Facebook is the path to Krypton

Will Richardson posted an interesting link today. The link tells us that Facebook is growing by 600,000 users a day and that a lot of those user are over 25. Many are over 55.

Thinking about how many people are jumping into social networking — which is, in a way, a substitute for real world networking — got me thinking about the planet Krypton, Superman’s homeworld.

If I’m remembering my lore correctly (and recent plot lines in the comic series may have changed this), Krypton was a barren and cold place whose inhabitants isolated themselves in their homes, eschewing physical contact with other people. Physical contact and even meeting in person was distasteful and only done when necessary. (See also E.M. Forster’s “The Machine Stops”)

Is Facebook a gateway to this? Will we become so distanced from our natural world, so lost in the virtual one that we forget our connection with the world around us and eventually let mad scientist/dictators destroy our planet, leaving only a single survivor rocketing toward safety on some distant, habitable world where he will grow up to become a champion for truth and justice?

I’m just saying it’s possible. That’s all.

On 25 random things

Rules: Once you’ve been tagged, write a note with 25 random things, facts, habits, or goals about you. At the end, choose 25 people to be tagged. You have to tag the person who tagged you. If I tagged you, it’s because I want to know more about you.

1. …

It’s not easy to pick 25 random things about yourself to share on Facebook.

A new chain letter of sorts is making its way around Facebook: the 25 random things letter. Recipients are asked to jot down 25 random facts or anecdotes about themselves and pass the note on to 25 other friends. Some of the entries are serious, some are smart and some reveal facts about people that you might never have otherwise found out.

One of my Facebook friends admitted in her profile that she recently had a brain tumor removed. Another recounted her habit of picking at a scar on her lip. A guy I have friended likes eating sardines right from the can. Another friend admits that she can drive a tractor and vaccinate a cow, though most of her students think her a city girl.

Some of these letters are the kind of randomness that comes from sitting down at your computer trying to generate randomness. You can tell these ones by the way the facts run into each other, as if thought up as a stream of consciousness. Others letters are itemized studies in brevity and wit. You can tell these by their longer entries, each with their own point and vaguely hidden message.

As I sit deciding whether to write a list of my own 25 random facts, I also wonder whether this sort of sharing is healthy. On one side, there is the everyday “be safe on the Interwebs” argument, the one that reminds us that sharing too much information online can have awkward, unhealthy, immoral or even dangerous consequences.

A second point to consider is whether I want to jump onto another Internet meme. I stopped responding to e-mail chain letters last century, and I don’t do things like join Facebook fan groups or play little games online. I don’t read “I Can Haz Cheezburger,” and I consider most of the things people laugh about online to be old news. I’m a dastardly Web elitist in that way, so joining a popular meme like this at a time when it’s actually popular makes me squirm a little.

But I have to think that the another side of this is the psychological side — it might be good for us to take a good, hard look at 25 points about ourselves. Sharing those things, things we might not be comfortable admitting, could be a catharsis. It could actually make us feel better about ourselves.

Frankly, I don’t think anything, even slightly embarrassing things or even too-personal things, you post to a 25-things list is going to have that much of an effect on your friends. It might help them understand you better, and no one’s going to laugh at you behind your back because, inwardly, they all want to write a list of their own and are just waiting for the invitation to do so.

The perfect epilogue to this little post would be for me to have an answer to the quandary that inspired the post. I don’t. At least, not a complete answer. I’m almost certain to write a list of 25 things, but I’m sure that when the time comes, my mouse pointer will hesitate over the “post” button as I wrestle with these same issues over and over again in my mind. To share or not to share…

Disqus on iPhone

Has anyone else had issues with the iPhone/iPod Touch interface for Disqus? I can’t seem to get the thing to recognize the fact that I have unapproved comments waiting, even when I know for a fact that there are messages waiting to be approved. Even then, being able to click on the messages in the iPhone layout and approve them is hit or miss for me.

Maybe my trouble is unique. Maybe it’s been resolved, too. I haven’t checked back in a few days, but lacking anything else to write about at the moment, I thought I’d throw the question out there.

Once more on the Twitter authority thing

This passage comes from Dan Gillmor’s “Principles for a New Media Literacy,” originally published as part of the Media Re:public project at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard. I think it unwittingly provides a great example of why “number of followers” is a poor gauge of authority on Twitter (and any social networking site).

We have come to learn that the tabloid’s front-page headline about Barack Obama’s alien love child via a Martian mate is almost certainly false, despite the fact that the publication sells millions of copies each week. We know that popularity in the traditional media world is not a proxy for quality.

Original here

Gillmor is spot on. The number of people who buy your magazine or click onto your Web site or add you on Twitter is not a measure of your authority or quality, in the print world or in the digital one.

Journalist Bailout Program

TypePad, one of the biggest subscription-based blogging providers, has offered free pro-level accounts to journalists and ex-journalists. I’m serious. You can check it out for yourself if you want. I already sent them an e-mail asking for an account.

I’m pretty notorious for using WordPress on all of my sites, but I can’t pass up the chance at free stuff. You probably shouldn’t pass up the opportunity either.

Blogging is dead; long live blogging

The Economist put out a short article on Nov. 6, commenting on Jason Calacanis’ retirement from blogging. Calacanis founded Weblogs Inc., and the Economist compares his retirement from blogging to Michael Jordan leaving basketball. It is, in other words, a big deal. Continue reading

The Great Twitter Experiment of Late 2008

As followers of this blog — you few, proud people — already know, I have restarted my Twitter account and am attempting to make some use out of it. This little experiment of mine has been going on for two days now, and I’m finding it much more enjoyable than the first time, mostly because other people I know are actually using Twitter now.

This has been my problem for some time now. I’m an early adopter. I read the tech blogs, find the next cool thing that just went into beta, sign up for an account and explore. Usually, I don’t spend much time with these startups because they are in beta and no one else is really using them yet. (This happened for me and Twine, for example.)

Yet this time is different. Twitter has “matured,” just as Facebook has. And by matured, I mean that millions and millions of people have started using it, most importantly, people I know personally. That adds a lot to the social networking experience — you know, actually connecting with people you have met in real life.

So the Twitter experiment goes on. Perhaps this time it will last.