Posts Tagged ‘Facebook’
Feb 4, 2018. Wilshire Park, Portland, Oregon.
As I mentioned yesterday, I’m scooping things up from Facebook memories.
Feb 3, 2009 (A couple of weeks after Huck was born)
Just said goodbye to my parents (sniffle) and now I’m alone, possibly for the first time, with my OH MY GOODNESS six children.
Feb 4, 2009
Off to a busy start. Speech therapy, piano, Journey North. Nothing like diving right in!
Feb 3, 2010
This moment caught: 9yo sketching amaryllis, the 2 boys playing w/ trains. 11yo reading about B. Franklin. Teen reading Gulliver. 3yo sings.
Jan 27, 2013
Kids tearing through the room, shrieking, swords aloft, while Scott softly strums the ukelele, singing sweetly: I Wanna Be Sedated
Feb 4, 2013
Aw, how cool is this? The Journey North Mystery Class coordinator wrote me to say thanks for sending so many new families their way. Thanks to YOU guys for joining the fun! You know who you are.
Feb 3, 2014
In my statcounter this morning: search hits for “done with downton abbey” and “downton abbey season 4 not believable.”
Feb 3, 2014
Dear new lady in yoga today who said to me, “You’ll understand once you hit 30”: I LOVE YOU.
Feb 4, 2014
Sticky short film preview: “Exiled from the tropical paradise where they evolved, a tiny population of remarkable stick insects dodged extinction by hiding under a single windswept bush on the world’s tallest sea stack for 80 years. Thanks to a dedicated team of scientists they’re now living safely in captivity, but when can they go home?” (2020 note: I never did see the whole film. Must remember to look it up.)
Feb 3, 2017
In the car on the way to piano lessons, there’s a heavy sigh from the backseat.
Rilla: Sometimes…sometimes I just wish I were a mantis shrimp.
Feb 4, 2017
Just read the 2009 NYT obit for Eleanor Perenyi. Have decided that being remembered as a “writer and deliciously opinionated amateur gardener” is a worthy life goal. I’m sure I have a book of horticulture essays in me somewhere.
Feb 4, 2017
This one’s too long to paste: a detailed note about books I was reading/half-reading after two frenzied months of reading Cybils YA Fiction nominees. “Books I have read 1-3 chapters of since January 1st, most of which I do mean to finish eventually.” (Note to self: would be fun to do an update of this post. Which ones did I actually finish?)
I’m in a weird place right now where reading is concerned. I do this sometimes–read the beginnings of too many things and find it hard to settle down to finish something. I could have read three books in the time I’ve been pinballing between a dozen.
I try to be patient with myself when this mood hits, once or twice a year. It’s very common for me to rebound from Cybils reading this way—that fierce two-month drive to read a staggering volume of books. It’s compounded this year by—oh, let’s just say by many factors unique to 2017.
Feb 4, 2018
This one reminds me it’s time to visit Wilshire Park to see if these beauties are back in bloom. I’m guessing yes: we’ve got crocuses popping up all over the neighborhood.
I’ve spent three years groping for ways to talk about things that make us uncomfortable. We’re trained to be polite & avoid saying things that might cause loved ones to feel embarrassed or defensive. I’ve searched and searched for a way to address volatile topics respectfully.
Recently I encountered the following poem via Holly Wren Spaulding’s Patreon, and I was struck to the core by its opening lines, which express exactly what I’ve struggled and failed to find words for:
What etiquette holds us back
from more intimate speech,
especially now, at the end of the world?
Can’t we begin a conversation
then gradually move it inside?
from saying things outright?
Yet we speak of other things.
Our words should cauterize
all wounds to the truth.
Yes. It’s a strange and twisted form of etiquette that prevents us from blunt honesty—a luxury, really, a kind of courtesy that can only be employed by people in a place of relative privilege. The closer the threat, the more urgent the need to speak out. Those of us who are reading about atrocities instead of experiencing them directly have the luxury of choice. Do we speak out, knowing it will upset people we care about? Make for some awkward gatherings? Cause friends to unfriend us?
Those are pretty low stakes, really. Yet that strange etiquette constrains us.
We have to be strong enough to speak. I don’t even mean “speak out”–I mean just plain *speak*. Have the hard conversations. Ask the earnest questions. Probe our own biases. Examine our motives. Interrogate our assumptions.
Here in this vestibule which is the only place I have daily contact with so many of you—if these algorithmed-half-to-death exchanges can be considered “contact”—I want to say things outright.
I want to say: If your values are conservative, how can you possibly support this administration? Why am I not seeing you cry out in the same way your liberal friends and relatives are crying out? Why are you not denouncing obstruction of justice, emoluments violations, executive overreach, and inflammatory rally rhetoric? Why are you not pressing your electeds to investigate misdeeds and corruption? Why do you trust Sean Hannity more than your own loved ones? Where are your voices on behalf of the vulnerable?
Just because I’m sometimes too cowardly to speak these questions out loud doesn’t mean I’m not always, always thinking them. Wanting to shout them.
My cowardice has to do with how I might make you feel. That’s a strange etiquette, indeed. An etiquette that allows corruption to flourish. People are dying today because we’ve been politely speaking of other things, or nothing at all.
I posted an explanation on Facebook today:
A wee reminder. If you are looking for my discussions of books, art, nature, pop culture, homeschooling, and joyful family life, you’ll find that at my blog and on Instagram.
Here on FB, I write (since 2016) almost exclusively about current events and policy. (Occasional book-related announcements, and sometimes quips that later make their way into a real post elsewhere. But 90% policy discussions and political commentary.)
If you prefer my rhapsodies about pine siskins and Betsy-Tacy books, they’re still happening, just not here.
It was HARD to pick just two items for rhapsody examples. 🙂 It’s a long list, my enthusiasms. Fountain pens, Pacific Northwest skies, Cybils books, Lisa Congdon, Cozyblue Stitch Club, sketchbooks, Creativebug, Scott Peterson, poetry, Ritter Sport Bars, Portland adventures, Journey North, Chronologically LOST, the northern flicker at my feeder this very moment, Holly Wren Spalding, Small Meadow Press, raisins raisins all we are is raisins, the Snoopy cast album, the Bravewriter Arrow I’m writing (Harriet the Spy this time), historical fiction, cherry cobbler…you Bonny Glen readers know better than anyone what lights me up. I could link almost every one of those off-the-top-of-my-head items to a post (or many posts) here. I won’t, because that takes too long.
(The WordPress SEO plug-in is constantly yelling about my failure to include internal links. It also berates me for writing long sentences. I laugh and ignore it. I can’t remember the last time I looked at traffic stats for this blog.)
When I was assessing my lapses here last fall, I realized I knew exactly how I wanted to use this space—the way I always have: a chronicle of my enthusiasms and the hilarious or thought-provoking things my kids say. Those are the things I want to remember, and to lavish words upon.
Two years ago, when I became compelled to do some writing about policy and advocacy, I decided Facebook was the best space for that—the place where I seem to connect most directly with the largest number of people. (I have more followers on Twitter, but I seldom tweet anymore. My FB connections are almost always people I actually know, and therefore the chances of a real discussion are higher than in the Twitter flood.)
A while back, I started compiling these little happy lists—the sorts of things I’ve been posting here in the past couple of weeks—in my notebook at first, and now spilling onto the blog. Two years in a row, I had the Flow Magazine “Tiny Pleasures” page-a-day calendar (I miss it!) and it was easy to jot down two or three or ten tiny pleasures of my own on a planner page. But I write to share, and I believe in habits. It’s a habit worth cultivating: recording those little happy lists here where we can talk about them. I mention something, and you mention something back, and next thing you know, Isabella Tree’s Wilding is on my nightstand waiting its turn…that’s what I always loved about blogging, those sparks flying back and forth.
It does feel, sometimes, like half a picture, or an indulgence. Serious and dangerous matters require our urgent attention. I’m doing my best to further discourse (especially around practical policy solutions) and spur compassionate action. I’m…just not doing it here. My kids love to tease me about my passion for containerizing. Show me a jumble and I’ll give you a nice basket. When things heated up after the 2016 election, I realized I needed online containers, too, in order to maintain balance and composure. In order to do the work, but not be consumed by it. In order to keep noticing and celebrating the many riches all around me—those pine siskins, this beautiful book. The way Scott keeps me supplied with specially extra-caffeinated cocoa so I can get up before dawn to write. The way the sunrise begins with deep blue, not the pink or gold you expect. The delight of seeing Bean and Rose walk down the street to have lunch at a favorite café. The broad expanse of crocuses that will bloom in Wilshire Park only a few weeks from now.
The happy jolt I get—still, a year and a half after the move—every time I see Klickitat Street on a sign.
So. Little happy lists here, and serious policy discourse there, and occasional light snark on Twitter, and whatever it is I do on Instagram. (It’s seasonal, I guess? My Stories tend to be a mix of day-in-the-life homeschooling glimpses and Portland adventuring. My grid is 85% swooning over nature. I guess it’s like when I sweep everything off the counter into a pretty box to be sorted later. People who’ve helped me pack for a move know what I’m talking about.)
Do any of you compartmentalize your social media this way? I’d love to hear what balance looks like for you. I know some of you don’t do FB or IG at all, and with Facebook especially I see the wisdom in that.
As a postscript I’ll add that lately, my favorite thing about this blog is clicking the ‘related posts’ button at the bottom. It keeps tumbling me into moments I had no memory of, and I’m grateful for the archive.
I’ve made an uneasy peace with becoming a product sold to advertisers. Now it seems I’ve been a lab rat, too.
The AV Club reports:
Scientists at Facebook have published a paper showing that they manipulated the content seen by more than 600,000 users in an attempt to determine whether this would affect their emotional state. The paper, “Experimental evidence of massive-scale emotional contagion through social networks,” was published in The Proceedings Of The National Academy Of Sciences. It shows how Facebook data scientists tweaked the algorithm that determines which posts appear on users’ news feeds—specifically, researchers skewed the number of positive or negative terms seen by randomly selected users. Facebook then analyzed the future postings of those users over the course of a week to see if people responded with increased positivity or negativity of their own, thus answering the question of whether emotional states can be transmitted across a social network. Result: They can! Which is great news for Facebook data scientists hoping to prove a point about modern psychology. It’s less great for the people having their emotions secretly manipulated.
I uploaded this picture last night, intending to write my usual sort of daily-chronicle post. Then my eye wandered from the rainbows inscribed on the bubble to the blunt, browned ends of the grass and I got distracted by the ruthlessness with which we shear off the tender edges of nature. I wandered off to bed, musing, leaving the post unwritten. (Huck’s finger is much improved, was the gist.)
This morning, after reading the article quoted above (about a different kind of bubble, a ruthlessness altogether unsurprising but disgusting nonetheless), I came back here and found the photo waiting. And now I see that I’m in the picture too, there inside the bubble, taking a photo of the green world on the other side of the film. You could work up quite a metaphor there, obvious, clumsy, but apt: the insubstantial bubbles, the world outside, the illusions of people that aren’t the persons themselves.
But my frustrations aren’t philosophical (of course Facebook was always going to exploit us in every way possible) but practical. The reason a billion people have handed over their (our) data to Facebook is, at heart, a practical one: it’s the most efficient platform anyone has yet come up with for letting us keep in touch with a large number of friends and family at once. We failed at writing letters. Good phone conversations, while satisfying, take immense chunks of time. If you want to keep up with each other’s daily lives, the little things, you have to talk every couple of days (at the least) or else there’s too much ground to cover and you must out of necessity abridge.
Yahoogroups worked, for a while—you could engage in meaningful discourse or chummy banter with a good-sized group of people at once. But generally most of those relationships were new, were forged because of the group, by means of the group. I made some lifelong friends that way (hello, TAMs! hello, Karen!) but (I don’t like that ‘but’; it sounds like a devaluation of the friendships on its left, and that isn’t what I mean at all)—but—but my high-school friends didn’t form a Yahoogroup. My college friends didn’t. We kept to our phone calls, our occasional letters and visits. I read letters six times and treasured them, and didn’t write back, or did but didn’t stop for stamps.
After a while, most of the Yahoogroups I was part of morphed into discussion boards (more efficient, because they allowed for topic-sorting; less efficient, because they required administration and management) or faded into disuse. I think I’m still signed up to forty-odd lists. I get mail from three, and read one and a half. It’s years since I logged into a discussion board.
Then came blogs. Those of us still doggedly blogging for personal reasons look back on 2005 and 2006 with nostalgia: we remember what it was like in those days, less than a decade ago, when we were for the first time opening our front doors and saying here’s my house, come in. We shared too much, made friends, celebrated art and nature, got in fights, copied one another or got furious about being copied—all the same things we’d done on AOL in 1995 and in email groups in 1999, only now with photos of our children. We formed new and very real friendships: real and strange, because we knew (know) so much about each other and have watched each other’s children grow up, and yet we live so far away some of us may never meet. When one of us goes silent for a while, the others worry. Sometimes I’ll think: if she dies, I might never know what happened.
That’s if she isn’t on Facebook. Because that’s what Facebook does better than blogging—connects wide groups of people and spreads news they wouldn’t necessarily publish on any other website—and Facebook is why only a fraction of my friends-who-blogged are blogging still. Facebook IS blogging. It’s everyone blogging at once on the same platform, a platform cleverly managed (manipulated) for purposes we all agree are greedy at best, and not guided by principles that put our best interests remotely near the top of the priority list.
I love Facebook. I hate Facebook. I have loved and hated it since the day I joined. Facebook gave me back friends I had lost: that’s the sum total of my reason for loving it, and it’s immense. All those other platforms brought me new friends. Facebook reunited me with old ones. I don’t need to dress it up in metaphors. I’d lost touch with some of the people I loved best, and Facebook gave them back to me. It gave me what blogging didn’t: daily contact with beloved cousins and old school friends. Every day, it gave (gives) me photos and anecdotes of their lives, their children, their pets, their loved ones, their work. How can I measure the value of that?
If all the people I loved were inclined to blog—to blog about their personal lives, no less—I wouldn’t need a platform like Facebook. Somehow, Facebook accomplished the miraculous feat of convincing all these old friends to blog as we were doing, with oversharing and our children’s faces and outrage and sorrow and delight. And commenting is easier there, it just IS: fast, efficient (it always comes back to efficiency), and rewarded by a heartening LIKE. And—significantly—more conversational. You can reply back and forth quickly, in real-time like chat. Don’t blog comments feel more formal somehow? They didn’t use to. I feel like we used to chitchat more in the combox, but maybe that’s nostalgia. It’s probably just the time delay. If I reply to your comment here, it’s probably a day after you wrote it, and who knows if you even see the reply.
It’s strange, actually, the way we feel safer about sharing our personal stories on Facebook. We know we’re the product there; the evidence is thrust before us every time we open the tab and see a sidebar ad for a book we looked at on a different website the day before. We rail about the way they keep resetting the news feed from ‘most recent’ to ‘top stories,’ we fume at each sneaky privacy-policy change, we wince each time another website wants us to log in via Facebook before we can leave a comment.
But we go back, because that’s where our friends are posting photos of their their babies, their travels, their graduations. Because it’s a mini college reunion every time one of us posts and all our classmates chime in, laughing over an old shared joke. Because we have history together, and we care about one another’s present-day lives. Because if something serious happens, you’re going to tell your Facebook friends before you put it on a blog.
To leave, or to make the decision never to go in the first place (for reasons I respect and with a resolve I may at times envy a little), is to cut yourself off from a certain flow of information. There’s plenty of nonsense and trivia on Facebook, as there is in all forms of human interaction, including some of the best phone calls I’ve ever had. But there’s a great deal of the Real, the Good, the True there too, and it’s that—not simply the dopamine hit, as many theorists would have us believe—that brings us back. It’s genuine curiosity. It’s, to be blunt, love. I love you and I want to know how you’re doing. If Facebook is where you’re showing me, how can I stay away?
I would pay for an ad-free social connection site with no data-mining and no gross user manipulation of the sort revealed in the newly published study described in the article above. (You can click through from the article to the study itself.) But—here’s what I know. I know it’s unlikely a critical mass of my friends and relatives would too. Facebook caught us because it was free, and because there was a numerical tipping point: so many of us are there now, you really are missing something if you aren’t. Which isn’t to say anyone should be there who doesn’t want to be: I wouldn’t presume. As I said, I respect and admire their reasons for staying away.
But I’m a practical person, and I know what I’ll miss out on if I leave. I’m 45 years old and I’ve lived in a lot of places. I love a great many people. As I said on Facebook this morning when I shared the link above—my last act before logging out for a breather—”But how will I get my YOU fix?”
November 12, 2013 @ 8:35 pm | Filed under: Bloggity
Related to the ongoing discussion about blogging and commenting: Lesley kindly shared the link to the little heart-button plug-in she uses at her Bower. Now, I know Facebook’s like button comes in for lots of ribbing, some of it earned. Many people have written about the superficiality of ‘like’ culture. Clicking a button to ‘like’ a cause is a far cry from actually participating in the cause. I get it. But the humble, mockable like button serves another purpose, a kind one, an actually meaningful one. It says: I’ve read this, I paused a moment in my busy day and took note of something you said, I appreciate your words, I’m grateful you shared this thought (or link) with me. It’s quite nice, really, how much companionable message can be conveyed by that quick click. “15 likes” can mean “15 smiles.”
I’ve been noticing this particularly on Twitter of late. For years, I all but ignored the “favorite” button there. I took it literally, understanding it to indicate a truly outstanding tweet, the sort that must by definition be rare. But somewhere in the past year, I realized people had begun using “favorite” as “like.” Quite often, it’s a way to let someone know you appreciated his or her comment even if you didn’t have anything to say in reply. I favorite quite liberally now, just as over on Facebook I like with abandon. And my appreciation is genuine. You’re saying interesting or amusing things, and I like them.
Anyway, I’ve added the like plug-in here, in case you’d like (heh) a way to say hello without leaving a comment. I haven’t yet decided how I want to label it (I’ve left it just ‘like’ for now). Lesley or Sarah, which one of you was it who had a “nodding quietly” button for a while? I liked that designation very much. I’d click a heart for it if I could, and mean it. 🙂
So it seems I hit a little blog lull, quite unexpectedly. I write posts in my head every day, all through the day (it’s why I began blogging in the first place, you know: thinking in narrative is the way my brain has always, always worked)—but lately I seem prone to tossing a thought or a quip or a link onto Facebook instead of chronicling here. And yet I recoil, actually, from the idea of handing over one’s mental activity to the data-miners and the the rushing update stream. I have this looping conversation with myself over and over. If you blog and are also active on Facebook, I bet you know exactly what I mean.
On Facebook, people leave comments: that’s one point in its favor, part of its great appeal. And let me back up and say how much I love certain aspects of Facebook! I champion it often, when people are running it down for being shallow or negative. Facebook gave me what no other medium has: daily contact with my faraway cousins, my old school friends, my coworkers from jobs long past. Very precious contact, actually. Friendships rekindled and deepened. Road trips made merry (and potentially safer) by en route updates, with friends keeping tabs on us and inviting us to stop and stretch our legs as we made our way across the country and back. There are things Facebook can do that this blog cannot.
But: vice versa! Such riches I have tucked into the archives here—family treasures, I mean. Stories I’d certainly have forgotten, had I not recorded them here. A diary of sorts of our homeschooling journey. An annotated reading journal. A commonplace book, with pictures. Oh, I love this blog, what it’s given me. Including the friends: no small matter, that. Facebook reconnected me with old friends. Blogging gave me new ones, and I count those friendships as very real and rich indeed.
I don’t comment on your blogs nearly often enough. I’m still probably among your most faithful readers, though, did you know that? 🙂 I find myself reaching for the like button to let you know I’ve appreciated a post, am nodding my head at your insight or smiling at your joke. On Facebook people snark about the superficiality of ‘likes.’ I understand why, it’s quick and glancing, it’s not saying anything meaningful, it sometimes suggests an unfortunate endorsement of the wrong half of a sentence. (“I got an offer on a YA novel today! But then I fell and broke my leg.” Er, like? No, wait!) But that silly like button serves a purpose. I means I’m here, I’m reading this, I took note of what you said, I’m glad you shared. If I could click a button on Feedly to let you know I’d appreciated a post, you can bet I would. Clicking through to actually comment, now…oh, I wish I were better about it. Sometimes it’s captcha that deters me, or login technicalities. (Blogger gets very grumpy with me when I don’t want to comment as Melissa Wiley’s Official Data-Providing Google Account, which I loathe doing on friends blogs because I’m just Lissa to you, right? And I can never remember my WordPress login on blogs that aren’t mine.) But other times, a friendly comment is an easy click away and I still don’t take the time, because I’m probably reading your post on my phone, and I really really hate typing with my thumbs.
A Facebook update is much more likely to generate discussion these days, at least for me. Of course, Facebook is such a combustible stew of people from all one’s different worlds and walks of life—sometimes I cringe, seeing all my people jumbled up together that way. I’ve tried separating my personal and professional worlds there but it’s flat impossible. Colleagues become friends, and then what do you do? Make them switch accounts? Who can keep up with multiple accounts anyway? Not I.
All of this is musing without agenda: I simply thought I’d try thinking aloud here the way I did in the olden days of blogging. You know, way back in 2006.
For my own amusement, a few of the topics I’ve posted about on social media recently:
• geocaching, which has become our favorite pastime, and I could talk about it ENDLESSLY for HOURS (see one diabolically clever hiding place in the photo above—oh how we shrieked!)
• how I’ve started writing serious poems again, and I really miss my old grad-school poetry workshop mates and the close readings we used to do of our own poems and others
• Coursera classes I’m taking (alone or with various kids), and many many thoughts about how we use Coursera—and actually I have a long post half-written on that subject. It began here (is still in drafts) and spilled over to Facebook, and judging from that conversation I actually have a lot of practical information to share on the topic.
• related: gossip as a vital tool for human survival—one of the many fascinating points of discussion in the Coursera “Brief History of Humankind” class I’m taking, about which I have LOADS OF THINGS to say
• also related: the Coursera “Modern and Contemporary Poetry” course is wonderful and is going a long way to satisfy my ache for close readings, since each week’s lesson consists of video discussions (grad students and professor) of several different poems—one poem per fifteen(ish)-minute video, perfect for diving into in small chunks of time, which is all I have
• a mocking gripe about my internet service provider, not worth recording
• links to various articles, all of which I’ve shared in the sidebar here anyway
• my delight over the first sketches for Inch and Roly #3
• a picture of The Greatest American Hero, which generated more comments than anything else I’ve posted this month
• the sudden realization after all these years that in the Magic School Bus theme song, the guy is not actually saying “Make a sacrifice on Mars.”
• and in the comments of the above, the revelation that “the guy” is none other than Little Richard!!!
• an adorable photo of my boys
• Overheard, Rilla to Huck: “I’m going to teach you three things. The first one is Pounce, and it goes like this.”
Which is, it turns out, kind of a lot.
Well, as you may have heard today, yesterday’s major Facebook changes are nothing compared to what’s coming down the pike in a few weeks. I’m too wiped to recap it now, but I watched the whole hour+ f8 video with Mark Zuckerberg’s big announcement, and WOW. I live-blogged my notes on it as I listened in a series of public Facebook posts. If you don’t have FB but your kids do, you’ll want to know about the new developments. Lots of privacy issues to be aware of!
The Zuckerberg video, explaining the new evolution of the Facebook profile: the Timeline.
• He says FB sees your profile page as “what you’d show someone in the first conversation you have with them.” Well, that’s a key difference in understanding right there, isn’t it? I’ve never seen my FB profile that way—profile in this context means your wall, your info page, your photos. My understanding of a Facebook wall, and I think I’m not alone in this, is where you share things for people you know, people you’ve allowed access into a more personal side of your life. When I meet a stranger, I don’t immediately launch into a personal narrative or pull out my wedding album…
• Zuckerberg on the original FB profile (one photo, basic info, school, work, relationship): “People loved this product…It was the first place that most people had on the internet where you felt safe expressing your real self.”
• Timeline is an interesting concept—it does address the problem of old status updates disappearing into the ether—but he keeps emphasizing how for previous years/months, Timeline pulls only “the most important events” of your life. So…it’s another case of FB determining what “important” means—just as they’ve been determining which friends appear more often in our news feeds.
The rest of my notes are in this long (public) thread on Facebook. It’s way too long to copy here. 🙂
Google+ is, as I’m sure you’ve heard by now, YET ANOTHER SOCIAL NETWORK. It’s Facebook, Google-style: a way to see status updates, links, photos, and videos shared by people you know. I’m laughing as I write this, because I know a lot of people who avoid Facebook like the plague, and many others who only put up with its many annoyances for the sake of direct daily contact with family and close friends.
What on earth, you may be thinking, do we need with another social network?
Well, it seems Google is going to try to convince us their version is better than the others. Is it? Too soon to say, but it has potential. Of course, there’s a bit of a vicious circle at work in the startup phase of any social network: the network is only satisfactory if enough users come on board. Right now, in this early rollout phase, not many folks are there, so it’s a pretty quiet place. But all morning new faces have been popping up on my notifications page. The early adopters are coming.
Here are five things I like about it so far:
1) Clean, simple, uncluttered layout.
No ads! The home page has three columns: on the left, a list of your Circles (more on those in a second); on the right, something similar to Facebook’s Friends sidebar, but Google+ shows profile icons only, not names; and in the center, the equivalent of Facebook’s News Feed—the status updates & links shared by people in your Circles. There are no surprises there; what I like is the simplicity.
2) Fast, easy access to custom-tailored update feeds.
On Facebook, if I want to see what my college friends are up to, I have to click a minimum of three times to get to the screen I want. On Google+, it’s one click from the home page. One easy click—the list of Circles is right there in the left sidebar, as I mentioned above. A “Circle” is the same thing as a Friends list on Facebook—but Google+ seems to recognize that keeping in touch with groups of friends is one of the main reasons people use social networks in the first place. That is, Google+ puts a priority on grouping. You sort your Google+ “friends” into Circles, and you can choose easily between a single Circle (like if you want to see Family updates only) or your entire “Stream”—updates from everyone in all your circles, equivalent to Facebook’s News Feed. The hassle of getting to my individual Facebook friends’ lists is my second-biggest Facebook complaint (their privacy issues are the biggest), so this easy Circles function has huge appeal for me.
3) Easy to decide who sees what.
Sometimes you want to post an update for the whole world to see. Other times, it’s just meant for your family. Or your work friends. Or the small group of people you know who may appreciate a link about a rare flavor of Mentos. Google+ makes custom-targeting of your own updates very quick and easy.
4) No pesky game updates!
For now, at least.
5) Better profile page.
When you click to someone’s Google+ profile, you’ll see tabs at the top:
Posts are like Facebook status updates.
About is your info page, your Google+ Profile. As far as I can tell, this is the same thing as the Google Profile you may already have, if you have a gmail account. Here’s mine, for example. (Even if you don’t have gmail, you may have set up a Google profile in order to log into certain sites.)
If you do have a Google Profile, you may want to give it some attention this week—Google seems to be stepping up Profile visibility, not just via Google+ but also the new “+1” feature you’ll see on Google search pages and other sites from now on. When you plus-one a site, that’s like Facebook-liking it. Your +1 endorsement will show up on Google searches.
This is from a browser that was logged into Scott’s gmail account. You can see that both he (the kittyfrog) and I have +1’d the site in question.
Whether you’re sharing your +1’s or not, people you know might be looking up your Google Profile as they set up their own Google+ accounts, so that’s why I’m saying it’s a good idea to take a look at your profile and see what’s being shown to the world. One particularly nice feature is that you can view your profile the way others see it, to make sure you’re revealing only the information you wish to.
Bottom line: whether you climb on the Google+ bandwagon or not, people are probably going to be viewing your Google Profile!
As for Google+, will I be sticking with it? Well, in all seriousness, that depends entirely on whether a critical mass of my friends and family climb on board. If you all stay on Facebook, so will I—because I’m there to see you, after all.
But for now, one day in, I can say that Google+ is behaving like the Facebook I wish I had.
…despite its being, you know, Facebook.
Scott thought a remark I made in the comments ought to be pulled onto the main page and elaborated on a bit, so here it is. In response to a nice thing Melanie had said, I replied:
I do like thinking aloud about the new media…I tend to be an early adopter, and I’ve tried out loads of things that I didn’t stick with for one reason or another. The way I know something works for me is if I’m still using it a year later. There are many platforms I’ve enjoyed briefly but didn’t find expedient over time (for example, I love the look & functionality of Listography but forget about it for long stretches of time, which tells me it wasn’t quite the right platform for my daily needs).
There are things about Facebook that drive me batty (the privacy issues) but there’s nothing quite like it for staying in touch, is there? I mean, I’ve been on the internet since 1995, active on bulletin boards and email groups from 1995-2008, blogging daily since Jan 2005, on Twitter since 2007—but not until Facebook was I in daily internet contact with my relatives, high school friends, college friends, grad school friends, old work friends, etc. PLUS the interaction with online friends (with whom I became friendly first via boards, lists, blogs, etc), kidlitosphere colleagues, and so forth. And I find I really count on FB to let me know quickly who is safe when, say, a freak tornado touches down in Massachusetts!!
And actually, I think my main point got a bit lost in that paragraph. It’s this: not until Facebook was I in daily internet contact with my relatives. My closest cousins, some of my aunts and uncles, one of my sisters and her husband, my other sister’s daughter, three of my four sisters-in-law, many of my nieces and nephews on Scott’s side. That’s a big deal.
My father is also quite active on FB, to my delight—I seem to Like just about everything he posts 😉 —and he shows my mom all the photos and kid-quips Jane and I post there. But my affection for Facebook isn’t because it lets me share glimpses of daily life with others—as I said, I’ve been doing that via a variety of platforms (including, for a long while, a private family blog) since 1995. What I love about FB is that it, for whatever reason, seems to be the first platform that has compelled a large number of my loved ones to share glimpses of their daily lives online. And I really, really love that. Scott and I have never lived close to our families, and the telephone is not the easiest way for this mom-of-small-children to keep up with loved ones. Appropriate phone-call hours overlap too completely with attending-to-younguns hours.
In my first twelve years on the internet, the people I talked to were almost entirely new acquaintances. Some of them have become very real and dear friends—Huck’s godmother, for example. I’ve met dozens of internet-first friends in person, several of them repeatedly. They’re real friends, and I’m glad to have them in my life. But it wasn’t until Facebook, these past couple of years, that I had the pleasure of seeing, on a daily basis, what my cousins are up to, and my high-school friends, my college friends, my grad school friends…all of them, friends I’ve not lived near since the pertinent graduations, and so many of us busy these past two decades raising our families, attending to our jobs. It would take me hours and hours of telephone time each week to find out what Facebook can tell me in ten minutes.
(Occurs to me I can sum up this entire post with that one sentence.)
Don’t get me wrong—I love those long, gossipy phone conversations. I’m simply unable to manage them very often during this season of my life. And this season has been sixteen years long!
Keeping a blog doesn’t appeal to everyone. Commenting on blogs doesn’t appeal to everyone. For whatever reason— convenience, layers of (hypothetical) privacy, the visual format— Facebook seems to appeal to a much wider swath of people. I love being able to see, with one click, my niece’s prom pictures, a birth announcement from my high-school friend, a link to an article written by a grad-school classmate, and the beautiful wedding photo of one of my very first internet acquaintances—now a real-life friendship spanning sixteen years. I love the reminder that today is my Uncle Eddie’s birthday. Happy Birthday, Uncle Eddie!