January 12th, 2012
Social media explained.
Remember when Apple made TV adverts styling themselves as opponents of Big Brother. Judging by a recent Employment Tribunal finding, that stance is inoperative:
Crisp, who worked in an Apple Store, posted derogatory statements on Facebook about Apple and its products. The posts were made on a "private" Facebook page and outside of working hours. One of his colleagues, who happened to be a Facebook "friend", saw the comments, printed the posts and passed them to the store manager. Crisp was subsequently dismissed for gross misconduct.
The employment tribunal rejected Crisp's claim for unfair dismissal. [...]
Despite having "private" Facebook settings, the tribunal decided that there was nothing to prevent friends from copying and passing on Crisp's comments, so he was unable to rely on the right to privacy contained in Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights (covered in the UK by the Human Rights Act 1998). He retained his right to freedom of expression under Article 10, but Apple successfully argued that it was justified and proportionate to limit this right in order to protect its commercial reputation against potentially damaging posts.
I'm not saying that the tribunal's findings are wrong in law: apparently Apple Retail's 'social media policy' emphasised that employees were forbidden from posting unfavourable opinions on the company's products on social media sites, so on the face of it the ex-employee was in breach of this policy.
My problem is threefold:
There's no way to take a time-out from our social life and describe it to a computer without social consequences. At the very least, the fact that I have an exquisitely maintained and categorized contact list telegraphs the fact that I'm the kind of schlub who would spend hours gardening a contact list, instead of going out and being an awesome guy. The social graph wants to turn us back into third graders, laboriously spelling out just who is our fifth-best-friend. But there's a reason we stopped doing that kind of thing in third grade!
You might almost think that the whole scheme had been cooked up by a bunch of hyperintelligent but hopelessly socially naive people, and you would not be wrong. Asking computer nerds to design social software is a little bit like hiring a Mormon bartender. Our industry abounds in people for whom social interaction has always been more of a puzzle to be reverse-engineered than a good time to be had, and the result is these vaguely Martian protocols.
How good is this essay? Right up there with Argentina On Two Steaks A Day.
Jotly cares about you:
Your life is exciting and worth sharing: everything with everyone! Everyone cares about everything you do. Now you can rate your entire life and share the experience.
Fortunately, this is just a spoof. Let's just hope it doesn't give anyone any bright ideas…1
Evgeny Morozov finds Jeff Jarvis' latest paean to the wonders of the internet deeply flawed, and rather unserious:
Why are we so obsessed with privacy? Jarvis blames rapacious privacy advocates – "there is money to be made in privacy" – who are paid to mislead the "netizens," that amorphous elite of cosmopolitan Internet users whom Jarvis regularly volunteers to represent in Davos. On Jarvis's scale of evil, privacy advocates fall between Qaddafi's African mercenaries and greedy investment bankers. All they do is "howl, cry foul, sharpen arrows, get angry, get rankled, are incredulous, are concerned, watch, and fret." Reading Jarvis, you would think that Privacy International (full-time staff: three) is a terrifying behemoth next to Google (lobbying expenses in 2010: $5.2 million).
"Privacy should not be our only concern," Jarvis declares. "Privacy has its advocates. So must publicness." He compiles a long and somewhat tedious list of the many benefits of "publicness": "builds relationships," "disarms strangers," "enables collaboration," "unleashes the wisdom (and generosity) of the crowd," "defuses the myth of perfection," "neutralizes stigmas," "grants immortality … or at least credit," "organizes us," and even "protects us." Much of this is self-evident. Do we really need to peek inside the world of Internet commerce to grasp that anyone entering into the simplest of human relationships surrenders a modicum of privacy? But Jarvis has mastered the art of transforming the most trivial observations into empty business maxims.
Contrary to Jarvis' protestations, Morozov's review doesn't read to me as a personal attack – more a clinical, brutal dismantling of a collection of shallow cliches in support of the argument that we shouldn't worry about the way pretty much every commercial entity we deal with online seeks to hoover up as much personal information about our use of the internet as it can because the (somewhat nebulous) benefits outweigh the potential problems. So long as you respect your cultural norms, you'll be fine.
[Via The Awl]
Jason Scott found a Facebook exchange that neatly encapsulates the pros and cons of the latest round of changes to the way Facebook operates.
The Government is focusing on entirely the wrong problem in trying to increase their powers to ban, block or monitor people's communications. Social networks like Twitter are used for a huge array of positive purposes such as warnings of danger and organising clean up projects. Blanket surveillance measures of private communications or increased powers to mine users data would undermine people's freedom to communicate in very damaging ways, and would in no way address the problems at hand. Making laws in haste, with limited analysis and information, to deal with an exceptional problem is likely to create unbalanced laws and abuses of our rights.
[Context: a comment thread inspired by David Cameron's argument in favour of controlling the type of discussions taking place via social media.]
12 August 2011 4:14PM
12 August 2011 2:51PM
"If you've got nothing to hide then you have nothing to fear"
So glad to hear that, now I'd like your full name, address, date of birth, make and model of car you drive, all telephone numbers mobile and landline, name of employer, email address, annual income (gross and net), and of course I'd also like to know what your daily schedule is and what times you estimate being out of the house this weekend. Come on now, if you've nothing to hide then you've nothing to fear. Please post this information publicly, or are you up to something?
Oh and please post your internet history too, I'd like to check what sites you browse, just to make sure you aren't fapping to something nasty. By your own statement if you are reluctant to do so then you must be up to something criminal. Or you could admit your over simplistic statement was absurd.
[Via Memex 1.1]
See something or say something plots maps of major cities, showing locations from which people tweeted and locations where they posted photographs to Flickr.
Unfortunately I don't know any of the cities well enough to positively identify the locations revealed by the pictures, but a quick look at Google Maps seems to confirm that1 many of the concentrations of red dots in London mark the locations of the various royal or public parks.
[Via Flowing Data]
- Go to Google Reader
- Google Reader will reload and you'll see a simplified interface that removes the section "People you follow" and no longer shows shared items from your friends.
[Via Tom Morris]
James Shelley on social media overload:
Are we still communicating? Or are we just sending faxes?
(Rest assured that, read in context, that's a perfectly sound metaphor.)
Facebook is a living computer nightmare. Just as viruses took the advantages of sharing information on floppies and modems and revealed a devastating undercarriage to the whole process, making every computer transaction suspect… and just as spyware/malware took advantage of beautiful advances in computer strength and horsepower to turn your beloved machine of expression into a gatling gun of misery and assholery… Facebook now stands as taking over a decade and a half of the dream of the World Wide Web and turning it into a miserable IT cube farm of pseudo human interaction, a bastardized form of e-mail, of mailing lists, of photo albums, of friendship. While I can't really imply that it was going to be any other way, I can not sit by and act like this whole turn of events hasn't resulted in an epidemic of ruin that will have consequences far-reaching from anything related to archiving.
Follow the link – trust me, the full rant is well worth a read.
The Best Obnoxious Responses To Misspellings On Facebook. My favourite: the entry about the bombing of Libya.
[Via Word Magazine Blog]
Kevin Charles Redmon wonders whether the rise of the e-book means the end of marginalia:
[Sam Anderson...], master practitioner of literary journalism, used the Times Sunday Magazine's new Riff column to observe that marking up a book's pages gave him "a way to not just passively read but to fully enter a text, to collaborate with it, to mingle with an author on some kind of primary textual plane." [...]
At present, annotating an e-book with a stylus is about as handy as marking up a Norton anthology with a Crayola. The amount of clicking required to two-finger type a note using the Kindle's mini keyboard is even worse. But as technology (and perhaps our patience) improves, Anderson envisions a kind of free global bazaar of e-marginalia, so that you can read Hemingway, while also reading–in the margins – Gary Shteyngart's thoughts on reading Hemingway. Or your sister's. Or Michiko Kakutani's. [...]
"I want, in short, marginalia, everywhere, all the time," Anderson concludes. Welcome to the twenty-first century, kids, where even reading is social, networked activity.
Anderson is among the literary vanguard's optimists, though. [...]
The argument against Anderson's position suggests that marginalia are inherently part of an individual reader's dialogue with the text and are distinctly unsuited to the sort of 'sharing' that Kindle readers are treated to when their e-reader underlines passages in a text that have been highlighted by other Kindle users.
I think it's important to remember that it's still very early days for the mass-market e-book. Over time, if the trend of sharing your preferences across your social network and beyond continues, we'll almost certainly see greater granularity built into the software used in e-readers to share marginalia, allowing you to decide whose comments you want to subscribe to and/or limiting the extent to which your own margin notes are shared with others.
I'd say the bigger problem is that with so many different e-reader platforms and DRM schemes it'll be harder than it needs to be to standardise a cross-platform means of sharing this sort of data, unless Amazon or Apple or whoever manages to dominate the market to the point that they can impose their standard on everyone else. Amazon probably have the best chance of establishing a critical mass of e-book readers, but look again in a couple of years, when the iPad has some real competition and the tablet computer market segment has filled out a bit, and the picture could look very different.
[Via The Browser]
In the wake of their decision to 'sunset' Delicious, Jason Scott is not inclined to give Yahoo's management the benefit of the doubt as regards their future intentions towards their remaining acquisitions:
I am, frankly, a mixture of disappointed and sad that after Yahoo! shut down Geocities, Briefcase, Content Match, Mash, RSS Advertising, Yahoo! Live, Yahoo! 360, Yahoo! Pets, Yahoo Publisher, Yahoo! Podcasts, Yahoo! Music Store, Yahoo Photos, Yahoo! Design, Yahoo Auctions, Farechase, Yahoo Kickstart, MyWeb, WebJay, Yahoo! Directory France, Yahoo! Directory Spain, Yahoo! Directory Germany, Yahoo! Directory Italy, the enterprise business division, Inktomi, SpotM, Maven Networks, Direct Media Exchange, The All Seeing Eye, Yahoo! Tech, Paid Inclusion, Brickhouse, PayDirect, SearchMonkey, and Yahoo! Go!… there are still people out there going "Well, Yahoo certainly will never shut down Flickr, because _______________" where ______ is the sound of donkeys.
What, because they take your money? Because they're so big? Because so many people use it and like it? Because it works well? Because it would make Yahoo! look bad? Go ahead, give me some more reasons. Flickr allows you great ability to export all your data. Get used to using it regularly.
I'm mildly surprised just how much of a reaction there's been to the impending death of Delicious. Granted, the posters to this MeFi thread may not be entirely representative of the typical modern-day web user, but the way that alternative online bookmarking services like Pinboard and Zootool are feeling the strain as Delicious users migrate does that perhaps the online bookmarking and tagging market has more life in it than I'd thought.1
Meanwhile, bittersweet nostalgia from NTK #316 (2003-12-05):
>> TRACKING <<
sufficiently advanced technology : the gathering
The best thing about a minimal "link log" that runs in the corner of a real blog is that, with luck, it kills the main blog stone dead. Linklogs perform all the old school functions that make blogs most useful – providing a permanent store for interesting URLs, hideously distorting Google searches to favour people's real preferences, etc – while dispensing with that DJish slice o' life chit-chat in between. Now Joshua "the other memepool" Schachter has created the blogspot of linklogs. DEL.ICIO.US is a centralised Web service for dumping links, generating feeds and resucking an HTMLised list of your most recent choices back into your own Website. His brand of bitterness-driven perfectionism grants a bit more confidence that the del.icio.us setup will stay up a little longer than other blog servers. And the open API and ongoing experimentation already hints at wider possibilities for a lightly metadata-ed, collectively edited URL-bank. As it is, it's mostly just nice to have someone else write the bookmarklet and keep up with whatever the hell RSS format people are using these days.
- there goes the neighbourhood
- Falcooooo! (and jennicam.org too)
(For an explanation of the post title, see here.)
[Via this is sippey.com]