Walled garden and comments

My friend Sameer and I are having a conversation on Facebook. The conversation started with Sameer thanking me for writing content on the unwalled garden i.e. the open internet. We are chatting about that, WordPress, Automattic, and a few other things.

And it hits me – why are we chatting about the unwalled garden in the walled garden? The reason of course is that Facebook and the like have brought many if not most of my community into a single place. They see what I write, I see what they write, we talk about it (or like it or whatever).

Over the past two decades I’ve written on many forums. I spent years on Posterous before it died – unfortunately the export function wasn’t 100% successful and I lost photos. I lost more information when Path went away. I blogged on Tumblr for years and then it hit me that really, I needed to control my own content. As an early WordPress user I decided I could self host (did that for years) or do the easy piece and use Automattic. The key though is that I own the content and can move it around.

But comments and social interactions just don’t work correctly on this distributed system. There needs to be a common, simple aggregation much like the Facebook Feed. It pulls from everyone I know, it follows simple permission rules, and the app that goes with it would support all of this. WordPress could do this but just hasn’t yet. I’ve seen WordPress Reader but that isn’t quite right – that is more about long form reading and not short form content.

New experiment – no Twitter or Facebook on mobile

Yesterday I noticed how many notifications I got from these two apps. And I wondered – rather than disable notifications what if I just removed the apps? Would I care? Notice? I enjoy both services but will now need to access these via laptop which means once or twice per day.

So I did. And now let’s see if my world is a little less cluttered, a bit less noisy.

Kudos to Facebook – Safety Check is a good start, more work needed

Kudos to Facebook – Safety Check is a good start, more work needed: we need to be able to do something beyond our gestures.

During Friday’s horrible Paris attacks by Da’esh nut jobs, Facebook turned on ‘Safety Check’, a function allowing people in Paris to check in and say “I’m Safe”. I have a lot of friends in Paris and I was absolutely relieved to see those check-ins.

Criticism was quick: why not for Beirut which had been the victim of a terrorist attack too. That’s a fair critique. Facebook replied essentially…

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Kudos to Facebook – Safety Check is a good start, more work needed

During Friday’s horrible Paris attacks by Da’esh nut jobs, Facebook turned on ‘Safety Check’, a function allowing people in Paris to check in and say “I’m Safe”. I have a lot of friends in Paris and I was absolutely relieved to see those check-ins.

Criticism was quick: why not for Beirut which had been the victim of a terrorist attack too. That’s a fair critique. Facebook replied essentially saying “yep, fair critique, we’re working on it.” The thing about building a system like this is that it’s hard and often takes multiple tries before all the wrinkles are smoothed. Some things that immediately come to mind:

  1. People marking themselves as ‘safe’ when they aren’t there. This is a tough one as I saw several people who I know no longer live in Paris but still list their home city as Paris check in.
  2. People gaming the system with false emergencies. What are the criteria for a real emergency? Is it number of dead? Worldwide impact? Hard to say and this will be a very difficult conversation for Facebook. Can this be turned on by community/area owners who could best judge whether something is ‘big enough’ or not?
  3. The simple act of making it work on a system this big and complicated is not the work of days.

I give full props to Facebook for building this; they didn’t have to. I give them more props for acknowledging that there are gaps and issues but they are committed to making it better.

Now if we can just get those photo overlays “in support of” to actually link to something that does real support for places in need we’d have something. I changed my profile photo to a shot of happier times in Paris. Many people are using the French flag overlay. But other than “thinking of you” what does it do? It’s a nice gesture but why not allow those overlays to do something (e.g. donate money to the Red Cross) useful for a region that was just clobbered?

Stowe Boyd: Facebook Places Is Nowhere

Stowe Boyd: Facebook Places Is Nowhere

It’s A Facebook World … until it’s not

It’s A Facebook World … until it’s not

Nothing new under the sun

Nothing new under the sun