Teens In The UK Say Facebook Is Dead – Business Insider

This story has been carried in numerous news outlets over the past few days, most with more hype than this one. 

The hype is a little premature: Facebook is not dead yet, though it is very interesting that it is no longer the network of choice amongst younger people, not only in the UK, and has not been for most of the past year. Though a billion or more users will take a while to leave, the ugliest company in social media will need to do something amazing really soon if it is to survive. If it does go under then it might happen surprisingly rapidly, thanks to the inverse of Metcalfe’s Law, especially as Facebook is already suffocating under its own flab. It is the biggest we have ever seen but it is certainly not too big to die and, once the exodus gains momentum, could happen in months rather than years. Like MySpace, Hi5 and others that have fallen out of favour, it will likely collapse in a big way but won’t totally vanish, especially given some sensible investments in things like Instagram that do make a lot of sense. Is this a bad thing? While mostly evil in its business practices, it has made some significant contributions to open source projects, but not enough to compensate for the harm it has done to the Internet in general: I won’t be sorry to see it go. It doesn’t need to be replaced. That’s not how things work any more.

Address of the bookmark: http://www.businessinsider.com/teens-in-the-uk-say-facebook-is-dead-2013-12

Facebook Is A Fundamentally Broken Product That Is Collapsing Under Its Own Weight

An article from Business Insider reporting on Benedict Evans’s compelling analysis of Facebook’s big challenge. Essentially, there is too much data, and Facebook’s algorithms cannot cope. In fact, algorithms are part of the problem…

today, you could post that you’re getting married, but only half of your friends might see that posting because of the News Feeds’ algorithms.”

And algorithms are not the solution…

 “If you have 1,500 emails coming in every day, you wouldn’t say, ‘I need better algorithms.'”

So what next?

By this time next year we could have 3,000 posts, links, videos, status updates, etc., all flowing through the News Feed. It’s a struggle to sort through 1,500; how will Facebook deal with sorting through 3,000?”

Basically Facebook is broken and, unless its henchpeople and minions can come up with something radically new, it is not going to be fixed and it will just get worse. Sure, Facebook as a central service is not going away any time soon (probably – Metcalfe’s Law works in reverse too, so I’d not want to place any bets on that) but it doesn’t work as a social network any more, precisely because of the avaricious, amoral, single-minded network-building design that made it what it is today. I think it did a very sensible thing in buying, but not fully integrating, Instagram, because it can only grow now by moving into other ecosystems and dissociating the core from the satellites. It probably needs to go on quite a big spending spree now.

Seeing Facebook begin to fail, at least in its core, pleases me because it rose to success by cynical exploitation. It went places other social networking systems that predated it, as well as most that have come since, feared or had no inclination to go. You can’t have too many predators or parasites of one kind in an ecosystem otherwise the whole system falls apart. Or, to look at it another way, Facebook got too fat eating its own users, and now it can’t digest them any more. Either way, we’re much better off without it.

Address of the bookmark: http://www.businessinsider.com/facebook-news-feed-benedict-evans-2013-12#ixzz2nqI8Zbzw

12 Awesome Social Media Facts and Statistics for 2013

An interesting summary of the GlobalWebIndex for Q2 2013. 

Some takeaways are:

Google+ is catching up with Facebook in numbers, but not in active usage. This makes sense as Google has a very different and less unpleasant agenda than FB that is all about search, not lock-in.  Google+ gets by far the largest number of visits, which is exactly what Google is aiming for.

Pinterest is still the fastest growing social media system. The report calls it a ‘social network’ but I think that is a slight mischaracterization that doesn’t quite capture its distinctiveness – it’s at least as much about interest sets rather than networks between people, with a focus on content and themes far more than on individual’s connected with one another. Tumblr is not far behind.

The trend is towards increasing mobility, of course. As an aside, it is interesting that Microsoft recently redefined smartphones as PCs. Probably an unwise statement from the point of view of their shareholders as it reduces Windows PCs to a very small percentage of the total.



Address of the bookmark: http://www.jeffbullas.com/2013/09/20/12-awesome-social-media-facts-and-statistics-for-2013/

Fiverr: Graphics, marketing, fun, and more online services for $5

A marketplace for services, many of which start at $5, hence the name. Compared with long-established competitors like Amazon’s Mechanical Turk this is very simple to use and easy to understand – you hire someone for a ‘gig’ and they do the work for you, whether it is proofreading, choosing a gift, teaching you to juggle, turning your room design into a CAD drawing, correcting your code or whatever. Mostly, you pay $5 or some multiple of $5. Being a global site, some of the prices are amazingly low. It has a simple collective approach to reputation management so, like most such sites, it is not too hard to find reliable service providers. I’m torn between concerns about the ease with which it can handle contract cheating and delight that people can distribute workload in such a simple and convenient manner. I’ve not come up with a personal use for it yet but can see the potential value in many different areas.

Address of the bookmark: http://fiverr.com/

LinkedIn launches LinkedIn for Education

This is about connecting people you at colleges or who you went to college with, rather than being a service for academics like academia.edu or others of that ilk, and it’s an incremental change from the existing ways LinkedIn already does pull people who claim the same institutional background together, but an interesting development none the less.


Address of the bookmark: http://pro.gigaom.com/blog/linkedin-launches-linkedin-for-education/

Julian Dibbell » A Rape in Cyberspace

I have made use of this or its influential ancestor article in a few courses that I have taught over the past decade or so and, after a long period of forgetting about it, have done so again recently. Rereading it again, I was as affected by it now as much as I was the first time I read it. Though it relates to events that occurred in the largely superseded technology of the MOO, Dibbell’s detailed descriptions and rich reflections are as relevant in an era of social networks, MMORPGs, Q&A sites, web forums and immersive worlds as they were when he first wrote them. Maybe more so.

It’s a long, harrowing, but rewarding read, not for the easily offended, unravelling the unpleasant story of Mr Bungle and his reincarnation as Dr Jest, the things he did to other characters in the MOO, and the responses of the other inhabitants of the MOO to ‘him’ (I may give away too much with those quotes). It challenges notions of identity, self, and the nature of human engagement as well as offering a fascinating meditation on ethics, consensus and social contracts in both meat-space and cyber-space. No unequivocal answers, but many challenging questions. The denouement that was not there in the original piece is worth waiting for, and makes the whole episode even more ugly and even more thought-provoking than it appears from the start. 

Address of the bookmark: http://www.juliandibbell.com/articles/a-rape-in-cyberspace/

Texting frequency and moral shallowing

An interesting study that reveals, in accordance with Nicholas Carr’s predictions, that there is a close positive correlation between what most of us would consider moral ugliness and frequent texting, at least among young people in Winnipeg. The correlations between frequent texting and moral dissolution are unsurprising, as the study appears to suggest that 42% of students in Winnipeg appear to text more than 200 times a day. 12%  of them do so more than 300 times a day. That leaves little time for thought. It averages out at once every 3 minutes for 15 hours of the day. I guess they read the replies too And eat and use the bathroom (I don’t want to even think about that in the context of texting). And indulge what appear to be quite prodigious and positively correlated sexual appetites (or that). Luckily for the rest of us, that leaves little time to pursue their interests in wealth and status.  My suspicion would be that most activities apart from breathing that that we engage in 300+ times a day are unlikely to do us much good. 

Address of the bookmark: http://news-centre.uwinnipeg.ca/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/texting-study.pdf

Elgg source code evolution (before 4th May 2013) – YouTube

A fascinating diagram showing developer contributions to the open source core of the Elgg project (used here on the Landing) over the past 5 years or so. Quite fascinating to watch, and especially pleasing to see how the number of contributors has grown over the past year or so, probably as much due to moving to Github from Trac as anything else, though the great work of the Elgg foundation team in building and employing the work of the community goes hand in hand with that. Makes me feel quite a lot more secure about the future of the technology to know that so many people are active in pushing it forward. It would be intriguing to look at the larger ecosystem of plugins that sits around that using a similar visualization.

Address of the bookmark:

Discourse – rebooted forum software

Discourse is an extremely cool and open source reinvention of forum software that is replete with modern features like real-time AJAX loading of threads (which are not the usual tree-like things but more a flat form with contextual threading as and when needed), lots of collective features including reputation management, tagging, rating and ranking, what’s-hot lists and so on. Looks slick, hooks into plenty of other services. I’d like to see something like this on the Landing instead of its simple discussion boards. Not trivial to integrate, but it does have an open and rich API so can be called easily from other systems.

Address of the bookmark: http://www.discourse.org/