So seriously that they’re ready to get a storm of criticism for banning one of it’s best known members (within the geek community).

I actually feel far more secure in how Facebook deals with my information now that this has come to light. I think that if facebook bring this point to light they are going to gain a great amount of credibility.

The friendship Wheel

Whilst looking at another person’s Facebook profile I noticed something. Two thirds of the people were connected to each other yet one third had no connections. It made me think about the nature of the friendship wheel and how it demonstrates how you use facebook.

If you use facebook for real world friends and connections then the friend wheel will show that the connections are many and diverse. Everyone knows everyone else and there is a real sense of community. In contrast take a look at the friendship wheel of someone who adds people they have never met and the nature of the friend wheel changes entirely. Everyone appears isolated.

I like seeing that there are so many connections between my friends on Facebook and aim to keep it this way for as long as possible.