Facebook knows (us) best

Of all the top social networks Facebook most successfully satisfies our vanity. We’ve all gone online. We want our existence reinforced. Facebook has claimed a monopoly on our actual personal networks. Twitter, Google+ and Diaspora are biased to connecting outwardly, helping us forge new networks. While this is a more noble premise if you believe in the potential of the world wide web, it also makes these networks much more disposable.

I recently allowed my birthday to appear for my Facebook friends. I received over thirty birthday wall posts. This personal and very human connection got me thinking that this is where Facebook’s advantage lies. Only Facebook virtually guarantees feedback on the signals we put out now matter how small our networks. This is because for most we’ve replicated our real life social networks on Facebook and nowhere else online.

Continue reading Facebook knows (us) best

The Promise of Diaspora: The Future of Social Networks

Diaspora was introduced to most as an idea that was to be the open source, privacy focused alternative to Facebook via Kickstarter in 2010. That’s how I learned of it and originally that’s what I expected it to be. Now that the dream is in alpha reality and I have joined the network I can tell you that Diaspora is not exactly an alternative to Facebook (although for some it is). What I’ve come to realize is that Diaspora represents the future of social networking.

Diaspora doesn’t have the luxury of humble beginnings like the great open source success of WordPress. There are too many people who simultaneously love social networking and hate Facebook for Diaspora to evolve slowly and organically. The pressure for features will come from this group. However the most important task Diaspora has ahead of it is to become a connector between social networking sites. Continue reading The Promise of Diaspora: The Future of Social Networks

Bad band marketing on Facebook

I recently clicked on a band ad that intrigued me on Facebook. I’ve given Facebook enough info about myself that the algorithm can somewhat determine I like music of a particular sort. Sure, I do miss the music of the 80s (who doesn’t?). 22k fans. Not bad.

So I get to their Facebook page eager to check out these sounds. They’ve got a big audio player on the page. Great. I click the play button. Instead of sweet synth pulses I get a little popout that requests I ‘Like’ the song (or band, I can barely tell) so I can listen to it.

‘Like’ the track before I listen to it? How could I know I like it? Continue reading Bad band marketing on Facebook

Social Fatigue: How Google+ could dilute social. The return of the niche.

With the hype of Google+ fading we should brace ourselves for it to renew itself when the product officially launches. I’ve been critical of Google’s lack of design as a source of many of its product failures. It seems that they have invested more deeply in visual design for Google+ although I remain unimpressed by much of their infrastructure design. The array of Google apps seems like a messy afterthought. I don’t mean that they’re bad products but the compounding of them and the assumption that everyone will find them useful feels like an even more convoluted version of Microsoft’s mess of business applications. (Note the tangent, let’s move on.)

The tidal wave of techies declaring Facebook and Twitter as defeated by Google+ only highlights that many people just didn’t like these services all that much. I too think G+ does a lot of things better than the aforementioned. The problem for me at the moment is that it won’t replace either Facebook or Twitter. While I do feel Facebook is stagnant it also represents connections with real people I know. I always thought this was the true value purpose of Facebook and I’ve rarely ever friended anyone I haven’t actually met face to face. Twitter in conjunction with the Flipboard iPad app has made Twitter really work for me in terms of consumption. Google+ has devised a way to have the best of real friends and real interests. Both Twitter and Facebook already had these capabilities yet Google takes a rare win for design in making Circles of who you’re following their main differentiation. Even so I now have 3 social networking services open daily. The end result is that I just look at Facebook and Twitter a little less. Continue reading Social Fatigue: How Google+ could dilute social. The return of the niche.

The State of Social Media (as I see it)

Facebook is hemorrhaging American users. It’s been slow to evolve. No good Facebook iPad app? That’s unacceptable for the ‘premier’ social network. Twitter has recently been blessed by all-powerful Apple as the sharing destination. Twitter is an amazing informational resource. It’s also a terrible social network. I held great hopes for Diaspora. I even tried to sign up. It looks like it’s not going to happen and its moment has passed. Ironically Facebook still instigates with its privacy trespasses. I’ve read that Facebook is losing users because of the privacy issues. Not true. People really don’t care about or understand privacy. That’s for elite activists (god bless them.) People are losing interest in Facebook because it has bad User Experience design. It doesn’t easily give them the information they actually care about. Twitter is great and very democratic. But it works better in conjunction with an app like Flipboard to distill all the chaos into a palatable format. I’ve gotten into Instagram. I think it’s more about the effects. It doesn’t seem that great unto itself as a social network except that it sends my pictures to Twitter and Facebook. I’ve come to question why we need Twitter or Facebook to be our hub of social. Google could probably shake things up a bit if not for their ADD/disinterest in terms of UX quality. Apple went with Twitter because it doesn’t see a clear way to eek out profits from really getting into the Social Media game directly. No one wants to buy Myspace. Listen Twitter bots and spammers and marketers. People don’t like ads. They are disingenuous. People can smell them a mile away. It really doesn’t work. It’s why Myspace is crumbling. That need to turn a profit leads to the path of least resistance…advertising. And it is certain death in the social space. Facebook already feels dusty. Are they really giving us something we can’t get elsewhere. They are not. Twitter hit the jackpot by getting into bed with Apple. They can actually sidestep the advertising swamp they may have been heading to by continuing to allow real connections through devices. I believe that there’s a hidden and obvious social winner, still dormant. It’s not Tumblr. Tumblr is a nice and harmless fad. No, it’s WordPress. It still has different concerns and hasn’t tackled social in a meaningful way. But it has the power to change the game in an open source and moral way.

iPad 2 first impressions of a music maker/web developer designer

I managed to acquire the iPad 2 yesterday as Tekserve had the one I wanted in stock (32gig Wifi Only). I’ve had a few key objectives in mind for the device. I want to move the majority of my music making activities and process to the iPad. I also want to see if I can move my web development process (and eventually even my graphic design practice) over to the device.

The music making was an easy win. Thanks to the very affordable camera connection kit I can connect my USB MIDI keyboard devices without any setup making the iPad a very powerful synthesizer. I’d already stocked up on IK Multimedia iPhone apps for guitar amplifiers although with all that Garageband offers I wonder if that was even necessary. Those apps did carry over nicely to the iPad. I use an amazing synth/sequencer app called Nanosynth that also works amazingly on the iPad even if the resolution is fuzzy as it was intended for the phone. I haven’t been making too much music lately and I’m hoping that the casualness and comfort of the iPad encourages me to make more.

I did some searching for web development iPad apps this morning and actually only three quality ones turned up: Gusto, Textastic and Markup. Based on reviews I decided it was going to be between Gusto and Textastic to use for my HTML/CSS/PHP files (usually in a WordPress theme development workflow). I decided that Textastic was going to suit my needs. I had a moment of confusion early in my use of Textastic and I purchased Gusto as well. Unfortunately I found Gusto to be very difficult to get started with and also very crashy. So I dived back into Textastic and realized that my first instinct had probably been right. I’m currently in the middle of theming a personal project using just the iPad for code and I have to say it’s going quite well. In some respects it’s even faster than my desktop process. In others maybe not.

A few things on my web development wishlist for the iPad would be the equivalent of the Web Developer Toolbar Firefox Add-on for iOS Safari. There is no such thing as add-ons for Safari in the iPad as far as I can tell. Perhaps I just need to use a different iPad browser. I really dislike Opera but I’ll have to check if there’s any sort of Web Dev Toolbar in Opera Mobile. Also, I would love to be able to view page source in Safari. Kind of odd you can’t do that. Lack of these things actually does slow down the dev process on an iPad.

20110422-012134.jpgOther first impressions. I think the Twitter iPad app is pretty nice. Honestly, much better than the desktop version. I like that their’s enough screen real estate to have full pages from links show up within the Twitter app. The only catch, is that it was pretty crashy.

I downloaded Flipboard, which I didn’t realize was free. That was a nice surprise. That app seems quite good. Honestly, I haven’t read print magazines in so long I feel a little confused by the traditional orderliness of the layouts it presents. I like waking up and checking Twitter links first thing and I think Flipboard could enrich that experience. They’ve brought back the morning paper for the social age!

I have to say, I was disappointed that there is no iPad specific Facebook app. I suppose Facebook is just fine to use in the browser. I was hoping for some more immersive iPad experience. But that’s just as well. I’m down on Facebook lately and I have a suspicion that they’ve already peaked. Maybe 2010 was the year of Facebook and it’s already over.

What else to report? Its only been a day. The shape is kind of funny. Almost comfortable. Not totally. Or maybe just not yet. One other thing worth mentioning is that now that I’m so accustomed to the iPhone 4’s beautiful screen its somewhat disappointing that the iPad 2 still has the old resolution screen. I assume there’s no way the could have kept the price down if they’d included that high resolution screen.