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Archive | August, 2011

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Google+, an Identity Service

How Social Networks See Users - The Anti-Social MediaThis weekend Google’s chairman Eric Schmidt said Google+ is actually an identity service.

Well color me surprised.

An identity service? What the hell does that mean? Isn’t this a social network where I can connect with my friends?

Google is really just a giant internet advertising service. Facebook is the same way. We’ve know that for years. But for Google to basically come out and say “We’re profiling you.” is creepy as fuck.

Now when I use Google+, I notice how it’s collecting information about me. Circles, which are essential to add people, delineate my relationships. Sparks, a feature which I haven’t used at all, is really just a method to capture my interests for advertising. When you go to Google+ and you aren’t logged in, you notice that isn’t called Google+, it’s the Google+ Project.

A project to identify everyone.

Well then.

Will there ever be a social network that isn’t creepy? I’m not holding my breath, even for Diaspora (Side note: what the hell ever happened to Diaspora?).

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What You Wish People Knew

What You Wish People Knew - The Anti-Social MediaOver the past few weeks I’ve seen the posts on Amber Naslund’s blog and elsewhere about What I Wish People Knew About Me. Many of the posts have been very moving and insightful, and it’s great to see so many people opening up intimately not heir blogs and elsewhere online.

But I can’t shake the premise as false.

You create your identity online. Unless you have an arch-nemesis constantly creating identities as you and spreading malicious slander and libel, you’re in control of what you share. You’re in control of who you are, online and offline.

It’s a sad, sorry state of affairs we live in where you cannot be who you are online and you have to perform another identity. I know how much it sucks. I’m gay. I suffer from depression. It sucks to hide an important part of your identity from the people you care about.

Yet I’ve been able to previously write on both of those topics. If I can write about those topics on a social media satire and humor blog, then there is no reason why anyone else can’t write about what they want people to know about them unless they are a coward.

It’s OK to want people to know certain things about you. It’s terrible to feel like you are hiding. But writing “What You Wish People Knew” is a cop out on your identity. You’re better than that.

You are in control of who you are. Don’t be a wimp. Share what you want to share. Tell people what you want them to know. Stop wishing and be who you are.

The internet will be a better place for it.

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F*&k You Friday! Social Games

Social Games Suck - The Anti-Social MediaA long time ago, Facebook promised the world to developers.

Then they realized how stupid it looked for all of us to have profiles with tons of boxes of apps we used once and then forgot.  So Facebook cleaned things up, but the platform still existed and Zynga got rich making Farmville and Cityville.

Now we have a bunch of shitty games that aren’t integrated into the Facebook platform beyond using your user account and randomly attempting to post on your wall. Sigh.

Take Google+’s new games for example. They live in a completely separate tab and stream from regular games. I bet most Google+ users haven’t even discovered that there are games on there. It took me five days to realize there were games. Five days to find a core functionality!

What’s worse is all of these games are using the same, lame features. Earn levels! Share points! Ask friends for help! Spend your money on crap so you can actually play the game properly!

What. The. Fuck.

Why hasn’t anyone figured out how to make a cool game on a social network that’s actually worth playing? You have the power a computer and the whole internet, yet the most complex game we get is Angry Birds?

There has to be a cool game out there using these networks. Someone make me believe that the potential in social networks is being used.

Otherwise I’m going to go back to playing on my Super Nintendo. At least that thing delivered, and still delivers, on all its promises.

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Angry Tweets

Curses - The Anti-Social MediaI had to stop myself from tweeting an angry tweet last week.

I was driving home from work, and I was behind a bus. The street I was on has bus lanes at many of the stops, and the buses pull into these when they stop. It’s a win-win situation. Traffic keeps moving, and public transportation is valuable.

But I got caught behind the one bus driver that refused to stop in the bus lanes. At 6 pm on a weekday when you just want to get home, it’s enough to gouge your eyes out.

In my rage, I had to stop myself from tweeting this:

“Seriously city of Raleigh bus!? You can’t stop in the clearly marked bus lane during rush hour? Way to make my drive home hell.”

Ugh. I feel dirty even typing it out like that. Like that would have done anything to make public transportation better in Raleigh. Even worse, what value does that have for my followers?

If anything, some poor bus drivers may have gotten chewed out, or maybe a passive aggressive memo reminding bus drivers to use the lanes would have been issued. Maybe some people would have unfollowed me because I’m an angry jerk. Either way, by the time I would have tweeted, I was already comfortably at home, and my mild annoyance was waning.

Would customer service had even made a difference?  As someone who helps businesses use social networks, I see the value in tweets like that. But what’s the tipping point to take action? One angry tweet from a slightly influential user? One tweet from any user? Or a large amount of feedback from many users of different influence? What even counts as many users? 10? 20? 100?

There is value in online customer service. But should the places we use to connect with other people for fun be that place? Since when did it become appropriate to vent online anyways?

Do you tweet angry tweets? What do you do when you see them from other users? Do you think they make a difference, or are they just venting in to the void?

And any angry tweets about this post will be catalogued for future feedback.

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Real Names

Anonymous Defender - The Anti-Social MediaI have a friend who has achieved the ultimate personal branding tactic.

Online, he uses a full name. His fans and followers think that is his real name. He has achieved glory and fame through his use of that name.

Except it isn’t his name.

In reality, he uses a completely different last name. It’s a full, complete separation of identity. You’d never know the social media celebrity is the same guy with a tiny LinkedIn presence.

Except now that Google+ requires the use of real names, he feels like he’s fucked.

Google – I get why you want real names. You’re an information whore. You want to know everything about everyone so you can deliver the perfect ad so we buy more things and you get paid to advertise more. But do you really need names to do that accurately?

I get my friend’s pain. He’s spent years building this identity, which is authentic. He doesn’t want his professional life deeply integrated into his hobby. Is that such a bad thing?

There is value in anonymity and secrecy. You can still be social without having to use your real name. Maybe the online world treats each other better using real names, but we lose so much when we demand that identity can only be built in one way.

Real names have real value, but so do screen names. The internet is big enough for both.

What do you think? Why do we need everything tied to our real names? Are we so integrated into the cult of authenticity that we must demand real names, or can we see beyond the name, even if it is xXxGlitterDancerBoi67xXx and into the words and actions of the user?

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Celebrities, Verified Accounts and Google+

Verified Accounts - The Anti-Social MediaOver the weekend, Google announced it was rolling out verified accounts for Google+.

A part of me is jealous. Why can’t I be verified? I’m devilishly handsome, I write a popular blog, and I’m an ego maniac. I’m a perfect candidate.

Unfortunately, I’m still getting screwed over in favor of more famous and influential assholes.

Regardless of my pathetic need to validated and verify myself to Google, I wonder if users actually care about these verified accounts. I don’t give enough of a shit about the livelihood of celebrity PR agents to follow a celebrity’s accounts on any social network.

What about the unfortunate people who share their name with a celebrity? When I was in grade school there was a kid named Neil Armstrong in my first grade class. Is he going to get kicked off of Google+ because his parents thought it would be cute bestow that name upon him?

And why do celebrities get to be on Google+ in such a public fashion anyways? Anyone can use a social network as a marketing tool, but celebrities have a much more vested interest in using Google+ to push commercial updates. Businesses get the shaft, but Dolly Parton can hawk her latest CD.

Verified accounts open a whole can of worms for both users and businesses that Google needs to address. Unfortunately, they’re too busy trying to beat Facebook in a war for online identity to take a step back and examine their social network objectively.

Do we get on Google+, or any social network, to experience the weakest of connections with a celebrity? Or are we there to connect with one another in a fashion that is more authentic than what we get on other social networks?

You all answer those questions in the comments. In the meantime, I’m going to put a check mark everywhere I see my name so I can feel verified.

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Sunday Shout Out! North Raleigh Arts & Creative Theatre

You Can Help - The Anti-Social MediaEvery now and then I get an e-mail from a reader asking, “Jay, do you have a life?”

I wish.

But in reality, I do a lot of things off of the internet and away from my day job. One of the activities I am most passionate about is local and community theatre. In addition to seeing as many shows as I can, I act in one or two community theatre shows a year, and I serve on the board of directors at North Raleigh Arts & Creative Theatre. Not only do I get to see great acting, but I get to be a part of it and a person who enables it. It’s a unique perspective to have, and I’m glad to have it.

Unfortunately, The past few years have been devastating to community-based arts organizations everywhere. At North Raleigh Arts & Creative Theatre, or NRACT as we lovingly call it, we’ve cut everything we can to keep the show going on. When I say everything, I mean everything. We even took the drastic step of cutting our one full-time paid position this year, and our volunteers have done a great job of keeping the dream alive.

But, cutting isn’t enough. Ask any business owner and they’ll tell you that you can’t run a business just by cutting expenses. The same goes for arts oragnizations. That’s why I’m asking you all for help.

Please Donate $5 to North Raleigh Arts & Creative Theatre. If you think $5 doesn’t do much, think about this: $5 can buy a script for an actor. $5 buy four props from a dollar store. If every person who reads this blog daily donated $5, we’d raise almost $8,000. That would pay for almost 3 full theatrical productions.

If you can’t give $5, think about how you can spend an hour volunteering a community theatre in your area. Maybe you can participate in an event to support the arts. Maybe you can do some social media marketing for a local non-profit. The ways you can give back are only limited by your imagination and your willingness to get off your lazy ass.

Don’t let the arts go to waste in your community. There is value in entertainment. There is a level of learning and self-realization we can get from the arts and live theatre that we don’t get anywhere else.

Donate today. The arts need you, and you need them.

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F*&k You Friday! Tribes

Tribes- The Anti-Social MediaIf there is one noun that I hate to see used with online communities, it’s tribes.

All I know is that this got started somewhere with Seth Godin, and other people latched on. By mentioning a real book, they looked smart and like they read a real book by an author who had books before a blog.

Ugh. Good for them. Suck ups.

When I think of a tribe, I don’t think of a sophisticated group of people in an online setting working towards shared goals and values. Instead, I think of a bunch of sophisticated individuals who are behind the technology curve and are going to get smashed by a bunch of idiotic settlers who crave more crap.

Also, because I’m a terrible person who stereotypes, I also think of a bunch of people in traditional Native American outfits. I know, I suck.

I don’t think of my Twitter followers as a tribe. I don’t think of Facebook fans as a tribe. I respect them and realize I am not leading them into war with another tribe or asking them for a blood sacrifice.I’ve got better things to do, like watch cat videos.

So fuck tribes. Online, we act like stupid, uncivilized and unenlightened jerks. But we’re at least better than the word “tribes.” Sheesh.

What are you hating on this week? What aspect of online life do you want to give a “Fuck you!” to?